Special Education Ratings for DE School Districts and Charter Schools an Unfair Rating System

DelawareFirstState

I just wanted to state how much I hate school ratings and how these ratings are always used to label our schools.

DE DOE recently released Special Education Ratings for all of our school districts and charters, Exceptional Delaware posted about this. Exceptional Delaware listed which school districts and charter schools met the requirements, which ones needed assistance and which ones needed intervention. I am told this is a federal regulation but I do not care if it is a local, state or federal regulation or law – they are just useless.

As everyone knows, many of our schools have enrollment preferences and these enrollment preferences have a tendency to exclude special education students. We are holding all of our schools to the same accountability system but many of our schools admit students differently. Our traditional school district doors are always open – welcoming everyone! Other schools or districts open their doors on a…

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Personalized Learning: What The News Isn’t Telling You

Save Maine Schools

Recently, a spate of articles have appeared in major news sources shining a light on personalized (competency-based) learning.  While it’s nice to see these topics being talked about in the mainstream press, they aren’t (shocker) telling you what you really need to know.

Take the claim found in the New York Times that Silicon Valley tech moguls are remaking America’s schools:

“Mark Zuckerberg,” the Times tells us, “is testing one of his latest big ideas: software that puts children in charge of their own learning, recasting their teachers as facilitators and mentors.”

There’s no question that Silicon Valley executives like Zuckerberg are playing a major financial and development role in current ed reforms, but let’s not give credit where credit isn’t due (especially to Zuckerberg, who already gets way too much of that). The idea of software that puts children “in charge of their own learning” has not only been…

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National Education Association Seems to Endorse Replacing Teachers With Computers

The National Education Association leadership has sold out their membership and the students of America by endorsing this. Myself, along with several other bloggers, have been warning about this for years. We are at a crossroads, at this very moment. Wanting a seat at the table isn’t good. Because you are ON the table and the hedge fund investors are going to eat you alive.

gadflyonthewallblog

robots-replace-humans-840x420

 

When all the teachers are gone, will America’s iPads pay union dues?

It’s a question educators across the country are beginning to ask after yet another move by our national unions that seems to undercut the profession they’re supposed to be supporting.

The National Education Association (NEA), the largest labor union in the U.S., published a shortsighted puff piece on its Website that seemingly applauds doing away with human beings working as teachers.

In their place would be computers, iPads, Web applications and a host of “devices” that at best would need human beings to serve as merely lightly trained facilitators while children are placed in front of endless screens.

The article is called, “As More Schools Look to Personalized Learning, Teaching May Be About to Change,” by Tim Walker.

Teacher-blogger Emily Talmage lead the charge with a counter article on her site called “Anatomy of…

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Exclusive: Why the Delaware DOE Really Can’t Stand Teachers… It’s Not What You Think!

I wrote this two years ago. It was entirely satirical in nature. Many thought it was actually real. The Delaware Department of Education is completely different now. Most of the folks I wrote about in this article are no longer there. Some of these were the Race To The Top employees who liked to tick people off and didn’t seem to care about doing so. Mark Murphy, Governor Markell, Chris Ruszkowski, and Penny Schwinn are long gone. I have to admit, sadly, I miss writing articles like this but not the circumstances that led to writing them. If that makes any kind of possible sense!

Exceptional Delaware 2017

DPAS-II.  Component V.  Teacher Evaluations.  Standardized Testing scores.  Priority Schools.  Smarter Balanced Assessments.  Teachers have it rough now.  It’s not like the halcyon days of old.  The Delaware Department of Education doesn’t make it easy on teachers.  Where did this apathy come from?

In a very extensive investigation, I have stumbled upon the unfettered truth.  I interviewed many members of the DOE.  None of them wanted to go on the record with their actual names for fear of reprisal, not only from their superiors, but also the actual teachers.

One employee, who would only go by the name of Nickle Huffy said “It’s our priority to put teachers in their place.”  When I asked why she would only say “You know why.  Don’t try to make me look stupid.”

