Monthly Archives: February 2014

Essential Sacrifice for self, Country, Future.

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Sacrifice is essential in our lives, we actually win by sacrifice, but we must be careful what type of sacrifice we make- People who are willing to trade their freedom for temporary security deserve neither and loses both. Take for instance a person who bribes with money or flattery to gain favors or a woman who uses her body to gain favors or get promoted, such sacrifices leads one into a loser eventually. Any sacrifice that goes against sound morals and virtues, is a sin. For Example, Flawed procurement process, irregular hiring of public officials and poor management of public funds as witnessed here in Prince George’s County  have the risk of grinding Prince George’s County’s economy to a halt.

As we begin this week, lawsuits filed in Federal court highlight high levels of corruption and discrimination within the county and the state level. Some of these unethical practices continues to occur despite the lawsuits both at the County and the state central levels of the school systems according to the information received recently by concerned employees. The anonymous concerned Personnel now warn that the disregard of the law by public officials at the State and local levels of Government could have dire effects on the State and County economy many years to come. Persistent issues of under-development; high unemployment rate, increasing inequality, poverty and high inflationary pressures continue to impact negatively on the economy locally.

Success achieved through exploitation of the poor, oppressed or ignorant, is injustice and is sinful. When it is necessary to succeed in order to feed insatiable greed or lust, such success deserves to be rebuked. Success is noblest when it leaves you with the self-respect that you have been a good steward of life, morals, virtues, liberties, possibilities and opportunities that God offered to you.

The single quality that more than anything else identifies those who succeed is patience.

Impatient dreamers will look for painless shortcuts and cheap discounts on the price of success and fail to spot the expedient paths, unknowing, impatient dreamers will too often, too easily and too painfully turn away from the divine dream. Later when its too late they will discover that in choosing the painless, easy road they were in fact going down a primrose path to boredom, shame, emptiness, failure, poverty. If only they had not been afraid of the discipline that the dream demanded.

The merge of the Prince George’s County government to control the county school system via hybrid Board of Education led by a CEO, without enough checks and balances while controlling over a billion dollar budget have raised pertinent questions in meeting constitutional provisions.

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USA: 25 charged in fraud involving home care in DC…

…many from Prince George’s County

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WASHINGTON (AP) – Twenty-five people were charged Thursday with obtaining at least $75 million in fraudulent Medicaid payments from the District of Columbia government, a series of cases that federal prosecutors said added up to the largest health-care fraud in the city’s history. >>>Read more WTOP  CBS  See >>VIDEO

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The 6 People Who Taught the World…

…How To Teach

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Educators today often use a variety of pedagogical styles. Some are old, some are new(er), and some folks are out there innovating and trying new stuff of their own creation. While most teachers out there are probably piecing together a little bit of something with a touch of something else – different strokes for different folks, right? – There are some folks out there that we have to thank for some of the more common concrete pedagogical styles.

Many of us are familiar with the pedagogical concepts, but the people behind them are often less well-known. Take a look at the information below – it highlights six individuals that have made major contributions to what we modern people know as pedagogy. Keep reading to learn more.

The People of Pedagogy

Many of you have probably heard of their work, but you may not know about the person behind the pedagogy. Here’s a quick bit of information gathered on six contributors to pedagogy.

Lev Vygotsky

The Zone of Proximal Development distinguishes what a learner can do with and without help, eventually leading to the notion of scaffolding.

Jean Piaget

The Theory Of Cognitive Development articulates the mind’s typical stages of growth. It helps to understand student’s perspectives and understand what is needed to advance their learning.

Jerome Bruner

Bruner coined the term ‘scaffolding‘ as he conducted cognitive and developmental studies in psychology. Understanding how the mind works helps guide instructional design.

Benjamin Bloom

Although he didn’t create the now-famous Bloom’s Taxonomy, he did the vital work of studying and classifying stages in pursuit of mastery learning.

Howard Gardner

Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences describes various forms of mental capacity (not to be confused with the ever-polarizing topic of learning styles!). Its a framework that describes patterns of how information is processed (not how it is initially acquired).

