Act Now for Prince George’s Schools

Center Maryland rarely weighs in with an editorial – usually leaving the commentary to our regular contributors and guest columnists. However, this week’s column by Josh Kurtz inspired us to speak up.

We support Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker’s proposal to assume more responsibility for his county’s schools.

In several decades of fits and starts on education reform, only increasing executive authority – and accountability – has demonstrated progress in moving struggling school systems forward. This movement has included numerous instances of giving mayors the power to appoint superintendents – as well as cases, such as Baltimore, where executives appoint school boards.

In contrast, Prince George’s County’s elected school board has repeatedly proven its inability to function effectively – with its misguided micromanagement driving away two highly regarded superintendents in four years. The Prince George’s Board is Exhibit A, illustrating the pitfalls of placing education policy in the hands of politicians who are not adept enough to get elected to the council or legislature – and choose to run for the school board as first rung on the political ladder.

In Prince George’s County, there is a clear choice facing the General Assembly: Should the schools be left to a Board of bumblers or turned over to a capable County Executive, who will likely be in office for six more years?

As test scores and other measures demonstrate, the status quo is not serving the County’s children – and they don’t have years to wait while adults seek to protect their own interests. We say, make the change now. The General Assembly and Governor O’Malley should approve County Executive Baker’s reforms.