The Arne Grinch Who Stole Christmas And Promised To Punish School-Ville

ArneGrinch

US DOE Promises Funding Cuts To States Who Miss Participation Rates Two Years In A Row, Contact President Obama Now!

In a letter sent to all states in America, the United States Department of Education is pulling the lever towards federal funding cuts to states who have participation rates below 95% on state assessments two years in a row.

If a State with participation rates below 95% in the 2014−2015 school year fails to assess at least 95% of
its students on the statewide assessment in the 2015−2016 school year, ED will take one or more of the
following actions: (1) withhold Title I, Part A State administrative funds; (2) place the State’s Title I,
Part A grant on high-risk status and direct the State to use a portion of its Title I State administrative
funds to address low participation rates; or (3) withhold or redirect Title VI State assessment funds.

Yes, they are actually doing it.  I would go with option number 3 for Delaware.  We don’t want your stupid state assessment funds.  Go ahead.  I dare you to do this US DOE.  You are nothing but bullies, flexing your muscles in direct opposition to parental rights.  You are complete idiots if you think parents are going to take this lying down.  We challenge you.  Miss Ann Whalen, “delegated the authority to perform the functions and duties of Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education”.  Who gave you this authority?  The departing Arne Duncan or the incoming John King?  You still don’t get it, do you?  Schools cannot and should not be punished for parents exercising their God-given, fundamental and constitutional rights for their children when it comes to education.  Yes, all schools are required to make sure students participate in the test.  That means the schools can’t tell parents to opt out.  There is nothing in your insane, ridiculous, mind-boggling, hateful, punitive, and disrespectful law about parents exercising their rights.  You are twisting the knife in public education.  America is tired of your high-stakes assessments meant to punish schools and feed the wallets of corporate education reformers.  You have sold your soul to Wall Street. 

President Obama, you are a lame-duck.  Are you really going to have this be your education legacy?  Choosing business over children?  Cutting funds to schools where standardized testing doesn’t mean a damn thing to students whose lives have not improved under your presidency?  You disrespect parents.  You disrespect minorities.  You disrespect students with disabilities.  You disrespect teachers.  You disrespect schools.  You disrespect state rights.  You disrespect those in low-income or poverty.  I disrespect you if this is really the route you want to take.  If this is something you are okay with, if this is something you allow, you should be prepared to take the heat for it.  I invite every single parent of a child in public school in America to call you now, until this mandate is GONE, and voice their vehement opposition to this totalitarian rule from the federal government on education.  Call today.  The phone number for the White House is 202-456-1111.  You can email President Obama here: https://www.whitehouse.gov/contact and tweet him at @WhiteHouse or you can comment on every single article the White House puts out here: https://www.facebook.com/WhiteHouse/timelineTell the President your child is not his child.  Your child is not the property of the United States Department of Education.  Tell him your child is YOUR CHILD.  And you know what is best for them in determining YOUR CHILD’S education. 

To read the US DOE’s ultimate bully letter to the states, please see below:

Parent Opt-Out Veto Override Rally 1/14/16, I Know What You Have Been Up To Governor Markell

The Delaware PTA is hosting a parent rally at Legislative Hall in Dover on January 14th, at 2pm.  This event is changed from January 12th.  Please make every effort to attend: parents, students, citizens, teachers, administrators, superintendents, charter heads, and anyone else you can think of.  The latest bomb from the US DOE about opt-out is a slap in the face of every single parent of a child in public school America.  We need to make this standardized high-stakes testing madness stop.  Take off work that day, bring your kids, and support the God-given, fundamental and constitutional rights of parents.  This is YOUR moment.  Do not let it pass.  For school employees, bring the students on a field trip that day and show them how democracy in America works best.  This is about parents rights, pure and simple.  This is not a civil rights issue.  If anything, the Smarter Balanced Assessment has proven how disgusting and vile one test can cause illusions and perceptions about students who have the most needs for instruction.  And if you are the parent of a brilliant child who did great on the test, that is excellent.  Your child is going to be brilliant either way and doesn’t need this money-wasting time-consuming test to tell you what you already know.

I’VE HEARD FROM SEVERAL FOLKS THAT GOVERNOR MARKELL IS CALLING ALL OF THE HOUSE REPS AND ASKING FOR THEIR SUPPORT IN NOT VOTING YES TO THE OVERRIDE OF HOUSE BILL 50.  While everyone who told me this asked me not to share it, and I pretended with each one this was the first time I heard it, it is far too many for my comfort zone.  Jack Markell is telling legislators about how it would be so disrespectful to his office if they override HIS veto.  Sorry Jack, this is not YOUR bill.  This is not YOUR decision.  Our legislators sided with parents over your diabolically insane testing mentality.  You are a bully.  You do not care about parents.  How many of your children took the Smarter Balanced Assessment?  We both know the answer to that one!

