Monthly Archives: January 2014

Md. superintendents criticize reforms

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Nearly all of the superintendents of Maryland school districts have signed a statement that criticizes federal and state education officials for forcing them to implement several major reforms, including the Common Core State Standards, on what they say is an unrealistic timetable.

The document, signed by 22 of Maryland’s 24 superintendents from districts educating more than 800,000 students, asks for more time and resources to put the reforms in place, including the use of new Common Core tests expected in the 2014-2015 school year. The letter represents the first time that such a high percentage of schools chiefs in Maryland have come together to publicly call out education officials over school reform.

“Parents, elected officials, community leaders and pundits are reacting sometimes with alarm as local school systems throughout the state deal with the challenges of implementing the many components of education reform,” says the document, obtained by The Washington Post. Carl Roberts, executive director of the Public School Superintendents Association of Maryland and a former superintendent, organized the joint statement but would not identify the two superintendents who did not sign on.>>> Read more Washington Post

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Call your elected officials now and the media. Ask them to demand investigations, initiation of changes from Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE)  and the Unions representing employees among other issues. Request that MSDE slows down and corroborates with the stakeholders… Then thank them for demanding accountability and transparency in Maryland. There is no smoke without fire!!

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Dr. Lillian M. Lowery Maryland State Superintendent  of schools (Pictured above) has been criticized for showing very poor leadership skills in various ways including discriminatory conduct. She has received an F grade for Common Core meetings and other reform implementations in Maryland so far. Above all, she does not believe in the due process of the law and continues to contribute to the culture of impunity. 

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In our opinion, We aver and therefore believe Maryland State Board of Education President Dr. Charlene Dukes (shown here) has demonstrated a culture of corrupt leadership style and continues “an integrated pattern of pay to play,”  High suspension rates, violation of due process rights, manipulation inter alia during her tenure as President for Maryland State Board of Education.

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Girl, 7, beaten unconscious by classmates at PGCPS District.

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DISTRICT HEIGHTS, Md. –

A 7-year-old girl at Thomas Claggett Elementary School in District Heights, Md., was beaten unconscious by at least four classmates Tuesday morning.

It happened during recess in the school’s gymnasium.

The little girl’s parents say their daughter was taken by ambulance to Children’s Hospital in D.C. She was diagnosed with a mild concussion.

According to FOX 5,  the attack on Tuesday, happened when there were about 75 kids crammed into the gymnasium and only about five teachers supervising. None of the teachers apparently saw the incident.

Smyers and Holland the parents of the little girl are concerned about what not only seems to be a lack of supervision, but the fact that school officials haven’t disciplined the boys involved or informed other parents of what happened.

“Notice needs to be sent out because next time it could be a little pocket knife or a gun to school,” says Holland.

She says her daughter will likely not be coming back to Claggett Elementary School. She says both she and Smyers believe their daughter’s life at the school is in danger.
Read more: http://www.myfoxdc.com/story/24570454/girl-7-beaten-unconscious-by-classmates-at-md-elementary-school#ixzz2rr9IqLxj Follow us: @myfoxdc on Twitter | myfoxdc on Facebook

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We must deal with injustice and inequalities…

…Otherwise, no one will sleep soundly

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INEQUALITIES, INJUSTICES, etc OF PRINCE GEORGE’S COUNTY AND AROUND THE WORLD

The poor cannot sleep, because they are hungry,” Nigerian economist Sam Aluko famously said in 1999, “and the rich cannot sleep, because the poor are awake and hungry.”

We are all affected by deep disparities of income, injustice and wealth, because the political and economic system on which our prosperity depends cannot continue enriching some while it impoverishes others especially in Prince George’s County.

While on the above point, the court system should not be used as a tool to provide justice for some while ignoring the rest. The political elites should not tamper with the law in any way, shape, or form.

During hard times, the poor lose faith in their leaders and the economic system; and when times are good, too few enjoy the benefits. The GINI coefficient, a measure of economic inequality, has been rising for many years in developing as well as developed countries. A very good example can be found here in Prince George’s County.

In United States and Europe, inequalities have intensified recently as a result of rapidly rising unemployment, particularly among young people. Some have reacted by rioting; others have backed far-right xenophobic political parties; many more see the quietly, growing ever more resentful of politicians and the system they represent.

The problem is starkest in the world’s megacities, which account for around 80 per cent of global GDP. But even in the most developed cities, disparities can be marked.

For example, as you travel on the London Underground just six miles east from the heart of government at Westminster to Canning Town, the life expectancy of the inhabitants at each successive stop falls by six months. The same goes for inhabitants of south East – Washington DC and Capital Heights in Maryland.

