Sunday, January 31, 2016

"Legal does not mean safe." US Government Advisor Dr. Devra Davis calls on MCPS Schools to reduce WiFi

"Compelling research raises the possibility of very serious harm to children from radiofrequency radiation exposures well below “FCC compliant” levels. Legal does not mean safe."
January 20, 2016
Dear Montgomery County Board of Education,

Concerned parents in your school district have asked me to write to you regarding the health risks of wireless radiofrequency radiation exposure in the classroom.

I was Founding Director of the Board on Environmental Studies and Toxicology of the U.S. National Research Council, and Founding Director of the Center for Environmental Oncology at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute. President Clinton appointed me to the Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board, and I am former Senior Advisor to the Assistant Secretary for Health in the Department of Health and Human Services. I founded the non-profit Environmental Health Trust in 2007 to provide basic research and education about environmental health hazards. Our scientific team is currently focusing on the health risks of radiofrequency radiation as an important public health issue.

Some excerpts from the letter...
More recently, the Cyprus Government's National Committee on Environment and Children's Health released a video about reducing wireless and I invite you to watch this excellent example of responsible action at this link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H43IKNjTvRM .


INCREASED CANCER RISK
Wireless radiofrequency radiation was classified as a Class 2B “Possible Human Carcinogen” by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer in 2011. According to many scientists, evidence has increased since 2011, indicating that cell phone and wireless radiation should be classified as a “probable carcinogen.” Those exposed at younger ages show four to eight times increased cancer risk. Replicated research  just published in Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications indicates that radiofrequency acts as a tumor promoter  at low to moderate levels.
CONCERN FOR PREGNANT STUDENTS AND STAFF
Pregnant students and staff are especially at risk from wireless because the fetus is the most vulnerable to toxic exposures. Several experimental studies are showing irreversible changes after prenatal exposure to cell phone and wireless radiation such as altered brain functioning, decreased brain cells and altered reproductive organ development. More than 100 physicians, scientists and public health professionals joined together to express their concern about the risk that wireless radiation poses to pregnancy and now urge pregnant women to limit their exposures. Please read these scientists BabySafe Joint Statement
SIMPLE STEPS WILL PROTECT CHILDREN
Compelling research raises the possibility of very serious harm to children from radiofrequency radiation exposures well below “FCC compliant” levels. Legal does not mean safe. Based on the preliminary work that I share with you here, I urge you to forgo the use of such devices as there is no research that has considered their impact on  children. At this time,  the smart choice for school decision makers is to act now and reduce radiofrequency wireless exposures.  In fact, many countries (over 20) and health authorities worldwide recommend reducing radiofrequency radiation to children.
Read the full letter at http://safetechforschoolsmaryland.blogspot.com/2016/01/legal-does-not-mean-safe-expert-in.html

Watch Dr Davis testify to the Massachusetts State House below


Berliner Staff: "...large meetings tend to turn into opportunities for people to shout and express their anger more than serving as a vehicle for productive dialogue."


The Council is holding a meeting with the Westbard community – two of them in fact.  Next week, all nine councilmembers, including Councilmember Berliner,  will hear from over eighty witnesses who will testify about the plan. between the two nights, they will probably spend over 7 hours listening to residents' views.  Written testimony from dozens of others will be submitted.
 In addition, Councilmember Berliner has personally received correspondence about the Westbard Plan from over 1,400 people.  We have had meeting and multiple phone conversations with almost every neighborhood head in the Westbard area.  I would say at this point that we are very familiar with the views of the community. Therefore I do not think it would be very helpful to have an additional meeting, especially of a very large size.  In my experience, those large meetings tend to turn into opportunities for people to shout and express their anger more than serving as a vehicle for productive dialogue.  However, if there is an individual neighborhood that would like to set up a meeting with Councilmember Berliner, we will entertain it.  We do have meetings scheduled with Springfield (we did not pick the location) and with Sumner.  The Citizens Coordinating Committee for Friendship Heights will also be meeting with the councilmember in the office sometime in the next couple of weeks.  Beyond that, we  do not have any specific requests pending that I know of.
May I ask what neighborhood or HOA you reside in?  Have you received Councilmember Berliner's recent letter he sent to many in the area outlining his general approach to the plan as the Council begins its review? If not, let me know and I will forward it to you.
Best regards,
Cindy Gibson 
Cindy Gibson | Chief of Staff | 240-777-7827 
Office of Councilmember Berliner | County Council 
100 Maryland Avenue | Rockville, MD 20850

Friday, January 29, 2016

Westbard Neighborhood Objects to Planned Overcrowding of Community and Schools

PETITION TO MONTGOMERY COUNTY COUNCIL

This petition is sponsored by the Citizens Coordinating Committee on Friendship Heights, consisting of 19 civic organizations, comprising over 7,000 households, in and surrounding the Westbard Sector Plan area.

