The Tipping Point

A year ago today I made a resolution to myself that I would write about my son’s experiences with education in Delaware and do everything I could to educate others about the pitfalls and dangers in Delaware education.  While I didn’t start writing at this point, my mind was made up.  It wasn’t a question of what, it was just a matter of when.  To this end I started researching everything education related.

I came across a blog called Kilroy’s Delaware.  I had seen it once before, something about a meeting that was supposed to be open to the public, but they kept it closed.  But at this point in time, Kilroy was talking about all these charters up in Wilmington and which ones would close and which ones would never open.  There was a huge state board meeting in the coming week where tons of charter applications would be decided on.  I figured if anyone one knew the secrets of Delaware education, it would be him.

I emailed Kilroy and asked tons of questions.  I didn’t trust anyone at this point, and I knew asking questions would generate unwanted attention my way.  So I came up with a fake alias when I emailed Kilroy.  I started commenting on his blog as “Mage”.  Within a couple weeks, I got the general thrust of what was going on in Delaware education.  This company called the Rodel Foundation was pretty much running the show.  Their goal was to get as many charter schools into Delaware as possible.  And I learned a lot of it was linked to all these standardized tests the students had to take.

I set some goals for myself for the next year:

1) Tell my son’s story.

2) Find out all I could about Rodel.

3) Find out what the hell was wrong with special education in Delaware.

4) Find out who I could trust in the General Assembly.

5) Find the charters weak links and expose them.

6) Find out why Markell and Murphy were so hell-bent on ruining students lives with standardized testing.

7) Get as many parents as possible to opt out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment.

So here I am now, a year later.  My name has become synonomous with the words opt out.  I write this blog on a daily basis.  I found the answers but don’t have a clue how to effectively change the entire education system in Delaware.  I have made many friends and twice as many enemies.  My son is not better off than he was a year ago.  If anything, his situation is worse.  It’s time for change, for everyone.  Including myself.

Over the past year, I’ve let life slip by.  My mind has been consumed by all things Delaware education, and I lost focus on what makes me, well, me.  This happens often in all our lives.  We get caught up in something, and it becomes the central point of our lives.  But for me, and several folks like me, this can pose a considerable danger.

When I was a child, I was diagnosed as attention-deficit hyperactive disorder.  I remember always being hyper as a child, but I never understood why.  Then, one day in high school, it just stopped.  The hyperactivity just disappeared.  I remember thinking, I don’t have to be like that, and I wasn’t.  But just because the hyperactivity was gone, it didn’t mean the attention deficit wasn’t.

I am a person who easily loses focus.  If I concentrate on one thing, I’m good.  But everyone has “other” things they have to do.  For folks with ADD, this can be a big problem.  It takes an extreme amount of hard work and dedication to get everything straight, and that’s what I need to do.

I’m not done blogging, but you just might not see as much of it is as you are used to.  I need to get other stuff straightened out, and fast.  This is also why I understand my son’s struggles, as well as others.  It’s not always just about the most extreme disabilities.  The “smaller” ones can cause just as much stress and confusion.

Newsworks Interviews Legislators Over Opt Out & Mark Murphy

“Opting out is something actually that I’m concerned about, because at the end of the day we’re putting so many state resources into education you have to have instruments to measure them.”

Avi Wolfman-Arent sat down with four members of the 148th General Assembly recently to cover topics in education such as parent opt out of standardized testing, Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy, and the proposed redistricting of schools in Wilmington.

The four members, Senators Dave Sokola and Ernie Lopez and State Reps. Earl Jaques and Kevin Hensley, all seemed to agree on parent opt out.   They don’t want it.  But the above quote, attributed to Lopez, shows a glimpse of the legislators mindset.  All this money has gone into the Smarter Balanced Assessment, so they are afraid it will be wasted.  Resources = money for politicians, but I don’t think these four understand the human dynamic at play here.  Parents don’t want THIS test.

Tomorrow, school starts again after Spring Break, and many schools will either start or continue administering the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  Do not let politicians sway you one way or another over issues that once again come down to money.  It’s about what is good for your child, not funding.  If you want to opt out your child, it is never too late.

“That said, the opt out movement seems not to have penetrated the mainstream inside Legislative Hall.”

Avi is awesome, and he offers a much different slant to education news reporting, but this line he wrote is biased based on who he is interviewing.  I can name other legislators who are very much for it, but they weren’t interviewed.  We will find out how much penetration the movement has on April 22nd, when the House Education Committee meets to discuss House Bill 50, the parent opt out bill.

DOE Stands To Lose Many Positions & Contracts If RTTT Programs Are Not Approved In Budget

The Delaware Department of Education got hammered by the 148th General Assembly in February over their FY2016 budget request.  This file, released through a FOIA request, shows exactly what the DOE, or more specifically, the Teacher Leader Effectiveness Unit, will lose if these programs don’t receive funding.  Previously, these positions were funded through the Race To The Top program which has now been discontinued.