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TCRedistricting Plan Perpetuates UnfairnessRecently, a close friend...



Redistricting Plan Perpetuates Unfairness

Recently, a close friend who lives in Swansfield, Columbia, related that as she was driving down Centennial Lane past the brand new Burleigh Manor Middle School, her young daughter )) pressed her nose against the window and wistfully asked: "Mommy, how much does it cost to go to that school?"

On March 23, the Howard County Board of Education chose a redistricting plan which perpetuates the large disparity among Centennial, Wilde Lake and the new Trotter Road high schools by sending Longfellow/Beaverbrook/Hobbits Glen to Wilde Lake and Dorsey Hall to the new high school.

Only one board member, Sandra French, seemed to understand the importance of the issue and supported Alternate Proposal No. 1, which would have sent Dorsey Hall to Wilde Lake and the Swansfield community to the new school.

The plan adopted by the board does not even alleviate the overcrowding at Centennial High until 1996, which was the board's publicly stated concern. The board is also in error in insisting that there are not major differences between the minority population distribution and test scores of the two plans. The facts reveal otherwise.

As a Longfellow resident, I will be sending my four children to Wilde Lake High School under either proposal. I am proud that they will be attending a multi-cultural and diverse school, just as I am proud of the response by the Wilde Lake High School community to this redistricting fray. They have demonstrated their commitment to equality, and to quality education.

However, I remain concerned that under all of Associate Superintendent Maurice Kalin's proposals, the African-American population at Centennial High is reduced to under 3 percent. In addition, the board's refusal to send the large minority population of Swansfield to the new high school is indefensible. It certainly would not prevent these children from participating in after-school activities. Swansfield is far closer to the Trotter Road school than Dorsey Hall.

Nor can the board continue to argue that busing students from a neighborhood with subsidized housing is detrimental when they propose busing Dorsey Hall students, from the upper end of the socio-economic scale, all the way to Trotter Road. . . .

As a 1974 graduate of Wilde Lake High School (part of the original "Wilde Bunch"), I have no doubt that the Longfellow community working together with the current Wilde Lake High School community will restore this school into the "crown jewel" of the region.

The only percentage important for us now is for Wilde Lake students to know that we are 100 percent behind them. So I have taken my letter sweater out of mothballs, dusted off my basketball and told my children how proud I am that they are real Americans whose lives will be deeply enriched by the diversity of Wilde Lake High School.

Rachel E. Pappafotis


Stump Dump Highway?

Looking at the map accompanying the article in The Sun April 16 about Granite's worries, including a fear that the State Highway Administration could move forward with a plan to extend U.S. 29 north from Howard County to Owings Mills through Granite, one can only hope that should this catastrophe occur, the highway administration will do us all a favor and extend U.S. 29 -- as the crow flies -- cutting straight through James Jett's stump dump.

Lucille C. Kerns


Waco Aftermath

I am really upset with the people who our blaming our government for the so-called tragedy in Waco, Texas.

I think the only thing wrong with the operation was that they took so long to make a move on the compound. David Koresh was just toying with the government . . . He cost us millions of dollars in taxpayer's money and, for what, so he could kill himself and the rest of his cult? . . .

People are whining about the poor children in the compound and how they were killed in the fire. I feel bad also but the children's parents made a decision to keep them in the compound . . .

Morgan Kershner

Ellicott City

First Smoking, Then What?

Living in the "Free State" has been quite an experience. When I relocated to Maryland a year and a half ago, I enthusiastically embraced the thorough exploration of the land, culture and history of my new environment.

It was a joy to discover the many facets of Maryland, Howard County and Columbia. I was a neophyte. I observed and I read and I learned. I was also shy about interfering in what I did not know about, or speak out about something with which I had not had experience. No longer!

After following C. Vernon Gray and the County Council hearings on the local cable channel, as well as The Sun's coverage, there is one in particular that must be addressed: C. Vernon Gray proposes to make all of Howard a smoke-free county.

Restaurateurs take heed. If he has his way, you will lose business. Howard County is not so large that it is difficult to travel to another area to have a memorable dining experience. As it now stands, there are plenty of restaurants that offer separate rooms for smokers and non-smokers.

With adequate ventilation, no one has to breathe cigarette smoke, although cooking aromas and by-products can be quiet noxious. Where are the studies done on these? Do any of you know how bad the emissions from that candle at your table are? How about that trusty wood stove or fireplace? You and I are forced to inhale dust, car emissions, methane gas, disinfectants, infectious omissions (coughing and sneezing) on a daily non-controlled basis. Smoking is not the best thing in the world, but it is not enemy number one of the public.

Most of us "smokers" do not want to impose our failings on anyone else. We are trying, but we are not criminals. It is truly unfortunate that a compromise cannot be reached. . . .

C. M. Matthews


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