Events at Odyssey Charter School have been bubbling for some time now but they are coming to a boil in recent weeks. When the Odyssey Board of Directors chose not to renew Headmaster Nick Manolakos’ contract, they put forth Riccardo Stoeckicht as their new “Campus Operations Officer” and Denise Parks as their Head of School. Between these two hirings, the school is looking at over $300,000.00 for these two positions alone. But the shenanigans don’t stop there. Continue reading
Yesterday, I wrote an article about some very concerning events at Delaware Met. I emailed the Delaware Department of Education about these concerns, along with legislators, Governor Markell, and Attorney General Matt Denn. State Rep. Paul Baumbach asked the DOE to look at the amount of in-school suspensions as well to which Deputy Secretary of Education David Blowman responded today:
From: Blowman David <david.blowman@DOE.K12.DE.US>
To: Baumbach Paul <email@example.com>; Kevin Ohlandt <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Cc: Nagourney Jennifer <Jennifer.Nagourney@doe.k12.de.us>; Godowsky Steven <Steven.Godowsky@doe.k12.de.us>; Markell Jack <email@example.com>; O’Mara Lindsay <firstname.lastname@example.org>; Denn Matthew <email@example.com>; Williams Kimberly <firstname.lastname@example.org>; Kowalko John <email@example.com>; Matthews Sean <firstname.lastname@example.org>; Gray Teri <email@example.com>; Haberstroh Susan Keene <firstname.lastname@example.org>; Young Shana <Shana.Young@doe.k12.de.us>; Carwell John <email@example.com>; Whalen Michelle <Michelle.Whalen@doe.k12.de.us>
Sent: Friday, October 23, 2015 2:32 PM
Subject: RE: Delaware Met
DOE staff visited Delaware Met yesterday afternoon to investigate the alleged violations of students rights. Below is a summary of their observations relative to the specific allegations reported by Mr. Ohlandt:
- Hiring prison guards – The school has hired four new support staff to help address the school’s climate issues. They began working at the school on Monday. Two of these individuals have backgrounds in juvenile corrections and currently serve a number of Delaware Met students in external community based programs.
- Multiple suspensions – It appears that the school is attempting to be more consistent with holding students accountable to the code of conduct which might explain a spike in suspensions. The exact number of suspensions will be verified.
- Inappropriate student confinements – There was no evidence of inappropriate student confinements. DDOE staff observed the In School Suspension (ISS) room. There were 2-3 students in the room.
DOE will continue to monitor the school and investigate potential violations of the school’s charter through the formal review process.
Many thanks, David
My biggest concern is how special education and IEPs are being implemented with fidelity at Delaware Met. And as I wrote earlier today, there seems to be confusion with their Code of Conduct, discipline efforts, and their Restorative Justice approach. In essence, I’m sure there is a lot we aren’t being told about what the exact nature is of the offenses students are committing that warrant suspension. From what I am hearing from Blowman, the school may be administering a type of zero-tolerance program in an attempt to instill order in the school. I do not think that is viable solution, nor is it a positive long-term action. It takes more students out of the classroom and away from education. I have not seen anything coming from this school to indicate they are making the best decisions or even know how to. But can parents of suspended students afford to wait until the State Board of Education makes a decision in mid-December? And even then, if they ultimately wind up deciding to revoke the school’s charter, it would not be until the end of the school year. How much damage can happen until then?
As well, I have heard numerous references to “gang-related” activity, both from third parties and the DOE’s own Formal Review notification letter. I don’t believe the DOE is equipped as a state agency to handle that type of thing and it may take the Delaware Attorney General’s office getting involved to gage what is truly going on with that aspect of events.
I also have to wonder how well the staff is at dealing with these types of matters. From what I am hearing, the bulk of the teachers are new. Do they have the necessary training and development to be able to deal with defiance from students? Does the administration? And for that matter, who is running the school? Is it Sean Gallagher who already has a full-time role as the Executive Director of Leadership at Innovative Schools for the Delaware Leadership Project? Or is it his intern who Gallagher stated at their 9/28 board meeting would run the “day-to-day” details of the school? And why has no one questioned the apparent conflict of interest with being paid by both Innovative Schools and the school that makes payments to Innovative Schools?
This culture of silence emanating from the school and their lack of transparency is highly troubling. Two board members left (which are not changed on their web site), no staff are listed on their website, and no board minutes have been released since their 9/23 meeting even though they have had three board meetings since then (their “special board meetings” on 9/28 and 10/12 and their regular monthly board meeting on 10/21). We don’t know what their current student enrollment is or even how many students have been suspended in the two months since the school opened. I’m sure answers will come at the November 4th meeting of the Charter School Accountability Committee meeting for Delaware Met’s formal review, but that may be little comfort to students and their parents who want answers now.
