Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Monday, May 30, 2016

Larry Bowers: Let Tyler Walk! #graduation #damascus

Let Tyler Walk!

Tyler is a senior at Damascus High School and was out for 3 months in November 2015 for a total spine replacement surgery. Tyler is a special needs student in the Learning for independence program (LFI). Due to the time he missed whether it's excused or unexcused from being out for the surgery/recovery his parents were informed he will not be allowed to walk with his graduating class. 

Sign the Petition

Memorial Day






 "...gather around their sacred remains and garland the passionless mounds above them with choicest flowers of springtime...let us in this solemn presence renew our pledges to aid and assist those whom they have left among us as sacred charges upon the Nation's gratitude,-- the soldier's and sailor's widow and orphan."     

General John Logan, General Order No. 11, 5 May 1868

Sunday, May 29, 2016

MCPS Bans Students from Graduation Ceremonies All the Time

If you owe MCPS or your local principal cash, whether the fee charged was legal or illegal, you do not get to attend graduation.  (For example, senior dues are an illegal fee. They are not authorized by the legislature or the Board of Education, but that does not stop principals from banning students from graduation if they do not pay up.)

No cash = no cap and gown = no ceremony 


Friday, May 27, 2016

Controversy Erupts at B-CC High School Over Punishment of Students Who Were Allegedly Drunk at Prom

Controversy Erupts at B-CC High School Over Punishment of Students Who Were Allegedly Drunk at Prom: Teachers, parents unhappy after Interim Superintendent Larry Bowers overruled principal on decision to ban students from graduation ceremony

The reversal of the decision to ban six Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School (B-CC) seniors from next week’s graduation ceremony because they were allegedly drunk at prom has caused a furor among some staff, parents and teachers.
Members of the school community who spoke to Bethesda Beat Friday said the reversal—which came from Interim Superintendent Larry Bowers after formal appeals from the students and their families—undermines the authority of Principal Donna Redmond Jones and flies in the face of a renewed effort to end underage drinking before prom, homecoming and other school events.
Jones, the school’s first-year principal, instituted the rule that any student who showed up drunk or was found drinking at the May 6 prom wouldn’t be allowed to receive his or her diploma at the school’s graduation ceremony Wednesday at DAR Constitution Hall.

Montgomery County planning massive tax-cut for developers

Robert Dyer @ Bethesda Row: Montgomery County planning massive tax-cut for dev...: This Thursday, Montgomery County will raise your taxes to the highest level ever. And next week, they will discuss the biggest developer ...

MCPS Mother speaks out after disabled son photographed partially naked using school restroom



An 18-year-old special needs student hasn't returned to class since someone snapped a compromising picture of him in a school bathroom, and then uploaded it onto a popular social media application.
On Monday, May 16, the student, born with cerebral palsy, autism and impaired vision, entered a men's restroom at Damascus High School where he was enrolled in the 'Learning For Independence' program.
Due to dexterity issues, the student, who ABC7 is not identifying, is unable to button or zip his pants. Instead, he wears clothing with elastic waistbands, often dropping his trousers down to his knees when he urinates. While the special needs victim stood in front of a urinal, a male classmate used his cell phone to take a photo of the victim's bare buttocks.
The photo was then posted onto Snapchat. It went viral in short order....

http://wjla.com/news/local/mother-speaks-out-after-disabled-son-photographed-using-school-restroom

WSJ: Cellphone-Cancer Link Found in Government Study

A major U.S. government study on rats has found a link between cellphones and cancer, an explosive finding in the long-running debate about whether mobile phones cause health effects.

 http://www.wsj.com/articles/cellphone-cancer-link-found-in-government-study-1464324146

The researchers wrote that the results "appear to support" the conclusion that RF radiation may indeed be carcinogenic.

Mother Jones:

Game-Changing” Study Links Cellphone Radiation to Cancer

  Click here for link to Mother Jones article  http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2016/05/federal-study-links-cell-phone-radiation-cancer

Thursday, May 26, 2016

MCPS web site shut down due to "technical difficulties"

Due to unspecified "technical difficulties", the public MCPS web site has been almost entirely shut down since Thursday evening.   An estimated time for reactivation has not been announced.  

   

Council's Education Comm. will Take Up State Audit of MCPS while You are on Vacation

According to a message posted on Facebook today by Montgomery County Councilmember Marc Elrich, the Council's Education Committee will be discussing the 2016 Maryland State Office of Legislative Audits report on Montgomery County Public Schools sometime in August.  No date has been set yet for this discussion.

August is traditionally a time when many Montgomery County families take vacations.  Obviously, the Council wants to make sure you are out of town when the 2016 MCPS Audit is discussed.
The Council does not want you to see any news reports about the Audits findings or hear MCPS' response that the State auditors are wrong in their findings.

So let the Council know when your family will be out of town this summer so they can safely schedule a discussion of the 2016 State audit of MCPS when the least number of County residents will be in the County.   

