Tuesday, August 31, 2021

All Along the Line


The first day of school has come and gone. I’ll have a lot more to say about buses, probably tomorrow. Today I want to talk about the obligatory back-to-school post from the Howard County Times.

‘We’ll take things as they come’: As Howard County students return to schools in person, parents stay hopeful  Allana Haynes, Baltimore Sun

Ms. Haynes is our new education reporter. She is a 2017 graduate of Columbia University with a masters degree in journalism. We are lucky that she has cast her lot with us. We are lucky to have any local journalism at all anymore. 

But, that’s another story. For now let us just say, “Welcome, Ms. Haynes!”

About the article. The one thing that struck me almost immediately is where the parents who were interviewed are from.

  • Glenelg High School and Glenwood Middle (Cooksville)
  • Waverly Woods Elementary (Ellicott City)
  • Chapelgate Christian School, Kennedy Krieger Baltimore (Mount Airy)
If you look at a map of Howard County, those three locations run in almost a direct line across the top of the picture: Mount Airy, Cooksville, Ellicott City.

Credit: Google Maps

It made me wonder how the article might be different if we had heard from parents from Columbia, Elkridge, or Savage. Perhaps it wouldn’t be. Perhaps in a pandemic parents are the same all over. But it made me realize that I have finally lived here long enough to become sensitive to the differences in communities throughout the county. 

There are differences in life experience. There are differences in world view. And when I read a story about going back to school I’m curious about how that influences people’s attitudes and expectations. 

But when I first arrived in Columbia/HoCo in 1999, I wouldn’t have been aware of any of that. Most people wouldn’t be. To the outside world we are “Howard County” and people who don’t know us all that well make assumptions based on whatever information they have available. On the inside, we know that Clarksville is not the same as Oakland Mills, or that Glenelg is distinctly different from Maple Lawn or Guilford.

It’s funny how that is.

Truly local journalism - - where people are able to make a decent wage, staying with and learning about one community over time - - it doesn’t exist here anymore. Because of that, these are the kind of nuances that are missed. It’s unavoidable. This is not a criticism of our local reporters. They did not create this situation and they are doing the best they can.

At any rate, I’m not going to get the article in the newspaper that I want, but, I’m still curious. If you live in places other than Mount Airy, Cooksville, or Ellicott City, how do you feel about going back to school?

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