Parental concern, political resourcefulness Daughter spurred PTA chief to action PASADENA

November 27, 1992|By John A. Morris | John A. Morris,Staff Writer

The thought of a child in harm's way gives Carolyn Roeding pause -- especially if it is her own.

She worried so much about the lack of sidewalks on the route her oldest daughter, Laura, used to take to get to George Fox Middle School that she got involved in the local Parent-Teachers Association to lobby for sidewalks.

And nearly a decade later, the new president of the Anne Arundel County PTA still worries, but mainly about other people's children.

"When I got involved I learned my kids had it relatively safe compared to some others," recalled Mrs. Roeding, a mother of three girls.

The walk from their home in the 7800 block of Mansion House Crossing to the school on Catherine Avenue may have been a bit tricky for Laura, now 20, Jennifer, 14, and Shari, 12, Mrs. Roeding said. But in 1989, someone else's daughter was killed trying to cross Ritchie Highway near Glen Burnie High School.

Mrs. Roeding joined with Glen Burnie parents to help pressure the State Highway Administration to take a closer look at school zone safety.

Since then, SHA officials have asked her to chair a new School Zone Safety Task Force, which also includes Glen Burnie parents Kathy DeGrange and Barbara Turner.

Already the state has inventoried schools across the state to ensure nearby highways have the proper markings and working lights, Mrs. Roeding said.

The task force now is preparing a handbook, which "doesn't have all the answers, but it does let parents know who to ask" about school zone safety.

Over the years, Mrs. Roeding has grown increasingly concerned with the quality of education in the county. Last year, she rallied about 4,000 Anne Arundel parents to protest in Annapolis against a plan proposed by County Executive Robert R. Neall that would allow the county governments to reduce school spending in midyear to meet a fiscal crisis.

Although the General Assembly passed the "Neall amendment," Mrs. Roeding counts that rally among her shining moments, particularly because all three of her daughters watched from the sidelines.

"It was a chance for them to see Mom outside the home, doing something besides baking cookies and organizing fund-raisers,"

she said.

Mrs. Roeding describes herself as shy, but Del. Joan Cadden, a Brooklyn Park Democrat who also pressed the SHA to appoint a safety task force, says that isn't entirely accurate.

"She speaks her mind at these meetings," Ms. Cadden said. "She's a hard worker, very caring about education in the county and across the state."

Now that she's had some success with safety issues, Mrs. Roeding said she hopes to wrestle with the question of the

state's new community service requirements for high school students and the problem of underage drinking.

She plans to start Tuesday when the county PTA meets at Arundel High School with Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, a proponent of community service, to discuss the issue.

"I have the luxury to get very involved in my children's education," said Mrs. Roeding, who does not work outside the home.

"Not all parents have that luxury for one reason or another. Some single parents have to work two or three jobs to keep the family together."

Other parents get involved at the elementary school level but do not stay involved as their children move on to secondary school, Mrs. Roeding said.

"Sometimes, middle school children need their parents more. There are so many things going on out there, like drugs," she fretted. "I worry that some of their children might fall through the cracks."

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