Monthly Archives: October 2016

AG Loretta Lynch: DOJ ‘Has Made a Priority to Root Out, Prosecute, and Prevent Corruption’

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U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch – Photo courtesy AP

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch says her Department of Justice aims above all to fight against fraud and corruption.

In remarks given in Rome, Italy Thursday to law enforcement officials and leaders, Lynch said, “Fighting corruption in all of its forms is vital” to the commitment to freedom and equality.

“I have seen firsthand how corruption, at bottom, is about breaking trust,” the attorney general continued, adding:

It is about undermining citizens’ belief in their elected officials. It is about betraying the people’s faith that when public monies are spent on services for citizens – from infrastructure to education – none of those funds will be misappropriated for selfish ends. And it is about poisoning the civic spirit of a people – displacing passion with cynicism, and solidarity with suspicion.

“And that is why the U.S. Department of Justice has made it a priority to root out, prosecute, and prevent corruption,” Lynch asserted, explaining that “what is at stake…is the public’s trust that one set of rules apply to all of its members, that we have ordered our markets and our governmental institutions in a fundamentally fair manner, and that our societies will uphold and respect the rule of law.”

Lynch said she is proud that the DOJ is “working tirelessly to detect corruption and bring wrongdoers to justice – no matter how powerful the actors, no matter how complex the crimes, and no matter where the crimes take place.”

The attorney general went on to praise the work of the U.S. Attorney Offices and the FBI, which, she said, “have prosecuted and convicted corrupt officials at all levels of the American government.”

Lynch touted dozens of criminal cases against individuals and corporations, and said her department’s investigations “have resulted in the collection of more than $4.4 billion in penalties.” She also boasted of lawsuits brought against companies and individuals by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

“We expect businesses and organizations – and anyone acting on behalf of these entities – to play by the rules, whether they act overseas or in the United States,” Lynch said. “In our increasingly globalized world, the United States is determined not only to hold U.S. citizens and officials accountable for their crimes, but also to ensure that our financial system offers no haven to those perpetrating corruption abroad.”

“In the days ahead, we will continue the hard work of rooting out corruption,” the attorney general asserted.

>>>Read the entire speech hereUNM_PR_USE754.jpg

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PGCPS Schools near Temple Hills briefly on lockdown.

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Photo courtesy wusa9

A shooting in the parking garage of Iverson Mall on Tuesday afternoon placed two schools in the area in temporary lockdown, according to schools Officials. Hillcrest Heights Elementary School and Jessie B. Mason Regional School were placed on lockdown out of an “abundance of caution,” police later confirmed.

A man was shot at the mall near Branch Avenue and Silver Hill Road, Prince George’s County Police tweeted shortly after 1 p.m. His injuries do not appear life threatening.

The shooting happened in the parking garage and does not appear to be random, authorities said. A male victim was shot and does not appear to have life-threatening injuries.

According to WUSA9 suspect fled from the scene of the shooting, which does not appear to be random, police said.

The lockdown was lifted at around 2 p.m.

Police continue to search for the suspect.

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David Murray to run uncontested in PGCPS Board of Education race.

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David Murray, 24 is among new Board members whom we are banking on to help restore decency in the county schools.

In his third race for the Prince George’s County school board, David Murray, 24, is the uncontested candidate this year for the open District 1 seat on the Prince George’s County Board of Education.

A 2014 graduate of University of Maryland Baltimore County, the Bowie resident ran for a board seat in 2010 against then-incumbent Rosalind Johnson and was defeated by less than 1,000 votes. In October 2012, Johnson was living outside her district – a violation of Maryland law – and resigned from the board.

Murray ran a second time in 2012 against Zabrina Epps, trailing 456 votes shy of his opponent. Epps is not running for re-election this year.

Murray’s opponent, Raul Jurado, a retired Army major, withdrew from this year’s race in September after moving to Virginia. However, Jurado’s name will appear on the ballot.

“I’ve been getting more and more known,” said Murray, an investment consultant at Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. Institutional Investment & Fiduciary Services in Washington, D.C. “People have seen me out in the community. I think all that hard work from previous races is just starting to pay off.”

