Balance the budget, reduce the debt
I take exception to your editorial of Nov. 18, "A bad idea whose time has come."
The American people want a balanced budget, which is the reason why the last two Congresses have had Republican majorities.
The only way to control the amount of the national debt is by including in the balanced budget each year a small surplus to reduce the debt. This is an idea, "whose time has come," because we have found out that the country can't borrow its way into prosperity any better than it could with trickle-down prosperity. Either scheme is voodoo economics.
We need to put our government back on a solid business footing with fiscal sanity to pay off the debt just like any other business. The savings in interest payments each year would become large enough to justify increases in programs such as Head Start, Medicare, Medicaid and cost of living increases for Social Security recipients and other retirees.
Failure to take action on the national debt, which can only be resolved with a balanced budget, will certainly lead to the equivalent of bankruptcy.
When the "full faith and credit" of the U.S. government is challenged it will only lead to repudiation of the debt or a devaluation of the dollar.
Either case will bring about economic chaos. The Japanese, who I understand hold a large portion of the debt, could simply say, "We'll take Yellowstone National Park as a settlement for what you owe us."
John G. Lacey, Jr.
Thank those who moved Constellation
In your coverage of the moving of the Constellation to its place of "reincarnation" at Fort McHenry, I have not seen sufficient reference to, nor appreciation for the generosity of, Vane Brothers, Charles and Duff Hughes and others in providing the tugs and expertise in effecting the move.
Hours of planning took place. To make sure this local company had its largest and most efficient boats available, the Elizabeth Anne (christened for wife/mother) was brought up from Norfolk, Va., and the Captain Russi from Philadelphia.
The whole operation was exciting and picturesque, and blessed by perfect weather. May the rest of the plans for the Constellation be as successfully accomplished in the next 31 months.
Marjorie L. Sutton
Abolishing tenure an attack on education
The news is that Baltimore County trustees for the community colleges have abolished tenure for faculty.
This is a shameful proposal under any circumstances.
It is especially so when it was approved by a governing board supposedly concerned about quality education.
The bottom line in business may have to be money. Thus, we are overwhelmed with reports of ruthless downsizing to reach that goal.
Will it work? Sensible people have learned that actions have short-term results and longer-term consequences.
Some business consultants, probably a minority, question whether wholesale firing of experienced workers at all levels except the highest echelons, will truly help profit margins beyond any immediate gain.
The bottom line in education has to be quality education, not money. It does mean getting the biggest bang for the money we spend. That translates into students being given the best preparation for work, for thinking, for living.
This is why they need good teachers. And the colleges will not have them with a faculty limited to one- or two-year contracts. Discouraging people from entering the profession is an attack on quality education.
I propose that we abolish the tenure of trustees who vote for such foolish policies.
Should parents pay for private schools?
Your Nov. 25 editorial, "An open mind on vouchers," was effectively answered by a short and to-the-point letter you printed on the same day from Mary M. Atkinson of Baltimore.
As she indicated, all parents "are entitled to a free public education" for their child. But, if they choose otherwise, it is their responsibility (and not ours) to pay the cost of their choice.
Using public funds to aid religious schools is a violation of the provisions regarding religion in the First Amendment to our U.S. Constitution. Thus, whatever the results of the Cleveland voucher experiment, it should not be replicated in Baltimore (or anywhere else for that matter).
Your editorial talk about the possibility of vouchers spurring public schools to compete for students assumes that these schools are somehow independent. They are not. They are ours and can be as good as we want them to be.
If the public schools in Baltimore are not as uniformly good as they should be, Mayor Kurt Schmoke surely shares some of the responsibility for it. If there are financial and other problems concerning the only schools under clear public control, we inside and outside Baltimore should do whatever it takes to solve those problems. I am more than willing to pay my fair share of the cost of so doing. But in no event should we surrender our responsibility to private parties or do anything like instituting vouchers that encourage any child to seek out a non-public education.
Those who want to indoctrinate the young in their religion or their private theory should be required to do so on their own funds.
Kenneth A. Stevens
I feel compelled to respond to Mary Atkinson.
As a Baltimore City resident whose child attended public school for both kindergarten and first grade and now attends a parochial school, I am disturbed by the views of those, such as Ms. Atkinson, who apparently have had limited experience with the public school system.
At the end of first grade, my son, who had been passed into second grade, tested at a below kindergarten level in all subjects and was becoming a behavior problem as well. The school declined to offer any remedial help because he "wasn't far enough behind yet."
My decision to place him in parochial school at tremendous expense was an effort to keep him from becoming one more angry, frustrated child, which I assure you, the public school system has an abundance of. He is now working at grade level after only one year of parochial school and is not a behavior problem.
Sure, my child is still entitled to a free public school education. But please don't fool yourselves into thinking that education would be "the best." It was not even adequate.
I resent so much of my tax money being used to prop up a system that for some children barely functions, when schools that are providing far superior education must struggle for everything they have.
Pub Date: 12/01/96