There are always gems to be found when you comb through district and charter board minutes, agendas, and websites. I did that last night and found a ton of stuff! Instead of coming out with a dozen or more articles about it, I thought I would just combine all of it one fell swoop! There is A LOT of material in here so dig in! Continue reading
While the Delaware Department of Education has not formally announced Chuck Longfellow as their new Associate Secretary of Operations, it looks like his former home, the Appoquinimink School District, let the cat out of the bag on their website. No start date has been announced yet and Longfellow still appears on the Appo website as their Finance Director. Continue reading
Appoquinimink Superintendent Matt Burrows sent an email to parents minutes ago giving more detail about the district’s role in the handgun incident yesterday at Middletown High School. I will certainly give Burrows credit for fully owning up to the omission of details in his parent letter yesterday as those facts seem to have been discovered by the Delaware State Police after he sent out the parent letter. While I am not a member of the MOT Residents Facebook page, I understand parents have been going off on there all day long about the differences between the parent letter and the Delaware State Police press release. I just have one question, and it is a big one: who discovered the student pulled out the gun on another student? Was it the district or the State Police? I posted my article about those differences less than two hours ago.
The Delaware State Police issued a press release today about the arrest of Tymere Moore, an 18 year old Middletown High School student in Appoquinimink School District. It gives much more information than the statement Appoquinimink Superintendent Matt Burrows sent to parents yesterday. Including the very disturbing fact that the student actually pulled out the handgun and pointed it at another student. The primary charge in the arrest was for brandishing a handgun. Which was not mentioned in Burrows’ parent letter at all. Continue reading
Following a break-up of a potential fight, a handgun was found in a student’s bag at Middletown High School in the Appoquinimink School District earlier today. Sadly, this came shortly after news broke out of another school shooting. The shooting in Santa Fe, Texas killed nine students and a teacher. While I salute the staff at Middletown High for defusing this situation very fast, it is indicative of potential threats in our schools. I’ve been told by other educators that weapons are brought into schools constantly but they are rarely found. I fully support metal detectors in ALL of our schools. Is it a burden? Yes. But Delaware does not want to be on the news for innocent students being gunned down. Hats off to Superintendent Matt Burrows for letting parents know this went down as well! Earlier reports in the day addressed a situation but it wasn’t until Burrows released the letter about the gun being found that I felt it was appropriate to post this.
Delaware Academy of Public Safety and Security will have a new Director of Instruction as of July 1st. Deborah Panchisin resigned as an Executive Director of Instruction at Appoquinimink School District last month, effective July 1st. Greg Panchisin is the Chief Operating Officer at Las Americas ASPIRA Academy. Greg and Deborah Panchisin are married. Margie Lopez-Waite is the Head of School at Las Americas ASPIRA. Margie Lopez-Waite is the current President of DAPSS’ board. Margie Lopez-Waite is slated to be the next Head of School at Delaware Academy of Public Safety & Security. Margie Lopez-Waite proudly boasted of having someone lined up to take over the position of Director of Instruction a few months ago at a Charter School Accountability Committee meeting when DAPSS was under formal review.
This is what happens when anyone is allowed to insert themselves into a leadership role at a charter school. They cause chaos and use personal connections to hire who they want and who cares if it is a very personal connection. Because they are two different schools, it is not against the law. But it is certainly a manipulative and scummy move. Please continue to tell me this is “for the students”. Margie Lopez-Waite played the Charter School Accountability Committee and the State Board of Education. And Secretary Bunting. And they fell for it hook, line and sinker.
The Panchisins make a combined income of $245,000 in their current roles. Deborah Panchisin makes $136k at Appoquinimink. Greg Panchisin makes $109k at ASPIRA. Say she gets a pay cut for her role at DAPSS. They would still most likely be making a combined income well over $200k. I imagine that handling instruction for 200 students as opposed to many more at Appo would be less work. Less stress.
