Our own Nero has fiddled as schools burnEnough is enough...

LETTERS

July 19, 1998

Our own Nero has fiddled as schools burn

Enough is enough! Carol Parham! John Gary! Anne Arundel County school board!

Let's focus on the real victims, the children of Anne Arundel County public schools. The culprits? The Anne Arundel County Council, led by a Nero who played fiddle while Rome burned and while our children suffered -- Bert Rice.

This is not sour grapes because my position is being abolished because of budget cuts. This is because I have learned to respect and appreciate the job the teachers do for our children and what they go through. Yet they can't receive a raise for their work and efforts while jails are being built and roads are made through our crowded county.

The only people who really respect teachers are our burning-heart liberals and our Afro-Americans. I am sick and tired of being sick and tired while the Anne Arundel council plays with the lives of our children.

Also, as a part of being on the council, members should be made to serve in public schools in some capacity during their term in office. And I will go one step further: They should be made to live in an African-American community during six months of their term.

I am not scared, and I am not afraid. Let the pieces fall where they may. The teachers and citizens had better join together to save our children. Carol Parham cannot do it alone. The school board cannot do it alone. But together, we can.

Joseph Zastro Simms

Annapolis

School board isn't clueless about poverty

Your July 13 editorial "'Good news' about poverty?" portrayed our school board as "seemingly clueless" about increasing numbers of children living in poverty and suggested we viewed them as just "another revenue source" in our "narrow-minded focus on money." Neither could be further from the truth -- and your readers have a right to understand the facts.

We responded positively when told we could extend Title I services to four more schools. Then we directed staff to develop a contingency plan to buffer loss of these services when federal and state funding again decreases. You see, funding for these programs has been erratic. Title I and State Compensatory Education funds dropped precipitously in fiscal years 1995 and 1996, causing loss of services to seven schools -- while the number of children in poverty rose steadily.

Restoration of this funding for fiscal year 1999 elevates us to about the same level of services we provided in fiscal year 1994, when we had some 1,000 fewer students in poverty.

This is hardly cause to celebrate. When local funding leaves our operating budget $46 million short of stated requirements, restoration of these federal and state funds means we can at least address unique challenges in schools having concentrations of disadvantaged students. Hence my comment: "This is one of the few good news stories we have in these budget times."

Vaughn Brown

Hanover

The writer is a member of the Anne Arundel County Board of Education.

Southern legislators aim to revamp society

While attending a Southern university, I was constantly reminded by my friends that the War Between the States was just the initial skirmish and that the South would prevail.

When I look at the Washington political scene today, I must confess my friends could be right. By deft use of seniority, the South rules our legislative process.

The country must contend with the likes of Newt Gingrich (Georgia), Trent Lott (Mississippi), Dick Armey (Texas), and Jesse Helms (North Carolina). Revenge, even if delayed, is sweet.

What these illustrious leaders have provided is killing affordable health care, derailing campaign finance reform, dismantling environmental protections, and defending "King Tobacco" from meaningful penalties.

Their methods include feigning support while tacking on killer amendments and screaming "tax increase" to an unwitting public. To the uninformed public, support can be publicized while leaders and lobbyists laugh in the back rooms at our collective gullibility and continue to pour in money.

Voters should be careful not to become blind to the economic philosophies of these Republicans -- realize that their agenda is not economic, but one of social re-engineering where tolerance for others will be legislated away.

Alan McAllister

Severna Park

Consumer choice and credit unions

When banks merge into bigger and bigger conglomerates, it underscores the importance of choice in the financial marketplace between banks and credit unions, their nonprofit counterpart.

Recently, American consumers won a stunning victory when 411 Republicans and Democrats in the U. S. House of Representatives voted to clarify a Depression-era law and stand up in favor of consumer choice.

In so doing, the House action would make it clear who should be allowed to join a federal credit union and therefore have access to lower fees, lower interest rates on loans and the community service credit unions perform. But the battle isn't over yet.

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