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Invest in children's future

From: Carolyn Matyas, Janet Gardner, Nancy Varner, Dorina Strickland

Public Relations Committee

Harford County Education Association

Bel Air

Once again the teachers of Harford County must accept the gauntlet of prying full funding for the education budget from the county administration. The money is available. Harford County will be receiving $10.3 million in APEX funds from the state.

The county executive has already slashed millions from the 1992-1993 Board of Education budget request. This will create an embarrassment or riches in the form of a huge surplus at the end of this fiscal year.

Revenue has traditionally been underestimated, while expenditures have been overstated. This surplus has been created by depriving teachers and other county employees of full salary for years.

Children have also been deprived when Harford County loses underpaid teachers who leave to find better opportunities.

We urge the County Council to break this vicious cycle of false economy and to invest instead in our children's future.

Concern over schools

Schools of last resort?

From: Kirk S. Nevin

White Hall

Have you ever wondered why so many families make substantial economic sacrifices to send their kids to private schools? Have you wondered, as I have, why so many of our best public school teachers send their kids to private schools, despite the considerable economic hardships involved?

Letters from two public school teachers, Tony Sarcone of Fallston and Jean Thomas of Joppatowne, "Long-suffering teachers" and "Schools need subsidies," The Harford County Sun, May 10, provide many clues to this puzzle.

Sarcone: ". . . the recession applies only to teacher salaries."

Thomas: "Right now, you [taxpayers] are getting more than you are paying for."

Sarcone: "Why should I be thankful that I have a job?"

This attitude -- a sad mix of arrogance and ignorance -- confirms my impression that the public schools have become the American educators of last resort. No responsible parent would subject his/her child to a Tony Sarcone if an affordable alternative existed.

There was a time when I was angered by the idea of public school teachers sending their kids to private schools. Sarcone and Thomas have revealed the sad truth -- the public schools are simply not a viable choice for responsible, caring families.

The old rules have not changed. A true teacher must be educated, alive, energetic, but above all, he/she must be compassionate, deeply caring, not only about her/his students, but for the affected community at large.

"Why should I be thankful that I have a job?"

That Sarcone can ignore, or be ignorant of, the homeless families, the hungry children, the many thousands of unemployed (both blue- and white-collar) during this deep economic recession, is something of a miracle.

That Sarcone can forget that battered women have no shelter, that homeless children have no dinner, that job training programs are non-existent, all so that very generous salaries and benefits can be maintained at pre-recession levels -- this goes beyond miraculous. This is just plain sad.

My apologies and my sympathies to those hard-working and appreciative public school teachers who understand the realities 1992 economics. Fortunately, the Sarcone/Thomas genre is but a vocal minority.

Firing hurts children

From: Don Potter

Edgewood

I wish to comment on the article "Rec council should lift ban on parent," The Harford County Sun, May 17. I am the husband of banned coach Cathy Potter and parent of two girls in the Edgewood Recreation Council cheerleading program. The decision by the county surprised nobody, as this situation is very political and certainly not about children.

The situation has overshadowed the many positive contributions that Cathy has made for the children of our community. Even the board couldn't overlook, and made reference in their decision, that "the reasons [for the coaches' decisions] may have been totally altruistic and made only with the best interest of the

children in mind." Cathy Potter is interested in children.

Cathy has four children, the youngest having a rare physical disorder. For many years, Cathy offered licensed day care to the working parents in our community. Upon the birth of our youngest child, she began pursuing a career in nursing hoping to specialize in pediatrics. Cathy attends school full time and works part time at a local hospital. That schedule might be enough for most people, but during her spare time she coaches the 6- to 8-year-old cheerleading squad, assists our daughter's Brownie troop, helps at the Joppatowne Recreation Council's Tot School, and manages our daughter's softball team in the same recreation council that banned her from cheerleading.

In the end, banning Cathy from cheerleading hurts only children. They will not be able to participate and interact with a very special person who is extremely knowledgeable of the sport.

My children and I are very proud of Cathy, and we'd like to thank the many parents, teachers and children who have called or sent notes of encouragement during this entire process.

Don't shortchange schools

From: Carolyn Matyas

Janet Gardner

Nancy Varner

Dorina Strickland

Public Relations Committee/Harford County Education Association

This is a time when almost everyone feels the economic squeeze. People have had salary freezes. Some have been furloughed and many workers have lost jobs.

In our culture, when times are tough, people take pride in themselves to look inward and find strength to live up to the adage, "the tough get going." We prioritize our needs and drop some things from the bottom of this list. This hard task involves difficult choices. Our students learn to make these basic economic choices as early as third grade. There is no mystery; this is something each of us must do daily.

Harford County, likewise, needs to make a list of priorities. We hope children are at the very top of this list. After the essentials of a healthy, safe life comes the right to and the need of a constantly improving educational system. This is essential so that children are ready to make sound decisions about their futures.

Some facts: Harford County is ranked 14th in the state in wealth, but 22nd in funding per pupil, and 21st in staffing per 1,000 pupils.

The education budget has never been fully funded in Harford. Teachers are one of the most educated groups of professionals, comparable to lawyers and doctors. There is ample money to restore the education budget this year without raising taxes. This includes funding.

The current economic conditions do not warrant cutting the top of our "needs" list. If we believe in the integrity of our educational system then we need to support it to the utmost. We urge our elected officials to use accumulated and all available resources to give our children the very best education and support. It is a decision for the future of each child and the future of our society. The backbone of a democracy is still an educated electorate.

Shelter is an abuse

From: M. Lewis

Parkville

The County Council must not have read reports, attended zoning meetings on fairly reviewed materials, including police reports, before handing down a recommendation April 7 to change zoning on a site near Fallston in favor of a special-interest group so they can build a shelter for abused and neglected children and teens.

This changes the zoning toward commercially oriented. This is a misrepresented plan to build a 60-bed institution on a parcel now zoned for two houses.

This has become a political issue because these representatives will not use good sense and logic, for fear of offending a large number of incorrectly informed "do-gooders."

Do they feel it is politically correct to sacrifice the long-established homes and health of the taxpayers of Harford Road and Reckord Road?

They are abusing the rights of people concerned about their own families and the health problems. Such a large institution should not be allowed to be built on this inappropriate parcel, which has water/sewage problems.

How would other homeowners react if they were told it would impact on their water/sewage value for only nine children from Harford County? The other 51 will be coming from Washington, Pennsylvania, Delaware, West Virginia and Baltimore.

The solution, as the community association members see it, would be to allow two group homes to be built to accommodate the nine Harford County children in home-like settings, instead of institutional living, which will do them more harm than good.

Why aren't officials and news papers investigating the best for both parties -- the nine Harford County children and the taxpayers? That is the duty of elected officials, not the 51 out-of-state children. Let their own states take care of them.

Don't sell out the taxpayers of Maryland.

Give them the church

From: Emma MacAllister

Bel Air

In The Harford County Sun of April 26, there is a story of the Asbury Methodist Episcopal Church being sold to the descendants of the church founders ["Church's latest struggle for its own survival"].

That seems a crime.

The Churchville Charge of the United Methodist Church should have a big heart and give the church to the community.

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