Kilroy Asked Me What I Think Of Delaware Secretary Of Education Mark Murphy! Well… @KilroysDelaware @ed_in_de @BadassTeachersA @DelawareBats #netde #eduDE

What do I think of Secretary of Education Mark Murphy?  This question of me in a sidebar conversation by the famous Delaware blogger, Kilroy, of Kilroy’s Delaware fame.  This is a pretty loaded question, because I have several opinions.

Personally, I don’t know the man.  Nor would I want to.  We don’t travel in the same circles, and for better or worse (go with the latter), he is the executive director of my son’s education in Delaware.  With that being said…

He is extremely incompetent.  I’ve been to a few Delaware Board of Education meetings, and when he talks, I want to laugh.  For the most part, he plays up the parts of education that I abhor the most.  Charter Schools, Common Core and the Smarter Balanced Assessment are his babies, and when he talks about them, it’s like watching a kid play on Xbox for the first time.  The glee, the sickening joy in his eyes, the elfish smile on his face…

I have seen him get upset once at a Board of Ed meeting.  That was the last one, when the results of the Delaware teacher effectiveness ratings came out.  And no Delaware teachers were rated ineffective.  0%!  Man, did that piss off Murphy!  He looked like someone took away that Xbox!  He was visibly angry, and it was obvious he was going to have none of that!

I view his climb to the top of education in our state with shock and no awe.  Everyone continues this sentence with “He started out as a gym teacher.”  And that isn’t true.  Before that, he worked at a residential treatment center.  I have no idea which one, or what he did there.  These treatment centers are where students with disabilities get sent when the school and the home have run out of options.  I would think Murphy would have a pretty good understanding of what these students need if he decided to work at one.  I couldn’t be more wrong.

What has become of special education under Murphy’s watch is a nightmare of epic proportions.  What he has done to education in general is even worse.  He is Governor Jack Markell’s golden boy to implement whatever Jack wants.  And as a result, Murphy has become a charter loving Common Core high-stakes test worshipping special education hating maniac.  But when the going gets tough, like yesterday at the big meeting between the DOE and the superintendents of the low-income priority schools, Murphy was nowhere to be found.  He’s the Secretary of friggin’ Education for the state and he was a no-show!  What could be more important than this meeting?  As I commented on Kavips blog, maybe he got confused between priority and priory schools!  When I see him at Board meetings, he rarely speaks.  He’s constantly looking at what appears to be a cell phone and adjusting his glasses.  It looks like the last place he wants to be.

Under Murphy’s watch, we have seen Common Core suck the life out of teachers, students and parents.  We’ve seen special education go from something halfway between okay and sucks to really sucks. We’ve seen charter school applications increase rapidly.  We’ve seen half of Delaware’s race to the top money get kept by the Delaware DOE.  We’ve seen the first sign of the Apocalypse, the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  We’ve seen him hire 29 year olds to become the new Chief Of Accountability for the DOE.  We’ve seen a non-elected state Board of Education do nothing that would contradict Murphy or Jack.  We’ve seen him support the destruction of the public school system by getting jacked-up legislation passed that will judge teachers on how a student tests one time a year on The Clockwork Orange Smarter Balanced Test.  We’ve seen him not give appropriate funding to schools who need it the most and then support the utter insanity of having the state take those schools back to turn them into charter schools.  We’ve seen him support breaking up teacher’s unions by coming out with a Memorandum Of Understanding to two school districts that appears to be plagiarized from other states’ similar edicts (Thanks for that one JY!).  We’ve seen tens of millions of dollars go out of state to residential treatment centers because Murphy can’t run the ball on special education right and God knows what else he has cooking with that!  We’ve seen him bow to the “masters of education” in Rodel and the Vision year crap, which are just more fronts for the Common Core agenda.

So do I have a high opinion of the guy?  Hell no!  If I could sum it up in a few sentences, it would be this.  You have only one pair of shoes.  You step in gum.  The gum won’t get off your shoe no matter how hard you try.  It annoys the hell out of you, and it affects you every time you put your damn shoes on.  And you can’t buy new shoes, so you are stuck with this crap on your shoes, all the time.  Mark Murphy is the gum on my shoe that just won’t go away.  And he has played this role for every public school student, teacher and parent.

