February School Board Meeting Schedule, Go & Opt Your Child Out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment

Our children are more than test scores.  Delaware parents!  This is it.  It’s February 2015!  The dreaded Smarter Balanced Assessment starts in 35 days.  Unless you want your child pulling their hair out for many days over this test, do the right thing and OPT YOUR CHILD OUT OF THE SMARTER BALANCED ASSESSMENT!

The Delaware Department of Education is terrified too many parents will do it.  Why?  Because then the scores won’t be a measurement they can use to manipulate education in our state.   The DOE is not your friend.  Whether your child goes to a public school district, charter, magnet or vocational school.  Everything the DOE has done since Jack Markell began his reign as Governor has led to THIS POINT! Every single parent in the state who has a child in a public school needs to go to their district or charter’s school board meeting this month and OPT OUT!   And trust me when I tell you some of them WANT you to do this!  They would like nothing more than this test and the Common Core curriculum to disappear.

Here is a schedule of each district’s board meetings:

February 4th (tonight): Academia Antonia Alonso (bring a letter to the school)

February 9th: Sussex Tech

February 10th: Appoquinimink, Christina, Colonial, Family Foundations Academy, Polytech

February 11th: Odyssey Charter School,

February 12th: Kuumba Academy

February 16th: Delaware College Prep

February 17th: Caesar Rodney, Delmar, Gateway Lab School, Milford, Newark Charter School, Prestige Academy, Seaford

February 18th: Campus Community School, Capital, Laurel, Positive Outcomes, Reach Academy For Girls, Red Clay Consolidated, Smyrna, Sussex Academy, Woodbridge

February 19th: Academy of Dover, Early College High School

February 23rd: Delaware Military Academy, Delmar

February 23rd: Brandywine, Indian River, New Castle County Votech, Thomas Edison Charter School

February 24th: Charter School of Wilmington, Moyer Academy, Providence Creek Academy

February 25th: East Side Charter, MOT Charter School,

February 26th: Cape Henlopen, First State Montessori, Lake Forest, Las Americas Aspiras

*No definitive board meeting posted for Delaware Academy of Public Safety & Security (website down)

Now that you know when to go to the board meetings for your child’s school, this is what you need to do. Write a letter indicating you want to opt out your child from the Smarter Balanced Assessment. Make sure the letter has your child’s name, your name, what grade they are in, what school it is, and the date. It doesn’t matter what your reason is for the opt out, because it is your right as a parent.  However, I would write that your expect your child to be educated that day and not penalized for not taking the test.  Let them know “sit and stare” is not an option.  Your child will not be allowed to be in the same room as those taking the test anyways.  Make a copy and bring the letter with you to the board meeting and sign up for public comment. Indicate on the public comment list that you will only speak for about 20 seconds. When it is your turn to speak, announce your name, where you live, and where your child goes to school. Then just say these very easy words “My son/daughter ________ will not take the Smarter Balanced Assessment. I am opting them out. Thank you.” And then hand the board president your letter.

Charter, magnet and vocational schools, this includes you as well. We haven’t heard too much from parents at the charters about these tests, but then again we don’t know how much you may or may not know about this test. We know teachers at charter schools aren’t really digging the Common Core standards, but they won’t speak of it. If anyone is praising it to the high heavens they are either a) part of some education group sponsored by the DOE or state government, or b) has received some type of great praise or bonus money.  It’s very dangerous for your children. Secretary of Education Mark Murphy expects 70% of children to fail the test. How would he know that? Because he has seen how bad students did on the field test last Spring.  Brian Touchette, the Director of Assessment at the DOE said he expects scores to be very low for the first “few years”.

Your child will come home with a schedule very soon with testing dates on it.  Take a very long, hard look at how many hours and days your child will be forced to take this test.

It isn’t up to any organization or a teacher to do this for you.  This is an individual choice that you would need to make.  It is a courageous decision, and one that will reap more reward than anything else in the long run.  The school boards don’t necessarily have to decide either. The teachers can’t publicly speak out about it for fear of losing their jobs. They have the most to lose as their annual review will be tied to this test, which is taken once a year. This is a parent thing. It is your fundamental right to do this. If enough parents do this, the funding threat won’t matter, because the state is not going to cut funding on all schools. Their would be a revolution, especially since they never fully restored funding cuts to education during the recession.

