Delaware Senator Chris Coons responded to a form I sent him regarding the ESEA reauthorization. Yesterday, there was quite the hullaballoo about an amendment that would continue the Annual Yearly Progress for American schools which Coons fully supports. In his letter, which I’m certain went to anyone who wrote to him about the reauthorization, clearly shows he wants what I view to be a destructive process for our students, educators and schools.
I worry about the influences around Senator Coons support for such an amendment. I worry he is not utilizing all stakeholders surrounding this issue. The corporate education reform movement is suffering from an infection which exposes the rot within, so they are getting very desperate. We need our leaders to start to walk away from these disruptive agendas and get back to the heart of education: letting our teachers teach and letting our students learn.
July 6, 2015
Mr. Kevin Ohlandt
9 Crosley Ct
Dover, DE 19904-1975
Dear Mr. Ohlandt:
Thank you for contacting me to share your thoughts regarding reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). I appreciate your taking the time to write. I strongly believe that the best ideas for improving our schools and ensuring our children can achieve their dreams come from those on the front lines of our education system: our teachers, parents, students, and community leaders and advocates.
I commend Chairman Alexander and Ranking Member Murray of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee for crafting a bipartisan bill to reauthorize the ESEA. I am committed to working with my colleagues in both political parties to reauthorize the ESEA and support a high-quality education system for Delaware students and teachers. All children in America, no matter where they live or how they learn, deserve an education that allows them to reach their fullest potential. The Every Child Achieves Act and the 29 amendments adopted by the HELP Committee are a promising step towards this goal.
I am pleased that the Every Child Achieves Act provides much needed flexibility and resources to states, maintains dedicated federal investment to school districts that serve high concentrations of low-income students, and expands the criteria that states can use to evaluate school performance. I also commend the Committee’s bipartisan commitment to early education, innovation, STEM education, and reducing the use of excessive and unnecessary standardized tests. While the Every Child Achieves Act is an encouraging first step, there is still more work to be done. I am eager to work with my colleagues to find ways to strengthen this bill through an open amendment process in the Senate. For example, the bill should include stronger accountability provisions that ensure that schools that are persistently failing to demonstrate results for students are not only identified, but also required to take action to improve the outcomes for students and are given the resources they need to do so.
I am committed to ensuring that any legislation to reauthorize the ESEA reflects Delaware’s values and supports our state’s educators, students, and families. I always appreciate hearing from Delawareans about their education priorities and will be sure to keep your thoughts in mind should the Every Child Achieves Act come before the full Senate.
Again, thank you for contacting me. It is an honor to represent Delaware in the United States Senate, and I hope you will continue to keep me informed of the issues that matter to you. My website, http://www.coons.senate.gov
, can provide additional details about my work in the Senate, including legislation and state projects.
Christopher A. Coons
United States Senator
The Delaware Department of Education issued a charter renewal report to Campus Community School on 4/30/15, and the school responded yesterday. While many know I’ve had issues with this school in the past, I also recognize any school that makes important changes and stays on course can be a good, or even great school. Campus made many of those changes the past couple of years.
The only hurdle Campus is experiencing with the DOE is the same problem many schools in Delaware with a high population of low-income students are having: scores on standardized tests. This is an ongoing systemic issue with the state in my opinion. The demands placed on these schools is insane in my opinion, and there are many ways to determine effectiveness in a school. I do not believe standardized test scores are a good measurement at all. The fact that Campus had near identical rates with their home district, Capital, shows progress IF you believe this is a quality tool of measurement, which I don’t.
Documented research, proven time and time again, has shown students from low-income or poverty in urban schools do not perform as well as their peers. But the Delaware DOE and the US DOE continue to believe all performance gaps should be closed, even as this methodology is falling apart at the seams.
I had to laugh that the DOE measured Campus Community on high school graduation rates since they closed their high school in 2012. I’m sure it was a technical error, however it’s probably not so funny to the school when they get these reports for charter renewal and they see these kinds of flaws.
While I may have some issues with some of the things I’ve heard in regards to parent opt-out responses, overall Campus has come a long way. In comparison to Academy of Dover and Providence Creek Academy, I would say they are far superior. They certainly have not had any of the financial issues those schools have, and glaring “situations” do not appear to be going on. Great job Campus!