Category Archives: PG County is a slum

Homeless Student Population Rises in Maryland

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COLLEGE PARK – Danny Lamont Jones seems like an average high schooler. He goes to class, and comes home and writes music when he can’t focus on his homework.

But for much of his high school career Jones, 18, wasn’t living like an average student. He attended four different high schools as he moved in and out of homes and shelters in Baltimore city. When he turned 12, he said, he moved into a shelter in for homeless teenagers.

“I had to make me own way from there,” said Jones, who now lives with his uncle.

Jones is one of thousands of students in Maryland who have experienced homelessness. The number of K-12 students identifying as homeless in U.S. public schools hit a record high 1.2 million during the 2011-2012 school year, according to the U.S. Department of Education. >>> Read More Capital News Service

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“Ashes to ashes” in PGCPS District Md.

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Prince George’s delegate proposes bill that would strip BOE of credit cards

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Maryland Legislature

A state bill that would prohibit Prince George’s County Board of Education from issuing credit cards to its members is being proposed by a freshman delegate.

The proposal comes months after the board stripped former school board member Carletta Fellows of her credit card after she used the district-issued card to pay hundreds of dollars in utility bills.

Del. Alonzo Washington (D-Prince George’s), who is seeking reelection, said he decided to offer the bill after hearing from his constituents about improving government oversight.

“I’m not looking at anything in the past, I’m just looking toward the future,” he said. “This is about transparency and accountability.”

Under the bill, credit cards would no longer be issued to board members after July 1, 2015.

Washington said the bill would put the school board members on the same footing as county council members.

County council members lost their county-issued credit cards several years ago after a Washington Post article revealed that some members were using the cards for personal expense, including clothing and prescription drugs, a violation of county policy. >>> Read More Washington Post

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Del. Alonzo Washington (D-Prince George’s)

OPINION

The Maryland legislature and Prince George’s County Board of Education should rewrite the policy to resemble private sector, common sense, guidelines and take away the credit cards.  If the person holding the card is responsible for paying the bill and then submitting an expense report, the chances of mistakes or abuse is virtually eliminated.

Credit card misuse has been on the rise not only in Prince George’s County but around the country. For Example one of the finalist selected by PGCPS Board members had his credit card taken away recently. (Read more) And in Atlanta, School board member confessed to misuse of credit card (Read more). In  Wilton-Lyndeborough Cooperative School District, Superintendent Trevor Ebel resigned after an auditor’s report found district credit cards were used to purchase thousands of dollars worth of restaurant meals, alcohol and expensive hotel rooms at out-of-state conferences. (Read more)

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Crossland HS student fatally shot in Pr. George’s Saturday

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Prince George’s County police have identified the person found dead in a parking lot in Suitland over the weekend as a 17-year-old freshman from Crossland High School.

Patrol officers found Brandon Ramone Johnson after answering a welfare check at about 3:15 a.m. Saturday in the 4900 block of Suitland Road, police said. They found Johnson suffering from a gunshot wound when they arrived and declared him dead at the scene.

Detectives were not able to identify Johnson until Sunday because he didn’t have identification on him, said Lt. William Alexander, a spokesman for the Prince George’s police.

Police detectives are working to determine suspects and motives, but do have leads they’re investigating, Alexander said.

Police say anyone with information should call 1-866-411-TIPS.

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PGCPS asks seniors for proof of residency

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Members of the senior class at Northwestern High School in Prince George’s County were recently summoned to the auditorium to discuss what they needed to do before getting their diplomas in the spring.

They received information about what scores they needed to pass the Maryland High School Assessments exam, what they could expect to pay in senior dues and how to prepare for college. Then, before they left the auditorium, they were handed a letter demanding verification of their residency.

According to the letter, students whose families did not provide a current lease or mortgage statement and a utility bill, pay stub or other proof of legal residence within the Hyattsville school’s boundary would be forced to withdraw. They had two weeks to respond.>>>Read More Washington Post  >>>Read More The Wild Cat Press

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OPINION

There is nothing wrong with requiring proof of residency, but telling seniors, halfway through the year, that they have two weeks and a parent must personally bring the documents to the registrars office is a little too much. It is clearly another case of incompetent PGCPS taking a perfectly reasonable premise or idea and blowing it way out of proportion. Usually in many jurisdictions around the country, at the beginning of every school year, students always bring home a bunch of papers for parents to fill out. That is the correct time to request proof of residency. Springing this on everyone at this time, well into the school year, would tell me that the administration of this school is not knowledgeable, or at least inefficient. The way most audits work is to examine a random sampling. If there is a significant number of students who are shown not to be correctly enrolled, then broaden the audit. Why, on a whim, should over 500 families be inconvenienced out of the blue? Most kids at Northwestern are majority Hispanic / African immigrants if there is a problem with accountability, expand the exercise to the whole district. Otherwise, it will be unfair to target only this one school because of high levels of immigrant population.

