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From: Jerry Gietka

Ellicott City

I am alive today thanks to the efforts of American Heart Association volunteers (and a very good doctor)!

Several years ago, I camehome from a meeting and just "wasn't feeling well." I lay down on mybed and began to sweat profusely. It felt like someone had put a hose in each arm and as someone turned the water on, my arms began to fill up.

Luckily, someone had sense enough to take me to the hospital almost immediately -- despite my vigorous objections. It seemed like they stuck things in me, gave me medication, and then asked me "chest pains?"

I was having a heart attack. Within 10 days, I had triple-bypass, open-heart surgery -- again despite my vigorous objections. Today, my doctor advises that I can go back to refereeing basketball if I choose to. I have been very fortunate.

February is designated American Heart Month by the United States Congress. It is dedicated as "thank you" month by me.

I would like to take the opportunityto express my personal appreciation to the many volunteers in the American Heart Association who annually conduct campaigns and programs to educate the community about heart disease and to raise money to fund the continued research efforts that saved my life.

AHA is supported entirely by public contributions. When an AHA volunteer asks foryour contribution, please give generously. Yours may be the next life saved.


From William C. Bryant


The piece by James Coram in your Jan. 19 edition (Howard County Sun, "Ex-homeless share raw message at affluent school") concerningthe "Voices from the Streets" appearance at Glenelg Country School gave a distorted view of the school to your readers.

As parents of two Glenelg students, my wife and I were disappointed by his portrayal of Glenelg as a school for the affluent. There is some affluence, as there is in the public schools. However, the majority of Glenelg students are from working families seeking a quality education for their children. As for the chic clothes and German-made cars mentioned inhis article, has Mr. Coram visited any public schools lately or, forthat matter, the streets of Baltimore or Washington?

While being judgmental of Glenelg and its students, Mr. Coram did not attempt to judge the explicit language used by the "Voices of the Streets" cast members.

Is it really necessary for fifth-graders to hear uncensored language to understand the problems of the urban poor? Our children are bombarded daily with violence and explicit language from TV, radio, movies and the print media. School should be a refuge from this onslaught.

Finally, it is apparent that Mr. Coram did not visit Glenelg's middle and lower school facilities, which are modest by public school standards. I suggest he return for a visit of the entire school, talk with the teachers and staff and observe classes in progressbefore printing further uninformed statements about Glenelg and its students.


From: Janet M. Sloan

Ellicott City

Public hearings for the school budget are scheduled for Feb. 11 before the Howard County Board of Education. As a taxpayer and parent of two preschool children who will be attending public school in the near future, I strongly oppose any tax increases to fund education. We are already overtaxed.

In public education, as in most government subsidized programs, a large percentage of our tax dollars support bureaucracy instead of the groups targeted to receive benefits.

I would like to know what percentage of our tax dollars actually supports teachers and classroom activities. I would like to know the administrator/bureaucrat-to-student ratio in both public and private sectors of education.

I say before considering raising taxes, cut bureaucratic overhead and use tax dollars to educate our children andpay our teachers, the people who truly influence student learning.

Before thoughts of more taxes are considered, a retrospective studyshould be conducted evaluating school budgets for the past 10 years.I want to know how much spending has increased adjusted for inflation and population growth, what money was spent on, and the overall impact on student performance.

Chubb and Moe, in "Politics, Markets and America's Schools" identify the highly bureaucratized and centralized administrative process of public education as expensive and the root cause of America's education crisis. They contend the system mustbe decentralized to promote innovation and restore creativity in theclassroom, and that decision making should be in the hands of teachers, principals, and parents. This approach has been shown not only toimprove student performance but with reduced costs.

Spending on education has increased at least 30 percent in real terms since 1980, while student performance steadily declined. Money has not solved theproblems of an ailing public school system. Although Howard County has an excellent reputation for educating students, the performance may not necessarily be related to dollars spent. Student motivation andparental involvement are things money cannot buy; both are crucial components influencing learning.

I want my children to have the best education possible. However, I also want to be convinced that my tax dollars are being utilized efficiently in the education process.

Before we conclude that further cuts to our school system will compromise education, we should consider ways to reorganize an expensive and inefficient system. Now is the time to break the spending habit, face reality and institute change through innovation.

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