Monday, February 18, 2019

Spicy Sunday

I should’ve taken more pictures. Well, if I had gone with the intent of writing about it, I probably would have. But my motivation for attending the Clarksville Commons Great Chili Cookoff was to support the charity, Grassroots, and to support the folks at Clarksville Commons. They are working really hard to be a community hub and I like that.

Anyway, here’s my artsy photographic pastiche of the event:

First off, the event was held in the Porch Room of Food Plenty, which is the Farm to Table/local foods restaurant located upstairs at Clarksville Commons. I had never been there so I enjoyed getting a chance to explore the space. I don’t have a lot of adjectives at my disposal right now to describe it but how about: fresh, calming, simple.

Now for the chili. Five of the merchants from the Common Kitchen participated: Great Harvest Bread, Koshary, Namaste Foodie, Scoop & Paddle, and Trifecto. The sixth entrant was event host Food Plenty. My tasting experience was enhanced by the fact that I just happened to be sitting at a table alongside celebrity chili judges Tonya Kennon of the Howard County Library System, and Timothy Banks, Chair of the Culinary and Hospitality Department at Howard Community College. I did not get to meet Ms. Kennon’s lovely dining companion but I can tell you she was rocking an impressive hair bow.

My personal favorite was the lentil chili from Koshary. A close second was the Italian Firehouse Chili by Nadine Crisitello of Scoop & Paddle. (Did you know she used to be a personal chef?) The Food Plenty chili was quite fancy with numerous components, different flavor notes and textures. All of the chilis were very tasty and came with special toppings to enhance your tasting pleasure. The Indian-influenced “chili” from Namaste Foodie came with its own adorable individual-sized naan bread. Nice touch.

The Duckpin pale ale from Union Brewing Company which I picked up at the bar (along with a large glass of iced water) got me through my spicy samplings.

I saw later that the Scoop & Paddle Chili was awarded Best Overall by the judges, and also as the People’s Choice by those in attendance. Namaste Foodie won for Most Unique. (It was that cute little naan bread, I tell you.)

If you are wondering why there’s a picture of ice cream in my collage, that’s because I made a bee-line to the Scoop & Paddle stand downstairs at the Common Kitchen to cool off my mouth with some Chocolate Covered Strawberry. A thought: their smallest portion is really too big for me. I wonder if they have a Kid Size that’s available to anyone. I’d be willing to pay more than half price for a half- sized serving,

A special treat for me at the event was getting to have a few words with Clarksville Commons developer George Stone, and Anastasia MacDonald, Director of Community Relations for Clarksville Commons. They’re both such welcoming people. (A good sign for a place that wants to connect with its local community in more than the usual ways.)

If this post has put you in the mood for 1) community involvement 2) charitable giving or 3) chili, I’d like to invite you to the Great Chili Cookoff at Abiding Savior Lutheran Church. It’s on Saturday, March 2nd and the proceeds will benefit Bridges to Housing Stability. You probably won’t get fancy toppings and I know you won’t be able to buy a beer, but the chili is always great and the Lutherans are welcoming and full of fun.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Human, Civil, Literate

This week County Executive Calvin Ball signed an Executive Order to create an Office of Human Rights Review Committee. 

One of the recommendations made from my Transition Team is to thoroughly review the operation of the Office of Human Rights and review the existing investigation process. OHR is responsible for administering and enforcing provisions of the Howard County Human Rights Law, investigate complaints and attempts to eliminate violations by conference, conciliation, and persuasion. 

Therefore, I signed an Executive Order this morning creating an Office of Human Rights Review Committee. This is an opportunity to identify ways we can strengthen the office, so it becomes the gold standard for all local Civil Rights Agencies. 

The usual naysayers that congregate on the County Executive’s  Facebook page had a field day with that.. The responses seems equally divided between:

1. Anything Calvin Ball does must be bad, so let me condemn this.

2. omg he used the term Civil Rights.

This sentence in particular seemed to be the stumbling block:

This is an opportunity to identify ways we can strengthen the office, so it becomes the gold standard for all local Civil Rights Agencies. 

It is clear to me from reading the comments that many folks read this entire statement and came out thinking that  the County Executive is changing the Office of Human Rights to the Office Of Civil Rights.

I am disheartened that reading comprehension is so poor in Howard County. No such change has been made. A review committee has been appointed to examine the Office Of Human Rights and see if and how we can make it better. That’s it.

