Monthly Archives: June 2015

After pressure in our blogs, PGCPS Administration Suspends MUST Exams for Coming School Year


Following our advocacy and pressure to provide thoughtful assessments in the future, it appears PGCPS administration might have given in after all. Several teachers, parents and citizenry rallied the lawmakers and administrators to get the current results.  In a memorandum dated June 23, 2015,  Deputy Superintendent Shawn Joseph announced that students would no longer be required to take Mandatory Unit Systemic Tests (MUST) assessments.

Below is the full memorandum suspending the MUST assessments.

Shawn Joseph, Ed.D.

Deputy Superintendent

June 23, 2015

TO:                     All Staff

FROM:               Shawn Joseph, Ed.D.

Deputy Superintendent for Teaching and Learning

PREPARED BY:          Yakoubou Ousmanou, Director of Testing

Gladys Whitehead, Ph.D., Executive Director of Curriculum and Instruction

RE:                              Suspension of All MUST Assessments

The purpose of this memorandum is to inform you that effective July 1, 2015, Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) will suspend the administration of all Mandatory Unit Systemic Tests (MUST) assessments.

In an effort to effectively examine our county assessment practices and test administration in our schools, we established an Assessment Cross-Functional Team to review our testing calendar and program, and to make recommendations for the elimination, reduction, or suspension of assessments in Prince George’s County Public Schools.  The Assessment Cross-Functional Team’s discussion revolved around the elimination or suspension of some county assessments since it was not an option to eliminate any state-mandated assessments.

The following county assessments will no longer be administered in PGCPS schools effective July 1, 2015:

  • Mandatory Unit Systemic Tests (MUST) in Reading (Grades 3-High School) and Mathematics (Grades 3-High School)

PGCPS is committed to using relevant county formative and summative assessments that will help inform instructional practices and measure how much students know and need to know in relation to the Maryland College and Career-Ready Standards.  We are also concerned about the increasing number of tests that our students are expected to take during the school year; therefore, we will continue to examine our practices to determine what additional county assessments can be eliminated, reduced, or suspended in the near future.

If you have questions regarding this memorandum, please contact Dr. Gladys Whitehead, Executive Director of Curriculum and Instruction (, or Mr. Yakoubou Ousmanou, Director of Testing (





‘Most famous’ teacher plans class action suit over LAUSD’s ‘teacher jail’.

Rafe-EquithRafe Esquith

If opponents of LA Unified’s controversial disciplinary process known as “teacher jail” were looking for an ideal case to fight it, both in a court of law and in the court of public opinion, they may get it.

High-profile attorney Mark Geragos, representing one of the most famous active teachers in the country, Rafe Esquith, told the Los Angeles Times he intends to file a class action lawsuit on behalf of “scores” of district teachers who say they have been denied due process rights. Geragos said he had filed a legal claim on Monday, which is a precursor to a lawsuit.

The lawsuit could have enormous implications for the district, given the public stature of Esquith, who is a best-selling author, and Geragos, who has represented numerous celebrities and high-profile clients, including Michael Jackson, Winona Ryder and convicted killer Scott Peterson.

Geragos did not state how many teachers may be a part of the possible suit and did not respond to a request for comment. LA Unified General Counsel David Holmquist said in an email to LA School Report that “you would have to talk to [Esquith’s] attorney about his plans for a class action suit to determine if he believes it is a precursor.”

The district has not publicly released any information on the case so far, other than Superintendent Ramon Cortines‘ saying the investigation had raised “serious issues.”

Esquith told the Times that he was put under investigation in April and removed from the classroom for making a joke that referenced a passage from the novel “Huckleberry Finn.” He said he told his class they may have to perform nude like a character in the story if he wasn’t able to raise enough funds, and that another teacher complained about it.

Esquith acknowledged making the joke, and Geragos said that was the extent of the original complaint against him but the district’s investigation expanded to focus on Esquith’s nonprofit, the Hobart Shakespeareans, including its process of permission slips, chaperons and whether it makes clear it is not affiliated with the district, the Times reported.

Esquith is an author of several books on teaching and has worked at Hobart Avenue Elementary School for decades. He has received national recognition for his work with his nonprofit, which raises money for his students to put on Shakespeare plays. His work has been profiled by PBS, the CBS Evening News, Time, People and other national outlets. Washington Post education columnist Valerie Strauss described him as “the most famous teacher in the world.”

