Monthly Archives: November 2015

323 guns collected at gun turn in program in Prince George’s

imageGuns collected at gun turn in program at the First Baptist Church of Glenarden, Saturday, November 21, 2015. (Deputy Chief Nader/@DChiefNaderPGPD/Twitter)

UPPER MARLBORO, Md.  — A Prince George’s County gun turn in program led to the collection of 323 guns, Prince George’s county police said.

The event was held Saturday at the First Baptist Church of Glenarden worship center in Upper Marlboro, Maryland.

In a tweet from the First Baptist Church of Glenarden, the church said in a partnership with Zion Church and Prince George’s County Police, 323 guns were collected including semi-automatics, rifles and handguns. Individuals that turned in guns received gift cards.

According to NBC4 Tracee Walkins, there has been 14 more murders this year from last year.

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The Nike KD 8 “Prince George’s” Pays Tribute to KD’s Home County

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The Nike KD 8 “Prince George’s” is a brand new Nike KD 8 colorway that pays tribute to Kevin Durant’s home county, Maryland.

We’ve seen a kids version of the KD 8 release with a multicolored sole, but this adults pair not only has a similar rainbow sole, but the tongue also receives a colorful geographic pattern too.
The “Prince George’s” edition of the Nike KD 8 is dressed in a Wolf Grey, Court Purple, Cool Grey, and Blue Lagoon color scheme. The shoe features a full Grey base upper with Court Purple on the Nike Swoosh and sits atop a Yellow midsole.

Nike KD 8 Prince Georges Release Date

Check out the detailed images below and look for the Nike KD 8 “Prince George’s” to release on November 25th, 2015 at select Nike Basketball retail stores. The retail price tag is set at $180 USD.

Nike KD 8 “Prince George’s”
Wolf Grey/Court Purple-Cool Grey-Blue Lagoon
749375-050
November 25, 2015
$180

UPDATE: Nike has released official images of the “Prince George’s” Nike KD 8 that drops this Wednesday, November 25th. Check out the images below and let us know how many of you are planning on scooping these up in the comments section?

via Nike

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Nike Headquarters

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PGCPS football coach gets 10 years for having sex with a student

Andre Brown

Andre Brown

UPPER MARLBORO, Md. (ABC7/AP) — A former High Point High School teacher and football coach was sentenced to 10 years in prison for having sex with a student. Andre Brown, 34, was found guilty in September.

According to a statement from Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrooks, on Homecoming Day in September, 2013, Brown, had sex with a 17-year-old student in the boy’s locker room at High Point High School in Beltsville. The incident occurred during school hours.

Brown was arrested last year after the girl accused him of sexually abusing her on the school grounds.

Brown was placed on leave by the school system following his arrest. He had been a special education teacher at High Point. He was fired as the football coach following the 2013 season.

When he leaves prison, Brown will have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.

“We are pleased that Mr. Brown was given this sentence because he was in a position of power and had the responsibility to care for and protect the children in his school,” Alsobrooks said. “Instead, Mr. Brown violated that trust and now not only is his life forever changed, but so are the lives of the victim and her family, as well as his own children and family.”

Via WJLA

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World Toilet Day is November 19th.

Take Action.

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We, the People Who Can’t Wait

2.4 billion People do not have adequate sanitation. 1 billion people still defecate in the open. Poor sanitation increases the risk of disease and malnutrition, especially for women and children. Women and girls risk rape and abuse, because they have no toilet that offers privacy.”

This year, World Toilet Day is focusing on the link between sanitation and nutrition, drawing the world’s attention to the importance of toilets in supporting better nutrition and improved health. Lack of access to clean drinking water and sanitation, along with the absence of good hygiene practices, are among the underlying causes of poor nutrition.

The aim of World Toilet Day is to raise awareness about the people in the world who don’t have access to a toilet, despite the fact that it is a human right to have clean water and sanitation.“

On this day people are encouraged to take action and help promote the idea that more needs to be done. You can host an exhibition, write a toilet song, host a dinner or draw a cartoon – anything that shows #wecantwaitany longer and that everyone worldwide must have access to a toilet.

Sustainable Development Goals

Goal 6: Ensure access to water and sanitation for all

Clean, accessible water for all is an essential part of the world we want to live in. There is sufficient fresh water on the planet to achieve this. But due to bad economics or poor infrastructure, every year millions of people, most of them children, die from diseases associated with inadequate water supply, sanitation and hygiene.

The initiative builds on the strong commitment already made by UN Member States.  The “Sanitation for All’ Resolution (A/RES/67/291) was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in July 2013, designating 19 November as World Toilet Day. The Day is coordinated by UN-Water in collaboration with Governments and relevant stakeholders.

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“The 2030 Agenda calls on us to renew our efforts in providing access to adequate sanitation worldwide. We must continue to educate and protect communities at risk, and to change cultural perceptions and long-standing practices that hinder the quest for dignity.”

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

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Maryland lawmakers call for better education, more support for new immigrants

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By Liz Bowie

Maryland educators and legislators say that more services and new approaches to teaching are needed for immigrant students struggling to get an education as they adjust to life in the United States.

“I think it is abundantly clear that as hard as folks in the city are trying, we have long way to go to make sure that we are giving immigrant students a great education,” said Sen. Bill Ferguson, a Baltimore Democrat.

The General Assembly may need a task force to examine ways to help these newcomers, said Del. Brooke Lierman, a Democrat. She represents the Southeast Baltimore neighborhood that includes Patterson High, a school with hundreds of the newcomers.

“It may be that we need to convene some task force or working group to dive into these issues,” she said. “We want to make sure they can graduate from high school and have the chance to go to college and can get good jobs. We want them to be able to live the American dream like our ancestors have.”

