SCR#38 Requests Advisory Opinion Of Delaware Supreme Court Justice To Find Out If Our Public Education System Is Efficient

This is a concurrent resolution, but an important one.  For years, Delaware has been floundering public education in our state.  Senate Concurrent Resolution #38 would seek the opinion of the highest court in our state to find out if we are even following our own Constitution with what has been going on.  For some reason it was left on the table during consideration in the Senate, which means they will get back to it at another time.  But this is timely and necessary.  Sponsored by Senators Bryan Townsend and David Sokola and State Rep. Sean Matthews.

To read the full text of the legislation, please go to the below document.

 

John King Is Violating Intent Of ESSA By Approving Illegal Flexibility Waivers For Delaware Through 2019

I was wondering why the Delaware Department of Education went to all the trouble of submitting an ESEA flexibility waiver for a dubious standard called the state’s “speaking and listening standards” last March.  ESEA effectively ended on July 31st this year.  Now we know why.  Because it allowed the Delaware DOE to continue the same damaging and disturbing accountability practices for not just this school year, but through the end of the 2018-2019 school year.

This waiver was very odd to begin with.  Yes, there is speaking and listening standards.  It is part of Delaware’s Common Core State Standards.  But to submit an ESEA Flex Waiver for this is ludicrous.  But it doesn’t end there.  The Delaware DOE was not forthright and honest with the process of applying for this waiver.  As part of state code, Delaware is required to have an advisory committee to approve these waivers.  This was the DESS Advisory Committee.  For this waiver, DESS did not meet to approve it.  In fact, as per an email from Susan Haberstroh at the Delaware DOE, the group is not even active at this point.

HaberstrohDESSQuestion

DESS is, however, required under Delaware state code to review the very same things this ESEA flexibility waiver is meant to address:

Title14DESS

Under whose authority did Haberstroh decide DESS did not have to meet to review this flexibility waiver?  This flexibility waiver is illegal in many ways.  There is no state regulation that gives the Delaware School Success Framework any legal enforceability.  Regulation 103, which covers these accountability standards, was not updated last year.  The U.S. DOE has no authority to approve or disapprove Delaware law.  By relying on the United State Dept. of Education to decide on Delaware law, the Delaware DOE is seriously overstepping the will and intent of the Delaware Constitution.

To make things more complicated, U.S. Secretary John King is abusing his authority under the Every Student Succeeds Act by approving any accountability waivers up through 2019.  The Delaware DOE is cherry-picking what they can and can’t do with ESSA, just like John King is.  For John King, when he does this stuff, he gets hauled into congressional hearings.  When the Delaware DOE does this stuff, it gets mentioned on here.  There is no accountability method for the Delaware DOE to answer for their actions.  Someone needs to get the DOE into a public hearing to explain how they can do certain things and not others.  Because the way they interpret the law and the way it must be interpreted are two different things.  Events are progressing rapidly where the Delaware DOE is openly and flagrantly violating state law.  This can not continue and I urge our General Assembly to take immediate and definitive action against our out of control Dept. of Education.

As for U.S. Secretary of Education John King, I have already taken some action on his abuse of power.  I contacted Rep. John Kline (MN) and Senator Lamar Alexander (TN) addressing the abuse of power John King is exhibiting by approving this waiver.  As well, I submitted the following to Senator Alexander:

Good morning Senator Alexander,

I am trying to reach you in regards to the Every Student Succeeds Act. Back in March, the Delaware Department of Education submitted a flexibility waiver under ESEA to the United States Department of Education.  This was for a waiver of “speaking and listening standards” as part of our state assessment.  Our Dept. of Education stated this was a “limited waiver” and bypassed parts of our state law for how these things are approved in our state.  While I recognize you have no authority over Delaware state code, I do know you do have authority in regards to the U.S. Dept. of Education and have the ability to call out John King over abuse of power.

On August 5th, 2016, the Delaware DOE received an approval letter from Anne Whelan, the U.S. Deputy Secretary of Education, action on Secretary King’s behalf, to approve our ESEA flexibility waiver. The letter, which can be found on the Delaware Dept. of Education website under “Accountability”, and then “ESSA”, seems to give the U.S. DOE authority to grant flexibility waivers with the same accountability standards under ESEA up through June 30th, 2019.  As I am interpreting the Every Student Succeeds Act, this type of authority was explicitly stripped from the U.S. Secretary of Education.  But John King is openly and publicly defying this federal mandate by continuing the same damaging practices from No Child Left Behind and Race To The Top.

The letter states:

“After reviewing Delaware’s request, I am pleased to grant, pursuant to my authority under section 8401 (b) of the ESEA, as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), a limited waiver of section 1111 (b)(3)(C)(ii) of the ESEA, as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB), for school year (SY) 2016-2017 and of section 1111 (b)(2)(B)(ii) of the ESEA, as amended by the ESSA, for SYs 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 so that the state’s assessment system, including the Smarter Balanced Assessment for grades 3-8 and the SAT for high school, need not measure the State’s speaking and listening standards at this time.