I am also disheartened by the immediate jump that some people have taken that, once you see the term “Civil Rights”, it means someone is talking about African Americans and racism. Typical responses go something like this:

1. Racism is a problem that doesn’t exist in Howard County. Therefore any focus on it is a waste of resources. (From a white person.)
2.  Human Rights are for everyone and Civil Rights are just for Black people so this move is exclusionary.

Aside from the fact that the Executive Order has nothing to do with this, perhaps a bit of Googling is in order here. 

Civil rights, guarantees of equal social opportunities and equal protection under the law, regardless of race, religion, or other personal characteristics.

Unlike other rights concepts, such as human rights or natural 
rights, in which people acquire rights inherently, perhaps from God or nature, civil rights must be given and guaranteed by the power of the state.

Human rights, rights that belong to an individual or group of individuals simply for being human, or as a consequence of inherent human vulnerability, or because they are requisite to the possibility of a just society. 


Here is where it gets interesting. In Maryland the state and county agencies are called Human Rights agencies, but they are partner agencies of the EEOC to enforce civil rights. At the Federal level they are called Civil Rights offices.  So, no matter what our friends the commenters think, in Maryland the two terms mean the same thing. 

I’m not quite sure how to respond to people who are angry about something the County Executive said that he didn’t actually say, something he did that he didn’t actually do, compounded by not understanding the definitions of human rights and civil rights. I mean, where do you start? 

Do me a favor. If you hear any of this sort of talk around the proverbial water cooler, set folks straight, won’t you? 

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Minors Go Major, Part II

As promised, I’m returning to the subject of teens and voting. I got some thought-provoking feedback after “Minors Go Major?” last week.

More than one respondent pointed to the activism of young people following the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkand, Florida. It is certainly true that we saw teens motivated, educated, active, and involved in the election process over the last year. Some pointed out that many folks over the age of 18 are woefully uninformed about candidates and issues yet we do not use this as a reason to prevent them from voting.

Everyone agreed that America could do a much better job educating children, teens, and adults about the political process, how our government works, and a citizen’s  responsibility to vote.

Several people tactfully pointed out that the areas of concern I raised about sixteen year olds voting have been used in the past a barriers for the right to vote for the disabled, African Americans, and women. That certainly gives me pause.

Let’s look at some of the age demarcations that bestow certain rights and/or responsibilities.

16, 17: Get married with parental consent
17: Join military with parental consent
18: Marry without parental consent
      Join military without parental consent
21: Purchase, consume alcohol

Now it’s getting sticky for me. I have been following Delegate Vanessa Atterbeary’s work to make child marriage illegal in the State of Maryland. There are many reasons why marrying under the age of 18 is problematic, especially for young women.  But...

If we say a young woman of 16 is not able to freely consent to get married, then must we also say that she is not able to make her own decision about birth control and whether or not to terminate a pregnancy? You may say that those two are not comparable, but it’s that tricky concept of capability and consent. How old is old enough? Who gets to be empowered? Who is protected?

And why do we make the decisions we do about who gets to be empowered or protected? It’s complicated.

And you thought we were talking about sixteen year olds getting to vote.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Not Fully Cooked

I seem to have a lot of things on the back burner right now. Maybe they’ll all come to fruition over the weekend.
  • A follow-up to my post about teens getting the vote  
  • An introduction to Free State Justice
  •  Can competition lower gas prices in Columbia?
  •  Is a bag tax the end of the world in Howard County? 
  •  Everyone I know is in the news. What’s up with that?
If you’d like to read something more coherent today I recommend this Valentine’s Day post by HoCoBlogger Mike in ThrewMikesEyEz.

A Thinking Thursday

Lots to think about and his photos always make me smile.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

On the Sunny Side


From the Howard County Times:

The weather pattern that brought snow and ice across Maryland this week is forecast to resume this weekend, bringing light snow and likely some slush around the region.

Me: Why don’t we talk about Summer Reading?

I asked Christie Lassen from the Howard County Library about the annual summer reading program.

Summer Reading helps stop "summer slide," the tendency for students, especially those from low-income families, to lose some of the achievement gains they made during the previous school year. Howard County Library System's free summer reading program encourages kids, teens, and adults to read over the summer by offering prizes for reading any types of materials (e.g., books, magazines, news articles) and/or completing various types of activities. 

