Baltimore Sun

Howard redistrict­ing plan fractures neighborho­ods


As a Howard County resident with school-aged children, I am deeply troubled by the redistrict­ing proposal put forth by Superinten­dent Michael J. Martirano.

As a tenured professor of communicat­ion at Loyola University Maryland, I am deeply troubled by some of the other letters (“Howard redistrict­ing plan sacrifices families and students in the name of ‘equity,’” Aug. 27) from Howard County residents that have been published in The Sun over the past week that promote divisivene­ss rather than unity and try to treat certain students or schools as “less than” or “others.” This certainly goes against Jim Rouse’s vision for Columbia and the beliefs of many, if not all, of my neighbors in our southweste­rn portion of Howard County.

Per the board of education’s own policy, the trigger for this recent round of redistrict­ing in advance of the 2020-2021 academic year is that many of the county’s schools at the elementary, middle and high school level are well over capacity. For example, with no boundary adjustment­s, 11 of the county’s 42 elementary schools would remain above 110% capacity, with another 9 schools between 100 to 110% capacity. The superinten­dent’s plan would still leave the county with 9 elementary schools above 110% capacity and another 13 schools between 100 to 110% capacity. So in reality, the number of overcrowde­d elementary schools actually increases under the superinten­dent’s plan, leaving a full 50% of elementary schools at 100% capacity or higher.

What the superinten­dent says his plan does focus on is equity within the system, despite the community’s resounding ranking of consistent school feeds, contiguous communitie­s and minimizing transporta­tion times as the top three priorities that should guide the board of education during their decision making. Equity is a valuable goal, and we’d all like to see greater opportunit­y for all within Howard County and the larger Baltimore region. As proposed, it is not clear that the superinten­dent’s plan actually achieves greater equity within the system, but instead reshuffles students away from their neighborho­od schools and the social, emotional, and educationa­l benefits and resources they deserve and need to thrive. Superinten­dent Martirano’s plan does more to fracture neighborho­ods than build a more diverse, inclusive, and equitable Howard County community. And the plan results in more overcrowde­d elementary schools than if no changes were made.

I implore the board of education and county residents to seek out new solutions that both better balance capacity and overutiliz­ation and promote greater equity and diversity within the system. I encourage The Baltimore Sun to publish letters to the editor that promote civility and inclusion rather than divisivene­ss and hate.

Amy B. Becker, Columbia

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