School Board's Lesson in Capitulation HOWARD COUNTY

March 30, 1993

Students of Howard County, your lesson today is brought to you courtesy of your own elected school board. Pay attention and you will witness how adults held in high esteem can sometimes take the low road when faced with a choice between conscience and capitulation.

That is what the school board has done in its decision to exclude the community of Dorsey Hall from being redistricted into Wilde Lake High School. The socio-economic balance that could have been achieved by that redistricting was sacrificed by board members who have ill served the community on this matter. Their actions are even more contemptible because of the dubious motives they present as justification for what they have done.

The worst offenders deserve the most criticism. Board members Susan Cook and Linda Johnston said they opposed a Dorsey Hall/Wilde Lake redistricting because it would trigger sending kids from another community -- Swansfield -- to a new high school in the western part of the county.

Both board members asserted that poor students in the Swansfield district would be poorly served by being bused to the new school, where they may have to forgo after-school activities. Never mind that Superintendent Michael Hickey told board members that the school itself can make transportation available where necessary.

Further proof of the poor judgment shown by Ms. Cook and Ms. Johnston is that while they claim a soft heart for the disadvantaged, they see no problem in busing students from the mostly white, affluent Dorsey Hall area past two closer schools so that they can attend a brand-new school elsewhere in the county.

We will go lightly on board Chairman Dana Hanna. While he did eventually cast the wrong vote, he tried vainly on at least one occasion to redistrict Dorsey Hall into Wilde Lake.

The real hero in all of this was board member Sandra French, who pleaded with her colleagues to consider the value of multi-culturalism in county schools.

Alas, she stood alone. The victory was borne by those who held to the status quo, doing less when more was required.

And that, we are sad to say, is the lesson for today.

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