This year's theme relates to space (an especially great tie-in to this year's Evening in the Stacks Otherworldly theme), and our staff is planning a fun and educational space-related line up of classes and events throughout the summer. Watch later in the spring for news about the summer reading kickoff on June 1.

As I recall there’s a grownup component as well. Why should kids have all the fun?

Right now seems like a good time to imagine warm weather, trips to the pool, hearing the sound of the ice cream truck, and delving into a pile of great books. 

Want to support Summer Reading? Buy tickets to Evening in the Stacks, buy raffle tickets, or join the Library’s Friends organization. Plus, if you join the Friends and make a donation before February 15th, you’ll be entered to win two tickets to Evening in the Stacks!

More Winter weather may be on the way but we can still think Summer if we want to. 

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Officially Done

It looks like the Maryland General Assembly just may return the control of school calendars to local jurisdictions. I am in favor of this move, to put it mildly. I will not go over my reasoning point by point today. We’ve been there, and done that.

There is just one thing. (Cue Columbo in the doorway.) The biggest reason I have seen for starting school after Labor Day is “We did it that way when I was young.” I have now officially reached my limit with that argument.

Here, for your edification, are a random assortment of things that “we did when I was young.”

  • Girls were required to wear skirts or dresses to school regardless of the weather.
  • Airplanes caused “sonic booms” over residential areas.
  • Women smoked cigarettes and drank alcohol while pregnant.
  • Women could get fired for being pregnant.
  • One could be fired/arrested for being gay.
  • Air pollution was widespread.
  • Women couldn’t get credit in their own names.
  • Lead paint was legal and widely used.
  • The Buddy Deane Show was segregated.
  • Fatalities from car crashes were increasing towards an all-time high.

Please, oh please do not tell me that starting school after Labor Day is the right choice because “those were the days.” Some of those days were not as sunny as they seem to be in the nostalgic haze people keep them in. Or maybe they were sunny for you, but not for others.

Did you ever think about that?

If you want to sell me on a change that will have an impact on students, parents, and teachers statewide then tell me this: how does this change enhance student learning and well-being? How does it show understanding of parent/family needs? How does it support teachers as they strive to do their best for their students?

Your childhood and mine, for that matter, aren’t all that relevant here. It’s 2019 and we need to be making 21st century choices that put today’s children at the center.

Rant over. And tomorrow’s post will be cheerier, I promise. 

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Let’s Talk about BoB

As promised, here’s some info on where that money from Evening in the Stacks is heading every year. I asked Christie Lassen, Director of Communications and Partnerships, to point me in the right direction on this. Here’s what she said about Battle of the Books:

Proceeds from Evening in the Stacks benefit educational initiatives such as Battle of the Books, an academic competition for fifth graders who read 13 assigned books then answer questions about them. More than 300 teams (1500 students - or about one-third of Howard County fifth graders) will compete in April at this event, which has become a rite of passage. It's grown so much that it now takes place simultaneously at six high school gyms. To give everyone an even starting point, we provide each team with a set of books -- something we are able to do thanks to generous support from our community.

A piece of Battle of the Books trivia for you: Sara Toth, former education reporter for the Howard County Times, loved covering this event so much that,when she moved on to work for the Chatauqua Institution, she started one in her new community. Pretty cool. I got to know the excitement of HCLSBOB through reading Ms.Toth’s live-tweeting coverage each year. It was easy to see that the enthusiasm of the participants was contagious.

The Howard County Library System is well known for fostering community partnerships. Battle of the Books is an event which fosters a love of reading, sure, but it is a lot more than that. There’s team spirit, wacky costumes, local “celebrities” pitching in to help, and an enormous sense of community. It’s a prime example of how libraries are far more than just checking out books. 

So, whether you buy tickets to Evening in the Stacks, or try your luck by purchasing raffle tickets, here’s a good example of where your money is going. Big or small, it’s an investment worth making.

Monday, February 11, 2019


My beloved father-in-law, Sam McCready, slipped away from us late last night. In his last days his son Richard played music for him and his wife Joan read to him the poetry of William Butler Yeats. He was surrounded by family. We held his hand, we embraced him, we offered up the kinds of prayers and love and good thoughts that open the way for a safe journey.

He was a storyteller, as I have said, but he was also an actor. And for him this little theatre that is my blog will remain dark today in his memory.

