March Shuffle 1.0

It’s the last day of the month, so readers will only see one music shuffle this month.  Given the article I posted earlier today, it is obvious music had a huge influence on my own life.  I developed that love at an early age.  I was always involved with music in some way going to school, whether it was choir or theater.  I took piano lessons until 5th grade and even tried the drums and trumpet during middle school.  You really don’t want to hear what my trumpet days sounded like!

“My Favorite Game”, The Cardigans: One of my favorite songs from 1999.  This reminds me of when I went back to visit Sweden that year.  It was my first time back in nearly two years and I had no clue what to expect.  The Cardigans, of course, are from Sweden.

“D’yer Maker”, Led Zeppelin: Back in the 1980s, I got into Led Zeppelin as a young teenager.  If you were “cool”, you dug Zeppelin.  I almost pretended to like a lot of their stuff.  It wasn’t until I was much older that I truly appreciated the band.  I always liked this song though!

“Follow You Follow Me”, Genesis: One of my all-time favorite songs.  This was one of Phil Collin’s first big songs he had vocals on after Peter Gabriel left the band.  When I was a kid, I believed in true love and that all you have to do is say certain things and it would be reciprocated.  Love is a lot more complicated than that.

“Every Breath You Take”, The Police: Most people might not be aware, but this isn’t a song about love and romance.  It’s about a guy actually stalking a woman.  Kind of creepy when you look at it from that angle.  But it was the biggest song in the Summer of ’83 as well as the biggest song from The Police.  That fame eventually led to the band breaking up and lead singer Sting getting his own solo career.  I liked a girl in 8th grade and this song reminded me of her.  Of course, back then I thought it was a song about love.  Such is life as a teenager!

“(Don’t Fear) The Reaper”, Blue Oyster Cult: Another song that kind of creeps me out but I love.  This was the song that played at the beginning of “Stephen King’s The Stand” mini-series from 1994 as a virus is released that eventually kills most of the population.  The survivors are either on the side of “good” or “evil”.  Darkness is always overcome by light.

“Tomorrow People”, Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers: When Bob Marley died, many fans never thought they would hear his voice again.  In the late 80s, his son Ziggy showed the world that Bob Marley was alive and well with his voice.  It also reminds me of graduating high school because the song came out around that time.

“The Journey To The Grey Havens”, Howard Shore: I am a Tolkien geek and proud to say it.  The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings will always be favorites of mine.  Howard Shore’s music to the LOTR trilogy was perfect and fit each scene perfectly.  By the time The Return of the King came out in December of 2003, I had already scheduled time off at work to see the movie on opening day.  Shore’s music for the last 20% or so of the film is constantly on my shuffle.

“Parting Words”, Michael Giacchino: The season finale of the first season of LOST will always stand out for me.  Giacchino and the orchestra created a beautiful score as Michael, Walt, Jin and Sawyer prepare to leave the island on a raft.  Farewells were said and a husband and wife parted ways.  Between the epic score and the beautiful scenery of the beach and the great silhouettes of various characters, it was one of the highlights of the show.  Another keeper on my shuffle list.

“Until She Comes”, Psychedelic Furs: From the band’s last studio album in 1991, their first single was one for the ages.  Butler’s moody vocals combined with the guitar and drums in the song created a classic song.  I was dating someone at the time for over a year and a half.  Things were good at that time.

“Drawn To The Blood”, Sufjan Stevens: I just heard this song a few months ago.  During one of the darkest and scariest weekends of my life.  I won’t go into details, but this song perfectly hit how I felt that weekend.

“Into The Mystic”, Van Morrison: “Let your soul and spirit fly into the mystic.”  One of the most beautiful songs ever written, musically and lyrically.  This is quintessential Van Morrison here folks.  If you’ve never listened to this song, I urge you to seek it out now.  I consider this one of those songs that always soothes my soul no matter how much that soul seems to be lost or scared.

“And The Cradle Will Rock”, Van Halen: The rowdy screams of David Lee Roth intertwined with Eddie Van Halen’s sliding guitar riffs in this song make it a classic.  “Have you seen Junior’s grades?”  An anthem for the rockers of the early 1980s!

“Fix You”, Yellowcard: The band’s remake of the Coldplay single is much better than the original in my humble opinion.  I spent many years trying to fix something I didn’t think I could replace.  I was wrong.  Don’t get me wrong, I tried.  But some things just can’t be fixed no matter how hard we try.  It is a humbling realization when you finally understand this.

“Chapter 12 Verse 5”, Henry Jackman and Dominic Lewis: Earlier this month, I watched the first two seasons of “The Man In The High Castle”.  I don’t binge-watch shows that much, but from the first episode of this series I was hooked.  This piece was done very early on in the series at a pivotal moment for one of the characters.  Trust is a tricky thing when your back is against the wall and it can be very easy to be fooled.

“Underneath the Sycamore”, Death Cab For Cutie: I listened to this song all the time in the Summer of 2011.  I would drive my son to summer camp in the morning and pop this song in along with many other songs and sing on the way to work at the top of my lungs!

“Under Pressure”, Queen and David Bowie: It is hard for me to pick my absolute favorite song of all time.  There are a few contenders for that position.  This is one of them.  Everything about this song makes it the best.  Queen lead singer Freddie Mercury and David Bowie are in perfect synch and melody with each other.  But the lyrics, the damn lyrics get me every single time. “Cause love’s such an old-fashioned word and love dares you to care for the people on the edge of the night.  And love dares you to change our way of caring about ourselves.  This is our last dance, this is ourselves under pressure.”  The world will never have musical gold quite as good as this.

“All This Time”, Sting: I am going nuts with the awesome songs coming up on this shuffle!  This first single from “The Soul Cages” in 1991 hooked me from the first time I heard it.  I must have played this song a thousand times in the first few months the album came out.  Mixing history and a relationship between a son and his father along with religious verses is something only a singer like Sting could do. “Teachers told us, the Romans built this place.  They built a wall and a temple at an edge of the empire garrison town.  They lived and they died.  They prayed to their gods but the stone gods did not make a sound.  And their empire crumbled and all that was left were the stones the work men found.  All this time, the river flowed.”  How much of what we do will make a difference in a thousand years?  What will we be remembered for, if anything?

“A Gift Of A Thistle”, James Horner: In the movie “Braveheart”, William Wallace’s father dies when he is a young boy.  At his funeral, the boy is lost in his grief.  He knows his life will never be the same again.  He can’t find comfort anywhere.  A little girl, recognizing this, picks a thistle from the ground and gives it to young Wallace.  This tender scene, as Wallace lets the tears flow down his cheek, is the birth of love.  When he returned to his home after many years away, the first thing he did was find that little girl and profess his love to her.  A hand that reaches out can have ramifications that span decades.  Never be afraid to offer comfort to those who are lost and alone.  Many of us have been right where Wallace was at that moment.  But how many have taken on the role of the little girl?

