Monthly Archives: September 2013

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.

STAY INFORMED: Subscribe into our blog to receive free email notifications each time we post a new article.  Thanks for supporting reform Sasscer Movement for Prince George’s County in Maryland!

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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 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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AR-702169858Mr. Edward Burroughs whose district is affected by corruption

PGCEA Union Drops the ball…

… And accepts lower bonuses for best teachers.

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By , Sunday, September 29, 5:26 PM

Despite our fierce national argument over whether to use student test scores to rate teachers, most people who care about schools agree that sophisticated, multifaceted assessments of teachers are good. The National Board Certification process sponsored by the Arlington-based National Board for Professional Teaching Standards is an oft-cited example.

Even teacher union leaders, rightly suspicious of teacher-rating schemes, have praised the National Board assessments, which ignore student scores. The evaluation process takes about a year. Applicants must analyze their classroom situations and student needs, submit videos of their teaching, provide student work samples and explain how they would handle difficult moments. >>> Read More Washington Post

OPINION:

The article highlights important issues affecting some of the best teachers in the county. However, we disagree with the writer Mr. Jay Mathews on some things that,  “it would be better if we selected and trained principals with great care, made them responsible for their schools’ successes, then let them decide whom to reward and how.” For quite some time now, some of the principals have been the source of the problems within the county schools, starting with the ones involved in personal enterprises and covered by ASASP Union.  Principal Angelique Simpson Marcus kept bonuses of staff members whom she did not like, for example. She is currently at the center of several lawsuits in Green Belt Federal Court.  There are worse situations involving other principals that have never been unearthed as yet.  Maybe if we selected and trained central staff with great care, made them responsible for the schools’ successes, then let them manage the rewards working closely with the Principals whom to reward and how, may be it will be great for the county. Dr. Maxwell and office of talent development needs to get more involved and work corroboratively within the schools and Sasscer (System HQ) to encourage innovation and retention of the best teachers plus other staff members.

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Federal judge allows ADA lawsuit…

…to go to trial in November 2013.

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Violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA): Failure of Prince George’s County Public Schools to Accommodate

GREENBELT, Maryland — Judge Alexander Williams of the U.S. District Court of Maryland’s Southern Division denied motions for summary judgment filed by Thatcher Law firm on behalf of the Board of Education for Prince George’s County recently.  Information reaching Reform Sasscer movement indicates that after a careful analysis, the judge allowed the case to proceed for the jury deriberations this fall.

Plaintiff William Wilson an algebra teacher who possesses Maryland special education certifications faced a number of discrimination conduct within PGCPS.  During the 2011 – 2012 school year, Mr. Wilson was employed by Prince George’s County Public Schools and assigned to Dr. Henry Wise High School.

Mr. Wilson suffers from a permanent neuropathy in his left foot.  He experiences severe pain if he stands or walks for extended periods.  His leg pain is chronic and constant.  Mr. Wilson had surgery to relieve his leg pain, however, the surgery was unsuccessful.  Mr. Wilson has a “Virginia Permanent Disabled Parking Placard”.

In early November 2011, Mr. Wilson complained to his immediate supervisor, Dawn Brodus-Yougha, about the foot pain he was experiencing due to his disability.  Dr. Brodus-Yougha said to Ms. Wilson, “if you have a disability I need to see a doctor’s note.”

Mr. Wilson provided Dr. Brodus-Yougha with a note from his doctor, dated November 11, 2011, which said, “Pt will need frequent episodes of sitting and minimal standing”.  Dr. Brodus-Yougha then instructed Mr. Wilson to give a copy of his doctor’s note to Principal Carletta Marrow.  Mr. Wilson provided Principal Marrow with a copy of his doctor’s note.

Nonetheless, Dr. Brodus-Yougha ordered Mr. Wilson to stand in front of his classroom each morning  for hall duty, which meant 20 minutes of continual standing.  Dr. Brodus-Yougha would not allow Mr. Wilson to sit down during hall duty, even when he complained about pain.

Mr. Wilson’s foot pain became so unbearable that he began to experience panic attacks, he could not sleep at night, his blood pressure rose to dangerous levels, and he began throwing up before school.

Doctor’s notes that restricted Mr. Wilson’s standing to five minutes continued to be ignored.  On February 14, 2012, Dr. Brodus-Yougha ordered Ms. Wilson to stand outside the school at the end of each day and escort his students to their buses.  The task involved 30 to 45 minutes of additional standing and walking.

On February 26, 2012, Ms. Wilson informed PGCPS officials that the constant standing and walking was so harmful to his health that he was resigning from his $90,840 a year position. PGCPS_-_Wilson_Complaint_filed_July_13_2012

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PGCPS loses $1.4 million…

…for school construction.

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CROSSLAND AND POTOMAC HIGH SHOOLS AMONG THE SCHOOLS AFFECTED.

By , Published: September 25

The Prince George’s County school system was forced to return $1.4 million in state funds this year after it failed to approve school construction contracts within a two-year deadline.

