Misdirected aid, offensive remarks hurt public schools...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

March 31, 2000

Misdirected aid, offensive remarks hurt public schools

I am really disappointed that our legislators voted to provide $6 million for textbooks for private schools ("Aid to private schools passes on close vote," March 24).

Private schools are selective institutions with no accountability to the state for student achievement or teacher competency.

Parents choose to send children to private schools. Private schools choose which students they will educate, sending their "castoffs" to public schools.

One quote in The Sun's article was a real slap in the face.

Del. Joseph F. Vallario Jr. , a Prince George's County Democrat, said of the aid to state private schools, "It is saying thank you for helping educate our children. They [private schools] are putting out good citizens for us, the citizens that are not in jail, that are not going to give us trouble, that are going to do the right thing."

This implies that all the bad citizens, the citizens who are in jail, who give us trouble and do the wrong thing are coming from the public schools.

What an offensive and outrageous message to the citizens who attend or have attended public schools.

Meg O'Hare, Baltimore

The writer is president of the Parent-Teacher-Student Association at Parkville High School.

Shame on Del. Joseph F. Vallario Jr. for his insensitive and prejudiced statements on aid to private schools.

I am a Catholic parent of five children who have completed or are still receiving a public school education.

None of them is in jail or gives people trouble and all of them do the right things.

They are considerate and respectful of others and keenly aware of the difference between right and wrong. They did not need private school to teach them these values.

Just as there are many, many good children in public schools, I am positive you could easily find many, many not-so-perfect students in any private school in Maryland.

Mr. Vallario's remarks offend the majority of f the public school population. He needs to think before he speaks in the future, and keep his biased opinions to himself.

Mary Lynn Antonelli, Parkville

Del. Joseph F. Vallario is quoted as saying that funding for private schools is essentially a "thank you for helping to educate our children."

How about thanking the public school teachers? I'm sure $6 million would be greatly appreciated by these hardworking, dedicated teachers.

Instead of paying private schools to educate our children, how about living up to the Democratic party's campaign promises and improving the public schools?

Stephanie M. Stull, Mount Airy

What's more important than public education?

How can the House of Delegates pass a bill approving $6 million in public resources for private schools that should be raising their own money? Isn't that what "private" means?

Parents choose to send their students to private schools -- no one forces this decision on them.

Many parents cannot make that choice even if they desired to because they cannot afford it, and therefore have only the public institutions as the access for that precious right that we call public education.

Thus, it is only reasonable to expect that the needs of public institutions be fully met before the legislature steals from the public to give to those who choose to be private.

What can be more important than ensuring that the students who rely on public institutions receive the quality of education they deserve?

What can be more important than providing adequate resources for our public institutions to survive and compete in the current marketplace?

Jayne Maas, Baltimore

Dr. Helen Taussig belongs among state's great women

I read with interest the article "On the top shelf of Maryland Women" (Opinion Commentary, March 16) and was surprised at the omission of Dr. Helen Brooke Taussig.

Dr. Taussig was the original pediatric cardiologist and initiator of the "blue baby" operation, which has saved thousands possibly hundreds of thousands, lives all over the world since the 1940s.

And her humanitarian interests extended beyond her own specialty.

In the early 1960s, when birth defects began to appear in the offspring of European mothers who had taken the drug Thalidomide, she went to Germany to study the problem. She then promptly published warnings to help prevent a similar epidemic in the United States.

Dr. Taussig was also instrumental in passing federal legislation mandating the careful testing of pharmacological agents used during pregnancy.

She was the first woman to become a full professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and an early advocate of the use of computers in medicine.

Even after she could no longer actively assist in alleviating problems in the world, she did the only thing she could: She donated her body to Johns Hopkins.

Dr. Marion Friedman, Baltimore

Feminist expo excludes poor, blacks

The Feminist Majority Foundation is sponsoring "Feminist Expo 2000 for Women's Empowerment" at Baltimore's Convention Center, March 31-April 2.

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