Parent dissatisfied with school board
From: Cindy Paul
With respect to all parents in Anne Arundel County, this letter is in response to all the letters that appeared in The Anne Arundel County Sun July 22 and Aug. 2.
Let me begin with: I do not and will not label myself an unethical or ethical parent simply by virtue of being a parent of children within the Anne Arundel County school system. I am, however, a concerned, loving parent who is no longer willing or able to have the mental, physical and educational needs (during school hours) of my children be met in a school system that is entrenched in desensitivity, bureaucratic red tape and clearly demonstrates abuse of power (i.e. the Board of Education).
I do speak from experience, and I, like so many other parents, find it necessary to remove my children from the public school system in our county.
To BOE officials who think parents and children have no rights and find it incredulous that I and others may be somewhat intelligent and have the guts to question your techniques -- this is the United States; I and my children have the right to choose a safe and quality education.
I have the right to choose not to send my children into an environment that is the marketplace for drug dealers. I have the right to choose not to send my children into an environment that is abusive (physical and/or mental), and I and my children have the right to say no to a cattle drive-type education.
It's ironic that we live within an hour drive of President Bush, who calls himself the Educational President. Well, President Bush, as a consumer and with all due respect, I request a refund of all the tax dollars ($15,000) that I worked hard for and the IRS made sure you collected toward education. Thank you.
To parents throughout Maryland, we do have the right to stand up and be heard. We have the right through political means to make changes in the process that place individuals in the positions on the BOE. These individuals have to be held accountable for their actions or lack of action.
We need to open up the process and bring in new people. I really believe that we need to have community elections that will send parents and grandparents, educators, clergy, community leaders and business owners to the BOE to run our schools. Just as with any elected official, should they not perform their duties the voters elected them to do (provide a safe and a quality education), they probably would not be elected for a second term.
Traffic pattern needs an upgrade
From: Evelyn Kampmeyer
Malfunction Junction has now become dysfunctional, not to say what it has done to traffic on the east side of Ritchie Highway.
For these 2,000 residents east of the highway, in addition to the 2,000 shoppers to the Severna Park Mall, there is but one exit turning left for southbound traffic. One major accident blocking an overcrowded McKinsey Road will leave the whole area blocked for access to the south.
Many people do not realize the Arundel Plaza area is surrounded on two sides by the Magothy River and the Cattail and Cypress creeks.
Now the residents are forced to use business parking lots on both sides of Route 2 to access community services that are south of the intersection.
No leadership in Severna Park should be advocating horse-and-buggy driving patterns by its residents in business parking lots. That is exactly what has happened, and the Greater Severna Park Council should be addressing such activity.
A petition drive is showing overwhelmingly that the people want the intersection open with a left turn signal.
For nine months, the State Highway Administration has been more interested in justifying the construction of Route 648 than serving the needs of citizens. Its position to ban traffic from Pasadena on Asbury and Arundel Beach roads is an insult to residents of Pasadena, including my family members living there. Who is SHA to tell citizens what public roads they can drive?
SHA needs contemporary and visionary leadership in solving this problem. The current configuration finds fire apparatus, school buses, and moving vans cannot negotiate the left turn through the pylons to Arundel Beach Road.
SHA should stop the empirical engineering and do the right job now.
A note of thanks on the carnival
From: Hattie Boyer
Hats off to the Glen Burnie Improvement Association Carnival Committee volunteers, Shaw & Sons Amusement Co., and assorted organizations who made the outing at the carnival possible for the disabled.
It did one's heart good to see people enjoy, perhaps for the first time ever, the fun the rest of us take for granted. The ride attendants even lifted some people from their wheelchairs so they could have the thrill of a carnival ride.
All the participants were treated to the rides, all the food they could hold and games to play with prizes for everyone.
This is the kind of happening that makes me proud to be a resident of Glen Burnie.
Article on department clouded the issue
From: Gordon C. Hatt
I believe that open dialogue on matters of public interest is healthy in a free society. Unfortunately, sometimes that dialogue amounts to obiter dictum, which tends to cloud the issue and confuse the reader.
