Does a globally competitive minority student body count?

Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2008

A version of this letter was sent to Charles County public schools Superintendent James E. Richmond and Assistant Superintendent Judy Estep.

What counts? According to Charles County Public Schools, lacrosse counts.

To show the residents that Charles County means business, an outlay of $187,000 for new equipment was made while the athletic administrators work on how to start and grow the program. Seems like we are putting the proverbial cart before the horse and with an ever-increasing African-American student population in Charles County, it would be interesting to see a lacrosse diversity plan.

Speaking of African-American students, once again the High School Assessment test results are in and as usual African-American students are predictably at the bottom. But what is absolutely baffling is that the state averages for all African-American HSA test takers mirror Charles County, which has a far wealthier African American community than the state.

Does a globally competitive African-American student body count in Charles County?

Before we address global competition, lest I be a victim of putting the cart before the horse, surely we can begin to show the state that African-American students in Charles County can surpass statewide minimum standardize tests averages set by less fortunate African Americans?

The newly created Bridge Plan or the two-employee minority achievement office are not the answer. For the state-derived, but not mandated, Bridge Plan defeats the purpose of standardized tests, unnecessarily brings about additional costs and allows the county the opportunity to fail the students again. The minority achievement office has been an abject failure since its inception because the office lacks stable leadership, oversight, funding and integrity.

Here are two suggestions with no costs attached. First, increase the grade point average required to participated in extracurricular activities, plus an added math component. The required 2.0 grade point average is outdated and out of sync with the current academic requirements for athletic scholarships. Second, tie success on HSA tests with participation on varsity sports and other extracurricular activities. In other words, if a student does not pass all four HSA tests by their junior year, participation in sports must be prohibited.

Robert Harlan, St. Charles