There's a move afoot to pit parents against parents within the Howard County School System. I first got a taste of this when members of the African Americans in Howard County Coalition spoke during the Public Forum portion of a Board of Education meeting in June.
Words such as "selfish", "niche groups", and "narrow minded" were used, also "a vocal minority" who are doing everything they can to undermine the success of the Model Initiative. The speakers went on to describe the Model Schools Initiative in glowing terms, while dismissing the notion that cuts to music instruction would have negative effects.
Here we go again. Parents who support arts education have so far this Spring been called rumor mongers, sneered at as "those music moms" and now they are accused of having a "me and mine attitude", apparently afraid of giving additional resources to needy children for fear of making their own slice smaller. This has got to stop.
I have a question: If you have a really great plan, why is it necessary to make others look bad in order to achieve its success?
Anyone who tries to tell you that people who oppose cuts to music and art instruction are just priviledged suburban white parents trying get luxury frills for free clearly doesn't think much of your intelligence. And, in my opinion, they don't value your kids that much, either.
How can I say this? Well, let's reframe this for just a moment.
"Parents who are protesting for pure, high quality drinking water in the schools are just priviledged suburban white parents trying to get luxury frills for free."
Wait a minute, you say. Don't my kids deserve clean drinking water? Don't all children?
Yes, I am equating arts education with clean drinking water. That's how crucial it is to our students. But you don't have to take my word for it.
President Obama has said, "The arts are central to who we are as a people, and they are central to the success of our kids. This is not an afterthought," he said. "This is not something you do because it's kind of nice to do. It is necessary for these young people to succeed that we promote the arts."
This is not something you do because it's kind of nice to do. It is necessary.
Michelle Obama has said, "The bottom line here is very clear: Arts education isn't something we add on after we've achieved other priorities, like raising test scores and getting kids into college. It's actually critical for achieving those priorities in the first place."
It's not an add-on. It's critical.
So, let's review:
1. Anyone who tells you that parents who are opposed to cutting music and art instruction don't care about you, or your children, or the achievement gap is not telling you the truth.
2. For that matter, anyone who suggests that these parents are against Vision 2018 and/or the Model Schools Initiative is not being truthful, either.
3. And more than anything else, anyone who says the cuts to music and art are a necessary sacrifice on the road to closing the achievement gap is just plain wrong, and there's plenty of data to prove it.
Howard County is known throughout the state for excellence in music, art, drama, and dance. The parents who are now being marginalized as a small faction of privileged malcontents are, in reality, people who are standing up in favor of something: the transformative power of arts education for all children.
Let me reiterate: If you have a really great plan, why is it necessary to make others look bad in order to achieve its success? A great school system draws parents together, brings out the best in families and the community: it seeks to lift us up. It is truly reprehensible to deliberately drive a wedge between groups of parents, especially along racial lines.
Manipulating public opinion in this way is unethical, and goes against what we as a community stand for. Howard County deserves better than this.