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.


John Hanson French Immersion Parent Named PIMA Finalist

April 25, 2013
For Immediate Release
Office of Communications
2013 PIMA Semifinalist
UPPER MARLBORO, MD - Kimberly Hall, parent volunteer at John Hanson French Immersion School in Hillcrest Heights, has been named a semifinalist and will represent Prince George's County in the competition for the 2013 Parent Involvement Matters Award (PIMA). Five finalists and the statewide winner will be announced during a gala event on May 17 at Eastern Technical High School in Baltimore.
"We are extremely proud of the many contributions Mrs. Hall has made to her children's school," said Dr. Alvin L. Crawley, Interim Superintendent of Schools. "She truly sets the bar for parent involvement, and we wish her all the best on May 17 when the winner of the award is announced."

The PIMA Program, created by the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE), recognizes parents from local school systems across the State of Maryland who have been nominated for their contributions in one or more of the following areas: Communication, Volunteering, Learning, Decision Making and Community Collaboration. It is the nation's first statewide initiative to recognize parents and legal guardians for their exceptional support of public education. The program's theme, "Choose Your Seat. Get Involved." encourages parents to get involved by making the point that there are many ways to support public school education.

"Mrs. Hall volunteers and works tirelessly with our school administration, county Board Members and parents to ensure that matters pertinent to our school's program are addressed," said Lysianne Essama, principal of John Hanson French Immersion School. "I continue to be impressed with Mrs. Hall's ethics, consistency and reliability evidenced by the actions she has conducted in our school; actions that have helped shape and improve our French Immersion program."

Hall's contributions have been many and varied. She's served as Classroom Mom, currently oversees the school's Middle School Programs and started the school's annual Black History Celebration. She is a member of the school's Parent-Teacher-Student Association (PTSA), was elected to serve as PTSA President for two terms (2008-2010), acted as the PTSA School Board Liaison (2010-2012) and currently serves as the PTSA Program Chair. Hall formed and led a committee that successfully established a school uniform policy in 2009.

Hall has also expanded academic enrichment opportunities for students, including bringing the Mad Science program to the school to improve science scores on the Maryland School Assessment (MSA), leading after-school dance classes and initiating the Mandarin Club to offer middle school students the chance to experience the Chinese language and culture. Most importantly, she played a major role in the quest to find a new site for the expanding French Immersion program - which has since moved into the former Shugart middle school site.

Hall is married, has a career and has three children who attend John Hanson French Immersion School in kindergarten and grades 2 and 6.

For more information about this year's PIMA program, click here. To read bios of all 24 nominees for the 2013 PIMA Award, click here.

Statement from the Board of Education regarding the earlier departure of Interim Superintendent of Schools Dr. Alvin L. Crawley

April 25, 2013
For Immediate Release
Office of Communications
On Thursday, April 25, Prince George's County Public Schools Interim Superintendent of Schools Dr. Alvin L. Crawley notified the Board of Education of his intent to resign effective June 3, 2013. The Board has accepted Dr. Crawley's resignation. 

Statement from the Board of Education regarding the earlier departure of Interim Superintendent of Schools Dr. Alvin L. Crawley:
We are saddened by Dr. Crawley’s decision to leave early; however, due to the passage of the recent legislation changing the governance structure of our school system, we fully understand. We regretfully accept Dr. Crawley’s resignation and express our gratitude and appreciation for his consistent dedication to student achievement.”
Statement from Interim Superintendent of Schools Dr. Alvin L. Crawley: “It is with mixed emotions that I submit my letter of resignation effective June 3, 2013. I have enjoyed my tenure as Interim Superintendent of Schools and appreciate the support of our Board, staff, parents, students, and members of the community. I am very proud of the accomplishments we have achieved during my tenure.”
Background: Dr. Crawley was hired in August of 2012 under a contract that was set to expire on June 30, 2013. Maryland House Bill 1107, which passed on April 9, 2013, significantly changes the governance structure of PGCPS by giving the County Executive the authority to appoint the Superintendent of Schools as well as the Chair and Vice Chair of the Board of Education.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Parent Talk Live: Part 2-Teacher Attrition

Dr. Mike Robinson, host of Parent Talk Live on Sunday, April 21, 2013 at 8:00 pm concluded his two part discussion on Teacher Attrition.  Is the American teaching profession in trouble?  Does the profession which serves as the gateway to nearly every occupation in the world garner the appropriate honor and importance in society today? How much of the challenges facing teachers are created by demand parents, increase student accountability and potentially poor working conditions? 

