McGuiness Isn’t Even Elected A Week And She’s Already Stirring Up Controversy

Last week, Delawareans decided to put Kathy McGuiness in the State Auditor position.  Not all Delawareans, that is, but enough for her to win.  It’s not like I didn’t warn you all for the past year.  According to the Cape Gazette, McGuiness hasn’t decided if she will vacate her position as Rehoboth Commissioner.  Hello Delaware, can you say conflict of interest? Continue reading

Cocktails In Appalachia Alert: A Burd Lands On McGuiness’ Windowsill

Did Kathy McGuiness and another powerful Delaware figure work behind the scenes to get someone from the Auditor of Accounts office a new job following the News Journal smear campaign against Kathleen Davies?

In eight days, Delaware will elect a new State Auditor.  It is between Kathy McGuiness (Democrat) and James Spadola (Republican).  While McGuiness’ has vowed the office would be completely independent, as has Spadola, the lingering plotline of the destruction of Kathleen Davies still has questions.  One of those questions surrounds the destination of one of the architects of Davies’ ouster at the Auditor of Accounts office (AOA). Continue reading

Kathy McGuiness: Why The Idea Of Her As State Auditor Is Beyond Frightening

Who is Kathy McGuiness?  Yes, she is running for State Auditor.  But who is she really?  Is she true Blue or is she Red for convenience sake?  Who are her best friends and why would that make it VERY dangerous for her to win this election?  She wants to be a state auditor.  Someone whose job is making sure other state agencies don’t break the rules.  But her alliances and allegiances beg the question and puts her on a very slippery slope.  And I’m not just talking about the slopes in Park City, Utah. Continue reading

The Delaware Pathways Docs… Open Your Eyes Delaware And See The Manipulation…

Yesterday, the Delaware Attorney General’s office opened up Delaware to the world of the Delaware Pathways.  Granted, this had to come in the form of a FOIA complaint from yours truly.  But feast your eyes on all the big plans rolled around this initiative.  An initiative so big Governor Markell had to issue an Executive Order when the General Assembly said no thanks to legislation creating a Steering Committee around the Pathways gig.  Given how much is tied into this thing: Common Core, the state assessments, millions upon millions of dollars of state funding, outside businesses, all three of our major colleges, etc., is it any wonder this group has tried to keep things hush as long as they can?  All I can say is whenever Rodel gets involved, something goes wonky with transparency.  So what is “Work-Based Learning” and “Working To Learn”?  The answers lie within.  If you oppose this, let your voice be heard now.  I do not believe it is a coincidence at all that Delaware will be handing in the first draft of their Every Student Succeeds Act state plan in the next few days.  Between this and the ESSA state plan, with all the smoke and mirrors involved with that, NOW is the time to be extra vigilant.  Read every single word in these documents.  Every.  Single.  One.

Bethany Hall-Long Supports TFA, Colin Bonini Hates The Priority Schools, and John Carney Says “See My Plan”

johnboninicolincarney

I attended a Delaware Governor and Lieutenant Governor debate tonight at Delaware State University.  It felt like it should have been an episode of The Gong Show.  In a night where Colin Bonini said he felt like Delaware’s apology for slavery was a crutch and Lamar Gunn talked to the audience about discrimination and how they don’t have to vote blue or red but rather the person.  There was a lot of talk about discrimination tonight, yet no one addressed the point that the Libertarian and Green candidates were not invited to the debate.  Candidates who I’m sure would have had a lot more to offer than the ones I saw tonight.

Yes, in a reply to a question about a lack of minority teachers in Delaware, Senator Bethany Hall-Long took it upon herself, a DSEA supported candidate, to publicly support Teach For America.  She said why do we have to wait that long when we have Teach For America ready to come into our schools.  So let me get this straight Bethany: you would rather have minorities go through a six-week crash course on teaching Delaware students and throw them in schools than go through the actual degree process to become a Delaware teacher?  Would you have come out with that statement before you were endorsed by the Delaware State Education Association?  This was after she gave a very bizarre “Take A Look At Me Now” opening statement like she was auditioning for a 21st Century Shirley Temple movie.

