Un­der­stand how we ar­rived here

Maryland Independent - - Community Forum -

The Charles County Board of Ed­u­ca­tion is hit­ting its cen­tury mark this year. Recorded meet­ing min­utes in 1916 by the com­mis­sion at the time that was over­see­ing the school sys­tem doc­u­mented the first ref­er­ences to a “board of ed­u­ca­tion.”

As part of its cel­e­bra­tion, the school sys­tem is host­ing a series of lec­tures high­light­ing how the school sys­tem has changed in those 100 years. On Sept. 2, the school sys­tem kicked off its cel­e­bra­tion with its first lec­ture, “Ed­u­ca­tion: Then and Now” at the Port To­bacco Court­house. Vol­un­teers in pe­riod cloth­ing showed stu­dents in at­ten­dance what it was like to learn in a one-room school­house and what life was like for teach­ers at the time.

Stu­dents learned that teach­ers in the era — ex­clu­sively women — were not al­lowed to marry, date or even be seen in pub­lic with men that were not the woman’s brother or fa­ther, would be re­spon­si­ble for heat­ing the build­ing by lug­ging in fire­wood from out­doors, fol­low a strict dress code and teach the ba­sic three “R’s” — all while earn­ing around $1,000 per year.

Things cer­tainly have changed since then.

But one of the big­gest changes hap­pened some 50 years ago, and many peo­ple still re­mem­ber it: de­seg­re­ga­tion under the Civil Rights Act. As we men­tioned in Wed­nes­day’s ed­i­to­rial in the Mary­land In­de­pen­dent, the Charles County Fair is well un­der­way. The school sys­tem is us­ing this op­por­tu­nity to host lec­tures on how the sys­tem fair to es­cape day-to-day dol­drums, it couldn’t hurt to take in a ses­sion or two of th­ese lec­tures and learn some­thing valu­able from them: his­tory. While Charles County’s rich agri­cul­tural his­tory is the un­de­ni­able star of the an­nual fair, it makes sense to high­light an­other part of the county’s his­tory . . . al­beit one that may not have been the hap­pi­est or most pro­gres­sive.

Charles County to­day is richly di­verse and a far cry from the days where a large amount of the land was ded­i­cated to grow­ing the to­bacco cash-crop for which South­ern Mary­land was largely known. And the county school sys­tem is among the best in the state, if not in the coun­try, al­ways adapt­ing with tech­nol­ogy and changes to keep up with the times. We didn’t get here overnight, but it’s wise to un­der­stand how we got here.

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