Wednesday, December 25, 2013

My Interview of Malcolm X's Daughter: ILYASAH SHABAZZ by William Jackson, M.Edu

There are rare opportunities that allow a person to interview the person that he idolizes and respects in life. A man, even in death, his words can continue to mentor, influence Blacks to reach their potential as a great people. My opportunity to interview Ilyasah Shabazz, the daughter of Malcolm X was an awesome honor, humbling experience and reignited my passion to be a better father, educator, mentor and community activist. 

This unique opportunity afforded me an opportunity to get close to my inspiration that today has influence on the minds and passions of millions of people globally. I have for years read books, listened to Youtube videos, Podcasts and blogged about the life and cultural influences of Malcolm X. 

His passion for Black culture, the undeniable love for his wife and children, embracing the empowerment of education and teaching the historical contributions of Blacks not just in America, but around the world. Malcolm X’s influence is felt even in the 21st century. Ossie Davis at the funeral of Malcolm X reflected on him as a Prince - our own Black shining Prince.

I’m not a member of the Nation of Islam, I’m not a practicing Muslim, nor am I a closet Black Panther, what I’ am is a man who is learning that “if you don’t stand for something you will fall for anything,” (Malcolm X). Reading both the Christian Bible, and the Holy Qu’ran, learning about the life and teachings of Muhammad just as important the teachings of Jesus Christ, there is no conflict. 

Collectively the teachings are heard in many speeches highlighted by Malcolm X. Learning about loving your brothers and sisters of diverse cultural colors and importantly to uplift all people especially those that are threatened with poverty and lack of educational equality and economic along with political in-equitability. Blacks suffered from these and more, Malcolm X using the power of voice and pen sought to wake up Blacks and inspire them to be better then they were. I believe that through education and sharing the life challenges and accomplishments of Malcolm X this has allowed me to look at my life and see where I need to continue to mature and where I need to dedicate and in some cases rededicate my life to service in my community.

El Hagg Malik El Shabazz was not a complicated man; he was a man of purpose and passion. Malcolm X was sometimes misunderstood, feared and quoted with a dialogue of cultural upheaval and society turmoil. Malcolm X’s words were fuel for the engines of freedom and independence that where also used by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Asa Phillip Randolph, and even Nelson Mandela. The words were the foundation for Blacks to wake up and take ownership for their lives, not to rely on the government for handouts, welfare and second class citizenship. Blacks during these times and even
now need Malcolm X to inspire and motivate them, just as they needed Dr. King and Medgar Evers

Malcolm X with his words of, “by any means necessary,” was not a statement of violence, but a passionate plea for Blacks to educate themselves and to unify their communities. In too many cases Blacks are feared because of the greatness that Blacks do not even comprehend that is inside themselves and their children. It seems that other cultures see the potential, but there are too many Blacks that are still in denial and blind to their abilities.

Malcolm X’s weapons were his words, the ability to communicate, to ignite passions in Blacks that were once thought extinguished by racism, prejudice and Jim Crow laws. Too many Blacks forget that if it were not for the words of Malcolm X, Blacks would be too scared to climb out the trenches of poverty, they would believe they could not learn and could not be educated, they would accept the status of ignorance and even embrace the fear of hatred thrust upon them.

Blacks are more than just property; Blacks are more than just consumers of products that distract them into genocidal killers because of music, clothes, shoes and drugs. Malcolm X spoke of this before Michael Jordan had his brand and Hip Hop was the so called music of young Black men and women.

Before there could be any real change, Malcolm X understood for Blacks there needed to be a psychological challenge; this change had to be strong enough to show Blacks that “you are as great as you say you are.” If Blacks heard it enough, thought it enough and said it enough with passion they would understand not to let others define you nor let others dictate where you can or cannot go. Blacks have been taught to hate themselves, to hate their culture, their color and their ability to grow past poverty and ignorance. There needs to be a “decolonization” in the minds of Blacks.

Malcolm X attempted to show Blacks that there needed to be a “negotiable identity”
(Eric Lincoln). This identity is one of self, cultural and societal respect. The will to be anything and do anything that a Black person desires in the world. The daughter of  Malcolm X ilyasah Al-Shabazz is a example of a community organizer and activist, motivational speaker, and author of the book ”Growing Up X” 2002 and others soon to be published. Ilyasah promotes higher education, interfaith dialogue, and building bridges between cultures for young leaders of the world. She is the founder of Malcolm X Enterprises and is a Trustee for The Malcolm X and Dr. Betty Shabazz Memorial and Educational Center.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Parents and PGCPS Network Member Kimberly K. Parker is Moving to China!