Erik Erikson

Erikson’s Theory of Psychosocial Development serves as a roadmap of the eight stages a typical person follows as they develop. These stages give insight into student’s driving impulses at each stage of their education.

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Discrimination lawsuits in federal court starts shortly.

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Three Employees who worked for Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) at Largo High School take their racial discrimination lawsuit to federal court on Tuesday February 25th, 2014 at 10am, opening a 1-week civil trial for violating Title VI of civil rights act. The plaintiffs, who seek unspecified damages, are among more than 1000 people who made racial discrimination claims against PGCPS, which is the county’s largest employer. They accused the State agency of allowing a hostile work environment, filled with slurs, nooses and threatening graffiti among other issues.

Jury selection has already been done to help deliberate on lawsuits. Mr. Everhart, Tracy Allison and Dr. Ruth Johnson claims they were retaliated against when they reported what they believed were inappropriate acts by the administration of former Superintendent Dr. William Hite Jr and that PGCPS engaged in reverse discrimination and outright discrimination including to the people of color.

During the trial, Plaintiffs must show by a preponderance of the evidence, that when they were employed at Largo High School —the time period covered by their Complaints—the Board of Education of Prince George’s County (“School Board”) received federal funds which had a primary objective of providing employment, as opposed to educating students or any other purpose.

Plaintiffs have alleged that the relevant funding came from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (“ARRA”). ARRA funds were first received by the School Board during the 2009-10 School Year. None of the Plaintiffs remained at Largo High School after August 2010 because it appears that, PGCPS played technicalities to try and defeat justice. Therefore, the relevant time period is the 2009-2010 school year. Defendant PGCPS claims that Plaintiffs will be unable to make such a showing. However, the Plaintiffs disagrees with that saying, the issue in the Title VI trial is whether or not the Defendant received federal funds with a primary objective of creating and saving jobs. Title I and IDEA funds have a restricted purpose of aiding disadvantaged and disabled students, respectively. On the other hand, the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund (SFSF) has a stated purpose of creating and saving jobs.

In the meantime, these problems continues to date within the Maryland State Board of Education system and Prince George’s County Public schools in particular with the blind eyes of the county management and the state officials. >>>Read more EEOC

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Baker reestablishes Edu commission…

to advise him on improving schools

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Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D) has reestablished a commission, made up of parents, business owners and educators, to advise him on ways to improve the county schools.

The Commission for Education Excellence took a hiatus last year while Baker pushed to take over the school system and after Segun Eubanks, the commission’s former chairman, was appointed to lead the district’s new hybrid school board.

Christian Rhodes, Baker’s education adviser, said the panel’s charge remains the same: to find innovative ways to improve education.

It will be a “sounding board” for the schools chief and others to discuss ideas to boost academic achievement, Rhodes said.

The commission was originally formed in 2012, just prior to former School Superintendent William R. Hite’s resignation. >>>>Read more Washington Post

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See our previous opinion concerning >>> inequalities in Prince George’s County and dysfunctional Boards of Education.

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Our Future Will Not Look Like Present.

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“The arrogance of success is to think that what we did yesterday is good enough for tomorrow.” ― William Pollard

Education is in a transition. We hear about it, read about it, and most of us live it daily. The transition is going in many different directions. They include Common Core, on-line assessment, big data analysis, new evaluation systems for teachers and administrators, and technology infusion, just to name a few.

With all of this change many would ask how broke is our educational system? The answer to this question involves too many variables and is too complex to answer in a blog post like this. It is also important to remember that, some of us are not a statistical expert in the field, nor do we have access to the data to offer a quantitative analysis and answer to the question.

However, what we can say is that we are in an educational transition that requires change. The above quote by William Pollard, from the 1800’s, clearly articulates feelings about our current state of education. We have experienced some successes in our educational system but we need to look ahead. We can no longer use the same techniques, ideas, and foundational structures to educate our students for the future. Here in Maryland for example, change is required within the Maryland State Board of Education and the way it conducts business with it’s partner organizations, staff, children and the general public.

