Coordinating Commission Benefits Md. Higher Education
The role of state coordinating boards in higher eduction is worthy of debate, but James Fisher's fact-free ramblings in The Sun May 8 give argument a bad name.
He is apparently ignorant of what has happened in the state since 1988, when the General Assembly reorganized college and university governance and established the Maryland Higher Education Commission.
Mr. Fisher claims that costs have gone up due to state coordination. Actually, MHEC absorbed the responsibilities of three agencies, eliminating duplication and reducing spending on higher education administration by $4 million.
Moreover, MHEC's leadership in setting fiscal priorities for the colleges and universities has not only improved institutional financial planning, but has helped to ensure that the state's limited funds are spent on Maryland's highest priorities.
For fiscal year 1996, institutional spending requests totaling $74 million were trimmed to $23 million before MHEC submitted them to the General Assembly.
Mr. Fisher claims (without documentation) that state coordinating boards have "a leveling effect on quality."
Actually, MHEC has encouraged quality and diversity among Maryland institutions by negotiating detailed mission statements that clarify the unique role of each institution and serve as a baseline for evaluating their budget requests and program proposals.
Mr. Fisher also claims (erroneously) that it can take years to get a new program approved by the coordinating bureaucracy, and that unnecessary and duplicative programs abound at the institutions.
Actually, MHEC is required by statute to act on requests for new programs within 150 days, and unnecessary and duplicative programs have been significantly curtailed by the commission's program productivity reports, which have identified those with low or declining enrollment and degree production rates.
In response to these reports, institutions have already eliminated over 100 programs and inaugurated comprehensive reviews to evaluate others.
Of course, quality is the major responsibility of faculties and governing boards, whom Mr. Fisher implicitly denigrates by his charges.
Nevertheless, MHEC has made important contributions to strengthening the quality of higher education in Maryland, by establishing guidelines for institutions to measure and report on student learning outcomes and by issuing its annual Student Outcome and Achievement Report, which enable high schools throughout the state to evaluate and improve their college preparatory programs.
MHEC has also worked with the State Board of Education to develop long-range plans for reform of teacher education and to establish comprehensive early intervention programs to help at-risk junior and senior high students to obtain the academic preparation they need for college admission.
MHEC's major focus has been on strengthening public policies affecting access to higher education for Maryland citizens.
To this end, it has established fiscal priorities that have tripled state appropriations for student aid and doubled the number of scholarships awarded since 1988.
MHEC proposed and won approval from the General Assembly for the Scholarship Reform Act of 1991, which guarantees access to college for low-income students and provides new assistance for part-time students.
It has also strengthened the merit-based Distinguished Scholar Grants, thereby increasing the number of highly talented Maryland students who attended state institutions by 25 percent.
MHEC has taken the lead in establishing a telecommunications policy for Maryland under which colleges and universities are being linked by a state-of-the-art fiber-optic network.
It has approved a statewide policy for general education core curriculum that will allow students to transfer from one institution to another with a minimum of lost credits. It has also developed a more equitable funding formula for the state's community colleges.
These indicators of strengthened quality and accountability for Maryland higher education would hardly have been possible under Mr. Fisher's proposal to replace MHEC with "a non-funded council of presidents."
Charles B. Saunders Jr.
The writer is vice chairman of the Maryland Higher Education Commission.
Although not a commercial fisherman, I am outraged by Dale P. Dirks' letter of May 27. He seems to feel that recreational
anglers are the only ones who should have access to the resources of the Chesapeake Bay.
Commercial fishing is not an activity for "the short-term benefit of a few commercial operators." This industry supplies a reasonably priced, low-fat, high-protein food to vast numbers of Marylanders and others to feed their families.
Do these people not have as much right to a natural resource as anyone else? Or is fish to be reserved for the tables of those who can afford to own a boat, or hire a charter boat?
The Maryland Saltwater Sportfishermen's Association is in fact the selected few who can afford to engage in fishing as a hobby.
I am in no way advocating over-harvesting. There have to be limits, but limits that are scientifically worked out to ensure a sustainable level of harvest by all user groups, not just the select few.
In recent years, the Department of Natural Resources has made great strides in estimating the population of various species of fish and determining an acceptable level of harvest.
I agree that more needs to be done, to ensure that we will always have healthy populations of all the bay's species for the benefit of everyone.
What is not needed is any user group bashing another user group, or trying to corral all of the available stock for itself.
