New Petition: Keep John Kowalko on the Education Committee

Citizens of Delaware, what House Speaker Peter Schwartzkopf did to John Kowalko is a violation of everything Democracy is supposed to be about.  Let’s get Mr. Kowalko back on the House Education Committee where he rightfully belongs!  You can be both an activist and a legislator Mr. Schwartzkopf.  If the heroes of the Revolutionary War weren’t activists, Mr. Schwartkopf wouldn’t even have the ability to be a speaker about anything!  It’s what this country was founded on and Delaware was the first state to sign the Constitution guaranteeing those rights.

Please sign the iPetition here: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/keep-delaware-state-representative-john-kowalko-on

The People Speak On The Priority Schools, Petition Delivered To Mark Murphy Today, Emailed To Governor Markell

No words can describe the beauty of citizens lending their voice to a right and just cause, so please look at what so many people in Delaware have created in response to the priority schools initiative brought on by the Delaware Department of Education.  This was delivered to Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy today, with the below email sent tonight.

And below is the email sent tonight to Governor Markell, Attorney General Matt Denn, all elected officials of the 148th General Assembly, Delaware U.S. Congress Members, the Priority School Superintendents and each member of their Boards of Education, and many more.

To:  jack.markell@state.de.us

  • Denn Matthew (Attorney General)
  • Schwartzkopf Peter
  • Blevins Patricia
  • Colin J. Bonini
  • Townsend Bryan
  • Williams Kimberly (LegHall)
  • John Kowalko
  • Lawson Dave
  • Poore Nicole
  • Lavelle Greg
  • Miro Joseph
  • Pettyjohn Brian
  • Bushweller Brian
  • Cloutier Catherine
  • Ennis Bruce
  • Hall-Long Bethany
  • Henry Margaret Rose
  • Hocker Gerald
  • Lopez Ernesto B.
  • Marshall Robert
  • McBride David
  • McDowell Harris
  • Peterson Karen
  • bryant.richardson@state.de.us
  • Simpson Gary
  • Sokola David
  • Barbieri Michael
  • Bennett Andria
  • Bolden StephanieT
  • Paradee Trey
  • Brady Gerald
  • BriggsKing Ruth
  • Carson William
  • richard.collins@state.de.us
  • Dukes Timothy
  • Gray Ronald
  • Heffernan Debra
  • Hudson Deborah
  • Jr Earl Jaques
  • Johnson Quinton
  • Keeley Helene
  • Kenton Harvey
  • Longhurst Valerie
  • Mitchell John L.
  • Mulrooney Michael
  • Osienski Edward
  • Outten Bobby
  • Peterman Jack
  • Jr Charles Potter
  • Ramone Michael
  • Short Bryon
  • Short Daniel
  • Smith Melanie G.
  • Smyk Steve
  • Spiegelman Jeff
  • Viola John
  • Wilson David L.
  • lyndon.yearick@state.de.us
  • sean.matthews@state.de.us
  • sean.lynn@de.us
  • Johnson JJ
  • kevin.hensley@state.de.us
  • Baumbach Paul (LegHall)
  • Senator Carper
  • correspondence_reply@coons.senate.gov
  • Representative John Carney

 

CC
  • Murphy Mark
  • May Alison
  • Johnson Donna R.
  • Eve Buckley
  • Nelia Dolan
  • Mike Matthews
  • Matthew Albright
  • Avi Wolfman-Arent
  • Williams Freeman (K12)
  • superintendent@redclay.k12.de.us
  • Kenneth.Rivera@redclay.k12.de.us
  • Piccio Mike (K12)
  • Bohm Adriana L (K12)
  • Faith.Newton@redclay.k12.de.us
  • Cathy.Thompson@redclay.k12.de.us
  • Martin.Wilson@redclay.k12.de.us
  • Kenneth.Woods@redclay.k12.de.us
  • Fred Polaski
  • george.evans@christina.k12.de.us
  • harrie.minehan@christina.k12.de.us
  • PAIGE ELIZABETH
  • dresler@verizon.net
  • shirley.saffer@christina.k12.de.us
  • john.young@christina.k12.de.us
  • Kavips World Press Blog
  • Nancy Willing
  • Kilroy’s Delaware
  • Steve Newton
  • Pandora DeLib
  • KOOK JACKIE
  • KEMPSKI MICHAEL S.
  • frederika.jenner@dsea.org
  • Terri Hodges
Honorable Governor Jack Markell, Delaware Attorney General Matt Denn, Elected Officials of the Distinguished 148th General Assembly, Delaware’s Members of the United States Congress, Members of the media, Christina School District Board of Education, Red Clay Consolidated Board of Education, and everyone else:
Please find attached the Priority Schools Petition initiated by the group Delaware Parents & Educators for Public Education.  There is a description of our group on the 2nd page.  With well over 700 signatures, we are citizens of Delaware who want something better than what the Delaware Department of Education has designated for these six schools.  As we approach the time when decisions will be made for these schools, let us truly reflect on what is best for these students and the educators who teach them every single day in some of the most impoverished and high crime areas of our state.  To judge them and these schools by standardized test scores which the state no longer uses is a travesty.  We need to do more for these most vulnerable of students and closing these schools is not the answer.
Secretary of Education Murphy, we’ve had more signatures added to the petition I dropped off to your office this afternoon, and we will continue to keep it going until a decision is rendered.
For members of the media and anyone else, please feel free to share this link in Newspapers, TV, blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and anywhere else you feel it can gain further support.  For anyone on this email, please feel free to add your name to the petition if you have not already done so.
Respectfully,
Delaware Parents & Teachers for Public Education
Nelia Dolan
Eve Buckley
Kevin Ohlandt
Mike Matthews 
Kris Chalfant
And if you haven’t had the opportunity to sign the petition, please go here and lend your voice:  http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/lets-make-priority-schools-a-real-priority-2

Wilmington Education Advisory Committee Letter To Governor Markell re: Priority Schools

It is really great to see all the support coming to the priority schools in Christina School District and Red Clay Consolidated School District.  We need more support to sway the Governor from making a rash and lasting decision that will affect thousands of students and educators in Delaware.

Christina Educators Association Priority Schools Press Conference 1/7/15

Federal Judge To Decide On Reach Academy 1/14, Last Day of School Choice Deadline

As per WDEL today, a Federal Judge heard the case in regards to the injunction attorneys for Reach Academy For Girls filed in an effort to keep their school open instead of being shut down at the end of this school year.  The WDEL report indicated the judge should have a decision rendered by 1/14/15, the last day of school choice applications for students of Delaware’s public schools.

More information can be found here: http://www.wdel.com/story.php?id=65328

Marie Corfield: A Bombshell in Néw Jersey

Do you see this Delaware parents: straight from the mouth of the President of the New Jersey State Board of Education! Send those opt out letters today. Delaware needs to catch up with the NJ movement yesterday!

Diane Ravitch's blog

Education activist Marie Corfield reports a stunning development in Néw Jersey. The president of the Néw Jersey State Board of Education, Mark Biedron, said at a public hearing:

“We know we can’t force any kid to put their hands on a keyboard.”

Marie thinks he is listening to the voices of parents and educators who object to PARCC testing.

Marie says: “For Biedron to say this in public is huge. Print it out and attach it to your opt-out letter. This is a game-changer.”

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Full Presentation of DE State Board of Education to Public and Charter School Boards

On January 6th, the Delaware State Board of Education had a State Board Workshop with Local School District and Charter School Boards and other “stakeholders”.  Led by Executive Director Donna Johnson, this workshop went over the Smarter Balanced Assessment, the upcoming ESEA waivers, and school accountability.  Included is the entire presentation for the public to view.

I have to wonder exactly which schools had the Smarter Balanced Assessment Field Test last Spring.  How many of these schools and classrooms had “Vision Network” teachers administering these tests.  How many classrooms had a high population of minorities, low-income and special education students.  The parameters around the success of these field tests are only as good as the pool of test takers.

Once again, if students aren’t expected to do as well the first few years, how in hell can you blame any teacher or school for the results of a test you have already admitted is too hard and only provides a baseline?  This is a system that is pre-stacked against those who care more about education than this department.

As far as the “Common Themes” from the Town Hall meetings the DOE had in November with the public, I was at one of them, and the common themes were not so common at the one I attended.  It wasn’t all about “clear consequences for lack of performance” unless you counted complaints against the Delaware DOE.  If anyone needs to be measured to by that standard, it’s the DOE.  But they seem to have no consequences for their actions, whether they are legal or not.

Delaware parents, do not get sucked up into the Departments web of lies and coercion.  This is spin, and it only spins in their direction.  They want to hold entire school districts accountable for performance based on a test that has already been deemed to fail.  How is that right or just?  This is a corporate education reform agenda to privatize our public school districts and turn them into charter schools which have never been proven to be more effective than regular schools.  In point of fact, they have been proven in this state to have no transparency, financial mismanagement, and severe discrimination across the state to the most vulnerable of students.  Don’t drink the kool-aid they want you to drink public!  You are better than them.

Priority Schools: FOIAs, Injunctions, Meetings, Petitions, Legislators **UPDATED**

The priority school crisis in Delaware has reached a fever pitch this week.  Today, the Christina School District “Negotiation” team is making a last ditch effort to try to negotiate with the despotic Delaware Department of Education.  Most believe it is for naught, as the DOE and Governor Markell have already made up their mind and are gearing up to present this to the public.

There are still a few things that could stop or stall this authoritarian initiative.  Unreleased FOIAs could give insight to any irregularities or outright illegal actions on the part of the DOE.  The DOE could accept CSD’s new MOU (about the same time as North Korea becomes a free and open country).  Someone or a group could file an injunction which would buy some time for other alternatives.  A petition will be hand delivered to Mark Murphy’s office today with well over 600 signatures by Delaware Parents & Teachers For Public Education, maybe this will have some weight.  The 148th General Assembly will step in and put a stop to it.

This is what I think will happen: Meeting goes south today, Markell makes an announcement either on his weekly public address tomorrow or Monday, an injunction is filed, much awaited FOIAs get released Monday that will be so heavily redacted nothing will make sense, and this starts getting sold to the public the week after next if the injunction doesn’t prevent that.  And for those who think Red Clay is in the clear, think again.

Here’s the thing though: This violates Federal law.  There are many students with IEPs.  ANY change in placement is an IEP Team decision.  So unless every single student’s IEP Team had the opportunity to be given every single choice and decided on it, any priority school MOU is illegal.  We are dealing with least restrictive environment, FAPE, and educational placement here.  Any change, whether it is extending the school day, or Extended School Year summer classes, or a change from public school district to charter is something the IEP Team decides, not the Delaware DOE or Governor Markell.

So if Markell and the DOE want to go ahead with their plans, go right ahead.  But you will be facing the above.  And I will personally spearhead this special education initiative.  You always forget about the special needs students, don’t you?

UPDATED, 1/9/15: As of 1:00pm, the negotiations are still going on.  I will keep you updated if I hear anything!