Category Archives: “Ashes to ashes”

Public education is facing a crisis of epic proportions

Students at the Bergen Community College commencement in May 2018. (Seth Wenig/AP)

Via Washington Post: By Laura Meckler – Test scores are down, and violence is up. Parents are screaming at school boards, and children are crying on the couches of social workers. Anger is rising. Patience is falling.

For public schools, the numbers are all going in the wrong direction. Enrollment is down. Absenteeism is up. There aren’t enough teachers, substitutes or bus drivers. Each phase of the pandemic brings new logistics to manage, and Republicans are planning political campaigns this year aimed squarely at failings of public schools.

Public education is facing a crisis unlike anything in decades, and it reaches into almost everything that educators do: from teaching math, to counseling anxious children, to managing the building.

Political battles are now a central feature of education, leaving school boards, educators and students in the crosshairs of culture warriors. Schools are on the defensive about their pandemic decision-making, their curriculums, their policies regarding race and racial equity and even the contents of their libraries. Republicans — who see education as a winning political issue — are pressing their case for more “parental control,” or the right to second-guess educators’ choices. Meanwhile, an energized school choice movement has capitalized on the pandemic to promote alternatives to traditional public schools.

“The temperature is way up to a boiling point,” said Nat Malkus, senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative-leaning think tank. “If it isn’t a crisis now, you never get to crisis.”

Experts reach for comparisons. The best they can find is the earthquake following Brown v. Board of Education, when the Supreme Court ordered districts to desegregate and White parents fled from their cities’ schools. That was decades ago.

Today, the cascading problems are felt acutely by the administrators, teachers and students who walk the hallways of public schools across the country. Many say they feel unprecedented levels of stress in their daily lives.

Remote learning, the toll of illness and death, and disruptions to a dependable routine have left students academically behind — particularly students of color and those from poor families. Behavior problems ranging from inability to focus in class all the way to deadly gun violence have gripped campuses. Many students and teachers say they are emotionally drained, and experts predict schools will be struggling with the fallout for years to come.

Teresa Rennie, an eighth-grade math and science teacher in Philadelphia, said in 11 years of teaching, she has never referred this many children to counseling.

“So many students are needy. They have deficits academically. They have deficits socially,” she said. Rennie said that she’s drained, too. “I get 45 minutes of a prep most days, and a lot of times during that time I’m helping a student with an assignment, or a child is crying and I need to comfort them and get them the help they need. Or there’s a problem between two students that I need to work with. There’s just not enough time.”

Many wonder: How deep is the damage?

Learning lost

At the start of the pandemic, experts predicted that students forced into remote school would pay an academic price. They were right.

“The learning losses have been significant thus far and frankly I’m worried that we haven’t stopped sinking,” said Dan Goldhaber, an education researcher at the American Institutes for Research.

Some of the best data come from the nationally administered assessment called i-Ready, which tests students three times a year in reading and math, allowing researchers to compare performance of millions of students against what would be expected absent the pandemic. It found significant declines, especially among the youngest students and particularly in math.

The low point was fall 2020, when all students were coming off a spring of chaotic, universal remote classes. By fall 2021 there were some improvements, but even then, academic performance remained below historic norms.

Take third grade, a pivotal year for learning and one that predicts success going forward. In fall 2021, 38 percent of third-graders were below grade level in reading, compared with 31 percent historically. In math, 39 percent of students were below grade level, vs. 29 percent historically.

Damage was most severe for students from the lowest-income families, who were already performing at lower levels.

A McKinsey & Co. study found schools with majority-Black populations were five months behind pre-pandemic levels, compared with majority-White schools, which were two months behind. Emma Dorn, a researcher at McKinsey, describes a “K-shaped” recovery, where kids from wealthier families are rebounding and those in low-income homes continue to decline.

“Some students are recovering and doing just fine. Other people are not,” she said. “I’m particularly worried there may be a whole cohort of students who are disengaged altogether from the education system.”

