From: Patricia May
I am writing in response to Christopher Boardman's letter in which he states, "I was shocked and saddened to read that Christine Hagget, president of the Harford County Education Association, had to resort to physical violence to make her point" (The Harford County Sun, March 1).
I, too, am shocked and saddened -- that Mr. Boardman did not retain enough of his eduction to remember that one needs to be sure of his facts before shooting off his mouth.
Obviously, Mr. Boardman was not even present at the Harford County Board of Education meeting where this alleged physical violence took place.
If he had been, he would have known that in fact, Ms. Hagget calmly delivered a factual speech expressing the betrayal felt by teachers due to the board members bargaining in "good faith" and then changing their minds at the 11th hour. She capped off her remarks in a symbolic gesture bytossing a small bag of coins onto the table to illustrate this senseof betrayal. The fact that the bag inadvertently knocked over a glass of water in no way suggested to anyone present that this was an intended act of harmful aggression. There is no conceivable way that anyperson in the room could have mistaken Ms. Hagget's "bad aim" for physical violence.
As educators, we try to teach our students not toignore the facts for the sake of the sensational. Mr. Boardman obviously did not learn this lesson either.
What saddens me the most isthat this is just one more attempt to blacken the eye of the educator. As a teacher of nearly 20 years, I can honestly say that my love and enthusiasm for teaching remains untarnished for only one reason --the students.
In his letter, Mr. Boardman expresses "total disgust" with teachers' attitudes and states, "Teachers are treated well." He should have supported this premise with examples.
Mr. Boardman,in fact, teachers are not treated as well as you may think. For example, most people operate under the false notion that teachers are paid for their two-month "summer off." In fact, teacher are paid for the190 days they work. Many of us teach summer school or take on other part-time jobs to supplement our incomes and support our families.
In addition, I wonder if Mr. Boardman has a job where he must returnto work in the evenings to perform up to nine unpaid chaperoning duties. Can he leave his job place to go to lunch or make a quick run tothe bank? I can't. Is he required to spend a portion of his day sitting in a bathroom observing the activities of others? Having my weekends and evenings absorbed by grading essays, making lesson plans, andconstructing tests is something I bargained for when I entered this once-respected profession.
Having students call me in the middle of the night because they just got thrown out of their homes and have no where else to turn is also part of the deal. Being treated as a subhuman is not.
Mr. Boardman, you should also know that educators are aware that "times are tough." The fact that we are one of few counties who did not receive either a pay raise or a step increment, or that we rank 22nd in per-pupil spending in the state's 24 jurisdictions, is certainly bothersome. But the combination of refusing salary increases and then tacking on an additional four days to our work calendar is simply rubbing our noses in the mud.
We were also told thatif we even requested a raise, we risked the possibility of being further penalized by a reduction in the APEX fund.
I know "tough times," Mr. Boardman. I also know that the Harford County education budget was never fully funded even in the "good times." This aside, believe it or not, the pay raise is not the major issue for me, nor is it the primary concern for most of my colleagues. Salary increase is justone of the issues in this year's "begging session," otherwise known as negotiations.
Of paramount importance is the opportunity to be given the means to teach effectively and to prepare our students to face tomorrow. As teachers, we are tired of being the scapegoat for society's ills. When our children turn out badly, it is assumed that the teachers have failed.
Mr. Boardman proudly states that Harford County schools do not tolerate physical fights. Has he taken a look atschool policy recently? For example, Mr. Boardman, do you know that if a student is suspended for fighting or given 25 days suspension for drug use, that teachers must prepare material and allow him to makeup all work he missed for his misbehavior? What lesson is being taught here?
If this further shocks or saddens you, Mr. Boardman, thenI have done my job in educating you. It is we, the teachers of Harford County, who are shocked and very deeply saddened that a system which provides us the golden opportunity to touch the lives of youth is in itself destroying us. It is projecting us as "self-preoccupied" monsters. Most sorrowful is the fact that it is wearing us down to the point where the "best" of us are leaving the profession. Who will be left to teach our kids, Mr. Boardman -- you?
