Thursday, December 30, 2010

Kimberly Parker Presents: The Beauty of Ownership

My daughter approached my bedroom a bit traumatized! You see, her eye was hurting and she just did not understand why. I so corroborated with her frustration! I know how it feels to need answers to the question “Why?” After making it perfectly clear that she did not bump her eye against an object, she blinked profusely in what appeared to be an attempt to stop what she described as “bleeping”. Throbbing was probably the actual effect.

I certainly did not want to dismiss her concern. While I don’t always hit the mark, I strive to render my undivided attention to my children when they seek me. Neglecting their 911 alarms typically adds to both their ache and their aggravation. Most empathetically, I suggested that we take a walk “back down memory lane”, tracing her steps along the way. If you’ve ever experienced a five year old little girl in indescribable pain, you know that I was praying to crack this unsolved mystery…and fast!
Seriously blinking her “bleeping” eye, she presented the following evidence:
1. She rolled over in bed.
2. She patted the bed to feel for her doll.
3. She felt the doll.
4. She opened her eyes to make sure it was the doll she wanted to play with.
5. She rubbed her eyes with her finger.
6. She felt something in her eye.
7. Her eye began to “bleep”.

Felling like a real sleuth and playing right into the role, I paused, rubbed my chin and said, “Mom…I got it! It seems to me that maybe your eye is ‘bleeping’ because you rubbed it with your finger and something from your finger is now inside your eye!” My daughter was obviously taken aback. I thought her expression was along the lines of, “Phew! Thank you, Momma, for your help!” Boy did I read her wrong! Instead, she maturely stated, “Momma, it’s not my finger’s fault! It’s mine. You tell me to not put my fingers in my eyes. I shouldn’t have done that.”

All of my sussing rolled out the room, down the stair, around the corner, and out the door! “Detective Daughter” finally figured it out but her answer now left me with questions:
1. Why do we blame others for our throbbing mistakes?
2. Why don’t we take ownership of our problems?
3. Why, exactly, do we not take the time to walk “back down memory lane” in an attempt to solve the mysteries?

Scenario after scenario began to roll in my motion picture mind as I took my daughter to the bathroom to clean her eye. Realizing I had to take a bit of ownership of a few unsolved mysteries, I was “bleeping” all over! Since I can’t just talk the talk, I began to walk…back down memory lane. Do you need to stroll with me?

Kimberly K. Parker is the owner of Writing Momma Publishing ( She is hosting “Isn’t She Lovely!” an elegant father and daughter event in March 2011 in hopes of promoting the importance of the relationship between little girls and their fathers.

Visit to purchase tickets and for more information. Kimberly is an author and blogger living in Maryland with her husband and three children.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Gov. O'Malley Considering Cuts...Could Impact PGCPS


Gov. Martin O'Malley is considering a 5 percent across-the-board cut in state aid for public education. State Budget Secretary T. Eloise Foster has proposed the cut, which the governor's office says would save more than $200 million. Maryland is facing a $1.3 billion budget shortfall in the upcoming fiscal year.

The possible 5 percent cut was revealed in a letter from Foster to Prince George's County Schools Superintendent William Hite, who has asked the state for an additional $139 million in funding. Foster notes that Prince George's receives more education funding than any other jurisdiction in Maryland.

O'Malley's spokesman says the possible cut is merely "an option presented to the governor" but that it speaks to the severity of the state's fiscal situation.Read more at the Washington Examiner:

Pointless finger-pointing at parents

"As the national debate on public school reform continues to loom large, with its inherent finger-pointing, a new enemy has recently emerged – parents. An Associated Press-Stanford University poll says 68 percent of adults believe parents deserve heavy blame for what's wrong with the U.S. education system – more than teachers, administrators, the government or even the teachers' unions."

By Anne Foster

This new version of the blame game reminds me of people who get up in an airplane at 30,000 feet and then decide the pilot may be incompetent. It's useless and too late. Rather than blaming parents for what's wrong with education, we should instead be helping them and training them to hold their schools accountable for their children's education – and to be partners in the process.

Finding one group to blame reminds us that many people are looking for silver bullets – the one culprit to blame for bad schools and the one solution for successful schools. Truth is there are no silver bullets – for either blame or credit. Successful schools exist because of a combination of factors that work together – quality teaching, professional development, adequate financial resources, safe facilities, community support and parent engagement. Failing schools exist because of a lack of these things.

Certainly, parents have a part in successful schools. There are certain things that are just plain good parenting – making sure kids get enough sleep, proper nutrition, monitoring homework and reading daily with kids. When parents do these things, children go to school ready to learn. When they don't do these things, the challenge is much greater for the school, the children and the educators. We can all agree that there are parents who wouldn't win parenting awards, and our society needs to encourage positive parenting skills. Many schools already are doing this, but they can't do it alone. They need help from others in the community.

