State-of-art stadium, antiquated schoolsThe Sun's Sept. 6...

Letters to the Editor

September 13, 1998

State-of-art stadium, antiquated schools

The Sun's Sept. 6 edition was an echo of the hype reverberating in downtown Baltimore on the weekend of the Ravens' home opener.

That edition had the front-page story "Arguing worth of Ravens stadium" on whether or not new stadiums bring prosperity to a city and the editorial "Camden Yards' enduring blueprint."

But phrases describing the new stadium as impressive, state-of-the-art, meeting high standards, fun and functional could hardly be applied to city schools where we send our children for much more than entertainment.

Recently, a group of us visited an elementary school in Northeast Baltimore during the opening week. We found a school with an enrollment of more than 700 children although it was built to accommodate a little more than 400. Three lunch periods, the first at 10: 30 a.m., were necessary because the cafeteria is too small; the auditorium seats only half the school population; and a teacher's office is located in a poorly lit, cramped space where exposed exhaust ducts are located and where the air is heavy with the odor of paints and other materials.

Throughout the corridors, low wattage bulbs are the dingy reminders of the antiquated electrical system that cannot sustain higher wattage. Missing floor tiles pose a danger for little feet.

The Sun editorial gives credit to William Donald Schaefer, Gov. Parris N. Glendening, Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke, Herb Belgrad, and John Moag for turning "a giant negative into a positive."

But how about the spirit of a community that has been crushed with the flight of families escaping their overcrowded, deteriorating neighborhood schools? How about a follow-up to Reading by 9? An extended expose of the conditions under which those 9-year-olds learn (or don't learn) to read is long overdue.

Mary Nicolas Sommerfeldt


The writer is with Baltimore United in Leadership Development's action team.

Back-to-school tips for parents to prevent drug and alcohol use

Now that school has begun, families need to develop prevention strategies for alcohol, tobacco and other drugs that are basic, easy to do and effective. The most effective strategy still is a concerned, loving parent who is willing to get tough when he or she needs to.

Here are some guidelines that may help families start the road to being drug- and alcohol-free.

In grade school, parents are lucky if kids are too young to be involved with alcohol, tobacco and other drugs. Parents have time to reduce the risk.

Parents should talk with children about substance abuse, get to know their friends' parents, be clear about house rules, make communication safe, provide ways to say no, sign a Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) Club Contract for Life and be good role models.

For middle-school children, smoking, drinking and drug use are becoming issues.

Parents are advised to not lecture; clarify family rules regarding tobacco, alcohol and drug use; respect what teens say; think of alternatives to alcohol and drug use; talk about drugs as something everyone needs to worry about; make sure adult supervision is at teen parties; keep communication lines open; sign a SADD Contract for Life and be good role models.

In high school, older teens are more mobile and increasingly immersed in their own peer society.

It's hard for parents not to wonder what they're up to and harder sometimes not to assume the worst.

Parents should let teens know what they expect; discuss and develop family rules together; avoid a power struggle about alcohol, tobacco and drugs; be sure of the consequences they're willing to impose; prohibit underage smoking or drinking in there homes; sign a SADD Contract for Life and be good role models.

No matter how hard parents try to follow these guidelines, at some point they may decide that their children or the family should see a counselor.

Anyone at that point should not take it as a sign of failure.

They should view it as an opportunity to make things better. The most important thing is to take some kind of action. Help is available, and it works.

Michael M. Gimbel


The writer is director of the Baltimore County Bureau of Substance Abuse.

Clinton should resign for other deceptions

President Clinton should resign, not because of the girly scandals, but because of a long, consistent pattern of deception.

Consider the questionable bank loans and campaign donations in Arkansas, the broken promise to finish his term as governor, lies to his draft board, significant tax "errors" and cheating at golf.

Consider deceptive campaigning, accusing opponents of "cutting" programs for children and retirees, poisoning the air and water. Consider taking credit for programs promised and delivered by the Republican Congress, including the twice-vetoed welfare reform bill, tax reductions and reforms.

Consider the campaign finance scandals in which donations were received from poverty-pledged monks and perhaps representatives of the Chinese army.

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