As an educational leader in Frederick, not to mention the product of a renowned public school system (Newton, Mass.) and an unbridled advocate of public schools, I tend to refrain from engaging in political rhetoric. But as an educated and appropriately involved citizen of Frederick city, I am also compelled to respond and, frankly, responsible for responding to the Oct. 29 News-Post article, “Mayoral hopefuls’ ideas for helping children and schools succeed.”
First, our fine Frederick County Public Schools are a county entity, not a city one. I have enormous respect and admiration for Superintendent Theresa Alban and FCPS, but we must also recognize as educated and worldly city residents that there are alternatives to the public county system of education, including home schooling and private schools, which serve, at no cost to taxpayers, an important sector of our citizenry. The Banner School is the county’s oldest independent school and only non-religiously affiliated independent school; we are a 501(c)(3) charitable organization and receive no subsidies from the city or the county.
In the Oct. 29 article, only Mayor Randy McClement specifically referred to schools in our beloved city apart from those operated by and under the auspices of the county. The Banner School is a local fixture, a full 50 percent of our students are eligible (as identified by an unaffiliated, independent agency) for and receive financial assistance to attend, and our commitment to Frederick is widely acknowledged and lauded. Our students and alumni and their families are city and county residents, cheerleaders and taxpayers. Our campus is also considered one of the most historic and important properties in all of Frederick County, of which we are proud and dedicated stewards.
In this uncertain and unstable economy, we are suffering, but we are also enduring. As this election season comes to a close and candidates are elected to represent all of us who call and consider Frederick home, I am hopeful that each and every one of our candidates and soon-to-be elected officials will acknowledge the important role that all of us in local educational leadership and learning currently — and will in the future — contribute to our city and its unparalleled marvel and success.
Stephen R. Parnes, head of School, The Banner School