DELAWARE SPECIAL NEEDS PARENTS: IEP TASK FORCE NEEDS YOU!!! Diane Eastburn wants to hear what is needed to change IEP process in Delaware! #netde #eduDE @KilroysDelaware @ed_in_de @TNJ_malbright

Diane Eastburn is the Kent County parent representative for the IEP Task Force, meeting for the first time this Thursday, September 4th, in Dover and Wilmington. Diane has a message for all special needs parents:

I am committed to doing everything I can to make the process better for Delaware students and parents. If you would like to contact me, I have provided my email address, Cedarridge90@aol.com or another contact for me is my home phone 302-653-4216. I will take calls 9am – 8pm, but since this is a holiday weekend I may be in and out – but I have an answering machine and would be happy to return any calls I may miss. Again, my goal is to make the IEP process better for everyone. Thank you again for your comments and feel free to share your thoughts. If people would like they may email thoughts and leave a phone number or email address so I may get back with them.

Please post this on your blog – the larger variety of people I hear from the larger voice I can help represent. This is all about fixing the process for our children and our parents. We need to remove the adversarial sides and make this a true team effort. IEP Team should be just that – a team, not a district against a parent. I also believe that we need accountability in the process.

This was exactly what I was looking for when I emailed every single House Representative and Senator in Delaware the evening they came out with Senate Concurring Resolution 63. I wanted outside parents on this task force, ones not involved in other groups. Diane Eastburn is just that, a regular parent, who has been through this process before, and helps others who have been in the same boat. I am confident Diane will be an awesome advocate for all our special needs children, so please try to contact her before Thursday. I am expecting heavy parent turnout at both locations, so public comment may be limited. If you can’t show up, please contact Diane and let her know what you feel is wrong in the process. If you have had IEPs denied, let her know that, and the reasons why it was denied. The only way we can change things is if we speak with one voice, and right now Diane has the microphone! All Delaware bloggers, please reblog this so we can get the widest audience possible!

Top Ten Countries Reading Exceptional Delaware

<a href=”http://www.bloglovin.com/blog/12791657/?claim=n65dyc4xrsy”>Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>

#1: United States

#2: Canada

#3: United Kingdom

#4: France

#5: Sweden

#6: Germany

#7: Romania

#8: Thailand

#9: Ukraine

#10: Paraguay

Some new countries enter the top 10 since I last did this a few weeks ago.  I still can’t get over some of the countries reading ye olde blog, but hey, I’ll take readers from any country!

Delaware DOE publishes Moyer charter school’s death-warrant re: closure!

Another DE charter school, partially done in by lack of services for special ed services. When are these knuckleheads going to learn?

US Secretary Of Education Arne Duncan Changes His Tune But Nobody Is Listening #netde #eduDE @KilroysDelaware @ed_in_de @DEStateBoardEd

Arne Duncan wrote a blog post on August 21st, 2014 with an about-face on many of his earlier stances about standardized testing.  Is this similar to the first blocks coming out of the Berlin Wall which led to the end of the Cold War?  I certainly hope so.  But what are Arne’s motivations here? Is this in response to his conversation with the Badass Teachers Association last month?  Is it cause Bill Gates is starting to walk away from all of this?  Or is he just talking the usual b.s. with the same intentions he has always had (think cha-ching)?  Read what he wrote, but after that go to the link provided below and read all the comments.  Not one of them is positive about what Duncan had to say!

A Back-to-School Conversation with Teachers and School Leaders

As teachers gear up for a new school year, I want to offer two thoughts. One is a message of celebration and thanks. The other is a response to a concern that has come up often in many conversations with teachers and families, and which deserves an answer.

First, the thanks. America’s students have posted some unprecedented achievements in the last year – the highest high school graduation rate in the nation’s history, and sharp cuts in dropout rates and increases in college enrollment, especially for groups that in the past have lagged significantly. For these achievements, we should celebrate America’s teachers, principals, and students and their families. These achievements are also indications of deeper, more successful relationships with our students. All of us who’ve worked with young people know how much they yearn for adults to care about them and know them as individuals.

These achievements come at a time of nearly unprecedented change in American education – which entails enormously hard work by educators. Nearly every state has adopted new standards, new assessments, new approaches to incorporating data on student learning, and new efforts to support teachers.

This transition represents the biggest, fastest change in schools nationwide in our lifetime. And these efforts are essential to prepare kids to succeed in an age when the ability to think critically and creatively, communicate skillfully, and manipulate ideas fluently is vital. I have heard from many teachers that they have not received all the support they’d want during this transition. Yet America’s teachers are making this change work – and I want to recognize and thank them for that and encourage their leadership in this time of change.

