Although I live in Tucson, Arizona, I begin each day by reading The Baltimore Sun, and then The Arizona Star. Yesterday an article appeared on the front page of The Baltimore Sun, above the fold, written by one of the education reporters, Liz Bowie. My incredulity after reading was immense. I wrote the following letter to the editor. I doubt they will publish it as it is highly critical of Bowie.
”As a retired teacher who worked for BCPS for 32 years, and one who has continued to carefully watch what goes on, I was deeply disillusioned by Liz Bowie’s recent article about the school board. Liz Bowie has so often been absent from the scene when covering BCPS. Beginning with Dance, who she praised right up until the moment he was found guilty of perjury, (and when BCPS appeared on the FRONT PAGE of the New York Times – whose writer bested her in getting the story out) to the present moment, where Bowie has written NOTHING about the debacle regarding destruction of documents, what do we call this kind of reporting? Bowie manages to ignore the facts, like the half billion spent on lapstops which has caused a dearth of human resources for students. Bowie’s subjective reporting is an embarrassment to The Sun. Please find someone to cover BCPS with a better sense of what to look for, where to look, and with a more racially balanced view.”
Others have also expressed their indignation on social media. Jayne Horowitz Lee said it better than I ever could:
“The article is disturbing. Liz stopped contacting PTA Council some time ago. I guess the fact that we were supportive of the WHOLE board didn’t fit in with what the paper wanted to hear. The fact that there are differences of opinion on a board is a good thing. Difference of opinion, when all are given the opportunity to express theirs, leads to progress and new ideas. All following like sheep and questions being suppressed leads to stagnant work and opens the door for a charismatic “pied piper” to lead the group down a wrong path. The fact that scores have dropped significantly tells me that BCPS was heading down that wrong path. Technology can be great, but, when the basics are abandoned in favor of technology and when good PR becomes more important than the education of ALL children and when a system abandons the needs of the individual child while attempting to have each child learn in the same “equal” manner the children are the losers. Equal and Equitable are not the same. Putting a laptop in the hands of each child may make them “equal”, but, that laptop cannot replace the work that a teacher can do in understanding how each student learns and what each student needs for success. Cutting back on teachers and services is not made up for by giving a child a fancy device. Children who are hungry cannot learn. That FACT was proven over 50 years ago in studies that brought about headstart and food programs. A device doesn’t help a child whose only meal may be at school and who leaves the school with a device and no place to charge it or leaves to go to a place they face daily abuse or who leaves with no real place to go. The loss of people to recognize those needs in favor of putting money into bells and whistles may bring the system praise and awards for innovation and great PR, but, the statistics show that it did not better serve the lives and education of our children. Perhaps these are things that a paper should be concerned about instead of trying to promote infighting and disagreement. Perhaps a paper would better serve its community by pitching in and helping its community by promoting ways to help the children find the services they lack.”
Then of course, my husband, Bill Groth weighed in with these words:
“The sun sets on The Sunpapers…OK folks, many who have lived in Baltimore for any length of time (35+ for me) have watched the sun slowly “set” on The Sunpapers. Declining journalistic standards, one-sided coverage of important issues and the blatant lack of coverage of key issues that impact all who call Baltimore “home” have been tolerated by those diehard subscribers who cling to the idea that the “free press” is a key cornerstone of our democracy. My wife and I, just happen to be two of them!
Sadly then, after this article appeared yesterday, above the fold, I would have to say that “the deed is done – for The Sun.”
In my opinion, the editor of this declining publication should be taken “out behind the woodshed” (so to speak) for his decision to run this poorly written, thinly veiled attempt at “journalism”. Many fellow readers were “simply aghast” at the writer’s portrayal of various board members’ intentions as less than genuine, and were then outraged to read that the “reporter” had the shameful moxie to boldly imply that their nefarious motives were obviously related to their race!
So, as someone who devoted almost 40 years to public education in Baltimore County, and as someone who knows personally many of those serving in BCPS administration as well as on the BOE, I respectfully say that Ms Bowie is a discredit to fellow journalists everywhere, for her poor journalistic standards and use of conjecture in place of factual reporting – and should be dismissed from The Sun. As for the editor, whose race-baiting attempt to simply sell newspapers (for running this article in the first place, and then, and far worse – above the fold on the front page) I can only say – what a schmuck! I now fully grasp why The Tribune has finally thrown up their hands with this “rag” and has decided to sell this “journalistic cesspool” to the highest bidder! Good Luck!”
It is with no joy that I write disparagingly of The Sun. I grew up in Baltimore City, finding it on the porch early each morning, and watching both my parents read its articles, often with lively ensuing discussions. Later, I moved to Baltimore County and had my own subscription for 30 years. In the past ten years, I have noticed, much to my lament, the lack of objectivity in education reporting. Now, from 2500 miles away, I have the digital subscription and see how the professionalism continues to deteriorate. I can no longer defend the paper. The demise of this newspaper brings no joy to my heart. For me, it is akin to a bad breakup.