Kilroy, Stop The Union-Bashing! You Have MUCH Bigger Fish To Fry!

Every once in a while, Kilroy posts something about me.  It is usually in regards to some comment someone made over on his blog.  But lately, especially on social media, I see Kilroy taking potshots at DSEA and a couple of members in particular.  This led to a dust-up on Kilroy’s Facebook page tonight, over all things, social justice.

It appears Kilroy didn’t understand the context and went into a tirade over it.  This led to other commenters talking about the validity of unions and how the dues work.  Steve Newton completely evaporated the opposition and proved conclusively that union dues come with the application for a teaching job in Delaware school districts.  It isn’t a question of right or wrong, it is just the way it is.

Kilroy needs to stop trying to poke holes into DSEA and their upcoming elections and really focus on the things that are happening outside of teacher unions.  Like the complete and utter privatization of public education if certain parties get their way.  Like the Rodel-led hijacking of Delaware’s Every Student Succeeds Act state plan.  Like the Christina-charter school settlement that will take away funds from every single school district in the state for things that are rightfully excluded from charter payments.  Like an incoming Governor who has not announced any leadership positions for Delaware education with a little over a month before his inauguration.  Like the swarm of education technology in our classrooms that is collecting a plethora of private student information with algorithms we will never know about.  Like how it doesn’t matter who won President of the country, that march to privatization continues.  Like the “Bad News Betsy” that will make Arne Duncan and John King look like rank amateurs.  Like the stealth tests coming our way sooner than we think in Rodel’s when you wish upon a star personalized learning and competency-based education environment.

For someone who claims to support teacher unions, he sure does talk about them a lot.  Especially their role in Race To The Top.  Six years ago.  Which, I might add, all nineteen school districts signed up for, along with the Delaware PTA and every other education organization in the state.  To say DSEA was the only party that led RTTT into Delaware is very misleading.  Being real here, I wasn’t involved in all of this when RTTT came out.  So my window on this is seen in perceptions of that time from others after the fact in the past few years.  But there comes a time when beating it over us is not productive.  Who is still in DSEA leadership from that time?  I don’t think anyone running for DSEA leadership was instrumental in the decisions from six years ago.  But if Kilroy has a grandchild in Red Clay, he needs to get up to speed with what is going on in education.  Cause it is not pretty and he needs to be on the right side of things.  I admire the hell out of Kilroy.  He got me my start in the Delaware blogosphere.  And I want him to focus on more because he has a great deal of influence on education.

In terms of social justice, I’m not sure what context Kilroy took it in, but as a result of Kilroy’s post, Mike Matthews updated his status to show what his definition of social justice is:

Social justice means to me…

…standing at a school board meeting begging for more supports for special needs students.

…going to Dover and speaking in support of the Opt Out movement before the House education committee.

…reading a book to kindergarteners on why sharing and respect are key values.

…protesting the State’s attempts to shut down community schools because of test scores.

…letting a Black student know that when all around them they feel like the world hates them, that their life DOES matter.

…demanding that Delaware get off the list of four states that doesn’t fund ELL students.

…ensuring that ALL students know that a classroom is a place where they can be themselves — no matter how different — and be accepted.

…organizing educators to make sure they understand their rights to speak up and ADVOCATE for their students when the time comes.

Social Justice, to me, is about education and NEVER indoctrination. Social justice is about respect. Kindness. Acceptance. Organizing. Advocating. Speaking up. Believing in who you are as a human being and being able to take action to fight for the most vulnerable.

That’s what social justice is. While that phrase may be dangerous to some, I will always wear it like a badge of honor.

Besides, it’s too much fun being an outspoken pain in the ass sometimes.

 

Well said Mr. Matthews.  That is some social justice I can get behind.  While I have been critical of DSEA leadership in the past, I have always seen the potential of what a united and strong DSEA could become in this state.  A DSEA that will have to align with parents in the coming years if they want to save public education.  Perhaps that is why I have been critical of DSEA at times because I have high expectations for them to be the voice that has the power to influence public education in this state, not be an observer while others feast on the scraps.

We ALL need to be concerned about Donald Trump and his very poor selection of Betsy DeVos as U.S. Secretary of Education.  Trump really doesn’t have a clue about education.  But he will surround himself with people who do.  And what they know and what they have planned is not good.

 

The Bizarre Death Threat Against Jack Markell

A man from Warwick, MD was arrested yesterday based on a Facebook death threat he made against Delaware Governor Jack Markell and a female from Middletown, DE.  Roger Matthews was charged with Threatening the Life of a Public Official according to the Delaware State Police Newsroom.

The specific threat has not been released.  I was able to view Roger Matthews Facebook account as it appears to be public.  If you go to that link, I would not classify it as safe for work.  The Delaware State Police mentioned the death threat was from November 6th but I was not able to see this on Waters’ Facebook account.  There was, however, a reference to Markell on an October 31st post.  In the very twisted post, Matthews claimed to “have dirt” against Markell involving the Amazon warehouse in Middletown and that Markell sent the Delaware State Police to assassinate his son.  He also alleged that the Amazon building was “built to fall down“.  There is a very specific death threat against Markell in the post but since there is so much foul language and hatred in the post I will not post it here.  But judging by the many other posts on his account, this is a very disturbed man with many issues.  The Middletown woman, who is somehow related to a relative of Matthews did not have her name released.

Waters shared the below photo on Monday which had over 800 comments on it regarding the right to bear arms.  He also seems to have a very deep hatred of Muslims based on his posts.

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I sincerely hope this man gets the help he very desperately needs.  While I am certainly not one of Markell’s biggest fan, threatening anyone on social media can get you arrested.  But a death threat against a public official is serious business.  Whatever grievance someone may have against another human being, wishing death upon them is not the answer.  I can’t imagine it would be easy for Markell or his family seeing this information.  I would not wish that on anyone.

