Category Archives: Support OFA’s work in Maryland

Violation of the constitution and the laws of the land.

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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.

Two individuals in our opinion have emerged as the faces of this new tyranny in Prince George’s county – Dr. Charlene Dukes and Dr. Lilian Lowery.

We have one message for them – you are living in the past. Your modern day repressive tactics will collapse.

The constitutional rights that Prince George’s county citizens are enjoying are a product of their struggle. These rights are not privileges bestowed by the state but are inherent by virtue of birth. The transition Committee controlled by these two individuals are holding the county at ransom through instilling a culture of fear, manipulation and corruption. Only a despotic regime without legitimacy deploys such tactics.

Their actions may be a pointer that the regime being fronted is in no mood to obey the constitution and the laws of the land. The Executive has no powers to unilaterally take away the rights and liberties of Prince George’s county citizens. It must demonstrate to the satisfaction of all that Prince George’s County is a total disaster under severe threat and ascertains it in accordance with the constitution. Individual liberty is indivisible. A citizen or any other resident for that matter should only be deprived of liberty only after a proper judicial process but not because of a political decision.

Prince George’s county citizens should remember Edmund Burke’s words, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”. It is the high time we took this emerging tyranny heads-on.

Please do not let Maryland go the way Prince George’s County Public Schools, (PGCPS) and the School District of Philadelphia, because they were caught off guard by the deceitful and conniving Board of Education. Parents, students, concerned citizens have to hold their school board representatives responsible. If they do not reform, let us show them the door. There is no future without responsibility and time representation.

This is a warning to Maryland citizens and Prince George’s County in particular – do not be complicit in the establishment of a dictatorship-in-the-making disguised as democracy. A tyrant cannot be a tyrant without a victim. Bystanders are necessary for the tyranny to emerge because thirst for power invariably accompanies one for publicity. Democracy is not about regular elections. Elections are necessary but not sufficient conditions for a true functioning of a robust democracy. What happens between elections and how the government of the day handles fundamental concerns of interest to the public matters greatly.

The new school leadership of Dr. kevin Maxwell – regardless of who is county Executive in the future – must demonstrate its commitment to getting rid of the rampant impunity which continues to undermine the rule of law, justice and security of Prince George’s county citizens. Dr. Maxwell came in promising to work with advocates of change and innovate the county through good ideas. However, the citizens who helped put him in power have been way laid and sidelined through unorthodox means.  Reforms which we advocated for seem to have effectively stalled and taken over by special interest led by one Dr. Charlene Dukes who is a suspect in corruption involving top leadership. To advance the cover up, PGCPS has enlisted the co-chair of Dr. Lilian Lowery Maryland state Supritendent of schools creating a conflict of interest.  Hence, advocates for good governance are being undermined by those who want to restore old order and emasculate changes. Maryland legislature must hold a hearing to verify what is going on. This must be their first task on their agenda in 2014. The time to act is now.

As articulated before,  We have got a runaway state board of education with no oversight, not subject to election, and doing reforms not subject to legislative review.  All without citizen input nor consent.  And wielding a billion dollar budget.

As expressed in the past, Mr. Rushern Baker’s biggest test is creating a smooth transition within the schools to include transparency and avoid appointing leaders from the old regime who caused problems in the first place. However, 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.

The elected officials – both at the national, state and county levels – must live up to their oaths of office in which they promised to defend and protect the constitution. They must ensure they engender policies which will ensure that all will access services without discrimination. The new leadership in Prince George’s County public schools led by Dr. Kevin Maxwell and mid-wifed by County Executive Rushern Baker must prevent human rights violations. Prince George’s County citizens in United States want a transformed county!

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Dr. Kevin Maxwell

>>> Attend Opponents Common Core protest at MSDE…on November 18, 2013. Call your elected officials now and the media. Demand changes due to Maryland State Board of Education leaders involved in corruption and abuse of power. (video)

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“The most authentic thing about us is our capacity to create, to overcome, to endure, to transform, to love and to be greater than our suffering.” — Ben Okri

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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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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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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Md.’s teacher certification law criticized…

…Study says requiring a master’s is causing teacher shortages in key subjects

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By Liz Bowie,

The Baltimore Sun

7:20 p.m. EDT,

September 6, 2013

After a stint in the military and on his way to earning a bachelor’s degree  in physics from the University  of Maryland, Baltimore County, Rory Holderness decided he wanted to become a  high school teacher.

He enrolled in Towson  University‘s graduate program for teachers three years ago but soon became  frustrated with classes that he believed were more aimed at grooming elementary  reading teachers than someone who hoped to be teaching physics to 16-year-olds.  He dropped out.

“The whole system was pretty frustrating,” said Holderness, who might have  ended up with a career in a classroom instead of working for AT&T had he  found the route to becoming a licensed teacher easier.

A recent report by the Calvert Institute for Policy Research found that  becoming certified to teach in Maryland is so burdensome that it is causing  teacher shortages in key subjects such as science, math and special education.  And the report suggests that the state should alter some of its teacher  certification requirements to open up the field to a larger number of  candidates.

“Maryland’s teacher certification policies are ill-conceived and  counterproductive, particularly when compared to many other states’  certification policies,” said Christopher Ryan, the report’s author.

Read more: http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/education/bs-md-teacher-certification-20130829,0,5261314.story#ixzz2eFuzT4rq

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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