How Does The Rest Of Delaware Feel About Higher Property Assessments To Fund Our Schools?

The Wilmington Education Improvement Commission is proposing a plan for funding of the redistricting effort currently in the planning stages.  WEIC wants the state to look at increasing property assessments to raise more funding for our schools.  How do you feel about this?  With Wilmington schools as a test for a weighted formula funding, which would start there first, will Kent and Sussex counties support this without more funding going to their own schools?  WEIC does not have any true stakeholder input from Kent or Sussex right now.  I urge every Delaware citizen to read the below document and let WEIC know how you feel about this, as well as your state legislators.  Because if the State Board of Education passes this plan, it will go to the 148th General Assembly for a vote.

Red Clay Board Votes To Keep The WEIC Train Moving, But With A Caveat

The Red Clay Consolidated Board of Education had a special meeting tonight to discuss the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission and the redistricting of all Christina School District students into Red Clay.  The biggest issue at this point is funding.  The Board passed a resolution with a 4-1 vote to keep it going, but it was explicitly understood that if the funding is not available, it is dead.   Superintendent Merv Daugherty said if the funding isn’t there by July 1st, 2016, Red Clay will not move forward.

I know many are cheering for this, but I say pull the plug now.  With the budget and elections being the biggest issues in Delaware come January, the General Assembly will have a very hard time justifying the costs for this while making crucial cuts elsewhere.  And there will be cuts without more revenue.  And just wait until it becomes mainstream that the WEIC plan will most likely hinge on an increase in property assessments for the entire state.  I don’t mind paying my fair share for schools, but when the anti-referendum crowd finds out, they will be incensed.  If you thought the right and the left were at odds on some issues now, just wait until that topic becomes a part of social media.  It will get ugly real fast!

I like Tony Allen and many folks on WEIC.  I think their plans are based out of a concerted effort to do what they feel is the right thing for the students of Wilmington.  But this is not the time, not with the monetary issues facing this state.  For all the money all these education foundations and think tanks donate, have we heard any of them offering to pony up some cash?  Hell no.  Because it is a traditional school district thing.  Bank of America is incorporated in Delaware.  You would think they would have pride for not just charter schools but also our traditional schools.  Where is their huge donation to all of this?  They have a crucial player spearheading all this.  Meanwhile, I am hearing more and more people accepting the Common Core but they still hate the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  What many don’t realize is the two go hand in hand.  The reason the test is so jacked up is because it is based on Common Core.  But people are actually calling them “the standards” now.  You can wrap a ribbon around crap, but it is still crap.  Do not be lulled into acceptance folks.

Colonial backed out, and it looks like Brandywine may as well.  Christina’s teachers have no assurances they will be able to keep their jobs if the redistricting goes through.  Christina is going to be facing their own hefty financial issues by the end of this school year.  Murders continue in Wilmington, and Dover is having its fair share of homicides as well.  Drugs are rampant in this state.  We have adults acting out against students, albeit rare, but it is happening.  There is the elephant in the room called racism, and it exists in this state.  It is real, and it is happening right now.  By the time Delaware becomes a powder keg, Governor Jack Markell will exit stage left, leaving a legacy that future generations will come to hate him for.  What will Rodel, the Delaware Department of Education, and the State Board of Education do without their leader once he is gone?  The General Assembly is going to have their hands full, and I can guarantee you if they push the property assessment thing, the landscape of Legislative Hall will look very different come January 2017.

Mother In Delaware Does Not Want SROs In Our Schools…Do You Agree?

Jenn C just commented on here about the debate over School Resource Officers (SROs) in Delaware schools and if they are needed or not.  There are valid arguments about the issue, but with the controversy over Officer Fields down in South Carolina, more people are talking about this.  As a father of a student with disabilities, this mother’s fear is very real to parents.  And what happened to her child is absolutely appalling.  I hope she gets some sort of justice on this matter.

