Delaware Met’s Final Public Hearing Brings Out The Defenders

I received an email from someone who went to the Delaware Met public hearing tonight.  They wished to remain anonymous.  They sent me a very good indication of what the crowd was saying: Save our school!

I went to the MET school public hearing tonight.

All reports I’ve heard: from the News Journal and a student there, were horrible: one kid setting another’s hair on fire; one kid’s head banged into a wall and left a hole in the dry wall; frequent police calls; etc.  In response, the Head of School quit; the Board recommended closing, and then changed their minds;  and the DOE is recommending closing the school on 1-21-16.

But tonight was a love fest.  Only one person from the school’s board spoke; though the guy from the big conglomerate was in the audience.

I was at the hearing from 5:00 – 6:30 and they were still going strong when I left. I didn’t count the number of speakers — probably at least 20.  They were mostly students and  parents.  A couple of teachers spoke, one of whom started work 6 days ago.  Several of the girls were crying; the parents were praising the school, and angry with the State Board.  All thought the school was the best thing ever!  

Most commanding was Councilmember Hanifa Shabazz, who eloquently and angrily “demanded” that the DOE let them know where these 225 students were going to school in January. She and another parent asked to at least extend the closing till the end of the school year. 

A common theme was that the kids had grades of F till they came to this school, and now got Bs. There was also talk about good relationships between students and teachers at the school.  Some students said if they had to go back to a public school, they would probably fail or drop out, or get into trouble again.

None of this addressed the “crime in the school” issue, or the fact that there have already been so many transfers out that the head count is way down, and that could affect financial viability.

If the DOE can’t close a seriously struggling school like this – they can’t close anything.  

But those opposed to the closing have an excellent point – how could the school be approved and accept so many students, without the assurance from the State that it could function effectively?  Can remedial support solve these problems?  That is one of many  questions.

Thank you for sending this to me “anonymous”!  What frightens me the most about all this: no one is talking about special education and how students with disabilities are not having their Free Appropriate Public Education.  For those who don’t know, it’s called FAPE.  It means when you receive special education, you also get FAPE.  But if your IEP isn’t even done, or the school isn’t accommodating your IEP, you are not getting FAPE.  It’s very easy for a crowd to slam the DOE and State Board over “where is my child going to go now” and “this school is so much better”.  I encourage all these parents and community members to read about Delaware Met’s final meeting with the Charter School Accountability Committee.  Seriously.  Read it.  These are some key things that make a school work, and Delaware Met isn’t even doing that.  I get the whole community thing and helping each other out.  But this school is dangerous to leave open.  We don’t even know who is running things there now.  Is it A.J. English and his mentoring company? Pritchett and Associates?  Innovative Schools?  Teachers are leaving, and there aren’t many certified teachers left in the building.  It also doesn’t make fiscal sense to send all that money to the school in February when the bulk of the staff aren’t even there anymore.

I completely understand parents being worried about what happens with their child.  I’ve been there, a few times.  And it sucks.  Bad.  But I would rather move my child than keep him in a school that is falling apart.  No matter how much he may love it, I know at the end of the day I have to look out for his best interests.  Delaware Met parents, I have written about MANY schools on this blog.  Many charters.  And trust me when I say that NONE have been anywhere close to the level this school is at.  This is a tragedy beyond measurement.  I blame the DOE and the State Board for many things that I feel are wrong in public education.  But this is one time where they actually got it right.

There is a serious conversation that needs to happen in regards to what oversight the DOE has over charter schools from the time they approve them and when the doors open.  But at the end of the day, the Delaware Met’s board and staff are the ones that failed this school.  Not the DOE, not the State Board, and not the students.  They had a job to do, and unfortunately, they didn’t do it.  You can’t put band aids on a gaping flesh wound.  It may stop the bleeding temporarily, but it doesn’t heal the wound.  Your children deserve much better than this.

13 thoughts on “Delaware Met’s Final Public Hearing Brings Out The Defenders

  1. That’s my girl- K. G. She and her friends were making posters and getting copies and exercising their civic responsibility to fight for the right to choose their own school. I am so proud of them. Her mom will be proud too- we had a two hour IEP meeting that ended up with exchanging cookie recipes- of course because I baked cookies for the IEP meeting. Too bad Mitch did not get any -oh wait- they were on the second floor that was flooded.
    I am so proud of the students! I have to bake cookies for tomorrow

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  2. Wow! Well done!

    A.J. English spoke, and got applause as soon as he stood up — I had never heard of him before.

    Forgot to mention that several kids mentioned the summer internships they were looking forward to — and some said they wanted the internships to help the family pay bills. I wondered how many paid internships there could possibly be — but I am new at this.

    Thanks again, for your insight and hard work! Sent from my iPhone

    >

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  3. Kevin: I know you love it when you hear from me because I am the old person that has a sense of humor. Long ago Erma Bombeck told me I was funny- so I must be.

