A Fool To Care About TeachingI write this letter to you...


April 25, 1993

A Fool To Care About Teaching

I write this letter to you with a deep sense of embarrassment. On April 5, it became only too clear that I, as well many of my dedicated colleagues, have been very, very foolish. The obviously pre-planned decision regarding elementary school half-day planning time drove home an ugly reality that I have been desperately trying to ignore.

I have been a fool.

I have been a fool to believe that the work I do is valued or appreciated. I have been a fool to believe that quality of instructional programming is important.

I have been foolish enough to give at least 20 extra hours of my time each week to make my program the best experience for children that I can provide. I was foolish enough to believe that the "drop in the bucket" half-day planning time provided by the board was at least a token of support for what I do.

I have foolishly stood in the corridor of my school at 5:30 p.m. -- putting up displays of children's work (to encourage their efforts) and actually believed [Harford County Board of Education President] Anne Sterling when she gushed her appreciation for my "dedication."

I have worked desperately to meet the demands of a new and ever-changing curriculum because I thought it was important to spend the time to do it right. I have begged at County Council meetings for money for education. I have worked tirelessly to raise PTA money to fill the gaps -- just because I thought quality education was a priority.

I have bought, prepared and developed enrichment activities for my students who need a challenge. I have nurtured -- with much time and effort -- my special-needs students. I have spent weeks of my summer "vacation" taking courses, attending conferences, reading professional literature and working at school. And, silly me, I have encouraged my peers to do as I do -- by being a teacher trainer and a demonstration teacher. As absurd as it now seems, I was proud when Dr. [Ray] Keech paid lip service to Harford County teacher "work ethic."

Well, I am sure that there are many Harford County parents who will be initially pleased to be free of the "bothersome inconvenience" of half-day planning. Initially.

The consequences of this short-sighted and ignorant decision will be less happy. A program can be provided without adequate planning time. A quality program may be a thing of the past -- along with our half-day planning time and all those extra, apparently unnecessary, hours I have been giving.

OK, OK, I think I get it now! Please accept my apologies. I won't be a fool anymore.

Patricia A. White

Havre De Grace

This is a copy of a letter sent to Harford County Superintendent of Schools Ray Keech and school board President Anne Sterling.

HdG Schools

On behalf of the Havre de Grace Elementary Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) school improvements committee, I would like to thank allof the parents, teachers and administrators for showing their support for our children at the Harford County Board of Education Open Forum, held March 22 at Havre de Grace Middle School.

I am certain the Board of Education was pleasantly surprised by the number of people who attended the Open Forum. The 100-plus Havre de Grace Elementary School parents and faculty members in attendance was visible proof that we feel strongly about the quality of education our children receive.

I would like to thank the following individuals whose contributions and hard work made it a success and, hopefully, will have a positive impact on our children's education: Pat White, de facto chairman of HOPE (Havre de Grace Organization of Parents for Education), whose vision inspired all of the HOPE representatives; Ed Saunders, principal of Havre de Grace Middle School, and his competent staff for hosting the Open Forum and assisting us in our presentation; Frank Tull, Dave Cooper and Ruth Ann Young (principal, assistant principal and guidance counselor for Havre de Grace Elementary School, respectfully) for their input, assistance and guidance in the preparation of our presentations and report to the Board of Education.

I would like to thank my fellow committee members: Stephanie Booker, Cindy Brittain and Sharon McKnight. The quality of the presentation and report was a direct consequence of their dedication, contributions and hard work.

Thanks also to the Harford County Board of Education and superintendent of schools for allowing us to speak on behalf of our children. We echo board President Anne Sterling's wish that the Board of Education could have more local Open Forums.

I would like to especially thank Peggy Bowman (vice president, Meadowvale Elementary School PTA) and the young ladies of SMILES for the superb job they did baby-sitting. Their unselfish dedication enabled many parents to voice their concerns without interruptions or unnecessary worry. It is this added dimension which allows more parents to become involved in public meetings concerning their children's education. . . .

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