State Superintendent of Schools Joseph L. Shilling has made the Maryland State Board of Education, the Maryland government and all Marylanders an offer they dare not refuse. He has offered a plan for the long overdue and dramatic changes in public education {"Initial $328 Million Price Put on Md. School Revisions," Metro, July 25}.

The plan's goal is that by the year 2000 all students will start school ready to learn, achieving at least satisfactory progress in basic academics and graduating from high school prepared for a job or higher education. As near as anyone can guess, the plan's price tag will come to $328 million, though it is not likely that the board of education will recommend all of the plan to the governor and the general assembly at once.

Proposed strategies to achieve the goal include: early intervention services to give at-risk children from birth to age 5 and their families access to comprehensive services, which would be funneled through one caseworker; flexible school organization to give kids a choice about dropping out by allowing them to complete high school on a part-time basis in evening and Saturday classes; requiring all high school students to choose either a college preparatory or vocational program; extending the school year from 180 days to 200 days; requiring compulsory school attendance to age 18; and making kindergarten mandatory and pre-kindergarten mandatory for all disadvantaged 4-year olds.

Frankly, I don't think raising the compulsory school age attendance to 18 will necessarily solve any problems. It makes more sense to give the drop-outs a way to continue their high school education on a part-time basis. Very little of a positive nature is ever achieved by keeping a student in school who is dead set against being there. As for increasing the school year by 20 days, it makes more sense to extend the school day by one hour. This would increase school time by 16 percent, as compared with 11 percent gained from the 20-day increase. Extending the day would cost less than extending the school year and accomplish the same thing.

It is my earnest hope that in making its recommendations, the school board will place its emphasis on providing early intervention services and requirements for mandatory kindergarten and pre-kindergarten for all 4-year-old disadvantaged children.

To really be effective, drop-out prevention must begin as early as possible. And if we're going to make kids spend more time in school, let's make them spend it where it counts most -- at the very beginning of their school life.

ULYSSES CURRIE State Delegate (D-Prince George's County) Annapolis