Excuses, excuses on poor attendance the first day of...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

September 16, 1998

Excuses, excuses on poor attendance the first day of school

The explanations for some Baltimore City students missing opening day were rather unusual, based on the belief that "this year was supposed to be different" according to The Sun's Sept. 7 article ("Only 79 percent of city students show up 1st day").

According to The Sun, schools chief Robert Booker shook it off, saying, "This is a problem that seems to come up in all big school systems." He's going to have his staff analyze the issue.

Other excuses were voiced by "educators," ranging from school switches to extended vacations.

The head of the Baltimore parent-teacher group, Bernadette Forman, said that "ultimately, parents need to be responsible for getting their children to school," even going to the extreme of calling for truant officers.

Tru Ginsburg, the head of the Baltimore Education Network, said, "We need to have people go out to the houses of those children who didn't show up and ask them why." Ms. Ginsburg also offered some sage advice: We need to be patient. "It's not going to happen in the first shot," she said.

For a real understanding of education in Baltimore, read Gary Levin's piece in the Sept. 6 Sun ("Give school reforms an F"). It is a shame that Mr. Levin wasn't in charge the past 32 years. If he had been, perhaps opening day would be something to cheer about.

R. D. Bush

Columbia

Public schools need consistency over change

Kudos for Gary Levin's Sept. 6 article ("Give school reforms an F").

Mr. Levin underscored a myth in American society: that change is salvation for public schools. If change were the "savior," then public schools would be in great shape.

Change, unfortunately, has been omnipresent. For the 32 years that I have been teaching, nothing has been more predictable. Every year yields some new gimmick. Sadly, these messianic changes victimize two parties: students and the taxpayers who have been flimflammed into financing them. Dimensions of learning, cooperative learning, outcomes-based education, whole language, open spaces, and on and on and on.

One of these days, I hope, the public is going to say enough. If The Sun wants a story, why not investigate the long-term costs of these constant changes?

At Fallston High School, teachers were given a list indicating that more than 45 students in our attendance area opted for nonpublic schools inside or outside Harford County. There seems to be a message there.

But I doubt that most administrators will pay any attention.

Is it any wonder that private schools are so attractive? They have some positive qualities that public schools lack.

Foremost is stability. Public schools, because of the bent toward "change," qualify as the most unstable institutions in the United States. Our private school professionals seem to respect tradition. That doesn't mean they are tradition-bound, but they do seem to recognize that substantive change must be measured and implemented with a lot of forethought. Private school leaders, to their credit, seem to eschew bandwagons. Apparently, they also eschew unnecessary expenditures.

John Holzworth

Forest Hill

The writer is a U.S. history teacher at Fallston High School.

Kudos to city's public golf courses

When I was a city councilman some 10 years ago, Baltimore City operated five public golf courses. The deficit for the five courses approached $500,000 per year. The play at the courses was limited, particularly at Carroll Park, Clifton Park and Forest Park. The city decided that a long-term lease to the Baltimore Municipal Golf Corp. was appropriate.

Although I had some hesitation as a city councilman in agreeing to privatize the golf courses, I voted for the legislation.

Within the past week I visited Clifton Park and went into the pro shop, where I saw that a round of golf costs $10 during the week and $11 on weekends. Someone 62 or over pays $8. Although I did not play at Clifton Park that day, I have played with my wife at Pine Ridge and I find the course to be in excellent condition, well-maintained and extremely well-operated.

In my view, the Baltimore Municipal Golf Corp. should be congratulated on reducing a city deficit of nearly $500,000, increasing golf opportunities for our city residents and maintaining golf at perhaps the most reasonable rates in the state.

I also understand that the Baltimore Municipal Golf Corp. regularly runs clinics for young golfers to increase enthusiasm for this wonderful sport.

Thomas Waxter Jr.

Baltimore

Remember positive things Clinton has done for U.S.

I believe all forgiving citizens should rally around President Clinton now.

I do not condone the sexual behavior by Clinton as stated in the press, but the process of running the government should not be distracted and delayed by the political maneuvering of the forces in control of the House and Senate and their efforts to keep and reinforce this control.

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