By all estimations the stock market hit its bottom for this recession in March 2009. The rate of homeowners losing, and/or walking away from their “American Dream”, their homes here in Prince George’s County, peaked during the same period. No one has to remind our community that times are hard with unemployment hovering around 10%. Pain of excess, miscalculation, and in some cases greed and ignorance, have conspired to create the crisis of our generation. Martin Luther King said, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy." Judging by my conversations with Prince Georgians throughout District 6, the general thinking is that challenging and controversial time are here now. Allow me to suggest a few focused priorities that will help us rise up and stand tall in the wake of these challenged times.
Please indulge my attempt to over simplify the commonly used term you will hear tossed around by everyone running for any office over the next several months, “economic development”. Economic development refers to a sustainable increase in living standards. Sustainable is best measured by:
Year to year growth
Safety in your community;
Attracting and keeping homesteaders and businesses…
Ask yourself, how are we doing? More importantly, let me try to offer some sincere focus on the most critical step that will clearly solidify the foundation of our economic growth and ultimately provide Prince Georgians the quality of life we expect.
Re-Balance our Education Portfolio – The biggest factor in attracting homeowners and businesses is having a competitive, world-class educational system. Our current reality significantly reduces our leverage in a region that features other regional opportunities in other counties in Maryland, D.C., and Virginia. Educational research clearly defines the priorities in our course of action, we must be resolved to invest in them fully and demand the type of accountability warranted for the level of investment! Let me restate the immediate needs:
Invest in Universal Pre-K;
Keep class sizes below 25:1;
Compete to attract and maintain the best and brightest teachers and administrators; Increased and renewed PARENT involvement!
Everything that we discuss as economic development rises and falls on the betterment of our school system, ultimately resulting in its return to a level of competitiveness. In addition to the classroom level necessities discussed above, consistent and effective executive management & leadership is a must and is a common in the neighboring jurisdictions with whom compare and compete for economic viability. Our expectations are comparatively as high as those in the other jurisdictions however our efforts for over the past 20 plus years on the issues above simply do not match!