    Years ago, actually it was December 20 something 2007, I was the Achievement Director at the Thomas Edison Charter School.

    I have said before but I will say it again, I was on the founding team with a group of very talented and committed educators. The first year was rough. The Reading Coordinator went nuts on the principal about the chaos and ran out into the playground and threw the SFA manual in the dumpster. The principal came into my office and asked me if I would mind being the Success For All Coordinator.

    I did not know the difference between Phonemic Awareness and calling someone on the phone. I was only certified in HS Social Studies and never took a reading course.

    I took the manual home, bought a dozen books on multi-sensory reading instruction; attended a course at Columbia and watched tapes excessively and got pretty good. I could help the staff decide between Wilson Reading; Fundations and Success for all for RTI in Grades K-3.

    Later when I taught ( with a team) a Principal’s academy in Abu Dhabi for K-2 Principals that wanted a bi-literate school; I used my knowledge of early reading to simplify the process.

    I was the cheerleader of the team at Edison that managed to get from 12% up to 20% then 50% and finally around 57-90%. The second grade scores I think went close to 90%. We were superior and won two superstar awards. We were rocking and rolling as the most successful high poverty school in the state.

    To give my teachers a break, I would do crazy things around holidays. That year I was introducing some reading of text with directions and measurements and reinforcing the reading comprehension strategy of compare and contrast.

    We were comparing and contrasting Ganache vs Truffles and talking about culture. ( pardon the spelling).

    Many great cooks can simplify and say that truffles are ganache that got hard and you rolled into a ball.

    You can make these in a computer lab with a microwave.

    It is easy to chat about “social class” when using the inflated language and children that have not been introduced to “truffles” with real flowers get a kick out of making something that people with more disposable income seek out as expensive gifts.

    Most of the kids in the class whet home with a gift wrapped package of homemade truffles on the last day of the holiday.

    It was a day where some reading comprehension skills were being introduced or reinforced while at the same time having fun.

    The newly appointed Principal had just started Dec 4th. She did not like me from Day 1.

    I think she hated me before she met me because most kids liked me and about 80% of the teachers believed I was helpful. I got the feeling she wanted to get rid of me- and frankly it made me sick and sad.

    I thought I would be valued because I wrote grants, crunched numbers, bought resources and at one time Mike Stettter( who was tough) said Nancy Wilson ( who was no joke) said that they believed my dedication and contribution was one of the reasons the school was successful. It was a compliment I will never forget.

    After Christmas, a Board member Jerry told me that the new Principal A. Columbus wanted to get rid of me because I left a mess on my desk. She found a bowl of chocolate left over from the last day of school and decided I was disgusting.

    I remember being sick and exhausted after making homemade truffles with 700 kids- but for A. Columbus- I was not valued because I left dirty bowls on my desk.

    The reason for this long story- there are some readers that will say “uck” she is a mess. I am not sure if there are any readers that will understand creating meaningful “hands on lessons” using bell to bell instruction and squeeking out the last day of instruction before a holiday can mean the difference between 56% proficiency and the proficiency we all dreamed of – 75-90%. – which we eventually achieved.

    More important is generating enthusiasm and “joy” in kids that struggle with incomprehensible social welfare challenges. Most of the kids really like it when their teachers are making a mess- as many many elementary school teachers will be doing next week.

    Most people that have taught in an environment of 75-90% Free and Reduced Lunch and have experienced the thrill of staying up all night to wait for the test results and see numbers of 68-72-84- 90 percent “get it” and know that it takes lots of creativity- humor and hard work to raise achievement.

    It is much harder to get students who are 90% Free and Reduced Lunch to “meet the standard” than to be compliant with all paperwork.

    Read the Governor’s Task Force on IEP Improvement the hearings in Washington on the House and Senate floor about outcomes vs compliance. Compliance is easy if you have a good copy of Microsoft Word, lots of time or really get IEP Plus and the correct staffing ratio.

    Achievement is not as easy.

    I have been told that poor paperwork is a non- negotiable and I get it- having beautiful IEP’s signed- sealed and implemented is a critical component of any Public School in Delaware.

    Even if all of the IEP’s document 50-80 children reading at the 3-4th grade level- it is fine- if they are beautiful and in compliance.

    Where are the people in the state that are outraged and want some accountability that having IEP meeting and compliance in 3rd; 4th; 5th; 6th; 7th; 8th is a huge pile of paper to read that “Hakeem is reading on the 3rd grade level in 9th grade….” You had 6 Highly qualified Special Ed teachers document the same thing and HE STILL CAN’T READ IN 9th and 10th grade.

    Rather than be outraged that a charter dare open with Special Ed kids and not have a dozen Special Ed teachers arrive magically by spaceship because they are not in the original unit funding- why isn’t anyone outraged that they had 6 IEPS’ before they arrived and they are still struggling to produce 7 word sentences let alone full argumentative paragraphs.