The county lost the funding in May after it failed to sign agreements with contractors to handle upgrades to science classrooms at Potomac and Crossland high schools, according to David Lever, executive director of the Maryland Interagency Committee on School Construction, which oversees school projects in the state. Lever said it is unusual for a school system to miss such a deadline and lose funding. >>>Read more Washington Post

ANALYSIS

“The county lost the funding in May after it failed to sign agreements with contractors to handle upgrades to science classrooms at Potomac and Crossland high schools.”  Both schools are in District 8 which is part of southern Maryland.

$1.4 million dollars is a great deal of money lost for schools which need help. This lose of money meant for PGCPS should be a concern for every Prince George’s County citizen.

Although there were Superintendent leadership challenges, the Board of Education Member Mr. Edward Burroughs III  for this district remained the same and should have had a way more watchful eye on this funding. We are very disappointed with what happened here. In the next few weeks, we will try and find answers for our followers and we should be reporting back soon in this blog.

Problems continue to rigor in PGCPS and some of the changes we advocated for have not been enacted as yet. PGCPS leadership needs to revisit our top priorities and fix the issues heads on. Personnel at Sasscer mentioned in our blog and connected with the old regime for advancing corruption needs to step aside including the Thatcher law firm. We are watching!

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State Super has Md parent arrested…

… at Common Core forumparent, Parent becomes cause celebre.

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Last week in Maryland a parent was arrested and charged with second degree assault on a police officer after speaking out at a town hall meeting organized by the local education board and Maryland State Superintendent Dr. Lillian M. Lowery.  Like most town hall forums, this meeting was a sham, where the officials would only answer pre-selected, politically correct answers that they approved of. Questions from the audience of about 160 people, which consisted of parents, PTA members, teachers, and school administrators, were submitted on cards prior to and during the 1-1/2 hour meeting for the Q&A period which lasted about 40 minutes.

The meeting was about a new style of curriculum that is being implemented at public schools called “common core”.  Many critics have accused this new curriculum of dumbing down the material, which would go along with the progression that we have seen over the past several generations.

Robert Small, age 46, was one of the only parents with the courage to speak up, despite the fact that many other parents cheered him on.

“Look, I am being manhandled and shut down because I asked inconvenient questions,” Small said. “Why won’t they allow an open forum where there can be a debate? We are told to sit there and be lectured to about how great common core is.”

As he was being taken out, Small said, We’re sick of this. This is not a CNN political game. This is a public town hall… Listen, don’t stand for this. You’re sitting here like cattle. You have questions.  Confront them.They don’t want to do it in public….Parents, you need to question these people….Do the research,.Then he said, “Is this America?”  Research on common core can be found >>here<<

Mr. Small was arrested after being removed from the auditorium and charged with second degree assault of a police officer and a second charge of disrupting a school function.

The video clearly shows that, if anyone was aggressive, it was the security guard, not Mr. Small. What may have happened out in the hall however, is unknown.

In the second video clip (click here), you can hear multiple parents call out how their question was not read and they were ignored.

There will be one more out of four Common Core meetings hosted by county school boards in Maryland.  This one is on October 1 in Prince George’s County.  Click here for more info.

Watch the video <<here>>

ANALYSIS

Proponents of the standards are still struggling to explain the initiative to parents, many of whom say they’ve never even heard of Common Core.  Arguments for and against the new standards have had little impact on public opinion because, according to a Gallup survey of public schools, 62 percent of Americans have never heard of the Common Core. With the debate now shifting to the alignment of high-stakes tests to the Common Core Standards, people on both sides of the issue agree that the battle for the hearts and minds of parents will be crucial.

As you have seen in the video the questioning from Mr. Small was for the better of the community. However, he was cut short and forcefully removed plus charged with criminal offense. There was no need for leadership to act that way. The Maryland State Board of Education (MSBE) is out of control and it is accountable to no one in the State.  What has really gotten stuck in our craws most has been the imperial, patronizing manner in which the Maryland State Board of Education (MSBE) leadership has been conducting its business. Superintendent Lillian M. Lowery arrived more than one (1) year ago spouting transparency and community engagement, but what we’ve mostly gotten has been something far less. Maryland State Board of Education (MSBE) President Dr. Charlene Dukes and the MSBE set the stage by surreptitiously hiring full time staff members to lobby the state Legislature to increase the power of the MSBE to impose working conditions to cover their own diabolical acts because they are not elected but selected. So far they have succeeded and this trend must be reversed.

The MSBE and President Charlene Duke’s leadership and their cohorts are like a junta ruling by fiat, disconnected from the community denizens. They are not elected by anyone and aren’t fooling everybody 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, 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.

The person who should have been charged in the above video was the security guard. He had no right to be pushing the speaker. Also, he was getting in his face like a typical thug who wanted to fight. The parents whose rights are violated like this should take a stand and sue them for violating the law. If we do not start standing up to these people, they will assume more and more power. Tax payer dollars made that meeting public. People can leave if they are bothered by his questions.

