Budget increase for schools falls far short...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Budget increase for schools falls far short of needs

Howard County Executive Charles I. Ecker's proposed increase of $11 million over last year's Department of Education budget is woefully inadequate to meet the needs of a county that has the best school system in the state and whose citizens expect this standard to be maintained.

The maintenance of effort to meet the increased enrollment in the school requires $7 million more than this year's budget provides. The negotiated agreement for teachers' salary increases requires an increase of $8.8 million (including benefits). The $11 million proposed increase does not even fund these two items without cuts in existing programs.

At all of the public hearings that were held by the Board of Education and the county executive, many citizens stood up and pleaded for funds for teacher raises; for capital funds for new schools and for repairs to older ones; for new programs to improve the reading performance of our students; and for funding for initiatives to meet the needs to disruptive youths and students who are not reaching their academic goals. The citizens of Howard County expect excellent schools and our students deserve them.

Howard County's piggyback income tax rate at 50 percent is among the lowest in the state. Reducing it to 48 percent will save the average family about $50 a year, enough to take a family of four to see "Titanic" if they share popcorn. On the other hand, this amounts to $5.5 million in revenue, which can be used to fund our schools.

I think the better investment is in education. I urge the council to restore the funds that Mr. Ecker has chosen to cut from the education budget.

Kathleen Sinkinson

Ellicott City

The writer is chairwoman of the Citizens Advisory Committee to the Howard County Board of Education.

Head-wrap issue raises bigger questions

To the parents of the teen-ager who doesn't want to go to school without a piece of cloth on her head: Where are you? How can this be a bigger issue than your child's education? She should be in class, not in the newspaper.

To the teen-ager: Yes, the Constitution (actually, the Bill of Rights -- had you been in class you might have learned that) guarantees freedom of expression.

What you need to learn and remember is that nowhere are you guaranteed a free education. The people of the state and county, including your teachers and parents, pay for it. Why are you wasting it?

To the lawyer who is bringing the suit: Why are you wasting the court's time and the taxpayers' money? Can't you find a windmill to tilt at that has some real social significance? Or do you just want the publicity?

John D. Boughter

Towson

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I completely agree with the Howard County school officials for enforcing the no-hat dress code policy in their school.

Dress codes are there for a reason and should be strictly upheld. I completely disagree with the school system for deciding to spend $1,000 to send a teacher to the student's home. That is ridiculous.

If Shermia Isaacs wants to wear her African-style head-wrap, she should do it on her own time.

What if a white student attending that school wore a baseball cap with a Confederate battle flag on it, or a Confederate flag bandanna on is head to honor his Southern heritage? He is asked to take it off and refuses because he wears it in honor of one of his great-grandfathers who was a Civil War veteran.

Like Miss Isaacs, he would be suspended and rightfully so. Why? No hats are allowed in school, that's why. Would the county be willing to shell out $1,000 to home-school him? I think we all know the answer to that.

We go to school for one reason, to learn, not to make "cultural statements." It's not about heritage or ethnicity. It's about obeying the rules, something way too many kids cannot seem to do these days.

Allan Teague

Fort George G. Meade

Principal's comments were insensitive

Re: Comments made by Marshall Peterson to The Sun, regarding the tragedy of Matthew Christopher Wichita and Kevans Bradshaw Hall II ("2 Howard men die in Florida knife attack," April 18).

I am deeply offended by the insensitive and irresponsible comments made by the principal at Oakland Mills High School to reporters after the tragic incident in Florida. Matthew and Kevans were slaughtered by a gang of 20 people, while Seth Kenyon Qubeck was critically injured with more than 17 stab wounds. Yet Mr. Peterson told The Sun that "this was not the first time they got into a fight."

Adding insult to injury, he said that they were in "a very rowdy class." What a sweeping condemnation of the entire Class of '95.

Mr. Peterson was not even the principal when these young men were attending Oakland Mills High School; David Bruzga was principal then. It's truly amazing that a professional educator could be so quick to condemn, and be so callous to the grieving parents who had just lost their sons.

