After weeks of work, all of the Delaware Public Education salaries over $100,000 have been posted with a few exceptions. Those are four charter schools who either did not respond or will in the next couple of days. But there is more than enough data to make some sense out of all this. Many asked why I was posting these. There were several reasons: requests, comparisons, money tracking, and general curiosity. But the main reason was to see if I could answer the age-old question- “Are there too many administrators?” Finally, I am prepared to answer that. Continue reading “Delaware Public Education Salaries Over $100,000: Rankings, Student Cost, Ratios, $$$ Totals, & Synopsis”
This is very big. The United States Department of Education ruled on a Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) complaint in favor of a parent about opting their child out of education technology in the classroom. They went a step further and told the school they had to provide an alternative to the ed-tech as well.
The letter, sent to Agora Cyber Charter School in King of Prussia, PA, came out on November 2nd, 2017 (see below). It ruled the school violated FERPA by denying the parent’s request for their child not to use the ed-tech from K12 Inc. due to their terms of service. K12 could not make sure the information in their application would not go out to third parties. The parent filed a complaint five years ago. The US DOE letter said the charter school could not make this a condition of enrollment for the cyber charter school.
I would caution every single school in America that utilizes ed-tech in the classroom to make sure they are in compliance with this ruling!
I’ve been looking for a common thread in everything I’ve written about what is taking place in Delaware education. One person, so deeply embedded in the forces that are privatizing public education before our very eyes. I believe I found it. A common link to the initiatives taking place. The Public/Private partnerships. Workforce Development. The Delaware Business Roundtable and the Delaware Chamber of Commerce. The Rodel/Vision Coalition. Personalized Learning. The philanthropic ventures into public education. Pathways to Prosperity. I believe I just found the most powerful person in Delaware who is calling ALL the shots. And most of you have probably never even heard the name. Continue reading “Is This The Guy Pulling Carney’s Strings?”
Ever since Regulation 225 hit the Delaware Registrar of Regulations, I’ve been scratching my head over it. I’ve gone back and forth on it a few dozen times. To be crystal clear, I support any anti-discrimination measure for ANY student. No questions asked. Some of the Facebook comments I’ve seen from some who oppose the bill are filled with hate and misunderstanding. I’ve wondered what the purpose behind all this was, and today I may have received an answer. Continue reading “Is Regulation 225 A Union-Busting Measure? Know When You Are Being Used!”
Delaware Governor John Carney released a statement about his meeting with the Christina School District Board of Education last evening. I felt obligated to give it the TC Redline Edition. In which I give a no-holds barred critique of Carney’s boneheaded idea.
Governor Carney to Christina Board: Let’s Partner to Improve Wilmington Schools
Date Posted: Tuesday, October 3rd, 2017
WILMINGTON, Del. – Governor John Carney on Tuesday met with the Christina Board of Education during a study session at Bancroft Elementary School to discuss a proposed partnership between the state and Christina School District to more effectively serve educators and students in Christina schools in the City of Wilmington.
I have to give kudos to Carney for actually attending and meeting with the Board. However, that does not excuse the backdoor closed meetings he had with two of their board members over the summer.
Governor John Carney
Full remarks to Christina School District Board of Education – October 3, 2017
*As prepared for delivery
Thank Rick Gregg, members of the Board, Principals, teachers, parents and others present.
Proper thing to do when you are in their house so to speak.
I’m here with Secretary of Education Susan Bunting and Dorrell Green. I appreciate the opportunity to address the Board in this workshop format.
They would be the ones to also be there. Was anyone else there? Perhaps your Education Policy Advisor, Jon Sheehan?
I’ve lived in this city for 30 years. And it’s always been clear to me that as goes the City of Wilmington, so goes our state.
I respect that Wilmington is the biggest city in the state and it is essentially the gateway to the rest of it, but the rest of the state has a lot to offer. Perhaps Wilmington wouldn’t be in the shape it is in if the state didn’t keep trying to put all its eggs in one basket when there are hundreds of others as well. We get you’ve lived in this city for 30 years. It’s all we heard from you when you were campaigning for Governor. But you had many years at a Federal level to do more for Wilmington. What did you do for Wilmington when you were in Congress?
Wilmington is our economic and cultural center. Its success in many ways will drive Delaware’s long-term success. And so we need a city that is safe, with strong neighborhoods and good schools. We’re working with Mayor Purzycki, legislators, members of city council, businesses and the community service agencies to achieve these goals.
And yet we continue to see murders and violent crimes constantly. All we hear from political leaders is “we’re working with…”. That doesn’t solve the problem. Action does and I have yet to see true action being taken to reduce those crimes and rampant drug use.
Our efforts have to start with improving our schools, and doing a better job educating city children.
No, your efforts have to start with improving the climate of Wilmington.
One of the first things I did when I took office was ask Secretary Bunting to visit Wilmington schools.
Which she did.
I joined her on some of these visits. And while we certainly saw dedicated teachers and principals, what we saw by and large was very discouraging.
Let me guess: you saw children with hygiene issues and worn clothing. You saw a look in their eyes you couldn’t really understand. It tugged at your heartstrings and thought, “I will be the one to fix this.”
And when the proficiency scores for these schools were released this summer, we saw that they fell well short of what’s acceptable.
Here we go… the test scores. For a flawed test. In most schools, anything below a 65% is failing. For Smarter Balanced, the whole state is failing. Is that the fault of teachers and students or the test itself. Don’t answer, we already know.
All of us, together, are responsible for doing better.
We can always do better, but don’t put the blame on all of us Governor Carney. The buck stops with you. While you inherited many of these issues from your predecessors, you are falling into the same traps.
It was pretty clear to us that Christina’s portion of the City schools – Bayard, Stubbs, Bancroft, Palmer, and Pulaski – are in the most need of help.
Was it only a year ago that the state refused to step in when Pulaski had all the mold issues? It is great that you visit these schools but what have you done to make life outside of these schools better? These are the schools with the highest concentrations of low-income and poverty students.
Already we have taken steps that, I believe, will help our efforts in all city schools.
And how many of those were created by you with no public input. How many of those efforts involved back-door secret meetings? Once again, don’t answer. We know the score.
We opened the Office of Innovation and Improvement at the Department of Education, to focus state energy on these and other high-needs schools.
Ah, yes. Your attempt at “reducing” the Delaware DOE. By making a satellite office in Wilmington.
We created an Opportunity Grants program that, while not funded at the level that I want, will help identify proven practices for serving disadvantaged students.
Don’t even get me started on that failure of a FY2018 budget Carney. You put aside a million bucks while cutting exponentially more. That does not serve disadvantaged students. It is a Band-Aid on an infected wound.
We put basic needs closets in Wilmington schools, so students can have access to hygiene products, school supplies, and winter clothing, in a dignified way.
Now this I do support and continue to do so.
We’ve reestablished the Family Services Cabinet Council to better coordinate services to families and children, and to address issues of poverty that are impeding the success of our city children.
Closed-door, non-public, back-door meetings. We have no idea what this council discusses. For something you like to scream from the rooftops about, we have no clue what they talk about. Put your money where your mouth is and make these meetings public. Otherwise, this is smoke and mirrors.
But we need to do much, much more, and that’s why I’m here today.
