Your editorial, "Hogan sets up a schools showdown" (Dec. 12), was at once cynical, superficial and shockingly snide. You pose a question that should never be a question: "Would you rather your child go to a dilapidated school with outstanding teaching or a shiny, new one with sub-standard or even mediocre instruction?" And then you go on to insult the parents of Dulaney High School, which for years has endured bursting pipes, brown drinking water, crumbling stairs, holes in ceilings and walls, and even a dangerously electrified fence. Despite all that, you write: "We also notice that parents aren't pulling their kids out. Great academics trump brown water." That is the kind of statement I'd expect to see among the snarky comments on the Sun's Facebook page, but not from the paper's editorial board. It demeans you.
The fact is, many parents at Dulaney are not in a position to "pull" their kids from the school. Why do you presume that they could? Have you looked at the school's actual demographics lately? Or are you relying on decades-old, divisive stereotypes? Yes, there are affluent families at Dulaney. There are also homeless families. And families who rely on the school for reduced-cost meals. Ask them why they haven't pulled their kids out.
The fundamental question you raise, about needing to choose between "outstanding teaching" or a dilapidated school, is even more troubling and flawed. First, you presume that a low-performing school is in that situation because of the teachers — ignoring the very real prospect of unstable home situations and poverty that make it difficult for children to achieve. You are wrong to ascribe a school's ranking solely to its teachers. I can assure you that there are quality teachers all around the beltway. Second, and more important, why are you so readily accepting that this should even be an appropriate question to ask a parent in 2018, in a state as wealthy as Maryland?
No one should have to choose between a quality education and a safe school. Nor should certain groups of people receive different treatment based on their level of performance in the classroom. We shouldn't accept sub-standard conditions in a low-performing school, and we shouldn't accept them in a high-performing one. Our government is required to provide a consistent level of service to all its constituents.
I have watched for more than a decade as parents from various communities have had to literally beg their government for something as basic as a decent school. It's time for this to end. The problem we face today is the result of a long string of Baltimore County executives passing the buck on school construction, proudly declaring that they didn't raise taxes. Now, we are in a position where something has to be done. Not just for select groups of children. For all children.
John Patterson, Towson
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