LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

The Baltimore Sun

Schools obliged to offer support

I applaud Gregory Kane for his insistence that students enrolled in high schools with academic entrance requirements take responsibility for their academic and social success. Indeed, all students should attend school with such a sense of responsibility ("There's no room for hand-holding," May 28).

I fear, however, that he missed the point of Baltimore schools CEO Andres Alonso's insistence that these schools demonstrate support for these students before dismissing them from their programs. Mr. Kane calls such support "hand-holding." I call such support the schools' responsibility.

As teachers, it is our responsibility to meet our students where they are and support them through the challenges they face. Sometimes that support takes the form of counseling students to leave a program. But no responsible teacher would give up on a student without offering a reasonable amount of support.

I would also remind Mr. Kane that students can access a variety of supports in college, from office hours with professors to counseling centers. I don't see why we would deny any youngster the same sort of support in high school.

Mr. Alonso should be commended for insisting that students must succeed and that schools are expected to support them in doing so.

Wallace Tidwell appears to have been a model boot camp instructor for Mr. Kane. But when my sons attend high school, I would prefer that they be taught and supported by real teachers.

Paul J. Norfolk, Eldersburg

The writer is an administrator for the Howard County public schools.

Mandates hamper magnet schools

While I applaud the efforts of city schools CEO Andres Alonso to steer the Baltimore schools in the right direction, I'm disturbed by his recent decision to handcuff magnet schools' ability to remove under-performing students ("Magnet schools face tighter rules," May 26).

As a former teacher in the city schools, I've seen first-hand the impact of such a policy.

Allowing failing and disruptive students to remain in an accelerated curriculum inhibits instruction and degrades standards. In the process, it will force schools like Baltimore Polytechnic Institute and City College High School to devote much-needed resources to the needs of a few under-qualified students at the expense of attention to many other students.

These magnet schools exist to challenge advanced learners. Mandating that they keep students who cannot meet the requirements of the curriculum will dilute the academic rigor exemplified by our high-performing schools while exposing those schools, in time, to the myriad problems currently plaguing our city's zoned schools.

When it comes to the education of our students, there can be no middle ground between the feel-good philosophy of liberal public education and common sense.

M.M. McDermott, Baltimore

The writer is an alumnus of Baltimore Polytechnic Institute.

Time for Clinton to accept defeat

As a longtime supporter of Sen. Hillary Clinton, I'm surprised and saddened by her obstinate refusal to recognize and gracefully accept defeat by an extremely able and charismatic opponent ("Obama moves closer to win," June 1).

We already have a stubborn, inflexible president; we certainly don't need another one.

Robert A. Ritchie, Timonium

DNC denigrates democratic values

Exemplifying its own worst traditions, the Democratic Party on Saturday trashed both the sanctity of the vote and the principle of one person, one vote ("Obama moves closer to win," June 1).

Meeting in Washington, the Democratic National Committee denied the Florida and Michigan convention delegations half the votes they should have been allotted.

Then, to add insult to injury, the DNC took away delegates Sen. Hillary Clinton had won in Michigan and arbitrarily awarded some uncommitted Michigan delegates to Sen. Barack Obama.

Although the DNC rules would seem to prohibit awarding delegates to a candidate who did not earn the delegates at the ballot box, the supporters of Mr. Obama at the DNC apparently found this no impediment to their abandonment of the basic principles of democracy.

William T. Fidurski, Clark, N.J.

Compromise shows respect for process

The Democratic National Committee's ruling on seating the Florida and Michigan delegations ("Obama moves closer to win," June 1) is right for a number of reasons.

Both states are swing states, and it would be wrong to disenfranchise completely those who did go through the trouble of voting. At the same time, the ruling shows there will be punishment for those states that tried to get around the party rules to vote early.

This ruling shows a respect for the rules of the process.

With this issue behind us, and the primary season coming to an end, Democrats must unite for what will be a formidable challenge from Sen. John McCain.

Steven M. Clayton, Ocean, N.J.

McClellan's claims come way too late

There is a legal maxim taught early in law school: "He who is silent when he should have spoken shall not afterward be heard."

This is very appropriate in the case of President Bush's former press secretary Scott McClellan ("McClellan isn't 1st aide to tell all," May 30). And one is inclined to wonder how many others will duplicate this kind of book-writing effort to make money from their White House experiences.

The president is basically a decent man. But many of those he has chosen to assist him over the last eight years have been duds.

This experience should be a warning to whoever becomes the next president to be extremely cautious about who they select to work with.

Richard L. Lelonek, Baltimore

Touching the tip of iceberg of lies

The Sun mirrored many of its counterparts in the media by giving time and space for some members of the Bush administration to rebut former White House press secretary Scott McClellan's claims in his new book ("Book Retort," Commentary, May 30).

I suppose space considerations would not have permitted a listing of the iceberg of lies by the Bush administration - an iceberg that Mr. McClellan's book only touches the tip of.

It is truly amazing that the press believes anything that comes out of this White House, which long ago proved itself unworthy of public trust.

Mr. McClellan's observations would better have served the public interest had he voiced them sooner. But they provide yet another damning indictment of the most disgraceful presidency in history.

Tim Eastman, Baltimore

Funding protects the public health

The medical device and diagnostics manufacturers that belong to our trade association support The Sun's view that the Food and Drug Administration should receive an extra $275 million in funding to help ensure the safety of products imported into the United States ("Guarding health," editorial, May 22).

With these funds, the FDA will be able to hire additional scientists and inspectors, expand its scientific training and strengthen its science programs to allow it to regulate new and complex products effectively.

The FDA has the vital responsibility of ensuring the safety and effectiveness of America's medical technology products.

These additional resources will help it continue to meet this mandate.

Stephen J. Ubl, Washington

The writer is the president and CEO of the Advanced Medical Technology Association.

10 years in jail just not enough

The sentence given to the killer of Jennifer Bower and Marine Cpl. Brian Mathews was far too lenient ("Fatal-crash driver is given 10 years," May 29).

Justice was not served.

Barbara Marks, Ellicott City

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