Takeover of schools ignores real victims

The takeover of 11 under-performing Baltimore schools by the state of Maryland is the latest chapter in a long and rancorous battle that continues to ignore the real victims of the city schools' woes - students, teachers and parents ("Fight over city schools promised," March 30).

State schools Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick needs to stop blaming others and accept her share of responsibility for failing city schools - a situation that, in her words, "spans three governors," but also spans just one state superintendent: Ms. Grasmick herself.

Where is her accountability in this situation, especially given the state's culpability in the inadequate funding of city schools?

Parents, teachers and students demand leadership in education that ensures adequate resources, decent facilities, and community support.

What we continue to hear from Ms. Grasmick in an election year is political posturing, while our students' needs are ignored.

Is this leadership or the same old education shell game?

Robert Heck


The writer is president of the Roland Park Elementary/Middle School PTA.

Grasmick's grab will ruin morale

If state schools Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick had any teaching experience in the real classrooms of Baltimore, she would realize how unconscionable it was to announce a takeover of city schools, especially high schools, at this point during the school year.

Anyone who has ever really taught knows that demoralizing teachers and students makes the daily work of instruction and learning much more difficult.

And now she expects upset students to turn around and perform well on the high-stakes tests in May?

Ms. Grasmick has made life even harder on the teachers who are trying to make a difference every day.

I hope she does run for office. Then maybe we can finally be rid of her from the state's education department.

Joyce Caldwell


High time for state to rescue city kids

I applaud state Superintendent of Schools Nancy S. Grasmick and Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. for the state's takeover of 11 failed public schools in Baltimore ("Fight over city schools promised," March 30).

It's about time someone stood up for the Baltimore schoolchildren who have faced gross neglect from city elected officials, especially Mayor Martin O'Malley, and gross incompetence from city school administrators for decades.

My only regret is that most will regard the action as election-year politics and not take it as seriously as they should.

Baltimore's schools are beyond deplorable, and no amount of money provided to the current administration will solve the problem.

The stakes here are too high to continue to allow selfish, greedy and thoughtless politicians and administrators to run Baltimore's schools.

Jack Powell

Middle River

State lacks ability to improve schools

Mayor Martin O'Malley and Baltimore schools CEO Bonnie S. Copeland are crazy to fight the state takeover of some city schools ("Fight over city schools promised," March 30). Just let the state have control.

The state's posture is that of a nagging backseat driver who is drunk (with power) and half-blind.

Let it take the wheel.

As a 30-year veteran teacher, I can guarantee that the state will not be able to fix the woes of Baltimore schools utilizing the same budget the city has.

It probably couldn't fix them with twice the budget.

So give those schools to state schools Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick, and then everybody will be able to see what she can do.

Ken Shapiro


All the city schools need fuller funding

Sara Neufeld's description of New Song Academy entices all of us who care about education to send our children there ("Successful school fighting to survive," March 26).

New Song has resources that most Baltimore public schools do not (small class sizes and a lovely facility). It cannot, however, accommodate all our children.

New Song has only 132 students. The public schools system would like to be able not only to support all the teaching positions at New Song, but also to extend the same level of service to all city schools.

The city schools, however, have to find the resources to educate more than 85,000 students.

Finding the resources to educate all city students has been an enormous challenge for a long time.

Funds for public education are scarce in cities because schools are funded largely by property taxes. Cities are limited in the property taxes they can raise because disadvantaged people who do not pay real estate taxes and tax-exempt institutions such as museums, schools and hospitals are disproportionately located in cities.

But those of us who care about Baltimore's children can work together to show the state the potential of the young people who live in Baltimore.

When educated, these people will make our state even more prosperous than it is.

Adequate funding for all of Baltimore's public schools is necessary.

Yet because much of the funding that the city school system receives must go to pay for central office obligations, no Baltimore public school receives the $11,944 per student that is the system's overall per-pupil spending figure. But every school should.

Muriel Berkeley


The writer is president of the Baltimore Curriculum Project, which operates three charter schools in the city.

Taking BGE bill to the ballot box

I am dismayed, but not surprised, that many legislators now want to fire the members of the Public Service Commission ("Panel acts to oust PSC members," March 28).

This is a smokescreen to deflect attention from legislators' own cozy relationships with Constellation Energy lobbyists.

Lawmakers should prepare for their own round of layoffs at the polls this November.

It really doesn't matter if my electric bill goes up $743 this year or $8 per month for life. The legislators blew it.

I'll be bringing my BGE bill to the ballot box with me.

Steve Fogleman


Kinsley overlooks need for capital

Michael Kinsley forgets that the main use of capital, beyond consumption needs, is to deploy in business ventures - and that taxing the putative excess of billionaires simply reduces business activity by those who are good at it ("Why be a billionaire?" Opinion

Commentary, March 24).

I believe Mr. Kinsley would also find that those who inherit money work extremely "hard and smart" to increase their fortunes to the levels of those on the Forbes list.

Mr. Kinsley just panders to a gullible public with superficial analysis.

Joel Morse


The writer is a professor of finance at the University of Baltimore.

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