Monthly Archives: March 2014

Brown & Gansler Launch TV Ads – Election 2014.

Gubernatorial candidates Lt. Governor Anthony G. Brown and Attorney General Doug Gansler recently began to unload their multi-million dollars war chests on the television airwaves. Below you can see their first ads in the race for Maryland Governor:

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CEO’s Transition Team Shares Report with Board of Education.

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UPPER MARLBORO, MD – The transition team put into place by Dr. Kevin M. Maxwell, Chief Executive Officer for Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS), presented their report “Great by Choice: The Transition Team Report” to the Prince George’s County Board of Education recently. The team led by Dr. Charlene Dukes and Dr. Lillian M. Lowery was established in October 2013 to conduct a thorough review of the school system as outlined in the five key goals of Dr. Maxwell’s Entry Plan. The team comprised of 30 members including unions representatives involved in retaliation and harassment of employees. The said unions representatives are well connected to the corrupt cartels.

After reviewing the “report”, it now seems the report contained some potentially explosive information, which is perhaps why it was not shared much sooner. However, “the Transition team” also fell flat on their face on a number of grounds.

First, they failed to identify weaknesses of the unions representing employees in contributing to the problems within the county schools. The report also fails to identify ways on how to strengthen the unions and train principals as part of change management.  The report is more of a cover up rather than finding ways to solve problems as we identified. It does not look at the problems or issues heads on as presented in our blogs by reform sasscer movement.

Furthermore, the report does not find ways to stop the harassment and discrimination at Sasscer and within the school system despite a high number of form 4170 as a result of bully administrators.

The “Transition Team” certainly deserves the presumption of innocence but given how the team appears to have done the work, they seem to have misled the Board of Education for Prince George’s County in some areas and clearly covered up issues in the process. It is clear there is something rotten in the state of Education in Prince George’s County. The “Team” in our view was in many ways a cover up mission than a “team” committed to genuine change.  They appear to have come in like a fox in a henhouse to “eat”. Many of the issues identified have been discussed before and very little change has been made. Specifically Ms. Monica Goldson who is our major concern still runs the show as the Chief Operating Officer (COO) and all her close relatives and friends are in strategic positions throughout the system. Ms. Goldson should step aside.  We think it’s time for her to take a break and let others guide the sinking ship.

The Office of Legislative Audits (OLA), co-chaired by Sen. James Rosapepe (Dist 21 -Prince George’s and Anne Arundel) and Del. Guy Guzzone (Dist 13-Howard County), issued their own report on the Prince George’s County School System financial management practices. It’s a not a pretty picture. A full copy of the report is found HERE.

The report found that PGCPS had not implemented adequate controls over its human resources and payroll, overpaying a number of employees. One employee was overpaid by $25, 111, another by $9,553, just to name a few.  PGCPS has recovered the full amount of overpayment from one employee and has another employee on a payment plan.  PGCPS management response to overpayments was a pledge that their Payroll Department will work with IT to modify current database responsibilities for those who approve time sheets to only include approval rights, not editing.  This will be change was to be completed in February 2014.  Problems with revenue were documented throughout the report, such as $1 million in no bid or “sole source” contracts for “consulting that PGCPS  handled that were not documented, as required, neither was the rationale for the use of sole source procurements for any of the six consulting contracts selected for by OLA in a test sample.  In 2011-12, there were $22 million in  no bid contracts against the state law.

There is actually a law signed by Governor Martin O’Malley which we advocated for in 2012 to create accountability and transparency. The law was ignored and business continues as usual without accountability.  see it here >>>PG 410-12

Some very basic systems are not in place within PGCPS. For Example, PGCPS does NOT use intrusion detection and prevention (IDP) coverage on its network or internet connections. The school system also lacks an Information Technology Disaster Recovery Plan for recovering computer operations from disaster scenarios such as a fire or flood. Outdated practices are in place with the Before and After Care Program also.

Above allmore than $100 million of bus transportation expenses are not adequately controlled because of unreliable routing software that isn’t fully used, as well as inefficient bus routes. More than half of the findings –12 of 23 — in the scathing report by the Office of Legislative Audits are repeated from a previous audit, but still remain problems.

