Delaware Senator David Sokola Supports The Christina Referendum

I was just asking someone minutes before I saw this, “Where is the legislator support for the referendum?”  And then, by the whims of fate, this appeared in my Facebook newsfeed.  Thank you Senator Sokola, for supporting our students in Delaware.  I always took you for a charter guy, but I’m happy to see you publicly support ALL Delaware students…

SokolaReferendumLetter

First Governor Markell, and now Senator Sokola. I have to ask: what’s next? Markell reversing his veto on House Bill 50? The Delaware Charter School Network’s Kendall Massett releasing a video supporting the referendum? State Rep. Earl Jaques having a picnic for parents? Is it a full moon? But seriously Senator Sokola, thank you for your letter. I know I give you a hard time a lot, but it is all for transparency!

John Young: 500 Words To Support The Christina Referendum

CSDPavingTheWay

Former Delaware blogger and long-time Christina School District Board of Education member John Young asked me to share his thoughts on the Christina referendum taking place tomorrow.  I’ve written a bit about the fallacies of the opposing side of the referendum, but it is equally important to share why voters should say yes tomorrow:

Christina Referendum: This tax is an investment, not an expense.

500 words. Seems like a short way to communicate such a long story. Wednesday, our district will be seeking an operating tax referendum. I cannot overstate the importance of winning this tax increase. Our students, who come from all over New Castle County, like all students, deserve the very best. Of that, I am sure I would find very little resistance. Our district last passed a referendum in 2010 and in the 6 years since, many of our operational costs have risen: supplies, energy, and transportation: all outside of our classrooms. Our teachers have maintained their amazing professionalism despite no meaningful increases whatsoever. Our principals? The same. Our district administration: far fewer than in 2010. Supplies: a daily fight it seems. We have leaned out as the purchasing power of the monies from the 2010 referendum have diminished.

It has been a meaningful 6 years. Christina has been involved in a few scrapes with the state and has recently established a board policy supporting our parents in the arena of having control of statewide testing for their students while protecting our students from school closures and Education Management Organizations that the Delaware Department of Education was openly advocating for in 2010, 2011, 2014, and 2015.

On the other side of all the adult battles and state based concerns is the one constant that never changes: our students. They are the ones we seek to serve. We have plans to improve their experience with a successful referendum: school climate, academic programs, and innovative school choices will all receive an introduction of intellectual energy that will be married to what the community seeks in its schools. I am committed to ensure that all the promises of this successful referendum are faithfully executed. As an elected board member, I will hold the district publicly accountable in public settings for honoring the directions proposed in this referendum. Our students must not suffer another round of devastating cuts that we were forced to impose after losing our referendum attempts last year.

On that score: Christina owes you more: more choice, more achievement, more opportunities, more community, more value, more diversity, and most of all: more transparency across all of those domains. Christina students are amazing. Let’s show them how much we value them and their one shot at an education. Let’s demonstrate that we, as a community, understand that public education is a sacrosanct American institution, controlled locally by virtue of our Constitution’s fierce 10th Amendment. Let’s support that local responsibility with a local investment.

I promise to continue to deploy all available and necessary energy to protecting the institution of our local public schools, and with your help, improve them. This is not a plea to remind you of the possible ramifications of a Christina loss, this is a call to encourage you to do what those before you did FOR you: support our students.

Whew! Four hundred and eighty-seven words.

Here’s ten more: Please vote Yes on the Christina Referendum on March 23rd.

John M. Young
Christina School Board

Family Foundation’s Board Pays An Invoice With A HUGE Conflict Of Interest

In the January minutes for the Family Foundations Academy Board of Directors, a notation was made about Chairman Charles McDowell having the board approve an invoice by for a report that was done.  The invoice was provided by the Executive Director for both Family Foundations Academy and EastSide Charter School.  The invoice, for $10,500.00, was for a report on an Early Learning Academy study.  The board approved the payment.  The minutes went on to talk about the feasibility of having an Early Learning Academy in New Castle, DE.  Continue reading Family Foundation’s Board Pays An Invoice With A HUGE Conflict Of Interest

Christina Referendum Haters Using Donald Trump’s Playbook & Christina Releases Markell Support Video

EricBoye

Donald Trump’s unfathomable success has been due to playing on the fears and worries of disenfranchised voters.  I see the same thing with First State Liberty’s overzealous attacks on the Christina School District referendum taking place on March 23rd.  It is becoming more than obvious there is more than meets the eye with First State Liberty.  Meanwhile, none other than Governor Jack Alan Markell did a video for the district which supports the referendum and urges voters to say yes on Wednesday.

