Posts by Paul Costello1

Cyberbullying affects almost half of American teens. Parents may be unaware.

By Elizabeth Chang.    washington post january 19th 2023

A new survey about teens and social media shows that nearly half of teens say they have been cyberbullied. In a separate survey administered to a parent of each teen, the adults ranked cyberbullying as sixth out of eight concerns about social media. Their top concern was their child being exposed to explicit content.

The survey results, released by Pew this week, aren’t surprising, said Devorah Heitner, author of “Screenwise: Helping Kids Thrive (and Survive) in Their Digital World.” “There’s just so much online aggression — aggression because of online disinhibition and the ways that we forget there’s another human being on the other end of the screen.”

Parents might be more aware of the fact that pornography is widely available online than of the explicit harassment that some kids are facing, she said, which could account for the fact that only 29 percent said they were extremely or very concerned about their child being harassed or bullied.

The teen survey found that 46 percent of kids ages 13 to 17 had experienced at least one of six cyberbullying behaviors, while 28 percent have experienced multiple types. The behaviors and the percentages of teens experiencing them were:

  • Offensive name-calling (32 percent).
  • Spreading of false rumors about them (22 percent).
  • Receiving explicit images they didn’t ask for (17 percent).
  • Constantly being asked where they are, what they’re doing or who they’re with by someone other than a parent (15 percent).
  • Physical threats (10 percent).
  • Having explicit images of them shared without their consent (7 percent).

The report noted that “15- to 17-year-old girls stand out for being particularly likely to have faced any cyberbullying, compared with younger teen girls and teen boys of any age. Some 54% of girls ages 15 to 17 have experienced at least one of the six cyberbullying behaviors, while 44% of 15- to 17-year-old boys and 41% of boys and girls ages 13 to 14 say the same.”

The survey of 1,316 teens, conducted April 14 to May 4, cannot be compared with the last Pew report on this subject, released in 2018, because the methodology and sampling practices were changed for this year’s survey, according to Pew researchers Emily Vogels and Monica Anderson. That means the organization cannot say whether 2022 results reflect an increase or decrease in cyberbullying since 2018.

Heitner thinks the report can be helpful for parents in that it lays out a range of behaviors that some parents might not have been aware of or might not have thought of as cyberbullying. And, she said, all parents should be alert to cyberbullying, even if they think their child is not a victim or a perpetrator, because teens who observe these behaviors can still be affected by them.

“If your kid is on a group text and some other kid is being called a slur, a homophobic slur or a racist slur, your kid is still going to be affected by it,” she said. It’s important for parents to talk to their kids about the climate of the social media sites or group chats they frequent, she added. If a child is going on a new YouTube channel or following someone new on TikTok, parents can ask questions such as: “What is the vibe like?” “Are the comments mean?” “Are the comments racist?”

The fact that name-calling is the No. 1 kind of cyberbullying is not unexpected, “because there’s so much of that going on in our culture,” Heitner said. She also said that younger teens in particular may be confused about what terms are appropriated, because “there’s so much re-appropriation of historically offensive names, whether by the queer community or the Black community or other communities.”

Parents “need to let their own kids know that they can be very accountable for things that they say, that anything you say to someone, even if you feel like you’re joking, could be screenshotted” and shared with others and with authorities. “If in doubt, don’t say it. Don’t share it if you think it could be hurtful, if it’s unsubstantiated, certainly if you don’t have consent to share a picture, don’t share it. And if it’s explicit, don’t share it. Even if you do have consent, just don’t share explicit pictures.”

What parents are getting wrong about teens and sexting

In a separate questionnaire administered to a parent of the teens surveyed, the parents ranked their top concerns as:

  • Being exposed to explicit content (46 percent).
  • Wasting too much time on social media (42 percent).
  • Being distracted from completing homework (38 percent).
  • Sharing too much about their personal life (34 percent).
  • Feeling pressured to act a certain way (32 percent).
  • Being harassed or bullied by others (29 percent).
  • Experiencing problems with anxiety or depression (28 percent).
  • Experiencing lower self-esteem (27 percent).

A majority of the parents — 57 percent — said they at least sometimes checked their teens’ social media activities, with 49 percent saying they often or sometimes set limits for social media use. Black parents were more likely than Hispanic or White parents to check their teens’ social media activity.

New school mental health days? How parents can make them work for kids.

Heitner suggested that parents who are worried about the time their children are spending on social media implement a no-double-screen rule, meaning kids can’t have their phones with them while working on homework. She also suggested checking in with a child who seems glued to their phone, to make sure they aren’t being targeted. Most important, however, is making sure that kids unplug at night, even if it means shutting off the WiFi for kids up to the age of high school seniors.