This is Delaware…
The first in the FOIA series about districts and charters with employees making over $100,000 in annual salary goes to Appoquinimink School District. Located in the Middletown/Odessa/Townsend part of Delaware, Appo is one of the fastest growing districts in the state. Four years ago, they had 31 employees making over $100,000. They now have 54. Much of this is due to the huge increase in student enrollment and new schools in the district. Things change with funding once you get past that 10,000 mark with student count because four years ago they had 9,750 students in the district. Continue reading
If you thought the arrow Delaware Governor John Carney shot through Christina School District’s heart was bad, you haven’t seen anything yet! Plans are afoot. And what will be left standing after Carney does his coup d’état will shock everyone! Continue reading
Updated, 2:53pm: The Delaware State Police cleared the bomb threat around 11am. But a student had to be taken by a medical helicopter due to injuries sustained by a “long fall” according to this article from First State Update.
The first day of school. A time for renewal and transition, not bomb threats. But that happened this morning at Appoquinimink High School. Parents were alerted right away by the district’s Public Information Officer, Lilian Miles. What the alert didn’t provide was information on where the student were evacuated too. This is no joking matter and I sincerely hope this was just a prank and not something more serious. If it was a prank, and the perp is caught, that is a federal crime. I also hope this isn’t a return to the national string of bomb threats America faced in 2015.
Updated with other information about what happened in the district today:
The Christina School District Board of Education passed a controversial motion to send the same funds going to charter schools (from the infamous settlement) to all traditional New Castle County School Districts (except for NCC Vo-Tech). The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) would bind Christina School District to sending the same funds they agreed upon in the charter school settlement to Red Clay Consolidated, Brandywine, Colonial, Appoquinimink, and Smyrna School Districts. The price tag for this year will be $350,000 but this is a “forever” contract so those funds will go to those districts for students choicing out of Christina to those districts forever. But another motion, that would have allowed for public comment on the issue, failed. Board member John Young summed up the meeting in three paragraphs earlier this morning on Facebook. Newly sworn-in board member Angela Mitchell abstained from both votes.
Last night, Christina School District BOE motioned to settle with Red Clay, Brandywine, Appoquinimink, Smryna and Colonial for $350K + this year and each year in the future forever pursuant to the charter school settlement. The meeting was at Sarah Pyle Academy at 7PM.
It was moved to approve the settlement MOU. Then it was moved to be voted on at the 6.13.17 meeting so the public could comment more fully. There was debate. Board members indicated that public opinion would have NO SWAY in their vote. The vote to vote on 6.13.17 was defeated 2 YES, 4 NO, 1 Abstention. Then the vote to approve handing over CSD monies without input from the public was approved 5 YES, 1 NO, 1 abstention. Of course all votes were public, but if you want details feel free to PM me. I am reeling from shock that board members and key employee(s) deliberately and intentionally told the taxpayers to go to hell with regards to their input. My disappointment extends beyond the board and includes CSD employees and the Supers of all NCC schools and Smyrna SD. An unreal night, I assure you.
I hope there is VOCIFEROUS public comment on 6.13.17 to protest the way the board operated tonight.
I always hated the settlement with the charters. But, let us all hope this is the last song on this record…
As I wrote the other night, Red Clay, Appoquinimink and Brandywine want their share of the local funds for choice students from Christina stemming from the charter school settlement with Christina last fall. It looks like Colonial and Smyrna have now jumped in as well. The Christina Board of Education will hold a special board meeting on May 24th to discuss this issue. The below document shows how much it would cost Christina if approved.
Christina School District is about to get screwed again! But not by the charters this time. This time it is districts who should be their allies!
Okay, time to let the cat out of the bag. A month ago, and if you blinked you missed it, the Christina Board of Education discussed and voted no on the Chief Financial Officer of their district negotiating a Memorandum of Understanding between Christina, Red Clay, Appoquinimink and Brandywine. The MOU would have given authority to the CFO of Christina to send those local funds to the three other districts for students that choice to those districts out of Christina. The board said no. Look for a special board meeting sometime next week. From what I’m hearing, now the Superintendents of the districts (all four) want to have the MOU between them. Welcome to Christina Richard Gregg!