The Delaware DOE received $119 million in Race To The Top funding. Instead of using those funds to restore that funding (Race To The Top amounted to a very small part of the state budget for education), they spent the money on beefing up the DOE, hiring data coaches, teacher effectiveness groups, and a lot of other wasteful spending. This has been a mess since it began, and your children will suffer from this test.

How many times have you looked at their homework and said “What the hell is this?”

How many times have you seen them reading a book that you thought was completely inappropriate for their age?

Have you noticed more behavior problems with your child?  This is because the teachers have so much pressure to drill the daily lesson plan for Common Core so they don’t get behind.  The students also have a ridiculous amount of pressure to keep up.  The teachers are speeding through material so fast they don’t have a lot of time for proper review of the material.  A good deal of the material is beyond the child’s capability of understanding as well.  Don’t believe Common Core is meant for catching up with China and other Asian countries.  Don’t believe it is there to make your child “college ready” and not have to take remedial classes.  If you are a parent of a special needs child, the writing is already on the wall for the toll this is having on our most vulnerable of children

After the Delaware DOE’s diabolical agenda with the priority schools, and using test scores that are no longer valid (DCAS) to pump up charter schools, it is obvious the DOE is going to manipulate any scores for their own twisted agendas.  So don’t let them do it.

This is a bold, risky endeavor. But it needs to happen. Parents need to take back education. You will get resistance, and you will be told this can’t happen. It doesn’t matter. Because it is YOUR decision. Not the school, not the government, and not Governor Markell.  You don’t need anyone’s permission.  This is YOUR CHOICE.  But your child’s fate rests in your hands.  Please do the right thing!

As I mentioned in another post, I opted my own son out last October in a letter to the editor of The State News.  Personally, I’m not worried about this test anymore.  As a citizen of Delaware, I’m terrified at what can be done with these test scores.  Our children are more than test scores.

Red Clay Priority School Plans Approved By Delaware DOE

In a move that probably shocks no one, the Delaware Department of Education approved the Red Clay Consolidated School District’s priority school plans.  This announcement was released today by the Evil Empire, sorry, Delaware DOE.  No word from them about what in the world they are going to do about Christina School District and their three priority schools as the chess match continues.  I find this announcement very interesting in light of the Wilmington Education Committee’s recommendations that Christina and Colonial relinquish their stake in the City of Wilmington’s schools.  Here is the DOE’s own Alison May with the press release:

Red Clay Priority Schools to move forward with school plans

Red Clay Consolidated School District’s three Priority Schools will provide new student supports, add Saturday and afterschool enrichment activities for students and families, and ensure greater parental involvement under plans that are moving forward after the Delaware Department of Education today approved the district to move onto the next steps in transforming these schools.

In September, Gov. Jack Markell and Secretary of Education Mark Murphy announced significant resources and support for the state’s six lowest-performing district schools, providing the opportunity for substantial changes in their approach to improve their students’ academic performance. These Priority Schools, all located within the City of Wilmington and split evenly between the Christina and Red Clay school districts, are eligible to share about $6 million to implement locally-developed, state-approved plans. The funding comes from several sources including federal School Improvement Grant and remaining Race to the Top resources.

Over the following four months, Red Clay leaders worked with educators, families and community members to develop school plans tailored to meet the unique needs of the students in Highlands Elementary, Shortlidge Academy, and Warner Elementary. The plans are in line with a Memorandum of Understanding agreed to by the district and DDOE.

Red Clay’s school board approved individual school plans on January 27, and after review by Delaware Department of Education staff and national experts, the schools will continue to work with the community, district, and state to finalize plans for the 2015-16 school year.

In the coming days, the department will provide feedback to Red Clay about ways to continue to strengthen all three plans during that process so that final plans can be approved in the spring.

“We know that many of the children in these communities face unique challenges that require more support and resources. Thanks to Red Clay’s leadership and collaboration with its school communities, Highland, Shortlidge, and Warner now will have the plans and resources to better meet students’ needs,” Murphy said. 

Red Clay Deputy Superintendent Hugh Broomall said his district is ready to move forward.

“We’re excited about the opportunity,” he said. “The work is hard, but we’re ready to engage in the process.”

Highlights of the School Plans

 

All Schools:

  • Parents will notice better coordinated referrals to community services for families and supports for teachers to improve behavior management in the classroom.
  • Schools will implement the use of iPads and laptops for students and teachers to improve technology literacy for students, with support to help teachers integrate this technology into their lessons.
  • Each school will host a leadership team, which will include a parent and community member, to help inform the decision-making of the school leader. The team’s responsibilities will include: organizing correspondence to the school community on developments in academic and social-emotional programming, improving academic growth and reviewing academic goals, monitoring progress on the implementation of the school’s plan toward its goals, reviewing achievements of teachers, and revisiting ongoing supports to ensure their success.
  • The district is implementing a new math curriculum in all three schools.

