Private, religious schools shouldn't get state aid I...


January 02, 2000

Private, religious schools shouldn't get state aid

I was not amused to learn that, according to The Sun on Dec. 22, Gov. Parris N. Glendening is apparently considering providing state funds to private and religious schools in the form of computers, books or whatever.

Richard Dowling, Maryland Catholic Conference executive director, was quoted as saying the children who attend private and parochial schools deserve state help. But these children can get whatever help they deserve if they attend public schools.

Mr. Dowling's church schools deserve nothing from Maryland taxpayers. Unlike non-public schools, our public schools are open to all children and are governed by elected or appointed public officials.

If whatever the state of Maryland has for a budget surplus is burning a hole in anyone's pocket, it can well be used to ensure that all public schools in the state are equal and excellent.

Those parents who want their children to get some form of education, such as religion, not taught in our public schools should be responsible and pay their own self-assumed bills. They should not expect the rest of us to do it for them.

Suzanne Smith of the American Civil Liberties Union is absolutely right when she says that the "vast majority of private schools are religious schools. We'd end up, in fact, subsidizing religious education."

Some of us object mightily to that. One would think that the First Amendment's church-state separation principle should be understood by the governor, our state legislators or anyone else.

Kenneth A. Stevens, Savage

Importance of fathers is too often overlooked

Kathleen Parker, in her Opinion Commentary column, "We can't be stupid about at-risk kids," (Dec. 23) states that the absence of fathers in the home is the greatest predictor of poverty and a variety of other social maladies that put kids "at risk."

The value of fathers in families is an important point that is neglected all too often. Yet we still need to consider what role we want men to have in families. If we want men to stay in families, we must provide a meaningful role for fathers. Do we hitch them up to the harness of the traditional provider role, and then castigate them for being alienated from their families, insensitive, and too competitive? And do we then call it sexism when men earn more money than women? Or do we recognize that men, as individuals, bring a variety of talents and benefits to a family?

And can we allow the dynamics of male-female relationships to form a union that best suits the needs of the family?

We need to review social policies on employment, social services, divorce and child custody to promote the presence of fathers in families, and to recognize the value of men as something more than providers.

In the last 30 years, we have done much to change our expectations of women. Now we should re-examine what women expect from men. This will help us figure out what we are doing that results in so much fatherlessness.

Thanks to Kathleen Parker for raising this issue.

Doug Roth, Ellicott City

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