Morgan engineering: national role model or academic...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

June 30, 2000

Morgan engineering: national role model or academic failure?

In 1906, one of the African-American stalwarts of intelligentsia, W.E.B. DuBois said that the question of the 20th century would be the issue of the color line. It appears that that prophecy has followed us into the new millennium.

When I read the June 25 editorial "Baltimore needs electrical engineers," it filled me with shame that the powers that be are cloaking racism in convenience.

Morgan State University is under attack by invisible opponents who want to see its electrical engineering program duplicated at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

The nation has recognized the stellar work accomplished by Morgan's engineering department. Let's not dim the lights at home. Morgan's program serves as a role model to the nation that "historically black" colleges and universities are not inferior.

What better way to begin diversity in this city (that is beginning to tarnish its charm) than providing an opportunity for students from all different cultures and ethnic groups with a sterling institution that offers a marketable education.

If we keep the program at Morgan then we will not make our pledge of allegiance a hypocritical oath, "One nation under God, with liberty and justice for all."

The Rev. Dr. Jamal-Harrison Bryant, Baltimore

It is time for free and open competition in the education industry. America became the industrial marvel of the planet because we had vigorous competition in every industry, reinforced by laws that prohibited collusion in restraint of trade.

By contrast, the Soviet Union planned everything, allocated products to factories and markets to products, and failed totally.

Today, our education system is an embarrassment. At all levels, other nations outperform us. Our employers turn to immigrants to find well-qualified technical people.

It is time for the breath of free and fair competition among education vendors to infuse new life into our institutions of higher learning.

Unfortunately, racism and favoritism restrain both public and private institutions from open competition.

State and federal officials collude to deny our racially integrated institutions the opportunity to compete with a de facto segregated institution for students in certain key fields. This is fully reported on your pages in the "Education Beat" column on June 21 ("A no-prisoners policy in academia turf wars").

The segregated institution is Morgan State University. The integrated institutions are the University of Baltimore, Towson University and University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

All these schools have successfully made the transition from segregated to integrated institutions. Morgan has failed.

The reasons are obvious. Morgan won't turn its back on its segregated history. It continues to market itself as a historically black institution and wonders why it cannot attract students of European ancestry.

Suppose some other school touted itself as a historically Caucasian institution. Would it have success attracting African-American students?

The effort to prop up Morgan's minuscule non-black enrollment by granting it a monopoly in certain course areas and degrees has also failed. Even with magnet programs such as electrical engineering, it continues to remain of single complexion.

And it is manifestly unfair to potential students to face them with the choice of either going away from home for key programs or attending a segregated institution that is openly hostile to their ethnic ancestry.

It is time to pull the plug on segregation of all varieties and proceed to a fully integrated system of higher education. Those schools that have failed to integrate their student bodies in the 30 or so years since the civil rights movement should be chastised, not rewarded with monopolies.

Most important, all schools should be free to offer whatever courses and degrees they can market to potential student. Only then will we have the benefits of open competition in the educational marketplace. Free enterprise works.

John Culleton, Eldersburg

Trash is heritage of poor upbringing

Much has been written in The Sun lately on the subject of trash and litter in the city. And as usual, the response from city dwellers and authorities alike is more fines and restrictions for property owners and, especially, for landlords.

The root problem is never addressed, that children are never taught respect and consideration for neighbors, that neighborhoods are public places where they live.

Instead, what they see are adults trashing public places and not just out of carelessness or even ignorance, but to make a statement of contempt for what is considered to be "the establishment's" rules and fetishes.

Obviously not all city folk are so mean-spirited, not even most. But too many are. And they define the city to outsiders and strangers.

If there is to be a change, it will have to begin in people's heads and attitudes. The city's powerful churches and spiritual leaders will have to get more involved.

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