    I have no idea if anyone in NCC has the interest to read all the way to the bottom. If so, maybe the get some home truffles but we are missing the boat guys. We are failing the kids that need us the most not because we did not have the paperwork- we did not have the staff in the orginal funding formula that comes with Charters- look at Gateway’s first year.

    The news is having a field day about the crime. Get real. The kid was fooling around and never intended to light that girls hair on fire and I had to watch the police arrest him as the tears rolled down his face. They sat him in my office to wait and he said- “please please Ms Ogden don’ be mad; I did something dumb.” Most of the fights are girls fighting over boys. We don’t have bloods or crips- because they are the only gangs in the State mandatory training( which was such a joke and waste of time.)

    We have members of some “quasi street groups” that use social media tags to identify themselves- but guess what- we have photos of every social media tag and we send screen shots if they are talking about criminal activity to the police directly. And no one shot a gun in the school. At least we all know who they are; I stalk them like a cop; and the mentoring team responds with wrap around services. Duh! Ask most schools if they have a gang and they say “no- we don’t have any bloods or crips.”

    When I am feeling feisty I send the principal ( of the schools where I kids will return) photos of my Yola Boys. They are the kids that hang our near our school but go to someone else’s school THAT DOES NOT KNOW THEY ARE A GANG!!!!!!! There are a few Leer Life in the same schools- etc etc…but it is true we do not have that many Bloods. I found that the kids in the Bloods were the kids that got on everyone’s nerves so the local gang did not want them so they bought the stuff to pretend to be a Blood so they would fit in somewhere.

    I am not trying to defend anything the Met did wrong. Everything we did wrong is so well documented.

    I will defend the staff- They never really had a chance and the I will defend the school leader who “gets it.” She is a wonderful person who moved here from Baltimore and will be moving back after 5 days in the school after having her baby. She was only back 5 days- and she knew she was not valued.

    I will miss her terribly and most of the kids will miss her – but she was not valued in our community just as I was not valued when I left the bowl of chocolate on my desk.

    I just thought of something- I am from Baltimore.

    Stay tuned for more after we close…..

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    • Sue, I firmly believe all that “paperwork”, designed by an IEP team INCLUDING parents, is essential for special education to work. If the IEP isn’t complete after a consensus of the IEP team (as required by law), how can one or two people make a determination of what services or accommodations to offer the students? That isn’t special education.

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      • Kevin: Let’s agree to disagree based on experience. I have had more experience than you have monitoring the achievement of students at risk. You have read about and you may have a child it worked for, but you have not worked in a school with over 80% of the students eligible for Free and Reduced Lunch.

        I have worked on teams where it happened- at risk kids met the standard- 50- 60 70 80-90 percent of them including students with disabilities and the IEP Benchmarks and Goals themselves had nothing to do with it. The process of writing the goals has become so regulated that most people worry more about the stress of writing compliant goals than really using the goals to monitor significant achievement gains. Everyone I have every talked to used MAP or SRI testing to monitor goals but at the end of the day the change in the scale score of the DCAS is all that matters for accountability and everyone knows it. That is the reality. How much do they have to show in Growth on the next high stakes assessment for us to stay out of performance purgatory- that is the reality.

        The Special Ed teachers using research based methods after developing meaningful relationships were the key to the success and the assessments, accommodations and frequency and duration of services can contribute if they staff is correct.

        But here is the deal. I had 39 IEP’s monitored in the fall of 2014 – they read all 39 and they did not find one out of compliance and wrote every word with my ten little fingers with not one word of input from anyone. Well that is not true- I scheduled a conference call with the lawyer and Ed Associate on the phone and submitted samples of all my Benchmarks and Annual Goals and one of the nice Ed Associates that is no longer there made some suggestions- which I followed. I was happy with the goals she approved.

        I had three kids that did not full audit files so they found them out of compliance because we did not have the ESR.

        I will give them that- they were out of compliance because I did not have their files proving their eligibility. duh- same tune different building.

        Then a new team member joined Exceptional Children. I had roughly the same goals- with a few changes in percentages and amount of teacher support- but pretty much the same.

        The student out of compliance because I did not have his records was assessed with major issues in Math Computation stemming from issues in elementary school.

        They have little math reasoning or they can’t demonstrate it because they had poor computation.

        Most of the kids had the same profile- they could not subtract if there were zero’s they had to borrow from; they couldnot set up a division problem unless they could do it in their head- and not if the problem had a remainder; they could not do any fraction problems if they had an uncommon denominator and in over 50% of the cases, they did not really understand the concept of fractions as parts of a whole. They had no decimal sense of parts of 100.

        Same issue over and over again. One kid stuck out. He said ” Mrs Ogden, I can’t tell time- the whole quarter of an hour thing is confusing.”

        I don’t know if you have ever been locked in a cell for 24 hours or have a few hours of “rec time” but if you have a lot of math worksheets with “teacher modeling” meaning a few sample problems with the answers- and some worksheets with the answers- you can blow through a lot of old math in a few weeks time.

