Governor Carney Is NOT Letting The Sunshine In!!!!

In February, Delaware Governor John Carney brought back the Family Services Cabinet Council through Executive Order #5.  Many in Delaware thought this was a good thing.  But apparently transparency took a backseat to this return.  The group met on Wednesday, April 5th, 2017 in a meeting that was closed to the public and press.  What is the point of this council if it is not able to be seen by the public?

I discovered this when I was looking at the Governor’s public schedule last week.  I also view the Delaware Public Meetings Calendar and did not see this on there.  I would have attended this meeting had it been made public but I never had the chance.

For a council that is responsible for recommendations for so many issues in Delaware, I am shocked they wouldn’t let the public in on it.  To that end, I emailed Governor Carney’s staff about this gross oversight on April 6th.  Over a week later and NO response.

This is the kind of crap I would expect from former Delaware Governor Jack Markell.  I truly hoped Governor Carney would be different.  But I am not seeing that marriage between the state and the public.  Especially with a council as important as this one.  So what are the areas this council covers that Carney doesn’t want the public to hear conversation about?

If this council isn’t open to the public will we ever see any minutes from their meetings?  Attendance?  Who else is invited?  What they are even doing?  I urge Governor Carney to answer these questions and make this council open to the public.  Delaware got an F for transparency and came in 49th out of 50 states in an evaluation of public transparency at the end of 2015.  That should have ended on January 17th, 2017, the day Governor Carney swore his oath of office and promised the citizens of Delaware he would listen to the people.  I expect more from you Governor Carney!

For those who have been following this blog the past few years, I have written many articles about the eventual goals of the corporate education reformers and this council seems to be moving things along in that direction.  Especially when it comes to strengthening the “public-private partnerships”.

The mission of the Council shall be to design and implement new service alternatives for school and community-based family-centered services, and otherwise act as a catalyst for public-private partnerships to reduce service fragmentation and make it easier for families to get supportive services.

In a nutshell, this is inviting non-profits into our schools.  While some may see this as a step in the right direction, I am hesitant to think this is the cure for what ails the youth of Delaware.  Every single time a company, whether it is for-profit or non-profit, comes into our schools, it is siphoning money away from students and into the more than welcoming hands of corporations.  With that comes bad education policy because the corporations only make money off education if there is something to fix.  The measurement of what needs to be “fixed” is the standardized test, currently the Smarter Balanced Assessment in Delaware.  If there is one thing we have learned in Delaware it is the Smarter Balanced Assessment is very flawed and their consortium is extremely non-transparent and secretive.

Carney was also instrumental in getting the whole Blockchain thing going in Delaware.  If you want your children to morph into drones in the Common Core/personalized learning/digital tech/stealth testing/digital badge environment than please ignore this article.

As citizens of Delaware, we need to demand transparency from Governor Carney.  Please call the Governor’s office today.  The Dover office phone number is (302) 744-4101 and the Wilmington office phone number is (302) 577-3210.  Or you can email him here: Email Governor Carney

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.”

A Visit to the Offices of SBAC

Diane Ravitch's blog

From California parent, Joan Davidson, about her visit with teacher Larry Lawrence to the offices of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, which received $180 million in federal funding when Arne Duncan was Secretary of Education, to write tests for the Common Core standards. SBAC was supposed to have 25 states, but it now has only 15. The other consortium is PARCC, which has shrunk from 25 states to only 6 states plus DC

Larry Lawrence and I visited the SBAC office last week before they move which is scheduled to happened by end of June.

It is most concerning. Please read the notes below and attached.

It was concerning that most people are working from remote locations, undisclosed locations, and that a young woman is mostly alone in a 3000 sq. ft. office that is mostly unfurnished and dark.

