Mark Murphy Spews Sour Grapes About His Time As Delaware Secretary of Education

Do you want some cheese with that wine Mark Murphy?  That is the thrust of an online article from The Job in which Mark Murphy laments his time as the Delaware Secretary of Education.  Murphy gets it wrong on so many levels it isn’t even funny.

Frankly, kids’ interests and adults’ interests don’t always align. Kids have no power, no say, no decision-making authority, no money — so nobody has a real reason to listen to kids. Go shadow a high-school kid for a day — good luck staying awake. You have to walk from class to class, with four minutes between each bell. You have to raise your hand to go to the bathroom. It is so disempowering and so boring.

Yes, he did use the word boring.  Because we are desperately clamoring for high school students to do whatever they want in school.  I’m terribly sorry Murphy had to exercise so much while shadowing a high school kid.  He did always seem fit.  Perhaps that is why.  Let’s be very clear on something.  Teenagers are trying to figure out who they are.  They are going through puberty.  I’m not saying their voice isn’t important, but adults often need to be the ones to make decisions for students.  It isn’t because they are on a power trip, it is because they went through their teenage years and entered adulthood (well, most of them did).  They went through it and came out on the other side and know what works and what doesn’t.  But then a bunch of billionaires got together and decided they knew what was best for education.  They used students and parents in their quest to get rid of teacher unions.  That is whose side you were always on.

What would happen is, I would feel like I had reached an agreement with the union leadership, but then they came back a month or two later and that wasn’t how their membership felt. I should have spent more time meeting with local leadership. In hindsight, I would have done that differently.

Yes Mark, you should have.  It sounds to me like the union leadership wasn’t also aware of what was happening at the ground level either or perhaps they were just placating you.  The union leadership should reach out to their membership before making agreements on their behalf.  If that is how it went down.

Each time you try to turn around a school, or you open or close a charter school, or disagree with the union, you punch another hole in the bucket and you start to drain out. You lose some political capital. Eventually, you’re out of water.

Mark, you became the Delaware Secretary of Education at the worst possible time in Delaware.  Post Race to the Top and knee-deep in Markell’s very bad education policies.  We are seeing a lot of those policies reversed throughout the country.  Being a leader is allowing yourself to stand up to the criticism and not letting it get to you.  If you ran out of water that’s because you kept listening to the same people over and over again and were not willing to hear what was happening at the grass-roots level.

If every kid had access to a middle-class lifestyle, the country would be a much better place, and people wouldn’t be so angry about all the immigrants.

The two don’t really intersect Mark.  I know the goal is for every kid to be the same, but good luck with that.  The bad education policies you pushed on Delaware at the behest of your education totalitarian boss, Jack Markell, failed because they did not look at the individual, only the collective.  Not sure where your immigration comment comes in.

I am really nervous that really great people are going to stop being willing to pursue public office because you get publicly and professionally assassinated in these jobs.

Does this mean you see yourself as “really great people” Mark?  Since I became involved in Delaware public education a few years ago, I have seen three Delaware Secretaries of Education: yourself, Dr. Steven Godowsky, and Dr. Susan Bunting.  Both Godowsky and Bunting treated me with respect although we do not always agree on policy.  When you were around, you didn’t give me the time of day.  You treated opt out parents as if they were somehow beneath you and should be squashed like a bug.  You didn’t even mention the Rodel Foundation in this article, but you listened to them far more than any educator, student, or parent.  The priority schools initiative was the death knell of your time as the Delaware Secretary.  The whole thing was a Delaware Dept. of Education public relations nightmare from the onset.  It was shoddily planned and I would have to think you knew that.

If you’re a teacher in one of these schools, the new principal who comes into the school should decide whether you stay or whether you don’t stay. The teachers’ union was quite upset about that.

Of course they would be upset about it because the whole basis for this was standardized test scores.  It failed to address issues such as trauma, special education, segregation, and the individual student.  Who wants some corporate education reform Principal hand-picked by the Delaware DOE to come in and can a ton of teachers over Smarter Balanced scores?  That’s why parents and citizens also objected to this plan.  The biggest failure was your inability to predict the severity of the public backlash for this.  I have to think you felt so empowered at the height of the corporate education reform movement that you felt infallible.  No human being is infallible.

In retrospect Mark, this sounds like sour grapes on your part.  You cast far too much blame on others while failing to address your own failures in your term.  Playing around with the priority schools funding was the final straw.  You can’t make promises and then back away from them.  I’m not sure why you blame the unions for all that is wrong with public education.  I know that is the corporate education reform mantra, but perhaps you should think of your own future and get off the shame and blame bus.

DSEA President Battle Heats Up As Three Vie For The Top Spot

To date, three Delaware educators have announced their intention to run for President of the Delaware State Education Association.  All three have announced this on Facebook.  I know two of them, but I haven’t met the other candidate.  Two of the candidates are running on a ticket with a Vice-President candidate.  Who are these brave souls? Continue reading “DSEA President Battle Heats Up As Three Vie For The Top Spot”

Governor Markell’s Executive Order #62 Creates ESSA Advisory Committee

Today, Delaware Governor Markell signed an Executive Order which creates an Advisory  n Committee for the Every Student Succeeds Act.  As required by federal law, this group will convene to provide input (not make final decisions) on ESSA which was signed by President Obama last December.  I am assuming this group will replace the DESS Advisory Committee which was required under the former federal education law, ESEA.

This group will have the usual slots: President of the State Board of Education, President of the Delaware State Education Association, and other education, business, and state associations.  There are only two legislator slots, one from the Senate and one from the House.  Usually, these kind of groups have representation of both parties in the House and the Senate.  Only three teachers will be picked, and only four parents.  On something this important, bigger is better.  But lest we forget, these members will be picked by the Governor, so expect some controversy over those picks!

As well, there will be a series of “Community Conversations” coming up at the end of September.  I pray this isn’t a one-sided show where select people are telling the audience what has to happen.  It needs to be a true back and forth exchange to be a true conversation.

Below is Executive Order #62 and the press release from the Delaware DOE.

 

Markell Creates Group to Support Implementation of New Federal Education Law

 

Calling a new federal education law an opportunity for teachers, school leaders, parents, and others to build on record graduation rates and other progress happening in Delaware schools, Governor Jack Markell today signed Executive Order 62, which brings together a diverse group of stakeholders to provide input for the state plan required by the federal Every Students Succeeds Act (ESSA). The plan, which the U.S. Department of Education is expected to require by sometime next year, will detail efforts to:

·         Implement academic standards aligned with what students need to know stay on track for success in college and the workplace;

·         Ensure students from all backgrounds have access to high-quality educational opportunities from pre-school through high school;

·         Support training, retention, and professional advancement of great educators; and

·         Track progress of schools across a variety of measures, not limited to test scores, and identify ways to offer additional support where students are struggling.

 

The Governor, who signed E.O. 62 at Lewis Elementary School, noted that improvements from the last major federal education law, No Child Left Behind, mean that states have more flexibility in ways to support students, including how to measure schools’ progress and new opportunities to focus on early childhood education, which has been a top priority of the Markell Administration.

 

“We should all be proud of the progress we have made over the last few years, when we have seen thousands more low-income families enroll children in high-quality early childhood programs, recorded the fastest-growing graduation rate in the country, offered thousands more students the chance to earn workplace experience and college credit while in high school, and given more students access to college,” said Markell.

