Category Archives: New County CEO

PGCPS loses $1.4 million…

…for school construction.

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CROSSLAND AND POTOMAC HIGH SHOOLS AMONG THE SCHOOLS AFFECTED.

By , Published: September 25

The Prince George’s County school system was forced to return $1.4 million in state funds this year after it failed to approve school construction contracts within a two-year deadline.

The county lost the funding in May after it failed to sign agreements with contractors to handle upgrades to science classrooms at Potomac and Crossland high schools, according to David Lever, executive director of the Maryland Interagency Committee on School Construction, which oversees school projects in the state. Lever said it is unusual for a school system to miss such a deadline and lose funding. >>>Read more Washington Post

ANALYSIS

“The county lost the funding in May after it failed to sign agreements with contractors to handle upgrades to science classrooms at Potomac and Crossland high schools.”  Both schools are in District 8 which is part of southern Maryland.

$1.4 million dollars is a great deal of money lost for schools which need help. This lose of money meant for PGCPS should be a concern for every Prince George’s County citizen.

Although there were Superintendent leadership challenges, the Board of Education Member Mr. Edward Burroughs III  for this district remained the same and should have had a way more watchful eye on this funding. We are very disappointed with what happened here. In the next few weeks, we will try and find answers for our followers and we should be reporting back soon in this blog.

Problems continue to rigor in PGCPS and some of the changes we advocated for have not been enacted as yet. PGCPS leadership needs to revisit our top priorities and fix the issues heads on. Personnel at Sasscer mentioned in our blog and connected with the old regime for advancing corruption needs to step aside including the Thatcher law firm. We are watching!

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State Super has Md parent arrested…

… at Common Core forumparent, Parent becomes cause celebre.

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Last week in Maryland a parent was arrested and charged with second degree assault on a police officer after speaking out at a town hall meeting organized by the local education board and Maryland State Superintendent Dr. Lillian M. Lowery.  Like most town hall forums, this meeting was a sham, where the officials would only answer pre-selected, politically correct answers that they approved of. Questions from the audience of about 160 people, which consisted of parents, PTA members, teachers, and school administrators, were submitted on cards prior to and during the 1-1/2 hour meeting for the Q&A period which lasted about 40 minutes.

The meeting was about a new style of curriculum that is being implemented at public schools called “common core”.  Many critics have accused this new curriculum of dumbing down the material, which would go along with the progression that we have seen over the past several generations.

Robert Small, age 46, was one of the only parents with the courage to speak up, despite the fact that many other parents cheered him on.

“Look, I am being manhandled and shut down because I asked inconvenient questions,” Small said. “Why won’t they allow an open forum where there can be a debate? We are told to sit there and be lectured to about how great common core is.”

As he was being taken out, Small said, We’re sick of this. This is not a CNN political game. This is a public town hall… Listen, don’t stand for this. You’re sitting here like cattle. You have questions.  Confront them.They don’t want to do it in public….Parents, you need to question these people….Do the research,.Then he said, “Is this America?”  Research on common core can be found >>here<<

Mr. Small was arrested after being removed from the auditorium and charged with second degree assault of a police officer and a second charge of disrupting a school function.

The video clearly shows that, if anyone was aggressive, it was the security guard, not Mr. Small. What may have happened out in the hall however, is unknown.

In the second video clip (click here), you can hear multiple parents call out how their question was not read and they were ignored.

There will be one more out of four Common Core meetings hosted by county school boards in Maryland.  This one is on October 1 in Prince George’s County.  Click here for more info.

Watch the video <<here>>

ANALYSIS

Proponents of the standards are still struggling to explain the initiative to parents, many of whom say they’ve never even heard of Common Core.  Arguments for and against the new standards have had little impact on public opinion because, according to a Gallup survey of public schools, 62 percent of Americans have never heard of the Common Core. With the debate now shifting to the alignment of high-stakes tests to the Common Core Standards, people on both sides of the issue agree that the battle for the hearts and minds of parents will be crucial.

