Better principals are desperately neededKudos to Erik...


November 15, 1997

Better principals are desperately needed

Kudos to Erik Larson (Perspective, Oct. 26) for focusing on the impact of leadership and bureaucracy on the delivery of education and on education as a business.

The impact of individual leaders, usually principals, is extraordinary. Teacher unions traditionally see the principals as members of the "other" team, and union complaints rarely touch the leadership deficiencies of most principals. Too many union members believe that leadership deficiencies on the other side are good for their side.

In the era of "reinventing government," we do need to look at education bureaucracies as businesses. Businesses need to understand the bottom line and then invest accordingly in people, infrastructure and approaches. They also need inspired leadership to succeed.

When they challenge the practiced and accepted rules of the bureaucracy, principals can make the difference. The next question is how to get more of the kind of principals who will buck the system?

The solution to public school non-performance in this country could be as simple as recruiting better principals.

Karen Kwiatkowski


Teachers need more instruction

Students are not learning how to read young due to faulty reading instruction ("Readers left to struggle," Nov. 2).

Teachers abandoned phonics during a stretch of time that whole language was implemented may have been part of the reason. But the fundamental cause, which does not seem to be getting much attention, is the lack of quality education teachers receive.

In speaking to teachers who have recently graduated from a variety of schools and states, I found that not one teacher said she felt prepared to teach reading when she entered the classroom.

This is not because these women are bad teachers; in fact they are excellent teachers. It is because the few reading methods classes required by the universities do not teach a large enough variety of reading methods.

I suggest that all teachers should be required to take a class in phonics, a class in whole language and a class in working with basals -- books with limited vocabularies.

A reading program for all different types of learners would include all of these methods and therefore a teacher should be taught to teach all three methods.

tacie Wohlmuth


It's not the messenger, it's the message

I am responding to the Nov. 8 letter, "Don't stress negatives of Baltimore schools," from Sheila Z. Kolman, who was identified as president of the Public School Administrators and Supervisors Association of Baltimore City.

My comments are not directed to her or any school system employee who is performing a worthwhile service to city schoolchildren. There are many. Rather, my reply is to her complaint that The Sun reprinted a Time magazine article critical of the school system.

"Yet lopsided reporting of our problems and shortfalls will not correct them," she said. Nor will complaining about the messenger and/or the style of the message.

I am sick and tired of hearing bureaucrats and politicians defend the city public schools by attacking the critic. Stop the public posturing and use your time more profitably.

Please, just sit and listen to what is being said. Yes, that is the very same thing you expect of the students. Seems to me that when I was in school and followed that advice I heard praise, not criticism.

Richard P. Doran


Photo worth a thousand words

Your photograph of Terry and Melba Hall after their farm equipment was auctioned off (Nov. 2) was nothing short of riveting.

It reminded me to the best that Life magazine offered, back when I was a kid dreaming of being a feature photographer.

I never followed that dream, but I sure am glad that Chiaki Kawajiri did. This photograph took my breath away.

Peter Doob



Your photographers do a fine job year in and year out, but frequently one does a truly fine job.

Witness the endeavors of Chiaki Kawajiri. Wonderful sensitivity to the real story of real people -- as well as technical skills.


Carl E. Wagner


Pub Date: 11/15/97

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