Friday, April 29, 2016

Students at a Maryland high school come together after two deaths

As Winston Churchill High School mourned the loss of a second student in less than two months, more than 150 students converged on a Potomac park hoping to forge a stronger sense of community while they honored those who died.
Balloons festooned a goal post, and music played as students mingled. The gathering on Sunday had the feel of a spring picnic — three-legged races, blankets spread out on the grass — but with a deeper sense of purpose.
Churchill has lost two of its own since February: Alyson “Alex” Baumann, 15, a sophomore who died Feb. 25, and Anna “Maya” Castillo, 17, a junior who died April 17. Both families have confirmed that the teenagers took their own lives...

County Police to Update Policy for Using Tasers

County Police to Update Policy for Using Tasers: Move comes after report was published detailing deadly incidents involving county police

Lockdowns Common in D.C.-Area School Districts

Washington, D.C.-area public schools ordered at least 30 lockdowns since 2014, according to a review of security records by the News4 I-Team.
A lockdown, a security measure often used when police report weapons or threats near school buildings, requires students to be secured inside classrooms and an elaborate regimen for principals and administrators...

Howard Co: Generous school budget proposal is anything but 'devastating'

...School leaders need to get out of the dark, put the brakes on such hyperbolic turn-out-the-lights language and consider the facts. The school system is getting a fair amount of taxpayer money. The school superintendent and board members must do their jobs and manage spending effectively and efficiently.

George Leventhal: Suburbs were a Mistake

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Montgomery Council calls for reduction in wage in negotiated wage hikes

...Leggett and the Board of Education have until May 10 to renegotiate wage provisions with unions and send a revised package back to the council. Leggett and the board could also opt to leave the increases unchanged.
The council has the authority to set pay. It is scheduled to take final action on the budget May 26...

Why Phones Don’t Belong in School

A recent Los Angeles Times’ article reveals that teachers across America must compete with students’ phones for attention. Matt Miles, a high school teacher from Fairfax County, Virginia, says the problem is getting worse: “Whereas 5 years ago, I could quietly ask the one rebellious student to put his or her phone away with no real interruption to class, doing that today would require multiple conversations with a majority of my class.”
The push for students to use phones while at school, and even during class, comes from this generation of preteens and teens who — as illustrated by the recent documentary Screenagers — struggle to stop playing with their phones. Adding fuel to the fire are tech pundits who claim that smartphones provide learning opportunities for children. Parents, too, may want to communicate by phone with their kids throughout the school day.
But new research is questioning the wisdom of allowing phones in school, as studies reveal this practice is putting students’ learning and safety at risk...

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

State BOE Issues Opinion on "Opt Out" of State Assessments

Bowers Putting Cell Tower on Another Red Zone School Playground. 80% Free & Reduced Lunch School to Get Cell Tower

Yellow dots show existing cell towers on MCPS playgrounds.
Larry Bowers time as superintendent is almost up, but he still has one more cell tower he wants to put on a Red Zone (low income student population) playground.

The pink arrow in the image at left shows the location of Neelsville Middle School in Germantown.

As reported by ABC7 in 2015:  MCPS places controversial cellular towers at predominantly high-poverty schools, stats show

The agenda item shown below details that MCPS staff have already taken this proposal to the Montgomery County Tower Committee without the approval of the land owner, the Board of Education.  Superintendent Larry Bowers is pushing ahead with this construction project without the approval of the Board of Education.

FARMS = Free and Reduced Meals, an indicator of poverty.

