This is exactly why I don’t trust the Delaware Department of Education. Taking a nod from the Christina School District settlement with 15 charter schools last year, the Department has decided to let charters get match tax funds in a phased-out plan for district exclusions. Continue reading
Nothing is invincible. Both statements are correct. No one person or power is absolutely invincible. But if you do nothing, then nothing becomes invincible. This is where we are these days, a synchronicity, a play on words. Not just in my home state, but as a country. People seem to be making decisions based on fear more than what is necessary. If I do this, then this will happen. If I speak against this then it may make me look bad or it could cause me problems. You are exactly where they want you. Because even if they aren’t invincible, they know nothing is. They also know if you do nothing, they are that much closer to becoming invincible.
I heard these words this morning driving to work. Nothing is invincible. A guy named Gordon Sumner sang these words along with a couple of his friends back in 1983. Gordon was a teacher back in the day. His words from thirty-three years ago are very prophetic. Because nothing is winning the day in public education. A lot of people talk about something but too many say nothing. But trust me, the enemies of public education have plenty to say. They hold an illusionary power. This is power they have been given. They use fear tactics to silence their oppressors because they know how to do it. They turn words like “rigor”, and “robust”, and “pathways” into their symbols of change. But they experience fear too.
Nothing scared them more than 22% of New York students opting out of the state assessment this year. New York parents are smart. They know that if enough of them opt out it makes the policy makers who love these tests. They know nothing is invincible. We all need to take this cue from the Empire State. Imagine if 22% of Americans said something instead of nothing? Imagine if that number grew to 30%? 50%, or 75%? It would destroy their corporate profit-driven dreams for our children. Politicians would stand up and take notice. The King would fall. For the corporate education reformers, their illusionary invincibility would crumble into dust. They would become nothing.
How many parents in Delaware and the rest of America got their kid’s state assessment results, looked at them, and thought “my kid’s grades don’t reflect this. What the hell are they taking this test for?” I know many who felt it was a waste of paper and ink and disposed of these results. I know some parents are worried about choicing their child to another school if they opt them out of the test. To them I say “Do it anyways,” because if enough of you do it those choice qualifications won’t matter. Those qualifications will become the dust on the reformer’s mirrors when they look at themselves and say “Why”?
Remember, nothing is invincible. If you believe in something, say it. It’s what makes us America. Don’t let fear rule the day. Let your voice and your conscience and your own inherent sense of what is right and what is wrong make the decision, not what others say or what they pressure you into believing. They are liars and will stop at nothing to tear down your child’s own sense of what is right and wrong so they can get their way. Don’t give them that power. Don’t let them try to brainwash our kids into believing their way is the right way.
If you look on social media and some of the blogs today, many Delawareans are talking about the vote in the House yesterday on the Death Penalty Repeal bill. Senate Bill 40 passed in the Senate but the House shot it down with a 17-22 vote. On the record, it was a 16-23 vote, but State Rep. Kim Williams voted no so the bill could have a potential shot at being reconsidered.
I will firmly state I am against the death penalty. Like State Rep. Sean Lynn said yesterday, if there is even a chance of an error, than we cannot and should not put a person’s life on the line like that. With that being said, I also oppose abortion. To me, life is life. Yes, the death penalty was put in place to execute the most egregious of criminals out there, but the Bible firmly states “Thou shalt not kill.” Under that line of thought, a fetus is a life just as much as a murderer on death row.
For abortion, I believe that all life has an unfulfilled purpose. I saw a post on Facebook this morning where a woman talked about being raped. She had a child and gave it up for adoption. Many years later, that very same child saved a woman from being raped at a party. I often think about what could happen with children who are not able to reach their full potential. Some don’t have a chance at all. I used to be against all abortion with the exception of a woman who is a victim of rape. I have changed that view in recent years because there are other options. I understand women in those situations are given no choice. But I have no doubt, if even 1% of our most famous inventors, writers, musicians, or leaders were born out of that environment, our world would be a lesser place had they not been born.
For families who have lost a loved one to a murderer, I cannot even begin to imagine your pain. I have never gone through that, and I pray I never will. I think every human being on this planet has thought about revenge at one point or another. In my view, it doesn’t take away the event that precipitated the feeling of pain. It simply masks it and any feeling from it tends to be short-term and can cause more psychological scars down the road. And what if the guilty are not guilty? I would find it very difficult to deal with if I found out I wanted death for someone who turned out to be innocent.
These aren’t easy issues, and based on some of the votes yesterday in the House, this can’t be seen as a simple Democrat or Republican issue. Sure, many Democrats support death penalty repeal but favor a woman’s choice for abortion. On the Republican side, it tends to be the opposite. How many are out there that support both or are against both? Please take the poll below. I am very curious how people stand on these very controversial issues.
