Tag Archives: Corruption in Education

PGCPS Eisenhower Middle School students out of control and Drug use is a concern.

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John Mangrum is the principal at Dwight D. Eisenhower Middle School, he sixth principal at the school. (Photo courtesy)

Laurel, Md. (Reform Sasscer) – Ask anyone who has worked in some of America’s failing public schools and nearly all of them will tell you the same thing: The biggest problem isn’t the quality of the teachers. It’s the behavior of the kids: angry, disruptive, and disrespectful kids whose behavior is out of control. This is true not only in the poor schools in the inner cities, but in schools in the largely white rural parts of the US as well. The kids themselves are only partly to blame — students, after all, are what adults make them. The ongoing fiasco at Bladensburg High School is a tip of the iceberg in Prince George’s county. Parents, staff and students must demand answers and the county citizenry must stand in solidarity to create proper reforms.

After our reports earlier this year concerning Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) Eisenhower Middle School, reports reaching Reform Sasscer Movement indicate that, the same School is out of control. According to the information received by several sources who did not want to be identified, “kids told the staff they were running the halls because they did it last year and still passed to the next level,” stated one concerned member.

The principal told the teachers recently to address people outside of the classroom before they address him. He is afraid to run the school. There are concerns that new teachers receive little to no support. There are reports that the Instructional Director (ID) has been watching and it’s possible that she knows of the situation but is powerless.

Last month during parent-teacher conferences, the Principal told several staff that they were not permitted to go to the restroom against the union rules. He wanted the teachers to meet with more parents and thought they would leave early. The principal has allegedly turned several staff members away, but one Mrs. Johnson kept walking and went on. She had to go to the bathroom according to the reports received. During the same conferences, a lot of parents were complaining about all the bullying going on at the school.  However, President Theresa Dudley of Prince George’s County Education Association (PGCEA) has failed to respond to many challenges affecting teachers in the county including at Eisenhower Middle School, Bladensburg High School and others due to all conflicts of interests she is engaged in.

Recently a parent complained that she came to the school and saw students twerking on desks. New teachers are not being supported and they want to leave the teaching profession all together because of the lack of support. The principal, Mr. Mangrum, can do better according to the staff members who shared their concerns.

Inadequate Monitoring

Corruption thrives where principals (the rank and file) cannot effectively control their agents (union officers) or hold them accountable. External monitoring of union officers is weak as seen in Prince George’s County. Past reports concerning union corruption have pointed out that “it is all too easy for racketeers to control and exploit, in part because there is no effective mechanism for policing internal union affairs. The Landrum-Griffin Act was passed in an attempt to assure that workers would be represented by democratic unions” (Goldstock et al. 1990, 49).

In the 1980s, congressional hearings surfaced sharp criticism of the Department of Labor’s failure to monitor unions and their pension and welfare funds effectively (Jacobs and Mullin 2003). Because the Department of Labor’s “primary mission is to resolve labor-management problems [,] this necessarily requires good working relations with high-ranking labor officials, and makes investigating and enforcing the complaints . . . against top labor officials at best awkward and, at worst, a conflict of interest” (Goldstock et al. 1990, 181).

Drug Use at Eisenhower Middle School

Smoking weed in the bathroom is a common occurrence. Parents and teachers smell it when they enter. Many teenagers try marijuana and some use it regularly. Teenage marijuana use is at its highest level in 30 years, and today’s teens are more likely to use marijuana than tobacco. Many states allow recreational use of marijuana in adults ages 21 and over. Recreational marijuana use by children and teenagers is not legal anywhere in the United States. Today’s marijuana plants are grown differently than in the past and can contain two to three times more tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the ingredient that makes people high. The ingredient of the marijuana plant thought to have most medical benefits, cannabidiol (CBD), has not increased and remains at about 1%.

