The Baltimore Sun

Opportunity for city to show its charms

Dan Rodricks' recent columns have spoken directly to the opportunities for Baltimore in connection with the Base Realignment and Closure process, which will bring thousands of new jobs to this area.

Last week, Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown toured Baltimore's neighborhoods and accepted Mayor Sheila Dixon's plan for attracting BRAC workers and families to the city ("City asks state's help on BRAC," Aug. 2).

Mr. Rodricks' column "Heading for Maryland? Baltimore has its charms" (Aug. 2) suggested 100 reasons for BRAC families to move to Baltimore - from delis and crepes to the Hippodrome Theatre, to still-affordable homes to the variety of activities the city often offers within walking distance.

Mr. Rodricks' column "Solutions for city, solutions for suburbs" (Aug. 5) then reminded us of the daunting challenges that face Baltimore (and all big American cities), but also of the many opportunities we have to grow and thrive.

It also reminded us that our suburban neighbors have as much at stake in the future of Baltimore as Baltimoreans do.

A weaker Baltimore means a weaker Maryland, and a stronger Baltimore means a stronger Maryland. It's that simple.

The way the state helps address Baltimore's challenges, while capitalizing on the unique opportunities abundant in the city, will help define our legacy.

Jon Laria


The writer is president of Live Baltimore, a nonprofit group that works to attract residents to Baltimore.

Crime, school issues drive residents away

In The Sun's article "City asks state's help on BRAC," (Aug. 2), Mayor Sheila Dixon suggests that possible newcomers to the city will not be deterred by the city's struggling school system and its soaring homicide rate.

Without inquiring about the mayor's mental status, I would hope that she would also consider the opinions of the thousands of people who move out of the city each year.

Crime and schools are often their top concerns.

Paul Yeager


Grouping by ability slows achievement

The editorial "Greater expectations" (Aug. 6) reflects the suggestions of a nonprofit group that seeks to advance equity within our schools by "beefing up the curriculum" and "intervening aggressively" to improve low-performing schools.

Citing the particular problems facing African-American youngsters and youngsters receiving special education, the editorial calls for longer school days and longer school years to keep at-risk students from falling further behind.

However, as long as schools communicate low expectations to African-American and special education youngsters by, in effect, segregating them into homogeneous classes, it will be pointless to keep them in school for longer days and longer years.

When our state's education leadership has the courage and political will to identify the practice of "ability grouping" for what it is - segregation of students within a school building - then local school leaders will have a chance of truly making headway with our most needy students.

And they will probably be able to do it within the existing school day and school year.

Harry Martin


The writer was a teacher and principal in the Caroline County and Kent County public schools for more than 30 years.

Limit lawmakers to just two terms

The Sun should be complimented on the excellent editorial "Of Congress and crooks" (Aug. 3).

However, after discussing the financial opportunities that have tempted many representatives, it recommended: "Those now in charge should not only pass the toughest rules possible but live up to the spirit of them as well."

While this idea has a pleasant ring to it, I consider it wishful thinking. It's like asking the fox to watch the henhouse.

It is unfortunate that so many of our congressmen appear intent on making a career out of a long tenure in office so that they can make a fortune by taking advantage of the temptations the editorial revealed.

I strongly recommend that we amend the Constitution to limit the number of terms a congressman can serve, just as we did decades ago to limit the president to two terms.

Quinton D. Thompson


Safety issues key for a new reactor

Constellation Energy Group recently filed an application for a license to build a third nuclear reactor at Calvert Cliffs ("Constellation Energy files partial plan for reactor," July 31).

No new reactors have been approved for decades, primarily as a result of the fears prompted by the nuclear accidents at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl.

The utility will have to reassure the government, investors and citizens that safety issues will receive top priority at any new reactor.

Bill Arwady


All-pro linebacker isn't really a hero

I take exception to the Saturday Sun's banner headline "A Hero Here" (Aug. 4), which referred to Baltimore Ravens player Ray Lewis.

I think the term "hero" is totally inappropriate in this context.

In a world where soldiers, police officers and firefighters risk their lives for lifetime salaries that are less than what a professional football player like Mr. Lewis makes in one year, The Sun should make clear who is a hero and who is not.

Celebrities and sports players are rarely heroes and should not be treated as such by the public or The Sun.

Michael Bozman


Moving billboards a roadside hazard

I found Tuesday's article on Anne Arundel County Councilman Jamie Benoit's bill to restrict "moving billboard signs" a welcome relief ("New traffic hazard: moving signs," Aug. 7).

I have found those signs highly distracting and disruptive, especially when I drive to work before sunrise.

I'd like to thank Mr. Benoit for introducing the bill and for his interest in finding ways to keep us safe on the increasingly dangerous roads in our state.

Coleen A. Hanna


A poignant account of one doctor's fears

Abigail Tucker's account of a physician's journey into war in Iraq was Pulitzer Prize-quality material ("A Doctor at War," Aug. 5).

The article was a moving account of a young doctor from the working class with a pile of medical school debt.

To get the government to shoulder that debt, she joins the military, and is sent to Iraq, via Baltimore, to tend the wounded and the dying.

Ms. Tucker's writing reveals a deeper layer to the story - a confrontation with the doctor's fears of death and dismemberment.

Through Ms. Tucker's aware eyes and vivid prose, that confrontation becomes our own.

I cannot imagine how this story could have been told more powerfully.

Kudos to Ms. Tucker and to The Sun for printing the article.

Phil Marcus


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