To The “education only” Commenter, Your Incendiary Information Needs To Be Vetted

I received a comment tonight from someone under the pseudonym “education only”.  When I receive a comment from a new poster, it goes into moderation.  That way this blog isn’t a free-for-all.  The information I received tonight was very specific in nature.  It was definitely, if true, very big information.  One that could change the landscape of education in Delaware.  But I need more than your say-so and an email address that isn’t real.  Cause I did email you, but it said email returned.  This usually makes me suspicious.  I can think of three reasons why you did this.

1) The information is very real and you are scared out of your mind.  I can’t say I blame you given the nature of what you said.  If this is the case, it should be very easy to reach out to me and you have my strictest confidence.  Information like that should not be reserved for a comment and I will investigate it.  And the truth will come out.

2) Part of the story is true, and you are seeing how I react to it.  This is the reaction.  And I would still like you to contact me with a REAL email address.  There is such a thing as blogger honor.  Ask any of my sources if I’ve ever revealed them.  Well, you can’t, cause I never revealed them.  Which is my point.  But this is for anyone giving me information, especially on an ongoing basis.  Let me know ahead of time if it is “off the record” or “okay to publish”.

3) You deliberately gave me the information thinking I would run an article on it and make a big stink about it, all the while you would have known it was false information.  If that’s the case, then you definitely have an axe to grind with me.  I get that.  I’ve made more enemies than friends lately on this blog.  I haven’t shied away from naming names and calling people out for their actions.  But if this is the case, do the courageous thing and actually contact me.  Sneak attacks trying to discredit me through anonymous blog comments may be your stock in trade, but I’m not that stupid.  You won’t be the first, and I’m sure you won’t be the last.  You are operating under the assumption that I will do anything to get buzz on this blog.  If that’s the case, then you’ve missed the whole point of why I do this.

A few months back, there was a commenter on here and Kilroy’s Delaware who was using multiple names on both our blogs.  Kilroy and I both knew it was the same person.  I’ve even reached out to a few people about the danger of doing that.  Anonymity has it’s purpose, but be consistent with it.  A good source is just that, and the wealth of information they can provide is always more important than outing them.  I always recommend sending emails from non-work addresses.  This is for your protection.  I have many ways of protecting information, and I will always do that as long as it is a two-way street.  But getting into the deeper side of things, if you play games with your anonymity, I will call you out on it, publicly or privately.  That’s just how I roll.

Given the nature of what I often write about, I’m sure you can understand my reasons for this.  Just as I understand the reasons behind being anonymous.  But if I can’t verify information, I won’t put it on here.  There are certain folks who give me information and they get a pass.  They’ve earned it, time and time again.  There are those who I wonder about, and where they are getting their information from.  You will rarely see stories based on this kind of information.  And then there is the completely outlandish and bizarre info I get.  But today’s commenter struck a chord with me, for many reasons.  Some you may one day find out, or it will disappear into the abyss never to be seen by anyone.  Your move “education only”.

Over 200 Civil Rights Groups & Organizations Urge U.S. Senate To Ban High-Stakes Testing, Halt Charter Expansion, & Give Full Title I Funding

Yesterday, 175 Civil Rights Groups and associations of the Journey For Justice Alliance wrote the U.S. Senate about their demands for reauthorization of the Elementary & Secondary Education Act.  This is in sharp contrast to the small number of civil rights groups who have spoke out against parent opt-out the past few months.  These groups say what so many of us have been saying all along: high-stakes testing is extremely dangerous for students  with low-income and/or minority status and students with disabilities.  From the press release, announced today:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

July 7, 2015

CONTACT: Rachel Tardiff, Rachel@FitzGibbonMedia.com, 202.746.1507

Nearly 200 Civil Rights, Community Groups Send Letter to Senate Demanding Fair & Equitable Reforms to ESEA Reauthorization

Groups Highlight Disproportionate Consequences of Testing for Black & Brown Students, Demand End to High Stakes Testing in Public Schools

This week, the Journey for Justice Alliance—a coalition of parents, students, teachers, and community & civil rights organizations—along with 175 other national and local grassroots, youth, and civil rights organizations, sent a letter to Senators Mitch McConnell and Harry Reid demanding that high stakes tested be removed from the civil rights provisions within the Elementary & Secondary Education Act (ESEA) reauthorization bill currently being debated in Congress. Instead, the groups are calling for an end to school closures and privatization and investment in sustainable community schools with well-balanced assessments and challenging and varied curriculum.

