Many Americans believe that our country's education system is inadequate to the task of preparing our children for the future.
In recent election debates on education, we heard of goals and standards and of reform agendas, of choice and vouchers and accountability.
I recently visited Baltimore City's James McHenry Elementary School, in conjunction with a new after- school program being undertaken by the Learning Bank literacy center.
Your readers should know that amid the anxious national focus on education right here in mid-town Baltimore there is a school where "child-centered learning" is a reality.
An atmosphere of family and accountability is pervasive. At James McHenry the principal, teachers, staff including custodial and cafeteria workers, and parents are taking responsibility for the educational life of the school. All are accountable as professionals for the well-being and growth of the students.
At James McHenry, the individual child is celebrated. It seems that this school is on its way to raising standards.
Budget crisis bars purchase of park land
Given Maryland's Schaefer-created budget crisis, there is no excuse for the state to acquire additional park land at this time. No matter how funded, any additional land carries with it additional and permanently continuing costs.
While we are tearfully reminded how grave the state's needs are, the governor doles out goodies to his friends and tries to punish the wicked.
In a staged-for-television Board of Public Works meeting, he petulantly struck from consideration the acquisition of park lands in Baltimore County. In doing so, he chastised county delegation members who have opposed his spending as well as his efforts to pass on the budget crisis to local governments.
Maryland is not a candy store, and the governor's behavior brings into sharp focus his fitness to govern. He continues to seek a consensus for his efforts to pass his financial buck to local governments in the belief that they can be forced to raise local taxes, something that he cannot get any support to do at the state level.
The governor cannot face the fact that the budget crisis is his and not someone else's. The time has come to remind Sen. Mike Miller, the state Senate president, and House Speaker Clay Mitchell that they are the lackeys of one of Maryland's most unpopular lame-duck governors.
The greater their efforts to please the governor, the greater the threat to their own political careers and the more likely the next governor of Maryland will be any county executive who is willing to stand up and fight.
Edward J. Naumann Jr.
Having a mother in a nursing home who is suffering from advanced Alzheimer's, I find the Schaefer administration's latest assault on Medicaid to be another unconscionable example of the utterly ridiculous priorities in Maryland's government.
We have "light rail." We have a new stadium. . . . Now we have no money to help the helpless who have faithfully paid taxes for decades and expect a few crumbs from the table of a well-fed bureaucracy.
The notion that nursing facilities will "absorb" the costs shirked by the state is unrealistic and stupid. All that will happen is that operations deprived of funds from Medicaid will simply jack up the rates charged for private care.
In turn, this will deplete the more modest estates paying for such care, thereby swelling the Medicaid roles even more.
Maryland has become a place where the government knows only how to raise taxes, spend lavishly on frivolities and cause pain to those who can least tolerate it.
Perhaps the governor should mandate early death for anyone who cannot afford proper nursing care. Of course, the victims would have to pay funeral expenses if they collected Social Security, as we still need another stadium to allow millionaire athletes to ply their trade.
Ronald L. Dowling
Having just returned from a meeting of the National Association of Boards of Education, I am increasingly aware of something I think Marylanders should know.
I spoke with many board members from many states -- some elected, some appointed by their governor, as we in Maryland are.
The elected members told me of the costs of their campaigns, the many fund raisers they must conduct to pay those costs and their reasons for being on the board -- "a good first step to higher elected office." My private thought was, when do they have the time or the interest in the kids or their needs?
The appointed members from other states were strong political supporters of their governor, hefty contributors and always members of the governor's political party.
Governor Schaefer has assembled, in my opinion, one of the best boards in the country. He has not apparently cared about political party, contributions or allegiance, just what background, education and dedication one brings to the job.
I was particularly impressed by the latest appointment to our board, an outstanding choice who just happened to say that he has never even met the governor.
There is a political, gender, racial, religious, economic, educational and philosophical diversity on Maryland's board that produces dialog, disagreement, progress, consensus and action that will pay off for Maryland's students, teachers and taxpayers.
I think Governor Schaefer should be commended for the appointments he has made with one very clear and apparent objective -- better schools for Maryland.
The writer is a member of the Maryland State Board of Education.