@DEDeptofEd and @GovernorMarkell sick their TFA pit viper on CSD. #hammer #threatdown #privatize #nokidsinhere

Penny Schwinn…TFA Pit Viper! I love it! What’s the big rush DOE? Could it be in my next article…to be continued!

Live From The Last 2014 Meeting Of The IEP Task Force @KilroysDelaware @ed_in_de #netde #eduDE #edchat #Delaware

This is it! The last meeting of the IEP Task Force based on the legislation from Senate Concurring Resolution #63.  The IEP Task Force may reconvene but this will be the last meeting prior to the report to Governor Markell.  Lieutenant Governor (soon to be Attorney General) Matt Denn indicated this will be a short meeting.  The members are going over the draft to see if any changes are suggested.

Diane Eastburn asked for clarification on distinctions in the draft about school districts and charter schools.  Denn clarified it is written like that because no charter school is part of a district (aside from the ones in Red Clay).  Deb Heffernan stated having an IEP with a gold standard is good but she wants to make sure they are implemented and kids are more proficient.  Senator Lawson said he wants to make sure all paragraphs mention school districts and charter schools.  Marissa Band added Department of Education to which Denn agreed.

Ruth Lavelle had questions about progress reports in terms of transition goals.  Dale Mitusevich with the DOE (sitting in for Maryann Mieczkowski) said these goals are post-secondary goals, but he suggested progress reports should show how the student is doing towards reaching those goals.  Lots of back and forth discussion regarding the exact wording.  Issue solved after a few minutes.

Meeting is about to end after public comment.  Senator Nicole Poore thanked Denn for getting it going.  Only public comment was from this guy, and I thanked Denn as well and Senator Poore and other legislators who helped push to get parents on the task force.  I told the task force we have a long way to go with IEPs in Delaware but I am confident the suggestions made from this task force will help the process.  I asked Matt Denn if he would chair the task force if it continues.  He said it depends on what the legislature decides about reconvening the task force.

Delaware DOE, Stop Bullying & Lying To Parents re: Opt Out With Your Scare Tactic Letter

Delaware Department of Education (DDOE) Please stop telling parents they are breaking the law if they opt their child out of Smarter Balanced. No where in the federal law does it state a parent can not do that. As for the state law you cite in your letter, it does say “schools” and “individuals”, but you need to reread the law, because earlier it specifically states:

(4) ”Individual” means a student, teacher, administrator, local or state school board member, or other employee, agent or contractor employed by the Delaware public school system whether local or at the state level, and including an employee, agent or contractor of a charter school;

For anyone reading this article through a link on Facebook or Twitter, please spread this everywhere.  If you live in Delaware, spread it to every corner of the state, from Wilmington to Rehoboth.  Email it, print it, give it to your friends and neighbors.  The only way we can get our DOE to stop this madness is by letting every single person in the state know what they are up to.

This is threatening parents based on a misinterpretation of the law. If you want to sit there and tell all parents it’s okay for the DOE to give this information, go right ahead. But know that parents will find out this information, one way or another. Until the DOE takes away parental rights from a parent, you can save some paper costs and try to find some other way to get parents to believe the lies you are telling them.  The only thing illegal in this letter is the act of making this letter.

This is why you are losing trust with more parents every day!  By deliberately misleading and bullying parents, you are showing what educators and schools across the state already know: You will do whatever it takes to please Governor Markell and his friends at Rodel.  This is not something any parent or educator or student signed off on.  The Common Core Standards were developed by the Feds and the governors of every single state at the time forced it upon local school districts, and with every year and every waiver that occurs, schools are losing more and more control and education has become a joke.  The more you bully all of us, the more we will stand up to you.  The more you send out threatening letters like this to school districts and parents, the more parents will want to opt out.  By manipulating and twisting regulations and the law, you will do the one thing you didn’t want to happen: cause a very massive opt out in this state.

For any news outlet reading this, please investigate the Delaware Department of Education.  From the time Race To The Top began until the present.  This DOE has manipulated and used standardized testing to further their own agendas to have more charter schools open in the state.  This is all part of an “education blueprint” developed by a non-profit (debated in some circles) and Governor Markell in the four years before he became Governor.  I would look at all DOE contracts, Race To The Top spending, and more.  I will gladly assist anyone in their investigation.  In fact, myself and other individual have some pending FOIA requests that may shed some light on matters.

For all parents reading this in Delaware: It is NOW time to end this.  We need to speak up and demand accountability and action from our legislators, DOE, and Governor Markell, even if it means calling for impeachment of Governor Jack Markell and demanding Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy be fired.

I posted this last week and I will repost it here again:

I’ve obtained a copy of the sample letter parents can expect to receive if they opt their child out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  There is a lot of threatening statements in this letter, but THEY HAVE NO MERIT ACCORDING TO THE LAW!!!!

Parents, do not be threatened by this vain attempt by the Delaware DOE to prevent you from honoring your constitutional right to determine what is best for your child’s education!!!

