Author Archives: pgcpsmess

EDWARDS: Days of Selling Out Prince George’s Residents Must End

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Former Maryland Rep. Donna Edwards (right) chats with members of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689 and other union representatives outside Metro headquarters in northwest D.C. on Oct. 26. Edwards, who’s running for Prince George’s County executive, came out to support the Metro workers’ push for additional safety measures within the transit system. (William J. Ford/The Washington Informer)

By Donna Edwards

In my 35 years as a resident and taxpayer in Prince George’s County, I’ve watched developers and big-name companies work the process, securing favorable zoning decisions, taxpayer financing, and give little in return for our investment. To be sure, this is not true of every project and every developer, but we’ve had too many instances of under-the-table payments, favorable deals, and indicted and convicted elected officials, some as recent as 2017. This is not who we are, and in 2018 it must change in order for us to make the kind of progress we deserve.

For too long, we’ve seen some of our leaders selling out Prince George’s County to the highest bidder. In my campaign for County Executive, I have decided that I will not accept campaign contributions from developers because we need to turn the page, rid ourselves of a reputation for “pay to play.” My pledge should not be mistaken for shunning development, but I will lead by severing the umbilical cord of developer money that has often gotten in the way of good decision-making. The next era of progress in Prince George’s County must be built on transparency and accountability. We shouldn’t be afraid to hold the public and private sector accountable — whether it’s passing legislation to raise the minimum wage or negotiating project labor agreements and community benefit agreements for large-scale development projects.

Systemic corruption happens when contracts are low-bid and workers are not paid wages that allow them to take care of themselves and their families. It happens when sole-source contracts go to the same handful of friends and political donors, cutting out minority-, women-, veteran-owned and local businesses and leaving taxpayers to foot the bill for lack of competition. Systemic corruption happens when patronage jobs are awarded with no accountability to the institutions of government or to taxpayers. This weakens our reputation and standing in the region and leaves hardworking people across our county struggling to keep up and without the quality services we’ve earned.

2018 is a turning point.

We will grow our county by incentivizing positive economic development and opening up opportunities for those who have been shut out because they’ve chosen not to pay or because they haven’t paid enough. We will target development around our transportation hubs, reinvest in older, gateway communities, protect our cultural and environmental resources, expand participation of small and minority owned businesses, and pay workers a living wage so they can provide for their families. I stand ready to work with my colleagues to ensure that our contracts process is just as competitive as it is transparent. And we’ll work to level the playing field so our homegrown businesses and our local workforce actually benefit from investments in our schools and communities. We need developers to know that we will work with you, but we will always put the interests of our County first.

At every level of government, transparency is the best way to combat corruption effectively and to impose accountability. Whether the question is how much casino revenue is coming to the County and how and where it’s spent; or the details of the school budget and performance, including executive compensation, teacher salaries, and graduation rates; or whether our contracts (tax dollars) are bid competitively so all our businesses play on a level playing field — we deserve answers. In the words of the often-quoted Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis, “sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman.” Justice Brandeis also reminded us that “the most important political office is that of private citizen.” In Prince George’s County, we need more sunlight to empower private citizens so that those elected will engage in public service, not private gain.

Of course, it’s not all bad news. We’ve made great strides over the years. The financial rewards from MGM National Harbor are significant and the fact that they have an organized workforce means that their workers are being paid livable wages with good benefits. We’ve attracted businesses in almost every corner of this county, and we’re on track to establish our county as a healthcare hub in the Washington region. The next decade will dictate much for Prince George’s, and it’s critical that we have leadership that is unbossed and unbought to ensure our county truly gets a fair deal.

I’ve stood unafraid to take on big developers or special interests plenty of times in the past. I believe the time has come for an era of unprecedented transparency and accountability for our county.

In Prince George’s County, transparency and accountability are our most powerful tools for change. It’s well past time we use them. I’m running a people-powered campaign, and I intend to run county government the same way.

