Category Archives: PGCPS Audacity to squander

Future of the County –

…Heroes of tomorrow.

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 An Opinion.

Today we found ourselves visiting with several parents to monitor our children in several schools within the county to monitor progress made so far. We visited schools surrounded by people living in some of our most neglected communities in Oxon Hill, Capital Heights, Riverdale, Langley Park and Hyattsville. It is an interesting coincidence that got us thinking of the work that the heroes of yesterday began, and that our children and their children have to carry on with. Our county has had great men and women standing up at different times, but towards the same goal, of ensuring liberty, prosperity and justice for all.

The freedom fighters risked all to liberate us from the colonial yoke. After independence, another generation stepped in and risked everything when the very dreams that inspired the freedom fighters were being rolled back. These are the heroes of the first Liberation who faced numerous challenges including racism and segregation machines ultimately they reclaimed the rights and freedoms that were being taken away. For which they paid a great price. The heroes of our first, second, third, etc. Liberations have brought us this far. Some of these Heroes were Black, Indians, Whites, Latinos, and Asians amongst races. We are immensely indebted to them.

In July 2014 the United States of America turns 238 years old and counting. As we remember the heroes of the past centuries, we must focus on the next 50 years ahead and ask ourselves, who will be our heroes of that period and what will make them?

Listening to various leaders including governor O’Malley of Maryland, County Executive Rushern Baker, Senator Joan Benson of Prince George’s County speak about their challenges and promises of their respective areas, we found ourselves thinking of our country’s next fifty years, its old challenges that we have been unable to subdue and the new ones we are yet to start tackling.  It occurred to us that the heroes of the years ahead might be made in our county if we get it right.

Our county is certainly set to be the next theatre of action, opportunities, challenges and growth. That is why Washington, D.C. metropolitan area is  the most affluent metropolitan area in the United States. Prince George’s county in particular has been a magnet for international immigration since the late 1960s. It is also a magnet for internal migration (persons moving from one region of the U.S. to another). Many students in Prince George’s county bear great potential and promise for the future but they are never challenged for greater capabilities. What can we do to make their world mean something or rewarding?

In southern Maryland, NASA records the strongest all-round the year wind blowing in the same direction and capable of generating electricity for all of Prince George’s County. It has never been exploited. Like many other counties in Maryland, Prince George’s county is changing fast but transforming too slowly. The economy is growing, but so are poverty levels. Despite new challenges and new opportunities, outdated mindset  full of discriminatory tendencies persists. The heroes of the next fifty years of our county will be men and women who accept that we cannot create the future by clinging to the past. We should embrace diversity and work together for good of the county and the United States of America.

Prince George’s County and especially the County school system has a chance to open a new chapter with the coming of devolved units after HB1107. Already, a number of our county representatives are toying with grand visions but we should not let the old ways crop back in through the back door.

In the struggles of these representatives whether it is a senator, delegate or Board of Education member, we see a journey to determine the county’s future by expanding our county’s productivity. In this regard, the county carries great potential in determining our county’s next heroes. Unfortunately, the passion of the governor or other representatives or even the county Executive alone is not enough. Every defining moment in a nation’s history needs a champion at the center.  Abraham Lincoln stepped in to save the union that remains standing as the USA. He remains our country’s hero to date.

United States and especially Prince George’s County, needs people to champion and save devolution and secure our next fifty years. There is a simple logic that makes us passionate about the future of the county. The logic is that when we try to empower and make our neighbors rich, we create room for sharing, trading and making life rewarding for my neighbor, ourselves and myself.

Here in Prince George’s county, we still need to work hard to create better relations between our various ethnic groups. To win the battle against colonial powers, our founding fathers pulled together, in one direction. Today, we are falling apart at the seams. The heroes of the years ahead will be the men and women who will recognize this fact and act to permanently patch up the widening cracks between our ethnic groups whether white or black, Latino or Asian among other groups by addressing honestly and candidly the things that are setting various ethnic groups against another here in the county must be addressed. Let the leadership of the county Government be the model for others to follow. Let us challenge the state agencies like Maryland state Board of Education when they fail to perform in their duties properly and request proper accounting. Many of us paid a big price for advocating for change. We should not let the old ways of doing business continue unchallenged.

