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Letters to the editor

August 08, 2005

Calling all herbalists


To the editor:

Mountain State University in Beckley, W.Va., has a bachelor's degree in herbal sciences. The course description and more information can be found in "The Herbal Dispatch" for January 2005. ( www.mountainstate.edu/usda). The program sounds wonderful and will fill a void in the herbal education of many people.

My biggest problem with the program is the distance from the Eastern Panhandle. If we could generate enough participation, MSU has agreed to offer a weekend program here in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia, in Martinsburg. We are not limited to only the bachelor degree, there are these possibilities: 1. Courses (if that's all you want) 2. Certificate program; 3. An associate degree, or 4. A bachelor's degree.

We just need at least 15 people to commit to attend the program.

I'm sure there are at least 14 more people in this area who are interested in learning more about herbs.

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The cost of attending MSU's herbal sciences program will be significantly less ($270/credit hour, $810 for a 3-credit course) than tuition at any of the private schools (Clayton; Tai Sophia, etc.) and you may even qualify for student financial aid!

The MSU Web site has more information on its enrollment process ( www.mountainstate.edu/prospective/enrollment/apply)

If you're interested, think you might be interested, or just want more info, please e-mail me at " more_about_herbs@yahoo.com" and include a name, e-mail, snail mail address and phone number.

All the info we collect will be passed on to Dr. Mario Morales at MSU. We'd like to get started planning our herbal future so please contact me before Aug. 25.

This is a golden opportunity for us to get more education, maybe even get a college degree in something we love. We can share our knowledge with each other and grow herbally. We'd love to have you join us. Thanks.

Kathryn L. Hare

Martinsburg, W.Va.




No takeover of Baltimore schools


To the editor:

Your recent editorial of Wednesday, July 20, criticizing the state's plans for reforming the Baltimore City Public School System's special education programs was an exercise in faulty reasoning based on a collection of factual errors. Consequently, it was important to also see the follow-up column of Tuesday, Aug. 2, which pointed out the errors in the original editorial.

I have closely followed the issue and I can assure you that the state has not called for a takeover of Baltimore City's entire school system. Rather, it is suggesting greater state involvement in the city's special education program, which has long been under federal court scrutiny for its failure to provide mandated special education services to children.

The editorial indicated that Maryland's involvement in Baltimore City could result in more funds moving to Baltimore and out of the pockets of Maryland taxpayers. The opposite is actually true.

As State Superintendent Nancy Grasmick pointed out in your follow-up column, Maryland has offered to become more involved in Baltimore City's special education program, in part in an attempt to save millions of federal special education dollars that federal officials are threatening to withhold from the entire state if the situation in Baltimore is not resolved. These federal funds are designated for Washington County and all local school systems.

It is time to put an end to the myth, perpetuated by the editorial, that the state has somehow taken over Baltimore City schools in the past. Maryland school systems are fiercely independent and the General Assembly has shown little interest in changing that. When the General Assembly created the City-State Partnership for Baltimore City schools, it limited the state's role to sharing with the city the appointment of city school board members. Beyond that, the state is involved in monitoring failing city schools, and those of the other 23 systems.

One point of your editorial was on target: That the Baltimore City special education program needs to be overhauled. The question remaining is who should do it. Should Baltimore City, which has failed to provide federally mandated service to special education students for two decades, be given yet another chance? Or should the state be given greater authority to try something other than "business as usual?"

My hope is that the Maryland State Board of Education and Superintendent Grasmick be given greater authority in Baltimore City's special education programs. Without strong reform, important funding could be taken away. But more importantly, another generation of special-education students could be lost.

Peter E. Perini Sr.

Hagerstown

(Editor's note: On July 26, The (Baltimore) Sun reported that one of the two options presented to the judge in this case, though not the state's preferred course, was for the complete takeover of the Baltimore City school system.)

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