The reason why we are advocating for change in governance structure as articulated before is that, selected board tend to be less willing to fight against the people who gave them those positions in the first place. Sometimes their loyalties are marshaled to the appointing authority such as the governor of the State or the person or persons who recommended them for the position. We want a State Board of Education in Maryland and other local school boards in the whole State to be more demanding and transparent. We want school boards that are demanding more because that is what is good for our children.

Our future will not look like our present!

In order to address an unknown future we need to think about the skills students need to learn now that will carry them into the future, no matter what that future looks like. As educators our students deserve to be introduced to, learn about, and master these skills before leaving high school:

  1. Reading and Writing – These will never become obsolete skills. But beyond basic reading and comprehension skills students need to be technical readers. They need to learn how to comprehend complex text and be able to write it too.
  2. Technology Integration – Our world is driven by technology. Everywhere you look there is a piece of technology running something in our lives. Students need to know how to properly integrate technology and the devices that run it so that they can be more productive and efficient. Many of us in the reform movement do not fully support the view that just because students were born into this era they know how to properly use technology. Within this integration students and adults need to learn to be Digital Citizens. Notice we didn’t say “good”. The expectation is that we use it positively for everyone’s benefit.
  3. Coding – We have seen graphs, charts and data that indicate the need for this skill in the work force far exceeds the number of people who can provide the skill. For those that have the skill the supply to demand ratio makes them the most wanted. Beyond that the skill of coding is a problem solving experience that all of our students need. It also involves math skills, which are as essential as reading and writing (therefore, we will not list math separately since it is included here). Giving students the ability to code will also teach the items listed in point number 2 above.
  4. Collaboration – Being able to collaborate with people is essential. Technology allows us to collaborate with people we have never met before or may never see again. The ability to work together and produce a product, take an idea to the next level or share ideas needs to be a part of daily learning for students. This is how social media has become so popular and the way many companies now do business. Let’s teach our students that collaboration goes beyond classroom projects and has real world applications that will help them be better citizens.
  5. Problem Solving – What are lessons in education and the events of the world we live in? They are a series of problems requiring solutions. Our students need the skills and cognitive abilities to solve problems. Simple problems become complex and complex problems become crisis. Giving our students experiences throughout their educational careers to develop this skill improves our society.
  6. Self-Reflection – A lost skill for many, self-reflection helps students look at who they are, and how their actions affect others. If we expect students to be collaborators and problem solvers then they need to be self-reflective. It’s essential that we look at how we interact with others, how others respond to us and how our actions either assist or hinder others.

Moving forward our educational system needs to change. We can not imagine the world in which our students will live and work. Therefore, we need to provide them the skills that will allow them to adapt to their environment. Just because how we taught yesterday worked doesn’t mean we can teach that way for tomorrow’s world.

Finally, Boards of Education like Maryland state Board of Education and other local boards in the state needs to change for the better and create accountability mechanism. It is essential that our administrators inspire and find methods that demonstrate the end results are worth the work. It is just as important that our school boards are both knowledgeable and supportive. And that requires training…

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Important education reform bills in Md General Assembly

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Bills related to education reforms assaulting our school systems in Maryland are posting daily on the Maryland General Assembly website.

Education-related bills being heard this week are listed below by hearing date and whether they are bills concerned citizens would want to support or are bills that further the agenda of various concerned parties.  Bill numbers that start with HB are house bills, and bill numbers starting with SB are senate bills.  Updates on the list of bills are posted every Monday and can be viewed here.

IF YOU ACT ON NO OTHER BILLS LISTED HERE, PLEASE ACT ON HB607 and HB1154.

Here is what citizens can do:

  • Please attend the hearings and plan to testify.  Typical testimony is three minutes long.  Usually, the deadline to sign up to testify is one hour before the hearing begins. Contact the bill sponsor for more info.  Often, they can sign up testifiers and accept written testimony on your behalf if you are supporting their bill.  Even if you are testifying in person, be sure to also submit written testimony so it goes into the record.
  • If you can’t attend the hearings, submit written testimony by email to each of the members of the committee hearing the public comment plus the committee itself.  Be sure to contact both the house and senate committees if the bill was crossfiled.  The senate committee will be different than the house committee.  Put the bill number at the top of the page and include your name and address at the bottom.  If it is a bill you are supporting, email testimony to the bill sponsor by 9am the morning of the hearing at the latest.  They can photocopy and submit the testimony to the committee for you.
  • Be sure to read the bill language and the Fiscal & Policy Note on the bill from the MDGA website.  The F&P Note is often not posted until the day before the hearing.  If you need help finding the info, call Legislative Services here.

