Angela Alsobrooks Discusses Appointment Priorities for Schools CEO and Board Members

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In advance of the June 26 election primary election, Prince George’s County Advocates for Better Schools (PGCABS) sent the following question to all ten County Executive candidates.

What criteria will you use in filling the position of PGCPS CEO and the appointed positions on the Board of Education? Please be specific about what sort of people you will seek for these positions and whether or not you will replace the current board members.

Here is the response from Angela Alsobrooks (Dem):

I think it is important that people understand the process for selecting the new CEO of our school system because the County Executive does not have sole authority over this. The way the legislation guiding this process calls for the Governor to appoint a task force to conduct the initial search. At the conclusion of that process, the top three candidates are forwarded to the County Executive who then chooses from those people.

When looking at the three people who are chosen by the task force, I will look for people who have achieved results wherever they have been. I am not as concerned about the qualifications on someone’s résumé, but rather I want to see tangible accomplishments that have been achieved where they have been. I want to choose someone who has made a school system more transparent and accountable, while also focusing heavily on students, teachers and parents. I want a person who is here to help educate our children, not someone who is focused on adults or any power or prestige that comes with the position.

In making the selection, I also feel it is important to include all stakeholders, to include the Board of Education, the County Council and the leadership of our delegation in Annapolis. The CEO needs to understand that they may report to the County Executive, but they are accountable to everyone. This includes administrators, teachers and parents, so I would like to find a way to include them in the process as well, at least to hear exactly what they would like to see in the next CEO.

When it comes to appointing Board members, I will look for the same qualities in them. I want people who are as passionate about educating our children as I am. I want people who are more concerned with student performance and teacher pay than they are with trying to settle a score or get one up on another Board member.

We need a major culture change within our school system and it must start at the top and filter all the way to the classroom. To do that, we need leadership that is focused on children, teachers and parents, not on adults and who has the power. Only by doing this will we ensure that our children have the resources they need to learn, our teachers are paid appropriately, and we have the resources to ensure our children are ready to learn when they walk through the door and they are in a safe environment.

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Paul Monteiro Discusses Appointment Priorities for Schools CEO and Board Members

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In advance of the June 26 election primary election, Prince George’s County Advocates for Better Schools (PGCABS) sent the following question to all ten County Executive candidates.

What criteria will you use in filling the position of PGCPS CEO and the appointed positions on the Board of Education? Please be specific about what sort of people you will seek for these positions and whether or not you will replace the current board members.

Here is the response from Paul Monteiro (Dem):

Thank you for the opportunity to respond to the question.

A record of collaborative leadership — It’s important to identify a track record of working with a range of stakeholders and the courage to engage in the hard work of bringing diverse voices together and identifying a common vision accessible to all. PGCPS has become more balkanized with the hybrid Board of Education, the CEO, and various stakeholder groups of teachers, paraprofessionals, support staff, etc. There are no easy answers or quick fixes and the next head of PGCPS has to be prepared and comfortable building trust and modeling transparency to build relationships and generate buy-in as we identify a way forward for all.

Openness to innovation — Based on the “Together for Tomorrow” approach we pursued through President Obama’s Department of Education, it’s important to have someone who sees the surrounding neighborhood and broader ecosystem that’s needed to support our schools holistically. With the proper controls in place to ensure student safety at all levels, federal agencies, private sector employers, faith-based and non-profit organizations, community groups, etc. need to be leveraged in supporting the range of needs of our teachers, students, and staff. Many of the “inside the beltway” schools and others with high percentages of ELL and/or those on free/reduced lunch would be our first priority. Student safety is paramount. Period. With careful planning to build real and reasonable protections, we can move away from a fear-based/risk-averse status quo that inhibits the innovation that would allow our principals and teachers to engage broader parts of the “village” we need to deliver the world-class education we often talk about.

Integrity — PGCPS has seen a stunning lack of integrity by some associated with the system including a prior superintendent. In addition to supporting my call for an independent Inspector General, the new head of our schools should model integrity in all of their dealings and have no hint of scandal in any of their past positions. The way forward for our school system requires no less given the trust deficits that have built up over time because of broken promises and empty rhetoric.

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Prince George’s Delegation Considers Eleven Education Bills

by Lori Morrow

Delegate Angela Angel (D-25) hosted a legislative update at the Prince George’s County Education Association (PGCEA) on February 28 to discuss the eleven education bills pending before the Prince George’s Delegation this session.Over twenty community Image 2-20-16 at 4.28 PMmembers attended to learn more about the legislation and ask questions of the delegate. Slides were presented with a brief synopsis of each of the bills.

Theresa Dudley, President of the PGCEA, spoke briefly to open the forum. Ms. Dudley encouraged everyone to contact state senators in favor of House Bill (HB) 196, which would fully repeal the 2013 changes to the Prince George’s County Board of Education governance structure. She expressed concern that the current structure politicizes the school board and does not provide proper checks and balances.

