War won't make us safe As our soldiers seek to cripple...

SATURDAY MAILBOX

November 10, 2001

War won't make us safe

As our soldiers seek to cripple the terrorist network, we've seen a spate of articles and letters encouraging thinking "outside the box" militarily.

Indeed, we hope our military cleverly achieves certain limited objectives against the Taliban in Afghanistan, perhaps even capturing or killing Osama bin Laden. But the truth is that we need to cast our nets even wider in search of strategies to defeat terrorism.

Violence alone does not work as a means to end conflict and ensure security - look at the Israeli-Palestinian dilemma, Northern Ireland, Chechnya.

Only by using the ingenuity of all of our people can we successfully wage a campaign to ensure peace and our security.

The fact is that America is now being attacked again by anthrax via the mail, and will be attacked again and again so long as the conditions that breed intense hatred of the United States exist.

We apparently draw comfort from our ignorance of the impact of "market forces" on the billions of poor people around the globe. But exporting free-enterprise capitalism seems not to have improved their lot so much as it has enriched multinational corporations and well-placed, host-country oligarchs.

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said recently that poverty, illiteracy and hunger provide a breeding ground for tolerance of terrorism.

And President Bush has announced $320 million in food and medical aid for the people of Afghanistan, suggesting that this is a way to show we are friends of the Afghan people.

Yet we clearly need new, bold initiatives to counter the conditions that grow terrorists.

Building and maintaining peaceful and just conditions won't be easy.

Right here in America, our society struggles with the quiet tragedies of poverty, homelessness, poor education and inadequate health care

We need to experiment with creative solutions, thinking and acting outside the box, then be prepared for lifestyle changes more far-reaching than longer waits in airport security lines.

The rest of the world is watching.

Frank L. Fox

Mechanicsville

The writer is a member of Peace Action of Southern Maryland.

Ignoring gifted kids

While I am heartened that city school officials are finally listening to middle-class parents in neighborhoods such as Mount Washington ("City bids to recast middle schools," Oct. 24), the exodus from our school will continue without a true commitment to a gifted and talented program.

Mount Washington Elementary's bid for independence from North Avenue last year was a valiant effort by parents and teachers to stem the flow of students to private and county schools.

But that flow has continued, because of not only an unacceptable middle school option provided by the city, but also the flagrant failure of school officials to meet the needs of high achievers.

Since the city school system dropped funding for gifted and talented in our school in 1993, it has also adopted an increasingly rigid curriculum that requires teachers citywide to teach the same material on the same day, regardless of their students' needs or talents. Teachers say they attempt to provide challenges for the more academically able but are stymied by this one-size-fits-all approach.

My sons were among the slew of high-achieving students who left the school last year before completing fifth grade. Despite our commitment to public education, my husband and I chose to send them to a parochial school, where their need for enrichment would be taken as seriously as other students' need for remediation.

After declining to give "new school" status to Mount Washington Elementary last summer, schools chief Carmen V. Russo did at the 11th hour agree to fund a gifted and talented position this year for our school. But two months into the school year, that position still has not been filled.

Joan Wisner-Carlson

Baltimore

The writer was among the authors of the New School Initiative Plan for Mount Washington Elementary.

Goucher did warn neighbors

The recent letter "Neighbors can't celebrate Goucher's frightful fireworks" (Nov. 1) chastised Goucher College for neglecting to tell the surrounding communities about its planned celebration of the inauguration of its 10th president with a display of fireworks.

We at Goucher wish to express our deep regret that anyone in the community was scared or startled by the fireworks. However, we want them to know that Goucher did indeed make every effort in advance to alert neighboring communities.

We contacted the Edenwald, Towson Woods and Campus Hills neighborhood associations and were promised that residents would be notified about our celebration. Announcements were also made at the Towson Partnership meeting, the Towson Development Corp. meeting and the Towson Business Association meeting.

Our office also alerted the media, including the Towson Times and all TV and radio stations with press releases. We also informed the local police.

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