MCPS Needs to Foster Increased Student Empathy Through Inter-school Assemblies

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MCPS Needs to Foster Increased Student Empathy Through Inter-school Assemblies

Graphic by Delaney Potter

Graphic by Delaney Potter

Graphic by Delaney Potter

Daniel Pujo, Copy Editor

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As a sanctuary county and with the majority of the population made up by minorities, Montgomery County is a fast growing, diverse county yet MCPS has struggled to maintain diversity in certain schools, leaving some students uneducated on the importance of respecting different cultures.

Incidents involving issues with race have recently made news headlines after occurring at multiple Bethesda high schools–the blackface scandal at Walt Whitman High School (HS) and the N-word pass scandal at Winston Churchill HS–where the population is racially unbalanced and in these cases, predominantly white.

In order to promote diversity and spread awareness, MCPS should require schools with unbalanced demographics to host mandatory assemblies where speakers and students from different schools speak about the effects of a lack of diversity and the different ethnic groups within the county.

It is not just the upcounty Bethesda schools where problems like these arise. These events made headlines because of their horrific and public display of ignorance, but at varying levels, a lack of understanding of different cultures exists in most, if not all, high schools.

These Bethesda schools are just an example of what goes on within more schools across the county. All schools need to embrace MCPS’ diversity and realize it plays an essential part in creating a good school environment as it allows students to have a better perspective of the real world and consider what they can learn from the different people around them.

Aside from understanding the importance of being surrounded by diverse individuals, students benefit even further from actually forming interracial relationships. Studies from the journal “Child Development” by EurukAlert, reveal students feel safer in diverse environments.

Cross-ethnicity friendships increased as the ethnic diversity of classrooms rose, the study found. Youths who reported these friendships felt less vulnerable–less lonely, less victimized by peers and safer at school,” EurukAlert stated.

If MCPS requires these assemblies, students will be more aware of their surroundings, the different environments at other schools and learn to be more accepting of all people when they move on to college and the working world.

Assemblies could offer important learning opportunities for schools such as Walt Whitman HS because students could hear about life experiences from kids at schools with different demographic make-ups such as Kennedy HS where African-Americans make up 30 percent of the school’s population and Hispanics make up 55 percent, according to USNews.com.

Many have proposed, including an April 4, 2018 article from Greater Greater Washington, that school systems need to bus students to schools outside of their school zones and that students should have the choice of where they go to school. While this solution may boost diversity, it will harm the health of students who would have to travel long distances to get to school.

As MCPS continues to grow more diverse, schools with concentrated demographics should be required to have mandatory assemblies that all staff and students must attend to be educated on other ethnic groups and diversity of other schools.

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