November 28, 2008

For universal access to early education

In "Hail to the educator in chief" (Commentary, Nov. 19), Kalman R. Hettleman failed to note a critical difference in the education platforms of President-elect Barack Obama and Sen. John McCain: In contrast to his opponent, Mr. Obama offered a firm commitment to education programs for children from birth to age 5.

For example, Mr. Obama's proposed Early Learning Challenge Grants would provide funding to enable states to expand child care programs and to move toward universal access to public pre-kindergarten education.

This dovetails perfectly with an initiative already under way in Maryland.

Maryland's Preschool for All plan, which was recently presented to the State Board of Education, provides a blueprint for universal access to pre-kindergarten education for all 4-year-olds.

Public pre-kindergarten education, which now serves about 35 percent of Maryland's 4-year-olds, has proved its capacity to provide children with a foundation for school success.

I look forward to working with legislators on both the state and federal level to make universal pre-kindergarten a reality in our state.

Steve Rohde, Baltimore

The writer is acting executive director of the Maryland Committee for Children.

Voters rejected Ehrlich's appeal

Richard J. Cross III outlines a plan to lead Maryland's GOP out of the wilderness ("Plotting a comeback in Md.," Commentary, Nov. 24). But without a compass or a message the party will still be lost.

Mr. Cross points to the Republicans' embarrassing loss of the First Congressional District seat without mentioning that the First District voted for Sen. John McCain for president, yet crossed over to repudiate the negative campaigning done by state Sen. Andy Harris and by former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. on Mr. Harris' behalf.

If Mr. Ehrlich's campaigning for Mr. Harris made him, in effect, the standard-bearer for Maryland's GOP, the message sent by the voters in the First District was very clear: Disciples of Newt Gingrich and of the type of politics he espoused will be increasingly marginalized.

Ironically, Rep. Wayne T. Gilchrest's best revenge may be knowing that he was exactly the type of leader the GOP now needs.

And the call now from many in the GOP leadership for the party to go further to the right should help ensure that the GOP's stay in the wilderness will be an extended one.

Tim Eastman, Baltimore

What GOP needs is a new set of values

In his column "Plotting a comeback in Md." (Commentary, Nov. 24), Richard J. Cross III suggests that state Republicans must ask "What can we do differently next time?" to make some kind of comeback.

Here is a suggestion to Mr. Cross, a former press secretary and speechwriter to former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.: Include in your speechwriting such phrases as: "human rights," "social justice," "economic justice" "single-payer health care" and "free college education" and end forever the arrogance, insolence, intolerance, cynicism and meanness with which the GOP has shot itself in the foot.

Gerald Ben Shargel, Baltimore

In "Plotting a comeback in Md." Richard J. Cross III leaves out some of the basic problems the Republican Party faces: For instance, that Republican ideas have been tried and haven't worked. We just cannot privatize everything, and trickle-down economics really doesn't work - and people now see these facts.

I have no problem with making government efficient. But handing it over to the rich does not seem to lead to anything but greed and chaos; witness our current financial mess.

Dave Eberhardt, Baltimore

Bishops urged voters to value life, not party

In "Catholic voters' shift" (Commentary, Nov. 16) Kathleen Kennedy Townsend and Patrick Whelan failed to get the facts correct.

The U.S. Catholic bishops did not urge the American Catholics to vote Republican; rather, they urged them to vote pro-life. Urging a pro-life vote was an endorsement of both Democratic and Republican candidates who are pro-life instead of pro-choice.

Nor are they correct about the heart of Catholic Church teaching. Jesus and the Eucharist are its heart, not "faithful citizenship."

Al Bankard, Baltimore

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