There are many ways people can use marijuana. This can make it harder for parents to watch for use in their child. These include:

  • Smoking the dried plant (buds and flowers) in a rolled cigarette (joint), pipe, or bong
  • Smoking liquid or wax marijuana in an electronic cigarette, also known as vaping
  • Eating “edibles” which are baked goods and candies containing marijuana products
  • Drinking beverages containing marijuana products
  • Using oils and tinctures that can be applied to the skin

Parents and Prevention
Parents can help their children learn about the harmful effects of marijuana use. Talking to your children about marijuana at an early age can help them make better choices and may prevent them from developing a problem with marijuana use later. Begin talking with your child in an honest and open way when they are in late elementary and early middle school. Youth are less likely to try marijuana if they can ask parents for help and know exactly how their parents feel about drug use.
Tips on discussing marijuana with your child:

  • Ask what they have heard about using marijuana. Listen carefully, pay attention, and try not to interrupt. Avoid making negative or angry comments.
  • Offer your child facts about the risks and consequences of smoking marijuana.
  • Ask your child to give examples of the effects of marijuana. This will help you make sure that your child understands what you talked about.
  • If you choose to talk to your child about your own experiences with drugs, be honest about why you used and the pressures that contributed to your use. Be careful not to minimize the dangers of marijuana or other drugs, and be open about any negative experiences you may have had. Given how much stronger marijuana is today, its effect on your child would likely be much different than what you experienced.
  • Explain that research tells us that the brain continues to mature into the 20s. While it is developing, there is greater risk of harm from marijuana use.

Sometimes parents may suspect that their child is already using marijuana. The following are common signs of marijuana use:

  • Acting very silly and out of character for no reason.
  • Using new words and phrases like “sparking up,” “420,” “dabbing,” and “shatter”
  • Having increased irritability.
  • Losing interest in and motivation to do usual activities.
  • Spending time with peers that use marijuana.
  • Having trouble remembering things that just happened.
  • Carrying pipes, lighters, vape pens, or rolling papers.
  • Coming home with red eyes and/or urges to eat outside of usual mealtimes.
  • Stealing money or having money that cannot be accounted for.

Effects of Marijuana
Many teenagers believe that marijuana is safer than alcohol or other drugs. When talking about marijuana with your child, it is helpful to know the myths and the facts. For example, teenagers may say, “it is harmless because it is natural,” “it is not addictive,” or “it does not affect my thinking or my grades.”

However, research shows that marijuana can cause serious problems with learning, feelings, and health.

Short-term use of marijuana can lead to:

  • School difficulties
  • Problems with memory and concentration
  • Increased aggression
  • Car accidents
  • Use of other drugs or alcohol
  • Risky sexual behaviors
  • Worsening of underlying mental health conditions including mood changes and suicidal thinking
  • Increased risk of psychosis
  • Interference with prescribed medication

Regular use of marijuana can lead to significant problems including Cannabis Use Disorder. Signs that your child has developed Cannabis Use Disorder include using marijuana more often than intended, having cravings, or when using interferes with other activities. If someone with Cannabis Use Disorder stops using suddenly, they may suffer from withdrawal symptoms that, while not dangerous, can cause irritability, anxiety, and changes in mood, sleep, and appetite.

Long-term use of marijuana can lead to:

  • Cannabis Use Disorder
  • The same breathing problems as smoking cigarettes (coughing, wheezing, trouble with physical activity, and lung cancer)
  • Decreased motivation or interest which can lead to decline in academic or occupational performance
  • Lower intelligence
  • Mental health problems, such as schizophrenia, depression, anxiety, anger, irritability, moodiness, and risk of suicide

Medical Marijuana
Some teens justify use of marijuana because it is used for medical purposes. Marijuana use with a prescription for a medical reason is called “medical marijuana.” Laws for medical marijuana are rapidly changing and are different from state to state. In some states, children of any age can get medical marijuana if they have a “qualifying medical condition.” There is very limited research supporting use of medical marijuana in children or teens for most conditions. In most states that allow medical marijuana, the marijuana is not regulated and therefore is not checked for ingredients, purity, strength or safety. There is no evidence that medical marijuana is any safer than other marijuana.

