Where Are The Kids?

Those In Favor

Troubling enrollment projections for the 15-16 school year in Christina. Last night at the CBOC meeting we were shown that enrollment counts as of July 21 (an early indicator of what student counts will look like on the first day of school). Historically July 21st counts are off by one or two hundred students in a few specific areas of the district, namely the Wilmington area schools and secondary schools. This year is an outlier in a big way. Enrollment counts are off by about 900 students District-wide and not in the usual areas of low student counts. The low numbers are at all grade levels in the city and in the suburbs. 900 students is a HUGE number and by far eclipses the usual couple hundred. Such low enrollment right now translates in to 78 fewer teaching units. Without students, the State sends no money and the District cannot…

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Laid Off Christina Teachers Struggle To Find Jobs

According to an article by Larry Nagengast with Delaware Public Media, the budget woes of Christina are really hitting home for many Delaware educators.  The article states that the Christina School District laid off 78 teachers, 14 paraprofessionals and 7 secretaries after they failed to pass their 2nd referendum in May.  Christina rehired a little over a quarter of those positions back, and surrounding districts are hiring as well, but some are still out of a job and are looking.

The scariest part about the article is that the district is still $5 million over budget, and one of the things that could be cut is their contract with the Delaware State Police and their placement of School Resource Officers in Christina schools.  As a district that has some of the highest counts of bullying and fighting, this could make an already tense situation worse.  School councilor functions could also be cut, which would give some of these students very few resources to get certain kinds of help when they need it most.

I think it is tragic what is going on with Christina, and the DOE and Governor Markell have essentially abandoned them.  This is not how education should be in our state’s biggest city where schools need the most help, but I haven’t heard anyone from the state say “Let’s see what we can do.”  All I’ve heard is “Let’s get the Wilmington schools out of that district and they can fend for themselves.”

I know some of the teachers who were quoted in this article, and while I’m glad they found new employment whether in the district or out, my heart bleeds for the ones who are now unemployed due to events beyond their control.

Kavips, I Have The Answer To Why We Don’t Have Smarter Balanced Results Yet

“The assessment program shall be designed and operated to provide the General Assembly, the Governor, the Secretary, the State Board of Education, educational administrators, teachers, parents and the public with timely and accurate information on student achievement and educational attainments.” -From Delaware Title 14, § 151 State assessment system; rules and regulations (a).

The Delaware blogger Kavips has been following other states that belong to the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium as they release the scores from their own Smarter Balanced tests.  To date, Delaware has not release their own.  Nobody in the public knew why…until now.

Apparently, states could pay extra money to have their scores released early.  Delaware Governor Jack Markell did not do this.  While some could say he is a financial hero, this is hardly the case.  This will end up costing Delaware much more, and this is why.  School districts and charters in other states who have this data can plan for the next year.  Delaware can not.  Because next year will already be here when the scores are released.

For a Governor who spends money on education like it just falls from trees, he sure is picky about test score information.  What was that part about House Bill 334 when it was approved by the 147th General Assembly and signed by Governor Markell last year?  Oh yeah…see above.  Timely scores are not being provided to students, parents, teachers and schools.  And this is a Governor people want to trust?  Who won’t pay to have our schools run the same as others in the country?  Wasn’t that the whole point of implementing the Common Core State Standards, so we could all be on the same level playing field as other states?  Silly me, it’s about the money.  It’s always been about the money.

Delaware Sec of Ed Lowery needs to either step-up or step-down

Sometimes you find the most fascinating Kilroy’s articles when searching for something else. So let’s see, Pencader and Reach went down under Murphy’s watch. And where is he? Still the Delaware Secretary of Education… Very interesting comments on Markell’s buddy. Now we know how a certain ex-Kipp employee got placed at a certain charter school….

The Trials and Tribulations of the Christina School District & Board

As everyone surely knows by now, Christina Superintendent Dr. Freeman Williams has taken a leave of absence.  Many are speculating as to the reasons why, but frankly I don’t feel it is anyone’s business other than Freeman’s.  He is doing what he has to do and I will leave it at that.

But what happens next for Christina is anyone’s guess.  Their deputy superintendent, Dr. Fara Zimmerman, is retiring at the end of August.  So who will run Christina during Freeman’s absence?  Nobody knows at this point.  There was a posting for a deputy superintendent, but that posting has been pulled.  Sources say this was pulled by one member of the board without consulting other members of the board.  Once again, this is one of the individuals who seems to think making major unilateral decisions for the district is more important than discussing this with other members.

Next Tuesday, the board has their monthly meeting and I expect more than a few fireworks to go off.  Tensions have been building in this district from all ends, and with these latest two events, as well as the whole “agendagate” from last week, the allegation that two board members acted to try to get Christina investigated by the State Auditor, two referendums that didn’t pass, substantial layoffs, an essential referendum for next year, and the whole Wilmington redistricting thing which seems to be putting Christina into a corner, this is a district on the edge.

What this district needs is fresh blood that puts children first.  They need a strong, vocal, and very heavy in education experience leader.  Not a coach, or a captain.  They need a General!  Someone who will take charge with vast amounts of experience in these types of issues.  Someone who will get out to the community and rally the people.  If Christina falls, it’s only a matter of time before something like that spreads.  We all know Governor Jack wants to further his corporate education reform agendas and get more charters in Delaware.  If anyone his any misconception or illusion concerning this at this point, I can only say “Wake Up!”

Governor Markell is drunk with power, but he doesn’t realize yet how bad the hangover is going to be for him.  It’s never been students first, it’s always been Jack first.  For Christina School District, Jack has made them his punching bag for so long it isn’t even funny.  It never was.  This isn’t to say Christina doesn’t have issues.  But when you are the largest district in the state, serving some of the most vulnerable of children, and charters are taking away the best students, there are bound to be issues.  Christina needs to unify, and it’s now or never.  They need to get their board to act in unity and pick the best leader for their district.  I am rooting for them!