Prevailing wage doesnt increase school costs Several...

LETTERS

February 20, 2000

Prevailing wage doesnt increase school costs

Several recent academic studies have shown that prevailing wage laws do not have a negative financial impact.

Three papers by Peter Philips of the University of Utah and Mark Prus, SUNY Cortland, specifically analyzing school construction costs, concluded that prevailing wages do not increase these costs.

Dr. Philips studied school construction costs in Michigan, with and without prevailing wage legislation. His March 1999 paper found no statistically significant difference in school construction costs when prevailing wage was suspended. Prevailing wage laws promote collective bargaining and apprenticeship training and may consequently lower public construction costs.

Dr. Prus January 1999 analysis of public school construction inMaryland and the mid-Atlantic states found no statistically significant difference in costs associated with prevailing wage regulations.

Additional studies have found negative impacts on government budgets when prevailing wage laws are not applied, due to lower quality workmanship and lost tax revenues.

Where existing prevailing wage laws have been repealed, tax revenue losses exceeded the small wage savings resulting from the action, and the states experienced a net deficit.

Additionally, without prevailing wage, results include higher injury rates, declining apprenticeship training and reduced minority access to training.

Prevailing wages increase tax revenues, and in turn, provide the resources communities can use for enhancing public education.

Valerie E. Costantini

Elkridge

The writer is chairperson and professor of arts and humanities at Howard County Community College.

Helping to strengthen schools should be goal

School equality should be based on more than just MSPAP scores and building infrastructure. We must develop a comprehensive set of quality standards that include academics, parent involvement, school diversity, adequate resources, special education and after-school programs.

We must raise the achievement outcomes at all schools so that our neighborhood schools will be the schools of choice.

We need new ways of sustaining schools, teachers, administrators, families, and students. In other words, we need to support Howard Countys communities.

In order to realize the change that is needed in our schools, we must have accountability from the top down.

Not only will Howard County have a changed school board, it will also have a new superintendent. From the central office to the classroom, all school system staff must be accountable for each and every childs progress.

However, the responsibility of reinvigorating our communities and raising academic achievement of our children does not rest solely with the Board of Education.

The Board of Education must exercise its leadership and work with school improvement teams, PTAs, community organizations, as well as local, state, and national officials to strengthen parent and community involvement and to develop new andinnovative strategies to support all of our students.

A caring community doesnt just happen -- involved people with good ideas make it happen. All children can learn.

Daniel M. Dotson

Columbia

Public funds for public schools

Recent articles in The Sun have described efforts in Maryland to convince Gov. Parris Glendening to provide financial assistance to non-public schools. Using public funds to finance private schools is bad public policy for a number of reasons.

Throughout Maryland teachers in public schools lack the resources to adequately provide for all of their students.

More and more students spend their school day in portable classrooms or overcrowded buildings. Replacement cycles for textbooks have been extended and more teachers use texts that are outdated or in poor condition.

As budgets for supplies and classroom materials are reduced, teachers spend more of their own money for materials even as salary increases have been minimal.

There are simply too many unmet needs in Marylands public schools to use public funds for private schools.

In poor jurisdictions such aid will only widen the gap between the resources available to private schools and their public counterparts.

It is ironic that public aid to private schools is being considered at this time.

Public schools are being held to higher standards of performance and our teachers are being asked to demonstrate increased skills and pay for additional college course -- private schools are subject to neither type of accountability.

Public schools must admit and teach all students, it is inconceivable that the state of Maryland consider supporting schools that by their very nature limit access and enrollment.

We all realize that good economic times make more tax dollars available to support education today.

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