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We all must support public education and...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

We all must support public education and other critical services

Elaine Hanus recently wrote that "perhaps opponents of vouchers should stop and say thanks once in a while to private school parents for the funds that they pay into the public system" ("Private school parents subsidize public education," letters, Oct. 17).

Following that logic, does Ms. Hanus owe me thanks because I support the Fire Department and 911 services, even though I have never needed them?

And for my contribution to senior centers or health facilities that I don't use?

Does she thank childless couples and senior citizens, who pay taxes but do not have students in public schools?

These citizens may attend adult education classes at night in the school buildings, or use its track or tennis courts. Their neighborhood association or charity may meet in the local public school.

And certainly, they have nieces, nephews, grandchildren or neighbors for whom they want good public schools.

We all must support public services to make our communities desirable places to live.

Ms. Hanus could thank me for sending my children to public schools and for being involved in making them better. Parents who advocate excellent public education in Ms. Hanus' neighborhood are, after all, helping to maintain her property's value.

But we don't need or want her thanks. We just don't want to subsidize her decision to leave the public schools.

That's her right, her choice and her financial responsibility.

Karen Teplitzky Baltimore

Harry Potter books bring kids fun, adventure

I'm a 9-year-old girl, and I've read all the Harry Potter books. After reading the article about the South Carolina parents who want to keep those books out of schools, I got angry ("Some parents just don't get Harry's magic," Oct. 13).

Those parents are mixing up magic with reality. Kids can tell the difference.

I think the Harry Potter books teach kids to be brave and to stick to their goals.

Most kids in my class have read those books. We all talk about the adventures, the bravery and the fun of the books.

I think Harry Potter should be available to any kid in any school.

Geri Silver Davidsonville

Errors limit paper's instructional value

As an elementary school teacher, I have followed The Sun's Reading by 9 series very closely.

Often, the series encourages parents and children to use the newspaper for activities. But the number of errors in each day's newspaper makes it difficult to use The Sun for reading instruction.

Nearly every day I find mistakes as I read the paper: words left out, words repeated -- and don't get me started on the grammar mistakes I've encountered.

Highlighting the need for children to become skilled readers by age 9 is important, and I thank The Sun for devoting so much effort to it. However, I encourage the editors to take a closer look at the material presented each day.

If our goal is to promote literacy in children, it is important that we first provide them with quality reading material.

In fact, one of the few activities for which I can use the paper with students is one not suggested by The Sun.

I locate an article that has several mistakes and ask students to find the errors. This activity requires the children to be careful and critical readers.

My fourth-grade class would like to remind The Sun that revision and proofreading are necessary before publication.

Karyn J. Bitzel Baltimore

Partisan U.S. Senate blew chance to limit proliferation

Kudos to KAL for his Oct. 16 editorial cartoon. The cartoon succinctly demonstrates the mistake the GOP-controlled Senate made in failing to ratify the nuclear test ban treaty.

The United States has been, for years, the world's only superpower, and we had a tremendous opportunity to use that status to end nuclear proliferation.

Instead, Sen. Trent Lott and his cronies used the treaty to show the president "who's boss" in the Senate -- and the American people were ill-served by the GOP-led Senate again.

At least Marylanders can be proud that we did not suffer the embarrassment of our senators voting against this treaty.

William C. Woodcock Jr. Ellicott City

President can't conclude treaties on his own

Last week, President Bill Clinton said of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, rejected by the U.S. Senate: "I signed that treaty. It still binds us unless I go, in effect, and erase our name" ("Clinton assails vote on treaty," Oct. 15).

But that's not so. Article II, Section 2, of the U.S. Constitution gives the president ". . . Power, by and with consent of the Senate, to make treaties, provided two-thirds of the Senators present concur."

This is just another example of the most corrupt president in our history being unfamiliar with the document he swore to "preserve, protect and defend."

Gregory Seltzer Fallston

Next Congress may create enforceable test-ban pact

We Americans are obsessed about "getting it in writing." Thus, we believe the rest of the world holds a piece of paper as sacred as do we. This is a dangerous fallacy when the subject is arms control.

All that a belligerent nation has to do is ignore the piece of paper. This has happened too many times in recent history to pretend that treaties are worth the trees cut down to print them.

False faith in treaties tends to make us neglectful in monitoring compliance. And, as it's now written, the test ban treaty would mean nothing to any nation that chooses to ignore it.

President Clinton is worried about his tarnished legacy, while his detractors in Congress are concerned with assuring that it remains tarnished.

I suspect a new administration and Congress will be more concerned with enforceability than legacies.

Douglas B. Hermann Baltimore

Keep anti-drug funds here in the United States

Colombia is about to get $1.5 billion from the United States to fight the drug war ("Major drug ring in Colombia raided by police, U.S. agents," Oct. 14). Why can't Colombia and other drug producing countries police themselves?

That money should be used to fight drugs at home.

We need to tell drug-trafficking countries that we will no longer tolerate the drug flow into the United States.

We need to expand drug enforcement within our borders aggressively and take a "stop them at the gate" approach.

We need to stop the payoffs to foreign interests, who just go through the motions of drug enforcement -- and will continue to do so as long as the money flows.

William Peck Needmore, Pa.

Church-bulletin discounts made religion an issue

The Sun's editorial "Reaching for a higher power" (Oct. 17) decries the injection of religion into "petty disputes over . . . ticket discounts."

But it was the Hagerstown Suns baseball team, not the agnostic patron who protested, that brought religion into the issue by requiring a church bulletin for the discounted admission.

Offering him a bulletin to entitle him to the discount, though well-intentioned, only added insult to injury. It was an assault upon his constitutional right to be free from religion; that's a fundamental right, not a "petty" matter.

Despite the administrative judge's ruling, the agnostic's complaint was valid.

No religious material should have been required for discounted entry into a public arena.

Rea Knisbacher 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.

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