As the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission barrels ahead and the State Board of Education tries to firm up an accountability system for Delaware, look for several meetings this month. I’m going to try to get them all in, so look for a tab below this blog name going forward. I will be updating this list through the next couple days. Keep a close watch on the weather as several of the meetings or events could be canceled or delayed based on Hurricane Joaquin! If you have an event or meeting you would like included on here, please feel free to leave a comment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org but I will be putting the traditional school districts and CBOC meetings up later today, along with the other WEIC meetings and town halls.
10/1: Professional Standards Board, 5pm-9pm, Townshend Building, 2nd Floor Conf. Room, Dover
10/1: Great Oaks Charter School Joel Klein Event, *$100 ticket, $25 for educators*, Community Education Building, Wilmington
10/5: Accountability Framework Working Group (AFWG), 1pm-4pm, Townshend Building, 2nd Floor Conf. Room, Dover
10/5: Charter School Charter Renewal Public Hearing (Campus Community, MOT, Providence Creek), 5pm, Townshend Building, 2nd Floor Conf. Room, Dover
10/5: Charter School Major Modification Public Hearing (Mapleton Charter), 5pm, Townshend Building, 2nd Floor Conf. Room, Dover
10/5: Freire Charter School Ribbon Cutting Ceremony, 5:30pm, Wilmington, Governor Markell and Mayor Williams scheduled to attend
10/5: State Board of Education Workshop on alignment of standards, curriculum, and assessment (Smarter Balanced), 5pm-8:15pm, Grotto’s Pizza-Capitol Room, Dover
10/5: WEIC: Red Clay Town Hall Meeting, 7pm, Warner Elementary School, Wilmington
10/6: Delaware Education Support System (DESS), 1pm-4pm, Government Support Services Blue Hen Conference Room, 100 Enterprise Place, Suite 4, Dover
10/6: WEIC: Funding Student Success, 2pm, Red Clay District Office, Wilmington
10/6: Citizens Budget Oversight Committee Meetings: Delaware College Prep (no time given),
10/7: Delaware Developmental Disabilities Council: Children & Families Committee, 1:30-3:30pm, DDDS Office, Bear
10/8: WEIC: Redistricting Committee, 4:00pm, Red Clay District Office, Wilmington
10/8: SCR22 Educational Technology Task Force, 4:30-7:00pm, Townshend Bldg., 2nd Floor Conf. Room, Dover
10/8: Christina, Q&A with Acting Superintendent Robert Andrzejewski, 7pm, Shue-Medill Middle School, 1500 Capital Trail, Newark
10/8: School Board Meetings: Kuumba Academy (6pm)
10/10: School Board Meetings: Delaware Academy Of Public Safety (6:30pm)
10/12: P-20 Council, 12pm, Buena Vista Conference Room, Buck Library, New Castle
10/13: Charter School Accountability Committee: Charter Renewal (Campus Community, MOT, Providence Creek), 1pm, Townshend Building, 2nd Floor Conf. Room, Dover
10/13: Charter School Accountability Committee: Major Modification (Mapleton), 1pm, Townshend Bldg., 2nd Floor Conf. Room, Dover
10/13: WEIC: Parent, Educator & Community Engagement Committee, 5:30-7:30pm, Highlands Elementary School, Wilmington
10/13: Citizens Budget Oversight Committee Meetings: Kuumba Academy (2:30pm), Odyssey Charter School (7pm)
10/13: School Board Meetings: Appoquinimink (7pm), Christina (7:30pm), Colonial (7pm), Delaware Design Lab High School (6:30pm), Delmar (7pm), Polytech (6:30pm)
10/14: School Board Meetings: Odyssey Charter School (7pm)
10/14: Citizens Budget Oversight Committee Meetings: Brandywine (12pm)
10//15: New Castle County Combined Boards of Education Meeting, 7:30am (Breakfast & Socialization, food not free for non-board affiliates), 8:00am-Meeting begins, Sheraton Wilmington South, 365 Airport Rd., New Castle
10/15: State Board of Education Meeting, 1pm, Townshend Bldg., 2nd Floor Conf. Room, Dover
10/17: Caesar Rodney School District Referendum
10/19: Citizens Budget Oversight Committee Meetings: Delaware Military Academy (4:30-6:00pm), Las Americas Aspiras (6pm)
10/19: School Board Meetings: Brandywine (7pm), Delaware College Prep (6:30pm), Milford (7pm), Seaford (7pm), Sussex Tech (Time Not Listed), Thomas Edison Charter School (6pm)
10/20: Wilmington Education Improvement Commission Regular Meeting, 4pm, Sarah Pyle Academy, Gymnasium, Wilmington
10/20: Citizens Budget Oversight Committee Meetings: Gateway Lab School (5:30pm), Newark Charter School (5:30pm), Sussex Academy (3:30pm)
10/20: School Board Meetings: First State Military Academy (5:30pm), Gateway Lab School (7pm), Newark Charter School (7:30pm), Prestige Academy (6pm)
10/21: Citizens Budget Oversight Committee Meetings: Christina (6:30-8:30pm), Positive Outcomes (5pm)
10/21: School Board Meetings: Capital (7:30pm), Laurel (7pm), Positive Outcomes (5:45pm), Red Clay Consolidated (7pm), Smyrna (7pm), Sussex Academy (3:30pm), Woodbridge (6pm)
10/22: WEIC: Colonial Town Hall Meeting, 6:30-8:00pm, George Read Middle School, New Castle
10/22: Citizens Budget Oversight Committee Meetings: Academy of Dover (5:15pm), Early College High School (4pm)
10/22: School Board Meetings: Academy of Dover (6pm), Cape Henlopen (6pm), Early College High School (5:15pm), First State Montessori (6:30pm), lake Forest (7pm), Las Americas Aspiras (?)