We, residents living within or nearby to the Westbard Sector Plan area, petition the Council to revise substantially the draft Planning Board Westbard Sector Plan.

1. We endorse the goals of the draft plan, to create "a vibrant village center", with "preservation of local retail", to provide "neighborhood goods and services serving the surrounding residential community". Development is to be on a "neighborhood scale", "preserving compatibility with adjacent residential uses". [pp.6,18]
2. The draft plan is inconsistent with these goals because of the amount, type and height of development.
       A. The large amount of retail is well beyond what is needed or appropriate for a neighborhood serving center and is more like a regional mall. It will promote large stores not serving neighborhood needs; attract visitors from a wide geographic area; local businesses on which residents have depended are unlikely to survive.
       B. The large number of dwelling units will generate students overcrowding our already overcrowded schools for which no realistic plan to accommodate them has been offered, especially on middle and high school levels.
       C. The plan does not address the need for housing, including affordable, for seniors who comprise a substantial population (24%) in this area of the county, a type of housing that will not overburden the schools.
       D. The proposed height of some buildings is not on a neighborhood scale and is not compatible with nearby single family homes, e.g., 110 ft on Westbard Ave. near Westbard Mews townhouses; 90 ft on Westwood 2 site, near Springfield homes; 75 ft uniformly along both sides of River Rd., creating an urban "canyonization" effect....

https://www.change.org/p/nancy-floreen-roger-berliner-marc-elrich-tom-hucker-sidney-katz-george-leventhal-nancy-navarro-craig-rice-hans-riemer-keep-the-westbard-sector-plan-on-a-neighborhood-scale?recruiter=464658506&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=share_email_responsive&utm_content=dt_shortened_links---url_short

Maryland panel lifts ban on portable air-conditioners for schools

Maryland’s Board of Public Works on Wednesday lifted a ban on using the state’s school-renovation funds to purchase window air-conditioning units for classrooms.
The rule was designed to promote energy efficiency, but it came under scrutiny at the start of the school year when children and teachers in Baltimore County found themselves sweltering in classrooms. About one-third of the jurisdiction’s schools had no cooling units.
Comptroller Peter Franchot (D), one of three members of the board, described the situation as “our Flint,” referring to problems with lead-tainted drinking water in that Michigan city. He said students, teachers and school employees were subjected to “conditions that few of us would even expose our animals to.”...

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/md-politics/an-annual--and-much-derided--annapolis-tradition-the-begathon/2016/01/27/e711897c-c482-11e5-8965-0607e0e265ce_story.html

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Lyttonsville Neighborhood Objects to Planned Overcrowding of Community and Schools

The Lyttonsville neighborhood in Silver Spring has started a Petition to the Montgomery County Planning Board and the Montgomery County Council concerning the planned overcrowding of the neighborhood and schools. 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The community petition asking the Planning Board and the County Council to limit growth in the western section of the planning area, to reduce densities (FARs), and to protect the park and community center is now online and ready to go at

http://bit.ly/lyttonsville

If this link is not clickable, please copy and paste it into your browser. is the link.

Remember, anyone can sign the petition, i.e., all the adults living at a single address and all children over 15. You don’t have to live in the neighborhood to sign.

Please sign the petition, copies will be presented to the Planning Board and later to the County Council and Executive. Please forward this message to others.


-----------------------------

PETITION:

I believe that our neighborhood is uniquely diverse, balanced and affordable; models that Montgomery County should seek to replicate in other areas inside the Beltway. Therefore:

-I object to the large increase in housing proposed for the properties near Lyttonsville Road and Grubb Road in the western part of our sector plan area and ask that the total number of new residences be limited to 400 new units. 
-I oppose the re-zoning of these properties to the densities proposed in the draft plan and ask that they be given an FAR no higher than 1.5, the highest density usually allowed next to residential neighborhoods. 
-I request that the effects of increased population on the Lyttonsville-Rosemary Hills Park and Gwendolyn Coffield Community Center be carefully considered and that resources be made available to enhance these valuable community assets.

Hogan creates a scholarship for students who graduate early

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) on Wednesday signed an executive order creating a scholarship program for all students who graduate public high school in three years or less.
Students would be eligible for a one-time scholarship of up to $6,000 for tuition and expenses at a college in Maryland.
Hogan said that the new initiative, which would average about $6 million a year, is a “smart use” of state tax dollars.
“The best and most important part of this program is that it makes college more affordable and more accessible for Maryland students and families,” he said in a statement. “By encouraging high-achieving students to complete high school a year early, the state can reallocate what would have been spent on a student’s last year of public high school, and help with the first year of college instead.”...

