Budget increase for schools falls far short of needsHoward...

LETTERS

May 03, 1998

Budget increase for schools falls far short of needs

Howard County Executive Charles I. Ecker's proposed increase of $11 million over last year's Department of Education budget is woefully inadequate to meet the needs of a county that has the best school system in the state and whose citizens expect this standard to be maintained.

The maintenance of effort to meet the increased enrollment in the school requires $7 million more than this year's budget provides. The negotiated agreement for teachers' salary increases requires an increase of $8.8 million (including benefits). The $11 million proposed increase does not even fund these two items without cuts in existing programs.

At all of the public hearings that were held by the Board of Education and the county executive, many citizens stood up and pleaded for funds for teacher raises; for capital funds for new schools and for repairs to older ones; for new programs to improve the reading performance of our students; and for funding for initiatives to meet the needs to disruptive youths and students who are not reaching their academic goals. The citizens of Howard County expect excellent schools and our students deserve them.

Howard County's piggyback income tax rate at 50 percent is among the lowest in the state. Reducing it to 48 percent will save the average family about $50 a year, enough to take a family of four to see "Titanic" if they share popcorn. On the other hand, this amounts to $5.5 million in revenue, which can be used to fund our schools.

I think the better investment is in education. I urge the council to restore the funds that Mr. Ecker has chosen to cut from the education budget.

Kathleen Sinkinson

Ellicott City

The writer is chairwoman of the Citizens Advisory Committee to the Howard County Board of Education.

Head-wrap issue raises bigger questions

To the parents of the teen-ager who doesn't want to go to school without a piece of cloth on her head: Where are you? How can this be a bigger issue than your child's education? She should be in class, not in the newspaper.

To the teen-ager: Yes, the Constitution (actually, the Bill of Rights -- had you been in class you might have learned that) guarantees freedom of expression.

What you need to learn and remember is that nowhere are you guaranteed a free education. The people of the state and county, including your teachers and parents, pay for it. Why are you wasting it?

To the lawyer who is bringing the suit: Why are you wasting the court's time and the taxpayers' money? Can't you find a windmill to tilt at that has some real social significance? Or do you just want the publicity?

John D. Boughter

Towson

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I completely agree with the Howard County school officials for enforcing the no-hat dress code policy in their school.

Dress codes are there for a reason and should be strictly upheld. I completely disagree with the school system for deciding to spend $1,000 to send a teacher to the student's home. That is ridiculous.

If Shermia Isaacs wants to wear her African-style head-wrap, she should do it on her own time.

What if a white student attending that school wore a baseball cap with a Confederate battle flag on it, or a Confederate flag bandanna on is head to honor his Southern heritage? He is asked to take it off and refuses because he wears it in honor of one of his great-grandfathers who was a Civil War veteran.

Like Miss Isaacs, he would be suspended and rightfully so. Why? No hats are allowed in school, that's why. Would the county be willing to shell out $1,000 to home-school him? I think we all know the answer to that.

We go to school for one reason, to learn, not to make "cultural statements." It's not about heritage or ethnicity. It's about obeying the rules, something way too many kids cannot seem to do these days.

Allan Teague

Fort George G. Meade

Principal's comments were insensitive

Re: Comments made by Marshall Peterson to The Sun, regarding the tragedy of Matthew Christopher Wichita and Kevans Bradshaw Hall II ("2 Howard men die in Florida knife attack," April 18).

I am deeply offended by the insensitive and irresponsible comments made by the principal at Oakland Mills High School to reporters after the tragic incident in Florida. Matthew and Kevans were slaughtered by a gang of 20 people, while Seth Kenyon Qubeck was critically injured with more than 17 stab wounds. Yet Mr. Peterson told The Sun that "this was not the first time they got into a fight."

Adding insult to injury, he said that they were in "a very rowdy class." What a sweeping condemnation of the entire Class of '95.

Mr. Peterson was not even the principal when these young men were attending Oakland Mills High School; David Bruzga was principal then. It's truly amazing that a professional educator could be so quick to condemn, and be so callous to the grieving parents who had just lost their sons.

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