Sauerbrey visits Bester

outlines education plan

July 29, 1998|By DAVE McMILLION

Republican gubernatorial candidate Ellen Sauerbrey announced a 12-step plan Tuesday for improving public education, including funneling more money into classrooms, hiring 1,000 more teachers and protecting classrooms from disruptive and violent students.

Sauerbrey outlined her plan during a campaign stop at Bester Elementary School in Hagerstown.

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Charles I. Ecker, Sauerbrey's opponent in the Sept. 15 primary election, also released his education plan Tuesday, which includes a get-tough approach on how students are promoted from one grade to the next.

Sauerbrey said the education bureaucracy often hinders what goes on in classrooms, and to combat that, she plans to implement a "90-10 rule."

Of the new operating funds coming to the state for schools, 90 percent will go into classrooms and no more than 10 percent will go to bureaucracy, according to Sauerbrey's plan.


The state spends a lot of money on education, but teachers complain they do not have enough for their classrooms, Sauerbrey said.

"You have to ask, where on earth is the money going?" said Sauerbrey, who said she is making education her top priority.

Sauerbrey said she wants to hire 1,001 teachers by the year 2002 to help reduce class sizes, which has been an issue statewide and locally this year. Sauerbrey said she can pay for the extra teachers through her "90-10 rule."

Sauerbrey said many education plans are well-intentioned, but fail to meet their goals.

Using scores from the Maryland School Performance Assessment Program, Sauerbrey said only 42 percent of students score at a satisfactory level on the tests.

"Our children deserve the very best schools we can provide them. And right now, we are not giving them the best we can," Sauerbrey said.

Maryland State Department of Education spokesman Ron Peiffer said it is important to realize the new state assessments are tough exams, and low scores are no surprise.

At the same time, Sauerbrey criticized the assessment tests, saying people have complained to her that the tests focus too much on students' feelings. Sauerbrey said she was never allowed to look at a sample of the exam, and so she has become suspicious of the "secret test."

Other parts of Sauerbrey's education plan include:

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* " NATURALSIZEFLAG="0" ALIGN="BOTTOM"> A uniform and consistent assessment program that diagnoses reading and learning disabilities in students.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* " NATURALSIZEFLAG="0" ALIGN="BOTTOM"> Using phonics as the primary tool for reading instruction. Phonics, the traditional approach to reading, teaches children to pronounce words by breaking them into sounds. A new approach, whole language, immerses kids in language, teaching them to learn whole words at once.

Local school officials support use of phonics, but say whole language should not be ignored.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* " NATURALSIZEFLAG="0" ALIGN="BOTTOM"> Special schools for habitually disruptive students, and holding school systems accountable for ensuring a safe environment for kids. Sauerbrey said she will withhold funding from school systems that do not support teachers' efforts to maintain order.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* " NATURALSIZEFLAG="0" ALIGN="BOTTOM"> End "social promotion," which is moving students through grades despite the fact they are not learning necessary skills.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* " NATURALSIZEFLAG="0" ALIGN="BOTTOM"> Establishment of "afternoon auxiliary centers," which offer kids academic assistance or cultural and extracurricular activities after school.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* " NATURALSIZEFLAG="0" ALIGN="BOTTOM"> Creation of independent chartering boards to start new, competitive public schools.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* " NATURALSIZEFLAG="0" ALIGN="BOTTOM"> Equitable distribution of school construction money.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* " NATURALSIZEFLAG="0" ALIGN="BOTTOM"> Give local governments the ability to audit their own school systems.

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