Category Archives: ORGANIZING FOR ACTION (OFA)

Opponents to hold Common Core protest at MSDE…

…as part of national event.

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Opponents of Common Core and takeover of schools in Maryland will be holding a protest on Monday, November 18, 2013 from 10am to noon at the headquarters of the Maryland State Department of Education at 200 West Baltimore Street in Baltimore.

The event is part of a national protest against Common Core and public corruption in Education that will take place in states across the country. Some parents are against common core and others are driven by the fight against public corruption in Education here in Maryland. The chosen date has significance to the movement, being not only the first day of American Education Week, but also Revolution Day.

Organizers are encouraging parents, students, teachers, and others to attend.  More information, will be posted as it becomes available on the Facebook page “Stop Common Core in Maryland”. This is a bipartisan event involving people of different diverse backgrounds who mean well for their communities and the United States.

Above all, they want to see a greater level of accountability and transparency involving the Maryland state Board of Education which yields a lot of power. Many homeless students and other unfortunate students in the system are being left behind by the unmonitored standards.

The problem was created by a top-down philosophy; the solution will come from the bottom up. Many parents in PG County are supportive of  president Obama and Maryland Governor O’Malley but they want to see an end to corruption within Prince George’s County public schools and Maryland. Maryland state has  senior officers involved in discrimination starting with Dr. Charlene Dukes President of Maryland State Board of Education and Dr. Lillian Lowery Maryland State superintendent of Schools pictured below.  Please help spread the word and join us on November 18, 2013.

To join the fight against public corruption in schools, join the Facebook pages: Call your elected officials now and demand changes within the top school system leadership in Maryland. We must create accountability and transparency. Say “No” to corruption. This is because of entrenched ethnicisation and political manipulation, the ugly face of repression is raising its head. The system and its hirelings are already working hard to prop up a repressive system. Just like it happened many years ago in the state, the democratic ideals enshrined in the constituton are being betrayed by the conscienceless and unashamed clique of usurpers who are remnants of the former repressive regimes of Jack Johnson era. To them, the constitution is just a piece of paper which they embrace when it suits them and discard when it does not. People can no longer express themselves freely anymore and give proper solutions to society. This is not the Maryland we want our future generations to inherit.

In Maryland:

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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 including discriminatory conduct and received an F grade for Common Core meetings so far.

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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.

Our children cannot live on election promises, expensive hairdo’s, decorated buildings with their names and top of the line auto imports. Please let us focus on where our bread is battered. Performance, integrity and high values. When our kids succed, then you can go get your hairdo on – until then, please refrain from this unagreeable behavior.

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Maxwell addresses the Prince George’s County Council

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In his first public appearance before the Prince George’s County Council, Schools Chief Executive Officer Kevin Maxwell said Tuesday that he is evaluating the district’s specialty programs, surveying underutilized schools and analyzing how grades are distributed in schools.

Maxwell said the district, which has experienced a drop in enrollment over the last several years, has a number of schools that are under capacity, and “there is some question of whether they should be closed.” >>> Read More Washington Post

OPINION:

School consolidation either fixes budget shortfalls and creates great schools or destroys a sense of community and adversely impacts local economies. An examination of the pros and cons reveals that each argument has it strengths and weaknesses. The issue of money and what makes a great school cuts both ways in the school consolidation discussion. We hope the agenda in Prince George’s County public school is not to sell any of them but to preserve as many as possible incase parents who have left with their children decide to come back. Closer examination sorts out the thrust of the pros and cons of consolidation.
1.      Education Quality
  • Proponents of school consolidation use the quality of education as a selling point. When two or more small schools consolidate, the resulting school will be able to offer more courses and hire more diverse faculty with teaching expertise in specialized areas. In particular, specialized courses that appeal to only a handful of students will likely generate interest from more students, allowing the school to offer them. This would include advanced classes in mathematics and science, and other areas of study such as drama or non-traditional foreign languages such as Russian or Japanese. Let us hope the Prince George’s County Public schools CEO and the Board members have a plan.