Ferguson and Lierman were among the officials reacting to Unsettled Journeys, a Baltimore Sun series that detailed the lives of three Patterson students from Africa, the Middle East and Central America as they forge new lives in Baltimore.

The series, Ferguson said, has sparked a conversation about ways to improve the outlook for the students — including those struggling to take algebra even though they may not have learned to read.

“The more services that we can provide to help ease their transition into our schools and our communities, the faster that these new American families will thrive,” Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said in a statement.

State education officials, meanwhile, are looking at ways to share practices that have worked at school systems around Maryland. “As a state we are looking at this because we don’t have the answers,” said Susan Spinnato, director of instructional programs.

Baltimore County, which has about 4,500 new immigrants, is testing a new curriculum that will build students’ language skills as well as their knowledge of American culture, said Brian Schiffer, who is in charge of the English as a Second Language program.

Schiffer said he believes more attention should be paid to the social and emotional aspects of teaching these students. He hopes to bring in organizations and individuals with expertise in dealing with trauma and reunification difficulties between Latino youths and their parents.

Although some students take classes designed for those learning English when they first arrive, Baltimore schools chief academic officer Linda Chen said most foreign-born students are educated largely by regular classroom teachers who need more training in dealing with newcomers.

These immigrants, once isolated in certain Baltimore neighborhoods, are now showing up in schools around the city where teachers are less prepared, she said.

Prince George’s County, which has had a large immigrant population for years, has pursued initiatives that could be a model for other school systems around the state.

This year the county opened two immigrant-only schools. Alison Hanks Sloan, principal of the International School at Largo, said the schools opened after years of planning, and with the help of grants and funding from nonprofits. “We are creating a whole new culture and structure, a whole new way of empowering our students and staff,” she said.

The school has high expectations, but judges students on how much progress they are making in learning English and content rather than whether they have met the standard of the students in regular public schools.

Getting the new schools going — and coming up with needed resources — has been difficult, said state Sen. Paul Pinsky, a Prince George’s Democrat.

“There was a struggle with the school board. Some people thought it was giving more resources to new immigrants than to people who have been here for generations,” Pinsky said.

Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker said the new arrivals have strained a school system that doesn’t have enough resources, and the loss of $20 million Gov. Larry Hogan cut from the proposed budget has made the situation worse.

Still, he said, “we’ve got to make sure that access to health care, access to counseling, and the resources from the state, local and federal government go into making sure that the children that are in our care get a quality education and a quality preparation for life. They have been through a lot.”

In January, Maryland will begin working with seven other states to create a more equitable system for holding schools accountable for their students learning English — one that doesn’t penalize teachers, principals and schools.

Under the current system, schools like Patterson can be labeled as failing if a significant percentage of their English language learners aren’t passing state tests and graduating in four years.

Spinnato said the eight states want to create a system that is fairer, while maintaining high standards for these newcomers. The states would need federal approval to use the new system.

Baltimore leaders, including the mayor, have welcomed the new students and their families because they can help boost the city’s population and economy.

“I think America is absolutely at its best when we are a beacon of hope and a place that is committed to helping all of our residents,” Ferguson said. “Immigration is what made Baltimore a great city. We can replicate the progress that our city has seen previously.”

Baltimore Sun reporter Erin Cox contributed to this article.

liz.bowie@baltsun.com

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PGCPS Board battles over funding, possible tax hikes

The Prince George’s County Board of Education meets on June 25 to discuss the budget for fiscal year 2016. The budget passed with seven ayes, three abstentions, and two nos.The Prince George’s County Board of Education supports maintaining current law, which authorizes the county governing body to set a property tax rate higher than authorized in the charter, or collect more property tax revenues than authorized under the charter, for the sole purpose of funding the approved budget of the county board of education,” the section reads.

UPPER MARLBORO – Last budget season Prince George’s County Board of Education member Edward Burroughs II found out about possible tax increases through the news. This year, he doesn’t want any surprises.

To combat any unwanted tax hikes for members of the county, Burroughs, along with members of the board of education policy, legal and legislative committee, struck language from the board’s legislative platform in support of a tax hike.

“The Prince George’s County Board of Education supports maintaining current law, which authorizes the county governing body to set a property tax rate higher than authorized in the charter, or collect more property tax revenues than authorized under the charter, for the sole purpose of funding the approved budget of the county board of education,” the section reads.

At the board meeting on Nov. 12, Monique Davis, who was acting on behalf of Chief Executive Officer Kevin Maxwell, said Maxwell is not in support of the language cut.

“These edits go beyond what Dr. Maxwell and his staff had originally recommended,” she said. “Dr. Maxwell is fine will all the edits with exception of the striking of the paragraph on page five.”

Davis said Maxwell believes these edits will put the board in opposition to many school boards throughout the state and would take away a “future tool for funding public education” in the county.

“All this language does is advocate the current law passed in 2012, remain in place,” she said.

However, Burroughs said the county residents spoke “loud and clear” last year against raising taxes in the county.

“We do not believe the county executive should have the authority, even with the county council’s approval, to raise property takes,” he said. “We have the highest foreclosure rate in the entire region. Families in this region are struggling, living paycheck to paycheck. Raising property taxes for the purpose of education alone isn’t going to move our district forward.”

Burroughs said without an intense internal evaluation of the current programs and their use of funds, he doesn’t think the school board or county should be asking the residents to pay more for education.

“Before we go to the public and ask them to increase property taxes, we need to evaluate our current programs to make sure we are maximizing our current resources. Until that happens, I don’t think we should have the audacity to go to the public to increase property taxes,” he said.

At the same time, board member Carolyn Boston said eliminating the text would be counterproductive to what the board and school system are trying to do.

“It’s not that we’re saying, ‘yes we want to go out here and have the county executive raise taxes to a certain amount.’ What we’re saying is that we support them in however way they take to raise money to help support the process of education of our kids,” Boston said.