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Md. test exclusion rate raises questions

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Maryland superintendent Lillian Lowery is on the spot for several bad things including poor leadership skills.

When Maryland officials recently trumpeted the performance of their students on national reading tests, they failed to mention one thing: The state blocked more than half its English language learners and students with learning disabilities from taking the test, students whose scores would have dragged down the results.

Maryland excluded 62 percent of students in two categories — learning-disabled and English learners — from the fourth-grade reading test and 60 percent of those students from the eighth-grade reading test. >>> Read More Washington Post

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PGCPS Board narrowly approves…

…Maxwell’s budget request

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CEO Kevin Maxwell

The Prince George’s County Board of Education narrowly voted Thursday to support a request by the schools chief to make significant changes to the district’s $1.7 billion budget.

The 5-2-2 vote allows Schools CEO Kevin Maxwell to proceed with his request to transfer $18 million from various accounts in the budget to pay for several executive level positions, enhancements in the art program, security improvements and other initiatives. The County Council now must approve the request for the proposal to take effect. >>> Read more

OPINION.

CEO Kevin Maxwell is being premature in evaluating and faulting the Hybrid School Board of Education for the budget change in the Prince Georges County Public Schools System (PGCPS). The budget which was initiated by the County Executive and the power elite in order to grab power seem to have had a different agenda. The power grab now appears to have been for the sake of grabbing power rather than in order to initiate sincere reforms. When the Reform Sasscer Movement (A grass roots advocacy group) encouraged for changes, our hope was to see actual reforms and proper management of resources rather than cover ups and squander. However, proper and transparent reforms is not what we are seeing at the moment. Several grass roots pressure groups concerned with PGCPS corruption have been completely disenfranchised from the process.

In the article above by the Washington Post, Ms. Wiggins conveniently left off the salaries for Maxwell’s new senior staff. The three new appointees hired recently are making nearly $1 million. Maxwell’s friend is making $220,000 a year while teachers have to buy their own paper and classroom supplies! This is unacceptable. …. We do not mind a little increase but spending tax payer money like this is not being wise. Prince George’s county council needs to scrutinize the new raises and send back the entire package to the Hybrid Board to fix the remunerations.

Call your elected officials now and the media. Demand changes…

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More states delay Common Core testing…

…as concerns grow

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Massachusetts and Louisiana, both seen as important in the world of school reform, have decided to delay the implementation of high-stakes standardized tests aligned to the Common Core State Standards in the face of  growing concern about the initiative. The two states follow nearly 10 others — including Florida, the pioneer of corporate-influenced school reform — to slow or rethink Core implementation, actions coming amid a growing movement led by educators and parents who have become skeptical of the standards and the new related standardized tests.

Meanwhile, Maryland just took over as fiscal agent for PARCC; State Superintendent Lillian Lowery said in a release last Thursday that Maryland “is strongly committed to the success of PARCC.”  However, her statement didn’t mention growing resistance among educators and parents in Maryland about the way the Core is being implemented in the state. >>>Read more

A November 21 Baltimore Sun article summarizes a briefing held by the Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee on the implementation of the Common Core curriculum standards, a new statewide testing system, and a new teacher evaluation system.  The article reports that Committee members questioned State Superintendent of Schools Lillian M. Lowery on whether the amount and pace of the education reforms are putting unnecessary stress on teachers.  From the article:

“A lot of [teachers] have talked about tremendous stress,” said Sen. Ronald N. Young, a Frederick County Democrat, adding that some teachers say they’re ready to give up and others now take medication for stress.  …

Lowery responded that the state has already sought ways to slow down the reforms, delaying when the new teacher evaluation system tied to student achievement takes effect and when new tests will be used to measure the state’s education system.  …

“This is one of the worst program implementations I have ever seen, in terms of educating parents and families,” Sen. Ed Reilly, an Anne Arundel County Republican, said to Lowery and other top state education officials. “Public relations is part of your job — all of your jobs — and it’s been done very poorly.”  …

Sen. Bill Ferguson, a Baltimore City Democrat and former teacher, compared the educational reforms to the botched rollout of the Affordable Care Act and health exchanges. “If we don’t do this right,” he said, the state may have “a bad image on a great concept.”

Sen. Ed Reilly has almost got it here. Once you understand Maryland’s great schools are just an illusion conjured by incompetent leaders like superintendent Lowery. Understand our quality of education has been dropping for 40 years and Common Core is compost than you can ask real questions. Questions like what have we been paying you folks for and why haven’t you people educated our children? >>> Read more

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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.

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Parents demonstration at Maryland state Board of Education

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Parents demonstration at Maryland state Board of Education and the leadership of Dr. Lowery