2.      Money

  • The ability to save money is another big selling point for schools considering consolidation. When schools are consolidated, unused school buildings can be sold or used for other purposes, and utility and maintenance costs are reduced, especially if the consolidated school is newer and more energy efficient. Transportation costs are also reduced as fewer school buses will be needed to cover overlapping routes.[I’d have to disagree on this one; most studies show an increase in transportation costs as students are bused past closed schools to the new one. -Ed] Employees needed for non-academic services such as office personnel, cafeteria workers and custodial services can also be reduced. That means, there is going to be job loses if the issue is taken heads on. We hope the Board of Education members will be transparent on this one.

3.      Loss of Identity

  • Local communities identify themselves with their school. Consolidation normally involves some smaller towns losing a school. While saving money is a pro, the loss of the school becomes a con. Parents want their children to attend the same small school they did. For community residents, the closing of the school they attended in the name of consolidation registers as a negative. They fear their children will be lost in the large consolidated school, and they feel they won’t be able to identify with the new school.

4.      Economic Impact

  • Some of the money saved as a result of consolidation is a result of cutting jobs. Small-town schools are often one of the largest employers in the town, and when a school closes it can have a negative effect on the community. School workers who are laid off will face much stiffer competition for those same positions in the consolidated school and face a good chance of not getting hired. David Thompson, a Kansas State University professor in education leadership, points out that the money spent on schools is partially returned to the local community as school employees spend their salaries at local businesses; by shuttering smaller schools, consolidation takes that money out of the small-town community.

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Who’s minding the people…

…who are supposed to be minding the schools?

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chief executive of Options, Donna Montgomery

By Valerie Strauss, Published: October 3 at 5:00 am

Who’s minding the people who are supposed to be minding the schools? Let’s look at two debacles involving schools, one on the West Coast and one on the East, that are symptomatic of problems around the country. My colleague Emma Brown wrote in this story that  three former managers of the Options Public Charter School in Northeast Washington — the city’s oldest charter school — have been accused of enriching themselves with at least $3 million of public money that was supposed to be used to help some of the District’s most troubled teens and students with disabilities. The managers created for-profit companies that won contracts from the school and charged very high prices. A civil lawsuit alleges that they did this with the help of a senior official at the D.C. Public Charter School Board, which is a non-elected entity that has financial oversight over charter schools in the District of Columbia. Charter schools, which operate outside of the traditional public school district, have their own administration and boards. They now enroll more than 40 percent of D.C. students and get more than $500 million in public funds every year to operate. And it turns out, according to the lawsuit, that salary and bonuses for the chief executive, Donna Montgomery, during 2012-13 was at least $425,000, with her base salary at $240,000. Even the base salary is a lot of money for a school with about 400 students. Brown notes that Kaya Henderson is paid a base salary of $275,000 as chancellor of the traditional D.C. school system, which has about 45,000 students. Officials of the charter school board said they were sure that problems were limited to this one school. But look at the timeline of how the board came to know about the problems at Options. From Brown’s story:  >>>Read More Washington Post

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Superintendent John Deasy – Los Angeles Unified School District

Over on the West Coast, in the Los Angeles Unified School District, there’s an ongoing debacle with a $1 billion — yes $1 billion — initiative to get iPads for every student in the country’s second largest school system. There’s been one mistake after another. When the initial planning was done, everybody forgot about the keyboards that kids would need, an oversight which now could cost the district nearly $40 million.

Officials began distributing iPads to some schools and within a week, student hackers figured out to bypass the security system and kids began using the devices to check Facebook, download music and do other personal activities. The Los Angeles Times then reported that more than 70 iPads were “missing” from a pilot program.

And now, Steve Lopez of The Times wrote in this piece that he looked at some of the software programmed into the iPads by Pearson Education and he was less than impressed:

…For all the hype about students taking a magic carpet ride into the future on these tablets, I missed the wow factor. One eighth-grade math lesson included a video of some guy on a treadmill going faster and faster, with a question about how to graph his movement. But no matter how you answered, there was no feedback, and no right or wrong answer.

Lopez asks why school board members let Superintendent John Deasy make such a huge commitment without more oversight. One member, Steve Zimmer, told him that board members “are not equipped … to micromanage.” Wrote Lopez:

I’d have to disagree with him there.

We’re talking about a superintendent who’s in a race to spend $1 billion, counting bringing Wi-Fi to classrooms. And let’s not forget that Deasy was featured as a pitchman in a commercial for iPads, and Deputy Supt. Jaime Aquino (who just resigned in a snit over the tech implementation) once worked for the parent company of Pearson, the firm hired to provide curriculum for the iPads.