The SBAC organization is using public funds but refuses to make…

View original post 972 more words

The Bizarre Love Triangle Between Publius, Minnehan, and Clampitt **UPDATED**

All relationships have their ups and downs.  Such is the case between former Kilroy’s Delaware commenter Publius e decere and former Pencader board member and current Christina board member Harrie Ellen Minnehan.  Throw in a wild card like Henry Clampitt, former board member of Charter School of Wilmington, current board member at Gateway Lab School, and also a candidate for the Red Clay Consolidated Board of Education, and you have what I like to call a bizarre love triangle (which just so happens to be an awesome tune by New Order).  But what I found this morning… that brings this triangle to a whole new level… Continue reading “The Bizarre Love Triangle Between Publius, Minnehan, and Clampitt **UPDATED**”

Verdict In On Amy Joyner-Francis Murder: Carr and Snow Guilty, Wright Not Guilty

Almost a year since Amy Joyner-Francis was viciously beaten in the Howard High School of Technology bathroom and died as a result of those injuries, the verdict was delivered this morning against her assaulters.  Trinity Carr was found guilty of both third-degree criminally negligent homicide and criminal conspiracy.  Zion Snow also got the third-degree criminal conspiracy verdict.  Chakeira Wright was found not guilty because of a lack of substantial evidence suggesting she was involved in the conspiracy to attack Joyner-Francis.  It was also revealed she attempted to pull Carr off Amy during the assault.

Delaware Family Court Judge Robert Coonin read the verdict this morning.  I can’t say I like this verdict.  I never liked the official “cause of death” and found it to serve the girls who killed Amy more than the cause of justice.  None of this will bring Amy back.

The final decision can be read below:

Education Funding Mismanagement In Delaware

The below picture portrays exactly what is wrong with education funding in Delaware.  There is no consistency or oversight with where existing funds are going.  As a result, we have a boiling cauldron of fraud, waste, and abuse.  It seems like anyone can get paid in education and it can be catalogued however a school wants.

In this picture, we see the former Head of School from Family Foundations Academy and East Side Academy doing what appears to be consulting work for three Delaware charter schools.  Given that the amounts are very similar, I can assume it was the same type of work.  All three schools put the payments under different categories: Educational Benefits-Chld, Consultants, and Other Professional Service.  All three schools used different funds for what I assume to be similar work: Special, General, and Federal.  All three schools belong to the same Wilmington Charter School Collaborative, which is an alternate teacher evaluation system.  This initiative came about through Lamont Browne.

Lamont Browne left Delaware last summer and moved to Colorado to work his “magic” in another corporate education reform state.  So how is it he is able to do all this work in Colorado and still get paid by the State of Delaware through various charter schools?  Does he have a finders fee for this teacher evaluation system?

Governor Carney wants to talk about all these education funding decisions but has completely ignored the elephant in the room: we don’t know where existing funding is going to, especially in our charter schools.  School districts pull the same kind of shenanigans (wait until you see the next major audit investigation report coming out of Tom Wagner’s office!) but they can be harder to find.

I did go ahead and submit this as a tip to Delaware State Auditor Tom Wagner’s office as I wrote this article.  In the vein of full transparency, I am including screen shots of my tip:

When I write about this kind of stuff, all too often charter school supporters start defending the schools and say I am picking on charter schools.  While this most likely isn’t a Sean Moore kind of deal, it is symptomatic of what is wrong with our education funding oversight in Delaware.  I’m not looking for the causes as much as I truly want a solution to these kind of problems.  I would love to stop writing about these matters.  So Governor Carney, I am throwing you the gauntlet one more time: are you ready to talk about this or do I need to keep writing?

Mark Murphy Spews Sour Grapes About His Time As Delaware Secretary of Education

Do you want some cheese with that wine Mark Murphy?  That is the thrust of an online article from The Job in which Mark Murphy laments his time as the Delaware Secretary of Education.  Murphy gets it wrong on so many levels it isn’t even funny.

Frankly, kids’ interests and adults’ interests don’t always align. Kids have no power, no say, no decision-making authority, no money — so nobody has a real reason to listen to kids. Go shadow a high-school kid for a day — good luck staying awake. You have to walk from class to class, with four minutes between each bell. You have to raise your hand to go to the bathroom. It is so disempowering and so boring.

