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Letters to the Editor

April 28, 1999

Why link these issues

To the editor:

I am writing to respond to the Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down section of Saturday's, April 2 newspaper in which Dels. McKee and Shank were given a question mark and asked why they voted to support the Governor's collective bargaining bill for state employees and not the tobacco tax.

My question to your newspaper is what does one have to do with the other?

I can only assume that Dels. McKee and Shank voted in favor of the collective bargaining legislation because they realized that granting these essential, democratic rights to the many state employees who live in their districts was the right thing to do.

It took true conviction on the part of both of these delegates to be two of only four Republicans statewide to vote for this important legislation. Rather than be vaguely criticized by your newspaper for their actions, they should be applauded and commended for doing the right thing and representing the best interest and the will of many of their constituents.

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On behalf of AFSCME Local 1772 and the nearly 1,500 correctional employees that we represent at the Hagerstown correctional facilities, I would like to thank Del. John Donoghue for being a co-sponsor of the collective bargaining legislation and Dels. McKee and Shank for voting in favor of this legislation.

Finally, state employees will have the same rights in law that private sector employees have had since the 1930s. Our members will remember these delegates and their support in the future.

Steve Berger

President

AFSCME Local 1772

Where's the fluff?

To the editor:

This paper on Friday, April 9, quoted Commissioner Paul L. Swartz as saying that the Board of Education (BOE) budget is "filled with fluff."

As one who follows the BOE budget process, I would like to know, "where's the fluff?" I think it is the duty of Commissioner Swartz, as one who was formerly a part of the BOE system, to publicly disclose, in detail, where he thinks the fluff is located in the BOE budget. I look forward to his detailed list.

W. Raymond Ketrow

Hagerstown

Music an educational key

To the editor:

Why do we need to have music in our elementary schools? We need music because it is part of our everyday lives and a vital part of our past. Beethoven is considered a genius because of what he did for music, and so are Bach, Handel, Brahms and Joplin. Not everyone can be like them, but they should be given the opportunity to try. They should be given the opportunity to learn about music.

In school, students are supposed to have every chance to learn and express themselves, and with instrumental music you can do both. In school, we are offered every possible academic subject, yet we don't have the chance to learn as much about music as we want to from the start.

Students in high school and middle school are given the chance to learn about the world of music, but the elementary students are only given a small part. In school all of the basics are taught out of necessity, but what about instrumental music? Students don't learn the basics for instrumental music until middle school.

As Denise Diterot, a French philosopher said, "Good music is very close to primitive language." So why is it so long in students lives before they start to experience it?

Another reason that instrumental music should return to elementary school is the pressures that the students face. Now that there is no backing in instrumental music before middle school, students are given less time to understand their instruments and decide what they want to do about their talents.

Teachers are also pressured. The music teachers now have a larger curriculum than ever for one year. They need to teach two years worth of material in one year. This sets back their plans for the sixth grade year and all the years that follow. The potential of the instrumentalists in this county has dropped because of the fickleness of the instrumental program in this county.

Years ago, instrumental music was a vital part of society. Now it is the start of the new millennium and we are in a crisis. Music is becoming obliterated. Even though only the elementary instrumental music has been cut so far, all of the other music programs are in danger of being destroyed as well.

In other counties across the nation music programs are more abundant than ever. In some counties they are thinking of starting instrumental music as early as second grade. Unfortunately our county has not come across this idea and we are going in the opposite direction.

Lauren Meyers

8th grade student

E. Russell Hicks

Hagerstown

COLAs failing

To the editor:

Social Security and Medicare are undoubtedly this nation's most successful domestic policy initiatives. They are the foundation for the retirement income and affordable health care that American seniors depend on. It also helps families when the wage earner becomes disabled or dies. If tragedy strikes a family, Social Security is there to help. It isn't only for seniors but for all ages.

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