His journey from a first-grader in student government to an intern with former county Councilman Tom Dernoga has enlightened his plans for the school system, he said.

“Prince George’s County Public Schools afforded me a ton of opportunities and molded me into the person that I am today,” Murray said. “We need to equip our students with basic financial knowledge, so that when they go into the real world, they’re able to make smart decisions about loans and credit cards and avoid debt. No matter what profession you go into, those skills will be valuable.”

Specialty programs in schools open up more possibilities for students, Murray said, including science and technology, language immersion or vocational programs. Students can shape their passions around the programs and further explore that interest in the college setting, he said.

Murray said his goals begin with restoring public trust in Prince George’s County schools. With the school system’s $2 million budget for fiscal year 2017, Murray said he plans to put finances toward the best possible use, while introducing partnerships with surrounding businesses and organizations to bring in additional dollars.

“I’m also really looking forward to making the school system work for our community, whether that’s connecting someone with the right person, getting students the services they need or attending a PTA meeting,” Murray said. “Part of being a school board member is that you get tons of emails and calls from parents, teachers and principals who need to get things done. I’m going to make sure that I’m accessible and help people get the best education for their children.”

Via Baltimore sun

We plan to interview each of the Board of Education candidates and share their responses before the election day. Stay tuned.

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Prince George’s County Board of Education District 8 candidates

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Prince George’s County Board of Education District 5 candidates

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Prince George’s County Board of Education District 7 candidates

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Prince George’s County Board of Education District 4 candidates
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25 Things Successful Teachers Do Differently

25ficby Julie DuNeen, Sketch Note

25 Things Successful Teachers Do Differently

If you ask a student what makes him or her successful in school, you probably won’t hear about some fantastic new book or video lecture series. Most likely you will hear something like, “It was all Mr. Jones. He just never gave up on me.”

What students take away from a successful education usually centers on a personal connection with a teacher who instilled passion and inspiration for their subject. It’s difficult to measure success, and in the world of academia, educators are continually re-evaluating how to quantify learning. But the first and most important question to ask is:

Are teachers reaching their students? Here are 25 things successful educators do differently.

1. Successful teachers have clear objectives

How do you know if you are driving the right way when you are traveling somewhere new? You use the road signs and a map (although nowadays it might be SIRI or a GPS). In the world of education, your objectives for your students act as road signs to your destination. Your plan is the map. Making a plan does not suggest a lack of creativity in your curriculum but rather, gives creativity a framework in which to flourish.

2. Successful teachers have a sense of purpose

We can’t all be blessed with “epic” workdays all the time. Sometimes, life is just mundane and tedious. Teachers with a sense of purpose that are able to see the big picture can ride above the hard and boring days because their eye is on something further down the road.

3. Successful teachers are able to live without immediate feedback

There is nothing worse than sweating over a lesson plan only to have your students walk out of class without so much as a smile or a, “Great job teach!” It’s hard to give 100% and not see immediate results. Teachers who rely on that instant gratification will get burned out and disillusioned. Learning, relationships, and education are a messy endeavor, much like nurturing a garden. It takes time, and some dirt, to grow.

4. Successful teachers know when to listen to students and when to ignore them

Right on the heels of the above tip is the concept of discernment with student feedback. A teacher who never listens to his/her students will ultimately fail. A teacher who always listens to his/her students will ultimately fail. It is no simple endeavor to know when to listen and adapt, and when to say, “No- we’re going this way because I am the teacher and I see the long term picture.”

5. Successful teachers have a positive attitude

Negative energy zaps creativity and it makes a nice breeding ground for fear of failure. Good teachers have an upbeat mood, a sense of vitality and energy, and see past momentary setbacks to the end goal. Positivity breeds creativity.

6. Successful teachers expect their students to succeed

This concept is similar for parents as well. Students need someone to believe in them. They need a wiser and older person to put stock in their abilities. Set the bar high and then create an environment where it’s okay to fail. This will motivate your students to keep trying until they reach the expectation you’ve set for them.

