Category Archives: Public Education

Hogan Calls For Accountability Before Funding Kirwan Commission Recommendations, Blasts Thornton

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Gov. Larry Hogan

Reform Sasscer Staff:

Gov. Larry Hogan on Thursday wants lawmakers to ensure accountability for local school systems before appropriating the billions in education funding called for by the Kirwan commission.

“My concern is that the recommendations of the Commission will lead to massive increases in expenditures without any assurance that our kids will receive a better education,” Hogan wrote in a letter Thursday to Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. and House Speaker Michael E. Busch.

Last week, Democratic leaders backed a 10-year package that would require $1 billion in state money over the next years. To implement all of the commission’s recommendations, it would cost $3.8 billion each year for the next 10 years.

The recommendations include expanded full-day pre-K, increased teacher salaries, more special education funding and support for struggling schools. Lawmakers said they would appoint a commission to figure out how to fund those proposals, but Hogan called for assurances accountability would be on the front end.

“The Commission’s purported aim was to adopt strategies that have been proven in a top-performing state, such as Massachusetts,” Hogan wrote. “Yet, the Commission failed to include any of the strong accountability strategies used in that state to achieve that success.”

In September, Hogan used an executive order to form an Office of Education Accountability as an independent watchdog. That followed a grade-fixing scandal in Prince George’s County and the perjury guilty plea by former Baltimore County Superintendent S. Dallas Dance. Dance failed to disclose tens of thousands in consulting income, including from a company that then won a no-bid contract with the county.

Department of Budget and Management Secretary David Brinkley expressed concerns in his own letter to top lawmakers. He said that a budget analysis by his office foresees a shortfall of $21 billion in all from fiscal year 2021 through 2025 if legislation mirroring the recommendations is passed, as well as other legislation increasing the minimum wage and pay to state employees.

“To put it another way, Maryland households will have to pay an additional $7,000 per family in state and local taxes over the next five years to cover this shortfall,” Brinkley wrote.

Both letters blasted Thornton commission as having been a waste of time after it failed to address problems which continues today. Below are the letters written to senior state officials in the Maryland legislature expressing reservations due to ongoing public corruption within the Maryland school systems.

In Prince George’s County, there is a major need to scrutinize the role of Dr. Charlene Duke – (President of PG county community college) in the whole saga in Prince George’s County  and the millions of dollars she is handling on behalf of Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS). Dr. Dukes has had a long history with Thornton and the Unions involved in major willful violations of law in Maryland.

Several citizens in the community expressed strong support for accountability with one concerned citizen Tonya Wingfield stating the following: “The school budget increases every year yet we continue to lay-off school-based personnel while increasing central office staff and pay them six figures while they leave a trail of scandals. It’s time for accountability,” Tonya stated on Facebook. She further added that, ” There have been several audits that showed mismanagement in transportation funds, poor procurement practices, the secret issuance of bonuses, waste of books in warehouses due to inadequate inventory management and the increase in central office staff every time there’s a scandal. PGCPS funding has steadily increased. If PGCPS would start making the Master Plan and local School Improvement Plans available to the public everyone would see more than enough money is going to our schools. This marching for money is like crying hungry with a ham in your mouth.” Tonya stated on social media.

Alvin-Thornton

Alvin Thornton (seen here) returned to the Prince George’s County Board of Education in 2018. There are concerns that, problems might continue to occur unless something is done to address the issues in Prince George’s County.  There is a major need to scrutinize the role of Dr. Charlene Duke – (President of PG county community college) in the whole saga in Prince George’s County  and the millions of dollars she is handling on behalf of PGCPS. Dr. Dukes has a long history with Thornton and the Unions involved in major willful violations of law in Maryland.

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Maryland HB-227 Ethics bill is a BAD BILL – Call your State officials

IMG_4787.JPGHere we go again…. HB-227 Ethics bill headed to a vote in the House floor today or Monday that REPEAL LIMITS on developer contributions.

This is a BAD BILL and should NOT be supported. The developer cash fueling campaigns in Prince George’s County in particular is kind of corrupt relationship which undermines the public’s confidence in government. Call your State Representatives and request for them to VOTE NO on Maryland HB-227

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PGCPS Central High Students to Be Relocated Due to Repair Project

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Many parents and students are worried after Prince George’s County Public Schools announced that Central High School will be closed to students next year to make way for a major repair project. News4’s Tracee Wilkins tells what will happen, and what responses it’s getting.  ▶ Full story on nbcwashington.com

(Published Tuesday, Mar 12, 2019 | Credit: Tracee Wilkins)

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Swamp Watch: Bill Would Make Background Checks by School Officials Rigorous

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The Maryland General Assembly is deliberating legislation to stiffen the background checks conducted by public school districts.

The bill is gaining supporters and poised to be approved by the state House of Delegates, multiple officials told the News4 I-Team. It was introduced months after an I-Team investigation revealed loopholes in the safety net that protects public school children from abuse by predatory teachers.

The bill sponsored by Del. C.T. Wilson, D-Charles County, requires school districts contact prior employers listed by job applicants before hiring those applicants. It also requires teachers to confirm in writing that they’ve never been the subject of a child abuse investigation, unless the investigation found the allegations to be false.

