Did My Predictions Come True For The 16 To Watch In 2016?

In December of 2015, I posted 16 articles about who would make an impact on 2016.  Did they truly have an impact and did they fizzle out?  Many of them did have a huge impact, some fizzled out, and some didn’t do as much as I thought they might.  You be the judge!

State Rep. David Bentz: Bentz had a relatively low-key rookie year in the Delaware House.  He did get a bill passed and signed that bans the sale of Dextromethorphan to those under the age of 18.  He did sit on many committees including Health & Human Services and Education.  I expect Bentz will begin to rise in 2017 after running unopposed for his seat earlier this month.  He did vote in support of the suspension of rules on the override of the House Bill 50 veto which won him some fast points in my book.

Henry Clampitt: Clampitt became very quiet about halfway through the year.  He did help out the Delaware Charter Schools Network with some key legislation surrounding charter school audits.  Over the summer he joined the board of Gateway Lab School.  I am still predicting he will make a run for Red Clay’s board next year!  Clampitt curtailed some of his online activity as well this year.  Clampitt can usually be found at the occasional Red Clay board meeting cavorting with some of his friends.

Dr. Robert Andrzejewski: The Acting Superintendent of Christina had a huge year!  And not all of it was good.  He did help the cash-poor district in winning their referendum but that only introduced other problems.  The fifteen charter schools that feed off of Christina students complained they weren’t getting enough money from Christina.  After it became public and legislators were swarmed with complaints from parents and citizens, Secretary of Education Dr. Steven Godowsky backed off the changes that would have given more to the charters.  In October, the charters filed a lawsuit against Christina and the Delaware DOE.  Now news comes of a possible settlement.  Bob A also had to contend with mold issues at Pulaski Elementary School and soon reports came in of other schools having mold issues as well.  He set up an “Academy” at Christiana High School with very poor communication and transparency which led to all sorts of controversy.  Bob A also introduced many “cash in the trash” contracts for vendors which the Christina board approved nearly every single time.  Rumors continue to swirl about the potential of Bob A getting the Secretary of Education role under John Carney.  It could happen which would make a lot of Bob A’s activities make an odd sort of sense.  Fattening up his resume or being Bob A?  Time will tell.

Delaware Governor Jack Markell: Jack always makes an impact.  Whenever I see that smiling face, I know he is up to something.  He successfully influenced enough Delaware House reps to vote no on a suspension of rules to override his veto of House Bill 50.  But then many of those same legislators voted yes on a suspension of rules for a corporate tax bill.  This rightfully earned Markell the wrath of many parents in Delaware.  In fact, many of us beat the hell out of him over opt out on his own Facebook page before the vote.  Instead of going up to Howard High School and dealing with the death of Amy Joyner Francis, Markell issued a brief statement and merrily went on his Common Core tour at Delaware schools.  He pimped the Delaware Pathways to Prosperity program every single chance he could.  He spoke at a conference on Blockchain technology and announced Delaware would get legislation going so Blockchain firms could incorporate in Delaware.  He created the Governor’s ESSA Advisory Committee while issuing another executive order to create a Pathways Steering Committee that had its first meeting with no public notice.  The “Education” Governor won some fancy-schmancy award from the National Association of State Boards of Education.  Despite rumors, Markell firmly stated he was never a consideration for a Cabinet post in a Hillary Clinton administration (easy to say after the shocking upset when Donald Trump won the presidency).  He continued to appear at press conferences and letters to the editor promoting corporate education reform which pretty much landed with a resounding thud in the minds of Delawareans.  As Jack enters his final days as Delaware Governor, I don’t think history will be very kind to his legacy of putting corporations over people.  But I will ask one boon of Jack Markell before he leaves his post: a chance to meet with him, do an interview, and get his side of the story on Delaware education.  What do you say Jack?  One for the road?

Delaware Governor John Carney: Unless you’ve been living in a hole the past few weeks, John Carney won the Governor’s seat by a landslide.  Everyone is waiting with bated breath to see who Carney picks for his administration.  He has been very quiet (as he was during the election) about what he is going to do.  He came out with platforms on various subjects, but they were somewhat vague.  As of today, he has only announced two members of his administration.  This blogger has reached out to Carney many times with zero success, as recently as yesterday.  I don’t want Carney and I to be at odds with each other.  We will assuredly disagree on many things, but if he isn’t willing to sit down with me then I fear this will be the case.  In education, Carney will have his hands full between whomever he picks for his next Secretary, education funding, ESSA implementation, and a budget deficit which will force the state to begin cutting items from the state budget.  I expect Carney will be more low-key on many issues facing Delaware, but he should not be underestimated at all.

Delaware Senator David McBride: McBride was relatively low-key this year, but he did become the President Pro Tempore of the Delaware Senate when Senator Patti Blevins suffered a shocking loss earlier this month to Anthony Delcollo.  But this title will not have as much importance since Delaware has a Lieutenant Governor again in the form of Bethany Hall-Long who will preside over the Delaware Senate.

Tony Allen: Allen was all over the place in 2016.  State Board of Education meetings, ESSA Advisory Committees, Legislative Hall, and forums kept the Bank of America executive very busy.  Allen stood his ground with the Delaware State Board of Education when they kept trying to change the redistricting language.  When the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission’s redistricting bill failed to pass the Delaware General Assembly, Allen did save the plan by extending the timeline.  It remains to be seen what Carney will do with the plan, especially given that deficit I told you about.  Allen is serving on the transition team for Governor Carney.  Earlier this month, Allen predicted another segregation lawsuit against the state based on Delaware schools, especially those in Wilmington.  Allen did admit one of WEIC’s weaknesses was not including Kent and Sussex County representatives on the plan.

Ashley Sabo: The Red Clay mom of a special needs child had a very busy year.  While she continued to fight for inclusion in Red Clay, she also held the district accountable for the lack of communication surrounding the plan.  Sabo also adopted a foster child and became a Court Appointed Special Advocate as well as becoming the Executive Director of the Mid-Atlantic Orphan Care Coalition.  I am very optimistic about Sabo’s future in Delaware and I see her as a rising young star who will become a very important voice for not only students with disabilities and foster children, but all citizens of The First State.

