2:12 PM EDT, October 9, 2012
There are three youngsters running for seats on the Prince George's County Board of Education; one of those seats is for District 1, which includes Laurel. The three are former or current Prince George's County Public School students, and they are wonderful examples of our school system's best and brightest. The primary election results showed that they benefited greatly from press articles reporting on the novelty of three teenagers running. But as Election Day fast approaches, it is time for voters to trade novelty for reality.
The recent shakeup within the PGCPS administration — the loss of both our superintendent and deputy superintendent, as well as the forced resignation of one senior administration staffer and firing of two others — calls for stability, maturity and experience, not youthful enthusiasm, on our school board; we need professionals, not interns. I know there are a lot of cynical, disaffected voters out there saying things like, "Let the kids try." As a parent with a child in the school system, I'll take the heat of being labeled a curmudgeon yelling at kids to stay off our educational lawn when I say, "No, don't let kids try. There is too much at stake." I think it is irresponsible bordering on dangerous to consider putting late adolescents, themselves students, in a position of influence choosing our next superintendent, analyzing and deciding on a $1.6 billion budget and developing policy affecting 124,000 students in the 18th largest school system in the country. Youthful enthusiasm, the student point of view? That is what the student member seat on the Board is for.
This period of upheaval in PGCPS administration is a time of uncertainty but also a time of opportunity. To take advantage of the opportunity, however, we need to make realistic choices as voters. For her professional experience as a budget analyst, educator and college counselor, I will be voting for Zabrina Epps for the District 1 seat. I hope all District 1 voters, including those of you who voted for me in the primary, will do likewise.
Mike McLaughlin is a former District 1 school board candidate and former Laurel Leader columnist.