Category Archives: 2014

Tracy Allison civil trial moved to September 16, 2014.

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The civil case filed by Tracy Allison against Prince George’s County public schools has been postponed from a September 9th, 2014 date to September 16th, 2014.

The trial will now begin Tuesday, September 16, 2014 and conclude by the week of September 23, 2014.

U.S. District Judge Honorable Peter J. Messitte issued the new trial schedule recently. (See attached Memorandum)

Ms. Tracy Allison who is African American woman, worked at Largo High school, alleges that she was racially harassed by Principal Angelique Simpson-Marcus of Largo High School, who is African American. On February 28, 2014, a federal jury, at the Greenbelt, MD federal courthouse, issued a verdict that means Prince George’s County Public Schools can be found liable under Title VI for race discrimination and retaliation. Specifically, the jury decided that Prince George’s County Public School received federal assistance, starting in 2009, which had the primary objective of providing employment. In 2009, PGCPS, which has an annual budget of approximately $1.7 billion, received $140 million in federal stimulus funds which it used to avert laying off hundreds of teachers and other school workers. >>> Read more

Tracy Allison legal team now consists of attorney Neil R Lebowitz, based in Downtown Columbia, Maryland.

Attorney Bryan Chapman who handled the first phase of the trial last year, is no longer in the case after mishandling several cases deliberately.

Superintendent William Hite Jr has since left the Prince George’s County school District.

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Maryland jury finds Prince George’s County school district liable.

Decorative Scales of Justice in the Courtroom

A Maryland jury at the Greenbelt Federal court found Prince George’s County school district liable for not doing much to protect employees’ jobs and for aggressive bullying by oppressive administrators within the county today Friday February 28, 2014. The verdict means that Prince George’s County Public Schools is liable under Title VI for race discrimination and retaliation.  In the process, the jury set a precedent with their verdict.

Prince George’s County Public Schools, the second largest school District in Maryland, was found answerable for bad behavior during the leadership of former Superintendent  William Hite Jr. The pupose of the Federal funding during the economic recovery was to preserve and create jobs and promote economic recovery.….However, the rules were violated willfully. Defendant PGCPS knew this aspects, furthermore other grants PGCPS received similarly were to provide employment as a primary objective. One such grant was the Teacher and Principal Training and Recruiting Fund. Specifically, the jury decided that Prince George’s County Public School received federal assistance involving several different grants starting in 2009, which had the primary objective of providing employment.  In 2009, PGCPS, which has a annual budget of approximately $1.7 billion, received $140 million in federal stimulus funds which it used to avert laying off hundreds of teachers and other school workers including IT Technicians, cafeteria workers, Bus drivers etc.

Nevertheless, because of corruption, PGCPS leadership led by Ms. Verjeana Jacobs and William Hite Jr E.Dd at the time violated Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. During the week long hearing in front of the Honorable Judge Peter J. Messitte, Prince George’s County Public schools invited three witnesses among them, Matt Stanski Previous Chief Financial Officer, and Duane Arbogast previous Chief Academic Officer at PGCPS who tried their best in answering the questions according to the witnesses.

The jury decision will now be seen as a victory for the victims involved in an aggressive effort to hold School Districts accountable for their role in the job crisis.

The cases now go to another jury for monetary damages of $5 million each beginning on April 1, 2014.

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Overview of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

Title VI, 42 U.S.C. § 2000d et seq., was enacted as part of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964. It prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, and national origin in programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance. As President John F. Kennedy said in 1963:

Simple justice requires that public funds, to which all taxpayers of all races [colors, and national origins] contribute, not be spent in any fashion which encourages, entrenches, subsidizes or results in racial [color or national origin] discrimination.

If a recipient of federal assistance is found to have discriminated and voluntary compliance cannot be achieved, the federal agency providing the assistance should either initiate fund termination proceedings or refer the matter to the Department of Justice for appropriate legal action. Aggrieved individuals may file administrative complaints with the federal agency that provides funds to a recipient, or the individuals may file suit for appropriate relief in federal court. In this case, Title VI itself prohibits intentional discrimination as demonstrated. However, most funding agencies have regulations implementing Title VI that prohibit recipient practices that have the effect of discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national originTitle VI allows relief for employment discrimination when “providing employment is a primary objective of the federal aid”. Venkatraman v. REI Systems, Inc., 417 F.3d 418, 421 (4th Cir. 2005); Trageser v. Libbie Rehabilitation Ctr., Inc., 590 F2d 87 (4thCir. 1978) (“…employment is a primary objective of the federal aid”). Title VI applies even if the plaintiff is not the ultimate beneficiary of federal financial assistance, such as, a student.

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Our Future Will Not Look Like Present.

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“The arrogance of success is to think that what we did yesterday is good enough for tomorrow.” ― William Pollard

Education is in a transition. We hear about it, read about it, and most of us live it daily. The transition is going in many different directions. They include Common Core, on-line assessment, big data analysis, new evaluation systems for teachers and administrators, and technology infusion, just to name a few.

With all of this change many would ask how broke is our educational system? The answer to this question involves too many variables and is too complex to answer in a blog post like this. It is also important to remember that, some of us are not a statistical expert in the field, nor do we have access to the data to offer a quantitative analysis and answer to the question.

