It’s Optoutpalooza! Student Walk-outs, Computer Opt Outs, & Teacher Protests

“Today’s fiasco once again demonstrates that Florida testing policy is being driven by politicians and ideologues, not educators.”

“We Are Not A Test Score.”

“We honestly believe that The State of New Jersey, by forcing us to administer this time-devouring test, is engaged in behavior destructive to the educational well being of our students.”

While the Smarter Balanced Assessment doesn’t start in Delaware for another eight days, many states started the Pearson created PARCC test today.  But it looks like many students and teachers didn’t take part.  Diane Ravitch must have had a field day with her blog today.  Every article was about huge problems with this test.  Another blog, based out of Florida called Scathing Purple Musings had plenty to say about it as well!

In New Mexico, hundreds of students just walked out of the tests!  The biggest walkout occurred at Albuquerque High School.  Students had signs indicating “We Are Not A Test Score” and “Common Core Fails”.  All told, twelve high schools in the state had walkouts.  Another student in the Santa Fe School District got suspended for telling students they can opt out of the test.  Diane Ravitch put the student on her blog honor roll!

In Florida, it looks like the computer system was sick of standardized testing as anywhere from 8 to 12 school districts were unable to log into the system.  While this wasn’t the PARCC, it was the first day of the Florida Standards Assessment.  Leon County has told the state they won’t try to give it anymore until the state DOE can confirm it won’t happen again.

Illinois had bad news today.  The Superintendent of the Chicago School District had announced she was only giving the PARCC to 10% of students.  She caved on this today which I’m sure shocked the other 90% of the students.

But the biggest news came out of Newark, New Jersey.  Teachers at one of the most successful schools in the state, Science Park High School, wrote a very long letter protesting the PARCC test, calling it “Thirty days of destruction.”  But in the rest of the state, thousands of students walked out and opted out.  30% of the students refused the test in one district alone.  That should be an interesting conversation with the state DOE!

Speaking of the DOE, I wonder how many will show up tomorrow night at the Delaware PTA sponsored parent opt out town hall event?

All of these articles can be read at http://dianeravitch.net/ and https://bobsidlethoughtsandmusings.wordpress.com/

Breaking News: Priority Schools in Christina Will Convert To Red Clay in 2016

According to a VERY anonymous source in the Delaware Department of Education, this is the plan with the three priority schools in the Christina School District:   Next year, Stubbs, Bancroft and Bayard will remain in Christina as they currently are but they will be given to Red Clay Consolidated School District in the 2016-2017 academic year.  Apparently a very small team from the Christina School Board came to the DOE for a meeting.  This meeting was hinted at in the 2/27 deadline letter in regards to the WEAC recommendations.

After everything, Christina still loses the three schools, but under their own terms.  It is unknown at this point if the schools will still have priority status by then because no one knows what will happen with the reauthorization of ESEA.  In my opinion, Christina successfully thwarted the DOE at nearly every level.  They never outright caved in to the demands inflicted upon them and said “okay, take our schools.”  This is usually what happens to priority schools in other states.  Red Clay signed their memorandum of understanding last year.

Teachers will not be forced to reapply for their jobs and the principals will get to stay.  At least or the 2015-2016 year, according to my DOE source.  What many people don’t see is how very powerful Red Clay Consolidated School District will become as a result of this.  They will become the biggest school district in the state.  While they have not authorized any charter schools in the last six years because of their own moratorium, do not forget they are indeed a charter school authorizer.  The only other entity in the state for this is the DOE.

Recent events on Red Clay’s own board suggest a power play is in the offing.  There has been a jockeying of power going on, and the attempted coup d’état Kilroy spoke of yesterday is just the beginning.  The charter players in Wilmington want in on the Red Clay board because they are an authorizer.  These schools would have become Red Clay schools anyways due to the upcoming legislative push to implement the recommendations of the Wilmington Education Advisory Committee.  The status quo in Delaware has always been charter boards on one side and traditional boards on the other.  The moratorium on charter schools in Wilmington is a smokescreen to let the dust settle.  I predict many more charters in Red Clay Consolidated in the next few years.

Was the priority schools initiative a smoke and mirrors power play brought on by Governor Markell and the Wilmington power brokers?  Given the events brought on by the announcement and what came immediately after would give weight to this theory.  Many answers for this can be found here: https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2014/12/27/the-priority-schools-foias-part-2-kilroysdelaware-ed_in_de-rceaprez-apl_jax-ecpaige-nannyfat-roof_o-delawarebats-netde-edude-delaware-edchat/

The pieces have been in play for years, and Red Clay could become a charter-wide district in the next few years.  But would it be individual charters as they operate now, or could we see a large charter chain such as KIPP swoop in and slowly wrest control from the original charter operators?  I’ve touched on this topic before.  The recent takeover of Family Foundations Academy from the East Side Charter School gives weight to this theory.  The Charter Collaborative in Wilmington, which includes East Side, Kuumba, Thomas Edison and Prestige gives even more weight.  Alignments such as these, on their own, do not amount to much.  But when looking down on the entire Wilmington landscape and the events that have been allowed to happen, everything has a purpose.  And even though they have been very quiet lately, do not count out Rodel.  They may appear to be out of the picture, but make no mistake, they framed it.