Upon reading your article about a mother who was held on $100,000 bail for abandoning her children, a thought struck me. Why not arrest fathers as well?
Boarding Schools for Poor Kids
Those who study economic conditions in Third World societies are familiar with the vicious-circle paradigm -- an interlocking web of circumstances that seems destined to perpetuate poverty for generations.
When we look at the problems of American inner cities, the situation seems little different. How can we undo a poverty confounded by discrimination in employment, housing and even law enforcement, lawlessness, broken homes, hopelessness and contempt?
The seriousness and complexity of the situation demands bold initiatives. I would like to propose an initiative that focuses directly on the next generation of underprivileged children growing up in poverty and broken homes.
Imagine a public boarding school, integrated in student body and staff but open primarily to children living in poverty, located in a "nice" neighborhood within the city.
It would be an environment in which children's physical, mental and social development could be given a fair chance. By insulating children from the mean streets and negative mindsets they otherwise might confront, we would enable them to envision a completely new reality.
At the same time, teachers would have a better chance to accomplish what society asks of them. Public education has always been justified by its role as a "great equalizer" that creates the level playing field on which each individual can realize his or her potential.
While it has often fallen short of this ideal, public education is the single institution most directly connected to the future living standards of most Americans and thereby to our domestic tranquillity.
If we are to have any hope of restoring the growth of productivity and living standards of earlier generations, serious changes are needed in the way this business is conducted.
Classrooms need to be smaller. Teachers need less administrative interference. Teachers should be evaluated directly on the results produced by their students. In the near term, considerably more resources must go into remedial education.
Boarding schools can complement such changes while helping public education to again provide the greater degree of fairness essential to true democracy.
Like any investment, such a plan would require some sacrifice up front. The question is -- what would the rate of return be?
Benjamin B. Greene Jr.
Rural Residents Already Subsidize Clean Air
This is in reference to your July 31 editorial on the mandatory emissions testing program, and your suggestion that a fee be levied on Maryland vehicle license tags in order to spread the costs to all drivers, including those in rural areas.
As you correctly point out, the air we breathe does not respect artificial boundaries, but it should be noted that any net flow of air pollution would naturally be from the more polluted areas toward the cleaner atmospheres of rural communities.
You are also correct that measures to ensure clean air are increasing in cost, especially in metropolitan areas, due to the large number of cars overloading the natural cleansing capacities of the atmosphere. Rural areas, with their much lower car densities, have substantially better air quality.
It is important that resources, both direct and indirect, be spent toward cleaner air standards in polluted areas, such as our metropolitan areas.
However, especially in an era of limited resources, one has to consider if scarce dollars are being spent in the most cost-effective way. Urban decision makers obviously feel that air quality is important and are willing to accept the costs of pollution control. Rural residents, who face the same resource crunch that we do but have different problems, may justifiably feel that their air quality is acceptable, and that they would rather spend their dollars elsewhere.
Already, because of federal and California emissions standards, rural drivers are subsidizing us to the tune of millions of dollars. Emissions control equipment, mandated in order to combat the mainly urban problem of air pollution, adds hundreds of dollars to the costs of new cars while reducing power and gas mileage.
These higher costs are being borne by all car owners, including those in rural areas with already clean air. In the face of these facts, as well as new data showing that urban dwellers have been steadily increasing their average solo commute, I think it would be very unfair to expect rural communities to further subsidize our excessive driving habits by levying a state-wide tax to underwrite urban emissions testing.