Students plan protest of cutbacks in AP test funding Thursday

Outraged Prince George's students plan to protest outside the School Board meeting Thursday over the cutback in funding of AP tests.

/PM BlogSpace Report/ Prince George’s schools have announced that because of budget cuts they will no longer pay for AP tests for all students who take Advanced Placement courses in the county’s school system, spurring petitions and a protest Thursday, Oct. 13.

The tests cost more than $90 apiece and for students taking several AP courses – or for families with more than one AP student in the schools – that can mount up. Students who are not receiving free or reduced-price meals at school will have to pay for the tests.

Student School Board Member (and Progressive Maryland member) Juwan Blocker said students are outraged. Blocker, a senior at Parkdale HS, said an online petition against the move is launched and students and their allies would mass for Thursday’s School Board meeting to protest the move.

About 64 percent of the county’s 129,000 students are receiving free or reduced price meals. About 36 percent, if they are taking AP courses, will have to foot the bill for their tests. A schools system spokesperson told media that students who scored 3, 4, or 5 on the test would also have their testing paid for.

The schools system argued in a letter to parents that recent budget cuts have caused this cutback from full funding of AP tests. The school system got less than requested from the County Council’s budget this fiscal year, though more than last year. Fully funding the tests costs the schools about a half-million dollars.

In a post on his Facebook page, State Sen. Anthony Muse D-26th said “This is a shame. Parents have to absorb this half million dollar budget , so called shortfall. Yet we are pushing for two more council persons to be be added to our county budget [a]t a cost of 1 million dollars which we do not need. . The CEO is paid over 300 thousand dollars a year . He has more hired executive staff then any county , costing millions of dollars, but we are going to make students pay for exams. What kind of nonsense is this. This is not good for our County nor fair to our students.”

Muse was referring to ballot Question D, which proposes two additional Prince George’s council members and is estimated to cost a million dollars a year when implemented. It will be voted on in the Nov. 8 election.