Some things in this world are just disturbing on many levels, and this is one of them…

 

 

House Bill 399 Senate Transcript Part 1: Sokola Gets His Pinocchio On

Senator David Sokola did not present the entire truth to the Delaware Senate last night when he gave his introductory remarks to House Bill 399 and introduced an amendment to the bill.  I immediately saw what he was doing and it worked because the amendment which completely changed the original bill overwhelmingly passed the Senate.  I find this legislative process, with no one able to rebut or correct Sokola’s statements a serious flaw in our law-making process.

His remarks concerned the DPAS-II Advisory Sub-Committee, forged out of legislation last year.  The group met last fall and this winter to come up with new recommendations in the DPAS-II evaluation system for Delaware teachers.  The group had many recommendations, but the sticking point with the Delaware Department of Education was an administrator not having the final say for which assessment to use in the Component V of DPAS-II.  They didn’t feel as though teachers and an administrator should have an adult conversation and be able to mutually agree on this.  I wrote extensively about what happened during the last few sub-committee meetings and it completely contradicts the version Sokola gave his peers in the Delaware Senate.  As well, in reaction to comments given by ex-Delaware DOE employee Atnre Alleyne at the Senate Education Committee meeting on Wednesday, one of the chairs of the sub-committee gave her version of other events transpiring out of those meetings.  In return, Atnre had many things to say about House Bill 399 in the past week.  He was absolutely right on one point:

But if anyone is paying attention, this is the week when powerful interest groups take the unsuspecting masses to school. It is the last week of Delaware’s legislative session and while most are ruminating on 4th of July plans, pressure groups are seeing their bills breeze by on their way to becoming law.

What he fails to distinguish is how he himself represents several public interest groups which I have referred to numerous times as corporate education reform.  Stacked to the brim with flawed research and reports, they manipulate the masses into thinking teachers are bad and the unions will make sure they stay in schools no matter how bad they are.  I may have had issues with the Delaware State Education Association over opt out last winter (to which I admittedly overreacted), but I think most can agree that if a teacher is really bad, they most likely aren’t going to be around for too long.  Is there such a thing as a perfect teacher?  Probably not.  We are, after all, only human.  No one is perfect.  But I will stress, once again, that anything using a monstrosity like the Smarter Balanced Assessment as an indicator of a student or a teacher’s performance is the high point of insanity.  But Senator David Sokola doesn’t seem to care about that aspect, as indicated by the below remarks he gave the Delaware Senate last night:

Sokola: Thank you Madam President. I’m going to talk very briefly about House Bill 399 before going to the amendment.  It was, the process of the DPAS II Advisory Committee was to, uhm, set up, uh, in the past from House Joint Resolution #6.  And we had various stakeholders who, uhm, met quite a few times, as well as a sub-committee, uh, to this group to look at the evaluation of, uhm, teachers.  Uhm, that, uhm, process got a little discombobulated towards the end of the process, and uhm, there were a number of versions of a bill drafter over a period of a few weeks.  And I was not satisfied at, at that.  Various groups were continuing to meet, and discuss, to try to come to a consensus on the issues. So, uh, with that in mind I would like to ask that Senate Amendment #1 to House Bill #399 be read and brought to the Senate.

Senator Patti Blevins: Senate Amendment #1 is before the Senate. Senator Sokola…

Sokola: Thank you Madam President. This amendment actually does a few things.  The one that it does is it does give the administrator final say on components, the components of the teacher evaluation process.  Dr. Susan Bunting (Superintendent of Indian River School District and Chair of the DPAS-II Advisory Committee) had, uh, sent a letter to the education committee for the last meeting.  That was very important.  It turned out a number of the proponents in the bill as it was indicated that they thought, uhm, uh, that was the intent of the bill anyhow.  I made a suggestion that we make that very clear in the amendment.  This amendment does clarify that the administrator does maintain the final say or discretion to determine whether the state standardized assessment should be used as part of the educator’s evaluation.  It also clarifies proposed changes to DPAS-II evaluation system as recommended, uhm, intended to be piloted in three education institutions over a work period of two years.  It has an input, information and deletes section 7 of the bill in its entirety.  Are there, uhm, any questions?  I’ll attempt to answer them.  Otherwise I’d like to ask for a roll call on Senate Amendment 1.

Roll call on Senate Amendment #1: 18 yes, 2 no, 1 absent

Sokola makes it sound like the consensus issues were within the DPAS-II Advisory Sub-Committee.  They were not.  It was between the group’s recommendation and outside groups, like PACE, which was meeting with Alleyne and former Teacher Leader and Effectiveness Unit Chief Chris Ruszkowski in the weeks prior to their engagement with the committee.  To say Alleyne had a bias would be an understatement.  He and Ruszkowski were the two main guys at the DOE for the DPAS-II having Component V in it to begin with.

What Sokola never mentioned in his remarks and with little time for every Senator on the floor to read the full and lengthy amendment while discussion was also going on about the amendment, was a brand-new insertion into the legislation.  This insertion was to include student and parent surveys in the pilot program.  This drew the ire of teachers all across the state today if social media is any indication.  This idea came from Atnre Alleyne in his many comments and blog posts about this bill.  But Sokola took all the credit for it on Mike Matthews Facebook page today:

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To be continued in Part 2 dealing with a 2nd amendment, heartburn, and more!

 

New EastSide & Family Foundations Executive Director Aaron Bass Meets John King…

What can we expect from Aaron Bass, the incoming Executive Director of EastSide Charter School and Family Foundations Academy?  From the picture below, it looks like he knows some pretty big education figures, like none other than United States Secretary of Education John King.  The below write-up on how Bass and King happened to meet is from EastSide’s public Facebook page.

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Aaron Bass, Executive Director – Designate of Eastside Charter School of Wilmington and Family Foundations Academy of New Castle was invited to meet with United States Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. and senior U.S. Department of Education officials, and spent a day of learning and advising, as part of the Principals at ED effort on Friday, May 20 in Washington, D.C.