This waiver is granted to Delaware on the condition that it will implement the following assurances:

It will continue to meet for each year of the waiver all other requirements in the ESEA, as amended by NCLB or the ESSA, as applicable, for State assessment systems and the implementing regulations with respect to the State’s academic content and achievement standards and assessments, including reporting student achievement and school performance, disaggregated by subgroups, to parents and the public.”

In addition, by granting this waiver to Delaware, it would allow Delaware to continue accountability rules that have no regulatory approval in Delaware as required by Delaware state code. Delaware has not passed a final Accountability Framework for our public schools because there is no regulation supporting this updated matrix.  As well, the Delaware School Success Framework punishes schools for participation rates below 95% on state assessments.  While ESSA allows states to decide policies and procedures with regard to a parent’s right to opt their child out of the state assessment, Delaware has not done so in any official capacity.  The U.S. DOE is approving this illegal practice in our state which is against the spirit and intent of ESSA.  No state regulations have been approved or are even in the pipeline for approval, and the U.S. DOE is in violation of the Every Student Succeeds Act.

I implore you, as well as your other Congressional leaders, to hold Secretary King accountable for his very open defiance against the intent of Congress.

Please do not hesitate to reach out to me if you have any questions.

With warm regards,

Kevin Ohlandt

Dover, DE

Below is the letter sent from Anne Whalen to Secretary Godowsky on August 5th:

Delaware Senate Violates Constitution By Passing Budget Without Required Majority 3/4 Vote

On Tuesday, the Delaware Senate passed Senate Bill 285, the FY2017 budget bill, with a vote of 15 yes and 6 no.  The Delaware Constitution requires 3/4 of both the Delaware House of Representatives and the Delaware Senate to vote yes in order for the budget to pass.  The Delaware Senate did not get the necessary 3/4 vote.  It was a little bit over 71%, not 75%.  But they passed it anyways and sent it to the House who did pass it with the required 3/4 vote.  Now it heads to Governor Markell’s desk.  As El Somnambulo pointed out on Delaware Liberal this morning, only the General Assembly can declare this unconstitutional and could send it to the Delaware Supreme Court.  This is the dark side of shady Delaware Politics as El Som pointed out:

The question, of course, was moot when the budgets passed almost unanimously. But that’s not the case this year. I don’t care whether the R’s are doing this just to be pains in the ass. The idea that the General Assembly would willfully pass, and the Governor would sign, a budget that might not meet constitutional standards is, well when you think of it, not surprising. Just depressing and sorta outrageous. And business as usual.

The absolute corruption and fraud in Dover continues.  It isn’t just education folks, it is everything.  This General Assembly has no respect for the Delaware Constitution or those who came before them.  They set up laws to allow illegal activity in our state. Yes, that is an oxymoron, but it is what they do.  And we still keep voting the same people in, year after year.  At least Senator Karen Peterson has the good sense to get the hell out of there before they do something even more stupid.  The same day the Senate illegally passed the budget, WBOC reported a federal judge ruled Delaware’s abandoned property collecting practices violate due process law.  Amounting to revenue for the state to the tune of almost $500 million dollars on an annual basis.  That is about 1/8th of the state budget folks.  How can we, as the citizens of Delaware, allow this to continue?  When will the people rise up and take control?  Are we just as guilty as the politicians that look the other way on illegal activities by electing the lawmakers who violate our Constitution?

September 17 is REFUSE THE TEST PARENT STRIKE in Delaware! Press Conference at 12:30pm!

Parent Strike is a coordinated effort across America to take back public education from the corporate education reformers and those who would do our children irreparable harm with state standardized assessments.  In Delaware, we will be celebrating this momentous day, September 17th, with other states across our country.  I invite all parents and press to attend a press conference outside Legislative Hall in Dover at 12:30pm, where I will announce the violations and complaints against Governor Markell, the Delaware Department of Education, the Delaware State Board of Education, and other entities within Delaware that have contributed to this toxic environment against our children.

If you want to make a statement during the press conference, please let me know ahead of time.  I will also help parents coordinate opt-out/refuse the test for their local schools.

Following this, at 1pm, is the Delaware State Board of Education meeting across the street at the Townshend Building.  I invite every single parent to attend this meeting, at least for the first half hour to forty-five minutes.  After they do their roll call and approval of minutes, it opens up to Public Comment.  Each speaker gets three minutes to speak on a topic.  Those who give public comment are not allowed to speak on an item that is up for action that day, but there is nothing in their agenda covering standardized testing or parent opt-out or Refusing The Test.

During the State Board of Education meeting, they will announce the results of the Smarter Balanced Assessment for the different sub-groups: low-income, English language learners, students with disabilities, African-American students, Hispanic Students and Asian students.  This is where we will see the very real impact of the Smarter Balanced Assessment on the most vulnerable of students.  They could have announced this information last week, but they chose to hold off on it.  Parents will also begin to receive their children’s official report on the test that week.

Please join in and let the unelected State Board of Education know your child is more than endless data.  Let them know your child is more than a pawn in their attempts to “fix” education.  Let them know their vain attempts at stifling parents is not allowed.  Be loud, be a parent, and let them know you will not tolerate this madness one more minute.  This is Parent Strike Delaware!