Delaware DOE Breaks Federal Law By Sneaking In Amendment To ESEA Waiver Without Public Notice

The mischievous and law-breaking Delaware Department of Education actually snuck in an amendment to their ESEA Flexibility Waiver without notifying the public at all.  As required by Federal law, any changes to a state’s ESEA Flexibility Waiver MUST have a public announcement indicating the proposed change.  As well, there is a public comment period required where anyone can comment based on the public announcement.  But as usual, the Delaware DOE does as they see fit and continue to break laws with no oversight or accountability…

ESEAFlexibility

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I just found this on their website today.  I love how they include in their document to US DOE that they are attaching the pages in their ESEA waiver with red-lined parts where this amendment would change their waiver, but don’t have a link for the public to see this change.  And let’s be honest, this change wasn’t brought forth because of parents clamoring for it.  It was brought forth because the Delaware DOE was wetting their pants over how many juniors opted out last year!  It also references the February 19th, 2016 redline of the US DOE approved ESEA Waiver request, but no document is listed on the page anywhere.  So what does this mysterious document even say?

In regards to the other ESEA waiver the Delaware DOE is asking for public comment on, nothing is listed on the ESEA portion of the Delaware DOE website.  But the ironic part about that ESEA waiver is US DOE told Delaware DOE not to worry about having the DESS Advisory Committee comment on it, even though that is required by law.  So we have US DOE telling us to break the law and don’t worry about it, but they want us to submit this ESEA waiver even though it will be null and void as of August 1, 2017 when ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act) goes into effect.  Or will it?  We won’t know until the regulations come out in the coming months.  I see this as a way for US Secretary of Education John King to continue the legacy of Arne Duncan by essentially bribing states with these waiver schemes.  And of course all this comes out after the Senate confirms the snake.

I was at the December State Board of Education where there was an “open discussion”.  Secretary Godowsky said something to the effect of “We are excited to make this change and I think we will have an announcement very soon.”  An “open discussion” would indicate the public was allowed to comment on this during this exchange.  That was not the case.  You can listen to the audio here.  Godowsky did mention many things would need to be ironed out with US DOE during this “open discussion”.  By submitting this ESEA flexibility waiver on March 29th, 2016, three months after Governor Markell and Godowsky announced the switch, how is that ironing things out?

As well, all the prior “stakeholder feedback” was meant to discuss the possibility of the issue.  That should NOT be counted as official public comment required under ESEA law.  But this is the Delaware DOE and the US DOE who bend and shape the laws to their own benefit.  And our Delaware legislators and US legislators just sit back and let it happen.  Wasn’t the whole point of ESSA to stop the US DOE from pulling this kind of crap?  And here we are in Delaware with not one, but two ESEA waivers with very questionable legality issues surrounding both of them.

And what exactly is going on with the DESS Advisory Committee?  Did they cancel them as a group since ESEA was going to be eliminated soon anyways?  But based on that line of thought we shouldn’t be submitting anything regarding ESEA.  Or is this just another way to try to get the feds to approve Delaware’s cockamamie opt out penalty into the Delaware School Success Framework?  Since they didn’t approve that based on their  November resubmission of the ESEA waiver request as a condition of their July approval of the ESEA waiver request because of ESSA.  Are you as confused as I am?  My head is spinning…

WTH

Parent Action Alert: Attend The Next Delaware Assessment Inventory Meeting Scheduled For April 26th

HighStakesTesting

The Assessment Inventory Committee for Delaware finally has a date scheduled for their next meeting.  It will be on April 26th, from 4pm-6pm, at the main Department of Education Building in Dover.  The meeting will be held in the Cabinet Room where the State Board of Education meets on a monthly basis.  No agenda has been set for the meeting at this point in time.

I highly encourage parents and teachers to attend this meeting and give public comment.  This is the time and place to make your voices heard where it could potentially have some sort of impact.  At the last meeting, I sensed some hesitation from State Rep. Tim Duke.  Prior to this meeting, I perceived Dukes as a pro-standardized testing, anti-opt out legislator.  He talked about walking through schools and really listening to teachers and hearing their concerns.  I would have not thought this was possible a few months ago.

This is a committee that is largely controlled by the DOE.  There is a parent representative on the group, but she only attended the first meeting.  I find this to be unacceptable.  State Rep. Kim Williams has emailed the DOE several times about this glaring hole on the committee without any response from them.  The Delaware PTA has also been very vocal about the lack of parent representation on the committee.

It is very important for parents and teachers to give their opinion on these matters to those who have the ability to make a difference.  While you may think your voice does not matter, it does.  It always has.  Don’t be afraid to use it.  The timing on this meeting is crucial given that the Every Student Succeeds Act is in the process of issuing regulations that could dictate how much control states have over high-stakes testing.  Our children need you to speak up.  They need you to be their voice.  Do not let them down!  The Smarter Balanced Assessment must go.  But we also need to make sure it is not replaced by something comparable or worse.  As well, the data output from the state assessment and personalized learning must be protected so children are not tracked and used as guinea pigs for testing companies or other corporate entities.  This is a non-negotiable in my opinion!

Opts Outs and the Tenth Amendment: Will the States and Localities Make Better Education Decisions Than the Federal Government?

Ed In The Apple

“Each state retains its sovereignty, freedom, and independence, and every power, jurisdiction, and right, which is not by this Confederation expressly delegated to the United States, in Congress assembled.” (Articles of Confederation)

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” (Tenth Amendment to the Constitution).

In April of 1787 fifty-four Americans, plantation owners and small farmers, slave-holders and abolitionists, large states and small states began their slog to Philadelphia and the Constitutional Convention. The fledgling nation was struggling, the form of government, a loose, a very loose confederation of the thirteen former colonies had no common currency, no banking system, no army and couldn’t even pay the troops that fought and won the war for independence.  For most the trip with not with enthusiasm, previous efforts to amend the Articles…

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3 Facts about Education in Delaware that Most Don’t Know

Let me start by saying that Atnre cares about students. With that being said, I agree with some of the facts he presents that many may not know. What I do not agree with is what comes from these “known knowns.” As well, by stating “But while decision makers in Delaware spend time debating things like parents’ ability to opt out of state assessments, this data point gets relatively little play in policy conversations”, I feel the author misses the point about why opt out is such a huge discussion. Parents are ignored in much of the policy decisions. Those who make these decisions almost (in my opinion) see parents as meddling and interfering non-stakeholders who are annoying. They fail to realize, time and time again, that parents are and should be the cornerstone to education policy. Yes, many parents do participate in decisions. They are also parents who belong to organizations and groups that subscribe to the point of view of the DOE. It is a stacked deck in favor of the corporations who distort the clear picture about what is going on.

Urgency of Now

tellthetruthDelaware’s State Board of Education recently made a high-profile decision that has the potential to shape the future of schools in Wilmington. While this decision has garnered significant attention and discussion (and rightly so), there are many decisions made each year that impact students’ learning and their experiences in the education system. Who is making these decisions and to what extent are they basing them on evidence?

Should a given school principal’s contract be renewed? Which teachers should be assigned to which students? Should the state change its school funding formula? Which approach to classroom management will be most effective in a given classroom?

Such decisions take place at all levels – from the classroom to legislative hall – and vary in terms of their potential for impact. But evidence (qualitative and quantitative) and facts (instead of conjecture, anecdotes, bias,  and political convenience) should be a major factor in all…

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John Thompson Forecasts the End of the Corporate Reform Era

I really hope this education era comes to a very fast end.

Diane Ravitch's blog

Dr. John Thompson, historian and teacher in Oklahoma City, anticipates the collapse of corporate reform in this outstanding post. He gives much of the credit to the opt out movement, which stood up to political and corporate power to protect their children. Who ever thought it was a great idea to subject 9-year-old children to 8 hours of testing? Who thought it would be a good idea to fire teachers if test scores didn’t go up every year? Who thought it was a good idea to drain resources from public schools and give them to privately managed charter schools?

Parents certainly didn’t. They refused to be bullied by school officials and politicians.

Thompson writes:

“Three cheers for the Opt Out movement! When the history of the collapse of data-driven, competition-driven school improvement is written, the parents and students of the grassroots Opt Out uprising will get much – or most…

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