Tag Archives: public schools

Md. Governor Larry Hogan appoints Jazz Lewis for delegate open seat

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Organizer and campaign staffer Jazz Lewis has been nominated to fill the vacant District 24 delegate seat.

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan has appointed Jazz Lewis, a staffer for Congressman Hoyer, to fill Prince George’s County’s District 24 delegate seat. The seat was left vacated after Michael Vaughn resigned.

According to officials, Vaughn resigned from his position in the House of Delegates on Wednesday, January 11, 2017 following massive public corruption involving public officials engaged in liquor fraud.

“I am confident that Jazz Lewis is prepared to use his expertise to serve his constituents in Prince George’s County,” Governor Hogan said in statement sent to the press. “I offer him my sincere congratulations and look forward to working with him to change Maryland for the better.”

Lewis will represent District 24, serving Prince George’s County. Lewis currently serves as the executive director for Congressman Steny Hoyer’s campaign office. He has been involved in multiple political campaigns including Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign and Senator Ben Cardin’s 2012 campaign.

Lewis, 27, is a Glenarden resident and himself a previous member of the Prince George’s County central committee. He is also an Eagle Scout, an active member of the Greater 202 Coalition.

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Ex-PGCPS School Aide Pleads Guilty to Sexual Abuse of at Least 11 Students

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Deonte Carraway, 22

GREENBELT, Md. – A former elementary school volunteer in Prince George’s County appeared in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt, Maryland, Monday morning and entered a guilty plea in connection with a child pornography case that shocked the county’s school system.

Deonte Carraway, 23, pleaded guilty to all 15 federal counts of sexual exploitation of a minor to produce child pornography. He faces 60 to 100 years in prison when he is sentenced in June.

Carraway admitted to directing young students to engage in sexual activity with each other and with himself. Federal prosecutors say he used cellphones to record the sexual acts, had victims send him pornographic videos and photos and also sent child pornography to victims.

The sexual acts occurred at several locations including Judge Sylvania Woods Elementary School and inside private homes, according to prosecutors.

Police arrested Carraway last year after a family member of one of the victims discovered nude images on the victim’s phone and reported it to authorities. Federal prosecutors outlined their case against Carraway Monday, saying he had victimized at least 12 children between the ages of 9 and 13 between October 2015 and February 2016.

In addition to the federal case, Carraway faces 270 Maryland charges related to child abuse and child pornography. The local charges were pending as the federal case unfolded, and it is not clear if Carraway will enter a guilty plea in connection with them.

Between the local and federal cases, prosecutors believe he is responsible for abusing at least 23 children between the ages of 9 and 13.

The case caused outrage among parents who have filed lawsuits against the school system, claiming administrators did not do enough to stop Carraway.

School leaders established a student safety task force in response to the case last year. In May, the task force released a report and education officials announced they would set up a new office of accountability and would roll out dozens of policy, training and even curriculum changes in an effort to protect students from physical and sexual abuse at the hands of adults they are supposed to trust.

via WTOP
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Bipartisan group of state lawmakers calls for big changes to improve U.S. public schools

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A new federal law has returned considerable power to shape public education to the states.

By Emma Brown August 9 at 12:11 PM

What will it take for U.S. schools to improve — not incrementally, but dramatically?

That’s the question that a bipartisan group of state lawmakers from around the country set out to answer two years ago, when they embarked on a study of the world’s highest-performing school systems. They compiled their answers in a report released Tuesday at the annual summit of the National Conference of State Legislatures.

“The bad news is most state education systems are falling dangerously behind the world in a number of international comparisons,” says the report. “The good news is, by studying these other high-performing systems, we are discovering what seems to work.”

The group examined 10 nations that fare well on international comparisons, including China, Canada, Singapore, Estonia, Japan, Poland and Korea, and discovered common elements: strong early childhood education, especially for disadvantaged children; more selective teacher preparation programs; better pay and professional working conditions for teachers; and time to help build curriculum linked to high standards.

