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Published on: Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Laurel High School

I was not shocked to get a letter from Principal Dwayne Jones of Laurel High School informing me of a mandatory meeting because my child was under performing. I knew that my child was under performing because she has been denied her legal right for comprehensive assessments to follow up on educational plans that addressed her learning disability that was identifed at her elementary school where plans were developed and passed on to her middle school. It was not until high school that we were denied the tools for academic success.

I was shocked when I got the second letter from Principal Jones informing me that over 50 percent of the students were failing at Laurel! This was a reason to move into action, not only for my child–whose needs were not being met, but now for over half of the school’s population!

Flyers were created inviting the community to the mandatory meeting to address this educational crisis at Laurel’s District 1 high school. Prince George’s County Board of Education Representative Rosalind Johnson (D-1) and County Councilman Tom Dernoga (D-1) were both contacted as stakeholders of the alarming fact that over 50 percent of students are currently failing at Laurel High School. PTAs were also contacted at neighboring schools and mailing lists for HOA were used to get the word out! Not only was the school in crisis, but so was our community.

At the meeting, parents and community stakeholders were expecting action plans that would address the crisis at Laurel High School, a call to action for parents to “get involved in their child’s education.” That is what Principal Jones’ letter stated to the parents of the over 50 percent of students failing at Laurel High School.

The meeting began with a 15-minute presentation from Principal Jones with statistics over 10 years old on high school dropout rates. “DROP OUT” was on every single slide multiple times.

After Principal Jones presentation other presentations were given by invited guest from Job Corps, The Freestate ChalleNGe Academy, Laurel’s Advocacy Services, SHARED food banks, and other resources. Pupil Personnel Worker, Christine Pierre was very proud of the resources she and others were able to give to parents. She wanted parents to know that because your child is failing at Laurel High School, you have other choices for your child to obtain a GED and go on to job training or college.

I’m not sure if the parents left the meeting at Laurel High School feeling empowered or more educated knowing the tools for their child’s academic success at Laurel High School had been made available to them. It is my hope it made a huge difference in the life of their failing child.

I left the school feeling just like my child feels every single day at the end of her school day, cheated! Cheated out of the opportunity of expression, information, and once again education. I didn’t leave the meeting anymore educated on the situation my daughter has become a victim to, poor administration who by evidence of the meeting has already given up on over 50 percent of the student population!

I feel I am forced to share with you a call to action. I believe students can benefit from a more qualified high school principal and other administrators who are more capable of addressing and solving the educational crisis that Laurel High School face today.

We are in the midst of the worst economical crisis facing Americans since the Great Depression. Are you prepared to send your child off undereducated into a world that most Americans cannot find a career with MA degrees? I’m sorry, alternative education is not working in this day and age.

Not for me, not for my child. And not for your child!

Patricia Johnson



A fraudulent piece of legislation will soon be introduced into the U.S. Congress. The legislation’s title, “The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act” is a misnomer. The legislation is intended to give the Food and Drug Administration control over the tobacco industry; however, the legislation contains so many loopholes that it will render the perceived FDA authority nonexistent.

The legislation, crafted by the President of the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids and representatives of Philip Morris, without input from other health organizations, is strongly supported by Philip Morris. When health organizations such as the American Association of Public Health Physicians, the American  Council on Science and Health, and individual public health  experts questioned some of the egregious portions of the legislation and called for a public forum debate, they were rebuked. When they proposed amendments to the legislation they were told that this would cause Philip Morris to withdraw their support and lead to the legislation’s defeat.

One can only wonder why Congress needs the approval of the tobacco industry to pass legislation that supposedly controls the industry and why the legislation’s supporters refuse to debate this legislation in a public forum.

John O’ Hara, President

Maryland Group Against Smoker’s Pollution


Exxon Mobil profits

Exxon/Mobil, the world’s largest oil company, just posted record profits of $8.3 billion for the fourth quarter of 2008 and $45 billion for all of 2008, and it has not participated in distributing discounted oil to Citizens Energy Corporarion.

Isn’t it amazing that Joe Kennedy II, CEO of Citizens Energy Corporation, has to rely on Hugo Chavez of Venezuela through Citgo Petroleum, a Venezuelean company, to provide discounted heating oil to Citizens Energy.  This oil is then distributed in a number of states to needy homeowners to heat their homes in the winter time.  States that participate include all the New England states, NY, NJ, PA, MD, DE, VA, IN, MI, WI, and AK.

Exxon/Mobil should stop being a scrooge and give back some of its massive wealth through the distribution of discounted oil to homeowners who cannot afford to purchase heating oil at the regular price.

Donald A. Moskowitz

Londonderry, NH

Reader Comments - 1 Total

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Posted By: Mark On: 6/3/2011

Title: Problem at Laurel High School

After reading the list of vague complaints made by Patricia Johnson, I can only wonder what the parents of these children are actually DOING to help their children understand the importance of education now and in their future, and if they are using their time to help their children succeed. She mentioned her child's learning disability, but failed to add any specifics as to what the school system needs to provide in order to help her child, and if that extra attention needed for her child, how that will affect the other 30 kids in their classes trying to learn. I feel that many parents in this society want what is best for their children, but wanting and doing something about it are 2 entirely different things. I think teachers receive excessive blame for failing students because there are students who refuse to learn or don't care to learn, and whose parents spend no time emphasizing education or attend PTA meetings. It is impossible to teach someone Math, who hates numbers and refuses to practice homework. It is just as hard to teach someone to play the guitar, if they hate music and don't care. I don't know how the situation at Laurel is personally, and I'm guessing with the political atmosphere in county school boards and administrations that the tone set at the top is creating a CYA attitude, but for the lack of abilities the schools have, parents need to fill the void. My parents instilled a desire in myself and my siblings to do well in school, partially because my grandparents worked in Steel Mills and coal mines with barely a HS education and struggled through life, but they taught me that education could open the doors to a better life. I hope the parents of the 50% of failing students take action to instill this in their kids. Turn off American Idol, spend some time with the kids on their homework, take the metro downtown and go to a FREE museum, or FREE historic park. Take the kids to the FREE local library and read with them. There are resources available even for the less fortunate, but a true effort must be continuously made, and it is NEVER TOO LATE.


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