School YearOne of the reasons our children...


School Year

One of the reasons our children are not getting the best education is they do not attend school often enough.

Take a look at their schedule, and it would be quite a revelation to learn they miss four afternoons a year so teachers can evaluate them to prepare report cards.

The continuity of their studies is constantly interfered with, which would send the message to students that school isn't that important.

It also presents societal and delinquency problems when children are pushed out on their own without parental supervision.

On March 10 the school week was disrupted for something called Professional Studies Day: a day for teachers to assemble to hear speakers and have meetings for their benefit. Couldn't that be scheduled after school? And if not, why not?

The system seems unfairly slanted for the comfort of the teachers and the bureaucracy at the expense of the children. Teachers have the National Education Association. Who will represent the children?

Miriam Topel


Agnew Monument

Your very excellent article on the "forgotten, but not gone" Spiro T. Agnew served to remind me why I could never tolerate him, let alone Frank Sinatra.

In addition to his big-time transgressions, which fortunately ended his public career, he routinely committed other nefarious acts that should not be forgotten.

It was Agnew who was responsible for the monstrosity erected on the Gettysburg battlefield, the tourist tower that looms obscenely over the landscape.

It was Agnew in his fix-it political mode who interceded on behalf of the property owner and bludgeoned a weakling at the National Park Service to grant access over park land so that the tower could be built, for the profit of the builder, and the loss to historic Gettysburg.

Agnew has a special place on my list of dishonor, one he most certainly deserves.

I. B. Sinclair

Media, Pa.

Death with Dignity

Lillibeth Navarro's "The Doublespeak of 'Death with Dignity' " (March 10) makes it sound as if passage of the health care bills currently before Maryland's legislature would infringe upon her desire to dictate her health care when she was no longer able to do so.

The legislation would not deny her this right.

Many of of us, however, wish to indicate our choice of treatment in advance for such times as we are physically or mentally unable to make those decisions.

We all would like everyone to believe as we do, but that will never come to pass. However, no one should be denied the opportunity to determine his or her own course of action.

Jay Cherry


The writer is president of the Memorial Society of Maryland and Environs.


I was amazed to have been assaulted on the front page of The Sun (March 8) by a huge article devoted to the family of one of the alleged terrorist bombers of the World Trade Center in New York.

This showed exactly what is wrong with the media concentration on values and principles that concerns itself only with criminals' rights and crocodile tears for their horrendous acts.

I would have thought it more sensitive, more effective and of greater concern for the public to read about those families' reactions whose relatives were murdered by that bombing: A parent who lost a child, a spouse who lost a partner, a child who no longer has a parent. Where were their voices; why didn't anyone write about their grief; why wasn't the media concerned about their opinions?

Why do we concern ourselves only with the family opinions voiced on behalf of the criminals, while those of the victims' families are silenced?

And, now, perhaps, the American public can begin to understand why Israel had to expel the Hamas fundamentalists from its country.

Must Hamas terrorism run amok, bombing and stabbing more innocent civilians, before the American public finally becomes attuned to their irrational murderous attacks?

It was, therefore, of great importance that Greenspring Valley Synagogue hosted an evening, as reported in The Sun March 3, dedicated to Israeli families whose relatives had been hacked to death, shot or blown up by the Hamas killers. It was time to hear the victims' stories while the press concentrated only on the criminals who perpetrated these crimes.

Hopefully, the press, as well as the public, will understand that when confronted by this kind of horrendous viciousness, one does not respond according to Queensbury Rules -- neither do we concern ourselves with false tears shed on their behalf.

Chaim Landau


The writer is rabbi at Greenspring Valley Synagogue.

Another Trillion

If the Clinton plan of increased taxes and spending cuts is enacted, each year the deficit will be reduced from $350 billion to only $250 billion. In four years, another trillion dollars will be added to the national debt, currently $4 trillion.

What percent of the federal budget devoted to interest payments on the national debt must be reached before the alarm bells go off informing the world that the U.S. government is bankrupt and cannot meet its fiscal responsibilities?

Whatever happened to balancing the budget and debt reduction?

Barnett Berman


State Workers Got a Real Freeze

In case federal workers get too distraught about the pay freeze, I thought I'd take a moment to remind them that it could be worse -- they could be working for the Maryland state government. Here are a few reasons:

* State employees are coming up on their third year without a cost-of-living adjustment. How's that for losing ground? In addition, even automatic increments have been canceled .

* State employees are paid anywhere from 25 percent to 75 percent less than federal employees. Don't take my word for it -- check the salary of any 10-year state employee against his 10-year federal counterpart.

* We used to be told that the reason we made less than federal employees was that we worked a 35-hour week. Now we work 40 hours, with no increase in pay.

* Several years ago, the General Assembly authorized a Department of Personnel study to address the issue of low state salaries. That whole process has been deferred -- indefinitely (e.g., forever?).

* Most veteran state employees "top out" quickly. There are no longevity increases or any other incentives for veteran employees to perform well. In fact, the general consensus among state workers is that the state would just as soon see veteran employees leave so that it can hire new employees at starting salaries. Many state employees view state employment as a "training ground." Many of the best and brightest leave state service as soon as a similar federal job becomes available.

* State workers don't have a Steny Hoyer in the legislative branch to fight for them. In Maryland, politicians don't go to bat for state workers -- they clobber us for political mileage.

As a government employee, I think federal workers should be upset about the pay freeze. To their brethren in state employment, though, their situation doesn't look so bad.

Don Kumer

Shady Side

Warmongering Politicians' Sacrifices

If you had two sons and the elder was a struggling college sophomore and the younger was a happy-go-lucky gas station attendant on Main Street, which son would you choose to fight a war in a faraway land?

Probably an easy choice. Neither, of course.

Right now neither son is likely to think much about such a choice. But our government seems to be making plans to fight such a war. This is why young men need a spokesperson to stand up for them.

Every day we are bombarded with news about the horrors taking place in Bosnia. Just who has the obligation to do something about them? The governments of neighboring countries are loath to intervene, and for good reason. They know intervention has an extremely high price.

A few days ago, I was watching Senate hearings featuring a Bosnian diplomat seeking help from the U.S. The senator who was questioning him, one noted for his long-windedness, seemed to advocate military assistance.

He is in his late 40s and had a college deferment for the Vietnam war. He also has two teen-age sons, one in college. He appeared to be a warmonger with the assertive smugness of one who just knew his sons would be exempt. Would he be for military force, if he knew his sons would be subjected to serving in the military?

I think not.

I believe now is the time to let our leaders know that no American boys will fight in Bosnia.

This has the potential to be another situation where the influential duck any obligation and the unsophisticated and financially underprivileged go to fight and die.

When I hear these politicians and others talk about sending our young men into this quagmire, just what in the name of God are they thinking about?

I urge everyone who does not want to risk the lives of our youth to speak out against getting involved in Bosnia. We must all start by insisting that no one's son will be exempt from military service. This will halt most of the warmongers in their tracks.

If every son is subject to military service, politicians will only start wars that cannot be avoided otherwise.

James L. Holmgren


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