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School salaries insult teachers and children

Spending $101,000 for Baltimore schools CEO Carmen V. Russo to have a driver so that she can "read reports and make phone calls" is insulting to the teacher's aides who lost their jobs to the Baltimore schools fiscal crisis and to the parents and children who counted on those aides to help the schools educate their children ("City's debt-ridden schools pay 36 staff $100,000 or more," Feb. 13).

And Ms. Russo's response that having a driver is "one way to make our CEO more efficient" begs the question of how much efficiency we get for this lofty expense?

The message sent by the school board that continued to allow this practice is that the perquisites for the CEO are more important than the children. This is clearly the wrong message to send to the children, the parents and the teachers who tough it out every day to ensure our kids get a decent education.

The fact that the school board allowed this to continue in the midst of an extremely difficult budget period is appalling and arrogant and shows a lack of courage to make decisions based on simple common sense.

Dale R. McArdle


So city schools CEO Carmen V. Russo's chauffeur is paid $101,000 a year in a school system that doesn't even have enough books for the children.

I've got an unblemished driving record and I'll do the job for half that much.

Elaine Rosenbloom


I just couldn't believe my eyes when I saw the headline "City's debt-ridden schools pay 36 staff $100,000 or more." That was bad enough, but when I read further that schools CEO Carmen V. Russo's driver received $101,000 per year, I just flipped.

When I read of such flagrant disregard for an intelligent approach to salaries, I can see immediately where the money problem is.

Management is top-heavy, while the teachers who do the hardest work, and put up with the worst conditions, are getting only peanut shells, without the peanuts.

John F. Thomas


City schools CEO Carmen V. Russo's driver, having mastered the difficulties of red means stop and green means go, is pulling down six figures while teachers and other vital employees are let go or furloughed.

Maybe we should just cut out all the useless reading, writing and math courses and concentrate on driver's education - which is where the real money is.

Jeff Sattler


School leaders need to be accountable

I read with interest the article "City's debt-ridden schools pay 36 staff $100,000 or more" (Feb. 13) because in 1999, when I campaigned for City Council president, one of my points was to let the public know that the city was spending too much money on administrative salaries.

Back then, only 25 cents of each school-related dollar was spent for classroom purposes. This figure included books, student supplies and teacher salaries. And it is a disgrace that so many of our tax dollars, which are supposed to be used to educate our children, are used to pay six-figure salaries to dozens of people on North Avenue.

The bottom line of the administration of any educational entity is accountability. In that regard, there is only one question: Are the funds raised being used in a manner that directly enables children to succeed academically?

If not, then we should ask that the leaders of our schools (public and private) be replaced by people who will focus on results instead of personal rewards.

Antonio W. Campbell


The writer is a former Republican nominee for City Council president.

Hiding from evil won't defeat it

The last time European nations chose to ignore a threat, rather than stand up to it before it became unstoppable, Adolf Hitler nearly destroyed the entire continent.

Now we again see some of the European nations running away and cowering like ostriches ("France, in corner, lacking good exit," Feb. 14).

When will those cowards ever learn you cannot defeat evil by hiding from it?

Douglas B. Hermann


Muslim extremists, Christian bombers?

Would someone please explain to me the fundamental difference between Muslim extremists who suicidally bomb buses, restaurants and tall buildings because they think they are fighting the enemy of their faith and way of life and conservative Christian extremists who are capable and willing to bomb certain Third World countries to oblivion because they think they are fighting the enemy of their religion and way of life?

Richard Cole


N. Korea already has the missiles

As the Bush administration looks for any excuse to invade Iraq, its foreign policy is becoming less and less coherent.

It recently cited Iraq for breaching U.N. resolutions because the range of its missiles exceed a 90-mile limit by several miles ("Experts say Iraqi missile exceeds U.N. range limit," Feb. 13).

However, the recent reports that North Korea has missiles that can reach the western United States, perhaps with nuclear weapons, have attracted less attention from the administration.

This makes no sense.

Mark Davis


Shuttle is reminder that life is precious

When the Columbia astronauts met their untimely deaths, the United States was dealt a shocking reminder of the preciousness of life. As our government prepares for war against Iraq, it is our moral duty to realize that all lives are as precious as those of the Columbia crew - and to act accordingly.

We would never willingly sacrifice thousands of American civilian lives in the pursuit of some geopolitical goal -- in good conscience, how can we do that to others?

Unlike the shuttle disaster, a U.S. war on Iraq is still preventable. If the pain of the astronauts' loss can open our eyes and expand our hearts, perhaps we will be inspired - out of simple humanity - to stop the juggernaut of war.

Daniel Fleisher


I fear I'm being naive, but I hope the space shuttle Columbia accident will remind President Bush of both the fragility of life and the fact that the best-laid plans can go terribly wrong.

And that he should, therefore, reverse his headlong rush into war in the Middle East.

Herman M. Heyn


Snow offers preview of chaos to come?

For a preview of how we would bear up under an actual terrorist attack ("Fighting fears with plastic and duct tape," Feb. 13), think about how well we handle 2 inches of snow.

Dave Reich

Perry Hall

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