As you have seen in the video the questioning from Mr. Small was for the better of the community. However, he was cut short and forcefully removed plus charged with criminal offense. There was no need for leadership to act that way. The Maryland State Board of Education (MSBE) is out of control and it is accountable to no one in the State.  What has really gotten stuck in our craws most has been the imperial, patronizing manner in which the Maryland State Board of Education (MSBE) leadership has been conducting its business. Superintendent Lillian M. Lowery arrived more than one (1) year ago spouting transparency and community engagement, but what we’ve mostly gotten has been something far less. Maryland State Board of Education (MSBE) President Dr. Charlene Dukes and the MSBE set the stage by surreptitiously hiring full time staff members to lobby the state Legislature to increase the power of the MSBE to impose working conditions to cover their own diabolical acts because they are not elected but selected. So far they have succeeded and this trend must be reversed.

The MSBE and President Charlene Duke’s leadership and their cohorts are like a junta ruling by fiat, disconnected from the community denizens. They are not elected by anyone and aren’t fooling everybody with their placating, after-the-fact patchwork rationales that diametrically contradict their own actions. The only transparency that has come to light is that they think that teachers, parents and the public are that gullible, or just not as smart as a third-grader. In the process, they appear disingenuous and are only losing credibility and fomenting distrust.

The person who should have been charged in the above video was the security guard. He had no right to be pushing the speaker. Also, he was getting in his face like a typical thug who wanted to fight. The parents whose rights are violated like this should take a stand and sue them for violating the law. If we do not start standing up to these people, they will assume more and more power. Tax payer dollars made that meeting public. People can leave if they are bothered by his questions.

The hearings have been taking place been between 7pm- 8:30pm as indicated below in the past schedule. A word of  caution though, the meetings may not be teacher-friendly, but we certainly hope for the presence of retired teachers and other professionals to turn out in the last meeting on October 1, 2013.

If you want change to happen, stay engaged with the Maryland State Board of Education system and ask tough questions. Elected officials definitely needs to get involved and demand changes concerning transparency and accountability initiatives in the State level. As seen here in Prince George’s County, corruption is the order of the day in the State level and involves money meant to help the children but has been directed elsewhere. Maryland State Board of Education is the mother ship of corruption and discrimination. Parents and Elected officials must create accountability mechanism and demand tough changes to roll back the trend.  For those who missed their chance, the October 1, 2013 meeting at Charles H. Flowers High School in Prince George’s County is the last one, here has been the schedule:

Easton High School in Talbot County on Sept. 10.

Forums will also be held  Sept. 16 at South Hagerstown High School in Washington County

Sept. 19 at Ridge Ruxton School in Baltimore County.

The final discussion will be held for the Washington DC region on October 1, 2013 at Charles H. Flowers High School in Prince George’s County.

Read more >>>> Examiner >> Washington post

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Dr. Lillian M. Lowery Maryland State Superintendent  of schools has shown very poor leadership skills and received an F grade for Common Core meetings so far.

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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.

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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Open Letter to Mr. Rushern Baker…

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

Rushern Baker - Appears to be driving corruption to new heights

RUSHERN L. BAKER III, County Executive

Office of County Executive

County Administration Building, Room 5032

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

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Dear Mr. Baker,

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

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

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

Sincerely,

Reform Sasscer Movement for Prince George’s County

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Hispanic leaders upset over representation…

… demand better representation in Pr. George’s County as part of Change Management for the big pie.

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Del. Joseline Pena-Melnyk

Upset that there are no Latino members on the newly reconstituted Prince George’s County Board of Education, some Hispanic leaders have demanded that the county devise a plan to increase the number of Hispanics considered for board appointments and county jobs.