Hearings on Wednesday Feb. 19

EHEA Committee (James Senate Building) at 1pm

Bills sponsored by Senator Ed Reilly: SB408  – establish timeline for CCSS implementation SB578  – delays implementation of PARCC until June 2015 SB579  – delays implementation of new teacher evaluations until June 2015 Email written testimony by 9am on 2/19 to edward.reilly@senate.state.md.us. If you are testifying in person, call Senator Reilly to have them sign you up at 410-841-3568.

Bills sponsored by Senator Pinsky: SB666 – expands Teaching Fellows Scholarship to include private non-profits; expands eligibility to Dream Act students Submit written testimony to the EHEA Committee and to each member of the committee.

Bills sponsored by Senator Madaleno: SB910 – authorizes MSDE to adopt regulations to comply with ESEA waiver requests SB911  – defines new teacher evaluations based on student test scores to be the default evaluations Submit written testimony to the EHEA Committee and to each member of the committee.

Ways & Means Committee (House Office Building) at 1pm

Bills sponsored by Delegate Lafferty: HB384  – hybrid school board in Baltimore County Email written testimony by 9am on 2/19 to stephen.lafferty@house.state.md.us. If you are testifying in person, call Delegate Lafferty to have them sign you up at 410-841-3487.

Bills sponsored by Delegate Hixson: HB265  – established task force on middle schoolers readiness for college; expands data analysis on middle schoolers; requires middle schoolers to complete individual academic and career plans Submit written testimony to the W&M Committee and to each member of the committee.

Hearings on Friday Feb. 21

Ways & Means Committee (House Office Building) at 1pm

Bills sponsored by Delegate Kaiser: HB607 (oppose) – authorizes use of cloud computing for storing student level data and monitoring of student online activity including emails and other electronic activity Email written testimony by 9am on 2/21 to michael.smigiel@house.state.md.us If you are testifying in person against this bill, call Delegate Smigiel to have them sign you up at 410-841-3555.

Hearings on Wednesday Feb. 26

Ways & Means Committee (House Office Building) at 1pm

Bills sponsored by Delegate Ron George: HB925 (support) – establish timeline for CCSS implementation HB893 (support) – establishes autonomy for education policy at the local county level Email written testimony by 9am on 2/26 to ron.george@house.state.md.us. If you are testifying in person, call Delegate George to have them sign you up at 410-841-3439.

Bills sponsored by Delegate McDonough: HB766 (support) – requires BCPS to disclose a list of expenditures made to implement CCSS HB776 (support) – establishes commission to study impact of CCSS in Baltimore County HB777 (support) – hybrid school board in Baltimore County HB764 (support) – halts implementation of CCSS, PARCC, and NGSS; halts commitments to RTTT Email written testimony by 9am on 2/26 to pat.mcdonough@house.state.md.us. If you are testifying in person, call Delegate George to have them sign you up at 410-841-3334.

Bills sponsored by Delegate Luedtke: HB1164  – establishes workgroup on CCSS and PARCC composed on MSDE officials and others with vested interest in the goals of MSDE Submit written testimony to the W&M Committee and to each member of the committee.

Hearings on Friday Feb. 28

Ways & Means Committee (House Office Building) at 1pm

Bills sponsored by Delegate Ron George: HB1154 (support) – requires parental consent of student data collection Email written testimony by 9am on 2/28 to ron.george@house.state.md.us. If you are testifying in person, call Delegate George to have them sign you up at 410-841-3439.

Bills sponsored by Delegate Michael Smigiel: HB944 – permits private tutors to meet compliance with homeschool programs Email written testimony by 9am on 2/28 to michael.smigiel@house.state.md.us If you are testifying in person, call Delegate Smigiel to have them sign you up at 410-841-3555

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Politics: Testifying on Bills in Annapolis

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Location of Hearings Use this link to search for the bill on which you wish to testify.  It will list in which committee the bill is being heard and when. Note whether it is cross-filed, because each chamber will have a separate hearing.  Also note the primary sponsor.

