John Richardson (left) and K. Alexander Wallace (Right)
FORESTVILLE – The race for the Prince George’s County Board of Education District 7 seat pits an educator against a former Prince George’s County Public Schools (PCGPS) former student and incumbent board member.
On Election Day, residents of District 7 will have to choose between K. Alexander Wallace, the incumbent who was previously appointed to the seat, and John Richardson, a more than 17-year veteran educator and a current employee of PGCPS transportation office.
Although Wallace was appointed to his position by County Executive Rushern Baker, III last year after Lyn Mundey left the board, he had put his name in to run for the seat well before that. However, both candidates have failed to respond on questions concerning corruption in the county and how they plan to address the issues within PGCPS in order to improve governance.
“Shortly after I ran in 2014 and lost in the primary, I made a conscious decision to reevaluate where my talents would best be suited, and I stumbled upon that idea of serving not only the school system I graduated from but also the direct communities in which I grew up in,” Wallace said according to sentinel. “So I was literally the first candidate to sign up at the board of elections in early 2015.”
Wallace, 25, is a graduate of Dr. Henry A. Wise, Jr. High School and has served in his position for approximately a year, but it has been a year rife with big decisions and large controversy for the school system. However, Wallace said he has proven an effective board member.
He points to the changed perception of the District 7 seat, which the previous three holders had left in a cloud of controversy; his work on refocusing the board’s outlook on school construction, particularly in regards to Suitland High School’s priority ranking; and his work on engaging alumni.
Wallace attended Towson University before joining the Education Trust and earning his master’s from University of Maryland Baltimore County. He has worked for state Sen. Ulysses Currie as well as former Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, where he focused on education-based issues and public policy.
“I have years of experience in the three core areas that a board should be focused on: public policy, governing our budget and community engagement,” he said.
Richardson, 52, ran for the board seat previously as well and also has a long resume of experience in educational endeavors, including nearly two decades of teaching and educational administration in the District of Columbia, two decades of ministry and as a religious educator. He has also served as a coach and athletic director and served Sen. Currie as a constituent services liaison.
He also served in the United States Marines before attending the University of the District of Columbia and later obtaining his Master of Education at National Louis University.
“My background in education is extensive,” Richardson said. “I’ve been working with youth for a long time. I also taught night school, where I taught adults for two and half years. So my experience is a little more than 17 years.”
Some of the main focuses for Richardson include fighting for “excellence in academic achievement and improving the communication between central office, parents and the community at large.” He wants to focus particularly on improving the ninth grade promotion rate, creating equity in pay for teachers, improving parental involvement, and foster partnering with the county government to create low-cost housing for teachers and county first responders.
“Some people say that’s not really in your scope as a board member, but I can fight for that,” he said.
Wallace, on the other hand, wants to focus on six points that build off his work on the board. He wants to continue engaging PGCPS alumni, create a better focus on school construction, create a partnership with county government to supply internships to county high school students, and combat cyberbullying. He also wants to initiate a “solutions not suspensions” program where students who commit non-violent, non-sexual offenses in school complete community service instead of serve detention.
Like Richardson, Wallace also wants to focus heavily on educator retention.
“We want to make sure they’re not only supported through professional development and career development and they can see a trajectory in our school system of promotion,” Wallace said. “But to, quite honestly, just make sure their classrooms are not too oversized and that they’re paid comparably to their counterparts in neighboring jurisdictions.”
At the end of the day, Wallace said, he feels he is the best candidate for the District 7 seat because of the amount of work he has already done in the education realm and because of his vision for PGCPS.
Richardson also believes his experience qualifies him as the best candidate.
“I confidently and humbly believe that I am the better candidate, that my professional and life experience, as well as working in the community, has prepared me to be an effective representative on the board of education,” Richardson said.
Prince George’s County voters are encouraged to elect Board of Education members with highest levels of ethics to help improve the county and create transparency. Forces of Corruption will not work if the voters are engaged to create better outcomes.