It also says that high-performing countries tend not to administer standardized tests annually, as the United States does, but instead at key transition points in a student’s career. The assessments emphasize essays over multiple-choice in an effort to gauge students’ complex thinking skills, according to the report. And the tests cost more than states are used to paying for standardized tests, but “these countries prioritize this investment as a small fraction of the total cost of their education system, knowing that cheaper, less effective, less rigorous assessments will not lead to world-class teaching or high student achievement.”

The report — which comes as a new federal education law returns considerable power to shape public education to the states — urges state lawmakers to build a coherent vision for better schools instead of adopting piecemeal reforms.

“Education is first and foremost a state responsibility. Each state can develop its own strategies for building a modern education system that is globally competitive, similar to the approach taken by other high-performing countries,” the report says. “But we must begin now. There’s no time to lose.”

The report does not address some of the more controversial and partisan issues that state legislatures face, such as the role of charter schools, vouchers and other school-choice initiatives.

The report’s findings echo many of the ideas that teachers unions support. Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, praised the bipartisan committee, saying it had “set aside political ideologies to work together for what’s best for students and educators.”

The new federal education law, the Every Student Succeeds Act, “creates an educational reset, with the states now being the movers and shakers,” Weingarten said. “This is a rare opportunity in the United States to look at some of the best international practices and apply them here.”

Here are the members of the committee that worked on the report:

State legislators
Rep. Robert Behning, Ind.
Rep. Harry Brooks, Tenn.
Rep. Tom Dickson, Ga.
Rep. Ken Dunkin, Ill.
Sen. Joyce Elliot, Ark.
Sen. John Ford, Okla.
Rep. Eric Fresen, Fla.
Rep. Lynn Gattis, Alaska
Rep. Mary Stuart Gile, N.H.
Rep. Wendy Horman, Idaho
Rep. Betty Komp, Ore.
Sen. Peggy Lehner, Ohio
Sen. Rich Madaleno, Md.
Sen. Luther Olsen, Wis.
Rep. Alice Peisch, Mass.
Sen. Robert Plymale, W.Va.
Rep. Sharon Tomiko Santos, Wash.
Rep. Jacqueline Sly, S.D.
Sen. David Sokola, Del.
Sen. Howard Stephenson, Utah
Rep. Roy Takumi, Hawaii
Sen. Joyce Woodhouse, Nev.

State legislative staff
Ben Boggs, legislative analyst, Ky. legislature
Todd Butterworth, senior research analyst, Nev. legislature
Rachel Hise, lead principal analyst, Md. legislature
Julie Pelegrin, assistant director of the office of legislative legal services, Colo. legislature
Phil McCarthy, senior analyst, Maine legislature
Anita Thomas, legal counsel, N.D. legislature

NCSL education staff
Julie Davis Bell, group director
Michelle Exstrom, program director
Lee Posey, federal affairs counsel
Madeleine Webster, policy associate
Barbara Houlik, staff coordinator

Project partners
Daaiyah Bilal-Threats, National Education Association
Dane Linn, Business Roundtable
Scott S. Montgomery, ACT
Chris Runge, American Federation of Teachers
Adrian Wilson, Microsoft Corp.

National Center on Education and the Economy
and Center on International Education Benchmarking Staff:

Marc Tucker, president
Betsy Brown Ruzzi, vice president and director of CIEB
Nathan Driskell, policy analyst

via Washington post

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We cannot rest until every child has access

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As teachers, we know that the realisation of high quality public education for every child remains a work in progress.

Our long-held commitment to achieving it is informed by the fact that a public school, in every community, is a precondition to fulfilling our responsibility as members of an international community to ensure that every child gains access to education. We also know that if we are serious about achieving excellence and equity for all, public schools must set the standard for high quality education as equity in the provision of education can only be realised if public schools, free and universally accessible, set that standard.