 

“ESSA provides an exciting chance for us to build on that momentum – to better support and attract great teachers and ensure all of our students have access to the education they deserve, no matter their backgrounds. More flexibility in how states approach these issues means more responsibility for us to make sound decisions and as we develop our state’s plan under ESSA. The executive order I sign today will help engage our teachers, school leaders, parents, and other advocates to ensure a successful process.”

 

The Executive Order outlines the variety of education leaders and advocates who must be represented on the committee and provides the group with the opportunity to review drafts of the state plan and submit recommendations to the Secretary of Education. A chair will be announced in advance of the first meeting and the group will include representatives of:

 

·         Parents in every county

·         Educators from urban and rural communities

·         The State Board of Education

·         The Delaware State Education Association

·         The Delaware Association of School Administrators

·         The Delaware School Board’s Association

·         The Delaware Charter School Network

·         The Wilmington Education Improvement Commission

·         The Early Childhood Council

·         Delaware English Language Teachers and Advocates

·         An organization advocating for students with disabilities

·         Delaware’s business community

·         Workforce development programs

·         The General Assembly

 

“After engaging in initial discussions with a wide variety of education stakeholders on development of our ESSA plan, this advisory committee represents an important next step in supporting our communication with teachers, administrators, and parents who are working hard to support our students,” said Delaware Education Secretary Steve Godowsky. “This group will help ensure we fully consider a wide range of perspectives and set our state on a path of continued improvement.”

 

The department also will engage representatives of stakeholder groups in two discussion groups. The first group will focus discussions on technical topics related to Measures of School Success and Reporting.  The second group will focus discussions on provisions for Student and School Supports. Participants for these topical discussion groups can be nominated on the department’s ESSA web site through September 9, 2016.  The discussion groups will provide information to the Advisory group created by this Executive Order.

 

To further support engagement of the broader education community, the Department of Education has announced a series of Community Conversations later this month during which teachers, administrators, and others will offer input on specific questions that the state must address in its plan. These discussions will take place at the following times and locations:

 

Tuesday September 20 at 6:00 p.m. – Cheer Center, Georgetown

Saturday September 24 at 10:00 a.m. – Christina Cultural Arts Center, Wilmington

Tuesday September 27 at 6:00 p.m. – Bunker Hill Elementary School, Middletown

Thursday September 29 at 5:30 p.m. – Collette Education Center, Dover

 

The public also is invited to provide input through online surveys found on the Department’s ESSA web site and by submitting feedback to ESSAStatePlan@doe.k12.de.us

Alison May
alison.may@doe.k12.de.us
(302) 735-4006

The Jack Markell Email That Has Delaware Teachers Seething

JackMeme

Governor Markell sent an email to teachers and administrators thanking them for the latest Smarter Balanced Assessment results.  Meanwhile, people don’t care.  In the grand tradition of the former and very much lamented Transparent Christina, I hereby present the red-line edition of Jack’s chest-thumping email!

From: Markell, Governor (Governor)

Gee really, you need to write it down twice?

Sent: Thursday, July 21, 2016 2:01:51 PM (UTC-05:00) Eastern Time (US & Canada)
To:
K12 Employees
Subject:
Thank you to educators and school administrators

Thank you Governor Markell for forcing students to take this test and for teachers to administer them.  God bless the opt out parents!

Dear Educators and School Administrators,

What, no love for the parents? 

I hope you are all having a wonderful summer.

You too Jack.  Speaking on behalf of teachers, thank you for interrupting our bliss and harmony with this email.

As many of you may have seen, today the state released our annual data showing student performance on the Smarter Balanced Assessment. The improved scores across subjects and grade levels throughout our state serves as yet more evidence that your hard work is producing great results for our children and I wanted to take this opportunity to send a note of thanks.

In other words, over half our kids still aren’t proficient in math based on Smarter Balanced Standards and only 55% of them are proficient in ELA based on those same standards.  I see what you’re doing here.  Thanking teachers for their “hard work” for bad results.  The joke is on you.  Anyone who doesn’t know this is a crap test has been living in a cave somewhere.

Our transition to higher standards for what students should know at each grade level has contributed to making the last few years a tremendously challenging time for all of our educators, no matter what subject you teach, and all administrators. At a time when it’s clear that students will rely on their education more than ever to reach their potential, we know they deserve these higher expectations aligned to what colleges and employers will expect of them after graduation.

Newsflash Jack, education has always been needed for students to reach their full potential.  This isn’t anything new.  Stop making it a crisis.  We get it.  They don’t “deserve these higher expectations”.  That’s like saying “I’m going to hit you in the face.  It will hurt.  But it will make you stronger.”  Colleges hate Common Core, hate your stupid high-stakes tests, and I have yet to hear any employer say “what were your Smarter Balanced scores?” in an interview. 

Accepting the higher standards at the state level was the easy part. Our progress is the result of what happens in our classrooms every day.

Yeah, rigor and grit.  Lots of academic sweat that still hasn’t produced the results you think we want but you don’t really because as long as kids our doing bad they still need to be fixed.  This story is getting as old as your time in office.  Like the citizens of the state had much say in accepting these “higher standards”.  When you dangle carrots like “Look, we’re getting all this money from the feds during a time when I had to cut teacher raises.  Hip Hop Hooray!  Come and board my train.  It will be fun.  Please fasten your seat belts cause you are going to get ridiculed and tested like never before.  Don’t worry about the scores or the growth.  Progress is progress.  As long as my friends make money, that is the true progress!”

The improving proficiency levels released today represent another data point to show that what you are doing is working. Our graduation rates are at record levels, and recently led the country for the biggest growth. More students than ever are being prepared to be fluent in another language, and to pass college-level dual enrollment and Advanced Placement courses before they graduate. And you are making possible the incredible growth in our Pathways to Prosperity program, which just 2 years after it launched with about 30 students, will give more than 5,000 students this fall the chance to take courses that prepare them with college credit and workplace experience in growing industries from IT to health care to culinary arts.

But most of those students will need to go to Del-Tech.  Way to spend millions of dollars on programs that benefit your buddies over there.  Your asskissery has no limits.  More flavor in the favors, that’s all this is.  While I don’t mind students learning other languages, the fact that your “World Immersion” programs limit the number of kids who can enroll, especially students with disabilities, will just ultimately create more discrimination and segregation.  Why is it whenever I see pictures of these programs I see mostly white kids Jack?  But let’s take the time to thank Governor Markell for yet another data point that states the obvious: your ideas DON’T WORK!!!  Maybe to the sycophant Delaware DOE, State Board of Education and the suck-ups who don’t realize they are on the table and still think they are at the table.

More than anything, I want to thank you for the daily efforts you put into making your classroom the best possible learning environment, taking time after the school day ends to provide the best extra support, and developing lessons that meet individual needs of each child.

Individual needs measured by a standardized test that does not differentiate between those individual needs and set up to make those with the highest needs look like failures.  Teachers are burned out with your absolute hypocrisy and BS Jack.  How many more months?  I’m sure all the teachers are eternally grateful they have to spend so much of their day outside of their regular hours that get sucked up with professional development.  I’m sure they are real happy about that.  I’m sure they love the extreme waste of hours it takes students to take this cash in the trash test.  Thank you for not providing the true funding our students need to be truly successful and giving all those corporations their big tax breaks.  Thank you for giving the middle finger to parents and basically saying to them “Shut the hell up about what you want.  This is MY Delaware,” followed by “If you thought those after-school hours are bad now dear educators, wait until your schools become all-day community centers from fetus to the grave!”

