Archive for October 2011
Education is the most critical issue facing the county right now. We can’t create jobs if people aren’t educated for them, we can’t spur development with poor-performing schools, and we can’t reduce crime if we don’t educate our children out of a life of crime. We need to push for a fully transparent PGCPS budget (at the central office) this year. I agree we need more revenue too, as Dr. Hite says, but let’s make sure our own house is in order first. Join me in this fight. We’ll be circulating an online petition soon, which you can sign. Stay tuned, stay involved!
Please come out and provide your feedback on the FY 2013 PGCPS Budget tonight!
PGCPS Superintendent will hold the 2nd of two public hearings to discuss the FY 2013 PGCPS Operating Budget on Tuesday, October 25th at 7:00 p.m. This is an opportunity for parents, guardians, and community members to be involved in the process and to express your concerns.
- The public hearing is in the Boardroom at the Sasscer Administration Bldg. located at 14201 School Lane, Upper Marlboro. Please click the following link for directions, http://schools.pgcps.org/officedirections.asp?code=10013
- To speak at the hearing, you must be registered. To register, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call (301) 952-6382;
- Please have your testimony statement prepared for speaking and bring 2-3 copies;
This is serious business about the education of our children, the more people who attend the better!
Below are remarks I made at the Superintendent’s Public Hearing on October 19, 2011. Let me preface this blog entry by stating that I was one of only two individuals who showed up to speak. Last winter, after budget cuts were proposed, more than a hundred individuals showed up to speak at the public hearing I attended. Parents, we need to be involved in the budget process from the very beginning if we are going to keep the pressure on the Board of Education to keep funding in our classrooms instead of succumbing to political and personal agendas. You will have another opportunity to speak on October 25, 2011, and the Superintendent will introduce a new budget format this year, called “Student-Based Budgeting.” Dr. Hite expects to release the proposed budget in December 2011. Stay tuned, and stay plugged into other advocacy networks. I recommend you join Parents and PGCPS – it’s the best way to stay engaged.
Last spring, I came before you as a prospective parent to urge you to do whatever was necessary to make sure that our teachers and their students are given top priority. Since that time, as I watched the process unfold from the sidelines, it became evident to me that while our public commitment is to put our children first, our political and personal agendas took priority. Because of that experience, I enrolled my daughter in a private school elsewhere.
Not all parents are fortunate enough to have that choice, and that’s why I am here today. I’m not sure anyone on the School Board currently has children enrolled in PGCPS, and while I’m delighted we have a student representative among you, we desperately need a parent advocate. Parents once again ask you to build out a budget that puts our classrooms first. (Note: After the hearing, District 7 Board Member Henry Armwood (not my district) told me that five of his children graduated from PGCPS, and four of his grandchildren are currently enrolled, implying that he understands my concerns as a parent. However, I would ask Mr. Armwood whether he is proud of the education his grandchildren are receiving as PGCPS ranks near the bottom in the State of Maryland. Does he know what they are learning in school, review their progress on a daily basis, volunteer in their classrooms, and come to their PTA meetings? I invite him to respond.)
The last time I was here, I supplied you with information about what happens when we develop our budget starting in the central office. I reported that in one division of human resources, we are paying $65,000 to data entry clerks, $90,000 to secretaries, and more than $100,000 to several mid-level bureaucrats. Why? I never got answers from you. While I understand that cutting those salaries barely scratches the surface of what is needed, I’ve scoured your FY2012 budget and found other examples of waste, such as the IT Department. They have two deputy department heads and pay almost $2M in contractor services. They employ 17 people in their print office to copy teacher curriculum, which is supposed to be created by the teachers themselves. They have 40 computer technicians and analysts in the central office, and similar positions in the schools.
What’s even more astounding is that PGCPS is paying an unexpected $4 million in back pay to foreign teachers after the Department of Labor determined the teachers were illegally charged for fees that should have been paid by PGCPS. The Chief of Human Resources, nor anyone else, has ever been held accountable. It’s particularly egregious considering the Chief of Human Resources possesses a law degree, formerly served in the Office of General Counsel, and should have known the law. These are just a few of the ways we have wasted our very limited resources this past year.
Let’s get back to the basics. If our children can’t read by third grade, the state starts planning a place for them in our jails. These children can’t advocate for themselves, but if they could, they would probably want to go to school early and often, starting with preschool. They would want the highest paid employees to be their beloved teachers, and those who help them succeed with Reading Recovery, and the media specialists who inspire them with a love for books that expand their universe. If we want to get our schools moving in the right direction and restore public confidence, let’s start by spending our limited tax dollars wisely, on the priorities our parents and children have in mind.
FINAL NOTE : Although PGCPS Superintendent Dr. Hite limited me to three minutes and did not allow me to publicly finish my remarks, he did promise to respond to all of my concerns in writing. I was disappointed that I could not finish, because no one else was there to testify after me. I understand that while they want to comply with hearing procedures, some flexibility should be built into the process if they hold these hearings so the public can truly be heard. I will share Dr. Hite’s response to me here as soon as I receive it.