Don't Waste Time
Editor: The proposal by Del. Howard P. Rawlings to hav blacks referred to as African Americans in state law is a frivolous waste of the legislature's time when it should be giving serious full-time attention to the more important issues of the budget, gun control, air pollution, etc.
He is also presumptuous of the desires of blacks from Caribbean countries or specific parts of Africa by including them in his all-encompassing category of "African-American." He assumes these people are agreeable to being falsely identified against their wishes.
If you are a citizen of this country you are an American -- not an African-American, German-American, Irish-American, etc. The greatness of this country is that we are the "melting pot" of all races and are Americans first, last and always.
We need not give up our pride of origin, as witnessed by our ethnic celebrations at the Inner Harbor's Rash Field and Festival Hall.
Mr. Rawlings, Carl O. Snowden, Jim Williams of the NAACP and the media should be promoting a cohesive atmosphere instead of using a divisive identification that is provocative and could lead to ethnic strife that we see in Yugoslavia, the Kurds in Iraq and Turkey and elsewhere in the world.
Let us be proud to be Americans first and let our roots become part of the "melting pot."
James E. Haines. Baltimore.
Editor: Your editorial, ''Hard Lesson for the Mayor,'' (Jan. 15 -- prompted me to respond.
It is unfortunate for the students of the city public schools, as well as for the citizens of both Baltimore City and Maryland, that you have chosen to criticize the courageous efforts of Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke to bring about lasting, positive change in the quality of life in Baltimore and in the state of Maryland.
Other than my deep desire to make a difference in the lives of the boys and girls in Baltimore City, the only other reason I accepted what some describe as a ''mission impossible'' was the strong commitment the mayor has made to education.
He has consistently proclaimed education as his No. 1 priority. Mayor Schmoke has recognized that true reform in our city starts with changing our patterns of thinking.
He has tried to redirect our thoughts about education by showing us that we can no longer tolerate funding inequities.
The mayor has tried to give us a new hope and a new self-concept by focusing on the successes of a school system which has been the stepchild of public education in this state for many years.
He has challenged us to aim high, to become ''the city that reads.''
Yet during this difficult period of serious budget reductions, he has been criticized for making a decision which he felt would mobilize the community to demand equal opportunities for children in our city.
He was forced to face the harsh reality that his dream for education in Baltimore must be deferred.
Those of us who work in public education are keenly aware of the preferred status which education has enjoyed throughout recent slashes in the city's budget. As a result of these most recent budget cuts, Mayor Schmoke has now been pushed to the point of forcing our libraries and public education to shoulder an increased share of the fiscal pain.
I would argue that, instead of learning a political lesson as you described, Mayor Schmoke has given us a ''reality check.''
He is telling us that we can no longer do business as we have in the past. He is telling us that unless we place our city and our school system higher on our list of funding priorities, we will have to face the fact that keeping the school doors open is a far cry from adequately educating our future citizens.
Walter G. Amprey. Baltimore.
The writer is superintendent of the department of education for Baltimore City.
Vote Them Out
Editor: The coming economic earthquake can be avoided i legislators heed history and common sense.
The tremors thus stirring, bankrupt city governments, welfare overload, budget cuts, rising unemployment, over-taxed citizens and an obscene federal debt signify a disaster unparalleled since the Great Depression.
Since the majority of our representatives are unwilling to take firm stand to cut spending and balance both state and federal budgets, it is time for citizens to vote them out of office. It is time for the political games to end, for the special interest groups to be quiet and for the greater good of the nation begin.