Tag Archives: Politics:

Principal in Prince George’s County apologizes for saying n-word during Black History assembly

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Joy Morrow (Photo: New Hope Academy)

 – The principal of New Hope Academy in Hyattsville is apologizing after she says she used the n-word during a Black History assembly last week in front of a group of students.

Principal Joy Morrow said in a press release obtained by FOX 5 Tuesday, the school was scheduled to host its annual Black History assembly last Thursday when 40 minutes before its start the keynote speaker canceled.

That’s when she says she offered to recreate a talk she gave 25 years ago on “What Dr. Martin Luther King’s teaching meant in my life.”

Morrow, who grew up in Dubuque, Iowa, said she prefaced her talk with students in the sixth through 12th grades by drawing them closer, and explaining to them that she would “be giving them a testimony of how God worked in my life, through Dr. King’s teachings.”

She says she told the students she was going to use the n-word in her talk, which would explain what she experienced as a child who grew up in an “all white, racist community” in Iowa.

In her talk, Morrow says in Dubuque, “they were still burning crosses in the 1970s.” She says she explained to the students the language that was used during that time to “engender fear, hatred, and loathing of African Americans.”

Morrow says during this point in her talk she used the n-word “to explain what was said to me as a child, and the emotional fear it engendered. I talked about how such language is used to transmit hate to a young child.”

In hindsight, Morrow says “the n-word instead acted to distract some of the children rather than impacting the students to understand the negative power this word had on shaping a young child. For this reason and others, I regret using it.”

After the assembly, Morrow says it became clear that some of the children were troubled by her use of the n-word, despite the context she says it was used in.

The academy has since gathered groups and had sessions with both students and teachers, according to Morrow.

She says in each session, she “sincerely apologized that my use of the word made them feel disrespected, and detracted from the message I was trying to convey.”

FOX 5 spoke with the students about their thoughts on the controversy. Many did not want to go on camera.

“She shouldn’t have said it but I feel like it also got blown out of proportion at the same time,” said Josiah Faison.

Following this and controversial lessons at other area schools, Dr. David Ree, an associate history professor at Bowie State University told FOX 5 Tuesday that educators should collaborate more to make sure they’re dealing with sensitive topics appropriately.

“It involves dialoguing, I think, with the black community, because there are educators that teach these topics all the time,” said Reed. “We miss an opportunity to take young people and teach them lessons from the past to build a better, stronger future.”

Via Fox5 DC 

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Email campaign urges teachers across Maryland to consider leaving unions in wake of Supreme Court decision

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A Michigan-based “free market” think tank is emailing teachers across Maryland urging them to drop their union memberships in the wake of the Supreme Court decision that said public employees cannot be forced to pay union fees.

Teachers and union officials say they have been alarmed by the email campaign and question how its organizers gained access to school system email addresses.

The email from the “My Pay, My Say” campaign says government workers “now have a real choice when it comes to their unions. … Whether it’s disagreements about politics, concerns about a lack of local representation, problems with union spending or something else — you now have the right to stop paying for activities you don’t support.”

Rogie Legaspi, a seventh-grade life sciences teacher at Hamilton Elementary/Middle School, was puzzled when the email came to his school system address, which he keeps separate from a personal email account. It arrived shortly after the Supreme Court ruling in late June.

“This came through my work email, and how they did it was a puzzle to me,” said Legaspi, a Baltimore Teachers Union member for a decade. “It’s encouraging union members to give up their memberships, and they’re basically saying you can save a couple of dollars.”

The “My Pay, My Say” campaign was organized by The Mackinac Center for Public Policy, which describes itself as a nonpartisan research and educational institute that has long championed national issues of worker freedom. Its campaign was spurred by the federal justices’ 5-4 vote to overturn a 41-year-old precedent and rule that the 1st Amendment protects teachers, police officers and other public employees from being required to support a private group whose views may differ from theirs.

The court’s decision in Janus vs. AFSCME, seen as a setback for public sector unions, struck down laws in Maryland and other mostly Democratic-leaning states that allowed unions to negotiate contracts requiring all employees to pay a so-called fair share fee to cover the cost of collective bargaining, even those who opted out of membership.

Baltimore Teachers Union president Marietta English said the email blast is emblematic of a “drop the union” message right-wing groups are pushing in the wake of the court’s decision. But she said the effort is largely futile here, given that her union is now seeing its highest membership numbers ever: 95 percent.

“These billionaires are trying to cut out the voice of the working class,” she said. “It’s not working.”

Lagaspi echoed English.

“For me, the unions support the working class people and the very profession we love is protected,” Legaspi said. “It fights for a lot of things teachers want, such as full funding of schools.”

The Mackinac campaign has targeted public employees across the country, including teachers, police and fire workers and city and county employees, through email, social media and meetings, said Lindsay Killen, the institute’s vice president for strategic outreach and communications. Killen said the group has been building email contact lists for years, often obtaining the publicly available information through freedom of information requests.