Another employee, very high up, named Davina Gustwoman, said “It’s obvious Mr. Ohlandt.  They get something none of us do.  It’s called…

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The Rich Get Richer and the Poor Grow Old

Minding My Matters

Although I like to consider myself well-versed in budgetary and funding topics (well-versed for a lay person), there are definitely still some areas where I am learning the ins and outs. The Delaware estate tax is one of those areas, and as I have been reading about this I’ve become more and more dissatisfied with the decision that was made to cut the tax, as per House Bill 16.

I read Rep Pete Schwartzkopf’s explanation, how this tax was a trade-off for another vote. I understand the concept and importance of compromise, and that we sometimes trade what is good for something we conceive of as better. Right now I’m moderately addicted to this game called Egg, Inc., and as I build my egg farm I have to make choices that impact my farm valuation, which helps me advance in the game. Sometimes I have to determine whether doing a…

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50CAN: Seeking More Local Investment to Advance Its Set Agenda

Hey, doesn’t Delaware have an offshoot of this? Called Delaware CAN?  Yes, they sure do!

deutsch29

50CAN is a corporate reform organization that wants to expand many facets of education reform including increasing the number of charter schools (as well as the money they receive); promote the grading of schools using test scores, and passing state-level legislation for “achievement school districts” (state-run districts).

50CAN has a web site that offers a lot of information on what it believes it has accomplished and what it hopes to accomplish. Of course, one must get past the ed reform fluff, such as that on the opening page:

Hi there! We’re 50CAN!

We’re a nonprofit network of local leaders advocating for a high-quality education for all kids, regardless of their address.

A slight shift from the usual, “regardless of their zip code.”

The mission statement page is also hazy, but it does begin with the “regardless of their address” slogan:

We are guided by four foundational beliefs that make up our…

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Guest Post From Eve Buckley On Budget Deficit And Education Cuts In Delaware Schools

Eve Buckley wrote a brilliant post on Facebook today.  With her permission, I wanted to get this out to a wider audience since she hit the nail on the head with what is going on in Delaware public education in the face of disastrous cuts school districts are facing.  Eve, like myself, is a parent in Delaware.  Her children go to Christina schools.  She was also in attendance at Paul Baumbach’s Education Forum at Newark High School last night.

Delaware friends, the take-away from last night’s education forum, for me, was that the state has–as we know–an enormous budgetary crisis and currently no political capacity to raise revenue, since GOP legislators have pledged not to raise taxes. Unless this changes, we will cut everywhere, deeply–and as far as I know, there is no reason to believe this will improve next year. Governor Carney does not have a viable plan to address this huge structural problem. Democratic legislators, many of whom are quite willing to approve property tax reassessment [for the first time in DECADES], need a 3/5 majority vote to pass that and cannot move forward without support from at least two Republican legislators. All of us can write to Gov. Carney about the need to responsibly address the state’s serious budgetary challenges. Everyone should contact their state legislators, but esp. if yours (in House or Senate) is Republican. Tell them how these cuts will impact your children’s educational opportunities; if your child attends Christina district, it is facing a $6 million shortfall for next year due to the reduction in state funds, which translates to a dozen or more staff/teacher cuts at each middle and high school, and presumably some staff cuts from every school. These individuals have already been notified, which is demoralizing for everyone in those communities–as Newark HS students made clear last night.