It is not only disappointing, but it is also disturbing that the ideal of quality public education for all is under greater threat today than it has ever been.

This threat has been on public display just recently in the form of articles, or in some cases advertorials by anonymous writers, in publications such as the Economist, which support and promote the emergence and expansion of low fee for-profit private schools in developing countries as the means of providing access to schooling for the children of the poorest of the poor referred to as “clients”. They may as well just refer to children as economic units.

So biased and unsubstantiated was the “journalism” that it provoked an immediate response from highly recognised and respected international agencies like OXFAM and Action Aid to name two, who along with others wrote letters to the editor. Similarly, leading academics also responded condemning the bias.

Dr. Prachi Srivastava, a tenured Associate Professor at the School of International Development and Global Studies specialising in the area of education and international development at the University of Ottawa, who was so “dismayed and surprised” by her name being used to legitimise and endorse low fee for-profit private schools, in addition to a letter to the editor, produced an opinion piece in The Guardian based on her detailed academic research demolishing the claims made in one of the articles.

Whilst not entirely surprised by these advertorials in the Economist – after all , at the time of its publication, the Economist was still 50 percent owned by the world’s largest education corporation, Pearson, which has interests in low fee for-profit private school chains such as Bridge international Academies and Omega in Kenya, Ghana and a number of other countries – as a teacher I was deeply offended by the unwarranted gratuitous attack on teachers and our unions in campaigning for the very best opportunities for every child in every classroom.

As teachers we take our responsibility to our students very seriously. All we ask for, indeed we demand, is that governments fulfil their obligation to their most vulnerable citizens, namely children.

Beyond a legislative guarantee to fulfil their primary obligation to adequately fund and resource public schools, governments must legislate against non-state actors operating schools for profit, particularly when they are in receipt, directly or indirectly, domestically or extraterritorially, of any tax payers dollars intended for the educational well-being of students.(Surely, taxpayers dollars intended for the educational well-being of students shouldn’t be siphoned away to line the pockets of billionaires and global corporations.)

Furthermore, governments must introduce, where non-existent, and enforce legislated regulatory frameworks to ensure high standards in teacher qualifications, curriculum and teaching environments.  A social contract, if you like, providing guarantees for students.

In attacking regulation of facilities and teacher qualifications, the Economist makes the outrageous statement, contrary to reams of research and evidence, that: “the quality of facilities, or teachers’ qualifications and pay, have been shown by research in several countries to have no bearing on a school’s effectiveness.”

This astonishing attack on teacher qualifications bells the cat for the prophets of profit. Employing unqualified “teachers” is driven by their business plan to maximise profit. It is no wonder that in a recent article in the Independent that Pearson-supported low fee for-profit chain, Bridge International academies, operating in Kenya and elsewhere, protested a possible government requirement that half, not all, “half of all teachers in any one school should have a recognised teaching qualification and be paid accordingly.”

In all of my professional life, I’ve yet to meet a parent who would prefer their child to be taught by an unqualified teacher. I very much doubt whether the anonymous author of the advertorial or senior figures at Pearson would volunteer their own children to be taught by unqualified ‘teachers’ reading from a script.

If standing up for the right of every child to have access to a rigorous, rich curriculum, taught by well supported qualified teachers in safe environments conducive to good teaching and learning is a crime, we are guilty as charged.

Written by Angelo Gavrielatos
Project Director, The Global Response to

Commercialisation and  Privatisation in and of Education

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Why Vouchers Won’t Fix Vegas Schools

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LAS VEGAS — FOR the past year, I’ve lived next door to a public elementary school. With my windows open in the morning, I can hear children’s laughter on the playground, and at 9 a.m., the Pledge of Allegiance over the intercom. My afternoon commute takes me past the entrance, where I see a diverse group of parents collecting their children, from white moms in yoga pants to Muslim women in hijab guiding their kids carefully through the crosswalk.

