November 24, 2008

Teach kids the skills to resolve conflicts

I was touched and saddened by two articles in Thursday's Baltimore Sun.

A page one article told of a 16-year-old Baltimore girl who unintentionally caused the death of her grandmother in an argument over pictures on the wall in her room ("Baltimore teen charged in her grandmother's death after argument," Nov. 20). She's charged with second-degree murder.

A second article told of a 16-year-old Glen Burnie boy who was succeeding in school ("Teen accused in killing praised by social worker," Nov. 20). He's now charged with second-degree murder for killing a man who insulted one of the youth's friends.

Both of these cases indicate the tragic failure of society to give these kids the tools they need to solve their conflicts nonviolently.

We have all failed the victims of these attacks, and we have failed the alleged offenders.

It's time to add a fourth "R" to the standard curriculum of reading, 'riting, and 'rithmetic.

We need to teach "right-doing." If we don't get that right, the other skills are for naught.

Ted Nunn, Columbia

Invest in new paths to energy efficiency

I second Jay Hancock's call for Washington lawmakers to include clean energy investments and tax incentives in any economic stimulus package ("Falling costs raise risk of relapse on energy use," Nov. 15).

Clean energy and efficiency offer a broad array of benefits, including enhanced national security, improved health of our environment, energy savings for consumers and the creation of millions of jobs.

Mr. Hancock gives a brilliant example of energy savings in the home of David Martinez, whose home energy efficiency improvements pulled his electricity bill down below their pre-deregulation levels. And with the help of government-backed incentive programs, millions of others could share his experience.

We're at an energy crossroads, and now is the time to take our country in the right direction.

Beginning with any economic stimulus package that may be passed in the next couple months, let's pass bills that invest in energy efficiency and clean energy and strengthen our economy for years to come.

Tommy Landers, Baltimore

The writer is a policy associate for Environment Maryland.

Public transit funding has gotten a boost

The writer of the letter "Hoping for change at transit agency" (Nov. 15) mischaracterized the Federal Transit Administration's commitment to funding public transit across America.

With total public transit funding of $9.4 billion in the fiscal 2008 budget, the federal government has made a historic and unprecedented investment in public transit.

Transit funding in the current fiscal year is 6 percent higher than it was in 2006. And the transit legislation enacted by Congress in 2005 for fiscal years 2005 through 2009 increased funding for public transportation by 45 percent over the previous authorization period.

This year alone, the FTA will fund two major new transit projects, continue funding for the completion of 11 more projects and make funds available for six more projects in cities and communities across the country.

Altogether, we've invested in more than 280 new miles of transit lines since 2001, including funding Metro extensions in Maryland.

These historic transit investments signal a long-term, thoughtful commitment to public transit as a critical tool to combat congestion, oil dependency and the diminished quality of life that congestion too often brings.

Sherry Little, Washington

The writer is acting administrator of the Federal Transit Administration for the U.S. Department of Transportation.

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