It’s difficult for teens to regulate themselves if they have a connected device in their bedroom, which could affect their sleep. “And if they’re not getting sleep,” she said, “that’s going to hit their mental health. That’s going to hit their physical health, that’s going to hit their school performance or their athletic performance and nothing good ever happens.”

Teens do think their parents are doing a good job in one way: combating online abuse. “What we saw is that 66 percent of teens said that how their parents were handling online harassment, they were doing an excellent or very good job,” said Pew’s Vogels. The percentages of adults that kids thought were doing an excellent or good job at handling online harassment went down from there: teachers (40 percent), law enforcement (37 percent), social media sites (25 percent) and elected officials (18 percent).

Vogels said the team asked several new questions in this survey. “We asked the reasons that teens thought that they may have been targeted for harassment. And … physical appearance topped the list,” at 15 percent. Other reasons were gender (10 percent), race or ethnicity (9 percent), sexual orientation (5 percent) and political views (5 percent). Black teens were more likely than Hispanic or White teens to say their race made them a target.

“We also asked about a couple different tactics that teens thought … would be effective or not in combating harassment online,” Vogels said. “Half of teens thought that criminal charges would be an extremely effective tactic for curbing harassment they might face online. Half also thought that permanently banning users who harass others from their accounts would also help.”

Forty-two percent of teens think that monitoring and deleting posts also would be highly effective. But, Heitner noted, several major social media companies are laying off content moderators. “So we know that things are about to get bad, if they weren’t already.”


ChatGPT Turns Lincoln to Poetry

May be an image of 3 people

Asking the AI ChatGPT to be creative like turn the Gettysberg address into a Shakespearian sonnet and this is what we got

Four score and seven years before this day,
Our fathers brought forth on this continent
A new nation, born of Liberty’s own say,
And dedicated to the firmament
That all men are created equal,
which we Now test in civil war that rages on.
We come here to this battlefield to lay
The bodies of those fallen, who were gone
So that this nation might live on. But we
Cannot consecrate this ground in any way,
For it is hallowed by the bravery
Of those who fought and died here. The world may
Forget the words we speak, but never the deeds
Of those who fought and died with noble creeds.

Wes Moore is serious about service

Ask what you can do for your country!

Opinion by David Gergen, CNN Senior Political Analyst January 26th 2023 Erie News

Traveling across the country in recent years, I discovered a sure way to fire up an audience: issue a call to young people for a year of service to others.

“It’s called national service,” I tell people. “Sometime between the ages of 18 to 24 or so, we offer you an option to spend a year helping others — assisting teachers in classrooms, volunteering in a local hospital, reducing global warming and the like. For every year of service, you will receive not only a base salary, but you will also earn a scholarship to reduce future education debt.”

Audiences clap loudly. They know from experience that spending a year or more in a military uniform often stiffens a spine and focuses the mind. It is obvious to most folks that a year of domestic service can have a similar impact.

Polling shows that Americans support national service. A 2017 Harvard Institute of Politics poll found that more than 60% of young Democrats and Republicans favored “a national service program for Americans under the age of 25 that would be linked to student loan forgiveness or other relevant incentives.”

Around the world, dozens of countries require some form of service — a list that includes Denmark, South Korea and Israel.

Yet, it has been nearly impossible to translate support for service into large-scale programs here in the United States. Presidents from George H.W. Bush to Bill Clinton to George W. Bush to Barack Obama have spoken warmly of service years but have never come close to implementing what other nations have pulled together.

Every White House has had higher priorities. Partisanship gets in the way, idealism dims. Service years seem just out of reach.

Until now!

From the day of his massive election victory this past November, Wes Moore has emerged at the age of 44 to be one of the most promising young leaders in the country.

He is not only the first Black man to be elected governor of Maryland; he is the only third to be elected governor of any state in US history. More to the point, he is inspirational, recalling the early days of Presidents John F. Kennedy and Barack Obama.

During his recent campaign, Moore often talked about the importance of service to others but it’s hard during any campaign to evaluate how sincerely committed a candidate will be once in office.

Well, Moore’s inaugural address last week settled it: he is hugely serious. While many details are still to be ironed out, he sent waves of excitement through social change agents as he has pledged three major advances.

  • First, he promises to ensure that every high school graduate in Maryland has an option to spend a year in service.
  • Second, students from other states who spend a year in service in Maryland can lower their public college tuition requirements to those of in-state students.
  • And third, by executive order, he has already created a new cabinet level Department of Service and Civic Innovation.

It is a myth, Moore argues, to believe that the only path to success and fulfillment is to study at an elite university. As Martin Luther King Jr. observed in a 1968 sermon, “Everybody can be great… because everybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve… You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love.”

It was in that same spirit of service that Wes Moore signed up for the US Army at 17 and went on to lead combat troops in Afghanistan in the famous 82nd Airborne. “My years of service transformed me,” he said in his inaugural . “My character was strengthened, my vistas were widened, my leadership was tested.”

“A year of service will prepare young people for their careers — and provide our state with future leaders: public servants we desperately need.”

No doubt, there will be distractions and disappointments ahead for the new governor, who is a Democrat. His incoming administration has a long and demanding agenda on several fronts. Maryland currently incarcerates more young Black men than any other state, according to a recent report from the nonprofit Justice Policy Institute, and has a racial wealth gap of nearly 8-1.

But make no mistake, coming off his rousing inaugural and working with Republicans like Larry Hogan, his popular predecessor, Wes Moore has the potential to do something very special: turning Maryland into a national model for service and leadership.

™ & © 2023 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.


Gov. Wes Moore’s prepared remarks upon his inauguration as the 63rd governor of Maryland

Gov. Wes Moore was sworn in as Maryland’s 63rd governor and first Black executive shortly after noon on Wednesday. These are his remarks, as prepared before the ceremony, though the newly minted governor took liberty to ad-lib during his first address.

Good morning, Maryland, and from the bottom of my heart, thank you for the honor you have bestowed upon me and Aruna.

President Ferguson, Speaker Jones, and Members of the Maryland General Assembly, thank you, all. It’s an honor to be your partner.

To all the state workers, and all who organized this inauguration, thank you. It’s an honor to be your colleague.

And to Governor Hogan: We are grateful for the kindness you, and your team, have shown throughout this transition. Thank you for your eight years of service to the state we both love.

To my friend Oprah Winfrey — a Maryland girl at heart — thank you for your gracious and generous introduction. And thank you for always being in my corner.

To my wife, Dawn, our daughter, Mia, and our son, James, you are my heart, my soul, and my everything.

As I stand here today, looking out over Lawyers’ Mall, at the memorial to Justice Thurgood Marshall, it’s impossible not to think about our past and our path.

We are blocks away from the Annapolis docks, where so many enslaved people arrived in this country against their will. And we are standing in front of a capitol building built by their hands.

We have made uneven and unimaginable progress since then. It is a history created by generations of people whose own history was lost, stolen, or never recorded. And it is a shared history – our history – made by people who, over the last two centuries, regardless of their origin story to Maryland, fought to build a state, and a country, that works for everybody.

There are two people who embody that spirit sitting right here, in the front row. Two extraordinary women named Hema and Joy.

Hema came to this country from India; Joy from Jamaica. They immigrated to America with hope in their hearts, not just for themselves, but for future generations.

Today, they are sitting here at the inauguration of their children as the Governor and Lieutenant Governor of the state that helped to welcome them.

To Aruna’s mother, Hema… and to my mom, Joy… you epitomize everything special about this state; You are proof that in Maryland, anything is possible.

Now yes, Aruna’s and my portraits are going to look a little different from the ones we’ve always seen in the capitol. But that’s not the point. This journey has never been about “making history.” It is about marching forward.

Today is not an indictment of the past; it’s a celebration of our future.

And today is our opportunity to begin a future so bright, it is blinding.

But only if we are intentional, inclusive, and disciplined in confronting challenges, making hard choices, and seizing the opportunity in front of us.

Our state is truly remarkable. From my birthplace of Montgomery County… to my adoptive home of Baltimore City…From the sandy beaches of the Eastern Shore… to the rolling hills of Western Maryland… and everywhere in between.

Maryland is home to spectacular natural beauty, dynamic industries, and people as talented as they are determined.

But…the truth is: Maryland is asset-rich and strategy-poor.

And for too long, we have left too many people behind.

We know it is unacceptable that while Maryland has the highest median income in the country, one in eight of our children lives in poverty.

We know it is unacceptable that in the home of some of the best medical institutions on the planet, that more than 250,000 Marylanders lack healthcare coverage.

We’ve been asked to accept that some of us must be left behind. That in order for some to win, others must lose.

And not only that: We have come to expect that the people who have always lost… will keep losing.

Well, we must refuse to accept that.

Instead, I am asking you to believe that Maryland can be different.

That Maryland can be bold.