So, yeah, do some micromanaging. Hold people accountable. Ask questions.

It makes you wonder who’s minding the minders.

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iPads initiative  – Los Angeles Unified School District

OPINION

They say you never know the worth of water until the well is dry.  We think that is what the article reveals has brought home the message we have been trying to convey here in Prince George’s County.  Seemingly little – but indispensable – things appear meaningless until they are lost. Gone. Our point is that the corruption cover up reports has dashed the sense of reform and mundane expectations. There is no doubt the men and women of the Prince George’s County Public schools (PGCPS) are heroic.

But there’s no longer the “guarantee” the government will give your loved ones credible – and unambiguous – answers should another catastrophe strike like what happened to previous county Executive Jack Johnson. Which begs the question – what went wrong, and we have the answers… what lessons have been learnt?  Whither from hither? Many of the old ways continue to linger in the some parts of the whole district even after pointing out the problems.

Sadly, it seems like there is a never-ending story along these lines nowadays; one embarrassing story after another.  It all boils down to greed and self entitlement.  Poor/handicapped children are being affected by these kind of schemes and there is a growing number of homeless youth. What will it take to stop this and other stories like this from happening again especially here in PG County?  If the management put the effort into helping the children who attend these schools instead of thinking up the schemes to bilk millions of dollars from the system, life will be so much better.

There is no question after reading the above article that, the charter school movement is being taken over by grifters.  When you see a group of legislators jumping on that bandwagon you can be pretty sure someone has plans to get rich using unorthodox means!  And all of you folks who sincerely believe that the free market has a solution to the problems of the public schools? Time will tell. Unless we get involved and demand answers, some of the people who actually get the contracts, are well connected to the leadership.

As time goes on and unless something is done to change the status quo, this illicit activity will continue unabated for many years to come; in the last few years especially here in Prince George’s County, we have seen officials and administrative personnel living lavish lifestyles beyond what they truly earn or deserve.

It is very sad that, this activity is peppered throughout Washington DC region.  Here in Prince George’s county, it was taken a notch higher by Mr. Jack Johnson (Previous PG county Executive) now serving jail time. However, it began with the Barry administration in Washington DC, getting exposed for lavish vacations of “Friends of Barry” in the Virgin Islands, to the fraud in The Department of Taxation, to this and even more in the future.

The Barry Ideology: “We, as a people, have suffered; and now we’re going to be rightfully paid for our suffrage.” Also known as: The Jesse Jackson Jr. Syndrome.

This illegal activity is not only affecting charter schools, small, semi-private special education schools and the Public schools are also affected.  Good, experienced administrators of these very complex entities are difficult to find, so it’s relatively easy for an unscrupulous and/or inept administrator to take over. The large salaries plus expensive benefits some of these people make while making their staff miserable and the students ill-served is truly despicable.  We must put an end to this. Our Districts deserve better and we must continue to demand more accountability and transparency in many regions, not just in Prince George’s County Public schools.

How do the unscrupulous administrators get away with it? The staff is generally held hostage during times when decent jobs are few, the parents are afraid to say anything even if they pick up on what is happening. A very good example in PGCPS is Monica Goldson and Thatcher Law Firm who are known to strike deals behind the scenes with corrupt BOE members.  For many special education parents and their children, the neighborhood school where corruption is taking place might be their last chance and so many might be scared stiff. Maryland State Board of Education is led by incompetent administrators and Board members whose oversight tends to be lax as most parents are just happy to have some place to send their children.

As indicated in the blog, “corporate education reform” every teacher is subjected to unbelievable micro-management based on being forced to teach using horrific cookie-cutter methodologies. And when they “fail,” they are tossed out and public schools are closed. Yet, nobody looks twice at those who set the horrific education policies. Superintendents basically do a lack-luster job (but as long as they follow corporate “education reform” they are “good”). And when they want to increase their salaries, they just leave their “destruction” behind and are able to tow the corporate line elsewhere for a much greater salary… think about what Dr. John  Deasy and William Hite Jr (both PG County Maryland!)  What did they do to their previous School District before they left? Teachers’ salaries get cut along with the pensions they pay more and more into but the “management” gets richer. Teachers ask the question nowadays… WHEN are they going to  be allowed to Teach!

