Why The Sudden Transfers Of School Staff?I am disturbed by...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

July 11, 1993

Why The Sudden Transfers Of School Staff?

I am disturbed by The Sun's position supporting Dr. Mickae Hickey's involuntary transfer of staff members in the Howard County school system.

The editorial (June 22) states that "absent any concrete evidence other than school system's goals," Dr. Hickey's

dictates should be followed. . . . Dr. Hickey has never explained these "goals" regarding transfers nor has there been any indication why certain people were selected over others. . . . Your editorial confuses involuntary transfers who were given no reasons for these changes with teachers who were transferred due to changing enrollments and shortages in subject areas. Teachers who were surplussed were told that enrollments were down at their schools; dwindling enrollment in a particular course is not the issue. The issue is simply this: Teachers were transferred and have never been told reasons.

Dr. Hickey and The Sun seem to equate the public schools with the private sector. . . . Transferred employees in the private sector are given reasons for transfers, often receiving compensation and/or glowing performance evaluations. To date, the teachers have received nothing other than a form letter stating this is for the "overall needs of the school system and the individual schools involved and is in no manner a reflection on your teaching performance." Does private industry, or The Sun for that manner, do this?

The president of the Howard County Education Association has presented the school board with a sampling of teachers' fears and frustrations. He has invited them to talk to teachers about the growing frustration and resentment within the other schools. It is reprehensible and demoralizing that no one has accepted his offer. . . .

Teachers invest enormous amounts of time and energy for the classes and courses they teach. This is not, as The Sun editorial believes, "coveting" a position: This is developing a program for the students. Teachers order materials and books in the early spring from school and personal funds based on the fall teaching schedule which the principal gives to them. Near the end of the school year, high school students are given schedules and frequently meet their teachers for the following year. High school teachers often spend part of the summer writing college recommendations for students they have taught and in the fall, help many of those same students with their college application essays. Teachers have developed a caring relationship with students, students' siblings, parents and the community. This is what teaching is all about. Springing an involuntary transfer on a teacher two weeks before the end of the school year is unfair to teachers and their students.

If the Howard County superintendent believes that such transfers . . . are not punitive, then these changes should be discussed with teachers as part of the planning process. In the interest of better human relations among all involved, teachers, parents and a representative from the elected school board should be a part of that planning. . . .

Gloriann Mehlman

Ellicott City

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I am a 17-year-old senior writing to express my frustrations concerning the transferring of all three of our administrators at Mount Hebron High. On the evening of June 9, I had the opportunity to speak with Associate Superintendent James McGowan and Director of High Schools Daniel Jett; it was not a meeting where thoughts and ideas were mutually respected or exchanged.

I attended with the purpose of representing the Student Government Association's views on this matter. When I was at the meeting, . . . I was treated disrespectfully. The most important question I asked concerned the purpose of the move.

Instead of responding with a direct answer, Dr. Jett chose to answer with a very roundabout, convoluted response. As part of his response, Dr. Jett mentioned that one of the administrators had just completed a first year as an administrator and the Department of Education considered this as a learning experience. My response was that next year all administrators at Mount Hebron will be in a learning process for the entire year.

Despite the fact that I had valid and reasonable concerns about the future of Mount Hebron, I felt that my words were twisted and I was ridiculed. . . . For example, when I said that I understood these changes were for the students' good, Dr.Jett said that, "I never recall saying 'for your good.' That's something I say to my children. . . ." Dr. Jett chuckled as he said that and obviously wanted to make me feel I was a child and my concerns were unimportant. . . .

After the meeting, I still had unanswered questions. Why was there no warning to this change? And why had they not discussed this issue with the Mount Hebron community before making such drastic changes? Finally what is the purpose of switching so many administrators at one school?

Sara K. Cho

Ellicott City

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