That’s what happens when you open Pandora’s Box like that with that stupid settlement between Christina and the charters. I’m talking to you four Christina board members who voted FOR the settlement and then voted against rescinding the settlement a week later. Did I not distinctly hear that it would set a precedent? That it would come back to bite them in the ass? I know I said it. I believe a few others did as well. Karma truly is a vengeful and mean bitch.
Do I have anything against Brandywine, Appo, or Red Clay for going after these funds? I don’t know. The timing sucks. And how soon until Colonial jumps on the train? All this happened because, supposedly, according to some commenter named Elizabeth, Jack Markell had some secret deal with Lillian Lowery and Christina when she became Secretary of Education. The way I’ve heard it, Lowery was involved in a lawsuit when she became Secretary and Captain Jack wanted it all hush-hush so all sorts of crazy crap happened. I heard that from someone who used to be on the board who hasn’t been too quiet about it over the past year or so. Funny how stuff gets out in The First State.
So what happens if Christina’s board says no again? Will the big three (and possibly Colonial) get their feathers in a twist and file a lawsuit against Christina as well? My gut tells me Christina’s board will be forced to vote yes because of the precedent set in the charter settlement. So last week, the board announced they will be laying off 44 or so teachers. Will this cause that number to rise? And how the hell does their CFO Robert Silber still have a job there?
How much money are we talking? I don’t think it would be as much as the cha-ching the charters got, but it will leave a mark on their budget. At this point, anything more is suck city. Here’s a novel idea… how about going after Jack Markell and Lillian Lowery for their side deals that went on. Better catch Jack quick before he goes on his Forrest Gump tour of America! Yeah, like that will ever happen. Captain Jack seems to have some special immunity shield around him. It’s a special kind, where you screw things up for eight years and you get to go biking into the
Education never gets boring in this state. But this will not be a joking matter for the teachers and staff in Christina School District. These are good people who have been the victim of these education funding games for many years now. Throw in priority schools and the constant labeling and shaming of the district. I feel bad for all the districts right now. Students and teachers should not be the sacrificial targets because the adults in charge can’t get their shit together. Sorry to be so blunt, but I’m really getting sick of it.
Here’s the kicker! I submitted a FOIA to the Delaware Auditor of Accounts office a couple of weeks ago. This is what I asked for:
Please provide, in PDF format, all reports, letters, guidance, or inspections for any Delaware school district, vocational school district, or charter school generated by the Office of the Auditor of Accounts that is not listed on the Auditor of Accounts website for fiscal years 2014, 2015, and 2016. This would include any of the above listed documents sent to members of the General Assembly, the Delaware Department of Education, the Office of Management and Budget, Office of the Controller General, or the Office of Management and Budget that would be considered a public document 29 Del. C. Paragraph 10002(1).
Wanna know what I got? Bupkis, that’s what! I got the petty cash letters sent to a handful of charters last year along with the letters about that specific situation sent to various state agencies. For three fiscal years!
Wanna know what that means? The Auditor of Accounts office is NOT auditing ANY school district unless it is an investigation based on something submitted on their tip line. Which means that office is breaking the law. But the General Assembly won’t give them the funds to do their job as required by Delaware State Law (which the General Assembly does: create laws). So who do we take to court? The Auditor of Accounts office or the General Assembly? Who is tracking where the hell education funds actually go? NO ONE! Except myself and Jack Wells it looks like. But yeah, let’s layoff teachers and make classrooms into sardine cans while people in district offices are making over $100,000 in salary. Cause that makes a lot of fucking sense! Let’s keep paying for state testing and all these one-to-on devices so we can just weed out teachers and turn education into a reformer wonderland! as I said, I’m getting tired of all this nonsense. And if I were a teacher, I would be too! If I were a parent (which I am) I would be shouting this from the rooftops: Stop screwing over our schools! And when I say schools, that primarily means the students and teachers. That is the heart of it all.
