Baker, Maxwell and Eubanks discuss the Prince George’s County school system

Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D) has repeatedly said the school system’s turnaround and the county’s efforts to draw businesses are intertwined.

It was part of the reason he sought a district takeover of the schools last year.

On Tuesday night, he said it again. This time with a little more force and in front of a couple of people he expects to help him improve the county schools.

“I can get the FBI tomorrow,” Baker said during a panel discussion with Schools Chief Kevin M. Maxwell and Board Chairman Segun Eubanks. “You move the school system up two places, I got FBI.”

Baker was referring to the county’s push to get the Federal Bureau of Investigation to build new headquarters in Prince George’s County.

Maxwell’s immediate response: “That’s a heavy burden.”

But Maxwell, who was hired by Baker in July, then offered how he plans to go about improving the district.

While Maxwell and Baker have been big proponents of attracting middle class families back to the public school system, Maxwell said Tuesday night at a forum sponsored by Baker’s Commission for Education Excellence at Greenbelt Middle School that the district also has to focus on the students that are currently attending.

“We have to do a better job with the kids we already have in our system,” he said.

That is why, he said, additional pre-kindergarten, retaining qualified teachers and enhancing a rigorous curriculum is important to the improvement efforts.

He said the school system also must expand opportunities to attract new families by reducing the wait list for Talented and Gifted programs and specialty programs, such as Montessori and language immersion.

Eubanks said the government can partner with the school system and the district can create innovative programs, but the “biggest difference” will happen when the culture changes in the school system and the community about the public schools.

“We have to stop saying ‘I don’t want to send my kids to school with those kids,’” Eubanks said. “If we can change that attitude” the school system will improve. . . “Between the hard work of the government, education experts and us, we can get the work done.”

Ovetta Wiggins writes about K-12 education.
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