It's the school system that's guilty of failing...


September 28, 1999

It's the school system that's guilty of failing Baltimore's children

It is way past time for state and city education officials to stop blaming zoned school teachers and principals for not "choosing" students who are better prepared. ("Board votes to consider outside help," Sept. 22).

Is there anyone who believes that if the principal of any citywide school were assigned to a zoned school, this principal would suddenly become deficient?

Or that if a zoned school principal were assigned to a citywide school, he or she would suddenly become a top educator?

If Douglass High was assigned only students who attended regularly and had passed all of their tests, it would rank at or near the top of Baltimore high schools.

Our faculty would be highly regarded (as it should be). Our principal would be lauded (as she should be).

Test scores are measures of student, not teacher, performance. Attendance is a measure of student (and parent) responsibility.

Schools do not "fail" students; the school system does.

The school system's process of assigning low performing middle-school students only to the zoned schools assures that these schools will have difficulty achieving state standards.

The system allows students to move directly from incarceration to zoned (not citywide) schools.

The system allows middle schools to promote non-achieving students to zoned (not citywide) high schools, where they often do not attend or achieve.

The system has all of the special needs students assigned to the zoned (not citywide) high schools.

The system does not insist that parents register their students for the new school year prior to the first day of school. This clogs up the registration and scheduling process and makes the schools appear to be inefficient.

Who is kidding whom about where the responsibility for poor student achievement should fall?

Jonathan L. Jacobson, Baltimore

The writer is ninth-grade administrator at Frederick Douglass High School.

Teachers deserve some credit, too

Those of us who have taught know that it is in many ways a thankless job.

If the teacher is lucky, a former student who gains renown might publicly say, "I was helped by Miss Jones in third grade."

More frequently, teachers hear criticism not only for what they do, but over the status of the teaching profession.

The press regularly reminds us of its role as critic. But it would be helpful to balance that with observations of outstanding work done by the many excellent and dedicated Baltimore teachers.

Massive criticism of the school system weighs down teachers and discourages many from entering the profession.

Some teacher appreciation is sorely needed and deserved.

Dorothy Siegel, Baltimore

Public arts education should always be `in'

I laughed aloud as I read the "What's In . . . What's Out" column about life in Baltimore after Martin O'Malley's victory in the Democratic mayoral primary (Opinion Commentary, Sept. 20).

Favored restaurants, advisors and haberdashers change with the times, but the Baltimore School for the Arts "out?" Unthinkable.

The School for the Arts was born 20 years ago under the watchful eye of then-Mayor William Donald Schaefer. Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke encouraged us, helped us grow and even entrusted to us the education of his two children.

Should Mr. O'Malley become our mayor, I hope he will agree with Mr. Schaefer, Mr. Schmoke and me that public arts education in Baltimore is always "in."

Stanley E. Romanstein, Baltimore

The writer is director of the Baltimore School for the Arts.

Mayoral vote makes us proud

As a middle school Social Studies teacher in Catonsville, a refreshingly ethnically diverse area of Baltimore County, I constantly try to teach my students to make decisions based on facts and issues, not race or ethnicity.

Although I do not agree with the decision made by the voters of Baltimore City, I would like to thank them for making my job much easier. They set aside issues of race and choose the Democratic candidate that they felt could solve the problems of Baltimore City.

Ryan O'Connell, Owings Mills

It's great when one can say one is proud of a city and this past election made me proud of Baltimore -- a feeling I haven't had in a long time.

The voters rejected candidates who had lied about their education, spent money that wasn't theirs, hadn't paid their taxes or met other personal obligations -- and voted for integrity. More significantly, they rejected race as an issue.

I pray that morality and integrity will again be what brings candidates into office. Our city and country really need this.

Leonard Frier, Baltimore

Freedom involves liberty to vote for the best person

I feel sorry for Orisha Kammefa ("Voting for whites subverts blacks' political influence," letters, Sept. 22). It appears that she does not understand the real meaning of freedom and equality -- or that she is as racist as any white supremacist.

Real freedom and equality mean one is able to vote without regard to anything other than who is the best candidate.

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