FOR OUR DELAWARE LEGISLATORS: If you vote no to the veto, you are nothing more than a bully.  You are a pawn of Governor Markell and you care more about disrespecting one already disrespectful person than thousands of your constituents.  You serve Delaware.  The People of Delaware.  Not Jack Alan Markell.  The people.  A no vote on the veto could very well cost you your re-election if you are up again next year.  And if you aren’t running or don’t face the ballot until a later date, good luck getting any support from the thousands of Delaware parents who have been spit on, disrespected, bullied and intimidated.  I know for a fact some of you have already given your support to Jack on this issue.  I would think long and hard about that costly mistake if I were you.  Republicans and Democrats alike.  This is not the time for you to lend support to a failed Governor on education.  Seven out of twelve states who received the latest US DOE threat letter were Smarter Balanced Assessment states.  Do more than override the veto. Get rid of Smarter Balanced, and come up with a meaningful and productive assessment for our students without all the strings attached.  We don’t need to hire outside consultants and companies to do this.  We don’t need to spend tens of millions of dollars to do this.  We have the teachers and educators in our very own state to come up with something better for our children.  And as for you John Carney, you need to get your head out of the clouds and oppose Markell’s bullying tactics.  Loudly and clearly.  Stop being quiet on everything and just assuming you are a shoe-in on Election Day.  That is weak and tiring, and Delaware deserves better than that.

FOR GOVERNOR MARKELL: Do you hear that?  That is the sound of parents becoming more important than you.  That is the sound of the legislators in your state supporting those same parents and honoring their rights.  It rang like a bell on June 25th when the Delaware Senate cleared the final passage of House Bill 50, and it will ring again when they override your veto.  This is your legacy.  This is your thumbprint on Delaware: causing parents to rise in opposition to a tyrannical eight years of you.  We are done with you.  We are casting you aside and praying the next one is infinitely better.  For all the talk you had about education, you are no better than a school yard bully taunting those you believe are weaker than you.  We are stronger than you and we will show you once and for all how much stronger we are.  We know you taunt and tease our legislators with threats about not supporting this bill or that bill, or how you use your executive power to make promises when it comes to the budget.  We know you allowed Rodel to use their influence so you could hand-pick your leaders in the Delaware DOE and your unelected members of the State Board of Education.  We know which legislators are in your pocket.  No more.  Your power is waning and you know it.  Instead of succumbing to the will of the people you actually think exerting more power will make people listen.  No.  You are done.

As a state, we need to STOP making every single education decision that is surrounded by the measurements of standardized assessments.  The Wilmington Education Improvement Commission is doing it.  Our schools do it.  Our DOE certainly does it.  Our businesses aligned with Markell and Rodel do it.  Enough.  What about YOUR child.  What about their INDIVIDUAL rights?  Do they mean anything anymore?

US DOE’s Threat Letter To Delaware DOE About Opt-Out Is Ridiculous

The United States Department of Education sent letters to 12 states about issues with lower participation rates for either all students or sub-groups of students on the state assessment.  Delaware’s letter, from the US DOE Director of State Support Dr. Monique Chism, has all the intimidating and bullying language we have grown to expect from these federal intrusionists.  So much for the Every Student Succeeds Act and the clause about states determining how to handle participation rates.  The US DOE has learned nothing about standing up on the bully pulpit and telling states what to do.

So what bully lingo do we see in this letter about Delaware not meeting the 95% participation rate for English Language Learners and high school students?  The biggest “threat” is turning a school that has multiple years of low participation rates into a priority or focus school.  There are the usual funding cut threats.  But Delaware already addressed this in their last ESEA Flexibility Waiver edit sent to the US DOE on November 30th.  You know, the one where they have the participation rate multiplied against a school’s participation rate.  The one that nobody but the DOE, Godowsky, State Board of Education, Rodel, and the Governor’s Advisory Council for Exceptional Citizens wanted.  DSEA, Delaware PTA, district and charter superintendents and heads of school opposed it.  Parents opposed it.

The timing on this couldn’t be better.  As the Smarter Balanced season begins next year, opt-out will become a huge conversation.  Our legislators have an awesome responsibility to override Governor Markell’s parent disrespecting veto of House Bill 50.  This final vote from the legislators over this issue will decide once and for all who they stand with: a departing Governor’s absolutely horrible education legacy or the constituents who elect them.  The Delaware DOE is probably emailing this letter to every single legislator as we speak.  But guess what?  I am calling the US DOE’s bluff.  Let them try to cut funding.  Let them try to interfere with a parent’s God-given, fundamental and constitutional rights to dictate the best interests of their children.  We will fight them all the way to the United States Supreme Court if need be.

Every single parent of a public school student in Delaware needs to make a choice for their child if they haven’t already: do they continue to let corporate education reform allow our children to be in huge classes with little funding going to support and resources in favor of a once-a-year test that dictates everything about their child, teachers, and school?  Do they allow our Governor, DOE, State Board, Secretary and the US DOE continue to take away local control from our schools and spend our taxpayer dollars on tests that do not give immediate feedback, do not impact the level of instruction an individual student receives and actually tramples the civil rights of every single sub-group of students in our state?  These are the questions parents need to ask.  Parents can and have made a difference, and their voices are growing stronger every single day.  Say no to the US DOE.  Say no to Governor Markell.  Say yes to your child.