Via Washington Informer

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Study Finds that Vast Majority of Students World Over Cannot Meet Common Core Benchmark of ‘Proficient’

area model multiplication.008A new study conducted jointly by the National Superintendents Roundtable and the Horace Mann League concludes that the benchmarks used for Common Core assessments are wildly unrealistic.

The press release states:

“Study finds most students in most nations cannot clear the bar set by Common Core or NAEP benchmarks Washington, DC, January 17 – A detailed report released today concludes that the vast majority of students in most countries cannot demonstrate proficiency as defined by one of America’s most common educational tests. The authors of the analysis suggest the U.S. has established benchmarks that are neither useful nor credible. In their report How High the Bar?, the National Superintendents Roundtable and Horace Mann League linked the performance of foreign students on international tests of reading, mathematics, and science to the proficiency benchmarks of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), the United States’ longest continuing assessment of students. They also examined major assessments related to the Common Core. The report notes that very few students in most nations would clear the NAEP proficiency bar the U.S. has set for itself in reading, math, and science:

  • In no nation do a majority of students meet the NAEP Proficient benchmark in Grade 4 reading.
  • Just three nations have 50 percent or more of their students meeting the Proficient benchmark in Grade 8 math (Singapore, Republic of Korea, and Japan).
  • Only one nation has 50 percent or more of its students meeting the Proficient benchmark in Grade 8 science (Singapore).

“Many criticize public schools because only about one third of our students are deemed to be ‘proficient’ on NAEP assessments,” says Dr. James Harvey, executive director of the National Superintendents Roundtable. “But even in Singapore—always highly successful on international assessments—just 39 percent of fourth-graders clear NAEP’s proficiency benchmark.”

“Citing the U.S. Department of Education’s own records, the report criticizes the National Assessment Governing Board, which sets policy for NAEP, for misusing the term “Proficient.” The term does not mean what many assume it to mean: performing at grade level. Nor does it mean proficient as most people understand the term, according to Department officials.

“Misuse of the term has confused the public and defeated the valuable purpose of assessment, which is to gain useful insights into school performance,” says Jack McKay, director of the Horace Mann League.

“Far from failing, the U.S. ranked fifth among the world’s 40 largest and wealthiest nations in Grade 4 reading at the NAEP Proficient benchmark. Singapore, the Russian Federation, Finland, and England ranked ahead. The research behind How High the Bar? compared NAEP to two international assessments known as the Progress on International Literacy Survey (PIRLS) and Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS). Benchmarks also used for Common Core and college-and-career readiness

“The report indicates that in 2015, 43 states used tests to evaluate learning related to the Common Core. They include tests associated with the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) and the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career (PARCC), as well as tests developed by individual states.

“Many have adopted benchmarks similar to NAEP’s, labeling them as “career and college readiness” standards. When Common Core assessments are aligned with NAEP’s benchmark of Proficient, state test results are also likely to contribute to a narrative of public school failure, conclude the report authors.

“Controversy in setting standards The report also criticizes the speed by which the National Assessment Governing Board adopted the benchmarks. The National Superintendents Round-table and Horace Mann League call on NAEP to redefine its basic terminology, and to include a disclaimer in all of its publications reaffirming Congressional insistence that the benchmarks should be used cautiously and on a trial basis.

“The report also encourages school leaders to educate communities about the flaws with the term Proficient and how school systems abroad would perform if held to the same standard. “This report doesn’t endorse an anti-testing agenda or seek to lower standards. We believe in assessment,” says Harvey. “But in the words of a Turkish proverb, no matter how far you have gone down the wrong road, turn back.”

