Sunday, September 24, 2017

Taken from a Tweet

This statement from a Howard County parent has been burning a hole in my brain for several days.

Why don't you create some new rules? No child should have to attend a school with lower rating than their current. Stop redistricting.

"No child should have to go to a school with a lower rating than their current."

Well, wait a minute. Who do you think should go to that "lower-rated school"? My guess it that you don't really care so long as it's not your child.

Watch my brain explode.

The purpose of public school education is to benefit all children. I am strongly opposed to efforts to use the school system to protect some children at the expense of others. Solutions should be for everyone.

While searching for this particular tweet to share this morning, I ran across another, from the U.K., which is equally relevant to our situation.

The modern purpose of education is to exclude the children who might lower a school's rating.


I feel certain I've seen signs of this rearing its ugly head during redisctricting discussions. Have you?

One last tweet. I see that Candace Dodson-Reed (Elevate Maryland) has responded to the HCPSS request for a name to Elementary School #42:

Silas Craft Elementary! Please adjust the policy and name that school after a great man who left his mark on education in Howard County.

Apparently the current rules state no naming after people, but I have to say I like this one.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Guest Post: Every Right

Today's post comes from my friend Mike Lawson who has written to local authorities of his community in Tennessee about appropriate training for first responders when it comes to dealing with  citizens who are developmentally disabled and/or on the autism spectrum. I think he has extremely valid concerns and I hope to learn more about what training our officers receive here in Howard County.


I emailed this letter to the City of Fairview, TN's mayor, vice-mayor, three commissioners, city manager, police chief, fire chief, and copied my contact at The ARC of Williamson County, the local paper and a TV station. I hope I get a good reply:

Dear Mayor Carroll and Fairview Government;

What specific training do our police and other first responders get in recognizing and interacting with the autistic and others in the developmentally disabled community here in Fairview?

 Is this training mandatory for new recruits, and is it an ongoing continuing education refresher course for existing workers?

We spend a lot of time, money and effort to teach our LEOs and others to recognized behavior causes by “people on drugs” that can if applied to the developmentally disabled, can lead to false assumptions and sometimes, tragic results.

I have no clue about what our city does to protect these vulnerable citizens by training our government employees. Please help me understand.

This story, small town like Fairview, untrained LEO:

This was a 14-year-old autistic child, “twiddling” with a string, or as he told the officer, he was stimming. The child told him he was stimming, which is kind of impressive that the kid knew to call it that.

The officer’s first thought, he must be on drugs. He never heard of stimming. Not a clue that he was talking to a disabled child. None. Whatsoever. It escalated quickly. Fortunately, he was not seriously harmed. But that child was terrified and tackled.

Critics say, “well the kid walked away.” They say, “Where was his caretaker?” They say, “He should have been taught not to walk away from a cop.” They say all manner of ignorant things, because they don’t comprehend the autistic mind. They are not trained.

This could have easily been my 24 year old adult daughter Kelly walking in Bowie Park.

This child in AZ had no complaint called in on him. This was an untrained officer using his drug training to make a wild leap to conclude the child must be on drugs. This child did nothing wrong except stand there and dangle a string and look “weird” doing it. Imagine the tragedy that could have happened and nearly did.

My daughter still stims when she is excited. And when she was a child, she did something similar to  this child in AZ, with a coat hanger and a tank top hooked over the hook end of the hanger, which she  would dangle and shake and stare at. To the untrained LEO eye, or any eye looking to blame  “drugs” this could have been her, too.

This story from Miami: 

where an unarmed, still and on the ground caretaker, was hit by a bullet from an assault rifle fired by a North Miami police officer. "Kinsey said when he asked the officer why he fired his weapon, the cop responded, “I don’t know.” This could easily happen at the Rec Center far from the Waves side if a client decides to bolt on them. When my daughter went to Waves a few years ago, she did something similar when she was having a bad day.

This from the NYT in reference to the recent AZ incident:

Nothing scares the hell out of me more than the thought of my 24 year old daughter having a minor meltdown at a store here, or anywhere for that matter, and having an untrained LEO interact with her and escalate the situation into a tazing, or physical altercation, or worse, her getting shot because that officer thought she was on drugs or “fear for their life” and pulled their service revolver.

You must know we have a very large population of developmentally disabled adults and children in Fairview, with the multiple WAVES homes, and the Waves center, and the unseen population of them like my daughter and her friends. There is nothing to stop one of my well-meaning Kingwood subdivision neighbors who don’t know Kelly, from calling FPD if they see her walking in the neighborhood, talking to herself or singing loudly, and “acting like she is on drugs:” And FPD’s response is going to be to send a car out maybe with lights flashing, maybe multiple cars, try to stop and question her, and all hell could potentially break loose. But yet, Kelly has every right to walk down the street, even acting, “weird” as long as she isn’t hurting anyone or herself. Every right. And every right to not be stopped for doing so in spite of a call to the contrary.

I almost feel like I need to post a sign at my home stating an autistic adult lives here, just to keep untrained emergency responders from going to their go-to training of “she must be on drugs, get the handcuffs taser, gun out…” and it is extremely worrisome. We parents have enough things to worry  about over our child’s lifetime.

So, how is our city training our first responders to deal with this very real issue here in our little town?


Mike Lawson is a professional musician, the Executive Director of TI:ME, and the Editor of School Band and Orchestra magazine.