The Delaware Bloggers: It was an interesting year.  Three longtime Delaware bloggers closed up shop this year: Transparent Christina, Kavips, and the Delaware Grapevine.  The first two dealt with many education issues.  For Transparent Christina, the beginning of the end came when the author of that blog discovered Facebook and all the fun he could have on there.  Kavips ended his blog earlier this month capping off a ten-year run of what he viewed as “The Progressive Era” of Delaware politics.  I suspect we haven’t heard the last of the enigmatic one and he will pop up somewhere once he/she gets his/her groove back once Donald Trump is inaugurated.  Kilroy’s Delaware slowed down this year but that had more to do with fixing up his house at the beach than a lack of interest.  Delaware Liberal provided a healthy dose of election news and dealt with the epic defeat of Hillary Clinton and bemoaned to rise of Donald Trump.  A new blog by ex-Delaware DOE employee Atnre Alleyne called The Urgency of Now stirred up tons of controversy this year as teachers were blasted constantly on his blog.  Another longtime blog, The Colossus of Rhodey, also ended.  As for this blogger, now almost halfway through his third year, who knows what the future will bring.  One sure thing is that change is inevitable but things stay the same in too many of the wrong places.

The Parents of Delaware Students: The parents of Delaware received a fatal blow when the Delaware House refused to suspend the rules to allow for an override of Markell’s House Bill 50 veto.  The Delaware PTA received a hush order on opt-out from their National headquarters.  Parents still opted their kids out, but it was comparable to 2015.  The Delaware DOE has attempted to corral parents into their Every Student Succeeds Act Community Conversations, but I really hoped more parents would attend to lend their voices in opposition to the DOE’s crazy plans.  Many parents attended referenda this year as Christina, Brandywine, and Cape Henlopen referendums passed.  Not enough Indian River parents supported their referendum when it failed to pass last week.  By and large, Delaware parents continue to get the shaft in education policy.  I predict the voice of parents will rise in 2017 to unheard of levels.  With national and state politics the way they are now, many parents will be pitched against each other with various events.  One appointment of U.S. Secretary of Education for Betsy DeVos has already renewed a lot of debate about school choice, charter schools, and school vouchers.  These arguments will heat up in 2017.  Many parents of students with disabilities (as well as advocates) successfully thwarted an attempt at a very bad special education strategic plan at the Delaware DOE.  Parents of special needs children are quickly learning that banding together in unison across various groups is more important than debating their differences.  So much so that a two-day planning session for a new special education strategic plan will take place on December 8th and 9th.

Karen Field Rogers: While the first half of the year started very slow for the promotion of Field Rogers as the new Delaware Deputy Secretary of Education, she certainly made her mark in the second half as the Delaware DOE spokesperson at many ESSA meetings.  The jury is still out on what Delaware’s ESSA plan will be.  I can picture her still working at the Townsend Building under Governor John Carney.  She is not really a subject of controversy down there.

Delaware Senator Colin Bonini: Bonini lost his bid for Delaware Governor as many predicted.  But he did not do himself any favors by publicly announcing he would lose and continuing to call Carney his friend.  Even if you think you are going to lose, you don’t make a spectacle of it.  But he did answer a very long survey I gave all the candidates for Governor.  Only Carney failed to respond to the survey, and I unintentionally left out Green Party candidate Andrew Groff.  Bonini will still be in the Delaware Senate doing his thing, unless he gets a new job in the Carney administration.  Whatever happened with Bonini’s recommendation for a Civil Rights Committee in the Delaware Senate?

Harrie Ellen Minnehan: She started the year as the Christina Board of Education President, but lost her gavel over the summer to the re-elected Elizabeth Paige.  Minnehan overtly supported Paige’s opponent in the spring school board election.  When board member David Resler announced he would not run again, Meg Mason won the election.  Mason voted for Paige’s appointment as board president.  The Christina board seems to still be at odds over many things but they will have to get it together soon for the sake of the district.  I miss the fiery board that stood in unison against the Priority Schools debacle in the fall of 2015.  Nothing against Minnehan, but the board lost a bit of that during her Presidency.  Paige brings that temperament back to the board and they (along with every other board in the state) need to start speaking up now to fight for what is theirs.  I must say, my favorite “HEM” moment in 2016 was when Minnehan blasted State Board of Education President Dr. Teri Quinn Gray during a WEIC meeting in Wilmington.  I have no doubt her words were bubbling under the surface for a long time, going back to her days as the President of the Pencader charter school board.

The Delaware Met Kids: After causing a lot of concern in the fall of 2015, the students at Delaware Met said goodbye to the not even five-month old charter school in mid-January.  The students went to various school districts and charter schools.  But not until they caused enough chaos at the school to get an extra couple of days off.

The Seans: Sean Lynn gave a very stirring speech when the death penalty repeal bill hit the floor of the Delaware House.  Ultimately, the House voted against the repeal, but federal rulings rendered the point moot for Delaware executions.  Lynn was instrumental in crafting legislation for the WEIC redistricting bills, but the controversial redistricting effort did not pass the General Assembly.  He did get several bills through dealing with courts and animal fighting.  After a landmark first year in the House where six bills became law, Sean Matthews did not have any legislation signed by Governor Markell this year.  But this didn’t stop Matthews from using his voice in support or opposition to many bills.  Both Sean Lynn and Sean Matthews won their seats back for a 2nd term in the General Election after facing opposition.  This will give them more of an entrenched status in the House.  Both had a relatively quiet year, but I expect they will be re-energized and ready to go in January!

Braeden Mannering: The kid who melted Delaware hearts the past few years continued his 3B: Brae’s Brown Bags movement with growing success.  In January, Braeden was invited to and attended President Obama’s State of the Union address.  Later in the year, he was one of the speakers at a TedX conference in Wilmington.  Braeden’s future is bright!

I will be doing this for 2017 beginning in December with those I think will make an impact in 2017.  Some will be names seen on this list but others will be new faces.

 

ESSA: Parents & Educators MUST Attend The Upcoming Meetings & Educate Themselves On The Law!

The Delaware Dept. of Education will have three more Every Student Succeeds Act Community Engagement meetings in the next week.  They held a meeting in Georgetown on Tuesday.  The next three meetings will take place in Wilmington, Middletown, and Dover.  The DOE is “requiring” participants to register through a company called Event Brite.  Links to register can be found here.

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I will stress with all the urgency I can muster that ALL public education parents attend these meetings.  Before you go, I would familiarize yourself with the federal law.  You can read the full text of the law here.  It is a very long law with a lot of repeated jargon and “legalese” in it.  The Delaware State Board of Education and Delaware DOE has put up many links to it on their websites, but a lot of that is open to interpretation.  As well, U.S. Secretary of Education John King has issued “proposed rulemaking” which are potential regulations.  These regulations are VERY controversial.  You can read those regulations here and here.