We could use more co-operation between the various groups, in promoting a continuance of the bay clean-up efforts (which are being threatened by the present Congress), assisting DNR with research and management tasks and working on avoiding conflicts between different groups through education and discussion.
3' Mud slinging is counter-productive.
There are those who wring their hands and fail to understand the Americans' fear of government. According to polls, the American people support term limits by 80 percent, and 23 states had already passed legislation to that effect. The Supreme Court overruled the American people and determined that term limits must be enacted through an amendment to the Constitution.
The American people overwhelmingly said that the United States should not bail out the Mexican government financially, and yet President Clinton used his executive authority to thwart the desires of the people. More than 20 states have passed legislation to allow private citizens to carry concealed weapons, and now gun control advocates intend to go to the courts to outlaw the people's desires.
The majority of the people said that the United States had no vital interest in Haiti, and yet the president used his authority to again thwart the people's wishes while also committing billions of dollars to the venture. The American people support a balanced budget amendment, and yet the Senate failed to pass such a bill.
Now we are considering sending thousands of U.S. troops to Bosnia, again against the will of the people with an undeclared mission that is vague and tenuous at best and stupid at worst.
Why is it that the majority of law-abiding citizens feel alienated from their government? The above examples contribute to answering that question.
The Best Care
Regarding the April 23 letter from Joyce Morris, I am so happy that she has had the good fortune to have health care providers whom she has trusted. Shouldn't we all have that right?
With health maintenance organizations that is not always the case. Most of the time HMO patients are not sent to "the best" in town.
Who is "the best" health care provider? "The best" is the person whom you have faith in, who understands and communicates well with you, who is knowledgeable about your medical condition and can prescribe a treatment plan that fits your lifestyle. That may be very different for different people.
I wonder how Ms. Morris would have felt if her HMO had sent her to an unknown health care provider. What if the outcome were not good? Would she have been left wondering if the outcome would have been different with the provider of her choice?
I am sorry that Ms. Morris had a bad experience with her mother's illness. There are both bad and good health care providers inside and outside of HMOs.
If Ms. Morris had a bad experience with a private physician, at least she would have had the option of seeking care elsewhere. Had she been in an HMO, she would not have had that option.
I respect Ms. Morris' right to seek care in an HMO. I would like the same right to seek care for my family with the provider of my choice.
The Only Race
I am sorry to see that the governor thought it necessary or desirable to veto the bill that would have included the word "multiracial" as an option on state forms that require identification by race. It's not that I regard the solution provided in the bill as the best one to a real problem, but it would surely be an improvement on the status quo.
It should be noted that the "multiracial" option bill had only 10 opponents in the House and none in the Senate. So the possibility of a veto override should not be dismissed out of hand and I would support such an effort.
I find it appalling that there are any state forms that require identification of individuals by "race." But, rather than adding the option of "multiracial," my solution would be to abolish the requirement for such racist and meaningless forms. We should discontinue the playing of dirty racist games with people. The implication that we can be bribed with any amount of money to continue playing such games is more than appalling.
When, every 10 years, the U.S. Census Bureau asks me to identify myself by "race," I write the words "HUMAN" every time and suggest that as an option for all others who agree with me that the only "race" is the human race.
Kenneth A. Stevens
What Men Are Good For
Hal Piper asks, "What are men good for?" (column, May 20). How clever he is to put me, a quasi-closeted feminist, in the position of defending men. What are men good for? His essay had me scratching my head. "What are they good for?" I asked myself, stumped.
I can earn my own money now, have found the secret to opening recalcitrant pickle jars and can hoist myself up on the counter to reach the cupboard's implacable top shelf. So what is a man good for?
When mine is on a conference trip, I get to sit at my desk working all day in stale pajamas, undisturbed by mealtimes and the cheerful order imposed by his classical music station. The same entree of take-out Chinese food, right from the soggy container, cold, serves as meals for three days.
I have seen some women make of their men whipping posts, pointing to them for everything wrong from lack of economic status to the worn tires on the car.
Oh, I still find crumbs on the counter, milk glasses ringing the furniture and I trip over shoes in the dark, but during conference week, my disgusted sign can't be for anyone but me.
Perhaps the problem is that men are good for making women into their opposites, into what they themselves are not or do not want to be.
It no longer washes to tell us that "in biologically ordaining women to be mothers, God also ordained them to be housewives," as my father -- who has never done a dust mite's worth of housework -- informed me this past Mother's Day.
