Is Carroll Selling Its Teachers Short?Recently, I briefly...


August 14, 1994

Is Carroll Selling Its Teachers Short?

Recently, I briefly presented a citizen's concern at the July meeting of the Carroll County school board about the need for more teacher planning time in high school. I spoke out on this issue for three related reasons.

First, I'm a high school teacher in a neighboring county where teachers normally have five classes during a seven-period day. I was surprised to find out earlier this year that my children's teachers at Francis Scott Key High . . . teach six classes in a seven-period day.

What this means is that teachers here have less time to plan for entire class needs and also less time to meet some of the individual needs that the 130 to 180 students they meet daily might have.

It was reported at this same school board meeting that violent outbursts in Carroll County schools are increasing. Certainly many more of our youth than just those who act out need caring adults around with a little more time to give them.

My second reason for speaking out concerned teacher access to telephones at Francis Scott Key. FSK teachers do not have departmental offices with phones available to facilitate communication with parents. Where I teach, each department, including the foreign language department to which I belong, has a separate line into the school. Use of the phone for professional reasons is never really a problem. Concerned parents can easily reach teachers during their planning time and concerned teachers can get in touch with parents to problem-solve together for students success.

My third reason for speaking out concerned a high school teacher important to my children who expressed interest in working in neighboring counties where more in-school planning time is provided. An elementary teacher friend had mentioned an article in a local newspaper last year that stated Carroll County loses more teachers to other counties than any other Maryland county. . . .

New teachers need time to settle in before they reach their most effective levels of teaching. The first year is seldom as good as subsequent years in this complex business. A child who gets too many new teachers along their educational path is likely not to have gotten as good an education as they could have were the majority of their teachers more experienced. . . .

Quite a number of elementary teachers also expressed a need for more planning time at this school board meeting. The exciting and beneficial initiatives at the early childhood/elementary level do need more time to implement correctly. These healthy innovations are spreading up through the higher grades as well. Conscientious, dedicated teachers . . . need more in-school planning time to do a good job at school, care for their families at home and get the necessary sleep to function under demanding conditions again the next day in the classroom.

The public simply needs to wake up and recognize how hard caring teachers work and that excellent public education (and other excellent public services such as universal health care) truly strengthens our country to compete in the world. However, these items cost money. I consider increased taxation to meet needs in these areas a vital investment in the future of my children and my grandchildren to come.

Sandra H. Wright


School Costs

Several of the candidates for the Carroll County Board of Education have indicated that they are for the new "Exit Outcomes" and also for reducing class size.

They cannot have it both ways. The two are mutually exclusive. Reducing class size involves two of the most expensive items on the Board of Education's shopping list -- building schools or leasing extra space and hiring more teachers. To make even the smallest dent in the teacher/pupil ratio would require an enormous amount of money, and spending for "Exit Outcome" curriculum rewriting would have to be cut off entirely. Reducing class size is far more important than the implementation of "Exit Outcomes."

Evelyn E. Butler


A Farmer's Future

Re: the editorial, "Kiss and Cut" (July 5). I know I can never get you or others in your position to understand.

The farm life cannot be understood by urban or other dwellers. After a lifetime of hard work and scrimping by and only having some farm land to live off of, it is devastating to see it all lost.

The only "retirement income" I and other farmers have is the land we worked all our life for and had to purchase to make a living.

Yet year by year, our land has been devalued by zoning and other restrictions to be worth much less than it would be on the free market.

It is very disgusting to see officials who have never contributed one cent or one minute of labor on our farm yet can enforce laws and ordinances that control our future.

If, when you retire, would you like to have your pension plan to say to you that it will only pay you 25 or 30 percent of what you put into it?

Martin L. Zimmerman


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