Delaware DOE Town Hall Meeting Live Blogging Now @KilroysDelaware @ed_in_de RCEAPrez @Apl_Jax @Badass TeachersA #netde #eduDE #Delaware

Only 11 people here!  What a turnout!  DOE looking for 25 people to expand efforts to get people to take survey.  They need more input from the community.  I’ve never seen these people from the DOE before.

Giving explanation about ESEA waiver renewals and new guidelines.  They are asking the public for input and only two items are set in stone.  They are 1) setting up the new accountability system for the state and 2) standardized assessment guidelines are what they are.  There will be stakeholder meetings during January.

Members of the public can go to the new DOE website and go under “New Accountability System” tab to find out more information.

I’m pondering whether or not to slam the DOE during their q&a portion of this kool-aid fest.  Greg Mazotta from Kilroys advising DOE about the Baldridge program recipients.  Another member of the public is asking about how low test scores can still generate high graduation rates.  He doesn’t realize he is talking about standardized testing scores.  Same man is saying in three years we will be having the exact same conversation.

Another parent asking how IEPs will fit into this school accountability system.  Asking how IEP and IDEA laws will conform with this.  DOE rep said that’s what this town hall is for to bring these issues up and work it out.

Previous member of public talking about social graduation rates again.  He is asking how students can get all F’s and still go to the next grade?  DOE rep said she talked to him in hall and that is local school district issue.

Teacher talking about how if a student does F work they don’t pass the class.  He stated problems working with regular students and students with IEPs.  He claimed it’s a double-edged sword, you help the regular students the IEP students suffer and vice versa.

I gave public comment based on standardized testing and corporate education reform.  I advised the DOE no matter how you present this, it’s not about students, teachers or parents.  It’s about making money off these individuals.  If Secretary of Education Murphy is basing school accountability on Smarter Balanced scores, and he expects 70% of schools to fail, how does that work?

Gentleman from DOE stated that is only one portion of the accountability framework.  I asked how many educators are on this group?  DOE rep said all of them.  Someone asked where all the Race To The Top money.  I said Rodel!  (They didn’t get all of it, but way too much in my opinion).

Parent asked why school districts aren’t giving parents this information?  Someone else said cause they don’t want to.  DOE Rep said he was giving flyers for survey to trick or treaters who came to his house on Halloween.  Really?  You’ve got to be kidding me.  How desperate are you?  Give the kids candy!

I advised the DOE reps using standardized testing scores only benefits what you do with that data.  I gave the very recent example of the Priority Schools in Wilmington as evidence of this.  Using testing data the state doesn’t even want anymore to take six schools within a mile radius of the empty Bank of America building designed for charter schools.  I advised they aren’t fooling anyone and parents are wising up to them.

What a train wreck that meeting was!  And yet the DOE doesn’t want to discuss the impact Common Core is having on students and teachers and parents.  I asked if only 1/2 of standardized testing is being included in these school accountability ratings, why is it used as the primary measurement for teacher effectiveness in DPAS II.  The DOE rep said that’s a separate group.  Well excuse me DOE, maybe you have too many damn groups conflicting with each other.

The reason school districts don’t want to promote the DOE’s monkey survey is because the DOE has screwed over teachers far too much the past few years.  Why would any school district give the DOE more ammo?  They would be out of their minds to promote this nonsense.  I advised the DOE reps tonight that this is ALL about standardized testing.  I told them “If Johnny comes home failing the Smarter Balanced Assessment, who is the parent going to blame?  The school and the teachers.  Not the fact that it’s a bad test.”

I did ask the DOE rep how many surveys he got back from his Halloween adventure, and he said he gave them to parents but he didn’t “mark” them so he doesn’t know.  The reason school districts don’t care about this stuff is because they know it’s all about making them look bad over stuff the state initiates.  It’s about making parents sick of school buildings so Markell and Rodel and 2Revolutions can push their agenda of kids attending school on their laptop from home and their personalized learning nonsense.  Enough DOE!  You will all be gone in a couple years, and like others said tonight, we will be having the same conversation under a new administration.

