Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Education publisher Pearson reports biggest loss in its history #jerryweast #pearsonforward #pearson #nobid

Pearson has reported a pre-tax loss of £2.6bn for 2016, the biggest in its history, after a slump at its US education operation.
The world’s largest education publisher, which in January saw almost £2bn wiped from its stock market value after issuing its fifth profit warning in two years, reported the record loss after taking a £2.55bn non-cash charge for “impairment of goodwill reflecting trading pressures” in its North American businesses...

...The profit warning was prompted by the collapse of its US higher education business, which is struggling with a decline in textbook sales and the transition to digital learning. The US business accounts for two-thirds of Pearson’s revenues and profits...


Monday, February 27, 2017

Parents Testify Against Cell Towers on Elementary School

HB 866: Maryland State Bill To Develop Medical Safety Guidelines For Digital Device Use In Schools

HB 866 Testimony

Maryland Children's Environmental Health and Protection Advisory Council adopted a report on WiFi Radiation in Schools in Maryland

Children’s Environmental Health
Children's Environmental Health and Protection Advisory Council
Established by the General Assembly in 2000, the purpose Children's Environmental Health and Protection Advisory Council (CEHPAC)  is to identify environmental hazards that may affect children's health and recommend solutions to those hazards.
CEHPAC reviews existing and proposed regulations and servea as a source of information and education for the public, professionals, State agencies, the General Assembly and the Governor regarding environmental hazards.


Board of Education Opposed to Screen Safety, Claims Fed Regulates Screen Time, Do Not Want Medical Oversight

The Montgomery County Board of Education is opposed to legislation that would authorize the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to develop safety guidelines for the use of computer screens in public school classrooms. 

The Montgomery County Board of Education "thinks" that the federal government has already regulated the use of computer screens in classrooms.  If such regulations exist, they apparently permit unlimited screen time for students of all ages while in school

The question remains if unlimited screen time for students of all ages while they are in public school is in the best interest of the long term health of those children. 

The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood disagrees with the position of the Montgomery County Board of Education and calls for passage of House Bill 866.

Friday, February 24, 2017

MCPS: bringing Woodward High back online will not solve overcrowding problems

Study Group To Look at Using Woodward High To Deal With Capacity Crunch at Eight Schools: Group will also brainstorm about moving alternative programs into nontraditional spaces

Schools could hold class on Presidents’ Day, Easter Monday under Maryland bill

Closing schools for Presidents’ Day could become optional for Maryland school districts under a bill being considered in the General Assembly.
The same could happen to Easter Monday.
Concerned about Gov. Larry Hogan’s 2016 executive order requiring the state’s 24 school districts to start classes after Labor Day and end by June 15, several state lawmakers want to give local jurisdictions flexibility by removing Presidents’ Day and Easter Monday from the state’s list of mandatory public school holidays.
“These couple of days would be important to the school schedule,” said Del. Pamela G. Beidle (D-Anne Arundel), the chief sponsor of the bill...


Thursday, February 23, 2017

Kids and the computer screen – where do we draw the line?

Kids and the computer screen – where do we draw the line?: Many children will receive a digital device as a gift but what are the risks of overusing them and where do parents need to draw the line?

Action Alert: Important bill to protect Maryland students from excessive screen time

Action Alert: Important bill to protect Maryland students from excessive screen time: Maryland lawmakers are prepared to be the first in the nation to act to protect school children from overuse of screen technologies. Can you contact the House Ways and Means Committee today to vo

Feb. 24th: MD House Ways and Means Committee to hear classroom digital device safety bill

Press Release
House Ways and Means Committee to hear classroom digital device safety bill

February 23, 2017

(ANNAPOLIS, MARYLAND) The House Ways and Means Committee of the Maryland General Assembly will hear legislation on Friday, February 24th at 1:00 that directs the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) to craft safety guidelines for the use of digital devices in Maryland public schools.

Delegate Steven Arentz (R-District 36) has sponsored the legislation, House Bill 866, "Primary and Secondary Education - Health and Safety Guidelines and Procedures - Digital Devices." The bill has 25 co-sponsors and broad bi-partisan support. An identical bill has been cross-filed by Senator Steve Hershey (R-District 36), co-sponsored by Senator James Brochin (D-District 42) and Senator Susan Lee (D-District 16). It has been referred to the Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee.

