The Mind of Mr. Matthews Makes Way For President Matthews

Mike Matthews doesn’t have to teach for the next three school years!  Instead, he will be taking over from Frederika Jenner as the President of the Delaware State Education Association beginning July 15th.  Today, Mike got his final evaluation before he takes off to Water St. in Dover.  He reflected on this evaluation and much more in his Facebook status earlier this afternoon.  I’m going to say right now, I expect a lot out of Mike the next three years.  My expectations are very high.  Are we going to agree on everything?  Hell no.  I expect we will have our fair share of disagreements.  I also want to wish the very best to the outgoing President, Frederika Jenner.  I never really had the opportunity to get to know Frederika, and I will regret that.  I was very tough on her a couple of years ago, and once again, I apologize to Frederika for that.  But back to President Matthews…

I finish my year at Cooke Elementary with a totally different worldview. I had an excellent Component V conference with my administrator this morning. Now, that’s not to say I’m a fan of Component V. I’m still 100% absolutely against using standardized test scores of students on an educator’s evaluation.

The meeting was productive because it laid bare and confirmed my thoughts over the last few years. Whereas students at my other schools often showed lower proficiency, but high percentages of growth, my students at Cooke showed amazingly high proficiency at the beginning of the year, but some of the Smarter Balanced growth goals set by the state were so high, that a handful of my students didn’t meet them. Consequently, I was one student away from getting an “Exceeds” rating on my Measure A Component V.

It’s a different world at Cooke, with different challenges and successes from what I experienced at Warner and Richardson Park. But my resolve remains: I feel that our educators should not be judged based on a system that has never been shown to be a valid or reliable measure of teacher effectiveness.

I’ll miss being in the classroom next year, but will certainly be fighting like hell with the awesome DSEA team and educators and professionals throughout the state to lobby and advocate for a teacher and specialist evaluation system that respects the work they do.

Breaking News: Mike Matthews Is The New DSEA President

Mike Matthews just put the following post out on Facebook.  Congrats to Mike for his victory.  This was a long and hard fight, but he finally did it.  Look for a different kind of DSEA in the future!

An email has just been sent to all DSEA members. Results were shared this morning and I won the run off election for DSEA president. I’m thrilled and so happy for this. Thank you to all my supporters and thank you to my three opponents, Karen Crouse, Dom Zaffora, and Danny Rufo, who ran really great, issues-based campaigns.

Biggest thank you to my best friend and always-running mate Jackie Kook. This win is bittersweet for me, but I know she will always be there to support me and this organization.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, everyone, and I hope that you have a great weekend.

Delaware Teacher Mike Matthews Reply To Delaware “Education” Governor Jack Markell

Former Red Clay Education Association and current Red Clay teacher Mike Matthews replied to Delaware Governor Jack Markell’s controversial email to Delaware teachers with the words only a teacher can say.  If any other teachers or Delaware citizens want me to publish their reply to our “education” Governor, let me know!

Gov. Markell:

Thank you for the email, but I feel I can’t accept your praise. First, the growth you’re praising is about as much as a margin of error in any political poll, so I’ll take said growth with a grain of salt. Second, you continue prop up this Smarter Balanced Assessment and the standards they are evaluating while failing to admit that this test provides virtually no diagnostic or beneficial material to educators in any timely fashion.

I’m going to keep this email short and say that while I respect you as a person and I respect many of the progressive stances you’ve taken during your nearly eight years in office, I continue to be disturbed by your tone and agenda when it comes to education matters. I would have thought you’d lighten up in your final year after the debacle that was Priority Schools. After mounting evidence has revealed that judging schools, teachers, and students on test scores is statistically unreliable and morally bankrupt. After charter after charter around Delaware continues to fail and close. After overwhelming majorities in the House and Senate vote to uphold a parents’ right to opt their children out of toxic standardized tests that do little to help their progress in school or out. After educators across the State vote unanimously no confidence in your corporate education reform Secretary of Education, Mark Murphy.

