Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Collision Involving School Bus in Wheaton at Connecticut and Randolph

http://www.mymcmedia.org/collision-involving-school-bus-in-wheaton-at-connecticut-and-randolph-photo/

Parents have been urged to limit screen time at home, now it's time to address the same dangers at school.

Guidelines needed for screen safety at school

The National Educational Technology Plan, released just weeks ago by the U.S. Department of Education, encourages more computer use in the classroom. However, it makes no mention of any health risks to students, even though the U.S. Surgeon General's Office has safety guidelines that limit screen time, as does the American Academy of Pediatrics. The state's lengthy guiding documents, such as the Maryland Educational Technology Plan, also promote additional computer use at school while failing to mention any health risks to students. Since the health warnings are ignored by the educational leadership at the national level, it's not surprising that state and local leaders also fail to protect students.

Perform an online search for the phrase "Computer Vision Syndrome" or "digital eye strain" and you will learn how well documented the dangers of screens are: nearsightedness, blurry vision, dry eyes, headaches and neck and shoulder pain. And the way children use screens makes them particularly vulnerable to complications: They stare at them for long periods without taking significant breaks; computer work stations often don't fit them well; and they don't complain about blurry vision because they don't realize it's a problem that will just get worse.

If your child is having trouble sleeping, school assignments that require computer use in the evening could be the cause. Blue light emissions reduce melatonin, which is needed for sleep. Additional issues arise when a child isn't rested, including behavioral problems, irritability and the inability to concentrate. A child glued to a computer also isn't exercising, which contributes to childhood obesity, another major concern of the U.S. Surgeon General and the American Academy of Pediatrics. Children's eyes may also absorb more blue light than adults from digital device screens, according to a recent study, putting them at greater risk for premature retinal damage risk.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has had guidelines for using computer monitors safely at work since at least 1997...

 http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/oped/bs-ed-children-technology-20160201-story.html

"I am appalled that any public agency would publish such misrepresentations including outright falsities." Engineer Lloyd Morgan's letter to MCPS

Dear Montgomery County Board of Education,

I have read the online report “MCPS Statement Concerning Deployment of Wireless Computing Technologies,” and I am appalled that any public agency would publish such misrepresentations including outright falsities.

To reply in detail to these misrepresentations and false statements in detail would result in a very long letter.  Instead I will give two brief examples, but would be glad to provide a full report should the Board of Education request such a report.

First, let me give you a short background on my qualifications.  I have published peer-reviewed research studies on adverse effects resulting from exposure to radio frequency radiation (RFR).  I am an electronic engineer with 38 years of high tech corporate experience to the Vice-Presidential level. Since 1995 when I entered the field of bioelectromagnetics (the science of the interaction of biology with electromagnetic radiation), until the present, I have involved in the field of bioelectromagnetics.  A partial list of my publications follows this letter.

The World Health Organization (WHO), via its International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) declared in May 2011 that RFR is a Group 2B (possible) Human Carcinogen (among other 287 Group 2B carcinogens are: DDT, Diesel fuel, gasoline, and phenobarbital).  Would MCPS knowingly expose its school children to these Group 2B Carcinogens?

The MCPS website cited above discusses the installation of Wi-Fi throughout the school district. This creates RFR in every classroom.  The primary exposure will be from wireless transmitting devices (WTDs) used by the students to access the Internet via Wi-Fi routers located throughout the school. The reason the WTDs are the primary source of exposure is because RFR decreases very rapidly with distance from the source.  In a typical classroom, almost all of the RFR exposure for a given student comes from the given student’s own WTD and from those other students’ WTDs nearby (from her/his left and right, front and back).

Children’s risk from exposure to any carcinogen is greater than an adult’s risk, and the younger the child the higher the risk; the younger the child, the greater the rate of cell division.

MCPS poses 10 hypothetical questions then provides answers. All the answers include misrepresentations and outright false statement which as noted below I would glad to discuss with the Board of Education in person, should the Board request.[1]  Here I include a couple of the most egregious MCPS answers:

1.     MCPS’ answer to question 9 includes, “Using the Group 2B classification of the entire spectrum of radiofrequencies as an indication that Wi-Fi is harmful when the classification came about due to extremely heavy cell phone use and not Wi-Fi does not accurately represent the intention of the classification.”

First, the “extremely heavy cell phone use” to reach the Group 2B Human Carcinogen was at the highest risk level was about 27 minutes per day.  The students’ exposure per day is the length of the school day.

