DE Community Legal Aid Disabilities Law Program Needs Public Input NOW!!!!

DE Community Legal Aid

The Disabilities Law Program of Community Legal Aid has filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights alleging that the State of Delaware permits the charter schools to engage in practices that reduce the number of students with disabilities, students of color and students whose first language is not English who attend the schools.  They are looking for individuals to add to their complaint this month.  They are looking for students of color or students with disabilities who were denied entry to a charter school or did not apply to a specific charter school because of what they had heard about the school, and for families who did not apply to high performing charter schools because they did not know they were public schools.   They are also looking for students who have been pushed out of charters because of their disability needs.

If you or your friends have had these experiences, please contact Marissa Band,  (302) 575-0600, ext. 228, or Richard Morse, (302) 654-5326, ext. 103, for possible inclusion in the complaint.


Delaware House Bill 28 Submitted To End Distasteful Funding Which Benefits Charter Schools

148th General Assembly

House Bill 28, submitted today by primary sponsors, Delaware State Representative Kim Williams and State Senator Patricia Blevins, would put a halt to an inequity in funding when a charter school student transfers to a public school district after the September 30th count.  This bill is now in the hands of the House Education Committee.  Let’s get this one passed Delaware! State Rep Williams is on a roll and we are only a week and a half in!

I’ve gone ahead and added a page in the menu up top to put all the pending education bills and their current status in one spot for those who want a quick reference!

Breaking Down Governor Markell’s Education Plan In The State of the State Address

Governor Markell

Italics are Governor Markell, regular print is my response.  Agree? Disagree? Let me know!

This year, I ask the General Assembly, our schools, our colleges, and our businesses to join me in committing to the Delaware Promise. This is a new goal for our state. By 2025, 65 percent of our workforce will earn a college degree or professional certificate. Everyone will earn at least a high school diploma.

And what if they don’t?  How can you guarantee this Governor Markell?  Does this include students with disabilities?  Because there is controversy over those who take DCAS-Alt and whether they will get a high school diploma or a certificate of attendance.

Our efforts build on the tremendous work led by Senator Harris McDowell in creating the SEED and INSPIRE scholarships, which make Delaware one of the only states where high school graduates can secure a two-year degree at virtually no cost. And thanks to the leadership of Gary Stockbridge, and the tremendous efforts of our business, non-profit, and education communities, more than one hundred Delaware companies are providing training, mentoring, and workplace experience to our young people through the SPARC initiative.

But they have to attend certain schools to do this.  Not many choices there.  Does this benefit these students or the companies they would work for at lower costs?

But we know we must do more, so today I’m announcing three parts of our strategy to fulfill the Delaware Promise.

First, we will create an initiative called Pathways to Prosperity, which will establish partnerships with Delaware employers, universities, and our K-12 system to prepare students for a bright future in key industries. High school students will take hundreds of hours of specialized instruction and hands-on training. They will graduate with industry-recognized certificates and college credits.

Once again, these Pathways to Prosperity are pathways for these companies to essentially get free labor, thus, greater prosperity.

This fall, we will launch pathways statewide for the IT and hospitality industries. We will also expand to southern Delaware the manufacturing pathway we started last year with Colonial and New Castle County Vo-tech School Districts. Those manufacturing students are already making great progress and will get paid internships this summer at companies like Agilent Technologies, PPG, Kuehne and Siemens. The following year, we will expand the network to include two more of our fastest growing industries – financial services and healthcare. I want to thank President Mark Brainard for his personal commitment to this initiative. These pathways will transform opportunities for our young people for years to come. But we must also address our employers’ immediate needs for skilled workers.

So let’s train teenaged students to be that skilled work force at lower costs for the companies that profit.  Can’t have our students aiming for higher goals!

The second initiative I’m announcing is that Delaware Tech will partner with the national consulting firm McKinsey to significantly accelerate the training of entry-level healthcare workers. Employers have committed dozens of internships for young people who have already completed our terrific Jobs for Delaware Graduates program. As a result of this new training, they will be working in the field within months rather than years.

McKinsey…why does that ring a bell?  Oh yeah, you used to work for them.  And they helped out with the education blueprint and “Opportunity Knocks”, the education reform plan you and Paul Herdman and other corporate folks put together ten years ago.

