Schools' efforts for blacks debated


Baltimore County Superintendent Robert Y. Dubel says he has been working about 40 years to improve achievement among black students in the county.

Black parents say Dubel has made little progress in his efforts.

"Dr. Dubel said he's been at it since 1951," said Shirley Tuttle, vice president of the Education Coalition Organization, a black parents organization. "Don't you find something wrong with that? We still had segregated schools then."

Tuttle was among 15 members of the organization to appear at last night's county school board meeting to voice their displeasure with the implementation of the system's Minority Student Achievement and Participation report.

The achievement report, adopted by the school board last October, recommends strategies to alleviate the high number of suspension rates of black students in comparison to white students, the failure of the school system to make black parents feel welcome to add their input and the small number of minority teachers.

The report also seeks to improve the achievement of minority students and include them in more school programs including the gifted and talented classes.

However, last night, two opposing, if not completely disparate, points of view were presented regarding the county's progress in educating minority students.

A mostly glowing school system report, citing the success of a summer enrichment program for minorities, and the increase of students in the gifted and talented program, nearly was overshadowed by sharp criticism from ECO members.

Members of the school system's Office of Minority Education told board members of the progress made with the achievement report; ECO members called it "simply rhetoric."

Stephen C. Jones, coordinator of the minority education office, told the board and the superintendent that progress had been made in gathering data on test scores, attendance, dropout rates and other indicators that will help to improve achievement among minorities.

But when Patricia Merriman, specialist with the office of gifted and talented, began to cite the increase of minority students in the gifted and talented program, from 1.9 percent two years ago to 6.1 percent, parents in audience began to snicker.

"Everything is spoken very well, but implementation is far from what's happening," said Tuttle, the mother of two county school students. "We're totally dissatisfied with their efforts."

Jones said after the meeting that the ECO has valid points about implementing the report. However, he said, the school system will require more help from the county government to make the necessary changes. And, Jones added, the price tag will not be cheap.

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