Cape Henlopen Wins Their Referendum! Congrats!

I can’t forget the third referendum that took place today.  Down in Sussex County, a wide majority of voters agreed for increased taxes for the Cape Henlopen School District.  While this referendum was under the radar in Delaware media, I am quite sure it was important to the folks down in this district.  Congratulations Cape Henlopen!

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Unofficial: Brandywine Loses Referendum

Across town, it was a different story for the Brandywine School District. While victory toasts are happening in Christina, Brandywine is not celebrating their loss.  With unofficial votes of 3,729 for and 3,892 against, Brandywine lost their referendum.  I have to wonder if Dr. Mark Holodick may have wanted some Governor Markell video support right about now.  Apparently voters in this district weren’t willing to have tax dollars increase for turf on their fields…
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Robo-Call This First State Liberty: Christina School District Wins Referendum!

As I watched the vote tallies coming in for the past hour, it looked like the “against” side was going to win the day. But as more schools reported numbers, the gap narrowed until the “for” side jumped ahead. And it kept staying that way. With over 13,000 voters, this referendum certainly came down to the finish line. It would be very hard to say what factored into the votes. Governor Markell’s video support or First State Liberty’s shady antics most likely swayed some voters either way. But at the end of the day, I would like to think it was concerned citizens voting for students that caused the victory. With an unofficial 6,770 for and 6,625 against, it came down to about 150 votes.

I would like to thank all those who voted yes. For those who voted no… I understand some of your motivations. But others, I will never be able to fathom. I’m talking to you FIRST STATE LIBERTY. Yeah, we know, you guys were just the front people for someone, but some of your tactics were a bit underhanded and we both know it. Don’t try denying it.

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Governor Markell & National PTA President To Take Part In “Testing Bill Of Rights” To Stop Opt Out

Here we go!  Right when high-stakes testing season is in full swing!  None other than Delaware Governor Jack “I disrespect parents” Markell will participate in a conference call along with National PTA President Laura “I stuck it to the Delaware PTA” Bay along with other civil rights representatives to call for a “Testing Bill Of Rights”.  I should have seen this one coming.  Is this part of the Governor’s official schedule as posted on his website?  Of course not.  This is sponsored by yet another think tank called the Center for American Progress.  So I must ask, which group that Markell is associated with is paying for this?  The National Governor’s Association?

 

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Testing Bill of Rights Launch Press Conference Call

 

What: Governor Markell will participate in the testing Bill of Rights Launch Press Call– Joined by Center for American Progress Vice President of Education Policy Catherine Brown, National Parent Teacher Association President Laura Bay, New York Urban League President Arva Rice, and Queens Collegiate Teacher Rhashida Abdul-Malik, the Governor will participate in the testing Bill of Rights Launch conference call for members of the media. The call will focus on the right of teachers, parents, and students to high-quality tests that accurately assess student learning and help teachers understand how to improve instruction.

Who:   Governor Markell

              National PTA President

Paul Fanuele, President-elect, School Administrators Association of New York

New York Urban League President Arva Rice

Queens Collegiate Teacher Rhashida Abdul-Malik

            
WhenThursday, March 24th at 10:30 a.m. 

DIAL-IN INFORMATION: For dial-in information, RSVP to Allison Preiss at the Center for American Progress at apreiss@americanprogress.org or 202.478.6331

I love how the Governor’s office didn’t even put National PTA President Laura Bay’s name on this.  I thought I should check this out on the Center for American Progress website, and this is what it said in their official press release which you can find on their website:

The Testing Bill of Rights aims to help move toward better, fairer, and fewer tests and reduce burden on students and educators.

Washington, D.C. — With standardized test season approaching across the United States, educators and civil rights and education groups—along with Delaware Governor Jack Markell—will hold a press call on Thursday to unveil a Testing Bill of Rights. The Testing Bill of Rights articulates a middle ground on standardized tests through which tests are in service of instruction, not the other way around. The Testing Bill of Rights aims to help move toward better, fairer, and fewer tests and reduce burden on students and educators.

