I was very much in agreement with the perspective presented by Sunil Dasgupta in (“PTA ‘badly broken,’” Sept. 17) regarding the drop in membership in PTAs.
I don’t think there is any doubt that parental encouragement, support and involvement are the most important factors in determining a child’s academic achievement. Similarly important, in my opinion, is that the child be part of a supportive and cohesive community as well. That parents are showing a reluctance to become involved in the PTA is a “red flag.”
But how does the Howard County school system treat parents? Basically, they could care less what the parents think. Have you worked hard to move to a neighborhood with a school with the programs and courses you feel will be best for kids? They’ll take care of that by moving your kids to a more distant school that you did not choose. Feel comfortable and part of a community? Don’t worry. They’ll jerk your kids to a school in another area where you don’t know anyone and perhaps feel less comfortable.
Why are they doing this? Well, here’s the real kicker: it isn’t for the benefit of your kids at all. It is a misguided revival of the discredited policy of busing to close the educational performance gap. Supposedly, by sitting next to your kids in class someone else’s kids might do a little better. Any adverse impact it may have on you or your kids is disregarded as unimportant. This policy was an utter failure in its goal when tried in the ’70s, or else the problem wouldn’t still be with us. It also had numerous negative side effects, including fights in schools and destruction of communities. No wonder parents are disaffected from the school system.
We moved to Howard County in the ’90s to escape this sort of nonsense. Our kids received good educations in neighborhood and community-based schools and sat next to a highly diverse population of classmates whose skin colors and eye shapes were of every variety known. As adults in their 30s, they are functioning quite well in a variety of environments. One is working in a community with demographics similar to Baltimore. They didn’t need your artificial and forced mixing, and neither do the Howard County students of today.
Howard County should drop this redistricting plan altogether and create a new one based on the strengthening of communities and parental involvement.
George Henry, Ellicott City
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