These two paragraphs of my last post are important:
"I am sure there are multiple sides and issues in play at the various schools involved, there are things I am missing, etc. That's fine. Please comment and lend your perspective instead of bring critical. I don't pretend to have all the answers, I simply write what I see and understand and think.
And I think that Howard County is no place for this crap to go on. I know that despite what many blinder-equipped HoCo Boosters claim, Howard County is capable of, and acts out, the same evil that as seeped through so much of American culture, especially recently. Racism, sexism, prejudice based on pretty much any factor you can think of--- "otherism", let's call out. Some people in HoCo could stand to be more tolerant to people to look, speak, pray, and/or love differently than they do. But we also have a choice to reject this garbage. We need to be a strong community and work within our schools to address these issues to keep the schools safe, and keep them wonderful places for young minds, hearts, and spirits to grow and develop."
I wonder how many of the views of this post got this far. I'm wondering that based on the number of times the word "racist" has been used to describe me and/or my last post.
As to characterizing me as such, anyone who does that does so out of basic ignorance. I haven't seen anyone who knows me using that word to describe me. And having lived a life as a child and teenager who suffered abuse in many ways-- words really can't hurt me. In these cases, the critic demonstrates their own lack of basic understanding and is acting out from behind a computer keyboard. So, accuse away! Or, if you have the guts, let's sit down and let's talk about what each of us have done in our lives to combat inequities of all forms.
And incidentally, my personal network extends to families who have or have recently had kids in 11 of the 12 high schools. Sorry, Glenelg. But this is what happens when for over 25 years, one has been involved in local politics and youth sports and you have an outgoing personality. You meet people and you learn about them and you see things as they do. And I'm sure there's plenty of various biases involved. No one is a perfect person, me included. Oh, and by the way, I raised two kids through the HCPSS, both graduating from Oakland Mills HS.
And as to my post-- I described what I was told. And, for those of you who read the above last two paragraphs, I admitting my own possibility for not seeing the whole picture! Because I know what I'm told, but the fact is this. Out of about 1200 families who are involved in a high school, including families of students and staff members and administrators-- even if I have talked to 20 families (which is many, many more than almost any piece of media you will read), that's only 1.5% of the population of the school. It is a small, unrepresentative sample.
And I find regrettable the automatic jump to evil intent that some readers assumed. What was described to me was what was described. The term used to describe the students was what I used. If the term had been "9th graders" or "tall people" or "basketball players" I would have used that term.
I think the above address commenters' concerns that I choose to respond to. Now, the next chapter of the story.
I went pack last afternoon and evening and rechecked everything. The feedback I had received from parents (again, parents who I know) at Long Reach HS and Oakland Mills HS was that it seemed to them that school violence was on an uptick, based on what their kids reported. The parents stood by those claims. So I am staying on those claims. Whether they are accurate or not-- I don't know the data, but I know these people, and having been an HCPSS student and parent, I am not going to and will not invalidate those opinions. Maybe there isn't really an uptick in the actual acts, but an increase in awareness and sensitivity? That would certainly be possible.
So, Wilde Lake HS. I lived for a while in the Wilde Lake HS district, one of my favorite teachers from high school was Principal of WLHS for awhile, I coached football in Doug DuVall's football camp at Wilde Lake HS for several years, I know a lot of current and future WLHS families. WLHS means a lot to me without my having a direct stake in its success. And what was brought to me was concerns brought forth by staff members. The people who came forth to me I know to not be people who exaggerate or mischaracterize.
But I also heard from others in the WLHS community who saw things differently. And again, the grand total of people in the WLHS community I have talked to doesn't exceed 10. So a small sample. But as these people are all caring enough about how they feel to reach out to a local guy who writes a blog, I value all of their perspectives.
I went back and cross referenced. I expected to get a clearer picture. I did, but I also got more.
One of the questions I asked was whether, as had been mentioned to me, there was also a group of white students causing trouble? I expected a simple "yes" or "no" answer. Again, my student and parent experience tells me that there are homogenous groups of various colors who come together in schools and do things that aren't good. So I expected a "yes".
The answer instead that I got was, "Does it matter?"
Well, yeah, it matters a hell of a lot, actually. Not from a "what aboutist" or "they started it" perspective. But from a perspective of having and projecting a true image of what was happening. For me, it's a given that there are bad groups of all races among the student body of any school. I was shocked and saddened that it was portrayed to me that there was one particular group that had become desperate. But I'm also shocked and saddened at the lack of realization of the first thing.
No one should go to work having a concern for their safety. I have no reason to doubt that the lack of security these staff members at WLHS feel is very real to them. But I find the motivation for the frustration that was felt, which was then expressed to me-- I find that a bit suspect. And that's a source of great personal disappointment to me.
I also received a comment back that "too many kids come from inner city Baltimore or DC" and so therefore, Howard County is responsible for these "bad seeds from elsewhere" (their words, not mine). This was from a citizen who is outside of the WLHS community and whose children are no longer in HCPSS. This is a sad perspective. Howard County should be a welcoming place for everyone and I'd like to think that it is. But I ultimately realize that it's not and to make it such is a thing that we have to aspire to.
Last, there are two realizations I want to share as this larger community conversation continues. One, as stated before, I'm not perfect. I have my biases and although I look back at my life as a white male and I fail to see one instance where I was advanced over anyone else due to that "advantage", I do recognize that many people have experienced obstacles and have been knocked back. That does accord me a certain amount of privilege which I didn't ask for or want, but I have anyway. All of our schools are wonderful places and I have love in my heart for everyone. I read and reread my last post and even after checking what was said and expressed, I still feel everything written was accurate. What was not accurate was what was behind what was reported to me, and I'm not sure what I do about that. I operate from a position of trust, so maybe, sad as it might be to admit, I should be a bit less trusting of sources. I have to think about that more.
The second thing is that all of the discussion and comments I have read-- from the people I know and the people I know of-- this is an intramural discussion. We are all on the same team. Again, maybe I didn't see or read some comments, but what I read was a discussion of gradations of perception between like-minded people. Because, make no mistake, there are real racists out there. I encounter them a lot. I even encounter them among various positions of civic leadership within Howard County, and even within our political leadership. If we as a community are willing to fight as passionately against real racism as we spar hard against each other-- then, in the long run, I have a sense we'll be OK.
Let's be careful out there.
#hcpss #hoco #hocoschools #columbiamd