Breaking News: DOE Advising Legislators Of Smarter Balanced Results Before Districts and Parents!!!!

The Delaware Department of Education is going to meet with members of the General Assembly and let them know what the results of Smarter Balanced were in the coming weeks.  This will be weeks, if not a month, before the results are released publicly.  I would think they would release the results to everyone all at once, especially parents and schools.  But there may be other motivations on the DOE’s part.

They know the General Assembly is coming back in five months.  They also know these scores will be very bad.  Under Governor Markell’s expert advice I’m sure, they are going to meet with the legislators to soften the blow.  They will give them every assurance of the following: “It’s only the first year.”  “Through going over the data, we have recognized the parts that need to be fixed.”  “We aren’t going to give the SBAC to juniors anymore since they already take the SAT.*”  “We need to give the test a chance and work out the bugs.”  “We realize the test is too long, so we are going to shorten it a bit.”  “We really can’t have parents opting out.  Can we trust you to look out for the kids and not vote for an override of the veto?”

I find it very interesting the DOE feels legislators need to know this information BEFORE parents.  The DOE is getting very desperate these days and their nervousness is beginning to show.  They are no longer operating under the arrogance we have known in the past.  They are scared.  They know most of them, at least the higher-ups, will be gone come January 2017.  They truly felt Delaware was unique and would survive the storms going on across the country.  They didn’t count on parents and teachers rising up as much as we have, and the domino effect this has caused.  They thought they were protected and untouchable, but now they know the game is over.  How long have they had the results?

Meanwhile, Governor Markell seems to think the veto override won’t even make it to the table!  I’m guessing he really thinks he owns the General Assembly and they will do whatever he tells them to do.  We know this is true with some of them, but I wouldn’t count them out Jack!  You also didn’t think House Bill 50 would ever pass the House or the Senate.  It must have been embarrassing to see your biggest education initiative railroaded in a bi-partisan show of support for parents.  But I’m sure you’re right Governor.  I’m sure they will ignore thousands of constituents during an election year and do whatever the lame duck demands they do.

For the schools that gave parents a rough time over opt-out: how does it feel knowing the DOE is sitting on the data that caused so much grief in your schools the past year?  They already have the results and they aren’t sharing it.  They need to spin it first, so when they do give them to you, they already have their scripted responses for all of you and the media.

To the legislators of Delaware: Don’t buy their spin.  Remember the reasons why you voted yes for House Bill 50.  Carry that with you over the next five months.  The DOE is trying to clean up the mess they created by causing havoc and chaos in the schools of Delaware.  They will use you.  They want your voice to soften the blow.  You were not elected to be Governor Jack Markell’s servant.  You were elected by the people in your district to serve them, to look out for their best interests.  Not Jack’s.  For those who voted no on the opt-out bill, was it worth it in the end?  Do you trust the Governor that much to think he can truly deliver on what he promised you?  He used all of you to further HIS agendas, not yours.  When he leaves in January 2017, he won’t give any of you a second thought…

For the parents: was any of this worth it?  Our state Department of Education has the results of a standardized assessment your children took months ago and they are not giving them to you.  This is a slap in the face.  You won’t even know until your child is back in school for a few weeks.  I will tell all of you again, this test does not matter.  When you get the fancy letter in the mail from the DOE, with all their fancy graphs and growth trends, and all the pretty colors, take it for what it is: a gigantic waste of time when your child could have actually been learning instead of being a guinea pig for the DOE and their corporate buddies.  Remember the millions upon millions of dollars that were taken out of your child’s classroom so the DOE could unleash this test.  Remember this and say never again.  This year, Refuse The Test.  On the very first day of school.  If the DOE can’t give you the respect YOU deserve so they can put a Band-Aid on a gushing flesh wound, than they don’t deserve to receive more data at your child’s great expense.

*Since the College Board is aligning the SAT to Common Core, there is no need for high school juniors to take the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  They essentially already are…

My Favorite Blog in Delaware

Most would assume it is Kilroy’s Delaware, but they would be wrong.  It isn’t even a blog about education.  It is the most brutally honest words I’ve ever read.  It is the truth far too many want to ignore or pretend it will just go away.  To truly understand the plight of the homeless in Delaware, you have to read Homeless In Wilmington.

The author used to be homeless, and this is all he writes about.  He understands their perspective and shares it with us all.  His cry should be a cry we all feel.  I want to share one of his more recent posts.

I Wept For You Today

July 14th, 2015

i wept for you today. when i saw the group of you standing in the rain, waiting for the doors to open so you could go inside in the early morning darkness. when i saw the number of you and the blank expressions on your face as you waited, i wept.

when i passed the mother with her young child in a stroller, i wept. my heart went out to her as she passed me on the sidewalk and i glanced at the young child. my eyes went back to the mother who looked at me and half smiled, hiding the pain, the anxiety and the weariness that only a mother could know as she tries to keep her child at her side. i thought of where she slept last nite and the fear that must have crept around her as the darkness sank in and she was alone in the abandoned building that i know she sleeps in. i thought of the relief that the early sunrise must have brought her, only to be quickly replaced by the burden that the same sunrise brings.

i passed the elderly gentleman with mental illness wandering down market street. as i passed he paused and began to speak as he always does when i see him. his greeting was familiar but his conversation after that was sprinkled with reality and the bizarre ramblings of dementia and paranoia that fills his world. i looked more intently at him this morning as i listened to him speak in the world that he is trapped inside. when i began to move on and glanced back i thought of him and the many times i’ve seen him wandering the streets of my city going to a destination that only he is aware of. in the rain, the snow, the darkness and the heat of the summer he shuffles down the same streets every day, content in the world that only he knows. as i looked ahead again, i wept because i know he will not make it thru another winter on the streets.

