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:
- Dr. Maxwell’s contract was renewed for 4 years by County Executive Baker in 2017.
- Dr. Maxwell announced that he would transition out of the position. But he was not fired.
- 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.
- 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.
If you are looking for reliable information about the next election, there are websites that can give you a glance into the ballot. And don’t forget, it isn’t just the school board votes that matter. Important decisions affecting are schools are made at the state level (e.g. how new school construction projects are funded, and whether the county returns to a fully-elected school board or continues forward with the hybrid model). Your votes at EVERY level matter. Some primaries were decided by tens of votes. Your vote matters.
The second action item that every single person in our county can do is to find their local parent organization and get involved. Whether it is a PTA, PTO, PTSA, PTSO or a booster club, our children need all of us now to unite. Parent teacher organizations across the county are planning for back-to-school events, fundraisers, school supply drives, educational activities, and community involvement events. If you aren’t already a member of your local parent teacher organization, reach out to them. Join them. Volunteer with them. Purchase an item from a student’s fundraiser. Show up. Be present.
This moment in our county feels very overwhelming. Catch your breath, get the facts, and find a place to make a difference. Our kids needs us to unite, heal, and move forward.
2 thoughts on “But What Can I Do? Thoughts After a Contentious School Board Meeting”
PTAs are sometimes really good to be involved in, but sometimes very contentious. Fundraising takes a lot of time but accomplishes far less than advocating for full funding of our schools.
What we need to do is to hold our officials accountable. Writing well-thought out emails and going to see them in person is more effective. Also speaking at County Council meetings and state board of education meetings can help. The PGCPS board of education does not have the power. The County Executive and the County Council make the decisions. Better to lobby them.
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The comment “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” should be accompanied by a warning. Before voting, go to the source: View this board meeting and follow all others. Do not form your opinion by what you hear in the media as the media is known to hammer the opinions of only some board members while never featuring what anyone else thought. Educate yourself on the political connections of the candidates. If you want to return to a board that collaborates and makes decisions in the best interests of our children, then you don’t want candidates whose first line of attack is the media. Decide whether you think governance through the media is productive and forward-thinking or not. In each district you should be able to learn which candidate is aligned with the “media” slate and which candidate is aligned with working through committees and in board meetings collaboratively with other members. Each district up for vote has these two “parties” available to vote for, but you have to be informed in order to make the correct choice.