Schools: El Paso Shows the Way
Many thanks for publishing Ginger Thompson's enlightening and encouraging April 27 piece on how Hispanic students in an El Paso high school are excelling academically in spite of economic deprivation and a low per-pupil expenditure of $2,800.
Many teachers, students and parents at this school are obviously infused with a common sense of purpose and an unwillingness to accept the inevitable educational decline most Americans tend to automatically equate with "disadvantaged" urban public schools. It was particularly timely in that it appeared directly on the heels of an equally absorbing piece on David Hornbeck in The Sunday Sun.
In my view, Ms. Thompson's article dramatically points out how much more important intangibles such as teacher creativity, parental interest and students' respect for academic achievement and authority are to the quality of American education than educational budgets or how much is spent per pupil.
We need go no farther than Baltimore itself to see that even some of its "poorest" schools, such as Poly, which only gets something like $3,600 per pupil, can graduate superior students from all backgrounds, given the proper educational climate and personal commitment on the part of teachers, students, parents and alumni.
If school Superintendent Walter Amprey is to halt and eventually reverse the city's educational slide, he will ultimately need to succeed in motivating teachers, students and parents to embrace and follow the El Paso example -- a tall order indeed in today's apathetic, materialistic and socially explosive pop culture.
He is an impressive individual who has made a promising start and who also has more money to work with even as the system continues to shrink. Now he must do whatever he can to energize the school system and the community at large with a common sense of mission and a can-do spirit. If he aims high and remains impatient for change, he may just succeed.
As a parent of two budding engineers who were themselves very recent products of Baltimore's public educational system, I give him my full backing. I stand ready to do whatever little I can as a citizen volunteer to help turn things around, even though I haven't been particularly involved before and was rarely asked to help when my kids were in school.
Hopefully, others will come forward, too. After all, as Ms. Thompson's article quoted a leading light behind the El Paso success, "It's people, not programs, that make a difference. The best programs in the world, run by insensitive people, won't work."
Get Ready for More of the Same
Upcoming elections have brought forth a number of schemes to remedy our mortally wounded health-care system. Many incumbent and aspiring platforms impress us with utopian programs to guarantee equal access to quality care. What an unattainable dream!
Unfortunately, state and federal government legislation is not determined by our elected officials. The determining forces are those of special interest groups, lobbies and PACs. It is therefore not surprising that the two wealthiest lobbies in Washington are insurance and organized medicine.
In 1991, the insurance conglomerate spent $16.59 million and health professionals $13.45 million to influence legislation, according to Larry Makinson of the Center for Responsive Politics.
Why should these powerful PACs want significant change in health care? Both industries enjoy an affluent, comfortable lifestyle. Neither group is so altruistic as to compromise this favored position.
Undoubtedly, status quo remains the name of the game. Get ready for more of the same in the foreseeable future.
William H.M. Finney, M.D.
Baltimore Using addition by subtraction, the Baltimore City Police Department is implementing the foot patrol program.
That's like taking material from the basement wall to fix a hole in the roof.
Get With It
A recent letter regarding the new stadium published in The Sun blasted Gov. William Donald Schaefer and others for getting free passes and the stadium contractors for being allowed to purchase up to 125 tickets for opening day.
Come on! These are the people who labored for years to make our new stadium a reality on time and on budget. And yes, they did get paid for their work, but that's not the point. Instead of showing appreciation for their vision and hard work, the writer proposes that they're just lazy fat cats getting a free ride and should be denied a day to celebrate.
This is further proof that Maryland has indeed become a state of complainers. Everything is wrong and it is always someone else's fault.
Many citizens blasted government for proposing the stadium. When Oriole Park became a successful reality these same people applauded it, but gave no credit. It is time for Marylanders to take responsibility over their own lives and to work to made a positive difference in their communities.