Category Archives: Corruption and cover up Report in PGCPS

Md. test exclusion rate raises questions

0

Maryland superintendent Lillian Lowery is on the spot for several bad things including poor leadership skills.

When Maryland officials recently trumpeted the performance of their students on national reading tests, they failed to mention one thing: The state blocked more than half its English language learners and students with learning disabilities from taking the test, students whose scores would have dragged down the results.

Maryland excluded 62 percent of students in two categories — learning-disabled and English learners — from the fourth-grade reading test and 60 percent of those students from the eighth-grade reading test. >>> Read More Washington Post

###

untitled

PGCPS Board narrowly approves…

…Maxwell’s budget request

459e47c6148f70582568304e0ef23fdf

CEO Kevin Maxwell

The Prince George’s County Board of Education narrowly voted Thursday to support a request by the schools chief to make significant changes to the district’s $1.7 billion budget.

The 5-2-2 vote allows Schools CEO Kevin Maxwell to proceed with his request to transfer $18 million from various accounts in the budget to pay for several executive level positions, enhancements in the art program, security improvements and other initiatives. The County Council now must approve the request for the proposal to take effect. >>> Read more

OPINION.

CEO Kevin Maxwell is being premature in evaluating and faulting the Hybrid School Board of Education for the budget change in the Prince Georges County Public Schools System (PGCPS). The budget which was initiated by the County Executive and the power elite in order to grab power seem to have had a different agenda. The power grab now appears to have been for the sake of grabbing power rather than in order to initiate sincere reforms. When the Reform Sasscer Movement (A grass-roots advocacy group) encouraged for changes, our hope was to see actual reforms and proper management of resources rather than cover ups and squander. However, proper and transparent reforms is not what we are seeing at the moment. Several grass-roots pressure groups concerned with PGCPS corruption have been completely disenfranchised from the process.

In the article above by the Washington Post, Ms. Wiggins conveniently left off the salaries for Maxwell’s new senior staff. The three new appointees hired recently are making nearly $1 million. Maxwell’s friend is making $220,000 a year while teachers have to buy their own paper and classroom supplies! This is unacceptable. …. We do not mind a little increase but spending tax payer money like this is not being wise. Prince George’s county council needs to scrutinize the new raises and send back the entire package to the Hybrid Board to fix the remunerations.

Call your elected officials now and the media. Demand changes…

###

Teacher’s resignation letter:

…‘My profession … no longer exists’

teachers-day

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.

###

>>> 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)

###

teachers

untitled

imagesca1d2dt3

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.

Dukes

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.

###

Montgomery teacher starts petition against MSA.

1207montgomery

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)

###

 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

###

untitled

imagesca1d2dt3

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.

Dukes

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.

###

Prince George’s is a “slum”…

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

_MG_8666_1299865860--296x197

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

###

pg_map_medium

Maxwell addresses the Prince George’s County Council

DSC_0669

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.

###

pgcps_logo

Pr. George’s students punished for wearing pink…

…not uniforms, for Breast Cancer Month

back-to-school-tbdstaff-0907_296

About 75 students at Friendly High School in Prince George’s County who supported Breast Cancer Awareness Month by wearing pink shirts were given in-school suspensions Friday for violating the school’s uniform policy.

Students said they were sent to a classroom and told that they would receive an unexcused absence and zeros for their classes. But Max Pugh, a spokesman for the school system, said the students would be excused for missing class and would be able to make up any missed work.

Raynah Adams, principal of the Fort Washington school, told the students Tuesday that they could not hold their annual “Pink Out” because it would violate the uniform policy and there were security concerns, the students said.

But on Friday, a number of students showed up wearing pink shirts, pink sweaters and, in some cases, pink ribbons painted on their cheeks. Students estimated that 20 percent of the school population participated, but that figure could not be confirmed. >>> Read More Washington Post

OPINION.

Any principal who lock-steps behind regulations and cannot encourage student support for righteous causes –especially for the young women in this particular school–is a principal who needs to be replaced. This was reprehensible on the part of the school.  Many of the Schools in PG county are still run by little Hitlers and connected to powerful friends.  And of course the students are aware of it.  In this case, it does teach a valuable life lesson.  Our experience has been when schools have a uniform policy, they always have dress down days, spirit wear days, St. Patrick’s green wear day and dress up days.  What’s the problem with having a “breast cancer awareness day?”

###

pgcps_logo

untitled

Opinion concerning six-month plan….

…and the leadership involved in the process for Prince George’s schools

pgcps_logoDSC_0669

Following the appointment of Dr. Lillian M. Lowery Maryland State Superintendent  of schools and Maryland State Board of Education President Dr. Charlene Dukes as the Transition Team Chair and co-chair respectfully,  We find the decision to appoint them into these positions to be illegal, a conflict of interest and also very unaesthetic. What is going on? Is this the kind of revolution we advocated for? Time has changed and we are no longer in 1970’s to take this unethical practice lying down. Otherwise, if we do not react,  the school system will continue to suffer no matter who is put at the helm because the shakeup that’s needed the most is at levels well below that of the superintendent. Today’s world demands a culture of transparency and accountability. Our opinion as articulated in yesterday’s blog follows again below… We plan to follow up with more analysis in the future…. stay involved and please demand changes. A luta continua! The transition team is scheduled to finish its work in December and submit a report to the Board of Education. >>> Read more Washington Post

OPINION

Reform Sasscer Movement for Prince George’s county is challenging Prince George’s county citizens to be prepared to make sacrifices for their county and to protect the gains already achieved while they seek for more. We must make sacrifices to build on the gains achieved so far and learn from America’s experiences especially in the field of protection of rights and decentralization of power and resources.