Comments are welcome here:

Friday, September 22, 2017

Is it Friday Yet?

So tired. Like, fall asleep sitting up in a chair tired.

Let's make this brief.

Go see Dune, the Ballet tonight at the Chrysalis. It's free. 7-9 pm.

Here's the event page on Facebook.

Bring blankets to sit on or chairs. And bring your appetite because there'll be food from  and .
Celebrate the arts in the park with a cool science fiction ballet.

Thursday, September 21, 2017


Last night I started hearing private rumblings that something was up with the MSDE appointment of Dr. Renee Foose. Had she withdrawn her name from consideration? What was up?

I reached out privately to a few people I know to have reliably good information. I was looking for confirmation. I had a lead on a great story but I didn't have enough to be sure.

So I waited.

Shortly thereafter, the Baltimore Sun posted their article, followed by the Maryland Daily Record's account.

Ah, well. So, I didn't get the scoop. I got excited for a few minutes there. And then I remembered that I'm a blogger, not a journalist.

Journalists are trained to do this job. They follow a certain protocol and are bound by journalistic ethics. Whether it's a story about an appointment to the MDSE, or efforts to repeal healthcare, journalists are doing the unglamorous work day in and day out to keep the public informed. We need them.

I love having this blog and that I have been able to forge relationships with people in the community who are willing to reach out to me with information. I try to behave responsibly. I am very fortunate to have this platform for sharing ideas.

I may occasionally have the opportunity to "break" stories. This does not make me a journalist. I endeavor to be informative but my bailiwick is commentary and interpretation more than headlines and bylines. Perhaps last night I needed a little reminder of that.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Well This is Awkward

Governor Hogan:  There’s a palpable loss of trust between many parents and the county school system, and in particular with the superintendent.

MSDE: You're hired.

Me: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ 

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Disaster and Soup

Let's have a disaster.

A great, big natural disaster that brings out the best in everyone.

Because apparently it's the only thing that causes folks in our OneTrueHoward to care about other peoples' neighborhoods and other peoples' children. Somehow a disaster reminds us that the condition we are in is the human condition, and it is meant to be shared.

Not so with redistricting.

Our community has been splintered into an odd assortment of factions, including, but not limited to: the no polygon people, the t-shirt people, the "we paid a lot for our house" people, the "they're out to get us because we're poor and under-represented" people, the anonymous Twitter account people,  the people who are afraid of The Next Town, the "developers are in league with the Devil" people, and probably more. We did this to ourselves. We have no one to blame but ourselves. It is human nature to be fearful of change. It is also human nature to lean toward selfishness.

How can the same foolish creatures who accuse perfectly ordinary fellow citizens of nefarious intent when it comes to school attendance boundaries have within themselves the ability to spring into action when it comes to floods, tornadoes, fires, and hurricanes? How is this even possible? Why can't we turn on that switch of unselfish cooperation to work with community members to make our schools the best they can possibly be?

When I was little I remember being both fascinated and perplexed by the story of Stone Soup. I couldn't understand why none of the villagers would share anything, not even a crumb. Why were they so distrustful? Why were they convinced that they must hide all that they had, that there was not enough to be shared?

And how did they come to be transformed by the unfolding vision of the soup made from stones? What was it that convinced them to let down their guard and risk a bit of the little they had? Whatever it was, we need some in Howard County. Because natural disasters are not something to wish for, no matter how well we respond to them.

What we really need is trust. Trust that no one is trying to steal our tiny piece of the pie that we would fight rather than surrender. Trust that the soup made by neighbors who share is better than a hoarded crust alone.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Time Travel Returns!

We all know that person who wants to go back to "the time when things were better." Heck, most of us have moments when we wish we could return to a kinder, gentler world. I'm happy to announce that the Chrysalis is offering a one-night time-traveling experience which will take your mind off politics, world events, and day-to-day woes. 

On Tuesday, September 26th, (that's tomorrow)  the Inner Arbor Trust will present Stary Olsa in concert at 6:30 pm. Admission is free.

An evening in the Middle Ages could be just the thing to clear your head of twenty-first century stress.

About Stary Olsa:

Belarusian band Stary Olsa occupies a unique position at the intersections where past meets present, tradition mingles with innovation, and contemporary creative expression has demanded the cultivation of skills that date back to the Middle Ages and Renaissance. Much like their namesake (a wandering brook in the Mahilou region), Stary Olsa's path has been full of twists and turns, and is inextricably linked to the traditional culture, history and music of Belarus and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.

The band has recorded twelve albums of traditional Belarusian ballads, martial songs, and canticles in addition to popular European songs from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Their most current album Medieval Classic Rock, is the result of YouTube postings of informal rehearsal videos in which band members played their favorite rock tunes.

As they kick off their second tour of the states, Stary Olsa's aim is to not only introduce U.S. audiences to the beauty of the Belarusian culture and the richness of its age-old musical traditions, but also show how much it has in common with modern rock classics as they bring living history to the stage!

You can learn more about the band and view performances at their website.

I know Tuesday is a hard time to add something in to your schedule, but this is going to be fun and well worth your time. How often to you get to venture outside "the Bubble" without driving miles out of your way?

When the concert is over, you'll feel refreshed, and you'll return to all of the conveniences of modern day living with an extra spring in your step.