Four college graduates will serve on new Prince George’s school board

November 26, 2012

Four members of the Prince George’s County Board of Education will have bachelor’s degrees when the incoming board takes office next year, twice the number of current members who have a college degree.

Just two college graduates serve on the nine-member board of the 123,000-student system; one of the seats is vacant.

Despite the gain, the county will still have fewer college graduates on its board than any other school system in the Washington region, with fewer than half of the board holding degrees.

In the November elections, the county board’s college-educated membership went from 25 percent to 44 percent, a figure that pales in comparison with that of other boards in large districts throughout the region and across the United States, according to national school board data and a Washington Post survey of all Washington area jurisdictions.

Every member of the current boards in the District and in Montgomery, Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William counties has at least a bachelor’s degree. Eight of nine members of Alexandria’s board have a college degree. Excluding Prince George’s, 58 of current 59 board members in the Washington area have graduated from college.

Earnest Moore, president of the Prince George’s County PTA Council, said he was pleased to see the increase.

“I think it’s an added benefit” for board members to have a college degree, Moore said. The college graduates on the board can “provide guidance to students because they have used the system.”

Board Chairman Verjeana M. Jacobs, a lawyer, defeated Raaheela Ahmed, a college student at the University of Maryland at College Park, in a closely watched race for the District 5 seat. Ahmed toppled Jacobs in the primary but Jacobs came back in the general election to win reelection by about five percentage points.

Jacobs and Board Vice Chairman Peggy Higgins (District 2) are the two current members who hold at least a bachelor’s degree.

They will be joined by Carletta Fellows and Zabrina Epps.

Fellows captured the District 7 seat by defeating Henry Armwood, who was seeking his second term on the board. Fellows earned a bachelor’s degree at Kent State University. Armwood is one of six current members who do not hold a bachelor’s degree.

Epps, an academic adviser and adjunct communications instructor at a community college in Baltimore County, beat David Murrray, a student at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, in a close race. On election night, Murray trailed by less than 1 percent of the vote, making the race too close to call. Nearly 10 days after the election and after absentee and provisional ballots were counted, Epps won with about 400 more votes than Murray.

Epps, who said she ran to help ensure that the county’s students are college-ready, received a master’s degree from the University of Maryland at College Park.

Ovetta Wiggins writes about K-12 education.
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