WHEN A STORY broke recently that Baltimore school officials were considering adapting the Calvert School's curriculum for use in every elementary school in the city system, no one should have been surprised to see Robert C. Embry Jr.'s name attached to the proposal. Mr. Embry is a man of many ideas -- and, as president of the Abell Foundation, he is in a position to back many of them with funds. When it comes to Baltimore City Public Schools, from which he graduated and in which his own children are being educated, Mr. Embry is nothing if not impassioned.
His fierce belief in the city and in its public schools is worth noting at a time when urban public school systems seem hopelessly mired in crisis, crippled by everything from bureaucratic stalemate to violently disruptive students and an inability to distribute text books and supplies. Many other sources of private funding have looked at the city schools and taken a pass on contributing money until there is evidence of better management. Not Mr. Embry. To him, a crisis is a challenge.