Caesar Rodney School District is in Kent County. The district includes Camden-Wyoming and the southern part of Dover. Slightly larger in student size than their North neighbor, Capital School District, CR is an interesting district. It also includes a school at Dover Air Force Base. Their enrollment has gone up a couple hundred in the past four years. There aren’t as many competing charter schools in the area that affect districts up in Wilmington and Newark. The vo-tech in the area, Polytech, has a fixed student enrollment that has been in place for decades. Superintendent Kevin Fitzgerald has made modest raises in the last four years. In four years, the number of employees making over $100,000 has increased from 26 to 29. CR and Capital have always been rivals of sorts, not just in football, but in comparing the quality of their districts. In the past year, Caesar Rodney has been in the news much more than I’ve seen them in the past four years due to controversial matters in the district involving race, special education, and most recently, their stance on the recent student walk-outs. Continue reading
A Caesar Rodney School District student took his complaints against the ongoing censorship on social media concerning student walkouts. In a nutshell, the student called out the district for going against what they have taught their students. David Haynes, a Caesar Rodney High School senior, gave his permission for me to put his Facebook post from last night on here.
For over 13 years, I have bled blue and gold. The Caesar Rodney School District’s repeated failure to do the right thing, however, has me fed up. How dare they teach us the beauties of activism with the likes of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, and John Lewis, only to turn their backs and ban a peaceful protest. How dare they teach us of the necessity of freedom of speech, only to turn their backs and delete and block those who oppose. How dare they warn us of evil tyrants who limit the people’s freedoms, only to turn their back and act authoritarian themselves. How dare they teach us to “speak for the silent, stand for the broken,” only to tell us to shut up and sit down. Caesar Rodney is missing a golden opportunity to practice what they preach. And yet, it seems as if there is an asterisk next to the First Amendment. *does not apply to students, they are too young to speak freely and protest peacefully. My history teachers did not teach me about THAT clause. Our superintendent believes that we should “write or call their legislators to let their opinions be known.” If our practices of freedom of speech are met with post deletions and blocks, why would he expect us to think that a legislator would listen?? I can’t speak my mind on Facebook without getting censored, how about I go to an elected official? What a wonderful plan. We live in a world in which 17 people in a school have to be killed in order for a nation to listen to their children. For years, students have been silent (or silenced) and now we decide that it is time to make a change. The district should welcome this with open arms—we are actually concerned about our country! But they are missing a chance to foster this spark of activism by threatening consequences and shutting down our discussions. School districts such as Cape and Brandywine are supporting their students’ First Amendment rights, and in turn, are encouraging future activists for a better tomorrow. I commend these two districts and regret that CR is not setting this example for the state. The country is on the verge of change to make all of our lives safer—and the movement is being led by students like Gail, Grace, Laura, and millions across the U.S who are brave enough to speak up.
On March 14th, I will be walking out of school at 10:00 am for 17 minutes—one for every person killed in Parkland, FL. I accept the consequences, but hope that the Caesar Rodney School District does the right thing and supports our movement.
We need more Davids and less folks like the district communications guy who actually thought it was a good idea to delete public Facebook posts. I say to that guy: this is a screenshot world sir!
I’ve heard from several sources that the fight in the cafeteria where a disabled student was pummeled could have been prevented had district staff or administration intervened. These same sources revealed that district staff come over to the high school to eat in the very nice cafeteria. On Tuesday, district staff were present during the fight, including Superintendent Dr. Kevin Fitzgerald. The reason no one tries to break up a fight? Because they are not allowed to if they have not received restraint training.
It would be one thing if this were indeed a “rare” situation, as described by Fitzgerald in his announcement about the fight today. But I’m hearing there have been several fights. Another recent one had the same scenario- a girl gets beaten up, no one breaks it up, and the school calls the parent to tell them to pick their child up and she may need medical attention. I’m sorry, but if the school or district refuses to get the training needed to properly break up a fight, then they should incur the medical expenses for a student when they fail to prevent it or act once it starts.
