Letters To The Editor

November 01, 2007

Finding new options for urban education

Baltimore spends more than $10,000 per student each year on education. For Kalman R. Hettleman to suggest that even more money is needed is preposterous ("Don't deny state's kids a quality education," Opinion

Commentary, Oct. 28).

The level of funding is adequate, and children around the globe receive a quality education for much less money.

As a society, we need to accept that far too many children grow up in dangerous and violent communities, with uncaring parents numbed by generations of welfare dependency, and that this has had an enormous negative effect on public education.

Our inner cities are in a shambles, and we now have fifth-generation welfare families for whom the education of their children is the furthest thing from their minds.

There is little we can do to assist such families that hasn't already been tried, and failed.

We should all recognize the social calamity that has resulted from the expansion of the American welfare state.

Rewarding those parents who have shown an interest in the education of their children is the way to solve the education problem.

Charter schools must be funded at levels equal to their public school counterparts. School vouchers must be available to all students seeking an alternate public school, charter school or private school.

It is not right, moral or fair to sentence some poor students to 12 years in subpar, violent schools.

We must afford them an opportunity to escape.

Diverting money from the middle class to the urban poor has been a losing venture for both parties, and a social calamity for our nation.

At some point, we need to explore alternatives, while we still have something left to fix.

Michael P. DeCicco


State must uphold promises to children

Thanks to Kalman R. Hettleman ("Don't deny state's kids a quality education," Opinion

Commentary, Oct. 28) and The Sun's editorial board ("Education politics," editorial, Oct. 30) for keeping our children's education in the forefront.

The funding commitments made by the legislature must be kept. Without a well-educated work force, Maryland's fiscal future will be dim and all the slot machines in the world won't save us.

My law firm represents children with disabilities throughout the state who are struggling to gain the skills they need to be independent.

As Congress noted when it reauthorized the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act in 2004: "Disability is a natural part of the human experience. ... Improving educational results for children with disabilities is an essential element of our national policy of ensuring equality of opportunity, full participation, independent living and economic self-sufficiency for individuals with disabilities."

The state must keep its promises to our children.

Ellen A. Callegary


Divisive dialogues waste tax dollars

Whether or not former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. was right in calling multiculturalism "bunk" is not my concern. However, as a taxpayer, I question why my dollars are being spent to conduct workshops with titles that include such language as "The Unbearable Whiteness of Being" and "Unpacking Christian Privilege" ("Was Ehrlich right about multiculturalism?" Opinion

Commentary, Oct. 30)

I am white, Christian and female, and I find these titles offensive and inflammatory.

It is news to me that I enjoy an "oppressor status" or that I should feel guilty for sins that I have never committed.

What is unfortunate is that Americans of European heritage are not speaking out against the damage the National Association for Multicultural Education might be doing to us and to our children.

R. N. Ellis


Law requires farms to manage waste

I'd remind readers of The Sun's article "An environmental game of chicken" (Oct. 14) that the Water Quality Improvement Act of 1998 requires by law that all farmers grossing as little as $2,500 a year or more or raising 8,000 pounds or more of live animal weight (six cows, for example) must run their operations using a nutrient management plan that addresses nitrogen and phosphorus inputs to the soil.

Each farm operation is unique, and a farmer does have flexibility to determine which tools he or she uses to meet the requirements of the nutrient management plan.

But while the farmer has the flexibility to select the option that best fits the operation, he or she must follow the nutrient management plan.

As the article notes, nitrogen levels in the Pocomoke River unfortunately have not improved since 1995. But many rivers in other areas across the state where there are no poultry operations and thousands fewer acres of farmland have not improved either.

Scientists indicate that the reduced nutrient flows caused by on-farm conservation practices often take 10 years to 30 years to have a positive impact on the nutrient levels in surface waters.

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