Category Archives: New Board members

Ads appear on Prince George’s County school system Web site.

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Visitors to the Prince George’s County school system’s Web site can learn about charter school applications, how to prevent and report bullying, and the implementation of new academic standards. But they also are likely to find advertisements for furniture stores and clothing stores, online university programs and insurance companies.

The ads — on the public school system’s main Web site — are placed by a Google AdSense program and are accompanied by a disclaimer that “Prince George’s County Public Schools does not endorse any messages, products or services presented in the ads below.” >>> Read More Washington Post

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OPINION

The way this article is written appears like Prince George’s County Public schools (PGCPS) Management is doing the right thing. However, a closer scrutiny reveals that, accountability and transparency initiatives started in PGCPS almost two years ago by the Maryland legislature are yet to be enforced. (Read more). Nevertheless,  after talking to several board members, they will tell you that, they themselves do not know what happens to the money once it comes in. As non profit organization, PGCPS which receives public funding should know better including the politicians involved irrespective of their rank.  Furthermore, considered they are on a governmental website, there should be full accounting to the public. We are talking of children money here and money being raised in the name of children only to disappear in thin air. Where is the common decency?

There is growing recognition both among governments, donors and civil society that citizens and communities have an important role to play with regard to enhancing accountability of public officials, reducing corruption and leakage of funds and improving public service delivery. As a result, Social Accountability has become an attractive approach to both the public sector and civil society for improving governance processes, service delivery outcomes, and improving resource allocation decisions. Over the last decade, numerous examples have emerged that demonstrate how citizens can make their voice heard and effectively engage in making the public sector more responsive and accountable. Scales of responsibility apply to all citizens and all institutions including all arms of the government which cannot escape accountability. Those complaining about the government  and civil society pointing out wrongs in PGCPS and Maryland Education system should read the Bible and the Constitution as well to understand what responsibility is all about.

Accountability is defined as the obligation of power-holders to account for or take responsibility for their actions. Power-holders refers to those who hold political, financial or other forms of power and include officials in government, private corporations, international financial institutions and civil society organizations (CSOs).

There might be a glimmer of hope that our society is changing and maturing somewhat. However, we are yet to see the results here in PGCPS District. And if we are able to extend compassion and mercy to fellow United States citizens, we should go one step further and extend it to non-US citizens, in particular migrant workers from other countries who perform arduous and dirty work that many Americans shun.

Civility must grow as society grows. It must become highly mobile and more interactive, be it via the media or through daily personal contact. We must show proper accountability even of the money collected through public websites like in PGCPS.

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

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Dr. Maxwell (pictured above) was appointed to right wrongs but very little appears done to fix issues.

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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” and manipulation during her tenure. Both leaders need to resign to create room for new leadership.

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Dr. Lillian Lowery Embattled State Superintendent is currently presiding over deep-seated corruption in Maryland school system. She has demonstrated a culture of discrimination and racism while on the job.

Figure 1 – Click here to see benefits of social accountability —->>>Figure 1

Figure 2 – Click here to see the Accountability Framework —->>> Figure 2

Figure 3 – Critical Factors for Social Accountability – See below.

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Let’s face it. Criticism has…

…become a dirty word.

CRITICISM. Magnifying glass over different association terms.

Pick up any thesaurus and you’ll find “criticism” in the company of “nit-picking, objection, disapproval, and objection.”

The truth is criticism doesn’t have to be a dirty word.

In the last several months now, we have given perspectives on Prince George’s county public schools whenever we can. This is in line with democratic ideals. A democracy is a government of the people, for the people and by the people. Thus, the public opinion is an important aspect. The people in turn could hold the government accountable and change it, if they knew what they were doing is wrong. Our voice through the social media and this blog mobilized lawmakers and yielded HB1107.

In this regard, there is a need to inform the people of issues of concern around them so that there are proper checks and balances on the government of the day especially within the county and the Maryland state Board of Education. Media plays a vital role in this area and that is why we must keep advocating for the people through constructive criticism. So far there are several things of concern and we will be outlining our views shortly after our sincerity agenda to transform the county was hijacked by dark forces. The dark forces trying to take over our reform agenda here in PG county are on a revenge mission (Keep checking our concerns here in our blog). It is important to look at our work and appreciate our perspectives. We are not going to rest until proper changes are in place through criticism. This is what makes democracy work!

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Dr. Lillian M. Lowery Maryland State Superintendent  of schools has been criticized for showing very poor leadership skills in various ways and received an F grade for Common Core meetings so far.

In a broader context, criticism is an assessment, review or observation that can even be in the form of appreciation. Nobody seems to ever talk about that one: When the criticism is good, we don’t call it criticism, we call it approval. We call it praise. We call it being appreciated.

And who doesn’t enjoy sincere appreciation for their work?

Anyways, for constructive criticism to occur three things have to happen: There should be interest on the part of the criticizer and the criticized, there should be bonding and trust that the discussion is for the right reasons, and the criticism should be presented as a discussion.

When the criticism meets these three criteria, there is a strong foundation for learning to occur, and for both members to benefit from honest criticism.