“In order for schools to change, the central office has to change. We believe the best way the system can change is to trust educators to do their jobs. Hold them accountable, but trust them. The malignant and rotten cogs must be pulled out – root and branch – without pity. The cancer must be excised before it sinks deeper. This is one reason why we wanted a competent administrator to come in with the view of making proper changes.

As we move forward into the future, we suggest that multiple bodies carry out inquiries of what caused PGCPS MESS – so that no cover up is possible. The legislature must commence its own independent bi-partisan inquiry without any fear or favor.

Party affiliation, regional and ethnic biases, and power plays must be suspended to uncover what happened so that these problems do not revisit themselves. The Executive should not investigate itself. That’s why a judicial commission of inquiry into the PGCPS MESS must be convened pronto. This does not mean the executive and the security services should not do a penetrating investigation of what went wrong. They must.

In addition, whatever happens, the local county intelligence and security services must be depoliticized. There’s a perception that too much time is spent trailing dissidents and critics. What’s lost in translation is that critics are the backbone of democracy, not its nemesis. The time wasted on surveiling legitimate domestic political activists the world over only takes valuable resources away from tracking and preventing possible corrupt groups and other malevolent clusters.

We know that complete depoliticisation is not possible, but paranoia and harassment of genuine democracy activists must be a thing of the past. Professionalizing intelligence and security services – and the police – cannot be gainsaid.

They are key to preventing future problems of various kinds. This will require killing criminal and corrupt rackets within the state.

Moreover, the apex of the security state must have a streamlined structure with competent men and women in charge. The PGCPS MESS proved the exact opposite. Previous Board Chairperson and her successor either contradict each other, or seemed at sea.

While the measures we have outline here are a core necessity in any country or county wishing success of its citizenry, PG County must move into the future with the prospect of the youth and venerable PG County families in their mind for the wellbeing of the county.

Prince George’s county Board of Education and the Maryland State Department of Education should refrain from retaliatory activities by clamping down on civil liberties. PG County Executive Rushern Baker, Board Chairman Segun C. Eubanks, PGCPS CEO Dr. Kevin Maxwell, Maryland State Superintendent of School Lilian Lowery and others involved in management of public resources should banish all thoughts about ethnic profiling, racism, other forms of discriminatory conduct etc. To do so would fuel hatred among different ethnic groups like we have seen in the last few years. These illegal activities do not help anyone in the end. Let’s take the high road. That is how the Prince George’s county and the United States as whole will defeat poverty and corruption in the future!

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Back to school: It’s worse than you think in Philly.

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Philadelphia public schools are opening for the new school year today Monday September 9, 2013 without many of the basics any reasonable person would expect. Paper, for example. Guidance counselors. Nurses.

Amid an agonizing financial and leadership crisis, the appointed School Reform Commission, which has run the district since the state took it over a dozen years ago, passed a “doomsday” budget this past summer that included cuts so drastic there was no money for schools to open this fall with funding for things such as paper, new books, athletics, arts, music, counselors, assistant principals and more. Teachers were laid off. This came after the closure of a few dozen schools.

How did this happen? The state government has financially starved the district for years, and the city’s public school system has been subjected to one reform experiment after another.

How bad is it? Superintendent William Hite made some accommodations to allow schools to open, but parents say the answer to the question is this: Worse than you think.

According to our own considered opinion, it appears Dr. William Hite et al organized a secret plan to promote charter schools as a solution to the Philadelphia public school problem, making the situation ungovernable as he did in PGCPS through the Unions and others. This way, he can advance corruption in Philadelphia public schools and rule by decree while simponing money through the back door using his conspirators. The collapse of rule of law in the Philadephia public school management under Dr. Hite is most egregious scandal in the United States. Only this time it is bigger than PGCPS MESS

We strongly feel that this is all by design to defame high salary teachers and dismiss them through a coordinated effort using newly hired staff from PGCPS. Many of these teachers and staff being fired are not part of the “good old boys club” which is patently obvious in many district-those teachers who went through the district or are married into it (or are lower in the salary scale) are given the best students and those that are not of the former are given students who need more help. Is there any recourse many have? We are convinced that the local, state and national unions will only afford one a token gesture of support to teachers in their plight for the sake of politics including in Maryland. Time will tell….

