Finalists for superintendent discuss school issues

June 23, 1991

Walter G. Amprey, 46, associate superintendent for the division of staff and community relations in Baltimore County.

LOCAL CONTROL: The notion is not new but represents what many principals have been doing all along.

"You've got to embrace it. You've got to have your people embrace it. Sometimes people feel they're giving up control -- that they didn't have in the first place. That takes staff development."

PLANS AND IDEAS: No plan would be developed befor conversations with people within and without the school system.

"There's a tendency for many of us, some of us who havbecome consultants, to promote a one-size-fits-all answer to problems that are very complicated. . . . It has been a challenge to me not to put out pronouncements."

The top priority would be keeping youths in school, in terms of both improving attendance and increasing graduation.

"Schools have to be inviting. They have to be attractive. They have to be magnets. When I say magnet, I don't mean magnet in the pedagogical sense. . . . They have to be an environment that attracts youngsters despite the odds."

He believes in recognizing the positive and building on it.

"I think how people move and make progress is very simple. I think they do it based on how they feel about themselves. If we can get this group, this city, the collective groups together to say that this thing is doable, I think the rest falls in place."

The superintendent's role is to inspire and build coalitions to solve problems.

"People say, 'What are you going to do about it?' I'm not going to do anything. I'm going to pull you all together, and we're going to solve the problems.

"To think that I'm going to come in here and have all the answers, that's not a realistic expectation."

STYLE: Would identify people with skills that complement hi and "let them be my teachers."

"My greatest sense of power has come from giving it away. It's by getting the best out of people."

BALTIMORE: City schools are "not as bad as made out to be."

"If you ask me what the city's greatest problem is, I would say it needs a continuous program of development regardless of who the people are. That's another way of saying stability. . . .

"I think there are definitely some problems, and I think there are some serious problems.

"I wouldn't be sitting here if I didn't think we could solve the problems."

Charles M. Bernardo, 53, former Montgomery County and Providence, R.I., superintendent and, since 1980, an educational consultant and real estate professional in Florida.

LOCAL CONTROL: Advocates shifting more power to schools, but "I don't see a system where each school operates as a school system. I don't believe it would be legal or preferable. . . . I do see that discretionary power can be given to principals."

PLANS AND IDEAS: Would develop a strategic plan witbroad-based community involvement.

Suggests establishing a privately funded foundation to provide incentives and rewards for good programs in city schools.

Some areas of emphasis would be math and science, children'readiness for kindergarten, safety in schools, seeking adequate funding for the system, raising the community's expectations of its schools and improving staff's "sense of inspiration."

Central office staff must be brought to realize that "the only reason they are there is to aid and assist professionals to cause children to grow."

Principals would be judged on their implementation of the plan and on raw achievement test scores showing students' progress. His motto: "Inspect what you expect."

"I see a central strategic plan. I see centralized citywide goals and objectives. And I see an organization at the top that aids and assists people."

Baltimore can be "the lighthouse urban school system within a reasonable period of time." The soonest that measurable change should be expected is four years. "By the end of three years, we should know where we're going."

"Look what you've done in this city in terms of capital and physical reclamation. . . . Why can't we make the next decade in Baltimore the decade of reclamation of children? We just might do it. I hate to fail."

STYLE: "I expect a great deal from myself, and therefore I expec a great deal from the people around me.

"The superintendent's style will be one of reaching out to the community and not waiting for invitation."

BALTIMORE: "The ship has been turned around. You don't nee a savior. . . . You're already on a fast track. You're not in shambles. And it would be a pleasure for me to learn from you."

Sees a "collective will" in Baltimore at odds with the divisiveness in many other cities. "There's a focus here."

Patsy B. Blackshear, 43, associate superintendent for management services, human resources and labor relations, Baltimore public schools.

LOCAL CONTROL: "Our current effort is a beginning. . . . It is impossible if the responsibility and accountability and authority are separated.

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