Perhaps even in a society just beginning to provide women equal opportunities, men are no longer good for anything, the column helped me conclude, unless we discard the old dichotomy defining relationships.
I don't want to "tame" the "wild animal" of a man I have "captured" in marriage, except, maybe in the bedroom; too, I would like to be in need of taming sometimes.
But no longer are men one thing, and women the opposite balancing force. I can assure you the innocent forced belches of Cub Scouts are no more disgusting than the utterances of women describing their problem periods.
So what are men good for? I have known only one man intimately enough to say, but I want my man for more than just the four-bedroom colonial two paychecks afford. I want him for so much more, even, than to share children with me. I want him for himself.
Nights I can't sleep, it is his whisper that re-assures, "Stop worrying, things will work out tomorrow."
I want him to share my victories because he understands, the way no one else can, what it means to have succeeded at something I've been miserable about failing at before.
It's not plush carpeting or crown molding that makes my home; he does and the angle of his shoulders when he walks in the door, his power tools jetting over classical music.
At the airport, when I pick him up from conference week, it's his face among those of strangers' -- tall, dark, light, bearded, clean-shaven -- it's only his face on which I can read so deftly the incalculable total of what I am, and what he is, and what we are together as I throw myself about him despite the crowd.
But that's all cornball stuff now when a jaded, "I-can-swim-on-my-own" sophisticate is the thing to be. Problem
is, to me that sounds awfully lonely.
As Macedonians See Greece
In response to the two letters May 20 under the headline, "Why Are Greeks Offended by 'Macedonia,' " allow me to share with you why many Macedonians are offended by Greek nationalism. I am second generation Macedonian . . .
Although I never had the opportunity to meet my grandparents, as both died before I was born, I know something about their lives in Bitola from stories retold by my mother and her brothers and sisters.
My grandparents, who left their homeland long before Tito came to power, spoke a language called Macedonian and referred to the region from which they came as Macedonia. They never referred to themselves as Bulgarian.
The reference in both letters May 20 that Tito decided to name the area Macedonia, for seemingly no logical reason, is simply untrue.
My grandparents fled their home reluctantly because of repeated invasions by the Turks.
Historically, this area of the world had been a battleground between the Turks, the Bulgarians and the Greeks.
The region from which my grandparents hail is now and has been, at least in modern history, poor and militarily unsophisticated.
It is only fair that Macedonia should be able to retain its name as an independent republic. The Macedonian region, as Michael Kostinos points out in his letter, does extend across the border into the former Yugoslavia.
Like the Greeks, my grandparents were Christians. Their culture and their native cuisine were probably more similar to the Greeks than to the Bulgarians, or for that matter the Croatians or Serbs with whom the Macedonians were once united in the former Yugoslavia.
The location of their home, Bitola, is closer to the home of Alexander the Great than the towns from which many Greek Macedonian Americans hail.
The difference is that my grandparents spoke Macedonian and referred to their homeland as Macedonia. Greek Macedonians are proud, with many good reasons, to say they are from Greece.
However, the importance of Macedonia as a region of Greece has only become critical to Greeks since the break-up of the former Yugoslavia.
OC The new nationalism of the Greeks on the issue of the naming of
Macedonia is offensive to myself, my family and, interestingly enough, to most Eastern Europeans, who have no sympathy for Greece on the issue.
As Robert D. Kaplan wrote in his acclaimed 1993 book, "Balkan Ghosts," "When Greece demanded that Macedonia change its name in order to receive official recognition, the rest of the world laughed."
I am a strong supporter of Sen. Paul Sarbanes, but I am disappointed and saddened by his point of view on the issue. I hope that, in the end, President Clinton will not be similarly
swayed by the Greek-American lobby.
I know many of our European allies do not concur with the Greeks' hard line on the issue.
I hope that one day I will be able to say freely, without contributing to Greek paranoia, that my grandparents came from Macedonia.
They did not, nor do I, claim Alexander the Great as a forefather. Yet the fear that others will make this claim is one of the primary reasons why Greek nationalism has re-emerged.
It is time to move forward from ancient history. It is time for the Greeks to come to terms with the fact that the people of the former Yugoslav republic consider themselves, above all else, Macedonian.
The United States should recognize and celebrate the founding of the Republic of Macedonia.
This historically embattled country should be allowed, for the first time in its history, to be free to begin to seek prosperity.
Mary A. Burkholder