Official Press Release For Parent Press Conference on Delaware Education Sent To Media

As the number of parents joining the Parent Press Conference on April 1st grows by the hour, members of the media were sent the official press release for the event.  This was a massive press release sent to all the major media outlets in the tri-state area.   Parents can look forward to a very well-attended event with a lot of coverage.  If you would like to speak at the press conference, please arrive 15-20 minutes early, or feel free to contact me at the email in the press release.  Parking can be tight in this area, so you may want to arrive early.

 

 

The Official Delaware PTA Resolution On Opt Out

From the Delaware PTA website:

Delaware PTA Supports Parent’s right to Opt Out of Smarter Assessments

As the largest volunteer parent advocacy association, PTA has always supported choice, a parent’s right, obligation and responsibility to take an active role in their child’s education. We believe that a parent’s right to make decisions about their child’s participation in statewide assessments is part of this choice.

 Delaware PTA will not encourage any parent to opt their child out of the test. We firmly believe each decision and subsequent reason for opting out is unique. We also firmly believe that this is a personal decision that must be made by the parental unit. We realize that while there are parents that support the Smarter Assessments and have chosen to allow their child to participate in the assessment, there are also parents that do not support the assessment and do not want their child to participate in the assessment. We do not believe that it is appropriate to support one decision by restricting another.

 As a result, on March 24, 2015 the Delaware PTA Board of Managers passed a motion to support a parent’s choice to opt their student out of the Smarter Balanced Assessments.

This passage of this motion allows Delaware PTA to:

  • Advocate for a legislative process that allows a parent to opt their child from the Smarter Mathematics and Smarter ELA Assessments by supporting HB 50;
  • Work with parents, teachers and district leadership to ensure that any child not participating  in the assessment receives alternate academic instruction;
  • Address parent/teacher concerns of fear and/or intimidation regarding the parent opt out
  • Encourage parents to continue to collaborate with their child’s teacher to support academic success

We are aware of the state’s plans to convene a task force to assess the amount of testing state wide. We are also aware that some believe this should be our focus, and not the parent’s right to opt out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment. While we do agree that we need to reduce the amount of statewide testing, adopting this singular approach to the exclusion of acknowledging a parent’s right to opt out, ignores the fact that parent and teacher concerns with the Smarter Balanced Assessment go far beyond the amount of testing. We believe both issues should be addressed with fidelity and to do anything less is an affront to the many parents that have invested large amounts of time researching the assessment, communicating with teachers and building leadership and making painstaking decisions regarding their child’s participation in the Smarter Balanced Assessment.

We encourage our community partners, school districts and other stakeholders to support a parent’s choice to opt their child from the Smarter Balanced Assessment.

This is a HUGE step in the opt out movement Delaware parents!  That means more than 6,600 members of the Delaware PTA received a notice about this today.  The opt out movement is so powerful because of word of mouth and free advertising!  Thanks to the folks at Delaware PTA who made this happen, especially Dr. Terri Hodges and Yvonne Johnson!  You ladies are awesome!!!  I wouldn’t be surprised if someone from the Delaware PTA speaks at the Parent Press Conference, April 1st, 5pm, outside Legislative Hall in Dover (shameless plug).

Red Clay Board Member Adriana Bohm’s Incredible Opt Out Speech At March Board Meeting

As the parent opt out movement continues in Delaware, some of the larger school districts have not taken an official stance on the matter.  At the Red Clay Consolidated School District Board of Education meeting on March 18th, board members Adrianna Bohm gave an excellent speech on the parent opt out movement.  This is a must-read!

I want to personally thank Adriana Bohm for delivering this speech.  I was unable to attend, but I did hear it through Red Clay’s digital recording, and it was stirring and powerful.  I heard Bohm speak at a Wilmington City Council meeting last fall in regards to the priority schools initiative, and she has a very powerful voice.  I expect we will hear much more from Adriana in Delaware’s future.

Both the Capital and Christina Boards of Education have passed resolutions supporting the right for parents to opt their child out of standardized testing with no penalty to the student.  Other districts have verbally stated they would support opt out, such as Colonial, but no official board decision was made.

In the meantime, if you live in Red Clay Consolidated School District, please attend their April 15th board meeting and give public comment supporting parent opt out.  And don’t forget about the Parent Press Conference, covering parent opt out and education in Delaware from the parent’s perspective.  This event will be outside of Legislative Hall in Dover on April 1st at 5pm.  For more details, please go here:

https://www.facebook.com/events/962893793730222/

Bill To Give K-3 Students Basic Special Education Funding Clears Through Delaware House Education Committee

At the Delaware House Education Committee meeting today, Delaware State Rep. Kim Williams’ House Bill 30, which would allow students with basic special education needs to receive extra funding in grades Kindergarten to 3rd grade, was unanimously released rom the committee.

The bill’s next stop is the House Appropriations Committee due to a $10 million fiscal note attached to it.  My take on this: this should have never happened in the first place in Delaware.  Part of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), reauthorized in 2004, states schools must have adequate resources available for students on an IEP.  Delaware, in my opinion, is in Federal violation of this part of IDEA ever since Governor Jack Markell issued his Executive Order for needs-based funding and this necessary allotment didn’t go to these students.

Several parents have reported their children were denied IEPs in Delaware during these pivotal school years.  The fact that there was no extra funding available for these students has caused many parents to wonder if this was why.

Several Delaware Superintendents voiced their support for the legislation indicating it would give these students the supports they need, especially since the rates are climbing for students with disabilities.  Merv Daugherty, the Superintendent for Red Clay Consolidated, said his K-3 students in his school district are bigger than some of the other Delaware School Districts.  No representatives from charter schools or charter school organizations spoke up about the legislation and it did not appear any were in attendance.

House Education Committee Meeting & Senate Bill #10: Extending TFA In Delaware For Five More Years, Live!

The House Education Committee in Delaware is having a meeting going over some of the education bills introduced in the 148th General Assembly this year.  First up is Senate Bill #10:

This Act makes technical changes to the Delaware Performance Appraisal System (DPAS) II Advisory Committee membership and meeting dates. Additionally, this Act clarifies language regarding the Committee’s duties in order to better provide advice to the Secretary of the Department of Education and the State Board of Education in the promulgation of regulations relating to DPAS II.

Senator David Sokola introduced the bill to the Education Committee.  The purpose of the bill is not to change the program but to add an additional five years due to the sunset period ending this year.  State Rep. Miro asked about pay scales.  Executive Director of TFA Delaware Laurissa Schutt took the podium and said teachers are relatively paid the same.  State Rep. Edward Osienski asked about oversight.  It was revealed TFA will be writing their own report on this.  State Rep. Kim Williams is asking about retention rates for TFA employees in Delaware schools.  She asked Schutt about changing the timeframe for teachers to stay from the 2 year program to a 4 year program.  Schutt could not commit to that.  State Rep. John Kowalko said he wants the bill extended to 2016 and not 2020.  He feels the TEMBO report commissioned by the Delaware DOE is very biased.  He doesn’t feel TFA should be writing their own reports for the state.

Howard High School Principal said they started with nine TFAers, and still have four that have stayed on.  Heath Chasanov, Superintendent of Woodbridge, spoke in support of the bill and TFA.  He is also speaking for Susan Bunting, Superintendent of Idnian River in support of the bill.  Donald Blakey, Super for Colonial, is also praising TFA and the bill.  Donna Johnson, State Board of Education, said she is happy with the collaboration between TFA and Professional Development of all teachers.  They look forward to working with the Professional Standards Board on Regulation 1507.

Kim Williams asked for more clarity on the reporting from the DOE on where the members are.  There needs to be more accuracy with reporting.  State Rep. Mike Ramone said one great employee from TFA can bring the whole quality of teachers up at a school.  Schutt said Brandywine and Newcastle County Vo-Tech want to work with them on teacher-mentoring program. She said “We are never going to take over anything.  We have 22 teachers, and we will never reach that unless we have that deep collaborative level.”

Watching the crowd, State Rep. Deb Heffernan is very interested in the comments and questions during this topic.  Rep. Miro just said he doesn’t trust any report that comes from the Delaware DOE.

Senate Bill #10 passed the House Education Committee with 1 no vote.

IEP Task Force Bill Tabled Due To Delaware Charter Schools Network Interference

Senate Bill 33, sponsored by Delaware State Senator Nicole Poore, was tabled today in the Delaware Senate.  This legislation came about due to the hard work of 24 individuals on the IEP Task Force.  How does a bill, which passed through the Senate Education Committee, become LOT (left on table) when it is presented to the Senate?  Two words: Kendall Massett.  The director of the Delaware Charter Schools Network herself.

After the bill went through the Senate Education Committee with no unfavorable votes, with an amendment to clear up some of the language, Massett got involved and demanded the amendment to the bill be put in Title 31, which is the part of Delaware code covering welfare.  Why she was insistent on this being put there I can’t fathom because an IEP is an education issue which would belong in Title 14.  Unfortunately with the new General Assembly website, amendments to bills can’t be read.

Apparently, she didn’t like the fact that charter schools would be required to have one employee from each charter school getting specialized training from the Delaware Department of Education on the legal rules for Individualized Education Programs as well as access to resources available in helping students with disabilities.  Having attended every single one of the IEP Task Force meetings, I can say the subject of charter schools came up more than once.  I am not saying ALL charter schools, but many don’t have a clue in how to handle special education.  Many children have been denied IEPs at Delaware charters, “counseled out”, or denied entrance to charters because parents were told by charter school officials they don’t have the “resources” to help those children.

Any time this charter lobbyist gets her hooks into legislators, bills get screwed up in the General Assembly.  I would think the charters would want the extra assistance instead of paying out extra costs to special education attorneys and education funds for students.  But no, they want traditional schools to have this caveat as well.  Here’s a news flash Kendall: traditional schools can’t counsel students out and they can’t say “we can’t take your child”.  So if you don’t like the charters getting some heat, tell all your charters to do their job!

Do you want to take a wild guess why the task force didn’t include any charter school representatives?  Maybe it’s because the Delaware DOE picked the task force with approval from the legislators involved and knew who would be able to give expert advice on special education in Delaware schools.  When the DOE doesn’t think charters can give experts on a task force, you know something has to be seriously wrong.  If it was such a concern of yours during the task force, how come you didn’t show up to any meetings Kendall?  And now you want to stick your nose into a special education bill that is meant to help these disadvantaged students?  Just because your beloved charters got called out on actions they have themselves brought upon themselves for years?

Delaware legislators: this charter lobbyist is wielding WAY too much influence on your decisions for the good of ALL Delaware children.  The charter problem in this state is getting worse by the day, and many of you will do nothing but defend these schools and the money behind them.  You have allowed them to operate under very little scrutiny and when they are caught, you grow silent.  I am not saying ALL charters or ALL legislators.  But we all know who they are and far too many of you could care less.  As long as you keep the Governor happy you are content with segregation, discrimination and denial of services.  And while all this is going on, traditional schools are losing funding and resources while the DOE pumps money into companies that provide all these corporate education reform “services” and then turn around and fund other companies for more charters.  Wake up!  It’s seconds before midnight and you are still operating under the belief that charters are the next great thing.

Senators Brian Bushweller and Greg Lavelle must have received a mouthful from Kendall on this because they were the ones who initiated the discussion today that got this bill tabled.  In a Delawareonline article today, Bushweller stated the fact that charters weren’t represented on the task force was “very disappointing”.  And Lavelle, don’t even get me started.  He said he wasn’t aware of the amendment on the bill, but his wife was on the IEP Task Force.  This bill was introduced in January.  The IEP Task Force ran from September to December.  Did Bushweller or Lavelle, both of which voted yes for Senate Concurrent Resolution #63 in the 147th General Assembly which created the task force, even bother to read the recommendations or listen to the digital audio recordings from the task force?

It is a shameful day in Delaware when legislation that can and will help special needs students is tabled because the charter lobbyist decided she didn’t like some wording.  Shame on those who sided with her during discussion of this important bill.  Once again, everything has to be about the charters in Delaware.  Enough.

To read about Delawareonline’s take on this, which included NO mention whatsoever of the sneaky, crafty maneuvering of Kendall Massett, please go to:

http://www.delawareonline.com/story/firststatepolitics/2015/03/24/debate-delayed-disabilities-legislation/70401932/