Hello Engaged Parents and Dedicated Educators,

Parents and PGCPS is proud to announce of one our first members, Mrs. Kimberly Parker has accepted an opportunity to teach English in China effective January 2014.  Kimberly joined Parents and PGCPS on April 12, 2009. She has been an amazing supporter of our efforts to increase parental engagement throughout Prince George's County. Please join us in congratulating Kimberly on this remarkable opportunity and wishing her the best.

In her message to family and friends, Kimberly stated: " Well, because I dared to dream, it's coming true right before my very eyes." To help Kimberly offset the cost of travel and educational expenses, Parents and PGCPS ask members to consider donating what you can afford to support her dream of making a difference. Please visit the link below and give what you can!

Please click here to donate to Kimberly K. Parker's Journey!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Info You Need To Know

Hello Engaged Parents and Dedicated Educators,
Denise M. Joseph Community Reporter and host of EDPowerment on Parents and PGCPS eRadio has “Info You Need To Know”

(1) Santa will be landing at College Park Aviation Museum today at 12pm. He will be there until 4pm Check it out and enjoy the sunshine.
Denise Joseph
Community Reporter
EDPowerment with Denise Joseph

Monday, December 2, 2013

Parents and PGCPS eRadio Presents: Organizations and Their Leaders You Need to Know in Prince George's County

Join Parents and PGCPS eRadio with host William E. Rogers on Wednesday, December 4, 2013 starting at 7:30pm, as he focuses on organizations and the work they are performing in their local communities to impact family and student success. Also, Community Activist, Denise Josephs shares what is happening in Prince George’s County in her weekly segment EDPowerment with Denise Joseph.

Guests include:
 Jaemellah Kemp, founder and president, IT TAKES TWO,INC. Ms. Kemp holds an associate’s degree in Business Administration and bachelors in Business Management from the University of Phoenix. She is currently pursuing her masters in Nonprofit & Association Management from University of Maryland University College (UMUC). Also joining the discussion will be Rev. Tierney Screen of the Share Food Network Program located in Prince George’s County Maryland.

Parents and PGCPS eRadio with host William E. Rogers is on the air this Wed. 7:30pm Listen here: 

Monday, November 25, 2013

EDPowerment with Denise Joseph on Parents and PGCPS eRadio

Hello Engaged Parents and Dedicated Educators,
Below is the link to this week's EDPowerment with Denise Joseph.  You can be heard EDPowerment with Denise Joseph weekly on Parents and PGCPS eRadio.
Parents and PGCPS eRadio

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Be B.O.L.D Against Bullying in Jacksonville by William Jackson, M.Edu.

Best of BOLD Parents is a part of the B.O.L.D. Project Afterschool Program at S.P.Livingston and Eugene Butler Middle Schools and is a program that belongs to the Boys and Girls Club of Northeast Florida.  The Best of B.O.L.D program at Eugene Butler Middle School and S. P. Livingston Elementary School is designed to be a unique collaboration with War on Poverty and the parents of Butler Middle and Livingston Elementary School.

Community collaboration is important to create positive change in the lives of children and families. Through the guidance of Jewel Flornoy (War On Poverty) and B.O.L.D Parent Organizer, Ms. Marcia Ellison PTA President of S.P. Livingston, the leadership of Principals and administration of both schools, activities are centered on creating learning opportunities that involve meeting the needs of parents not just in the school house, but in the communities. Building a strong PTA that supports and encourages parental participation is important for schools academic and community strength. The Best of B.O.L.D is a growing model for other schools across the nation.

The STOP BULLYING NOW – STAND UP – SPEAK OUT event provided the B.O.L.D Spirit Team a chance to fire up over 100 students attending from Pre K to Fifth Grade. The program was Emceed by Ms. Roberta Goode, presentations were provided by Ms. Marcia Ellison, Ms. Latrece Humphrys and the students of B.O.L.D at S.P Livingston.

Bullying is a ongoing issue in schools nationwide, on buses and in communities,  there should be continued efforts to prevent Bullying and provide services to educate, empower and encourage youth from Pre-K to fifth grade and educating parents that Bullying should be reported so actions can be taken to stop Bullying.

Several tragic events in Florida and across this nation have shown that young lives are being taken away because of Bullying and Cyberbullying. Instead of just watching the statistics grow schools and school districts need to have professional development for students and parents. Bullying and Cyberbullying is a reality for many children in schools across this nation. It will take more than laws; it will take more than speeches, it will take the collective efforts like War On Poverty, B.O.L.D, PTA organizations and individuals like William Jackson an educator, blogger, and community activist to make a difference. The opportunities of Cyberbullying can happen where children and teens have unmonitored access to Social Media that allows the behaviors of Cyberbullying to happen on Social Media platforms.  