Dixon, Kauffman to Face Off for School Board in November

Dixon, Kauffman to Face Off for School Board in November: Incumbent Kauffman will take on former high school principal in general election

2016 Board of Education Unofficial Primary Results for Montgomery County

"You don’t have to be sick to get better,” Dr. Jack Smith

MCPS Finalizes New Superintendent

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Public Hearing Today on Increasing Property Taxes in Montgomery County

Public Hearing Today at 1:30 PM at Montgomery County Council

More information at this link:

Current yield rate:  .723 per $100 of assessed value.  (this does not include the State tax and all the other fees)
State recommend for coming year: .7004 (because assessments up)
County Exec Recommend: .7754
Council Staff Recommend: .7754

This is a 3.2% increase in the rate and a 10.7% increase in the Constant Yield Tax Rate.  This would require 9 votes on the Council because the 10.7 % increase in the CYTR is above the rate of inflation (by a lot).  Current inflation rate is between .8% and 1.2%

120 Cell Tower Applications Coming Soon to Montgomery County Neighborhoods

The Montgomery County Office of Zoning and Administrative Hearings (OZAH) workload is increasing. 
In recent months, an agent for Verizon Wireless has submitted dozens of small cell applications to the Towers Committee and is expected to submit dozens more in the coming weeks; those will make their way to OZAH for hearings in FY 2017.
The Transmission Facilities Coordinating Group, or Towers Group (TFCG), has informed OZAH that it expects to receive about 140 cell tower applications in the coming months with about 120 needing conditional use hearings.  
Under County law, the Applicant has ninety days after TFCG approval to apply for a conditional use. The Department of Permitting Services has indicated that unless the telecommunications facility is to be placed on an existing structure, a conditional use approval will be required before DPS will issue a permit. These conditional use hearings are expected to be hotly contested by nearby homeowners."

Monday, April 25, 2016

.@mocoboe Pays Outside Lawyer $48,056 in January 2016 Fighting Families of Children With Special Needs

Special Education Legal Expenses

Special education legal fees for outside counsel for January 2016 totaled $48,056.

The year-to-date total of $167,902 is $3,161 (1.9 percent) less than the same period in the previous
How much 1:1 tutoring would $48,056 buy for students in an effort to "close the gap?"
The current Board of Education prefers to spend their money elsewhere.

Wheaton Library scheduling mixup frustrates library users

"This has been going on too long. Every time we get an inch closer, we're pushed back a mile. It's just ridiculous that this has taken place, and it would not happen in other communities. It would not happen in Potomac, it would not happen in Bethesda, and it would not happen in Chevy Chase."

BOE Moves Ahead with Bus Depot on Rt. 355 in Rockville

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Weapon offense at Tilden Middle School

Robert Dyer @ Bethesda Row: Weapon offense at Tilden MS, 3 drug busts in Bethe...: Here's a roundup of crimes reported across Bethesda on April 21, according to crime data: Drug arrest. Old Georgetown Road at Arling...

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Rockville Science Day to be held Sunday, April 24 at Montgomery College

Sunday, April 24, 2016
Noon to 5:00 P.M.
at Montgomery College
51 Mannakee St, Rockville, MD 20850 (map)

The 27th annual Rockville Science Day will be held at the Rockville campus of Montgomery College on Sunday, April 24 from noon to 5:00. Plan to join us for an afternoon of family fun, with hands-on exhibits, demonstrations and performances in all fields of science, including:
  • Environment & Nature
  • Space & Astronomy
  • Reptiles & Birds
  • Chemistry & Biology
  • Robotics & Rockets



Thank you to everyone who has volunteered for setup on Saturday and for Science Day on Sunday. We look forward to seeing you at the Information Booth in front of the gym (PE building) at the start of your shift.



We are no longer taking registrations for exhibits and look forward to seeing the 90 exhibitors who signed up on Science Day!

