Speak Out!

May 14, 2006

LAST WEEK'S ISSUE: -- The Anne Arundel County school board announced last week the selection of Kevin M. Maxwell, a Montgomery County administrator, as the school system's new superintendent.

Maxwell, 54, lives in Bowie, and his twin daughters graduated from Arundel High School, points that gave him an edge over two out-of-state finalists.

Maxwell spent 22 years as a teacher, principal and administrator in Prince George's County before becoming principal at Walter Johnson High School in Bethesda. In 2004, he began his current job as one of six community superintendents in Montgomery County, where he oversees about 27,000 students in 39 schools.

Nancy M. Mann has served as interim superintendent since Eric J. Smith resigned.

What are the biggest challenges facing Maxwell? What should be his top priorities?

Maxwell must live up to Smith's standards

The largest challenge facing the incoming school superintendent will be to fill the rather large shoes of the outgoing superintendent. Eric J. Smith did a fantastic job in raising the bar of school achievement. He was chased out of his post by a politically inspired school board and a disgruntled teachers union. The children, unfortunately, were not part of the equation. Let's hope that Maxwell is able to navigate his way through the minefields, to deal with the school board, the teachers union, the tax cap, the No Child Left Behind Act and the other challenges that face him. It certainly won't be easy.

Michael P. DeCicco Severn

Parents need to be more involved

The biggest challenge facing Mr. Maxwell is not really the education aspect. Education obviously will always be the main goal. But adults have become increasingly busy, and students are becoming more laid-back and lazy.

Mr. Maxwell should try to find a way to get parents who are not involved to be more involved in their child's education. If they are more involved, their children enjoy school and learning more. Mr. Maxwell, I wish you best of luck.

Victor Henderson Glen Burnie

Administration must support teachers

His top priority should be to actually get out and talk to the teachers.

My daughter is a special education teacher, and it seems that teachers need more support from their principals and supervisors when faced with student problems.

A lot of administrators have no special education background, so they don't know the proper way to handle the problems that arise. Why should my daughter lose her lunch time and planning time because she has to deal with a student one-on-one, because the school isn't equipped with the proper needs or staff?

Christina Raines Pasadena

We want your opinions

ISSUE:

The U.S. Naval Academy is pursuing a new tack in its crackdown on sexual harassment and assault: prosecuting a case with a rarely used form of court-martial that might make it easier to win convictions but doesn't mete out jail time to offenders.

The implications are important for the Annapolis military college, which has struggled to reform a culture that a Pentagon task force has deemed "hostile" to women.

Since 2001, only one midshipman out of 37 accused of sexual assault has been convicted. Others faced administrative punishments, including expulsion, but left the academy with clean records.

Trying some cases in a "special court-martial," a military trial typically used for misdemeanors that speeds up the judicial process, could change that.

In one of the first tests of the new strategy, senior and former football player Kenny Ray Morrison will face a special court-martial in July. He is charged with indecent assault, indecent acts and conduct unbecoming an officer after a Feb. 4 incident at a Washington hotel.

YOUR VIEW:

What do you think of this strategy? Is it worth it to trade no jail time for the conviction?

Tell us what you think at arundel.speakout@baltsun.com by Thursday. Please keep your responses short, and include your name, address and phone number. A selection will be published next Sunday.

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