Racism is a factor in decision to depose Prince George's...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

March 01, 2002

Racism is a factor in decision to depose Prince George's board

Even if we grant all the allegations in The Sun's editorial "One step forward in Prince George's" (Feb. 16), deposing the Prince George's County school board and handing power to an appointed body still looks like substituting dictatorship for democracy, and that is unacceptable.

The Sun alleged that the school board bickers a lot. Has anyone read the history of the Continental Congress? It also alleged that the board has performed poorly. Harry Truman ran against a "do nothing" Congress, but that sturdy Democrat never dreamed of deposing them.

The Sun noted that the county's MSPAP scores are falling. But there is an inverse correlation between minority student density and test scores, and Prince George's has a rising minority population. And scores are falling statewide, not just in Prince George's County.

Local politicians are a pain in the posterior, frequently elected for all the wrong reasons. But they are elected. They are not to be deposed except at the ballot box.

Perhaps the most troubling aspect of this is that, one by one, elected school boards in jurisdictions with black majorities are being stripped of their power.

There is a not so subtle racism here, an undercurrent of lack of faith in the ability of black citizens to govern themselves. I would not expect The Sun to countenance such racism, much less champion it.

John Culleton

Eldersburg

Continue state funding of books for private schools

As a mother of five children who attend Catholic schools, I am very distressed at the idea of taking away $5 million in funding for school textbooks ("Keeping $5 million on the books," Feb. 25). I don't want my children being penalized because we decide to give them an education that Catholic schools can provide.

Many feel that subsidizing textbooks for private schools causes public schools to suffer. But that's not so. All of the money comes from the tobacco settlement, so it's extra money.

I chose a better education for my children than tax dollars provide, and thus I pay for my children's private education and fund public schools also.

If you ask me, withholding money for non-religious textbooks just because they aren't used in public classrooms is religious discrimination.

Kerri Gasior

Taneytown

Vouchers promise refuge from failed public schools

The Sun questions school vouchers because they won't "extend the social safety net that is stretched too thin in public schools" ("School choice takes center stage," editorial, Feb. 22). I beg to differ.

Back when schools were designed to teach, and only teach, they had a much greater success rate in reaching children. Now we expect schools to feed children, counsel them and give them after-school activities and, if need be, condoms.

In essence, we expect public schools to act as parents, and exceedingly liberal ones at that. No wonder they are a dismal failure. No wonder so many impoverished parents clamor to escape them for the relative sanity of private schools.

The public schools have lost their way, and our society should afford the opportunity for motivated children to learn math, reading, writing and science, just like in the old days, without the distractions in our politically correct public schools.

Michael DeCicco

Severn

Time is right for shake-up of Baltimore parks officials

Kudos to City Councilman Bernard C. "Jack" Young for having the courage and insight to ask for a shake-up of top city Department of Recreation and Parks staff ("Parks agency drops the ball," Feb. 18).

The parks are dirty, and recreation centers are falling apart -- yet the top staff don't seem to have a clue what's going on.

Mayor Martin O'Malley needs to step up to the plate on this one -- as he has done with other agencies.

Mary Frey

Baltimore

Public has a right to know who's behind energy policy

The only reason I can imagine why the Bush administration refuses to turn over names of people who advised them on energy policy is that they have something to hide ("GAO sues Cheney for list," Feb. 23).

Why should those who formulate energy policy remain a secret? Is it because companies and individuals who make big bucks from energy production have undue influence? Because those who protect the environment were not adequately represented?

I applaud the General Accounting Office's lawsuit against Vice President Dick Cheney, and hope it succeeds in prying loose information that should be available to the American public.

David L. Pollitt

Forest Hill

Reduce gas mileage to lessen dependence on foreign oil

I was shocked to read Nancy Mitchell Pfotenhauer's column "New mandates for gas mileage would risk lives" (Opinion*Commentary, Feb. 26).

Reducing gas mileage has little to do with reducing the safety of cars. Current technology can make SUVs and light trucks get as much as 50 miles per gallon without reducing safety.

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