I write about these people all the time, and I take for granted that most of you have no clue who some of the Secretary of Education’s underlings are! So here is an organizational chart, taken from the DOE website, from August 2015. Don’t be alarmed about the name at the top! Mark Murphy’s last day is September 30th, 2015.
Every time a Delaware citizen talks about our “failing schools”, it gives the Delaware Department of Education fuel. They absolutely love it when people say this. Because what so many of our citizens are forgetting, any label of success or failure is based on standardized testing. This year, it is the Smarter Balanced Assessment. Last year, it was DCAS. A few years ago it was DSTP. Everyone loves to put an easy Band-Aid on a deep flesh wound. This is what our DOE has done. They have allowed and brainwashed the public into believing their own fallacies.
It sickens me what the DOE has done to our communities and schools with their ideology that only puts more of OUR taxpayer money into the hands of companies that aren’t even incorporated in our state and make them rich beyond our wildest dreams. All in the name of “progress” and erasing the “status quo”. Failure is the Delaware DOE’s favorite word. We need to STOP using this word as a measurement of our schools, and by default, our teachers and students. We can talk about education, especially in the most impoverished and high-crime statistics. But don’t for one second believe our children are failing based on the DOE’s measurement. Because then you have fallen into their trap.
The Smarter Balanced Assessment is bad. It’s very bad. Refuse this test for your child. Write a letter today and let the DOE know you will not let your child be their guinea pig for one day longer.
Tonight, the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission will hold their first meeting to try to determine how funding can occur for the redistricting of City of Wilmington schools into Red Clay Consolidated School District. This has been the number one question on the minds of Delawareans since this initiative was first announced. The agenda was sent to me last evening, and it is the same one on the Delaware Public Meeting Calendar. This should be a very interesting meeting. If anyone attends, please send me some notes on it! Thanks in advance!
Penny Schwinn is the most dangerous woman at the DOE. I saw this firsthand yesterday at the State Board of Education retreat. I wrote about this extensively last night. This is a woman who pushed Red Clay and Christina to the breaking point over the priority schools last year. She is the same person who said that violence in our most impoverished communities “isn’t necessarily a challenge to overcome” with how it affects students in the classroom. And yesterday, she announced at a public meeting that Delaware is going to implement the most aggressive and difficult accountability plan for schools in the entire country. And she isn’t willing to back down from this.
I’m sure nobody challenges the fact that our schools have issues in our state. No state is perfect, and Delaware is no exception. It’s not like we are the top-ranked state in the country where we can afford to push the bar so high for our students. We have one of the highest per-student funding mechanisms in the country. But our students are not advancing. Not to the level of the DOE’s satisfaction, and certainly not to parents satisfaction either.
The elephant in the room is the test, the Smarter Balanced Assessment. Everything is tied to this test. I never hear the DOE or the State Board of Education EVER talk about students actual grades. You know, the ones given by a teacher three or four times a year. The ones that show, over a ten-week period, how our students are really doing. Everything is in relation to the test: student growth, student proficiency, teacher effectiveness, school ratings, etc. But if there is one thing I have learned in the past two weeks it is this: the Smarter Balanced measures schools based on labels. In all the graphs released by this blog and Delaware Liberal in the past week, this test measures poverty and economic status. And that is essentially it. It recognizes the haves and the have-nots.
Regulation 103, also known as the Delaware School Success Framework, will punish schools severely over once-a-year test scores. I truly don’t care what Penny Schwinn’s motivation is for all of this. This is insanity at an epic level and our students will pay the most severe price for her madness. It is past time our legislators and leaders took a step back and look at the effect all of this is having on education in Delaware. Far too many citizens are measuring success based on one test. It is wrong. It is propaganda. It is evil. And it needs to stop. Delaware parents, I implore you to refuse this test for your child. It is now an essential and absolute urgency. You hold in your hands, your voice, the ability to turn this around and get out of this toxic environment our children have been exposed to. Please end it. Now.