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!

US DOE At High Risk Of Data Breach, 139 Million Social Security Numbers At Risk

On Tuesday, November 17th, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform met to discuss the security of the United States Department of Education’s information security system.  Their overall take on this: a resounding failure.  Yes, your child’s information is not safe, despite assurances by your state and your federal government that nothing could happen based on protections they have implemented.  We now know this to be an obvious falsehood.  This is the reality, and it is starting to look like even the US DOE can not keep our children’s information safe.

This isn’t just social security numbers either.  How much information does the US DOE have about our children?  How many reports, grades, and behavior files do they house in their system?  Do they have medical information in their system as well?  This is a train wreck in the making.  During Race To The Top, one of the mandates of the US DOE was for all states to create a Statewide Longitudinal Data System.  This means all that information is in this pipeline.  This affects all of us!

Ed-Scorecard

 

From the House Oversight Committee’s website:

TAKEAWAYS:
• The Department of Education (DoEd) has at least 139 million unique social security numbers in its Central Processing System (CPS).
• Reminiscent of OPM’s dangerous behavior, DoEd is not heeding repeat warnings from the Inspector General (IG) that their information systems are vulnerable to security threats.
o In the IG’s latest report, there were 6 repeat findings and 10 repeat recommendations.
o The Department scored NEGATIVE 14% on the OMB CyberSprint for total users using strong authentication
o The Department received an “F” on the FITARA scorecard
• The Department maintains 184 information systems.
o 120 are managed by outside contractors
o 29 are valued by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) as “high asset”
• The National Student Loan Database (NSLD) houses significant loan borrower information. There are 97,000 accounts/users with access to this significant data yet only 5,000, less than 20%, have undergone a background check to establish security clearance.
o The IG penetrated DoEd systems completely undetected by both the CIO or contractor
• The Department needs significant improvement in four key security areas:
o Continuous monitoring
o Configuration management
o Incident response and reporting
o Remote access management

PURPOSE:
• To examine information security at the U.S. Department of Education, including the Agency’s efforts to secure the personally-identifiable information (PII) provided by federal student aid applicants and their parents.
• To review recent findings of the U.S. Government Accountability Office and the Department’s Inspector General (IG).

BACKGROUND:
• The U.S. Department of Education is responsible for managing the portfolio of over 40 million federal student loan borrowers holding over $1.18 trillion in outstanding debt obligations. The Department also manages other student aid programs, such as the Pell Grant program that annually serves 8.3 million students. These programs often require applicants and their parents to provide the Department with their PII.
• In FY2014, the IG found that, “While the Department made progress in strengthening its information security program, many longstanding weaknesses remain and the Department’s information systems continue to be vulnerable to serious security threats.”

Chairman Chaffetz (R-UT):
“Here they’re managing more than $1 trillion dollars in assets, liability for the United States, it’s basically the size of Citibank and the CIO meets with the Secretary maybe twelve times a year. That’s absolutely stunning. And looking at the vulnerability of almost half of the population of the United States of America has their personal information sitting in this database which is not secure.”

Delaware, Stop Calling Our Schools Failing!!!! It Is Not A Solution!!!

Every time a Delaware citizen talks about our “failing schools”, it gives the Delaware Department of Education fuel.  They absolutely love it when people say this.  Because what so many of our citizens are forgetting, any label of success or failure is based on standardized testing.  This year, it is the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  Last year, it was DCAS.  A few years ago it was DSTP.  Everyone loves to put an easy Band-Aid on a deep flesh wound.  This is what our DOE has done.  They have allowed and brainwashed the public into believing their own fallacies.

It sickens me what the DOE has done to our communities and schools with their ideology that only puts more of OUR taxpayer money into the hands of companies that aren’t even incorporated in our state and make them rich beyond our wildest dreams.  All in the name of “progress” and erasing the “status quo”.  Failure is the Delaware DOE’s favorite word.  We need to STOP using this word as a measurement of our schools, and by default, our teachers and students.  We can talk about education, especially in the most impoverished and high-crime statistics.  But don’t for one second believe our children are failing based on the DOE’s measurement.  Because then you have fallen into their trap.

