Board calls Baker's proposed school takeover unnecessary gamble

The Prince George’s County Board of Education is calling County Executive Rushern Baker III’s proposal to take over the school system an “unnecessary distraction that gambles away the future of our children.”

The board issued a statement on Baker’s proposal late Tuesday, March 19, after The Washington Post reported over the weekend that Baker proposed — in the form of a bill to go before the state legislature — to take over the school system. The proposal, the board said, resembles the school takeover in Washington, but like that takeover, falls short in addressing “core issues facing our community.”

“This is a bad bill that is being pushed through the legislature under the guise of education reform without the benefit of a public hearing,” the board said.

Baker’s proposal would put the school system, the $1.7 billion budget and the superintendent under the direct control of the county government, and the board said it would “void the rights of our parents, students and labor unions.”

The proposal would also put the schools' superintendent under Baker's direction. The school system has had five superintendents in the past five years, and the most recent — William Hite — left last fall to take the top job in the Philadelphia school system. Alvin Crawley has been interim superintendent since then, and is one of three superintendent finalists picked by the board.

Crawley and the two other finalists, Eric Becoats, superintendent of schools for Durham Public Schools in North Carolina and Harrison Peters, chief of schools for Chicago Public Schools, met with the public Tuesday, March 19. The board is expected to name Hite's successor by July 1.

The board said if Baker wants to improve education in the county, he should be promoting parental engagement, and find funds need to attract and retain teachers.

“Our youth should not be used as political gambling chips,” the board said. “They are our hope for tomorrow. This bill undermines the progress our students are making. It places our schools in an untenable situation.”

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