Council members right to question county's budget I...

LETTERS

May 21, 2000

Council members right to question county's budget

I read with care about the conduct of some Anne Arundel County Council members in questioning and reviewing the county's budget ("Samorajczyk defends self on criticism," May 11).

I find the questioning good -- that is what the public expects of council members when they review the budget the county executive has presented.

The council members tell us that they are reviewing and justifying costs during the whole month of May.

But in truth they generally go through the telephone book-size budget quickly, with hardly any changes.

They will also say they can't add to anything except education items -- so the education lobby will spend the month demanding more money.

I wish educators would spell out just what is sufficient funding.

The principals' union wants more money to keep up with the raises given to new teachers. Just maybe higher salaries for teachers will make them want to stay in the classroom, rather than go into administration.

Also, I think $20 an hour for one-on-one home teaching is enough pay.

If the student is home because he or she is deemed too "bad" for school, the family should have to pay some costs -- not the taxpayers.

In fairness to principals, I feel they should be allowed to be away from school occasionally.

I do not think they need to be there when any minor event is scheduled.

As the council reviews the budget, I feel sorry for department heads.

They know best where and how to spend the money but must defer to the county executive and her budget, since they serve at her pleasure.

John J. Miara, Pasadena

Focus on MSPAP test shortchanges children

Every public school third -, fifth-and eighth grader in Maryland must take essay questions on the state's MSPAP tests. The tests are then sent somewhere to be subjectively graded by two "experts."

After grades are assigned, nobody seems to have any idea what happens to the test itself. The grades are sent to the school, the test is not returned.

Parents and teachers have no idea what their students did right or wrong.

State schools superintendent Nancy Grasmick wants more money for underperforming students. But the MSPAP tests, her pet project, put no emphasis on sentence structure, spelling, grammar or punctuation.

The teachers in this state spend so much time teaching to the MSPAP test that there is precious little time left for the truly important skills such as spelling, grammar and punctuation.

Our children are being cheated.

How can they make it in today's society if they can't write a simple sentence?

This seems to me to be a colossal waste of taxpayer money and our children's future.

Philip DeLizio, Crofton

Moms occupy both sides of the gun debate

Once again, The Sun has provided a one-sided account of a major event, The Million Mom march (" `Million Mom March' evokes power, pathos," May 15). Did The Sun not hear about the other mom's march, the Second Amendment Sisters' rally?

These sisters are the ones who favor a rational approach to gun control: Enforce the laws on the books.

Rational analysis has led most legislatures, including the U.S. Congress, to recognize that government has done about all it can do to prevent gun-related violence and that gun control is the responsibility of gun owners.

Now I find that there is no reason to get The Sun, because it only provides the side it wants me to see.

How sad for Maryland that The Sun is our only major paper.

Tim Wright, Pasadena

Liquor stores have some rights, too ...

First, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that the incidence of gonorrhea can be reduced by higher beer taxes.

Now we have Baltimore City Councilman Norman A. Handy's equally preposterous proposals to reduce crime by restricting liquor-sale outlets ("Cut alcohol, control crime," OpinionCommentary, May 16).

Disregard Handy's distortions of statistics and suggestion that a fictitious TV show produces crime and hampers economic development. Handy's proposal involves delegating permission for the presence of a legal -- albeit licensed -- business to the popular vote of its neighbors.

Perhaps a more expeditious move would be to relegate permission for the presence of individual citizens -- complete with good or bad habits and business practices -- to the vote of their neighbors.

In one swift vote, drunkards, addicts, drug dealers and loud musicians alike could be sent packing to other areas.

Unfortunately, such action would require suspension of the Bill of Rights.

I remind Handy of the failure of prohibition and of the "War on Drugs" and its utter failure to arrest the problems affecting tens of thousands of Baltimoreans and millions of Americans.

What about enforcing existing laws?

Alexander D. Mitchell IV, Glen Burnie

... and closing them wouldn't stop crime

The location of liquor outlets, whether they be few or plentiful, is not the key source of crime in communities.

The availability of treatment centers to address the needs of the population who abuse alcohol and drugs is much more important.

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