Education is key to ending racial inequityThe recent...

the Forum

June 27, 1994

Education is key to ending racial inequity

The recent summit meeting of black leaders in Baltimore exposed us once again to Louis Farrakhan's Klan-like hatred and was not representative of the black community, having excluded traditional, rational voices.

His hatred is misdirected and evil, but one can see that it is coming from real frustration.

He is right in saying that black children are not being educated. Three trillion dollars have been spent on myriad programs since the civil rights movement, and the poverty and ignorance in this country are not better, they are worse. Something is to blame for this; namely, leadership.

One major area of flawed leadership is public education. These leaders, black and white, through ignorance or design, have given society at least one generation of illiterates, condemning them to the certain poverty and dependence blacks have struggled so long to escape.

When Ireland was under British rule, knowing how to read was forbidden and punishable by hanging; thus the schools were furtively conducted under the hedges by the priests, at the risk of their own lives. Black slaves were whipped or worse if it was discovered that they could read.

Why? People who cannot read are easy to control and take advantage of. They are, however, smart enough not to like it; thus the growing justifiable rage.

Why then does public education forbid the teaching of reading by phonics, the only successful method available, and use word recognition instead?

Can you imagine learning to read Chinese by memorizing the symbols without the sounds? Can you imagine the frustration and eventual rage this would engender?

People who cannot read are easier to enslave, by black leaders as well as white.

Self-esteem, self-restraint and responsibility flow from a sound basic education, not from "outcome-based education" feel-good programs. Small wonder that our social problems are escalating on a logarithmic scale.

The excuse that poverty causes crime is a tired and invalid cliche. Poverty doesn't cause crime, as witnessed by the Great Depression, but it is safe to say that wholesale bad education coupled with a lack of moral direction does.

The recent one-sided summit meeting attempted to address these problems but pointedly excluded the very voices the black community depends on for its moral authority -- the leaders of the conservative churches.

Elizabeth Ward Nottrodt

Baltimore

Real heroes

As a citizen of the United States of America, I truly believe in freedom of speech, but there comes a time when enough is enough.

I am tired of hearing about "the fall of an American hero" in the case of O. J. Simpson.

There has been such an outpouring of support for him and his plight because of who he is that most people forget that he got himself into this predicament.

If he had not abused his wife in the past, or even admitted that he had a problem with spousal abuse and gotten the help that is now so very obvious he desperately needed, maybe he would not have been the police's first suspect.

People are forgetting that a family has lost their son and brother, and the Simpson children have lost their mother.

What about the sympathy for the victims? Our country looks up to sports figures too much to be our kids' heroes.

The real heroes in this country are the parents and caretakers who work for a living to provide their kids with the best life possible.

In my household, my sons look up to their father, not some man who made a lot of money carrying a football.

Melissa L. Wheatley

Baltimore

Shopping's no fun

Shopping is no longer a pleasant experience.

Whatever happened to people telling you what your total is and counting back the change and giving a big thank you?

I can go into a retail store, stand in line and get to my car without any conversation whatsoever.

Shelley A. Nislein

Baltimore

Balanced food for thought

The Baltimore Sun has recently given a good deal of space to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's proposed new rules for the school lunch program.

As someone who is quick to react to ill-considered and stereotypical attacks on the program, I just react with equal vigor when coverage is balanced and realistic. Your recent stories and editorials have demonstrated an evenhanded view of a much-maligned but essential service.

As you pointed out in both your story of June 9 and your editorial of June 17, America's school lunchrooms have long needed to reconsider the way meals are prepared and served.

We join you in hoping that USDA's move away from a rigid, protein-heavy "meal pattern" toward a more flexible "nutrient-based" menu planning system will allow Maryland's school systems to offer healthier meals that also appeal to kids' tastes.

By the same token, we recognize as you do that many Maryland systems have acted on their own to make these sorts of changes well ahead of the new USDA mandate.

The transition to nutrient-based menus providing 30 percent or fewer calories from fat will not be difficult for jurisdictions, like many of ours, that already routinely serve such meals.

Maryland's school food and nutrition service professionals have long been committed to giving our students the good nutrition they need to be able to do their best in school, because we strongly believe that we serve education every day, with every meal we provide.

We thank The Baltimore Sun for recognizing that school lunch is a complex and evolving program, which must be evaluated carefully and given its due as an essential educational support service.

Shelly Terry

Baltimore

The writer is the director of Child Nutrition Programs for the Maryland Department of Education.

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