Maryland Senate expected to vote on allowing parents to opt out of Common Core tests.

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Maryland Governor Larry Hogan

A Maryland senator is proposing an amendment to the state’s fiscal 2016 budget that would allow parents to opt their children out of Common Core tests with impunity to the students and the schools — and the Senate is expected to vote on it as early as Thursday.

Sen. Justin Ready, a Republican, is placing the amendment on the Senate floor, according to his chief of staff, Aaron Jones, to make it easier for parents to choose whether their children can take the PARCC Common Core test next year.  There is now no way for parents to opt out, and schools are deciding for themselves how to handle such requests, with some insisting that children take the tests and others allowing students to leave school with parents or sit somewhere in the school with no assigned schoolwork, Jones said.

Maryland schools have been implementing the Common Core State Standards for several years, and the state is a member of the Partnership for the Assessment of the Readiness for College and Career, one of two multistate consortia created to design new assessments aligned to the Common Core with some $360 million in federal funds. Students have been taking the PARCC in Maryland, as well as in a number of other states, amid a growing protest movement across the country against high-stakes standardized testing. Thousands of parents are opting out their children from taking Common Core exams and a small but growing number of teachers, principals and superintendents are publicly protesting the exams as being detrimental to effective teaching and learning.

[Related: Some parents across the country are revolting against standardized testing]

The Maryland Department of Education said it could not immediately comment on the issue.

>>> Read more

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Senator introduces bill to limit Pr. George’s property tax increases.

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Senator C Anthony Muse

Sen. C. Anthony Muse (D-Prince George’s) on Wednesday proposed a state law that would block an attempt by Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D) to raise property taxes for the first time in more than three decades.

Senate Bill 939 would forbid the county’s “governing body” to set a property tax rate higher than limits enshrined in its charter — which means a 1978 voter-imposed cap of $0.96 per $100 of assessed value.

Baker announced this month that he had found a way to circumvent the tax cap, using a 2012 state law that permits full funding of any school spending plan approved by the County Council. He wants to raise property taxes by 15 percent to help fund a $1.9 billion education budget that, he says, would help bring county schools up to par with those in more affluent neighboring jurisdictions.

Muse introduced his bill at the end of Wednesday’s legislative session in the State House. Most bills were submitted weeks ago, at the start of the legislature’s annual 90-day session.

“It would not allow property taxes to be raised indefinitely and in an unlimited way,” Muse said in an interview. “This bill will give citizens a sense of ease that taxes will not go up without restraint.”

>>> Read more Washington Post

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Prince George’s County Board of Education – Public High Schools – Outdoor Synthetic Turf Fields.

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Reform Sasscer Movement has received reports that, SB 867 – the Prince George’s artificial turf bill has passed the Senate 44-2 and is now in the House Appropriations committee.  There was one amendment – limiting POS funds to 50% of PG allotment.  The House version of the bill has not passed the full delegation.

We suggest you call your delegates along with writing emails and ask them to vote “NO’ because of the healthy issues associated with synthetic Turf.  Here is a link to all Prince George’s County house delegation.

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Opposition mounts to Prince George’s proposed tax increase.

Opponents say measure should be brought to referendum vote.

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County Executive Rushern Baker III proposed 15 percent tax increase to fund a $133 million county increase

Fort Washington resident Earl O’Neal said he is enraged by County Executive Rushern L. Baker’s proposed 15 percent tax increase to fund a $133 million county increase in the school system budget.

“There is no doubt that there is great need in Prince George’s County. But money is not going to fix what is wrong with our schools,” O’Neal said during Monday’s County Council meeting. Thirteen people spoke out against the tax increase, and no one spoke in favor.

Approximately 45 people were in attendance.

Baker is proposing raising residential and commercial property taxes approximately 15 percent to fund a large increase in education spending by the county. He is also proposing increasing the telecommunications tax from 8 percent to 12 percent.

Approximately $127.9 million would be raised to go towards the county school system’s request of $117.5 million in addition to the $15.5 million maintenance of effort increase required under state law.

Maryland state law requires school systems to maintain as a minimum, the per pupil funding amount in the previous year, referred to as maintenance of effort.

Should the tax increase go into effect, Prince George’s would have one of the highest residential property tax rates in the state, trailing only Charles County and Baltimore city, according to data from the Maryland Department of Assessment and Tax Rate.

Tax Reform Initiative by Marylanders, or TRIM, is a county law dating back to 1978 that requires a public referendum to raise property taxes.

Baker’s office is citing a 2012 state law that allows counties to raise taxes above voter-imposed tax caps if the money is used for education.

Judy Robinson of Hyattsville, past chair of citizen committees PG Citizens for Tax Reform and Term Limitation and Truth iN Taxation, said that while the 2012 Senate Bill 848 may allow the county to violate its own charter in regards to raising taxes, she believes the county charter still applies in requiring a referendum vote on any tax increase.

>>> Read more 

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PGCPS Apologize for Not Notifying Parents of Black Mold.

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Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) students have been sitting next to black mold for days. Now a local school district is apologizing for not notifying parents of the discovery in an elementary school classroom. Prince George’s County Bureau Chief Tracee Wilkins reports on what the school system is planning to do about the mold.

>>> See the Report NBC4

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Hogan, congressional delegation, focus on FBI headquarters.

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Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, left, discusses bipartisan efforts by his administration and the state’s mostly Democratic congressional delegation to attract a new FBI headquarters to Prince George’s County during a news conference on Monday, March 23, 2015 in Annapolis, Md. To the right of the governor are Rep. Donna Edwards, D-Md., Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., and Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md. 

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Republican Gov. Larry Hogan and members of Maryland’s heavily Democratic congressional delegation pledged Monday to work together to bring the FBI’s new headquarters to the state.

They held a news conference to emphasize that November’s election result will not affect the resolve of federal, state and local officials in Maryland to draw the facility to Prince George’s County, just outside of the nation’s capital.

“We have all committed to work together and to do everything we possibly can to ensure that Maryland is the ultimate choice for the FBI headquarters relocation,” Hogan said.

>>> Read more WUSA9 

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Prince George’s County woman arrested for stabbing her mother, 94 to death.

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60-year-old Michelle Miriam Davis is facing charges of first and second degree murder. 

The Prince George’s County Police Department’s Homicide Unit arrested a suspect in connection with a homicide in Chillum on Saturday. The suspect is 60-year-old Michelle Miriam Davis. The victim is 94-year-old Margaret Ellen Wells. The victim is the suspect’s mother. Both lived in a home in the 6400 block of Knollbrook Drive in Chillum. 

On March 21, 2015, at about 11:30 am, patrol officers were called to the home on Knollbrook Drive at the request of emergency medical personnel. When the officers arrived, they found Wells inside the home suffering from apparent stab wounds. She was pronounced dead on the scene. 
The preliminary investigation reveals the victim and suspect had been in an argument prior to the stabbing. The suspect was home when officers arrived. 
Davis is facing charges of first and second degree murder. 
Anyone with information about this case is asked to call the Prince George’s County Police Department’s Homicide Unit at 301-772-4925. Callers wishing to remain anonymous may call Crime Solvers at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477), text “PGPD plus your message” to CRIMES (274637) on your cell phone or go to http://www.pgpolice.org/
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