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/md-politics/hogan-creates-a-scholarship-for-students-who-graduate-early/2016/01/27/4a3175e0-c513-11e5-9693-933a4d31bcc8_story.html

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Delegation to vote on state bill MC 25-16 to allow non-citizens and children to vote for BOE members

The Montgomery County Delegation to the General Assembly will vote on bill MC 25-16 this Friday, January 29, 2016.

Bill MC 25-16 proposes that non-citizens and children ages 16 to 17 be permitted to elect the members of the Board of Education.  Citizens age 18 and above will continued to be allowed to elect the members of the Board of Education, but their votes will be diluted. 

Submit your written comments/testimonies IMMEDIATELY to the staffer for the Montgomery County delegation, Sara Hartman, sara.hartman@mlis.state.md.us.  Also cc all Montgomery County Delegates.  

Sara's Hartman's phone number is 301-858-3010.

Montgomery County delegate email addresses:

Board of Education Candidates for 2016 Open Seats

Three Board of Education seats are up for election this year. 
 
February 3, 2016, is the last day to file to run in any of these Board of Education races.

Below is who has filed to run as of today.  

Board of Education At Large
Dixon, Jeanette
Non-Partisan

Jurisdiction Montgomery County
Status Active -
Filed Regular - 12/03/2015

Email jeanetteforboe@gmail.com
Website www.jeanettedixon.org
Twitter @dixon_jeanette



Contact Information
2301 FALLING CREEK RD
SILVER SPRING, MD 20904-
(301) 989-0095
Johnson, Sebastian
Non-Partisan

Jurisdiction Montgomery County
Status Active -
Filed Regular - 01/08/2016

Email sdpjohnson@gmail.com
Website www.sebastianjohnson.org
Twitter @sdpjohnson



Contact Information
7777 MAPLE AVE APT 1212
TAKOMA PARK, MD 20912-5650
(202) 681-6284
Kauffman, Phil
Non-Partisan

Jurisdiction Montgomery County
Status Active -
Filed Regular - 12/02/2015

Email info@philkauffman.com
Website www.philkauffman.com
Facebook Phil facebook.com/Phil-Kauffman-for-Board-of-Education



Contact Information
17621 Gatsby Ter
OLNEY, MD 20832-
(301) 570-4836




Board of Education
Board of Education District 002
Smondrowski, Rebecca
Non-Partisan

Jurisdiction Montgomery County
Status Active -
Filed Regular - 01/04/2016

Email rsmondrowski@gmail.com
Website www.rebeccaonboard.org
Facebook Rebecca On Board
Twitter @rebeccaonboard



Contact Information
101 Short Street
GAITHERSBURG, MD 20878-
(301) 325-6246



Board of Education District 004
Evans, Shebra
Non-Partisan

Jurisdiction Montgomery County
Status Active -
Filed Regular - 12/08/2015

Email shebra4boe@shebraevans.com
Website www.shebraevans.com
Facebook Shebra4BOE
Twitter @shebraevans

Contact Information
P.O. Box 9712
SILVER SPRING, MD 20916-
(301) 284-8976

Rice: "Unfortunately...we're seeing rise...gangs...recruitment in middle and high schools...MS-13"

Our third installment from the January 11, 2016, off-camera, off-site Montgomery County Council retreat.  

In this clip from the retreat, Councilmember Craig Rice gives an update from the Council's Education Committee. 

"MS-13 wants to get their territory back."

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

County School System Will Remain Closed Wednesday

County School System Will Remain Closed Wednesday: It will be the third straight day that school is canceled

UPDATE: School System More Than Half-Finished With Snow Removal At Schools, Other Facilities

UPDATE: School System More Than Half-Finished With Snow Removal At Schools, Other Facilities: MCPS is weighing whether to close schools Wednesday

NEW LAUSD SUPERINTENDENT MICHELLE KING TO STUDENTS: DREAM BIG

...King was chosen to lead the nation's second largest school district last week. She was an LAUSD student and has been with the district for more than 30 years as a teacher and an administrator.
King served as deputy superintendent under Ramon Cortines, who recently retired, and former superintendent John Deasy.
"I'm a product of this district, and I think I represent what L.A. Unified can do," King said.
The mother of three is the first female superintendent of the LAUSD in more than 80 years, and she's the first African-American woman to have the job.
"I'm hopeful that I'm an inspiration to the students. They've told me that they have a good feeling about it, so has the staff, so I am excited," she said...
http://abc7.com/education/lausd-superintendent-michelle-king-to-students-dream-big/1166971/


There is no way I would go to Los Angeles. It's a total mess. - Joshua Starr, who headed the district in Montgomery County, Md.

http://www.latimes.com/local/education/la-me-supt-names-20151211-story.html

Monday, January 25, 2016

Some Fairfax County Parents Worry Artificial Turf Could Hurt Kids' Health

They've done a "crash course" on crumb rubber, and some Fairfax County parents say they are concerned about what they've learned.
Now, those parents are asking the school district to delay the installation of a new artificial turf playing field that uses crumb rubber, so that there is time to study its health effects further.
One parent called it "157 and a half tons of chemicals that you would not allow cows to graze on."
Crumb rubber is commonly added to artificial turf, adding cushioning and helping the strands of turf stand up straight. It's made of ground-up car tires. 
Fairfax County's new field at Westgate Elementary School is being built with artificial turf, including crumb rubber.
"It's not something I want them exposed to on a regular basis," said parent Lucy Cedrone. "I'm certainly going to be talking to the gym teacher, the principal, asking how much by kids are going to be on this field and exposed to this stuff."
The parents cite a Yale University study that looked at the chemical makeup of crumb rubber. It found chemicals that are considered probable carcinogens and others that are irritants to breathing, the skin or the eyes.
It also found that almost half of the chemicals in the crumb rubber had not had toxicity screenings to determine their effects on health...

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Another Montgomery County court commissioner charged with sex crime

For the second time in a month, a court commissioner in Montgomery County — a position akin to a low-level judge — was charged with a sex-related crime, according to court records.
Daniel Read, 30, faces one count of sexual solicitation of a minor, police officials said Wednesday. They accused him of using social media and text messages to set up a meeting with a person who said he was 15. Read actually was communicating with a detective pretending to be a teen with the user name “Kinky Twinkie,” according to arrest records.
Previously, another court commissioner, Israel Mangroo, 31, was accused of using his smartphone to take a video up a woman’s skirt in his office at the county jail, according to court records...

Friday, January 22, 2016

Bowers cancels solar field initiative at three sites



Wide variance in hours spent in testing public schools kids, commission finds

In Queen Anne's County, second graders take 28 hours of locally mandated tests each year, the highest in any Maryland school system. In Montgomery County, they take just four hours of county required assessments but that number climbs to 23 to 26 hours by the time students are in high school.
In Carroll County, high school seniors take 32 hours of required tests -- not counting the statewide assessments -- the highest amount in the state, along with Cecil County. In Howard County high schools, seniors take no locally mandated assessments.
What do these numbers mean? What does it tell us that Howard County public schools, regarded as some of the best in the state, spend some of the fewest hours testing their students? Yet equally well-regarded schools in Montgomery County require tests in middle and high school that take three, four and even five times as many hours?...

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

WiFi in Schools is "Sheer Insanity" writes Biochemist Martin Pall to MCPS on the Health Risks of Radio frequency Radiation.


January 3, 2016

Dear Montgomery County COO Dr. Andrew Zuckerman, Interim Superintendent Larry Bowers, Board of Education and Office of Technology;
I have been asked to comment on the MCPS Statement Concerning Deployment of Wireless Computing Technologies.  I am happy to do so.
The first paragraph in that statement is not relevant to the issue at hand because it is perfectly possible to use wired communication for such education.  This document is being produced on a computer on which I only use wired communication, connecting to the internet, connecting to my printer and for other purposes, as well. 
The 2nd and 3rd paragraphs of your statement may well be technically correct.  However these give us no assurance whatsoever of safety of Wi-Fi fields.  The FCC guidelines as are many other such guidelines, are based on the assumption that only heating effects of microwave/lower frequency EMFs can have biological effects.  However that assumption has been falsified by thousands of studies published from the 1950s to the present, each showing that non-thermal levels of exposure often produce biological effects.  For example, in 1971, the U.S. Office of Naval Medical Research produced a document reporting over 100 different non-thermal effects [1], listing 40 apparent neuropsychiatric changes produced by non-thermal microwave frequency exposures, including 5 central/peripheral nervous system (NS) changes, 9 central NS effects, 4 autonomic system effects, 17 psychological disorders, 4 behavioral changes and 2 misc. effects [1]. It also listed cardiac effects including ECG changes and cardiac necrosis as well as both hypotension and hypertension, and also 8 different endocrine effects. Changes affecting fertility included tubular degeneration in the testis, decreased spermatogenesis, altered sex ratio, altered menstrual activity, altered fetal development, programmed cell death (what is now known as apoptosis) and decreased lactation.  Many other non-thermal changes were also listed for a total of over 100 non-thermal effects.  They also provided [1] approximately 2000 citations documenting these various health effects.  That was almost 45 years ago and is only the beginning of the evidence for the existence of non-thermal effects.   My own recent paper [2] shows that widespread neuropsychiatric effects are caused by non-thermal exposures to many different microwave frequency electromagnetic fields (EMFs). 
Tolgskaya and Gordon [3] in 1973 published a long and detailed review of effects of microwave and lower frequency EMFs on experimental animals, mostly rodents. They report that non-thermal exposures impact many tissues, with the nervous system being the most sensitive organ in the body, based on histological studies, followed by the heart and the testis.  They also report effects of non-thermal exposures on liver, kidney, endocrine and many other organs. The nervous system effects are very extensive and include changes many changes in cell structure, disfunction of synaptic connections between neurons and programmed cell death and are discussed in Refs. [2,3] and more modern studies reporting extensive effects of such non-thermal EMF exposures on the brain are also cited in [2]. There are also many modern studies showing effects of non-thermal exposures on fertility in animals.
The Raines 1981 National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) report [4] reviewed an extensive literature based on occupational exposures to non-thermal microwave EMFs.  Based on multiple studies, Raines [4] reports that 19 neuropsychiatric effects are associated with occupational microwave/ radiofrequency EMFs, as well as cardiac effects, endocrine including neuroendocrine effects and several other effects.

I reviewed many other scientific reviews on this topic, each of which clearly supports the view that there are various non-thermal health impacts of these EMFs [5].   In 2015, 206 international scientists signed a statement sent to the United Nations Secretary General and to member states, stating that international safety guidelines and standards are inadequate to protect human health [6].  Each of these 206 scientists from 40 countries had scientific publications on biological effects of such EMFs and therefore each is well qualified to judge this.  It can be seen from this statement to the UN, that there is a strong scientific consensus that current safety guidelines and standards are inadequate because they do not take into consideration all of the non-thermal health effects produced by various EMF exposures.  
That scientific consensus also rejects, therefore, the FCC EMF guidelines, guidelines that cannot be defended despite your own attempt to do so in MCPS Statement Concerning Deployment of Wireless Computing Technologies.
It can be seen from the previous paragraphs, that the following non-thermal effects of EMF exposures are well documented:
  1. Widespread neuropsychiatric effects
  2. Several types of endocrine (that is hormonal) effects
  3. Cardiac effects impacting the electrocardiogram (Note: these are often associated with occurrence of sudden cardiac death)
  4. Male infertility
  5. However, there are many additional types of biological changes produced by non-thermal EMF exposures (reviewed in 5,7] including:
  6. Oxidative stress
  7. Changes in calcium fluxes and calcium signaling
  8. Several types of DNA damage to the cells of the body, including single strand and double strand DNA breaks and 8-OH-guanine in DNA
  9. Cancer (which is undoubtedly caused, in part, by such DNA damage)
  10. Female infertility
  11. Lowered melatonin; sleep disruption
  12. Therapeutic effects of EMFs when they are highly controlled and focused on a specific part of the body
The letter continues...
Dr. Martin Pall  got his BA in Physics at Johns Hopkins University Baltimore, MD and PHD in Biochemistry and Genetics at the California Institute of Technology, CA. He is former Acting Chairman of the Program in Genetics, Washington State University, and has been a Professor of Genetics and Cell Biology and Biochemistry and Professor of Biochemistry and Basic Medical Sciences. 

Cash found in safe

Cash was found in a MCPS safe this month, but The Washington Post will only report when cash is found in a DC  school.

~~~~~~~~~~

The audit, first obtained by NBC Washington, revealed that Evans unilaterally controlled the counting of money going into and out of the student activity fund, which is against DCPS policy, and was routinely late in depositing money from DCIAA events into the account. The audit did not identify Evans or other DCIAA officials by name, but it attributes claims to the athletic director during the years in which Evans held the position.
According to the audit, there was more than $32,000 in uncounted cash discovered in bags within a DCIAA safe once Evans left the office on maternity leave in June. Investigators noted in the audit that there was a Wells Fargo branch down the street from the current DCIAA headquarters where officials could have deposited the money.


https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/highschools/internal-audit-reveals-gross-mismanagement-of-dciaa-funds/2016/01/17/4f7bb28a-bc6d-11e5-99f3-184bc379b12d_story.html

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Somerset Mayor Gives $25,000 + to Plastic Grass Fund for Somerset Elementary School #perks #artificialturf

The Somerset Elementary School fundraising to buy plastic grass for the elementary school playground has released the names of their top donors.  The top donor for the plastic grass fund is the Somerset Elementary School PTA, raising $80,000 toward the cost of the plastic field.

In the $25,000 and above category, we see the Mayor of Somerset.  How much "above" $25,000 is not shown. 

Remember, the cost of maintenance and replacement of this plastic grass field on a stone/concrete base will be on the citizens of Montgomery County.  Get ready to kick in your share of the cost in the coming years.  This is what we call "equity" in Montgomery County.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Mont. Co. Planning Director Sends Her Children to DC Charter Schools

Check out where the Montgomery County Planning Board's Planning Director sends her children to school. It's not MCPS!

This video clip is from the January 12, 2016, Board of Education meeting discussion conerning putting MCPS children in commercial office space instead of public school buildings.  

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Maryland’s highest-paid lobbyists

The following are the top 10 highest-paid lobbyists in Maryland for the first six months of 2015, according to the Maryland State Ethics Commission.
Gerard E. Evans: More than $1.8 million
Timothy Perry: More than $1.1 million
Joel D. Rozner, of Rifkin, Weiner, Livingston, Levitan & Silver LLC: $969,000
Robert Garagiola, of Alexander & Cleaver: $927,415
Lisa Harris Jones, of Harris Jones Malone: $904,350
Bruce Bereano: $896,450
Michael Johansen, of Rifkin, Weiner, Livingston, Levitan & Silver: $866,165
Nicholas Manis, of Manis Canning & Associates: $769,333
Frank Boston III: $688,088
Steven Wise of Schwartz, of Metz & Wise P.A.: $648,856

 http://thedailyrecord.com/2016/01/13/who-are-marylands-highest-paid-lobbyists/?utm_source=WhatCounts+Publicaster+Edition&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Weekend+Insider+011616&utm_content=Who+are+Maryland%E2%80%99s+highest-paid+lobbyists%3f

Friday, January 15, 2016

Robert Dyer @ Bethesda Row: Roundtable discussion on Walter Johnson cluster MC...

Robert Dyer @ Bethesda Row: Roundtable discussion on Walter Johnson cluster MC...: If you are concerned about how already-crowded Walter Johnson cluster schools will handle the additional students generated by resident...

Hosting Underage Drinking Parties Could Mean Jail Time for Adults

Hosting Underage Drinking Parties Could Mean Jail Time for Adults: New bill aims to stiffen penalties in the wake of a deadly North Potomac collision

Marc Elrich and MCCPTA Pushing for Property Tax Increase [Even though no new teachers in MCPS budget]

...Council member Marc Elrich, who Leggett invited to speak toward the end of the forum, said he’d vote for a property tax increase but that getting all nine council members to support it is “virtually impossible.”
He encouraged residents instead to get a referendum on the ballot to do away with the requirement for unanimous approval.
“We ought to have an honest debate and if people don’t like us because we raised taxes, then they can elect us out of office,” Elrich said.
Paul Geller, vice president of the Montgomery County Council of Parent-Teacher Associations, told Leggett his organization is prepared to advocate for a property tax increase so the county can move toward reducing class sizes, adding more counselors in schools and making other additions to the education budget, which takes up roughly half of the county’s $5 billion annual budget...

http://www.bethesdamagazine.com/Bethesda-Beat/Web-2016/At-Budget-Forum-Leggett-Explains-Political-Difficulties-of-Raising-Taxes-to-Increase-Schools-Budget/

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Drug arrest at Walter Johnson HS - Other sexual offense at Tilden Middle School.

Robert Dyer @ Bethesda Row: Drug arrest at Walter Johnson HS, sex offense repo...: Here's a roundup of crimes reported across Bethesda on January 11, according to crime data: Burglary. 3900 block East-West Highway. ...

Congress Is Finally Catching Up To What We Have Been Asking - Just What Is Google Doing In Our Schools

Senator Al Franken has sent a letter to the CEO of Google asking the same questions that were posted here months ago, but concerned parents.

Here is the full 3 page letter:

http://www.franken.senate.gov/files/letter/160114.GoogleStudentData.pdf

Here are some sample questions in the letter (summary):


  • When are you collecting data on our kids and when are you not? It seems that Google is collecting even when students move off the educational websites/apps.
  • For what purpose are you collecting this data on our children?  You state it is for educational purposes but we have learned you are using this information beyond 'education' only purposes.
  • Is it possible to make the data collection opt-in?