This fifth meeting in the series of Principals at ED visits focused on the “Principal Pipeline, Retention and Support.” The goal of visits is to bring groups of innovative and successful principals from across the country to the Education Department to learn more about federal programs and to share experiences from their jobs as school leaders. Throughout the day, the principals will meet with senior staff from across the agency to learn about and give input on a variety of the Department’s programs, policies and initiatives.

“Great school leadership matters now more than ever. So much of the work ahead rests on the leadership of principals and educators in our schools and classrooms who make a difference in students’ lives every day,” said Secretary King. “What happens in classrooms and school buildings shapes students’ lives and opportunities—particularly for students who have the odds most stacked against them. I saw that impact not only when I was a teacher and a principal, but also when I was a student. Teachers literally saved my life, and they were the reason I became a teacher and a principal. Programs like this allow the Department to hear directly from principals across the nation and learn their perspectives on leading schools that provide opportunities to all students.”

Executive Director Bass was invited to participate in the program, in recognition of his strong work in school leadership and his broader activities around advocacy for elementary and secondary education.

The visit is coordinated through the Department’s Principal Ambassador Fellow (PAF) program. In 2013, the U.S. Department of Education launched the first PAF program, modeled on the Teaching Ambassador Fellowship program, in order to better allow local leaders to both contribute their knowledge and experience to the national dialogue about public education and, in turn, learn more about education policy at the federal level. Now in its third year, four highly-talented principals are continuing to work for the Department on a full- and part-time basis. The PAF program is one means of recognizing the critical impact that principals have on instruction and student achievement; school climate and improvement; and community and family engagement.

Oh boy!  He isn’t even the official Executive Director and he is already hob-knobbing with John King!  Delaware has many excellent principals.  Why weren’t any of them invited to this shindig? If they were, I have yet to hear about it.  Let me know and I will write about it!

Have You Signed The “Parent Bill of Rights for Education” Change.org Petition Yet? This Is Not The “Testing Bill Of Rights” From Center for American Progress

Two weeks ago, I posted the “Parent Bill of Rights for Education”.  As a result of posting this on Facebook to various education groups that promote opt out, Facebook banned me for two weeks from posting to groups or joining groups.  So I created a petition on Change.org.  Please sign it today if you haven’t already.  When you finish, please share the Change.org link or this one on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Reddit, or anywhere else you can think of.  Share it with your family and neighbors.

This was a reaction to the “Testing Bill of Rights” promoted by the Center for American Progress, an education reform company that heavily supports high-stakes testing and Common Core.  They are against opt out and hope to make more money from their education reforms.  Their petition, which they claim has 11,000 signatures in the past two weeks, does nothing to protect a parent’s right to opt their child out of the state assessment.  Their claim that reducing testing, while getting rid of the tests that do matter, is bogus.  Don’t believe me?  Take a look at some of their recent tweets:

So what is the “Parents Bill of Rights for Education”?

THE PARENTAL BILL OF RIGHTS FOR OUR CHILDREN IN EARLY EDUCATION, PRE-SCHOOL, ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION

CONCERNING HIGH-STAKES STANDARDIZED ASSESSMENTS, OUR RIGHT TO OPT OUT OR REFUSE OUR CHILD OUT OF THOSE ASSESSMENTS, THE COLLECTION OF STUDENT DATA, AND OUR RIGHT TO GATHER

BE IT ENACTED BY THE PARENTS OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

Definition of parent: any biological parent, or a parent through legal adoption, or foster parent, or guardian, or court-appointed guardian, for children through the ages of birth to 18 or 21 with guardianship through the end of an IEP, whichever is later.

Whereas parents have been given the responsibility to raise a child and to help guide them to adulthood, as their primary caregiver, and

Whereas parents, through United States Supreme Court decisions and other laws, have the right to decide what is best for our children in education matters until they come to a legal age when they are able to make those decisions on their own, and

Whereas, we believe public education should be reserved for the public at large and not the corporations, be they profit or non-profit, and that decisions based on education are best made at the local level, and

Whereas, we believe any assessments given to our children should provide immediate feedback for the student, teacher, school, and parent as defined for the sole purpose of giving reasonable and interpretive analysis of academic progress for our child’s allotted grade.

Whereas, as the caretakers of our children, we demand that decisions regarding data and the collection of data are parental decisions and that we furthermore have the absolute, unconditional right and ability to consent or not consent to any sharing of said data

(1) As parents, we have the fundamental, moral, and constitutional right to make decisions on behalf of our children in regards to their education.

(a) This includes the type of school we decide they go to, whether it be in a traditional school district, public charter school, vocational school, private school, home school, or home school co-op.

(b) This includes our ability to refuse or opt our children out of standardized assessments despite accountability measures placed upon a school.

(1) Once we have submitted our letter indicating our choice to refuse or opt out our child, we shall receive no verbal or written words meant to threaten, bully, or intimidate, in an effort, whether intentional or coincidental, to coerce us into changing our minds.

(2) We expect our children to receive instruction while their peers take the state assessment that is of equal or greater value to the type of instruction they would receive prior to or after the administration of the state assessment.

(3) If our child is forced to take a test after we have already given our consent to refuse or opt out, we reserve the right to call the local police and press charges against the local education administration.

(4) If we witness parents who are bullied or intimidated, we will advocate on their behalf with their consent, if they feel they are unable to do so.

(2) We reserve the right, as dictated by United States of America Federal Law, Title 34, Subtitle A, Chapter 1, Part 99.32 (b), to request all personal identifiable information sent as data or official records to all parties indicated in the entirety of Title 34, Subtitle A, and to receive the entire list of all those who have disseminated, received, or researched said data, and to receive such record keeping as required by federal law, within the 30 day timeframe.

(a) Parents also reserve the right to have any aggregated data on our child, which could conceivably set up a pattern of identification based on our unique and individual child’s health records, social-emotional behavior, discipline, socio-economic, or any such identifiable trait or history of said traits, be banned from any education research organization, personalized learning computer system, or blending learning computer systems, standardized assessment(s), or any other form of educational environment practice or computer-based digital learning environment, whether it is through algorithms already built into a system or any other form of data collection that does not include the legal definition of personal identifiable information, at our request.