7. Successful teachers have a sense of humor

Humor and wit make a lasting impression. It reduces stress and frustration, and gives people a chance to look at their circumstances from another point of view. If you interviewed 1000 students about their favorite teacher, I’ll bet 95% of them were hysterical.

8. Successful teachers use praise authentically

Students need encouragement yes, but real encouragement. It does no good to praise their work when you know it is only 50% of what they are capable of. You don’t want to create an environment where there is no praise or recognition; you want to create one where the praise that you offer is valuable BECAUSE you use it judiciously.

9. Successful teachers know how to take risks

There is a wise saying that reads, “Those who go just a little bit too far are the ones who know just how far one can go.” Risk-taking is a part of the successful formula. Your students need to see you try new things in the classroom and they will watch closely how you handle failure in your risk-taking. This is as important as what you are teaching.

10. Successful teachers are consistent

Consistency is not to be confused with “stuck.” Consistency means that you do what you say you will do, you don’t change your rules based on your mood, and your students can rely on you when they are in need. Teachers who are stuck in their outdated methods may boast consistency, when in fact it is cleverly-masked stubbornness.

11. Successful teachers are reflective

In order to avoid becoming the stuck and stubborn teacher, successful educators take time to reflect on their methods, their delivery, and the way they connect with their students. Reflection is necessary to uncover those weaknesses that can be strengthened with a bit of resolve and understanding.

12. Successful teachers seek out mentors of their own

Reflective teachers can easily get disheartened if they don’t have someone a bit older and wiser offering support. You are never too old or wise for a mentor. Mentors can be that voice that says, “Yes your reflections are correct,” or “No, you are off because….” and provide you with a different perspective.

13. Successful teachers communicate with parents

Collaboration between parents and teachers is absolutely crucial to a student’s success. Create an open path of communication so parents can come to you with concerns and you can do the same. When a teacher and parents present a united front, there is a lower chance that your student will fall through the cracks.

14. Successful teachers enjoy their work

It is easy to spot a teacher who loves their work. They seem to emanate contagious energy. Even if it on a subject like advanced calculus, the subject comes alive. If you don’t love your work or your subject, it will come through in your teaching. Try to figure out why you feel so unmotivated and uninspired. It might have nothing to do with the subject, but your expectations. Adjust them a bit and you might find your love of teaching come flooding back.

15. Successful teachers adapt to student needs

Classrooms are like an ever-evolving dynamic organism. Depending on the day, the attendance roster, and the phase of the moon, you might have to change up your plans or your schedule to accommodate your students. As they grow and change, your methods might have to as well. If your goal is to promote a curriculum or method, it will feel like a personal insult when you have to modify it. Make connecting with your student your goal and you’ll have no trouble changing it up as time moves on.

16. Successful teachers welcome change in the classroom

This relates to the above tip, but in a slightly different way. Have you ever been so bored with your house or your bedroom, only to rearrange it and have it feel like a new room? Change ignites the brain with excitement and adventure. Change your classroom to keep your students on their toes. Simple changes like rearranging desks and routines can breathe new life in the middle of a long year.

17. Successful teachers take time to explore new tools

With the advance of technology, there are fresh new resources and tools that can add great functionality to your classroom and curriculum. There is no doubt that the students you are teaching (far younger than you) probably already use technologies you haven’t tapped into yet. Don’t be afraid to push for technology in the classroom. It is often an underfunded area but in this current world and climate, your students will be growing up in a world where technology is everywhere. Give them a headstart and use technology in your classroom.

18. Successful teachers give their students emotional support

There are days when your students will need your emotional support more than a piece of information. Connecting to your students on an emotional level makes it more likely that they will listen to your counsel and take your advice to heart. Students need mentors as much as they need teachers.

19. Successful teachers are comfortable with the unknown

It’s difficult to teach in an environment where you don’t know the future of your classroom budget, the involvement of your student’s parents, or the outcome of all your hard work. On a more philosophical level, educators who teach the higher grades are tasked with teaching students principles that have a lot of unknowns (i.e. physics). How comfortable are you with not having all the answers? Good teachers are able to function without everything tied up neatly in a bow.

