Delaware Education Roundup, Early October 2017 Edition

The school year is in full swing and there is lots going on!

For starters, a Charlton School special needs teacher was arrested for sexual texts to a 17-year-old student according to WDEL.

Sources have said several board members at Thomas Edison Charter School resigned last week in response to the actions of Board President Ronald Pinkett.  I was not given names or an exact number.

Central Middle School in the Capital School District are in the process of hiring two constables for the school.  Dover High School started this program last year with success.  Capital got the idea from Indian River School District who has, I believe, 16 constables throughout their schools.  Last night, the school held a parent q & a for interested parents and will be holding another one when they have hired the two constables.

The September 30th Unit Count took place last Friday.  The results should be released at some point in November.  Expect numbers and data crunching here at Exceptional Delaware.

According to the Cape Gazette, several students from Cape Henlopen High School participated in public service announcements for safe driving: On October 4, 2017 several of our Cape Henlopen High School juniors were selected by the Driver’s Education Department, to participate in recording radio PSA’s promoting teen safety while driving. iHeart Radio stations will be playing the PSA’s throughout Sussex county on the radio and online. Students who were selected were also part of a team who competed at the Delaware Drivers Ed Competition. The competition took place at Dover International Speedway at the end of last school year.

Three Delaware schools won the Blue Ribbon Award this year.  No charters.  Olive B. Loss Elementary School, Seaford Central Elementary School (Seaford), and East Millsboro Elementary School (Indian River) all won the federal designation this year.  This is the first time since I’ve been blogging that a Delaware charter or private school was not in the list of the winners.

The Delaware Department of Education is holding “community conversations” to tweak their school report cards.  Five meetings have been scheduled: Monday October 9th from 6-8pm at Beacon Middle School in the cafeteria (Cape Henlopen School District), Thursday October 12th from 6-8pm at Warner Elementary School in the library (Red Clay Consolidated School District), Wednesday October 18th from 6-8pm at Dover High School in the cafeteria (Capital School District), Monday October 23rd from 6pm-8pm at MOT Charter High School in the cafeteria, and Tuesday October 24th from 6pm-8pm at the Laurel Middle School in the cafeteria (Laurel School District).  The Delaware DOE is asking for participants to RSVP here.

Another committee, The Anti-Discrimination Guidance Team will hold their last Community Conversation tomorrow night (October 5th) at Sussex Central High School from 6:30-8:00pm.  I have been in the midst of a move recently so I haven’t been able to fully delve into this committee.  But you can find information on the Draft Policy, Draft Regulations, and a survey from the DOE here.  I hadn’t looked at the membership of this Guidance Team until just now.  How ironic that Greg Meece from Newark Charter School is on this.

Capital School District will be holding their Super Senator Day at Dover High School from 10am-2pm.

The month of October is Disability History and Awareness Month in Delaware.  As per the Indian River Facebook page, October is Disability History and Awareness Month in Delaware. This official observance began in 2009 when members and staff of the Governor’s Advisory Council for Exceptional Citizens encouraged Rep. Quinton Johnson and Sen. Bethany Hall-Long to sponsor House Concurrent Resolution 19. The purpose was to encourage schools to include information in their lessons and sponsor activities to promote the accomplishments of individuals with disabilities throughout history. The goal is to increase awareness and the acceptance of students with various disabilities.

On Colonial School District’s Facebook page, they announced the following: Staff and students were recognized today by DuPont for the amazing agricultural work being done at William Penn High School. Representatives from DuPont, members from State Legislature and Senate, USDA and members from the community celebrated the efforts of WPHS agriculture and science students and teachers in their work with pollination. Several staff and students were also awarded with grants to help further their education to continue the success at William Penn. In honor of her tireless efforts in making William Penn the great school that it is, a wildflower meadow was named in honor of Ag Teacher Kate Pickard. Thanks to DuPont and our community for helping our kids and give them opportunities to grow.

Appoquinimink is providing dinner for interested parents of students with special needs at the Marion Proffitt Training Center.  I would RSVP fast though!  Other events through their Parent Council is included in the below picture!

