The impassioned letter to the editor from the Rev. Grey Maggiano (“Properly fund the schools,” Sept. 9) calls for throwing more money (who knows how much is enough) into the schools. We certainly do need to make sure the climate in all the schools is conducive to learning. As a veteran high school teacher, I can attest to the deleterious impact of hot classrooms on both student and teacher performance.
However, Mr. Maggiano tends to exaggerate impact of the lost instructional hours and days. He equates it to almost a whole school year over a K-12 student tenure even though lost hours and days can vary from year to year. But where was the outrage about the documented absenteeism and lost instructional days that take place every year? The Sun’s front page article on June 10 cites the following: “Last year more than half of all Woodlawn students missed at least 10 percent of school;” and “At two dozen public schools, more than 75 percent of students were chronically absent during 2016-2017.” It also observed, “Nearly one in five Maryland students — 18.3 percent — was chronically absent last year.”
Chronically absent means 18 or more days per year. Thus, the losses of instructional opportunity due to inadequate heating and air conditioning are dwarfed by the losses due to parental and student apathy. More money will not necessarily fix the attitudes of parents and students about daily good attendance and scholastic performance. We must discourage behaviors that tend to lead to frequent absenteeism. That requires leadership from parents, politicians, school boards and communities at large.
Exemplary teachers and great physical facilities still will not produce outstanding student achievement unless those students are in the seats every day.
John C. Foertsch, Perry Hall
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