We've read enough about SchoonoverIn response to The Sun's...

LETTERS

November 29, 1998

We've read enough about Schoonover

In response to The Sun's Nov. 16 article in Today, "Who's afraid of Jamie Schoonover?": I am disappointed that your paper would waste so much time, space and ink on such a parenthetical issue.

I am empathetic toward Miss Schoonover's situation. However, I do not feel that this issue needed to be publicized to the extent that it has been.

This same issue has been written about at least twice in your paper, although the last article seemed to be more about publicity for Miss Schoonover's "normal" teen-age life than a follow-up on the situation.

If you were going to cover a story on a "normal" teen-ager, I feel that Miss Schoonover was not a wise choice. Most teen-agers do not live in gutted rowhouses with a transsexual mother (which, by the way, was an unnecessary detail) and do not practice witchcraft. I would describe Miss Schoonover as more of an "ordinary" teen-ager in an extraordinary situation.

I propose that you cover this type of issue in the back pages. Miss Schoonover's situation seems merely tangential to community life in Baltimore, and not sufficiently newsworthy for a feature article on the front of any section of your paper.

Brooke E. Bascietto

Columbia

Graduation rates aren't about sports

It is interesting that when The Sun reports on graduation rates among Maryland colleges, it frequently appears in sports.

The most recent occurrence was Nov. 13 ("UMES tries to fix graduation rate flaw") and concerned the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. One would think that such information about a public institution would be readily available to newspapers.

From the article by Don Markus, it is rather difficult to understand the information. How could the data get confused?

One statement indicates there were 60 incoming athletes in 1991. Another statement reads "we did not have 60 athletes come into the school for the first time in 1991." What about athletes who entered for the "first time" as sophomores, juniors or seniors?

If 160 athletes now receive aid and there were eight entering freshmen in 1991, where did all the athletes come from since 1991 to carry the UMES banner?

Other related data would be of interest: Does the figure apply only to those on scholarship? How many students are participating in NCAA activities? How many athletes received aid? How much eligibility do athletes have who graduate in six years?

Unfortunately, a complete picture is hard to come by. In the 1993 rankings by Money magazine, the percentage of students receiving aid, the number who graduated in five years (not six) and the number in the top fifth of their high school class were "not available" for UMES. In the 1995 edition, 90 percent of all students received aid, and those graduating in six years were 31 percent of the total enrollment.

According to Internet data, 1997 for Money and 1998 for U.S. News & World Report, less than three-quarters of all freshmen return as sophomores. Money lists the percentage of four-year graduates as 14 and for six-year as 27. The national average is 41 and 56. The student/faculty ratio is 25 to 1, the largest for a northern Tier-4 college. And no data is available for the percentage of full-time faculty or freshmen in the top 25 percent of their class.

It is also noteworthy that UMES was not even mentioned in the latest magazine version of U.S. News statistics for colleges. Yet Salisbury State was ranked 9th among all North Regional Universities, along with Towson.

It's amazing what little coverage The Sun offers parents on statistics for Maryland higher education, either public or private, yet it complains every year about the data supplied by rating groups.

R. D. Bush

Columbia

Tobacco settlement rewards lawyers

It is beyond comprehension that the state would settle a major suit with the tobacco companies for $4.5 billion and share a fee of several hundred million dollars with a city law firm that has suffered no pain and whose services can no way measure up to this fee. It would be irresponsible for the leadership of the legislature to permit this plan to be executed.

The funds should go to those who suffered and to the remedial steps that will reduce the consumption of tobacco in Maryland. One logical step is to eliminate the production of tobacco in Maryland, effective immediately, and to aid the current producers in changing their farming businesses to other produce lines. If this settlement provides immunity for the tobacco companies from future responsibility, then it was a poorly executed case.

James M. Holway

Ellicott City

Pub Date: 11/29/98

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