Budget cuts hurt students in basic waysEveryone has heard...

the Forum

April 22, 1992

Budget cuts hurt students in basic ways

Everyone has heard about the school budget cuts and the problems they are causing, but the emphasis seems to be on problems facing teachers rather than those facing students. I would like to inform you of some the problems students face daily.

Perry Hall Middle School is severely overcrowded. None of my teachers have rooms of their own. For example, my science class meets in an art room on Fridays. Many science activities cannot be conducted in this room because there is no gas supply or other equipment.

Even when there is a room, it is often inadequate. The orchestra room at Perry Hall was originally meant to be a supply room. With approximately 100 musicians, this makes full group rehearsals almost impossible.

Overcrowding also causes excessively large classes that do not allow for individualized time. Two years ago my math class consisted of approximately 25 students; that number has risen to nearly 35 this year.

Another problem is inadequate supplies, especially of books. Most books are outdated. It is difficult to study Eastern Europe or the Commonwealth of Independent States using a book that is 20 years old.

Still, old books are better than no books. This is the foreign language department's first year using new books. But there were not funds to purchase more than 20 books -- not enough to supply my class, certainly not enough for all the school's Spanish classes. Moreover, some departments are running low on basic supplies such as paper and tape.

The students of today are the work force of tomorrow. If the U.S. is to remain a powerful nation, education needs to become the top priority.

Leah C. Schaefer

Perry Hall

The writer is an eighth grade student at Perry Hall Middle School.

Doubting Thomas?

Your April 17 editorial, "Wait awhile on Clarence Thomas," was amusing.

Except for a case involving pornography, Justice Thomas slavishly endorsed the Supreme Court's "new right" majority. There is no doubting Thomas from that point of view.

That Justice Thomas would take a contrary position regarding pornography comes as no surprise to anyone who followed his confirmation hearings.

The Evening Sun may be waiting for Justice Thomas to bite his benefactors, but I am waiting for Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., to seek criminal prosecution of Anita Hill for the "perjury" he charged her with on national television. In either event, it promises to be a long wait.

Gregory Lewis

Baltimore

Wasted billions

Your story "Enthusiasm slips for space programs" (March 24) reported findings of a poll commissioned by Rockwell International Corp. which showed that support for the planned space station and for an "outpost" on Mars is waning.

These two projects constitute the greatest boondoggle of modern history.

Consider the long-established Russian space-station Mir -- has it ever done the Russians or humanity one iota of good? If so, it is well hidden. Likewise, setting up an "outpost" on Mars would be for what purpose or benefit?

Those in NASA, Congress and the administration who keep urging manned space missions remind me of the less-than-genius who kept ramming his head against a stone wall to find out if it was still there.

Samuel M. Poist

Baltimore

Meeting Goofy and Dumbo

When the 10 "unpaid volunteer" members of the Baltimore County Board of Education arrive in Disney World this weekend for a National School Board Conference, there should be two famous cartoon characters on hand to greet them: Goofy and Dumbo.

At a time when teachers are asked to take less while their employers are spending more, these two lovable figures could roll out a dirty red carpet for this group to symbolize the sad financial state of Baltimore County. And Dopey, the vacant-looking dwarf, could present board president Rosalie Hellman with a bouquet of forget-me-nots.

Just when I had become somewhat accustomed to seeing $82.97 deleted from each of my teacher's paychecks, this happens. Just when most teachers had grudgingly accepted the sad fiscal reality of what had happened to them, our school board slaps us in the face with this.

I struggle to look at this objectively, but my eyes keep clouding up with visions of this trip as a four-day lark for these folks. Is it really necessary in these tough economic times to travel to a fantasy land in another state to learn what's wrong with education right here in Maryland? Wouldn't it be a lot simpler (and cheaper) for these 10 "volunteers" to take the beltway to Essex, Middle River or Lansdowne and visit some public schools right here to see what's going on?

Instead of lavish receptions and dinners, wouldn't it be more realistic to visit these school cafeterias and sit down with some middle school kids over a hot plate lunch and find out what the issues are? Or, better still, visit a classroom and observe not only what might be wrong but also what might just be right in education?

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