Friday, April 22, 2016

Coalition Makes Progress Toward Stopping Bus Depot

Coalition Makes Progress Toward Stopping Bus Depot

Rockville just says "No" to Carver bus depot

ROCKVILLE – The mayor and City Council joined opponents of a plan to set up a temporary school bus depot at the Carver Education Services Center, voting unanimously Monday against the proposal.
The City Council voted 5-0 in favor of submitting a letter endorsing an April 8 memorandum authored by Board of Education member Philip Kauffman to the Montgomery County Council and County Executive Ike Leggett.
In the memo, Kauffman requested council members “delay their Declaration of No Further Need on the Shady Grove Transportation Depot” until a number of concerns “are clarified and resolved.”
“This would include the identification of both the interim and final solutions to our transportation depot situation, with a timeline and associated Capital Improvements Program funding identified for the permanent solution,” said Kauffman in the letter.
The Board of Education voted unanimously Tuesday to authorize the Board of Education President Michael Durso (District 5) “to write a letter to the county executive and the County Council to request implementation of a final solution for the relocation of all school buses before the current Shady Grove Transportation Depot is released for its intended use.”
City Council member Mark Pierzchala drafted the letter amended by City Council members Monday night and sent Tuesday morning.
Concerns listed in the letter signed by Mayor Bridget Donnell Newton include:
  • The Carver site being in a city-designated Historic District;
  • Noise, visual and air quality impacts from buses running within 50-100 feet of several townhouses;
  • Traffic impacts on MD 355 and neighborhood roads;
  • Hundreds of bus trips across the street from Montgomery College; and
  • The plan not aligning with the city’s master plan.

Legal Aid files suit against Montgomery Co. over no-trespass order

Attorney, law clerk were barred from visiting migrant farmworkers

Maryland Legal Aid has filed a federal lawsuit against Montgomery County challenging the constitutionality of a no-trespass order issued by county police to Legal Aid employees who attempted to visit migrant farmworkers at a local farm.
Nohora Rivero, a Legal Aid attorney and plaintiff in the suit, attempted to visit employees of Lewis Orchards in Dickerson with a summer law clerk on Aug. 18 to inform the workers about their rights and refer them to legal and other social service providers, according to the lawsuit, filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt.
But the farm’s owners confronted Rivero and Spencer Evans, ordering them to leave, the suit states. The owners then called the county police, and an officer who was dispatched to the farm also told them to leave the property despite being shown a copy of a Maryland attorney general’s opinion affirming Legal Aid’s right to visit the workers, the suit states.
The officer, Alexander Kettering, issued no-trespass warnings to the Legal Aid employees, barring them from returning to the property for one year, the suit states...

...Lewis Orchards employs 12 migrant farmworkers from Mexico, who have work visas for seasonal agricultural work, according to the lawsuit. The workers depend on their employer for transportation back to their home country.
On Aug. 18, Rivero and Evans planned to speak with the workers about the legal services available to them and to distribute brochures about workers’ rights, the Affordable Care Act and complying with U.S. tax laws, the suit states. They spoke with workers at one migrant camp at the farm, who told them they were required to work overtime but were not paid at a time-and-a-half rate, a labor law violation.
“If you don’t know your rights, you cannot fight for your rights,” Rivero said. “It is very important for the farm workers to see us and others that want to see them.”...

Mayor Newton Opposes Interim Bus Depot Plan in Rockville

Rockville Mayor Bridget Newton testifed in opposition of a plan to move 100 buses from the Shady Grove Bus Depot to the Carver Educational Center Services parking lot, during Tuesday’s Board of Education meeting.
“We’re very interested in working with you and all of our Montgomery County partners to find you a solution for a problem that we understand is a real problem, but we do not want it in the city of Rockville,” Newton told school board members.
Newton was joined by other concerned residents, who also made statements about the adverse impact the buses would have in their community. Residents have created a petition in opposition of the plan.
The County government has set a deadline of January 2017 for the Shady Grove Bus Depot to be vacated so that developers can begin building a neighborhood near the Shady Grove Metro station...

