`Sky is not falling at City' Contrary to Katherine...

Letters

February 27, 2000

`Sky is not falling at City'

Contrary to Katherine Dunn's Feb. 18 article ["New policy has some at City wondering: Sports' future, timing, faculty support at issue"], the sky is not falling at City College. We are simply making sure our priorities are in order -- academics and attendance first, the privileges of participating in sports and extracurricular activities second. We know our students need both, but they need to be kept in proper perspective.

The academic standards that are causing the furor in your newspaper have been in place at City College since the 1994-95 school year. During that time, we have increased the number of "Excellents" on our State Report Card from three out of 11 to nine out of 10; increased the percentage of students attending four-year colleges by 14 percent; decreased the number of students withdrawing by 62 percent; decreased the dropout rate to a minuscule 0.56 percent, and increased our enrollment by 12 percent to 1,202 students.

In the last three years with these standards in place, we have won seven regional or district championships, and The Sun has named two City College athletes as Players of the Year and one as an All-Metro player.

What is new is that last summer, a faculty-staff committee recommended that we make our academic and attendance standards enforceable during the school year rather than just at the end. A committee recommended beginning enforcement in the second semester effective immediately after being given the go-ahead by our central office administration. No member voted against, and one abstained. I do not vote on the committee.

This committee includes former coaches, former athletes, extracurricular program directors, teachers, counselors and alumni on our staff. It supervises implementation to ensure equity and fairness, and that exceptions are made when justified. It was this group that felt that our students had ample warning of the policy, which had been publicized since August, and that it was "time to put our money where our mouths were."

As a former athlete and coach in high school and college, I know that students who work hard in the classroom and show up every day on time make for the most coachable players and the best teams.

If it's true, as was suggested by one central office administrator in Ms. Dunn's article, that a student-athlete would choose another school to avoid having to earn a "C" average and to avoid having to come to school on time on a regular basis, then he or she should not come to City College. Unfortunately, however, that student would be cheating himself or herself, because our standards are the ones that colleges require for admission and expect of scholarship recipients, including athletes and extracurricular participants. In fact, these are the standards that the "real world" expects of us all.

My six years of experience with our City College family tells me that we will continue to meet these reasonable, common-sense standards. We may have some grumbles, gripes and worries along the way, but the character of our kids and coaches, as well as our recent record of achievement, proves that we will make it and be better for the effort.

Joseph M. Wilson Principal, City College

Policy at City is unfair

Every parent, student-athlete, athletic director and coach should read the article, "City Col. resumes stricter eligibility," that appeared in The Sun on Feb. 17.

There is a message in this article that highlights what many of us have been striving for in the path between a student's entry into high school and his or her graduation. The problem, as I see it, is not the intent of what City College principal Joseph Wilson is doing but the unfairness of the methods.

We all agree that participation in athletics is a privilege that should be earned and maintained. That privilege is dictated by the eligibility rules approved and imposed by the Baltimore City Board of School Commissioners.

The rule states that a student must not fail more than one subject. It was once a very lenient regulation permitting students to fail half of their subjects. Athletic directors recognized the need for change and it was modified to a maximum of two failures. Most recently, in the revision of the Rules on Athletics, it was further modified to no more than one failure.

The Baltimore City school system changed its high school passing grade from 70 to 60 a few years ago. Research was done showing that we were not very compliant with the rest of the Maryland counties, nor with most colleges in the nation. A "D" is a passing grade, albeit not what we would want to see very much.

Therefore, a Baltimore City public-school student currently must not fail more than one subject with 60 as a passing grade. That was a rule that was agreed upon within committee (that Principal Wilson was a member of) and approved by the Board of School Commissioners.

Why did Principal Wilson choose to change that rule just for City College and require a 70 as a passing grade for athletes? The city-wide schools already have academic challenges that exceed those of many zoned high schools. Student-athletes should not be singled out, resulting in additional academic stresses.

The need for supervision and guidance of young men and women in extracurricular programs is important. Let's not make the situation even more difficult by removing them from positive reinforcements. Their peers in other schools remain on teams while the City College athletes are removed.

In my estimation, it is not fair.

Mark Schlenoff Athletic director, Poly

Pub Date: 2/27/00

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