Panel, audience to discuss schools’ racial equity
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.”