This is part of an ongoing series of interviews with PGCPS Board of Education candidates. Stephanie Hinton is a candidate from District 8 (see district map here). Ms. Hinton 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.
After 25 years of being a parent, teacher and advocate in Prince George’s County, I have a great understanding of the issues facing our communities. There are some tough problems facing our school system, but there are ways to start addressing them, and I want to be a part of that.
I have developed an eight-point plan that pulls from my experiences as a teacher at a Prince George’s County elementary school, as an educational advocate for special needs children and as a parent of two children who attended PGCPS. These points are focused on creating a safe, positive, healthy learning environment for all of the children in our county. They need healthy meals and clean classrooms. They need teachers who are motivated and supported. They need books that are current and accessible. They need parents who are communicated with and informed.
Much of this is lacking in schools around our county, and it is time for a change. I want Equality for District 8, and for every district in gorgeous Prince George’s.
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?
Communication is one of the largest problems facing our district. One of my eight points, holding town hall meetings will assist with working with the community. The town hall meetings allows parents, students, teachers, and community members to meet regularly to discuss concerns, as well as accomplishments. In addition, it will allow me, as the Board member, to inform the community about things occurring at the Board and within the county.
Low performing schools are a major concern within our district, especially within elementary schools. Approximately 85% of District 8 elementary schools are low performing. We have to change this around immediately. Three of my eight points speak directly to this issue. For instance, ensuring that students have adequate resources, reducing class sizes, and retaining quality teachers will help.
Special education is an issue that many parents, students, and teachers find challenging. It is important that parents are aware of their rights in order to advocate for their students. As the District 8 member, I will fight to ensure that the parents are able to speak to someone without traveling two hours one way on public transportation. I will fight to bring a parent resource center to District 8.
The school system has recently been under fire for several alleged incidents of abuse and neglect. How will you work to increase a sense of respect and security, for children and their families, in our school system?
One of the biggest issues in our school system is a lack of communication. My goal is to open the lines of communication with town hall meetings and an anonymous tip line for teachers and staff. Parents have to feel they can trust the system, and speaking to them directly will strengthen this bond. This is also a good opportunity to give them direction on what resources they have if they feel their child has been a victim of abuse or neglect at school.