Aiding private schools need not undermine the public...


April 17, 2000

Aiding private schools need not undermine the public ones . . .

The editorial "State aid should go to public schools first" (March 27) revealed a narrow focus that has all too often guided The Sun's comments on education.

Clearly, the $6 million which the governor and others seek to award to non-public schools is not a subsidy to private and parochial schools. Rather the award recognizes a long-felt need that cries out to be met, in the name of fair treatment.

Where would The Sun have the $6 million go? Would it be better spent increasing the public education bureaucracy?

Why not invest editorial energy asking the more pivotal questions regarding public education? For example, why is it that a child in Baltimore City has thousands of dollars less spent on his or her education than a child in the same grade in Montgomery or Howard County?

Wouldn't the legislature spend its energy more wisely solving that justice issue?

Private and parochial schools need a sound and effective public school system to insure they do not simply become receptacles for dissatisfied parents and students. While we share some educational goals, our mission is totally separate and distinct from that of the public system.

Maryland's priorities should be placed squarely with all the young men and women who are educated in the state. Those in private and parochial schools need no penalty for making that choice.

Their parents need all the financial help they can get.

Barry J. Fitzpatrick, Baltimore

The writer is principal of Mount Saint Joseph High School .

I am surprised to find so many readers writing to complain about the $6 million the state plans to use to buy textbooks for private and parochial schools on the grounds that the money is being diverted from the public school system ("Should state funds purchase textbooks for private schools," letters April 2).

Since the state has about a $1 billion budget surplus, the money is not being diverted from any other sector.

The state still has about $994 million in surplus available to provide additional help to the public school system.

Frank B. Cahn, Baltimore

. . . but state can't choose which schools deserve aid

I am amazed. I did not agree with public monies being provided to private schools. I disagree even more with the fact that now only the "most needy" private schools will receive those funds ("State to limit $6 million textbook aid," April 2).

What about the children who attend the "expensive" private schools on scholarships or at great cost to their family's financial well-being?

It sounds very bureaucratic to now be picking and choosing which private schools are deserving of public funds.

I can't wait for the first challenge in the courts.

Marianne Berger,Owings Mills

Failure to report gun gaffe helped gun-lock bill pass . . .

The Sun's editorial "Maryland takes a step toward safer gun use" (April 6) praised Gov. Parris N. Glendening and leaders of the state Senate and House of Delegates, but it left out some of the most effective members of the team that worked to get the gun-lock bill through the state legislature.

Those team members were the area's television news producers and The Sun.

If there had been timely reports on the press conference where the governor fumbled with the gun lock the day before the Senate vote, maybe some senators would have been less susceptible to the bullying and bribery that was used to get the votes to move the bill to the House, where more bullying and bribery went on.

If the news media had not buried this news until after it was announced that the National Rifle Association would be paying to put this information before the public, the outcome of the vote might have been different.

David A. Titus, Baltimore

. . . but more restrictions won't save more lives

Tokens for cigarette machines will no more stop minors from purchasing cigarettes from vending machines than internal gun locks will reduce crime or stop suicide by firearms ("Tobacco sale prohibition likely to pass," April 8).

Minors who want cigarettes will buy tokens from others, who will sell the tokens at a profit, and people who are bent on committing suicide will drive their cars into bridge abutments.

This is "feel good" legislation that will accomplish nothing.

Enforcing existing laws will do more to prevent minors from purchasing cigarettes and stop more crime than this current crop of nonsense.

E. David Silverberg, Towson

Gore exploited loophole in state's fund-raising laws

In the article, "In Annapolis, Gore raises $600,000 for Democrats" (April 6), The Sun observed that Al Gore's aggressive solicitations for donations in the 1996 campaign are a sensitive subject. The article explains that "Gore has positioned himself this year as an advocate for campaign finance reform who has learned from his mistakes."

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