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Private school parents shouldn't be accused of...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Private school parents shouldn't be accused of racism, class bias

Perhaps it is because I've been an avid admirer of Susan Reimer's columns over the years that I am so surprised and distressed at her column "A cause for elation and sadness: private schools" (March 26).

Ms. Reimer took a gratuitous swipe at parents of all private-school students by stating they were sending their children to such schools to avoid having them associate with "poor children," "black children," and "Hispanic children."

While I am not familiar with the Eastern Shore private school Ms. Reimer visited, I am very familiar with private schools in the Baltimore area because of my work on a charitable foundation that specializes in grants to such schools.

I know that even so-called wealthy private schools generally have a sizeable population of children of color and from economically disadvantaged backgrounds

Many modest private schools in Baltimore indeed have majority populations of minority and of lower-income students.

Parents of both wealthy and modest private schools send their children to private schools for simple reasons: They want the best quality education they can obtain for their children, and they want their children to be in safe, nurturing, uncrowded classes where the teachers can focus on teaching and not on disciplinary problems. Is that so wrong?

Ms. Reimer's attempt to turn the private school vs. public school issue into a class and racial one is beneath her. She owes an apology to private-school parents.

John B. Sinclair

Baltimore

As the parent of several children attending private schools, I must respond to Susan Reimer's column "A cause for elation and sadness" (March 26).

Ms. Reimer accuses private-school parents of choosing private school to avoid poor, black or Hispanic children.

I am deeply offended by this "holier than thou" slur.

Never mind that many middle-class private-school parents scrimp, struggle, save, borrow and devote a major portion of their income and energy to making sure their children receive the quality education they need and deserve.

Never mind that Ms. Reimer admits that the public schools are not presently meeting students' needs.

Ms. Reimer's point seems to be that if all of these concerned private-school parents choose public schools, the schools would improve. That may be true, but I am not about to sacrifice my children's futures on such an unproven theory.

I am very happy about the school choices I have made for my children.

However, I am saddened that I have been branded a racist for trying to give my children the best education possible.

Richard A. Pretl

Baltimore

Waste hurts schoolchildren more than private school aid

What a contrast: The Sun's editorial "State aid should go to public schools first" (March 27) lamented plans to "divert $6 million of taxpayer funds to help private and parochial schools buy textbooks."

Meanwhile, the Baltimore City schools are on the verge of wasting at least a similar amount in what seems to be a failed attempt to develop some basic accounting systems.

While The Sun's article on the Information Control Systems project represented some solid investigative reporting ("$5.2 million contract cost $7.4 million," March 29), it did not completely address the issue of what the schools' new accounting technology will cost taxpayers.

I'll bet it's more than $10 million when the audits and investigations are done.

The March 27 editorial proclaimed that state government's "priorities are badly skewed" because of the $6 million book grant to private schools.

Each parochial school student will receive approximately $50 worth of textbooks as a result of this grant.

What direct educational benefits will Baltimore's schoolchildren derive from the millions wasted on this mismanaged technology project?

David M. Buttner

Baltimore

Attacks on 'marriage penalty' are just shameless pandering

Another tax season is here, and I wonder as always what our leaders are talking about when they pledge to repeal the "marriage penalty."

When my single daughter asked me to review her tax return, my puzzlement increased. As a single person her federal income tax is nearly 20 percent higher than a married couple filing jointly with the same level of income's tax would be.

I wonder what happened to the adage "two can live cheaper than one"?

It's more expensive to live on your own. Yet the federal government is piling on a discriminatory tax rate on single people.

So what is the call to repeal the "marriage penalty" other than shameless pandering?

David Bird

Fulton

New approach to assessments will ultimately raise tax bills

Who does the legislature think it is fooling by passing a bill to assess property tax based on 100 percent of the property's value ("House OKs tax shift," March 28).

The tax rate in Baltimore County would drop to $1.14.

So what -- how long do you think it will take to bring that rate back to $2.85?

And then that will be a tax on 100 percent of the property's value.

On a property valued at $100,000, and taxed on 40 percent of its value, a five-cent tax raise would increase the owner's tax bill $20.

If the property is taxed at 100 percent of its value, the raise would be $50.

Now tell us who is getting the shaft.

John G. Fornaro

Manchester

Holding down vehicle fees was the right thing to do

I congratulate the Maryland legislature for not increasing vehicle registration fees to fund emergency services ("Good times dash plan to increase vehicle fees," March 29).

Now legislators say they will have to face the issue in the next session. As Sen. Barbara A Hoffman stated "Next year we'll have to deal with how we fund Shock Trauma on a regular basis."

I would think this is a "no brainer." Instead of funding another expensive capital project, use the money to support the state's emergency medical services.

And hold the management of these agencies accountable for controlling costs and reducing waste.

If there was more accountability in state government, we wouldn't need back door taxes.

Keith F. Kelley

Lutherville

A 'smart gun' and a befuddled governor . . .

Gov. Parris N. Glendening recently provided a perfect demonstration of why "smart gun" technology is a deadly failure.

At his March 22 press conference, it took the governor 90 seconds to finally get the gun to fire, even after he was shown how by police officers.

If Mr. Glendening had needed the gun to fire to save himself or a family member from an intruder, the 90-second delay would have proved far too long.

The Sun's headline writer chose a poor title for its related story ("Show of support for smart guns," March 28).

I am offering my services as a headline writer to more accurately portray what happened at the press conference.

How about "Gun gets the best of Glendening" or "Governor embarrasses gun grabbers"?

Jeff Kern

Dundalk

. . . but it's not smart for guns to be in schools

I go to first grade at Broadneck Elementary School. I do not want guns in my school. Guns kill people.

I go to school to learn how read and write. Guns do not belong in school.

Montana W. Geimer

Arnold

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