10/26: WEIC: Meeting the Needs of Students in Poverty Committee: 4pm, United Way of Delaware, The Linden Bldg., Third Floor, Wilmington
10/26: WEIC: Christina Town Hall, 7:00-8:30pm, Pulaski Elementary School Auditorium, Wilmington
10/26: School Board Meetings: Delaware Military Academy (5:30pm), Great Oaks (5:30pm), Indian River (7pm), New Castle County Vo-Tech (7pm)
10/27: WEIC: Funding Student Success, 2pm, Red Clay District Office, Wilmington
10/27: DPAS-II Advisory Committee, 4:30-6:30pm, Townshend Bldg., 2nd Floor Conf. Room, Dover
10/27: Citizens Budget Oversight Committee Meetings: Family Foundations Academy (5pm)
10/27: School Board Meetings: Caesar Rodney (7pm), Charter School of Wilmington (5:30pm), Providence Creek Academy (7pm)
10/28: Vision Coalition 8th Annual Conference, 7:45am-2pm, Clayton Hall, University of Delaware, Newark *$30 ticket*
10/28: WEIC: Charter & District Collaboration Committee, 5:30pm, Location TBD
10/28: Citizens Budget Oversight Committee Meetings: Academia Antonia Alonso (5pm), Campus Community (4:30pm), East Side (4pm)
10/28: School Board Meetings: Academia Antonia Alonso (5:30pm), Campus Community (5:30pm), East Side (5pm), Family Foundations Academy (7pm), MOT Charter School (7:30pm)
10/29: WEIC: Redistricting Committee, 4:00pm, Graham Hall, 111 Academy St., Newark
*The Delaware Met & Delaware STEM Academy have no scheduled board meetings on their websites
Delaware Governor Jack Markell is in Germany this week initiating trade agreements with companies. Meanwhile, Delaware education has A LOT going on this week. Most important is the State Board of Education meeting on Thursday, September 17th. But other big events are happening as well. Today, the State Board of Education is having a retreat at the Duncan Center in Dover, tomorrow the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission meets for their regular meeting at William Penn High School in New Castle, and the Vision Coalition is formally announcing their next “big thing” on Wednesday at 10am at Del Tech in Dover. Oh yeah, there is also the whole Parent Strike REFUSE THE TEST event on Thursday, with a press conference in front of Legislative Hall at 12:30pm. And starting on Wednesday, the Delaware Department of Education will start mailing individual Smarter Balanced Assessment results to parents across the state.
With all this going on, I would probably skip town too Jack! 😉 But I’m sure this was scheduled way in advance. The fallout from decisions made this week, and in the next few months, could change the education landscape in Delaware for a long time. Will the DOE and State Board of Education change or will they be forced to? How much will it cost Delaware taxpayers to redistrict Wilmington? Will parent rage over the Smarter Balanced Assessment be enough to make an impact?