These are my major concerns with ESSA:

By allowing states to have more flexibility, many states have already created long-term plans based on the prior federal mandates.  Far too many in our state DOEs follow what the corporate education reformers want and give a false illusion of “stakeholder input”.

The Delaware DOE has given NO indication whatsoever that they will even consider changing the state standards away from Common Core even though they can certainly do this according to ESSA.  The US Secretary of Education isn’t required to approve these standards.  The states merely have to give an assurance that their standards will follow the law.

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Student data still isn’t protected to parents satisfaction.  To stop this data from going out, they need to restore the Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act (FERPA) to pre-2011 levels

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Bouncing off the previous statement, by allowing more social service and health-based practitioners into our schools, there is a serious question regarding what applies to FERPA and what applies to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

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John King’s regulations would keep the 95% participation rates for state assessments with consequences for schools and districts.

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John King’s Title I regulations would enact a “supplement not supplant” these funds.  This is in sharp contrast with federal law and he was called out on this the other day by the US House Education and Workforce Committee.

There is far too much talk of competency-based education through computer adaptive assessments.  That is just lingo for personalized learning.  This law would allow for classrooms to become online all the time.  There are severe dangers with this in regards to the downgrading of the teacher profession, far too much screen time for students, and the quality of the educational material.  As well as severe data privacy concerns.  In fact, there are incentives for schools to adopt personalized learning.

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While the law forbids the US DOE from forcing or coercing states to implement any state standards, like Common Core, many states already have these in place and spent years embedding them into every facet of public education.

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The law calls for state accountability “report cards”, based on performance of the state assessment, but the tests are not required to be exactly the same for all students.  So the state assessments are not a true measurement since they will be different for each test-taker.  Delaware set up their report card last year under the name of the “Delaware School Success Framework” but they inserted a very punitive participation rate penalty if a school dips below the 95% participation rate which can’t use parent opt-out in those calculations according to the law.

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State assessments will not be required to have questions at the appropriate grade level for students.

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ESSA requires any plan to be submitted to the State DOE, State Board of Education, the Governor and the state legislature.  To date, the Delaware DOE has not had “meaningful” consultation with the Delaware General Assembly about ESSA.

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The law specifically states that all choice schools should have priority given to the lowest-achieving students, but Delaware allows for charter schools to have enrollment preferences that allow for higher-achieving students to have distinct advantages, especially in our magnet schools and charter schools like Charter School of Wilmington.

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I have many other concerns with ESSA, but these ones stand out for me.  I am coming at this from the perspective of a parent.  I know educators have concerns over some of this as well.

Epic Fail of the Week: Afterschool Task Force Holds First Meeting In The Morning

For a task force created to discuss issues surrounding the Statewide Afterschool Initiative Learning, it would stand to reason that many students would participate in an afterschool program because their parents are working.  Logic would dictate that if you were going to have public meetings about such an initiative, they would be held in the evening when working parents could attend.  But not with this task force!  They had their first meeting this morning at 9am.  Today was also the second day of school for most Delaware students.

And who is on this task force?  Obviously not too many working parents who should be the primary stakeholders on a group like this.  Or was that intentional?

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Jack Polidori is with the National Education Association, Jim Kelly is with YMCA, Michelle Taylor is with United Way, Richard Heffron is with the Delaware Chamber of Commerce, John Fisher-Klein is from the Newark Day Nursery & Children’s Center, Sheila Bravo is from the Delaware Alliance for Non-Profit Advancement, and Carol Scott is with the University of Delaware.  And we have Rep. Valerie Longhurst and Senator Nicole Poore.  And regular parents?  Nope, not on this task force.  Shut out again!

This was their agenda:

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Governor Markell Gives Two Big Middle Fingers To Legislators With Latest Executive Order

Delaware Governor Jack Markell sure was a busy guy yesterday.  In the morning he was pimping the Rodelian Teacher Leader Project.   But then he decided to defy the Delaware Senate and signed Executive Order #61.  What did Jack do this time?

A couple of months ago, Markell’s Chief Ass-Kisser, Delaware Senator David Sokola, tried to get a bill going that would create a permanent steering committee for the Pathways to Prosperity program in Delaware schools.  The bill made it out of committee, but never made it to the Senate floor in June.  From what I hear, it wouldn’t have passed.  It was not considered a priority and legislators weren’t fully sold on this idea.

So what does Jack do?  He goes and says “screw you Delaware Senate.  If you won’t do my bidding, I’ll just make it happen!”  He did that yesterday with Executive Order #61.  But not only did he give two very big screw yous to the Delaware Senate, but also disability advocates and Delaware parents (again).  Because even though Senate Bill 277 didn’t make it to the Senate floor, an amendment was added which would have had two other members on this steering committee:

This amendment adds two members to the Pathways steering committee, one member from a non-profit organization that advocates on behalf of persons with disabilities and one member of the public who is a parent of a Delaware public school student.

I was at the Senate Education Committee meeting when this bill was discussed.  I was the one who questioned why there were no parents on this steering committee.  Sokola pretended it was a mistake parents weren’t on the steering committee with his obviously fake “Oh my gosh” face.  As well, the Chair of the Governor’s Advisory Council for Exceptional Citizens noted there was no one representing students with disabilities on it.  Thus, the amendment.

Look at the test of Jack’s “I can out-trump Trump” Executive Order and then compare it to the original language in Senate Bill 277:

Text of Executive Order 61

TO: HEADS OF ALL STATE DEPARTMENTS AND AGENCIES

RE: ESTABLISHING A DELAWARE PATHWAYS STEERING COMMITTEE

WHEREAS, in 2015, Governor Markell established the Delaware Promise, a commitment that the state will combine education and workforce efforts to provide opportunities for our students as they prepare to enter and advance in a career;

WHEREAS, Governor Markell’s administration has established “Delaware Pathways”, a collaborative workforce development partnership which will create a fluid relationship between our public education system, post-secondary education, non-profit, and employer communities to ensure that the pathway to college and a well-paying job is accessible for every Delawarean, and to help the state fulfill the “Delaware Promise” of ensuring that 65% of our workforce earns a college degree or professional certificate by 2025, and that all of our students graduate high school;

WHEREAS, a Steering Committee is necessary to ensure that the program’s long term sustainability and adaptation proceeds in a manner that aligns its offerings to the needs of the workforce and to the students and parents who participate, along with ensuring that the budgetary priorities of the program are identified and outlined in a transparent and collaborative manner;

WHEREAS, we must work to continue to expand access to these programs in order to provide Delaware students with the opportunity to earn an industry-recognized credential, early college credit, and relevant work experience in high-demand fields in our state and regional economies.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, JACK A. MARKELL, by virtue of the authority vested in me as Governor of the State of Delaware, do hereby declare and order the following:

1. The Delaware Pathways Steering Committee (“Steering Committee”) is hereby established to set the strategic direction of the Delaware Pathways work and provide recommendations for future development and growth of the program, and ensure that program offerings are properly aligned with current and expected employer demand.