Bored With The Board of Ed! Welcome to Delaware Penny Schwinn! Please Read Up On Our State! #netde #eduDE #edchat @BadassTeachersA @KilroysDelaware @ed_in_DE

The Delaware Board of Education meeting yesterday was full of controversy and shock.

I attended about an hour and a half of the Delaware Board of Education meeting yesterday. When I arrived, a gentleman from the American Heart Association was thanking the Board for their support. I sat next to a familiar face who was cutting out items for his classroom with a pair of scissors. I introduced myself to Mike Matthews who I had been in contact with on social media recently. I asked if he was giving public comment, and he said I just missed it but to definitely listen to the digital audio recording when it is available. Throughout the meeting, Matthews and I had continuous looks of shock and awe with the comments coming from not only the Board, but members of the Office of Accountability and Performance.

Secretary of Education Mark Murphy seemed very upset about the recent report on how 0% of teachers in Delaware were not ineffective. He didn’t seem to think this was the reality in Delaware. But we all know this will change in a year when the Smarter Balanced Scores come out, which the state has already said they are aware student scores will plummet, and teacher evaluations will be based on these scores.

The Board went through their motions, and we arrived at the Performance and Accountability Presentation. Penny Schwinn is the new Chief Officer of Accountability and Performance for the Delaware DOE. After Assessment Director Brian Touchette gave his reasons for why there are gaps in performance testing between different subgroups, and why charters weren’t included in the Performance and Accountability Presentation (because they have their own performance framework arrangement with the state of Delaware), Schwinn gave a rather enlightening and distorted presentation of African-American students and students with disabilities.

For children with disabilities, she claimed the reasons for the performance gaps in DCAS scores was attributable to the following factors: Litigation at a district level distracted teachers from being able to give adequate special education accommodations, high teacher turn-over and a limited hiring pool in Delaware for quality special education teachers compared to other states. She did say there is a new strategy of looking at IEPs in Delaware, and that is to target the performance of students with disabilities. Which is, as we all know, the coming standards-based IEPs in Delaware. She did recognize that dual credentials for special education teachers provide “expertise and knowledge” in the classroom. What she failed to mention, in Delaware and across America, many special education teachers are leaving the profession due to upcoming teacher evaluations which will be based on student test scores. Many special ed teachers fear losing their jobs, so they are leaving the profession. Who will replace all these teachers with this expertise and knowledge when they are driven out or quit?

Schwinn expressed her interest in Student-Based Plans, which are IEPs, but for regular students. This is one of the goals of Rodel’s Vision 2025, to do away with special education and all students get their own version of IEPs. This just supports my fear and theories of the future of special education. See https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2014/07/28/special-education-in-america-where-is-it-going-spread-this-link-all-over-reblog-netde-edude-delaware-usedgov/

Schwinn went on to talk about African-American student performance in Delaware. She said they expect high performance from all students, and this is driven through PLCs and site leadership. PLC is Professional Learning Community, which emphasizes shared leadership, community-based work groups, and learning over teaching. Schwinn wants to create strategies to prevent downward trends among African-American students in Delaware. She said there is a low expectation for African-American students from teachers “across the board”. At this point, Board of Ed Member Gregory Coverdale asked Schwinn if she felt the rising violence and murders in Wilmington was causing an impact in classroom environment in that area, to which she responded “That isn’t necessarily a hurdle to overcome”. For the three African-American members of the Board of Education, the looks on their faces said it all immediately after her response.