Training is the key. My daughter is restrained when all of her other supports fail. I do know that her entire team including the principal and other support staff are trained and if she says “you are hurting me” they have to let go. That being said – more SROs is not the answer. I met with Rep. Williams about an incident last year where the SROs got involved with a student with a BIP and IEP and removed the student from school and took him to the local hospital where he was committed and parental rights were removed even when mom was right there and no one consulted her. This incident in the media recently is not the first of over the top abuse of power by SROs. I have been fighting them being in the schools because of the stats showing that special needs kids, at risk kids and minorities suffer when police are present. I have been fighting for years and it seems no one is listening.
http://www.delawareonline.com/story/news/education/2013/11/10/a-special-needs-debate-over-police-in-schools/3485837/

Delaware House Republicans Watch With Glee As Democrats Spar

I get emails from both sides of the aisle in Delaware.  The Democrats and the Republicans.  It is usually about legislation or crucial issues.  Rarely do I see one side taking potshots at the other.  On Friday, I received the House Republicans email which centered on a “cover story” on the email exchange between State Reps John Kowalko and Earl Jaques:

Disappointing Student Test Scores Spark Sniping Between Lawmakers, Public
 
Delaware’s disappointing mathematics and reading scores in the recently released  2015 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP)  sparked a heated exchange between two state legislators and members of the public.
In an e-mail exchange shared with state legislators, bloggers, members of the media, and the education community, State Rep. John Kowalko, D-Newark, railed against Delaware’s public education policies.
 
The match to the fuse was the NAEP’s 2015 math and reading scores for students in 4th and 8th grades.  The data was last compiled and released two years ago.  
 
Compared to 2013, Delaware’s 4th Grade students saw their math scores drop from 243 to 239; while 8th grade math scores fell from 282 to 280.
 
In 4th Grade reading, Delaware students had an average score of 226 in 2013 and 224 for 2015.  Scores dropped in 8th Grade reading as well, from 266 to 263.
 
Delaware students also fared worse than the 2015 national public school average in three of the four previously cited measures, scoring above the national average only in the area of 4th Grade reading.
 
“Seriously consider the harmful effects foisted on our children by these ‘education reform’ salesmen,” Rep. Kowalko wrote in his e-mail.  “The NAEP test is one of the most widely used, highly respected and … accurate assessments of education results.  If this latest development doesn’t strike a warning chord in any of you that consider themselves as advocates for children and public education than I’m afraid it’s time for an introspective look we all should take.”
State Rep.
Jeff Spiegelman
Rep. Kowalko has been an outspoken critic of the Delaware Department of Education and the direction of education reform efforts in The First State.  House Republicans Jeff Spiegelman, R–Clayton & Lyndon Yearick, R–Camden-Woodside, joined Rep. Kowalko in sponsoring a measure earlier this year (House Bill 50, as amended) that sought to allow parents to exclude their children from the statewide Smarter Balanced Assessment as well as any district-level assessment.
 
The Smarter Balanced Assessment is aligned with the contentious Common Core standards in English and mathematics.
 
Despite clearing the House and Senate with large bipartisan majorities, Gov. Jack Markell vetoed the measure citing the potential loss of federal funding and harm to the state’s economic competitiveness.
 
In his e-mail, and an identical post on his Facebook page, Rep. Kowalko criticized the state’s Common Core standards.  “Common Core is not a curriculum, but it is so specific in its standards that it becomes a de-facto curriculum.  Covering those prescribed ‘standards’ forces teachers to teach only those skills.”
 
Rep. Kowalko pointed to the NAEP test scores as reason to question Delaware’s education policies.  “The NAEP is a generalized test given to kids all over the world.  It is a consistent and reliable measure of comparison.  You can’t ‘study’ for it.  So when we look at countries that do well (i.e. Finland/New Zealand) and see that their curriculums are nothing like what we have just adopted/imposed, we should ask: ‘What are we doing?'”
 
House Education Committee Chairman, State Rep. Earl Jaques, D-Glasgow, took issue with Rep. Kowalko’s use of state e-mail to share his views.  “John, your personal views shouldn’t be part of our e-mail system,” Rep. Jaques stated.  “Your e-mail isn’t based on any facts, but filled with innuendoes and bias against people you dislike.  Please take your postings to the blogs – not on the state email system!!”
 
Numerous people came to Rep. Kowalko’s defense, including WDEL Talk Show Host and Syndicated Columnist Rick Jensen.  
 
“The viewpoints of any State Representative or State Senator on public policy are absolutely permitted (and encouraged) for public dissemination via official email,” Jensen wrote.  “What should outrage every journalist and supporter of the First Amendment is Earl Jacques trying to suppress the comments of a representative who disagrees with him.”
This is going to be a very contentious second half of the 148th General Assembly folks.