Category Archives: Accountability

Maryland school ranking scandal.

…Md. excluded large number of special-education students in national test

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Maryland’s scores on a national reading test may have been inflated because  the state’s schools excluded a higher percentage of special-education students  than any other state, according to data from the U.S. Department of  Education.

The National Center for Education Statistics, which administers the test,  estimates that Maryland’s scores were 7 points higher for fourth-grade reading  and 5 points higher for eighth-grade reading because of the exclusion.

Maryland has always earned high scores on the National Assessment of  Educational Progress, and its steady increases in test scores over the years has  helped earn it the ranking of No. 1 in the nation by Education Week, an  often-quoted measure.

Read more: http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/education/blog/bs-md-naep-exclusion-rates-20131115,0,4258634.story#ixzz2l2l06wh6

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Dr. Lillian Lowery pictured here is presiding over deep-seated corruption and doing very little to investigate the many corruption allegations brought against her appointees and elsewhere in Maryland schools. She is currently without any oversight.

Teacher’s resignation letter:

…‘My profession … no longer exists’

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Increasingly teachers are speaking out against school reforms that they believe are demeaning their profession, and some are simply quitting because they have had enough. Here is one resignation letter from a veteran teacher, Gerald J. Conti, a social studies teacher at Westhill High School in Syracuse, N.Y as highlighted by Washingtonpost.: >>> Read more Resignation letter

OPINION

Freedom of speech, press, assembly, and petition have long been celebrated as crucial to democratic government. United States Supreme Court decisions have, quite rightly, justified strong protection of these freedoms because of their crucial role in the functioning of American democracy.

The Supreme Court has often noted the crucial function of free speech and press for democratic government. In Stromberg v. California (1931), Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes’ opinion for the Court said “a fundamental principle of our constitutional system” is “the maintenance of the opportunity for free discussion to the end that government may be responsive to the will of the people. ” 1 In Roth v. United States (1957), the Court said that “[t]he protection given speech and press was fashioned to assure unfettered interchange of ideas for the bringing about of political and social changes desired by the people.” 2 Seven years later, the Supreme Court decided New York Times v. Sullivan, a case involving an Alabama public official who sued the Times for libel based on an advertisement. The ad had criticized the way state government officials responded to civil rights demonstrations. The Court said, “the First Amendment . . . ‘presupposes that right conclusions are more likely to be gathered out of a multitude of tongues, than through any kind of authoritative selection. . . .’ ” 3 The modern Supreme Court has often quoted a famous concurring opinion by Justice Louis Brandeis in Whitney v. California (1927): the preferred remedy for “falsehood and fallacies” is “more speech, not enforced silence.” 4 In the United States, freedom of the press, in particular, has been celebrated for its role in checking government misconduct and informing the electorate.

As demonstrated here in Maryland and in Prince George’s county, Unable to counter sense, dissent and the struggle for more democratic space with arguments, the powerful make the messengers the culprits, abuse and demean them, and finally just censor or close them down instead of embracing good ideas enacted by teachers and other staff members within the school district.

Let us remember that in the absence of writing and exchanging good ideas, many staffers in this country are likely to leave in the absence of exposure. Many years ago, our media was the songs, stories and dance used to celebrate the achievements of the community. But the same songs and stories were also used to devastating effect as accountability tools, to criticize leaders when they went wrong, point out vices (especially of selfishness and greed) among prominent people, and satirise those who focused only on themselves rather than the community.

Freedoms are and have always been universal. So has the demand for them. And it is the oppressed and underdogs who always value them more than those in power.

Maryland State Board of Education leaders led by Dr. Lillian Lowery and Dr. Charlene Dukes who are involved in conflict of interest better be more careful with their actions including speeches lest they be remembered in the same breath as colonialists, slave-owners and supporters of apartheid.

Of course supporters of colonialism, slavery and apartheid also use these same freedoms to perpetuate their oppression. That is as it should be in democratic societies. But because they can’t win the argument, logically and rationally, they then resort to abuse, venom, and stigmatization. When that does not work, they eventually go down the road of strong-arm tactics like censorship, bans, illegal decisions, imprisonment and killings.