HICKEY THANKS VOTERS
From: Michael C. Hickey Jr.
2nd Congressional District
I would like to thank the voters and campaign workers for their
support in the primary election. I would not have succeeded without it. I now ask for everyone's support in the general election. Together, we can make a change, and now is the time.
Our government's policies and spending must be focused on creating jobs, promoting economic stimulation and growth, raising our living standards, protecting the environment and building and maintaining infrastructures.
We must also lift the burdens of the working families and focus on the concerns of those people who need a helping hand and not a handout.
What this district needs is good, positive leadership. It's time to get America back to work and to return us backto our former world prominent standard that "Made in America" means the "Mark of Excellence."
TRANFER TAX NEEDED
From: Bruce Wells
Community Coalition of Harford County
Within the last few weeks, there have been several letters published in the newspapers concerning a proposed 1 percent property transfer tax. The Community Coalition of Harford County has done an analysis of theissue, and we feel that additional clarification is essential for the public to comprehend the issue.
In the last year, Harford Countyhas lost approximately $6.25 million in state aid. Additional cuts of $3.1 million are planned. While the county government has done an admirable job of maintaining essential services, many crucial programshave been curtailed or cut.
Despite assertions by members of the County Council to the contrary, there simply are not enough sources of revenue to make a major difference. The bottom line is that HarfordCounty will have to become more self-sufficient.
One attempt to lessen the impact of the revenue shortfall is a proposed 1 percent property transfer tax. This tax would be assessed on property transfers in Harford County.
Unlike the myriad of taxes we already deal with, the revenue generated would be used for two specific programs. Halfof the revenue would fund agricultural land preservation in the county; the other half would fund school site acquisition or school construction.
These two programs are stated conditions within the enabling legislation in the Maryland General Assembly, House Bill 1481. This bill gives Harford County the option of utilizing the tax, only ifwe choose.
Stated exemptions include any property that is alreadyexempted from the state transfer tax, or any transfer of land subject to the agricultural land transfer tax. Additional exemptions are left to the discretion of the County Council.
Targeting the specificuses for the revenue produced is what makes the property transfer tax so unique. In most other cases, the revenue simple disappears into the abyss of the "general fund."
Many members of the Community Coalition of Harford County feel that county taxpayers have subsidized development in the county too long. Development needs to be held accountable for the costs it incurs to the citizens and the environment ofHarford County.
We cannot afford to be concerned about our quality of life only when economic times are good. As in our own lives where we strive to be self-sufficient, Harford countians, as a group, must pull together and take the bull by the horns.
This property transfer tax is but one small step toward that self-sufficiency.
Please telephone 838-6000, or write the Harford County Council, 20 W. Courtland St., Bel Air 21014, and convince them to take that difficult first step.
ON SECOND-HAND SMOKE
From: Kellie Knight
I would like to respond to a letter by Rob Myers, "A trivial pursuit"(The Harford County Sun, Feb. 23). I am totally shocked by the fact that Mr. Myers feels cancer caused by second-hand smoke is irrelevant. Perhaps he should visit a cancer ward in a hospital and see if the patients feel it is a relevant topic to protest.
Right now, Maryland is ranked No. 1 in cancer deaths. The ranking will remain No. 1 ifpeople do not take notice of the dangerous effects of smoking and decide to do something about it.
Our lobby against smoking in publicschools was not noble, but timely and necessary.
I do not disputethe fact that there are many worthy battles to fight, such as AIDS, homelessness and the economy. Mr. Myers failed to mention what productive steps he has taken on any of these issues.
Perhaps if people would spend less time criticizing the efforts of others and more timeworking toward making a difference, we would all benefit.
Also, Ican't think of a more "meaningful cause" than one which will benefitthe lives of every school student in Maryland, including Mr. Myers.
RUES LOSS OF GIFTED CAMPS
From: Darlene Papier
As agifted and talented student of Harford County's public school systemat Fallston High School, I look forward to the extra courses that are offered in the summer. Unfortunately, this year I was not given theopportunity to apply for a Gifted and Talented Summer Program because Maryland did not have enough money to fund these camps.
