State Board Passes Opt-Out Penalty Against Schools

The Delaware State Board of Education just passed the Delaware School Success Framework with the opt-out penalty multiplier included.  This is a very sad day in Delaware: for students, parents, schools, educators, and citizens.  I feel sad for all the students who are going to be pressured non-stop to perform well on this test.  I feel sad for the parents who are going to face an enormous amount of pressure against opting out.  I feel sad for Delaware.  This is your legacy Governor Markell.  Shame on you.

The vote passed with four yes votes: Gray, Heffernan, Coverdale, and Rutt.  Bunting abstained.  Melendez and Whitaker were absent.  Can’t blame them, wouldn’t want this vote showing.

This fight has just begun.  The DOE obviously wants a war with parents, and they just got it.

State Board and Secretary Godowsky discussing opt-out penalties and unrealistic growth

Live from the State Bored Board of Education room.  Came in late for this one.  Schwinn and Reyna are talking about their “growth” targets.  Board Member Nina Bunting asked about stakeholder input and how the DSSF does not take their feedback.

The DOE Has Lost Their Minds! Really Governor Markell? You Disrespect Students With Disabilities

I posted the whole document these pictures were in two posts ago, but upon reviewing the DOE’s five-year goals for growth in the Smarter Balanced Assesssment, I noticed the one group that is going to be driven hard to improve proficiency on the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  Students With Disabilities.  Dammit Jack, what the hell is wrong with you?  You have NO idea what these kids are going through every single day.  My guess is this is something you do not deal with or experience on a daily basis.  I really think you may be insane.  This isn’t right, and every single parent of a child with disabilities needs to email their legislator and ask them to impeach Delaware Governor Jack Markell based on an inability to perform his job functions.

Below are the growth targets for the next five years for the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  They expect students with disabilities to jump up astronomically in the next five years which means the DOE will push teachers to push these students.  Enough is enough.

DOEGrowthTargetsELA

DOEGrowthTargetsMath

Welcome to the Jack Markell world of Rigor and Grit for students with disabilities.  This is not education.  This is insanity.  This is not aggressive, this is you just not getting it…

UPDATED: An earlier version of this article had an employee at the DOE named in it.  I talked with this employee when I left the State Board of Education, and I understand she was just doing her job.  She answers to her boss, and I totally get that.  This is why I have changed this to her boss.

DOE Ignores Cherry-Picking In Statewide Review of Educational Opportunities Report To State Board

The Executive Director of the State Board of Education, Donna Johnson and Susan Haberstroh, in charge of Policy and External Affairs with the Delaware Department of Education, just presented a review of the Statewide Review of Educational Opportunities to the Delaware State Board of Education.  The report fails to mention all the schools in Delaware that have selective enrollment practices that results in not all students given the same educational opportunities.  Instead, they are focusing on some of the schools that practice this logic.  This review stemmed from House Bill 56, signed by Governor Markell earlier this year.  That legislation also put a pause on new charter school applications until this review was done.  Public Consulting Group is the vendor for this initiative.

DOE Tweaks Opt-Out Penalty But It Is Still Harsh

The State Board of Education finally put the Delaware School Success Framework update on the State Board of Education agenda for the meeting today.  They have tweaked the opt-out penalty a little bit, but it’s still not good enough.  It is still a harsh penalty that will hurt schools over parental choices that are beyond a school’s control.  Nobody was allowed to give public comment about an action item.  I didn’t.  I talked about school transportation.

This is what I said:

So I’m driving my son to school this morning, at a private school with no Common Core and no Smarter Balanced Assessment. (Thank you God!) (look up)   And ahead of me, there’s this school bus.  In the other lane, a car swerves over the line in front of the bus, but the bus driver keeps going straight ahead.  I watched in astonishment as the car noticed the danger and moved over, almost hitting a sidewalk on his side.  I don’t know why the car swerved over the line, and I don’t know why the bus driver kept moving straight ahead oblivious to the danger in front of him.  But it could have been a serious accident.  I can imagine though.  Perhaps the other driver had a disability and suffered a painful motor tic while driving.  Maybe they were a student who comes from poverty and wasn’t able to eat the past few days.  Maybe it was a teacher running late for school because they lost so much sleep worrying about their next evaluation.  We just don’t know.  Meanwhile, the bus driver who ignored an obvious danger, what were his motivations?  I would assume a bit of arrogance.  I can imagine the thought of “I’m not moving.  I’m in the right.”

This is Delaware education in a nutshell.  We have different bus drivers carrying the load of every single student, educator, and school in the state.  Sometimes it is Governor Markell, other times it is Secretary Godowsky.  It could be Dr. Gray.  Or Pat Heffernan.  Or any of you on this board.  Sometimes it seems like someone not even allowed to be a bus driver, like Paul Herdman of Rodel , is driving the bus!  I see the same mentality of that bus driver when I see the leaders of education in Delaware.  I see them making changes and policies based on plowing ahead without knowing the dangers that are clearly in front of them.  Sometimes they spend millions of dollars trying to find out why the other driver swerved over the line.  For whatever reason, our leaders assign blame to people who weren’t even in the car.  Sometimes we are so focused on the blame that we fail to realize the other factors that could be taking place. 

Every time this board meets, you make decisions for the children of Delaware.  You’ll do that today.  You’ll decide how to prevent accidents even if you could be the ones causing them.  But you will never take the accountability on yourselves and realize that you could be the cause of many of them.  Because you are so focused on driving down that road and getting to where you want to be, that you fail to understand the other conditions of the road.  And in your decisions, it never dawned on you that you are driving in the wrong direction on a one-way road that leads to heartache and devastation for hundreds of thousands of students, teachers, parents and communities.