Every time the state tries to fix these issues, the problems get worse. I have to wonder if that is intentional.
We didn’t get here over night. And we could spend all day debating the reasons for how we got here. I know a lot of that history through my father who worked in the old Wilmington Public School District and through my many years in state government.
Yes, why debate how we got there. Because until you take a deep dive at those reasons, you will never understand. You can’t ignore things that come into schools. But I digress…
Some blame a lack of resources. Dysfunctional families. Inexperienced teachers. Weak leadership. Busing. Trauma in the home. Segregated neighborhoods. Too much testing. Not enough testing. Bad parenting. Education bureaucracy. Violence in the city.
I agree with some of these: a lack of resources, dysfunctional families, weak leadership (some from CSD in the past and definitely from the state), busing, trauma in the home, segregated neighborhoods, too much testing, bad parenting, education bureaucracy, violence in the city. I don’t see the inexperienced teachers (except for the TFAers who get their rush-job credentials in a matter of months) and not enough testing.
Over the last few years the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission (WEIC) did a comprehensive study of the challenges, and came up with a plan to make changes. We’ve incorporated many of their recommendations into what I’m about to discuss.
In other words, you are copying the work done from others for your own political benefit.
It’s clear to me that the most important thing we should do now is focus on making changes that will raise achievement levels for city children. That’s part of my responsibility as Governor, Dr. Bunting’s job as Secretary of Education and your jobs as school leaders and Christina Board members. We’re in this together.
Together? Are you kidding me? For months you’ve been circling the wagons and cherry-picking people to talk to about the “Christina problem”. Divide and conquer. That’s what I see. Not getting that warm and fuzzy feeling I felt at your inauguration Carney…
I’m here today, at the invitation of your Superintendent, because I want to partner with you to say “enough.” I believe it’s time to begin intensive efforts to get our teachers, principals and students what they need in the classroom.
Knowing Rick Gregg like I do, I believe he invited you because he was getting tired of your secret meetings and wanted to make it a public event so people can see what the hell you are up to. I think it’s high time Christina said “enough” with the endless interventions from the state that have been compete and utter failures.
To that end, I’m proposing that the State, Christina School District, and Christina Education Association form a partnership that focuses exclusively on Christina’s city schools.
You and your damn partnerships. Let’s be partners. Public-private partnerships. In other words, let’s do as much as we can behind closed doors and throw transparency out the window.
My vision is to spend the next few months talking as a group about what this partnership would look like, so that by the end of this calendar year we can sign a memorandum of understanding to work together to improve these city schools and the proficiency of the students. I want to be ready to put our new plans into effect by the start of the 2018 school year. This aligns with your Superintendent’s timetable for implementing change as well.
When I hear Memorandum of Understanding, I hear priority schools all over again. Who is your Penny Schwinn that is facilitating this? How much state money will be spent trying to craft this MOU for months? Cause I published all the emails where Schwinn painstakingly tried to make the MOU from the Fall of 2014. And that was based on Delaware’s clueless interpretation of their own ESEA Flexibility Waivers. Schwinn did everything she could to make sure it was six Wilmington schools within Christina and Red Clay. Definitely Markell’s biggest failure.
I think our partnership should address five main issues that I’ve heard over and over again as I’ve toured schools in Wilmington.
Who is telling you these things you’ve heard “over and over”? Let me guess: Senator Sokola, Rep. Jaques, Rodel, Atrne Alleyne, Michael Watson, Donna Johnson, Jon Sheehan, Kendall Massett, Greg Meece, etc.
First, principals need more control over key decisions in their schools. I would like to work with you to give principals the leadership tools they need and the flexibility and autonomy over structural areas such as staffing/hiring, school schedules, and programs. To give them the resources to implement extended learning time, and to create other school conditions necessary to best meet student needs. As part of this partnership, the Office of Innovation and Improvement would work with principals and our institutions of higher education to provide principals with high quality professional learning, coaching, and support. The Department of Education, using state resources, would assist Christina School District in training principals to better use observations to provide effective feedback that will elevate instruction.
Gee, that sounds an awful lot like the “empowerment zones” in Springfield, MA.
Second, educators in high-needs schools need more say in how resources are used. I plan to engage Christina’s city educators to ensure we are working in partnership with them, as they are on the ground every day working to improve student outcomes. I would like to work with you to empower teacher-leader teams at each school to partner with school administration on key decisions like working conditions, resource use, and school culture. The Office of Innovation and Improvement would work with our institutions of higher education and use the full expertise of the Department of Education to provide educators with professional learning that is relevant, consistent, and meaningful.
In other words, more useless programs through TFA, The Leader In Me, and other cash-cow Crackerjack box outfits that will happily take state money to “fix” the problems. And that “full expertise of the Department of Education”… are you serious? How many of these “experts” at the DOE have actually taught in these classrooms? How many came up the ranks from TFA or the charter world?
Third, we need to address the fact that student achievement rates at Christina’s Wilmington schools are among the lowest in the state. In partnership with DSEA and CEA, I want to create more flexibility for these schools to provide students with additional learning time, including vacation and weekend academies. Teachers would receive stipends for additional hours worked, supported by state funds and the redeployment of district resources. I would argue serious conversations, in partnership with the Christina Wilmington community, need to take place around building use. We are doing our students, educators, and taxpayers a disservice when we have half-empty school buildings — needlessly spreading resources thin.
Maybe if the state stopped intervening in Christina, stopped pumping up charter schools like they are the greatest thing since sliced bread, and stopped calling Christina a failure, those buildings wouldn’t be half full. The state created most of this mess by authorizing so many damn charters up there. This is where you are assuming DSEA and CEA are on board with your half-cocked plan. You are seriously messing with collective bargaining agreements here. Vacation and weekend academies? When do these kids get a break? Are you going to churn and burn them until they score proficient on the useless Smarter Balanced Assessment?
Fourth, we need a plan to address the significant trauma students in Wilmington experience outside the classroom. I’m proud of the work already underway between the Office of Innovation and Improvement, DSEA, the Office of the Child Advocate, and community leaders to train staff to create trauma-informed classrooms. We need to double down on those efforts. I have already directed the Family Services Cabinet Council to work with City leaders to implement the CDC report, including finding a way to share data across state agencies about students in need. That work is under way.
How about thanking the Christina teachers who spend every single day dealing with trauma first-hand? The ones who wash kids clothes, make sure they have food for the weekend, and help students deal with the latest murder that happened in their neighborhood? You are all about the kudos before anything happens while failing to properly thank those on the ground floor. And what will the closed-door Family Services Cabinet Council do with all this data that tells us what we have always known? Let’s get real Carney: until you fix the crime, violence, and rampant drug use in Wilmington, these problems will always exist. Until you find a way to desegregate the charter schools that cherry-pick students and put every single Delaware school back in balance with their local neighborhoods, these efforts will fail.
Finally, we need to build systems to create meaningful, sustained change in Christina’s Wilmington schools. As part of a partnership with you, the Family Services Cabinet Council would launch a two-generation network to support infants, toddlers and adults, with the goal of breaking the cycle of generational poverty. Additionally, we ought to convene higher education institutions and create a pipeline to develop teachers and leaders ready to enter into our Wilmington schools. These efforts cannot be a flash in the pan. We need to methodically build systems that will endure.
