This was originally on the Delaware blog Children & Educators First yesterday:
Earlier this week, C&E 1st posed the question: What’s Lindsey O’Mara got to do with it? Regarding the WEIC Commission, the State Board of Education, Priority Plans, and the Christina School District.
To get to the answer, I’ve scribed together several posts from Exceptional Delaware by Kevin Ohlandt. I give full credit to Kevin for ferreting out and documenting meeting after meeting related to the Gov and all his pawns. What I have tried to do is give the reader a sense that not one event is singular to the WEIC drama, not one event is special, and not one is organic. These meetings, who had what info, who stumbled, this was all pre-ordained by our self-aggrandizing Gov. Markell and his entitled political hacks. Here’s your answer: The Deal – https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/tag/the-deal/
According to Fred Polaski, the Christina Board of Education President, he and Superintendent Freeman Williams met with Lindsey O’Mara, the education advisor for Governor Markell, in hashing out an agreement over the three priority schools in their district. The Delaware Department of Education was there at the beginning of the meeting, and left soon after. More details as they emerge… I’m not sure if this was at this meeting, before, or after, but apparently DOE Officer of Accountability Penny Schwinn told Christina she already has three assistant principals already in mind for the three priority schools during the “transition”. The Christina Board is getting ready to vote on the decision to follow this plan, developed not by Christina and the DOE, but Christina and Governor Markell’s office. The Christina Board passed the Markell/DOE plan (still waiting to find out whose plan it was), by a 4-1-2 vote. For those keeping track, the yes votes belonged to John Young, Elizabeth Paige, David Ressler and Fred Polaski. Harrie Minnehan voted no, and George Evans and Shirley Saffer abstained. The board also voted unanimously for a second referendum on May 27th.
This was buried in a blogpost last March on ExceptionalDelaware – a post that garnered no comments (rare!) However, this meeting has a far reaching impact. Let’s start with the attendees – O’Mara, representing the Governor, Penny Schwinn, on behalf of DOE, Superintendent Williams and Board Member Fred Polaski, for the Christina School District. Notably, Coach Murphy was absent. It’s been rumored that the Gov. ordered Murphy to stand down and lay low. You can find the plans that this covert team hammered out here:
The official Smarter Balanced Assessment Year 2 window opens up on March 9th. While this doesn’t mean every single student in every single grade will start the Smarter Balanced that day, I would highly recommend opting your child out of the test prior to that. Just write a letter indicating you don’t want your child taking the test and you wish for them to receive academic instruction while their peers are taking it. Make a copy, give it to the principal or head of school, have a witness with you, and be proud of your decision. It is that easy.
As opposed to your child sitting for days on end taking a test that truly has no bearing on his or her unique capabilities and academic strengths or weaknesses. It is a flawed test meant for the sole purpose of giving the government and non-profits data about your child. The algorithms built into the test allow for that data to pass freely into the federal governments hands. Your child is now part of a tracking system that will allow the government and companies to determine what kind of “career path” your child will embark on. And the rest of their elementary or secondary education will be spent guiding them towards that path.
Remember those personality tests or career path tests you may have taken years ago? And then you take it a few days later and your answers may be different? You could go from being a lawyer to an accountant based on a couple different answers. But imagine if you weren’t able to give a different answer? And the rest of your life went by what answers you gave when you were in 3rd grade? That is the future of high-stakes assessment. They may get rid of the false labeling of schools and teachers. They may even shorten the test, or even break it up into smaller segments embedded into personalized learning modules brought to you by Schoology. Your child’s data is going out from those systems as well. And our state’s highest officials know this. Our Governor knows this. And guess what? They don’t care.
If you want to feed the beast, then let your child take the test. If you think, “Hey, it’s the 21st Century. It’s about time our schools become more technologically advanced. Who cares about data,” then let your child take the test. If you do care about these things, opt your child out now. Do you remember what you wanted to be when you were 8 years old? Or even 11 years old? Or even 15? Are you what you thought you would be? I imagine the answer is no. So why would you let the government decide what your child should be? Opt-out now. Do it today. Your child’s future DOES depend on it.
Until our legislators craft a law indicating absolutely NO data goes out from these computer systems and programs, including the very computer code that captures and sends out this data, opt your child out of anything done on a computer at a school. If they have to do research, let them do it from home. This is a major change and the schools will pitch a fit. Ask to see your child’s data file. Chances are they won’t be able to provide it. Ask the state. FOIA the information if they say no or can’t do it. Do not stop until you are able to track down every kilobyte of data that has left school computers and into the welcome hands of the state and federal government and the companies they serve. Schools don’t own your child. The government doesn’t either. Nobody does. They are your child, and you have been given a mission on this earth to protect them from harm. This is harmful, and disturbing, and toxic. Protect your child.