Inadequate funding drives parents to raise funds for schools
The Sun's article "PTAs may contribute to school disparities" (Sept. 20) explained a great deal about fund-raising efforts by local PTAs. But it never answered the key question: Why do local PTAs try to raise so much money?
Sure, individuals quoted in the article said they wanted to improve their children's schools, but why is this necessary? Because the schools in Maryland (and Harford County in particular) are grossly underfunded.
It really isn't much fun to do fund-raisers -- parents and children could do much better things with their time -- but the county, state and federal government have decided that crumbling, overcrowded schools and peanut pay for teachers are OK.
Many parents feel it's easier to raise $25,000 or $50,000 for their local school than advocate adequate funding for the entire jurisdiction.
State and national PTA organizations preach against this at every opportunity, but lobbying is not easy work. Results from advocacy take a long time -- and parents sometimes feel they cannot wait.
I do not agree with raising big bucks locally, but given the attitude of our elected officials, it's hard to argue against the parents who do that -- it's for their children.
But if we are to reduce disparities among schools, we need to fund schools at a level that most parents find adequate.
This would help more children to successfully ride the sometimes bumpy road through school and benefit all of society.
Mark Wolkow, Abingdon
The writer is a former vice president of the Harford County Council of PTAs and a member of the state PTA's legislative team.
An ordered environment enables children to learn
Dennis Baron's column "Mandatory manners construct a prison for young minds" (Opinion Commentary, Sept. 28) is far off base about the Louisiana school "politeness laws."
Most children want order. They want adults to be in control. They want to know that fair rules are fairly enforced.
They are frightened and disturbed when other children get away with unruly or rude behavior. They lose faith in adults who will not take charge.
My two older children suffered through a middle school in which lax leadership had allowed a disorderly environment. When a new principal arrived and enforced stricter rules, a new climate of order appeared in the school -- and my children breathed a sigh of great relief.
Our schools went down the wrong path when they developed the notion that teachers must earn students' respect.
This often means teachers must walk into a chaotic classroom -- in which students are talking and moving about -- and, by the force of their personality, create enough order to teach a lesson.
Is it any wonder why, with such conditions, we face a shortage of teachers?
No one should have to "earn" respect; it should be given automatically. Only when that respect is betrayed should corrective action be taken.
Elizabeth Fixsen, Savage
Please assure me that Dennis Baron's column was pure satire. Mr. Baron can't be serious when he suggests that "more rules and making schools more rigid won't make students more manageable."
Training any living thing requires control and orientation. It would be unnatural for children to be different.
We must fit the students to the society -- not re-fashion society to fit students.
Bill Newhall, Baltimore
Tufaro's voucher proposal would hurt public schools
David Tufaro's proposal to provide school vouchers is simply another Republican endeavor to stir up the pious ("Tufaro proposes plan to reform city schools," Sept. 22).
The voucher system would sap money from the public schools, promote racism and erode the wall of separation between church and state.
Tony Buechner, Baltimore
It's not the parents who create sports frenzy
As a mother of three who has attended hundreds of soccer matches, basketball and baseball games and swim meets, I felt compelled to respond to The Sun's article about spectator sportsmanship for Little League and recreation council sports ("Leagues blow the whistle on competitive parents," Oct. 3).
In a country where a mediocre professional athlete earns more than our president, where high school and college athletes follow different rules than non-athletes, I think addressing parental fan habits is laughable.
Our adoration and compensation of athletes is the beginning of this unhealthy frenzy of competition.
To stop the screaming from the sidelines, start paying top educators and police officers what top athletes earn and stop awarding scholarships for athletics.
I'll be on the soccer field Saturday supporting my son, but it's only a game.
Terri L. Forand, Baltimore
The Eastern Orthodox are also 'Plugged In'
The Sun's Plugged In section article "Faith: the religious take their message to the masses with the Internet's help" (Sept. 27) was very informative.
But I was disappointed that it didn't mention one of the largest Christian denominations in the world, the Eastern Orthodox Church.
The Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Annunciation, which has been in Maryland since 1906, is the largest Eastern Orthodox Community in our state and one of the 10 largest Greek Orthodox communities in the United States.
We have a very active and informative Web site, www.goannun.org.
If another such article appears, I'd appreciate it if we, too, were included.
Rev. Dean Moralis, Baltimore
The writer is assistant pastor of the Cathedral of the Annunciation.
Evangelical Christians only seek salvation for all
It is ludicrous for Evan Balkan to connect the mentality that spawned the recent shootings in a Baptist church in Texas with the one that encourages prayer for conversion ("Praying for conversion is offensive, arrogant," letters, Sept. 30).
The words intolerance, prejudice and hatred are being used, carelessly, to describe Baptists whose only crime is wanting those of the Jewish faith to have an opportunity to accept the messiah Christians believe has already come.
I'm sorry if the zeal of some is mistaken for arrogance and, of course, all Baptists are not great communicators.
But they are merely obeying Jesus' commission, which said, "Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father . . ."
Edith Boggs, Bel Air
We evangelical Christians believe without a doubt that Jesus is the promised Messiah that many Jews seek.
But we don't limit our prayers to Jews. We pray for people from all walks of life -- atheists, agnostics, Hindus, Muslims and others.
Jesus' last words to his followers were, "Go and make disciples of all nations . . ." That is what compels evangelical Christians to reach out and pray for all men.
We are not motivated by intolerance or arrogance, but by love and obedience to our Lord.
James R. Cook, Joppa
The seeds of revelation lie within each of us
Why do some people claim that they alone possess the truth about God, and all others are lost in darkness?
If I respect another man, I must respect his perspectives on life, although they may differ from mine.
I must respect them as vehicles of truth to that person, because I believe that the God who has formed all life has scattered the seeds of His revelation among us all.
If I did not believe this, I would be guilty of the arrogant claim: "I am better than you are."
Thomas Roper, Virginia Beach, Va.
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Pub Date: 10/08/99