No parent ever wants to consider their child as a Bully, but the reality is children, kids, teens and young adults are Bullying and Cyberbullying with dangerous results.  Parents need to monitor their children’s actions in school, online, on buses and in classrooms. Parents must be proactive and communicate with their children high expectations of good behaviors; parents should observe behaviors, mannerisms, changes in eating habits, mood swings and  importantly communicate with teachers and administrators. Signs that parents need to observe and question are in changing behaviors. The Best of B.O.L.D is just one organization that is involved in schools, there needs to be more and additional support in the community, from educators, administrators, guidance counselors and importantly parents.

B.O.L.D has conducted several Bullying trainings for parents provided by William Jackson; he has a passion for preventing Bullying, Cyberbullying, harassment, and other forms where children feel threatened and fearful. STOP Bullying Now efforts should grow with the help of attending organizations like Jacksonville Public Education Fund, Boys and Girls Clubs, War On Poverty, Habitat for Humanity and New Town Success Zone, organizations working to raise the learning levels of students, provide parents more opportunities to be involved.

B.O.L.D has worked with parents and students to continue to send a message through the building of a mural made from tiles, each tile was designed to send a positive message that will resonate throughout the school as it hangs honorably at S. P. Livingston. 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Dr Mike Robinson at Western Kentucky University Panel Discussion on Fathers

P.G. Schools CEO Maxwell to Represent Md. in National Superintendent Competition: by Courtney Jacobs AFRO Staff Writers

Prince George’s County Schools CEO Kevin M. Maxwell has been named Maryland Superintendent of the Year for 2014 by the Public School Superintendents’ Association of Maryland (PSSAM) for his work as chief of Anne Arundel County’s schools.

Maxwell, hired in June to turn around the Prince George’s school system, was applauded for narrowing the achievement gap in Anne Arundel and for forging strong ties with the Anne Arundel community.
He will represent the state in February at the National Conference on Education in Nashville, Tenn., at which a national superintendent of the year is to be named.

News of Maxwell’s award to represent the state came during the annual Maryland Negotiating Service Awards Banquet in Ocean City Nov. 1.

“This is one of the highest honors I have received during my 35-year career in education,” Maxwell said in a press release. “When you are selected by your peers for such recognition, it is both a thrilling and humbling experience. I extend my sincerest thanks to my colleagues for their nomination.”

“This award is well deserved and speaks volumes of Dr. Maxwell’s accomplishments and his on-going contributions to the field of education,” Prince George's County Executive Rushern L. Baker III said in a news release. “He brings the type of innovation and creativity to the job that we were looking for in our new Chief Executive Officer and our school system is fortunate to have him as our leader.”
In June, Baker appointed Maxwell as CEO for Prince George’s County.

To read more of  Courtney Jacobs article click here.

Addison By Dr. Elwood L. Robinson

My encounter with an 8-year African American male last Sunday left me with a range of emotions. I met him during a stop to get some very expensive gas in Clinton, North Carolina. He appeared to have been traveling with his family who had also stopped for gas. He was outside the family vehicle roaming around having a conversation with anyone who would listen. He approached my car and asked me if I knew several people who he called by name. In each case I replied that I did not know the person. Following my response he would tell me who the person was and point them out to me. These people were members of his traveling party and apparently his family. “Do you know Shirley Thompson,” he would say. “That’s my aunt,” and he would point to the person in the SUV. He then repeated the names and asked me if I knew the person. I responded “I do now.” He seemed pleased that I now knew the persons that he has just introduced to me. I reminded him that while he has introduced me to several people, he had not told me his name. “My name is Addison” he replied in a strong voice that denoted a sense of confidence. I told him that I thought Addison was a great name. He seemed pleased. I was next in line to pump gas and pulled my car forward to begin the process. As I began pumping gas, I was again approached by Addison who said” hello, I see you again.” The conversation shifted to an area that troubled me, especially coming from an 8-year old.

Addison is a small African American male. He communicates well and speaks in a voice that suggests confidence, strength and poise. Dressed in jeans and a t-shirt, he is the prototype of someone his age in this country. He comes across as very intelligent with a pleasant and pleasing personality. His communicative style was engaging but not overbearing. It has a maturity which suggests his conversational partners may primarily be adults. I can imagine that he is quite a handful at school and home. His energy and inquisitive nature can sometime be difficulty for parents and teachers to handle. He needs and seems to demand attention. I was impressed with his ability to listen.

He asked if I knew that this father had died. He said “my father got shot last night and we went to his funeral just now.” “Last night!” I responded in a voice that denoted surprise and compassion. Addison’s presentation of his father’s death and funeral was void of sadness or emotional connection. He then asked if I wanted to see a picture of his father in the casket. I nodded in the affirmative and he approached his mother who was standing outside of the vehicle on the passenger side. She appeared disinterested in him or our conversation. She reached into her back pocket, removed a cell phone, apparently turned to the photo section and handed the phone to Addison. Addison in turn gave me the phone to view the picture. It was a young, maybe mid-thirties, African American male lying in a coffin who had died as a result of gunshot. This is an all too common story in many part of these United States. I was sad and viewing this picture and talking to Addison about it gave me a strange feeling.

