Arts classes should play key role in schoolsPlease let me...

Letters

January 18, 1998

Arts classes should play key role in schools

Please let me take my place in the long line of those who have commended you for your series of articles about the situation in Baltimore elementary schools. Also, let me take my place in the not-so-long line of those recommending ways to improve that situation.

There is a growing consensus among U.S. policy-makers and parents that the arts need to become an integral and necessary part of the education of every elementary schoolchild.

Recent research has shown and respected leaders now advocate John I. Goodlad's conclusion in "A Place Called School" that the arts are not an educational option; they are basic.

Music, art and drama classes at the elementary school level need to be offered in every elementary school in Baltimore, and not just on an experimental basis in the better schools. That time has long since passed.

And to give the excuses that not enough money is available or we are already doing "something" along that line cannot fully come to grips with the fact that surveys indicate that a majority of parents in this country (and probably in this city, as well) already know that the arts are as important as reading, writing, math, science, history or geography.

More than half said they favored cuts in administration or sports to pay for arts classes.

Therefore, let's get on with it. Let's make sure the new city school board puts these kinds of calls for every elementary school in its new five-year plan and plans the budget accordingly.

W. Scott Hengen

Baltimore

Sen. Sarbanes' view on interest vindicated

The U.S. economy is going great guns.

Most economic indicators have been positive for the past several years, as has been consumer confidence; U.S. unemployment is lower than it has been in decades; job creation is high; and the stock market has exceeded expectations.

And, oh, yes, interest rates have been low and steady.

Pretty clear that Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes' strong belief in the benefits of low interest rates has been vindicated.

Bruce A. Gilmore

Baltimore S. Z. Breeden of Hampstead wrote Jan. 10 to convey his resentment about the statement made by Theodore G. Venetoulis that his brother had "dug out" of their East Baltimore neighborhood to move on to better things.

Then Mr. Breeden writes that he, too, came from East Baltimore, which he says was "at one time considered a decent area to live in." I don't see the difference in the comments made by these two people. Isn't it time we stopped labeling people by the part of town they come from?

Mr. Venetoulis, who was just as innocent in his comment as Mr. Breeden was, and Mr. Breeden no longer live in East Baltimore.

But let's remember that a heck of a lot of nice, hard-working folks still call the area their home.

Pat Long

Woodlawn

No, Realtors don't make piles of money

I am writing in response to Frank W. Soltis' letter, "Real estate fees are negotiable" (Jan. 10) from a Realtor's point of view.

The $150 administrative fee that two real estate companies recently announced they would charge home sellers does not sound too unreasonable to me, considering the continually rising overhead for advertising, supplies, auto expenses, telephones, office staff, professional dues, multiple list monthly dues, etc., not to mention compensation for our time.

We work seven days a week and run with our clients day and night. We often find that we are required to pay third-party relocation companies a hefty 30 percent to 35 percent of our commissions off the top even though they've done absolutely nothing.

We are self-employed and must pay higher self-employment taxes, cannot rely on a company to pay health insurance or retirement benefits. We never get sick days, paid vacations or paid personal time, no matter how long we work.

What about the high turnover of agents? Only one of 10 will stay in the business after one year. That says something about our business.

The average full-time Realtor earns $18,000 per year -- hardly a "lucrative" business.

Compensation comes only when the transaction is complete, at the settlement table. All too often, even then we find out that after the first and second mortgages are paid, no funds are left to cover commissions.

Sometimes in the 11th hour of negotiations, we Realtors are called on to become a contributor, which cuts deeper into our commissions. It takes at least two months, and sometimes years, to be paid for a job we have invested countless hours in.

Our commissions may seem high, but remember that the average person working for a company gets a net check. We don't. Our commission check must pay Uncle Sam, and the remaining goes toward health insurance and a retirement fund. The next portion goes to overhead expenses and the last, meager amount we get to keep.

How about walking a mile in our shoes before sounding off about our commissions? We're worth every penny.

Lynn Sherrock Pakulla

Ellicott City

Pub Date: 1/18/98

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