LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

THE BALTIMORE SUN

City's loan plan is preferable to school layoffs

Although it may seem unfair, Mayor Martin O'Malley's proposed 3.5 percent temporary pay cut for teachers, which the city would pay back, ought to be accepted by the Baltimore Teachers Union ("Mayor offers loan to ease school crisis," Feb. 11).

In this face-off, teachers should not delude themselves that it will not take a sacrifice from them to set things right. Employees of companies such as Enron and WorldCom got no chance to vote on pay cuts or layoffs when the misdeeds of upper management brought those companies to financial ruin. They were simply shown the door and told to get out.

Opting for a draconian layoff of 1,200 teachers rather than a temporary pay cut would only lead to hellish days of bulging classrooms with the remaining teachers forced to deal with the chaos while the lives of the students are disrupted and the academic gains made thus far are placed in jeopardy.

Andrew Williams

Baltimore

O'Malley overlooked schools for too long

Let me see if I have this right - our mayor, who has done all he can to give welfare to corporations and developers, now wants to "lend" the city schools $8 million only if teachers agree to $8 million in pay cuts ("Mayor offers loan to ease school crisis," Feb. 11)?

The same teachers that we demand serve not only as educators of our children, but also as social workers, therapists, mothers, fathers, role models and all-around saviors?

Perhaps our mayor should have taken more notice of the city schools when former CEO Carmen V. Russo was doing whatever it was that she did to put the school system in financial dire straits.

Cathy Brennan

Baltimore

Don't blame teachers for the budget woes

The Sun's headline "City teachers reject cost cuts" (Feb. 7) was misleading. Teachers are not opposed to reasonable budgeting practices. City teachers rejected a pay cut, as they should have.

The teachers are not responsible for the school system's budget woes. They were not being driven around by a chauffeur paid over $100,000.

Is city schools CEO Bonnie S. Copeland taking a pay cut? Is Mayor Martin O'Malley taking a pay cut?

David Firestone

Chase

With all this talk about teachers taking pay cuts and furloughs, I was just wondering if anyone has asked if the city schools' CEO, who is making more than $100,000, is going to take a pay cut.

And what about all the others who work with her? Maybe they should set an example.

How can they ask people who work hard for a living with kids with lots of problems, and put out a lot of their own money to help the kids, to take a pay cut while they still go home with more money than several teachers put together?

Ellen Marble

Baltimore

Teachers look out only for themselves

It's a sad day for the students of Baltimore now that it is apparent that so many of their teachers are more concerned about their finances than educating the youths of the city. This must be the case, or the teachers wouldn't have rejected the proposal that might have kept 1,000 or more school personnel on the job ("City teachers reject cost cuts," Feb. 7).

If the schools' principals could agree to give up some of their pay, why couldn't teachers make the same sacrifice?

It looks like an "every man for himself" attitude got the best of many of the teachers.

Mary F. Kollner

Baltimore

Schools' CEO, staff should take pay cut

A good leader leads from the front. To show her commitment to the Baltimore school system, its CEO, Bonnie S. Copeland, should encourage employees of all unions to vote for a pay cut by offering to cut her own salary by an equal percentage and request a similar sacrifice from her staff ("Mayor offers loan to ease school crisis," Feb. 11).

While this would be a lesser hardship for her than the pay cuts would be for janitors, secretaries and teachers, it would send a morale-boosting message to everyone and might convince union members to make the decision to preserve the jobs of their colleagues and maintain services for the city's children.

It would also be an additional motivator for the people in charge to become and remain fiscally responsible.

Sabine Oishi

Baltimore

The state must take full control of schools

Please let the state take over complete control of the Baltimore school system ("Mayor offers loan to ease school crisis," Feb. 11).

I am begging for someone to help these children, and I believe that this is the only way that will happen.

Michael Harper

Baltimore

Teachers will bear some of the costs

The writers of the letter "Unfair to make teachers pay for budget shortfall" (Feb. 6) and the column "Pay up, Maryland" (Opinion * Commentary, Feb. 6) display incredible naivete in suggesting that it is unfair for teachers to bear the burden of budget shortfalls.

It may not be fair, but it is reality. In the real world of the private sector, the brunt of financial shortfalls is always borne by those at the bottom of the ladder.

In 1982, I was laid off from a job because my employer lost $500,000 in one week because a blizzard in another part of the country shut down a major part of the operation. At the time, I felt that this was unfair, too. I was no more responsible for that snowstorm than the writers are for the plight of city teachers, but the money had to be made up from somewhere, and my salary was one of those places.

Not everyone at Enron was involved in the financial shenanigans, either, but when the house of cards fell, it fell on them, too.

Welcome to reality, folks. Grin and bear it.

Gary A. Smith

Baltimore

Sponsor a lottery to save city schools

Not so many years ago, when Maryland taxpayers rightly complained about using our tax dollars to build sports stadiums for multimillionaires, the state instituted a special lottery to pay for the construction of the stadiums.

Today, our Baltimore public schools are facing a real crisis ("Mayor offers loan to ease school crisis," Feb. 11). Why not institute a special lottery, and use the proceeds to reduce or eliminate their $58 million deficit? This would mean that we would not have to lay off 1,200 already overworked and underpaid teachers.

If teachers are laid off, class sizes will increase dramatically, which studies have shown leads to lower academic success for students. These children likely will have lower high school graduation rates and be less likely to attend college in the future, which will make them less likely to get high-paying jobs. And this inevitably will lead to a lower tax base for Baltimore and Maryland in the future.

If we can run a lottery for Art Modell, why can't we do it for our kids?

Patrick McFadden

Baltimore

The writer is a former Baltimore public school teacher.

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