Category Archives: Embattled Superintendent

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.

Prince George’s Schools CEO…

…names transition team and serious concerns emanate

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Kevin M. Maxwell, the Chief Executive Officer of Prince George’s County Public Schools.

Prince George’s County Schools Chief Executive Officer Kevin Maxwell has selected a transition team to analyze the school system and offer recommendations on how to move the struggling system forward.

The 32-member panel, which includes local and regional educators, is scheduled to hold its first meeting on Monday.

“This transition team will help me to determine the needs for the district and the appropriate next steps as it relates to key areas of school operations,” Maxwell said in a statement.

The committee will review data, conduct interviews, determine the district’s strengths and identify areas the need additional attention. It will also focus on teaching and learning, communication, how to use resources and the organizational structure.

Maxwell became the district’s eighth school superintendent in 14 years in August. He took over the system following a contentious debate over the future of the county schools.

Earlier this year, County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D) asked the General Assembly to approve a bill that would give him control over the school system. Under a compromise bill, Baker received the power to select the schools chief, name three members to an expanded school board, and choose the board chair and vice chair.

The team members are:

Maryland Superintendent of Schools Lillian Lowery; Prince George’s Deputy Superintendent Monique Davis; Prince George’s County Community College President Charlene Dukes; Douglass Anthony, the executive director of the school system’s Human Capital Management; Maritza Gonzalez, the school system’s Latino affairs officer; Max Pugh, the school system’s acting communications officer; Pamela Shetley, the director of Human Capital Management; Frederick Douglass High School principal Rudolph Saunders; Oxon Hill Middle School principal Wendell Coleman; Cesar Chavez Elementary School principal Jose Taboada II; Gladys Noon Spellman Elementary School principal Susan Holiday; Albert Lewis, the 2013 Teacher of the Year; Earnest Moore, the president of the county’s PTA Council; Kenneth Haines, president of the Prince George’s County Educators’ Association; Shirley Adams, president of AFSME (Local 2250); Carnell Reed, president of SEIU (Local 400); Dwayne Jones, president of the principals’ union; Rukayat Muse-Ariyoh, the student school board member; Betty Morgan, the former Washington County school superintendent; Lethia Jackson, who works in the computer science department at Bowie State University; Diane Lee, the vice provost and dean of Undergraduate Education at the University of Maryland in Baltimore County; Linda Ferrell, the former deputy chief of teaching and learning for the District of Columbia Public Schools; Joe Hairston, the president of Visions Unlimited and former Baltimore County school superintendent; Aggie Alva, vice president of product marketing and communications at Discovery Communications; Leslie Fenwick, the dean of the School of Education at Howard University; Shawn Joseph, the superintendent of the Seaford School District in Delaware; Zakiya Lee, assistant to the senior vice chancellor at the University System of Maryland; Pat Martin, assistant vice president of the College Board; Christian Rhodes, Baker’s education policy advisor; Susan Marks, the former superintendent of the Norwalk School District in Connecticut; Donna Wiseman, dean of the University of Maryland College of Education; Bob Wise, the former West Virginia governor of president Alliance for Excellent Education.

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.

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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.

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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.

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realizing your inner purpose.

…Something to think about….Moving Through Transitions with Grace

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As we journey down the road of life, let us always remember that it has many twists and turns in it and also some mountaintop and valley experiences. In the midst of all this, we MUST see God’s hand working throughout our lives.

Can we mess up God’s plan for our lives? Sort of yes, and sort of no. We will do things that are NOT God’s will; like sin, disobedience (which is sin), etc., that will get us off of God’s track for our lives. But the moment we repent and seek Him, He works us back into His plan and will for our lives.

We at Reform Sasscer Movement for Prince George’s County have been going through significant transitions lately, like most everyone we know. Change happens in all of our lives; it’s natural and necessary. But it’s uncomfortable, too. People are uneasy with the unknown and the unknown is a big part of transition — times where there are changes in a job, a relationship, a home, or the death of a loved one.

