The Pratt, the schools, the budget Crisis: The city's financial troubles threaten cuts at the Enoch Pratt Free Library just when the schools most need the services.


FOR YEARS, the city school system and the Enoch Pratt Free Library were criticized for behaving as though they weren't on the same planet.

It's ironic, then, that the city budget crisis may force the Pratt to close a third of its neighborhood branches just as the two systems have realized they are Siamese twins.

The libraries need the schools, and boy, do the schools need the libraries! In recent years, dozens of librarians have left the school system, until only 36 of 182 schools have full-time librarians. Even in some of the large secondary schools, libraries are closed for much of the school day or week, and collections haven't been updated for years.

Where do the kids go when their own school libraries are closed? Many go to the 28 Pratt branches. Teachers are marching entire classes to the nearest public library. Under Director Carla Hayden's leadership, the Pratt has been trying to beef up its collection of school materials and to provide more homework and summer reading help.

The year-old "Student Express" for middle and high school students has been a success, and the Pratt's three-year "strategic plan" envisions every teacher with access to the central library and its databases by 1999.

Where are they now? A few updates on educators

Where are they now?

Two years ago, Alexander Ross, fresh out of Northwestern University and looking much younger than his 22 years, walked into Booker T. Washington Middle School in West Baltimore to begin teaching in one of the most stressful settings in all of education. For preparation, he'd had six weeks of summer training.

Mr. Ross was one of 19 idealistic young men and women entering Baltimore classrooms in Teach for America, a program that recruits recent graduates for service in some of the nation's toughest schools.

We were there for Mr. Ross' first day and followed him through the school year as he gained confidence and skill. Now he is finishing his second year at Booker T., still optimistic, still learning, he says, about the culture of his students. The job has not, as we speculated at the beginning, "swallowed him whole."

"I think so much of what you learn in education, particularly urban education, has to be learned in the classroom. I've learned so much about these kids' lives, but I have a lot more to learn," he says. "A lot of what you hear about the inner city is accurate for only 10 percent of the population. The other 90 percent are forgotten. They're the wonderful human beings who are demonized by the 10 percent."

Mr. Ross says he is leaning toward returning for a third year. Sixteen of the 19 Teach for America recruits in Mr. Ross' 1994 group are still in the system. All 29 of this school year's recruits are still teaching in Baltimore.

Twenty-six years ago, 34-year-old King V. Cheek walked onto the campus of then-Morgan State College as one of the nation's youngest college presidents. He resigned four years later with a parting shot at the "politics" of Maryland higher education, which he said required accountability of state college presidents but gave them little real power. Sounds familiar.

Now Dr. Cheek has returned to Baltimore as executive vice president of Victor Frenkil's Baltimore Contractors Inc., one of the city's largest (and best-connected) builders.

Who says North Avenue isn't downsizing? In two years, five of the city school system's top executives, beginning with Deputy Superintendent Lillian Gonzalez, have flocked to the Defense Department's school division. An equal number have moved to Sylvan Learning Systems, the national computer tutoring company based in Columbia (and about to move to Baltimore).

Twenty-two years ago, Boyse F. Mosley, then principal of Lake Clifton High School, ordered the arrest of several teachers demonstrating at his school during the bitter teachers' strike of 1974. He earned a reputation as a tough administrator hewing closely to rules and standards at Lake Clifton and later at Northwestern High School. He is now principal of the Charles Hickey School for juvenile offenders in Baltimore County.

Sun readers learned recently that Gerry Brewster, defeated in the 2nd District congressional race, is teaching at Chesapeake High School in Baltimore County. Another defeated politician-turned-teacher is Barbara Bachur, former 4th District Baltimore County councilwoman, who teaches at Patapsco High, also in the county.

Morgan's business school secures accreditation

Morgan State University will announce this morning that its business and management school has been accredited by the American Assembly of Collegiate Schools of Business.

Of 1,200 colleges and universities in the nation offering business degrees, 299 have AACSB approval. Loyola College and the University of Baltimore, along with undergraduate business programs at Towson State University, also are AACSB-accredited.

Pub Date: 5/01/96

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