Monthly Archives: September 2013

PGCPS finally hears our cry…

….concerning high suspension rates and outlines new disciplinary policy in student handbook to address the concern.

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In Prince George’s County Public school system, there were 15,615 suspensions in the 2011-2012 school year and 13,951 in 2012-2013, a drop of 1,664.

Prince George’s County schools (PGCPS) have a new discipline policy that officials hope will reduce the number of suspensions following our expose in corroboration with Washington post and keep students in school. The PGCPS school district has done a good thing by improving their disciplinary code for students. Enforcing too many days of suspension leads to students falling behind on their homework and many never catch up again. Since many students are punished for misbehavior, in many school districts around the country, this is a good improvement for sure. Zero tolerance should not be a base for disciplinary codes.

According to Washington post, …”The policy, outlined in a handbook recently distributed to the county’s 123,000 students, reduces the number of offenses that could include suspension as a punishment and places a maximum number of days a student can be kept out of class for a specific offense.”… >>Read more Washington post

Many schools across the nation report increases in the use of punitive disciplinary methods (e.g., suspension). As a result, many students on suspension become a problem to our society. The need for these disciplinary practices to address serious student misconduct is undisputed. However, what research has questioned is why some students seem to be suspended more often than others, what effects suspension has on students, and whether or when alternatives to suspension might be more effective practices than suspension itself.

In general, African-American male students are suspended at higher rates than are other racial/ethnic groups. While the reasons for the connection between race and school discipline is not clear, this relation likely occurs because of an interplay among many factors that cut across student-, teacher-, administrative-, policy-, institutional-, and community-level factors. Research suggests that school systems that incorporate comprehensive schoolwide practices that are positive, consistent, collaboratively regulated, and culturally sensitive are much more likely to have lower rates of suspension than schools without such practices. School systems that incorporate such comprehensive proactive policies are also much more likely to enhance their students’ current and future academic achievements as well as their broader life successes.

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We are like farmers. We plant seeds of thought and emotions in our lives. That which we plant will produce effects in which we must live. There can be no effect without a cause. The cause is what we believe, how we act and react to what we experience. The cause lies within us. It is the essence of our being, our spirit. ~ Iyanla Vanzant

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Prince George’s principals determine how to use funding.

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PRINCIPALS & SCHOOL BASED BUDGET IN PGCPS SCHOOL DISTRICT:

Frederick Douglass High School Principal Rudolph Saunders’s hands were tied when money for a popular college preparation course was slashed from the Prince George’s County school budget a few years ago. The course had to go, which Saunders and parents believed was a detriment to students.

Under a policy that is gaining popularity nationally and allows principals to decide how to spend the money allocated to their schools, Saunders has been able to bring the program back, using his authority to choose how best to meet his students’ needs. >> Read more Washington post

ANALYSIS

Based on the above, we find this model crazy in PG County system – the system is supposed to be “for the kids” if a guidance counselor is cut, as demonstrated in the coverage, it does not anchor well with the students. The article goes on to articulate that, the budget allocation allowed the school to hire a second  “Instructional Lead Teacher” – which is a non-classroom based staff member, who does not service or help the children in any way. It seems that perhaps instead of school based budget, this should be call “Principal based budgeting,” as the principal and her good friend are the only ones who benefit from these decision. We have received reports from some quarters that it’s “Christmas in June” for some PGCPS Principals.

There is a fundamental problem with allowing principals to use funds without serious oversight in PGCPS School District.  The required oversight is not easy to establish because the inner workings of most schools are out of sight except to the faculty in a particular school.  There is an institutional “rule” that prohibits “regular” teachers or support staff from commenting on the inner workings of their school or even expose Principal’s extra marital affair etc. This why the ship has been going down for a while and another reason why Mr. James Small-Wood and Mr. Dwayne Jones have managed to destroy Association of Supervisory and Administrative School Personnel (ASASP) with impunity plus other unions like ACE-AFSCME Local 2250.   While it sounds good,  it is well-known that a great number of principals “favor” specific faculty members and will use these funds to support those faculty members rather than use the funds to increase the educational achievement for all students.  For Example, if the Principal wants to create a specific position for their significant other, he or she can do that following this model. If he decides to terminate a position of a specific staff member because they complained. He or she can do that too. The policy suggests that all principals are competent, an assumption which is way off the mark. In our own considered opinion, this model is not ready for PGCPS because of lack of transparency and accountability initiatives. The retaliation and discriminatory tendencies have been the order of the day since the inception of the same system. We must stop the impunity and create the right balance in a transparency manner. It’s time to make changes!

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Ms. Mundey Swearing-In Ceremony.

…Board of Education Swearing-In Ceremony 9/16/13

Lyn J. Mundey

Lyn J. Mundey

Lyn Mundey was sworn in Monday as the newest member of the Prince George’s County Board of Education.

Mundey replaces former school board member Carletta Fellows, who resigned in July after serving six months on the board. Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D) appointed Mundey to the District 7 seat last month. Read full article >> The Washington Post

>>Watch the video

Ceremony in pictures

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Open Letter to Mr. Rushern Baker…

…Concerning nomination of Robin Barnes-Shell As acting executive director of the Office of Ethics and Accountability.

