This is part of an ongoing series of interviews with PGCPS Board of Education candidates. David Murray is a candidate from District 1 (see district map here). Mr. Murray 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 why you feel that you would be an effective member of the Board of Education.
District 1 needs a leader who knows the community and has the background to solve the problems in our schools. I am running for the Board of Education because we face many unique challenges in Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS). I can’t predict all of the issues that I will face as a board member but I know better than others the impact our decisions will have on the everyday lives of students and teachers.
My experience includes being appointed by Governor O’Malley and serving on the Maryland State Board of Education. I also served as an Educational Liaison for County Councilman Tom Dernoga and State Senator C. Anthony Muse. During this time I learned how things work in both Upper Marlboro and Annapolis. I know what it takes to get things done, and how to work with other elected officials. I have previously served on the Board of Directors for an education non-profit that serves elementary schools in Laurel. Additionally I have professional experience as a staff auditor at a public accounting firm, where I helped audit state and local governments. Currently I work as an analyst at an investment consulting firm in DC.
What are two or three special challenges that you see in your school board district, and how would you work with the community to address them?
I believe teacher turnover is one of the top two most significant problems facing our district. This is not a new issue facing our schools but one that must be addressed. Perpetual teacher turnover is not good for our students or for our teachers. We need to have a work environment that makes it hard for teachers to want to leave PGCPS, not hard to want to stay. I believe aside from teacher pay there is still more we can be doing. We must make a more concerted effort to listen to our teachers about what is and is not working, and find ways to incorporate their feedback. I will be extremely accessible to our teachers and will solicit input from them often.
The second problem is the lack of community engagement I see from our school board. Prince George’s county has a ton of things going for it that we need to capitalize on. I will work tirelessly to build partnerships with stakeholders in the community including nonprofits, churches, businesses, and the public generally. I am going to be seeking businesses in my district to sponsor schools and donate money, as well as to provide jobs and internship training to local students. I have already begun forging relationships with the faith based community so that we can increase mentoring and tutoring opportunities. I will also be reaching out to the community generally to give their time and talents back to PGCPS. We need to be connecting students with those who work in fields that they aspire to be in and asking people to come volunteer and help out with school events and clubs. I want to bring the community into our schools because I believe it is lacking now.