Dr. Robinson was joined by Gail P. Bingham. Ms. Bingham is a veteran teacher of more than 21 years and she is the author of a soon to be released book TEACHING Is The New Slavery. In her book, Ms. Bingham explores what she describes as a culture of persecution, retaliation, abuse, bullying and harassment as means to control teachers, which ultimately drives many teachers to leave the profession. Ms. Bingham suggests teacher attrition rates are to a large extent attributed to the "Pressures teachers face from administrators and other members of the community due to an expectation that teachers are solely responsible for student success and failure." She also believes the pressure and mistreatment experienced by teachers has led to tragic outcomes and simply quitting is the least of the effects on the lives of educators.

To listen to this amazing discussion click here!

County Executive and County Council Accept Applications for Appointments to Prince George’s County Board of Education


For immediate release:
April 19, 2013

For more information, contact:
Scott Peterson
Deputy Manager of Communications, Press Secretary
Office of Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker, III

Karen D. Campbell
County Council Office of Communications

UPPER MARLBORO, MD – Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker, III and the Prince George’s County Council are accepting applications from residents who are interested in serving as appointed members of the Prince George’s County Board of Education.  These appointments are the result of the new school governance structure laid out in Maryland House of Delegates Bill (HB) 1107 , recently signed into law by Governor Martin O’Malley.
Under the new structure, the County Executive and County Council are required to appoint a total of four members to the Board of Education. The County Executive's three appointments must demonstrate high knowledge and/ or experience in at least one or more of the following areas: education; business/finance; higher education and management (non-profit, private or public sector). The County Council appointment must be the parent of a student currently enrolled in the County public schools system.  Appointees, who must be County residents, will serve four-year terms.

Applications are available on the County website, in public libraries and the County Administration Building upon request. Applications should be emailed to or mailed/delivered to the Office of the County Executive, County Administration Building 14741 Governor Oden Bowie Drive Upper Marlboro, Maryland 20772-3050.  All applications must be postmarked or date stamped by Friday, May 10, 2013. Incomplete applications will not be considered.

Applications will be reviewed and referred for final consideration by the County Executive and County Council. Additional information may be requested of appointment finalists.

HB-1107, which goes into effect on June 1, 2013, also enables County Executive Rushern L. Baker III to select the next Superintendent who, pursuant to the legislation, will be referred to as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Prince George’s County Public Schools.   The legislation authorizes the Governor to appoint a three-member selection committee for the CEO of PGCPS that will identify three finalists.  The County Executive will choose the new CEO from the finalists referred to him by the selection committee.  
Visit Parents and PGCPS at:

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Parent Talk Live: Interview with Dr. Francis Shen

Dr. Mike Robinson, host of Parent Talk Live discussed the effectiveness of Mayoral governance of public schools. According to a recent study commissioned by the Center for America Progress entitled: Mayoral Governance and Student Achievement: How Mayor-Led Districts Are Improving School and Student Performance Mayoral control schools over a 15-year period were positively associated with investment in teaching staff, more spending on instruction, smaller student-teacher ratios, a greater percentage of resources allocated for K-12 student support, a larger percentage of revenue from state.

Joining Dr. Robinson to examine the efficiency of school systems lead by Mayors was Francis X. Shen,Ph.D.  Dr. Shen is the co-author of the Mayoral Governance and Student Achievement: How Mayor-Led Districts Are Improving School and Student Performance report commissioned by Center for America Progress.  Dr. Shen will discuss the findings of his report and outline the challenges of a public school takeover.

About Dr. Francis X. Shen

Dr. Shen is an Associate Professor of Law at the University of Minnesota Law School, where he teaches Education Law and Policy. Dr. Shen conducts empirical and legal research at the intersection of law and neuroscience, with a particular focus on the domains of education and crime. He received his B.A. from the University of Chicago, his J.D. from Harvard Law School, and his Ph.D. from Harvard University. He was a doctoral fellow in the Harvard University Multidisciplinary Program in Inequality & Social Policy, supported by the National Science Foundation. Dr. Shen has published a number of articles on urban education governance, and co-authored The Education Mayor (2007, Georgetown Univ. Press).