I look forward to following your lead and making the most of all of my remaining days in office to provide the support our teachers and students need to make the most of their talents.

I have no doubt you will spend your remaining days finding new ways to further your corporate education reform agendas for your Wall Street, Rodel, and big campaign donor buddies.  Don’t forget Jack, you have to put those final nails in the public education coffin by getting those competency-based personalized learning plans into shape.  How long before the announcement that Smarter Balanced will replace final exams and tlater will serve as end of unit tests?  Can we take a peak at your stock portfolio?  God help us all if you do anything education related at a higher level after you (finally) leave office…

Thank you,

“Not really but I have to play this up…suckers!”

Jack A. Markell

Alan Jackson

Governor

Lame-Duck! Quack Quack!

Perfect Timing On This State Board Of Education Legislation!

It’s the middle of the day.  You are at work and you start to wonder about something you read a couple days before.  It was something about education, something concerning students with disabilities.  Your son has a disability.  Oh yeah, it was concerning suspensions and expulsions.  You read it on some blog.  It was alarming to you because little Johnny has been getting in trouble at school.  You aren’t sure if it the disability or his bad manners.  He got suspended a couple times.  The State Board of Education was meeting right now to discuss a regulation about it.  The blog post rattled you a bit because Johnny could easily be one of those kids.  You wish you could go to the meeting, but you are out of vacation days and you certainly don’t want to use up your sick time to go to a State Board meeting.  If only they had these meetings later in the day…

Delaware State Representative Kim Williams introduced a bill yesterday that would allow the above worker to attend that State Board of Education meeting at 5:30pm or later.

HB260

I fully support this bill.  It would allow parents and teachers to attend State Board meetings without having to interrupt their day.  The State Board isn’t exactly a paying position either, so it would benefit the State Board members as well.  As well, many Superintendents and other school admins attend these meetings which takes time away from their school or district.  The timing is perfect on this bill!  As parents become more involved in education matters, it is important they have the opportunity to attend these kinds of meetings.  About 99% of Delaware school boards meet at night because they know parents want to come.  Why should our State Board of Education be any different?

There was a time when both the Delaware Department of Education and the State Board of Education did not hold as much power as they do now.  They were more of a compliance body as opposed to the policy setting machine they have become.  Even the role of the Executive Director of the State Board of Education didn’t have such a fancy title back then.  And that position certainly didn’t run the show like our current one does.  Please support this bill as parents, teachers, educators and Delaware citizens!

 

Major Time Change For January State Board of Education Meeting Due To Governor Markell’s State Of The State Address

This should be interesting.  The Delaware State Board of Education will be voting on the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission’s redistricting plan on January 21st at their regular meeting.  Typically, their meetings begin at 1:00pm, but on this date it will begin at 9am.  Governor Markell is giving his State of the State address this day based on the comment made on the State Board of Education schedule.

SBOE12116Mtg

Teachers, educators, and parents have commented many times about the inaccessibility of State Board of Education meetings given that they occur in the middle of the day when parents are typically at work and teachers and educators are in schools.  As well, this will be a very big meeting with the WEIC vote.  For anyone from Wilmington to get to Dover, park, and get to the room by 9am, they would have to leave anywhere between 7:30-8:00am depending on traffic.  I have a feeling based on history this is not going to make a lot of people happy.  While the time has not been released for the State of the State Address, it is typically in the afternoon.  State Board meetings typically don’t last longer than four to five hours, but this will not be an ordinary State Board of Education meeting.  The agenda for the entire meeting will most likely go up on 1/14/16 and I will post it here as soon as it is up.  I could picture the State Board shortening the meeting by not having too many other presentations or reports from the DOE.  I won’t even begin to guess what would happen in the event of inclement weather.  But all of this makes the State Board workshop on the WEIC plan on January 11th even more interesting…

Will Governor Markell have to change his State of the State address based on the State Board of Education vote on the WEIC plan?  Unless he plans on showing up for the vote???  Maybe someone should try to convince the State Board of Education to livestream this important meeting…

Public comment, as always with the State Board of Education, is not allowed for any action item on their agenda.  But as well, WEIC has a formal comment period which expires January 14th.

The DOE Makes It So Easy…Why Do They Do This?

Last week, I wrote about the Race To The Top report the US DOE came out with.  I saw Delaware’s ridiculously high graduation rates compared to all the other original Race To The Top states and I just laughed.  Turns out the Delaware Department of Education was all set to boast of this and did it in record time!  I have to redline this joke of a press release.  It is begging me to do it.  They do this all the time, and I have to wonder if anyone really cares or listens anymore about what they say.  It’s so full of their flawed methodology it’s sickening…

Delaware leads RTTT states in college enrollment gains

Delaware’s work to increase its college enrollment rates was highlighted in a U.S. Department of Education report released today looking at the progress made by states under the federal Race to the Top grant.

Say, didn’t Avi over at Newsworks dispute your drop-out claims which you openly admitted?  It stands to reason your graduation rates would be affected by that as well!  And didn’t you use to not let kids graduate if they did bad on the DSTP?  The pre-Smarter Balanced test that everyone hated?

Delaware was cited as having made the greatest gains (10.7 percent) in college enrollment. Tennessee was second at 3.3 percent.

Well la de da!  And what does that mean exactly?  Does it mean more students are taking all those remedial classes in college you like to talk about so much?  But hey, let’s have our colleges and universities make major decisions based on Smarter Balanced!  Cause that’s going to work out so well!

Race to the Top also provided Delaware students with more opportunities for Advanced Placement and pre-AP courses. The report highlights how Delaware has supported educators through more direct AP training and given districts/charters increased access to virtual courses. This has resulted in student enrollment in AP courses increasing by 9.2 percent in Delaware since 2011. In the same period, the number of AP exam scores of 3 or higher (on a 5-point scale) has increased 22.2 percent.

Too bad a score of 3 isn’t accepted by Delaware’s colleges.  Too bad the bulk of students score a three.  That is $90 per course out the window.  Be proud DOE, be proud…

In other areas of the report, First State educators were called out for their collaboration during professional learning communities as well as their school team approach to professional learning as part of the state’s Common Ground for the Common Core.

Is there still a teacher’s lounge in every school where teachers sit during lunch, relax, and talk to each other?  That is true collaboration!  Teachers complain about all the time they don’t have in school.  And you actually said the words Common Core instead of the “standards”.  You haven’t been watching other states.  Those words have become toxic…

“Delaware teachers in every school met weekly for 90 minutes in professional learning communities to analyze student work and reflect on ways to modify instruction to bridge gaps identified in student learning,” the report said.

I’ll bet that was so much fun for all these teachers.  You make it sound like it was a party.  You forced teachers to do this and most of them can’t stand you for it.

The report also praised the state for listening to educators and adjusting supports to meet their needs: “Delaware and Tennessee had initially planned to conduct large-scale training sessions to help teachers transition to new standards. However, after soliciting feedback from teachers, they changed their plans and brought school teams together for action planning and used the talents of their own excellent teachers, rather than outside consultants, to provide training.”