Colin Bonini decided to throw the six priority schools under the bus.  And then go in reverse and run over them all over them again.  By calling them “six failed schools” because of their test scores, he bashed the schools for only hiring assistant principals.  But then he went that next step as only Bonini would by saying they should have been converted to charter schools.  When asked about why he voted no on the resolution for Delaware to apologize for its role in slavery, Bonini actually told the over 90% African-American crowd he thought slavery apologies were a crutch.

And John Carney.  If I heard “if you take a look at my plan” one more time I was probably going to have to yell “Do you even know what is in your plans?”  Because it was obvious in many areas he didn’t.  When asked about criminal justice he said his campaign was coming out with a plan on that subject in a few days.  As he smugly sat there and said “When I become the next Governor,” Bonini retorted back with his I know I’m going to lose face with a similar comment about how Carney would work in his administration.  In fact, Bonini made it a point to tell the audience he likes John Carney even though his campaign manager keeps telling him to stop saying that.  Carney went a step further and told everyone he and Bonini are friends, and “that’s how we get things done in Delaware.”  Yes, the rotting and festering wound we call “The Delaware Way.”  In some respects, Bonini almost looked like he was prepping for continued life as a Delaware Senator who will have to work with Governor Carney.  It was the only logical answer I could find as he tried to mesmerize the audience with the magical word “Prosperity” throughout the night.

When Lieutenant Governor candidate Lamar Gunn wasn’t trying to eviscerate his opponent every chance he got, he did make some good points about race in Delaware.  But it got lost in his newly created powers he wants for the Lieutenant Governor role.  Carney, Bonini, and Hall-Long all talked about college and career readiness.  And this legislation and that legislation.  Bonini answered many questions with one word, “Prosperity”, before he attempted to explain why prosperity is the answer to life.  Both Hall-Long and Carney couldn’t seem to reconcile how Delaware needs all these 21st Century jobs starting real soon and how we need the bottom rung jobs as well.  It almost seemed like they were telling the audience, “Don’t worry, we will create jobs for you if we can’t get you into those Pathways To Prosperity jobs.”

It was a dismal night.  After the Carney-Bonini debate, someone asked me if I liked what I heard.  My only response was “I never like what I hear.”  This is Delaware.  Everyone wants a seat at the table, but as Gunn put it, you aren’t being invited to the table, you are a dessert on the table.”   Two words I didn’t hear from any candidate’s mouth were special education.  They all seem to forget that for some students, it isn’t just being a minority, it is also being a student with disabilities.  But Carney told the audience how we have been going from one education reform to the next, but whatever we come up with next, we have to make it stick.  Like we haven’t heard that before.  As the Delaware DOE gets ready to unleash the first draft of their ESSA plan that will be a boon for outside providers and will pretty much give schools the same sucky accountability standards they had before.  But both Carney and Bonini said they believe in local control.

In response to the upcoming report coming out on discrimination in Delaware State Government, Carney wants to take that role out of the Office of Management and Budget and give them their own brand new cabinet position in Delaware government.  As he talked about the huge deficit we will face in the next year.  When asked if that would be separate from a Civil Rights office, Carney quickly chimed in that he could roll that into it.  Bonini spoke about a letter he wrote wanting to create new committees in the House and Senate for civil rights but added it would have been hard to do in the middle of a General Assembly.  But Gunn went after Hall-Long for not voting on it even though it was never legislation.

