Readers Speak Out On Maryland's Education Ranking

January 17, 2009

So Maryland schools rank No. 1 ("Maryland schools rank 1st in nation in analysis by 'Education Week,'" Jan. 7). We should be proud of that, but I would claim that a grade of B is not enough. We should have an A. So how do we get one?

School systems need to support children and public education by listening to the teachers. They can also pay more, recruit teachers from the better colleges of education, insist that colleges provide full-year internships as opposed to student teaching, provide mentors and more planning time or instructional assistants to new teachers, and offer meaningful professional development for all teachers.

In addition to better base salaries and salary increases based on years of service, schools could also offer teachers incentives based on professional accomplishments, outstanding relative progress for students and teaching in tougher schools.

Parents can help by checking their children's homework, reading letters that come home with the students, attending PTA meetings or at the very least allowing nothing to prevent their children from attending school and doing their homework.

Administrators can support teachers by not micromanaging them but instead allowing teachers to discover their children and how they learn and to tailor their lessons to the needs of their classes.

Taxpayers can support teachers by insisting that county and city administrations not waste money on pet projects and repetitive work.

Taxpayers can also do their civic and patriotic duty to pay their taxes and demand that if any programs must be cut, it must never be their children's education.

Kevin-Douglas G. Olive, Baltimore

The writer is an instructor in French at Sudbrook Magnet Middle School.

I completely agree with the editorial "Report card on Maryland schools" (Jan. 8), which rightly acknowledges that while Maryland has made a firm commitment to education through the Thornton law that increased funding schools, there is still work to be done.

A recent report from the Maryland State Department of Education acknowledges that there have been statistically proven gains in student achievement as a result of the increased funding schools received from 2002 through 2008.

The gains made possible through the Thornton law are now threatened as the state works to resolve its budget deficit by, in effect, cutting education spending though flat school funding for fiscal years 2009 and 2010 and by cutting funding for the so-called geographic cost index for education.

This index for additional state funding for certain school districts, including those in Baltimore and Baltimore County, is meant to provide additional dollars in part to help recruit and keep teachers, one of the areas that Maryland received a C on in the Education Week report.

Clearly, if we want to continue our progress, we have to keep our investments strong and our commitments firm.

Sue Fothergill, Baltimore

The writer is president of an education consulting firm.

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