Second, Dr. Robert Baan who led the IARC investigation by 30 experts from 14 countries, the intention of the study was “to assess the carcinogenicity of radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMF).” In regard to children Baan stated, “When used by children, the average RF energy deposition is two times higher in the brain and up to ten times higher in the bone marrow of the skull, compared with mobile phone use by adults.” [Lancet-Oncology (July 2011)]

2.     MCPS answer to question 5 includes, “The FCC, the American Cancer Society (ACS), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the National Cancer Institute (NCI) all have conducted reviews as recently as 2013 and found that there is no basis to establish a different safety threshold.”

None of these organizations have conducted any such reviews.

It should be noted that insurance companies will not write health liability insurance policies from exposures to RFR.  This places MCPS at substantial risk.  There is an alternative to the use of Wi-Fi to connect to the Internet.  Non-radiating broadband cable installation is the alternative.

Finally, there are multiple human epidemiological studies from multiple countries reporting statistically significant risk for brain, eye, hearing nerve, salivary gland, and leukemia cancers from exposure to RFR. Additionally, there are cell, animal and human studies showing deleterious effects on sperm including but not limited to sperm DNA fragmentation.  I can provide a bibliography of these studies upon request.

I invite you to read some my published research.
L. Lloyd Morgan

Senior Research Fellow, Environmental Health Trust


Monday, February 8, 2016

Board of Education Will Ask For Million More in Next Year’s Schools Budget that Superintendent Requested

Board of Education Will Ask For Million More in Next Year’s Schools Budget that Superintendent Requested: Board has prioritized its request with three tiers that include funding for more teachers and a bigger high school graduation venue

Corporations Now Have Voting Rights in Montgomery County PTAs

Your local PTA is now longer just the voice of parents and guardians.  

Montgomery County PTAs are now giving corporations voting rights in local PTAs.  

This is not a corporation donating to a PTA, this is giving a corporation an actual membership with voting rights in PTAs.  Google, Pearson, FieldTurf, and many of the other Board of Education no-bid favorite corporations should be snapping up PTA memberships to ensure their continued presence in MCPS classrooms. 




Sunday, February 7, 2016

NYC Schools To Close Monday For Lunar New Year

NYC Schools To Close Monday For Lunar New Year: This is the first time city schools will have a day off for the holiday.

Radon hot spots revealed in new MCPS tests

Roughly two months after the Parents' Coalition initially revealed the MCPS had not taken remediation action to reduce
high levels of radon at dozens of schools, new test results are gradually being made public.   The newest results can be found at:

http://www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org/departments/facilities/maintenance/default.aspx?id=460457

DuFief Elementary School is one of many that continue to show high levels of radon.   The new tests show that 24 of the 50 rooms have levels at or above the EPA "action level" of 4.0 Ci/L.   Note, however, that a level below 4.0 Ci/L is not considered a "safe" level.

Friday, February 5, 2016

"Charette is French for Charade" - Planned Overcrowding of Public Schools

Tom Hearn gave the following public comment at the February 4, 2016, Montgomery County Council public hearing on the Westbard Sector Plan.  
Mr. Hearn's statement applies to a number of communities that have participated in the County planning process in the last few years. 


WPost: “People are still divided about Jack.”

...As word began to circulate Thursday about the board’s expected choice, some were disappointed that the next superintendent would not reflect the increasing diversity of the school system. Smith is the system’s third white male superintendent in a row, following Starr and Jerry Weast.
“I think it’s time that people be a little more bold with their leadership choices,” said Joseph Hawkins, a longtime activist on education issues in Montgomery.
“Our leaders should reflect the new demographics,” he said.
Durso, the school board president, said that diversity in leadership “was an important factor and remains an important factor, but we felt we made the best choice.” 

 https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/montgomery-is-expected-to-name-a-new-schools-superintendent-thursday/2016/02/04/155f9db2-caca-11e5-ae11-57b6aeab993f_story.html?hpid=hp_rhp-moreheds_super655p%3Ahomepage%2Fstory

NBC4: Job Before Has Caused Some Concern




http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local/Montgomery-County-Board-of-Education-Appoints-New-Superintendent-367754161.html?_osource=SocialFlowTwt_DCBrand



NBC4: Mixed Reaction over New Superintendent



http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local/Montgomery-County-Board-of-Education-Appoints-New-Superintendent-367754161.html?_osource=SocialFlowTwt_DCBrand

Proposed MD Legislation Update from Heroin Action Coalition

Maryland General Assembly, 2016
Week of February 8th – 12th

HB15: Suspected Overdoses –Reporting Requirement. –Hearing in Health & Government Operations Committee on 2/2 at 1:00 –House Office Building, Annapolis. 
Sponsor:  Delegate Kathy Szeliga
Summary:  Requiring specified individuals who treat or are in charge of a hospital that treats an individual in Harford County for a suspected overdose that was caused or shows evidence of having been caused by a Schedule I controlled dangerous substance to notify the county sheriff, county police, or the Department of State Police of the suspected overdose within 48 hours after the individual is treated; requiring that a report of a suspected overdose include specified information; and establishing a specified penalty. –National Council on Alcohol & Drug Dependence
Please Testify:  Advocates are seeking people to testify in opposition of this bill –particularly anyone having personal experience with negative police interactions following an overdose.  Call Linda Williams, Addictions Connections Resources (ACR) at 443-417-6405.