A hunt for teachers, and bus drivers

Schools, short-staffed on a good day, had little margin for error as the omicron variant of the coronavirus swept over the country this winter and sidelined many teachers. With a severe shortage of substitutes, teachers had to cover other classes during their planning periods, pushing prep work to the evenings. San Francisco schools were so strapped that the superintendent returned to the classroom on four days this school year to cover middle school math and science classes. Classes were sometimes left unmonitored or combined with others into large groups of unglorified study halls.

“The pandemic made an already dire reality even more devastating,” said Becky Pringle, president of the National Education Association, referring to the shortages.

In 2016, there were 1.06 people hired for every job listing. That figure has steadily dropped, reaching 0.59 hires for each opening last year, Bureau of Labor Statistics data show. In 2013, there were 557,320 substitute teachers, the BLS reported. In 2020, the number had fallen to 415,510. Virtually every district cites a need for more subs.

It’s led to burnout as teachers try to fill in the gaps.

“The overall feelings of teachers right now are ones of just being exhausted, beaten down and defeated, and just out of gas. Expectations have been piled on educators, even before the pandemic, but nothing is ever removed,” said Jennifer Schlicht, a high school teacher in Olathe, Kan., outside Kansas City.

Research shows the gaps in the number of available educators are most acute in areas including special education and educators who teach English language learners, as well as substitutes. And all school year, districts have been short on bus drivers, who have been doubling up routes, and forcing late school starts and sometimes cancellations for lack of transportation.

Many educators predict that fed-up teachers will probably quit, exacerbating the problem. And they say political attacks add to the burnout. Teachers are under scrutiny over lesson plans, and critics have gone after teachers unions, which for much of the pandemic demanded remote learning.

“It’s just created an environment that people don’t want to be part of anymore,” said Daniel A. Domenech, executive director of AASA, The School Superintendents Association. “People want to take care of kids, not to be accused and punished and criticized.”

Falling enrollment

Traditional public schools educate the vast majority of American children, but enrollment has fallen, a worrisome trend that could have lasting repercussions. Enrollment in traditional public schools fell to less than 49.4 million students in fall 2020, a 2.7 percent drop from a year earlier.

National data for the current school year is not yet available. But if the trend continues, that will mean less money for public schools as federal and state funding are both contingent on the number of students enrolled. For now, schools have an infusion of federal rescue money that must be spent by 2024.

Some students have shifted to private or charter schools. A rising numberespecially Black families, opted for home schooling. And many young children who should have been enrolling in kindergarten delayed school altogether. The question has been: will these students come back?

Some may not. Preliminary data for 19 states compiled by Nat Malkus, of the American Enterprise Institute, found seven states where enrollment dropped in fall 2020 and then dropped even further in 2021. His data show 12 states that saw declines in 2020 but some rebounding in 2021 — though not one of them was back to 2019 enrollment levels.

Joshua Goodman, associate professor of education and economics at Boston University, studied enrollment in Michigan schools and found high-income, White families moved to private schools to get in-person school. Far more common, though, were lower-income Black families shifting to home schooling or other remote options because they were uncomfortable with the health risks of in person.

“Schools were damned if they did, and damned if they didn’t,” Goodman said.

At the same time, charter schools, which are privately run but publicly funded, saw enrollment increase by 7 percent, or nearly 240,000 students, according to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. There’s also been a surge in home schooling. Private schools saw enrollment drop slightly in 2020-21 but then rebound this academic year, for a net growth of 1.7 percent over two years, according to the National Association of Independent Schools, which represents 1,600 U.S. schools.

Absenteeism on the rise

Even if students are enrolled, they won’t get much schooling if they don’t show up.

Last school year, the number of students who were chronically absent — meaning they have missed more than 10 percent of school days — nearly doubled from before the pandemic, according to data from a variety of states and districts studied by EveryDay Labs, a company that works with districts to improve attendance.

This school year, the numbers got even worse.