So why did the Vision Coalition get paid so much Race To The Top money?  What essential need did they provide teachers that teachers could have done themselves?  Rodel IS an outside consultant DOE, get it through your thick head!

Delaware also was commended for relying on groups of teachers and leaders to provide ongoing input on new approaches or strategies to improve evaluation practices. For example, the state engaged 600 teachers to develop more than 200 assessment “tool kits” that provided rigorous and comparable measures of growth in student learning for non-tested grades and subjects.

More of the teacher cabal over at Rodel/Vision.  And don’t our Delaware teachers just love DPAS-II?  Please…you disgrace every teacher in this state with this nonsense…

And the U.S. Department of Education lauded Delaware for using RTTT to provide educators with an improved and more comprehensive data system as well as for using this customized data system to help support and manage program implementation at the district level. The digital systems that Delaware developed also made it easier to report and summarize student outcomes.

I’ll bet it did!  And where is all that data going DOE?  I know, I know, “we can’t send out personal data”.  Unless it is for the furthering of education and the fix-its we all know companies love to tell us we need but they never actually fix anything.  As State Rep. Sean Matthews brilliantly said, it is “cash in the trash”.

Any Delaware Teachers Know Much About This?

I just saw this on the DOE website under jobs.  Doesn’t sound like it can be a good thing in the current climate for teachers in Delaware.  I can’t imagine the Delaware State Education Association is a big fan of this…

Job Postings

  • Special Assistant, Professional Licensure Investigations (Casual/Seasonal)

    Among the Delaware Department of Education’s (DDOE) charges is to investigate allegations that an educator violated DE Code Title 14, Chapter 12, section 1218 and determine whether cause exists to sanction an educator’s professional license. These investigations are necessary to quickly and efficiently protect Delaware’s children. The responsibility for processing and investigating allegations of misconduct against educators is delegated to the Teacher and Administrator Quality (TAQ) workgroup of the DDOE. The TAQ receives complaints from citizens of the state and mandatory reports from Local Education Agencies (LEA – charters and traditional schools), investigates the complaints/reports and provides investigative reports to the DDOE/Secretary of Education containing a recommendation for action. The TAQ of the DDOE is authorized by law to investigate reports of specified criminal conduct, violations of misconduct/immorality, and violations of certain rules, regulations, and policies by school system educators. The TAQ through the Secretary of Education imposes disciplinary action or a denial of a professional educator license.

    Under direct supervision and in accordance with state and federal laws, as well as agency regulations, the investigator conducts investigations regarding alleged educator misconduct as assigned. Based on fact documentation, testimony, and physical evidence, she/he prepares complete investigative files and submits typed comprehensive investigative reports. The investigator coordinates with the Attorney General’s Office regarding cases on appeal to the Professional Standards Board (PSB). The investigator testifies in administrative proceedings and other proceedings as required.

Read The Survey DOE Sent To Focus School Teachers To Prep Them For DOE Intrusion

The Delaware Department of Education is naming 10 Focus Schools (think Priority Lite) in addition to 4 Focus Schools which will become Focus Plus.  This is in addition to the 7 Priority Schools in Delaware.  And it doesn’t look like the soon-to-be-voted-on by the State Board of Education Regulation 103 will ease this plethora of schools the Delaware DOE wants to punish in the future.

As part of their prep work for the new Focus Schools, the DOE sent a survey for teachers to fill out.  They gave them a lot of time too.  They got it today and it has to be done by Monday.  Yes, I said Monday.  It is all voluntary, but I digress…

To say some of these questions are very intrusive would be an understatement.  The DOE is disturbing me on more levels than ever before.  And that’s just in the past two months.  What they are doing to education is going to have damaging effects on students, teachers, schools, parents, communities, and themselves.  It’s one thing to follow Federal mandate, but to do what they are doing is way beyond what any Federal mandates or even non-regulatory guidance suggest.  It’s like poor schools are the DOE’s lab rats and they keep wanting to change the catalysts to completely destroy them.  It is a sickening thing to report on, and I hate it.  The DOE has no concept of human dignity anymore, and it is shameful.  But what can I expect from a state agency that refers to educators as “Human Capital”.  But someone has to report this stuff so the public knows what is going on behind all the press releases they send out.  “Who watches the watchmen?”

Below is the survey sent to the teachers at these 10 Focus Schools.  Did this come from the mind of Penny Schwinn or Christopher Ruszkowski at the DOE?

* 1. Teachers at my school follow an established curriculum and appropriate pacing.

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
Disagree
Strongly Disagree

* 2. Teachers at my school routinely differentiate instruction based on data and the needs of students.

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
Disagree
Strongly Disagree

* 3. Teachers at my school have a strong understanding of the academic content standards that make-up the curriculum.

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
Disagree
Strongly Disagree

* 4. Teachers at my school are aware of effective instructional strategies to promote student engagement.

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
Disagree
Strongly Disagree

* 5. My school has a formal process or model for designing lessons.

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
Disagree
Strongly Disagree

* 6. Teachers at my school utilize various formative assessment strategies.

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
Disagree
Strongly Disagree

* 7. Student progress at my school is monitored regularly.

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
Disagree
Strongly Disagree

* 8. Individual teachers and/or teams of teaches set academic goals related to student achievement.

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
Disagree
Strongly Disagree

* 9. School or district developed benchmark assessments are effectively used at my school.

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
Disagree
Strongly Disagree

* 10. Teachers at my school review and analyze data together.

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
Disagree
Strongly Disagree

* 11. Teachers at my school have easy access (electronically or hard copy reports) to student achievement data.

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
Disagree
Strongly Disagree

* 12. I feel comfortable using data to inform my teaching practices.

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
Disagree
Strongly Disagree

* 13. There is an effective process to identify academically struggling students at my school.

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
Disagree
Strongly Disagree

* 14. Our school’s RTI or intervention system is effective.

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
Disagree
Strongly Disagree

* 15. Teachers new to my school are given an appropriate amount of support.

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
Disagree
Strongly Disagree

* 16. Our school has a difficult time getting good candidates to apply for openings at our school.

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
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Strongly Disagree

* 17. School sponsored professional development activities address my needs.

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
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Strongly Disagree

* 18. I receive feedback on my teaching practices at least once per month.

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
Disagree
Strongly Disagree

* 19. There is a process for teachers at my school to receive assistance and coaching when needed.

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
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Strongly Disagree

* 20. Our school has a functional building leadership team.

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
Disagree
Strongly Disagree

* 21. Teachers are often asked for input on school matters at my school.

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
Disagree
Strongly Disagree

* 22. My school’s most critical priorities are known by most staff.

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
Disagree
Strongly Disagree

* 23. Teachers participate in setting school-wide achievement goals each year.

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
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Strongly Disagree

* 24. This year my school has implemented effective strategies to engage parents.

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
Disagree
Strongly Disagree

* 25. I feel comfortable talking with school leaders (administrators or teachers) about instructional practices.

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
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Strongly Disagree

* 26. Our school does a good job of utilizing resources (time, money, personnel).

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
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Strongly Disagree

* 27. Established school rules are followed by students at my school.

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
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Strongly Disagree

* 28. School leaders at my school monitor student discipline data and implements effective systems to promote positive student behavior.