Student board member Ava Perry agreed.

“If we really need money for things like (Advanced Placement) expansion, prekindergarten expansion, stuff that costs money as you want to expand, I think it’s important that we do keep this an option,” she said.

Curtis Valentine, who made the motion to reinstate the struck-through language, said by keeping the boards support, they continue to put the responsibility on the county council to listen to their constituents and make budget decisions.

“I would expect that to not change in the future in the event that the community is not in support of increasing taxes,” he said.

The amendment to the legislative platform passed nine votes to three, with only Burroughs, Zabrina Epps and Verjeana Jacobs opposing.

Jacobs said no matter what the board decided, for or against, the law is the law.

“The current law says the county council has that authority. Now, whether people agree that’s a violation of citizens rights is, that’s a whole other story,” she said.

Via Prince George’s County sentinel 

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International Day for the Eradication of Poverty

2015 Theme:

Building a sustainable future: Coming together to end poverty and discrimination

MDG--Malnutrition--Indian-009The 2015 observance of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty is a special one, as it comes on the heels of the adoption of Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The Agenda, which succeeds the Millennium Development Goals, contains 17 new and ambitious goals – foremost among them, to “end poverty in all its forms everywhere”.

The International Day for the Eradication of Poverty has been observed every year since 1993, when the United Nations General Assembly, by resolution 47/196, designated this day to promote awareness of the need to eradicate poverty and destitution in all countries. Poverty eradication remains at the core of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the development of the new Sustainable Development Goals.

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Hispanic children play at a park in Langley Park, Maryland. A full thirty percent of youth living in poverty in Prince George’s County are Hispanic.

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“This year’s observance of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty falls as the world embarks on a bold new path towards a future of dignity for all guided by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
Message for the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty

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Judge: Phila. schools should heed seniority, hire counselors

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Dr. William Hite Jr violated the law willfully in Prince George’s County public schools District and in Philadelphia School District. In both districts, he is facing lawsuits.

The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers has won another round in its battle with the School District over seniority and counselor staffing levels.

A Common Pleas Court judge denied the district’s request to overturn an arbitrator’s finding that the district violated the union contract in 2013 when it ignored seniority in recalling laid-off counselors.

In an order filed Tuesday, Judge Linda A. Carpenter also backed the arbitrator’s decision that the PFT contract required each school to have at least one counselor on staff.

Union president Jerry Jordan said Thursday that he was “delighted with Judge Carpenter’s decision that clearly there should be one counselor in every school for the children.”

He added: “I think that this is a big victory for the children. I hoped that her ruling would be the end of this, and that the counselors would be restored to the schools.”

But that will not be the case.

A district spokeswoman confirmed that the district had filed an appeal in Commonwealth Court on Thursday, but she declined further comment.

Citing financial woes, the district laid off all 283 counselors in June 2013. It brought back 126 that fall without regard to seniority, and required many of them to serve students at more than one school.

Principals selected the counselors who were recalled, and the PFT filed a grievance.

During a hearing before Carpenter in September, district lawyers argued that Ralph Colflesh, an independent arbitrator, had misinterpreted the PFT contract and overstepped his authority when he ruled in July that every public school in the city should have a full-time counselor.

The district contended that the PFT contract did not contain language covering the recall or reassignment of laid-off counselors. The district also said counselors were restored to the schools they had left based on where the needs were the greatest. To do otherwise, the district said, would have resulted in “mass reshuffling.”

The district has said it would cost $3.4 million to hire enough counselors to have one in every school and millions more to pay counselors’ back wages.

In her decision, Carpenter found that although the contract expired in August 2013, its provisions were in effect because the district and the union had not declared they had reached an impasse in negotiations.

Jordan said nearly 40 of the counselors who were laid off in 2013 had not been recalled by the district.

He pointed out that that was the year the district had closed 24 schools and converted six others to charters.

The counselors’ case is not the only PFT dispute in the courts.

The state Supreme Court has agreed to decide whether the School Reform Commission exceeded its authority in October 2014 when it voted to suspend the PFT contract and impose new economic terms, including changes to the health-care plan.

martha.woodall@phillynews.com215-854-2789@marwooda

via Philly.com

 SchoolDistrict1 School District of Philadelphia headquarters. Bob Laramie/Staff, File

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Striking Photos Show What Classrooms Around The World Look Like

Whether they are coaching students on valuable skills or inspiring kids beyond the classroom, teachers not only give us the tools to succeed — they’re also some of our biggest cheerleaders.

October 5 marks the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s World Teachers’ Day — an initiative to empower teachers and call attention to their role in building sustainable societies. To celebrate the day and and honor teachers who strive to educate, regardless of the environment, Reuters photographers took photos of teachers, students and classrooms around the world. Washington post covered the story over here.

Photographers captured striking scenes of education in action that illustrate the value of teachers everywhere. Starting from those with literally no resources to those well-stocked and housed.

30 Sep 2015, Jalalabad, Afghanistan --- Teacher Mahajera Armani and her class of girls pose for a picture at their study open area, founded by Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC), outside Jalalabad city, Afghanistan September 19, 2015. Nearly three years after Taliban gunmen shot Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai, the teenage activist last week urged world leaders gathered in New York to help millions more children go to school. World Teachers' Day falls on 5 October, a Unesco initiative highlighting the work of educators struggling to teach children amid intimidation in Pakistan, conflict in Syria or poverty in Vietnam. Even so, there have been some improvements: the number of children not attending primary school has plummeted to an estimated 57 million worldwide in 2015, the U.N. says, down from 100 million 15 years ago. Reuters photographers have documented learning around the world, --- Image by © PARWIZ/Reuters/Corbis

