Category Archives: transparency

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

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Maryland Legislature

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

OPINION

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

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

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Ads appear on Prince George’s County school system Web site.

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Visitors to the Prince George’s County school system’s Web site can learn about charter school applications, how to prevent and report bullying, and the implementation of new academic standards. But they also are likely to find advertisements for furniture stores and clothing stores, online university programs and insurance companies.

The ads — on the public school system’s main Web site — are placed by a Google AdSense program and are accompanied by a disclaimer that “Prince George’s County Public Schools does not endorse any messages, products or services presented in the ads below.” >>> Read More Washington Post

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OPINION

The way this article is written appears like Prince George’s County Public schools (PGCPS) Management is doing the right thing. However, a closer scrutiny reveals that, accountability and transparency initiatives started in PGCPS almost two years ago by the Maryland legislature are yet to be enforced. (Read more). Nevertheless,  after talking to several board members, they will tell you that, they themselves do not know what happens to the money once it comes in. As non profit organization, PGCPS which receives public funding should know better including the politicians involved irrespective of their rank.  Furthermore, considered they are on a governmental website, there should be full accounting to the public. We are talking of children money here and money being raised in the name of children only to disappear in thin air. Where is the common decency?

There is growing recognition both among governments, donors and civil society that citizens and communities have an important role to play with regard to enhancing accountability of public officials, reducing corruption and leakage of funds and improving public service delivery. As a result, Social Accountability has become an attractive approach to both the public sector and civil society for improving governance processes, service delivery outcomes, and improving resource allocation decisions. Over the last decade, numerous examples have emerged that demonstrate how citizens can make their voice heard and effectively engage in making the public sector more responsive and accountable. Scales of responsibility apply to all citizens and all institutions including all arms of the government which cannot escape accountability. Those complaining about the government  and civil society pointing out wrongs in PGCPS and Maryland Education system should read the Bible and the Constitution as well to understand what responsibility is all about.

Accountability is defined as the obligation of power-holders to account for or take responsibility for their actions. Power-holders refers to those who hold political, financial or other forms of power and include officials in government, private corporations, international financial institutions and civil society organizations (CSOs).

There might be a glimmer of hope that our society is changing and maturing somewhat. However, we are yet to see the results here in PGCPS District. And if we are able to extend compassion and mercy to fellow United States citizens, we should go one step further and extend it to non-US citizens, in particular migrant workers from other countries who perform arduous and dirty work that many Americans shun.

Civility must grow as society grows. It must become highly mobile and more interactive, be it via the media or through daily personal contact. We must show proper accountability even of the money collected through public websites like in PGCPS.

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Call your elected officials now and the media. Demand investigations and initiation of changes… There is no smoke without fire!!

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Dr. Maxwell (pictured above) was appointed to right wrongs but very little appears done to fix issues.

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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. Both leaders need to resign to create room for new leadership.

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Dr. Lillian Lowery Embattled State Superintendent is currently presiding over deep-seated corruption in Maryland school system. She has demonstrated a culture of discrimination and racism while on the job.

Figure 1 – Click here to see benefits of social accountability —->>>Figure 1

Figure 2 – Click here to see the Accountability Framework —->>> Figure 2

Figure 3 – Critical Factors for Social Accountability – See below.

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PGCPS Board narrowly approves…

…Maxwell’s budget request

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CEO Kevin Maxwell

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

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

OPINION.

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

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

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

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More states delay Common Core testing…

…as concerns grow

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Dr. Lillian Lowery Embattled State Superintendent is currently presiding over deep-seated corruption in Maryland school system. She has demonstrated a culture of discrimination and racism while on the job.

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Parents demonstration at Maryland state Board of Education

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

Open letter to Dr. Lowery and Dr. Charlene Dukes…

…regarding the transition panel

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Attached is an open letter to Maryland state Superintendent of schools Dr. Lillian Lowery and Maryland state Board of Education President Dr. Charlene Dukes by an advocate citizen of change concerning conflict of interest in regards to transitional panel in Prince George’s County schools. >>> Open letter to Dr. Lillian Lowery and Dr. Charlene Dukes

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.

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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.

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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

scholars blast Common Core…

… Catholic intellectuals write a letter to U.S. bishops

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About 130 Catholic scholars around the country have signed a hard-hitting letter to U.S. Catholic bishops denouncing the Common Core State Standards as doing “a grave disservice to Catholic education” and urging the bishops  to ignore the standards or, in the more than 100 dioceses that have already adopted them, to give them up.

The letter was sent by Gerard V. Bradley, a law professor at the University of Notre Dame, to every Catholic bishop in the country, with 132 scholars from various disciplines and institutions signing on.

It blasts the standards, saying they are “contrary to tradition and academic studies on reading and human formation,” and accuses Core proponents of seeking to “transform ‘literacy’ into a  ’critical’ skill set, at the expense of sustained and heartfelt encounters with great works of literature.” (That last part is apparently a reference to suggestions by Core opponents that the standards require English teachers to dramatically cut back on teaching literature, which isn’t true.) >>>> Read more Washington Post

OPINION.

Catholic schools often succeed because they don’t jump on educational bandwagons, such as this one. They rarely adopt change without first trying it out, and that’s a very wise thing to do.

This beautifully written letter, speaks to the heart and soul of what so many in the field are sensing about the so-called reform movement, led in great part, not by scholars but by captains of industry–it sees children not as unique individuals who should determine their own destiny, but as the fodder to be sorted into the job market. The great, irony of course, is that no one can predict what the jobs of the future will be for the kindergarten students of today.

Thank you dear scholars, for so beautifully expressing what the soul of this educator knows. Our society needs and wants TRUE educators, Not brain-washed child psychology hacks.

As articulated before, in essence, Folks, there’s no more doubt. Maryland state Board of Education is its own worst enemy and living to the claims of a state agency. It does not have the capacity and the expertise to do what is right for the children of the state of Maryland.  The time to act is now.  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. The future of Maryland state Board of Education is either radical reforms or a funeral. We must say “NO” to the latest shenanigans.

When you see us pushing for these things, we hope you will understand where we are coming from. We have seen freedoms taken away and opportunities frustrated and killed and we have learnt that if we sit back, nobody will apologize and say sorry. The powerful just move on while the poor and the weak suffer.

>>> 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)   Here’s hoping you will continue reading, getting educated and educating others.

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