Investing in the future with adequate funding...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Investing in the future with adequate funding for higher education

The quality of public higher education is one of the universal barometers used to determine a community's commitment to its future.

Individuals, institutions and corporations regularly compare funding levels, performance scores, degrees awarded, research grants, patents and other factors to ascertain how educational systems are responding to societal, personal and business needs.

We are confronted with the realities of a public higher-education system that is underfunded and undervalued compared with similar systems elsewhere, as noted in recent Sun editorials.

Maryland' system is vital to the survival of our region and our state, yet it is subject to a budgetary process that puts it at a distinct disadvantage that this region and its future can ill afford.

Today's knowledge-based global economy, and that of the future, requires well-educated individuals who are proficient in computer technology, along with their chosen areas of emphasis.

Institutions of higher education have been the places individuals go to acquire the knowledge and skills they need to be productive workers, researchers, scientists and professionals.

Agree or not, Maryland's public institutions are the primary builders of the state's work force, attracting and retaining significant numbers of students who remain in our state and preparing them for work life.

Jobs follow people. With universal work force shortages in many professional and occupational skill areas, the availability of educated and trained workers is the central factor that determines where companies remain, expand or locate. For all of its many assets, Greater Baltimore has to work much harder to be on a par with other desirable employment growth markets, including the Washington, D.C.-area suburbs of Maryland. Clearly, having adequately funded educational systems at all levels, but in particular, at the post-secondary level, is crucial to Greater Baltimore's future.

Higher education and the resources it brings -- from graduates for work-force development to research and development that fuels new enterprises -- are some of the most important calling cards we have to attract and keep business investment in the Baltimore area.

With Maryland's growth in the info-tech and biotech sectors, research spawned on its public campuses fuels the states economic engine. We can boast cutting-edge innovations in nearly every field of science and technology, and the public institutions now recognize and value the economic worth of their research.

Spending tax dollars on public higher education is an investment in the future of our youth, our work force, our businesses and economy that will yield great returns. If we think education is expensive, just imagine the alternative.

Ioanna T. Morfessis, Baltimore

The writer is president and CEO of the Greater Baltimore Alliance.

Abortion is violent act; clinics should be closed

If President Clinton were really concerned about violence at abortion clinics, he would work to see them closed ("Clinton seeks security for medical clinics," Jan. 23). It is truly awful that seven people who work for abortion providers have been murdered in the past 10 years. Real pro-life activists do not condone such actions.

Millions of unborn babies have also been deliberately killed (murdered?) in the past 10 years.

Abortion is violence and the aborted baby is not the only victim. When a women is counseled to have an abortion, she is being told that she is not valuable enough to be supported in this natural state of pregnancy, and that she should undergo unnecessary surgery with all of its risks and complications, including having to live with the knowledge that she did indeed kill one of her own children.

Regina Simon, Fallston

Move poor people or address their problems?

It is true that many advocates are pleased that Our Daily Bread will be staying where it is located downtown ("Soup kitchen will remain downtown up to 3 years," Jan. 22).

We have seen throughout the country examples of laws and less-than-adequate service facilities designed to move poor, homeless and hungry people out of downtown areas as if these people didn't belong there. We believe Baltimore is better than that.

We believe Baltimore faces an opportunity to choose between being a national leader on how we address the effects of poverty or being a follower down the path of criminalizing homelessness and hunger.

The business community, lawmakers, service providers and poor people can join forces and develop real solutions, such as jobs that pay a living wage, adequate affordable housing and access to health care.

We can create public restrooms and day resource centers so that people can have access to services and not have to use the library to meet their most basic human needs.

We challenge business leaders who accuse us of protecting the status quo when we support Our Daily Bread's decision not to move. The location of one soup kitchen does not determine progress or the lack thereof.

What determines progress will be our communal attempt to solve the root causes of poverty.

Rob Hess, Baltimore

The writer is president and CEO of The Center for Poverty Solutions.

Criminals are behind decline of city's tax base

Wow! Mayor Schmoke has just perceived an "absolute urgency" in not releasing certain offenders on bail.

While I admire the mayor and have voted for him twice, his belated perception illustrates why public safety is Baltimore's No. 1 problem, contaminating and overwhelming almost every effort at civic progress.

Violent, repeat offenders being put back on the street has been a serious problem since the mayor took office 10 plus years ago. Our badly broken criminal justice system regularly rotates such people back into the community whether by bail, mistake, dropping charges, lenient plea bargains or incredibly short time served.

Nevertheless, the mayor's realization is a sign of progress. Perhaps he will next discover that this broken system and the criminal activity it spawns have something to do with the mass exodus of city residents and businesses and the deterioration of the tax base.

Thomas J. Kenney Jr., Baltimore

Small retailers understand basics of customer service

Another business goes belly-up ("Caldor going out of business," Jan. 23), and the only excuse offered is that they we're ". . . up against powerful competition. . . . It is very difficult to prevail." I say that's a lame excuse.

I work in a small business that also faces some fierce competition and while we're not always happy about our competitors' seemingly unfair advantages -- and yes, some of their business tactics step over ethical lines -- we win over our chunk of the market with what should be considered the most important components of any successful business: We provide excellent customer service and we know our product.

It may sound silly, simple and trite, especially given how price-conscious we all claim to be these days, but it's the key.

While the smaller retailer can't offer the super-discounted price, he or she can make shopping a pleasure, and chances are good that after you make your purchase you will walk out feeling like you got your money's worth--and maybe even made a friend.

Shawn Sapp-Nocher, Baltimore

More 'happy' stories needed in the press

Thank you for the article ("Hot Dawg," Jan. 21) about Anthony Lawston. More press should be given to young men like Anthony than to all the bad things that go on.

I hope in the future you will be able to print more happy stories like his. I hope for Anthony all the success that he is looking forward to.

Shirley H. Smith, Baltimore

To our readers

The Sun welcomes letters from readers. They 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 letters@baltsun.com.

All letters are subject to editing.

Pub Date: 1/28/99

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