That Maryland can lead.

It is time for our policies to be as bold as our aspirations—and to confront the fact that we have been offered false choices.

We do not have to choose between a competitive economy and an equitable one.

Maryland should not be 43rd in unemployment, or 44th in the cost of doing business.

We should not tolerate an 8-to-1 racial wealth gap, not because it hurts certain groups, but because it prevents all of us from reaching our full potential.

We can attract and retain top industries, like aerospace, clean energy, and cybersecurity… and raise our minimum wage to $15 an hour to help folks feed their families.

Maryland can reward entrepreneurs who take bold risks… and provide stability for families in need.

This can be the best state in America to be an employer and an employee.

It shouldn’t be a choice — and it isn’t a choice. The path forward requires us to do these things together.

Now, here’s another false choice we often hear: That people must choose between feeling safe in their own communities, and feeling safe in their own skin.

Over the last eight years, the rate of violent crime has risen. Many Marylanders have grown weary in their faith in government’s ability to keep them safe.

We can build a police force that moves with appropriate intensity and absolute integrity and full accountability, and embrace the fact that we can’t militarize ourselves to safety.

We can support our first responders who risk everything to protect us, and change the inexcusable fact that Maryland incarcerates more Black boys than any other state.

We will work with communities from West Baltimore to Westminster to share data so we can keep violent offenders off our streets. And we can welcome people who have earned a second chance back to our communities.

I know what it feels like to have handcuffs on my wrists. It happened to me when I was 11 years old. I also know what it’s like to mourn the victims of violent crime.

We do not have to choose between a safe state and a just state. Maryland can, and will, be both.

We are often told climate change is a problem for the future, or something you only have to worry about if you live on farmland or in a flood zone.

But climate change is an existential threat for our entire state, and it is happening now.

Confronting climate change represents another chance for Maryland to lead. We can be a leader in wind technology, in grid electrification, and clean transit.

We will protect our Chesapeake Bay, and address the toxic air pollution that chokes our cities. And we will put Maryland on track to generate 100 percent clean energy by 2035 — creating thousands of jobs in the process.

Clean energy will not just be part of our economy; clean energy will define our economy.

This requires everyone — companies, communities, state and local governments, and the people — to take bold and decisive action, together.

And importantly, we do not have to choose between giving our children an excellent education and an equitable one.

We will ensure that every student knows their state loves, and needs them — and we will create policies to help them thrive.

We will invest in our special education students, our English language learners, our LGBTQIA+ students, students experiencing homelessness, and every kid who needs a little extra help.

We will see to it that mental and behavioral health challenges do not prevent our children from getting the education they need and deserve.

And while Maryland is home to some of the world’s greatest institutions of higher education — a fact of which we should be very proud — we must end the myth that young people must attend one of them to be successful.

Every student in Maryland will know that there are many paths to success and fulfillment — and those paths begin with high-quality, highly inclusive schools from Pre-K to 12th grade.

My own journey started in military school, where I learned one of my core values: Service. I went on to lead soldiers in Afghanistan.

My years of service transformed me. My character was strengthened, my vistas were widened, my leadership was tested.

I want every young Marylander, of every background, in every community, to have the opportunity to serve our state. That is why we will offer a service year option for all high school graduates.

A year of service will prepare young people for their careers — and provide our state with future leaders: public servants we desperately need.

The challenges we face will require us to answer the call of service. To join the ranks of our teachers and our firefighters, our police officers and our civil servants, our nurses, and union members.

You’ve elected me to serve as your Governor, but the work, will be done together. Now there will be skeptics, who will say that we cannot rise above the toxic partisanship we see all too often in today’s politics, where people care more about where the idea came from than is it a good idea. Those voices told me at the beginning of my campaign, “You don’t understand how politics works.” To them I said and I say, “We must govern on big principles instead of petty differences.”

To them I said and I say, we must form broad coalitions that bring people together rather than scare them.  I said and I say, the urgency of the moment demands a different way of serving the people.

While I led paratroopers, do you know what question I never asked my soldiers, what’s your political party?

I will govern the same way: For all Marylanders. For those who did not vote for me, I will work to earn your support; for those who did, I will work to keep it.

Now, to work together, it means we must also get to know each other again. To come together across lines of difference –– both real and perceived –– to build uncommon coalitions.

Because the simple fact is we need each other; we all have a role to play.

And that’s the lesson from generations before us.  We are being called on to come together so we can march forward.

“And let us march on til victory is won.“

But understanding that today is not the victory –– today is the opportunity.