Rushern Baker - Appears to be driving corruption to new heights

RUSHERN L. BAKER III, County Executive

Office of County Executive

County Administration Building, Room 5032

14741 Governor Oden Bowie Drive, Upper Marlboro, MD 20772 – 3070

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Dear Mr. Baker,

On behalf of the entire membership of the Reform Sasscer Movement, a nonprofit education and advocacy group, composed of several thousand responsible citizens in PG County, we are writing to express extreme disappointment in the decision to nominate Ms. Robin Barnes-Shell, as the head of PG County’s Office of Ethics and Accountability in effort to battle corruption. This position is intended to “honor those employees who exemplify commitment to principles of good conduct and courage.” We fail to see how Ms. Barnes-Shell will head the office. Previously, Ms. Barnes-Shell prejudiced employees by conducting unfair hearings or none at all, covered up corruption, proffessional misconduct  and other acts of abuse against employees, students, etc.  We fail to see how Ms. Barnes-Shell can be held as a role model in the school system.  In light of the facts, Ms. Barnes-Shell is closely acquainted with the very people involved in the same thing she is supposed to fight – corruption. This is a bad decision in that respect. It is especially ironic and inappropriate that Ms. Robin Barnes-Shell be given this recognition to run such an office which demands a high-level of integrity.

Please consider the ramifications of this nomination and the importance of leading by example. Ms. Barnes-Shell does not hold true to “transparency and accountability”. We remain hopeful that she will continue to attempt to redeem herself through words and actions in other areas of the county, but as of now, we feel strongly that she deserves neither recommendation nor reward of such a high office given her conduct in advancing corruption, proffessional misconduct, nepotism  in PGCPS and also what she did to others within and outside of the school district.

We, members of the Reform Sasscer Movement, are kindly asking you to reconsider the nomination of Ms. Barnes-Shell. Additionally, our efforts as a group have previously endorsed you taking over the entire PG county school system.

Sincerely,

Reform Sasscer Movement for Prince George’s County

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Back to school: It’s worse than you think in Philly.

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Philadelphia public schools are opening for the new school year today Monday September 9, 2013 without many of the basics any reasonable person would expect. Paper, for example. Guidance counselors. Nurses.

Amid an agonizing financial and leadership crisis, the appointed School Reform Commission, which has run the district since the state took it over a dozen years ago, passed a “doomsday” budget this past summer that included cuts so drastic there was no money for schools to open this fall with funding for things such as paper, new books, athletics, arts, music, counselors, assistant principals and more. Teachers were laid off. This came after the closure of a few dozen schools.

How did this happen? The state government has financially starved the district for years, and the city’s public school system has been subjected to one reform experiment after another.

How bad is it? Superintendent William Hite made some accommodations to allow schools to open, but parents say the answer to the question is this: Worse than you think.

According to our own considered opinion, it appears Dr. William Hite et al organized a secret plan to promote charter schools as a solution to the Philadelphia public school problem, making the situation ungovernable as he did in PGCPS through the Unions and others. This way, he can advance corruption in Philadelphia public schools and rule by decree while simponing money through the back door using his conspirators. The collapse of rule of law in the Philadephia public school management under Dr. Hite is most egregious scandal in the United States. Only this time it is bigger than PGCPS MESS

We strongly feel that this is all by design to defame high salary teachers and dismiss them through a coordinated effort using newly hired staff from PGCPS. Many of these teachers and staff being fired are not part of the “good old boys club” which is patently obvious in many district-those teachers who went through the district or are married into it (or are lower in the salary scale) are given the best students and those that are not of the former are given students who need more help. Is there any recourse many have? We are convinced that the local, state and national unions will only afford one a token gesture of support to teachers in their plight for the sake of politics including in Maryland. Time will tell….

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Dr. William Hite Jr

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Md.’s teacher certification law criticized…

…Study says requiring a master’s is causing teacher shortages in key subjects

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By Liz Bowie,

The Baltimore Sun

7:20 p.m. EDT,

September 6, 2013

After a stint in the military and on his way to earning a bachelor’s degree  in physics from the University  of Maryland, Baltimore County, Rory Holderness decided he wanted to become a  high school teacher.

He enrolled in Towson  University‘s graduate program for teachers three years ago but soon became  frustrated with classes that he believed were more aimed at grooming elementary  reading teachers than someone who hoped to be teaching physics to 16-year-olds.  He dropped out.

“The whole system was pretty frustrating,” said Holderness, who might have  ended up with a career in a classroom instead of working for AT&T had he  found the route to becoming a licensed teacher easier.

A recent report by the Calvert Institute for Policy Research found that  becoming certified to teach in Maryland is so burdensome that it is causing  teacher shortages in key subjects such as science, math and special education.  And the report suggests that the state should alter some of its teacher  certification requirements to open up the field to a larger number of  candidates.

“Maryland’s teacher certification policies are ill-conceived and  counterproductive, particularly when compared to many other states’  certification policies,” said Christopher Ryan, the report’s author.

Read more: http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/education/bs-md-teacher-certification-20130829,0,5261314.story#ixzz2eFuzT4rq

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