Shorting public schools I read with utter disgust that...

SATURDAY MAILBOX

April 08, 2000

Shorting public schools

I read with utter disgust that the state House and Senate passed bills granting $6 million in state funding to private schools to purchase books ("Aid to private schools passes on close vote," March 24).

I have two children, an 11-year-old daughter and a 6-year-old son. My daughter attends Edgewood Middle School, a Harford County public school, and my son attends Harford Day School, a private school.

My daughter has a math book that is more than five years old.

She doesn't have any other textbooks that she can use outside of school because the school does not have enough books for each student.

She only gets homework in math; other teachers have told us that since students can't take the other books home (because there are not enough to go around), they don't give homework.

In my six-year experience with the public schools, I have seen this book shortage; closets that are used as classrooms; art and music teachers who must teach from carts because there isn't enough classroom space and teachers who must spend their own funds on classroom supplies because there isn't enough money for suitable supplies

I've also seen teachers who take second jobs because their teaching salary does not provide sufficient support for their families, inadequate and out-of-date technology and numerous other instances where it is painfully clear that our public school system does not have adequate funding.

How can the state begin to think about subsidizing private schools when it does not provide enough financial support for its primary responsibility, the public schools?

Is this an attempt to buy votes from those who use private education? It clearly is not in the best interest of most Maryland citizens.

I chose private school for my son because I felt it was the best opportunity for him.

In making this decision, I chose to pay for his tuition.

I knew that the state was not providing any aid and the public school system was available at no cost to me.

I knew that, although I was paying private school tuition, my tax dollars would support the public school system.

I knew all of this and I still chose to pay for private school.

As a private school parent, I do not want the state's money.

As a public school parent (and a concerned citizen), I do want public schools adequately funded.

The money must go to the public school system, where it is so desperately needed.

Gerard M. Lindner

Bel Air

Knitting never goes out of style

As an avid knitter, I was disappointed to read Maria Blackburn's commentary on knitting ("To knit or not to knit," April 2).

As a knit shop employee, I was incensed.

Knitting is a hobby, like collecting stamps or woodworking. Many hobbies are not glamorous, but offer those involved a sense of accomplishment and enjoyment.

No one knits to be glamorous. People knit because it is a relaxing, fulfilling activity.

It can be therapeutic as well: Some knitters knit to get through rough times such as family illnesses.

Knitting can be as inexpensive or expensive as one wants it to be.

Many options are available to the person who just wants to try it out for a nominal cost, or who is interested in producing a piece of artistic fashion he or she can't possibly find in our cookie-cutter department stores.

True knitters are never at a loss for projects. We always need clothes and an avid knitter can't be bothered making household accessories when he or she could be making a beautiful sweater.

I take my knitting everywhere. It is a wonderful way to pass the enormous amounts of empty time we all spend in doctor's offices, car pool lines and commutes.

Knitting is no longer the hobby of gray-haired grannies in rocking chairs. Young professional women are finding it a great source of stress reduction.

I am disappointed that The Sun chose to present such a negative view of an age-old craft, while distinguished papers such as the New York Times and Washington Post have recently had full-page spreads extolling the benefits of knitting and plugging local yarn shops.

Now that Ms. Blackburn has probably put me out of work, I guess I'll have to move to one of the cities where local papers support their local businesses.

Mara Lloyd

Glyndon

Demeaning view of museum lions

In response to Arthur Hirsch's column on the lions of the Baltimore Museum of Art ("A proud, sad symbol," March 19) I note that those lions, in their majesty, have stood symbolic guard over the museum's entrance and reputation for more than 70 years.

I suggest that to visitors and Baltimoreans alike, the lions are as much a part of the museum and its history as any exhibit or artifact ever housed within its walls. They stand today, as they did in the 1930s, as fitting additions to the original design of the building.

To condemn them now as relics of an era of oppression and sin dismisses both history and truth. Such reckless disregard for the past ill-becomes those whose task includes the preservation of our past -- be it art or architecture.

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