Monthly Archives: October 2013

realizing your inner purpose.

…Something to think about….Moving Through Transitions with Grace

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As we journey down the road of life, let us always remember that it has many twists and turns in it and also some mountaintop and valley experiences. In the midst of all this, we MUST see God’s hand working throughout our lives.

Can we mess up God’s plan for our lives? Sort of yes, and sort of no. We will do things that are NOT God’s will; like sin, disobedience (which is sin), etc., that will get us off of God’s track for our lives. But the moment we repent and seek Him, He works us back into His plan and will for our lives.

We at Reform Sasscer Movement for Prince George’s County have been going through significant transitions lately, like most everyone we know. Change happens in all of our lives; it’s natural and necessary. But it’s uncomfortable, too. People are uneasy with the unknown and the unknown is a big part of transition — times where there are changes in a job, a relationship, a home, or the death of a loved one.

Transition is how we got to where we are today. The more we embrace these phases instead of rushing through them (or doing our best to run from them), the more we can experience them with grace and move through them with ease.

It does not matter whether we achieve our outer purpose, whether we fail or succeeed in the world. Why? As long as you haven’t realized your inner purpose, outer purpose is just a game that you may continue to play simply because you enjoy it. Its also possible to fail completely in your outer purpose and at the same time totally succeed in your inner purpose.. Or the other way round, which is actually more common; outer riches and inner POVERTY, or to gain the world and lose your soul, as Jesus puts it. Ultimately of course, every outer purpose is doomed to fail, sooner or later, simply because it is subject to the law of IMPERMANENCE of all things. The sooner you realize that your outer purpose cannot give you lasting fulfillment, the better. When you have seen the limitation of your outer purpose, you give up your unrealistic expectation that it should make you happy and make it subservient to your inner purpose.

In closing, over the years since starting Devotional, we want to say we have experienced many trials and lots of valley time; but through it all we know God is still God, He is still in control!!!

So whether things are looking bright or dark, remember God is ultimately in CONTROL!!!  Let God be God and allow Him to move in your life!

Your prayers are ALWAYS welcome and appreciated.

In His Service,

reformsasscer@gmail.com

Have a blessed weekend ahead.

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Former Interim Super now Interin in Alexanderia.

…Dr. Alvin Crawley pictured here almost abandoned ship at sea…

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Dr. Alvin Crawley who took off to the hills after HB 1107 was enacted into the law in Maryland has been selected to serve as Alexandria’s interim superintendent.

Alvin Crawley, who most recently was the interim superintendent in Prince George’s County, Maryland, will begin his appointment Monday. He will serve while the city searches for a permanent replacement. He has had a troubled tenure when several of our students died from violence in 2012, after he failed to perform the proper duties as a Superintendent. He was brought in specifically to cover up corruption by the previous regime which was then led by Dr. William Hite Jr.

According to Doris Reed (ASASP Director of the Prince George’s principals union), she was hoping for a change agent to take the reins of the school system when Hite left, Doris said Crawley’s leadership style during his short tenure did not live up to her expectations.

The Alexandria City school board bought out the contract of previous superintendent Morton Sherman in August amid conflicts between Sherman and the school board.

Sherman was the second consecutive superintendent whose contract was bought out by Alexandria. Rebecca Perry departed as superintendent in 2008 in the wake of an extended controversy over a drunk driving arrest.

Crawley spent most of his career in Arlington. He left Prince George’s County as control of the system shifted from the county board of education to the county executive Rushern Baker. >>> Read more Washington Post

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“We are building the plane as we fly it”

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Many of us have heard this expression hundreds of times. “We are building the plane as we fly it.”

Sometimes at staff development meetings, they show cartoon figures building a plane in mid-air.

Note that the engineers are wearing parachutes.

Note that the passengers–students and teachers–have no parachutes.

Bear in mind that the idea of building a plane as it is in mid-air is insane.

The next time you hear this expression, do one of these things:

Get up and walk out.

Hiss loudly (no one ever knows who is hissing).

Boo loudly (riskier than hissing).

Do not quietly sit by while your leader spouts idiotic platitudes.

