Letters To The Editor


April 04, 2006

A bias on behalf of takeover foe?

The Sun's coverage of state Sen. Nathaniel J. McFadden's efforts to delay the state's takeover of city public schools was biased ("Delay sought in school takeover," March 31). The article portrayed the senator as a heroic man fighting for justice against the evil state education system.

According to The Sun, after the "defiant Sen. Nathaniel J. McFadden jumped to his feet" and pushed two pieces of legislation through committee "at warp speed" (or faster than a speeding bullet?), the valiant senator then revealed his sensitive side when he "broke down and wept outside the meeting room."

What is this: newspaper coverage or a paperback novel?

Turning a politician on one side of the political debate into a noble protagonist is no way to objectively report on a very serious issue.

Those of us who love Baltimore and care about its schools deserve better.

Alex Csicsek


State had to help the city's children

State Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick and the Maryland State Department of Education had no choice: They were ethically and legally required to act to ensure that no child in Maryland is denied the education to which he or she is entitled ("Delay sought in school takeover," March 31).

Understandably, the city schools would like to get their hands on as much money as possible with as few strings attached as possible.

However, federal law and the state constitution both require accountability, regardless of any action taken by the Maryland legislature.

Jonathan Inskeep


Disrupting schools won't help the kids

The last thing the students and teachers of Baltimore need is the disruption of the state taking over schools and imposing yet another layer of bureaucratic confusion.

And a one-year moratorium is an inadequate legislative response to the state superintendent's bid for control over 11 schools ("Assembly OKs delay in takeover of schools," April 1).

The more appropriate response is for legislators to fully fund the Thornton plan.

Guaranteeing the funding should give principals and their staffs a decade of stability free from gimmicks and fads.

Educators need at least that much time to overcome the long history of intrusive politics and power plays that have undermined even their best efforts.

The success of well-funded, consistently implemented instruction is well documented, while, as Sun reporters have observed, the success of state takeovers is rare.

Jo Ann O. Robinson


Grasmick deserves most of the blame

Since 1997, state schools Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick and the state have been partners with Baltimore in trying to improve the city schools. Consequently, blame for any failure in the city schools has to be shared by the state and the city ("Few deny schools need change," April 3).

Ms. Grasmick needs to accept most of the blame, however, because she has been the one constant over all those years, as mayors and governors have changed.

B. A. Zalesky


The writer is a former Baltimore schoolteacher.

Optical-scan voting is still best option

I thank John Schneider for his poignant column concerning the highly contested future of our voting process ("Touch-screen voting isn't the right answer," Opinion * Commentary, March 31). I hope the politicians paid attention to it.

I agree that the optical scanner is probably the way to go for all of the reasons he stated.

Of course, the clincher is the cost-efficiency of that system.

Sometimes simpler is better.

Ann Betten


Black men can turn their lives around

As Clarence Page's column "Plight of disconnected black men worsens" (Opinion * Commentary, March 24) suggests, employment rates for young black men are at record low levels, with more than 5.4 million youths out of school and out of work.

These young people can turn their lives around, if they have opportunities to connect to the education, employment skills and counseling they need.

Indeed, a recent study highlighted communities doing just that, and an independent study of service corps programs found that such programs can prompt strong employment gains, especially for African-American men.

We cannot keep our economy competitive, our communities secure and our young people on track unless we focus attention and resources on this population.

Yet federal funding for youth employment programs has decreased, from $15 billion in 1979 (in real dollars) to $3 billion today.

Unless we do better, our young men and our nation will fall behind in an increasingly competitive world economy.

Linda Harris

Sally Prouty


The writers are co-chairwomen of the Campaign for Youth and Senior Policy.

Retrying the sniper a waste of resources

I find it appalling and very disturbing that a judge would allow John Allen Muhammad to represent himself at his trial ("Muhammad ruled competent," March 30).

First of all, there shouldn't even be another trial, because Mr. Muhammad has already been found guilty and sentenced to death, and he can only die once.

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