Now that all the surveys are up, it is time for endorsements! I’ve known who I was going to endorse in a few elections for some time. Some I changed my mind on. Some I have always known who I would NOT endorse. Some I wavered back and forth on. Some races won’t get an endorsement from me at all. I don’t always go with the “popular” candidate. I look, as best I can, at the issues facing education and which candidate is willing to stick their neck out and do what is best for students. The biggest thing is if the candidate knows what the issues are. Without further ado, here come the endorsements: Continue reading
First off, I want to apologize. I should have had the remaining surveys up on Friday morning. What happened? Life. It happens! But my apologies to the remaining respondents who took the time to diligently answer my 14 question survey. I do have one more district to cover after this one. I should have that up shortly. In this round, we have Appoquinimink. The candidates are incumbent board member Charlisa Edlin, Keinna McKnight, and Trevor Tucker. Only one of the candidates responded to my survey. Which one? Continue reading
The upcoming special election for the 10th Senate District just got very interesting. As we all know, Bethany Hall-Long will vacate her Senate seat when she is appointed Lieutenant Governor of Delaware. In February or March, a special election will take place for her seat. I put up some possible contenders for the seat in an article last Friday. I assumed the Delaware GOP party would pick John Marino as the Republican frontrunner for Hall-Long’s seat. But from what I’m hearing today, a new name is being given serious thought on the Republican side… Continue reading
Merry Christmas Appo Citizens! Santa is not only bringing you a potential tax increase on December 20th, but while you are voting on the referendum, you can also go to the Education Showcase at ALL the Appo schools! The timing on this couldn’t be more of a coincidence! I am like, totally, for sure, sure some wires got crossed here. A school district would NEVER plan events around a referendum. That just doesn’t happen.
Education Showcase: December 20
Hands-on curriculum-based activities, performances, lessons and special programs showcasing innovative practices across the Appoquinimink School District. Activities will vary by school.
Time, Location: Offered at all schools. Times vary.
Merry Christmas Appo Citizens! Santa might bring you a tax increase for the holidays! Appoquinimink School District is holding a referendum for capital projects and operational increases on December 20th, from 10am to 8pm. The State of Delaware approved their request. I find December 20th to be a very odd date for a referendum. People are getting ready for the holidays and celebrating.
The capital cost part of the referendum will call for the following:
A new High School and Middle School at the Fairview Campus
A new Elementary School at Whitehall
Renovating and expanding Silver Lake Elementary School
Rebuilding and expanding Everett Meredith Middle School
If the referendum passes, the state will pay 75% of the costs and Appoquinimink will pay 25% out of the referendum tax increase. As well, they are also having a second part of the referendum to deal with operational costs in the following areas:
Enhancement and replacement of instructional technology
Staff recruitment and retention
Operating expenses associated with enrollment growth
The referendum would see taxpayers in the district paying an average of $17.36 more a month in school taxes based on an average assessed home price of $88,500.00. Keep in mind, this is the assessed value of a home and not the actual value of the home. I find the new elementary school at Whitehall to be ironic given that the Delaware State Board of Education approved a charter school at that location but the Mapleton at Whitehall Charter School board decided to try their luck in Dover but then gave up unexpectedly and turned in their charter.
A parent of an Appo student sent me this. This is the parental consent form for free and reduced lunch. It’s like the ESEA Flexibility Waivers… “I’ll give you this, but in return I need this and this and this and this…” Parents, watch what you are signing and do research on how much personal data you are allowing to go out about your child. Because even if you trust the district, they are putting that information on grant applications, which go out to other agencies. At that point, the federal law that is meant to “protect” student data, allows that information to go out to other education “research” companies. Nothing in this world is free.
