School boards should be electedThe battle between the...

the Forum

June 21, 1993

School boards should be elected

The battle between the Baltimore County school board and many parents has gotten out of hand.

Articles several times a week cite controversies about school issues. Talk show hosts now sense the attractiveness of the issue and have begaun baiting the board and the superintendent.

Whether the superintendent survives the onslaught of his ciritcs or not, the damage in terms of public confidence and trust has already been done.

At issue now is how to restore public confidence and trust.

One step proposed by a number of critics is to fire the superintendent. Without going into the merits of action against Stuart Berger, it is useful to remind ourselves that a school superintendent carries out the policies of a school board.

Particularly if the school board supports the superintendent, as seems the case here, public concerns should be focused on the school board.

It is with the board that we can begin to see the problem, which is that the board has an agenda which ignories the hopes and concerns of most parents.

The most reasonable answer to this problem is to have a school board elected by county residents. It is now appointed by the governor. Most school boards in the country are elected.

While critics may argue that this would only make the situation worse by making education more political, it is already that. What is wrong is that political decisions primarily reflect interests at the state level.

Baltimore County has a sophisticated citizenry, and nothing is more important to them than eduction. An elected board would do a better job in setting policies for county children, and policies would be more attuned to what county residents want.

Herm Schmidt


Jock mentality

Your editorial on the Dulaney High School valedictorian fiasco wrong in placing the "greatest share of blame" on the county school system ("Who's No. 1? Who Cares," June 5).

While that system and its superintendent are not without blame, the real villain in this piece is the White family, particularly Stan White.

There is nothing wrong with a system that encourages its students to take the most challenging courses offered and rewards them for their performance.

This system has been in place for years at many schools with, to my knowledge, no previous closed-door intrigue or outrageous lawsuits. Competition, academic as well as athletic, is very healthy.

Only when the Stan Whites of the world, with their jock ("win at all costs") mentalities and rush-to-the-courthouse-door, knee-jerk reactions, enter the picture do problems occur.

I am reminded of the recent story from Texas of a similarly misguided parent who sought to kill the mother of her daughter's rival for a cheerleader position.

The problem there was not with the cheerleading competition; it was with a compulsive, irrational parent with no sense of perspective or propriety.

Could the same be true with Stan White?

Gerald Langbaum


Media paintbrush

The mainstream media has shown its true conservative and usually right-wing colors in how it depicts the young Clinton administration. All seem to be saying that he needs to get back to the center; that his proposals are too left. Too left?!

What yardstick are they using? Is George Bush their point of reference for centrism? Or Sam Nunn?

In foreign policy we see a replay of 12 years of Republican indifference to human suffering. His positions on Haiti, China, nuclear testing, Viet-nam, Cuba, Palestinians, etc., are certainly no cause for elation among leftists, many of whom voted for Bill Clinton thinking he was the better of two evils.

Domestically, he hasn't shown any real guts yet. Although he is addressing the issues ignored for nearly 25 years, he is bending to the pressure of major conservative lobbyists, the oil and pharmaceutical industries, etc.

The appointment of David Gergen to the White House staff will go a long way toward the goal of Republicanizing foreign and domestic policy. Just watch the media now paint Mr. Gergen as a closet liberal.

yles B. Hoenig


'Educated' youths

This letter is in response to the letter I saw in the May 28 edition of The Evening Sun ("Strolling around the Inner Harbor").

I disagree with where the writer cited black youths as needing to be educated to realize they are shooting themselves in the foot. I did not realize we were not educating our youths, when, in fact, we are.

I am a 21-year-old African-American woman who was educated enough to realize that shooting anyone regardless of any race was wrong.

I resent the fact that the letter put all black youths in a particular category; in other words, stereotyping everyone for an incident that involved a few.

The writer also mentioned that "teen-agers of any race can be intimidating," yet she concludes with "blacks" in particular.

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