US DOE & Arne Duncan Drop The Mother Of All Bombs On States Special Education Rights

In a stunning announcement that came out today, the United States Department of Education has decided to take away state rights in regards to curriculum and state assessments for special needs students.  Without any legislative approval, Arne Duncan has taken it upon himself to invalidate years of IDEA law and special education regulations.  This news broke today from this blog:

http://whatiscommoncore.wordpress.com/2014/11/24/federal-secretary-of-education-to-phase-out-the-authority-of-states/

And here is the new ruling:

http://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/eAgendaViewRule?pubId=201410&RIN=1810-AB16

Here’s what you need to do: email AND call your state senator and state representative in the US Congress.

For Delaware citizens, here are our representatives in Congress and how to contact them:

https://forms.house.gov/carney/webforms/email-me.shtml

http://www.carper.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/email-senator-carper

http://www.coons.senate.gov/contact/

I would also email John Kline, the head of the Education and Workforce Committee in Washington D.C.  at this address and let him know Congress needs to stop this NOW!!!!  The ruling states this is to go in effect January 1st, 2015.

https://edworkforce.house.gov/contact/

This is tantamount to war on special education in America.  I called this months ago, and now it is out there.  This is the same man who thrust Common Core on all schools and dangles carrots with the ESEA waivers constantly.  The man who believes every student, even those with a disability, should have a baccalaureate education and rigor should be used daily.

For residents of Delaware, your Governor Markell helped with this.  With his powerful backing from Dr. Paul Herdman and Rodel, our children’s special education rights are GONE if this goes through.  We all need to take a stand, every single one of us.  If you sit back and do nothing, your child WILL suffer.

I just found an excellent letter to send.  Thanks to Stacey Kahn from the Facebook group NYS Special Needs Parents Against Common Core for allowing me to repost it here!

Parents and teachers the time has come. As we all knew, the United States Department of Education, as directed by Arne Duncan, has decided to attempt to override special education and the laws that protect our most vulnerable students. The rights and rules both we and our own parents fought so hard for are being dismantled by the US Department of Education to pave the way for the inappropriate rigor of common core. If we do not speak out against this newest injustice, special education as we know it will dissolve.

Please take a few moments to contact your legislators through pen, phone, or email. Let them know they must get involved. The USDOE has gone too far. The same people who seem to put profits before people have again trampled the rights of students who struggle enough. Common core is enough of an injustice. To remove state authority to assist our special needs students is the final straw.

Attached is a letter template for your use. Feel free to add your own thoughts, the more personal the better. Let these legislators know your special needs children are worthy of a fair and appropriate education that isn’t driven by corporate gain and workforce readiness. All students are unique. The one size fits all mentality of common core has come to the head we knew it would. Please let your representatives know this is the time they must get involved, these children don’t get a second chance to be treated with respect, equity, and compassion.

For your immediate attention  (insert title and last name here):

We as parents, educators and citizens of the United States, are contacting you because it has come to our attention that there is a real and imminent threat to the states’ sovereignty with regards to education, and more importantly, to its most vulnerable citizens.

Arne Duncan, the Secretary of Education has submitted a proposal to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.
Directly from the proposal is the following:
“The Secretary will amend the regulations governing title I, part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended (ESEA), to phase out the authority of States to define modified academic achievement standards and develop alternate assessments based on those modified academic achievement standards in order to satisfy ESEA accountability requirements. These amendments will permit, as a transitional measure, States that meet certain criteria to continue to administer alternate assessments based on modified academic achievement standards and include the results in accountability determinations, subject to limitations on the number of proficient scores that may be counted, for a limited period of time.”

If this amendment is passed, it will signal the end of special education as we know it in this country’s public education system. Secretary Duncan has already stated that he feels that students with disabilities can and should be held to the same “rigorous” Common Core State Standards, as their fellow neuro-typical classmates. To give him the power to supersede the states regulations regarding allowable modifications and/or alternate assessments for these students sets a dangerous precedent.

Secretary Duncan has already weakened the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA).If allowed to proceed with this amendment, the Americans with Disabilities Act is in jeopardy as well. None of these changes were ever voted on by any legislative body.

Our states are losing their sovereignty in education on an almost daily basis. How much more are we as states and as citizens willing to hand over to the Federal Government?

We need our legislators to stand up and say enough is enough. We are a bipartisan group of citizens. Please put political parties aside and do what is best for our children and our country. We are counting on you!

Who Is The “Delaware Dean” & Why This Is Trouble

Last week, in my Rodel/Markell story, I referenced a contract Relay Graduate School has with the Delaware Department of Education.  In the actual contract bid document, it references a “Delaware Dean”.  Who is this individual?  Thanks to Mr. Mike Matthews for finding out the answer from the DOE.  The Delaware Dean is Christine Rowland.  She is in charge of the whole project.  I wonder how much she will learn about Delaware before she says something in public as brilliant as the DOE’s Accountability guru did at their September board meeting.

From Ms. Rowland’s LinkedIn profile:

Christine Rowland

Dean Fellow at Relay Graduate School of Education

Location
Newark, New Jersey
Industry
Dairy
Edit experience Previous
  1. KIPP Philadelphia Schools,
  2. Teach For America,
  3. Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools

Experience

Dean Fellow

Relay Graduate School of Education

July 2014 – Present (5 months)Newark, NJ

Managing Director of Academics

KIPP Philadelphia Schools

July 2011 – June 2014 (3 years)Greater Philadelphia Area

Program Director

Teach For America

June 2007 – June 2008 (1 year 1 month)

Math and Science Teacher

As per the contract, Relay Graduate School is getting $505,000 over three years to have their teachers invade our schools.  Ms. Rowland sounds like she has been working for all the right companies…if you are a big fan of the education reform movement.  When I see Kipp, I see the death of public schools in Philadelphia.  When I see Teach For America, I see lots of Race To The Top money going to the Rodel seeded organization that puts sub par teachers in our schools.  When I see Relay Graduate School, I see the Delaware DOE scraping the bottom of education to further their agenda.  If my kid got a Relay teacher, I would demand a change.  Beware parents, beware!

Delaware Special Needs Parents Need To Unite Statewide Now! We can’t let the Rodels, Markells & DOE Screw Us Over

Gateway.  Priority Schools.  Smarter Balanced.  Standards Based IEPs.  Common Core.  Personalized Learning.  Rodel.  Vision.  Relay Graduate School.  Teach For America.  Governor Markell.

These are the ways Governor Markell, under the long-term strategic plans of Rodel, using the DOE as his shadow puppets, has systematically and methodically destroyed education as we know it in our state.  Some of us know this, and others are still living in the haze.

Sometimes, to move forward, you have to look back.  Last night, I journeyed back to last April.  My family’s situation with my son’s former charter school was starting to end and we were laboriously working on an IEP for my son at his new public elementary school.  But it felt like it wasn’t enough.  I started to research what led to all this.  I contacted a blogger named Kilroy, and we had many sidebar chats.  One day, I emailed him and advised him I figured it all out: Rodel ran education in this state.  They didn’t care what you or I thought, they had their vision, and to hell with anyone that got in their way.

We have allowed this to happen.  Because we haven’t spoken as one voice.  It’s hard being a special needs parent.  We all know this.  If it isn’t impacting my child, then we just don’t make the time to help.  Well guess what, everything is impacting your child now.  I’m sure a few weeks ago all the parents at Gateway thought they were secure.  I’m sure last summer some of the parents at the Priority schools thought their children were in good hands.  We have a standardized test coming up next Spring that a lot of our kids are rigorously  prepped for every day.  This test is so bad the company that made it doesn’t even know how to set proficiency levels.  Our teachers are being held at bay, getting screwed over left and right, held with a gun to their head every day with the threat of lower pay and the future of their already low-paying job on the line.   None of our schools are safe anymore.  Our educators aren’t safe.  And our children aren’t safe.

When I was chatting with Kilroy, he told me this state needs a unified special needs parent group.  Like a PTA for special needs parents.  As pieces, we can make some noise, ruffle some feathers, but at the end of the day nothing changes.  As a whole, a large unified group, representing 13.5% of children in this state, we can make a difference.  When one of our schools is threatened, we stand up.  When one of our kids is being mistreated, we stand up.  When legislation is introduced that can impact our kids, we stand up.  This is the only way we can make true and lasting change in Delaware.

We can NOT be a part of a government group.  Not PIC.  Not GACEC.  Not the DOE.  Not the Delaware PTA.  Or a PTO.  Once you are in the matrix, you don’t leave.  Don’t get me wrong, some individuals have made great changes to the system by being in these groups.  Some have gone on to become legislators.  That’s a good thing.  However, for the services and supports we need now, we need each other.  We can no longer rely on a Governor who really doesn’t care about what our kids need.  Gateway has proven that numbers on a piece of paper are more important than our children’s needs.

I would like to see this group start in January 2015.  Or sooner.  We can all go to the public comment meeting for Gateway on December 10th at the Delaware DOE.  They need our support.  We can protest the priority schools.  Because the state DOE has said nothing about the needs of those special needs children.  It hasn’t even been a part of the conversation.

Please leave comment and let’s start planning together.  This isn’t impossible.  It only takes a few people to unite and start spreading the word.  Reading this and agreeing is not enough.  Many of us have had our differences.  So we talk about them, we hash them out.  Maybe you think your kid is doing fine and everything is alright.  Great, let’s talk and see if that’s really the case.  We cannot live in a bubble anymore.  Because if you think for one minute all of this Common Core and standardized testing is going to lead to a greater future for your child, you are very wrong.