In recent decades, Prince George's County's public education system has suffered from a lack of confidence and inadequate support on the part of citizens and elected officials alike. The injection of massive amounts of state education aid since 2003 and full funding of the fiscal 2007 and 2008 public school budgets by the county government have moved the school system closer to "adequacy"--the amount needed to provide students an education consistent with state and national standards.
Most county elected officials and business leaders understand that the performance and reputation of Prince George's public education institutions are critical to economic and social progress. The Prince George's Business-Education Alliance was created in January 2004 with the express purpose of increasing support for the schools and Prince George's Community College (PGCC) and improving public perceptions of both.
Until implementation of the recommendations of the Thornton Commission through the Bridge to Excellence in Public Schools Act of 2002, the Prince George's County Public Schools (PGCPS) had suffered from chronic under-funding for a quarter century. The resulting resource shortage took an enormous toll. The school system had difficulty recruiting and retaining talented teachers and administrators; a large number of teachers lacked certification; while several new schools were built and construction of others was scheduled, numerous facilities remained overcrowded, and many older buildings were sorely in need of repair and modernization.
Unfortunately, even with the infusion of hundreds of millions of dollars in state aid, many of these problems remain. Voter-imposed tax limitations restrict the county's ability to raise its own revenues for education and other critical needs. The consequence is that Prince George's County contributes the smallest share of the public schools budget from its own revenues of any large county in Maryland. The same pattern pertains to PGCC, which receives proportionately fewer county dollars than any of its sister institutions around the state.
Since its founding, the Prince George's Business-Education Alliance has worked to correct the education funding problem at both the state and county levels, and to educate the public about the need for additional investment in the schools and PGCC. In 2004, in concert with other groups, the Alliance was successful in getting the Maryland General Assembly to guarantee full funding of the mandatory provisions of the Bridge to Excellence Act. In each subsequent legislative session, the Alliance has pursued a vigorous agenda on behalf of PGCPS and PGCC.
As a result, Thornton funding has stayed on track; school construction and renovation funding has increased significantly; the Board of Education gained the authority to rehire retired teachers in critical disciplines to work in schools with academic deficits; and Prince George's Community College garnered additional state support for its operating budget and for capital construction.
The business community has an obvious stake in the growth and vitality of Prince George's County, and we know that the quality of public education is a principal factor in attracting new businesses and promoting economic development. However, as good citizens, we also care about the children of this county and want to ensure that they receive a world-class education, from kindergarten through college.
The Alliance has issued a number of reports on state funding trends, actions by the General Assembly, and the Bridge to Excellence Act. In addition, in 2005 we published Investing in Our Future: Education and the Economy in Prince George's County. This report, which grew out of the first Prince George's Business-Education Summit, conducted by the Alliance in December 2004, documents the potential of Prince George's County and identifies the steps needed to fulfill that promise.
All reports are available on the Research page of this website.
The links below will take you to information on current issues critical to our students and our schools.