Sunday, February 10, 2019


I tried something new this week. I needed some books for my classroom so I went online and ordered them. Half of them came by the next day! The rest, the day after that. It was amazing.

No, I’m not talking about Amazon Prime. I’m talking about the Howard County Library. I needed some children’s books to supplement my science unit on animal patterns. I sat in my comfy chair at home, went through the online catalog, made a list of what I wanted, and then clicked “Request”. The folks at the library did the rest.

Think Amazon Prime, think Instacart, think absolute convenience, but think something else: absolutely free. My students are going to love these books and the Howard County Library made it as easy as possible for me to bring them into my classroom.

While I was at the East Columbia Branch picking up my books, I bought a raffle ticket for this year’s Evening in the Stacks fundraiser. It was the least I could do, after benefiting from all that Library goodness.

The theme of this year’s even is “An Otherworldly Evening in the Stacks”. It will be held at my favorite branch, the East Columbia Branch, on Saturday, February 23rd from seven to eleven pm. You can learn more here Tickets to the event itself are available here

I’ve written about this event in the past. In general I’m not attracted to “charity ball” sorts of things but this is different. It’s for books! Books are cool. What can I say. The themes are always cool and I’m a library geek.

My readers may not all be able to spring for a $150.00 event ticket. But you can stop by your local branch and buy a five dollar raffle ticket to support the cause. Each branch has a special prize basket they’ll be awarding to a lucky winner. And if you really, really want to be a part of this otherworldly  event, you can try your luck by entering the Friends of the Howard County Library contest . (Ooh! I recently rejoined the Friends. Maybe I’m eligible.)

This year, at the suggestion of a reader, I’m going to focus less on the fancy event itself and more on the amazing library programs that this event supports:

  • Author Events
  • Battle of the Books
  • Project Literacy
  • Summer Reading

So, along with my regular blog posts,  I’ll be taking some time every day this week to highlight these library programs and how they contribute to our community.

See you tomorrow.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

That Old Time Religion

I didn’t grow up in a church. The hymnody of my youth was a combination of Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals and the songs of the Beatles. When I got to high school, the songs of the early Beatles were having a resurgence. I bought a newly released collection of their music and played through the volume on my trusty Yamaha guitar.

For me, every situation probably has a corresponding Beatles song. Your own particular generational allegiance will, of course, vary.

When I saw a “Beatles love songs” event advertised at the Soundry, I immediately asked my husband if he wanted to go. He was noncommittal. I was sad. For about two seconds. Then I bought two tickets anyway. A while later I told him that I had bought two tickets and, if he wanted to come, great. If not, I’d take someone else.

Worked like a charm.

Last night at ten to seven we were part of a very healthy line waiting to get into the Soundry. I snapped photos of the Lakefront at night. My husband noted the age of the crowd - - people nearby were discussing knee replacement surgery. All around us people were chatting about different concerts they’d been to, different venues. My husband and I haven’t done a lot of this together. With our empty nest in the offing, perhaps we will.

The show was great. The players were on the older side. They knew their stuff, they had fun, they didn’t take themselves too seriously. There was a great sense of camaraderie. There were a few musically questionable moments but, really, those are the kind of things that happen in live performance. Hearing this music live was thrilling for me. Some of the tempi seemed slow. Of course, everything gets slower as you age. Perhaps even old man cover bands slow down a bit.

The food and drinks and service at the Soundry were again top notch. They handled the sold out crowd with grace. There’s something so quintessentially Columbia to walk out of the elegantly styled Soundry space and find yourself traversing the long walk through the Tiger Hallway to the bathroom. If there is a Guinness World Record for the most inexplicably long walk to the rest rooms, Clyde’s/The Soundry has it won in a heartbeat.

If there is such a thing as a church of the Beatles I was there last night. I tapped my foot, I clapped, I sang, I mouthed the words, I danced in my seat. I remembered how we used to pretend play guitars in Kindergarten and sing “She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah...”

Beatles not your thing? I hear they’re hosting an 80’s Dance Party in the spring.

Friday, February 8, 2019

Minors Go Major?

I’m way behind in listening to my favorite local podcast, “Elevate Maryland”. I’m only about a third of the way in to the episode featuring my new Council representative Opel Jones. And there’s still this week’s episode with Council member Christiana Rigby to delve into. Ah, weekend. I intend to do some catching up in the listening department.

An issue that Jones raised that surprised me was a goal to lower the voting age to 16. He cited the interest and activism of local teens in his reasoning to change the law. Maybe I’m just an old fogey, but I don’t agree. I think sixteen year olds are still in a position to be so heavily influenced by their parents vote as to compromise the independence of their choices.

When we think about how minors are in a position to be abused by those in a greater position of power, it is the difference in age and status that puts the young person at risk. I’m inclined to believe that this puts a teen voter at risk, as well. Does granting sixteen year olds the vote essentially give their parents/guardians an additional vote? Perhaps not always. But, in many cases, I think it would.

Of course I believe that teens have their own ideas and are capable of doing research and getting involved in the political process. I’d love to see Council Member Jones push for expanded civics education in our schools from middle school onwards. There’s a good deal more we could be doing to prepare our young people to be involved and educated voters. Honoring them by making voter education a priority would have a more comprehensive long term effect than granting teens the vote.

What do you think?

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Don’t Snooze on This One

I just want to sleep. My alarm went off at five am, as it always does, and I just want to sleep. I’m already pausing between sentences to close my eyes. “I don’t really have to write,” that little voice inside my head tells me. I could take a day off. I could run an old post. My eyes close again.

What’s on my mind this morning? This:

On January 31st, five members of Start School Later Howard County testified at the Budget Hearing to ask for the necessary transportation money to ensure healthy, safe, and age-appropriate school hours for ALL Howard County Students.

If the BOE doesn't ask for transportation money, neither the County executive, nor the County Council can fund improving school hours.  Please email the board at BOE@HCPSS.ORG to add your voice to the discussion.

 If you agree that our students deserve safe and humane school hours, you can write them and urge them to include funding for the necessary transportation in their budget.

From Start School Later Howard County:

The public is able to submit written testimony until 4:30 p.m. on Friday, February 8, 2019, at BOE@HCPSS.ORG. 

I wrote about this two years ago in “Minutiae”.

Early school start times and the resulting sleep deprivation are linked to chronic tardiness, discipline problems, more motor vehicle crashes, obesity, depression, illicit drug use, lower academic outcomes, and a lower over-all quality of life. Study after study shows that no one should be starting school before 8:00, and that most teens do better with an 8:30 start time. 

We say we would do anything for our kids. We love them. But then we wonder if getting up at an ungodly hour is just one of the rite-of-passage things we need to let them go through.

The science on this issue is clear. We need to align our priorities with the needs of our kids. If you agree, send the BOE a note. 

And now I’m going to close my eyes for two  minutes before I I have to wake my family.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

What I Did Last Night

I don’t always write blog posts. Sometimes I write letters. This one went out last night to all the members of the Howard County Delegation.

Subject: Support the Arts and Vote Yes on Bond Bill 05-19

My name is Julia McCready and I live in Columbia, Maryland in District 13.  I am asking you to support Howard County Bond Request 05-19 for $250,000 towards the Butterfly Guest Services Building and Visual Arts Museum.  I support the Inner Arbor Trust developing Merriweather Park at Symphony Woods into a center for arts and culture.

I have advocated for Merriweather Park at Symphony Woods since the beginning of the Inner Arbor Plan. I have written letters, blog posts, and appeared at public meetings over and over again to support the creation of an arts and culture park in the heart of Columbia/Howard County. I have attended a variety of events in the Park, and I volunteer my time in the summer to present dance parties for young children on the Chrysalis Stage. I’m a parent, a teacher, a community activist, and a supporter of the arts. 

People should not have to leave town to experience the arts. We have a responsibility to our community to fulfill the Inner Arbor’s promise as an arts park for all our citizens. Some, like the medically fragile young girl who came out to dance accompanied by her service dog, and the special needs adult in a wheelchair with her companion, may not always be welcomed or accommodated in traditional arts environments. But they were more than welcome to be themselves in the Park this past summer.

Merriweather Park at Symphony Woods is more than the Chrysalis.  The Trust has raised money for and is building a pathway network, and is working on the Butterfly Building  - with much-needed bathrooms as well as visual arts space.  Howard County deserves this type of amenity and regional attraction. Supporting this bond request supports the arts, but it also supports businesses in Downtown Columbia as the Park is an attraction to keep people coming to Downtown Columbia.

Please vote yes for this $250,000 bond bill to help the Trust continue to bring arts to Downtown Columbia.


