Magnet SchoolsThe magnet school program was presented to...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

April 04, 1994

Magnet Schools

The magnet school program was presented to Baltimore County residents as an effort to increase educational opportunities for students throughout the county. Magnet school fairs were used to attract students into the program.

What was not emphasized was that the federally mandated objective was to alter the racial mix within schools.

I assume the gender emphasis noted in The Sun's March 20 story was initially, or later became part of, the program's objective.

The board might have been able to maintain the appearance of a program to improve opportunities for all students if the numbers were right.

Where the magnet program appears to have run aground was when more white (possibly Asian-American as well) students, including males, applied for the program than had been anticipated.

This stripped the magnet school program of the facade of openness when, to achieve changes in racial and gender mix, many such students had to be excluded.

This decision to undertake the magnet school program may be the single most important decision defining the school system in Baltimore County.

In exchange for a small federal grant (around 1 percent of the school budget, I think), the board appears to have been willing to declare the school system to be discriminatory regarding race and gender, and in need of correction.

This despite the fact that, using the definition of discrimination laid down by the U.S. Supreme Court, it was not.

The perception nevertheless becomes the reality. The board's folly will be with us for some time.

The board has at least one consolation regarding discrimination. Where there was no evidence of discrimination before the advent of the magnet school program, the board's actions have addressed that oversight.

Herm Schmidt

Bradshaw

Needle Exchange

Thank God cooler heads have prevailed in the State House, and it looks as if Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke's controversial needle exchange program will become a reality.

Hopefully, the sometimes vindictive governor will not select this issue to "punish" the mayor for their recent differences.

Most likely Gov. William Donald Schaefer will sign the bill. To me, this will represent a start toward Mr. Schmoke's ideas on a debate about drug decriminalization.

The egg comes before the chicken, and to an intravenous drug abuser, the needle precedes the drug.

So let us hail the passage of this legislation, not only as an AIDS prevention measure but as a start toward more modern weapons in the war on drugs.

Joseph R. Armstead Jr.

Baltimore

Lobbyist's Power

On March 21, The Sun reported on an outrageous display of the tobacco lobby's oversized influence in Annapolis which merits further emphasis.

Citizens should be outraged that Maryland tobacco-lobbyist and campaign contributor Bruce Bereano was granted an exclusive private hearing by the House Judiciary Committee because he was unable to attend the committee's scheduled public hearing of tobacco legislation on March 11. He missed the hearing because he had to go to a basketball game that day.

Committee chair Joseph Vallario said that this was sufficient reason to convene a private hearing just for Mr. Bereano to argue against a number of tobacco control bills, although many unpaid citizens took time out of their regular jobs to attend the scheduled hearing.

They had three minutes each to present their case in the public interest after missing half a day's work. A formal complaint filed with the Joint Legislative Ethics Committee is pending.

This blatant display demonstrates how the tobacco lobbyist has our elected representatives wrapped around his little finger. No wonder citizens feel disenfranchised.

This outrage should be a catalyst not only for tobacco control legislation, but for badly needed lobbyist disclosure laws.

Joseph Adams, M.D.

Baltimore

What Next in France? Language Gendarmes?

The March 15 article on France's proposed law that would ban the use of foreign words from "business and government communications, radio and television broadcasts, public broadcasts, public announcements and advertising messages" is ridiculous at best, and at a time when xenophobia is rampant in many of the ex-communist areas, this is worrisome as well.

The incorporation of other languages into a country's vocabulary is a commonplace occurrence.

Americans have adopted such words and phrases as "c'est lvie," "R.S.V.P.," "rendezvous" and "gauche," incorporating them into our everyday language.

The question is, is the incorporation of foreign words necessarily destroying French culture? And will this action in any way prevent the French people from using these foreign words? What are they going to do next? Install language police?

The French culture will grow and flourish whether they go through with this law or not, and with progress there comes a broadening of horizons which would naturally include an expansion of vocabulary.

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