Leave Fear Out of the Classroom

January 23, 1991

School officials in Carroll and Frederick counties, their attention fixed on the Persian Gulf, are creating needless war fever on the home front. Out of fear of terrorist attacks, they have banned all field trips and sports team travel (in Frederick County's case) to Baltimore and Washington.

There is no evidence that terrorism is an immediate threat, or any threat at all in these cities.

Young minds are nevertheless susceptible to suggestion, and the cancellation of scheduled school-sponsored events makes terrorism seem very close. The psychological impact of such speculation could even cause serious problems to the more impressionable children in elementary and high school.

Frederick County School Superintendent Noel T. Farmer declared: "We feel there is the potential for worldwide terrorism, especially in the Washington and Baltimore areas." Really? What are the odds? Ten to 1? A thousand to 1? A million to 1? Are the odds greater than being struck by an alcohol-impaired motorist? We doubt it.

Carroll County Superintendent Edward Shilling said he decided to cancel field trips to Baltimore and Washington shortly after war broke out in the gulf. His and Mr. Farmer's impulsive actions, besides inviting fear at home, may keep children away from such places as the Baltimore Museum of Art and Walters Art Gallery in Baltimore, the National Gallery of Art and Smithsonian Institution in Washington. That is quite a sacrifice, considering that many children might not soon have the opportunity to see such collections.

Superintendents Farmer and Shilling should reconsider their decisions. The nation is waging a war on the other side of the world. If we let it dictate our plans and strip us of our happiness here at home, Saddam Hussein succeeds in imprinting his own terror. That is not the price a free nation need pay.

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