Schools must strive to identify at-risk kids in the...


March 28, 2002

Schools must strive to identify at-risk kids in the early grades

The report of the success of the Mary E. Moss Academy in Anne Arundel County underscores the importance of full funding for comprehensive alternative education programs ("A school of refuge for second chance," March 17).

Principal Vanessa V. Bass' concern about the fate of the students who are returned to their home schools without follow-up services echoes the frustrations of many educators involved in the design and implementation of programs to help meet the needs of at-risk students.

Despite the evidence that students make significant improvements in school attendance, development of social skills and academic achievement while they are attending alternative education programs, most students are admitted to such programs on a temporary basis and quickly sent back to the general education setting without the support they need to make a smooth transition.

Consequently, the positive effects of the alternative program are negated, and the education and safety of general education students is compromised.

School systems need to become more proactive in identifying at-risk students in the elementary grades, when the academic failures that tend to lead to delinquent behaviors are first noticed.

Early identification and intervention should help to reduce the number of students who need intensive and costly services at the secondary level. The savings could be used to develop effective transition programs for students ready to return to the general education program.

Kevin L. Ensor


The writer is a college counselor at Hereford High School.

BGE will fully support downtown high school

The Sun's editorial "Fears vs. hopes" (March 15) inaccurately portrays the position of Baltimore Gas & Electric Co. on the downtown tourism and finance academy.

BGE is fully supportive of both the academy concept and a downtown location for it. And contrary to what the editorial suggested, BGE is not opposed to the Charles Center location.

We do, however, share some of the concerns raised about the location - notably traffic safety in the area - and believe a more suitable site in the area can be found.

But regardless of the location, BGE is ready to welcome and actively support the academy.

Gregory C. Martin


The writer is vice president of BGE's General Services Division.

Subsidy for textbooks isn't too much to ask

Why are so many people worried about a relatively few dollars given by the state to buy nonsectarian textbooks for private schools? It's not like this little bit of money is going to make a big difference in the public schools' budget.

I choose to send my son to a private school not because I can afford it (as a single parent it is a real stretch), but because he needs the attention the public schools can't or won't give him.

Yet I have paid taxes to Maryland for more than 25 years. For most of those years my tax dollars went to an education system that I made no use of because I did not have children.

Now that I have a school-age child, is it too much to ask that he receive a minuscule benefit - assistance in paying for textbooks? Considering all I have paid in taxes, I don't think it is.

Eve E. Prietz


Democrats' partisanship creates political cynicism

First, our governor's redistricting map reeks of political expediency, at the expense of fair and meaningful representation for the citizens of Maryland.

Then, a Democratic hatchet job by the Senate Judiciary Committee on the confirmation of an apparently qualified appeals court nominee comes at the expense of much-needed enhancements to the judicial system ("Panel rejects Bush appeals court nominee," March 15).

And people wonder why there is cynicism about our entire political process.

W.J. Valis


Rules protecting musicians evolve from history of abuse

In "Best Behavior" (March 9), Tim Smith cited "union rules" as the cause of Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Music Director Yuri Temirkanov's frustration on the BSO's recent European tour.

The rules that Mr. Temirkanov labors under are those of a negotiated collective bargaining agreement to which the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Association and Local 40-543 of the American Federation of Musicians are signatories.

They are not, as Mr. Smith implies, unilateral, arbitrary rules imposed by the union. Furthermore, they are not spun from whole cloth, but have evolved from a history of abuse by some music directors.

We make no apologies for the restriction contained in the labor agreement.

Jack Hook


The writer is secretary-treasurer of American Federation of Musicians Local 40-543.

Other countries produce steel at a lower cost

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