Inadequate funding drives parents to raise funds for...

October 08, 1999

Inadequate funding drives parents to raise funds for schools

The Sun's article "PTAs may contribute to school disparities" (Sept. 20) explained a great deal about fund-raising efforts by local PTAs. But it never answered the key question: Why do local PTAs try to raise so much money?

Sure, individuals quoted in the article said they wanted to improve their children's schools, but why is this necessary? Because the schools in Maryland (and Harford County in particular) are grossly underfunded.

It really isn't much fun to do fund-raisers -- parents and children could do much better things with their time -- but the county, state and federal government have decided that crumbling, overcrowded schools and peanut pay for teachers are OK.

Many parents feel it's easier to raise $25,000 or $50,000 for their local school than advocate adequate funding for the entire jurisdiction.

State and national PTA organizations preach against this at every opportunity, but lobbying is not easy work. Results from advocacy take a long time -- and parents sometimes feel they cannot wait.

I do not agree with raising big bucks locally, but given the attitude of our elected officials, it's hard to argue against the parents who do that -- it's for their children.

But if we are to reduce disparities among schools, we need to fund schools at a level that most parents find adequate.

This would help more children to successfully ride the sometimes bumpy road through school and benefit all of society.

Mark Wolkow, Abingdon

The writer is a former vice president of the Harford County Council of PTAs and a member of the state PTA's legislative team.

An ordered environment enables children to learn

Dennis Baron's column "Mandatory manners construct a prison for young minds" (Opinion Commentary, Sept. 28) is far off base about the Louisiana school "politeness laws."

Most children want order. They want adults to be in control. They want to know that fair rules are fairly enforced.

They are frightened and disturbed when other children get away with unruly or rude behavior. They lose faith in adults who will not take charge.

My two older children suffered through a middle school in which lax leadership had allowed a disorderly environment. When a new principal arrived and enforced stricter rules, a new climate of order appeared in the school -- and my children breathed a sigh of great relief.

Our schools went down the wrong path when they developed the notion that teachers must earn students' respect.

This often means teachers must walk into a chaotic classroom -- in which students are talking and moving about -- and, by the force of their personality, create enough order to teach a lesson.

Is it any wonder why, with such conditions, we face a shortage of teachers?

No one should have to "earn" respect; it should be given automatically. Only when that respect is betrayed should corrective action be taken.

Elizabeth Fixsen, Savage

Please assure me that Dennis Baron's column was pure satire. Mr. Baron can't be serious when he suggests that "more rules and making schools more rigid won't make students more manageable."

Training any living thing requires control and orientation. It would be unnatural for children to be different.

We must fit the students to the society -- not re-fashion society to fit students.

Bill Newhall, Baltimore

Tufaro's voucher proposal would hurt public schools

David Tufaro's proposal to provide school vouchers is simply another Republican endeavor to stir up the pious ("Tufaro proposes plan to reform city schools," Sept. 22).

The voucher system would sap money from the public schools, promote racism and erode the wall of separation between church and state.

Tony Buechner, Baltimore

It's not the parents who create sports frenzy

As a mother of three who has attended hundreds of soccer matches, basketball and baseball games and swim meets, I felt compelled to respond to The Sun's article about spectator sportsmanship for Little League and recreation council sports ("Leagues blow the whistle on competitive parents," Oct. 3).

In a country where a mediocre professional athlete earns more than our president, where high school and college athletes follow different rules than non-athletes, I think addressing parental fan habits is laughable.

Our adoration and compensation of athletes is the beginning of this unhealthy frenzy of competition.

To stop the screaming from the sidelines, start paying top educators and police officers what top athletes earn and stop awarding scholarships for athletics.

I'll be on the soccer field Saturday supporting my son, but it's only a game.

Terri L. Forand, Baltimore

The Eastern Orthodox are also `Plugged In'

The Sun's Plugged In section article "Faith: the religious take their message to the masses with the Internet's help" (Sept. 27) was very informative.

But I was disappointed that it didn't mention one of the largest Christian denominations in the world, the Eastern Orthodox Church.

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