Yes, he did use the word boring.  Because we are desperately clamoring for high school students to do whatever they want in school.  I’m terribly sorry Murphy had to exercise so much while shadowing a high school kid.  He did always seem fit.  Perhaps that is why.  Let’s be very clear on something.  Teenagers are trying to figure out who they are.  They are going through puberty.  I’m not saying their voice isn’t important, but adults often need to be the ones to make decisions for students.  It isn’t because they are on a power trip, it is because they went through their teenage years and entered adulthood (well, most of them did).  They went through it and came out on the other side and know what works and what doesn’t.  But then a bunch of billionaires got together and decided they knew what was best for education.  They used students and parents in their quest to get rid of teacher unions.  That is whose side you were always on.

What would happen is, I would feel like I had reached an agreement with the union leadership, but then they came back a month or two later and that wasn’t how their membership felt. I should have spent more time meeting with local leadership. In hindsight, I would have done that differently.

Yes Mark, you should have.  It sounds to me like the union leadership wasn’t also aware of what was happening at the ground level either or perhaps they were just placating you.  The union leadership should reach out to their membership before making agreements on their behalf.  If that is how it went down.

Each time you try to turn around a school, or you open or close a charter school, or disagree with the union, you punch another hole in the bucket and you start to drain out. You lose some political capital. Eventually, you’re out of water.

Mark, you became the Delaware Secretary of Education at the worst possible time in Delaware.  Post Race to the Top and knee-deep in Markell’s very bad education policies.  We are seeing a lot of those policies reversed throughout the country.  Being a leader is allowing yourself to stand up to the criticism and not letting it get to you.  If you ran out of water that’s because you kept listening to the same people over and over again and were not willing to hear what was happening at the grass-roots level.

If every kid had access to a middle-class lifestyle, the country would be a much better place, and people wouldn’t be so angry about all the immigrants.

The two don’t really intersect Mark.  I know the goal is for every kid to be the same, but good luck with that.  The bad education policies you pushed on Delaware at the behest of your education totalitarian boss, Jack Markell, failed because they did not look at the individual, only the collective.  Not sure where your immigration comment comes in.

I am really nervous that really great people are going to stop being willing to pursue public office because you get publicly and professionally assassinated in these jobs.

Does this mean you see yourself as “really great people” Mark?  Since I became involved in Delaware public education a few years ago, I have seen three Delaware Secretaries of Education: yourself, Dr. Steven Godowsky, and Dr. Susan Bunting.  Both Godowsky and Bunting treated me with respect although we do not always agree on policy.  When you were around, you didn’t give me the time of day.  You treated opt out parents as if they were somehow beneath you and should be squashed like a bug.  You didn’t even mention the Rodel Foundation in this article, but you listened to them far more than any educator, student, or parent.  The priority schools initiative was the death knell of your time as the Delaware Secretary.  The whole thing was a Delaware Dept. of Education public relations nightmare from the onset.  It was shoddily planned and I would have to think you knew that.

If you’re a teacher in one of these schools, the new principal who comes into the school should decide whether you stay or whether you don’t stay. The teachers’ union was quite upset about that.

Of course they would be upset about it because the whole basis for this was standardized test scores.  It failed to address issues such as trauma, special education, segregation, and the individual student.  Who wants some corporate education reform Principal hand-picked by the Delaware DOE to come in and can a ton of teachers over Smarter Balanced scores?  That’s why parents and citizens also objected to this plan.  The biggest failure was your inability to predict the severity of the public backlash for this.  I have to think you felt so empowered at the height of the corporate education reform movement that you felt infallible.  No human being is infallible.

