Teach For America’s “Lead Delaware” Approved By State Board But Who Is Teach For All?

Yesterday at the Delaware State Board of Education unanimously approved the Teach For America led “Lead Delaware” program.  At the September Delaware Professional Standards Board (PSB) meeting, the original application didn’t even get a vote by the voting board.  TFA redesigned the application which was approved by the PSB and several schools wrote letters of support for the program.  The highlights of the program can be seen below:

In listening to the State Board audio recording, Jeremy Grant-Skinner with TFA mentioned a partner called Teach For All.  This is essentially an international Teach For America, led by Wendy Kopp, the founder of Teach For America.  Grant-Skinner talked about how they will bring some of their cohorts (Principal trainers) to different regions to learn best practices.

Kopp’s husband is Richard Barth, the founder of the Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP) charter schools.  While there are no KIPP schools in Delaware, my fear is the more embedded TFA becomes in Delaware, it is only a matter of time before they invade.

I have been very vocal about my feelings on Teach For America embedding themselves in Delaware education, and this new Lead Delaware program is not the best thing for Delaware in my opinion.  First off, they will charge a $7,000 “service fee” to each program participant.  While TFA is saying there will be no costs from the local education agencies (school districts), I have to wonder where these funds will come from.  Perhaps Rodel or the Longwood Foundation?  Both have donated heavily to TFA Delaware in the past.  Here is the budget for each “cohort”:

Category Unit Cost ($)

Tuition/fees/related costs for partner courses (Harvard, WilmU, NAATE) 10,326

Costs for other partner organizations (Teach For All, TNTP, Jounce) 2,576

Principal Consultants 2,500

Excellent School Visits 1,750

Principal Mentors 1,000

Materials 750

Operating costs 17,024

Recruitment 595

Participant Fee (7,000)

Total 29,521

I also cringe at TFA even developing a principal certification program.  From their application:

Lead For Delaware’s candidate assessment process incorporates three types of assessment

data: (1) school leader competency ratings, (2) program completion and participation evidence,

and (3) standardized assessment scores. Cohort members must meet all criteria across these

three areas in order to be recommended for School Principal and Assistant Principal

certification (under Section 1591).

This program still has to be approved by Acting Secretary of Education Dr. Steven Godowsky.  It is my fervent hope he sees past the obvious benefit for TFA and puts a halt to this leap-frog program for leaders in Delaware education.

The Opt Out Discussion

Minding My Matters

Wednesday night I had the opportunity to speak at the 14th representative district in Lewes, Delaware, on the topic of opt out. This came about because Mike Matthews was asked to speak but was unable to attend due to a scheduling conflict, and he was kind enough to think of me. Claire and Mikki Snyder-Hall communicated regularly with me, and when I arrived I was told instead of a debate we would be presenting our own particular viewpoints on the topic, as the other original debater was unable to attend and also had a different person speaking.

I had already prepared a 10-minute speech for the program, and as I sat and talked with people I really didn’t get much of a feel for how people felt about opt out in general. At the conclusion of my speech, and that of my fellow speaker, we fielded some general questions. Boy…

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State Board of Education Audio Recording Up, Definitely Worth A Listen!

The Delaware State Board of Education audio recording went up today.  Yesterday’s meeting was very interesting between the WEIC presentation, SATs, the Delaware Met decision for formal review, and Dr. Steven Godowsky’s first meeting as Acting Secretary of Education.  I had to leave after the Del Met decision and I still need to listen to the decision on the Teach For America sponsored Lead Delaware decision.  You can listen to the whole thing at the following link: http://www.doe.k12.de.us/domain/225.

“Teachers Have Such A Cushy Job”…Oh Really? One Delaware Teacher Tells All!

I wrote an article last night wishing more teachers in Delaware would write anonymous blogs.  The comments are coming in fast and furious on social media and on the article.  One teacher’s response deserved an article of its own.  Thank you Delaware Teacher!  I like this idea, and I would be more than happy to do the same for any teacher in the state!

Hey so here’s a thought: Give educators the opportunity to guest blog here. Like how Kilroy got you started. Then you might be able to hear from more folks. I’d also reach out directly to individuals you know and see if they’d like to submit something.
As far as a list of responsibilities, there is an excellent blog that I saw floating around on Facebook that really went into a great deal of detail about how teaching has changed over the 30+ years that person has been teaching. It is extremely comprehensive in terms of additional responsibilities.

Prior to making a list of my own, I want to make sure folks understand that I’m not complaining about working in my chosen profession. I’m not interested in being attacked by someone who thinks I’m “just bitching”, and yes, that has happened, online, on MY blog. So…

Educators are salaried employees, and that means we can be expected to work the job until our job responsibilities are complete. I’d like it noted for the record that, in my district at least, the union contract actually states this exact sentiment, that it is expected for educators to work outside the contractual hours.

I teach 3 classes and an enrichment course daily. I have 3 different grade levels, plus the mixed-grade enrichment, so that’s 4 separate courses I’m planning for on a daily basis. Currently I have a student load of over 210 spread across those courses, and in my discipline (elective course) there is no support person available to come in and work with the students who have special educational needs. Approximately 20% of my students have individualized education plans, with up to 1/3-1/2 of some classes with those particular individuals. Additionally, there are students with behavior plans, emotional support needs, and 504 plans that include such medical diagnoses as ADHD (I don’t have quick data on that percentage).

