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Work for All Students

July 07, 1991

I was very interested in reading the article on Jim Berk, principal of Hamilton High School (Times, June 20), focusing on his accomplishments with the Hamilton Music Academy. Most people would be successful if they have funding and selection of personnel beyond what everyone else receives.

It is not true that all magnet schools are funded or staffed equally. Hamilton was given a ninth grade at the expense of all similar magnets that had to begin with the 10th grade. Hamilton was given a great deal of district money to convert classrooms into studios. Other schools cannot even get equipment installed that has been purchased through integration funds. Hamilton was able to handpick its students, even among those who had opted to attend other magnets.

He is a hustler par excellence. An educator? That is something else. Being a principal of a comprehensive high school means that you work for all students. As the article states, the students and teachers of the regular school feel resentment over the money and time put into the Music Academy. It would be nice if Mr. Berk hustled for the regular school as he has done for his "baby." It is a sad commentary on the state of public education if the only qualification needed to become a principal of a comprehensive high school is one's ability to raise money.

Mr. Berk needs to quit taking visitors around and get into his classrooms and direct his energy toward improving the education of all of his students. This would show the students that he does care. Maybe then the test scores would rise and the dropout rate would decrease.

KARLEEN MARIENTHAL

Principal, Hollywood High School

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