Earlier this summer, I hoped to host an Equality in Education panel. Due to external factors, the event was cancelled, but I wanted to share my responses to the questions that were received.
1. Has the pandemic highlighted school inequality; and if so, how do we use these insights and lessons learned to ensure kids have the resources they need for school work?
I’ve taught throughout Anne Arundel County for forty years including teaching kids who are incapable of attending school – many for health or behavior related reasons. I’ve taught kids in District 3 without access to basic human necessities – heat, clothes, and healthcare. The COVID-19 pandemic has heightened inequalities among students. Many students do not have access to the technology they need to be successful for virtual learning this fall. We need to make sure all students are provided with the resources they need to be successful. In some cases, this goes beyond technology. Some students cannot learn at home. Students in the English as a Second Language Program or those on an IEP need to have access to in-person learning.
2. Equality at least requires the rainbow down and especially up the employee chain to look like the populous. How will you bring your fellow board members around in support of that difficult realization?
Being in the classroom for many years, I have insights most board members do not have. I understand that equality requires a diverse population of teachers in our school systems. This is where I believe a teacher on the board would be most helpful. I’ve had countless experiences with students and teachers of color that have shaped my perspective. We need to recruit qualified teachers across all races to match our student population. This is an important step in creating a diverse classroom. We should give incentives to prospective teachers to entice them to come this county and stay!
3. How would you address racial and bias incidents in the schools? Is the current process enough of a deterrent?
The process to deter racial and bias incidents in schools is not enough. The county’s policies and regulations surround race are found in the Code of Student Conduct that parents and students are required to sign annually. Unfortunately, these policies are not discussed further in schools. We need to train our teachers to hold conversations surrounding race, bias and equality. Having open discussions would help curb misconceptions about cultural differences.
4. How do you feel about Global Citizenship class? Would he institute other classes, which would address bias? If so, at what grade levels and what would they involve?
Global citizenship classes is a wonderful concept to explore a variety of cultures. We should start in elementary schools and carry if throughout high school. It would provide students an understanding of the diversity in our country and how to identify cultural differences.
5. How do you feel about renaming George Fox Middle School?
In early July, board member Julie Hummer presented a motion to form a diverse committee to investigate renaming George Fox Middle School. The school is named after George Fox, a former superintendent who made racist comments in a court hearing. I am in favor of a forming a committee to investigate renaming the school. Acknowledging and examining symbols of hatred is an important first step in addressing equality in our school systems.
6. Do you know the differences in student, teacher, and administrative racial makeup I the Chesapeake vs the Northeast cluster? Do you this this is a factor in the bias incidents in these schools?
I do not know the exact student, teacher, and administrative racial makeup of the Chesapeake verses Northeast cluster. However, I taught for many years in both high schools and middle schools. Both school clusters employ predominantly white female teachers. Teachers of color are woefully underrepresented in both clusters. Equality requires a diverse population of teachers in our school systems. We need to entice qualified teachers with incentives to come to Anne Arundel County and stay.