Thursday, September 28, 2023

It’s Your Move, HoCo

Wanna play? It’s that time again. Roll the dice and make your move. It’s Columbia/HoCo’s well-known schoolhouse game: Moldopoly.

 Image from Howard County Times, August, 2016

I dug up this old image from a post I wrote seven years ago. The Howard County Times doesn’t have a cartoonist anymore. But we still have mold. 

Yesterday the Oakland Mills High School Media Center was closed due to the discovery of mold. The pink sign here was probably posted by staff. The white sign was made and posted by a student.

Oakland Mills High School, September, 2023

Last week students from Oakland Mills High School testified before the Board of Education to advocate for necessary repairs and renovations to their school. Some reported symptoms of ill health from daily attendance in their school building. What does this mean? It means their school is making them sick. Symptoms of illness due to mold include: nausea, allergic reactions, fatigue, and headache (including migraine), asthma, and chronic infections. 

It goes without saying - - but I’m going to say it anyway - - being in a school that makes you sick compromises your ability to learn. 

HCPSS ensures academic success and social-emotional well-being for each student in an inclusive and nurturing environment that closes opportunity gaps. - - Mission Statement, Howard County Schools

While not all students will experience physical ailments due to mold, all will suffer. A closed media center is closed to the opportunity for learning. While their peers in other Howard County Schools will benefit from the resources of well-equipped and professionally-staffed media center, the students in Oakland Mills will not. 

I’ve been writing a lot recently about people with extreme political views who have set their sights on compromising intellectual freedom in our schools and libraries. You know what can close a school library faster than that?


Now mold itself doesn’t happen overnight. It takes a team of players working together to make it happen:
  • Inadequate and/or faulty heat, AC, and ventilation 
  • Aging and unrepaired building materials
  • Leaks and moisture made possible by deferred maintenance 
Oakland Mills High School has all of those. And it has, for a very long time. What it doesn’t have is a rock-solid commitment to follow through with all the recommended work that needs to be done. 

Whether you have kids at OMHS or not, whether you have kids in school or not - - as a member of the Howard County community you have every right to express dismay with the conditions at OMHS and to advocate strongly for the most prompt remediation that is humanly possible. These kids are our kids. The teachers, and staff and families are our neighbors no matter where in the county that they live.

When we allow disinvestment in one particular area of our community - - whether deliberately or by default - - our entire community becomes weaker.

It’s our turn to roll the dice and make our move.

Write to the Board of Education

Write to the Howard County Delegation:

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