Tuesday, September 2, 2014

"...many of us have lost trust in the administration because of the way business has been handled..."

 ...A good example are the particulars involved in the digital conversion and 24-hour learning via personal technology devices. While there is certainly an upside to this vision, there are significant downsides that have never been discussed, such as data mining.
What company is capturing and storing our children's data and for how long? Is it shared? How are the children's activities tracked and how will such information impact their academic future? Above all, what about their privacy rights?
Another issue is the forced reliance on even more technology when many parents are consciously limiting screen time in favor of their children building relationships and participating in the community. Was this ever even considered? It all happened way too fast, without regard for the unintended consequences of such a massive overhaul of the way our children will be learning...

Read more: http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/bs-ed-dallas-dance-20140829,0,2890508.story#ixzz3C7HIDRIK

Joynes' Last Principal Out of MCPS Prior to Start of Trials

Chronology of events: 

  Marinda Thomas Evans appointed as New Hampshire Estates principal May 24, 2010.
 ...Marinda Thomas Evans, principal of New Hampshire Estates Elementary School, said Friday parents were alerted about the arrest via the school’s ConnectEd phone message system on Thursday night. She said an additional letter is expected to go home with students recapping the incident.
“We have no reason to believe that” any Montgomery County students were involved in the pornography images, she told The Gazette Friday...    Gazette, March 1, 2013
 Two years ago, Herrera scheduled a meeting with New Hampshire Estates' principal to address mounting concerns of questionable language, lectures and touching; valid issues she contends, that fell on deaf ears.
"The principal never did nothing. 'Oh he's weird, he's weird,' they'd say, and that was it," Herrera added.
Although Joynes' was disciplined in November 2011, school leaders neglected to inform parents or police.ABC7, February 8, 2014
...Marinda Thomas Evans, who became the New Hampshire Estates principal three years ago, was at the meeting, but Mills did most of the talking. School officials said later that Evans was not available for comment.
“I assure you that when I have the evidence and the pattern, I move it to the next level,” Mills said at the meeting...
The Washington Post, April 21, 2013

On 11-18-2011... New Hampshire Estates Elementary School (NHE) principal placed conditions upon Joynes that included, activities only in public areas, classroom door to remain open during instruction, stay off playground during recess, no sitting at the cafeteria with students, use of staff restrooms only, don't be alone with any student in classroom, and no touching of students in any form.       

(Baltimore Co.)

Lawrence Joynes remained in the classroom at New Hampshire Estates Elementary School until he was arrested by Homeland Security in Baltimore County on February 28, 2013.  Since that arrest Mr. Joynes has been held continuously in jail in Baltimore County and Montgomery County.  Mr. Joynes has two upcoming trials in Montgomery County. 

Monday, September 1, 2014

Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett and others have questioned why the school system’s operating budget has not been posted to the site

Montgomery school officials mulling county budget website use

Labor Day!

A big thank you and shoutout to all our hard-working friends and family! And thanks to our grandparents and great-grandparents who fought like hell for the 8-hour day, and the safe working environment we have today.

MCPS Middle School Initiates Bring Your Own Device Policy #byod

Dear XXXXX Parents, ...In addition, I would like to say a word about the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) permission slip I sent home this week-end in terms of its context. Based on teachers' experiences with computer lab access at XXXXX [MCPS MIDDLE SCHOOL] last year, I anticipate the need to make alternate arrangements for technology use over the coming year. Last semester, out of 90 instructional days, teachers had access to computer labs in the school for approximately 14 days. This was due to MAP-R and MAP-M as well as other computerized testing that occured for all three grade levels several times throughout the semester. This year, as we replace the Maryland State Assessment (a paper test) with the PARCC assessments (also computer-based), I anticipate that computer access for instructional purposes may be even further restricted. While we do have a mobile lab at the school, it is old and not always reliable. Therefore, I am asking that students bring their own laptops, etc... to XXXXX class on an as-needed basis which will be announced in advance. The alternative to this is that the students can use the old-fashioned method of writing drafts long-hand and then typing them up at home later, but it seems more efficient to allow students to work on their own equipment if they are able to... Sincerely,  XXXXX MCPS teacherXXXXX Middle School

