This is part of an ongoing series of interviews with the 2018 Prince George’s County Board of Education candidates. Matt Green is a candidate from District 9 (see district map here) running in the June 26 primary election. Mr. Green 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 a husband, family man, and father of four school age children vested in theirs and other children’s education, education choices and future. I am also a volunteer coach for a 3/4U flag football team, youth wrestling coach, President of a Youth Club, retired military leader, advocate and mentor. I am running with the encouragement and support of family, friends and neighbors.
Many feel based on my prior career as a Military Officer, I’d be a good fit for the Board of Education with my ability to prioritize, organize, be transparent, communicate, and make things happened. I have had the opportunity to interface with national and international governing officials at many levels from the start of my military career. I’ve also been in roles of diplomacy that included but weren’t limited to organization and nation building in both peacekeeping and combat environments. I’ve often been complimented on my demeanor to react calm and intelligently under pressure, while positively influencing the situation and others around me. I look for the opportunity to learn from not only my mistakes, but those of others and applying lessons learned.
What would be your top three priorities while serving on the board, if elected?
1) Along with a team of constituents, get into the schools with our students and educators to see things in action firsthand (this would include unannounced visits as the District 9 Board of Education Representative to keep a true prospective); next I’d prioritize and organize what needs to be done based on firsthand research, findings, parents and community feedback, research and align/reference policy and legislation; take action to fix problems.
2) Build rapport in the community; our community needs to know and understand their Board of Education representatives work for the students, educators, parents and community. This means having the tough conversations to solve problems, understanding that if it is torn down, there is the inherent responsibility to build back up (even stronger), going above and beyond to address and resolve concerns at local, state and possibly national level.
3) Bring Back the Pride; there are a lot of good news stories occurring across Prince George’s County Schools. We owe it to our students, educators, parents and community to highlight and share how great we are with the world. As well as continually growing Prince George’s County talent pool, we have a responsibility to share our positives with the world too.
What qualities do you believe are most important in a Chief Executive Officer?
A Chief Executive Officer has to be selfless and committed to our students, educators, parents and community. They have to understand the impact their decisions and actions have on everyone as a whole. They need to be transparent with the School Board and community. Most importantly, they have understand checks, balances, and accountability to all of the aforementioned.
If you had the opportunity to chair one of the existing Board of Education committees, which would you choose and why?
I’d go wherever I’m most needed, however, my choice would be Policy, Legal & Legislative Committee. Our policies and legislation need work to reflect current needs and truth. We severely limit our growth as a community with the continual acceptance of status quo, finger pointing and lack of accountability, meanwhile other school systems and communities around us amend, move forward and flourish. I’d work tirelessly for our constituents (students, educators, parents and community), with those that can positively impact much needed change while ensuring accountability and transparency in processes.
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?
Based on the PTA meetings I’ve attended in schools throughout District 9, there is still a great deal of work that needs to be done. This would start with my involvement as an elected Board member. I’d avail myself to be in the schools with students and educators during the school hours to see the ground truth from building conditions, safety, educational resources, and educational programs. I’d also avail myself to attend PTA meetings, starting with the most under resourced and critical needs schools. I’d want to look their parents and that community in the eyes and commit to address and get them resources, programs and change needed.
What are your ideas for addressing inadequate facilities and alleviating overcrowding, while communities wait for new school construction and renovation to take place?
We have to get to the ground truth. The fact is that when it comes to our children, as parents, we want what is best for them. Most parents will do whatever it takes to afford their children the best opportunities in the best schools where resources are available, regardless if they’re outside their neighborhood school boundaries, use a false address etc. This in turn can creates overcrowding and speeds up resource diminishment. Older schools were built and planned on now outdated demographics, facts and resources. Starting with the overcrowded schools, a thorough review of student population has to be done. If students are not attending the correct this has to be addressed and actioned. While addressing safety and overcrowding concerns, it will also bring light to under enrolled and under resource schools. We may then find enrollment numbers increase in what were considered previous under enrolled schools. Parents, Educators and Community will provide additional leverage to bring resources and conditions to the forefront. This will also help to facilitate the discussion and actions to refurbish, rebuild and redirect resources where needed to best serve constituent needs.
Name one book you have recently read. What did you learn from it?
I’ve recently read Fire and Fury: Inside The Trump White House. Initially, this was for entertainment, but as I got further into the book, I took note of the importance of surrounding yourself with the right people that can think and execute beyond your vision.
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?
First and foremost, responsibility and accountability have to be reviewed. With the recent resignation of the PGCPS CEO, this process has started and continues. The CEO’s resignation also prompts a review of the administrative actions that resulted. We need to see if implemented persons, policies and procedures have been effective along with appropriate accountability. While the Washington Area Board of Education (WABE) report has yielded unfavorable reviews, as a School Board, we have to gather facts current from our schools to see if the problems are systematic or limited select schools. If the low scores are limited to select school, then we need to cross communicate to resolve internally to PGCPS. However if based on current results it appears to be systematic, then consideration needs to outsource. Regardless of decided upon course of action, a timeline inclusive of milestones must be developed and followed to guide us to prior agreed upon end state.
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 strongly agree that specialty school programs have to be vastly expanded. Our students deserve every afforded opportunity to receive a competitive education and achieve to their fullest potential. Disparity gaps need to be addressed in Educational resources, vocations, specialty schools and programs. Students should not have to travel long distances for a service that should be available in their neighborhood schools. In the event that a specialty requires certain certification to be taught, then PGCPS in conjunction with local and state government need to either avail resources to get training and possibly incentivize needed skillsets.
Do you have any additional comments?
A candidate has everything to prove to their constituents that they’re worthy to represent their community, interests, causes and beliefs. As a candidate I relate to and have experience in our constituents’ causes. Our children are the first step to restoring greatness to Prince George’s County. We have to grow and develop. Our future talent has to flourish in and outside Prince George’s County. A Board Member should never abuse the trusts of our communities by putting their personal interest or gains in front of their responsibility to students, teachers, parents and community.
Learn more about Matt Green here:
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Matt.Green4PC/
- Twitter: @mattgreen4pgc
Read responses from other District 9 candidates:
- Arun Puracken
- Sonya Williams (incumbent)