Prison for Peace
Editor: Although there are many who will disagree, I admire Dr. Yolanda Huet-Vaughn for her courage in speaking out against war by refusing to report for duty in the gulf.
Her views are shared by many Americans -- doctors, peace activists and many other citizens (although those who supported the war, including President Bush, may see them as "only a few voices").
I am saddened for Dr. Huet-Vaughn and her family. Two and a half years in prison is more than many people get who commit less courageous and more destructive crimes.
'Laszlo Trazkovich, M.D.
Writing To Read
Editor: We're appreciative of The Sun's attention to the results of the Writing To Read program for Baltimore City's first graders, but we do wish to clarify two points of information in William Salganik's Aug. 18 Perspective article.
First, the University of Maryland Baltimore County study cited in the article was not the evaluation of Writing To Read results that showed a greater gain in reading scores on the Comprehensive Test of Basic Skills among city first graders using Writing To Read compared with similar first graders who did not use the program. That research was done by the Baltimore City Public Schools Office of Research and Evaluation, and that measure was the evaluation on which the "pay for performance" contract was based. The UMBC study done under my direction examined the implementation of the Writing To Read program.
Second, the $38 million cited is the installation and operating costs over four years for both Writing To Read centers and other computer labs in all 125 Baltimore City elementary schools. Using the article's figures of $30,000 to equip a WTR center and $30,000 per year to run it, and extrapolating from 42 WTR centers serving about 3,600 first graders in 38 schools to an additional 80 to 85 WTR centers, we estimate an upper total of 127 WTR centers for 9,900 first graders. With installation costs of each for 85 WTR centers ($2,550,000) and operating costs of $30,000 per year for 127 centers for four years ($15,240,000), the four-year cost of near $18 million is less than half of the $38 million cost cited in the article. The remaining $20 million is the cost of other computer labs.
Gilbert R. Austin.
The writer is director of the Center for Educational Research and Development, University of Maryland Baltimore County.
Editor: As a longtime subscriber to your paper, I feel that I must add to Barry Rascovar's comment that "politicians aren't lighting the skies with fireworks." Well, that is about the only thing they haven't done in the First District.
City Council incumbents have super-saturated the First District with bumper stickers, hats, T-shirts, lawn signs, window signs and jury-rigged standards with their names. Billboards are in evidence from upper Belair Road to Key Highway. Cable television spots are continually interrupting our viewing pleasure.
The lack of voter registration drives on the part of the incumbents is part of a historical fact and a ploy that the "ins" thrive on -- "why change the status quo?"
The anti-incumbent atmosphere that is still with us will surely backfire on those who think we are in a stupor. Lots of luck to the challenger who took time out to register voters.
William J. Pappas.
Editor: That things have to get worse before getting better is amply demonstrated by the privatization of the Charles Hickey School. The services as outlined by the new management, with its emphasis on treatment and rehabilitation, sounds promising. Particularly gratifying is it after-care program for those discharged.
This program is what should have been adopted by the state years ago. In its earlier days the Hickey School and its female counterpart, Montrose, were populated with youngsters judged incorrigible, runaways or habitually truant. As behavior problems became more serious -- assaults, burglaries, vandalism -- little change in programs occurred.
Despite pleas from juvenile authorities for increased funds to meet these new challenges with an upgrading of facilities and better trained and adequate staff, budgetary authorities turned a blind side to such requests.
Instead we permitted Montrose to slide into oblivion. Many problem youngsters were consigned to out-of-state institutions at astronomical purchase-of-care rates. Others were confined to Hickey School with its inadequate program and an underpaid staff unable to cope successfully with the increased pressures by the more aggressive and hostile youngsters under care.
Now that things have gotten worse, hopefully we can look forward to their getting better.
Editor: I could not allow a letter by Louis Denrich (July 28) go unanswered. Mr. Denrich foolishly suggested that the reason General Dynamics did not locate its headquarters in Maryland is because of unions.
However, General Dynamics is no stranger to unions; most of its manufacturing plants are organized. The real purpose of its move was not to get away from the union but to be close to Washington for lobbying purposes.
Unions do not destroy companies. Management destroys companies. Look at the S&L; crisis or the problems that the banking industry is having. Also, big companies like IBM and Unisys are laying off thousands of workers, and they are not union. These are not unionized industries, but maybe they should be. After all, companies like Westinghouse or Martin-Marietta are doing well, and they are unionized.
No, what Mr. Denrich failed to mention in his letter is that workers in his company ( Valu Food) are being asked to join the union, and he resents that. But you have only to look at the Giant, Safeway or Super Fresh stores to see clean profitable stores with courteous workers. And these companies are union.
Ernest R. Grecco.
The writer is president of the Metropolitan Baltimore Council AFL-CIO Unions.
Editor: The National Aquarium is 10 years old. Now that it has attracted 14 million visitors and adds $130 million a year to the economy of Maryland people have stopped referring to it as "Schaefer's fish tank."
The aquarium is only one part of the incredible legacy William Donald Schaefer will leave the people of Maryland. How very fortunate we are to have the services of a man with his imagination and vision.
Gary C. Hoy.
Editor: In his Perspective article Aug. 11, Carroll County Sun reporter Greg Tasker states, "I haven't heard one good reason against mandatory recycling or deposits on cans and bottles."
Unfortunately, recycling has fallen into one or the other of two exclusive camps so prevalent in social movements: voluntary participation or government mandate. Within these two camps efficient recycling is trapped between a rock and a hard place.
On the one hand, voluntary action fails to convince the majority to cooperate and burns out those who staff the local collection centers. On the other, government sets inefficient recycling levels for some kinds of waste that can only be absorbed by subsidization.
Ironically, government provides disincentives to recycle by sheltering the public from the direct costs of garbage collection. If each household contracted with a company directly instead of paying the government to hire refuse haulers, both parties would gradually acquire the incentive to recycle. Garbage haulers seeking to squeeze more profit out of their commodity would be tempted to seek out methods for recycling waste starting with the most efficient kinds (e.g. aluminum cans). A progression to other products would occur only as more efficient processes lowered costs and boosted demand. Households would be encouraged to throw away less by being charged for volume of garbage collected and by being given discounts for separating those commodities of greatest value to the hauler.
Governments seem to find sense in this way of thinking. Increasingly, they are turning to private market concepts -- such as volume pricing of services -- to encourage citizen participation through the ethic of intelligent self-interest. Far from indicating a need for an increased government presence in waste disposal as Mr. Tasker desires, the infiltration of market ideas whittles away at the justification for continued government involvement in the delivery of refuse services.
Unfortunately, the bureaucratic priority of preserving governmental authority over those services will probably ensure that the citizens will reach an efficient level of recycling by the long route.
William S. Spicer.