Dr. Teri Quinn Gray, the President of the Board of Education, said the following based on an article from WDDE today: “From those of us who are in under-represented groups, we deal with this often,” said Gray, who is African-American. “I’m not quite sure what to say about low expectations and cultural mindset,” she said. “How do you address that? A shift of culture takes 20 years, as they say, at least 10.” – See more at: http://www.wdde.org/66555-state-education-officials-seek-reasons-lack-progress-narrowing-achievement-gap#sthash.ii0NJYD3.dpuf

It is obvious Schwinn, who has been in her role for two months after leaving Sacramento, CA, needs to do a bit more research on Delaware. To think the issues of crime in Wilmington won’t have an impact on the classroom is foolish and naïve. To insult issues of poverty, crime and discrimination shows an apparent lack of the true reality in Wilmington. This is definitely a hurdle to overcome Penny Schwinn, and to continue to ignore this reality will only make the problem worse. As the Chief Of Accountability and Performance in Delaware, you need to look at ALL aspects of environment and how they impact the classroom.

For students with disabilities, Schwinn needs to recognize why special education teachers are leaving the profession, and that is mainly due to forced compliance with Common Core standards being shoved down their throats. Children are more than test scores, and the sooner the DOE realizes that, the better education and special education in Delaware will be. Litigation is rising in Delaware because of this education reform, not in spite of it.

The fact that charter schools in Delaware were not included in this presentation speaks volumes. To not include them ignores the impact charter schools have had on students with disabilities and minorities in Delaware, especially in the Wilmington area. Certain charter schools in our state have specific enrollment requirements that discriminates against low-income minorities and special needs children. The easy excuse for this by ignorant people is that children with disabilities are “low performers”. I think the Exceptional Children Group in the DOE is on the right track in correcting this position, but they need to realign their priorities in how to go about this.

But I can see how you would come to those conclusions based on your resume: http://transparentchristina.wordpress.com/2014/08/01/meet-the-new-chief-accountability-and-performance-officer-for-the-delaware-doe-more-choice-accountability-and-tfa-straight-up-gap-closing-bullshit/

And yet, your one tweet twitter account from 2010 tells a completely different story: “@EnchantmentAZ As a teacher, role model and advocate for kids from low income communities, my mom inspired me to teach and be a foster mom.”

You are not currently advocating for these children. You may want to recheck your roots and be a part of the solution, not the problem.

Uh-Oh, Common Core for Special Education. What are Standards-Based IEPs? And which are the Pilot Districts?

That June 14th Annual IDEA Presentation from the Exceptional Children Group of the Delaware DOE to the Delaware Board of Education sure provided a wealth of knowledge. One of the things that was mentioned was standards-based IEPs. From my transcript in an earlier article, this was where Sarah Celestin spoke of this new form of IEP:

“The first standards based IEPs: This is a new initiative that really has just started since January. We’ve been doing some development work since last summer but the training kicked off in late January and early February. The reason we are moving towards standards based IEPs in Delaware is in our compliance monitoring of IEPs we saw that sometimes the rigor, there was a lot of remedial kind of goals and there wasn’t as much focus on how is a student gonna access grade level instruction. And you remember you need an accommodation, you need an accommodation of remediation and access goals and also goals that are gonna help the student really work on grade level skills. And so through standards based IEPs were really addressing that and we’re very fortunate to have instructional coaches that have a strong understanding of the Common Core and that also really understand IEP development and are able to help the teachers. So similar to what Tracy described to you, we have coaches that do not only the training, but go out and do individual and small group coaching with teachers. Right now we’re working with four school districts on that. The plan is that over the next two school years to go to state to scale up state wide with charters and districts.”

In a nutshell, this is adding common core to IEPs. You know, those INDIVIDUALIZED education plans special needs children get. The Delaware DOE found a way, without any focus groups or parental input, to literally CHANGE how an IEP is written. Is it legal? I don’t know, but I will find out.

According to Mary Ann Mieczkowski, the four pilot districts for standards-based IEPs are Woodbridge, Red Clay, Colonial and Brandywine. Once again, no charter schools were chosen for this world-changing special education initiative? I wonder why that is? Maybe because with the exception of Gateway and Positive Outcomes, most of them don’t know how to write the old IEP, much less a new one! And some don’t even know how to GIVE an IEP.

I would love to talk to ANY parent from any of the four districts above to know how their child’s IEP was created with these new common core standards implemented into a federal document. IEP Task Force…you can’t come soon enough!