My Public Comment at the 3rd IEP Task Force Meeting and my Message for Governor Markell, the Delaware DOE and Arne Duncan @KilroysDelaware @ed_in_de @dwablog @nannyfat @ecpaige @DeDeptofEd @DeStateBoardEd @TNJ-malbright @ArneDuncan @usedgov

 

 

At the third IEP Task Force meeting, I followed tradition and gave the following public comment:

This is the 3rd time I have spoken at the IEP Task Force, I’ve spoken in front of the Delaware Department of Education 3 times, I’ve spoken in front of the Capital School District Board 2 times, and last week I spoke in front of the Christina school board. Every single time I have spoken, it has been with the problems of my son at the forefront of my mind. Behind him are the over 18,000 children with disabilities in this state. This task force has been given a great responsibility. In your hands are the abilities to change over 18,000 lives.

Let me say once again: these children have disabilities they neither asked for nor want. They didn’t choose to have them. They weren’t cursed with them. Most of them were born with them. It was locked into their DNA for whatever reason, and this was how their life had to be. As parents or guardians, it is our job to protect them and make sure they have the best life possible. As educators, teachers, counselors of all shapes and colors, providers and administrators, it is your job to educate them. So my question is this: why do so many of you treat their disabilities as something they are intentionally trying to do? Why do so many teachers think that if you yell at a child or speak down to them that this behavior will change? Why do so many of you think you can sit in an IEP meeting and tell parents “Your child may have a disability but I think they know what they are doing” or “Part of it is their age”. These are children with extremely difficult neurological disabilities. Their brains are not wired the same as you or I. So why would you try to rewire them into a shape that just doesn’t fit? The discipline problems these children face in schools can and should be prevented. Placing any child with disabilities in a class of 30? You’re asking for trouble. Inclusion is required, but that does not mean you put them anywhere. The Least Restrictive Environment is required by IDEA law. It means the child is put into the least restrictive place to obtain a proper education. And in Delaware, that doesn’t mean a Chevrolet, it means a Cadillac. Teachers: Please understand, I know the problems you are facing. I know your evaluations,  as well as your jobs,  are tied to student performance on a once a year test. There are a growing number of regular parents and citizens who recognize and empathize with you. And we are trying to help you as well as our children. But please recognize that we will do anything we can to protect our children, and if that means calling anyone out at a school, teachers included, we will do that.

I think we talk and talk about special education in Delaware, but when it comes time to truly do the right thing for these students, a lot of us drop the ball. It’s not about common core, it’s not about college, it’s not about China, it’s not even about the teachers, or the principals, or even the parents. It’s about them. These precious gifts have been given to us and they have a lot to teach us, but we don’t want to learn. We need to learn to accept them for who they are. Not what we want them to be, but what they are.

In conclusion Lieutenant Governor Denn, if you could please pass the following on to the Delaware Legislature and Governor Markell. We will not accept or allow anyone to change our children into something they are not meant to be. Please tell the Delaware DOE they we don’t want the standards-based IEPs and please ship them back to Arne Duncan at the United States DOE and to leave Delaware’s special needs students alone. It is past time Delaware became its own state and stopped being the education lap dog of the federal government. It is way past time that we stopped letting corporations and education reformers intruding on our children’s lives so they can fill their pockets with profits. There is a lot of that going on and nobody on this task force is talking about that on this task force, and that’s impacting teachers, and how they teach, and how they’re able to deal with these children. That’s a huge aspect and I’m shocked nobody on the task force has brought it up. Thank you.

 

Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy Needs To Be Fired! What Has To Happen! @KilroysDelaware @ed_in_de @dwablog @nannyfat @ecpaige @TNJ_malbright #netde #eduDE

murphy

Last night, the Wilmington City Council saw the true colors of Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy.  He went to the council meeting to present the priority schools plan to the council, and they were not impressed.  Murphy actually stated that the DCAS standardized testing system was ineffective, yet this was the overall criteria for judging the 6 Wilmington schools as failing.

When City Council member Nnamdi Chukwuocha tried to present the priority schools as a good thing, Council President Theo Gregory said, about Chukwuocha, “He’s young, he trusts.  I don’t trust.”  This comment said a lot about the events that occurred last night.  Since the onset of the priority schools announcement, it seemed like the momentum was on the side of the Delaware DOE.  But ever since last week, when both Red Clay and Christina refused to sign the Memorandum of Understanding behind the priority schools, citizens of Delaware have started to realize this may not be a good thing after all.  Gregory’s statement is made from years of Wilmington being promised certain things that never materialized.  Events from the City Council meeting last night will resonate with the public of Delaware for a long time.  The trust the city showed in the DOE and Murphy is beginning to evaporate.

Last night, at the priority schools conversation in Wilmington, Mark Murphy was invited to answer more questions and he declined and stated he wanted to give his closing statement.  In my opinion, this shows a man who has a specific agenda, and once he is done with presenting his part of it, he either wasn’t able or refused to answer questions that could have helped a city understand his agenda better.  My guess would be the answers would not have helped the DOE’s cause.

Murphy has been controversial from the start.  He was picked by Governor Jack Markell when former Secretary Lillian Lowery resigned.   Formerly, Murphy had served as the Executive Director of a non-profit in Delaware called Rodel.  Rodel is stacked with a board of millionaires who stand to gain from the education reform movement.  This was Governor Markell’s #1 pick for the position, and the Delaware Senate approved this.

As Common Core has rolled out, and Delaware signed on for the Smarter Balanced Assessment, the Delaware Department of Education, under Murphy’s leadership, has gone from one controversial event to another.  They have taken over charter schools (Pencader, Reach and Moyer) and the results have been highly ineffective.  They have judged schools based on a testing system they have done away with.  They have treated public school district teachers like they are a nuisance to be done away with, and many public school district teachers feel demoralized and degraded by the DOE.  They have pumped money into charter schools while ignoring the plight of public school districts that feed even more money into the charter schools.  They have played games with Title I funding to allow the charter schools to benefit.  Special Education has been tampered with to such an effect that Delaware was deemed as “needing intervention” by the US DOE’s Office of Special Education Programs.  The list goes on and on, but many feel Murphy should be removed from power.

State Representative John Kowalko said today “Maybe it is time for you to move on Mr. Murphy for the good of “our children.”  Delaware blogger Kilroy has called for Murphy’s removal on many occasions.  This blogger has said it.  Some feel they will just ride with the wave until Markell and Murphy are gone in a couple years.  But the problem remains, and with his track record, things will only get worse.

But how does a Delaware Secretary of Education get fired?  Who would have to do the job?  From the Delaware Code, I found this, under the code for the State Governor:

Section 13. The Governor may for any reasonable cause remove any officer, except the Lieutenant-Governor and members of the General Assembly, upon the address of two-thirds of all the members elected to each House of the General Assembly. Whenever the General Assembly shall so address the Governor, the cause of removal shall be entered on the journals of each House. The person against whom the General Assembly may be about to proceed shall receive notice thereof, accompanied with the cause alleged for his or her removal, at least ten days before the day on which either House of the General Assembly shall act thereon.