i passed the single young woman whom i see often in my travels among the homeless. when i first saw her she was pretty, young and physically fit. this morning she was a shell of herself and her eyes seemed to be dimming with each meeting. her once physically fit body was now thin, worn and bore the marks that heroin addicts wear. she was weathered and street hard. when i thought of the moment that the needle will enter her arm and as surely as i was standing before her today, it will take her life…i wept.

i learned of a young woman’s death this morning that i haven’t seen in awhile. i inquired about her to her once boyfriend who had just relapsed and was beginning again to attempt to kick the drugs that have had a reign over him since the first day i met him. his response that she died 7 months ago hit me particularly hard this morning when he told me she overdosed. i wept as i thought of the last time i saw her, drug free, eyes clear and a bright smile. i wept for a life cut short in what should have been her prime. 

every time i passed a homeless person today and saw the backpack on their back or duffel bag at their side i wept for them.  i wept because i know the struggle, the weariness and the anxiety that comes with that backpack and worn sneakers. i know the look on their face and the feelings inside them despite the smile on their face. i wept for them because i know the inner sadness and feeling of being alone that eventually comes to them whether it be late at nite, early in the morning or all during the day. i wept for them because i know that the chances of ending their homelessness soon is small and that their struggle is ongoing. i know the heavy burden they bear. i wept as i passed the ones that were drunk, high or somewhere in between.  i know they carry a death sentence with them and every time they smoke, drink or stick a needle in their arm they are quickening that sentence and shortening that green mile.

at the end of the day when i saw the homeless finally at their destination, i wept, i know that they will sleep on a bed that isn’t theirs, in a building that houses sadness and desperation. i know they will sleep tonite and wake to the thought that soon another day of walking the streets of my city will begin. another day of surviving and living with the thought that tomorrow will bring another day…just like today. 

i wept for my city today as i wondered how it could allow this day after day after day and year after year. i cried as i wondered how my city could allow men, women and children to be homeless, alone and often hungry and fearful for their own survival. i wept when i thought of you allowing this to begin, grow and continue in your community being fully aware that the homeless are among you.

i wept for all of you today, but you did not know it. i shed not one tear down my cheek and i did not wipe my eyes as the pain of your homelessness sifted thru me. as you keep your pain inside of you, so i kept the tears inside of me as assuredly as the woman at your place of employment keeps her homelessness inside of her. i kept it inside of me just as sure as the homeless child who shares your son or daughter’s classroom keeps their secret inside. i kept my tears inside of me just as intently as the elderly woman you pass on the sidewalk as you scurry to work or lunch or on your way home keeps her fear and pain inside. 

i wept for you today…all of you…in my soul. i wept for my city.

see you around town

Many of the homeless children go to school with our kids.  You may not even know it.  When my son is hungry, I give him food.  When he is cold, I give him a blanket.  But these children don’t have the luxury over going to the latest Disney movie when it comes out.  For them, the only game they play is the constant “when will it end”.

I live in Dover, and there are homeless here as well.  Every once in a while you will hear about one of them freezing to death in the winter.  One day I was walking on a path near Silver Lake, near the park, and I found what appeared to be a small homeless town, with tents and grocery carts.  Nobody was there, but it was obvious I have it much better than these people.  Most of us do.

The homeless are people, just like us.  Circumstances brought them to their current situation, but they bleed the same blood, and feel the same pains we all do.  But they feel it every day.

Some of these homeless children are the ones we so desperately want to fix at school.  The ones that can perform the same as their peers with the right amount of rigor.  As if this can cure their current plight.  If our Governor and DOE truly want to “fix” these children, no amount of high-stakes standardized tests is ever going to change their reality.

As campaign season kicks in during the next few months, and the rich gladly pay $100 a plate at a dinner, remember what those funds could really do to those who need it more than any person running for public office.  Maybe buy some sleeping bags.  My favorite blogger is stockpiling them now for those who will need them.

Red Clay Interpreter’s Very Bigoted & Racist Comments Shock Delaware

varley

After Governor Markell signed Senate Bill 122 and House Bill 148 at the Hockessin Colored School last Tuesday, the Delaware News Journal quickly got a story up on Delawareonline.  On their Facebook page, comments started pouring in, including the above discriminatory and racist comment.  Word has it she is an interpreter for the Red Clay Consolidated School District.  I believe there is a petition going for her to be fired immediately.

This kind of talk should become illegal in our country.  What is wrong with people?  The comment disappeared, but luckily a source got a picture of the very controversial comments….

Delaware Parent Information Center Gets The Shaft From The US DOE

Yesterday, the United States Department of Education unveiled a $14 million dollar grant to Special Education Parent Training and Information Centers to 28 states and two U.S. territories.  But Delaware, with all the sucking up Governor Markell and the Delaware DOE due to Arne Duncan, did not get one single penny from this grant.

I don’t feel too bad though, because the last event the Parent Information Center of Delaware had was on “standards-based” IEPs.  You know, Common Core IEPs.  Of course the DOE will say that’s not what it’s about, but they also say high-stakes testing is good for kids, so there’s that!

I’m sure I’ll get a response consisting of “But we are already funded by the US DOE.”  I’m sure you are, but guess what, so are all those other states.  And you didn’t get a slice of the $14 million pie!  What does that say about Delaware special education when the Virgin Islands got over $100,000 and we didn’t get jack? (cause we have our own special kind of jack)