With two of its eight members holding bachelor’s degrees, the Prince George’s County Board of Education had fewer college graduates two years ago than any other school system in the Washington region.
But the number of college graduates has changed dramatically over the past year since a new law went into effect that gave County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D) and the County Council the authority to appoint members to the board.
Earlier this year, there were nine. Now, another has been added to the ranks.
Board member Edward Burroughs III (District 8), who originally joined the board as a high school student member, graduated from University of Maryland Baltimore County on May 22, increasing the number of members with college degrees to 10 out of 13.
Burroughs, 21, graduated with a degree in political science.
“I just can’t believe it, it’s gone so fast,” Burroughs said.
Burroughs joined the school board when he was 15 as a student member, then he campaigned for a regular board seat at age 17 when he graduated from Crossland High School.
He had to get a special letter from the state board of education because the county wouldn’t let him file because he hadn’t turned 18 yet.
There were plenty of naysayers, Burroughs said.
His opponent argued that he could not be a successful board member and a successful college student at the same time.
“I learned not to let other people’s limitations of you define you,” Burroughs said, adding that he proved the naysayers wrong.
Burroughs said obtaining his degree and serving was taxing at times: He would sometimes have to weigh whether to write a 30-page research paper on pore over school budget documents.
More often than not, he said, he would examine the budget, then work on his college paper.
Last year, Burroughs enrolled in a study abroad course during what is ordinarily the summer break for the board.
His trip to Argentina to study Spanish was planned for May to August.
Burroughs said he could not have imagined that Baker would push the General Assembly to give him complete control over the school system, which resulted in numerous meetings during an ordinarily slow time for the board.
Despite the distance, Burroughs said he doesn’t think he missed a meeting. Skype became his best friend.
Burroughs said he doesn’t think he could have been successful as a board member and a college student if he didn’t have the support of his family and his constituents, who “gave me a chance.”