However, what we can say is that we are in an educational transition that requires change. The above quote by William Pollard, from the 1800’s, clearly articulates feelings about our current state of education. We have experienced some successes in our educational system but we need to look ahead. We can no longer use the same techniques, ideas, and foundational structures to educate our students for the future. Here in Maryland for example, change is required within the Maryland State Board of Education and the way it conducts business with it’s partner organizations, staff, children and the general public.

The reason why we are advocating for change in governance structure as articulated before is that, selected board tend to be less willing to fight against the people who gave them those positions in the first place. Sometimes their loyalties are marshaled to the appointing authority such as the governor of the State or the person or persons who recommended them for the position. We want a State Board of Education in Maryland and other local school boards in the whole State to be more demanding and transparent. We want school boards that are demanding more because that is what is good for our children.

Our future will not look like our present!

In order to address an unknown future we need to think about the skills students need to learn now that will carry them into the future, no matter what that future looks like. As educators our students deserve to be introduced to, learn about, and master these skills before leaving high school:

  1. Reading and Writing – These will never become obsolete skills. But beyond basic reading and comprehension skills students need to be technical readers. They need to learn how to comprehend complex text and be able to write it too.
  2. Technology Integration – Our world is driven by technology. Everywhere you look there is a piece of technology running something in our lives. Students need to know how to properly integrate technology and the devices that run it so that they can be more productive and efficient. Many of us in the reform movement do not fully support the view that just because students were born into this era they know how to properly use technology. Within this integration students and adults need to learn to be Digital Citizens. Notice we didn’t say “good”. The expectation is that we use it positively for everyone’s benefit.
  3. Coding – We have seen graphs, charts and data that indicate the need for this skill in the work force far exceeds the number of people who can provide the skill. For those that have the skill the supply to demand ratio makes them the most wanted. Beyond that the skill of coding is a problem solving experience that all of our students need. It also involves math skills, which are as essential as reading and writing (therefore, we will not list math separately since it is included here). Giving students the ability to code will also teach the items listed in point number 2 above.
  4. Collaboration – Being able to collaborate with people is essential. Technology allows us to collaborate with people we have never met before or may never see again. The ability to work together and produce a product, take an idea to the next level or share ideas needs to be a part of daily learning for students. This is how social media has become so popular and the way many companies now do business. Let’s teach our students that collaboration goes beyond classroom projects and has real world applications that will help them be better citizens.
  5. Problem Solving – What are lessons in education and the events of the world we live in? They are a series of problems requiring solutions. Our students need the skills and cognitive abilities to solve problems. Simple problems become complex and complex problems become crisis. Giving our students experiences throughout their educational careers to develop this skill improves our society.
  6. Self-Reflection – A lost skill for many, self-reflection helps students look at who they are, and how their actions affect others. If we expect students to be collaborators and problem solvers then they need to be self-reflective. It’s essential that we look at how we interact with others, how others respond to us and how our actions either assist or hinder others.

Moving forward our educational system needs to change. We can not imagine the world in which our students will live and work. Therefore, we need to provide them the skills that will allow them to adapt to their environment. Just because how we taught yesterday worked doesn’t mean we can teach that way for tomorrow’s world.

Finally, Boards of Education like Maryland state Board of Education and other local boards in the state needs to change for the better and create accountability mechanism. It is essential that our administrators inspire and find methods that demonstrate the end results are worth the work. It is just as important that our school boards are both knowledgeable and supportive. And that requires training…

Old v New Learning

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Pr. George’s County school cancels immigration-themed skit amid objections

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A classroom skit that third-graders were preparing to present in a Prince George’s County elementary school was canceled after a parent alerted school officials to material she believed was offensive to immigrants.

The short skit — titled “The Uninvited Guest” — tells a story about Uncle Sam and the people who are welcome at a party in his “Country Haven.” In a nod to the nation’s immigration debate, guests who have lived in the country all their lives and those who have visas are invited to attend, but the Uncle Sam character makes it clear that those who do not have visas — those who “sneak into” the party — are not welcome and must leave. >>>Read more Washington Post

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Maryland given federal waiver,

…won’t have to double test students

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Maryland was given a waiver from the U.S. Department of Education on Friday  that will allow them to avoid double testing several thousand students who are  piloting a new test this spring that is tied to the Common Core.

Under federal law, all students in grades three through eight are to be  tested annually in math and reading. The federal government is allowing that law  to be waived for the students who take the pilot test, meaning they will not  also have to take Maryland’s state assessments.

However, there are conditions attached to the waiver. Read more MSDE

Read more: http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/education/blog/bal-maryland-wont-have-to-double-test-students-20140214,0,2567586.story#ixzz2tQCsdgEk

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Happy Valentine’s

Saint Valentine’s Day, commonly known as Valentine’s Day, or the Feast of Saint Valentine, is observed on February 14 each year. It is celebrated in many countries around the world, although it remains a working day in most of them.

The day was first associated with romantic love in the circle of Geoffrey Chaucer in the High Middle Ages, when the tradition of courtly love flourished. By the 15th century, it had evolved into an occasion in which lovers expressed their love for each other by presenting flowers, offering confectionery, and sending greeting cards (known as “valentines”). Valentine’s Day symbols that are used today include the heart-shaped outline, doves, and the figure of the winged Cupid. Since the 19th century, handwritten valentines have given way to mass-produced greeting cards.

Here are beautiful happy hug day images for every day life. Enjoy the day!

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Reform Sasscer Movement for Prince George’s County wishes everyone a Happy Valentine’s day.

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