Baltimore teachers support school reform not...


May 04, 2000

Baltimore teachers support school reform not privatization

In its editorial "Are city teachers ready for reform (April 24), The Sun lambasted Baltimore Teachers Union for challenging the decision of the state board of education to put a private management company in charge of three city schools.

Nowhere in the editorial does The Sun tell readers what the suit actually challenges. Instead, The Sun relies on unfair attacks on the union.

The Sun also failed to note that the union has worked with the school district in a wide range of reform efforts.

The union supported the district establishing two special districts dedicated to assisting the lowest-performing schools reform teaching and learning.

The programs these schools have adopted are based on research that demonstrates which programs work to improve student achievement.

The union also worked with the school district in identifying the new reading programs instituted by the district and approved by the state and supported summer training for teachers, first in reading and then for the city's new mathematics program.

The union also proposed a joint effort to implement proven programs in these three schools. Unfortunately, the state board chose to turn over responsibility for these schools to a private company.

Their proposal would be the first time a state has reconstituted schools by turning them over to a private contractor. Not only is this educationally risky -- for children who can least afford the risk -- it may not pass legal muster.

We believe the courts remain the proper venue for determining the statutory limits on actions of the state board of education and schools superintendent.

We will continue to work in partnership with the state and the district to improve other schools in Baltimore.

Marietta English and Loretta Johnson, Baltimore

The writers are, respectively, president of the Baltimore Teacher' Union's teacher chapter and president of its paraprofessional chapter.

Teaching value of education more important than finance

Eileen Ambrose made some valid points in her column "Use your child's first job to teach lessons on money" (April 30).

But as a parent and a teacher, I am compelled to add that, while it is important for teen-agers to understand finance, it is far more important for them to understand the value of an education.

Far too many students are working long hours to buy that car, but sacrificing the academic work ethic that will provide greater a benefit to them in the long run.

Parents have to explain more than "who FICA is." They have to instill in their kids the importance of attending school, of doing their homework and participating in extracurricular activities.

In past generations, many students had to drop out of school to help support their struggling families.

Today far too many students don't graduate because neither they nor their parents realize what is truly important for their futures.

Parents still have a financial obligation to teen-age children as well as an obligation to make high school success a more important goal than a new set of wheels.

Cheryl Rosenfeld, Baltimore

Study gun control bill, not Elian's rescue

The most irresponsible opinion on the rescue of Elian Gonzalez and the use of guns had to be the response of U.S. Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott.

When asked by reporters if it would be better to work on the Senate's stalled gun control bill than hold hearings on Elian Gonzalez, Mr. Lott responded that "there were some people killed by butcher knives recently. Should we ban those, too."

Never mind that the bill isn't remotely concerned with banning guns: Mr. Lott is equating the minuscule number of deaths by butcher knives to the deaths of 12 children per day by firearms in this country.

Mr. Lott is putting the need to investigate an operation that rescued a boy illegally withheld from his father, with no loss of life, ahead of the need to take action against the obscene number of gun deaths among this country's children.

Maryland recently passed a gun safety act.

Marylanders who would like to lobby for federal laws that follow Maryland's lead are urged to join the Million Mom March on Mother's Day.

Fred Davis, Pasadena

The writer is president of the education fund of Marylanders Against Handgun Abuse.

Bill Gates represents only himself, his company

I disagree with Edward L. Hudgins that federal antitrust prosecutors targeted Microsoft Corp. merely because of its huge size ("How Bill Gates represents us," Opinion Commentary, April 28) .

Property rights are not the issue in the case. Microsoft's allegedly illegal and abusive behavior while accumulating that huge property is the real issue.

The Justice Department, not Bill Gates, represents us -- especially those of us who believe in the ultimate benefits of fair competition..

Robin S. Lupean, Glen Arm

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