'Irresponsibility In Schools': You're So Right

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

November 21, 1993

Recently, many teachers read the ideas expressed by Stephen Wallis in The Sun ("It's Irresponsibility In Schools, Not Race," Nov. 7) with both enthusiasm and optimism.

As those closest to the educational process, no one is more concerned than we about the opportunities provided for all students to learn successfully. Teachers, on the whole, are dedicated professionals who have chosen their livelihood because of a genuine commitment to our youth and the betterment of society. But educators, regardless of dedication, can not do the job alone.

The educational process is a contract, requiring support and common goals from both the school system and concerned parents. Both must be committed to creating a learning environment that fosters the opportunity for all to achieve to their full potential. Mr. Wallis has offered some constructive options that deserve serious discussion by educational and community leaders.

Increasingly, education has been asked to take on roles that other elements in society have been unable to master. Education is not a panacea for all the ills of society. It is, however, the cornerstone on which the future of this nation is built. Educators are working hard at putting their house in order. Ongoing curricular changes, scheduling options and improved instructional methods are all being explored within the system.

Those efforts, however, are meaningless unless the community accepts its responsibility to contribute to a positive academic atmosphere in our schools. Parents, as well as the school system, must be willing to hold children accountable for their role in a learning environment conducive to serious academic

pursuits. In a society that often seems to be slowly deteriorating, certainly, education holds the key to a brighter future for every element of our society. Isn't that a goal worthy of mutual commitment? Mr. Wallis' suggestions bring together the elements necessary to achieve that goal -- responsible parents and competent, caring teachers.

The nation was built by people of courage and vision. We applaud Mr. Wallis for his initiative and concern. He is a professional dedicated to providing the best possible educational system for our community. We, also, have a profound respect for his willingness to speak frankly about legitimate concerns within the school system. The future of our educational system now depends on people, like Mr. Wallis, to provide leadership for positive change.

Jack Thomas

Columbia

The writer is a social studies teacher at Wilde Lake High School, where Mr. Wallis is an assistant principal. This letter was also signed by 35 other staff members at the school.

Thank you, Stephen Wallis, for your insightful, courageous words as expressed in your guest column, "It's Irresponsibility in Schools, Not Race" that appeared in The Sun Nov. 7.

All the committees, new programs, new approaches, reshuffling of administrators, teachers or students within the school system will not make one iota of lasting difference if it isn't based on some simple, obvious truths. For too long, we've rationalized unacceptable attitudes and behaviors beyond common sense. I

call it the "Ooh, aah, poor baby syndrome."

I couldn't agree with you more that self-esteem will not and cannot take root if we continue to reward the mediocre or less and continue to enable this negative, insulting, assaulting, helpless, disruptive behavior so often demonstrated by the biggest offenders of the norms of basic, civil, human behaviors within our classrooms. It has absolutely nothing to do with race, creed or ethnicity. It has to do with the best of what makes us beings of a higher order -- humans.

Thank you for speaking up for all of us who, for whatever reasons including lack of courage, have failed to do so. I am in my 23rd year of teaching in our Maryland public schools, and I know that this issue has not been honestly addressed.

Dorothy Anderson

Ellicott City

Amen, Amen, Mr. Wallis, you hit the nails right on their collective heads. Not one but all of them right square on the head. It's about time the real truth was spoken concerning the nation's school system instead of using that old cliche called race.

Your column . . . should be reprinted and sent to every household in the state as "must" reading for all.

As a grandfather of eight whose grandchildren will in all probability use the public school system, I think Mr. Wallis would make a good superintendent for Howard County. Frankly, I think he would make a good superintendent for the entire state. How about it, governor?

Robert Thomas Jr.

Columbia

The letter from Stephen Wallis to The Sun Nov. 7 was powerful. We support his thoughtful and insightful suggestions. We also recognize that it takes a tremendous amount of courage to speak the truth and we, as parents, have been guilty of sitting by too long while one experiment after another was tried without positive results at the expense of our children's education. . . .

Aside from agreeing with Mr. Wallis' suggestions, we were struck by the sheer power of what his words actually mean . . . responsibility, truth, leadership, honesty, excellence, possibilities, opportunity, vision, wisdom and success. It's time that we, as parents, committed to excellence in school, stand up and support the return of our schools to greater learning.

Mr. Wallis has stepped up to the plate with very thoughtful, practical suggestions. He is speaking for thousands of parents who are frustrated by a school system that seems more inclined to bow to the latest fad instead focusing on the task of challenging our children and aiming for the highest goals. . . . He has earned our utmost respect for speaking to the public forum . . . the truth.

We support him 100 percent and we hope that the administration will give serious consideration to his suggestions.

Daryl and Richard Roe

Columbia

This is a copy of a letter sent to Howard County Superintendent Michael Hickey.

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