Esquith’s case is thrusting the issue of “teacher jail” into the spotlight once again, where it has been numerous times since the Miramonte Elementary sex abuse scandal broke in 2011 and former teacher Mark Berndt was ultimately convicted of multiple counts of committing lewd acts on his students. The Miramonte case also led to the district’s record-breaking $170 million in civil lawsuit payouts.

In the aftermath of the scandal, the LA teachers union, UTLA, complained that the district began investigating teachers at a much higher rate. Hundreds of teachers, sometimes more than 300, have been reported to be barred from the classroom at a time in recent years.

Teachers can fall under investigation for anything from serious accusation of sexual misconduct to a simple violation of district policies. The district used to house all teachers under investigation in administrative offices during working hours, and they were often often given nothing to do, which gave rise to the “teacher jail” term. In 2014, the district switched policy and began sending most of the teachers home, but the term has come to often apply to any teacher that is barred from the classroom with pay while the district investigates them.

The investigations can take months, and teachers are often not informed of the accusations against them. UTLA made the district’s disciplinary process an issue in its negations for a new contract agreement, reached in April, that calls for the district to give teachers under investigation more rights.

“The teacher jail issues, which ballooned under Deasy, was a huge part of our contract negotiations and we got first-time contract language, making sure due process is followed, and time limits are followed in investigations,” UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl told LA School Report. “So we want to make sure that the district is following those very common sense guidelines that are now contractual  language. We want to make sure that they’re following them in this case of Rafe Esquith.”

Caputo-Pearl did say that the speed of teacher investigations has improved under new Superintendent Ramon Cortines.

“Cortines, to his credit, has worked with us on a number of different cases where we were able to cut through some red tape,” Caputo-Pearl said.

Vanessa Romo contributed reporting to this story.


Education Inc. Documentary Follows the Money Corrupting Our Schools

imageA new documentary will be released in community-based screenings across the country on August 14th. This film could provide a powerful boost to local efforts to organize resistance to the corporate takeover of public schools. It is called Education Inc, and it tells the tale all too familiar to many of us – that of the drive to privatize one of the few public institutions left in our withering democracy.

If you are frustrated by what you see happening in your local schools, if your school board is beset by billionaire-sponsored candidates, and charter schools are starving neighborhood schools of funding, this film might give you a much needed rallying point. The film’s creator is making it available for community showings, and is building for a one-day national release on August 14. A film showings can provide a focal point that brings people together and inspires further actions. Details for booking the film are here.

But first, a bit of background on this story. I met Brian Malone a couple of years ago, when some parent activists brought me to Douglas County, Colorado, to talk about what was happening with corporate education reform. It was just a week or two prior to a major election that pitted those who supported public schools against a pro-privatization slate backed by ALEC and big money from outside of the area. There was all sorts of skullduggery in this election. The District used taxpayer funds to commission a pseudo-academic “white paper” by the head of the American Enterprise Institute, Rick Hess. His paper, and accompanying blog post, described Douglas County as “the most interesting district in America,” because it was a wealthy district experimenting with school choice. This paper was released in the middle of the campaign, and put a rosy glow on the candidates who supported this approach. It came out later that the school district paid Hess and his co-author $30,000 for their praise.

This money was just the tip of a much bigger iceberg that threatens to sink public education in communities across the country. Teacher friends who worked in film maker Brian Malone’s community began telling him that things were awry a few years ago. At first he could not believe things could be as bad as he was hearing. He explains:

I agreed to attend some school board meetings and even videotape them out of curiosity. It wasn’t long until I began to see things differently. I watched this new school board systematically dismantle every part of what made Douglas County Schools great for more than 50 years. School board meetings sounded more like corporate shareholder meetings. Student fees multiplied, while at the same time the board was holding back almost $100-million from classrooms. And for the first time ever, my kids had to pay to ride the school bus. There was a lot of talk about encouraging competition, letting market pressures decide the direction of schools, and so on. And after a 50-year healthy relationship with the teachers union, suddenly they were enemy number one. Perhaps the biggest surprise was how arrogant and off-limits the public school board behaved. Any parent or citizen who questioned the reforms, or simply wanted to know more information was ignored and often, publicly ridiculed by the board itself. Where was all of this coming from?

Malone decided to find out and began his quest. Education Inc. is the result. Here is a synopsis:

Americans pay almost $600-billion every year in public tax dollars to educate public school children. But for free-market ideologues, private investors and large education corporations, those tax dollars are too tempting to resist. Education, Inc. examines the free-market and for-profit interests that have been quietly and systematically dismantling America’s public education system under the banner of “school choice.”