“To the extent that union leaders are unhappy with the fact that we’re reaching out to workers in their school systems or places of work, we would assert that those individuals deserve to know what their rights are, and they have a choice,” said Killen, adding that the group stops short of encouraging workers to opt out of unions. “If unions are truly providing a valuable service to members, their members are more likely to stay, and they have nothing to fear from those members being armed with information about their rights.”

Mackinac is one of numerous groups that reportedly have launched public campaigns in the wake of the Janus decision, including Washington-based Freedom Foundation, the Commonwealth Foundation, the Yankee Institute for Public Policy and Americans for Prosperity. According to website Conservative Transparency, donors to Mackinac in 2014 and in prior years, have included the Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation, launched in 1989 by President Donald Trump’s education secretary and her husband.

In the days after the Janus decision, teachers throughout the state received “My Pay, My Say” emails, said Adam Mendelson, a spokesman for the Maryland State Education Association, which represents 74,000 members, teachers, support staff and administrators in all state jurisdictions except Baltimore.

They received “spam-type emails in their inboxes from billionaire-funded extremist political groups … to try to convince them to give away their voice and their contracts,” Mendelson said. “They don’t have educators and Maryland students’ best interests in mind.”

Mendelson said he heard from members in Anne Arundel, Frederick, Prince George’s, Carroll and Howard counties and from the Eastern Shore but did not know how many received the emails.

Annie Cumberland, a media specialist at Northwest Middle School in Carroll County, who received an email, said she wasn’t surprised that people were “already trying to bust up our unions” soon after the Janus decision. But she was upset to learn that the DeVos foundation made past contributions to the campaign’s organizer.

“This is someone who has a major, influential position in our country, who in one way or another is not supporting public education when that is her number one job,” Cumberland said.

English criticized The Mackinac Center for accessing teachers’ work email addresses and using them to try and sway opinions.

Edie M. House-Foster, the city schools’ spokeswoman, said the system did not provide teacher email addresses or sanction the letter.

“We don’t know how they got them,” she said.“They could have harvested them a variety of ways.”

In an email to teachers and staff following the “My Pay, My Say” email blast, the district said it is not affiliated with the sender and does not interfere in issues related to union membership.

English said no other anti-union materials have been reported to the BTU since the Janus decision. At the same time, the union has sent out emails and made house calls to teachers on the fence about becoming full members, urging them to remember that “we are stronger together.”

The union counts roughly 7,000 teachers and paraprofessionals as full members of the union. Prior to the Janus decision, about 450 people paid agency fees but were not full members, union officials said. Since the decision, 20 of those teachers have signed membership cards, and roughly 100 more have signaled their interest in joining the union.

English estimated the union will lose out on about $300,000 now that teachers aren’t compelled to pay those fees. The union has been bracing for this for years, as the Janus case wound its way through the court system.

The union doesn’t anticipate any vital programming will be cut. Rather, the group has been implementing proactive cost-saving measures, like letting vacancies go unfilled.

It’s not surprising that such a campaign would focus on teachers, who are among the most identifiable of public sector unionized employees, said Michael Hayes, a labor law professor at the University of Baltimore.

The friction between unions and anti-union opponents stretches back decades, but has become more partisan in recent years, Hayes said.

“Now it’s a given that public sector unions support Democrats and opponents will support Republicans,” Hayes said. “It’s quite a tug of war we’ve got going.”

Jimmy Gittings, president of the city school system administrators’ union, said no anti-union messaging has been reported since the Janus decision. Sgt. Clyde Boatwright, president of the city school police union and vice president of the state Fraternal Order of Police, said he hasn’t heard of any anti-union messaging in either capacity.

“We haven’t faced that issue at all,” Boatwright said.

The Janus case grew out of a Supreme Court decision in 1977 that said public employees may not be forced to pay union dues if some of the money went for political contributions. At the time, the justices upheld the lesser “fair share” fees on the theory that all employees benefited from a union contract and its grievance procedures.

The current, more conservative court disagreed last month and said employees have a right not to give any support to a union. These payments were described as a form of “compelled speech,” which violates the 1st Amendment.

The anti-union National Right to Work Foundation, which funded the challenge, predicted the ruling would free more than 5 million public employees from supporting their unions.

Richard Vatz, a Towson University professor of rhetoric and communication, said a weaker union would have an effect on teacher pay.

“It reduces the bargaining power,” he said.

Despite that, he said he supports the Janus decision.

“I think it is wrong particularly of that profession that they sacrifice academic freedom to increase the efficacy of their bargaining power,” he said.

Mackinac’s Killen said it’s too soon to know the campaign’s impact. But so far, she said, thousands of people in all 50 states have visited the website for information or to fill out a form, customized for each state, to opt out of a union.

Hayes said the effectiveness of the “My Pay, My Say” campaign will vary from area to area.

“They might make more headway in Western Maryland and the Eastern Shore than the city of Baltimore,” he said.

Via Baltimore Sun

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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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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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