University student dies after fall from cell tower

Miami University student dies after fall from cell tower

Thursday, April 21, 2016

County Council Likely to Recommend Against Some Salary Increases for County Employees, Teachers

County Council Likely to Recommend Against Some Salary Increases for County Employees, Teachers:

“In a county government where 80 percent of costs go to salaries and benefits, 90 percent for [Montgomery County Public Schools], moderating salary increases has to be part of the overall solution for finding the resources necessary for critical service improvements,” council member Nancy Navarro said at Thursday’s hearing.
As part of its budget request, the school board approved contracts that could mean an 8 percent raise next fiscal year for its employees eligible for second step-increases.
As currently negotiated, the salary increases for teachers, administrators, principals and support staff would mean $74.1 million in additional costs for the next fiscal year, a total that council members suggested should be reduced to allow funding to hire more teachers to decrease class sizes and to pay for more programming aimed at closing the achievement gap.
But that decision would be up to the Board of Education, which decides how to allocate the education funding the county provides for Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS).

Fuzzy Math Keeps Opposition to Tobytown Ride On Bus Alive

Last year, the Montgomery County Department of Transportation estimated that a Monday - Friday daytime Ride On bus route running every 60 - 75 minutes to Tobytown would draw 100 patrons.

This morning, at the County Council's Transportation Commitee meeting, Council staffer Glenn Orlin said that the Tobytown route would draw 48 patrons daily.  He said the line would draw 30 patrons during peak hours, and an additional 18 during the day.

But, Councilmember Tom Hucker apparently only heard the number 18 and said:
"I am struck by the cost per rider, if 18 is correct that's $10,000 per would be cheaper to buy them a car, right?"
No one in the room corrected Councilmember Hucker and he voted against the proposal to add all day Ride On bus service to Tobytown.

No one in the room explained why the Department of Transportation estimate of 100 patrons daily was not being used to discuss this proposal. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Board of Education To Ask County to Delay Moving Shady Grove Bus Depot

Board of Education To Ask County to Delay Moving Shady Grove Bus Depot: Decision came as Rockville residents continued to oppose moving some of the buses to school system parking lot

The county Board of Education unanimously agreed Tuesday to ask Montgomery County to delay the relocation of a school bus depot in Shady Grove due to community opposition to moving some of those buses to a school system-owned parking lot in Rockville.
Board President Michael Durso will write a letter to County Executive Ike Leggett and the County Council asking them to delay the process of vacating the Shady Grove site, where 410 buses are parked and maintained...

County Council Staff Recommends Against Full Pay Increases Scheduled for School Staff

County Council Staff Recommends Against Full Pay Increases Scheduled for School Staff: Analysts say school system should channel more funds to reducing class sizes and solving achievement gap
 ...Citing inflation numbers that remain low and the fact that Social Security beneficiaries won’t see a cost of living increase this year, the report also recommends against second-step increases already negotiated for county government employees and a decrease in the cost-of-living increase negotiated for county firefighters.
“The Council’s top priority is classroom initiatives that reduce class size and target the achievement gap,” read the report, which was prepared for a Thursday morning joint budget hearing before the council’s Government Operations and Education committees. “Channeling funds to these initiatives within the amount appropriated by the Council will require a reduction in proposed FY17 employee pay adjustments.”...

Navarro: Ride On service "would improve the quality of life for residents of Tobytown."

The image on the left shows the location of Tobytown, an isolated community in Potomac, Maryland and the location of the closest Ride On bus stop (red marker) to their community. 

The residents of Tobytown would like Ride On service to be extended to their community so they can take advantage of public transportation through out Montgomery County. 

Currently, the residents WALK the 3 miles from their homes to the closest Ride On bus stop on Travilah Road. 

The next image shows some of the Ride On bus routes that the Tobytown residents use once they walk the 3 miles to the closest Ride On bus stop.

Councilmember Nancy Navarro does not represent this part of the county, but nonetheless, she has written a letter to the Council's Transporation Committee requesting that Tobytown receive Ride On bus service.  

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

How the Descendants of Freed Slaves Lost their Land in Mongomery County #Tobytown

In 1969, the residents of Tobytown in Potomac owned the land that they lived on.  The land had been passed down since 1875 from their ancestors, the founders of Tobytown.

History from Maryland Historical Trust

But, then Montgomery County Government came in, demolished their homes, and replaced their homes with townhouses that the residents were forced to rent for 40 years before they could buy just the homes back from the Housing Opportunities Commission.  They could not get back the land. 