In retrospect Mark, this sounds like sour grapes on your part.  You cast far too much blame on others while failing to address your own failures in your term.  Playing around with the priority schools funding was the final straw.  You can’t make promises and then back away from them.  I’m not sure why you blame the unions for all that is wrong with public education.  I know that is the corporate education reform mantra, but perhaps you should think of your own future and get off the shame and blame bus.

Please Send The Letter To Governor Carney To Give Basic Special Education Funding To Students In Kindergarten to 3rd Grade

I can’t believe we have to beg for this.  Delaware State Rep. Kim Williams organized a letter-writing campaign for House Bill 12 which would provide basic special education funding for students in Kindergarten to 3rd Grade.  So far, 729 letters have been sent to Delaware Governor John Carney.  Williams’ goal is 1,000.  My goal?  10,000.

It is utterly ridiculous that these students do not get special education funding at the onset of their educational foundation.  All this obscene lack of funding does is set up failure.  This is the cardinal sin in education: failure equals more money for corporations to come in and “fix” education.  It also helps with future lawsuits and students getting behind the 8-ball from the very beginning.  It is stupid and immoral.  Yes, Delaware has a $385 million dollar deficit.  We get it Governor Carney.  But you need to make this happen.  We hear the talk about students becoming college and career ready.  How about making these students with disabilities elementary school ready?  I see all this money getting dumped into early childhood education, which I am sure is needed.  But you can’t pump them up and pull the football away when they get into elementary school.  Doesn’t that defeat the purpose for nearly 20% of Delaware students?

Thank you to all who have signed this letter which can be found here.  If you haven’t signed it yet, let’s make Governor Carney’s office very busy today!

Ding-Dong Moment Of The Year: Trying To Get The Delaware Secretary of Education To Approve Local Policy

At the Christina School District Board of Education meeting last night, the board voted on the very controversial safety zone policy.  This policy would not allow ICE officials to just enter a school to question or detain a student who is here illegally.  They would first have to go through the Superintendent of the district.  But board member Harrie Ellen Minnehan introduced a whopper of an amendment to the policy!

It seemed like a very Sokola moment.  Her amendment was to have the Delaware Secretary of Education sign off on the safety zone policy in the event it should pass last night.  Since when does ANY school district need the Secretary of Education to sign off on local policy?  Yes, let’s completely evaporate local control and cede all district policy to the state!  Thank God the amendment failed.  The two supporters of the amendment were the same two board members that voted no on the policy: Minnehan and George Evans.

Evans and Minnehan’s line of thought was that the buildings are owned by the state.  Okay.  And do the schools not rent them out essentially?  It would be like a landlord telling a convenience store they can’t sell soda or candy.  Not to mention the fact that I don’t think a local school board can force the head of a Delaware state agency to do anything without state legislative changes.  I have no doubt that when Dr. Susan Bunting sees this she is going to have a chuckle.  For years, this district has desperately tried to hold onto local control and Minnehan was ready to give it away over a policy she didn’t seem to like.

Meanwhile, Republicans, Democrats, Greens, and Libertarians alike are battling it out over the approved policy over on my Facebook page.  As I told one commenter, it’s like throwing a donut across a room, yelling “Food Fight!” and just standing back as chaos reigns.  I love Delaware!

A Handful Of Darkness

A 4-year old abducted and raped in Wilmington.  A chemical gas strike against innocent civilians in Syria.  A terrorist attack in Stockholm.  It has been a very dark week.  Things we shouldn’t hear about in the news.  But we do, because there is darkness in the world.  People who do very bad things.  If these perpetrators’ actions weren’t killing people, they were traumatizing them.  They turned people into victims.  Today was one of those days where you were afraid to see what happens next.

I lived in Sweden in the mid 1990s from February,1996 to May, 1997.  I worked in Stockholm, the nation’s capital.  The two places I worked at were on Drottningsgatan (Queen St.) where the hijacked beer truck purposely tried to hit as many pedestrians as possible before it crashed into Åhlens department store.  Right below the store is T-Centralen, which is the Grand Central of the Stockholm subway system.  It is a miracle only 4 lives were lost (as of this writing) and 15 injured.  It shocked Sweden as it does any country where these acts of cowardice happen.  Had I still lived there, I could have very easily been right where that truck hit  shortly before 3pm if I continued to work at either of those jobs.  A witness reported the driver went right into a baby carriage.  Who does that kind of thing?  What cause is ever worth taking innocent lives?  I can’t think of any.