County.Council@montgomerycountymd.gov


Balt. Co. Auditors want Answers on School Spending on Laptops

Baltimore County auditors are pressing the public school system for answers on its laptop-per-student program, as well as the schools’ overall spending and other priorities for next school year — including whether parents could be given “an ‘opt-out’ alternative to digital learning environments” for their children.
In a May 16 memo from the Office of the County Auditor to Baltimore County Schools Superintendent Dallas Dance, auditors asked BCPS about the schools’ technology initiative, with planned “total costs” of $285 million in the first several years...

http://towsonflyer.com/2016/05/18/county-auditors-seek-answers-bcps-budget-tech-initiative/

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

approximately 300 routes were below 50 percent of MCPS’ bus capacity

From the 2016 Maryland State Office of Legislative Services audit of MCPS:


The account and password controls over network authentication and the student information and financial management system applications and databases did not meet certain minimum thresholds

From the 2016 Maryland State Office of Legislative Services audit of MCPS

Finding 10 Network, application, and database account and password controls were not sufficient to properly protect critical resources, as they did not meet minimum thresholds in accordance with recognized best practices. Analysis
Network, application, and database account and password controls were not sufficient to properly protect critical resources. The account and password controls over network authentication and the student information and financial management system applications and databases did not meet certain minimum thresholds, as identified in best practices prescribed by the State of Maryland
Information Security Policy.
For example, network authentication password controls were deficient with respect to password length, complexity, maximum age, and history. A similar condition related to network authentication and application password controls was commented upon in our preceding audit report.

MCPS Core Firewalls Not Configured to Properly Secure MCPS Network

This section of the 2016 Maryland State Office of Legislative Services audit of MCPS speaks for itself.


Audit: "MCPS paid the vendors approximately $1.3 million more than the contract amounts approved by the Board."

Whatever...clearly MCPS administrators do not care or pay any attention to Board of Education votes.  

This section of the 2016 Maryland State Office of Legislative Services audit of MCPS speaks for itself.

Montgomery County taxpayers, you pay for this. 


Parents, these dollars represent LESS teachers in classrooms.  Money spent without Board of Education approval steals money from classrooms and increases class size. 



Breaking: State Audit Flags Special Education Lawyer's Contract with Board of Education

MCPS "management" thinks not knowing what you are paying for is good money management.

This section of the 2016 Maryland State Office of Legislative Services audit of MCPS speaks for itself.  

Montgomery County taxpayers, you pay for this. 



Breaking: State Releases MCPS Audit Day Before Final Council Vote on Budget. No Bid Contracts Flagged!

Here's just a sample from the 6 year Maryland State Office of Legislative Audits report on Montgomery County Public Schools.   The 6 year audit is being released a week after the Montgomery Council already voted to raise Montgomery County citizens' taxes to support the alleged need of Montgomery County Public Schools for more money. 
 
Remember the Gallup Poll?

MCPS awarded a three-year $900,000 contract with payments totaling
$300,000 in fiscal year 2014 to survey employees without using a
competitive procurement process or preparing a sole-source justification
even though this service (conducting
surveys) is available from multiple firms.


Mont. Co. School Resourse Officer - Excessive Force at Prom - Assigned to SRO Job after Prior DUI #Sherwood



- A Montgomery County police officer is facing allegations of excessive force at a high school prom. FOX 5 has learned Officer Mauricio Veiga has been removed from his assignment as a school resource officer at Sherwood High School following the outcome of an investigation.
Montgomery County police are looking into the allegations and reviewing surveillance video from the prom held at a local hotel two weeks ago, which allegedly shows an altercation between the officer and a female senior student.

 Teachers at the high school who were present at prom filed the complaint against Officer Veiga, a 12-year veteran with the department, claiming he placed a female student in a headlock, tackled her to the ground and then holding her arms behind her back as if he was going to arrest her following a verbal altercation between the teenager and a fellow student...

...Officer Veiga has been charged with harassment in the past and was also arrested back in 2012 for DUI. Those charges were adjudicated...

 http://www.fox5dc.com/news/local-news/144250107-story

Video: Students Sing Protest of Installation of Cell Tower Next to Their School

Published on May 11, 2016
Parents of children attending Monkstown Educate Together National School (METNS), Co. Dublin and local residents are challenging Vodafone plans to install a mobile phone mast on the roof of IADT College, located directly beside the primary school. They are also calling on the new government to strengthen existing legislation, which is in place since 2012 - a relaxed version of the previous guidelines put in place in 1996.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Board Member attempt to bully other Board Members for Asking Questions

Towson: 
...“It is the moral and legal obligation of every member of the board to provide oversight of our superintendent and the school system.  That is actually the “board’s work.”  Board members don’t make implementation happen.  We authorize it by our votes.  So, to say that oversight is getting in the way of the work of the board is a display of a lack of understanding of the proper role of the board,” Miller said in an email.
“Not only is oversight our responsibility, but reporting issues of suspected abuse or ethical violations is required by board policy of all employees.”

http://towsonflyer.com/2016/05/12/accusations-hate-lies-retaliation-bcps-school-board/

Monday, May 23, 2016

Agreement to reduce class size does not exist



Click on image to enlarge
The Council received your request under the Maryland Public Information Act (Md. Code, General Provisions (GP) §§ 4-101 to 4-601) for an agreement between the County and the Board of Education "that specifies that the Board of Education will use the FY2017 funding toward reducing class size". The Council does not have any such document. Though not specifically requested, I have attached 2 letters from Board President Durso that are relevant to this issue. 
SG §4-362 specifies the remedies for a person who believes that he or she has been unlawfully denied inspection of a public record.  You should consult §4-362 if you believe you have been unlawfully denied inspection of a public record.  
Sincerely,
Amanda Mihill
Legislative Attorney