Third, many of our employers have told me that they can’t find enough qualified IT workers and must resort to hiring them away from each other. We need a new pipeline of Delawareans trained to do these jobs. I’m pleased to announce that eight major employers are joining with us to train and hire hundreds of IT workers in our state. Through accelerated education programs and a “coding school” launching this fall, these employers will have access to a new cohort of skilled software programmers. Again, this training will take months rather than years.

Yes, let’s rush training because that always works so well.

Everyone can contribute to our state when given the chance, but efforts to expand our workforce have traditionally excluded people with disabilities. They miss out on the fulfillment of gainful employment, and employers miss out on the talents of so many. As you may remember, I made this issue the central plank in my role as chair of the National Governors Association. I’m thrilled that governors across the country are making this a priority.

Start providing proper funding when these people with disabilities are students with disabilities and I’ll be happier Governor Markell.  How about providing more funding to school districts to lower classroom sizes so inclusive special education students get better supports and resources.  Hell, reduce all class sizes and restore the funding taken from these school districts years ago and get rid of charter school slush funds.

Here in Delaware, we are building on progress we have made since the General Assembly passed the Employment First Act with Representative Heffernan’s leadership. More than 20,000 Delawareans are contributing, are engaged in their communities, and have purpose like never before. One of our biggest IT companies, CAI, has committed to hiring people with autism because they excel in roles like software testing and programming. And there are many other stories to remind us of the abilities of these Delawareans – people like Lucinda Williams, executive director of the Brain Injury Association of Delaware – and Alaric Good, who unloads supply trucks and manages the front desk at Walgreens.

I’m going to agree with you on this one.

Here is what people like Lucinda and Alaric have taught us: when we focus on the ability, rather than the disability, we are able to do amazing things, together. Please recognize them.

But here is where we are going to have to disagree.  While we may agree people need to see the ability and not the disability, the disability is still there.  How about, once again, beefing up special education in this state, and not for the sole purpose of increasing standardized test scores.  Because the result, as you will soon see once Smarter Balanced scores come out, will be horrific.

This year, DHSS will launch two programs to give Delawareans with disabilities a fair shot at employment. One will help young people plan their career while supporting them with transportation, personal care, and assistive technology. Another will provide specialized employment supports for adults with mental health needs and substance use disorders.

How about providing more funding for these things when they are students, so the horrors of school don’t follow them into adulthood.  Provide resources for bullying of students with disabilities, proper IEP meetings, and more training for our educators on different disabilities.

Preparing Delawareans to seize the opportunities of the future starts long before they enter job specific training. All of our children deserve a world-class education from day one.

Is Day One the moment of conception?  What defines a world-class education? Test and punish or students learning many different subjects to expand their choices.  One size does not fit all Governor Markell but that is exactly what you have sold on your education agendas.

I’m proud of our educators, like teacher of the year Megan Szabo; our principals, like Mark Pruitt from Conrad Schools of Science; and other school officials, like the Chief of our Chiefs, Superintendent Mark Holodick, all of whom are working so hard to help our students succeed.

How about the six priority school principals who face the toughest challenges of any principal in this state?  Schools who have not received proper funding for years, but now they are to be judged based on standardized test scores the legislature and yourself said come from a test that is no longer valid.  Yet, you will use last years scores for a second year in a row because you know the Smarter Balanced scores will be horrible.  Invite all of the educators in our state to your next State of the State and I will be impressed.  Otherwise, stop singing the praises of a few.  It’s getting insulting and very old.

Please join me in thanking them and their colleagues.

Thank you to all the educators in our state.  None of you are perfect, but all of you are faced with the burden of conforming to the DOE and Markell’s Rodel agendas.  I want to say I’m sorry on behalf of our state for this.

We know that the education we received years ago will not be enough to prepare students to thrive in our new economy. So we’re making investments and improvements across our education system. Our educators are teaching to higher academic standards.

Yeah, students are doing work two grades ahead in 5th grade.  All for a test that over 70% of them will fail.  I know you are making investments, but the students and educators won’t get the payoff.  You and your Rodel-sponsored corporate education reform buddies reap the benefits from these shenanigans.

We have doubled the number of high school students who take college classes in the last year. And the number of students taking AP classes has doubled over the last decade. That means hundreds of additional students graduate from high school with college credit.