Are you saying the teachers in these schools aren’t ready? That they can’t handle the trauma they deal with every single day? There is nothing any higher education institution can do to adequately deal with these issues until the state takes an active hand in dealing with the issues coming into the classroom. And Wilmington City Council needs to get their heads out of their ass and deal with the corruption going on there before they enter into any “partnership”. Once again, make your beloved Family Services Cabinet Council public. This whole thing reeks of non-transparency and I’m getting sick of that.
Give principals a bigger say. Trust and support our teachers. Tackle low proficiency rates. Address trauma. Build systems. That’s what I propose we work on together.
You will never trust and support our teachers while they are under local control. Never. You want to mold them and cherry-pick them to serve the latest corporate education reform scheme. The best way to tackle low proficiency rates is to get rid of Smarter Balanced and stop judging schools, teachers, and districts based on meaningless and useless test scores. These misused and abused scores are just one of the reasons why I advocate parents opting their kids out of the state assessments. Addressing trauma is one thing but finding a way to actively eliminate it is the true hurdle and I don’t think you have the money, resources, or guts to do that. Working together doesn’t require a contract like an MOU. That is a gun to the head and we all know it. You are seriously overreaching here with your executive power here Carney and you need to slow your roll.
The partnership I’m proposing isn’t flashy. It’s not an education fad or sound bite. It’s about the nuts and bolts of educating children. It is a simple but intense effort to put the focus where I think it belongs — in the classroom.
This isn’t about kids at all. It’s about different ed reform companies lobbying through Jon Sheehan to get their latest programs or technology into the classroom. And you fell for it hook, line and sinker.
Frederick Douglass said that “it’s easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” And that’s the choice we’re facing. We all have dreams for our children. But right now, we’re consigning far too many of our students to a life that no parent wants for their child. Every student we graduate who can’t do basic math or who can’t read or write, we’re sending into the world knowing he or she doesn’t have the tools to succeed. Doors are closing for these children before they even leave the third grade.
For the most part, the state created the conditions which led to these broken men. Through very racist laws and credos. The state allowed this to happen and now they want to rush in and save the day by fixing the schools. What about all these broken men? What are you doing to make restitution for the state’s absolute failure with them?
I believe, and I know you do too, that it would be immoral to let this situation continue this way.
Don’t speak for the Christina Board of Education Carney! It would be immoral for this board to give up local control so you can make education companies happy. How about you let Christina School District, under the leadership of Superintendent Rick Gregg and their elected Board of Education, do their thing. I like Gregg. I think he is the leader Christina needs. But your swooping in and undermining the hard work he has done is an insult at best.
So I’m asking you to form this partnership with us. Let’s take the next few months and work out the details. I’d like to hear your thoughts on what I’ve laid out, and on how you think we can work together.
I have to listen to the audio when it comes out today, but based upon reading the News Journal article on this last night by Jessica Bies, board member Liz Paige said it best:
Elizabeth Paige said the plan lacked specificity, but that she was willing to talk more as long as the state could guarantee they weren’t going to pull the infamous Charlie Brown football gag on Christina.
“We’re Charlie Brown and the football,” she said. “He has to prove he’s not Lucy.”
Don’t be fooled Mrs. Paige. He is most definitely Lucy!
Board member John Young gave Carney’s remarks at B+. I think he was being nice.
Harrie-Ellen Minnehan spoke the hard truth:
Harrie Ellen Minnehan said that students are often used as “political pawns” and that the plan sounded too much like just another in a long string of political solutions imposed on the education system but that have resulted in no gain whatsoever for students caught in a downward academic spiral.
The Christina Board of Education is at their best when they are fighting the latest state method of eroding local control. I saw this firsthand at the first Christina board meeting I went to in September of 2014. When they stood together and gave Markell’s priority schools idea a collective no thank you. I am hoping they do the same with this latest Markellian effort by Carney.
As for Dorrell Green, his quote in the News Journal is very concerning because it gives a good deal of insight into Carney’s plan:
“Do you feel you have the bandwidth or the internal capacity to see that plan through without our support?”
This was in response to Superintendent Gregg’s own plan to build up Christina. It as if Green was saying “You can’t do anything without the state helping out.” Which is exactly what the problem is here. The state interferes so much that it paralyzes the district. The state needs to do more on the side of fixing the crime and poverty in Wilmington. Let Christina deal with Christina. If the state wants to “partner” under forced coercion, that is bullying. Christina needs to enact a zero tolerance policy on state bullying. And just by using the word “bandwidth”, Green may have overplayed his hand. By using that particular word, he is suggesting Christina will get better by more corporate education reform double-speak education technology.
I have to give it to Carney. He has successfully learned how to play the field like Jack Markell did. He certainly has been busy trying to hand-select his pawns with this attempt. And yet he gave the farm away when he announced his trip to Springfield, MA on his public schedule. I didn’t see any of that in your speech. It’s like a super villain in a comic announcing their intentions before they even implement them. Look what I’m about to do. We see through you Carney. Stop listening to those around you who truly don’t have a clue about what is really going on. Otherwise you are just another Jack Markell. Be your own man, not a carbon-copy.
Don’t think for one minute that I don’t understand you Carney. I know about some of your antics with things lately. I know you hate my blog and will cast out those who support it. We both know exactly what I’m talking about. We know you have heard objections to this Christina scheme and totally ignored them. In fact, you punish those who don’t agree with you. You aren’t the person you put in front of the media. Who is the real John Carney? Time to take off the mask and reveal the true John Carney. We both know when this plan fails (and it will if implemented), the state will continue to blame Christina for their own failure and will embark on another scheme to “fix” the problem they create in the first place.
The National Education Policy Center at the University of Colorado issued a very damning report on the commercialization of America’s public schools as digital technology and “personalized learning” continue taking over our schools. The report, issued today, shows how private companies have invaded the classroom and children’s private information is in jeopardy like never before. Here in Delaware, we have seen a very large push for this from the Rodel Foundation. If you haven’t been paying attention, you really need to start now. And don’t buy their Social-Emotional Learning push either. Just another way for private companies to profit from student data. From the press release:
BOULDER, CO (August 15, 2017) – Digital technologies used in schools are increasingly being harnessed to amplify corporate marketing and profit-making and extend the reach of commercializing activities into every aspect of students’ school lives. In addition to the long-standing goal of providing brand exposure, marketing through education technology now routinely engages students in activities that facilitate the collection of valuable personal data and that socialize students to accept relentless monitoring and surveillance as normal, according to a new report released by the National Education Policy Center.
In Asleep at the Switch: Schoolhouse Commercialism, Student Privacy, and the Failure of Policymaking, the NEPC’s 19th annual report on schoolhouse commercialism trends, University of Colorado Boulder researchers Faith Boninger, Alex Molnar and Kevin Murray examine how technological advances, the lure of “personalization,” and lax regulation foster the collection of personal data and have overwhelmed efforts to protect children’s privacy. They find that for-profit entities are driving an escalation of reliance on education technology with the goal of transforming public education into an ever-larger profit center—by selling technology hardware, software, and services to schools; by turning student data into a marketable product; and by creating brand-loyal customers.
Boninger points out that “policymaking to protect children’s privacy or to evaluate the quality of the educational technology they use currently ranges from inadequate to nonexistent.”
