After the press release on August 13th (Councilmembers Rigby, Jones and Jung call on HCPSS to develop a plan to desegregate its schools) we all knew that a resolution was coming from the Howard County Council…and I noticed it on their website yesterday.
It is CR 112-2019: A RESOLUTION requesting the Howard County Public School System to draft, approve, and implement a lawful multi-year Integration Plan to ensure that Howard County Public Schools are integrated by socioeconomic factors. Here is a link to that council resolution currently listed in the pre-filed legislation section of the website: https://apps.howardcountymd.gov/olis/LegislationDetail.aspx?LegislationID=12323
You can read through it all…there is a lot of background and general information in the various “Whereas” sections…then you get to the meat of the resolution…the “Be it resolved” sections. Here they are:
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the County Council of Howard County, Maryland, on this ___ day of ___ , 2019 supports the Howard County Board of Education and Howard County Public School System in their lawful efforts to integrate Howard County Public Schools through the redistricting and boundary review process and focus additional efforts and resources on addressing the achievement gaps and racial and socioeconomic disparities in the Howard County Public School System.
AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the County Council of Howard County, Maryland, calls on the Board of Education and the Howard County Public School system to draft, approve, and implement a lawful multi-year Integration Plan to ensure that Howard County Public Schools are integrated by socioeconomic factors and remain integrated in future years.
I reached out to councilmembers Rigby, Jones, and Jung (and their staff) yesterday via email in order to better understand what they are trying to accomplish with this resolution, ask a few questions and I offered that if they would like to provide a statement for my article this morning…to please send me something via email and I would be happy to copy and paste it right into this post…this is what I got back:
Councilmember Opel Jones: After reaching out via email he gave me a call on the phone. We had a nice discussion and he helped me understand that this resolution was not intended to direct the HoCoBOE or HCPSS on the specifics of what the councilmembers are looking for in regards to “integration by socioeconomic factors”…the details of that plan are the responsibility of the HoCoBOE and HCPSS and they (the CC) would never disrespect that fact. I have to tell you from my perspective that was good to know. I also appreciated the fact that he reached out to me directly. He wins my councilmember of the day award.
Councilmember Christiana Rigby: After reaching out via email I did hear back from a staffer. The staffer told me that Christiana Rigby was out of town but to forward my questions via email and they would try and get me some answers by the evening.
I have not heard back as of this morning.
ARTICLE UPDATE: I received the following information from staff of Councilmember Christiana Rigby this morning:
The purpose of CR112-2019 is to refocus the conversation on redistricting to include equity in the school boundary review process. Councilmember Mercer Rigby intended to add her voice to the conversation about the school boundary review process and put a emphasis on equity, which should be a priority but is often left out of the conversation. The Council has tried to have many public discussions on the importance of equity in the school system, and Councilwoman Mercer Rigby hopes that this resolution bolsters those conversations in the school boundary review process.
We know school integration is not a singular issue; it is the result of many years’ worth of development patterns, a significant lack of affordable housing, and inequitable school boundary lines. At this point in time, when the Board of Education is considering redistricting, a conversation about equity and school integration needs to be at the table. We have an opportunity to correct a system that has been weighted to exclude families experiencing poverty from accessing the same educational experience that other families receive, and I hope that the Board of Education seriously considers addressing these disparities in their redistricting process.
Councilmember Deb Jung: After reaching out via email I did hear back from a staffer. The staffer told me that Deb Jung was out of town but to forward my questions via email and they would try and get me some answers by the morning. I have not heard back as of this morning.
I also sent an email to Councilmember Liz Walsh (and her staff). I know her name was not listed as a sponsor of the bill but she did retweet the Howard County Times article on this topic back on August 13th and I just was curious where she might stand on this resolution. I have not heard back at all from anyone in D1 about my email yesterday on this topic.
I know the Howard County Council is on recess and that many may be taking vacations right now. I do not fault them for not getting back to me in a short timeframe. I mention the interactions above so that my readers know I do try and get feedback and information prior to writing my articles (when I can or where appropriate). If I do get something from those councilmembers after posting this article…I will be sure to update this article with information they send me (or maybe put out a new article depending on the information).
I will give the Howard County Councilmembers that sponsored this resolution props for the following “Whereas” lines in the resolution:
WHEREAS, past development patterns in Howard County have lacked a diversity of housing types throughout the county, compounding socioeconomic inequities seen in the school system;
WHEREAS, the County is building upon policies to expand housing affordability, diversifying housing types and their distribution throughout the county;
They at least owned up the fact that development patterns and policies have also played a role in the socioeconomic inequities seen in the school system. I personally hope they will also address this fact in future legislation.
The bottom line in all of this (as I see it) is that this is a resolution from the Howard County Council to the Howard County Board of Education and Howard County Public School System asking them to “focus additional efforts and resources on addressing the achievement gaps and racial and socioeconomic disparities in the Howard County Public School System” and to develop a plan to ensure schools are integrated by socioeconomic factors. I think we all in the community hope those things are part of the “Boundary Review Process” as the school system goes through redistricting.
The big upside is that this is only a resolution…with no specifics and no penalties…so there is absolutely nothing here that should slowdown or stop the redistricting process happening today.
Speaking of today…we get the HCPSS Superintendent’s Attendance Area Adjustment Plan (after it was delayed on Tuesday due to a power outage). That will happen at 6:00pm this afternoon. I will not see it (I have other plans this afternoon)…so I am hoping someone out there (I am looking at you Dawn…LOL…just kidding) will be live tweeting it for those of us that can not be there or watch the live video this evening. I am sure to be watching it tomorrow at some point when I am free.
That is all I have this morning on this item. Once we get the documentation on the plans presented…I am sure I will have more to say.
Hope you all have a great day.