- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 1, 2001

Montgomery County schools talk rubbish

I take great offense at the suggestion of Montgomery County Public School (MCPS) officials that the Montgomery County Student Environmental Activists may not have done our homework ("Student greens rap schools' recycle rate," Metro, Aug. 28). We did our homework, but I'm not sure whether school professionals are able tell the truth. I would like to see the data that backs up county school officials' claim that they recycled 18 percent of their waste "during the first half of this year." According to raw data received from the county's Division of Solid Waste Services, MCPS recycled less than 15 percent every month of the past school year except June 2001 (when it recycled 19 percent). MCPS has not reached its goal of recycling 50 percent according to anyone's numbers.

Our report on the school's waste-reduction program (available online at www.mcsea.org) is thorough and leaves no stone unturned. County public schools Department of Facilities Management Director Richard Hawes claims that our economic savings projections would have been offset by an increased cost of hauling contracts for recycling. Most important, if the schools had any kind of waste-reduction program, there would be no need for disposal of trash or recyclable materials. If the school system chooses to rely only on recycling to cut its waste output, an increased cost of hauling recycling would be offset by a decreased cost of hauling trash.

If the school system is really trying to cut its waste output, it is time to stop defending current practices. In the end, this issue is about more than just money. Schools must begin to work toward creating a future where the young adults who graduate from MCPS will understand the environmental consequences of their actions.

We look forward to being active in the development of our schools' new waste-reduction, recycling and environmental-education programs.


Leader, campaign for recycling in public schools

Montgomery County Student Environmental Activists


Columnists Reed and Knott are hidden treasures

Metro columnists Fred Reed and Tom Knott are two hidden treasures in The Washington Times. For example, just to pick a day at random Aug. 27 Mr. Reed writes such prose as: "If we follow the usual American practice, which is to call names and assume moral positions unrelated to reality, things are just going to get worse." Could this social fact be put more eloquently or directly? Mr. Knott (writing about the Little League world series) tells us that "inadvertent or not, the national eye inevitably spoils the object of its desire, because the cocktail of television, money and celebrity is fairly potent stuff." This is not just good writing, but a sound philosophical argument. I do Knott Reed the rest of the paper until I've checked out Tom and Fred.


Crofton, Md.

Diagnosing the ailing health care system

Adrienne T. Washington's Aug. 24 Metro column, "Mother's illness is lesson in need for senior care," is yet another indictment of a medical system that is failing to meet the expectations of family members and failing to support quality care.

The system's failure lies in its unfair reimbursement for senior care: Medicare and Medicaid pay good and bad providers equally. They pay for units of service, regardless of quality. Additionally, physicians and hospitals are paid for caring for senior citizens only when they get sick.

Government-funded reimbursement programs have no financial motivation to take an interest in senior citizens and prevent their illnesses or to address the numerous social issues that always are commingled with seniors' medical problems. Generally speaking, these government programs try to monitor quality and punish poor performers. This is unlike every other service in a market-based system, in which customers "vote with their feet" and shop for the best service and value.

Each of us must take responsibility for guaranteeing that our medical institutions provide quality care. The "summer of hell" experienced by Ms. Washington and her family should happen to no one.


Senior vice president and medical director

Erickson Retirement Communities

Catonsville, Md.

South Korean president is still champion of democracy

James G. Zumwalt's Aug. 26 Commentary column, "Seoul chills media, clouding democracy," is a misguided diatribe against South Korean President Kim Dae-jung.

After decades of study and travel in both Koreas, I consider myself knowledgeable on this topic. In addition, I am honored to know Mr. Kim and his first lady. I find Mr. Zumwalt's statements to be a disservice to the understanding of your readers.

Mr. Kim is an epic hero who has demonstrated for decades his limitless service in forging democracy in his country even to the point of risking his own life. He presides over the difficult maturation of South Korea's democracy, which has the same core values of freedom, human dignity and human rights as America.

Besides displaying a bias against Mr. Kim, Mr. Zumwalt exhibits a lack of knowledge about Korean political history. Among the points in need of correction:

1. The first civilian president of South Korea was not elected in 1992; it was Syngman Rhee, elected in 1948.

2. There were not one, but two attempts by former military governments to kill Mr. Kim.

3. It was a high-ranking official of the Nixon (not Reagan) administration whose intervention saved Mr. Kim's life.


Adjunct professor

Georgetown University School of Foreign Service


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