Greenfield Right on Promotion Rate
Phil Greenfield's July 2 piece regarding public school promotion rates ("The Schools' Feel-Good Racket") was timely and on target.
An education task force chaired by Robert E. Gabrys, assistant state education superintendent, recently recommended that the Maryland State Board of Education stop counting promotion as a measurement of school quality, and the board is poised to act favorably on this recommendation later this month.
Last month, I wrote to state school Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick urging the state board to eliminate grade promotion rates from the Maryland School Performance Assessment Program and indicated that if the board does not take such action, I plan to call for hearings on the issue in the House Ways and Means Committee during the 1996 legislative session.
There can be no doubt that since Maryland's 5-year-old school reform program made promotion rates a criterion for judging an elementary school's performance, teachers and school administrators have felt pressure to pass virtually all students, whether or not they were doing satisfactory work.
Anne Arundel County teachers have indicated that each year they get students who do not have basic reading and writing skills they should have by that grade level.
There is also disturbing evidence that at Anne Arundel Community College, where about half of the students are local public school graduates, 50 percent of those who graduated in 1993 needed remedial math, 24 percent needed remedial English and 31 percent needed remedial reading instruction.
Obviously, the validity of promotion rates is highly suspect. The promotion rate in Anne Arundel is above the state average of 99 percent and is one of the highest in the state. Yet, in light of the above-noted statistics, it is evident that a near 100 percent promotion rate does not reflect what children are truly learning.
As Phil Greenfield indicated, students' self-esteem is something to be earned through heightened expectations and real accomplishments, not undercut by artificial promotions that demean academic achievement.
ohn R. Leopold
The writer is a delegate representing state Legislative District 31.
I read with interest your recent articles as to the activities of our sheriff's office engaging in early-morning warrant sweeps for deadbeat parents and other services of court processes by a deputy that also serves as the office supply coordinator. I am truly pleased and proud that this current sheriff "promotes an active department" by continuing all of the programs, policies and activities initiated and set in place during my administration as sheriff.
What is really interesting to note is that all of these same programs, policies and activities of my administration were criticized by the current sheriff and the newspapers as "overexpanding the sheriff's duties" during the past election campaign.
Thanks again to the current sheriff for validating my four years of hard work to make the Anne Arundel County Sheriff's Office into a modern professional law enforcement agency -- just as promised.
Looks like all that changed was the name on the front door.
'Robert G. Pepersack Sr.
Heartfelt thanks are in order for The Sun's generous coverage of our concerts and other events throughout the year. We were served well by Jim Born and Joe Sweeney in advertising. Philip Greenfield's feature stories and reviews were written with style and punch.
The Annapolis Symphony Orchestra approaches its 35th anniversary season with two full performances of each concert, including a pair of family concerts. The first concerts of the season in October will feature the world premiere of the "Annapolis Overture" by David Ott and the return of the distinguished pianist and former ASO music director, Leon Fleisher. We urge music lovers to call the box office at 263-0907 and sign up for next year. You will enjoy yourself and support a local institution -- the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra.
The writer is executive director of the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra.
Nervy Historic Annapolis
For many years, there have been activities at the William Paca House on Prince George Street in Annapolis every weekend, early spring to late fall, with no problems until the introduction several years ago of amplified music and speech and of valet parking.
Concerned neighbors have tried since then to work out problems caused by the resulting noise and valet parking-induced traffic backups, but despite professions of concern and assurances of change from the Historic Annapolis Foundation, the weekend problems have steadily worsened. Neighbors have been forced to call the police to clear the street and to stop the noise again and again for the past several years.
On Saturday, July 1, the inevitable happened. At 4:45 p.m., valet parkers had Prince George Street completely blocked in front of Paca House, as usual. The Eastport Fire Department ambulance, lights flashing, siren blaring, was held up for many precious minutes while a path was slowly made for them by valet parkers. Outrageous? It gets better -- or worse, depending on whether you were the party needing emergency help. Twenty-five
minutes later, at 5:10 p.m., the same scene was repeated with a Naval Academy fire truck on an emergency call.
The appalling -- and dangerous -- delay of emergency vehicles was the last straw. This city's noise ordinance and public safety laws apply as equally to HAF as to its citizens. Being a tax-free foundation does not allow HAF to ignore the welfare of taxpaying citizens of Annapolis.
I believe that the late St. Clair Wright, founder of HAF, would be outraged by this cavalier treatment of neighbors, as well as by this inappropriate attempt to commercialize the historic district she fought so valiantly to save.
It is time for a change in attitude -- and leadership -- for HAF.