The Arne Grinch Who Stole Christmas And Promised To Punish School-Ville

ArneGrinch

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Arne Duncan Calls For Limits On Testing…Is This US DOE’s Version Of Delaware’s Senate Joint Resolution #2?

As heard pretty much everywhere, US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan along with President Obama’s administration called for a limit on standardized testing and state it shouldn’t take up more than 2% of class time.  Do Not Be Fooled!  The words Smarter Balanced Assessment and PARCC were never mentioned in this press release.  Many states have called for a reduction in testing.  But not the ones that people REALLY want to disappear.  It is my contention that the feds are mimicking what many states are doing: trying to get rid of district assessments in lieu of the big state standardized assessments that Obama and Duncan just love so much.

Last March, Delaware Governor Jack Markell called for a limit in testing.  Coincidentally, this happened at the exact same time the opt-out movement in Delaware was gaining steam.  Coincidentally, Delaware Senator David Sokola introduced Senate Joint Resolution #2 within a week after the House of Representatives passed the opt-out legislation in Delaware, House Bill 50.  SJR #2 was the legislation to go along with Markell’s test reduction announcement.  Coincidentally, the task force to examine all of these assessments has done absolutely nothing.  Aside from some legislators being assigned to the task force, no planned dates have been announced for it whatsoever.  And coincidentally, when Governor Markell vetoed House Bill 50, take a wild guess what Markell and the DOE’s main reason was for this?  Because we are already going to reduce testing.

I got a ton of heat for casting fingers on SJR #2, but I have yet to be proven wrong.  Now the Feds are playing the same game.  And people are getting excited.  Once again, don’t be fooled.  Parents aren’t opting out of district assessments that gave immediate feedback and actually help teachers.  They are opting out of SBAC and PARCC.  Because they don’t help students or teachers, and there is no immediate feedback.  Hell, teachers can’t even see the questions or the answers.  Until President Obama publicly apologizes for the policies and non-Congressionally approved mandates coming out of HIS Department of Education, and abolishes all of these standardized assessments and the punitive measures they have on teachers and schools, I don’t believe a word he says about this matter.

Want to know when the SJR #2 Task Force will start to meet?  Probably the second a legislator brings up the veto override of House Bill 50!

Letter From John Kline To Arne Duncan Surfaces, Raises Serious Questions About National Student Database

The Department’s effort to shepherd states toward the creation of a de facto national student database raises serious legal and prudential questions.  Congress has never authorized the Department of Education to facilitate the creation of a national student database.  To the contrary, Congress explicitly prohibited the “development of a nationwide database of personally identifiable information under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (20 U.S.C. § 7911)

Back in 2010, as Race To The Top was introduced, part of the initiative included the creation of a Statewide Longitudinal Data System, or SLDS for short.  The idea, according to the below letter, was for states to share data with each other.  US Representative John Kline, of Minnesota, opposed this idea.  The letter stated the inherent dangers in birthing a database of this type.

Does anyone know if Arne actually responded to Kline’s letter?  I would love to see that response!

Badass Teachers Association: Rejoiced Over Arne Duncan & Horrified Over John King

The Badass Teachers Association, a group of over 70,000 teachers nationwide released a press statement on Arne Duncan’s resignation as the United States Secretary of Education and President Obama’s selection of former New York Commissioner John King as his replacement.  The BATs are NOT happy about this, and I don’t think anyone who cares about public education should be either…

BATs Respond to Duncan Leaving USDOE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 2, 2015
More information contact:
Marla Kilfoyle, General Manager BATs or Melissa Tomlinson, Asst. General Manager BATs
Contact.batmanager@gmail.com
The Badass Teachers Association at badassteacher.org
Today the White House confirmed that U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan would be stepping down. The Badass Teachers Association, an education activist organization with over 70,000 supporters nationwide, celebrate this decision. Sadly, at the same time we rejoice the resignation of a man who has done more destruction to public education than any other sitting Secretary, we are horrified that President Obama has chosen to replace him with John King. John King is the former Commissioner of Education in New York.
John King’s tenure in New York was one of controversy and with an established agenda of dismantling public education by using corporate education reform tactics. King was run out of New York in 2014 because of a staggering test opt out rate, because he ignored and dismissed parents at education forums, and because he refused to fix an education system that he himself destroyed. The state teachers union, NYSUT, had a unanimous vote of no confidence in him prior to his departure.
“While we are glad to see Arne Duncan leave his post as one of the most destructive people to hold the title of Secretary of Education, we remain concerned that he will be replaced with yet another non-educator that will continue the Corporate Education Agenda. What we need now more than ever, is a compassionate, knowledgable, and experienced educator at the helm of this country’s highest education post.” – Gus Morales, Massachusetts BAT and Public Education Teacher 9 years
“John King did more destruction to the New York State education system than any sitting commissioner I have known in my tenure as an educator in New York State. He dismissed the parents, teachers, and students of New York State by calling us “special interest groups.” The fact that he has been elevated to the U.S. Secretary of Education is beyond appalling.” Marla Kilfoyle, New York BAT and Public Education Teacher in New York for 29 years.
John King taught for three years in a “no-excuses” charter chain that had a high suspension rate. His agenda in New York State was to attempt to destroy the public’s confidence in public education. He grossly miscalculated the parents, educators and students of New York State. We anticipate he will continue his failed New York agenda while head of the United States Department of Education.

