In September 2023, 900 children at South Lake and 600 children at Burnt Mills Elementary Schools will walk through the doors of new, safe, and welcoming buildings, heads held high and proud. 1500 children who have usually been left behind because they are Black, brown, and immigrants. Their teachers will be able to teach in classrooms without leaking ceilings, without cleaning rodent droppings, without overcrowding in a sea of trailer classrooms.
Over the past 10 years, Montgomery County has invested more capital dollars in the wealthiest district- Bethesda, Chevy Chase, Potomac- than any other district. Action in Montgomery's congregations and public schools fought together over the past two years to ensure that the children of South Lake and Burnt Mills were not once again neglected. Hundreds of parents and AIM congregations worked for over two years to tell the story of a dilapidated structure that wasn't good enough. They successfully got South Lake and Burnt Mills prioritized by the Superintendent and the Board of Education in the fall of 2019 only to have the County Council renege on their commitment to AIM. In May 2020, the Council voted unanimously to delay South Lake because of COVID even while other schools in wealthy districts remained on schedule.
During COVID, born from the righteous indignation of being pushed around and pushed down again, South Lake parents and AIM congregations organized. They held socially distanced tours, press conferences, organized email and phone blitzes to key councilmembers. Ms. King, the principal of South Lake and a fierce educator at heart, even mailed a copy of How to Be an Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi to a councilmember.
It took a whole lot of power to get the liberal county to keep the promises made to the black and brown children who call that count home. Many AIM leaders deserve recognition because this is their win- Ms. Nicole Bayles, Ms. Adama Moussa Harouna, Mr. Einstein Miller, Ms. Cassandra McGlorthan, Ms. Adoree Jacobs, Mr. Samim Sedeqi, Ms. Aura Flores, Ms. Emily Dematatis, Ms. Heather LaDuca of South Lake; Pastor Daniel Xisto of Takoma Park Seventh-Day Adventist; Ms. Diana Bird of The People's Community Baptist Church; Rev. Hal Garman of the Gaithersburg Beloved Community; Ms. Dianne Yaunches, Ms. Nancy Janssen, Ms. Gail Riley, and Ms Lee McNair of Cedar Lane UU; Ms. Judy Walser, Ms. Patty McGrath, and Ms. Frances Swanson of Our Lady of Mercy; Ms. Susan Stern and Ms. Debbie JacobsTemple Beth Ami; Ms. Niki Popow and Ms. Liz Purcell of River Road UU, among many others. That's right- it took a WHOLE LOT of power to get our liberal county to keep their promises to the Black and brown children of this county.
County Council Approves Funding for South Lake Elementary School Project, Bethesda Magazine
South Lake Elementary Building Project Accelerated as Complaints Pile Up, Bethesda Magazine
Temple Beth Ami Advocates for South Lake Elementary, Washington Jewish Week