School boards can be elected city-wideAn editorial and a...

the Forum

January 07, 1994

School boards can be elected city-wide

An editorial and a letter in The Evening Sun Dec. 27 regarding elected school boards require reply.

I have long advocated an elected school board with its own taxing powers. Therefore, I strongly disagree with the city charter review panel that recommends against an elected school board.

Perhaps one reason for our disagreement is that we differ on how that school board would be elected.

In your editorial you state the review panel's fear of ". . . . emotionally charged multi-district elections." That fear may be well-founded.

But I am advocating the school board be elected at-large, not by districts.

Then the board could satisfy the desires your editorial attributes only to a mayor-appointed board, that it represents "a cross-section of the community, providing a diversification of ideas, experiences and traditions. . . ."

Even though I live in the city, I also believe Baltimore County should have an elected school board, rather than one appointed by the governor.

Therefore I must state that views in the letter from Philip Stoler (Dec. 27) are unrealistic and even insulting to Baltimore County residents.

"Apathy" would be to a failure to vote in regular primary and general elections.

But Mr. Stoler accuses citizens of being apathetic if they do not participate in ". . . . PTAs, community associations, civic groups, churches and synagogues . . ." to influence the School Board Nominating Convention.

But what of independents, free thinkers, loners, etc., who for one reason or the other prefer not to ally themselves with any structured, formal, organized group.

Are these people to be denied their right to participate in the democratic process of choosing school board members? Must everyone be a member of the pack? Do you have to be an activist to be a responsible citizen?

It's time to solve that problem and take the choosing of school board members out of the hands of the mayor in Baltimore City, and the governor in the counties. True democracy requires elected school boards.

Harry E. Bennett Jr.

Baltimore

1/2

Cynical gossips

Why are Americans so obsessed by the private lives and sexual relations of their political leaders?

History has shown there is either no relation -- or possibly an inverse relationship -- between the quality of leadership and marital fidelity.

Hitler and Calvin Coolidge were monogamous while John F. Kennedy, Dwight Eisenhower, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Martin Luther King and most of our other highly regarded leaders going back before Thomas Jefferson had documented dalliances.

There are certainly noble exceptions, but objective researchers might even hypothesize that we would be better served by selecting only those leaders with this type of drive.

The point is that we are not voting for a priest or rabbi when we choose a president.

The press plays self-serving definitional games in order to justify treating these private events as "news."

Yes, these events are titillating, and they may sell newspapers and TV time, but they are neither news, in any honest sense, nor are they details the public has a need to know.

Which raises the question of why we, the public and the press, continue to allow ourselves to be manipulated by cynical gossips who are motivated by money, revenge, political advantage or publicity.

Roger C. Kostmayer

Baltimore

Quality guru

With sadness, America mourns the passing of Dr. W. Edwards Deming, the quality-control pioneer. Over the past decade, he had a dramatic influence on me as well as many others.

In the early 1980s Bill Scherkenbach at Ford Motor Company contacted Dr. Deming on my behalf because of frustration I experienced introducing quality improvement to America companies.

Much to my delight, my answering machine soon boomed with a message from a deeply resonant voice, "Mr. Saunders, I've arranged for you to have a seat at my lecture in Washington. I hope I can be of some help. . ."

It was the famous Dr. Deming himself on my answering machine -- a voice I would come to know.

Then to my amazement, the answering machine played a second message. Again the unmistakable voice, "Mr. Saunders, I didn't hear the beep, so I am repeating my message . . ."

In the 14 years I've owned that answering machine, no one has ever been so quality-minded as to repeat a message.

Dr. Deming's ability to inspire and transform people pervaded his work. Approaching him for advice, I described a client who was fighting a loosing battle over a floundering employee-involvement program.

Dr. Deming turned to me, looked me full in the eyes, and with a resolute, reverberating voice counseled, "It takes courage, takes courage."

His words had meaning not only for my client but for me as well. I felt energized, challenged, invigorated.

Courage was not part of the lecture, nor in the book; yet it is essential for the scientific process for the pursuit of knowledge. I came away changed.

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