“The Dead Heart”, Midnight Oil: History is filled with subjugation and discrimination.  For the original natives of Australia, this was the story for the Aborigines.  Like Native-Americans in our own country, it took a long time for the native inhabitants of the smallest continent to gain acceptance and respect by the invading white man.  Peter Garrett, the lead singer of Midnight Oil, was very active in helping to make this happen.  He also went into politics and fought for the rights of the Aborigines.  Nothing but respect for those who are forced to leave their land by an invading force!

“All Right”, Toad the Wet Sprocket: I love b-sides to singles.  In the days of digital mp3s and iTunes, the b-side is a lost relic of a bygone age.  This was one of Toad’s b-sides back in 1992.  I didn’t find it until 1995 when the band released a compilation of their b-sides and hidden tracks.  It quickly became one of my favorites from the band.

“Rise”, Eddie Vedder: One of my favorite books and movies from the 00’s was “Into The Wild” by Jon Krakauer.  Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder provided the soundtrack to the film.  Have you ever just gone for a hike by yourself, into the wilderness, and allowed yourself to be surrounded by the vastness and beauty of it all?  I have.  You just want to get away from the world and see the beauty of it for yourself.

“I Got A Name”, Jim Croce: This song always reminds me of my earliest years.  I’m not sure why.  Perhaps I heard it when the song was released in the mid 1970s.  Never be afraid to sing your song.  Don’t be afraid to speak, even when the world doesn’t want you to.  It is your inherent right to speak about things.  Doesn’t always guarantee you will be heard, but for those who want to hear you, they will listen.

“Tequila Sunrise”, The Eagles: Country rock.  It’s the best way to describe the magic that was The Eagles in the 1970s.  The California band told the stories you didn’t read about in the newspaper.  They were the simple stories about love lost, heavy drinking, and the idiosyncrasies of man.  The late Glenn Frey sang his heart out on the song about the morning after.

“The People Who Grinned Themselves To Death”, The Housemartins: I’m not one to follow the crowd.  I don’t always subscribe to the “popular” view.  Usually that view tends to have a price.  That view is often brought about by politicians who are following the will of lobbyists who serve corporations.  The end result is the people having something taken away from them in some way as the companies make more and more money.  It takes time to see through the smoke and mirrors, but once you do it is hard to look away.  For myself, it is even harder not to act on it and point it out so others can see as well.

 

 

 

 

Breaking News Shocker: Board Member Resigns From Christina Board of Education

A Christina School District Board of Education member unexpectedly resigned from the board.  Which one? Continue reading “Breaking News Shocker: Board Member Resigns From Christina Board of Education”

Red Clay Schools Continue To Openly Defy Their Own Board of Education With Opt Out Threats

I sent the following email to the entire Red Clay Consolidated School District Board of Education and Dr. Merv Daugherty, the Superintendent of the district.  I am posting the email because I have heard similar complaints from parents several times since the Smarter Balanced Assessment came out in 2015.  What is the point of having a policy if the schools ignore it?

Ron Russo Lost Me With Jeb Bush, I Think I’m Going To “Go Home”!

Ron Russo, a senior fellow at the right-leaning Caesar Rodney Institute, wrote a blog post yesterday with a BOLD PLAN for Delaware schools.  By even mentioning former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and the Foundation for Excellence in Education in the very first sentence, it was hard to lend any credibility to this piece.  But I read the whole thing out of morbid curiosity.

…Governor Jeb Bush, the keynote speaker, told the attendees that they had to, “Be big, be bold, or go home.”

I would have left at that point and proudly went home.  Jeb Bush has made a ton of money capitalizing off the backs of schools and students.  He is the very essence of corporate education reform.  I give anything he says zero weight.

Russo seems to view former Red Clay Consolidated Board President William Manning as the Messiah of Delaware education:

He recommended a confederation of independent schools each locally managed and free of regulations about who to hire and how to teach.  The schools would be evaluated only by performance data that would be shared with the public.

Manning’s vision created charter schools that do not serve the populations within their district boundaries.  Quite a few Delaware charters have selective enrollment preferences that seem to further segregation and push out kids with high needs.  Manning was the lead attorney in the lawsuit against the Christina School District when charters that serve Christina students sued the district to get more money per student.  Eventually the lawsuit wound up becoming a settlement that further stripped funds away from the district.  Russo’s BOLD PLAN is modeled after the original charter school bill, Senate Bill 200:

The Caesar Rodney Institute is supporting a systemic change to our education bureaucracy called the “BOLD PLAN”.  It significantly alters the way the current education system operates by empowering the individual schools to make operational decisions to best serve their students.

In theory, this would be a great idea.  However, Russo lost me yet again when he brought up the VERY controversial priority schools as a potential model for this plan:

CRI’s BOLD PLAN incorporates the best features of the 1995 Charter School Law and the Memorandum of Understanding designed by Delaware’s DOE for Priority Schools.  If the changes proposed in the MOU were expected to raise the performance of the state’s lowest performing schools, why wouldn’t those changes be offered to all public schools?

Sorry Ron, but the priority school Memorandums of Understanding were absolutely horrible and did more to create parent backlash in Wilmington than anything seen before.  So what would this plan consist of?  Therein lies the rub:

BOLD legislation would specify areas of local decision-making.  Such areas would include: 1) Authority to hire and dismiss all staff; 2) All programing inputs (school calendar, schedule, curriculum aligned to Delaware standards, instructional practices and methodology, textbooks, technology, etc.); 3) Marketing and planning; 4) Support services including transportation, food, and maintenance; 5) Budget preparation and expenditure control with surplus operating funds retained by the school.  Schools will have autonomy from any district or Delaware DOE requirements not mandated by state or federal law.

This legislation has more holes than a donut shop.

  1. What happens if the board membership or the Superintendent of the district is not operating under normal parameters of their function?  What if personal grudges get in the way of a sound decision to hire or dismiss all staff?  Delaware is a small state and conflicts of interest are well-known in this state.
  2. You lost me at “Delaware standards”.  If you truly want to give local education authorities the coveted local control, they would be free to set their own curriculum without being tied to any type of standard pushed down from the state or federal government.  I have yet to see any indication Delaware will get rid of Common Core which was created under false pretenses.
  3. Don’t they already do this anyway?
  4. See #3
  5. That would not be a good thing.  Delaware charter schools already keep their surplus transportation funds in a sweetheart deal with the General Assembly and there is no apparatus to make sure those funds are being used with fidelity.  What is the point of even having a district or charter board if the school can do whatever it wants with extra money?  This proposal sounds like anarchy.

Russo’s logic becomes even more confusing when he casually drops the Rodel Visionfests and Race To The Top into his conversation:

The BOLD PLAN complements Delaware’s other education improvement efforts (Visions, Races, etc.).  In fact, it may even complete them.

I don’t think completion of those plans is something anyone in Delaware really wants.  Race To The Top was an unmitigated disaster with funds going to the state Department of Education more than local school districts.  The Vision Coalition goals further perpetuate many bad corporate education reform policies.  It is hard to take anything they do seriously when the CEO of the Rodel Foundation of Delaware, Dr. Herdman, makes over $345,000 a year.

