Let's find out if snow time plan workedDo Stalinist...

the Forum

September 12, 1994

Let's find out if snow time plan worked

Do Stalinist central planners like state school Superintendent Nancy Grasmick ever get held accountable?

Last year, to teach the gods of weather that ice storms would not deprive children of their school time, she decreed that every minute of that missed time would be made up.

At the conclusion of this educational reform, many players in this grand experiment were interviewed. Impressions varied from a good idea to a pointless exercise that burned out students.

Of course, those Stalinist central planners declared it a great success, just as their ideological fore-runners declared Soviet collectivization of farms a victory.

As a teacher, my impression was that high school attendance significantly worsened, middle school attendance slightly worsened, and elementary school attendance remained about the same.

In other words, the impact of the Grasmick plan was detrimental to secondary students, but may have increased school time for elementary students. However, my impressions are no more valid than any of those other impressions.

Isn't it about time we checked out the attendance numbers -- which should now be available -- to evaluate if the make-up of snow days resulted in more student time in school?

It should be relatively easy to get attendance figures for both students and teachers during the lengthened school days (which made up the time lost on snow days).

These numbers could be compared to an equivalent period before the longer days, and to a comparable period from the preceding year, as a control.

Will journalists insist that the educrats provide this type of data that will allow the public to evaluate and hold accountable the Stalinist central planners?

Martin D. Peters Jr.

Baltimore

Pentagon rip-off

The CIA spent $310 million to house the office that designs and monitors spy satellites. Four buildings were erected in suburban Virginia with 1 million square feet of space. While all this was going on, nobody in Congress was aware of it.

If our leaders had been alert, this complex certainly could have been constructed at a lower cost.

Over an 18-month investigation, the General Accounting Office discovered that defense contractors had returned over 1,000 checks totaling $241 million to the Defense Finance and Accounting Service.

This huge sum that Uncle Sam did not owe was only money that was voluntarily returned. It is easy to guess how much was not returned.

The GAO found a contractor who wrote a check to the government for $670,000 to cover an overpayment, but the DFAS refused to cash it and sent it back. In 1993, the Pentagon paid out $19 billion that it cannot account for. The Defense Department has no idea what was purchased with it.

Taxpayers are being ripped off because the Pentagon does not have control over the checks it writes and who they are mailed to.

The average lawmaker is employed part-time by various interest groups. The result: Uncle Sam continues to operate as a headless torso in search of a central nervous system.

Joseph Lerner

Baltimore

Prison for McLean

On Sept. 2, former Baltimore City Comptroller Jacqueline McLean pleaded guilty to one felony charge of theft in Baltimore Circuit Court. She admitted to stealing over $25,000 from the city of Baltimore during her term of office.

Her attorney stated that Jacqueline McLean has suffered enough, emotionally and physically, and that she should not be sent to prison when she is sentenced Dec. 15. She could face up to 15 years in prison.

Yet the affluent are treated very differently from the average blue-collar worker. For example, City State's Attorney Stuart Simms failed to take the case of a high school football coach to the grand jury for allegedly stealing school money to pay personal bills. The coach was just transferred to another school.

An example needs to be made here. If the District of Columbia can send a mayor to jail for a simple misdemeanor charge of cocaine possession then Baltimore City can certainly send a comptroller to prison for a felony theft charge . . .

Chris Wade

Baltimore

Shallow column

The Sept. 2 column by Mona Charen, "No safety in sight," indicates such a paucity of understanding that knowing how to rebut has me almost befuddled. She misses the big picture as well as the little picture (both forest and trees).

She reveals a shallow grasp of family preservation and crime, and what it means to be a liberal and conservative.

Her column does not enlighten. It inflames.

Ms. Charen needs to spend time with the liberals and conservatives who are doing the nitty-gritty, daily work with families and criminals. This might help her understand the complexity of these issues and may humble her which may create a less arrogant, less inflammatory conservative voice.

Bonnie Davis

Pasadena

Foreign aggressor

If you lived in a pluralistic Western country recognized by the U.S. and the U.N. and you suddenly became a victim of an unprovoked attack by a foreign aggressor, what response would you expect from the ''civilized'' world?

Would it be military, political and economic support? Or would it be an arms embargo against you that prevented you from defending your family, your country and yourself?

Roger C. Kostmayer

Baltimore

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