30 Sep 2015, Jalalabad, Afghanistan — Teacher Mahajera Armani and her class of girls pose for a picture at their study open area, founded by Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC), outside Jalalabad city, Afghanistan September 19, 2015. Nearly three years after Taliban gunmen shot Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai, the teenage activist last week urged world leaders gathered in New York to help millions more children go to school. World Teachers’ Day falls on 5 October, a Unesco initiative highlighting the work of educators struggling to teach children amid intimidation in Pakistan, conflict in Syria or poverty in Vietnam. Even so, there have been some improvements: the number of children not attending primary school has plummeted to an estimated 57 million worldwide in 2015, the U.N. says, down from 100 million 15 years ago. Reuters photographers have documented learning around the world, — Image by © PARWIZ/Reuters/Corbis

30 Sep 2015, London, England, UK --- Year 9 Biology boys class pose for a picture with teacher Suzanne Veitch in their classroom at Forest School, London, April 27, 2015. Nearly three years after Taliban gunmen shot Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai, the teenage activist last week urged world leaders gathered in New York to help millions more children go to school. World Teachers' Day falls on 5 October, a Unesco initiative highlighting the work of educators struggling to teach children amid intimidation in Pakistan, conflict in Syria or poverty in Vietnam. Even so, there have been some improvements: the number of children not attending primary school has plummeted to an estimated 57 million worldwide in 2015, the U.N. says, down from 100 million 15 years ago. Reuters photographers have documented learning around the world, from well-resourced schools to pupils crammed into corridors in the Phil --- Image by © RUSSELL BOYCE/Reuters/Corbis

30 Sep 2015, London, England, UK — Year 9 Biology boys class pose for a picture with teacher Suzanne Veitch in their classroom at Forest School, London, April 27, 2015. Nearly three years after Taliban gunmen shot Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai, the teenage activist last week urged world leaders gathered in New York to help millions more children go to school. World Teachers’ Day falls on 5 October, a Unesco initiative highlighting the work of educators struggling to teach children amid intimidation in Pakistan, conflict in Syria or poverty in Vietnam. Even so, there have been some improvements: the number of children not attending primary school has plummeted to an estimated 57 million worldwide in 2015, the U.N. says, down from 100 million 15 years ago. Reuters photographers have documented learning around the world, from well-resourced schools to pupils crammed into corridors in the Phil — Image by © RUSSELL BOYCE/Reuters/Corbis

30 Sep 2015, Bujumbura, Burundi --- A teacher leads a class session at the ecole primaire Ave Marie in Burundi's capital Bujumbura, April 24, 2015. Nearly three years after Taliban gunmen shot Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai, the teenage activist last week urged world leaders gathered in New York to help millions more children go to school. World Teachers' Day falls on 5 October, a Unesco initiative highlighting the work of educators struggling to teach children amid intimidation in Pakistan, conflict in Syria or poverty in Vietnam. Even so, there have been some improvements: the number of children not attending primary school has plummeted to an estimated 57 million worldwide in 2015, the U.N. says, down from 100 million 15 years ago. Reuters photographers have documented learning around the world, from well-resourced schools to pupils crammed into corridors in the Philippines, on boats in B --- Image by © THOMAS MUKOYA/Reuters/Corbis

30 Sep 2015, Bujumbura, Burundi — A teacher leads a class session at the ecole primaire Ave Marie in Burundi’s capital Bujumbura, April 24, 2015. Nearly three years after Taliban gunmen shot Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai, the teenage activist last week urged world leaders gathered in New York to help millions more children go to school. World Teachers’ Day falls on 5 October, a Unesco initiative highlighting the work of educators struggling to teach children amid intimidation in Pakistan, conflict in Syria or poverty in Vietnam. Even so, there have been some improvements: the number of children not attending primary school has plummeted to an estimated 57 million worldwide in 2015, the U.N. says, down from 100 million 15 years ago. Reuters photographers have documented learning around the world, from well-resourced schools to pupils crammed into corridors in the Philippines, on boats in B — Image by © THOMAS MUKOYA/Reuters/Corbis

30 Sep 2015, Islamabad --- Master Mohammad Ayoub poses with his fifth grade students at a local park in Islamabad, Pakistan September 18, 2015. Ayoub, a Pakistani civil servant, started his programme to educate underprivileged children in 1985. Ayoub provides the educational supplies from his income as a civil servant while volunteers and his students teach the children English, Urdu and maths. Their classroom is in a local park during fair weather and a room in the local slum in the rainy season. Nearly three years after Taliban gunmen shot Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai, the teenage activist last week urged world leaders gathered in New York to help millions more children go to school. World Teachers' Day falls on 5 October, a Unesco initiative highlighting the work of educators struggling to teach children amid intimidation in Pakistan, conflict in Syria or poverty in Vietnam. Ev --- Image by © CAREN FIROUZ/Reuters/Corbis

30 Sep 2015, Islamabad — Master Mohammad Ayoub poses with his fifth grade students at a local park in Islamabad, Pakistan September 18, 2015. Ayoub, a Pakistani civil servant, started his programme to educate underprivileged children in 1985. Ayoub provides the educational supplies from his income as a civil servant while volunteers and his students teach the children English, Urdu and maths. Their classroom is in a local park during fair weather and a room in the local slum in the rainy season. Nearly three years after Taliban gunmen shot Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai, the teenage activist last week urged world leaders gathered in New York to help millions more children go to school. World Teachers’ Day falls on 5 October, a Unesco initiative highlighting the work of educators struggling to teach children amid intimidation in Pakistan, conflict in Syria or poverty in Vietnam. Ev — Image by © CAREN FIROUZ/Reuters/Corbis

