Good things can happen in public schoolsIn a climate in...

the Forum

November 01, 1993

Good things can happen in public schools

In a climate in which everything that is conceivably wrong with public education receives banner headlines, I urge you to give similar attention to something positive.

On Oct. 10 Susan Steele, a science teacher at our school, and some of her students were featured on a segment of the television program "60 Minutes" with host Mike Wallace.

The segment dealt with the accuracy of commercially produced educational videotapes. Mrs. Steele and her students had questioned the conclusions of a "documentary" produced by the Exxon Corporation that suggested the damage created by the Exxon Valdez oil spill had been completely eradicated.

They conducted additional research using the National Wildlife Federation as a resource. This resulted both in findings at great variance with those of the video and an exploration of the possible motives of groups that produce free educational materials for schoolchildren.

The National Wildlife Federation introduced Mr. Wallace to Mrs. Steele and her students. The filming took place at Stemmers Run Middle School last April.

This is only one example of the efforts educators are making to encourage critical and creative thinking, effective communication, resourcefulness, good citizenship, ethics and aesthetic awareness in our students. The general public needs to be apprised of this in order to have a more accurate picture of what's going on in schools.

Henry V. Wagner Jr.

Baltimore

The writer is principal of Stemmers Run Middle School.

Crime drives honest people out of the city

Approximately 40 years ago my family and I moved out of Baltimore City because it was no longer a safe place to raise a family. We thought conditions in the city were bad back then.

They have gotten worse.

It is time something is done about people stealing, shooting and dealing drugs. The crime should have been stopped years ago.

Apparently victims have no rights at all. Very little has been done to insure the safety of the honest, hard-working people who live in the city.

My son and only child, who works seven days a week some weeks, moved to Baltimore City four years ago. Since then everything that wasn't locked up has been stolen, even his trash.

His car was stolen, stripped and junked. It was unrecognizable when it was finally found. Yet nothing was done -- nothing.

This past summer while walking home from work, he was mugged by two men who knocked him down and beat him. The only thing that deterred them was that he had the presence of mind to get up and start yelling.

They ran off, probably because they didn't have a gun or a knife with them. We all know what could have happened to him. My son could have been killed. More of this goes on than anyone cares to admit.

There is always money to help rebuild projects that the people living there only destroy, trash up, etc. Why can't the people there paint the walls instead of covering them with graffiti?

I have worked for 40 years and do my own painting, picking up trash and cleaning. Why are some people given everything -- free housing, free food, free needles? Whatever happened to working for a living instead of waiting for a hand-out or stealing, mugging or dealing drugs?

Something needs to be done to make the city a safer place to live. Each day more and more hard-working, honest, tax-paying citizens are moving out of the city. Who will pay the taxes then?

M. Miller

White Hall

Traffic outlaws

As a home-grown Baltimorean who has been living in a small Midwestern town for the past four years, I was very surprised to view what has happened to my beloved birthplace.

While visiting my family recently, I encountered some very distressing situations. Driving around the city became a literal nightmare: Taxis running stop signs, traffic continually running red lights, cars parked on the wrong side of the street.

The piece de resistance was schoolchildren jumping out of the windows of a transit bus on Maryland Avenue right into oncoming traffic.

I think my birthplace has gone to the dogs. Why have the law-enforcement officials let everything get so far out of hand? Perhaps the wrong people are in charge.

Sharon Koehler

Des Moines, Iowa

Full of errors

With regard to your Oct. 21 editorial, "Pressured into managed care," the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee held the unscheduled hearing because Maryland Classified Employees Association had requested it.

Legislators and public employees were outraged because Personnel Secretary Hilda Ford violated the law by failing to discuss the proposed health insurance increases with either the legislature or the state employees' Health Insurance Advisory Council.

Your description of the "gold-plated, Cadillac or diamond-studded" health care program for state workers is not a Blue Cross/Blue Shield plan but rather a state-funded program that Schaefer administration officials created a couple of years ago and then urged workers and retirees to join.

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