State Senator Margaret Rose-Henry from the 2nd Senate District in Wilmington announced she will not be seeking reelection in 2018.  This follows State Senator Brian Bushweller’s similar announcement in August.

Campus Community School in Dover had a cool announcement yesterday: Campus Community School is in the news again!!! This year, we have partnered with Northnode Counseling and Jennifer August, a board certified Art Therapist, to provide this service to our students. Art therapy provides students with an outlet and allows them to express themselves through their artwork.

Shields Elementary School students in the Cape Henlopen School District performed a worthy cause for hurricane victims as per the district’s Facebook page from September 22nd: This week Shields Elementary School teamed up with Lewes Fire Company, and collected items to send to Florida and Texas to help families affected by Hurricane Harvey and Irma. The students spent part of their morning “stuffing the bus” full of the donations. Thank you to the students, staff, parents, and community members who donated and made our “Stuff the Bus” event a success!  Way to go Shields students!

A friendly reminder that all Delaware public schools are closed on Friday due to an in-service professional development day.  While the children play, the teachers pay! Just kidding (I hope)!

Academia Antonia Alonso will be holding their Fall Festival on October 22nd.

Glasgow High School in the Christina School District will hold their 8th Annual College Fair on October 26th.

Red Clay Consolidated School District will be holding their 11th Annual Family Resource Fair on November 4th at John Dickinson High School from 10am-1pm.

Next week is National School Lunch Week, from October 9th-13th.  I’m not sure what that means.  How do you celebrate school lunches?  Free Chik-Fil-A or Panera?  That would be something to celebrate! (No disrespect to the thousands of school cafeteria workers in our fine state)

This week, Positive Outcomes Charter School is holding their Spirit Week.

I don’t think Governor Carney likes me too much today.

I don’t care.

If you have any school or district events you would like to share, please email me at kevino3670@yahoo.com with details.  Or if you want to share something controversial, feel free to do the same.  Charters are welcome to share as well despite my writing stuff about them all the time.  I write about district stuff too but that gets lost in the noise sometimes.  Trying to make this blog less bad and actually share some of the good stuff going on in our schools.  Once again, if you want to promote any type of standardized test score enjoyment, please don’t.  I will opt right out of writing about that kind of nonsense!

Christina Board Meeting Agenda Has A Nuclear Action Item For Consideration Next Week

The Christina Board of Education voted last week to accept the settlement concerning the lawsuit filed by 15 charters against them and the Delaware DOE.  Next week, an action item submitted by a board member could cause a tsunami of controversy.  As well, there is another action item that will certainly cause another ordeal just by being there. Continue reading

Is Godowsky Trying To Protect Himself From The District-Charter Funding Fiasco aka Blowmangate 2016?

doetownsendbldg

In reading Delaware Secretary of Education Dr. Steven Godowsky’s letter to the General Assembly about what I am now calling Blowmangate 2016, it appears Godowsky is shielding himself from potential accountability for this gigantic mess.  I believe he should.

In the letter, the word “I” doesn’t appear until the 5th paragraph.  Every mention in the timeline provided in the paragraphs before that uses the words “The Department”.  I firmly believe Godowsky did this to not only provide the entire state a definitive answer on this funding issue, but also to cover himself should any investigation or accountability rise from this.

At no point in the letter does Secretary Godowsky show he ever approved the changes to the charter and choice bills sent out from the Delaware Department of Education.  That is very important.  As many have surmised based on articles about this as well as an email from State Rep. Earl Jaques, Godowsky was in the dark on this until after the charter bills went out.  But he was the epicenter of the firestorm, as the News Journal called it, when I published the first article on this topic and legislators pounced on Godowsky like a mama bear would protecting their cubs.

