Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Three Pillars

Once upon a time,so long ago that I almost can’t remember, I served on one of the transition team committees at the beginning of County Executive Calvin Ball’s administration. As a lifelong teacher in the field of early childhood, and as a local blogger who has written quite a bit about the Howard County Schools, I took my appointment to the Education committee quite seriously.

The goal of a transition report is to accurately assess the state of the relevant institutions and make recommendations as to how they could be improved. It should be truthful and also aspirational, and it should be as brief as possible. It is hard work and I would suggest that the results are never perfect, because human are never perfect. Add to that a very tight time frame plus, well, personalities.

As with most committees, the goals were lofty but the nitty-gritty of organizing information and writing a report was a challenge. We all know the old expression about a camel being the result of a committee trying to assemble a horse. I met some fascinating people. In the grand scheme of things, I was grateful to have served.

One of the concepts I took away from this experience was that education in Howard County isn’t just the school system. Our committee looked at three pillars: HCPSS, Howard Community College, and the Howard County Library system. Education in Howard County is not a K-12 endeavor. The Talk With Me initiative, under the auspices of HCPSS, addresses infants and their parents. HCC offers courses to community members well beyond the typical college age. And the library offers programs for all ages. That’s something truly positive that our community has to offer.

Our opportunities for education in Howard County begin at birth and continue for as long as you live.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this experience recently as our quarantine days have lengthened. Each one of the institutions we assessed has worked to support the community during the Covid-19 crisis. It has been a reminder to me of the discussions we had around that long conference table about mission statements, short term and long term goals. The school system, the community college, and the library system have all taken an active role in providing services to Columbia/HoCo residents.

Of course none of us on my transition team raised the topic of how these institutions would react in a pandemic. It was not at all on our minds back then. But it is clear that each contained within them the talent and expertise to respond nimbly in a time of crisis.

Over the next several days I will be highlighting what each institution has been doing in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. It’s pretty amazing. We are truly fortunate to have these resources in our community.

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