Q & A with Anthony Triplin, District 6 Board of Education Candidate

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This is part of an ongoing series of interviews with the 2018 Prince George’s County Board of Education candidates. Anthony Triplin is a candidate from District 6 (see district map here) running in the June 26 primary election. Mr. Triplin 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 have served in the United States Navy and in the Army National Guard. I have more than 10 years in accounting, auditing and budgeting experience. I see my mission on the Board of Education as helping explain where the actual money is going in the simplest terms and how we can better allocate it to serve our schools. Our school system is the bedrock of our community. I am passionate about bringing people together to plug into solutions that will strengthen our school system and improve opportunity for all children, because our community’s well being – our region’s prosperity – depends upon this. As an advocate for public education, I have worked collaboratively with people of many different backgrounds and worldviews. I have brought people around the table to find common ground and take action together on solutions. I believe that I can make a greater difference by bringing this approach to the school board.

I am committed to listening first, to leading thoughtfully and respectfully, and to building strong partnerships to find the best solutions for our children and the district. I am running for office because our school district is facing a number of challenges that require commitment and great leadership in the boardroom. I am committed to improving the quality of our public school system and realize that serving as a policy maker is one of the most direct ways to make a difference.

I feel that there is a need for quality and dedicated new leadership. I want to be on the school board because I care about children and their parents, I care about educators in this district and I care about the future of the county to attract and retain the best and brightest. I want to help mend the fences that have been broken in our community, to restore trust and integrity where it’s needed. I want to make sure that we continue the good things that happened under the previous administration.

What would be your top three priorities while serving on the board, if elected?

Provide a safe and effective learning environment for our students at every school. This includes making sure we have highly qualified teachers in every classroom and quality administration in every school. We need to identify and reward strong teachers and we need to expand our professional development offerings so all teachers can improve their performance in the classroom.

Utilize our resources more efficiently.​ Our “Weighted Student Staffing” and “Strategic Staffing” programs allow us to direct extra funding to the students who need additional resources to be successful. Give our students what they need to succeed by giving our teachers and principals what they need to succeed. We need to provide our teachers and principals with the right training, support, professional development, and resources to give our students what they each need to be successful.

Create a focused and strategic budget, that puts our money toward what works for students. We need to build strong community partnerships to ensure our entire community is pushing in one direction, for our students. Our students do their best when they have the entire community standing behind them. It’s easy to make promises, but living these promises IS what works, and I ask for your vote to continue to live these promises for the next four years and beyond.

What qualities do you believe are most important in a Chief Executive Officer?

The superintendent must wear many hats but always keep the focus clear. The superintendent of a school district sets the direction and tone while responding to the often-competing demands of the board of trustees, administrators, teachers, parents, students and the community.

A great superintendent has a clear vision for the district. He or she works with the board of trustees to set the vision, goals and objectives for the district, and then sees to it that the goals are achieved.

A great superintendent is an instructional leader. He or she knows that the most important job of the school district is to make sure students are learning and achieving at high levels. He or she is knowledgeable of the best practices for maximizing student achievement and is supportive of teachers in the district.

A great superintendent is an effective communicator. He or she must make a concerted effort to communicate the needs and accomplishments of the district in a variety of formats: through written reports, communication with the media, public meetings and attendance at school events.

A great superintendent is a good manager. He or she directs the administrators to accomplish the goals of the district, monitors their progress and evaluates their performance.

A great superintendent is a good listener. He or she must listen and take into account differing viewpoints of various constituencies, and then make the best decision.

A great superintendent is not afraid to take risks or make a commitment. An average superintendent might set goals that are either vague or easily achieved but a great superintendent would not be afraid to boldly set goals, such as “The majority of third graders will be able to read by the end of the school year,” and then put the programs and resources in place to achieve those goals.

If you had the opportunity to chair one of the existing Board of Education committees, which would you choose and why?

I would choose to chair the the Finance, Audit and Budget committee (FAB). I believe that the The FAB committee’s job is maintaining the reliability and integrity of the school systems accounting policies, financial reporting practices and financial statements. With my 10 plus years experience in Budgets and audits, I believe that with my experience with financial oversight and auditors I can move the School Board further, faster with my experience.

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?

I believe that like any other area of our school system, parent engagement can always use improvement. I have six strategies I believe we can utilize to increase and encourage parent and community engagement.

  1.  Create a welcoming school climate.
  2. Provide families information related to child development and creating supportive learning environments.
  3.  Establish effective school-to-home and home-to-school communication
  4. Strengthen families’ knowledge and skills to support and extend their children’s learning at home and in the community.
  5. Engage families in school planning, leadership and meaningful volunteer opportunities.
  6. Connect students and families to community resources that strengthen and support students’ learning and well-being.

What are your ideas for addressing inadequate facilities and alleviating overcrowding, while communities wait for new school construction and renovation to take place?

The idea of portable schools received the broadest support among stakeholders. These campuses would be built on sites designated for new permanent school sites. A temporary elementary school could be built for about $8 million, according to preliminary estimates. About half of that cost would come from utility hookups, parking spaces and other ancillary construction that could be reused for permanent school buildings. Portable schools could be constructed in less than a year, or less than half the time it takes to construct a new permanent school. They are also much cheaper to build, with three portable schools completed for the price of one permanent school. Students from existing schools would need to be rezoned to a portable campus, however.

Name one book you have recently read. What did you learn from it?

I have recently read Failure is Not An Option by Alan Blankstein. Blankstein and others believe that there are six basic principles that guide student achievement in high performing schools. These six principles are:

  • A common mission, vision, values and goals
  • Ensuring achievement for all students; systems for prevention and intervention
  • Collaborative training focused on Teaching and Learning
  • Using data to Guide Decision making and continuous Improvement
  • Gaining active Engagement from Family and community
  • Building Sustainable leadership capacity

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?

A school system should look at the relationship between school quality (in the form of academic achievement and test scores) and human capital, which is the economic measure of workers’ total abilities, skill sets, and work quality. Improving schools requires district vision, district and state support, and principal leadership.

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?

Yes, I support expanding specialty schools when data proves that the results are beneficial. Specialty programs allow students to explore academic interests. Most speciality schools improve job readiness and prepare students to establish a firm foundation early to better prepare themselves in the real world.

Learn more about Anthony Triplin here:

Read responses from other District 6 candidates:

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