I hear that the vote will be this morning. I’m hoping for the best for our community. Think some good thoughts, won’t you?

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

A Crucial Nutrient

It’s no secret that February is Black History Month. This year the Howard County Schools have the opportunity to implement a new way to celebrate, in conjunction with Howard County Black Lives Matter in Our Schools . Since this is a new initiative, I thought I’d share more information with my readers.

Black Lives Matter at School  - - information from the national organization.

Here is what is happening here in Howard County:

An aside about the phrase “Black Lives Matter”. Some people feel compelled to read it as “Other people’s lives don’t matter.” I’d like to point out that February is National Heart Month but I don’t see anyone protesting on behalf of other organs being slighted or left out. 

As a parent and a teacher, I feel it is my responsibility to look at what we are teaching our children and think about how it could be better. Is there anything important that’s missing? Are there good things that should be increased? Are there less than useful things we should reduce or eliminate? It is in that same way that we need to look at the long years of inequity in our schools and strive to make improvements, not only for the purpose of boosting Black students, but also to help make all our students aware of a complete and accurate history of our nation and how we all fit into it.

If we as a culture became aware of a crucial nutrient that would make our children healthier, do better in school, and improve their longevity, we would look for ways to make sure it was in the food they were eating. We would want to make sure that foods which contained that nutrient were served as a part of the school lunch program. 

Would this mean that other foods didn’t matter?

Our schools have long been deficient in telling the stories of non-white cultures, and our systems have been deficient in treating non-white students with the same respect as whites. Black Lives Matter at School Week is a taste of what we need to do to enrich our classrooms with the knowledge and learning activities that have been missing from our schools. Everyone needs it. 

Knowledge. That’s what school is all about. So is learning to interact with all kinds of people. The late Maya Angelou said, 

Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.

It’s a simple and eloquent mission that I believe in.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Hometown Sweethearts

It’s all over the news. They even made a reference to it in “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me” the NPR news quiz . Valentine’s Day won’t be the same this year because there won’t be any Necco Conversation Hearts.

Say it ain’t so!

Necco went out of business last year and the company that intends to resurrect the product won’t be up and running until next year. It’s that simple. No “Oh You Kid”, no “Hot Stuff”, no “#cute for this year’s Valentine celebrations. Sigh.

And yet. This photo* from the Ellicott City Partnership caught my eye.

By some magic that only the folks at the Howard County Welcome Center possess, there are Old Ellicott City Conversation Hearts this Year! From their promotional announcement:

OEC loves you 

Our OEC themed conversation hearts will be available at the Howard County Welcome Center throughout February!

Stop in and show your receipt of $25 or more at a local business to get some!

If those cement-like sweets are not quite your thing, The Ellicott City Partnership has something for you, too. Cupcakes. Three thousand of them, from Kupcakes & Company.

The Great Cupcake Giveaway - 3,000 Reasons to love OEC!

Tell us why you #LOVEOEC and go and get your free cupcake from one these local businesses:

Be essential
Jaxon Edwin
Miss FIT
Su Casa
Sweet Elizabeth Jane

It’s more than sugary sweets on Main Street. The merchants in Old Ellicott City have events planned all month long. Learn more here about “Shop, Dine, & Be Mine.” Even if romance isn’t on your mind, there’s plenty of ways to treat yourself or have fun with family and friends. 

I’m not offering any prizes, but feel free to come over to the comments on Facebook to tell me why you love Old Ellicott City.

*photos from Ellicott City Partnership

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Ms. M. Demands

It was only a week or so ago that I responded to hateful speech about LGBTQ students with these words:

Stop peddling your poison to the masses.

Last night I was heartsick to see that, instead of any move to cease and desist, former BOE candidate Mavourene Robinson is taking her poisonous views and trying to go viral. She has started a petition.

Demands: Please immediately stop the expansion of this agenda in Elementary and Middle schools.  Please immediately implement policy and standards requiring public review of all curriculum, videos & programs that include LGBTQ, and requiring parental signature of approval at the Elementary, Middle and High School levels BEFORE children are exposed to LGBTQ curriculum. 

If you hesitate, this additional pop-up appears to exhort you to sign:

There is no LGBTQ indoctrination in our schools. This entire petition is based on a lie. Ms. Robinson continues to put forward the false premise that respecting the civil rights of LGBTQ students is somehow sexual in nature and something that parents can “demand” to shield their children from. 

