Reinstate challenge grants for schools?


Last week, The Sun asked Anne Arundel County readers for their views on whether state officials should reinstate a $558,000 challenge grant to help improve performance at nine schools that serve Annapolis. Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. removed the program from his original budget proposal. The General Assembly returned it in its spending plan, but the governor controls whether the grant is paid out. Here are the responses we received:

Before acting, explain where money will go

House Speaker Michael Busch's challenge grant to "troubled" Annapolis area schools does not warrant the $558,000 earmarked to the program unless Mr. Busch can explain exactly what the money will be spent on, and how it will benefit the children.

The Sun made note of some alleged gains in test scores, but no details were provided. I would like to know the extent of the gains, or to put it another way, the benefit that our state has received from our previous investments in this program.

What we do know is that "troubled" schools derive from a large concentration of "troubled" children, who themselves usually come from "troubled" households and "troubled" parents. Unless the earmarked money will be spent on the root cause of the problem, training "troubled" parents on how to properly raise children, the money will likely provide little benefit.

If money were the answer to raising intellectual, well rounded children, then the children in Annapolis would already be well ahead of their peers in Japan. In fact, they are not even close, and trail most of their national and international peers by a large margin.

Let's start by spending $58,000, 10 percent of the targeted amount, on a training seminar for "troubled" parents. Then let's weigh the results of both programs. Because if we don't attack the root cause of the problem, then we are just throwing up a smokescreen and selling our children short with unattainable promises of a prosperous life.

It starts in the home. It ends in the home. And it doesn't take a village. I am all for assisting parents who need help. I am just not in favor of continuing to invest in the failed programs of the last four decades, and hopefully our governor isn't either.

Michael P. DeCicco


Grants also make humanitarian sense

Especially with its large public housing population, Annapolis has a disproportionate number of kids who need the special help [the challenge grant] money has been providing, apparently with good success.

The money should be restored. It makes economic as well as humanitarian sense: helps the kids to become good, productive, participating citizens.

I voted for Mr. Ehrlich, but with all the sleazy stuff he's been pulling, including this stunt to spite Mike Busch, I sure won't again.

Van Nield


We want your opinions

ISSUE: In response to numerous community complaints and after analyzing accident and citation data, Anne Arundel County police recently initiated a five-week push to combat aggressive driving on weekend nights on Ritchie Highway. Police assigned eight to 11 marked and unmarked cars - and used aerial units - to track and pull over vehicles driving at excessive speeds, passing on the shoulders, changing lanes numerous times and tailgating. The police also cracked down on drag racing, in many cases issuing repair orders to dangerously modified vehicles. Traffic experts have said that one of the most effective ways of reducing aggressive driving is a show of force by police.

YOUR VIEW: Have you experienced aggressive driving on Ritchie Highway at night? Do you think heavy police patrols in that area should continue? Tell us what you think at by Thursday. Please keep your response short and include your name, address and phone number. A selection will be published Sunday.

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