Booker merits credit for quietly reforming city's public...


January 22, 2000

Booker merits credit for quietly reforming city's public schools

I read with surprise The Sun's conclusions about Dr. Robert Booker's leadership of the Baltimore public schools ("Time to look beyond Booker's tenure," editorial, Jan. 11).

The Sun conceded Mr. Booker deserves credit for education reforms, for cost-saving changes in operations and for building "better relations with city and state officials and the federal judge who oversees the . . . special education lawsuit."

Are these token achievements after many years of "caretaker" leadership?

The editorial informs us that "Dr. Booker came to Baltimore in mid-1998." That was, arguably, in the last millennium, but it was less than 19 months ago.

How many tests have Baltimore City students taken over that time that could show change during his tenure?

The final irony is the editorial's rhetorical statement, "Think of the last time you heard really good news about city schools or about a smashing new program."

Where might I learn of such "news?" How many Sun reporters are assigned to bringing to light the good news about the Baltimore schools?

I think Dr. Booker's record would stand against that of any other major school system leader.

I'll take quiet effectiveness over glitz, and I hope that the city's school board will favor content over style as well.

Jonathan Finkelstein

Ellicott City

Open process could produce a better county schools chief

A school board's primary responsibility is to pick a superintendent, and then get out of the way.

Perhaps if the Baltimore County school board had opened their selection process to the public, they would not have made the blunder of picking Stuart Berger, when just about everyone else in the county knew he was a bad choice ("2 ways to pick school chief," Jan. 13).

I hope they get it right this time.

Stephen H. Knox


Use public funds to keep public schools open, effective

It is shocking that Maryland's governor is planning to distribute millions of dollars in public monies to church-based schools.

Allegany County's public schools are in crisis. The schools are constantly asking parents to contribute money to supplement the limited funds available.

The county board of education is anticipating a deficit of more than $4 million this year and plans to close schools.

If schools close, some children will be forced to travel up to 25 miles to get to school.

Why should we close public schools when the state has ample funds to keep them open?

It is time to act on principle: Separate the state from the church and use public funds to improve public education.

Richard Maslow


My child attends a private school in Baltimore County. This school, like other private schools, can accept or reject any applicant and can dismiss any student at any time for any reason.

Our public schools have no such ability -- they must serve all the state's children.

It is unconscionable for the state to send money to private schools when public schools suffer from lack of books, cleaning supplies, computers, trained teachers and many other things schools need to provide our society with a literate, competent work force and electorate.

Judith Seid


Should only the prosperous have access to private school?

I disagree with the recent letter "Private schools get plenty of private money" (Jan 11).

The writer said she only spends money to send her child to private school because the public schools in her district are substandard.

Do poorer people not have the right to opt for private school, when their public schools are substandard?

Many parents with limited means chose to send their children to private schools for a variety of reasons.

This decision may not only mean sacrificing vacations and extras, but more basic expenses

State funding for the cost of non-religious textbooks is constitutional, and it is a small amount compared to what the state would be paying to educate these children in public schools.

Kathryn A. Carson


Private school backers can't have it both ways

What a wonderful world this would be if those in favor of the state donating part of its surplus to private schools were as extravagant with their own compassion as they are with other people's money.

People can cite all the Supreme Court rulings they want to, but where is the logic in applying medicine where there is no sickness?

To donate any of the state surplus to private or parochial schools would be a waste of money, because most private schools don't need such assistance.

Why don't those in favor of aid to private schools donate their own money to those schools -- or to the public schools, where it would really do the most good?

Grafton K. Gray


There are valid arguments on both sides regarding the use of public funds to supplement private education. However, this is not an issue of "equity and fairness," as many private school parents argue. It's a question of whether we accept the ideology behind public education.

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