Inspirational Self-EducationEditor: Though there may be...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

December 23, 1991

Inspirational Self-Education

Editor: Though there may be valid arguments against closing Baltimore City public schools for a week as a way to trim the budget, one of them cannot be that a loss of classroom time would threaten the educational process.

Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke's recommendation of independent study educationally sound. Each student should file a proposed plan of activity for the week and document the experience afterward.

Students should pick a topic in which they have an interest. Even the youngest could participate. It needn't be an academic exercise. Community service and business internships offer students a way to get involved in real-world experiences.

February would be an excellent time for older students to visit Annapolis and watch our legislators in action.

Students could interview older family members for an oral history, explore a literary theme, tutor younger children, organize a neighborhood study group. The possibilities are endless.

Of course, there are those who would squander the chance to do something meaningful.

But there are many, many more who will benefit from possibly the first opportunity ever offered to take charge of their own learning experience. Initiative and responsibility are required to survive and prosper in the adult world. Children need practice.

We can turn a school closing in February into a model of educational innovation that will inspire greater funding from all sources.

Malissa Ruffner.

Baltimore.

Universal Training

Editor: It was Associate Justice Owen J. Roberts who was appointed by President Roosevelt to head the commission to investigate the Pearl Harbor disaster and not, as you state in your Dec. 3 editorial, ''the chief justice of the United States.''

After he retired from the Supreme Court, Justice Roberts, in 1946 and 1947, headed the National Security Committee, a private organization working for universal military training (UMT) as a function of universal training for all young men. It comprised about 40 national organizations aggregating more than 20 million members. Joseph Clark Grew, our ambassador to Japan at the time of Pearl Harbor, and later under-secretary of state, was vice chairman of the committee, and the writer was executive secretary.

The justice and I met with President Truman four or five times, and on another occasion I accompanied Mr. Grew to the Oval Office. Each time the president would leave his desk and come forward to greet us. In response to his greeting, ''Hello, Mr. Justice, how are you?'' Mr. Roberts in his great booming voice would say, ''All the better for seeing you, Mr. President.'' (I crib that response on very special occasions.)

What happened to UMT? Well, with high expectations we were waiting for Congress to pass the legislation when Czechoslovakia went behind the Iron Curtain, and the Army decided it needed Selective Service -- which the NSC did not support. Result: Congress passed the UMT and Selective Service Act. The Army made a feeble attempt to carry out the law but the two proved incompatible.

Now that the Army is a volunteer service like its colleagues the Navy and Air Force, UMT might be considered again -- this time as a part of universal training for all young persons.

#Worthington J. Thompson.

Snow Mill.

Bill of Rights

Editor: Please allow me to differ with Ernest B. Furgurson who said that when our Bill of Rights was ratified, ''no other country had one.''

The Bill of Rights, was passed by the first Continental Congress which, while drafting it, used and was guided by England's 1689 Declaration of Rights.

Many rules embodied in the Declaration of Rights and subsequently in our own Bill of Rights came from Great Britain' Magna Carta. These were rights granted by King John on June 15, 1215.

Frank Novak.

Baltimore.

Sun Errors

Editor: Errors appeared in the Dec. 2 story, ''Kathleen Kennedy Townsend gives birth to fourth daughter.'' Her husband, David Townsend, was first appointed by me in 1974. His appointment was to St. John's College, not to St. John's University. The location of the college is not Washington but Annapolis. I am really surprised that The Sun made these two errors.

Richard D. Weigle.

Annapolis.

The writer was president of St. John's College, 1949-1980.

Duke's Spots

Editor: Tom Bowman's Dec. 10 article on David Duke's Maryland supporters dismissing his past as errors of youth belies the old truism, ''A leopard doesn't change its spots.'' Inasmuch as Mr. Duke's racist activities continued (according to the article) into the late 1980s, one would have to be very hard-pressed to believe his views have changed one iota. Experience has taught us that prejudices are inbred and never disappear.

Norton B. Schwartz.

Baltimore.

Support of Wetlands

Editor: I would like to commend Rep. Wayne Gilchrest for his strong position of support for our nation's wetlands. Mr. Gilchrest was willing to request a scientific study of a wetland definition rather than make an expedient and political vote against wetland protection.

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