Although Prince George’s County voters have the last say to who represents them, some endorsements help them choose from among the candidates.
That’s why the county’s teacher’s union, one of its most visible organizations, will host an information session Thursday, Aug. 10 at its headquarters in Forestville to review its endorsement process for those running for state senator, state delegate, county executive, county council and school board.
Union President Theresa Dudley Mitchell said one priority, at least for the new county executive in office next year, would be additional support toward restorative practices in the school system. This year’s fiscal budget provides for nearly $130,000 for a district coordinator to oversee a pilot program where educators learn from a social justice viewpoint on how to help students handle conflicts.
“I think that’s real important for a lot of our African-American males and Latino males who get caught up doing something stupid and don’t really understand the ramifications of their actions,” Dudley Mitchell said last month after State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrooks declared her candidacy for county executive. “It would be wonderful to have a county executive who understands that program needs to be fully funded.”
The union endorsed four school board candidates age 25 and younger during last year’s general election. Three of them won and another ran uncontested.
The election cycle comes as an independent investigator hired by the Maryland Board of Education looks into allegations the Prince George’s school system allegedly boosted grades to increase the county’s graduation rates.
Belinda Queen-Howard, who’s running for the District 6 school board seat, supports the investigation.
“We have to hold the state accountable, as well,” said Queen-Howard, a member of the county’s Democratic Central Committee. “It is the state’s responsibility to know what is going on in every school system. The state should have been asking for an inquiry.”
School board Vice Chairwoman Carolyn Boston, who was appointed to the board in 2013 and represents District 6 with some schools in Capitol Heights, Landover and Largo, didn’t respond to requests for comment.
A law passed by the state four years ago allows the county executive to appoint the chair, vice chair and another person on the board. The county council can appoint a fourth member, according to the rule.
After the school system faced allegations of child abuse in the schools and a federal agency stripped more than $6 million toward a Head Start program last year, the board hasn’t been unified.
Alsobrooks declined to take a stance on the board structure topic in an interview last month, but said her educational priorities and proposals focus on children.
State Sen. C. Anthony Muse (D-District 26) of Accokeek, who’s also seeking the county executive seat, said in June that he plans to present legislation in the Maryland General Assembly next year to have all 12 school board representatives elected. The 13th member, an 11th or 12th grade student, is chosen by a countywide student government association.
Queen-Howard agrees with Muse.
“If you get appointed by a person, then you feel like you owe that person something,” she said. “[Appointees] are not really accountable to the people.”