Balto. Co.'s funding for special education makes...


April 23, 2001

Balto. Co.'s funding for special education makes activists proud

The Sun reported that parents are "relieved" at Baltimore County Executive C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger's announcement of a proposed $5 million increase in special education funding ("Special education teachers funded," April 12). We are not "relieved"; we are ecstatic.

All children in the Baltimore County Public Schools benefit when the schools have the resources they need to support kids with disabilities.

And in the face of a decade of stagnant state level funding for special education, and federal funding that has failed to keep pace with increasing student needs, Mr. Ruppersberger has once again stepped to the plate to support our kids.

But the story The Sun failed to report is about the remarkable, rigorous and participatory public process thorough which this proposed funding increase was developed.

A coalition of parents who are committed to public education advocated and educated school and government officials about the needs of kids with disabilities.

Superintendent Joe A. Hairston and his staff met repeatedly with parents and prepared a visionary budget that linked dollars requested to specific goals.

The county executive and his staff met repeatedly with parents, scrutinized that budget and made the schools justify every nickel they sought.

This is textbook good government. We were proud to be a part of it.

Teresa K. LaMaster


The writer chairs the Citizens Advisory Committee for Special Education.

Schools that hand-pick kids shouldn't receive public funds

I, too, was amused by the letters from private school parents who resent the implication they are shielding their children from "undesirables" in public schools ("Some parents seek to avoid the poor and disadvantaged," letters, April 11). Who are they kidding?

As a former public school teacher, I recall many new students trickling into my classroom throughout the year, following their removal from nearby private schools.

It was my job to address the problems which had rendered them undesirable and bring them up to speed in my subject area at mid-year -- without neglecting their 35 heterogeneous classmates.

These "undesirables" frequently require substantial resources. But public schools by law must educate all children, including those private schools reject.

I oppose the use of my tax dollars by schools allowed to hand-pick students based on selective criteria.

When private schools begin accepting the same challenges confronting public schools and open their doors to all, I will support their use of my dollars as well.

Sharon Crain


Vouchers enable parents to sustain their values

In response to a letter titled "Reimer was right about the priority of public schools" (April 11), I'd note that I am deeply offended that my tax money will go, in most instances, toward liberal, secular indoctrination that differs from my Christian, conservative beliefs.

I call it unfair when my tax money is used to promote socialism, premarital sex, oral sex, mediocrity, divisive multiculturalism, the new world order, complacency and equality of output.

So neither the letter writer nor I am further offended, how about a 100 percent school voucher program so all parents can have their children educated in an environment they don't consider offensive?

Dick Tatlow


Coverage of videotape issue shows respect and sensitivity

A newspaper always has its share of critics, and The Sun is no exception. But The Sun's coverage of the recent challenges facing St. Paul's School has sensitively and accurately handled the difficult issues facing students who made a mistake.

It was a mistake with moral dimensions, and the reporting of the situation has been balanced, thoughtful and respectful of the privacy issues involved.

Tim Baker's column "St. Paul's School sets good example as a moral leader" (Opinion

Commentary, April 11) captured the way an institution, particularly one that teaches young people, should conduct itself in a difficult situation.

And columnists Dan Rodricks and Gregory Kane were at their very best.

As a former president of the St. Paul's School board of trustees and a parent of two sons who graduated from the school, I am proud of both the school and The Sun.

George S. Wills


Legislature did act to protect animals from terrible cruelty

I was very surprised that the legislative scorecard printed in The Sun stated that most animal-related bills died in this year's legislative session, with the bill to name the calico cat the state cat referred to as the lone survivor ("Death penalty bill fails in last hours of session," April 10).

In fact, an extremely important bill, which makes egregious cruelty to animals (such as torture, wounding a police animal in the line of duty, or dogfighting) a felony, passed the legislature with no dissenting votes on April 6.

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