As a Baltimore City Public Schools teacher, I am concerned how the local media is implying that the system's current budget deficit is due in part to the innovative teacher contract approved in 2010. I am especially concerned that this blame will become an easy catch phrase that will wrongfully shape public opinion ("Parents sound off on city schools budget that faces $108 million deficit," March 12).
I asked Don Kennedy, the chief financial officer of city schools, about the relationship of the teachers' contract to the deficit at a public hearing on the budget held on March 14 at Carver Vocational-Technical High School. He told me that "salary expenditures would have gone up anyway," no matter what kind of contract was in place. He also stated that they have known about the current deficit for some time.
It was the new contract that specifically enticed me to teach in our city. Baltimore Schools CEO Gregory Thornton recently shared a reading list with the public that included Paul Tough's "How Children Succeed." Mr. Tough describes how executive function, fortitude and emotional resilience have more correlation to academic success than intelligence quotient and presents suggestions for increasing these non-academic areas. Before I came to the Baltimore schools, my research at Johns Hopkins University and my teaching practice focused on implementing such innovative strategies within a classroom.
I came to city schools to work in an environment where the changes proposed by Mr. Tough and advocated by Mr. Thornton could be possible. The contract is a symbol of the commitment by Baltimore City to this charge. I hope that the risks taken by all stakeholders in its implementation are not undermined by the creative manipulation of data. If, indeed, the contract is to be blamed for the deficit, I ask only to first see the numbers.
Morgan Showalter, Baltimore
The writer is a high school special education teacher in the Baltimore City Public Schools.