Cannabidiol (CBD)
Many parents have questions about CBD and how it may be helpful for their child. There is ongoing research on the use of CBD-containing products for conditions such as epilepsy, , PTSD, Tourette’s disorder, pain, and other diagnoses. For now, the use of CBD is only FDA-approved in children for specific forms of epilepsy and in adults for chemotherapy induced nausea and vomiting. At this time, there is  not enough evidence to recommend CBD for other uses, in children and adolescents including the treatment of autism and other developmental disorders. The approved CBD requires a prescription. Many stores sell CBD products. However, there are no safety and quality requirements for non-prescription CBD. They may have harmful additives or interfere with prescription medication. If you are considering using CBD for your child, please discuss this with their physician prior to starting to prevent harmful effects.

Conclusion

There are ongoing problems at PGCPS Eisenhower Middle School and other schools in the county in which teachers, parents, and students are affected. This is due to lack of support from the administration of CEO Monica Goldson and lack of professional development which has been stopped until further notice.

Marijuana use in teens can lead to long-term consequences. Teens rarely think they will end up with problems related to marijuana use, so it is important to begin talking about the risks with your child early and continue this discussion over time. Talking with your child about marijuana can help delay the age of first use and help protect their brain. If your child is already using marijuana, try asking questions in an open and curious way as your teen will talk more freely if not feeling judged. If you have concerns about your child’s drug use, talk with your child’s pediatrician or a qualified mental health professional.

In addition, the parents and Prince George’s County employees must demand action due to the Union shenanigans currently at play in Prince George’s County public Schools (PGCPS) and illegal interference of the Maryland court system. At the moment, local court system appears currently hijacked by the cartels tied to the union corruption due to lack of external monitoring of union officers in Maryland.

Call your local elected representatives  and state officials. Demand answers ASAP on PGCPS shenanigans led by PGCEA, MSEA, AFSCME International and ASASP Union corruption currently in progress in Prince George’s County! Demand corrective actions immediately. #Resist

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An email recently sent to PGCPS staff partly shown here means that, there will be no more professional Days (PD) during school day until further notice.

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PGCPS student robbed after being dropped off at wrong bus stop

kidbusLANDOVER, Md. – A Prince George’s County middle school student says after orientation day at his new school, his bus driver dropped him off at the wrong stop and he was robbed of his new Nike sneakers and cell phone.

The seventh grader’s mother says her son was left at Kenilworth Avenue and Eastern Avenue on Tuesday, which is nearly two miles from their home in Fairmount Heights.

Tameika Jackson didn’t want her 12-year-old son to be identified, but she let him speak with FOX 5 about what happened. He says a group of men approached him soon after he got off the bus.

“This one guy, he came up to me and then he said, ‘Give me your phone and then your shoes,'” the boy said. “And they were at least 20 years old, so I didn’t know what else to do. So I gave them my shoes and my phone. And after that, there was this one girl at the [Metro] bus stop, I walked up to her and asked her if I could use the phone to call my mom.”

The boy said he had told the bus driver where he lived, but was dropped off there anyway. Jackson says she is furious.

“I picked him up, he was barefoot, no shoes on,” she said. “And there was a bunch of junkies out there. He was upset, he was shaking and I just told him everything was going to be fine, but I will get to the bottom of it. And I brought him home. He says he doesn’t want to go back to school tomorrow.”

Jackson says she called FOX 5 because she couldn’t reach anyone at G. James Gholson Middle School in Landover where her son attends.

A Prince George’s County Public Schools spokesperson says they are now investigating what happened and alerted the school’s principal to the situation.

The principal later called Jackson and apologized, saying she will personally make sure the boy is on the correct bus headed to the correct location on Wednesday and in the days to come. The transportation director also contacted Jackson by phone Tuesday night.

Jackson says she never got bus information in the mail prior to the start of school, so her son’s father drove the boy to school Tuesday and spoke to school staff about which bus he was supposed to be on.

She says the child got on the bus he was told to ride. Jackson says she has an older child who attended Gholson and he got dropped off at a bus stop two blocks from their home.

“I’m to the point now that I don’t want to go to work the rest of the week because I want to make sure that he feels comfortable getting on the bus and getting off the bus,” Jackson said.

School officially starts on Wednesday in Prince George’s County, but some students had orientation on Tuesday.

via Fox5DC

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Democrat Michael Vaughn of Prince George’s resigns from state legislature

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Maryland state Del. Michael L. Vaughn (D-Prince George’s), shown standing at right, has resigned his seat. (Steve Ruark/Associated Press)

Longtime state Del. Michael L. Vaughn (D-Prince George’s) resigned Wednesday morning, less than an hour before the official start of the 2017 legislative session, citing health reasons.