SAMPLE LETTER
LOCAL EDUCATION AGENCY (LEA)

DATE

Dear (Parent/Guardian),

This letter is in response to your request to have your child not participate in mandated state testing, which will be administered this spring. Unfortunately, (LEA) has no discretion in the matter. Federal and state laws require that public-school students be tested.

The Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), which was amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, requires all states to implement “high-quality, yearly student academic assessments.” 20 U.S.C. § 6311(b) (3)(A). The statute further provides that “[s]uch assessments shall . . . provide for . . . the participation in such assessments of all students.” 20 U.S.C. § 6311(b)(3)(C) (emphasis added). The ESEA does not allow parents to exempt their children from taking the state assessments.

Delaware State Code also is clear that school districts and individuals shall not “exclude a student from participation in the state assessment except in accordance with the regulations of the Department” (Title 14, Chapter 1, Subchapter IV § 173).

The only exemptions allowed under the law due to extreme medical incidents or for reasons of mental health of the child. Each requires documentation from a physician.

Both federal and state statutes are clear in their language—that all students enrolled in public schools must take the yearly state assessments. The Delaware Department of Education and each school district and charter school must comply with federal and state mandates.

If you have any questions, please contact (NAME AND CONTACT INFORMATION FOR LEA CONTACT PERSON).

Sincerely,
(SUPERINTENDENT/CHARTER DIRECTOR’S NAME)
(LOCAL EDUCATION AGENCY NAME)

So let’s take a look at the specific codes they are mentioning:

20 U.S.C. § 6311(b)

(3)  Academic assessments

 (A)  In general
Each State plan shall demonstrate that the State educational agency, in consultation with local educational agencies, has implemented a set of high-quality, yearly student academic assessments that include, at a minimum, academic assessments in mathematics, reading or language arts, and science that will be used as the primary means of determining the yearly performance of the State and of each local educational agency and school in the State in enabling all children to meet the State’s challenging student academic achievement standards, except that no State shall be required to meet the requirements of this part relating to science assessments until the beginning of the 2007–2008 school year.

The State shall have such academic standards for all public elementary school and secondary school children, including children served under this part, in subjects determined by the State, but including at least mathematics, reading or language arts, and (beginning in the 2005–2006 school year) science, which shall include the same knowledge, skills, and levels of achievement expected of all children. 

(C)  Requirements
Such assessments shall—

 (i) be the same academic assessments used to measure the achievement of all children;

 (ii) be aligned with the State’s challenging academic content and student academic achievement standards, and provide coherent information about student attainment of such standards;

 (iii) be used for purposes for which such assessments are valid and reliable, and be consistent with relevant, nationally recognized professional and technical standards;

 (iv) be used only if the State educational agency provides to the Secretary evidence from the test publisher or other relevant sources that the assessments used are of adequate technical quality for each purpose required under this chapter and are consistent with the requirements of this section, and such evidence is made public by the Secretary upon request;

And the Delaware Code, from Title 14:

§ 173. Data reporting violations.

School districts and individuals shall not:

(1) Fail to report assessment scores, numbers of students administered the assessments any other data element required to be reported to the Department;

(2) Report incorrect or otherwise inaccurate assessment scores, numbers of students administered the assessments or any other data element required to be reported to the Department;

(3) Exclude a student from participation in the state assessment except in accordance with the regulations of the Department;

(4) Refuse to disclose to the Department information concerning a violation of the foregoing data reporting requirements; or

(5) Refuse to cooperate in the investigation of a suspected data reporting violation, whether such investigation is conducted by a school district or the Department. The investigation shall include a review of mitigating circumstances, if applicable.

73 Del. Laws, c. 81, § 1; 78 Del. Laws, c. 53, §§ 42, 43.;

Now who are these individuals?  Does this refer to any parent who opts their child out of Smarter Balanced?  Or do they mean individuals who are employed by the school district?  The next paragraph in the code makes this VERY clear:

§ 174. Civil sanctions for violations.

(a) A student who violates any of the provisions of § 172 of this title shall be subject to the following:

(1) At the discretion of the Department, the assessment score of such student may be invalidated and the student may be declared ineligible to retake the assessment until the next official testing opportunity; and

(2) Such disciplinary action as deemed appropriate by the student’s school district.

(b) An individual other than a student who knowingly violates any of the provisions of this subchapter shall be subject to the following:

(1) Such personnel sanctions as might otherwise be imposed by the individual’s employer for an act of misconduct;

(2) A hearing conducted by the Professional Standards Board to determine revocation of any license issued to such individual pursuant to the provisions of Chapter 12 of this title; and

(3) Payment of any costs incurred by the State or Department as a result of the violation.

73 Del. Laws, c. 81, § 1; 78 Del. Laws, c. 53, § 44.;

As well, the law defines who these individuals are:

(4) ”Individual” means a student, teacher, administrator, local or state school board member, or other employee, agent or contractor employed by the Delaware public school system whether local or at the state level, and including an employee,  agent or contractor of a charter school;

Did you see the word “parent” on that list?  I sure as hell didn’t!  If you are going to cite law, don’t just throw arbitrary paragraphs out there when others ones contradict what you are trying to accomplish.  I don’t think the Professional Standards Board can revoke my license to be a parent.  No one can take away my right to opt my son out as it is currently written in the law.  Once again parents, do not be fooled!

