Kavips Ends A Ten-Year Run In The Delaware Blogosphere

I wrote a lot today.  But nothing came close to Kavips final post.

I wasn’t expecting this.  I figured Kavips went to some beach somewhere to recover from the Trump win last week.  But no, Kavips realized it was time to say goodbye.

When I first started blogging, it was Kilroy’s Delaware, Transparent Christina, and Kavips.  I read them all.  Every day.  They were the must-reads when they popped up in my inbox.  Transparent Christina ended earlier this year.  Kilroy has dramatically slowed down on the education output.  And now Kavips is calling it quits.

Kavips was a frequent commenter on this blog.  Things he/she wrote sometimes touched me in ways that meant a lot.  Sometimes, when I was down, Kavips would lift me back up again with a brilliant post over there.

All good things must come to an end.  One day this blog will.  But dammit, I’m going to miss Kavips.  I hope to see comments from the enigmatic blogger.  Or maybe it will be under a new name.  The Delaware blogging world lost one of its big lights tonight…

Ten Years Is A Long Time

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It all started 10 years ago today… I opened a silly blog with WordPress as its frame. I chose the zen-ish motif that tops each post out of the few offered back then. And wrote my first piece: “Hats Off To Rebecca”… https://kavips.wordpress.com/2006/11/17/hello-world/

I was a busy person and posted occasionally when I felt like it… but I was more comfortable reading others’ posts and commenting there. Occasionally I’d get a comment and respond.

One Sunday morning I opened the News Journal and there was a picture of windmills in the far distance off Bethany Beach… It was exhilarating. My imagination was piqued. I wrote about wind, whether anyone read it or not, right up until we got the first offshore deal signed between Deluca and Carney. https://kavips.wordpress.com/all-about-wind/ Then came the crash.

After Democrats swept everything, while Obama was in 2nd month, I developed the kavipsian Economic Plan https://kavips.wordpress.com/jump-starting-america-the-kavipsian-plan-for-fixing-the-economy/ as…

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When ESSA Advisory Committee Members Attack!

I’ve given a ton of public comments in the past two and a half years.  100?  200?  I can’t keep track.  Tonight, I got yelled at for my public comment.  By a member of the Delaware ESSA Advisory Committee.  It got ugly.  I’m not one to just let someone yell at me like that.

A member of the committee asked the Delaware Dept. of Education how much the committee’s input really means.  She asked the DOE, on a scale of 1-10, how much that input means.  It was a very fair and valid question.  I have seen the woman before.  Maria Matos.  I knew she was on a charter school board and involved with the Latin American Community Center in Wilmington.  But I have never had a conversation with her.  I don’t think she has ever said hello to me or if I’ve been in a position to introduce myself.  I meet a lot of people in Delaware education.  I tend to disagree with many, but I make it a point to show respect face to face.  In a public meeting, there is an understood rule that you don’t devolve to a level of hostility.  Have I always subscribed to that rule?  No, I haven’t.

At a State Board of Education meeting in July of 2015, the Governor had just vetoed House Bill 50.  I had to hear former Secretary of Education Mark Murphy talk about it and how it was a good thing.  He was going on and on about it.  Was he rubbing my face in it?  Perhaps.  I yelled from the back something about how wrong they were and stormed out.  Not a moment I was proud of.  Even though I didn’t agree with what they were saying, I felt bad about it.  I emailed the entire board and Mark Murphy and apologized for my behavior.  I did tell the entire Christina board I was going to FOIA them one night, but I did raise my hand to speak and they allowed me to speak.  So that doesn’t really count.  I’ve yelled at Mark Murphy a couple of times and Senator David Sokola once at Legislative Hall during the House Bill 50 opt out days when the bill was still in play.  But I digress.

So tonight, Karen Field-Rogers with the Delaware DOE responds to Ms. Matos’ question.  She tells her this committee, the ESSA Advisory Committee, has deeper connections with education and she said they would have about 80% input on the Delaware ESSA state plan which will be submitted to the U.S. Dept. of Education.  That led to a whole other conversation about federal control, state control, and local control.  The time came for public comment.  I had something all typed out and ready to go, but upon hearing Field-Rogers response to Matos, I felt the need to ad lib my comment.

