Angry Baltimore teachers met with city school Superintendent Walter G. Amprey today and later demonstrated outside City Hall with complaints about a dramatic plan to turn operations of nine schools over to a private company.
About 100 teachers met with Dr. Amprey at Baltimore Teachers Union headquarters.
Dr. Amprey admitted that there has been a lack of communication with the teachers and that the private company has been less than diplomatic in its dealings with the teachers.
But he made no apologies for the speed with which the program has been set into motion, saying, "If we hadn't gone for it now, we never would have done it."
Teachers complained the program was put in place with little consultation and accused Education Alternatives Inc., the Minneapolis company taking over the nine schools, of treating their members unprofessionally.
"They want the community to know what's happening to them," said Loretta Johnson, president of the BTU's paraprofessional chapter. "They don't want to hush it up."
The protest came on the same day teachers at the nine schools began four days of training in preparation for the experiment.
EAI is bringing in its own custom-designed education program, dubbed "Tesseract." The program, which is being phased in this school year, features cooperative learning techniques, the use of high tech equipment in every classroom and small student-teacher ratios.
The city signed a $26.7 million contract with EAI in July, leaving little time to prepare for the program.
"We really felt that we were not being treated right," said Irene B. Dandridge, president of the BTU.
At the City Hall demonstration, City Council President Mary Pat Clarke and Councilwoman Vera Hall met with the teachers.
But an unidentified citizen disputed the teachers' concerns, saying a new initiative must be attempted to improve the school system.
"Think of the children," he told the teachers.