Tag Archives: Politics:

Student hospitalized, 3 others ill after drug-laced brownies brought to Prince George’s Co. school

– A student at Charles H. Flowers High School is facing charges after brownies that may have been laced with synthetic marijuana were brought onto campus Friday, Prince George’s County police say.

One student was transported to a local hospital and three other students reported feeling ill after they consumed the brownies at the beginning of the school day.

 “We identified a student here today who brought in a brownie to school,” said Prince George’s County Police Cpl. Lamar Robinson. “We believe that brownie contained suspected synthetic marijuana. That student gave a brownie to a few students in the school. One student went to the classroom and fell ill. That student then in turn went to the nurse, and the nurse advised she go to the hospital. She was assessed, evaluated and then released.”

The three students who did not need to be hospitalized were later picked up by their parents, according to school officials.

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Candidate forum for State Attorney and County Council at -Large Candidates.

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THE MARYLAND STATE SENATE HAS A METOO PROBLEM

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The greatest harasser in the capital: the Senate President Mike Miller.

By Jeffrey Peters, PhD

The Maryland Senate has a MeToo problem. For years, State Senators have treated staff, interns, reporters, and lobbyists as their play toys, saying and acting in inappropriate ways without any fear of reprisal. Hypocritically, Democrat State Senators are willing to name lobbyists as possible harassers, but not one has bothered to name, or demand the resignation, of the greatest harasser in the capital: the Senate President.

The Senate President’s inappropriate comments and behavior has been well-known for over a decade. Bringing up the topic to even new legislators is met with knowing nods and tight smiles, mostly due to everyone knowing that the king has no clothes but all thinking that nothing can be done about it. But the culture of harassment is damaging to all in the State House.

For all their talk about women’s rights, the Maryland Democrats have done nothing to protect female staffers, interns, and lobbyists in Annapolis. I worked as a staffer in the Maryland House of Delegates for 4 session under two female Delegates, and there was plenty of harassment towards myself and other male staff during that time. Legislators treated young staff, regardless of their gender, as playtoys. The most innocent limit themselves to trying to set staff up with other staff, playing matchmaking games. Others would not limit themselves. I don’t have to try too hard to imagine how worse it would have been if I were a woman.

The culture of sex and harassment is a well-worn topic among staff and legislators, but it is mostly treated with bemusement. From my first day working in Delegate Nancy Stocksdale’s office, I began to hear the stories: various officials who would try to pressure others into having sex with them and their levels of success. Some staffers told me first-hand accounts of catching various willing individuals acting inappropriately in stairwells or backrooms, and others walking in just at the right moment to ensure a preyed upon individual could escape. It seemed that more politicians cared about “getting laid” than doing their job.

It did not take long until I started seeing the behavior, and I found it deeply unsettling. I worked with my former office mate to turn our office into a safe space. We offered actual help and advice to interns and young staff regardless of gender and party without asking for anything in return. Quickly, we became a hub on the third floor, a safe haven. This led to more direct exposure of the harassment.

I will not name them to protect their privacy, two female staff members from very different backgrounds and positions came to me for help. One, a Democrat, would ask that I accompany her in the hall way to help protect her from the harassment of various legislators, especially one still represents the DC/Southern Maryland region. On multiple occasions, I witnessed inappropriate comments, including unwanted “flirtation” that clearly made her uncomfortable. He was not the only one, but he was the most consistent offender. I notified various Democrat members of the House of Delegates who were on the floor and I worked with before. Most shrugged the behavior off or said they would do something and never did. The behavior never stopped.

The other staffer was constantly pursued by a then State Senator. The Senator’s advances were more physical and forceful. He tried to convince her that she was his property and to do whatever sexual act he wanted. She was not the only one he was pursuing, and his behavior was not even limited to young, powerless staffers like her. During Sine Die after she left, the staff was busy trying to ensure that he was unable to be in the same room with an older, married staffer that he was desperate to have. It was obscene and disturbing to many, yet complaints were met with silence by the leadership.

While he still pursued staff, the State Senator would brag about the sexual activity of the State Senate. He, from the Eastern Shore, would tell those he pursued about how common sex with staff was. He bragged that he was constantly talking with a then Senator from Western Maryland, a then Senator from Montgomery County, and the Senate President about their various conquests. They would sit in the Senate Cloak Room and discuss which staff was attractive and which were easy. They would also swap pills and discuss best ways to get laid. It was a frat house of the worse kind.

It may seem like the former Senator could have lied, but the affairs and inappropriate actions by the other two Senators became well-known during their campaigns in 2014. All three lost their positions due to their sexual impropriety. The only one that is still there, of his group of friends, is the Senate President.

Even if the Senate President did not harass anyone on his own (which anecdotal conversations suggest otherwise), he stood by and did nothing as his Senators were using their positions of power to force staff into sexual relationships with them. The current State Senate knows of this issues, and the only ones wanting to do anything refuse to take direct action. Instead, they want more committees and more hearings, yet not one bothered to contact any of the well-known staff who were harassed because they know it would force them to take direct action against certain people in power.