That’s the easy part of this message. The harder part has to do with concerns that many teachers have brought to my door.

My team and I hold regular conversations with teachers, principals and other educators, often led by Teacher and Principal Ambassador Fellows, who take a year away from their schools to advise my agency. Increasingly, in those conversations, I hear concerns about standardized testing.

Assessment of student progress has a fundamental place in teaching and learning – few question that teachers, schools and parents need to know what progress students are making. And few question the particular importance of knowing how our most vulnerable students are progressing. Indeed, there’s wide recognition that annual assessments – those required by federal law – have done much to shine a light on the places and groups of students most in need of help. Yet in too many places, it’s clear that the yardstick has become the focus.

There are three main issues I’ve heard about repeatedly from educators:

  1. It doesn’t make sense to hold them accountable during this transition year for results on the new assessments – a test many of them have not seen before – and as many are coming up to speed with new standards.
  2. The standardized tests they have today focus too much on basic skills, not enough on critical thinking and deeper learning.
  3. Testing – and test preparation – takes up too much time.

I share these concerns. And I want our department to be part of the solution.

To those who are reading the last sentence with surprise, let me be clear: assessment is a vital part of teaching and learning, but it should be one part (and only one part) of how adults hold themselves responsible for students’ progress. Schools, teachers and families need and deserve clear, useful information about how their students are progressing. As a parent of two children in public school, I know I want that. And in fact, most teachers and principals I talk with want to be held responsible for students’ progress – through a sensible, smart combination of factors that reflect their work with students – not the level students came in at, or factors outside of their control.

But assessment needs to be done wisely. No school or teacher should look bad because they took on kids with greater challenges. Growth is what matters. No teacher or school should be judged on any one test, or tests alone – always on a mix of measures – which could range from classroom observations to family engagement indicators. In Nevada, educators include a teacher’s contribution to the school community in their measures; in Hawaii, schools consider student feedback surveys and professional growth, such as leading workshops or taking university coursework). Educators in Delaware look at measures of planning and preparation such as lesson plans and descriptions of instructional strategies to be used for students with diverse needs. Federal policy rightly stays out of picking those individual measures, but ensures that in evaluating teachers, states and districts include student growth, and consider multiple measures.

But the larger issue is, testing should never be the main focus of our schools. Educators work all day to inspire, to intrigue, to know their students – not just in a few subjects, and not just in “academic” areas. There’s a whole world of skills that tests can never touch that are vital to students’ success. No test will ever measure what a student is, or can be. It’s simply one measure of one kind of progress. Yet in too many places, testing itself has become a distraction from the work it is meant to support.

I believe testing issues today are sucking the oxygen out of the room in a lot of schools – oxygen that is needed for a healthy transition to higher standards, improved systems for data, better aligned assessments, teacher professional development, evaluation and support, and more. This is one of the biggest changes education in this country has ever seen, and teachers who’ve worked through it have told me it’s allowed them to become the best teachers they’ve ever been. That change needs educators’ full attention.

That’s why – as I shared in a conversation with dozens of teachers at Jefferson Middle School in Washington, D.C. earlier today – we will be taking action in the coming weeks that give states more flexibility in key areas that teachers have said are causing worry.

States will have the opportunity to request a delay in when test results matter for teacher evaluation during this transition. As we always have, we’ll work with them in a spirit of flexibility to develop a plan that works, but typically I’d expect this to mean that states that request this delay will push back by one year (to 2015-16) the time when student growth measures based on new state assessments become part of their evaluation systems – and we will work with states seeking other areas of flexibility as well. We want to make sure that they are still sharing growth data with their teachers, and still moving forward on the other critical pieces of evaluation systems that provide useful feedback to educators.  We will be working in concert with other educators and leaders to get this right. These changes are incredibly important, and educators should not have to make them in an atmosphere of worry. Some states will choose to take advantage of that flexibility; others, especially those that are well along in this transition, will not need a delay. The bottom line is that educators deserve strong support as our schools make vital, and urgently needed, changes. As many educators have pointed out, getting this right rests also on high-quality assessments. Many educators, and parents, have made clear that they’re supportive of assessment that measures what matters – but that a lot of tests today don’t do that – they focus too much on basic skills rather than problem solving and critical thinking. That’s why we’ve committed a third of a billion dollars to two consortia of states working to create new assessments that get beyond the bubble test, and do a better job of measuring critical thinking and writing.

I’m concerned, too, when I see places where adults are gaming tests, rather than using them to help students.

And we also need to recognize that in many places, the sheer quantity of testing – and test prep – has become an issue. In some schools and districts, over time tests have simply been layered on top of one another, without a clear sense of strategy or direction. Where tests are redundant, or not sufficiently helpful for instruction, they cost precious time that teachers and kids can’t afford. Too much testing can rob school buildings of joy, and cause unnecessary stress. This issue is a priority for us, and we’ll continue to work throughout the fall on efforts to cut back on over-testing.