30 Sep 2015, Panama City, Panama --- Year 10 high school students from a vocational program with a maritime focus pose for a photograph at Artes y Oficios Melchor Lasso de la Vega school in Panama City, September 4, 2015. Nearly three years after Taliban gunmen shot Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai, the teenage activist last week urged world leaders gathered in New York to help millions more children go to school. World Teachers' Day falls on 5 October, a Unesco initiative highlighting the work of educators struggling to teach children amid intimidation in Pakistan, conflict in Syria or poverty in Vietnam. Even so, there have been some improvements: the number of children not attending primary school has plummeted to an estimated 57 million worldwide in 2015, the U.N. says, down from 100 million 15 years ago. Reuters photographers have documented learning around the world, from well-resourced s --- Image by © CARLOS JASSO/Reuters/Corbis

30 Sep 2015, Panama City, Panama — Year 10 high school students from a vocational program with a maritime focus pose for a photograph at Artes y Oficios Melchor Lasso de la Vega school in Panama City, September 4, 2015. Nearly three years after Taliban gunmen shot Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai, the teenage activist last week urged world leaders gathered in New York to help millions more children go to school. World Teachers’ Day falls on 5 October, a Unesco initiative highlighting the work of educators struggling to teach children amid intimidation in Pakistan, conflict in Syria or poverty in Vietnam. Even so, there have been some improvements: the number of children not attending primary school has plummeted to an estimated 57 million worldwide in 2015, the U.N. says, down from 100 million 15 years ago. Reuters photographers have documented learning around the world, from well-resourced s — Image by © CARLOS JASSO/Reuters/Corbis

30 Sep 2015, Manila, Luzon Island, Philippines --- Teacher Kristine Passag holds a Values Education class for Grade 9 students in a hallway of Timoteo Paez High School in metro Manila, Philippines, September 15, 2015. Passag says she is temporarily holding classes in hallways while waiting for the completion of a new school building to address the shortage of classrooms. Nearly three years after Taliban gunmen shot Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai, the teenage activist last week urged world leaders gathered in New York to help millions more children go to school. World Teachers' Day falls on 5 October, a Unesco initiative highlighting the work of educators struggling to teach children amid intimidation in Pakistan, conflict in Syria or poverty in Vietnam. Even so, there have been some improvements: the number of children not attending primary school has plummeted to an estimated 57 million worldwide in 2015, --- Image by © ROMEO RANOCO/Reuters/Corbis

30 Sep 2015, Manila, Luzon Island, Philippines — Teacher Kristine Passag holds a Values Education class for Grade 9 students in a hallway of Timoteo Paez High School in metro Manila, Philippines, September 15, 2015. Passag says she is temporarily holding classes in hallways while waiting for the completion of a new school building to address the shortage of classrooms. Nearly three years after Taliban gunmen shot Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai, the teenage activist last week urged world leaders gathered in New York to help millions more children go to school. World Teachers’ Day falls on 5 October, a Unesco initiative highlighting the work of educators struggling to teach children amid intimidation in Pakistan, conflict in Syria or poverty in Vietnam. Even so, there have been some improvements: the number of children not attending primary school has plummeted to an estimated 57 million worldwide in 2015, — Image by © ROMEO RANOCO/Reuters/Corbis

30 Sep 2015, Vietnam --- Giang Thi May teaches a first grade class at the primary school of Van Chai in Dong Van district, on the border with China, north of Hanoi, Vietnam, September 21, 2015. There is no electricity and no books. She teaches the children in the local Hmong language. Nearly three years after Taliban gunmen shot Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai, the teenage activist last week urged world leaders gathered in New York to help millions more children go to school. World Teachers' Day falls on 5 October, a Unesco initiative highlighting the work of educators struggling to teach children amid intimidation in Pakistan, conflict in Syria or poverty in Vietnam. Even so, there have been some improvements: the number of children not attending primary school has plummeted to an estimated 57 million worldwide in 2015, the U.N. says, down from 100 million 15 years ago. Reuters ph --- Image by © KHAM/Reuters/Corbis

30 Sep 2015, Vietnam — Giang Thi May teaches a first grade class at the primary school of Van Chai in Dong Van district, on the border with China, north of Hanoi, Vietnam, September 21, 2015. There is no electricity and no books. She teaches the children in the local Hmong language. Nearly three years after Taliban gunmen shot Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai, the teenage activist last week urged world leaders gathered in New York to help millions more children go to school. World Teachers’ Day falls on 5 October, a Unesco initiative highlighting the work of educators struggling to teach children amid intimidation in Pakistan, conflict in Syria or poverty in Vietnam. Even so, there have been some improvements: the number of children not attending primary school has plummeted to an estimated 57 million worldwide in 2015, the U.N. says, down from 100 million 15 years ago. Reuters ph — Image by © KHAM/Reuters/Corbis

30 Sep 2015, UK --- Primary 7 pupils from Glenaan Primary School in the Glens of Antrim pose for a group picture in their classroom with their teacher and school principal Mr. Close in Northern Ireland, June 22, 2015. Nearly three years after Taliban gunmen shot Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai, the teenage activist last week urged world leaders gathered in New York to help millions more children go to school. World Teachers' Day falls on 5 October, a Unesco initiative highlighting the work of educators struggling to teach children amid intimidation in Pakistan, conflict in Syria or poverty in Vietnam. Even so, there have been some improvements: the number of children not attending primary school has plummeted to an estimated 57 million worldwide in 2015, the U.N. says, down from 100 million 15 years ago. Reuters photographers have documented learning around the world, from wel --- Image by © CATHAL MCNAUGHTON/Reuters/Corbis

