Museum a supplementFrom: Arnold L. LehmanDirectorThe...

Readers write

May 31, 1992

Museum a supplement

From: Arnold L. Lehman

Director

The Baltimore Museum of Art

I would like to draw your attention to a section of the article "Teachers urge council to find money for raises," [The Harford County Sun, May 17] by Carol L. Bowers. A paragraph at the end of that article may lead to an incorrect perception about Baltimore's cultural institutions.

Contrary to The Harford County Sun reporter's account, The Baltimore Museum of Art enjoys a strong and continuing part nership with Harford County teachers. We see our educational programs for school children as a supplement, not as a replacement, to the excellent, ongoing work in the schools.

Harford County teachers have taken advantage of teacher workshops and information packets developed by the BMA education department on a regular basis, and Harford County students at all levels have visited, benefited and enjoyed the museum this school year.

In light of the present shortage of art teachers in the Harford County elementary schools, county parent-teacher associations have implemented the BMA's Picture Parent Program, in which museum docents instruct Harford County parents in introducing BMA works of art to elementary school students in the classroom. Members of this same group are diligently working toward increasing the number of art teachers for Harford's elementary schools.

We applaud the Harford County coalition of concerned parents and teachers in their enthusiasm, determination, and passion for art and art education in Harford County.

Field trips to the museum do not "make up for the gap in art education" in Harford county's elementary schools; instead, visits to the BMA are an irreplaceable complementary component to any student's education in art and world culture.

While nothing compares to the experience of viewing, in person, the wealth of great art at the museum, there is no parallel to the opportunity for creativity and cultural appreciation in the classroom.

We at the BMA strongly believe in the power of art in education to strengthen all curricula for students in our community. We look forward to our continued partnership in art education with the Harford County schools, teachers, students and parents.

Speakers misrepresented

From: Michael Korczynski Jr.

Bel Air

Carol Bowers' article "Teachers urge council to find money for raises" misrepresented the statements made by certain speakers at the May 14 budget hearings.

She correctly stated that "several speakers . . . asked for support for county grants . . . to cultural institutions such as . . . the Baltimore Museum of Art." Then she incorrectly stated that "they argued that Harford students' field trips to those institutions make up for the gap in art education created by a lack of elementary school art teachers."

I recall that four speakers represented two museums. None stated or suggested that the grants were needed to make up for the gap in art education created by a lack of elementary school art teachers. Your reporting could lead the cavalier, uninformed reader to conclude that the responsibilities of the Baltimore Museum of Art and art teachers are the same. This could lead them to conclude that the BMA could be a surrogate for elementary school art programs, and that art teachers are not needed as long as we have the BMA. Eliminate the art teachers, leave support of the BMA to the city, and get art education for nothing.

During the current year, more than 10,000 Harford County residents will visit the BMA. This includes more than 1,000 students whose transportation to the museum is funded by the PTA. The grants are needed to support the operations of the museum in general, and this includes the work of its Department of Education and Community.

One of the responsibilities of this department is to develop and maintain the corps of volunteers who conduct gallery talks and tours for visitors of all ages. Volunteers also work with teachers to ensure that the subject matter to be covered during the museum visit will complement the school's program. Since a typical one-hour tour might cover six to eight works of art, one field trip can't equate to the base which must be built within the elementary school.

At present, the number of elementary school art teachers is deficient. According to the Harford County public schools' preliminary objectives for the 1992-1993 operating budget, certified staff for the 1991-1992 school year included 50.6 music specialists, 36.4 physical education specialists, 29.5 reading specialists and 29.4 librarians. With only 10 art specialists, I consider the gap to be a chasm.

This situation is understood and appreciated by the Board of Education and members are making a courageous effort to reduce the deficiency. In contrast, the county executive has proposed a funding scenario which should be unacceptable, because it implies that the citizens of Harford County are not willing to support and demand excellence from their school system.

The Baltimore Museum of Art and the Walters Art Gallery need and deserve financial support from Harford County. The Board of Education needs and deserves the financial support of its citizens.

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