Transition is how we got to where we are today. The more we embrace these phases instead of rushing through them (or doing our best to run from them), the more we can experience them with grace and move through them with ease.

It does not matter whether we achieve our outer purpose, whether we fail or succeeed in the world. Why? As long as you haven’t realized your inner purpose, outer purpose is just a game that you may continue to play simply because you enjoy it. Its also possible to fail completely in your outer purpose and at the same time totally succeed in your inner purpose.. Or the other way round, which is actually more common; outer riches and inner POVERTY, or to gain the world and lose your soul, as Jesus puts it. Ultimately of course, every outer purpose is doomed to fail, sooner or later, simply because it is subject to the law of IMPERMANENCE of all things. The sooner you realize that your outer purpose cannot give you lasting fulfillment, the better. When you have seen the limitation of your outer purpose, you give up your unrealistic expectation that it should make you happy and make it subservient to your inner purpose.

In closing, over the years since starting Devotional, we want to say we have experienced many trials and lots of valley time; but through it all we know God is still God, He is still in control!!!

So whether things are looking bright or dark, remember God is ultimately in CONTROL!!!  Let God be God and allow Him to move in your life!

Your prayers are ALWAYS welcome and appreciated.

In His Service,

reformsasscer@gmail.com

Have a blessed weekend ahead.

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Former Interim Super now Interin in Alexanderia.

…Dr. Alvin Crawley pictured here almost abandoned ship at sea…

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Dr. Alvin Crawley who took off to the hills after HB 1107 was enacted into the law in Maryland has been selected to serve as Alexandria’s interim superintendent.

Alvin Crawley, who most recently was the interim superintendent in Prince George’s County, Maryland, will begin his appointment Monday. He will serve while the city searches for a permanent replacement. He has had a troubled tenure when several of our students died from violence in 2012, after he failed to perform the proper duties as a Superintendent. He was brought in specifically to cover up corruption by the previous regime which was then led by Dr. William Hite Jr.

According to Doris Reed (ASASP Director of the Prince George’s principals union), she was hoping for a change agent to take the reins of the school system when Hite left, Doris said Crawley’s leadership style during his short tenure did not live up to her expectations.

The Alexandria City school board bought out the contract of previous superintendent Morton Sherman in August amid conflicts between Sherman and the school board.

Sherman was the second consecutive superintendent whose contract was bought out by Alexandria. Rebecca Perry departed as superintendent in 2008 in the wake of an extended controversy over a drunk driving arrest.

Crawley spent most of his career in Arlington. He left Prince George’s County as control of the system shifted from the county board of education to the county executive Rushern Baker. >>> Read more Washington Post

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“We are building the plane as we fly it”

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Many of us have heard this expression hundreds of times. “We are building the plane as we fly it.”

Sometimes at staff development meetings, they show cartoon figures building a plane in mid-air.

Note that the engineers are wearing parachutes.

Note that the passengers–students and teachers–have no parachutes.

Bear in mind that the idea of building a plane as it is in mid-air is insane.

The next time you hear this expression, do one of these things:

Get up and walk out.

Hiss loudly (no one ever knows who is hissing).

Boo loudly (riskier than hissing).

Do not quietly sit by while your leader spouts idiotic platitudes.

This leads us to Baltimore County Superintendent Dallas Dance and what he did which troubled several parents while working closely with the Maryland State superintendent of schools Dr. Lillian Lowery.

As was widely reported elsewhere, Baltimore County Public Schools and Maryland State Department of Education held a Common Core forum recently. When a video was posted concerning Mr. Robert Small being arrested for asking a question out of turn at the local school board forum on Common Core, the video received national attention and garnered a million YouTube hits. Dr. Dallas Dance, the Baltimore County Public Schools superintendent and Dr. Lilian Lowery State Superintendent of schools were presiding over that meeting. (The charges against Robert Small were later dropped after a public outcry.)

