Howard County School System Superintendent Michael Martirano speaks to the audience. Howard County schools have kickoff celebrations for administration and teachers before the first day of school.
Howard County School System Superintendent Michael Martirano speaks to the audience. Howard County schools have kickoff celebrations for administration and teachers before the first day of school. (Nate Pesce/Baltimore Sun Media Group)

I read with horror Howard County Public Schools’ proposed redistricting plan and had to re-read it several times to believe what I was seeing (“Howard redistricting: Superintendent proposes moving 7,300 students to address overcrowding, poverty inequities,” Aug. 22). Never in the history of HCPSS have I seen such a reckless approach to achieving a set of preconceived and political interest-driven numbers than the proposal laid out by the current superintendent.

While the study conducted by the school board provided some reasonable options that were not overly disruptive, Superintendent Michael Martirano went beyond any commonsense approach to rebalancing overcrowded schools and instead took a radical approach to completely disrupt Howard County. To move over 7,000 children — in most cases swapping out children in close proximity to one school for children farther away from those schools and picking pockets of children based on meeting free and reduced-price school lunch criteria only — is thoughtless and reckless. His proposal is reminiscent of the busing of children that occurred half a century ago that has no place in Howard County or in 2020.

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The beauty of Howard County has always been thoughtful approaches to any challenge that have the interests of the entire community in mind. This superintendent appears to care about one thing only: making a name for himself under the guise of “equity.” Shipping kids all across the county to achieve his personal goals is not “equity” and it is disruptive in so many ways. Many working parents, like me, chose to live and work in close proximity to their children’s schools so they can juggle the demands of work and caring for school-aged children more easily. Moving children to attend schools much further away makes it more difficult, if not impossible, for working parents to achieve this. It takes time away from participating in school activities — both educational and extracurricular — for parents who carefully planned their housing choice to live close to the schools their children will attend.

Furthermore, separating neighbors and friends who have attended school together for years and sending them off in different directions — again, for the sole purpose of achieving arbitrary measures of interest to the superintendent — is not indicative of a considered, thoughtful approach and speaks volumes to what is motivating decision-making in Howard County today.

None of this is about providing a better education for our children — this is a political stunt intended to make a statement without regard for the welfare of thousands of children and their families.

I, and hundreds of parents like me, are appalled at the actions of the superintendent and can only hope that sanity will prevail in the school board’s decision-making. The Howard County Board of Education should consider the negative impact this would have on all families and vote against this proposal. We must demonstrate that such disruptive measures will not be approved for political gain.

I’ve lived in Howard County my entire life and have to think that we are better than this and will not succumb to the whims of those looking to make a political statement at the expense of our children.

Sezin Palmer

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