Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

November 17, 2003

Education funds misallocated to executives' pay

The issue of higher education funding in Maryland has generated much discussion in Annapolis, on college campuses, and across the state. Regardless of where the debate is occurring, one underlying assumption seems to be guiding it - namely, that the historic funding increases state colleges experienced during the 1990s were spent exclusively to benefit students in the classroom.

In fact, increases in state aid to the Maryland's university system during the past decade did not uniquely benefit students or lower tuition rates.

Much of this taxpayer money never trickled down into classrooms, where it is needed most.

From 1994 to 2002, the university system received a $344 million increase in state funding, according to the Maryland Department of Budget and Management. Despite this funding windfall, the system raised tuition on students by 88 percent during the 1990s.

As tuition rates soared, so did salaries. According to information recently released by the University System of Maryland, the top 81 employees in the system today are paid a combined $13.8 million, making their average annual salary more than $170,000.

Since 1998, the president of the Baltimore campus has received a 48 percent raise to $351,028. Likewise, the president of the College Park campus received a 64 percent raise and now earns $358,000. The president of University College received a 126 percent raise to $325,557. Those salary increases could have paid the tuition bills for 74 students at this year's tuition rates.

Given the seriousness of the state's budget problems, the University System of Maryland's leadership must ensure that precious resources are spent in a way that yields quantifiable educational results. University leaders should undertake a thorough, public and verifiable effort to reduce unnecessary nonacademic expenditures. Any resulting savings should be directed toward alleviating burgeoning tuition rates at our colleges.

University executives should be rewarded with reasonable compensation for their contributions to the university system. Nonetheless, the student must be the first beneficiary of taxpayer dollars.

Kevin Kelly

Cumberland

The writer is a state delegate who represents Allegany County as a Democrat.

Palestinian actions create need for fence

A letter writer states that the United States would be condemned if we built fences several miles into Mexico ("Security fence is really a barrier to Mideast peace," letter, Nov. 14). Of course we would be - if Mexico had never done anything to provoke that course of action.

What would happen if Mexican homicidal bombers came across the border regularly, into California, for example, and blew themselves up in the malls and restaurants?

Would we stand by and allow our citizens to be murdered, or would we do something to protect our loved ones? How can anyone say that the Israelis have no right to protect themselves?

If the Palestinians want to stop the building of the fence, then they should rid their midst of radicals who want no peace.

Abby Richmond

Baltimore

Sentencing disparities should be eliminated

The so-called Green River killer received a life sentence, rather than a death sentence, for pleading guilty to murdering at least 48 women ("Death and disparity," Opinion * Commentary, Nov. 13).

Why is it a white man gets life for killing 48 people but Lee Boyd Malvo, a black teen-ager, could face death in a case in which so many fewer people were killed?

Some sort of national standard should be set for capital punishment. Or better yet, let's do away with the death penalty and replace it with mandatory life sentences, with limited appeals.

Douglas B. Hermann

Baltimore

Reducing sentence is unfair to victim

A sentence of life in prison means what? Yet again, it apparently does not mean "life" ("Governor to reduce woman's life term," Nov. 14).

Some people support the death penalty for murder because they continually see the courts, penal system and politicians release convicts sentenced to life. The victim is still dead because "dead" means "dead." In this case, dead from 22 stab wounds. But "life," that sentence is negotiable and very unfair to victims and their family and friends.

Larry Johnston

Hereford

Del. Salima S. Marriott calls Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s departure from Gov. Parris N. Glendening's "life means life" policy toward prisoners a "breath of fresh air." What about the breath of fresh air that Toni L. Jordan had taken away from her in 1978?

This policy is referred to as "draconian." I guess murder is not "draconian."

Jeff Ashton

Baltimore

A distorted picture of new abortion law

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