Higher education has priority needsThe Sun's Oct. 13...

LETTERS

November 10, 1997

Higher education has priority needs

The Sun's Oct. 13 editorial, ''Making higher education a priority,'' certainly caught my attention.

I enthusiastically applaud your call for increased state support of higher education and for higher education's greater link to the state's future economic growth, especially in the high-technology sector.

As we know all too well, the state of Maryland does not have a history of fully supporting higher education. Unfortunately, decades ago, when other states were building high-quality public systems of higher education, an advisory commission in the state rejected this approach for Maryland. It was not until 1988, when the Higher Education Reorganization Act officially directed the state to ''achieve national eminence'' in higher education, that the state finally embarked on a path to increase support for its colleges and universities.

The recession of the early 1990s, however, derailed the higher education enhancement train. For example, at my own institution, because of a $40 million cut in state support, we closed 39 programs, seven majors and a college. Cuts of similar magnitude took place at other institutions of higher education.

Since that time, Gov. Parris N. Glendening has done a remarkable job of trying to move education funding higher on the list of the state's priorities. Indeed, in the past few years, our state's colleges and universities have received a significantly greater percentage increase than other state agencies, with the exception of the judiciary, public safety and business and economic development.

Simply getting back to where we were, though, is obviously not what The Sun had in mind with its editorial. We in higher education know, as I am sure the governor does, that annual increments well in excess of the inflation rate are required to build the quality colleges and universities Maryland needs and deserves.

William E. Kirwan

College Park

The writer is president of the University of Maryland at College Park.

Schoolchildren inspire hope for the future

I teach second grade at Owings Mills Elementary School. As I watch the children function within the classroom community, I know that the world is in good shape.

I have a great deal of respect for these little people. True, their years are few, but already they have grown into incredible people. My students are in charge of themselves in so many ways.

Just as adults go to work each day, children go to their place of work -- school. If you could see what I see, you would feel encouraged about our future. So often without being asked, my second-graders show compassion to their peers and adults. When a little boy began to cry after hurting his wrist, a classmate walked over to him, touched his shoulder, and said, "You will be OK." Another student saw me with my hands full and offered to carry my things for me. I was so proud.

As in most elementary school classrooms, my students have classroom responsibilities such as board washer, plant care helper, paper collector, caretaker of the class rabbit and other jobs.

I am amazed at how this group of six- and seven-year-old children see to it that they fulfill their responsibilities on a daily basis without needing to be reminded. I am so lucky to be able to go to work each day and be surrounded by such exceptional little future leaders. And I think, what a wonderful world this is.

Lisa Greenberg

Baltimore

Lederhosen worth mentioning, too

Why is Teresa Palomar so upset over the mention of Ellen Sauerbrey's dirndl dress. (Saturday Mail Box, Nov. 1, "Don't care what Sauerbrey wears")?

The headline of the Oct. 25 article, ''Sauerbrey fund-raiser has polka, bratwurst,'' implied why the dress had meaning.

Her dress was noteworthy because it showed her enthusiasm for the occasion. The native costume for areas of the world that are known for the polka and bratwurst includes the dirndl.

I am absolutely positive that if Gov. Parris Glendening or President Clinton were to wear lederhosen, the masculine counterpart to the dirndl, that The Sun would be sure to let us know.

Marcia E. Anderson

Columbia

Jed Kirschbaum's photography compared to Vermeer

I have been an admirer of Jed Kirschbaum's photography for many years, but the elegant photograph of the young woman screen-painter in the Nov. 4 Sun deserves a letter, and a prize.

In composition and lighting, and its lovely serene mood, it has the beauty of a Vermeer painting. If it looks this wonderful in the newspaper, I can only imagine how compelling the printed photograph must be.

Congratulations to Mr. Kirschbaum and to The Sun for such exceptional photography.

Patricia Owens

Baltimore

Pub Date: 11/10/97

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