20. Successful teachers are not threatened by parent advocacy

Unfortunately, parents and teachers are sometimes threatened by one another. A teacher who is insecure will see parent advocacy as a threat. While there are plenty of over-involved helicopter parents waiting to point out a teacher’s mistakes, most parents just want what’s best for their child. Successful educators are confident in their abilities and not threatened when parents want to get into the classroom and make their opinions known. Good teachers also know they don’t have to follow what the parent recommends!

21. Successful teachers bring fun into the classroom

Don’t be too serious. Some days, “fun” should be the goal. When students feel and see your humanness, it builds a foundation of trust and respect. Fun and educational aren’t mutually exclusive either. Using humor can make even the most mundane topic more interesting.

22. Successful teachers teach holistically

Learning does not happen in a vacuum. Depression, anxiety, and mental stress have a severe impact on the educational process. It’s crucial that educators (and the educational model) take the whole person into account. You can have the funniest and most innovative lesson on algebra, but if your student has just been told his parents are getting a divorce, you will not reach him.

23. Successful teachers never stop learning

Good teachers find time in their schedule to learn themselves. Not only does it help bolster your knowledge in a certain subject matter, it also puts you in the position of student. This gives you a perspective about the learning process that you can easily forget when you’re always in teaching mode.

24. Successful teachers break out of the box

It may be a self-made box. “Oh I could never do that,” you say to yourself. Perhaps you promised you’d never become the teacher who would let students grade each other (maybe you had a bad experience as a kid). Sometimes the biggest obstacle to growth is us. Have you built a box around your teaching methods? Good teachers know when it’s time to break out of it.

25. Successful teachers are masters of their subject

Good teachers need to know their craft. In addition to the methodology of “teaching”, you need to master your subject area. Learn, learn, and never stop learning. Successful educators stay curious.

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Georgia: Governor Nathan Deal to African-American Ministers: “Trust Me.”

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Governor Nathan Deal of Georgia

Governor Nathan Deal of Georgia is pushing a constitutional amendment to allow the state to take over low-scoring public schools. He calls it an “opportunity school district” and points to New Orleans and the Tennessee Achievement School Districts as models. He brought called together a group of African-American ministers and asked for their support.

Here is the response from one of the attendees, who knew that neither New Orleans or the Tennessee ASD had helped the neediest students. Governor Deal couldn’t answer his questions, because the ALEC model legislation doesn’t explain why cessation of democracy helps schools or what to do after privatizing the schools and giving them to corporations.

Here is the report by Rev. Chester Ellis:

Governor’s Ministers Summoning Meeting was a School Takeover Sales Pitch
By Rev. Chester Ellis 912-257-2394
Pastor of St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church in Savannah, Georgia

Governor Nathan Deal is working hard to sell the voters on what he calls an Opportunity School District. But this is an opportunity that Georgia should not take.

Recently, The Governor made a pitch to twenty-nine African American ministers in the basement of the mansion. No media was present. But I was one of those ministers.

If Amendment One was about education and opportunity for our communities and children, we could at least hold a logical discussion about evidence-based solutions. As a retired educator and community activist, it is very clear to me that his Opportunity School District is not about education or the community. He has no plan or roadmap to improve schools.

Gov. Deal was looking for our support. He stated, “I need your help.” But we left with more questions than we had answers. It truly is a takeover, and one whose extent is clear to very few voters.

I was disappointed. I thought the Governor would be able to lay out his plan in detail to us. But, what I got from the Governor is he’s making it up as he goes. There’s really no plan. At best, it was guesswork.

Bishop Marvin L. Winans, who has a charter school in Detroit, was the first to speak to us. Brother Winans is a minister and an award winning Gospel singer. He does not live in Georgia. Marvin talked about why he had established his school in Detroit and why he thought it was a good idea that the Governor was willing to do something to help failing schools. But we didn’t have a chance to dialog with him, ask questions or shed light on anything here in Georgia for him. He left for a concert, almost as quickly as he appeared!