Use this link to find the committee information for the bill on which you are testifying.

The Senate’s standing committee rooms are in the Miller Senate Building at 11 Bladen Street. House standing committee rooms are in the House Office Building at 6 Bladen Street.  This map shows all the government building locations in Annapolis.

Parking in Annapolis This website will help you decide where you might like to park.  You can see on this link the locations of these garages and their relationship to the State House.

You may also park at the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, the Public Parking lot entrance, Gate #5, Taylor Avenue. The Trolley Shuttle runs to Annapolis Monday through Friday from 6:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. at 20-minute intervals. Saturday and Sunday service is from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. There is no service on State holidays unless the General Assembly is in session. Trolley service costs $2.00.

Parking on the street in restricted residential zones as well as at metered spaces is subject to frequent patrol.

Entrance into State Government Buildings To enter into any State Government Building, it is necessary that you have on hand a picture identification card. You will be asked to walk through a detector and any items that you are carrying will be screened. So leave your guns, knives and other weapons at home.

Signing-Up to Testify

The sign-up sheet is typically placed outside the hearing room at 9 a.m. Please see the chart here for cut-off times for signing up by committee on the day you are testifying and other information. (The earlier you sign-up, the earlier you will be called up to testify, although the committee chairman chooses the order of bills to be heard that day.) You will need to provide your name, address, email address, and telephone number and will be asked to indicate if your testimony for the bill is Favorable, Unfavorable or Favorable With Amendments. You may also need to indicate if you intend to verbally testify or if you wish to hand in your testimony.  If you are giving verbal testimony you should also submit written testimony as well or it will not go into the public record.

Submitting Written Testimony Please be sure that on the top of your written testimony it indicates the bill number clearly in the upper right-hand corner (i.e. HB-000) and indicate below that if your position is Favorable, Unfavorable or Favorable With Amendments.  Include your name and address on the written testimony.  You will need to have the appropriate number of copies for the committee per the chart hereIf you are testifying in favor of a bill, often the bill sponsor will assist you in signing up to testify and in submitting your written testimony.  Contact the bill sponsor and find out the procedure.  Try to submit your written testimony by email to the bill sponsor no later than 9am on the day of the hearing.

Helpful Hints  Arrive early. Getting to a hearing early will give you the chance to sign the witness sheet and become comfortable with the surroundings.

Introduce yourself. When speaking to a committee, clearly identify yourself and the organization you represent, if any. Then clearly state your position on the bill.

Don’t be intimidated. The General Assembly is a citizen legislature. Legislators want to hear what constituents have to say. State your case clearly and in simple terms as you would to anyone. There are no “rights or wrongs” in testifying, but please be respectful.

Be brief. Make your points as concisely as possible, be prepared to limit your testimony if necessary, and try not to repeat testimony offered by previous witnesses. Provide specific information about your position. For example, legislators may want to know what has been done in other states, what the cost might be, and what groups support or oppose your position.

Be prepared to answer questions. The best way to make your case is to provide straightforward answers to legislators’ questions. If you don’t know the answer, say so. Then, if possible, find the answer and relay it later.   Generally, refrain from asking questions of committee members since public hearings are directed toward providing them with information on the legislation under consideration.

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Pr. George’s parents criticize plan to move students…

…away from neighborhood schools

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More than a dozen parents attending a hearing Tuesday night questioned program changes proposed by Prince George’s County Schools chief executive Kevin M. Maxwell that would require some students to go to different schools next year.

The hearing was an opportunity for the public to weigh in on school boundary changes and new specialty programs. Maxwell is scheduled to seek the Board of Education’s approval Tuesday.

Some of the parents objected to Maxwell’s plans to make Cesar Chavez Elementary School in Chillum one of three sites that will have a Spanish immersion program, a move that would phase out the neighborhood school beginning with kindergartners in August. >>> Read more Washington Post , Read More Gazzette

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