Everyone is going nuts about Trump lobbing missiles at Syria.  I won’t weigh in on whether I thought that was right or wrong, but I do know the chemical weapons attack against civilians in Syria was wrong.  And it wasn’t the first time this happened.  It is a horrible way to die that no man, woman, or child should ever have to go through.  But they did.  They were not able to cry out for justice as the air was stripped away from their bodies.

Last night a little girl in Wilmington, only four years old, was abducted while playing with friends.  She was raped and put in a park after.  Four years old.  I can’t even fathom someone doing that to anyone, much less a precious child.  I pray for her and her family today.  It used to be you could leave your kids to play outside on your own street.  Now the parents in that community are scared because the monster is still on the loose.

For all this darkness, there is always light.  Today, I proudly watched as a family I know officially adopted a foster child they took in a year ago.  3B: Brae’s Brown Bags took part in an event where Delaware children and adults got together to help end hunger in our state.  Even with some cold and windy weather, I got to see flowers and leaves popping up today.  My son made the Honor Roll at his school.  I watched two people I know, one most of my life and the other I met only once, go through very tough health issues but they both look to be on the mend.  There are good things happening every day but far too many of us see the bad.

We don’t have to let a handful of darkness block out the light in our lives.  We can find that light, or even become a part of it.  It doesn’t mean we don’t mourn and bow our heads in prayer when bad things happen.  But we also need to celebrate the good.  It isn’t easy, but it really is the only way to keep your sanity.

Maryland: General Assembly Overrides Governor’s Veto, Protecting Public Schools from DeVos Agenda

Diane Ravitch's blog

Yesterday the Maryland General Assembly voted to override Governor Larry Hogan’s veto of a bill meant to protect public schools against the privatization agenda of Betsy DeVos.

Maryland has a rightwing Republican Governor, Larry Hogan, who has appointed a pro-privatization state board of education.

But Maryland also has a legislature controlled by Democrats. They hold a veto-proof majority.

The legislature passed an anti-privatization bill called the “Protect Our Schools Act,” intended to block state takeovers and the Trump/DeVos agenda.

Governor Hogan vetoed the bill on Wednesday, saying it would prevent the state from identifying low-performing schools and taking them over (and privatizing them). His appointed state board agreed with him.

Yesterday, the Democratic-controlled legislature overrode Hogan’s veto.

The governor is angry:

The bill [that he vetoed] would set standards for how the state would identify low-performing schools that Hogan says rely too little on standardized tests. And it would prevent…

View original post 109 more words

GOOD NEWS! Connecticut Drops Test-Based Teacher Evaluation!

Delaware Legislators: Connecticut and Delaware often mirrored each other during Race To The Top and what came after. Let’s do it again!

Diane Ravitch's blog

Jonathan Pelto reports that Connecticut will no longer use scores on SBAC or SAT to evaluate teachers.

http://jonathanpelto.com/2017/04/06/connecticut-will-no-longer-use-sbac-sat-part-teacher-performance-evaluations/

Since this approach has failed everywhere, this is a great development.

Every state should drop this failed methodology that was promoted by the Gates Foundation and Arne Duncan but has not worked.

View original post

Kowalko Amendment Would Remove Newark Charter School Boon In House Bill 85

The saga of the 5-mile radius legislation beats on in Delaware!  Today, State Rep. John Kowalko introduced an amendment to the bill which would remove the language concerning the Wilmington students in the Christina School District not a part of the enrollment preference for charter schools within the non-Wilmington portion of the district.