“Schools and districts are paying huge sums of money to private vendors and creating systems to transfer vast amounts of children’s personal information to education technology companies,” explains Molnar. “Education applications, especially applications that ‘personalize’ student learning, are powered by proprietary algorithms, without anyone monitoring how student data are being collected or used.”
Asleep at the Switch documents the inadequacy of industry self-regulation and argues that to protect children’s privacy and the quality of their education, legislators and policymakers need to craft clear policies backed by strong, enforceable sanctions. Such policies should:
- Prohibit schools from collecting student personal data unless rigorous, easily understood safeguards for the appropriate use, protection, and final disposition of those data are in place.
- Hold schools, districts, and companies with access to student data accountable for violations of student privacy.
- Require algorithms powering education software to be openly available for examination by educators and researchers.
- Prohibit adoption of educational software applications that rely on algorithms unless a disinterested third party has examined the algorithms for bias and error, and unless research has shown that the algorithms produce intended results.
- Require independent third-party assessments of the validity and utility of technologies, and the potential threats they pose to students’ well-being, to be conducted and addressed prior to adoption.
Additionally, the report authors encourage parents, teachers, and administrators to publicize the threats that unregulated educational technologies pose to children and the importance of allowing disinterested monitors access to the algorithms powering educational software.
Find Asleep at the Switch: Schoolhouse Commercialism, Student Privacy, and the Failure of Policymaking, by Faith Boninger, Alex Molnar, and Kevin Murray, on the web at:
The Parent Coalition for Student Privacy and the Coalition for a Commercial-Free Childhood released their Parent Toolkit for Student Privacy on May 16th. Full disclaimer, I actively participate and sometimes contribute to discussion surround student data privacy with the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy.
As our schools dive into more and more digital technology in classrooms, many parents have seen things that disturb them. Is our children’s data protected? Not as much as you think it might be. The laws surrounding student data privacy are filled with loopholes and confusing wording. It is more imperative than ever that parents wake up to this new reality facing their children.
To that end, I highly praise this report and believe every single school, state agency involving education, and any organization around education should give this to every single parent. Opting out is NOT just about standardized tests, it is also about unwelcome intrusions into things about our children that, frankly, are nobody’s business.
Once upon a holiday season, in the land of Delaware, there lived a man who would become Governor. He was promised the throne eight years ago, but another man took his seat. In this land, the people chose their Governor every four years. The man who would be Governor finally won the seat and 58.34% of the people rejoiced. As he sat in his car one day after returning from his job in D.C., he looked out the window. He saw the sun setting in the distance.
John was anxious to get things going in Delaware. He had to officially wait until January 17th, 2017. “Only 47 days,” John said to himself. He had been so busy for so long. Things wouldn’t slow down for him in the next four years, and hopefully the four after that. His day was filled with phone calls, texts, and emails. Everyone wanted a piece of Delaware. He knew not everyone could get a piece. He called his wife from the driveway and told her he was going to go for a walk to clear his head. Always supportive, she knew John needed this and told him to take all the time he needed. John drove to the nearby park. As he walked out of his car, he put on his hat. It was rare he could get away from his security detail but at the same time he didn’t want to be bothered. John walked down the trail…
Meanwhile, 3,529.75 miles away, the jolly one was settling into his favorite chair. The elves were busy preparing for the big day. Santa was happy he had an extra day to prepare this year. As a tradition, during these leap years, he would pick one day off each leap year to do whatever he wanted. Mrs. Claus always forgot about it, but Santa didn’t. Today was his day off! Santa picked up his laptop and on his favorites bar was the website he enjoyed going to the most: Exceptional Delaware. Ever since Santa learned about Common Core and opt out, he found himself checking back in to see what was happening with the children of Delaware and the rest of the country. Santa was not happy when he found out what happened a few weeks after Christmas earlier this year. The people of Delaware wanted the lawmakers to override Governor Jack’s veto of the opt out bill, but it got hung up in some silly rule business. He knew exactly which of those lawmakers would be getting coal this year, led by their Speaker and the leaders below him. Santa heard there was a new Governor in Delaware so he decided he would pay him a visit. While he didn’t usually venture so far south during the busy month, it was his day off and he could do whatever he wanted. At least the things Mrs. Claus wouldn’t have cause to file for divorce over.
As hard as he tried, John couldn’t stop thinking about his plans. He didn’t count on the new President actually winning the election. All his plans were contingent on the Hill winning. But the Tower Man won and he had to plan around it. The Tower Man was picking people who John couldn’t picture running things down in D.C. His office was frantic over the mess. John had to strategize very carefully how he moved forward with everything. Not only did the Tower Man win, but the two bodies of Congress won a majority in the election as well. John’s Delaware was still blue, but a shocking election there threatened to turn the Delaware Senate red too. The state he was to lead had some peculiar problems in it and at the top of that list was the economy and education. Governor Jack treated the two as if they were symbiotic with each other and made some poor choices along the way. John knew if he was going to improve both he would have to find a way to draw everyone in. It was a difficult maze and John knew he wouldn’t please everyone. Governor Jack chose a particular route but John knew if he did the same it would not be good.
Santa knew John’s mind was heavy. As his sleigh crossed the border between Pennsylvania and Delaware, Santa could feel the weight on John’s shoulders. Leadership always carries a heavy burden. Santa knew that better than anyone. Santa knew John ever since he was a little boy. He always knew John would become a leader. John didn’t have the same political sharpness so many politicians had but this also made him more relatable to the people. He watched John’s humble beginnings in the town of Claymont. Carney was one of those tough kids who excelled in football which helped him out at St. Mark’s High School and then Dartmouth College. Santa remembers John’s awards. As John was teaching freshmen football at the University of Delaware, he was also studying public administration. From there, John began his political career working for the county he lived in and then for Governor Tom. From there, John’s political ladder kept getting bigger and bigger. He became the Lieutenant Governor for eight years and decided to run for Governor. But the future “education” Governor Jack beat him in a close race. Others told Jack to wait his turn, it was John’s turn, but Jack ignored them. A couple of years later, John ran for Congress and won. For six years, having to run every two years for a total of three Congressional terms, John worked in D.C. and learned how the game of politics really works. But he never gave up on getting back to Delaware to win as Governor. After Governor Jack was expected to end his tenure, many thought Vice-President Joe’s son Beau would run, but tragically Beau passed away after a long illness. It was then that John decided he would run but wished it had been under better circumstances.
John walked down the path. There was a crisp wind in the air but the moon was bright. He used to walk down this path many times. It hadn’t changed much over time and he remembered it like the back of his hand. John tripped on a branch and fell to the ground. As he looked up, he saw a bright light in the sky above him. A voice cried out “John, we need to talk.” John reached for his phone but he had left it in the car. He thought to himself, “This is it, all alone in the woods with no one to help.” He began to picture the headline in the News Journal the next day. “Who are you?” John asked. “Someone you haven’t thought about in a long time John.” Santa gracefully landed the sleigh on the path in front of John. His lights were still on so John couldn’t tell who it was. “I do have security watching me right now. They are watching you right now. So I wouldn’t try anything They will find you if anything happens to me.” “No they won’t,” Santa said. “Remember you let all of them have the night off and you so conveniently told each one there was coverage?” John wondered how this guy would know that. “It’s me, John. Santa.”
John couldn’t believe his eyes. As a child, he always believed. But as children grew older, that magic disappeared. John saw Santa everywhere this time of year. He began seeing him in stores as early as October. But it wasn’t the same as the man who just walked off a sleigh that came down in the middle of the woods. John took that early childhood magic for granted, as every adult does. John wondered what in the world Santa Claus wanted with him. Did he visit all the new leaders? “John,” Santa said, “We have to talk about the kids. Come with me.” John felt the world spin beneath him. Santa’s words captured him. They weren’t words demanding John obey him, but those of comfort and a calm John hadn’t felt for a long time. John looked at his watch. It was 6:30pm.
Santa and John got in the sleigh. The reindeer, who John hadn’t noticed before, began running down the path. John felt the sleigh lift up into the December night. “John, did you read my letter last year?” Santa asked. John read letters every day. There were some days he couldn’t remember what he had for breakfast he was so busy. John shook his head. “Did you send it to me?” John asked. He knew he probably had not seen it unless it was an issue of critical importance. He was sure if one of his staffers opened it and saw a letter from Santa Claus it would go in the circular bin next to their desk. “No, I let Exceptional Delaware put it up. I thought everyone in Delaware reads it.” That was a name John was familiar with the past six months. The blogger. “You mean the crazy education blogger from Dover? That guy wants to meet with me but I don’t know…” Santa abruptly interrupted John “Watch yourself,” Santa warned. “I have the utmost respect for the blogger. He helped me out last year and he knows what he is talking about.” John responded to Santa. “But he tends to tick off a lot of people. People I’m going to have to work with. I was warned to stay away from him.” Santa’s eyes widened. “Oh really? Would that have been Senator So-coal-A,” Santa carefully empathized. “And all those other adults who don’t have the first clue about what education really is? Let me tell you something John. You will be a leader of Delaware. Any state has a foundation from which it must build on. That foundation is the kids. Not the adults, and especially not the adults who try to make money and get power from kids. There are those out there who will pretend to speak the truth. You surround yourself with them. But there are those who speak uncomfortable truths that people don’t always want to hear. But they do so out of an innate need for change, in the hopes someone with the ability to hear will actually listen.”
John was familiar with what was going on in education. He was told of the long-range plans and how education would be reformed so all kids can succeed. The children would be trained to become the workforce of tomorrow. As he began his campaign, he knew many people in Delaware were hurting. When he ran for Governor the first time, the economy of the whole country was collapsing. Even though Delaware recovered from this, not all of the citizens did. Some never got the jobs back that made them more money. The cities were becoming too violent again. Drug use was up and children were getting shot in the street. But still, Delaware did the one thing it knows how to do best- spend money. John knew all that money wasn’t going to the right places. He also knew that when he became the leader he would have to fix a lot of these problems. Many of his advisors told him that education was going to fix all these problems. Not now, but down the road. But if he didn’t help follow the same paths Governor Jack made, nothing would ever get fixed. This was happening all over the country. There were critics, like the damn blogger, but they were just a whisper in the wind. They didn’t see the big picture and how this was for the good of the state and the country.
“Santa, where are we going?” John asked. “To see the children John.”
“Uhm, Santa. We are flying into downtown Wilmington. No offense sir, but I can’t be seen riding around in a sleigh with someone people don’t believe in along with eight reindeer.” Santa pulled out a pouch from his pocket. “Thanks for reminding me John, I almost forgot.” Santa took out a handful of dust and blew it all around him and John. “They won’t see us now.” Santa parked the sleigh on top of the Community Education Building. The duo went down through the building and to the streets below. They walked over to the playground next to the building.
In a dark corner, an African-American boy was reading with a flashlight. The boy was shivering as he turned a page. “Why is this boy out here Santa? Why doesn’t he go home?” Santa sighed. “This is his home John. He lives on the streets. During the really cold months he goes to a shelter with his aunt. She is at work right now.” John saw a grocery cart a few feet away from the boy. Covering it was a blue tarp. John could see some clothes in there and a few boxes. As John looked away for a moment in horror, he saw a hypodermic needle on the ground. The boy was reading a worn-out copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone with a flashlight between his yellow teeth. He saw the boy lift a crumpled up bag out of his coat pocket. The boy began eating the few crumbs left in the bag of potato chips. Santa told John about how his father went to prison a few years ago. He belonged to one of the gangs. During a shoot-out in front of their apartment building, a bullet missed hitting the boy but instead lodged itself in his mother’s brain. He told John this is the first thing the boy sees when he wakes up in the morning and the last thing he sees at night. “Come on John, we have more stops to make tonight.” John walked to the sleigh but kept looking back at the boy.
Santa and John flew once more into the night. It was very quiet between them. They landed in a very wealthy neighborhood with mansions all around them. John wasn’t sure if he had been on this street when he was campaigning. Many houses were decked out in Christmas lights and he even saw Santas made up in lights. “This is never what Christmas was supposed to be John,” as Santa looked down at his belly. They got out of the sleigh and went into one of the houses. A girl was on her computer playing the latest version of Minecraft. Her mom asked her if she finished her homework. “I sure did,” the girl said. “You can check it on Schoology.” “Did you finish all the stuff on iReady?” the mother asked. “Yes Mom,” as the girl rolled her eyes. She had just finished eating the steak and shrimp but she was still hungry. “Can you turn the heat down Mom?” she yelled. As her hand grabbed the ice cream bowl, Santa and John left. As Sarah pulled the spoon to her mouth, she wondered if she had to be at the school in her cheerleader’s outfit by 9am tomorrow or 9:15.
They flew down to Georgetown. John was last there on Return Day in November. All the candidates who run for office, whether they win or not, participate in this event to “bury the hatchet”. But they flew away from the town to a trailer park. Inside, a Hispanic girl was kicking a ball around with her little brother. A man came into the room. “Hicerion sus deberes?” the man asked. “No podríamos papá. No sabíamos lo que significaban las palabras,” the boy answered. The man watched as his children did what they do after school almost every day. Kicking around the same ball. “Sorry Santa, my Spanish is very rusty. What did they say?” John asked. “The father asked if his children did their homework. They couldn’t because they can’t read the words. They don’t know English very well. They know enough for very basic things, but not enough to learn what they need to know. Their mother is still at the chicken farm working her shift. One of them always has to be with the kids. They aren’t here legally. The father is afraid all the time that his kids will be taken from him and he and his wife will have to go back to their country. He doesn’t know English at all.”
John felt his mind stir as they flew north. He was very troubled by what he saw. When he was campaigning, he tended to see the best of Delaware. In the daylight or early evening when many of his “Meet and Chews” with people were attended by those who had the means and the desire to see him. When he went to schools, he could tell the kids were on their best behavior because “an important man” was coming to visit. He didn’t see people in their homes or on the streets the way he did tonight. He felt uncomfortable, like he was seeing a side of the world he heard about but didn’t see first-hand. “Santa, I should really be getting back. It’s getting late and my wife is probably worrying about me.” Santa laughed so hard the sleigh shook. “Look at your watch John. What time is it?” John looked at his watch in bewilderment. It was still 6:30pm. No time had passed since he first got in the sleigh with Santa back on the trail. “Let me guess, another bit of your magic?” Santa smiled at John as they flew into a middle-class neighborhood in Dover.