In my judgment, such was the case with Mr. Michael W. Robinson's recent article ["What's wrong with the Fire Department isn't the command structure," Anne Arundel County Sun, 8/2/92] concerning the Fire Department chain of command. Mr. Robinson begins his article with a brief (and incomplete) history of the chain of command in the Fire Department. He then uses this history as a launching pad to assert that a wide range of problems will be created by any changes in the status quo. He reasons that the proposed changes will, among other things, endanger public safety, not be cost-effective in light of budgetary constraints and demoralize the volunteers. While he truly has a flair for the dramatic, I don't believe that Mr. Robinson's rhetoric remotely supports such allegations.
The allegations that the proposed change will endanger public safety is without merit. As Mr. Robinson points out, the current structure has been in place since 1977. At that point in the history of the department, there was a very small contingent of suppression officers. This small contingent was not nearly adequate to provide coverage on a countywide basis. Therefore, the addition of volunteer chief officers in the role of incident commanders was appropriate, even though these chief officers were (and still are) company level officers. I believe that Mr. Robinson might agree that the structure of the department, relative to suppression officers, has changed significantly over the last 15 years. The proposed change does nothing more than recognize this structural change in the department. It puts the volunteer company officer in the place which they actually occupy in the overall structure of the department. The proposed change does not preclude the volunteer officer from responding to calls and indeed from taking command if that is the appropriate action under the circumstances.
Mr. Robinson's article places the focus on the role of the volunteer officer as the commanding officer on emergency incidents. While the proper command of such incidents is paramount to the service we provide to citizens, it represents a small portion of the duties required of a management level officer. Most of the officer's time is consumed with administering to the day-to-day operations of the company. Indeed, the modern fire office must understand a variety of administrative functions, including; Title VII civil rights issues, recognizing employees with chemical dependance problems, handling budgetary matters, and a host of routine duties associated with running a company on a day-to-day basis. Mr. Robinson asserts that the ranks are "analogous." I believe that he will find, however, that most volunteer officers don't have the training or the time to administer consistently in this fashion.
Mr. Robinson alleges that the elimination of two ranks is not cost-effective in light of budgetary constraints. I submit that just the opposite is true. These ranks create an unnecessary and cumbersome layer of bureaucracy. In addition, given the small percentage of the total calls answered by these individuals, it is not cost-effective to provide them with free transportation at the taxpayers' expense.
When all else fails, Mr. Robinson relies on the old standby. He charges that the proposed change will demoralize the volunteers. Frankly, all of these charges being leveled by the volunteers is beginning to sound like the little boy who cried wolf. It seems that every change in the department is designed to "demoralize," "destroy" or "devastate" the volunteer fire service. If indeed all of these things do occur, it will be because the leadership of the volunteer fire service will not change with the times. Or, perhaps the volunteer leadership has their own "hidden agenda."
Finally, in addition to Mr. Robinson's other credentials, he is employed by the Baltimore County Fire Department. Baltimore County has a large contingent of volunteer firefighters. It is my understanding that the ranking officer in the volunteer service is a captain, and that there is no formal integrated chain of command. Many fire service personnel in this area (paid and volunteer) would agree that the Baltimore County system functions smoothly with such a configuration. For Mr. Robinson to assert that the proposed changes here would create the kinds of problems he alludes to is the height of hypocrisy.
Editor's note: the writer is former president of Professional Fire Fighters Local 1563, and currently serves as Fire Fighter III in Anne Arundel County.
Thanks to backers of reading program
From: Diane M. Rey
Public relations specialist
Anne Arundel Public Library
The Anne Arundel County Public Library's 1992 Summer Reading Program was an unqualified success! Some 7,700 preschool and elementary school-aged children across the county joined the reading fun at library branches. Systemwide, participation was up nearly 100 percent over 1991!
We'd like to publicly share the credit for a successful summer with the many area businesses that supported this year's program.
We owe a big thank-you, our friends at The Anne Arundel County Sun, for the many announcements and photographs that helped spread the word about the program and its many special events -- from magic shows to science demos. We're especially grateful to Donna Weaver, community news editor, and all the community correspondents for their continued support.
We'd like to give a pat on the back to our other Summer Reading partners, too: the Southland Corp.'s People Who Read Achieve Program, the Baltimore Zoo, Library Sign Co., Wendy's, Busch Gardens, Wild World, Chuck E. Cheese pizza, Fuddruckers, the Capital Children's Museum, the B&O; Railroad Museum and Fair Lanes Bowling, Your generous donations of prizes, coupons and free admissions were wonderful motivators!