This leads us to Baltimore County Superintendent Dallas Dance and what he did which troubled several parents while working closely with the Maryland State superintendent of schools Dr. Lillian Lowery.

As was widely reported elsewhere, Baltimore County Public Schools and Maryland State Department of Education held a Common Core forum recently. When a video was posted concerning Mr. Robert Small being arrested for asking a question out of turn at the local school board forum on Common Core, the video received national attention and garnered a million YouTube hits. Dr. Dallas Dance, the Baltimore County Public Schools superintendent and Dr. Lilian Lowery State Superintendent of schools were presiding over that meeting. (The charges against Robert Small were later dropped after a public outcry.)

In the meantime, Jason Schmidt of Beaverton, Oregon was inspired by the video and decided to stand up and not be “cattle”, to coin a phrase by Robert Small during the encounter. He took the photo shown here and posted it on a website for the cause.

With a rally cry of “Stop Common Core! Save our kids!” the concerned citizens of Beaverton School District held a protest last Thursday before a school board sponsored forum on Common Core. The protest was a success… Mr. Schmidt said in a post,

Here in Maryland, a Baltimore Sun article last week highlighted the perspective of Dr. Dallas Dance concerning complaints from teachers about the new curriculum and it contains the following passage:

Baltimore County Superintendent Dallas Dance acknowledged problems but expressed confidence the glitches would be worked out, and that teachers and students would adjust.

“We are building the plane as we fly it,” he said, adding, “but let’s be clear our passengers are safe.”

Insofar as what they’re doing is destined to fail – except to the extent that they are willfully destroying the public schools, in which case they are far too successful – the analogy holds.

Other than that, it would have been better to say they are building sweatshops/work camps, and using the heads of students and teachers as hammers.  A picture of such a plane as advocated by Dr. Dance and Dr. Lillian Lowery is insane, something one would say to discredit the whole operation not to credit it. Who would want to board such a plane having that kind of knowledge the plane might crush anytime?

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Baltimore County Superintendent Dallas Dance.

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Dr. Lillian M. Lowery Maryland State Superintendent  of schools has shown poor leadership skills in several ways and received an F grade for Common Core meetings recently.

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 (>>See the video <<)

Who’s minding the people…

…who are supposed to be minding the schools?

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chief executive of Options, Donna Montgomery

By Valerie Strauss, Published: October 3 at 5:00 am

Who’s minding the people who are supposed to be minding the schools? Let’s look at two debacles involving schools, one on the West Coast and one on the East, that are symptomatic of problems around the country. My colleague Emma Brown wrote in this story that  three former managers of the Options Public Charter School in Northeast Washington — the city’s oldest charter school — have been accused of enriching themselves with at least $3 million of public money that was supposed to be used to help some of the District’s most troubled teens and students with disabilities. The managers created for-profit companies that won contracts from the school and charged very high prices. A civil lawsuit alleges that they did this with the help of a senior official at the D.C. Public Charter School Board, which is a non-elected entity that has financial oversight over charter schools in the District of Columbia. Charter schools, which operate outside of the traditional public school district, have their own administration and boards. They now enroll more than 40 percent of D.C. students and get more than $500 million in public funds every year to operate. And it turns out, according to the lawsuit, that salary and bonuses for the chief executive, Donna Montgomery, during 2012-13 was at least $425,000, with her base salary at $240,000. Even the base salary is a lot of money for a school with about 400 students. Brown notes that Kaya Henderson is paid a base salary of $275,000 as chancellor of the traditional D.C. school system, which has about 45,000 students. Officials of the charter school board said they were sure that problems were limited to this one school. But look at the timeline of how the board came to know about the problems at Options. From Brown’s story:  >>>Read More Washington Post

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Superintendent John Deasy – Los Angeles Unified School District

Over on the West Coast, in the Los Angeles Unified School District, there’s an ongoing debacle with a $1 billion — yes $1 billion — initiative to get iPads for every student in the country’s second largest school system. There’s been one mistake after another. When the initial planning was done, everybody forgot about the keyboards that kids would need, an oversight which now could cost the district nearly $40 million.

