Letters To The Editor


July 03, 2005

Referendum battle not racially motivated

The Comp-Lite fight was not racially motivated. The newspapers and the Howard County Council want to sensationalize this as a fight against one Korean church's expansion. I take personal offense at the racist implication: I have close and decades-long friendships with those of various races, including those of Asian descent.

The Comp-Lite referendum seeks reversal of items approved in the bill, but will not touch denied properties such as the Cedar Lane drugstore. If Comp-Lite is upheld, developers will be emboldened to make another request for all denied properties and the council will have less reason to heed resident outcry.

The Comp-Lite fight concerns new zoning allowing the Chatham "village center" to add offices and 1,300 residences on top of the existing retail, increased levels of zoning for 100 acres along Route 40, 50 acres of commercial zoning at Route 100/103, higher densities on Route 1, a church rezoned to allow a 28-acre health care facility or high-density senior housing and several other properties. The Council violated its own law by adding properties up to the last minute with little opportunity for residents to become aware of the proposals. That justifies attacks on the council and a successful referendum.

Wes Allen

Ellicott City

An unwarranted, misleading attack

The attack on my leadership of the Howard County Education Association in a letter to The Sun by Douglas Dribben was unwarranted and misleading. His letter was in response to an article in the June 24 Sun about my return to a classroom position after six years as president of HCEA.

Hanah Cho's story, based on a 90-minute interview, accurately summarized my comments about my role as president of the local teacher's union. Mr. Dribben attacks that role by saying that "It's teachers first and foremost that matter to Staub and his union, not the children they are charged with teaching..." Yes, Mr. Dribben, that is true. When I return to the classroom in September, children will be my No. 1 priority. But as president of the union representing teachers and other education employees, it is my members who must be my priority.

The students in the Howard County Public Schools have many advocates -- their parents, the local PTA, community organizations and yes, their teachers. In fact, their teachers are so busy advocating and working on behalf of the children they teach that they must entrust the advocacy of their interests to their professional association, the "teacher's union." As I said in the interview, "I believe if you do what's in the best interest of your employees -- teachers and support personnel -- you are doing what's in the best interest of children."

And so, as a teacher at Long Reach High School this fall, I will advocate as a teacher for what is in the best interest of my students: smaller class sizes, up-to-date textbooks, modern technology and a "highly qualified teacher" in every classroom. In fact, these are the same things I have been advocating for on behalf of my members as president of the HCEA for the past six years.

Joseph R. Staub Jr.


The writer is the outgoing president of the Howard County Education Association.

Don't demonize unionized teachers

In reference to Douglas Dribben's June 26 letter about Joe Staub, the outgoing head of the Howard County teacher's union: It's too bad you didn't end your article with your comments about Mr. Staub, rather than attacking the unionized teachers as well.

I am a unionized teacher, and in my school, Johnny can read. Every staff member, unionized and non, works harder than you can imagine to make sure that Johnny and Jane can read, write, pass the MSA, pass the Terra Nova tests, are prepared for the middle school academic environment, are creative, feel a sense of community and reach their potential.

The union affiliation helps me concentrate on the job I was hired to do, rather than on having to watch my back in our over-litigious society. I have protection from a host of possible distracters, from receiving enough money on which to live and therefore not needing a second job (and therefore giving more of my non-workday time to my students), to having my planning time respected by my administrators (therefore having enough time to plan how to keep Johnny and Jane reading), to having legal representation available to me if a misguided parent feels that a pat on the back is inappropriate and decides to sue me. Johnny and Jane can read because their teachers are unionized, Mr. Dribben. I have no quarrel with your comments about Mr. Staub, but I would take care about demonizing the unionized teachers.

Amy Cohen


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