Push the drug pushers back indoorsAs a city homeowner and...

the Forum

February 16, 1994

Push the drug pushers back indoors

As a city homeowner and patrol officer for nearly 13 years, I am well aware of the aspect of drug dealing that concerns our neighbors most. Visibility. We see it.

Our children see it. Our friends see it. It annoys us. We hear it at all hours. We clean its debris. And lock our doors.

In the open, drug dealing becomes a lure to our children, a magnet to transients, hoodlums and other sick people. It is a mud puddle too wide to avoid or ignore.

The police, church groups and other organizations try to wash it away, but it only spreads. Like it or not, the distributors already collect on more than 120 blocks in residential areas.

However, if drug dealing is removed from the streets, as Commissioner Thomas Frazier seems to suggest, we shall find it out-of-sight and out-of-mind. Away from homes. Away from children. Away from the playgrounds, street corners, parks and view of my neighborhood.

Baltimore has many vacant "backyards" -- abandoned buildings, quarries, commercial areas and railroad yards where the drug trade could be confined. Isolating the trade would enhance the state's ability to control, regulate and police it and facilitate what may be the eventual decriminalization, medicalization or legalization of drugs.

Allowing such zones to exist as a practical and moral matter would be easier than the current policy of "not allowing" the drug corners and drug free zones that do exist.

Moving the corners where drugs are traded "inside" is a necessary step toward their elimination. Stopping the more than 40,000 addicts in the metropolitan area from going somewhere is impossible. But designating where that somewhere shall be is not.

chuyler Denham

Baltimore

Patterson wronged

Patterson High School is one of two Baltimore City public schools that has been targeted for state takeover. This has caused a great deal of anguish among students, staff, parents and alumni.

The reasons given for the proposed takeover (pending Baltimore's submission of an improvement plan by April 1) were the downward trend of scores on state functional tests, falling attendance rates and an increased drop-out rate.

A look at Patterson's test scores completely contradicts these reasons. First, the report card (issued by the state, comparing all of the high schools in Baltimore) shows that:

* In reading, we ranked ahead of eight schools (and tied with the rest, since our score is 100).

* In math, we ranked ahead of seven schools.

* In writing, we ranked ahead of seven schools.

* In citizenship, we ranked ahead of six schools.

* In attendance, we are second lowest.

* In the drop-out rate, we are ahead of five schools.

Since there is obviously no justification in "honoring" us with a prospective takeover based on our comparative scores, the state indicated that our scores had shown a continual downward trend. A look at the Patterson report card shows that since 1991:

* In reading, our score has stayed the same (100).

* In math, our score has gone down.

* In writing, our score has gone up.

* In citizenship, our score has gone up.

* In the category, "passed all tests", our score has gone up.

* In the section "High School Program Completion", and the column "University of Maryland System Requirements", our score has gone up (from 6.4 percent to 23.1 percent.)

* In attendance, our score has gone down.

* In drop-out rate, our score has improved (decreasing steadily, from 23 percent in 1991 to 17.3 percent in 1992 and to 16.1 percent in 1993).

Based on our comparative position with the other zoned high schools, Patterson ranks among the best (third best out of the 10 zoned high schools).

Based on our test scores, attendance and drop-out rates, there is no steady decline (as intimated by the state) but an improvement in the majority of the areas.

It is interesting to note that no member of the state Department of Education has been to Patterson to talk to students, staff or administration about this.

Any standard of fairness would dictate that Superintendent Nancy Grasmick come to Patterson to explain (to the school and the entire Patterson community, including parents and our alumni) the basis for this unfair and unwarranted negative publicity.

Jonathan L. Jacobson

Baltimore

The writer is head of the Social Studies department at Patterson High School. Seventy-four other persons also signed the letter.

Tired of waiting

Maryland lawmakers have proposed to extend the deadline for the move of an existing National Football League franchise to Baltimore.

After years of being wooed and rejected by the NFL, I think Baltimore sports fans are too proud to get down on their knees again and beg for a team. The Canadian Football League has waited for us because they want us.

Baltimore can't do to the CFL what the NFL did to us. Canadian football is better, anyway.

Imagine being one of the first U.S. cities to get a CFL team.

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