Here is a list of all things education this week:
Today, Monday September 14th:
Delaware State Board of Education Retreat, Outlook at the Duncan Center in Dover, 9:00am-5:00pm
Delaware STEM Council Quarterly Meeting, Dept. of Natural Resources Office, Lewes DE, 4:00-6:00pm
SCR 22 Educational Technology Task Force Meeting, DOE Townshend Bldg., Cabinet Room, 4:30-7:00pm
Red Clay Community Financial Review Meeting, Brandywine Springs Teacher’s Lounge, 6:30pm
Tomorrow, Tuesday September 15th
WEIC Funding Student Success Committee, William Penn H.S., Newcastle, 2:00-4:00pm
Wilmington Education Improvement Commission (WEIC), Regular Meeting, William Penn H.S. in Newcastle, 4:00-6:00pm
DPAS-II Advisory Sub-Committee Meeting, DOE Townshend Bldg., Cabinet Room, 4:30-6:30pm
WEIC Parent, Educator, & Community Engagement Committee, William Penn H.S. in Newcastle, 6:15pm
Christina School District Citizens Budget Oversight Committee Meeting, Gauger-Cobbs M.S., Newark, 6:30-8:30pm
Wednesday September 16th
Vision Coalition Student Success 2025 Launch, Del-Tech, Dover, 10am-12noon
Red Clay Consolidated School District Board of Education Meeting, Warner Elementary School, Wilmington, 7:00pm
Capital School District Board of Education Meeting, District Office, Dover, 7:30pm
Delaware DOE begins mailing individual results on Smarter Balanced Assessment to parents
Thursday, September 17th
Accountability Framework Working Group Meeting, John Collette Education Resource Center, Dover, 8:30am *no announcement of this meeting anywhere, is not a public meeting although it should be.
Parent Strike Press Conference, outside of Legislative Hall, Dover, 12:30pm
State Board of Education Meeting, Townshend Bldg, Dover, Cabinet Room, 1:00-5:30pm
Student Data Privacy Task Force, Carvel State Office Bldg,, 5th Floor, Wilmington, 2:00-4:00pm
Christina School District Board of Education Meeting, Sarah Pyle Academy, Wilmington, 6:30pm-8:30pm
Some parents start to get Smarter Balanced results in the mail, collective scream begins to emerge in Delaware
Friday, September 18th
More parents get SBAC results, the scream gets louder
I’ve talked about legislation that did pass, and bills that are still pending. The following are bills that should happen given the current state of education in Delaware. I strongly encourage our legislators to read this and start thinking about these ideas if you haven’t already. If we really want meaningful change for students in Delaware, we need to start thinking outside of the very small box we have placed ourselves in with curriculum, assessments, transparency, accountability, discipline and special needs. These are by no means my only ideas, but ones I feel could best benefit everyone involved in education in a meaningful way. I welcome comment on these ideas and actual ways to move forward on these if consensus is reached on them.
1) A bill to mandate the Delaware Department of Education places any contract with any outside vendor, regardless of active or non-active status, on their website. This shall include the original request for proposal, any bidders and their proposed bids within 10 business days after the selection of the contracted vendor, any addendums to the contract, change orders, or extensions, a clear and concise timeline for the contract, and any violations of the contract unless involved in current legal action. As well, all funds released to such vendor must be fully transparent for each vendor along with the dates of such payment and the services rendered for those funds. If any contract is in conjunction with another state Department, the Department of Education shall also release the same contract and financial information regardless of the reporting Department for the vendor.
2) A bill to remove the Smarter Balanced Assessment as the state assessment for Delaware. Any further state assessments developed in the state for the purposes of assessing Delaware students shall not be used for teacher evaluations and shall have no impact on a school’s accountability ratings, annual yearly progress, or the ability for a student’s retention or summer school options. Any state assessment shall be used for informational purposes only to guide teachers and educators in best practices for instruction of students and further advancement of researched and normed best educational practices. Any future state assessment must have a 3/4 majority vote in both the Delaware House of Representatives and the Delaware Senate in the event that item #10 on this list does not occur. Any testing vendor or contract associated with a state assessment must clearly indicate on their request for proposal any method of data collection and disbursement, internet safety protocols, conflicts of interest, scoring system with open and transparent rules and regulations surrounding such system, and ability to collect, collate and disseminate the scores based on the educational material to the State Board of Education and all school districts, charter schools and vocational school districts in a manner which will give reliable, timely (within one month), and purposeful educational direction designed for the ability to help students progress to the next level and to identify key barriers on an individual and local level for any student achievement. Any accommodation approved by an IEP or 504 team for the purposes of students with disabilities shall be honored as long as it does not prevent the student from actively taking part in such assessment. Any student who appears to be having undue stress or anxiety while taking such assessment shall immediately be given the ability to stop the assessment and take it at a future time. No assessment shall be more than three hours long and shall take up more than three school days. Any section of any such assessment shall be given no longer than one hour increments for each. No elected Governor of Delaware shall issue an Executive Order for any such state assessment, curriculum associated with the state assessment, or state standards for any such assessment. No local school district, charter, or vocational school district shall provide more than two assessments a school year, longer than two hours, as approved by the State Board of Education and the local school board of education based on the above and below criteria within this act. This does not include final exams, mid-terms end of unit assessments, teacher created assessments, the SAT, ACT, or classroom quizzes. None of these assessments shall create situations where a student is exposed to deductive reasoning or opinion based on any religious, racial, civil rights, violent, or current controversial issues that could create any type of belief system or cultural group to be affected, compromised, or in any way cause civil unrest or situations pitting students, parents or educators against each other.
