Cape Henlopen Unit Count Audit Shows Some Discrepancies

While this was not a whole-scale investigation like some recent district or charter school audit reports, the Auditor of Account’s report on the Statewide Unit-Count Agreed Upon Procedure between the Cape Henlopen School District and the Delaware Department of Education did show some flaws in the system.  State Auditor Tom Wagner released the report today.

Out of the five schools that were selected for the audit, representing audits of 114 students, six students were included in the unit count that should not have been, two from Milton Elementary School and four from the Sussex Consortium.  As well, all five of the schools did not properly maintain their official Unit Count file as required by state law.  The Auditor has no capability or authority to mete out any consequences to the district.  But the report is sent to the Offices of the Governor, Attorney General, Controller General, and the Office of Management and Budget.

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Breaking News: Mike Piccio Resigns From Red Clay Board of Education

Effective August 28th, Red Clay Consolidated School District Board of Education President Mike Piccio resigned from the board.  Sources within the district have confirmed there is no controversy, just a citizen moving out of the district at some point.  But what makes this interesting will be the makeup of the board going forward.  The current Vice-President Martin Wilson, in most situations, would just slide into the President role.  But knowing Red Clay, I am sure other members will want to vote on changes to the board.  Not to mention the whole special election for his seat on the board.  Interesting times up in Red Clay…

Kowalko Blasts Carney, Bunting, & Several Christina Legislators

Last Thursday, Delaware Governor John Carney held yet another secret meeting.  This one was with Secretary of Education Dr. Susan Bunting and several legislators whose districts are a part of the Christina School District.  Those legislators were Senators David Sokola and Bryan Townsend and Reps Earl Jaques, Ed Osienski, Joe Miro, Mike Ramone, Melanie Smith, and John Kowalko.  The subject: those damn test scores for Christina!

Carney was pulling the usual “why are Christina’s reading and math scores so low?”  If I were a déjà vu kind of guy, I would say it is the same record spun by Governor Markell and former Secretary of Education Mark Murphy.  Sokola talked about capacity and too much of it in Christina.  Ramone talked about how the state has closed failing charter schools and why not public schools.  Jaques talked about how we need to fill schools with psychiatrists and psychologists while not realizing budget cuts have affected the ability to properly staff schools with educators and resources before we even need to get to that point.  Miro talked about… who knows!  But Kowalko talked about the funding cuts that have already happened that is causing the suffering of poverty students in Christina.  He suggested Christina consolidates two of their high schools and actually build a Wilmington high school for Wilmington students so they aren’t bussed all over Christina School District.

Governor Carney is proving to be more of a Jack Markell wannabe than I ever thought he could be.  I agree with Kowalko.  When Markell cut the reading specialists Governor Ruth Ann Minner created years ago, the problems in Christina got bigger.  When Markell began his dance with corporations to “fix” education it got worse.  Now we’ve had three years of Smarter Balanced and, as predicted, the scores suck.  They suck bad.  No one in power ever stops to think the test is the problem.  No, we must get new leaders in our schools.  We have to fix poverty in the schools.  How about creating real jobs, for real people?  Not these new start-up tech companies Carney gets excited about.  Cause they aren’t going to fix poverty.  They are only going to further the divide between the haves and the have nots.

Kowalko told me the only legislator who made any sense was Senator Townsend.  The rest, he felt, were playing the same skipped record on Delaware education particularly in Christina.  And Secretary Bunting… I don’t know where your head is at these days.  You’ve been drinking far too much of the Rodel Kool-Aid lately.  Taking money away from districts (see recent articles about match tax) and just giving it away to the charters is not a solution.  For someone who came from a large district with financial issues, you sure do seem to be forgetting what is truly needed in education.  Who is advising these people?  How many other secret meetings are going on?  Thank God we have legislators like Kowalko who value transparency above all else.

Rep. Melanie Smith is one of the true catalysts, along with other charter-loving legislators, who don’t care about Christina.  They care about the charters they want their kids and grandchildren to go to.  And a few of them who have relatives that teach at charter schools.  The jig is up.  You aren’t fooling any of us with your grand posturing and false bravado.  Smith, Jaques, Sokola, Ramone, Miro… enough already.  The charter lobbyists don’t need to shove anything up your ass.  You do it gladly all on your own.

