Monthly Archives: April 2013

Many Thanks to our Delegates, Senators.

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MANY THANKS.

We want to take this moment to thank the members of the Maryland House and Senate Delegations for delivering incredible legislative success for residents of the Prince George’s County and especially with HB 1107 for PGCPS. We especially thank our Prince George’s County delegation and Senators who sponsored and supported this bill. Thank you very much for a job well done.

Governor O’Malley signed Maryland House of Delegates Bill 1107 into law on April 9, 2013. HB 1107, which goes into effect on June 1, 2013, enables County Executive Rushern L. Baker III to select the next Superintendent who, pursuant to the legislation, will hereafter be referred to as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the PGCPS. In addition, the County Executive will select the Chair and Vice Chair of the Board of Education. The legislation also authorizes the County Executive to appoint three members to the Board of Education and the County Council will make one appointment. The legislation authorizes the Governor to appoint a three member search committee for the CEO. The County Executive will select the new CEO from the three finalists recommended to him by the search committee. In coming weeks, the County Executive will work with the Board of Education and the County Council to implement this new school governance structure.

As a Movement for Prince George’s County who advocated for the changes, all we can say is that, we are thrilled! In the coming weeks and months, we will work closely with County executive Baker to make things happen and create successful transformation and accountability. We also would like to thank other comrades and anyone else who might have supported the bill by calling their elected officials in Annapolis etc. All we can say is, “Thank you”.  Victory goes to all students, staff and families of PG county.

Once again, Cheers to the Prince George’s County House, Senate Delegations, County Executive Rushern L. Baker III and Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley for signing bill HB 1107 into law, Kudos!

Reform Sasscer Movement for Prince George’s County

“We believe that America’s prosperity must rest upon the broad shoulders of a rising middle class……  We are true to our creed when a little girl born into the bleakest poverty knows that she has the same chance to succeed as anybody else, because she is an American; she is free, and she is equal, not just in the eyes of God but also in our own.”

— Barack Obama, Second Inaugural Address, January 21, 2013

Kudos to the General Assembly for reform efforts.

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We are Prince George’s County Public School District (PGCPS) observers in 15th and 32nd year, and we support the current bill HB 1107 and any related bill in the Maryland General Assembly. What has really gotten stuck in our craw most has been the imperial, patronizing manner in which the PGCPS leadership led by Ms. Verjeana Jacobs has been conducting its business.

Even if these members have been defeated for the superintendent position, they still pose a “clear and present danger”. They should never be allowed near the school board leadership in any capacity of authority or influence. The Prince George’s County Board leadership is a disgrace. We should make ensure that there is no way they can weasel their way into the board leadership ever again. The new Superintendent should do everything in his or her power to be the true new broom and sweep out the mess. The facts about ruthless and unethical board aspirants is detailed below. Every parent and concerned citizen of this county should ensure that the past never repeats itself. We owe our children at least that much. Vigilance starts with proactive action.

Interim Superintendent Dr. Alvin L. Crawley arrived seven months ago spouting transparency and community engagement, but what we’ve mostly gotten has been something far less. Several students have died, corruption continues as usual and He does not communicate properly. His first thing on the job was to block communication with PG parents tweeter feed unprovoked. (See Attachment) His tweeter feed only tweets on occasion and he lacks proper communication skills, yet he wanted to be the next superintendent.

Prince George’s County Public School District Chairperson Ms. Verjeana Jacobs and the Board members set the stage by surreptitiously hiring lobbyists to lobby the state Legislature to defeat several House Bills including HB 1107 introduced in Annapolis recently because corruption, nepotism and professional misconduct within the schools. This way, the current situation remains the same. Their effort to defeat the bills fell flat and became a public embarrassment.

In response, however, Board Chairperson Verjeana Jacobs and several Board members said Monday that the board would reopen the search for a new superintendent if that would fend off a proposed takeover plan under consideration in Annapolis. “We are still ready and willing to look at this superintendent process again, “Jacobs told a joint hearing of the Prince George’s House and Senate delegations. “Let’s get rid of the elephant in the room.” (See the story here)

“It was the first concession that Jacobs has made in the battle over County Executive Rushern L. Baker’s III plan to take over the school system. The unexpected announcement comes after school officials were closing in on picking the county’s next superintendent, which would be the eighth in 14 years”. As reported by Washington post. We support the bill and we hope to see changes as soon as possible.

