Treasures from archives

The Education Beat

Reports: Maryland education has never lacked for studies on any number of issues. Here's a sampling from a reporter's trove.

November 17, 1999|By Mike Bowler | Mike Bowler,SUN STAFF

THE SUN IS renovating its Calvert Street building, and most of us are having to move to new work stations in a process understood by only three people.

What this means is that I've had to clean out stuff from offices I occupied five and 13 years ago. I threw out most of it, but saved several documents I'd stashed away. Here, briefly summarized in chronological order, is a sampling:

The Warfield Commission report, 1960.

Warfield recommended that the three largest teachers colleges -- Towson, Salisbury and Frostburg -- be transformed into regional branch campuses of the University of Maryland, and that control of teacher education be transferred from the State Board of Education to the university's Board of Regents.

Response to the NEA Report by the Baltimore City Public Schools, 1967.

The National Education Association investigated the city school system and found it "extremely deficient." It said teacher salaries and working conditions "are so deficient that it is unreasonable to expect professional teachers to continue their struggle."

Baltimore fought back, boasting about the city's "commitment to educational excellence." One indicator: increased racial integration in the high schools.

"A Nation at Risk," 1983.

Put together by a national commission and released at the White House, this was the most famous report of the latter half of the century, if not the most influential. Written in plain and alarming language, it spoke of education's "rising tide of mediocrity."

"Improving the Image of Baltimore City Public Schools," a report of the Greater Baltimore Committee, 1984.

Among recommendations: "The Board of School Commissioners and the superintendent should take steps to address the causes of and solutions for overcoming poor morale."

"Becoming a Nation of Readers: The Report of the Commission on Reading," 1985.

Among this national commission's recommendations: "Teachers of beginning reading should present well-designed phonics instruction. Though most children today are taught phonics, often this instruction is poorly conceived."

"Study of the Proposed Merger Between the University of Baltimore and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County," a report of the consulting firm KPMG Peat Marwick, 1989.

Such a merger would not be "transformational," the consultant said in rejecting the notion.

"Building Community: The Arts and Baltimore Together," a report of Ernest L. Boyer for the Baltimore Community Foundation, 1992.

"The arts not only enrich the community; they are the community," Boyer wrote. He presented six priorities and dozens of recommendations to shore up the arts in metropolitan Baltimore.

"Creating a Pathway to Excellence," a report of city schools, Superintendent Walter G. Amprey, 1992.

Amprey, who had taken the reins seven months earlier, announced "bold initiatives," including a restructuring of the central administration and "the implementation of school-based management and instructional decision making."

"CRESAP/Ward Management Studies Progress Report Summary," a report of the city schools' management services to the General Assembly, 1993.

Desperately trying to head off state intervention after two reports harshly critical of the management of city schools, the Amprey administration reported it was making "demonstrable progress in successfully addressing the challenges it faces."

Some of these investigators and reformers are no longer with us. Those among the living should not feel bad about their efforts coming to naught. Thomas Alva Edison, certainly one of the great visionaries in American history, predicted in 1913 that within a decade, "books will be obsolete in schools. It is possible to teach every branch of human knowledge with the motion picture."

Additional nominations for educator of the century

More nominations for Maryland educator of the century:

No such search would be complete without considering Louis L. Kaplan, a scholar and former president of Baltimore Hebrew College (now a university) and of the University of Maryland Board of Regents.

Endowed chairs at the University of Maryland and Baltimore Hebrew University bear the name of Kaplan, an immigrant who has lived 69 of his 96 years in Baltimore.

Alexander E. Hooke, professor of philosophy at Villa Julie College, nominates Carolyn Manuszak and Rose Dawson, the school's longtime president and dean, respectively. During three decades before their retirement this year, Hooke says, the two built Villa Julie into a vibrant, nationally respected college.

Barbara Bell Woodey of Timonium nominates her father, Wilmer V. Bell, a city teacher and administrator for about 40 years spanning the midcentury. One of her father's legacies, Woodey writes, is the city's system of middle schools.

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