School leaders must be responsible
I do not agree with Baltimore schools CEO Andres Alonso's statement that "this essential work of making safe schools cannot be done by the administrators, teachers, staff or students at each school alone" ("City schools seeking helpers," April 15). It is precisely these people who make or break a school.
Although it is commendable when families and community members rally around a school, it is ultimately up to the administrators, backed by the board of education and the superintendent of schools or schools CEO, to enforce the rules and regulations of the system.
Volunteers should not be used to police the situation.
The horrible beating of a teacher by a student while others watched is an event that could have been prevented, if disruptive and violent students got the message from the very beginning that they would be prosecuted, that they would be banished from the school system permanently and that their names would be published in the newspaper.
Teachers should not have to walk on eggshells in a classroom setting, either fearing for their own safety and that of the students or worrying about a reprimand because they somehow could not defuse a volatile situation.
The administrators of the school should be there to offer immediate support to teachers, and the students need to see that they are there.
It is the school administrators' responsibility to be accountable for what happens within the school walls.
Barbara McNamara, Joppa
The writer is a former teacher's aide in the Harford County public schools.
Remove students who disrupt others
I hope Baltimore schools CEO Andres Alonso doesn't really see volunteers as a solution to the violence in our schools ("City schools seeking helpers," April 15).
Band-Aid solutions only allow the problem to fester.
Students who disrupt learning and foster violence and disrespect in our schools need to be removed from the schools. If that happens, the schools will have no problem recruiting volunteers.
I am not suggesting that we put these students out on the streets.
I am suggesting that we send them home to the parents who are responsible for forming their character.
If those parents are nonexistent or dysfunctional, then we need to develop alternative "schools" that assume the roles that parents have failed to fulfill.
These schools need to be residential and, if necessary, long term and committed to genuine and, yes, expensive psycho-social services to truly impact students' behaviors.
The neighborhood school cannot and should not be focused on providing such services. It is primarily an educational institution.
The more we dilute this function by trying to make our schools embrace all the problems of our society, the less able we will be to truly provide the education that the majority of our students deserve.
Peggy DeBoy, Catonsville
The writer is a former Baltimore County schoolteacher.
Forced diversity is simply unfair
Instead of jumping on the feel-good bandwagon, The Sun should consider that perhaps there simply aren't many blacks, women, Asians or Hispanics applying for faculty positions at the Johns Hopkins University ("Broadening the faculty pool," editorial, April 14).
Forced diversity only eliminates the educated and experienced but not politically coveted white males.
Qualified people of any race or gender will naturally find employment or be recruited for their merits. Intervention from social engineers and guilt-ridden white liberals erodes quality, lowers standards and, in many cases, expands government.
The Sun's editors need to jump off the feel-good bandwagon and re-enter the real world where natural selection, free-market incentives, motivation, self-sufficiency and determination are the keys to success.
Thomas Sjolander, Abingdon
One more death in Iraq a mistake
Finally the truth is coming out: Brian Katulis and Matthew Duss have exposed Gen. David Petraeus' faulty analysis of the situation in Iraq and his failure to admit the dangers Iran holds for our country ("Strategic confusion," Commentary, April 11).
After our loss of more than 4,000 troops in Iraq, how many more does General Petraeus intend to risk before he will admit the truth?
The election of a new president willing to commit himself to return our troops to their families is the only solution.
The time is now, not later.
One more death of an American soldier in Iraq is unacceptable.
Walter Boyd, Lutherville
Renovated library a real treasure
I was stunned to see the restored and renovated Roland Park branch of the Enoch Pratt Free Library treated as the poster child for "inferior architecture" in Rene Muller's column "Inferior architecture for culture in decline" (Commentary, April 14).
As someone who frequented that library as a child in the early 1950s, I am absolutely in love with the new and vastly improved version of that branch.
Having gone there a week before its official opening to use its fine new computers, free with a library card, during a breakdown of my laptop, I immediately renewed my long-lapsed card, borrowed a shopping bag's worth of books and e-mailed my out-of-town family members that they must be sure to visit this wonderful new/old venue the next time they're in Baltimore.
I should add that the Roland Park branch is not the one closest to me. I live a couple of blocks from the Waverly branch. There's nothing wrong with the Waverly branch, and there I wouldn't have to worry about parking.
It's just that the Waverly branch is not uniquely delightful - and the Roland Park branch is.
The Roland Park library is beautiful, functional and welcoming.
Certainly there are a few glitches, such as the absence of ample space for a long line of patrons at the check-out desk.
But wait: Isn't the long line a testimony to how much people love to use this library?
Clarinda Harriss, Towson
The writer is an English professor at Towson University.
Facade, function smartly combined
Regarding the refurbished Roland Park branch of the Enoch Pratt Free Library, Rene J. Muller suggests that the original version of the building, "with its synergistic, neoclassical elements, made a strong aesthetic statement that could be parsed in one take" ("Inferior architecture for culture in decline," Commentary, April 14).
In fact, those Palladian windows made the squat building look like some pompous chateau outhouse. Inside, it was hopelessly inadequate to today's community needs.
I think the renovations are to be applauded for the fine job they do of integrating contemporary needs with architectural nostalgia and facade with function.
Ingrid Krause, Baltimore
Tweaking 'Joisey' wasn't very funny
The Sun's feeble attempt at New Jersey humor disguised as a defense of Harford County does a disservice to both places ("Harford in Joisey eyes," editorial, April 15).
First, it's "Jersey," not "Joisey."
And most people there don't dot their conversations with "Yo."
In addition to the environmental and crime challenges that exist in that state, some of the most active and committed volunteer nonprofit groups in the country do incredible work in New Jersey.
Some future transplants to Maryland are apprehensive and unhappy with the change; that's understandable.
Why not help Harford County welcome residents instead of offering them a reason to dislike their new neighbors?
Finally, The Sun's editors might want to check a map: Fort Monmouth is not located in northern New Jersey, home of the Sopranos.
It is in central Jersey, closer to the beaches and boardwalks.
That's akin to stating that Hunt Valley is home to the characters of The Wire.
Christine A. Rowett, Catonsville