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Chris Roemer: Indifference to diversity hiring in Carroll County schools flows from the top | COMMENTARY

I had not watched a Carroll County Board of Education meeting in quite a while, but I did watch on Nov. 10. For those of you who are regular viewers, I commend you on your endurance.

I’ve commented before on the county public schools’ long struggle to diversify it faculty. Regrettably, the results just posted by the school system show another year of no meaningful progress.

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The main excuse this time around for the lack of improvement recruiting minority teachers is everyone has the same problem, so the failure to make real progress should be viewed as understandable. We’ve heard this before.

I would have much more sympathy for the “finding minority candidates is really hard” argument if the methods employed to reach those candidates were adjusted from time to time to reflect an understanding that whatever Carroll County Public Schools has been doing doesn’t seem to be working.

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I’m heartened to hear Superintendent Steve Lockard sees potential for the concept of “growing our own,” and in the TAM (Teacher Academy of Maryland) program specifically. I agree with him. The TAM program introduces county students to coursework that gives them a head start toward earning their teaching certificate.

Unfortunately, by the sound of things, we have a long way to go before these programs are in a position to make any meaningful difference.

During his presentation to the board, schools Human Resource Director Ernesto Diaz let it be known that “it is a little known fact,” successful TAM students are guaranteed jobs in county public schools when they earn their teaching certificates. How is that possible?

Also, how is it possible, as William Eckles, supervisor of Career and Technology Education, went on to say, no one with the school system maintains contact with TAM students while they’re away attending college?

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Truth be told, the claim that diversifying faculty is or ever has been a top priority for county schools is a laughable assertion. Surely if it were, we would already be devoting significantly more resources in pursuit of that objective, and members of the Board of Education would be pressing staff hard for results.

If you watched November’s board meeting, it’s clear they’re not. Most board members did not engage at all during Diaz’s presentation, and board president Marsha Herbert went so far as to suggest the Pillar III goals, which include diversification of the faculty, are so unreasonable that expecting the system to achieve them is ridiculous.

If this is what the president of the Board of Education believes, what are the prospects that outcomes will improve anytime soon?

Actually, we’ve probably heard the last of this issue until November 2022 when the next Pillar III presentation will be made.

The reason the Board of Education can get away with its half-hearted efforts is because no one is pushing them to do better.

The path to better race relations is not a curriculum. It is for the citizenry to recognize that regardless of our backgrounds, the way to break down the barriers that separate us is no more complicated than getting to know one another.

The value to students of color having teachers who look like them has been well documented. Personally, I think that’s reason enough to take hiring minority teachers more seriously, but diversifying the faculty will have a positive impact far beyond the experience of minority students alone.

It will provide all students the opportunity to establish meaningful relationships with teachers who have diverse backgrounds. Real people with varied life experiences bring with them a range of perspectives to which students may not have been previously exposed. People whom our children can learn to respect and admire. Such relationships are few and far between in Carroll County simply because there are precious few minorities teaching in our classrooms.

With defeatism flowing from the top, there seems little prospect our school system will make real progress diversifying its faculty anytime soon, and it is our children who are ultimately paying the price for the Board of Education’s lackadaisical attitude.

Maybe it can draft another resolution.

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