Is Delaware DOE Trying To Stop School Computers From Getting To WordPress Blogs?

I’m starting to hear from educators around the state that anyone using school internet is getting the “This website may not be safe, are you sure you want to go there?” message.  This is not all state internet, just the schools.  Is this fallout from my article last week about a certain employee in the Townshend building down in Dover, or are they tracking how many teachers and staff members are reading the blogs?

You can still get to the blogs, just hit yes.  Many have told me they are doing that anyways.  I tried it from the State-Guest internet connection, and I got in no problem.  If the DOE or whoever is trying to control what kind of media educators can get to, this is not a good sign.  It is a big brother type of mentality.  I’m sure they would never block the News Journal because they are basically the DOE’s public relations arm.  But I guess the DOE doesn’t want educators reading the news that might speak out against them.  So much for freedom of speech.

Delaware Educators: I strongly encourage you to hit yes when you get this freedom-preventing message on your computer screen, and continue to read Kilroy’s Delaware, Kavips, Transparent Christina and Exceptional Delaware.  As well as Diane Ravitch, Duetsch29, and all the rest!

News Journal Editorial Fails To Mention “Funding” In WEIC Opinion Piece

The Delaware News Journal is an interesting newspaper.  Read by about 300,000 citizens of Delaware, they are always quick to write an editorial about anything education related very soon after it happens.  This week it was the announcement of who was on the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission and what the committees are.

This “Our View” opinion piece raised some interesting points, but it failed to mention the critical part about redistricting any Christina schools to Red Clay- funding.  This is the biggest challenge facing this whole issue, and it seems like nobody really wants to talk about it at this point.  I know, the group doesn’t even start meeting until next week.  But if the funding questions aren’t answered very fast, this will never happen.

There is already serious talk about changing the way homes are assessed in Delaware.  Most agree it is too low.  But if you thought folks were screaming at everyone over two failed referendums in Christina, wait until any type of legislation is introduced to tackle that one!  Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for it.  My home is assessed at 1/3rd or less of it’s market value.  Property assessments are always lower than the market value, but not that much!  But there are many in the state who don’t want to pay one penny more for education.  Some just don’t want to pay more, or they feel the districts and charters have too much wasteful spending, or they think the State of Delaware should cut a lot of their education reforms and give more to the districts.  While that would certainly help, would it be enough for 133,000 public school students in the state?

The editorial does talk about “a sluggish economy that limits choices” and “revenue shortfalls“, but nothing about the very large elephant in the room over where the hell funding comes in for this.  As we are seeing with the Red Clay priority schools, funding has already come up as a huge issue.  What makes anyone think the state can handle something more immense?

But the editorial did mention the parent opt-out issue, but not as something parents wanted, but this:

“And in June, some legislators led a rebellion against the governor on mandatory state testing.  Now they are threatening to override the Governor’s veto.”

First off, it wasn’t “some” legislators.  It was almost 3/4 of them.  This is where the News Journal editorial crowd always loses me.  It makes the legislators look like a bunch of rowdy cowboys who only passed the bill to tick off Jack.  It was more like this: they heard the voices of their constituents and acted.  Just because it goes against the almighty Jack Markell doesn’t make it a rebellion.  If anything, it signaled the first sign of Spring in Delaware education legislation after a very long Winter.

Delaware Professional Appraisal System 101: Part 6 of 6

Creative Delaware

Component 5:  Student Achievement

Yeah, I do not have much to say about this component for a few reasons.  One, it hasn’t counted yet….  Yup, we give our students these tests and they do not count for the students or the teachers…..  There are so many issues that the scores do not count for the individuals, just the school…..

Now, a positive.  There is an art test for me to give to my students.  This is the highlight of this whole evaluation system.  When this component counts, I will be evaluated with art, not math and ela like many other states in the country. These art test are well written, developmentally appropriate and make sense to the teacher unlike the Smarter Balance tests.

There is a training in Dover on October 1st, 2015 to explain this component and any new changes in the system since it changes every year.

I…

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Delaware Professional Appraisal System 101: Part 5 of 6

Creative Delaware

Component 4: Professional Responsibilities

This component is my biggest problem with this evaluation system.  I am a state leader in the visual arts.  I was rated proficient for this component.  How is that possible when I have been a leader in the arts for the past 4 years, elected by my peers?  You know how, my administrator never saw it….  Yes, because I was never given an opportunity to share my knowledge at the building level, I offered many times, I am only proficient because my administrator could not observe my level of performance.  That really wasn’t my problem, but I am the one being evaluated….