The Prince George’s school system, the 19th largest in the U.S., has the second largest enrollment in the state with over 125,000 students at 205 schools and a total operating budget of $1.6 billion, more than half from state funding.

Finally, as if the above scandal was not enough, Prince George’s County public schools management came up with their own version of priorities and ignored the suggestions we recommended to them in the first place.

A civic leader who preferred to remain anonymous told this writer that the euphoria waves of change management and the fight against corruption in Prince George’s County public schools (PGCPS) is irresistible and the board of education should not play around. We don’t believe in selection work by a certain clique of interested politicians to deliver because of interference by outsiders who have no interest of the people at heart.

See the cover up mission here ~> CEO’s Transition Team Shares Report with Board of Education

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AREAS WE AGREE WITH CEO’s Transition Team

  1. Conduct a central office audit to determine where services are being duplicated and personnel can be eliminated or re-assigned; analyze where positions are needed or might be eliminated or redeployed to other offices.
  2. CCE1. Designate a Chief Communications Officer position and fill with the most qualified individual in a permanent capacity.
  3. CCE2. Develop a strategic communications plan, including key metrics, that aligns to district goals and priorities and includes strategies to improve the image of the school system through a concerted “rebranding” effort.
  4. CCE3. Review current organizational structures, staffing, and roles and responsibilities in the Office of Communications. Identify positions needed to align with the strategic communications plan and determine if current individuals are the best fit for those positions.
  5. CCE5. Evaluate the district website and develop a plan to ensure that it is easy to navigate, content is relevant, and that there is a plan for keeping it up to date.
  6. CCE8. Review Board of Education Policy 105 and Administrative Procedure 4217,  Parent, Family and Community Involvement, to ensure that they align with research-based best practices.
  7. CCE9. Evaluate whether a Department of Family Engagement and Community Outreach is needed and where in the organization it belongs; develop a district-wide plan for family and community engagement.
  8. OEE9. Analyze whether a network approach to supporting schools is feasible with existing resources and clarify how supports are provided, given the relationship between offices that directly supervise schools, curriculum and instruction, professional development, and operations; identify a more streamlined process for services to be provided and monitored for quality control.

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Dr. Lillian M. Lowery Maryland State Superintendent  of schools (Pictured above) has been criticized for showing very poor leadership skills in various ways including discriminatory conduct. She has received an F grade for Common Core meetings and other reform implementations in Maryland so far. Above all, she does not believe in the due process of the law and continues to contribute to the culture of impunity. 

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In our opinion, We aver and therefore believe Maryland State Board of Education President Dr. Charlene Dukes (shown here) has demonstrated a culture of corrupt leadership style and continues “an integrated pattern of pay to play,”  High suspension rates, cover up, violation of due process rights, manipulation inter alia during her tenure as President for Maryland State Board of Education.

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“If we are to progress as a democracy – a rule-based democracy – we need to ensure that the machinery of law, order and the administration of justice is in good working order.”

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We cannot have a set of rules in Prince George’s County and then break them whenever convenient. The rule of law is fundamental to a civilized society. Respect for it, and the fair, speedy and efficient administration of justice, are central to any successful democracy. It should guide our conduct. It protects our individual rights.

It provides that no person is deemed to be above the law and no one can be punished by the State except for a breach of the law. Overridingly, nobody can be convicted of breaching the law (or be given an amnesty) except in the manner set forth by the law itself.

Many Md.teachers, principals unprepared for Common Core…

…official state survey finds.

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Less than a quarter of Maryland teachers said they were “very familiar” with the Common Core State Standards when asked about it last fall, according to a survey conducted for the Maryland State Department of Education.

The new standards-based education curriculum was adopted by Maryland in 2010 and was supposed to be fully implemented by the 2013-2014 school year.

The survey found that roughly half of teachers, 55%, said they were “somewhat familiar” with Common Core, while 24% said they were not familiar with the standards at all.

State officials tried to put a positive spin on the results but  were met with criticism and questions by state Board of Education members. The survey results were presented to board members at the monthly state board meeting on Tuesday, but local school districts had already received the survey results.