Only a quarter-mile away, on the other side of my apartment complex, is a private school. These students wear identical uniforms, but still manage to showcase the diversity of the city.

For now, it’s heartening to see at least some amount of ethnic and economic variety within our local schools. But now that the state has approved a radical new voucher system, that’s about to change.

In the clichéd, across-the-railroad-tracks scuffle between private and public schools that you find in many places, the teams are often clearly divided: poor urban kids versus wealthy suburban ones. But in Vegas, where poverty is high but not concentrated in a single area, it’s difficult to identify exactly where the tracks lie.

National trends show that wealthier families are moving back to the cities, bringing popular amenities and higher costs of living with them, while low-income families are pushed into the once shiny, now-aging suburbs. Because there is no clearly defined inner city in Vegas, just a suburban sprawl that makes up the nation’s fifth-largest school district, there is a surprising level of racial and economic diversity, at least in the elementary grades.

But the schools are far from great. In a 2015 report from the Anne E. Casey Foundation, Nevada ranked 50th in education. Underfunded, chronically overcrowded and, like many states, desperate for teachers, it has long been infamous for its problems. Despite 100-degree temperatures throughout August and September, many Vegas public schools do not have working air-conditioning.

To meet high demand for better quality education, Las Vegas has provided families with a variety of alternatives to the traditional public school — charter, magnet, technical — but privately funded institutions have proved to be the best-performing, receiving national attention for innovative programs in academics, technology and sports.

How to get the public system in Nevada properly functioning has produced a frenzied debate for years, but legislation passed this summer significantly, and finally, increased the education budget by some $400 million. There is a catch, though. Part of that budget will go toward one of the most expensive voucher systems ever attempted in the country. Parents who choose private, online or home education over the public system will soon be eligible for vouchers worth about $5,000.

Unlike similar programs that offered this type of funding only to low-income families, this money will be available to higher-income families as well (though low-income students and those with disabilities will receive a bit more). Supporters argue that the program will give all parents the opportunity to choose the schools they believe will best serve their children. Politically, it also appeases taxpayers who do not benefit from the reforms because their children do not use the public system.

Private school tuition in Nevada can be as high as $12,000, and the biggest problem with the vouchers is that the poorest families will be unable to make up the difference. So, in the coming year, as middle-class families who may otherwise have used the public school system forgo it for the private, the vouchers will undermine whatever economic and racial diversity Las Vegas has achieved.

In Nevada, about one in four children live in poverty, not because their schools have failed them, but because their parents juggle multiple jobs on a stagnant minimum wage, have little job security and are denied paid time off.

The Anne E. Casey Foundation argues that improving the well-being of children in poverty requires a two-generation approach, meaning you can’t improve the situation for children without addressing the economic realities of their parents. Its 2015 report states that, “Boosting low family income, especially early in a child’s life, can have lasting positive effects on cognitive development, health, and academic achievement.”

These economic challenges present direct conflicts with the type of parental involvement and support that are necessary for quality education. Erratic and unpredictable work hours make it difficult to organize transportation to and from school and after-school child care. Long workdays limit parents’ ability to ensure that children’s academic responsibilities outside of school are being met. Low wages without benefits make it impossible to afford enriching activities outside the classroom or quality health care that plays a crucial role in academic success.

Nevada parents do need choices, but far more than these vouchers can provide.

Brittany Bronson is an English instructor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, a restaurant server and a contributing opinion writer.

via New York Times

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Join Voices Against Privatizing Public Education’s efforts to repeal the California charter school law

10929010_697396327039855_3915888532558601325_nJoin Voices Against Privatizing Public Education’s efforts to repeal the California charter school law

There is a small grass-roots group that has been working diligently to create a ballot proposition to repeal the charter school laws. While a seemingly daunting task, there might not ever be another chance to do this before the privatizers eliminate public schools altogether (Eli Broad just announced his plans to cut LAUSD’s public schools in in half). The group has an online petition that now has over 600 signatures. They also have a facebook group. Both of which are linked here:

