New homes in county cause school crowdingIn a July 11...


July 22, 1996

New homes in county cause school crowding

In a July 11 article, Baltimore County Executive C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, the local Chamber of Commerce and the Home Builders' Association continued to deliberately mislead the citizens of the county regarding the school crowding crisis.

Their argument that new home construction is not the reason for school crowding is just not true. As they say in baseball, you can look it up. Between 1990 and 1995, more than 19,000 new dwellings were added in the county. Using school system figures, which have historically been quite accurate, approximately 4,000 new elementary school students were generated from the newly constructed homes. The actual increase in elementary school students during that time was just over 6,000.

It is obvious then that two-thirds of the increased elementary school enrollment came from those new dwellings while only one-third was the result of an increased birth rate and young people replacing older residents in established communities -- factors over which the county has virtually no control. The county can, however, control the pace of development and should, to prevent more serious problems.

At this time, more than 15,000 new dwellings have been approved by the county and not yet built. When occupied, those new residences will generate 3,000 more elementary school students, enough to fill five new elementary schools, regardless of any other demographic trends.

The county must slow the rate of growth if there is to be any hope of ever catching up and then keeping up with school enrollment. The elementary schools are not the only problem. The middle and high schools are already significantly overcrowded and will become more so when the huge elementary school population moves up within the next several years.

Every new household imposes on Baltimore County a perpetual obligation to provide not just a decent education for the children, but many other services as well. Taxes generated by these new residents do not come close to paying for the services they demand. In other words, every new home costs the county more in expenses than it generates in revenue.

Robert D. Sellers


Same-sex schools not really sexist

Karen Czapanskiy, a law professor, writes (Perspective, July 7), ''In the end, however, seven members of the court recognized VMI's claims to be what they were: simply wrong.'' Ms. Czapanskiy then said that because VMI denied the entrance of women, it denied those women access to education, power, and privilege. This, for her, was sexism.

First, women in Virginia were hardly being denied access to higher education. VMI today holds only 1,300 academic slots among some 130,000 slots offered by other Virginia schools.

Next, there is no simple truth about same-sex education. The idea behind it is to better educate the members of the given sex, not to deny the excluded group from an education. A perfect example would be Western High of Baltimore, an all-girls school. The focus is to better educate girls, not to deny boys access to education and privilege. Western High has succeeded in its mission, and this success should not be cast as sexist.

The fall of VMI may have gained ''equality'' for women, but the diversity of choice for young men and women seeking an education in publicly funded single-sex institutions has been erased. I do not see this as particularly wonderful or beneficial, and my fiance from Smith College, a prestigious but privately funded all-woman college, would agree.

Peter G. Smith


Physicians' interest in prolonging life

Ellen Goodman's July 5 column, "A 'right' but not always a desire to die," missed a very important point.

Isn't it possible the doctors who oppose doctor-assisted suicide want to prolong the lives of their patients, as the charges for this ''care'' form the bulk of their livelihood?

If voluntary euthanasia were legal in this country, I'll bet the fees for this service would be so high they would be astronomically out of reach for most of the patients.

The rich could make a lump-sum payment and be free of their agony, while the poor would still be ''treated'' by their ''caring'' doctors who mostly care about their bank accounts.

Maybe the HMOs would allow this final treatment to be billed to them. That way they could end the financial drain of a terminal patient.

Whichever way it happens, death is very profitable for doctors and undertakers.

Louis Sudipal


Let's all run computer checks

I have been reading with interest the issue of instant computer background checks on persons attempting to buy guns. Supposedly the check is made at the point of sale (gun shops, Kmart, Wal-Mart, etc.) by store employees.

I don't know what computer network is used to make this information available, but it appears that anyone with access to the point-of-sale computers could do a background check on anyone he or she desires. This raises an interesting point.

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