We all see the ridiculousness of a petition seeking to control and/or prevent any curriculum materials about racial integration. “I don’t want my child exposed to interracial marriage. That doesn’t belong in school!”

This is more of the same. Public school are for all children and for all families. Ms. Robinson’s petition seeks to make life harder for an already dangerously vulnerable student population. Even learning that there is such a petition circulating is hurtful to LGBTQ students and parents. Imagine if someone were circulating a petition, the sole purpose of which was to deny your basic rights to be seen and accepted as a student at school.

I don’t ordinarily tell my readers what to do. Today I’m going to come close. If you find this petition as hateful and unacceptable as I do, click on this link to view the petition, DO NOT CLICK THE RED BUTTON. Scroll to the bottom where you see these words: report a policy violation.

Click on the link and report this petition for hate speech. Don’t worry that clicking on the petition link itself will automatically cause you to sign it. You may see your name/image appear but you have to actually click the big red “sign this petition” button to make that happen.

Schools must be a hate-free zone. Right now we know that LBTQ students are more likely to drop out, try to harm themselves, or die by suicide. This is a crisis we should be responding to with more supports, more positive intervention. And much, much more acceptance.

I would love to see Howard County responding to these “demands” by shutting them down. 

Saturday, February 2, 2019

The Big Swim

I’m having a little pity party over here because I have to go in to work today. I love my job and I love my coworkers but maybe I love Saturdays more. Ah, well. All independent schools have admissions-related events and it’s just a part of life.

I had a chuckle when I saw the following in this week’s letters to the editor in the Columbia Flier.

I think we can all agree that Elkridge may be justified in feeling that they are the part of Howard County that “just can’t get no respect”. However, may I suggest that playing the “Rouse rolling over in his grave” card may only be played by Columbians? Just a thought. Also, perhaps we need to hire someone to keep an eye on Mr. Rouse’s grave since there is reportedly so much activity there.

Oh, and I think it would be a great public relations move for MPP to invite the citizens of Elkridge to use their swimming pool. They’d need to bring their own towels. They’d also need to bring a whole lot of patience becaus the Merriweather pool is an amenity built for traveling artists and its swimming capacity is quite small. It’s hardly a community pool.

Now that I think about it, wouldn’t it be cool to have Merriweather Post Pavilion and Pool? Imagine taking a cool dip in the middle of one of those scorchingly hot summer concerts. It could be an add-on at the point of purchase, so they could keep a handle on capacity. I’d recommend no alcohol/pool mixing, but maybe that’s just me and my teacher safety concerns kicking in.

So maybe Merriweather should build a pool. And let Elkridge use it, of course.

Or maybe I should get dressed and go to work because this has gotten ridiculously silly.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Lay Down the Blindness

On the eve of Black History Month, a community member wrote this on the County Executive’s Facebook page:

Why does everything have to be about race??  Why can’t we just love one another and stop seeing a skin color.

This concept, that it is the right thing to do to be “colorblind”, is actually not at all about loving one another. It appears to be a high hurdle that some folks just cannot get over. At the risk of preaching to people who are already keenly aware of this, I’m going to say a few words on this today.

Here’s a crazy little intellectual construct. What if people just stopped seeing a white person’s color and treated them as though the default setting were African American? Think of how African Americans are treated in our culture. Try some of that on for size:

Assumed to be less intelligent, uneducated, dangerously angry, untrustworthy in stores, less deserving of respect, looking for a handout, sexually promiscuous, of a criminal nature, lazy, likely to use drugs. (To name a few.)

Our hypothetical white person, the one who “can’t see color”, would likely be horrified to be treated this way. It  would be a shock to their system.

“Why are you treating me this way? Why are you making these assumptions about me? That’s not me! Look at me, I’m not like that!”

“Why can’t we just love one another and stop seeing a skin color?” would be a mighty unhelpful response.

When we say “I don’t see color” we are saying:

I don’t see your struggle.
I don’t see your history.
I don’t see your culture.
I don’t see your suffering.
I don’t see you.

And, deep down, we are also saying, “I don’t see my complicity in perpetuating a system where I don’t have to worry about my color and you do.”

Today is the first day of Black History Month. Today I’m hoping that those of us who need to will become less blind. And those who have so often been unseen will feel more visible.