Martin Luther King Jr., George Washington and others who fought for freedom knew that freedom is not given; it must be won through struggle, persistence and faith in the future.

As we have mobilized political leaders, we have been a witness to history. In our own small way, we have contributed to the history of our county. We have been a witness as the tide of history turned in our county as a model for others. As participants in some of the events that changed our county school system. As residents and workers we have pushed forward toward freedom and we can tell you nothing comes easy, and surrender cannot be an option at this time.

0

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.

drdukes

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.

Now this brings us to the raging debate on why an appointment was made of such a large group (32) to review an issue which led to the appointment of Dr. Kevin Maxwell as the CEO of Prince George’s County public schools. Before he interviewed and accepted the job, we had already identified “the top priorities“. So what happened?   In our honest opinion, this appointment of two of the top leadership (Dr. Lillian Lowery and Dr. Charlene Dukes) to run the affairs of the county is dishonest, misplaced and hypocritical. First, Charlene Dukes who served as a previous Board member during a time of high levels of corruption should be viewed with a lot of suspicion.  Why would any leader thrive in the suffering of his or her people who either freely elected him or her or surrendered all authority to him or her to govern? What was the purpose of appointing the expanded Board of Education and their supposedly expertise of some of the new members? If a grievance arose of such a group who will resolve it given Dr. Lillian Lowery and Dr. Charlene Dukes are supposedly neutral of which they are not? Isn’t what they are doing illegal and creates a conflict of interest? Why appoint someone and then follow him to throw your power/ weight around? Where is the outrage?

The current group led by Dr. Charlene Dukes and Dr. Lillian Lowery is comprised of a bunch of people without a clue of what has been going on. While some of them are good men and women, How are they going to make recommendations to solve a problem within the county they do not even understand or believe in themselves? The people of Prince George’s County needs a chance to come up with their own solutions. Top of their list should be eliminate the current group (32) which has their own selfish agenda to derail the progress made so far. The Unions need to be reformed first, we do not expect them to shoot themselves on their feet. Do you? How about Mr. Dwayne Jones (President ASASP) mentioned in our blogs? Does anyone in their right mind expect him to reform the principal’s union? Mr. Jones does not even have time to add a message to his followers on the website. We do not think so…

The Washington post article mentions that, “The transition team is scheduled to finish its work in December and submit a report to the Board of Education.”  The poor unfortunate Prince Georges children and their parents deserve better than this. Take a look at some of those names on the “team”. Same people with the same philosophy. This is the ultimate definition of insanity. This was never about anything but raw political power to some of these people.

Power, they say, does not flow along the lines of an organization’s organograms; power is fluid and often asymmetrical.

Access is power, those who have unlimited access to leaders often tend to have more power and influence on decision-making processes than elected leaders holding seemingly powerful positions.

As political historian Hedrick Smith writes in his book, The Power Game – HowWashington Works’ access to a president means involvement in major decisions and actions of the State. Smith writes the most vital ingredients of power are often intangible. Information is power. Visibility around the president or his deputy is power and so is access to the inner sanctums of government.

The fear of political manipulation and arbitrariness in Prince George’s County Board of Education duties has led several Board members to question the new order of doing Business. They are correct.  The HB1107 did not create space to include such a large number of personal friends to investigate themselves.

A great deal of criticism should be directed at the Maryland state Board of Education by various parties as a result of several errors committed by the state agency in managing the affairs of the county and Maryland as a state.

In our view and consistent to those expressed by many others, beyond seeking justice, we must entertain self-preservation as a key motive of the Maryland state Board of Education. The Maryland state Board of Education must demonstrate results to funding county Boards and various interest groups. This motive raises the probability of miscarriage of justice and selective prosecution as is quite apparent in the several cases lately.

Under the current structure, Maryland state Board of Education is likely to continue losing support. Its scope of powers and especially the office of the Attorney General is too broad and wide open to political manipulation that it would be irrational to expect fair adjudication of justice.

Unless serious reforms are undertaken to ensure Maryland state Board of Education can be trusted to execute justice fairly, it will continue digging its own grave and in the process undermining justice.

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.

###

pgcps_logountitled

Let’s face it. Criticism has…

…become a dirty word.

CRITICISM. Magnifying glass over different association terms.

Pick up any thesaurus and you’ll find “criticism” in the company of “nit-picking, objection, disapproval, and objection.”

The truth is criticism doesn’t have to be a dirty word.

