If the Baraka School works well, why not provide public...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

June 23, 2000

If the Baraka School works well, why not provide public funds?

The Sun's editorial about public monies and the Baraka School reached a puzzling and wrong-headed conclusion ("No public funds for Baraka," June 16).

It first concluded that, notwithstanding the missteps of the past year, the Baraka program offers great promise and has provided a better education and environment for most of the children placed there in recent years.

But it then urged that no public dollars be spent in support of the Baraka School.

Since the Abell Foundation's request for public support was for less money than would be spent on those children in their Baltimore's public schools, The Sun was essentially arguing that the school system should not participate in providing a better education product and outcome for less money, simply because the school is not located in Baltimore and staffed by public school employees.

If we accept the conclusion that the Baraka School is a better one for these kids, I do not understand The Sun's logic.

I am sure The Sun has endorsed, and will continue to endorse, the notion that public schools, within appropriate constraints, should fund or help fund nonpublic placements for children with special needs, when an appropriate education cannot be provided in the public schools.

Why should schools not be able to do the same thing for other children, so long as the system is satisfied with the quality of the alternative education and the public dollars expended are fewer than what would be spent on the students in a traditional public school?

George A. Nilson

Baltimore

Different sentences for killers suggest racism

Let me get this straight: Eugene Colvin-el (a black man) was found guilty of killing an elderly white woman during a robbery and was sentenced to death.

Daniel Starkey (a white man) was found guilty of stalking three black women for more than 20 miles, killing one and attempting to kill the others as they returned from Christmas shopping, and sentenced to less than 30 years in prison, with the possibility of parole ("Man guilty in Kent killing," June 16).

That sure looks like racism to me.

Elisabeth Kato

Columbia

Contributors to the IRA know what they're supporting

There is nothing "romantic" about Irish Republican Army (IRA) gun-running, but American contributors to the IRA were hardly naive or gullible ("The IRA's Florida pipeline," editorial, June 15).

Most heard eyewitness accounts of life under the British in Northern Ireland and made a choice to help oppressed people.

In the years before the Balfour Declaration and the partition of Palestine, Americans gave money to messengers from the Irgun who had similar tales of brutality.

The Sun freely uses the words "terror" and "terrorism" when referring to the IRA. But as the Saville Commission in Derry has heard, the only terrorists in 1972 were murderous British paratroopers.

In the decades that followed, the only "reign of terror over Catholic slums" was conducted not by the IRA but loyalists and the Royal Ulster Constabulary.

In that time was The Sun exposing official death squads, challenging internment, or trials without juries? No.

The success of the Belfast Agreement today depends on the British recognizing that they caused and expanded Ireland's conflict with all manner of corruption of law and justice.

Michael J. Cummings

Albany, N.Y.

The writer is press secretary for the Ancient Order of Hibernians in America.

The governor was right to stop Colvin-el's execution

As a Catholic, I am opposed to the death penalty. I felt relief when Eugene Colvin-el's life was spared.

Does this make me a bleeding-heart liberal? Wasn't Jesus one of those?

For me, the governor's reasoning was sound. Killing by the state should require a higher degree of certainty than was present in this case.

In today's bloodthirsty political climate, where a politician earns crime-fighting bona fides by executions, Gov. Parris N. Glendening's action took courage.

I think the death penalty and the ready availability of firearms keep warm a contagion of violence that has infected us all and makes murder commonplace.

If either guns or the death penalty were a deterrent to killing, the United States would have the lowest murder rate among nations. The opposite is the case.

Most things about being an American make me proud; how we kill each other makes me ashamed.

Mark Kirby

Baltimore

It's testimony, not truth, that decides court cases

Anyone who believes what came out of Ray Lewis' murder trial in Atlanta was the truth is a fool ("Lewis case unraveled in light of the truth" June 14).

The fact is that juries do not decide truth, but determine guilt or innocence based on testimony. That testimony often has little to do with the truth.

In the Atlanta trial, there were too many changed stories and contradictions in stories given to know what the truth is. There was enough doubt that a guilty verdict was unreasonable.

However, to assert that what was presented was the truth is not rational.

Keith Detweiler

Stewartstown, Pa.

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