Highlights of Prince George’s County school plan

By Ovetta Wiggins,April 11, 2013

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) signed a bill this week that gives County Executive Rushern L. Baker III more authority to govern the struggling Prince George’s County school system.
Baker (D) had sought a complete overhaul of the state’s second-largest school system, one that would have put him in charge of the new superintendent and the system’s $1.7 billion budget.
He said deficiencies in public education were hindering the county’s ability to draw businesses and new residents, and argued that one person — the county executive — should be held responsible for schools.
State lawmakers approved a compromise bill that allows Baker to select the superintendent, appoint three members to the school board and name the board’s chair and vice chair. The school board makes final decisions on the budget.
The change comes as the school system, which has experienced rapid leadership turnover, searches for its sixth superintendent in 10 years. William R. Hite Jr., the former superintendent, resigned last year to become the Philadelphia schools chief.
Here are some of the other highlights of the schools bill, which goes into effect on June 1.
- The county executive must appoint one board member with education experience; one member with business, finance or higher education experience; and one member with management experience in business, nonprofit or government work.
- The County Council must appoint one board member who is a parent with a child in the school system.
- New appointees to the board will serve four-year, staggered terms.
- The board chair and vice chair will serve two-year terms.
- The vice chair must be selected from among the elected members.
- The county executive will fill vacancies on the board. The County Council needs a two-thirds vote to reject a nominee.
- The schools superintendent will be known as the chief executive officer of the system.
- A three-member search committee will recommend three potential schools CEOs to the county executive.
- The search committee must include a member of the state Board of Education, selected by the state superintendent, and two county residents, selected by O’Malley.
- The school board chair will negotiate the CEO’s four-year contract.
- The CEO’s role is to manage day-to-day school system operations, including the management of activities related to administration, instructional salaries and student transportation.
- The CEO sets salaries of executive staff, and provides oversight of the fiscal affairs of the school system. The CEO will hire a chief financial officer, a chief academic officer, a chief of staff, a board liaison and any other necessary executive staff.
- The board can implement a policy or contradict the day-to-day management and oversight of fiscal affairs of the CEO unless it two-thirds of the members vote to do so.

Housing and Education

Michel Davis Robinson host of Living Education eHousing discussed the impact of the practice of housing discrimination on educational opportunities with Rose Mayes, Executive Director Fair Housing Council of Riverside County, Inc. (FHCRC).
The Fair Housing Council of Riverside County, a non-profit organization that fights to protect the housing rights of all individuals. This organization is approved by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), works with government offices to ensure Fair Housing laws are upheld.   Since 1986, FHCRC has strived to ensure that all individuals will live free from unlawful housing practices and discrimination.  In addition to anti-discrimination services, this organization also provides a number of other services, which are described under the “Services” drop-down menu.

Listen Here:

Dr. Elaine Simon, Urban Studies Univ. of Penn. discusses the impact of school closings on communities

Dr. Mike Robinson discussed the  His guest was Dr. Elaine Simon from the University of Pennsylvania. Recently, Dr. Simon wrote an article where she examined what school closings really mean to neighborhoods. According to Dr. Simon’s research and those of other scholars; most students from schools recommended for closing in Philadelphia for example would not end up in better-performing schools. They are likely to wind up in schools much like the ones they were in before.
Given this assertion, the questions one has to ask are: 

(1) Why are schools closing?

(2) How will students benefit from closing of their neighborhood schools? 

(3) What becomes of the teachers and school administrators of those schools that are forced to close? 

(4) How should parents, teachers and community leaders measure the success of closing schools beyond any monetary gains? 

(5) Finally, should the cost of operating schools be the sole factor in determine which schools are closed?


Elaine Simon is co-director of the Urban Studies Program at the University of Pennsylvania and a senior research consultant at Research for Action. Elaine Simon is an anthropologist who has conducted ethnographic research and evaluation in the fields of education, employment and training, and community development. She is Co-Director of Urban Studies in the School of Arts and Sciences and adjunct Associate Professor of Education in the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania.

Living Education eTalk Radio

We are proud to announce our new line up on Living Education eTalk Radio: The Ashley Hill Show: hosted by Ashley Hill; Know It All ABCs of Education: hosted By Allison Brown, Esq.; Parent Talk Live: hosted by Dr. Mike Robinson; The iCollege Tour Series: hosted by Michel Davis-Robinson’ The Dr. Stephen Jones Show: hosted by Dr. Stephen Jones and The Total Tutor Show: hosted by Neil Haley and The Student2Teacher radio show hosted by Dr. Danita Applewhite and The College Savvy radio show hosted by Sia Knight
Listen To Living Education eTalk Radio:

Photos of the 2010 Parental Engagement Conference

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The Middle School Years

Visits From Engaged Parents and Dedicated Educators