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Expanded hall brings revenue to Baltimore While we...

SATURDAY MAILBOX

June 15, 2002

There are many reasons children do not succeed in school. But becoming successful is an ongoing, multifaceted project. One key element in this process is developing students' self-esteem and confidence in their abilities.

Instead of humiliating these children, let's focus on the real, day-to-day issues of encouraging and educating them.

If summer school instruction is necessary, let's make sure the curriculum is comprehensive and the teachers are qualified to instruct students who obviously need help.

Now is not the time for taunts and ridicule. Now is the time to support and encourage our children to strive for academic achievement and personal success.

Mary Beauchamp

Perry Hall

Mikulski's vote costs security and safety

I expected nothing more from the manager of the GM plant in Baltimore than the letter "Mikulski's vote shows she cares about workers" (June 5). After all, he knows which side of his bread is buttered. But I did expect more from our senator.

It is unfortunate that Sen. Barbara Mikulski sided with big oil and big business by voting against a bill that would have mandated a 50 percent increase in passenger-vehicle gas mileage.

It is unfortunate because this decision will do nothing to lessen our dependence on foreign oil, much of which comes from unstable areas, including the Middle East.

This dependency undermines our very security. We already fought one war (Desert Storm) because of oil. And now I don't want any member of my family, or anyone else's family, to die on the sands of the Mideast because of someone's foolish desire to drive a truck or SUV.

It is unfortunate because her decision will only allow more pollutants to be discharged into the atmosphere.

SUVs and light trucks are allowed to discharge up to four times the emissions of a passenger vehicle. And Ms. Mikulski also voted against legislation that would have required SUVs and light trucks to meet the same emission standard as passenger cars.

It is unfortunate because of the dangers posed by massive SUVs in collisions with normal-size cars.

I drive a compact car, and find myself increasingly put into unsafe conditions because of the many SUVs on the road today. Just pulling out of a parking space is dangerous at times when the roof of my car ends at the window of the SUV in the next space.

It is unfortunate because large SUVs and trucks create additional hazards. In Catonsville, which was established in the early 1800s, many of the roads are narrow. SUVs (or their drivers) cannot make some of the turns without straying into the oncoming lane of traffic and their bulk creates hazards for pedestrians.

And it is unfortunate because her decision will only hasten the day when there is no more oil.

We are rapidly depleting this limited resource -- and no more oil is being created.

Steve Shimko

Catonsville

Character counts in education, too

On May 27, an editorial regarding character education ("First, the basics") and a news article on Dontay Jackson's academic success ("After years of fighting odds, payoff for west-side student") were reminders that education should be focused on the basics, but that its success requires more than bigger budgets, administrative restructuring, quality teachers, better materials and uniform testing -- all of which have received deserved attention from The Sun.

A good learning environment in school and supportive adults in the lives of students also matter. Teachers tell us parental involvement is crucial and that where there are no effective parents, mentors can partially fulfill that role.

They also report, and this has been corroborated by an independent study and by a 1997 survey of many city schools, that character education has a positive impact on the climate of the school, allowing teachers to teach and students to learn unmolested by classroom disruptions.

It is not surprising, therefore, that every school system in Maryland, public and private, includes character education in some form.

Indeed, I have had many opportunities to witness character education in the classroom. And each time I have come away more convinced that it plays a constructive role in achieving the education goals so well and frequently advanced by The Sun.

Thus it is to the advantage of every student and parent in Maryland that all our political leaders and our local and state education leaders understand the importance of character education in preparing children for the future.

John Carroll Byrnes

Baltimore

The writer is chairman of the Maryland Center for Character Education.

Defense Department derelict in its duty

It's high time the U.S. intelligence agencies -- especially that sacred cow, the FBI -- had their untouchability punctured. But the failures and abuses of the FBI are small potatoes compared with the abysmal Sept. 11 failure of that most colossal of sacred cows, the Department of Defense.

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