Honest DebateI was extremely pleased to read Michael...


July 28, 1993

Honest Debate

I was extremely pleased to read Michael Burns' column July 17 about Baltimore County School Superintendent Stuart Berger. While I totally disagree with his diatribe, and I was shocked that Mr. Burns would put Dr. Berger's daughter into the fray, I was very pleased by the article.

My pleasure stems from the fact that Mr. Burns is incredibly honest. The debate about the Baltimore County school system is not one about communications, style or implementation, but rather about fundamental educational policy.

Mr. Burns raises a number of issues worthy of debate. Certainly, people are entitled to differing opinions about inclusion, the school breakfast program, the demotion of certain administrators, and the school calendar.

What is appalling, however, is for those people to disguise legitimate substantive disagreement as a matter of style.

The reason that this subterfuge has been taking place is that most people refuse to admit that they want the school system to remain status quo.

Unlike Mr. Burns, those individuals do not attack the placement of all-day kindergarten and the breakfast program in only some schools. Nor will they take the position that no one should be demoted under any circumstances.

There are many interest groups within the Baltimore County school system who, for various reasons, cling to the status quo.

Those groups have done a wonderful job of convincing the public that the only problem is that Stuart Berger is a poor communicator and a poor implementer. Actually, the opposite is the problem -- Stuart Berger has communicated his programs quite clearly and has implemented them effectively. His opposition understands all too well.

Implore everyone on all sides of the educational issue in Baltimore County to be as honest as Michael Burns.

If you disagree with the changes that are being proposed and implemented in Baltimore County, or if you agree with the changes, state your case and support it with reason and logic. Personal attacks just won't make it.

Jane Gordon

Glen Arm

Tax Liens

Your excellent article June 30 regarding the 779 non-taxpaying high-income earners should be augmented by information on the uncollected billions of dollars due the federal and state governments by the countless numbers of people who have enormous tax liens which have not and probably will not ever be collected.

A concerted effort by the government entities to successfully collect these obligations may not eliminate the deficit but certainly would result in a substantial reduction of this huge millstone.

Norton B. Schwartz


Keep Giving

Laura Lippman's article on panhandling (July 8) referred to Downtown Partnership of Baltimore as "encouraging people to stop giving . . ." That's not the case.

Before our intent is misunderstood, we'd like to set the record straight. In fact, our message is: Keep giving. Give more. Just give differently. Give your dollars to service providers who can make a positive difference in people's lives.

No one's interests are served by perpetuating people living on the streets.

Giving directly to a person on the street may actually be hurting, not helping. It may be feeding an addiction or prolonging problems better attended by professionals.

Additional services are desperately needed to help people break the cycle of homelessness. The act of giving is to be encouraged, but give to where it can do the greatest good.

Laurie B. Schwartz


The writer is president, Downtown Partnership of Baltimore Inc.

Sour Lemons

Your readers should not be taken in by Public Citizen's so-called "study" of nuclear power plant safety ("Peach Bottom among GE's nuclear safety 'lemons,' group says," July 9).

Obviously, by definition any ranking of 100 nuclear power plants will have a top 50 and a bottom 50 -- but that doesn't mean that the plants are unsafe. Public Citizen deliberately uses a "slice and dice" approach to its report to try to create that false impression.

Objective studies of U.S. nuclear power plant safety show that:

By every indication, these plants have continually improved their performance over a 12-year period beginning in 1980, and more than half of the world's 25 most efficient nuclear power plants and 40 percent of the top 25 nuclear electric generators are U.S. units.

It's too bad that this group of anti-nuclear activists won't tell the public the whole story about nuclear power plant safety and performance -- available from the public record -- but picks only the bits and pieces that suit Public Citizen's agenda.

Phillip Bayne


The writer is president, U.S. Council for Energy Awareness.

Sexual Harassment is Pervasive in Schools

The American Association of University Women takes issue with Everett Carll Ladd's June 24 column, "Figures Don't Lie, But Liars Figure." The arguments in the column are as tortuous as the title.

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