Personalized Learning, as a concept, has been around since the 1960’s. In its original form, it was an effort to personalize learning between a teacher and a student. Students don’t always learn at the same pace. The term has been bastardized by corporate education reformers over the past five years. Their idea is to launch a technology boom in the classroom where investors and ed-tech companies will get tons of money. To do this, they had to use education “think-tanks” and foundations to sway the conversation towards this lucrative gold-mine. No one has been a bigger supporter of personalized learning in Delaware than the Rodel Foundation. They began talking about this new and exciting education reform movement as early as November, 2011. A company called Digital Learning Now! released their 2011 report card on different states ability to transform into a digital learning environment and Delaware scored poorly on their report. According to this Rodel article on the report written by Brett Turner (the link to the report card doesn’t exist anymore), Turner wrote:
…the initial results are not promising, demonstrating that we have significant work ahead of us before the necessary policies are in place to ensure our students benefit from high-quality next generation learning opportunities.
Digital Learning Now! was an initiative of the Foundation for Excellence in Education. Other digital “experts” the company thanks in their 2012 report include the Alliance for Excellent Education, the Data Quality Campaign, iNACOL, SETDA, Chiefs for Change, Getting Smart, and the Innosight Institute. The Foundation for Excellence in Education was founded by Jeb Bush in 2008, just as Common Core was in its formation stages. In the Rodel article, Turner talks about how Delaware needs to adapt to this environment so our students can succeed.
Over the next two and a half years, as Race to the Top became more of a nightmare than a promise of better education, Rodel began to take steps to have Delaware become a part of this next big thing. They formed the Rodel Teacher Council to recruit well-intentioned teachers to join their personalized learning dream team. I don’t see these teachers as evil but rather teachers who are easily manipulated and coerced into being connected with the “next big thing”. I see them as unwitting pawns of Rodel.
Rodel didn’t write much about personalized learning too much during this time, but they did release a Personalized Learning 101 flyer in 2013. At the same time, four Delaware districts formed BRINC: Brandywine, Indian River, New Castle County Vo-Tech, and Colonial. Using funds from Race To the Top and a Delaware DOE “innovation grant”, the districts used Schoology and Modern Teacher to usher Delaware into the digital learning age. Rodel’s blog posts about personalized learning didn’t touch on the concept again until February, 2014 when a Rodel employee by the name of Matthew Korobkin began writing posts about digital learning. More followed by other Rodel employees in the coming months. At this time, Dr. Paul Herdman of Rodel was palling around with an ed-tech company called 2Revolutions and went around Delaware talking to groups about the glory of personalized learning.
In the beginning of June in 2014, Rachel Chan with the Rodel Foundation attended a seminar in Washington D.C. on personalized learning sponsored by iNACOL. She wrote about this extensively on the Rodel website.
Later that month, the United States Department of Education released their state reports on special education in America. Delaware received a rating of “needs intervention”, prompting Governor Jack Markell to set aside funding in the state budget for a special education “Strategic Plan”. What no one knew until recently was this plan consisted of hiring Korobkin away from Rodel and into Secretary of Education Mark Murphy’s office to put this plan together.
Later in the summer of 2014, the Delaware Department of Education, with the Rodel Foundation of Delaware, banded together to form a clandestine group of “stakeholders” to look at competency-based education in a personalized learning environment in Delaware. The biggest hurdle in getting this going in Delaware was the barriers in the state code. Their were many players in this non-public group, including members of the Rodel Teacher Council who were also working on a “Personalized Learning Blueprint” at the same time. This group shaped the future of education in Delaware. But they used people to do so, including some of the members of this group.
The timing for this group couldn’t have come at a better time. There were many distractions happening that allowed them to fly under the radar with no one the wiser. Invitations were sent out to select participants from Theresa Bennett at the Delaware DOE. She was an Education Specialist for English/Language Arts in the Curriculum, Instruction and Professional Development area of the DOE. She was the person who scheduled all the meetings. An introductory webinar, sponsored by Achieve Inc., was held on August 14th, 2014.
After an explanation of competency-based education and personalized learning from some folks at Achieve Inc., they opened the webinar up for questions. At the 30:07 mark on the video, Appoquinimink Superintendent Matt Burrows explained his district already began the process for personalized learning. He mentioned several hurdles, especially the teachers’ union. Next came Judi Coffield, the former Head of School at Early College High School, a charter school run through Delaware State University. Coffield asked how Carniege units and high school grades would come into play with this. Bennett explained what role the DOE played in this and how she and Rachel Chan from the Rodel Foundation were going to run the group. Bennett went on to explain that select allies were invited to participate in this group. She also talked about a meeting with Achieve Inc. in Washington D.C. in May of 2014 to pave a path forward.