What other messages need to be sent to you, Governor, that your business-minded approach to education is not the way to go when we are working with students of varying needs and abilities. Using your business-model approach to education, Governor, who will get left behind when we close all those “poor-performing” schools because of a silly test score? Will it be the student with severe emotional needs that breaks down at the sight of a computerized test? Will it be the student who came to school on test day in soiled clothes after having eaten nothing the weekend before? Will it be the student who witnessed his brother get shot on the streets of Wilmington the night before?

While the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission has done a great job approaching many of the education issues your administration ignored during the first seven years of your administration (remember: the people you put in charge at DoE explicitly believe that poverty is NEVER a barrier to success. One Penny Schwinn actually stated that violence in Wilmington is never a challenge to a student’s success in school), it’s too little too late for your education legacy.

I wish this could have been different. I wish my outsized support for you in 2008 had been a little more probing when it came to education issues. As it stands, I regret the unequivocal support I offered you then both personally and by way of my blog, which no doubt contributed much to your narrow primary victory.

That being said, I genuinely wish you the best once you leave office and I hope someday you’ll realize the damage your education policies caused in this state and that you’ll have a change of heart in the coming years. 

One suggestion: At the conclusion of your term, I’d ask you to please spend a week with Warner teacher Monique Taylor-Gibbs to see what’s it’s like working at one of those “failing” schools. Your opinions will change and I guarantee you’ll realize the damage your administration did to our schools with the neverending “test and punish” schemes hoisted upon them.

All the best,

Mike

Sent from my iPhone

Why Did Mike Matthews Bill The General Assembly For Almost $250,000?

Earlier this week, Red Clay Educators Association President Mike Matthews sent the Delaware General Assembly an invoice for $235,000.  What was the reason for this?  You didn’t think it was going to be that easy, did you?  I am putting in the read more tag so you can, you know, read more!  There is a very good reason why he billed our legislators. Continue reading “Why Did Mike Matthews Bill The General Assembly For Almost $250,000?”

Mike Matthews & Frederika Jenner Get The Spotlight In Vision Coalition Video

Mike Matthews, the President of the Red Clay Education Association, and Frederika Jenner, the President of the Delaware State Education Association, were both featured prominently in a video of the Vision Coalition’s recent coffee meeting. Watch the video below!

Has Mike Matthews, President of RCEA, Been A Double Agent For Rodel?

It turns out Rodel is having a Personalized Learning Workshop on February 27th.  Because I “liked” the Rodel Foundation on Facebook, I get to see all their ads.  Every. Day. I only did it so I could see what they are doing.  Honest.  But one thing is for sure: I have never been in one of their advertisements.  Mike Matthews, the President of the Red Clay Education Association… that’s a different story:

MikeMatthewsRodel

The big question: Is Mike going to this Personalized Learning Workshop? Is he indeed a double agent? The clues are all there. I have seen Mike at Legislative Hall the same time as Rodel lobbyists. I even saw him there the same time as Paul Herdman, the CEO of Rodel. As for me, I won’t be attending this event. For me, it’s about as exciting as a fart in a spacesuit.

If you are friends with Mike Matthews on Facebook, get the real story.

15 Who Made An Impact In 2015: Mike Matthews, Jackie Kook, and Mike Kempski

trio

In March, the Red Clay and Christina Education Associations passed a resolution announcing a vote of no confidence in Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy, the Delaware Department of Education and the Delaware State Board of Education.  The resolution, announced at a press conference on March 12th, 2015, was widely cheered as a strong statement against the education policies and agendas of both the DOE and Governor Markell.

Their resolution was the first of a series of blows against the Department and Murphy in response to the DOE’s atrocious handling of the six priority schools in Wilmington.  Teachers in the two districts had enough with the standardized testing parts of their teacher evaluations.  RCEA and CEA, led by the Mikes, Matthews and Kempski, with support from CEA Vice-President Jackie Kook, brought the resolution up for a vote to their union members.  In addition, both educator associations supported the opt-out legislation, House Bill 50.  Over the coming months after their announcement, both the Delaware State Education Association and the Delaware Association of School Administrators echoed their calls of no confidence in Mark Murphy.

As 2015 draws to a close, we can’t forget the impact these three had on education this year.  House Bill 50 passed the House and Senate.  Mark Murphy is gone.  The new Every Student Succeeds Act calls for an elimination of standardized test scores as part of teacher evaluations.  In a very big way, the two largest districts in our state received the most press this year, in large part due to the Wilmington redistricting plan.

Christina had a very rough year.  It started off with the priority schools debacle which led to a memorandum of understanding with the DOE to grant the district a second planning year in response to the Wilmington Education Advisory Committee’s recommendations.  After that, they lost two referendums which caused a reduction in work force of 99 educators.  Dr. Freeman Williams, the Superintendent for the district, went on leave in August.  Their board narrowly passed a vote to bring in Bob Andrzejewski as the Acting Superintendent a few months ago.  Budget forecasts for the district look ominous as the district faces a third referendum attempt this year.  The redistricting effort in Wilmington, now awaiting a vote by the State Board of Education in January, will certainly change the makeup of the district if passed.

Meanwhile, Red Clay passed their referendum, but not without consequences.  A lawsuit filed by a family in the district in regards to operating procedures for the referendum could change the entire referendum landscape in Delaware.  While Christina received an extra year of planning for priority schools, Red Clay moved forward but not without severe issues with promised funding from the DOE.  New feeder patters led to a series of issues at Skyline Middle School as new students coming to the school literally changed the school culture of the building, resulting in a huge rise in bullying incidents.  The district’s inclusion initiative is now the hotbed issue in the district due to a severe lack of resources and staff to handle the complex and intensive needs of many of the students with disabilities.

Matthews, Kempski, and Kook will certainly have their hands full in 2016.  But as three of the strongest leaders not only in their district, but in the entire state, all three will be front and center in the debates and conversations surrounding education in Delaware.

How Much Is Enough? When Does The Madness Stop In Our Schools?

If you come to this blog regularly, you are more than familiar with Mike Matthews, the President of the Red Clay Education Association.  Mike used to blog before he got into teaching, but some of his Facebook status updates might as well be a blog.  Mike asks a lot of tough questions surrounding education in Delaware.

Lately, the whole Red Clay inclusion topic is coming up in a big way.  Red Clay’s board voted for a big inclusion push for students with disabilities and their regular peers to be in more classes together.  While this is good in theory, if the resources and staff aren’t implemented well than issues will mount.  For those who think Mike is just a “union” guy, you would be wrong.  Yes, he is very supportive of the union.  But he also genuinely cares about what happens with students.  Nearly all teachers do.

Mike isn’t afraid to pull punches, and we need MUCH more of that in Delaware.  Tonight, Mike posted something very thought-provoking on Facebook, and I thought I would share it for those who aren’t friends with Mike.

Our students deserve more recess. Not more tests.

Our students deserve more extracurricular activities and more unified arts. Not more “rigor.”

Our students deserve more emotional supports. Not more Common Core.

Our students deserve more enrichment opportunities to show US how they can shine. Not more unit tests and Fresh Reads and Performance Plus.

Our students deserve a more responsive District that will banish the “test and punish” model that was rebuked with last week’s passage and signing of the Every Student Succeeds Act. Not more test prep that lines the pockets of textbook and software publishers.

Our students with special needs and English Language Learners deserve to be in schools with more than one or two specialized staff members to meet the needs of potentially hundreds of students at one site. Not more simplistic exposure to the “general education curriculum” that does little to address their needs or prepare them in a meaningful way for successful post-scholastic careers.

Our District continues down the long and quixotic road of attempting to standardized the most valuable resource that should never be standardized: Our Children. And as a result, they and others are turning off a generation of both learners AND teachers.

A wise friend of mine once said: “When is enough enough?”

Well…when is it?

I know I have asked this question many times.  It could be a lot of people who have said “When is enough enough?”  I asked this question, rather angrily, to Senator Sokola, the DOE, and a packed audience during the House Bill 50 debate in the Senate Education Committee.  It seems to me like students with disabilities continue to get the short end of the stick.  I’m getting VERY tired of this.  If your going to implement something to benefit special education students and English Language Learners, you better be damn sure you have the money, resources and staffing to get it right.  These kids can’t afford what happens when schools and districts get it wrong.

While Mike is obviously more enamored with ESSA than I am, he is absolutely right.  Delaware has a chance to rewrite the script on education.  And I’m not talking about WEIC either.  I’m talking about parents telling their legislators what they want for their kids.  We have to stop hiding behind our names or our standing and how we look to our friends and neighbors.  For all the Delaware parents who continue to flaunt this insanity in Delaware education, let me ask you one simple question: How would YOU have done with all this growing up?

Delaware parents can make the most obvious change now by opting their child out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment and supporting the override of Governor Markell’s cowardly veto of House Bill 50.  The only way things are going to change is if the very mechanism for the corporate education reformers is taken away.  Take the test away, and they no longer have their funnel into the Delaware education system.

Mike Matthews Nukes Governor Markell & DOE’s False Methodology

Mike Matthews just posted this on Facebook, and he is absolutely correct.  It is NOT about the teachers Jack.  But you already know that, don’t you.  It’s just easy for your game plan if people think that!

Some individuals truly believe that the *best* teachers are at schools where students perform great on the state test. I have never and will never buy into this belief that so many ‪#‎edreformers‬ (and our governor and Department of Education) hold.

As full-time president, I get to visit lots of schools on a regular basis. I’ve visited a majority of Red Clay’s elementary schools. When I tell teachers I taught at Warner Elementary, the response from a few dozen of them has been “Really?? I started my career at Warner!” or “I started my career at Shortlidge!” or “I started my career in the city!”

I’ve asked some a follow-up: “Why did you leave?” And most have given similar answers: “I never felt we got the support that we required to address student needs” or “I couldn’t balance having my own family and continuing to work until 7 or 8 at night” or “Classroom management was a huge issue and support was limited.”

So, according to our Governor and DoE the problem with the inner-city schools and low test scores is poor administration and teachers. But many of the teachers — a good portion of whom started their careers at inner-city schools — who are now working at “successful” (based on standardized test scores) suburban schools are having their students perform magnificently on the test.

So what’s the problem here? Do the teachers at “low-performing” city schools suck? Should they all have to reapply for their jobs? Because it’s very likely that the same “low-performing” city teacher today will in two or three years be a “high-performing” suburban teacher after they’ve chosen to leave the city school because of any number of stressors.

How do we get these ALREADY GREAT teachers in our city schools to STAY so that communities and relationships can be BUILT and SUSTAINED?

I continue to believe that the answer is easier than we all make it out to be, but too few people are willing to confront those tough questions and have the courageous conversations needed to move forward.

SBAC: Test, Label, and Punish

After the President of the Delaware State Board of Education, Dr. Teri Quinn Gray, was quoted in different media sources about House Bill 50 and opt-out,  former blogger and current teacher and President of the Red Clay Educators Association Mike Matthews shot out an email to Dr. Gray and several others in response to Gray’s comments.  With Mike’s permission, I present his email:

To
  • Gray Teri
CC
  • Johnson Donna R
  • Murphy Mark
  • Markell Jack
  • Frederika.Jenner@dsea.org
  • Sokola David
  • Townsend Bryan
  • Jaques, Jr Earl
  • Williams Kimberly
  • Matthews Sean
  • jyd1988@gmail.com
  • kevino3670@yahoo.com
  • Kowalko John
  • KOOK JACKIE
  • KEMPSKI MICHAEL S

Dr. Gray:

Mike Matthews Lambastes DOE For Their One-Sided Smarter Balanced Administration Survey

In a letter sent to the Red Clay Educator Association members, President Mike Matthews slammed the DOE for their Smarter Balanced Administration survey, shown in the previous article for all to see.  I completely agree with Matthews on this.  Like so many other DOE surveys, the choices only make the Smarter Balanced Assessment look good.

RCEA Members: 

This year was an incredibly rough start for the Smarter Balanced Assessment. I heard from dozens of you about the loss of valuable instructional time to administer this test, as well as the multitude of system capacity issues when you finally sat your students down to take the test. Needless to say, I’m guessing this test has not been popular with a majority of you who have administered it. 

I received this email from one of my RCEA Executive Board members. I’m guessing this would have gotten to me at some point. I’m going to try and make this short, but I feel the need to address this survey.  I applaud the Department for wanting to get feedback from teachers on the administration of SBAC. However, I have grave concerns with the lack of balance in the survey the Department of Education has presented here. Please click below and note the questions and answer choices on the survey. Does anything stick out at you? 

I’m concerned that the only answer choices provided reflect an overall positive experience with the administration of the SBAC. Why are there no answer choices critical of the administration of this test? Sure, there’s plenty of space to provide a narrative comment by clicking “Other” and I’m hopeful that many of you will use that option to share your thoughts with DoE on this assessment. I believe this survey reflects the overall attitude and ideology from within the Department that criticism of this assessment should be absolutely blunted at best or, at worst, just completely ignored.  

I wouldn’t generally email the membership regarding a survey like this, but I feel it’s critical that you respond to the survey with absolute honesty by providing your comments in the “Other” box. I know this could take time, but I’ve heard from so many of you this year, that I feel it’s really necessary for the State to hear our unfiltered opinions on this test. 

All the best and enjoy the last few minutes with your students!

 Mike

 

Mike Matthews Excellent Interview on WDEL w/Al Mascitti

Ex Blogger Current Special Education and RCEA President Mike Matthews appeared on the WDEL Morning Show with Al Mascitti today to talk about the priority schools, the Delaware Department of Education, Race To The Top, and the 148th General Assembly.  This is a must-hear podcast!

 

*Thanks to blogger extraordinaire Teachezwell for updating me on the link!

 

Mike Matthews News Journal Solutions To Education In Delaware: Change The Conversation @KilroysDelaware @ed_in_de @RCEAPrez @Apl_Jax @ecpaige @nannyfat @DelawareBats @BadassTeachersA @GovernorMarkell @DeDeptofEd @DeStateBoardEd @Roof_O #netde #eduDE #Delaware #edchat

Using the state of Washington, Mike Matthews 2nd News Journal column shows why education in Delaware just isn’t working under it’s current method of practice.  While calling for parent opt out, he effectively showed how the Delaware DOE’s obsession with data is getting in the way of what truly matters: education.

The highlights:

It’s time to get down and dirty and make lots of folks a little uncomfortable by having conversations that are long overdue.

I fully support the parental opt-out movement as a means to starve the data-hungry bureaucrats of the information they need to label and tear down our neediest schools.

…the waivers can only be granted if states play the bully by labeling and tearing apart already-needy schools to show the feds they’re committed to turning around those “low-performing” schools.

To read the full column, and you really should, pleae go to the below link and spread it around Facebook and Twitter.  This is a must read, not only for Delaware, but the whole country!

http://www.delawareonline.com/story/opinion/contributors/2014/12/13/education-departments-solution-work/20331407/

“Mike Matthews Is Number One”

Someone recently suggested to me this should be the title of my next article.  This was in reference to Mike Matthews being number one on a list of public commenters at a recent task force meeting.  That’s it.  Nothing more to see here!