Shortlidge and Warner Elementary Schools

  • The district will reconfigure grades at two of the schools, with Shortlidge becoming a PK-3 grade campus and Warner becoming 4-5 grade campus.
  • Schools will offer Saturday Library as a time set aside for students and families to study a particular topic and for families to read with their children.
  • Schools will offer increased after school enrichment activities that are academic in focus but have character-building components that teach students skills such as sportsmanship and self-esteem. For example, Reading Basketball would offer students reading remediation with basketball games as a reward for participating.

Highlands Elementary School

  • Highlands will foster opportunities for parent-led activities for families at the school, such as family fitness night and a science expo.
  • Reading and math activities at Highlands will ensure parents have the tools needed to support their students to be successful in core content areas.
  • And Saturday activities at Highlands for students and families will increase tech literacy of students and provide parents with life skills workshops.

Alison May alison.may@doe.k12.de.us (302) 735-4000

February is DOOM, aka Delaware Opt Out Month! How To Opt Your Child Out of Smarter Balanced

I wrote most of this last October when I created DOOM: Delaware Opt Out Month.  This was five months before the Smarter Balanced Assessment will come out, so it was probably too soon.  Now, things are different.  Since I wrote this, the Delaware DOE has tried to trick parents with a threatening letter telling them they are breaking the law if they opt their child out.  In Sunday School, they called this A LIE!!!!

This test starts in 35 days.  Delaware parents, you have 35 days to opt your child out of the Smarter Balanced test.  And it is COMPLETELY LEGAL for you to do so.  There is NO law on the books that says you can’t.  The Delaware Department of Education and your local school district, charter, magnet or vocational school may say you can’t or you are breaking the law.  But guess what?  They have NO legal ground, and they know it.

In the meantime, the Delaware PTA is sponsoring two Parent Opt Out Town Halls in the next 30 days.  While this organization doesn’t have a stand on the issue, mostly based on the fact that their national organization hasn’t supported the opt out movement, they are certainly willing to bring parents together to talk about it.  This makes them my new friend!

I’ve taken the liberty of creating Facebook groups for each school district in Delaware.  This way parents can get together and plan opt-out strategies together.  I suggest going to the school board meeting in your district for the month of February, speak for 20 seconds about who your child or children are, that you want them to opt out, and give an opt out letter to the school board president.

What do you need to do?  Join your district opt out group on Facebook, and SPREAD THE WORD. Tell your friends, tell your neighbors, tell your enemies, tell anyone who will listen!  Just talk about it.  If you want to be really radical, tell people at church, put flyers on windshields at your local grocery store, give them to parents at school sporting events, just do SOMETHING!  Because if you do nothing, nothing will happen.  Share this link on Facebook, put it on Twitter, Instagram, Tunblr, wherever you can!  Make opt out Valentine’s Day cards for the parents of your child’s classmates!

To get a quick link to all the Facebook groups for each district, just go to this list:

Appoquinimink: https://www.facebook.com/groups/811176278901676/

Brandywine: https://www.facebook.com/groups/750657841672044/

Caesar Rodney: https://www.facebook.com/groups/330217710494265/

Cape Henlopen: https://www.facebook.com/groups/358626120965599/

Capital: https://www.facebook.com/groups/capitaloptout/

Christina: https://www.facebook.com/groups/739051449503566/

Colonial: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1492448737676855/

Delmar: https://www.facebook.com/groups/659590697473347/

Indian River: https://www.facebook.com/groups/343734129141847/

Lake Forest: https://www.facebook.com/groups/328549060664391/

Laurel: https://www.facebook.com/groups/375501729267620/

Milford: https://www.facebook.com/groups/578841975553978/

New Castle County Vo-Tech: https://www.facebook.com/groups/703996539678113/

Polytech: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1491857177767603/

Red Clay Consolidated: https://www.facebook.com/groups/290247144492167/

Seaford: https://www.facebook.com/groups/557562024345929/

Smyrna: https://www.facebook.com/groups/640600302723389/

Sussex Tech: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1522571074626892/

Woodbridge: https://www.facebook.com/groups/556125087864842/

All Charter Schools in Delaware: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1477351309213561/

If you want to know all the reasons why Common Core is bad for your child, I highly recommend joining this group:

Delaware Against Common Core: https://www.facebook.com/groups/157115501116902/

I will also keep this in my menu guide with links below the title of this blog.

