A school bus drops off a River Hill High School student. Howard County public schools contemplating a proposal to redistribute some 7,400 students to different schools in part to address the economic segregation that leaves poor students concentrated in some schools.
A school bus drops off a River Hill High School student. Howard County public schools contemplating a proposal to redistribute some 7,400 students to different schools in part to address the economic segregation that leaves poor students concentrated in some schools. (Baltimore Sun Staff)

If not now, when? As we delve into the issue of redistricting with an equity lens, I would like to add some food for thought (“Howard County’s redistricting plan: Progress but not pain-free,” Sept. 10). The issues of equity and diversity are very important and need to be addressed. Equity means providing the necessary resources in order that all may have equal access to opportunity. By diversity I mean a variety of experience racially, culturally, ethnically and socioeconomically.

Why is there inequity in the first place? Institutional, systemic practices and government policies that we have created the great divide that we have today. Redlining, discriminatory banking practices, discriminatory zoning and planning practices, along with unexamined racial attitudes and the myopic telling of the history of this nation have all contributed to the condition of our society. If there was equity and equal access in housing in society then there would be no need to redistrict schools to balance the demographics. Mixed income communities without racial discrimination would produce well-resourced neighborhood schools with broad diversity. The schools would become places were the diverse learning styles of children would be met by well trained and qualified educators who value the uniqueness of every child regardless of the child’s background.

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The reality is that at no point in the history of this nation has there ever been equal access or equal opportunity for all children to be educated. There has never been equal access or equal opportunity for people to provide for their families. However, in the book, “Children of the Dream: Why School Integration Works,” Professor Rucker Johnson, of the University of California at Berkeley, makes a compelling case where integration has worked. There are documented successes where integrated education has resulted in some long term gains, but these facts have been overshadowed by the lack of consistent efforts to address uninformed attitudes and beliefs that continue to seek division.

I recommend that we all take a deep breath and really do some honest soul searching to get to the why of the visceral reactions of our children learning together, creating together, and growing together. Consider what and who we have lost because of the great division in our society. Have we missed out on cures for cancer; missed out on great discoveries and inventions and lost out on artistic ingenuity. The United States would truly be the greatest country in the world if only…

Let’s extend grace, do some honest reflection and seek real change for the sake of the children.

Jacquelin McCoy, Colulmbia

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