Howard schools should protect computer courseDuring the...

Letters

April 18, 1999

Howard schools should protect computer course

During the 1999-2000 school year, Howard County will be denying children who are intersted in math and science the opportunity to attend a higher-level computer course.

The course is titled Computer Science III AP.

The reason this occurred was "budgetary" constraints. But if I understand the course concept, it makes a lot of economic sense to me.

This course was going to be taught at a Howard County high school during the evening and all the other high school students in the county would attend the one course.

In this wealthy county that spends a lot of time and money on Maryland School Performance Assessment Program and achievement scores, officials are forgetting the high school student who is trying to excel in her educational career. When it counts for college placement, Howard County is falling short on its commitment to teach higher-level curriculum courses.

Howard County needs to spend more time and money on the children who want to succeed and are not in special programs such as the Tech Magnet.

With the national media highlighting the difficulty of females to get the necessary education in the sciences, why does Howard County want to be known as the school system that denies children the right and opportunity to excel in math, science and especially computer science.

Andrew I. Wolkstein

Ellicott City

Maryland's tax math nightmare

The preparation of Maryland individual tax returns has suddenly become a lot more burdensome.

The other evening as I was filling out my Form 502 and merrily transcribing figures from my Federal 1040, I suddenly came across a group of lines on page 2 that had never been there before.

Those lines get you from the "Adjusted Maryland Tax" to the "Total Maryland Local Tax," 12 lines in all, plus three new worksheets to be worked through. Last year, there were four lines and no worksheets.

The cause of this added complexity is a whopping 1/8 of 1 percent cut granted by the state in 1998 from the former 5 percent top tax rate.

However, most of the counties were unwilling to take any reduction in their piggyback tax income.

The Maryland General Assembly succumbed to the counties and as a solution devised an insane mathematical nightmare whereby on Form 502 one must calculate a fictitious "Local Taxable Net Income," which is slightly higher than the real "Taxable Net Income."

The county piggyback tax is then based on this figure.

Perhaps the General Assembly is trying to keep up with Congress, which last year imposed an equally annoying jump in complexity in figuring the federal tax on Schedule D.

I am incensed by this needless and ridiculous complication that has been placed upon Maryland taxpayers.

I am sure that this is driving many average citizens who previously did just fine in preparing their tax forms by hand to seek the assistance of professional preparers, to purchase computer software, or, at least, to tear out their hair.

George Stiegler

Columbia

Out to lunch on `The Out-of-Towners'

Normally, the opinion of movie critics need not be addressed. However, Ann Hornaday's recent critique of the performers in "The-Out-of-Towners" deserves comment.

She stated (and I am paraphrasing) that even the performances of Steve Martin and Goldie Hawn could not make this a worthwhile movie.

Their performances could, and did, make the movie worthwhile.

Last weekend in a packed theater nearly everyone, both young and old, were constantly laughing during this movie.

It takes far more than funny lines to have a successful comedy.

Both of these performers, using their skillful timing and body language turned what would have been a disastrous film into an enjoyable one to watch.

Ms. Hornaday, who usually deserves at least two stars for her critiques, earns less than one star for this one.

Ronald W. Farabee

Columbia

With trees and hawks, who needs ballfields?

Howard County Recreation and Parks needs to learn what a park is. There is a wonderful little tract of land in the overdeveloped eastern part of Howard County with rolling meadows, groves of trees, wetlands and a stream, where red tail hawks, Canada goose, blue birds, egrets, foxes and deer live.

Yes, at the moment the name Meadowbrook Park is very appropriate, but if Howard County puts in its proposed Meadowbrook Park Sports Complex, the word "park" will no longer apply. The meadow, the brook and the park will only be names. A park is a tract of land kept in its natural state. There is nothing natural about a major multi-sports facility with four lighted ball fields, two basketball courts, tennis courts, a roller/hockey rink, public restrooms and a 300-car parking lot.

Why doesn't Howard County know this? By the time it learns, it will be too late.

Mark Praetorius

Ellicott City

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