HB 24: Overdose Response Program –Educational Training Requirement. –Hearing in Health & Government Operations Committee on 2/2 at 1:00 –House Office Building, Annapolis. 
Sponsor:  Delegate Kathy Szeliga
Summary:  Requiring educational training for an Overdose Response Program overseen by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to include training in the requirement to immediately contact medical services after the administration of naloxone by a certificate holder instead of training in the importance of contacting emergency medical services.  –National Council on Alcohol & Drug Dependence
Please Testify:  Advocates are seeking people to testify in opposition of this bill –particularly anyone having personal experience with negative police interactions after calling Emergency Medical Services following an overdose.  Call Linda Williams, Addictions Connections Resources (ACR) at 443-417-6405.


SB 315: Homicide, Kidnapping, and Drug Offenses. –Hearing in Health & Government Operations Committee on 2/2 at 1:00 –House Office Building, Annapolis. 
Sponsors:  Senators Hough, Brochin, Cassilly, Norman, and Ready
Summary:  This bill would increase criminal penalties for being involved in the overdose death of another due to heroin mixed with fentanyl. The bill also increases the maximum penalty for 2nd degree murder from 30 to 40 years. NCADD is opposing.
Bill Online:

Drug arrest at Walter Johnson HS

Robert Dyer @ Bethesda Row: Rape on White Flint Dr., drug arrest at Walter Joh...: Here's a roundup of crimes reported across Bethesda on February 1, according to crime data: Theft. 5400 block Wisconsin Avenue. Ve...

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Tonight: Join us for a candid discussion of the MCPS Operating Budget

Unanswered Budget Question
Fourth Annual Budgetpalooza!

Where the Montgomery County Civic Federation, the Montgomery County Taxpayers' League, and the Parents' Coalition of Montgomery County, MD, sponsor a look into the MCPS FY17 Operating Budget

Join us:

February 4th, 2016
at 7pm 
in Room D 
of the 
Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center
4805 Edgemoor Lane, Bethesda

Two Late Entries Create Five-Way Contest for At-Large School Board Seat

Two Late Entries Create Five-Way Contest for At-Large School Board Seat: Ex-D.C. school official, former teacher Ibanez file just ahead of deadline

Calvert Co. Litigation on Administrator Contracts is Now Back Before State BOE

In April of 2015, a Calvert County Circuit Court reversed and remanded the decision of the Maryland State Board of Education with regard to the contract dispute between Calvert Co. Public Schools administrators and the Calvert Co. Board of Education.  The dispute centers around alleged agreements made by Calvert Co.'s previous superintendent, Jack Smith, and three school system administrators. 

The Calvert County Circuit Court sent the matter BACK to the Maryland State Board of Education in April of 2015.

In August of 2015, the very same Maryland State Board of Education named Jack Smith as their Interim Superintendent, even though litigation surrounding his actions was currently before them.  While Mr. Smith is not named in this litigation, he has submitted affidavits as part of these proceedings.



Jack Smith Left Calvert Co. Public Schools, but Years of Litigation Followed



Calvert school board, former executive team case moves to state review agency

...Members of the school board had said they were unaware of the contracts [Jack] Smith had made with Welsh, Roof and Pulley and, therefore, the provisions stated in the contract were not to be extended past June 30, 2013.  Following the Maryland State Board of Education’s July 2014 ruling that the local board knew of Smith’s executive team contracts, members of the Calvert County Board of Education appealed the case through the Calvert County Circuit Court, disagreeing with the state board’s opinion...

 http://www.somdnews.com/archive/news/calvert-school-board-former-executive-team-case-moves-to-state/article_1ddec649-cad0-559d-9df1-359296e0499b.html

Jack Smith would fit right in as MCPS Superintendent

Currently the Interim Superintendent of Maryland Public Schools, Mr. Smith is rumored to be among the finalists for the position of MCPS Superintendent. 

