State school systems told to bone up

THE WEEK IN MARYLAND

new standards revive...

November 25, 1990|By Compiled from news reports by Jeffrey M. Landaw

State school systems told to bone up; new standards revive chance of lawsuit

The state's school systems knew bad news was coming, and they got it.

The schools got their first report cards since the State Board of Education approved tougher performance standards last spring under pressure from Gov. William Donald Schaefer and the General Assembly. None of the 24 systems passed all eight categories of achievement listed by the Department of Education, which issued the reports. Howard County passed seven of the eight and Frederick and Montgomery passed six. But Baltimore City failed in all eight, Anne Arundel passed only two; and Baltimore County passed just four. "This is a new way of doing business in Maryland," said a determinedly upbeat Joseph L. Shilling, the state superintendent of schools. "On a statewide basis, we don't meet very many standards, but this is a benchmark that shows where we are so we can develop a road map to improvement." The report cards raised the possibility that Maryland's poorer school systems might try again to sue the state for equal school spending.

Get kids out of high-rises, report asks

High-rise public housing is no place for children, especially if it's as crime- and violence-ridden as Baltimore's, according to a special task force that wants the city to move families with children to other housing units. But the task force is still considering whether the city's 18 dilapidated family high-rises -- home to 2,000 people -- should continue to be managed by the city or sold to private developers. The task force -- which included residents of public housing, politicians, education officials, lawyers and leaders of housing advocacy groups -- was established in February by Robert W. Hearn, executive director of the Baltimore Housing Authority, to determine the best use for more than $100 million in federal funds that the Housing Authority expects to receive over the next 10 years. It made its report in a letter to Mr. Hearn and Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke, but still must make its final recommendations, and they will be subject to the approval of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the availability of other housing.

State getting another area code

So many people want to be faxed, beeped or called in their cars that Chesapeake & Potomac Telephone Co. is splitting the state into two area codes to keep up with the demand for new numbers. C&P will give Baltimore and counties east of the Patuxent River, including the Eastern Shore, the area code 410 next year, while the rest of the state, including Washington's bedroom suburbs and Western Maryland, keeps the number 301. Mark Davis, area code coordinator for C&P, explained that Washington suburban residents have already undergone two calling changes in the past two years, including dialing the area code and number for local calls to the District of Columbia or Northern Virginia, and it would be unfair to make them face a third. He added that C&P has so many more business and cellular phone accounts in the Washington area than in Baltimore that it would cost too much to reprogram the western part of the state.

City flips out, wins gymnastic trials

Memphis, Tenn., had a new arena under construction, and Columbus, Ohio, had hosted a U.S.-Soviet dual meet. But Baltimore beat both of them out to host the tryouts for the 1992 U.S. Olympic Gymnastics team. What made the difference? Mike Jacki, executive director of the United States Gymnastics Federation, strongly suggested that it was the fact that the hotels that would house the athletes are within walking distance of the Arena. "These young people have spent perhaps two-thirds of their lives to get to this point," he said. "They, most of them, will not get another chance. They need very, very few distractions. Therefore we are very concerned about servicing and transportation, everything to make it as simple and meaningful as possible." It didn't hurt that Baltimore also promised the USGF a guarantee of $350,000 based on a budget of $1.7 million, most of which is intended to be underwritten by corporate sponsorship. The city and surroundings expect to gain more than $5 million from the trials, said J. Randall Evans, secretary of the Maryland Department of Economic and Employment Development.

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