During my 30-year career in the Baltimore City public schools, I had the privilege of serving as assistant principal at the Baltimore Polytechnic Institute for two years. It is a great school, and to be a member of its faculty or student body is a rare privilege.
Yet, in candor, I must declare that the existence of such a school is unconscionable in a democratic society.
We must do all that we can to dissuade our governor and our legislature from any thought of creating another elitist "showcase" school in our state. I suggest the following thoughts for the earnest consideration of readers:
The North Carolina school, which Gov. William Donald Schaefer wants to duplicate, is not a new idea among educators. Baltimore Poly, Brooklyn Poly and the Bronx High School of Science have existed for many decades, but have been emulated by few, if any, other school districts. It has not been grasped as a good idea.
The National Association of Secondary School Principals, in its Model Schools Project of the '70s, sought to develop a prototype school. Their collective thinking led them to design a school that tried to meet the educational needs of the broad spectrum of its students, not only the intellectual elite. Wilde Lake High School in Howard County was a nearby example of this effort.
Our Founding Fathers, in establishing a system of free universal public education, sought to ensure the creation of an educated, informed electorate in the general population, not an intellectual aristocracy.
Society is best served by broadly educated persons who can adapt to the changing needs of an evolving society as opposed to narrowly trained technicians.
Resources (i.e., tax dollars) will always be in short supply. We would do best to allocate them in ways that will assist the greatest number of people, especially those persons who are in greatest need.
Our nation and our world would be much better served if we now concentrated our studies in the areas of languages and human relations in the hope of fostering better understanding among all peoples.
Experience has shown that graduates of science specialty schools are not always oriented toward science or mathematics. They go into commerce, law and myriad other pursuits, including the ordained ministry. This is not at all undesirable, but just think of the time spent studying calculus and engineering graphics.
Let us not squander our precious resources in the vain production of another "showcase." Let us instead resolve to provide equally excellent schools in every school district for every child and every teacher. To do otherwise is to do them a great disservice.
EARL L. HAGAN Randallstown