3) The Delaware Department of Education and the State Auditor of Accounts will create a Comptroller General to oversee the financial flow of education funds coming in and out of all Delaware school districts, charter schools and vocational. This comptroller shall report on a monthly basis to the State Board of Education on the financial viability of all the above as well as any red flags that come up during their constant review and monitoring of all state, local, and federal funds. Any funds received by charter schools in the form of grants or donations, whether individual, group or foundation, shall be shown on the Comptroller General website as well as each charter school’s website. The charter school website must show where the funds are allocated, the purpose, and the progress of those funds being spent.
4) An act to remove the provision regarding the State Board of Education. Previously, the Governor appointed members to the State Board of Education. All seven members of the State Board of Education shall be elected by the general populace during the general election occurring each Election Day in the state. No member shall serve longer than a 3 year term, and term limits are set at two terms. No member who previously sat on the Governor-appointed State Board of Education shall be able to announce candidacy for the State Board of Education. The Executive Director of the State Board of Education shall be appointed by the General Assembly with a 3/4 majority vote in both the House and the Senate. The make-up of the State Board of Education shall consist of the following: Three members from Newcastle County, two members from Kent County, and two members from Sussex County. Three members shall be parents not affiliated with any state organization, department, group, commission or task force. No legislators shall be a member. Two members must be educators or former educators. One member must be an administrator or former administrator. One member must be either a special education educator or have sufficient special education background to represent the population of students with disabilities. No member shall be on the board of any current school district, charter, or vocational technical district. No member shall be employed or sit on the board of any past or present Department of Education contracted vendor. This act removes the Cabinet position of Secretary of Education and any reports created through this duly-elected State Board of Education must be sent to the Governor within 3 business days.
5) All school districts, charter schools, and vocational districts must have on their website the following: the number of Individualized Education Programs (IEP) the school currently administers, to be updated by the 5th day of each calendar month; the number of applied for IEPs and the number of accepted IEPs, the number of administrative complaints filed with the Department of Education against the school in terms of special education, the number of mediations through the Department of Education, the number of Due Process Hearings and their decisions with redacted identifiable student information, the number of special education lawsuits the school has or had, and the financial awards, including any applicable attorney fees or other amounts of each resolution if applicable; no hearing officer of any Due Process Hearing or Administrative complaint shall serve on any other state Department, group, commission, council, or division. The newly selected Due Process Hearing Council shall consist of five members, to be appointed by the duly-elected State Board of Education, and shall have the following qualifications: two parents of a child with a current IEP or last had an IEP within the past five years, one special education teacher currently employed by the State of Delaware, one member with a license to practice psychology, and one member with a license to practice psychiatry.
6) This act is to clarify that all schools must report any incidents of bullying, offensive touching, or fighting through the E-School or any such future designated system within two calendar days. All perpetrator and victim reports must be filled out. Any incident with a perpetrator or victim on this system shall be communicated with the parent or legal guardian of the student within 3 business days and signed by the parent or legal guardian. All such reports shall be given to the parent or legal guardian of a student along with their marking period or trimester report cards. Any proven failure to follow this act more than 3 times over any rolling three month period shall results in a filing by the State Board of Education to the Delaware Attorney General’s office to conduct an immediate investigation of the school or district, which shall have public notice of such filing both on the school or district website along with the most circulated newspaper in each county, to determine if the school is considered a persistently dangerous school and if determined, the school shall notify all parents of this designation within 5 business days of this decision.
7) This act is to clarify the process of “manifestation determination” as dictated by Delaware state code and Federal law. Any student on an IEP or Section 504 plan has clear and concise rights in regards to discipline. In the event of multiple suspensions, currently 10, but with this act changed to 5, the IEP or 504 team must convene within five business days to determine if the actions associated with the suspension or expulsion were a manifestation of the student’s disabilities. If it is determined by the team to be such, the school psychologist must do a functional behavioral analysis of the student within ten business days, report the findings to the team, and a behavioral intervention plan must be developed to assist the student with coping mechanisms, best proven practices associated with that particular disability to prevent such behaviors, and appropriate steps to educate students and all school staff in regards to the student’s disability as approved by the parent or legal guardian. This act shall also apply if a student spends more than 30 hours out of the instructional classroom due to any discipline incident. In the event the parent or legal guardian cannot be notified within 15 business days for any part of this process, one member of the duly-elected State Board of Education or the Due Process Hearing Council shall be appointed to represent the parent or legal guardian after all efforts to contact the parent have been exhausted within a 10 day period of time.
