Let's commit to hard work this school yearAs bells ring...

SATURDAY MAILBOX

September 05, 1998

Let's commit to hard work this school year

As bells ring throughout Maryland and the children of Maryland begin a new school year, let us all -- parents, teachers and administrators -- reflect on what we hope to have our schools achieve.

Let's hope that this new school year will see a continuing improvement in our public schools, which, after all, are pillars of our democratic system.

However, let's also hope that this new school year sees a return to more than just the basics. Let's all hope and pray that real discipline returns to the schools, for without true discipline in our classrooms, real learning cannot take place.

Let's hope this new school year will see even an greater drive to eliminate drug and alcohol users and, I should add, the disruptive child who feels that he can do as he wishes in our public schools.

Perhaps a realistic dress code also should be implemented, and a return to a little old-fashioned patriotism would not hurt.

Above all else, if our public schools are to survive as the guardians of knowledge and the purveyors of our future, we must see to it that learning does take place.

Quality education should be one that teaches not only what the student wants to learn, but also what the student will have to know to function in an ever-growing, complex society. This includes the ability to read as well as to have a working knowledge of mathematics.

Further, students graduating from a public high school should have a proper command of both written and spoken English. Needless to say, every youngster should have the opportunity to learn and appreciate the history of his country.

Perhaps we have forgotten that a quality education means work; it means burning the midnight oil. We must, for the good of our students, give them assignments. Let's not kid ourselves.

All learning cannot take place in our schools. The majority of our young people want leadership, yearn for realistic and fair discipline and welcome assignments related to the learning process.

Yes, this new school year, teachers, parents and taxpayers have a responsibility to get beyond past requirements and truly make our public schools so good that many now sending or contemplating sending their children to private schools will instead look to the public schools as providing the best possible education tax dollars can buy.

We can meet this challenge by beginning in this new school year to work toward excellence in our public schools, which should be second to none.

Finally, if we hope to bring positive change in our schools, it will mean that every parent having a youngster in a school will have to take a greater interest in what the school is doing for his youngsters.

John A. Micklos

Baltimore

The writer is a retired history teacher and a former member of the Board of Regents of Morgan State University.

In the city, there's a new ray of sunshine, and it is beaming on Old Harford Road.

That's because Hamilton Elementary/Middle School, a wonderfully refurbished old shell outside and an up-to-date, spanking-new interior, is open for business.

As a grandparent of a student there, I have seen how parents, teachers, principal and community leaders have worked together to brighten up the Hamilton area. It's important for us city dwellers to note these exciting new beginnings.

Pat Elliott

Baltimore

Liberties, not politics, are ACLU's concern

I write to clarify the American Civil Liberties Union's position on independent counsel Kenneth Starr's investigation of President Clinton, in response to Kenneth A. Stevens' letter to the editor "Present-day sex police pry into private lives" (Aug. 26).

Mr. Stevens was writing on his own behalf, not as coordinator of the ACLU in Howard County. He was, but no longer is, the coordinator of that chapter. His opinions did not reflect the ACLU's position of the grand jury proceedings, nor were they meant to.

The ACLU has a strict and clear policy against taking partisan positions on any issue. We defended Oliver North and the Nazis in Skokie as readily as we defended draft card burners and religious freedom.

Our response to the Starr investigation and related issues is consistent with the ACLU's policy on nonpartisanship. In fact, we've taken positions on both sides of the controversy, consistent with only one factor: civil liberties.

Here are just a few examples:

Jan 13, 1997 -- Saying that the president is not above the law, the national ACLU submitted a friend-of-the-court brief in the U.S. Supreme Court supporting the right of Paula Corbin Jones to sue Mr. Clinton.

July 21,1997 -- The ACLU of Southern California filed a habeas corpus petition in federal court saying Susan McDougal was being held illegally in Los Angeles County jail as punishment for refusing to testify in the Whitewater investigation.

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