Ballot Initiative to REPEAL the CA Charter School Act of 1992

Voices Against Privatizing Public Education

Most importantly, they have picked up a handfull of key labor leaders and organizations:

  • AFT Local 6161 (Palomar Faculty Federation)
  • North County Labor Alliance
  • Escondido Public School Advocates
  • Bill Freeman- NEA Board member for California
  • Alita Blanc- United Educators of San Francisco

The coalition is working hard to get several more organizations on board, including local Democratic party clubs in several large cities. Please consider getting involved, and perhaps even endorsing the efforts of the group.

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It’s time to reconsider the parent trigger

la-ed-parent-trigger-20150803-002Five years after California’s parent-trigger law was passed, it has not had the dramatic effect on public schools that its proponents hoped it would. Yet it is already at a crossroads in its young life.

The law, passed in haste in 2010 in an effort to empower parents at lower-performing schools, lets them force dramatic change if half or more of them sign a petition. They might demand the replacement of some or most of the staff or vote to turn their school over to a charter operator. They might even close the school altogether. Under the law, the parent trigger is an option only at schools whose scores on the state Academic Performance Index fell below the proficiency mark of 800 and that failed to meet their federal improvement requirements, called Adequate Yearly Progress, for several years in a row. The law limited the trigger option to 75 schools on a first-come-first-served basis to see how it played out; at the time, officials expected the number to be quickly met and expanded.

But that hasn’t happened. There have been only four schools in which parents filed petitions that succeeded in forcing a change. Parents at five more schools used the petition process as leverage to negotiate changes, a much less disruptive process, without ever filing an actual petition.

It is hard to know whether these changes have resulted in improved academic performance because the state has for the moment stopped reporting test scores during the switch to new standardized exams. Yet it’s encouraging to see that parents have some clout, especially low-income parents who felt their children were stuck at problematic schools. That was the original idea: to give deeply frustrated families a chance to take action when educators ignored them.

That’s why this page supported a limited rollout of the parent trigger, despite concerns about the sloppily written law on which it was based — and why we continue to support it in principle despite misgivings both conceptual and pragmatic.

The trigger law raises questions as basic as: Who owns the schools? Do they belong to the parents whose children attend them or to the district voters and taxpayers who fund them and elect the school board? If taxpayers and voters are adamantly opposed to a change that parents support, who ought to get their way? Should a bare majority of parents — not all of whom are citizens, by the way — have enough power to close a taxpayer-funded school, forcing the minority of parents to send their children farther from home? This option has never been exercised, but it remains a possibility.

There are also concerns about whether petition drives are being held in an open, transparent manner, so that all parents have the information they need to participate, and whether the law allows too many fairly good and improving schools to be targeted.

The law remains the subject of dispute. In July, a judge ruled in favor of parents at Palm Lane Elementary School in Anaheim who were trying to use it. The Anaheim City School District had fought back, claiming that because California has suspended the reporting of its tests to the federal government, and isn’t publishing its API scores, there were no grounds under the law for a trigger petition. The judge was right. Parents should be able to use the most recent data available for petitions.

But there are permanent changes afoot that could require a rewrite of the law. Not only will the API soon be replaced by something that looks far different, but, at the same time, legislation to reauthorize the federal No Child Left Behind Act would, as currently worded, do away with the federal AYP measurement completely. The parent trigger law is specifically tied to those two measurements.

A new trigger law should create stricter guidelines to target truly low-performing schools, and should prohibit school closures through petition. Trigger petitions must be made public, with all parents informed, and the larger community given a chance to be involved. When a petition prevails and parents are considering proposals for changing management of the school, all parents should have a voice and a vote in the decision, not just those who signed the petition.

The parent trigger remains an intriguing if so-far-unproven idea, but the time has come to start imagining a more thoughtful version.

>>> Read more Los Angeles Times

Follow the Opinion section on Twitter @latimesopinion

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