Officials began distributing iPads to some schools and within a week, student hackers figured out to bypass the security system and kids began using the devices to check Facebook, download music and do other personal activities. The Los Angeles Times then reported that more than 70 iPads were “missing” from a pilot program.

And now, Steve Lopez of The Times wrote in this piece that he looked at some of the software programmed into the iPads by Pearson Education and he was less than impressed:

…For all the hype about students taking a magic carpet ride into the future on these tablets, I missed the wow factor. One eighth-grade math lesson included a video of some guy on a treadmill going faster and faster, with a question about how to graph his movement. But no matter how you answered, there was no feedback, and no right or wrong answer.

Lopez asks why school board members let Superintendent John Deasy make such a huge commitment without more oversight. One member, Steve Zimmer, told him that board members “are not equipped … to micromanage.” Wrote Lopez:

I’d have to disagree with him there.

We’re talking about a superintendent who’s in a race to spend $1 billion, counting bringing Wi-Fi to classrooms. And let’s not forget that Deasy was featured as a pitchman in a commercial for iPads, and Deputy Supt. Jaime Aquino (who just resigned in a snit over the tech implementation) once worked for the parent company of Pearson, the firm hired to provide curriculum for the iPads.

So, yeah, do some micromanaging. Hold people accountable. Ask questions.

 It makes you wonder who’s minding the minders.

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iPads initiative  – Los Angeles Unified School District

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They say you never know the worth of water until the well is dry.  We think that is what the article reveals has brought home the message we have been trying to convey here in Prince George’s County.  Seemingly little – but indispensable – things appear meaningless until they are lost. Gone. Our point is that the corruption cover up reports has dashed the sense of reform and mundane expectations. There is no doubt the men and women of the Prince George’s County Public schools (PGCPS) are heroic.

But there’s no longer the “guarantee” the government will give your loved ones credible – and unambiguous – answers should another catastrophe strike like what happened to previous county Executive Jack Johnson. Which begs the question – what went wrong, and we have the answers… what lessons have been learnt?  Whither from hither? Many of the old ways continue to linger in the some parts of the whole district even after pointing out the problems.

Sadly, it seems like there is a never-ending story along these lines nowadays; one embarrassing story after another.  It all boils down to greed and self entitlement.  Poor/handicapped children are being affected by these kind of schemes and there is a growing number of homeless youth. What will it take to stop this and other stories like this from happening again especially here in PG County?  If the management put the effort into helping the children who attend these schools instead of thinking up the schemes to bilk millions of dollars from the system, life will be so much better.

There is no question after reading the above article that, the charter school movement is being taken over by grifters.  When you see a group of legislators jumping on that bandwagon you can be pretty sure someone has plans to get rich using unorthodox means!  And all of you folks who sincerely believe that the free market has a solution to the problems of the public schools? Time will tell. Unless we get involved and demand answers, some of the people who actually get the contracts, are well connected to the leadership.

As time goes on and unless something is done to change the status quo, this illicit activity will continue unabated for many years to come; in the last few years especially here in Prince George’s County, we have seen officials and administrative personnel living lavish lifestyles beyond what they truly earn or deserve.

It is very sad that, this activity is peppered throughout Washington DC region.  Here in Prince George’s county, it was taken a notch higher by Mr. Jack Johnson (Previous PG county Executive) now serving jail time. However, it began with the Barry administration in Washington DC, getting exposed for lavish vacations of “Friends of Barry” in the Virgin Islands, to the fraud in The Department of Taxation, to this and even more in the future.

The Barry Ideology: “We, as a people, have suffered; and now we’re going to be rightfully paid for our suffrage.” Also known as: The Jesse Jackson Jr. Syndrome.

This illegal activity is not only affecting charter schools, small, semi-private special education schools and the Public schools are also affected.  Good, experienced administrators of these very complex entities are difficult to find, so it’s relatively easy for an unscrupulous and/or inept administrator to take over. The large salaries plus expensive benefits some of these people make while making their staff miserable and the students ill-served is truly despicable.  We must put an end to this. Our Districts deserve better and we must continue to demand more accountability and transparency in many regions, not just in Prince George’s County Public schools.

