Saturday Mailbox

SATURDAY MAILBOX

May 17, 2008

City kids trying to do right thing

I am a freshman at Patterson High School who read the article, "Out of school, risking violence" (May 9), in my U.S. history class.

To me, the article is mostly about how kids get in trouble at school or stay outside of school and get into problems that can lead to jail or even death. But as a student in Baltimore, I feel that all the students who engaged in bad behavior or do not attend school enough should be taken out of school so that the kids who want to learn can learn.

School gives me something to do, helps me meet new people, keeps me safe and out of trouble and will help me succeed in the future so that I can get a good-paying job. At our school, students can get the help they need to become engineers, actors, teachers, doctors, lawyers or athletes.

I know our principal and other administrators are doing their best to maintain order. But it is hard for them to do so when they are not able to be present with the kids all the time on an everyday basis. And there is always something going on when a teacher is not watching.

Take my life, for example: Every day I come to school with a fresh mind and am ready to complete my work and do the right thing in school. But other kids behave differently when they are not around those with authority.

Students want to test who will stand up for themselves. A lot of good kids are trying to fit in (by being like everyone else) and, therefore, they decide to become gang members or drug dealers.

Gang members are jumping kids for no reason at all, and so other kids say to themselves, "Well, they are jumping me anyway, so I am going to become one of them to be safe."

I think it is easy for a good kid to turn bad. But it is hard for a bad kid to turn good. And sometimes it is hard to find the other kids who really want to do well.

I think that students will be motivated to do well if others will stand up with them. It takes one person at a time, but it's scary to start.

As I've explained to my mom and dad, it is hard to do good things when kids are messing with you. Kids want to tell adults what is going on, but then other kids will consider you a rat or a snitch. Then that's a problem for the person who told.

So a good student sometimes feels stuck because he or she does not know what to do. That scares a lot of students.

To the people of Baltimore, I say: Save the kids who want to be a part of something good and keep them from being influenced by others who are making bad choices. Help the good students to know that they are not the only ones who are trying to do the right thing.

A lot of kids are trying hard but need some help or advice. We are not a waste of time.

George Tyree, Baltimore

Working to keep all teachers safe

Maryland has a commitment to all of its youth and will continue to coordinate quality education and other services through its child welfare agencies. Accordingly, the Maryland State Department of Education has been working closely with the Department of Juvenile Services and is operating schools within five DJS facilities, including the Baltimore City Juvenile Justice Center ("Worry met with a vow," May 14).

All educators deserve a secure environment in which to teach. Therefore, it is a priority for both DJS and MSDE to ensure that the education staff at the justice center is safe and working in classroom settings that promote learning.

We have met directly with teachers at the center to understand their concerns and have taken steps to ensure the issues raised are immediately addressed.

And we are collaborating to continue to improve communication between MSDE teachers and DJS staff.

Inappropriate behavior, including threats to teachers, will be addressed immediately, and DJS will ensure there are consequences for students' actions.

Nancy S. Grasmick

Donald DeVore, Annapolis

The writers are, respectively, the state schools superintendent and secretary of juvenile services.

Alcohol fuels antics at Pimlico

That was a nice article on portable toilets at Pimlico ("Flushed out," May 14). But can someone explain to me why Pimlico allows patrons to bring alcohol into the infield at all?

I find it interesting that just last year, the Maryland Jockey Club changed the rules for alcohol during the Preakness Stakes so that it no longer allows spectators to bring their own alcoholic beverages to the grandstand and clubhouse areas of Pimlico. However, racing fans will still be allowed to bring cans of beer to the infield ("Preakness sets limits on BYOB," Nov. 7).

Mike Gathagan, a spokesman for the Maryland Jockey Club, said the new rules will bring the Preakness more in line with the other Triple Crown races.

However, the new rules do not go far enough.

The second leg of the Triple Crown is watched across the country by millions of households.

Are drunken patrons engaging in lewd behavior, running across urinals and who knows what else, the image we Marylanders want to portray to the rest of the country? I think not.

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