A city schools budget that will benefit all our...


April 05, 1999

A city schools budget that will benefit all our students

The Sun's article "Schools seek millions more for disabled" (March 23) on the Baltimore City public school system's proposed fiscal 2000 budget incorrectly stated that we are proposing a $15 million increase in expenditures to support special education. The fact is that this amount reflects an increase in the fiscal 2000 proposed budget over the adopted fiscal 1999 budget -- not over our 1999 expenditures.

The article also overlooked the fact that special education spending includes support services for all students -- not just those with special needs.

It is unfortunate that the article devoted so much space to special education spending. My staff has worked diligently over the last several months to prepare a budget that reflects our efforts to implement the reforms outlined in a Senate bill by enacting our master plan. These initiatives are critical if we are to truly reform the Baltimore City public school system.

This year's budget request contains significant funding for the school reforms contained in our master plan: maintaining the reading curriculum, implementing the mathematics curriculum, reducing class size in grades one through five; placing reading teachers in middle schools and resource teachers in elementary schools, providing additional support for high school teachers, providing resource teachers in elementary schools, extending the work year for new teachers and adding transitional programs and new management systems.

I am sure your reporters will continue to follow the process as the city's Board of School Commissioners considers the fiscal 2000 budget. It is my hope that future articles highlight the school system's solid initiatives to improve student achievement and system accountability.

Robert Booker, Baltimore

The writer is chief executive officer of Baltimore City Public Schools.

Are we cutting crime of just moving it?

Your editorial "Reducing city killings by seizing illegal guns" (March 28) draws attention to the importance of getting illegal guns off of the streets. Scientific research supports the claim that increasing gun seizures reduces gun violence, including homicide.

However, the second claim in the editorial is far more troublesome. You claim that dispersing crime and drug dealing from locations such as high-rise public housing projects has the effect of spreading crime around to nearby areas. On this point, you wander far afield from scientific evidence. Substantial research that the National Academy of Sciences has cited shows just the opposite: The concentration of crime-risk factors in small geographic areas produce a net increase in crime.

Moreover, your evidence about displacement caused by the Glendening-Townsend administration's Hot Spots initiative is highly anecdotal and fails to identify any source. How much crime is displaced from that initiative's target areas is a complex statistical question, on which the University of Maryland's Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice is working to provide a partial answer. For statistical reasons, it is premature to answer this question now, but we will make public the results of our research as they become available.

In the meantime, I would caution my fellow readers of your distinguished publication to distinguish anecdotal from systematic evidence.

Lawrence W. Sherman, College Park

The writer is professor and chair of the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of Maryland, College Park.

`Technology park' could revive community

There is no consensus in the Ednor Gardens community on the fate of Memorial Stadium and, since the Ravens left, there has been uncertainty about the site's future. Happily, the Dome Corp. has presented an innovative proposal that would preserve the stadium and convert it into spaces for a number of science and technology-related businesses.

This "technology park" would provide a significant number of decent-paying jobs and could attract residents who would contribute to a stable tax base for the city while preserving the stadium as a landmark.

In an incomplete canvas of several blocks in Ednor Gardens, it was easy to find more than 100 signers for a petition in support of this proposal.

The conversion of Memorial Stadium -- like the creative reuses of the warehouse at Camden Yards, the American Can Co., the Power Plant and Port Discovery -- could rejuvenate and stabilize the surrounding community while honoring and preserving a unique part of Baltimore's past.

Anna Mae Becker, Baltimore

355th Fighter Group financed memorial

It was wonderful to see the 355th Fighter Group memorial displayed on the front of the Travel section March 28. Members of that group value and hold dear a long-lasting relationship with many English people in the Steeple Marden area.

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