At no time has the true mastermind at the DOE behind this ever provided any public comment about this: Associate Deputy Secretary of Education David Blowman.  In the Delaware DOE, it is very rare when someone is terminated.  On paper and in the public, it is usually a resignation.  Former Secretary of Education Mark Murphy “resigned” shortly after the priority schools funding issues with Red Clay were made public.  Former Accountability & Assessment Chief Penny Schwinn and her right-hand man Ryan Reyna “resigned” after the school report card saga called the Delaware School Success Framework showed many issues surrounding transparency and a lack of true collaboration with stakeholders.  Former Teacher/Leader Effectiveness Unit Chief Christopher Ruszkowski “resigned” after complaints about his comments at the DPAS-II Advisory Group Sub-Committee.  We see this phenomenon often in school districts and charters.  It happens in the business world as well.  It allows for a graceful exit without controversy and saves both parties bad press and potential legal action (unless some “Sneaky Snake Blogger” writes about it).  Will David Blowman “resign” over his self-created Blowmangate 2016?  I believe he should “resign”.

For Secretary Godowsky, this has to be embarrassing for him.  He promised the citizens of Delaware there would be better communication and partnership coming from the Delaware DOE.  At his Senate Confirmation Hearing last October, State Senator Nicole Poore said Dr. Godowsky is “a breath of fresh air” after three years of Mark Murphy.  After the opt out penalty in the Delaware School Success Framework last year, where Godowsky changed course on the matter in two weeks, he had to deal with the closure of a brand-new charter school.  Key personnel at the DOE “resigned” as the better communication coming from the Department never seemed to materialize.  While Godowsky serves at the pleasure of the Governor, he does have his own opinions.  I have to think the decisions he makes based on his commitment to the Governor has to conflict with issues he wrestles with in his own mind.  Now the Delaware DOE has a babysitter over the district-charter funding issues in the form of the House and Senate Education Committee.  I don’t recall that happening at any time on any DOE issue.  This is a clear sign the General Assembly is at their wits end with the Delaware DOE.  In addition to that, the State Board of Education is under Sunset Review by the Joint Sunset Committee next year.  This is not something that is done at random.  It has to be put forth by a member of the Sunset Committee.  Eight members of that committee voted yes with one abstention (Senator David Sokola) and one absent (Senator Bryan Townsend).

Many people in Delaware, including parents, citizens, legislators, and educators are calling for an elected State Board of Education and more recently, an elected Secretary of Education.  Some seem to want the position of Secretary of Education eliminated altogether.  Many want radical change in the Delaware DOE.  With the Every Student Succeeds Act about to become the biggest topic in Delaware education, in addition to the upcoming primary and General Election, the DOE has to be very careful about how they conduct themselves.  They are being closely watched, and not just by me.  To give this a matter of perspective, they are standing on a frozen lake in early March and the weather forecasts are calling for warm days ahead.  Will the DOE be able to get off the frozen lake before they plunge into the depths?  Time will tell.  They need to change course immediately and realize that defiance of the will of the people and the General Assembly will not be tolerated.

As for Secretary Godowsky, he will retire next year.  He has the endpoint on his resume of being the guy that transitioned between Mark Murphy and whoever our next Governor picks as the Secretary of Education.  Time will tell how he will be viewed through the lens of history.  He could convince Governor Markell that what the DOE is doing is wrong and they need to abandon his plans for Delaware education.  I strongly urge Dr. Godowsky to consider that option in his remaining months.  He knows exactly what is at stake.

*The above picture of the Townsend Building, home of Delaware DOE leadership, in Dover, DE is from firststatepics.com

I’ll Take The Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme, But I’ll Opt Out Of The Parsley!

I thought my recording of the Delaware Senate legislative session covering House Bill 50 would have able to be transcribed, but I’ll have to tinker with it and see if I can muffle some sounds (like the tip tap of me typing live during it).  I especially want to get the part with the Milford special education teacher, Jesse Parsley on here.  I’ll do my best.

Every single teacher I talked to about his testimony thought it was very flawed compared to their experience, including a couple teachers at the very school he teaches at.  None of them had such a flawless Smarter Balanced Assessment implementation.  They ALL took offense about his “teaching to the test” comments and if teachers are doing that then they aren’t doing it right.