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
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Strongly Disagree

* 29. The teaching-learning process in my classroom is frequently made more difficult because of poor student behavior.

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
Disagree
Strongly Disagree

* 30. My school has implemented effective strategies to promote student attendance and punctuality to school.

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
Disagree
Strongly Disagree

* 31. My school has effective resources in place to support students’ social and emotional needs.

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
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Strongly Disagree

* 32. Students at my school are expected to achieve and conduct themselves at a high level, and students are recognized for doing so.

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
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Strongly Disagree

* 33. Teachers at my school believe students’ backgrounds are major barriers.

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
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Strongly Disagree

* 34. Teachers at my school often stay after school or work on weekends.

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
Disagree
Strongly Disagree

* 35. I am excited about the future of my school.

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
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Strongly Disagree

* 36. I believe most of my students are capable of pursuing post-secondary education.

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
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Strongly Disagree

* 37. Teachers at my school are committed to supporting new educational initiatives.

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
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Strongly Disagree
Prev Done

Delaware DOE Plans To Make Teachers Scapegoats For Smarter Balanced Scores, Don’t Fall For It Parents!

The spinsters at the Delaware DOE are at it again.  They have the Smarter Balanced scores, and they know they are terrible.  So how do you get the public behind you?  How does a State Department remain unscathed in the whole debacle?  You blame.  You scapegoat.   But it won’t work.  One, because I know.  Two, because parents aren’t as dumb as you think they are and you have ALWAYS underestimated them.  And Three, it makes absolutely no sense at all.

A couple years ago, the DOE wanted teachers to submit potential material for the Smarter Balanced Assessments.  This is not a lie.  This happened.  But it’s what American Institutes for Research (AIR) and their psychometrics division did with that material that made the Smarter Balanced Assessment what it is.  The devious ways in which questions were created, the whole “wrong answer is right but a right answer with a bad explanation is wrong” came from the demented people who created this test.  The folks behind AIR have been crafting public policy for three quarters of a century.  Did you really think they wouldn’t create a test that served their perverted worldview?

Teachers are NOT to blame for what so many of us parents opted our children out of.  That rests solely on the Delaware DOE and their contracted vendors.  Like the one we have spent $38 million on the past five years, AIR.  Delaware teachers also did NOT set the benchmarks for these tests.  That was done by the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium.  They set the cut scores last November.  And I’m sure the states will adjust them accordingly to serve their own purposes.

The spin that is about to be thrust upon this state most likely didn’t even come from the DOE or Governor Markell, but one of the consultants the DOE loves to hire.  Here is a novel idea DOE: if you want to solve the whole problem with the Smarter Balanced scores, just get rid of the test.  Problem solved!

Governor Markell Bashes On Vouchers While Also Slamming Public Schools And Opt-Out But Fails To Realize His Policies Are Promoting The Idea

Delaware Governor Jack Markell has painted himself into a corner, and his escape latch is disappearing by the day.  In an article in EdWeek and also the Governor’s blog on his own website, Markell went to town on school vouchers while opposing opt-out, cherry-picking what schools kids should go to, and glorifying standardized testing.  I am against whole-sale school voucher programs, but sometimes there is NO choice.

With the next presidential campaign getting under way, pundits have quickly focused more on the horse race than on where the candidates stand on important issues like improving public education.

Are you promoting anyone in particular here Jack?  Someone who is very outspoken on education reform matters that you happen to agree with?

One area that deserves far more attention is the array of proposals to divert public spending on education into private school vouchers or “education savings accounts” that can be used for private and parochial schools, home schooling, and other programs that aren’t part of the public education system.

These other parts of the public education system, would they happen to include charters, magnets and vo-cational schools?

These policies, already enacted in several states and proposed in several more, are a reminder that privatization is not a ready-made solution for every government problem.

Because it would counteract the policies you have set in place in Delaware…

Here’s why these programs don’t produce results for our students.

Neither do yours…

Everyone agrees that solid academics are the foundation for career and college readiness. Yet, according to a review by the Center on Education Policy, numerous studies have concluded that vouchers, the prime example of privatization, “don’t have a strong effect on students’ academic achievement.” If voucher programs are motivated by a desire to improve educational outcomes for our young people, and not simply to divert public spending to private education, then their unsettled and uneven history does not support continuing them.

Is Markell actually backing away from calling this Common Core, or state standards?  Wow.  Now he’s calling it “solid academics”.  Let’s pull out a report from the Center on Education Policy, a very ed reformy group.  Say, isn’t Senator Sokola on their steering committee?  If vouchers steer public funding to private education, what do you call your seven year policies which have steered public school funding to private companies?  You can’t have your cake and eat it too.

Compounding this problem is that the private and parochial schools that receive tax dollars are, in many cases, not accountable for providing a quality education to young people, particularly those most at risk of falling behind.

They also aren’t required to provide YOUR education to students, which is why parents are desiring them more and more.  And let’s bring out the “those most at risk” card again… you will play this for anything, any topic you don’t agree with.

In the public school system, states are required to establish baseline expectations of accountability through standards and testing. Although hardly beloved, standardized-test scores are the most effective method we have to identify which students need our help, which is why civil rights groups like the American Civil Liberties Union and the United Negro College Fund have been among the most vocal advocates for statewide assessments. They know it is most often poor, minority students—those who most need our help—who most often don’t receive the education they need. When we don’t provide a valid way to measure students’ achievement and hold educators and schools accountable for their academic growth, those students are too easily forgotten.

We are still waiting on the valid way for Delaware to measure students’ true achievement Governor.  But you use your corporate funded measures to label and punish schools that house those students so you can move them over to charters.  Let’s see, I’m thinking of a pot and a kettle…

Children in home, parochial, and private schools aren’t required to take state assessments. State officials can’t track these students’ growth to make sure they don’t fall behind. Private school teachers and home-schooling parents aren’t required to teach to the state’s educational standards; and they don’t have to be rigorously licensed or certified like public school educators.

Which is exactly why private schools are appealing to so many parents these days.  The fact is, many parents can’t afford them, so the very idea of a voucher system is very appealing.  You stepped into your own bear trap here Markell…

Voucher systems also divert millions of taxpayer dollars out of our public schools. While we should respect and encourage parental engagement and choice of schools—including private, parochial, and home schools—for their children, it is not acceptable to divert limited public education funding at the cost of the public schools that serve our communities.

At the risk of repeating myself, but it’s okay to divert limited public education funding to companies, non-profits and state vendors and fatten up our own Department of Education?  You reap what you sow Jack…

Public funding for these voucher programs also presents significant policy issues because so many schools affected include a religious component in their curriculum. In general, the government should not be in the business of funding programs or institutions that promote one religion over all others.

They also shouldn’t be in the business of promoting one type of public school over another, or just one curriculum, but we know that’s happening all over the country.  Education has become big business for the government.  This is pure hypocrisy.  You’re just bitching cause the money isn’t flowing to the “right” places…

But being against vouchers for these reasons isn’t enough. Political leaders have a responsibility to articulate a clear vision for what an improved public school system looks like.

Delaware parents are about to keel over and die cause they have been holding their breath for seven years waiting to see a “clear vision” of an improved public school system.

That means using parent choice among traditional, charter, and magnet schools to foster innovative instruction, and hold public schools accountable for giving students the best opportunities possible.