“This is a very good start,” said state education department spokesman William Reinhard. “The CAIRE survey is baseline data, and it showed that 70-80 percent of our teachers were either very or somewhat familiar with the new standards. The researchers will follow up that survey with another this spring, and we expect those numbers to go up.”

Survey reached thousands of teachers

Twenty-one of Maryland’s 24 school districts participated in the Center for Application and Innovation Research in Education (CAIRE) survey. The electronic survey took place over a four-week period with 9,232 teachers, 582 principals and 295 superintendents and staff members, participating.

Similar responses were found when teachers were asked how prepared they felt to teach Common Core. Twenty-two percent, 22%, said they were “very prepared,” while 63% said they were “somewhat prepared” and 15% said they were “not at all prepared.”

Discrepancies between teacher preparedness questioned

When board members asked why some teachers felt very prepared while others didn’t at all, Towson University College of Education Dean Raymond Lorion, who co-authored the report, said the answer falls on individual school districts.

Some of those districts did not introduce Common Core materials until right before they had to use them in the classrooms. Others introduced the materials well before the fall of 2013, and that accounts for the discrepancy, he said.

Henry Johnson, assistant state superintendent of schools, said he looked at the preparedness results very positively because it was the first year of implementation.

“In total 85% of the respondents indicated a general level of preparation,”  Johnson said. “Our goal is to help all of our teachers move beyond the basic level of preparation to a very prepared level for the 2014 school year.”

Less than one-third of teachers said they had enough professional development

Only 29% of teachers said they received enough professional development support from their school and school districts to have Common Core fully implemented by the 2013-2014 school year. Half, 50%, said they had “some, but not all” the professional development they felt they needed.

Thirty-seven percent of principals said they had received enough professional development from their school districts to meet all the needs to implement  Common Core; 56% said they had received “some” professional development, “but not all” that was needed.

“Shouldn’t we be concerned about the disconnect,” state board member Donna Hill Staton asked.

“Yes,” Johnson said, but he also indicated that different school districts carried out state training opportunities different ways. Based on that, Johnson said he felt the aggregate survey responses are good.

“That’s the disconnect,” Hill Staton said.

State Superintendent of Schools Lillian Lowery said that each district now has its own set of data to examine.

State sends out teams to help teachers

State education officials also said they have been sending out teams to individual school districts to get a closer look at what educators need on the local level. Fifteen out of 24 school districts have already been visited by state Common Core teams.

“We’re doing observations within the schools,” said Cecilia Roe, Maryland Department of Education director of instructional assessment and professional development. “We’re meeting with the teachers we’re observing and we’re having open forums with any teacher in the county that wants to meet with us.”

Roe said their purposes are twofold. The teams will try to find out what the teachers’ comfort level with Common Core is, and what support they need.

As of last fall, only 19% of principals surveyed thought Common Core was supposed to be fully implemented by the beginning of the school year. Twenty seven percent thought they had until the end of the 2013-2014 school year.

Thirty two percent of principals didn’t answer the question, 12% thought they had until some next year, and 10% didn’t know.

Read more: http://marylandreporter.com/2014/03/25/many-md-teachers-principals-unprepared-for-common-core-official-state-survey-finds/#ixzz2x5lYkQhx

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State Board of Education meeting March 25, 2014.

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Call your elected officials now and the media. Demand investigations and initiation of changes… There is no smoke without fire!!

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Dr. Lillian Lowery Embattled State Superintendent is currently presiding over deep-seated corruption in Maryland school system. She has demonstrated a culture of discrimination and racism while on the job. The poor leadership shown during the implementation of common core, teacher and Principal evaluations speak volumes. There is clear need for new leadership in the State level which does not cover up issues.    

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In our opinion, We aver and therefore believe Maryland State Board of Education President Dr. Charlene Dukes shown here has demonstrated a culture of corrupt leadership style and continues “an integrated pattern of pay to play” and manipulation during her tenure. Both leaders pictured here need to resign to create room for new leadership. There is no need for this kind of scandal mixed up with poor leadership skills and cover ups. Maryland Citizens deserves better than this.

