Merv and Freeman kicking up sparks at meeting with DE DOE re: Priority Schools

Yes! Glad those two stood up for their districts! This is getting mighty interesting!

Update on the Super Secret Meeting w/DE DOE & Christina & Red Clay Supers @KilroysDelaware @ed_in_de #netde #eduDE

I will be updating this as I get new information, on a constant basis.  The latest (and it’s been very quiet all day, not sure if that’s good or bad) is from Kavips, where House Representative John Kowalko commented:

Actually it would have been slightly more legitimate if the Boards were included,(they were not) considering that they are the Superintendents bosses. I brought that up again today and in a phone conversation yesterday and no one dared disagree with that as an accurate statement. CSD Board president was there because Supt. Williams sacrificed one of his two staff position invites. The failure of DOE and this administration to learn from previous experience that you don’t put an artificial timeline on a complex issue of high importance by engaging stakeholders and their reps in separate dialogues (easier to befuddle, confuse and mislead you grandma) and present what they call an MOU (contrived unilaterally behind closed doors) which is in fact an ultimatum demanding unconditional surrender or we’ll nuke you as any type of legitimate attempt at reform.

John Kowalko

Update on Office of Civil Rights Investigation of Delaware Charter Schools #netde #eduDE @KilroysDelaware @ed_in_de

I called the Office of Civil Rights in Philadelphia to find out the status of https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2014/07/25/breaking-news-office-of-civil-rights-wants-all-delaware-charter-school-applications-for-last-2-school-years-netde-edude/ and talked to the attorney from the PDF file.  This information was first published by Kilroy a couple months ago in response to the Board minutes from Newark Charter School.  I had a very lovely chat with the attorney in regards to what the OCR does and how they handle complaints in general.  I then asked about this particular case, and she was unable to give me current information on it.  She did say it is not closed.  Not much new information, but a couple people asked me about it.  No news is…no news!

Delaware public schools shed 20% low income students in one year! Is DE DOE play number games with USDOE? @arneduncan @washingtonpost #edude #netde @dedeptofed @destateboarded @usedgov @EducationOIG

Very interesting data Kilroy has come up with. I don’t recall any big businesses opening up during this time frame in Newcastle or Sussex Counties. Did they go to charters? I doubt that given their numbers. Sounds fishy to me, but we all know the DE DOE would NEVER fiddle with numbers for their benefit, right?

UPDATED, 5:32pm, same day: According to Kilroy, this is yet another snafu on the DOE’s part.  Damn, they have to get some new tech people at a minimum.  This is happening all the time where they are messing up their precious data, or just not putting pertinent information in.

The Best Parent Information Night Ever! Or How To Build A Sandcastle With An Instruction Manual! @KilroysDelaware @ed_in_de #netde #eduDE

Last night was my son’s parent information night at school.  There were five topics and you could pick three of them.  I chose Common Core, Assessments and Home Access (the parent computer system for seeing grades, attendance, etc.).  For 25 minutes each session, parents got to learn about these topics.  All three were very entertaining.

For Common Core, it started off with a quiz.  True or False: The Common Core Standards is a government conspiracy and forced on the schools.  My answer was true.  Now the principal is well aware of this blog, and he looked at me and started laughing.  Of course my answer was wrong.  It’s voluntary, and states have  a choice….bwaahahahaha!  Another question was about how teachers have to follow the common core exactly for their curriculum.  The right answer was no, but one of the choices was teachers must follow it and adhere to a strict dress code.  Of course this was written by a Common Core sponsored company.

Parents complained about no cursive being taught, the “rigor” with math, having to write down and explain easy math answers, and the insanity of it all.  A short video was shown and it explained all students need to walk up the same stairs at the same pace at every public school in America.  Because every student is the same and learns at the same pace, even though students are grouped into separate groups all day for reading intervention and small groups.  It showed how students have to be able to follow step by step instructions for things in life, and it actually gave an example of building a sandcastle.  The principal said the school is really pushing decimals, fractions, and percents this year cause “studies” have found kids in college don’t know how to accurately understand money.  Yup, it all comes back to $$$!

Next up was the Assessment topic.  The moderator went over the Scholastic tests, SRI and SMI.  The tests are still the same, and the Lexile scoring is the same, but how students are rated proficient has changed.  Say a student scores at 660 in 5th grade.  That was considered proficient last year, but the feds raised it to over 800 now.  So parents shouldn’t be alarmed when they see the new reports on it.  “We’ll get them caught up.”  This increase was, you guessed it, due to the Common Core Standards.