How does an 8-year old deal with losing his father and the graphic representation of his death on a cell phone. Is the gravity of this event, death, minimized or exacerbated by the picture. His face did not suggest sadness. His eyes were bright with a softness of caring. He could not express it but his eyes could not lie. There was something missing and something tells me it was not just the loss of his father. It was as if his soul had been scarred and the manifestation was emotional detachment. The coping strategy is probably age-appropriate; reduce the death to a game or photograph on a cell phone.

 “This is my daddy,” as he spoke with a sense of pride. Or at least he used to be, he left when I was two.” This time he spoke without pride but with a slight sense of anger and disappointment. “He still is” blurted his mother. These were the only words uttered during my brief encounter with Addison. Maybe that explains what I saw in his eyes. Will that memory become a permanent albatross or a source of motivation? Only time will tell.

There was one last conversation to have with Addison. “Where are you going,” he asked. Durham, I replied. “That’s a long ways,” he said. I said “yes it is.” Then Addison with all the sincerity and maturity that defied his youth said “you be careful.” I want desperately to believe that based upon that statement and the manner in which it was delivered, that Addison will be alright.

I immediately began thinking about Addison and his future. What are the consequences of seeing your father as an 8-year old in a casket after being shot. What message does this event send to Addison. How much of this does he really understand. I pray that Addison will grow up to be a strong black man with the courage and conviction to make the world a better place. I hope he achieves greatness. His spirit is strong and pure. Thank you for allowing me to see the kindred spirit that binds us all together. And I say to you as you said to me as I drove off on that beautiful Sunday afternoon. BE CAREFUL.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

County Executive Baker and New Schools Chief Executive Officer Maxwell to Attend Meet and Greet Hosted by the Board of Education at Crossland HS On July 10th

Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker, III and the new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Prince George’s County Public Schools, Dr. Kevin Maxwell will attend a meet and greet for residents at Crossland High School, 6901 Temple Hill Road, Temple Hills, MD, from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. on July 10, 2013. The event is being hosted by the Prince George’s County Board of Education and will provide residents with a chance to meet and talk with Dr. Maxwell.

The staff of Parental Engagement with PGCPS welcome Dr. Kevin Maxwell, new CEO of Prince George's County Public Schools

The staff of Parents and PGCPS welcome Dr. Kevin Maxwell, new CEO of Prince George's County Public Schools

County, State Leaders Welcome New Prince George's Schools Chief

Homecoming is the theme for Prince George's County Public Schools new CEO Dr. Kevin Maxwell.

Posted by Michael Theis (Editor), June 28, 2013 at 05:29 pm

Originally posted at 4:04 p.m., June 28 - Before a standing room-only crowd gathered in an atrium at Northwestern High School, County Executive Rushern Baker introduced new Prince George's County Public Schools CEO Dr. Kevin Maxwell with a simple message:

"Welcome home," said Baker, to applause. "Dr. Kevin Maxwell may not have started in the mailroom, but he did start in the classroom…he has learned every facet of school system operations in his journey, a journey which brings him back to Prince George's County."

Indeed, this is something of a homecoming for Maxwell, who graduated from Bladensburg High School in 1969, earned his bachelors and masters degrees in education from the University of Maryland and spent 22 years working in the Prince George's County public school system—first as a teacher, then a school administrator—before moving on to Montgomery County. Eventually he ended up in Anne Arundel County, where he is leaving his current post as superintendent after more than six years.

Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown praised Baker's selection of Maxwell to take on the county school system.

"This is the right choice at the right time to lead the Prince George's County school system to new heights," Brown said.

The location of the announcement, Northwestern High School, is also tied into Maxwell's history. He served as principal of the Hyattsville high school for eight years, during which time he oversaw the demolition of the school's old facility in 2000. He left the school for Montgomery County two months before the campus opened in its current, more modern form.

"This is the school that Dr. Maxwell built," Baker said. "He took a different approach because he had a vision to not just tear down a school, but build it."

Maxwell urged county residents to get involved in working to improve the school system.

"I cannot do this by myself. I need every one of you," he said to the crowd. "For every one of you who asks what are you going to do, I turn around and ask what are you going to do to help?"

He also said that the school system needs to make its case to recruit parents and students who, for whatever reason, have decided not to enroll.

"We have to make sure that those people who are not seeing Prince George's County Public Schools as their choice—that we are there for them too," said Maxwell. "There has to be the right programming, the right things that people are interested in."