        Once we taught the problem with subtracting with zeros and showed how you could not borrow with zeros by using concrete examples of real money – btw- pulling out a ten dollar bill in Gander Hill and showing how you cash it in for ten ones- is a big deal

        So the point is, you assess the student for the PLEP which is required to develop the IEP and the new Associate from Exceptional Children says ” I don’t like these goals.

        “You have the student working on subtraction, multiplication, division and fractions” all in the same math goal. You have one Benchmark for subtraction with zero, one benchmark for multiplication requiring carrying over, one Benchmark for division where they have to show the steps for lining up problems and check their work but they can use a calculator and one Benchmark for Fractions all in the same Math Goal page.”

        ” Yes, that is right”, I say.

        “You can’t do that”,the Ed Associate says.

        “This is the same sequence of goals with different percentages that were approved in November by your group”, I say.

        “Well, what we like to see if one goal for subtraction with zero’s that progresses: ” Given 10 problems subtracting with zeros’s student will improve from the original assessment x percent.”

        I said, I don’t have an assessment that just tested subtraction with zero’s. I noticed on the mixed assessment that he messed up big time when there was a zero he had to borrow
        from so I made it a goal to make sure his teacher nailed that.”

        “Well, subtracting with zeros has to go from 0 percent, to 50% on the first Benchmark, 70% on the second Benchmark; 80% on the third Benchmark and the Annual Goal after one year of instruction will be that Raekwon is 90% proficient subtracting with zeros”, said the Ed Associate.

        I said, ” that is nuts. I don’t have time to print an assessment with just subtracting with zero’s so I can say given ten problems subtracting with zeros he will move up from 50-60-70-90 percent because in the time I have spent on the phone with you, he would have met his annual goal.

        If he was in my office and I reminded him or retaught him the problem borrowing with zeros he would get it by the end of the time I gave him a practice page with some answers for self-correcting to take to his cell, come to class tomorrow and show me the steps on the white board and then take a quick exit quiz all in this same week.

        If I did the goals the way you are mandating to be in compliance I will have to send out a ten day notice of meeting, write a new IEP; send out another Prior Written Notice that I had an IEP Meeting to update his goals and start the 30 pieces of paperwork over again for the next week when he masters the skill of showing the connection between addition and multiplication. By the way, it takes twenty minutes each way to deliver and invitation to meeting to a cell on the West Side of Gander Hill.

        This is insane Kevin- insanity.

        What is the reason that everyone has followed this process with compliance yet our State received a failing grade for outcomes among students with disabilities and the Governor Himself had a task force for the improvement of the IEP process but yet no-one is listening- hello- anyone there- we have kids that are failing!!!!! Many of them end up in prison!! Hello- is anyone listening….110 kids enrolled in the Delaware Met reading under the 4th grade and 53 were under the 3rd grade- anyone listening – we are doing a lousy job Delaware- speaking of course as a gray hair teacher that started her career teaching in Finland- hello- are we willing to admit-we ain’t doin so good with the 19801 kids that have a high drop out rate.. hello

        The IEP process is not all bad. The assessment piece is critical and the multiple assessments are brilliant- we have old DCAS; norm tests like WRAT 4; Performance Assessments; teacher created assessments and they all add up to tell us what is really going on that is preventing the student from achieving on grade level.

        That process is ongoing- responsive- reflective of the gains-adaptive like in MAP- but for gods sake – if you find out that the student has mastered a goal- the same teacher gets hemmed up with a mountain of paperwork that they next ED has to read. We need to focus on the practices that actually work and having students showing up with 6 beautiful IEP’s that reflect hours and hours of hard work- yet the student can’t write a 7 word sentence needs to be addressed.

        You sound like the rest of them that say “But it is our processs” so we can say we followed the process as a way to justify or cover up the colossal failure to provide a responsive appropriate education for the kids that are currently at risk for failure- currently failing and yet all we care about is recycling practices that have not proven effective to even address the problem.

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        • This sentence is critical to my point but it does not make sense in the selection above:

          Once we taught the problem with subtracting with zeros and showed how you could not borrow with zeros by using concrete examples of real money – btw- pulling out a ten dollar bill in Gander Hill and showing how you cash it in for ten ones- is a big deal

          The correct sentence with my point is:

          Once we taught the problem with subtracting with zeros and showed how you could not borrow with zeros using concrete examples- the student would master the compliant approved annual goal in a few days.

          Hence- the IEP Benchmark and Goal Process does not drive real solid instruction. It is a guide post for starting maybe but the amount of content a child needs to master in an annual goal is too bulky and complicated to write according to our current guidelines for compliance.

          No one on exceptional children sees, hears or understands what I am saying and all the Special Ed Teachers in Delaware that agree are terrified to say anything; challenge them for fear they get the hated purple monitoring paper that says ” YOU, my friend, are a dummy and out of compliance.”