I basically said it was very disheartening to hear that this group was given an 8 out of 10 priority for input on the plan.  It felt like the ESSA Discussion Groups and the Community Conversation Groups were all of a sudden less important, that their voice didn’t matter as much.  That was the bulk of my public comment, short and sweet.  There has already been a huge question in the air about if the Delaware DOE already has the plan written and the stakeholder input is being used for show.  At the very least, the kind of questions the DOE are asking participants in any ESSA meeting are very narrow in scope.  Many questions are asked in such a way that someone answering could only give answers that would lean toward pre-conceived notions of what the DOE may put in the final plan.  The fact that the ESSA Advisory Committee was given six different questions tonight, one for each table, and the DOE representative at each table gave the report of each group’s discussion shows far too much DOE control than I am comfortable with.  And those DOE reps will be writing reports to the DOE based on how they interpret the findings of each group.

Usually, public comment ends and the group adjourns and everyone goes home.  But not tonight.  Matos yells at me.  She yells that the DOE just said it was an 8.  I went to respond and she continued.  I asked her why she was yelling at me and let her know I didn’t even know her.  She continued to yell about the same thing.  I told her this was public comment and she needed to step off.  I literally said those words.  She said something about not stepping up, but at the point the moderator intervened and adjourned the meeting.  Usually I stick around and say goodbye to folks, but not tonight.  I was pretty hot and I knew staying in that room would not be a wise idea.  I wish Matos would have used that same restraint a few minutes earlier…

So Ms. Matos, allow me to introduce myself.  I’m the member of the public you yelled at tonight.  And I will tell you straight up, that doesn’t fly with me.  You want to disagree with me, that’s fine.  People disagree with me all the time.  You want to yell at me after a public meeting or in the parking lot, have at it.  But you will not disrespect me in front of an audience with something you didn’t even hear right to begin with.  Maybe people allow you to do that at other meetings, but when someone gives a public comment at a public meeting, you respect that.  I’m sure you have done many wonderful things for Delaware education.  But that does not make you better than me or gives you the justification to do that.   I don’t care how many boards or committees you may be on.  And just because you are on the “8” committee, doesn’t mean your voice weighs more than anyone else.

One final thought Ms. Matos, if you have to ask the question about how much stakeholder input in matters of education with the Delaware DOE count, you’ve probably already answered your own question.

Could A Secretary Of Education Bill Evers Stop The Whoring Out Of Personal Student Data?

In 2011, the Obama Administration changed the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act so third parties would have access to personal student data.  This has been a major point of contention on this blog for over a year now.  Our children are guinea pigs for state departments of education, the feds, and more corporate education reform companies than you can shake a leg at.  But we could have some relief if Bill Evers is selected as the United States Secretary of Education under President Donald Trump.

While I don’t like some of Evers’ thoughts on charter schools and school vouchers, I do immensely enjoy what he said in a hearing on Common Core in Ohio.  This is what he said about student data privacy and the changes to FERPA in 2011.  Thanks to Education Next for reporting this back in 2013!

Data about Ohio students will flow to the U.S. Department of Education through PARCC, the national test consortium to which Ohio belongs. In return for the money it received from the federal government, PARCC has to provide the U.S, Department of education with its student-level data.  Ohio can do nothing about this as long as it is in a federally-funded national test consortium.  It would have to leave PARCC to block this process of data transfer.

This issue is of personal concern to me.  When I was U.S. Assistant Secretary of Education, the student privacy office was part of my portfolio.  Until December 2011, the U.S. Department of Education interpreted the student privacy protections in the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) strictly, but reasonably.

But in 2011, the Obama administration turned those protections upside down. The Obama administration reinterpreted technical terms and provisions of the law to allow access to student personal data to non-education government agencies and to private vendors and contractors. It removed requirements that parents had to give consent if third-parties were given  access to student personal data. The Obama administration made this change, in large measure, to facilitating workforce planning by government agencies.

We live in a time of concern about abuse of data collection and data management — by the NSA, the IRS, and other agencies. Ohio policymakers should be concerned about the privacy of student personal data and its possible misuse.

To facilitate workforce planning by government agencies… there we have it!  And we thought Hillary Clinton would stop that?  Hell no!  Is Trump involved in this “workforce planning”?  That is the whole point of all that we are seeing in education: Common Core, high-stakes standardized tests, Pathways to Prosperity, all the education technology, the very bad accountability standards, the smoke and mirrors with teachers which are causing more teachers to leave the profession, the educator quick prep programs like Teach For America and Relay Graduate School, personalized learning, competency-based education, and the plethora of companies that are profiting immensely while students do without.  All of these were and are designed to create this workforce of tomorrow.  A plan geared towards tracking and pushing students into certain career paths.  They love to say it is for the greater good, but don’t be fooled!  It is control, pure and simple.  I don’t trust anything going on at the state or federal level.  But I do know a lot of it hinges on the data.  And if these companies are robbed of the opportunity to get private information about students, that is a major monkey wrench in their plans.

In 2015, former Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy was fighting an opt out bill in the First State.  He told the press something to the effect of “It’s the data.  The data is important to us.”  Don’t quote me on that, but it was all about the data.  It was probably the truest thing the guy ever said.  When will we reach the point when we can firmly put this corporate education reform era to bed?  When can educators get the respect they need and our students can learn without being subjected to being nothing more than lab rats for government and corporate agendas?  There is no better time like the present!

There is a petition already out on Change.org to send to President Trump to have Evers appointed as the next United States Secretary of Education.  Please sign the petition NOW!

https://www.change.org/p/president-elect-donald-j-trump-appoint-an-education-secretary-with-integrity

Delaware Audit Investigation Slams Indian River School District For Nepotism, Fraud, Conflict Of Interest, And Personal Spending

Delaware State Auditor Tom Wagner released the Indian River School District Audit Investigation at 2pm today.  The numerous allegations in the report include using facsimile signatures for purchases, the Superintendent receiving gifts in the form of jewelry, the former CFO donating over $50,000 to non-profits where he served as the President of the boards, the business office lying to the auditor about a discrimination lawsuit against the former CFO, incorrect paychecks and salaries for teachers, not following the state rules for accounting, the CFO’s sister-in-law working in the business office, almost $160,000 in payment vouchers that had half for invalid purchases and the other half breaking rules all over the place, possible allegations of the district paying for a board member’s tuition at a Maryland school, many reimbursements to the CFO’s personal American Express Card, over $20,000 on in-state food purchases, the Superintendent buying White House Christmas ornaments, over 20% of certain scholarships given to relatives of board members, and much more.

Indian River has a referendum in five days, on November 22nd.  Do you support this referendum after reading this report?

Updated: 3:02pm, 11/17/16: The Dover Post is reporting the district will hold a press event tomorrow at 10am to discuss the Auditor’s report.  Newsflash, Bunting was mentioned in this report a lot.  She doesn’t get to just walk away and blame everything on Patrick Miller, the former CFO…

Oops! Christina’s NCS Wannabe Middle School Academy Forgot Something BIG In Their Application

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Christiana High School wasted no time getting the application for their controversial “Middle School Academy” out to the public.  The board approved this kind-of-magnet school last week with a 5-1 vote.  The program, slated to start next year with 6th graders, seems to love the word rigor.  Many concerned parents in the district have raised serious questions about potential discrimination and what effect this will have on the already existing middle schools in the district.  One commenter on an earlier article I posted about this said “Honors programs should be down the hall.”  I fully agree with this commenter.  I hate the name of this program.  It reeks of elitism and sounds like something it is pretending to be and wants to be, but really shouldn’t.  It sounds really pretentious and sort of obnoxious.  “My child goes to Middle School Academy”… I can hear it already…

The Christiana Middle School Honors Academy requires a high degree of commitment to academic and extra-curricular activities. Our vision offers selected middle school students the opportunity to become academically accomplished, confident, and well-rounded. Selected students will be educated using a rigorous curriculum focused on developing core knowledge, critical thinking and reasoning skills. This will be accomplished by providing each student with a smaller learning community that builds confidence and knowledge which will enhance their individual high school experience.

Aside from the extra-curricular activities, isn’t that what Common Core was supposed to bring to Delaware education to begin with?  Why is this district using the same boring Governor Markell talking points to sell this program?

But in the application, one of the requirements is for the student’s Smarter Balanced scores.  A quarter of the rubric for the application is weighted toward Smarter Balanced scores.  But here is the elephant in the room… what if the student was opted out of Smarter Balanced by their parents?  Christina has a board policy which states no student shall be penalized if they are opted out of the wretched test.  But this application says nothing about that or gives any indication they would change the formula in that situation.  This could cause students or parents who opted their child out to not apply because of the absence of this information.  As well, who is determining what the placement test will look like?  Has this been approved by the Christina Board of Education?  Is this test used by other schools?  Has this test been vetted and verified for its effectiveness?  If the parent statement is not a part of the rubric, why are they requiring it with the application?  Does the parent statement have any weight on the decision of placement?  Is there a panel who approves the application or just a principal?  What are the qualifications of whoever approves the applications?

Yeah, let’s throw some more controversy gas on an already raging fire!

Governor Carney, Ignore The Rodel Board Member And Listen To Those Who Don’t Profit Off Education

One of the key Rodel Foundation of Delaware board members wrote a letter to the Editor in the News Journal last weekend.  As usual, we see these letters in the News Journal right before some big Vision Coalition Hocus-Pocus.  Of course, this letter appeared two days before the annual Vision Coalition conference.

Rodman Ward III urged newly-elected Governor John Carney to put forth the Vision Coalition’s Student Success 2025 plans in his education policy.  And to pick a Secretary of Education that will incorporate that vision.  Governor Markell has followed the Rodel script for the past eight years.  The only vision provided by this outfit is one that is in desperate need of glasses.  It is corporate education reform at its worst.  Designed to produce magic but we have yet to see the rabbit come out of the hat.  Carney needs to listen to the rest of Delaware.  Rodel didn’t get him elected, the people did.  Rodel isn’t the master of education in Delaware.  They are pretenders, along with the rest of the cash in the trash companies that want to fix education by continually breaking it so they can make more money.  Snake-oil salesmen from the days of old but with a nicer suit and tie.

Dr. Paul Herdman, the CEO of Rodel, makes $350,000.00.  That’s more than anyone in Delaware public education makes.  More than Carney, more than Godowsky, even more than the highest-paid figure: Brandywine Superintendent Dr. Mark Holodick.  Why are we fattening the coffers of the likes of Rodel and their Bill Gates funded buddies across the country?  Isn’t it time to finally put this absolute bullshit to bed once and for all?  Governor Carney: Are you a Rodel Man or a Delaware Man?  You can’t be both.  You need to decide.  The future of Delaware students as well as the future direction of this blog will be determined by your decision.  I have a vision for education: stop having corporations profit off bad education policy that they initiate.

Delaware DOE Continues To Ignore The Voices Of Their Stakeholders

The Delaware Dept. of Education has a very bad habit.  They ignore what the people are telling them.  This is the case with the 2016-2017 Delaware School Success Framework.  Once again, they are incorporating the Smarter Balanced Assessment participation rate as a penalty in the framework.  Even though a majority of their stakeholders in the Measures of School Success ESSA Discussion Group said they don’t want this anymore.  The final regulations from the U.S. Dept. of Education concerning participation rate have not come out yet but ESSA dictates that it is the decision of the states and local education agencies to determine how they handle opt out.  US DOE Secretary of Education John King received a great deal of flack from parents, educators, and citizens with his harsh regulations surrounding accountability.  This also drew the attention of members of Congress who felt King was abusing the authority given to him with ESSA.  The state does NOT have to have a penalty for participation rate.  But the DOE continues to treat ESSA as a penalty-providing opportunity.

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The above picture was taken by one of the members of the Measures of School Success ESSA Discussion Group.  The discussion groups come up with ideas and thoughts on how to improve schools.  For this discussion group, after they have answered all questions, they put three stickers next to their top priorities.  Not having opt out as a penalty in the DSSF and having the school report what may have happened received 8 stickers.  If I remember this meeting correctly, there were only about half the members in attendance.  So for this to get 8 priority stickers, that is huge.  But the Delaware DOE ignores this.

Last year, when the Accountability Framework Working Group convened to decide on the final version of the DSSF, they came up with the same idea which was a valid option from the US DOE.  It looked like that was going to go through until Governor Markell stuck his nose into it and directed Secretary Godowsky to proceed with the opt out penalty.  Even though Markell will end his reign as Governor and is moving onto bigger and better things, like performing in the Nutcracker, the DOE continues his very bad education policy.

Last night, I had an interview with Education Week.  They reached out to me due to my role on the Student and School Supports ESSA Discussion Group.  I won’t spoil the interview, but there was discussion around what the true role of “stakeholder input” is with Delaware’s ESSA plan.  Many feel that we are just placards in the process and the Delaware DOE will do what it damn well pleases.  This latest version of the DSSF just reinforces that thought.

Incoming Delaware Governor John Carney: you really need to put the brakes on the DOE Accountability Machine!  The DOE needs to listen to their stakeholders more than Rodel!

What Is Up With Prestige Academy?

A few weeks ago, I put up an article about Prestige Academy folding into EastSide Charter School’s mini-empire.  I received this information from someone who has always been a very reliable source of information.  This person earned their stripes.  Since then, I have heard nothing on this.  Not one peep.  Today, at the Delaware State Board of Education meeting, the Charter School Office will give their monthly charter school update.  According to this update, Prestige Academy will still close this year.  At the beginning of October, I broke the news that Prestige’s Board of Directors wrote a letter to the Delaware Dept. of Education which stated they would not pursue the renewal of their charter and would close at the end of this school year.

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So what happened?  Got me!  Many things could have happened: the original plan of the school closing (which looks reasonable at this point) will go through, my source got really bad information, or this merger with EastSide could still go through but they are holding their cards at this point in time.  EastSide swooped in at the last-minute and probably saved Family Foundations Academy from closing down at the beginning of 2015.  When it comes to Delaware charter schools and the Delaware DOE, you never know what deals are cooking behind closed doors.  I welcome any confirmation on what could be going on here or if, indeed, my source got bad information.  Like I said, this source is very reliable.

State Rep. Charles Potter Undermines Deal That Could Have Turned Baynard Stadium Into Something Wilmington Can Be Proud Of

A Potter’s field is a graveyard for the unwanted and the indigent.  It is the final resting place for the unwanted of society.  Delaware State Rep. Charles Potter thwarted a deal that could have renovated Baynard Stadium into something children could really enjoy.  Instead, he convinced Wilmington City Council to stop a deal with Salesianum, a Delaware private school, into donating $20 million dollars to make the Wilmington municipal recreational area into a state of the art facility.  Why?

The Delaware News Journal wrote an editorial on this very odd move of a State Representative yesterday.

In the “Save Baynard Stadium” email sent Nov. 11, Potter rallied constituents to oppose the Salesianum offer, saying “To give control of the stadium to a private school, which would then control and determine the athletic playing schedule for field use could place public school children, youth groups and community groups at a disadvantage, for a minimum of 50 years. I do not believe that it is in the best interests of the children in the city of Wilmington to have their future athletic extracurricular options determined by a private school.”

However, as the News Journal pointed out, this was already part of the proposal by Salesianum.  They would have accounted for all of Potter’s concerns in the plan he should have actually read and understood.  Wilmington needs a lot of help, so why kill a deal that would have benefited the city immensely?  While boasting about securing $200,000 for new bleachers at the stadium, he undermined a deal that would have given the park $20 million dollars.  Why?

There is no question that any deal between Salesianum and the city would have had to clearly state usage parameters that were beneficial for all parties. And we firmly believe such parameters were already on paper. But then Mr. Potter fumbled the $20 million ball.

I hope Potter’s fumble didn’t ruin any chance Baynard Stadium has of getting a deal like this in the future.  As someone who writes all the time about the dangers of corporate interference in education, this deal was harmless.  It would have benefited the City of Wilmington and the children who use this park.  In reading the editorial, it seems more a matter of ego for Potter instead of doing the right thing for kids.  And yet I don’t see Potter doing much to stop real corporate interference in education.  I just don’t get it.  How is saving a municipal park that is already rundown and turning it into something better justifiable in any possible way?

That’s what Salesianum School was planning to spend on renovating the stadium. That’s $20 million in private donations.

Not user fees.

Not tax increases.

Just private donations.

Thumbs down of the week to Rep. Potter… bad form…