Dunbar's principal: a victim of politicized public...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

February 03, 2000

Dunbar's principal: a victim of politicized public education?

As a former Baltimore public school principal who had the good fortune of having Joyce Jennings as a classroom teacher, I was so disheartened to read The Sun's article reporting that a state delegate is seeking to have Ms. Jennings ousted after only five months as principal of Dunbar High School ("State delegate pushes to remove Dunbar principal," Jan. 25).

I remember Ms. Jennings as a smart, articulate, reliable, no-nonsense teacher who provided an excellent classroom program resulting in student achievement.

She loved to study, to learn, and to try new approaches and techniques. She was a go-getter.

I do not minimize public relations problems, but they can be worked out. The bottom line is the quality of the work product. And the buck stops at the CEO's desk, or in this case, at the principal's desk -- not at the delegate's or anyone else's.

I hope city schools CEO Robert Booker will listen to all sides with an open mind and make a decision based on the facts, not on the feelings of those "long, entrenched souls" whose sensibilities were hurt or whose power was overlooked.

Lucille D'Onofrio

Lutherville

The writer is former principal of Curtis Bay, Ashburton and Maree Garnet Farring Elementary schools.

I am a 1943 graduate of Dunbar High School and I really don't see why an official of the Baltimore schools has to give Del. Hattie N. Harrision a say in how Dunbar high is run.

I believe that principal Joyce Jennings has the right to her own agenda and not bow to "business as usual" in the administering of the school.

Delegate Harrison's actions show what happens when a young person with his or her own ideas of management is attacked by old-line, business-as-usual cronies.

Everybody has been talking negatively about Baltimore's public schools and their low test scores.

Now, here comes a bright, young person who is trying to change them, and what happens?

She gets shafted by a politician and her friends.

Grace Y. Jones

Baltimore

One of the often-unnamed problems with public education is that it's political more than anything else.

The trouble is not always with learners, even those who are troubled. Adults, who ought to be searching for solutions, can often be the problem.

The main concern about the Dunbar High School principal should be her effectiveness, not whether or not she has knelt at the throne of elected officials offended because she hasn't sought their favor.

What should be paramount is the education of youth, not the egos of politicians. McNair Taylor Baltimore

Helping private schools won't exhaust surplus . . .

Why is the $6 million allocated in Gov. Parris N. Glendening's budget for books for private and parochial school students causing such a fuss ("$19.6 billion Md. budget lacks tax cut," Jan. 19)?

The $6 million amounts to less than $50 for each of the 125,000 children in Maryland who do not attend public school. Thirty-seven states currently spend public money for non-secular supplies or services for private or parochial students.

With a state budget surplus of more than $1 billion, and more money expected as Maryland's share in the tobacco settlement, $6 million is a drop in the bucket.

Mr. Glendening will be able to use this windfall to address many long-neglected needs, including improving educational opportunities for all Marylanders.

Scott Fortier

Baltimore

. . . but offends citizens who don't support religion

Once upon a time there was a thing called the separation of church and state. To now have the state propose to take my tax dollars to help fund a Catholic school is, to me, a slap in the mouth.

I attended Catholic school for three years. The only thing I learned was that in those walls are taught the dogma of a dead religion, as well as non-scientific absurdities and a doctrine of hatred and intolerance (including that homosexuality and birth control are sinful.)

To have my tax dollars fund a dead religion is inexcusable, especially when plenty of programs and institutions that could actually use these tax dollars to bring about positive changes for our state.

I am not a Catholic. Why should my tax dollars help support a Catholic institution?

Neil Herrmann

Baltimore

How city schools made after-school programs work

Congratulations are due all around for Baltimore's efforts to make the funding of after-school projects a priority ("After-school project get new support," Jan. 16).

My organization has had the privilege and challenge over the past 18 months to work with both the citizens and public and private organizations who have put aside turf battles and egos to frame and fund an after-school strategy at which the whole country is looking.

Baltimore has done three things to make its after-school strategy noteworthy.

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