Some thoughts on Maryland ballot issues
To the editor:
The ballot for the upcoming election is filled with many questions for voters to consider. Many local residents have asked why I voted as I did during the legislative session. I would like to address just a few of the items.
Question 4 is known as the “Dream Act,” which offers in-state tuition to some undocumented or illegal immigrants. It is aptly named “Dream Act.” Because these individuals do not have valid Social Security numbers they cannot work legally in our country. Any employer who hires them after they have obtained a college degree will be breaking the law. I struggle to explain to those who have spent years and large amounts of money obtaining citizenship legally, the equity of this act.
Question 5 is the Redistictring question. Look at the map; it has been described as a Rorschach test image or worse. Note that the opposition is very strong and bi-partisan. This map discriminates against minorities as much, if not more than, political parties.
Question 6. Same-sex marriage. This is about the definition of a word, not rights. Proponents were offered civil unions or domestic partnerships, but felt this made them second-class citizens. As a Christian it is a fearful day for me when we are trying to change God’s provisions. Even for those without strong religious convictions I believe that the unintended consequences for this are far reaching and greater than we know.
Question 7. Expanded gaming. Terrific promises of jobs and money. The original five casinos have not been built yet, so the argument that we need a sixth site to keep money from going to West Virginia is curious. The sixth site will not be built until 2016, so the money and jobs will not come soon if at all. Many other areas of the country are already feeling the effects of overbuilding. Ocean Downs recently returned slot machines after the opening of Maryland Live in Anne Arundel County.
I believe that the beauty of our democracy is that different opinions can be expressed and in this case voted into law. It is not my intent to influence your vote, but to provide some background that may not have been previously considered.
Delegate, Subdistrict 2A
School board doesn’t need self-promoters
To the editor:
Based on the Washington County Board of Education meetings I have watched and the coverage by this paper, I believe the two candidates that have the best interest of our children in mind are Justin Hartings and Wayne Ridenour. Both have consistently made decisions that support our children and have showed positive attitudes in all meetings. They have made difficult decisions when necessary and do not show overt negativity in meetings, yet they can promote the system while still asking tough questions when necessary.
The same cannot be said about fellow member and candidate Donna Brightman. Again, in the many meetings I have watched, Brightman dominates the discussion and yet has nothing positive to say about our schools. I find this disturbing and confusing, considering the positive impact our schools have had on my children and grandchildren. Certainly, our schools must be doing something right. I cannot decide whether this is an attempt to make political points or just self-promotion. After all, I, like many, have not forgotten her anger over not having her name on a plaque at a new facility.
Another candidate, Melissa Williams, appears cut from the same cloth. In her profile, Williams took shots at the performance of the school for the arts and then, after confronted with a letter supporting the school by a former student, responded that she was misunderstood and would not advocate for the school’s closing. She goes on to say, however, any high school with an enrollment of 222 would have to justify its continued existence (watch out, Hancock) in the hypothetical event of a budget crisis. Williams claims West City and its population of 400 is too big in one breath, and then says BISFA is too small in another. In the letter, as well as in her response to Herald-Mail questions, Williams comes across as someone who believes she is the only person who understands the needs of the system. The last thing this board needs is another person looking for self-promotion.
Sharon J. Wilson
Don’t sell the crown jewel in hard times
To the editor:
Students attend the Barbara Ingram School for the Arts (BISFA) to exercise their passions. In the process, they expand their minds using artistic enterprise. Last year, their SAT scores topped all Washington County schools. If you have seen their art exhibits, concerts, major performances, or simply listened to any individual student relate their experience, you will realize that their arts education has a value greater than the cost of this entitlement. Ninety-three percent of graduates have enrolled in college.
The building has no cafeteria. BISFA students sit on the floor, lunching upon their knees. No complaints! If they participate in a sport, they have to arrange transport back to their district. To attend the Barbara Ingram, they have to part with friends from elementary and middle school. That’s not easy for a 14 year-old. And, they show willingness to rehearse new skills and keep up with studies under adult-like schedules. Their eager and cheerful attitude makes you blush after listening to so many teenagers complain of “boredom”!
BISFA may have been the brainchild of former Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan, but we need to appreciate it as a commitment to our future. The payoff lies 20 years down the road. It equals rewards gained for training our young people in S-T-E-M, International Baccalaureate or any college-prep discipline. Like cultivating flowers in our vegetable garden, it adds to the greater good in ways that we cannot calculate at this stage of development. School Board members or candidates need to consider this when studying funding allocations. Don’t sell the crown jewels during hard times!
M. Douglas Becker