There’s plenty of responsibility to share on these challenges, and a fair chunk of that sits with me and my department. We encouraged states to move a whole lot of changes simultaneously, because of the enormous urgency to raise standards and improve systems of teacher support – not for another generation of students, but for today’s students.

But in how this change happens, we need to listen carefully to the teachers, principals and other educators who are living it on a daily basis – and we need to be true to our promise to be tight on outcomes, but loose on how we get there.

From my first day on this job, the objective has been to work in a spirit of flexibility to help states and communities improve outcomes for kids. We need to make changes, but we are also making progress. I’m determined that, working in partnership, we’ll continue to do both – be flexible and make progress for our kids.

Change is hard, and changes of significance rarely work exactly as planned. But in partnership, making course alterations as necessary, we will get there.

Arne Duncan is U.S. Secretary of Education.

To read the comments based on what Mr. Duncan said, go to http://www.ed.gov/blog/2014/08/a-back-to-school-conversation-with-teachers-and-school-leaders/comment-page-1/#comment-458590 You may just find a certain Delaware blogger’s name on there as well!  Sorry Arne, I’m not buying it.  It’s a little too late in the game for your  teamwork plea.  You took the football, stole it from your team, and ran out of the ballpark a long time ago.

Things To Know About Special Needs Families #netde #eduDE

With the release of the IEP Task Force membership, I’ve been hearing a lot of controversy about the membership.  I have stayed out of it, for the sole reason that many of these members have children with special needs.  They may belong to this group or that group, but we are all the same.  There are certainly people with influence, but I can’t think of any special needs parent who would sell the needs of their child down the river for the sake of another agenda.  To do so would be a mockery of everything this task force is about.  I believe, based on what I am hearing, that this task force will get to the real reasons why special education in our state is struggling so much.  But one thing I will never do is rip on families, no matter what is going on.  I post about a lot of things, but in my heart I am a parent first, and my son needs me.  He may not understand why I write a blog, but every word I write is for him and all the children in Delaware who are struggling with this.  Every investigation, every plea for help, is for all of them.   I would throw myself under a bus for my son if it meant he could have a better life.  That’s all any of us want.  So while this IEP Task Force is in session, please try to understand this.  Let’s face it, as things stand now, Delaware needs help.  Matt Denn has been a huge advocate for children with disabilities, and he is the best choice to lead this group.  Many of these children are unable to speak with their own voice, so that’s where the parents come in.  We can be loud, and forceful, and mad as hell.  But at the same time, if you have our back, you have a friend for life.   And no matter what our political or education beliefs are, we all have an unspoken bond that says we are there for each other because at the end of the day, it’s family first.

**UPDATED**Delaware, Meet Your IEP Task Force #netde #eduDE @KilroysDelaware @ed_in_de

UPDATED 8/29/14: We do have a Kent Country Representative!  Congrats to Diane Eastburn.  Diane has extensive background on IEPs as a special needs parent, caregiver, and an advocate for parents.  Diane is an excellent choice to represent Kent!

Thanks to the individual who sent me this list, but I did notice there is no Kent County parent rep.  As per Michele Rush at the DOE this person has not been finalized.

Members of the IEP Improvement Task Force
The Hon. Matthew Denn – Chair
Dr. Pam Atchison – Delaware Association of School Administrators
Marissa L. Band, Esq. – Delaware State Bar Association
Tracy Bombara – School service provider
Dafne Carnright – Governor’s Advisory Council on Exceptional Citizens
Tricia Dallas – Special education teacher
Bill Doolittle – Governor’s Advisory Council on Exceptional Citizens

Diane Eastburn-Kent County Representative
Rep. Debra Heffernan – House Majority Caucus
Mike Hoffmann – Delaware State Education Association
Seth Kopp – Special education teacher
Ruth Lavelle – New Castle County parent representative
Sen. Dave Lawson – Senate Minority Caucus
Laura Manges – Delaware Association of School Administrators
Maryann Mieczkowski – Department of Education
Rep. Joe Miro – House Minority Caucus
Sen. Nicole Poore – Senate Majority Caucus
Shawn Rowe – Developmental Disabilities Council
Howard Shiber – Governor’s Advisory Council on Exceptional Citizens
Meedra Surratte – Parent advocate
Jossette Threats – School service provider
Liz Toney – Delaware PTA
Karen Wagamon – Sussex County parent representative

And the Agenda for the first meeting:

IEP Improvement Task Force Agenda

September 4, 2014

1. Introductions

2. Expectations of task force

3. Identify problems in the existing IEP process

4. Subcommittees

5. Next meeting

6. Public Comment

Nothing was said about the location yet, but the rumor mill has shared that the Dover location may be the Collette Building.  I will certainly let all of you know once I hear something official.