          Once a staff gets goals written to the specifications and the goals match the PLEP and the PLEP and annual goals match exactly- god forbid they change them- they just use them over and over because they did not get the “F” on the purple monitoring paper and in many- not all – many cases- they were a joke. But – you can’t tell that by just reading the report. You have to match what is in the report to what the student is displaying in the monitoring assessments that are adaptive and really measure progress. Why the hell can’t we also reference that we want Tyrone to improve his Lexile on the next SRI to move from 695 where he is now as a 9th grade student to the next grade. NO NO NO- bad girl- no- you have to write that when given 10 reading comprehension questions on the 9th grade level with requirements for inferencing, Tyrone will score 20% proficient in 3 out of 5 trails. When you are really in the trenches and you are really showing progress- in reality you look at the inferencing questions on the Map/SRI test and see if they are improving and drive instruction based on the available data that you can collect monthly if need be but in the end- friends- what needs to improve is the LEXILE SCORE on the DCAS. What they have done is castrated good teachers and not given them any trust or faith that they can read data and drive instruction without all the strings attached.

          You/ We/ They-the good teachers would like 1 year without any inference from Dover or Pennsylvania Ave- with the staffing ratios that are in the code- 8 to one for Basic; 6 to one for intense; 2.6 to one for complex with the educational experience the unit count is based on Masters plus 10- and ya all give us a room with light- ventilation- water- a high quality snack in unlimited quantities; decent pencils made out of real wood not some crap wood from Vietnam and a point that breaks; and maybe some of the heavier ones; big round tables; comfortable seating ; sharpie markers; flip charts; 3×5 cards; composition books and maybe if I am greedy baskets of non-fiction books at all Lexile levels aligned to the content on the test at the end of 10th grade that I know is not a Biology test but is a test that has science content on it- duh- and I guarantee any Legislator that has the courage and stamina to read to the end of this- we will improve the outcomes for the students- at risk- with disabilities in this state. I know- because I have done it and that is what it took.

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          • Okay, Sue. I have read ALL your comments and on a lot of this I’m not sure how to respond to a lot of this. I can start off by saying that with all your Sue “insert nickname here” Ogden posts, whenever it is different, it goes into moderation. So the PLEP is different names, but my annual goal would be USE ONE NAME! LOL!

            But seriously, you don’t have to preach to me about IEPs and how they are constructed. But you have admitted in your posts the only one you will listen to is the US DOE. I think that could be part of the issue here. Like I’ve said, I bash the DOE all day long, but I do believe in IEPs if they are done right AND the staffing is there to implement them. We both know the latter is not the case in Delaware, but we will throw millions of dollars to the next ed-reform-fixit-company to tell us how to do things right.

            In terms of teachers and the IEP Task Force, I attended every meeting and there was VERY specific wording put in about teachers not getting in trouble over speaking up at IEP meetings. I don’t know how many are aware of this, but it is against the law now in Delaware for any retaliatory action against a teacher for speaking up at an IEP meeting if it goes against an administrator’s point of view.

            I too write long run-on sentences at times, but some of yours are longer than my articles! 😉

            So, inquiring minds want to know. Did you quit the Met?

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          • “I attended every meeting and there was VERY specific wording put in about teachers not getting in trouble over speaking up at IEP meetings.”

            You get truffles for reading all the rants. The run on sentences are intentional. They create a conversational style that makes the reader feel like they are hearing a rant.

            I get it – but – hate to be a mean girl, but you are missing one of the real issues. The idea about not speaking up at meetings is an internal method of control. That reflects when a principal or ED gives a well intentioned Special Ed teacher the “stink eye” for suggesting accommodations frequency or duration that the school is not comfortable funding. I work with a fantastic school psychologist that has been banned from all regular public schools because her IEP’s are too detailed about the specific multi-sensory reading instruction the child who can’t read = really needs.

            The Level of “stink eye” is higher up and renders the process ineffective and impacts achievement. There is a “fear factor” among most of the ED’s that I have met. They are “terrified” of monitoring. There is no comprehensive manual as in the old AMES where a committee clearly lays out the Specifics but allows talented educators some degree of interpretation. Many ED’s are frazzled and live in fear of the hateful “non compliance” on the details of the average 10 page IEP.

            The Governor’s Task Force clearly identified the practice was bulky, complicate and intimidating to parents. The contents of the latest Governor’s Task force should have been vetted in the 2015-2016 School Year where all of the stakeholders, charters and district schools could collaborate on ways to address the egregious achievement deficits.

            Instead, in the October 2015 training, there was no mention of reform other than a reluctant acceptance- with a sigh- that we have to address students that can’t read- sigh- and heavy sigh again- we have to get the opinion from the parents before the draft- with two or three “wink wink”. The ECT clearly said the District was responsible for creating the parent survey with no guidance. Sigh- oh well- it is the Governor that did tell US we had to do it. I called all of the ED’s that I work with and asked for a sample survey and they ALL said they were too busy and would get to it. I googled “parent surveys” and sent them home to every parent from a school district in Virgina.