In terms of the beating the disabled child took, some have gone online suggesting the disabled child used the “n” word against the other student. But Diane Eastburn, the child’s advocate, said there were allegations tossed around but the school found through their investigations those allegations were false. Those comments appeared on the WDEL article that broke this story. Many have asked why the student who beat the child wasn’t expelled. Any school expulsion has to go through a school board. A school may suspend a student until the school board convenes to vote on that action item, but the school cannot expel a student. The student was arrested as per Fitzgerald’s statement today.
I have serious concerns with Fitzgerald putting in words that “The District will continue to work hard to insure the safety of our students.” How is it working hard if staff and administration don’t have the means to break up a fight? That cafeteria was filled with adults according to several sources. But in the video not one of them came over to the scene in the 30 seconds the fight took place. The high school does have a School Resource Officer, but the school cannot and should not rely on one person to break up a fight. It is a logistical nightmare. What comfort does this give to the parents of the beaten child? If I were them, I would see that as a slap in the face. Because their child needed medical attention while the adults watched.
This district has been in the spotlight this week, and not in a good way. I’ve written about Caesar Rodney School District more this week than I have my entire time blogging. And I’ve done this for well over three years now. One source, who wished to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation, said “This isn’t anything new. It is just boiling to the surface now.” Once you let the genie out of the bottle…
Delaware’s legislators have to find a way to make discipline issues more uniform throughout the state. They have to make sure there are proper methods for interventions before events like this erupt all over the news. It was a year and a half ago that Amy Joyner Francis was brutally murdered in a high school bathroom. We don’t need a repeat of that again. Fights will happen but I can’t help but think this district and our state could be doing a hell of a lot more to prevent them or act when they do.
In a week where Caesar Rodney has been inundated with bad news, from the custodian at Charlton sending explicit texts to a minor, to the Rider Mascot racial slur, and this fight, it is clear this district needs to think very carefully about what kind of message they are sending to parents. Their Board of Education needs to take a very clear look at these situations and not just brush them off. They need to come up with strategies and policies to tackle this in the best interests of students.
Many parents are wondering what is happening to students. Fights are getting more vicious. Racial tensions are building up in our state. But we have far too many adults in charge who seem oblivious to the realities on the ground. People are very sensitive today and our schools and leaders have to recognize this. They must come up with better ways to help students deal with our world. We can no longer let local control dictate what happens with school climate. We must have uniform policies, training, and resources in every single public school in this state. Parents or guardians must also help their children understand and cope with these issues as well. For those who say “it was like this when I was a kid”, maybe it was, but we have more resources and knowledge on how to deal with these situations now. We can’t live in bubbles. If we want to live in this world, we have to share it. And that means accepting others differences and helping others. The hate has to stop before it becomes an uncontrollable beast.
Caesar Rodney School District Superintendent Dr. Kevin Fitzgerald sent out an email and robo-call to parents and staff last evening about a racial epithet in connection with the Caesar Rodney mascot. It appears, based on Facebook comments on their Facebook page, that someone photo-shopped the racial slur on a sign the mascot was holding in a picture.
Many parents thanked the district for taking such swift action on the issue. The message sent out by Fitzgerald said the following:
STATEMENT FROM DR. FITZGERALD
The Caesar Rodney School District has been made aware of a picture that is being distributed through social media in which the Rider Mascot is holding a piece of paper with a racial slur.
The Caesar Rodney School District is distressed that our mascot would be used in such a manner and we strongly disavow the statement.
The Caesar Rodney School District and Caesar Rodney High School consider racial slurs reprehensible and are deeply disturbed by the content of this message.
We have zero tolerance for this behavior.
This matter is being investigated by the high school administration with the assistance of the Delaware State Police.
While I am a Dover High Senators fan, I do not condone this at all. As I wrote on CR’s Facebook page, if this was a joke it isn’t funny. If it was meant to be a hate symbol, may God have mercy on your soul. Bottom line, people need to wake up. It’s the 21st Century now. We aren’t supposed to be this backwards. But apparently some have not woken up from our country’s own dark history and think it is okay to call African-Americans by disparaging names. Frankly, I’ve had enough of hate and the talk that accompanies it. We saw the worst in hate last Sunday with the Las Vegas shootings. This is the kind of news I hate to write about.
One commenter suggested getting rid of the Rider Mascot for a while until feelings calm down. That is the absolute worst thing to do in my opinion. That lets whoever did this win. It’s like the old saying, “you don’t negotiate with terrorists”. You certainly don’t give in to hate!
