Defending Parkville High's magnet studentsThis is written...


September 29, 1997

Defending Parkville High's magnet students

This is written to present the views of a parent of a Parkville High School magnet student regarding your Sept. 20 article on the school's ranking problems.

The magnet students who have chosen to come to Parkville, some from home schools such as Hereford High School, where they would be in smaller classes, are not just academically talented. They are concerned, giving young adults who have involved themselves in all areas of their school, be it extracurricular activities, sports, or volunteer work beyond the 75 hours required for high school graduation. Many are also involved in arts programs outside school on their own time. They are truly the well-rounded students and citizens that any school system should be proud to produce.

Some of the high-ranking magnet students that the few vocal parents are concerned will displace their children in ranking are, in fact, at their ''home school,'' and would be a challenge in the rankings without being in the magnet program.

As concerned as I am about the outcome of the ranking dilemma, I am even more concerned by the reaction of the parents who, in your article, state they did not want the magnet program and ''they [the magnet students] should not be stepping on our kids.'' All of the students at Parkville are ''our kids'' and the magnet students, who contribute to the school disproportionately to their numbers, should not be made to feel like outsiders.

Parkville High School is becoming one of the best academic high schools in Baltimore County and the challenge and diversity the magnet students bring benefit all who are a part of its student body. They should not be penalized for the gifts they bring to the school.

Phyllis Ann Burke


To save the bay, eat less meat

The horrible situation in our waterways with Pfiesteria is no surprise to me. Our desire for cheap chicken has led to large intense confinement systems that are not only cruel to the animals (if anyone did to his dog what is done to these poor birds, he would be arrested), but result in tons of feces that cannot be recycled as fertilizer. There is no place for it to go but into the water.

The solution is obvious: Eat less chicken and other animal products. Every bird you buy contributes to the problem. Start substituting plant-based foods such as pastas and meatless burgers for the meat and not only will you help save our waterways, but you'll improve your health at the same time (meat consumption has been linked to heart disease, stroke, and some cancers).

No one will come out and say this because of the financial implications to the poultry industry, but it needs to be said. I suggest picking up a copy of ''Diet for a New America'' by John Robbins to learn more about how your food choices affect the environment, your health, and the animals. We have the choice every meal to save not only the bay, but our health as well.

Jamie Cohen


Hazardous chemicals should be disclosed

There are over 72,000 synthetic chemicals in use today. Fewer than 1 percent are fully tested for health effects such as cancer and reproductive hazards.

The public's best reporting law, the Community Right to Know Act, is filled with so many holes that the last analysis of the program estimated that 95 percent of toxic pollution is hidden from the public.

A chemical accident earlier this summer in Arkansas killed three firefighters. An explosion blew out a cinder-block wall that crushed the firemen, who had been sent to the plant to assess the danger of a smoking bag.

Here in Maryland, an explosion at the FMC Corp. in Baltimore in December 1996 injured six workers and led to an evacuation of the plant. Fortunately, no one was killed.

We have a right to know more about the thousands of potentially hazardous chemicals that are used in our places of work and in the consumer products we bring home to our families.

Legislation is pending in Congress that would expand the public's right to know.

Reps. Henry A. Waxman, Democrat of California, and H. James Saxton, Republican of New Jersey, have introduced the Children's Environmental Protection and Right to Know Act of 1997 (H.R. 1636). This bill would expand the public's right to know.

Marylanders should thank Representatives Benjamin L. Cardin and Elijah E. Cummings for supporting this bill as co-sponsors.

Perhaps, by next Labor Day, we will have taken an important step to ensure safer workplaces and communities.

Lisa Altman


The writer represents the Maryland Public Interest Research Group.

Yes, ability grouping hurts Asian Americans

Despite having been nominated for the ''absurdity sweepstakes'' by George F. Will in his Sept. 15 column (''Ah, America: Rich or poor, bright or dull, we all get to be victims''), I must decline to run, for the sake of truth as well as my own reputation.

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