The Calvert Recorder
March 14, 2014

...In total for those years, Smith was compensated more than $464,000 beyond his base salary.
The board also is currently paying Smith more than $125,000 during the course of two years for additional leave payout. In addition, Chenelly and McConkey said they were surprised to learn Smith had contracts with his executive team members, allowing them similar benefits and yearly salaries to increase by tens of thousands of dollars, according to records obtained from the school system...

 http://www.somdnews.com/recorder/news/local/former-calvert-county-superintendent-s-pay-scrutinized/article_aade76ee-a42b-541b-bc69-75935066cf7a.html

Petition Questioned Interim State Superintendent's Appointment



The Maryland State Board of Education is currently in the process of picking a permanent Superintendent for the State.  Legislators in Annapolis are proposing legislation that would let the legislature have a say in who is selected for this state position. 

Let's take a look at the current Interim Superintendent.  Here is the Petition that was created to request the Governor not permit the current Interim Superintendent be appointed.  The Petition failed and Jack Smith is currently serving as the Interim Maryland State Superintendent. 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Prevent Dr. Jack Smith in becoming Maryland State Superintendent



Dr. Smith has created a major hole in the Calvert County community by his manipulation of weak minded board of education members back in 2010 that allowed him and his top staff to give him the ability to cash in leave and also have the school system pay his 403B and health benefits for life. Now his role is at the state level as temporary State Superintendent of Schools.

This is what Jack did while at Calvert.

Article dated Friday, March 14, 2014.
Titled:  Former Calvert County superintendent’s pay scrutinized 
Smith claims all contracts were ‘approved and signed by board members’.

When the former superintendent of Calvert County Public Schools Jack Smith left his job unexpectedly last July, then-new school board member Joe Chenelly and other local officials expressed their surprise.
Smith’s employment contract with the Calvert County Board of Education, which began July 1, 2010, was scheduled to run through June 30, 2014 — the end of this current school year.
On May 23, 2013, Smith and the school board amended this contract, stating Smith could resign from his position after giving at least 45 days of written notice to the board. On June 19 last year, Smith announced his resignation as Calvert County superintendent. He took a job less than a week later with the Maryland State Department of Education as chief academic officer for the state.
But before Smith’s departure, newcomers to the board Chenelly and Kelly McConkey began asking questions regarding Smith’s compensation and did not like what they found.
“During my campaign, I felt I was looking at the budget, and it didn’t make sense to me,” Chenelly said. “[The central office] seemed to be a top-heavy system, and it didn’t seem like there were an abnormally large number of people working at the central office, but it did seem like there was more spending at the central office than I knew why.”

 https://www.change.org/p/govenor-of-maryland-prevent-dr-jack-smith-in-becoming-maryland-state-superintendent

Elrich told Fani-Gonzalez that the ideas were “BS” after the hearing Tuesday night.


As Westbard Plan Hits Council, Marc Elrich Says Affordable Housing Promises Are Excuses For Overdevelopment


...council members remained quiet and listened as 34 speakers—about half who spoke in opposition to the level of redevelopment proposed for the area around River Road and Westbard Avenue—made their points during a two-hour session.
After the meeting was a different story...
 http://www.bethesdamagazine.com/Bethesda-Beat/Web-2016/As-Westbard-Plan-Hits-Council-Marc-Elrich-Says-Affordable-Housing-Promises-Are-Excuses-For-Overdevelopment/

"We have no questions." Council Sticks to Plan of Not Asking Questions at Public Hearings

In keeping with their plan, Montgomery County Councilmembers did not ask any questions of the public during the Tuesday evening public hearing on the Westbard development plans. 


Senior Education official collapses after heated four-hour hearing on Hill

...The lawmakers’ concerns centered on an inspector general’s investigation that found Harris ran an after-hours car-detailing and home-theater-installation business that employed two subordinates from his agency and also allegedly accepted payments from other subordinates for the work.
The hearing also examined Harris’s effort to help a relative find work at the department and his close friendship with an agency vendor whose company has been awarded about $10 million in contracts to perform work that falls under the purview of his office.
Harris also failed to report an estimated $10,000 in income from his outside activities on federal disclosure forms and to the Internal Revenue Service, according to federal officials...

...They were also infuriated to learn that Harris was not subjected to disciplinary action and received regular $17,000 annual bonuses on top of his yearly salary of $180,000 even as he was being investigated by the inspector general. The bonuses also came during a period when Harris’s department failed to meet federal goals concerning data security.

"Let me tell you what you’re conveying to the American people and, more importantly, to the 4,000 employees of the Department of Education,” said Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.). “You can bend the rules — it’s just a matter of who you are.”...

 https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/senior-education-official-collapses-after-heated-four-hour-hearing-on-hill/2016/02/02/a799572e-c9dd-11e5-88ff-e2d1b4289c2f_story.html