Tag Archives: culture of discrimination

Audits should lead to sound decisions and not confusion.

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Over the last two weeks there has been a vigorous debate about the damming report of the Auditor General in Maryland on the financial management of the Prince George´s County public Schools (Pgcps). If you ask the average Prince Georges County résident, there is no doubt that senior level officials at Sasscer (school system Hq)  have been “eating” the revenue allocated to the County district school system instead of delivering services. Another report  issued by CEO’s Transition Team does not help much with the issues we advocated for. It appears to have been a cover up mission to some extend. However, that is another post for another day. We will give you our opinion as we know it.

As people who remembers Prince Georgés County tortuous journey to devolution after the passage of HB 1107 and appreciates that the only option available for a stable Prince George’s County is a devolved system of government, we welcome the criticism leveled against the vanguards of Prince George´s County’s devolution. Disappointment by in the financial conduct of the County government is legitimate and an indication that citizens expect higher standards of accountability for County government. This has not been traditional attitude to local government led by Mr. Rushern Baker. Year in year out, the Auditor Generals’ report chronicled massive theft of public funds usually eliciting little more than a yawn from the public. If well handled, the current concerns can only improve citizen faith in government.

Part of handling the issue well is ensuring that the debate is not misinformed. One of the concerns we have had over time is the way audit reports tend to mix issues of irregular, unprocedural and unexplained expenditure, with those that relate to outright fraud. CEO’s Transition Team does not highlight problems created by the unions representing employees in Prince George’s County Public Schools but covered up the issues like a fox in a hen house.

In this year’s Maryland Auditor General’s reports, only a professional accountant can distinguish between audit queries relating purely to missing documentation for legitimate expenditure and where it is obvious that the documentation is missing because money was stolen. Complex audit-speak in the reports leaves one confused between merely unprocedural and unlawful expenditure. There is no doubt that fidelity to rules is essential in expenditure by public institutions, but should these two situations not be differentiated? To see the negative impact of non-differentiation, one only needs to look at last  audit report of the activities of the County school District system.

As reported by the media, the Auditor’s report disclosed that $ 1 million of public funds was “lost”. To Prince George’s County’s unsophisticated public, duly informed by a fairly simplistic media, $ 1 million of public money was stolen in one year but we also know that, the number is much higher if the paper work had not been compromised. The problem with this report is twofold. On the one hand it is unbelievable. If $ 1 million, was lost through in overpayment and other questionable activity at Sasscer, What about the mismanagement within the schools after principals were given millions to manage themselves? In the average mind, it creates integrity issues on the entire report.

Secondly, for those who believe it, the enormity of the “theft” is too overwhelming. Not only does this unjustly delegitimize school system and the local government, it also leaves citizens helpless and disillusioned feeling that the accountability war is lost, so they should not bother. If however the audit had clearly distinguished between what was unprocedurally but legitimately expended from what is actually stolen, it would create more incentive to invest in accountability mechanisms. Pointing fingers only in a few areas when we know the procurement process is not very transparent, leaves a lot of questions than answers.

For the Prince George’s County report just released, this issue is even more critical in view of the public interest in the accountability of the current local government led by Mr. Rushern Baker. For example it is important to point out that these report does not address Federal funding involving Title I schools and how the money was spent in the schools. Prince George’s County government and school system has had no systems in place and yet were still expected to deliver services from day one. Most of the issues raised by the audit reports are therefore more about procedural; breaches as opposed to fraud. We know there has been fraud because of the way money has been siphoned off recently.  Look at the way Mr. Roger Thomas , Matt and others have acted in the past.

One only needs to read the much publicized report of the audit general in Maryland to see that the bulk of issues raised relate to documentation. When these issues are bunched together with instances of fraud, it makes it difficult to smoke out the real fraudsters. It also fails to appreciate that these issues call for different solutions. Issues of non-documentation and procedure may have to do with capacity and at times inability of existing law, in this case procurement law, to deal with emerging realities.

We do not say this to legitimize unprocedural conduct. We recognize this can quickly metamorphose to fraud of which some of members have been a witness to it through the system. We raise these issues to ask the Maryland Auditor General’s team to present future audit reports in a manner that does not confuse an already skeptical public but helps it make informed decisions on improving accountability in Prince George’s County and elsewhere.

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pgcps_logoWe need more transparency and  accountability in government so that people know how their money is being spent.  That means putting budgets online, putting legislation online. ~ Carly  FiorinaimageDemocracy must be built through open societies that share information. When there is information, there is  enlightenment. When there is debate, there are solutions. When there is no  sharing of power, no rule of law, no accountability, there is abuse, corruption,  subjugation and indignation. ~ Atifete  Jahjaga

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PGCPS submit report to MD lawmakers…

…on governance structure.

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The Prince George’s County school system — operating under a new governance structure for the past six months — has hired a new superintendent, gained six new school board members and is pushing forward with plans to reinvent itself, according to a new report submitted to state lawmakers.

Following last year’s overhaul initiated by County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D), the county schools now plan to reestablish a parent and community advisory council to increase parent engagement, hire a board liaison to work with the community and the administration, and work with the county government to create a legislative agenda and reduce spending. >>> Read more Washington Post

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More states delay Common Core testing…

…as concerns grow

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Massachusetts and Louisiana, both seen as important in the world of school reform, have decided to delay the implementation of high-stakes standardized tests aligned to the Common Core State Standards in the face of  growing concern about the initiative. The two states follow nearly 10 others — including Florida, the pioneer of corporate-influenced school reform — to slow or rethink Core implementation, actions coming amid a growing movement led by educators and parents who have become skeptical of the standards and the new related standardized tests.

Meanwhile, Maryland just took over as fiscal agent for PARCC; State Superintendent Lillian Lowery said in a release last Thursday that Maryland “is strongly committed to the success of PARCC.”  However, her statement didn’t mention growing resistance among educators and parents in Maryland about the way the Core is being implemented in the state. >>>Read more

A November 21 Baltimore Sun article summarizes a briefing held by the Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee on the implementation of the Common Core curriculum standards, a new statewide testing system, and a new teacher evaluation system.  The article reports that Committee members questioned State Superintendent of Schools Lillian M. Lowery on whether the amount and pace of the education reforms are putting unnecessary stress on teachers.  From the article:

“A lot of [teachers] have talked about tremendous stress,” said Sen. Ronald N. Young, a Frederick County Democrat, adding that some teachers say they’re ready to give up and others now take medication for stress.  …

Lowery responded that the state has already sought ways to slow down the reforms, delaying when the new teacher evaluation system tied to student achievement takes effect and when new tests will be used to measure the state’s education system.  …

“This is one of the worst program implementations I have ever seen, in terms of educating parents and families,” Sen. Ed Reilly, an Anne Arundel County Republican, said to Lowery and other top state education officials. “Public relations is part of your job — all of your jobs — and it’s been done very poorly.”  …

Sen. Bill Ferguson, a Baltimore City Democrat and former teacher, compared the educational reforms to the botched rollout of the Affordable Care Act and health exchanges. “If we don’t do this right,” he said, the state may have “a bad image on a great concept.”

Sen. Ed Reilly has almost got it here. Once you understand Maryland’s great schools are just an illusion conjured by incompetent leaders like superintendent Lowery. Understand our quality of education has been dropping for 40 years and Common Core is compost than you can ask real questions. Questions like what have we been paying you folks for and why haven’t you people educated our children? >>> Read more

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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.

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Parents demonstration at Maryland state Board of Education

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Parents demonstration at Maryland state Board of Education and the leadership of Dr. Lowery