County schools getting boost, not a `budget cut' I...

LETTERS

May 28, 2000

County schools getting boost, not a `budget cut'

I found the representations in The Sun's articles articles "Council tries to restore budget" (May 17) and "Class size casualty of budget cuts" (May 19) misleading and irresponsible.

The Sun reported that the Howard County Board of Education will likely receive a $27.8 million increase to its annual budget, and then it calls that increase a "budget cut."

Why The Sun would refer to a $27.8 million (or 11.5 percent) annual budget increase as a budget cut is beyond me.

I expect the newspaper to report the news, not bend it to create controversy.

The truth be told, this is not a budget cut. The county executive and the County Council have simply decided not to fully fund the school board's budget request.

The board of education made a request that asked for a budget increase of $35 million. The county executive and the council gave them their raise -- not for the full $35 million, but for $27.8 million instead.

The school board, aided by The Sun's reporting, represents that as a "cut," because the schools are getting $7.2 million less than they asked for.

If I go to my boss and ask for a $10,000 raise, will The Sun represent it as a $9,000 pay cut if I only get a $1,000 raise?

I think the county executive and the council should be commended for giving the school board a $27.8 million budget increase and that increase should be considered a strong commitment to education.

Wendy Fiedler

Ellicott City

Principals are a drain on schools' resources

The recent column by Linda Chavez was truly an insult to the intelligence of anyone who reads it ("Principals make or break a school," OpinionCommentary, May 23).

Nobody could possibly take even half of what Ms. Chavez writes seriously.

Principals really don't have the time or the inclination to "scour the country for the best teachers."

Principals are not always fair, hardworking and gifted people who should be allowed to hire and fire teachers.

Principals are only people, who, generally speaking, used to be pretty good teachers and are now cultivating their egos and their bank accounts in the principal's office.

In fact, I believe that education will start to improve when people realize that principals are unnecessary and a drain on a school's resources.

The office of principal could easily be replaced by a committee of teachers, who could promulgate policy, plus a much less expensive administrator.

Elliott Factor

Columbia

Glenwood's education is far from mediocre

I recently received a letter from Kristine Lockwood, who was my child's seventh-grade teacher, regarding the non-renewal of her teaching contract.

The seven-page, single-spaced letter described her perceptions of the school environment as well as her mistreatment as a faculty member at Glenwood Middle School.

I carried the letter with me as I entered the school for the Enrichment Fair program. For the next two hours, I viewed student projects and listened to musical presentations and spoke with many students, teachers and parents.

In marked contrast to Ms. Lockwood, I found the children, teachers and parents (as I have on many other occasions) filled with much energy and excitement -- and with an abundance of smiling faces.

Furthermore, as a parent of two Glenwood Middle School children and a former educator and teacher trainer for the University of Maryland, I would like to make some comments regarding Ms. Lockwood's remarks.

What typifies the middle school environment is the way teachers at any grade level work as members of a team. At the very least, Ms. Lockwood's choice of language suggests that the issues which she felt needed scrutiny were her own issues.

She states, "I asked school professionals to test a student for special education services. The school refused." Certainly, Ms. Lockwood could have and should have enlisted the support of other members of her team.

Tenured faculty certainly do not have fear of reprisals for attempting to obtain special services for children.

And it is no surprise that when a group of teachers agree on the need for assistance for a child, there is a very good chance that it will be obtained.

As a former teacher, teacher trainer, and parent who has evaluated special education services in Howard County, I also see flaws in the school system.

Yes, it is often very frustrating to realize how difficult it is to reach every student.

However, what a teacher soon realizes is that with each year, and a few more experiences and continued learning, he or she can begin to make a difference for more and more children.

My children do not receive a "mediocre education" from Glenwood Middle School. On the contrary, my children thrive because of the many fine teachers, support staff and volunteers at the school.

I don't think I would "cringe" if I knew what went on in some classes; I do know that I am pleased with what goes on in most of my children's classes.

My children are learning content and learning how to be independent thinkers.

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