New Board of Education member brings culture wars to BCPS

Lori Ackerman, Staff Writer

On Nov. 8, Maggie Litz Domanowski, an executive assistant, defeated Diane Young in the race for the Baltimore County Public Schools Board of Education seat for District 3. This was Domanowki’s first campaign. She was galvanized to run for office because of how painful it was as a mother to watch her first-grader struggle with online learning in 2020.

“I didn’t just want to complain, I wanted to do something about it and help our kids and help our schools in any way I could,” Domanowski said.

But what does Domanowski stand for? The answer is that she is part of a nationwide wave of conservative school-board members attempting to alter curricula to reflect their own politics.

Now I don’t disagree with Domanowski on everything. Her top priorities of high-quality education, school safety, and infrastructure are hard to argue with. I also appreciate Domanowski’s commitment to collaboration and listening to different perspectives. What I cannot get behind are her archaic beliefs about race and LGBTQ+ issues. 

For one thing, Domanowski doesn’t believe that systemic racism exists. 

She said, “To say that we are systemically racist now is a hard thing for me to see when I see so many races doing so well and achieving things…I think it has more to do with attitude and work ethic.”

This perspective is both ahistorical and factually incorrect. The theft of wealth from Black Americans through slavery and Jim Crow in the South, the denial of homeownership through housing discrimination in Northern and Mid-Atlantic cities like Baltimore, the displacement of Indigenous peoples and the extraction of their resources, the exploitation of migrant workers and the high rates of police brutality against African Americans are all just examples of the systemic racism that permeates our country. 

“Trying to introduce social justice, social issues, social politics, is not something [students] are ready to take on yet,” Domanowski said. 

But what about when “social issues” are plain, historical facts? We need to teach more of the truths of U.S. history so that our students can become informed citizens with the tools to fight injustice.

Domanowski also supports limiting education about LGBTQ+ identities. She stated that she opposes “pornography” in school libraries, which is a thinly veiled dogwhistle for any books that explore LGBTQ+ relationships and identity. Queer youth deserve to see their identities normalized and celebrated in the classrooms and elsewhere at school, where they spend the vast majority of their time. 

“If [gender identity] is brought up at school with an educator, the educator should notify the parent and say ‘Hey, I’m not sure if you’re aware of this, but your son is going by she/her pronouns,” Domanowski said regarding parent communication.

If this hypothetical policy were implemented, the effects on LGBTQ+ youth in BCPS could be disastrous. Telling an unsupportive parent that their child is LGBTQ+ could result in them disowning their child, or worse. With 63% percent of LGBTQ+ youth reporting that they feel sad and hopeless to the Centers for Disease Control, we need more support in our schools for queer youth, not less.

I truly wish Domanowski the best in her tenure. BCPS is in need of higher-quality education, safer schools, and better infrastructure, as she says. Domanowski also says we need to keep politics out of the classroom, but does the exact opposite with her right-wing platform.

“We need to respect each other and all views and all sides of the argument,” Domanowski said.

 Fine, but “views and sides” that are not supported by fact and that actively harm our children have no place in BCPS.