 

 

Bullying Against Students With Disabilities in Delaware #netde #eduDE @KilroysDelaware @ed_in_de @DEStateBoardEd

In a study done in 2011 by the Delaware Developmental Disabilities Council on bullying, the council found that 3.2 million students are bullied every year on a national level, and 3.7 million students engage in bullying behavior. As well, each school day it is estimated that 160,000 students miss school because of bullying. These are alarming statistics, and unfortunately students with disabilities are often the victims of bullying. The report states “The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) guarantees all students and adults have access to a “free and appropriate” public education. If “peer-on-peer” harassment infringes on this right, then schools, parents and state entities must be prepared to advocate and intercede on behalf of bullying victims. This position statement outlines the DDC’s stance on bullying students with developmental disabilities and possible courses of action to limit further bullying.”

In the 2011-2012 school year, there were 549 substantiated (determined to be bullying by administration) incidents of bullying and 662 “substantiated” incidents. This report was made available to the public on 9/18/12. For the 2012-2013 school year, there were 713 substantiated incidents. That school year was the first where schools were obligated to report the number of alleged incidents, which was 2,446. While I’m sure there are some reports that may either be false accusations or not actual bullying, that still seems like a very huge amount of alleged bullying incidents not counting as substantiated bullying. The percentage rate between alleged reports and substantiated reports is a little over 29%. The 2013 report does show a breakdown, and out of the 713 incidents, it showed 32 were due to disability bullying.

But on February 19th, 2014, Lieutenant Governor Matt Denn and Attorney General Joseph Biden, III issued a report entitled Unfinished Business: Implementation by Delaware Public Schools of the State’s 2012 Anti-Bullying Laws. The report indicated most public schools were in compliance in regards to listing information about the state ombudsman of bullying, through the Attorney General office, on their websites. Most charter schools were not in compliance. The report stated “The most prevalent reported causes of bullying in Delaware public schools are students’ physical appearance, student disability, and student gender identity.”

The report cited a study done by the National Center for Education Statitistics which estimated 28% of middle school students are bullied. It went into more detail about the disability status, which showed 10% of the 713 reported bullying incidents in Delaware during the 2012-2013 school year were against a student with a disability which starkly contradicts the 4.48% reported by the DOE.

What none of these reports cover is the unspoken bullying. The students who are too afraid of retailiation and say nothing. This goes on every single day in schools. Students who would rather be mocked and ridiculed at a lower level than “snitch” and be retailiated against. Pacer’s National Bullying Prevention Centers cited on their website that 64% of bullying goes unreported.

For students with disabilities, this is immensely cruel. These students have a hard enough time with their disabilities, and then to have students tease them because of it? And to be so afraid to speak up about it? Unacceptable. They already know they are different, and then they feel like they are being punished for it. Pacer had some very shocking statistics in their reports. Among them were the following:

Statistics about bullying of students with disabilities

Only 10 U.S. studies have been conducted on the connection between bullying and developmental disabilities, but all of these studies found that children with disabilities were two to three times more likely to be bullied than their nondisabled peers. (Marshall, Kendall, Banks & Gover (Eds.), 2009).

Researchers discovered that students with disabilities were more worried about school safety and being injured or harassed by other peers compared to students without a disability (Saylor & Leach, 2009).

The National Autistic Society reports that 40 percent of children with autism and 60 percent of children with Asperger’s syndrome have experienced bullying.

When reporting bullying youth in special education were told not to tattle almost twice as often as youth not in special education (Davis and Nixon, 2010)

I went through many of the school district and charter school websites, and I found that the vast majority of them do have a list of potential reasons for the bullying, but many don’t show a section for disabilities.   So Delaware’s reporting of 10% of the bullying being against students with disabilities is most likely a much lower percentage than reality.  So it can be very difficult to understand why there are the two major discrepancies between the two reports.  I question the validity of any report of bullying against children with disabilities within the state of Delaware because of these factors.

Something needs to change. I have heard from many parents who report that schools are very resistant for education of a class in regards to a physical manifestation of a child’s disabilities. As a father of a son who has been bullied, it breaks my heart. Schools need to be aware that repeated offenses against children with disabilities can lead to civil rights investigations.