Bennett did a roll call of who was participating in the webinar. Jose Aviles, the director of admissions at the University of Delaware, was not on the call. Bennett explains how Aviles accompanied her to the Achieve Inc. meeting. “Is there a representative from Delaware PTA on the call?” No response. “Is Donna Johnson on the call?” Silence. “Kim Joyce from Del-Tech?” Nothing. “Pat Michle from Developmental Disabilities Council?” Empty air. She added Laurie Rowe and Stanley Spoor with Howard High School of Technology would be joining them. Susan Haberstroh with the Delaware DOE joined later in the Webinar.
Rodel and Markell knew they needed to stage a distraction to further this personalized learning agenda away from prying eyes while at the same time steering the conversation towards their end goals by using the distraction. They knew one of these distractions would automatically happen based on federal mandates from the US DOE, but the other would need careful planning and coördination. The first drove the need for the second.
A few weeks later, Governor Markell and then Secretary of Education Mark Murphy announced the six priority schools in Wilmington. The DOE picked the six “lowest-performing” schools in Wilmington, DE and announced the two school districts involved, Red Clay and Christina, would have to sign a “memorandum of understanding” and submit to the demands of the Delaware DOE. This put the entire city into an educational tailspin. Teachers in the affected schools felt outrage at the Governor and the DOE. Parents didn’t know what this meant. Politicians scrambled to make sense of it all as primaries and general elections faced them while constituents furiously called them. Teachers in Delaware were still reeling from the upcoming Smarter Balanced Assessment and the scores tied into their evaluations. Meanwhile, the secret meetings of the Delaware Department of Education Competency-Based Learning Guiding Coalition began without any public notice as an email went out from Bennett…
Thank you for your interest in the Competency-Based Learning Guiding Coalition. If you were unable to attend the informational webinar, please use this link to access the recording: http://www.achieve.org/DelawareCBLwebinar
The Guiding Coalition will be charged with laying the foundation for competency-based learning in Delaware. This will include creating a working definition of competency-based learning and what it could look like in Delaware, understanding current barriers to implementing CBL in Delaware, and establishing support for CBL initiatives to take root in the state. Once we have a common understanding of CBL, we will surface key ideas and develop recommended strategies for helping CBL take shape in the state.
The time commitment for the Advisory Group of the Guiding Coalition will be attending approximately two or three 2-hour meetings during the coming school year, with 30-60 minutes of pre-work for each meeting. There will also be opportunities to engage further through optional readings, school visits, webinars, and other convenings if your schedule/level of interest allows.
We are excited to share that an expert facilitator will be guiding each of our meetings; we would like to collect information to inform our meeting agendas. Please complete the following survey by September 10th: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/DECompetency-BasedLearning.
Please complete a Doodle to help us best schedule the meetings for this group. We hope to begin late September/early October, with meetings held in Dover. Responses to the Doodle poll will help us find the best day/time for the first meeting. Please use this link: http://doodle.com/mts6ncf74v77mnf
Education Associate, ELA
Curriculum, Instruction, and Professional Development
Delaware Department of Education
401 Federal Street, Suite #2
Dover, DE 19901-3639
Coming up in Part 2: Delaware gets Marzanoed
In the past week, I have heard from several parents in our state that their children are not getting into AP or advanced classes based on either their Smarter Balanced scores or the fact that their parents opted them out of the test. This is a horrible idea. Some of these students are straight A students. What the hell is wrong with these Principals and Superintendents who are making these foolish decisions? While I won’t name schools or districts due to the privacy of these families, I think these actions are abusive on unheard of levels.
