Maintenance of effort is not enough for schools to keep...

Letters to the Editor

May 19, 1998

Maintenance of effort is not enough for schools to keep pace

A recent editorial focused on the emotional debates that occur concerning school board budgets ("Emotions still cloud school budget process," May 14).

The fact that "maintenance of effort" was exceeded by counties was stressed. For too long the perception has been that maintenance of effort is sufficient, not only to maintain the status quo, but to provide for improvement.

Let me clarify: All that maintenance of effort requires is that the same dollar amount be spent per student as in the previous fiscal year.

At no time are increased costs of instructional materials, utilities, or even insurance recognized.

Provisions are not made for increased costs attributable to changes in student population characteristics, salary or programmatic improvements to meet the higher academic standards demanded by the public. The only increases recognized by maintenance of effort are increases in student numbers.

If the public expects to see improvement in public education, a realistic improvement in financial support must be provided. Simple maintenance of effort is inadequate for the task and should be exceeded substantially.

Susan R. Buswell


The writer is executive director of the Maryland Association of Boards of Education.

Erudite McNatt captured city's diverse culture

I am a regular reader of nearly every columnist in The Sun. However, like countless other readers, I hope you will not deprive us of Glenn McNatt's truly valuable, erudite and always enjoyable column.

So much space is devoted to long tales of one person's life. In one column, Mr. McNatt provides education and entertainment for a variety of diversified interests of culture.

Sylvia B. Mandy


2000 computer glitch will rival the 1973 oil embargo

One of the small pleasures of moving to the Baltimore area recently has been the discovery of The Sun as a first-class newspaper, especially when it comes to coverage of local news.

However, Jay Hancock's column ("Computer apocalypse on the horizon," May 10) on the Year 2000 computer problem in the Business section was a major disappointment. Mr. Hancock apparently seized on the recent statements of Edward Yardeni, the respected chief economist for Deutsch Morgan Grunfeld, to treat a very serious topic quite lightly.

Every knowledgeable person in the computer industry agrees: The problem is no joke.

As the deadline for correction of coding errors approaches, it is becoming apparent that there will not be enough time or talent to make all the changes -- much less test them -- before problems emerge.

Mr. Hancock dismisses this potentially disastrous situation by conjuring up a wholly new resource: "American workers." This, in spite of the fact that most of us haven't the foggiest notion of what to do when a major system fails, whether it's at our bank, on the Washington Metro or in our own office.

The problems with the year 2000 will arrive at about the same time. The millennium bug is trivial by itself, but if it is not remedied in 99.9 percent of all programs well before Dec. 31, 1999, the volume of nuisance outages will overwhelm the typical worker, homeowner, police officer, teacher or tourist. The combined effect will be at least as significant as the 1973 OPEC oil embargo, which generated long, inconvenient lines at every gas station and started a six-year recession.

If Mr. Hancock is going to comment on the year 2000 computer problem, he needs to do his homework and talk to people working on the problem.

Thomas F. Cox


U.S. should act more swiftly against India's nuclear tests

India's test of three nuclear devices is an aggressive act that threatens peace in Asia and the entire world. It must be condemned in the strongest possible terms.

In view of this test, India can no longer claim that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes. This test is designed to scare India's neighbors and advance its campaign for hegemony in Southern Asia.

Recently, two officials of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) called for Pakistan and Bangladesh to become part of India. India refuses to recognize the legitimate aspirations for freedom of the Sikhs of Punjab (Khalistan), the Christians of Nagaland, the Muslims of Kashmir and many other nations living under its imperial rule.

India has not signed the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. While almost half the population lives below the international poverty line, India devotes a quarter of its development budget to the nuclear program that resulted in these explosions.

The Clinton administration should move more quickly to implement the required sanctions against India. The best way to keep Pakistan from responding in kind and escalating the nuclear arms race in Southern Asia, is to impose sanctions that are swift and strict.

Also, America should support the 17 freedom movements in India. Freedom for Punjab and for Kashmir can set up a buffer between India and Pakistan, which would deter war.

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