And here we have it, the Governor Markell legacy: Get kids out of traditional public schools by punishing those schools and send the students to “specialty” schools for free.  But doesn’t that go against the whole “common standards” ruse?  The standards must be the same, but the way they teach them  can be different?

It means demanding more rigorous college and career standards like the common core.

The mantra of the corporate education reform movement.  If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard this the past year, I could afford to send every kid in the state to a private school to get away from this ideology.

It means providing better support for our teachers, including training them to use data about student achievement effectively, and evaluating them appropriately.

Which they won’t get until the kids go on to the next grade and they will use data from a previous teacher’s teaching style to mold their own.  But we can evaluate teachers based on another teacher.  This is a program with the sole design of pushing union teachers out of education, lowering the pension funds, and getting teachers cheaper.  Call it what it is Jack..

It means more dual-enrollment and Advanced Placement courses to challenge students and reduce the cost of college.

And more high school classes exclusively set up to teach to the SAT which will become aligned to the “solid foundation” you spoke of earlier, which will then determine which colleges and courses students choose.  Big brother isn’t just watching us, he’s controlling students every move…

It means investing in high-quality early-childhood programs so all kids enter kindergarten ready to learn.

More taxpayer money flowing into the hands of all-too-eager companies to get kids college and career ready while also learning to tie their own shoes….

And it means recognizing that too many of our students arrive at school hungry and from traumatic family situations. Serving these children effectively requires different types of training and community resources.

But you fail to recognize that children from these environments do NOT perform the same as their peers, but you expect them to so you can (rinse, wash, repeat): standardize these students through God-awful tests, punish teachers, convert to charter, pay companies…

I agree with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush that policymakers should be “more daring” when it comes to education policy. But that must mean pushing the public school system to improve, not following the suggestions of a number of candidates for president and state lawmakers who would use taxpayer money on unaccountable programs that ultimately cut funding from public schools.

So is the Democrat Governor Jack Markell endorsing a Republican Presidential candidate?  Why oh why would he do that?  What could he ever hope to gain? (See Arne Duncan).  But if Hilary wins, could he gain from that? (See Arne Duncan).

Governor Markell must feel the walls closing in around him.  While doing the same to the public school system, he has put himself into such a small box that he is growing desperate.  He will attack anything that goes against his beliefs and agendas that make a ton of money for his corporate buddies.  But what he doesn’t realize is a very special kind of voucher system he has actually created.

By pushing the Common Core state standards down students throats and forcing teachers to teach to an invalid test, special education students are suffering immensely.  To the point where schools and teachers are so afraid of being punished they don’t even know how to implement IEPs for those standards.  Behavior issues are rising, and schools don’t have the time to filter through tem to see if they are a manifestation of the disability or true behavior issues.  As a result, schools are getting sued left and right by special education attorneys.  Those funds go into an educational trust for the students.  Which often go into, you guessed it, private schools or homeschooling.  Governor Markell created his own monster here by allowing the special education compensatory damage voucher program to thrive and flourish.  This is a program no parent wants but so many are forced into it.  Chew on that revelation for a little while Jack…

Arne Duncan Wants Parent Participation: Has He Been Listening? Parents Are Opting Kids Out Of Assessments He Endoreses! Wake Up Arne!

At the National PTA Conference in Charlotte, North Caroline, United States Secretary of Education Arne Duncan gave a speech about parent participation in their children’s education.  The details of his speech are below, and I am going to make comments for each paragraph.

Parents are critical assets in education. Parents can be a voice for high expectations for children and for supporting educators in creating schools where all children receive what they need to succeed. An excellent education is every child’s civil right; and while our nation has made great strides—with a record high school graduation rate and college enrollment at all-time highs—we have much further to go to ensure that every child has equal opportunity to learn.

My suggestion would be to actually listen to parents Arne.  Hundreds of thousands of parents in our country are opting their kids out of standardized assessments that your reign as Secretary has FORCED on schools through waivers and little or no choice requirements.  You are right though, an excellent education is every child’s right, which is why parents are exercising their rights to make sure our children are not forced to take assessments that have no bearing on their educational growth.

Parents can play a key role in demanding the world-class education that their children deserve. But, for many parents and families, it can be an uncertain task determining the best ways to support their children or the right questions to ask to ensure their children are learning and growing.

But one thing many parents know is tests like the Smarter Balanced Assessment and the PARCC are not valid methods to determine how our children are learning and growing.  Let me ask you Arne… you are Secretary of Education of the most powerful country in the world.  Did your education prevent that from happening for you?  Was Bill Gates education so bad that he felt the need to change it all?  Neil Armstrong?  Stephen Hawking?  So why do you want to remove that kind of education and make it so all children are forced to be the same?  Is it possible there is a lot of money to be made by making it appear children are doing bad in school?

That’s why, today, speaking from the perspective of a father of two young children, Secretary Arne Duncan described a set of educational rights that should belong to every family in America in a speech at the National PTA Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. This set of three foundational family rights can unite everyone who works to ensure that students are prepared to thrive in school and in life. These rights follow the educational journey of a student—from access to quality preschool; to engagement in safe, well-resourced elementary and secondary schools that hold all students to high standards; to access to an affordable, quality college degree.

I actually don’t have a problem with these rules.  However, the policies you have set in place put minority students, low-income students, and students with disabilities at an unfair advantage.  We can talk Civil Rights any day of the year, but what you have implemented has caused further distances in the education gaps between these sub-groups and their regular peers.  And the humiliating way you have disparaged and insulted teachers in our country is shameful.

Parents and families can use these basic—but necessary—elements of an excellent education to build deeper relationships with educators, administrators, and community leaders to support schools so that these rights become realities. At the Convention, Secretary Duncan also noted his hope that parents will hold elected officials and others accountable for accelerating progress in education and expanding opportunity to more children—particularly our nation’s most vulnerable.

I do believe parents in Oregon and Delaware were very proud of their legislators for passing parent opt-out legislation honoring a parent’s right to choose the best education for their child.  Parents will hold elected officials accountable once the scores on this year’s standardized assessments come in.  They will remember the elected officials that allowed their children to be non-proficient and in need of intervention.  Especially those parents who did not encounter these problems before.

Secretary Duncan’s discussion of this set of rights complements work by the Education Department to reach out to parents—from the Dual Capacity-Building Framework for Family-School Partnerships released last year, to tools that can help families and students select the best colleges for their needs, to support of Parent Training and Information Centers and resource hubs.

Is that way the College Board is turning the SAT into a Common Core based assessment?  One that will mirror the SBAC and PARCC assessments?  And parents don’t need training.  We need responsible people like the Secretary of Education of the USA to get his paws out of local education and stop interfering and causing constant disruptions.  We all know you want to get rid of traditional public school districts and open up charterville across the country. 

While in Charlotte, Secretary Duncan also participated in a “Future Ready Schools” panel to emphasize the importance of integrating technology into the classroom, especially as a tool for promoting equity for all students.

Ah, yes, more personalized learning modules for students to learn from home and then have a teacher go over homework questions in the classroom.  That’s very crafty.  Teachers won’t need as much education and they will just have to follow a script.  We won’t need those pesky teacher unions anymore and we can lower the salaries for these robot teachers.  Promoting equity?  Are you kidding me?  This will ensure that those who struggle the most will continue to be left behind.

To learn more about the rights that Secretary Duncan discussed today and to find other resources for parents and families, visit the Department’s Family and Community Engagement page. And, consider joining Secretary Duncan in a Twitter chat to continue the dialogue about parent involvement in education on July 1 at 1:30 p.m., ET, using #PTChat.

I hope ALL parents join that Twitter party.  I will get a lot of parents to come to that fiesta.  I hope you seriously answer the questions your advisors tell you “don’t answer that question” if you are serious about wanting parent engagement.

This was written by Tiffany Taber and can be found here: http://www.ed.gov/blog/2015/06/the-critical-voice-of-parents-in-education-2/

Delaware Parents: You Don’t Need House Bill 50 To Opt-Out

After watching the absolute degrading way some Delaware legislators handled House Bill 50, I find myself no longer caring if this bill passes or not.  With no disrespect to State Rep. Kowalko, Senator Lawson, and the many legislators who supported this bill, but it has become so watered down it is now a joke.  To the parents of Delaware: you have never needed this legislation to opt your child out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  The bill, as originally written, was always meant to stop the bullying and intimidation going on in our schools.  Yes, it codified a parents right to opt-out, but even more important, it offered protection.  This is what Senator Sokola, State Rep. Jaques, the DOE, Rodel, Governor Markell and all the opposition feared the most.

They don’t want schools to NOT be held accountable.  They don’t want teachers to NOT have their evaluations become skewed due to opt-out.  But most of all, they don’t want their data to become tarnished.  Opt-out does that, in spades.  Seeing the opposition in action has absolutely sickened me to my stomach.  These are people who do not give one iota of a crap about parents.  They are in it for themselves: for power, for an imagined standing with God knows what, for money, and for opportunity.  We all know who they are, and if I haven’t made that abundantly clear in the past year, then I will again and again, one by one.

What I can no longer do is keep going to meeting after meeting, watching vote after vote, and keep seeing a mockery made of parents and students.  Politics in Delaware is frightening.  The side deals, the messages scurried back and forth, like little rats trying to get to the prize.  The very fact that legislators and their aides are not subject to FOIA allows for all kinds of shenanigans.  I saw it yesterday as Governor Markell’s Education Policy Advisor, Lindsey O’Mara, was sending notes to legislators and texting Sokola’s legislative assistant Tanner Polce, who would then go to Sokola to say what she said.  What the hell is that?  I’m sure this goes on in politics all the time, and it’s probably not even illegal in this whacked out state, but does that make it right?  No.

We deserve better from our state.  But we continue to vote some of the same people into power again and again and then we scratch our heads and wonder why.  Sokola has been jacking up education in our state for 25 years.  That’s a quarter of a century with a lot of damage.  I’m sure, like most politicians, he had honorable intentions in the beginning.  But now he is a mockery of the office he holds, and I seriously hope a contender comes along and knocks him off his high horse.

I will be writing more about all of this, but I will no longer beg and plead to have my rights honored and those of other parents in our state.  Our rights are there.  You can’t touch them, you can’t see them, but they are as real as the stars in the sky.  Opt your kids out if you don’t like this test.  I will cheer you on the whole time you are doing it, but trying to get laws in place for this I can no longer do in the environment we live in.  What the “evil” legislators are doing is so toxic to children, and they don’t care.  They don’t live in the same world as you or I.  To so many of them, it is about what happens in their chamber at Legislative Hall in Dover.

To the teachers of Delaware: you all need to rise up and finally make a stand.  If you don’t like what is happening with your jobs, then you need to once and for all unite and do it loudly.  But do it right, and do it with pride and dignity and don’t back down.  As the saying goes, “you can’t negotiate with terrorists”, and that’s what is happening in your profession.  The fear mongering and threats held over your head cause many of you to sink into a corner.  Stop doing that.  If you believe in what you do, then stand up for it.  Fight.  Do not like a traitor like Jesse Parsley be the voice for teachers.  Call them out and name them.

Parents will fight for their children.  And this battle will continue.  The war is not over.

I am not abandoning opt-out.  At its essence it has always been a grassroots movement based on our deep and abiding love for our children and getting the policy-makers to listen.  None of us wanted this to be a perversion of our beliefs, but that’s what happened thanks to Sokola, Jaques, and all the rest.

So What Exactly Will Teachers Be Rated On If It’s Not The Smarter Balanced? And Why Administrators Are So Against Opt-Out!

Another Delaware Department of Education FOIA file!  This one shows a question and answer document regarding teacher and administrator evaluations for the 2014-2015 academic year.  For non-educators, to understand this document you would need to know about DPAS-II, the current evaluation system in Delaware for educators.  Even if the Smarter Balanced Assessment won’t be used as part of Component V from DPAS-II for this year and possibly next year, it is clear from this document the DOE holds all educators to very high standards, some of which may be beyond their ability to control.

As well, administrators evaluations are directly tied to the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  For both groups, their goals need to be aligned to the Common Core State Standards in preparation for the assessment.  It sounds confusing, and it is to me, and I welcome any educator feedback on this article.

Mark Murphy Transcript From The Delaware Way, “The Information Is Powerful”

Last week, Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy appeared on The Delaware Way with host Larry Mendte.  I posted the video the other day.  Now you can read the full transcript of the whole conversation.

Larry Mendte: Welcome back to The Delaware Way.  I’m Larry Mendte.  We’re pleased to be joined by the Delaware Department of Education, Secretary Mark Murphy.   Thank you so much for being here today.  I think it’s fair to say that there is controversy across the country on standardized testing, new standardized testing connected to Core and that you have been, your Department, has been trying to head off that type of controversy in Delaware by trying to get out in front of it.  Are you doing that because you’ve seen what’s happened in other states?

Mark Murphy: No, we’re doing that because it’s important to make sure our students and our educators and our parents understand the value of this assessment.

Mendte: So it’s the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  That’s the official title for the test.  Explain what that test is.

Murphy: It is an academic checkup.  I think that’s incredibly important for our parents to remember is that at the end of the day we want to make sure as parents that our children are making adequate progress.  That progress that they need to make so that they are ready after high school to be successful.  And the Smarter Balanced Assessment that we will administer once a year provides an academic checkup for parents, for kids, for educators.   Is that child on track?  It’s nothing more than that.

Mendte: Are parents allowed to opt out of it?

Murphy: No, parents are not allowed to opt out of it.  Testing is a part of school.  Assessments are a part of school.  It’s a part of life, it’s what we do here in public school.  And it’s incredibly important.  It provides information, #1, #2, it highlights the challenges that our students may have as individuals, and as a State it provides us with great information about how to shape our funding decisions, how to shape our policy decisions.

Mendte: Why wouldn’t parents be allowed to opt out of it.  I know there is a movement, there’s some legislation asking for parents to be able to opt out of it.  And there are also some parental organizations asking for that.  Why wouldn’t you allow that?  Does it have to do with funding?

Murphy: No, it does not have to do with funding.  It has to do with the importance of information.

Mendte: Let me back up for a second.  Federal government says you have to have 95% involved, and that is linked to funding, right?

Murphy: That is absolutely the case, yes.  But that aside, the information is powerful.  It provides all of us with an understanding about how our children are doing.  First and foremost, the kids themselves, but right on through us policy makers.  And if we do not have the ability to measure the progress our kids are making, then we do not have the ability to make great educational decisions, from the classrooms right through to the Legislature.