How do the unscrupulous administrators get away with it? The staff is generally held hostage during times when decent jobs are few, the parents are afraid to say anything even if they pick up on what is happening. A very good example in PGCPS is Monica Goldson and Thatcher Law Firm who are known to strike deals behind the scenes with corrupt BOE members.  For many special education parents and their children, the neighborhood school where corruption is taking place might be their last chance and so many might be scared stiff. Maryland State Board of Education is led by incompetent administrators and Board members whose oversight tends to be lax as most parents are just happy to have some place to send their children.

As indicated in the blog, “corporate education reform” every teacher is subjected to unbelievable micro-management based on being forced to teach using horrific cookie-cutter methodologies. And when they “fail,” they are tossed out and public schools are closed. Yet, nobody looks twice at those who set the horrific education policies. Superintendents basically do a lack-luster job (but as long as they follow corporate “education reform” they are “good”). And when they want to increase their salaries, they just leave their “destruction” behind and are able to tow the corporate line elsewhere for a much greater salary… think about what Dr. John  Deasy and William Hite Jr (both PG County Maryland!)  What did they do to their previous School District before they left? Teachers’ salaries get cut along with the pensions they pay more and more into but the “management” gets richer. Teachers ask the question nowadays… WHEN are they going to  be allowed to Teach!

“In order for schools to change, the central office has to change. We believe the best way the system can change is to trust educators to do their jobs. Hold them accountable, but trust them. The malignant and rotten cogs must be pulled out – root and branch – without pity. The cancer must be excised before it sinks deeper. This is one reason why we wanted a competent administrator to come in with the view of making proper changes.

As we move forward into the future, we suggest that multiple bodies carry out inquiries of what caused PGCPS MESS – so that no cover up is possible. The legislature must commence its own independent bi-partisan inquiry without any fear or favor.

Party affiliation, regional and ethnic biases, and power plays must be suspended to uncover what happened so that these problems do not revisit themselves. The Executive should not investigate itself. That’s why a judicial commission of inquiry into the PGCPS MESS must be convened pronto. This does not mean the executive and the security services should not do a penetrating investigation of what went wrong. They must.

In addition, whatever happens, the local county intelligence and security services must be depoliticized. There’s a perception that too much time is spent trailing dissidents and critics. What’s lost in translation is that critics are the backbone of democracy, not its nemesis. The time wasted on surveiling legitimate domestic political activists the world over only takes valuable resources away from tracking and preventing possible corrupt groups and other malevolent clusters.

We know that complete depoliticisation is not possible, but paranoia and harassment of genuine democracy activists must be a thing of the past. Professionalizing intelligence and security services – and the police – cannot be gainsaid.

They are key to preventing future problems of various kinds. This will require killing criminal and corrupt rackets within the state.

Moreover, the apex of the security state must have a streamlined structure with competent men and women in charge. The PGCPS MESS proved the exact opposite. Previous Board Chairperson and her successor either contradict each other, or seemed at sea.

While the measures we have outline here are a core necessity in any country or county wishing success of its citizenry, PG County must move into the future with the prospect of the youth and venerable PG County families in their mind for the wellbeing of the county.

Prince George’s county Board of Education and the Maryland State Department of Education should refrain from retaliatory activities by clamping down on civil liberties. PG County Executive Rushern Baker, Board Chairman Segun C. Eubanks, PGCPS CEO Dr. Kevin Maxwell, Maryland State Superintendent of School Lilian Lowery and others involved in management of public resources should banish all thoughts about ethnic profiling, racism, other forms of discriminatory conduct etc. To do so would fuel hatred among different ethnic groups like we have seen in the last few years. These illegal activities do not help anyone in the end. Let’s take the high road. That is how the Prince George’s county and the United States as whole will defeat poverty and corruption in the future!

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PGCPS Welcomes New Officer…

…For Diversity ~ will respond to the academic and social needs of the diverse ethnic groups of constituents.

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Maritza E. González, Ph.D.