Like the picture of John Bonini and Colin Carney above, my brain felt very blurry as I left the auditorium and walked to my car on this crisp and cool Autumn evening.  It is an epidemic during this 2016 election season.  Brain cells crashing into each other as we continue to ask ourselves why the future sounds so important but those guiding the way are oblivious to so much.  If I walked away from this with any support for any of the four candidates, it would have to be Gunn for Lieutenant Governor.  Only to watch him preside over the Senate while Bethany Hall-Long fake smiles the whole time.  I would have loved to have seen Carney and Bonini react to Libertarian Gubernatorial candidate Sean Goward’s awesome ideas.  But that’s the Delaware Way…

So what should I expect in the next four years of Delaware?  John Carney purposely avoiding eye contact with me, which would make tonight the hat trick for this kind of behavior since I met him at one of his Spaghetti meet and greets earlier last month.  But that’s okay, I’m sure he has a plan…

How The Delaware General Assembly Got Away With Not Needing A 3/4 Vote To Pass The State Budget

Last summer, many folks took notice the Delaware Senate did not pass the state budget with a 3/4 majority vote as required by Delaware state code.  There was a specific reason they needed a 3/4 vote.  That was because the universities and charter schools they have appropriations for are considered corporations.  The law states the 3/4 vote is needed to appropriate money to corporations.  If they didn’t give any money to those entities, they only need a majority vote.  At the end of the legislative session in 2015, State Senator Colin Bonini introduced Senate Concurrent Resolution #39 which formed a working group to determine if the universities and charter schools were indeed corporations as defined in state code.

The group met twice and quickly issued a letter to Governor Markell which determined charter schools, the University of Delaware, and Delaware State University are not “corporations” as was originally written in the law because they have many key relationships with state government.  So therefore, that was why the 3/4 majority vote was not needed, based on a legal opinion which came out of all this.

 

When Did Rodel Become Governor Markell’s Public Relations Agency?

In the latest Rodel/Vision Coalition email, they had a very odd announcement at the end of it with no details other than the picture below.  I Googled this event and found absolutely nothing.  I find it incredibly frightening when Rodel is pimping for Governor Markell like this.  While many parents will think “Wow, this Governor is really great and he must love kids!”, I find this to be more of the same.  This is the same Governor who told parents “I’m going to veto your opt-out bill!”  He doesn’t have respect for parents.  But he has a tremendous amount of respect for Rodel and the Delaware State University.  I think Markell’s first 3,000 days as Governor have been especially bad for education.

Birthto8Summit

Senate Conc. Resol. #39 Creates Group To Have 3/4 Majority Vote For Funding Of Charters & Univ. of Delaware & DSU

Because charter schools are corporations, and Delaware state code states all corporations get a 3/4 majority vote for any budget funding, Senator Colin Bonini introduced Senate Concurrent Resolution #39, which would create a working group to look at this issue.

This is actually a very smart move.  The budget bill requires a simple majority vote, but since this bill funds the above-mentioned corporations, the entire budget bill is being looked at.  The resolution passed with a unanimous vote in the Delaware Senate.

The group would begin on August 1st, 2015, and the report would be due to Governor Markell by 12/31/15.  I’m not exactly sure what this would do for charter schools in particular, as well as Del. State and Univ. of Delaware.  Could this group change the way charters are funded?  This could be very interesting and one to watch!

Delaware PTA slams Governor Markell and Delaware DOE over their latest harebrained scheme!

I am loving the Delaware PTA this year!  After Governor Markell and the Delaware DOE announced their little “we’re scared of opt-out so why not brainwash more parents into thinking their kids won’t have to take remedial classes in college” scheme, many stakeholders were not happy.  Including the Delaware PTA who has been very vocal in support of parent opt-out.  They are fast-learning that there is no collaboration in Markell’s nation!

Delaware PTA’s Response to Press Release on SBAC and DE Higher Ed Institutions 

In a statement made today by Governor Markell, Delaware PTA learned that the four colleges; Wilmington University, University of Delaware, Delaware Technical and Community College and Delaware State University have all agreed that the outcomes of the 11th grade Smarter Balanced Assessments is a good indicator of college readiness. In addition, these institutions have all agreed to accept the assessment in lieu of other placement exams.