But to blame parents as a group for any failure in education is simplistic and untenable. In fact, writing off parents as a whole represents a woefully misinformed viewpoint. Some parents are considered suspect because they are poor or do not speak English. I have met a great variety of parents, and although they would express it in many different ways, they all have hopes and dreams for their children and want them to succeed in school and in life. Parents live along a spectrum, and the more educated parents are better able to assume their rightful role in their children's schools and education. But other parents are capable of being brought along and connected with schools as well. Many schools are reaching out to them with some notable success and bringing them into a partnership with the school that focuses on the academic success of their child and the entire school. These parents are proving able to be involved with school reform, school improvement and advocacy.

The poll also found that a majority of parents believe schools have improved since they were in school and that their children are getting a better education than they did. Schools that are succeeding are doing so in part because parents are a positive force. We need to build on that and take that message to all parents. Schools need to keep reaching out to parents, particularly those who need guidance on how to help their children in school.

But blame parents? No – they deserve better than that, and so do their kids. Parent engagement is an important part of quality schools, but it is only part of the whole. We must make sure all of the pieces are in place.

Anne Foster is a former school board member in Richardson ISD and is National Executive Director of Parents for Public Schools. Anne Foster can also be heard on, an educational podcast resource center for the engaged parent and dedicated educator

Sunday, December 26, 2010

PGCPS: FY 2012 Superintendent's Proposed Budget

Letter from the Superintendent of Prince George's County Public Schools Ms. Verjeana M. Jacobs, Esq. Chair, Board of Education

Dear Ms. Jacobs:

Pursuant to the Education Article of the Annotated Code of Maryland, the Superintendent’s FY 2012 Proposed Annual Operating Budget for Prince George’s County Public Schools is herewith submitted. The proposed budget totals $1,688,112,606 covering the fiscal year July 1, 2011, through June 30, 2012. This amount is an increase of $54,586,065 or 3.3% over the FY 2011 operating budget originally approved. This proposed budget maintains core services essential to the Board of Education’s Theory of Action and the school system’s priorities. Revenues supporting school system operations in FY 2012 are expected to be severely limited, but without a substantial increase in revenues, the Board will need to consider increasing class sizes, continuing staff furloughs, and other actions to close the gap. The loss of federal stimulus funds in FY 2012 and potential actions taken by the state of Maryland to address its projected structural deficit, combined with minimum amounts required from the County are the primary basis for the limited revenues. The decline in growth for FY 2012 joined with the possibility of further decline in revenue has required that proposed expenditures reflect strategic reductions that will ensure services essential to preserving our core business. The chart below demonstrates the magnitude of the changes over the last several years compared with FY 2012.

The revenue view reflects the impact of the major challenges that the State and County are facing in the next year. This situation is largely marked by a loss in revenues associated with the housing market, including rising foreclosures and the continued decline in housing sales. These real property tax revenue losses, combined with a recession in the national economy along with anticipated lower student enrollment, translate into limited available revenue to support the FY 2012 Proposed Operating Budget. In spite of this, this proposed budget requests additional support from the State and the County in order to avoid continued furloughing of employees and the potential elimination of successful programs.

Due to the ending of State Fiscal Stabilization Funds and Targeted Stimulus funds in FY 2012, federal revenue sources are expected to decrease by $71.4 million from the FY 2011 Approved budget. These funds were used to pay system wide utilities and school supplies, and supported Title I and Special Education programs. When the additional federal Education Jobs funding is factored in FY 2011, the federal funding cliff is projected to be $103.1 million. State funds are projected to increase by $49.2 million primarily due to the assumption that the Governor would have to include, and the General Assembly would have to approve, funding for the Geographic Cost of Education Index (GCEI) component in the FY 2012 State budget and a projected increase in Compensatory Education funding due to a projected increase in the FARMS population. The County contribution is projected to decrease by $2.7 million due to a drop in student enrollment but still meets state Maintenance of Effort (MOE) funding levels. Revenues from Prior Year Fund Balance are reduced 100.0%, which represents $6.0 million less than the FY 2011 approved budget and Board Sources are projected to decrease by $4.2 million primarily because of reduced tuition rates.

Additionally, changes to the State and County funding amounts may occur as updated State-wide wealth, enrollment and other information is received during the budget development process. Moreover, a key area that the State may consider in reducing the structural deficit that it faces is the potential redirection of the State Retirement funding from the State to the Board of Education, and this will necessitate further adjustments to the FY 2012 proposed budget. Similarly, changes in requested and/or approved County funding levels will require revisions to amounts shown in the proposed budget.