Every year, the Caesar Rodney School District has a guest speaker at welcome back breakfast for teachers and staff. Usually, the guest speaker tells educators about all the things they should do in the upcoming year or sometimes it is past graduates who made it big, such as Duron Harmon from the New England Patriots. But this year’s guest speaker was a little bit different than past speakers. Continue reading
As Delaware Governor Markell went on his “common core” tour today at W. Reilly Brown Elementary School in the Caesar Rodney School District, he announced $400,000 in competitive grants going to 21 Delaware schools. The goal of these grants are professional development for teachers to further implement Common Core to increase student outcomes. And God wept…
Why is Jack Markell, with nine months left in his reign as Governor, doing this Common Core tour? Which company is paying him for this? What disgusts me is the way the Governor and the DOE lure teachers in by making it look like it is for them. How much professional development do teachers need? Let’s not forget the two purposes of this tour: to thank teachers for implementing Common Core and to “debunk” the myths surrounding it. You may fool some of our teachers and administrators Jack, but this is corporate tomfoolerty at its best. Far too many Delaware parents know better and you may have fooled us once, but not twice. As the state looks for funding, our districts will take any money they can get regardless of the cost to students. I will ask again Governor Markell: where are the funds for basic special education for students in Kindergarten to 3rd grade? Answer the question Jack!
This is, in my opinion, a strong push towards the blended/personalized learning the Rodel Foundation has pushed on Delaware the past couple years. The press release doesn’t even mention this, but events from last night suggest otherwise. Last night at the Capital Board meeting, their board unanimously voted to apply to BRINC, the blended learning consortium that already includes the Brandywine, Indian River, New Castle County Vo-Tech, Colonial, Red Clay, Appoquinimink and Caesar Rodney School Districts. Despite my public comment about the very obvious data privacy loopholes in existing law.
While student identifiable information doesn’t go out, it all filters through the Delaware DOE who simply gives education “research” companies the student’s identification number. When that information comes back, the DOE has all that data attached to a student’s identification number. As well, Schoology uses a cloud system called IMS that would allow any aggregate information through the Schoology application to be shared with their members. The Capital board seemed a little too eager to get this passed. At one point, Superintendent Dr. Dan Shelton didn’t know how much it would cost the district and it took him over fifteen minutes to find the information. The board discussed how it would be good professional development for teachers without talking about what it means for students or their personal data. Their CFO, Sean Sokolowski, said it would be paid for through Federal Consolidated Grants. Are these the same grants Markell announced today or are they separate? I would assume they are separate, but I’ve found many grants tend to have strings attached to them, just like the federal waiver scheme the US DOE abused under Race To The Top. As we rush headfirst into this personalized learning/competency-based education/career pathway future for our students, those in the power to question things are going along to get along. I can’t understand, for the life of me, why teachers are jumping on this bandwagon. This will eventually cause their job functions, as instructors, to diminish in the future. To the point where they will become “facilitators” instead of “instructors”. Does anyone think it is a coincidence paraprofessional salaries will eventually start at the same point as a first-year teacher in Delaware? Don’t believe me? Check out Governor Markell’s proposed FY2017 budget. Go to page 202 on the pdf, section 286. While many feel, and rightfully so, that paras in our schools are underpaid, should they be paid the same as a first-year teacher? If they performed the same job function…
I have not been too impressed with Caesar Rodney Superintendent Kevin Fitzgerald in the past year. He seems to have been sucked into the DOE/Markell/Rodel whirlpool of corporate education reform. You can read more on his role in today’s announcement below.
Just today, the National Education Policy Center issued a damning report on the success of blended and personalized learning schools and pointed out they are less successful than schools who don’t use these services. So if it is all about proficiency and increasing standardized test scores and growth, why are we pushing, as a state, a system that just isn’t working? Could it have anything to do with the billions of dollars companies are making off this smoke and mirrors? And how many of these companies are incorporated out of Wilmington, DE? As per the IMS article I linked to above, they are incorporated out of Delaware.