Special Needs Parent’s Awesome Response To Common Core Homework! Opt Out Now!

10846503_10203722821821416_2191346557088532231_n

In yet another brilliant Common Core homework response, this parent showed why Common Core and test-prep homework is beyond ridiculous.  She has a child with special needs, and this is what she wrote about it on a Facebook group:

Asking a child with a language based learning disability who struggles to articulate his thoughts in written words is difficulty enough….now expect that child to write out a lengthy written analysis of the mathematical process that are basically automatic….that’s pure torture….this common core “ccrap” has got to go…hence my response to my son’s homework last night….

People in power, who aren’t profiting from this insane corporate education reform, need to realize this is not only bad for regular students, it’s a nightmare of epic proportions for special needs children.  How good is anything is someone has to suffer?  Please parents, just opt out now.  Don’t let your state try to trick you into this and say it’s not your legal right to opt your child out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment or PARCC test.  This is NOT about helping students, it’s about helping wallets, stock portfolios and hedge funds.  And none of that will benefit the other 99% of the country.

Gateway & Reach Try To Save Their Schools @KilroysDelaware @ed_in_de @RCEAPrez @nannyfat #netde #eduDE #Delaware #edchat #savegatewaylab

Last night, several hundred parents, teachers, administrators, legislators and members of the community spoke up about a possible closure for two charter schools in Delaware.  Gateway Lab School and Reach Academy For Girls will have their fate decided on December 18th at the State Board of Education meeting.  Yesterday, people had a chance to give a last plea to the Delaware Charter School Accountability Committee.

Gateway Lab School, with their special needs population of around 60%, has a target on their back over standardized test scores.  They are being compared to a regular school district while one of their counterpart charter schools, with less severely impaired special needs students, is compared to other special needs schools in the state.  This puts Gateway at a very distinct disadvantage.

The jam-packed event, with many parents forced to leave due to the filled room capacity, was met with a snafu from the very beginning.  The event, scheduled to start at 6pm, had a rescheduling at 4pm from the Delaware Department of Education.  Gateway was scheduled to go first.

WDEL covered the event, and you can watch their broadcast here: http://wdel.com/features/charterhearing141210.mp4

Public Comment can still be made to the Delaware DOE until the end of the day on Friday December 12th.

Common Core Copying Costs Skyrocket In Delaware While Smarter Balanced Consortium Makes $65 Million

Last night at the Capital School District board meeting, Business Manager Sean Sokolowski presented updates to the 2015 fiscal year budget and announced some astonishing adjustments.  In Capital School District alone, copying costs have soared as the district has been put in the position of increasing the number of copies from 200,000 to 1,000,000 based on the full Common Core implementation this year.  Teachers are required to print the Common Core curriculum sheets to students.  This is an 800,000 increase in the amount of paper just this district has to absorb in increased costs.

How many more teachers could be hired with that money to reduce classroom size?  As Capital struggles to avoid the dreaded referendum in coming years, one has to wonder if paper companies are also benefiting from Common Core.  As we advance to a more technological society with computers and iPads, why are we chopping down so many trees for this curriculum?  Capital could do so much more with these funds but they are tied down to this forced curriculum that NOBODY wants.

To put this in perspective, Capital holds about 4.8% of Delaware’s student population.  At 1,000,000 copies a year for paper in Capital, this would estimate the average number of copies for the entire state to be 20,500,000.  If all public schools in Delaware had the same increase rate, this means Common Core is costing taxpayers a ton of money with over 16,000,000 in extra copies.  Estimating paper costs at .02 cents a page, this costs public schools in Delaware $408,000 a year for total copies with $326,400 just for the Common Core curriculum.

Board President Kay Dietz-Sass advised the rest of the Board and the audience the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium is making $500 per student in revenue.  That means they are making $66,684,500 from Delaware students in total based on last years student enrollment of 133,369.  Yes parents, Common Core is about getting kids ready for college so they don’t have to compete with kids in China (the excuse a few years ago).  It’s not about profit at all…

With the extra copying costs and the Smarter Balanced Assessment windfall, taxpayers are paying over $67 million in Delaware for a curriculum and test that NOBODY wants except the companies making mega bucks!  Adding all the extra costs from Common Core and Smarter Balanced, as well as all the other costs from Race To The Top, Teach For America, Relay Graduate School, Vision Network, Innovate Schools, Rodel and more, one has to wonder what we are paying for.  When schools talk about the problems they are having with class sizes, and how they need extra para-professionals and vital resources to educate students, keep these figures in mind DOE.  Education reform has a very steep price, both financially and mentally.  It is wasteful spending that impacts schools, teachers, students, parents, and taxpayers.

*This article was updated from an earlier version.  This blogger misunderstood Mr. Sokolowski’s announcement that copying went from 200,000 to 1,000,000.00.  He meant the number of copies, not the dollars spent.  Sorry for any confusion!