Achieving Racial Equity Policy Paper
As international outrage over the acts of racial injustice heightens, more MCPS students and faculty have publicly spoken out about their inequitable experiences within the school system, urging for policies that actually prevent hate incidents.
The modern-day effects of de facto segregation in Montgomery County are negatively impacting students and the educational environment as a whole. To visualize the noticeable differences in the racial makeup of the high schools in MCPS, 67% of Walt Whitman’s students were white and less than 5% were Black during the 2019-2020 academic year. The data is evidently disparate, considering the fact that white students make up approximately 27% of the enrollment in MCPS overall. Due to the racial dissimilarity, there has been a sharp increase in overt acts of racism as well as microaggressions towards students of color. Two hate incidents occurred during the 2013-2014 school year, which later escalated to 27 (with 14 involving the police) in 2018-2019. Furthermore, on June 14, 2020, an alum formed an Instagram account ‘Black at Whitman’ that highlighted 150 anonymous posts regarding the hate incidents that date all the way back to the 1990s. Not only does this cause a potentially traumatizing experience for students but also contributes to the racial injustice happening behind the scenes in MCPS, which prides itself as one of the most diverse school systems in the nation. Students of color in predominantly white schools often face an emotional and physical toll, finding themselves in an intolerable setting that exacerbates their safety.
Therefore, MCPS must take immediate action in order to ensure that all students and faculty feel embraced in our county and not excluded due to their race. As a whole, MCPS needs to address issues of racial equity and social justice so that everyone is aware of this significant issue. The county should initiate a social justice policy where residents are treated with respect and provided with opportunities so that everyone is allowed to prosper and succeed. This policy should reinforce MCPS’s commitment to being a welcoming community for all backgrounds and cultures. They should analyze diversity not only in schools but also in the workforce as well. This will ensure that every environment addresses the complexities around diversity and allows everyone to feel secure. Furthermore, MCPS must actively prevent and forbid any discrimination against any community. This county has faced multiple hate/bias related incidents that have certain communities feeling unsafe and even victimized. In order to prevent this, MCPS must be proactive to teach students and faculty on how these actions negatively affect the health of everyone and cause harm to the school environment. One way to achieve this is by making the school curriculum more diverse, thus creating an interconnected learning experience for students. Another action is to implement mandatory training for faculty so that they are able to be respectful to every student and understand their racial identity. Taking these steps will not only guarantee the inclusivity that MCPS students deserve but also create a safe community where everyone is given the opportunity to learn and explore their own identity.
It is imperative that MCPS take action against the proliferation of racially motivated acts in the school system. MCPS is an extremely diverse county; however, it does not provide social justice for many communities who study in the school system. It is vital that the county make racial equity a priority so that MCPS can flourish and be able to support every student.
Montgomery County Public Schools. MCPS Interactive Boundary Explorer, 2020, https://interactiveboundaryexplorer.com/. Accessed 16 Aug. 2021.
Rasicot, Julie. “The reckoning: Walt Whitman High School addresses issues of racism.” Bethesda Magazine, 4 Jan. 2021, https://bethesdamagazine.com/bethesda-magazine/january-february-2021/the-reckoning/. Accessed 16 Aug. 2021.
Roland, Ikhide. “Montgomery County Council.” Montgomery County Maryland, 13 Sept. 2019, www2.montgomerycountymd.gov/mcgportalapps/Press_Detail.aspx?Item_ID=23462&Dept=1.
“Montgomery County Public Schools.” Six Areas of the Antiracist Audit - MCPS, www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org/antiracist/six-areas-of-antiracist-audit.aspx
Written by Sophie Nguyen and Nandhini Jey