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Montgomery Co. Public Schools: 3 confirmed, 9 suspected cases of whooping cough among students | WJLA.com

Montgomery Co. Public Schools: 3 confirmed, 9 suspected cases of whooping cough among students | WJLA.com

Two Months After June Primary, The Financial Returns Are In

Several Democratic candidates pursuing nominations for state legislature in the June primary poured in hefty amounts of their personal assets in the closing days of the campaign – but nevertheless fell short, according to reports filed this week with the state Board of Elections.
The reports, which were due Tuesday, cover a period from June 9 through beginning of last week -- and are largely intended to outline the financial status of campaigns as the general election gets underway. But, given the dearth of competitive contests for state legislature and local office in Montgomery County this fall, the reports are notable mainly for their disclosures covering activity in the final weeks prior to the June 24 primary.
The list of top self-funders includes:

Saturday, August 30, 2014

The Daily Record: Election watchdog raises alarm over duplicate voter registrations

Elections Integrity Maryland has identified 43,983 voters who were registered in Virginia and Maryland, some of whom voted in both states in 2012.

Read more: http://thedailyrecord.com/2014/08/27/election-watchdog-raises-alarm-over-duplicate-voter-registrations/#ixzz3BnZq0frW

and more coverage at this link...

Watchdog.org:  14,646 duplicate voters flagged in Fairfax, Maryland

Friday, August 29, 2014

Thousands miss deadline for Montgomery immunization records


About 12 Montgomery students have confirmed or suspected whooping cough Enrolled at Rockville, Potomac schools

From The Gazette, reporter Lindsay Powers:

As many as a dozen students at four Montgomery County schools have been confirmed or are suspected to have pertussis, also known as whooping cough, county officials said.

The students are enrolled at Julius West, Cabin John and Robert Frost middle schools and Cold Spring Elementary School, said Dana Tofig, a spokesman for Montgomery County Public Schools.

“It is believed that all of the cases are related to students who attended the same summer camp where they were exposed to pertussis,” Tofig said in an email Friday.

To read the whole story go here.

Ride On officials investigate potential student passenger privacy breach | WJLA.com

Ride On officials investigate potential passenger privacy breach | WJLA.com

CCPS is launching a new entry system at all schools, centers and buildings this school year

From Charles County Board of Education member Jennifer Abell's blog:

Charles County Public Schools is launching a new entry system at all schools, centers and buildings this school year that changes how visitors, students and staff enter the facility. The system is intercom and video-based and is being programmed to match the bell schedules at each individual school. Most schools will begin use of the system when schools open on Monday, Aug. 25.
Based on the school bell schedule, doors will be locked automatically when the first period bell rings. Outside visitors will then be required to use the intercom system to speak to the main office staff. An intercom button and camera are located at the main entrance of all schools, and office staff will use the touchscreen video equipment to respond to requests for entry during the school day. Visitors will need to use the intercom box to notify main office staff of their arrival to the school before staff will unlock the doors for entry. The system does not lock or unlock any interior doors in schools, including classroom doors, but controls specified access areas to the main building.
Staff members will receive access badges to use during the school day when the system is active. Additionally, schools will also have access badges to use as student hall passes for restroom purposes, for travel to and from the school building to trailer classroom areas and for use at any time during the bell schedule when the system is active...

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Breaking News: PG NAACP President Calls for Halt to PGCPS Cell Tower Deal

Bob Ross (Linkedin)
Prince George's County NAACP President Bob Ross spoke to the Prince George's County Board of Education at their August 28, 2014, meeting about their deal to place at least 73 cell towers on public school property. 

Mr. Ross calls for the Prince George's County Board of Education to hold off on the building of any more cell towers until the issue can be given further study. Mr. Ross also speaks to forming a coalition of other NAACP branches (Montgomery, Anne Arundel and Howard) to further review the issues surrounding the placement of cell towers on public school playgrounds. 

