Principal deserves support, not criticismI was...

Letters

November 25, 1997

Principal deserves support, not criticism

I was disappointed to read your Nov. 22 editorial, " 'Cry for help' at Northern High," in which you recommend that Alice Morgan Brown be replaced as principal at that school. You fail to recognize that when scofflaws are thus encouraged they graduate to more serious crimes.

We should support Dr. Brown with all our vigor. She is working diligently to see that those who wish to learn can be afforded this opportunity.

Marion Friedman

Baltimore

Your editorial suggesting Northern High School Principal Alice Morgan Brown "needs to be replaced" was astonishing.

This lady, whose very position should demand respect, had the courage to stand up to rude and defiant "students" and you do not support her?

Interim Superintendent Robert E. Schiller would be fortunate to have many principals like her. That fewer than 100 parents attended a meeting to discuss the issues is equally surprising. Well, maybe not.

Gregory Kane's column, also on Nov. 22, was a voice of sanity. His defense of Mrs. Brown and his concern for those pitifully few students who attend school to learn rings true. It must be very difficult for them to study where anarchy rules.

Barbara C. Hansen

Baltimore

As a former Baltimore City school teacher, I support Dr. Brown's decision to suspend 1,200 Northern High School students. Faced with a total lack of respect for authority by so many of these students, she needed to take the most extreme measure possible to draw attention to a deteriorating school environment.

It's outrageous that interim Superintendent Schiller failed to support her. He suggested that she could have explored other options. What are these options? (Does he think sending a politically correct note home to each parent might work?)

Also, why don't the parents support the punishment of the children involved in this mob action? Do they condone this type of behavior in their children and think it should go unpunished? Perhaps they have a lack of respect for rules and authority, also. They must have sent this message to their children.

I believe Dr. Brown took this drastic step as the only possible method for getting the much needed attention of these parents.

Carol Martin

Baltimore

An unruly group of students at Northern High School was told by their principal, Dr. Brown, that if they didn't report to their home rooms they would be suspended.

They defied her, chanting, "Hell no, we won't go." In response to this behavior, just as she promised, she suspended them.

Dr. Brown did what she was mandated to do as a teacher -- she taught. She taught those students that there are rules, there is authority, and that bad behavior has bad consequences.

Now comes her boss, Dr. Schiller, to say, among other things, that her actions were excessive.

Dr. Schiller taught Dr. Brown that she cannot count on the administration to back her when she does her job. But more important, he taught those students that if their numbers are large enough, and they and their parents yell loudly enough, there are no bad consequences for bad behavior.

Dr. Schiller made a serious mistake by not having the courage to uphold a principle, and to stand behind his principal. He needs to fix it publicly.

Harry Sarazin

Havre de Grace

If a committee is assembled to investigate the actions of Dr. Brown, it should decide whether to give the principal a purple heart, not a pink slip. The strength she showed in suspending 1,200 "rowdy" students is to be commended.

It has been a while since I was in high school, but being told to pick up a report card was never a cause for defiance. Many of the students at Northern were obviously not taught to respect figures of authority, and responsibility falls directly on those children and their parents.

Revoking the suspension simply tells these students that they can be disobedient and get away with it.

Place the blame where you will: The students for breaking the rules, the parents for their failure to look in the mirror, Dr. Schiller for not backing Dr. Brown, or even the state of Maryland for not providing adequate funds to keep their decaying school in working order. But please, do not fault Alice Morgan Brown. I'm afraid we are running out of people with this much courage.

Scott C. Aveni

Elkridge

As an educator for more than 40 years, I feel compelled to publicly support Dr. Brown for her courageous action in mass student suspensions. Bravo!

There are many positive influences, practices and pedagogical successes that unfortunately are not reported.

However the trend toward negativism, disobedience, disrespect for authority, insurrection and chaos seems to be gaining ascendancy. I have watched with sadness the deterioration of behavioral and academic performance in too many schools and classrooms, public and private.

Three cheers for Dr. Brown's willingness to say and demonstrate BTC ''enough." I encourage her to hold fast. Parents should be grateful to her and support her for doing her job.

I urge parents to stop being afraid of their children. They should reclaim their rightful roles as guardians and leaders, and they should love their children enough to set consistent limits.

Virginie Fish

Baltimore

Pub Date: 11/25/97

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