Today is the first day of the Maryland General Assembly for 2021. There are some new faces in new places and there is plenty lined up for them to consider. Add to this the precautions that must be taken due to COVID and the national political mood and I’d say it wouldn’t be amiss to call this a session like no other, even before it starts.
It has always struck me that this isn’t particularly Governor Hogan’s favorite time of year. He seems much more comfortable operating in a world where there is no General Assembly. His style of leadership leans far more towards one man at the top rather than a collaborative approach. In fact, Hogan’s studied disinterest in state legislators has become such a thing that he doesn’t seem to know whether or not he knows Delgate Dan Cox.
I’m no expert in the world of Annapolis but it seems to me that it would be helpful for the Governor to know the duly elected representatives of his constituents.
Best wishes to everyone working during this legislative session, and that includes all the journalists working to bring us the stories we need to know to stay informed on the issues.
Moving on, I want to recommend this article by Dr. Tyler Black, an expert in child and adolescent emergency psychiatry:
In-person schooling is not a mental health panacea for children , Tyler Black, MD, The Star
This piece dated August 24th began as a thread on Twitter on July 24th. If you are intrigued by the article, by all means read the entire thread, which can be found here. There’s more to it, more specifics, and more to think about. Anyone who is engaged in evaluating the risks of in-person schooling vs. distance learning right now should read it.
It is frustrating that an expert in pediatric psychiatry has to point this out, but the more than 800,000 global deaths from COVID-19 are incredibly bad for our children’s mental health as well. Preventing further deaths from the virus may be the most trauma-informed mental health maneuver we perform, ranking far above the need to return to pre-pandemic schooling methodologies.
Marijane Monck, a lifelong teacher in Howard County, responded to this so succinctly that I’m using her words verbatim:
The problem is not that children are not in the school buildings, it's that there is a pandemic. That's where the focus needs to be. The pandemic is the cause for any stress we're feeling about any part of our lives right now, including schools. It's a distraction to continue to focus on schools rather than on the pandemic as the cause.
If we are truly going to help our children, our focus needs to be in the right place.
Speaking of someone whose focus in in the right place, I wholeheartedly recommend the most recent episode of local podcast Elevate Maryland: Teaching Through Crisis with Maryland History Teacher of the Year Matt Gresick. Hosts Tom Coale and Candace Dodson Reed give Gresick some great material to work with in their choice of topics, but they also allow him the space to make the interview his own and show the kind of connection-making and respect for students that make for a gifted teacher. The interview also confirms my belief that you cannot separate a teacher from their good teaching anecdotes.
What kind of people work with our kids in Howard County? Listen to this show and find out.
One last thing today: a correction of sorts. When I wrote on Sunday about Haven on the Lake and this year’s CA budget, I think I could have done a better job in clarifying that these are proposals, not a fait accompli. In other words, it’s not a done deal; that’s why CA (among other reasons) is holding a Virtual Town Hall to solicit input from the community. If you have opinions on this or other parts of the budget, attend the Town Hall and/or send an email to CA. The CA Board of Directors is having a work session on the budget tomorrow evening, January 14th, at 7 pm. You can learn more here.
In closing, a shoutout to Oakland Mills Community Association Board Chair Jonathan Edelson, whose remarks at last night’s meeting drew together so much of what we are going through in our community and in the nation. His words reminded me of all the good people who are willing to get involved and share their gifts to make the world around them a better place. Each one of them reaches out with what may seem like tiny threads of strength in a time when our own strength is being tested and perhaps weakened. Edelson and those like him remind us that we can be a part of that network, too.
Hang in there, folks.