Arne Duncan Leaves Nuclear Bomb Parting Gift For Students With Disabilities

One year ago tomorrow, I wrote my biggest article ever.  Entitled US DOE & Arne Duncan Drop The Mother Of All Bombs On States’ Special Education Rights, it generated numerous hits from across the country.  I imagine just about every engaged parents of children with disabilities read that article.  It was a warning shot.  It impeded on the ability of IEP teams to accurately and correctly formulate an IEP.   The latest “Dear Colleague” letter from the United States Department of Education is actually striking the hammer into the coffin of IDEA.  The letter, written by Melody Musgrove, the Direct of the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), demands all IEPs be written with the state standards as part of the goals for an IEP.  I find this to be incredibly offense and this spits on the whole concept of IDEA.

In Delaware, where I live, our Department of Education released their Annual Measurable Objectives last week based on growth and proficiency of the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  While overall they want the proficiency rate to go from 50% to 75% in six years, for the sub-group of students with disabilities, they want them to go from 19% to 59% in six years.  So students with disabilities will have to work harder than every single one of their peers.

The combination of these two announcements shows that those in power in education truly don’t understand neurobiological disorders and disabilities.  It almost seems as if they want to get rid of the whole concept of special education in favor of personalized learning.  As well, it appears they want parents to pull their kids out of public education.  Is this some twisted voucher program that no one has told us about, or do they just not care about the well-being of these students?  I’m all for progress and improvement, but there comes a point in time where every long-distance runner hits a wall.  When they hit that, their body literally breaks down.  Students with disabilities are going to hit that wall and it won’t be pretty.

Odyssey Charter Pauses On Their Journey To Expand

Odyssey Charter was supposed to have an Open House for their 9th grade choice enrollment a couple weekends ago.  It was abruptly postponed.  Apparently the school is not quite ready to expand into the high school arena.  Sources tell me they are having some bond issues to finance the new building.  Nothing major, but a letter is supposed to be going out to parents according to a dad I spoke with.  They do have a tentative open house scheduled for next year’s 9th graders in December.  I’m sure it is something that will be worked out, they just need some additional time to get everything sorted out.  The deadline for choice enrollment is January 13th, 2016.  If they are unable to get it all fixed by then, they may have to delay their high school for another year.

Kids Don’t Need Rigor & Grit These Days…They Need ’80s Music!

We hear it all the time: “In order for kids to be college and career ready, they need to use rigor and grit.”  No they don’t.  They need the fighting anthems of the 1980s.  The music nowadays just doesn’t carry that “stir your soul” kind of feeling like we got way back when.  Take this for example:

Just once in his life a man has his time
And my time is now, and I’m coming alive

I can hear the music playin’, I can see the banners fly
Feel like you’re back again, and hope ridin’ high
Gonna be your man in motion, all I need is a pair of wheels
Take me where the future’s lyin’, St. Elmo’s fire

I can see a new horizon underneath the blazin’ sky
I’ll be where the eagle’s flying higher and higher
Gonna be your man in motion, all I need is a pair of wheels
Take me where the future’s lyin’, St. Elmo’s fire

The title track by John Parr from the 1985 movie, St. Elmo’s Fire, is all about the spirit kids needed thirty years ago.  There is all this talk about “growth”, but the people saying that fail to realize these kids are growing up all by themselves.  True growth comes from within.  Not from a standardized test.  Even Dexy’s Midnight Runners knew this, with their one-hot wonder Come On Eileen:

These people round here
Wear beaten down eyes sunk in smoke dried faces;
So resigned to what their fate is
But not us, no never, no not us, no never
We are far too young and clever

Now people don’t smoke like they did back in 1983, but we see a lot of beat down eyes sunk in faces.  I usually see them at the Delaware State Board of Education meetings.  Some of the music back then can actually flip on itself, and apply to the people sitting at that table down in the Townsend Building in Dover:

What you gonna do when things go wrong?
What you gonna do when it all cracks up?
What you gonna do when the love burns down?
What you gonna do when the flames go up?

Who is gonna come and turn the tide?
What’s it gonna take to make a dream survive?
Who’s got the touch to calm the storm inside?
Don’t say goodbye, don’t say goodbye
In the final seconds who’s gonna save you?

Alive and Kicking

Simple Minds indeed!  Whereas students are Alive and Kicking, just like the kids were in 1985, our State Board needs to wake up!  Kids have way too much pressure nowadays.  So did Queen and David Bowie back in 1982, but they found a way to turn into one of the best songs ever written!

