Letters To The Editor


May 25, 2004

New leadership, funding to serve all Marylanders

This month's celebration of the 50th anniversary of Brown vs. Board of Education was marred by Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s hurtful comments attacking multiculturalism.

In recent weeks Native Americans, blacks, Latinos, Asians and whites have spoken out in opposition to these statements, proving the great power of multiculturalism to bring us closer together as a community. As Maryland grows more diverse, we understand that an attack against one community is an attack against us all.

CASA of Maryland currently has 500 students enrolled in night courses learning English. Our students work at multiple jobs, yet commit to this learning because they, more than the governor or anyone else, recognize the importance of learning English.

Yet Maryland remains the 46th-worst state in per capita adult education funding - and funding for English-language instruction is part of the adult education budget. And for the third year in a row, the General Assembly closed with nothing more than a weak commitment from the Maryland Department of Education to suggest a needs-based funding formula for adult education to the next General Assembly.

We would hope that Mr. Ehrlich would follow his own campaign pledge to embrace all of the state's residents, and we would like to suggest some immediate actions to illustrate that commitment:

Create a budget allotment that eliminates the waiting list of students to take English as a second language.

Construct an in-state tuition bill for immigrants that is acceptable to the governor and the advocates.

Show leadership within the Maryland Republican Party to establish that immigrants are welcome.

Across the country, immigration is not a partisan issue and Republicans understand that immigrants, including undocumented immigrants, are essential workers in America's economy.

These are not radical concepts - fund, talk, lead - and they are the very traits that Maryland's black, Latino, Asian, minority and immigrant communities will look for in 2006.

Gustavo Torres

Silver Spring

The writer is executive director of CASA of Maryland.

UMBC graduate offers ray of hope

I read at least two interesting articles last Thursday: one dealing with the horrific deaths of infant twins, allegedly at the hands of their parents ("City, state grapple over care of family," May 20) and the other dealing with Tavon Cooke, a formerly homeless youth who has just graduated from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County ("Working for `a better life,'" May 20).

It seems that Mr. Cooke slipped through the cracks in the city's child protection system himself, but was able to turn his life around with the help of some other terrific support systems.

Even more interesting is the fact that this young man wants to be a social worker. And he seems like exactly the kind of person our troubled social services agencies need, having "been there, done that."

It's sad that so many of this city's most vulnerable people can't depend on the very agencies designed to protect them. Maybe more money will help solve the problem but it seems to me that more people like young Mr. Cooke are really the answer to this city's social service ills.

His statement - "I'm not saying you should save the entire world, but you should save enough people to keep the cycle going" - sums it all up.

Ginger Williams


U.S. cruelty in Iraq is source of terror

Imagine that an Arab Muslim army occupied Baltimore, sexually tortured prisoners from Fells Point, Annapolis and Easton and killed women and children by mistake at a wedding party in Timonium. Would we demand violent revenge?

We Baltimoreans still revere American patriotism at Fort McHenry. Iraq's Francis Scott Key may well emerge from Abu Ghraib prison, and I am not looking forward to the words of his "Star-Spangled Banner."

The best thing we can do to stop terrorism in Iraq is to stop committing it.

Bruce Godfrey


Health care burdens hurt those in need

As Ellen Goodman suggests in her column "Drug card debacle shows that more can be less" (Opinion * Commentary, May 17), I cringe every time my employer says it will offer more health care "choices."

I know this simply means more cost will find its way to the employee, either in higher premiums or deductibles or in less coverage, not to mention lots of angst from poring over detailed idiosyncrasies of more and more coverage options.

Now comes a woefully misguided and convoluted Medicare prescription plan that will provide access to these so-called discount cards for seniors.

Advocacy groups suggest seniors take their time when selecting a card, and that they go online to find the best plan for themselves.

Hmmm. One would suspect that those who are already burdened with significant prescription drug expenses would also be among the most fragile of our seniors. But, hey, surely they can find some time to go online and wade through what I am sure are reams of information so they can make the best choice.

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