School bill would punish teachers

March 31, 1997

YOUR LEAD editorial on St. Patrick's Day (March 17, "Time to support school reform") did a disservice to all union members of the Baltimore City public schools. It did a further disservice to all non-union school employees who look to the legislature for relief against non-ethical employers who think they can run roughshod over previously negotiated contracts with their workers.

On this matter your editorial position was dead-in-the-water wrong. Truly, this is a ''time to support school reform'' for the Baltimore schools. But not at the expense of its excellent, loyal and skilled staff.

Suppose a spouse of one of your editorial writers had a masters degree in elementary education after almost 20 years of education, at least 20 years of unblemished teaching experience with only excellent periodic evaluations and a steady growth in professional expertise that is regularly challenged by parents who cannot read and who do not accept responsibility for what their children will not learn from their teachers.

Now heap upon that situation a reform process that completely disregards previously won contract-negotiated agreements concerning salary levels, health care benefits, pension payments, tenure and vacation/sick pay. My guess is that at least that member of your editorial staff would have a different viewpoint.

If these assurances are not written into an otherwise good school reform bill, then it should not pass until they are.

W. Scott Hengen


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