Category Archives: New era of school governance

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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Weak student achievement in PGCPS…

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

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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

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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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“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 <<)

Who’s minding the people…

…who are supposed to be minding the schools?

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chief executive of Options, Donna Montgomery

By Valerie Strauss, Published: October 3 at 5:00 am

Who’s minding the people who are supposed to be minding the schools? Let’s look at two debacles involving schools, one on the West Coast and one on the East, that are symptomatic of problems around the country. My colleague Emma Brown wrote in this story that  three former managers of the Options Public Charter School in Northeast Washington — the city’s oldest charter school — have been accused of enriching themselves with at least $3 million of public money that was supposed to be used to help some of the District’s most troubled teens and students with disabilities. The managers created for-profit companies that won contracts from the school and charged very high prices. A civil lawsuit alleges that they did this with the help of a senior official at the D.C. Public Charter School Board, which is a non-elected entity that has financial oversight over charter schools in the District of Columbia. Charter schools, which operate outside of the traditional public school district, have their own administration and boards. They now enroll more than 40 percent of D.C. students and get more than $500 million in public funds every year to operate. And it turns out, according to the lawsuit, that salary and bonuses for the chief executive, Donna Montgomery, during 2012-13 was at least $425,000, with her base salary at $240,000. Even the base salary is a lot of money for a school with about 400 students. Brown notes that Kaya Henderson is paid a base salary of $275,000 as chancellor of the traditional D.C. school system, which has about 45,000 students. Officials of the charter school board said they were sure that problems were limited to this one school. But look at the timeline of how the board came to know about the problems at Options. From Brown’s story:  >>>Read More Washington Post

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Superintendent John Deasy – Los Angeles Unified School District

Over on the West Coast, in the Los Angeles Unified School District, there’s an ongoing debacle with a $1 billion — yes $1 billion — initiative to get iPads for every student in the country’s second largest school system. There’s been one mistake after another. When the initial planning was done, everybody forgot about the keyboards that kids would need, an oversight which now could cost the district nearly $40 million.

Officials began distributing iPads to some schools and within a week, student hackers figured out to bypass the security system and kids began using the devices to check Facebook, download music and do other personal activities. The Los Angeles Times then reported that more than 70 iPads were “missing” from a pilot program.

And now, Steve Lopez of The Times wrote in this piece that he looked at some of the software programmed into the iPads by Pearson Education and he was less than impressed:

…For all the hype about students taking a magic carpet ride into the future on these tablets, I missed the wow factor. One eighth-grade math lesson included a video of some guy on a treadmill going faster and faster, with a question about how to graph his movement. But no matter how you answered, there was no feedback, and no right or wrong answer.

Lopez asks why school board members let Superintendent John Deasy make such a huge commitment without more oversight. One member, Steve Zimmer, told him that board members “are not equipped … to micromanage.” Wrote Lopez:

I’d have to disagree with him there.

We’re talking about a superintendent who’s in a race to spend $1 billion, counting bringing Wi-Fi to classrooms. And let’s not forget that Deasy was featured as a pitchman in a commercial for iPads, and Deputy Supt. Jaime Aquino (who just resigned in a snit over the tech implementation) once worked for the parent company of Pearson, the firm hired to provide curriculum for the iPads.

So, yeah, do some micromanaging. Hold people accountable. Ask questions.

 It makes you wonder who’s minding the minders.

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iPads initiative  – Los Angeles Unified School District

OPINION

They say you never know the worth of water until the well is dry.  We think that is what the article reveals has brought home the message we have been trying to convey here in Prince George’s County.  Seemingly little – but indispensable – things appear meaningless until they are lost. Gone. Our point is that the corruption cover up reports has dashed the sense of reform and mundane expectations. There is no doubt the men and women of the Prince George’s County Public schools (PGCPS) are heroic.

