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Howard County protester: I am not against diversity, but I am against ‘forced busing’

Outside River Hill High School, Judah Landzberg of Clarksville, a Baltimore school teacher, holds up a sign criticizing "forced busing" in Howard County.
Outside River Hill High School, Judah Landzberg of Clarksville, a Baltimore school teacher, holds up a sign criticizing "forced busing" in Howard County. (Photos courtesy of Scott Ewart)

My name is Judah Landzberg, and I am the person in the Howard County redistricting protest photos holding a baby and a “NO FORCED BUSING” sign. I am also a teacher in Baltimore City Public Schools (I don’t think I have to say this, but in case readers are from out of state, Baltimore City teachers devote our careers teaching a vast majority of black and Hispanic students). I am married to a beautiful, smart and caring Chinese woman who was born in China, and the son I am holding will speak Chinese as his first language, not English.

Even still, an article was published using a photo that included my image under the headline, “A courageous plan to redraw school boundaries tests community’s commitment to diversity” (Sept. 6). The photo’s caption suggested we were protesting against diversity, which upsets me greatly. My sign had nothing to do with diversity. This was a misuse of my image, and I am writing in to correct the record. My protest is against forced busing of my child to a middle school that is five miles farther away than his current middle school, which he can walk to in under 15 minutes as it is less than one mile away.

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My protest is not against voluntary busing of other children to our school that my son is currently supposed to attend. Whoever voluntarily is willing to attend our school, to fill any vacant seats or open capacity, is welcome. I hope that the county can use our open seats to help out students who will benefit the most and whose families want them to attend our school. In fact, I have devoted my life to educational equity and would be happy to see our school invite more students in to make it more diverse. I would not even be against increasing capacity to allow this to happen.

I understand why other people would associate busing with racism. That is why I used the word “forced” in my protest. I am not against other students busing into our school if they want to, but my wife and I moved within walking distance to all three schools so that our son would be able to attend school even if he missed the bus. If he is forced to bus to a farther school that he cannot walk to, that defeats the purpose of us living right next to three schools and will cause a hardship for us on days that he misses the bus. He may even have to stay home from school as my wife and I cannot come home to drive him to school and as we will not let our 11-year-old son get into an Uber or taxi on his own.

Please do not assume the motives of people who are against the Howard County superintendent’s plan and please do not print articles that label people racist or not committed to diversity unless they have said that they are. So far, as a recent resident of Howard County, I have the great impression that people here are some of the most diverse, open, caring and politically conscious people, and I am proud to be part of this diverse community.

Judah B. Landzberg, Clarksville

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