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TO THE POINT

The Baltimore Sun

A victory for students

A silly dispute over a proposed period of shared planning time has ended as it should have, with a decision in favor of Baltimore teachers joining with principals for one period each week to trade ideas on successes in the classroom.

As the new kid on the block last year, city schools CEO Andres Alonso nearly had the welcome mat pulled out from under him by the teachers union, which stubbornly resisted his call for collaborative planning. Many effective schools use these joint sessions to figure out ways to improve student achievement. An impasse in negotiations to get city teachers to give up one preparation period a week in order to sit down with colleagues and the principal led to arbitration.

An arbitrator's ruling this week gave some elementary school teachers an extra compensatory planning period, but largely sided with Mr. Alonso in this skirmish. He deserves credit for standing his ground - and winning one for the students. Confirmation holdup

It may be just a coincidence that Col. Terrence B. Sheridan's confirmation as Maryland State Police superintendent cleared the state Senate as a Prince George's legislator flexed some political muscle. Timing can be everything, and appearances do matter - and in this case, both apparently were at play.

Sen. Nathaniel Exum's stated reason for delaying Colonel Sheridan's confirmation vote was concern over the state police chief's ability to increase the number of minority troopers on the force. But at the same time, a constituent of Mr. Exum's had been trying to regain his license for a state-approved vehicle inspection station. The license was revoked several years ago for violations of the program, and Mr. Exum had lobbied for its return.

When the licensing issue ended up on Colonel Sheridan's desk, he decided that in the absence of state police guidelines on reissuing a revoked license, it would be unfair to deny a station a new license if it met inspection program standards.

Colonel Sheridan has said he approved the decision on the relicense for Mr. Exum's constituent before the senator delayed his confirmation, signaling that there was no connection between the two events.

Regardless of the timing, by this week, all had been resolved: The station had its license, Colonel Sheridan was confirmed and Mr. Exum had aired his concerns about minority troopers. Who says things don't get done in Annapolis?

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