Fuzzy thinking in school decisionsNews stories about the...


August 26, 1996

Fuzzy thinking in school decisions

News stories about the Baltimore City public schools, particularly those providing insight into the thinking processes of its leaders, should continue to shock every concerned citizen.

In a recent story, the successful Baltimore School for the Arts was discussed with the suggestion that the institution be moved to a new facility. The proposed location would be less desirable for student use of regular public transportation, but more desirable for staff parking.

The school has been seeking renovation, not a replacement. The reason for this proposal is that some community leaders suggested this use for the newly cleared location.

Then there is the suggestion that a middle school whose population has been decimated by the recent removal of certain housing facilities be converted into a middle or elementary/middle school for the arts to fill the building once again. Is this any reason to create a city-wide school for such young students?

I say no to the superintendent who wants to create a ''feeder school.'' City-wide high schools have the entire system to feed them. What is needed is art and music education for all lower grade students.

This example clearly delineates the fuzzy thinking and the politically motivated discussions that have driven this school system down.

John E. Roach


Roads can help control urban sprawl

In his July 13 letter to the editor ("More highways increase sprawl"), Douglas Carroll makes a common assertion: Roads foster sprawl and therefore cannot be part of a state policy to direct development to older urban areas.

Unfortunately, this statement misrepresents the subtle dynamic that takes place within an effective planning process and exhibits a lack of understanding of the role that highways such as Maryland 32 and Maryland 100 have within that process.

Economic growth is fundamentally important and Maryland's superior transportation network has long been an asset we use to sell employers on the state. The Maryland Department of Transportation is currently working to ensure that our projects achieve responsible and appropriate growth by building only those projects that both meet the needs of the state and are supported by the comprehensive land-use plans of the local jurisdictions.

Highway such as Routes 32 and 100 are critical, long-planned links in the state highway network, providing access between designated growth areas in Howard and Anne Arundel counties. I doubt the thousands of commuters who rely on these roads for daily access to their jobs would, as Mr. Carroll states, want state road planners to just stop.

Each highway was carefully located and designed to accommodate the traffic expected as a result of planned growth, exactly the kind of traffic that supports a viable economy. I agree that the environmental impacts go well beyond the homeowners who are displaced, but the planning process is designed to weigh those impacts against the benefits of the highway and to do everything possible to mitigate them.

Finding the means to direct growth will be a collaborative and cooperative effort between citizens, business and government. I consider MDOT an integral partner in the state's efforts to direct growth and preserve existing communities.

David L. Winstead


The writer is secretary of the Maryland Department of Transportation.

Democracy at risk demands flexible laws

I want to comment on the excellent column by Gregory Kane that appeared Aug. 11 in The Sun and touched upon the need for greater recognition of a nation in peril, sometimes resulting in stronger measures by the government to ensure our survival as a people.

Perhaps Mr. Kane's column could have been given a perfect summation by the words of former Sen. Henry Jackson, who said, "The Constitution is not a suicide pact." There can be no dispute that our laws must be flexible and the government must explore every reasonable option when we confront situations that clearly place this democracy at risk.

We have, over the years, lived under martial law when circumstances demanded that this form of order was needed. In virtually every instance, we quickly re-established that which we needed in order to return to a more traditional democratic structure.

With the bombing of the World Trade Center, Pan Am Flight 103 and probably TWA Flight 800, along with the planned bombing of major bridges and tunnels in high-population areas by the same group, and with the bombing of two U.S. bases in Saudi Arabia, our country is in mortal danger and we would be wise to pay more attention to Mr. Kane's suggestion.

Eugene Blum


New farming methods will harm waterways

The July 25 commentary, "Modern farming yields bountiful fields of dreams," by Dennis T. Avery was well headlined. His optimistic assessment that food production could be doubled to feed a future world population of 10 billion is not just a dream, but a pipe dream not based on a comprehensive analysis.

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