Change in Baltimore County SchoolsThe recent series of...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

May 23, 1993

Change in Baltimore County Schools

The recent series of editorials and letters published in The Sun concerning the tenth anniversary of "A Nation at Risk" were very thought-provoking and informative. If nothing else, they have further underscored the fact that change in public education comes at a snail's pace, if at all.

The very nature of teaching, the fact one can teach what is already known, what has already happened, dictates a climate that looks to the past rather than the future. To move forward, to be creative and innovative in the field of education, one must be brave and willing to take risks. Unfortunately, those qualities are found in too few contemporary educators. But there is hope.

The Opinion * Commentary articles in The Sun by Walter Amprey, superintendent of schools for Baltimore City, and Stuart Berger, superintendent of schools for Baltimore County, allude to travel on paths not heretofore taken. Hopefully, the challenge generated by these articles will stimulate the type of creative thinking necessary for progress.

Dr. Amprey and Dr. Berger have both recommended and initiated fundamental changes in the way their respective systems operate. Unfortunately, both of these capable educators are hampered by major obstacles: Dr. Amprey by a web of political intrigue that has plagued Baltimore City school superintendents since the beginning of time; Dr. Berger by a self-inflicted public relations problem with his constituency that only time and a serious effort on his part will correct.

Baltimore City with Tesseract and other similar programs has already made a significant commitment to the concept of school-based managed institutions. The success of school-based management stands or falls on the quality and competence of the manager, the principal.

Since this is a fundamental change in the management of the Baltimore County public schools also, it would be of great value to Dr. Berger, the members of the Board of Education and the central staff to make every effort to inform parents and teachers of two major aspects of the change.

First, the public and teachers should know what the desired outcomes are; what is to be gained by making the change. Second, information should be easily available about the preparation being given to enable principals to handle different and greatly expanded responsibilities.

Prior to this, the principals in Baltimore County had a great deal of support through a chain-of-command type of organization. They implemented decisions primarily at the staff level. Their role in adjusting curriculum for the local school, managing certain categories of money and making needed staff changes has been marginal at best and relegated them to the position of making recommendations with the final decisions being made at the staff level.

One would hope that all school-based managed programs are successful. Common sense dictates otherwise. Those in the system who have already been intimidated by Dr. Berger's stormy arrival will be very reluctant to experiment, to allow teachers some creative space to try new approaches that might fail as any experiment might.

Only the strong will survive, and maybe that's at the bottom of it all. But the question one must ask is: What happens in those schools where school-based management doesn't work? How long will it take for an administrative change to be made?

These are but two of many important questions that should be addressed openly if parents and the general public are to be expected to support such an important change in the way schools are managed.

Wayne Burgemeister

Towson

The writer is a retired Baltimore County assistant

superintendent.

Ocean City Area's New Hospital

Unfortunately, The Sun did not find it newsworthy to report the dedication of the newly completed Atlantic General Hospital, located at the junction of U.S. Route 50 and Route 113 in Berlin, seven miles from Ocean City.

To build this community hospital, the state provided $5 million, Worcester County $5 million, Ocean City $2.5 million and the Town of Berlin $50,000. The people of this area, local businesses and summer visitors showed their dedication by contributing $4,033,500.

Atlantic General Hospital opened on Friday. A staffed emergency department operates 24 hours a day. There are 56 rooms for inpatient care plus an eight-bed critical care unit and the usual amenities of a general community hospital.

Before the advent of Atlantic General Hospital it was necessary to drive 30 miles to Salisbury for hospital care. Certainly the thousands of people from Baltimore who vacation here will be happy to know that a modern hospital with surgical services will

be close at hand in the event of an emergency.

Francis J. Townsend Jr., M.D.

Berlin

Cost of Service

I write as a Navy veteran most empowered after having participated in the recent March on Washington.

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