Please note the webcast video and audio are not aligned. If we can obtain a better copy of this statement we will post it. 

Capital Gazette: Cell tower proposal a risky move

Cell tower proposal a risky move

Teacher Lawrence Joynes Child Pornography Trial Set for March 2, 2015

08/20/2014 Docket Number: 55
Docket Description:ORDER, POSTPONE
Docket Type:Docket Filed By: Court

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

NPR: Investigation by member station KPCC, which obtained emails between Deasy and tech executives that bring into question whether the initial bidding process was fair. #JohnDeasy #Pearson #Apple #Ipads

"...Pearson software wasn't ready..." 
Deasy "not uncommon to meet with" vendors prior to competition...

NPR:  The LA School iPad Scandal: What You Need To Know

A massive expansion of classroom technology has come to a grinding halt in Los Angeles.
The L.A. Unified School District had planned to buy some 700,000 iPads for its students and teachers. The Apple tablets would include learning software built by publishing giant Pearson. But Superintendent John Deasy announced earlier this week he is cancelling the contract and restarting the bidding process.
The decision comes on the heels of an investigation by member station KPCC, which obtained emails between Deasy and tech executives that bring into question whether the initial bidding process was fair. First, some context...
The goal of the expansion was simple yet ambitious: to equip every student in the nation's second-largest school district with a tablet computer. The expected price tag for equipment, software and wi-fi upgrades to schools: $1.3 billion...
...Then came the emails.
"Looking forward to further work together for our youth in Los Angeles!" Deasy wrote to Marjorie Scardino, then Pearson's CEO, on Tuesday, May 22, 2012, after hearing an initial pitch over lunch.
"Dear John, It's I who should thank you," Scardino replied. "I really can't wait to work with you."
KPCC reports these notes were going back and forth long before the tech contract was ultimately opened for competitive bidding:
KPCC's investigation found Deasy and his deputies communicated with Pearson employees over pricing, teacher training and technical support — specifications that later resembled the district's request for proposals from vendors. Pearson and Apple emerged as the winning bidders and were awarded the now-abandoned contract in June 2013...

Branson Gets MCPS to Release High School Budget and Staffing Data!

Congratulations to Councilmember Cherri Branson! 

She has pushed MCPS to release high school budget, program, and staffing information.  See pages 3 and 4 of the document below.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Letter from Office of State Prosecutor

There are still over 1,400 other MCPS credit cards floating around.

State Prosecutor Closes Investigation into School-Issued Credit Cards - Bethesda Beat

State Prosecutor Closes Investigation into School-Issued Credit Cards - Bethesda Beat

State prosecutor: No ‘criminal misconduct’ in use of Montgomery school board credit cards

 The Maryland Office of the State Prosecutor closed its investigation into Montgomery County school board members’ use of school system credit cards after the office subpoenaed board expense records in June.

Note: The Board of Education has not eliminated any of their $158,477 expense account. 
The party will continue, just without the use of personal MCPS credit cards. 

It's Time to Put an End to No Bid Purchases and Excessive Dues from BOE Club! No More MABE!

2013 MABE Conference in Ocean City (MABE)
Another day and another MABE "partner".

No thanks MABE! 

What is MABE?

MABE is the Maryland Association of Boards of Education.  It is a private club that taxpayers fund. Each Board of Education in the State of Maryland belongs to MABE with the notable exception of the Maryland State Board of Education who dropped out of the club in 2012.

Each Board of Education uses tax dollars to pay their MABE dues.
What do dues cost?
Here is what MCPS' Board of Education has paid into this private club over the last 6 years.

FY 2015  $66,354
FY 2014  $68,401
FY 2013  $41,986
FY 2012  $48,062
FY 2011  $47,017
FY 2010  $47,602

MABE 2013 Conference in Ocean City (MABE)

In recent years MABE has been "partnering" with companies that have things to "sell" to Boards of Education.


Each year MABE holds a conference in Ocean City and on top of the dues above, tax payers fund the OC Party! (Click link for PICTURES from 2013 junket.)

