Smoke ScreenEditor: On Jan. 8 I listened to a...


January 27, 1991

Smoke Screen

Editor: On Jan. 8 I listened to a representative of the Baltimore City public school system explain that the reason city schools could not delay the opening of schools was because of a contract with the transit system. He went on to state that about 30,000 students depend on the public buses to get to school.

Let's take a look at this policy.

The city school system has about 100,000 students. That means about 70,000 kids do not ride the bus to school. When school is closed early because of snow, there are no buses provided for those 30,000 students. They are forced to get home the best way they can.

In addition, when school is closed early, there are young children in elementary school who have no way to get home or no parents at home. Their parents are at work and in some cases cannot leave work to pick up their children.

And what goes on in the schools on snowy days?

There is no meaningful instruction taking place. The students spend their time in school sitting in combined classes or sitting in empty rooms or watching movies until they are dismissed.

A delayed opening would allow parents the time to make arrangements for their children. It would allow teachers, some of whom come from as far as Pennsylvania, more time to get to school. There wouldn't be small children left in classrooms wondering how they are going to get home. There wouldn't be children sitting in classrooms plucking paper footballs instead of learning math.

To say that 30 percent of the school population or that bus contracts determined snow policy is a smoke screen for something else.

I don't know what is behind the screen, but it has nothing to do with the safety of the kids or concern for their education.

This is just one more example of the school system's insensitivity toward its students and staff.

Walter Jones.


The Real Mission

Editor: I read with interest the news item in The Sun Jan. 14 regarding the opening of the Baltimore Rescue Mission's new shelter for the homeless. It is to be commended, together with the many other churches and religious organizations that offer their facilities to men and women without a roof over their heads.

Without this kind of active concern for people, there would indeed be many more people out in the cold than the 2,400 people you estimate are still without shelter in Baltimore each night.

As a retired Lutheran pastor, I am bothered, and even offended, by the Bible study and worship requirement the Baltimore Rescue Mission imposes on those who use their facilities each night. It sounds to me as if God's love for his people is extended only in exchange for certain specified religious exercises.

It has always been my understanding that God's love is freely given to all, and is to be mediated through those who have freely received it. If this kind of religious exercise were optional, I would find it not only less offensive, but possibly even the kind of service a religious group might want to share.

But that is quite different, indeed, than "selling God's love" to those who are down and need compassion more than religious coercion.

A. Lorenz Grumm.


Infantry's Role in War

Editor: In ''War as a Profession of Sacrifice,'' William Pfaff makes some good points. But this statement is outrageous: ''The infantry is the unskilled labor of war, and is recruited from the poor.'' If this is now true, we are doomed to defeat.

The infantry -- the Queen of Battles -- is the part of an army that does most of the fighting. Everything else -- on land, sea or in the air -- exists to assist, support, supply or transport the infantry, directly or indirectly. Besides fighting spirit, the infantry requires incomparably the most complex skills and is recruited traditionally from a nation's aristocracy, or at least a pseudo-aristocracy.

The one other principal fighting arm -- the cavalry (armored or otherwise) -- is also aristocratic. It assists the infantry by performing the missions of reconnaissance, security, screening, raiding, exploitation and pursuit. Its characteristic is extra-mobility.

Both of the two principal fighting arms are assisted by combat engineers and supported by artillery. Both of these involve unskilled labor and are led by less aristocratic officers, however well-educated as technicians.

Because the casualty rate is high for infantrymen, they should be able to replace each other. Besides small arms (rifles, bayonets, grenades, carbines, light machine-guns and many others), my infantry company was equipped with heavy machine-guns, heavy mortars, anti-tank cannon and infantry howitzers. A journalist needs to use only a typewriter and a dictionary. To learn my role as an armored infantry captain in battle, I graduated from the Armored Force School and the Infantry School.

In all armies in all wars, throughout history, the highest percentage of casualties has been among infantry officers, although, of course, the highest number is among infantry enlisted men.

Willis Case Rowe.



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