In Connecticut, for instance, the number of chronically absent students soared from 12 percent in 2019-20 to 20 percent the next year to 24 percent this year, said Emily Bailard, chief executive of the company. In Oakland, Calif., they went from 17.3 percent pre-pandemic to 19.8 percent last school year to 43 percent this year. In Pittsburgh, chronic absences stayed where they were last school year at about 25 percent, then shot up to 45 percent this year.

“We all expected that this year would look much better,” Bailard said. One explanation for the rise may be that schools did not keep careful track of remote attendance last year and the numbers understated the absences then, she said.

The numbers were the worst for the most vulnerable students. This school year in Connecticut, for instance, 24 percent of all students were chronically absent, but the figure topped 30 percent for English-learners, students with disabilities and those poor enough to qualify for free lunch. Among students experiencing homelessness, 56 percent were chronically absent.

Fights and guns

Schools are open for in-person learning almost everywhere, but students returned emotionally unsettled and unable to conform to normally accepted behavior. At its most benign, teachers are seeing kids who cannot focus in class, can’t stop looking at their phones, and can’t figure out how to interact with other students in all the normal ways. Many teachers say they seem younger than normal.

Amy Johnson, a veteran teacher in rural Randolph, Vt., said her fifth-graders had so much trouble being together that the school brought in a behavioral specialist to work with them three hours each week.

“My students are not acclimated to being in the same room together,” she said. “They don’t listen to each other. They cannot interact with each other in productive ways. When I’m teaching I might have three or five kids yelling at me all at the same time.”

That loss of interpersonal skills has also led to more fighting in hallways and after school. Teachers and principals say many incidents escalate from small disputes because students lack the habit of remaining calm. Many say the social isolation wrought during remote school left them with lower capacity to manage human conflict.

Just last week, a high-schooler in Los Angeles was accused of stabbing another student in a school hallway, police on the big island of Hawaii arrested seven students after an argument escalated into a fight, and a Baltimore County, Md., school resource officer was injured after intervening in a fight during the transition between classes.

There’s also been a steep rise in gun violence. In 2021, there were at least 42 acts of gun violence on K-12 campuses during regular hours, the most during any year since at least 1999, according to a Washington Post database. The most striking of 2021 incidents was the shooting in Oxford, Mich., that killed four. There have been already at least three shootings in 2022.

Back to school has brought guns, fighting and acting out

The Center for Homeland Defense and Security, which maintains its own database of K-12 school shootings using a different methodology, totaled nine active shooter incidents in schools in 2021, in addition to 240 other incidents of gunfire on school grounds. So far in 2022, it has recorded 12 incidents. The previous high, in 2019, was 119 total incidents.

David Riedman, lead researcher on the K-12 School Shooting Database, points to four shootings on Jan. 19 alone, including at Anacostia High School in D.C., where gunshots struck the front door of the school as a teen sprinted onto the campus, fleeing a gunman.

Seeing opportunity

Fueling the pressure on public schools is an ascendant school-choice movement that promotes taxpayer subsidies for students to attend private and religious schools, as well as publicly funded charter schools, which are privately run. Advocates of these programs have seen the public system’s woes as an excellent opportunity to push their priorities.

EdChoice, a group that promotes these programs, tallies seven states that created new school choice programs last year. Some are voucher-type programs where students take some of their tax dollars with them to private schools. Others offer tax credits for donating to nonprofit organizations, which give scholarships for school expenses. Another 15 states expanded existing programs, EdChoice says.

The troubles traditional schools have had managing the pandemic has been key to the lobbying, said Michael McShane, director of national research for EdChoice. “That is absolutely an argument that school choice advocates make, for sure.”

If those new programs wind up moving more students from public to private systems, that could further weaken traditional schools, even as they continue to educate the vast majority of students.

Kevin G. Welner, director of the National Education Policy Center at the University of Colorado, who opposes school choice programs, sees the surge of interest as the culmination of years of work to undermine public education. He is both impressed by the organization and horrified by the results.

“I wish that organizations supporting public education had the level of funding and coordination that I’ve seen in these groups dedicated to its privatization,” he said.

A final complication: Politics

Rarely has education been such a polarizing political topic.

Republicans, fresh off Glenn Youngkin’s victory in the Virginia governor’s race, have concluded that key to victory is a push for parental control and “parents rights.” That’s a nod to two separate topics.

First, they are capitalizing on parent frustrations over pandemic policies, including school closures and mandatory mask policies. The mask debate, which raged at the start of the school year, got new life this month after Youngkin ordered Virginia schools to allow students to attend without face coverings.

The notion of parental control also extends to race, and objections over how American history is taught. Many Republicans also object to school districts’ work aimed at racial equity in their systems, a basket of policies they have dubbed critical race theory. Critics have balked at changes in admissions to elite school in the name of racial diversity, as was done in Fairfax, Va., and San Francisco; discussion of White privilege in class; and use of the New York Times’s “1619 Project,” which suggests slavery and racism are at the core of American history.

“Everything has been politicized,” said Domenech, of AASA. “You’re beside yourself saying, ‘How did we ever get to this point?’”

Part of the challenge going forward is that the pandemic is not over. Each time it seems to be easing, it returns with a variant vengeance, forcing schools to make politically and educationally sensitive decisions about the balance between safety and normalcy all over again.

At the same time, many of the problems facing public schools feed on one another. Students who are absent will probably fall behind in learning, and those who fall behind are likely to act out.

A similar backlash exists regarding race. For years, schools have been under pressure to address racism in their systems and to teach it in their curriculums, pressure that intensified after the murder of George Floyd in 2020. Many districts responded, and that opened them up to countervailing pressures from those who find schools overly focused on race.

Some high-profile boosters of public education are optimistic that schools can move past this moment. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona last week promised, “It will get better.” Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, said, “If we can rebuild community-education relations, if we can rebuild trust, public education will not only survive but has a real chance to thrive.”

But the path back is steep, and if history is a guide, the wealthiest schools will come through reasonably well, while those serving low-income communities will struggle. Steve Matthews, superintendent of the 6,900-student Novi Community School District in Michigan, just northwest of Detroit, said his district will probably face a tougher road back than wealthier nearby districts that are, for instance, able to pay teachers more.

“Resource issues. Trust issues. De-professionalization of teaching is making it harder to recruit teachers,” he said.“A big part of me believes schools are in a long-term crisis.”

Read more >>> Washington Post

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Bomb threats made to multiple HBCUs including Bowie State, Howard

Police respond to Bowie State University’s Charlotte Robinson Hall on Jan. 31, 2022, amid a bomb threat. 

At least six historically black colleges and universities received bomb threats Monday morning, disrupting campus operations and launching police investigations. Southern University and A&M, Howard University, Bethune-Cookman University, Albany State University, Bowie State University and Delaware State University all received bomb threats this morning, according to campus spokespeople or social media posts.

Around Washington DC area, Law enforcement are investigating bomb threats targeting two of the D.C. region’s historically Black universities.

Police responded to Maryland’s Bowie State University, D.C.’s Howard University and several other historically Black colleges and universities around the country for bomb threats made early Monday — less than a month after many of the same schools fielded similar threats, all determined to be hoaxes.

An emergency alert from Bowie State continues to advise anyone on campus to shelter-in-place until further notice, and said all classes had changed to virtual learning for the day.

“Bowie State University this morning received information from Prince George’s County Police of a bomb threat indicating that explosives had been placed in academic building on the campus,” BSU said in a statement. “All threats of this nature are taken seriously and fully investigated. The campus has been closed for the day with classes and university offices operating virtually.”

Images from Bowie State showed police activity centered around Charlotte Robinson Hall. The Maryland State Fire Marshal said its bomb technicians and explosives detection units were assisting campus security with building sweeps.

MARC’s Penn Line will bypass Bowie State Station until after 1 p.m. due to the ongoing investigation.

Howard University said D.C. and campus police responded to a bomb threat made by phone around 4:30 a.m. Monday, naming the area near the Mordecai Wyatt Johnson Administration Building. No threats were found, Howard later added, and an all-clear was given.

The fate of the other historically black colleges and universities remains unknown.

A sign welcomes people to the Howard University campus in this this July 2021 file photo.


PGCPS Laurel High School Student’s Eco-Activism Has Global Reach

Javier Fuentes, president of the Laurel High School Green Club, gives a thumbs up to the environmental initiatives that helped recertify Laurel as a Green School in Maryland. Courtesy photo by Cinthia Najera.

Editor’s Note: Taking climate lessons from the classroom to the community, Maryland students are becoming increasingly vocal, marching in protests, organizing rallies and challenging school and government authorities to act on their concerns.

Many have been inspired by Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, who, at 15 in 2018, staged daily protests outside the Swedish Parliament with demands that leaders listen to her pleas for the planet.

This month we profile three Maryland teenagers, each a leader among their peers seeking to address solutions to a global crisis.

They are part of a growing youth movement, impatient and frustrated, yet empowered by the sum of their collective effort to create a more equitable and sustainable future.


By Rosanne Skirble: – On a Friday last winter, Javier Fuentes, then a sophomore at Laurel High School in Prince George’s County, was in his bedroom attending virtual school.

After classes he had a commitment.

Javier was the only student invited to join a global sustainability panel among educators from Scotland, Australia, Kenya, Mexico, Germany and the United States.

The online event was sponsored by the Maryland Association for Environmental and Outdoor Education, the non-profit that certifies green schools across Maryland.

“I was nervous, intimidated,” he admitted, but Javier gathered his nerves and forged ahead.

“I was never really involved or passionate about the environment until I was a freshman and decided to join the Green Club,” he said in his remarks to the more than 100 people registered for the event, all environmental educators or professionals in the field.

As a member of the club’s executive team that year, Javier facilitated two messy compost audits with expert help from the Smithsonian.

“Ninety percent of the [so-called] waste was actually compostable,” he said.

“It was fun, educational, and a gross experience,” he said, recalling the hands-on sorting.

Those efforts jump-started Laurel’s composting program, the first in any Prince Georges County school. In 2020, the program was recognized with a Waste Diversion Award for Innovation from the Prince George’s Department of the Environment.

By sophomore year, Javier was Green Club president with an executive team, three faculty advisors, and 50 to 60 students who showed up regularly to meetings.

During the pandemic, under Javier’s leadership, the Green Club didn’t slack off and instead accelerated, creating a recycled art competition and getting dozens of students to take a pledge for America Recycles Day.

“There is nothing flashy about him, and he never grandstands. Although he has a quiet personality, he is liked and respected by other students,” said English teacher Beth Gallagher, faculty co-sponsor of the club. “He guided the Club through a strange year of online meetings and at home projects.”

Javier also spearheaded Laurel’s Green School recertification process, Gallagher said.

Nadisha Clayton, another faculty co-sponsor, was impressed by Javier’s critical thinking and encouraged him to join the Envirothon, the largest high school education competition in North America.

Students study training materials, attend hands-on sessions with local experts, and then compete at the local, state and national levels. After placing second countywide contest in March 2020, the Laurel team advanced to the state competition.

“They performed well enough to be able to secure a $1,500 scholarship for each member of their [five-person] team,” Clayton said.

Javier’s visibility in Prince George’s County earned him an invite from the County Board of Education to comment on the county’s Climate Action Plan.

“Overall, I like doing all of these things,” Javier said, reflecting on a summer job with the National Energy Education Development Project, a national non-profit. He studied insulation, working in small groups online with packaged materials sent to his home in boxes.

“I had no idea about insulation, and the impact windowpanes and drafts have on home energy efficiency,” he said. “There are practical solutions that students like me can take, around their own homes, their own lives, so they can become more sustainable.”

Looking back at last February’s Global Sustainability Panel, Javier also broadened his worldview.  He learned from research scientist M. Carolina Ceballos Bernal, with the Centro de Investigación en Alimentación y Desarrollo, a Mexican research food and development institute, that she had created an environmental education curriculum, but there was no public policy in place to enforce it.

Javier said he was inspired that she kept fighting to bring the program to life.

