Morgan, WJZ-TV to back Northern Partnership to help high school where 1,200 were suspended

November 27, 1997|By Liz Bowie | Liz Bowie,SUN STAFF

Morgan State University and WJZ-TV pledged their support to Northern High School yesterday, saying they would be partners in helping to improve the school that has received national attention for its disruptive students.

The extent of the involvement of the university and the television station has yet to be defined, nor is it clear whether the support will include money.

At a news conference yesterday, school and university officials provided no details on how Northern might be changed to bring order to a school where 1,200 students were suspended last week for failing to follow the principal's orders.

But school officials said a range of options will be considered, and did not rule out a management takeover.

J. Tyson Tildon, president of the city's Board of School Commissioners, said that any new structure for the school should be based on consensus.

"This was a wake-up call to the village," said Tildon in a reference to the proverb: "It takes an entire village to raise a child."

An initial planning meeting, which is to include parents, teachers and representatives from the television station, university and school administration will be held Monday. Dr. Patricia Morris, a school board member and dean of education at Morgan, said it would be a brainstorming session.

Morgan State University has been involved with Northern High School for eight months, said Dr. Earl S. Richardson, the university's president. For instance, Morgan students have tutored high school students. Recently, he said, the university and the school have been discussing ways in which Morgan could become more deeply involved.

"This is not for us about the incident that occurred last week," he said. "This is about how do we have an impact on the quality of education in Baltimore, Maryland."

Morgan's staff, he said, would be made available to Northern to help in whatever ways it is needed. Any reservation he might have, he said, is that there would be not enough time to plan and implement a good program at the school.

Marcellus Alexander, WJZ-TV's vice president and general manager, said the station would act as a "facilitator."

That role, he said, would be to "help generate enthusiasm and momentum by encouraging students, parents and other business leaders to become more involved."

He said Northern's problems had developed over years and that he didn't expect that they would be solved quickly. He said the station hoped only to "chip away at the mountain of issues."

In addition, he said, the station would try to "tell the positive stories of things that are happening across this state" in education.

The station has made no financial commitment to helping Morgan, although Alexander said that could happen. Other corporations might offer financial support, he said.

Northern needs money for social workers, a school nurse and new technology, said Principal Alice Morgan Brown.

The principal, who has received both tremendous support and criticism in the past week, said she was relieved that the "cry for help" she spoke when she suspended two-thirds of the students had been answered.

"I think things are going well and they are certainly going better," she said.

Pub Date: 11/27/97

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