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Bald Eagle in mid-air flight…

Bald Eagle in mid-air flight over Homer Spit Kenai Peninsula Alaska Winter

 The American bald eagle (Haliaeetus Leucocephalus) was adopted as the official bird emblem of the United States of America in 1782. The bald eagle was chosen because of it’s majestic beauty, great strength, long life, and because it’s native to North America. In the wild, an eagle will live 30-35 years (up to 50 years in captivity). A full-grown bald eagle has a wingspan up to 7 feet. They fly up to 30 miles an hour and can dive at 100 miles an hour! Eagles feed primarily on fish, supplemented by small mammals, waterfowl, and carrion.

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Eagles mate for life, and an established pair will use the same nest for many years. Over time some nests become enormous – they can reach a diameter of 9 feet and weigh as much as 2 tons! The female lays 2 or 3 eggs and both parents share incubation and guard them diligently against predators (such as squirrels, gulls and ravens). While the chicks are small, the parents move about the nest with their talons balled up into fists to avoid harming them.

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In 1782 there were between 25,000 and 75,000 birds in the lower 48 states alone. But farmers considered bald eagles vermin and shot them on sight. As people started moving west, much of the nesting territories and food sources of the eagle diminished. By the late 1800’s, eagles were becoming very scarce.

In 1940 the Bald Eagle Act was passed and eagle populations began to recover. But pesticides were starting to be used extensively about this same time. Plants sprayed with DDT were eaten by small animals, which in turn were eaten by eagles. Both the adult birds and their eggs were affected. The eggshells were too thin to withstand incubation and were crushed (or simply did not hatch). Large quantities of DDT were found in the fatty tissues of dead eagles, and by 1963 their numbers had fallen to a mere 417 nesting pairs.

The Endangered Species Acts of 1966 and 1978 helped to protect the bird, but banning of DDT in 1972 was the most effective in the bald eagle’s recovery. By the year 2000 the US Fish & Wildlife Service proposed that the eagle be declared fully recovered, but as no plan to manage the species exists, it is still listed as threatened.

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Read more >>> 7 Highly Effective Habits of Eagles 

Pandas conservation education worldwide

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The Giant Panda is an endangered species, threatened by continued habitat loss and by a very low birthrate, both in the wild and in captivity.

The Giant Panda has been a target for poaching by locals since ancient times, and by foreigners since it was introduced to the West. Starting in the 1930s, foreigners were unable to poach Giant Pandas in China because of the Second Sino-Japanese War and the Chinese Civil War, but pandas remained a source of soft furs for the locals. The population boom in China after 1949 created stress on the pandas’ habitat, and the subsequent famines led to the increased hunting of wildlife, including pandas. During the Cultural Revolution, all studies and conservation activities on the pandas were stopped. After the Chinese economic reform, demand for panda skins from Hong Kong and Japan led to illegal poaching for the black market, acts generally ignored by the local officials at the time.

Panda Conservation History

The seemingly cute and cuddly panda is a solitary creature native to the cool climates of central-western and south-western China. It remains one of the best known goodwill ambassadors for China and permeates almost every facet of life here while images of this furry animal are seen on many souvenirs.

Even though it may firmly belong to the bear family, the panda’s appetite is decidedly herbivorous and its preferred diet is a staple of bamboo. In fact bamboo is poor food for a large, warm-blooded animal and even though it grows in abundance along the damp, chilly mountains of south-west China, the panda has, on occasion, starved due to bamboo’s propensity to die en masse every 25 years or so.

Qualifying for the highly endangered animals list has caused world attention to focus on the conservation of these gentle beasts; the Chinese government has set up numerous initiatives including setting up reserves in Sichuan Province and has instigated confined procreation programmes. Penalties for poaching these lovable giants have become harsher and peasants are highly rewarded for saving them.

The Sichuan Giant Panda Sanctuaries are the best way to get a glimpse of these gentle beasts; China is the best place to see them, since it is home to more than 30% of the world’s pandas. These sanctuaries – spanning over 924,500 hectares – make up the largest remaining habitat of the giant panda.

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Although there are only 1600 pandas living in the wild, they naturally inhabit the mountain forests of southwest China.

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Read More >>> Giant panda and the Bamboo.

