Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

April 08, 2004

Slots standoff must not stop tuition cap bill

There has been a lot of talk this year in Annapolis about addressing Maryland's skyrocketing tuition rates and cuts in state university funding. Finally, last week that talk began turning into action ("House OKs bill to ease rises in college tuition," March 30). But now the legislation is being held hostage by a state Senate committee to pressure the House to pass a slots bill.

Students and universities have suffered deep cuts in financial aid in recent years. State funding for higher education was cut last year by $120 million. In response, universities have raised tuition sharply.

On March 29, the House passed a bill that would limit tuition increases to 5 percent per year and require an annual 5 percent increase in the state's investment in higher education.

The bill would establish a Higher Education Investment Fund with money from a temporary increase in the corporate income tax from 7 percent to 7.9 percent. This rate would be in effect for four years.

Even after such an increase, Maryland's corporate income tax would be low by regional standards: Delaware's is 8.7 percent; Pennsylvania's is 10 percent; West Virginia's is 9 percent; Washington's is 9.9 percent.

This bill is a responsible way to raise money for an investment that is good for Maryland's economy. We need an educated work force. We need to protect the reputations of our state universities.

Slots are a big issue. The General Assembly will have to work hard this week to try to find a compromise. But to let that issue stand in the way of policies that would clearly benefit the public interest is ugly politics.

Brad Heavner

Baltimore

The writer is director of the Maryland Public Interest Research Group.

Hickey school story remains shameful

As a teen-ager in the 1950s, I heard unbelievable rumors about the Charles H. Hickey Jr. School. Now, 50 years later, I am still hearing the same kind of complaints.

The facts in "Report is critical of juvenile centers" (April 1) and "Hickey turns a violent page" (March 30) and The Sun's editorials "Starting over, again" (April 1) and "Reclaiming young offenders" (March 30) are, shamefully, true. The state owes an explanation and an apology to our citizens, especially our youths.

It is difficult to understand why the state signed a contract with a private company to run the school. And now the state is considering signing yet another contract. I would think, by now, that someone would have learned from experience.

If Juvenile Services Secretary Kenneth C. Montague Jr. is surprised by the conditions at the school after his recent visit, he should have been reading The Sun. Or perhaps the system was burying its head in the sand yet again.

Congratulations to The Sun for following this story and informing the public of how the state really provides for the young persons entrusted to its care.

Kitty Douglass

Reisterstown

City spends more than most districts

The Sun's very informative article "Warnings lined road to disaster" (April 4) had a very interesting chart on per pupil expenditures for six school districts.

Baltimore City's expenditures per pupil exceeded the expenditures of every county listed except Montgomery County. Why, then, does the mayor continue to whine that he needs more state money?

The more money the state gives to the city, the more it has to mismanage.

John C. Baker

Ellicott City

Help with English boosts achievement

Thank you to Laura Loh and The Sun for the poignant article "Immigrant students challenge schools" (April 5). It brought positive and insightful attention to the crucial need for additional ESOL (English as a second language) teachers in our school systems.

Although the population of English learners may account for only 1 percent or 2 percent of the student population in a district, providing intense, daily language development instruction and support is critical to these students' academic success.

As a result, allotting sufficient funds to increase contact time and ESOL instruction benefits non-English-speaking students, their families, the community and our schools.

Beth Stiefel-Itoh

Owings Mills

The writer is a former ESOL curriculum specialist for the Baltimore public schools.

Bush's leadership puts terrorists on run

The writer of the letter "Lousy leadership in the war on terror" (April 4) describes President Bush's actions after Sept. 11, 2001, like this: "And then, instead of going after terrorists and their networks all over the world, the administration attacked Iraq."

Given the writer's apparent experience in these matters, it's surprising that he would neglect to mention the invasion of Afghanistan the month following the Sept. 11 attacks.

I'm not sure why this wouldn't qualify as "going after terrorists and their networks all over the world." Indeed, Osama bin Laden and his lieutenants have been on the run ever since.

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