Don't stress negatives of Baltimore schoolsI am distressed...


November 08, 1997

Don't stress negatives of Baltimore schools

I am distressed by The Sun's decision to print Time magazine's and Erik Larson's "Where Does The Money Go?" article on Baltimore public schools in the Oct. 26 Perspective section.

Baltimore schools have overwhelming problems admittedly and less than a satisfactory record of achievement when compared to other systems in the mostly suburban communities throughout Maryland.

However, Baltimore has many similarities to urban school districts across the nation. Urban school districts share like problems including poverty, resources shortages, aging facilities and competition for staff from surrounding communities.

This letter is not being written to excuse the record of the Baltimore public schools.

No one is more concerned about our performance than the citizens of Baltimore and the system's employees.

Yet lopsided reporting of our problems and shortfalls will not correct them. Fair reporting is expected by a national publication such as Time and fair reporting would have included the positives which abound throughout the system.

The African proverb teaches us that it takes an entire village to raise a child.

I wish that Time and Larson knew my village. It includes some of the most committed and dedicated educators, administrators and teachers found anywhere in our country.

It includes veterans with longevity and a wide range of experiences who have chosen to stay in Baltimore even though they could have earned more money in possibly less challenging assignments in neighboring counties.

Our village includes many highly creative and innovative educators who have made a difference for children in spite of woefully inadequate resources and monetary support. It includes educators who work long hours and genuinely invest in their schools and students.

The 1997-1998 school year begins a new day for Baltimore public schools.

The city and state partnership and infusion of some additional money permits us to initiate reforms that we expect to bring positive results.

Our system is moving forward with new ideas and programs driven by employees who are pouring their hearts and energies into their work, although none of the money has reached them personally as they have not had salary increases since July, 1995. Our reform is moving forward.

We need and would be grateful for good wishes and support as we struggle to improve our system and achieve significantly better results, student attendance and student achievement. I hope you will watch our work and be ready to report our successes.

Sheila Z. Kolman


The writer is president of Public School Administrators and Supervisors Association of Baltimore City.

After reading your reprint of the Time magazine article about problems in Baltimore City schools, we wonder why he didn't investigate the Baltimore County school system as well.

As parents of children in the Baltimore County school system, we have discovered a completely dysfunctional, dishonest, unprofessional bureaucracy, troubled from bottom to top, and filled to the brim with inbred, entrenched bureaucrats whose only concern is to protect the reputations of their employees rather than do what's best for the students.

The ''good ole boy network'' is alive and well in Baltimore County. This year, we've uncovered secret, purposeful manipulation of class demographics by a counselor for the nepotistic purpose of picking her own child's classmates.

When we asked how class placements were made, we were told conflicting stories by the principal and one of the counselors.

We have spoken on the phone, and written countless letters, voicing our legitimate concerns, observations and complaints. None of our questions or concerns was addressed, answered or professionally responded to.

They have denied our constitutional right to observe several classes in the school that pertain to our child's placement. Perhaps Baltimore County needs a court-appointed overseer, as did Baltimore City.

Judy and Joseph Patoka


Cardinal Keeler explains context of Catholic dialogue

In an Oct. 31 Opinion Commentary article in The Sun, Mike McManus took issue with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew's message during the recent historic service at Baltimore's Basilica of the Assumption. While I am grate- ful for Mr. RTC McManus' kind words for me, I wish to clarify several points regarding the context of the patriarch's address and the state of Catholic-Orthodox relations today.

Patriarch Bartholomew was responding graciously and fully to my written request that he tell us, who live in a secularized society, how the Orthodox Church nurtures the prayer life of her people and what we might learn from Orthodox spirituality.

The patriarch outlined how doctrine, especially teaching about the nature and mission of the Church, brings a unity balanced by the variety of ethnic traditions.

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