  • What third parties do you share this data with and what restrictions/security exists for these third party vendors?
  • What is the relationship between Google and the school districts?
  • Does Google offer to parents an information packet on what is being collected on their child, how it is used, and why?


We are thankful to Senator Al Franken for finally asking the questions Parents have been asking MCPS with zero response (except "Don't worry about it.").

Please email Al Franken and support his letter:

https://www.franken.senate.gov/?p=email_al


WTOP: Bethesda student on way to school bus hit by car

WASHINGTON — A middle school student suffered minor injuries when she was struck by a car while walking to the school bus in Bethesda, Maryland on Thursday morning.
According to Montgomery County Public Schools, the girl, a student at Westland Middle School, was walking to a bus stop on Fairfax Road, just south of Bradley Boulevard, when she was struck...

 http://wtop.com/montgomery-county/2016/01/bethesda-student-way-school-bus-hit-car/

Video: Council Retreat - "Don't ask questions" of public at hearings.

Part 2:  Exclusive video of Montgomery County Council Retreat on January 11, 2016.  The retreat was held in Potomac, Maryland.  No members of the press attended the retreat.  The Parents' Coalition was the only outside organization to attend this off-camera, off-site public meeting of the Montgomery County Council.

Floreen: "...warm up for Westbard..."

Floreen on public hearings run by Committees:  Floreen thinks all public hearings should be before the full Council.  Councilmembers are not "up to speed on issues" when they do not attend public hearings.

Riemer:  "immediate impact on schedule" with evening public hearings... "limit number of nights I go out during the week..."

Hucker:  "...we're all grownups and can make good decisions about our time..."

Minute 10 of video
Floreen:  "...we have the Westbard challenge..."

Minute 12 of video
Floreen:  "We've been doing a pretty good job of just letting public testify...Once we start engaging, we really can't stop...If you have questions at the end you can always ask staff at the end..."

Leventhal:  "...long Delegation hearing...amazing for me to hear elected officials argue with their constituents who showed up to testify... it didn't reflect well on our Delegation... reflects better on us just to listen at public hearings... gets us home earlier... Don't ask questions and certainly don't disagree or pick fights..."

Navarro:  "...where you have a theme going on that is factually incorrect..."

Minute 17 of video
Floreen: "...we need supporting staff to help us..." during public hearings. "Keep in mind our job is to help the public."

Minute 19 of video
Floreen on number of people speaking at a public hearing.  "If we keep our mouths shut, the community gets to weigh in... my personal...is more the merrier."  "I know what they are going to say on land use..."

Minute 22 of video
Discussion of problem with lights on microphones at public hearings.

Hucker:  "...we look very bush-league..."

Floreen:  "Mr. Katz runs is own personal timer."

Katz:  "What is follow up after public hearing?"

Minute 32 of video is discussion about making individuals disclose at public hearings when they are actually representing a group.


Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Senator Franken asks Google about student data collection in schools



Robert Dyer @ Bethesda Row: New test results show 3 rooms at Westland MS excee...

Robert Dyer @ Bethesda Row: New test results show 3 rooms at Westland MS excee...: Montgomery County Public Schools has completed new radon tests at Westland Middle School in Bethesda, and results show at least 3 rooms i...

Balt. Sun: Dance and Foose say they aren't seeking job in Montgomery

Baltimore County school Superintendent Dallas Dance, who has asked that his contract be renewed, denied reports Tuesday that he has applied to be the next superintendent in Montgomery County.
"I have not applied for the Montgomery job," he said. "I have not applied for any job."
Howard County Superintendent Renee A. Foose also denies that she is in the running for the job.
Montgomery County's school board expects to make an announcement this spring on a permanent replacement for Joshua P. Starr, who resigned after reports that he did not have the votes needed to get a new contract. The Washington Post cited unnamed sources saying that both Dance and Foose were in the mix of applicants for the superintendent's job. John White, a spokesman for Howard County schools, said Foose hasn't applied for the job...

 http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/bs-md-co-dance-montgomery-20160112-story.html

2007: Foose and the Test Prep Scandal. WPost says Foose on Short List for MCPS Superintendent.

Sunday, March 4, 2007
The principal of Earle B. Wood Middle School in Rockville gathered teachers and handed out a list of all the black, Hispanic, special-education and limited-English-speaking students who would take the Maryland School Assessment, the measure of success or failure under the federal No Child Left Behind mandate.

Principal Renee Foose told teachers to cross off the names of students who had virtually no chance of passing and those certain to pass. Those who remained, children on the cusp between success and failure, would receive 45 minutes of intensive test preparation four days a week, until further notice.

...That is what some teachers say has happened at Wood. Their accounts and interviews with Foose offer a glimpse at a kind of test-prep triage that analysts think is increasingly common at many schools but is rarely discussed in public...

...Test preparations began in earnest, the staffers said, on the day faculty returned from winter break. In separate meetings with the English and math teachers, Foose handed out lists of "subgroup" students and outlined her plan:
"We were told to cross off the kids who would never pass," one staffer said. "We were told to cross off the kids who, if we handed them the test tomorrow, they would pass. And then the kids who were left over, those were the kids we were supposed to focus on."