I find that difficult to believe! Yes, there is a recession, but cutting successful educational programs is not a step in the right direction to solving this problem.
In the summers of '86 and '87, I attended science courses at the Maryland Science Center. In the summers of '90 and '91, I was accepted at Washington College in Chestertown. All of these camps advanced my education beyond the capabilities of any schoolbecause of the specialized information and attention teachers could give me.
Students could work one-on-one with college professors and qualified teachers in a non-restrictive environment where all ideaswere welcome in the classrooms. Group discussions and projects were utilized daily to teach students to cooperate and work together.
These summer programs offer students the opportunity to take courses which provide techniques and information that schools cannot offer to their students. It is sad that such a successful educational program had to be sacrificed. If tax money is not justly being spent on education, then where is all the tax money going?
From: Frank W. Soltis
The New Jersey transplant, Councilwoman Theresa M. Pierno, D-District C, has introduced legislation to permit coach town houses. Is this the same Pierno who represented herself to the citizens as being against development?
Pierno said she went to other counties to see coach town houses and liked what she saw.
"What's nice is the roofs are sloped, so it's not as massive looking as condos," she said.
Who really cares what your likes and dislikes are? If I am not mistaken, Councilwoman Pierno, you were against the mall and all development.
Come on, Pierno, the election istoo far away to start giving in to special-interest groups.
I hope you don't take any more trips and find something else that you like. Let the citizens decide what is good for Harford County.
You ought to continue doing what you do best, being Council President Jeffrey Wilson's right-hand man. If he makes a sudden stop, you could end up with serious neck injury from following too close.
Is there any chance at all that you could go back to New Jersey and give them all of your political expertise?
CASSILLY SAYS THANKS
From: Joe Cassilly
I want to thank everyone who supported me in my bid for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate.
As I traveled the length and breadth of Maryland, I met many wonderful people who contributed time and money to my campaign for which I am sincerely grateful.
I am pleased with the results of the election and plan to continue to serve the citizens of Maryland.
THANKS HARKIN BACKERS
From: James D. Haney
I ran as a delegate candidate in the recent primary for presidential candidate Sen. Tom Harkin. Though unsuccessful, I still appreciated the votes I received.
On behalf of Senator Harkin, I extend my thanks to all who supported the Harkin campaign.
NO LENIENCY FOR DWI
From: Allen and Mary MacKnight
I would like to personally thank Alan Craver for his very objective coverage of all the driving under the influence and driving while intoxicated cases that he has reported in The Harford County Sun. Also, for his very complete coverage of what Harford County Mothers Against Drunk Driving has achieved in the last two years.
Craver has told all of the citizens of Harford County exactly what is happening in our court system to date.
Also, I would like to extenda very personal "thank you" to Mark Guidera for his column, "Judicial system must crack down on drunken drivers," The Harford County Sun,Feb. 23. It is about time that the people of Harford County are informed of the injustice regarding drunken driving sentences and what ishappening in our Harford County court system today.
Mary E. Phagan has six drunken driving offenses -- three DWI and three DUI offenses, all in a short period of time. Phagan did serve a 90-day work release sentence recently on one of the DUI offenses.
On this recent hearing for the other five offenses, District Judge John L. Dunnigan suspended all of Phagan's sentence. Just what did Phagan receive for driving five times while DUI and DWI? Hardly anything! Yes, she was ordered to obtain counseling and attend two Alcohol Anonymous meetings a week during her three-year supervised probation period. And the 3 1/4-year sentence and $4,000 in fines -- all were suspended by Dunnigan.
We (and our children) live every day with the death of our 20-year-old son to a drunk driver. The pain and grief we experience everyday is unbearable and although many people think time heals all, little do they know that we miss John more and more each day. The drunk driver who killed our son had "only three" drunken driving offenses.
When will our judicial system work for the victims instead of the offenders? When will the judges of Harford County give the sentence to the drunk driver, as prescribed by the laws of the state of Maryland?