Family Day Care Providers And The LawAs a resident of the...


April 18, 1993

Family Day Care Providers And The Law

As a resident of the state of Maryland, I am required to follow its laws. If I undertake an activity which demands that certain procedures be followed to assure that I am within the laws, I had better be sure to have proof that I have followed these procedures. Otherwise, it will be assumed that I am not undertaking the activity legally. It is interesting to note, however, that some groups are apparently immune to such stipulations. One such group is the board of directors of the Mayefield Homeowners Association in Bel Air.

I am referring to the lawsuit that this board has filed against myself and my family in an attempt to remove my in-home family day care from this neighborhood. It is trying to do this by claiming that a covenant in its by-laws prohibiting family day care was instituted legally, but it has no written evidence to prove this.

In 1989, the state of Maryland passed legislation defining family day care as a residential activity, not a business activity, therefore making it impossible for HOAs to invoke by-laws against business activities to shut these day cares.

Unfortunately, the law did create a way, albeit a difficult one, for associations to institute bans on day care. The law allows these bans if a full 51 percent of all eligible voters in the association votes to outlaw family day care in the community. The Mayefield HOA has this by-law in its covenant, yet it does not have a document to prove that it fulfilled the requirements of the law. This corporation, which is required by law to keep records of its activities, has very negligently (and conveniently) lost all written records from 1989 and 1990, the time period during which the alleged vote against family day care was tabulated.

The situation worsens when you find out that several people who were in the community during that time period distinctly remember a vote on a day care issue, but claim that this vote was presented to them as a way to protect against day care centers (i.e., Kindercare-type centers), not as a way to eliminate family day cares (i.e., day care mom-type homes). . . .

In 1989, the state of Maryland recognized the need to encourage family day care homes, which provide fully 60 percent of available day care in Harford County and 40 percent of available day care statewide. Because of this need, they passed laws to protect day care providers from HOAs.

Obviously, this protection is not extensive enough. I would encourage day care providers, as well as families who depend on day care, employers whose workers depend on day care, and Maryland residents who are concerned about providing adequate care for our children to speak out about this issue. Call or write your delegates, county executives, Gov. William Donald Schaefer and local HOAs, demanding legislation that further restricts HOA's rights to interfere with family day care, an activity that is not only classified as residential by the state, but that is also essential to the state's children.

Nancy J. Yeager

Bel Air

The Issue Of Time For Teachers

Two Sundays ago, as I arose at 7:30 a.m. to start working on the briefcase full of work I bring home from school, I nearly choked on my coffee as I read the local section of The Sun.

Board of Education member Keith Williams should be ashamed of himself for making the statement quoted in the article about the issue of elementary teachers' planning time.

He says that secondary teachers deserve more time because they have more students. This shows not only insensitivity, but it also reveals a basic misunderstanding of how schools operate.

Additionally, the reporter had shown either incompetence or bias since she had interviewed me at her request the previous Friday and had gotten from me information which could have been used to counterbalance the outrageousness of Mr. Williams' quote. And to add to the irony, the reporter spent the time with me on the phone during my planning period. . . .

I am a fifth-grade teacher. I have 31 students in my homeroom class. I teach each of them reading, written composition, spelling and social studies. That is four subjects times 31, which equals the equivalent of 124 students.

Then, I have 34 in my math class. Add that and we have 158. Then I team-teach with a colleague. She takes my kids for science, and I see hers for social studies. Add 32 more for a grand total of the equivalent of 190 students. And that is not even taking into account literature, art, handwriting, discipline, record-keeping and so on. My calculations do not even account for the extensive team planning time needed to implement integrated curriculum.

I donate approximately 14 hours a week of my own time to the Harford County public schools in order to do my job in the classroom. The least the Board of Education could do for me and my students is allow me to have a decent amount of time in the building to do a few of these tasks.

Mr. Williams just does not get it. And he is passing his misinformation onto the public by making wildly inaccurate statements to the press.

The Sun just doesn't get it either. How about coming into a classroom and spending a day with a teacher, including all of the time before and after school spent on prep time? And how about presenting that to the public before the board votes on the planning time issue, instead of after?

Any classroom practitioner will tell you that all levels of instruction require adequate time for planning and preparation. Anything less will result in cheating the students of quality education.

The citizens of Harford County deserve to have Board of Education members who are fully cognizant of what it takes for a teacher to do his job. And they deserve to have a press which knows how to present a balanced picture of an issue.

Paul S. Schatz

Bel Air

The writer was Maryland teacher of the year in 1987.

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