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February 23, 2016

When Courts, Schools are Solid

Harry M. Covert

There are plenty of challenging public positions. It is rather easy to sit in comfortable living rooms and criticize and mock those who seek public offices. In my days of developing, most assuredly as an “expert,” it was my good fortune to learn how to observe and respect electeds and wannabes.


Of late, here in Frederick County, a vacancy has arisen for a judgeship in the circuit court. This is not, and should not be, a popularity contest. This is serious business not to be taken lightly, or with any lightheartedness. Responsibilities of the court are awesome for everyone; hopefully few will have to stand at the bar of justice.


There is none better to serve the Frederick County Circuit Court than the sitting State’s Attorney Charlie Smith. It has been my privilege to be personal friends with several judges and justices. They all deserve respect. And serve their jurisdictions with honor. Studying the law, even passing the bar, is no easy job. Representing citizens is incredible.


I may have taken the easy way out, but I went into the public prints and discovered it was fun to cover trials at all levels. I’ve seen suspects expectorate on the presiding judge; seen defendants physically sucker punch their defense attorneys; and, I’ve read letters from inmates asking the female judge out to dinner, “once I finish my sentence.”


Through all of the humor, courts are vital to the safety and security of towns, cities, states and the country. Frederick County has had some terrific judges past and present. I look forward to States Attorney Charlie Smith being elevated to the bench.


Other public offices should be, and must be, respected. For example, the superintendent of schools is truly one of the toughest, especially in this modern time of great educational and social changes. I am totally thrilled I grew up in the time when the vast majority of public officials were respected, dignified and servants of the people. And, students never thought of disrespecting their betters.


Throw all this together and educators are really kicked around. How to teach, how to create and how to further the physical plants are subjects often demeaned, involved in the political mainstream; and cited for disagreements that verge on hatefulness and meanness.


I realize days are long gone when elementary age students had recess with a half-pint of milk, old-fashioned peanut butter sandwiches and prunes. Yes, prunes. Then the playground with the teachers watching kickball games, marble shooting, and in the spring, square dancing. Imagine trying to pull off the latter in today’s society? What’s wrong with sandwiches for lunch?


Sure is easy watching from a critic’s desk and commenting on the “horrible” costs of school construction. Why aren’t schools designed the same for each facility? Why aren’t high schools constructed the same way for classrooms, gymnasiums, auditoriums and sporting accommodations?


In these days lots of creative engineers, builders, academicians and administrators do have new and modern ideas. These are exciting to know.


The idea that education has become enmeshed in politics is rather sad. All right, professional educators are earning good salaries, have far better educational opportunities and can find grand collegiate positions as either professors in all ranks key administrators.


I don’t know the ins and outs of public schools in Frederick County, and the system is rather sound. Some work is needed in handling special needs youngsters. The latter issue faces school divisions everywhere and is extremely difficult.


As the debate rages, and that’s the proper description, schools cost money. Lots of it. Just think about the costs if public education lessens. The business of teaching and graduating youngsters will lead to more judicial interventions. Crime does not pay, to borrow an old adage, and is more expensive that school rooms.


Imagine the cost of public education if tuition was anywhere near the costs of higher learning. Then we’d repeat another old saying, “beauty is skin deep, but dumb is to the bone.”


Class dismissed.


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