The Maryland State Senate has a MeToo problem, and that wont change until the culture of harassment is purged from Annapolis. That requires the Senate President and most of the Democratic leadership to step down due to their standing by as harassment happens or actively participating in that harassment.

via News and times.com

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PGCPS CEO Dr. Kevin Maxwell meets with Md. State Board of Education to discuss grade-fixing audit

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Prince George’s County Public Schools CEO Dr. Kevin Maxwell

Prince George’s County Public Schools CEO Dr. Kevin Maxwell
BALTIMORE – The head of Prince George’s County Public Schools faced the Maryland State Board of Education Tuesday, the first time since a troubling state audit showed grade-fixing and policy violations allowed students to graduate without meeting state requirements.

At the hearing, state board members pressed Dr. Kevin Maxwell on the root causes of the findings and whether there has been a shift in culture in the school system.

“It seems like something is going on here,” said Maryland State Board of Education President Andrew Smarick. “I don’t want to go too far, but it seems like some signal, something is happening to suggest to schools, to teachers, to someone, ‘We gotta graduate these students irrespective of some of these rules we have.’ And that is what I have been grappling with here.”

Smarick noted some of the most outstanding audit findings — grade changes that could not be verified, late changes to student transcripts and students graduating despite more than 50 unexcused absences.

In response to questions about the driving forces behind the audit findings, Maxwell spoke about staff confusion on grade change forms, lack of automation, high staff turnover and people who were not clear on policies. He emphasized the audit found no intimidation or fraud by him or his staff.

After the hearing, FOX 5 asked him again about the underlying causes of the problems uncovered.

“The audit, I think, gave us a very good roadmap to the fact that there are some issues that need clarification, there are some procedures that need to be updated, there is a lot of training and there are some compliance issues,” Maxwell said.

At one point, a school board member asked whether emphasis on graduation rates by the state and federal government was to blame, but Maxwell did not agree that outside pressure was a factor.

Maxwell and his staff outlined their plan to correct what was found by the audit and the ways the school district is tightening up policies, putting more oversight in place and retraining staff.

Janna Parker, a Prince George’s County community member who attended the meeting, said the plan is a good first step, but feels what she did not see from Maxwell was accountability at the top.

“I think when you base any plan on not fully accepting accountability or placing the accountability on who and where it needs to be, it’s flawed plan,” Parker said.

When asked about Gov. Larry Hogan’s recent statement that some of what is going on in Prince George’s County Public Schools is criminal, Maxwell said he did not agree with the governor.

Smarick said the state board is now going to decide how and if the state will intervene in the school system and what is legally possible. He said there should be decisions made by the next meeting in February.

There could be another audit, and while there has been no public talk of the state taking over Prince George’s County Public Schools, it is something that’s happened in other states.

After the meeting on Tuesday, the state released graduation rates for districts across the state. Prince George’s County had a record high of 82.7 percent for 2017.

via Fox 5DC Read more >>>Washington Post

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Governor Hogan refuses to sign off on Maryland education plan

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Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan poses with a bill during a bill signing ceremony in Annapolis, Md., Tuesday, April 12, 2016, the day after the closing of the 2016 legislative session. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Gov. Larry Hogan is refusing to endorse the Maryland school board’s plan for helping low-performing schools, saying state board members were hamstrung by a new law limiting what the plan can include.

The General Assembly passed legislation this year that limits ways the state can try to reform its lowest-performing schools — those in the bottom 5 percent. The Republican governor vetoed that bill, but the Democratic-controlled legislature overrode him.

In a letter sent this week to U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Hogan wrote that the state board could not craft a sufficient plan under the “impossible circumstances” imposed by the state law. All states must submit plans for improving low-performing schools to comply with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act.

Hogan’s signature is not required for state education officials to send the plan to the federal government for review. They still intend to submit the plan Monday, a spokesman for the Maryland State Department of Education said.

The Protect Our Schools Act passed by the Assembly this year prohibits the state school board from requiring test scores to count for more than 65 percent of a school’s performance ranking. And it would prevent the state from taking several actions to improve those schools, including converting them to charter schools, bringing in private management, giving the students vouchers to attend private schools or putting the schools into a special statewide “recovery” school district.

In a letter to state school board President Andy Smarick, Hogan wrote that the legislation resulted in a plan that will preserve “the status quo in failing schools.”

But some education advocates were quick to criticize the governor for not backing the school board’s plan.

By not supporting the plan, Hogan is disregarding months of feedback from parents and nonprofit organizations, said Sean Johnson, legislative director of the Maryland State Education Association, the union for public school teachers.

Maryland board approves new rating system for schools
“I hope the strong support from all of those stakeholders makes clear that Maryland is really committed to meaningful and positive education reforms — even if it’s not the privatization and test-and-punish approach that I guess Larry Hogan would rather champion,” Johnson said.

