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.

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Kevin Ohlandt

I am a proud parent of a son with Tourette's Syndrome and several other co-morbidities. I write on this blog to educate other parents so they know a bit more about not only special education, but all the really bad things that are happening with public schools in Delaware and the USA. We are all in this together, and if our children aren't able to advocate for themselves it's up to us parents! We need to stop letting companies run our schools, and demand our children get a proper education. Our Departments of Education in our states have become weak with fear from the bullying US DOE, and we need to take back our schools!

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