School Board Tug-of-War (Demo)

On one end of the rope you have School Board Chair Verjeana Jacobs and the Board of Education (BOE), the NAACP, and the Prince George’s County Educators Association who adamantly oppose the County Executive’s proposed legislation that would essentially give him control over the school system.  On the other end of the rope you have frustrated parents who agree that something must be done to drastically improve education in Prince George’s County and the County Executive Baker who says we can no longer pass the buck on who should improve the schools.  Both sides are tugging against each other on behalf of the same group: the children. 
This just in from Traycee Wilkins NBC4, “Senator Peters introduced Baker’s plan for PGCo school reform. It’s a new bill #1071. MD Senate Bill 1071 is called Prince George’s School System – Academic Revitalization & Management Effectiveness Initiative.”

Verjeana Jacobs
Verjeana Jacobs

Verjeana Jacobs called the move by County Exec. Baker a “last minute power grab.”  She’s one to talk considering all the heavy handed, no-bid contracts she negotiated at a major cost to the county all under her inept leadership.  We must also consider  County Executive Baker’s last attempt in 2003, at an appointed Superintendent which ended with Superintendent Andre Hornsby being indicted and convicted on 6 charges of mail fraud, wire fraud, evidence tampering, witness tampering and obstruction of justice.  Jurors found him not guilty on two counts and were unable to reach a consensus on the other 14 charges.  I call that a colossal failure.
But which side of the tug-of-war should go tumbling into the mud?   It’s a hard call.  I have to fall on the side of the school board in this case but I’m not on their side at all.  I see maybe 2 or 3 members of the a school board of 9 who actually belong there as rightful representatives of this county.  Others are just willing vessels who have no place on the table set for educators who serve a constituency.  But what I do know is that hasty takeovers don’t work.  Look at former Mayor of D.C. Adrien Fenty and his installation of Chancellor Michelle Rhee, who was so under qualified that technically, she COULDN’T be hired as a superintendent and don’t forget the legacy of intimidation and cheating she left behind (Rhee recently endorsed Baker’s takeover bid).  County Executive Baker is trying to fast track the school board into reform out of understandable frustration.  Other publications have sited the increase in youth murders and other dumb reasons to turn over the reigns to Baker but I say no.  There should be reform starting at the top but it has to be sustainable.  We have other school systems, i.e. Fairfax, Potomac, that are winning in the fight to have excellent public education.  Why not consult with them, get rid of the fat, and put their recommendations in place?  Why copy a failed model?
 
PGCEA President Kenneth Haines
PGCEA Pres. K. Haines

At the March 21, 2013, BOE meeting, Prince George’s County Educators Association President Kenneth Haines noted the county’s steady incremental progress on state mandated assessments in the face of a reduced budget and strides in BOE  budget transparency as evidenced by 3 consecutive years winning the Distinguished Budget Presentation Award from Government and Finance Officers Association Haines asked “Where’s the crisis?”  I disagree with him.  There is a crisis. Our teachers and administrators need development and oversight.  Our students need no tolerance environments which settle for nothing less than them reaching for top standards.  Our parents need to parent these spoiled suburbanite spawns and stop leaving it up to the schools to police your foul-mouthed, listless kids.  If our school systems don’t hurry up and change, our county will become stagnant.  With all the development and permit process reform County Exec. Baker is trying to bring about, the school system’s “steady…incremental” progress must be driving him frantic, which is why, I believe, he’s making an attempt at a total overhaul.  I get it.

County Executive Rushern BakerOn Tuesday, March 26, 2013 at 7:30 p.m., Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker, III will conduct a Telephone Town Hall with County residents regarding his proposal for Integrated School Governance of Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS). Residents who wish to participate may email the Office of County Executive at countyexecutive@co.pg.md.us by 11 am on Tuesday. Please use “Telephone Town Hall” in subject line and include your name, address, and a phone number where you can be reached at 7:30 on Tuesday to participate in the call. In addition to those who request to be included by contacting the Office of the County Executive, several thousand County residents also will be invited to participate in this discussion.  Residents who’d like to offer written testimony about the proposal to the Prince George’s House delegation need to send an e-mail to pg2@mlis.state.md.us by Wednesday.  Councilman Mel Franklin (District 9) is offering a survey to his constituents.  Make sure you take part and have your voice heard no matter what side of the tug-of-war you’re on.

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