Dr. William Hite Jr is at it again in Philly.

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PHILADELPHIA — The School District of Philadelphia is scrapping teacher seniority rules, starting next September.

The battle lines are drawn. Superintendent William Hite who damaged Prince George’s County Public school District through willful Discrimination and numerous breaches of contracts has announced plans to impose a system this fall allowing principals to fill teacher vacancies without using seniority as the sole factor.

Above all, Hite says under his plan, a committee of a school’s principal, teachers and a parent will determine teacher staffing at each school without union participation.

“We think this change is essential to enable different schools and unique school communities to match teacher skills with specific needs of students in their school.” He added according to reports Reform Sasscer Movement received last night evening.

The district has filed a motion with the State Supreme Court, asking the high court to affirm the district’s authority under the state takeover law to impose the new work rules.

The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers has resisted changes to seniority rules according to the information received, maintaining they were a time-earned protection against administration favoritism.

This is a major test of the district’s power to impose contract terms on the teachers union. The union and the district have been unable to negotiate a new deal to replace the one that expired last August.

PFT president Jerry Jordan in a statement said the union will fight the move in court, saying the district has chosen to forsake good-faith bargaining in favor of a legal end-around.

>>>>Keep Reading the Philadelphia notebook and ~> Philly.com

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Dr. William Hite Jr is under severe cloud in Philadelphia for running away from justice in Maryland and now tampering with the rules of engagement and also negotiating in bad faith within the School District of Philadelphia.

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Read some of our previous coverage here.

We knew this day will come for staff in Philadelphia school District. Unless the Philadelphia teachers, administrators and their unions take action, things are only going to go from worse to worst and they will affect the whole country. If he manages to pull off with this, other Districts around the country will follow suit. Therefore, this is not a good thing for others too.

William Hite Jr. is not only incompetent but has no respect for the law. He has probably negotiated a deal with the lawyers in the opposing camp to defeat justice by presenting the wrong argument or exhibits. He is clearly out of touch with reality by acting this way. Anyone who hurts families should not be in a leadership role.

What has happened to our common sense and decency in dealing with one another? Some of the things going on in the world today including Philadelphia “just ain’t right.” Individuals, educators and political leaders do not seem to be using “common sense” in dealing with people or in their decision making. We don’t treat people with the common “decency” that we should expect in our lives. We have observed a lot of things happening in our live and all around us and our families. We trying to determine, even if only for our benefit, whether or not we as a civilized society truly use common sense and exhibit common decency in our everyday lives and in our decision making. It’s not at all a scientific undertaking but primarily our own personal experiences and opinions – for what that’s worth. We just see things happening all around America, and the world, and wonder in amazement how this could be going on.

To the Philadelphia teachers, administrators and their unions representatives, if you happen to read this, call your elected representatives and demand changes. (This is an election year). This is the only language William Hite Jr ED.d understands. He is not afraid of the courts, he has money to pay off your attorneys and have them put the wrong evidence or argue the wrong cases while giving it to the other side. In that scenario, the Judges have no choice but to throw in their towel. It has already happened elsewhere.  Otherwise, if you file a lawsuit, our suggestion is to hire an ethical lawyer and then monitor the lawsuit to avoid such malpractice. Good luck.

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Let us never forget that government is ourselves and not an alien power over us. The ultimate rulers of our democracy are not a President and senators and congressmen and government officials, but the voters of this country. ~ Franklin D. Roosevelt

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To make democracy work, we must be a notion of participants, not simply observers. One who does not vote has no right to complain. ~ Louis L’Amour

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The Reindeer (Rangifer tarandus).

The Reindeer also known as caribou in North America, is a species of deer native to Arctic, Subarctic, tundra, boreal and mountainous regions. This includes both sedentary and migratory populations.

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Here is the herd of reindeer (last 5 pictures), which is watched by herders about 45 kilometres North of Inuvik.

A few caribou also seemed to have joined the herd!

As you can see, these beautiful animals are not affected by the cold.

They are often preyed upon by wolves and wolverines.

While overall widespread and numerous, some of its subspecies are rare and at least one has already gone extinct.