As a result of the limited revenue growth, compounded by the loss of federal revenue resources the FY 2012 Proposed Annual Operating Budget requests $64.7 million in additional state aid and $25 million in additional funding from the County in order to address its revenue gap. The proposed budget continues prior year reductions such as not funding COLA, no step increases, stipends and differentials and maintaining position reclassifications but funds the restoration of teacher and staff salaries from the furlough reduction in FY 2011. The proposed budget focuses spending on the maintenance of core services directly related to improvement in teaching and learning within classroom instruction in support of high student achievement. Priorities under high student achievement include the Advanced Placement Program, IB, AVID, Special Education Reform, Secondary School Reform, Middle College, Charter Schools, Pre-k, and HSA Reform. The continued funding of these priorities is critical to meet the goals of the Master Plan and support our vision for all students to graduate college-ready.

The process for developing and adopting a budget includes public input. Public forums were held in October to receive community input on budget priorities to ensure all available resources are effectively and efficiently used. This Proposed budget has considered the community’s input in preserving programs and services supporting classroom instruction, within projected available revenues, consistent with the Master Plan.

The Board of Education will hold three budget public hearings between January and February, as well as public work sessions on the budget in January and February, as it considers, adopts and submits its budget request to the County Executive by March 1, 2011.

Despite the severely limited resources available this year, the FY 2012 Proposed Annual Operating Budget maintains our best efforts to achieve school system goals and fulfill our mission to ensure our students, teachers and support staff have tools and resources needed to help children learn and achieve. Funding provided in prior years, combined with efforts to distribute resources equitably with a focus on effective programs and services that produce meaningful results enabled the school system to attain record levels of achievement on State tests. Unprecedented student participation and remarkable levels of success in all subgroups occurred both this year and in the past year.

While the economic outlook remains bleak, full funding of the FY 2012 Proposed Annual Operating Budget will maintain the core instructional programs and services needed to support teaching and learning and support the critical strides made in achievement by the students of Prince George’s County Public Schools.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Bullying is everyone's problem. If you do not think it is your problem, just ask Brenda High

The most horrible consequences of bulling, shootings and suicides, regularly make news, and seem like isolated incidents; but all schools and communities are impacted and damaged by bullying every day. Bullying research shows that 160,000 students miss school each day because they fear being bullied. Is bullying your problem, if you don't have a child in school? Is it your problem if you work in a school, and bullying doesn't seem to be a problem there? (Bell, 2005)

Brenda High is a passionate crusader, a mom on a mission to stop school bullying and peer abuse. She driven to see an end to bullying by the memory of her son Jared, who was the victim of severe bullying and teasing.

Jared's story

Jared High was 12 years old when older students bullied him in his middle school. The bullying came to a head when a well known bully assaulted Jared inside his middle school gym. Because of the bullying and the assault, Jared began to show signs of depression, which included lack of sleep and emotional outbursts. On the morning of September 29, 1998, just six days after his 13th birthday, Jared called his father at work to say good-bye. While on the phone with him, Jared shot himself, dying instantly.

Forest Of The Rain Productions spoke with Brenda and discussed the impact of bullying on families, communities and more importantly children. It is a fascinating discussion that we encourage all to hear.

An Exclusive Interview with Brenda High: Founder of Bullying Police USA

Mike Robinson: What do you say to those who suggest bullying or teasing is a phase that all children go through?

Brenda High: “Well, in all honesty. If someone would have said that to me after I reported a bullying incident, I would turn to them and say, and so what you are trying to say to me is you are too lazy to deal with this. That’s a lazy man’s response. If a child comes to an adult and complains about bullying, it is the responsibility of the adults to do something. The boys will be boys or girls will be girls is just an excuse and are just pure laziness by adults.

Kids are kids and adults are adults and when something happens to kids, the adults are in charge. The adults are the ones who have the problem at this point. Adults take charge, parents take charge. Schools need to know that bullying is not a child’s problem it is an adult problem and if bullying is happening in school some adult is not doing their job, it is as simple as that.”

As a healing project, Brenda began to write Jared's story. Since 1999, Jared Story has attracted over two million visitors looking for information on bullying, depression, suicide and needing healing from the loss of a loved one.

Parents and PGCPS encourage all engaged parents and dedicated educators to listen to this Brenda’s story and to join her fight to end school house bullying.

To hear Brenda’s interview with Mike Robinson, host of Parent Talk and Educational Gateway, click on the link below.

Stop Bullying Now!

Mayor and Sac City schools target parent engagement in new project

By Melody Gutierrez

Sacramento City Unified School District is partnering with Mayor Kevin Johnson's education nonprofit to promote parent engagement in city schools.