To them, the constitution is just a piece of paper which they embrace when it suits them and discard when it does not. People can no longer express themselves freely anymore and give proper solutions to society. This is not the Maryland we want our future generations to inherit.

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>>> Attend Common Core protest at MSDE…on November 18, 2013. Call your elected officials now and the media. Demand changes due to Maryland State Board of Education leaders involved in corruption and abuse of power. (video)

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Dr. Lillian M. Lowery Maryland State Superintendent  of schools has been criticized for showing very poor leadership skills in various ways including discriminatory conduct and received an F grade for Common Core meetings so far.

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In our opinion, We aver and therefore believe Maryland State Board of Education President Dr. Charlene Dukes shown here has demonstrated a culture of corrupt leadership style and continues “an integrated pattern of pay to play” and manipulation during her tenure.

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Montgomery teacher starts petition against MSA.

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A petition started by a Montgomery County Public Schools teacher calling for the state not to administer the Maryland School Assessment tests this school year has gained hundreds of signatures from around the state.

Tiferet Ani, a social studies teacher in the Quince Orchard cluster, said that with the county — and state — implementing the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness of College and Careers test and no longer looking to the MSA tests to track student progress, she thinks it is a waste of time and resources to administer the annual test to elementary and middle school students this year.

PARCC, which aligns with the Common Core State Standards, will be fully implemented in the school system next school year.

As of Friday afternoon, about 400 people had signed the Moveon.org petition titled “Cancel the MSA.” >>> Read More Gazzette

>>> Attend Common Core protest at MSDE…on November 18, 2013. Call your elected officials now and the media. Demand changes due to Maryland State Board of Education leaders involved in corruption and abuse of power. (video)

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 Dr. Lillian Lowery, Dr. Charlene Dukes time to get a clue!

And the rest of the parents, teachers, and TAXPAYERS of Maryland – after you’ve signed the petition, contact your lawmakers, the state board of education, and the governor. This is a waste not only of time but of YOUR tax dollars

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Dr. Lillian M. Lowery Maryland State Superintendent  of schools has been criticized for showing very poor leadership skills in various ways including discriminatory conduct and received an F grade for Common Core meetings so far.

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In our opinion, We aver and therefore believe Maryland State Board of Education President Dr. Charlene Dukes shown here has demonstrated a culture of corrupt leadership style and continues “an integrated pattern of pay to play” and manipulation during her tenure.

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Prince George’s is a “slum”…

Residents tell leaders that county needs more amenities, similar to other areas

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By Gazzette Writer:

“I go to Alexandria in Virginia for work every day, and it’s clean. There’s no trash, the homes are old, but the lawns are mowed,” Emily Hickey of Lanham told elected officials Wednesday night. “Then I drive through my neighborhood, and I see trash and Christmas decorations up all summer long … . Other people say Prince George’s is a slum.”

Hickey was one of about 100 residents who attended a forum at Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Greenbelt to voice concerns to County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D), state Sen. Doug Peters (D-Dist. 23) of Bowie and other officials. The event was Baker’s second “listening session” of the year, sessions where residents share concerns and ideas with officials seeking input to help form legislation before the Maryland General Assembly gears up in Annapolis in January. Officials do not address citizen concerns at the sessions but listen and take notes. >>> Read More Gazette

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Violation of the constitution and the laws of the land.

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Dr. Lillian M. Lowery Maryland State Superintendent  of schools has been criticized for showing very poor leadership skills in various ways including discriminatory conduct and received an F grade for Common Core meetings so far.

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In our opinion, We aver and therefore believe Maryland State Board of Education President Dr. Charlene Dukes shown here has demonstrated a culture of corrupt leadership style and continues “an integrated pattern of pay to play” and manipulation during her tenure.

Two individuals in our opinion have emerged as the faces of this new tyranny in Prince George’s county – Dr. Charlene Dukes and Dr. Lilian Lowery.

We have one message for them – you are living in the past. Your modern day repressive tactics will collapse.

