Two Delaware Newspapers Show The Rift In Education And In The House Democrat Caucus

Holy smokes!  Not sure which one I was more surprised to see, the one about Valerie Longhurst or the one about the General Fund Race To The Top 8!

Starting with Longhurst, The News Journal covered a “scathing email” situation Longhurst sent out to a University of Delaware Professor when the U of D employee questioned the General Assembly about raises given to certain employees at Legislative Hall.  The employee, Ms. Fran Fletcher, is well-known in Delaware as a mediator.  I have seen her at the HB90 Enrollment Preference Task Force and found her to be a very reasonable woman.  She is frequently called on by the Delaware Department of Education to mediate IEP meetings when parents and schools cannot agree on IEP issues.  If the allegations surrounding Longhurst’s response to Ms. Fletcher are true, that goes way beyond a constructive response to a constituent.  I would say it was filled with veiled threats to someone who dared question a legislator over a controversial issue.

Meanwhile, The Delaware State News jumped on the eight Race To The Top positions that I wrote about on Monday but they even had a quote from one of the employees who should have been cut but now seems to be working in the Executive Branch.  Shana Young said:

“While it does not have the authority to create new positions, the Department of Education, like all state agencies, has the authority to reclassify vacant positions,” Ms. Young said. “So, in the case of these eight positions, they were reclassified into existing vacancies in the department.”

It seems members of the Delaware Joint Finance Committee were not too happy about this news either based on the article.  I really thought the DOE would be raked over the coals by the General Assembly during their last legislative session.  Perhaps we should gear up for an even bigger fight this year!  But the bigger fight may go down with the House Dems!

Any Delaware Teachers Know Much About This?

I just saw this on the DOE website under jobs.  Doesn’t sound like it can be a good thing in the current climate for teachers in Delaware.  I can’t imagine the Delaware State Education Association is a big fan of this…

Job Postings

  • Special Assistant, Professional Licensure Investigations (Casual/Seasonal)

    Among the Delaware Department of Education’s (DDOE) charges is to investigate allegations that an educator violated DE Code Title 14, Chapter 12, section 1218 and determine whether cause exists to sanction an educator’s professional license. These investigations are necessary to quickly and efficiently protect Delaware’s children. The responsibility for processing and investigating allegations of misconduct against educators is delegated to the Teacher and Administrator Quality (TAQ) workgroup of the DDOE. The TAQ receives complaints from citizens of the state and mandatory reports from Local Education Agencies (LEA – charters and traditional schools), investigates the complaints/reports and provides investigative reports to the DDOE/Secretary of Education containing a recommendation for action. The TAQ of the DDOE is authorized by law to investigate reports of specified criminal conduct, violations of misconduct/immorality, and violations of certain rules, regulations, and policies by school system educators. The TAQ through the Secretary of Education imposes disciplinary action or a denial of a professional educator license.

    Under direct supervision and in accordance with state and federal laws, as well as agency regulations, the investigator conducts investigations regarding alleged educator misconduct as assigned. Based on fact documentation, testimony, and physical evidence, she/he prepares complete investigative files and submits typed comprehensive investigative reports. The investigator coordinates with the Attorney General’s Office regarding cases on appeal to the Professional Standards Board (PSB). The investigator testifies in administrative proceedings and other proceedings as required.

PDD Education Heroes Forum Tonight In New Castle, Delaware

There’s going to be a forum tonight if you are interested in attending.  This is from Nancy Willing’s excellent blog, The Delaware Way:

Join Progressive Democrats for Delaware

7PM Wednesday, October 7th
19 E. Commons Blvd. 2nd Fl., New Castle
Education Panel Discussion

Our four Education Heroes, Mike Matthews, Kevin Ohlandt, Elizabeth “Tizzy” Lockman, and  John M. Young, will be joined by Vicki Bloss Seifred and Brian Stephan for a panel review of the impact of state education policy: what’s being done with it and what should we do about it.

Two panelists, Tizzy and Vicki, are members of the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission (WEIC). Two panelists, John as Board member and Brian as Citizen Budget Oversight Committee member, represent Christina School District. Two panelists, Mike as education union president and Vicki as teacher, represent Red Clay School District. And four panelists, John with Transparent Christina, Kevin with Exceptional Delaware and Brian with Those In Favor and Delaware Liberal, are education bloggers with Mike formerly blogging at Down With Absolutes.
What a line up! Also, we’ll be presenting Kevin and Tizzy with their Hero certificates!

The PDD October Panel On Education Will Have Many Spill-over Issues From Our September State Budget Panel

And we are thrilled to announce that joining PDD on November 4th for a presentation on Citizens United led by Judith A. Butler will be Democratic candidates for Congress, Rep. Bryon Short and Sen. Bryan Townsend, both prime sponsors of SCR 6, calling for an Article V Convention and an Amendment to the US Constitution.