In the letter, the groups state: “We respectfully disagree that the proliferation of high stakes assessments and top-down interventions are needed in order to improve our schools.  We live in the communities where these schools exist.  What, from our vantage point, happens because of these tests is not improvement.  It’s destruction.”

Read the full letter here: http://www.j4jalliance.com/media/openletter/

The letter continues: “High stakes standardized tests have been proven to harm Black and Brown children, adults, schools and communities. Curriculum is narrowed. Their results purport to show that our children are failures. They also claim to show that our schools are failures, leading to closures or wholesale dismissal of staff.  Children in low-income communities lose important relationships with caring adults when this happens. Other good schools are destabilized as they receive hundreds of children from closed schools. Large proportions of Black teachers lose their jobs in this process, because it is Black teachers who are often drawn to commit their skills and energies to Black children.  Standardized testing, whether intentionally or not, has negatively impacted the Black middle class, because they are the teachers, lunchroom workers, teacher aides, counselors, security staff and custodians who are fired when schools close.”

 “The organizations that join us in this letter represent thousands of students who have peacefully walked out of school to protest discriminatory practices, the tens of thousands of parents who have protested school closings and demanded equity.  These are the people who know that they don’t have the choice of a strong neighborhood school. They know that we deserve better,” said Jitu Brown, the director of the Journey for Justice Alliance.

The groups reaffirm four primary ESEA demands established in a letter sent by the Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools (AROS)—a signatory on this week’s letter—to House and Senate leadership in March. Those demands include:

·      $1 billion in funding to increase the number of sustainable community schools, which provide an array of wrap around services and after school programs and engaging, relevant, challenging curriculum while supporting quality teaching and transformative parent & community engagement;

·      $500 million for restorative justice coordinators and training to promote positive approached to discipline;

·      Full resourcing of Title I of the ESEA, including $20 billion in funding this year for schools that serve the most low income students, building to the 40% increase in funding for poor schools originally envisioned in the legislation;

·      A moratorium on the federal Charter Schools Program.

###

Journey for Justice (J4J) is an alliance of grassroots community, youth, and parent-led organizations demanding community-driven alternatives to the privatization of and dismantling of public schools systems and organizing in our neighborhoods, in our cities, and nationally, for an equitable and just education system.

In reviewing the list of organizations on the website, I see NO mention of any Delaware Civil Rights groups or organizations.  In fact, they have openly opposed the parent opt-out bill, House Bill 50, even going so far as to take out a full-page ad along with The Rodel Foundation and the Delaware Business Roundtable, who have long supported charter expansion and high-stakes testing in Delaware.

The 2015 Charter School Performance Award Winners: Who Won Big, Who Won Some, & Who Got The Shaft

Has the Delaware DOE announced the winners for the Charter School Performance Award by default, on their very own website? In the section on their website for applicants of the Charter School Performance Award, their is a clear list of how much each school received from their application and what they can do with the funds.  Since the state budget only allotted $1 million as opposed to the $1.5 originally requested, this list could have been more extensive.  They did say they would announce the winners today!  Each school listed provides the link to my articles on each school’s application as well as my take and opinion about what they asked for.

Las Americas ASPIRA Academy: $250,000, requested $250,000, no restrictions on special education inclusion model

Newark Charter School: $250,000, requested $400,000, can only use for STEM Laboratory

Campus Community School: $50,000, requested $250,000, can only use for school library project

The Delaware MET: $175,000, requested $250,000, can only use for school start-up costs, not for marketing or promotion or student recruitment

Delaware STEM Academy: $175,000, requested $250,000, same as above

First State Military Academy: $50,000, requested $250,000, same as above

Mapleton Charter School at Whitehall: $50,000, requested $250,000, same as above

Applicants that were eligible but didn’t receive any funds: Early College High School and Great Oaks Charter School (both requested $250,000)

The only applicant that wasn’t eligible at all was Odyssey Charter School due to their probation status during the 2014-2015 academic year.