# #  #

Governor Markell on Arne Duncan’s Exit: The Red Pen Edition

US Secretary of Education submitted his resignation letter earlier today.  I have to admit, when I first saw the headline, I was deathly afraid to read the article.  Why?  Because a couple years ago there was a rumor Duncan was going to resign then.  And one of the names put forth as a possible replacement?  None other than Delaware Governor Jack Markell.  Markell has been one of the chief proponents of Duncan and Obama’s education reform agenda.  He embraced the Common Core like a nail to a magnet.  So it was with great relief when I read the article and didn’t see his name.  That relief was soon replaced with horror as I read the name of the replacement: former NY Commissioner John King.  Make no mistake, King is probably worse than Duncan.

Today, Markell put forth a statement on Duncan’s resignation.  I feel obligated to give it the Transparent Christina Red Pen edition.

Governor’s Statement on Secretary Duncan Stepping Down

Wilmington, DE – Governor Markell issued the following statement in reaction to today’s news that U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan will leave his position in December:

He really wished he could put forth a statement indicating he would have been appointed, but failure is well-known in the halls of D.C.

“Secretary Duncan stepped into his role at a challenging time, when our changing economy means that the level of education and training our young people receive, from pre-school through postsecondary programs, is more important than ever,” said Governor Markell. “He recognized that we must improve the resources available for our schools to do their jobs, while doing more to hold our system accountable for serving all students.

So what he did, and Markell helped him out on this and don’t let anyone ever tell you otherwise, was engineer programs and policies to come up with Common Core and very high-stakes standardized assessments based on that curriculum.  Duncan and Markell definitely improved “resources for our schools” by allowing companies to come in and try to “fix” our “failing” education system.  All for the grand goal of destroying traditional public education in an attempt to get more charters out there.  We see how that is working out in the First State.

“As a country we can be grateful that he never shied away from this hard but necessary work. As a Governor, I particularly appreciate his focus on challenging states to find new ways to increase opportunities for students, while providing unprecedented opportunities for us to implement innovative solutions through initiatives like Race to the Top and the Early Learning Challenge. His determination to get more of our youngest kids the opportunities they deserve raised awareness about the importance of high quality early childhood programs and raised expectations for what should be available to kids from communities that have long been underserved.

Which country are you living in Jack?  We know you appreciate it!  When can we see your stock portfolio?  You and Race To The Top.  You will never let us forget Delaware’s absolute complicity in that, will you?  And those communities that have “long been underserved”?  You helped perpetuate that by cutting key funding before Race To The Top, never replacing it, and then holding a sword to the throats of every school district in the state with Race To The Top.  Embrace or die!  You are a hypocrite of the highest measure Governor Markell.  You let Rodel and corporate education reformers destroy Delaware education.  And they are still here.  Meanwhile, after the results came back from the “best test Delaware ever created”, we see students with disabilities, low-income students, and minorities are even further behind than their peers.  But let’s be innovative and emulate what is “working” in our schools: the ones with selective and preferential enrollment practices that marginalize and segregate the most vulnerable students in the state.  You crapped on teachers so much that they hate you with such a passion you can’t see straight.  All in the name of the students, right Jack?  You are such a horrible Governor and I can’t wait until you leave.  You are just as corrupt as Arne and one day you will be held accountable.

“During numerous visits to Delaware, Secretary Duncan showed a commitment to seeking out what’s working and what needs to be improved in our schools, and Delaware students are better off for his efforts. I thank him for his service and wish him and his family well in whatever comes next.”

Two of his “numerous” visits to Delaware were to the same school Jack.  If Duncan truly gave a crap about our schools he would have gone to different ones.  He would have actually engaged with students instead of watching you suck up to him.  On his last visit, it was the day after YOUR Department got grilled by the House Education Committee and the Joint Finance Committee over all the wasted money that was Race To The Top.  I do not thank Duncan for his service.  I lament every second of his service that has given us an immeasurable amount of Federal control over education, horrible and crappy tests, a curriculum that makes no sense, and countless taxpayer dollars going to countless companies that didn’t even exist twenty-five years ago.  I can’t wait until you do the same thing and hand in a resignation letter before your time.  Please make it happen.  I opted out of your belief system years ago, and more Delawareans are doing the same every day.  Veto that Jack!

Breaking News: Arne Duncan Resigning As US Secretary of Education

U.S. News and World Report just broke the news: Arne Duncan is stepping down as US Secretary of Education at the end of this year!  More details to come.

Duncan says in a letter to staff that he’s returning to Chicago to live with his family.

The letter was obtained by The Associated Press and confirmed by a White House official. The official wasn’t authorized to comment by name and spoke on condition of anonymity.

President Barack Obama is tapping Education Department official John King Jr. as acting secretary through the end of his term. But Obama is not nominating King to be secretary.

This is huge news for education in America!  But it may not be great news because it looks like his replacement isn’t much better.  John King resigned as Commissioner of Schools in New York last year and went over to the US DOE.  As Diane Ravitch wrote last December:

King encountered strong opposition from parents and educators for his strong advocacy of Common Core, high-stakes testing, and test-based evaluations of teachers and principals.