Throughout the presentation, Delegate Angel emphasized the need for the community to be involved in the legislative process. She said her purpose in hosting the session was to “educate, engage, and empower.” The most powerful statement is when community members show up in Annapolis during the legislative session, but she encouraged everyone to call, email and use social media to reach out to representatives to share their support or opposition.

  • HB 216, Student Hearing and Vision Screenings: Delegate Angel supports this bill that would help identify how many students are not getting the services they need despite screenings. A community member asked why legislation is required to do this, but the delegate explained that the data collected can be used to find out why students aren’t getting the services or figure out ways to fund services for families that cannot afford them.
  • HB 215, Elementary School Limit on Class Size: Delegate Angel stated that this is likely to pass and has already been passed by the Prince George’s House Delegation. She believes that Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) currently has the capacity to meet this requirement. (Local bills that are not passed by PGC Delegation will not go forward in the legislative process.)
  • HB 214, Equity in Education: This bill was created to address an issue of charter schools that require higher cost logo uniforms that are not widely available. Delegate Angel says some schools have already revised their uniform requirements.
  • HB 185, Students With Disability Report: This bill would collect data to find out how many student accessibility needs are actually being met.
  • HB 186/207/196, Related to PGCPS Governance: Delegate Angel explained that these bills overlap and that if multiple bills pass, they would likely be amended or merged. HB 196 would fully repeal 2013 changes to the Board of Education structure. Theresa Dudley and Bob Ross, NAACP, expressed their opposition to HB 186, which addresses only the 2/3 voting requirement to override the CEO’s decision and the selection of the vice chair. To date, the PGC House Delegation has passed only HB186.
  • HB 184, PGCPS Inspector General: Delegate Angel explained that this is separate from the Inspector General bill proposed by the Governor. This IG would report to the PGCPS Board of Education and County Council.  A question was asked relative to the Internal Audit office that already exists, but she explained that Internal Audit does not report beyond the school system.  Per the fiscal note, the IG would have six full-time positions and be funded from the PGCPS budget.
  • HB 241, Telecommunications Transmission Facility on School Grounds: This bill would dictate public notification for companies proposing to install cel towers on a school.

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Groups Produce “Sample Ballots” Not Authorized by Democratic Party

by Genevieve Demos Kelley

Many Prince George’s County residents have received a mailer that contains what appears to be an official sample ballot for the Democratic party. Words in large letters across the top read, “2016 Democratic Sample Ballot; Take this with you when you vote.” The mailer even bears the Democratic logo: a red and blue donkey with white stars.

Predictably, voters are instructed to support the Democratic candidates for president, U.S. senator, and congressional representative. But voters are also told to vote for a particular slate of judicial candidates, as well as candidates for the Board of Education. This is highly misleading. School board elections and judicial elections are nonpartisan; candidates do not run as representatives of a political party.

Moreover, this sample ballot is not actually produced or authorized by the Democratic party. According to the fine print in the bottom left corner, the mailer is authorized by two committees: the Committee to Elect the Sitting Judge, a nonpartisan group advocating for election of the sitting judges of the Prince George’s County Circuit Court, and the Committee for ReCharge At-Large, a pro-Question-D group that supports adding two at-large candidates to the County Council.

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In previous election years, the Prince George’s County Democratic Central Committee has voted to endorse a slate of candidates for the Board of Education. This year, however, the Committee voted against endorsing school board candidates. The Committee also decided not to endorse a position on Question D, which would add two at-large seats to the County Council. But the mailer tells Prince George’s County residents to vote “yes” on Question D, suggesting that the Democratic party officially supports the proposal.

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Prince George’s Schools Advocate on Kojo Nnamdi Show

Tommi Makila coordinates the Alliance for Nonpartisan School Board Elections. He is the parent of a student in the Prince George’s County Public Schools system.

by Tommi Makila

A long-time school advocate, David Cahn, will be a guest on WAMU’s The Kojo Nnamdi Show on Wednesday, July 13 at noon. You can listen to the show on WAMU’s frequency of 88.5 MHz, or online. The show is typically divided into two half-hour segments; at this time it is unknown which segment David will be on.

The show’s website assigns this title to the segment: “Is Partisan Politics Poisoning Prince George’s School Board?” David Cahn will address the school board restructuring that happened under House Bill 1107. He is a long-time proponent of a fully elected school board, serving as co-chair of the advocacy group Citizens for an Elected Board. (You can connect with the group through its Facebook page.)

David was invited to be on the Kojo Nnamdi Show after the Washington Post published an opinion piece regarding school board elections that he and I co-authored.

HB 1107 has been getting a lot of attention in the school advocate circles as of late, so please consider calling in to the show to discuss the issue. WAMU’s call-in number is 1-800-433-8850.

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