Letters to the editor 2/18

February 18, 2003

Raise standards, not money

To the editor:

To the Washington County Board of Education:

Well the beat goes on. Board of Education President Bernadette Wagner is taking over as the fund-raising chief for the board.

She is, however, going one better - she is telling the commissioners and the elected representatives how much to increase our taxes, and then how much should be given to the schools. And all of us taxpayers thought we were electing board members to manage the educational achievement and attainment of our children.

Little did we know that the major function and focus for our board members is to increase funding.

After my presentation to the full board and the two new members six months ago, I thought I had achieved understanding by restating the board mission to mange the educational system of Washington County. It certainly was made clear by me that your history of setting measurable educational goals and standards and then reporting progress on them to the taxpayers has been sorely lacking.


At that time I also made specific suggestions on how to improve board performance responsibility for accountability of the assets (human and nonorganic) under your watch.

The board changed the objective and said we will do a new five-year plan even though the previous one was only one year old at the time.

Your poorly measured, managed and misrepresented performance standards - leaving out not only the people who report to the superintendent, but also the people who report to them - perpetuate the unchanging nature of getting improvements into the school system.

The board does not want to be held to measurable standards and therefore balks at setting them for the "managers" of the schools - directors and principals and curriculum administrators.

Since you continue to change the target by which you can be measured, your insistence on getting more money is downright insulting.

Tom Janus


Church even older than generally thought

To the editor:

I enjoyed reporter Andrea Rowland's comprehensive story about local black history in Sunday's paper, and admired the way she was able to make a mountain of information readable and interesting.

Unfortunately, a common myth has been perpetuated, and is again repeated in the article, in that Asbury M.E. Church stood alone as "the only colored church" from 1818 (its founding) until 1838 (the commonly used date for Ebenezer AME's founding), a 20-year time span.

Although Asbury can claim the right to proclaim itself "the first colored church in Hagerstown," it is only by a period of two years, not 20 years. Ebenezer A.M.E. Church was established in 1820 by Richard Allen, the A.M.E.'s founder.

Many clues (prior to 1838) exist in Thomas W. Henry's biography. For example, "In December of 1834, complaints were lodged about him preaching at Bethel Church." (Bethel and Ebenezer are used interchangeably.) Rev. Henry made his final break with Asbury M.E. on Jan. 1, 1835, and went over to "Bethel A.M.E. Church."

The ambitious Rev. Henry found "the old church" that he now pastored "growing no larger," but the "membership and congregation was increasing." So, he wanted "a new church" (building), and "a burial ground, as the old one was filled up." All of this is before 1838. They had a church that was too small, and they had filled up the cemetery, all before the commonly used founding date of 1838.

Don Brown


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