At a time when there is so much turbulence in our public education system, we are disheartened to learn that the conversations that proceeded this major conclusion did not include input from any of our major stakeholders. The Delaware Department of Education and the Governor’s office have publicly committed to greater transparency and collaboration with the broader community, yet Delaware PTA, the Delaware State Education Association, state legislators and other community stakeholders were not only excluded from these conversations, but we only learned of this decision a few hours prior to the public announcement.

We believe the lack of a collaborative process has resulted in misguided decisions regarding the efficacy of the Smarter Balanced Assessments, further misleading parents and students.

While Delaware PTA supports the use of assessments with a growth model that will effectively and adequately measure student growth and college and career readiness, we stand by our previous statements, citing the following concerns with the Smarter Balanced Assessments:

1. In its current form, the SBAC does not provide a true growth model;

2. In its current form, the SBAC is overly subjective and not an accurate assessment of student knowledge, skills and abilities;

3. Our educators have not had sufficient time to teach and our students have not had sufficient time to learn;

4. In its current form, the SBAC does not provide parents or teachers with the individual diagnostic data necessary to work together to support student success.

Although we believe that this most recent development is a knee jerk reaction to HB 50 on the Parent Opt Out, Delaware PTA remains fully committed to engaging in collaborative and transparent discussions on developing a state assessment that provides meaningful data for parents, students and teachers.

Decisions made in a vacuum often lead to outcomes that are misaligned and unsuccessful. Delaware parents, students and teachers deserve better. 

Dr. Terri L Hodges, State President 

Yvonne Johnson, VP of Advocacy

Details About The Delaware Universities & Colleges Using Smarter Balanced Scores

This was just released by the Delaware Department of Education:

PRESS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT:   Susan Haberstroh

PHONE:  735-4003

April 14, 2015

 DELAWARE COLLEGES SAY SMARTER BALANCED ASSESSMENTS ARE GOOD MEASURE OF COLLEGE READINESS

Students who do well will not have to pass placement tests and can take credit-bearing courses

Dover– Four institutions of higher education in Delaware—the University of Delaware,  Delaware Technical Community College, Delaware State University and Wilmington University—all have said students’ scores on the state’s new 11th grade Smarter Assessments are a good measure of college readiness and will be accepted in lieu of a separate placement test, Gov. Jack Markell announced today.

High school juniors started taking the Smarter English language arts (ELA) and Smarter Mathematics assessments Monday and all students will complete them before June 4. The colleges’ decisions mean that students who score 3 or better on the tests’ 4-point scale now will be able to enroll in credit-bearing English and mathematics classes, as long as they meet certain other conditions, and can avoid taking costly remedial classes that not count toward graduations. They also will not need to pass a separate placement exam.

Those placement exams are offered during the summer before students’ first year in college, at a time when they have not been engaged in studying the subjects, meaning they may be more likely to be placed in remedial courses that they do not need.

The criteria colleges used for accepting students are not changing. Admitted students will still have the option to choose to take placement tests to qualify for credit bearing courses.

In 2012, more than half the Delaware public school graduates who enrolled in in-state colleges had to take remedial classes because they were determined to be not ready for college-level work, according to Delaware’s State Report: College Enrollment, Remediation, and Performance (https://www.delawaregoestocollege.org). National data shows that less than 50 percent of students who take remedial classes will complete the class hindering their ability to receive a college degree. 

“Today’s announcement marks another important step toward giving Delaware students the best chance to succeed in continuing their education beyond high school,” Governor Markell said. “Delaware’s colleges and universities are not only sending our high school juniors a clear signal that the Smarter Assessments are a valuable tool. They are also showing a commitment to preventing students from taking unnecessary remedial courses, which too often put students off track before they even start their college education.

