City's Overlooked School Libraries
Editor: If you declare the "Enoch Pratt Library Winner," who then are the losers? They are the Baltimore City school system's library media centers.
If Enoch Pratt can spend approximately $300,000 a year for only three centers, acquire 5,000 to 10,000 volumes specific to one program, entice volunteers -- who include students from a major college -- simply to assist with homework, then the school library media center program is not in the game at all.
In 1988-1989 there were 170 Baltimore City public school media centers. The total amount spent by the 149 schools reporting a budget was only $271,393. Seven elementary schools spent nothing for library media. One high school spent $50. Fifteen schools spent less than one dollar per student. Six of those schools spent less than $50.
In professional staffing, 136 schools did not meet the State Department of Education standards. Even today, most elementary library media specialists service two or three schools.
One hundred nine schools did not meet state standards for minimum number of volumes in their library. One hundred eight schools did not meet state standards for minimum number of items per student. Thirty-four schools had less than ten items per pupil. Seven of those schools were high schools.
Children need libraries and they need them where they are. Children are in schools, supposedly with a library media center program that teaches and supports what is taught in the classroom while it is being taught. Children are in public libraries after school, after the teaching is done. There is a need for both. One should not be at the expense of the other.
Baltimore City has little to spend but it is puzzling as to how little is spent on school library media center programs. Perhaps because the media centers are hidden away in the school buildings and are not seen; perhaps because the budget for media center programs is a part of the school's budget and no one knows what it is; perhaps because there is no one to speak for the programs, perhaps because some officials, administrators and even some teachers believe that learning takes place after school. All these are reasons the school library media centers and the children who don't get into them are the losers.
Perhaps it is time to have a Baltimore City Library Coordinating Council so that everyone is a winner.
Rodger R. Mills.
The writer is a library media specialist at Steuart Hill Elementary School.
Editor: Recent statements attributed to the chief of surgery at University Hospital indicate that he has lost sight of the main reason people are promptly taken to the Shock Trauma Center for treatment. The Sun recently reported that he believed that doctors who work at Shock Trauma have a fine reputation for patient care but borderline reputations in academic circles. This comment was made to support his position that Shock Trauma doctors should be placed under University Hospital. His position was subsequently approved by the university's board of regents at a secret meeting.
Given a choice, I believe that any person admitted to Shock Trauma would rather be treated by a doctor who has patient care and survival as the main purpose rather then a doctor who could be preoccupied with how research will be received by his peers. We cannot tolerate having the nation's premier hospital for treatment of life-threating accident victims hindered by bureaucratic conflicts, ego and jealously. I call on our elected official to immediately take whatever action is needed to make sure that Shock Trauma doctors remain an independent unit at University Hospital and that the Maryland public meetings law is amended to require any regents' meeting be open to the public.
Politics and Race
Editor: As a citizen of Baltimore City, I commend The Sun for recognizing the animosity and divisiveness of racial politics, especially in judicial contests. It is time that communities come together in this most courageous of all undertakings. The ability to vote with virtue and resoluteness on the ground of truth, not investment, is a citizen's right.
Michael N. Souranis.
TV Ad Eruption
Editor: In his Oct. 5 column, "The Children's Hour," Richard Reeves makes a strong case for re-establishing legislation limiting advertising during television programming for children. Such standards were eliminated by Reagan administration deregulation.
Mr. Reeves mentions that he watches the deluge of commercials to which children are subjected, "with a certain horrified fascination, the way the people of Pompeii must have watched Mount Vesuvius until the local volcano turned them into statues."
Actually, the victims of Vesuvius were covered in ash and the eventual decay of the organic material left perfect, hollow casts of their bodies. During the excavation of the site these cavities were filled with plaster to form the statues to which Mr. Reeves refers.