Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

October 30, 2006

Teacher bonuses pay few dividends

As someone who was a middle school principal for 32 years, I become disturbed when I read articles such as "U.S. bonuses reward teacher performance" (Oct. 23) and "States turn to teacher bonuses" (Sept. 5).

While the intent of financial bonuses for teachers who make outstanding contributions by increasing test scores and accepting assignments in difficult schools may appear positive, I believe that the bonuses produce very poor dividends in the long run.

Such a practice creates an educational volcano - bubbling with unhealthy competition of jealousy, favoritism and back-stabbing. The inevitable eruption seriously endangers the very heart of the teaching profession.

As an alternative to such questionable bonus programs, I would recommend that the U.S. and state governments increase teacher salaries to make them comparable to those paid in similar professions and corporations to attract and retain high-caliber teaching personnel. It would be great to see Maryland make the first move.

I consider teaching to be the most important profession in the world - and our children are entitled to receive the best possible education from able and dedicated educators.

Quinton D. Thompson

Towson

Democrats betray our public schools

No one running for office fails to promise a solution to the disgraceful failure of public education, and it always seems to involve wasting more and more public money.

However, neither decades of promises nor unprecedented per-student spending have prevented the graduation of two generations of students that include many moral and intellectual illiterates, some of whom turn to drugs to dull the pain of their frustration.

Before 1970, public schools were worthy institutions of real learning, and black and white children learned reading, writing, civics, history, ideals, principles and how to behave in a manner that would promote their own, and their country's, success.

When the urban public schools degenerated, anyone who could leave did so, leaving behind a concentration of poor and black children in city schools for educational experimentation and warehousing. The basics went by the boards.

The once-proud and noble Democratic Party has failed in its most important purpose - the education of productive citizens needed for the preservation of democracy.

We cannot afford to give it any more chances.

There are widening cracks in the foundation of our democracy that cannot bear much more of the stress generated by indifference and hostility to quality education on the part of some educators and too much "toleration" on the part of voters.

Elizabeth Ward Nottrodt

Baltimore

Blowing away bears is hardly a sport

As I read Candus Thomson's article Tuesday about the bear hunt, I really found it quite amusing that this is considered a sport at all ("19 bears reported killed as hunt opens," Oct. 24).

Here are grown men sitting in trees, dressed in costumes, just waiting for a bear to come along in response to whatever they are luring it with.

Really, how hard can it be if a child killed the first bear last year and hunters killed 19 bears in the first few hours of this year's hunt?

And for what? Just so the hunters can have a bear rug?

I have not seen any real evidence in any of The Sun's articles or editorials to justify Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s decision to allow the killing of these bears - in direct opposition to the policies of so many governors before him.

He is no more in touch with the majority of Marylanders than these black bears are really a threat.

L. Lenhard

Phoenix

Practicing terror now part of our war

The Bush administration endlessly trumpets its war on terror. But in reality, it is a practitioner and enabler of terror. This is demonstrated by the parallel cases of Maher Arar and Luis Posada Carriles.

Mr. Arar, a Canadian, was seized by the Bush administration in New York City in 2002 and deported, not home to Canada but to Syria. There he was tortured in a grave-sized cell for a year.

Outrageously, despite Mr. Arar's recent total exoneration, Bush administration officials refuse to admit error or even stop persecuting him; he remains on the U.S. terror watch list ("Questions persist in Canadian's torture case," Oct. 20).

Mr. Posada is a Cuban prison escapee and acknowledged hotel bomber who never has been brought to justice for allegedly blowing up Cubana Flight 455 in 1976.

Despite Mr. Bush's message that those who harbor terrorists will be treated as terrorists, the administration is sheltering Mr. Posada in the U.S.

The Department of Homeland Security has refused Venezuela's request of extradition for prosecution. Why kid gloves for the terrorist and a truncheon for the lamb?

Mr. Posada has administration support as a lifelong provocateur against Fidel Castro.

All Mr. Arar has is his innocence, an attribute to which Mr. Bush has proved his indifference.

Daniel Fleisher

Baltimore

Does Flanagan ever use public transit?

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