A letter on the editorial page of June 13, "Ignorant...


June 13, 1991

A letter on the editorial page of June 13, "Ignorant Views," failed to identify the writer, Dr. Bruce A. Hershfield. He is president of the Maryland Psychiatric Society.

The Sun regrets the error.


Ignorant Views

Editor: Roger Simon's May 31 column in The Sun concludes, ''1. Psychiatrists are the craziest people on earth. 2. And if their children are even crazier, I never want to eat dinner with them.''


This fills me with sadness.

He bases these conclusions on his memories of a dinner-time conversation with one psychiatrist. He admits his only previous acquaintance with a psychiatrist was with one ''who didn't seem significantly crazy, but she was just starting out in the profession and still had time to grow.''

Since the 18th and 19th centuries, men and women of decency and compassion, including thousands of psychiatrists, have tried decrease the stigma attached to mental illnesses and to encourage people to cast off their fears and prejudices in order to ask for help. In the last 40 years in particular, psychiatry has made great strides toward understanding mental disorders and relieving the immense suffering they cause.

People die -- unnecessarily -- and their families suffer tragically when they share these ignorant and harmful views.

Bruce A. Hershfield, M.D.



Gender Realism

Editor: In ''Puritanism, Fascism and the University,'' William Pfaff goes on a tirade against what is now popularly known as ''political correctness.''

I agree that in some universities free speech has been suppressed in a misguided attempt to force progressive virtues upon students. This is wrong and deserves a tirade.

However, Mr. Pfaff missed the point. There is such a thing as using inoffensive language. If we can use language which includes different groups and avoids offending them, why shouldn't we?

This does not necessitate constantly alternating ''mankind'' and womankind'' usage, as in the example Mr. Pfaff gives. Of course that would be tiresome. But how about using ''humanity,'' ''humankind,'' ''person,'' ''individual,'' and ''one?'' All sentences can be converted to inclusive language.

As a university student, I myself have been consciously trying to do it. I know I feel offended by statements (intended to be ''general'') which use only ''he'' or ''himself.'' This does not make me a raging feminist but simply someone who recognizes herself as a woman and not a man.

Mr. Pfaff says this practice is ''as old as language.'' The fact that a practice is old does not render it good or necessary. If part of the population finds it offensive and it is easily eliminated, it seems silly and nostalgic not to do so.

Sharon A. Nelson.


Testing Mania

Editor: The new Maryland School Performance Tests were given to all 3rd, 5th and 8th grade students from May 14 to May 24. It required nine hours of direct testing -- three hours for math and six hours for reading and writing.

The Maryland State Department of Education must carefully re-examine the amount of instructional time that is lost and the time of year that the test is given.

For nine days, the instructional program of every elementary and middle school in Maryland was turned upside down. Schools were purchasing compasses, protractors, calculators and an assortment of other supplies required by the test.

Teachers were fighting their way through testing manuals daily. Students were faced with a testing format and content for which they had not been prepared. Add to this state of confusion and high anxiety the fact that the temperature was near or above 90 degrees and the humidity was equally high every day.

Teachers and students were in a very difficult situation, thanks to the poor planning by the State Department of Education.

The testing mania is alive and well in many Maryland schools. For example, in Baltimore County, in addition to the nine hours of the Maryland School Performance Test, eighth grade students spent more than three hours taking the Differential Aptitude Test (DAT), and more than five on the Comprehensive Test of Basic Skills (CTBS).

Testing is necessary to evaluate learning. Too much testing, however, destroys the desire to learn.

The State Department of Education and the local school systems need to get a handle on the testing program that is out of control in Maryland schools.

The General Education Diploma (GED) test takes only eight hours. The Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) takes only two-and-one-half hours. Why should the Maryland School Performance Test take nine hours, with science and social studies yet to be added?

Too much time and money are being spent on testing. More time and money need to be spent on learning.

Ray Hoffman.


Holocaust: Past and Present


Editor: While it is understandable that the Jewish community would be upset by the desecration of the Holocaust Memorial by homeless people, there is a need for insight into the scope and causes of the problem.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.