Classroom ReformAfter a year of bashing teachers and...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

July 08, 1993

Classroom Reform

After a year of bashing teachers and unions, now The Sun has decided that teachers unions are obstructionists to educational reform rather than educators.

What a short memory The Sun has. It was the Baltimore Teachers Union that led the education reform movement in Baltimore City with its restructured schools program. Those 14 restructured schools have paved the way for school-based management that has been implemented at the remaining schools in the system.

In addition, the BTU sits on committees that look at restructuring schools to better serve our students, like the Enterprise School concept. Not only do we participate in these committees, the BTU has waived certain contractual rights to allow schools and their staff the freedom to pursue educational reforms that will improve schools. Does this sound like an organization that blocks reform?

The Sun editorial staff thinks that teachers should only concern themselves with books and classrooms, like they think autoworkers should only concern themselves with cars. What The Sun fails to realize is that reform affects the working conditions of the classroom. If we restructure schools, the classroom teacher is the catalyst that makes that change possible. Without the expertise of the classroom teacher, what is planned in the isolation of the board rooms will not succeed.

While the BTU might not always agree 100 percent with reforms that are discussed, our position of remaining open and being willing to negotiate has placed the BTU in a strategic position to forge new alliances and create an atmosphere of excellence for both students and staff.

And perhaps The Sun, which thinks automobile workers should stick with mindless work on the assembly line, doesn't know about the Saturn plant in Tennessee that has developed a unique partnership between workers and management that has been hailed as a success and a model for other auto plants around the country.

Front-line workers have creativity and vision and want the consumer (whether student or car owner) to be satisfied, and they want to play a role in creating that satisfaction. Obviously, The Sun thinks that union members should be seen and not heard.

Irene B. Dandridge

Baltimore

The writer is the president of the Baltimore Teachers Union.

Dark Ages

As a parent of a daughter with multiple handicaps, I must respond to the June 14 column by Michael K. Burns, "Short-Changing Children in the Name of Inclusion." Short-sighted people like Mr. Burns keep us in the Dark Ages in respect to education of the handicapped.

After years of fighting the Baltimore County public school system to have our daughter mainstreamed, we were able to see her graduate from Towson High School June 9.

Her handicaps are complex and certainly not easy to overcome. She is moderately retarded and suffers from a bipolar affective disorder with obsessive-compulsive behaviors.

The school staff at her segregated school said that it would never work for her to be at Towson High. It did work and it worked well, and it was worth the fight.

It was not easy. Inclusion is needed to prepare our children for integrated lives. It is wrong to place a child in a segregated school on the outskirts of town and then at the age of 21 place her in a society that hasn't known who she is.

Our daughter has become much more independent as a result of attending Towson High; she graduated a year earlier than usual, she is in her own apartment at the age of 20 with the support services of the Kennedy-Krieger Institute, is ready to be employed and is more ready for independence than if she had been at her segregated school. To graduate from Towson High was her dream come true.

It is time to engender a society that allows all people a reasonable opportunity to live, work, and play with brothers, sisters, friends, and neighbors.

Nancy Warner

Towson

Pray at Home

I, too, believe in prayer and the power of prayer, but if those who are insistent upon prayer in schools are that concerned, they should have prayers with their children at home every morning and then there would be no need to subject other peoples' children to what they believe.

Remember, these are taxpayers also and are paying for the education of their children.

Another solution is to send children to religious schools.

I believe the state of the nation would improve dramatically if children witnessed prayer or ethical behavior and choices in their own home and from their parents and associates.

The only reason someone would want prayer in schools is to influence other children with his beliefs whether their parents want it or not.

Christine Satterwhite

Baltimore

Wildlands

Thanks to Douglas Birch for his article (June 16) on the vanishing natural heritage of Maryland. Marylanders need to be made aware of this terrible problem. But, they also need to know about solutions.

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