His departure is the latest blow to Maryland Democrats, who have become embroiled in a long-running bribery and corruption investigation that U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein says involves “more than one” current lawmaker.

On Tuesday, Rosenstein announced that former Prince George’s council member and state delegate William A. Campos (D) had pleaded guilty to accepting bribes in exchange for official favors as part of that investigation.

Last week, federal authorities reported the arrests of a Prince George’s County liquor board commissioner, the executive director of that board and two liquor store owners, who are accused of paying bribes to influence state legislation and secure grant money and favorable regulatory decisions.

Vaughn’s two-sentence resignation letter was delivered to the office of House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel) Wednesday morning, shortly before the noon opening of the General Assembly’s annual legislative session.

There was no indication in the letter that Vaughn’s decision to leave the legislature was connected to the probe.

But the court filings from last week said that one elected official accused of accepting bribes, who is not named in the documents, voted in a 2015 House Economic Matters Committee hearing for a bill expanding alcohol sales in Prince George’s.

Eighteen members of the committee voted in favor of the bill, including Vaughn. Vaughn was the only Prince George’s lawmaker to vote yes. The court papers do not specify the lawmaker’s jurisdiction.

Vaughn has listed on state ethics disclosures that he receives income from the Joseph Smith and Sons scrap yard in Capitol Heights, Md., one of several locations where FBI agents searched for evidence last week.

Vaughn, 59, has not returned repeated calls or messages left at his home in Mitchellville in recent days. Numerous members of the Prince George’s delegation said they have sent him messages of support as word spread that his resignation was imminent, but had not spoken to him directly.

A spokeswoman for Busch declined to say Wednesday whether Vaughn’s resignation was linked to the investigation. In a statement released Tuesday night, after Campos’s guilty plea was announced, Busch said that he was “painfully disappointed that any member of the House of Delegates would compromise this institution and the public trust.”

“There is no room for this type of behavior in the House of Delegates,” his statement said. “Each of us needs to redouble our efforts to rebuild the trust with our constituents that has been compromised by the actions announced today.”

Vaughn was born in Tuskegee, Ala. He attended DuVal High School in Prince George’s County before receiving a bachelor’s degree from Southern University.

Since taking office in 2003, he has served on the Economic Matters Committee, which deals with bills that regulate alcohol, as well as banking, economic development, insurance and utilities. He has chaired the business regulation subcommittee for Economic Matters since 2007. In 2006, he was House deputy majority whip.

Vaughn supported 2015 legislation authorizing Sunday liquor sales in Prince George’s County, and a follow-up bill in 2016 that limited an expansion in the number of Sunday licenses to five.

The federal investigation unveiled last week accused David Son, a longtime Prince George’s liquor regulator who worked for his county’s senators in 2015, of arranging bribes from two liquor store owners to two elected officials for their work on the bills.

Del. Jay Walker (D-Prince George’s), the chairman of the county’s delegation, said in a statement that the lawmakers were “deeply disappointed” in the federal allegations of corruption and the assertion that current or former lawmakers were involved.

“The Prince George’s Delegation strives to meet the highest standard of legislative ethics,” Walker said. “These allegations should not reflect on the hard working members of the Prince George’s Delegation who are deeply committed to representing their constituents with integrity and independence.”

Walker said that he has not spoken to Vaughn in recent days.

Before being elected to the House, Vaughn worked in banking and finance, according to his official House of Delegates biography. He came under scrutiny for falsely claiming on his campaign website that he played football for the Dallas Cowboys for three years, which he retracted in 2010 after questioning from a Washington City Paper reporter.

He also worked in sales for Marriott Corporation and the Hilton Washington Embassy Row for a year. Vaughn currently owns ADDR Properties, a real estate company in Mitchellville, according to Maryland assessment records.

via Washington post

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Lynette Mundey became upset and was removed from the courtroom in handcuffs

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Lynette Mundey

UPPER MARLBORO, Md. — In what is turning out to be a bizarre and comical situation in search of justice, according to WTOP, a former board of education member in Prince George’s County (Lynette Mundey) who was convicted on Thursday  2/18/2016 of stealing from the school system, became upset and had to be removed from the courtroom in handcuffs, according to prosecutors.