Long Term Substitute Problems

Almost all students have had a long-term sub at some point or another. They are an interruption to the pattern of learning that students have become accustomed to. Each sub and teacher have different teaching styles, policies and even expectations. It is unfair that students are expected to transition over to a stranger teaching them without hesitation.
“Going from your teacher to a long term sub is difficult,” sophomore Jasiel Portillo said. “I don’t feel like I’m learning to the full extent and when the teacher returns to our class, we have to play catch up.”
When a teacher plans to leave for a period of time, they are able to find a substitute to fit their preferences and teaching styles, making sure that their students are left in good hands. They are have the option to make lesson plans, leave assignments and assign projects so that students can get straight to work when the sub is implemented.
“It took a while. It’s harder to find long-term subs than you would think …. There really is no protocol. MCPS doesn’t have a ‘go here to find people’ thing,” social studies teacher Caitlin Ulmer said. “Some teachers have sub recommendations, but many of them are on their own when making the decision.”...

http://www.rockvillerampage.com/opinion/long-term-substitute-problems/

Friday, May 20, 2016

Stop McTeacher's Nights

Can you believe that McDonald’s enlists teachers to sell junk food to their students? On “McTeacher’s Nights” across the country, teachers “work” behind the counter selling burgers, fries, and soda to their students and their students’ families. It’s a marketing ploy disguised as a school fundraiser. McDonald’s is exploiting the hard-earned trust, respect, and popularity of teachers to sell junk food to kids and create brand loyalty.
It’s shameful that McDonald’s is using the tragic underfunding of our public schools as a marketing opportunity. Teachers should never have to sacrifice their students’ health in order to earn a few extra resources for their classrooms.
Please tell McDonald’s CEO Easterbrook: No More McTeacher’s Nights!
To learn more, please visit http://commercialfreechildhood.org/action/stop-mcteachers-nights.

Petition:

 http://org.salsalabs.com/o/621/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=18562

MCPS Students Love Seeing Their Teachers Behind the Counter at McDonald's

MCPS 2016:


Remember this from 2008?

Restaurant Fundraiser A McShock For Official


By Lori Aratani
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, February 3, 2008

Call it the Big Mac Moment.
It happened Thursday, about a half-hour into a routine Montgomery County Council committee meeting on food marketing in the school system. Ameena Batada, co-author of a report by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, was briefing council members.
"And at the McTeacher's Night, teachers actually go and work behind the register," she said. "So students can see their teachers behind the cash registers at McDonald's."
Council member George L. Leventhal (D-At Large) interrupted her, disbelief in his voice.
"Teachers are enlisted by McDonald's to work behind the cash register at McDonald's, and students are recruited to go to McDonald's that night to see their teacher dishing out the Big Macs?" he asked with horror. "I never heard of that."
About 20 minutes later, Leventhal spoke up again. "The McDonald's thing really bothers me a lot," he said, his sentiment partly fueled by a concern about childhood obesity. "I mean, I don't know if we'd have a fundraiser at the local cigarette store."...

 http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/02/02/AR2008020201966.html

Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School Set for ‘Incredibly Complex’ Addition Project

Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School Set for ‘Incredibly Complex’ Addition Project:
The $30 million project will add 24 classrooms, four science labs, a dance studio that could also be used as a black box theater, new art class spaces and other rooms for staff that will bump up the school’s capacity to 2,398 students. Almost 2,000 students attend the school now and classes will continue at the school during construction.
The project also includes raising the existing six tennis courts 20 feet above ground to allow for more student parking spaces underneath and a total renovation of the school’s football field and track that won’t be completed until 2019.

Doctors Present Evidence of Wireless Radiation Impacts on Children

The nation's leading experts on wireless radiation and human health impacts participate in a live press conference prior to their panel at the Pediatric Academic Societies Annual Meeting in Baltimore. Featuring Dr. Devra Davis, Dr. Hugh Taylor, Dr. Martha Herbert and Dr.Catherine Steiner-Adair

http://www.grassrootsinfo.org/pc50316.html


Thursday, May 19, 2016

Montgomery Co. council approves 8.7 percent tax hike

WASHINGTON — Homeowners in Montgomery County should brace themselves for a tax increase: In a vote that signals how the final operating budget will look, the County Council approved a property tax increase that will raise those taxes by 8.7 percent.
And when homes are sold, buyers and sellers will see a jump in the tax they pay. The recordation tax, as it’s known, will increase so that a home valued at $400,000 would see an increase of the recordation tax of $255.
A $600,000 home would see the same tax jump by $805, according to figures provided by the county...

 http://wtop.com/montgomery-county/2016/05/montgomery-co-council-approves-8-7-percent-tax-hike/

increase of $326 in property taxes next fiscal year for the average county homeowner

...The property tax increase, which had to be approved by all nine council members because it surpassed the county’s inflation-based charter limit, will mean an increase of $326 in property taxes next fiscal year for the average county homeowner. The average home value in the county is $464,441...

...The operating budget will fund Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) at almost $90 million above the minimum per-pupil spending amount required by the state, an amount that will require at least as much per-pupil education funding in future budgets.
Floreen proposed the recordation tax increase, which the council unanimously approved with a straw vote Wednesday, to net the county about $200 million over the next few years. Most of the money will go toward the school system’s record $1.73 billion portion of the county’s $4.6 billion capital improvements program...

...Many in the real estate industry opposed the increase, but Floreen pointed to the fact the money will be used to stave off one-year delays to addition projects at Whitman and Wootton high schools...

 http://www.bethesdamagazine.com/Bethesda-Beat/Web-2016/County-Council-Approves-87-Percent-Property-Tax-Increase/

BOE Successfully Withheld 2015 State Audit of MCPS through Budget Process #waste #fraud #abuse #accountabilityfail

MCPS has had the 2015 State Audit for months.  The Board of Education has even been told about the 2015 State Audit. (Click on the link below.)  But, the 2015 State Audit has not been made public as of this morning when the County Council finalized the Board of Education's budgets.

That's a big win for county "values!" 
Montgomery County "values" secrecy, waste, fraud and abuse in budgeting.  

It's "historic" as it is history repeating itself. 
We know the 2015 State Audit is going to show areas where MCPS could improve in their management of public funds, but who wants that? 

Now, which taxpayer funded credit card is going to be used to take the Council and BOE out to dinner tonight to celebrate?

Another Bad Audit for MCPS. 2015 State Audit of MCPS Shows SAME Findings as in 2009.

School district sues maker of its football field surface, says it has failed to honor warranty

Wisconsin:  The Middleton-Cross Plains School District has filed a federal lawsuit against the maker of the artificial playing surface at its football and soccer stadium, saying the maker hasn’t honored its warranty for the prematurely aging surface, despite knowing that it was made using defective material.
According to the lawsuit, filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Madison, the district alleges that FieldTurf USA, a leading maker of artificial athletic playing surfaces used in high school, college and professional stadiums, has refused to replace the synthetic field on the district’s football and soccer field at Middleton’s Breitenbach Stadium, which cost the district $306,428 to install in 2007.
The district says that in 2014, FieldTurf settled a lawsuit against the manufacturer of the fiber that is used to make the playing surface for what is believed to be “tens of millions dollars,” to account for future claims of untimely wear from customers who bought the artificial turf.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Students targeted for data collection and product marketing through PARCC, Google Apps for Education

Washington Post reports that "schools have become 'soft targets' for companies trying to gather data and market to children because of the push in education to adopt new technology and in part because of the rise of computer-administered Common Core tests". The Post cites the National Education Policy Center's new annual report titled “Learning to be Watched: Surveillance Culture at School". The report expresses concerns about privacy, commercialization of student lives and companies exploiting student vulnerabilities: "Although companies that collect, sell, analyze, and buy data may not know children’s names (though they probably do), that hardly matters if they have the information and tools necessary to model everything about those children — including their interests, social networks, personalities, vulnerabilities, desires, and aspirations — and if they have personalized access to children, via their electronic devices, to shape them." The report also observes that Americans are, “to some extent being socialized to ignore and tacitly accept the collection, organization, and sale of information about us”: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2016/05/17/schools-are-now-soft-targets-for-companies-to-collect-data-and-market-to-kids-report/

High school attempted rape suspect tells ABC7, "I'm innocent"


Neither sound nor fair...expedited bill...recordation taxes in Mont. Co. already highest in country...


"Chasing away the very families that would benefit from living here"


Hogan and Franchot take an 'astonishing' step

The obsession with window air conditioning in Baltimore county and city public schools by Comptroller Peter Franchot, joined of late by Gov. Larry Hogan, is no longer amusing. On Wednesday, their heavy-handed tactics to force local officials to immediately install window units in some 4,000 classrooms went beyond political grandstanding into the realm of doing real damage to students and to a system of making hard choices on how to allocate limited funds that has long served the state well. The governor and comptroller decided to hold back $10 million to renovate county schools and $5 million for city schools unless city and county officials do something that is probably impossible, possibly illegal and certainly fiscally wasteful. In the process, they disrespected the Baltimore County superintendent, smeared the integrity of the attorney general and his staff, bullied the treasurer and prompted the man who has guided the state's school construction program for 13 years to resign. It was ugly, unbecoming and ultimately unproductive...

 http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/editorial/bs-ed-air-conditioning-20160512-story.html

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Apt & Office Building Assocation Opposed to Nancy Floreen' s Tax: Concern about catastrophic defaults


"We should not be pitting schools and parents against Realtors"


Howard Co. BOE Paid Attorney $10,000 on Mold Issues instead of Removing Mold

From Howard County parents:

Thru an MPIA of all invoices from Attorney Jeff Krew since October, we see that taxpayers also funded his work on a "mold dispute" totaling over $10,000. This is just since October. This is an awful lot of money for a mold problem HCPSS said was remediated before school started and one in which no member of community pursued legal action. What exactly have we paid for?

The day after the Board of Public Works meeting on January 27th, in which Governor Hogan and Comptroller Franchot interrogated Dr. Foose about parent communication and maintenance, Jeff Krew earned $987 from taxpayers.

https://www.facebook.com/Mold-in-Howard-County-Schools-Information-for-Parents-1652648218315788/

The Montgomery County Board of Education uses the same law firm.

County Council Appears Poised to Pass Property, Recordation Tax Increases

County Council Appears Poised to Pass Property, Recordation Tax Increases: Members say increases are necessary to fully fund schools budget, other priorities

Now: Floreen Tells Board of Ed. to Halt Work on Carver Bus Depot

Council will Revisit Bus Depot Move in June


PARCC Assessment in MD: Alternatives to a Failing Test

Here is the "White Paper" that MCPS and MSDE don't want you to read:

The PARCC Assessment in Maryland, Alternatives to a Failing Test.
8/6/2015

From the Executive Summary:

Every state administers standardized tests to identify gaps in learning and to determine where
students are in their educational process. The recently implemented Partnership for Assessment
of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) assessments, however, have provided more costs
than benefits in pursuit of this goal.
During its first year in Maryland schools, the PARCC exam has experienced several
difficulties which have countered the benefits of administering the assessment including
inefficient use of time, low construct validity, and technological problems. The test also fails to
provide incentives to teachers, students, and administrators, as there are no consequences for
poor performance. These problems reflect weaknesses in both the test itself and its
implementation. In addition, recent attrition among PARCC members makes
it difficult to identify the test as a national standard, despite that being the exam’s
original purpose.

To read more, CLICK HERE.

MCPS and MSDE: If You Don't Like PARCC, You Can Just Go To Private School

When I told MCPS that my daughter is not taking the PARCC test. I got a legal letter from the Principal telling me that according to recent court cases parents do not have the right to opt out of any part of the MCPS curriculum. The only choice that MCPS alleges parents have is to send their kids to public school or not. Parents don't choose to send their kids to Public schools unless they actually HAVE the choice to send them to private. If this is not possible because of economics or accessibility then there is no choice that is being exercised. In the case of my family, we don't have a choice. We cannot afford, nor do we have any nearby, a private school.

While the PARCC opt out movement is strong in other places, some of us have felt intense pressure from MCPS to have my child tested. While parents don't have any rights, according to MCPS on PARCC testing, students do. The student will have to refuse to take the test in a public declaration at test time then sit in the same room as all the other students for two hours. For some students. this will not be a problem for some, it would be publically humiliating.

My child is refusing today. I just sent her off with a copy of the MCPS letter. Here is the excerpt:

Thank you for writing with your concern about your child’s participation in the upcoming administration of the Partnership for Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) assessments. We are not able to grant permission for students to opt out of taking this statewide test. MCPS is required to administer the PARCC tests to students this year. The Maryland State Department of Education has instructed school systems that students may not be granted
exemptions or waivers to taking these tests.

Public Law 107-110, the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, requires states to annually test all students in grades 3-8 and 10 in reading and mathematics. State COMAR citations 13A01.04.01A, 13A01.04.04A, and 13A01.04.05C describe public school standards that schools and students must meet. The requirement (among others) is that all students who attend a public school (01A) must be assessed in reading, mathematics, and science (04A). Section 05C describes the grades in which students must be assessed. In addition, security COMAR regulation 13A.03.04 and MCPS regulation prohibits staff from excluding students from
participation.

Based on a number of court cases, the Maryland State Board of Education has said that while parents may have a fundamental right to decide whether to send their child to a public school, they cannot pick and choose the parts of the public education program in which they will allow their children to participate. Since assessment is part of the regular instructional program, local school officials are required to assess the students who are present on testing days and to offer make-up testing for those who are absent. Issues of public education are generally “committed to the control of State and local authorities”.

Please understand that we do not advocate that your child stay home during testing days, and we hope that s/he will participate with the rest of the students in their class. However, we can honor a student’s refusal to take the exam. Once we have offered the exam to your child, s/he may indicate to the examiner that s/he would like to decline the opportunity to test. At that time, s/he will remain in the room until the time of her next course. If the student is participating in either the Algebra 1 or English Language Arts/Literacy 10 assessment, they must complete at least one question in each unit to receive the participation credit to satisfy the Maryland High School Assessment graduation requirement.
A.J. Campbell

Kicking the Can Down the Road: Salary Increases Moved to 2018

“The contracts were returned to Leggett, who had 10 days to renegotiate them with the unions. He returned them to the council last week with the increases not cut but shifted nearly entirely toward the next fiscal year. Council staff said the move would result in just $115,485 to be paid in salary increases for fiscal 2017 but $6.8 million devoted to raises in 2018.”

An easy A? Under new rules, these high school students could see grades soar

Maryland’s largest school system just made it easier for high school students to get A’s.
Just months after deciding to eliminate traditional final exams, Montgomery County has announced significant changes to its method of calculating grades starting in the 2016-2017 school year, most notably that final course grades will be rounded up after a student’s two quarterly grades are averaged. If a student gets, say, an A for the first quarter in geometry and then a B for the second quarter, the student’s semester course grade would be an A. If a student gets an A in one quarter and then a D in the next quarter, they would end up with a B.
The move is a departure from the county’s previous grading scheme, which generally relied on a student’s two quarter grades and a final exam grade. When a course had no final, the grading trendline prevailed, so that if students slumped from an A in one quarter to a B in the next, their semester grade fell to a B. No longer...

 https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/an-easy-a-under-new-rules-these-high-school-students-could-see-grades-soar/2016/05/11/6f3e2a5a-16f2-11e6-9e16-2e5a123aac62_story.html

Monday, May 16, 2016

Cell Tower Death in Damascus


Help Wanted: Home for 450 Yellow School Buses

And so the battle continues.  Where to put those 450 annoying school buses that are currently occupying prime real estate next to the Shady Grove Metro.

Answers from the developers and county politicians only answer some of the questions.  Proposals include putting some at Carver Educational Center, some more at the Westmore site right outside of the City of Rockville's boundaries, and some - scattered through the county parked at various high schools.

But really folks, we need a solution that addresses all buses - not just a few scattered here and there.

Until the good taxpayers of MoCo get an accounting to relocate ALL those Shady Grove buses, we don't really have any viable solution.

Lets be helpers.

Why not the site of the White Flint shopping center?  Right now its just an eyesore on Rockville Pike - its already commercially zoned, contains a school site, and looks like its all paved and ready to be - surprise - a PARKING LOT.