In a press conference after the announcement, Maxwell said that he was committed to slowing the "revolving door" in the county school administration which sees experienced, high-ranking faculty and staff leaving PGCPS for other opportunities.

"The revolving door is a real problem," he said. "You can't keep starting and stopping, starting and stopping."

Maxwell said that he had no intention of making his new post a short term one.

"I'm here for the long haul," he said. "I've lived here my whole life, I certainly expect to have my contract renewed in four years, and I expect to be here a good while."

Correction - This article has been updated. An earlier version incorrectly listed the year the original Northwestern High School was demolished.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Segun Eubanks appointed Prince George's County Board of Education chairman

(AP/ABC7) - Prince George's County Executive Rushern Baker has appointed a new Board of Education chairman.

Baker's office says Dr. Segun Eubanks will be sworn in Saturday as board chairman under a new state law that takes effect Saturday. It allows the county executive to choose the county school board chair.
"Dr. Eubanks brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the board that will serve the children and families of this County well," Baker said in a statement. "We have worked together for two decades on education issues and his expertise in teacher quality and public education will be a tremendous asset to this board. "
Eubanks is director of teacher quality for the National Education Association and is a parent of two Prince George's students. Eubanks also served as chairman of Baker's commission on education for the past year. He replaces board chair Verjeana Jacobs.
In a statement, Baker thanked Jacobs for leading the board through difficult times. He says Eubanks brings an expertise in teacher quality and a vested interest in the schools, as a parent.
Four appointees will join nine elected school board members.
Would you like to contribute to this story? Join the discussion.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

NAACP Education Forum

Hello Engaged Parents and Dedicated Educators,
Do not forget about the NAACP Education Forum this Thursday, May 30th at 7pm...District Heights Municipal Center (2000 Marbury Drive). The Moderator is Mr. Curtis Valentine, former Executive Director,  MarylandCan (Maryland Campaign for Achievement Now)

NAACP Prince George's County, Maryland Branch Announcement
NAACP Prince George's County, Maryland Branch
9201 Basil Court, Suite 115
Largo, Maryland 20774

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Parent Talk Live: The Importance of Summer Reading

Dr. Mike Robinson, host of Parent Talk Live, discussed the importance of summer reading with his guest, Victoria Baker, Director of Community and District-wide Partnerships Scholastic Classroom and Community Group.
In a 2009 government web cast, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan described summer learning loss as “devastating.”  This is what researchers have often referred to as the “summer slide.”  It is estimated that school summer breaks will cause the average student to lose up to one month of instruction, with disadvantaged students being disproportionately affected (Cooper, 1996). 
Researchers conclude that two-thirds of the 9th grade reading achievement gap can be explained by unequal access to summer learning opportunities during the elementary school years, with nearly one-third of the gap present when children begin school (Alexander, Entwistle & Olsen, 2007).  The body of existing research demonstrates the critical importance that the early development of summer reading habits can play in providing the foundation for later success.  Summer learning research can be broadly categorized under the following themes:
  1. The impact of summer learning loss on disadvantaged youth
  2. Access to books and time devoted to reading
  3. The importance of successful reading experiences
  4. The impact of innovative summer reading programs

Pr. George’s BOE responds to adding 15 new employees

The Prince George’s County Board of Education released an e-mail statement Wednesday about its decision to hire 15 new employees to work for the school board.
The board voted 7-1 on May 9 to approve the emergency measure. School board member Donna Hathaway Beck (District 9) was opposed, and Carletta Fellows (District 7) was absent.
Hathaway Beck said previously that she didn't think that the measure qualified to be considered as an emergency. She said it didn't allow the public to have input on the spending.
“The Prince George’s County Board of Education voted to realign funds within their FY2014 operating budget to accommodate the addition of 15 new positions. The positions were created in response to HB 1107, Section 4-401, which charges the Board to “(1) raise the level of academic achievement of the students in the Prince George’s County Public School System, and (2) raise the level of engagement of the parents, students, and community as a whole,” the statement reads.
The hiring action, which was approved with no discussion, comes with a $145,000 one-month price tag for the remainder of the current fiscal year and is projected to cost the school system nearly $2 million next year.
The statement also said: “The addition of nine District Liaison positions will significantly improve the Board’s ability to raise the level of community and parental engagement in all Board districts. In addition, five new administrator positions will directly support schools by providing technical assistance and professional development that support efforts to raise student achievement. To accommodate the four new appointed members of the Board, staffing resources were realigned to cover the cost of adding these members, as well as add an additional secretarial position to provide administrative support.”

