Private schools' popularity not due to racismAs a father...


June 20, 1996

Private schools' popularity not due to racism

As a father of a recent graduate of a parochial high school, I always believed the choice of a private school for my daughter was based on a careful consideration of what was best for her. But according to Michael Olesker's June 11 column, ''As private schools build, public foundation shakes,'' the underlying motivation behind such a choice is actually quite sinister.

Despite acknowledging the serious shortcomings of the public school system, Mr. Olesker contends that racism and irrational fear are largely responsible for the surge in private school enrollment. He might have checked his facts before making such a sweeping indictment.

According to a study of 1990 Census data by Dennis Doyle and James Hirni, 14.2 percent of white parents, 8.1 percent of black parents and 10.8 percent of parents of other races sent their children to private schools. Black public school teachers were almost as likely as white public school teachers -- 12.9 percent to 13.1 percent -- to send their children to private schools. Nearly 12 percent of public school teachers nationwide enroll their children in private schools. Up to 35 percent of the teachers in the nation's largest cities send their own children to private schools.

Would Mr. Olesker have us believe that all of these minority parents and teachers are closet racists? Or could it just be possible that they too are disenchanted with the falling test scores, social engineering agendas and disciplinary problems of many public schools?

Millions of parents -- including Bill Clinton and Kurt Schmoke -- have concluded that their children would be best served in private schools. Our misgivings about the public school system are neither irrational nor racist.

Mr. Olesker's commentary is a gratuitous slur of people who are willing to make the necessary financial sacrifice in order to provide their children with the best possible education in a safe environment.

John Cole


Nothing about Leary should be celebrated

In 1968, Timothy Leary was enjoying an unimpeded ability to fill young people's minds with the idea that they should drop out of school and live life in the stupor of an LSD high. At age 17, I am at the same stage of life as those who were seduced by the former Harvard professor's pitch to ''tune in, turn on and drop out.''

Everyone knows now that while this may be an easy choice, it is also a very costly one. Since his death, I have come across articles much like yours on June 8, "Timothy Leary's farewell trip." Why the need to gloss over his irresponsible and destructive lifestyle?

The truth is that he used the power of his teaching position to recruit students to his twisted ways. Once he was fired, he kept up the image of an enlightened guru by constantly putting on a show for the press. This continued even after a college student died at his California ranch while under the influence of illegal drugs.

There is no reason to commemorate Timothy Leary's death. I find it sad to open your paper and see the face of a helpless old man sucking up nitrous oxide like most people swallow aspirin. Any benefits that this man contributed to society are overridden by the number of lives that he destroyed. A summary of his life is that of an old geezer trying to play with the kids.

Melissa M. Wilson


Towsonite excited about downtown

I'm excited about the future of downtown Baltimore. A new NFL football team and state-of-the-art stadium, the resurrection of the Power Plant into an entertainment complex, a new children's museum from the Disney people. And the list goes on.

My hope is that the media and the citizens of this region start paying more attention to these positive developments in the city center and focus less on its problems. Everything should be examined using a balanced approach. And I don't consider "balance" an occasional positive story on the TV news or the newspaper.

An example of this is The Sun's treatment of the permanent seat licenses program for the football team. Every article or column I've read rips the permanent seat license concept to shreds and paints its creators as villains. But the way I understand it, these private seat licenses will generate the money to cover the costs of moving the team here.

The majority of people around Baltimore desperately wanted another NFL team, so football fans will look at the PSLs as a good investment. It's part of what it takes these days to make a team relocation happen.

I've sent in my PSL deposit and I'm glad there are others like me who will -- because the end-result is we'll have a team here, a team we'll all enjoy and take pride in, whether you have a PSL or not.

So let's all start being a little more positive about our NFL team and the future of downtown Baltimore. And that includes the members of the media.

George Fassio


Hilson takes readers beyond the ordinary

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