The land owners had lost their land. 

All of the land that had been in these families for almost 100 years was either taken by condemnation or transferred to Montgomery County Government.

Some of the land was taken by a condemnation proceeding, and some was transferred in processes that current relatives describe as based on threats.  Current relatives remember that the Tobytown landowners of the 1960's did not necessarily know how to read or write, and did not want to give up their land.

Montgomery County land records tell the tale.  Below are copies of all of the Deeds to Tobytown land that were transferred or taken by condemnation from 1970 to 1999.  The last names in these deeds are many of the same last names as the current residents of Tobytown. 

It is 2016, and the current residents of Tobytown, who lost their land to Montgomery County, have asked that their community be included in the County's public transportation system.  They just want a RideOn bus to serve their neighborhood. 

To this day, Montgomery County Government still owns over 5 acres of original Tobytown land.  The land around the Tobytown townhomes is owned by the Housing Opportunities Commission.

The RideOn bus service for Tobytown would cost between $200,000 and $300,000 a year.  The County has consistently denied the Tobytown residents normal RideOn Bus service.

Washington Post
From a 2010, Washington Post article:
...In 1972, the housing authority used federal housing funds to build 26 duplexes and single-family homes and a small community center. The goal was for the low-income residents to eventually purchase the inexpensive dwellings.

Florice Martin, 49, a longtime resident who is now raising her grandchildren in Tobytown, grew up in the shacks and vividly remembers when the development was unveiled to great fanfare.
"All the rich people were here, the people that mean something," she said. There were journalists on hand, and a big reception. It was the first time she had seen caviar.
The glowing promise of the day was never fully realized. Over the years, 17 families purchased their own homes for about $16,000. But nine units remain in the control of the housing authority, which also maintains the community center and grounds.
"It seems like they forgot us," Martin said. "It seems like we're not here."

Berliner to Tobytown: Normal Bus Service Does not Make Economic Sense

Note:  RideOn bus service does make sense in other parts of Montgomery County with similar average ridership numbers to Tobytown's. 
A Tobytown RideOn bus route is already predicted to generate 100 patrons.   That is more or similar to other currently running RideOn bus routes.  See page 28 of this Council information packet.


Berliner Announces Potential Transit Service for Tobytown Residents at HOC Meeting


Montgomery County’s Housing Opportunities Commission (HOC) held a meeting with Tobytown residents on Monday night at the community’s recreation center. While HOC initially limited the event to the Tobytown community, residents from surrounding areas and the media were able to join local officials at the meeting.

Montgomery County Council Vice President Roger Berliner stopped by the meeting and discussed Tobytown’s request for public transit.

Berliner announced his plans to support a shuttle route proposal, that would include Tobytown, at a Council meeting to be held on Thursday. He said that the proposed all-day transit service would connect residents to Metro, schools, and jobs...

Video of Councilmember Roger Berliner's statement at this link.

CBS2 Exclusive Investigation: Sources Say Trouble-Plagued Turf Is In Tri-State Public Schools And Parks

CBS2 Exclusive Investigation: Sources Say Trouble-Plagued Turf Is In Tri-State Public Schools And Parks: Artificial athletic fields are a huge investment and can cost taxpayers millions.

In UK, Lab Tests of Artificial Turf Reveal Carcinogens

CANCER causing chemicals DO lurk in artificial football pitches [football fields] according to lab tests ordered by The Sunday Post.

Our probe has revealed a litany of carcinogens are found in the substance that is sprinkled over plastic turf to make it bouncy.

The crumb rubber, which is made from recycled car tyres [tires], has been linked to cancer clusters.
Our reporters collected samples of the substance and sent it to laboratory boffins at the Environment Scientifics Group.

It carries out official tests for police forces and other government organisations.
Its stringent tests on our samples revealed the presence of a number of chemical elements linked to poisoning, such as arsenic, lead and cadmium.
However, it was the prevalence of carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons that will cause the most concern.