Right now, the site is tied up in litigation, between the developers - the Lerner family, and the Lord and Taylor department store.  According to  newspaper reports, Lord and Taylor is asking for more money, and the Lerners aren't happy at all.  In fact, the Lerners threaten to not go through with their $800 million development plan until all the appeals are settled and may shelve the project entirely if the courts do not rule in their favor.

So - looks as if White Flint will be tied up in litigation for years to come.

Hey Lerners - do you have room for a few hundred buses that can temporarily use your property?  Be good citizens - and help your fellow developers solve the Shady Grove bus dilemma.  After all, isn't it all developers really want to do is build?


EXCLUSIVE: MD Teacher Suspension and Revocation Report 1995 - April 2016

The record of 817 disciplinary actions for Maryland teachers from 1989 through April 2016, are listed on the document below.

This document was obtained by the Parents' Coalition of Montgomery County, MD through a Maryland Public Information Act request filed May 4, 2016.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

M&T Bank Gets New Sod

M&T Bank Gets New Sod: M&T Bank Stadium visitors are seeing a new kind of green on the field.

Friday, May 13, 2016

County Scrambles to Find Space for School Buses to Make Way for Shady Grove Redevelopment

County Scrambles to Find Space for School Buses to Make Way for Shady Grove Redevelopment: Recent controversy over interim bus depot in Rockville stems from county’s attempts at finding replacement sites

Today: Katz, Leventhal & Elrich Say Work on Carver Bus Depot Should Stop Immediately

Middle school students ill after drinking mixture of vodka, NyQuil and Jolly Ranchers

http://www.wusa9.com/news/local/middle-school-students-ill-after-drinking-mixture-of-vodka-nyquil-and-jolly-ranchers/189946645

governor called Lever "a major part of the problem."

Gov. Larry Hogan said Thursday he's "very pleased" with the decision of the state's school construction chief to resign amid the ongoing battle over school air conditioning in Baltimore city and county.
David Lever has headed the Interagency Committee on School Construction, a state agency that reviews school construction projects and spending, since 2003.
On Wednesday, Lever criticized the vote by Hogan and Comptroller Peter Franchot on the Board of Public Works to withhold $15 million from Baltimore city and county school systems unless they install portable air conditioners in schools over the summer.
Lever said the decision politicized school construction funding and prompted his decision to step down, effective in September.
Hogan said he's glad to see him go.
At a news conference in Annapolis, the Republican governor called Lever "a major part of the problem."...

http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/politics/bs-md-air-conditioning-reax-20160512-story.html

Four ways schools failed in the case of Maurice Bellamy, a 17-year-old charged with two killings

1. Immediately upon moving to D.C., Bellamy’s mother tried to enroll him in the city’s Ballou Senior High. But officials kept missing meetings and putting her off.
Bellamy drifted for five weeks before he was allowed to start classes at Ballou. An independent hearing officer, hired by the city to help resolve special education disputes, later said the delay was “due to unresponsiveness of and lack of communication” of school staff...

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/education/wp/2016/04/30/four-ways-schools-failed-in-the-case-of-maurice-bellamy-a-17-year-old-charged-with-two-killings/

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Gentlemen start your engines - the battle of the school bus has begun

At various points, the presenters told the audience:
·         there is no complete interim solution for all 400 buses currently located at the Shady Grove Bus Depot;
·         buses relocated to Carver would all have to test their horns in the morning, likely during the 6 a.m. hour though some would start even earlier;
·         no heavy maintenance or fueling would occur at Carver though there would be a truck on site for light maintenance, like jump starting buses; and
·         some buses would return after the drivers complete morning routes around 10 a.m. and then head back out again between 1:45-2 p.m. with a return time of 5 p.m. though the MCPS staffers did not offer an exact number;
·         on cold mornings, bus checks would start at around 4 a.m.; and
·         several different governing bodies have a stake in deciding the fate of the depot.

County Officials Join Residents in Opposition to Rockville School Bus Depot

County Officials Join Residents in Opposition to Rockville School Bus Depot: County Council member calls situation ‘a mess’ during contentious public meeting

Hundreds attend meeting to oppose bus depot in Maryland

A standing room only crowd of hundreds came out Wednesday night to voice opposition to a plan that would put a bus depot near Montgomery College in Rockville.
The school system plan calls for 100 school buses to be kept in a parking lot at the southwest corner of Rt. 355 and Mannakee Street. The lot sits very close to a townhome community on Ivy League Lane.
"My son's bedroom window is 120 feet from the curb edge of this bus lot debacle," said Eric Ledbetter, a Rockville parent who helped organize a protest before the meeting. "I'm worried about my son's health. He's slept with his window open his entire life."
The county council has told Montgomery County Public Schools that, by January, it needs to remove the 430 buses it keeps at a depot near the Shady Grove Metro Station.
The council wants the buses out of the way so a new development can be built on the property, which is at the southeast corner of Shady Grove Road and Crabbs Branch Way.


http://wjla.com/news/local/hundreds-of-residents-attend-meeting-to-oppose-bus-depot-in-maryland

WMAL: Montgomery Co. Wants To Expand Free School Lunches For Kids On Weekends



http://dailycaller.com/2016/05/03/md-county-wants-to-expand-free-school-lunches-on-weekends-video/

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

The Carver Coalition Demands Answers on the Bus Depot and Gets

A big turnout at their meeting tonight. A lot of emotion.   A lot of politicals.