I showed the State Board some pictures of my son since they have never had the opportunity to meet him in person.   I advised them their collective actions have led to his situations in the Delaware public education system since the focus just isn’t on the kids anymore.  Sabine Neal spoke about special education and the DOE’s failure to act, State Rep. Kim Williams talked about the State Board getting to more meetings and not just sending the same designee, Mike Matthews spoke about WEIC and his desire to see the State Board at all four of the public hearings for the redistricting effort in Wilmington, and Kendall Massett from the Delaware Charter Schools Network spoke about school choice and the upcoming Charter School Expo.  Below is the Delaware School Punishment Success Framework.

US DOE At High Risk Of Data Breach, 139 Million Social Security Numbers At Risk

On Tuesday, November 17th, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform met to discuss the security of the United States Department of Education’s information security system.  Their overall take on this: a resounding failure.  Yes, your child’s information is not safe, despite assurances by your state and your federal government that nothing could happen based on protections they have implemented.  We now know this to be an obvious falsehood.  This is the reality, and it is starting to look like even the US DOE can not keep our children’s information safe.

This isn’t just social security numbers either.  How much information does the US DOE have about our children?  How many reports, grades, and behavior files do they house in their system?  Do they have medical information in their system as well?  This is a train wreck in the making.  During Race To The Top, one of the mandates of the US DOE was for all states to create a Statewide Longitudinal Data System.  This means all that information is in this pipeline.  This affects all of us!

Ed-Scorecard

 

From the House Oversight Committee’s website:

TAKEAWAYS:
• The Department of Education (DoEd) has at least 139 million unique social security numbers in its Central Processing System (CPS).
• Reminiscent of OPM’s dangerous behavior, DoEd is not heeding repeat warnings from the Inspector General (IG) that their information systems are vulnerable to security threats.
o In the IG’s latest report, there were 6 repeat findings and 10 repeat recommendations.
o The Department scored NEGATIVE 14% on the OMB CyberSprint for total users using strong authentication
o The Department received an “F” on the FITARA scorecard
• The Department maintains 184 information systems.
o 120 are managed by outside contractors
o 29 are valued by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) as “high asset”
• The National Student Loan Database (NSLD) houses significant loan borrower information. There are 97,000 accounts/users with access to this significant data yet only 5,000, less than 20%, have undergone a background check to establish security clearance.
o The IG penetrated DoEd systems completely undetected by both the CIO or contractor
• The Department needs significant improvement in four key security areas:
o Continuous monitoring
o Configuration management
o Incident response and reporting
o Remote access management

PURPOSE:
• To examine information security at the U.S. Department of Education, including the Agency’s efforts to secure the personally-identifiable information (PII) provided by federal student aid applicants and their parents.
• To review recent findings of the U.S. Government Accountability Office and the Department’s Inspector General (IG).

BACKGROUND:
• The U.S. Department of Education is responsible for managing the portfolio of over 40 million federal student loan borrowers holding over $1.18 trillion in outstanding debt obligations. The Department also manages other student aid programs, such as the Pell Grant program that annually serves 8.3 million students. These programs often require applicants and their parents to provide the Department with their PII.
• In FY2014, the IG found that, “While the Department made progress in strengthening its information security program, many longstanding weaknesses remain and the Department’s information systems continue to be vulnerable to serious security threats.”

Chairman Chaffetz (R-UT):
“Here they’re managing more than $1 trillion dollars in assets, liability for the United States, it’s basically the size of Citibank and the CIO meets with the Secretary maybe twelve times a year. That’s absolutely stunning. And looking at the vulnerability of almost half of the population of the United States of America has their personal information sitting in this database which is not secure.”

Godowsky

Today.

Legacy.

Forever.

Past.

Doesn’t.

Matter.

Choice.

Markell.

Puppy Dog.

Or.

Savior.

Sheep.

Or.

Leader.

Penalty.

Wrong.

Guilty.

Drowning.

Quit.

Parents.

Rights.

Test.

No.

Peers.

Unelected.

Opt.

Out.

Yes.

Children.

Best.

Interest.

Stop.

No.

Never.

Teachers.

Principals.

Superintendents.

Schools.

Today.

Legacy.

Forever.

Gray. Melendez. Heffernan. Rutt. Coverdale. Whitaker. Bunting.

These are the names of the unelected Delaware State Board of Education.  In 12 hours they will begin a meeting that will place their mark on Delaware education history.  This will be a defining moment for each one of these board members.  Anything they have voted on before will pale in comparison to the vote they will take action on later today: the Delaware School Success Framework.  Specifically, the participation rate multiplier.  This is Governor Markell and the Delaware DOE’s attempt to kill opt-out.  But they already failed.  They just can’t accept it.  So they will continue this charade of test, label and punish.  And the State Board will go along with it, because the consequence the AFWG voted on was not “harsh enough”.  Somewhere down the line, one or more of these board members will want to do more in Delaware.  But we will remember their vote on November 19th, 2015.  We will remember this one for a long time.  And if anyone forgets, I will remind them.  The day the State Board of Education chose to punish schools for parental rights.  We already know the outcome.  We know Secretary Godowsky, who looked like a guilt-ridden Benedict Arnold of the education world yesterday but still plowed ahead with this opt-out punishment recommendation, will not betray the Governor.  Every student, teacher, parent, educator, school, board member, citizen, and legislator is okay to betray, but not the almighty and arrogant Jack Markell.   This is the time when we see if predetermined outcomes will clear the way for rational thought.  This is the State Board’s moment when we find out if do have their own mind or if they are just Jack Markell’s unelected lapdogs.