2. The Steering Committee shall consist of 14 members as follows:
a. The Secretary of the Department of Education.
b. The Secretary of the Department of Labor.
c. The Secretary of the Department of Health and Social Services.
d. The Director of Economic Development Office.
e. Chair of the Delaware Workforce Development Board.
f. The President of the Delaware State Board of Education.
g. The President of Delaware Technical Community College.
h. One superintendent of a public school district appointed by the Governor.
i. One superintendent of a vocational technical school district appointed by the Governor.
j. Two business representatives appointed by the Governor.
k. Three members of community or non-profit organizations appointed by the Governor.

3. Members serving by virtue of position may appoint, in writing and in advance of a particular scheduled meeting or on a permanent basis, a designee to serve in their stead and at their pleasure. Members appointed by the Governor shall serve at the pleasure of the Governor.

4. The Steering Committee shall, at least annually, and no later than January 15th of each calendar year perform at least the following:
a. Advise the Governor on the priorities, policy issues, and specific plans for the ongoing implementation of Delaware Pathways.
b. Review the policies of existing statewide programs and funding streams to make recommendations and take actions that align education, higher education, and workforce development programs in the state.
c. Provide guidance and leadership to agency staff involved in implementing this work for the development, expansion, and improvement of Delaware Pathways.
d. Set and track annual goals for Delaware Pathways.
e. Assist in convening stakeholders and increasing participation in Delaware Pathways programs throughout the state.

5. The Governor shall designate from the members one Chairperson of the Steering Committee. The chairperson will be appointed biennially.

6. Members appointed to the Steering Committee shall serve renewable terms of 2 years, except in the case of public employees who are not school district superintendents and who are continuing in the same designated position, and in the case of initial appointment terms, which shall be either one or two years.

7. The initial appointment terms of non-public employees and school district superintendents shall be either one or two years, such that three of the appointed non-public or school district superintendents shall serve a one year term, and the other four shall serve a two year term. The terms of each individual appointment shall be at the discretion of the Governor, but after the initial term is served the position shall be for a renewable term of 2 years.

8. The Steering Committee shall meet at the call of the Chairperson, but not less than semiannually.

9. Any vacancy occurring in the appointed membership must be filled in the same manner as the original appointment.

10. Administrative support shall be provided by the Department of Education.

11. Nothing in this Order is to be construed to create a private right of action to enforce its terms.

This Executive Order shall take effect immediately.

Now, if I were a betting man, Markell is doing a few things here.  One, he is laughing at the Delaware Senate.  Two, he is setting things up for John Carney who is a big Pathways cheerleader.  Three, he is fulfilling his Rodel promise (as well as whatever promise Rodel made to the Lumina Foundation).  Four, he is padding up his own resume for his post-Governor job.  And Five, he is fulfilling the “Dear Hillary” letter by setting Delaware up as a pilot state for the Pathways portion of this agenda.  I underestimated Markell.  I really thought he would start to quiet down in his final days.  He is busier than ever.  He is also a backstabbing and conniving jackass.

As for you Mr. John “I don’t respond to you little blogger” Carney, I have a feeling I’m going to have to start looking into you.  A lot.  I don’t think you are who you appear to be…  You are running out of time to prove me wrong…  It’s going to be a loooooooooong four years if this continues…

Good News

Yesterday, Senator David Sokola laid his righteous judgment on Delaware blogs by stating we don’t talk about the good things happening in education.  While I gave public comment at the meeting when he said this, indicating that was the DOE’s job and I will do my thing, maybe he is right.  So here is some good news!

Senator David Sokola has a very worthy opponent for his Senate seat in the upcoming election and he is scared.  Real scared.

Delaware has great teachers that no test can ever measure.

The students of Delaware are awesome and they are not failures.

The parents of Delaware are watching the General Assembly like never before and are calling them out on their antics.

Governor Markell will be gone after January.

Pete Schwartzkopf and Valerie Longhurst pissed off a ton of parents, teachers, citizens, and even fellow legislators last night.  How is this good news?  It was live and recorded.

Charter schools will have to record their board meetings in a few months and post them on their website.

Everybody now knows the Smarter Balanced Assessment is the worst test Delaware ever made.

Meredith Chapman is running for the 8th Senate District seat.

Precious Little still makes me laugh… a lot.

John King gets grilled by the US House Education and the Workforce Committee on a monthly basis.

God gave me the good fortune to be present at certain times and places to witness and record what happens in Delaware education.

Winter is coming.

Governor Markell Takes It To Facebook And Receives The Beat Down Of His Life!

Has Jack Markell ever lost anything?  Any of his races for elected official?  Cause this is a guy who is so drunk with power he doesn’t realize when he is beat.  He cannot admit he is wrong on the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  He is holding on for dear life to his failed ideology like it is his lifeline.  I don’t get it.  As I said on his Facebook post (see below), he has done far more for the opt-out movement than anything I ever could.  By writing what he did today, he is causing even more people to unite against him.  Sure, 48 people liked his post.  Among them, the Delaware Department of Education, members of his staff, Donna Johnson and some people I’ve never heard of before in my life.  But the comments… I love it!

To see the action, cause I’m sure by the time I post this there will be more comments to read, please go to Jack Markell’s Facebook page.  I would like to say one thing to our “education” Governor.  Spell-check should point out spelling errors on most social media.  I’m really not sure what “musn’t” is, but I know I mustn’t bust you too much on it…

We musn’t undermine such an important tool for understanding whether our children are learning and our schools are improving.