The hearings have been taking place been between 7pm- 8:30pm as indicated below in the past schedule. A word of  caution though, the meetings may not be teacher-friendly, but we certainly hope for the presence of retired teachers and other professionals to turn out in the last meeting on October 1, 2013.

If you want change to happen, stay engaged with the Maryland State Board of Education system and ask tough questions. Elected officials definitely needs to get involved and demand changes concerning transparency and accountability initiatives in the State level. As seen here in Prince George’s County, corruption is the order of the day in the State level and involves money meant to help the children but has been directed elsewhere. Maryland State Board of Education is the mother ship of corruption and discrimination. Parents and Elected officials must create accountability mechanism and demand tough changes to roll back the trend.  For those who missed their chance, the October 1, 2013 meeting at Charles H. Flowers High School in Prince George’s County is the last one, here has been the schedule:

Easton High School in Talbot County on Sept. 10.

Forums will also be held  Sept. 16 at South Hagerstown High School in Washington County

Sept. 19 at Ridge Ruxton School in Baltimore County.

The final discussion will be held for the Washington DC region on October 1, 2013 at Charles H. Flowers High School in Prince George’s County.

Read more >>>> Examiner >> Washington post

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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.

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Pr. George’s school leaders…

…need to keep faith with parents

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Pr. George’s school leaders

By Keith Harriston, Friday, September 20, 11:29 AM

Here’s some unsolicited advice for the Prince George’s public schools chief executive, Kevin Maxwell: Let those who work for you in central administration know that misleading parents is bad policy.

These days, parents with children at Judith Hoyer Montessori think that deception is school policy. (For transparency: I have a child at the school.) Why?

In late 2011 and early 2012, the school district held public meetings to discuss new school boundaries. The plan included moving Judith Hoyer to the former Oakcrest Elementary building about four miles away. Such a move to a larger facility, officials told Judith Hoyer parents, would allow the school to expand to include grades seven and eight. That would leave families in central Prince George’s with a full kindergarten-through-eighth grade Montessori program and put them on equal footing with public school Montessori programs that serve families in northern and southern Prince George’s. >>>Read More Washington Post

  ANALYSIS

Traditional liberal concepts of democracy and citizenship rely on an informed citizenry to hold governments accountable. If they do not contribute fully because of their disappointment with government failings, and as a result withdraw from the political and democratic processes, some Politians might like it. When citizens withdraw, it is not the politicians that suffer but rather the people and their fellow citizens that do. While politicians might play the political game merely to win an election, this does great harm to their communities and nations all over the world. In this case, this how former county Executive Jack Johnson  was able to pull off through a reign of terror for many years without accountability. We should never let such a scenario revisit itself  here in this county. On this note, we applaud the parents of Judith Hoyer Montessori for demanding transparency. Parents in the other schools should do the same thing. This is the only way to keep the leadership in check.

“Winning elections only matters if the governing that follows progresses the county and the nation. The nation only progresses where citizens as a group are better off after the elections than before.”Whether citizens are better off or not, it is a matter of judgment on the part of citizens and not necessarily what political factions assert. In the end, in an open democracy, the wisdom of the citizenry wins out.

We believe trust in government will not be restored by what citizens expect but by what they inspect within their local governments. There is a great need for politicians, at both the national and local levels and especially here in Prince George’s County, to be forced to submit themselves to greater inspection, scrutiny and accountability.

Politicians, should be scrutinized both before and after they are elected. Parents needs to get involved with parent teacher Associations (PTA) in their neighborhood schools.  They need to subject their leaders to rigorous scrutiny as to their thoughts about governing and their conduct in the governing process. The issue is to get at the heart of their policy content, intent and execution.

Only an alert, attentive and active citizenry can ensure this level of inspection. It is much to ask of people caught up in their everyday lives and the burdens of making ends meet, but when politics matters to the quality of everyday life, then involvement is mandatory.

While an active change in governing structure is important, the media cannot do it alone:  “It is not enough to leave the media to this inspection alone.  The media must play its rightful role, but an active media and active citizenry can make for a powerful inspection mechanism for politicians. If you want to make an inept politician shake, tell him or her that both the press and his constituents are demanding to speak with him or her and have some tough questions to ask.”

Sleeping voters and a passive media are an ill-intentioned politician’s dream.

As articulated before, Mr. Rushern Baker’s biggest test is creating a smooth transition within the schools, but 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.

If PG County is to attain its aspirations for modernity, its politicians must see value in balancing county and national drivers of growth. This way, they can create enabling environment for Businesses to flourish while embracing other groups as part of the county system.

Our world needs drastic improvements in governance structure especially here in PG County under County Executive Rushern Baker III. If any improvement is to come, alert, attentive and active citizens must rise up and demand for it. The more alert, attentive and active, the greater the improvement is likely to be. Schools in the county are not going to progress if we do not get involved in the process and demand accountability. It’s our moral duty.

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“The collapse of good conscience and the absence of accountability and public scrutiny have led to crimes against humanity.” ~Nelson Mandela.