We have a Secretary and Governor who allow situations like the train wreck that is Providence Creek Academy’s administration and the continuing de facto segregation factory called Newark Charter School.  You want to put your money where your mouths are?  Don’t let the charters bitch for one iota of a second about match tax and all their other funding whining when they get to keep their damn transportation slush fund.  It is a disgrace.  Democrat or Republican, it doesn’t matter.  Most of you support it as evidenced by your budget vote every single damn year.  The ones that say no to that… those are the ones I respect down at Legislative Hall.  The rest of you are phoneys pretending to be lawmakers.  Allowing charters to suck at the public teat while cutting funds from districts.  And Bunting… perhaps the biggest traitor of them all allowing this to continue.  I thought coming from a district you were going to be the watcher on the wall against this crap.  But you have proven to be just like the other Governor mouthpieces for education.

Three Days To Change Secretary Bunting’s Mind On Match Tax, Email Her NOW!

It is time the people spoke up and emailed Delaware Secretary of Education Dr. Susan Bunting!

The match tax saga continues! On August 4th, a bunch of Delaware legislators sent Delaware Secretary of Education Dr. Susan Bunting a letter regarding the proposed plan for the match tax.  Bunting’s response shows no sign of bending from the original plan.  While Bunting believes this is a win-win for districts based on other exclusions to the local funding formula, only one district seems to make a windfall from them.  And believe it or not, that district is Christina.

Below are the letter sent to legislators from Bunting, the new “procedure” for charter and choice payments, and a breakdown of the changes and how they financially impact the districts.

For Red Clay, they are taking a $124,000 loss based on this plan.  I would love to know what the ten “newly approved categories” are for exclusions on the charter bill.  It looks like the districts that are getting the biggest hits are Capital, Red Clay, and Smyrna.  While some may laugh at those figures, remember, that could be an extra teacher.  Or a paraprofessional.  In your child’s class.  Notice how Bunting did not provide a summary of how MUCH the charters are going to get from this.  Add in their should be illegal charter school transportation slush fund, and it adds up to a lot of money!  Cause that first number of $828,465.11?  That will more than double in two years.  So all those schools that currently show a surplus of funds will see that evaporate.  Meanwhile, the charters will just get more and more money.

This is how the Delaware DOE works.  They try to make crap look like gold.  They compare things that aren’t always related and say “Look, it isn’t as bad as you thought!”  They do the same thing with standardized test scores.  I fail to see Bunting’s justification for doing this with the match tax.  If you agree, please email her at susan.bunting@doe.k12.de.us and let her know you do not support this match tax scheme.  As pretty as that picture may look, it will be uglier next year and the year after when those first numbers go deeper in the red.  The plan is to reduce the match tax exclusion to nothing by the 2019-2020 school year.  Bunting has until September 1st to make a final decision on this.  Let’s make some noise!

Some issues I see with the timetable on this stem around the budgetary process that goes down each year.  School districts and charters are subject to the final passage of the budget bill.  This doesn’t typically happen until June 30th/July 1st each year.  At that point, all the business managers have to figure out what it all means.  That is not an easy task, whether it is a district or charter.  So for the DOE to say they want any meetings scheduled with them by June 15th is ludicrous in my opinion.  They should wait until all the business managers have time to see what the final budget does to their own budget first.

 

The Matt Denn Announcement Is Bittersweet

On Facebook today, Delaware Attorney General Matt Denn announced he will not be seeking reelection for Attorney General in 2018.  I was shocked to say the least.  This is a man who has dedicated the last 14 years to public service and won every election that came his way.  But I get his reasons: he wants to spend more time with his family.  Because that’s who Matt is above everything else: a father and a husband.  His kids always come first.

I first met Matt at the first IEP Task Force meeting three years ago.  It feels like an eternity ago.  Since then, I’ve contacted him about various education issues in the First State.  Not only did Matt chair the IEP Task Force, but he also recorded the meetings and put the audio recordings on a website so ALL parents could listen to what was discussed.  That is very unusual for a task force, but Matt knew parents wanted to know what was going on.  Throughout the task force, Matt fought for parent rights when it comes to their child’s Individualized Education Program.

A couple of years ago, I publicly asked Matt to run for Governor in 2016.  He obviously declined my request.  I don’t always agree with the legal opinions that come out of Matt’s office, but I respect that I have a right to request one.  At heart, Matt is a good guy.  He cares about people.  Even yesterday, he released a video about school bullying urging kids to not bully others.

