School FundingGlenn McNatt's Jan. 8 column, "A Thorough...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

January 28, 1994

School Funding

Glenn McNatt's Jan. 8 column, "A Thorough and Efficient Education," made the important and valid point that failure to educate poor children adequately will have disastrous economic and social consequences for all of us.

However, setting aside his implicit assumption that more money will make that education occur, the major premise of his discussion (and indeed of the commission's study), that the only way the state can provide needed educational services is through the auspices of government-run schools, needs to be questioned.

If the average cost per elementary school student in a Baltimore City public school is $4,800, and if the cost in an underutilized non-public school -- which everyone agrees does a commendable if not superior job -- is only $1,700, it is evident that money is not the problem.

More importantly, this should tell us we can no longer afford to blindly defend the public school system as a sacred cow. We must look to the private sector for help in getting the job done. (We've already seen some fruits of such cooperation in the Barclay School experience.)

There is a simple solution to the disparity in both funding and educational quality. It consists of three steps:

* Give every parent of a school-age child now in public school a certificate or tax credit of the same value throughout the state. This would enable them to purchase educational services at the public or private school of their choice and would equalize state funding. The public schools would be entirely dependent on local subdivision funding.

* Allow parents and teachers to collaborate in forming charter schools.

* Hold all schools accountable by providing a reasonable test for providing the "thorough and efficient education" Mr. McNatt says the state constitution requires.

By taking parents and the private sector into partnership (rather than treating them as adversaries), by focusing on the best way to educate children rather than the best way to preserve and defend bureaucratic systems, by using all available public and private resources, and by allowing the discipline of the marketplace to demand quality, we can get the job done without spending a lot more money.

John D. Schiavone

Baltimore

The writer is president of Teach Maryland, Inc.

Listen to Learn

Donald Sterling's Jan. 14 letter decrying WBAL's decision to broadcast Rush Limbaugh leads me to the inescapable conclusion that he simply has not listened to the show long enough (if at all) to understand what Mr. Limbaugh is really saying.

As a long-time listener and admirer of Rush Limbaugh, I would be among the first to acknowledge that his audacity and his irreverence toward liberals may well be offensive to some.

But to accuse him of pandering to bigotry is to totally misunderstand what the man is saying.

Mr. Limbaugh is the outspoken defender of a set of beliefs including personal responsibility, individual achievement and high moral values, which some of us still believe helped to make this a great nation.

With great good humor he delights in needling those who believe that government can solve all of society's problems, if only it is given enough money to do so. To those of us who are offended by the liberal bias of the "mainstream" media, he is a welcome breath of fresh air.

I would suggest to Mr. Sterling and others of his ilk that they lighten-up a little bit and then try to listen carefully to Mr. Limbaugh for just one month. They might be amazed at what they could learn.

John C. Neu

Annapolis

Oral Rehydration

We were happy to see the coverage given by The Sun to oral rehydration therapy (Dec. 29, "Scientists urge U.S. pediatricians to adopt life-saving diarrhea treatment").

This simple, low-tech treatment is indeed responsible for saving countless lives around the world and is finally gaining acceptance in the United States.

Unfortunately, the Associated Press article as published was misleading in its claim that these oral solutions can prevent diarrhea.

It is critical that parents and medical providers alike recognize that the solutions can treat and prevent dehydration but cannot prevent or even reduce the symptoms of the diarrhea itself.

If they have the expectation that using the solutions will make their child's illness go away, parents will become rapidly discouraged and distrustful of this useful therapy.

It is this false expectation that has in the past limited the use of oral rehydration therapy.

As with any therapy simple or complex, appropriate consumer education is critical. . . .

Julius G. Goepp, M.D.

Lori Edwards, R.N.

Baltimore

The writers are with the Johns Hopkins Oral Rehydration Therapy Project.

Church Design

The architectural review by Edward Gunts on Jan. 9 underscores the significance of the Pietro Belluschi design of the Church of the Redeemer, one of but a few of Maryland buildings to receive a national honor award from the American Institute of Architects.

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