Schools could damage an important measure of accountability.
  1. Gov. Markell’s education agenda has failed. And he’s flailing about to hold on to anything to keep his precious standardized tests. It would be an important tool IF our governor used the results of the past six years to ACTUALLY support needy schools. He hasn’t. Read here for more. And please share the article: http://www.delawareonline.com/…/opt-out-veto…/78362468/
  2.  I agree with Kim Williams State Representative, 19th District ” If the assessment gave meaningful data to a teacher immediately on individual students, I would agree. My question to the writers, how is this a useful tool if the test comes seven months later, after the student has been promoted to the next grade? What are we learning from this needed data? Is the state developing educational programs from this needed data or are we just going to continue to label schools with this needed data? Are we going to continue to tell communities that your school is failing with this needed data? Are we going to tell these communities that we are going to continue to collect the needed data for another 20 years ignoring what we already know that we do not properly fund what the needed data has been telling us for years -that there is no funding for ELL students, we do not fund Basic Special Education Kindergarten through 3rd grade, and that we have been ignoring poverty since the needed data has been collected? So why would anyone continue to support this state assessment when the needed data has been screaming at us for years what our state needs?”
  3. with all due respect, SBAC does not give parents valid information about their children. It’s not a true growth model, it does not inform instruction ( results are received after the student moves to the next grade), it’s a test designed to trick students rather than encourage them to think outside the box,this bill is about parental rights. The people spoke! The democratic process happened . You did not support that which saddens me. I know you believe you did the right thing but you didn’t! Please reconsider! Give parents back their choices and their voices!
  4. Jack Markell what drugs are you using???? Seriously. I want to know. I want to become just as delusional as you are. You see, I am both a parent AND a teacher who has given the SBAC test, and I have yet to see how it is such an important tool to “understand whether our children are learning and our schools are improving.” Are you trying to start a new Jim Jones style cult? Which flavor of Kool-Aid are you serving? Oh, and since you are hell-bent on taking away parents’ rights, I will be dropping off my daughter at your office after school tomorrow, mmmm-kay????
  5. This is not an important tool and I will determine whether my child participates in this test or not. And I chose not. I do not agree with this test (no matter what you are calling it this year) or with the current system of education as it stands.
  6. We had tests years ago to measure this and we all ACTUALLY learned things. Teaching to prepare for tests does NOTHING but give our children anxiety. Let’s go back to actually teaching our children!!
  7. I used to like you governor. When I was a student twenty five years ago we took standardized testing but our teachers still taught us art, math, science. Free thinking. They weren’t just teaching to lead up to the test….this is why other countries are beating us.
  8. How about teach the way the children learn, not teach them the test. How about increasing the school’s budget so they can hire better teachers and more of them? How about we put the responsibility back on the student to learn rather than fault the teacher? Have you been in the classroom to see what teachers are forced to endure? Its no wonder children aren’t learning when teachers are spending 40 mins trying to get a class to settle down. 
  9. To address this in its entirety, please stop issuing guidance and rhetoric on why parents should stop advocating for their children. Unless the child is a “ward of the state” stay out of my house and what I believe is best for my children.
  10. I refuse to teach because of standardized tests and the way we have handicapped teachers. I, also am a liberal. But we must understand we are a nation of 300 million plus not every kid will be a scientist or straight A student. Go back to standardized tests as just a gauge on how kids are doing, not on wether teachers will be fired or students course work will change. Stop forcing teachers to change their classes around for one or two students who need IEPs. And if your a parent DO YOUR JOB and stop demanding ridiculous things from your teachers and education departments.
  11. These standardized tests are not a gauge of what kids are learning. Other older tests did a better job of that.
  12. Sir, this is why I will never teach in a classroom either. When I work with a child, I will do whatever it takes to get that child to be successful. I measure that child’s success on only themselves and their needs. 
  13. Governor, the tests and the publishing companies who sell them to us are not being undermined. Teachers, students, and parents who stand for real education and respect are being undermined.
  14. Wow! Is there anything else left to say, Governor? #HeresYourSign
  15. Unfortunately, Jack, the turnaround time between test administration and the receipt of scores undermines your argument.
  16. Wrong here Governor
  17. OMG Governor Markell, are you kidding me? Did you really think you were going to get a lot of support on here? Listen to what the people are saying. Just…give…up… It’s over. This could have gone a lot differently, but you had to keep poking the parent bear, over and over again. Your fighting opt-out did far more for the cause than anything I ever did. You have probably caused at least 10-20 more parents to opt out just by posting this. Maybe more. The Smarter Balanced Assessment will never be respected in Delaware. Not by those that REALLY matter: the voting public. You may have your buddies in the DOE, and Rodel, and all that, but at the end of the day, the people have spoken, and they say NO!!!!
  18. My daughter, who tests scores are always above grade level, both, for DCAS and Smarter Balance, got palpitations and I had to rushed her to the A.I. DuPont hospital last May, after three weeks of testing period. It is not about having the children tested, is about which test and how it is done. I agree children have to be tested but I don’t think all these testing combined is done right, otherwise, children wouldn’t be under this sort of stress.
  19. Everyone’s being all nice about this. How about a different prospective. How dare undermine my child’s education for some BS test score to satisfy you federal grant requirements… Just like everything else government has had a hand in, thanks for doing your part in killing our education system. You don’t know what’s best for everyone else’s kids and you should never have a say in it. You need to opt yourself out of our lives…
  20. Mike Matthews article: “Under Markell’s administration, educators have had to tolerate an evaluation system that disrespects their performance in the classroom and lends far too much credence to a standardized test that has changed three times in six years. Using test scores to judge teachers in all of our schools — but especially our least-supported and most challenging schools — is just dumb and has been disavowed by the American Statistical Association.”
  21. That’s why most teachers send their children to private schools cause they know the real deal! Standardized testing is all about politics and money! Truthfully I don’t like how my daughter being taught in school! I’m looking for other alternatives!
  22. There is a direct correlation between those tests scores and poverty levels in schools. We don’t need another measure of poverty….we need solutions.
  23. Standardized testing is NOT an accurate indicator of student learning. If you do not have teachers who are capable of grading students accurately based on their body of work and how much they have progressed or not, then you need better teachers. Standardized tests are junk!
  24. I don’t have nearly the eloquence of some of your other constituents who have already spoken. But I am one more so thinks these tests need to be reconsidered. As a mom of three who works closely with their teachers, as a volunteer who had done Read Assist tutoring, I have yet to hear ONE educational professional speak of these tests positively.
  25. Give our classrooms back to our teachers.
  26. Not many teachers support the damn tests because the whole curriculum is based on them and teachers have no flexibility. There has got to be other ways to measure student’s progress. Also cutting or reducing funding to low performing schools accomplishes nothing positive. It just makes it harder for poorer schools to compete.
  27. Yes we should and yes I will ! Teacher are too worried about a test then actually teaching our children
  28. We as parents should have every rite to opt out if its our choice they are our children and the government or any one else should mind there busy unless our children are being physically harmed
  29. As long as teachers are being held accountable on DPAS for these scores, students will continue to be taught to the test. Therein lies the problem.
  30. Did someone forget a T? Maybe we should be testing our government officials for culpability and competence?
  31. Students opt out whether you like it or not. Giving the parents an option to pull them instead allows you to account for students who otherwise draw pictures on these tests.
  32. I don’t agree I just found out my son has scored horribly on these test but he was tested to be in a gifted program…. We have to do better as a whole for this children
  33. Amazing , how our elected officials should be voting and deciding on issues in the manner the public wants ! I don’t have children, but seems to be all about $. If we score high more grants ….. Forget the grants and give the people what they want for their children .Better idea, all that money we give to the refugees that are allowed to come to Delaware give that to the schools and make the public happy.
  34. Everyone should make themselves familiar with their local elected officials
  35. State representatives and state senators and blow their email boxes and phone lines up !
  36. These people should be doing what people want , if not vote them out. 
  37. I attended school in the 50’s and 60’s I have children who attended in the 80’s, 90’s and now have 2 daughters currently in elementary school. I’ve served on school boards and my wife is a teacher. What I have personally experienced and witnessed is the systematic in 50+ years is the systematic dumbing down of our public education in this country.
  38. We, the parents, and the teachers know if our kids are
  39. Get rid of “common core” and bring back “common sense”
  40. How about removing common core from Delaware’s education system as well?
  41. So teaching only what is on the test so each school can brag about how they’re doing is ok?
  42. Grow a skin, buckle up and do what is expected. Stop seeking reasons to not. This test may not be the best in reasoning but to the the few that are boo boo whining please enough. What’s next ? Opting out of mid terms? (Editor’s note: always a naysayer in a group!)
  43. If this is so good for the kids and the schools, tell us why !
  44. Maybe if there is this much opposition to these tests, we need to look at alternative assessments???
  45. Does it matter Jack? Delaware public schools are horrible.
  46. No testing should happen twice a year but teaching shouldn’t be the answers on the test!!!
  47. These tests are a complete waste of resources!
  48. The error is in thinking there is a single standard for intellect.
  49. Don’t say “we” and “our;” they’re not your kids, you arrogant dictator. (Editor’s Note: One of my favorites)
  50. Which is why we now homeschool.
  51. These tests do not help anyone. (Editor’s note: Yes they do, many hedge fund managers, testing companies, and Governor Markell’s stock portfolio and his golden ticket post-Governor job)
  52. I could not disagree more
  53. Hit the road, Jack. (Editor’s Note, another one of my favorites)
  54. Let’s vote on it.
  55. Nobody asked you for your opinion sir
  56. BS 
  57. Your tool SUCKS!