8) Any incident of an educator, school staff member, contracted vendor, or adult on school property or school function, seen by witnesses, whether student or adult, or viewed on school surveillance equipment, or reported by a parent after the fact in both writing and verbally, physically assaulting a student in retaliation or with malicious intent, including the following: punching, kicking, scratching, pulling hair, spitting on, biting, head butting, twisting any part of the student’s body with intent to cause discomfort, pushing to the extent the student falls down or falls into a surface to cause any type of mark on the student’s body, struck with a foreign object, or seen to actively notice and not react in a timely manner while other students engage in such activity against a student, shall result in the school administrator, or designated appointee, district superintendent, or designated appointee determining of the local law enforcement shall be contacted and an emergency convening of the local board of education within three business days with a quorum present to determine the nature of the incident and if any result of the action was through legal seclusion and restraint mechanisms as allowed by state law, and what the next appropriate steps shall be. This information must be reported to the State Board of Education and the Attorney General’s office within 24 hours. If either body determines the local board did not act in the student’s best interest, such adult will be terminated without pay or pension if employed by the state, or banned from the school property or any school function if not. Collective bargaining rights, if applicable, shall be suspended during this investigation. The local educators association, if applicable, must be notified of any such investigation within 24 hours and both the agency and the educator must be notified of the exact details of the allegation. In the event of any such action where the school is legally bound to contact law enforcement under state code and regulation, any decision determined by the state court system shall supersede any decision by the local board or state board of education.
9) This act shall remove Title 14, paragraph 508, section 347 of state code, the provision that charter schools shall keep any excess transportation funds over the contracted bid with any school bus company. In the event a charter school or school district owns the school buses, they must report on a monthly basis on their website, to the State Board of Education, and the Comptroller General all receipts for fuel, tolls, bus driver wages, repairs, estimates for repairs, and any maintenance receipts or costs for such buses.
10) Any Federal mandated curriculum, assessment, waiver, or regulation designed to give any type of educational direction to any school, student, or educator must be approved with a 3/4 vote by the following coalition of representatives: The State Board of Education, the President of the Delaware State Educators Association and each local president of the local educators associations based on a majority vote by each member of such local organization, three members of each school district board of education, one member from each charter school board of education, one member of each vocational school district, the President of the Delaware Association of School Administrators based on a majority vote by that body, the President of the Delaware Parent Teacher Organization based on a majority vote of that membership, and five Delaware State Representatives, three of which must be on the House Education Committee, three Delaware State Senators, two of which must be on the Senate Education Committee, and a State Board of Education appointed “50 Parent Council” consisting of the following: 22 parents from Newcastle County, 15 parents from Kent County, and 13 parents from Sussex County, all of which must have children currently enrolled in Delaware public schools with at least four years left in school, and not a member of any of the other organizations listed on this act. This body must then approve any such Federal education designation with a 3/4 majority vote. Any Federal funding linked to such curriculum, assessment, direction or regulation, shall be a means to give punitive action to any school, student or educator, nor shall a rule, threat or veiled threat of the removal or reduction of any mandated Federal funding give rise to intimidate, bully or coerce any type of public school establishment or state governing body into accepting these actions on a Federal level.
11) All state employees associated with any type of disbursement of educational funds, or employed to receive any such funds, with approval by the Comptroller General and the local board of education shall, in the event of the issuance of a state purchase card, list on the school or district website any and all receipts for such purchases, the reason for the purchase, and the exact description of the purchase designed for and approved under norms and regulations as determined by the Comptroller General and the State Board of Education to best serve the education of students in Delaware.
12) All school district and charter school board meetings must be digitally recorded and live-streamed from their websites. Minutes from non-executive sessions of board meetings must be posted on the school website within two business days if any action items were voted on or discussed to give parents and citizens the ability to view these items. All recordings must be placed on the school website within three business days of such board meeting. All boards must have a clear and concise agenda listed one week prior to any board meeting along with a description of any action items. All school board meetings must take place at either the district office or a school within the district. No board meeting shall take place at any location outside of these two designated areas, including any retreats which shall also be open to the public with the above rules and regulations. This will also include the State Board of Education.
