This is part of an ongoing series of interviews with the 2018 Prince George’s County Board of Education candidates. Carolyn Boston is the incumbent from District 6 (see district map here) running in the June 26 primary election. Ms. Boston answered questions generated by members of Prince George’s County Advocates for Better Schools.
Prince George’s County Advocates for Better Schools does not endorse or oppose any candidate for the Board of Education.
Tell us about your background and your plans to move our school system forward. Why do you want to be on the Board of Education?
I am running for a third term on the Board of Education because I believe we are moving in the right direction to be a model for the world on how to educate a diverse student body such as Prince George’s County. My experience as a council member in my community has equipped me with the knowledge and experience of dealing with budgets and how to run a town. My 10+ years of development and training through PTA on the local and state level, has provided me with years of advocacy and leadership skills. My years as a Parent Liaison for Prince George’s County School System prepared me to assist parents and the community on how to navigate our system. The professional training and workforce development I received has been a big asset with the work I do on this board. Also, my years of employment with one of the largest labor unions in the world has equipped me with a deep understanding of negotiations and collective bargaining process.
What would be your top three priorities while serving on the board, if elected?
My top three priorities while serving on the school board if re-elected are found below:
- Bring awareness and increase enrollment in our Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs that are available to our students that can equipped them with certifications and/or skills that they can use right after high school.
- Continue my support of community engagement by providing community workshops and encourage key partnerships that can provide resources to our students and families. Continue my work with the College and Career Readiness Summit, where I coordinate with our school system to bring colleges, universities, careers, and local agencies together to provide valuable resources to our students and families to assist with making next level education or career decisions.
- Engage our system to have our businesses who receive contracts from our system, to provide apprenticeship opportunities for our students. This will equip our students with hands-on experiences that would make them more marketable right out of high school.
What qualities do you believe are most important in a Chief Executive Officer?
A Chief Executive Officer (CEO) is the leader that provides the strategic direction for teaching and learning, fiscal accountability, and overall system accountability. The CEO must be transparent and must be a transformative leader for Prince George’s County Public Schools. A CEO must always maintain an open line of communication and listen to the needs of staff, parents, and students. A CEO must also have the qualifications to lead a large and complex system such as Prince George’s County Schools. An ideal CEO can lead with logic, intellect, and with their heart. Our students are our most precious gift and it is important that the CEO work with the School Board to deliver a high-quality system for families and students.
If you had the opportunity to chair one of the existing Board of Education committees, which would you choose and why?
As the current chair of the Board Governance Committee and chair of the Finance, Audit, and Budget (FAB) I have the responsibility to lead these committees to ensure accuracy and integrity. These committees are important to ensure that the Board is strong and works collaboratively with the one another, the community and the CEO. These committees maintain structure, accountability, and results. These committees ensure that resources are allocated in an equitable way that supports our students and staff in all Prince Georges County Public Schools. In addition, these committees provide oversight and real time information that is critical to make key decisions as we move the system forward.
What are your impressions of the current level of parent engagement in our schools, and what ideas do you have for improving/encouraging parent and community engagement?
As a board member, I would bring more awareness of the great staff, great programs, and the successes of our great students. For the past five years, I have coordinated on behalf of the board, a College and Career Readiness Summit, that offers middle and high school students and their families valuable resources to assist with decision making around college choices and career opportunities. I would continue to seek the assistance of our local businesses, our parent organizations, and other community partners to help provide parent workshops. As a board member, I will continue to spread the word about the great opportunities we offer to our students and share stories of student successes whenever possible. Support and continue to fund our Family and Community Engagement office, Family Institute, Ombudsmen Office, and PEAs that continue to do outreach support to families and community.
What are your ideas for addressing inadequate facilities and alleviating overcrowding, while communities wait for new school construction and renovation to take place?
It is true that salary and benefits were depressed and class sizes increased as a result of cost-cutting measures due to hiring freezes, layoffs, and retirements, which affected the entire state and country. I plan to address increased class sizes by advocating for increased SBB funding to schools that are overcrowded and construction of additional schools in areas where there is no more room for expansion to reduce class sizes. Encourage and support the system’s great efforts in seeking 21st Century grants to support teacher recruitment and retention.
Prince George’s County should seek additional funding for the school system from a small additional tax to new businesses and/or new constructions that are expanding throughout the county. Therefore, I would seek to advocate for a modification of the tax structure to have additional funding from new construction of homes to support the schools in the community where they are doing business or building million dollar homes that could possibly attract families with school age children. Another revenue stream is the taxation for tobacco, alcohol, and gambling that would directly support our students and teachers in Prince George’s County Schools.
Name one book you have recently read. What did you learn from it?
Recently, I read the book Courageous Conversations by Glenn E. Singleton. This book is intriguing because it addresses the key issues of race, equity, and equality. Through the reading it provided me a framework to consider in transforming my beliefs, behaviors, and results in preparation for the ongoing discussion on revising the Board policy on equity.
There have been questions surrounding graduation rates and grade fixing in Prince George’s County. According to the WABE report, Prince George’s County students continually scored among the lowest on the SAT. What can the school system do to improve the quality of a Prince George’s County education?
The SAT is used to determine student aptitude and student readiness for college admission. However, when assessing student achievement, we must look at a number of factors to determine students achievement levels; they include grades, interim progress reports, behavioral data, and college and career readiness assessments. I believe we can do more as a system to better support students who take the SAT, I suggest the following interventions be offered; free SAT preparation courses and access to SAT preparation software.
Many specialty programs (e.g. language immersion, performing arts programs) have waitlists because demand exceeds the current capacity, and some students travel long distances to attend a specialty school. Do you support the expansion of specialty schools? Why or why not?
I absolutely support the expansion of specialty programs. Specialty programs are important because they offer students the ability to develop their talents and skills in college and career areas. As a strong supporter for the Fire and EMS Cadet Academy, I work with a team of individuals to support students in this specialty program area to resources, jobs, and driver license training. In addition, these programs provide key skill development in critical thinking, analysis, and application areas. Last, specialty programs provide students with various exploratory activities that enable them to make choices about their career fields.
Do you have any additional comments?
Thank you for the opportunity to share my vision with your readers.
Learn more about Carolyn Boston here:
- Candidate Website: https://carolynboston.com/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/carolynboston
- Twitter: @CarolynBoston7
- Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/carolyn-boston-296b4043
Read responses from other District 6 candidates: