Tourette's Syndrome

My son and I just went nightswimming in our pool.  The floodlights went off, and I looked up towards the trees and saw the fireflies blinking all over the place.  I looked at all those fireflies and I just paused for a moment.  I thought about all my son has experienced in his life, the hopes and the highs, the downs and the lows, and what it all must mean to him.  My definition of success is much different than his.  When I was his age, college seemed like an eternity away, but I knew it was something I wanted.  For my son, success is sometimes just getting through a day.

I spoke with him earlier today about his tics, and how they feel.  He told me all about his recent tics.  I asked him how hard it is to hold them back, and he told me “I don’t even try anymore.  What’s the point?”  I was so proud of him at that moment.  He is learning to accept what life has thrown at him.  I know it’s not an easy road for him.  Every time he meets someone new, especially his peers, there comes a time when the dreaded conversation has to happen.  About Tourette’s and the tics.  Tics are a lot like energy.  You can try to stop it, but it will always get released.  Sometimes it becomes something different, or it comes out faster.  But eventually, it will happen.

I never dreamed I would have a son with special needs.  His needs aren’t even close to the severity that other folks have, but they are there still the same.  Am I overprotective at times? Lord yes!  If I’m not, or my wife isn’t, who will be?  But sometimes I have to let him spread his wings and fly.  After many years of trying, he finally learned to ride a bike a couple weeks ago.  Since then, he has fallen and received a few scrapes and bruises, but he always gets back up again.  The need to try is greater than the fear.  My little boy is growing up.  Too fast for my liking, but every parent goes through this.

I am watching him now, playing Xbox with a friend, and he is ticcing away.  To this observer, it looks painful, but it isn’t for him.  Trust me, he would tell me.  I’m proud of my little man.  He has come such a long way since this time last year.  Back then, his fear was his constant companion.  It’s still there, but it doesn’t rule his life the way it used to.  I think everyone should have a little fear, otherwise we would do anything we wanted.  And that’s not always a good thing.

My house has other children in it all the time now.  Children who accept him for who he is.  Children who don’t think he is weird or contagious.  I am so grateful this is happening.  Friends are so important to him, and he needs them.  My son has no siblings which was another thing life threw our way.  Sometimes, Mom and Dad aren’t enough.  Sometimes we’re just the “old” people who don’t have a clue.  I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Tonight, I think I’m going to leave him and his friend to have fun, go outside, and watch the fireflies.

Parent Opt-Out Legislation for Severely Cognitively Impaired Students Passed by Senate, House Bill 229**Updated** #netde #edude

Smarter Balanced Assessment

See my notes further below, but there is more to this bill than meets the eye.

The Season Of Myths

This bill would allow for students with either autism, multiple disabilities or a moderate or severe intellectual disability to potentially be opted out of state standardized assessments.  But the caveat here is only the parent can request it.  In lieu of the standardized test, a parent would request a “portfolio review” to show student progress.  No member of a school or IEP team can request this.  Another key part is the child must have an IQ of 50 or less.

Another important part attached to this bill deals with children with dyslexia or an inability to read by the age of 7.  The way it is worded is a little bit confusing.  It looks to me like if a child isn’t reading by age 7 they should have an IEP.  As well, it pretty much says those children would have automatic Extended School Year services in their IEP unless there…

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Special Education Statistics Part II: Red Clay and Charters Vs Publics #netde #edude @ed_in_de @KilroysDelaware @destateboarded @dedeptofed

Delaware Special Education

So after I did my grades on all the schools for the percentage of the student populations that are special needs, I noticed some alarming trends, especially in Newcastle County in Delaware.  This county has the bulk of the charter schools in this state, and some of the lowest special education populations in the state.

