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Change in Baltimore County SchoolsThe recent series...


Change in Baltimore County Schools

The recent series of editorials and letters published in The Sun concerning the tenth anniversary of "A Nation at Risk" were very thought-provoking and informative. If nothing else, they have further underscored the fact that change in public education comes at a snail's pace, if at all.

The very nature of teaching, the fact one can teach what is already known, what has already happened, dictates a climate that looks to the past rather than the future. To move forward, to be creative and innovative in the field of education, one must be brave and willing to take risks. Unfortunately, those qualities are found in too few contemporary educators. But there is hope.

The Opinion * Commentary articles in The Sun by Walter Amprey, superintendent of schools for Baltimore City, and Stuart Berger, superintendent of schools for Baltimore County, allude to travel on paths not heretofore taken. Hopefully, the challenge generated by these articles will stimulate the type of creative thinking necessary for progress.

Dr. Amprey and Dr. Berger have both recommended and initiated fundamental changes in the way their respective systems operate. Unfortunately, both of these capable educators are hampered by major obstacles: Dr. Amprey by a web of political intrigue that has plagued Baltimore City school superintendents since the beginning of time; Dr. Berger by a self-inflicted public relations problem with his constituency that only time and a serious effort on his part will correct.

Baltimore City with Tesseract and other similar programs has already made a significant commitment to the concept of school-based managed institutions. The success of school-based management stands or falls on the quality and competence of the manager, the principal.

Since this is a fundamental change in the management of the Baltimore County public schools also, it would be of great value to Dr. Berger, the members of the Board of Education and the central staff to make every effort to inform parents and teachers of two major aspects of the change.

First, the public and teachers should know what the desired outcomes are; what is to be gained by making the change. Second, information should be easily available about the preparation being given to enable principals to handle different and greatly expanded responsibilities.

Prior to this, the principals in Baltimore County had a great deal of support through a chain-of-command type of organization. They implemented decisions primarily at the staff level. Their role in adjusting curriculum for the local school, managing certain categories of money and making needed staff changes has been marginal at best and relegated them to the position of making recommendations with the final decisions being made at the staff level.

One would hope that all school-based managed programs are successful. Common sense dictates otherwise. Those in the system who have already been intimidated by Dr. Berger's stormy arrival will be very reluctant to experiment, to allow teachers some creative space to try new approaches that might fail as any experiment might.

Only the strong will survive, and maybe that's at the bottom of it all. But the question one must ask is: What happens in those schools where school-based management doesn't work? How long will it take for an administrative change to be made?

These are but two of many important questions that should be addressed openly if parents and the general public are to be expected to support such an important change in the way schools are managed.

Wayne Burgemeister


The writer is a retired Baltimore County assistant


Ocean City Area's New Hospital

Unfortunately, The Sun did not find it newsworthy to report the dedication of the newly completed Atlantic General Hospital, located at the junction of U.S. Route 50 and Route 113 in Berlin, seven miles from Ocean City.

To build this community hospital, the state provided $5 million, Worcester County $5 million, Ocean City $2.5 million and the Town of Berlin $50,000. The people of this area, local businesses and summer visitors showed their dedication by contributing $4,033,500.

Atlantic General Hospital opened on Friday. A staffed emergency department operates 24 hours a day. There are 56 rooms for inpatient care plus an eight-bed critical care unit and the usual amenities of a general community hospital.

Before the advent of Atlantic General Hospital it was necessary to drive 30 miles to Salisbury for hospital care. Certainly the thousands of people from Baltimore who vacation here will be happy to know that a modern hospital with surgical services will

be close at hand in the event of an emergency.

Francis J. Townsend Jr., M.D.


Cost of Service

I write as a Navy veteran most empowered after having participated in the recent March on Washington.

I was proud to serve in the U.S. Navy in 1972-1976. As a sailor, I had never considered myself closeted -- nor did I blatantly display my sexual identity.

The ban on homosexuals in the military is not only unjustified, it forces homosexuals to violate their moral and ethical principles of veracity and fidelity at the cost of serving their country.

I think those supporting the ban only confirm what many women have known all along -- there are many heterosexual men who are very insecure with their own sexual identities. In such a context, the threat is not from homosexuals but from one's own )) insecurity and unjustified fear. I strongly support President Clinton in his effort to lift the ban. Where is liberty and justice for all?

This is not about special rights, it is about equal rights for all Americans.

Cecil A. King


Islamic States

In his May 13 letter on Islamic fundamentalism, Michael Rashid expresses his belief that "Westerners have wallowed" in "distortions and half-truths" relative to Islam since the Crusades.

He urges the West to "shed our misconcceptions" concerning our "one billion relatives and neighbors who are Muslims."

Let us examine briefly these fears and alleged distortions under which we Westerners are wallowing concerning a pan-Arab Islamic state. Are the following observations not factual?:

* Slavery is still permitted in some Islamic states.

* Women are not permittd to vote, socialize and dress as they deem appropriate.

* Sudan, an Islamic country, recently sold women and children into slavery in Libya, an Islamic country.

* No Arab (Islamic) country has publicly condemned the knifing and bombing of Israeli (Jewish) citizens by Muslims in public markets, streets and buses.

* No opposition political party is permitted to express any opposing political thought in any Arab country ruled by a king or military strong man, nor is there permitted any election which may democratically replace a Muslim king or dictator.

* Islamic fundamentalists are murdering their Arab brethren for talking peace, accommodation or compromise with the Jewish state.

* An Islamic man, in most Arab countries, can still divorce his wife, without court or government order, take away her children and leave her penniless.

* No Islamic country, except for Egypt, has ever accepted as fact that the country Israel, a member of the United Nations, exists.

* The entire Arab Muslim world, as if with one voice, applauded the terrorist PLO murderers who slaughterd the Jewish Israeli wrestling team at the Olympics in 1972.

* Billions of dollars are and have been spent, for decades, by Arab oil sheiks, kings and dictators for the purchase of race horses, palaces, properties in Western countries and gambling casinos, while their Muslim brothers and sisters wallow in poverty in refugee camps.

No, a pan-Arab Islamic fundamentalist state will not be the relative and neighbor of the West.

David Judd


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