An opportunity to lead with love. An opportunity To create with compassion. An opportunity  To fight fearlessly for our future.

Maryland: our time is now. Our time is now to build a state that those who came before us fought for, a state that leaves no one behind.

That is not a slogan; it is a fulfillment of a hope.

It’s our time, Maryland. Let’s lead.

Thank you.


Wes Moore to be sworn in as Md. governor on Frederick Douglass’s Bible

By Joe Heim

Wes Moore’s left hand will rest on history Wednesday when he takes the oath of office and becomes Maryland’s first Black governor and only the third Black governor elected in the history of the United States.

Underneath his palm as he swears to “bear true allegiance to the State of Maryland, and support the Constitution and Laws thereof” will be a Bible that once belonged to Frederick Douglass, a Marylander born into slavery who later escaped to freedom and became a leading voice of abolition and an enduring champion of equality and justice he never saw fully realized.

Moore, who describes himself as a student of Douglass, said including the Douglass Bible in the ceremony would deliver symbolic heft to the day but that he had no idea whether it would even be possible to arrange. The moment the Democratic governor-elect learned the National Park Service had approved his request was “breathtaking,” Moore said in an interview Friday.

“I’m not just an admirer, but someone who is a true connoisseur of his life, of his teachings, of his writings,” Moore said. “And I’ve wondered what he would think about this moment, particularly with his life, with his sacrifice, with his frustrations.”

Moore, a political newcomer who ran for governor on a pledge to “leave no one behind” and a platform of ending child poverty and broadening economic opportunity for all Marylanders, said he believes Douglass would be proud of the state for achieving a goal that seemed out of reach when Douglass was alive. But he also said the venerated anti-slavery activist, who called on America to live up to its promises of freedom and equality, would not take satisfaction that the work was complete.

In Md., Black people poised to occupy four critical positions of power

“I think he would caution that the swearing in and the inauguration is not the task,” Moore said. “It’s a powerful statement that the state made. But if you don’t do anything with this moment and you don’t do anything with the statement, then you’ve missed the point.”

The well-worn Bible, embossed with “Frederick Douglass” on the front, is part of the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site museum collection, cared for by the National Park Service. For the swearing in ceremony, it will be in a specially designed protective container held by Moore’s wife, Dawn. Only the new governor’s hand will touch it.

The Bible was a gift to Douglass in 1889 from the congregation of Washington’s Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church, one of the oldest Black churches in the District. It was presented to Douglass as he prepared to travel to Haiti, where he would serve as President Benjamin Harrison’s U.S. resident minister and consul general until July 1891, according to information provided by the Park Service.

“The history of Frederick Douglass’s Bible transcends his work in the United States, and it encompasses an additional window into understanding his international battle for equal rights,” said Aaron Treadwell, an assistant pastor at Metropolitan AME Church from 2013 to 2017 and now an assistant professor of history at Middle Tennessee State University.

The Bible, Treadwell said, “ was thought to be a tool of protection in his international travels, but it also was a symbol to warrant his inclusion in the fight for uplift in Haiti.”

David W. Blight, a history professor at Yale and author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning biography “Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom” said he thinks Douglass “would be deeply honored” by Moore’s decision to take the oath of office on his Bible.

“Though Douglass’s actual personal faith changed over time, he never, ever stopped using the Bible,” Blight said. “Especially the Old Testament, especially for wisdom, for storytelling, and literally for quote after quote after quote.”

Blight noted that Douglass professed a deep love for Maryland, even though he had spent his youth enslaved there. After escaping slavery in 1838 and fleeing north to freedom, Douglass wouldn’t return to Maryland until after the passage of a new constitution in Maryland that banned slavery in 1864.

Once slavery was banned, Blight said, “Douglass announced, ‘I am going back to Baltimore, to the soil of my birth, to the free state of Maryland.’ And he did. He went back to Fells Point. And he spoke at the Bethel AME Church, which is one of the places he had worshiped as [an enslaved]teenager.”

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Moore, who was born in Takoma Park and now lives in Baltimore, finds a source of strength in Douglass’s deep ties to his home state.

“No matter where he went, not just around the country but around the world, he always was a proud Marylander,” Moore said. “And there is a beauty to that, to have such a love and such a fondness for a place and space that never, never during his lifetime really understood or cherished his value.”

Douglass’s Bible isn’t the only one Moore is bringing to Wednesday’s ceremony. He also will have his grandfather’s Bible, which his children will hold during the swearing-in ceremony. If Douglass’s Bible represents Maryland and the nation’s journey from slavery to freedom to leadership, Moore’s grandfather’s Bible is for him a more personal but no less important reminder of the Black American experience.

James Thomas, Moore’s grandfather on his mother’s side, was born in South Carolina to parents who had come to America from Jamaica. But the family returned to Jamaica after his great-grandfather, a minister, was threatened by the Ku Klux Klan, Moore said.

Though scared away from America, Moore said, his grandfather wanted to return because it was the land of his birth and he felt he belonged here. As a teenager, James Thomas did come back to the United States and attended Lincoln University in Pennsylvania.

He later moved to New York, where he eventually became the first Black minister in the Reformed Church in America, Moore said. After Moore’s father died when Moore was a young boy, his mother moved the family to New York to live with her parents, and that’s where Moore forged a deep bond with his grandfather and his grandfather’s faith.

“I love his Bible because it is literally a workbook,” Moore said. “It has tape that holds it together. There is writing all over it. Literally questions that he’s asking. And I love it because it always gives me a sense of how he thinks.”

Thomas died in late 2005 while Moore was serving in the Army in Afghanistan. The idea that his Bible will be part of the swearing-in ceremony would make his grandfather proud, Moore said, but, like Douglass, he would not have a sense that the job was done. Moore thinks that as the first Black clergy member of the Reformed Church, his grandfather could give him advice on being the first Black governor of Maryland. And he thinks he knows what that advice would be.

“While he was a first, he did not want that to be the thing that people remembered most, and I think I very much approach it the same way,” Moore said. “I’m cognizant of the fact that I am first in the state of Maryland and one of less than a handful in this country’s history. But I think that when it’s time for me to pass the baton on, I want that to be something mentioned as an afterthought. So that we talk about all the work that got done and, oh, by the way, he was the first Black governor in the history of Maryland.”


Montgomery County youth overdoses increased 77% in 2022

By Nicole Asbury.  Washington Post Jan 22 2023

Officials are warning of the dangers of opioids — specifically fentanyl — after a 15-year-old student recently died of a suspected overdose

A 15-year-old Montgomery County Public Schools student is the latest young person to die of an overdose, county officials said this week, prompting warnings to students and families about the dangers of opioid use, particularly fentanyl.

Youth overdoses — which include those by people under the age of 21 — spiked in the D.C. suburb in 2022, rising 77 percent. There were 48 youth overdoses last year, 11 of which were fatal, according to data from the Montgomery County Police Department.

In 2021, there were 27 reported youth overdoses; five were fatal.

The overdose numbers among young people are similar to those in other local jurisdictions, including Prince George’s and Prince William counties, where police and school officials have alsowarned about the use of illicit drugs by this age group. Prince George’s County Public Schools started a countywide education campaign earlier this school year, after three students died of suspected overdoses.

“Every time a parent in our community loses a child, I feel it twice — once as superintendent, and second as a parent,” Monifa B. McKnight, superintendent of Montgomery County Public Schools, said during a news conference Thursday.

Officials from Montgomery County’s police department, school district, county council and state’s attorney’s office announced the rollout of a campaign to teach students and parents the pitfalls of using illegal drugs and how to find help for young people battling addiction.

McKnightadvised community members to create safe environments for young people to share what pressures they may be experiencing and why they may be seeking out substances. “We actually have to solve the problem all the way back there,” she said.

Getting that help for troubled youths is critical, said parent Elena Suarez, who shared her daughter Collette Russ’s story. Russ — who graduated from Montgomery’s Winston Churchill High School in 2019 — died of an accidental overdose when she was 19, Suarez said.

Russ was introduced to illegal drugs during a vulnerable time after experiencing sexual trauma during a spring break trip, Suarez said.

Less than two years later, on Aug. 26, 2020, Russ died after ingesting a fentanyl-laced substance.

“She was very funny; she was hysterical,” Suarez said. “I miss her laughter, her silliness, our dancing together.”

There’s a horrible stigma attached to addiction and substance users, she said. “What we need is more compassion and compassionate care and to get help for our loved ones.”

Within the county, typically, young people have mistakenly ingested fentanyl by taking counterfeit pills they believed to be Xanax, Percocet or another drug, Montgomery County Police Chief Marcus Jones said. But a more recent trend suggests youths are intentionally buying and using straight fentanyl.

A majority of the overdose incidents that police have responded to have been at residences, Jones said, but there have been some at schools. The school system’s community engagement officers will conduct more checks in schools to prevent these incidents from occurring, Jones said. The police department is also joining with school staff in presentations to each school principal on fentanyl and opioid overdoses.

Patricia Kapunan, MCPS’s medical officer, said parents should learn how to recognize signs of substance abuse, trauma and mental health problems. All residents, she said, should learn about naloxone — a lifesaving overdose antidote — and how to administer it.

Montgomery County’s state’s attorney, John McCarthy (D), encouraged youths to call 911 if someone is overdosing, even if there are drugs in the room. He pledged to follow the good Samaritan law, which protects people assisting in an emergency overdose situation from arrest and prosecution.

“Make the call; save your friend,” he said.


Maryland Gov.-elect Moore proposes ‘gap year’ for high school graduates

Gov.-elect Wes Moore picks Fagan Harris, co-founder of Baltimore Corps, as  chief of staff – Baltimore Sun

FREDERICK, Md. (DC NEWS NOW) — On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Maryland’s governor-elect Wes Moore proposed graduating high school seniors take a so-called “gap year” to work in their communities on a broad range of projects.

They would be paid $15,000 and be eligible for a $6,000 college scholarship after helping with a variety of needs in urban neighborhoods and rural areas. Moore said it would bring youth from diverse racial and economic backgrounds together for a common good.

On the other hand, some say that compulsory military service may be preferred.

“These future leaders can work on the environment or serving older adults — it is their choice, but it helps address the college affordability crisis. I believe in experiential learning and this will create a pipeline into the workplace,” said Moore.Health care premiums increasing: how much more DMV residents will pay

Guy Mutchler, a Frederick resident, said he favors compulsory military service.

“It is extremely important,” he said. “It builds character. It builds discipline, and it will prepare them for the workforce.”

Iowa and California have similar programs, but they are limited to conservation projects. The Maryland General Assembly leaders indicate strong support for Gov.-elect Moore’s proposal.

4 Surprising Reads for Martin Luther King Jr. Day

There is much to be learned about Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movements beyond memorable public events such as this 1957 Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom in Washington, D.C.

MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. remains a towering figure, known around the country and the world for his civil rights activism and moving speeches. But his story is not completely written, and we still have much to learn about the man and the cause. In honor of MLK Day 2023, here are four stories from the Atlas Obscura archives that delve into often-overlooked—or long hidden—aspects of the civil rights movement, from King’s dedication to another cause to the people who supported his efforts and the government agents who surveilled them.

Each spring, the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial in Washington D.C is surrounded by Japanese cherry blossoms.
Each spring, the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial in Washington D.C is surrounded by Japanese cherry blossoms. RON COGSWELL/FLICKR

Why MLK Day Is a Big Deal in Hiroshima

Martin Luther King Jr. was also outspoken against nuclear weapons.

On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, thousands of Americans join parades, volunteer, or just take a few minutes to contemplate the legacy of a man devoted to peace and equality. Odds are, at least a few people in Japan do, too–thanks to a former Hiroshima mayor who was also an MLK superfan. “Hiroshima is one of the only cities outside North America to honor Martin Luther King Day,” historian Patrick Parr says. The relationship highlights a lesser-known part of King’s legacy, his anti-nuclear activism.

The Underground Kitchen That Funded the Civil Rights Movement

Georgia Gilmore’s cooking fueled Martin Luther King Jr.’s Montgomery bus boycott.

“Martin Luther King often talked about the ground crew, the unknown people who work to keep the plane in the air,” Thomas E. Jordan, pastor of the Lilly Baptist Church in Montgomery, reflected in an oral history. One of those people was Georgia Gilmore, who played a pivotal role in the Montgomery bus boycott by organizing an underground network of Black women who sold pound cakes, sweet potato pies, and plates of fried fish and stewed greens door-to-door to raise money. “She was not really recognized for who she was,” Jordan said, “but had it not for been people like Georgia Gilmore, Martin Luther King Jr. wouldn’t have been who he was.

Just a few of the hundreds of thousands who attended the 1963 March on Washington.
Just a few of the hundreds of thousands who attended the 1963 March on Washington. NAID 542003 / PUBLIC DOMAIN

Sold: Papers From the Planning of the 1963 March on Washington

They tell a ground-level story of how the movement led to social change.

The study and sweep of history tends to turn real life into myth. In hindsight we imagine it unfolding in grainy footage set to a sweeping cinematic score. Such is often the case with the iconic images of the 1963 March on Washington. But documents and memos from organizers of that unforgettable day show just how much planning and attention to detail went into ensuring the success of the peaceful event. They are a surprisingly prosaic reminder of the local, personal level at which world history is made.

Peek Inside the 1977 Report Detailing FBI Misconduct While Surveilling Martin Luther King Jr.

