Letters To The Editor


December 09, 2003

Outside audit needed for use of rehiring law

The Sun's article about the Baltimore County schools' misuse of the state's retire-rehire law does not surprise this 27-year veteran of the system, and I doubt it surprises many of my colleagues ("Teacher rehiring practices face audit," Dec. 4).

As The Sun's staff found out, these six-figure teachers, who are teaching mostly in schools and subjects where they are not needed by the students this law was written to assist, weren't exactly hiding. In fact, their retirements were approved by the board and superintendent before they were rehired.

A sincere audit (an internal one is ludicrous) needs to look at why certain people were given this "double-dipping" gift and how they were selected.

Ken Shapiro


The writer teaches kindergarten at Deer Park Elementary School in Owings Mills.

The Sun's article on the Baltimore County schools' abuses of public laws should be commended. I am afraid, however, that this system, which arrogantly ignored Maryland's open meetings laws even after having been caught, has a culture of flouting legal requirements and the interests of the citizens of Baltimore County.

What a terrible example it sets for our children in Baltimore County.

And to have the superintendent who has overseen these activities conduct an "audit" is a joke. It's like the proverbial fox guarding the chicken house.

I would suggest that Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. needs to request that the Maryland Department of Education inspect the practices and procedures of Baltimore County's public school system, and its officials and school board.

James W. Scouten


Veteran teachers worth every penny

The Sun's article "Schools look to tighten rehiring" (Dec. 2) recounts an investigation by The Sun that revealed "some [rehired teachers] are taking home as much as $100,000 in salary and pension. And most of the teachers are working in subjects such as art, music and gym that aren't deemed critical by the state."

Teachers are chronically underpaid and overworked, and often unappreciated. They are under increasing pressure to produce students who perform well on standardized tests, while conforming to a mountain of mandated regulations and guidelines.

Those who leave comfortable retirement to lend their experience and expertise to teach the children of our state should be applauded. They are worth every penny.

Well-paid, experienced, productive teachers, including those that enrich our children in the arts and physical education, are the cornerstones to achieving the state's education goals.

Dr. Daniel J. Levy


The writer is vice president-elect of the Maryland chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Casting a shadow on work of teachers

If reporter Jonathan D. Rockoff had bothered to approach me for an interview, I would have told him that the salary step at which I was hired was quoted to me in error by the personnel department ("Windfall for teachers, not needy schools," Dec. 1).

As soon as the error was discovered, my pay was reduced, and I returned the money that I owed.

Many retired teachers, like me, are in the classrooms working very hard and earning every penny. Many retired teachers, like me, also take loads of work home and sacrifice family time to do schoolwork.

It is disheartening and insulting to read the morning paper to discover that some reporter has cast the shadow of innuendo on my work.

Charlotte Locklear


The writer is a teacher at Western School of Technology and Environmental Science.

Director didn't rehire teachers on his own

As a Baltimore County principal for 14 years, I had many interactions with John E. Smeallie when he was director of personnel for the Baltimore County public schools.

Mr. Smeallie has always been loyal to the school system and performed his duties with the highest level of integrity.

It is impossible for me to believe he would unilaterally implement the retire-rehire program without the full knowledge and approval of the superintendent and his staff ("Teacher rehiring practices face audit," Dec. 4).

Beverly German


The writer is a former principal of Pine Grove Middle School.

Hunting can't cure animal conflicts

Rather than recruit children to kill animals, Maryland's Department of Natural Resources (DNR) should aim to mitigate wildlife-human conflicts using contemporary, nonlethal tools ("Hunt's on for recruits to a sport in decline," Dec. 3).

Allowing hunters to kill one-third of Maryland's deer population each year does nothing to reduce the population, deer-vehicle collisions or Lyme disease. These are myths state agencies rely on to maintain public support for hunting.

Killing a portion of the herd creates a reproduction rebound effect triggered by the subsequent increase in food supply for surviving deer. And killing bucks does nothing to reduce deer numbers long-term, because one buck can impregnate many does.

DNR needs to stop catering to hunters and start applying long-term, genuine solutions to human-wildlife conflicts.

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