My advice to special needs parents of students with disabilities, do not wait one second when your child reports a bullying incident. Report it right away, in writing, and if the school’s form doesn’t include a “disability” section or any suspected reason checklist, write it down, apart from everything else so it stands out. If you don’t hear back from the school within 48 hours, go to the school with a pen and paper and ask to see the principal.  Write everything down!  The Delaware DOE is required to receive any bullying report from local school districts or charter schools within 5 business days (not school days) of any bullying incident (alleged or substantiated) so parents can certainly check with them to see if the school has been in compliance.

This is just one more thing children with special needs have to deal with on any given school day. The bullying needs to stop and teachers and school staff need to be watching and paying attention much more than they have been.

 

Florida District Becomes First in Nation to Opt Out of State Testing

The Lee County School Board is now my favorite school board in the country. Which school board in Delaware will replace them?

kavips

The Lee County school board, by a 3-2 vote Wednesday night, decided not to administer the FCAT, the standardized test that Florida requires of its students. Cheers and applause filled the packed auditorium after the vote was taken.

Can we get this on the agenda of all 19 districts here in Delaware?  

The district is opting out of ALL statewide standardized tests. “We cannot allow the fear to hold us back.””

If they can do it……………… 

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“That’s How I Know It’s About The Money”

Can I get an Amen? Anyone want to start a pool about which district in Delaware will do this first?

kavips

At the Lee County District Board of Education meeting last night, emotions came to a head when mother Lori Jenkins took the stand. She said her son was on leave from school due to a terminal heart condition, yet the district still sent someone to proctor the FCAT exam at his home. The audience gasped with disgust.

He’s terminal, he’s going to die, but he goes to school! He does the stupid remedial classes! That’s how I know this is all about money,” Jenkins yelled into the microphone before she hit her one-minute time limit and the audio was cut.

 

It’s all about money. It’s always been about the money. No one gives a damn whether kids learn or not. It’s all about the money. Nothing… but …. money.  Just money.,…  Only, money.

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Sneak Peak: Return to the Kingdom of Del, A Tale Of Christina #netde #eduDE @KilroysDelaware @ed_in_de

While Jon was dealing with his issues in the county of Kent, far away in the Kingdom of Del, up north and past the canal, lived a very special child in the county of Novus Castrum.  Within the walls of Novus Castrum, there were several districts, and the largest of them was Christina.  Many schools were housed within these borders, and many citizens of the Kingdom of Del lived in this area.  There were many schools for parents to choose, so the area became known for it’s many public schools and charter schools.  For the little girl named Maria, the choice was not so simple for her parents.  Maria’s loving mother and father knew she was very different from many of the other children her age.  You see, Maria was diagnosed as autistic.

This is the story of Maria’s journey, which isn’t over yet.  While Maria didn’t attend a charter school like Jon did, she did attend many different schools.  This is a story of impossible choices for Maria’s parents, Maria’s struggles, neglect, communication, and tragedy.  Maria and Jon have some things in common.  They were both children of the kingdom who lived their life with disabilities.   The tales are very similar, yet vastly different.  Words like inspection, fape, dap, special education, feeder, and communication all are very important to Maria’s story.  It’s a story of two parents attempts to get the best services for their daughter who had a very difficult disability and needed extra care and support.  Did she receive that?

To Be Continued….

Statistics and Parenting

As special needs parents, we are told things all the time. But nobody knows our children better than we do. We can get guidance and support, but at the end of the day, we know best for what makes our children who and what they are.

Emma's Hope Book

Fear.  I have grappled with fear my entire life.  I’m 54 years old.   You’d think I’d have figured out a magic formula to ward off fear by now…  but I have not.  However I have figured out some things that used to frighten me, but that no longer do.  Things like this:

“Among all autistics, 75 percent are expected to score in the mentally retarded range on standard intelligence tests — that’s an IQ of 70 or less.” ~ Wired Magazine 2008

“Roughly 25 percent of people with autism speak few or no words.” ~ SFARI 2013

These two quotes had not yet been written when my daughter was diagnosed, instead there were countless other “statistics” spoken and/or written as though fact, that terrified me.  I had not yet learned to question everything we were told about autism.  I had not yet realized that almost everything people said to us about autism…

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* Rubrics #3 Teaching social skills

This is an excellent blog from the perspective of a special education teacher. She knows her stuff! Social skills training is becoming more popular, and the trick to it is consistency. Well done!

Teachezwell Blog

This is my third post on the use of rubrics for instruction and assessment.  In this post I will review some effective ways to use rubrics for students who struggle with social skills.  Many of these student have been labeled as autistic (on the autism spectrum or as having a Pervasive Developmental Disorder).

Rubrics fit well into explicit and sequential instruction in social skills.  (Hey! Just as in phonics instruction!)   Using a case study approach, let me introduce you to Jonathan.  He was identified as having PDD in preschool.  He’s a bright kid who looks a lot like a miniature “professor.”  Jonathan is very rule-oriented and eager to please.  He is easily distracted by sounds and movement around him and is on medication for a diagnosed attention disorder.  He appears to be daydreaming much of the time.

When I first observed Jonathan in his classroom, he was sitting quietly but…

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The IEP Task Force: Who Is In Charge? The Legislators or the DOE? #netde #eduDE @DEStateBoard @Matt_Denn

The IEP Task Force begins next week.  In nine days.  With no public notice of a location and who the members on the task force even are.  I do know the following: Lieutenant Governor Matt Denn is the Task Force Chair, and Senators Poore and Lawson and House Representative Heffernan (whose husband is on the Delaware Board of Education and was the chair for the DOE Advisory Council for Special Education Improvement) are the designated members from Legislative Hall.  I’m not sure who the minority Republican House Rep will be, but it is required in the legislation.  I am hearing many differing reports on if the task force is fully staffed yet.  According to the DOE, it is. See page 49 on this PDF from the DOE’s “Advisory Council” on improving the IEP process (same wording as the legislation, even though this advisory council has been meeting since earlier in the year): https://eboard.eboardsolutions.com/Meetings/Attachment.aspx?S=190001&AID=7329&MID=339

According to someone in the know in Legislative Hall, it isn’t.  So who is right?  Or is the DOE just taking over the whole thing even though Senate Concurring Resolution 63 creating the IEP Task Force explicitly states who picks the members in designated areas?  Because Michelle Rush at the DOE has been designated as the coordinator for the task force.  No locations have even been announced, and no public notice has gone out.  It is scheduled at 4:30pm, virtually ensuring many working parents won’t be able to attend.  Public comment has been reserved for the end of the meeting, when focus will be dwindling amongst the members.

If this IEP Task Force is anything like the above link, then it will be all about aligning special education students with Common Core Standards and the Smarter Balanced Assessment (with faulty accommodations for special ed students and no form to even go into IEPs yet).  I pray it isn’t about that, and it will address the true problems with special education.  I pray the task force chair, Lieutenant Governor Matt Denn, has the sense of purpose that these students need an individualized education plan, not making them more similar with other students and forcing them to adapt to the “rigor” of Common Core.  This was exactly why I insisted parents be added to the task force, to prevent this from happening.  But if the DOE has the final say on the task force, then the IEP process will not be improved, it will be diluted.  The Delaware DOE needs to understand this IEP Task Force was not created as their task force.  It was written by legislators, serving the will of the people who pay for your jobs.

Can Parents Legally Opt Their Child Out Of Standardized Testing? Yes, They Can!

Delaware Parents, if it is legal precedent you are looking for to opt your child out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment, look no further than the Supreme Court. Thanks to Natalie Alvini Ganc, a special education teacher here in Delaware, for giving me the heads up on the court decisions that would allow parents to do this. Nothing beats the Supreme Court in America. States have tried and failed. As per Fairtest.org:

Dear (school administrator),

Please accept this letter as record of my decision to refuse for my child (name) to participate in The Smarter Balanced Assessment at (school) during the 2014-2015 school year. My refusal to participate in the Smarter Balanced Assessment is because I believe standardized high stakes testing take away time from the instructional experiences my child might otherwise receive. I want more teaching and learning, and less testing! The state seems to believe that my child is obligated to participate in testing because the state or the policy makers demand it, when in fact the social contract of public schooling is grounded on the premise that the state and policy makers are obligated to the needs of children. I am aware that there is no “opt out” clause in the state of Delaware. But the state has yet to provide any legal documentation that my child may not exercise his or her right to refuse the tests.

According to the U.S Constitution, specifically the 14th Amendment, parental rights are broadly protected by Supreme Court decisions (Meyer and Pierce), especially in the area of education. The Supreme Court has repeatedly held that parents possess the “fundamental right” to “direct the upbringing and education of their children.” Furthermore, the Court declared that “the child is not the mere creature of the State: those who nurture him and direct his destiny have the right coupled with the high duty to recognize and prepare him for additional obligations.” (Pierce v. Society of Sisters, 268 U.S. 510, 534-35) The Supreme Court criticized a state legislature for trying to interfere “with the power of parents to control the education of their own.” (Meyer v. Nebraska, 262 U.S. 390, 402.) In Meyer, the Supreme Court held that the right of parents to raise their children free from unreasonable state interferences is one of the unwritten “liberties” protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. (262 U.S. 399). In recognition of both the right and responsibility of parents to control their children’s education, the Court has stated, “It is cardinal with us that the custody, care and nurture of the child reside first in the parents, whose primary function and freedom include preparation for the obligations the State can neither supply nor hinder.” (Prince v. Massachusetts, 321 U.S. 158).