When did Smarter Balanced become the barometer of student success in Delaware? The sole purpose of this test is to understand where our children compare to each other, so we can reduce the so-called achievement gaps. Now it is turning into a punitive measurement tool and it is affecting many lives. What kind of sick and twisted crap is this? Who is mandating this? Is it the Delaware DOE or the districts themselves? The Smarter Balanced Assessment is a fraudulent test. It is horrible and how anyone can think this test in any way should decide what classes a student takes needs to take a look at what true education is all about.
We are gearing our kids toward this ridiculous notion of “rigor” at a very early age in Delaware. I get that children need to read at earlier ages. But the way we are going about it, by taking away play time and stripping these innocent children from the very creativity which allows them to grow as a human being is truly sad.
Every single parent of a Delaware student this is happening to needs to be very loud and vocal. They need to tell the school Principal this is unacceptable. If the Principal doesn’t bend, go to the Superintendent. If the Superintendent doesn’t bend, go to the School Board. Go to the State Board of Education. Go to the media. Write letters to the editor of your local newspapers, Delaware State News, and the News Journal. Spread this to everyone you know on Facebook and other social media. Email your friends and family about this. Nothing in Delaware ever changes unless the people speak. And on this issue, parents MUST speak. And for those parents who don’t have kids in AP classes, if they are doing this to those students, just imagine how they are classifying other kids. The best thing you can all do is opt out in mass numbers to make this waste of a test invalid. That is the greatest option to end the destruction of public education. You need to advocate for your child. You are their parent. If they are a victim of this insane testing abuse, you have to speak up for them. Do not believe the lies far too many schools, districts, education non-profits like Rodel, and certain legislators are telling you.
It’s bad enough the Delaware DOE endorses ethical trickery with parents who try to opt their kids out. It’s bad enough the Smarter Balanced Assessment students take isn’t the same test for every student (which in my mind makes this test worth less than fools gold). But now we have this. This is a state assessment. Not a district mandated, or even school related assessment. It was created by the state for state usage. It should have absolutely no bearing on a student’s classroom progress. Using Smarter Balanced as a competency-based model of student achievement is not a good idea at all.
Can you imagine how students feel, who try their best in school, only to be victimized because of a once a year test? The heartbreak they feel, like they just aren’t good enough. This is what Delaware education has become, a travesty of epic proportions. We have turned the Smarter Balanced Assessment into the center of education. If it isn’t data walls, it’s accountability. If it isn’t libraries closing for weeks at a time, it is teacher evaluations based on this wretched test. If it isn’t state special education ratings from the feds, it’s standards-based IEPs designed to “help” kids do better on this test. If it isn’t reshuffling of classrooms to have high-performing SBAC students help low-performing SBAC students, it’s fighting parents when they don’t want their kids taking the test. If it isn’t students with disabilities being forced to take this test for 2-3 times longer than their peers, it’s the State Board of Education passing opt-out penalties in their school report card accountability joke. This is NOT the best test Delaware ever made, despite Governor Markell’s comments to the contrary.
When the 149th General Assembly reconvenes in January, their top priority needs to be setting firm laws dictating what this test can and can’t be used for. They also need to finish the job with opt out and codify a parent’s right to opt their child out of these punitive tests without penalty to the student in any way, whether it is AP classes, graduation, summer school, standards-based IEPs, abuse by administration, or denying a student the ability to choice to another school. This could have been written into law last January. I warned them then this issue was only going to get worse. My advice was unheeded by the majority of them. Those that supported the override attempt know the real deal. Those who didn’t need to seriously rethink their position on this.
And for any school in this state that has any type of data wall up in classrooms or anywhere in your schools with student names on them, take them down now. The days of shaming students for a state assessment are done. If any parent sees these data walls in any school, please take a picture of them and send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will file a Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) complaint the very same day. I will need to know the name of the school and the district. I am in the process of filing a few of these today.
The abuse of students in this state needs to stop. These are children, not testing guinea pigs for the data freaks. Is this really what education is about? Mental torture of children? All in the name of progress and accountability. I don’t think so. People wonder why I am so passionate about education. This is the main reason. What we are doing to kids. We are destroying the future.