Yesterday, at the House Education Committee meeting, legislators and speakers alike shared concerns with that portion of the bill.  House Substitute 1 for House Bill #85 would remove any 5-mile radius enrollment preferences in Delaware charter schools.  At present, only two charters have the 5-mile radius, Newark Charter School and First State Montessori Academy.  But Newark Charter School exists in a district where the Wilmington part of their district is not land-locked and is actually an island in the middle of the city.  One State Representative, Joe Miro, said he will not vote yes for the bill if it has the amendment on it.

Three File For Christina District B Seat In A Matter Of Hours

Wow!  Meg Mason resigns from the Christina Board of Education a week ago, the New Castle County Department of Elections announces the seat will be part of the May 9th election, the deadline for candidates to file is April 20th, and three women file today!

Who are these brave souls?

Angela Mitchell

Monica Moriak

Karen Sobotker

Looks like we have a race!  The only name I am familiar with is Monica Moriak, who serves on the Christina Citizen’s Budget Oversight Committee.  At this time, Christina will have two three-way races for board seats.  All I can say is look for A LOT of campaign signs all over the place in the Greater Newark area as well as the Wilmington section of Christina in the coming weeks!

Cursive Bill Released From Delaware House Education Committee

It seemed to be an even split between advocates and those who oppose the bill, but State Rep. Andria Bennett’s House Bill was released from committee today with 12 votes.  Next stop, the House Ready list.  Many of the folks who opposed the bill were not in favor of student’s learning cursive but felt that was a decision best left to the local school board and not a mandate from the state.  The Delaware Department of Education opposed the bill for the same reasons, along with the Delaware Association of School Administrators and the Delaware School Boards Association.

Both sides cited research or studies weighing the pros and cons of the bill.  I supported it and gave public comment on how my son seemed to like cursive more than regular writing.  Another advocate for students with disabilities, Robert Overmiller with the Governor’s Advisory Council for Exceptional Citizens, also supported the bill because of the beneficial nature for special needs students.  A retired teacher supported the bill.

State Rep. Bennett said her idea for this bill came last Christmas when her own daughter was unable to read her grandmother’s cursive writing in a Christmas card.  Some advocates said it is important children know how to read original historic documents, such as The Declaration of Independence.  One gentleman said he would not hire someone at his company who didn’t know cursive since so many old property deeds and paperwork were written in cursive and they would not be able to understand those documents.  One parent stated they were vehemently against the bill and that it shouldn’t matter if kids can read historic documents in cursive because it is all available online.  She also said grandmothers are texting and using Instagram more and more these days.  State Rep. Joe Miro said with our state budget deficit we should not be mandating curriculum at the state level.

If you are in favor of this bill, please contact your state legislator and let them know!  I know I will call my own State Rep, Trey Paradee and ask him to support this bill!

Enrollment Preferences Bill Released From Committee But Newark Charter School Exclusion Remains Controversial

House Substitute 1 for House Bill 85 was released from the Delaware House Education Committee today.  There are very serious concerns due to a “compromise” brought forth by the Delaware Charter Schools Network.  The bone of contention surrounds the Christina School District and Newark Charter School.  Since a portion of Christina exists in Wilmington, those students would not be considered in the enrollment preference which includes all students in a choice school’s district.  The line of thinking appears to be the district section of Wilmington is not connected to the rest of the district.  However, those who oppose this section of the bill feel it is a barrier for Wilmington students who are part of the Christina School District.

Today, State Rep. John Kowalko is bringing forth an amendment but no one on the committee knew specifically what the amendment was.  State Rep. Kim Williams, the primary sponsor of the bill, stated she assumes it would be to remove lines 7-9 of the bill which would give Newark Charter School their Wilmington exclusion.  Williams said she would not support the amendment because she gave her word to Senator David Sokola.  This, apparently, was an addition to the bill from Senator Sokola which caused the House Substitute bill from the original House Bill 85.  State Rep. Joe Miro said he would not support the bill if the amendment passed.

State Rep. Sean Matthews said he is in support of the bill but does not feel the bill serves all students in the Christina School District.  He felt the bill does not allow for Wilmington students to go to Newark Charter School and the exclusion for NCS was put in so it can pass the Delaware Senate.

If Newark Charter School is so good, they should take all students. -State Rep. Sean Matthews

State Rep. Deb Heffernan agreed with Matthews.  The bill was released with 11 votes in favor of the bill.

Delaware Secretary of Education Dr. Susan Bunting said the Delaware Department of Education is taking a neutral stance on the bill.  Donna Johnson, the Executive Director of the State Board of Education, said former State Board member R.L. Hughes was on the Enrollment Preferences Task Force and voted in favor of removing the 5-mile radius. Kristin Dwyer, the Delaware State Education Association Director of Legislation and Political Organizing,  said she is happy the conversation is opened with this bill but DSEA does not feel the bill goes far enough.  DSEA feels the 5-mile radius should be completely removed.

My concerns with this bill are the very nature of Newark Charter School to begin with.  Even with their 5-mile radius, their student populations do not reflect that of the Greater Newark area.  This is the public comment I gave to the committee and my idea for a potential amendment.

While I am very happy to see this bill, I have concerns around Newark Charter School. When the charter school had their major modification approved to build their high school, they were instructed with formulating a plan to allow for more diversity in their district.  I have yet to see that materialize, even within their current 5 mile radius.  While their special education numbers have increased, they are still woefully under what the state average is, much less the Christina School District.  In the school profile for this school year, African-Americans represent 10.7% of their student population compared to 39.4% of Christina.  While factoring in the African-American population of the Wilmington contingent of Christina student population, the greater Newark area has a much higher population of African-Americans compared to NCS.  I would recommend an amendment be placed on this bill for a weighted lottery for charter schools, magnets, and any choice school where the demographics are disproportionately lower than that of the surrounding district to allow populations that do not seem to be getting access to certain charter school even footing and representation within those schools.  Enrollment preferences are meant to allow the most disadvantaged students into choice schools, not to keep them out. Thank you.

The bill, if passed, would take place immediately.  However, it would not be able to kick in until the 2018-2019 school year since the school choice calendar for the 2017-2018 school year closed in January.  During the House Bill 90 Enrollment Preferences Task Force, the majority of the members voted in favor of removing the 5-mile radius as an enrollment preference for choice schools.  Williams said she does not necessarily agree with the Newark Charter School exclusion, but felt compromise was necessary.  If the bill didn’t move forward, she would not be able to help any students.

Once Kowalko’s amendment is public, I will add it to this article.

Delaware DOE Aid To Migrant Students Comes With A Catch

The Delaware Department of Education is helping students who happen to be classified as migrant student population.  But they can only get the “hygiene bags” if they register as such under ESEA.  How many of these students’ parents will register them so the federal government can track their every movement in Delaware?  The DOE issued a press release on their Facebook page yesterday.  Bolded areas are for emphasis.

DDOE staff prepared over 40 hygiene supply bags last week for Delaware’s migrant student population. Migrant students are the school-aged children of seasonal workers traveling to Delaware each year for agricultural work. These children face unique educational barriers as a result of multiple family moves. Many migrant families stay in Delaware through late fall before returning to their home states. During this time their children attend Delaware schools.

Funded with a federal grant, the insulated bags are filled with sunscreen, insect repellent, first aid supplies, and related items. DDOE provides the bags as a support service to eligible migrant families upon their enrollment into the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) Title I C Migrant Education Program. This program identifies, recruits, teaches, and supports migrant children so they can focus on school success. DDOE also collects donated clothing for the students and their families.

DDOE supports activities for migrant students to ensure all kids receive a clear path for becoming college and career ready after high school. Migrant families who choose to live in Delaware permanently continue to receive education-related support services.

With everything going on with immigration in this country, would you trust the Trump administration with this enrollment information?

