This is part of an ongoing series of interviews with PGCPS Board of Education candidates. Raaheela Ahmed is a candidate from District 5 (see district map here). Ms. Ahmed 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.
My name is Raaheela, and I am a lifelong Prince Georgian and resident of Bowie who is a product of Prince George’s County’s public elementary, middle and high schools. I hold degrees from the University of Maryland in Finance and Economics. I am running for the school board because I feel that my current and fresh perspectives will have a positive impact on the District in improving student success. I believe in the potential of our students and will work hard to ensure that our students are not only college and career ready, but also culturally competent and globally competitive.
My professional experience as a federal financial consultant for the Department of Homeland Security, boardroom experience on the University System of Maryland Board of Regents, and volunteer work focused on enhancing the lives and education of our county’s students (America Reads*America Counts, Health Leads, Moneythink Maryland, and Court Appointed Special Advocate) enhance my effectiveness as your representative on the board. This is my second bid for the Prince George’s County Board of Education. In 2012, I came 3% shy of winning the general election after winning the primary election with the top number of votes. Over the course of my School Board races, I’ve canvassed over 10,000 homes, engaging parents, teachers, students and stakeholders in dialogue about our school system and ways to improve it. I’ve recently gained the endorsement of our teachers via the Prince George’s County Educators Association. Together we can ensure a bright future for our children and our communities!
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 in the statement: It takes a village to raise a child. This proverb highlights the need for collaborative effort in making change….the necessity of not one, but several caring individuals and institutions in human growth and development. K-12 education systems are grounds for this kind of development. Whether we like it or not, our schools are responsible for teaching hard subjects like math and science as well as intangible skills like work ethic and acceptable societal behaviors. It takes effort from all stakeholders in building our schools and our community. That is why efforts to encourage parental involvement in schools and develop partnerships with local universities and businesses are important to the progress of our schools and students. To encourage community engagement, I’d like to spearhead the establishment of active formal parent-teacher organizations in all schools, corporate partnerships to provide internship and other academic opportunities for our students, and personally engaging in community outreach as I have been doing on the campaign trail.
Transparency and Accountability:
Prince George’s County has a history of corrupt elected figureheads, mismanagement of money and general public distrust. In order to overcome these issues and thrive as a community, both transparency and accountability must be prioritized. I believe fiscal transparency is needed with the school budget so that individuals know not only how their taxpayer dollars are being spent, but whether that spending has a good return on investment given demographic metrics (test scores, graduation rates, etc.) I support having a thorough evaluation of our academic programs. Understanding what works and what doesn’t will allow PGCPS to align resources and funding efficiently and increase academic excellence. Additionally, I’d like to see more advanced technology use in sharing detailed information, similar to the UNC Data Dashboard.