TRIM's Negative Effects

That was a good article on the changes in the Prince George's school administration [Lisa Frazier's "Inside Prince George's" column, Prince George's Extra, Nov. 3]. You are absolutely correct about the schools being underfunded and the teachers underpaid. However, I don't think the county can be blamed for this altogether. When the tax cap TRIM was voted into place, the voters in Prince George's County crippled their own school system.

And given a second chance to vote TRIM out, having seen the results of a tax-starved school system, the citizens again voted to keep the caps. I think this is incredibly short-sighted and demonstrates that the majority of people living here really don't care about education the way they should. I don't even have children, and I voted to abolish TRIM in hopes of improving the schools.

Why? For a combination of altruistic and practical reasons. First, my property values are damaged by living in an area noted for poor schools; it really limits who will buy here. Second, poor schools create larger pools of young people who are going nowhere fast and don't have the goals and discipline to keep themselves out of serious trouble--trouble that I live in the midst of. But third, I think voters ought to feel that the next generation is important to us, that we have a responsibility to provide good opportunities for them. After all, who's going to be my doctor, lawyer, librarian, what-have-you, when I'm old? We better start raising them now.

Christine Howlett

Mount Rainier

It's Up to Taxpayers

What next? asks Lisa Frazier.

I think the question asked of the County Council, the county executive and the state legislators ["all those who control the county's purse strings"] needs to be asked of me, you and every other taxpayer. Are we willing to pay the cost to support our schools, our administrators, our elected officials who must work with the resources [tax base, tax revenue] available-- under a Tax Restricted Initiative (TRIM) in Prince George's County? After all, we make the decision about what goes in the purse!

Jacqui Woody

Upper Marlboro

Woody is a former aide to Prince George's County Council member Dorothy F. Bailey (D).

Questioning Motives

Living on the Maryland side of the Wilson Bridge, I have to wonder if anyone is thinking about the $1 billion National Harbor Project that will have exit and entrance lanes coming off the bridge, and that is why they want 12 lanes instead of 10. Could it be the bridge is designed to meet the demand not only for regular commuters but also for the 90,000 additional cars and trucks a day coming into and out of the National Harbor project? Of course, that is only during the peak season (March through September). . . .

As for the additional funding, how can Maryland spend $500 million or more for ramps to and from the National Harbor project but have no money for mass transit? Does anyone realize that U.S. Reps. Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) and Albert R. Wynn (D-Md.) are trying to keep environmental agencies and the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission out of the decisions being made on the National Harbor Project, which also means that citizens will be excluded? I guess our elected officials need more campaign contributions from big developers, not votes from us. Along with the biggest bridge in the world and a billion-dollar project, you would [think] our elected officials would care more about our quality of life and the air we breathe than their pockets. If we can't turn to them for help, who can we turn to?

Tonya Pometto

Oxon Hill

Enlightening Column

I commend you on an excellent article [Lisa Frazier's "Inside Prince George's" column, Oct. 27]. Very enlightening! The episodes of "Any Day Now" on Sunday night were excellent. The show brings to mind a lot of things that I saw growing up in the '60s and '70s.

A lot has changed. However, there is still work to be done. Just last week I was in Hecht's looking at some ladies suits and was approached by a middle-aged white woman who proceeded to ask me if we sold blazers and if so, where were they located. I looked at her and responded, "I'm sure they do." She said, "Oh, I am so sorry. I thought you worked here."

For all she knew, I could have been the owner of the store! But we are not perceived as such. . . .

Such things will always be memories, but I will not harbor on the hate that people have displayed toward me and others of my race. Life was made for living, and that is what I intend to do. I am a beautiful, proud black woman, and I love myself. I know there are those who look at me as if I am nothing, but I know that I am one bad sister!

Patricia F. Mosby

Greenbelt

On Magnet Schools

For more than six years, the Prince George's County Association for Talented and Gifted Education (PG TAG) has been calling for:

* increased accountability for schools,

* uniform implementation of magnet programs,

* principal selection by knowledge, experience and support of the program they are administrating and

* a return of full-time magnet program coordinators.

I am pleased to see these recommendations finally accepted by school officials in the recently released magnet report. [See related stories, Page 3, 26-28.]

Advocates could have predicted these results, but in previous administrations, these concerns fell on deaf ears. We see the report as an opportunity for the new administration to make these necessary corrections. We urge them to do so before making any irreversible decisions about what programs to significantly change or eliminate. . . .

In addition, the current focus on enrichment is problematic in our system. All too often, the enrichment is not delivered, and when it is, it is not an in-depth study of materials as it should be, but extra work and fun activities that take the place of real learning.

I look forward to finally having an open and honest public discussion of these results and their implications for children, something long overdue. I caution about moving too quickly. We all want results soon, but rushing into ideas that sound good but have not been well thought through by all stakeholders will only set us back another four years. Now that the administration is producing real evaluations and making the results public, let's take the next steps: really examine what the results mean and why we are getting them. Only then should we start to select and implement solutions.

Joan Roache

Bowie

Roache is a member of a school system task force that wrote a report assessing magnet elementary schools in Prince George's County.

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