'Cheap Publicity' for School ChiefWhat a slap in the...


October 22, 1992

'Cheap Publicity' for School Chief

What a slap in the face!

Nancy Grasmick, Maryland's superintendent of schools, returns to teach one first-grade class for the first time in 10 years and gets a brightly-colored picture of herself and a headline labeling her a "super teacher" smeared all over the newspaper.

Worse still, the "regular" teacher has the gall to commend Dr. Grasmick for her "bravery" in returning to the classroom! Can you possibly tell me what is so courageous about helping a six-year-old boy make a hand puppet?

As a veteran classroom teacher with 23 years of experience in Baltimore County middle schools, let me tell you how I spend my mornings, not on just one random day but on 180 of them.

I arrive at school at 7:15, an hour early, to catch up on paper work and to counsel adolescents who have been unruly or simply unprepared for class the day before.

I often spend this time meeting with parents who have thrown up their hands in despair over "Johnny's" rude and insolent behavior. When homeroom time rolls around at 8:15, I face 30 students, some of whom stroll in late with no books.

At 8:30 I face another group of 30 or so youngsters who are there to learn American history. Half of this group has not done last night's homework. I "invite" those 15 or so to come in early the following morning for "extra help" and then we go on.

At 9:15 I return to the previous day's tests to another batch of 12-year-olds. I go over the test and gently explain that it is highly unlikely that the dates for Columbus' four voyages to the New World could have been 1450, 1499, 1562 and 1608.

And, no, America was not named for "Franco Americano" nor was the Mayflower one of Columbus' three sailing vessels.

I will repeat this procedure three more times during the day; I will meet with my team of fellow teachers to discuss how we can improve "Johnny's" reading and writing skills and prepare him for the functional tests and a myriad other exams designed by Dr. Grasmick to see if I'm doing my job.

After a half-hour lunch break and a brief planning period, I will attend a mandatory after-hours faculty meeting where the school nurse will issue all of the teachers a set of rubber gloves to be used in the event of a classroom "accident."

I am told that this will help protect me from being exposed to the hepatitis and AIDS viruses as well as a host of other nasty little infections that could come my way during contact with children.

At 4 p.m. I will head home with a pile of papers to mark and a stack of phone messages from parents to be returned.

For all of these efforts I receive a salary that pales in comparison to Dr. Grasmick's; I will likely be furloughed before the school year is over and I will never get my picture and the caption: "super teacher" in The Sun.

But would I trade my job for Nancy Grasmick's? Not on your life. Despite its obvious pitfalls, I love teaching.

It is my chosen career and I intend to stay with it. But if Meredith Schlow wants a real story and not just the fluff, I would gladly switch jobs with her for just one day. . .

Dorothy Dowling


Public and Private

A recent Sun article by Eric Siegel, "Families struggling to pay private school tuitions," is an obvious puff piece to promote school choice, to divert public funds for private schools and to subsidize the $100,000-a-year standard of living of some with the taxes from the $25,000 households. This entire proposition is objectionable.

Missing from the article is the assertion that many families with children attending public schools are also struggling in this economic crisis. In fact, there are families that have been struggling for years and there has been no attempt by any agency to offer genuine help.

Here are some suggested solutions for the "struggling" private school advocates:

* Send your children to public schools and advocate proper public school funding as a community responsibility.

* Suggest increased class sizes and other "cost savings" in private school to drive down tuition costs; these budgetary devices seem to be okay in local public schools.

Edward W. Veit


The writer is president of the Teachers Association of Baltimore County.


Not Foreigners

As an American citizen of Korean descent and an avid reader of your newspaper, it has come to my attention that on many occasions when Americans of Korean descent have been involved in news events, your paper refers to them as "Korean grocer," "Korean merchant" or "Korean whatever" (as in your Oct. 15 story headlined "Korean grocer is shot, severely hurt, in latest of . . .").

This tends to separate these Americans as if they were foreigners. They are American citizens, not Korean citizens. After all, other than Native Americans, most Americans have some foreign ancestry.

In your paper, I don't see any articles with headlines such as "British immigrant President George Bush," "Jewish banker killed," "Italian pizza store owner stabbed" or "German bakery man robbed," etc.

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