Letters to the Editor


December 14, 2003

Expressing support for Statham, Plunkett

My family and I have been a part of the Howard County Public School System for six years. Our introduction to the school system was under the watch of Mr. Hickey, the past superintendent. At that time, the school system seemed to be run by a closed fraternity of "good ol' boys."

When John O'Rourke took the helm as superintendent, he implemented major changes and opened up the administration to a more diverse, forward-thinking team. Two of the best changes that he made were in hiring Dr. Kimberly Statham, his Deputy Superintendent, and Mr. Roger Plunkett, his Assistant Superintendent.

The bold innovative initiatives that Dr. Statham introduced to the system have shaken up a lot of the complacency that exists in the Howard County Public Schools. Dr. Statham is a visionary who has challenged every educator in the system to put their shoulders to the wheel in a massive effort to give every student the best opportunity to rise to their academic potential.

The days of the "dual education system" in Howard County are being preempted by the Comprehensive Plan for Accelerated Student Achievement that Dr. Statham has developed. It is a very challenging initiative that has upset many of those who were happy with the status quo within the school system.

Mr. Plunkett is a confident, no-nonsense administrator who has not hesitated to challenge the status quo. His forward thinking approaches to administration have ruffled the feathers of those who have been more interested in protecting their interests than in the welfare of the young people whom they are charged with educating.

The tension that has developed as a result of the sweeping changes being implemented in the schools has challenged many and intimidated some. Change is not easy for some and that may be the impetus for the inappropriate airing of the complaint against Dr. Statham and Mr. Plunkett.

Superintendent O'Rourke was wise in his choice to select the talented team members, Dr. Statham and Mr. Plunkett. As a parent, I have confidence in leaders who are not afraid to challenge the status quo. I have personally met with Mr. O'Rourke, Dr. Statham, and Mr. Plunkett many times and believe that they are striving to improve a system that has underserved a large population of students over the years. I believe that they have become targets for retaliations on the part of the disgruntled. I am confident that the investigation of the grade tampering controversy will expose the true wrong doers.

Jacquelin McCoy


Questions to lobbyist for Columbia Assoc.

As I read about Columbia Association's President Brown threatening to turn CA's lobbyist loose against Delegate Shane Pendergrass's bills to reform both "taxation" and governance in Columbia, I imagined a conversation with this mysterious lobbyist. At least I imagined the questions I would ask him:

Are you paid a regular salary or a retainer and hourly rates for lobbying for CA?

Are you an attorney from the firm that seems to get all CA's out-of-house legal business?

Do you decide for yourself where CA's interests lie or do you get orders from President Brown?

Do you know whether the decisions for you to take action are ever voted on by the Board of CA? In open meetings? In closed meetings? Ever?

But then, this has to be imaginary because CA staff and much of the Board believe in clutching to their chests any information that might enable Columbia residents to reach any conclusions different from the ones CA's managed news presents.

We in Columbia are governed not by democracy but by PR. The irony is that the PR people and their slanted output as well as the lobbyist are paid for from our lien payments.

Henry D. Shapiro


Rouse would support increasing density

I had the honor and privilege of knowing James and Patty Rouse as Co-Chair when the Home Builders' Association of Maryland helped them launch the Enterprise Foundation. To this day, one of my greatest memories is handing Jim the check for $1 million. I can say without hesitation or any doubt that Jim would have fully supported additional housing density for Columbia provided that the absolute emphasis was on providing homes where the average person: teacher, fireman, policeman, public servant and the "working person" could afford to buy, live and raise their family where they work.

This was James Rose's conviction. Yes, he was not adverse to making a profit, but look what he and his family have done with it, and this is his legacy as a great American.

Gary Gamber

New Windsor

Preserve Oella mill, don't cash in on it

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