A little more than one month ago, in the midst of preparing to reopen schools, our school system and community were rocked by the termination of federal Head Start grant funds. We were all disgusted and disappointed by the claims of inappropriate actions conducted by school employees upon our most vulnerable stakeholders - our students.
As a Member of the Board of Education, I take my roles and responsibilities seriously, including Chairing the Board's Committee of Parent, Family, and Community Engagement, serving as the Prince George's County Representative on the Washington Area Boards of Education, and a Select Board Member of the Prince George's County Public Schools (PGCPS) Head Start Negotiations Team.
Even with these roles and responsibilities, at the end of every day, I, too, am a resident of this great county and someone who needs my local school system to succeed so that, ultimately, my community can succeed. Our home values and economic development opportunities rise and fall with the success of PGCPS. The actions we take, as your Board of Education, impact you in multiple ways and I am committed to being open and honest to my neighbors, constituents, and stakeholders.
That is why, today, I am announcing my three step plan to move PGCPS forward: dedication to community engagement, commitment to consistent Head Start services, and reenforcing our passion for children.
- First, the Board of Education has to regain the trust of our students, families, staff, and communities. That takes time, engagement, and dedication. I have and will continue to visit community, civic, and PTA meetings throughout District 7 to answer questions, ease concerns, and profess facts - not fears.
- Second, I vow to make sure Head Start services are not disrupted for our nearly 900 currently enrolled students. These 3 and 4 year olds have become accustomed to their teachers, aides, and schools. Changes to these three key services are a nonstarter for me.
- Finally, we will weed out those who do not love children. Our school system employs nearly 20,000 individuals - from policy makers and budget analysts to paraprofessionals and bus drivers. While I refuse to accept the notion that we have "culture of abuse" in PGCPS, because I know that the disturbing actions of less than a dozen employees does not define the life changing and impactful actions of 19,000+, we need to do a better job in removing those individuals who do not have a passion for children and supporting their ambitions.
In two days, I will be celebrating my birthday and, of all my years in public service, governmental affairs, and community organizing, this has literally been the toughest one yet. However, even with the negative stories that have plagued our community and school system, I was reminded of what PGCPS is truly made of when I saw the heroic actions of one of our bus drivers who saved the lives of nearly two dozen students.
To me, that's what PGCPS is all about - saving lives. Whether it is in the classroom, through an after school club or sports team, or even on the bus ride home, the culture of PGCPS is just that - saving lives.