“With great power must also come great responsibility.”-Stan Lee
If you haven’t heard those exact words before, then you have been victim to one of the greatest butcherings of the past fifty years.
“With great power comes great responsibility.”
Now this you have heard.
in 1962, Stan Lee and Steve Ditko introduced the world to the Amazing Spider-Man. We all know the story. Peter Parker gets bit by a radioactive spider which gave him the proportionate strength of a spider. An orphan who lived with his Aunt May and Uncle Ben. He learned an important lesson very fast when he became a superhero. At first, he used his powers for fortune and fame. One night, he failed to stop a robber. The same burglar later attempted to rob his house and shot and killed his uncle. When Peter, dressed up as Spider-Man, finally confronted the burglar, he saw the same face he failed to stop. As he walked off into the night, he remembered what his Uncle Ben always told him, “With great power must also come great responsibility.”
This is the problem with the Delaware State Board of Education. The initial phrase Stan Lee provided to readers shows that just because you have power doesn’t mean you already possess an inherent sense of responsibility. That is something you have to develop and learn. The rewording of the classic phrase, which appeared in the 2002 Spider-Man movie, changes the concept of the phrase. As if power and responsibility are there from the start. As Delaware plows into the upcoming Every Student Succeeds Act regulations, this will become very important. I don’t feel our State Board has developed the responsibility that comes with their power. In fact, they want to hijack this term in their meetings about the Every Student Succeeds Act.
Many of the decisions they have made since 2008 have not been in the best and long-term interest of children. They embraced the corporate education reform movement and haven’t looked back. They continue to listen to the Rodel Foundation more than the teachers, students and parents who are their primary stakeholders. As a result, they have allowed an environment of false labels against schools, demeaned teachers, created a false illusion of praise for rushed teacher and leader programs, subjected our students to three different high-stakes tests that have not created improvement for anyone, manipulated legislators into believing their mantras, approved charter schools without any consistent or necessary follow-up to ensure they will be successful upon opening, revoked five charter schools, and nearly destroyed a generation of students. They will never take responsibility for these actions or events or even state they had anything to do with it. They will sit there and say most of these events were based on federal mandate or existing state law.
They have an opportunity now to change that. With the Every Student Succeeds Act, the law states that the United States Department of Education cannot dictate what type of state standard any state chooses to have. It also deals with parent opt out of state assessments as a state’s decision. However, U.S. Secretary of Education John King seems to have some comprehension issues as the regulations coming out of the U.S. DOE contradict what the law states. Granted, the law is a confusing mess and there are parts that contradict each other. King knows this and he is taking FULL advantage of it. King will, in all likelihood, be gone by January next year, but he will be able to approve regulations and state plans based on forced dictates from his office. That is NOT responsibility either. That is power run amok.
As our State Board of Education prepares to deal with these regulations, they are having a workshop on ESSA before their regular State Board of Education meeting on July 21st. They will go over what many of the corporate education reform companies are translating the law into along with King’s regulations and accepting it as the Gospel truth. This is a critical time for Delaware education. A wrong move by our State Board and Delaware DOE will leave us in the same problems we have faced since No Child Left Behind came into law fifteen years ago. If you read the below presentation, you can clearly see their interpretation of the law based on the regulations and what the education companies want. Keep in mind, many of these “companies” have never taught in a classroom. But they have a vested interest in education. Actually, make that an invested interest in education.
There are others who have power in education: parents, teachers, administrators, unions, and even students. I urge all of you to watch our State Board of Education and the Delaware DOE like a hawk. Yes, it’s the summer and in a couple of months kids will be back in schools with all the business surrounding that. This is why they are choosing now to push regulations through when parents aren’t paying attention. Those who want to profit off education are already on this. They helped to create ESSA. They have power but no responsibility. They will control education if we let them. And our own Governor, Jack Markell, has been the largest cheerleaders for this movement. Power, with no responsibility, or even accountability.
We need parents, teachers, administrators, and students to take a role in this. Don’t rely on me as a mouthpiece. I’m a hot-tempered judgmental and pissed-off dad who has already been through many wars over this stuff. I will continue to fight the war, but I could hit by a truck tomorrow. Even if you are busy, you need to make the time to attend any meeting about ESSA in Delaware. You need to review what our state is proposing, carefully watch the public comment timeframes, and make your voice known. As well, contact your state legislators and Congressmen. Let them know how you feel. We have the opportunity and means to take back our children’s education. But not if we don’t become a part of it. This is our power. This is our responsibility. We have to use our power and become responsible. If you are relying on our policymakers and unelected State Board of Education to get it right, then you have already allowed them to shape education into what they want. They want to control the conversation and trick us. They are masters at it. They will smile and invite you to their events and give you real yummy eclairs and make you feel special and wanted. But they don’t want you, they want your child. Make no mistake about it.
To add insult to injury, Delaware is embarking on a “regulatory review”. So not only do we have federal education regulations under review, but also a statewide regulatory review which could easily cause mass confusion. I believe this is very intentional. So if you are reading up on regulations, make absolutely sure you know which ones are state and which ones are federal.
If you want to change the future, you have to act now. Don’t wait until it’s too late. I will do my best to inform you and give crucial dates and timeframes, but make sure you also do this.
In this undiscovered moment
Lift your head up above the crowd
We could shake this world
If you would only show us how
Your life is now