“She was able to make connections with other environmental groups to conduct interviews of communities on how they believed environmental education should take place, train educators, and lobby for education on sustainable development and sustainable schools,” he said. “Those kinds of stories inspire me to continue pushing forward with environmental work in my community, that we have to keep pushing for sustainable development themes in our curriculum.”

While acknowledging that young people get impatient with government inertia, Javier said it is the duty of his generation to slow the wider impact of climate change, which is why each action is important.

“You really have to fight for what you want to get it to happen, building connections, with others with the same passion, that we can all work together to make a better, greener future,” he said.

Even small steps can make a difference, Javier tells others.

“Seeing the little successes is what gives me hope, like using reusable water bottles or turning trash into art, or on a bigger scale like closing the ozone hole, seeing that the world can come together to slow effects of climate change,” he said.

But, when he thinks about it, it’s his personal story that gives him the courage to lead. His parents immigrated from El Salvador before he was born, escaping violence and poverty. His parents taught him not to waste food and to conserve energy because back home they couldn’t afford a lot.

“They told me about the drastic differences in lifestyle, and that’s part of my environmental experience, why I reflect on my own habits in my day-to-day-life,” he said.

Javier plans to study engineering or architecture after high school graduation in 2023.

Gallagher sees a promising future whatever he decides.

“Look for Javier where remarkable things are happening. At the center of the project, you will find him – kind, intelligent, hardworking, never seeming to do anything and yet, somehow, holding everything together,” she said.

Laurel High School’s Green Team members, including Javier Fuentes, remove invasive species during the Prince George’s County Student Environmental Alliance Summit at Bladensburg Waterfront Park. Courtesy photo by Nadisha Clayton.


Future of the County –

…Heroes of tomorrow.


 An Opinion.

Today we found ourselves visiting with several parents to monitor our children in several schools within the county to monitor progress made so far. We visited schools surrounded by people living in some of our most neglected communities in Oxon Hill, Capital Heights, Riverdale, Langley Park and Hyattsville. It is an interesting coincidence that got us thinking of the work that the heroes of yesterday began, and that our children and their children have to carry on with. Our county has had great men and women standing up at different times, but towards the same goal, of ensuring liberty, prosperity and justice for all.

The freedom fighters risked all to liberate us from the colonial yoke. After independence, another generation stepped in and risked everything when the very dreams that inspired the freedom fighters were being rolled back. These are the heroes of the first Liberation who faced numerous challenges including racism and segregation machines ultimately they reclaimed the rights and freedoms that were being taken away. For which they paid a great price. The heroes of our first, second, third, etc. Liberations have brought us this far. Some of these Heroes were Black, Indians, Whites, Latinos, and Asians amongst races. We are immensely indebted to them.

In July 2014 the United States of America turns 238 years old and counting. As we remember the heroes of the past centuries, we must focus on the next 50 years ahead and ask ourselves, who will be our heroes of that period and what will make them?

Listening to various leaders including governor O’Malley of Maryland, County Executive Rushern Baker, Senator Joan Benson of Prince George’s County speak about their challenges and promises of their respective areas, we found ourselves thinking of our country’s next fifty years, its old challenges that we have been unable to subdue and the new ones we are yet to start tackling.  It occurred to us that the heroes of the years ahead might be made in our county if we get it right.

Our county is certainly set to be the next theatre of action, opportunities, challenges and growth. That is why Washington, D.C. metropolitan area is  the most affluent metropolitan area in the United States. Prince George’s county in particular has been a magnet for international immigration since the late 1960s. It is also a magnet for internal migration (persons moving from one region of the U.S. to another). Many students in Prince George’s county bear great potential and promise for the future but they are never challenged for greater capabilities. What can we do to make their world mean something or rewarding?

