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Care providers prepare kids for kindergarten

The Sun's editorial "Outsourcing the ABCs" (Dec. 28) got it exactly right: As the deadline approaches for districts to provide all-day kindergarten, school districts across the state have a ready and capable ally in their local child care providers.

As The Sun noted, the child care community has been working in collaboration with the Maryland State Department of Education to build a system of early care and education that will help young children acquire the skills they need to succeed in school.

The department's assessments of these new efforts show that child care centers and family child care providers have been extremely successful in improving school readiness.

Last year, child care centers achieved a 9 percent jump in the number of their children assessed as "fully ready" for kindergarten.

By working in partnership with child care providers, local school systems will be advancing the goal of building a unified system of education that aligns curricula, standards and accountability along the continuum of learning from birth through grade 12.

Sandra J. Skolnik


The writer is executive director of the Maryland Committee for Children.

Enact 'flush tax' before it's too late

The Sun's editorial "Flush tax" (Dec. 28) was very much needed.

As The Sun stated, the Chesapeake Bay is the nation's largest estuary. And you know that the people who are ridiculing the tax for cleaning up the bay are the very ones who will scream loudest and complain the most because the bay is in such deplorable condition or because the bay is so bad that we cannot eat crabs or fish from it.

If we don't do something now, we will have an even larger problem with a polluted Chesapeake Bay 20 years from now.

By then, it may be too late to fix the problem.

Kathy Riley


Partisan attacks won't save the bay

The Chesapeake Bay is a jewel to be guarded and treasured. For Democratic legislators to term the additional assessment meant to upgrade antique sewage treatment plants a "flush tax" -- without any regard to the merits of the proposal, only to the political capital to be made -- amounts to malfeasance in office. Do they have a better plan?

I am a Democrat, but I am totally fed up with the posturing and blathering that goes on when a Republican governor puts forth what may be a good idea.

After all, shouldn't those who do the most fouling of the Chesapeake nest have to pay something toward the cost of cleaning up their mess?

Carrie Brennen


Editorial half-right about state's taxes

Let me see if I have this straight. The Sun's editorial "Flush tax" (Dec. 28) criticized Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. as being "wrongheaded" for not advocating an increase in what the editorial referred to as the "outmoded sales tax."

At least the editorial got half of it right.

Tom S. Saquella


The writer is president of the Maryland Retailers Association.

The next way to save the bay?

What next from those mutts in Annapolis? A breath tax, of course. We pollute the air when we exhale. To prove our willingness to clean up the bay, this should logically be the next tax ("Flush tax," editorial, Dec. 28).

We all will willingly attach meters to our persons to monitor each breath and exhalation. I will bet (if I may) that these meters are in the design phase now.

How lax of The Sun's editors to allow this tax to escape their promotion.

Georgia Burch Benson


Recession isn't over for the unemployed

I hope Alison Fraser ("The recession is over -- and that's bad news to tax-cut foes," Opinion

Commentary, Dec. 24) reads the column on the same page by John Atcheson ("On the rebound?" Opinion

Commentary, Dec. 24).

The recession is over? Ask the 9 million currently unemployed and the 2.5 million whose jobs permanently disappeared.

Businesses learned something during the era of "downsizing" -- how to recover and expand without rehiring or increasing their work force.

Harry E. Bennett Jr.


Efficient appliances need not add to costs

Our legislators in Annapolis should override the governor's veto of the energy efficiency standards bill, notwithstanding the protests from the national trade association for appliance manufacturers ("State standards for appliances hurt consumers," letters, Dec. 25).

While national standards may produce even greater benefits than state standards, Congress has been working on a bill for more than two years and there are substantial obstacles that may prevent Congress from passing a bill in 2004. Meanwhile, Maryland and other Northeastern states can respond to the distinct concerns of their communities and their consumers by adopting standards for new products such as highly efficient commercial washers, which save substantial amounts of both energy and water.

The assertion that high-efficiency washers will lead to higher laundry fees for apartment dwellers overlooks the real monetary savings that efficient machines achieve and the ample time (more than three years) provided by the legislation for landlords and service companies to adjust their contracts to share these savings.

Efficient clothes-washers need not raise the price of a single load of laundry.

Steven Nadel

Takoma Park

The writer is executive director of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.

Terror isn't caused by any one person

Despite the naive sentiments expressed in the recent letter "Terror alert confirms Dean's suspicions" (Dec. 28), the capture of Saddam Hussein has contributed to world safety. Has the threat of worldwide terrorism disappeared? No. Do we need to continue to fight terrorism? Of course.

Terrorism is not tied to one person alone -- Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden or any other sociopath.

To believe otherwise, one must be living in his or her own spider hole.

Stefan N. Miller


Viola humor shows classics aren't stodgy

Many thanks to Mary Carole McCauley for her informative and amusing articles about the viola and the jokes it has inspired ("Hardly second fiddle," Dec. 29, and "Violas are instrumental to mirth," Dec. 29).

Classical music, its performers and its fans are all too often portrayed as stodgy and humorless in the mainstream media. Ms. McCauley has done us a valuable service by proving otherwise.

Dyana Neal


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