But we must also never forget that the struggle for freedom never ends. Future heroes will be men and women who remember the words of Ronald Reagan that…”Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on…”

Finally, whether we are ready for it or not, the world is moving into the era of innovation, science and technology.  Economists tell us that the world is getting smaller, but it is not coming together. The nations that innovate are going to rule the world.

United States as a whole has pioneered many things including planes, cellphones, internet, computers, etc. The planes are a unique United States contribution to the world. While it shows the capacity of United States to innovate, it may not be long before somebody comes up with something better. The heroes of the coming years will have to be men and women who keep United States of America on the front row through innovation, science and technology.  We live in an era when some corporations are richer than entire nations. We are confident that if we invest in them, the United States youth will give us the Sony, Citicorp, Philip Morris, Yahoo and Google of the next century and make them our heroes. The choice is ours.

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Md. says it will include more special ed students…

…in national test

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Acknowledging that scores on a national reading test may have been inflated, Maryland education officials changed course this week, saying they will work harder to reduce the number of special education students excluded from taking the test.

State school Superintendent Lillian M. Lowery said she would discuss the issue with local superintendents, testing directors and special education supervisors across the state in the coming year, putting more pressure on the local school districts to limit the practice. Recently released memos also show that state Department of Education officials have encouraged school systems over the years to include more children on the national test.

“I am concerned about people having a good baseline of information on how we as a state are performing,” Lowery said.

Read more:  http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/education/bs-md-special-ed-accommodations-20131126,0,1108318.story#ixzz2mB7X6k5C

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Call your elected officials now and the media. Demand investigations and initiation of changes… There is no smoke without fire!!

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

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Dr. Lillian Lowery Embattled State Superintendent is currently presiding over deep-seated corruption in Maryland school system. She has demonstrated a culture of discrimination and racism while on the job.

PGCPS asks seniors for proof of residency

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Members of the senior class at Northwestern High School in Prince George’s County were recently summoned to the auditorium to discuss what they needed to do before getting their diplomas in the spring.

They received information about what scores they needed to pass the Maryland High School Assessments exam, what they could expect to pay in senior dues and how to prepare for college. Then, before they left the auditorium, they were handed a letter demanding verification of their residency.

According to the letter, students whose families did not provide a current lease or mortgage statement and a utility bill, pay stub or other proof of legal residence within the Hyattsville school’s boundary would be forced to withdraw. They had two weeks to respond.>>>Read More Washington Post  >>>Read More The Wild Cat Press

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OPINION

There is nothing wrong with requiring proof of residency, but telling seniors, halfway through the year, that they have two weeks and a parent must personally bring the documents to the registrars office is a little too much. It is clearly another case of incompetent PGCPS taking a perfectly reasonable premise or idea and blowing it way out of proportion. Usually in many jurisdictions around the country, at the beginning of every school year, students always bring home a bunch of papers for parents to fill out. That is the correct time to request proof of residency. Springing this on everyone at this time, well into the school year, would tell me that the administration of this school is not knowledgeable, or at least inefficient. The way most audits work is to examine a random sampling. If there is a significant number of students who are shown not to be correctly enrolled, then broaden the audit. Why, on a whim, should over 500 families be inconvenienced out of the blue? Most kids at Northwestern are majority Hispanic / African immigrants if there is a problem with accountability, expand the exercise to the whole district. Otherwise, it will be unfair to target only this one school because of high levels of immigrant population.

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Experts call for stronger UN role in ending impunity.

Today is International day to end impunity.

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The International Day to End Impunity (IDEI) is marked annually on 23 November by advocates for free expression. A group of United Nations independent human rights experts, today called on the UN to adopt a more central role in the fight against impunity, and urged Member States to give more support to and strengthen on-going efforts to secure accountability and justice for human rights violations, including serious crimes.

“Ending impunity requires greater scrutiny, prosecution and punishment, and no other international institution is better placed than the United Nations to effectively contribute to this goal,” they stressed. “It is time for the UN to take a more decisive role in combating impunity and focus on all dimensions of the problem, including the erosion of the rule of law and the violation of general principles of justice.” Here in Prince George’s County and the larger Maryland as a state, the calls for ending impunity in this ancient old land is an important step forward. We must never surrender until the issues we have advocated for in the last several years within our county and especially the school system are resolved.

