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The education twins

October 13, 1998

Education - The Associated Press says that for most Maryland voters, it's the No. 1 issue of the governor's race, an issue made more difficult because the two contenders now have nearly identical proposals. And so for voters deciding who to vote for based on this issue, it comes down to which candidate they believe will best be able to carry out their promises.

Incumbent Parris Glendening and Republican challenger Ellen Sauerbrey both want to add 1,000 teachers by 2001, in addition to whatever local systems would need for enrollment increases.

Sauerbrey would use the new teachers to reduce class sizes across the board, while Glendening would deploy new educators to reduce class sizes in seventh grade math classes and to teach reading in the first and second grades. Unlike Sauerbrey, however, Glendening would not mandate phonics to teach reading, leaving that choice to teachers.

For Sauerbrey, the pledge to support public schools is in contrast to her 1994 campaign, in which she backed vouchers and tuition credits for private schools. She says she's changed her emphasis because she feels the governor has a fundamental responsibility to make public schools so good parents don't want their children to leave them. Tax credits for private schools still have value, she said, but added that "the odds of my making it happen aren't very good."

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For Glendening, the next major educational challenge will be helping to get extra funds for Prince George's County, which wants to build neighborhood schools to house students who'll no longer be bused to promote racially integrated schools. And if P.G. officials' tone makes their request for construction cash sound more like a demand, it's because officials there contend Glendening left the county in poor fiscal shape when he ended his term as county executive there and became governor.

Our position remains unchanged: Whoever is elected must work out a school-aid formula based on local systems' needs, instead of on political considerations. This is one issue too important to be left to the political wheeler-dealers.

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