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Dr. William Hite Jr

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PGCPS board member Carletta Fellows resigns.

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Carletta Fellows

Reform Sasscer Movement has learned that Ms. Carletta Fellows accused of charging more than $700 of personal expenses to her board-issued credit card has resigned.

According to Prince George’s County Public Schools, Carletta Fellows announced her resignation Thursday. She was elected to the board last year to represent District 7 constituents. During her short tenure in the Board, she worked very hard and created a strong accountability check on previous Board Chairperson Ms. Verjeana Jacobs until Ms. Jacobs lost her position through the legislature by the way of HB1107. Even though she is leaving the Board of Education, this woman of God should be supported even in retirement. If she made a mistake, it’s because she did not know. The fight against corruption must continue ~ A luta continua!

Fellows was the only board member who supported County Executive Rushern Baker’s plan to take over the school system. (Read more Washington post)

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Meet the New CEO for PGCPS TODAY – @CROSSLAND.

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County Executive Baker (Left), New Schools Chief Executive Officer Maxwell (Center) and Board of Education Chair Dr. Segun Eubanks (Right)  pictured above.

County Executive Baker and New Schools Chief Executive Officer Maxwell to Attend Meet and Greet Hosted by the Board of Education at Crossland High School On July 10th
First of Three Opportunities for Residents to Meet the New CEO of Prince George’s County Public Schools
Upper Marlboro, MD -Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker, III and the new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Prince George’s County Public Schools, Dr. Kevin Maxwell will attend a meet and greet for residents at Crossland High School, 6901 Temple Hill Road, Temple Hills, MD, from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. on July 10, 2013. The event is being hosted by the Prince George’s County Board of Education and will provide residents with a chance to meet and talk with Dr. Maxwell.

“We are excited to have Dr. Maxwell join the team that will move our school system forward more rapidly. I am sure that residents want a chance to meet him and this event is designed to provide that opportunity,” said County Executive Rushern L. Baker, III. “Dr. Maxwell knows and is invested in Prince George’s County and its schools. He is committing his outstanding talents to ensuring that our school system is amongst the finest in the state. He was educated in our schools, he taught in our schools and now he will lead our schools. Dr. Maxwell is an innovative educator who has come full circle and I am confident that his greatest achievements are still yet to come.”

“Dr. Maxwell’s return to Prince George’s County Public Schools is an important step forward for this County. He brings the type of energy, expertise and innovation that we need to move our schools forward. I encourage the community to come out and meet Dr. Maxwell to wish him well and share your thoughts on how to take our schools from good to great,” said PGCPS Board of Education Chair Dr. Segun Eubanks

County Executive Baker recently appointed Dr. Kevin Maxwell to serve as CEO for the Prince George’s County Public School System and this is the first of three events over the next few months where residents can talk with the new CEO. Crossland High School was selected as the first location because Dr. Maxwell began his career there. Students, parents, Prince George’s County Public Schools faculty and staff, business and community leaders are welcome to attend.

WHAT:
Meet and Greet with New Schools CEO Dr. Kevin Maxwell (light refreshments will be served)

WHO:
Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker, III
Board of Education Chair Dr. Segun Eubanks
New PGCPS CEO Dr. Kevin Maxwell
Prince George’s County Board of Education

WHEN:
Wednesday, July 10, 2013, 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

WHERE:
Crossland High School
Multi-purpose room/cafeteria
6901 Temple Hill Road
Temple Hills, MD 20748

Sincere thank you.

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On August 15, 2011 a group of Democrats, Republicans, and independents from all over Prince George’s County came together to write a blog about our county by people who live in this county. Over two years we have written about great stories, perspectives, successes, failures of our county, covered times of concern, and pushed for a better county through the legislation. We plan to continue helping innovate the county in corroboration with the new county leadership now that our New CEO is in place.

Our Editorial Board will continue to publish and support the new CEO and our County Executive. If you know anything of concern which needs to be fixed, share it with us and we will corroborate to help make sure it is addressed. Some issues deserves a quick fix and others take a long time to address.

We love this county and as individuals are pumped to continue pushing to make our community better for everyone.

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