But there’s no longer the “guarantee” the government will give your loved ones credible – and unambiguous – answers should another catastrophe strike like what happened to previous county Executive Jack Johnson. Which begs the question – what went wrong, and we have the answers… what lessons have been learnt?  Whither from hither? Many of the old ways continue to linger in the some parts of the whole district even after pointing out the problems.

Sadly, it seems like there is a never-ending story along these lines nowadays; one embarrassing story after another.  It all boils down to greed and self entitlement.  Poor/handicapped children are being affected by these kind of schemes and there is a growing number of homeless youth. What will it take to stop this and other stories like this from happening again especially here in PG County?  If the management put the effort into helping the children who attend these schools instead of thinking up the schemes to bilk millions of dollars from the system, life will be so much better.

There is no question after reading the above article that, the charter school movement is being taken over by grifters.  When you see a group of legislators jumping on that bandwagon you can be pretty sure someone has plans to get rich using unorthodox means!  And all of you folks who sincerely believe that the free market has a solution to the problems of the public schools? Time will tell. Unless we get involved and demand answers, some of the people who actually get the contracts, are well connected to the leadership.

As time goes on and unless something is done to change the status quo, this illicit activity will continue unabated for many years to come; in the last few years especially here in Prince George’s County, we have seen officials and administrative personnel living lavish lifestyles beyond what they truly earn or deserve.

It is very sad that, this activity is peppered throughout Washington DC region.  Here in Prince George’s county, it was taken a notch higher by Mr. Jack Johnson (Previous PG county Executive) now serving jail time. However, it began with the Barry administration in Washington DC, getting exposed for lavish vacations of “Friends of Barry” in the Virgin Islands, to the fraud in The Department of Taxation, to this and even more in the future.

The Barry Ideology: “We, as a people, have suffered; and now we’re going to be rightfully paid for our suffrage.” Also known as: The Jesse Jackson Jr. Syndrome.

This illegal activity is not only affecting charter schools, small, semi-private special education schools and the Public schools are also affected.  Good, experienced administrators of these very complex entities are difficult to find, so it’s relatively easy for an unscrupulous and/or inept administrator to take over. The large salaries plus expensive benefits some of these people make while making their staff miserable and the students ill-served is truly despicable.  We must put an end to this. Our Districts deserve better and we must continue to demand more accountability and transparency in many regions, not just in Prince George’s County Public schools.

How do the unscrupulous administrators get away with it? The staff is generally held hostage during times when decent jobs are few, the parents are afraid to say anything even if they pick up on what is happening. A very good example in PGCPS is Monica Goldson and Thatcher Law Firm who are known to strike deals behind the scenes with corrupt BOE members.  For many special education parents and their children, the neighborhood school where corruption is taking place might be their last chance and so many might be scared stiff. Maryland State Board of Education is led by incompetent administrators and Board members whose oversight tends to be lax as most parents are just happy to have some place to send their children.

As indicated in the blog, “corporate education reform” every teacher is subjected to unbelievable micro-management based on being forced to teach using horrific cookie-cutter methodologies. And when they “fail,” they are tossed out and public schools are closed. Yet, nobody looks twice at those who set the horrific education policies. Superintendents basically do a lack-luster job (but as long as they follow corporate “education reform” they are “good”). And when they want to increase their salaries, they just leave their “destruction” behind and are able to tow the corporate line elsewhere for a much greater salary… think about what Dr. John  Deasy and William Hite Jr (both PG County Maryland!)  What did they do to their previous School District before they left? Teachers’ salaries get cut along with the pensions they pay more and more into but the “management” gets richer. Teachers ask the question nowadays… WHEN are they going to  be allowed to Teach!

“In order for schools to change, the central office has to change. We believe the best way the system can change is to trust educators to do their jobs. Hold them accountable, but trust them. The malignant and rotten cogs must be pulled out – root and branch – without pity. The cancer must be excised before it sinks deeper. This is one reason why we wanted a competent administrator to come in with the view of making proper changes.