Unable to regain her composure, the remaining guilty verdicts had to be read without Mundey in the courtroom. She was found guilty Thursday of collecting more than $1,700 worth of free and reduced lunches for her child between 2010 and 2015 even though she didn’t qualify for the lunch program. The convictions included felony theft, filing a false public assistance application, welfare fraud and several other charges.

 Sentencing is set for April 28. Mundey could face up to 49 years in prison.
 “It’s important to this community that we have people in place who lead in this county, who our citizens can trust,” said Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrooks.

Mundey was a federal employee of the Government Accountability Office and it was that agency that discovered the crime. Mundey was among six GAO employees found guilty of misusing the program, which is only available to families making less than $40,000 a year. The employees combined pulled in $13,000 worth of free and reduced lunches.

 “The convictions will remain on their records forever, which is important so that future employers will know what kind of individual they would be dealing with if they attempt to get hired by those agencies,” said prosecutor Jeremy Robbins.

When she was indicted, Mundey was making $93,000 annually as an education board member and a federal employee.

 For now, Mundey remains an employee of the GAO, spokesman Chuck Young said in an email to WTOP.

“We will be looking at her status in the wake of the fact she has now been found guilty,” Young said.

 According to Alsobrooks’ office, Barbara Rowley pleaded guilty to making a false statement on a public assistance application and is expected to receive a three-year suspended sentence, three years of probation and 50 hours of community service. She will have to pay $3,322 in restitution.

A jury found Jamilah Reid guilty of felony theft, welfare fraud and other charges. Reid is set to be sentenced Feb. 26.

 A judge found Tracy Williams guilty of felony theft, welfare fraud and other charges. Williams received a 3.5-year suspended sentence plus three years of probation and was ordered to pay $2,146 in restitution.

Charlene Savoy pleaded guilty to felony theft and was sentenced to three years of unsupervised probation, 100 hours of community service and was ordered to pay $781 in restitution.

 Terri Pinkney pleaded guilty to making a false statement on a public assistance application and is set to be sentenced on March 1, 2016. She is expected to receive a three-year suspended sentence, three years of probation, 50 hours of community service and to pay $1,737 in restitution.

Pinkney’s husband, James Pinkney, was originally charged with the scheme but the charges against him were dropped when his wife admitted to filling out the application, according to Alsobrooks’ office.

By Mike Murillo Via WTOP  Video by PGCTV

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Supreme Court majority is critical of compelled public employee union fees

111004_scotusjustices_ap_328United States Supreme Court justices.

By Robert Barnes

A majority of the Supreme Court on Monday seemed prepared to hand a significant defeat to organized labor and side with a group of California teachers who claim their free speech rights are violated when they are forced to pay dues to the state’s teachers union.

By their questioning at oral argument, the court’s conservatives appeared ready to junk a decades-old precedent that allows unions to collect an “agency fee” from nonmembers to support collective-bargaining activities for members and nonmembers alike.

It is the most important Supreme Court case of the year for unions and one of a clutch of politically charged cases that puts the justices in the spotlight as the nation turns its attention to the elections of 2016.

The case involves only public-employee unions — not private workers — but those unions are the strongest segment of an organized labor movement that is increasingly tied to the Democratic Party. At the same time, Republican governors across the nation have become embroiled in high-profile battles with the public-employee unions in their states.

Conservative groups have directly asked the court to overturn a 1977 decision, Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, that favored the unions. That ruling said that states could allow public-employee unions to collect fees from nonmembers to cover the costs of workplace negotiations but not to cover the union’s political activities.

The unions say losing those fees would be a heavy blow because there is no incentive for workers to pay for collective-bargaining representation they could receive for free. About 20 states, including California, allow what the unions like to call “fair-share” fees.

But conservative justices sharply questioned whether it was possible to separate public-employee negotiations from the kind of public policy questions — teacher salaries and classroom sizes, for instance, and the tax dollars that must be raised to pay for them — that are raised.

