Letters To The Editor


March 26, 2006

Veteran teachers need pension boost

The Sun's editorial "Pension propriety" (March 20) recognizes Maryland's need to improve its pension system to retain quality teachers. Yet it also argues that the improvement shouldn't apply to their past years of service, even though that would be a critical step in helping to retain our most experienced educators.

In Baltimore County alone, the public schools have hired almost 4,000 teachers over the past five years, which means that more than half of our teaching staff has less than five years experience teaching in Baltimore County.

Many of our area teachers go to college in neighboring Pennsylvania, teach in Maryland for two to four years, and then return to Pennsylvania.

Why? Because Pennsylvania offers a much better pension for educators, as well as higher salaries and more-affordable housing.

The school district and taxpayers lose about $50,000 every time a teacher is recruited, hired and trained, then leaves.

Recognizing past service in an improved pension plan would help us retain some of our experienced educators. That's why key legislators from the Baltimore-area delegation are pushing legislation that includes a fully or partially retroactive pension benefit.

Focusing solely on future service not only snubs teachers like me who have dedicated their lives to the education of Maryland's students, but also fails to address adequately the retention issue that is vital to the achievement of students in Baltimore County and statewide.

Cheryl Bost


The writer is president of the Teachers Association of Baltimore County.

Warming also adds to cost of energy

The fact that state Sen. J. Lowell Stolzfus and a few others in the Senate would express doubts about the benefits of cutting carbon dioxide emissions in Maryland is appalling ("State Senate passes Healthy Air Act 33-14," March 21).

Cutting carbon emissions is the only way to prevent global warming from getting worse.

And scientists believe that the warmer seas caused by global warming contribute to the development of an increased number of giant hurricanes such as last summer's Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita.

When Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf of Mexico, 95 percent of oil production stopped in that area and gas prices surpassed $3. The damage to the gulf region's natural gas platforms also caused us to pay more to heat our homes this winter.

Perhaps Mr. Stolzfus can put two and two together and realize that the energy price spike is not just the result of deregulation but also of the damage from these hurricanes.

Peter McPhee


Pollution poses a greater threat

In recent days, The Sun has had articles about the state Senate's passage of the Healthy Air Act ("State Senate passes Healthy Air Act 33-14," March 21) and about the governor urging people to eat rockfish, even though they had lesions ("Order of rockfish - hold the lesions," March 22).

While I am glad that the Healthy Air Act passed the Senate, I am upset that some senators seem to be more afraid of energy rate increases from updating power plants than of the possible ramifications of air and water pollution now and for future generations.

The article about the rockfish seems like the handwriting on the wall to me.

I urge the governor and the House of Delegates to err on the side of caution and let the Healthy Air Act become law.

Annunziata Kurek


Eastern Shore eager to welcome growth

Don't worry about overdevelopment on the Eastern Shore ("Lawsuit targets Shore project," March 21).

Many of us here in Dorchester County welcome developers, new neighbors and the prosperity that will come with them. Perhaps this will enable us to offer better education, more job opportunities for our youths and a higher standard of living for all.

It's great to see this long-depressed area alive with prosperity and optimism.

Mike Elzey


Moving poor people solves no problems

I read with interest the article regarding housing for the poor in the suburbs ("U.S. judge is asked to order housing for poor in suburbs," March 21).

And, once again, I saw a group of people asking the courts to hand to them what most of us have worked for during most of our lives.

Moving public housing recipients into other neighborhoods has not improved those moving in. It has caused the neighborhoods into which they move to deteriorate.

During the first wave of the Move to Opportunity program, I saw many "entitled" people come into my home neighborhood.

Within months, they had turned previously quiet areas into streets where I wouldn't walk even with a large dog.

Pay phones that had existed for years suddenly had to be removed because drug dealers were using them. Graffiti and trash were everywhere.

Once this element is introduced into a neighborhood, it is very difficult to remove. And the unfortunate people who had previously lived in these areas end up paying the price - in increased need to use the police, lowered property values and an overall coarsening of the area.

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