6 June, 2022
On November 14, 1960, Ruby Bridges made history by being the first African-American student to attend an all-white public school. Since that momentous day, America has strived to create an equitable education system that supports all students.
Here in Howard County, Superintendent Dr. Martirano is making that goal a reality. His main focus as Superintendent is to create a diverse and inclusive education system, as stated in his Strategic Call to Action. He plans to achieve this by creating and implementing many equity policies and school improvement plans (SIPs) to be used in all Howard County public schools.
Currently, the Howard County Public School System is working towards adopting a more diverse staff to reflect the diverse student population. In 2019, HCPSS recorded the demographic data of students and staff on their website. In Howard County Public High Schools, the student body is 38.4% Caucasian, making up the majority demographic. Contrastingly, Howard County teachers are 79.4% White. Although this is an improvement from 2018, the staff diversity is still unrepresentative of the students, which is why Howard County is working to create a more diverse staff representation.
Recently, Dr. Martirano added a new policy requiring all schools to have one Equity Team, designed to create a more diverse and equitable learning environment for all students. Superintendent Martirano has decided that in order to promote equity, schools need to focus on supporting students of minority groups. As he said in an interview with the Baltimore Sun, education “isn’t a zero-sum game.” Helping one
group of students does not diminish the support that another group of students is receiving.
Atholton High School’s equity team is co-led by Mr. Motley, Atholton’s principal, and Señora Street who is the diversity, equity, and inclusion liaison. Their role in the team is to facilitate and provide any and all resources that the team may need.
Atholton used to have many independent equity teams, each working toward a different aspect of equitable education. This new equity team is a restructuring of all these independent groups throughout the school.
“Instead of these committees working separately, now everyone is working in collaboration which makes a lot more sense,” said Ms. Dalton, the teacher development liaison of the new equity team and English teacher at Atholton High School.
It was difficult to keep track of all the changes being made when these committees were working independently and it often led to misunderstandings or conflict. Now that everyone is working collectively as a group, the process of creating an equitable school system will be far more efficient.
“We were already working toward that change locally at Atholton and then Howard County made the decision that all schools are going to have this equity team, so it really just expedited the process.”
The implementation of this new equity team is just the beginning of creating an inclusive and diverse education system. The goal for this team is to ensure that students have the same experience as they move from teacher to teacher. It can be very confusing and difficult for students to manage their work when teachers have different policies. The equity team has been designed to create consistency between teachers’ policies on late work and extra credit.
“It’s going to take a couple years but little by little we should be making some changes,” said Mr. Motley. “And by the end it all builds up to this larger and more equitable practice school-wide.”