The odd couple went into the house. Inside, a boy was crying on the couch. His parents were arguing in the kitchen. “What do you mean he was suspended again?” the father asked. “I got a call from school. They said he was acting out in class again and when the teacher told him to stop he ran out of the room. When another teacher found him, he pushed her away. The Principal came down the hall and yelled at him to come with him. David yelled back at him and Dr. Smith called two teachers to help bring him to the office,” the mother explained. “I didn’t get the call until two hours later. By the time I got there he was so upset.” “Did they give him any work to do when he was in there for two hours?” the boy’s father asked. “I don’t know. But this is not what his IEP says. They aren’t supposed to drag him down the hall and yell at him. He isn’t learning anything there. He’s depressed all the time. He can’t learn in a class with thirty kids.” John knelt down in front of the boy. He saw such pain and sadness in the boy’s eyes. “This boy has no friends John. The things you had growing up, kids to play with and throw a football around, running around in the woods, even going to the amusement park, David can’t do those things.” Santa explained how David was labeled as high-functioning Autism. He could do the work, but only under certain conditions. If there was a lot of activity in the classroom, people talking, moving around, David couldn’t handle that. His brain couldn’t filter out all the stimuli. Some days it worked, but for David, it was an endless litany of suspensions and leaving school early. “Special education John. If you don’t know what is going on with a child, and everyone is different, how can we put all kids in the same box?” Santa asked him.
John could see what Santa was doing. He understood that not every kid is the same. But if they didn’t try to help all the kids nothing would change. The two flew to the building where John was destined to spend many of his days in the next four years. Legislative Hall. Where all the laws in Delaware happened. John didn’t think there would be any kids there at 6:30pm, and he was right. Inside, a meeting was taking place. John knew about half the people at the large table in the House Majority Caucus room. There were some from the Department of Education, a couple from the Rodel Foundation of Delaware, the usual Delaware State Education Association contingent, some Superintendents, a few teachers, Delaware PTA, some of the disability advocates, the lady from the Delaware Charter Schools Network, four legislators, and a couple of State Board members. He knew them. A few people sat in the chairs outside of the table. A woman from the Delaware DOE was giving a presentation on the Every Student Succeeds Act. Delaware had to come up with a state plan so all students can succeed. She was talking about the Delaware School Success Framework and the measurements they wanted included in their state accountability system. It was all about proficiency and growth. Which John knew was based on the Smarter Balanced Assessment. All these adults, sitting there talking about kids and how they can make education better. John knew a few of the people there had the best of intentions but this was what they do in Delaware. They sit around a table and talk. This was how things got done. They even had a name for it, The Delaware Way.
“You don’t get it!” John cried out. “We can’t keep testing these kids. They aren’t the same. We can’t keep doing this. Their lives mean so much more than these tests.” Santa looked at John. “They can’t hear you. Even if they could, too many of them wouldn’t listen. They think they know what is best. They forget what it was like when they were kids. Even that man over there.” Santa pointed to a man from Wilmington. “He kept fighting for the kids in Wilmington and how the teachers need to be better,” Santa explained. “The man believed what he said but he didn’t realize how much these children don’t have outside of school. The man didn’t understand that you can’t just wave a magic wand and make teachers better. And the best teachers, they were the ones already in those classrooms in Wilmington. They were the ones who came to school every day, knowing the problems these kids brought to the classroom. The look of hunger in their eyes as they wore the same clothes for the third day in a row. They dedicated their lives to helping these kids in the hardest classrooms in the state. In return, they were shamed by many of the people in this room. The little boy we saw on the playground tonight? He goes to the poorest school in the state. Most of the people in this room have never walked into his school. They don’t understand what he needs. That legislator over there? She sponsored a bill so special education would get better in the state. In their eyes, it did. Students went from 21% proficiency on the ELA part of Smarter Balanced to 23%. To them, that is growth. The Superintendent over there? She runs the district where the two kids from Georgetown go to school. She has a lot of students who can’t speak or read English. She hasn’t said one word tonight about how to help them. See the man over there? He runs a charter school in Newark. They just settled on a lawsuit against the Christina School District. In return they will get more money in the future. Remember the girl in the mansion? She goes to that charter school. That money will be taken from the homeless boy’s school. He will get less than he has today at school. The man over there? He sits on the board at the Rodel Foundation. He sees opportunity. He sees how the business leaders in the state can profit from all this. He is hoping they will start talking about more career pathway programs in our high schools. He knows that some will go to the coding school he sits on the board of. He talks with other business leaders and the graduates of that program do internships at their companies. Sometimes they get jobs. While they are learning, these coding students are building the network of tomorrow. They develop algorithms that will go into the education technology in all the schools. All that data, all that blessed data. They store it all. They keep everything, these futurists and visionaries. They have the money and influence to make sure what they want becomes policy and law. It is the way the modern world works John. Perhaps they know, and don’t care, that what they are setting up now will only make those children who struggle the most even further apart from any true opportunity to succeed. And them, over there, they work for the Department of Education. They are the middlemen between the schools and the business community. They make sure the business community gets what they want in the schools. They do this through regulations and conversations you will never hear about. That woman there, she runs the accountability section of the Department. Her job is to make sure all children in certain grades take the Smarter Balanced Assessment. When she sees the results come in, she doesn’t see the faces of the children who took the test. She sees numbers. Results. Scores. Her job is to understand why all the children we saw tonight got a 1 on the test last Spring except for the girl in the mansion who got a 4. She doesn’t see David’s disability. Or the two siblings who can’t read the instructions for the test in English much less understand the context of a passage in Spanish about the stock market. She doesn’t know that the African-American boy in Wilmington has slept in 124 different beds in the past year alone and the other 241 nights were outside with blankets. But she actually thinks they can close the achievement gaps and these children will grow into prosperity. How does she know this? It’s what her bosses tell her every single day. She hears the lie so much she believes it.”
John and Santa left the building. As the two flew north, they talked about what John had to do. What he needed to change. They talked about the blogger and the parents, teachers, legislators, advocates, and citizens who thought like Santa did. “Those are the ones you really need to talk to John. I’m sure you have heard from many of the people who were in that meeting tonight. If you haven’t, I have no doubt your advisors have.” John knew this to be true. “You need to understand the other side of the coin John, where the real world lives. These aren’t pleasant realities you saw tonight. For those fighting for the kids, even opting out of the test isn’t as easy as it once was. They are fighting for these kids, their kids. And their grandchildren. They are fighting for their jobs. They see beyond the results and the growth. They see what needs to change but no one listens. No one who can really make a difference. Some do, but not enough to make the changes. When they do speak, they are shunned by their peers. Given less importance. It isn’t right John. What the people in that room wanted, it won’t change anything. It will only cause more damage. You can’t incorporate education. These are children. You need to change all this.”
John walked out of the sleigh. He thanked Santa for showing him so much of the Delaware he didn’t see before. The two shook hands. “Santa, I don’t know if I can change all of this by myself. You know if I try I will make enemies. Those enemies won’t make my job any easier.” Santa put his hand on John’s shoulder. “That is what all leaders who understand what is right and just have to face. Some succeed and some fail. Some do it alone and some have support. All I can say is this John- remember what you saw tonight. Every single time you make a decision. Remember the children’s faces before you see the adults. You know in your heart who is really in this for the kids and who isn’t. When you hear that voice in your head, questioning what the true motives are, listen to that. Let that be your shield against your enemies John.” John hugged Santa. “Merry Christmas Santa.” “And to you as well Governor Carney.” Santa walked toward his sleigh and turned around. “John, find those who speak the uncomfortable truths.”
