EducationLocalPrince George's CountyWilliam J. Ford

Survey Gauges Leadership, State of Prince George’s School System

More than half of Prince George’s County residents, community leaders, educators and staff favor a school system leader who hires valuable employees, a new survey shows.

The document, compiled and organized by Schaumburg, Illinois-based Hazard, Young, Attea and Associates, collected 1,057 responses before Monica Goldson was appointed in June as the permanent CEO of Maryland’s second-largest school system.

According to the survey obtained by The Washington Informer, about 53 percent believe the new leader should “recruit, employ and retain effective personnel throughout the district and its schools.”

The second-highest quality at 48 percent chose that person to “establish a culture of high expectations for all students and personnel.”

The other two top-rated statements selected: foster a positive, professional climate of mutual trust and respect among faculty, staff and administrators at 44 percent, and provide transparent communication at 33 percent.

The other 12 survey statements and percentages included:

• Effectively plan and manage the long-term financial health of the district – ranked fifth at 32 percent.
• Be visible throughout the district and actively engaged in community life – tied for ninth at 22 percent.
• Integrate personalized education opportunities in the instructional program – ranked last at 14 percent.

Participants in the survey were broken into six groups: community members, members of the business/nonprofit community, parents of student attending school, school employees, students and teachers.

Parents with children who attend the public schools had the highest number of participants at 312. Community members made up the second-largest group at 305, and 213 teachers marked the third-highest.

Though only 42 students participated in the survey, exactly 50 percent of them said the new schools leader should “understand and be sensitive to the needs of a diverse student population.” It ranked as the highest percentage among that group recorded in the leadership profile.

The survey also sought respondents to rate the state of the school system based on vision and values, teaching and learning, community engagement and management. About 79 percent of students strongly agree or agree that “technology is integrated into the classroom.” That percentage marked the highest figure recorded for any statement.

In terms of whether “the district is heading in the right direction,” 71 percent of school employees strongly agree or agree. However, only 36 percent of community members and 31 percent of students shared that sentiment.

Tamara McKinney of Lanham remains upset with the school system after an incident this year with her granddaughter, age 7 at the time, who brought “play money” to her elementary school.

McKinney said school administrators called it “counterfeit” and involved the police. Her granddaughter and other children weren’t questioned or charged with an offense.

“The school called the police instead of the school handling this,'” she said. “I’m like, ‘Hold up. This doesn’t make no sense.’ I just know I’m sick and tired of Black folks getting into positions and not making positive changes.”

Goldson reassured better communication between school and security personnel.

“This is where our security officers truly focus on abiding by the law,” she said. “This is also where I am hoping and requiring that we’ll have security staff who get to know our students who realize that … going directly to security services [is] not always the alternative. At the end of the day, it still stems back that these our elementary students.”

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William J. Ford – Washington Informer Staff Writer

I decided I wanted to become a better writer while attending Bowie State University and figured that writing for the school newspaper would help. I’m not sure how much it helped, but I enjoyed it so much I decided to keep on doing it, which I still thoroughly enjoy 20 years later. If I weren’t a journalist, I would coach youth basketball. Actually, I still play basketball, or at least try to play, once a week. My kryptonite is peanut butter. What makes me happy – seeing my son and two godchildren grow up. On the other hand, a bad call made by an official during a football or basketball game makes me throw up my hands and scream. Favorite foods include pancakes and scrambled eggs which I could eat 24-7. The strangest thing that’s ever happened to me, or more accurately the most painful, was when I was hit by a car on Lancaster Avenue in Philadelphia. If I had the power or money to change the world, I’d make sure everyone had three meals a day. And while I don’t have a motto or favorite quote, I continue to laugh which keeps me from driving myself crazy. You can reach me several ways: Twitter @jabariwill, Instagram will_iam.ford2281 or e-mail, wford@washingtoninformer.com

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