A Journey From Hopelessness To Hope

Pamela Wood’s article, “Hogan plans tech ed initiative,” 11-3-17 raises some important issues. Apparently, the governor is concerned about building a more tech-savvy workforce in Maryland and believes his ACCESS plan will accomplish this. Hence he will play a key role in deciding what students should learn and a timeline for working the lessons into the curriculum. However, what qualifies him to set curriculum standards?

While not discounting the importance of teaching computer science and coding in schools, I believe the best way to help students in Maryland is through the TUTOR-MENTOR TEAM approach. Access and entry into the job market – not just the computer field – is an essential ingredient of students’ education. Therefore I would define ACCESS as
Achieving Classroom Collaboration for Employing Students Successfully

Furthermore, the TUTOR-MENTOR strategy would not cost the taxpayer any money. Here’s how it would work. To get the wheels rolling, during the first 100 days in office, I would convene meetings on a statewide basis, with religious institutions, business establishments, TV personalities, sports figures, etc. for the purpose of engaging their help in formulating the TUTOR-MENTOR TEAMS. These teams would then work with the principals and teachers of schools in the city and counties throughout Maryland. Each TUTOR-MENTOR TEAM would be assigned to work with one student throughout that student’s school life – that is from the start of their connection until the student is gainfully employed. It is the team along with the classroom teachers who would determine the needs of the their assigned student together with the tools and materials required for making the student’s learning successful. If the student needs computer training, then the team tackles that task as well as providing the free computer.

Along the way, the TUTOR-MENTOR TEAM will help to instill in students the Judaic-Christian value system that has somehow gotten lost on the path of education today.

Through the TUTOR-MENTOR TEAM approach of Achieving Classroom Collaboration for Employing Students Successfully, students will be able to journey from hopelessness to hope.

Ralph Jaffe
Teacher and Democratic candidate for governor in the 2018 primary election
Baltimore

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The Blame Game

What’s wrong with Baltimore City government? For the answer – all you have to do is read the article, “ Beleaguered city residents seek end to crime surge,” 11-1-17.

There’s a blame game going on between the career politicians – namely, the Mayor of Baltimore City and the members of the Baltimore City Council whereby each side is blaming the other for the rise of crime in Baltimore City that continues to escalate to record-breaking numbers without any real relief in sight.

As the writer points out, Councilman Brandon Scott hastily called into session a meeting of the Baltimore City public safety committee to discuss the Mayor’s crime plan. However, a major player, namely Mayor Pugh declared her administration would not participate. Because of such short notice she felt a more pressing need was to focus on keeping the children and families safe on Halloween – a reason that elicited criticism from Councilman Scott. Here’s the ironical part. In providing more justification for not attending, Mayor Pugh referred to the last time Councilman Scott called such a hearing back in July when city government agencies were in attendance. Their extensive preparation for the meeting was wasted as they were dismissed without a chance to comment.

More irony stems from the fact that Mayor Pugh, back in August 2017, named Drew Vetter, the former Chief of Staff for Police Commissioner Kevin Davis, to serve as director of criminal justice to help coordinate a violence-reduction strategy. Yet, the epidemic in violence has worsened instead of improved and the morale of the police rank and file is the worst in the history of the Baltimore City Police Department.

Unfortunately, it’s going to take more than “Baltimore’s second weekend ceasefire,” 11-2-17, to bring calm to the storm of violence. Wake up, Baltimore, before it is too late. What is really needed is for the citizens of Baltimore City to elect “ethical politicians” who are willing to serve their constituents instead of themselves.

Ralph Jaffe
Teacher and Democratic candidate for governor in the 2018 primary election
Baltimore

 

A Matter of Being More Proactive

Conversations on America’s gun culture have become more pronounced in the news, such as “Republicans, NRA willing to consider gun measure,” 10-6-17, but to what avail?

Whether it is the Freddie Gray shooting and aftermath – whether it is the Las Vegas massacre – whether it is the Columbine shooting (1999), the Virginia Tech shooting (2007), the Sandy Hook shooting (2012), the Orlando shooting (2016), whether it be the storm ravaging effects from the Hurricanes Harvey or Irma which plummeted Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico – the response to these tragedies has been very predictable. People rally around the people. People quickly rise to the situation doing everything they can to help the victims of these horrific events.

During the Las Vegas mass shootings, the goodwill of people was clearly evident. Strangers acting as shields for other strangers, strangers carrying wounded strangers to hospitals, strangers waiting in line to donate blood for injured strangers. This is the goodness of 97% of people in Maryland and America. However, it is the 3 or 4% of the population such as the Las Vegas madman or gang members in the cities who cause the havoc and devastation.

In all of these disasters, our response is a reaction. – Our actions are reactive when they should be proactive. The tragedy occurs, and then people react. What needs to be done is to take measures which could help to prevent or at least lessen the pain resulting from these disasters.
All of the goodness in people cannot bring back to life the people murdered. All of the goodness in people cannot remove the pain and suffering of those adversely affected by the wrath of the storms pounding their areas.

The question is …where does the blame lie?
In large part the blame lies with the career politicians – be they liberal, conservative, Republicans or Democrats and their goals It is their desire for power, fame, and money that propels them to put their own needs above the needs of the people they are supposed to serve. That accounts for Congress not taking action on banning assault weapons from being sold to the public. It explains why President Trump took so long before the military was called to come to the aid of the people in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

How do we go from being reactive to proactive?
First – We need to elect politicians who are ethical and who will make a commitment before they are elected to be a real, true public servant rather than becoming a career politician. Agreeing to serve one term only would be the best way to bring this about.
Second – We need more educators like Reverend Watters – people who are committed to helping the poor and needy in the community. We need fewer educators whose primary focus is promoting their own careers as administrators or professors who like to author books for selling.
Third – We need to come to the realization that there is a Supreme Being over all of us. We need to learn how to emulate what our Maker stands for.

Ralph Jaffe
Teacher
Democratic candidate for governor in the 2018 primary election

 

 

A Lifetime Achievement Award Winner

If the Pulitzer Prize for journalism were to be awarded for an article that portrays an authentic, religious individual who understands what real education is all about, it should be Talia Richman’s article, “Third school is part of DNA, Jesuit priest says,” 9-26-17.

The central figure, Rev. Bill Watters, an assisting priest at Saint Ignatius Catholic Community in Mount Vernon, should be the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award. His willingness to go into some of the poorest neighborhoods in Baltimore City for the purpose of opening schools in order to serve the mainly low-income, minority student population warrants nothing but praise. In his own words, “The drive to foster education is part of his DNA.” What can be a holier mission than to provide these students with hope instead of despair – to light a candle of goodness in the darkness around them. The caring – sharing – connecting he has made with the young and older alike is a living miracle.

To my way of thinking, Rev. Watters should be the CEO of the Baltimore Public School System. Dr. Sonja Santelises, head of the Baltimore City Public Schools, would do well to take a lesson or more from him. Perhaps, she would then be able to justify the close to $300,000 salary she is earning. Perhaps she would come to realize the error of her ways. One being her pandering to the mayor and governor to secure taxpayer money for programs that do not work. Another being her deficiency in organizational skills resulting in a group of principals venturing out in different, but often misguided directions leading to ineffective results for students, parents, and taxpayers alike.

Perhaps than we would not have to read articles such as, “City school runs out of water,” 9-29-17 or “Student: ‘It was impossible to learn,’ “ 9-27-17.

Any gubernatorial candidate would be foolish not to use the expertise of Rev. Watters in dealing with the ailments of “failing public schools.” In actuality, his talents for helping students to meet life’s challenges, to beat the lifestyle of the streets, and to feel a sense of support and success should earn the respect and admiration of one and all.

Ralph Jaffe
Teacher
Democratic candidate for governor in the 2018 gubernatorial election

 

Yes – Baltimore Lives Matter

“Violent night leaves 4 dead – two others injured as police report 6 shootings in city during 14-hour period,” 9-24-17 along with a similar news-breaking story on TV describing 4 more shootings prompt the following question – How much longer is it going to take before meaningful relief comes the city way?

How much longer do Baltimore City citizens have to wait before the editors of the Baltimore Sun have the courage to call on Governor Hogan to bring out the National Guard for a three week period in order to get the urban fire of violence that is sweeping the city under control? Don’t Baltimore lives mean anything to the Baltimore Sun?

How long will it be before the career politicians of the Baltimore City Council and Mayor Pugh have the courage to call on the Governor to take action by bringing out the National Guard? Don’t they care about Baltimore lives?

Bringing the National Guard to Baltimore City for at least three weeks would really make a huge difference in quenching the smoldering fire of violence. If Governor Hogan thinks he has to wait for Mayor Pugh to request the National Guard, he is mistaken. The message sent by his refusal to take such action seems to be saying that Baltimore lives do not really matter to him.

As for me – Yes, BALTIMORE LIVES DO MATTER!

Ralph Jaffe
Teacher
Democratic candidate for governor in the 2018 primary election

Will People Buy What Krishanti Vignarajah is selling?

Will people buy what Krishanti Vignarajah is selling?
For a good laugh, just read the article, “Vignarajah launches a run for governor,” 9-20-17.

It seems that Krishanti Vignarajah, by invoking the gender card, is underestimating the intelligence of the majority of Democratic women by believing she will receive their support. I think otherwise – the majority of Democratic women are much smarter than Ms. Vignarajah is giving them credit for. In actuality, they are not going to buy what she is selling. While she might be of the opinion that her job as a policy director to former first lady Michele Obama and as a former State Department adviser could be a plus, I can argue that her association with the Obama administration could work as a minus. Remember the Benghazi fiasco?

Ms. Vignarajah has acknowledged that she has registered in two different places at the same time and yet, sees no wrong in that. How does she respond to those who question this? In Erin Cox’s article it is – no comment. Well, my comment is – it is simply wrong. Is she taking exception with regard to the residency issue? If that is the case, she is joining the ranks of Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump who consider themselves to be above the law.