16 To Watch In 2016: State Senator Colin Bonini

ColinBonini

For the past six months, I have heard the entire state of Delaware talk about how John Carney is the heir apparent to the Governor’s mansion.  Because he is a Democrat.  Because he should have become the Governor in 2008.  On the Republican side, the leading contender is State Senator Colin Bonini.  For the past 21 years, Bonini has been a Delaware State Senator, winning every election.  He did run for State Treasurer in 2010, but lost to Democrat Chip Flowers.

Bonini will definitely be one to watch in the coming year.  Many Delawareans are not happy with the “one-party rule” that has existed in the First State for many years.  With education a complete mess, a looming budget deficit, and a general feeling of unhappiness with our state government, it may just be a time that is ripe for change.  There have been no Republican governors in Delaware since 1993.  Many feel that John Carney will just be “Jack Markell light”.

Bonini has been preparing for the election drumming up support from many different areas of the state.  As recently as December 1st, Bonini sent a letter to the leadership of the Delaware House of Representatives and Senate to request the creation of a standing Civil Rights committee in the Delaware General Assembly.  I think this is an excellent idea!

boninicivilrights

In terms of voting history on crucial education matters, Bonini voted yes on the very controversial charter school bill, House Bill 165 and yes on the equally controversial Senate Bill 51, concerning teacher educator licensure.  On the flip side though, Bonini voted no on the Smarter Balanced Assessment bill, House Bill 334, and voted yes for House Bill 50, the parent opt-out legislation Governor Markell vetoed last summer.  His primary opponent, John Carney, voted yes for the Every Student Succeeds Act.  Last summer, Carney voted no for an opt-out bill introduced earlier in the year.  I think it would be foolhardy for everyone to assume Carney has this in the bag.  While Carney has been strolling around the corridors of Washington D.C., Bonini has been in the first state tackling a lot of the issues.  His loss to Flowers in 2010 was very narrow, with Flowers carrying 51% of the vote for State Treasurer.

Both candidates need to speak openly and candidly about education in Delaware.  This conversation needs to start now.

 

Kuumba Academy Blasts State Auditor Over Findings From Investigation

A few months ago, the Delaware Auditor of Accounts found some red flags with Kuumba Academy in regards to misuse of financial funds with their overpayments to their Head of School, Assistant Head of School, and their Custodian.  There wasn’t much that came of it, but upon looking at Kuumba’s October board minutes, I found a very interesting section dealing with this audit.

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Raye Jones Avery is the Vice-President of Governance for the board, Sally Maldonado is the Head of School, and Ken Brown is the Vice-President of Facilities for the board.  What is so suspicious about the “timing and tone of the report”?  Given the splurges at Family Foundations Academy and Academy of Dover, it would stand to reason the State Auditor would want to look at charter school spending of procurement cards.  I’m not sure what the DSCN is, but I am assuming it was a misspelling of the Delaware Charter Schools Network based on a Google search and seeing several others misspell this abbreviation.  This non-profit vehemently opposed Delaware State Rep. Kim Williams charter school audit legislation, House Bill 186.  As well, even if the findings were “out of scope”, of course the auditor’s office is going to do a “scope” around the school’s finances given what has gone on at several Delaware charters.  I love the arrogance of some of these charter leaders and board members.  They will do anything to escape accountability!  They make it seem like this was all some witch hunt.  The Auditor’s office found something, and it wasn’t good.  Instead of taking your lumps, especially the Head of School who seems to have escaped unscathed from all this, they sit around at a board meeting talking about it.  In sharp contrast to this was Providence Creek Academy, who proactively found an issue, reported it to the Auditor’s office, and fixed the problem so it wouldn’t happen again!

And I apologize if I am going “out of scope” on this article, but I couldn’t help but notice the Teach For America and Relay Graduate School love going on at this school in the very same board minutes…

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I have to say it is very sad when I see a school debating which teachers are better, TFA or Relay.  I will just leave it at that…

The Exceptional Delaware 2015 Photo Album

Governor Markell, Kevin Ohlandt and Jacob Ohlandt, 5/14/15

2015.  It is almost over.  Before we go, I wanted to take a look back at the visuals of the past year that have graced this blog and other sites as well.  Yes, many of these pictures have not been seen by everyone who comes here.  I searched high and low for some of these shots.  In my opinion, many of these pictures give an accurate feel for many of the important topics covered on this blog in 2015.  There is an index at the end of the photo album for those who are wondering who some of these people are!  It is all here: Priority Schools, Opt-Out, Mark Murphy, House Bill 50, State Reps and State Senators, WEIC, Delaware DOE, State Board of Education, Teachers, Superintendents and more!  You never know who may show up in the below album.  It could be YOU… Continue reading The Exceptional Delaware 2015 Photo Album