Friday, January 22, 2021

Lifting Up vs Leaving Out


Starting off with the good news: the Howard County Board of Education voted last night to approve Black Lives Matter at School Week for this year. If you wrote a letter in support, it looks as though you were heard, at least by the members who voted in favor. I’m disappointed that this was not a unanimous vote, with one member voting no and one abstaining. 

These votes send a terrible message to our Black students, staff, and families in the community: we had a chance to lift up and educate, and we didn’t take it. Frankly I can’t think of anything more damning that could be said of someone on the Board of Education.

Moving on.

Yesterday Governor Larry Hogan had a press conference about resuming in-person school instruction in which he said things that weren’t true and appeared to mandate things he doesn’t by law have the authority to mandate. You can tell who the audience was for this event by who was happy afterwards: privileged white people. People not unlike Mr. Hogan himself. This appears to be a trend with him. He is the Governor for “people like me.” His policies benefit what he sees when he looks in the mirror.

Who gets left out? Teachers, school staff, poor students and their families, Black and Brown students and their families. All are equally his constituents but his words and actions show he is not governing for them.

I’m beginning to think that the Governor has some long-lasting bad feelings from his school days. His profound disrespect for teachers is alarming. When plans to put teachers back in classrooms were at odds with the preparation needed to make it happen, and it became clear that teachers would not be able to be vaccinated in time, Hogan quipped:

If they're not going to be back in the classroom, we probably shouldn't be wasting the vaccine on them.

No one should have to prove their usefulness to Governor Hogan in order to get a vaccine. That’s just outrageous.

And then yesterday he stood at the podium and announced that it made no difference in his plans for Maryland schools whether employees had been vaccinated or not. Don’t even take that into account, he seemed to be saying. 

Maryland may be “open for business” but the door on basic human decency appears to be closed.

When the Governor of the State of Maryland stands at his podium he, like the Howard County Board of Education, has an opportunity to lift up and educate. It should be his responsibility to tell the truth about our state’s challenges and show through his words and actions his respect for educators who he should see as partners and not adversaries. To see him choose, time after time, to comfort the comfortable and allow for affliction to fall on the already afflicted is profoundly damning.

Public service should not be for those who look to serve only people like themselves. 

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