Prince George's County Executive Rushern L. Baker III is urging business leaders to step up efforts to help the county improve its 120,000-student public school system.

Rushern Baker (twp)

Improving public education, he said in remarks prepared for delivery Friday evening, is everyone’s business.

“We must focus like a laser on improving our education system. For, without a strong school system and a well-educated and trained workforce, it will be difficult for us to attract corporations to relocate their business to our county or prevent existing ones from moving out,” he said.

While the county’s schools have made strides in recent years, they still lag behind the county’s closest competitors for business and development-- Fairfax County in Virginia and neighboring Montgomery County in Maryland.

“Without a strong school system, families will think twice about staying or moving here. Without a strong school system, the number of future business leaders and innovators who graduate from our schools will be reduced,” Baker said in the speech,which he was to deliver to several hundred business leaders and politicians attending the annual dinner of the Prince George’s Chamber of Commerce at the University of Maryland in College Park.

Baker (D), who ran on a platform two years ago of improving public education and bringing in new businesses to strengthen the county’s tax base, has repeatedly said the fate of the schools and the county are intertwined.

“Without a strong school system,” he said in his prepared speech, ”our march towards becoming an economic engine will be far more difficult.”

He urged the business group to help the school system by mentoring students, aiding efforts to improve the science and math curriculum, proposing partnerships that provide internships and other opportunities for students, and remaining vigilant about pressing for improvements.

He said he expects to announce plans in the next few weeks to promote innovative programs in the schools and expand community involvement.

The chamber announced several awards at the event. Among them, Helix Enterprizes was named small business of the year; Stephen K. Neal of K Neal International Trucks was named business leader of the year; and Men Aiming Higher, a community group that promotes public health issues, was honored with the chamber’s community service award.