Breaking News: Delaware DOE Gets ESEA Flex Waiver Approved By US DOE

This was just announced by the Delaware Department of Education.  The good news is teacher and principal evaluations will get another “skip” year from the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  The bad news, the feds really want the state to implement more priority, focus and reward schools in 2016-2017 based on the DOE’s new accountability system with grading schools.  I told you nine months ago this was coming…and here it is…

Below is the press announcement from the Delaware DOE:

Delaware receives federal approval for ESEA flexibility renewal

 The U.S. Department of Education today approved Delaware’s request for another year of flexibility from the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).

Acting Assistant Secretary Heather Rieman said ESEA flexibility has helped “Delaware to carry out important reforms to improve student achievement …With this renewal, Delaware will be able to continue implementing its plan to promote innovative, locally tailored strategies to improve educational outcomes for all students, close achievement gaps, increase equity, and improve the quality of instruction.”

Delaware is eligible for flexibility approval through the 2017-18 school year after submission of more information this fall.

With the flexibility approval, which Delaware first received in the 2011-2012 academic year, schools no longer are subject to some restrictive requirements of ESEA. Schools and districts also gain the ability to refocus some funding, such as money formerly required for choice and supplemental education services, for the specific supports that best meet their students’ needs.

 Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy said he appreciates the U.S. Department of Education’s support for the work underway in our state.

“We are proud of the progress our schools are making and that more children graduating from our system ready for college and careers. This flexibility will allow our educators to continue to make the decisions that are best for their children,” he said.

Find more information here.

Alison May
alison.may@doe.k12.de.us
(302) 735-4000

This is exactly why the ESEA reauthorization needs to get rid of this label and punish mentality.  If schools constantly feel under threat, that is intimidation.  “Do things our way, or else…”  They are nothing but a bunch of bullies…

President Barack Obama, Arne Duncan & Delaware Governor Jack Markell Pull The Race Card Over Education

President Obama, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, and Delaware Governor Jack Markell continue to pull the issue of race into education.  Every time they talk about the proficiency gaps in low-income schools, they fail to mention the very mechanism by which these gaps are allowed to flourish: standardized assessments.  It’s a Catch-22 for a lot of folks.  If you disagree with them or their minions, you are accused of not caring about black kids.  If you agree with them, it looks like you are selling out traditional public school districts.

As Civil Rights groups speak out on the ESEA reauthorization, we already have veto threats by President Obama on either the House or Senate acts.  He has not come right out and said it, but he is given strong notions he doesn’t support either legislation.  Arne Duncan is pulling the Urban League president to support not getting rid of standardized assessments.  Delaware Governor Jack Markell openly said he “doesn’t like” a parent opt-out bill that would codify a parent’s right to opt their children out of the state standardized assessment, citing as one of his reasons that minority children would be disadvantaged.

I take great issue with even the tiniest implication that I don’t care about minorities.  As my son is a special needs student, he already is a minority just by the very nature of his rare disability.  Many of the children in the schools that need TRUE help the most, have all three: poverty, disabilities, and a minority status.

The bottom line is this: there is far too much federal and state control in education.  The result of this is students who are tested incessantly, teachers who are judged based on these test scores, and an out of control charter school industry that doesn’t play by the rules and the states and feds allow it.  By openly stating the bottom schools aren’t doing well in the environment Obama, Duncan, and many state governors created, is all the proof we need that what we have now just isn’t working.

As Smarter Balanced and PARCC scores start to trickle in from assessments given in Spring, we are seeing these great tests are no better than what came before.  It will show standardized assessments with high-stakes are not a true measurement of student’s abilities.  But it will show they need improvement, allowing more state and federal dollars to go to “consultants” who will “fix” our schools.  And the cycle does on and on, unless Congress finally steps up and does what is truly right for America’s public school students.

The first step they need to take is implementing all promised Title I and IDEA funding as originally approved.  Until they do that, nothing is going to improve for low-income, minority, and students with disabilities until they get the proper resources they need: lower classroom sizes, more special education services tailored for their individual IEPs, more education regarding these issues to educators and staff, and true educator-parent-student relationships with a collaborative effort.  It doesn’t matter what you call a curriculum or a standard, if you don’t have the basics down in terms of having an equitable school, nothing else matters.