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Letters to the editor

February 22, 2004

Perhaps candidates don't understand the situation


To the editor:

After reading many of the school board candidates' responses and a letter to the editor this week, it is clear to me that there are many misconceptions and misunderstandings about the Board of Education's budget and just how far it can stretch a dollar. There is no room for any more school-based cuts; it is already skeletal at best.

Washington County ranks high in income, but ranks low in its per-pupil spending, yet teachers and administrators in the county have proven they can do more with less and succeed, but at what cost? Textbooks in Spanish, French and other content areas are over 10 years old. The professional improvement budget has been cut, so teachers can no longer attend seminars or join professional organizations to receive up-to-date information in their content area or improve their own skills.

To meet National French Honor Society requirements, I will have to pay my own membership dues into the American Association of Teachers of French just so Williamsport High School can continue to have a French Honor Society. The same is true for Spanish and German. I had to pay for most of my master's degree with my own money, though having a master's or its equivalency within a certain time period is a state and county unfunded mandate.

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The French Club has had to raise money just so my classroom can have a DVD player in my classroom to complete required curriculum listening comprehension exercises. I spend much more money for other supplies, equipment and student rewards. My classroom computer and its software are so antiquated that I cannot even use the Board of Education's Web site to create my own Web page.

The suggestion that world languages are being introduced at the elementary and middle school level because non-native English speakers will not learn English is ludicrous. These programs are being introduced to benefit learners. Empirical evidence and research prove that with each year of language study standardized test scores, analytical skills, study habits, knowledge of one's own language and appreciation for other cultures improve dramatically.

Knowing another language makes one more attractive to employers because we are now living in a global society. If you are an emergency personnel worker in Montgomery County, you receive an additional sum of money just for knowing how to speak another language even if you never use it on the job.

I am not in the teaching business for money or for glory, but I do all that I do with my own time and resources because it is what's best for my students. Washington County's Board of Education has proven that it can do more for less, but imagine the incredible things that could happen if it were to ever have a fully funded budget from the state and County Commissioners.

Paula R. Moore
Hagerstown




Say no to gun control


To the editor:

Senate Bill 288, entitled "Maryland Assault Weapons Ban of 2004," is being fast-tracked by the Senate Judiciary Committee, and if allowed to pass will result in a comprehensive ban on most semi-automatic firearms, including some types of center-fire rifles, shotguns and pistols.

Under this bill, proponents define assault weapons by starting with "any semi-automatic firearm that takes a detachable magazine" and then checks to see if it has any cosmetic feature they don't like, such as a pistol grip or thumbhole stock. Then it bans "copycat guns" - meaning anything that the state thinks resembles an assault weapon. And it gets to decide what that is later!

To top it off, the bill mandates registration of any such firearms that are already in private hands by a certain date. But because the state can retroactively ban any gun it wants later, you might not know to register your gun with the state police in time - putting you in possession of a contraband weapon - which will get you a mandatory sentence in jail, which can be for as long as 20 years!

SB 288 is being passed off as a "public safety bill." Once again, the Senate Judiciary Committee has decided that you and I, as American citizens, need to be protected from these "assault weapons" and that we, as ordinary citizens, are not capable of deciding what weapon(s) we can and cannot possess. Now, ask yourself this question: "Why is the Senate Judiciary Committee fast-tracking this proposed legislation?" I'll tell you why. First, because fast-tracking gives the citizens less time to stand up and tell them "No!" Second, it's a way for them to advance their political agendas of more gun control (read that as taking away our right to "keep and bear arms").

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