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Saturday, June 23, 2007

Del. Benson blasts school board

(Posted 23 Jun 2007)
A violin and a rant at county school board meeting.
Gazette, 14 Jun 2007
A local lawmaker’s lecture was followed by the melodic sounds of a classical music interlude at a recent school board meeting.

Prince George’s school board members presided over a colorful round of public participation before their June 7 work session, including a seven-minute string of criticism from Del. Joanne Benson (D-Dist. 24) of Landover.

Benson, who was not on the list of speakers during the public session – and who breached the strict code of three-minute comments to board members – spoke in support of Ernest Everett Just Middle School’s plea for an International Baccalaureate (IB) program next year.

Then she let the board have it.

In a lecture meandering through several educational topics, Benson told the board she was furious that Prince George’s Community College was the home of the county’s GED (high school equivalency) program.

‘‘What about those in Brandywine and Clinton and Beltsville?” she said, pointing out the centrally located PGCC could be inaccessible to students on the edges of Prince George’s.

Benson told a detailed story of her neighbors, which included a 19-year-old man who was kicked out of a Prince George’s public high school and was struggling to find a job. She demanded the board look into teaming up with local unions to place young people in the workforce. Providing jobs for young adults, Benson said, was the key to cutting down crime and poverty in the county.

‘‘We are a Mecca,” Benson concluded. ‘‘The eyes of the nation are on Prince George’s County.”

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