Category Archives: roguish behavior by Mr. James Spears

Weak student achievement in PGCPS…

…new academic standards concern Pr. George’s school board.

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By , Updated: Friday, October 11, 6:47 PM

Only half of students who graduated from Prince George’s County’s public high schools last year enrolled in college, and 90 percent of the graduates in community college are taking remedial classes in math and reading, according to data shared with the county’s Board of Education on Thursday during a presentation on student achievement, secondary-school changes and the new academic standards.

In the 2012-13 school year, more than a fifth of the county’s freshmen had to repeat ninth grade, the data showed, and 40 percent of second-graders did not read at or above grade level.“College and career readiness is built on a foundation that goes all the way back to pre-kindergarten,” said A. Duane Arbogast, the chief academic officer, told the board.After Arbogast’s presentation, board members spent more than an hour asking about professional development for teachers, parental engagement and the implementation of Common Core, a new national curriculum being implemented in most states.>>> Read More Washington Post  >>> Read more about Common core in Maryland

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MSDE Forum in PG County 10/1/2013

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On October 1, 2013, Dr. Lillian Lowery Maryland State Superintendent and her company will be touring our beautiful county to answer questions related to common core.  After a firestorm of charges from parents in other parts of the state that questions from the attendees were screened and reworded at the Common Core meeting in Baltimore County on Sept. 19, the MSDE will repeat the same format at the Prince George’s County forum during the meeting at Springdale.

Bill Reinhardt, Public Information Officer for MSDE, said, “We tried it with open mic the first time [in Talbot County] and we got about half the questions answered.”

The Prince George’s County meeting will be the final of four Common Core meetings in the state.

When questioned on how they would address the concerns of parents who said their questions were screened and reworded, he said, “Some of the cards went 4-5 paragraphs, so they were re-worded.”

So, instead of answering half the questions, the MSDE is opting for half-answering the questions.

Please call the office of MSDE Superintendent Lillian Lowery at 410-767-0462 and request that the format of the meeting be open mic instead of written questions.

The Common Core forum in Prince George’s County as indicated is tomorrow October 1 from 7-8:30pm at Charles Herbert Flowers High School in Springdale as indicated above.

Don’t be a cattle! Ask tough questions.

STAY INFORMED: Subscribe into our blog to receive free email notifications each time we post a new article.  Thanks for supporting reform Sasscer Movement for Prince George’s County in Maryland!

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

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Don’t Be a Cattle!” is a newly formed group that began after the arrest of Robert Small for asking a question out of turn at an MSDE forum on Common Core.  In just one week, the group has amassed a Facebook following of more than 3,500 members and growing.

“Many parents in attendance at the school board meeting on Sept. 19 were growing increasingly frustrated by the screening and rewording of the questions which were required to be submitted in writing.  At no time in the ‘forum’ were parents allowed to ask direct questions, follow-up, or clarifications,” said group founder Ann Miller, whose YouTube video of the incident garnered national attention and has received a million hits.

The MSDE adopted Common Core in June of 2010 in exchange for a quarter billion dollars in federal incentive funding through a Race To The Top grant which was conditioned upon adherence to Common Core.  In all that time, when the MSDE could have been asking for public input and educating parents on the standards, instead there was an information blackout.  The public is only just now, upon its implementation and after the expenditure of untold taxpayer dollars, even learning about the new overhaul to our education system.

Instead of putting out propaganda videos that avoid direct questions, “Don’t Be Cattle!” calls upon Superintendent Lilian Lowery to finally answer direct questions from parents, teachers and the public – openly and honestly without editing.

The list of questions below was compiled by parents who attended the meeting in Towson and feel their questions were never addressed.  They are only a few out of many unanswered questions.

The group is also requesting the protocol of the Question and Answer portion of the meeting be changed to open mic, rather than written questions.

The final MSDE Common Core forum is on Tuesday, Oct. 1 at 7pm at Charles Herbert Flowers High School in Prince George’s County.

