In a local Facebook group that I tend to think of as the Angry Parents Page (not their real name) there’s been a huge to-do around a short video clip of Board of Education candidate Jacky McCoy. What did she say that has made these folks so angry?
She used the word “sacrifice”.
The array of indignation, insults, accusations and outright vitriol are alarming. Why? Because a Black woman - - a retired teacher who has spent her career in the field of education - - used the word “sacrifice”
I watched the video. You should, too. It’s one minute and forty-eight seconds long.
Candidate Jacky McCoy on redistricting at League of Women Voters event
There’s nothing remotely scary here. McCoy addresses the issue in a calm and thoughtful way, showing that she understands the big picture of how we got to where we are today. She’s absolutely correct that it would take comprehensive redistricting to fix the mess that we are in. And, again, she’s completely honest that we’d all have to work together to make that happen.
The community would have to be committed to work together for the good of every child, not just their own children. Parents would need to see how they were a part of a bigger picture to make school catchment areas make more sense county-wide. What McCoy is doing here is an appeal to our better natures: we can do this, but it will take work.
But she had to use that evil word “sacrifice.”
That woman can’t tell me I have to sacrifice!
I’ve never seen people get so angry at the word sacrifice before. We honor the sacrifices that members of our military services make in defense of our country and allies. We praise the sacrifice of a lunchroom cook who works two jobs so she can pay off student lunch debt. We ask teachers to sacrifice their personal safety to protect our children in times of danger.
Some of these same people demanded that others make great sacrifices during the height of COVID so that their children could go back to school.
But, here in Howard County, we are only willing to sacrifice for our own children, our own neighborhoods, our own “neighborhood schools.” How dare anyone ask us to have bigger hearts than that, or a bigger worldview than our own backyard?
After watching the past several go-rounds of redistricting, I don’t think that what McCoy describes here is going to happen. She’s right that it is what’s needed. If we, as a community, cared enough about every child in every neighborhood, we would be willing to pull together. To make sacrifices.
But, sadly, I don’t see it happening. The way these angry parents have responded to one minute and forty-eight seconds of calm and thoughtful speech is yet another example to me of what’s broken in how we come to the table as citizens of a greater community. I’d like to be proven wrong. I’m not counting on it.
There’s a certain faction out there during this election season that is painting Ms. McCoy as a dangerous woman with dangerous ideas. They think this video clip is evidence. What I see is a teacher who has worked with many students over the years applying her knowledge and experience to a daunting task. It’s the voice of a seasoned teacher/parent/grandparent who says, “Now, we can fix this mess, but it’s going to take some work.”
That’s not dangerous. It’s an invitation to come together and make things better. I can see how that makes some people uncomfortable. It is in no way a reason to tar and feather a candidate for the Board of Education.
Talking about sacrifice isn’t scary. Inviting people to pull together isn’t dangerous. But listening to hearsay instead of doing your own homework in the BOE race could bring about some truly damaging and destructive outcomes for our children and our schools.
That’s the part of this election season that scares me the most.