30 Sep 2015, UK — Primary 7 pupils from Glenaan Primary School in the Glens of Antrim pose for a group picture in their classroom with their teacher and school principal Mr. Close in Northern Ireland, June 22, 2015. Nearly three years after Taliban gunmen shot Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai, the teenage activist last week urged world leaders gathered in New York to help millions more children go to school. World Teachers’ Day falls on 5 October, a Unesco initiative highlighting the work of educators struggling to teach children amid intimidation in Pakistan, conflict in Syria or poverty in Vietnam. Even so, there have been some improvements: the number of children not attending primary school has plummeted to an estimated 57 million worldwide in 2015, the U.N. says, down from 100 million 15 years ago. Reuters photographers have documented learning around the world, from wel — Image by © CATHAL MCNAUGHTON/Reuters/Corbis

30 Sep 2015, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia --- Tahfiz or Koranic students recite the Koran in Madrasah Nurul Iman boarding school outside Malaysia's capital city, Kuala Lumpur, September 11, 2015. There are 36 male students at the madrasah, ranging from 11 to 18 years of age. Nearly three years after Taliban gunmen shot Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai, the teenage activist last week urged world leaders gathered in New York to help millions more children go to school. World Teachers' Day falls on 5 October, a Unesco initiative highlighting the work of educators struggling to teach children amid intimidation in Pakistan, conflict in Syria or poverty in Vietnam. Even so, there have been some improvements: the number of children not attending primary school has plummeted to an estimated 57 million worldwide in 2015, the U.N. says, down from 100 million 15 years ago. Reuters photographers have documented lea --- Image by © OLIVIA HARRIS/Reuters/Corbis

30 Sep 2015, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia — Tahfiz or Koranic students recite the Koran in Madrasah Nurul Iman boarding school outside Malaysia’s capital city, Kuala Lumpur, September 11, 2015. There are 36 male students at the madrasah, ranging from 11 to 18 years of age. Nearly three years after Taliban gunmen shot Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai, the teenage activist last week urged world leaders gathered in New York to help millions more children go to school. World Teachers’ Day falls on 5 October, a Unesco initiative highlighting the work of educators struggling to teach children amid intimidation in Pakistan, conflict in Syria or poverty in Vietnam. Even so, there have been some improvements: the number of children not attending primary school has plummeted to an estimated 57 million worldwide in 2015, the U.N. says, down from 100 million 15 years ago. Reuters photographers have documented lea — Image by © OLIVIA HARRIS/Reuters/Corbis

30 Sep 2015, Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire --- Teacher Kahon Rochel poses for a picture with students inside their classroom at the the EPV Sinai primary school in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, September 28, 2015. Nearly three years after Taliban gunmen shot Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai, the teenage activist last week urged world leaders gathered in New York to help millions more children go to school. World Teachers' Day falls on 5 October, a Unesco initiative highlighting the work of educators struggling to teach children amid intimidation in Pakistan, conflict in Syria or poverty in Vietnam. Even so, there have been some improvements: the number of children not attending primary school has plummeted to an estimated 57 million worldwide in 2015, the U.N. says, down from 100 million 15 years ago. Reuters photographers have documented learning around the world, from well-resourced schools to pupils crammed i --- Image by © LUC GNAGO/Reuters/Corbis

30 Sep 2015, Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire — Teacher Kahon Rochel poses for a picture with students inside their classroom at the the EPV Sinai primary school in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, September 28, 2015. Nearly three years after Taliban gunmen shot Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai, the teenage activist last week urged world leaders gathered in New York to help millions more children go to school. World Teachers’ Day falls on 5 October, a Unesco initiative highlighting the work of educators struggling to teach children amid intimidation in Pakistan, conflict in Syria or poverty in Vietnam. Even so, there have been some improvements: the number of children not attending primary school has plummeted to an estimated 57 million worldwide in 2015, the U.N. says, down from 100 million 15 years ago. Reuters photographers have documented learning around the world, from well-resourced schools to pupils crammed i — Image by © LUC GNAGO/Reuters/Corbis

imrsClass one children aged between six and seven years old pose for pictures in their classroom at Gifted Hands Educational Centre in Kenya’s Kibera slum in the capital Nairobi, September 16, 2015. (Reuters)

imrsBOGOTATeacher Father Juan Humberto Cruz poses for pictures with 4th grade students at Semillas de Esperanza (Seeds of Hope) school in Soacha, near Bogota, Colombia, June 11, 2015. (REUTERS/John Vizcaino)

Teacher Manel el Ayachi poses for a picture on the first day of a new school year at Linine Street Preparatory School in Tunis, Tunisia, September 16, 2015. (Reuters)imrspasistanThird grade students attend class at the Mashal Model School on the outskirts of Islamabad, Pakistan, September 19, 2015. The Mashal Model School founded by Zeba Husain caters to children of underprivileged families from different parts of Pakistan and Afghanistan living in the village of Bari Imam who, outside of school, are street vendors, scavengers, beggars and car washers. (Reuters)

imrsRabatTeacher Moulay Ismael Lamrani poses for a picture with his class in the Oudaya primary school in Rabat, September 15, 2015, at the start of the new school year in Morocco. (Reuters)

imrsSA

A class at Tyburn Primary School in Chatsworth, Durban, South Africa, September 15, 2015. (Reuters)

imrsaMAZONChildren of the floating Municipal School Sao Jose II pose for a picture along the Amazonas River bank in a rural area of Manaus, Brazil, June 18, 2015. (Reuters)students.3High School is not mandatory in Japan, so these students are attending high school because they want to go onto university.6a010536fa9ded970b017d430c84c6970cChinese students at Zhengzhou No.4 Middle School. These students are equivalent to the 10th grade in the US.Capital heightsCapital Heights Elementary – Prince George’s County -Maryland, United States.

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The astonishing amount of data being collected about your children

imrsBig data is no longer a tool reserved solely for big businesses. (Alan Brandt/AP)

Parental concerns about student privacy have been rising in recent years amid the growing use by schools, school districts and states use technology to collect mountains of detailed information on students. Last year, a controversial $100 million student data collection project funded by the Gates Foundation and operated by a specially created nonprofit organization called inBloom was forced to shut down because of these concerns, an episode that served as a warning to parents about just how much information about their children is being shared without their knowledge.

