EDITORIAL: Kevin Maxwell’s Departure Alone Will Not Fix What’s Broken

Prince George's County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (right) and public schools CEO Kevin Maxwell speak to reporters outside Glassmanor Elementary in Oxon Hill on Aug. 29, the first day of school for the county's Head Start program.
**FILE** Prince George's County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (right) and public schools CEO Kevin Maxwell speak to reporters outside Glassmanor Elementary in Oxon Hill on Aug. 29, the first day of school for the county's Head Start program. (William J. Ford/The Washington Informer)

The firing, or in this case the resignation of Prince George’s County Public Schools CEO Kevin Maxwell, who says when classes end for the summer he’ll step down from his position as the leader of Maryland’s second-largest school system, comes as little surprise.

Despite the coveted endorsement he enjoyed by County Executive Rushern Baker III, Maxwell, for all the good he achieved during his tenure, simply could not overcome the escalating controversial and scandalous incidents that quickly led to the forming of an ominous cloud which hovered over the county’s schools system in the last several years.

Perhaps the pressure of the job and some of the tasks at hand, from facilitating a significant rise in student enrollment and achieving an increase in test scores to improving upon the number of students who successfully graduate from high school proved too much for the veteran educator. Maybe, as the president of the county’s Educators Association recently said, Maxwell realized that he needed to step aside so that new leadership could more effectively address deep structural problems, address an insufficient level of accountability, secure a needed increase in funding for the schools and advocate for the overhauling of the current board member election process so that all of the seats would be filled based on the choices of registered voters and the voters alone.

Still, Maxwell achieved success in several key areas since coming aboard in 2012 including boosting enrollment by nearly 7,000 students, opening several new schools and bringing the Junior Achievement Finance Park to Landover, as well as being the first superintendent reappointed in the county in almost 25 years.

But under his watch, the misconduct of school employees who involved students in child pornography, allegations of the abuse of children enrolled in Head Start, charges of unauthorized pay raises and grade manipulation and forged documents employed so that more students would be “eligible” to graduate simply could not be overlooked. Yes, Maxwell needed to step down so that, hopefully, someone with a different vision for the school system could take the helm, initiate an immediate house cleaning and put the ship back on course.

Tragically, those who have been hurt the most are the youth in the county’s public schools — from pre-K to high school seniors. Instead of being protected from potential predators, innocent children have been damaged, perhaps for years to come, in ways and to what extent we can only imagine. Meanwhile, some students unable to make the grade, have been allowed to move through the system rather than being provided with sorely-needed additional academic support so that they, upon graduation, have the essential skills needed in order to enter and succeed in the labor force or continue their education in America’s colleges and universities.

Everyone cannot be an “A” student or have the ability to score high marks on standardized test scores, but each child has his or her own unique gifts and skills. to their classrooms. We believe it would be wise for the next superintendent to place greater emphasis on identifying and utilizing strategies that allow for more children to gain self-confidence and greater competence in their studies, with less importance being placed on students’ scores on standardized tests.

Give teachers the kinds of they’ve continued to request so they can do their jobs, helping each of their students to learn, grow and find success. Perhaps, finally, we’ll see teachers finding the environment has been changed so more can do that for which they have been trained — teach.

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