            The parents came in and either brought the paper in empty or partially filled out. I handed out clip boards and pens and said “let’s chat about this before I draft your IEP.”

            Every parent left either sending a gift or sharing a personal story and thanked me for taking the time to find out what was “Great” about their child. That was the intention of that portion of the Governor’s Task Force. The parent felt valued, the team learned cool things about the child- everyone laughed and we created a circle of support around their child.

            No I did not quit and no I was not fired. My principal resigned- it made me very sad. My school is going to close. That made me very sad because I love the kids including the one that set the girls hair on fire and promised never to light a lighter near a human again.

            My reputation as an ED is ruined because everyone is holding me responsible for compliance on 83 IEP’s with one ARTC English Teacher with emergency certification ( who can’t sign IEP’s) a wonderful para who came 3-4 weeks ago from ARTC but not certified ( who can’t sign IEP’s) a principal on maternity leave so she can’t sign IEP’s and then just me. I thought about changing my signature to sign Sue Ogden in the Spec Ed space; Og Dawg in the Administrator Designee; Ms Murphy ( my name at AI in the teacher space) etc. but I remembered my horror and indignation when I looked at the ESR reports drafted the last day Moyer was open and I checked all the names in DEEDS and I saw that no one that signed the ESR was actually certified according to the strict regulations for attendance at meetings- so I said to myself ” oh well” ….. it reminds me of the inmate/offenders/ residents of Gander Hill. They were so refreshingly “real and honest” because they had already ruined their permanent record.. enjoy

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          • I am not sure I am replying according to your strict instructions- but I probably have to make this my last because Mr Conservative Hubby gave me the “stink eye” about blogging.

            When the Legislature is back in session, I may look around to see if there are any Charter Friendly elected officials to “debrief” about the real issues here. Instead of crying over “My City in Ruins”- how can the closure of this Charter add to our knowledge base?

            It is very clear, charters are not designed to open with 30 plus percent Spec Ed. The successful charters Blowman was talking about open with 5-11%. In addition, that is probably a true number that indicates the Child Find Process properly identified children who may need RTI or Evaluation. Parents attending the new charters that have opened without a hitch are more likely to follow the process from evaluation- eligibility to IEP or read the Federal IDEA which says it is unlawful to use RTI as a way to delay evaluation if the parent requests an evaluation. BTW: Guidance from Pennsylvania Ave that has not filtered down to the Delaware. FEDERAL IDEA does not allow schools to delay evaluation if a parent requests is to complete the many weeks of the RTI process.

            Anyway, when a charter like Met, Moyer, Reach, Marion T. Pencader opens with 25-30% Spec Ed plus the significant under-reporting of the students who clearly, through Child Find, should be evaluated- or at least be slated into RTI- there is a pattern. They fail!

            The Charter receives summer funding based on projected numbers in April. That first summer the school does not have a single book, pencil; (even the nasty crappy wood pencils from Staples); not a single pencil sharpener; three hole punch; copier; white board; smart board; hand sanitizer; Band-Aid; etc. The get partial funding based on projection and they have to open a new building and respond to all kinds of unknowns- leaks- broken pipes- cameras.

            The staffing model is always, in every budget I have seen; very lean. It is intentionally lean in years of experience and in staff. It really “tight” and there is no extra money. I remember sitting on the second floor of the WSFS Bank Building with the Reach Board and they had low low low salary for the first year and truthfully I got cold feet and stopped attending the meeting because I thought it was unrealistic to try to service a large special ed population with new- lower cost teachers.

            I remember riding in a white Toyota with John Chubb from Edison on our way to and from work in Abu Dhabi. I asked him why he stopped opening Edison Charter Schools. We talked about the reality of having to open schools with first year teachers to make the numbers work- but then you have to hand them a cookie cutter – teacher proof- curriculum and support them as part of a Leadership team. He said the model only worked if you had a more expensive mentor teacher with no more than 4 young inexperienced teachers. He said- they had to be cheap- but you had to hand them everything and tell them what to do with scripts for it to work…

            Now add, in the spirit of the law, an open enrollment policy. Charter School of Wilmington has always been able to exclude students that are not suited to the model. I have a lot of respect for all the members of the Met Board who went door to door in our neighborhood, visited churches and reached out to offer neighborhood children a school within walking distance. They had no admission criteria and no hidden essay or paperwork bottleneck designed to exclude children from dysfunctional families. The Board did a great job of recruiting. Then add a principal who had a heart as big as her 9 month belly that interviewed parents who used a “dolly” to bring in the boxes of previous IEP Files and instead of being shocked and horrified that the IEP file was taller than the child standing in front of her- she made the mom feel welcome. So the charter boards of all of these schools and similar principals admit everyone, and then in our case we had 13 people on staff. 263 kids and 13 adults. The numbers don’t work.

