Hey Kilroy, I Found A Better Publius! And This One Has A Blog!

Publius, The Withering Apple

Over on Kilroy’s Delaware, the godfather of Delaware education blogs, there is a commenter named Publius.  Typical education reform kind of guy, ticking people off with his “choice” comments and “march to proficiency” stuff.  But I found a better Publius! This one hails from Florida, and has a great blog called The Withering Apple with a handle of Publius Withering.  I wish the Delaware Publius would move to Florida, but I wouldn’t wish that on the better Publius!   Check it out at The Withering Apple.

Delaware’s 14 Focus Schools & Who Knew There Was A 7th Priority School In Laurel?

Delaware Focus Schools, Priority Schools

2015FocusschoolsThere was a seventh priority school I didn’t know about, and this is the first I’ve heard about it nearly a year after the initial announcement.  According to the DOE’s ESEA Flex Waiver request submitted March 31st, 2015, Laurel Middle School was also labeled a priority school along with the other six in Red Clay and Christina school districts.

With 14 Focus schools, these could eventually become priority schools if they don’t show the necessary “growth” and “proficiency” on standardized test scores.  This is wrong on so many levels, especially since the 10 new focus schools are named based on data from over a year ago.  That’s right, old data is being used by the US DOE.  It doesn’t matter if two grades of students are no longer at those schools, they will label and shame whoever they can…

New York Superintendent Writes Best Letter Ever: “I Do Not Care…”

New York Superintendent Letter

If every single Superintendent in the country wrote letters like this, our country would have much better education.  Congratulations to Superintendent Michael Hynes from the Patchogue-Medford School District for writing this VERY awesome letter!


US DOE’s Executive Summary On Delaware’s Race To The Top Program

Delaware DOE, Race To The Top

The US Department of Education released an executive summary of Delaware’s Race To The Top program.  This has everything in there, including the latest Accountability Framework Working Group included…  And of course it wouldn’t be complete without a mention of the Vision Coalition’s latest launch…

More Proof DOE Is Moving Ahead With Participation Rate Penalty With School Report Cards

Delaware School Success Framework

I just came across this document.  This is a Delaware Department of Education presentation to the University of Delaware’s Delaware Academy for School Leadership (DASL).  Ryan Reyna with the DOE, along with Gerri Marshall from Red Clay and Jeff Klein with Appoquinimink presented the below to DASL on June 24th, 2015 with some very definitive statements about this participation rate…

We see the DOE telling DASL, Part A metrics are those that were submitted to USDOE as part of our ESEA submission.  This is very important because this is where they openly admit they submitted this to the US DOE like this.  But keep in mind, this is NOWHERE in the public draft for ESEA authorization that the State Board of Education approved for submission on 3/19/15.  It did not show up in the draft until their “redlined” edition on 3/31/15.

Delaware DOE To Name 10 Focus Schools By End of 2015, School Report Card Will Determine Future Priority Schools

Delaware Focus Schools

The Delaware DOE will pick 10 new Focus Schools by the end of 2015 according to their ESEA Renewal document.  These Focus Schools will be in addition to four remaining Focus Schools from the prior year.  No priority schools will be picked this year, but be sure they will the year after!  In the Delaware Department of Education’s ESEA Flex Waiver request for 2015, they wrote the following:

Classification of Schools and Districts

The U.S. Department of Education requires Title I schools to be classified into three categories: Reward, Focus and Priority. Delaware has created a fourth category for Title I and non-Title I schools called Recognition. Moving forward, DDOE intends to use the Delaware School Success Framework (DSSF) to classify its schools within these categories.1 The U.S. Department of Education has indicated that using a state’s rating system is permissible so long as the state demonstrates that it has identified the required number of schools that meet the ESEA Flexibility definitions.

“For each ESEA Criterion there is a proposed way in which the DSSF will be used to identify schools.2 By the end of 2015, this methodology will be used for the identification of a new cohort of 10 Focus schools (with 2015-16 school year as a planning year),3 at least two Reward schools, and up to 15 Recognition schools for 2015-16. A new cohort of Priority schools will not be identified for the 2015-16 school year, but the proposed new methodology is included to indicate how future cohorts may be identified.”

with footnotes added:

2 “For the sections in Principle 2 on Reward, Recognition, Priority and Focus schools, unless otherwise noted, LEA references district public schools.”

3 “Four current Focus schools will not exit from that status at the end of the 2014-2015 school year, for a total of 14 Focus Schools”

This information can be found here, on page 9:


The US Department of Education defines a Focus school as:

“A Title I school that has the largest within-school gaps between the highest-achieving subgroup or subgroups and the lowest-achieving subgroup or subgroups or, at the high school level, has the largest within-school gaps in graduation rates (“within-school-gaps” focus school); or

 A Title I school that has a subgroup or subgroups with low achievement or, at the high school level, low graduation rates (“low-achieving subgroup” focus school).”

The DOE will use past data from 2013-2014 to pick these focus schools.

Making matters worse, the US DOE is making the Delaware DOE use their upcoming Delaware School Success Framework to be the guide for picking Priority, Focus, Reward and Recognition schools once it is approved by our State Board of Education and than the US DOE (see the Scribd document). Delaware MUST submit an approved request for this by October 31st.  Even more reason for the General Assembly to override Governor Markell’s House Bill 50 veto, otherwise opt-out could push a Title I school to priority schools status.

