School redistricting doesn’t have to be divisive for our county. I believe that every effort should be made to ensure that students can go to their neighborhood schools and the core focus of redistricting the school population in Howard County should remain on capacity and proximity.
Below is my letter to Chair Wu and School Board members regarding School Redistricting Policy 6010.
November 2, 2021
Chair Chao Wu, Ph.D.
Board of Education
Howard County Public School System
10910 Clarksville Pike
Ellicott City, MD 21042
Written Testimony regarding Policy 6010
Dear Chair Wu and fellow HCPSS Board of Education Members,
I am writing today to urge you to reconsider including the goal of balancing measurable socioeconomic factors across schools as a factor in the evaluation of attendance area adjustment plans as outlined in the proposed draft Policy 6010. There is no question that diversity is vital to our school system, however, it should not be the driving force in redistricting.
Instead, I believe that every effort should be made to ensure that students can go to their neighborhood schools. The core focus of redistricting the school population in Howard County should remain on capacity and proximity.
We are fortunate that we have a strong school system with excellent teachers and administrators. I have visited every school in Howard County on multiple occasions, and so I know firsthand that our teachers and administrators are all dedicated to providing an outstanding education to every single student.
I think the better approach, to ensure that all of our children are equipped to learn, is to identify and support those who are falling behind with additional resources and wraparound services. A program that I began as Howard County Executive (then called Achieve 24/7 which is now known as HoCo STRIVES) has been supporting Oakland Mills Middle students who are falling behind with an accelerated summer learning program. The last in-person cohort saw 94% of rising 6th and 7th graders, who completed the program, on track to take Algebra 1 in 8th grade. This, in conjunction with other efforts like ensuring access to healthy meals year-round, is part of a holistic approach that can ensure all children have the support they need to be successful.
As the son of a single parent, I know it can be difficult for parents who are working multiple jobs to remain on top of their kids’ education. Moving students to schools farther from their homes makes it even harder for parents to be involved in the PTA and other activities that provide support for their children. Allowing students to stay in their neighborhood schools, while providing additional resources and services, is a better way to ensure that every student has a strong and nurturing learning environment.
School redistricting doesn’t have to be divisive for our county. I am confident that you, and all of our stakeholders, can work together to develop a redistricting policy that benefits our children and brings our communities together.
I want to thank each of you for all you are doing to assist in delivering the best education possible for our children, and I appreciate your consideration of this testimony.
3030 Kittleman Lane
West Friendship, Maryland 21794