It is my opinion the Governor’s time could have been better spent heading to Wilmington to do more than issue a statement on the tragic and pointless death of a student at Howard High School today. His visit to W. Reilly Brown was at 11am, well after this hit the media today. As a state tries to understand the absolute horror that went on in that school today, our Governor is off playing corporate lap-dog for his education buddies. I will never understand that man.
Here is the DOE press release on these “grants”:
21 schools win professional learning grants
Delaware awarded 21 schools in seven school districts nearly $400,000 in competitive professional learning grants Thursday as the state moves toward professional learning tailored to individual school needs.
Governor Jack Markell announced the awards today during a visit with Secretary of Education Steve Godowsky to Caesar Rodney School District’s W. Reily Brown Elementary School in Dover. Five schools in the district won a combined $50,000.
“All educators deserve the opportunity to continuously improve their practice through their own initiative and through investments made in them by their schools, districts, and the state,” Markell said. “We must improve the quality and efficacy of professional learning for all educators in Delaware. To do this, we as a state need to support districts and schools in their promise to provide Delaware educators with ongoing, job-embedded professional learning that leads to real improvement for students.”
For the past three years, the Delaware Department of Education has provided state-led professional learning for school-based teams through the Common Ground for the Common Core program. Common Ground identified principals and teacher leaders, engaged them in deep practices around the standards and concepts and analyzed student work to determine how to target instruction in the classroom.
In year one, the focus of Common Ground was on the shifts under the then-new standards. In year two, the focus was on ensuring a balanced assessment system, and in year three, the initiative focused on targeted approaches to closing achievement gaps and deepening literacy in other content areas. Next year, the Reimagining Professional Learning grants will provide professional learning that continues to target the school level.
“A stable foundation has been built, and after three years of Common Ground, we now are incentivizing schools that are committed to continuing this important work while also strengthening the professional learning for their educators,” Godowsky said. “The grant applications of these 21 schools is a clear indication that they are ready to embrace this challenge.”
Godowsky said he is continuously impressed by the commitment of Delaware’s teachers and administrators and what they do every day and by what they plan to do with the Reimagining Professional Learning Grant: “Educators at all of these schools are looking at their data, lesson plans and structures so that they can reimagine the positive impact of professional learning for the benefits of their students.”
Each school designed professional learning to meet its staff’s needs. For example, at Brown, the grant will allow teachers to gather each month to plan and research a lesson. They will agree which team member will teach the lesson, and the lesson study team members will observe the lesson, collect data on teacher actions and student responses. Through using lesson studies, educators will collaborate and focus on the impact of this training on teacher practice and student learning.
The funding will make a difference in other ways across the state from Bunker Hill Elementary’ s focus on inquiry learning in the Appoquinimink School District to Milford School District’s emphasis on teacher leadership through cross-district work with all elementary schools and the early childhood center. In New Castle County Vo-Tech’s St. Georges High School, there will be a school-wide focus on speaking and listening with strong professional learning communities to sustain a cycle of improvement for both teachers and students. In Colonial, school and district leaders evaluated curriculum, structures and teacher and student needs to develop a comprehensive plan with regular coaching and feedback from administrators, teachers and students.
“Educators at these schools not only looked at their data but studied their structures and developed plans to reimagine professional learning that they will tie to student outcomes,” said Michael Watson, the department’s chief academic officer.
Kevin Fitzgerald, superintendent of the Caesar Rodney School District, said he appreciates the state’s commitment to support school-led professional learning.
“This is a perfect partnership between the state, the district and the teachers and school leaders who work closest with our children and know best how to deliver these college- and career-ready standards.”
The winners are:
· Appoquinimink School District (Bunker Hill Elementary): $30,000
· Capital School District (Central Middle, Henry Middle, Dover High): $90,000
· Caesar Rodney School District (Brown Elementary, Frear Elementary, McIllvaine Early Childhood, Simpson Elementary, Stokes Elementary): $50,000
· Colonial School District (Eisenberg Elementary, Gunning Bedford Middle, George Read Middle, McClullough Middle, William Penn High, Wilmington Manor Elementary): $90,000
· Milford School District (Banneker Elementary, Mispillion Elementary, Morris Early Childhood, Ross Elementary): $90,000
· New Castle County Vo-Tech School District (St. Georges High): $30,000
· Smyrna School District (Smyrna High): $20,000