I understand that it is state and local policy to require all students to be evaluated for proficiency in various subject areas at each grade level. However, I believe that testing is not synonymous with standardized testing and request that the school and my child’s teacher(s) evaluate his or her progress using alternative (and more meaningful) measures including: project-based assignments, teacher-made tests, portfolios, and performance-based assessments, to be determined at the discretion of the teachers and myself together.

My child is prepared to come to school every day during the testing window with alternative meaningful self-directed learning activities that support the essential curriculum, or is willing to participate in other meaningful activities as determined by the school or his or her teachers during testing times.

I have a tremendous respect for my child’s teachers and his school. They do a tremendous job and I wish to continue to send my son to a school where he looks forward to participating every day. My school’s teachers and administrators understand that this action is no way a reflection of my feelings towards them nor is it intended as an attack toward them or the great work that they do every day. My issue is with high stakes standardized testing and the harm it does to children and our public schools. I believe we can work constructively together to ensure that my child will not be negatively affected in any way, and that successful alternatives that are neither punitive nor require further legal complications are indeed possible. Thank you.

Respectfully yours,

(Your name)

This is all you have to do. Now one thing to remember, the entire curriculum this year will be to prepare for this test. Your child will still receive grades based on formative and/or summative tests throughout the year. Until Common Core is repealed in Delaware, there isn’t much choice for what your child is taught. Trust me, most of the teachers hate it too, and if they had their way Common Core would disappear. You may receive calls from the principal, or the district. Document everything. If they tell you something about your decision, ask for it in writing. If they state policy to you, tell them you want that policy in writing. Some may call this civil disobedience, and they may be right. But it’s also about doing what’s right for your child. No one can ever take that away from you. Your child has the legal and fundamental right for his/her parents to advocate for them. This is your chance to do what is right for your child, not what the “educational” aka corporate reformists are telling you what to do.

UPDATED: I’m hearing from parents already that they are doing this today.  Excellent! Bravo!  Please email me at kevino3670@yahoo.com for any responses you get from the schools.  Let me know if they accepted it.  The more of us that do this the better off our children will be.

All Delaware Parents: Opt Out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment #netde #eduDE #edchat #delaware

That is the only way anything can change. If enough parents do it, there will be a very large impact on every school in Delaware and the DOE. We’ve been seeing Common Core for a couple years now, but this is the school year where it will have a huge impact our students. Was it a pain for students in Delaware public schools to take DCAS three times a year? Yes, but I would have my son take DCAS ten times a year before I let him touch the Smarter Balanced Assessment. The time is now. Don’t sit on the fence and wait. Because it will be too late then. Do it now. If we ALL do it, the DOE would have to listen.

Cause I can tell you, they are all sitting in their little chairs at the DOE, smug as all get out, because this is the year all their plans come to fruition. For any parent still not satisfied, take a look at the Louisiana lawsuit concerning Common Core. Look at what happened at the rigged contracting with Pearson and Apple in Los Angeles. Look at what is happening to teachers and how their rights are being toyed with on a daily basis. You may not like education now, parents, but you will HATE it very soon. Don’t come late to the party, opt-out now!

Just call your school district tomorrow and ask how you can opt-out your child from standardized testing. They will tell you their is no opt-out procedure. Then you ask what the consequences are. They will tell you there are none, but if the district is less than 95% participation rate in the testing it could affect funding. But parents, if ALL school districts go below that number, are they going to cut funding to all the schools? Hell no! Public, charter, vocational: Don’t support the core. Stop taking orders and start running things your own way. The state and the feds have unnecessarily interrupted something that wasn’t so bad to begin with.

Eagles Wings Ministries: Last Warning- No member of your flock is to go near my son, adults and children included! #netde #eduDE @DoverPost

This is your absolute last warning. I don’t know what kind of church you run, and I don’t really care. What I do know is your youth group leader ABUSED my son physically, and your church turned a blind eye and then denied it with the only true witnesses being the youth group leader and her son. You then used children to cover your asses and deny it to the police. Yes, my wife yelled at you and swore at you, but any parent would after your cover-up. No more. Tell your youth group leader that her daughter can not and will not bully my son at school. We will be filing a report tomorrow, so you may want to get some intervention for a certain family in your flock. I will not be having this conversation again. Once again, this is your last warning. If you don’t like my stories about you, then leave my son the hell alone. You don’t get to play the victim here. Do you understand me? If not, I would be more than happy to talk about it in front of a police officer.  Again…

UPDATED: For any new readers, this is an ongoing thing with a whacked-out church in my area.  I know they are reading this, so I just needed to make things very crystal clear for them.  And Stacie Bohannon, I would tell your daughter to stay away from my son.  I don’t want her looking at him, laughing at him, sticking her tongue out at him, and certainly not spreading rumors about him.

