Speak Out!

March 26, 2006

LAST WEEK'S ISSUE: -- Anne Arundel County Executive Janet S. Owens is pushing for a math-and-science magnet program for Meade High School, and she says a major county employer - defense contractor Northrop Grumman Corp. - is ready to become a partner in the effort.

Local, state and military leaders have pursued a magnet program at Meade to bolster the school's academic reputation and attract thousands of defense workers, mostly from Northern Virginia, who are considering whether to relocate to Fort Meade amid base realignment.

But school board members say that they have yet to take up the issue of magnet schools in the county, and it could be years before they do so. A magnet would be a county-run public school with a specialized course of study that would be open to students outside its regular attendance zone.

Board members also have said in the past that they would consider different types of magnet programs, perhaps for the performing arts, and that Meade may not be the right place for the program if it is created.

Should there be a math-and-science program at Meade High School? And would such a program bolster the school's reputation?

Stakeholders need to be involved

I applaud the County Executive and Northrop Grumman Corp. for wanting a magnet program at Fort Meade High School. In the long run, this will probably occur. My only concern is that any upgrades or changes that occur at Fort Meade High School should come from the community at Fort Meade. As a former teacher and current testing specialist in Baltimore County, I know how important community input can be. All stakeholders need to be involved in the process of adding a program at any school. The reason why this is so critical is because the Fort Meade community is going to be greatly impacted by the BRAC commission. Fort Meade High School and Western Anne Arundel County must include all community stakeholders to address both the challenges and changing demands of our future.

Andrew Pruski Gambrills

The writer is a candidate for County Council.

Magnet idea shows leadership

County Executive Janet Owens is once again demonstrating leadership by pushing for a math and science magnet program for Meade High School. Ms. Owens is utilizing our private sector to step in and make it happen. The school board needs to act quickly.

The former superintendent was wrong in placing the first magnet program at Old Mill because it was already overcrowded. It should have been placed at Meade because there is capacity at Meade High School and the magnet program would have resulted in an influx of more parents.

It is no secret that the way to motivate parents to send their children to a particular school is to give them a reason. When parents send their children to a particular school for a particular reason they get involved and the school improves. In addition, we currently have 10,000 empty seats in the system but yet builders are forced to build age-restricted housing because of the so called lack of seats. Redistricting will be easy if parents believe that their child is getting as good or better of an education than at their current schools. If not, then the moratorium on family housing in most of the County will continue or we will have to build more schools that are not needed.

If we want to attract defense workers to put their children in our public schools, then we have to give them and our current citizens the best school system in the state. All schools are not created equal. These magnet programs are one of the tools to help balance the scales.

John S. Pantelides Annapolis

County should move without delay

I believe there should be a math/science magnet school established at Meade High School and urge the Board of Education to move forward on this without delay. With the influx of employees due to BRAC, including those from DISA and the offer of assistance from the county's largest private employer, Northrop Grumman, this is an unprecedented opportunity not to be missed. In addition to the obvious educational benefits, a school of this type would provide a marketing opportunity for Anne Arundel County and the greater Fort Meade area.

Andrew D. Bing Annapolis

We should pursue a great opportunity

Wow! What an opportunity for the students of Anne Arundel County. I commend County Executive Janet Owens as well as Northrop Grumman Corp. for this choice as part of their corporate and social responsibility. It is important to embrace these public/private partnerships especially in the area of education which is a winning proposition for all parties involved and especially the citizens of Anne Arundel County. It is equally unfortunate to have a School Board that is so inept it can not even embrace a gift of this magnitude and make it a priority for the best interest of the students of this County. Instead, their arrogance and egos continue to reject private contributions, once again exposing their decades of mismanagement of the school system, its students and your tax dollars.

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