Do the Math

Letters published January 10, 2002

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Cleveland is squandering young minds:

David W. Martin's feature "Plaid Skirt Welfare" [November 29] fails to address any of the First Amendment rights of U.S. citizens and their children. In 1990, there were 129,000 children in the city of Cleveland. Taxes are collected to educate all the children of this city, but the superintendent and mayor talk only about the 76,000 children who sold their souls to them for two meals a day and were placed in a system that gives no choice of school, classroom, or teacher.

A full class of children went from the first through twelfth grades since 1990, and the condition of the buildings deteriorated, costs went up, taxes were raised, and bailout bonds were approved. Add to that low graduation rates and poor proficiency test rates (where Cleveland is at the bottom of the state lists), and one wonders why there is a government school system in Cleveland at all.

Next year, the school board and its subsidiaries will manage around $2 billion. It has failed 76,000 children for the last 12 years and, worse, has ignored the needs of another 50,000 Cleveland children. Do the math: $2 billion shared among 76,000 children. Give or take a few dollars, it is a $26,000 banquet per mind. That is a lot more than the table scraps of $870 per student given each year to some Ohioans who attend non-public schools.

Cleveland has 126,000 children to educate, and all should get the best possible opportunity to be the best they can be. It should be where and when the parents decide, and at the rate the parents decide is proper.

All of today's 126,000 children in Cleveland should benefit from that $2 billion jackpot. Seventy-six thousand failures should not sponge up all that money and leave 50,000 students standing hat in hand to get the education they want and are entitled to. If government does not attend to the needs of all the students, then there is not justice, and without justice there is no freedom.

Martin Smyczek

"Menace" missed the developer's depth:

Having been an employee of Bart Wolstein's for the last seven years, I have been able to work with the person you misrepresented in your article ["Menace II Suburbia," December 6]. Mr. Wolstein is a true entrepreneur with a vision to create things that are done only in a first-class manner. His track record of success needs no support by anyone.

While your article did contain some positive nuances about Mr. Wolstein, you chose to spend a majority of your space on misrepresented facts and caricatures, leaving out a huge amount of worthwhile reading. You could have produced an interesting article that showed the true depth of this man.

Your need to increase circulation is understood. However, give your readers some credit: They may enjoy and support the opportunity to read articles written with a more balanced approach. Being not only a reader of your publication but also an advertiser, I would certainly appreciate that opportunity.

George Kimson Jr.

The difference between a cop and a crook:

I enjoyed your story about the Cutler murder ["When Duty Didn't Call," October 11]. I remember reading a Plain Dealer article when the body was found. What is disturbing and insightful in your article is the involvement of the Cleveland police. The word "burnout" came to mind when I read about the 22-year veteran who swears he never got the Wetzel address from Cutler Sr.

I have accumulated hundreds of articles from various papers around this country about the culpability of police officers. I am very disgusted by the lack of citizen concern and their refusal to take a serious look at those who are sworn to serve and protect.

I learned many things about police when I lived in Chicago. Some were my neighbors, so I had the opportunity to party with them. I realize the job is dangerous, but many of them are no different than the criminals they arrest. The only difference is that a police officer can kill someone, say he feared for his life, and get away with it.

I recall a case where a girl who weighed 95 pounds was shot in the back of the head by a 6-foot, 4-inch police officer, who claims the girl had reached for his gun and it went off and killed her. She had been a passenger in a stolen car who got out to run away.

Policemen who don't do their jobs should be fired immediately in situations like this, but because it is a fraternity, this will never happen, and the public will forever continue to pay the salary of hired criminals welded together by the blue flame of silence.

Gerald Oglesby


The photo caption for the December 27 Laura Putre column "'Hood Goodness" misidentified Ralph Lamarr Johnson and Donald Dawson.

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