CALL TO ACTION Please call or write to the Board of Education and Superintendent Guthrie, to let them know you request equal treatment and fair application/implementation of school rules as they already exist, in the CCPS Parent Student Handbook, for all students at all schools in the district. Additionally, tell them that emblems which are used to induce intimidation or promote bullying have NO place in our schools: Hate Has No Home Here!
BACKGROUND Last week a CTA was written in support of a local family whose child is the target of intimidation and hate speech from the use of iconography which is also tied to distant, yet troubled times in our nation’s history. Specifically, children are being allowed to wear/carry sweatshirts, T-shirts, hats, backpacks, phone cases and other apparel, which have pictures of the Battle Flag of Northern Virginia, which is commonly known as the Confederate Flag. In light of present day politics and deep divides among the people of our country, this flag is wrapped with much emotion. The hate speech elements are tied strongly to its historical use by the founders of the confederacy and their very real statements of belief of the superiority of the white race over others, specifically the negro race. And by its more recent use by the KKK, neo-nazis, and other white supremacist groups and individuals known for acts of violence against people of color.
As you may note, on many social media pages, people are arguing passionately about any restrictions of the use of this flag. The rallying cry goes from it is simply a symbol of our past, it is an expression of freedom of speech, or it shows southern pride, or “The South will Rise Again” To “people just need to get over it”. This simple cloth with pigments of red, white, and blue, is for many people a link to their family's history. A family for whom they feel pride and a righteous indignation that it's appearance in school can somehow be limited.
However, there is another side just as compelling. And that is for the families and the heritage for whom this emblem has always been a symbol of their oppression. For them it is an indicator that others around them “hate” them. And this is NOT limited to people of color. It is a symbol of our present, of current racial divides, it represents violence, turbulence and war. It represents choosing sides in the War between the States.
Symbols hold great value for people and this one connotes many meanings. Most of which are divisive. The debates raging around these ideas, however, are failing to take into account how these arguments affect every student in our schools. The Carroll County Parent/Student Handbook makes clear that certain dress codes must be enforced. Further, it delineates that intimidation, racial slurs and bullying are not to be tolerated in school in any way.
The crux of the matter is that these rules are not being fairly or adequately applied to protect each and every student from harm. We must recognize the realities of our present day. We need calm heads to make decisions that are in the best interest of each and every student. A tacit acceptance of any form of intimidation toward any student is not acceptable. Not Ever.
We are living in turbulent times. Yet we are hopeful to negotiate through this time without as much of the violence of earlier times. As the school code reads today, unless significant disruption occurs in school, a given “thing" may not be banned. However, it is time to use our rational voices before there is violence. We need to create and promote the environment in school where all children can thrive, grow and learn. Schools should be places where Everyone flourishes. For a start let's enforce our existing rules.
TO DO NOW
1). Call Carroll County School Board members and ask them to support the existing school policies regarding the dress code. Consistently enforcing these rules is key. Remind them this inconsistency is taking place in most of our schools.
How to contact School Board members:
2). Write letters to School Board members and Superintendent Guthrie to request the ban of all hateful symbols from school and school grounds, (including the Confederate flag.) Additionally, ask that existing school rules, especially the dress code, be enforced now.
How to contact School Board members:
3). Read the news articles regarding the recent events that are listed below in additional sources. Also review the videos and the CTA from Carroll CAN from Monday, Jan 8, 2018. Specifically read the letters found under ADDITIONAL RESOURCES there.
4). Take the Carroll County Times newspaper poll to register your opinion about banning this particular symbol which for many students in our county, IS equivalent to saying "I hate you, you do not belong here". (Note: this is a public opinion poll only. But may be referenced in coming weeks and months as this discussion continues)
5). Talk to friends and neighbors and try to elevate the conversation to a place of understanding . Help people see that their pride in an emblem just may very well be a child's message of hate, intimidation and oppression. Explain/discuss why that is not allowed in school.
6). Make plans to attend the February Board of Education meeting to again register your opinion publicly in support of fairness in school rule application/implementation and the elimination of hatred, bullying, and intimidation in our schools.
7). Write a letter to the Editor of the Carroll County Times or the Baltimore Sun, expressing your concerns about schools and teachers who are allowing the perpetuation of intimidation, bullying and hate speech via the non-enforcement of existing county wide school policy.
Carroll County Times
Carroll County Times Report, and Video from Superintendent Guthrie’s Remarks: Jan 10, 2018
Carroll County Times, Editorial, Jan 11, 2018
School Board Meeting, January 10, 2018, Public Comments related to this concern, begin at approximately 2:28:16
Baltimore Sun, January 11, 2018