The constitutional rights that Prince George’s county citizens are enjoying are a product of their struggle. These rights are not privileges bestowed by the state but are inherent by virtue of birth. The transition Committee controlled by these two individuals are holding the county at ransom through instilling a culture of fear, manipulation and corruption. Only a despotic regime without legitimacy deploys such tactics.

Their actions may be a pointer that the regime being fronted is in no mood to obey the constitution and the laws of the land. The Executive has no powers to unilaterally take away the rights and liberties of Prince George’s county citizens. It must demonstrate to the satisfaction of all that Prince George’s County is a total disaster under severe threat and ascertains it in accordance with the constitution. Individual liberty is indivisible. A citizen or any other resident for that matter should only be deprived of liberty only after a proper judicial process but not because of a political decision.

Prince George’s county citizens should remember Edmund Burke’s words, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”. It is the high time we took this emerging tyranny heads-on.

Please do not let Maryland go the way Prince George’s County Public Schools, (PGCPS) and the School District of Philadelphia, because they were caught off guard by the deceitful and conniving Board of Education. Parents, students, concerned citizens have to hold their school board representatives responsible. If they do not reform, let us show them the door. There is no future without responsibility and time representation.

This is a warning to Maryland citizens and Prince George’s County in particular – do not be complicit in the establishment of a dictatorship-in-the-making disguised as democracy. A tyrant cannot be a tyrant without a victim. Bystanders are necessary for the tyranny to emerge because thirst for power invariably accompanies one for publicity. Democracy is not about regular elections. Elections are necessary but not sufficient conditions for a true functioning of a robust democracy. What happens between elections and how the government of the day handles fundamental concerns of interest to the public matters greatly.

The new school leadership of Dr. kevin Maxwell – regardless of who is county Executive in the future – must demonstrate its commitment to getting rid of the rampant impunity which continues to undermine the rule of law, justice and security of Prince George’s county citizens. Dr. Maxwell came in promising to work with advocates of change and innovate the county through good ideas. However, the citizens who helped put him in power have been way laid and sidelined through unorthodox means.  Reforms which we advocated for seem to have effectively stalled and taken over by special interest led by one Dr. Charlene Dukes who is a suspect in corruption involving top leadership. To advance the cover up, PGCPS has enlisted the co-chair of Dr. Lilian Lowery Maryland state Supritendent of schools creating a conflict of interest.  Hence, advocates for good governance are being undermined by those who want to restore old order and emasculate changes. Maryland legislature must hold a hearing to verify what is going on. This must be their first task on their agenda in 2014. The time to act is now.

As articulated before,  We have got a runaway state board of education with no oversight, not subject to election, and doing reforms not subject to legislative review.  All without citizen input nor consent.  And wielding a billion dollar budget.

As expressed in the past, Mr. Rushern Baker’s biggest test is creating a smooth transition within the schools to include transparency and avoid appointing leaders from the old regime who caused problems in the first place. However, if he wants to pass this test, he must persuade every single PG County citizen that he has sincere intentions that transcend his own political interest, for the wellbeing of the County to include other groups into the change management with the New CEO.

The elected officials – both at the national, state and county levels – must live up to their oaths of office in which they promised to defend and protect the constitution. They must ensure they engender policies which will ensure that all will access services without discrimination. The new leadership in Prince George’s County public schools led by Dr. Kevin Maxwell and mid-wifed by County Executive Rushern Baker must prevent human rights violations. Prince George’s County citizens in United States want a transformed county!

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Dr. Kevin Maxwell

>>> Attend Opponents Common Core protest at MSDE…on November 18, 2013. Call your elected officials now and the media. Demand changes due to Maryland State Board of Education leaders involved in corruption and abuse of power. (video)

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“The most authentic thing about us is our capacity to create, to overcome, to endure, to transform, to love and to be greater than our suffering.” — Ben Okri

scholars blast Common Core…

… Catholic intellectuals in a letter to U.S. bishops

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About 130 Catholic scholars around the country have signed a hard-hitting letter to U.S. Catholic bishops denouncing the Common Core State Standards as doing “a grave disservice to Catholic education” and urging the bishops  to ignore the standards or, in the more than 100 dioceses that have already adopted them, to give them up.

