Letters

LETTERS

January 18, 2009

Schools must push city kids toward college

As quoted in Peter Hermann's revealing column "Baltimore kids tell forum on juvenile justice why they have given up on going to school" (Jan. 11), I feel Baltimore State's Attorney Patricia C. Jessamy is exactly right in concluding, "We have to reassess how we sell schools to our kids."

In my opinion, what needs to be sold to city kids is a value that is second nature in our middle and upper classes: the idea that the imperative to become well-educated is a given.

The will to be educated is a cultural phenomenon closely connected to social class. In the middle and upper classes, it often goes without saying that a child is expected to attend college. A failure to attend college is an exception that can even be a family embarrassment.

But that's often not so in disadvantaged families, in which social pressures to attend college are often few and far between.

If our public schools are ever to significantly reduce their drop-out rates, the system must intensively propagandize its students, starting in kindergarten, to cause them to adopt the middle- and upper-class value of going to college.

In the absence of such parental pressures for many city kids, the school system must fill the vacuum.

Herman M. Heyn, Baltimore

Perhaps depression boosts drop-out rate

Reading Peter Herman's column on the forums about ways to improve Baltimore's juvenile justice system ("Baltimore kids tell forum on juvenile justice why they have given up on going to school," Jan. 11), I noticed that one young man was quoted as saying, "I don't know why I am not interested in coming to school every day."

He also said, "The teachers aren't as engaging as they once were. My days are gray, not bright." That is about as good a description of depression as I have read in a while.

I think depression screening should be a part of any program examining why our young people are dropping out of school at such a tremendous rate.

Joy Mandel, Catonsville

The writer is a psychiatric social worker at Sinai Hospital.

'Hate' in NFL coverage sets a poor example

Baltimore is a sports town, and naturally, supporters boost their own and develop fervor and favor. The Baltimore Sun is an active participant in sports promotion.

However, one must question the high-volume pitch used on the front page and in Sports about the Ravens-Steelers game and overuse of "hate" and other violence-promoting terminology (e.g. "Hating No. 86," Jan. 15).

Teenagers copy the example set for them by supposedly adult actions, even in the media. When "hate" becomes a part of regular vocabulary, it does little to promote understanding and peace on an everyday basis in everyday lives.

Surely The Sun can do better.

Richard L. Lelonek, Baltimore

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