Nancy Willing
President, Progressive Democrats for Delaware

Glitch In DOE Reporting Fails To Show School Offenses & Crimes Data For Charter School of Wilmington, Delaware College Prep, & Delaware Military Academy

How about those apples? I actually found a huge technicality in the DOE reporting system for bullying and the DOE fixed it in record time.  Contrary to popular belief, things at the Red Clay charter schools are NOT as rosy as the past couple years of bullying and discipline reports provided by the Delaware Department of Education would have you believe.  I was very puzzled when I saw, for two years in a row, none of these three charters had their individual reports come up on the DOE School profiles website.  I emailed John Sadowski, the Program Manager for Climate and Discipline at the DOE this morning and advised him of this.  As of 12 noon, the reports are now available.

I’m not sure what happened, and it didn’t change the Annual bullying report I posted this morning, but it does show some things parents would not have seen before this fix.  I would like to believe this happened because of the odd nature of Charter School of Wilmington, Delaware College Prep and Delaware Military Academy being the only charters in the state authorized by a school district.  In this case, the Red Clay Consolidated School District.

Using Delaware College Prep as an example, this is the only information parents could see for them on the School Profiles page of the DOE website:

Number of Reported Offenses (2014-15)
School District State
School Crimes (Title 14, Delaware Code, §4112) 1 74 678
Department of Education (DOE) Offenses 23 1,239 10,432
All School Safety Policy in Place N/A
Suspensions and Expulsions
2014-15
Number of Suspensions 44
Number of Expulsions 0
Count of Students Suspended/Expelled 23
September 30 Enrollment 569
Percent of Students Suspended/Expelled 4%
District Percentage 11%
State Percentage 12%

When you hit the tab for details in both these sections you get to see a breakdown for this data as you can see in the below reports. But before 12 noon today, it didn’t come up for the three Red Clay charters while it did for every other public school in the state.  I put up both the reports for Red Clay, before and after so you can see the difference.

Red Clay Consolidated Combined Report 2014-2015, 6:59am, 10/7/15.
Red Clay Consolidated Combined Report 2014-2015, 12:25pm, 10/7/15
Charter School of Wilmington Combined Report 2014-2015
Delaware College Prep Combined Report 2014-2015
Delaware Military Academy Combined Report 2014-2015

So what got me all interested in Red Clay charters and these reports?  It had a lot to do with this article.  I knew the student was suspended for many days over suspected drug activity. I wanted to be sure Charter School of Wilmington reported it right to the state since that was part of the issues at the time. I believe they did, because it shows 20 students were suspended from the school for a total of 118 days.

I don’t believe this was an intentional mistake on the DOE’s part, but oversight and making sure all the reports came up would have been prudent. I’m glad they fixed it though and parents can see what actually happens in terms of reportable offenses at these three schools.

With the current issues Delaware College Prep is going through, knowing they have had 18 fights and a violent felony might be something the Red Clay Consolidated Board of Education may want to know about. Although I am curious what the two Delaware DOE offenses are for Delaware Military Academy with nothing checked off in the sections for that category.  Maybe they aren’t done fixing it…

Students In Red Clay Are More Likely To Be Bullied As Those In Christina…Why Are We Redistricting?

The Delaware DOE released their annual bullying report for the 2014-2015 school year, and reported and substantiated bullying did go down compared to the previous year.  I would like to empathize the words “reported” and “substantiated” because I don’t always believe the reporting and substantiations actually occur as much as they should.  Schools and districts in Delaware run the risk of being labeled a “dangerous school” if they have too much bullying and school crimes.  This actually incentivizes schools NOT to report things, something Attorney General Matt Denn warned schools about last winter.

With the whole Wilmington Education Improvement Commission/Redistricting of Wilmington schools thing going on, I thought this would be an ideal time to look at both Red Clay and Christina.  For 2014-2015, Red Clay had 106 substantiated bullying incidents where Christina had 65.  Out of those, multiple students aren’t counted in those figures if it is the same incident.  When you put in those numbers, Red Clay had 127 compared to Christina’s 74.  When you take the charters in Red Clay out of their numbers for academic performance (which I don’t agree on based on standardized testing), Christina out-performs Red Clay.  So why do we have this huge push to take Wilmington students out of Christina and into Red Clay?  Culture and academics are better in Christina.

Once again, many charters and one district reported NO bullying incidents and some didn’t even have any reported incidents.  Charter School of Wilmington, Delaware Academy of Public Safety & Security, Delaware Military Academy, First State Montessori Academy, Odyssey Charter School and Sussex Tech reported no bullying incidents to the DOE.  All told, 16 different charters and districts reported 5 or less bullying incidents.  Reporting incidents to the DOE needs a lot of work.  The DOE audited 11 different traditional district schools and one charter, and they found many instances of schools not reporting things to them within the required 5 business days of the incident.

The very loose “peer attention” was cited as the number one reason for bullying with 238 incidents with this as the cause.  The even more loose “other” had 118.  When it gets down to specific reasons, physical appearance had 76, age had 57, disability had 20, and race/color had 13.  With 356 vague and unknown reasons serving 65% of the reasons for bullying, that really doesn’t help Delaware get to the heart of the reasons for bullying.  I strongly suspect there are other reasons that could have been checked off but the school chose not to so they wouldn’t look bad.

I will be going into great detail like I did last winter on individual districts, schools and charters on these issues.  And once again, I implore any parents who know of substantiated bullying incidents that occurred in schools where NONE were reported to let me know.