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Better schools require fewer ‘brawls’

Education advocates wearing shirts with the slogan "Our kids can't wait" pack a public hearing of the Kirwan Commission in Annapolis on Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2019.
Education advocates wearing shirts with the slogan "Our kids can't wait" pack a public hearing of the Kirwan Commission in Annapolis on Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2019. (Pamela Wood/Baltimore Sun)

The Sun had an ironic use of the term, “brawl,” in the headline of a recent editorial regarding public education in Maryland (“Is Maryland in for a schoolyard brawl over schools?” Jan. 3). As an educator and advocate of public schools, I fully support the Kirwan Commission’s recommendations. Many detractors express simply throwing more money won’t improve things, and to a certain extent there is a bit of truth to that. What the Kirwan Commission only tangentially touches upon is changing the culture of public schools.

In many instances, the word “brawl” is apropos. Bullying, harassment and assaults are symptomatic of a culture in our schools in which some students believe there is no consequence to maladaptive behavior. There is a perception that students can act with impunity. Yes, more mental health professionals are part of the commission’s recommendations, but that doesn’t guarantee the shift needed. Teachers are leaving the profession at levels that should cause alarm bells to go off. More money in the paycheck is great but isn’t the reason teachers are leaving; it is the culture.

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Teachers are assaulted and then blamed for the assault as principals chant the mantra that teachers need to have engaging lessons, though there are prescriptive curricula which must be followed. Principals can also be the schoolhouse bully. The “brawl" over the funding will hopefully draw the attention of legislators to the real issue in education, the school culture.

Edward Kitlowski, Towson

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