Kinship care bill ensures schooling of displaced kids...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

March 06, 2001

Kinship care bill ensures schooling of displaced kids

The Sun's article "Bill would case limits on choice of school" (Feb. 15) raised objections to a bill before the Maryland Senate that provides a mechanism for grandparents and other kin responsible for the care of children to obtain health care and school enrollment for those children.

The objections were that families might "shop for schools"; that children might attend classes in a jurisdiction other than where their parents are paying taxes; and that people other than kin might attempt to enroll children in schools.

But what is unethical or inappropriate in trying to obtain the best public education possible? When circumstances require a child to attend school where his or her grandparent lives, doesn't the county collect taxes from that grandparent?

Children need to be in school and all communities should make sure any child who reaches their school door gets the best education possible.

If a juvenile is involved in a legal infraction outside his or her county of residence, the local law enforcement agency does not refuse to apprehend the youth. In fact, such agencies have mutual assistance agreements across county lines.

Why can't schools have a similar obligation to ensure all children within their jurisdiction are appropriately served?

Dr. Melvin Stern

Baltimore

The writer is legislative chair for the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The Sun's recent coverage of a Senate bill concerning kinship care arrangements erroneously implied that the rationale for the bill is school choice. The legislation really guarantees the continuity of education for children who, because of family hardships, are reared by relatives other than their biological parents.

These children should not be denied education because of the addiction, illness or incarceration of their parents.

The bill would allow state money to follow these children from the school districts they formerly resided in to the districts where relatives are rearing them. The Maryland State Department of Education would make up any added cost of sending the child to the new district.

The relatives rearing these children would be required to sign an affidavit, under penalty of perjury, attesting that they have physical custody of the children involved and specifying the legally recognized family hardships which are the basis for the living arrangement.

Within 30 days of ending any kinship care arrangement, the caregivers would have to notify the school district where the children had been receiving services.

Delores G. Kelly

Annapolis

The writer represents the 10th District in the Maryland Senate.

How can children learn without proper textbooks?

I am certainly no expert on education, but I do know one thing: a critical element in education is current textbooks, for each subject, for each student ("Public schools use old textbooks, too," letters, Feb. 20). The question must be asked: "With all the billions spent on education, why hasn't someone thought of textbooks?"

How can we expect our children to learn without the most basic of tools, the current textbook on the subject?

We should demand that the billions being prepared to be thrown at our education system be thrown first at the lack of textbooks.

More important, we must look at our so-called education experts, and ask how they could miss so obvious a deficiency.

Robert L. DiStefano

Abingdon

Has Gov. Glendening really cut state taxes?

The Sun quoted our illustrious governor saying "We support tax cuts. We've done it in Maryland" ("Governors see two sides of tax cut," Feb. 25).

What an outrageous statement. This state's tax burden is tremendous, while spending is out of control. This governor never met a tax he doesn't like and now the state wants me to give it another $5 to take my grandchildren crabbing.

This state has a huge and growing surplus. That surplus belongs to the citizens, not the governor. It should be returned to the citizens with a tax cut.

Tom Endler

Linthicum Heights

I have lived in Maryland for 10 years and read extensively about state, local and federal government activity.

But I seem to have missed reading about the 28 taxes Gov. Parris N. Glendening said in The Sun he had reduced or eliminated ("Glendening takes lead on tax cut criticism," Feb. 27).

Please list these taxes for us.

Robert Curtis

Bel Air

Justice system worked when Swisher was top prosecutor

There was no breakdown in the justice system when William Swisher was Baltimore City State's Attorney. He had one of the finest staff's ever assembled, with no complaints of withholding evidence or extensive backlogs.

The office has not been the same since.

William T. S. Bricker

Towson

The writer is a former assistant state's attorney and assistant attorney general.

Commitment to community enhances journalist's stature

The subhead to David Folkenflik's article "Citizen Jayne" (Feb. 25) states: "Baltimore's best TV journalist believes she can balance her on-air reporting and her off-camera activism. But should she?"

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