Welcoming civil society’s initiative to commemorate 23 November as an annual International Day to End Impunity, the human rights experts recalled that the Heads of State and Government pledged to ensure that impunity for serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law is not tolerated, and that such violations are properly investigated, prosecuted and sanctioned, as stated in the UN Declaration on the rule of law adopted on 24 September 2012.

The experts recalled that States are required to hold accountable those who fail to protect and prevent, as well as those who perpetrate, violations of human rights, including the rights of women and other groups at risk. “Fighting against impunity implies not only the obligation of States to investigate violations and take appropriate measures in respect of the perpetrators and the victims, but also to ensure the inalienable right to know the truth about violations and take other necessary steps to prevent their recurrence”, they added.

“Efforts to address impunity must demand transparency and accountability of all State and non-State actors, including not only paramilitary forces, mercenaries, private military companies and terrorists, but also transnational corporations,” they said.

“The goal of ending impunity does not aim at revenge but at justice,” the independent experts underscored. “It requires objectivity and non-selectivity in identifying abuses that have not been redressed.”

“Addressing the challenge of impunity is not the one-way street of victor’s justice and the punishment of the guilty among the vanquished,” they said. “The solution must be found in equal application of the law and the commitment to obtain an accounting by the powerful and the weak alike.”

The human rights experts noted that the fight against impunity requires Governments to ensure access to justice for all, to proactively make information available to all and to refrain from using national security, immunities or any other measures to cloak criminal behavior.

“Universal access to diverse and reliable information, effective domestic justice systems, the globalization of the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court and the practical realization of the right to truth are necessary conditions to do away with impunity,” they concluded. >>> Read more

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OPINION:

Many definitions of corruption have been advanced, none fully satisfactory and comprehensive. Although it may be difficult to define corruption precisely, it is generally not hard to recognize. The World Bank settled on a straightforward definition—the abuse of public office for private gain. This definition is not original, but it was chosen because it is concise and broad enough to include most forms of corruption that the Bank encounters, as well as being widely used in the literature.

Corruption is a complex phenomenon. Its roots lie deep in bureaucratic and political institutions, and its effect on development varies with country, state or County conditions. But while costs may vary and systemic corruption may coexist with strong economic performance, experience suggests that corruption is one of the most severe impediments to development and growth in emerging and transition economies.

All over the world, Corruption violates the public trust and corrodes social capital. A small side payment to obtain or speed up a government service may seem a minor offense, but it is not the only cost. Unchecked, the creeping accumulation of seemingly minor infractions can slowly erode political legitimacy to the point where even non corrupt officials and members of the public see little point in playing by the rules. Credibility, once lost by the state, is very difficult to regain. As we move towards to the future here in Prince George’s County, leadership must ensure to uphold the rule of law and avoid situations which have been developing in the last several months now under the current leadership. We must say “NO” to select few who are trying to mismanage rare resources under our watch.

C = M + D -A

where:

C (corruption) = M (monopoly) + D    (discretion) – A (accountability)

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Parents protest proposed Wal-Mart…

…near two Prince George’s schools

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Courtesy Chase Cook/The Gazette
John Nelson of Accokeek holds an anti-Wal-Mart sign while Tamara Davis Brown of Clinton shouts into a megaphone to protest a proposal to build a Walmart next to John Hanson Montessori School and Oxon Hill High School.

They’ve been fighting a Wal-Mart coming to their neighborhood for two and a half years, and parents of Oxon Hill High School students came together again Thursday to reinforce their message regarding the proposed department store: Build somewhere else.

The store’s proposed site is in between John Hanson Montessori School and Oxon Hill High School, which parents say would bring in more traffic and pose safety challenges for students.

“There is a lot of land in Prince George’s County,” said Accokeek resident Nicole Nelson, vice president of the John Hanson Montessori School Parent Teacher Student Association. “They can build it somewhere else.”

Nelson joined about 20 other parents and students holding signs on the sidewalk in front of Hanson Montessori, chanting in opposition to the store. She said the protestors have been fighting the Wal-Mart since 2011 and will continue to do so until the proposed site is changed. >>> Read more Gazette

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Pr. George’s students punished for wearing pink…

…not uniforms, for Breast Cancer Month

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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?”

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Opinion concerning six-month plan….

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

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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.

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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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