(1) This would also include any State Longitudinal Data System, or any Federal system, up to and including the Federal Learning Registry, a joint system shared by the United States Department of Education and the United States Department of Defense.

(2) Parents have the right to reject any “competency-based education” decisions for our children that we feel are not based on reasonable, valued, well-researched, or statistically-normed guidelines or analysis.

(3) Parents may freely reject any form of data collection, data-mining, or data sharing that would lead to our child having a pre-determined pathway to a career based on any such data unless we give consent for said behavior, before the actual data collection, data-mining, or data sharing by any education agency or institution, and as such, we reject and forbid any trajectory-based decisions for our child unless we have given complicit consent.

(3) For any education decisions regarding our children that we, as parents, feel is not safe, or is inadequate, or is unhealthy for our children, we hereby reserve the right to be able to give public comment to any governing body, without incident or refusal, based on compliance with existing, applicable, and reasonable rules of public meeting conduct, based on our First Amendment Rights.

(4) As parents, we reserve the right to gather, discuss, and give advice to other parents or concerned citizens, in any public meeting or gathering place or social gathering place, whether it is physical or on the internet, without censorship, removal, or banishment, based on existing, applicable, and reasonable rules of conduct set forth by the host of the public meeting place or social gathering place.

(5) Parents have the right to lobby elected officials or local school board officials or state board of education officials, regarding pending, suggested, or passed legislation or regulation, that parents deem harmful to their child or children in general, without cause or incident, based on existing, applicable, and reasonable law.

(a) We expect our elected officials, based on their availability, to make every concerted effort to personally respond to our request(s) and to not send a generic form letter, but rather to constructively engage with parents to the same effort they would with any official registered lobbyist who is paid to do so.

(6) As parents, we reject the ability of corporations to “invest” or “hedge” in education with financial predictors of success, including social impact bonds, or any other type of investments where financial institutions or corporations would gain financial benefit or loss based on student outcomes, as we believe a child’s education should be based on the unique and individual talents and abilities of each child, not as a collective group or whole.

(7) As parents, we believe our child’s teacher(s) are the front line for their education, and therefore, have the most immediate ability and responsibility to guide our children towards academic success, and therefore, should have the most say in their instruction.

(a) Therefore, we believe no state assessment can give a clear picture of a teacher’s ability to instruct a student or group thereof, and therefore, we reject any evaluation methods for teachers based on high-stakes standardized testing.

(b) Therefore, we believe a teacher’s best efforts should remain at the local level, in the classroom, and not to conform to a state assessment or to guide instruction towards proficiency on a state assessment, but rather on the material and instruction present before the students based on the material and instruction they have learned before.

(8) We reject any basis of accountability or framework system meant to falsely label or demean any teacher, administrator, school staff, or school, based on students outcomes as it pertains to state or national standardized assessments.

(9) As parents, we are the primary stakeholders for our child’s education, and therefore demand representation on any group, committee, task force, commission, or any such gathering of stakeholders to determine educational decisions for children, be it at a local, state, or national level.

(a) We demand equal or greater representation on any such group as that allotted to outside corporations.

 

The Irony Of Mark Zuckerberg & Facebook Jail For A Parent Bill Of Rights For Education

As I look back on the last 20 hours or so, I am still in shock over my Facebook banning.  Frankly, with the thousands of articles I’ve written on here and posted all over education groups on Facebook, I’m shocked it didn’t happen sooner.  It makes me wonder, what was it about this post, a “Parent Bill of Rights” for education, written in reaction to the education reform tainted “Testing Bill of Rights”, that caused this banning on Facebook?  Did I fly too close to the sun with my “Parent Bill of Rights in Education”?  I could hypothesize all day long who may have complained to Facebook, but the plain simple fact is this: I’ve ticked off many in nearly two years of blogging.

But what if it was more than someone just complaining?  Others have been banned from posting in groups before.  But have they had the groups they administer decimated?  The Delaware Opt Out district groups (all 20 of them), the Refuse The Test Delaware page, and Delaware Against Common Core?  While I can see the posts I put on those groups, others can’t.  Why are they restricting others from seeing what I’ve written?  This is censorship at it’s absolute worst.  I would love to know the justification for my two week ban.  What criteria do they use?   I saw their community page, but nothing in my article called out anyone, threatened anyone, bullied, or harassed anyone.  There was no sexual content or nudity.  Nothing remotely bad.  Especially compared to what I’ve written before!

I have to think, whatever is going on, I rattled someone.  So bad, they wanted to shut me up fast.  Which tells me they are worried.  Scared.  On edge.  I’ve always suspected opt out was very dangerous to the corporate education reformers.  But when you encourage parents to demand data on their children isn’t sent out at an aggregate level, that’s a whole other level of opt out.

What scared them is how fast it got out there.  Within minutes of my posting the article to different Facebook groups, it was being shared by like-minded readers.  But the action on Facebook’s part had a rebound effect.  A very big thank you to the always awesome Emily Talmage for announcing my Facebook jail status.  Nobody likes to be censored, and nobody likes to see someone being censored (unless you’re a corporate education reformer).  This caused the “Parent Bill of Rights” to become bigger than I ever thought it would.  Which is more ironic, the fact that censorship led to greater views or that Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook banned a post that actually talked about parents being censored?

If you agree with the “Parent Bill of Rights for Education”, please sign the petition on Change.org today.  Many have signed already.  And if you should want to share this post or the change.org petition on Facebook, please do so.  Until April 8th, I can only write and post on my own Facebook status.  What I learned yesterday was how many parents agree and are in solidarity about the rights of parents and children.  That’s a very good thing.

 

Has Mike Matthews, President of RCEA, Been A Double Agent For Rodel?