But did they get anything else?

Maybe, maybe not.

Kumar Barve spoke on behalf of the District's State Representatives.  The four reps, Delegate Barve, with Del. Gilchrist and Del. Platt, and presumably Senator Kagan, are writing the County Council to let them know that they are opposed to the plan to relocate the MCPS bus depot partially to Carver.  Barve, Glichrist, and Kagan were in attendance tonight.I say presumable to Kagan because she sent a letter to many homes last weekend saying that the matter was no longer "urgent,"  She then posted on her website (how many read her website?) that she made a mistake and was misinformed.  Lets hope that the District 17 reps don't make another mistake.  But do they have any say in the matter?



The County Council was also represented - by Councilmembers Sid Katz, Marc Elrich, and George Leventhal, who stated that they are opposed to the Carver site as a bus parking lot.  According to Leventhal, the numbers don't add up, and he doesn't see any urgency to relocate the buses.

Rockville Mayor Bridget Newton also stated that the City of Rockville is opposed to locating the bus depot at Carver.  She was accompanied by Councilmembers Julie Carr and Mark Pierzchala.  Mayor Newton also asked that the deciding powers NOT pit Rockville neighbors against each other.  Good for Mayor Newton.  Rockville residents successfully fought off relocating the site on Avery Road, and are now told that the remaining buses that don't fit on the Carver site will be relocated to the Lincoln Park neighborhood - on the other side of the Red Line Railroad tracks.

And then the Board of Education spoke up - Phil Kaufman, accompanied by Rebecca Smondrowski and Jill Orman-Fouse, also are apparently in opposition to the relocation of the bus depot to Carver.  But what will they do with 100 buses if the County Council orders them off the property - maybe not on January 1, but some other future date when they don't have a plan?


So - who gets the deciding vote?  Why hasn't anyone offered a resolution to stop this circus?  How will these elected officials really vote - we know the County Council unanimously voted a few days ago to give MCPS money for preliminary studies.  We also know that despite all the mandatory referrals and other procedural nice things said in public, when push comes to shove, MCPS ignores the City of Rockville (as folks from Wootton and RM Clusters well know). Why study if this is dead in the water?  Why vote for the funding if you think this is a bad idea?

Bigger question.  How did we get here?  Remember, a developer wants the current bus depot site, so MCPS has to relocate 450 buses to another location.  Why are we still giving public land to developers?  We know here in MoCo our kids are educated in "learning cottages" - and now our buses need to find a new home too, because some developer has decided that housing is the way to go.






BREAKING: David Lever, head of the MD committee on school construction resigns his position


Real Estate Agents Push Back Against Proposed Increase in Recordation Tax

Real Estate Agents Push Back Against Proposed Increase in Recordation Tax:

...Local real estate agents who spoke during a council public hearing on the proposal said it would hurt first-time home buyers in the market and may have a negative effect on the overall real estate market.
Peg Mancuso, the president of the Greater Capital Area Association of Realtors, which represents about 10,000 Realtors in the region, said while she supports increased spending on schools, Floreen’s measure would hurt a segment of the population the county is trying to woo—young people buying their first homes.
“We do not believe overburdening those who make long-term investments in the county is either just or prudent,” Mancuso said. “There must be a better way, let’s work together.”
Under the proposal the base rate of the recordation tax—$2.20 per every $500 on the sale price of a home—would stay the same, but the school increment portion of the tax would rise from $1.25 per $500 of the sale price to $2 per $500 of the price. The recordation tax premium, which is only applied to homes sold for more than $500,000 would increase from $1.55 per $500 to $2.30 per $500. For example, a house sold for $600,000 would pay about $1,000 more in recordation taxes under the increase.
Mancuso was one of several real estate agents who spoke against the increase at the hearing.
"We can not afford to add any more barriers to home ownership," Susann Haskins, of Long and Foster Real Estate, said. She noted that buyers face 19 itemized charges they must pay at closing in the county and this will only increase those costs...

one major reason for all the cases is the illegal use of smart phones and social media. "Access is a key factor,"

Georgia: Epidemic of Teachers Accused of Having Sex with Students

...John Seryak, a retired educator who is now with the organization SESAMEnet.org -- Stop Educator Sexual Abuse Misconduct and Exploitation, says schools and police do not release official statistics, but his group's research, nationwide, compiled a list of 459 teachers arrested in the U.S. for sexual misconduct with students in calendar year 2014, and 496 more arrested last year.

Seryak believes one major reason for all the cases is the illegal use of smart phones and social media.
"Access is a key factor," he said.  "With students with cell phones all the time, and teachers with cell phones, there's that ability to communicate.... [some teachers] will actually target students they know are vulnerable."
But Seryak pointed out that the "secret" communications are also the reason many cases are exposed -- parents discover the teachers' sexting on the children's smart phones and laptops.

http://www.11alive.com/news/crime/epidemic-of-teachers-accused-of-having-sex-with-students/183630286

KLAS Las Vegas Wi-Fi in School Report: WiFi in schools: Is it hurting your child?

KLAS TV 8 News Report about Wi-Fi Health Risks. This news piece follows a mother advocating for a safe school for her daughter.  The story ran May 9, 2016.

See the news report online at http://www.lasvegasnow.com/news/wifi-in-schools-is-it-hurting-your-child.

