Belinda Queen, member of the Prince George’s County Democratic Central Committee and resident of Capitol Heights, Md., wants to be the next Board of Education member representing District 6. Queen told the AFRO she is ready for the political promotion.
“A good solid education is paramount to a child’s development into adulthood,” Queen said. “We must put our kids first, for a change, so that they mature to become productive members of society. Gaining knowledge makes a young child become an asset to their community and the world at large, because it gives them the ability to understand and interpret issues correctly and devise workable solutions.
“Education helps shape future leaders; this is why it is extremely important that we invest in the education of our children.” Queen told the AFRO.
Queen is a native of Fairmount Heights, Md., and a graduate of Northwestern High School. She studied accounting and finance at Strayer University. She is a committed homemaker and makes money by selling Avon products, working as a notary public, and preparing taxes.
It is her passion for the central Prince George’s County area that has made Queen known throughout the county. She was elected to the county’s Democratic Central Committee in 2014 and is the secretary of the Maryland Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, and the vice president of the Coalition of Central Prince George’s County Community Organizations.
Queen, a graduate of the Prince George’s County Citizens Police Academy, is known locally for her coffee club sessions with law enforcement officers and political leaders at the Woodmore Town Center Wegmans in Glenarden, Maryland, that takes place every first Wednesday of the month. She also is active with the 202 Coalition, a citizens group led by Maryland State Sen. Joanne Benson (D-District 24) that holds its meetings the last Monday of the month at the St. Margaret’s Church in Seat Pleasant, Md.
Queen said serving the community is what she learned as a child. “My grandmother, Mable Luckett, use to take me to meetings in Fairmount Heights all the time,” Queen said. “My grandmother used to help people pay their rent; she would buy them food and do anything she could to help people in Fairmount Heights. I can remember people coming up to her later in her life and saying they graduated from high school because of her.”
Queen said that community and elected leaders in Prince George’s County are not in touch with the people. She said that many leaders in the county cannot seem to relate to the younger generations.
“I am a parent, grandparent, step-mother and foster parent,” Queen said. “I have seen what children have gone through in their lives and the bad things that happen to them. What happens to them in the home affects their ability to learn and I am prepared to be the voice of children, parents and the community on the Board of Education to articulate their interests.”
Queen wants to make sure the Board of Education is more transparent in its dealing with the public. She wants the Board to tell the public both the good and the bad and she wants the good work in the school system to continue and the bad things to be corrected.
The Prince George’s County school system is one of the nation’s largest with an enrollment of 128,907 with a 61.4 percent Black student population, a $1.8 billion budget, and 19,000 employees. The Prince George’s school system is the second largest in Maryland, surpassed by neighboring Montgomery County’s public school system.
Despite Prince George’s County having the well-known distinction of being the most affluent Black jurisdiction in the country, 63.8 percent of all students are on free and/or reduced lunch.
There are 25 schools in District 6 that range from elementary to high school. On the Maryland School Assessment tests, District 6 posts reading and math passing rates of 72.58 percent while the county’s rate is 74.85 percent and District 6 seniors passing rates on the test are 76.6 percent while the county’s rate is 79.6 percent. District 6 covers schools in such areas as Seat Pleasant, Capitol Heights, Mitchellville, Largo, Landover and parts of Upper Marlboro.
The present Board of Education member, Carolyn Boston, is running for re-election. Among others in the race are longtime political activist Pat Fletcher, and education advocate Anthony Triplin.
The election for board of education members takes place Nov. 6.
Queen wants to raise the pay of teachers in the school system so they can be competitive with other jurisdictions in the Washington, D.C. area.
“I want our teachers not to be distracted with trying to live well and have them focus on teaching our babies,” she said. She also wants the classroom itself to be more technologically developed, saying that the day of the chalkboard is over and teachers should be engaging their students electronically.
“I will work toward the day when a parent wants to see what is going on in their child’s classroom, they will be able to click on the computer or i-device and do it remotely,” Queen said.
Moreover, Queen wants the focus of the school system to be on the needs of the students, not the sex or grading scandals that have been in the news lately.
“Our children have great minds and they can do great things if they have the tools and the resources of the school system behind them,” she said.
Gloria Sistrunk has lived in Seat Pleasant since the mid-1960s and is a member of the city council. Sistrunk told the AFRO that she has watched Queen over the years in the community and particularly at 202 Coalition meetings. “Belinda Queen is all over the place,” Sistrunk said. “She is a very hard-working individual and cares about the community. Everyone knows of the
outstanding work she has done with the coffee club at Wegmans. She knows everything that is going on. She has the energy and the knowledge to be a good person on the school board. I definitely would support her.”