Education, Inc. is told through the eyes of parent and filmmaker Brian Malone, as he travels cross-country in search of the answers and sources behind the privatizing of American public education, and what it means for his kids. With striking footage from school protests, raucous school board meetings and interviews with some of the most well known educators in the country, Malone zooms out to paint a clear picture of profit and politics that’s sweeping across the nation, right under our noses.

>>>Read more


Former Md. officer caught on video punching handcuffed teen sentenced


Video shows a Prince George’s County police officer hitting a teenager.(Photo: Prince George’s County State’s Attorney)

A former Prince George’s County police officer caught on video punching a handcuffed teen in a holding cell was sentenced Monday to two years of probation.

Jerry Thomas, 27, was also sentenced to 80 hours of community service for the November 2012 incident, the Prince George’s County State’s Attorney’s Office announced in a Twitter message Monday.

The 15-year-old involved in the incident had been arrested on suspicion of destruction of property. The teen was singing, yelling and cursing in a holding cell before Thomas walked in and struck the boy, according to police and prosecutors.

Thomas settled charges of misconduct in office in April by entering an Alford plea. The plea means that Thomas maintains he is innocent but acknowledges that prosecutors had enough evidence to win a conviction against him. The plea appears as a finding of guilt in court records.

Thomas had been suspended with pay during the county’s investigation, police said.

He resigned from the police force in June, according to a spokeswoman for the Prince George’s County State’s Attorney’s Office.

deepest, oldest lake in the world holding 1/5 of the planet’s fresh water!

lake-baikal-alternateBaikal is not only one of the GREAT ecological wonders but it’s surroundings are inhabited by the Buryat people who have called it home for over 8000 years.

One of the world’s oldest geographical features (formed 25 to 30 million years ago), magnificent Lake Baikal (Озеро Байкал) is the highlight of Eastern Siberia for many. Summer travellers enjoy gob-smacking vistas across waters of the deepest blue to soaring mountain ranges on the opposite shore; rarer winter visitors marvel at its powder-white surface, frozen steel-hard and scored with ice roads. Whether they swim in it, drink its water, skirt its southern tip by train, cycle or dog sled over it in winter or just admire it from 2000km of shoreline, most agree that Siberia doesn’t get better than this.

Banana-shaped Baikal is 636km from north to south and up to 1637m deep, making it the world’s deepest lake. In fact it’s not a lake at all, but the world’s future fifth ocean containing nearly one-fifth of the planet’s unfrozen fresh water (more than North America’s five Great Lakes combined). Despite some environmental concerns, it’s pure enough to drink in most places but use common sense. Fed by 300 rivers, it’s drained by just one, the Angara near Listvyanka.

2E9ABC1A8 1920х1080  ozero bajkal, fotografii, oboi,lake Baikal17 Bankoboev.Ru_prozrachnaya_glad_na_ozero_baikal Jezioro_Bajkał_2 Karte_baikal2maps-baikal***


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A State of War: Traditional Public vs. Charter Schools in Chicago


Against a budget with a $1 billion shortfall, a significantly underfunded pension plan, and the need to negotiate a new labor contract, the tug of war between charter schools and traditional public schools continues in Chicago as it does in many communities from coast to coast.

Under current Illinois law, local school districts have a difficult time integrating charter applications into a strategic planning framework. As written in the Chicago Sun-Times, Jack Elsey, the chief officer of innovation and incubation for the Chicago Public Schools, said the district “can’t base its charter school decisions on need and location because of the Illinois Charter School Commission, which can override CPS if it denies a charter and then fund the school with money that the district would have otherwise controlled. CPS would have no oversight of the school in that case.”

“We have to review applications based on quality, not on location,” he said.

So despite having closed 48 public schools in 2013 and already having over 130 charters operating within the city, CPS has been reviewing proposals for 30 new charter schools for the September 2016 school year.

The independence of charter schools, once approved, pits supporters of public neighborhood schools against charter school operators for a share of the already severely stressed CPS budget. Linze Rice of DNAinfo reports:

“Last week at a Local School Council meeting at Gale Elementary in Chicago’s Rogers Park neighborhood, members signed a formal letter ‘adamantly opposing’ the opening of any additional schools in the neighborhood, saying Gale had over $1 million in funding cuts in recent years. When students enroll in charter schools rather than public schools, those who remain within CPS suffer because of the per-pupil funding structure, they said. The reduced funding has caused Gale to cut after-school programs, all librarians, technology teachers and slim down its educational offerings.”