“The statistical analysis of How High the Bar? was performed by Emre Gönülates of Michigan State University. About the sponsors The National Superintendents Roundtable (superintendentsforum.org) is a community of school superintendents who learn, discuss and meet regularly with worldwide experts, sharing best practices and leading for the future. The Horace Mann League (hmleague.org) is an association of educators committed to the principles of public education. Its members believe the U.S. public school system is an indispensable agency for strengthening democracy and a vital, dynamic influence in American life. National Superintendents Roundtable Contact: Horace Mann League Contact: Rhenda Meiser Jack McKay (206) 465-9532, rhenda@rhendameiser.com (360) 821-9877, jmckay@hmleague.org”

Download the press release here.
Download the executive summary here.
Download the full report here.

 

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Rushern Baker, Prince George’s County school leaders face tough questioning from Maryland lawmakers

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. – A confrontation played out in Annapolis between Prince George’s County leaders over the school system and how it is being run.

On Tuesday, Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker, Prince George’s County Public Schools CEO Dr. Kevin Maxwell and School Board chair Dr. Segun Eubanks faced tough questions from Prince George’s County state lawmakers who are considering changing the structure of the school system after a host of problems.

Several years ago, lawmakers voted to allow Baker extraordinary control over the school system after a high turnover of superintendents. It allowed Baker to select the superintendent as well as part of the school board. In most districts, an all-elected board chooses the superintendent.

Maryland State Del. Jay Walker (D-Prince George’s), the co-chair of the Prince George’s County House Delegation, asked about accountability.

“Who do we hold accountable for fraudulent graduation rates? Walker asked. “Who do we hold accountable for nepotism in the school system? Who do we hold accountable for graduates crying on their graduation day? Who do we held accountable for sexual predators taking advantage of our kids in our school system?”

In response, Baker said he is responsible. He didn’t point to his choice for head of schools and said he still stands behind Dr. Maxwell.

FOX 5 asked Baker what he says to those who believe the experiment to give him greater control over the school system has failed.

PGCPS CEO Maxwell to meet with lawmakers next week
“I would tell them to look at the progress we’ve made in Prince George’s County,” Baker said. “I think the number of people putting their children back in our school system, you look at the scholarships the children are getting, look at the programs that we’re coming up with.”

Walker said he has seen no evidence this system of governance benefits students.

“I asked [Baker] time and time again to show me something that has been better and there has been no indicators here,” Walker said. “It hasn’t been test scores, it hasn’t been attendance, it hasn’t been college readiness. So we need to find accountability.”

When asked if he had faith in Dr. Maxwell as head of Prince George’s County Public Schools, Walker responded, “Absolutely not.”

The process to potentially take away the county executive’s control of the school system is just beginning, with efforts underway to make it a reality this legislation session.

Baker is running for Maryland governor, so he is definitely leaving his county post later this year, but he said he will still fight for this governance structure of the school system because he believes it is best for the county.

via Fox5DC

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“Rushern Baker and Segun very dishonest family” Reports say.

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Rushern Baker and Eubank Segun very dishonest family. (Photo and caption courtesy Mr. Edward Burroughs III

Listening to County Executive Baker, CEO Kevin Maxwell, and School Board Chair Segun Eubanks testifying on concern report on academic progress and improvement that was required by HB1107. The Hybrid law led the school system takeover by the county executive Baker III and his brother in law in order to benefit personally to the detriment of the wider population. Mr Baker contended there should be no changes during the hearing according the participants in the meeting.

He also presented that improving academic achievement was not a reason for the takeover of the schools. The report was to also come from the Board of Education. The School Board has not approved the report shown below. According to Board member Edward Borroughs III. There was no data presented that showed the current structure has improved student achievement despite widespread fraudulent reports to falsify outcomes.

The General Assembly must deliberate and determine whether the provisions of the legislation should be continued, modified, or terminated. If the General Assembly does not take action the Act remains in full effect. The issue is accountability and Mr. Baker made it clear he is the one to be held accountable. So it shall be done.

