NO ISSUE is more central to the future of Prince George’s County than the state of its schools. So it’s encouraging to see the stable leadership of Schools Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. paying off with steady improvement in student achievement and exciting new programs.
The key to continuing that progress is having a Board of Education that acts as a smart partner to Mr. Hite’s vision and not, as has too often been the case in the county’s past, a meddlesome hindrance.
Five of the nine seats, each carrying a four-year term, are on the ballot this year, with the critical first cut to be made in a nonpartisan primary on April 3. The top two vote getters for each seat will advance to the general election in November. All voters in the affected school board districts are eligible to vote. Early voting started Saturday.
In District 1, which includes Lanham, Northern Bowie, Laurel, Beltsville and Adelphi, three names will appear on the ballot to replace retiring incumbent Rosalind A. Johnson but one candidate, Mike McLaughlin, has dropped out of the race, making it likely that Zabrina Epps and David Murray will be the choices in November. Ms. Epps, an academic adviser at the Community College of Baltimore County, is the best choice: Her experience as a former budget analyst for the General Assembly would be an important help to the board.
The race in District 4, which includes Bladensburg, Riverdale, Cheverly and Glenarden, pits incumbent Patricia Eubanks against four challengers, the most impressive of whom is Micah Watson, a foreign affairs officer for the State Department. Ms. Eubanks has called her first term a learning experience; critics say that it has lacked focus and any real advocacy. Mr. Watson’s rich history of civic involvement in Prince George’s, including stints on the Cheverly Town Council, will be an asset.
Verjeana M. Jacobs, a standout board member since her first term began in 2006 and now in her second term as chairman, deserves reelection to the board over her four challengers in District 5, which stretches from Bowie to Mitchellville and Upper Marlboro.
Smart and hardworking, Ms. Jacobs has a deep knowledge of the system and, as a one-time hearing officer for the school system, has good insights into student needs.
In District 7, which includes Suitland, Forestville and District Heights, incumbent Henry P. Armwood Jr. faces four challengers in his reelection bid, but voters would be wise to reelect him. In his time on the board, Mr. Armwood has proven to be an advocate for common-sense solutions to budgeting problems. A former parent liaison, he understands the importance of parental involvement and has insights into how to boost it.
District 8, which includes Camp Springs, Fort Washington, Clinton and Temple Hills, is attracting perhaps the most attention with incumbent Edward Burroughs III, the former student representative to the board and now its youngest member, seeking reelection over four challengers. The board’s censure of Mr. Burroughs for his ill-advised intervention in investigating complaints at a high school speaks to his misunderstanding of his role not to mention his lack of judgment. Mr. Burroughs is earnest and well intentioned but the better choice is Andre Nottingham. Not only is Mr. Nottingham an educational consultant with years of experience and expertise in what students need to be ready for college, but he has been involved in county schools with a parent’s perspective.