It turns out Rodel is having a Personalized Learning Workshop on February 27th.  Because I “liked” the Rodel Foundation on Facebook, I get to see all their ads.  Every. Day. I only did it so I could see what they are doing.  Honest.  But one thing is for sure: I have never been in one of their advertisements.  Mike Matthews, the President of the Red Clay Education Association… that’s a different story:

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The big question: Is Mike going to this Personalized Learning Workshop? Is he indeed a double agent? The clues are all there. I have seen Mike at Legislative Hall the same time as Rodel lobbyists. I even saw him there the same time as Paul Herdman, the CEO of Rodel. As for me, I won’t be attending this event. For me, it’s about as exciting as a fart in a spacesuit.

If you are friends with Mike Matthews on Facebook, get the real story.

Can Charlie Copeland’s First Responder School Knock My Socks Off?

I have never heard of a charter school basing their model solely on first responders.  I’ll just get that out in the open.  It is a rather unique model, but for a secondary school model?  I don’t know if I would choose to send my child there, even if he wanted to be a first responder.  Apparently, many parents agree as the school’s enrollment is precariously low.  Even though the Charter School Accountability Committee thinks things are on the upswing, it is based on estimates.  If their current trends continue, Delaware Academy of Public Safety & Security will be on life support very soon.  The DOE will be on them, STAT! (Sorry, had to do it!)

The Delaware GOP Chairman, Charlie Copeland, is also the President of DAPSS Board of Directors.  When I posted an article about the school’s low numbers the other day, Mike Matthews shared the article on Facebook which drew Copeland to the school’s defense.  He responded to my many questions about their enrollment issues and the timing of their modification request with the following:

Just simply call the school and take a tour. You can get answers to all your questions. Be prepared to have your socks knocked off. Life is so much simpler if you just do the right thing rather than join the wackos who make up conspiracies.

I may just take him up on it!  I’ve never had my socks knocked off!  In the meantime, take a look at the Charter School Accountability Committee’s initial report on their major modification request to officially lower their already low enrollment.

Providence Creek Academy’s Official Response To The Auditor’s Report

Providence Creek Academy wrote an official response to the Delaware Auditor of Account’s investigative report on their school finances which showed outright theft of school funds through purchase cards and the payroll system.  This appeared on the Providence Creek Academy Facebook page today at 7:32pm.

The Board of Providence Creek Academy Charter School wishes to address the January 27, 2016 Inspection Report issued by the State of Delaware Office of Auditor of Accounts, and to clarify information misstated in media accounts of the Inspection Report. At the end of 2014, the Board became aware of potential financial improprieties during the process of terminating an employee in charge of finances for Providence Creek Academy. The Board promptly engaged its outside auditor to evaluate the matter. The Board also self-reported its concerns to the State for it to conduct an independent audit. To the extent media reports suggest the Board was not proactive in addressing these issues once they came to the Board’s attention, or that such issues were only brought to the State’s attention through an anonymous tipster, that is inaccurate. At all times, the Board fully cooperated and worked with the auditors to identify problem areas so that appropriate remedial measures and safeguards could be enacted. The Inspection Report identifies no concerns after December 2014, which makes evident the Board’s commitment to having in place the right personnel, policies, and procedures for handling the finances of Providence Creek Academy.

The comments after this, including ones from myself, are going unanswered… for now…

*Updated 1/28/16: I took out the picture in this post.  I understand the “duct tape the teacher to the wall” picture stemmed from a charity event at the school.  I think it is hysterical and it is a classic picture!  As well, I am also taking out other posts from their Facebook page since they don’t really relate to the auditor matter.  I apologize for any staff members who may have been offended at the school.  My intention was not to offend.

Providence Creek Academy Knew About Their Financial Abuse & Still Backed Sokola’s Non-Transparency Audit Bill

As revealed just half an hour ago, Providence Creek Academy was the latest in the never-ending “Delaware Charter School Financial Abuse Scandals”.  They knew this report was coming out.  You would think they would have shut up about charter school audit bills given this information.  But no, they went on their Facebook page and encouraged parents of students to fight State Rep. Kim Williams House Bill 186, which would help prevent these scandals from happening.

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I heard Providence Creek Academy’s Head of School, Chuck Taylor, was in attendance at last week’s Senate Education Committee meeting, along with the Delaware Charter Schools Network, of which he serves as the President of their board. Unconfirmed, but on the rumor circuit is the PCA board voting to oust Chuck as soon as they get a new school leader because he is not qualified to run the school based on what they want in a school leader. The school has been without an official head of school since Chuck “resigned” back in 2013. The current principal, Audrey Erschen, has been around this whole time but the board at PCA seems to be very loyal to her, despite family members causing problems at the school in the Fall of 2014. The DOE and the State Board of Education, fully aware of some of these financial abuses and that the school was under investigation, renewed PCA’s charter last month. While the school told the Charter School Accountability Committee about how they have improved financial control through all of this, they were not exactly forthcoming about the nature of the abuses. I even congratulated them on their supposed transparency based on what I knew, which wasn’t even close to what was in this report.

Did John King Leave Delaware Yesterday? Were He And Jack Planning Common Core 2.0 Instead Of A Level 2 State Of Emergency?

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Acting US Secretary of Education John King visited Delaware yesterday.  Governor Jack Markell called a State of Emergency at 5pm yesterday.  My question: Did King leave Delaware?  Is he hanging out with Jack planning the next wave or corporate education reform?  Common Core 2.0?

Meanwhile, employees all over the state are screaming cause Markell didn’t even issue a Level 2 for the Blizzard of 2016 until just now.  In Sussex County, fears of flooding when the high tide came in at 7am this morning caused a lot of anxiety.  Freezing rain has turned the roadways into a slushy mess down there.  Central Kent County, where I live, got pounded last night.  The snow is like a thick paste here.  Police are checking drivers for work IDs up in New Castle County.  And Jack?  Where is Jack?  He said there would be an update in an hour over on his Facebook page and that just now came in, after several people already attempted to go to work but couldn’t get out of their driveways or developments and came back home if they didn’t get stuck.

This is yet another example of Governor Markell looking out for business interests over the concerns of the everyday citizens in the state he governs.  These are the types of storms where everyone else is staying “STAY OFF THE ROADS”.  People die in storms like this.  Does anyone really think they are going to get a haircut today?  Or go grocery shopping?  There’s probably nothing left on the shelves!  Meanwhile, all the surrounding states called their states of emergency before the storm actually hit.  Why does it take people blasting him all over the place before he actually does something?  During a hurricane some years back, he pulled the same thing.

I think Jack is looking at this wrong.  If kids are home, with their parents who shouldn’t be working today, that’s more time to work on closing those gaps.  Parents can help their kids to become college and career ready all weekend long!  With the right amount of rigor and grit, we will get those kids acing the best test Delaware ever made in no time!

*The above picture is not from Delaware…gotcha!

Why I Had To Kill Two Articles In One Day!

This is a first!  It is very rare that I remove an article.  Today, I had to do it twice.  The first concerned Delaware Met and closure information provided by the DOE.  They were still in the process of updating this information and wanted to make sure parents of the students there got accurate information.  The second article concerned State Board of Education member Dr. Terry Whittaker.  I was questioning why he has not been present at board meetings since September.  Shortly after I posted the article, I was informed his wife passed away last month.  This was announced publicly at the last State Board of Education meeting.  My sincerest condolences for Dr. Whittaker and his family…

Now if I have to kill a third article today, that hat trick will not be acceptable to me, so I am done writing for the night!  My apologies for those who saw these posts in their email, Facebook, or Twitter and wondered what the heck happened.  This is not something that usually happens.

The Exceptional Delaware 2015 Photo Album

Governor Markell, Kevin Ohlandt and Jacob Ohlandt, 5/14/15

2015.  It is almost over.  Before we go, I wanted to take a look back at the visuals of the past year that have graced this blog and other sites as well.  Yes, many of these pictures have not been seen by everyone who comes here.  I searched high and low for some of these shots.  In my opinion, many of these pictures give an accurate feel for many of the important topics covered on this blog in 2015.  There is an index at the end of the photo album for those who are wondering who some of these people are!  It is all here: Priority Schools, Opt-Out, Mark Murphy, House Bill 50, State Reps and State Senators, WEIC, Delaware DOE, State Board of Education, Teachers, Superintendents and more!  You never know who may show up in the below album.  It could be YOU… Continue reading

If You Want To Opt Your Child Out Of The Smarter Balanced Assessment, Just Do It! And Join A Support Group!

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I absolutely agree.  Please join any of the Delaware District Opt-Out groups on Facebook, or join Refuse The Test Delaware, the central hub for parents to meet and discuss opt-out.  All are welcome, unless you are a troll.  We don’t want you.  Go away.  We need to start gearing up for opt-out season, starting soon at a test and punish school near you.  The test is brought to Delaware by the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium and about 500 other companies that are making a KILLING in profits off our kids.  A KILLING!!!!

Just remember, opt-out is allowed and don’t let anyone tell you different.  If someone tells you that, let me know.  I will set them straight!  Worried about a confrontation?  Don’t worry.  They all know me. 🙂

Today is the day to opt your child out if you haven’t already.  Just email your child’s school principal, and let him/her know you don’t want your child to take the Smarter Balanced Assessment and you expect your child to receive instruction.  Also let the principal know this is your final decision.  If the school sends you a letter asking you to sign something about understanding Delaware law concerning opt-out, IGNORE IT.  But certainly email it to me at kevino3670@yahoo.com and I will gladly pop it up on here.  Other schools have been through this with me.  One district did the same stunt two years in a row!  You are not alone.  There are others who feel the same way you do.  I also understand many of you are just itching for the legislators to override Governor Markell’s veto of House Bill 50.  You don’t need that, but it will stop the bullying and intimidating by our school districts.  And it would also throw a big monkey wrench in the Delaware Department of Education, the State Board of Education, and Governor Markell’s harsh opt-out penalties they filed with the US Department of Education.  The US DOE still hasn’t approved them, and probably won’t until sometime next year, if they approve them at all!

If you are worried about someone watching you at this time of year, don’t worry because Santa Claus supports opt-out!!!

As well, just to be on the safe side, please email your state legislators in the House and Senate to let them know you want them to override Governor Markell’s veto of House Bill 50.  Or you can email them ALL!  They love to hear from Delaware citizens.  You can look up your State Representatives here and your State Senators here.

If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to me!  Thank you!

Kevin Ohlandt

Harris.McDowell@state.de.us MargaretRose.Henry@state.de.us robert.marshall@state.de.us greg.lavelle@state.de.us catherine.cloutier@state.de.us Ernesto.Lopez@state.de.us Patricia.Blevins@state.de.us David.Sokola@state.de.us Karen.Peterson@state.de.us bethany.hall-long@state.de.us Bryan.Townsend@state.de.us Nicole.Poore@state.de.us David.McBride@state.de.us bruce.ennis@state.de.us Dave.Lawson@state.de.us senator-colin@prodigy.net brian.bushweller@state.de.us gsimpson@udel.edu Brian.Pettyjohn@state.de.us Gerald.Hocker@state.de.us Bryant.Richardson@state.de.us Charles.Potter@state.de.us StephanieT.Bolden@state.de.us helene.keeley@state.de.us gerald.brady@state.de.us melanie.g.smith@state.de.us debra.heffernan@state.de.us Bryon.Short@state.de.us Quinton.Johnson@state.de.us Kevin.Hensley@state.de.us sean.matthews@state.de.us jeff.spiegelman@state.de.us Deborah.Hudson@state.de.us john.l.mitchell@state.de.us Peter.Schwartzkopf@state.de.us Valerie.Longhurst@state.de.us jj.johnson@state.de.us Michael.Mulrooney@state.de.us kimberly.williams@state.de.us Steve.Smyk@state.de.us Michael.Ramone@state.de.us joseph.miro@state.de.us paul.baumbach@state.de.us Edward.Osienski@state.de.us john.kowalko@state.de.us John.Viola@state.de.us Earl.Jaques@state.de.us william.carson@state.de.us trey.paradee@state.de.us bobby.outten@state.de.us Sean.Lynn@state.de.us andria.bennett@state.de.us jack.peterman@state.de.us Lyndon.Yearick@state.de.us David.L.Wilson@state.de.us Harvey.Kenton@state.de.us Ruth.BriggsKing@state.de.us Ronald.Gray@state.de.us Daniel.Short@state.de.us Timothy.Dukes@state.de.us Richard.G.Collins@state.de.us David.Bentz@state.de.us

 

While The Real Education Debate Was On Facebook Thursday Night, Jack Markell Was On Twitter!

Life always has its moments of synchronicity.  While a lot of us were debating with Tony Allen on Facebook Thursday night about WEIC, education, Wilmington, Colonial, standardized testing and charter schools, Delaware Governor Markell answered five whole questions during a #delachat question and answer over on Twitter.  Here are the questions that were posed to Markell:

And here were his responses:

And there you have it!  While I respect the Governor’s honesty about some of the things he had to overcome as a child, I just can’t support a lot of what he says.  Especially when it comes to the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  His response about negative comments to education: get in the schools and see for yourself.  Really Jack?  I know you go to a lot of schools, but do you really think kids are going to be their normal selves when the Governor is visiting?  Of course they are going to be on their best behavior.  As much as I can’t stand you sometimes, you are the Governor.  But let’s get real for a minute: if you truly recognize the great things teachers are doing, why do you insist on all the teacher evaluations and accountability for schools?

One of my favorite teachers taught me to always question something if it doesn’t seem right.  That’s why I always have questions for you Jack!  Come over to Facebook one night Jack, no holds barred.  And none of this question limit stuff.  You answer on the fly without having to think about it.  I’m sure many of us would love the opportunity!  Let me know!

One final thing Jack: This is what you looked like when you had hair:

JackForTreasurer

Bourbon, Boone’s Farm, Tony Allen & The Chicken or The Egg: The Great Facebook WEIC Debate!

The true conversations about WEIC don’t happen at all those committee meetings, they happen on Facebook.  Tonight, we got the rare privilege of having the Chair of the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission join the fray!  I’m not sure where to start, but since I started the WEIC debates today with my Colonial School District article, I guess we can start there.

Kevin Ohlandt Why I refuse to support WEIC going forward…

Tony Allen Kevin,
As always, I am happy to talk with you directly. You make several claims in here that are not substantiated.
We did meet with Ted and Dusty. I don’t consider that a “back door” meeting. They were both clear in the board’s desire to maintain the current boundaries. And yes, I disagree with their decision as I (not Dr. Rich) noted in a letter to them. However, we do want them to continue to be engaged in the overall work of the Commission which, as you know, involves much more than redrawing lines and is consistent with the FIVE YEAR charge of the Commission’s work.
Continue reading

What Happened At The Delaware Met Last Week?

Sources are telling me there was no school at Delaware Met on Thursday or Friday.  Kids got on the bus Thursday morning and arrived at the school.  When they got there, someone came on the bus and stated the school was having “electrical” problems and students were sent home.  That night, the school had a special board meeting.  Tonight they are having another with one to possibly take action on their charter.  On Friday, news started trickling about the school closing this week.

Now imagine, if you will, what happens with this.  You get up, send your kid to school, and get ready for work or a doctor appointment.  Your child comes back home and you aren’t there.  Granted, these are 9th and 10th graders, but what if they don’t have a key?  Or what if they may have disabilities and need some extra help during a normal day?  These are young teenagers, given two days off in the city of Wilmington and surrounding areas.  Free to possibly wander off and potentially get in trouble.  A school is like a contract.  If you send your child to school, you expect your child to be at school.  Did the school notify the parents right away of this sudden closure?  I’ve heard many parents were not too happy with this stunt.  There was nothing on their website or their Facebook page about this at all.  There was nothing scheduled on the school calendar for in-service days or anything like that.  Christina School District had a small fire at one of their schools and it was all over social media and the news.  With Delaware Met, not a peep.

All new schools have growing pains, but let’s look at the big picture.  If you aren’t ready to service students the day you open your doors, maybe you should close.  Why do charter schools insist on operating out of secrecy rather than transparency?  Don’t they realize that if they are open and honest and transparent it goes so much better for them?  In the past year alone we have seen situations develop at Family Foundations Academy, Charter School of Wilmington, Academy of Dover, Freire (before they even opened), Providence Creek Academy, and  now The Delaware Met.  While some events are more egregious than others, they all showed a simple lack of confidence and trust to handle a situation the right way.  Yesterday, another national blogger wrote about the number of charter schools that closed between 2001-2013.  While the list was not entirely accurate for Delaware (can’t speak for other states), it showed about 2,500 charter schools around America closed during this timeframe.  All too often, as is the case in Wilmington, these students just get tossed around from school to school to school.  That isn’t right.  Kids need consistency in their lives.  If some adults don’t know how to play in the sandbox that is public education, maybe they shouldn’t enter it.  It may look great to have on your resume “School Board Member”, or “Charter School Founder”, but if you don’t know what you’re doing it has a huge impact on kid’s lives.

As well, our very own Department of Education tries to make charter schools appear as if everything is awesome until they have no choice but to put a school on formal review.  But they are aware of the issues.  They need to take a direct hand in matters and be public about it way before the point of no return.

World War III Erupts In Christina With Hiring Of Andrzejewski As Interim Superintendent

Last night, the Christina School District Board of Education voted 4-3 to hire former Red Clay Superintendent Robert Andrzejewski become the Interim Superintendent.  Last month, Superintendent Freeman Williams left on a leave of absence.  Apparently, allegations are already making the rounds on social media that this was just one board member’s pick.  No interview was held by anyone in the district and a motion was made to vote on Andrzejewski.  Another board member introduced an amendment to this and was pushed to the side.