The next week, teachers regularly began pulling selected students from social studies, science, gym, art and other elective classes to work in small groups to prepare for the test. They used test-prep workbooks and sample material from the state education department's Web site.
The principal and some employees disagree on how often students were removed from classes for test-preparation. Foose said that many teachers delivered extra instruction in the classroom.
Employees say that Foose and one of her administrators added to the urgency by telling students and parents that those who failed the assessments might be held back. The principal said the comments came from an assistant principal and were more about students' long-term academic prospects...

... Others, inside and outside the school, said they thought the exercise crossed a line.
"They're not teaching the material," Cullison said. "They're teaching them how to take a test, which is a huge disservice to these kids." 

 http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/03/03/AR2007030301372_3.html

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

MCPS rep a no-show at Olney Civic Assocation Meeting

No explanation and no apology issued by MCPS


Community leaders and residents from Olney, Brookville, Sandy Spring, and upper Rockville were left without a keynote speaker at the Greater Olney Civic Association (GOCA) meeting this evening when no one from MCPS showed up for a 30 minute presentation about the solar power plant proposed for the MCPS site on Cashell Road.

No one from MCPS phoned or emailed anyone from GOCA to advise that the MCPS representative would not be present.

The meeting went on without the speaker, but at the end of the meeting, the president of one of the HOAs adjacent to the site announced that his HOA was considering litigation over the proposed solar power plant.

Community members had requested that a Board of Education member attend an MCPS meeting held in November 2015 about the proposed solar power plant, but no one from the BOE was willing to attend.  Only a few community members had been advised in advance by MCPS about the November meeting.





WJLA TV: Tests show high radon levels at Prince George's Co. public schools



WASHINGTON (ABC7) -- Six weeks after ABC7 revealed that several Montgomery County schools had radon levels above the EPA recommended limits, we're getting similar test results from Prince George's County public schools.

Kevin Lewis has the story.


http://wjla.com/news/local/tests-show-high-radon-levels-at-prince-georges-co-public-schools


Tests showed that some schools had levels over 10 times the EPA action level.  One school had a level of 109 picocuries per liter, which is 27 times the EPA action level.

WTOP: Ex-employee charged with stealing from elementary school

ELKRIDGE, Md. (AP) — Howard County police have charged a former elementary school employee with stealing nearly $9,000 from the school.
Fifty-year-old Twyla Blackmon-Green of Elkridge was charged Monday in a criminal summons with 16 counts of theft, the department said Tuesday in a news release.
Officers say the Howard County Public School System notified the department about discrepancies in account ledgers. Authorities say Blackmon-Green, an officer worker at Ducketts Lane Elementary School in Elkridge, had access to the school’s accounts and cash.
Investigators say Blackmon-Green stole money that had been collected for field trips, book sales and in fundraisers.

 http://wtop.com/howard-county/2016/01/ex-employee-charged-with-stealing-from-elementary-school/

WUSA9: Asbestos found at school building site in Montgomery Co.

Assault at Westland MS

Robert Dyer @ Bethesda Row: Assault at Westland MS, car stolen in Kenwood + mu...: Here's a roundup of crimes reported across Bethesda on January 8, according to crime data: Liquor arrest. The Barking Dog. Burglar...

Secret Source says Dallas Dance and Renee Foose among candidates

...S. Dallas Dance, schools superintendent in Baltimore County, and Renee A. Foose, superintendent in Howard County, are among candidates who could be in play as the process heads into a critical period in the coming months, according to a person familiar with board discussions who requested anonymity to speak freely about a sensitive personnel process...

 https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/montgomery-schools-superintendent-could-be-selected-as-soon-as-march/2016/01/10/046dd5a2-b3e4-11e5-9388-466021d971de_story.html

WTOP: MCPS Halts Construction at BCC Middle School #2 Site

...A spokesman for MCPS says that construction has been temporarily halted because the excavation has uncovered the asbestos floor tiles from the demolished school.
“We have coordinated with the required state agencies and intend to start the abatement process,” MCPS spokesman Derek Turner said in an email.
The hazardous materials operation is scheduled to begin Monday, Turner said.
Meanwhile, neighbors say they wish the school system would provide more information about the construction project and some say posting an asbestos project sign on the site’s chain link fence appears to them to be the minimum requirement.
“The original school was buried under the ground here, and it would have been good for MCPS to let us known that that school originally had asbestos,” says Laura Dennis, a neighbor...

 http://wtop.com/montgomery-county/2016/01/kensington-residents-concerned-over-asbestos-warning-sign-at-middle-school-site/

MCPS Digs Up Asbestos and Former Building at BCC Middle School #2 Site #RockCreekHillsPark

MCPS apparently did not bother to do an Environmental Impact Study on the Rock Creek Hills park site before they began digging for construction of the new BCC Middle School #2.

Did MCPS' construction department simply not want to think about the fact that the lower part of the former school that was on part of this site had simply been covered up by dirt?  

The construction crew has now excavated part of the former school building and found asbestos.
  
What will this added asbestos abatement project and excavation of the former school building add to the cost of this middle school construction project?