Because you don’t have faith in our colleges to teach college courses, and it allows you to “invest” more in our high schools.  Once again, who benefits?

Ninety percent of children’s brain development occurs before they even enter kindergarten. So thanks to your support, we have enrolled more than 3,000 additional high-needs children in the best early childhood centers in the past two years. And we’ve given grants to 89 top early learning programs to offer the highest quality infant care to more of our neediest kids. We know that care is expensive and hard-to-find, yet key to our children’s success.

I will fully admit I don’t know enough about these programs and grants to comment.  I can play fair.

We have also invested in language immersion programs because our children will have greater opportunities in the global economy when they can speak more than one language. After only two and a half years, we have 1,400 students spending half of their school day learning in Chinese or Spanish. And we’ll keep expanding next year.

Common Core in English is bad enough, but now you want more to do it in different languages?  Slow your roll Governor Markell!  And where is all the funding coming from on this and what happens when it runs out?

We’re recruiting and retaining great educators and principals, because we know that nothing is more important for our students’ success than the people who teach them and lead their schools.

Yes, through fast-track education certification programs like Teach for America and Relay Graduate School because you want to bust the teacher unions and have less experienced and less educated “teachers” in our schools so they can sit back and watch children learn over the internet through Rodel funded programs like 2Revolutions.  I’ve seen the Vision of the future Governor Markell, and it is not bright.

That’s why we have spent more than a year carefully crafting an improved compensation system for new educators, and for current teachers who want to participate. We’ll raise starting salaries and allow educators to earn more by taking on leadership responsibilities while remaining in the classroom.

But you’ll screw over those who want to do more and get a masters degree and not pay them more for this advanced knowledge.  Which would not happen for those who know more in companies like McKinsey, right?

With leadership from DSEA and feedback from teachers statewide, the committee you established last year will make a proposal this spring. I thank Senators Sokola and Pettyjohn, as well as Representatives Kenton and Williams and former Representative Scott for their contributions to the committee.

And yet the DOE has scheduled many of these meetings that are inconvenient to teachers across the state and even kicked teachers out at one event because the DOE had one event at a library while another event was going on close by.  No public school district teacher likes this plan.

Communities across the state, from Western Sussex to Wilmington have urged that we reexamine the way we pay for education.

Yes we have!  We want the General Assembly to go over Race To The Top funding with a fine-tooth comb.  How many boards does Paul Herdman and other “education” leaders sit on of the companies that most benefited from Race To The Top?  How many charter schools have benefited from education funding while public school districts are left to whither on the vine?

In the coming months, at the recommendation of House Education Committee Chair Earl Jacques, President Blevins, Speaker Schwartzkopf and I will create a school funding task force to make recommendations that would spur more innovation in our schools and address inequities for our neediest students. We cannot prepare our students to seize the opportunities of the new economy with a funding system developed three-quarters of a century ago.
But didn’t you change a lot of that funding system five years ago with needs-based funding?  Didn’t you cut funding and never restore the full amounts to the neediest students?  Yes you did.

That work is particularly important for our high-needs students, including those who have been at the center of our efforts to transform Wilmington’s Priority Schools. I know the debate around these efforts reflect a commitment on the part of everybody in this chamber and many beyond to do what is right for our most at-risk children.

Yes, my commitment to these children hasn’t waivered one bit.  And “priority schools” are not the answer during your test and punish administration.  What is right is to stop this under any and all circumstances.

However, while we are entitled to our own opinions, we are not entitled to our own facts. And the facts are clear. The students in these schools aren’t making sufficient progress, while students with similar challenges are making extraordinary progress in other schools.

When you manipulate those facts, those facts are not clear.  And we all know it Jack.  Those other students you speak of are in schools that have not shown long-term success, only an ability to mindlessly provide “rigor” and an ability to teach to the test.  Many of these students who transfer to public school districts are far beyond their classmates and are socially withdrawn.  We call the schools they came from charter schools.  If progress is only measured under one cohort, then YOU Governor Markell have failed these students.

We understand that these students bring significant challenges to school each day. Challenges of poverty. Of homelessness. Of unstable family situations. These are tragic problems that we are fully focused on addressing through economic development, housing, and other initiatives across state government.

Yeah, it just took voting Matt Denn in as Attorney General to get these issues addressed.  You and Beau Biden dropped the ball on this and now you want to piggyback on Denn’s ideas.  Real classy, given that you allowed this to happen in our largest city for the past six years…

And we know that educators in the Priority Schools are working passionately to help these children.

Is that why you want to fire half of those educators and get rid of the principals?  Your hypocrisy is larger than your ego Governor.

But for too long, problems of poverty have condemned these students to low expectations. They only get one chance at an education. They can’t wait any longer.

They can’t wait any longer, or the Community Education Building can’t wait any longer to fill up slots in the mostly empty building?  Or is it the hedge fund managers and investors who will see their portfolio massively increase when a charter management organization such as KIPP, Basis Schools, or Uncommon Schools comes to town?

That’s why we took action. We’re prepared to invest more than six million dollars to support great teachers and leaders in helping our neediest students thrive. We have required the Red Clay and Christina School Districts to develop a new approach to turning these schools around, by doing things like extending the school day, offering after-school programs, and providing hungry children with three meals a day.

You have forced Red Clay and Christina to adhere to an MOU that was written by eagle-eye attorneys to punish and humiliate these schools.  But you missed one thing Jack.  Did these attorneys consult every single IEP team in these schools when you are changing special needs students educational placement by extending school hours and offering (make that mandatory for lower scoring students) extended school year services?  Cause I don’t see that specifically addressed in the MOUs for each school.

We’ve been working closely to support the districts in this effort, and we are days away from receiving their plans. If these plans give our students the opportunities they deserve, we will approve them and move forward together. 

Opportunities they deserve, or opportunities the investors and corporate education reform companies will have as a result of these plans?  We both know the answer to that.  When you say “working closely to support the districts” would you correlate that to holding a gun to their heads and making them do your bidding or you will take their schools when that is your intention all along?  You don’t care about the schools plans.  This has been choreographed for a long time, and you have to be salivating for the moment you make an announcement.  That’s when the fun begins for those who oppose this!

Delaware House of Representatives Planning Charter Moratorium Bill For Wilmington

Charter School Moratorium

Thank you to Avi Wolfman-Arent from Newsworks for reporting on this! Read all about it here:

Avi said it all, but I am not shocked.  Could this derail any priority school plans if it passes?



Some Michigan Special Education History: A Lesson for All States by Marcie Lipsitt

Michigan Special Education

This was posted on Nancy Bailey’s Education Website today.  This blog covers many special education issues.  When I read what has been going on in Michigan,  I was shocked.  This kind of activity, in any state, needs to be stopped immediately.  Special education is not a money game.  It is not something to be perverted or corrupted.  These are our children.  These are 15-20% of our children if current trends continue.

By Marcie Lipsitt

Michigan once had a proud heritage of believing in the educational rights of our students with disabilities.

But what has transpired over the past 39 years is not worthy of our history books or a wondrous fairy tale of children’s dreams come true. For Michigan’s 200,000 students with an Individualized Education Programs (IEP), it has been a long, treacherous, and disappointing road to what we call a “Free Appropriate Pubic Education.”

One shining moment in this dark and disillusioning history took place on December 11, 2014, but this is just one victory in a sea of losses, and Michigan parents, along with local, state and federal, special education, disability and civil rights organizations, must prepare themselves for what’s to come in 2015 and ahead.

To read more, please go to

Why All Citizens Need To Declare War On Delaware’s Department Of Education



Bluntly: since Mark Murphy took over from Ms. Lillian Lowery, the sole focus of Delaware’s Department of Education has been to privatize education across New Castle County.  By “privatizing”, we are specifically mean “charters”.

This is Rodel , (a wealthy group who are paid to achieve one single business purpose), and it should be a surprise to no one, the the current head of Delaware’s Department of Education was culled from out of that organization.

The modus of operation is clear.  They do all to achieve this one single mean.


A. Why would highly damaging charter legislation be comprised in secret, a decision the Attorney General belatedly said was unconstitutional and illegal?

B. Why would that same bill be rushed through General Assembly without being debated in full?  And quickly signed before any legislator could change their mind over a re-vote?

C. Why would bills that changed the level…

View original post 853 more words

Capital Board of Education Meeting Tonight Draws A Huge Crowd To Support High School Principal

Capital School District

The Capital School District Board of Education meeting tonight was a packed house, in spite of very icy roads in Dover, DE.  Most of the crowd was there to support the Dover High School Principal, Dr. Evelyn Edney.  Edney’s contract was not renewed by the board in the November executive session of their board meeting, despite a recommendation to renew by Capital Superintendent Dr. Michael Thomas.

There were about fifty public comments submitted, but Board President Kay Dietz-Sass limited the comments to a maximum of three minutes each for two blocks of fifteen minutes each.  Edney’s supporters claimed her non-renewal would set back race relations 50 years in the capital of Delaware.  Some gave exact details of how much a potential lawsuit would cost the district.  Edney, an African-American, was supported by several members of the Dover community.  The board did add another fifteen minutes at the end of the evening, allowing an additional half hour of public comment.

In an article in the Dover Post from December 17th, 2014, a teacher at the high school said in the 12/10 Capital Board meeting “Under her leadership, she has gotten Dover High School out of the state’s partnership zone program, met average yearly progress (AYP) goals and increased graduation and attendance rates,” he told the board. “She is a leader that puts the students first and I am asking that the DHS contract be put back on the agenda for February 2015 and revisit the decision, giving more time for community input.”

Many of the commenters at tonight’s board meeting demanded to know why Edney’s contract was not being renewed.  Dietz-Sass told the commenters they could not discuss personnel issues based on laws protecting employees.  One commenter asked which law this was, to which Dr. Thomas told the commenter he would check with the Board attorney and would get back in touch with him.  Another commenter actually said he was going to start a petition to disband the school board and would give it to Governor Markell.  I don’t think the Governor has that kind of power over a local education agency school board, but they are welcome to try.

In terms of allegations of Edney’s race playing a factor into the decision, that would be tough to prove given that Capital has many African-American principals.  I do think the board should give a valid reason to Edney why her contract wasn’t renewed, but I don’t think members of the community should make it into a bigger issue.  There could be a multitude of issues beyond a track record of improvements for the high school.  That should be between Edney and the Board.  Just my two cents…

For more information on the Dover Post article from 12/17/14, please go here:

Delaware Senate Submits Resolution To Create Task Force for Visually Impaired Students

Visually Impaired Students Task Force

I heard about this one last week, but I didn’t want to get anything out there until it was up on the Delaware Legislature website.  This was actually one of the recommendations from the IEP Task Force, as members didn’t feel that task force could give the issues facing the visually impaired enough time to truly tackle those problems.  I’m glad to see Senator Lawson took the baton and ran with it!  I expect this will be passed by the House next week.

From the actual Senate Concurring Resolution #2, which has already passed the Delaware Senate:

SPONSOR: Sen. Lawson & Sen. Lopez & Sen. Hall-Long & Sen. Poore & Sen. McBride
Sens. Bonini, Cloutier, Hocker, Pettyjohn, Richardson, Sokola, Townsend; Reps. Baumbach, Briggs King, Carson, Gray, Heffernan, Hensley, Hudson, Q. Johnson, Kenton, Matthews, Miro, Mitchell, Outten, Potter, Ramone, D. Short, Spiegelman, Wilson







WHEREAS, students who are blind or visually impaired have complex learning needs and require specific interventions and instruction from specialized teachers of the visually impaired (TVIs), certified orientation & mobility instructors, and other related service providers; and

WHEREAS, students who are blind or visually impaired require appropriate accommodations, modifications materials to facilitate access to information, and adaptations designed to address their unique educational needs; and

WHEREAS, students who are blind or visually impaired require systematic and regular instruction in the Expanded Core Curriculum from certified teachers and other specialists and technicians who are properly trained to teach such specialized and unique skills, including but not limited to, technology and computer proficiency, braille literacy, safe and independent mobility, age-appropriate career education, independent living skills, and social interaction skills; and

WHEREAS, the Division for the Visually Impaired (DVI) currently provides academic and life skills instructions to 260 individuals from birth to age 21 who are deemed eligible to receive such services; and

WHEREAS, DVI has surpassed its legislatively mandated student teacher ratio of 28:1 for the delivery of educational services; and

WHEREAS, the educational resources for students who are blind or visually impaired are constrained by the division of responsibility and authority between two state agencies, the Department of Health and Social Services and the Department of Education; and

WHEREAS, The IEP Improvement Task Force, established by Senate Concurrent Resolution 63 to examine means to improve the IEP process, determined that the unique educational needs of students with visual impairments are not being met through the existing IEP process and recommended establishment of a separate task force assigned to specifically address the needs of students who are blind and visually impaired.


