Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

August 17, 2005

Ruling promises to clean up mess in city's schools

Kudos to U.S. District Judge Marvin J. Garbis for giving state education officials the job of controlling the troubled special education program in Baltimore ("State is given some control over city schools," Aug. 13). Special education in Baltimore's public schools has been like a cancerous sore festering for years.

I was not a special education teacher, but I witnessed the chaotic state of special education as an elementary school teacher and reading teacher in Baltimore for 30 years.

Many times it was better that a designated special education student remain in the regular classroom rather than be dispatched to a special education class.

And then "mainstreaming" came along, and special education students were in a regular classroom for part of the day, but also took classes with a special education teacher.

But often the special education teacher could not teach the students assigned to him or her because that teacher was busy doing other duties for the principal or was testing constantly to see if the child belonged in special education.

The individual educational plans for each child were ridiculous. The plans were seldom followed or updated.

Screening meetings, which determined special education status, were a joke because most of those who participated did not seem reliable or knowledgeable about what was needed for the child.

A lot of mislabeling of students as special education students went on - in which children were sent to special education because they were discipline problems. But all discipline problems are not special education students. And that is when special education became a dumping ground.

This description of what I witnessed was not characteristic of all of the city teachers involved in special education but fits enough of them to cause alarm.

I hope Judge Garbis' decision will change the fact that many special education students have gotten the short end of the stick for years.

Lola J. Massey

Owings Mills

State deserves say over special ed

U.S. District Judge Marvin J. Garbis finally made the right decision. Since the state is on the hook for more money than the city with regard to the special education mess, the state should have the final say on how to fix the problem ("State is given some control of city schools," Aug. 13).

However, I'll be surprised if city and school personnel don't sabotage every effort the state makes. The managers the state sends in will probably receive no cooperation, and will have to watch their backs every second.

Mayor Martin O'Malley's response to the ruling intimates as much.

And those delegates complaining about the $1.4 million price tag for the state's oversight plan have got to be the biggest clowns in the world.

Perhaps if the city spent the taxpayers' money on schools, instead of hotels and pork, the schools would actually be functional.

Jay Davis

Churchville

Cap menhaden catch to help save the bay

Candus Thomson is exactly right in her support for Greenpeace's involvement in the effort to protect the menhaden in the Chesapeake Bay ("Menhaden defense fund: lots of hot air, some roiled water," Aug. 14). Greenpeace knows how to fight, and a fight is what is needed here.

Today, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) will vote on a proposal to cap the annual menhaden catch in the bay, although a moratorium would be more appropriate.

The Omega Protein Corporation, working out of Reedsville, Va., has steadily decimated the bay's menhaden population - a critical food source for striped bass (rockfish) and a crucial filter for Chesapeake Bay water. The company should be stopped now.

The Chesapeake Bay isn't Omega's property and, if the company is not stopped, it will destroy the menhaden, the sport fishery, the commercial fishery and, soon, those 268 jobs in Reedsville that they keep talking about.

Donald H. Stevens

Towson

Arab murderers are still protected

While Israeli religious fanatics who murdered Arabs can be counted on the fingers of one hand ("How will Israel treat murderer of Arabs?" letters, Aug. 10), Arabs who have committed similar crimes number in the hundreds if not in the thousands.

And some are protected by Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority, never prosecuted and living in comfort.

Nelson Marans

Silver Spring

Abandoning Iraq an insult to the dead

I'm very sorry for Cindy Sheehan's loss but that doesn't give her the right to expect a permanent audience with the President of the United States ("Bush passes protest site near ranch," Aug. 13).

She's already had her 15 minutes. Before she gets a second turn, there are 280 million-plus of us who'd like our 15 minutes of fame, thank you.

And there is a lot more that could be left as a legacy to all the brave men and women who gave their lives in the cause of freedom in Iraq, than whining, screaming and cutting and running, which is something America does too often nowadays.

We could stand tall and win for a change, too.

Douglas Hermann

Parkville

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