The Smarter Balanced Assessment is bad.  It’s very bad.  Refuse this test for your child.  Write a letter today and let the DOE know you will not let your child be their guinea pig for one day longer.

The DOE, Murphy and Governor Markell WANT Children To Do Bad On Smarter Balanced

It’s the only thing that makes sense.  Here’s why.  Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy said last fall that he expects over 70% of students taking the Smarter Balanced Assessment to not make proficiency.  This was echoed by Director Of Assessment at the DOE, Brian Touchette.  Only Touchette said he expects this trend for the next few years.  To me, a few usually means at least three, if not more.

Why would the DOE, Murphy, Governor Markell and certain legislators want to keep a test that so many students will do badly on?  Do you really think we are that naïve to think it’s because the children aren’t ready for the rigorous curriculum?  I would hope not.  The reason is because if students do bad, it gives all those companies more reason to keep pumping out their products and services.  Pearson, Rodel, Vision (now called Schools That Care), and so on.

By having our kids even take this test, we are subjecting them to less funding, larger classrooms, teacher accountability that has been flawed from the start, extra stress, less instructional time and more money for hedge fund investors and charter school operators who are banking (literally) on this.

Opt out is the only option, even if your child has already started the test.  Do not let your administrators: superintendents & principals intimidate you.  Do not let them tell you your child HAS TO take the test.  They will cite law, regulation and code, but at the end of the day there is NOTHING written in the law about a parent opting their child out.  Be proactive and destroy this corporate Ponzi scheme in our schools.

Smarter Balanced Field Test Scores: Most IEP Students Will Fail!

According to a report released by The Advocacy Institute, students with IEPs had a wide gap against their non-disabled peers in the category of 1, the lowest level you can score on the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  The gaps show an average of well over 30 points in English/Language Arts and Math.

The largest gaps, over 40 points, seems to occur in the 7th grade.  The lowest, at 28 points is occurring in 3rd grade.  The IEP students who scored a 4 on the field test averaged well below 5% of the entire IEP student population.  With an average somewhere between 65-70% for all students with special education scoring at a 1 on this Common Core test, and an average for ALL students scoring at a 1 or 2 around 60%, the facts are undeniable.  This test sucks.

So I will say once again: Opt Out Now!  It doesn’t matter if your kid has an IEP or not, because the odds are in favor your kid will fail this test.  This test he/she has been preparing for since the beginning of the school year.  What a colossal waste of time and money and resources.

For more information about these percentages for each grade level, please go to: http://www.advocacyinstitute.org/blog/?p=582

Regulation 101: DOE Tweaking State Code For Smarter Balanced & Special Needs

On Thursday, at the Delaware State Board of Education meeting, there will be talk about the Smarter Balanced Assessment (among MANY other things).  How will the DOE score this wonderful awesome test?  They really have no idea.  In fact, they have to hire an outside contractor to do all that!  But for now, let’s see how they do with what the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium sent them!

Yes, you read that right, Big Brain Brian Touchette actually said that:

Because the new standards set higher expectations for students–and the new tests are designed to assess student performance against these higher expectations–our definition of grade level performance is higher than it used to be.

As a result, it means that fewer students will meet grade level standards, especially for the first few years.

It starts with Mark Murphy saying he doesn’t expect more than 30% of the students to meet proficiency in the first year.  Then I start to hear two years.  Now it’s a few.  But the kids aren’t failing!  No, the schools will be and you will judge them and close them.  Even though you have said what you just said.  And maybe the test will never work, but we will use the data from it to close all of you nasty, filthy public school districts!  Sorry, I turned into Murphy there.

And then there are the special needs kids.  How about we change some laws to make it tougher for them AND their IEP Teams!  Let’s put some really vague wording in some areas, then ignore what is sent to us about it by the agencies that probably know more about these things than we do.  Even if they are filled with a bunch of filthy, nasty parents and union reps.  Sorry, morphed into the Murph man again!

Yada yada yada, opt out now, blah blah blah!  Just do it already parents! NOW!  Cause guess what, they didn’t even bring up the topic of parent opt out in this regulation, and we already know they either don’t how to read their own state’s code, or they purposely misinterpret it to scare parents.