A Sampling of Parents’ Unanswered Questions on Common Core

  1. All of the academics on the validation committee for Common Core refused to sign off on it.  What evidence do you have that Common Core will even be effective in improving education?
  2. How is selling out our local education system to national standards in the best interest of our children?
  3. Why are we going backwards in adopting a one-size-fits-all set of standards?  What about special needs and GT children?
  4. Why are we adopting Common Core when testing standards have not rolled out yet?
  5. What are the costs to the state of implementing Common Core?
  6. How will MSDE prevent data collection from being shared with outside entities in light of the NSA and IRS scandals?
  7. With nearly 35% of the States that adopted Common Core making motions toward rejecting the standards, is it wise to gamble with the future of Maryland’s children’s education by moving so swiftly to implement Common Core?
  8. If Maryland schools were ranked number one in the nation, why are we spending millions to abandon what was working?
  9. Can parents view what data is being collected on their children?  How can parents opt out?
  10. What is the policy when parents refuse to allow their children to be subject to Common Core testing as permitted by law?
  11. The push to align the SAT and other tests to Common Core standards will affect even private schools and home schoolers.  How does this contribute to school choice?
  12. What guarantees do parents have that the requirements for further grants will not become increasingly over-reaching each and every year?

It is time to remind the Maryland State Board of Education that the parents pay the school taxes and entitled to ask questions and God forbid the statement or question is longer than two (2) minutes..

Beginning next year, We are going to do the right thing and start putting people in office that will respect the law and stand up to power hungry unions and beaureaucrats, and their dictatorial ways. It’s time!

We must get our act together, for goodness sake!

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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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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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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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ASASP Lawsuit in Greenbelt Federal Court Dismissed.

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ASASP Union Case Terminated.

Reform Sasscer Movement for Prince George’s County “Movement” has established that, law suit filed in Federal court last year, (See details here ~~>asaspunion-complaint) has been dismissed. Many members of ASASP and others within the county system expressed dismay since as it turns out, the suit was more of a cover up than anything else. Following our explicit account almost two years ago, previous President Mr. James Smallwood resigned but then was replaced by his friend Mr. Dwayne Jones who is engaged in the same diabolical conduct at Laurel High School. Mr. James Smallwood still sits in the same Board of Association of Supervisory and Administrative School Personnel (ASASP) and has been calling the shots behind the scenes in retaliation. Mr. Smallwood’s name is not published in ASASP Website in order to deceive members that he is no longer a member of the Board of Directors but he is. Something needs to be done to create a strong accountability mechanism on these guys. On this note, Someone needs to ask them to do the right thing and step aside to allow proper investigations to occur. The above lawsuit appears it was more of a publicity stance and concealment of illegal activities by Dr. William Hite, Ms. Monica Goldson, Mr. James Smallwood and their conspirators committed while in Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS).

The time has come to demand accountability from these same Unions which appear to have lots of money to dupe innocent members while paralyizing the school Disctrict for their own personal motives. We have had enough with the corruption involving unions here in PGCPS and other entities who might be benefiting from the same. The cycle of corruption must be eliminated or minimized somewhat. We therefore should never rest easy.  In our own considered view, the suit was never intended to fix any problems whatsoever other than cover up the bad guys. Enough is enough.

Time has come for new leadership involving ASASP and other Unions in PGCPS engaged in wrongful conduct which includes bribing attorneys in conspiracy with the Thatcher Law Firm and other players. We must demand an end to these shenanigans and other pranks within our PG county system ASAP! We hope the Board members and other government officials will look at the activities of these selfish individuals with a view to making proper changes. We cannot be a butt of all manner of jokes without taking action against the fire!

As articulated before, Corruption flourishes when someone has monopoly power over a good or service; has the discretion to decide how much you get or whether you get any at all, and where transparency and accountability are weak. So, to fight corruption we must reduce monopoly, reduce discretion, and increase transparency in many ways. (see ~~> ~~> Reduce corruption ~~> Audit and Accountability)

Corruption = Monopoly + Discretion – Transparency

Enhancing accountability means many things, and creative leaders use a remarkable variety of methods. One way to improve accountability is to improve the measurement of performance. Leaders can work with their employees and clients to create new systems for measuring the performance of agencies and offices—and then link rewards to results.

Accountability is also increased by inviting outside agencies to audit, monitor, and evaluate.

What about ethics and morality? Successful leaders set a good example. They sometimes create training programs for employees and citizens. Nonetheless, in the success stories I have studied, what might be called “moral initiatives” are not the key feature of the long-term reforms. The keys are systems that provide better incentives for imperfect human beings to perform in the public interest—and to avoid corruption.

