Welfare reform requires a lot of cooperationI would like...

SATURDAY MAIL BOX

February 22, 1997

Welfare reform requires a lot of cooperation

I would like to commend Sun reporter Kathy Lally for her comprehensive Feb. 2 article, ''Reworking welfare: Maryland recipients join the push for self-sufficiency,'' which describes the complexities of welfare reform.

The article contained several important messages for Marylanders. As the personal success stories of former recipients Sheryl Lindsay and Barbara Mason indicated, welfare recipients want to become productive wage earners. Unfortunately, the word ''welfare'' continues to carry a stigma that can be an obstacle for those attempting to enter the labor market. Ms. Lally's article helped clarify many such obstacles that must be resolved.

Wilbur Cohen, secretary of health, education and welfare in the Johnson administration, said, ''Welfare reflects the failure of other systems.'' Ms. Lally's article showed that welfare reform requires the reform of transportation, health, education, day care and employment systems.

This is only the first year of welfare reform, known as the Family Investment Program. The city of Baltimore's Project Independence, Genesis Jobs and the programs in Anne Arundel and St. Mary's counties described by Ms. Lally are just a few of many collaborations of the public and private sectors.

Alvin C. Collins

Baltimore

The writer is secretary of the Maryland Department of Human Resources.

Baltimore children are unsung heroes

I work in a Baltimore City public school. On a recent morning, The Sun juxtaposed two stories on Page 1. On the left was a story outlining the tragic circumstances of the lives of many of our children in this city, indicating Baltimore's young folks were living and trying to survive in a town where they are among the most disadvantaged in this country.

The schools have been criticized for lack of success in improving test scores with this population of little ones who should be congratulated and honored for the mere fact of getting to school every day and holding their lives together. They are a source of awe for me in their courage and determination.

On the right was an article about the now-familiar call for more police to help stem the rising violent crime.

It is a wonder to me that the irony of this seems to be lost. We have a city where our children are the least cherished in this country; we quibble about funding schools, and we hesitate to supply funds to elevate their health and hope.

Rather than do all that is necessary to create a world that provides for their care and future, we have incarcerated their fathers, marginalized their mothers, burdened their grandmothers, blamed the schools for failure and then we want to provide more police so we can jail them at ever younger ages.

Forget the extra police. Hire more teachers, aides and recreational personnel. Provide space where the children can be safe and feel cared for while their parents are out trying to find a way to make a life for them and get out of this pernicious cycle of misery and despair.

M. Angela Callahan

Baltimore

Visionary Art Museum uplifts this visitor

I just spent a most surprisingly uplifting and interesting afternoon at the American Visionary Art Museum. It is a tribute to the human creative spirit. These artists are ones who must create regardless of their life situation and financial limitations.

I found myself as interested in the short biographies of the artists as I did in their creative expressions of their world, their dreams, their pain, their whimsy and themselves. It was wonderful!

Susan Steele

Baltimore

Underage drinking occurs everywhere

When I read Debbie M. Price's Feb. 16 article, "Beer, liquor and frats," it evoked memories of university students attending the very same kinds of parties 12 years ago. The only difference was that it was 10: 30 p.m. and just another Towson Friday night. These parties were sponsored not by fraternities in off-campus houses but by Towson State athletic clubs in local lodges. Money was collected at the door and IDs were checked randomly, at best.

Underage drinking is a national concern and I resent the article's implication that the problem is limited to Frostburg and its fraternities. This tragic death could have just as easily occurred on spring break, during senior week or in our own town.

Let's not point fingers; let's instead find solutions.

Kimberly Poremski

Baltimore

Females do chair academy departments

In the article on women at the U.S. Naval Academy (Feb. 9), I was dismayed to find my gender changed. You stated that ''No woman heads an academic department.''

I am both female and chair of an academic department at the academy, a position I have held for the past three and a half years. My predecessor was female, as were past chairs of two other departments -- history and economics.

Since several academic departments have women full professors, I am confident that there will continue to be women chairs in the future.

Sharon Dahlgren Voros

Annapolis

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