Maintenance of effort is not enough for schools to keep pace
A recent editorial focused on the emotional debates that occur concerning school board budgets ("Emotions still cloud school budget process," May 14).
The fact that "maintenance of effort" was exceeded by counties was stressed. For too long the perception has been that maintenance of effort is sufficient, not only to maintain the status quo, but to provide for improvement.
Let me clarify: All that maintenance of effort requires is that the same dollar amount be spent per student as in the previous fiscal year.
At no time are increased costs of instructional materials, utilities, or even insurance recognized.
Provisions are not made for increased costs attributable to changes in student population characteristics, salary or programmatic improvements to meet the higher academic standards demanded by the public. The only increases recognized by maintenance of effort are increases in student numbers.
If the public expects to see improvement in public education, a realistic improvement in financial support must be provided. Simple maintenance of effort is inadequate for the task and should be exceeded substantially.
Susan R. Buswell
The writer is executive director of the Maryland Association of Boards of Education.
Erudite McNatt captured city's diverse culture
I am a regular reader of nearly every columnist in The Sun. However, like countless other readers, I hope you will not deprive us of Glenn McNatt's truly valuable, erudite and always enjoyable column.
So much space is devoted to long tales of one person's life. In one column, Mr. McNatt provides education and entertainment for a variety of diversified interests of culture.
Sylvia B. Mandy
2000 computer glitch will rival the 1973 oil embargo
One of the small pleasures of moving to the Baltimore area recently has been the discovery of The Sun as a first-class newspaper, especially when it comes to coverage of local news.
However, Jay Hancock's column ("Computer apocalypse on the horizon," May 10) on the Year 2000 computer problem in the Business section was a major disappointment. Mr. Hancock apparently seized on the recent statements of Edward Yardeni, the respected chief economist for Deutsch Morgan Grunfeld, to treat a very serious topic quite lightly.
Every knowledgeable person in the computer industry agrees: The problem is no joke.
As the deadline for correction of coding errors approaches, it is becoming apparent that there will not be enough time or talent to make all the changes -- much less test them -- before problems emerge.
Mr. Hancock dismisses this potentially disastrous situation by conjuring up a wholly new resource: "American workers." This, in spite of the fact that most of us haven't the foggiest notion of what to do when a major system fails, whether it's at our bank, on the Washington Metro or in our own office.
The problems with the year 2000 will arrive at about the same time. The millennium bug is trivial by itself, but if it is not remedied in 99.9 percent of all programs well before Dec. 31, 1999, the volume of nuisance outages will overwhelm the typical worker, homeowner, police officer, teacher or tourist. The combined effect will be at least as significant as the 1973 OPEC oil embargo, which generated long, inconvenient lines at every gas station and started a six-year recession.
If Mr. Hancock is going to comment on the year 2000 computer problem, he needs to do his homework and talk to people working on the problem.
Thomas F. Cox
U.S. should act more swiftly against India's nuclear tests
India's test of three nuclear devices is an aggressive act that threatens peace in Asia and the entire world. It must be condemned in the strongest possible terms.
In view of this test, India can no longer claim that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes. This test is designed to scare India's neighbors and advance its campaign for hegemony in Southern Asia.
Recently, two officials of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) called for Pakistan and Bangladesh to become part of India. India refuses to recognize the legitimate aspirations for freedom of the Sikhs of Punjab (Khalistan), the Christians of Nagaland, the Muslims of Kashmir and many other nations living under its imperial rule.
India has not signed the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. While almost half the population lives below the international poverty line, India devotes a quarter of its development budget to the nuclear program that resulted in these explosions.
The Clinton administration should move more quickly to implement the required sanctions against India. The best way to keep Pakistan from responding in kind and escalating the nuclear arms race in Southern Asia, is to impose sanctions that are swift and strict.
Also, America should support the 17 freedom movements in India. Freedom for Punjab and for Kashmir can set up a buffer between India and Pakistan, which would deter war.
We should encourage talks with the Nagaland, hold India to its 1948 pledge to the United Nations to hold a plebiscite in Kashmir and press for a free and fair vote to decide the political future of Punjab.
America is the leader of the world. We must move to stop the arms race in Southern Asia before it gets started.
Gurmit Singh Aulakh
The writer is president of the Council of Khalistan, which represents Sikhs in Punjab, India.
Cal Thomas finally is right about why Republicans lost
Columnist Cal Thomas may be right for a change ("The GOP's 'Jimmy Carter,' " May 13). Had the GOP last year nominated someone of sterling character, integrity and honor, that candidate might have beaten President Clinton.
Instead, the GOP dug deep into its barrel of dirty tricksters and nominated mean-spirited Bob Dole, a man whose presidential campaign was doomed when he accused the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People of "trying to set him up" and then insulted the intelligence of the electorate when he said he didn't believe that cigarettes were addictive.
The real reason he said those things was his unprogressive conservatism and his ties to the Tobacco Institute. Cal Thomas' buddy Newt Gingrich does the same thing. So, voters, having no choice between two evils, chose the best man who was going to lead this country into the 21st century.
William Jefferson Clinton is that man. The voters are going to vote for the Democratic Party so long as such ultra-right-wing organizations as the Christian Coalition continue to dominate the GOP with their intolerance toward gays and lesbians. They are people, too, and deserve the same rights and privileges as everyone else.
Clinton could use dose of faith in Oval Office
I was certainly impressed to see the president carrying his Bible on the way to church.
I wonder if we could persuade him to carry it into the Oval Office?
William D. Townsend
Stop using conjunctions at beginning of sentences
As a Sun subscriber, I feel compelled to call to your attention a discrepancy regarding your writing style and some of the ideas that you have promoted in some of your special articles.
I have noticed that several sentences in your text begin with the conjunctions "and" and "but." I was taught in English classes and in journalism classes that no sentence should ever begin with these words. I originally thought that this was an isolated mistake, but I have discovered that the articles in the paper are replete with this conversational but flawed technique.
I am disturbed by the tendency in a newspaper that has promoted reading acuity in a recent series. The only purpose that I can find for using these conjunctions at the beginning of sentences is to ensure more precise justification in the lines of text.
Set a good example for readers of all ages. Use the conjunctions within sentences, where they belong.
Robert D. Ford
Reading by 9
The Sun is seeking letters from elementary schoolchildren about their favorite books and reading experiences. Selected letters will be edited and published in the editorial pages.
Letters should be no longer than 200 words and should include the name and address of the writer, along with day and evening telephone numbers.
Send letters to Letters to the Editor, The Sun, P.O. Box 1377, Baltimore 21278-0001. Our fax number for letters is 410-332-6977. The e-mail address is letteraltsun.com.
Pub Date: 5/19/98