13) The convening of a task force to determine how the Department of Education in Delaware effectively guides and determines best education policies for students in Delaware. No member of this task force shall be any past or present employee of the Department, or any contracted vendor employee currently or in the past receiving any funds from the Department. This task force must consist of the Governor, three members of the duly-elected State Board of Education, the Comptroller General, the President of the Delaware State Educators Association, the President of the Delaware Parent Teacher Association, the President of the Delaware Association of School Administrators, three board members from each traditional school district, one member from each charter school and vocational district, 5 parents from Newcastle county, 3 parents from Kent County and 3 parents from Sussex County, two special needs advocates, two parents of special needs students, two members from any minority-based Civil Rights group, and nine State Representatives (three of which must be on the House Education Committee) and five State Senators (two of which must be on the Senate Education Committee). This task force shall look at all best practices, rules, regulations, salaries, reporting structure, and communications within the Department and vote with 3/4 majority on proposed legislation to be reported to the Governor, publicly shown, and brought before the General Assembly within 30 days of the report or the first day of the assemblage of that body if after 30 days.
Delaware State Representative Deborah Hudson has once again introduced a bill which would demand ALL school boards in Delaware digitally record their board meetings and make them available to the public. It was also introduced in the 147th General Assembly as House Bill 23, but was never put out for a vote. So let’s do the time warp again and pray this bill gets a full vote by the House and Senate and passes! With all of the shenanigans made public by various charter schools in the past year, this is needed and transparency needs to rule the day as Kilroy would say. I think this bill has much stronger muscle in the House this time, but the Senate will need some work.
What is interesting is who sponsored it last time and who is doing so now. We have Hudson and Karen Peterson as a co-sponsor. Dukes, Baumbach and Kim Williams from the House stayed on. From the Senate we have just Greg Lavelle. Gone as sponsors from the House in House Bill 23 are D. Short, Miro, Peterman, Mitchell, Bennett, and Wilson; and from the Senate, Hocker, Simpson and Townsend have left. But House Bill 61 does have new sponsors from the House: Briggs King, Hensley, Yearick, Bolden, Jaques, Lynn, Matthews, Osienski and Paradee, and the Senate: Bonini.
The actual wording on the bill looks the same as House Bill 23. The only additional language is the part about executive sessions, workshops and retreats not being included as their are no votes at these sessions.
I had an awesome time with Rick Jensen today talking about parent opt out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment. There was so much more I could have said, but I had an hour. Some folks called in. John Young from the Christina School Board, Delaware State Rep Sean Matthews and Delaware State Rep John Kowalko. Rick and I talked about special needs children, the Delaware DOE, Smarter Balanced Assessment, and how it is not illegal to opt your child out in Delaware. We talked about the “scare tactic” letter the DOE wants districts to give to parents when they opt their kid out and how it is based on state code that does not include parents at all. I hope to do this again soon!
The following important education meetings are happening this week in Delaware:
Christina Board of Education: Tonight, 7:00pm, Sarah Pyle Academy (vote on Priority Schools)
Red Clay Consolidated Public Session: Tonight, 6:30pm, Warner Elementary School (final public session on Priority Schools before Board vote)
Family Foundations Academy Board meeting: Tonight, 7pm, 1101 Delaware St., Newcastle (first full board meeting after DE State Board decision to renew charter and new board alignment)
Delaware House of Representatives and Senate Education Committee meeting: Wednesday, January 21st, 2:30 (Delaware Department of Education coming to talk about the ESEA Waivers, open to the public)
Red Clay Consolidated Board of Education: Wednesday, January 21st, 7pm (Final vote on Priority Schools)
Governor Markell’s State of the State Address: Thursday, January 22nd, 2pm, Legislative Hall-Senate Chamber (if he doesn’t talk about education and priority schools in this I will be shocked)
Delaware DOE Public Town Hall Session: Thursday, January 22nd, Woodbridge High School, Greenwood, DE (to discuss ESEA Flexibility Waivers)
Go Kim! I’m glad to see a legislator getting involved in education matters like this. She found this out in a few weeks. Imagine if the DOE took that active a role in what goes on at these charters?
Both Capital School District and Red Clay Consolidated School District have board meetings tonight. One will discuss and vote on parent opt-out of standardized testing while the other will decide if they will accept a Memorandum of Understand to essentially allow the state of Delaware to take over three low-income schools with high populations of minorities and students with disabilities.
Delaware blogger Kilroy will be at Red Clay, and I will be at Capital. Both meetings could have huge ramifications for education in this state. If both go the way I am hoping it will send a clear message to Governor Jack Markell, Secretary of Education Mark Murphy and the Delaware DOE that local school districts will not allow the state to dictate there every move. Something that will be done with full transparency for all the public to hear.