The letter was sent by Gerard V. Bradley, a law professor at the University of Notre Dame, to every Catholic bishop in the country, with 132 scholars from various disciplines and institutions signing on.

It blasts the standards, saying they are “contrary to tradition and academic studies on reading and human formation,” and accuses Core proponents of seeking to “transform ‘literacy’ into a  ’critical’ skill set, at the expense of sustained and heartfelt encounters with great works of literature.” (That last part is apparently a reference to suggestions by Core opponents that the standards require English teachers to dramatically cut back on teaching literature, which isn’t true.) >>>> Read more Washington Post

OPINION.

Catholic schools often succeed because they don’t jump on educational bandwagons, such as this one. They rarely adopt change without first trying it out, and that’s a very wise thing to do.

This beautifully written letter, speaks to the heart and soul of what so many in the field are sensing about the so-called reform movement, led in great part, not by scholars but by captains of industry–it sees children not as unique individuals who should determine their own destiny, but as the fodder to be sorted into the job market. The great, irony of course, is that no one can predict what the jobs of the future will be for the kindergarten students of today.

Thank you dear scholars, for so beautifully expressing what the soul of this educator knows. Our society needs and wants TRUE educators, Not brain-washed child psychology hacks.

As articulated before, in essence, Folks, there’s no more doubt. Maryland state Board of Education is its own worst enemy and living to the claims of a state agency. It does not have the capacity and the expertise to do what is right for the children of the state of Maryland.  The time to act is now.  We have got a runaway state board of education with no oversight, not subject to election, and doing reforms not subject to legislative review.  All without citizen input nor consent.  And wielding a billion dollar budget. The future of Maryland state Board of Education is either radical reforms or a funeral. We must say “NO” to the latest shenanigans.

When you see us pushing for these things, we hope you will understand where we are coming from. We have seen freedoms taken away and opportunities frustrated and killed and we have learnt that if we sit back, nobody will apologize and say sorry. The powerful just move on while the poor and the weak suffer.

>>> Attend Opponents Common Core protest at MSDE…on November 18, 2013. Call your elected officials now and the media. Demand changes due to Maryland State Board of Education leaders involved in corruption and abuse of power. (video)   Here’s hoping you will continue reading, getting educated and educating others.

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One twin dies, another survives PG car crash;

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Dr. Henry Wise High School

Students at Dr. Henry A. Wise, Jr. High School are mourning a former classmate who died Monday night in a fatal car crash.

Prince George’s County police say speed may have been a factor in the accident that killed 17-year-old Alex Edward Cole and injured three other people, including Alex’s twin brother. >>> Read more Washington post

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Maxwell addresses the Prince George’s County Council

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In his first public appearance before the Prince George’s County Council, Schools Chief Executive Officer Kevin Maxwell said Tuesday that he is evaluating the district’s specialty programs, surveying underutilized schools and analyzing how grades are distributed in schools.

Maxwell said the district, which has experienced a drop in enrollment over the last several years, has a number of schools that are under capacity, and “there is some question of whether they should be closed.” >>> Read More Washington Post

OPINION:

School consolidation either fixes budget shortfalls and creates great schools or destroys a sense of community and adversely impacts local economies. An examination of the pros and cons reveals that each argument has it strengths and weaknesses. The issue of money and what makes a great school cuts both ways in the school consolidation discussion. We hope the agenda in Prince George’s County public school is not to sell any of them but to preserve as many as possible incase parents who have left with their children decide to come back. Closer examination sorts out the thrust of the pros and cons of consolidation.
1.      Education Quality
  • Proponents of school consolidation use the quality of education as a selling point. When two or more small schools consolidate, the resulting school will be able to offer more courses and hire more diverse faculty with teaching expertise in specialized areas. In particular, specialized courses that appeal to only a handful of students will likely generate interest from more students, allowing the school to offer them. This would include advanced classes in mathematics and science, and other areas of study such as drama or non-traditional foreign languages such as Russian or Japanese. Let us hope the Prince George’s County Public schools CEO and the Board members have a plan.