It’s past time parents started taking their children’s education back and helped to get rid of Common Core and standardized testing once and for all.  It will never happen if you do nothing.  It is controversial, and it will piss people off, but if enough of us do it, things will change.  This test and punish agenda has gone on long enough.  The only way to stop this insanity is to speak with our voices loud and clear!

There will be more priority schools in our state.  This will happen every year and they will base this solely on standardized assessment scores.  With Smarter Balanced, the field test scores came in and they were horrible.  The vast majority of students who took it weren’t able to get a proficient score on it.  Is this something you want in your child’s permanent record?  The DOE has already said schools will be low for the next FEW YEARS.  If it takes a FEW YEARS, it isn’t the kids who aren’t proficient, it’s the test.  This is also a test where if you get the wrong answer, you can still get a right answer.  But you can get a right answer but if you don’t explain it the right way, you will have a wrong answer.  Tell me parents, how will that help your child in college or in the real world?  It won’t.  They want to dumb down our kids to push their own agendas.

Parents aren’t the only ones thinking opt out is a good choice, so you are not alone on this if you are already leaning towards it.  It’s a big choice, I understand.  Some may ask if I’ve opted my own son out.  Yes I did.  I did it through a letter to the editor in the Delaware State News, which posted on October 7th, 2014.  But if that isn’t sufficient, I spoke at the October Capital Board meeting, and I will do what I am asking every parent of a student in Delaware to do at a board meeting.  It is actually a relief once you do it, like a great weight has been lifted.  Yes, you will get grief for it, but your kid won’t have to take the test. Whatever your differences, wherever you come from, what you do, who you are- none of that matters.  It’s what’s best for our children.

Please go and join the Facebook page for your district.  I will stay on as admin until things get up and running, and then if you want to be an admin just let me know!  Thank you Delaware parents, and please do the right thing for your child.

EduShyster: College Completion Rates: Public Schools Beat Charters

Well isn’t this interesting…

Diane Ravitch's blog

EduShyster reports on a new study of college completion rates in Boston. It includes a comparison of Boston public schools vs. charter schools. http://edushyster.com/?p=6326

Students who attended public schools were more likely to get a college degree than their peers who attended charter schools.

“The report compared members of the respective classes of 2007 from the city’s high schools and five of our local academies of excellence. Fifty percent of the BPS students had scored a college degree within six years vs. 42% of their charter peers. Now I know what you’re thinking. That equals a difference of eight percent, and eight rhymes with *hate* and also *overstate.* Which is why it’s time to look at the numbers behind those numbers. The 2007 class of Boston high school grads consisted of 1700 students, of whom some 850 have now attained their post-secondary attainment. The 2007 class of Boston charter high…

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DE PTA Kent and Newcastle County Parent Opt Out Town Halls Scheduled! Register Now!!!

The following is taken from the Delaware PTA website:

Opt Out Town Halls

 Good evening,

As you are aware, Delaware PTA has not taken a position on the parent opt out. We realize that families and community members have very valid concerns regarding the efficacy of the assessment, impact to students and teachers and overall implementation process. As a result, we are dedicated to facilitating open and honest conversations among stakeholders to gain a better understanding of the expected impact and outcome of the assessment, the need for state assessments and parent options within this context.

These sessions will be moderated in an attempt to create an environment that is conducive to an open flow of communication and that will allow sufficient time for Q&A from attendees.

We will post communications and links to resources that the Delaware Department of Education and State Board of Education have provided to us, as well as additional resources from National PTA.

Although attendees will have the option to ask questions during the town hall, you will also have the opportunity to submit questions ahead of time when you register. Both sessions are open to the public, but we do ask that you register for the session so we can prepare accordingly.

The goal of the upcoming town halls is to provide a venue for parents, teachers and community members to come together and voice their concerns/questions and receive clear and accurate responses otherwise not available and/or clear in current printed or online communications from DPTA, DDOE or any other organization.

You may register for one of the following two sessions

February 19th

5:30pm -7:30pm

Delaware PTA State office

925 Bear Corbitt Rd

Bear, DE

 

March 3rd

5:30pm – 7:30pm

Dover Public Library

35 East Lockerman St.

Dover, DE