This is our future if we do not stop this now. All schools will become charter schools. The public school system as we know it will gradually fade away. Teachers will become carbon copies of each other and will not be protected by unions. They will be paid less, have less college experience, and will follow online modules to teach our children. Every classroom and lesson will have the exact same plan every single day. Teachers will have to follow a required script. Our children will be taught not to question authority and will become brainwashed into obeying the will of their masters. These masters will be the 5% or less of the wealthiest in our society. The children of the reformers and corporate employees who profit from the most vulnerable of our country. Their children will attend private schools and will be educated without Common Core and standardized testing. They will have individuality and will one day rule the country.
The Special needs children will suffer the most in this dark future. They will be collected and warehoused into residential treatment centers, and made to be the outcasts of society. Discrimination strongly exists against these children now. It is a quiet, unassuming discrimination, but it is there all the same.
This is our crucial moment. We can allow this future to happen, or we can stop it now. Those with even a small bit of information have seen this future, but the vast majority of America needs to wake up, and they need to do it now. Our future is changing right before our very eyes. Freedom and democracy are morphing and changing, into a shape that is not good for our children.
I am asking both Capital and Red Clay to save our children, to push back against a reform movement existing to make money off the most precious minds of our society. As I will say tonight, backroom deals are made to profit those who smile in public and stab our children, teachers, and schools in the back. We need to stop this, before we wake up one day and realize it is too late.
I’ve taken the liberty of creating Facebook groups for each school district in Delaware. This way parents can get together and plan opt-out strategies together. I suggested going to the school board meeting in your district, speak for 20 seconds about who your child or children are, that you want them to opt out, and give an opt out letter to the school board president. The original article for that from a week ago was here:
What do you need to do? Join your district opt out group on Facebook, and SPREAD THE WORD. Tell your friends, tell your neighbors, tell your enemies, tell anyone who will listen! Just talk about it. If you want to be really radical, tell people at church, put flyers on windshields at your local grocery store, give them to parents at school sporting events, just do SOMETHING! Because if you do nothing, nothing will happen. Share this link on Facebook, put it on Twitter, Instagram, wherever you can! Make opt out cupcakes for kids at Halloween!
To get a quick link to all the Facebook groups for each district, just go to this list:
Caesar Rodney: https://www.facebook.com/groups/330217710494265/
Cape Henlopen: https://www.facebook.com/groups/659590697473347/
Indian River: https://www.facebook.com/groups/343734129141847/
Lake Forest: https://www.facebook.com/groups/328549060664391/
New Castle County Vo-Tech: https://www.facebook.com/groups/703996539678113/
Red Clay Consolidated: https://www.facebook.com/groups/290247144492167/
Sussex Tech: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1522571074626892/
All Charter Schools in Delaware: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1477351309213561/
If you want to know all the reasons why Common Core is bad for your child, I highly recommend joining this group:
Delaware Against Common Core: https://www.facebook.com/groups/157115501116902/
If you are against what the Governor Markell, Secretary of Education Mark Murphy and the Delaware Department of Education are doing with the “priority schools”, please join this group:
Delaware Parents Against Priority Schools: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1474847392802505/
I will also keep this in my menu guide with links below the title of this blog.
It’s past time parents started taking their children’s education back and helped to get rid of Common Core and standardized testing once and for all. It will never happen if you do nothing. It is controversial, and it will piss people off, but if enough of us do it, things will change.
Capital School District in Dover has a board meeting Wednesday night (October 15th) and already has this on their agenda for discussion. They want and need parent support.
3.10 State Assessment Parent Opt Out (Resolution No. 15-041)
Parents aren’t the only ones thinking opt out is a good choice, so you are not alone on this if you are already leaning towards it. It’s a big choice, I understand. Some may ask if I’ve opted my own son out. Yes I did. I did it through a letter to the editor in the Delaware State News, which posted on October 7th. But if that isn’t sufficient, I will be at the Capital Board meeting, and I will do what I am asking every parent of a student in Delaware to do at a board meeting. It is actually a relief once you do it, like a great weight has been lifted. Yes, you will get grief for it, but your kid won’t have to take the test. It may start small and you will feel like a voice crying out in the wilderness. That’s okay, I feel like I’ve been doing that sometimes for the past six months! Whatever your differences, where you come from, what you do, who you are- none of that matters. It’s what’s best for our children.
Please go and join the Facebook page for your district. I will stay on as admin until things get up and running, and then if you want to be an admin just let me know! Thank you Delaware parents, and please do the right thing for your child.