The Testing Bill of Rights arrives when many parents and students have felt real frustration with school assessments. At the same time, the Every Student Succeeds Act, signed into law in December, retains the requirement that states test all students in reading and math in grades three through eight and once in high school. However, the law also greatly reduces the stakes of state tests for schools and teachers—creating an ideal opportunity for states and school districts to revisit their approaches to testing.

The Testing Bill of Rights is centered around the idea that tests should serve as a tool to identify areas of improvement in order to ensure that every child has an opportunity to be ready for college or the workforce, and to identify persistent learning gaps that have pervaded in some communities—including communities of color—for decades. Rather than opting out of such assessments altogether, the focus should be to ensure that all students and families get an accurate and honest assessment of their progress towards career and college readiness, while making sure that such tests are less burdensome for students and teachers, and are used as a tool to help students grow and improve.

WHAT:

Press call on the Testing Bill of Rights: The Case For Better, Fewer, and Fairer Tests

WHO:

  • Catherine Brown, Vice President for Education Policy, Center for American Progress
  • Jack Markell, Governor of Delaware
  • Laura Bay, President, National PTA
  • Arva Rice, President and CEO, New York Urban League
  • Paul Fanuele, President-elect, School Administrators Association of New York; Executive Principal of Arlington High School, LaGrangeville, New York
  • Rhashida Abdul-malik, Queens Collegiate, Teacher

WHEN:

Thursday, March 24, 2016 at 10:30 a.m. EST

DIAL-IN INFORMATION: For dial-in information, RSVP to Allison Preiss at apreiss@americanprogress.org or 202.478.6331.

###

 

In another words, these stewards of corporate education reform are saying “Don’t opt out!  You’re going to screw up the data!  The data is important.  We must have the data!!!!!!”  Governor Markell is THE most parent un-friendly Governor in our country.  And guess what, he will continually say opting out is a civil rights issue and it will put us back to the days when low-income and African-American communities were marginalized in society.  And yet the whole high-stakes testing enterprise is designed to do just that.  This guy will never learn.  This is a good sign though for opt out.  When parents start opting out, our Governor gets testy and starts doing lame things like this.  He is a sore loser and can’t stand anyone questioning his authority.  This is the same Jack who jumped over a candlestick and vetoed an opt out bill in Delaware honoring a parent’s right to opt their child out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  The bill passed with an overwhelming majority in the Delaware House and Senate last Spring.

As for National PTA President Laura Bay, this doesn’t really shock me.  This is the same woman who works as a testing coordinator in her school district and shamed the Delaware PTA into compliance over supporting opt out.  It’s not surprising that the Governor of high-stakes testing would hook up with the not-really-representing parents Queen of the PTA.  And then throw in a civil rights advocate, a head of an administrator association in New York, and a teacher from Queens, and you have Jack’s hand-picked “we love testing and screw the kids and parents” group.

We all know Jack Markell is in bed with corporate education reformers, hedge fund managers, the Gates Foundation, and all the rest.  It’s not a question of if he even likes opt out or not.  He can’t like it.  He is the front guy for a lot of companies and Wall Street investors, just itching for the upcoming personalized learning spree they are about to embark on.  And testing is a huge part of it.  It’s the string that binds the Common Core-career pathways-personalized learning-competency-based education quilt together.  It’s just a shame he can’t be the front guy for the people that matter the most: his constituents, those who voted for him (regrettably) and the children.

Who wants to start a real “Parents sticking up for their kids against bullies who should know better” Bill of Rights club?  Let me know!

Updated: I’ve just learned this was originally supposed to be some type of event in New York City and this think thank has been pushing this “testing bull of rights” nonsense for a while now.  It is now just a phone call.  I can only laugh and laugh and laugh…

Here are some pictures, one of the original event and the other for the cancellation:

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Governor Markell Signs “March for the Arts” Proclamation As New Arts Standards Are Approved By State Board of Education

The latest news release from the Delaware Department of Education covers the arts in Delaware schools.  Or more specifically, new “standards” for the arts.  Because in today’s society, we must standardize every single aspect.  I love the phrase “citizenship readiness”.  Does the DOE think all of the students in our schools are illegal immigrants?  Once you are born in the USA you are already a citizen.  Therefore, you don’t need to be “ready” to become what you already are.  More education “reformer” lingo, to go along with all of the other tired old words and phrases.