Prof Andrew Watterson, an environmental health expert from the University of Stirling, who looked at our findings, said: “This report confirms and reveals the presence of a number of carcinogens at various levels in the rubber crumb.

“If the chemicals and metals remain locked in to the crumb, then there will be no exposure.
“However, it seems to be fairly clear that there may be some potential risk from some of these substances to sports people.

“To what extent and with what effect the carcinogenic metals and semi-volatile organic compounds may be taken up through inhalation, skin absorption or ingestion and under what conditions then remains the big question.”

Research in 2014 by four US universities found polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) to be “highly mutagenic cancer causing compounds”.

The two biggest PAHs we discovered were Benzo (E) Pyrene and Chryseneat...continues at link below.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Invalidated: Review of Report on Wi-Fi Radiation Measurements at Montgomery County Public Schools Finds "No Credible Guidance" Provided.

Breaking News!! Harvard trained physicist Ronald M. Powell Ph.D. has just released a 49 page Review detailing serious concerns about a Report used by Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) to give safety assurances to parents concerned about classroom wireless radiation. Powell cites incorrect and non-optimal approaches to measurements and data analysis as his principal concerns.  

He concludes:
"It is my opinion that the AECOM Report is unable to provide credible guidance about whether the electromagnetic fields in the MCPS pose a health risk or not, no matter how good the intentions of those who prepared the Report.”

In June 2015, Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) commissioned AECOM Environment to make Wi-Fi radiation measurements after parents raised concerns that the radiation from the Wi-Fi network and the wireless laptops in the schools could pose a health risk.  AECOM measured radiation levels in twelve of the MCPS schools, analyzed the resulting data, and compared the data to selected exposure limits.  The resulting AECOM Report concluded that the radiation levels were below those particular limits. The AECOM Report was presented as part of a webpage MCPS put together on Radiofrequency Radiation.
MCPS has relied on the AECOM Report to assure concerned parents that the radiation emissions from the county Wi-Fi equipment posed no health risk to students. A 2015 MCPS Memorandum to the Board cites the AECOM Report as verification stating “we are confident that we are not subjecting our students and staff to harmful radiation.”

However, in a 49-page review of the AECOM Report, Ronald M. Powell, Ph.D., a Harvard-trained physicist, expressed multiple concerns about the AECOM Report.  Among them were such serious concerns as “incorrect selection of measurement equipment (probes), incorrect or non‑optimal use of measurement equipment, and incorrect methods of data analysis”.

He observed:  “In my view, these concerns invalidate all of the analyzed data in the four tables that contain the principal results of the AECOM Report (Tables 7-2, 7-3, 7-4, and 7-5).  The result is the absence of valid analyzed data for comparison with any of the exposure limits, whatever the validity of the exposure limits themselves, some of which I also question.”

His overall conclusion was the following:  “For these reasons, it is my opinion that the AECOM Report is unable to provide credible guidance about whether the electromagnetic fields in the MCPS pose a health risk or not, no matter how good the intentions of those who prepared the Report.”
This is the second review that has come to such a conclusion about the AECOM Report.  Specifically, the earlier review concluded, just as Powell did, that “The data in this report cannot therefore be used to infer safety, or lack of safety, of children in any of the tested locations.”  That earlier Review was prepared by Cindy Sage, MA, co-editor of the BioInitiative Reports of 2007 and 2012, Prof. Trevor Marshall, Ph.D., Director of the Autoimmunity Research Foundation, and Senior Member of the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers), who holds a number of positions in biomedicine.
Powell recognizes the challenges facing the MCPS: “The MCPS is going to have to decide whom to believe.  For you who are MCPS managers, that decision requires at least some familiarity with the massive amount of biomedical research literature available on this topic. Powell advises: "If you find yourself in doubt about what to do, despite the overwhelming evidence of risk in the international biomedical research literature, I urge you to side with the safety of everyone in your schools by taking precautionary action now.  But whatever you do, resist the urge to use the outdated FCC exposure limits [called the Maximum Permissible Exposure (MPE) Limits] as an excuse for inaction.  Our Government doesn’t always get it right.  And, sadly for all of us, our Government is failing us terribly in this case.”
Powell explains further: “Despite assurances of safety from the FCC and the wireless industry, the international biomedical research community is showing, in study after study, that current exposure limits are not even close to being protective of living things.  The limitations of that guidance have been highlighted by other agencies of the U.S. Government and by medical organizations.”  He provides quotations from them reflective of their concerns about the inadequacy and outdated nature of the FCC exposure limits.