Red Clay Consolidated School District is a very unique school district in this state.  Included in the district are the charter schools that reside within.  Of course, I have to start with my most talked-about charter school, the good old Charter School of Wilmington.  With their underwhelming .6% special ed population.  I know, it’s a “smart” school, with an application process that probably makes Yale or Harvard look easy.  But, many special needs students are smart, some are brilliant.  They just need to be fully accommodated to reach that potential.  I don’t think CSW wants to give that kind of attention to itself.  Or to special needs students.  So what would happen if CSW all of a sudden came to their senses and started accepting a lot more special needs students.  Does that mean other schools would actually drop in special ed?  Schools like A.I. Dupont High School (17.1%), Dickinson (17.5%) or McKean (20.2%)?  We can’t put that much weight on CSW.  So let’s take a look at the other charter schools in the area.  Delaware Military Academy has a 2.8% population for special ed and Delaware College Prep lands at 4.1%.  Delaware College Prep is an elementary school, so we can’t compare that to other high schools.  But to be fair, let’s include Conrad School Of Science (2.9%) and Calloway School of the Arts (2.5%).  These are all the high schools in Red Clay Consolidated.  So what conclusions can be drawn from this?  The bulk of special needs children are served at the public high schools.  There are no charter elementary schools in Red Clay Consolidated.  Why is that?  Would it be too difficult to filter the “good” and the “potential trouble spot” students?  Let’s not forget, the state average is 13.5%.  So the public schools get the majority of the special ed students, thus bearing more of the financial cost through needs based funding.

To accurately see this reality, we would need to look at each school’s federal funding.  Unfortunately none of the schools give a breakdown between the subgroups that fall under federal funding.  The IDEA-B funding that schools receives are what covers special education in schools.  If anyone can provide this information, I would love to see it.

All federal funding for any type of public school in Delaware falls under Title I (for students listed as poverty) and IDEA-B (all special education funds).  Any school district should separate the two in their financial statements.  Charter School of Wilmington does not.  So it is impossible to find out how much they get for IDEA-B funding based on their total actual revenue from federal funding of $83,412.  The same can be said of Delaware Military Academy.  No breakdown on their federal funds, but they did receive a total of $156,301.96, almost twice as much as CSW.  Red Clay does not give an exact breakdown of their federal IDEA-B funding either, but they do give a breakdown of the special education units that falls under needs based funding, so I would have to calculate what that amount comes to.  I will do that and then I will  update this article.  Or again, if anyone wants to provide that information I would be happy to accept it!

The bottom line is a huge enrollment preference that is disproportionately unfair to Red Clay’s public schools. School choice allows parents to switch their children to different schools.  But when the charter schools ask for IEP/Special Education info on the applications, some parents may view this as a positive when the reality is a game.  The charter schools frequently use this information to weed out the undesirables.  So much so that a bill was introduced today by House Rep Darryl Scott to prevent this very sort of event from happening.

Bill Introduced Today To Get Rid Of Charter School Enrollment Preference #netde #edude

Charter School Enrollment Preference

They sure are working fast down in Legislative Hall today.  Darryl Scott is not seeking re-election so I applaud his desire for charter schools to stop cherry-picking who they want at their schools.  I’ve been writing about this topic a lot recently, and my next post shows exactly why it is a disgusting practice.

Section 1.  Amend § 403, Title 14 of the Delaware Code by making deletions as shown by strike through and insertions as shown by underline as follows:

§ 403. Pupil application; withdrawal.

(a) Any parent of a school age child may apply to enroll that parent’s own child in a school or program in a receiving local education agency by submitting a written application, on a standard form provided by the Department of Education, to the Department of Education or to the receiving district and to the district of residence on or before the second Wednesday in January for enrollment during the following school year, except that a parent may apply to a receiving district until the first day of the school year for enrollment in a kindergarten program during that school year. The Department of Education shall distribute applications to the appropriate receiving local education agency no later than 10 working days after the application deadlines set forth in this subsection. Receiving districts may require the submission of information beyond that contained in the standard form provided that it requires the submission of the same information by the parents of children residing in the attendance zone for the school. Vocational technical districts may also require information that substantiates a student’s eligibility to enter their applied grade level and an interest or designation of ordered interest in specific career and technical education (CTE) fields. Notwithstanding the requirements of this subsection, charter schools may accept applications submitted after the second Wednesday in January.

