My dealings with Larry Lorton were few, but on those occasions when our paths crossed, he struck me as a supportive, well-intentioned fellow who probably deserved better than he got.
So, it is certainly not out of any personal animus or disrespect that I officially announce my availability for his job.
I therefore take this opportunity to lay my educational agenda before you, the people of this county. I am not so naive to think that mine is the opening salvo in the Board of Education's "national search" for Superintendent Lorton's successor, but let it be the first to boom publicly.
If allowed to accede to the post, the following changes will be instituted post-haste:
* Anne Arundel County will immediately secede from the Maryland Board of Education. The paper clip counters who are foisting the idiocy of the Maryland Schools Performance Program on teachers, students and taxpayers will never darken ourdoor again. Joe "Mr. Functional" Schilling, the former state superintendent, will probably stick with state Superintendent Nancy Grasmick, but just watch the other "supes" line up behind me!
* Having consigned the "functional crisis" to the same fate as supply-side economics and the hula hoop, we will move on to address the real problem which we will at last have the courage to call by its real name: unachieving, unruly students.
* The following words: "brainstorming," "open space," "functional," "facilitator," "criterion reference test" and "metacognition" would be banned from use at 2644 Riva Road. Peoplecaught uttering them will be sentenced to an hour lecture from Louise Hayman, who will explain to them how lucky they are to have jobs inthe first place. (In this case, she won't be kidding!) The same fateawaits anyone caught using the word "dialogue" as a verb.
* Each principal will be handed 180 vouchers, one for each day of the schoolyear. Each voucher guarantees the automatic, no-questions-asked expulsion of one student per day for a whole school year, provided my committee agrees that the student's behavior warrants such action. Sitting on this committee will be myself, Boyce Moseley and Joe Clark.
Any principal who exceeds his or her allotted voucher quota (AVQ) will be given a raise.
My comrade-in-arms Bobby Neall (I'm assuming ahoneymoon here) gets the General Assembly to pass a law denying students, their parents, the ACLU or any other pain-in-the-neck lawyer the right to appeal these expulsion orders in court. When Bobby talks, the lawmakers give him what he wants. He'll get it done. (If our APEXfunding comes through, we'll hire Bruce Bereano too, just to make itfool-proof. Bruce doesn't come cheap, though.)
* Anne Arundel County students will read -- a lot. Everyone will write -- a lot. I warnyou up front: failure rates are going to rise for a while until the "reality message" sinks in. But after that, the only thing that's going to rise are SAT scores. Slogans are out. Performance is in. We need successful schools more than we need "Schools for Success." Yes!
* School prayer will become legal, but only after eating cafeteria food.
* The 1.6 GPA is dead! Long live the 2.0!
* I will continue meeting with my resource teachers and pupil-personnel workers in aneffort to determine exactly what it is they do for a living. I honestly do not know, but then I've only been in the classroom for 13 years. In the meantime, keep up the good work guys, whatever it is.
* Any of my milquetoast bureaucrats who believe it's good policy to readmit to our schools a foul-mouthed thug who verbally abuses a teacheror beats up another student will be allowed to do so only after personally home-teaching the little tyke for two months.
* Parents of students holding after-school jobs will be required to file a copy oftheir tax returns to prove that their child's income is necessary for keeping the family above the poverty line. If it is, more power to them. If it isn't, the kid quits his job. I pledge that teen-age unemployment from September to June will rise dramatically under my administration.
* Sorry bean counters, the arts are sacrosanct and willbe supported to the hilt. "Music has the power of producing a certain effect on the soul," wrote Aristotle. "It is clear that the young must be directed to music and must be educated in it." Amen. Ditto forart and literature. Take the money spent on the over-priced "ISIS" computer system if you have to, but we'll have money for the arts.
* By the way, one good way for all employees to curry favor with yournew boss is to know who Aristotle was.
* Teaching, at its best, can be a uniquely dynamic, uplifting profession and we will spread this message. We will look toward the future by designating an enthusiastic, sincere and eloquent spokesperson for the recruitment of young people into our profession. Sorry Nancy Gist, you can't retire just yet.
* And, oh yes. Pat O'Malley is herby appointed my personal liaison to Broadneck High School.
Editor's note: When he's not out surveying the empire, Phil Greenfield is a teacher at Annapolis High School and writes music and theater reviews for the Anne Arundel County Sun.