In southern Maryland, NASA records the strongest all-round the year wind blowing in the same direction and capable of generating electricity for all of Prince George’s County. It has never been exploited. Like many other counties in Maryland, Prince George’s county is changing fast but transforming too slowly. The economy is growing, but so are poverty levels. Despite new challenges and new opportunities, outdated mindset  full of discriminatory tendencies persists. The heroes of the next fifty years of our county will be men and women who accept that we cannot create the future by clinging to the past. We should embrace diversity and work together for good of the county and the United States of America.

Prince George’s County and especially the County school system has a chance to open a new chapter with the coming of devolved units after HB1107. Already, a number of our county representatives are toying with grand visions but we should not let the old ways crop back in through the back door.

In the struggles of these representatives whether it is a senator, delegate or Board of Education member, we see a journey to determine the county’s future by expanding our county’s productivity. In this regard, the county carries great potential in determining our county’s next heroes. Unfortunately, the passion of the governor or other representatives or even the county Executive alone is not enough. Every defining moment in a nation’s history needs a champion at the center.  Abraham Lincoln stepped in to save the union that remains standing as the USA. He remains our country’s hero to date.

United States and especially Prince George’s County, needs people to champion and save devolution and secure our next fifty years. There is a simple logic that makes us passionate about the future of the county. The logic is that when we try to empower and make our neighbors rich, we create room for sharing, trading and making life rewarding for my neighbor, ourselves and myself.

Here in Prince George’s county, we still need to work hard to create better relations between our various ethnic groups. To win the battle against colonial powers, our founding fathers pulled together, in one direction. Today, we are falling apart at the seams. The heroes of the years ahead will be the men and women who will recognize this fact and act to permanently patch up the widening cracks between our ethnic groups whether white or black, Latino or Asian among other groups by addressing honestly and candidly the things that are setting various ethnic groups against another here in the county must be addressed. Let the leadership of the county Government be the model for others to follow. Let us challenge the state agencies like Maryland state Board of Education when they fail to perform in their duties properly and request proper accounting. Many of us paid a big price for advocating for change. We should not let the old ways of doing business continue unchallenged.

But we must also never forget that the struggle for freedom never ends. Future heroes will be men and women who remember the words of Ronald Reagan that…”Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on…”

Finally, whether we are ready for it or not, the world is moving into the era of innovation, science and technology.  Economists tell us that the world is getting smaller, but it is not coming together. The nations that innovate are going to rule the world.

United States as a whole has pioneered many things including planes, cellphones, internet, computers, etc. The planes are a unique United States contribution to the world. While it shows the capacity of United States to innovate, it may not be long before somebody comes up with something better. The heroes of the coming years will have to be men and women who keep United States of America on the front row through innovation, science and technology.  We live in an era when some corporations are richer than entire nations. We are confident that if we invest in them, the United States youth will give us the Sony, Citicorp, Philip Morris, Yahoo and Google of the next century and make them our heroes. The choice is ours.




Prince George’s homeless shelters face challenges

…in severe weather


According to Gazette, Some locations suffer from overcrowding

Record freezing temperatures in early January led to crowding at some Prince George’s County homeless shelters and compelled others to offer longer hours of service, officials said.

“We have had an expanded range of individuals calling into the hotline [this year] just in relation to the severe temperatures,“ said Laila Riazi, director of development for Community Crisis Services Inc., a nonprofit that handles Prince George’s County’s homeless shelter placements.

She said her agency processed 40,000 calls through the county’s Homeless Hotline last year and directed around 230 individuals to shelters, but the numbers are running much higher this year based on week-by-week comparisons.

The Warm Nights program was full after the first week of operation in November and was operating at 40 percent over capacity the second week, Riazi said. The program increased capacity by opening two church locations per week, but is still slightly over capacity, she said. >>> Read more Gazzette


PGPD Urges Drivers to Lock Doors

…at Gas Stations

It’s a crime of opportunity and takes just seconds.  You’ve got your back turned while pumping gas and a thief snatches valuables from your unlocked car.  Before you know what’s happened, the thief is long gone.
We’re unfortunately seeing this crime time and again and it’s entirely preventable.  Since early December, we’ve investigated at least 30 thefts from cars at gas stations in our county.
The Prince George’s County Police Department produced this important safety message. Take a few minutes and watch the video. Please also share with your friends and family.
PGPD Badge_ColorBG

Federal guidelines address discipline in nation’s schools


Federal officials Wednesday released guidelines intended to help the nation’s schools create discipline policies that would keep more students in class, avoid unnecessary out-of-school suspensions and reduce racial disparities in punishment.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. are scheduled to jointly discuss the new guidelines Wednesday at Frederick Douglass High School in Baltimore, where they will participate in a roundtable conversation with students.

