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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

The Baltimore Sun

Liberty or loss in closing Rosewood?

I applaud Dan Rodricks for his column "Intention is good, but is the policy?" (Jan. 20).

Mr. Rodricks correctly points out that Maryland currently has a 16,000-person waiting list for services for the disabled.

So where do the advocates for the disabled think that the residents of Rosewood will go when the center closes in 18 months?

Maryland has a dismal record when it comes to funding for the disabled. As Mr. Rodricks points out, it ranks 44th among U.S. states in the percentage of personal income devoted to funding for the disabled.

I fear that well-intentioned advocates for community-based housing for the disabled have brought about the abandonment of the residents of Rosewood to an overburdened system that is unable to care for our most vulnerable citizens.

James L. Spies

Hampstead

The writer is a member of the Rosewood Auxiliary, a group that represents parents and guardians of patients at the Rosewood Center.

Dan Rodricks' column about the closure of the Rosewood Center is titled "Intention is good, but is the policy?" The simple and unequivocal answer to this question is "yes."

Closing Rosewood Center is sound public policy for innumerable reasons, not least of which are the serious problems with the center's care and treatment of its residents that have been well-documented in The Sun.

People with disabilities deserve to be supported in the community, and taxpayers' dollars should not be wasted on an archaic model that has repeatedly failed the very people it was intended to serve.

Why does the Maryland Developmental Disabilities Council support closing Rosewood when so many people with developmental disabilities are in need of services?

The answer lies in one critical fact: People with developmental disabilities and their families on the state's waiting list want community-based services, not institutional services.

Many of these families have spent their lives and personal funds raising their children at home and in their communities. And no matter how desperate they may be, they would never institutionalize their loved ones.

Addressing the state's developmental disabilities waiting list requires investment in community-based services, not the preservation of costly, failed facilities such as Rosewood Center.

Liz Weintraub Brian Cox

Baltimore

The writers are, respectively, the chairwoman and the executive director of the Maryland Developmental Disabilities Council.

The governor's announcement that he will close the Rosewood Center was very distressing. The Maryland Classified Employees Association is very concerned for the center's residents, many of whom will not be comfortable leaving the only home and family they've known.

And we are also concerned for the state workers.

Contrary to what many state reports suggest, the overwhelming majority of patients' family members will tell you that, overall, the Rosewood staff has provided quality care and compassion, even with chronic staffing shortages, insensitive management and inadequate training and resources.

However, the move from a Development Disabilities Administration facility such as Rosewood to a mental health facility such as Spring Grove or Springfield will not be a smooth and familiar transition for many employees because the skills necessary to care for the developmentally disabled and psychiatric and forensic patients are different.

I hope that the state works diligently to find appropriate homes for the Rosewood residents, as well as for the dedicated Rosewood staff.

The direct care workers and other employees should not be kicked to the curb or laid off now that the state has finally decided Rosewood's fate.

Robert Stephens

Baltimore

The writer is executive director of the Maryland Classified Employees Association, which represents some of the Rosewood Center's state employees.

As the parent of a child with a developmental disability, I have for several years been following the many issues surrounding the Rosewood Center. And I was deeply shocked and saddened by each story published in The Sun about the horrible conditions its residents have had to endure.

When I finally read that Gov. Martin O'Malley had issued an executive order to close Rosewood, in my home there was a collective sigh of relief.

Closing Rosewood is the right decision, no matter how hard the choice was or how much resistance some employees and families may exhibit.

Mr. O'Malley should be very proud of his decision.

It will open up amazing opportunities for people with disabilities who will now experience life in the community.

Lynne Pattison

Frederick

Thank you for the article on the closing of Rosewood and the possibilities of a productive future for its residents ("Life outside Rosewood's walls," Jan. 22).

I have followed this issue closely, as my oldest brother is a former resident of Rosewood.

My brother is profoundly mentally retarded and needs 24-hour care. He is severely disabled.

As an adolescent living at home with a younger brother and sister, he was very self-destructive, putting his hands and head through windows. I recall my parents rushing him to the hospital at night. Finally, my parents decided to place him in Rosewood, hoping that it could provide better care for him. We visited Rosewood every two weeks to spend the afternoon with him. My recollection of that time is an overwhelming sense of lack of freedom, sadness and institutionalization.

When the Baltimore Association of Retired Citizens contacted my parents about the opportunity to place my brother in a group home, they jumped at the chance.

After being placed in the community, my brother thrived. He learned to do things as an adult that no one had ever taken the time to teach him.

He is still unable to care for himself in the most basic ways. He can't communicate his needs. But the group home placement allowed him to get one-on-one attention that isn't possible in a big institution such as Rosewood.

And the one-on-one attention allowed my brother to be treated behaviorally for problems for which he was previously receiving medication.

His lifestyle is now much healthier, with daily productive activities that couldn't be afforded to him in an institutional setting.

My parents and I are grateful for the lifestyle a group home setting has given him. And I hope all of Rosewood's current residents find the same life-changing experience that comes from the personal attention small settings can provide.

Aimee Darrow

Baltimore

Money is wrong way to motivate learning

After reading the article regarding paying students who improve their scores on tests required for graduation, I am so glad that my children are grown and no longer a part of Maryland's education system ("Schools to offer pay for scores," Jan. 23).

What happened to going to school, getting an education and being glad to be able to proceed to the next grade?

The threat of failing a grade, being kept back and not being in the same classes as your friends was all the incentive we needed to get good grades and thus a good education in the 1950s and 1960s.

I am all in favor of children having good self-esteem.

But I feel that this is something that should be earned, not paid for through a bribe.

Joyce Stahl

Parkville

Let's get this straight: City high school students who first fail the Maryland High School Assessment test, then pass it later, can get paid up to $110.

But students who pass with flying colors the first time around get nothing?

The city school system has set up the wrong incentives.

The smart kids should deliberately fail the first time, secure in the knowledge that they surely can raise their scores by 20 percent, then collect the cash.

When will the school board learn what good parents already know --- that the incentives for good performance in school must come from within?

Success in school is not something that can or should be based on a bribe.

Deborah A. Smith

Perry Hall

Voting for war is no path to peace

I wouldn't say that Rep. Albert R. Wynn has become a born-again peace activist after his close call in the primary two years ago ("4th poised for rematch," Jan. 13).

I would rather say that the House leadership sometimes lets him vote against war funding, when they know they have enough votes to pass it.

The scale of the congressional Democrats' betrayal of the peace movement is staggering.

Nearly all of them talk peace, but vote for war - including Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, Sen. Barack Obama and former Sen. John Edwards, whose voting records on the war are nearly identical.

Sometimes Democrats put meaningless withdrawal dates into war funding bills, but then President Bush just vetoes them. So the Democrats take the withdrawal date out and pass the bills again.

Many peace voters still vote for pro-war Democrats because they're "not as bad" as pro-war Republicans.

But I fail to see how this is the case, when so many Democrats often vote for war and against civil liberties.

If we vote for war, we'll get it. But if we vote to throw out the hypocrites who talk peace and vote for war, we'll get peace.

There are enough of us.

Douglas E. McNeil

Baltimore

The writer is treasurer of Voters for Peace.

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