“When you are dealing with a governmental agency, many critical points are matters of public concern,” said Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who traditionally is the most likely of the court’s conservatives to join with liberals to form a majority.

Some teachers disagree with their unions on issues such as merit pay, promotion and the importance of seniority, Kennedy said.

The fees “require that employees and teachers who disagree with those positions must nevertheless subsidize the union on those very points,” he said.

It is not enough to argue that the teachers can speak out on their own as citizens, he said.

In the current case, union leaders were not counting on Kennedy but on another conservative, Justice Antonin Scalia.

Scalia in the past has expressed sympathy for the view that the unions needed to collect the fees to prevent “free riders” — those who benefit from the agreements that unions reach with government employers but who do not pay for the union’s costs. But he did not pose any questions Monday that favored the union’s view and said he shared Kennedy’s concerns.

“The problem is that everything that is collectively bargained with the government is within the political sphere, almost by definition,” he said.

He also questioned the contention that the unions would not survive without collecting the fees. Already, there are 25 states that do not require their collection, and Scalia said the unions should do a better job of persuading those eligible to join.

California Solicitor General Edward C. DuMont, who was aligned in the case with the teachers union, said the California unions already had extraordinary participation but prohibiting agency fees fights human nature.

“Many people can want something in the sense they view it as very advantageous to themselves, but if they are given a choice, they would prefer to have it for free, rather than to pay for it,” he said. “This is a classic collective-action problem.”

Oral arguments are not always predictive, but it seemed clear that DuMont, California Teachers Association attorney David C. Frederick and Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr., representing the Obama administration, were treading against the tide.

The court’s five conservatives in 2012 and 2014 had expressed grave doubts about whether the Abood decision had properly taken into account the First Amendment rights of the union objectors.

It has been the pattern of the court headed by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. to take incremental steps toward undermining a precedent with which it disagrees before delivering a final blow.

The court’s liberals said the challengers had not made the case for why the court should abandon a precedent rather than take the normal path of upholding it.

[Two teachers explain why they want to take down their union]

Justice Stephen G. Breyer said the Abood “compromise” had worked pretty well over the last 40 years. When the court starts overruling precedents, he said, “What happens to the country thinking of us as a kind of stability in ­­a world that is tough because it changes a lot?” Breyer asked.

Justice Elena Kagan also pushed that theme, telling Washington attorney Michael A. Carvin, who represented the objecting teachers, that he had a “heavy burden.”

“That’s always true in cases where somebody asks us to overrule a decision. It seems to be particularly true here,” Kagan said. “This is a case in which there are tens of thousands of contracts with these provisions. Those contracts affect millions of employees, maybe as high as 10 million employees. So what special justification are you offering here?”

Carvin replied that the strongest reason for overturning a precedent is when it “erroneously denies a fundamental right’’ — in this case, freedom of speech and association.

Kagan and other justices said the court’s precedents were clear that when government is acting as an employer, it can act as any employer in restricting employee rights.

Frederick argued for leaving the decision about requiring fees to the individual states, rather than forbidding the process. “Different states have different experiences, and this is an opportunity for the states to draw upon those distinctive experiences in coming up with a system that’s fair for everyone,” he argued.

There seemed to be two options if a majority disagreed with Abood but was reluctant to overturn the precedent.

The justices could remand the case to the lower courts. Carvin and his clients had raced through the lower courts in hopes of getting the case to the Supreme Court faster.

The justices could also change how the agency fees are collected. Currently, the fees must be paid, and then employees “opt out” of funding the union’s political activities and receive money back. Objecting employees say that minimizes the burden on them.

But there was limited questioning from the justices about whether such a change might be an alternative to overturning the system.

The case is Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association.

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The Cruel Charter School Addiction in Philadelphia

hite0Dr. William Hite Jr is involved in charter schools fiasco in Philly. The lure and promise of magic with millions of dollars squandered on charter schools that are no better–and often worse–than the public schools is an endless blame game which appears to have no end in sight.

Eileen DiFranco, a retired school nurse in Philadelphia, describes an episode from “The Twilight Zone” in which a sober family man encounters slot machines in Las Vegas and becomes an addict. He can’t help himself. He gambles everything and can’t stop.

