Sunday, August 18, 2019

Choose Your Spot

Just in time for back to school, the meme of the moment takes us back to the school lunchroom. You’ve seen it, haven’t you? 

One is presented with an array of choices, perhaps personality types, musical preferences, literary genres, and so on, and asked:

Where are you sitting?

It uses a familiar scenario to  ask you to place yourself according to some set of likes and dislikes. It’s  a fun little intellectual construct. No deep thought here.

Yesterday I allowed myself to get drawn in to an online discussion about redistricting in the Howard County Public Schools and suddenly this meme came to mind. The lunchroom is Howard County. Lunch equals getting an education. And each table represents a point of view about redistricting. We have a choice where we decide to sit.

Where would you be? Some suggestions:

1. Do what you want, just don’t change my situation.
2. Wait until the next High School is opened.
3. “Those Kids” will bring test scores down.
4. I bought my school with my house.
5. Redistrict with an eye to equity/inclusion.
6. My school is overcrowded but I want to stay.
7. My school is under-enrolled and I’m fine with that.
8. Elkridge must have a high school.
9. Longer bus rides are the work of the Devil.
10. Any redistricting should improve feeds.

Oh. I’m out of tables. 

So, where will you sit? Do you fit in anywhere? Do you have loyalties to more than one table? Would you rather avoid it all and just eat lunch in the choir room?

It is to be expected that members of our community will have differences of opinion. Nonetheless, redistricting must occur and the experience has been made far more difficult by previous school boards and superintendents who looked at the potential controversies and decided to punt. We are so far beyond our ability to kick the can any further down the road, in my opinion. 

Two things that would help in getting us through this difficult process:

1. Refrain from ascribing evil intent to those who disagree with you.
2. Commit to support the process and its results. 

By acknowledging that the big picture should include a sense of serving the greater good, and not just the people at our own little lunch table, we show ourselves to be acting in good faith as citizens of our county. It is fine to participate and advocate. It is normal to express dissent. But a desire to “burn it all down” if one does not get one’s way is not a responsible approach to something which will affect everyone’s children.

We are adults, after all. These lunch table memes are an entertaining diversion but maybe we need to take a step backwards and remember that our job is to make sure that everyone has a seat, everyone is included, and everyone gets lunch.  

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