Here’s an important piece on the issue by Leonie Haimson and Cheri Kiesecker. Haimson was a leading advocate against the inBloom project who then, along with Rachael Stickland, created the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy, a national alliance of parents and advocates defending the rights of parents and students to protect their data. Kiesecker is a member of the coalition.

By Leonie Haimson and Cheri Kiesecker

 Remember that ominous threat from your childhood, This will go down on your permanent record?” Well, your children’s permanent record is a whole lot bigger today and it may be permanent. Information about your children’s behavior and nearly everything else that a school or state agency knows about them is being tracked, profiled and potentially shared.

During a February 2015 congressional hearing on “How Emerging Technology Affects Student Privacy,” Rep. Glenn Grothman of Wisconsin asked the panel to “provide a summary of all the information collected by the time a student reaches graduate school.” Joel Reidenberg, director of the Center on Law & Information Policy at Fordham Law School, responded:

           “Just think George Orwell, and take it to the nth degree. We’re in an environment of surveillance,              essentially. It will be an extraordinarily rich data set of your life.”

Most student data is gathered at school via multiple routes; either through children’s online usage or information provided by parents, teachers or other school staff. A student’s education record generally includes demographic information, including race, ethnicity, and income level; discipline records, grades and test scores, disabilities and Individual Education Plans (IEPs), mental health and medical history, counseling records and much more.

Under the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), medical and counseling records that are included in your child’s education records are unprotected by HIPAA (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act passed by Congress in 1996). Thus, very sensitive mental and physical health information can be shared outside of the school without parent consent.

Many parents first became aware of how widely their children’s personal data is being shared with third parties of all sorts when the controversy erupted over inBloom in 2012, the $100 million corporation funded by the Gates Foundation. Because of intense parent opposition, inBloom closed its doors in 2014, but in the process, parents discovered that inBloom was only the tip of the iceberg, and that the federal government and the Gates Foundation have been assisting the goal of amassing and disclosing personal student data in many other ways.

Ten organizations joined together, funded by the Gates Foundation, to create the Data Quality Campaign in 2005, with the following objectives:

  • Fully develop high-quality longitudinal data systems in every state by 2009;
  • Increase understanding and promote the valuable uses of longitudinal and financial data to improve student achievement; and
  • Promote, develop, and use common data standards and efficient data transfer and exchange.

Since that time, the federal government has mandated that every state collect personal student information in the form of longitudinal databases, called Student Longitudinal Data Systems or SLDS, in which the personal information for each child is compiled and tracked from birth or preschool onwards, including medical information, survey data, and data from many state agencies such as the criminal justice system, child services, and health departments.

A state’s SLDS, or sometimes called a P20 database (pre-K to 20 years of age), P12, or B-20 (data tracking from birth), have been paid for partly through federal grants awarded in five rounds of funding from 2005-2012. Forty-seven of 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands, have received at least one SLDS grant.

Although Alabama, Wyoming and New Mexico are not included on the site linked to above, Alabama’s governor recently declared by executive order that “Alabama P-20W Longitudinal Data System is hereby created to match information about students from early learning through postsecondary education and into employment.” Wyoming uses a data dictionary, Fusion, that includes information from birth. New Mexico’s technology plan shows that they moved their P-20 SLDS to production status in 2014 and will expand in 2015. This site run by the Data Quality Campaign tracks each state’s SLDS.

Every SLDS has a data dictionary filled with hundreds of common data elements, so that students can be tracked from birth or pre-school through college and beyond, and their data more easily shared with vendors, other governmental agencies, across states, and with organizations or individuals engaged in education-related “research” or evaluation — all without parental knowledge or consent,.

Every SLDS uses the same code to define the data, aligned with the federal CEDS, or Common Education Data Standards, a collaborative effort run by the US Department of Education, “to develop voluntary, common data standards for a key set of education data elements to streamline the exchange, comparison, and understanding of data within and across P-20W institutions and sectors.”

Every few months, more data elements are “defined” and added to the CEDS, so that more information about a child’s life can be easily collected, stored, shared across agencies, and disclosed to third parties. You can check out theCEDS database yourself, including data points recently added, or enter the various terms like “disability,” “homeless” or “income” in the search bar.

In relation to discipline, for example, CEDS includes information concerning student detentions, letters of apology, demerits, warnings, counseling, suspension and expulsion records, whether the student was involved in an incident that involved weapons, whether he or she was arrested, whether there was a court hearing and what the judicial outcome and punishment was, including incarceration.

This type of information is obviously very sensitive and prejudicial, and often in juvenile court, records are kept sealed or destroyed after a certain period of time, especially if the child is found innocent or there is no additional offense; yet all this information can now be entered into his or her longitudinal record with no particular restriction on access and no time certain when the data would be destroyed.

Expanding and Linking Data across States

Nearly every state recently applied for a new federal grant to expand its existing student longitudinal data system, including collection, linking and sharing abilities. You can see the federal request for proposals. Pay special attention to Section V, the Data Use section of the grant proposal, requiring states to collect and share early childhood data, match students and teachers for the purpose of teacher evaluation, and promote inter-operability across institutions, agencies, and states.

The 15 states and one territory, American Samoa, that won the grants were announced Sept. 17, 2015, and are posted here. President Obama’s 2016 budget request has a number of additional data­ related provisions, including a near tripling in funding for State Longitudinal Data Systems ($70 million) and Department of Labor Workforce Data Quality Initiative ($37 million) aimed at attaching adult workforce personal data with his or her student records.

Though the federal government is barred by law from creating a national student database, the U.S. Department of Education has evaded this restriction by means of several strategies, including funding multi-state databases, which would have been illegal before FERPA’s regulations and guidance were rewritten by the Department in 2012.