Peter Greene: Why Teachers are Breaking Up with Common Core

A must read for any teacher! Don’t drink the Kool-Aid America, cause it may taste sweet going down, but it’s rotten to the core!

deutsch29: Mercedes Schneider's Blog

Pennsylvania teacher Peter Greene has written a fine post on why he believes that the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are going down the toilet in supposed “teacher popularity.”

What I appreciate about Greene’s post is that he became aware of the CCSS facade of “teacher created, state-led” several months following my own revelation (which was sealed with education historian Diane Ravitch’s February 2013 post, Why I Cannot Support the Common Core Standards). Now, several months might not sound like much of a time difference, but I had already been actively involved in confronting issues of punitive, test-driven “reform” in Louisiana for almost a year, beginning in March 2012 with Louisiana’s Act 1 and Act 2. So, in May 2013, when Greene was still unaware of the CCSS fraud, my pump had already been primed regarding the CCSS sales job, and my realizing that teachers were once again being sold…

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Reality Check

This is a MUST read for any special needs parent, especially special needs DADS! I won’t tell you why, just read it!

The Qwiet Muse

Going through the shoeboxes again . . . I distinctly remember the day I wrote this. I was tired. So, so, very tired. The week had been a whirlwind of medical appointments, two IEP meetings, my husband was out of town, my blood sugars were high, and my energy was low.

Autism was in charge and it’s sidekick Bipolar was running amuck. I was outnumbered and out of my mind – Thankfully, a little reality check pulled me back.

Seems like only yesterday sometimes Seems like only yesterday sometimes

I remember reading something once about about people with unsinkable souls, I believe I am an unsinkable soul. I simply must be. If I weren’t, I certainly would have drowned in whatever sea of muck souls sometimes sink into long ago. I’ve felt myself being pulled under a few times, but I always manage to pull myself up for air. Sometimes, I even manage to find…

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What Will The Delaware DOE Do WHEN Common Core is Repealed? #netde #eduDE #edchat @KilroysDelaware @ed_in_de @BadassTeachersA

UPDATED: Had to change the title to WHEN!

With Common Core slipping in popularity more every single day, many people have been asking what would happen if it does go away. Has the Delaware DOE prepared for such an eventuality? With the way they have been talking at DOE meetings and around the state, it doesn’t look like they are. Everything they have been doing is with Common Core as it’s, well, core. For the DOE, Common Core is the sun giving strength to the whole solar system of education in Delaware. And if Common Core goes supernova, what happens to the aligned with Common Core, the controversial Smarter Balanced Assessment?

Aside from a few politicians and the DOE, I haven’t heard anyone talking positive about it. Once again, this includes charter school teachers who know they would lose their job if they publicly spoke out about it. In fact, most teachers want it to go away. They are very afraid of their jobs being impacted when most students tank the test next Spring. The DOE announced at their board meeting that scores won’t affect teacher performance appraisals until the 2015-2016 school year, but they did not indicate when during the school year that would take place.

Special needs parents are sick of Common Core and how it impacts their children. I am hearing a rising voice speaking up where they all want to opt their children out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment. This is a turning point for these children, and this school year could have a dramatic effect on their future. Parents are dreading IEP meetings this year due to standards-based IEPs as well.

The DOE needs to stop patting itself on the back and get with the program, and fast. When more areas of your state are demanding change and you are moving forward with what the citizens don’t want, you need to open your eyes and take a hard look at what you are doing. Did you hear that Governor Markell and Secretary of Education Murphy? The people don’t want what you have been selling anymore.

Breaking News: L.A. Officials Met with Apple, Pearson a Year Before Taking Public Bids

Common core corruption all over the place. Corporations and greed abound. Way to show children how to get ready for college, by selling them out to the highest bidder. All about the $$$$!

Diane Ravitch's blog

Annie Gilbertson of KPCC in Los Angeles reports that internal emails show that district officials met and emailed Apple and Pearson a year before the bidding process for new technology and software began.

“Emails obtained by KPCC show Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent John Deasy personally began meeting with Pearson and Apple to discuss the eventual purchase of their products starting nearly a year before the contract went out to public bid.

“Detailed in dozens of emails, the early private talks included everything from prices – about $160 million over five years – to tech support.

“On behalf of those involved in Pearson Common Core System of Courses, I want you to know how much we are looking forward to our partnership with LAUSD,” Pearson staffer Sherry King wrote the head of curriculum for L.A. Unified at the time, Jaime Aquino, in November 2013. “We have begun to work…

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