Panel, au­di­ence to dis­cuss schools’ racial eq­uity

The Calvert Recorder - - News - JESSE YEAT­MAN

A panel pre­sen­ta­tion and au­di­ence dis­cus­sion is planned for this Sun­day af­ter­noon to dis­cuss eq­uity in pub­lic schools and the needs and chal­lenges in the ed­u­ca­tional sys­tem.

The Big Con­ver­sa­tion Part­ners for Dis­man­tling Racism and Priv­i­lege will present a panel and small group dis­cus­sion at Patux­ent High School on Sun­day, Jan. 13, from 2 to 5 p.m.

“Our idea is to make this vi­able for all of South­ern Mary­land,” David Dead­er­ick said. The Lex­ing­ton Park res­i­dent is one of sev­eral vol­un­teers help­ing to or­ga­nize the event.

Pan­elists in­clude Dan Curry, su­per­in­ten­dent of Calvert pub­lic schools; Jan­ice Walthour, St. Mary’s NAACP pres­i­dent and a re­tired St. Mary’s teacher; Guf­frie M. Smith Jr., a na­tive of St. Mary’s re­tired from 33 years with Calvert pub­lic schools and seven years with the Mary­land State Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion; and re­tired Col. Will Wig­gins, CEO of the non­profit Rem­nant Cen­ter of Ex­cel­lence.

The dis­cus­sion will in­clude stu­dent achieve­ment, di­ver­sity, teacher hir­ing, eq­uity, dis­ci­pline and ad­e­quate prepa­ra­tion of stu­dents for the new world of work and as con­tribut­ing, in­formed cit­i­zens, ac­cord­ing to the group. It also touch on the Mary­land Com­mis­sion on In­no­va­tion & Ex­cel­lence in Ed­u­ca­tion re­port, known as the Kir­wan re­port, which will be­come the blue­print for ed­u­ca­tional de­ci­sions and fund­ing to coun­ties in Mary­land.

Par­tic­i­pants in this event will have the op­por­tu­nity to share their ex­pe­ri­ences and sug­ges­tions to lo­cal lead­ers.

“The meet­ings are some­what emo­tional at times, in a good way,” he said. “They draw us to­gether as broth­ers and sis­ters.”

The Big Con­ver­sa­tion se­ries started at Mid­dle­ham and St. Peter’s Epis­co­pal Parish in Lusby, “to en­gage in civil dis­cus­sion of im­por­tant com­mu­nity is­sues,” Dead­er­ick said. Other top­ics that have been dis­cussed at the multi-racial events in­clude im­mi­gra­tion, health care, vet­er­ans, eco­nomic in­equal­ity, gun vi­o­lence and, last win­ter, the topic of racism.

“We com­mit­ted our­selves to con­tin­u­ing that con­ver­sa­tion on racism,” he said.

Patux­ent High School is lo­cated on the South­ern Con­nec­tor Boule­vard in Lusby. The event this Sun­day is free and open to the pub­lic; reg­is­tra­tion be­gins just be­fore the dis­cus­sion at 1:30 p.m.

For more in­for­ma­tion on the Big Con­ver­sa­tion event, call 410-326-4948 or email big­con­[email protected]

St. Mary’s mod­eled the neigh­bor­ing county’s pro­gram with its own Dis­man­tling Racism pro­gram. The lo­cal dis­cus­sion se­ries con­tin­ues later this month with three events.

On Tuesday, Jan. 22, the film “Eyes on the Prize” will be shown at 6 p.m., fol­lowed by a fa­cil­i­tated dis­cus­sion at St. Mary’s Col­lege of Mary­land’s Cole Cin­ema. This land­mark se­ries, which first pre­miered in 1987, doc­u­ments the his­tory of the Civil rights move­ment in Amer­ica.

The next day, on Jan. 23, at 6 p.m., the film will again be shown along with a fa­cil­i­tated dis­cus­sion at the United States Col­ored Troops In­ter­pre­tive Cen­ter, lo­cated at 21675 South Coral Drive in Lex­ing­ton Park. For more on the film dis­cus­sions, con­tact Ken Coop­wood Sr. at kd­coop­[email protected] or 240-895-4259.

And on Thursday, Jan. 24, there will be a work­shop pre­sented by the Racial Eq­uity In­sti­tute from 2 to 8 p.m. This free event will al­low or­ga­niz­ers to use sto­ries and data to present a per­spec­tive that racism is fun­da­men­tally struc­tural in na­ture. This will be held at the South­ern Mary­land Higher Ed­u­ca­tion Cen­ter in Cal­i­for­nia. Reg­is­ter by email­ing Ali. [email protected] or call­ing 301-475-9118 or by go­ing to the Even­tbrite web­site and search­ing for “Ground­wa­ter Train­ing by the Racial Eq­uity In­sti­tute.”

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