But I digress…

It looks like these arts standards were developed by those closely affiliated with the arts in Delaware, unlike the Common Core State Standards.  I will have to look more in-depth into these standards though.

Arts educators prepare to shift to new standards

Arts educators in public schools and in community and cultural institutions across Delaware will collaborate this summer to study the state’s new arts standards and begin aligning classroom instruction to the new standards.

The State Board of Education adopted the new, teacher-developed arts standards last week. They replace the standards that have been used to guide instruction in arts classrooms for the past 20 years for dance, media arts, music, theatre and visual arts.

Using a framework that includes philosophical foundations and lifelong learning, the new standards focus on the creative process and highlight learning that includes creating, performing, responding and connecting across arts disciplines.  Details on the new standards can be found on the state’s website here.

The initiative to update Delaware’s arts standards began this fall with the support of the Delaware Division of the Arts, the Delaware Arts Alliance, the Delaware Art Educators Association and the Delaware Music Educators Association.  More than 300 arts educators in the state also signed a petition requesting the Delaware Department of Education present new arts standards to the State Board of Education.

The Division of the Arts requires arts education grant requests to be aligned to current standards in the arts.  The Delaware Arts Alliance maintains arts education as one of its major advocacy goals along with economic development.  Both organizations are partners of the Delaware Department of Education.

The approval of the standards coincides with March for the Arts, a statewide celebration of arts education.  Governor Jack Markell has signed a proclamation designating the month of March as “March for the Arts” in the state of Delaware.  The importance of arts education is cited in the proclamation, as it “contributes to increased attendance and graduation rates; elevates academic achievement; and prepares students for college, career, and citizenship readiness.”

Alison May
alison.may@doe.k12.de.us
(302) 735-4006

State Board of Education Approved Modifications For DAPSS, DE Design-Lab, First State Montessori, & Prestige Academy

The Delaware State Board of Education approved all the major modifications that came across their table last Thursday. The charter schools involved either raised or lowered their enrollment numbers with their modification applications.

Delaware Academy of Public Safety & Security got rid of 8th grade and lowered their enrollment numbers to 330 for the 2016-2017 school year with increased enrollment of 375 by the 2020-2021 school year to keep them as a 9th to 12th grade school.

Delaware Design-Lab High School also lowered their enrollment, but they will be adding 11th grade next year as per their original charter application. Their growth is a bit more aggressive with 350 students in 9th-11th grade for 2016-2017, 475 for 2017-2018 when they add 12th grade, and up to 600 by 2019-2020.

First State Montessori Academy, who will be taking over the former Delaware Met building next door to them, was approved to add a middle school with students in 6th to 8th grade. Their enrollment for 2016-2017 must be 430 students in Kindergarten to 6th grade and by 2021-2022 they must have 654 students in K-8.

Prestige Academy is now a 6th to 8th grade school instead of a 5th to 8th middle school, and their enrollment has been lowered to 240 from the 2016-2017 school year and every year proceeding that.

Odyssey Charter School had a modification approved without the consent of the State Board of Education since it was considered a minor modifications. Their modification surrounded enrollment with increases less than 15%. Odyssey’s approved enrollment includes their high school which will make them a K-12 school by the 2019-2020 year. Both Kuumba Academy and Great Oaks Charter School had similar minor modifications approved in February by Secretary Godowsky with no grade level changes.

With the charter moratorium for Wilmington still in effect from House Bill 56, no new charter schools can apply for a Wilmington location. But that doesn’t seem to stop the existing schools from tweaking their numbers. Many First State Montessori parents wanted the change, but some folks submitted public comment around their enrollment preferences and were worried this could create more bias in the school. Prestige and Delaware Design-Lab were both on probation due to low enrollment figures last year. Their will still be many charter school enrollment changes next school year based on these approvals. More students in flux around Wilmington is not, in my opinion, a way to stabilize the situation with constant student movement in the city. If the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission redistricting plan is approved by the 148 General Assembly, it will create even more flux with students as Christina’s Wilmington schools become a part of the Red Clay Consolidated School District.