Smarter Assessments emphasize the importance of a deep understanding of subject matter, critical-thinking, problem-solving, writing and reading more complex materials—all skills necessary for success in college. Those skills are stressed in the Common Core State Standards that Delaware teachers have used in their classrooms in recent years. The standards are not a curriculum but are a set of clear, consistent guidelines for what students should be able to do at each grade level in math and ELA. 

Secretary of Education Mark Murphy said the colleges’ decisions “show that they believe the Common Core standards are rigorous and that the Smarter Assessments provide a good measure of college readiness.” 

Delaware State University Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Alton Thompson agreed. “Delaware State University supports the use of the Smarter Balanced Assessments for placement because we think it’s a great idea to give students incentives to master the Common Core State Standards,” he said. “If they master those standards, as measured by the assessments, we feel confident that they’ll be able to handle college-level work. We have to demonstrate that our students are learning in order to be considered an effective institution and this will help us do that.”

Dr. Mark Brainard, the president of Delaware Technical Community College, said, “Our focus at Delaware Tech has always been to provide access to higher education and we view the Smarter Balanced assessment as an additional means to demonstrate college readiness and facilitate students’ transition to college. We will continue to collaborate with the Department of Education and the school districts on this and other initiatives to prepare students to be successful.”

The Governor announced the agreements with the colleges at the University of Delaware.

“The K-12 school system is working hard to prepare students to enter college and the workforce and the Common Core State Standards help chart a path that students can follow to reach those goals,”  University of Delaware President Patrick T. Harker said. “By setting policies around the Smarter Balanced Assessments, we can be sure that students are ready for our entry-level courses. That’s good for the school system. It’s good for institutions like UD. And most of all, it’s good for students and their families, who will know—early and often—where they stand on the path toward college or work.”

Wilmington University also will use Smarter Balanced assessment scores in making placement decisions but is working out details of the new policy. Jim Wilson, Wilmington University’s Vice President of Academic Affairs, said accepting the scores “is in line with our mission of providing opportunities for higher education to students of varying ages.”

 In addition, Wesley College is considering how it will treat students’ Smarter Balanced assessment scores. “Wesley College is enthusiastic about exploring options to help our Delaware students transition successfully to college,” Dr. Patricia M. Dwyer, Wesley’s provost and vice president for academic affairs, said.

Delaware is one of 19 states and territories that are members of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, which created the assessments. “This is a game changer,” said Tony Alpert, Smarter Balanced Executive Director. “In the past, most state tests had no linkage to higher ed. Smarter Balanced has worked with states and higher education to give meaning to high school exams.”

Alpert noted, “Reducing students’ need for remediation can go a long way toward meeting state and national goals for increased degree attainment, as research has consistently shown that students who enter college without need for remediation are far more likely to complete a degree.”

 ####

Colleges Policies

University of Delaware

English

Score of 3

·         Eligible for credit-level coursework.

Score of 4

·         Eligible for credit-level coursework.

·         Recommend that students consider dual enrollment in English 110 in their senior year of high school.

Mathematics

Score of 3

·         Students who take Algebra II or a higher level mathematics course in their senior year and earn at least a B, may enroll directly in Math 113 (Contemporary Mathematics) or Math 114 (College Mathematics and Statistics).

·         Students who take Algebra II or a higher level mathematics course in their senior year and who earn at least a B, may take the University of Delaware’s Placement Examination (ALEKS) to be placed in Math 115 (Precalculus), Math 117 (Precalculus for Scientists and Engineers), or higher.

Score of 4

·         No developmental courses are necessary.

·         Students place directly into any Math course whose prerequisite is Math 010. That is, entry into Math 113, 114, 115, or 117 is guaranteed.

·         Students who take Precalculus or a higher level mathematics course in their senior year, and score a 75% or above on their University of Delaware Placement Examination (ALEKS) may enroll directly in Math 221 (Calculus I) or Math 241 (Analytic Geometry and Calculus A).

·         Recommend that students consider dual enrollment in a mathematics course in their senior year.

Delaware State University

English

Score of 3

·         Eligible for credit-level coursework.

Score of 4

·         Eligible for credit-level coursework.

·         Recommend that students consider dual enrollment in English 101 in their senior year.

Mathematics

Score of 3

·         Students who take Algebra II or a higher level mathematics course in their senior year and earn at least a B, may enroll directly in MTSC 101 (Survey of Mathematics I) or MTSC 102 (Survey of Mathematics II).

·         Students who take Algebra II or a higher level mathematics course in their senior year and who earn at least a B, may take the Delaware State University’s Placement Examination (ACCUPLACER) to be placed in MTSC 121 (College Algebra and Trigonometry), MTSC 131 (Precalculus), or higher.

Score of 4

·         No developmental courses are necessary.

·         Students who take Precalculus or a higher level mathematics course in their senior year, and who earn at least a B, may take the Delaware State University Placement Examination (ACCUPLACER) to be placed in MTSC 251 (Calculus I) or MTSC 225 (Calculus for Business and Social Sciences).

·         Recommend that students consider dual enrollment in a mathematics course in their senior year.

Delaware Technical Community College

English

Score of 3

  • In conjunction with a “B” or higher in senior English, student would be eligible for credit-level coursework

Score of 4

  • Eligible for credit-level coursework
  • Recommended that student consider dual enrollment English in senior year

Mathematics

Score of 3

·         No developmental or remedial courses necessary

·         Students place into any college level math course with a pre-requisite of Review of Math Fundamentals (MAT012) or Elementary Algebra (MAT015)

·         Students who take Algebra II or a higher level math course in their senior year, and earn at least a B, can take DTCC’s Precalculus (MAT185)

·         Students can also retake the Smarter Balanced assessment or take DTCC’s Accuplacer to be placed in Precalculus (MAT185) or higher

Score of 4

·         No developmental or remedial courses are necessary

·         Students place directly into DTCC’s Precalculus (MAT185)

·         Students who take Precalculus or a higher level math course in their senior year, and earn at least a B, can take DTCC’s Business Calculus (MAT261) or Calculus I (MAT281)

Breaking News: Delaware Colleges & Universities To Use Smarter Balanced Scores For Acceptance Credentials

In about 15 minutes, Governor Markell will be giving a speech indicating Smarter Balanced scores will be used for acceptance credentials at the four major Delaware colleges and universities: University of Delaware, Delaware Technical College, Delaware State University and Wilmington University.

This decision was made without any input from members of the 148th General Assembly.  Once again Governor Markell and the Delaware DOE are operating without any stakeholder input whatsoever.  The test hasn’t even completed and the scores won’t be out until the summer, so how can this be used as a measuring indicator for students when we don’t even know how effective the test is?

The email regarding this was sent out earlier today:

From: Haberstroh Susan Keene <susan.haberstroh@doe.k12.de.us>
Sent: Tuesday, April 14, 2015 11:57 AM
To: Haberstroh, Susan (K12)
Subject: Smarter Balance Assessment and Delaware Higher Education Institutions Announcement
 

Dear Legislator,
We wanted to provide you with a heads up of an announcement being made today regarding the Smarter Assessments and how four of our institutions of higher education have agreed to use these assessments. A press event is happening at 1:00 today where the Governor will announce that the University of Delaware, Delaware Technical Community College, Delaware State University and Wilmington University all have said students’ scores on the state’s new 11th grade Smarter Assessments are a good measure of college readiness and will be accepted in lieu of a separate placement test.

A press release with the full details will be sent to you later today.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions.
Best,
Susan

Susan Keene Haberstroh, MPA, Ed.D.

Chief, Policy and External Affairs

Delaware Department of Education

Townsend Building

401 Federal Street, Suite 2

Dover, DE  19901

susan.haberstroh@doe.k12.de.us

P: 302-735-4035; F:302.739.4654