Del. Joseline Pena-Melnyk (D-Prince George’s) said Hispanic leaders have asked Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D) to create a task force to examine whether Hispanics — who make up more than 16 percent of the county’s population and about 25 percent of the school population — are properly represented in the county government and the school system. The task force also would offer recommendations on how to boost the numbers. (Read more Washington post, ~> The sentinel

On the same token, African leaders are requesting County Executive Rushern Baker to consider appointing a few Africans in top positions in the county as part of change management. If you look at the numbers based on the current immigration trends and the students in the schools, Latinos and African students are very high. In this regard, administrators and staff from these groups needs to be considered as part of transformation management to help create a great future for everyone.

“We’ve got to be more competitive in the marketplace by embracing other groups. ” a concerned parent said recently. “It’s mission critical.”

“The community has to have a voice and feel listened to by all concerned. That’s why Latino, African  Communities in PG County needs to be listened to,” Another parent said. “Large school systems, because of their size, feel unfriendly, and we need to work hard against that.”

We still have an achievement gap, and economically disadvantaged students are the most significant group and our greatest challenge,” another parent said recently.  “We should make that a priority as we move forward into the future.”

“It’s unfortunate that the dynamic of the debate like advocating for other groups within the community pits school leaders against advocacy groups. We have to own some of that,” one county staffer said. “We can never forget that we’re about serving young people and what’s best for them. We can never lose sight of the children in all what we do. Besides, this debate is not about who is here illegally or not. It’s about looking out for what is best for the county unto the future. If we can demand the same of the white people, we should demand the same of each other as minorities in a civil way in order to fight discrimination within the county.

“By educating PG County citizens and American taxpayers about PG County’s long and well-documented history of rewarding failure, we hope to enlist citizen’s help in our quest to end the culture of complacency that is contributing to many of the county’s most serious problems and especially within the schools.”

What we should not miss out are the challenges facing PG County citizens, be it in Largo, Bowie, Capital Heights et al. All the people of PG County want to see is improvement in their personal safety and security, they want their children to access affordable and quality education, and want to live a descent life which embraces diversity as opposed to abject poverty in which the majority live today in isolation.

Yet politicians are only divided when it is time for elections, when their political life is under threat. Once they surmount election hurdles, they unite and vigorously wage fierce battles to fight for their self-interests, emoluments or entitlements.

Paradoxically, this is where the behavior of a politician and a common citizen is at crossroads. The common aspiration of all PG County citizen is to have a prosperous county.  It is on this premise that the Maryland legislature overwhelmingly voted in support of the  HB1107 which sadly is now the center of controversy as some groups attempts to find its true platform in the new legal environment.

Unlike politicians, ordinary citizens are ever divided in matters nation building.

You cannot be mistaken; the PG government is a government managing transition. County Executive Rushern Baker and his cabinet must know they are at a historical high point, overseeing PG County Government moving into the future.

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.

A weak corporate sector cannot alone drive the county or the national agenda. County governments and private university owners are not going to build and equip excellent engineering and medical schools without proper balance. As the county gets consumed by the frenzied competition on who will commit more resources to the county, the ability of the national government to keep its promise of husbanding transition to a medium income economy starts ringing hollow. On this note, we must play our parts well and demand proper changes from our unions and other players. Success can not come if our institutions are used by some of our leaders for selfish motives.

Successful change management is more likely to occur if the following are included:

  1. Benefits management and realization to define measurable stakeholder aims, create a business case for their achievement (which should be continuously updated), and monitor assumptions, risks, dependencies, costs, return on investment, dis-benefits and cultural issues affecting the progress of the associated work
  2. Effective communications that informs various stakeholders of the reasons for the change (why?), the benefits of successful implementation (what is in it for us, and you) as well as the details of the change (when? where? who is involved? how much will it cost? etc.)
  3. Devise an effective education, training and/or skills upgrading scheme for the organization
  4. Counter resistance from the employees of companies and align them to overall strategic direction of the organization
  5. Provide personal counseling (if required) to alleviate any change-related fears
  6. Monitoring of the implementation and fine-tuning as required

Change -

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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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