Don't 'Scrap' It
Editor: I was disappointed to read the Sept. 19 report by John Frece that Gov. William Donald Schaefer had "scrapped the strategy of re-election campaign wrapped in good deeds and volunteerism."
I admired the governor's move away from campaign-as-usual tactics and believed he was at least giving some attention to better use of time, energy and money than the usual political game-playing.
One of the governor's strengths is his willingness to be innovative, and his courage to do things differently has gained my support even when I haven't always agreed with his plan. I think this campaign approach came from some very desirable motivations and hope he will work on improving the effectiveness of these new techniques, not "scrap" them.
Bills Are Due
Editor: It's time for Americans to grow up, to pay the piper. We have the cheapest gas in the world, we pollute five times more than any other nation per capita, we drive over-meaty cars frivolously here and there. So a tax on fuels is warranted. At least it affects all of us, not just the few.
Sure, it would be nice if the U.S. government would mind its purse the way a normal American family does; but since it hasn't, we have to help balance the checkbook. After all, this is the best place to live in the world and if we don't mind our budgetary manners, we'll all suffer.
By driving at 50 mph instead of 60, you can save as much as the 10-cents-per-gallon tax; by consolidating errands and trips, you can save as much again and be ahead of the game. By adding insulation to a house, or window insulation (interior storm windows, insulated shades), you can save one-third of your winter and summer fuel costs.
I don't mind the extra $1.20 per tankful. And we should all be tankful that gas doesn't cost more than $4 per gallon as it does in Europe. And think of the 200 cubic feet of air you foul each time you burn one gallon of fuel. Multiply that by 17 million barrels -- 714 million gallons -- used per day and you'll understand why the environment is such a mess. Take a deep breath: that breath contains 40 times more noxious poisons than it did 50 years ago.
James R. Durham.
Let It Fail
Editor: In regard to the budget bill, I believe it is time that all elected legislators remember that they are U.S. senators or representatives. For this bill, the United States is their constituency.
This bill is imperfect and it may be too late; it could have been enacted in 1980 or in October 1987, or even a year ago when it wasn't an election year. Members of the two houses couldn't, or wouldn't, put local pressures aside. And there are some big ones. When each representative or his agent spends several times his official income to be elected, there are bound to be commitments to interests of a parochial nature.
Perhaps I am overly concerned. Let the bill fail; let there be furloughs; let vital services go unadministered. Perhaps the nation won't be upset with its Congress, but I doubt it. I also doubt that many, if any, of our elected representatives will return that part of their pay in proportion to agency cutbacks.
To establish perspective for my pro-budget position, I am over 65, I drink a bit, I own a sailboat and my household income is below $50,000 per year.
Paul A. Gasparotti.
Editor: In your recent article describing National Health Care Day, you mention the often quoted refrain: The United States pays the most for health care of any industrialized country, yet we are way down in life expectancy and infant mortality. Therefore we need national health insurance.
The average life expectancy in the United States of 75 years is one or two years below some other countries. However, the homicide rate in the United States is 15 times greater than these same countries.
Similarly, while the infant mortality rate for the United States is more than twice those of some countries, the infant mortality among white babies is the same as these other countries. The poor rankings of the United States in life expectancy and infant mortality are not a reflection of poor medical care. Rather they reflect serious social problems which no amount of national health insurance will cure.
Editor: Judging from The Sun's reports, the governor's official hostess, Hilda Mae Snoops, has carried out her duties in a responsible manner. This has been reaffirmed by the recent report (Sept. 21) of her role in ordering new furnishings for the governor's yacht.
She is acquiring a sofa, love seat, carpeting, draperies and 12 dining room chairs for $9,360. This seems well within the bounds of prudence.
Moreover, her recommendation to replace the china place settings with plastic foam plates shows a practical approach that is reassuring. The Pentagon would do well to hire Mrs. Snoops as a purchasing agent.
Trade Schools Expand Opportunities
Editor: A recent editorial ("Trade School Shams," Sept. 16) paints a troubling picture of post-secondary vocational education.
While the editorial is correct in pointing out that some schools are guilty of unethical practices and should be closed, the editorial is dead wrong in implying that such practices prevail throughout the industry. Furthermore, the notion that trade schools are not acting responsibly in regard to student loan defaults is simply not true.
Last year, private career schools in Maryland served 78,000 students. The editorial surmises that these students were duped by false promises of federal financial aid benefits, that they were too naive or not smart enough to make an informed decision.
This stereotype of private career schools as a last resort for under-employed students is very misleading. Students choose private career schools because of the return on their investment: Nationally, more than 60 percent of private career-school students graduate, compared with 43 percent at community colleges, and 58 percent at four-year colleges. And, 81 percent of private career-school graduates are immediately placed in jobs within their chosen career field.
Private career schools provide an opportunity for students to receive specific career education that results in gainful employment. For many of these students, access to federal funding is essential to the continuance of their education. Although your editorial correctly points out that defaults on student loans are a serious problem, it implies that little is being done to reduce the number of defaults.
Serious efforts are under way to bring the default rate down. Congress enacted legislation in 1986 and 1989, and the U.S. Department of Education issued regulations in June 1989, to help curb defaults. Figures show default initiatives are beginning to work.
In 1986, The National Association of Trade and Technical Schools and other private career school organizations worked with the Career Training Foundation (CTF) to launch a major Default Management Initiative. The program is working and is a major reason why default rates among private career-school students have dropped more than those in any other post-secondary education sector.
The U.S. Department of Education's just-released report should also help reduce defaults across the spectrum of post-secondary education. It recommends ways for everyone involved with student loans -- students, schools, lenders, guarantee agencies and the federal and state governments -- to help to bring default rates down. Many of the recommendations are consistent with the CTF initiatives of 1986.
The National Association of Trade and Technical Schools is committed to reducing student loan defaults. As we tackle this difficult problem, however, we believe we must not compromise the ability of all students to get the kind of financial help they need. We must ensure that all students -- especially the very poorest -- have access to the kind of education that best meets their interests, needs and abilities.
A healthy student-loan program is essential for thousands of students to pursue the American dream of a good job and a secure future. Maryland's private-career schools are providing thousands to people with the skills necessary to build rewarding careers. It is vital to ensure the American work force has the skills needed to meet the economic challenges of the 1990s and the 21st century.
R. Wayne Moore.
*The writer is state coordinator of Maryland Skills 2000.