Private colleges aren't beyond the reach of middle-class...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

January 20, 2002

Private colleges aren't beyond the reach of middle-class families

Far from improving access to college, the Lumina Foundation's report Unequal Opportunity could well have the opposite effect - by leading middle- and lower-income families to believe college is out of reach and that independent colleges and universities are particularly unaffordable ("High college costs noted," Jan. 8).

Nothing could be further from the truth. Independent institutions nationwide are doing a great deal, through student aid and a variety of academic and personal support programs, to ensure that students not only enter college but complete their degrees.

Private institutions enroll less than one-quarter of all undergraduates but account for nearly one-third of graduates, and attrition rates are higher at public institutions than private ones at every level of institutional affluence and selectivity.

Many private institutions are more than ready to serve more median- and low-income students, if state governments provide appropriate student financial aid or establish a more level playing field through their tuition policies at public institutions. Yet state policymakers continue to allow large institutions with dismal attrition rates to grow even larger.

Meanwhile, such considerations as the advantage of filling underutilized capacity at private institutions at only marginal cost to the state and the absence of any burden to the taxpayer, should have led the report's authors to put forward a much wider range of policy recommendations.

Richard Ekman

Washington

The writer is president of the Council of Independent Colleges.

Finding college a new name isn't best use of its funds

Western Maryland College is going to spend $200,000 to develop a new name ("College aims name in a new direction," Jan. 12).

The last time money was spent for this purpose was when the University of Maryland System spent thousands to wind up with a change in the order of college names, adding some commas. Definitely, money well spent.

I am happy to say I am not an alumnus of Western Maryland College. But if I were, I would strongly recommend the college present this challenge to its students, teachers, alumni and the surrounding community, who have more of a stake in finding an appropriate name for the college. I would also suggest that the prize be a four-year scholarship to the college for the winner.

This would definitely cost far less than $200,000 and might result in the use of the college's funds for higher education - the school's mission and reason for being.

Charles Herr

Baltimore

Keeping kids out of prison should be the real goal

It is far more important to direct our attention and resources to preventing youth from entering the juvenile justice system than to bicker over the number allowed to be housed at a detention center ("Md. says teen jail incidents far higher," Jan. 15). And monitoring these sites is not as critical as eliminating them.

This conflict appears to be over form, when it needs to be over substance.

Deborah Tolson

Columbia

If detention centers close, schools will only get worse

When the [state's juvenile justice] institutions are downsized, the plan as I understand it is to arrange for services within the community. This includes sending the former inmates back to city schools.

Imagine Northern High School with these young folks added to the already-volatile mix.

M. Angela Callahan

Baltimore

Bridge raid during Civil War left local farmers in the lurch

The Sun's article about the opening of a museum in the federal courthouse in Baltimore referred to John Merryman, who is accused of burning a railroad bridge in Parkton to delay Union troops from reaching Washington ("Museum will focus on legal history," Jan. 14). Another Marylander, Harry Gilmor, led the raid on the bridge.

Gilmor remains a hero of the Confederate cause. However, Gilmor and Merryman likely were no heroes to their Parkton neighbors. They were small farmers and staunch Unionists, who relied on the railroad to get their farm products to Baltimore markets. The burning of the bridge created a financial hardship for them.

Responding to President Lincoln's call for volunteers, many of them, including my ancestor, Alfred S. Cooper, joined Maryland's 9th Reg. Union infantry. Ironically, Lt. Cooper's company was captured in a skirmish with Gilmor's cavalry.

Lt. Cooper was eventually paroled from Libbey Prison. Others died as a result of their imprisonment.

Jean K. Belt

Hampstead

Spiteful redistricting plan offers opportunity to GOP

Gov. Parris N. Glendening has done it again as he rides off into the sunset. His shallow and spiteful way of dealing with those who do not agree with him was never more evident than in the recent redistricting plan. This is his way of rewarding the loyal citizens of Dundalk, not to mention state Sen. Clarence M. Mitchell IV.

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