Subverting Corruption

When corruption has become systemic, it resembles organized crime. It has its own parallel system of recruitment and hierarchy, of rewards and punishments, of contracts and enforcement. This parallel system has some inherent weaknesses. For example, in no country of the world are bribery and extortion legal. Therefore, they must be kept (somewhat) secret. The money gained must be hidden. One cannot openly recruit new members. The mechanisms for enforcement are illicit.

How can these corrupt systems be subverted? Obviously we cannot count on members of organized crime to clean themselves. Instead, we must analyze the corrupt systems and ask, “How might they be destabilized?” Who is “we”? It can be a new president and his or her team, or a new mayor or head of a public enterprise. But it can also be you and me as members of civil society. Around the world we see new examples of citizen activism, of business groups entering into “integrity pacts,” of intellectuals and journalists and religious leaders going beyond lectures and sermons to analyze corrupt systems and work together to subvert them.

Finally, according the FBI, Public corruption poses a fundamental threat to our national security and way of life. It impacts everything from how well our borders are secured and our neighborhoods protected…to verdicts handed down in courts…to the quality of our roads, schools, and other government services. And it takes a significant toll on our pocketbooks, wasting billions in tax dollars every year.

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If you and I are not part of the solution then we are simply part of the problem. ~ Anonymous

Judge’s order ~> show_temp.pl

ASASP’S ~> voluntary dismissal

Teaching for change and deep learning.

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In a hard-hitting essay, Anthony Cody describes how accountability has been turned into a weapon to create demoralization, failure, and privatization of public schools.

He reviews the recent fiascos involving Tony Bennett and New York’s Common Core testing.

He notes that both the AFT and the NEA are trying hard to meet the demands of the corporate reformers. Both are trying to help teachers prepare for the Common Core sledge hammer, but Cody says it is a fruitless enterprise. The game is rigged. The reformers’ goal is to generate failure so they can advance privatization.

Cody writes:

“Our response must be, as members of the teaching profession, and as members of the unions that represent educators, to reject as baseless these phony, politically-driven accountability systems. These systems to rate schools based on proficiency rates are really much more accurately reflecting levels of poverty, rather than the quality of teaching in effect. Many of those advocating them are, like Tony Bennett, attempting to promote their own favored competitors, in a race in which they have made themselves the rule-makers and referees.

“When someone sets up a competition that is rigged from the start, our response cannot be to ask for more time to prepare. The answer is to expose the machinery at work behind the scenes, and demand that our schools be accountable not to some state or federal bureaucrat, but to the students and parents of their communities. We will not overcome poverty by firing those who have chosen to work with the poor. Our schools and students need support, not more means by which they can be ranked and rejected. Real support from our unions means educating and organizing members to respond with vigor and pride about our students, our schools, and our work as professionals. Teachers cannot “succeed” under these systems because that is not their design. So rather than trying to prepare for tests many of our schools were never meant to pass, we need to prepare teachers to defend and reclaim their schools, and reject the accountability scam.

Even though we do not fully agree with the article, We think there are some points to consider. However, every situation is different compared to what we have seen here in PGCPS District. The current top-down approach to education governance is the hallmark of an authoritarian, not a democratic egalitarian society! Our country is at its best when we have egalitarian institutions which rely on the collective wisdom of the participants, in this case the teachers, students and their parents, to make the important decisions to transform the institutions into something more effective for those participants.

Above all, we should never neglect the will of the homeless youth in Education. Many homeless youth face difficulties attending school because of legal guardianship requirements, residency requirements, improper records, and lack of transportation. As a result, homeless youth face severe challenges in obtaining an education and supporting themselves emotionally and financially including with testing requirements. Many of these disadvantaged children are at a different level all together. Let us be fair to all people.

What do you think? Are our high poverty schools being set up for yet another round of condemnations without proper leadership? Aren’t we ready for new union leadership in PGCPS? How should we — and our FUTURE NEW union leaders — respond? What are your views especially with our current unions here in PG County which seem not to work anymore and appear to be serving special interests? What about ASASP, MSEA , PGCEA and other unions who seem to be involved in corrupt enterprise a long with Thatcher Law firm? What role should our law makers play in creating accountability for all players in this mess? What about the failed grievance system in PGCPS? Any ideas?

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The most important thing in communication is to hear
what is not being said.

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Impunity and injustices have permeated all spheres of our society. We are really in a sorry state of affairs.