Reindeer vary considerably in color as you can see from the pictures and size. Both sexes grow antlers, though in a few populations females lack antlers completely. Antlers are typically larger in males.

Hunting of wild reindeer and herding of semidomesticated reindeer (for meat, hides, antlers, milk and transportation) are important to several Arctic and Subarctic peoples. The reindeer is well known in folklore due to Santa Claus‘s sleigh being pulled by flying reindeer, a popular element of Christmas. In Lapland, reindeer pull pulks.

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Downtown  Inuvik – Canada

Habitat: Tundra, mountains, and woodlands.

Even though no one has actually seen a reindeer fly, this special member of the deer family has a lot to live up to! Reindeer and caribou are classified as the same genus and species—Rangifer tarandus—but caribou are slightly larger and reindeer are domesticated. Reindeer is the European and Asian name for the animal that is used by humans to pull sleds or carry packs, and caribou is the name used in the northern parts of North America. Those of us in the United States use reindeer when referring to the domesticated animal.

Antlers are the most memorable characteristic of reindeer. In males, antlers can measure 20 to 51 inches (52 to 130 centimeters) long, and females’ antlers can reach 9 to 20 inches (23 to 50 centimeters). Unlike horns, antlers fall off and grow back larger every year. While the new antlers grow, the reindeer is said to be in velvet, because skin, blood vessels, and soft fur cover the developing antlers. Males begin to grow antlers in February and females in May. They both finish growing their antlers at the same time and shed or rub off the velvet during September. However, they shed their antlers at different times of the year. A male drops his during November, leaving him without antlers in December, while female reindeer keep their antlers through the winter until their calves are born in May. This fact has led many to believe that, based on the presence of antlers, Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer must have been a female to have those antlers on Christmas Eve! But what are the antlers for? They are handy weapons against predators, and males use their impressive antlers (which can weigh up to 33 pounds, or 15 kilograms!) to impress the females.

Masters of a cold world

Reindeer are built for staying warm in freezing temperatures. They are covered in hair from their nose to the bottom of their feet! Having hairy hooves may look funny, but they give reindeer a good grip when walking on frozen ground, ice, mud, or snow. Reindeer have two coat layers: an undercoat of fine, soft wool that stays right next to their skin and a top layer of long, hollow guard hairs. The air trapped inside the guard hairs holds in body heat to keep the animal warm against wind and cold. The hollow hairs also help the reindeer float, allowing it to swim across a river, when needed. The reindeer’s heavy coat is usually a brownish color in warmer weather and whiter when it’s cold.

A clever nose

Another outstanding feature is right under the reindeer’s nose—actually, it IS its nose! Not only does a reindeer have a great sense of smell to find food and avoid danger, that nose also helps it survive! Reindeer have a specialized nose that warms incoming cold air before it enters the lungs, and this adaptation gives the animal a super sniffer! Its sense of smell helps the reindeer find food hidden under snow, locate danger, and recognize direction. Reindeer mainly travel into the wind to pick up scents.

Hooray for hooves!

At the other end of the body, the reindeer’s hooves also help out. Being broad, flat, and having two toes, the hooves allow the reindeer to walk on soft ground and in snow and also allow it to push water aside when the animal swims.

The more the merrier

Reindeer love a good crowd. A social species, they form large regional herds of 50,000 to 500,000 animals during the spring. The herds generally follow food sources, traveling south (up to 1,000 miles or 1,600 kilometers) when food is hard to find in winter. Reindeer are ruminants. When available, they eat mosses, herbs, ferns, grasses, and shoots and leaves of shrubs and trees, especially willow and birch. In winter, they make do with lichen and fungi, scraping the snow away with their hooves. A special enzyme in their stomach breaks down lichen, an energy-rich food. An average adult reindeer eats 9 to 18 pounds (4 to 8 kilograms) of vegetation a day. At the San Diego Zoo, the reindeer are fed alfalfa hay and pellets, and commercial biscuits made for zoo leaf eaters.