Crawley plans to stay in Prince George’s

Prince George’s County School Board Chairman Verjeana Jacobs (District 5) said Friday that Alvin Crawley, the county’s interim school superintendent, has agreed to stay in his position until school reopens in August.
Crawley did not return repeated calls for comment on Friday.  County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D) said Thursday that he planned to ask Crawley, who has served since September, to rescind his resignation. His original contract was scheduled to end on June 30, but Crawley submitted his resignation last month and was scheduled to leave on June 3.
Some worried that Crawley’s decision would create additional uncertainty for the school system, which has had rapid turnover. The decision came after the General Assembly approved legislation that gives Baker the power to select the new schools chief, appoint three school board members and name the board chairman and vice chair.
Crawley has served as interim superintendent since September, replacing William R. Hite Jr., who left to take the top job in Philadelphia. Crawley became the school system’s seventh schools chief in 14 years.
Jacobs said during a “unity” breakfast hosted by Baker that the board knows changes are coming, and “we are doing what we need to do to make the shifts.”
Jacobs used the breakfast to provide those in attendance with information about successes in the system: 235 of the 250 graduates at Largo High School are headed to college; Central High School seniors received $2.9 million in scholarships, and Oxon Hill High School seniors received $4.6 million.
“At the end of the day, if adults fail, kids fail,” Jacobs said. “It is our obligation.”
Christian Rhodes, Baker’s education liaison, said Baker has been meeting with members of the school board, union leaders and employees.
He said a committee has been selected that will review the 160 applications for the three new appointed spots on the school board. M.H. Jim Estepp, president of the Greater Prince George’s Business Roundtable and a member of Baker’s education commission, will serve as chair.
Baker told the group that he apologized for the timing of his legislation to take over the school system. But he did not apologize for doing it.
“Whether you are for what we did or not, we are all tied to it now,” he said.

Audit: Prince George's County schools used stimulus funds for principals' watches, microwave ovens

A federal audit shows that Prince George's County schools misused nearly $167,000 in stimulus money on things like a microwave oven and mini fridge for a school administrator, engraved watches for principals and a legal book on the firing of school employees.
The audit by the U.S. Department of Education's Office of the Inspector General also found that Prince George's schools couldn't produce adequate paperwork to back up an additional $124,000 in stimulus expenses, including electric bills, over payments to vendors, catering end-of-year events and a mother-daughter tea.
The report reviewed how Prince George's and Baltimore City schools spent federal grant money in 2009 and 2010. It also found that Prince George's school teachers and officials were using tablet computers for personal use and had downloaded unauthorized applications, such as the games Angry Birds and Words With Friends, the Bible and instant messaging service Skype.
Those unallowed expenditures include $8,736 for 145 engraved watches and velvet bags to hold them, 100 engraved laser pens that doubled as USB drives and 150 personalized folders that were handed out during a 2011 principals' meeting. Prince George's schools also spent $525 for a trip to a skating rink for students who improved their behavior and $1,083 for a rental car that the school district can't provide a receipt for.
"We are aware of the draft audit report findings, and have responded with our comments," Prince George's County Public Schools spokesman Briant Coleman wrote in an email. "While we do not concur with a number of the findings, we do agree there is room for improvement and we will continue to work with [the U.S. Department of Education] to rectify this matter."
Prince George's County argued in a response to the government that $124,369 of the $166,606 in expenditures that auditors found to be unallowable were actually permitted under the rules of the grants. The county said it did indeed have documentation to back up $95,994 of the $123,889 in inadequately supported or unsupported expenditures.
Prince George's County Executive Rushern Baker has pushed for more control over a school system that has lagged behind neighbors in test scores and has had trouble keeping superintendents. The General Assembly earlier this year passed a bill to allow Baker to appoint a superintendent from a list provided by an independent committee, as well as add new members to the school board.
A spokesman for Baker did not respond to a request for comment.
The audit recommends that Prince George's County return the money it wasn't authorized to spend and any money for which it can't provide proper documentation.
Maryland Department of Education spokesman Bill Reinhard said the state is providing more information and working with the federal government to resolve the findings of the audit and wouldn't comment further until that process is complete.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Pr. George’s official tapped as chief of staff for Montgomery schools superintendent

Katherine Frey/The Washington Post - Montgomery County Schools Superintendent Joshua Starr on July 25, 2011, at Richard Montgomery High School in Rockville.

Andrew Zuckerman will serve as Montgomery County Schools Superintendent Joshua P. Starr’s new chief of staff starting June 17.

Zuckerman is an associate superintendent in Prince George’s County public schools and will replace Brian Edwards. Edwards has been chief of staff since October 2007, but added duties overseeing the school system’s communications department when the chief communications person left in 2010.