But inequality is most acute in emerging economies where urbanization has been quickly developing . By 2030, an estimated 2.7 billion more people will have migrated to cities across the world, almost entirely in developing countries. Many will encounter hopelessness there, rather than the good jobs and better life for which they came to find.

Megacities like Mumbai, Johannesburg, Nairobi, Kuala Lumpur and Kinshasa are essentially small cities surrounded by huge slums — pockets of wealth in a sea of despair. None resembles the likes of Tokyo, New York, London or Washington DC which, despite areas of deprivation as indicated above, are notable for a more equitable distribution of wealth somewhat.

Such disparities are equally apparent at the national level, especially in some of Africa’s resource-rich countries. While demand for private jets and SUVs are booming, 60 per cent of the population lives on less than $1.25 a day. As the world overall grows richer, the benefits continue to flow overwhelmingly to a tiny elite. The privileged as demonstrated here in Prince George’s County are not always playing by the rules. For example, just look at what is happening after the take over of the PG County school system and the ensuing corruption currently underway.

As a result, efforts to promote more inclusive growth have become crucial, not only for moral reasons, but also to ensure the survival of the global economic system.

This involves more than wealth distribution. It means bringing people — or representatives of specific race or ethnicity, religious, or regional groups — into public-policy decision-making, to allay their sense of marginalization or perpetual failure.

It means creating real jobs to draw workers away from the informal economy, so they can benefit from workplace protections (and pay taxes). And it means framing policies that are appropriate to conditions on the ground.

But two overriding sets of policies appear to apply in almost all cases. The first seeks to ensure that poor children have access to a reasonably good education as a means to reduce inter-generational poverty. The second set of policies, which are particularly relevant in resource-rich countries, aims at guaranteeing all citizens a share of revenues from national assets.

Such policies have been shown to work in places like Brazil, whose pioneering Bolsa Familia (or family allowance) policy provides cash transfers to poor families on the condition that their children attend school, eat properly, and fulfill other criteria to improve well-being.

Mexico’s “Opportunity” programme performs a similar function. Oil-rich Alaska pays dividends from its resource revenues to all of its citizens in a transparent manner, a model many developing countries want to emulate. Although economists continue to debate the advantages and disadvantages of such schemes, they are not too complicated to set up even in Prince George’s County and other counties around the United States.

Governments, businesses, NGOs, and individual citizens, rich or poor, all have a role to play. If we ignore the dangers of wealth disparities for much longer and allow a few individuals to destroy communities while abusing power for selfish motives, the consequences will be far more distressing than a few sleepless nights.

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The Worst Possible Time For Poor Americans is happening at the moment.

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Many Americans struggle to make ends meet on a very limited budget. The same goes around the world.

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Growing Poverty and Despair in America

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Maryland approves discipline policies.

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Maryland education leaders on Tuesday approved the most sweeping changes in decades to state discipline policies, culminating a four-year effort to find a more constructive approach to student punishment, end racial disparities in suspensions and keep students who are punished in school.

The new regulations allow principals to suspend students but establish a more rehabilitative philosophy and reserve the harshest penalties for the most severe offenses. They also create a new timeline for appeals and add educational services for suspended students. >>> Read more Washington Post

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January, 23, 2014 Board of Education Meeting

… in which a school property was transferred to the County Government under dubious circumstances.

The discussion concerning the transfer of the school property illegally to the County government and ultimately to the Casino begins at 1h16m20s in the above video. Click the highlighted link to go straight to the discussion and make your own assessments. Ms. Monica Goldson highlighted in the same clip is involved in several dubious transactions in which millions of tax payer dollars have disappeared.  >>> 1h16m20s

Amidist the plethora of challenges, it is our humble opinion that PG county Government and Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS)  is at a crossroads. We have reached a critical tipping point, hence our decision to expose this issue and other critical factors that continue to affect our county.

Call your elected officials now and the media. Demand investigations and initiation of changes… There is no smoke without fire!!

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DON’T LET THE FOX GUARD THE HENHOUSE

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Closed school in Pr. George’s turned over to MGM Resorts for casino project

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The Prince George’s County Board of Education has approved a county government request to transfer the deed of a vacant school near National Harbor to the county so MGM Resorts can use the property as it develops its casino project.

Thursday night’s vote, 11 to 0 with one abstention, was held after board members questioned the timing of the request, which came to the board this week — nearly eight weeks after county officials sent schools chief Kevin M. Maxwell a letter requesting that the old Thomas Addison Elementary School be deemed a surplus facility.