Now the hunt for a new Attorney General begins!  I am sure the Delaware Democrats and Republicans are already making calls.  I have one person who I would LOVE to see as the AG, but I will refrain from saying who my pick would be just yet.  But in all seriousness Matt, and I know you still have a lot of time left in office, I for one will miss you after January 2019!

Did I (Inadvertently) Cause Christina and The Delaware DOE To Get Sued?

A year ago today, I broke the Delaware education internet in half.  I revealed that the charters wanted more money from districts.  In reality, it came down to Christina vs. the 15 charters.  But I didn’t know that at the time.  But what I did do was break it and cause immense pressure to be put on then Delaware Secretary of Education Dr. Steven Godowsky.  So much he stopped the charter money grab.  As a result, both the Delaware DOE and Christina were victims of, what I believe, a frivolous lawsuit.  Of course it was all led by Newark Charter School’s Greg Meece.  I knew that the second I sniffed it.  Now they are doing it again with the Match Tax.  And Delaware is so stupid they will let them do it again.  I shouldn’t say Delaware, but the DOE.  It isn’t Bunting lighting the match, it is the same cast and crew from last year.  When are they going to stop this insipid love affair with charters?  Don’t they realize all they are doing is riding the wrong horse?  It has been a crazy year since then.  But I would be remiss if I didn’t look back on this and wonder how much I contributed to the eventual outcome.  Almost as if I was played the entire time…

Caesar Rodney Superintendent Dr. Kevin Fitzgerald Pulls A Fast One On Teachers And Staff

Every year, the Caesar Rodney School District has a guest speaker at welcome back breakfast for teachers and staff.  Usually, the guest speaker tells educators about all the things they should do in the upcoming year or sometimes it is past graduates who made it big, such as Duron Harmon from the New England Patriots.  But this year’s guest speaker was a little bit different than past speakers. Continue reading “Caesar Rodney Superintendent Dr. Kevin Fitzgerald Pulls A Fast One On Teachers And Staff”

Chris Ruszkowski Slated To Become The Permanent New Mexico Secretary Of Education… Weep For New Mexico…

In an article released today by the Albuquerque Journal, Christopher Ruszkowski was given the permanent position of New Mexico Secretary of Education.  For the past few months, he has been the Acting Secretary in the wake of Hanna Skandera’s resignation last Spring.  Of course, like in Delaware, the New Mexico Senate will have to confirm him.  According to the article, New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez may have been infected by the same bug former Delaware Governor Jack Markell had while he was in office:

“I’m confident that Christopher will bring the energy, enthusiasm and leadership needed to help New Mexico’s students succeed in the classroom,” Martinez said. “It won’t be easy. There are entrenched special interest groups in New Mexico that are dedicated to maintaining the status quo in education.”

As for Ruszkowski, he seems to still be stuck in the Race To The Top era where standardized test scores and grades for schools will lift our public schools out of their depths of misery:

Ruszkowski and the governor believe that state reforms like PARCC, school grades and teacher evaluations are driving improvement, such as a record high 71 percent graduation rate and increasing numbers of A and B schools.

Yawn… apparently Surfer Boy hasn’t learned much…  His comments were not ignored by the President of the New Mexico American Federation of Teachers though:

Stephanie Ly, president of the American Federation of Teachers New Mexico, said the state deserves “better than the lazy reformist sound bites of Christopher Ruszkowski.”

But the bit about Ruskowski’s extensive teaching career says it all…

Born in Chicago, Ruszkowski spent three years teaching in Miami and Boston schools through Teach for America, then received a master’s degree in education policy from Stanford University.

Yes, three years working for TFA seems to be all the experience you need to lead a state in education policy these days.  I weep for the future…

A tip of the hat to Matt Albright from the News Journal for sending out the tweet on the Albuquerque Journal’s article on this!

A Note For Parents (Especially Charter School Parents)

I wrote the following on the Smyrna Clayton Residents Facebook page earlier today.  I dared to write a post about teacher attrition at Providence Creek Academy which led to the usual onslaught by parents whose kids either attend the school or used to.  Or their HR Director who likes to answer questions with a kernel of truth but when asked about the total number of teachers who have been fired over the summer, she refuses to respond but continues to like comments on the thread.  Or the guy who thinks posting memes instead of coming up with his own words lends him some type of credibility and street cred.  I’ve learned, when it comes to charter schools in this state, it is easier for parents to ignore lies than to come out of their comfort zone and face the truth.  It is sad.  In any event, this is what I wrote:

 I find it hysterical that so many are more than ready to believe things I write about the state and the Delaware DOE but refuse to accept the fact there could be corruption at the schools their child attends. I get that parents make a choice to send their child to a school their kid attends. I respect that choice. But when I shed some light on things that go on in those schools (usually charters), parents get up in arms and want to say I am off base, or I am wrong, or I have some personal grudge against the leader, or so on and so on. In the meantime, there is ZERO transparency coming from the school about the transgressions, teachers are leaving the school in droves, but as long as THEIR kid is doing okay, all is well. In the meantime, ALL of us are paying taxes for all these schools and no one seems to care that their hard-earned money is being used for personal purchases. Sorry, I will never subscribe to the belief that standardized test scores show whether a kid is getting a good education. I will never support that if any teacher questions anything they are ripe for firing. You come at me from the perspective of a parent, and I get that. But I’m looking at things from a much bigger picture. Sorry if that annoys you, but I guarantee you that if you don’t open your eyes and demand transparency now you will be left holding the bag when it comes to your kids. I am looking out for your kids believe it or not. You don’t have to like my style or approach, but I do ask that you begin to open your eyes that not everything is what it seems.

Massive Teacher Exodus At Providence Creek Leaves Parents Shaking Their Heads

Last night, parents of Providence Creek Academy students attended an open house at the Clayton charter school.  Many were wondering where all the teachers from last year went.  Many teachers quit due to the shenanigans involving management at the school.  One parent said it looks like 90% of their former teaching staff is gone now.  Many parents have wondered what is going on with the school since I wrote some pretty damaging articles last month.  It has been very quiet, as if some type of gag order went out.  It has become more than obvious that former teachers no longer wanted to put up with what is going on there and opted for better employment elsewhere.  As for all these new teachers it is only a matter of time before they realize what they signed up for.

How the state of Delaware can turn a blind eye to this school is beyond me.  Once again, I have nothing against the school but rather the leadership, the rubberstamp board, and those that follow the administration with their undying loyalty and subservience.  There is something rotten in the foundation of this school but nobody wants to call Chuck and Audrey out on the carpet in full public view.  Why?  If you quit there is absolutely no reason not to go public.  I want to believe former teachers feel PCA was a toxic work environment.  That is NOT good for kids.  Speak out.  Let folks know what is really going on there.  This is a school that has seen more turnovers than a Pepperidge Farm store.  Parents want consistency at schools, not this.  The former “We’re Worried” group appears to be defunct since most of them most likely said screw it and found jobs elsewhere.  That doesn’t change the situation on the ground at PCA.

As for all the financial fraud and the cover-up that went on with it, I sincerely hope the State is looking into that.  Cause the Delaware Department of Education certainly isn’t.  Chuck is obviously good at covering his tracks but there are always bread crumbs.  There has still be no formal announcement of formal charges against ex-employee Shanna Simmens.  There has to be a reason for that.  If it is a case where Chuck and Audrey have that much influence that they are just waiting for the statute of limitations to run out, that is a crying shame.  That shows corruption unheard of in this state.  I can’t for the life of me figure out why parents would willingly send their children to a school run by such devious and corrupt people.

For those who have reached out to me wanting to know more, I sincerely wish I had more to tell you.  I wish our State would do more.  But Delaware is proving to be as crooked as they come when it comes to protecting leaders who are in it more for themselves than for the  benefit of children.  Disgusting…

PCA is having a board meeting next Tuesday evening, August 29th, in their library at 7pm.  If I were PCA parents, I would go and demand answers from this Board of Directors, especially Board President Amy Santos.  Enough is enough.

Governor Carney Launches “Basic Needs School Closets” In 45 Delaware High Needs Schools

Today, Delaware Governor John Carney announced the creation of basic needs school closets for 45 high needs schools from the bottom of the state to the top.  These schools have high concentrations of low-income and poverty students.  I salute the Governor for this initiative!  From the press release:

“We are helping to make certain every Delaware student in high-needs schools has the basic resources many of us take for granted so they can focus on their education and thrive in the classroom.” Governor John Carney

All Delaware students deserve to be able to learn in a comfortable environment, with their basic needs met.

That’s why we’re stocking basic needs closets in 45 high-needs Delaware schools. Delaware’s basic needs closets will provide elementary and middle school students across the state with increased access to free products designed to meet students’ needs so they can effectively participate in class. Each school’s basic needs closet will be stocked with products identified by districts and charter schools as essential to the wellbeing of their students, including hygiene products, school supplies, clothes, and more. Students will be able to discreetly access the closets throughout the school year. This is about meeting students’ basic needs with dignity, so they can be ready to learn in class.

A map of the schools where students will be able to access these closets can be found here.  This is an excellent idea and I know Carney talked about this when he was on the campaign trail.  Other organizations helping out with this program are Bayhealth, Beebe Healthcare, Christiana Care Health System, Cover & Rossiter, Delaware Dept. of Education, DrinkerBiddle, Edis, First Book, Food Bank of Delaware, Global Delaware, Incyte, Nanticoke Health Services, Nemours Children’s Health System, Office of the Governor and Operation Warm.  As well, on the above link, there is a form you can fill out if you want to help with this awesome idea!

Preparing For The New School Year For Students With Disabilities

Michael Connoly, Esq., of McAndrews Law Offices, P.C. just wrote an excellent article every parent of a child with an IEP or 504 plan should read.  As we send our kids back to school, it is important to know everything is in place for the continuation of your child’s special education services.  New teachers or possibly a new school can bring many changes.  Most public schools in Delaware start next Monday, but some started today.

Believe it or not, it’s that time of year again.  Commercials on television of gleeful parents purchasing school supplies abound as we are quickly approaching the end of the summer and beginning of a new school year.  While every parent of a school-aged child is going through their own pre-school-year checklist of supplies and clothes and trying to get in those last few days of sun and fun, there is another entire set of considerations to think about as a parent of a child with a disability.

The most obvious consideration is to make sure that your child’s program for the new school year is set and ready to go on the first day of school.  Is your child’s IEP or 504 Plan up to date and ready to be implemented?  Hopefully, your child’ IEP was updated as necessary at the end of the last school year, but if you are aware of any issues or have any concerns you should be reaching out to your school district in these last weeks of summer for any needed changes.  If your child participated in Extended School Year (“ESY”) services over the summer, consider whether his ESY performance revealed any new areas of need or concern that should be addressed by the IEP before school starts.

Make sure you, and more importantly, your child, are familiar with his or her schedule and curriculum, particularly if either is changing from the previous year.    A new school year often brings a lot of change and can be stressful, and at times anxiety provoking, for any student and especially for a student with special needs.  Ensuring your child is comfortable with his or her schedule and classes may go a long way in easing some of the stress and anxiety that can go along with the new school year.   Similarly, if your child is moving to a new building (for example, going from elementary school to middle school) or an unfamiliar area of his or her current building, an opportunity to tour the school, follow his or her schedule, and meet new teachers before the first day of school can also help reduce any new school year anxiety.

One of the most common beginning-of-the-school-year glitch involves transportation.  Not being picked up by the bus, being late to school, or being picked up by the wrong bus can be a particularly traumatic event for a student with special needs (and his or her parents).  If your child requires special transportation or certain supports while on the bus, you want to confirm with your school district that the necessary arrangements have been made, and that the schools transportation department/service is aware of any accommodations that your child requires.

While it’s not possible to ensure that no beginning-of-the-school-year glitch occur for your child, going through your own child’s pre-school-year check list using the above considerations should hopefully help to keep those glitches to a minimum.

by Michael Connolly, Esq. of McAndrews Law Offices, P.C.

Guest Post By John Young: Christina Breaks Out!

Former Transparent Christina blogger and current Christina Board of Education member John Young wrote the following guest post based on an event held yesterday at the Chase Riverfront in Wilmington.  All Christina School District administrators, teachers, and staff members attended the event.

On Tuesday, August 22nd I had the distinct pleasure of attending our district-wide kickoff event. As most people who follow education know, Christina has faced many challenges in the last decade, many of which continue today: poverty, leadership, choice laws that do not put children first, policy, and politics to name a few of the big ones. We meet these challenges every day, across a 2000+ employee base that is dedicated, professional, and truly amazing!

I was struck by the enormity of having the entire district in the same place at the same time. We had done a similar event in the past broken into two sessions at Glasgow High School due to capacity issues, but our new Superintendent, Richard Gregg, was able to negotiate a single venue with capacity because he wanted to set our district upon this year with a distinct theme and direction: One District, One Vision, One Voice.  After 8+ years on the Board, it was so refreshing to have a message that resonated in a single setting, one that could be heard by all.  For me, one of the KEY takeaways is that each of those three prongs of the message will be uniquely and specifically fueled by a calculus with children at the center.

I know that’s what school districts claim to do, and pledge to do, but we in Christina have been led very erratically for such a long time (well over a decade now), we lost our way somewhere in there. I know each district leader before Mr. Gregg did their level best, but sometimes there was a lack of relation between intent and execution of the vision and direction which has fueled divisiveness at every level of the district, including our board.

I felt like so much of that began to thaw, even melt, in 4 short hours yesterday. I’ve been involved in countless issues over my tenure on the board many of which are not always about the students: contracts, consultants, ideology around destructive policies put for by the state, etc. etc.  Yesterday, it became clear to me that some of those things don’t deserve another moment of my time. They are worthless endeavors that do not serve children. We have new leadership and a new focus for our service model which requires the removal of “awfulizers” from our midst, and replace them with “awesomeizers”.

Christina planted a flag in the ground yesterday. I feel like it was our own metaphorical Gadsden Flag. Our referendum rally cry of a “New Christina”, an amorphous, unclear, and frankly controversial concept for some was jettisoned yesterday, not because it was bad, but because it took life. It’s beating in our core, and breathing on its own…

…and it had 2000+ parents and guardians present for the delivery. Quite a welcome sight to behold and an honor to witness.

Bunting Bunts On Match Tax Boon For Delaware Charter Schools

At the Christina School District Board of Education meeting two weeks ago, Chief Financial Officer Robert Silber gave insight to a very interesting meeting at the Delaware Department of Education concerning the recent decision to give Delaware charter schools a portion of match tax funds through the local funding formula.  Silber’s description of Delaware Secretary Education Dr. Susan Bunting’s reaction during this meeting was surprising.

The memo that they also sent to districts said that due to the uncertainties associated with the budget, we’re holding off on a determination of match dollars until legislators made a determination around how the proposed reductions were going to occur.  They didn’t want, as they expressed it to us, they didn’t want to make a decision in advance that may have been different based upon the budget (state) for this year since there were a lot of talk legislatively around match tax.  The Department then came out with a position statement that said they believe match taxes are operating expenses and as an operating expense should be included.  District business managers then turned as a group and said to the Department, as part of the process, that we would like to have a meeting to discuss that.  That meeting occurred last Thursday (August 3rd) and I would say that the Secretary and a member of her staff were there, listening.  But there was no decision rendered at that meeting and we have not seen anything since that point in time to know whether or not they listened to our concerns.  One of the concerns that we expressed, and is probably the easiest one for me to grasp around, is that when you take a look at the various match components that exist, one of those matches is for reading resources.  Reading resource teachers are, by the definition of the dollars enabling legislation to begin with, was very specifically targeted to elementary schools.  So we posed the question to the Secretary, once these dollars go into the formula, those same dollars are going to a high school.  It doesn’t make logical sense and we asked that be considered.  She’s considering it.

Come on Dr. Bunting!  As someone who comes from a traditional school district, you know how this stuff works.  Charters lobby for more money, whether it is justified or not.  Just because they want it doesn’t mean it is right.  I get that everyone wants a piece of the funding pie but sometimes the taste isn’t so palatable.  Don’t give in to this Bunting!  We live in a state where charters are able to keep their excess transportation funds.  It is VERY hypocritical for the Department of Education to give in to the charters while that anomaly exists.  We need a Secretary who will stand up to these freakish money requests from the charters and do what is right!  We need a home run here, not a bunt!

The Cold Truth About Personalized Learning

Save Maine Schools

In just a couple of weeks, my older son will start preschool.

Here are a couple of things, in no particular order, that I hope he learns while he is there:

  1. What finger paint smells like
  2. How to glue cotton balls onto construction paper
  3. The words to Down by the Bay
  4. That there are other cool things in the world besides trucks and washing machines
  5. That if you push someone’s block tower over, it will hurt their feelings
  6. That occasionally – just every now and then – it is okay to sit still for a little bit

It’s not an exhaustive list, but even if it went on forever, there are a few things you can be sure I wouldn’t include: “kindergarten readiness,” for example, or even his ABC’s or colors.

(I’m confident that, as soon as the time is right, he’ll figure out that J can’t be K just…

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The Type of PD I’d Like to See

Minding My Matters

Friends and Countrymen, it’s back to school time in these United States, and you know what that means…. Yes, the irrepressible posting of memes by teachers on social media decrying the typical welcome back events, including – but not limited to – professional development, classroom setup, meeting new colleagues, and reviewing class lists.

I’ve taken issue with some of the statements made, because I come from (perhaps) a unique perspective of actually really, truly enjoying the majority of professional development opportunities and being energized and recharged by the return to the building of my friends and coworkers. Being one of those teachers – and there are many of us – who work throughout the summer, I’m kinda bored and lonely in the building during the quieter summer weeks, so having my people back is pretty awesome. Over the past week or so I’ve been thinking about exactly what it is…

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Dover High School Plans To Change Graduation Regalia To Address Gender Identification Issues

At the Capital School District Board of Education Committee, Dover High School Principal Courtney Voshell gave a presentation on the proposed new graduation regalia.  Traditionally, the girls wore white and the boys wore blue.  Voshell explained the rationale for the change during their board meeting:

I think it’s important to also address the fact that we have some students that gender identification is an awkward conversation for some of our students.  It’s definitely not the majority but it happens.  In the past two years that I have been leading the school, it has become a conversation where a student doesn’t want to wear one color or the other because that’s not the gender they are identifying with.  And for me, it’s just not a time we should make any student feel awkward.  This is their day.  They worked really hard for it.

Voshell also noted this will be the first year the new Dover High School will have graduating students that attended the school all four years in the new building.  Because of this, the extra $10.00 fee for the new uniforms would be covered by the school through a student services funding bucket for this year’s graduating class.  Voshell also cited parent concerns about not having graduation in alphabetical order in the past and parents didn’t know when their child was coming up next to receive their diploma.  In the past, students tended to be set up in a stripe pattern with girls in white rows and boys in blue rows.  Beginning this year, graduating seniors will be seated in alphabetical order.

This presentation was not an action item for the Capital School Board but merely a discussion item.

 

 

Red Clay Board of Education Votes Unanimously For Equity Plan

Last night, the Red Clay Consolidated School District Board of Education voted unanimously for the district to develop an Equity Plan through their long-standing Diversity Committee.  The resolution, written by board member Adriana Bohm, would charge the committee to develop the Equity Plan, which will be presented to the board by April of 2018.  Many community members came out to give public comment in support of plan.

Where this gets a bit sticky is the two charter schools Red Clay authorizes, Charter School of Wilmington and Delaware Military Academy.  As their authorizing agent, Red Clay can conduct their charter renewal process along with formal reviews, modifications, and other such matters.  But they cannot dictate district policy to those schools and make them follow it.  Both schools have substantially lower populations of racial groups the Diversity Committee would talk about.  Failure to address this huge gap between the districts and those charters would ignore the inherent and not-to-be ignored problems of race in the district.  Based on enrollment preferences, those schools have the tendency to pick and choose who they want based on “specific interest”.

I definitely think Bohm’s resolution is a good one.  Red Clay had mixed results with their Inclusion Plan over the past few years which has prompted significant changes in the way the district handles special education.  Based on 2016-2017 data, Red Clay has more minorities than white students, with the largest of those minorities being Hispanic students at around 30%.  But what I don’t want to see this committee doing is basing student success on Smarter Balanced Assessment scores.  I do not believe these are a valid measurement of student success in any possible way.  Many in the African-American community feel these are a valid measurement since they include all students, but when the test is flawed it is not a good measurement.

To read the entire plan, please see below.

The Exceptional Delaware 2017 Pollapalooza!

It’s been a while since I conducted a series of polls in one post based on current education issues.  These are some of the big-topic issues facing Delaware education along with some political hot-button issues!

 

 

Delaware ACLU Planning To Sue State Over Education Funding

In a shocking announcement, the Delaware American Civil Liberties Union wants to sue the State of Delaware over education funding.  But the announcement was not made by the ACLU but rather a Capital School District Board of Education member at their meeting last evening. Continue reading “Delaware ACLU Planning To Sue State Over Education Funding”