Starr said having a chief of staff dedicated solely to overseeing the operations of the superintendent's office will be important as Montgomery takes on new initiatives to redefine the county’s definition of a successful student. Starr has added social emotional well-being and creative problem solving to the cadre of skills students should have upon graduating Montgomery schools, along with the traditional academic competencies.

The switch will allow Edwards to focus on communications, which will become increasingly important as the system grows and the district plans to expand Curriculum 2.0 in grades 4 and 5 next school year.
“Despite the most heroic efforts, it’s not always possible to do two jobs at once,” Starr said of splitting the chief of staff’s responsibilities.

Edwards was a key part in helping Starr transition as head of Montgomery County schools after Starr left his job leading the school system in Stamford, Conn. Starr has been superintendent in Montgomery County since July 2011.

Before coming to Prince George’s, Zuckerman served as an administrator for public charter schools in Brooklyn, N.Y., and New Haven, Conn. He also worked as dean of students at KIPP DC: Key Academy in Washington, D.C.

Zuckerman’s position doesn’t increase the budget since the school system plans to use existing funds to make the change, according to school officials.

Samuel Ogle educator named 2013 Christa McAuliffe Outstanding Teacher

2013 McAuliffe Award

William Moulden, science teacher at Samuel Ogle Middle School, was recently selected as recipient of the 2013 Christa McAuliffe Outstanding Teacher Award. Moulden was selected for this honor by a peer committee of Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) educators. “Mr. Moulden exemplifies the creativity and excellence in instruction that we strive to recognize through the Christa McAuliffe Award,” said Dr. Alvin L. Crawley, Interim Superintendent of Schools. "To be selected by a committee of fellow educators makes this honor all the more meaningful."

Moulden will be honored by the Prince George’s County Board of Education and school system administrators during the annual Employee Recognition Dinner on May 30. In addition, his name will be inscribed on a plaque displayed in the Board of Education Meeting Room at the Sasscer Administration Building in Upper Marlboro.

Moulden is a veteran educator with 36 years of experience. Twenty-five of those years have been spent serving PGCPS students, and he has been teaching sixth-grade science at Samuel Ogle for the past eight years. School staff nominated him for the award not only for his experience and effectiveness in the classroom, but also for his enthusiasm, charisma and ability to excite students about science.

“William Moulden is an outstanding teacher – one of the best in our school,” said principal Mark Covington. “He influences students and peers alike, and like Christa McAuliffe, he is fully committed to education.”

A leader at his school, Moulden is Grade Level Chair, member of the School-Based Leadership Team and photo assistant for the school’s Yearbook Club. Colleagues describe him as having a “highly-engaging” and “student-driven” teaching style that appeals to all students. As testament to his success in the classroom, outgoing eighth-graders have voted him the “Teacher That Makes Learning Fun” for the past three years in a row.

Moulden earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Baker University in Kansas. He went on to earn a master’s degree in education administration from the University of Missouri at Kansas City, just because he felt that he “should have some appreciation of schoolhouse administrative burdens.” He has kept his teaching “fresh” throughout his career by taking part in many professional development opportunities, both inside and outside of the school system. In 2005, he earned national board certification – the highest certification a teacher can achieve – from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS). He also received his principal licensure certification in 2007.

Moulden has been an active member of the National Education Association (NEA) since 1975, serving in a variety of positions, and is currently his school’s representative. A former Green Beret Sergeant, Moulden continues to support the military community by leading the “Treats for Troops” initiative at Samuel Ogle that to date has sent more than 93 parcels – or 8.4 tons – of comfort items and treats to those serving in Afghanistan, Iraq and at sea. He is also a political advocate for education, and in wake of the incident at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Connecticut, initiated legislation in Maryland that would provide a death benefit to children of teachers killed in action.

The Christa McAuliffe Award honors an outstanding educator based on competitive standards of excellence established by other teachers. The award is a tribute to McAuliffe, America’s Teacher-In-Space, who was lost in the January 1986 explosion of the Space Shuttle Challenger. McAuliffe taught in Prince George’s County from 1971 to 1978.

The following teachers joined Moulden as nominees for this year’s award: 

Sarah Barias, Panorama ES
Cassandra Daniel, Lamont ES
Gina Losey, Brandywine ES
Michelle Macanlalay, Oxon Hill ES
Cynthia Manos, Lake Arbor ES
Marivit Mariano, Panorama ES
Melanie McLaughlin, Riverdale ES
Sharada Muralidaran, Adelphi ES
Ibrahim Omar, John Hanson French Immersion
LeAnn Reddick-Weatherspoon, Cool Spring ES

Prince George’s school board adds 15 new employees weeks before Baker takeover

In one of its final actions under the current school governance structure, the Prince George’s County Board of Education voted to hire more than a dozen employees who will work for and report to the board. The emergency measure, which was approved with no discussion, comes with a $145,000 one-month price tag for the remainder of the current fiscal year and is projected to cost the school system nearly $2 million next year.

