The New York Times: Where Civility Is A Motto, A School Integration Fight Turns Bitter

The New York Times, Nov 12, 2019: Where Civility Is A Motto, A School Integration Fight Turns Bitter

The planned community of Columbia, southwest of Baltimore, has prided itself on its ethos of inclusion ever since it was founded more than half a century ago. Racially integrated. Affordable apartments near big homes. “The Next America” was its optimistic, harmonious motto.

But a recent proposal to restore some of that idealism by balancing the number of low-income children enrolled in schools across Howard County, including those in Columbia, has led to bitter divisions. Protesters in matching T-shirts have thronged school board meetings. Thousands of letters and emails opposing the redistricting plan, some of them overtly racist, have poured in to policymakers. One high school student made a death threat against the superintendent of schools, Michael J. Martirano.

The plan, announced by Dr. Martirano in August, would transfer 7,400 of the district’s 58,000 students to different schools in an effort to chip away at an uncomfortable truth: Some of the county’s campuses have become havens for rich students, while others serve large numbers of children whose families are struggling.

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