While at the conference MABE "partners" have unrestricted access to BOE members.  Parents? You aren't there and don't have a voice in these procurement decisions.  

Milestone Communications
at MABE 2013 (MABE)
How is this impacting Maryland public school systems?  MABE partnered with Milestone Communications in 2011 and now 9 Boards of Education in the State of Maryland have turned over their public school playgrounds for commercial development.  Bids? Public Notice? Public discussion?

Below is MABE's latest announcement of a "partner."  Besides Milestone Communications, MABE has also partnered with BoardDocs and you will notice that MCPS suddenly is using the BoardDocs product to post their BOE meeting agendas and minutes.  Did we all miss the bids for this procurement?
What is this MABE "partner" costing taxpayers?

MABE is diverting precious public school education dollars away from classrooms through unnecessary dues, countless conventions and meetings, and by the circumvention of the public bidding process.

It's time to just say NO to MABE! 

MABE Ocean City Conference 2013 (MABE) 

Here are Superintendent Joshua Starr's charges at the MABE Ocean City event last year

Remember the lavish meal in Ocean City charged on a MCPS credit card? That took place during the MABE convention.

Here is the newest MABE "partner."

Monday, August 25, 2014

FTC To the Rescue

If you think that MCPS and its various computer software and hardware vendors may not value your MoCo student's privacy interest, fear not.

FTC  - the Federal Trade Commission - may provide relief.


From the press release:
Under the rule, online sites and services directed at children must obtain permission from a child’s parents before collecting personal information from that child. The rule lays out a number of acceptable methods for gaining parental consent, but also includes a provision allowing interested parties to submit new verifiable parental consent methods to the Commission for approval.
In a Federal Register notice to be published shortly, the FTC is seeking public comment about the proposed AgeCheq verifiable parental consent method; whether the proposed method is already covered by the existing methods included in the rule and whether it meets the rule’s requirement that it be reasonably calculated to ensure that the person providing the consent is actually the child’s parent. The Commission also seeks comment on whether the program poses a risk to consumers’ information and whether that risk is outweighed by the benefits of the program. The comment period will last until Sept. 30, 2014. 

If you  have an opinion, let the FTC know before September 30. Remember, once your child's privacy is compromised, who knows what the consequences will be. 

MCPS Public Information Officer: "Some of these students may be facing issues that might be beyond what we can handle," #steak #lobster #mabe #expenseaccounts

BOE Fine Dining
$2.3 billion and MCPS can't handle counseling for students? Maybe the BOE should cut out the lobster and steak dinners at their Ocean City conventions? 
Next BOE junket to Ocean City is October 1, 2014. While the BOE cut up credit cards for the media, they have still maintained their $96,000 expense account. 

The Baltimore Sun: 
...Montgomery County public schools have taken in 985 students from the region in the past year, 107 of whom are without a parent or relative in the country. As they register the children, school officials in Montgomery try to ensure that the students are healthy and have access to a health clinic, said Dana Tofig, a school system spokesman. Montgomery County, like other school systems, is not equipped to handle intensive counseling, and Tofig said the system is turning to nonprofits for help in meeting those needs.
"Some of these students may be facing issues that might be beyond what we can handle," he said. "We are going to provide the services that kids need. Having more students who come needing more services, that does have a financial impact."...

Read more: http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/education/bs-md-immigrant-students-20140824,0,530122.story#ixzz3BQAEn1RU

High Schools, Middle Schools Should Begin Day No Earlier Than 8:30 a.m., American Academy of Pediatrics Says

Wheaton HS will have Cell Tower within a few feet of School #nobrainer

The Parents' Coalition has had questions about the location of the Wheaton High School cell tower now that the school is being modernized.  The cell tower used to be on the football field, but with the new design the cell tower will be smack up against the school building and next to a student courtyard.

The architect's rendering of this structure is not quite accurate.  See what the cell tower actually looks like below. 


Here is what the Wheaton High School cell tower actually looks like now.

Wheaton High School cell tower