LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

The Baltimore Sun

Leniency limits chance for learning

In recent weeks, I've seen many stories about teachers who have either been the victim of or been plotted against by students ("Attack on city teacher highlights training gaps," April 11).

And indeed, it is becoming routine for teachers to break up fights and assault situations either in school hallways or even right in the middle of their own classrooms.

Almost every teacher has had the experience of being cursed at by his or her students. Unfortunately, these students seem to face few consequences for such behaviors.

Teachers and students are feeling less safe in the schools. But class sizes keep getting larger as schools continue to make budget cuts.

As class sizes get larger, and some students continue to disrupt learning with their barely punished disrespect and sometimes violent behavior, more and more money is being spent on testing and retesting students -- some of whom make little effort in class because they are too busy disrupting the learning of everyone else.

Why are these misbehaving students getting away with such behavior? And if we are so concerned about the education of our youths, why has our society become ever more tolerant of such behavior?

Many people who do not work in our schools are shocked to hear about the disruption and disrespect our teachers and students are experiencing.

Aren't we as a society disrespecting our education system and our youths by allowing this kind of behavior to go on with minimal punishment?

Angela Glenn, Baltimore

The writer is a teacher at Owings Mills High School.

Chaotic atmosphere promotes violence

Baltimore schools CEO Andres Alonso's suggestion that he would "deal with specifics rather than the notion that the kids are running wild" ("School violence appalls officials," April 10) indicates that he is missing the big picture.

It is not a "notion" that the kids are running wild; they are.

The general chaos created by these kids in so many of the city's schools is what allows the so-called specific incidents of school violence to occur with such ease and frequency.

In the same way that shoplifting becomes easier during a riot, it is far easier to get away with violent, unacceptable behavior when the general tenor of a school building is one of chaos and utter disrespect for authority and one's peers.

Claire Corcoran, Baltimore

The writer is a former teacher in Prince George's County.

Use peer pressure to promote peace

The Sun's editorial concerning the recent attack on a Baltimore school teacher suggests that "making schools safer involves teaching students appropriate codes of conduct and giving them support in living up to them" ("Assault on a teacher," April 11).

Who is supposed to teach students appropriate codes of conduct? Their parents, their church and their family, but certainly not the school teachers.

The only involvement the school teachers and school administrators should have in this question is enforcing swift consequences for those who don't follow school conduct rules.

Much of the discussion about the recent school assault is focused on the girl who attacked her teacher.

But what about other students in the class, the ones who either encouraged the attacker to strike the teacher or stood by without coming to her aid?

Why shouldn't they also be held accountable?

Indeed, perhaps the entire school student body should suffer some consequences.

The military successfully uses such group punishment and peer pressure to change the focus of recruits from "me" to "us."

But where is the peer pressure to enforce proper conduct in the classroom?

Ron Wirsing, Havre de Grace

Indict student on assault charge

The responses of many Maryland politicians and school bureaucrats to the student assault on a teacher in a Baltimore school were ludicrous.

The video clearly shows an assault.

But instead of calling for the student's prosecution as an adult and hard time if she is convicted of assault, some of our politicians and bureaucrats call for meetings and more training for teachers ("Attack on city teacher highlights training gaps," April 11).

Jay Davis, Churchville

Stop marketing violence to kids

When our children start filming themselves doing violent acts ("School violence appalls officials," April 10), it's time to question what adults are doing that allows such behavior.

And when I found out that Rupert Murdoch is getting richer by airing student fights online, I thought, "No" ("Pulling the plug on Web attacks," April 12).

Children emulate what they see and hear.

Legislation is needed, locally and nationally, to put a stop to violence marketed as entertainment.

Theresa Reuter, Benson

State found funds for critical program

Marylanders should be proud that even in tight fiscal times, state leaders found a way to fund a critical program for children.

As The Sun reported, the governor requested an additional $7.6 million for the Maryland Infants and Toddlers Program, which provides early intervention services for more than 13,300 infants and young children with developmental delays and disabilities and their families ("Amid budget struggle, O'Malley ups 'core' spending request," April 1).

After deliberations, the General Assembly reduced the additional amount to $4.6 million - but that figure is still a substantial boost to the program's current budget of $5.8 million.

Both Gov. Martin O'Malley and the Assembly deserve kudos for realizing that this program is a wise investment that will result in better outcomes for individual children as well as reduced costs for special education as these children enter local school systems.

Clinton Macsherry, Baltimore

The writer is director of public policy at the Maryland Committee for Children.

Photo distorts Gaza violence

We were confused and then outraged by the question of what the link might be between the headline of an article that appeared in Thursday's Sun and the picture that ran with the article.

Since the article "2 killed in Israel by Gaza gunmen" (April 10) reported the unprovoked killing of two Israeli civilians by members of the terrorist group Islamic Jihad, one would have expected a photo of the murdered Israelis or their grieving families.

However, The Sun decided to again make the aggressors look like the victims by printing a picture with the article of a Gaza child reportedly wounded by Israeli retaliation.

While a picture is worth 1,000 words, this type of journalism is unconscionable and further compromises the value of the lives of the real, innocent victims of these terrorist murderers.

Mady Frydman

Avi Frydman, Baltimore

Other BGE funds also aid the needy

Jay Hancock's column about Baltimore Gas and Electric's support for the Fuel Fund of Maryland alluded to but did not quantify the other fuel assistance money that BGE makes available through the Baltimore Community Foundation ("This is no time for BGE to fail Fuel Fund," April 2).

The Community Assistance Fund at BCF channels funding from BGE to a variety of agencies in Central Maryland that regrant the funds to low-income clients who have difficulty with fuel costs. Through this fund, BGE is reaching a broader population of needy Marylanders than ever before.

Since 2004, the Community Assistance Fund has distributed $6.9 million in assistance.

This is a significant sum, and must be taken into account when making a genuine assessment of BGE's commitment to its community.

Thomas E. Wilcox, Baltimore

The writer is president and CEO of the Baltimore Community Foundation.

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