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Redistricting schools won’t address test scores

This letter is a response to the letter from Carolyn Lunking (Oct. 24).

Ms. Lunking is wrong when she says that parents who oppose the superintendent’s redistricting proposal don’t want their children to associate with kids of a different socioeconomic class. Not everyone who opposes the plan is wealthy. Some families are, but most are middle class.

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Furthermore, we are not, as Ms. Lunking claims, refusing to integrate. Students from Long Reach and Howard who participated in the Jump Start program at River Hill were welcomed with open arms by the students, administration, faculty, clubs, sports teams, PTSA and boosters.

Ms. Lunking is skeptical of estimated bus rides of 40 minutes for students who would be redistricted from River Hill to Wilde Lake or Wilde Lake to River Hill. She claims that Wilde Lake is 13 minutes from River Hill. First, this estimate is likely only true during off-peak times, and perhaps not even then, unless one is going above the posted speed limit. It will certainly not be the case with more buses and cars on the road traveling from the current River Hill district to Wilde Lake or Wilde Lake to River Hill.

Also, bus rides and driving times need to be calculated from where the student lives, not their current high school. From where we live, it takes us 10-15 minutes to get to River Hill. If my son were at Wilde Lake, the commute time would easily be doubled, and we aren’t even on the far edge of what would be the new Wilde Lake district.

My main question for Ms. Lunking, however, is, if as she states student test scores correlate to what percentage of the population has two parents, receives tutoring, piano lessons and robot camp in the summer, how exactly are busing and redistricting going to address those issues?

Perhaps instead of forcing the breakup of communities, the superintendent should propose breaking up families in order to level the playing field. Of course this is an offensively absurd idea as is Ms. Lunking’s statement that parents opposed to the superintendent’s plan are “hording” opportunities for our children and leaving out the rest. Students who receive private tutoring, take piano lessons and attend robot camp in the summer do so because their parents pay for those activities outside of school.

Ms. Lunking says throwing government money at schools with lower test scores won’t magically fix the reasons some students score lower on standardized tests. Neither will busing and redistricting. Opponents of the superintendent’s proposal are advocating “improve don’t move” because it is less disruptive to fewer children to put money into after-school programs at schools with a higher concentrations of low-income kids than to bus them to another school.

Instead of spending money on additional buses, bus drivers and fuel, the money could be spent on direct school-based resources such as SAT and AP test prep and teacher-led after-school tutoring. A child from a lower-income family is not going to magically score higher on standardized tests because he/she is sitting next to someone who went to robotics camp in the summer.

Finally, as another letter writer stated, schools are segregated because housing is and because for too long, prior to the current county administration, county officials granted waivers for additional homes in areas with already overcrowded schools and let developers get away with opting out of building moderately priced housing. None of the children in Howard County should be forced to try and fix the problem that adults created by being bused away from their neighborhood school.

Lynn O’Brien

Ellicott City

Mother Jones article gets redistricting wrong

The purpose of this letter is to provide a stern, accurate retort to the misconceptions displayed in the article published in Mother Jones entitled, “Racists in One of America’s Richest Counties Are Freaking Out Over a Forced Busing Proposal,” which inaccurately represents that the redistricting plan will move lower-performing black students, and to publicly proclaim the Council of the Elders of the Black Community of Howard County’s support for the approach of resolution CR112 (redistricting) and its goals of reducing overcrowding, and to convey TCOE’s plan for continued collaboration between the black community of Howard County and the Howard County Public School System.

The proposal of CR112 has served to conjure a familiar refrain from certain contemptible voices within a community, and Howard County has shown to be no different. The Mother Jones article has brought to light some of the most contemptible and irrational racist fears that existed throughout the implementation of Brown v. Board of Education, where it was thought that black students were intellectually inferior.

Keeping this unfortunate reality in mind, it may be of benefit to provide a bit of factual data in order to contest and refute those irrational fears. For instance, a common chorus that is echoed throughout the Mother Jones article is that any school that has a high percentage of African-American students will automatically and consequentially suffer from lower test scores, lower achievement rates and lower graduation rates. This assumption is highly inaccurate, purely speculative and has been disproven by the numerous successes of African-American students in elementary, middle and high schools throughout Howard County.

To put in historical context, the fear of redistricting within a publicly funded school system stokes some of the same levels of discomfort that were the catalysts to previous socially and racially motivated resistance movements that targeted African-American communities. These movements have appeared in many forms and have familiar names such as Jim Crow, redlining and separate but equal.

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Now, while other minority groups have flocked to Howard County to flourish in a seemingly cohesive environment, it is unsubstantiated that these groups share a similar American history, which carries with it such structural and institutional residue. Despite these societal movements and public misconceptions, the African-American community continues to raise the mark toward communal success and has a track record of achievement with the attainment of equitable access.

Towanda Brown

Vice chair of the Council of Elders of the Black Community of Howard County

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Veterans Day should honor all veterans

As an honorably discharged veteran, I take exception to merchants who offer Veterans Day-related discounts only to active duty and retired military personnel.

Those of us that served, but did not retire, are left to feel that our service doesn’t matter, is of lesser value than those currently on active duty, or that it was our fault that we did not retire from military service. We all answered the call to serve in the all-volunteer Armed Forces of the United States of America.

It is not “Active Duty and Retired Military Day.” It is Veterans Day. All veterans.

If confirming a person’s status as a veteran is an issue, Maryland’s Motor Vehicle Administration will, with presentation of a DD-214, overstamp and reissue driver’s licenses to indicate a person’s status as a veteran.

Michael Hurd

Marriottsville

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