Letters to the editor

February 28, 2004

Shank does good work

To the editor:

I have known and worked with Del. Chris Shank for nine years. During this time, he has shown himself to be a hard worker who is dedicated to his constituents and has always acted with the highest level of ethics. I recognized these talents last year and that is why I asked Shank to serve as my assistant minority leader.

Recently, I have read where some people have attacked Shank unfairly in the press and I feel it is important to respond. To suggest that Chris would propose legislation for anything but the right reasons is a disservice to your readership and patently false.

Shank has a lot of supporters who have given to his campaign. These supporters contribute because Shank supports the principles of smaller government, less regulation and an improved business climate for this state. They support him because of his independent mind.


For as long as I have known Shank, he has evaluated each bill on its merits. He looks out for the people of Washington County and they are lucky to have him as their delegate.

Del. George C. Edwards
Minority Leader
District 1

Master plan does not reveal what Morgan claims

To the editor:

At the recent public hearing on the proposed 2004-2005 Board of Education (BOE) Budget, I was given three minutes to comment on a budgetary process developed over several months.

How, I asked, does this budget achieve the Maryland State Assessment goal of 100 percent "proficient" student outcomes? Certainly, we know the level of achievement for our current third graders: It is less than 50 percent at Eastern, Lincolnshire and others and only 65 percent for all elementary schools.

How, I asked, does this budget get us to 75 percent ... 85 percent ... 95 percent ... finally, to 100 percent or No Child Left Behind.

According to WCPS figures, about 30 percent of our children leave the third grade with a "basic" rather than a "proficient" score.

This means one of every three students enters fourth grade with only "partial mastery of pre-requisite knowledge and skills that are fundamental for proficient work."

This budget does not focus on this goal. In fact, there is no focus on helping every child achieve "proficiency" in reading, math, writing or science. It is a "why" budget, asking for increased funding without giving the basis.

When I finished my presentation, Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan chastised me, stating that the master plan shows "in the greatest detail, both the hows and whys of spending."

In fact, there are no dollar amounts at all in the "Master Plan Highlights" distributed at the hearing. (Those are reserved for the 39 pages of figures in the "General Fund Operating Budget.")

But let's get back to our third graders. Master Plan Highlights says Goal I is "peak performance" and Objective 1 is "to attain high achievement for all students." How is "peak" measured? How is "high" achievement measured?

Yet we are asked to approve a multi-million-dollar increase in elementary education backed up solely by BOE assurance that all elementary schools will meet MSDE performance standards. My graph at the hearing showed that for 10 years the money spent doubled and the fourth grade reading score increased by one point.

Dr. Morgan's implication is that if one looks at enough details - all those 39 pages of where money is spent - one can find the "hows" leading our children from below basic to basic to proficient.

Nothing could be more misleading. Current board members seeking re-election continue to avoid any accountability for results. They are not telling us, the community, what results we can expect from their spending.

As taxpayers, we need to understand that continuous increases in spending have not resulted in any meaningful increase in our children's proficiency. We also need to realize that continual references to the goals and objectives of the master plan will not magically transform them into tactics and "how to's."

Surely we as a community want each of our children to be "proficient" at every grade level.

Tom Janus
School Board candidate

On teacher pay, Janus off mark

To the editor:

A reply to Tom Janus' letter of Feb. 22 "Teacher pay issue not as rosy as portrayed."

If Janus continues to attack the Washington County school system through public forums, I hope he will 1) get his facts straight by doing adequate research, 2) be civil to Board of Education members and school system employees by refraining from making snide remarks, and 3) submit grammatically correct copy.

In his letter of Feb. 22, Janus suggests that BOE members, Mrs. Bernadette Wagner and Mrs. Roxanne Ober, lack familiarity with the Negotiated Agreement between the BOE and the Teachers' Association.

In fact, it is Janus who lacks knowledge of this document as well as of the Teacher Career Ladder and teacher evaluation criteria when he suggests that teachers are not evaluated on performance or student outcomes.

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