Providing support to Alonso, principals a smart investment

May 18, 2011

I agree with Sen. Nancy Jacobs that Baltimore schools CEO Andrés Alonso's decisions to date — initially paring North Avenue staff, for instance — have turned around a failing system ("Alonso's highly paid administrators a slap in the face of Md. taxpayers," May 17). In addition, most teachers have found experiential knowledge invaluable, and some have become principals. Mr. Alonso's choice to give them greater autonomy has increased successful outcomes for Baltimore students.

Since educators might not have studied business management, marketing, or financial management, hiring 15 administrators with business backgrounds to support 194 principals should increase efficiency in an economic downturn. However, offering qualified professionals non-competitive salaries could result in less qualified applicants. Further, hiring one qualified administrator to support principals in 19 schools may be more effective (both in cost and outcome) than retaining one teacher in each of those 19 schools.

Lastly, is it possible that paying the Baltimore City schools CEO a non-competitive salary and berating him will simply cause others to hire Mr. Alonso, who is nationally recognized for educational innovation and rare achievement, with a bigger salary and well-deserved praise?

Hilda Coyne, Baltimore

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