Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

April 12, 2006

Delay dims hope for city students

"The clock starts ticking now." So says The Sun's editorial lauding the General Assembly for overriding Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich's veto of a bill that prevents the state from assuming responsibility for 11 perennially underperforming Baltimore schools ("No hiatus for schools," editorial, April 11).

Tell that to the parents whose children have languished for years in these patently ineffectual schools, each of which has been on the state's watch list since at least 1997.

Of the seven middle schools targeted by the state, the best passing rate on last year's math test was just 25 percent.

In reality, the clock has been ticking for years. However, under the watch of a city school system that is plagued by fiscal mismanagement and an academic record that is uneven at best, none of these 11 schools has come close to meeting even the most basic performance thresholds.

Predictably, Mayor Martin O'Malley and city schools CEO Bonnie S. Copeland have pledged increased accountability reforms and, not least, more funding.

This is a tired refrain that offers little hope for yet another generation of school children failed by a failing system.

Robert C. Knott

Baltimore

Will takeover foes do anything for kids?

OK, now what? The state takeover of 11 Baltimore public schools has been postponed ("Veto killed, takeover of schools halted," April 11). What do the people who voted against the takeover now propose to do to help these schools?

We know what they are against - a state takeover. But what are they for?

More than likely, this topic will disappear for a few more years before it again becomes a political issue.

In the meantime, the students will lose.

Larry Johnston

Hereford

School spat wastes our time and energy

It seems Baltimore's public schools have become a political football in an election year. But all this time and energy fighting over what to do to fix the schools has been wasted ("Veto killed, takeover of city schools halted," April 11).

I wish these people would just stop talking and come help out. I would like every one of the Maryland state delegates and senators to mentor one child.

I want all those lawyers and reporters and, yes, state schools Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick and the state Board of Education to take the time and talk to and work with one student in the Baltimore schools.

The state is still threatening to take over 11 city schools. I'm not convinced that the state will do better than the city has.

And let's look at the reality. A lot of people have moved out of the city to find better schools.

Most of those who live in the city and can afford to do so send their children to private schools, including Mayor Martin O'Malley.

The citywide schools take the cream off the top of the rest of the student population. What the other city schools are left with are the children who really have been left behind.

I recently retired after 32 years in the classroom. I tried my best, but I'm tired.

Maybe the state can pull highly qualified teachers out of a magic hat. We need them.

Pat Harcarik

Baltimore

Lack of energy deal a leadership failure

On the most important issue facing Maryland citizens today, the General Assembly failed to act ("Rate deal dies," April 11). It failed to protect the people it is supposed to represent.

The Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. rate increase will affect every Maryland citizen, homeowner or renter. The rate increase is not just an 11th-hour failure, but a failure of our elected officials to see the forest through the trees.

Year after year, BGE has been posting profits.

Since 1999, the utility company's value has increased, not decreased, and it never saw the expected losses to the value of its plants for which state taxpayers gave the company millions.

And are my delegates really going to tell me that they didn't see this rate increase coming?

What about Hurricane Katrina? Everyone knew that the hurricane drove up the price of oil and natural gas. That happened five months before the legislative session began.

But where were our elected officials? Where was the leadership?

They all failed us this year.

Aimee Darrow

Baltimore

Ehrlich takes stand for healthier air

As a moderate Republican, I commend our governor for signing the Healthy Air Act ("Ehrlich signs law to cut power plant emissions," April 7). I'm sure his signing this bill ran contrary to the wishes of some of his supporters and advisers. So it took guts for him to stand up to these pressures.

Many people in my generation first worked for reduction of Maryland air pollution decades ago. But when the 1970 Clean Air Act was drafted, we were told to accept the exemptions for existing coal-fired power plants in Maryland, because those plants would soon enough be replaced by new plants to which higher standards would apply. But that never happened.

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