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Tuesday, July 11, 2017

The loss of a dream for Columbia moving into the future

      A recent discussion at the "Longest Table" I brought up a concern I had for Columbia and Howard County moving into our second 50 years of Columbia's existence.   Has the Columbia goal of diversity and integration of groups across the economic scale been lost in Columbia and Howard County.  Has affordable and subsidized housing been limited to only certain areas in both Columbia and Howard County?  Why was River Hill Village designed for mostly single family homes unlike the diversity of housing, both subsidized and unsubsidized,  in our earliest villages?  The lower density zoning of Western Howard prevented diversity of housing in half of Howard County.  Is this the new reality as we move farer from Rouse's vision of what makes a community exceptional?
     This new possible reality is seen in our school system.  While our school system is still seen as a valuable asset to our County we see signs of a "de facto redlining" in Howard County.   This reality is known to any realtor in our County.  The first statement for many home buyers in Howard County is "here are the school districts I will only look at homes in."   This reality is based on the school test scores.   I experienced this reality when I tried to sell our home a few years ago.   After being on the market for almost a year we finally had an offer that we were ready to accept.  The couple was from out of state with school age kids.  On the way to our realtor's office to sign the contract the husband received a cell phone call from his wife telling him not to sign the contract because she had looked up the test scores on the internet and our school fairer poorly in comparison to other schools in Howard County.  As they were looking at Howard County because of the schools this was enough to not sign a contract.
     For most of us who have lived in Howard County we know that any school in Howard County will give a good education to any student regardless of academic ability.   Teachers in schools with lower test scores are just as good as teachers in schools that score higher.  I am sure that our school administrators work to minimize the impact of our the housing reality.  But if we are honest with ourselves the school system's job of providing an excellent education to every student in Howard County is made more difficult if our housing patterns move farther and farther from Rouse's vision of our community.  Is the 1960's goal of "fair housing" no longer relevant in the 21st Century Howard County?

P.S.
      I really struggled with not bringing into this discussion the new reality brought in at the Federal level the past 6 months.  I will just post this link.

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1 comment:

edblisa said...

Test scores should NEVER be used for the purpose of rating students, teachers and schools. These tests are nothing but money makers for the likes of PARCC, and the College Board and are not good for curriculum as it drives the "teach to the test" mentality of the entire school system. Our former Superintendent is partly to blame for this testing and curriculum nightmare. These test scores have caused resegregation and are returning us to the days before" Brown vs BOed". It is sinful to inflict this torture on children so that rich adults profit. This testing and it's evil twin Common Core need to go the wayside so that teachers can get back to doing what they do best......teach children. This education nightmare is happening all throughout the country and not just in HoCo. It's the rich trying to get their hands on the 600 billion in federal funds for education and nothing more. Using and denying children a decent education and proper wrap around services by making them look like failures (test scores) is a deplorable act.