From Facebook: Continue reading

State Rep. Earl Jaques Slams Teacher Pay While Justifying Cuts To The Poor

Yesterday, Red Clay Education Association President Mike Matthews posted on Facebook regarding a News Journal article about cuts to the homeless in the Fiscal Year 2016 budget.  Matthews wrote:

“Shameful. Poor folks get $15 less per month but we found $1,000,000 to go to a few charter schools.”

The ensuing conversation was very much in agreement with Matthews original comment, until Delaware State Rep. Earl Jaques joined the fray…

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Obviously, this brought teaching into this conversation in a huge way.  The comments started flying:

Is Earl suggesting that underpaid teachers should make up the difference of cuts to the poor? Since Earl is part of the General Assembly, what is he recommending be cut to get that money back to the poor and when is he going to formally propose those cuts? Does he have any idea of what Mike already does for the poor? Real classy.

Earl — I don’t want to hear that argument so don’t sell it here. The argument is (expletive deleted) and you know it. Cutting general assistance to the poor so Newark Charter can build a new lab is disgusting and you know it.

But I agree with the bottom part of your comment. I just wish we had more legislators willing to be brave and do the right thing.

 Earl Jaques has reliably demonstrated, with both his words and actions, that he is both incapable and unconcerned with helping public schools best serve students and parents.

The step increases will perhaps cover the additional healthcare costs borne by the educators. I wouldn’t know, I’m at the top of the scale and don’t get steps anymore. But I still advocated for them for my fellow employees.

How about he cut HIS pay and give to the poor?

Most teachers I know give to the poor in real, tangible ways. Has EJ ever, with his own income ever purchased a coat, a pair of shoes, a backpack for a poor child? How about pay a family’s electric bill? Find an air conditioner for an asthmatic child, provided a graphing calculator for a motivated high school student who could afford her own? Figure out how to get eyeglasses for a struggling student, paid for a field trip, or year book for a child NOT related to him? Purchased a novel on CD that an English language learner could not read?
These are things that teachers do. No one forces them. It is not required of them. But many will ho-hum this litany of giving.
They expect teachers to give as they expect missionaries to lay down their lives for the faith.
And they want no reminders of the needs they choose to ignore.
I mean, who lobbies for the poor, anyway?
Allow teachers to give willingly and then try to shame them for not giving more.

Now if I were Earl Jaques, I would have probably walked away from this.  Trying to compare cuts to the poor to expensive labs in charter schools is not a wise idea in the current fiscal environment in Delaware.  Especially since this charter already got grants from other sources for this lab, including the Longwood Foundation.  But this morning he came back with the following which drew a brilliant response from Matthews:

  • Earl Jaques What you miss was that the budget is a balancing act. Everyone had needs and we try to fill as many needs as possible, but unfortunately we can’t fill every need to the level we would like. Also teachers aren’t the only state employees.
  • Mike Matthews $250,000 for a Newark Charter School expansion, Earl. This school serves a limited low-income population and they’re already at huge levels of proficiency on the state test. So why do they “need” that money? You can say all you want about everyone having to sacrifice a little, but it’s disingenuous to not qualify the level of “need” for NCS vs. the level of need of those on General Assistance.
     

Yes folks, this is the Chairman of the House Education Committee in Delaware!

Transparency Allows History To Rewrite Itself On A Daily Basis

Transparency.  We hear that word so much these days.  It is real, it is a force, and it is changing our view on every subject matter in seconds.  In the pre-internet days, we relied on word of mouth as well as what was shown in print media.  As students, we read the history books and we accepted whatever we read at face value.  But now the rules have changed, and with this comes more enlightenment than Voltaire ever counted on.

I was watching an episode of Sleepy Hollow yesterday, and someone said something to Ichabod Crane about freedom of the press.  Crane, trapped in the year 2015, after magic put him in a dark sleep in the ground for over two centuries, responds with “I don’t think the forefathers counted on a 24-hour news cycle.”  They certainly did not.  No one could have predicted that.

A state Department comes up with an idea.  They work feverishly for months to plan it.  The day comes when they announce their agenda to the world.  They put it on their website, send press releases to the major print media, and it is out there.  Someone shares the Facebook post, it spreads, and the next thing you know some blogger is tearing it apart.  Within hours, the blog post spreads.  People don’t know what to think.

Meanwhile, the blogger found out about this agenda months before, and has been planting seeds for readers warning them about the latest doom and gloom coming from this Department.  The pony express is dead.  Long live the digital age.

I was wrong.  I fully admit it, and I laugh about it to this day.  Twenty years ago, at Thanksgiving dinner, I was having a discussion with my eldest brother about this new internet thing.  He was telling me how it would change the world and open people up to things never before seen.  I told him it would be an invasion of privacy and would take away from what we already had.  I proved myself wrong on that nearly every day since.

We do everything on the Internet anymore, whether it is on a secured or unsecured network.  We interface with people thousands of times a day, and don’t even realize it.  We have become a nation glued to a screen, and we see the world.  The key to all of this is understanding what is real and what isn’t.  As a blogger, I focus on Delaware education for the most part.  I see what goes on backstage curtain while the audience is enamored with the play unfolding before their eyes.  I find out, and I publish.  It’s that simple.

We have never had more power in America as we do right now.  Our opinions and views on issues can be relayed to the world in an instant.  We publish, we comment, we react and we punish.  We tell people when they’re wrong or allow others to go back and forth while we sit back and watch the show.

On the flip side of this, we take away.  We delete.  I have seen, just in my fourteen months of blogging, quite a few bloggers come on the scene and disappear months later.  All that hard work, all the research and care, gone with a push of a button.  When things get to hot or the pressure starts bearing on us like a freight train barreling at us, some of us make it disappear, forever.  But we always leave a thumbprint.  Someone does a copy and paste, or a screen shot, or takes a picture on their phone.  Nothing is buried forever anymore.  If it is, nobody ever saw it.

This is our world, and until the great worm comes and unleashes a virus that destroys all, it will stay that way.  Public policy is weaved into a web that spreads until nobody knows what to think of it anymore.  The haves and have nots go at it until they are digitally black and blue in the face.  Welcome to transparency.  Chaos and order, both sides win.