As we move forward into the future, we suggest that multiple bodies carry out inquiries of what caused PGCPS MESS – so that no cover up is possible. The legislature must commence its own independent bi-partisan inquiry without any fear or favor.

Party affiliation, regional and ethnic biases, and power plays must be suspended to uncover what happened so that these problems do not revisit themselves. The Executive should not investigate itself. That’s why a judicial commission of inquiry into the PGCPS MESS must be convened pronto. This does not mean the executive and the security services should not do a penetrating investigation of what went wrong. They must.

In addition, whatever happens, the local county intelligence and security services must be depoliticized. There’s a perception that too much time is spent trailing dissidents and critics. What’s lost in translation is that critics are the backbone of democracy, not its nemesis. The time wasted on surveiling legitimate domestic political activists the world over only takes valuable resources away from tracking and preventing possible corrupt groups and other malevolent clusters.

We know that complete depoliticisation is not possible, but paranoia and harassment of genuine democracy activists must be a thing of the past. Professionalizing intelligence and security services – and the police – cannot be gainsaid.

They are key to preventing future problems of various kinds. This will require killing criminal and corrupt rackets within the state.

Moreover, the apex of the security state must have a streamlined structure with competent men and women in charge. The PGCPS MESS proved the exact opposite. Previous Board Chairperson and her successor either contradict each other, or seemed at sea.

While the measures we have outline here are a core necessity in any country or county wishing success of its citizenry, PG County must move into the future with the prospect of the youth and venerable PG County families in their mind for the wellbeing of the county.

Prince George’s county Board of Education and the Maryland State Department of Education should refrain from retaliatory activities by clamping down on civil liberties. PG County Executive Rushern Baker, Board Chairman Segun C. Eubanks, PGCPS CEO Dr. Kevin Maxwell, Maryland State Superintendent of School Lilian Lowery and others involved in management of public resources should banish all thoughts about ethnic profiling, racism, other forms of discriminatory conduct etc. To do so would fuel hatred among different ethnic groups like we have seen in the last few years. These illegal activities do not help anyone in the end. Let’s take the high road. That is how the Prince George’s county and the United States as whole will defeat poverty and corruption in the future!

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MSDE hosts Common Core forum…

…Chaos and poor leadership leave parents in the dark.

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

About 18 people protested outside the common core forum on October 1, 2013 hosted by the state Department of Education at Charles H. Flowers High School – Largo. Some of the protesters were carrying posters and distributing pamphlets from the Worcester County Tea Party  about “why [Common Core] is bad for your child, your family and for Americans.” Others from Baltimore, Montgomery and Prince George’s counties were protesting bad leadership of Dr. Lilian Lowery and the Maryland State Board of Education for lack of transparency and corruption.

Similar to the other sessions that have been held, there were outbursts inside the auditorioum from some who are opposed to the new standards. Others were opposed to the way the forum was being run. One parent repeatedly yelled for the Pledge of Allegiance to be done. Others tried to yell out follow-up questions which were ignored. The public was asked to submit their written questions, which would be answered by Lowery or local education officials present. The Maryland PTA President,  Dr. Lilian Lowery, Monica Goldson did not help with matters any how. They kept answering questions from a single person “Vicky” and these actions made the crowd more hostile.

There are critics on the left and the right to the new standards. Some on the left are opposed to standardized testing and some on the right consider it a federal takeover. “This is not a debate,” Lowery told the crowd before taking questions. “This is an informational session.”

One parent in the group said, “Maryland State Department of Education is a crumbling edifice, wrecked to the seams by corruption, bad leadership, ethnicism, racism, parochialism, sectarian intolerance and childish political recrimination.” He then concluded, is this America?

Superintendent of Schools Lillian Lowery  did mention though that “Common Core standards will bring consistency to the educational system, ensuring that the standards are the same whether a child lives in Maine or Maryland. She said the state has not changed curriculum. It has changed how subjects are taught. Maryland decided three years ago to join a consortium of states to do away with differing standards and creating new standardized tests to align with the standards.” However, she could not answer some of the questions and passed them on to her aides or Maryland PTA president.

