Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Fear of Loss

The cacophony surrounding school redistricting is becoming almost overwhelming. We are challenged by the first major redistricting in some time, plus a look at APFO which brings up unresolved issues of how we can best handle development in our county.

We have interested and curious voices, concerned and angry voices, fearful voices. We have a multitude of Facebook groups, each targeting a particular piece of the overall puzzle. Whatever this is, it is not OneHoward. It is lots of little splinter groups whose own individual causes have grown so huge that a bigger picture is no longer visible.

"MyHoward!" "No, MyHoward!"

This is not to say that their concerns are not legitimate. Community members have every right to be involved in the process and their voices and experiences should be taken into account. But yesterday I read an exchange between parents on Facebook that rocked me. The thread centered on the assertion  that now was the wrong time to major redistricting, that we should wait until the new highschool comes online. A few voices from Howard High School pushed back: We can't wait to address this overcrowding. Children are suffering.

And then, this:

I don't believe your children are suffering.

Wait, what?

Have we become so fearful of what lies ahead that we are willing to deny the experiences of other parents? Other children?

I am glad that Howard County parents want to be informed, educated, and involved. But in our zeal to protect our children and our neighborhoods we should not become so self-righteous that we lose our humanity and common decency. In addition, in the grand theater of matching t-shirts and coordinated testimony, there are always going to be those whose circumstances don't permit those luxuries. Does that mean their voices don't count? Does it mean their children have fewer needs?

How do we turn our fear of loss into a more open-hearted goal of creating a better educational experience for all of our children? I don't know. Fear is an extremely powerful motivator. It motivates more people to turn out at public meetings than love.

My friend and former colleague at hcpss, Bonnie Bricker, has written a wonderful book called Zoom Out Parenting: The Big Picture Approach to Raising Children. I'm thinking we need a sequel: Zoom Out Redistricting: The Big Picture Approach to Compassionate Advocacy.

I thought a lot about this Facebook conversation yesterday. Later I decided to go back and make a plea for kindness. The entire thread had been deleted. I'm hoping that means the moderator found it as troubling as I did.

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