Defending Public Schools

Letters published January 3, 2002

Who sez there's no class in the classroom?

I am very disturbed by the comment made in "Plaid Skirt Welfare" [November 29]. The mother of a student who attends Our Lady of Angels said, "I can't send my kids to the Cleveland public schools. They're terrible. All those teachers have no manners and no class. If they did, they would leave within three months."

I am a middle-school teacher in the Cleveland district who has been teaching for five years. Her comments offended me deeply. I treat all students with care, dignity, and respect. While there are flaws in the system, a majority of the teachers are compassionate professionals with the children's needs at heart. We are here because we were called to this profession. Not every teacher is suited to teach inner-city youth, because they come to us with different situations and different needs. We do our best to provide them with a quality education and compassion in a world that has not been kind to most of them. The majority of our students are working hard to become successful adults. If we did not teach them, who would?

I am also a Roman Catholic who went to Catholic school all my life. But unlike voucher parents, my parents scrimped and saved and sacrificed to pay for my schooling. Then, when I was of age, I obtained a job to pay for my schooling. The reason why our schools are falling apart and falling behind: Private schools are taking away public schools' money. The people in this article send a message that public school teachers are substandard, unqualified, and unprofessional. Catholic schools are great. They provided me with a wonderful education. But public schools can provide, with excellent teachers, the same caliber of education.

Emily Fritz

The meltdown started long ago:

My thanks to Andrew Putz for setting the record straight on Peter Kelly ["Life After LTV," December 6, 2001], the only major executive who really cares about the problems of LTV. Bricker and his ilk are those hired hands who know only how to follow orders from the board of directors, so they can make a personal profit and then get out.

Scene, back on March 23 ["Slow Burn"], prepared readers for the impending closing of LTV in Cleveland. Jacqueline Marino and Andrew Putz [co-authors of the LTV stories] did the best job of all the media in explaining exactly why LTV was going to close. Perhaps the best summary was in the article "Management by Fiasco." I agreed with this conclusion because, having been an employee of J&L Steel back in the early 1960s, I saw the writing on the wall. The management before and after James Ling was perfectly content to continue a legacy of unqualified managers. All they cared about were their egos and personal incomes. Add in the factor of having the worst labor-management relations anywhere in the nation, along with nearly the highest labor costs, and you knew the company was doomed.

I can remember all of the Japanese engineers being shown our operations. They were even told what worked and what did not work. With American know-how and money, foreign nations made better and cheaper steel.

I am writing because the next Japanese target is our auto industry. Should we decide not to buy improved American-made cars, we will see the doom of the Northeast Ohio economy, which has over 200,000 auto-related jobs. More than ever, "Buy American" takes on an urgent meaning.

Albert K. Oberst, J.D.
Cleveland Heights

Dale Carnegie, he's not:

I just had to let you know how much I enjoyed reading David Martin's article on Bart Wolstein ["Menace II Suburbia," December 6]. I was listening to Lanigan and Malone this morning, and they were having great fun with the article.

I am a resident of Aurora who spent 10 months fighting Heritage Development Company and its shopping center down the street from me. Heritage is now in a Columbus court, fighting the EPA. I have never met more arrogant people in my life than Wolstein and McGill. I truly hope they are denied in our area. I can't tell you how great it was to read your article.

Beth Morrison