Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

October 03, 2004

School choice is working for city families

Contrary to the suggestion of the new Governor's Commission on Quality Education, Maryland's largest school district already has a school choice process ("Charter schools on panel's agenda," Sept. 28).

While legislators and educators argue over vouchers and charter schools, many middle-class families in Baltimore move to the counties. The more affluent often send their children to private schools.

But a small number of disadvantaged Baltimore children (about 600) receive tuition assistance to attend the school of their choice from a privately funded voucher program, Children's Scholarship Fund Baltimore.

It is true, however, that the vast majority of city children have no choice. They are often forced to attend academically challenged and financially foundering public schools.

But quality education is not a mystery in this city. More than 250 private and parochial schools operate effectively and efficiently in the "market system" - in which a representative of the American Federation of Teachers quoted in The Sun says "you can't just operate" ("Success stories setting example," Sept 28).

I have no doubt that with the city public schools' new leadership, academic and financial improvements will occur. However, significant advancement is going to take time - time children in city schools today cannot afford.

Isn't it about time we put personal and political agendas aside and start to do anything and everything we can to adequately educate our children now?

Paul Ellis

Baltimore

The writer is executive director of Children's Scholarship Fund Baltimore.

Kerry shows vision, command of issues

Sen. John Kerry won the first presidential debate. He was confident, articulate and strong ("Iraq war, terror drive 1st debate," Oct. 1).

Mr. Kerry spoke clearly and concisely about how he would support our armed forces fighting this war in Iraq. He presented with confidence how he plans to move forward and win this war in Iraq and fight terrorism.

President Bush seemed insecure throughout much of the debate and lacked clarity.

His repetitious statements about Mr. Kerry's "mixed messages" seemed ridiculous in contrast to Mr. Kerry's clearly and consistently outlined action plans.

Kelly Keville

Gambrills

The term "flip-flopper" may finally have lost its appeal after Thursday night's debate. I saw in Sen. John Kerry an intelligent, informed and engaged leader who is not afraid to change course when given new information or new circumstances.

This stands in opposition to a president who is too arrogant, too stubborn or too uninformed to admit a mistake and set about correcting it.

What is the use of staying the course if it is the wrong course?

Taking a stand and not budging from it no matter what is not a virtue, particularly if the stand is wrong.

Chris Smith

Glyndon

Thursday night we saw an angry, unfocused, petulant President Bush stammer his way through a 90-minute debate that Sen. John Kerry commanded from the get-go.

Mr. Kerry was cool, calm and statesmanlike, projecting a combination of rationality and intellect.

Mr. Bush looked as if he prepped for the debate by memorizing bumper stickers.

Two more debates like this, and I bet even Florida Gov. Jeb Bush will vote for Mr. Kerry.

Rich Levy

Cambridge

Undecided voter impressed by Kerry

I was sincerely undecided about the election until Thursday night's debate. But now it's obvious to me that that most of what President Bush has said about Sen. John F. Kerry all along is just plain wrong: Mr. Kerry is a strong and sensible man, with the presence of mind to formulate workable plans, who is capable of serving the security interests of my beloved country ("Iraq war, terror drive 1st debate," Oct. 1).

Mr. Bush acted like a drowning man, grasping at vague, worn-out catch phrases and sound bites, unable to comprehend (much less respond to) serious questions about his actions.

It was Mr. Bush, not Mr. Kerry, who appeared insincere, ineffectual and unrealistic.

Thomas Brown

Baltimore

Joint TV appearance wasn't a real debate

Teachers and students of debate must cringe every time they hear the term "presidential debate."

Thursday evening's television appearance of President Bush and Sen. John Kerry was anything but a debate; it was 90 minutes of rhetoric, repetitive sound bites and constant reiterations of proposed policies ("Iraq war, terror, drive 1st debate," Oct. 1).

Maybe an actual debate would not be a good venue in which to decide the better candidate. After all, the better debater might not make the better president.

But let's not call what transpired on TV a debate - calling it a debate misleads future voters, confuses inexperienced voters and insults the rest of us.

Barbara Blumberg

Baltimore

Blair right to focus on peace in Mideast

Thanks to reporter Todd Richissin for his excellent article on British Prime Minister Tony Blair's political situation ("War fallout erodes Blair's domestic position," Sept. 29).

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