State's regents must balance diverse interests It is...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

July 17, 2002

State's regents must balance diverse interests

It is with some amusement and sadness that I comment on The Sun's editorial on the election of officers for the Board of Regents ("Mock democracy," July 10).

Unlike in California, the members of the Maryland Board of Regents do not stand for election by us the people. They are appointed by the governor and confirmed by the state Senate.

In accepting appointment, a regent must retain his or her principles but be mindful that the state's chief executive has influence. Governors Marvin Mandel, Harry Hughes and William Donald Schaefer all expressed their "suggestions" to the board chairman.

To be successful, the chairman and the board must have a solid working relationship with elected officials and the university presidents. Balancing these relationships is difficult under the best of conditions and with a growing economy.

Having served for five years on the Board of Regents, as chairman of its Finance Committee, I had the pleasure of working with many of the current board members on difficult fiscal and academic issues. Let me state they are fine volunteers with a good conscience.

Board Chairman Nathan A. Chapman Jr. is at best a short-term caretaker to provide new Chancellor William E. Kirwan time to assess the needs of the University System of Maryland and the quality of its board leadership.

The USM will be best served when Mr. Kirwan is on board to use his clear knowledge of higher education to address all its needs and opportunities.

Edwin S. Crawford

Baltimore

Vouchers won't help struggling students

School vouchers will help parents whose kids are already in private schools. They will not help low-performing students or inner-city, at-risk kids because no right-thinking administrator will accept students who put at risk that school's standards or comity.

Choice resides where it always has -- with the private school, not the applicant. A voucher gives kids about as much choice as the Federal Housing Administration loan program gives paupers to buy the house of their choice.

The argument could be settled quickly and inexpensively by financing an experimental voucher program and letting the results settle the matter. The fact that the philanthropists pushing vouchers as a means of social improvement haven't done this is reason enough to look askance at their claims.

William S. King

Silver Spring

The writer is director of the Center for the Study of Alternative Futures.

Retired steelworkers need health benefits

I just read the front-page article about retirees of Bethlehem Steel probably losing their health care and prescription plans and I have tears in my eyes because I know it will mean the death of my parents ("Steelworkers' benefits in peril," July 10).

My father retired from Bethlehem Steel Corp. after more than 30 years of service, and both he and my mother are totally disabled and cannot afford to take their life-saving medication without the health benefits provided in my father's retirement package.

It is just a crime that people who give their entire lives to a company now must suffer because that company was mismanaged and the pension fund was underfunded.

I hope they can work out an agreement to preserve retirees' benefits, not just for my parents but for all the other retirees who were raised with the notion that you do not kick the people who built the foundation to the curb when things get difficult.

Barbara Garber

Dundalk

Don't report names of accused abusers

Announced as newsworthy for "The Region" under ""The Week That Was" (July 7) was the name of a Catholic priest accused of child abuse.

The Sun quite appropriately withholds the name of an abused child.

Out of simple good will, might not the same courtesy be extended to the alleged abuser until the allegation is somehow substantiated?

The Rev. Brian M. Rafferty

Pasadena

The writer is pastor of Our Lady of the Chesapeake Roman Catholic Church.

Raise the reward to capture bin Laden

What happened to the $25 million reward offered for Osama bin Laden? If that wasn't enough to capture him, why wasn't the amount raised to $50 million or $75 million or $100 million?

Such a reward might do the job, without a war that will cost us tons of money and put many people at risk.

B. J. Small

Baltimore

`Under God' creates no state religion

After reading Michael Olesker's column "Pledge of Allegiance ruling recalls school prayer debate" (July 2), it is clear that it is Mr. Olesker and ex-lawyer Leonard Kerpelman who do not understand what the First Amendment prohibition of an "establishment" of religion is all about.

The founders of this country were of English descent. They knew that in England, if a person was not a member of the Church of England, he or she faced severe disabilities in being able to vote, practice law, hold public office, own land and pass it on to his or her descendants, or practice other religious beliefs.

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