Here are the three advantages to constructive criticism:

Gives New Perspective & Valuable Insight

When someone invites our criticism, we have the opportunity to help that person by giving our perspective or insight into the situation.

For example, say someone asks us to check out an article they’ve written to get our opinion. Chances are the person really wants to know what we think so that they can make it the best it can be.

Our objective reading of the article can give the person valuable insight into how they can improve the article. If they weigh the importance or usefulness of the criticism, they can rewrite or revise the article to make it better

Thus, the writer and article become more valuable due to the constructive criticism.

Here’s the real kicker: different people have different perspectives and knowledge about the way the world works. Each person brings a unique perspective to the table. If we listen and try to understand their perspective, we can apply that perspective to our work to make it better.

Think about it. Say someone wants to improve the design on their website. Who could provide beneficial criticism? Web designers? Regular readers? Casual readers?

Everyone provides a unique perspective.

Furthers Bonding and Trust

If we’re able to give our honest opinion on something, and the other person finds it valuable, we can increase our bonding and trust with that person.

Giving constructive criticism shows the other person that we value his or her work. The result is an increased level of respect between us and the other person.

If we’re lucky enough to have really cool friends that reciprocate coolness, they will provide their valuable perspective to us.

Let’s say that we help our friend out by reviewing his article and improving the spelling and grammar so people can read it easier.

He says, “Wow, that sure is swell. I can’t believe I have such knowledgeable and cool friends willing to help me.”

So when we want to make sure one of our articles is near perfect, we can send it on to our friend and ask him for his honest opinion.

More than likely, he’ll return the favor to help us out.

As Jim Rohn said, “Giving is better than receiving because giving starts the receiving process.”

If we give our valuable perspective, others might be inclined to return the favor.

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Maryland State Board of Education President Dr. Charlene Dukes shown here has demonstrated corrupt leadership and continues “a culture of pay to play” and manipulation.

No Hurt Pride or Resentment

So, when we offer even the slightest disapproval of others or their work without them inviting us to, we are basically asking for them to hate us.

Hans Selye said, “As much as we thirst for approval, we dread condemnation.”

Constructive criticism is different in that we only give it when we’re invited to give it. We give constructive criticism to people that we know and trust, and the people we are criticizing know our true intentions. We present constructive criticism as a discussion, and that our viewpoint is only one perspective and isn’t necessarily fact.

As well, constructive criticism is more about giving an overall view of things: what’s going well, what could be improved upon, etc.

In return, the people we criticize are thankful that we’ve provided valuable feedback to improve themselves or their work.

Your turn: In what situations do you think constructive criticism could be particularly helpful? How do we avoid people getting angry with us for offering feedback? When is it not appropriate to give criticism?

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Weak student achievement in PGCPS…

…new academic standards concern Pr. George’s school board.

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By , Updated: Friday, October 11, 6:47 PM

Only half of students who graduated from Prince George’s County’s public high schools last year enrolled in college, and 90 percent of the graduates in community college are taking remedial classes in math and reading, according to data shared with the county’s Board of Education on Thursday during a presentation on student achievement, secondary-school changes and the new academic standards.

In the 2012-13 school year, more than a fifth of the county’s freshmen had to repeat ninth grade, the data showed, and 40 percent of second-graders did not read at or above grade level.“College and career readiness is built on a foundation that goes all the way back to pre-kindergarten,” said A. Duane Arbogast, the chief academic officer, told the board.After Arbogast’s presentation, board members spent more than an hour asking about professional development for teachers, parental engagement and the implementation of Common Core, a new national curriculum being implemented in most states.>>> Read More Washington Post  >>> Read more about Common core in Maryland

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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.

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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Management analyst – Lyn J. Mundey tapped to fill BOE vacancy.

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Ms. Lyn J. Mundey

Reform Sasscer Movement “RSM” has learned and pleased that County Executive Baker filled the vacancy on the Board of Education for District 7 previously held by Board member Carlletta Fellows who resigned in June 2013. We look forward to working with Ms. Mundey to ensure accountability and transparency initiatives are implemented fully and  the county  meets the needs of the students, parents and teachers in District 7.

Above all, we look forward to engaging in the process with the County Executive Rushern Baker and the Board members as the County Executive Baker prepares to fill another vacancy on the Board created by the resignation of Donna Hathaway Beck, of District 9.

Under House Bill 1107, passed by the Maryland General Assembly last spring, the Prince George’s County executive has the authority to make an appointment to a vacant seat for the remainder of the term, should a seat become vacant.

Mundey is a 2000 graduate of Bowie High School, has a daughter in the seventh grade at Benjamin D. Foulois Creative and Performing Arts Academy in Suitland and is an active member of the school’s PTA.

Baker education adviser Mr. Christian Rhodes was quoted as saying, Ms. Mundey brings a unique perspective to the board.

“Because of her multiple connections to the school system, first as an alumna and now as a parent, tracking her daughter as she’s moved up through the school system, she’s able to see the school system from a very different perspective,” Mr. Christian Rhodes said.

Mundey has a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Maryland, College Park, and a master’s of business administration degree from Strayer University. She is employed as a management analyst at the U.S. Government Accountability Office, overseeing the agency’s operating policies and privacy program. (Read more Press release, Gazette)

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