Small, local schools are the best choice for our children...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

April 27, 1999

Small, local schools are the best choice for our children

Reading Howard Libit's April 20 article "Closing underused schools," I was struck by the irony of the phrase "underused schools."

How fortunate the students of Bear Creek Elementary are to attend a school with only 520 pupils. With six grade levels, K-5, they have about 87 students per grade level, about 4 classes of 20-22 students each. Those students live within walking distance of the school and use the school property as community center and playground after hours.

If only all the schools in Baltimore County could be set up similarly. In the age of the megamall and superstore, the idea has developed that for a school to be good, it must be big. Unfortunately, schools sacrifice quality when attempting to educate higher numbers of students at a budget rate.

Why not return to the age of the neighborhood school?

My family lives in northwest Baltimore County. In this corridor that has been set aside for high-density development, we don't need a huge elementary school. Instead of building a mega-elementary school at Owings Mills New Town with five classrooms per grade level, how about a few smaller elementary schools, with two or three classrooms per grade, one at new town, one in Randallstown, and one here at Mount Wilson lane?

The properties have been reserved. Let's use them.

I think we should let public education focus on quality and keep the older schools. Neighborhoods need them, and are using them well to provide good educations to their children.

Also, let's build small new schools near new developments. Make the developers of these communities help finance these schools as part of the infrastructure of the community, just as they help put in roads and sidewalks.

Let our children walk to school.

Felice Borisy Rudin

Owings Mills

Suffering in death doesn't deprive us of dignity

I disagree with the April 20 letter ("Allow the dying to choose a decent end") in which Sherill Kuc argued that suicide or having a doctor end one's life is "death with dignity."

I understand some of her turmoil in watching a loved one die. My father died of of terminal cancer. My family's choice, however, and one we are proud of, was to care for him at home through his suffering.

This cannot be every family's choice, but it is certainly dignity in death in its highest form.

We were proud to have the chance to take care of a man who had always been there for us. It was a humbling experience for him and his pain was excruciating, but he refused morphine so he could be lucid to spend time with his family. It was an honor to say goodbye with dignity and love.

I understand that there are people who think it is their right to do this last thing, to take their own life. I do not share that opinion, but if you make that choice then that's your own responsibility.

But no one has the right to coerce or mandate that someone else take his or her life for them. It is an unjust request. Mandating that doctors help kill their patients violates, I believe, the reasons many of them went into medicine.

Saying that disfigurement or senseless suffering is a reason to put someone out of their misery strips us of our spiritual side. Suffering in and of itself is not evil. Life is precious. Suffering, disfigured life is equally precious.

I hope Gov. Parris N. Glendening signs the bill banning assisted suicide bill into law. "Death with dignity" does not include suicide or putting another to death to save you from watching or caring for that person.

Laura E. Albers

Sykesville

Patterson Park foundation can help pay school bills

On April 22, The Sun reported that 500 Baltimore children received scholarships from the Children's Scholarship Fund ("500 city pupils win education lottery"). I am writing to remind the 19,645 applicants who did not win scholarships of an important option.

The Patterson Park Community Development Corp. pays up to nine years of private school tuition for children of people who buy our renovated townhouses.

Children may attend any of the schools in the Southeast Baltimore Catholic Academy. Tuition is funded by the Abell Foundation.

Ed Rutkowski

Baltimore

The writer is executive director of the Patterson Park Community Development Corp.

Smaller City Council could improve Baltimore

The merits of your April 17 editorial ("Smaller is better") endorsing a smaller City Council for Baltimore are apparent when you compare the city's council with that of Baltimore County.

In the County, with a population 10 percent greater than Baltimore City's, we operate a seven-member County Council on a budget that is less than one-third of that of the City's 19-member council.

In Baltimore County we have no full-time council president; the chair instead rotates annually. Our council serves as the final fiscal authority, supplanting the role of the separate City Board of Estimates.

We also have no elected comptroller. That oversight function is performed by the Council's Office of the County Auditor.

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