PROPOSAL: HCPS Special Student-Led Race Relations Council

Harford County Public Schools

Hcps_student-led_relations_council_(5)

TWW is proud to help promote and support sophomore Christian Walker and his efforts to shine a light on racial inequities in Harford County Public Schools and to offer solutions!

In order to achieve the goal of providing a quality instructional program to ALL students, Harford County Public Schools is in great need of a vigorous overhaul to its current approach to race relations within the school community. There are many positive changes that have occurred and are in progress across the county’s schools. However, a more advanced, targeted program to minimize prejudice and discrimination among ethnic groups, particularly those in the minority, will be necessary.

Given their firsthand experience in Harford County’s Schools, this program must be student-led and directly involved in implementing change-provoking policies, programs, and opportunities to students across all grade levels.

Please sign my proposal, to indicate you agree!

Christian Walker
10th Grade
C. Milton Wright High School

christianjwalker76@gmail.com


To: Harford County Public Schools
From: [Your Name]

In order to achieve the goal of providing a quality instructional program to ALL students, Harford County Public Schools is in great need of a vigorous overhaul to its current approach to race relations within the school community. There are many positive changes that have occurred and are in progress across the county’s schools. However, a more advanced, targeted program to minimize prejudice and discrimination among ethnic groups, particularly those in the minority, will be necessary. Given their firsthand experience in Harford County’s Schools, this program must be student-led and directly involved in implementing change-provoking policies, programs, and opportunities to students across all grade levels.

Below is a list of initial steps I propose to move forward:

1.) The establishment of a hand-selected, student-led council that meets regularly, working with the Cultural Equity/Proficiency and Communications departments to identify, develop, and implement programs to naturally reduce cultural bias among students. The main focus group for implementation will be young elementary level students, however programs will be developed for students of all age groups. As shown in a 2012 research study by renowned Harvard Professor Mahzarin Banaji, children develop racial biases as early as 3 to 4 years old, but these biases can be corrected by exposure to a culturally diverse environment at a young age. At its essence, this means showing students what it means to accept people of other races, rather than telling which is largely ineffective. To meet this goal, potential programs for students include but are not limited to: field trips to institutions such as homeless shelters where students assist those of varying ethnic backgrounds; field trips to events in locations with high cultural diversity; and visits from older school students and adults of different cultural backgrounds in various careers, allowing students to embrace people of different backgrounds. The critical aspect of the council is to develop students that embrace people of different races and cultures through natural exposure in real-world scenarios, rather than through small clubs and assemblies within schools.

2.) A secondary goal of the proposed council is to develop strong ties with local, state, and national organizations that promote positive relations among ethnic groups. Furthermore, to cooperate with these groups in incorporating their perspectives and ideas into school programs and curriculum.

3.) The revamping of an official student ‘Code of Conduct’ outlining the county school’s expectations for student behavior. Therein, it should highlight new initiatives indicating Harford County Public Schools will place significant consequences on students that are found to have committed a derogatory act or any type of discrimination against another student or group of students. The prospect of serious consequences for discriminatory acts must be emphasized to foster students’ understanding that these acts will carry similar consequences when they leave grade school and enter the “real world”. However, in tandem with consequences, the Student-Led Race Relations Council should develop and implement new, more effective procedures for restorative action in schools that allow students to work for forgiveness and to correct the pain they may have caused. This restorative action program should include specific benchmarks and goals that must be met to be relieved of punishment, but also ensure the student continues to apply what the restorative action program has taught them as they move on in Harford County Public Schools.

4.) Official reports released to the community on the progress of race relations within schools, including quantitative results clearly outlining where goals are and are not being met. This uptick in public transparency should specifically outline what actions are being taken to improve race relations. Moreover, the student council should lead this transparency initiative in cooperation with the HCPS Communications department.

Thank you for your consideration of the above proposal. For questions or comments, please contact christianjwalker76@gmail.com.

Christian Walker
10th Grade
C. Milton Wright High School