Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

March 20, 2006

School closing plan makes little sense

There is nothing about the school closings plan in Baltimore that makes good sense.

Even if you can ignore, as I cannot, the passionate stories from parents, teachers and community members about the excellent learning culture in the schools about to be closed, these questions came to mind as I listened at the forum that The Sun's article "More speak out against school plan" (March 12) reported on.

Why is the board even discussing moving the students at Laurence G. Paquin Middle/High School, which has a 40-year history of keeping young pregnant women in school, to the Lake Clifton High School campus?

Paquin's current building includes a health facility, a licensed day care facility and a Head Start program for the women, babies and children, which complies with Maryland state regulations.

Since the Lake Clifton campus has none of these facilities and little unused space, does the board intend to renovate it so these services can continue? Or will it destroy the original intent of this strong school? And how much disruption will this cause in the lives of young women and their babies who attend Paquin?

Also, why would the board even consider closing Dr. Samuel L. Banks High School, one of the small high schools recently created with the assistance of foundation funds - a school that, after three years of operation, has a much higher graduation rate than the citywide rate, along with an outstanding academic and athletic program, active parent participation and a safe environment - and send the students to a huge middle school/high school complex without comparable facilities and with many problems of internal and neighborhood culture?

I believe discussions about closing schools should be first and foremost about improving academic performance, finding excellent teachers for our children and reducing class sizes.

You just cannot move students around like chess pieces on a board or numbers in a computer.

Betty Robinson

Baltimore

Repeal energy tax to aid ratepayers

To no one's great surprise, Mayor Martin O'Malley has used the impending electric rate increases as an opportunity for political posturing and attacks on Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. ("Critics say agency not helping consumers," March 14).

However, the cost of electricity is directly tied to the cost of the fuel used to produce it. And like it or not, Baltimore Gas & Electric Co. is not a charity and has to make a profit to survive. To sell a product at a loss is not, to use a favorite liberal buzzword, "sustainable."

Unless he is single-handedly capable of lowering the cost of coal, oil and natural gas, there is nothing Mr. O'Malley can do about the price of fuel, and hence the price of electricity.

But there is something Mr. O'Malley can do if he is truly interested in reducing the cost of electricity in Baltimore.

The city imposes an energy tax, which could be repealed to reduce electricity bills.

Mr. O'Malley prides himself on being a man of action.

Repealing the city's energy tax would give him an easy opportunity to prove himself.

Gary A. Smith

Baltimore

A word of advice for council leader

I have one word of advice for City Council President Sheila Dixon: resign ("Dixon probe begins," March 16).

Galen White

Baltimore

Razing Rochambeau would be a big blow

I very much enjoyed reading about the restoration of Baltimore's Basilica of the Assumption ("With reopening of basilica near, its message is alive," March 16).

Unfortunately, the Archdiocese of Baltimore continues its irresponsible efforts to move toward the destruction of one of Baltimore's architectural gems: the nearby 100-year-old Rochambeau apartment building.

The archdiocese paid $3.5 million for this building in 2002. Now it wants to squander that money by destroying the Rochambeau.

The destruction of the Rochambeau would be a blow to our architectural heritage.

It's time for the archdiocese to be a good neighbor and a good steward of our architectural heritage by saving the Rochambeau.

G. Byron Stover

Baltimore

The writer is a member of the Mount Vernon-Belvedere Association.

U.S. troops in Iraq add fuel to violence

The sine qua non of "pre-emptive war" is that there should actually be a threat to pre-empt ("Gentler document affirms pre-emption," March 17). That wasn't the case in Iraq when we invaded, and it is not the case now.

Instead, we're mired in sectarian violence that rivals Saddam Hussein's atrocities. And the U.S. troop presence under the leadership of the likes of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and Vice President Dick Cheney fuels this violence.

It will not end until we leave, and dismantle our bases on the way out.

Congress must stand up to the president, the vice president and their cabal of neoconservative advisers and demand that we exit Iraq.

Some Democrats have seen the light. Will the Republicans grow a spine as well?

Allyson Mattanah

Baltimore

End the isolation that harms Cubans

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