City kids need care On Sept. 30, more than 1,000...

SATURDAY MAILBOX

October 20, 2001

City kids need care

On Sept. 30, more than 1,000 members of Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development (BUILD) gathered at Brown Memorial Presbyterian Church to mourn the horrific loss of life from the acts of terror carried out on American soil.

We prayed for the families of the people killed and for our country. We also committed ourselves with renewed vigor to do our part to rebuild Baltimore, which has been experiencing slow-motion devastation over the past 30 years.

A cornerstone of this rebuilding is to attend to the health and welfare of our children. To that end, BUILD secured a written promise from then-candidate Martin O'Malley in front of 1,300 people that he would support and fund the Child First Authority's after-school program if elected. He promised to do this by creating a dedicated source of funding.

This program has successfully served more than 1,000 children a year over the past five years. Yet, as mayor, Mr. O'Malley has broken his promise.

In a recent Sun article, Stephen J. Kearney, the mayor's director of research and communications, gave a number of reasons for the mayor's refusal to fund Child First ("BUILD criticizes mayor over funding, his focus," Oct. 1).

We disagree with many of the mayor's assertions, none of which he ever raised with us in face-to-face meetings.

But in a democracy people can disagree, dissent and, we hope, find some common ground on which to compromise. In fact, we believe that it is our duty as citizens to participate vigorously in the politics of our city, state and nation. We do not find democratic politics dirty, evil or immoral.

Apparently Mr. O'Malley disagrees.

His administration has not-so-subtly accused BUILD of being unpatriotic because we dared to attempt to hold him publicly accountable on Sept. 30.

Mr. Kearney questioned the timing of our public complaints as the nation mourns the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks. "It is kind of surprising to me that politics is on their minds right now," Mr. Kearney said. "Most people have put politics aside."

Not only is this remark an insult to us, given the number of our members and their families who have served and are currently serving in the armed forces, but it also totally misrepresents what our country stands for.

As a country we must be clear as to not only what we are against but what we are for.

We are against terrorism.

We are for open participatory democratic politics.

If the mayor believes politics is a dirty, immoral business, he certainly has chosen a peculiar profession.

Bob LaPointe

Bishop Douglas Miles

Vicky Hall

The Rev. Curtis Jones Baltimore

The writers are co-chairs of BUILD.

College doesn't prepare teachers for the classroom

Mike Bowler's article "Assessing certification" (Oct. 10) prompted me to reflect on my experiences in the education, training and certification of teachers.

As a veteran teacher and school administrator, I have experienced the certification process in three states and trained dozens of student teachers. As a career Army reservist, I have been trained as an Army instructor and trained hundreds of soldiers to deliver competent instruction in many subjects.

Despite taking numerous required courses on the undergraduate and graduate level leading to state certification in several areas as an educator, I was unprepared to be a competent teacher.

While my teacher training was awash in theory, college had not taught me a thing about professional relationships, classroom management, student motivation, lesson and instructional unit planning or syllabus development.

Much of what was required for me to be successful in the classroom was imparted to me by veteran, master teachers during my student internship and subsequent probationary period. The rest, particularly course development and presentation skills, I learned through my Army training.

With the exception of the periodic recycling of various learning theories and instructional techniques, the training of new teachers has changed little during the course of my professional career.

Student teachers continue to appear for their internships enthusiastic but completely unprepared for their initial teaching experience. They know much theory, which changes every few years, but have no grounding in the nuts and bolts of teaching children or young adults. Even worse, elementary teachers are woefully under-prepared in general subject areas (science, mathematics, history, geography, English and the fine arts), and secondary teachers are usually deficient in knowledge of their areas of specialization.

This is as a result of undergraduates having to take, in place of subject matter courses, the many education courses required for certification. On a practical level, most of these courses are useless, and they are frequently taught by instructors who have not entered a public school classroom in years.

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