Mendte: Let me go through some pushback on it and you can answer the questions.  Some parents are concerned that the tests are too hard, that it’s much too difficult than any of the tests they’ve had in the past, and they don’t want their kids to be the lab rats for this new test.  What about the fear that the children will be taught just for the test, they ‘ll be taught just to take a test and not necessarily what they need to know in life?

Murphy: In schools that have done a poor job in the past decade, they have done all this test prep work.  I agree that is a common fear that we hear and is often perpetuated.  But it is not the case in our high quality schools and in the hearts of our educators.  What our educators are doing is teaching to a set of standards.  What do our students need to know and be able to do to be successful later and the test is a measuring stick, it’s an academic checkup on those standards.

Mendte: You can assure me that a teacher who realizes that they may be measured by a test wouldn’t teach for the test?

Murphy: So if they, there is a couple ways to think about this.  The first is that you’re not teaching for the test, you’re teaching for a set of standards.  But the test measures those standards and the teachers  measuring those standards every day and every week and trying to see “Are the students making progress?”  And in some ways they are teaching for the test because the test is a measurement tool against the standards.  But let’s not overdo it here, cause some of this nonsensical test prep work that has gone on over recent decades does not help kids.  What we need to do is make sure that kids have great, real, authentic problems to solve in school and that they are demonstrating their knowledge in real life kind of ways.

Mendte: Well, as we move along, you pointed out “Why didn’t I have you in yet, because education is such a big issue,” and I agree with you and I’d really love for you to come back.

Murphy: My pleasure.

Mendte: Thank you so much. The Department of Education Secretary Mark Murphy.  That wraps it up for The Delaware Way.

It Came From The FOIA File! DOE’s TPA Report & How Does Pearson Fit In?

No, this isn’t Office Space.  That was a TPS report.  But it sure does feel like the Delaware Department of Education runs just about the same!  Did you ever wonder how the DOE gets all their wonderful knowledge about teachers?  They get it from other corporate education reform companies like Pearson!  This file is from the infamous FOIA that another individual received early last month.  This may shed some light on some things for teachers in Delaware and why the DOE always seems like they are out to get them.  Remember, Pearson had a hand in this!  Chris Ruszkowski, the director of the Teacher Leader Effectiveness Unit at the DOE, must salivate when he gets reports like this.

DSEA Passes Resolution For No Confidence In Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy

This past weekend, the Delaware State Educators Association passed a resolution indicating they have no confidence in Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy to effectively lead Delaware in education.  As reported by Avi Wolfman-Arent on WHYY/Newsworks today,

The resolution comes shortly after unions representing teachers at the state’s two largest school districts passed a similar measure. It also points to growing discord between the union and state leaders, who once earned kudos for working together,  but recently have clashed over teacher evaluation, teacher training, and the use of standardized tests.

“It is no secret that many public school employees are frustrated by the decisions and actions coming out of the Department of Education,” said union president Frederika Jenner, in a statement. “This past weekend, that collective frustration manifested itself in a vote of ‘No Confidence” in Secretary Murphy.”

The resolution stopped short at Murphy, and did not call out the Delaware Department of Education and the State Board of Education which the Christina and Red Clay Educators Association both did in their resolution last week, but it sends a very clear message that educators in Delaware are fed up with the policies of the Department and believe it is time for a change.  I think the majority of the citizens of Delaware are also reaching this point…

To read more on this story, please go here: http://www.newsworks.org/index.php/local/item/79647-delaware-teachers-union-votes-no-confidence-in-secretary-of-education?l=dt

Why Schools Need To Be Okay With Upset Parents of Students With Disabilities

I posted my last article of 2014 last night, and I talked about how my son needed an MRI after he received a concussion at his school stemming from his 8th physical assault since the end of August.  Since then, the number one question I have received is why.  That’s not an easy question for me to answer.  If I knew the answer I could try to fix the problem

It’s very easy for me to focus on Priority Schools, FOIAs, charter school financial mismanagement and non-profit tax forms for educational lobbyist groups.  The answers come very easy for me with just a little bit of investigation.  Disability bullying is a very tough topic.  It’s personal for me because it involves my son.  And I will need help from other parents who have gone through or are going through these types of ordeals.  This needs to be an ongoing conversations between parents and schools.  It can’t just be the schools. Continue reading “Why Schools Need To Be Okay With Upset Parents of Students With Disabilities”

The Priority Schools Petition Needs You! @BadassTeachersA @hanna_hurley @edtraveler @DelawareToday @WDEL @wboc @CapeGazette @DoverPost @Avi_WA @WHYY @witn22 @DoverPost @TheStateNews @SunTimesJenn @journalistandre @MikeOnMilford @acherry13 #netde #Delaware #edchat #eduDE #prioritizethat

We need more people to sign the petition against the Priority Schools! It only takes 30 seconds, and you are done! These children in these schools are being used by a state that cares more about data and greed than true education. Don’t let the students at the six schools be treated as something less than what they are. It’s all about turning them into charter schools. These children need the educators they have. These educators actually care about these students. They could go to other schools. But no, they choose to stay and fight. For the children of Wilmington. Please sign today, every voice and signature DOES make a difference!

http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/lets-make-priority-schools-a-real-priority-2

Part 3 of Christmas Presents for the Enemies of Delaware Public Education @KilroysDelaware @ed_in_de @RCEAPrez @Apl_Jax @ecpaige @Roof_O @DelawareBats #netde #eduDE #Delaware #edchat

touchette

First up is a man who is not known outside of the education world in Delaware.  But he will have a huge effect on the education landscape starting in March.  He is the spearhead of the Smarter Balanced Assessment at the Delaware DOE.  He is also a data freak.  Brian Touchette, we have found a more effective way for you to play with data.

datatoy

This is data you can play with anytime you want.  It can’t be used to close schools or judge teachers and students.  You can play with Data 24 hours a day, all week long.  But please, stop using our children as data.  They have individual minds.

ruszkowski

Next up is our surfer dude at the DOE.  As chief of the teacher effectiveness group, Chris Ruszkowski is tasked with finding ways to make teachers less effective by drowning them in professional development and more nefarious ways to make them look bad.  His plans didn’t work out too well in 2014 as 99% of teachers in Delaware were effective or better.  We know there is a contract bid for an evaluation of the system your group helped to create, but might we suggest something that has worked through the years?

ruskowskipresent

For your Christmas present, we thought you could benefit from a group skydiving gift certificate.  The key word here is group, as it takes a collaborative effort with all stakeholders to get results.  Demeaning and ridiculing our educators is NOT effective, and the only way you will ever get their respect is through something we like to call teamwork!

visionnetwork

For the group that can’t seem to figure out what year their conquest of Delaware schools will happen, we have a simple Christmas gift for you.  Like Mr. Touchette above, this is a vision you can play with anytime you like.  We just don’t want you sharing your vision with our state moving forward.  Your plan reeks with the stench of corporate education reform, and we grow tired of it.

This is Vision.  He’s an Avenger.  This will be his year, because he will be in the upcoming Avengers: Age of Ultron movie.  The Vision is a soulless android who can become intangible.  Kind of like your vision for education in Delaware.

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