Global Finance Needs Our Schools to Fail

Wrench in the Gears

Yesterday Peter Greene expanded on an idea I’d put forth a few months back that Competency Based Education (and really all digital curriculum) was a way of gradually turning neighborhood public schools into charters from the inside out. I encourage you to take a few minutes to read his piece “Charterizing From Within.” I’m glad this proposition is making it out into the world and finding a wider audience. However there are still many who doubt CBE / Personalized Learning / Blended Learning etc. will ever take hold. This despite the fact that adaptive “personalized” learning systems are popping up all over the country each passing day.

Doubters say virtual schools and e-learning don’t “work.” So there; it won’t happen. But therein lies the problem. Many assume that a system that “works” is one designed to serve the needs of children and society as a whole. The present system, however, is being increasingly twisted to serve the interests of global capital markets. When you look…

View original post 551 more words

Amy Joyner-Francis’ Murder Trial Reveals Huge Escalation In Fights At Howard High School

As the News Journal reported today, Howard High School experienced more than double the amount of fights between 2014-2015 and 2015-2016.

During cross-examination of Ursula McCoy, an 8-year faculty veteran at Howard who had worked in the discipline office, Deckers established that violent incidents more than doubled at Howard between the 2014-2015 school year and the 2015-2016 year.  There were 46 reports of violence last year, compared with 20 the year before.

Upon questioning from Deckers, McCoy said “there may be times when (fights) are not reported.”

Sorry Ms. McCoy, when it comes to fighting, all of them should be reported.  It is the law.  It is NOT let’s cherry-pick what is and isn’t a fight.  If the school determines it is a fight, it is a fight.  By failing to report that information to the state, YOU are breaking the law.  Notice the article said she “had worked in the discipline office”.  Why doesn’t she anymore?

I still don’t buy Trinity Carr’s excuse that she couldn’t have known the fight could lead to Amy Joyner-Francis’ death.  She and her friends beat her senseless.  At the very least, they should have known it would cause some type of trauma to her.  But no, we get her attorney defending someone who killed a girl.  I know, it is his job to defend her, but come on!  This was a planned fight.  Kids and teenagers say dumb things, no doubt about it.  I don’t know if that was the case with all this and it really doesn’t matter.  You don’t beat someone until they die because of it.

As for the school not reporting all their fights, I really hope they have learned their lesson and the state makes sure they did.  There is no reason not to report fighting no matter what the reasoning might be.  Some folks say get rid of the Delaware Department of Education, but I believe they are a necessary entity to make sure things like this are reported.  As well with special education issues and things of that sort.  There needs to be ramifications when a school admits in a major trial they didn’t report incidents of violence.  That will bring little solace to the family of Amy Joyner-Francis, but it should be a wake-up call to every single school in this state.  Perhaps if all the fighting were reported it would bring more interventions into a school if the reporting is done with fidelity.

 

High School Parent Watch: Tell Your Children To Give Only Necessary Information For SAT And PSAT

The College Board is asking for a lot of information from students they don’t need.  Such as social security number, family income, religion, and things like that.  A commenter named MEMO just posted a brilliant comment on an article I put up a long time ago.  Delaware is unique though compared to all the other states in that all students are required to take the SAT.  So you may not be able to get out of providing the student identification number.  But all the stuff listed below under “none of their business”?  Don’t let your kid provide that info because it truly is none of their business.

Please remind parents that the in school SAT will be taken by 11th grade students across the state- PSAT for 9th and 10th graders also. The ONLY information that students need to supply is Name, Address, Gender, and Date of Birth. You do not have to enter your student id. The proctor will encourage student to complete the none of their business questions- parent education level, income, religion, GPA, coursework taken or planing to take, etc… etc… do not provide your cell no, ss#, personal email, twitter, Facebook, etc.. keep everything separated from College Board. Have your child ask specifically which information is optional!

You can protect the amount of data going out on your child.  Get involved and make sure your child’s private information stays private!  As well as your own!