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Letters to the Editor

January 06, 2000

Invest in education

To the editor:

This letter is in support of the budget request of the Washington Coutny school system. At a time when student achievement in the county reveals that SAT scores are above the state average and continue to improve, the advanced placement scores show marked improvement and the MSPAP scores place the county in the top third of the 24 school divisions, it is time to recognize that the Washington County teachers are doing an excellent job and need competitive salaries and the resources to support their classroom efforts.

There is a strong effort by the county school system administrative and teaching leadership to improve the public education available to our students. According to the Maryland Fact Book, however, after Washington County teachers with a master's degree have taught 10 years, they earn the distinction of being the worst paid teachers in the state.

The longer a teacher teaches in Washington County, the worse the pay situation becomes. Imagine the difficulty this fact presents for recruitment and retention of well-qualified teachers, let alone incentive to spend some of "the worst salary" on acquiring additional knowledge and credentials.

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This is happening during a time when the State Board of Education is declaring an emergency statewide teacher shortage and offering tuition scholarships and signing bonuses for anyone who will accept the challenge of entering the teaching profession.

The faculty leadership development team from Hagerstown Community College has worked closely with area business and government agencies. One common theme reasonates from them - we want to attract and retain the most highly qualified, experienced and loyal candidates available to our work force. One reasonable question could be offered - "how do we reward the most qualified, experienced and loyal citizens in our county currently?" The answer is that we pay them not only poorly, but the "worst" of all the counties in Maryland. Most citizens see an alarming contradiciton with this dubious distinction.

In reading a recent review of an "out-of-town expert" consultant on the classified staff pay at the board, it is interesting that recommendations made by the consultant punish loyalty, experience and qualifications. It seems like the "expert's" reality check has bounced at the bank of taxpayer intelligence.

If this consultant's philosophy prevailed in the medical profession, then perhaps "bypass" surgery would be performed by very well paid "reclassified" ambulance drivers because all qualified and experienced cardiac surgeons would be working where their qualifications and experience were valued. If it prevails in education, Washington county's master teachers would perhaps "progress" from being the worst paid professionals in state to the poorest paid in the country.

It is no surpirse that the highest concern of business and professional people in this community is the "brain drain" of its brightest and best leaving this county en masse. Perhaps we need to address this concern by doing something substantial to keep them here; to invest in the educational system which establishes a commitment to achievement, loyalty, expertise and experience.

Vaughn Crowl, Ph.D., Chairman

On behalf of the Faculty Assembly of Hagerstown Community College

Poor judgment

To the editor:

This letter is to state my dissatisfaction with the way the judging for the Cumberland Valley Photographic Salon was held on December 10, 1999. I have entered prints in this Salon for the past 17 years or so and always try to attend the judging.

This year, chairs for those attending the judging were across the room from where the judging was taking place, making it impossible to see the prints. When I asked Associate Curator Sandra Strong how we were going to see she informed me, in a tone that I found insulting, that this was the way it had been done the previous year.

This is not so. None of the judgings I've attended previously have been done this way. I verified this with other photographers who were present.

After a few moments Strong relented, and we were permitted to move our chairs over to the judging area, but Strong refused to allow us to see our scores. As I considered this a waste of my time, and found Strong's attitude and tone less than courteous, I left. At least one other photographer left as well.

It's valuable for entrants to see and understand how their works are rated so they can learn from the process. There's no point in taking the time and making the effort to attend this procedure if the photographers are blocked from the judging process.

It's a shame that one employee's manner has spoiled my long and enjoyable association with this event.

Bruce Wilder

Vice President

Washington County Arts Council Member, Antietam Photographic Society

Keedysville

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