As a result, county children read thousands of books during the six-week program, helping to maintain those important reading skills over the summer break from school. (And they thought they were just having fun!)
A vote of support for maligned principal
From: Mary Ellen Hauck
I am saddened by reports of recent events at Millersville Elementary regarding the allegations of abuse committed by a teacher there.
However, the accusers have expanded their target. When they did not get the desired response (removal of the teacher) from "county school officials," they then turned on the principal, Henry Shubert. Following news of his pending transfer to Brock Bridge Elementary, they further maligned him by expressing concern that this school would be getting "their problem."
I have known Henry Shubert since 1975 when I worked at Crofton Woods Elementary School where he was the assistant principal. I have the utmost respect for him as a professional and as an individual. His counseling background (which we share) contributes to his ability to lead with kindness and sensitivity. I am only one of many who have worked with Henry and who share this view. We hold him in high esteem.
As a parent now of three children in the county school system, would be thrilled to find Henry Shubert as the principal of any of their schools. Brockbridge may be pleasantly surprised, if they have not been permanently prejudiced.
It is a shame that when "we" want it "our way," we don't consider who we walk over, or whose life we ruin, to get it.
Discipline begins at home, not school
From: Joyce Wright
Discipline starts in the home, not in the schools. I have read with interest the different editorials on the recent problems at Millersville Elementary. As a substitute teacher and a parent, I have seen some of these problems. Parents, you need to take a good hard look at yourselves. Ask yourself if your child is well disciplined. The well behaved children in school far outnumber the not so well behaved.
If your child is well disciplined you know that extraordinary means are not required to maintain control in the classroom. However, what action do you suggest the teachers and administrators take to get the attention and control of the students that are stealing your child's right to a good education? I doubt that there is willful physical abuse on the student. It is more likely some action on the part of the abusive student that causes some of the evidence.
Before we hang a teacher, the records of the students involved should be reviewed to determine the extent of previous control problems. Is it appropriate for a student to tell a teacher to "shut up", to hit and bully others, or bring weapons to school, let alone cause general disruption? These are problems teachers deal with every day.
It is high time we stopped blaming the teachers for the problems that arise in the school, and start looking into the situation in the home. Why is there such a lack of respect for authority?
School system failed those it serves
From: Joe and Kathleen Draego
In the Aug. 12 Readers column a group of concerned Millersville community members expressed outrage at the school system's apparent lack of concern for sharing decision-making with the real "owners" of the school: the parents, teachers and principal of the school.
Bravo! The system totally ignored the people it purports to serve, the people from whom they receive their paychecks, the people who care most about their own school! Our community would not be divided today if the Board of Education had not been so secretive and so arrogant as to assume that they have the right to act without full participation from the community.
The system will not explain how the horrifying fourth grade situation was handled over this past school year. They brush off inquiries with a smug reply that (this is a quote from a board investigator) "parents have no right to know anything." If Mr. Shubert had been allowed to share with parents a responsible plan of action taken by him, the matter would have been closed. We certainly think it is quite possible that Mr. Shubert tried to deal with the problem and that his bosses gave him no support. But we still don't know. When the powers-that-be gave the brush off to parents with real concerns (present and past) they created the following tragedies:
1. A teacher was allowed to reach the breaking point. This was a grave disservice to her as well as the children. What happened in her classroom this year was a culmination many years in the making. The system let this happen.
2. Children were injured in body and spirit. The system let this happen.
3. A pall of suspicion was cast over the principal. An unexplained transfer suggested that board officials were more interested in keeping parents quiet than in solving real problems. The transfer solved no problem. The system let this happen.
4. Parents were forced by the system stonewalling to address the problem amongst themselves; they were characterized not as responsible child advocates, or parents dismayed about how their children were treated, but as Shubert bashers. The system let this happen.
We would like to note here that Steve Segraves made it repeatedly known that that he was acting as a concerned parent, not as P.T.A. president. And that he wanted, as did we, an open exchange to get the facts. This means all facts, negative and positive. It seems that most of this open exchange happened not within the system but in the newspaper! In this forum our differences are aired and points of agreement become apparent. If this process had occurred within the school system, the tragedies listed here would have been prevented.
Come down from your ivory tower, Board of Education, this is our school, not yours. The entire school community has the right to participate in its own destiny. We are partners and equals in what should be our education democracy, not oppressed subjects and disenfranchised servants in your educational monarchy.