Letters to the editor 3/9

March 11, 2003

Chances aren't as rosy as they appear

To the editor:

I think you did something of a disservice to Washington County residents in your article on area gambling statistics on the front page of the Sunday, March 2, Herald-Mail.

The writer seemed to emphasize winnings and made that the bulk of the presentation. However, if I read the statistics in the article correctly, it appears that the "winnings" of some $45 million in the area are the result of some $75 million in "sales."

Rather than dwelling in the feature on the statistically insignificant number of folks who actually get big winnings, I think the real story here is that for every $75 someone invests in the lottery, they get (on average) $45 back. Actually, for most players, the real return is even worse.

If you don't happen to be one of the folks that the article features - one of those who win one of the infrequent big pots - the actual realized average winnings returned to the regular players are reduced even more.


That's because for every big winner, the pot of money available to distribute to the average player is reduced even more, so the real return to the folks who don't win big is probably lower than $1 for every $2 spent.

Obviously, the article is playing to the interest of the average lottery player who wants to hear about the people who actually win something (and the fantasy that it sometime could be them...). However, the socially responsible treatment of this subject would put the winners into perspective, emphasizing that for most players, every time one plunks down $2, you can expect about $1 of that to go toward helping out the state's revenue shortage.

And you should expect back in winnings something less than about half of what you put in. I would have thought that a better emphasis for the feature on local gambling would have been that most of us should be able to think of better ways to spend our money in the local economy that are more productive - like buying something, or paying for a service - that actually creates some useful economic activity in our region.

Alternately, perhaps a better emphasis for the article could have been to describe someone like the guy we stood behind at the local Sheetz last night, who plunked down a wad of bills totaling over $300 (and didn't look like he could afford it). How about describing what he and his family are doing without, so he can fork over to the state an average of $150 every time he does that?

Steve Specht

Kids receive good education

To the editor:

As a Washington County resident, taxpayer and parent of two children enrolled at Cascade Elementary, I pay close attention to positions on education and other issues that can affect my community and family. Under the able stewardship of Superintendent Betty Morgan, I believe the county is providing quality education for the 20,000 school age kids enrolled in the county's public school system.

I believe that Washington County teachers and administrators are to be commended for their professionalism, dedication, and commitment to providing an education that ranks sixth in academic excellence in the State of Maryland even though our county ranks 19th out of 24 jurisdictions in spending per pupil.

I also believe that such issues as CIP funding, implementation of state and federal testing requirements, especially the mandates of the No Child Left Behind Act, future redistricting and consolidation matters are getting proper attention by both the Board of Education and County Commissioners.

While the two boards won't agree on all education issues, they do seem to have developed a good working relationship that will only benefit our children and the taxpayers in the long run.

In reading Harold Phillips' most recent letter to the editor and the correspondence during his ill-fated campaign, I get the clear impression that he believes Washington County's public education system is a dismal failure.

If I'm to take at face value his view of public education, I should be enrolling my children in a "world class" school in either Singapore or Taiwan. Perhaps we should spend the taxpayer's money to ship kids to schools in the Far East. No thanks, Mr. Phillips. My children are receiving an outstanding education at Cascade Elementary thanks to such hard-working professionals as Mr. Novinger, Ms. James, and Ms. Jones.

Unfortunately, Phillips has not changed his tune in several years. In reading his misguided letters, he appears obsessed with selling one point of view, even though the school system is rapidly moving ahead to upgrade instruction, expand the offerings to our students with a new vision for a world-class system and putting out a lot of energy on behalf of your kids and mine, he still sings the same old song.

He also neglects to mention that the system undergoes some 16 major audits yearly as required by the state and federal governments without any issue or problem. So what's broken?

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