'Savage inequality'A free and adequate education is...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

'Savage inequality'

A free and adequate education is guaranteed the children who live in the state of Maryland. It seems that in every other subdivision students are also guaranteed free bus service to and from school. While the amount spent on students in Baltimore City is no nowhere near that spent in most other areas, bus service, at least, should be adequate.

What are Baltimore City and the state saying to students and parents when they make simply getting to school safely no longer a priority?

It is unconscionable that this city and state can so easily turn their backs on the youngest citizens, perpetuating yet another instance of what author Jonathan Kozol has called "savage inequality."

Joanne Giza

Baltimore

Presidential platforms ignore families

In the presidential campaign, there seems to be a missing ingredient. Very little national attention has been focused on the often overwhelming challenges faced by children and families in this country. The candidates are simply not addressing the deplorable social, education and health conditions that many children are experiencing.

Our PTA would like to see the presidential candidates put the need of children and families first in all policy decisions and initiatives.

We would like candidates to support passage of the Family Medical Leave Act, oppose school voucher programs or any proposals that would send public money to private or religious schools, add parent involvement as the seventh National Education Goal and adopt a national health policy that ensures universal access for all children, families and pregnant women.

Every parent, grandparent, uncle and aunt, cousin, community leader and everyone concerned about children should take a closer look at the records, the words and actions of the candidates as they relate to family issues. We should not be deceived by candidates kissing babies and visiting schools. We should examine the candidates' platforms, not their rhetoric.

The PTA wants whoever wins the race to the White House to put the needs of children and families first on the national agenda. That means before bailing out another insolvent corporation, before sending American troops to any foreign land, and before developing another offensive weapon.

The largest volunteer parent organization in the world, PTA, is putting candidates on notice: Place the needs of children and families first.

Ruth R. Rich

White Hall

The writer is president of the Norrisville Elementary School PTA.

Time for a shift

With the demise of the Soviet Union and with our uncontrollable budget deficit, support for government technology initiatives has evaporated.

It is time, however, that we realize there is no substitute for well financed and thoughtfully prepared government programs to develop new technology.

Over the years Republican administrations have concentrated on defense technology while neglecting commercial research. The private sector thus concentrated exclusively on defense, to the neglect of other areas of the economy.

Today, we have the best high-tech defense while our markets are flooded with foreign goods. The Japanese should not be blamed for selling us fuel-efficient and more maintainable cars when Detroit would not provide such improvements over the prior three decades.

The private sector is more cost-conscious and efficient, but it needs the lure of large funding. We can take advantage of this efficiency and weakness by opening up more civilian areas to new research and development grants.

One immediate step would be to increase funding for the Small Business Innovation Research program, to fund new products not mentioned in the solicitation but still judged innovative. This will make it possible to push forward on products not already conceived by the bureaucracy, because new inventions tend to be items considered not feasible by bureaucratic wisdom.

One major area that needs special attention is alternative energy. Under the Reagan-Bush administration, this particular area has been badly neglected. It is time we put American ingenuity to work on finding sources other than oil for the nation's energy supply. Oil can be used to produce many useful chemicals and plastics. It is too precious to be burned up going from place to place.

Soviet failure taught us the mistake of complete dependence on government planning. At the same time, we should also learn from successes like the Soviet space program, or their nuclear weapons program, which show how even a third-rate economy can produce impressive results.

When the government clearly establishes the goals and gives free hand to the scientists and engineers, results are achieved expeditiously. There is no capitalist monopoly on new ideas.

Kirt Bhatt

Columbia

School action plan

Your editorial "Equal Educational Opportunity" (May 17) points to the No. 1 priority in the state of Maryland. Maryland ranks sixth fTC in per-capita income but 21st in per-pupil spending on education and 23rd in teacher salaries.

The seriousness of this problem is not being addressed by our state's leadership. Most Maryland citizens are unaware of the disparities in per-pupil expenditures that continue to exist between wealthy suburban counties and the poorer subdivisions, especially Baltimore City.

Most citizens also are unaware of how deeply budget cuts affect school programs, curricula, teachers and children. Meanwhile our officials lack vision and courage in promoting a new course of action to provide quality education for every child in every public school.

Let us consider a new approach: A volunteer task force comprised of teachers, financial experts, the mayor of Baltimore and the governor, all working together to find creative solutions to make education more equitable and cost-efficient.

We need a plan of action to reform the education system that will enable Maryland's economy to prosper over the long run and improve the quality of life for all its citizens.

Paula Baziz

Pikesville

Hazard for cyclists

Signs should be erected on Howard Street warning motorcyclists of the danger of riding over the light rail tracks, especially when the tracks are wet.

An increasing number of cyclists are using Howard Street. It's only a matter of time before an accident involving a cyclist occurs.

Philip A. Thayer

Baltimore

You think you're an Aries? Guess again

It is bad enough that The Evening Sun prints a daily horoscope, but to print an article such as "Getting Astrologers' Help to Raise the Kids" (Accent, May 13) is appalling.

Kids have enough trouble growing up in today's world without being raised according to superstitious hogwash. The article is another example of the increase in belief in superstition and pseudo-science in the world and is symptomatic of the lack of understanding of science in today's society.

Skeptical Inquirer magazine has published the results of numerous studies and tests of astrology made during the past 15 years. These studies have consistently shown that astrology is bunk. The success rate of predictions that astrologers make is no more than could be ascribed to chance, and many times it is not even that good.

On top of that, astrology is completely without scientific basis and had its beginnings more than 2,000 years ago in a culture that was completely ignorant about the nature of the stars and planets.

Moreover, those who follow astrology say they are a particular "sign." What they mean is that the sun was supposedly in that sign (i.e., that constellation) when they were born.

Two thousand years ago, when the astrological conventions were set up, most people would have been born under the "sign" they thought they were born under. However, because of the precession of the equinoxes over the past 2,000 years, the constellations have shifted around the zodiac.

As a result of that shift, most people today are likely not even to have been born under the sign they think they were born under.

Assuming that each sign has an equal number of degrees around the zodiac (as astrologers do), on only 24 days of the year is the sun actually in the sign it is supposed to be in, and only those people born on those days have the sign they think they have. Those born on the other 341 days of the year actually have signs different from what they think they have.

To illustrate: According to astrological convention, the sun is supposed to be in Aries from March 20 through April 20. In fact, the sun does not enter the constellation of Aries until April 18.

Most of the time during this period the sun is actually in Pisces, so most of those people who think their sign is Aries actually have Pisces for a sign. Astrology is not only bunk, it is bunk that is 2,000 years out of date.

If people would read books on astronomy instead of astrology, they would find something considerably more fascinating, and they would have a better understanding of how they actually fit in the cosmic scheme of things.

David Persuitte

Arnold

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