Powell illustrates the outdated nature of the FCC exposure limits with the following graph.  The graph was created from data provided by NIH’s PubMed Database.  PubMed is the largest index to the archival biomedical research literature in the world. That graph shows the publications per year listed in NIH's PubMed Database under the heading “EMF” (electromagnetic fields), which captures just a part of the biomedical research literature relevant to the interaction of electromagnetic fields with biological systems.  An arrow points to 1986, the year in which the basis for the current FCC exposure limit was developed, according to the FCC itself (as Powell documents in his Review).  Since 1986, PubMed has added 2198 publications under the heading “EMF”.  

Powell’s review urges the MCPS to rely on credible guidance which is “available from the sum total of thousands of biomedical research publications from the world’s leading scientists and doctors conducting research on the biological effects of electromagnetic fields."
He continues:  “That guidance indicates that precautionary action is needed now to protect human health from such electromagnetic radiation.  In light of this guidance, there is no scientific or ethical justification for continuing to force children, teachers, and staff to be exposed to electromagnetic radiation for which the outcome is already known to be tragic.”   

Powell closes by urging the MCPS to review two key documents to learn more about the concerns of the international biomedical research community about the biological effects of exposure to electromagnetic fields:  (1) The BioInitiative Report of 2012 which states “Bioeffects are clearly established and occur at very low levels of exposure to electromagnetic fields and radiofrequency radiation."; and (2) The EMF Scientist Appeal signed by 220 scientists from 42 countries, calling on the United Nations and the World Health Organization to seek increased protection of the public from electromagnetic fields.  That appeal notes specifically:  “Numerous recent scientific publications have shown that EMF affects living organisms at levels well below most international and national guidelines.  Effects include increased cancer risk, cellular stress, increase in harmful free radicals, genetic damages, structural and functional changes of the reproductive system, learning and memory deficits, neurological disorders, and negative impacts on general well-being in humans.”

Powell urges responsive action by the MCPS:  “Please protect your students, teachers, and staff from the harm caused by the electromagnetic radiation from wireless devices.  Replace the current wireless connectivity in the MCPS schools with much safer wired connectivity as soon as possible and avoid introducing other wireless devices into your schools.”

Ronald M. Powell is a retired career U.S. Government scientist (Ph.D., Applied Physics, Harvard University, 1975).  He worked for the Executive Office of the President, the National Science Foundation, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology.  At these organizations he addressed Federal research and development program evaluation, energy policy research, and measurement development in support of the electronics and electrical-equipment industries and the biomedical research community.  He currently interacts with other scientists and with physicians around the world on the impact of electromagnetic fields on human health.  

This Review supports the concerns raised by a parent advocacy group Safe Tech for Schools Maryland which has gathered over 15 letters from medical doctors and cancer researchers who have written MCPS warning the county that wireless systems are not safe and recommending hardwired internet systems. Parents are raising this issue nationally and most recently the Phoenicia New York  PTA wrote their school board calling for the wireless to be turned off.

Across the state of Maryland, parents have raised numerous health and safety concerns from privacy issues, to data mining, to screen related vision issues, to the potential health risks posed by the “industrial strength” wireless radiation.

"We are being sold a bill of goods by the technology educational kabal which will make millions...billions off Baltimore alone" stated a Baltimore County Board member last month in a heated Board meeting on technology safety.


