Live From The Delaware Congressional Education Debate Forum At The Christina Cultural Arts Center

The Congressional Education Debate in Wilmington is about to start.  Candidates Sean Barney, Lisa Blunt-Rochester, Scott Gesty, Mike Miller, Bryan Townsend, and Scott Walker are the candidates.  The debate moderators are Nathan Durant from Thomas Edison Charter School and Nichole Dobo with the Hechinger Report, formerly with the News Journal.

Dobo is giving the rules.  Candidates will have one minute to respond and thirty seconds for rebuttal.  Each candidate gets a 3 minute introduction.  Up first is Scott Walker.  He graduated from Brandywine High School in the largest graduating class in Delaware history.  He got an MBA from University of Delaware.  He helps to prosecute discrimination lawsuits. He is not a lawyer.  He said the skills he obtained at University of Delaware allowed him to become an entrepreneur.  He wants all students to have equal funding.  He wants to deregulate the teaching profession.  He ran out of time.

Sean Barney is up.  He is thanking all the sponsors.  He lives in Wilmington with his family.  They just got a puppy.  His daughter goes to First State Montessori Charter School.  He has been working in education policy for over ten years.  He said he worked with Governor Markell’s office on education policy.  He said segregation is an affront to our educational values.  “Nothing is more important than the education of our children.”

Delaware State Senator Bryan Townsend is up.  He thinks education is the most important topic we need to talk about.  He is running for Congress because our federal government and the congressional seat are important to education.  It is why he ran for State Senator, largely because of education issues.  Many in his family are Delaware educators.  He learned about a large emphasis on test scores and inadequate funding while children went hungry.  He has been a part of the conversations about test scores, data, and educator engagement.  He mentioned how DSEA endorsed him because of his efforts in the General Assembly.  He said it would be an honor to represent Delaware in Washington D.C.

Scott Gesty is up.  He is the Libertarian candidate. (All other candidates are Democrat).  He graduated high school in 1988 (so did I!).  He works for a global financial servicing firm.  He will be an adjunct professor at Goldey-Beacom in the fall.  He is running to get us out of the two party system.  He said the first thing he would do, if elected, is introduce term limits for Senators.

Now we have Mike Miller.  He is asking for his support if they like what he says today.  He hails from Lewes.  He said he is a family man, a successful business man, and a community man.  He is a five generation Delaware native who graduated from Cape Henlopen.  He is a tax accountant and owns a landscaping company.  “People are hurting, and we need to do better.  We’ve been kicking education down the road…”.  He said it is time to stop kicking the can in many areas.  He said we need a livable wage of at least $11/hr.  We need to fix the port, which we keep saying we will do, but the funds that went to corporate greed could have gone to education.

Lisa Blunt-Rochester is the final candidate to give an introduction.  It is big for her to say she is running for Congress.  She said education is why she is running.  There are important roles for the federal government with education.  She wants to take what we’ve learned in Delaware to D.C. and help Delaware to get the funds they need.  She grew up during the era of de-segregation in Delaware.  Her children graduated from Delaware public schools but had issues with college affordability and student loans.  She worked for the Metropolitan Urban League and worked with neighborhoods and talked with the Wilmington communities to work with students and families.  She knows the importance of a well-trained work force and a thriving economy.  She said we need education and everyone needs to get an opportunity.

The first question is for Sean Barney: With the Every Student Succeeds Act, what change do you think this will bring to Delaware?

Barney: This will be great change for Delaware.  He said we have great players unlike other states.  We have great leaders who organized this debate.  He thinks this is an opportunity for the state.  He said this is a devolution to the states with guard rails.  But he said it isn’t anything goes.

Rochester: We always have to be careful with block grants and grants to the state.  It is important that we recognize this flexibility comes with responsibility and this must come with accountability.   We have to engage stakeholders, especially parent involvement and that we are holding ourselves accountable.

Gesty: It is a step in the right direction.  He doesn’t like the idea of mandatory testing or jumping through hoops to get federal funding.  He doesn’t think the U.S. Dept. of Education should exist.  He believes in firm local control.

Miller: He believes the secondary education act gives more accountability.  He said it makes sure are schools aren’t cookie-cutters, it challenges the students, and puts money where it needs to be.  It puts the money where it needs to go with flexibility.