Up to this point in PGCPS, we have seen what has become a pattern: there is an insular, preordained agenda going forward, and whenever there is sound pushback, if not a firestorm of public disapproval and outrage, the PGCPS leadership delivers measured comments to mollify the malcontents no matter how incongruous the rationale. Verjeana Jacobs’s notion “to reopen the superintendent search process, improve the quality of teachers’ experiences” is in stark contrast to the ominous proposals that will more likely discourage longevity. Dr. Alvin L. Crawley and Ms. Verjeana Jacobs appears willing to see teachers scrounge, beg and go out-of-pocket, or do without chairs, desks, books, paper, tape and sundry other necessities often taken for granted. Also, if they accepts the premise that there needs to be a stronger principal pipeline, then how do you give them such power to wield without safeguards, such as due process? And, too, wouldn’t their justification for non-union raises also apply to teachers, among others? How about interfering with hearing examiner by bribing and other incentives?  It is that arbitrariness that all employees dread.

The Board of Education (BOE) members and the PGCPS Union leadership and their cohorts are like a junta ruling by fiat, disconnected from the community denizens. They are not fooling anyone with their placating, after-the-fact patchwork rationales that diametrically contradict their own actions. The only transparency that has come to light is that they think that teachers, support staff, parents and the public are that gullible, or just not as smart as a third-grader. In the process, they appear disingenuous and are only losing credibility and fomenting distrust. Every keen observer is aware what has been going on behind the scenes at Sasscer (PGCPS HQ).

To our distinguished veteran colleagues, don’t let the door hit you on the way out as you defend the dysfunctional status quo.

To all involved parents that currently have children enrolled in Prince George’s County Public Schools, our voices were heard. Thank you for sending your concerns to those that have the power to vote our voice.

For the first time in a very long time, our PGCPS teachers, administrators and staff will receive classroom resources they need, our children will be provided additional assistance, albeit transportation/ELL resources, and systemic academic opportunities.

Ms. Verjeana Jacob’s continuation as a Board Chair and continuing the corruption is a perpetuation of a culture of impunity. We must demand an end to that and new leadership led by the County Executive Rushen Baker .

Kudos to the Prince George’s delegation in Annapolis who have decided to endorse changes within our County. We give the County Executive and the new Superintendent our total support and wish him or her well. However, we will hold him or her accountable and will not repeat the blind and unchecked support of years part. This has been actually lesson learnt at the expense of our children’s lives and reputation of the schools which languish at the bottom of all schools in Maryland.

We have one  fugitive former superintendent  hiding as a refugee superintendent in Philadelphia where his fortunes are beginning to unravel. Let us bring him back to justice and make him answer for his well documented crimes of neglect and malice.

It is a Sad day for the lobbyists in Annapolis and the Board lawyers involved in “NO Bid contracts” against the state law!!! BOOHOO!

Time for Change in PGCPS is Now.

 

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There are only a few moments more defining in the destiny of a county than the ones that are currently underway in Prince George’s County District system.

It has always been our view that the ultimate priority of democracy in a developed County like PG is minimizing the cost of changing leaders.

In light of the current circumstances, which include lack of competency and/or college education with regard to the majority of Board members, the fine citizens of PG Co. must invoke change and stop /reelecting non-qualified criminals for various elected positions. Ms. Verjeana Jacobs has been chairing the incompetent Board for years, despite no improvement on the part of the Board.  The malefactor trait possibly runs in her family, as her husband seems to be a criminal (see our earlier reports here). Mr. Baker is infinitely more qualified to oversee PGCPS than any elected Board member. We say give Mr. Baker all of the oversight he wants and discard the elected Board of Education. Real change will have real impact on student achievement and we support the retention of our best teachers.

But the “my way or the highway” approach adopted by Ms. Verjeana Jacobs (BOE Chair) has no root in a real democracy and will not be tolerated.

We have suffered reversals in individual and collective aspirations. But our form of response has mostly been crippled by a sense of restraint.

In the bigger picture, our realization of the potential of the county’s school system serves as the rightful incentive to stick together and bring proper changes within our county school systems, whether for ourselves or the benefit our children and their children.

