Balto. Co. schools show little benefit from added...


March 17, 2001

Balto. Co. schools show little benefit from added spending

County Executive C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger correctly points out that, during my years as a councilman, I always supported his education budgets. ("Councilman's criticisms don't match his actions," letters, Feb. 21). He is also correct that, since his election as county executive in 1994, Baltimore County has spent "unprecedented money for education."

In fact, during his six years in office, Mr. Ruppersberger has increased spending for education by 46 percent, adding 1,906 full-time employees to the education rolls.

As public school enrollment has increased by only 5 percent during these same years, it is reasonable to ask, as I have done, where is the bang for the buck? Shouldn't a 46 percent increase in spending be matched by a corresponding increase in performance?

While some gains have been noted, they are neither uniform nor close to the rate of growth in education spending. Indeed, for the first time in the county's history, the state is threatening to take over a failing school.

My call for better public schools is not a criticism of the current spending levels, but a demand for accountability of the money we are spending.

Douglas B. Riley, Towson

The writer is a candidate for Baltimore County executive.

`Zero tolerance' can work without impeding learning

I agree with Susan Reimer that discipline without reason is senseless. I do not agree that zero tolerance is wrong ("Discipline without reason is senseless," March 6).

As an elementary school principal, I used zero tolerance. We had no suspensions. But we did not tolerate students interrupting instruction or being abusive.

Consequences included in-school suspension for a few minutes or the rest of the day, depending upon the student's state of mind or infraction. Learning continued for the class and the disruptive student.

We flew a peace flag outside to demonstrate that our school was a safe place to learn and posted zero-tolerance rules inside the school. These rules and the flag were respected and appreciated by our school community, staff and students.

Claudia L. Brown, Baltimore

The writer is a former principal of Brehms Lane Elementary School.

The problem isn't guns, but inattentive parents

I have to disagree with the letter "To stop the shootings, get rid of the guns" (March 14). If anything, guns were more available when I was young.

We faced no background checks and waiting periods and could walk into a gun shop or department store and buy whatever gun one wanted, no questions asked.

The problem is not the guns, it is the lack of two-parent families.

We need to stop blaming the object and put the blame where it belongs, with the parents who don't know what is going on in their kids' lives.

Joseph C. Weaver, Baltimore

Orientation-based bias is just as dreadful as racism

It disappointed me to read that Del. Emmett C. Burns Jr. suggested that bias against gays and lesbians isn't comparable to that based on skin color because sexual orientation is less visible ("Weighing in on anti-bias bill," March 10).

Last July, in a little town in West Virginia, a black teen-ager, well known to be gay, was kicked bloody with steal-toed shoes while he begged for his life, then run over by a car four times before he died ("Rights groups seek investigation in death of gay W. Va. man," July 8).

Although two white teen-agers are in custody, no conviction is assured, and the town's small black population stands terrified and victimized. No person is erudite enough to divide up the barbaric lynching by color vs. sexual orientation.

And any pretense that discrimination or lynching based on sexual orientation is more humane than that based on skin color is incompatible with basic principles of human decency.

Stefan Goodwin, Baltimore

Bookstore's demise opens a void in local culture

Thank you for The Sun's editorial "Loss of plucky Bibelot lessens quality of life" (March 13). As an avid reader and bookstore browser, it certainly will lessen the quality of my life. It is a sad commentary on our time and a tragic cultural loss.

The quality of our life is slowly slipping into a cultural depression. But indeed we do "dare to hope that some way can be found to revive what is about to be lost."

The Bibelot concept was unique. It needs to be continued.

Barbara P. Katz, Baltimore

Seedy surroundings scare off Lexington Market patrons

I work near the "world famous" Lexington Market. Although the products are excellent, the market is a scary place to visit.

Drug deals take place openly, panhandlers outnumber customers and people in heroin stupors block the walkway.

Will the city ever clean this wound so that it may heal?

Kathy Shanks, Baltimore

State ignores the needs of nurses and teachers

Barbara Heller's column on the nursing shortage echoes the cries heard for years from the teaching profession ("Nursing nears a critical stage," Opinion* Commentary, March 13).

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