Letter to the Editor from Urja Mittal in the Gazette

May 7, 2008

The County Council should not cut funding for Montgomery Blair High School’s nationally renowned science, mathematics and computer science magnet program for the upcoming school years.

For many years, the magnet program has nurtured a diverse group of students who are enthusiastic and eager to learn. But starting next year, the council is forcing the magnet to take 10 percent of the total funding cuts to the 88 school-based programs.

As a sophomore in Blair’s magnet program, I have already been exposed to new subjects and ideas, such as computer science algorithms and eco-friendly earth science.

My peers have encouraged me to try and learn new things and the healthy competition has brought out the best in me.

The social environment has never been lacking either, with peers who are interested in learning, like me. But with the impending funding cuts, we are losing several precious teachers, and our remaining instructors will no longer have their planning periods. These very planning periods make our unique classes driven and in-depth.

I may lose the opportunity to take specialized magnet electives, some of which are optics and marine biology, and also to take part in a wide variety of extracurricular programs and opportunities. The effects of the adverse budget cuts will be highly detrimental to my and my peers’ learning. And without a doubt, the funding cuts will have long-lasting negative consequences on future generations of magnet students.

Among the Blair magnet program’s many annual achievements are its large output of AP Scholars, National Merit semifinalists and finalists, Intel Science Fair finalists, Siemens finalists, and an amalgam of awards ranging from the natural sciences to the natural arts.

Magnet graduates are accepted into and attend reputable schools throughout the country, such as Stanford University in California and Harvard College in Massachusetts.

In this day and age, when globalization has led to a race for the cultivation of the brightest thinkers in each world nation, it is very unwise for the council to even consider cutting the funding of such a prestigious program.

Therefore, I strongly urge the council to reprioritize its budget to save the magnet. For the welfare of this county, its citizens, and its children, funding for the invaluable Blair magnet program should not be cut at any cost.

Urja Mittal, Potomac