Odyssey Charter was supposed to have an Open House for their 9th grade choice enrollment a couple weekends ago. It was abruptly postponed. Apparently the school is not quite ready to expand into the high school arena. Sources tell me they are having some bond issues to finance the new building. Nothing major, but a letter is supposed to be going out to parents according to a dad I spoke with. They do have a tentative open house scheduled for next year’s 9th graders in December. I’m sure it is something that will be worked out, they just need some additional time to get everything sorted out. The deadline for choice enrollment is January 13th, 2016. If they are unable to get it all fixed by then, they may have to delay their high school for another year.
The Executive Director of the State Board of Education, Donna Johnson and Susan Haberstroh, in charge of Policy and External Affairs with the Delaware Department of Education, just presented a review of the Statewide Review of Educational Opportunities to the Delaware State Board of Education. The report fails to mention all the schools in Delaware that have selective enrollment practices that results in not all students given the same educational opportunities. Instead, they are focusing on some of the schools that practice this logic. This review stemmed from House Bill 56, signed by Governor Markell earlier this year. That legislation also put a pause on new charter school applications until this review was done. Public Consulting Group is the vendor for this initiative.
I may not always agree with Devon Hynson, but for the most part, he hits a bullseye!
This is the reality in Delaware. And like he said, it’s not all charters. It’s not all schools. But I don’t think the solution is necessarily to send your kid back to a traditional public school. I think the time is come to hold the schools who say they can’t, or won’t accommodate, to the fire. It’s not a choice for public schools to pick and choose things that go against state and federal law. And if the DOE won’t do anything about it, than every single parent who goes through this needs to stand up and shout it to the world. They are getting OUR taxpayer money. Why should we leave? They need to be held accountable for this stuff, not all the stupid assessments. It’s not choice if the student isn’t getting everything they would be entitled to at a regular school. It’s discrimination. And traditional schools, you don’t get to pick and choose based on what’s best for the district or your budget, you pick what’s best for the individual student. No more!
I’m talking to you Delaware Charter Schools Network, Rodel, Schools That Care, and Publius! In the next six days, Delaware legislators will be signing on to co-sponsor Kowalko and Lawson’s Parent Opt Out House Bill. You may even be scratching your head at some of the legislators that will put their name on this. But it’s going to happen. This bill will be submitted.
The first reason you need to support this is because it’s a parent’s CHOICE. I was reminded of this last night by two school board members. You folks are all about the CHOICE. You live and die by that one word. Now it’s time to put your support where your mouth is. While choosing a school for your child’s education is a CHOICE, so is determining how your child is educated. It’s a parent’s CHOICE. If you do not support this bill, we will all know that you don’t truly believe in CHOICE.
The second and more important reason is because of the nature of this bill. Students who, for various reasons, may not be able to take the test will not count in the proficiency ratings. This will make your scores go up! Why is this good, aside from the obvious? I know you aren’t going to go away. You are a part of the landscape, and that’s not a bad thing. But when the ACLU complaint goes forward with the OCR, and they rule on it, you know what’s going to happen. You will be court-ordered to include more of the minorities, low-income and special education kids in your communities. By default, test scores will go down. You will be screaming for parent opt out then, so why not be proactive and do it now! Many charters in Delaware pride themselves on their academic framework and proficiency ratings. But when your populations change, and the new School Accountability System kicks in with the letter grades of A-F, your school could very well become the next priority school!
I’ve watched the Wilmington City Council meeting from October 9th a couple of times. But I got that insane idea in my head (again) to transcribe the question and answer part of it. This was when the councilmen asked Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy and Dr. Penny Schwinn questions about the Priority Schools designation for six “failing” schools in Wilmington. This q & a lasted about 45 minutes, so I’m breaking it up into two parts.
Doing this allowed me to see how many times Murphy or Schwinn never really answered certain questions or danced around them with their very wordy answers. If you are a stakeholder in the priority schools, I would highly recommend reading this. Watching Mark Murphy try to sell this insane idea is actually kind of fun. Even more fun is watching Murphy stumble through certain answers, or he would just start mumbling incoherent parts of sentences until he could collect his thoughts. Without further ado, here is the cast, followed by Part 1.
Wilmington City Council Members: Theopalis Gregory (President), Nnamdi Chukwuocha (1st District), Ernest Congo II (2nd District), Darius Brown (3rd District), Hanifa Shabazz (4th District), Samuel Prado (5th District), Sherry Dorsey Walker (6th District), Robert Williams (7th District), Charles Freel (8th District), Michael Brown Sr. (Council Member At-Large), Maria Cabrera (Council Member At-Large), Loretta Walsh (Council Member At-Large), Justen Wright (Council Member At-Large)
Questions Presented to Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy and Proficiency Officer Dr. Penny Schwinn by the Wilmington City Council. Continue reading