UPPER MARLBORO, MD — Following our recent coverage concerning lack of diversity among top management in Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) and pressure from the Latino leaders,  PGCPS recently appointed Maritza E. González, Ph.D. to fill the key position of Officer for Diversity, Latino/a Affairs. In her new role, Dr. González will respond to the academic and social needs of the diverse ethnic groups of constituents served by the school system. She will also work to increase organizational awareness and develop communication and outreach strategies with a special focus on Latino children, parents and communities.  Reform Sasscer movement is particularly keen to see promotion of new initiatives by the new officer in bridging the gap to address  MS -13 problems and to increase transparency and communication. The delivery of services in the new era of accountability is not only important for our students but to the parents as well. >>> Read more PGCPS Press release. >> Washington post

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MSDE hosts Common Core forum…

…Chaos and poor leadership leave parents in the dark.

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Dr. Lillian M. Lowery Maryland State Superintendent  of schools has shown very poor leadership skills and received an F grade for Common Core meetings so far.

About 18 people protested outside the common core forum on October 1, 2013 hosted by the state Department of Education at Charles H. Flowers High School – Largo. Some of the protesters were carrying posters and distributing pamphlets from the Worcester County Tea Party  about “why [Common Core] is bad for your child, your family and for Americans.” Others from Baltimore, Montgomery and Prince George’s counties were protesting bad leadership of Dr. Lilian Lowery and the Maryland State Board of Education for lack of transparency and corruption.

Similar to the other sessions that have been held, there were outbursts inside the auditorioum from some who are opposed to the new standards. Others were opposed to the way the forum was being run. One parent repeatedly yelled for the Pledge of Allegiance to be done. Others tried to yell out follow-up questions which were ignored. The public was asked to submit their written questions, which would be answered by Lowery or local education officials present. The Maryland PTA President,  Dr. Lilian Lowery, Monica Goldson did not help with matters any how. They kept answering questions from a single person “Vicky” and these actions made the crowd more hostile.

There are critics on the left and the right to the new standards. Some on the left are opposed to standardized testing and some on the right consider it a federal takeover. “This is not a debate,” Lowery told the crowd before taking questions. “This is an informational session.”

One parent in the group said, “Maryland State Department of Education is a crumbling edifice, wrecked to the seams by corruption, bad leadership, ethnicism, racism, parochialism, sectarian intolerance and childish political recrimination.” He then concluded, is this America?

Superintendent of Schools Lillian Lowery  did mention though that “Common Core standards will bring consistency to the educational system, ensuring that the standards are the same whether a child lives in Maine or Maryland. She said the state has not changed curriculum. It has changed how subjects are taught. Maryland decided three years ago to join a consortium of states to do away with differing standards and creating new standardized tests to align with the standards.” However, she could not answer some of the questions and passed them on to her aides or Maryland PTA president.

No one was arrested, unlike an earlier forum when an Ellicott City parent interrupted Baltimore County School Superintendent Dallas Dance and complained that the new standards were not rigorous and were instead preparing students for community college not top universities.  Charges were later dropped against Robert Small, who was accused of  second-degree assault of a police officer and disturbing a school operation, after being escorted out of the forum by a police officer.

Many parents see the Maryland State Board of Education as a crumbling edifice, with massive corruption and characterised by bad leadership. There are no elections of the Maryland State Board of Education members, sweeping changes are made to our education system without parental input or notification or involvement of the legislature.  The biggest portion of our state budget goes to education, to the tune of nearly a BILLION dollars  and there are very few checks and balances to ward off corruption.  On this note, greater transparency and accountability is needed.

To make Maryland State Board of Education accountable, We must implement principles of good governance in order to provide clean and corruption-free Educational functions. In fighting corruption, the most important thing is prevention rather than punishment. Therefore this should be the main focus in the fight against corruption within the Maryland State Board of Education and elsewhere.  On this note, for an institution to foster a corruption-free environment, it would require strong leader to set an example for the rest of the officials. We feel that Dr. Lillian Lowery and Dr. Charlene Dukes (a previous board member in Prince George’s County public schools), are not role models to help with this transition after what they have done to others recently and they must go.

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Maryland State Board of Education President Dr. Charlene Dukes shown here has demonstrated corrupt leadership “a culture of pay to play” and manipulation.

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