Dance is doing a great job [Letter]

March 03, 2014

While The Sun's editorial board may question, "Signs of trouble in county schools?" (Feb. 25), I see signs of growth and, as expected, some occasional growing pains. In less than two years with Baltimore County Public Schools, Superintendent Dallas Dance has demonstrated his commitment to dialogue with the community and to true collaborations with BCPS stakeholders. Under his leadership, school system officials, information about school system activities and opportunities to share views are more accessible than ever.

But listening and collaborating do not always mean there will be agreement. In the case of making high school schedules more uniform, the Hereford High School community was extremely vocal in its opposition to change. They were heard — at a school board meeting and in meetings with Mr. Dance and the assistant superintendents who oversee high schools. Accommodations were made for the next two years to ease the transition at Hereford High and two other schools making similar schedule shifts.

What the superintendent did not do was change a plan that he and his staff had determined would be beneficial for all schools, fair to all students and important to the ability to function as a school system rather than a collection of independent schools. The uniform schedule plan gives students more opportunities to earn credits and eases the transfer from one school to another. Remaining committed to the plan does not mean that Mr. Dance did not listen to those with other views or weigh their opinions.

More than half of BCPS traditional and magnet high schools are ranked among the best in the nation, and their success does not directly correlate to the format of their schedules. I know that a few schools, such as Catonsville High, recently made the transition to the new schedule and are doing well. I feel certain that other high schools can do the same. Great teachers, committed students and engaged parents and community members have made BCPS high schools strong and will continue to do so.

As a business owner, I also support the school system's S.T.A.T. (Students and Teachers Accessing Tomorrow) program which will put a technological device in the hands of every student. Preparing students for the future by providing tools that they will use in their daily lives will definitely give our Baltimore County graduates an edge up on competitors for college placement and for career employment.

As a real estate professional, I am well aware of the economic benefits of having strong schools in a community. I am both pleased and proud of the education provided to my children as well as to my grandchildren who are currently attending Baltimore County Public Schools. My oldest grandchildren graduated from Dulaney High School and are doing very well in college thanks to their BCPS preparation.

My stake in county schools is both professional and personal, and I am convinced that Superintendent Dance is the right leader — experienced, innovative, energetic and inclusive — to move the system forward for all the children of Baltimore County.

Robert E. Latshaw Jr., Towson

The writer is chairman of the Baltimore County Economic Development Commission.

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