Pediatric researchers suggest potential dangers for children from cellphone exposure

Doctors and scientists from Harvard and Yale medical schools warned Tuesday that pregnant mothers limit their unborn babies exposure to potentially harmful radiation by keeping cellphones away from their tummies because of the possible impact on brain development.
The doctors offered the advice during the Pediatric Academic Societies annual meeting in Baltimore where they also said parents should limit their children’s use of cellphones, iPads and other wireless technology because it can cause behavioral and concentration problems.
There is little research on the impact of the microwave radiation and radio frequency radiation emitted by wireless devices on children, but the doctors said early studies provide enough evidence to suggest that parents should take caution.
The doctors comments could stoke a longtime debate over the health dangers of cellphones, but the industry disputed their warning...

http://www.baltimoresun.com/health/blog/bal-cell-phones-child-brain-story.html

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Montgomery schools, teachers near deal to divert pay increases to classroom

The Montgomery County Board of Education is nearing an unusual agreement with unionized teachers and other school staff to divert $37 million earmarked for pay hikes into initiatives to reduce class size and otherwise improve instruction.
The deal is one element in a busy two weeks of deliberations before the County Council’s scheduled May 26 vote on a new $5.1 billion operating budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1. Two tax increases are under consideration: a 6.4 percent hike in residential property taxes, and a rise in taxes to record home sales. Most of the new revenue would be steered to schools.
Details of the union concessions — which are coming from renegotiation of a labor contract signed in 2014 — were still being finalized...

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/md-politics/montgomery-schools-teachers-near-deal-to-divert-pay-increases-to-classroom/2016/05/10/ec020c0c-1646-11e6-924d-838753295f9a_story.html

Giammo seeks answers on Carver controversy from Ro...

Rockville Nights: Giammo seeks answers on Carver controversy from Ro...: Mayor Bridget Donnell Newton brought a request from former Rockville mayor Larry Giammo to the floor during Old/New Business at last night...

Police, School System Want to Outfit All County School Buses With Cameras (Inside and Out)

Police, School System Want to Outfit All County School Buses With Cameras:

...Watkins and police officials visited Dallas and Chesterfield, Virginia, to observe Force Multiplier Solution’s “BusGuard” system in action. Watkins said the system also includes the ability to see live footage of what’s happening inside a bus, which he said could be useful if a driver pushed a panic button because of a fight between students or a serious collision with another vehicle.
“If there were a behavior incident with a student or an accident and it gets reported back to the office, we can actually get a live view to give us much better information to be able to respond,” Watkins said.
He said the school system now has cameras inside about half of its buses, but getting access to the video produced by a given camera requires an employee to retrieve it off the bus after the incident is over. With the new vendor, Watkins said the school system could access the live video or access it remotely any time through a password-protected and encrypted online system...

Baltimore County school board member wants vote on Dance contract delayed

The Baltimore County school board is scheduled to vote Tuesday on a new contract for Superintendent Dallas Dance, but one member is seeking a delay after an ethics complaint was filed Monday against Dance.
[...]
Miller said she wants the board to hold off on the vote because a former teacher filed a complaint against Dance on Monday with the school board's ethics panel.

The ethics complaint filed by William Groth, a county resident, alleges that Dance violated the terms of his contract by offering his availability for paid speaking engagements at educational conferences. Groth sent a screen shot of a speakers bureau website showing Dance and listing his availability and a $5,000 speaking fee.

"There is an increasing trend for more speaking engagements by the superintendent and other BCPS staff," the complaint states. "The more extensive his speaking engagement schedule becomes, the harder it is to justify a legitimate school system benefit."

Full story at:
http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/education/bs-md-co-dance-vote-contract-20160509-story.html

Pearson rejects call by unions to change its test-centric business strategy

A union-backed resolution calling for Pearson to change its business strategy and to stop relying so much on high-stakes testing in the United States was rejected this week at the annual general meeting of the world’s largest education company.
A coalition of unions — the Britain-based TU Fund Managers, the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund and Unison, which is one of the largest trade unions in Britain — along with 130 individuals had offered a resolution demanding that Pearson “conduct a thorough business strategy review of Pearson PLC, including education commercialization and its support of high-stakes testing and low-fee private schools and to report to shareholders within six months.” It sought an end to what they say is Pearson’s “over-reliance” on educational testing in the United States as well as to the company’s growing business of opening and operating private schools in the developing world. (Read the resolution here.)...

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2016/04/30/pearson-rejects-call-by-unions-to-change-its-test-centric-business-strategy/?postshare=2421462035148630&tid=ss_fb

MCCPTA Panel Presentation on School Computers Health, Safety and Privacy May 12 at 7 pm: Health and Safety Committee

Calling all MCPS parents!!! 
Join us for a panel presentation Classroom Technology and Your Child: Health, Safety, and Privacy “                  
 Join us for a discussion of the opportunities and challenges as MCPS integrates technology into the classroom. Share your insights and concerns.The discussion will be followed by Q&As to understand the different aspects of  the use of electronic devices in the classroom. Feel free to share and invite others in the community. We need your input and look forward to seeing you there!
MCCPTA Health and Safety Committee
invites you to...


Classroom Technology and Your Child
Health, Safety, and Privacy



May 12, 2016 at 7:00 pm
Carver Educational Services Center
850 Hungerford Drive
Rockville, MD

A panel presentation followed by your comments and questions.
Join us for a discussion of the opportunities and challenges as MCPS integrates technology into the classroom!

We look forward to hearing from you at the forum.
Brought to you by MCCPTA Health and Safety Committee