Andrew Broy, president of the Illinois Network of Charter Schools, said in a statement that “charter public schools exist because tens of thousands of Chicago parents demand a choice in the public education system and send their children to charter schools. We do not support charter school growth for the sake of more schools, but to address the quality issue facing the district.”

Local educators see the impact of charter schools differently. Susan Lofton, principal of Nicholas Senn High School, says, “We have all been working so hard with our community to bring our schools up, to serve the community, to offer the programs our families want and to really engage in this resurgence where the community has a true community school that is an asset and a partner.”

What is happening in Chicago illustrates well the debate going on nationally between those who believe that the solution to our educational challenges lies in creating a more robust educational marketplace where every parent and child has the ability to choose the school that is best suited to their needs, interests, and talents, and those who believe that ensuring a quality education for all children requires dealing with issues of proper school funding, poverty, race and community. The struggle in Chicago seems to indicate that the advocates for a market-based strategy are winning this tug of war.

The Chicago Tribune ended an editorial this week with this plea: “This is a war that has to end. It does not serve children.” But with limited school budgets and little data to suggest the marketplace model of education actually outperforms or even matches the public school model, it seems unlikely that their wish will come true.—Marty Levine


March to the Dominican Republic Embassy Washington DC

imageStreet Address: Dupont Circle
City: Washington
State/Region: DC
Date: Monday, June 22, 2015 – 5:30pm

Event Info:

Join the Association of Haitian Professionals (AHP) & other concerned organizations to march to the Dominican Republic Embassy in Washington, DC on Monday, June 22nd, 2015. The event will begin with a rally at Dupont Circle at 5:30pm followed by the march to the embassy. They are calling for individuals and concerned organizations to march in solidarity to speak out against this injustice and crime against human rights in the Dominican Republic.

The 2013 ruling (TC 168-13) suddenly stripped over 200,000 Dominicans of Haitian descent of their citizenship going back as far as 1929. This ruling violates the DR’s own constitution at the time as well as international human rights conventions. Now, the DR is enforcing this law with forced deportations and expulsions.

Together, our voices will express opposition to this gross violation of human rights happening in the DR right now! Please join on Monday, June 22nd, 2015 as hundreds gather to protest against this injustice. Please bring signs and share this information. For more information, contact Victoire Dorélus, PR Officer at 202.207.4739 or

For more unformation, please visit here.

Immigration/International Justice
Racial Justice
imageWashington DC



15 Most Dangerous Roads in the World.

Empty single lane road through hills (Newscom TagID: zumakonaworld037948) [Photo via Newscom]

As drivers, we often encounter unsafe road conditions at one time or another, whether it is inclement weather, t-bone collisions, or just a road that is not structurally sound. But for the most part, many of our day-to-day driving is done in relatively safe conditions. That is not the case for many of those who live in remote areas without proper infrastructure.

At one time or another, most drivers encounter unsafe road conditions. Hazards can appear in many different forms; for instance, poor weather, drunk drivers, and simple human error can all complicate an otherwise uneventful journey. On the other hand, sometimes the condition of the road itself can put your life in jeopardy.

Some of the following roads appear normal, but actually have high death rates. Others just look outrageously insane. And, of course, some roads fall into both categories.

The following is a list of 15 of the most dangerous roads in the world. These roads have high death rates and are extremely dangerous. The people who live around these areas depend on these roads for their daily transportation; so consider yourself lucky.

Without further ado, we present to you the list of 15 of the world’s most dangerous roads:

1. North Yungas Road in Boliviaimage

Also known as “the Death Road,” the North Yungas Road is located in the Yungas region in Bolivia. It is about 40 miles long and stretches from La Paz to Corico. According to the Inter-American Development Bank, this is the “world’s most dangerous road.” There has been an estimation of 200 to 300 people that have died driving on this road.

This road is amongst the few that connect northern Bolivia to the Amazon rainforest region. The road consists of a single lane that is no more than 10 feet with no guard rails. There are extreme drop-offs that make the drive very dangerous, especially having no railings to stop you from falling. The weather contributes to making the drive very dangerous. Fog, dust and rain can reduce visibility. In 2006, construction was done to this road; bridges, drainage, rails, and multiple lanes with pavement have been put in to make it safer for drivers to travel.

2. Guoliang Tunnel Road in China


This road is located in the Taihang Mountains inside the Hunan Province of China. The small village of Guoliang sits on the mountaintop, far away from modern civilization. In the past the only way to reach this village was by walking through the valley surrounded by many steep cliffs. However, the Chinese government decided to invest money into making a drivable road into the region.