There are a multitude of things I don’t agree with Governor Markell about on education.  But there are two things I think we can draw agreement on: support for the Christina referendum and we both oppose school vouchers.  I think most can agree the whole referendum process stinks.  But until there is another method or funding mechanism for our schools in Delaware, voting no on a referendum hurts children most of all.   As I just said to someone on Facebook in regards to the mindset of First State Liberty: “We know the ship is going to sink.  Instead of plugging the hole, we’re going to shoot a cannonball into it so it sinks faster.”  If a district doesn’t pass a referendum when they really need the funds, it will have a downward spiral that comes down to each and every student in the district.

The referendum opposers are getting robo-calls and emails from a right-wing group called First State Liberty.  I wrote an article about them the other day.  Who is supporting them?  The Delaware blogger Kavips did some digging last week and found out who was backing the robo-calls.  Many of the leaders of these organizations put their children in private schools.  They resent the fact they pay tuition for their children and pay school taxes.  They seem to forget that all citizens pay this.  They want voucher programs which have failed miserably in many states.  In Delaware, State Rep. Deb Hudson has tried to get voucher legislation through, but it doesn’t get past the bill filing.

When pushed to respond to requests to come to Citizens Budget Oversight Committee meetings in Christina, the front people behind First State Liberty don’t even respond to the invitation.  They come out once a year before these referendums and act like it is The Day After Tomorrow if a referendum passes.  They forget children are involved in their schemes and agendas and don’t care if students are affected the most by the damage they do.  They like to tout the Revolutionary War as their greatest inspiration.  They don’t realize the differences between the people from 240 years ago and what is going on in the present.  They will say and do anything to advance their agenda.  They lure people into their fold and they spout lies and untruths.  Then they get their followers to do the same.  It is a sad and pathetic situation.

Do I think our school districts could do a better job?  Absolutely.  They all play the absurd “Delaware Way” game where parties must compromise.  They just want a seat at the table without realizing they are on the table.  The compromises result in districts being forced to shell out more money for services to properly educate children based on state mandates.  What First State Liberty should take a more active role in is this conundrum.  Instead, they want to target children and their classrooms.  Forget everything they say about “administrative costs” and “spending per pupil”.  Their theories are debunked on a daily basis anymore.

I’ve said it before, when children lose, we all lose.  Even Governor Markell understands this simple fact.  Why can’t First State Liberty, who could be doing so much more in Delaware, get this concept?  Why do they target school districts but do absolutely nothing about the even bigger problem?  Do they have the political muscle to do more than bully referendum voters?  Of course, no one from their outfit will respond with intelligent answers on these issues.  When challenged, they delete information from supporters or just ignore it.  Why are they so hell-bent on destroying school districts?  Is it because their kids aren’t in public education and they don’t care what happens to other families kids?  I will fully admit, my son is in private school but I would still vote yes for this referendum if I lived in the Christina School District.  It’s about the kids, not your wallets.  Playing on the fears of unsuspecting citizens and giving false information while doing so is not only disingenuous, but bad form.

Lest we forget, this is the same outfit that thought it was okay to bring guns to Newark City Council meetings.  This is the same outfit that some right-wing groups really don’t want to be associated with.  But when it comes to referendums, it is okay for their hate and fear mongering?  Wake up Delaware citizens.  Don’t buy their hate-filled propaganda and smear campaigns.  They aren’t in it for you, they are in it for themselves.  I have some conservative ideals myself, but there is an ocean of difference between conservative ideals and this.  Shame on you First State Liberty…

 

Breaking News: ESEA To Continue For “Several Years” Even With Implementation Of ESSA

Yesterday, I broke the  news that the Delaware Department of Education was going to be submitting another ESEA waiver.  Even though the Every Student Succeeds Act forbids these waiver schemes.  I reached out to the Delaware DOE for more information on this latest waiver, and received the following information from Alison May, the Public Information Officer at the DOE.  Below is what Alison sent me, including the letter Ann Whalen sent to all the states, along with the letter states would need to sign to get the waiver.  Note the part I bolded which extends ESEA waivers well after ESSA will be implemented.  There are serious games afoot here.  Is John King already abusing his authority?  Will Congressman John Kline (MN) intervene and stop this dead in its tracks?

