Scholarship program has one agenda -- helping childrenMike...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

December 07, 1998

Scholarship program has one agenda -- helping children

Mike Bowler's Nov. 25 Education Beat article on the new private scholarship program in Baltimore contains a couple of errors.

Mr. Bowler is correct that the program founders Ted Forstmann and John Walton have put $100 million into the National Children's Scholarship Fund effort, with $1 million set aside for Baltimore.

However, two mistakes need to be corrected.

First, the local affiliate of the program is no longer called the Children's Educational Opportunities Foundation of Baltimore. We have changed our name to the Children's Scholarship Fund Baltimore.

Second, the program is not in the slightest bit political. Our mission is to provide parents a choice and kids a chance.

Mr. Bowler's statement, "if it (the scholarship program) turns out to be trial balloon for publicly funded vouchers, well so be it," does not reflect the vision of the local board of directors or the executive director.

We simply believe that parents deserve to choose from among the broadest range of educational alternatives.

Praise for the local CSF effort spans the political spectrum, with letters of support from Democratic U.S. Senators Paul Sarbanes and Barbara Mikulski, Democratic Congressman Ben Cardin, Republican Congressman Bob Ehrlich and Democratic state Sen.Nathaniel McFadden, as well as from Councilman Kieffer Mitchell. Finally, Mayor Schmoke expressed great support for the program when he announced it at a conference on October 29.

Our only agenda is children.

Suzanna Duvall

Baltimore

The writer is president of the Children's Scholarship Fund Baltimore.

Educators' challenge is to offer expanded options

The Nov. 29 editorial "High school report" addresses the problem of stagnating graduation rates in the United States, which is a major dilemma facing educators. While we can be proud of the fact that more students enter college in this country than other industrialized nation, it is important to recognize that those who are not going to college are the students who are not completing high school.

Students who plan to be employed right out of high school typically spend far less time on their studies than those who plan to attend college. Unfortunately, they see very little connection between what and how much they learn and their future success in the labor market. As a result, they quickly become disengaged and disenfranchised from the entire educational process.

The challenge for educators is to identify students who become "at-risk" at earlier ages and provide alternative educational programs that vary from the traditional, "one size fits all" approach to learning.

Alternative learning provides us with options that will help us retain these students in school and improve their academic performance and achievement. In addition, a career and vocational preparation component that includes an emphasis on interpersonal communication skills, decision-making and labor market dynamics will help students visualize the tangible rewards of a high school education at the same time they are being prepared for employment.

Kevin L. Ensor

Parkton

College Park's state aid is higher than other campuses

The University of Maryland campus at College Park claims that it cannot realize its potential because it is being held back by the University of Maryland System.

The College Park campus receives all state funding for most Ph.D. and many other academic programs because it has successfully used the University of Maryland system to prevent Baltimore-area campuses from establishing similar programs.

The College Park campus has used the University of Maryland System to get more state funding per student than any other liberal arts campus.

The system requires every campus to compare itself to several "peer institutions." Funding from the state for the College Park campus is closer to its peer institutions than any other liberal arts campus in the system.

The governor, the president of the Maryland Senate, and the secretary of Higher Education are all from Prince George's County and have been extremely generous in spending state money on the College Park campus.

If the College Park campus has not already achieved its potential with all of these advantages, it never will.

William G. Rothstein

Baltimore

The writer is a professor at the University of Maryland, BaltimoreCounty.

Review of 'Jolson' seems to have missed show's point

It was with a mixture of amazement and chagrin that I read J. Wynn Rousuck's review of "Jolson." Although it is clear that I sat at the same performance, I find it hard to believe that we saw the same show.

The show was immensely entertaining, well performed and altogether a most satisfying performance. Your reviewer completely missed the purpose of the show by endeavoring to find deeper meaning in the plot.

Doesn't she realize that this was primarily a vehicle for the Jolson songs?

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