The top guns of our politics have the most capacity to achieve our expectations. After months of divisive posturing concerning the flawed superintendent search by the Board of Education, Ms. Verjeana Jacobs finally admitted to inadequacy.  There would be no concern if her admission only reflected on her own incompetence; instead, her admission reflects on the Board of Education, which is our conduit for change.  The Board of Education, which is an extension of members like Verjeana Jacobs, has defaced the entire county with as much hate mongering as the motley of campaign posters she helped distribute in 2012. At that time in November 2012, Ms.Verjeana Jacobs and her husband traveled the loving terrain of PG County spreading hate propaganda against her only opponent on November 4 2012 Election.

When asked about the no bid contracts in millions of dollars issued illegally by the same Board which she chaired, she denied the charges. However, documentation shows otherwise.   When asked if she was willing to work with the opposition in addressing the issues, she rolled her eyes and left the venue.

No one has a right to seek to lead our county unless he or she sees the county as larger than his or her aspirations. And times of tense transition and public anxiety are the best moment for genuine leadership to show its face.  County stability requires that we ensure closure of contest and open the door to collaboration.

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The things that our officials say, where they go, and what they do at key moments like this are what distinguish great leaders from opportunists.

Our elected Senators, Delegates, Board members et al must closet the garbs of contest and try on the apparel of leadership. They must become couriers of a patriotic and inclusive message that changes are necessary. The reform agenda must be enacted without any fear or favor. An inspector General position must be considered and the Unions must be checked in order to ensure accountability on their part. 

Above all, leaders must be willing and ready to confess their endorsement of persons that time have proven to be inadequate, whether by their actions or inaction.

We must reject this scenario for the sake of precedent and make proper change right away.

Sadly, even a blind man can see that it truly is time for a change in the educational system in PG County. How long must the children pay the price for such an ineffective educational process? If not now, when? How many more children will be lost while the grownups play money, politics and power games? It is truly time for a change!!

The integrity and peace of Prince George’s County should be placed on a pedestal above the power ambitions of any leader or group of leaders. That means the PGCPS Board members must make sacrifices and corroborate with the County Executive Rushen Baker in order to create a bright future for our kids.

Of course, holding together a stable county in a critical time of transition is a responsibility that cannot be entirely left at the hands of a few leaders; however vigil they will be or prove to be. Members of the General Assembly, including our beloved Governor O’Malley, are key residual players.

While they are key guarantors of order, they play the best role when they are rendered unnecessary.

As articulated before in the previous blog, our courts and media must continue to play their rightful roles.

Diverse players from the non-state sectors must raise their voices.

Our pursuit of democracy is grounded in the dream of a prosperous future here in PG County. We appoint rulers in exchange for their promise to contest inadequacy in conformity with the goal to make our community wealthier and happier. We mustn’t allow the public mismanagement to result in the denigration of our communities, as manifested in high foreclosure rates, death of innocent students in the last few weeks and corruption involving recruitment of unqualified candidates to be superintendent.

Let us all demand of each other that our conduct and utterance reinforce the image of PG County as a land of stability and promise.  Let’s arrive together achieve a competitive destination for private capital where schools are designed to have a great future and are at peace.

The Prince George’s County reform efforts especially for schools will only show a maturing County if we collectively minimize the social cost.

 Sincerely

Reform Sasscer Movement for Prince George’s County

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Letter to Maryland General Assembly.

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Dear Maryland General Assembly,

On behalf of Prince George’s community, we offer the gift of perspective.  Consistent with any other gift, whether you choose to accept is up to you.

Our message to you today is predicated on the substantial support of Prince George’s County citizens with regard to the controversy between County Executive Mr. Baker and Board of Education Chairperson Ms. Verjeana Jacobs.  The inherent conflict in Mr. Baker’s proposal is outweighed by the potential progress of the school system and community.  The Prince George’s County school District system BOE leadership is not working and change is overdue!  Mr. Baker proposes that very change and we support him.  Here are our reasons.