 

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PGCPS involved in yet another Discrimination and Harassment suit

Still1106_00017_1510029122247_4478994_ver1.0_640_360Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) is involved in yet another discrimination and harassment lawsuit in Federal Court.  The pattern of hiring friends and family members in this county has greatly contributed to a system plagued by hostile and grossly unethical environment which is an ongoing issue.

The case at hand involves violations of Title VII of The Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”), 42 U.S.C. §2000-e et seq. and the Maryland Fair Employment Practices Act (“MFEPA”), Md. Code., State Gov’t § 20-601 et seq. for unlawfully discriminating against Ms. Churchill because of her gender and sexual orientation and for retaliation.

On December 1, 2017, the Federal Judge issued an opinion and dismissed some claims and allowed others to move forward. (See below)

JIRA CHURCHILL v. PRINCE GEORGE’S COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS

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BOARD QUESTIONS GRADUATION INVESTIGATION RESPONSE

school-board-pic4UPPER MARLBORO –  The Dec. 19 Prince George’s County Board of Education special meeting was scheduled specifically to discuss the school system’s response to the graduation audit, but it quickly turned into an interrogation.

Just hours before the meeting, reports came out about a 2016 internal Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) audit report that showed the school system was struggling with consistencies in student record keeping more than a year ago that have not been fixed.

Board members Edward Burroughs, III and David Murray, along with several Prince George’s County residents, came to the meeting prepared to ask questions and throw accusations.

“Did you hear? They knew the whole time,” Burroughs said continuously to residents as they filed in before the meeting started.

The audit findings sent to the school system on May 4, 2016, detail many issues with PGCPS’s handling of student records. The letter was sent to Gwendolyn Mason, and Adrian Tally, both with student services and cc’d to eight higher-ups in the school system including Board Chair Segun Eubanks, Chief Executive Officer Kevin Maxwell, and two deputy superintendents.

The internal audit specifically noted issues with system-wide student record keeping, detailing 72 instances of noncompliance with the Office of Student Records, Transfer and Archival Services (OSRTAS) record management.

There were 213 instances of noncompliance with “PGCPS registration documentation requirements” and found no system-wide operating procedure to “ensure full compliance with the state of Maryland mandate regarding student records.”

Meaning there was no “documented process to prevent or respond to instances of errors resulting from the improper or untimely completion of the Graduation Standard Credit Summary.”

Burroughs, Murray and several members of the public pointed to this audit during the Dec. 19 board of education meeting as proof that the school system administration knew about graduation fraud and lied about not knowing.

However, Maxwell said he was not directly responsible for combing through that audit, as it was sent to him and while he is informed about audits his only action comes if he is told corrective measures have not been taking to address issues brought up in audits.

“The responsibility to make those corrections, as several of us have stated, rested in the department of teaching and learning with the folks in student records and internal audit,” Maxwell said.

“There are a lot of reports that people get in the divisions of this organization and there’s an accountability responsibility for people to respond to the audit to be notified if things don’t happen, and when I’m notified that things don’t happen…then we take care of those things. If that doesn’t happen, I am not the one, its internal audit and others who are responsible for tracking the response to those audits.”

Maxwell said it is not possible for him to directly respond to every internal audit, noting there are “thousands and thousands of audits that get done in this district every year.”

Monica Goldson, a PGCPS deputy superintendent, said she was not made aware of the audit until October 2017 and worked with student services to craft a response and action plan. That action plan is now being monitored monthly.

Although a significant portion of the meeting was used to ask about the previous audit, the purpose of the meeting was to discuss the school’s system response to the most current state findings regarding possible graduation fraud.

That audit also found that the school system was not adhering to its own policies regarding student record keeping and that there were students who had graduated from PGCPS without meeting the requirements to do so.

About 4 percent of the 1,212 student sample size was found to have not met requirements, though the auditors could not determine if nearly 25 percent had rightly graduated or not due to poor documentation.

“The findings were sobering,” Maxwell said. “They focused our attention on the need to strengthen our governance structures, policies, procedures and school-level record keeping.”

