LAST WEEK'S ISSUE: --All 193 staff members at Annapolis High School must reapply for their jobs in a drastic step announced last week by Superintendent Kevin M. Maxwell.
He hopes the radical move will reverse anemic student performance and head off a state takeover that county school officials feel may be in the future of their flagship high school.
Academic hurdles, along with persistent discipline problems, have marred the school's reputation in recent years.
The Annapolis High reform involves not only a staff overhaul, but a longer school year, a longer school day and an infusion of support personnel to work closely with teachers and administrators to pinpoint academic trouble spots.
Did Maxwell do the right thing by requiring all staffers at Annapolis High to reapply for their jobs and instituting other changes?
Action seems like totalitarian decree
Superintendent Kevin Maxwell's decision to require all administrative staff and teachers at Annapolis High School to reapply for their position is an unsupported indictment of the entire school that smacks of a decree by a totalitarian regime.
As a parent of a student in the junior class, I have seen firsthand the commitment, excitement and qualifications of several teachers at the school. I do not profess to know that all the teachers possess these same qualities. However, to have the entire staff treated alike when surely there are many teachers and administrators that are qualified and committed is to throw the baby out with the bath water.
My child informed me that one of these teachers has indicated that they will not go through this process and is looking to transfer to another school. This is the devastation that such a short-sighted, knee-jerk reaction causes.
This particular teacher is exactly the type of person I want teaching my child as they prepare for college. I am sure this teacher is feeling, and rightfully so, as though someone has spit in their face.
This decision further lays the entire fault, unjustifiably, at the feet of the school. There does not seem to be any evidence that the reason for failure lies with the teachers and administrators who run the school any more then it does with the students who attend the school.
Teachers can make classes exciting and interesting but teachers cannot teach students who do not want to learn, do not attend class, or have the support system at home that encourages success.
Part of an education is teaching young people to take responsibility for their own actions. This decision absolves the students and their families from any responsibility. While I agree something must be done to make improvements, to take such a drastic step without first identifying the reason for failure, is an ignorant decision that in the end may very well cause the state to take the action which Maxwell seeks to prevent.
William M. Davis Annapolis
Policy should extend to middle schools
If Maxwell has all his Annapolis teachers reapply for their jobs, it would appear to me that his program would only be 50 percent effective.
He should also do the same with the middle schools that feed Annapolis High. It appears that middle school students aren't coming prepared for the more rigorous work of the senior high.
Julius G. Angelucci Severna Park
The writer is a retired Anne Arundel County teacher.
Education doesn't need clean slate
As a 2000 graduate of Annapolis High School, I was first enraged and ultimately saddened when my parents told me about the "zero-basing" policy to be put into effect next year.
Having taught college freshmen in Florida for the past two years and seen the hellacious effects of standardized testing on public education, I cannot express how upsetting it is to see the same kinds of measures being taken in my hometown.
Reform policies nationwide have forced both lawmakers and instructors to ask: What is the future of public education? A series of standardized tests issued by state-appointed teachers with the same "vision"? What about equipping young people with skills for the future taught by passionate teachers whose main concerns are nurturing individual educational growth and not calculating mass intelligence via rote testing?
Many jobs now require individuals to be resourceful, creative and flexible - not rigid and bureaucratic.
It seems to me, a product of Annapolis High School (where I played sports, was in marching band, helped edit the literary magazine, studied abroad in Germany and enjoyed time on stage in several plays), that what education so desperately needs is sagacious hiring practices, continuing efforts to instill creativity in young people via music and art programs, and a heartfelt effort towards getting money for programs like special education, after-school activities and resources for libraries.
Not wiping the slate clean.