Some state school board members, nearly all of whom were appointed by Hogan, have chafed at the legislation and supported Hogan’s veto. Some members had suggested using more radical measures to reform failing schools, including turning them over to charter school operators.

Smarick said although members disagreed with the Protect Our Schools Act, they “had to follow the letter of the state and federal law. That was our job.”

Senate Minority Leader J.B. Jennings said the state law unfairly limits options for improving struggling schools.

“The Democratic leadership pushed through a horrible piece of legislation that, in my mind, didn’t put kids first. It put special interests first,” said Jennings, a Republican who represents parts of Harford and Baltimore counties.

The U.S. Department of Education reviews each state’s plan for improving struggling schools and can recommend changes. Though Hogan’s signature is not required on the document, its absence will signal to federal officials that he doesn’t support it.

Hogan vetoes bill limiting Maryland school reforms
Gov. Larry Hogan visited Baltimore Collegiate School for Boys to announce his veto of legislation that would limit some school reforms. (Baltimore Sun video)
“I worry that he’s, in a sense, encouraging Betsy DeVos to reject the plan, which puts $250 million worth of federal funding at risk,” said Del. Eric Luedtke, a lead sponsor of the Protect Our Schools Act. He’s also a former public school teacher.

DeVos has been a champion of offering families alternatives to traditional neighborhood public schools, such as charter schools and vouchers that allow students to attend private schools.

The federal government so far has not rejected any state plans, but has suggested changes to some.

“More fundamentally, he’s kind of doubling down on this right-wing school reform agenda,” said Luedtke, a Montgomery County Democrat. “I think somebody needs to explain to the governor there are more ways to improve schools than privatization.”

Sen. Craig Zucker, another sponsor of Protect Our Schools, suggested that the governor is favoring politics over schoolchildren.

“This has always been about Maryland educators and Maryland students. This isn’t about the governor. This is about the future of our children,” said Zucker, a Montgomery County Democrat. “This was a well-thought-out piece of legislation where Maryland can be a leader in terms of education reform.”

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker similarly refused to sign his state’s plan for low-performing schools.

“Your bureaucratic proposal does little to challenge the status quo for the benefit of Wisconsin’s students,” Walker wrote to state superintendent Tony Evers. Evers is one of several Democrats running for Wisconsin governor in 2018 against Walker, a Republican.

via Baltimore Sun

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Lawmaker wants to censure Md. Senate President Mike Miller for Bad leadership.

An African American state senator from Maryland wants to censure Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. for his defense of Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, author of the infamous Dred Scott decision, whose statue was removed from the State House grounds last week.

Sen. C. Anthony Muse (D-Prince George’s), who is running for county executive in 2018 and would give up his Senate seat if he won, said the legislative chamber needs to send “an unequivocal message” to Miller (D-Calvert) that it does not agree with his support of Taney. The justice’s 1857 opinion said blacks could not be U.S. citizens and had no rights other than those given by whites.

“In light of the tragic and violent events in Charlottesville and concerns about promoting and inciting a climate of racial hatred and division in our nation, I would hope that the majority of my colleagues will join me in strongly rebuking the senate president’s remarks as well as those expressed by President Trump and others who would defend what Justice Taney stood for,” Muse, who introduced a measure to remove the statue last year, said in a statement.

Jake Weissman, a spokesman for Miller, declined to comment.

Miller, the longest-serving Senate president in the country, is a member of the Maryland State House Trust, the four-member panel that voted 3 to 0 last week to remove the 145-year-old statue. The 46-year lawmaker, who has long defended the statue as an important piece of Maryland history, refused to vote.

He sent a letter to Gov. Larry Hogan (R) arguing that the panel, which traditionally votes by email, should have held a public meeting to discuss removing the statue.

Miller, an avid reader of history, also defended Taney’s character, describing him as a man with a “complex” past.

“Unlike George Washington who freed his slaves upon his death, Taney freed his slaves early in his life,” the letter said.

“Roger Brooke Taney was not a Confederate officer and he remained loyal to the Union until his death in 1864,” Miller wrote. “Many historians have debated the conflicting anti-slavery words and works of Roger Brooke Taney.”

Miller said he agreed with an 1864 editorial in the New York Times that Taney’s decision, “wrong as it was, did not spring from a corrupt or malignant heart.”

Via Washington Post 

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Gov. Larry Hogan (R) has been changing Maryland for the better. Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, author of the infamous Dred Scott decision, whose statue was removed from the State House grounds last week, the removal of the statue is the step in the right directions.

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Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., the longest-serving Senate president in the country, is a member of the Maryland State House Trust, the four-member panel that voted 3 to 0 last week to remove the 145-year-old statue. The 46-year lawmaker, who has long defended the statue as an important piece of Maryland history, refused to vote. Under Miller, institutional racism has been very high especially within state agencies.

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