Feaga's Follies: Fire, then SchoolsI do believe Charlie...


July 09, 1995

Feaga's Follies: Fire, then Schools

I do believe Charlie Feaga has gone too far.

First, he suggests that houses on fire be allowed to burn longer rather than allot more money to fire prevention resources. That suggestion has to be one of the most ill-thought-out, irresponsible and totally naive suggestions ever made by a politician. Then, Mr. Feaga suggests that the solution to Howard County's fiscal problems is to do the following:

* Ignore federal mandates concerning special education students and, therefore, spend less money in that area.

* Cut the salaries of educators in Howard County.

It seems to me that what we have here is a man so utterly obsessed with the tax rate that he has lost any semblance of rational thought. His suggestions for saving a few tax pennies are self-serving and ignore the long-term costs of his ideas. Many have already responded and pointed out how costly his suggestions on the fire tax could be, even to the point of losing human life. I'd like to briefly discuss Mr. Feaga's ludicrous education suggestions.

Let me preface my thoughts by pointing out that like other Howard County residents, I understand these are difficult fiscal times that require restraint on the part of everyone. However, to jump at an alternative that disproportionately punishes one segment of workers so severely is simply unfair.

All we hear from leaders in government and business is how terrific the Howard County school system is -- tops in the state -- and how that factor may be our county's best selling point in attracting businesses to locate here, thus resulting in improved financial status for our county. Yet, as everyone wants to take credit for this outstanding performance, as soon as things get tough, Mr. Feaga's solution is to attack those in the trenches who have made this system the best.

Make no mistake here, our educational system is as good as it is primarily due to the outstanding educators within the schools. These are the people who need to be rewarded, not attacked. It's almost inconceivable to me in this day and age when more and more is expected from those in the schools, that someone in a position such as Mr. Feaga's would suggest cutting educators' salaries.

In addition, Mr. Feaga's suggestion to ignore certain federal mandates and let the federal government sue if it would like is an amazingly irresponsible statement. All such a course of action would do is cost the county more money in a no-win legal battle. We would most likely still end up spending the money those mandates require but only after a drawn-out, expensive litigation battle that would further increase this county's debt. Whatever could Mr. Feaga have been thinking?

I would hope that this budget process over the next few years doesn't denigrate into something that few in Howard County want. Obviously, some difficult choices may have to be made, but Mr. Feaga's suggestions are so far out of line that it makes one wonder what kind of agenda this man really has.

No longer should citizens of Howard County remain silent on these issues that affect all of us so much. The long-range implications of the shortsighted suggestions of a couple of office holders may end up costing this county dearly.

Dave Greenberg


NAACP Report

The Howard County branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People views your editorial of June 5 as presumptuous and misleading.

Presumptuous because you chose to present an opinion on the workability of the NAACP report without any indication that school system officials have deemed the recommendations "unworkable." Since they are the persons responsible for effecting changes, the Board of Education, rather than The Sun, needs to make that determination. If you have received information from the Board of Education that would lead you to that conclusion, it is expected that you would have provided your readership with the facts that led to your opinion.

The editorial is misleading, because you chose to isolate two items from a list of eight recommendations that focused on the delivery of quality education to all students. Based on the philosophy of high expectations, the NAACP report calls for a revamping of educational policies, procedures and curriculum to model the strategies that have been reserved for gifted and talented students. It is our position that all students should benefit from the high quality of instruction provided to gifted and talented students.

Surely, you do not wish to imply that the Howard County school system is so far behind the times that it cannot benefit from the research cited in the NAACP report. School systems throughout the United States have shown phenomenal growth utilizing educational strategies based on high expectations. It seems that your opinion is based more on an unwillingness to change the status quo rather than the possibility that the NAACP recommendations are unworkable.

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