My favorite, Smarter Balanced Assessment, was up next.  Parents can take the test at home, but you don’t take the full test or get a score.  And, you have to shut down everything on your computer, and it’s recommended to use Firefox or Google Chrome, otherwise it won’t work.  The moderator explained the test is very hard, and students will have to learn to type better.  The average 5th & 6th grade student types about 10 words a minute, but parents can teach their kids how to type and build their skills.  This will be after they read to us, cite the text, go over math, and have an aneurysm trying to explain in words why (3×5) + 6 is less than 20.

The panel was up for questions, and by the end the moderator asked if anyone else had any questions.  I smirked and bit my tongue.  This moderator is also aware of this blog.  I said “you really don’t want to ask me”.  She said “Go ahead.”  So I did.  “Can parents opt out of the test?”  She explained that is a parent decision, not the school district.   Another parent said that will affect the funding for the schools.  I explained, as a very wise man told me, that this a “zero sum” game.  If enough parents in every district do it, what are they going to do, cut funding for every school district in the state?  I advised we only need 6% of parents to do this across the state, in each district.  Someone said this will never happen.  “I think it will,” I said.

The last presentation was on the Home Access system.  I was somewhat familiar with it, having subbed in a long-term paraprofessional position at Campus Community School. The presenter explained how the system is more user-friendly this year because there is more information on it.  I asked if the state DOE can see it, and he said they see everything.  More data crunching down at the DOE.

As I drove home, I applied some common core magic and determined 6% is a great number, but I would like 50/100, and the state can threaten to cut  $1,000,000.00 or more out of their state funding but it’s all just a silly little game children play.

What The Hell Markell? DE DOE To Meet In Secret Meeting With Red Clay & Christina Supers, Board and Elected Officials Banned From Attending! #netde #eduDE @BadassTeachersA @delawareonline

Later today, the superintendents are having a top-secret, non-public meeting at the Delaware DOE.  This is in regards to the priority schools in the Christina and Red Clay Consolidated School Districts.  Board members of both districts do not appear to be happy about this at all.  The MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) concerning these schools is due by September 30th.

Six elementary schools from the districts were picked by Governor Markell last week to receive about $6 million over five years.  The problem is additional administrators will be forced upon the schools at a price tag of $160,000 each, which is above the average administrator price tag in Delaware.  When all is said and done, this really isn’t leaving the schools with much left over money each year to get the services they desperately need.

The boards of the school have been discussing what to do.  If they say no to the MOU, then there is a chance the state could take over the schools.  And many have guessed they would then become charter schools.  But who owns the buildings?  The districts.  So would the state have to buy the buildings or rent them from the districts?  And what happens with the teachers.   They have union representation, and contracts to uphold with the districts.

What becomes of the students?  These are already low income Title 1 schools.  They also have high populations of special education students.  That much chaos and upheaval is never good for a normal student, much less students with disabilities.

It remains to be seen what this meeting will be about, but some legislators aren’t happy.  From Delaware House Representative John Kowalko on Kilroy’s Delaware last night:

Although I never received an answer to the email request I made to DOE seeking an invite i will be going to this meeting tomorrow at the Carvel bldg. Despite a phone conversation I had with a DOE top staffer who had the audacity to say my attendance would be inappropriate I will be attending. Although it was difficult to suppress my anger at the thought that an “appointed” staffer would presume to tell a duly “elected” official what was appropriate or inappropriate about his or her responsibilities I will be attending. Because I represent thousands of households with thousands of children in the CSD and because I have served for eight years on the House Education committee and witnessed first-hand the debacle of the previous MOU re partnership zone schools and the Glasgow outrage, I will be attending. My obligation to all children in the state public school system, to the taxpaying families that support the school system, to my constituents, to the educators who daily fight to fulfill the needs of the children (while money has been taken and not returned to the public school system) is all of the justification I’ll ever need to know it is appropriate for me to attend. It is my sworn duty and obligation to question and challenge the non-educator salesmen who contrive solutions that have no basis in data accumulated effectiveness and fail to address the obvious needs of an impoverished America forced to live on handouts rather than face the reality of poverty driven failures in public education. It is my sworn obligation to look into the eyes of the RODELS and VISION 2015…2021 et.al. and their solicitors and messengers who would rather control the dialogue and set the stage and sell the tickets to an audience that is best kept in the dark. Yes I will attend and it is absolutely appropriate that I do.
State Representative John Kowalko (25th District)

Damn!  That is one pissed off elected official.  And he has every right to be.  This situation is escalating very fast, and it sounds like the districts are being pitted with the boards on one side and the superintendents on the other.  The boards do have other options, and this could become very ugly.

Nancy Willing of Delaware Way blog fame has an excellent post on this: http://delawareway.blogspot.com/2014/09/are-markell-and-ddoe-holding-up-our.html