Special education changes can help all city studentsYour...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

April 02, 1999

Special education changes can help all city students

Your article concerning Baltimore City Public Schools ("Schools Seek Millions More For Disabled," March 23) again blames spending on special education for the school system's failure to deliver educational services to regular education students. But both groups of students are entitled to quality educational services, and pitting one group against the other does a disservice to all students.

Moreover, it misses the real point: Special education and regular education are two sides of same coin. You can't improve one without the other.

The court orders in the special education case have recognized this fact by linking improvements in services for students with disabilities to improvements in the general education system. For example, the most recent court order required additional training for all teachers in grades one to three, so that teachers are able to meet the needs of all students -- those with and without disabilities.

Although required to do so by outstanding court orders and the Long Range Compliance Plan, the school system has yet to analyze where taxpayer funds are going and how much money is really needed for special education. Until such an analysis is done, we will not know whether the money is being spent wisely.

Steven Ney, Largo

The writer is legal director of the Maryland Disability Law Center.

Cautions on the Har Sinai site

The Sun ("Green Light for Har Sinai," March 24), and others who misunderstand why many oppose Har Sinai's move to Walnut Avenue, have suggested that the synagogue's future neighbors do not want the dump on the Har Sinai property cleaned up.

We are raising children adjacent to this property, drinking well water that runs off the Har Sinai land. Now we find that Har Sinai's property contains 30 hazardous materials, some of them carcinogens, many at levels above what the EPA considers safe. Could you believe that we do not want this property cleaned up?

But "cleanup" can mean many things. Conforming to the highest safety standards requires a detailed plan and expert supervision. A cleanup done incorrectly would cause further leaching of dangerous materials into our ground water.

Of course we all want the Har Sinai property cleaned up. We hope that Har Sinai will do a thorough job under expert supervision, for their safety and for ours.

But until such a process is undertaken and completed, which may take years, we remain cautious.

Irwin Waranch, Owings Mills

The Sun's editorial "Green light for Har Sinai" supported the proposed Walnut Avenue synagogue and day care center. However, day care centers are not allowed in areas zoned RC 5, such as the Walnut Avenue site, and Har Sinai's proposal would make its facility the largest day care center in Baltimore County.

Day care centers are not the usual function of a synagogue. I am not aware of any other synagogue in the Baltimore area that has a day care center for infants. Such day care has nothing to do with religious education.

The idea that a day care center for 120 children should be built in the middle of a residential area zoned for rural conservation is absurd. A community-based place of worship is one thing; however, a 62,000-square-foot complex, including functions totally irrelevant to worship or religious education, is quite another.

Marc Hess, Owings Mills

Defending the integrity of Hospice Network

It was disappointing to read in The Sun's coverage of Maryland's assisted suicide legislation ("Legislation to prohibit suicide gets OK from House judiciary panel," March 17) the suggestion that the hospice organizations that support the bill are doing so out of a desire for profit.

The Hospice Network of Maryland has always been a nonprofit organization whose mission is to improve end-of-life care for dying patients and their families. Many of our hospices are all-volunteer agencies. As president of this network, I receive no salary, and I do not accept reimbursement for patients I see who are dying at home or in a hospice facility.

To mischaracterize the motivations of hospice as anything but altruistic is not only unfortunate, but irresponsible and deplorable. I have worked in a variety of health care settings and can think of none with more integrity, compassion and dedication than hospice.

Anyone who reads the state's legislation to ban assisted suicide will see that this legislation was carefully crafted both to foster appropriate symptom and pain management and to protect the health care providers who provide comfort and dignity for their patients.

Dr. F. Michael Gloth III, Millersville

The writer is president of the Hospice Network of Maryland.

Testimony revealed flaws in drunken driving bill

Your March 23 editorial "What does drunken mean?" was factually false. I explained nothing to Dr. Levine, the state's chief toxicologist, when he testified before the House Judiciary Committee recently in support of a proposal pertaining to Maryland laws on drunken driving known as the "0.08 bill."

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