No one was arrested, unlike an earlier forum when an Ellicott City parent interrupted Baltimore County School Superintendent Dallas Dance and complained that the new standards were not rigorous and were instead preparing students for community college not top universities.  Charges were later dropped against Robert Small, who was accused of  second-degree assault of a police officer and disturbing a school operation, after being escorted out of the forum by a police officer.

Many parents see the Maryland State Board of Education as a crumbling edifice, with massive corruption and characterised by bad leadership. There are no elections of the Maryland State Board of Education members, sweeping changes are made to our education system without parental input or notification or involvement of the legislature.  The biggest portion of our state budget goes to education, to the tune of nearly a BILLION dollars  and there are very few checks and balances to ward off corruption.  On this note, greater transparency and accountability is needed.

To make Maryland State Board of Education accountable, We must implement principles of good governance in order to provide clean and corruption-free Educational functions. In fighting corruption, the most important thing is prevention rather than punishment. Therefore this should be the main focus in the fight against corruption within the Maryland State Board of Education and elsewhere.  On this note, for an institution to foster a corruption-free environment, it would require strong leader to set an example for the rest of the officials. We feel that Dr. Lillian Lowery and Dr. Charlene Dukes (a previous board member in Prince George’s County public schools), are not role models to help with this transition after what they have done to others recently and they must go.

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

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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.

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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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PGCPS Board of Education partners…

…with Panasonic Foundation

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According to Washington Post, The Prince George’s County Board of Education, facing a rocky start in a new era of school governance, has entered into a short-term agreement with a corporate foundation to help ease its transition from an elected board to a hybrid board with government oversight.

Board Chairman Segun Eubanks said the school board voted Thursday night during a closed session to partner with Panasonic Foundation, which works with urban school districts to implement education reforms. He said the partnership is designed to “move [the county’s] agenda forward. “Reports reaching reform Sasscer Movement  according to Mr. Edward Burroughs (District 8), said,  “the new structure has created a situation where there is no accountability to the board because board leadership is appointed.” He said, “for example, that a member of Baker’s administration received a presentation from Panasonic, but most board members were excluded. Still, the board was asked to vote on the agreement.”  Further Mr. Edward Burroughs’s District 8 lost substantial funding due to recent corruption in which money ($1.4 Million) was sent back to Annapolis.  Reform Sasscer movement is against side deals being conducted at night and away from the public. This is the reason why we lobbied lawmaker to create the current Board with a great hope things were going to turn out for the better >>>Read more Washington Post

OPINION:

Without mass media, openness and accountability are impossible in democracies. Our prayer is to make sure that, what we advocated for is a dared to within the school system. We want the medium to be transparent to vision so that we can accurately view what is on the other side. As articulated before, 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. One can well understand why politicians would want to divert attention from information that is detrimental to their interests as open expressed by Mr. Burroughs and others recently. Our interest as media blog is very different as we are interested in transparency and accountability issues on behalf of everyone.  Indeed, the media’s interests are quite different from those of politicians. Nevertheless the media’s collective efforts also subvert the political values of transparency, even – and perhaps especially – when media and politicians view each other as adversaries.  BOE members who caused problems in the first place must be encouraged to resign to create a smooth transition.

Most individuals have only limited time and attention to devote to public issues. Political values of transparency do not demand that citizens spend all of their time on public subjects. Rather, they make information available to individuals so that they can use it if they so choose. But when there is too much information, filtering necessarily occurs. This filtering occurs both in terms of what media decide to cover and what individuals decide to watch. Media companies must pick and choose among hundreds of possible subjects to discuss especially as we move forward in the new era of accountability. Individuals must choose among thousands of hours of potential coverage of public events and we plan to do this in the future.

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Mr. Edward Burroughs whose district is affected by corruption.