Townsend: Delaware wasn’t able to use the previous law correctly.  We have a diverse set of schools but we don’t fund our schools with enough flexibility.  He wants to see how Delaware uses that flexibility.  We have a uniquely-structured education assessment.

Walker: Is not in favor of this act.  We have too much discrimination and segregation.  We need the strong stroke of the federal government to take over these schools and give equal opportunity.  Federalism has to be enacted and come in like the 1960s and clean it up.

Wow!

Dobo is giving a quotes about low-income students and minority students graduating at lower rates and with less results than their peers.  How do we ensure equitable distribution?

Rochester: ESSA presents opportunities.  WEIC gave us strong opportunities.  There are real opportunities to bring people together to demand change.

Gesty: If he were a Congressman, he would have trust in our local educators to make sure discrimination doesn’t exist.  He said the feds track record isn’t great.  We are $20 trillion in debt.  He doesn’t have confidence in federal government, but he does in the state and local.

Miller: The Governor has to make changes in the 19 school dsitricts.  We need more resources in our schools and for our staff.  He believes we need to distribute the money equitably and we need more minorities sitting at the table.

Townsend: Delaware was battling testing and inequity and higher poverty in regards to state test scores.  There is a unique split in Delaware.  We know which schools are struggling.  The role of this position would give more resources for college.

Walker: We have a serious, serious problem in Delaware with education.  He is a father of four kids and had problems getting his last one through school.  We have to be honest with ourselves: more money is not going to fix education.  We had politicians hijack the education system and we need to return education to the schools and teachers.

Barney: At the federal level it is essential to provide transparency for how our students are doing.  And how they can succeed in the work world.  We need more actors to recognize where children aren’t being served the way they should be.

Next question: How are you going to make early education better?

Gesty: He doesn’t think dumping money into early education and universalize something, quality goes down and prices go up.  He said that is how market forces work.  He thinks the people should get block grants for this type of thing.

Miller: Believes in preschool and thinks it should be taxpayer funded.  He is giving statistics that it is a proven scientific fact that the more Pre K they get the better their outcomes.

Nate reworded the question.

Townsend: “Our children aren’t affected by market forces.”  It comes down to funding.  By supporting them at a younger age, they will have more opportunity.  We need qualified educators and change the way we look at early education, especially for the most vulnerable children.

Walker: We need to deregulate the early education industry.  He is a big advocate for the rights of the disabled.  We won’t have the funding for these things until we tax, not the 1%, but the 4%.  We need to develop our tax base.

Barney: If we ever hope to have equity, we need to address this.  He knows the science having worked in D.C.  The Governor’s focus on quality is important.  We need to make the investments in training for early educators to get the most of our time and do the best by our children.

Rochester: When you go to other countries, this isn’t even a debate.  She supports this.  It is a federal and state issue.  We need to make sure the wages are sufficient so people aren’t living in poverty while raising their children.  As Secretary of Labor, she understands all this.

Miller gave a rebuttal indicating he does support funding for early education.

Next question from Dobo: What do you think the federal role of school resource officers should be?  She is defining SROs as uniformed police officers who don’t have to go to a principal to arrest someone.

Miller: He doesn’t believe in security officers like that.  He thinks there is nothing wrong with security in our schools.  The principals and the administrators are still in charge.  He is talking about cruisers that are in impound.  We need to put those police patrols at the schools.  He thinks that would detract from those issues at our school because we respect the law.

Townsend: We have seen African-Americans suspended at higher rates than their peers.  We need culture accountability, but the key thing is to use grant money and flexibility from ESSA to have more community schools.  This is a key from ESSA and would be a driver that would get to the root of the issue instead of having law enforcement in our schools.

Walker: Having law enforcement in our schools is a horrible idea.  We need community program.  The child in Howard High School would be alive today if we had these programs.  SRO’s are an environment of fear and students can’t learn with fear.  Is against it, period.

Barney: The federal government should not be encouraging this.  There should be training for these officers and should be sensitive to suspensions and the criminal justice system create a path to prison.  We need needs-based funding for resources and health issues.

Rochester: We need to have more social workers and mental health providers in our schools.  Too many of our kids are coming to school traumatized and hungry.  We need to be looking outside of the school and inside the school.  We need to stand up to the NRA.  We need to have more pay for teachers to deal with these traumas.

