School NewsIt is a crying shame that a positive, upbeat...


September 17, 1992

School News

It is a crying shame that a positive, upbeat school opening last week had to be marred by the media's grasping at the thinnest threads to create negative sensationalism.

Ignoring the appropriate authorities, TV and newspapers chose to blow out of proportion an unsubstantiated report by an unstable 14-year-old that she was accosted in Patterson High School's lobby by a youth who supposedly had a gun tucked under his belt.

The fact that the principal was supervising the scene at the time the alleged incident was supposed to have occurred was reported by only one TV station and then it was distorted.

As of this writing, three days later, the child has not returned to school, nor was she home from school by 7:30 p.m. the evening of the report. Was the child's report motivated by a desire to get out of school?

School police have been unable to locate a parent after visiting the neighborhood. There's no phone. Neighbors said the mother was "in court with another one of her children."

The child's story changed from the first day, when she merely mentioned the incident to a teacher shortly after it was supposed to have happened.

There was no lack of composure, her clothing was not in disarray and police had to seek her out on the second day to obtain the report which seemed to have been embellished with some imaginative additional details.

The media's irresponsible reporting managed to alarm parents who flooded the school with calls about their youngsters' safety, and attendance decreased because it gave students an excuse to stay home.

Talk show hosts then had something to chew on during a slow news week. Had any of them called the principal of the school, they would have learned there was no grist for their mill.

It should not surprise anyone that, in keeping with their negative approach, the media chose to emphasize the percentage of absenteeism on the first day rather than the increased attendance over previous years.

Reporting later on a student with a gun at Harlem Park Middle School, the media chose to resurrect the unconfirmed story about Patterson and to include irrelevant details about the "Tesseract" connection.

Had a child brought a gun to a shopping center or a church (and they probably do) the media would probably have ignored it.

Frank Z. Thomas


A5 The writer is principal of Patterson High School.

Missing Credit

Your editorial, "Reinventing State Government" (Sept. 6), was right on target, except for one vital omission.

While referring to Gov. William Donald Schaefer's new initiatives and Maryland House Speaker R. Clayton Mitchell Jr.'s "flurry of ,, ideas," you failed to note that Lt. Gov. Melvin Steinberg has been advocating exactly these initiatives and ideas for at least two years now.

Apparently our state's leaders have finally begun to listen to the man who has long preached the absolute necessity for a sweeping overhaul of state government.

In every speech I have heard, Mr. Steinberg has decried the nibbling approach taken to date by the state in attempts to meet fiscal problems. Your editorial reads like a transcript of Mr. Steinberg's realistic approach to needed changes in the structure of Maryland's government.

Now that someone is listening, isn't it time Mr. Steinberg was at last given some credit for his courage and for his clear vision of what is required for the future of our state?

Malcolm L. Jacobson


Read Closely

During the past several years, I have noticed an increasing number of errors not only in The Sun but in just about everything I pick up to read. What is the problem? Are American typists getting dumber?

The answer is no. What we are doing is being too trustworthy of our computers. We are using the spellcheck on the computer and feeling satisfied that everything in the document is spelled correctly and that, therefore, the document is perfect. Wrong!

What happens is that everything is spelled correctly but there is a mistake in the content of the document. If you will reread the letter from J. G. Beck entitled "Sun Errors" (Sept. 1), you will notice that none of the sentences he quotes make any sense.

But you will also notice that there is not one spelling mistake in any of the error examples presented.

Typists need to be made aware of the fact that we really are more intelligent than our computers. (That's good news!) What typists need to do is use the spellcheck, feel satisfied that everything is spelled correctly and then read the document for content.

People are not infallible, and believe it or not, computers are not infallible. God is infallible. People have intelligence, and computers are only as intelligent as the people who operate them.

Have a good dad! Whoops! After using the spellcheck, I did feel satisfied that everything was spelled correctly and everything is spelled correctly. But, I'm sure glad I read this letter for content. You know I really meant to say "Have a good day!"

Mary C. Schuerholz


Navy is Combating Alcohol Abuse

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