Delaware DOE Breaks Federal Law By Sneaking In Amendment To ESEA Waiver Without Public Notice

The mischievous and law-breaking Delaware Department of Education actually snuck in an amendment to their ESEA Flexibility Waiver without notifying the public at all.  As required by Federal law, any changes to a state’s ESEA Flexibility Waiver MUST have a public announcement indicating the proposed change.  As well, there is a public comment period required where anyone can comment based on the public announcement.  But as usual, the Delaware DOE does as they see fit and continue to break laws with no oversight or accountability…

ESEAFlexibility

ESEAFlexibility2ESEAFlexibility3

I just found this on their website today.  I love how they include in their document to US DOE that they are attaching the pages in their ESEA waiver with red-lined parts where this amendment would change their waiver, but don’t have a link for the public to see this change.  And let’s be honest, this change wasn’t brought forth because of parents clamoring for it.  It was brought forth because the Delaware DOE was wetting their pants over how many juniors opted out last year!  It also references the February 19th, 2016 redline of the US DOE approved ESEA Waiver request, but no document is listed on the page anywhere.  So what does this mysterious document even say?

In regards to the other ESEA waiver the Delaware DOE is asking for public comment on, nothing is listed on the ESEA portion of the Delaware DOE website.  But the ironic part about that ESEA waiver is US DOE told Delaware DOE not to worry about having the DESS Advisory Committee comment on it, even though that is required by law.  So we have US DOE telling us to break the law and don’t worry about it, but they want us to submit this ESEA waiver even though it will be null and void as of August 1, 2017 when ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act) goes into effect.  Or will it?  We won’t know until the regulations come out in the coming months.  I see this as a way for US Secretary of Education John King to continue the legacy of Arne Duncan by essentially bribing states with these waiver schemes.  And of course all this comes out after the Senate confirms the snake.

I was at the December State Board of Education where there was an “open discussion”.  Secretary Godowsky said something to the effect of “We are excited to make this change and I think we will have an announcement very soon.”  An “open discussion” would indicate the public was allowed to comment on this during this exchange.  That was not the case.  You can listen to the audio here.  Godowsky did mention many things would need to be ironed out with US DOE during this “open discussion”.  By submitting this ESEA flexibility waiver on March 29th, 2016, three months after Governor Markell and Godowsky announced the switch, how is that ironing things out?

As well, all the prior “stakeholder feedback” was meant to discuss the possibility of the issue.  That should NOT be counted as official public comment required under ESEA law.  But this is the Delaware DOE and the US DOE who bend and shape the laws to their own benefit.  And our Delaware legislators and US legislators just sit back and let it happen.  Wasn’t the whole point of ESSA to stop the US DOE from pulling this kind of crap?  And here we are in Delaware with not one, but two ESEA waivers with very questionable legality issues surrounding both of them.

And what exactly is going on with the DESS Advisory Committee?  Did they cancel them as a group since ESEA was going to be eliminated soon anyways?  But based on that line of thought we shouldn’t be submitting anything regarding ESEA.  Or is this just another way to try to get the feds to approve Delaware’s cockamamie opt out penalty into the Delaware School Success Framework?  Since they didn’t approve that based on their  November resubmission of the ESEA waiver request as a condition of their July approval of the ESEA waiver request because of ESSA.  Are you as confused as I am?  My head is spinning…

WTH

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Breaking News: ESEA To Continue For “Several Years” Even With Implementation Of ESSA

Yesterday, I broke the  news that the Delaware Department of Education was going to be submitting another ESEA waiver.  Even though the Every Student Succeeds Act forbids these waiver schemes.  I reached out to the Delaware DOE for more information on this latest waiver, and received the following information from Alison May, the Public Information Officer at the DOE.  Below is what Alison sent me, including the letter Ann Whalen sent to all the states, along with the letter states would need to sign to get the waiver.  Note the part I bolded which extends ESEA waivers well after ESSA will be implemented.  There are serious games afoot here.  Is John King already abusing his authority?  Will Congressman John Kline (MN) intervene and stop this dead in its tracks?

Meanwhile, like with all previous ESEA flexibility waivers, state education agencies are required to get public comment on the waivers.  With three weeks time, how can this happen?  Some district boards don’t meet again until after the April 15th deadline.  Don’t they also have to submit any ESEA waivers to the Delaware Education Support System (DESS) advisory council?  How could that happen, as required by Delaware law, if the meeting scheduled for this week is canceled and no meetings are scheduled between now and April 22nd?

DESSMeetingCanceled

We are already losing a week due to Easter/Spring break.  As well, the Delaware General Assembly will be off for two weeks after this week.  How is the Delaware DOE going to make sure everyone sees this?  Or is just merely putting a notice up, hidden away on their website, or sending out a tweet, sufficient?  Thank God I find these things when I do!  This is the same kind of non-transparent information they put out there like the Accountability Framework Working Group last year.  They count on folks not looking for or even knowing where to find this information.  Too bad they didn’t count on me!

If the Delaware DOE’s deadline is April 15th, and this information is due to US DOE on April 22nd, does this mean the State Board of Education will put it up as an action item at their April 21st meeting?  Will they allow public comment on an action item which they typically don’t due to their archaic rules?

FW: FW: Letter from Senior Advisor Whalen re: Speaking and Listening Waiver People 

Attachments

  • Speaking and Listening Waiver Request Template.docx

 Per your request, please see below and attached. This guidance also is posted on USED’s website.
Alison
From: Honeysett, Adam [mailto:Adam.Honeysett@ed.gov]
Sent: Wednesday, March 02, 2016 9:17 AM
Subject: Letter from Senior Advisor Whalen re: Speaking and Listening Waiver

EXAMPLE OF REQUEST TO WAIVE THE SPEAKING AND LISTENING REQUIREMENT UNDER THE EVERY STUDENT SUCCEEDS ACT (ESSA)

Ann Whalen

Senior Advisor to the Secretary

Delegated the Duties of Assistant

Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education

Office of Elementary and Secondary Education

U.S. Department of Education

400 Maryland Avenue, SW

Washington, DC 20202

 

Dear Ms. Whalen:

I am writing to request a waiver, pursuant to section 8401(b) of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), of section 1111(b)(3)(C)(ii) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB), that [State]’s assessment system measure the full range of the State’s academic content standards. [State] requests this waiver only with respect to measuring the State’s speaking and listening content standards, which are part of the State’s reading/language arts academic content standards.  [State] requests this waiver because it is not practicable at this time for [State] to administer a large-scale summative assessment that includes speaking and listening standards.  This waiver will advance student achievement by permitting [State] to have a valid and reliable assessment system that measures the full range of the rest of the State’s academic content standards while providing time to complete the work necessary to have a valid and reliable measure of speaking and listening content standards.

[State] requests this waiver to allow for continued State and local receipt of Title I, Part A funding in good standing while [State] completes additional work to develop accurate, valid, reliable, and instructionally useful assessments related to speaking and listening. This waiver is requested for the 2015-2016 school year [(if requesting) through the 2016-2017 school year].  [State] assures that, if it is granted the requested waiver —

  • It will continue to meet all other requirements of section 1111(b)(3) of the ESEA, as amended by NCLB, and implementing regulations with respect to all State-determined academic content standards and assessments, including reporting student achievement and school performance, disaggregated by subgroups, to parents and the public.
  • It will continue to work toward assessing speaking and listening consistent with the State’s academic content standards.

 

Prior to submitting this waiver request, [State] provided all LEAs in the State with notice and a reasonable opportunity to comment on this request. [State] provided such notice by [insert description of notice, e.g., sending a letter to each LEA on [date] or sending an email to each LEA on [date]] (see copy of notice attached).  Copies of all comments that [State] received from LEAs in response to this notice are attached hereto.  [State] also provided notice and a reasonable opportunity to comment regarding this waiver request to the public in the manner in which [State] customarily provides such notice and opportunity to comment to the public [e.g., by publishing a notice of the waiver request in the following newspapers; by posting information regarding the waiver request on its website] (see attached copy of public notice).

Please feel free to contact me by phone or email at [contact information] if you have any questions regarding this request.  Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

John King In The Job A Week And Delaware DOE Is Getting Ready To Submit Another ESEA Flex Waiver

This just came across my newsfeed:

Delaware continues to work with the U.S. Department of Education to develop best practices with respect to assessing speaking and listening on large-scale assessments. As with many other states, Delaware will be requesting a limited waiver of section 1111(b)(3)(C)(ii) of the ESEA, as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB), so that the state’s assessment system need not measure the state’s speaking and listening standards for the 2016-2017 school year. Input, comments and questions may be submitted at feedback@doe.k12.de.us through April 15.

Why does Delaware need a “limited” ESEA Flexibility Waiver?  What are we giving up so we are not beholden to this “state’s speaking and listening standards”?  I looked on both the Delaware Department of Education website and the United States Department of Education website and found nothing about this crucial need to submit another waiver.  President Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act three months ago.  It goes into effect August 1st of this year.

The only reference from now US Secretary of Education John King about using federal funds for anything is for assessment inventories, something Delaware is nearly done with.  Why isn’t the Delaware DOE giving more information about this?  Why would they solicit public comment without anything to look at?  Yes, we know most of the changes with ESSA won’t take place until after the 2016-2017 school year, but why are they trying to implement more waiver schemes, something ESSA strictly forbids them to do?  I’m calling shenanigans right now!  John King can’t be trusted and the Delaware Department of Education follows suit.  Funny how the two bills that would call for the General Assembly to approve any ESEA flexibility waivers were stricken in January.  Maybe they need to come back tomorrow!  Paging State Representatives Kim Williams and Sean Lynn!  Get your bills back on the table!  This is most likely a play to get Regulation 103 back on the table in Delaware…

To read John King’s missive to “Chief State School Officers”, look below…

Delaware Receives Extension Of Time On ESEA Renewal Waivers

The United States Department of Education granted Delaware an extension on their latest Elementary & Secondary Education Act (ESEA) Renewal.  The deadline had been October 31st, but the Delaware DOE was granted a reprieve until November 24th.  This will allow the State Board of Education to vote on the Delaware School Success Framework (DSSF) which is the only pending item from Delaware’s ESEA Flexibility Renewal originally approved in July.

The DSSF gained quite a bit of controversy when this blog revealed to the public there were plans to have harsh penalties to Delaware schools if they missed the 95% participation rate based on opt-out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  The Accountability Framework Working Group met in September and October and the group opted for the participation rate penalty of no school being a Reward School if they did not meet the 95% threshold.  As well, schools must write a report to the DOE on how they plan to get the participation rate back up.  A high school in Red Clay had 40% participation with high school juniors.  The prior penalty had the proficiency rate of schools multiplied by the participation rate.

This could still happen if the State Board of Education, who has the final say, votes for that part of the school report card.  The State Board of Education meets on November 19th.  Public comment will not be allowed on this due to it being an action item for the meeting.  The new Secretary of Education for Delaware, Dr. Steven Godowsky, said he doesn’t think the multiplier will be approved by the State Board, but he did not come out and say this as a definite.  The DOE claims they MUST have some type of punishment, but this is highly controversial based on the US DOE not having this written as a law or approved regulation.  The US Congress has never approved anything of this sort.

If the State Board does pass the multiplier penalty, look for the DOE and State Board getting a ton of grief.  In the end, the final say is actually Delaware Governor Jack Markell.  The Secretary and the State Board are appointed by Markell, and they “serve at the pleasure of the Governor”.

Delaware State Board of Education Approves ESEA Waiver, Unanimous Vote

Delaware DOE’s Draft Of ESEA Waivers Assures Continuation of Smarter Balanced For 5 Years, Protest This Waiver!!!

All Delaware citizens need to very carefully read this document that will have a vote at the next State Board of Education meeting on March 19th.  This is a trap, carefully designed by the Delaware Department of Education, to continue the education reform agendas brought on by the US Department of Education in 2009.  Parents need to contact their legislators, schools, superintendents, teachers, Governor Markell, and the Delaware DOE in protest of this vote.

By standing by and doing nothing, we will allow our children to continue to be subjected to high-stakes testing and awkward and confusing curriculums in our schools.  With the parent opt out movement increasing every day in Delaware, this is the next thing to protest.  The response from students, particularly in higher grade levels, should be to emulate what their peers in other states are doing and refuse the tests.

Our children are more than data.  And don’t let the Delaware DOE lie to you with this waiver request: Parents don’t want the Common Ground for Common Core.  This wasn’t even a part of their online survey.  If it was, parents and teachers would have overwhelmingly voted against it.  The DOE’s accountability system in this waiver was carefully designed to allow for the best possible answers to a limited scope of possibilities.  This is for their benefit, not your children.  The time has come to change education in our system and bring it back to what it rightfully should be.  Please come to the State Board of Education meeting on March 19th to say no to these waivers.

Delaware DOE Town Hall Meetings This Month To Get Community Input On ESEA Flex Waivers

As per everyone’s favorite Delaware DOE Public Information Officer:

State seeks public input on ESEA Flexibility renewal

The Delaware Department of Education is seeking public input on its ESEA Flexibility waiver renewal application. 

The U.S. Department of Education has offered states the opportunity to apply for renewed flexibility from specific requirements of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA Flexibility). To receive renewal states must describe their plans to meet core principles in four major areas:

  1. College- and career-ready expectations for all students
  2. Differentiated recognition, accountability and support systems for schools and districts
  3. Supporting effective instruction and leadership
  4. Reducing duplication and unnecessary burden 

The Delaware Department of Education received an ESEA Flexibility waiver in 2012 for two years through the end of the 2013-14 school year and a one-year extension earlier this year that is valid through the end of the 2014-15 school year. Information about the approved waiver and extension may be found at http://dedoe.schoolwires.net/Page/330.

The town halls are scheduled for:

  • 4 to 5 p.m., Friday, January 9 online
  • 6 to 7 p.m., Wednesday, January 14 at the Carvel Building 2nd Floor auditorium, 820 N. French St. in Wilmington
  • 6 to 7 p.m., Thursday, January 15 at the William Henry Middle School auditorium, 65 Carver Road in Dover
  • 6 to 7 p.m., Wednesday, January 21 online
  • 6 to 7 p.m., Thursday, January 22 at the Woodbridge High School auditorium, 14712 Woodbridge Road in Greenwood

Information about how to join the online town halls and presentation materials will be available shortly at http://dedoe.schoolwires.net/Page/1801.

Alison May alison.may@doe.k12.de.us (302) 735-4000

I think anyone who can make these meetings should attend.  These are the same waivers that have allowed for the creation of the priority schools and will do further damage to our schools in order to fulfill Markell and Rodel’s corporate education reform agenda.  More information on the intention of these waivers can be found here: http://www2.ed.gov/policy/elsec/leg/esea02/pg110.html#sec9401