Note that state-authorized charters (the vast majority of DE’s charters, outside of Red Clay district) are not as severely affected by these cuts, the logic being that Carney proposes giving district boards one-time authorization to make up about two-thirds of his proposed cuts via a “match tax,” which would generate revenue only for district schools. This puts the elected district boards in a quandary: schools need those funds, but by replacing the state shortfall with a board-authorized increase in local taxes, the districts will probably lose any capacity to pass a referendum in the future, as many residents will be infuriated by this extraordinary maneuver. For the moment, this proposed mechanism for recouping district revenue via a one-time match tax (and subjecting ONLY district schools to the corresponding state cuts) means that charter school staff are not being notified of job losses, at least not on the scale that district schools are experiencing. Aside from the seeming unfairness of this, it also means that charter families, generally quite mobilizable to advance their children’s interests, are probably less aware of how severe the state’s education funding crisis is–and only 13 legislative days remain before the state’s budget will be finalized. For me, this is another example of the damage we do to the democratic process by “packaging” public services differently for different members of our communities; we are not all in this together. That is a serious loss, reducing the likelihood that schools and families will get what they need from the state. Democracy is a numbers game, and our numbers are significantly diminished by our fractured public ed. landscape.

As always, Exceptional Delaware wants and solicits for guest posts on education matters.  Thank you!

The Lie of Shared Sacrifice

Blue Delaware

We already know that there was a deal cut in the House (do we know about the Senate yet?) to get the Corporate Tax increase proposed by Governor Carney that was passed in return for eliminating the Estate Tax.

While the whole “Shared Sacrifice” messaging was trite and weak to begin with, today we understand quite completely that it is a lie.

There’s no Shared Sacrifice in creating a deficit for a giveaway to wealthy Delawareans. This giveaway was passed in a week where teachers are getting pink slips.  So teachers, students and their parents are sacrificing, but wealthy people get to benefit from the sacrifice of these teachers, students and parents.

And don’t even get me started on the moral bankruptcy of imposing Shared Sacrifice on kids.  Undermining our future just so you can make sure that wealthy people are not mean to you is unconscionable.  It also doesn’t…

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Understanding Education Funding Cuts

Blue Delaware

Shameless plug for tonight’s meeting of Christina’s Citizens Budget Oversight Committee Meeting: 6:30pm @ Gauger-Cobbs Middle School 50 Gender Rd, Newark, DE.

It’s a rough time right now in public education. Massive cuts in state funding have sent Districts into a panicked frenzy trying to figure out how to mitigate the cuts, if it’s even possible. Governor Carney’s proposal would see $37 million in funding for public education be scrapped as one of the measures to help balance Delaware’s lopsided budget. Current projections put the State $395 million in the hole. We still have a couple DEFAC and JFC meetings to go and it’s entirely possible that number could change.

What’s not going to change though is the fact that the budget and any proposed cuts are now in the hands of the General Assembly. The members of which are considerably easier to approach and communicate with than our Governor or anyone in…

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September 10th, 2008

The Berenstein Bears.  Shazaam.  Nelson Mandela died in the 1980s.  The Tiananmen Square protester getting run over by the tank.  “Luke, I am your father.”  “It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood.”  “Magic mirror on the wall.”  Curious George’s tail.  Billy Graham’s funeral.  “We are the champions of the world.”  The tv show Sex In The City.  Oscar Mayer.

I remember all of these things.  Do you?

The Berenstain Bears.  No movie with Sinbad called Shazaam.  Nelson Mandela died in 2013.  The tank man was pushed away.  “No, I am your father.”  “It’s a beautiful day in this neighborhood.”  “Mirror, Mirror on the wall.”  Curious George does NOT have a tail.  Billy Graham is still alive.  “We are the champions.”  Sex And The City.  Oscar Meyer.

That is how things are now.  So why do some remember the “old” way and some don’t?  This is called the Mandela Effect.  It is where many people believe something was a certain way only to find out it is now different.  So what changed our collective consciousness?  Many have theorized that not only did man change our reality, we also destroyed it.

The Large Hadron Collider fired up for the first time in Geneva, Switzerland on September 10th, 2008.  Perhaps you remember.  Many feared it would destroy reality.  What if they were right?  Since energy can’t be destroyed, our reality could have phased into a new reality.  Which could account for the very subtle differences in the collective consciousness listed above.  Some would say the economy died that day with the failure of Lehman Brothers but that is a story for another time.

