Letters To The Editor


November 25, 2003

Layoffs will cut muscle, brain of city schools

Thank you for carrying Kalman R. Hettleman's column on the 1,000 public school employees slated for termination and the planned 50 percent reduction in staff at North Avenue ("Schools in a squeeze," Opinion

Commentary, Nov. 20). The budget is to be balanced on the backs of hard-working people who did not create this crisis.

I am the sole elementary science specialist in the Office of Elementary Curriculum and Instruction at North Avenue. Before taking this job, I spent 26 years in the classroom. At North Avenue, we have only one music specialist, one math specialist, one health specialist. Other departments are equally short-staffed. Eliminating our jobs will not cut fat. It will cut muscle, bone and brain.

In fact, shortcomings in fiscal management are partly the result of decentralization and downsizing that has followed from the persistent bashing of staff at North Avenue.

During my tenure here, the central office has trained thousands of teachers in phonics reading instruction and the new inquiry-based science and math instruction.

Our reading and math test scores have improved dramatically. We are rebuilding our music and visual arts programs. We are writing new curricula to bring Baltimore schools into alignment with both the No Child Left Behind Act and Maryland state achievement goals.

It is not fair to reward us for our hard work with a kick in the teeth.

Maryland's fiscal crisis is the price our state pays for war in Iraq and billions in federal tax cuts for the rich. Will Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. use this crisis to nullify Thornton state aid to education?

School employees, parents and all who love public education should unite to stop this onslaught against our children.

Joyce P. Wheeler


Housing code guards value of communities

The Sun's article on the landlord registration process in Baltimore County highlighted the importance of code enforcement to the quality of life in neighborhoods ("Plan to expand landlord bill is likely to fail," Nov. 17).

For years, community groups in Baltimore County have identified code enforcement as a key tool to stabilize their neighborhoods.

By keeping properties well-maintained, code enforcement keeps housing values up and revenues to local government growing. Thirty inspectors may not be enough to ensure these results. And this is a good time to look at how much long-term savings the county could achieve by strengthening code enforcement now.

The rental registration program has great potential to correct problems and to track rental trends in communities. Let's make sure it has the resources to succeed.

Brent Flickinger


The writer works with community associations in Baltimore County for the Citizens Planning and Housing Association.

A prison for Towson but not for Dundalk?

Maryland's senators and Dundalk's community leaders are right to question the propriety of placing a 1,750-bed federal prison in their neighborhood ("Senators denounce proposals for prison," Nov. 20). It's Rep. C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger's opposition I don't understand.

He says the proposed facility "may have already deterred investment and cast doubt on whether families will move into this area." Yet as Baltimore County executive, Mr. Ruppersberger had no problem expanding a jail in Towson to just about the same size.

Despite the fact that it is located next to a public school, he told us the facility wouldn't affect property values or hurt the community in the least.

I am certain the proposed federal prison would house inmates no more dangerous than the accused murderers and rapists now living next to us in Towson. So why did Mr. Ruppersberger have a change of heart?

John Patterson


Let others live as they see fit

If you don't believe in gay marriages, don't marry into one. If you don't believe in abortions, don't get one. Otherwise such practices do not affect you and consequently are not your business.

This is a free country. Not everyone believes as you do. And everyone should not be compelled to do it your way.

Pete Westover


It's wrong to deny nominees a vote

Our representatives in the U.S. Senate have been doing voters a disservice. Sens. Paul S. Sarbanes and Barbara A. Mikulski, along with their colleagues, have succeeded in blocking votes on several judges who have been nominated to the federal bench - not by working to amass the votes needed to defeat them in a full Senate vote, but by using filibusters to prevent full Senate votes from even occurring.

It is their right as elected officials to support only nominees who share their values - just as it is our right as their constituents to cast our ballots for or against them based on our values.

But how is it their right to deny these or any other nominees their right to a yes or no vote on their appointments?

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