Afterwards, the Governor followed with a spiel about why he thought he needed to take over the schools and why the Black clergymen needed to be in support of Amendment 1, The Opportunity School District. He then opened the session up for questions.

I asked him, what is the student to teacher ratio per class of all the schools on your list for takeover? He said he did not have the answer to that question.

My rationale for asking that question was that research tells us ideal pupil to teacher ratio should be 18 to 1, and the further schools and classrooms go past that recommended ratio, the more they are setting students up for failure. Districts need resources to address that problem. The A plus Act of 2000 provided such resources. In fact, this Governor has taken more resources from our public schools. The governor added that he needed to do more research on that issue, so I invited him to do that and gave him some websites he could Google.

I also asked the Governor if all of the schools that are having trouble, as defined by him, are predominately African American schools. He replied, not so much, but that when they looked at schools that were failing they looked at schools that were in a cluster. And that the ministers summoned to the meeting were invited more for being in those identified clusters of schools.

One of my colleagues asked the Governor for the specifics of his Opportunity School District plan. Deal replied that he was using different models, and two of the models he mentioned were the Louisiana Recovery School District and the Tennessee Achievement School District models. Then the question was raised about both of those state’s backing away from the models because they failed to accomplish their achievement goals. In fact indicators prove that New Orleans is worse off now The Governor replied, “We are going to look at what they did wrong, and correct their mistakes so that ours will be right. You know, we have to do something, we are willing to try this and then if it doesn’t work, we are willing to work on what doesn’t work and straighten it out.” The problem with the Governor’s logic is that he is asking the voters to change the state’s constitution. We can’t back up if the voters do that!

The Governor says OSD is a “plan in the works”. . So I urged the Governor to use Massachusetts as a model rather than one from Tennessee or Louisiana, which have both failed.

According to a recent article in Education Week, scholars at the Atlanta-based Southern Education Foundation and Philadelphia-based Research in Action organization found that some states are proposing to mimic “opportunity school district” takeover models despite evidence that prototypes of these models have gone awry. The esteemed Education Week reports that imitating these models are not an appropriate prescription for providing support for schools that needs it.

Massachusetts put their plan in place with on the ground, in the classrooms education practitioners. . Legislators met with them and applied the educator’s advice and professional know how. They set out on a course working together and didn’t change the course until they got the results they were striving for. They are now one of the celebrated and better school systems in the country. I asked the Governor, why didn’t his planners and plans look at that type of successful model?

He replied, “It’s because of demographics.” I responded that clearly Massachusetts doesn’t look like Georgia but education isn’t rocket science …..It requires an understanding of what you are working with. I also referenced just one of many of our state’s successful public school model, Woodville Thompkins High School in Savannah. I’m a graduate of that school and I have worked since 2006 with that school and the community. As a result it is an award winning school in many disciplines.

For the last two years, Woodville-Tompkins Technical and Career High School has had a 100 percent Graduation rate. They have also been cited as being one of the top 30 programs worldwide in Robotics. There is a way to turn schools around and it doesn’t require a Constitutional Amendment. I don’t see the need. It takes a little elbow grease and total involvement from parents, community and legislators to sustain evidence based solutions and models that are already working.

I don’t buy the Governor’s program or plans. He’s selling the public on a quick fix. I think the Governor has some friends who see education as a carte blanche card; something they can make money off of. It’s about the money, not about the children. The legislation doesn’t even define what a failing school is. The Governor has spent little or no time educating the public on the thirteen pages that compose all of the little devils in his plan per Senate Bill 133. He is spending lots of time though, selling his plan.

The Governor is a lame duck, yet he’s asking citizens to trust him blindly and give him all the power over their schools, public property, pocketbooks and children by changing the constitution.

I thanked the Governor for inviting me, but I told him before I left that there are too many uncertainties and too many unanswered questions to go before my congregation and say we should support this. I’m not comfortable with the Governor’s answers or his solutions. His Opportunity School District has no facts and no plans to improve schools. This is an opportunity that citizens can’t afford to take. It is all about the money. It’s just that simple.

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Rev. Chester Ellis

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