My courses are all hands-on, and I manage an 8,000 sq ft courtyard and have between 70 and 80 animals in the animal science program as well as wildlife habitat, vegetable gardens, fruit plants, and a small greenhouse. In my classroom I provide centers for students to work in when they finish early; these centers are in reading, art, science, and technology, and I created activities for each center that students complete as they work in the center.

On a normal day, I come into work 30-45 minutes early to get my room set up, copy materials, etc. I’m on hall duty for approximately 15 minutes, then the first class block starts. I’ve got 40 minutes of individual plan, then hall duty for 30 minutes twice a week, 70 minutes of individual plan twice a week, and 45-60 minutes of professional development with an additional 10-25 minutes of individual plan on the fifth day. After school I have hall duty again for about 10 minutes daily, then meetings three days a week. One of those meetings is about an hour in length while the other two are around 20-25 minutes each. That leaves me with four additional hours on a normal week between the end of the school day and the time I have to leave to pick my pre-k student up at his school. In a perfect week, I have about 11.50 hours between 6:15 am and 3:30 pm where I am at school with “free” time to plan, grade, etc.

I’m fine with my job duties, but it would be irresponsible to say that I have adequate time during the work day to get things done. Between the hall duties (good for the school), the peer learning time (good for the teachers), meetings (good for the staff), parent contacts (good for the students and families), and other things we get regularly called upon to do, it can be difficult to take the entire time allocated for work and give it to work. I’ve got IEP meetings, behavior plan meetings, TONS of emails to answer, guest speakers to arrange, trips for my student clubs to plan, evaluation system goals to write, lesson reflections to complete, student work samples to hang in the classroom and hallway, essential questions and standards and agendas to write on the board every day for every separate class, a positive behavior support system to maintain, attendance to enter into the computer (within the first 10-15 minutes of class, while also teaching), grades to update and enter electronically as well as back up manually, supplies such as books and paper and scissors to inventory and maintain, conversations with other educators about the students we share to help support them in our classrooms, missing and makeup work to track down, and data data data to enter into multiple systems. Heaven forbid I need to write a behavior referral for a student, because that entails multiple actions across multiple platforms in addition to calling home and conferencing with the student and all the things I did prior to needing to complete the referral.

Many of these are things educators have been doing for a long time. And that’s fine. The difference really is all the initiatives that we now have to follow. I can’t just write down my lesson topic on a piece of paper and go. I have to show my bellringer activity, my activating strategy, 3-4 transitions throughout the class, how I’m differentiating for all my students, what in-depth questions I’m asking to evaluate learning, what my formative assessment will be, where the lesson ties in to the overall unit and course, what standards the lesson is based on (my content standards plus math and ELA common core plus any science and social studies), and the level of rigor. We have a lot of professional development on our own in addition to the ones we get in groups.

So yes, over time the responsibilities have grown and the complexity of meeting the requirements have grown.
A side note about Amplify: Yes, it is a company. However, that term is being used across the educational environment to describe a series of tests. There’s the Smarter Balanced test, the STAR test, SRI, etc. Amplify has a product that gets used, but instead of using its full name every time we refer to it, we simply say “Amplify”. Not trying to be touchy, but this isn’t the first time I’ve seen someone respond to an educator with that “Amplify is a company, not a test” comment.

And now that my lunch “half hour” is over…

Social Impact Bonds are just another form of privatization. Bad news for Special Needs students.

Fred Klonsky

chi-ct-quinn-photo-20130709

Pat Quinn brought Social Impact Bonds to Illinois.

Special education advocate Bev Johns has written here warning about the impact of Social Impact Bonds on special education services.

What are Social Impact Bonds (SIBs)?

They have become a favorite privatization tool of corporate Democrats and others.

Wall Street loves them.

Also known as Pay for Success programs in which Wall Street investors, often using funding from private philanthropies, invest in social programs which once were funded directly by the government.  The aim is to reduce government costs by offering profits to Wall Street.

And Wall Street gets a pretty good return on that investment.

When the first cohort of students enters kindergarten, CPS will begin paying the lenders for each fewer child who needs special education services when compared to the control group. CPS will pay $9,100 per child annually, an amount that increases by 1 percent each year.

The city…

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Graphs for everything?  

Creative Delaware

Exceptional Delaware, here is a thought for you. Should we show everything in the form of a graph?

Last week, I was walking down the hall in my school building and I notice graphs outside classroom doors. Schedules make sense, but graphs… Printed, in color, and laminated….. graphs at each door, all the same colors….

So, I went in for a closer look and , “o NO,” went through my head. These are test scores…. No names, or raw scores, but percentages, taller bars to shortest bars, and in different colors. Green for above. And yellow for below. Why yellow; that is my favorite color. And you know m……. the teachers name. Not on the graph, but on the door so beautifully decorated….

Then i felt really bad, what if this was my door… (I teach art, no graphs for me this year) I spent time money and effort to…

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