The views expressed are the author’s own and do not represent the views of Prince George’s County Advocates for Better Schools.
by Lori Morrow
I originally planned to speak during the public comment portion of the Prince George’s County board of education meeting on June 22. However, I was informed on June 20 that the BOE had reached its limit* of 15 speakers.
The text below is from an email I sent to the CEO and board of education members, with the subject line “PGCPS Budget Priorities: Happy Teachers and Engaged Students”:
I’ve been encouraging people to send inputs in advance of the Thursday meeting, so here is my short list…
Things I want:
1. Whatever the teachers want, including the freedom and resources to be innovative and keep students engaged with hands-on activities
2. Resources to meet the needs of students at all levels of the academic spectrum, including math & literacy support and TAG training for teachers
3. Language exposure at neighborhood elementary schools through programs like ICAL [International Culture and Language, used at Talented and Gifted centers] or sharing language teachers like we do for art and music
4. Maintenance funding to ensure safe, functional buildings for our students and staff
5. Focused interventions and support for students impacted by lack of core teachers due to administrative leave issues this year (Get creative…use executives & central office staff as tutors once a week if necessary. Perhaps more interaction with schools and students will help remind everyone that students should ALWAYS be our central focus.)
Things I do not consider priorities:
1. Things that do not touch classrooms or students
2. Programs that only benefit a few students through the lottery and increase transportation needs/cost
3. Test fees for all students (I believe students should need to demonstrate financial need and/or a minimum grade in their courses to justify reimbursement).
4. The start of new programs before we have met basic needs at neighborhood schools.
I support PGCPS teachers’ priorities because happier teachers will be more effective. Our teachers should have the freedom to teach in creative and innovative ways without being mired in paperwork and restrictions. They should also have the resources to make learning fun and engaging for our children. Additionally, our county’s students should have opportunities for language exposure and gifted programs in every neighborhood. They should not have to literally “win a lottery” to access programs that challenge them academically.