UNDERSTANDING THE NEED
The first ever Arundel Legislative Symposium was created in response to media reports about arrests and citation disparities at Meade High School.
The symposium was created by young professionals from local social organizations, fraternities, sororities, and giving circles to help articulate the needs of Meade High School, offer credible solutions, advocate for more budget resources for the school, and create a community-driven solution for providing more tutoring and mentoring support for the Meade feeder.
There were over 100 inquiries about the symposium. We had 65 registrations for this private, invite-only event and 53 people actually attended. Participants were invited based on their demonstrated commitment to local issues, work on civil rights, and community involvement. Several Meade alumni and current students also served as student leaders for the symposium. Over 50 questions were submitted about school leadership, teacher recruitment, police-community relations, etc. Here's a short summary on what we actually discussed:
Participants discussed arrests and citation disparities with local police leaders who vowed to continue their collaborative approach with the community.
- Participants discussed in detail the impact that teacher turnover at Meade has on the quality of instruction for virtually everything from advanced courses, to language classes, to school culture. Meade High School has the largest staff turnover rate in Anne Arundel County Public Schools. Participants noted that the school district erred badly by eliminating retention bonuses at Meade and similar schools.
- Participants noted additional plant and capital needs improvements for the school. In addition to trailers, participants noted that Meade has only two restrooms serving a population of over 2,000 students. Additional concerns were raised about the quality of landscaping and grounds keeping at the school.
- Participants expressed concern that there seemed to be a lack of a strategic focus on Meade considering its unique status among all schools in the State of Maryland. Meade has a large number of military dependents and participants expressed some concerns that the school district has not adequately attended to the population's need.
- Participants noted the lack of community-based organizations in the Meade feeder providing tutoring and mentoring support for students.
- Participants also expressed some frustration that certain issues related to bias incidents and discipline were not being addressed more "upstream" at the middle school level.