HB866 aims to protect Maryland students from the health hazards that medical experts have for many years associated with daily use of digital devices. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has had regulations governing the use of computers for office workers since the 1990s, but schools have no medical oversight.

"More and more experts are proving that there are serious risks to our kids' health because they spend every day on a digital device," Delegate Arentz said. "Maryland students need to get the most out of this technology, so we want medical professionals to lead us in a safe direction."

Researchers have shown that many of the same health issues addressed by OSHA are now facing students who use digital devices every day in school. Retinal damage from blue light emissions, myopia, sleeplessness, muscle and joint pain, headaches, blurred vision, obesity, anxiety and addiction have all been associated as health risks facing students because of daily digital device use.

The bill has substantial support from the state's medical community. The Maryland State Medical Society (MedChi), which represents all of Maryland's doctors, voted to support the legislation at their most recent meeting, according to Gene Ransom, MedChi's Executive Director. One of the co-sponsors, Delegate Clarence Lam, is a physician who leads Johns Hopkins University's preventative medicine residency program.

Believed to be the first of its kind, the Maryland bill also has the attention of several large health groups across the country. The nation's leading vision health organization, Prevent Blindness, supports the Maryland bill. Senior Vice President Jeff Todd wrote a letter commending Maryland's "efforts to ensure children’s vision, eye health and safety is at the forefront of any statewide effort related to childhood development."

Optometrists from around the country have also sent support to the General Assembly urging passage of this legislation, including J. Scott Sikes, O.D., a NC Optometric Society Education Trustee and Dr. Geoffrey Goodfellow, OD, FAAO, an Associate Professor at the Illinois College of Optometry and an attending optometrist in the Pediatrics/Binocular Vision Service of the Illinois Eye Institute.

“Protecting eyesight when it comes to the progressive use of digital technology and screen time addiction in young people is our number one priority” said Justin Barrett, CEO of Healthe, a company that creates products "to reduce exposure to harmful digital UV and High-Energy Visible (HEV) blue light emitted from such devices." "We hope the lawmakers will pass this important legislation to set a precedent for other states in the protection of all students."

Dr. Nicholas Kardaras, PhD, LCSW-R, a nationally recognized addiction expert and author of Glow Kids: How Screen Addiction Is Hijacking Our Kids, writes: "I commend the screen safety effort in Maryland and strongly encourage the General Assembly to pass HB 866 and SB 1089 to mandate medically sound classroom regulations."

Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC) is a national advocacy organization with nearly 50,000 members, including 1,000 in Maryland. The group has asked Maryland lawmakers to give HB866 their "complete endorsement." In a letter to the Ways and Means Committee, CCFC Executive Director, Josh Golin, writes, "It is critical that medical professionals develop clear, research-based, age-appropriate guidelines for the use of digital devices in schools."

Citing its 30-page research document released in August, Parents Across America (PAA) is another national advocacy group endorsing HB866/SB1089. PAA notes that it "has prepared extensive materials about the harmful effects on children's academic, intellectual, emotional, physical and social development when digital devices are misused and overused... We applaud the Maryland lawmakers who have responded quickly and appropriately to this critical situation."

Maryland parents have rallied to support the classroom screen safety bill as well. Leslie Weber, Co-Founder of Advocates for Baltimore County Schools (ABCSchools), the largest public education advocacy coalition in the county, says, "This bill is greatly needed, especially in Baltimore County, where one of the nation's largest 1:1 digital initiatives is underway. Children as young as 5 are in front of screens most days -- objective guidelines from the DHMH are needed to ensure the safety of these students."

Janis Sartucci, a member of the Parents' Coalition of Montgomery County, said, "This bill is long overdue. Our children need to be protected from a variety of health risks that could affect them for a lifetime. We must get DHMH involved to be sure kids aren't hurt."

Queen Anne's County parent, Cindy Eckard, has testified and written extensively about the need for medical oversight of classroom digital devices. Her Op Eds have appeared in both the Washington Post and the Baltimore Sun. During a recent radio interview Ms. Eckard told WBAL Radio reporter Robert Lang, "Of course we want our kids to master technology; we just don't want them harmed in the process."

Ms. Eckard also noted that teachers have a legal duty of care to protect students from known hazards in the classroom. "This bill will help teachers too, giving them statewide, uniform safety guidelines, from medical professionals and specialists at DHMH."

Links to medical research; recorded General Assembly testimony; a screen safety press conference held in Annapolis with actress/comedian Paula Poundstone, and detailed information regarding the legislation are available on the website www.screensandkids.us or email Ms. Eckard at screensandkids@gmail.com.


Baltimore Co. Parents: "Children as young as 5 are in front of screens most days"

From: Leslie Weber
Sent: Thursday, February 23, 2017 12:24 AM
To: 'anne.kaiser@house.state.md.us' <anne.kaiser@house.state.md.us>; 'frank.turner@house.state.md.us' <frank.turner@house.state.md.us>; 'kathy.afzali@house.state.md.us' <kathy.afzali@house.state.md.us>; 'bilal.ali@house.state.md.us' <bilal.ali@house.state.md.us>; 'Darryl.Barnes@house.state.md.us' <Darryl.Barnes@house.state.md.us>; 'Jason.Buckel@house.state.md.us' <Jason.Buckel@house.state.md.us>; 'Eric.Ebersole@house.state.md.us' <Eric.Ebersole@house.state.md.us>; 'sheila.hixson@house.state.md.us' <sheila.hixson@house.state.md.us>; 'Kevin.Hornberger@house.state.md.us' <Kevin.Hornberger@house.state.md.us>; 'carolyn.howard@house.state.md.us' <carolyn.howard@house.state.md.us>; 'Bob.Long@house.state.md.us' <Bob.Long@house.state.md.us>; 'eric.luedtke@house.state.md.us' <eric.luedtke@house.state.md.us>; 'nick.mosby@house.state.md.us' <nick.mosby@house.state.md.us>; 'Edith.Patterson@house.state.md.us' <Edith.Patterson@house.state.md.us>; 'Teresa.Reilly@house.state.md.us' <Teresa.Reilly@house.state.md.us>; 'April.Rose@house.state.md.us' <April.Rose@house.state.md.us>; 'Haven.Shoemaker@house.state.md.us' <Haven.Shoemaker@house.state.md.us>; 'Meagan.Simonaire@house.state.md.us' <Meagan.Simonaire@house.state.md.us>; 'Jimmy.Tarlau@house.state.md.us' <Jimmy.Tarlau@house.state.md.us>; 'jay.walker@house.state.md.us' <jay.walker@house.state.md.us>; 'mary.washington@house.state.md.us' <mary.washington@house.state.md.us>; 'alonzo.washington@house.state.md.us' <alonzo.washington@house.state.md.us>; 'jh' <jheanelle.wilkins@house.state.md.us>
Cc: 'steven.arentz@house.state.md.us' <steven.arentz@house.state.md.us>; 'Screens and Kids' <screensandkids@gmail.com>
Subject: Letter of Support for HB866/SB1089 from Advocates for Baltimore County Schools

Dear Chairperson Kaiser, Vice Chairperson Turner, and Members of the House Ways and Means Committee,

Advocates for Baltimore County Schools (ABCSchools), the largest public education advocacy coalition in Baltimore County, urges you to support HB866/SB1089, Primary and Secondary Education - Health and Safety Guidelines and Procedures - Digital Devices. These bills call for the development of objective computer health and safety guidelines for Maryland schools. Such guidelines are needed throughout the state, but are especially needed in our County where one of the nation’s largest 1:1 digital initiatives is underway.  Children as young as 5 are in front of screens most days -- guidance from the DHMH is needed to protect our students from well-documented potential impacts on the musculoskeletal system, vision, sleep, cognitive development, and social-emotional development.

Thank you for your kind attention.

Leslie Weber
Advocates for Baltimore County Schools ~ ABCSchools

Gaithersburg Parent: "rolling out technology in our schools must be done with health and safety oversight" @DelegateKaiser @SenatorZucker @CherylKagan @JheanelleW @delsheilahixson @EricLuedtke

From: Lisa Cline
Date: Wed, Feb 15, 2017
Subject: HB866 is Overdue.
To: steven.arentz@house.state.md.us
Cc: anne.kaiser@house.state.md.us, frank.turner@house.state.md.us, kathy.afzali@house.state.md.us,
 bilal.ali@house.state.md.us, Darryl.Barnes@house.state.md.us, Jason.Buckel@house.state.md.us, 
 Eric.Ebersole@house.state.md.us, sheila.hixson@house.state.md.us, 
 Kevin.Hornberger@house.state.md.us, carolyn.howard@house.state.md.us,
 Bob.Long@house.state.md.us, eric.luedtke@house.state.md.us, 
 nick.mosby@house.state.md.us, Edith.Patterson@house.state.md.us, 
 Teresa.Reilly@house.state.md.us, April.Rose@house.state.md.us, 
 Haven.Shoemaker@house.state.md.us, Meagan.Simonaire@house.state.md.us, 
 Jimmy.Tarlau@house.state.md.us, jay.walker@house.state.md.us, 
 mary.washington@house.state.md.us, alonzo.washington@house.state.md.us, 

Dear Delegate Arentz,

Too many of us do not fully understand how legislation becomes law and what you do in Annapolis during each a session. I am no different, but I would hate for intimidation to get in the way of expressing my deep passion for passing HB866

As a parent and PTA president in Montgomery County and an active advocate for shielding children from a.) things they cannot see (like wifi radiation and blue light), and b.) things they should not have to understand at such a young age, HB866 will change everything for our children during the 6+ hours they "live" at school.

The beauty of HB866 is there is nothing objectionable in it. There is no downside. 

Computers are arguably very valuable 21st Century learning tools, particularly for those who need an extra push to engage in the learning process. But rolling out technology in our schools must be done with health and safety oversight. Montgomery County Public Schools, for one, lacks that overseeing body. 

I have met with Mr. Sherwin Collette, Chief Technology Officer at MCPS. I have spoken with Dr. Andy Zuckerman, Chief Operating Officer at MCPS. I have asked officials within County government.... "Who is making sure these computers aren't hurting the kids?" I have yet to find a person, or an admission, that our childrens' health is being protected from the ill effects of computer use. Meanwhile, radon is being measured and mitigated, and pesticide use is being fully disclosed and carefully deployed. 

The known dangers.

There are over 400 peer-reviewed studies that say RF radiation — the kind emitted from laptop computers and overhead routers — causes everything from nausea and headaches to DNA damage and cancer.

Our daughter died of cancer. After her death, I was asked to participate in a study out of the University of Minnesota that analyzed environmental factors surrounding pediatric leukemia cases. It was then that I realized just how many invisible pollutants swirl around our children and how much more vulnerable a population they are than adults. RF radiation is a definite culprit.

The effects of blue light on our childens' eye health is even more conclusive. Retinal damage is inevitable without proper protection. Blue light filters cost about $20. Why wouldn't we outfit all the Chromebooks with these safety mechanisms?

Digital addiction is an undeniable reality that is befalling the Computer Generation. Device use affects the brain much like cocaine. Any parent of teenagers will tell you how real this is. And the research is deep.

Now what?

I don't blame anyone for the severe lack of "tech health" being taught in our schools. It's all so new. But now is the time to complement the technology roll-out with safety measures to go with it. 

Please pass HB866 for the kids who are counting on us, and the parents who are counting on you.

Very kindly,

Lisa Cline
Gaithersburg, Maryland

Driving high: MCPS students speak out

It’s 11:30 p.m. Students emerge from the darkness of the Whitman parking lot and head toward their car.  Less than an hour ago, everyone in the car, including the driver, took several hits from a bong. Despite their daze, the kids pile into the car, and the driver pulls out into the neighborhood.
This isn’t an uncommon tale for Whitman students. Many students admit to driving while high on marijuana—and a lot of them said they believe it poses almost no risk.
“I didn’t really notice much of a difference,” a senior said. “I was still able to concentrate, and I didn’t really notice it until I got home that I was that high.”...

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Campaign for Commercial-Free Childhood: "It is critical that medical professionals develop clear, research-based, age-appropriate guidelines for the use of digital devices in schools"

School Board Gets Pushback Over Proposal To Eliminate Sibling Link

School Board Gets Pushback Over Proposal To Eliminate Sibling Link

Gov. Larry Hogan wants live video of legislative sessions

Gov. Larry Hogan wants live video of legislative sessions so badly he said he’s willing to work with lawmakers to address what he said might be their concerns over the use of salty language.

The governor called on the General Assembly to pass his bill that would require both the House and the Senate to provide live-streamed video of all floor sessions and archive those proceedings. Currently, the legislature only provides live audio streams of sessions, though bill hearings in committees are video and audio.