In the meantime, Jason Schmidt of Beaverton, Oregon was inspired by the video and decided to stand up and not be “cattle”, to coin a phrase by Robert Small during the encounter. He took the photo shown here and posted it on a website for the cause.

With a rally cry of “Stop Common Core! Save our kids!” the concerned citizens of Beaverton School District held a protest last Thursday before a school board sponsored forum on Common Core. The protest was a success… Mr. Schmidt said in a post,

Here in Maryland, a Baltimore Sun article last week highlighted the perspective of Dr. Dallas Dance concerning complaints from teachers about the new curriculum and it contains the following passage:

Baltimore County Superintendent Dallas Dance acknowledged problems but expressed confidence the glitches would be worked out, and that teachers and students would adjust.

“We are building the plane as we fly it,” he said, adding, “but let’s be clear our passengers are safe.”

Insofar as what they’re doing is destined to fail – except to the extent that they are willfully destroying the public schools, in which case they are far too successful – the analogy holds.

Other than that, it would have been better to say they are building sweatshops/work camps, and using the heads of students and teachers as hammers.  A picture of such a plane as advocated by Dr. Dance and Dr. Lillian Lowery is insane, something one would say to discredit the whole operation not to credit it. Who would want to board such a plane having that kind of knowledge the plane might crush anytime?

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Baltimore County Superintendent Dallas Dance.

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Dr. Lillian M. Lowery Maryland State Superintendent  of schools has shown poor leadership skills in several ways and received an F grade for Common Core meetings recently.

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 (>>See the video <<)

MSDE Forum in PG County 10/1/2013

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On October 1, 2013, Dr. Lillian Lowery Maryland State Superintendent and her company will be touring our beautiful county to answer questions related to common core.  After a firestorm of charges from parents in other parts of the state that questions from the attendees were screened and reworded at the Common Core meeting in Baltimore County on Sept. 19, the MSDE will repeat the same format at the Prince George’s County forum during the meeting at Springdale.

Bill Reinhardt, Public Information Officer for MSDE, said, “We tried it with open mic the first time [in Talbot County] and we got about half the questions answered.”

The Prince George’s County meeting will be the final of four Common Core meetings in the state.

When questioned on how they would address the concerns of parents who said their questions were screened and reworded, he said, “Some of the cards went 4-5 paragraphs, so they were re-worded.”

So, instead of answering half the questions, the MSDE is opting for half-answering the questions.

Please call the office of MSDE Superintendent Lillian Lowery at 410-767-0462 and request that the format of the meeting be open mic instead of written questions.

The Common Core forum in Prince George’s County as indicated is tomorrow October 1 from 7-8:30pm at Charles Herbert Flowers High School in Springdale as indicated above.

Don’t be a cattle! Ask tough questions.

STAY INFORMED: Subscribe into our blog to receive free email notifications each time we post a new article.  Thanks for supporting reform Sasscer Movement for Prince George’s County in Maryland!

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Dr. Lillian M. Lowery Maryland State Superintendent  of schools has shown poor leadership skills and received an F grade for Common Core meetings so far.

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Don’t Be a Cattle!” is a newly formed group that began after the arrest of Robert Small for asking a question out of turn at an MSDE forum on Common Core.  In just one week, the group has amassed a Facebook following of more than 3,500 members and growing.

“Many parents in attendance at the school board meeting on Sept. 19 were growing increasingly frustrated by the screening and rewording of the questions which were required to be submitted in writing.  At no time in the ‘forum’ were parents allowed to ask direct questions, follow-up, or clarifications,” said group founder Ann Miller, whose YouTube video of the incident garnered national attention and has received a million hits.

The MSDE adopted Common Core in June of 2010 in exchange for a quarter billion dollars in federal incentive funding through a Race To The Top grant which was conditioned upon adherence to Common Core.  In all that time, when the MSDE could have been asking for public input and educating parents on the standards, instead there was an information blackout.  The public is only just now, upon its implementation and after the expenditure of untold taxpayer dollars, even learning about the new overhaul to our education system.

