Category Archives: PG Superintendent.

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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Pr. George’s students punished for wearing pink…

…not uniforms, for Breast Cancer Month

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About 75 students at Friendly High School in Prince George’s County who supported Breast Cancer Awareness Month by wearing pink shirts were given in-school suspensions Friday for violating the school’s uniform policy.

Students said they were sent to a classroom and told that they would receive an unexcused absence and zeros for their classes. But Max Pugh, a spokesman for the school system, said the students would be excused for missing class and would be able to make up any missed work.

Raynah Adams, principal of the Fort Washington school, told the students Tuesday that they could not hold their annual “Pink Out” because it would violate the uniform policy and there were security concerns, the students said.

But on Friday, a number of students showed up wearing pink shirts, pink sweaters and, in some cases, pink ribbons painted on their cheeks. Students estimated that 20 percent of the school population participated, but that figure could not be confirmed. >>> Read More Washington Post

OPINION.

Any principal who lock-steps behind regulations and cannot encourage student support for righteous causes –especially for the young women in this particular school–is a principal who needs to be replaced. This was reprehensible on the part of the school.  Many of the Schools in PG county are still run by little Hitlers and connected to powerful friends.  And of course the students are aware of it.  In this case, it does teach a valuable life lesson.  Our experience has been when schools have a uniform policy, they always have dress down days, spirit wear days, St. Patrick’s green wear day and dress up days.  What’s the problem with having a “breast cancer awareness day?”

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MSDE hosts Common Core forum…

…Chaos and poor leadership leave parents in the dark.

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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.

About18 people protested outside the common core forum on October 1, 2013 hosted by the state Department of Education at Charles H. Flowers High School – Largo. Some of the protesters were carrying posters and distributing pamphlets from the Worcester County Tea Party  about “why [Common Core] is bad for your child, your family and for Americans.” Others from Baltimore, Montgomery and Prince George’s counties were protesting bad leadership of Dr. Lilian Lowery and the Maryland State Board of Education for lack of transparency and corruption.

Similar to the other sessions that have been held, there were outbursts inside the auditorioum from some who are opposed to the new standards. Others were opposed to the way the forum was being run. One parent repeatedly yelled for the Pledge of Allegiance to be done. Others tried to yell out follow-up questions which were ignored. The public was asked to submit their written questions, which would be answered by Lowery or local education officials present. The Maryland PTA President,  Dr. Lilian Lowery, Monica Goldson did not help with matters any how. They kept answering questions from a single person “Vicky” and these actions made the crowd more hostile.

There are critics on the left and the right to the new standards. Some on the left are opposed to standardized testing and some on the right consider it a federal takeover. “This is not a debate,” Lowery told the crowd before taking questions. “This is an informational session.”

One parent in the group said, “Maryland State Department of Education is a crumbling edifice, wrecked to the seams by corruption, bad leadership, ethnicism, racism, parochialism, sectarian intolerance and childish political recrimination.” He then concluded, is this America?

Superintendent of Schools Lillian Lowery  did mention though that “Common Core standards will bring consistency to the educational system, ensuring that the standards are the same whether a child lives in Maine or Maryland. She said the state has not changed curriculum. It has changed how subjects are taught. Maryland decided three years ago to join a consortium of states to do away with differing standards and creating new standardized tests to align with the standards.” However, she could not answer some of the questions and passed them on to her aides or Maryland PTA president.

No one was arrested, unlike an earlier forum when an Ellicott City parent interrupted Baltimore County School Superintendent Dallas Dance and complained that the new standards were not rigorous and were instead preparing students for community college not top universities.  Charges were later dropped against Robert Small, who was accused of  second-degree assault of a police officer and disturbing a school operation, after being escorted out of the forum by a police officer.

Many parents see the Maryland State Board of Education as a crumbling edifice, with massive corruption and characterised by bad leadership. There are no elections of the Maryland State Board of Education members, sweeping changes are made to our education system without parental input or notification or involvement of the legislature.  The biggest portion of our state budget goes to education, to the tune of nearly a BILLION dollars  and there are very few checks and balances to ward off corruption.  On this note, greater transparency and accountability is needed.

To make Maryland State Board of Education accountable, We must implement principles of good governance in order to provide clean and corruption-free Educational functions. In fighting corruption, the most important thing is prevention rather than punishment. Therefore this should be the main focus in the fight against corruption within the Maryland State Board of Education and elsewhere.  On this note, for an institution to foster a corruption-free environment, it would require strong leader to set an example for the rest of the officials. We feel that Dr. Lillian Lowery and Dr. Charlene Dukes (a previous board member in Prince George’s County public schools), are not role models to help with this transition after what they have done to others recently and they must go.

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Dukes

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

Federal judge allows ADA lawsuit…

…to go to trial in November 2013.

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Violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA): Failure of Prince George’s County Public Schools to Accommodate

GREENBELT, Maryland — Judge Alexander Williams of the U.S. District Court of Maryland’s Southern Division denied motions for summary judgment filed by Thatcher Law firm on behalf of the Board of Education for Prince George’s County recently.  Information reaching Reform Sasscer movement indicates that after a careful analysis, the judge allowed the case to proceed for the jury deriberations this fall.

Plaintiff William Wilson an algebra teacher who possesses Maryland special education certifications faced a number of discrimination conduct within PGCPS.  During the 2011 – 2012 school year, Mr. Wilson was employed by Prince George’s County Public Schools and assigned to Dr. Henry Wise High School.

Mr. Wilson suffers from a permanent neuropathy in his left foot.  He experiences severe pain if he stands or walks for extended periods.  His leg pain is chronic and constant.  Mr. Wilson had surgery to relieve his leg pain, however, the surgery was unsuccessful.  Mr. Wilson has a “Virginia Permanent Disabled Parking Placard”.

In early November 2011, Mr. Wilson complained to his immediate supervisor, Dawn Brodus-Yougha, about the foot pain he was experiencing due to his disability.  Dr. Brodus-Yougha said to Ms. Wilson, “if you have a disability I need to see a doctor’s note.”

Mr. Wilson provided Dr. Brodus-Yougha with a note from his doctor, dated November 11, 2011, which said, “Pt will need frequent episodes of sitting and minimal standing”.  Dr. Brodus-Yougha then instructed Mr. Wilson to give a copy of his doctor’s note to Principal Carletta Marrow.  Mr. Wilson provided Principal Marrow with a copy of his doctor’s note.

Nonetheless, Dr. Brodus-Yougha ordered Mr. Wilson to stand in front of his classroom each morning  for hall duty, which meant 20 minutes of continual standing.  Dr. Brodus-Yougha would not allow Mr. Wilson to sit down during hall duty, even when he complained about pain.

Mr. Wilson’s foot pain became so unbearable that he began to experience panic attacks, he could not sleep at night, his blood pressure rose to dangerous levels, and he began throwing up before school.

Doctor’s notes that restricted Mr. Wilson’s standing to five minutes continued to be ignored.  On February 14, 2012, Dr. Brodus-Yougha ordered Ms. Wilson to stand outside the school at the end of each day and escort his students to their buses.  The task involved 30 to 45 minutes of additional standing and walking.

On February 26, 2012, Ms. Wilson informed PGCPS officials that the constant standing and walking was so harmful to his health that he was resigning from his $90,840 a year position. PGCPS_-_Wilson_Complaint_filed_July_13_2012

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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.

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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