"The Council, after review of available data, believes there is sufficient evidence to justify the development of health and safety guidelines for use of computers in school in schools in Maryland." 

Parents have organized large coalitions in the neighboring counties of Anne Arundel, Howard and Baltimore raising concerns about tech devices in the classroom. This year the Maryland legislature considered House Bill 1525 and Senate Bill 1150  which called for the development of health and safety guidelines for the use of computers by students in the classroom. This legislation was prompted by widespread concern about the use of screens in the classroom. The Maryland State  Children's Environmental Health and Protection Advisory Council wrote a letter to in support of this legislation.
Quick Links

The Maryland State Children's Environmental Health and Protection Advisory Council Letter in support of legislation for the development of health and safety guidelines for screens.

1st Grade: Miniature zombies drool over screens, headphones blocking out everything but their virtual world.

Miniature zombies drool over screens, headphones blocking out everything but their virtual world. This isn’t some horror scene; it’s a first grade class at Carroll Manor Elementary, where I intern. Rather than the student-teacher contact experience I’d expected, I’ve learned to babysit technology-addicted beasts. Because of my involvement in the new tech-based classroom sweeping through the county, I’ve developed a loathing for the system.

I’d approximate that 60 percent of class time is spent on laptops installed at the start of the year. Most of this overwhelming proportion is devoted to Dreambox, a Common Core aligned mathematical adapting program which individualizes the learning experience and allows teachers to monitor their students’ progress. It resembles a game so students are “excited to learn,” but the data from my students shows they’re becoming more distracted and, as a result, taking longer to learn.

Not only does increased screen time cause an extreme lack of focus, it also inhibits social intelligence. A UCLA study found that fifth graders who went without screen time for one week were significantly better at reading human emotions than those who had regular access to screens. In elementary school, developing social learning skills is key to growing a successful student. When screen time increases, face-to-face time decreases...

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Gaithersburg Leaders to Meet Behind Closed Doors to Discuss Small Cell Facilities

UPDATE, April 15, 2:50 p.m.
After receiving numerous complaints in opposition of a proposed plan to install small cell facilities in local communities, the Mayor and City Council of Gaithersburg plan to convene a closed executive session on Monday night to further discuss the issue.
The closed door meeting will take place following the Council’s regular meeting, which is scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m. on April 18.
Earlier this week, the city held a work session on the topic at City Hall. That meeting attracted dozens of residents who voiced their opposition to the idea of installation of small cell facilities in their neighborhoods.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Responding to the Heroin Epidemic

Friday, April 15, 2016

Gang members younger in Montgomery Co.

...The county saw a spike in gang-related murders late last year. There were eight gang-related deaths in Montgomery County last year, up from one in 2014. One victim was just 15.
“We’re seeing younger and younger recruitment,” Liquorie said.
“Social media plays a big role in this, whether it’s identification or recruitment.”
A video police recently found online shows a group of young people who claim to be gang members showing off weapons for the camera.
The weapons included a stolen .308 rifle, and a semi-automatic handgun with an extended magazine that could hold 30 rounds of ammunition.
It was filmed during the daytime in a pedestrian tunnel under Shady Grove Road...

mymcmedia: Tobytown Residents in Need of Bus Service

Tobytown: No RideOn Bus or Access to Computers Yet, But Service Fair with Refreshments

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Community Group Opposing School Bus Parking on Rockville Lot Gains Momentum

Community Group Opposing School Bus Parking on Rockville Lot Gains Momentum:
...The county, which is selling the Shady Grove bus depot land and other nearby county facilities to developers LCOR and NVR, wants those facilities to move by January 2017 to make way for 345 townhomes, 344 apartment units, a park and a new school. The Shady Grove depot has space for 410 buses.
But a group of residents called the Carver School Coalition says parking 100 of the buses at the Carver lot, even on an interim basis, would bring too much traffic to the intersection of Hungerford Drive and Mannakee Street and that the process behind the move hasn’t been transparent enough...