What to Do Over the Summer: Read the New Grading Policies, Get Fingerprinted, Attend a Pop-up Event

by Lori Morrow

For anyone who needs a break from thinking about the systemwide controversies in Prince George’s County Public Schools,  here are some other things to do this summer:

1. Find out which PTA/PTO committees need members for next year and volunteer.
2. Ask school staff if there are areas that need to be spruced up before the school year and gather some friends to help.
3. Read the new PGCPS Grading & Reporting Administrative Procedures 5121.1-.3, so you are familiar with them before school starts.
4. Volunteer to ask nurseries/home improvement stores for flowers, mulch, garden items to beautify the school.
5. Volunteer in the community with your middle schooler or high schooler to work on their service-learning hours.
6. If your elementary school has 20-25 minutes for recess, talk to your principal and ask them to increase it to 30 minutes per the recommendation in AP 0116.
7. Check out the Family & Community Engagement Pop-up events this summer (see the calendar at pgcps.org).
8. Get fingerprinted and do your volunteer training before the school year starts.

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But What Can I Do? Thoughts After a Contentious School Board Meeting

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The opinions expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Prince George’s County Advocates for Better Schools.

by Robyn Kravitz

What an interesting, frustrating, challenging, yet energetic time to be a Prince George’s County resident!

I’m new-ish to the county. My family moved here two years ago thanks to the Air Force. However, in that time I have seen many hurdles within our school system. The most recent hurdle involves the employment, performance, and resignation of Dr. Maxwell from PGCPS. Here are some basic facts that feel important:

  1. Dr. Maxwell’s contract was renewed for 4 years by County Executive Baker in 2017.
  2. Dr. Maxwell announced that he would transition out of the position. But he was not fired.
  3. Other counties in Maryland have been required to pay large severance packages upon the departure of their CEO or Superintendent on top of massive legal fees.
  4. The Board of Education approved a package that is expected to be accepted by Dr. Maxwell and provide a clear path to Dr. Maxwell’s departure from PGCPS.

Now as parents, where do we go from here? I see two very distinct actions we need to take head on — be an educated voter and volunteer in your local parent-teacher organization.

If you love the decision by the Board of the Education, get out and vote this fall for the candidates that supported this package through the system. If you disagree with the package from the Board of Education, get out and vote this fall for the candidates that offer a view you align with. The way we hold our elected officials accountable for the decisions they make is to show up at the polls in November and vote.

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Board of Education Primary Election Results for Prince George’s County

Residents of Prince George’s County Board of Education Districts 2, 3, 6, and 9 had the opportunity to vote for a school board candidate in the Maryland primary election on Tuesday. The two candidates with the most votes will go on to the general election in November.

Incumbents did very well at the polls: In the three districts where incumbents ran for re-election (Districts 2, 6, and 9), incumbents won the most votes.

Here are the Maryland State Board of Elections unofficial results for the four school board races:

DISTRICT 2:

Rob Anthony, 16.4%

*Lupi Grady, 49.3%

*Joshua M. Thomas, 34.3%

DISTRICT 3:

* Juwan Blocker, 25.7%

*Pamela Boozer-Strother, 47.2%

Irene Holtzman, 12.4%

Catherine Bennett Nwosu, 14.7%

District 6:

*Carolyn Maria Boston, 29.4%

Caleb A. Camara, 4.6%

Pat Fletcher, 14.0%

*Belinda Queen, 24.8%

Ava Richardson, 7.4%

David Shelton, 4.9%

Anthony Triplin, 14.9%

District 9:

Matt Green, 8.1%

Don D. Massey, 8.9%

*Arun Puracken, 28.7%

*Sonya Williams, 54.3%

(*) Candidates will appear on the ballot in the general election.

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Prince George’s County Executive Candidates’ Appointment Priorities

In the June 26 election, Prince George’s County will be selecting the person most likely to become our next County Executive. The Democratic primary has nine candidates, which will be winnowed down to one, to face the one Republican candidate and any third-party candidates who may be added to the November ballot.

As a grassroots organization focused on building parental and community engagement with Prince George’s County Public Schools, PGCABS does not endorse candidates, but we feel it is important to help the public learn how these candidates will approach their responsibility to shape the path forward for PGCPS and public education in our county through their appointments of PGCPS’s next CEO/superintendent and appointments to the Board of Education.

To this end, all ten current candidates were sent the following question:

What criteria will you use in filling the position of PGCPS CEO and the appointed positions on the Board of Education? Please be specific about what sort of people you will seek for these positions and whether or not you will replace the current board members.

The responses from Angela Alsobrooks, Billy Bridges, Donna Edwards, and Paul Monteiro are linked below, unedited except for light formatting adjustments. Sam Bogley replied with a biographical statement that did not address the question. Lewis Johnson, Michael Kennedy, C. Anthony Muse, and Tommie Thompson, as well as Republican candidate Jerry Mathis, did not reply to our request.

Candidates’ responses are linked below:

 

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Donna Edwards Discusses Appointment Priorities for Schools CEO and Board of Education

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Photo credit: Donna Edwards

In advance of the June 26 election primary election, Prince George’s County Advocates for Better Schools (PGCABS) sent the following question to all ten County Executive candidates:

What criteria will you use in filling the position of PGCPS CEO and the appointed positions on the Board of Education? Please be specific about what sort of people you will seek for these positions and whether or not you will replace the current board members.