2.      Money

  • The ability to save money is another big selling point for schools considering consolidation. When schools are consolidated, unused school buildings can be sold or used for other purposes, and utility and maintenance costs are reduced, especially if the consolidated school is newer and more energy efficient. Transportation costs are also reduced as fewer school buses will be needed to cover overlapping routes.[I’d have to disagree on this one; most studies show an increase in transportation costs as students are bused past closed schools to the new one. -Ed] Employees needed for non-academic services such as office personnel, cafeteria workers and custodial services can also be reduced. That means, there is going to be job loses if the issue is taken heads on. We hope the Board of Education members will be transparent on this one.

3.      Loss of Identity

  • Local communities identify themselves with their school. Consolidation normally involves some smaller towns losing a school. While saving money is a pro, the loss of the school becomes a con. Parents want their children to attend the same small school they did. For community residents, the closing of the school they attended in the name of consolidation registers as a negative. They fear their children will be lost in the large consolidated school, and they feel they won’t be able to identify with the new school.

4.      Economic Impact

  • Some of the money saved as a result of consolidation is a result of cutting jobs. Small-town schools are often one of the largest employers in the town, and when a school closes it can have a negative effect on the community. School workers who are laid off will face much stiffer competition for those same positions in the consolidated school and face a good chance of not getting hired. David Thompson, a Kansas State University professor in education leadership, points out that the money spent on schools is partially returned to the local community as school employees spend their salaries at local businesses; by shuttering smaller schools, consolidation takes that money out of the small-town community.

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Prince George’s school board OKs textbooks…

…that students are already using. Misplaced paperwork caused education items to be distributed prior to approval, officials say

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by Jamie Anfenson-Comeau    Gazette Staff writer

By an 11-to-1 vote, the Prince George’s County school board gave final approval Oct. 24 to begin using two new textbooks — however, the books had already been purchased and distributed to students at the beginning of the school year.

The two textbooks, Algebra II and Geometry, had been approved by the school system’s textbook committees last spring, but were not brought to the board at that time.

The procedures for the school system were not followed adequately in the case of the … Algebra II and geometry textbook adoption,” said school system CEO Kevin Maxwell. “They were approved [by the textbook committee] back in the spring, but there was a delay in bringing them to the board.”

Maxwell said the purchasing department ordered the books and delivered them to the schools in advance of final board approval.

The school system’s Administrative Procedure 6180.1 states that textbook selections are to be presented to the school board for approval by the end of March and prior to purchasing.

The procedural lapse occurred prior to the Aug. 1 start of Maxwell’s tenure.

The cost of the textbooks, $1.3 million, had already been budgeted into the current year budget.

Chief Academics Officer A. Duane Arbogast said the new textbooks are needed as they are aligned more closely with the Common Core education standards being adopted by Maryland.

“We felt that our old books were so far off the mark from where we needed to be with Common Core, we just needed to replace them,” Arbogast said.

Arbogast said that normally the school system replaces textbooks every eight to 10 years, and the previous Algebra II and geometry books should have been replaced a few years ago, but hadn’t been due to school system budget cuts. >>> Read More Gazette.

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Maryland schools struggle…

…in new ranking under poor leadership.

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By The Associated Press
October 24, 2013 – 05:30 am
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) – While Maryland’s school system has had the top spot in a  publication’s annual ranking of the nation’s schools for five years in a row,  the state is far from the top of a new report comparing eighth-graders in the  United States with other states and 38 other countries.
Massachusetts was the only state to score in a top rating in math in the study  being released Thursday by the U.S. Education Department’s National Center for  Education Statistics. Only eight -states – Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota,  Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Vermont and Wisconsin – scored in a top  rating for science.

Read more: http://www.wjla.com/articles/2013/10/maryland-schools-struggle-in-new-ranking-95847.html#ixzz2ig8QDtsO

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Dr. Lillian M. Lowery Maryland State Superintendent  of schools has been criticized for showing very poor leadership skills in various ways and received an F grade for Common Core meetings so far.