The Maryland State Board of Education has brought forth a proposal to lengthen the school year to 200 days {Metro, Sept. 26}. In response, our professional educators and local school board politician-educators have lambasted the idea as being of minimal value and as too costly.

It is remarkable that at a time when Gov. Schaefer is declaring a "state of financial emergency" in Maryland, the state board of education is hatching a "more business as usual" scheme without regard to the cost-effectiveness of the education dollar.

The classroom teacher is the linchpin of quality education. We must do far more to refocus our attention and energies on invigorating support for the teacher. We must have the courage to cut out the fat from administrative overhead and to oppose mindless and simplistic proposals that duck the tough issues of how to really improve education.

The state of Maryland has a long way to go in providing real support for quality education. How many Marylanders are aware, for example, that Maryland ranks 41st among states in funding for education?

The state board of education would do better, and we citizens would be better served by the board, if the board would undertake the tough assignment of lobbying for redirecting state funding to education.

Let's place the dollars where they belong -- in public education. And let's put the dollars to work where they will have the greatest impact on quality education -- in the classroom, where an improved teacher-student ratio can provide the opportunities for individualized instruction, which will lead to better education.