Discipline and studies missing from formula to overhaul...

Letters to the Editor

May 28, 1998

Discipline and studies missing from formula to overhaul Northern

I was interested in Sara Engram's solution to the Northern High School fiasco ("Northern deserves better," May 24). She comes up with the idea of long-term and quick fixes. Yet she is rather tentative in her advice.

She notes that the fall "crisis" has brought together WJZ-TV, Morgan State University, the community and parents in search of a solution.

But instead of correcting the real problem -- discipline and learning -- the solution is merely further separating students into a ninth-grade academy.

Such statements as "sheer numbers can make ninth-graders an unruly presence in the school" indicate that the quick fix might only lead to disorder in both schools.

An "expert" from the Johns Hopkins University offers some advice that is hardly new: "A successful program for ninth-graders depends on an artful combination of nagging and nurturing." But he makes it clear that "you can't be mean." Perhaps we have been too mean, at least based on the school shootouts around the country, which seem to be on the rise.

Thus, the whole effort to turn things around hinges on ignoring student responsibility and implementing approaches outside the learning process to solve the problem.

This type of situation has been ignored for decades, and now we wring our hands and wonder what to do.

R. D. Bush

Columbia

Columnist Snow fails to see what environment has lost

After reading Tony Snow's Opinion Commentary article ("The sky isn't falling, Mr. Gore," May 5) in which he vehemently denounced Vice President Al Gore and environmentalists as being unnecessarily alarmed about the future of the earth, I wondered how Mr. Snow beholds the world.

What does he think when he reads newspaper stories of fish kills, of Code Red and Code Orange days when people are advised to stay indoors because the very air is toxic?

Does his judgmental tone come from a view of losing his world as he sees it? If so, this is a fear shared by many. We fear for the future of our grandchildren as finite resources are being plundered.

In Mr. Snow's world, we have an increasing amount of virgin forests, so what's the problem?

Everything I have read says the creation of forest plantations can provide some ecosystem services; however, much of the biodiversity is lost forever. Old growth forests are an important habitat for many species.

More relevant than what Mr. Snow sees is what he does not see.

Molly Jameson

Timonium

We're not doing enough to keep our children safe

We Americans are long on talk and short on action when it comes to improving the quality of life for our young people.

We proudly display pie charts of local governments allocating the biggest slice of fiscal funding for public education; we boast that ours is the most robust economy in the world with opportunity for all; and we marvel at our technological achievements as if they're somehow supposed to bring a saner, safer country for future generations.

Yet we still can't seem to get off dead center regarding the issue of public safety and guns as we continue to see innocent young people slain and injured in our public schools (" 'He . . . just started shooting,' " May 22).

It seems that we are naive and helpless when it comes to making these institutions safe.

When I worked as a public school teacher in Europe a few years ago, I had some colleagues who owned guns. They owned them legally and used them for protection or sport. What was required of them was that they simply had to keep their guns in one locked cabinet and the ammunition in another locked cabinet. That way, they were not accessible to children.

From time to time, police would make inspections in much the same way that building inspectors make safety inspections of commercial and residential buildings in the various Maryland subdivisions.

Yes, there was crime. Yes, there were gun mishaps.

But I can't recall one incident in which a child was injured or killed by a gun.

Maybe we Americans, who brag and boast about how free we are and of how much effort we expend to keep our children out of harm's way, are more under the influence of the National Rifle Association and the tobacco lobby than we care to admit.

Jamie Blount

Baltimore

Cartoonist's pen is pointed at wrong targets in society

KAL seems to have found the proper solution in his editorial cartoon May 23 (in which five people aim guns at a man who suggests getting rid of guns).

It is axiomatic that liberal pundits distort the human situation to fit their own twisted opinions. Perhaps he ought to direct his wrath toward the isolated misfits of all ages who use cars as missiles, guns and knives as murder weapons and TV violence as instructional material to guide their frustrations against the 250 million-plus in our society who want nothing more than to be left alone to live a peaceful and productive life.

Richard A. Zehl

Baltimore

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