Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

September 11, 2006

Ruling on funding sustains state law

The state Court of Special Appeals ruled Sept. 1 that local school systems in Maryland must provide the same amount of money per pupil to charter schools within their jurisdictions as to regular public schools ("Charter school funding decided," Sept. 2).

The court offered a reasonable interpretation of the law.

The Baltimore public school system and other school systems have argued, unreasonably, that local school districts should be able to provide in-kind services to charter schools in place of funding.

While one might disagree that charter schools should receive equal funding with public schools, the law simply states the "county board shall disburse ... an amount of county, state and federal money ... that is commensurate with the amount disbursed to other public schools."

Nowhere in the law does it stipulate that a local district can substitute in-kind services for equal funding.

While the intent and meaning of the law are clear, the Baltimore schools have attempted to skirt their obligation to fund public charter schools in the district adequately.

This decision is a victory for charter schools and for the students of Maryland. It is also a victory for the charter school law itself.

Joshua L. Michael

Ellicott City

The writer is a student at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and former student member of the State Board of Education.

Destroy the poppies that produce heroin

Since we invaded Afghanistan, I have been extremely concerned about the large amounts of opium harvested in that country. And according to The Sun's article "Opium harvest sets record" (Sept. 3), this year's harvest has increased almost 50 percent over last year's yield.

While most of the heroin derived from the Afghan poppies is sold in Europe and Asia, much of it still finds its way into the United States.

The terrible results from the use of this heroin - involving crime, violence and killings in competition for drug markets - and the horrible effects of individual drug addiction, which include severe illness, death, loss of work production and the deterioration of family life, in my estimation are far more destructive to our society than any of the shooting wars in which we are involved.

I would ask, does President Bush have some kind of a private agreement with Afghan President Hamid Karzai to ignore the opium harvest to protect the Afghan economy?

If not, why don't Mr. Bush and Mr. Karzai together organize an operation to annihilate the opium poppy fields?

Quinton D. Thompson

Towson

Embracing Muslims as good neighbors

Thank you for Jonathan Pitts' excellent article about the Muslim community in Baltimore ("Keeping the Faith," Sept. 6).

It will go a long way to promote understanding and acceptance of our Muslim brothers and sisters as peaceful, law-abiding and productive members of our society.

Lee Starkey

Baltimore

UM dean forged first-rate school

I read with admiration The Sun's profile of Dr. Donald E. Wilson, dean of the University of Maryland School of Medicine ("Dean's dedication, vision, transform medical school," Sept. 2). Baltimore is now home to two top-flight medical schools, thanks in large measure to his achievements.

As his cross-town colleague, I can attest to the pressures and crosscurrents that make running an academic medical center a demanding assignment.

Dr. Wilson has not only met these challenges but also brought his medical school to national prominence as an important research institution with high-caliber investigators and state-of-the-art facilities.

Dr. Wilson overhauled the medical school's curriculum to keep pace with the astonishing speed of discovery, new patient therapies and technology advances in American medicine.

He leaves his institution well-positioned to continue its climb to eminence as a dynamic, vital source of medical education and research innovation.

Dr. Edward D. Miller

Baltimore

The writer is dean of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and CEO of Johns Hopkins Medicine.

Dr. Wilson's tenure wasn't the first

Both The Sun and the University of Maryland School of Medicine persist in asserting that Dr. Donald E. Wilson, whose accomplishments were described in The Sun's upon his retirement ("Dean's dedication, vision transform medical school," Sept. 2), was the "first African-American dean of a predominantly white medical school."

This is not true, as I have pointed out to both institutions.

Maurice Clifford (1920-2002), a black obstetrician and former health commissioner of Philadelphia, was dean of the Medical College of Pennsylvania from 1980 to 1986.

That medical school opened in 1850 as the Female Medical College of Pennsylvania, began accepting men in 1970 and merged with Hahnemann University in 1993.

The two schools became the Drexel College of Medicine in 2002.

The school has always been predominantly white.

I do not know whether Dr. Clifford was the first African-American to lead a majority-white medical school. It is certain, however, that Dr. Wilson wasn't.

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