LETTERS   Dear Editor:
Your recent article “The Disconnect Between Colleges and Their Communities” inaccurately suggested that the University of Maryland does very little for its home, Prince George’s County. Since the reporter did very little to find out just how active the university really is in the county, and throughout the state, it’s important to correct the misperception. I can speak to one important example.
As the director of the Maryland Institute for Minority Achievement and Urban Education, a one-year-old initiative of the university’s College of Education, I can tell you that our intensive work in the Prince George’s County School District is beginning to pay off. Our Bladensburg Project represents a radical departure from the way education research has traditionally been conducted.
For the past year, university faculty members have worked closely and intensively with a cluster of under performing schools in the Bladensburg section of Prince George’s County. Based on research, we have offered targeted professional development training for teachers and principals, developed curriculum and counseled and tutored students.
As my dean is fond of saying, “We don’t do to the schools, we work with them.” We work closely with each school community, and they provide many of the answers themselves. This generates great enthusiasm. These are not simply fad prescriptions to be forgotten when all the fuss dies down. Our partners are deeply committed to change and it shows.
Research says this approach should work and we will test very closely to measure results. It’s too early to say much, but recent SAT scores at Bladensburg High School showed modest gains while most scores in the rest of the county stayed flat or went down.
My colleagues in the College of Education have undertaken equally adventurous commitments in Baltimore and other parts of the state. This is no accident. It is a duty in a major public research university. I’m sure my colleagues across campus could tell their own stories.
These are just some of the dimensions of the University of Maryland-Prince George’s County relationship the article failed to consider or mention. The fact is that every college on this campus has numerous, significant outreach efforts that are making a difference.
Martin Johnson
Associate Dean for Minority and Urban Education
Director, Maryland Institute for Minority Achievement and Urban Education, College of Education
University of Maryland, College Park.



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