It is not a laughing matter when I say that Democratic voters can do better than selecting her to lead the state.

Ralph Jaffe
Teacher
Democratic candidate for governor in the 2018 primary election

Governor Hogan and the Blame Game

“Hogan scorns schools plan,” 9-15-17 is a great eye opener for pointing out what is wrong with the entire public educational system in Maryland.

We learn of Governor Hogan’s disapproval of the Maryland School Board plan, but with all due respect, Governor Hogan is not a certified educator. And for that matter, the members of the Maryland State Board of Education, who are appointed by the governor, are not necessarily real authorities in education. And now, we have a state law passed by this year’s General Assembly that is supposed to address the needs for low performing schools. But, we cannot assume that the state legislators are highly qualified educators either. Nor should we take for granted that Betsy DeVos, the US Education Secretary, possesses the qualifications of an expert educational leader. However, we do know one of her qualifications is coming from a billionaire family that contributed large amounts of campaign contributions/bribes to the Trump campaign. (Could this be a factor for her position in the Trump administration?)

All this amounts to is a blame game whereby the left criticizes the right and the right is attacking the left. The truth, though, is that the left is not right, but neither is the right right. The $250 million dollars of federal funding, which in reality is taxpayer money, at stake, in the long run is not going to significantly change the public educational system.

What is really right? We need to bring back Judaic-Christian family values.
What else is right? We have to make every effort possible to provide for children two loving parents or loving surrogates father/mother. Undoubtedly, this family resurrection will not take place overnight. In the meantime, we could start with implementing a program such as the one I have been advocating for – a tutor-mentor program initially designed for Baltimore City public schools – a program whose objective is to provide Baltimore City students with the opportunity to connect with a tutor-mentor team who will stand by that student from the outset of the connection until the student completes his/her education and is gainfully employed. This program, with statewide ramifications, can work without costing taxpayers a dime. By implementing this program, the wrongs of the Governor, the Maryland State Board of Education, the General Assembly, and city leaders can be made right. And the students will have an opportunity to see the light.

Ralph Jaffe
Teacher
Democratic candidate for governor in the 2018 primary election

 

A Grandstand Act on Hogan’s Part

Here we go again! Our governor, displaying outstanding promotional hype, convened a closed-door meeting whose focus was on ways to control the crime surge in Baltimore City. What can be said of this meeting? Upon reading the Baltimore Sun‘s article, “Hogan insists on jail time,” 8-3-17, I say – Duh!

One of Governor Hogan’s concerns was the absence at this meeting of judges who preside over criminal cases in Baltimore. Expressing frustration and disappointment at their nonattendance, Governor Hogan claimed they have a major role to play and everyone at the meeting agreed the judges should have been present with the criminal justice group.

The Governor complained about repeated offenders not serving long enough sentences. Consequently, he’s going to recommend legislation that features a truth-in-sentencing component. He was not prepared, however, to provide details on what the bill would entail. We just have to wait for the next legislative session in 2018.

So- here are some questions for the Governor.
Governor, don’t you realize the sense of urgency being felt by Baltimore City citizens? We need action now.
Governor, don’t you realize the most important function of the Baltimore City Police Department is to prevent the crime? Catching the culprit after the crime does not bring back the murdered victims.
Governor, why was the meeting closed to the public and the news media? If it is a frank discussion you want, shouldn’t the voices of the people you serve be heard?
What happened to the open door meeting and transparency in government?

In reality, this closed-door meeting was nothing more than a PR stunt on his part to con the citizens of Baltimore City into believing he is working on consequential measures for solving the crime problem. In reality, he is becoming a typical career politician trying to grandstand. In the meantime, the citizens of Baltimore City continue to suffer because of shootings and robberies occurring everyday unabated.

Ralph Jaffe
Teacher
Democratic candidate for governor in the 2018 primary election

We Can See Clearly Now What Should Be Done

The articles in the Baltimore Sun,  “Mosby, Davis warn on crime,” 8-24-17 followed by   , “Davis, Mosby now at odds,” on 8-25-17 serve an important purpose – they explain why the crime problem in Baltimore City continues to be a nightmarish fiasco that has been plaguing the citizens of Baltimore City far too long. On Thursday, Commissioner Davis and Mrs. Mosby are on the same page claiming they are doing the best they can to fight the crime problem, warning there are no quick solutions and urging citizens to be patient. But one day later, on Friday, they are at odds with one another clashing over police videos.

We can discern two things from this.
Number 1 – Commissioner Davis and Mrs. Mosby are not able to keep their act together for 24 hours. The police commissioner is in way over his head. Baltimore City citizens should call Mayor Pugh and demand that she fire Commissioner Davis.

The state’s attorney for Baltimore City is incompetent demonstrating her inability to know the difference between being a prosecutor and persecutor. Her real forte seems to be the knack for getting publicity. Right now, the only thing citizens can do is be patient with her until June 2018 at which time they can vote her out of office.

Ralph Jaffe
Teacher
Democratic candidate for governor in the 2018 primary election