To address those issues, the school system plans to update its policies and procedures to ensure clarity over what is required and then retrain and provide continual training on those policies to improve and ensure adherence.

Maxwell and Chief Operating Officer Wesley Watts said PGCPS also plans to update its technology to automate “archaic processes” and ensure the greater ability of control and oversight of grade changes.

“Currently staff and IT are working on upgrading the SchoolMAX student information system to improve graduation certification, and we’re also creating a grade change for electronically,” Watts said.

Goldson said before the current school year, PGCPS began limiting the number of employees with access to student records, bringing the number of grade and transcript managers at each school down to two.

As 2018 continues, the school system plans to select a third party to monitor the steps taken toward correcting the issues laid out by the audit.

PGCPS also plans to continue updating policies and procedures, determine criteria for excessive absence, work on revamping the multiple pathways to success program, and launch the pilot of the electronic grade change forms.

Maxwell said the action plan would be submitted to the state in December as work continues, but Murray is wary change will come and said he sees a trend in the school system.

“Do we not see a trend here? This is very similar to what happened to Head Start,” Murray said, pointing to the fact that PGCPS was unable to correct issues Head Start found in the school system in time to preserve the federal funding. “Is this not a concerning trend that outside organizations have to get involved for us to do our job?”

Via thesentinel.com

This scandal will become a focal point of the race for Governor as Baker uses his record on education as a keystone of his campaign. Sadly, Baker’s record is one that focused on doctoring the results of grades in order to make Baker look good politically rather than actually improve education and the ability of Prince George’s County students to succeed.

Please feel free to check out the remarks of these concerned parents in their own words:

 

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Bowie council member Glass gets probation on DUI charge

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Bowie City Council member Courtney Glass has pleaded guilty last week to driving while impaired and was given probation before judgment by a Prince George’s County judge. (Courtesy Photo)

A Bowie City Council member Courtney Glass pleaded guilty last week to driving while impaired and was given probation before judgment by a Prince George’s County judge.

District Court Judge Vincent J. Femia set aside the plea and sentenced Glass to six months of unsupervised probation and assessed $645 — a $500 fine and $145 in court costs, said John Erzen, a spokesman for the Prince George’s County State’s Attorney’s Office.

Glass could not be reached for comment. She was represented by attorney Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., president of the state Senate, online court records show.

The traffic incident involving Glass took place in May of last year. Bowie police responded to a call about a possible hit-and-run accident near Annapolis Road and Grenville Lane at about 11:15 on the night of May 18, police said.

The motorcyclist, identified at Christian Streeter of Bowie, was not seriously injured, police said.

In addition to the fines and court costs, Glass was ordered to pay $1,020 in restitution to compensate Streeter for the insurance deductibles he paid for treatment and rehabilitation of the minor injuries he sustained. The nature of his injuries was not made clear.

Streeter could not be reached for comment.

A witness was able to get the license plate number of the vehicle that struck the motorcyclist. Bowie police officers eventually traced the vehicle to Glass, police said

Officers went to Glass’ home in Bowie shortly after midnight, where they encountered her after she had parked her car. Officers said they smelled alcohol on her breath, according to police, and administered a field sobriety test.

Glass, a legislative analyst for the Prince George’s County government, declined to take a Breathalyzer test, police said.

She was cited for driving under the influence, driving while impaired, driving the wrong way on a one-way street and failure to return and remain at the scene of an accident, online court records show. All of the charges were merged into a single county of DUI.

Glass, 34, is in her first term on the council, representing District 3. She won the spot in 2015, during the most recent citywide election.

Bowie Mayor G. Frederick Robinson said he did not anticipate any sort of official reprimand for Glass, because she received only probation and a fine for the incident.

“I don’t think we’ll be doing anything,” he said. “It’s a matter between her and the court.”

via capitalGazzette

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Rushern Baker III

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attorney Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., president of the Maryland state Senate.