Can a well-maintained school change attitudes?
In my story, "Parent decries school neglect at Woodlawn," that appears in today's Maryland section, I wrote about a Woodlawn High School parent, Miko Baldwin, who says she was jolted into action when she discovered the school had been without hot water in the gym area for years --- depending on who you ask, anywhere from 2 years to 8 years (Miko's daughter who was a freshman there in 2000-2001 said they didn't have hot water then, but the school system said it can only confirm the lack of hot water for the past two years).
Miko, who has been a member of the school's Parent-Teacher-Student Association since 2001, has several initiatives on her plate. Not all of them could fit into today's story, so here are some of the others:
With an eye toward increasing parent and community involvement, Miko has been recruiting local community leaders to help create a mentoring program for students.
She is asking for more textbooks, enough to assign each student a book for each class. (The school's principal, Edward D. Weglein, said he approves of the school's textbook arrangements --- each classroom has enough books for students to use during school, and students may request to check out books overnight.)
And last week, Miko requested the state PTA to conduct an evaluation of Woodlawn's PTSA because she questions the way it is being run. (Sue Katz, president of the Baltimore County Council of PTAs, said it is the group's policy not to comment on PTAs for individual schools, but that she plans to review Baldwin's concerns.)
Miko said she wants Woodlawn --- which is one of the county's largest high schools with about 2,000 students and has struggled to meet statewide assessment standards --- to be a place where teachers and administrators want to stay. (During the past 12 years, the school has had five principals.)
Miko said she knows she is making some people uncomfortable, but she said she firmly believes that improving the school's physical condition can improve attitudes, especially among students.
The old saying goes, “The squeaky wheel gets the grease.” Well, Miko decided to squeak.
I wonder how many other schools out there have similar maintenance issues that are being ignored, waiting for someone to squeak.
Does your school have similar maintenance issues? Please tell us about them here on the blog. Or, if you need to remain anonymous, you can email me directly at email@example.com or call me at 410-494-2938.