            The spaceship with the 9 special ed teachers never landed. I will dig very deep into the forensics when this is all over- but rather than attempt to toss daggers- throw rocks – blame everyone- the way the funding works does not support- as I understand the funding needed to hit the ground running with so many kids with Complex and Intense needs. I understand there are “batches” of funding- but on July 1st- there was not enough units to have General Ed Classes barely covered- meaning every subject in each grade covered.

            I will look at the numbers and the units and I am not sure how we were supposed to hire and train all the staff before the money arrived- but I will make this a project when the school is closed not to blame anyone but to figure out in the future if a charter can open.

            Can we limit the number of Spec Ed kids intentionally to reflect the reality of the Unit funding? Is 5% a realistic projection- based on the schools that have opened flawlessly.

            Can funding follow the child July 1 when they are enrolled in Eschool?

            Everyone puts their head in the sand and says “figure it out” but I want someone to show me the where the funding was on July 1st to do better.

            No one intentionally came to school and said ” oh gee, I am going to intentionally ignore my responsibility for providing FAPE to kids.”

            Every high poverty charter has failed in recent years.

            I remember the Special Ed Director at Edison Quit in October of 2000 ( the first fall) when it was clear we did not have the units to service the kids and it took a few years for us to catch up. When I think back- I think she went running up and down the hall slamming doors looking for Special Ed teachers- and then snapped out at the principal- said a few cuss words and walked out.

            We had kids running in the hall being monitored by volunteers- para professionals- cafeteria workers and of course myself. I always had a crew around me for the first few years. We were like 12% proficient in the first year- all hell was breaking loose. That seems to be the same pattern with charters- but where is the solution? For most of the Charter Haters they say ” you should have figured all that out before you opened.” Now that I have seen what happens without the right staff, I will have to think about that.

            The Delaware Met did not create the problems with the 263 kids that entered with lots of Special Ed needs-many came with discipline records that filled two pages single line with assault- arson- terroristic threatening- rioting IN MIDDLE SCHOOL- they admitted them and then had to distribute ( stretch too thin) the staff that was budgeted because additional funding did not follow the children in July- Sept… I promise I looked outside everyday for the spaceship with the 9 Special Ed teachers to land…..

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      • Two more things- I love it that you say the process has to include parents. I totally agree and I loved being part of the process when one of my children had an IEP at Lancashire.

        But this is again- a flat out statement made by people that have no clue about the differences in what kids that are “at risk” need and many of our kids. One kid that had an IEP in Gander was working on writing in his journal to include dialogue and he wrote a story about going to the Philadelphia Airport to pick-up a large quantity of cocaine for sale in 19801 and his mom gave him the AK 47 when he was with his Uncle but he had to bring it right back.

        SOMETIMES Kevin- the parents are the problem!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! shows social cultural ignorance when used as a blanket statement…

        Second- the quantity and quality of the staff has been in my experience the most important factor. You need quantity to divide the most risk kids into the right groups and the staffing ratio of 8:1; 6:1 and 2.6:1 is spot on. Good job Legislature. There needs to be a mix of experience. If you don’t have enough teachers with experience in Learning Disabilities- then you can’t do squat EVEN if it is in the IEP. If the staff that is required is not there and the staff experience is not there- then you can’t get the gains you need.

        Qualified staff, like myself can mentor a few younger teachers and we need mentors and thought partners ourselves. I called a psychologist or a co-worker from Edison for help- ALL THE TIME when I could not figure out how to help a kid and she was above the trees mentoring and support and I passed along things that worked to the younger newer teachers.

        So when monitoring comes, they walk in- open the drawer- see if the IEP’s look exactly they way they are supposed to look with a goal to subtract with zeros’ last an entire year instead of a week and you get an “A” on your report card – that is why we have so many kids entering High School that can’t subtract with zero, can’t set up division; can’t add two fractions with uncommon denominators and can’t write a 7 word sentence but they have beautiful IEP’s.

        We need to monitor the staff ratio to students seriously below grade level; monitor staff experience and whether they attended a high quality school and took education classes or just passed a few tests or took a summer boot camp ( yea- for Teacher Education Programs at places like UD) and make sure the mix is appropriate for solid mentoring; monitor the resources and multi-sensory and other accommodations to see if they really HAVE a CALCULATOR or assistive technology device AND NOT JUST MONITOR THAT WE WROTE ABOUT IT IN THE IEP.

        Let’s monitor every school and ask every SPECIAL ED TEACHER “how many students are on your case load and do you have the resources and space you need and by the way do you have a “thought partner” that is willing to help you without making you feel like a dummy- SHOW ME THAT MONITORING AND THEN WE CAN GET SOME REAL THINGS FIXED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  4. One more thing- you can tell I am on a roll. One of my biggest faults, and I have many, is that I don’t listen to anyone except and authorative source. It drove my mother crazy. If I read something that makes no sense- like the IEP goals- then I have to see that the higher up says until I get to the top. My favorite place to go for the top information are the Friendly Dear Colleague letters our IDEA friends write from Pennsylvania Ave. If they write it from Pennsylvania Ave- then I have to listen until we get a new president.