Take New York State Commissioner John King. His teaching experience is limited to three years in a no-excuses charter school where poor kids were expelled for minor infractions. Having been chosen to lead the Empire State, where only 3% of children are in charters, he has decided that the Common Core standards are his heroic mission. He has compared himself to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. And just a few days ago, he said that the advocates for the Common Core were like the all-black World War II unit called the Tuskegee Airmen.

When King resigned, the New York State Allies for Public Education, and BATS Spokeswoman Marla Kilfoyle commented in a press release from the NYSAPE:

Marla Kilfoyle, General Manager of the BATS stated, “John King has disregarded the voice of the practitioners in the classroom which soundly told him that the policies he promoted were hurting children and destroying their education.” – See more at: http://www.nysape.org/john-king-resigns-parents–educators-call-for-a-new-direction-from-the-regents-and-demand-no-interference-from-governor-cuomo.html#sthash.WIOZ2xp8.dpuf

Dear Secretary Arne Duncan Letter, Federal and State Complaints Against DOE & State Board Revealed

Today is Parent Strike!  I will be holding a press conference shortly in front of Legislative Hall.  It could be five people, or it could be a hundred.  Either way a message will be sent and it will be one the Delaware Department of Education will NEVER forget.  I found their Achilles heel, actually, many of them once I knew what to do.  For some of this, it took weeks of culminating information.  For others, it was just a matter of attending a meeting.  It is past time the Delaware DOE was held accountable for THEIR actions.  They know this is coming, and they have not reached out once to explain anything.

It is not my intention to demolish the DOE.  It is my intention for them to want to change their actions.

In the below document, I sent an email to United States Secretary of Education Arne Duncan earlier this morning.  For clarity purposes, SEA stands for State Educational Agency, or what we all refer to in Delaware, as the DOE.  LEA stands for Local Educational Agency, commonly known as school districts or an individual charter school.

So what are the complaints I filed against the Delaware Department of Education, the State Board of Education and Executive Director of the State Board of Education Donna Johnson?

Delaware Department of Education:

It is my contention for the following: Delaware DOE failed to adequately provide for public comment on Delaware’s ESEA Flexibility Renewal in March of 2015- the DOE released a draft of their ESEA waiver to the public.  The DOE failed to include the “participation rate” category in the draft they released to the public even though it was already an approved category for the Delaware School Success Framework by the private, non-public Accountability Framework Working Group.  The DOE put it in their final draft on 3/31/2015 without any public comment on this portion.  This was, in my opinion, done deliberately to prevent support for House Bill 50, the opt-out legislation which was stirring a lot of public debate in March of 2015.

Complaint filed with the US Department of Education Office of Inspector General on 9/16/15, Complaint filed with Delaware Department of Justice on 9/10/15

It is my contention the Delaware Department of Education has failed to monitor crucial special education practices in respect to Delaware charter schools and a continued practice of denied Individualized Education Programs.  Because of the very low n number in relation to school accountability with standardized test scores, it has allowed Delaware charter schools to keep a low number of special education students.  All too often, many students are either expelled or counseled out from the charter school, or the parents do not return the child to the charter school the next school year.  The Delaware DOE is very much aware of these issues as I met with the Director of the Exceptional Children Resources Group last year and she advised me there is no method by which the DOE can keep track of these instances and they will not because the “due process system is more than fair”.  The DOE has allowed this environment to continue without any repercussions for anyone except the aggrieved student and their families.  All too often, parents are forced to seek outside counsel to resolve issues which tends to resolve itself in a mediation, but the damage has already been done for the student with disabilities.

Complaint filed with the US DOE Office of Civil Rights on 9/16/15

The Delaware DOE charged $300 for a Freedom of Information Act request I submitted on 9/10/15.  The request was for an email search for a few people at Delaware DOE in the past month to another state agency.  It is my contention they failed to provide a list of all charges for the request.  They claimed DTI is the one charging the costs for the email search, which is correct, but they did not provide a breakdown of any other charges for the FOIA. They stated in email they would not continue with the request until I paid $300 for the DTI search.  As well, I asked if their public information officer could simply ask the individuals for the emails and I received no response to this.  This is after the DOJ already issued a legal opinion on another FOIA matter and stated the DOE failed to adequately follow this part of state law.

Complaint filed with the Delaware Department of Justice on 9/11/15

Delaware State Board of Education:

By approving an ESEA flexibility renewal for submission to the US DOE without public comment on a crucial section, the State Board, as directed by their Executive Director Donna Johnson, approved a non-transparent and illegal ESEA draft because they duped the public by leaving out crucial parts, similar to the DOE complaint

Complaint filed with the Delaware Department of Justice on 9/10/15

Delaware Department of Education AND Delaware State Board of Education:

I attended part of the State Board of Education Retreat on Monday, September 14th.  This was a public meeting, announced by the State Board of Education on their website and also on the Public Meeting Calendar on the state website.  I was the only member of the public in attendance at this meeting.  As the Delaware Department of Education was about to present information on the state assessment, Smarter Balanced Assessment, I openly asked if there was any embargoed information.  State Board of Education Executive Director Donna Johnson said “No, this is a public meeting.”

During a presentation by the head of instruction, Dr. Michael Watson, he was going through a slide show, and as he was going to the next one, he told me “This is embargoed information.”  But he presented it anyways, at a public meeting.  Later on in the afternoon, as the DOE and State Board were about to discuss information on the Smarter Balanced results, Donna Johnson, Shana Young (DOE) and Dr. Penny Schwinn (DOE) kept looking at me, whispering, and announced they would not be showing some information but it would be sent to the State Board members.  Even later, DOE employee Ryan Reyna advised of a slide with “embargoed” information concerning Smarter Balanced Assessment results for sub-groups.  It is my contention the State Board of Education and the Delaware DOE conspired to hold information they would have otherwise shown if I was not present, and when they did present information that was “embargoed”, they attempted to persuade me to not reveal it.  This is not in the spirit of an “open meeting” and violates FOIA in my opinion.  I am requesting a legal opinion on this matter.

Complaint filed with the Delaware Department of Justice on 9/17/15

State Board of Education President Dr. Teri Quinn Gray:

In her capacity as President of the State Board of Education, Dr. Gray is in a position of making education decisions for the students of Delaware.  Frequently, the Delaware Department of Education contracts or pays certain vendors to provide information to the Delaware State Board of Education to enact policy or regulatory changes.  One such vendor is the U.S. Education Delivery Institute.  Dr. Gray sits on the board of that company as well.  This company has received $345,218.50 from the DOE since FY2011 without any public acknowledgment from Dr. Gray of her capacity on this board.  This is a conflict of interest, both morally and financial.

Complaint filed with the Delaware Department of Justice on 9/17/15

State Board of Education Executive Director Donna Johnson:

In her capacity as a State of Delaware employee and the Executive Director of the State Board of Education, Donna Johnson emailed personal student information  as well as medical information about the student to a person who did not need to know this and asked this person to intervene instead of the local school district authority, she also emailed medical information about a Delaware Department of Education employee to the same person.  Both of these, in my opinion, are clear and blatant violations of FERPA and HIPAA laws.  The person she emailed this information to is myself.  As well, through personal email, Donna Johnson sent official state business to the same individual, and it is my contention, she sometimes conveyed false information, such as suggesting two members of the Christina School Board reported their own district to the Delaware State Auditor resulting in an official investigation by the State Auditor’s office.  The State Auditor’s office publicly stated there is no investigative audit going on with the Christina School District.  It is my contention Donna Johnson used this false information in an attempt to publicly ridicule and demean a traditional school district which had failed in two referendum attempts and was in the midst of internal tension due to a leave of absence of their Superintendent.  Both board members openly informed me they never made a call to the State Board of Education about a request for an investigative audit against the school district they serve.  In addition, through various blog commenter handles, Donna Johnson attempted to sway public policy using pseudonyms and aliases while she was privy to information the public did not know.

Complaint filed with Delaware Department of Justice on 9/10/15.

So there you have it.  And I will say this now, every single time the Delaware Department of Education, the State Board of Education, or any employee violates FOIA, or any other single law in this state, I will report them.  I urge every single citizen in the state to do the same.  They wanted accountability.  I just hope they are able to give the same rigor and grit during the coming months, when they have to answer for all this, that they expect out of Delaware students and teachers.  This is Delaware education, the sides the public doesn’t see.  And it is just beginning…

Below is just part of the formal complaints issued with the Delaware Department of Justice.

Arne Duncan’s Threats Of Federal Funding Cuts For Opt-Out Go Up In Smoke!

Kate Taylor wrote in the New York Times today an article stating New York State Chancellor of the State Board of Regents, Merryl H. Tisch, would not give any district with high opt-out rates any Federal funding cuts for going below the 95% participation threshold in standardized tests.

But on Thursday, the chancellor of the State Board of Regents, Merryl H. Tisch, said that the federal Education Department informed the state’s Education Department “a couple of weeks ago” that it was leaving any decision about financial penalties to the state. And Ms. Tisch, whose board oversees the state agency and appoints the commissioner, said the state did not plan to withhold money from districts.

All that melodrama from United States Secretary of Education and state education leaders and Governors about Federal funding cuts, including Title I funds, was nothing but empty threats.  I’ve been saying this for months, as well as many others, but no one in my state, Delaware, would indicate this would or would not happen.  I heard from one state legislator in Delaware who indicated he opposed our opt-out legislation, House Bill 50, because “you don’t know what Arne Duncan told me he will do if this passes.”  Now we have a crystal clear answer: nothing.

In Delaware, in approximately one month, we will experience Parent Freak-Out 2015 when Delaware parents receive the Smarter Balanced Assessment results.  As I stated when Governor Markell vetoed House Bill 50 in July, opt-out is dead, just REFUSE THE TEST!  But I still want the 148th General Assembly to override Markell’s veto, because it is a great bill!

On the first day of school, starting next week for many Delaware students, just give the letter to the principal stating you refuse to let your child take the Smarter Balanced Assessment, you expect your child to be educated based on their current curriculum, and you do not want to discuss it further.  This is your right Delaware parents, and no one can stop you from doing this.  Do what is right for your child and REFUSE THE TEST!

Arne Duncan Wants Parent Participation: Has He Been Listening? Parents Are Opting Kids Out Of Assessments He Endoreses! Wake Up Arne!

At the National PTA Conference in Charlotte, North Caroline, United States Secretary of Education Arne Duncan gave a speech about parent participation in their children’s education.  The details of his speech are below, and I am going to make comments for each paragraph.

Parents are critical assets in education. Parents can be a voice for high expectations for children and for supporting educators in creating schools where all children receive what they need to succeed. An excellent education is every child’s civil right; and while our nation has made great strides—with a record high school graduation rate and college enrollment at all-time highs—we have much further to go to ensure that every child has equal opportunity to learn.

My suggestion would be to actually listen to parents Arne.  Hundreds of thousands of parents in our country are opting their kids out of standardized assessments that your reign as Secretary has FORCED on schools through waivers and little or no choice requirements.  You are right though, an excellent education is every child’s right, which is why parents are exercising their rights to make sure our children are not forced to take assessments that have no bearing on their educational growth.

Parents can play a key role in demanding the world-class education that their children deserve. But, for many parents and families, it can be an uncertain task determining the best ways to support their children or the right questions to ask to ensure their children are learning and growing.

But one thing many parents know is tests like the Smarter Balanced Assessment and the PARCC are not valid methods to determine how our children are learning and growing.  Let me ask you Arne… you are Secretary of Education of the most powerful country in the world.  Did your education prevent that from happening for you?  Was Bill Gates education so bad that he felt the need to change it all?  Neil Armstrong?  Stephen Hawking?  So why do you want to remove that kind of education and make it so all children are forced to be the same?  Is it possible there is a lot of money to be made by making it appear children are doing bad in school?

That’s why, today, speaking from the perspective of a father of two young children, Secretary Arne Duncan described a set of educational rights that should belong to every family in America in a speech at the National PTA Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. This set of three foundational family rights can unite everyone who works to ensure that students are prepared to thrive in school and in life. These rights follow the educational journey of a student—from access to quality preschool; to engagement in safe, well-resourced elementary and secondary schools that hold all students to high standards; to access to an affordable, quality college degree.

I actually don’t have a problem with these rules.  However, the policies you have set in place put minority students, low-income students, and students with disabilities at an unfair advantage.  We can talk Civil Rights any day of the year, but what you have implemented has caused further distances in the education gaps between these sub-groups and their regular peers.  And the humiliating way you have disparaged and insulted teachers in our country is shameful.

Parents and families can use these basic—but necessary—elements of an excellent education to build deeper relationships with educators, administrators, and community leaders to support schools so that these rights become realities. At the Convention, Secretary Duncan also noted his hope that parents will hold elected officials and others accountable for accelerating progress in education and expanding opportunity to more children—particularly our nation’s most vulnerable.

I do believe parents in Oregon and Delaware were very proud of their legislators for passing parent opt-out legislation honoring a parent’s right to choose the best education for their child.  Parents will hold elected officials accountable once the scores on this year’s standardized assessments come in.  They will remember the elected officials that allowed their children to be non-proficient and in need of intervention.  Especially those parents who did not encounter these problems before.

Secretary Duncan’s discussion of this set of rights complements work by the Education Department to reach out to parents—from the Dual Capacity-Building Framework for Family-School Partnerships released last year, to tools that can help families and students select the best colleges for their needs, to support of Parent Training and Information Centers and resource hubs.

Is that way the College Board is turning the SAT into a Common Core based assessment?  One that will mirror the SBAC and PARCC assessments?  And parents don’t need training.  We need responsible people like the Secretary of Education of the USA to get his paws out of local education and stop interfering and causing constant disruptions.  We all know you want to get rid of traditional public school districts and open up charterville across the country. 

While in Charlotte, Secretary Duncan also participated in a “Future Ready Schools” panel to emphasize the importance of integrating technology into the classroom, especially as a tool for promoting equity for all students.

Ah, yes, more personalized learning modules for students to learn from home and then have a teacher go over homework questions in the classroom.  That’s very crafty.  Teachers won’t need as much education and they will just have to follow a script.  We won’t need those pesky teacher unions anymore and we can lower the salaries for these robot teachers.  Promoting equity?  Are you kidding me?  This will ensure that those who struggle the most will continue to be left behind.

To learn more about the rights that Secretary Duncan discussed today and to find other resources for parents and families, visit the Department’s Family and Community Engagement page. And, consider joining Secretary Duncan in a Twitter chat to continue the dialogue about parent involvement in education on July 1 at 1:30 p.m., ET, using #PTChat.

I hope ALL parents join that Twitter party.  I will get a lot of parents to come to that fiesta.  I hope you seriously answer the questions your advisors tell you “don’t answer that question” if you are serious about wanting parent engagement.

This was written by Tiffany Taber and can be found here: http://www.ed.gov/blog/2015/06/the-critical-voice-of-parents-in-education-2/

US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan Video From Wilmington Rotary Club

On 2/19/15, United States Secretary of Education Arne Duncan visited Delaware for the 5th time.  He went to Howard High School which was also included in his first visit to Delaware.  He spoke to the Wilmington Rotary Club about the “gains” Howard H.S. has made since that first visit.

Two Delaware State Representatives, Sean Matthews and John Kowalko, wrote Duncan a letter the day before his visit asking him to visit one of the six priority schools. Duncan did not acknowledge the letter at all.

In his introductory speech, Governor Jack Markell spoke about the “vitriol” in education talk.  There would be no vitriol if there was true stakeholder input Mr. Governor.  Instead, Delaware had education “initiatives” forced on school districts with strict and fierce warnings of non-compliance.  In my world, we call that bullying.

Breaking News: Delaware State Reps Kowalko and Matthews Open Letter To Arne Duncan for his visit tomorrow

Ominous Message About Reauthorization of ESEA, Spread This Around

In the past couple days, a very ominous message about the reauthorization of the Elementary Secondary Education Act has been making the rounds over the internet.  We all need to know what our Federal Government is about to unleash on our country.  I see danger signs everywhere!  This seems to be a bi-partisan effort to keep what is hurting students, teachers, and schools the most.

Subject: ALERT: Stop the ReAuthorization of ESEA 

IMPORTANT: ACTION REQUIRED: PLEASE POST EVERY WHERE!

We have heard that Lamar Alexander’s bill to Reauthorize ESEA ( No Child Left Behind but no number yet) is on such a fast track, a aide in the office said…lightning speed. This federal mandate is just like Obamacare…mandating that individual children must meet Common Core and be given individual remediation by IDEA interventions. This will Nationalize Education in the United States. We must contact everyone across the U.S. and particularly Senators Casey and Toomey in Pennsylvania to STOP THE REAUTHORIZATION OF ESEA until an investigation ensues that: 

1. We must investigate the change of funding that funds an individual through money from TITLE I that follows the child. This is a state’s rights issue. Unconstitutional. 

2. We must investigate the entire TITLE I BLANKET of psychological manipulation of redefining a disability under IDEA and the rehabilitation Act which allows a disability to have interventions….not meeting social and emotional outcomes in Common Core. We can prove this through the contracts revealed in Pennsylvania in our ESEA Flex Waiver. (Interpersonal Skills)

3. We must investigate CHOICE using TITLE I  monies that will be used as the voucher that will mandate Common Core to every private school. This will be the destruction of private and religious schools. 

4. We must investigate the expansion of Charter Schools attached to Choice that impacts every private and religious school. There will be an exodus out of public schools that will crash when private schools accept a choice Title I voucher child.  However, our property taxes  fund a public school.  A charter school has no voice and no vote and no elected school board but uses public funds and your tax dollars. Taxation without representation. (takeover by Charter Schools) 

4. We must investigate the  State longitudinal data systems (funded by NCES) tracking individuals with a unique national ID and evaluating ALL TITLE I CHILDREN ( that’s ALL  children under this legislation.)  

Everyone should explain that because of the ESEA Flexibility Waivers issued by Duncan, we already have felt the pangs of erosion of our rights because of Common Core, no local control, the huge data base in NCES collecting personally identifiable information because of unlocking FERPA by an Executive Order by Obama. 

Stop the nationalizing of education. This is Obama’s Equity Plan.

Which States In The USA Will Get Waivers Up Until 2018-2019?

Waiver.  Anyone who is against the corporate education reform hates this word.  I loathe it.  For all the good it could have done, it has instead been a symbol of the worst from the No Child Left Behind Act.  Certain states have received a lot of money and rewards for succumbing to the Arne Duncan machine.  The latest set of waivers, set to expire in the 2018-2019 academic year, are strongly tied to teacher evaluations.

Most states will be able to apply by late March, but seven states will be able to apply now because they have done such an awesome job screwing teachers over with the federally “suggested” evaluation program.  The states also have to show how they are doing in identifying “low performing” schools and how they are closing the achievement gaps for minorities, low-income, and students with disabilities.  Because making one size fit all when you are putting a circle in a square always works!  And we all know states would never identify these schools to fit their own purposes. Continue reading “Which States In The USA Will Get Waivers Up Until 2018-2019?”

US Secretary Of Education Arne Duncan Changes His Tune But Nobody Is Listening #netde #eduDE @KilroysDelaware @ed_in_de @DEStateBoardEd

Arne Duncan wrote a blog post on August 21st, 2014 with an about-face on many of his earlier stances about standardized testing.  Is this similar to the first blocks coming out of the Berlin Wall which led to the end of the Cold War?  I certainly hope so.  But what are Arne’s motivations here? Is this in response to his conversation with the Badass Teachers Association last month?  Is it cause Bill Gates is starting to walk away from all of this?  Or is he just talking the usual b.s. with the same intentions he has always had (think cha-ching)?  Read what he wrote, but after that go to the link provided below and read all the comments.  Not one of them is positive about what Duncan had to say!

A Back-to-School Conversation with Teachers and School Leaders

As teachers gear up for a new school year, I want to offer two thoughts. One is a message of celebration and thanks. The other is a response to a concern that has come up often in many conversations with teachers and families, and which deserves an answer.

First, the thanks. America’s students have posted some unprecedented achievements in the last year – the highest high school graduation rate in the nation’s history, and sharp cuts in dropout rates and increases in college enrollment, especially for groups that in the past have lagged significantly. For these achievements, we should celebrate America’s teachers, principals, and students and their families. These achievements are also indications of deeper, more successful relationships with our students. All of us who’ve worked with young people know how much they yearn for adults to care about them and know them as individuals.

These achievements come at a time of nearly unprecedented change in American education – which entails enormously hard work by educators. Nearly every state has adopted new standards, new assessments, new approaches to incorporating data on student learning, and new efforts to support teachers.

This transition represents the biggest, fastest change in schools nationwide in our lifetime. And these efforts are essential to prepare kids to succeed in an age when the ability to think critically and creatively, communicate skillfully, and manipulate ideas fluently is vital. I have heard from many teachers that they have not received all the support they’d want during this transition. Yet America’s teachers are making this change work – and I want to recognize and thank them for that and encourage their leadership in this time of change.

That’s the easy part of this message. The harder part has to do with concerns that many teachers have brought to my door.

My team and I hold regular conversations with teachers, principals and other educators, often led by Teacher and Principal Ambassador Fellows, who take a year away from their schools to advise my agency. Increasingly, in those conversations, I hear concerns about standardized testing.

Assessment of student progress has a fundamental place in teaching and learning – few question that teachers, schools and parents need to know what progress students are making. And few question the particular importance of knowing how our most vulnerable students are progressing. Indeed, there’s wide recognition that annual assessments – those required by federal law – have done much to shine a light on the places and groups of students most in need of help. Yet in too many places, it’s clear that the yardstick has become the focus.

There are three main issues I’ve heard about repeatedly from educators:

  1. It doesn’t make sense to hold them accountable during this transition year for results on the new assessments – a test many of them have not seen before – and as many are coming up to speed with new standards.
  2. The standardized tests they have today focus too much on basic skills, not enough on critical thinking and deeper learning.
  3. Testing – and test preparation – takes up too much time.

I share these concerns. And I want our department to be part of the solution.

To those who are reading the last sentence with surprise, let me be clear: assessment is a vital part of teaching and learning, but it should be one part (and only one part) of how adults hold themselves responsible for students’ progress. Schools, teachers and families need and deserve clear, useful information about how their students are progressing. As a parent of two children in public school, I know I want that. And in fact, most teachers and principals I talk with want to be held responsible for students’ progress – through a sensible, smart combination of factors that reflect their work with students – not the level students came in at, or factors outside of their control.

But assessment needs to be done wisely. No school or teacher should look bad because they took on kids with greater challenges. Growth is what matters. No teacher or school should be judged on any one test, or tests alone – always on a mix of measures – which could range from classroom observations to family engagement indicators. In Nevada, educators include a teacher’s contribution to the school community in their measures; in Hawaii, schools consider student feedback surveys and professional growth, such as leading workshops or taking university coursework). Educators in Delaware look at measures of planning and preparation such as lesson plans and descriptions of instructional strategies to be used for students with diverse needs. Federal policy rightly stays out of picking those individual measures, but ensures that in evaluating teachers, states and districts include student growth, and consider multiple measures.

But the larger issue is, testing should never be the main focus of our schools. Educators work all day to inspire, to intrigue, to know their students – not just in a few subjects, and not just in “academic” areas. There’s a whole world of skills that tests can never touch that are vital to students’ success. No test will ever measure what a student is, or can be. It’s simply one measure of one kind of progress. Yet in too many places, testing itself has become a distraction from the work it is meant to support.

I believe testing issues today are sucking the oxygen out of the room in a lot of schools – oxygen that is needed for a healthy transition to higher standards, improved systems for data, better aligned assessments, teacher professional development, evaluation and support, and more. This is one of the biggest changes education in this country has ever seen, and teachers who’ve worked through it have told me it’s allowed them to become the best teachers they’ve ever been. That change needs educators’ full attention.

That’s why – as I shared in a conversation with dozens of teachers at Jefferson Middle School in Washington, D.C. earlier today – we will be taking action in the coming weeks that give states more flexibility in key areas that teachers have said are causing worry.

States will have the opportunity to request a delay in when test results matter for teacher evaluation during this transition. As we always have, we’ll work with them in a spirit of flexibility to develop a plan that works, but typically I’d expect this to mean that states that request this delay will push back by one year (to 2015-16) the time when student growth measures based on new state assessments become part of their evaluation systems – and we will work with states seeking other areas of flexibility as well. We want to make sure that they are still sharing growth data with their teachers, and still moving forward on the other critical pieces of evaluation systems that provide useful feedback to educators.  We will be working in concert with other educators and leaders to get this right. These changes are incredibly important, and educators should not have to make them in an atmosphere of worry. Some states will choose to take advantage of that flexibility; others, especially those that are well along in this transition, will not need a delay. The bottom line is that educators deserve strong support as our schools make vital, and urgently needed, changes. As many educators have pointed out, getting this right rests also on high-quality assessments. Many educators, and parents, have made clear that they’re supportive of assessment that measures what matters – but that a lot of tests today don’t do that – they focus too much on basic skills rather than problem solving and critical thinking. That’s why we’ve committed a third of a billion dollars to two consortia of states working to create new assessments that get beyond the bubble test, and do a better job of measuring critical thinking and writing.

I’m concerned, too, when I see places where adults are gaming tests, rather than using them to help students.

And we also need to recognize that in many places, the sheer quantity of testing – and test prep – has become an issue. In some schools and districts, over time tests have simply been layered on top of one another, without a clear sense of strategy or direction. Where tests are redundant, or not sufficiently helpful for instruction, they cost precious time that teachers and kids can’t afford. Too much testing can rob school buildings of joy, and cause unnecessary stress. This issue is a priority for us, and we’ll continue to work throughout the fall on efforts to cut back on over-testing.

There’s plenty of responsibility to share on these challenges, and a fair chunk of that sits with me and my department. We encouraged states to move a whole lot of changes simultaneously, because of the enormous urgency to raise standards and improve systems of teacher support – not for another generation of students, but for today’s students.

But in how this change happens, we need to listen carefully to the teachers, principals and other educators who are living it on a daily basis – and we need to be true to our promise to be tight on outcomes, but loose on how we get there.

From my first day on this job, the objective has been to work in a spirit of flexibility to help states and communities improve outcomes for kids. We need to make changes, but we are also making progress. I’m determined that, working in partnership, we’ll continue to do both – be flexible and make progress for our kids.

Change is hard, and changes of significance rarely work exactly as planned. But in partnership, making course alterations as necessary, we will get there.

Arne Duncan is U.S. Secretary of Education.

To read the comments based on what Mr. Duncan said, go to http://www.ed.gov/blog/2014/08/a-back-to-school-conversation-with-teachers-and-school-leaders/comment-page-1/#comment-458590 You may just find a certain Delaware blogger’s name on there as well!  Sorry Arne, I’m not buying it.  It’s a little too late in the game for your  teamwork plea.  You took the football, stole it from your team, and ran out of the ballpark a long time ago.

US Secretary Of Education Arne Duncan’s Approval Ratings Released @BadassTeachersA #netde @KilroysDelaware @ed_in_de

According to Education Week, in an article released today, US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is having a rough time with the population based on his current approval ratings. 

His overall Approval Rating is at 42%.  For Higher Education, that’s a bit higher at 44%.  But for K-12 policy, he is at a low 36%.  The article went on to say, only 36% of the respondents believe in the way President Obama and his administration have handled education. 

According to Education Week, those surveyed include “50 to 75 “key education influentials,” including policymakers, thought leaders, and association heads.”  The same group gave a 14% approval rating for how Congress is handling education. 

More information, including a report an reauthorization of ESEA can be found here: http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/campaign-k-12/2014/08/little_hope_for_esea_reauthori.html

 

NAISON: What the BATs Told Duncan and His Staff

Arne Duncan needs to go. Immediately. If he had one more brain cell, it would be lonely. This quote, “what I want is for all students to be able to take advanced placement courses or be exposed to an IB (International Baccalaureat) curriculum” is enough to make me want to vomit in my mouth. How dare he indicate that special needs kids be subjected to his “rigorous” ideals. This has gone beyond the point of absurdity, and I sincerely hope every single teacher that stands for justice sees that he is gone. For those that support him, you are living in a world of delusion. You’ve drank the Kool-Aid, and become ensnared in this despicable web of lies and corruption.

Diane Ravitch's blog

Wow! This post will knock your socks off, unless you work for the U.S. Department of Education. The post was written by Mark NAISON, one of the co-founders of the BATs. (I don’t know why, but my iPad always converts Mark’s last name into all-caps.)

The Badass Teachers Association held a rally outside the U.S. Department of Education on July 28, and several were invited to meet with staff at the Office of Civil Rights to air their grievances and see if they could find common ground. After some talk, some of which was contentious, Arne Duncan dropped in unexpectedly and joined the conversation, but said he would talk about only two subjects:

“Secretary Duncan after introducing himself, and saying that he could only stay for a few minutes, asked for two things; first if we could articulate our concerns about the Department’s policies on dealing with Special needs students…

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National Education Association Wants US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan To Resign #netde #edude

From Education Week:

http://mobile.edweek.org/c.jsp?DISPATCHED=true&cid=25983841&item=http%3A%2F%2Fblogs.edweek.org%2Fedweek%2Fteacherbeat%2F2014%2F07%2Fnea_calls_for_sec_duncans_resi.html%3Futm_source%3Dfeedburner%26utm_medium%3Dfeed%26utm_campaign%3DFeed%253A%2BTeacherBeat%2B%28Education%2BWeek%2BBlog%253A%2BTeacher%2BBeat%29

I would not be upset if Arne Duncan resigned. And Obama brought someone who can come back down to earth, and set education straight again. There has been far too much federal interference with education, and students, parents and teachers are fed up! We don’t want what the feds are selling us. We want our kids to learn, and learn efficiently, for 180 days a year. We don’t want our students and teachers to be judged on three hours of testing. We want them to be graded on what they do every single school day. We don’t want special needs children to be part of a profit-induced scheme. I think the educators in our country are reaching a boiling point, and if they are ignored, it won’t be pretty.