Boyse Mosley: some tough talk about whole city

MICHAEL OLESKER

September 20, 1990|By MICHAEL OLESKER

When Boyse Mosley arrived at Northwestern High School the other day, some of the kids started calling him Mr. Mayor.

Usually, they just call him Sir.

Mosley's made a reputation around here as a tough guy on schools. He's done it as principal at Northwestern, and he's done it on radio and TV talk shows.

Now he's talking tough about the whole city. He says he wants to run for mayor against Kurt Schmoke, and he's already taking shots atpeople he thinks stand in his way as a political figure and as an edu-cator.

"Just look at the mayor," Mosley was saying yesterday. "Every time he makes a decision, he takes too long, he vacillates, he ponders too much."

I called the mayor's office for a response to Mosley's remarks, and they said they'd get back to me.

But they took too long for today's editions.

Maybe everybody was vacillating or pondering too much.

"Where would you like the mayor to be more decisive?" I asked.

"He should have fired Hunter," said Mosley.

"Dr. Richard Hunter, the school superintendent?" I asked. "The man who's your boss and isn't going to like reading these remarks in the newspaper?"

"I know, I know," said Mosley. "But the truth is, the mayor should have fired him. He wanted to fire him, but he succumbed to pressure from segments of the black community. The ministers, they're the ones who wanted to keep Hunter."

Mosley's right, but only partly. Schmoke felt pressure from plenty of blacks who might have their own problems with Hunter but didn't like a black mayor being critical in public of another high-ranking black official.

Mosley is also a public official who happens to be black.

"But," he says, "we've got to get beyond that. The fact that the mayor responded to pressure indicates the type of leader he is. He's easily persuaded. And, you see, Hunter has the same characteristics as Kurt in terms of vacillating, in terms of making decisions.

"They deal too much in theory, they spend too much time reflecting. The mayor is a fine man, an extremely intelligent man. But the Titanic is sinking and they're saying, 'Gee, should we get life rafts or not?' "

The schools are the city's Achilles heel.

The dropout rate's high, the graduation rate's low, and the reading and math scores make you wonder what's going on in a lot of classrooms. It's not just 1990 that'sat stake, but the decades to come.

"It's time," Mosley said, "to make people accountable. You've got Dr. Hunter making all this money, and he's just a public relations man. Isn't that essentially what he does? I was hoping he'd call up each of the principals and say to us, Let's look at your program.

"What you do then is make each principal present a program, and be accountable for that program. And give the principals four-year performance contracts, and if they don't conform, they're out."

Mosley's even tougher on teachers. He thinks some are incompetent, some have grown lazy, and he wants some of them fired.

"A lot of them," he said. "Anywhere from 30 to 50 percent of our teachers should be removed from city schools. Give teachers one-year contracts, and if they can't do the job, get rid of them. Too much is at stake. When you have large numbers of youngsters not passing functional tests, something is dreadfully wrong with the teaching corps."

L Mosley knows, of course, that that's only part of the story.

The schools have these kids for six hours a day, and the world has them the rest of the time. The world is not always kind. A lot of the kids come from broken homes where nobody's monitoring their work. The TV is a constant distraction, and so are the streets, and the drug dealers are a plague.

In the face of that, the schools have to get the kids into class in the first place, and then the teachers struggle not merely to instruct, but to hold kids' attention.

"Yes," Mosley said, "but some of the problem is right in the classroom. Let's be honest about this. The administrators are afraid to say this. The teachers don't like to hear it. The mayor doesn't want to hear it, because the teachers union is a force that votes for him. But it's true."

If it is, it's also easier to say it from an academic perch than from a political platform. How do you buck large groups of organized voters, such as the teachers, and hope to get elected?

"That's the thing nobody understands," says Mosley. "The electorate wants to hear the truth, they want to hear the tough thing, they're yearning to hear the right thing."

Mosley said he started thinking about politics two years ago and got serious when he was approached by people with money. He says he'd need about $150,000 to run a serious campaign.

While this is going on, the man who preceded Schmoke, Clarence "Du" Burns, is making his own plans.

In the mayoral race three years ago, he came up just a little short even though he had almost no money. This time, he wants to see money up front. If he gets it, he says he'll run again.

The election's still a year off. If Burns and Mosley are lining up this early, how many others might be making their own plans?

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