John looked down at his watch. It was 6:31pm. Santa was gone.
It’s real easy to play Monday morning quarterback after your team just took a huge hit. Donald Trump promised (and fooled) many citizens into thinking he could get rid of Common Core. So much so that his pick for Secretary of Education is now backtracking on her years of actions financially supporting Common Core. She sits on Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education. This foundation LOVES Common Core and all that comes with it. DeVos, through the Betsy and Steve DeVos Foundation, poured millions of dollars into pro-Common Core candidates.
On some Betsy DeVos Question and Answer website that sprung out of nowhere, she denounces Common Core. This website was created on 8/16/16, but her picture was just added this month. This isn’t some long-time website that shows the DeVos denunciation of Common Core. This website was created specifically for the possibility of a Trump win. Why would anyone put up a q and a website unless they knew what the opposition would immediately come out with? This is what she has to say about Common Core. Items in red are my response to that.
Q: There’s been a lot of talk about Common Core. Can you provide some straight talk on this topic?
Certainly. I am not a supporter—period.
Financial support into candidates and states that support it IS supporting it.
I do support high standards, strong accountability, and local control. When Governors such as John Engler, Mike Huckabee, and Mike Pence were driving the conversation on voluntary high standards driven by local voices, it all made sense.
State standards, as written in the Every Student Succeeds Act, are now state decisions. Trump couldn’t dump them if he tried. There is a big difference between state and local decisions. The states now call the shots on education. The locals are just along for the ride. Local control of education is a thing of the past.
Have organizations that I have been a part of supported Common Core? Of course. But that’s not my position. Sometimes it’s not just students who need to do their homework.
I don’t even know what that means Betsy DeVos. Common Core wasn’t created because kids weren’t doing their homework. It was set up for a VERY specific reason which I will get to soon.
However, along the way, it got turned into a federalized boondoggle.
A very intentional federalized boondoggle where states gave up ALL control to the feds. Once the states adopted the standards, it didn’t end there. In came the standardized testing, the accountability game that judges failing schools based on those same tests, as well as the longitudinal data (which was the real purpose which I will also get to later) creation in every state to allow student data to go out. Once everything was set up in the states through Federal funds (most of which did not go to local schools but to state Departments of Education who paid education reform companies billions of dollars), then the reauthorization of ESEA came about. ESSA is the shift towards this future. Giving the illusion of state control based on federal mandates and snake-oil deals from the Obama administration.
Above all, I believe every child, no matter their zip code or their parents’ jobs, deserves access to a quality education.
Every single corporate education reformer says this, but being pro-school choice has not equated to greater educational improvement for children overall. Especially children that are minorities, low-income, English Language learners, and students with disabilities.
Betsy DeVos, through her foundation work for her own foundation as well as others, has been on of the biggest driving forces for the privatization of American public education. But why? Where is all of this going?
As I put up my post about DeVos selection for the U.S. Secretary of Education, I was met with an onslaught of comments stating she doesn’t support Common Core. Actions speak louder than words. I immediately directed readers to this excellent post showing how she DOES support Common Core and how. And then I wrote this:
To put this in a very easy way to understand, Common Core was created to train young minds for constant all-the-time digital learning. State assessments (based on Common Core) will become stealth assessments embedded in personalized learning/competency-based education environments. Once they bust the unions, traditional school districts will fall. Charters will go online. Our young kids will go to local non-profits to learn online while older kids learn online in a pay to earn environment through Charter Online Inc. Meanwhile, all this data from ed tech is tracking every student and whoring out their personal data and gearing them towards pre-determined professions that corporations want, not the kids. Who do you think will profit from this? Charters. Teachers will become glorified moderators while parents watch their rights slowly disappear. Their kids will go to community health-based centers for everything. This is the grand agenda. There is nothing Trump can do to stop it. Complete control over the future by corporations. Read into plans for Blockchain technology to see where all of this is going…. This has NEVER been about kids. It has always been about corporate profit.
We are now at a huge tipping point with public education. I’ve actually seen parents today, on anti-Common Core Facebook pages, actually trying to convince me DeVos is a good pick and to give her a chance. This is what the corporate education reformers do best. They pit people against each other. While everyone is arguing about this and that, they are getting things done. Planting seeds to get the whole thing done. They are the masters of distraction. Bill Gates is just one of them. Today, we saw another billionaire get the top education job in the country. With no background of ever being an educator. Do you really think it is a coincidence that the past three Secretaries of Education have been fervent supporters of school choice, charter schools, and “higher standards”? You can call Common Core whatever you want. But it is the same everywhere, in every state. It is just a vessel to much bigger plans, a complete and utter transformation of society where the top will always be on the top, but true choice and upward mobility for the rest will be on the bottom. It is central to destroying who we are as a nation. A nation of freedom and free will. That will be stripped from us, forever. We will become the cradle to grave workforce with the rich and elite overlords looking down upon us. The future generations of today’s rich and elite who use their money and influence to reshape society to their mold.
This was going to happen no matter who won the Presidency. Clinton, Trump, Johnson, Stein… it didn’t matter. Who do you really think is running the show? Politicians? No. It is corporations. Follow the money. Read the stuff that is coming out right now through ESSA. Sift through the smoke and open your eyes America. And act. Do something. They have you fooled. Everyone is going nuts about Trump, both sides. Love or hate. Meanwhile, no one is talking about the WOIA bills in every state. Or the ed tech invasion happening in your schools. Or the shift towards getting rid of number grades towards the same type of scores on standardized tests. How many states are developing “Pathways” programs which shift education towards a pre-determined career rather than moving on to college? Trump doesn’t matter. Not in the long run. Neither did Clinton. This was going to happen before your very eyes.
Do you hear anyone, aside from student privacy groups, demanding Trump restore FERPA to pre-2008 and 2011 levels? No. Do you hear anyone making a big deal about the Bill Gates driven work group that is deciding data sharing at ALL levels? No. Do you know why? Because they are distracting you. And they are succeeding.
Someone wrote to me on Facebook today that to change things would require a rebellion. That person wasn’t promoting it. I am. It is what we need. And it has to happen now. Please share this article. Spread it. Make sure people see it and see the truth about what is happening. The reformers will say I am a conspiracy theorist. I will gladly take that. Because this is a vast conspiracy that has been playing out for decades. And they aren’t done yet. Time for a rebellion.
Napoleon once said, “History is a set of lies agreed upon.” In Delaware, the state has been sharing personal student data in the form of a benign computer program designed on the surface to help students. This is a program that is so layered in varying shades of legality and loophole in state and federal law no person could ever realistically figure it all out. Luckily, I am not one of those people. So what is the Trojan horse inserted into every single school district and charter school in the state? Hint: it’s NOT the Smarter Balanced Assessment! Continue reading “History Is A Set Of Lies Agreed Upon: The Delaware DOE’s Trojan Horse That Shares Personal Student Data”
The United States Supreme Court will decide the fate of millions of special education students in America when they rule on a controversial case regarding what the appropriate amount of FAPE (Free Appropriate Public Education) is for students with disabilities. The landmark case, Endrew F. vs. Douglas County School District, could have major consequences for special education students.