The action comes just weeks before state legislation is scheduled to take effect that allows Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker III (D) to select the school system’s school superintendent, known as the chief executive officer. Baker will also be able to appoint three board members, creating a hybrid school board, and choose the board chair and vice chair.

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Friday, April 26, 2013

Bright Futures for Students are Fading

High school students and their parents experience high stress and anxiety the closer a students’ senior year comes. Senior years are a time for celebrations, high expectations, looking towards future careers and entering into higher education. College and university entrance opens doors to brighter futures for youth especially Black youth seeking to better their lives.

A young person with a college degree will make a million dollars more than a young person with just a high school diploma. Even McDonalds, Burger King and other establishments will or are requiring their management people to have a minimum of two years college education.  New standards would dim many students Bright Future opportunities as the Bright Future Scholarships goes under many changes and modifications. Florida is known for its educational reform, but many parents wonder if these reforms are designed to keep minority students and students of color from obtaining a college education. More students of color are attending some type of higher educational institution and entering in careers that they normally don’t show an interest. Even in STEAM – Science Technology Engineering Arts Mathematics there is a growing minority presence because technology allows Black students better opportunities for exposure and employment. Are minorities being systematically being closed out of earning a college degree to keep them from growing?

Bright Futures program was designed to reward high-achieving high school students with the cost of college. Orlando Sentinel’s Scott Travis and Denise-Marie Ordway have written that new state rules may slash the number of Florida students eligible for the state's most popular type of Bright Futures scholarship. One of the requirements students will have to score higher on tests to be eligible for the scholarship rewards. This will drastically impact students and hurt many students particularly minority first generation college students. The opportunities for a quality college education are slowly diminishing for youth and parents need to be prepared to provide more financial support and look for alternative financial resources. The state of Florida has four Bright Futures scholarships the most popular is the Florida Medallion scholarship. The Legislature in 2011 toughened criteria so that students entering college in the fall of 2014 will need higher ACT and SAT scores than in the past to be eligible to qualify.

Students will have to score at least an 1170 on the SAT in 2014, up from 980 in 2012. The best possible SAT score, when math and critical-reading sections are combined, is a 1600. The minimum required ACT score rises to 26. The cutoff score last fall was 21, the highest possible composite ACT score of 36. That means students will really need to focus on academics skill sets when taking these assessments. As a parent I had my children take both the SAT and ACT twice to obtain as high a score as possible. I encouraged them when they entered into high school to be a part of academic clubs and organizations to build on their academic abilities early, looking towards the future. Sports was secondary academics was primary, but the involvement in extra-curricular activities was important to because of the exposure to new ideas, critical thinking skills and higher order learning. During the summers we attended events at the libraries, museums, etc. to continue to build on knowledge.

Parents need to understand that even in high school they need to stay in contact with their children’s teachers, administrators and even guidance counselors. On several occasions I had to meet with guidance counselors because I felt that I was not taken seriously and provided with enough and the proper information to make good decisions about my children and their college entrance. That is the responsibility of a parent to stay engaged and ask questions. There are no stupid questions when the needs of your child are the priority. Don’t rely totally on your child and expect them to know everything, they are still children and concerned with academics, assessments and other stresses. Parents should talk to their children regularly.

A disservice is being done to Historically Black Colleges and Universities. The changes will affect the tuition at these schools and the desire of students, not just Blacks, but other races from attending. The fear is that many freshmen entering HBCU’s would not qualify for Bright Futures in 2014. My son attends #FAMU, his major is Microbiology and he is an honors student. These changes may not affect him, his sister will be affected, she is a junior in high school and will graduate in 2014, so it is vital for her to continue to be academically successful and a strong test taker even if it means tutoring. Black parents need to realize if their children are struggling there is no shame to ask for a tutor. 

Malcolm X made the statement: “By any means necessary” this can be used in education also, use all means to
make sure your child is successful tutors, visits to libraries and museums, academic programs, etc.
Major universities will see the affects in their Freshmen classes, many freshmen at the Universities of Central Florida, Florida and Florida State University received scholarships last school year. Their numbers may drop when the new requirements are imposed. The opinions from school administrators and parents is rising, Michele Erickson, Principal at Orlando's Edgewater High School, "I'm definitely concerned that not as many students will have the benefit of such a great opportunity." Conner Gilbert, Assistant Principal at Harmony High School in Harmony, “such a jump makes the Florida Medallion almost untouchable for the vast majority of our students." Parents talk to guidance counselors about scholarships, grants, Internships and other financial options. Don’t wait until too late as deadlines get closer. The competition will be fierce for what
little monies are available, research scholarships where ever possible.


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The Middle School Years

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