In the last several months now, we have given perspectives on Prince George’s county public schools whenever we can. This is in line with democratic ideals. A democracy is a government of the people, for the people and by the people. Thus, the public opinion is an important aspect. The people in turn could hold the government accountable and change it, if they knew what they were doing is wrong. Our voice through the social media and this blog mobilized lawmakers and yielded HB1107.

In this regard, there is a need to inform the people of issues of concern around them so that there are proper checks and balances on the government of the day especially within the county and the Maryland state Board of Education. Media plays a vital role in this area and that is why we must keep advocating for the people through constructive criticism. So far there are several things of concern and we will be outlining our views shortly after our sincerity agenda to transform the county was hijacked by dark forces. The dark forces trying to take over our reform agenda here in PG county are on a revenge mission (Keep checking our concerns here in our blog). It is important to look at our work and appreciate our perspectives. We are not going to rest until proper changes are in place through criticism. This is what makes democracy work!

imagesCA1D2DT3

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.

In a broader context, criticism is an assessment, review or observation that can even be in the form of appreciation. Nobody seems to ever talk about that one: When the criticism is good, we don’t call it criticism, we call it approval. We call it praise. We call it being appreciated.

And who doesn’t enjoy sincere appreciation for their work?

Anyways, for constructive criticism to occur three things have to happen: There should be interest on the part of the criticizer and the criticized, there should be bonding and trust that the discussion is for the right reasons, and the criticism should be presented as a discussion.

When the criticism meets these three criteria, there is a strong foundation for learning to occur, and for both members to benefit from honest criticism.

Here are the three advantages to constructive criticism:

Gives New Perspective & Valuable Insight

When someone invites our criticism, we have the opportunity to help that person by giving our perspective or insight into the situation.

For example, say someone asks us to check out an article they’ve written to get our opinion. Chances are the person really wants to know what we think so that they can make it the best it can be.

Our objective reading of the article can give the person valuable insight into how they can improve the article. If they weigh the importance or usefulness of the criticism, they can rewrite or revise the article to make it better

Thus, the writer and article become more valuable due to the constructive criticism.

Here’s the real kicker: different people have different perspectives and knowledge about the way the world works. Each person brings a unique perspective to the table. If we listen and try to understand their perspective, we can apply that perspective to our work to make it better.

Think about it. Say someone wants to improve the design on their website. Who could provide beneficial criticism? Web designers? Regular readers? Casual readers?

Everyone provides a unique perspective.

Furthers Bonding and Trust

If we’re able to give our honest opinion on something, and the other person finds it valuable, we can increase our bonding and trust with that person.

Giving constructive criticism shows the other person that we value his or her work. The result is an increased level of respect between us and the other person.

If we’re lucky enough to have really cool friends that reciprocate coolness, they will provide their valuable perspective to us.

Let’s say that we help our friend out by reviewing his article and improving the spelling and grammar so people can read it easier.

He says, “Wow, that sure is swell. I can’t believe I have such knowledgeable and cool friends willing to help me.”

So when we want to make sure one of our articles is near perfect, we can send it on to our friend and ask him for his honest opinion.

More than likely, he’ll return the favor to help us out.

As Jim Rohn said, “Giving is better than receiving because giving starts the receiving process.”

If we give our valuable perspective, others might be inclined to return the favor.

drdukes

Maryland State Board of Education President Dr. Charlene Dukes shown here has demonstrated corrupt leadership and continues “a culture of pay to play” and manipulation.

No Hurt Pride or Resentment

So, when we offer even the slightest disapproval of others or their work without them inviting us to, we are basically asking for them to hate us.

Hans Selye said, “As much as we thirst for approval, we dread condemnation.”

Constructive criticism is different in that we only give it when we’re invited to give it. We give constructive criticism to people that we know and trust, and the people we are criticizing know our true intentions. We present constructive criticism as a discussion, and that our viewpoint is only one perspective and isn’t necessarily fact.

As well, constructive criticism is more about giving an overall view of things: what’s going well, what could be improved upon, etc.

In return, the people we criticize are thankful that we’ve provided valuable feedback to improve themselves or their work.

Your turn: In what situations do you think constructive criticism could be particularly helpful? How do we avoid people getting angry with us for offering feedback? When is it not appropriate to give criticism?

###

logo200Praise_Posterpgcps_logomseaLogo

Weak student achievement in PGCPS…

…new academic standards concern Pr. George’s school board.

DSC_0669

By , Updated: Friday, October 11, 6:47 PM

Only half of students who graduated from Prince George’s County’s public high schools last year enrolled in college, and 90 percent of the graduates in community college are taking remedial classes in math and reading, according to data shared with the county’s Board of Education on Thursday during a presentation on student achievement, secondary-school changes and the new academic standards.

In the 2012-13 school year, more than a fifth of the county’s freshmen had to repeat ninth grade, the data showed, and 40 percent of second-graders did not read at or above grade level.“College and career readiness is built on a foundation that goes all the way back to pre-kindergarten,” said A. Duane Arbogast, the chief academic officer, told the board.After Arbogast’s presentation, board members spent more than an hour asking about professional development for teachers, parental engagement and the implementation of Common Core, a new national curriculum being implemented in most states.>>> Read More Washington Post  >>> Read more about Common core in Maryland

###

PGCPS_LOGO