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Howard County school redistricting highlights how school segregation still exists today

The views expressed in this article are the views of the author.

In Howard County, a battle is raging on that is dividing parents, teachers and students. The source of the commotion? A plan to redraw district lines with the opening of its 13th high school in order to relieve overcrowding and diversify its schools. Unfortunately, many are angered at the decision, reasons including their children attending school farther away than their initial zoned school.

Students are complaining that they’ll have to get up earlier, and since buses will have to drive longer distances, they’ll make a bad environmental impact. And then you can’t forget the parents who are adamant against their child attending school with an increase in minorities: “Blacks ruin Columbia. Not all blacks. The urban blacks.”

Let’s break this down. According to a report from Fox45 local news, “School officials want to move more than 7,000 students to different schools to help ease overcrowding.” But many are opposing this for different reasons. For students who are concerned about having to wake up longer or drive long distances, there are some solutions. Manage your time, or drop extracurriculars that eat up too much of your time. Second, try and carpool if that will save gas, or bike to school.

But here’s the thing: This redistricting process has the power to change students’ lives — minority lives, to be exact. Howard County has one of the best school systems in the nation. So, naturally, any parent would want to send their child to a school in the county. Redrawing district lines will open up new opportunities for minorities. Unfortunately, the situation in Howard County gives a glimpse into what segregation looks like in America today.

Although Congress outlawed segregation years ago, that does not mean that its effects are not felt today. Here’s the thing, after segregation ended and students of color tried to integrate into white schools, many white people were furious. So they packed up their belongings, and moved out of the city areas towards the rural areas, creating suburbs. With a majority of students being racial minorities, that meant that there were fewer resources available for them to succeed, funding was reallocated to the suburbs and urban schools were far behind than their white counterparts.

This is why the schools in Howard County — and, by extension, around the country — that have a white majority are extremely successful, have a lot of funding, and make high school graduates prepared for higher education. And you know what? It’s time to change that narrative. Now is the perfect time to do so through the Howard County redistricting battle.

To those parents who think that African-Americans, or other minorities, don’t belong in the new school simply because of their skin color: How dare you think that your child is too precious, so much more important, that they’ll be ‘tainted’ by a more diverse student population. If I were your child, I would be ashamed to have you as my parent. I hope your children are ashamed of the many racist letters you all have sent to the Howard County school board.

At the end of the day, white parents complain about the idea of their kids attending school with black students and other minorities. But, by white parents leaving neighborhoods because other races are moving in, they are reestablishing segregation. This means that schools will most likely have poor resources and are not preparing their students for college. These parents create the very same school they complain about.

Now imagine if no whites had moved out when minorities moved in. Then racial integration would have been established, and with white students in the mix, funding would remain in the urban communities. That way, all of the students would be prepared for a good college career by the time they graduate.

I think that the redistricting process should go through. Many will be upset, and I’m sure a lot of things will have to change in people’s daily lives that they find inconvenient. These people will find a way and move on with their lives. In the meantime, underprivileged minorities will get the best education possible. In the future, we’ll look back on this and focus on how far we have progressed when it comes to providing equal education for all.