Here is the response from Donna Edwards (Dem):

Some say that it doesn’t matter whether the board is elected, appointed or a hybrid. I disagree. It matters to those who work in the system and those who are affected by the system. We need to restore the voice of the voter when it comes to our School Board. We should establish criteria for board service. I have served on numerous national boards and on boards in higher education. I have never served on a board that does not have criteria for service and a description of the time and responsibility expected in service.

I would set up a process that includes current elected school board members, educators and parents to solicit and interview candidates for appointed positions. I would make my appointments with recommendations made through this process for all vacancies. I support enabling the board to select its own chair among the members. If we continue with the current CEO-CE structure, I will ensure that we have a CEO who has the confidence of parents, educators and taxpayers. As the County Executive, I would devote my attention to requiring the budget restructuring that I described above and have regular reporting requirements from the CEO to me and to the School Board, which would include policy and budget review. I would be a strong advocate within our delegation to restore an elected school board.

Search criteria for a CEO would include candidates with experience in:

  • K–12 teaching
  • Managing large scale organizations
  • Education public policy
  • Fiscal oversight of a multimillion dollar budgets

The one I select from among the three Superintendent nominees will then be part of a Town Hall Tour (in North, Central and South County) to hear public concerns and demonstrate the leadership and vision necessary to unite all stakeholders in common purpose.

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Billy Bridges Discusses Appointment Priorities for Schools CEO and Board of Education

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Photo credit: Facebook

In advance of the June 26 election primary election, Prince George’s County Advocates for Better Schools (PGCABS) sent the following question to all ten County Executive candidates.

What criteria will you use in filling the position of PGCPS CEO and the appointed positions on the Board of Education? Please be specific about what sort of people you will seek for these positions and whether or not you will replace the current board members.

Here is the response from Billy Bridges (Dem):

I pray all is well! I was so excited to receive your email and could hardly wait to sit down and respond. First, let me say that I have been employed with the Prince Georges County Public Schools for the past 20 years. I have been a para-professional educator, a classroom teacher, performed administrative duties, and currently with the IT Department. I said all of that to preface that I have seen all of the turmoil and disorder that is robbing our students of an excellent educational experience, demoralized staff, and left our school system at the mercy of the state or other forces. In fact, I will attach a letter that was sent in March 2013 to all of our elected and appointed officials that have a hand in educational decisions, before this current state of confusion with a hybrid board.

I have made it clear that my desire is to have a plan in place that includes a revamped curriculum; reorganization of and elimination of unnecessary departments; accelerated school construction; limiting class sizes to 25 or less; making special education self-contained in each school; bringing order, integrity, and compassion to our school system; instituting better security measures; demanding consistency in all that we do; requiring pay equity for employees; wiping out nepotism and corruption; and offering full accountability and transparency at all times. These are the initiatives and values that I will demand in any new Superintendent. I will request the State to change the governance structure back to a Superintendent and a fully elected Board of Education. There is no need for the title of CEO. The new Superintendent will not be required to create a plan, because we will already have a plan in place.

I have already called for the resignation of the Board Chair and appointed members. In addition, I will seek the resignation of the deputies and directors that serve on the Superintendent’s Executive Council. Many of these people are part of the problem in our school system. We need a fresh start and a half-hearted effort will not work. The people I will appoint must possess the same character traits and values that I mentioned for the Superintendent. These citizens must be dedicated to education, have a compassion for students and staff, and possess the highest levels of integrity and character with no conflicts of interest. The members will not be required to have any high level of degrees. We just want people that care and act selflessly to improve our schools!

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Angela Alsobrooks Discusses Appointment Priorities for Schools CEO and Board Members

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Photo credit: Facebook

In advance of the June 26 election primary election, Prince George’s County Advocates for Better Schools (PGCABS) sent the following question to all ten County Executive candidates.

What criteria will you use in filling the position of PGCPS CEO and the appointed positions on the Board of Education? Please be specific about what sort of people you will seek for these positions and whether or not you will replace the current board members.

Here is the response from Angela Alsobrooks (Dem):

I think it is important that people understand the process for selecting the new CEO of our school system because the County Executive does not have sole authority over this. The way the legislation guiding this process calls for the Governor to appoint a task force to conduct the initial search. At the conclusion of that process, the top three candidates are forwarded to the County Executive who then chooses from those people.

When looking at the three people who are chosen by the task force, I will look for people who have achieved results wherever they have been. I am not as concerned about the qualifications on someone’s résumé, but rather I want to see tangible accomplishments that have been achieved where they have been. I want to choose someone who has made a school system more transparent and accountable, while also focusing heavily on students, teachers and parents. I want a person who is here to help educate our children, not someone who is focused on adults or any power or prestige that comes with the position.

In making the selection, I also feel it is important to include all stakeholders, to include the Board of Education, the County Council and the leadership of our delegation in Annapolis. The CEO needs to understand that they may report to the County Executive, but they are accountable to everyone. This includes administrators, teachers and parents, so I would like to find a way to include them in the process as well, at least to hear exactly what they would like to see in the next CEO.

When it comes to appointing Board members, I will look for the same qualities in them. I want people who are as passionate about educating our children as I am. I want people who are more concerned with student performance and teacher pay than they are with trying to settle a score or get one up on another Board member.

We need a major culture change within our school system and it must start at the top and filter all the way to the classroom. To do that, we need leadership that is focused on children, teachers and parents, not on adults and who has the power. Only by doing this will we ensure that our children have the resources they need to learn, our teachers are paid appropriately, and we have the resources to ensure our children are ready to learn when they walk through the door and they are in a safe environment.

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