According to Disability Scoop:
The Supreme Court’s decision to take up the matter comes at the urging of the Obama administration. In a brief issued last month, the U.S. solicitor general agreed with the parents that the IDEA requires schools to provide more than minimal benefit to students with disabilities.
“This court should hold that states must provide children with disabilities educational benefits that are meaningful in light of the child’s potential and the IDEA’s stated purposes. Merely aiming for non-trivial progress is not sufficient,” the solicitor general indicated.
This could be a moment of triumph or severe disappointment. With the rise of Common Core and a transition from teacher-led instruction to constant bombardment of education technology and a competency-based education environment, students with disabilities have suffered the most from the constant education reform that has taken place over the past twenty plus years. As their numbers rise, so do the corporate profits. They have been forced to take a litany of state assessments that have the same results, year after year: these students tend to perform the worst on these tests. The amount of parents choosing to go the home school route for their special needs children has risen dramatically in the last decade.
A free appropriate public education, in its current landscape, comes with a very steep price for students with disabilities. Unless the Supreme Court clearly defines what FAPE should be, in the face of the overwhelming corporate-driven changes in our schools, these children will continue to be lost in public education. Personalized learning, in the modern-day era meaning, would gear all students towards their own individual education plans which strips the special out of special education. This flies in the face of what disability advocates fight for every single day.
Their reach is everywhere. Foundations who say they represent the best interests of children. Who want to fix education so all children can get a shot. Why then, do so many of the children of these philanthropists, politicians, and corporate education reformers, attend private schools? Ones without the invasive education technology and Common Core standards? That alone should tell everyone they are not in it for the kids. For them, it is about the profit. Servant and master. They feel we should bow down to their infinite wisdom and do as they say. The reports from the Department of Labor showing increasing jobs don’t paint the same picture as the doom and gloom coming from the education “prophets”. They talk about gaps between disadvantaged students and their peers while putting forth policy that enforces those gaps, whether it is from standardized tests, “IEPs for All”, the false importance of education technology, or the perception that traditional school district teachers are horrible. They are the incubators of discrimination and segregation. But they fail to understand how their actions contribute to the outside factors our schools should not have to deal with, such as trauma and poverty. With all their vast wealth and power, they don’t spend their money helping to ease these issues. They believe that it is okay to track students into career pathways starting at the first moment they are able to take a test. They don’t care that very personal information goes out to 3rd parties that have no business seeing any information like this. They wrote the Every Student Succeeds Act. They are the ones pushing for more charter schools. They have the US Dept. of Education in their back pocket along with the politicians and groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council and the National Governors’ Association. They have many colleges and universities doing whatever they say. But they are wrong. What they are doing is the best for themselves, not the kids.
The Christina School District just issued a letter to parents and citizens in the district to address the recent funding issues surrounding charter school payments and exclusions in their budget:
A Letter to Christina School District Parents and Residents
about Charter School Funding:
There have been recent reports in local media and on social media about possible changes to the funding formula used to determine the Local Cost per Student that determines payments to charter and choice students who attend schools other than traditional Christina public schools.
At a meeting on September 1 with the Superintendents of public school districts throughout the state, Delaware Secretary of Education Steven Godowsky stated that there would be no changes to the Local Cost per Student formula for the 2016-2017 school year. The district has not yet received a formal statement in writing from the Department of Education to this effect.
Unfortunately, statements have been made by a number of individuals that the Christina School District is excluding funds that should be included in the calculations of the Local Cost per Student.
We feel these are very serious statements that need to be addressed. We also feel that the Christina community deserves to know what these restricted funds are and how they support families who choose to send their children to traditional public schools in Christina.
The Christina School District does not decide what appropriations are included or excluded from the Local Cost of Funds. That determination rests with the Secretary of Education, as stated by Delaware Code.
The Department of Education informed District Business Managers, in August, that certain expenditures which have historically been deemed by the Secretary of Education to be inappropriate for inclusion in the Local Cost per Student Calculation may now be included. No explanations or justifications were provided other than citing that the decision is at the discretion of the Secretary of Education. This decision is contrary to the decisions made by previous Secretaries ranging as recently as last year and as far back as 17 years.
In 2003, Christina voters approved a referendum by a vote of 5,334 to 2,431 to restrict 10 cents per $100 of assessed property value to support four specific programs for Christina School District students. These programs were 1) phase-in of Full-Day Kindergarten, 2) expansion of services for Gifted and Talented program, 3) expansion of services for Alternative Programs, and 4) technology replacement schedule. These funds, authorized by taxpayers, are restricted, and are considered District Specific Exclusions.
Beginning in 2014, the Department of Education agreed that these funds were restricted and approved their exclusion from the calculation of Local Cost per Student.
Another example of funds considered a District Specific Exclusion are those funds generated through the Match Tax. State Legislators often create unique programs designed to help students, such as Reading Resource Teachers, Math Resource Teachers, Extra Time Funding, and Education Technology. These are taxes that impact all traditional school districts. For example, the State recognized the need to assist elementary students in reading. The State provided funding for Reading Resource Teacher positions in Traditional Public Schools and in Charter Schools. State legislation empowered the School Boards of the Traditional Public School Districts to raise taxes to “Match” state funds on a 70/30 state/local basis. School Boards were authorized to match the amount provided to the District only. These Match programs have been excluded from the Local Cost per Student calculation for the past 14-17 years.
The Christina School district welcomes open and public conversation around appropriate public funding for all public school students. As a district that serves a high proportion of low-income, English Language Learners, and special needs students, the Christina School District is invested in ensuring equity, and meeting the educational needs of our diverse population.
The District will hold a Legislative Briefing on Wednesday, September 7 at 7:30 a.m. at the Eden Support Services Center.
Robert Andrzejewski, Ed.D., Acting Superintendent
Christina School District
Robert Silber, Chief Financial Officer
Christina School District
Dr. Paul Herdman with the Rodel Foundation of Delaware recently made a Top 50 list for a company called Getting Smart. The list is like a who’s who of corporate education reformers. Released on September 28th, the list also includes a “Chiefs Making A Difference” category. None other than former Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy got a nod, along with nine other state chiefs of education. I guess they didn’t get the memo that Murphy “resigned”.
The list Herdman was in was called “More Relevant Than Ever In K-12”. He joins other “reformers” such as Andy Rotherham and Sir Michael Barber. The website also featured a top 50 Advocacy Organizations list of which Rodel made the list. Other “prominent” companies included Achieve, Aspen Institute (of which Herdman is a “fellow”), Council of Chief State School Officers, Education Trust, Fordham Institute, New America Foundation, and numerous other companies. I wonder how many of the CEO’s of these companies get over $343,000 a year for destroying public education like our very own Doc Herdman?
Getting Smart is some type of education technology company that is obviously in bed with all the
destroyers reformers of public education. It would stand to reason Herdman would make this list the way he pimps “personalized learning” and “blended learning”. Can anyone tell me the difference between the two? I swear, every day these companies come crawling out of the woodwork…