As I was growing up, my siblings and I always lived in pretty diverse neighborhoods. Whether it was in NY or NJ, there always seemed to be a mix of white/black/asian/latino people. I appreciated the fact that early on in my life I was exposed to various cultures and languages. My best friend, who is Colombian, taught me my first Spanish curse words when I was a kid. Another friend of mine, had me saying ‘sak passe’ in her native Creole language. Lunch time at my school in highschool was a smorgasborg of international cuisines. We would have everything from Spanish dishes to Indian dishes. Not to say everything was this great Rainbow Coalition Utopian society, because there were still small cliques here and there, but everyone seemed to get along and respect each others differences.
I always wanted my son to have a similiar experience while he was in school. I wanted him to be able to make friends with people from varied backgrounds and learn to appreciate differences as well. So before he entered kindergarten I found the perfect area in Maryland and Columbia, MD, is about as diverse as you can get. I definitely enjoyed living in Columbia. The school he attended was excellent and the extracurricular activities were endless. My son loved going to school every morning, he would literally cry if he had to stay home for any reason. He had friends from every background you could possibly imagine. His best friend was Philip, a Chinese kid who had only been in the U.S. for two years, and although his english was not the best, they communicated and played well together. Their friendship reminded me of my friendship with my best friend when she first arrived in the U.S. from Cali, Colombia.
We stayed in Columbia for about 3 1/2 years. I felt that I was growing out of my townhouse and I needed more space. So I eventually started looking for a single family. Now the downside of Columbia, is the price of realestate. If you weren’t able to spend upwards of 800k, then trying to find a nice sized single family house was close to impossible. I realized I would have to broaden my search area, which led me to where I am now, a town in Prince Georges County, Maryland.
I love the neighborhood I’m in. It’s quiet, comprised of single family homes built in the 80’s and most of the people are long time residents. There’s privacy and unlike my townhouse, I don’t have to worry about nosey neighbors.
But unfortunately, that is not enough to keep me here.
So long Prince Georges County, for the sake of my son’s education, back to Howard County I go.
If there was ever a public school system that could be referred to as a “Historically Black Elementary School”, several of them would be in Prince Georges County. Now, I’m in no way saying that anything related to being “Historically Black” i.e, HBCUs, are negative, but when a county as rich as Prince Georges County, cannot provide a half decent education to the children of the county, that is when I have a problem. I’m not sure where the disconnect begins with PG County Schools, but they are doing a disservice to the children of the county. What is also disheartening is that these schools are primarily composed of black children.
The stories my son has brought home this past year were unbelievable. From students sexually harrassing each other (this is an elementary school from k-5), to the lunch monitors referring to kids as ‘idiots’, to a student telling the principal a strange man was in the courtyard and the principal not doing anything; the list goes on!
My son has gone from a student who was excited about attending school everyday, to a kid who has used every excuse in the book to not attend. The only positive is that although he hates the environment, his grades have not suffered, mainly because I do my part once he leaves the classroom. I’m not sure about any other parents in the county who send their kids to public schools, but I refuse to fail my son or allow him to fail at the hands of an inept educational system, so as of this upcoming school year, I refuse to have him attend school in this county.
I truly believe that a student can receive a great education from a public school system, but that school system has to have the means in providing a sound academic environment, and unfortuantely the proof is in the test scores that Prince Georges County’s school system has continued to fail it’s students. Maybe someone should remind them that a mind is truly a terrible thing to waste, especially the minds of young black children who are already becoming so disenfranchised at an early age.