Gesty: I don’t think the NRA has funded guns into our schools.  We need to empower teachers to get firearm training to take care of things until law enforcement gets there.  He agrees with Mr. Walker on these issues.

Rochester asked if the teachers should have guns and not the officers?  Gesty answered that the massacres in our schools, if they know they have resistance, it won’t happen.  Miller feels our schools are safe.  We need more minorities and educators who are black so children can have someone they can relate to.  Townsend empathized that he doesn’t feel schools would be safer by having more guns in our schools.  He doesn’t think these issues should be going on in our schools.  Gesty asked Townsend if he doesn’t think voluntary training could be given?  Townsend asked all educators in the room to clap if they don’t think more guns should be in their school.  Many clapped.

Nate asked what are some examples of excellence in education in Delaware?

Townsend: There are great after-school programs but we need to find a way to replicate the success to spread it across all Delaware schools.

Walker: We have great teachers.  They are under paid and over worked.  We need to pay them for what they are doing.  We have the greatest teachers in Delaware.  We need to fix the economy first.

Barney: Pilot grants are great and we need those for district-charter collaboration.  He said he stayed back in 9th grade.  He said he sends his kids to First State Montessori because they provide that edge to get students to learn.

Rochester: She said there are great things happening in our schools.  She would advocate for World-Language Immersion where students are learning Chinese and Spanish.  We need good global citizens.  We need more focus on STEM like schools in Sussex County.  She loves the STEAM program (an arts program).

Gesty: He doesn’t think the federal government should be involved.  His daughter is in public education and her teachers are incredible and go the extra mile.  Teachers give extra help to get them where they need to be.  Delaware schools are a role model for the rest of the country.

Miller: He doesn’t think the feds should provide more money for education.  No child is going to learn the same.  The monies coming in, some of them should be put aside for afterschool programs.  There is no cookie-cutter program.  That is what he would like to see.

Dobo is asking audience questions.

Is there a crisis with college affordability?

Walker: There is no such thing as free college.  Our taxes will go up.  Our economy is flat-lining.  We need something to get the private sector on their feet.   We have to have the money to do this first.  The money comes from the private sector: business, free enterprise, the American Way.  It is the only way we will get our schools through.

Barney: He was on Senator Carper’s board for service academies.  He wants more students serving AmeriCorps or Peace Corps.  He thinks students should give service and in exchange get funding for college.

Rochester: There are 40 million people in debt from student loans.  That is a crisis.  Many people have done the right thing.  They went to school but they are now in debt.  She thinks the ability to refinance those loans is important.  We need to bring back Pell grants.  That is an opportunity at the federal level.  There are great programs like TeenSharp.  These programs prepare kids for college and help them to apply for funds.  She believes in “cradle to career”.

Gesty: He doesn’t think college should be free.  We are $1.3 trillion in student debt.  This isn’t a free ride program, we need a getting our economy right program.

Miller: He thinks college should be more affordable but it shouldn’t be free.  He said the living at college expenses are what is really rising.  He is saying we need to look at how we train carpenters and mechanics: do we not pay for their training?

Townsend: If we value education we need to make sure we have educational opportunities available.  People take on debt and drop out of college which is even worse.  President Obama’s Community College Plan is what most people are talking about, not a free four-year degree.  We need interest rate reduction.  Government shouldn’t profit off students futures.

Miller added that we have the SEED program and the INSPIRE program.  He doesn’t understand the change in grades between University of Delaware where you need a 2.5 but with Del State you need a 2.75.  He said that is an African-American school.

Nate asked about charter school enrollment preferences and segregation:

Barney: This is an issue in Delaware.  We have too many schools being private in their admissions and have factors in their admissions they shouldn’t be allowed to have.  We need to create opportunity for more schools but schools should be equitable in their admission practices.

Rochester: The original charter law was supposed to be based on replicating success but we got away from that.  She said we have questions of equity and excellence.  Funds are being taken from local schools.  As a state we need to take a look at how we are addressing them.

Gesty: Charter schools are a state problem.  There is nothing we can do at a federal level.  But with discrimination, that is a federal issue and a violation of civil rights.  Feels this should stay at the state and local level.

Miller: When you look at this at a federal level, 80% of the money follows a student and goes from a district to a charter school if they choice out.  If there is segregation, the federal government should get involved.  Students with disabilities are released from school districts and the charters take them.  He said all the money doesn’t go to charter schools.

Townsend: A big bill he dealt with in 2013 was the charter school reauthorization bill.  We have funds through ESSA and we need to make sure we are rewarding all our schools and using funds equitably.  He talked about when Markell and Arne Duncan came to Hodgson and Townsend invited them to Stubbs to see the great work they are doing.  They declined because it wasn’t in the script.

Walker:  The charter experiment has failed.  Students with disabilities are left in public schools.  It is the role of a congressman to address these issues.

Barney: The federal government provides funding.  Federal dollars need to be used in a non-discriminatory manner.  If anything is a federal issue it is also a civil rights issue.

Rochester: She agreed with Barney

Dobo asked about state testing.  A question was directed to Senator Townsend.  The question is concerning how he fought testing and civil rights groups have defended these tests.  If DSEA has endorsed him, how does he respond to that?

Townsend: He said he ran based on civil rights issues.  He doesn’t feel the focus on test scores looked at what was going on the night before.  He addressed these issues to bring sanity to the conversation.

Walker: You have to have testing.  How do you know if a child is going to learn?  This isn’t the law of gravity or the speed of light.  Human behavior has to be tested.  We need to make the tests fair that measure.  He doesn’t think students with disabilities should be opted out of testing.  That will not help them.

Barney: We need to look at funds addressing testing.  Testing should be used for statistics on how our kids are doing.  We all know we aren’t where we need to be with the achievement gap.  We need to make sure we aren’t using testing to punish.

Rochester: The original question was about civil rights.  She understands why some folks would doubt, but as a person coming from the Civil Rights movement, to not measure anything is a problem.  Opting out isn’t the issue.  We need to measure to know where we are discriminating.  We need to put our money where our mouth is.

Gesty: He strongly opposes Smarter Balanced.  He opposes Common Core.  We passed a bill and Markell thumbed his nose at parents.  We need tests that will actually benefit students.

Miller: He applauds Markell for vetoing the bill but he did sign SJR #2 (assessment inventory bill).  We have too many tests.  He goes into the schools.  He doesn’t think there should just be one test because of the grade.

Townsend: What he felt was the debate last year was make sure you have the curriculum that is agreed to and make sure students have a meal that morning of the test.  Students didn’t have a stake in this.  It isn’t about accountability, it’s about how we do it.

Miller: If students aren’t doing well on those tests, there is something wrong.

Townsend: Mike, I’m not arguing against accountability.

Rochester: We are talking about some individuals having the opportunity to opt out.  Many poor children have a sense of urgency so it is important that testing, maybe not that test, but there has to be growth.

Townsend: This is why we sponsored bill for free breakfast for kids with Rep. Osienski.  We need broadband access in rural areas.  The civil rights groups vs. teachers represented a frustration.

Miller: We are teaching to take the test.  He wants to see good instruction throughout the school year.

Gesty: I believe a parent should have the right to opt out.  The federal government shouldn’t put down a heavy hand when it doesn’t really help his child get into college.

 

 

 

Delaware DOE Has Meetings About ESSA With Rodel Before DSEA And Legislators

I wish I could say I was shocked, but I really can’t.  In just another incident showing where the Delaware Department of Education’s priorities are, we see they invited Rodel, a non-profit corporation, to meetings about the Every Student Succeeds Act.  On the right side of the picture are the “scheduled” meetings.  Who isn’t on the list?  The Delaware General Assembly.  They can’t give the excuse about the legislators not being in session.  They met with a lot of them one-on-one a year ago to discuss the Smarter Balanced results weeks before they were released to parents.

That has to be a great feeling for elected legislators in Delaware, knowing that a State Department would rather talk with the Rodel Foundation before them.  Especially since they will be the ones getting the most complaints calls when this whole process goes haywire.  At the State Board of Education meeting today, when asked by State President Dr. Teri Quinn Gray, Delaware Deputy Secretary of Education Karen Field Rogers did indicate they will be reaching out to the legislators.  Note that she was specifically asked this question and didn’t bring it up herself.  This is not a good start to what should be all parties at the table.  This does not count the State Board Workshop last week.  These are private meetings with these groups of stakeholders.

I would love to know which local boards had these meetings.  For all the board members out there, feel free to message me privately if you have had these consultation meetings.  Or send me a message on Facebook.

DOEESSAStakeholder Consultation

 

Delaware DOE Praises Higher Income Schools For Smarter Balanced Results

Like a record with a skip, that keeps playing the same song over and over again, the Delaware Department of Education continues to praise traditional district schools and charter schools that are known to have very small populations of low-income students.  They can try to celebrate the “growth” and “gains” on this test, but until I get verification on what their cut scores were for both last year and this year, it is pointless to see any type of gain or growth.  We already know students don’t receive all the same items on this test so it’s viability is already out the window.

This Department is so out of touch with reality I don’t think they could turn it around even if they tried.  They are so embedded in the false ideologies and agendas that seek to destroy public education they don’t seem to be able to see the reality behind it all.  They are blinded by their own power.  It is, in some respects, very sad to see.  We are a small state, which should work in our favor.  Instead, we have our schools, students, educators, parents, and tax-paying citizens suffering from a state Department that thrives on rigor and accountability.  They are supported by a Governor that is not influenced by these agendas, but helped to create them.  I eagerly await major changes and for those who have the power to change things to wake up from this long nightmare.  I urge parents to opt out of this horrible test and keep their children far away from it.

John King Is Violating Intent Of ESSA By Approving Illegal Flexibility Waivers For Delaware Through 2019

I was wondering why the Delaware Department of Education went to all the trouble of submitting an ESEA flexibility waiver for a dubious standard called the state’s “speaking and listening standards” last March.  ESEA effectively ended on July 31st this year.  Now we know why.  Because it allowed the Delaware DOE to continue the same damaging and disturbing accountability practices for not just this school year, but through the end of the 2018-2019 school year.

This waiver was very odd to begin with.  Yes, there is speaking and listening standards.  It is part of Delaware’s Common Core State Standards.  But to submit an ESEA Flex Waiver for this is ludicrous.  But it doesn’t end there.  The Delaware DOE was not forthright and honest with the process of applying for this waiver.  As part of state code, Delaware is required to have an advisory committee to approve these waivers.  This was the DESS Advisory Committee.  For this waiver, DESS did not meet to approve it.  In fact, as per an email from Susan Haberstroh at the Delaware DOE, the group is not even active at this point.

HaberstrohDESSQuestion

DESS is, however, required under Delaware state code to review the very same things this ESEA flexibility waiver is meant to address:

Title14DESS

Under whose authority did Haberstroh decide DESS did not have to meet to review this flexibility waiver?  This flexibility waiver is illegal in many ways.  There is no state regulation that gives the Delaware School Success Framework any legal enforceability.  Regulation 103, which covers these accountability standards, was not updated last year.  The U.S. DOE has no authority to approve or disapprove Delaware law.  By relying on the United State Dept. of Education to decide on Delaware law, the Delaware DOE is seriously overstepping the will and intent of the Delaware Constitution.

To make things more complicated, U.S. Secretary John King is abusing his authority under the Every Student Succeeds Act by approving any accountability waivers up through 2019.  The Delaware DOE is cherry-picking what they can and can’t do with ESSA, just like John King is.  For John King, when he does this stuff, he gets hauled into congressional hearings.  When the Delaware DOE does this stuff, it gets mentioned on here.  There is no accountability method for the Delaware DOE to answer for their actions.  Someone needs to get the DOE into a public hearing to explain how they can do certain things and not others.  Because the way they interpret the law and the way it must be interpreted are two different things.  Events are progressing rapidly where the Delaware DOE is openly and flagrantly violating state law.  This can not continue and I urge our General Assembly to take immediate and definitive action against our out of control Dept. of Education.

As for U.S. Secretary of Education John King, I have already taken some action on his abuse of power.  I contacted Rep. John Kline (MN) and Senator Lamar Alexander (TN) addressing the abuse of power John King is exhibiting by approving this waiver.  As well, I submitted the following to Senator Alexander:

Good morning Senator Alexander,

I am trying to reach you in regards to the Every Student Succeeds Act. Back in March, the Delaware Department of Education submitted a flexibility waiver under ESEA to the United States Department of Education.  This was for a waiver of “speaking and listening standards” as part of our state assessment.  Our Dept. of Education stated this was a “limited waiver” and bypassed parts of our state law for how these things are approved in our state.  While I recognize you have no authority over Delaware state code, I do know you do have authority in regards to the U.S. Dept. of Education and have the ability to call out John King over abuse of power.

On August 5th, 2016, the Delaware DOE received an approval letter from Anne Whelan, the U.S. Deputy Secretary of Education, action on Secretary King’s behalf, to approve our ESEA flexibility waiver. The letter, which can be found on the Delaware Dept. of Education website under “Accountability”, and then “ESSA”, seems to give the U.S. DOE authority to grant flexibility waivers with the same accountability standards under ESEA up through June 30th, 2019.  As I am interpreting the Every Student Succeeds Act, this type of authority was explicitly stripped from the U.S. Secretary of Education.  But John King is openly and publicly defying this federal mandate by continuing the same damaging practices from No Child Left Behind and Race To The Top.

The letter states:

“After reviewing Delaware’s request, I am pleased to grant, pursuant to my authority under section 8401 (b) of the ESEA, as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), a limited waiver of section 1111 (b)(3)(C)(ii) of the ESEA, as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB), for school year (SY) 2016-2017 and of section 1111 (b)(2)(B)(ii) of the ESEA, as amended by the ESSA, for SYs 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 so that the state’s assessment system, including the Smarter Balanced Assessment for grades 3-8 and the SAT for high school, need not measure the State’s speaking and listening standards at this time.

This waiver is granted to Delaware on the condition that it will implement the following assurances:

It will continue to meet for each year of the waiver all other requirements in the ESEA, as amended by NCLB or the ESSA, as applicable, for State assessment systems and the implementing regulations with respect to the State’s academic content and achievement standards and assessments, including reporting student achievement and school performance, disaggregated by subgroups, to parents and the public.”

In addition, by granting this waiver to Delaware, it would allow Delaware to continue accountability rules that have no regulatory approval in Delaware as required by Delaware state code. Delaware has not passed a final Accountability Framework for our public schools because there is no regulation supporting this updated matrix.  As well, the Delaware School Success Framework punishes schools for participation rates below 95% on state assessments.  While ESSA allows states to decide policies and procedures with regard to a parent’s right to opt their child out of the state assessment, Delaware has not done so in any official capacity.  The U.S. DOE is approving this illegal practice in our state which is against the spirit and intent of ESSA.  No state regulations have been approved or are even in the pipeline for approval, and the U.S. DOE is in violation of the Every Student Succeeds Act.

I implore you, as well as your other Congressional leaders, to hold Secretary King accountable for his very open defiance against the intent of Congress.

Please do not hesitate to reach out to me if you have any questions.

With warm regards,

Kevin Ohlandt

Dover, DE

Below is the letter sent from Anne Whalen to Secretary Godowsky on August 5th:

You Go Frederika!

I have not always agreed with Frederika Jenner, the President of the Delaware State Education Association.  But on this, we solidly agree!  Frederika submitted a very awesome public comment on the proposed regulations for the Every Student Succeeds Act.  Thank you for calling out the Delaware Department of Education for pretending this law doesn’t change anything.  It does, and the more people that become aware of this, the more we can expect true change in public education!  Please click on the picture to enlarge!

FrederikaESSAPublicCommentESSARegulations

 

Charter Schools & ESSA Regulations: “We Are Not The Same”

We strongly oppose the inclusion of this requirement, which is not authorized by the statute. The Department bases this proposal on a desire “to provide transparency.” (No further justification is provided in the NPRM.) We, too, support greater transparency, regarding both charter and non-charter schools, but this requirement would result in the reporting of misleading data. Moreover, the proposed requirement appears to be based on the premise that charter schools should look the “same” as district public schools in close proximity, when by definition charter schools are open enrollment. Lastly, the proposed requirement that is not in the statute, and would not equally apply to all public schools – only charter schools would be included.

The National Association for Public Charter Schools gave a very long public comment for the draft regulations put forth by the United States Department of Education and Secretary John King.  Even they aren’t happy with parts of these regulations.  Many felt the Every Student Succeeds Act gave gifts to the charters, but apparently the charters do not like some of these regulations.

The most important question is not who is enrolled in a charter school; it is whether all students and families who may wish to enroll have the opportunity to enroll – only then is the parent’s choice a meaningful one. The comparison data that the Department is asking for would not reflect this factor because the data would confuse and conflate the decision to enroll with the opportunity to enroll. As such, comparison data may be one indicator of meaningful access but comparison data are not the correct, best or only frame with which to evaluate equity.

I find some of their statements very ironic.  Especially for some charter schools in Delaware where the opportunity to enroll is buried in selective enrollment preferences and factors that lead to very low populations of at-risk students: African-Americans, students with disabilities, and English Language learners.  So much so that the American Civil Liberties Union filed a complaint with the Office of Civil Rights in December, 2014.

Like some charters in Delaware, this collection of America’s largest charter school organizations and franchises want to cherry-pick through the regulations to insert additional language in the Every Student Succeeds Act.  This is the one that disturbs me the most:

We recommend that the Department revise proposed section 200.24(d)(2), by adding a new clause (iii) reading as follows:

“(iii) Using funds that it reserves under section 1003(a), directly provide for the creation of new, replicated, or expanded charter schools to serve students enrolled in schools identified for comprehensive support and improvement, and other students in the local community, provided that:

“(A) The SEA has the authority to take such an action under State law or, if the SEA does not have that authority, the SEA has the LEA’s approval to use the funds in this manner; and

“(B) Such charter schools will be established and operated by non-profit entities with a demonstrated record of success (particularly in serving students from communities similar to those that would be served by the new charter schools), which the State shall determine through a rigorous review process.”

This language would be consistent with other provisions of the proposed regulations that support the concept of making charter school options available to students who would otherwise be enrolled in low-performing schools. It would take a different approach than just authorizing conversions, by making it possible for students enrolled in comprehensive support and improvement schools (as well as other students in the neighborhood or local community) to have the opportunity to transfer to a charter school run by a highly successful operator. We emphasize that the language would allow an SEA to use section 1003 funds for this purpose with the approval of the affected LEA, unless state law gives the SEA the authority to take such an action without LEA approval. (It would thus be somewhat parallel to the language currently in section 200.24(d)(2) allowing the SEA, with the LEA’s concurrence to provide school improvement activities through external partners). We strongly recommend that the Department adopt this recommendation.

I have no doubt you strongly recommend the Department inserts this into the law.  We have yet to see, based on equal demographics, that charter schools do better than traditional public school districts.  There are many charter schools that seem to work merely as rigor universities for high achievement on state assessments, but that is not a true barometer for student success which has been proven time and time again.

To read the rest about what the charters want and ALL the organizations and charters that signed this comment, read the entire document below:
 

NO

MichaelWatson

Katonah-Lewisboro School District’s Very Awesome Resolution On John King’s ESSA Draft Regulations

…provisions in the US Department of Education (DOE) draft regulations would perpetuate federal overreach in areas that ESSA specifically delegates to the states and to local school districts.

Last night, I remembered where I came from.  In 1988, I graduated from John Jay High School in the Katonah-Lewisboro School District in Cross River, New York.

While looking at public comments on the Every Student Succeeds Act draft regulations put forth by the United States Department of Education, I actually found a comment submitted by the Board of Education at my old school district.  They basically told John King to shove it and to keep his nose out of state and local education matters.  I agree wholeheartedly.  I truly wish any of the districts in Delaware, where I now live, took similar actions with these horrible regulations.  They say you can’t go home again, but you can certainly look back with pride!

What I was also shocked to see was an item on their Board Docs, which they have at every single board meeting.  Something I would urge all Delaware Boards of Education, Boards of Directors, the State Board of Education, task forces, committees, or any public body that meets and allows public comment to have, this:

KatohnahLewisboro

Public comment is a must. But seeing a board taking the time to discuss the concerns or matters brought up during public comment is something we just don’t see in Delaware. All too often, we bring something up during public comment and it isn’t referred to again. Although, being fair, Capital School District (where I live) does discuss many items brought up in public comment. Frequently, I am the only one giving public comment at board meetings and I am very open about items on their agenda and how they pertain to special education. But could you imagine how different our State Board of Education would be if they adopted this amazing philosophy? If there was actually some type of conversation between the public and themselves? Or going a leap further, what if our Senate or House Education Committees took these steps? They could understand things so much more.  Bottom line is this: Delaware, as a whole, needs to speak up with a very loud voice and have more engagement with ALL stakeholders!

So much of who I am comes from the spirit of the school district I grew up in. I’ve taken this for granted over the years, but this makes me really happy to see. But one thing I do want to know: when did my high school get an Ice Hockey team? That is really awesome!  I wish they had that when I grew up!