US DOE’s Threat Letter To Delaware DOE About Opt-Out Is Ridiculous

The United States Department of Education sent letters to 12 states about issues with lower participation rates for either all students or sub-groups of students on the state assessment.  Delaware’s letter, from the US DOE Director of State Support Dr. Monique Chism, has all the intimidating and bullying language we have grown to expect from these federal intrusionists.  So much for the Every Student Succeeds Act and the clause about states determining how to handle participation rates.  The US DOE has learned nothing about standing up on the bully pulpit and telling states what to do.

So what bully lingo do we see in this letter about Delaware not meeting the 95% participation rate for English Language Learners and high school students?  The biggest “threat” is turning a school that has multiple years of low participation rates into a priority or focus school.  There are the usual funding cut threats.  But Delaware already addressed this in their last ESEA Flexibility Waiver edit sent to the US DOE on November 30th.  You know, the one where they have the participation rate multiplied against a school’s participation rate.  The one that nobody but the DOE, Godowsky, State Board of Education, Rodel, and the Governor’s Advisory Council for Exceptional Citizens wanted.  DSEA, Delaware PTA, district and charter superintendents and heads of school opposed it.  Parents opposed it.

The timing on this couldn’t be better.  As the Smarter Balanced season begins next year, opt-out will become a huge conversation.  Our legislators have an awesome responsibility to override Governor Markell’s parent disrespecting veto of House Bill 50.  This final vote from the legislators over this issue will decide once and for all who they stand with: a departing Governor’s absolutely horrible education legacy or the constituents who elect them.  The Delaware DOE is probably emailing this letter to every single legislator as we speak.  But guess what?  I am calling the US DOE’s bluff.  Let them try to cut funding.  Let them try to interfere with a parent’s God-given, fundamental and constitutional rights to dictate the best interests of their children.  We will fight them all the way to the United States Supreme Court if need be.

Every single parent of a public school student in Delaware needs to make a choice for their child if they haven’t already: do they continue to let corporate education reform allow our children to be in huge classes with little funding going to support and resources in favor of a once-a-year test that dictates everything about their child, teachers, and school?  Do they allow our Governor, DOE, State Board, Secretary and the US DOE continue to take away local control from our schools and spend our taxpayer dollars on tests that do not give immediate feedback, do not impact the level of instruction an individual student receives and actually tramples the civil rights of every single sub-group of students in our state?  These are the questions parents need to ask.  Parents can and have made a difference, and their voices are growing stronger every single day.  Say no to the US DOE.  Say no to Governor Markell.  Say yes to your child.

How Much Is Enough? When Does The Madness Stop In Our Schools?

If you come to this blog regularly, you are more than familiar with Mike Matthews, the President of the Red Clay Education Association.  Mike used to blog before he got into teaching, but some of his Facebook status updates might as well be a blog.  Mike asks a lot of tough questions surrounding education in Delaware.

Lately, the whole Red Clay inclusion topic is coming up in a big way.  Red Clay’s board voted for a big inclusion push for students with disabilities and their regular peers to be in more classes together.  While this is good in theory, if the resources and staff aren’t implemented well than issues will mount.  For those who think Mike is just a “union” guy, you would be wrong.  Yes, he is very supportive of the union.  But he also genuinely cares about what happens with students.  Nearly all teachers do.

Mike isn’t afraid to pull punches, and we need MUCH more of that in Delaware.  Tonight, Mike posted something very thought-provoking on Facebook, and I thought I would share it for those who aren’t friends with Mike.

Our students deserve more recess. Not more tests.

Our students deserve more extracurricular activities and more unified arts. Not more “rigor.”