Kardaras, who treats screen addictions, said they can be harder than beating a drug addiction, because unlike drugs or alcohol it's virtually impossible not to engage.

The Canadian Pediatric Society discourages screen-based activities for children under two.
Dr. Grant MacDougall said three hours a day is too much for little kids.
Addictions expert Nicholas Kardaras said parents should wait until kids are at least 10 to expose them to portable screen time.
Kardaras, who treats screen addictions, said they can be harder than beating a drug addiction, because unlike drugs or alcohol it's virtually impossible not to engage.

Warnings about the dangers of excessive screen time on children's brains development

MD Sex Offenders Should Not Be Allowed to Expunge Their Records! @Willcsmithjr

Contact Your Legislators

SUPPORT SB 774 - Criminal Procedure - Petition for Expungement to be heard in March 2, 2017 in the Judicial Proceedings Committee

Sex Offenders Should Not Be Allowed to Expunge Their Records

A last minute amendment grafted onto the Justice Reinvestment Act (JRA) enacted in 2016, scheduled to take effect on October 1, 2017, would have serious negative consequences for the safety and well being of Maryland’s children, as well other vulnerable populations. Prior to JRA, the only convictions eligible for expungement were convictions for a few specified public nuisance crimes, such as loitering and vagrancy.  The JRA, however, as a result of the amendment, now includes a provision that , according to the Daily Record, “would dramatically expand the number of crimes eligible for expungement” to at least one hundred and thirteen crimes -- three times more if attempted crimes, conspiracy or solicitation for each offense is counted.  Little, if any, attention was given at the time to the public safety implications of certain specific crimes permitted to be expunged or the impact of these expungements on criminal history records checks used to screen those who work with or have access to children, the elderly and those with disabilities.  It should be noted that in its consensus report, the Justice Reinvestment Coordinating Council never recommended any expungements.  

SB 774 (http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/2017RS/bills/sb/sb0774f.pdf) would exempt from expungement convictions for second degree assault when the victim of the offense was disabled, a vulnerable adult, or a minor.  In addition, it would preclude the expungement of convictions under section 11-306a of the Criminal Law Article which involve the prostitution of children. The bill lists all the crimes to be expunged after ten years by section number without the name of the crime .    

Second-degree assault, section 3-203 0f the Criminal Law Article, a crime against a person, is deemed to be a violent crime in a list in one section of Maryland law.  It is important to know that a conviction for second degree assault against anyone is in and of itself is troubling.  It is especially troubling if an individual committed the crime against a vulnerable person or a child.  Most disturbing is that second degree assault, a nonsexual crime, it is all too often a plea bargain down from a serious sexual crime.  These plea bargains allow sex offenders to avoid registration.

To illustrate,  a Montgomery County elementary school teacher pleaded guilty to four counts of second degree assault after originally being charged with 11 felony counts of child sexual abuse.   Ultimately, he did not have to register as a sex offender or serve jail time. (WJLA.com December  2, 2013- Tim Krupica pleads guilty to assault, has sentence suspended)

To obliterate all records regarding a sex offender’s conviction for second degree assault, including underlying sexual assault/abuse charges, allows the sex offender to completely obscure his record and, thus, precludes the ability of schools, day care centers, and camps, nursing homes and nonprofits who serve the disabled,  etc. from adequately screening individuals who apply for these sensitive positions.  The state of Maryland has an obligation, first and foremost, to protect those who cannot protect themselves, not destroy the records of those who pose a danger to them .

Thank you for your efforts on behalf of Maryland Children.  If you have any questions,  please contact Ellen Mugmon  ellen.mugmon@gmail.com

Please contact committee members with the message that they should SUPPORT SB 774 - Criminal Procedure - Petition for Expungement.

Baltimore County
Robert A. (Bobby) Zirkin, Chair (D-11)
James Brochin (D-42)
Delores G. Kelley, Vice Chair (D-10)
Carroll County
Justin D. Ready (R-5)
Carroll & Frederick Counties
Michael J. Hough (R-4)
Cecil & Harford Counties
Wayne Norman (R-35)
Harford County
Robert G. Cassilly (R-34)

Montgomery County
Susan C. Lee (D-16)

William C. (Will) Smith, Jr. (D-20)

Prince George's County
C. Anthony Muse (D-26)
Victor R. Ramirez (D-47)