Letters To The Editor


May 18, 2008

More suspensions the wrong answer

The adage that experience is the best teacher is an appropriate response to those who believe school suspensions are the way to push children who misbehave out of our school systems ("Discipline's Cost," May 11).

History demonstrates that the zero-tolerance policy has failed to act as a deterrent to students.

Nine percent of the students in Maryland's public schools were suspended in the 2006-2007 school year, and that figure was up from just 6 percent 15 years earlier.

Experience has also shown that suspension does not reduce nonviolent offenses. Last year almost 5,000 students were suspended for cutting class (3,294), truancy (774) and tardiness (874).

As The Sun's article "Schools address black students' suspensions" (May 11) highlights, African-American students are suspended 2.4 times more than white students statewide. Montgomery County has the highest racial disparity in the state - African-American students there are suspended 4.4 times more often than white students.

Why is the suspension rate disproportionate for students from a certain demographic group?

And why has this trend continued for 15 years?

Experience confirms that the right kind of interventions are successful in reducing school suspensions. Experience shows that a program of Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports can reduce the time schools spend on discipline and increase instructional time.

Experience also shows that truancy and suspension are gateways to juvenile delinquency and that these problems will disproportionately impact the African-American and Latino communities.

And if we do what we always do, then we will get what we always get.

Terrylynn M. Tyrell, Baltimore

The writer is education director for Advocates for Children and Youth.

Rules must be clear, consistent

After reading "Discipline's Cost" (May 11), I realized that some educators are just not the right people to correct the chaos that some students cause in schools.

Anyone who thinks school administrators should discipline a student based on his or her cultural background is creating a double standard that will simply confuse the same kids they are trying to help.

Kids understand the rules when they are clear, concise and fairly applied to everyone.

If kids who commit disruptive, violent acts are told that their behavior is understandable because they come from the "hood," they will be less apt to improve and less prepared for the real world, where the consequences are more swift and severe.

This mentality will come back to haunt us all if we don't all stand up and say, "enough of this nonsense."

Mike Snyder, Havre De Grace

Punish offenders, not snarky judge

Once again it seems the worm has turned as those who are there to protect us are being sanctioned while those who break the rules are vindicated by District Judge Bruce S. Lamdin's suspension because he may have hurt the feelings of some offenders ("Judge punished for profanity," May 14).

Has anyone thought that those standing in front of a judge are there for a reason? Like that they broke the law?

And if they get the verbal equivalent of having their noses smacked with a rolled-up newspaper, maybe that will encourage them to watch their ways in the future.

I think those responsible for Judge Lamdin's suspension are barking up the wrong tree.

Joseph Vavra, Brooklyn Park

Israel embraced Jewish refugees

The column "The other side of Israel's birth" (Commentary, May 14) by Alice Rothchild describes the tragic fate of the 700,000 Arabs displaced from their homes in Israel in its War of Independence in 1948, even though many of them left voluntarily at the urging of the invading Arab armies who expected to be victorious.

But it made no mention of the really forgotten refugees from that conflict, the 900,000 Jews who were forcibly ejected from their ancestral homes in the Arab countries with nothing more than the clothes on their backs.

Most resettled in Israel, then a newly created and impoverished country that found the resources to take in these refugees and find them homes and jobs as it granted them full citizenship.

It's too bad the same thing cannot be said about the treatment of the Arab refugees by the various Arab nations, some of which are flush with oil revenues.These refugees have been denied citizenship by any Arab country and forced to live in squalid refugee camps so that they can serve as an obstacle to the peace process and be used as a tool of anti-Israel propaganda and as a breeding ground for terrorists.

Jack Kinstlinger, Baltimore

Palestinians still have right to return

It was good to see Alice Rothchild's column "The other side of Israel's birth" (May 14), with its focus on the Nakba created by Israel - the dispossession and expulsion of more than 700,000 Palestinians living in what was to become Israel, and Israel's subsequent refusal to respect the Palestinian refugees' right of return.

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