Reindeer games

After males rub the velvet off their antlers, their body continues to prepare for the breeding season. Their neck swells, their stomach draws in, they grow a mane of hair under their neck, and they start to fight with each other, sometimes resulting in death. The winner chooses 5 to 15 females to be in his “harem.” Those that become pregnant leave the herd in the spring and travel to a traditional calving ground. Here, they give birth within a 10-day period of each other, usually in May and June. Newborns are able to follow their mother just one hour after birth and can outrun a human when one day old! A reindeer calf nurses for at least one month and sometimes even until the winter, six months later.

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Range: The Reindeer can be found in a number of locations including: Arctic, Asia, Europe, North America, Russia.

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Kindergarten teacher: My job is now about tests and data — not children. I quit.

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Ms. Susan Sluyter

A veteran teacher in a Massachusetts school district is leaving her profession of nearly three decades after she says it has come to rely too much on standardized testing and data collection and not enough ‘hands-on investigation’ and exploration.

Susan Sluyter has been a teacher in the Cambridge Public School District for nearly 20 years, and has been a teacher for more than 25. Last month, she sent the district her resignation letter, describing her ‘deep love and a broken heart’ that she has for her profession.

In her letter, Sluyter writes that she can’t apply her knowledge of how children learn in an environment that requires teachers to be rated on standardized testing and data collection. >>> Continue Reading Washington Post

She wrote in part:

I have watched as my job requirements swung away from a focus on the children, their individual learning styles, emotional needs, and their individual families, interests and strengths to a focus on testing, assessing, and scoring young children, thereby ramping up the academic demands and pressures on them. 

Each year, I have been required to spend more time attending classes and workshops to learn about new academic demands that smack of 1st and 2nd grade, instead of kindergarten and PreK.  I have needed to schedule and attend more and more meetings about increasingly extreme behaviors and emotional needs of children in my classroom; I recognize many of these behaviors as children shouting out to the adults in their world, “I can’t do this!  Look at me!  Know me!  Help me!  See me!”  I have changed my practice over the years to allow the necessary time and focus for all the demands coming down from above.  Each year there are more.  Each year I have had less and less time to teach the children I love in the way I know best—and in the way child development experts recommend.  I reached the place last year where I began to feel I was part of a broken system that was causing damage to those very children I was there to serve.

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Alces alces (Moose).

Giant of the Northern Forest

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Alces alces, also known as the moose, is one of the most interesting organisms in the world. Standing at approximately six feet tall at the shoulder, weighing up to 1,800 pounds, and being about ten feet long, moose are the largest member of the deer family.

The common name of Alces alces is moose. “Moose” comes from the Algonquian word “mus” or “moos”, which means “twig-eater” or eater of twigs.

In Latin, alces means “elk”. This can sometimes cause confusion when talking about Alces alces because European countries refer to it as “elk” and North Americans refer to it as “moose”. This situation is the exact reason scientific names are used. No matter where you are in the world or what language you speak, Alces alces will refer to this organism!

General Characteristics of Alces alces:

Alces alces has many characteristics that make it quite unique and easy to identify. First off, you can identify them by their huge antlers. The antlers can get up to as wide as five feet! However, only the male moose, also known as bulls, grow antlers.

Another characteristic of the moose is their dark brown fur coat, however only mature moose have dark brown coats. Young moose, called calves, have light brown fur. It darkens as they mature. The fur is actually hollow and allows for many features, such as keeping them warm during the winter and for buoyancy when in water.

One of the oddest characteristics of Alces alces is the presence of the dewlap, also called the bell. The dewlap is the flap of skin that hangs under a moose’s chin. The function of the dewlap is unknown, but there are theories for it. One theory is that the dewlap is used for communication during the rut, both by sight and smell. During the rut a bull will rub the cow with his chin, also called chinning, and the dewlap transfers this bull’s scent to the female. Another theory is that the size and shape of the dewlap may be an indicator of dominance to other bulls, just like the size of the antlers are.

Listed below are other factors including conservation status.

Factoid:

Moose are good swimmers and can move in the water at 6 miles per hour for as much as two hours at a time.

Conservation Status:

Stable.

Population:

Total population unknown.

Threats:

Moose once lived throughout most of the United States and Canada, but the species range has dwindled because of uncontrolled hunting for sport and food and because of land development. In the 19th century, ranchers shot them to reduce competition with livestock for food. Moose typically inhabit boreal and mixed deciduous forests of the Northern Hemisphere in temperate to subarctic climates.

