School chief reassures black parents But says changes will take time

October 08, 1992|By Sherry Joe | Sherry Joe,Staff Writer

Howard County Schools Superintendent Michael E. Hickey assured a group of black parents Tuesday night that improved programs for their children are in the works, but some of the programs may take a while to accomplish.

Nearly 80 parents and administrators attended the three-hour meeting, scheduled in response to a list of about 50 recommendations black parents submitted in June. Their children are part of the county school system's Black Student Achievement Program, a program designed to provide support for minority students.

Parents' suggestions ranged from improving test scores of black students to increasing awareness of black history. Mr. Hickey responded to those recommendations during the first general meeting of the BSAP at the Board of Education building.

"A lot of my answers are incomplete," Mr. Hickey said after the meeting. "But we have a lot more to show than we did in June."

One of the parents' recommendation was to infuse African American history in all subject areas for elementary, middle, and high school students.

"African-American contributions have been omitted on all levels," said Charconn Rice, vice president of the African-American Student Union at Howard Community College.

Mr. Hickey said weaving black history and culture into all levels of the curriculum is a lengthy process.

"Any kind of change is going to have to work its way through all the curriculum," Mr. Hickey said. "It's not going to happen overnight."

Parents had also asked for the elimination of "skills" classes, lower-level classes to which students are assigned to help them improve academic skills. Parents have said the classes contain a disproportionately high number of black students.

Mr. Hickey said that is not feasible.

"I don't think it's as simple an issue as that," he said. "It involves parents, it involves educators. I'm not willing to throw it out wholesale fashion."

Parents also called for consistent, countywide criteria for induction to the National Honor Society.

"Give us a level playing ground so that children, black and white, can be a candidate for the National Honor Society," said Nat Alston, BSAP executive vice president.

County high schools require minimum grade point averages ranging from 3.25 to 3.6 on a 4.00 scale to qualify. The NHS requires a minimum 3.0.

Bobbi Crews, BSAP executive president, said that although she was happy with Mr. Hickey's general response, more work was needed.

Jacqueline Brown, the school's new human relations coordinator, introduced herself at the meeting and described school-based human relations teams, which will be made up of guidance counselors, students, parents, administrators, and teachers.

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