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O'Malley signs Prince George's education reform bill

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Published on: Tuesday, April 16, 2013

By Alexis A. Goring

Education reform legislation was recently signed by Gov. Martin O’Malley and the search is on for a new leader equipped to conquer the challenges in the system of Prince George’s County Public Schools.

The school system, which has about 124,000 students, has been through six superintendents in 10 years.

“The person who’s got the greatest impact on the school system is the superintendent, and what this legislation did was to create an environment where that person — the superintendent — can be successful,” said Brad Frome, deputy chief of staff for County Executive Rushern Baker.

Frome is not making any promises, but he does think that this new legislation is steering the county’s school system in the right direction.

“It starts a process that we think is going to better position ourselves and the school system for success,” Frome said. “It’s putting in place different ways in going about how we put people in the position of leadership in the school system and then over time, we believe it will lead to success.”

However, not everybody is happy with this change in school governance.

“I felt that the district if able to continue to do the things we’re doing — we were making real progress in terms of student achievement and academics — we still had a long ways to go but we were in progress,” said Lewis Robinson, director of the Prince George’s County Educator’s Association. “I’m concerned now that this kind of seat change that will create a major change in the government structure of the district and could in fact impede that progress that we were making.”

Robinson attended the General Assembly Session in Annapolis where legislators heard testimony from community members prior to the passing of the new education reform.

“Everyone had an opinion about what they believe,” Robinson said of the hearings. “We obviously had differing opinions in terms of what we believe is the best way to continue making progress.”

Robinson does not think the new education reform legislation will make progress in terms of improving the county’s school system because it’s not a good idea for the students.

“We opposed it and we did not think that the proposal itself was kid-centered, and we just didn’t find anything in the bill as it was proposed that really spoke to academic achievement, performance and improving instruction,” he said.

However, Robinson said he has accepted the outcome and new reality.

“I’m disappointed in the outcome, but it’s nothing I can change at this particular point,” he said. “But we’ll have to adapt and adjust to whatever this new configuration or design of governance is.”

Baker’s plan to appoint a chief executive officer to helm the school system will go into effect on June 1.

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