A review of the bureau’s assassination investigation uncovered an illegal counterintelligence program.

In January 1977, FBI director Clarence M. Kelley received a much-anticipated memo from the Office of Professional Responsibility, informing him that the Martin Luther King Task Force had completed its investigation. Its work revealed the extent of the Bureau’s “surveillance and harassment” of King at the behest of J. Edgar Hoover.


Call for National Service

” The political spectrum is not a straight line. It is more like the Greek letter omega, with the left and right extremes bending toward each other. The common denominators of the hippies and the MAGA militias are a delusional pessimism about our country and a warped emphasis on individual expression — on freedom, that most seductive and dangerous of democratic principles — with no corresponding regard for responsibilities.”…

“In the end, the one thing the armies of the American left and right may have most in common is a weakness for performance art. We are the luckiest people in human history. The overwhelming majority of us — evenmany of those who have suffered the scourge of bigotry — have never experienced war or privation. And so we invent our demons. According to Mogelson, 23 percent of Republicans believe that “the government, media, and financial worlds in the U.S. are controlled by a group of Satan-worshipping pedophiles who run a global sex-trafficking operation.” That could happen only in a country with too much leisure time on its hands.

The recommendations of the Jan. 6 committee’s final report are numerous and worthy — such as reform of the Electoral Count Act (since passed) and the criminal referrals of Trump and others to the Justice Department — but incomplete. There is nothing to address the nation’s viral playacting, the elitist posturing of the left and the nativism of the right. There is nothing to encourage the rigor and unity that Mailer’s generation experienced in the U.S. Army. So I wonder: Would it be too much to suggest the need for a universal boot camp as a coming-of-age experience where, under muscular duress, we might get to know each other again, followed by a requisite period of national service that is not necessarily military? Democracy demands effort and sacrifice, as well as freedom within limits, especially in a multifarious society. In our affluence, we ask nothing of substance from one another, and nothing of significance from ourselves. It is hard to imagine how a republic can be maintained under those circumstances.”

Joe Klein is the author of seven books, including “Primary Colors” and, most recently, “Charlie Mike.”


AmeriCorps CEO Statement on Unity through Service to Honor MLK Day

WASHINGTON, DC – To commemorate Martin Luther King, Jr., Day of Service, AmeriCorps CEO Michael D. Smith released the following statement:  

“Martin Luther King, Jr., Day is the only federal holiday designated as a National Day of Service to encourage all Americans to volunteer to honor the life and legacy of Dr. King by improving their communities.  

“While today may hold just one day on the calendar, we know that volunteering—even just once—can spark a lifetime of service. Helping a child learn to read could spark a lifetime passion for mentoring. Planting a community food garden could give young families their first access to fresh fruits and vegetables. Driving an older neighbor to their doctor appointments could reverse the effects of loneliness and depression.   

“When we unite in service, we have the power to reimagine and reform systems that perpetuate inequality and deny opportunity. Service takes us on a path from charity to justice and brings us one step closer to Dr. King’s vision of creating the Beloved Community—one in which no one is left behind.  

“National service programs also can help create a more level playing field, opening doors to opportunities to try new careers, develop new skills, and meet new people so that a zip code where you are born does not limit your full potential.   

“And critically, service brings us together. National service and volunteering are some of the best tools to build bridges, heal divides, and help people find common ground, so that we can remain strong against anything that tries to divide us. 

“Now is the time to unite through service and volunteering to counter the corrosive effects of hate-fueled violence on our democracy and create a shared vision for a more united America. Let us come together and find new ways to engage our communities and spark a newfound sense of belonging.  

“Even though we’re living through challenging times, I have never been more optimistic about the power and potential of service to tackle critical problems and drive more equitable solutions.  

“This MLK Day of Service, AmeriCorps and the Biden Harris Administration invite people from all corners of the country to engage with your community, volunteer your time, and act on Dr. King’s legacy of social justice and equity, today and all year through.   

“Together, we can strengthen ties to our communities and build a more united, more just future for America.” 


AmeriCorps, the federal agency for national service and volunteerism, provides opportunities for Americans to serve their country domestically, address the nation’s most pressing challenges, improve lives and communities, and strengthen civic engagement. Each year, the agency places more than 250,000 AmeriCorps members and AmeriCorps Seniors volunteers in intensive service roles; and empowers millions more to serve as long-term, short-term, or one-time volunteers. Learn more at AmeriCorps.gov.

AmeriCorps offers opportunities for individuals of all backgrounds to be a part of the national service community, grow personally and professionally, and receive benefits for their service.