Letter to the Editor from John Pinkerton in the Gazette

May 21, 2008

Twenty-three years ago, the county started an experiment with the Blair High School math and science program. They asked, what happens when you attract excellent teachers with the chance to run their own curriculum?

It worked. With a small student body, the school has won numerous county, state and national academic competitions; its students take classes typical of top universities; its reputation stands at the top of high schools in the country.

For the first time, our ninth-grade son is enthralled with school. He spends lunch hours with teachers, grabs extra assignments from other classes, and joins lectures outside class time. Teachers guest lecture and team-teach topics of expertise. They supervise independent research projects. Our son and his peers soak up science and math as fast as teachers can dish it out.

Now, the superintendent proposes a new experiment. What happens if you remove the extra teacher funding, if you remove the extra teacher time, flexibility and energy that sustains the program? Will the program somehow coast along in front of the pack or, will we destroy the rare excellence that’s taken years to nurture?

John Pinkerton, Chevy Chase