What do you think?  Could everything have changed that day?  Maybe Common Core and all these high-stakes standardized tests didn’t exist in “our” reality.  Maybe all the dramatic rise in disabilities didn’t happen there either.  All of our lives could be dramatically different if a bunch of scientists didn’t think crashing protons into each other was a good idea.

Hell, even a 13 year old knows something isn’t right!

Exceptional Delaware will return tomorrow with it’s regular programming. Thank you!

Delaware School Board Election 2017: Brandywine, Caesar Rodney, Capital, Smyrna, & Woodbridge School Districts

May 9th is in five days!  Big school board elections are taking place that day!

In the Brandywine School District, John Skrobot Jr. will face Alma Ginnis.  For Capital School District, Andy Ortiz and Joan Lowenstein-Engel are vying for the at-large seat.  Caesar Rodney has a three-way race with Alan Claycomb, Tawanna Prophet-Brinkley, and David Failing running against each other.  Smyrna will see Vetra Evans-Gunter facing Karin Sweeney.  Finally, Woodbridge will have a face-off between Paul Breeding and Darrynn Harris for their at-large seat.

I sent surveys to all the candidates who had viable contact information through either the Department of Elections contact information on their website or through Facebook.  Don’t forget to vote on May 9th!

These are the responses I received from the candidates in these five districts: Continue reading “Delaware School Board Election 2017: Brandywine, Caesar Rodney, Capital, Smyrna, & Woodbridge School Districts”

KnowledgeWorks, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and the push for competency based learning

Seattle Education

big money

How can I have a problem with competency based learning? This is a question I get asked quite a lot these days.

To be fair, critics of my stance usually take the time to patiently explain in the comment section how my concerns miss the point – competency based learning doesn’t have to be done online or on an electronic device; it’s all about students showing mastery.

Let me lay out my concerns.

I think the term competency based learning has multiple meanings, based on the goals of those who are using the phrase.

It’s a clever strategy to introduce an idea the public would reject outright – like students spending their time on computers rather than being taught by human teachers – and wrapping it in a concept the public does value.

Who doesn’t like the idea of students showing mastery of material in an independent, self-paced manner?

Dick…

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Sounds and Silence of April

Love this blog. I have to get up there one of these years!

Outside Ittoqqortoormiit

April usually is a very good month for seal hunting at the ice edge outside of Ittoqqortoormiit. This year, ice conditions have been different.

There has hardly been any open water to speak of, for a long time. It has basically looked like you can see on these two pictures (taken from the hill behind the hot springs at Kap Tobin) for many weeks.

At the same time, the store has run out for dog food! Luckily, we are able to borrow some from one of our neighbours. So, the dogs will survive until hunting conditions improve, or the store gets new supplies.

Again, I´ve put together a slideshow for you, and this time there are images from the hot spring at Kap Tobin, dog sledding around Kap Swaison (in search for open water) and Kap Tobin, and this years dog sled race! Ingkasi participated, and you can find out how it went for him, at…

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EdTech Envisioning Profits by Jumping into School Marketplace: “Don’t Call It Philanthropy”

Diane Ravitch's blog

While teachers continue to struggle for a decent middle-income salary, the edtech entrepreneurs are salivating about their success in the ed marketplace. Listen to the audio to hear the sound of happy money-makers.

Some people are getting very rich indeed by investing in technology to replace teachers and to call it “personalization.” When there is no teacher involved, it is “depersonalization.”

Here is the press release.

When Tom Davidson served as a state legislator for a small district in southern Maine two decades ago, he became intimately familiar with the byzantine, bureaucratic, and often, frankly, subpar sausage-making that goes into bankrolling education at a local level. (“There was never a shortage of good ideas, but almost always a shortage of money,” he says.)