Stand Up for Sacramento Schools will focus on six schools identified by Sacramento City Unified as "priority schools." Those include Oak Ridge Elementary, Father Keith B. Kenny Elementary, Jedediah Smith Elementary, Fern Bacon Basic Middle, Will C. Wood Middle and Hiram W. Johnson High.

Read more:

Friday, December 3, 2010

Parent Talk...Talks with Eileen Collins An Engage Parent and 2010 Comcast Parent Involvement Matters Award Semifinalist

Parent Talk discusses community engagement with Eileen Collins, President of Laurel PTA and the 2010 Comcast Parent Involvement Matters Award Semifinalist.

Two things Eileen Collins takes seriously-play and the power of positive thinking. You may wonder how serious can a person can be if they live by those two things” Well, just ask the community of Laurel Elementary School and the city of Laurel. When Eileen took it upon herself to spearhead an effort to replace the outdated playground equipment at the school, she took on a roller coaster ride of challenges and obstacles. But rather than close her eyes and wish the ride was over, she took every turn and dip in stride and at the end- KaBOOM!- To everyone’s delight, the long hours of meetings and grant writing, raising funds, and coordinating volunteers turned into a playground!

Always one to keep the play going and getting others in the game, Eileen went back to the city of Laurel to encourage them to apply as a KaBOOM! Playful City USA. And when the city won the award, she chaired the celebration planning committee. In September 2009, the Celebration of Play Day was attended by over 300 people and included Raven LeRon McCain, outdoor games and, of course, Eileen, who was right in the thick of it, which has resulted in events like the Popcorn Fridays fundraiser to support an after school arts program and the school’s spring musical “We Haz Jazz,” with Eileen at the lead, there’s a never a rainy day where she’s not signing “The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow.”


Time: 8:30pm-9:30pm (EST)

Call in number: 1 (914) 803-4591

The Hidden Treasures of Our Communities

Hidden Treasures.....Is a family owned and operated cafe in the historic Highland community of Howard County Maryland.

Our business philosophy caters to family and community oriented values. We pride ourselves on our warm and welcoming view of customer service and our strong desire to showcase our uniquely styled food.

Our products are locally made and produced by vendors like Moorenko's all natural Ice cream and Greenberry's locally roasted coffees,
along with other local markets for guaranteed freshness. Our unique style of food is complimented by our wide array of cheesecakes, brownies, and cupcakes along with other delicious desserts.

Our food is passionately prepared by Chef Gerald Joseph whose many years of experience in the culinary arts coupled with local and international restaurants will bring a bit of Americana to the cafe. With Chef Gerald you will definitely not taste the traditional commercial style food many are accustomed to. He truly puts his heart and love in every bite.

It is through this vision that we invite you to explore the hidden treasures that we offer at Hidden Treasure Café. You won’t be disappointed!

Our address:

13380 Clarksville Pike

Highland, MD 20777


Hours of operation:

M-F 6am-8pm

Sat. 8am-5pm

Sun. - closed.

Hidden Treasure

Hello Engaged Parents and Dedicated Educators,

Welcome to our newest segment on the Parental Engagement with PGCPS Blog. We are calling this our Hidden Treasure posting. In this posting we will spotlight individuals, businesses and community landmarks that are some of the hidden Gems of our communities.

Additionally, you are welcome to provide us your list of Hidden Treasures, by simply emailing us at
We would love to more about those special places that makes your community unique.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Holiday Music

We have the spirit! We know the reason for the season! We want you to join us as we usher in the most joyful time of the year with timeless Christmas songs sung by some of the greatest singers and musicians of our time. Tune in this Friday, December 3rd starting at 9am to 12pm to hear Christmas music we promise will put you in the mood.

To join us click on the link below

The Journey Begins, Internet Radio for the Engaged Parents and Dedicated Educators

Here is a sample of what you will hear:

This Christmas (Donny Hathaway)
What the World Needs Now (Luther Vandross)
Please Come Home for Christmas (Luther Vandross)
Santa Claus Is Coming to Town (The Jackson Five)
Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Raindeer (The Temptations)
This Christmas (The Temptations)
Little Drummer Boy (The Temptations)
Hey Santa (Ashanti)
Christmas Morn (Chante Moore)
Christmas At My House (Rahsaan Patterson)
I’ll Be Home For Christmas (The Isley Brothers)
8 Days of Christmas (Destiny’s Child)
White Christmas (The Platters)
Christmas Time is Here (Diane Crall)
Deck The Halls (Smokey Robinson and the Miracles)

Photos of the 2010 Parental Engagement Conference

Your pictures and fotos in a slideshow on MySpace, eBay, Facebook or your website!view all pictures of this slideshow

The Middle School Years

Visits From Engaged Parents and Dedicated Educators