She compares this gambling fever to the charter school addiction of districts like Philadelphia. No matter how many charter schools fail, the district leaders led by Dr. William Hite Jr want more of them. They are in love with the lure and promise of magic and they can’t stop. Meanwhile, the public schools suffer as do the children who attend public schools, while millions are squandered on charter schools that are no better–and often worse–than the public schools.

She writes:

With their “no excuses” mantra, highly paid charter school CEOs promise school administrators that they will bring students up to grade level in no time at all. It all sounds so attractive. And believable. School districts all over the country have been sucked in by this big, brash idea that sounds wonderful on paper, but has largely failed to deliver on its promises. This has not stopped the charter school operators from repeating their claim of educational superiority over and over again until it takes on the ring of truth.

But the reality is that the charter schools’ claims contain more “truthiness” than actual truth. According to Kevin Welner, director of the National Education Policy Center (NEPC), a national study by CREDO that many cited to tout the superior performance of charters actually found that “less than one hundredth of one percent (<0.01 percent) of the variation in test performance in reading is explainable by charter school enrollment.”

Let’s put that alleged 0.01 percent success rate into a Philadelphia perspective. The SRC has approved charter school establishment and expansion even while the traditional public schools languish. As children are injured, or even die, as did Laporshia Massey at Bryant Elementary, or as violence occurs, as it did at George Washington High School, the fault somehow lies with the resource-starved schools and not the SRC’s addiction to the lure of charter schools.

The underwhelming performance of charter schools for an overwhelming amount of money should set off alarms. Their quick solutions to educational woes follow the logic of past failures: Just hand over the money and we’ll do it all for you. In the end, however, there is only one certainty: If something is too good to be true, it is not the truth.

Several questions need to be asked about this scenario. The first is, why would the SRC allow the majority of Philadelphia’s children to attend dirty, unsafe schools without counselors, nurses, and assistant principals while other children clearly do not? Why is there hardly any discussion about this glaring disparity?

I have a couple of answers. The first is that there is a plan afoot to break public schools deliberately so that they can be handed over to charters. Thus, the SRC and Hite are wreaking havoc by deliberately deferring maintenance and cutting staff to dangerous levels in traditional schools. This practice effectively insures the failure that is necessary to hand over the now low-performing, intentionally broken “seats” over to more “successful” charter operators who feel justified in cutting into the resources available to District schools. This is being done in a calculated way in order to break the teachers’ union, the whipping boy of modern school reform.

The second is that District leaders and politicians are trying to appease elected officials in rural areas who perceive city schools and urban children as great leeches feeding off public dollars who divert resources away from more deserving populations. For them, giving more money to ”those” children in urban areas is like throwing money into a pit. The idea in the Pennsylvania House and Senate is that throwing money at schools doesn’t fix them, although they believe that having enough money fixes just about everything else.

The third is that the SRC has become the ball carrier for hedge fund managers for whom education is a place where they can make money. The fact that school reform is being led by MBAs rather than by educators is telling.

Philadelphia public schools are dying. Who will be held accountable? The legislature? Former Governor Tom Corbett? Superintendent William Hite?

The leaders are chasing a rainbow, bright promises that have never come through for the children. They are killing a democratic institution that society depends on and needs. Can they sleep at night?

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Md. may no longer technically be No. 1 in education

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Maryland’s superintendent of schools has no plans to take down dozens of signs in the windows of her agency’s headquarters that proclaim Maryland No. 1 in education. Likewise, Gov. Martin O’Malley is unlikely to stop bragging that Maryland is No. 1 in the nation, a point he made again Wednesday on Twitter.

But technically, Maryland cannot claim that distinction anymore. Education Week, a national education newspaper that has given Maryland schools the top mark for the past five years, has stopped ranking the states in its annual Quality Counts report. It was considered the most comprehensive ranking of the nation’s schools.

Released Thursday in a more streamlined version, the latest report focuses on just three categories, including student achievement, instead of the usual six. And unfortunately for Maryland’s politicians and education officials, in those three categories the state never hits No. 1 in the nation.

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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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