This mountain road was built by local villagers in 1972 and took 5 years to finish. On May 1, 1977 the tunnel was opened to traffic. This long tunnel is almost a mile long, 16 feet tall, and 13 feet wide. This tunnel has become a popular tourist attraction in China as it has many windows looking out over the valley. However, Guoliang tunnel is especially dangerous to drive on during the rainy seasons.

3. Halsema Highway in Philippinesimageimage

This highway is the highest highway in the Philippines in terms of altitude. The Halsema Highway is 150 miles long and connects the Baguio and Benguet provinces to Northern Luzon. Landslides, mud slides, and falling rocks are common along this road. Bus drivers travel at high speeds on these narrow roads, making it very dangerous for smaller vehicles.

A majority of the roads are unpaved with many steep drop offs, some more than 1,000 feet. The lack of safety rails to protect drivers at high altitudes is one of the big reasons this highway is considered one of the most dangerous highways in the world. During the rainy seasons, it is almost impossible to drive along this highway because of the frequency of landslides.

4. Karakoram Highway, Pakistan


Named the “Friendship Highway” by the governments who built it. The Karakoram Highway is the highest paved international road in the world. It connects China and Pakistan across the Karakoram mountain range, through the Khunjerab Pass, at an elevation of 4,693 metres. It’s prone to landslides and floods and to make matters worse, the road is unpaved in Pakistan. But it is still a tourist attraction, passing through some spectacular gorges along the old Silk Road.

5. James Dalton Highway, Alaska


The Dalton Highway is a 667 km road in Alaska. It begins at the Elliott Highway, north of Fairbanks, and ends at Deadhorse near the Arctic Ocean and the Prudhoe Bay oil fields. Although appearing serene at first glance, is filled with potholes, small flying rocks carried by fast winds, and worst of all it runs through the middle of nowhere. Once you run out of gas without anything else to spare, you are on your own!

6. Jalalabad–Kabul Road, AfghanistanDSCN6401

Many roads have been dubbed “most dangerous,” but the 65-kilometer stretch of highway from Jalalabad to Kabul has more claim than most, snaking through Taliban territory. But it’s not the threat of insurgency that makes Highway so dangerous. It’s a combination of the narrow, winding lanes that climb up to 600 meters through the Kabul gorge and the reckless Afghan drivers trying to overtake the heavily-burdened haulage trucks.

7.The Stelvio Pass, Italy

stelvio-pass-italy1The highest paved mountain pass in the Eastern Alps –and the second highest in the Alps, after the Col de l’Iseran (2770 m)–, the Stelvio Pass Road connects the Valtellina with the upper Adige valley and Merano. It is located in the Italian Alps, near Bormio and Sulden, 75 km from Bolzano, close to Swiss border.

While it might not be as risky as other deadly routes, it’s certainly breathtaking. The tour books advise that the toughest and most spectacular climbing is from the Prato side, Bormio side approach is more tame. With 48 hairpins, this road is regarded as one of the finest continuous hairpin routes in the Alps.

8. Los Caracoles Pass, Chile

499540This road passes through mountain Andreas between Chile and Argentina.The road has many steep slopes and sharp turns without fences security. The road is snow-covered almost all the year. Snow together with the complex natural landscape requires extreme patience and driving skill to drive in emergency situations. However, this road is maintained in working condition, which significantly reduces the number of accidents on it. Trucks and even double-decker tourist buses travel daily on this road.

9. The Trans-Siberian Highway, Russia

roads-Abakan-Russ-_3093961kStretching almost 7,000 miles from St Petersburg to Vladivostok, the Trans-Siberian Highway – much of which was built by gulag inmates – varies from pristine motorway in the west to dirt track in the east. For most of the year, conditions are excellent (if a little cold), but during the warm, wet summers, sections of the road have been transformed into an impassable quagmire. There are some excellent photos here.

10.Atlantic Ocean Road, Norway


In good weather, the five-mile stretch offers breath-taking scenery along the Scandinavian country’s western coast. But when the weather takes an ugly turn, cars are lashed by powerful wind gusts and pounded by large waves that send frigid water crashing over barricades or the rocky shore.

11. Nairobi-Nakuru Highway, Kenya

nakuru1Nairobi-Nakuru Highway (officially called A104) is an asphalted highway, with a length of 159km, located in Kenya. The road is extremely dangerous as the stretch is notorious as a top spot for drunk drivers, and combined with speeding, poor overtaking skills, driver error, lack of traffic law enforcement and pedestrians wandering into the road. This is one dangerous road and place to be. In one year alone, 320 people were killed on this highway alone. It was recently repaved in an effort to stem road traffic accidents (as it was pretty dangerous previously). Sadly this has not done much to stop the crashes.

