Letter To The Editor


January 08, 2007

Thinking about the decision to rescind the transfer of 150 teaching assistants in Baltimore, one main issue is that the city school system had years to get into compliance with the No Child Left Behind law's regulations, and yet remained the only school system in Maryland that had noncertified teaching assistants in place in Title I schools ("No transfer of assistants," Jan. 5).

The initial plan to transfer personnel in the middle of the school year was the school system's unfortunate solution to the problem it had created by failing to meet the regulations.

But the idea of transferring qualified personnel was unnecessary in the first place because the system was eligible for an extension to buy it time to complete certification ("Assistants' transfers elicit protests," Jan. 4).

The school system's backward approach to the problem threw it into turmoil.

And the swift retreat by the city school system shows the power of parental involvement and the ongoing need for accountability on the part of the city schools.

Robert Heck


The writer is a member of the board of the Baltimore Education Network.

Time for transfers before school year

Since the requirements for teaching assistants under the No Child Left Behind law have been known since January 2002, it is reasonable to expect that qualified people in the city school system should have been prepared to move personnel before the beginning of the school year ("No transfer of assistants," Jan. 5).

McNair Taylor


Raise income ceiling for Medicaid plans

In his column "Requiring health insurance won't work for Maryland consumers" (Opinion * Commentary, Dec. 31), the president of Consumers for Health Care Choices makes a somewhat compelling argument that purchasing health insurance should be "a personal decision based on how much they can afford to cover and how much risk they are willing to bear."

Unfortunately, our children do not get to make their own health coverage and care decisions. And more than 135,000 children (under 19 years of age) are among the uninsured in Maryland.

An estimated 78,000 of them are living in families whose incomes are below the federal poverty level, which is about $20,000 for a family of four.

Remarkably, most of these unenrolled children are currently eligible for comprehensive health benefits under Medicaid, and thousands more in near-poor families are eligible for the existing Maryland Children's Health Insurance Program, which covers children in families making up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level.

An extensive body of public health research has demonstrated that when parents get coverage under Medicaid or a state equivalent program, their eligible children also get enrolled.

Research also affirms that when parents have access to covered health services, children are more likely to obtain regular health care.

Thus raising Medicaid eligibility levels for Maryland's parents from the state's current dismal 40 percent of poverty-level income -- which is one of the lowest ceilings in the United States -- to 200 percent of the federal poverty level would have a substantial impact not only on the health and well-being of uninsured adults but also on Maryland's most vulnerable children.

Dr. William Sciarillo


The writer is chairman of the Coalition for Healthy Maryland Children.

No need to demolish past to rebuild city

Two of the letters in response to Jill Rosen's article "Clash over historic city building looms" (Jan. 2) miss important points ("Warehouse isn't best use of city parcel" and "Construction cranes boost city's future," letters, Jan. 4).

Preservationists don't think all old buildings are historic -- only ones like the Terminal Warehouse, which has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1975 and is on a list of notable (historic) properties in a city ordinance.

As one of the photographs accompanying the article about the Terminal Warehouse indicates, there are vast empty lots directly across Guilford Avenue from the warehouse. Wouldn't it be logical for the city to arrange for the new building to be put there?

If the city's planning and development agencies are doing their job, there should be no need to destroy buildings, historic or otherwise, so long as empty lots exist.

John Maclay


Pardon for Nixon remains a mistake

While I understand and respect the tendency to speak in glowing terms of the recently deceased, I am nevertheless disgusted with the recent outpouring of revisionist history that suggests the pardoning of Richard Nixon in 1974 was the right thing to do ("A nation bids Ford farewell," Jan. 3).

The pardon was wrong in 1974, and it is wrong today.

In America, we have a little something called the "rule of law." It is critically important that no man be deemed to be bigger than the rule of law.

But when President Gerald R. Ford excused Mr. Nixon from responsibility in the Watergate affair, he essentially said that Mr. Nixon was above the law.

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