Question of the Month

August 27, 2005

Q: Are you satisfied with the progress Baltimore's public schools have made in recent years? Do you think the state needs to take a larger role in operating or overseeing the city's schools?

Poor progress by city schools

I am appalled and incensed at the obvious and total lack of meaningful progress that Baltimore's public schools have made over the past 20 years.

The deterioration of the system has brought it almost to the bottom of the barrel, and no one truly knows how or wants to make major and long-lasting improvements.

A $300,000 salary for schools CEO Bonnie S. Copeland ("With bonus, Copeland could earn $300,000," Aug. 18)? No way.

And how dare the city government back a $305 million hotel project when several private bids were submitted to build a downtown hotel with private funding?

How dare the city government look for approval when it spends millions of dollars on Band-Aid fixes, when it knows all the while what is missing in the school system but refuses to take the needed steps?

The state should take over Baltimore's public school system if it will provide the resources needed to give all students a complete and high-caliber education with no child being left behind.

If state leaders expand and create arts programming for all public school students, if they are willing to spend the funds needed to foster the social and cultural skills that will turn graduates into assets to society, if they are willing to make the cyber and media worlds accessible to all students and spend the money to hire, train and retain qualified teachers in every aspect of the educational process, then I say, by all means, give up the reins of the school system to the state.

Benjamin Prestbury

Baltimore

City students have not made satisfactory progress. Some of the reasons are:

Students enter school knowing too little information.

Teacher training institutions are not providing enough skills and strategies. Consequently, teachers are poorly equipped to initiate developmental teaching.

Teachers need better textbooks, courses of study and lessons.

Students have too many written assignments and not enough interactive, thoughtful assignments.

Instructors are teaching to the test instead of preparing the children for the graded curriculum.

However, the state has had numerous opportunities to provide improvement for the city schools.

Those who are closest to the situation can handle it better.

Let the city resolve its own problems.

Bernice Branford Lewis

Baltimore

The writer is a retired reading specialist for the Baltimore public schools.

As a retired educator in the Baltimore public schools, I have seen many attempts by the city to "reform" education.

But the bottom line is this: Student achievement will always be deficient in locales in which parents do not value or are indifferent to their children's education.

In the current quest by the state to wrest control of the schools, there appear to be several hidden agendas, not the least of which is the struggle for the governorship in 2006.

Still, a state takeover appears to be imminent.

The state can alter curricula, reform the administration, upgrade standards and hold teachers to some arbitrary level of accountability.

But no significant improvements in student achievement will be made until parents can be held accountable for the proper rearing of their children.

Since this is impossible, ivory tower educators will continue to pontificate about "raising standards" and holding teachers "accountable."

Arthur Laupus

Columbia

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