Instead of putting out propaganda videos that avoid direct questions, “Don’t Be Cattle!” calls upon Superintendent Lilian Lowery to finally answer direct questions from parents, teachers and the public – openly and honestly without editing.

The list of questions below was compiled by parents who attended the meeting in Towson and feel their questions were never addressed.  They are only a few out of many unanswered questions.

The group is also requesting the protocol of the Question and Answer portion of the meeting be changed to open mic, rather than written questions.

The final MSDE Common Core forum is on Tuesday, Oct. 1 at 7pm at Charles Herbert Flowers High School in Prince George’s County.

A Sampling of Parents’ Unanswered Questions on Common Core

  1. All of the academics on the validation committee for Common Core refused to sign off on it.  What evidence do you have that Common Core will even be effective in improving education?
  2. How is selling out our local education system to national standards in the best interest of our children?
  3. Why are we going backwards in adopting a one-size-fits-all set of standards?  What about special needs and GT children?
  4. Why are we adopting Common Core when testing standards have not rolled out yet?
  5. What are the costs to the state of implementing Common Core?
  6. How will MSDE prevent data collection from being shared with outside entities in light of the NSA and IRS scandals?
  7. With nearly 35% of the States that adopted Common Core making motions toward rejecting the standards, is it wise to gamble with the future of Maryland’s children’s education by moving so swiftly to implement Common Core?
  8. If Maryland schools were ranked number one in the nation, why are we spending millions to abandon what was working?
  9. Can parents view what data is being collected on their children?  How can parents opt out?
  10. What is the policy when parents refuse to allow their children to be subject to Common Core testing as permitted by law?
  11. The push to align the SAT and other tests to Common Core standards will affect even private schools and home schoolers.  How does this contribute to school choice?
  12. What guarantees do parents have that the requirements for further grants will not become increasingly over-reaching each and every year?

It is time to remind the Maryland State Board of Education that the parents pay the school taxes and entitled to ask questions and God forbid the statement or question is longer than two (2) minutes..

Beginning next year, We are going to do the right thing and start putting people in office that will respect the law and stand up to power hungry unions and beaureaucrats, and their dictatorial ways. It’s time!

We must get our act together, for goodness sake!

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PGCEA Union Drops the ball…

… And accepts lower bonuses for best teachers.

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By , Sunday, September 29, 5:26 PM

Despite our fierce national argument over whether to use student test scores to rate teachers, most people who care about schools agree that sophisticated, multifaceted assessments of teachers are good. The National Board Certification process sponsored by the Arlington-based National Board for Professional Teaching Standards is an oft-cited example.

Even teacher union leaders, rightly suspicious of teacher-rating schemes, have praised the National Board assessments, which ignore student scores. The evaluation process takes about a year. Applicants must analyze their classroom situations and student needs, submit videos of their teaching, provide student work samples and explain how they would handle difficult moments. >>> Read More Washington Post

OPINION:

The article highlights important issues affecting some of the best teachers in the county. However, we disagree with the writer Mr. Jay Mathews on some things that,  “it would be better if we selected and trained principals with great care, made them responsible for their schools’ successes, then let them decide whom to reward and how.” For quite some time now, some of the principals have been the source of the problems within the county schools, starting with the ones involved in personal enterprises and covered by ASASP Union.  Principal Angelique Simpson Marcus kept bonuses of staff members whom she did not like, for example. She is currently at the center of several lawsuits in Green Belt Federal Court.  There are worse situations involving other principals that have never been unearthed as yet.  Maybe if we selected and trained central staff with great care, made them responsible for the schools’ successes, then let them manage the rewards working closely with the Principals whom to reward and how, may be it will be great for the county. Dr. Maxwell and office of talent development needs to get more involved and work corroboratively within the schools and Sasscer (System HQ) to encourage innovation and retention of the best teachers plus other staff members.

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