County schools getting boost, not a 'budget...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

County schools getting boost, not a 'budget cut'

I found the representations in The Sun's articles articles "Council tries to restore budget" (May 17) and "Class size casualty of budget cuts" (May 19) misleading and irresponsible.

The Sun reported that the Howard County Board of Education will likely receive a $27.8 million increase to its annual budget, and then it calls that increase a "budget cut."

Why The Sun would refer to a $27.8 million (or 11.5 percent) annual budget increase as a budget cut is beyond me.

I expect the newspaper to report the news, not bend it to create controversy.

The truth be told, this is not a budget cut. The county executive and the County Council have simply decided not to fully fund the school board's budget request.

The board of education made a request that asked for a budget increase of $35 million. The county executive and the council gave them their raise -- not for the full $35 million, but for $27.8 million instead.

The school board, aided by The Sun's reporting, represents that as a "cut," because the schools are getting $7.2 million less than they asked for.

If I go to my boss and ask for a $10,000 raise, will The Sun represent it as a $9,000 pay cut if I only get a $1,000 raise?

I think the county executive and the council should be commended for giving the school board a $27.8 million budget increase and that increase should be considered a strong commitment to education.

Wendy Fiedler

Ellicott City

Principals are a drain on schools' resources

The recent column by Linda Chavez was truly an insult to the intelligence of anyone who reads it ("Principals make or break a school," OpinionCommentary, May 23).

Nobody could possibly take even half of what Ms. Chavez writes seriously.

Principals really don't have the time or the inclination to "scour the country for the best teachers."

Principals are not always fair, hardworking and gifted people who should be allowed to hire and fire teachers.

Principals are only people, who, generally speaking, used to be pretty good teachers and are now cultivating their egos and their bank accounts in the principal's office.

In fact, I believe that education will start to improve when people realize that principals are unnecessary and a drain on a school's resources.

The office of principal could easily be replaced by a committee of teachers, who could promulgate policy, plus a much less expensive administrator.

Elliott Factor

Columbia

Glenwood's education is far from mediocre

I recently received a letter from Kristine Lockwood, who was my child's seventh-grade teacher, regarding the non-renewal of her teaching contract.

The seven-page, single-spaced letter described her perceptions of the school environment as well as her mistreatment as a faculty member at Glenwood Middle School.

I carried the letter with me as I entered the school for the Enrichment Fair program. For the next two hours, I viewed student projects and listened to musical presentations and spoke with many students, teachers and parents.

In marked contrast to Ms. Lockwood, I found the children, teachers and parents (as I have on many other occasions) filled with much energy and excitement -- and with an abundance of smiling faces.

Furthermore, as a parent of two Glenwood Middle School children and a former educator and teacher trainer for the University of Maryland, I would like to make some comments regarding Ms. Lockwood's remarks.

What typifies the middle school environment is the way teachers at any grade level work as members of a team. At the very least, Ms. Lockwood's choice of language suggests that the issues which she felt needed scrutiny were her own issues.

She states, "I asked school professionals to test a student for special education services. The school refused." Certainly, Ms. Lockwood could have and should have enlisted the support of other members of her team.

Tenured faculty certainly do not have fear of reprisals for attempting to obtain special services for children.

And it is no surprise that when a group of teachers agree on the need for assistance for a child, there is a very good chance that it will be obtained.

As a former teacher, teacher trainer, and parent who has evaluated special education services in Howard County, I also see flaws in the school system.

Yes, it is often very frustrating to realize how difficult it is to reach every student.

However, what a teacher soon realizes is that with each year, and a few more experiences and continued learning, he or she can begin to make a difference for more and more children.

My children do not receive a "mediocre education" from Glenwood Middle School. On the contrary, my children thrive because of the many fine teachers, support staff and volunteers at the school.

I don't think I would "cringe" if I knew what went on in some classes; I do know that I am pleased with what goes on in most of my children's classes.

My children are learning content and learning how to be independent thinkers.

They are getting ready for a long and varied lifetime.

I am thankful that many at Glenwood Middle School are responsible for this part of my children's experiences.

Ron Reis

Woodbine

Why can't officials pay their own way?

So the governor, the legislature and their cronies decide to celebrate with a party at Pimlico on Preakness day ("Legislators get free day at track," May 16). I think that's wonderful.

But I have a problem with the idea of the taxpayers picking up the tab for this sort of festivity.

Would it be asking too much if those officials bought their own tickets, food and booze -- and kept their hands out of the taxpayers' pockets?

E.F. Sadler

Columbia

It's the Consitution that limits federal power

In response to The Sun's editorial "Court limits Congress' power" (May 22) it seems necessary to state the obvious: The court did not limit Congress' power, our Constitution did.

It would seem the editorialist has never read the Constitution, or, if he has, feels we can simply disregard the parts with which we disagree.

The editorial states "the court switched course in 1937 and essentially let Congress define the scope of its regulatory power" and goes on to pontificate about why this is good and necessary.

My only response can be a quote from the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

If the Constitution doesn't say specifically the government has a particular power, it doesn't.

Those powers are left to the states, free from interference from the federal government. This is not "an unduly narrow reading of those powers," as The Sun asserts. It's clearly stated and it's the law by which we are governed.

Ted Bosse Ellicott City

Moms and others want sensible, consistent laws

Gregory Kane is once again lost in his own history and conveniently bends facts and situations to suit his own point of view ("Misled moms go marching to back a flawed gun cause," May 17).

There weren't "750,000 mommies" on the mall; there was a whole bunch of daddies, grandmas, grandpas, sisters and brothers there as well.

I was there; evidently Mr. Kane wasn't.

The "clarion call," as he put it, is for sensible and consistent gun legislation across the nation.

The intent of the call for registration of weapons is to make sure that gun ownership stays legitimate and guns stay with their rightful owners.

Background checks are to insure that guns do not end up in the hands of criminals or persons who are incompetent for other reasons.

Waiting periods are necessary to do appropriate checks to insure the wrong persons do not wind up possessing guns and to control the illegal sales of guns to criminals.

Closing gun show sales loopholes is important for the same reason.

Requiring effective trigger locks seems to be a no-brainer, especially considering the numbers of children who are hurt and killed by easy access to unprotected weapons.

No one at the gathering or the mall claimed that these measures will stop all gun violence. Rather the claim is that they can reduce such violence.

As a parent who has lost a son, I know of the intense grief such a loss can bring as well as the way it totally changes one's life.

If but a single life is saved by such measures, the effort would be worth it.

Mr. Kane's suggestion that the Womens Christian Temperance Union is responsible for drug murders is patently absurd. There is no causal relationship there.

Mr. Kane makes similar logical leaps when he describes the folks at the rally as "overwhelmingly liberal." Did he interview 375,000 of them, or just assume again?

Similarly, his ungracious (to say the least) descriptions of remarks by the president and by the Rev. Jesse Jackson also hold no water.

He criticizes Reverend Jackson's argument, for instance, by pointing out that guns are illegal in the District of Columbia; what he neglects to mention is that it is the lack of uniform registration laws, among other factors, that allow for the easy movement of guns into D.C. from other states.

I was at the march. I saw only two signs for the banning of handguns(not all guns) in the four hours that I was on the mall. And, to my recollection, none of the speakers suggested that guns should be banned, nor do I suggest that.

I think Mr. Kane needs to polish his thinking on this issue, and remove his emotionality, because it is inhibiting his usual clear thinking, which is evident on so many other issues. Manny Flecker

Columbia

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