Ironically, Russo channels Dan Rich who has been very involved with the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission’s proposed Wilmington redistricting.  But Russo doesn’t bring him up in any way related to that endeavor but rather his involvement with the Vision Coalition:

At the very first Vision 2015 meeting hosted by Dan Rich, then Provost of the University of Delaware, he ended the meeting by telling the attendees that if they wanted to improve Delaware’s public schools they had to be bold and, if they didn’t want to be bold, they should get out.  Hmmmm, it seems that Dan was way ahead of Jeb.

Comparing Rich to Jeb Bush almost seems insulting.  Of course, any education push should be bold.  But by telling people if you don’t like it to “get out” or “go home” it is essentially saying if you don’t agree with us we won’t give you the time of day.  That is NOT the way education issues should be ironed out and only creates more of a divide.  The Delaware charter school experiment, now well into it’s third decade, has met with very mixed results.  It has not been the rousing success the forefathers of the original legislation thought it would be.  Why would Delaware even entertain this idea based on that?  And lest we forget, all this imaginary “success” is based on standardized test scores, of which Delaware has gone through three different state assessments since then.  Sorry Ron, but this is not a BOLD PLAN.  It is an old plan, that just plain doesn’t work.

I have to wonder about the timing of this article.  The Caesar Rodney Institute has long been a fierce supporter of school vouchers.  Delaware has been very resistant to that system under Democrat control but under the Trump administration and the appointment of Betsy DeVos as the U.S. Secretary of Education, it is not surprising to see Russo coming out with this type of article.  President Trump and DeVos want a federal school voucher system that has already met with disappointing results in several states.

What Happened To Sean Moore’s March 2nd Sentencing?

Former Family Foundations Academy charter school leader Sean Moore was supposed to receive a federal sentencing for his role in embezzlement of school funds.  Nothing of record shows up anywhere.  This is very puzzling.  Why wouldn’t Moore have been sentenced?  I received an anonymous tip a couple of months ago that suggested Moore may have cut a deal with the authorities.  Who these authorities may have been is unknown or what the nature of the deal was.  Moore was charged by the federal government so any deal would have been with the feds.

If Moore did cut a deal which would be unrelated to education, many Delaware citizens would be VERY upset.  This was a man who was charged with looking out for the best interests of children.  With a documented amount of over $160,000 stolen from the school, it is painfully obvious Moore had his own best interests in mind.  When the allegations first came to light, many parents from the school refused to believe the leader would ever do this, but when it was revealed he did abscond with money meant for kids, parents were disgusted.  This was just one of a few Delaware charter schools that came under the spotlight for this sort of thing but it had the biggest profile in the media.  If Moore did get a sentencing, it should be public knowledge.  He could have faced up to 30 years for his crimes in federal prison.

This saga has dragged out for years.  It finally came to light in December of 2014 during the school’s charter renewal.  Moore and fellow school leader Dr. Tennell Brewington were terminated.  Other members of the board resigned and eventually the board was reconstructed with new members.  The school entered a partnership with East Side Charter School which is now under the umbrella called Vision Academies.  Family Foundations recently changed its name to The Charter School of New Castle.

Exclusion of Music & The Arts In Delaware’s ESSA Plan Results In Awesome Letter To Delaware Legislators

The Delaware Music Educators Association sent a letter to every single member of the Delaware General Assembly earlier this week urging the Delaware Dept. of Education to include certain recommendations in the final draft of their Consolidated State Plan for the Every Student Succeeds Act.  Members of the organization felt their pleas for inclusion in the state plan were ignored.  Last night at the final Delaware Governor’s ESSA Advisory Committee meeting, the head of the organization gave public comment.  He wished Delaware would include music and the arts in their accountability system.  The Delaware DOE will submit their final plan to Governor Carney for signature on Monday, April 3rd.  Below is the letter sent to the Delaware lawmakers.

Every summer, members of each state’s Music Educators Associations convene in Washington, DC to discuss matters of advocacy, share visions for the future of music education, and speak with our elected members of Congress regarding these issues.  In June of 2014, members of the Delaware Music Educators Association (DMEA), in conjunction with the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) and other state Music Educators Associations, helped to successfully lobby members of Congress to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, putting an end to the era of No Child Left Behind. This was a major victory for education—specifically music education. Some of the most important provisions of the Every Student Succeeds Act for music education include:

  • A New and Clear Intent to Support Our Nation’s Schools Through a Well-Rounded Education: This is a change from NCLB, which focused heavily on the academic success of students narrowly defined as reading and math only.  
  • Enumeration of Music as a Well-Rounded Subject: Replacing the Core Academic Subject language from NCLB, this language clearly articulates that music should be a part of every child’s education, no matter their personal circumstance.  
  • Requirements for Well-Rounded Education: Schools will now be able to assess their ability to provide a well-rounded education–including music–and address any deficiencies using federal funds.  All Title I programs, both schoolwide and targeted, are now available to provide supplemental funds for a well-rounded education, including music.  
  • More Professional Development for Music Educators: Funds from Titles I, II and IV of ESSA, may support professional development for music educators as part of supporting a well-rounded education.  
  • Flexible Accountability Systems: States must now include multiple progress measures in assessing school performance, which can include such music education friendly measures as student engagement, parental engagement, and school culture/climate.  
  • Protection from “Pull Outs”: The new ESSA discourages removing students from the classroom, including music and arts, for remedial instruction. 

When the Delaware Department of Education began to draft its plan for the ESSA, it seemed that music and arts educators in the state would finally have a voice in helping to build a framework for ensuring that all of Delaware’s students had access to a well-rounded education.  Sadly, that does not seem to be the case.

During the second revision of the DDOE ESSA, a survey was created to allow for public feedback regarding the state’s plan. DMEA reviewed the document and was discouraged to find that the arts–specifically music–were referenced only once throughout the entire plan. Utilizing the online survey, members of DMEA, art educators, parents, and community members voiced their concerns to the DDOE, urging them to consider what a truly “well-rounded” education might look like for Delaware students.  With the release of the final draft of the DDOE ESSA plan, it appears that feedback has fallen on deaf ears.  Not one suggestion made by the DMEA, Delaware educators, or parents found its way into the revision.

Also discouraging is Delaware’s lack of inclusion of the arts in its ESSA plan despite such inclusion by other states. Some examples of the importance other states are placing on music include:

  • Michigan includes “Time Spent in Fine Arts, Music, and Physical Education” as an indicator of school quality or student success as part of their accountability system. 
  • New Jersey collects and reports on student access to and participation in the arts as part of a school district’s report card. 
  • Iowa addresses a “well-rounded education” for its students, citing music as a required subject for grades K-8 and requires students in grades 9-12 to have three courses in the arts.  Additionally, the state lists the Iowa Music Educators Association (IMEA) as representatives on the Well-Rounded Issue Specific forum and names the IMEA as stakeholders.
  • Idaho cites music and arts programs as allowable expenditures for Title IV-A funds and goes on to say “Exposure to the arts is an important component of a well-rounded education. As such, LEAs may establish or expand arts education through the purchase or rental of instruments for underserved populations that provide unique music opportunities for those who have not been exposed to music education.”
  • Addressing Title IV funding, Tennessee states: “It is imperative that students have access to coursework and activities that interest them. We heard from hundreds of parents and educators how critical the arts and music, health and wellness, sports and clubs are in a student’s development, as well as supporting students’ academic interests and lifelong learning.”

As an organization with a vested interest in the success of students, DMEA is insisting that music and the arts be included in the DDOE ESSA as a mandatory means to attaining a well-rounded music education. We want to be represented in ESSA, and we need our feedback on the second draft to be considered as ESSA is finalized. Without requiring the presence of music and arts education in Delaware schools, we are certain this Act will fall short of Delaware student needs and hinder the future generations to come.

The Delaware Department of Education, the public-school teachers and administrators, and the citizens of the state of Delaware all have a solemn obligation to our children—our future—to educate them as best we can.  However, education does not stop at survival skills and those things that are “easy” to measure.  It also includes “living skills” and those things not so easy to measure. Math, Science, ELA, and History are all very necessary for our sons and daughters to live and survive, but music, poetry, art, dance, and theatre are what they LIVE for. An ESSA plan from Delaware that does not include those is a document that is negligent.  The Delaware Music Educators Association is more than willing to sit at the table with the Delaware Department of Education to help find ways of ensuring that music and the arts are an inclusive part of our students’ educational experience.

 

 

Sincerely,

 

Clint Williams, DMEA President

Daniel Briggs, DMEA President-Elect

Cera Babb, DMEA Advocacy Chair

Thomas Dean, DMEA Advocacy Committee

Opt Out Wins Big In Delaware

After more than two years of the Delaware Dept. of Education holding an opt out penalty against Delaware schools, the moment of victory for advocates of opting out of the state standardized test came in a big way last night.  Not with a bang, but what appeared to be a conciliatory moment for the Delaware DOE.

At the final meeting of the Governor’s ESSA Advisory Committee last evening, the group met for what appears to be the last time before the DOE submits their Consolidated State Plan to the United States Dept. of Education.  The DOE acknowledged they have no idea what to expect in regards to approval of their plan by the feds.  Deputy Secretary of Education Karen Field Rogers stated they knew what to expect from the feds under the Obama Administration but under new U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos they are in unchartered territory.

For advocates of opt out, an unexpected but meaningful change to the Delaware School Success Framework, the Delaware accountability system, signaled a clear shift in thinking from the Department.  Under the former framework, if a school went below 95% participation rate for the Smarter Balanced Assessment or other state assessments, an opt-out penalty would kick in.  Schools could have their final accountability rating lowered if the opt out penalty kicked in.

The opt out penalty saga began over two years ago, under former Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy.  At that time, the very controversial House Bill 50 was raging through the Delaware legislature.  The bill would have codified a parent’s fundamental and constitutional right to opt their child out of the state assessment.  The bill passed in both houses of the General Assembly but the corporate education reform leaning Governor Jack Markell vetoed the bill.  Shortly after, the Accountability Framework Working Group recommended not going ahead with the opt out penalty in the framework but were overturned by Markell and the new Delaware Secretary of Education Dr. Steven Godowsky.  When Delaware began working on the state plan for the Every Student Succeeds Act, the opt out penalty remained.  Even though advocates spoke out against it, many did not predict the Department would remove it.  But under Governor Carney and current Delaware Secretary of Education Dr. Susan Bunting, there appears to be a change in thinking.

Field Rogers said the penalty is gone and they will be going with the recommendations from the AFWG, whereby a school must submit a letter to the Department on how they will work to get the participation rate back up to 95%.   She did mention that if they see the same schools with high opt out rates a few years in a row that they may seek “interventions” for those schools but nothing was specifically named.

To see the final Delaware ESSA plan, please see below.  There might be some tweaks here and there based on the final meeting last night, but for the most part, this is it.  I’ve heard quiet rumors concerning the Smarter Balanced Assessment in Delaware.  We could see a change in that area but nothing official has been announced.  We shall see…

 

The Parent Bill Of Rights For Education

Exceptional Delaware 2017

Since the Center for American Progress, Delaware Governor Jack Markell, and the President of the National PTA want to get 10,000 signatures on their Testing Bill of Rights within the next month, I think it is only fair parents who opt their children out of high-stakes assessments do the same.  With that being said, this article needs 20,000 commenters, or official signatures, within the next month.  We need to tell these corporate education reformers: NO MORE!  If we get 50,000, even better.

Our parental bill of rights regarding opt out or refusing the test bill of rights will be a work in progress, morphing and changing based on the need.  We will make sure every single legislator and decision-maker as it pertains to education in our country has a copy of this.  Parents and guardians are the stewards of our children, not corporations and politicians.  They are not “your” property.  They are unique…

View original post 1,509 more words

New Beginnings From Yesteryears

Twelve years ago I had a big idea.  It was a monstrous and colossal idea.  So big I couldn’t begin it.  When I first had the big idea, I began to map it out.  I knew much of the who, what, when, where and why.  It was the how that was killing me.  It would be my magnum opus for the world or at least a few readers.  Either way, I knew I had to do it.  I would revisit my idea over the years, continuing the map.  Five years ago, I wrote the prologue and the first chapter.  I haven’t been back since.  This little thing called education got in the way.

The past few weeks, I’ve been thinking about my big idea.  I’m not getting any younger and if I’m ever going to do it, now would be an ideal time.  There are three main sources of inspiration for this, from three areas of my life I have enjoyed since a child: music, tv, and comic books.  For the musical inspiration, one line from a Wallflowers song planted the idea.  The television show Lost, which ran from 2004-2010, germinated the seed.  And finally, my literary muse, the one and only Neil Gaiman, was the one who showed me that even the most random of characters can hold great importance later.

I proudly present “1000 Lives”.  The prologue will give the theme of how this works.  And then… well, you will just have to wait.  It will be so epic that I can’t do it on this blog.  So I have to start a new one.  But Exceptional Delaware will continue as well.  Two blogs, at no price to you the reader.  Please follow “1000 Lives” as it will be completely separate from this blog.  If it isn’t your cup of tea, don’t worry about it.  If it is, spread the word.  This is a fictional story with pieces of real life thrown in for good measure.  I’ve met many people in my forty-six years of life so don’t be surprised at many inspirations spread throughout this online novel.

I invite you on a journey like no other.  I’m not sure if this has ever been attempted before.  If not, look for something very original.  Most stories have a beginning, middle, and an ending.  This story’s beginning starts at the end of one story while opening up many more.

Here is the link to 1000 Lives.

Carney’s Budget Reset Will Put The Hurt On School Districts, Charters And Citizens Of Delaware

Delaware Governor John Carney released his FY2018 Budget “Reset”.  He is calling for a ton of cuts across Delaware programs as well as increase revenue by increasing taxes.  The extremely wealthy won’t get the tax increases many have been calling for in this proposed budget.  But property owners will feel it.  Here comes the Delaware sink hole!

In education, the match tax will switch over to the local side, to be raised by school boards without a referendum.  Which is all well and good if you don’t own property.  But if you do, expect to pay more in school taxes.  As well, $15 million will be cut from district and charter operation budgets doled out by the state.  I don’t see the funding for basic special education for students in Kindergarten to 3rd grade but I see $4.7 million more for early childhood education.  We poured $18 million into that last year.  I don’t see any proposed cuts to the Department of Education even though Carney ran around during his campaign saying he was going to streamline the Department.  Carney is allowing for $25.1 million for new teachers and $1 million for his “opportunity grants”.  $22 million would be cut from the education sustainment fund (thus the district boards getting to get more school taxes without a referendum like they do with the tuition tax).

In the below document, we see absolutely nothing about marijuana revenue or an increase to the gax tax.  But smokers will be gouged another buck a pack.  The retirement age for additional personal credit will rise from 60 to 65 while all senior citizens will see their Senior Citizen Property Credit reduced by a hundred dollars.

I get that you have to make up for a $385 million dollar deficit by making cuts but it is important to know how we got there.  Former Governor Jack Markell came on board as the Great Recession of 2008 spread its wings.  After that, Markell just spent and spent and spent without really getting enough revenue to stick around in the state.  Our population grew as special education services grew at a much higher rate.  Something disability communities have been saying will happen for years.   I am not a big fan of this budget proposal.  Carney, like his predecessor, refuses to make the rich pay more.  I don’t see a lot of “shared sacrifice” going on here.  If it was truly shared, it would hurt everyone.  To someone making a million bucks a year, a nominal increase in taxes isn’t going to hurt them as much as it will to a family living off $30,000 a year.  Granted, this is assuming the General Assembly approves this and the budget deficit stays the same.  It could (and I predict it will) increase between now and June 30th.

I don’t envy Carney.  He inherited most of this from Markell.  But with all his “coffee klatches” as the folks over at Delaware Liberal call them, I would have expected something a lot more different than what Markell gave us back in January.  I’ve told Carney’s people exactly what he needs to do in terms of education funding.  The response from them?  Crickets.  They hear me out and then nothing.  Just because I haven’t written as much about district and charter funding shenanigans doesn’t mean it hasn’t been foremost in my mind.  I was counting on the new administration to do the right thing here.  Looks like I’m going to have to do this the hard way and start REALLY ticking people off.

Anatomy of a Betrayal

Save Maine Schools

In 2015, the heads of the National Education Association (NEA), received an invitation from a newly formed group known as “Convergence” to attend a series of meetings sponsored, in part, by the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative.

When Becky Pringle, Vice President of the NEA, looked at the list of attendees, she thought to herself, “I don’t think so – and by the way don’t take any pictures or tweet it out or I won’t be sittin’ here next year!”

But within only a few months, the presidents of both major teachers unions had signed their names to a document, along with representatives from Samsung, Microscoft, LEGO, Disney, and a variety of corporate-sponsored foundations, that all but pledges to do away with the very professionals the unions claim to protect.

The document reads like a promotional handbook for the decades long push toward “personalized,” competency-based learning, which puts a child and their…

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Exceptional Delaware Proudly Endorses Ashley Sabo For Red Clay School Board

I’ve been a fan of Ashley Sabo going on a year and a half now.  Oddly enough, I first “met” her through a Rodel-Vision conference on Twitter!  Life is funny like that.  But Sabo represents the very best of what a school board member can offer.  She is a compassionate mom and wife, very involved with the community, attends most of the Red Clay board meetings and has for a very long time, gives public comment, is a CASA officer in Delaware (helping out kids in foster parent situations), was very involved in Red Clay’s inclusion policy, and fully supports the most fundamental and crucial of parental rights when it comes to education.

I’ve met and spoken with Sabo many times and she is one of those who just gets it.  She understands that far too many of the bad education policy in Delaware, as well as America, is not good for students.  I wish I lived in Red Clay so I could vote for her, but I strongly encourage all Red Clay Consolidated School District citizens to vote for Sabo on May 9th.

The Red Clay Education Association voted to endorse Sabo for Red Clay’s Board of Education in the upcoming election.  As the largest school district in the state, this is a huge endorsement for Sabo!

Some of the posts on her Facebook candidate page clearly illustrate why she should get your vote in Red Clay!

A year ago I made public comment at the board meeting about the need for more play and hands on learning in kindergarten. I still firmly believe kids, and not just kindergarteners, benefit from LESS rigor – fewer worksheets, less time at their desk – and MORE active learning – greater time using play to learn, more hands on activities. We need to help instil the LOVE of learning in kids!

For the past 3 years I have attended the majority of board meetings, making public comment when issues arose that needed to be addressed. I have attended countless committee meetings working tirelessly to ensure that decisions the district makes benefit all students. I have met with teachers on my own time to hear their concerns about different topics.

I am involved as a parent and will be even more involved as an elected board member.

As a parent of a high schooler in general education classes with no supports, an elementary student in a general education classroom with supports and a paraprofessional and a youngster who would love if there were more pre-k programs I have a wide variety of experience in the world of education.

BUT…. I am not a teacher. They are the ones working tirelessly for our children and they are the ones greatly affected by policy changes. I value their experience and knowledge.

I am committed to listening to our educators – making decisions that not only benefit all students but also help teachers spend more time teaching and less time navigating policy changes and paperwork.

I am beyond thankful for the wonderful teachers in my life and my children’s’ lives.

Next week, there will be a “Meet The Candidate Night” at Café Napoli Restaurant and Pizzeria at 4391 Kirkwood Hwy, in Wilmington on Wednesday, March 29th from 7pm to 9pm.

 

New Christina Superintendent To Start In Mid-April While Board Passes First Read Of Safety Zone Policy

The Christina School District Board of Education had a big night last night!  They approved new Superintendent Richard Gregg’s contract which means he will begin his leadership of the district beginning April 18th.  Meanwhile, the board unanimously approved the first read of their safety zone policy which failed to get enough votes last month as a resolution.

The district put out a press release today with more information about Gregg:

The Christina School District Board of Education voted to approve the superintendent contract for Richard L. Gregg during its regular March Board meeting. Gregg’s effective start date will be April 18, 2017.

Richard L. Gregg most recently served as Assistant Superintendent for the Penn-Delco School District in Aston, Pennsylvania, a position he has held since 2015. In that position, he was responsible for district-wide curriculum and instruction, assessment, special education, professional development, and technology integration. He also oversaw the district budget and supervised administrative staff. His experience also includes serving as principal of Penncrest High School in Media, Pennsylvania, and as Director of Instruction for New Castle County Vocational Technical School District in Delaware. He has served as principal of Brandywine High School, and principal and assistant principal of Concord High School in the Brandywine School District. In the Christina School District, he served as assistant principal at Christiana High School.

His teaching experience includes a total of nine years’ experience as a high school social studies teacher. He holds a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Delaware, and a master’s degree in school leadership and instruction from Wilmington University. He is a graduate of Glasgow High School.

Gregg received the Pennsylvania School Principal of the Year Award in 2010, and was named Delaware Secondary Principal of the Year in 2000. He has held leadership roles with the Delaware Principals Academy, the Delaware Academy for School Leadership, and the Delaware Association of School Administrators. At the national level, he has served on the National Honor Society National Council, the National Association of State Student Councils and on the National Association of Secondary School Principals Leadership Award Selection Committee.

The safety zone policy drew a decent crowd, with members of the Delaware Green Party in attendance in support of board member John Young’s policy.  To read the full policy as approved in a first-read status by the Board last evening, please read below.  I do not view this as a “sanctuary” policy as that has an altogether different meaning than what this policy actually states.  The News Journal referred to the policy as a “sanctuary policy” in their article last night.  The board will vote on a 2nd read of the policy at their next meeting on April 11th, at the Sarah Pyle Academy in Wilmington.

Under this policy, the Christina School District reaffirms our commitment to a safe, welcoming, and inclusive environment for every student without regard to their race, religion, national origin or immigration status to provide enrolled, undocumented students their legal right to a public education.

 

The Joint Legislative Oversight and Sunset Committee Should Sunset the State Board of Education

DelawareFirstState

Today, the Joint Legislative Oversight and Sunset Committee met to discuss their recommendations regarding the State Board of Education.  There were 13 recommendations that the committee voted on, Recommendation #1, “The State Board of Education shall be terminated and applicable sections of the code be amended to remove the State Board of Education.” This recommendation was tabled, the committee wanted to go through the 12 remaining recommendations first before they voted on whether or not to terminate the State Board.  Note: Recommendation 9was voted on 10 yes and 0 no. The recommendation was to provide more  accessibility to the members of public to the State Board meetings. Recommendation 13was tabled, the vote to release the State Board or to hold them over.

The Sunset Committee voted 10 yes and 0 no.

The Sunset Committee voted 4 yes and 6 no, the Sunset Committee voted not to…

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The Sun Rises For The Delaware State Board of Education

The Delaware Joint Legislative Oversight and Sunset Committee voted today not to Sunset the Delaware State Board of Education.  Sunset would have shut down the board.  I will write more details later since I arrived late for the meeting due to a prior commitment.  As for the State Board’s Executive Director, Donna Johnson, the board voted for option one in regards to her role: The Board will present to the Committee a revised Executive Director job description to better align with the Board’s duties.

Issues surrounding public comment got a bit of discussion.  The JLOSC voted unanimously that the State Board of Education shall allow public comment before each action item but with an amendment.  Public comment may not be allowed during action items that have a pre-established and finite public comment period, such as regulations and charter school issues.  The reason for this is because state code allows for this.  Newly christened Senator Stephanie Hansen said during county council meetings in Sussex and New Castle Counties they allow for this because sometimes the public comment could affect a decision by the Council.  State Board member Pat Heffernan said they are bound by the Delaware State Code.  In my eyes, that is legislation begging for change as soon as humanly possible.  The Committee agreed that information shall be sent to public libraries and schools with meeting information about the State Board of Education.  A matter surrounding charter school approval and local impact was tabled so the State Board of Ed can give more clarifying information about their role on this matter.

I did not anticipate the JLOSC would shut down the State Board of Education.  I surmised some items would pass and some wouldn’t.  Without an apparatus in place to replace them it would be tough to figure out who should pass regulations.  Once again, legislation could take care of a lot of the issues surrounding them.  In a poll I put up the other day, over 70% of readers felt the State Board should shut down permanently.  I write this with the caveat that my readership tends to align with what I believe more and the poll only had over a 100 voters.

Apples, Oranges, & The Myth Of Grading Schools: The True Goals Behind Bad Education Policy

Atnre Alleyne came out with a blog post this morning supporting a Governor Carney idea where Delaware rates schools with stars.  Of course he did!  I don’t care what you label them with: stars, letter grades, numbers, or rocket ships.  It all translates to a comparison between apples and oranges.  What I find most ironic about Alleyne’s post is how self-serving this is for him.  As the guy behind Delaware Can, any school labeling further perpetuates the myth that companies like that thrive on: label, shame, and punish.  Alleyne’s personal war against the Delaware State Education Association is filled with holes and misdemeanors!  I thought I would pick apart a few of his “facts” and “myths”.

The Fallacy of Surveys

Thousands of Delawareans responded to the Delaware Department of Education’s 2014 survey indicating they want school performance ratings.

When you come out with a survey that doesn’t even ask the question “Do you think Delaware should have school performance ratings?” and you continue that survey with questions about those ratings, I don’t think it is fair to say that means “thousands of Delawareans” wanted this.  The survey predetermined the school report cards was going to happen (as required by federal law) but that in no way to translates to the citizens of Delaware demanding this system.

Self-Serving Agendas

Recently a coalition of 24 community and business groups also sent the Department a letter with recommendations for the state’s ESSA plan that called for a “single summary rating for schools and districts…in order to ensure clarity for parents and community members.”

And who led that band of public education marauders, disguised as organizations wanting to help public education?  Who corralled and convinced these 24 mostly non-profits who would benefit from what Alleyne wants?  Who was also on the Governor’s Advisory Committee for the state ESSA plan and in a position to leverage his agenda?  Yes, none other than Atnre Alleyne.

The Rating-Label Scheme

MYTH: School ratings are more of the type of “testing, labeling, and punishing” we do not need in our schools.

Yes, they are.  Given that the weighting of these report cards is over 50% towards results from the Smarter Balanced Assessment so carefully masked as two different categories: growth and proficiency, it most certainly is a testing, labeling, and punishing apparatus.

Even The Feds Are Backing Away From Bad Education Policy

Today, federal law requires that we identify and “label” the bottom 5 percent of schools in our state. The school report cards to which the Department has committed renames those schools – from Priority and Focus schools to   Comprehensive Support and Improvement (CSI) and Targeted Support and Improvement (TSI) schools – and continues its support for these schools with access to more money and assistance. That’s not punishment. It’s being honest about where and how we need to help our schools.

A label is still a label even if you change the wording.  I love the word “Targeted” because that is exactly what this system does.  Jack Markell loved this and apparently Governor Carney does as well.  U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos seems to be backing away from a federal accountability system and leaving it up to the states.  Governor Markell embedded that system into Delaware and our whole education system is based on this.  Alleyne, who used to work for the Delaware Dept. of Education, is very familiar with this system and knows exactly what it is meant for.

The Growth In Our Education System Is Malignant

It’s also important to remember that growth measures, which take into account how much a student’s performance has grown over a school year, also benefits schools with higher performing students in ensuring they help their students grow, as well.

Okay, this is the part that absolutely kills me!  If a school has higher performing students, i.e., the average proficiency on SBAC is 3.87 out of 4, that does not leave much room for growth.  But the illusion of having a growth goal of students reaching a 3.9 proficiency is not out of the ballpark.  It is doable and can certainly happen.  Take a school with a high population of low-income and students with disabilities, where the average SBAC proficiency is 1.24 and the growth goal to proficiency is 2.0, the whole system changes.  The work needed to get to that score, with more challenging students with much higher needs, multiplies at an exponential rate.  The odds of that school reaching that goal are much lower than the “high-performing” school that only needs to go up a tiny bit to reach their growth goals.  It is comparing apples and oranges.

Judging The Haves and The Have-Nots And Voucherizing Students

MYTH: If you give schools a rating parents are just going to use that single rating to judge schools and ignore all the other information about a school’s performance.

This is an exercise in futility.  This is the difference between the “haves” and the “have-nots”.  The “haves” will utilize this system to find the “best” school for their child.  Many of the “have-nots”, who in many cases aren’t even aware a system like this even exists, will simply send their child to the local neighborhood school.  In the midst of this landscape we have the issue of school vouchers coming to the front burner.  So much so that the feds are willing to dump all this truly bad accountability crap out the window in favor of a voucher system that will make private schools the next big thing.  For reasons they aren’t saying, this will be the cushion for students from wealthier families for what happens next.  See more on this later.

How To Place Yourself In An Area Of “Importance”

Our goal, as advocates and policymakers, must be to equip parents and taxpayers with school quality information that is easy to understand, fair, and consistent.

Notice Alleyne uses the word “Our”, as if he is the man behind the curtain waving the magic wand that mesmerizes his audience into taking his every word as the Gospel truth.  For a guy that makes a living based on the very worst of corporate education reform Kool-Aid disguised as helping disadvantaged students, I encourage all Delawareans to take what he says with a grain of salt.  Having met Alleyne in person, he is a nice guy.  But his education policy and what he advocates for causes alarm bells to go off in my head.  I get why he does what he does, but he is just another victim of the bad education policy that is fighting for its last legs in the new era of Trumplandia.  I completely understand that he wants better education outcomes for minority students.  I do as well.  I also want that for students with disabilities and English Language learners.  It is the way Alleyne wants this that bothers me.  If society as a whole has not learned the valuable lesson that the continued use of high-stakes testing is just plain bad for public education, than folks like Alleyne will continue to spread their “myths” and “facts”.  I say opt out of not just the high-stakes testing but also opt out of false edu-speak that exists to sway parents of student populations and trapping them in a system where testing reigns supreme.

What’s Up With All The Teacher Union Hate?

If there is one consistent question I’ve been asked by parents who seek to understand this system of high-stakes tests it is this: if we don’t use these tests how do we measure how our schools are doing?  It’s a damn good question and I won’t pretend to have the answer.  I have always suggested that a student’s classroom grades are more of a true measure than these once a year test scores.  I don’t believe in students going on to the next grade if they aren’t ready.  That is when parents need to carefully watch their child’s progress.  It is not the end of the world if a student is held back.  We need to also trust our teachers that their years of preparation and continued training serve to benefit our child’s success in education.  If you have doubts about a teacher’s effectiveness than certainly question it.  I believe it is our sacred duty to do so.  But when we are given lie after lie about teachers from these education think tanks about how bad unions are and how they only want what is best for them, we have to recognize the truth: these companies do NOT want teacher unions to exist at all.  They don’t like the idea of teacher’s organizing on behalf of themselves because it takes away from their profit-making ventures.  The sad part is how so many parents actually believe these horrible lies about public education.  So when unions fight against these bad policies they are immediately painted as the villain in articles like the one Alleyne wrote today.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think the teacher unions are perfect.  But I don’t think any organization, school, parent, student, or state agency is perfect.  But there is a clear difference between offense and defense.  I see corporate education reformers as a vicious marauder into areas where they have no business being in.  The predictable result is teacher unions going on the defense against these schemes and agendas.

Opt Out Is The Only Defense

The only way to fight a bad system is to ignore it.  This is why I have always defended a parent’s fundamental and God-given right to opt out of these silly little standardized tests.  I refuse to give them the clout these companies think they deserve.  I would rather hear the word of the teacher in the classroom who is on the ground floor watching the colossal waste of time these tests have.  They are expensive, take up true teaching time, take up school resources, kill libraries during testing time, and the results serve no true purpose.  If you haven’t opted your child out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment this year, please do so now.  Even if they are already in the middle of testing.  When many parents get the Delaware DOE suggested letter from the school about how opt out is illegal and the school can’t allow it, treat it as fire-starter material for a fire-pit in your backyard.  Just write a letter to your child’s school stating you are opting your child out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment, hand it to the principal, and state there is to be no further discussion on the issue.  If they attempt to dissuade you, give a pleasant “thank you but no thank you” and stand firm on your decision.

What Is A Governor To Do Facing A $385 Million Dollar Deficit?

For Delaware Governor John Carney, he faces a crucial moment.  He has to make cuts in the state budget.  There won’t be easy choices, but one should be a no-brainer: get rid of the dead and expensive weight at the Delaware DOE and get rid of the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  Sever the ties between the Delaware DOE and these “non-profit” for-profit education companies.  If that means getting rid of DOE employees whose sole existence is to continue what amounts to lobbying off the backs of children, just do it!

The True Goal Behind Alleyne And The Rodel Foundation

These are the end goals behind all this:

  • Get rid of the teacher unions
  • Have students learn in a 100% digital learning environment
  • Create a competency-based education system which will prevent students with high needs from advancing more than ever before
  • Track the hell out of the data in this ed-tech wonderland and create what amounts to a caste system where the best students get the best jobs and the struggling students get the menial jobs
  • Do away with brick and mortar schools and have teachers become glorified online moderators
  • Send young children to 3rd party organizations to get their “personalized learning” with Teach For America and other fast-track educator prep “teachers” guiding students
  • Have older students logged into whatever Blockchain technology is coming our way where they “earn to learn” and companies profit from teenagers

Surf-And-Turf or Filet Mignon?

We see this in agendas like Delaware’s “Pathways to Prosperity” program.  I attended Governor Carney’s Inaugural ball.  All the food was prepared and served by students in the culinary program.  The food was awesome.  But did any of those students who prepared this food get paid for their servitude?  I highly doubt it.  I have no doubt they received some type of education credit for their service while the State of Delaware says “thanks for the cheap labor”.  Or what about these “coding schools” where students pay thousands of dollars to train themselves on coding while at the same time doing work for very big companies through the training material?  Our students are nothing more than fodder for corporations.  They are the true victims in this new world and are being used by those whose biggest concern is if they should get the surf-and-turf or just the filet mignon at their next country club dinner.

 

 

 

 

 

Donald Trump’s Proposed 2018 Budget: At Least He Doesn’t Call Himself an “Education President.”

deutsch29

Here it is: Donald Trump’s proposed 2018 budget— all 62 pages of it.

From Trump’s introductory remarks:

The core of my first Budget Blueprint is the rebuilding of our Nation’s military without adding to our Federal deficit. There is a $54 billion increase in defense spending in 2018 that is offset by targeted reductions elsewhere. This defense funding is vital to rebuilding and preparing our Armed Forces for the future. …

The defense and public safety spending increases in this Budget Blueprint are offset and paid for by finding greater savings and efficiencies across the Federal Government. Our Budget Blueprint insists on $54 billion in reductions to non-Defense programs. We are going to do more with less, and make the Government lean and accountable to the people.

This includes deep cuts to foreign aid. It is time to prioritize the security and well-being of Americans, and to ask the…

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Take The Poll On The Delaware State Board of Education

High Noon For The Delaware State Board of Education On Tuesday

We can do it better ourselves but we won’t tell them that.

The Delaware State Board of Education could be shut down as of Tuesday.  They face the Delaware Joint Legislative Overview and Sunset Committee.  The State Board was put under review by the committee last year after some very rough years under former Governor Jack Markell.  Many of the complaints circulate around their Executive Director, Donna Johnson.  As well, many citizens and education organizations in the state feel the State Board has outlived their usefulness and just seem to perpetuate agendas brought forth by corporate education reform organizations such as the Rodel Foundation of Delaware and the Delaware Charter Schools Network.  I wrote about their last meeting with the committee over a month ago.  But I was able to be the sole attendee at a meeting yesterday where the State Board discussed their final meeting with the Sunset Committee and boy was it a doozy! Continue reading “High Noon For The Delaware State Board of Education On Tuesday”

In Honor Of St. Patrick’s Day: The Top 17 Lists

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!  As the Irish eyes are smiling, I thought I would give an update on what articles are in the top 17 of all time on here along with some other Top 17 lists!

TOP ARTICLES FROM JUNE 13th, 2014 UNTIL MARCH 17th, 2017

  1. Delaware Public Schools: You Have Until Thursday To Get Rid Of Your Data Walls Or I Start Filing FERPA Complaints
  2. Her Name Is Amy
  3. US DOE & Arne Duncan Drop The Mother Of All Bombs On States Special Education Rights
  4. Holodick & Brandywine Named In Lawsuit As Father Seeks Justice For Year Long Nightmare
  5. My Special Needs Son’s First Day Of Common Core Division & This Is His Homework
  6. Breaking News: Secretary Godowsky Is Changing Funding Formula So Charter Schools Will Get More School District Money
  7. Charter School of Wilmington & Discrimination: Student Denied Due Process and Subject To Potential Profiling By Head Of School
  8. America Is Getting Bamboozled With Betsy Devos! She Is All In On The True Agenda: Cradle To Grave Workforces Of Tomorrow
  9. Tragedy Strikes Howard High School In Wilmington As Female Student Dies From Head Injuries In Fight
  10. Teach For America Rejected & Slammed At Professional Standards Board Meeting Last Night **UPDATED**
  11. Breaking News: Court Rules Smarter Balanced Assessment Violates The U.S. Constitution
  12. The Gates Foundation Isn’t Even Hiding It Anymore… The Complete Transformation Of Education Brought To You By Billionaires
  13. Thom Labarbera, Brandywine Social Studies Teacher, Passes Away
  14. Delaware Racism: It Is Reality And It Is Not Going Away
  15. Delaware Senate Passes The “No School Until After Labor Day” Bill With Close Vote
  16. Carney’s Pick Of Susan Bunting For DE Secretary Of Education May Not Be The Wisest Choice
  17. Niche.com Delaware School Rankings By High School, Middle School, Elementary, Best Teachers & More

TOP REFERRERS TO EXCEPTIONAL DELAWARE

  1. Facebook
  2. Google
  3. Twitter
  4. Kilroy’s Delaware
  5. Delaware Liberal
  6. Bing
  7. WordPress.com Reader
  8. Android apps
  9. Diane Ravitch.net
  10. Elizabeth Scheinberg.net
  11. AOL
  12. Yahoo Search
  13. Comcast.net
  14. Kavips
  15. Emilytalmage.com
  16. Gmail
  17. Cloaking Inequity.com

Top 17 Countries Reading Exceptional Delaware

  1. United States of America
  2. Canada
  3. New Zealand
  4. United Kingdom
  5. Australia
  6. India
  7. Germany
  8. France
  9. Phillipines
  10. Russia
  11. Ireland
  12. Mexico
  13. South Africa
  14. Spain
  15. Japan
  16. Netherlands
  17. Italy

Top 17 Most Bizarre Search Terms That Brought Someone To Exceptional Delaware

  1. MBNA
  2. Bank of America and U2
  3. Waist deep on charter and on demand
  4. Mold photos willowleaf dr
  5. did Mark Zuckerberg restrict Common Core posts on Facebook?
  6. “are held accountable to the fullest extent of the law” and citi
  7. christiana school distinct to start after Labor Day
  8. big daddy taution school
  9. Quentin Tarantino
  10. mark holodick age
  11. dr brewington ffa jail
  12. data walls suck
  13. meredith blowman archmere
  14. delaware goopen initiative
  15. man jacks son common core
  16. henry clampitt delaware
  17. mark murphy dsea president

My Top 17 Favorite Articles I Wrote On This Blog

  1. Her Name Is Amy
  2. Breaking News: Family Foundations Academy Under Financial Investigation With State Auditor
  3. Delaware Race To The Top, Hedge Funds & Millions Wasted: The Story of Rodel, Markell, Charters & The Vision Network
  4. Rodel’s CEO Dr. Herdman Sent An Email Re: Rodel Article, My Response & Challenge
  5. Mold Issues At Christina Elementary School Could Be Causing “Pulaski Kennel Cough”
  6. Smyrna Assistant Superintendent Patrik William’s Hysterical Letter To Delaware DOE
  7. Breaking News: Santa Claus Supports Opt-Out!!!
  8. The “Dear Hillary” Letter That Will Cause Your Mouth To Drop To The Floor
  9. The Tentacles Of Corporate Education Reform And How They Pull Parents Down The Rabbit Hole
  10. Breaking News: Secretary Godowsky Is Changing Funding Formula So Charter Schools Will Get More School District Money
  11. Newark Charter School Denies Lottery To 6 Year Old Girl With Rare Disability
  12. Santa and John
  13. The Last Exceptional Delaware Post
  14. Opt Out As We Know It Is Dead… Long Live The Badge
  15. Jack Markell, Blockchain, Coding Schools, Rodel, BRINC, Pathways To Prosperity, Registered Agents… Delaware’s Role In “The Ledger”
  16. The Test Made For White Kids, Not Black Kids
  17. The Delaware Met Down For The Count A Month Into The School Year

A lot of the above articles were either a labor of love or based on a ton of research.  Some just came to me on a whim.  Some of these articles actually changed things in Delaware.  One was wishful thinking on my part!  A few were written in a very different style than what most of my readers are accustomed to.  With over 3,200 articles written on here, it is tough to pick out my personal favorites, but these ones are definitely up there.

As for the future, I’ll keep chugging along.  I’ve taken a back seat to a lot of things going on in Delaware education the past few months.  Had to stretch my sea legs!  But research-based articles will return at some point once I get my bearing back.  Unless something radically changes, you will see more of my investigative work but with less of an accusatory tone and with more quotes (hopefully) or information gathering from the subject of the article.  In any event, Happy St. Patrick’s Day!