I can’t believe you pushed the IEP Task Force out of the room they have used for their past four meetings, opened the partitions between the two rooms, caused technical issues that delayed the start of the task force, double billed two important education events on one night, to have 11 people show up for it.  And two of them were reporters and another was a wife of a DOE employee and her son.  So you had 7 people from the outside public show up including 2 who drifted over from the IEP Task Force meeting.  Bravo!  Job well done!

Another parent (also a teacher) asked if anyone on this group is still teaching.  None of them are.  They all have their cushy jobs at the DOE and don’t care about the impact in the classroom the DOE is causing.  Who wants to have a DOE Accountability Town Hall meeting?

IEP Task Force Meeting #5, Live From Dover & Wilmington @KilroysDelaware @ed_in_de @RCEAPrez @Apl_Jax @Roof_O @ecpaige @nannyfat @DelawareBats #netde #eduDE #Delaware #edchat

Here we are, in Dover at the John J. Collette Center in Dover.  The task force is meeting in a smaller room due to the Delaware Department of Education Town Hall meeting in an hour and a half.  We’re trying to get a videoconference connection.

Still having connectivity issues…with nine members of the task force here, this can’t be good!

A few minutes later…we have to have the meeting via speaker phone from Wilmington.  We may get the live video feed going, but I won’t hold my breath.

Still waiting…

Lieutenant Governor Matt Denn can be heard coming from a cell phone speaker.  He just said they are going to try a different video conference “thingamajigger”.

Ruth Lavelle is talking about transition meetings.  Can’t hear her too well with the cell phone speaker…

Kim Siegel got the video conferencing going up in Wilmington.  Now the IEP Task Force up there has to walk four floors to get to the new meeting room!

Everyone approved the minutes from last month.  Ruth Lavelle talking about transition from secondary school to life after school for students with disabilities.  Talking about employment and life skills.  Shouldn’t wait until age of 18 to talk about it with these students.  DVR (Division of Vocational Rehabilitation) needs to come in earlier.  Dale Mitusevich from the DOE is stating they would need to double their number of counselors to meet this demand.  DOE is already looking at these issues.  Explained DVR wouldn’t take referrals until students’ senior year.  DVR gets Federal funding and very little state funding, so that is a huge issue.  The Division of Developmental Disability Services is working with Pathway to Employment, which starts in the 8th grade.  This program is for students who are more severely disabled.  Denn asked age range that DVR works with.  Mitusevich said it isn’t based on age.  Some counselors work with students in junior year, but most are waiting until senior year.  They work with students when they are employed for 90 days above minimum wage and working at least 20 hours a week.  Mary Ann Mieczkowski (Mitch) stated the DOE has a Memorandum of Understanding with DVR and DDS.  Needra Surratte from PIC suggested having someone from DVR attend the next meeting.  Mitch said we would probably need another task force to cover these issues with transition.  Joe Miro said it is a good idea to have someone come in for the next meeting (which is next week on November 20th).

I apologize, I have to confirm all these agencies and their abbreviations!

Division of Visually Impaired should also be invited to discuss these issues as per Senator Lawson.  Mitusevich agreed.  Denn asked who else we should invite to the meeting.  Marissa Band is talking about student-led IEPs to help students self advocate for themselves.  Laura Manges thinks it is an excellent suggestion for vocational schools in Delaware to establish teams to help with these services.  She said this helps to justify the tax dollars being sent to these districts.

Bill Doolittle talking about service providers being able to advocate for students during IEP meetings.  “Theoretically they are all supposed to be equal partners,” but this isn’t always the case Doolittle explained.  Band talking about 504 plans and how there is a prohibition against retaliations.  A teacher recently filed an OCR complaint and is going after her employer based on these guidelines.  Denn asked if copying the language out of the other statute would be advisable, Band agreed.  Doolittle said it is against the law for schools to do this.  Lavelle said it shouldn’t just protect teachers, Denn agreed.

Dafne Carnwright talking about progress reports to students with IEPs.  She said room for narrative should be added to IEP Plus.  Liz Toney also said a checklist of when students received services should be added as well.  Diane Eastburn bringing up section needing to be checked off if student met goal, didn’t meet goal or exceeded goal.  It needs to be more descriptive and consistent across the state.  Toney said it can be confusing for parents and needs to be simplified.  Surratte said a narrative is good, but parents mainly want to see their child’s progress on goals.  She said it could also be good to show examples of students work.  Mitch explaining how Present Level of Performance and Benchmark Goals explains this process to parents.  Tracey Bombarra said a lot of this can occur during parent-teacher conferences and this would be more work for the schools.  Surratte clarified this work should be available upon parent request, and not necessarily at a parent-teacher conference.  Everyone seems to be chiming in on this issue.  Denn said as a parent he isn’t satisfied with satisfactory or exceeds.  Everyone agrees there should be a narrative provided for children who are receiving related services to see when students had services and to ensure abbreviations are spelled out.

Senator Dave Lawson explaining to the group that members of the task force talking about what their school does isn’t helping.  He said what brought them here is that not all schools are consistent.  House Representative Miro stated fifteen minutes for Parent-Teacher Conference is way too short, responding to a comment made by Diane Eastburn.  Mitch clarified no changes should be made to IEP during Parent-Teacher Conference.  Miro keeps talking about this issue which really has nothing to do with any of this.  God bless him!

Denn asking for member of public Debbie Harrington for clarification on services for visually impaired students.  She said the bottom line is that educational services for visually impaired is too complex and it isn’t provided by the DOE.  She recommends another task force for education for these individuals.  There are way too many varying issues for what each and every student needs.  The greatest deficiency is two agencies providing these services.  Harrington said there is about 250+ students in the state that are visually impaired with only 8 teachers.  This is classroom sizes of 30+ students (which is typical for a lot of classes in Delaware).  Everyone seems to agree a separate task force should be made for this topic, which would of course be up to the legislators.

Denn going over proposed drafts with findings and recommendations that were emailed to members of the task force this morning.  Lavelle brought up issue of parental safeguards and clarification on this.  Band brought up this issue as well, and Lavelle said these are Federal requirements.  Carnwright said seeing the actual behavioral data for a functional behavioral analysis is not always honored by schools to parents.  Toney brought up issues of cancelled IEP meetings when the parents get there.  Denn said 3/4s of parental safeguards go over what happens when an IEP matter isn’t agreed upon, so unless it is in those documents it can’t really be changed too much.

Members going over draft notes, but I am unable to see those notes, so I’m kind of in the dark right now.  Sorry folks!  Due to the technical difficulties this meeting is running way over.  Lots of conversation about wisdom over giving parents a copy of the draft IEP ahead of time.  This is a HUGE issue with members having different sides of this battle.

Also big issues with IEP Plus coming up again.  Overheard one member of the task force indicating some previously discussed issues are not being put into the draft as originally discussed.

Public comment from parent of blind student.  Said waiting for legislators to get task force going and then implementing findings is at least six months out and these students need help now.

Votech special education teacher talking about transiton services and liked comments previously said about vocational schools helping out in the state.

Big Night In Education at the DOE’s Collette Center Tonight! #netde #eduDE #Delaware

First is the IEP Task Force from 4:30-6:30pm and then overlapping a bit is the Town Hall meeting the Delaware Department of Education is holding to discuss what the public may want to see on school accountability annual report cards.

I will be live blogging from both, and if the IEP Task Force goes like it did at the last meeting (ending at 5:45pm), I should be able to get both in.  If not, I will come up with something so nobody misses a beat.

As I stated yesterday in an article, I emailed Lieutenant Governor Matt Denn to attempt to get the issue of IEP denials discussed at the task force.  I’ve also mentioned it in public comments a couple times, so I’m at a dead end with this matter.  But if more parents speak up, I would urge them to do so now as the Governor’s Report is due in January.

The Town Hall from the DOE, in my opinion, is a smokescreen for things they have already decided on.  They want to show the illusion of working with parents, but it will be very interesting to see the wording being used and what they “lead” parents to with options.  I would not be shocked if they give parents “options” about what to speak about.  This is a very old trick.  Give horrible options so the other ones don’t look as bad.  I hope I’m wrong, but we will find out tonight!