Our students deserve more emotional supports. Not more Common Core.

Our students deserve more enrichment opportunities to show US how they can shine. Not more unit tests and Fresh Reads and Performance Plus.

Our students deserve a more responsive District that will banish the “test and punish” model that was rebuked with last week’s passage and signing of the Every Student Succeeds Act. Not more test prep that lines the pockets of textbook and software publishers.

Our students with special needs and English Language Learners deserve to be in schools with more than one or two specialized staff members to meet the needs of potentially hundreds of students at one site. Not more simplistic exposure to the “general education curriculum” that does little to address their needs or prepare them in a meaningful way for successful post-scholastic careers.

Our District continues down the long and quixotic road of attempting to standardized the most valuable resource that should never be standardized: Our Children. And as a result, they and others are turning off a generation of both learners AND teachers.

A wise friend of mine once said: “When is enough enough?”

Well…when is it?

I know I have asked this question many times.  It could be a lot of people who have said “When is enough enough?”  I asked this question, rather angrily, to Senator Sokola, the DOE, and a packed audience during the House Bill 50 debate in the Senate Education Committee.  It seems to me like students with disabilities continue to get the short end of the stick.  I’m getting VERY tired of this.  If your going to implement something to benefit special education students and English Language Learners, you better be damn sure you have the money, resources and staffing to get it right.  These kids can’t afford what happens when schools and districts get it wrong.

While Mike is obviously more enamored with ESSA than I am, he is absolutely right.  Delaware has a chance to rewrite the script on education.  And I’m not talking about WEIC either.  I’m talking about parents telling their legislators what they want for their kids.  We have to stop hiding behind our names or our standing and how we look to our friends and neighbors.  For all the Delaware parents who continue to flaunt this insanity in Delaware education, let me ask you one simple question: How would YOU have done with all this growing up?

Delaware parents can make the most obvious change now by opting their child out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment and supporting the override of Governor Markell’s cowardly veto of House Bill 50.  The only way things are going to change is if the very mechanism for the corporate education reformers is taken away.  Take the test away, and they no longer have their funnel into the Delaware education system.

Many Delaware Parents Are NOT Happy With Smarter Balanced Results

As predicted, Delaware parents are not happy with the Smarter Balanced Assessment results.  Of course, the ones who scored proficient or above have not been vocal.  But the 49% of parents who are seeing English/Language Arts non-proficiency and 62% non-proficiency for math, are not too happy.  And parents of special needs children are horrified.  The Delaware DOE is going to put the maximum spin machine on this utilizing every possible source they can use.  The State Board of Education is having a workshop at Grotto’s Pizza in Dover next week to deal with the fallout.  Of course, they are going to talk about the myths and fallacies of the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  Will they come right out and say “Don’t read Exceptional Delaware, Kavips, or any of the other Delaware blogs”? Or will they, for once in their professional lives, come out and say “You know what, we messed up.  This test is horrible.  We apologize, and let’s really work together to come up with a new test.  We want your help, and all the other stakeholders we didn’t include the last time.”

If they did the latter, and stuck to it, I would be utterly amazed and shocked.  Oddly enough, Governor Markell has been strangely quiet on the issue.  Of course, he went to Germany last week, and the Pope is coming to town this week.  But we are heading into election mode, and it wouldn’t shock me if every announced or potential candidate told his office they don’t want him talking about this test at all!

Cold Hard Proof DOE Is INTENTIONALLY Embargoing Smarter Balanced Results & Have The Results Already

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They say a picture paints a thousand words. This one paints well over 200,000. That will be the words of the Delaware parents of the 133,000 Delaware public school students when they find out the Delaware Department of Education has INTENTIONALLY been holding on to the scores of the Smarter Balanced Results AND when they get the results in the mail in a month. That’s right, a month. But the districts will start to get data on Monday. I’m sorry, in what world does this make sense?  I would think with ouster of Mark Murphy they would start to wake up, but with what I’ve seen SINCE last Friday, they are getting worse…

To the 148th General Assembly, if you don’t begin to reign this Department and Governor Markell in, we the people will make BIG decisions on Election Day 2016.  My advice, call a special session, override House Bill 50, pass emergency legislation to get rid of Smarter Balanced, pass emergency legislation to dismantle the leadership of the Delaware DOE, and start impeachment proceedings against Governor Jack Markell…

What Will Delaware Governor Jack Markell Do With The House & Senate Passed Opt-Out Bill, House Bill 50?

The Delaware Senate just passed House Bill 50 by a vote of 15-6.  The very controversial parent opt-out bill now travels to Delaware Governor Jack Markell’s desk.  Will he sign it?  Veto it?  I just asked his Education Policy Advisor Lindsey O’Mara and she does not know what he is going to do.

If he vetoes the bill, he faces the wrath of many Delaware parents.  If he signs the bill he is sure to tick off US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and a legion of corporate education reformers in Delaware.  Whatever the result, the passage of this bill in the 148th General Assembly honors a parents right to opt their child out of standardized assessments in Delaware.  It will also prevent schools or the state Department of Education from bullying or intimidating parents when they choose to opt their child out.  It shows respect and tolerance of parent wishes which is the heart of the legislation.

Thank you to State Rep. John Kowalko and Senator Dave Lawson for sponsoring the bill, along with the Delaware PTA who came through time and time again.  As well, the Delaware State Educators Association, and the hundreds of parents who fought very hard for this bill.  This is a major victory and you should all be proud!

The Key Moments For House Bill 50 Opt-Out Victory In The Delaware House

There were many seminal moments on the road to this important victory for parents in Delaware.  I’ll start at the beginning:

1) Delaware bloggers Kavips and Transparent Christina begin talking about opt-out in the Spring of 2014.  It’s who got me to start thinking about it for Delaware.

2) Matt Lindell and the Capital School Board: a year ago, the Capital school board started the discussion on this, but it was tabled.  Then it came roaring back last fall for a unanimous vote by the Capital Board.

3) The Delaware DOE letters: In early December of 2014, the Delaware DOE began sending school districts a “suggested” letter to give to parents about opt-out should they ask or opt-out.  The confusing Delaware state code regarding this was exposed immediately by yours truly.  It took a while for this to be clarified by the DOE, but once the genie was out of the bottle, it made the DOE look ineffective

4) Delaware State Rep. Kowalko and Senator Lawson introduce House Bill 50 in early February. WDEL radio show host Rick Jensen starts having opt-out advocates on his show.