  1. The approval/decline of Mr. Baker’s proposal, regardless of what direction is takes, has far reaching consequences well beyond the political triumphs, or failures of Ms. Verjeana Jacobs.
  2. Your decision will reflect on both your integrity and the integrity of the Prince George’s County Public Scholls (PGCPS) District system. It will set a precedent as to whether (a.) nobody messes with the Maryland General Assembly or (b.) The Maryland General Assembly can be bought or sold to the highest bidder…or the one with the most money.
  3. Your decision will not be silent with regards to the children; the children will see first-hand your expectations of the school system and what initiative you will take to protect the children.  In approving Mr. Baker’s proposal after amendments, you are sending a message that is loud and clear even to our children – there are bad consequences for bad actions and corruption involving elected Board members does NOT pay in Prince George’s County Maryland.  It is only fair to tell you that the democratic process does regretfully allow you to choose to send the message that corruption, neglect and waste do pays.  Further, you will be encouraging the children to become corrupt politicians and officials, as those professions (if you want to call them that) are lucrative venture and will incur no scrutiny from the Senate. Consequently, all self-respecting political aspirations must take a back-seat to the engagement of conmanship, gerrymandering and plain professional misconduct, including nepotism and corruption.
  4. The PG Senate and the entire General Assembly is in fact the judge in this trial that decides the fate of our PG community.  The General Assembly has the opportunity, if not privilege, of handing down a sentence that redresses the inadequacies that have plagued the Prince George’s County community.  But in order for the General Assembly to do so, the community must take its rightful position as jury and find the School Board guilty in light of its neglect of the community that it has sworn to protect.  That guilty verdict will act as the ultimate precedent; it will deter future politicians and officials from neglecting the lives of the citizens of this community.  You will be effectively telling us tomorrow whether we voted for you to be our custodians or not. You have only one chance to do it. That chance is this year, 2013. If you bungle it then, 2014 will be next year too late; the die will have been cast and the future will have been set in stone.
  5. Prince George’s heart is bleeding. It has been bleeding for sometime now and the corruption keeps on cropping up.  It especially bled during the days of Jack Johnson who is serving time in jail for corruption and other vices. Thank God! Many of you have been around and you care.  But the ulcer really flared up after  Ms.Verjeana Jacobs was elected as the Board Chairperson.  Impunity reigned supreme as the corruption, professional misconduct and nepotism glared before cameras of our televisions. You were there. Thank God! We bled profusely and many students have died recently as impunity was sworn in at night. You were there. Thank God! Because you know, five years later, impunity has taken a new face; this one is more clever, smoother, craftier and lawyer-like.  This new face is armed with sophisticated tools such as powerful organizations and lobbyists that benefit directly from the Board of Education. This entity camouflages itself in the skin of a snake-oil salesman. You, as the Maryland General Assembly, have to remind that heckler that Prince George’s County wants that element gone.
  6. Your decision will inspire and influence the integrity of the Board of Education aspirants; your sweeping reform will deter corruption and inspire a system that is based on merit and the ability/capability to truly build the nation and advance our resources for posterity.  In the absence of such reform, corruption will have been rewarded, encouraged and advanced.  This course of action will foreseeably deal a lethal, if not fatal, blow to the entire democratic process.
  7. Reread No. 6.
  8. Repeat No. 7
  9. Go back to No.5 twice, then No. 6 again.  You have a huge decision to make and should treat it as such.
  10. Eschew No. 6
  11. IF YOU FAIL TO LIVE UP TO 12, and only IF; We and many others will view you, for the long term, as nothing more than political egg-heads intent on sleeping with Prince George’s County enemies of progress, thereby proving that there is nothing supreme about you; in fact, you are nothing more than ordinary self-serving business types bearing a striking resemblance to members of the even-toed ungulates of the Suidae family.

Well, Great men and women of Maryland General Assembly, thank you for your patience in reading thus far.

Here’s hoping you will DO THE RIGHT THING!

12.  If you do the right thing, all Prince George’s County citizens will know that whether high and mighty or lowly and meek, the Maryland General Assembly is above reproach and does not bow down to any self-declared deities, much less self-imposed and willfully manipulative characters intent on abducting democracy in Maryland and especially in Prince George’s County School District.  The malefactors suffer from delusions of grandeur and superiority and you can give them their wake-up call.

Our courts and media must continue to play their rightful roles.

Diverse players from the non-state sectors must raise their voices.

The Prince George’s County reform efforts especially for schools will only show a maturing County if we collectively demand changes and keep the social cost it entails at a minimum.

Sincerely,

Reform Sasscer Movement for Prince George’s County.