ISSUE: The Anne Arundel County school board recently approved an application for a proposed science and technology charter school in Glen Burnie, but it rejected an application for a charter school aiming to improve the achievement of low-performing Annapolis students. The Annapolis group, KIPP Harbor Academy, plans to appeal to the State Board of Education. Charter schools operate independently of the school system but receive public funds and face the same state and federal mandates. Debate has focused on the need for such schools. Supporters say Annapolis' urban challenges demand extra resources and novel ideas. Others say students have benefited from ongoing reforms there funded by state grants, and question whether either proposed charter school was innovative enough to warrant taxpayer dollars.
YOUR VIEW: Do you think there's a need for charter schools in Anne Arundel County, and if so, where?
Charter schools offer hope to many
Charter schools offer parents alternatives and opportunities for their children. As guardians of children, we have a responsibility to provide the best kind of education for each child. Charter schools are an option, most needed in districts that are failing our students.
Middle school-age children are the most vulnerable, and KIPP Harbor Academy in Annapolis offers hope to many children who otherwise will be lost. The primary goal of an educational system is to teach children. It is great credit to the Anne Arundel County school board, that it may reconsider its decision of last week.
Ruth Anderson Coggeshall
Public schools don't make the grade
I believe the KIPP Academy will be an important addition to Annapolis. This area has a high concentration of low-income and poverty children; some of them make it to graduation day at Annapolis High, but far too many do not. KIPP has a proven ability to educate children from low-income and poverty neighborhoods, and will be a big plus for this area. The question I'd like to see The Sun pose is this one: Can public school systems capable of educating and graduating all children be developed solely through strategies of incremental change? Incremental change wasn't enough for American manufacturing; winners had to figure out the Total Quality paradigm. If they wish to excel, will our public schools have to do much the same? I think the answer is YES.
Many Superintendents, like Dr. [Eric J.] Smith in Anne Arundel County, know how to take school systems "from 60 to 80." That can be done with incremental reform. But not even Dr. Smith has yet figured out how to take a school system "from 80 to 100." It's time for that to be our goal.
We want your opinions
ISSUE: Anne Arundel County legislators are considering a bill that could change the way school board members are selected.
The draft bill would give voters three options on the 2006 ballot: continue with a school board appointed by the governor; give the county executive power to appoint seven members who would be confirmed by the County Council; or allow the county executive to appoint three at-large members and voters to elect four others.
The bill's sponsors say board members need to be accountable for their actions. Critics say that school boards don't behave differently in Maryland whether they are elected or appointed, and that direct elections of board members will limit racial and geographic diversity.
YOUR VIEW: Do you feel Anne Arundel needs a different method to choose school board members? If so, how?
Tell us what you think at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please keep your responses short, and include your name, address and phone number. A selection will be published Sunday.