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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

THE BALTIMORE SUN

City can't cede total control of schools to state

I am very concerned about the proposed state takeover of Baltimore schools ("State seeks control of faltering system," Feb. 25).

Yes, the city schools have important management issues to deal with. But we must not lose sight of the improvement in the Baltimore schools in recent years. Test scores and other measures indicate the children are doing better. We must not lose this progress in the hysteria over the financial shortfall.

We must remember that the children are the priority. The schools should have had more money all along. This is one of the richest states in the richest country in the history of the world. Shame on us if we are not willing to pay to educate the future of the country - our children.

Financial accountability is needed, for sure. But it must be an informed accountability. If Baltimore loses all local control of its schools, it is the children who will suffer. Pennies will be pinched at the expense of school improvement.

Baltimore's representatives must stand up and insist on local control of the schools and defend the progress the schools have made in the face of tough challenges.

Joe Halloran

Baltimore

City stakeholders have a role to play

Discouraging as the Baltimore school system's financial outlook appears, solutions are on the horizon. It would be a mistake to further remove key stakeholders in the Baltimore public schools from the decision-making process ("Mayor, City Council elbowed to sidelines," Feb. 25).

As is evidenced by the overwhelming majority of Baltimore citizens who voted for him, the mayor is trusted as one who best represents Baltimore. Shutting him out symbolizes how teachers and students in our city are feeling, and only fuels anger and frustration.

For the sake of our children in Baltimore, Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. needs to work with our mayor, City Council and other key stakeholders.

Michelle Hart

Baltimore

Change the schools, but protect teachers

As a parent of a Baltimore public school student, I wholeheartedly support the restructuring of the Baltimore school system ("State seeks control of faltering system," Feb. 25). We must have an administration that can balance the budget and an institutional structure in place that is accountable for every penny while continuing to improve the performance of our children.

The problems we currently face began many years ago, and it is pointless to focus on who or what is to blame. Now is the time to move forward and create a system that works.

However, I do not support pay cuts of any kind for our teachers. I challenge anyone who thinks that money is wasted in our classrooms to visit schools across the city and observe what is actually going on all over town.

Teachers and parents all over the city donate their own time and money to make sure that our kids have the educational support and school supplies that they need.

We must find a way to run the school system in a fiscally sound way without penalizing our most precious assets: our students and our teachers.

Sarah Landon

Baltimore

City should embrace governor's demands

I believe that, for the sake of the future of our children, the city school system, the City Council and the mayor should acquiesce to the demands of the governor and his plan to solve the school system's financial and management problems ("State seeks control of faltering system," Feb. 25).

I am not a supporter of our governor and do not agree with most of his policies and plans. But in this case, I applaud him for taking leadership in solving the major problems created by city school administrators and, especially, the city school board.

And I agree with him 100 percent that the school system must reorganize itself by removing incompetent officials and incompetent board members, who obviously have not been able to manage the system's budgetary issues for many years.

A. Montazer

Baltimore

Where was the state as fiscal folly grew?

After reading The Sun's editorial "A whiff of insincerity" (Feb. 25), I am left with questions: While in partnership with the city schools, why did the state not take any corrective financial action?

Why is it that state officials now wag their fingers at the city saying, "Bad job"?

Where were they?

F. J. Clark Jr.

Baltimore

Cancel partnership between city, state

The governor must seek emergency legislation repealing the city-state schools partnership, suspending the city's Board of School Commissioners and appointing an Emergency Financial Control Board to oversee all operations of Baltimore's schools ("State seeks control of faltering system," Feb. 25).

Parents' patience with the current school board has ended, and this drastic action is necessary to restore stability, operability and overall confidence in the system.

Yet a financial control board is an alternative to receivership, the most draconian solution that has been floated, which could result in the greatest harm to children in the classroom - because of teacher layoffs, cut programs and bare-bones schools.

Robert W. Heck

Baltimore

The writer is chairman of Advocates for Reform at the Top.

Board can't make tough fiscal choices

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. is right that the Baltimore schools need an instrument of fiscal accountability ("State seeks control of faltering system," Feb. 25). The school board members are not equipped to make hard-headed business decisions about budgets or contracts.

This board was apparently appointed with politically correct balance in mind, but dollars and cents do not respond to political imperatives.

As a city resident, homeowner and taxpayer, I join those calling for replacement of the board with experienced managers who will be accountable to the public.

David Kirby

Baltimore

Crisis is a chance for basic change

Who would have ever thought that the Baltimore public schools' fiscal woes would even transcend bitter state politics and deteriorate further into an embarrassing chapter that will surely serve as the poster child for school privatization advocates ("Neall resigns; school rescue in jeopardy," Feb. 24)?

The fact is that a centralized, administration-heavy school system is a completely archaic and ineffective approach to meeting the needs of today's urban schools.

City schools are perennially the lowest-scoring and most dangerous schools in the state, despite being among the highest-funded. Yet no one seems to have taken notice until the money started running out.

I hope this crisis will finally force city and state leadership to make the tough changes that are long overdue.

Robert Pfaff

Reisterstown

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