Schwartzkopf & Blevins: Call For Emergency Session To Override Markell’s Veto Of HB50 BEFORE 10/17/15

House Bill 50 Veto Override

We are at crunch time Delaware!  In the US DOE approval letter for Delaware’s 2015 ESEA Flex Waiver request (seen below), it explicitly states Delaware must approve their School Success Framework by October 31st.  The Delaware State Board of Education is the approving authority, and they meet on October 17th.

I need EVERY willing and able citizen of Delaware to email Delaware Speaker of the House Pete Schwartzkopf and President Pro Tempore of the Delaware Senate, Patricia Blevins, to call for an emergency session to override Governor Jack Markell’s veto of the parent opt-out legislation and give it enough time to make sure it is approved by 10/16/15 with the condition that it goes into effect immediately.  If the House overrides the veto, it would go back to the Senate, but they cannot do the same in the same legislative session day.  So the latest this could happen for the House would be October 15th, and for the Senate, October 16th.

To email Schwartzkopf, please email: Peter.Schwartzkopf@state.de.us and his phone number is (302) 744-4351.

To email Blevins, please email: Patricia.Blevins@state.de.us and her phone number is (302) 744-4133.

If the State Board of Education passes this, our schools will be penalized for their participation rate on standardized assessments.  As I wrote yesterday in great detail, the Delaware Department of Education is trying to pull a fast one on parents and schools.  This is their final attempt to prevent a veto of House Bill 50 by inserting an opt-out penalty into state regulations without any legislative approval.  This was done with very underhanded and sneaky methods until I lifted the veil of transparency on this earlier this week.

Our schools deserve more than this.  They deserve who will work with our schools, not against them.  Penny Schwinn with the Delaware DOE needs to offer proof of her claim that the penalty rate portion of the Delaware School Success Framework, otherwise known as the School Report Card, is mandatory.  Otherwise she has pressured school district superintendents, admins, the Delaware PTA, and DSEA into setting up something that will be detrimental and dangerous to all our schools, students, teachers, and Delaware itself.  Please email or call Schwartzkopf and Blevins today!

State Rep. Earl Jaques Slams Teacher Pay While Justifying Cuts To The Poor

DE State Rep. Earl Jaques

Yesterday, Red Clay Education Association President Mike Matthews posted on Facebook regarding a News Journal article about cuts to the homeless in the Fiscal Year 2016 budget.  Matthews wrote:

“Shameful. Poor folks get $15 less per month but we found $1,000,000 to go to a few charter schools.”

The ensuing conversation was very much in agreement with Matthews original comment, until Delaware State Rep. Earl Jaques joined the fray…


Obviously, this brought teaching into this conversation in a huge way.  The comments started flying:

Is Earl suggesting that underpaid teachers should make up the difference of cuts to the poor? Since Earl is part of the General Assembly, what is he recommending be cut to get that money back to the poor and when is he going to formally propose those cuts? Does he have any idea of what Mike already does for the poor? Real classy.

Earl — I don’t want to hear that argument so don’t sell it here. The argument is (expletive deleted) and you know it. Cutting general assistance to the poor so Newark Charter can build a new lab is disgusting and you know it.

But I agree with the bottom part of your comment. I just wish we had more legislators willing to be brave and do the right thing.

 Earl Jaques has reliably demonstrated, with both his words and actions, that he is both incapable and unconcerned with helping public schools best serve students and parents.

The step increases will perhaps cover the additional healthcare costs borne by the educators. I wouldn’t know, I’m at the top of the scale and don’t get steps anymore. But I still advocated for them for my fellow employees.

How about he cut HIS pay and give to the poor?

Most teachers I know give to the poor in real, tangible ways. Has EJ ever, with his own income ever purchased a coat, a pair of shoes, a backpack for a poor child? How about pay a family’s electric bill? Find an air conditioner for an asthmatic child, provided a graphing calculator for a motivated high school student who could afford her own? Figure out how to get eyeglasses for a struggling student, paid for a field trip, or year book for a child NOT related to him? Purchased a novel on CD that an English language learner could not read?
These are things that teachers do. No one forces them. It is not required of them. But many will ho-hum this litany of giving.
They expect teachers to give as they expect missionaries to lay down their lives for the faith.
And they want no reminders of the needs they choose to ignore.
I mean, who lobbies for the poor, anyway?
Allow teachers to give willingly and then try to shame them for not giving more.

Now if I were Earl Jaques, I would have probably walked away from this.  Trying to compare cuts to the poor to expensive labs in charter schools is not a wise idea in the current fiscal environment in Delaware.  Especially since this charter already got grants from other sources for this lab, including the Longwood Foundation.  But this morning he came back with the following which drew a brilliant response from Matthews:

  • Earl Jaques What you miss was that the budget is a balancing act. Everyone had needs and we try to fill as many needs as possible, but unfortunately we can’t fill every need to the level we would like. Also teachers aren’t the only state employees.
  • Mike Matthews $250,000 for a Newark Charter School expansion, Earl. This school serves a limited low-income population and they’re already at huge levels of proficiency on the state test. So why do they “need” that money? You can say all you want about everyone having to sacrifice a little, but it’s disingenuous to not qualify the level of “need” for NCS vs. the level of need of those on General Assistance.

Yes folks, this is the Chairman of the House Education Committee in Delaware!