Keeping Patterson in the darkAll of us at Patterson High...

the Forum

June 16, 1994

Keeping Patterson in the dark

All of us at Patterson High School have become weary of The Baltimore Sun's referring to us as "educationally bankrupt." Yes, Patterson has problems, but so does every other zoned high school in the city.

According to the state's own figures, Patterson actually ranks near the top of the zoned high schools, not near the bottom. These figures have meant nothing to the powers that be who decided to take over Patterson.

In a recent editorial you referred to Patterson as "educationally bankrupt" in reference to the June 6 evening performance by students from the Hyde School and a student protest the following day.

The evening audience was rude to boo and shout, but the majority of those who behaved in that manner were adults, not Patterson students or faculty. The rude audience behavior was a direct result of no one from North Avenue showing up Monday evening, as had been promised.

The Hyde students could not answer the specific concerns of Patterson, and those who could have steadfastly refused to do so.

The Tuesday walk-out by 400 Patterson students was an exercise in free speech and orderly peaceful protest, two of the principles this country was founded on. The students wanted answers.

The protesting students were orderly, they did not roam through the neighborhood, they did not leave the school for a day off, they stayed and protested an unfair take-over and the lack of information.

School Superintendent Walter Amprey admitted he would not have spoken with the students if they had not held the walk-out. He also stated that while he did not condone the walk-out he was proud of the way the students conducted themselves.

The faculty and administration of Patterson are proud of our students. They showed character, team-work and leadership skills (all things the Hyde School stresses) in organizing a peaceful protest.

After meeting with Dr. Amprey for about an hour the students returned to class, showing they wanted an education, not a day off. Thanks to the student walk-out, Joseph W. Gauld of the Hyde School met with student leaders Wednesday for two hours to answer questions.

The students demanded and received straight answers, something no one seemed to be willing to give us previously.

If The Baltimore Sun, Dr. Amprey, or anyone else involved in the takeover would take the time to sit down and talk to the students and faculty at Patterson, they might be pleasantly surprised to find that many of the ideas the Hyde School proposes have been recommended by us on numerous occasions.

Patterson is not totally opposed to the Hyde School or its ideas. What we are protesting is the way we were treated and have been kept in the dark by North Avenue and the State Department of Education.

The majority of the faculty would like to stay at Patterson and work with the Hyde program. Teachers being forced out is one of the major concerns of the students, but it seems that the Department of Education is more concerned with bad press than people's lives.

It appears that the final decision on Patterson's fate has been intentionally held back until school ends. If this was to avoid a protest, it isn't necessary. We agree that Patterson needs a change, we just want a decision to be made.

Dedicated teachers begin planning for the next school year during the summer. We are ready to start that process, but North Avenue and the State Department of Education are keeping us in the dark.

Betsy Bouton

Baltimore

The writer is a social studies teacher at Patterson High School.

NAACP leadership

All of the major presenters at the recent NAACP leadership conference -- Dr. William Gibson, Rev. Frank Madison Reid II, Minister Louis Farrakhan, Rev. Benjamin F. Chavis and others -- spoke of the need for solidarity in forging a workable plan for improving the lives of America's 32 million black citizens.

It was equally significant that Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke, along with rank-and-file leaders from throughout Maryland and the nation, were present to support the message of hope and socio-economic justice for all.

In the light of the apprehension some people have expressed, it is important to understand that blacks have had many such meetings, both before and after the Civil War.

As early as 1830, for example, black people from New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware and Virginia met in Philadelphia to seek "ways and means for the bettering of our condition," according to historian John Hope Franklin. There were other meetings in Troy, N.Y. in 1847, Columbus, Ohio, in 1850 and Rochester, N.Y., in 1853.

Ironically, it was at the latter meeting that Frederick Douglass observed that "with the exception of the Jews, under the whole heavens there is not to be found a people pursued with a more relentless prejudice and persecution than are free colored people of the United States."

The current meeting here in Baltimore continues this tradition. Kudos to Dr. Chavis and the NAACP for convening this most timely and necessary meeting.

amuel L. Banks

Baltimore

Toxic air

Mayor Kurt Schmoke is in favor of the new Pulaski incinerator in spite of all the air pollution it would create -- toxic hydrocarbons recently found to be even more carcinogenic than once thought.

This will only make worse a city that is already one of the worst cancer areas in the nation.

Mr. Schmoke is going to sacrifice the citizens of his city on the altar to the almighty buck.

Better that he lace our Kool-Aid with cyanide; at least that would be quick.

arcia R. Weiss

Baltimore

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