Letters To The Editor


August 31, 2004

City and state must cooperate to help schools

It is disturbing to read of the increasing tension between Baltimore school officials, the mayor and the Maryland State Department of Education ("School crackdown," editorial, Aug. 27).

MSDE is the entity that is responsible for monitoring and ensuring that school districts are in compliance with federal law and budget requirements. At last, MSDE is "tightening the screws" and publicly calling for better management of the city school district.

Unfortunately, because the political consequences of Mayor Martin O'Malley's move to financially bail out the Baltimore public schools are potentially mighty, MSDE's stance seems to pit those involved in the "city-state partnership" as foes.

But a greater issue seems to be this: Who truly has the authority to ultimately monitor the system's finances and enforce federal and state compliance of our district's public schools?

As Judge Joseph H. H. Kaplan has stated, "Those decisions should be made independently by the school board under the direction of the state Board of Education" ("Judge orders rise in schools' budget," Aug. 21) - not, in other words, by the mayor or his appointed Financial Operating Committee or city solicitor.

The children of Baltimore not only should receive the funding necessary for their education to be at least adequate, but they should also receive the full cooperation of those in power at the city and state levels, who should work collaboratively in attaining such an outcome.

Michelle Hart


The writer is a member of the parent-community advisory board for Baltimore's public schools.

Impoverished city needs aid for schools

The Sun's article "Affluent state impoverished at urban core" (Aug. 27) paints a stark contrast between Baltimore and the counties in Maryland, the nation's "second-most affluent state." And wouldn't it follow that if more than 20 percent of the city's families are living in poverty (compared with 3 percent to 8 percent in the counties), it may take more money for specific programs to educate the city's children?

Under the No Child Left Behind Act, the state sets similar standards for all school systems, and requires that all sub-groups within a system, including low-income students, show "adequate yearly progress."

Given the city's needs, it is a shame that the state Board of Education voted to appeal the ruling by Judge H. H. Kaplan that the state has underfinanced city schools ("Maryland to appeal ruling on schools," Aug. 26).

The board, the state superintendent and the governor should put politics aside and realize they have a share in the responsibility to educate all of Maryland's children.

Mari Satterlee


Mayor shifts blame for the city's woes

Mayor Martin O'Malley is way off base when he suggests that there is some kind of state plot to further discredit a failing city school system ("Accusations of politics in struggle on city schools," Aug. 26).

Putting several schools on probation for having high rates of violence seems to me to be a good idea. And as the parent of a city school pupil, I want to know this information.

Yet the mayor denounces it as a political shot to depress enrollment that makes fiscal recovery more difficult.

This just shows the frustration of a man who has pretty much failed his election promises to the citizens of this city and now has to find blame elsewhere for its continuing high murder rate, suspect education system and filthy streets, alleys and vacant lots.

C. D. Wilmer


Bill Clinton earned Rhodes scholarship

While I am in complete agreement with the purpose of Gordon Livingston's column "Kerry's service alone offers stark contrast" (Opinion

Commentary, Aug. 25), I find it unfortunate that he implies that Bill Clinton's decision to pursue his education, which was based on his academic merit - after all, winning a Rhodes scholarship is not something a rich father can buy - is analogous to George W. Bush's disputed time in the Texas Air National Guard.

Yes, Mr. Clinton avoided service in Vietnam, but his was not the "same decision made by many of the privileged young men of his generation."

Unlike Mr. Bush, Mr. Clinton was a member of the working class who won a university scholarship through hard work.

Barbara M. Simon


At least Sen. Kerry built a war record

In his column "Kerry's service alone offers stark contrast" (Opinion

Commentary, Aug. 25), Gordon Livingston makes the point the media have been astonishingly reluctant to make: George W. Bush was never in Vietnam, won't release all of his National Guard service records and cannot produce witnesses to his presence during some of the period in which he was supposed to be serving in the National Guard.

So why are we even discussing Sen. John Kerry's war record? He has one; Mr. Bush doesn't.

Robin Farabaugh


Trolley tracks lead back to the future?

What is the big deal about finding trolley tracks under Broadway ("Apparent trolley tracks found under Broadway," Aug. 25)?

Ride up many streets in Baltimore and you will find trolley tracks emerging from the roadbed.

Maybe its a good time to revive streetcar service in town.

What goes around comes around, as they say in the trolley business.

Paul D. Kemp


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