Why does Md. need more than 1 school board?I read with...

LETTERS

February 18, 1996

Why does Md. need more than 1 school board?

I read with interest the article published on Feb. 6, titled "Less talk, more work looms in classroom," regarding "new" standards that will be tested by future high school students.

As I understand this, each school district sets its own curriculum. If that is so, why do we have a state Board of Education?

I question the goals that the districts use in determining their respective curriculum. Are they different from one another? I can't see how each district can have different educational goals. If, however, all of the districts are working toward the same goals and objectives, the question of why we need separate boards in each district comes to mind.

I submit that this political bureaucracy, known as district school boards, was created with good intentions. However, like most bureaucracies, its purpose now is to preserve and foster its own existence -- at taxpayer expense, I might add.

A pilot program is to be run in 1999, with the true testing starting in 2001 for the class of 2004. Why so long? While this is going on, we are losing the children currently in a system that we agree is broke.

I suggest that we again look to the educational system as the home for academic learning. I further suggest that we target learning goals and objectives and only use tests to measure these and provide accountability and remediation for students and teachers who do not meet the measure.

Further, stop wasting our money on the bureaucracy that runs the schools and put the money where it belongs. The way to start is to reduce the "boards" to one, the state board.

A second article in the paper on education regarded year-round schooling in Anne Arundel County. What would be the academic goal that this proposal is seeking to achieve? I have yet to hear of one that makes me want to sign up for this proposal. Secondly, what about all of the older schools that do not have adequate systems to handle the heat and humidity of summer? Uncomfortable schools do not provide an environment conducive to learning.

D. W. von Lindenberg

Glen Burnie

Support for the sitting judges

No doubt you have received many letters supporting re-election of Judges Clayton Greene Jr., Eugene M. Lerner, Pamela L. North and Martin A. Wolff of the Anne Arundel County Circuit Court.

I had the privilege of serving as a law clerk to Judge Lerner nearly 10 years ago. During my clerkship, I had the daily opportunity to observe Judge Lerner oversee the criminal, civil and juvenile matters that came before him with care and competence.

Judge Lerner is considered by many lawyers to be a no-nonsense "law and order" judge, known for his tough criminal sentences. What I remember most about that year was Judge Lerner's genuine commitment to the citizens of our county. Many times during that year, Judge Lerner would question or outright reject a plea bargain arrangement if he believed the sentence agreed upon between the prosecutor and criminal defense lawyer was in some way inadequate. In doing so, I can hear now the words he often spoke: "I can't agree to that. It is my job to protect the community."

Many times, he would ask the victim or the victim's families for their opinion regarding the plea-bargained arrangement. If it was important enough for a victim or their family to be there, he made them feel important. There were no "forgotten victims" in his courtroom.

However, for every tough sentence, he probably wrote just as many recommendations for those sentenced individuals. Only his staff saw this side of Judge Lerner. Many, many times when an individual was about to successfully complete probation or a residential addiction rehabilitation program in lieu of incarceration, Judge Lerner would schedule a review hearing. Most of them were worried about this unexpected hearing. The reason for the hearing: The judge wanted to congratulate them in open court, before their probation officer and family, on their success and encourage them to continue a crime/addiction-free life. If those same individuals later asked Judge Lerner for an employment or military enlistment recommendation, he always took the time to personally write that letter.

I think of those days and Judge Lerner when I hear public comment that our American jurisprudence system "doesn't work." Usually, "the lawyers" are blamed for any failure. Your readers need to understand that it is the judges (and juries), far more than any lawyer, who play the most important role in a courtroom. Anyone who has ever criticized our judicial system, or anyone who hopes for fairness should they or a family member ever be before a court, needs our sitting judges to be re-elected.

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