Interesting facts continue to come my way about Mr. Parsley.  I’ll hold off on some of them cause I don’t like to go the personal route.  But I find it bizarre to say the least.  It almost seemed as if he was my counter, as a special education teacher, to somehow discount the problems numerous special education teachers and parents of special needs children have been saying.  If nobody else agrees with you, what does that make your testimony in front of a room full of state senators?

I’m sure certain people will take offense I am singling out Mr. Parsley, but he can take the credit for that.  If you want to go public about a controversial topic, you should expect some controversy, especially when most people aren’t on the same page as you.  I’ll opt out of the Parsley thank you very much!

If you are wondering about the odd title, it’s from a Simon and Garfunkel song from back in the 1960’s.  I’m showing my age here (even though I was technically born in the 1970’s).

Delaware DOE Embargoed Public Information Yesterday, What Is Their Agenda? @KilroysDelaware @ed_in_de @dwablog @Apl_Jax @ecpaige @nannyfat #netde #eduDE #prioritizethat

Adding fuel to an already huge fire, the Delaware DOE emailed all the legislators about the Town Hall meetings regarding the school accountability waivers yesterday morning.  As of this time, no notice had been received by schools and teachers that I am aware of.  While it is customary for an entity to wait for a press release on matters such as this, why would you notify only certain parties first and not the parties that have the most right to be there?

In observing several different social media sites, I have noticed many teachers and those concerned with the complete and utter disregard the DOE has for its most important stakeholders have become very angry over these issues.  Not only did the DOE not tell these groups, but they also booked these meetings on nights when other very important education issues are going on.  Some have surmised they planned it this way and they do NOT want a large attendance of parents and educators present.  They also feel this is just a big dog and pony show for the DOE to make it look like public outreach.  I am inclined to agree with these individuals.  This is a DOE that has their Board of Education meetings in the middle of the workday, virtually shutting out parents and educators from attending.

The following email had been sent out yesterday morning to all the legislators in Delaware.  But can someone please, for the love of God, let me know why it would be essential to include someone from DelDot and the Office of Management and Budget before educators, administrators, parents and students?