Insanity laughs under pressure we’re breaking
Can’t we give ourselves one more chance
Why can’t we give love that one more chance
Why can’t we give love give love give love give love
Give love give love give love give love give love
‘Cause love’s such an old fashioned word
And love dares you to care for
The people on the (People on streets) edge of the night
And love (People on streets) dares you to change our way of
Caring about ourselves
This is our last dance
This is our last dance
This is ourselves
Under pressure
Under pressure
Pressure

The pressure kids are under these days between just growing up, and starting in Kindergarten, this need to constantly improve under the lens of proficiency is sheer madness!  Kids need Dreams:

So baby, dry your eyes, save all the tears you’ve cried
Oh, that’s what dreams are made of
Oh baby, we belong in a world that must be strong
Oh, that’s what dreams are made of

And in the end on dreams we will depend
‘Cause that’s what love is made

How is today’s youth going to be able to burst into this Common Core world and be able to strategically think on their own if they are programmed to think the same as everyone else?  They need to aspire to their own dreams.  Not the ones designed to make education reformers filthy rich.  I can picture Jack Markell and Paul Herdman playing this next song when they were planning their 20 year vision ten years ago:

You can tell I’m educated, I studied at the Sorbonne
Doctored in mathematics, I could have been a don
I can program a computer, choose the perfect time
If you’ve got the inclination, I have got the crime

Oh, there’s a lot of opportunities
If you know when to take them, you know?
There’s a lot of opportunities
If there aren’t, you can make them
Make or break them

Yeah, you’re definitely trying to break them.  Especially with your latest Annual Measurable Objectives that are NEVER going to be met.  Kids need real heroes nowadays.  They need someone like Martin Luther King to rise them out of the high-stakes testing stupor as U2 glorified him like no other back in 1984:

One man come in the name of love
One man come and go
One man come he to justify
One man to overthrow

In the name of love
What more in the name of love
In the name of love
What more in the name of love

But instead, Moms and Dads coming home from work dread going over the latest batch of Common Core math homework.  I think the Police predicted the future with Synchronicity II:

Daddy grips the wheel and stares alone into the distance
He knows that something somewhere has to break
He sees the family home now, looming in his headlights
The pain upstairs that makes his eyeballs ache
Many miles away there’s a shadow on the door
Of a cottage on the shore
Of a dark Scottish lake

Even more frightening is the fear kids must have when they think about actually taking the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  It is pounded into them from day one, and it has to be a lot like the things that scared us when we were kids.  They probably have nightmares and start to plan how they can get out of it.  Maybe a fever?  Are they feeling Hot Hot Hot?  The Cure thought so:

Hey, hey, hey
Yes, I’m jumping like a jumping jack
I’m dancing, screaming, itching, squealing
Fevered, feeling, hot, hot, hot

Children and teenagers instinctively know when something isn’t right.  They need to question things, just as parents need to as well.  Even the German band Alphaville called it thirty years before the Smarter Balanced Assessment:

Can you imagine when this race is won?
Turn our golden faces into the sun,
Praising our leaders, we’re getting in tune
The music’s played by the, the madman.

Forever young,
I want to be forever young.
Do you really want to live forever?
Forever, and ever

The generation that belongs to this toxic testing in education is in severe psychological danger.  Longer hours at school, being taught to a test that is absolutely horrible, and parents feeling intimidated by schools.  They want to do the right thing, but some are too frightened of the consequences for their kids.  The cold hard reality is this: there are no consequences for their children except the imaginary ones the Delaware DOE and Governor Markell want to impose on them.  But no song exemplifies the glory of the ’80s more than the original Vision song: Journey’s Only The Young!

They’re seein’ through the promises
And all the lies they dare to tell
Is it heaven or hell?
They know very well

Only the young can say
They’re free to fly away
Sharing the same desire
Burnin’ like wildfire

The only way to help the children of today be unique and individual is to say NO!  Parents need to rise.  The most frightening part is that many of the people making the decisions nowadays are the same ones who used to be unique individuals thirty years ago.  Now, they are just common.  The same.  Don’t let your child be the same.  Opt your child out today.  Let your young children play and love them with everything you are.  Help them learn at their own pace and not within the confines of proficiency models and growth methodology.  Don’t let their youth drift by at the hands of these education monsters.

Read more: John Parr – St. Elmo’s Fire (man In Motion) Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Read more: Dexys Midnight Runners – Come On Eileen Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Read more: Simple Minds – Alive And Kicking Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Read more: Queen – Under Pressure Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Read more: Van Halen – Dreams Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Read more: Pet Shop Boys – Opportunities (let’s Make Lots Of Money) Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Read more: U2 – Pride (in The Name Of Love) Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Read more: The Police – Synchronicity Ii Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Read more: The Cure – Hot Hot Hot Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Read more: Alphaville – Forever Young Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Read more: Journey – Only The Young Lyrics | MetroLyrics