“A routine school disciplinary infraction should land a student in the principal’s office, not in a police precinct,” Holder said in a statement. Both he and Duncan have long emphasized the importance of moving away from an overuse of suspensions, expulsions and arrests in the nation’s schools.

“We need to keep students in class where they can learn,” Duncan said in a statement. “These resources are a step in the right direction.” >>>> Read More Washington Post


Read more >>> Ashes to Ashes in Prince George’s County School District


crime down in PG county, However Problems continue…


D’Juan Renay Hunter

The start of the 2014 New Year didn’t begin well for Prince George’s County.

Police dealt with two domestic related homicides. Despite the violence, the county says the long term statistics and trends show a brighter future.

“This county has been able to reduce homicides by nearly 40% in 3 years, ” said Chief Mark Magaw.  Despite these assurances, According to police sources, the first killing of the year occurred sometime before 4:30 a.m. in the 5500 block of Karen Elaine Drive in New Carrollton. Police arrived and found a 26-year-old man suffering from fatal gunshot wounds at an apartment complex.

The second murder was caused by D’Juan Renay Hunter (pictured above) of Shipley Terrace in SE DC who had a confrontation with his mother’s fiance’.  Police officials report that 38 year old Hunter came to visit at the residence of 52 year old Raymond Quattlebaum in the 9100 block of Goldfield Place in Clinton. (See the story here)  While there, Hunter confronted Mr. Quattlebaum, over something (No one knows much of what transpired). During the confrontation, Hunter shot Quattlebaum who was his mother’s boyfriend.  After the shooting, Hunter ran from the scene. He was found and arrested early on January 2nd, 2014  in Bowie. Hunter faces first degree murder and related charges. Not that there is ever a good time for a murder to take place, but this one supplanted the good news about crime in Prince George’s County going down.  It’s like we are the bad joke of the Counties around here.

The two New Year’s Day killings stood in contrast to the county’s year-end tally for 2013. Homicides dropped from 64 recorded in 2012 to 57 last year.

Read  more>>> WUSA 9


Teen Shot, Killed after House Party


Prince George’s County police said a teenager is dead after being shot early Saturday morning in Upper Marlboro, Md.

Officers arrived in the 11700 block of North Marlton Avenue shortly after midnight and found Rashad Andre Pinkney, 19, of Capitol Heights, Md., shot. Pinkney was taken to the hospital, where he died.

Police said officers had been in the area about an hour earlier for reports of gunshots and discovered hundreds of partygoers from a house part in the 11800 block of North Marlton Avenue out in the street.

According to NBC 4 News crew, An officer who was attempting to control the house party scene was assaulted by a 17-year old. As the officer tried to arrest her, she pushed the officer, breaking his leg and twisting his ankle.

The suspect is facing assault charges.


Homeless Student Population Rises in Maryland


COLLEGE PARK – Danny Lamont Jones seems like an average high schooler. He goes to class, and comes home and writes music when he can’t focus on his homework.

But for much of his high school career Jones, 18, wasn’t living like an average student. He attended four different high schools as he moved in and out of homes and shelters in Baltimore city. When he turned 12, he said, he moved into a shelter in for homeless teenagers.

“I had to make me own way from there,” said Jones, who now lives with his uncle.

Jones is one of thousands of students in Maryland who have experienced homelessness. The number of K-12 students identifying as homeless in U.S. public schools hit a record high 1.2 million during the 2011-2012 school year, according to the U.S. Department of Education. >>> Read More Capital News Service


“Ashes to ashes” in PGCPS District Md.