Value of Art in the SchoolsI read with interest the...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

April 09, 1995

Value of Art in the Schools

I read with interest the article about author Jane Cowen-Fletcher's visit to Phelps Luck Elementary School. Ms. Cowen-Fletcher read her book, "It Takes a Village," to the 500 students, talked to the kids about writing and critiqued the students' own short stories. It is exciting to see a nationally recognized author sharing her art and expertise with faculty and students in our schools.

What is also important about Ms. Cowen-Fletcher's visit is that it was made possible by a funding partnership between the Phelps Luck PTA, the Columbia Association and the Howard County Arts Council. It is one of 22 such residencies that the council will fund this spring in Howard County schools.

The county arts council has funded residencies for the last eight years. We pioneered the concept in Maryland of doing them in partnership with local PTAs and PTSAs. Before that time, few residencies of this quality happened in Howard County schools. Now, we are proud to say, they are a regular occurrence in many of them.

Probably few people also know that the concept of artistic residencies in schools was developed by the National Endowment for the Arts, and that a portion of each residency dollar awarded by the arts council is NEA funding. In this age of intense questioning of the value of the arts in our lives, this wonderful residency represents many of the goals we in the arts seek to achieve. The arts are for everyone -- not just for the elite.

Mary E. Toth

Ellicott City

The writer is executive director of the Howard County Arts Council.

Running the Red

The scofflaw has been a part of civilized society since the time of Adam. This habitual behavior has manifested itself in various forms from income tax evasion to not curbing the dog.

A new and very dangerous activity has been added to the scofflaws' portfolio -- running the red light. One only has to ask a fellow commuter to downtown Baltimore of the hazards of walking up to the office from the MARC, light rail or subway. When the light turns and the "walk" indicator signals the OK to proceed, the prudent pedestrian waits and counts three before crossing.

There is not an intersection in the inner city that at least two or three cars do not scoot through the red lights during rush hour. The problem has become so pervasive that there is almost an indifference on both the part of the driver and the pedestrian as to the law. Any attempt on the part of the Baltimore City Police Department to address the problem or even to admit there is a problem is absent.

Vehicles of all descriptions -- buses, trucks, BMWs and bicycles -- all throw caution to the wind and thumb their noses at the norms of society. It's only a matter of time until the inevitable will happen: A group of unseasoned tourists or conventioneers will unknowingly cross one of these busy intersections, unaware of the local practice and bang, the predictable will happen. Knee-jerk reactions and incrimination will surface, all full of righteous indignation condemning this aberrant behavior of the local motorist. How many times have we been down this road?

Why not, just once, try and do the job right the first time. Scofflaws should be caught and prosecuted to the full extent of the law. We, as a civilized society, should insist on full compliance and nothing less.

Robert M. McDonough

Columbia

Jail Alternatives

The Maryland Division of Parole and Probation welcomes The Sun's recent feature story and editorial of March 16, saluting the Howard County Sheriff Department's successful administration of the court-ordered community service program.

Community service as a sentencing alternative is limited by both statute and practice to nonviolent offenders who have a minor history of criminal behavior. As the primary provider of community supervision of adult offenders, the nature of our agency's responsibilities demand that the volume of our resources be devoted to impacting the behavior of offenders who have a substantial history of criminal behavior, including crimes of violence.

During a 1992 exploration of alternatives to incarceration, we also focused on effective criminal sanctions that would divert less serious offenders from probation supervision. Historically, this agency had administered the court-ordered community service program in Howard County and simultaneously advocated for additional resources to expand and improve program operations. An analysis of the existing community service program operation led us to conclude that county government program administration would best provide the flexibility and creativity to develop community service in a cost-effective manner.

It was the implementation of this vision that resulted in the establishment of the funding mechanism, whereby the Howard County's Sheriff Department was awarded $120,000 from the budget of the Maryland Division of Parole and Probation.

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