Section 2.  Amend § 405, Title 14 of the Delaware Code by making deletions as shown by strike through and insertions as shown by underline as follows:

§ 405. Criteria for approval or disapproval.

(a) Each receiving district receiving local educational agency shall adopt and make available a policy regarding the order in which applications for enrollment pursuant to this chapter shall be considered and the criteria by which such applications shall be evaluated. The criteria should outline the procedures for lottery when more applications are received than choice seats available. Those procedures may not include a ranking of applicants based on test scores, grades, discipline infractions, or any other academic or behavioral criteria, but may allow for separate lotteries for specific career and technical education fields.

Section 3.  Amend § 506, Title 14 of the Delaware Code by making insertions as shown by underlining and deletions as shown by strike through as follows:

§ 506 Restrictions.

(b) Preferences in student admissions may be given to:

(1) Siblings of students currently enrolled at the school;

(2) Students attending an existing public school converted to charter status. Parents of students at a school converted to charter status shall be provided with a plan the district will use to address the educational needs of students who will not be attending the charter school;

(3) Students enrolling in a new (nonconverted) charter school may be given preference under the following circumstances as long as the school has described its preferences in the school’s charter:

a. Students residing within a 5-mile radius of the school;

b. a. Students residing within the regular school district in which the school is located;

c. Students who have a specific interest in the school’s teaching methods, philosophy, or educational focus;

d. b. Students who are at risk of academic failure;

e. c.  Children of persons employed on a permanent basis for at least 30.0 hours per week during the school year by the charter school.

(4)  Children of a school’s founders, so long as they constitute no more than 5% of the school’s total student population. For the purposes of this paragraph “founder” shall not include anyone whose sole significant contribution to the school was monetary, but otherwise shall be determined by the founding Board of Directors subject to Department of Education regulations.

Section 4.  The effective date of this Act shall be November 1, 2014.



This bill eliminates the ability of charter schools to give an enrollment preference to students who have a specific interest in the school’s teaching methods, philosophy, or educational focus, or who are within a five-mile radius. It also requires that admission to vocational-technical high schools be determined by a lottery system.

First Legislative Day Introduces Bill To Ban Common Core in Delaware #netde #edude

Common Core

Wow, that didn’t take long. I applaud Senator Dave Lawson for introducing this bill so quickly. It’s about time someone stepped up to do the right thing. Common Core invaded our schools, and the Federal intervention has changed everything. Read the text here:

147th General Assembly
Senate Bill # 269

Primary Sponsor: Lawson
CoSponsors: { NONE…}
Introduced on : 07/01/2014
Synopsis of Original Bill:
(without Amendments) We suspend all Delaware Department of Education support, training, or adherence to the Common Core Standards, materials, curriculum and training for teachers, school staff, or state employees of Delaware. Further, the Official Code of Delaware annotated, relating to competencies and core curriculum, will be amended so as to declare certain actions void ad initio relating to adoption of certain curricula; to prohibit state education agencies from entering into any commitments relating the federal Race to the Top program and or Common Core standards, curricula, testing, or standards, and to cease all use of Race to the Top and Common Core programs, curricula, and standards and require hearings and public input on both programs. Also, this law will amend Title 14 to stop the compilation and sharing of personal student and teacher data to prohibit the expenditure of funds for a state-wide longitudinal data system except for administrative needs and federal grant compliance, to provide notice to students and teachers if certain student data are provided to the United States Department of Education as a condition of receiving federal education grant, to provide for related matters, to repeal conflicting law, and for other purposes.

Current Status: Senate Education Committee On 07/01/2014

Full text of Legislation:
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Full text of Legislation:
(in MS Word format) Legis.Docx (Microsoft Word is required to view this document.)

Fiscal Notes/Fee Impact: Not Required
Actions History: Jul 01, 2014 – Assigned to Education Committee in Senate