Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Guest Post: Lazy and Irresponsible

Today’s post comes from Oakland Mills resident Jonathan Edelson, responding to this article in the Howard County Times. Edelson is an eighteen year resident of Oakland Mills. His two children attend schools in the Oakland Mills cluster.


This weekend, there were three shootings across Columbia, including one that tragically led to a loss of life. These are horrible crimes for sure, but these are also crimes that had nothing to do with schools, happened on the weekend when schools aren't in session, and did not occur on school property.

Despite this, the Sun chose to bring two schools into the article about the shooting. These two schools, Swansfield and Talbott Springs, also happen to be part of clusters that get their fair share of negative press.

To me, this is lazy, irresponsible reporting that reinforces a narrative about certain schools and communities. Crimes occur within the proximity of schools regularly, yet I don't regularly see the schools mentioned. Furthermore, the reporters could not take the time to figure out the name of the complex where one of the shootings occurred, beyond the "faded yellow" description, but had the details on the nearby schools, even going so far as to describe the playground at Talbott Springs as "desolate," ignoring the facts that a) it was a Monday afternoon when kids are supposed to be in their virtual schools, b) we're in the middle of a pandemic where gathering on playgrounds is not advised, and c) Talbott Springs is a construction zone.

There is a history of biased reporting in Howard County, and much of it involves the schools. This article is the most recent example. Recent omissions are another example. For example, the student who has been featured internationally for her relationship with Ruth Bader Ginsburg is identified only as a "Columbia" or "Howard County" student, not as an Oakland Mills Middle or former Stevens Forest Elementary student, and has been overlooked by HCPSS news. The equity in action event at Talbott Springs this weekend went uncovered. The Oakland Mills Stringapalooza and Concert for Kids go uncovered year after year. I'm sure other communities whose schools have been knocked around have similar examples, but this is the community I know best.

I hope we can all come together to say enough is enough to this kind of coverage and non-coverage of schools in Howard County. There are plenty of good things happening in all of our schools, but you wouldn't know it from the way they are covered. There are plenty of unfortunate things happening near our schools, yet it seems only certain schools in certain communities get mentioned when something bad happens that has nothing to do with the school itself.

We can do better and we should demand better of those who cover our county and our schools.

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