On Tuesday I wrote about "Where We Are" in Howard County when it comes to addressing issues of racial justice. On Wednesday I woke up to the churnings of the HCPSS PR machine pushing out Tweets about something called #HoCoVoice , involving teachers and students. I was surprised.
Why? Well, I follow the school system pretty closely as both a parent and a blogger, and I had no idea this was in the works. I re-checked all the HCPSS News emails from June 1st onward. June 1, 8, 15, 16, 22, 29th: nothing. You would think that if the school system were putting on a major event on diversity and inclusion that they'd want to tell people about it. Especially since it was clear that student participation was key to the success of the event.
These words from John White suggested a reason this event was kept under wraps:
Howard County superintendent Renee Foose announces new “Student Voice for Inclusion & Equity” model today at cultural proficiency conference."
Let's face it, the announcement by the Superintendent of anything that contains the word "model" does not exactly inspire confidence. Specifically, the announcement of a major initiative on diversity and inclusion made without community outreach and collaboration defies good sense. Although, to be honest, it is what we have come to expect.
The good news here is that the event itself appears to be more of the excellent work of John Krownapple and his colleagues in the Cultural Proficiency office. I have heard nothing but good things about his work from teachers, parents, and students. I was also extremely encouraged to hear that Sara and Lina, the Mount Hebron High School students of #StoptheSilenceStartaConversation #HoCoStudentWalkOut were invited to participate and will be on a panel today. All indications are that this is wonderful, valuable work.
But I can't get over that parents were kept completely in the dark about this, especially since this is such a hot issue right now in our community. An indication of what the priorities were: the media were invited to this in advance; the public found out after it was already happening.
And one more thing. It's my opinion that, if students are intended to be involved as participants, then notification of parent community as a whole should be a given. Where did these students come from? They were hand-picked by administrators.
That doesn't sound very inclusive. Or diverse.
I want to emphasize how much I value this work and the students and teachers who are participating. But the overall message to the community is of another failed opportunity to communicate and collaborate. Yet again there's no room for stakeholders at the table. Parents are viewed as merely consumers of a social media message. It shows a profound lack of respect.
How can we make progress on issues that are so entrenched and complex if the school system's own initiative is predicated upon exclusion? As I said before, it defies good sense.