Hunger death claims not being upheld by dataJo Campbell's...


September 13, 1997

Hunger death claims not being upheld by data

Jo Campbell's Aug. 20 article, ''The hungry people next door,'' offered up a very thick slice of baloney with a twice-repeated claim that ''every 53 minutes an American child dies of hunger.''

One death every 53 minutes equates to 27 deaths per day or 9,855 per year. But the latest U.S. mortality statistics report that in 1995 the total number of deaths among children between the ages 1-14 was just 14,989.

Of those deaths, 5,824 were caused by accidents, 1,673 by cancers and 1,144 from congenital anomalies. Another 1,014 died from homicides (a sad reflection on our violent society), while cardiovascular disease took 703, various infectious and parasitic diseases killed 631 and 399 succumbed to HIV and AIDS.

Pneumonia and influenza caused the deaths of 284 children, pulmonary diseases killed 180, 137 died from septicemia, 122 from anemias and 118 from conditions originating in the perinatal period. Adding up these 12 major causes of childhood deaths, one notes that they account for all but 2,760 of the total number of childhood deaths. No other cause of death accounts for as much as 100 deaths.

Despite Jo Campbell's assertions, there is simply no room whatever in the official U.S. mortality statistics to support her claim of nearly 120,000 childhood ''hunger deaths'' annually.

James A. Miller

Falls Church, Va.

The writer represents the Population Research Institute.

Harwood was subject to Hopkins discipline

Your article (Aug. 29) on the decision of the Johns Hopkins University to deny a degree to Robert Harwood, the student convicted in the murder of a fellow student, contains one serious misstatement. The story reports that Susan Boswell, the dean of students, and I told your reporters last year that, ''as a practical matter,'' Harwood was ''not subject to the campus [disciplinary] code'' in the weeks before the killing because he had completed his course work and left Baltimore.

Let me state emphatically that neither Dean Boswell nor I ever said, nor would we have ever said, that Harwood was not subject to the Undergraduate Student Conduct Code. Indeed, the reporter who wrote the story subsequently could not confirm from his notes of interviews that either of us ever took the position that Harwood was not subject to the code in the interim before the award of a degree.

In fact, as Dean Boswell told your reporters last year, she specifically told Harwood in her first long-distance telephone conversation with him on Feb. 23, 1996, that he remained subject to university disciplinary action. She repeated that assertion in subsequent oral and written contacts. Harwood acknowledged the university's continued authority over him by agreeing to Dean Boswell's conditions for his subsequent visits to campus.

Estelle A. Fishbein


The writer is vice president and general counsel of the Johns Hopkins University.

Teacher who quit received support

Gregory Kane's Sept. 3 column chronicles the frustrations of former city school teacher Sally Brown. As a teacher who shared a classroom with Ms. Brown, I would like to suggest that Mr. Kane has not printed the full story.

Significantly, Mr. Kane's column omits the amount of support that Ms. Brown did receive. My own efforts to help her included watching problem students from one of her classes during my planning period and moving one of my classes to alleviate noise problems in our shared classroom.

She received similar support from team leaders (quasi-administrators) who spent significant time removing problem children from her class. Mr. Kane also doesn't mention that Ms. Brown's mid-year transfer to a program for ''at-risk'' students meant a drop in class size from 40-45 students to 15-18 students and an increase in disciplinary and instructional support from the advocates who work for that program.

I understand how Ms. Brown's testimony served Mr. Kane's political purposes. However, by printing her story Mr. Kane has preyed on Patterson. Patterson is full of supportive teachers and administrators. And while we have our share of problems, we are working together to ensure that a solid education for our students is what triumphs.

Karen Hodges


A parent laments a failing school system

Today I sent my daughter off to finish her last year of high school. When I picked up the paper and read Gregory Kane's Sept. 3 column, ''Frustration, anger drive teacher from city schools,'' I see that I am not the only one frustrated with Baltimore's school system.

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