Survival:

Moose live up to 20 years.

Moose are the largest members of the deer family, about the size of a horse. They have thick coats of long, dark-brown hair, humped shoulders, and long thin legs. Their huge muzzles, big ears, and broad flat antlers, as well as their large size, set them apart from other members of the deer family. Both males and females also have a flap of skin called a bell that hangs beneath the throat. The bell is used for communication through the scents released from it. Their antlers, grown only by the bulls, can reach 4 to 5 feet from end to end. The record length is 6 feet 9 inches. Moose use their antlers to thrash brush, fight for mates, and root plants from the pond floor. The antlers are shed around November or December, after mating season has ended.

Males weigh 900 to 1,400 pounds and females 700 to 1,100 pounds. One or two calves are born every spring, and newborns weigh 24 to 35 pounds.

Cool weather seems to suit moose well. They inhabit spruce forests, swamps, and aspen and willow thickets throughout most of Canada, Maine, Minnesota, Alaska, and the Rocky Mountains in Utah and Colorado. They migrate seasonally up and down mountain slopes. They also enjoy wallowing in mud and water, especially when insects bother them during warm weather.

In summer, when moose hang around ponds and marshes, they eat willows and aquatic vegetation like water lily leaves. In the winter they eat mostly woody plants like twigs, buds, and the bark of willow, balsam, aspen, dogwood, birch, cherry, and maple trees.

Moose are generally shy animals and usually move away from humans. However, cows with calves may charge if they feel threatened, and bulls can be dangerous during the breeding season. The most common moose predators are wolvesbears, and humans. Unlike most other deer species, moose are solitary animals and do not form herds.

National Parks:

In North America, Moose are found in North Cascades National Park, WA; Rocky Mountain National Park, CO; Voyageurs National Park, MN; Kenai Fjords National Park, AK; Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, AK; Katmai National Park and Preserve, AK; Noatak National Preserve, AK; Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve, AK; Denali National Park and Preserve, AK; Lake Clark National Park and Preserve, AK; Isle Royale National Park, MI; Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve, AK; Bering Land Bridge National Preserve, AK; Aniakchak National Monument and Preserve, AK; Acadia National Park, ME; and the northern part of Appalachian National Scenic Trail, ME.

Moose have been reintroduced to some of their former habitats. Currently, most moose are found in CanadaAlaskaScandinavia and Russia as shown on the map below.

Go to Classification to see where the moose fits into the grand scheme of things!

Go to Mooseworld.com for even more information on Alces alces!

Go to National Geographic for more information also!

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Moose distribution map worldwide.

Building a team.

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Building a good team is key to the success of any enterprise. Jesus chose twelve unique individuals to build His world-changing enterprise. He intentionally chose several who had similar backgrounds—Peter, James, and John were fisherman. Matthew and Simon the Zealot came from opposing political views. Matthew came from an industry considered corrupt—he was a tax collector. It is clear Jesus chose those who had a skill set first, then changed the character of the individual. He mentored each one.

A good team needs to have team members with different viewpoints as well as those who are specialists in a particular area. It is noteworthy that Jesus chose someone expertise in handling money. Taking a team of twelve around the country required money and the ability to manage it. I’m sure Jesus spent a great deal of time with Matthew mentoring him on the proper use of money. He had to reshape his thinking about money.

Once the team was formed Jesus spent time molding His team into a cohesive unit to operate in unity. He corrected them when correction was needed. He taught them what it meant to love one another. He washed their feet. He taught and modeled servant leadership. Before you put a team together sit down and make a list of the skills you want represented on your team. Then recruit and invest spiritually into your team. Who knows, your team might just change the world, too!

When the world is full of uncertainty, what a powerful reminder that we don’t have to be perfect, we don’t always have to understand, we aren’t always even going to see eye to eye with those we serve with, and that’s o.k. because in the end the point isn’t perfect harmony, it is sharing the perfect peace and promise from the one who truly holds our HOPE.

“…you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

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Jesus and the twelve disciples