Matthew and Seth were the same age as my son, Wayne. They all attended the same schools since they were 10. They all graduated from Oakland Mills in 1995. During high school, they were no more "rowdy" than any typical teen-agers. They were all good-natured kids who have grown into pleasant young men, filled with promise.

If they were too quick to defend a seemingly helpless stranger, it was because all of them were brought up with a clear sense of right and wrong. If none of them truly believed that some people could slaughter others for trivial and senseless reasons, it was because they were all compassionate and idealistic.

I have known all of them since they were little. It breaks my heart to think that I would never see them again. I wonder: Should parents teach their children to be cold and cynical, to stay alive in a world filled with violence? Should educators teach the

students to be blind and insensitive, in order to stay aloof in a world filled with pain?

Pearl Chou

Columbia

'Gun culture' led to Arkansas massacre

The killings recently of a teacher and students in Arkansas in which an 11-year-old and a 14-year-old are charged have shocked us all.

Although these two children were allegedly laden with handguns and assault weapons and it was noted they had been brought up in a "gun culture," the focus on why and how to prevent this from happening again was mainly on the psychological problems of the two boys.

Only a few cartoons and a couple of articles have pointed out the insanity of a culture that clings to an archaic Second Amendment constantly repeated by the National Rifle Association and puts a so-called "freedom of the right to bear arms" before the right of children to walk safely to school.

There has been a great national outcry that this insane love of guns must stop, or that there must at least be sensible control over who should own a gun.

The causes of violence are complex. Poverty, domestic violence, constant exposure to media violence, an individual's inability to control anger -- all create stress, which given the easy accessibility of guns can result in death and sorrow.

When will we ever learn?

George W. Martin

Emma Byrne

Columbia

The writers are, respectively, president of Howard County Clergy For Social Justice and co-chairwoman of Howard County S.T.A.G.E. (Standing Together Against the Gun Epidemic).

What did Rehrmann promise Schmoke?

The hoopla lately is over Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke and political adviser Larry S. Gibson's support of Eileen M. Rehrmann for governor.

Why would Ms. Rehrmann want an endorsement from a mayor who, it seems, is incapable of controlling his appointees? Never mind the fact that Mr. Schmoke's endorsement of the Democratic challenger could come back to haunt him during the next session.

The real question is what did Ms. Rehrmann promise Mr. Schmoke and Baltimore? It must have been bigger than a football stadium, convention center or new hotels.

What could it be? Well, the obvious answer is slot machines. Now ask why? Baltimore is in turmoil. The school system is among the worst in the nation. The city mismanages millions of dollars.

Mr. Schmoke wants the quick fix. Gov. Parris N. Glendening was instrumental in many assets Baltimore enjoys today. Because the governor took the rest of the Maryland into consideration and abandoned slot machines, the mayor is out for blood. Mr. Schmoke is about to learn Maryland is made up of more than one city.

Lou Tragina

Columbia

A student of newspapers

I am in the ninth-grade and am home-schooled. My family subscribes to The Sun, and we all greatly enjoy it. My favorite sections include the front page and all of Section A, the Howard County section and the Today section.

Your interesting, enlightening articles have provided the basis and/or information for many school projects. Your articles are unbiased, illustrated by wonderful color pictures, and appeal to a general audience. My mother, who pays for the paper, says that the organization is excellent and subject matter is well-varied. However, I would like to make some recommendations.

First, I would like to request a change in your TV guide. It is my opinion that your method of program display is plain and easy to read. I also am grateful tht you include a "Nightowl" section. As a Star Trek fan who gets up at 3 a.m. to tape the old shows, this has proved invaluable. Yet, I would greatly appreciate if you included a listing of show summaries. My family enjoys watching TV, so when we check our guide, we want to know what the show we want to watch is about.

Second, my father is a big sports fan. He loves to read the sports page after dinner. Being a Redskins fan, though, he has repeatedly stated that he would enjoy a lot more coverage of his favorite team.

Thank you so much for your time. I will be looking for changes.

Joseph Brodine

Jessup

Pub Date: 5/03/98

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