5) The Delaware PTA holds the first Delaware Parent Opt-Out Town Hall in mid-February.  Wide discussion about bullying tactics by school districts really ticks parents off.  What was meant to be a scare tactic fast turns into a rallying point for Delaware parents. President Terri Hodges announces publicly she is opting her own child out.

6) Delaware State Rep. Earl Jaques tells a group of Christina Educator Association teachers House Bill 50 will never pass as Brandywine Superintendent Dr. Mark Holodick attempts to dictate terms about opt-out to parents in that district which does not work out as planned.

7) Delaware PTA holds Kent County Parent Opt-Out Town Hall in early March.  DOE is forced to admit parent opt-out can’t be stopped and the state law only applies to teachers and school staff, not parents.

8) Christina board of Education passes parent opt-out resolution in large measure due to the hard work in preparing the resolution by board member Elizabeth Paige and a fiery speech supporting parent opt-out by board member John Young.

9) Governor Markell announces initiative to reduce assessments for Delaware students while conveniently ignoring the elephant in the room, the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  This leads to Jaques referring to Smarter Balanced as a “little test”.

10) Governor Jack Markell is forced to talk about opt-out at Howard High School, which leads to remarks by Jaques which fans the opt-out flames even more, especially for special needs parents.  Jaques quickly apologizes.

11) The Delaware News Journal publishes a front-page cover story on opt-out from both sides of the fence.  A cover photo of parent Jackie Kook with her daughter brings it home for many parents.  Parent who never heard the words opt-out start looking into it.

12) In front of an audience of over 1,000 people at the Imagine Delaware forum, teacher and President of the Red Clay Educator Association Mike Matthews announces he supports the opt-out movement.

13) As the Smarter Balanced Assessment begins, parents start opting out by the hundreds in Delaware.  Many schools give parents a rough time, which causes parents to talk to each other and spread the news about opt-out.

14) Delaware State Rep. Sean Matthews and Jaques go head to head in a News Journal dual opinion piece on opt-out.  Matthews clearly wins the contest and shows why opt-out is important in regards to Delaware education.

15) Both Red Clay and Christina Educators Association hold joint press conference announcing no confidence vote in Delaware DOE, the State Board of Education, and Secretary of Education Mark Murphy.

16) Delaware PTA passes resolution officially supporting opt-out and House Bill 50.

17) DSEA (Delaware Educators Association) passes resolution supporting opt-out and House Bill 50, as well as a vote of no confidence in Mark Murphy.

18) Parent Press Conference/Rally at Legislative Hall in early April, though small, draws most Delaware media to it and more media coverage of opt-out.

19) Delaware State Rep. Kim Williams publicly announces she is opting out her own son, a high school junior who, like many Delaware juniors, are forced to take weeks and weeks of testing.

20) Mark Murphy appears on The Delaware Way with Larry Mendte and states “parents aren’t allowed to opt-out students”.

21) Red Clay Consolidated School Board passes parent opt-out resolution with excellent writing by board member Adrianna Bohm.

22) The day before the House Education Committee vote, Governor Markell announces initiative to have Smarter Balanced Scores tie into elimination of remedial classes for four Delaware universities and colleges.  The announcement is critically slammed by legislators, parents and teachers.

23) At the House Education Committee meeting on April 22nd, Kowalko and Jaques battle each other as Kowalko is forced to answer a barrage of questions by Jaques.  Kowalko successfully fends him off.  After discussion from other legislators, public comment from parents shows near overwhelming support for the release of the bill.  Opposition includes organizations well-known to support Governor Markell’s corporate education agendas.  After a vote to have the bill tabled falls apart, the bill is released from the committee in an 8-4 vote ending the over two hour debate.

24) Mark Murphy’s claim of federal funding cuts of $40-$90 million over potential opt-outs and the passage of House Bill 50 is debunked the next day with the release of the US DOE letter which clearly states schools cannot opt students out, and the letter never mentions the words parent opt-out.

25) Last week, organizations such as GACEC and Council for Persons with Disabilities release near identical letter in opposition to House Bill 50 with claims that are quickly debunked.

26) In a hasty and damaging example of executive overreach, Governor Markell announces to radio host Rick Jensen on WDEL he will veto House Bill 50 if it reaches his desk.

27) Parents begin emailing all the legislators of the Delaware House and public support for the bill is clearly seen by the legislators.

28) State Rep. Sean Matthews introduces an amendment to House Bill 50 the day of the House vote which changes the language of the legislation from “the state assessment” to the “Smarter Balanced Assessment”.

All leading to today’s enormous victory in the Delaware House of Representatives, with a 36-3 victory with two reps absent.  At the end of the day, this is about parents using their voice to initiate change.  This could not have been done by one individual at all.  It took a great deal of advocacy, hard work, sweat, social media, and legislators, parents, organizations and ordinary citizens spreading the word and supporting the cause.

What also helped were some obvious tactical blunders by the Delaware DOE, Secretary Murphy, and Governor Markell.  And God bless him, we cannot forget Earl Jaques.  He revealed today House Bill 50 got in the way of his planned legislation to reduce the Smarter Balanced Assessment to only three grades of testing.  Which is a noble gesture, but legislation getting rid of the “little” test would be a much grander statement.

While getting the bill through the House was an undertaking, it remains to be seen how the Delaware Senate will receive the legislation.  Folks are already guessing which Senate members will support the bill.  Delaware Senator Brian Pettyjohn already announced on Facebook tonight he will vote yes.  Senator Lawson, a co-sponsor of the bill, is a lock.  But the others are a mystery for now.  I can guess and predict, but until they publicly announce their intentions or a vote, we must email them and call them as much as we can.

One child’s rigor is another child’s mental breakdown

All Delaware parents, teachers, and politicians need to read this. When your child comes home next year after taking the Smarter Balanced Assessment, and they are frustrated like you have never seen them before, this will be why…

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The most valuable assessments in schools today is the running record. Running records measure both fluency and comprehension for each student. From this data, teachers can determine the appropriate level to instruct a child in reading. Teachers can also determine the child’s “frustration” level. “Frustration” is determined when a child’s accuracy falls below 90% or there is a complete lack of comprehension. Testing young children to the point of “frustration” may sound inhumane, but it is for a very brief moment in time and the assessment is done in a 1:1 setting. The teacher can end the assessment at any point.

Teachers are well aware of the reading levels for each child in their classroom. They are also aware of each child’s “frustration” level. While it is good practice to instruct students at or above their reading levels, it makes no sense at all to test a child for 3…

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