BE IT RESOLVED by the Senate of the 148th General Assembly of the State of Delaware, the House of Representatives concurring therein, that the Blind and Visually Impaired Education Task Force is hereby created by the General Assembly.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the membership of the Blind and Visually Impaired Education Task Force shall be as follows:

  1. Two members of the State Senate, a member of the majority party appointed by the Senate President Pro Tem and a member of the minority party appointed by the Senate Minority Leader;
  2. Two members of the Delaware House of Representatives, a member of the majority party appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives and a member of the minority party appointed by the House Minority Leader;
  3. A representative from the Governor’s office;
  4. The Secretary of Education or the Secretary’s designee;
  5. The Secretary of Health and Social Services or the Secretary’s designee;
  6. Two parents of students who are visually impaired, from a variety of age groups and geographic areas, one to be appointed by the Chair of the Senate Education Committee and one to be appointed by the Chair of the House Education Committee;
  7. Two parents of students who are blind, from a variety of age groups and geographic areas, one to be appointed by the Chair of the Senate Education Committee and one to be appointed by the Chair of the House Education Committee;
  8. Two individuals who are blind or visually impaired, one to be appointed by the Senate President Pro Tem and one to be appointed by the Speaker of the House;
  9. The Director of the Division for the Visually Impaired;
  10. Two Teachers for the Visually Impaired, one Orientation and Mobility Specialist, and one Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor who are certified and actively working with blind and visually impaired students in the State of Delaware where preschool, elementary, middle, and high school educational service areas are each represented, to be appointed by the Director of the Division for the Visually Impaired;
  11. The Executive Director of the Delaware Association of the Blind or the Executive Director’s designee;
  12. The Executive Director of the Delaware Parent Information Center or the Executive Director’s designee;
  13. The Chair of the Vocational Rehabilitation Advisory Council for the Blind or the Chair’s designee;
  14. The Director of the Delaware Birth to Three Early Intervention System or the Director’s designee;
  15. A member of the Governor’s Advisory Council for Exceptional Citizens, appointed by the Chair of the Council;
  16. An assistive technology specialist trained with blindness and visual impairment technology assessments, evaluations, and use in educational settings, to be appointed by the Director of the Division for the Visually Impaired;
  17. Two local education agency special education directors, to be appointed by the Secretary of Education;
  18. The President of the Delaware State Education Association or the President’s designee;
  19. An ophthalmologist and a low-vision optometrist appointed by the Secretary of Health and Social Services;
  20. Two persons who teach special education in Delaware public schools, to be appointed by the Secretary of Education.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Task Force shall convene its first meeting no later than 30 days after enactment.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the member of the Delaware State Senate appointed by the President Pro Tem shall serve as the chair of the Task Force, and shall convene the first and subsequent meetings.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Task Force shall report to the General Assembly and Governor by June 1, 2015 on the following topics:

  1. The administrative structure and authority of the Division for the Visually Impaired (DVI) in regards to education;
  2. Existing Teachers for the Visually Impaired and other vision service providers;
  3. Compensation and benefits for teaching staff;

iii. Development of quality standards for teachers and related professionals serving blind and visually impaired students.

  1. DVI’s funding sources designated for use in educating students in the State of Delaware;
  2. Appropriate educational services delivery model;
  3. The disposition of the Resource Rooms in New Castle, Kent and Sussex Counties;
  4. Assistive technology provisions;
  5. Individual Education Plans (IEP) for the blind and visually impaired;
  6. Post-secondary transition planning and programming.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that staff support for the Task Force shall be provided by the Delaware Department of Education.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that suitable copies be delivered to each appointee and appointing authority.



SYNOPSISThis Concurrent Resolution creates the Blind and Visually Impaired Education Task Force.

AUTHOR: Sen. Lawson