Pending bill would create charter schoolsRecently, a group...

LETTERS

March 15, 1998

Pending bill would create charter schools

Recently, a group of us interested in the education of blind children were considering the alternatives in education for our kids. While looking for information, I found out that a bill has been introduced this session in the Maryland House of Delegates that would make provisions for charter schools.

The Center for Education Reform defines charter schools as "independent public schools that are freed from bureaucratic and regulatory micromanagement to design and deliver programs tailored to educational excellence and the needs of their community. They are held accountable not for compliance with reams of rules, but for how well they educate children in a safe and responsible environment."

Charter schools offer the unique opportunity to explore and try new approaches and methods of education on a small scale. Educators, parents and others can join with a common philosophy of education. Choice will be the key. Charter schools will be able to choose to specialize in areas of special interest such as math or science, or to focus on special needs, such as blindness.

One of the best selling points is that if a charter school does not work, we are not stuck with it, unlike the open-space classrooms we only wish we could change. The law of supply and demand will take care of that. If parents are not satisfied, they can withdraw their children and put them somewhere else.

Twenty-five states have passed charter school legislation and gotten programs off the ground. I am sure plenty of Marylanders who want to see innovation in education are willing to work with others to start a charter school.

House Bill 999 deserves all our support.

Loretta White

Pasadena

BGE finally gets the message

In the Feb. 22 article "BGE appeals board's order on fly ash site," Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. had an epiphany.

After 16 years, countless rounds of litigation, meetings in the hundreds, volunteer hours and dollars in the thousands, it finally got the point.

BGE spokeswoman Peggy Mulloy acknowledged at long last, "They just don't want us to be there, and there's nothing we or anybody can say to satisfy them. They will not be happy until they shut us down."

Congratulations, Ms. Mulloy, on your keen intuition.

BGE's fly-ash plan is an environmental farce. In one breath, BGE acknowledges that the "continuous natural clay liner theory" is wrong. In the next breath, it says that worrying about it is cost-prohibitive.

Can you say "Love Canal"?

Residents agonize over health risks to their children and lament the possible death of a once rock-solid community. The county grapples with long-term concerns over the clean-water supply, loss of critical wetlands and the health of the Chesapeake Bay.

Congratulations, BGE, for finally getting the message: We want this project stopped.

Carl Hackmann

Pasadena

The writer is a spokesman for the Coalition of Communities and Citizens Against Fly Ash.

Billions at stake on tobacco bills

The actions of a few leaders in the Maryland General Assembly could cause our state to lose billions of dollars. The attorney general has filed a class-action suit against the tobacco manufacturers to recover money the state has spent for the treatment of tobacco diseases.

Similar suits have resulted in settlements of $3.4 billion to Mississippi, $11.3 billion to Florida and $15.3 billion to Texas. Laws in these states permitted the attorneys general to sue on the basis of statistical analysis, without proof of causation or expenditures for any particular program recipient.

Thousands of people are involved in these suits, and this is the only sensible thing to do because it unclogs our courts and precludes the necessity for every tobacco victim to appear in court.

Legislation has been introduced in the Maryland General Assembly to provide the attorney general with the same sort of legal basis.

Because the state stands to gain billions of dollars that could be used to reduce the tax burden on citizens, one would think this legislation would fly through the Assembly without a negative vote. Unfortunately, tobacco industry lobbyists are pressuring legislators.

To avoid the loss of billions of dollars, I urge every taxpaying citizen of Maryland to contact his or her General Assembly members and tell them to vote for Senate Bill 652 and House Bill 972.

ohn H. O'Hara

Bowie

The writer is president of Maryland Group Against Smokers' Pollution.

Thank you, Belvedere pupils

On behalf of Anne Arundel County Executive John G. Gary, I would like to thank the students of Belvedere Elementary School who helped kick off the county's Small Area Planning Program on Feb. 5 at Anne Arundel Community College.

The student chorus, led by teacher Lynn Terrell, performed "America the Beautiful" and "It's in Your Hands" before members of six citizen-based Small Area Planning Committees, whose work over the next 10 months will help guide the use of private property and public spending in their communities for the next 20 years.

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