To read the full list on the DOE Website, go here:

http://www.doe.k12.de.us/Page/2266

Delaware Senator Coons Letter Shows Desire To Continue AYP For USA Schools

Delaware Senator Chris Coons responded to a form I sent him regarding the ESEA reauthorization.  Yesterday, there was quite the hullaballoo about an amendment that would continue the Annual Yearly Progress for American schools which Coons fully supports.  In his letter, which I’m certain went to anyone who wrote to him about the reauthorization, clearly shows he wants what I view to be a destructive process for our students, educators and schools.

I worry about the influences around Senator Coons support for such an amendment.  I worry he is not utilizing all stakeholders surrounding this issue.  The corporate education reform movement is suffering from an infection which exposes the rot within, so they are getting very desperate.  We need our leaders to start to walk away from these disruptive agendas and get back to the heart of education: letting our teachers teach and letting our students learn.

US Senator Chris Coons
July 6, 2015
Mr. Kevin Ohlandt
9 Crosley Ct
Dover, DE 19904-1975
Dear Mr. Ohlandt:
Thank you for contacting me to share your thoughts regarding reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). I appreciate your taking the time to write. I strongly believe that the best ideas for improving our schools and ensuring our children can achieve their dreams come from those on the front lines of our education system: our teachers, parents, students, and community leaders and advocates.
I commend Chairman Alexander and Ranking Member Murray of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee for crafting a bipartisan bill to reauthorize the ESEA. I am committed to working with my colleagues in both political parties to reauthorize the ESEA and support a high-quality education system for Delaware students and teachers. All children in America, no matter where they live or how they learn, deserve an education that allows them to reach their fullest potential. The Every Child Achieves Act and the 29 amendments adopted by the HELP Committee are a promising step towards this goal.
I am pleased that the Every Child Achieves Act provides much needed flexibility and resources to states, maintains dedicated federal investment to school districts that serve high concentrations of low-income students, and expands the criteria that states can use to evaluate school performance. I also commend the Committee’s bipartisan commitment to early education, innovation, STEM education, and reducing the use of excessive and unnecessary standardized tests. While the Every Child Achieves Act is an encouraging first step, there is still more work to be done. I am eager to work with my colleagues to find ways to strengthen this bill through an open amendment process in the Senate. For example, the bill should include stronger accountability provisions that ensure that schools that are persistently failing to demonstrate results for students are not only identified, but also required to take action to improve the outcomes for students and are given the resources they need to do so.
I am committed to ensuring that any legislation to reauthorize the ESEA reflects Delaware’s values and supports our state’s educators, students, and families. I always appreciate hearing from Delawareans about their education priorities and will be sure to keep your thoughts in mind should the Every Child Achieves Act come before the full Senate.
Again, thank you for contacting me. It is an honor to represent Delaware in the United States Senate, and I hope you will continue to keep me informed of the issues that matter to you. My website, http://www.coons.senate.gov, can provide additional details about my work in the Senate, including legislation and state projects.
Sincerely,
Christopher A. Coons
United States Senator

Lover Of The Light

As I sift through countless documents, contracts, board minutes, financial statements, school profiles, reports, board minutes, audio recordings, FOIAs and whatnot one thing remains certain.  The truth must come out.  Nothing stays hidden forever, and bloggers know this.  Which is why we do our best to get the truth out, always.

It is no coincidence that education bloggers are those who either were or are involved in education.  It is a free endeavor, and we make no money from our writings.  The material we work with is endless, and one trail always leads to another.  This is what education has become in our country.  If we value one thing above all else, that is transparency.  If the subjects of our articles can’t be transparent, we will do it for them.

We start from scratch, with nothing but what our computer links us to.  Over time, we gain an audience and begin to get information.  Sometimes this information is reliable, sometimes it’s not.  We’ve all had to kill an article here or there for various reasons: to protect a source, the information wasn’t quite what we thought it was, or it just plain wasn’t newsworthy.  I’ve had months of research and theories go out the window because of one simple fact involved.

These are the times that we live in, and if we don’t wake the people up, our children will be lost in the quagmire that is public education.  The stakes have never been higher, but we are winning the war.  The light is shining on those who would destroy what is, and they can’t stand the sight.

Bloggers can have it rough.  We see tons of information when we really dig in, and what we see makes us angry.  We see the abuses in our education system on a daily basis, and we get upset.  It should.  We should all be angry enough to do something about it.  We love when new bloggers enter the fray because that means the odds of the truth coming out increase.  We are lovers of the light.