Hemlock Society: Empower the DyingIssues around death and...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

May 01, 1994

Hemlock Society: Empower the Dying

Issues around death and dying have been very much in the news and it seemed appropriate to acquaint the readership with the Hemlock Society, which has both a Maryland chapter and a National Capital area chapter.

Hemlock is an educational organization which hopes to enlighten people regarding end-of-life issues and choices. While members hold a variety of personal views and beliefs, generally we agree that death must be as humane as possible and that the dying person be empowered to make those decisions required at the end of life. . . .

We are currently studying a legislative proposal allowing physician-assisted suicide. Those of you interested in joining with Hemlock in this venture may write to: Hemlock Society of Maryland, P.O. Box 1621, Ellicott City, MD, 21041-1621. If you want a member of the speakers' bureau to address your group, call 410-465-1694 or 410-484-1730. . . .

Selma Goldberg

Crofton

Redistricting

The process of determining the need for new schools, the selection and acquisition of school sites, the construction of facilities and the financing of vehicles used in these activities are all issues deserving priority attention.

The sharp increase in the number of portable classrooms and the recent, increased use of waivers to the adequate facilities law underscore the interdependence of county growth, planning and education issues.

While the call by the Anne Arundel Board of Education for a year-long study of the possibility of countywide redistricting is a timely initiative, the shifting of students by redistricting must be regarded as a traumatic solution of last resort. While I concur with The Sun editorial of March 3 that countywide school redistricting should be considered as one alternative solution to our bulging school population/school construction cost dilemma, I do not agree that more money for new schools is necessarily "a pipe dream." Moreover, even if redistricting were to accommodate all the existing and planned development currently in the pipeline, we would only exacerbate our school capacity problems in the future. . . .

One potential, appropriate funding source that merits consideration is the county's existing 1 percent transfer tax on real estate transactions. Under existing county law, up to 30 percent of the revenue generated by the transfer tax can be appropriated for county utility operations. . . . Without increasing taxes one cent, county law could be amended to permit 30 percent of transfer tax revenues to be earmarked for either school construction or utility operations. The local transfer tax would provide a much closer link between those placing a burden on the school system and those who will bear the expense of providing relief.

ohn R. Leopold

Pasadena

The writer is a former delegate from District 31.

2 Candidates Say Policies, Scholarships Mean They Reject Teachers Union Support

As a candidate for public office, I am committed to improving the quality of education for our children. This must become the top priority of all our elected officials. The questionnaire you recently sent candidates is really a position paper outlining the .. Maryland State Teachers Association (MSTA) position on 26 "issues." Based on the positions outlined in the questionnaire, I will not accept the endorsement of your political action committee, the Teachers Association of Anne Arundel County.

First, it is apparent that my top priority, a better education for our children, is not necessarily the top priority of your PAC. Since 10 out of 26 questions relate to retirement and benefits, collective bargaining and "work rules," it appears that the primary focus of your PAC is a candidate's support of the union. There is certainly nothing wrong in endorsing candidates sympathetic to your organized labor positions, but I had hoped your organization would be concerned first and foremost with finding candidates committed to excellence in education for our children.

Second, eight of your questions ask candidates to increase funding for various school programs. Neither I nor any other candidate is against increased funding "to help schools abate radon, asbestos and lead in water supplies," or "to provide for professional development," or most of your other requests. However, before committing additional funds to these programs, legislators have an obligation to the public to ensure that money in the existing budget is well spent.

Third, the questionnaire states that MSTA supports "innovation in public education," in Question 21, but elsewhere informs us that the Teachers Association is against:

* Privatization of public school instruction.

* Privatization of building operations.

* Vouchers.

* Tuition tax credits.

G; If elected, I would explore all avenues for "innovation

in public education," not just those that benefit the status quo.

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