12. Taroko Gorge Road, Taiwan

Taiwan_2009_HuaLien_Taroko_Gorge_FRD_5527_Pano_Extracted Taiwan_2009_HuaLien_Taroko_Gorge_FRD_5672_Pano_ExtractedWith blind bends, narrow roads, mountain drops and every type of transport possible vying for space, the Taroko Gorge Road is one of the most dangerous in Taiwan. Heavy typhoons and seismic activity only add to the danger that contributes to 96,611 road deaths in Taiwan every year. Not as ‘Magnificient and Splendid’ as the translated name suggests.

13.The Million Dollar Highway—Colorado, USA

02_Million Dollar Highway_Flickr_squeaks2569_ss

Southwest Colorado’s Million Dollar Highway is, for much of its length, an idyllic, breathtakingly beautiful alpine road that connects Durango to Ouray via three 10,000-plus-foot mountain passes. But the 12 miles south of Ouray—particularly for Durango-bound drivers, who are exposed to the unprotected cliffsides—are steep, twisting and completely unforgiving of driver error. Originally hand-carved by Russian immigrant Otto Mears in the 1880s, the modern highway remains open through the slip-and-slide snowy months (pictured). As the locals say, though, you’d have to “pay me a million dollars” to drive that stretch in the snow.

14. Federal Highway 1—Mexico

130314-Federal Highway1-vjpMX19830011i1

The only road to link the far-flung towns and villages of Mexico’s sun-baked Baja Peninsula is this narrow, two-lane byway. Shared by freight trucks, oversized RVs and, well, almost every single vehicle on this 1,000-mile-long peninsula, it can get downright hairy, particularly where it twists through the mountains and hugs the coastline between hillsides and sea. Accidents are common and, in many places, guardrails are split open where previous drivers have missed their turns.

In mean places on this highway, it features sheer drops into the sea, winding roads and drivers with dangerous overtaking manoeuvres. This wild snake of a highway is an unpredictable nightmare for the many freight trucks, buses and cars that pass it every day. Watch out for the other drivers – in six (6) Mexican states, you don’t need to pass a test to drive a car. Good luck.

15. Luxor-al-Hurghada Road—Egypt

From_Hurghada_to_Luxor_11 Luxor-al-Hurghada-Road-Egypt

The 180-mile route from Egypt’s Red Sea diving resort of Hurghada to the Nile-side city of Luxor doesn’t look treacherous at all. In fact, the modern highway runs pretty straight across the flat, wide-open terrain. But topography’s not the challenge here. At night, bandits and terrorists are known to prey upon defenseless motorists, reportedly prompting those unlucky enough to be caught out after sunset to speed across the pitch-black desert with their headlights turned off. Collisions, as you can imagine, are common.




Bitter budget battle in Prince George’s ends with Rushern Baker waving a white flag. He surrenders finally.


By Arelis R. Hernández June 19 at 5:25 PM
Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D) announced Friday that he will accept the 2016 operating budget approved by the County Council and not challenge it in court, bringing an end to the most bitter battle he has waged with the council since taking office.

In a statement, Baker said he decided to put the interests of county residents “ahead of a lengthy and divisive legal process” surrounding a section of county law that he and the council interpreted differently.

The litigation would have fostered “uncertainty and disharmony,” the statement said.

The council rejected Baker’s proposal for a 15-percent hike in the property tax rate to generate more funds for public schools. Baker then vetoed parts of the budget passed by the council, demanding a tax rate hike of 11.45 percent. But the council overrode that veto and stuck with a 4-percent property tax rate hike — the first in Prince George’s in more than three decades — and a 1.5-cent increase in the park and planning tax.

Baker went on a countywide tour this spring to drum up support for his proposal to raise taxes dramatically to generate $133 million for public schools. He argued that better schools would boost home prices, attract new families and businesses and improve the county’s regional competitiveness.

But he failed to convince residents or win cooperation from lawmakers. The council passed an alternative budget that cut most of the Baker’s new initiatives and eliminated proposed furloughs and layoffs.

Baker then said that the county was barred by law from adjusting his proposed budget by more than 1 percent — a contention that council members said was ludicrous.

In his statement, Baker said the controversy over school funding was evidence that “we are very passionate about this place we call home.”

via Washington Post