Redistricting, Recovery, Renewal

March 29, 1994

For a while, it seemed we had devoted so much of this space to the subject of redistricting Columbia's Wilde Lake High School, we were in jeopardy of being just one more discordant note in the cacophony surrounding this matter. The last two months, however, have revealed a noticeable drop-off in the amount and intensity of the rhetoric aimed at this problem. Different factions must have had their own reasons for quieting down.

Once the screaming subsided, Howard County's school board acted to resolve this contentious dispute. In a unanimous vote last week, the board approved the redistricting of the Dorsey Hall community of Columbia into Wilde Lake, and finalized the redistricting of Beaverbrook, Hobbits Glen and Longfellow neighborhoods into the same school. At least a year overdue, the board's vote, we hope, will put the matter to rest and allow the community to begin the work of making Wilde Lake the best school it can be.

The redistricting of Wilde Lake, the city's oldest and most diverse high school, is symbolic on many levels. Foremost, it strikes a blow against the insidious elitism that exists among those who demanded that their children by allowed to attend Centennial High School, which they viewed as something akin to a publicly financed private academy.

On another level, Wilde Lake's redistricting represents a positive step toward improving the entire county school system.

Underlying the board's decision is the acknowledgment that it takes more than bricks and mortar to put schools on an equal footing. Better course offerings and a student population that more accurately reflects Columbia's socio-economic balance are also essential for equity to be achieved.

For too long, Wilde Lake has had to operate under adverse circumstances, not the least of which was the unfair burden it was given to educate the system's disadvantaged. The new district lines will infuse the school with students whose social, economic and academic advantages will impact on the entire school's population, producing a rising tide of excellence.

In the end, it was the decision of the Howard County Board of Education that spoke the loudest, moving the system in a direction that will benefit all students.

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