“THIS IS just the beginning. Now is where the change actually happens.” It is encouraging to hear such optimism about education reform in Prince George’s from County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D) a year into efforts to remake the system. But school improvement is challenging, and there is much work to be done. Critical to success is Mr. Baker having a constructive partnership with the school board, so Prince George’s voters should choose wisely in this year’s elections.
The board of education was overhauled as the result of legislation last year that gave Mr. Baker more authority over education and resulted in the appointment of schools chief Kevin Maxwell. More members were added to the board, appointed by the executive and County Council, and Mr. Baker was empowered to name board leadership. The new members have brought fresh perspective and a depth of needed education experience but, as the Post’s Ovetta Wiggins reported, there is, unfortunately, resistance from members who fought the change in governance.
Four seats (Districts 2, 3, 6 and 9) are up for election in November. The top two vote getters in June 24 primaries in three of the races will move on to the general election. The two candidates in District 2 (Greenbelt and College Park), incumbent Peggy Higgins and Lupi Grady, a member of Mr. Baker’s education commission who has been endorsed by the executive, will not be on the primary ballot and will advance automatically to the general.
In District 3, Incumbent Amber Waller has provided conscientious representation to the district that includes Hyattsville, University Park and Brentwood, but the better choice is Dinora A. Hernandez, an attorney who serves as Mr. Baker’s Latino liaison. Not only does her life story as a daughter of immigrants from El Salvador give her keen insights into the needs of underrepresented students, but she also is rightly focused on how to expand pre-kindergarten programs and improve community engagement.
District 6, which includes Largo and Kettering and parts of Upper Marlboro, sees Incumbent Carolyn Boston, vice chair of the board, being challenged by former school board member Pat Fletcher and education consultant Darin Kenley. Mr. Kenley, a Teach for America alumnus, has appealing ideas and useful experience, but Ms. Boston has proved to be a force for good on the evolving board. Impatient with fights about turf, her focus has been on moving the system forward. Known to be an effective partner with board chairman Segun Eubanks, she deserves reelection.
Sonya Williams was appointed by Mr. Baker to the vacant District 9 seat caused by the resignation of Donna Beck Hathaway, and voters of this south county district should return her to office for her own term. Her work in managing major projects makes her a valuable addition to a board where money is always an issue. Equally appealing is her experience as a parent in switching her child from private to public schools, which should prove helpful as the board tries to build public confidence in the schools.
Early voting starts June 12. The races are non-partisan, and all eligible voters can participate.