From: Shockley Tina <Tina.Shockley@doe.k12.de.us>
Sent: Tuesday, October 28, 2014 8:51 AM
To: Anderson, Patricia L (LegHall); Atkins, John (LegHall); Barbieri, Michael (LegHall); Baumbach, Paul (LegHall); Bennett, Andria (LegHall); Bentz, David (LegHall); Blakey, Donald (LegHall); Blevins, Patricia (LegHall); Bolden, StephanieT (LegHall); Bonini Colin; Brady, Gerald (LegHall); Brainard, Mark G (LegHall); BriggsKing, Ruth (LegHall); Bushweller, Brian (LegHall); Carson, William (LegHall); Carter, Dick (LegHall); Cloutier, Catherine (LegHall); Contant, Heather (LegHall); Cook, Bill (LegHall); Cutajar-Wynne, Lauren (LegHall); DeStefano, Damian (LegHall); Dukes, Timothy (LegHall); Dwyer, Sean (LegHall); Ennis, Bruce (LegHall); Evinger, Kathryn (LegHall); Finnigan, Sean (LegHall); Flannigan, Beverly (LegHall); Fulgham, Joseph (LegHall); Gordon, Bryan (DHSS); Grant, Jerry (DOI); Graves, Lauren (LegHall); Gray, Ronald (LegHall); Hall-Long, Bethany (LegHall); Harper, Rylene (LegHall); Harrison, Leigh Ann (LegHall); Heffernan, Debra (LegHall); Henry, Margaret Rose (LegHall); Hickman, Nancy (LegHall); Hocker, Gerald (LegHall); Hudson, Deborah (LegHall); Irvin, Alton (LegHall); Jackson, Michael S (LegHall); Jamison, Alexis F (LegHall); Jaques, Jr, Earl (LegHall); Johnson, JJ (LegHall); Johnson, Quinton (LegHall); Kanich, Tammie (LegHall); Keeley, Helene (LegHall); Kenton, Harvey (LegHall); kenton Harvy; Kowalko, John (LegHall); Lavelle, Greg (LegHall); Lawson, Dave (LegHall); Lewis, Elizabeth (OMB); Longhurst, Valerie (LegHall); Lopez, Ernesto B (LegHall); Mantegna, Stephanie (LegHall); Marshall, Robert (LegHall); McBride, David (LegHall); McCartan, Valerie (LegHall); McDowell, Harris (LegHall); Miro, Joseph (LegHall); Mitchell, John L (LegHall); Moore-Dean, Margaret (LegHall); Mulrooney, Michael (LegHall); Osienski, Edward (LegHall); Outten, Bobby (LegHall); Paradee, Trey (LegHall); Park, Evan (DelDOT); Peterman, Jack (LegHall); Peterson, Karen (LegHall); Pettyjohn, Brian (LegHall); Philpotts, Cimone (LegHall); Poore, Nicole (LegHall); Potter, Jr, Charles (LegHall); Price, Pam (LegHall); Puffer, Richard (LegHall); Ramone, Michael (LegHall); Ridout, Ashley (LegHall); Ruberto, Nancy (LegHall); Ryan, Carling (LegHall); Schwartzkopf, Peter (LegHall); Scott, Darryl (LegHall); Seitz, Meredith (LegHall); Shipley, Glenn (LegHall); Short, Bryon (LegHall); Short, Daniel (LegHall); Simpson Gary; Simpson, Gary (LegHall); Smith, Marcia (LegHall); Smith, Melanie G (LegHall); Smyk, Steve (LegHall); Sokola, David (LegHall); Sokola, Megan (LegHall); Spiegelman, Jeff (LegHall); Townsend, Bryan (LegHall); Venables, Robert (LegHall); Viola, John (LegHall); Volturo, Andrew (LegHall); Walker, Rebecca (LegHall); Wallace, Meghan (LegHall); Williams, Dennis E (LegHall); Williams, Jane E (LegHall); Williams, Kimberly (LegHall); Wilson, David L (LegHall); Wilson, Kay (LegHall); Wood, Bonnie (LegHall); Wootten, Sarah (LegHall); Zdeb, Michelle (LegHall)
Cc: May, Alison (K12); Mclaughlin, Mary Kate (K12)
Subject: Embargoed Notice – New State Accountability System

Dear Legislator:

As elected officials, we wanted to give you embargoed notice of several outreach opportunities we will be announcing later today related to a new state accountability system. The Delaware Department of Education will be seeking public input on a new state accountability system through a survey as well as a series of Town Hall meetings. The survey, available here, seeks feedback on what the public would like measured and reported on the state’s public school accountability report card.

In addition to the survey, the Department will host three Town Halls in November to gather public feedback on the state’s new approach to reporting school performance and its submission of a waiver for renewed flexibility from the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Staff from the Department will present the state’s proposed new accountability system and outline the process for renewal of the ESEA flexibility waiver. Time will be devoted to answering questions and seeking public comment on both topics.

The new accountability system will have two parts:

· Part A includes metrics that we know to be critical to measure for public schools, and that align with federal accountability. This includes student proficiency and growth on state tests, college and career readiness benchmarks, chronic absenteeism rates, and on-track to graduate measures.

· Part B will include those measures, as informed by the survey results.

The state recognizes there are additional measures that are critical to Delaware residents.

The survey will be open through December 31, 2014.

The Town Halls are scheduled for:
• 6 to 7:30 p.m., Wednesday November 5 at the Carvel State Office Building at 9th and French streets, Wilmington
• 6 to 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, November 12 at the John Collette Education Resource Center, 35 Commerce Way, Dover
• 6 to 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, November 19 at the Sussex County Council Chamber, 2 The Circle, Georgetown

Please let me know if you have any questions or would like additional information about either of these opportunities. We will be announcing them publicly later today.
Tina Shockley
Education Associate – Policy Advisor
Department of Education
Office: 302-735-4105
Cell: 302-632-2143
Fax: 302-739-4654
SLC: D370B