4a: Communicating with Families

This element of component four is very difficult for elementary and middle school art teacher because of the volume of students they teach.  A completely different rubric should be created for us in this area.

4b: Recording data in a…

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Delaware Professional Appraisal System 101: Part 4 of 6

Creative Delaware

I am very sorry that I have not been a little faster about finishing up this series.  Most people think that teachers have a relaxing summer off…. Well that is not true for me.  I turn into a stay at home mom, and being with two children that never go away is, but relaxing.  I am going to try to to finish this up in the next two days, so here we go!

Component 3: Instruction

This is the best component in this whole evaluation system.  I really do not have much to tell about it, except for the concept of “grouping students.”  Again, like in the other components, art teachers really do not group students.  If teachers have detailed, well written lessons, post procedures, routines, and rules in the classroom, and make sure students can explain everything.  You are good!

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Is It A Coincidence WEIC, Rodel’s Student Success 2025 & DOE’s SREO Initiative Are All Taking Place At The SAME Time?

There are three major education groups going on right now.  We have the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission (WEIC) led by Bank of America executive Tony Allen, the Rodel sponsored Student Success 2025 brought to us by the Vision Coalition, and the Delaware Department of Education’s Statewide Review of Educational Opportunities (SREO).  These are all going on at the same time, and it makes me wonder…

The biggest thing I noticed on WEIC was the glaring fact there was NO representation from DOE or Rodel on the leadership team.  At first glance, I didn’t notice a lot of the major charter players at all.  But they are well-represented on the Vision Student success 2025 gig:  Rodel’s Dr. Paul Herdman, Eastside Charter’s Dr. Lamont Browne, Teach For America’s Laurissa Schutt, H. Raye Jones Avery, well-known charter supporters and business leaders Gary Stockbridge and Ernie Diastasis, Longwood Foundation President There DuPont, Saul-Ewing Charter School Attorney Jim Taylor, Maria Matos, Freire’s Assistant Head of Academics Paul Ramirez, and Rodman Ward III. And from the DOE there is Mark Murphy (not sure on his status now that he “resigned”), Vice-President of the State Board of Education Jorge Melendez, Chief of the Teacher & Leader Effectiveness Unit Chris Ruszkowski, Chief Academic Officer Michael Watson, and State Board of Education Director Donna Johnson.

As for the Statewide Review of Educational Opportunities, their membership consists of, well, not too many people.  The only folks I’ve seen on paper is Executive Director of the State Board of Education Donna Johnson and DOE Chief Policy and External Communications Officer Susan Haberstroh.  The Legislative Hall duo.  These are the only names on this group at this point and we have no idea who the stakeholders are aside from local education agencies and their data that will be collected.  On it’s face, the SREO is merely a data collection initiative, to be collected, collated, and dissected to find “best practices” in our schools.  My issues with this are 1) the vendor is Public Consulting Group, 2) there are always mitigating factors why some schools are “better” than others and trying to copy certain models in other areas of the state may not work, 3) it was a rush announcement by Governor Markell who actually came to a State Board of Education meeting to announce it in March.

All three of these groups have some similar goals for Delaware education.  If you look at the three documents below, it is easy to see the similarities but all the differences:

While certain goals in these three groups are similar, such as funding and best interests for students, some are very different.  But if you add up all the pieces, it equals a combined picture that includes nearly aspect of Delaware education.  I do not believe this is a coincidence.  A year ago, all roads let to the Wilmington Education Advisory Committee.  Now, all roads lead to Governor Markell and Rodel.

I have hypothesized for a year now that Wilmington will become an all-charter school district eventually.  I still believe this is the Governor’s goal.  Last night, at the Red Clay board meeting, serious questions were asked by the board to Dan Rich and Tizzy Lockman with WEIC.  The board questioned where their authority in all of this is.  In the wording of Senate Bill 122, it states the State Board of Education can act without a referendum if the local school board approves a resolution supporting the WEAC recommendations.  Red Clay did this in April.  The law does not specifically name the school districts that can be redrawn.  So who is to say charter schools can’t be considered a school district?  They can, and they could have say in all of this before all is said and done.

The alignment for a total takeover is present, right now.  But there is one huge glitch in the whole plan…funding.  Who pays for any of this?  Red Clay? Christina? The taxpayers (invariably, they always do), the State of Delaware? Corporations?  And there may be one other snafu in this whole process… but I’m not going to let that cat out of the bag!