Board member Edward Burroughs III (District 8), who represents the area, had pushed for the item to be removed from the consent agenda. He said he wasn’t opposed to the request but worried that there had been limited community input.

“This is the first time that we’re seeing this,” Burroughs said, referring to the Dec. 2 county letter about the building that was sent to Maxwell. “I have no problem with this being a training facility for MGM, but I represent this community, and I think we should have some regard for the people there.” >>> Read more Washington Post

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Read more >>>>from our previous coverage on January 23, 2014.

OPINION

A Fox In The Hen House

Life is strange. Sometimes people are entrusted with a responsibility when it is not in the best interest of the person granting this trust. Sometimes these people receiving that trust can appear to be everything they are not.

Such a situation is like “the fox guarding the hen house”. It refers to a conflict of interest or a deliberately deceptive and damaging course of action that may result in the entrusted person taking advantage of the persons granting that trust. The proverb has been traced back to ‘Contre-League’ and is similar to the Latin: ‘Ovem lupo commitere’ (‘To set a wolf to guard sheep.’) First attested in the United States in ‘Poet’s Proverbs’ . The proverb is found in varying forms: Don’t put the fox to guard the chicken house; Don’t let the fox guard the chicken coop; Don’t set a wolf to watch the sheep; It’s a case of the proverbial fox guarding the chickens, etc. as taken from phrases.org.uk

DON’T LET THE FOX GUARD THE HENHOUSE –

Despite efforts to expose the issues of worry, concern continues to persist in PGCPS. Only this time, there is cover up than real solutions. The process to turn over the school property to the County and ultimately to the Casino was not done in a transparent manner. The process was rushed without proper input from the citizens of PG county. Everyone should be concerned that, Monica Goldson who is accused of cover-ups involving various mega corrupt deals, presented the item  (school property) to the Board members as a consent agenda rather than discussion agenda. This is unfair to the County and it shows a lack of proper process in disposing the said property.

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Prince George’s County wants MGM…

…Resorts to use vacant school property

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The Prince George’s County government wants a vacant school near National Harbor to be used by the company that is building a Las Vegas-style casino in the county.

The county has asked the school system to declare Thomas Addison Elementary School as surplus property and to transfer the deed to the county government. The county would then make the property available to MGM Resorts, which plans to open a casino along the banks of the Potomac in 2015. The school property is valued at $2.8 million.

The Board of Education will consider the request at its meeting Thursday night. >>> Read more Washington Post

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OPINION

Members of the Board of Education for Prince George’s County are being argued to reject the above deal in tonight’s Board of Education meeting. The deal which seems suspicious and unethical in practice is not proper. Above all, it is a rushed decision without any citizens input or consent.  The transfer of the school property under control of Prince George’s County government sets a very bad precedent for the future of the county under the new Hybrid governance structure.  Reform Sasscer Movement for Prince George’s County urges the county’s citizens to reject the deal in every way possible.  Please call your elected officials and help stop the operation currently in progress. No school property should be transferred to any other entity.

All Prince George’s County Public schools (PGCPS) fixed assets whether it is land or other liquid assets  must remain the property of the school system.  If the MGM wants to rent and pay rental fees, they must be encouraged to create a memorandum of understanding.  The era of dark secrets is long gone and should not be revisited in the county.  In the future, it is possible that county residents will need the same property again. Who knows, maybe a charter school there, maybe another public school,  once the residents who left the county returns. Please call the county Executive Rushern Baker at (301) 952-4131 and tell him “NO”. Democracy must be protected here in PG county.

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PRINCIPLES OF DEMOCRACY

People from around the world have identified the basic principles, which must exist in order to have a democratic government. These principles often become a part of the constitution or bill of rights in a democratic society. Though no two democratic countries are exactly alike, people in democracies support many of the same basic principles and desire the same benefits from their government.

  1.  CITIZEN PARTICIPATION
  2. EQUALITY
  3. POLITICAL TOLERANCE
  4.  ACCOUNTABILITY
  5. TRANSPARENCY
  6.  REGULAR FREE AND FAIR ELECTIONS
  7. ECONOMIC FREEDOM
  8. CONTROL OF THE ABUSE OF POWER
  9. BILL OF RIGHTS 
  10.  ACCEPTING THE RESULTS OF ELECTIONS
  11. HUMAN RIGHTS
  12.  MULTI PARTY SYSTEM
  13. RULE OF LAW

1. Citizen Participation

One of the most basic signposts of a democracy is citizen participation in government. Participation is the key role of citizens in democracy. It is not only their right, but it is their duty. Citizen participation may take many forms including standing for election, voting in elections, becoming informed, debating issues, attending community or civic meetings, being members of private voluntary organizations, paying taxes, and even protesting. Participation builds a better democracy.

