More Views on Parochial BusingParents of parochial...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

March 12, 1995

More Views on Parochial Busing

Parents of parochial students may soon have to pay for the transportation of their children if the $229 million budget is not met by Howard County. This has raised the question of whether parochial school students are entitled to free transportation. But this question has already been answered by a law passed in 1943 which requires transportation to be provided when the students live on an existing bus route with available bus seats.

This reinforces the idea that students of parochial schools should be allowed free transportation. The parents of these children are taxpayers and part of their tax money inevitably goes toward public education. And the fact that these parents send their children to parochial schools saves the county money because it means that there are less kids in public schools. It is unfair to make these parents pay for transportation when they are already, indirectly, paying for it.

Many parents of public school children are vehemently opposed to free transportation for parochial students even though it is only enforced when there is room available on the buses and the stops are already on a bus route. They see the parents of these children as wealthy and privileged but this is not always the case.

Undeniably, a large number of these parents are well off but many also scrimp and save so that they can give their children a better education. If some parents lose this service, they would not be able to transport their children to school because the parents of parochial students do, indeed, still work.

The parents are entitled to this service because the money still comes out of their pockets, no matter what anyone says.

Seo Hee Ko

Ellicott City

Loved your editorial, "No Free Ride for Parochial Schools" (Feb. 16). You said, "When parents choose to send their children to private or religious schools, they should expect to foot the entire bill." Couldn't agree with you more. Then you said, "Public funds should be for public education." Again, couldn't agree with you more.

Now I want to hear you apply these lines to state aid to private higher education. Many of your readers may not be aware of this, but Maryland allocates huge sums to private higher education. In last year's budget, these funds amounted to more than $25 million -- and this to colleges and universities that don't charge their in-state students a cent less than out-of-state students.

In a state as financially strapped as this one, and that invariably looks to its higher education budget whenever cuts are called for, this free ride is inexcusable. To judge from your editorial on parochial schools, you ought to be in the vanguard of those who are trying to put a stop to it.

George S. Friedman

Towson

The writer is president of the Towson State University Faculty Association of the American Association of University Professors.

I am writing in response to Kenneth Stevens' letter in The Sun for Howard County on March 5. Mr. Stevens has long been an outspoken opponent to transporting nonpublic school students. However, this letter is the most nonsensical I have read. He objects because religious instruction is provided at the end of the trip. This logic, carried further, could have dangerous consequences for all Howard countians.

I must admit that I have religious materials in my home, Bibles, Sunday School materials, magazines, and (lean in closer so I can whisper) church bulletins. Some of these were even delivered to my home by my U.S. Postal Service worker. Occasionally, there are religious materials in my recycling bin, which is picked up by a county paid contractor. Should my house catch fire or should I fall victim to an attempted burglary, the responding county fire or police officers would be helping to protect religious materials.

If we allow Mr. Stevens' logic to stand, all county services to all Howard countians of any faith could be subject to a team of anti-religious materials police, who would, of course, be paid with county tax dollars. Busing of nonpublic students should certainly continue. The choice not to use one county-provided service does not disqualify a family from all other county services.

Marcia A. Croteau

Ellicott City

You should get over your hostility to parochial school education as expressed in your editorial, "No Free Ride for Parochial Students."

Why not give the children attending the Howard County parochial schools a free ride? Do they need the ride any less than public school students? Are they somehow less deserving? Under your logic, why not make the schools pay property taxes? Why give them police or fire protection?

Parochial schools provide public benefits throughout the state. . . .

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