So Davidson took his learnings to the private sector and founded EverFi, an education software startup, in 2008. As CEO, Davidson has been rallying some of the…

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On “Thirteen Reasons Why”

Minding My Matters

Recently, Netflix began to air an original series called Thirteen Reasons Why, based on the novel/novella of the same name by author Jay Asher. Having read the book years ago, I pulled it back up on my Kindle iPhone app and read it again tonight, to refresh my memory. It took about 2 hours. I cried. Again.

The purpose of reading the book again, although I do intend to watch the series and include my 11 year old daughter in the viewing, was to write this blog entry. It is in direct response to all the comments I’ve seen from many, many people, and also because, like Clay, I’ve sat and done nothing until I finally was no longer able to. Now I am the person who does something, even if that something makes me unpopular or look foolish. Being wrong out loud is better than silently being right.

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School Board Candidate Responses – New Castle County Edition

Thanks again to Brian at Blue Delaware for getting this up. I sent out surveys to ALL the candidates through Facebook or email. If you did NOT receive a survey, please email me at kevino3670@yahoo.com and I will get one out to you. Thanks!

Blue Delaware

As we (sort of) wrap up our 2-part post about our School Board candidate questionnaire, again I want to thank each candidate who took the time out from their hectic campaigning schedule to compose thoughtful responses to our questions.

Our New Castle County Districts’ races feature some quirks and notes I think should be mentioned before getting to the responses.

Appoquinimink School District

Charlisa Edelin, Trevor Tucker, and Keinna McKnight are running for the At-Large seat on the Board of Education. None of the candidates responded to the questionnaire. Charlisa Edelin is the incumbent and current Board Vice President.

Brandywine School District

Both candidates for the District D seat, A. Melina Gillis and John A. Skrobot III did not provide email contact information with the Department of Elections, we reached out to the school district administration and they kindly forwarded our request for contact to the candidates. Melina Gillis was the only candidate to…

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School Board Candidate Responses – Kent & Sussex County Edition

Thanks to Brian Stephan for getting this out there. I just sent out surveys to all the candidates myself this morning. Like Brian, some of them did not have contact information. Mine will go up the first week of May. Looking forward to the New Castle County post tomorrow!

Blue Delaware

Before we begin, I want to take this opportunity to thank the candidates who responded to our questions. My hope is that the questions were not simply softballs but that they challenged the candidates to provide meaningful answers and provided real insight into those seeking election to some of the most important positions in the State.

We all know School Board elections do not get the attention they deserve. Hopefully our questions and the candidates’ responses generate more interest

In all, there are 37 candidates still running for election, of those: 15 chose to respond to at least 1 question and there were a few candidates we were unable to reach due to missing contact information and/or requests to their School Districts for assistance going unanswered.

Part I of the responses will include Kent and Sussex County School District Candidates. New Castle County Candidates’ responses will post Friday morning, so keep an eye out!

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Automated Education + Chasing Skills + Debt = Social Control

Wrench in the Gears

I posted the scenario below in November of 2015 as a Facebook note. Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve come across a number of items having to do with skills, automation, and human capital management, so I thought I would pull it back out to share. Below are a couple of articles that caught my eye:

New Tools Needed to Track Technology’s Impact on Jobs, Panel Says by Steve Lohr of the New York Times

The EIDCC, The Experience Graph, and the Future of Human Capital Analytics by Shelly Blake-Plock of Yet Analytics

The Omidyar Network and the (Neoliberal) Future of Educationby Audrey Watters

I’m a parent activist, not an educator or economist. But after reading and listening to a wide range of sources, I came up with the construct below. In the 18 months since I wrote it, many indicators seem to confirm this is where we are headed. I’d be interested in hearing your feedback and welcome…

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Here comes God to Save us…or not.

Looks like we have a new blog in town folks! This one hails from the usually very quiet Christina School District…

Privatizing Christina Schools

Folks, we got us a choice. A pastor, a nurse, or a child.   Can’t say I’m terribly excited, but it’s a school district… so the pastor is an automatic DQ. No how, no way to someone that close to God near public schools. Just no.

More soon…

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Did A Delaware Veteran Help Bring Down The Nazis In World War II?

The Delaware General Assembly honored an unsung hero last week.  Richard Mootz, a Milford veteran, received a tribute from the Delaware House of Representatives for his role in an astonishing find from World War II.  The House Republicans sent this in their weekly email last week.

The House of Representatives this week honored a man whose discovery of a vast cache of hidden German treasure may have helped end World War II and limited the spread of Nazi ideology in the conflict’s aftermath.
 
In February 1945, more than 3,900 Flying Fortress bombers attached to the U.S. Eighth Air Force dropped hundreds of tons of munitions on the German capital of Berlin.
To safeguard the monetary assets of the waning Third Reich, currency and gold from the Reichsbank — the central bank of Germany — were sent to a deep salt mine at Merkers, located about two hundred miles southwest.
Two months later, General George Patton’s 3rd Army swept into the region, moving so rapidly the Germans were unable to relocate the concealed hoard. 
 
Enter Private First Class Richard C. Mootz, a Delawarean serving as an infantryman with the 3rd Army’s 90th Division.  On April 6th, Pvt. Mootz was escorting two women who had just been questioned by the 12th Corps Provost Marshal’s Office back to Merkers.  As they neared the Kaiseroda Salt Mine, he asked the women about the facility.  They told him that weeks earlier German officials had used local and displaced civilians as labor for storing treasure in the mine.
 
Pvt. Mootz passed the information to his superior.  Later that day, American forces entered the mine.  What they found was startling.
 
According to the National Archives and Records Administration, the mine contained over eleven thousand containers, including:  3,682 bags and cartons of Germany currency; 80 bags of foreign currency; 4,173 bags containing 8,307 gold bars; 55 boxes of gold bullion; 3,326 bags of gold coins; 63 bags of silver; and one bag of platinum bars.
 

The money and precious metals were in the company of an immense collection of valuable artwork.  Sheltered in the mine were one-fourth of the major holdings of 14 state museums.

The find was so extraordinary that General Dwight D. Eisenhower, General Omar N. Bradley, and Lt. Gen. George S. Patton, toured the site together.
 
The mine’s shafts, some 1,600-feet below the surface, also housed an estimated 400-tons of intellectual riches in the form of patent volumes from Germany, France, and Austria. 
 
“Germany was one of the most technologically advanced nations in the world at this time,” said David Deputy, a former Delaware National Guard brigadier general and Mr. Mootz’s nephew.  “Information on rocketry and other German advances were being sought by both the Americans and Russians.  It was the sensitive nature of this data that resulted in some details of the discovery being kept secret,” he said.
 
Mr. Deputy said it was not until military records were declassified decades later that Mr. Mootz’s role in the discovery became evident.
To give Mr. Mootz his overdue recognition, State Reps. Harvey Kenton (R-Milford) and Tim Dukes (R-Laurel) sponsored a House of Representatives’ Tribute presented in the House Chamber Thursday afternoon.  Mr. Mootz was a long-time resident of Laurel and currently lives in Milford.
“We recognize this exceptional individual for his outstanding service to his country while serving in the United States Army,” said Rep. Kenton.  “Private Mootz assisted the ‘Monuments Men’ in the discovery of a massive collection of gold, silver, artwork, and German currency.  This was the remaining paper currency and gold reserves of the Nazi regime, hence, this discovery bankrupted the German Army, bringing an earlier end to the war.”
The find may have had repercussions beyond the war.
In internal correspondence a week following the discovery at Merkers, Col. Bernard D. Bernstein (deputy chief, Financial Branch, G-5 Division) wrote the finding of the trove “confirms previous intelligence reports and censorship intercepts indicating that the Germans were planning to use these foreign exchange assets, including works of art, as a means of perpetuating the Nazism and Nazi influence both in Germany and abroad.”