2. Equality

Democratic societies emphasize the principle that all people are equal. Equality means that all individuals are valued equally, have equal opportunities, and may not be discriminated against because of their race, religion, ethnic group, gender or sexual orientation. In a democracy,individuals and groups still maintain their right to have different cultures, personalities, languages and beliefs.

3. Political Tolerance

Democratic societies are politically tolerant. This means that while the majority of the people rule in a democracy, the rights of the minority must be protected. People who are not in power must be allowed to organize and speak out. Minorities are sometimes referred to as the opposition because they may have ideas which are different from the majority. Individual citizens must also learn to be tolerant of each other. A democratic society is often composed of people from different cultures, racial, religious and ethnic groups who have viewpoints different from the majority of the population.

A democratic society is enriched by diversity. If the majority deny rights to and destroy their opposition, then they also destroy democracy. One goal of democracy is to make the best possible decision for the society. To achieve this, respect for all people and their points of view is needed. Decisions are more likely to be accepted, even by those who oppose them, if all citizens have been allowed to discuss, debate and question them.

4. Accountability

In a democracy, elected and appointed officials have to be accountable to the people. They are responsible for their actions. Officials must make decisions and perform their duties according to the will and wishes of the people, not for themselves.

5. Transparency

For government to be accountable the people must be aware of what is happening in the country. This is referred to as transparency in government. A transparent government holds public meetings and allows citizens to attend. In a democracy, the press and the people are able to get information about what decisions are being made, by whom and why.

6. Regular, Free and Fair Elections

One way citizens of the country express their will is by electing officials to represent them in government. Democracy insists that these elected officials are chosen and peacefully removed from office in a free and fair manner. Intimidation, corruption and threats to citizens during or before an election are against the principles of democracy. In a democracy, elections are held regularly every so many years. Participation in elections should not be based on a citizen’s wealth. For free and fair elections to occur, most adult citizens should have the right to stand for government office. Additionally, obstacles should not exist which make it difficult for people to vote.

7. Economic Freedom

People in a democracy must have some form of economic freedom. This means that the government allows some private ownership of property and businesses, and that the people are allowed to choose their own work and labor unions. The role the government should play in the economy is open to debate, but it is generally accepted that free markets should exist in a democracy and the state should not totally control the economy. Some argue that the state should play a stronger role in countries where great inequality of wealth exists due to past discrimination or other unfair practices.

8. Control of the Abuse of Power

Democratic societies try to prevent any elected official or group of people from misusing or abusing their power. One of the most common abuses of power is corruption. Corruption occurs when government officials use public funds for their own benefit or exercise power in an illegal manner. Various methods have been used in different countries to protect against these abuses. Frequently the government is structured to limit the powers of the branches of government: to have independent courts and agencies with power to act against any illegal action by an elected official or branch of government; to allow for citizen participation and elections; and to check for police abuse of power.

9. Bill of Rights

Many democratic countries also choose to have a bill of rights to protect people against abuse of power. A bill of rights is a list of rights and freedoms guaranteed to all people in the country. When a bill of rights becomes part of a country’s constitution, the courts have the power to enforce these rights. A bill of rights limits the power of government and may also impose duties on individuals and organizations.

10. Accepting the Results of Elections

In democratic elections, there are winners and losers. Often the losers in an election believe so strongly that their party or candidate is the best one, that they refuse to accept the results of the election. This is against democratic principles. The consequences of not accepting the result of an election may be a government that is ineffective and cannot make decisions. It may even result in violence which is also against democracy.

11. Human Rights

All democracies strive to respect and protect the human rights of citizens. Human rights mean those values that reflect respect for human life and human dignity. Democracy emphasizes the value of every human being. Examples of human rights include freedom of expression, freedom of association, freedom of assembly, the right to equality and the right to education.

12. Multi-Party System

In order to have a multi-party system, more than one political party must participate in elections and play a role in government. A multi-party system allows for opposition to the party, which wins the election. This helps provide the government with different viewpoints on issues. Additionally, a multiparty system provides voters with a choice of candidates, parties and policies to vote for. Historically, when a country only has one party, the result has been a dictatorship.

13. The Rule of Law

In a democracy no one is above the law, not even a king or an elected President. This is called the rule of law. It means that everyone must obey the law and be held accountable if they violate it. Democracy also insists that the law be equally, fairly and consistently enforced. This is sometimes referred to as “due process of law.”

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Cartoon of social inequality

 issues of Inequality should be at the heart of our discussions about the future global agreement on how to develop our societies: