Slots aren't the way to raise the revenues ailing...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

January 13, 2002

Slots aren't the way to raise the revenues ailing schools need

Michael Olesker's eloquent column about the need for slots at Maryland racetracks impresses us with the facts that other states are taking our gambling dollars and that the money is needed badly by our school system ("Bid for slots at racetracks faces long political odds," Jan. 6).

But he fails to mention where these magical new dollars will come from. Most will not be from trendy yuppies trying to enrich their dull lives. The money will come mainly from the working poor, and a large percentage will come from already impoverished minorities.

Yes, we are losing gambling revenue to nearby states. But many potential new gamblers are unable to travel out of town, at least on a regular basis. We may have additional school dollars, but they would come from those least able to afford it.

Our school systems are a mess, but funding them by encouraging gambling is a poor solution.

Del. Howard P. Rawlings is not the hero Mr. Olesker wants us to believe he is. Instead, he has fallen into the short-term-fix mentality that has already produced so many of society's problems.

Kenneth E. Iman

Baltimore

Education funding plan could push sales tax higher

Although the state budget has increased 50 percent during Gov. Parris N. Glendening's time in office, The Sun apparently advocates passing a new $1.1 billion program recommended by the Thornton Commission on education funding ("Money for some? Or money for all?" editorial, Jan. 5).

Surprisingly, the editorial makes no mention of what state programs should be cut or what taxes should be increased to realize $1.1 billion a year.

A two-cent increase in the state sales tax would be required to collect $1.1 billion. This increase would be paid by every Marylander, including the poor, every day.

And what person in his or her right mind would shop in Maryland with a 7 percent sales tax while neighboring Delaware has a zero percent sales tax?

Robin Ficker

Boyds

Unaccountable educators keep our schools in crisis

When reading a recent article on Northern High School, I focused on one sentence that tells a great deal: "Principal Betty Donaldson declined repeated requests to be interviewed for this article, and the school system has refused for the two months since the attack to allow reporters inside Northern during school hours" ("Students, teachers call Northern out of control," Jan. 9).

Ms. Donaldson is a public employee who should be responsible for her school, and answerable to the taxpayers and the press.

But like many educators, she does not feel bound by the same standards of conduct expected of the rest of us.

Educators offer excuses, not results: It's the parents' fault; it's the kids' fault; it's society's fault; they don't give us enough money.

Well, I say we've given them enough money. The problem isn't the school budget. The problem is that too many educators are like Ms. Donaldson.

Broughton Spence

Baltimore

As a citizen of Maryland and an educator, I am appalled by the conditions at Northern High School.

The city, and especially its African-American community, should demand that the Board of School Commissioners and the superintendent take immediate steps to close the school, assign the unruly students to some military-type school, then reopen the school for those students who wish to learn.

Joseph T. Durham

Silver Spring

The writer is president emeritus of the Community College of Baltimore.

Adults must reassert control over children

A recent front-page article about the chaos at Northern High School is frightening and appalling ("Students, teachers call Northern out of control," Jan. 9). The article a few days before about the adolescent mother of two who was shot and killed was frightening as well as tragic ("Teen mother killed in E. Baltimore," Jan. 5).

These reports are telling us, in no uncertain terms, that things are out of control, in Baltimore public schools and with some of our adolescents.

We need to do whatever it takes to restore order and civilized behavior in our society. One mark of a civilized society is how it cares for its children, and we aren't doing such a good job.

If parents are unable, for whatever reason, to discipline youngsters and demand civility, then we, as a community, must do it for them. Truly, it takes a village.

It's time adults took control. We, and the kids, will benefit.

Jeannette Ollodart Marx

Towson

Plan to cut fertilizer use could benefit farmers, bay

The letter "Using fertilizer enables farmers to feed the world" (Jan. 2) argues that reduced fertilizer applications would harm farmers' ability to feed the world.

In most years, however, a portion of the fertilizer applied is not utilized by crops because of weather conditions. In our region, the unused nutrients make their way into local streams and eventually into the Chesapeake Bay, causing damaging algae blooms and other pollution problems.

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