Letting students slide


Walbrook: Promoting or graduating those who don't deserve it, as the former principal did, sends the wrong message.

August 04, 2004|By Mike Bowler | Mike Bowler,SUN STAFF

ANDREY Bundley would have been better off saying nothing.

The former principal of Walbrook High Uniform Services Academy called a news conference Monday to defend his practice of promoting and graduating students who failed one or two required courses.

Bundley said he let seniors participate in graduation ceremonies but did not issue them diplomas until they made up the courses they'd failed.

Similarly, he said, students who failed required courses were promoted so as not to fall behind in course sequences. They, too, were required to engage in what the educators now call "credit recovery" - making up courses.

Bundley said he would never endorse "sending children out into the world ill-prepared," but that's exactly what this policy accomplishes.

Let's put Walbrook in context.

Last year, while Bundley spent a great deal of time running for mayor, the school had a graduation rate of 55.5 percent, well below the state's standard of 81 percent. This means nearly half of the ninth-graders who enrolled in 1999 dropped out of the Class of 2003 by the time it graduated.

In the same year, 3.1 percent of Walbrook's students passed the High School Assessment in English, while 4 percent of the school's 10th-graders scored at the proficient level in reading.

But we don't address such terrible performances by making life easier academically for Walbrook students.

This is the era of tough high school academic standards. Starting with this fall's eighth-graders, students must pass four tests - in English, biology, algebra and government - to earn a diploma. As part of their report cards under the No Child Left Behind Act, high schools are judged by their graduation rates.

"It's no longer possible to slide through," Joe A. Hairston, the Baltimore County superintendent, said yesterday. "In the era of tough standards, we know where every student is and how he or she is doing."

When students graduate, Hairston said, "they enter an unforgiving world, a world in which there are no second chances, a world that doesn't care if you're black and poor. As a black male, I learned that lesson soon enough."

The pretend promotions and graduations at Walbrook sent just the wrong message, particularly to those students who did their homework, passed the required courses on time and walked the stage at commencement with the pride that they were fully qualified to receive a diploma.

Demand for health care workers exceeding supply

The demand for health care professionals in Maryland is far surpassing the supply of graduates from colleges, universities and career schools, according to a joint report from the state Higher Education Commission and Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.

By 2010, according to the report, the schools will need to produce 15,000 registered nurses, 6,000 doctors, 3,000 respiratory therapists and 2,000 pharmacists just to keep up with minimum needs.

The study examined 200 health care programs offered by 15 colleges and universities, 16 community colleges and 19 private career schools. Registered nurses are most in demand, followed by nursing aides, physicians and surgeons.

And does carpe diem mean a load of dead fish?

In response to the Vatican's support for Latin as the European language, the newsletter of the American Section of the Institute for Etruscan and Italic Studies offers these definitions for those who never studied Latin:

Rara avis: no rental car hire available.

Casus belli: gastroenteritis.

Sic transit gloria mundi: the nausea will pass away, and you'll be fine by Monday.

Compos mentis: mint sauce.

Inter alia: an Italian airline.

Ex cathedra: ruined church.

Ad hoc: wine not included.

Ars longa, vita brevis: unsuitable swimsuit (literally, big bottom, small briefs).

Post mortem: mail strike.

Gloria in excelsis: very attractive Italian girl.

Sub rosa: rather unattractive Italian girl.

In loco parentis: railway family compartment.

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