School Superintendent Carey Wright, who came to Maryland from Mississippi after raising literacy rates, acknowledges that Maryland鈥檚 educator workforce has looked essentially the same over past years and plans new efforts to increase diversity and inclusion for teachers of color. (Courtesy of Maryland State Department of Education)
School Superintendent Carey Wright, who came to Maryland from Mississippi after raising literacy rates, acknowledges that Maryland鈥檚 educator workforce has looked essentially the same over past years and plans new efforts to increase diversity and inclusion for teachers of color. (Courtesy of Maryland State Department of Education)

Superintendent Wright Plans to Increase Diversity Among Maryland Educators

, 68% of classroom teachers are white, while roughly 20% are Black and about 5% are Latino or Asian. With similar state data from five years ago, Maryland  Superintendent Carey Wright is questioning the effectiveness of efforts in recent years to diversify the educator pipeline and retain teachers of color.

鈥淚t鈥檚 got to be a conscious effort,鈥 said Wright during a break at the most recent state Board of Education meeting. 鈥淎re we really going into our HBCUs? Are we recruiting? What do those techniques look like? We aren鈥檛 producing enough of those candidates in house, so we鈥檝e got to be thinking about what else are we going to do.鈥 

Maryland State Education Association (MSEA) President Cheryl Bost also provided quotes from unnamed educators to show that teachers of color were often , such as Black teachers who were asked to assist in situations involving Black students.

鈥淭his lack of diversity among educators works to deepen existing opportunity gaps, experienced disproportionately by low-income communities of color. Research shows that increased teacher diversity fosters cultural competency across faculty, improves students鈥 academic achievement and self-perception, and increases the likelihood of college enrollment,鈥 read the intro to a by Jayla Hart on Maryland鈥檚 teachers. 鈥淚n school systems that lack diversity among educators, such benefits are withheld largely from students of color who, even when composing the majority of the school population, are less likely to see them represented in the classroom or in school leadership.鈥

The top two school systems for teachers of color are Prince George鈥檚 (79% of teachers) and Baltimore City (61%) while Montgomery County (31%) lags behind the state average. In the past few years, the number of Black first-year teachers and is now over 30% of new teachers.

Bowie State University to Host Commencement

Students at Maryland鈥檚 oldest historically Black university and Prince George鈥檚 County Public Schools are crossing the stage this week with their diplomas and preparing for new opportunities ahead.

On May 24, an students graduated from Bowie State University. This year, Wanda Durant, president of Durant Family Charitable Foundation, served as the keynote speaker. The foundation previously provided a $500,000 gift to Bowie State to renovate the school鈥檚 basketball court and add new seating.

During the ribbon cutting for the court last year, Durant emphasized the importance of giving back to historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs).

鈥淲hen I sit back and think about my son playing in this very gym at age 9, I never thought I鈥檇 be here this day. I remember the many years I brought my sons here to play, sitting up in the bleachers and hollering at the referees. I never thought it would come to this,鈥 said Durant. 鈥淚鈥檓 grateful that he realized that it鈥檚 important for him to give back to an HBCU, and maybe he can be a catalyst for other athletes throughout the country to give back to HBCUs.鈥

Bowie State students, such as Aaron Johnson, talked about the strong education the local historically Black institution provided. 

鈥淚t was no way I was going to afford going to those art schools,鈥 said Johnson, a graduate from Accokeek who just completed his degree in advertising design and is soon going to do creative marketing with Disney. 鈥淚 was like 鈥業 have to find somewhere to go.鈥  I found Bowie State had an animation program.  And sure enough, I got in.鈥

The 番茄社区app has previously covered Bowie State鈥檚 commencement; read more here and here. A schedule of all PGCPS graduations is available .

Local Alpha Kappa Alpha Chapter Hosts Scholarship Fundraiser

In partnership with Oxon Hill鈥檚 Chipotle Mexican Grill, the (SPGCCC) is hosting a scholarship fundraiser on June 1 from 4 to 8p.m.

The SPGCCC is the non-profit arm of Alpha Kappa Alpha (AKA) Sorority鈥檚, Upsilon Tau Omega Chapter, and  all students residing in or attending high school in Council Districts 8 and 9 are eligible for the scholarship.

鈥淲e are excited to partner with Chipotle to raise funds for college scholarships,鈥 said SPGCCC president Quindella Fletcher. 鈥淲e want to provide students in our community the opportunity to  pursue a college degree.鈥

The 番茄社区app has previously written about local AKA chapters鈥 community efforts. Read more here and here.

Three PGCPS Schools Scheduled for Turf Fields

During a meeting with the Board of Education on May 6, Will Smith, project manager for turf fields for Prince George鈥檚 County Public Schools (PGCPS), said that DuVal, Frederick Douglass, and Crossland High Schools are all due to receive upgrades to their grass fields. However, a lack of funding and climate change policy may delay these changes for years.

Smith told the Board that stadium upgrades can take up to two years and cost as much as $7.5 million, while renovating a grass field starts at about $400,000 before factoring in other costs and grounds keeping duties.

鈥淭here are not just environmental impacts with turf fields, but potential health impacts,鈥 said Council Chair Jolene Ivey (D-District 5) regarding the potential negatives of switching to turf. 鈥淚f it鈥檚 very hot out, the kids can鈥檛 use it, and the fumes that come off of it can be an issue.鈥 

A study by Dr. Calvin Hwang of Stanford found that injuries were on grass than turf. Further, many former and current athletes and members of the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) advocate for natural grass over turf. 

County Councilmember Eric Olson (D- District 3) agreed with Ivey, and supports the idea of expanding grass at Parkdale High School to replace their gravel field. 

Currently, 10 county high schools have grass fields. Laurel is the next school expected to finish adding grass to their school鈥檚 athletic grounds. Central, Friendly, Parkdale and Largo are the next round of schools anticipating turf following the three currently waiting. 

County Councilmember Wala Blegay (D- District 6) explained that Largo鈥檚 recent athletic success should advance their implementation timeline, but PGCPS Superintendent Dr. Millard House II emphasized that no matter how well a school is doing athletically, implementing changes for the most ideal fields should be a key priority.

鈥淚 think regardless of whether a school is winning a championship or not, we want to provide students with the best,鈥 said House, adding that the timeline for implementation was set on an equity basis.

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