The federal grants encourage participation in these multi-state data exchanges. One existing multi-state database is WICHE, the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education, which includes the 15 Western states that recently received an additional $3 million from the federal government. This WICHE document explains that the project was originally funded by the Gates Foundation, and that the foundation’s goal of sharing personal student data across state lines and across state agencies without parental consent was impermissible under FERPA until it was weakened in 2012:

 Upon approval of WICHE’s proposal by the Gates Foundation, the pilot MLDE (Multistate Longitudinal Data Exchange) project began in earnest in June, 2010, and the initial meeting to begin constructing the MLDE was held in Portland, Oregon, in October, 2010. It is worth placing the launch of the MLDE pilot within an historical timeline of events bearing on the development and use of longitudinal data. As the project got underway, the federal government’s guidance on the application of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) was still fairly restrictive. Indeed, based on a subsequent conversation with a member of the Washington State Attorney General’s office, our plans to actually exchange personally identifiable data among the states would be impermissible under the FERPA guidance in effect at that time. Though we were told we would have been able to assemble and use a de-identified dataset, which would have shown much of the value of combining data across states, not being able to give enhanced data back to participating states would have been a serious setback. Changes in the federal government’s guidance on FERPA that went into effect in January, 2012 resolved this problem.

The new guidance permitted the participating states to designate WICHE as an authorized representative for the purposes of assembling the combined data, while also allowing the disclosure of data across state lines and between state agencies.

Since 2010, the Gates Foundation has funded WICHE with more than $13 million. Just to underscore how powerful this organization has become, Colorado Lieutenant Governor Joe Garcia just stepped down from his post to head WICHE. Here is a helpful chart showing how student personal data is to be shared, among state agencies and across state lines.

This North Carolina PowerPoint from 2013 describes what detailed information is to be shared among the states participating in SEED: data aligned with CEDS, including demographic information, academic and test score data, and disciplinary records. Here is a Georgia document, explaining how SEED will be “CEDs compliant” and describes in even more detail the sort of information that will be exchanged.

In addition, the two Common Core testing multi-state consortia funded by the federal government, PARCC and Smarter Balanced, are accumulating a huge amount of personal student data across state lines, and potentially sharing that information with other third parties. Under pressure, PARCC released avery porous privacy policy last year; Smarter Balanced has so far refused to provide any privacy policy, even after requests from parents in many of the participating states.

What Parents Can Do

Ask your State Education Department if they applied for this new grant to expand their SLDS, and if so, ask to see the grant proposal. You can also make a Freedom of Information request to the U.S. Department of Education to see the grant application. Ask what methods your state is using to protect the data that the SLDS already holds, and if the data is kept encrypted, at rest and in transit. Ask what categories of children’s data they are collecting, which agencies are contributing to it, and what third parties, including vendors and other states, may have gained access to it. Ask to see any inter-agency agreements or MOUs allowing the sharing education data with other state agencies. Ask if any governance or advisory body made up of citizen stakeholders exists to oversee its policies.

You should also demand to see the specific data the SLDS holds for your own child, and to challenge it if it’s incorrect – and the state cannot legally deny you this right nor charge you for this information under FERPA.

This was conclusively decided when a father named John Eppolito requested that the Nevada Department of Education provide him with a copy of his children’s SLDS records, and the state demanded $10,000 in exchange. He then filed a complaint with the US Department of Education, which responded with a letter on July 28, 2014, stating that the state must provide him with the data it holds for his child, as well as a record of every third party who has received it; and that they cannot charge a fee for this service.

Parents also have the right to correct their child’s data if it is in error. Apparently Mr. Eppolito found many errors in his children’s data. Even if it is accurate, the data that follows your child through life and across states could diminish his or her future prospects. As this Department of Education study points out,

                “…imagine a student transferring from another district into a middle school that offers three levels of mathematics classes. If school staff associate irrelevant personal features with mathematics difficulties, the representativeness bias could influence the student’s placement… educators have been found to have a tendency to pay more attention to data and evidence that conform to what they expect to find.”

Schools could use this data to reject students, push them out, or relegate them to remedial classes or vocational tracks.

There is also abundant research that shows that a teacher’s expectations play a significant role in how a student performs – especially for marginalized groups. This is called the Pygmalion effect in the case of a teacher’s positive expectations, and the Golem effect in the case of negative expectations. These studies reveal that if teachers are provided with positive or negative information about their students before having a chance to form their own opinions based upon actual experience, this prior information often tends to bias their judgments and perceptions of that student, creating self-fulfilling prophecies.   Parents should be legitimately fearful that positive or negative data may be used to profile their children, and potentially damage their chance of success.

What Else Can You Do?

If you send your children to a public school, under current federal law you have no way of opting out of the P20 profile that has been created by your state and potentially shared with others. You also have no right to refuse to have your child’s data disclosed to testing companies and other corporations in the name of evaluation and research. Researchers have legitimate interests in being able to analyze and evaluate educational programs, but any sensitive personal data should be properly de-identified and there must be strict security provisions to safeguard its access and restrict further disclosures, as well as a time certain when it will be destroyed. You do have the right to see that data, and challenge it if it is inaccurate.

You should also advocate for stronger state and federal laws to protect your child’s data and laws that give parents and students the right of ownership, including the ability to decide with whom it will be shared. You should urge your state Education Department to create advisory or governance boards that include stakeholder members, to provide input on restrictions on access and security requirements.

Any federal and state student privacy legislation should embrace five basic principles of student privacy, transparency and security, developed by the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy. Ask your elected officials to support TRUE data privacy and transparency legislation, to protect children. Parents deserve to know the data collected and shared about their children, and they should be guaranteed that their children’s data is safe from breaches and misuse.

via Washington Post

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