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People's CultureEditor: Museums are not owned by...

People's Culture

Editor: Museums are not owned by a mysterious board of trustees or exalted Ruxton matrons.

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Rather, cultural institutions are the property of all people -- the ordinary Jane and Joe who, along with their children, enjoy the rich heritage and educational opportunities safe-guarded by hard-working, under-paid professionals.

Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke's plan to cut the funding for the museums and zoo would drive a stake through the soul of Baltimore City.

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Nicholas Glyphis.

Baltimore.

Project Rachel

Editor: In his skepticism about the frequency of post abortion stress (PAS), Rev. Matthew McNaught seems to criticize the Catholic archdiocese for starting Project Rachel, a pastoral ministry for women experiencing PAS. For years the Catholic church had shunned and condemned women who had aborted their children. Now that it is finally opening its heart to these women, let us all commend the church and Project Rachel.

Reverend McNaught misrepresents Dr. Everett Koop's findings on PAS. He states that Dr. Koop claimed that PAS is a statistically insignificant event, and therefore by implication that Dr. Koop would disagree that PAS even exists. In his memoirs, Dr. Koop describes his frustration and inability to obtain unbiased data from either the pro-life or pro-abortion side of the debate. In the middle of this temptest, Dr. Koop said that he found "as much evidence of positive effects of abortion on women as negative." In other words, PAS may actually occur in one-half of the women who have aborted.

What Dr. Koop did state was that scientifically valid data supporting either position on PAS was not available without great cost, $10 million to $100 million by his estimate. He knew that the Reagan administration was not about to pay that tab for limited political gain and left the ill-conceived study without making any conclusions.

Reverend McNaught rests his thin case for abortion-on-demand on the statistically minute cases of pregnancies resulting from .. rape and incest, and the even more unlikely proposition that God, the creator of all life, condones the taking of life for matters of convenience, as is without a doubt the reason most abortions are performed. He equates sovereignty of the body to the sovereign will of God, and so confuses religious freedom, a man-made concept, with God's will for mankind.

Isn't choice prior to conception a more reasonable and compassionate option? And come November, let us also remember that family planning exists outside of the womb, and fathers and parents also have both responsibilities and rights in this awesome choice, which is always a choice between life and death.

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Peter Lucas.

Baltimore.

Baltimore County School Danger

Editor: I was most distressed to hear of the decision by the Board of Education of Baltimore County regarding its choice for a new superintendent of schools.

The appointment of Stuart D. Berger is, to me, a genuine mistake and one for which the teachers and children of the Baltimore County schools will eventually pay a dear price.

As an educator in Frederick County, one of Dr. Berger's former employees, and as a parent of children about to embark on an educational career in the Baltimore County school system, I have serious reservations.

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I was fortunately able to survive, along with many of my colleagues, Dr. Berger's reign of terror over the Frederick County school system. He is no advocate of educators and as such I believe he is no real advocate of our children.

While the decrease in morale among the teachers in Wichita, Kans., was lowered during Dr. Berger's administration, I am sure, as a victim of such mismanagement, it could not have been any worse than the ill-feelings that were in place in Frederick County schools during his iron-handed rule. It is possible the same thing will occur in Baltimore County.

Did anyone within the Baltimore County school board communicate with their counterparts in Frederick County? Having made a decision such as this, I think even if they had, they spoke to no one who was willing to speak the truth.

A candid conversation with the educators of Frederick County, the best in the state with the test scores to prove it, would have yielded real information about the man Baltimore County is about to have to endure.

Now, as a parent of my own children, I am even more concerned, as I feel all parents of children enrolled in the Baltimore County public school system should be.

#James D. Fitzpatrick Jr.

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Catonsville.

Tax Any Name

Editor: Contrary to David Falk's Feb. 6 letter, I did not mislead anyone about the commuter tax.

If the proceeds of the tax are distributed on the basis of wages earned in a particular county or Baltimore City, if the individual commutes daily to a work site and if that is his or her only connection with the county or Baltimore City, then you may call it by any name but the tax is a commuter tax.

My concern is that if we have a commuter tax within the state of Maryland, how can our congressional delegation have any credibility in trying to convince the U.S. Congress not to permit the District of Columbia to impose a commuter tax which would cost the Maryland treasury well in excess of $200 million?

Louis L. Goldstein.

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Annapolis.

The writer is the state comptroller.

Foster Care: Disappointment in the News

Editor: I had to write and express my disappointment over the lack of objectivity in your Feb. 8 story about the foster parents who had their children removed from their home. My wife and I are among more than 100 families licensed by Associated Catholic Charities Specialized Foster Care. We have participated this program for nearly three years and have found it to be well managed and very professional in all aspects. It is very effective in the treatment of special-needs children. We have witnessed it RTC for ourselves in the lives of several children.

The foster parent you interviewed, Mrs. Fernekees, made a commitment when she joined the program. All commitments require a degree of responsibility and a commitment to this program is no different. Her responsibility required her to keep the health history of the children placed in her home confidential. She is not supposed to discuss it with anyone.

She apparently did not understand this, as she referred to the twins' history several times.

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She also was required to attend monthly in-service sessions. I attend these regularly and can tell you that in the six months Mrs. Fernekees was in the program, she only attended once and then she was more than an hour late. The program lasts only 90 minutes. Had she attended more frequently, she would have known that HIV positive children do not necessarily have the AIDS virus, as she so irresponsibly reported to your paper. In fact, a large percentage of these HIV children shed the virus and are no longer at risk.

The financial issue is one that Ms. Fernekees clearly does not understand. The amounts of the monthly payments she quoted to your paper are wrong. Additionally, the amount of monthly payment for care was clearly explained to her at the time she joined the program, as it is explained to all foster parents.

Your article stated that Marcia Frezza, director of the program, refused to comment. Ms. Frezza is bound by confidentiality laws that forbid the discussion of a child's case with the public. Your article should have stated that. Mrs. Fernekees feels that the children were removed because she and Ms. Frezza had a "personality conflict." I have known Ms. Frezza for more than two years and I can assure you that neither she, nor any of the staff, are so petty as to put their personal issues above what is best for a child. Ms. Frezza is a true professional who shows tremendous commitment and makes very sound, informed decisions.

This is the first child in the history of the program who ever had to be removed from a home without the foster parent's consent. It is a decision that is not made arbitrarily, but is made in consultation with many other agencies and individuals. While not wishing to cast aspersions on the character of Mrs. Fernekees, there certainly must have been some good reasons for this drastic action to have taken place with the approval of those other agencies.

Finally, this article has given this wonderful program a black eye that it does not deserve. I would ask that if you really want to see what this program does, come talk to some of the more than 100 licensed families who participate in it.

Michael A. Plank.

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Baltimore.


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