Meanwhile, like with all previous ESEA flexibility waivers, state education agencies are required to get public comment on the waivers.  With three weeks time, how can this happen?  Some district boards don’t meet again until after the April 15th deadline.  Don’t they also have to submit any ESEA waivers to the Delaware Education Support System (DESS) advisory council?  How could that happen, as required by Delaware law, if the meeting scheduled for this week is canceled and no meetings are scheduled between now and April 22nd?

DESSMeetingCanceled

We are already losing a week due to Easter/Spring break.  As well, the Delaware General Assembly will be off for two weeks after this week.  How is the Delaware DOE going to make sure everyone sees this?  Or is just merely putting a notice up, hidden away on their website, or sending out a tweet, sufficient?  Thank God I find these things when I do!  This is the same kind of non-transparent information they put out there like the Accountability Framework Working Group last year.  They count on folks not looking for or even knowing where to find this information.  Too bad they didn’t count on me!

If the Delaware DOE’s deadline is April 15th, and this information is due to US DOE on April 22nd, does this mean the State Board of Education will put it up as an action item at their April 21st meeting?  Will they allow public comment on an action item which they typically don’t due to their archaic rules?

FW: FW: Letter from Senior Advisor Whalen re: Speaking and Listening Waiver People 

Attachments

  • Speaking and Listening Waiver Request Template.docx

 Per your request, please see below and attached. This guidance also is posted on USED’s website.
Alison
From: Honeysett, Adam [mailto:Adam.Honeysett@ed.gov]
Sent: Wednesday, March 02, 2016 9:17 AM
Subject: Letter from Senior Advisor Whalen re: Speaking and Listening Waiver

EXAMPLE OF REQUEST TO WAIVE THE SPEAKING AND LISTENING REQUIREMENT UNDER THE EVERY STUDENT SUCCEEDS ACT (ESSA)

Ann Whalen

Senior Advisor to the Secretary

Delegated the Duties of Assistant

Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education

Office of Elementary and Secondary Education

U.S. Department of Education

400 Maryland Avenue, SW

Washington, DC 20202

 

Dear Ms. Whalen:

I am writing to request a waiver, pursuant to section 8401(b) of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), of section 1111(b)(3)(C)(ii) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB), that [State]’s assessment system measure the full range of the State’s academic content standards. [State] requests this waiver only with respect to measuring the State’s speaking and listening content standards, which are part of the State’s reading/language arts academic content standards.  [State] requests this waiver because it is not practicable at this time for [State] to administer a large-scale summative assessment that includes speaking and listening standards.  This waiver will advance student achievement by permitting [State] to have a valid and reliable assessment system that measures the full range of the rest of the State’s academic content standards while providing time to complete the work necessary to have a valid and reliable measure of speaking and listening content standards.

[State] requests this waiver to allow for continued State and local receipt of Title I, Part A funding in good standing while [State] completes additional work to develop accurate, valid, reliable, and instructionally useful assessments related to speaking and listening. This waiver is requested for the 2015-2016 school year [(if requesting) through the 2016-2017 school year].  [State] assures that, if it is granted the requested waiver —

  • It will continue to meet all other requirements of section 1111(b)(3) of the ESEA, as amended by NCLB, and implementing regulations with respect to all State-determined academic content standards and assessments, including reporting student achievement and school performance, disaggregated by subgroups, to parents and the public.
  • It will continue to work toward assessing speaking and listening consistent with the State’s academic content standards.

 

Prior to submitting this waiver request, [State] provided all LEAs in the State with notice and a reasonable opportunity to comment on this request. [State] provided such notice by [insert description of notice, e.g., sending a letter to each LEA on [date] or sending an email to each LEA on [date]] (see copy of notice attached).  Copies of all comments that [State] received from LEAs in response to this notice are attached hereto.  [State] also provided notice and a reasonable opportunity to comment regarding this waiver request to the public in the manner in which [State] customarily provides such notice and opportunity to comment to the public [e.g., by publishing a notice of the waiver request in the following newspapers; by posting information regarding the waiver request on its website] (see attached copy of public notice).

Please feel free to contact me by phone or email at [contact information] if you have any questions regarding this request.  Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,