Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

March 21, 2004

Parents press for larger role in city schools

Now that the Board of Estimates has approved the mayor's loan to the Baltimore school system ("City leaders complete loan to schools," March 18), parents believe that turning around our schools requires nothing less than a full-court press during this period of "March Madness."

This campaign should include:

Parental involvement: Parents have been out in front of many of our political, community, and business leaders in trying to find solutions, but have been excluded from many discussions. We advocate the reinstitution of the standing committees the city school board once had that expanded the range of public participation.

Fiscal accountability: Parents want to know if this loan will only get the schools through the next few months until it must be repaid or give the schools enough of a breathing spell to right their course.

Academic progress: Budget-cutting that ignores the effects on classroom learning will set back both the schools' and students' progress.

All sectors must aggressively support turning our schools around - all levels of government, the foundations, the business community, universities and city residents.

Parents, however, are the backbone of this campaign. And we expect no less a level of involvement from the mayor, City Council and school board than we would have expected from the governor if the state had bailed out the city schools.

Bob Heck Bill Merritt Baltimore

The writers are, respectively, the chairman and a member of Advocates for Reform at the Top.

Bailing out schools, laying off workers

Perhaps I'm missing something here. Baltimore City was willing to loan its school system $42 million from its rainy day fund instead of accepting the state's bailout package ("City leaders complete loan to schools," March 18).

But now I read that the city may have to cut services and jobs and raise user fees in next fiscal year's budget because there won't be enough money ("Budget plan cuts city jobs, services," March 18)?

What's wrong with this picture?

Mark Eckell

Columbia

Repeal the tax cuts to fix federal deficit

In "Several reasons to care about federal deficit" (March 14), Lorene Yue repeats the erroneous party line being trotted out by Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, suggesting that the cuts to Social Security and Medicare benefits Mr. Greenspan recommended are needed to address the enormous budget deficit.

I don't think that I'm the only person who recognizes that the deficits, to no trivial extent, have been caused by the reckless tax cuts given to the tiny percentage of top income earners among Americans.

Instead of cutting benefits to people who are actually going to need them, how about repealing the tax cuts as a way to try to balance the budget?

Jeff Rhyne

Catonsville

Take steps to cut dependence on oil

While gas prices continue to skyrocket to record levels, I am concerned by our course of action ("Oil prices likely to keep wallets light for a while," March 14). Rather than waiting at the mercy of foreign oil distributors, hoping that the price will come back down, shouldn't we be lessening our dependence on gasoline?

It doesn't bode well for the United States that our largest and most important supplier of oil is located in the heart of the Middle East, not exactly the model of a stable region.

As the future of fossil fuels looms as uncertain, the world's growing population has an incentive to reduce its dependence on oil, coal and natural gas and find alternative ways to sustain itself.

While many of these changes must come from the government, the average person can still take part in this effort.

Carpooling and public transportation are effective ways to cut down on gas consumption. And, in the future, I hope our nation will turn to renewable sources such as wind and hydroelectric energy.

Edward Arnold

Lutherville

Police chief's pension was an enviable deal

Let me see if I have this straight: Former city Police Commissioner Edward T. Norris got a vested pension plus severance pay after only 32 months of service for voluntarily quitting to take another job ("Officials seek to end Norris' pension funds," March 13)?

Where can I get a job with benefits like that?

Gary A. Smith

Baltimore

Spanish voters took a courageous stand

The Sun is correct in noting that politics can affect the behavior of terrorists and justified in its concern that terror may "influence politics in the Western nations" ("An alarm in Spain," editorial, March 16). But to portray the results of Spain's election as giving in to the fear of terrorism underestimates the wisdom and strength of electoral democracy. Voters can reconcile differing opinions without threatening security.

In an amazing display of fortitude, Spain's voters, who had just suffered a horrible attack, asserted their desire to eliminate the threat of terrorism.

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