“We don’t do the proper background checks,” Wilson said. “We only do a criminal background check, which is pretty useless in these matters.”

He said the bill provides civil liability from lawsuits for school administrators who release records about substantiated sexual misconduct investigations involving former employees. It also bans non-disclosure agreements between schools and teachers involving child abuse investigations.

Wilson said his bill offers much needed protections.

“I know (teachers) support this bill, because this is about them,” he said. “They don’t want to be viewed as the enemy, because they’re not. But there are a few bad apples, and they spoil the whole barrel.”

A 2018 investigation by the I-Team revealed a music teacher who’d lost his job in Florida — for sending text messages with sexual language to a female student — avoided detection and later found work in two Maryland public school districts. Among the revelations in I-Team report: The two Maryland school districts acknowledged they don’t contact all prior employers for background information about teachers who apply for jobs.

University of Maryland law student Kevin Redden testified on behalf of the bill before the Maryland House Ways and Means Committee in mid-February. Redden said the legislation will help flag teachers who have groomed children for possible misconduct.

“It’s a preemptive strike. It helps principals, teachers and parents identify individuals,” Redden said. “It would tip off principals not to hire these individuals.”

“The Maryland State Education Association supports this legislation to prevent child sex abuse and misconduct in our schools. We are working closely with Del. Wilson to strengthen the bill so educators are empowered to police their own profession and make sure anyone who commits these horrible actions never works in a school again,” said a Maryland State Education Association spokesman. The organization represents public school teachers throughout the state.

via NBC4

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Bowie elementary school closed Thursday due to major sewage blockage

Prince George’s County Public Schools announced on Wednesday that Rockledge Elementary School in Bowie will be closed Thursday due to a sewage blockage.

PGCPS failed to give more updates as to when the school will be open for classes to resume.

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Student safety, charter schools, and a misguided idea gaining steam in Austin

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Starlee Coleman, CEO of the Texas Charter Schools Association

Starlee Coleman, CEO of the Texas Charter Schools Association, insists that charter schools should have the right to exclude students they don’t want. 

State Rep. Gina Hinojosa, a Democrat who represents Austin, has introduced a bill proposing that charters act like public schools if they want to be public schools and serve all kinds of students, not just those who are easiest and cheapest to educate.

Of course, the charter lobby wants public money without acting like a public school.

Thank you, Rep. Hinojosa, for standing up for what is right!

If charter schools take public money, as they do, they should be subject to the same admissions procedures, discipline standards, transparency and accountability as real public schools.

But no, they want to get public money while acting like private schools.

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Starlee Coleman, CEO of the Texas Charter Schools Association, insists that charter schools should have the right to exclude students they don’t want. 

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Principal in Prince George’s County apologizes for saying n-word during Black History assembly

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Joy Morrow (Photo: New Hope Academy)

 – The principal of New Hope Academy in Hyattsville is apologizing after she says she used the n-word during a Black History assembly last week in front of a group of students.

Principal Joy Morrow said in a press release obtained by FOX 5 Tuesday, the school was scheduled to host its annual Black History assembly last Thursday when 40 minutes before its start the keynote speaker canceled.

That’s when she says she offered to recreate a talk she gave 25 years ago on “What Dr. Martin Luther King’s teaching meant in my life.”

Morrow, who grew up in Dubuque, Iowa, said she prefaced her talk with students in the sixth through 12th grades by drawing them closer, and explaining to them that she would “be giving them a testimony of how God worked in my life, through Dr. King’s teachings.”

She says she told the students she was going to use the n-word in her talk, which would explain what she experienced as a child who grew up in an “all white, racist community” in Iowa.

In her talk, Morrow says in Dubuque, “they were still burning crosses in the 1970s.” She says she explained to the students the language that was used during that time to “engender fear, hatred, and loathing of African Americans.”

Morrow says during this point in her talk she used the n-word “to explain what was said to me as a child, and the emotional fear it engendered. I talked about how such language is used to transmit hate to a young child.”

In hindsight, Morrow says “the n-word instead acted to distract some of the children rather than impacting the students to understand the negative power this word had on shaping a young child. For this reason and others, I regret using it.”

After the assembly, Morrow says it became clear that some of the children were troubled by her use of the n-word, despite the context she says it was used in.

The academy has since gathered groups and had sessions with both students and teachers, according to Morrow.

She says in each session, she “sincerely apologized that my use of the word made them feel disrespected, and detracted from the message I was trying to convey.”

FOX 5 spoke with the students about their thoughts on the controversy. Many did not want to go on camera.

“She shouldn’t have said it but I feel like it also got blown out of proportion at the same time,” said Josiah Faison.

Following this and controversial lessons at other area schools, Dr. David Ree, an associate history professor at Bowie State University told FOX 5 Tuesday that educators should collaborate more to make sure they’re dealing with sensitive topics appropriately.

“It involves dialoguing, I think, with the black community, because there are educators that teach these topics all the time,” said Reed. “We miss an opportunity to take young people and teach them lessons from the past to build a better, stronger future.”

Via Fox5 DC 

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