Red Clay Board Unanimously Passes Parent Opt Out Resolution

Tonight, the third school board in Delaware, Red Clay Consolidated, passed a parent opt out resolution, which you can read below. The vote was unanimous among the six board members present, with no discussion needed. This is after several individuals, myself included, gave public comment supporting the board.

This is a pivotal moment in the Delaware Parent Opt-Out movement. Three of the biggest school districts in the state now officially honor a parent’s right to opt their child out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment. Following Capital and Christina, Red Clay is now a part of this school district triumvirate.

Superintendent Merv Daugherty reported to the board that the letter the school district sent to parents who opted their kids out was based on Federal and State dictated guidelines, but the district approved all requests. Not that it was their decision, but I appreciate it. To date, Red Clay has between 50-60 opt outs (waiting on clarification), Christina has 113, Colonial had 62 as of last night, and Capital is lighting the way for all districts at 11% of their student body, which could be between 400-700 students if they are counting the entire student body or just those grades taking the assessment.

Delaware State Rep. Kim Williams was in the audience, and State Rep. Michael Ramone left early. Yvonne Johnson and Bill Doolittle with the Delaware PTA, RCEA President Mike Matthews, a parent, and myself all gave public comment supporting the board. Doolittle announced the latest ESEA reauthorization bill also has a parent opt out clause within the bill.

The next stop on the Parent Opt Out train stops at Legislative Hall on Wednesday April 22nd, at 2:30pm (waiting on the official agenda to come up to confirm that time, check http://www.legis.delaware.gov for clarification). Apparently, the entire House Education Committee meeting is designated for this one piece of legislation, House Bill 50, which is somewhat unusual. I would get there early for parking and to get a good seat. I will be there, as will several other parents. I will be very curious if Governor Markell or Mark Murphy would dare to show their face there.

In the meantime, I will celebrate Red Clay’s board resolution and encourage ALL the other boards to take this measure as well. For now, I’m calling it the CCR effect (not Creedence Clearwater Revival). Add in DSEA and Delaware PTA’s recent resolutions, and there is a very big coalition that will take aim at the DOE next Wednesday…

If Delaware Legislators Don’t Pass Opt Out Bill They Must Not Care What Parents Think, #supportHB50

DelawareOptOut

In one week, 144 hours to be exact, the Delaware House Education Committee will meet at 2:30pm to discuss House Bill 50, the controversial parent opt-out bill.  This is a crucial moment for Delaware education.  Sponsored by State Rep. John Kowalko and State Senator Dave Lawson, House Bill 50 would honor a parent’s right to opt out of the state assessment without penalty to the student or the school.

The Chair of the House Education Committee meeting, Earl Jaques, is very much against parent opt out.  Last month, he publicly said opt-out is admitting your children are failures and can’t measure up.  He apologized to special needs parents for his comments, but not every parent.  As if special needs students are the only ones opting out.  While I laid off on my attempt to have him removed as the Chair of the House Education Committee, I have not forgotten his public insult to every Delaware parent and student considering opting out.

Governor Markell is working overtime trying to come up with new schemes to thwart the parent opt-out movement.  With the assistance of Jaques and other legislators, he introduced a measure to reduce the amount of “other” standardized testing students have to take while ignoring the plain simple fact that many parents hate and loathe the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  It’s not just because its based on the Common Core State Standards, it is because the test is designed in such a way that many students will do poorly on it.  This allows those in the corporate education reform movement to continue to invade our schools with the “fixes” our schools need.  While they walk away with a tidy profit.  Markell and the Delaware DOE are committed to these “reforms” for our schools.

If this bill does not pass the House Education Committee, it will show that the majority of our Delaware legislators do not believe in choice for parents.  Only when it comes to charter schools.  Because at the end of the day, that is what this boils down to: parents choosing the best possible educational outcome for their children.  And the Smarter Balanced Assessment is NOT even close to being good for our children.  Or our teachers, schools and our community.

I need every active opt out parent in Delaware to do their best to come to this meeting on Wednesday April 22nd at 2:30pm at Legislative Hall in Dover.  While this is a very inconvenient time for most parents, take your child out of school early and bring them.  Public comment will be available.  If your child is up for it, let them speak about the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  This is the moment in Delaware when we can take back control of education in Delaware.  This is the time when we tell Governor Markell, Secretary of Education Mark Murphy and the Delaware DOE that they do not control our children’s lives and the state does not own them.

We need the House Education Committee to pass this legislation so our schools can consistently and openly respect parent choice.  Capital and Christina have already passed similar resolutions, and Red Clay could be next.  We will find out the answer to that tonight at their board meeting.  State Rep. Kim Williams opted her son, a junior in high school, out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  I am sure she has received a ton of heat for this decision from Markell and other legislators, but the amount of respect she has earned is beyond measure.

This is the House Education Committee, and I would get busy now emailing them asking them for their support of this important legislation.  Cause I can guarantee, many parents will remember their vote when they are up for reelection!

