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There are no bad schools in Howard County

I can’t believe I read the testimony of three Clarksville doctors claiming that a school bus ride is bad for your health (“Some Howard health professionals say school redistricting proposal doesn’t address equity,” Oct. 10).

My 3-year-old child participates in the Regional Early Childhood Center program. His bus ride is way out of my neighborhood, and he is just fine. Other kids who currently ride buses seem just fine, too.

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Redistricting opposition members claim that their children’s bus rides will take 40 minutes or more. I also find this hard to believe. Wilde Lake High School is 13 minutes from River Hill High School. My son’s school is 14 minutes from my house. His bus makes eight stops at individual homes, and his ride is only about 25 minutes.

I do not believe that those opposing redistricting are really concerned about a bus ride at all. There are some parents that are afraid to let their kids go to Wilde Lake High School because they believe it is a “bad school.” There are no bad schools in Howard County. All the schools get the same county money, though some elementary schools receive federal Title 1 funding, and some schools receive higher parent donations than others. Do you think the school is “bad” because of its Zillow score?

The Zillow score comes from the student test scores. From my experience, teaching elementary school for 11 years, I can tell you that student test scores strongly correlate with what percent of the school population has two parents, receives tutoring, piano lessons and robot camp in the summer.

The Zillow and the standardized test scores do not tell us which school has the best teachers or the best building or the best football team or the best drama club. It tells us about the socioeconomic status of the students in the desks. Throwing government money at those schools with lower test scores to “improve” them is not going to magically fix the reasons some students are not scoring as high as a child that benefits from two college-educated parents at home. “Improve don’t move” sounds like “let the government buy them cake.”

Parents opposing the superintendent’s recommendation don’t want their child to associate with kids of a different socioeconomic class. They want to have a Blue Ribbon school with cherry-picked, tutor-aided test scores all to themselves. They are hording opportunities for their children and leaving out the rest. They are refusing to integrate; their prejudice against low-income students and the majority black and Latinx students that live in neighborhoods that include Section 8 housing is showing.

Let our kids be together and we may learn things from each other that are better than anything a child can put on a fill-in-the-bubble test. We need socioeconomic integration. Every school in Howard County needs to be a school you would be proud to send your kids to, not just some of them. Won’t you be my neighbor?

Carolyn Lunking

Columbia

Hickory Ridge plan is technically flawed

In his letter, George Clack casts doubt on the legitimacy of the 2015 survey of the Kimco redevelopment plan because it represented only residents who voted and not the non-voting “silent majority” (Oct. 10).

On Ballot Question 2, 54.2% opposed any apartments and 46.1% only would accept less than 200 units. On the question of support for the overall plan, 76.3% said no while 23.7% said yes. Contrary to Mr. Clack’s assertion, the poll shows an overwhelming rejection of the 230-unit plan.

Mr. Clack alleges the long-term worth of the Kimco plan can only be judged by “professionals and county employees” and not homeowners. A review of the technical staff report by the Planning Board on Jan. 4, 2017, does not support his conclusion. The plan does not meet county code requirements.

Kimco plan violates New Town 125.0.J.4.a(8):

  • Minimum setback requirements for apartments in all New Town development projects is 100 feet. For any other districts zoned R-A-15, the apartment setback is 50 feet. It should be noted there is a minimum setback of 50 feet for districts PSC and POR that includes Lorian, Nighttime Care and Scots Glen. The buildings on all of these properties are three stories with setbacks of nearly 100 feet. The Kimco plan shows a setback of 37 feet from the right-of-way on Cedar Lane.
  • The setback on Freetown Road Is not the 40 feet that Kimco claims is similar to the Sunrise building. In fact, the setback is 12 feet from the right-of-way. This is measured from the wall extension of the building. It is an example of why this oversized building does not fit the available land.

Additional major design flaws include unsafe Freetown Road entry as pointed out by the Design Advisory Panel; an absence of retail service facilities; incorporating land at Cedar Lane and Freetown that Kimco does not own; and violating utility easement on Cedar Lane.

Roger Lawson

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Columbia

Schools are segregated because housing is

What I took away from your coverage of the racial and financial segregation in Howard County and its schools is that Dr. Michael Martirano, the Howard County schools superintendent, will not be satisfied until every school in our system gets a Title I ranking, along with the resultant high teacher turnovers and resultant large number of inexperienced teachers and high busing expenditures.

The current situation will not be solved by transferring 7,400 children, but by ensuring that developers are no longer allowed to opt out of providing low-income housing as is currently the case in places like Maple Lawn, Turf Valley, River Hill and downtown Columbia, and that real estate agencies are required to stop their current unwritten but obvious segregation policies.

B. H. Meyer

Elkridge

Association stresses climate change urgency

As co-founder of Less Plastic Please, an organization working to reduce single-use plastic in Howard County, we would like to thank the Columbia Association for their dedication to the environment.

Last month, the board unanimously passed a climate emergency resolution. The resolution will help the public understand the existential threat of climate collapse. This is not about feel-good rhetoric. It is about the need to switch out politics as usual.

Through the Climate Emergency Declaration, the board is officially recognizing the disastrous consequences of the accelerating climate breakdown for the citizens of Howard County and the need for a massive mobilization to restore a safe climate at emergency speed.

Pat Hersey

Columbia

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