    Click to access guidance-on-fape-11-17-2015.pdf

    So this latest memo is pretty clear that we have no choice when writing IEP goals We have to use the Grade Level Standard and then figure out what we can do to make this accessible for the child. I am not sure what you did all day, but I studied the Grade Level Standards and the content in 9th grade math and started drilling down on what skills our kids need to access this- but to write it all up in a meaningful way so the parents don’t feel intimidated and my goals reflect the spirit of this memo.

    After all – I am the dummy from that darn Met with all those dumb teachers and criminal kids lighting the place on fire- setting hair on fire- firing rounds of bullets into the walls of the MBNA building…..in between the fires and riots- we are concerned with our math achievement.

    Join the challenge. I will paste in the scope and sequence of third chapter of 9th grade math- which is at a minimum where our kids should be- and then paste in my notes on the teacher created assessments and I would like you and all your IDEA IEP experts to write some appropriate goals for me- that are reasonable- reflect the spirit of the November 15th memo, reflect the students’ current level and achievable in a year, etc. etc.

    This is what is covered in Chapter 3 of 9th grade math: This is one chapter……

    Chapter 3: Linear Functions

    Lesson 3-1 : Finding slope using coordinates

    Lesson 3-1 : Finding slope using rise/run

    Lesson 3-1 : Finding the rate of change using a graph

    Lesson 3-1 : Finding the rate of change using a table

    Lesson 3-1 : Finding the slope of horizontal or vertical lines

    Lesson 3-2 : Using a direct variation to describe a situation

    Lesson 3-2 : Using a proportion as an equation of direct variation

    Lesson 3-2 : Using a proportion to solve a direct variation problem

    Lesson 3-3 : Graphing a linear equation using slope-intercept form

    Lesson 3-3 : Writing an equation from a graph

    Lesson 3-3 : Writing an equation given the slope/y-intercept

    Lesson 3-4 : Analyzing Linear Graphs

    Lesson 3-4 : Graphing linear equations using point-slope form

    Lesson 3-4 : Writing a linear equation using a table

    Lesson 3-4 : Writing an equation in point-slope form from a graph

    Lesson 3-4 : Writing an equation in point-slope form using a point and the slope

    Lesson 3-5 : Finding the x- and y-intercepts from an equation in standard form

    Lesson 3-5 : Graphing linear equations using intercepts

    Lesson 3-5 : Modeling real world situations using linear equations

    Lesson 3-6 : Determining whether lines are parallel

    Lesson 3-6 : Determining whether lines are perpendicular

    Lesson 3-6 : Writing equations of parallel lines

    Lesson 3-6 : Writing equations of perpendicular lines

    Lesson 3-7 : Graphing a horizontal translation of an absolute value equation

    Lesson 3-7 : Graphing a vertical translation of an absolute value equation

    Lesson 3-7 : Writing an equation for the horizontal translation of absolute value equation

    Lesson 3-7 : Writing an equation for the vertical translation of absolute value equation

    This is a sample of the current levels of the 9th grade students: This is student one

    10 out of 10 for subtracting multiples of ten ( Given ten teacher created problems based on the common core standards, Raequan was able to score 10 out of 10 problems subtracting multiples of ten. The problems required no borrowing: sample problem 70-60=10

    7 out of 7 incomplete/doesn’t know some subtracting across zero ( Given seven teacher created assessment based on the common core standards Kalif was able to solve 0 of seven problems correctly.)

    4 out of 4 incomplete on subtracting across zero/doesn’t know ( Given instructions to self select ten problems subtracting across zero, “Flame” aka Murphy was able to solve 0 out of the four problems he attempted. He only attempted 4 and gave up when given instructions to solve 10)

    doesn’t know creating equations from arrays

    4 out of 8 on multiplication/doesn’t know

    doesn’t know multiplication properties

    did half of expressions with addition and subtraction

    did not do equations

    did not do expressions with multiplication and division

    did not order of operations

    did not do adding and subtracting negative numbers and mixed numbers

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  5. Sue is making some sense Kevin. The IEP task force is NOT all that it is cracked up to be. Some parents out there are just down right crazy. Some of us who are both parents and work in special education know what we speak of….please listen!!!

    Like

    • wowswers – Newark Mom – I wish I could get you some truffles. Thanks- I want more Spec Ed teachers to feel free to Blog and tell me about how they really feel about writing IEP goals and staying out of trouble.

      They have to know, Kevin, that you won’t out them. Kevin, how can you convince folks that you will not out them? Can they use my dead mother’s yahoo email address.

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