Chair: Earl Jaques: Earl.Jacques@state.de.us

Vice-Chair: Kim Williams: kimberly.williams@state.de.us

Michael Barbieri: michael.barbieri@state.de.us

Stephanie Bolden: StephanieT.Bolden@state.de.us

Timothy Dukes: Timothy.Dukes@state.de.us

Debra Heffernan: debra.heffernan@state.de.us

Kevin Hensley: Kevin.Hensley@state.de.us

Harvey Kenton: Harvey.Kenton@state.de.us

Sean Lynn: Sean.Lynn@state.de.us

Sean Matthews: sean.matthews@state.de.us

Joseph Miro: joseph.miro@state.de.us

Edward Osienski: Edward.Osienski@state.de.us

Charles Potter: Charles.Potter@state.de.us

Michael Ramone: Michael.Ramone@state.de.us

In the meantime, please show your support by sharing this article everywhere, on Twitter with hashtag #supportHB50 or on Facebook by posting this to all your friends and anywhere you can think of where it can make a difference.  Talk to parents at your child’s school or at extracurricular activities.  Contact your relatives and loved ones in Delaware to help support this.  The children of Delaware need YOU!

 

Prestige Academy: Formal Review for Enrollment & Academic, Academy of Dover: Academic & Financial, Freire & DE Design Lab: Low Enrollment

The four Delaware charter schools being considered for formal review have a multitude of reasons for this potential designation.  Prestige, Freire and Delaware Design Lab all had very low enrollment figures by the April 1st deadline.  Prestige had 59%, Freire had 35%, and Delaware Design Lab had 46%.  Prestige Academy is also under the hot seat for academic performance.  Academy of Dover is in trouble because of both financial reasons and academic performance.  From the Delaware State Board of Education Agenda for tomorrow’s board meeting:

Details

The Department of Education will request the Assent of the State Board of Education to place the following charter schools on formal review

Academy of Dover:
The issues for the formal review include concerns relative to compliance with their charter, financial management, financial oversight, and academic performance.

The Secretary will announce his decision, and if necessary, will seek the assent of the State Board of Education to place the charter school on formal review. If the State Board assents, the formal review will be referred to the Charter School Accountability Committee for review and report.


Delaware Design Lab High School:
As of the April 1 enrollment deadline, the charter school had enrolled only 137 out of 300 students, or 46% of the approved enrollment. The issues for the formal review include concerns relative to compliance with their charter and financial viability.
The Secretary will announce his decision, and if necessary, will seek the assent of the State Board of Education to place the charter school on formal review.   If the State Board assents, the formal review will be referred to the Charter School Accountability Committee for review and report.

Freire Charter School:
As of the April 1 enrollment deadline, the charter school had enrolled only 78 out of 224 students, or 35% of the approved enrollment.  The issues for the formal review include concerns relative to compliance with their charter and financial viability.
The Secretary will announce his decision, and if necessary, will seek the assent of the State Board of Education to place the charter school on formal review.   If the State Board consents, the formal review will be referred to the Charter School Accountability Committee for review and report.

Prestige Academy:
As of the April 1 enrollment deadline, the charter school had enrolled only 186 out of 315 students, or 59% of the approved enrollment. The issues for the formal review include concerns relative to compliance with their charter, financial viability, and academic performance.
The Secretary will announce his decision, and if necessary, will seek the assent of the State Board of Education to place the charter school on formal review.  If the State Board assents, the formal review will be referred to the Charter School Accountability Committee for review and report.

The Probationary status of: Academia Antonia Alonso – All conditions have been met, and the school has demonstrated financial viability.

The Secretary will announce his decision, and if necessary, will seek the assent of the State Board of Education to discharge the charter from probation.   If the State Board assents, the charter school will be removed from probationary status and restored to good standing. 

Delaware DOE Wants Special Education & Smarter Balanced Results To Have An Unholy Marriage

The Delaware Department of Education presented their State Systemic Improvement Plan for special education to the Governor’s Advisory Council for Exceptional Citizens on Tuesday evening.  As will all news coming out of the DOE these days, it’s all about the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  Indicator 17, one of the compliance measures states need to adhere to based on the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), is based on Standards-Based IEPs.  The DOE and the US DOE actually think they can come close to eliminating the proficiency gap between students with disabilities and their regular peers.

This is a foolhardy measure at best, and I have spoken at great length about this in the past.  Fixing special education in Delaware is going to take a lot more than this ridiculous compliance indicator!  I’m all for students with disabilities reading earlier and becoming more fluent in reading, but basing the goal based on performance on the Smarter Balanced Assessment is insane.  If the DOE has already said 70% of students won’t reach proficiency for a few years on Smarter Balanced, how the hell do they expect to lower this gap to 49% in three years?  The Delaware DOE needs to be shut down and built up again with actual logic and common sense.

 

 

Maybe, just MAYBE, Markell’s recent Press Conference about Delaware colleges and SBA can be seen as a “good” sign…

Governor Hypocrite Talks About Parent Engagement

Keep in mind, this is the same Jack Markell who announced the initiative today regarding Smarter Balanced and Delaware colleges and universities with zero stakeholder input aside from his beloved Delaware DOE.  Can we just get him impeached? Seriously?