McAndrews Slams Delaware DOE In Federal Court Special Education Case

McAndrews Law Firm, the premier special education law firm in Delaware, just won a BIG case against the Delaware Department of Education.  The basis of their claim was that if a charter school goes under, the DOE is obligated to provide those services.  The DOE objected with twelve different claims, all of which were shot down by federal district court!  Way to go McAndrews!  From their press release:

Last week, we were gratified to report that McAndrews Law Offices had prevailed in an important federal court matter on behalf of children with disabilities who attended charter schools that go out of business. Just two days after prevailing in that important matter, MLO obtained another crucial federal court decision, this time in the state of Delaware, holding that states are responsible to ensure the rights of children and their families are protected when charter schools become defunct.

In MK v. Delaware Department of Education, McAndrews Law Offices negotiated a $30,000 compensatory education fund with a Delaware private charter school as part of a settlement agreement, but the charter school then failed to pay for the compensatory education services and went out of business. On behalf of the family, MLO brought an action against the Delaware Department of Education, asserting that under federal special-education law, the state must step into the shoes of the defunct charter school and provide the child and family their educational rights under federal law. The Delaware Department of Education asserted, in shotgun fashion through a motion to dismiss the case, nearly a dozen claims as to why the state had no responsibility for ensuring that the child received the protections of federal law. These claims were universally rejected by the federal district court, which held that “Congress considered the establishment of a single agency on which to focus responsibility for assuring the right to education of all disabled children to be of paramount importance.” With this motion to dismiss having been denied and the fundamental arguments of the state to avoid liability having been dismissed, a major procedural victory has been obtained on behalf of our Delaware clients.

I wonder which charter school this was? Delaware MET? Prestige Academy?  That’s just like the DOE, ducking their responsibility.  Do they really not get IDEA?  The fact that Delaware does not provide basic special education funding for students in Kindergarten to 3rd grade shows how out of touch they are with special education reality.  By relying on Response to Intervention as a “childfind” measure, which is not the identifying criteria for special education under IDEA, the Delaware DOE and our legislators continue to disregard federal law.  This is all going to come to a head very soon and Delaware taxpayers will be the ones holding the bag when we have to bail out the state for their horrible special education policies and funding mechanisms.  The Delaware ACLU lawsuit over education funding in general will be a drop in the bucket compared to what is coming.  DOE needs to get their heads out of their imaginary clouds and start following federal law!!!!!

Delaware Senate Bill 75 Would Put The Hammer On Pimps Who Use Craigslist And Backpage For Human Sex Trafficking

Delaware Senator Bryant Richardson and State Reps Helene Keeley and Mike Ramone brought forth legislation today that could curtail many activities with human sex trafficking in Delaware.  In a sense, it could severely limit the ability of pimps to use websites such as Craigslist or Backpage to pimp out their victims.  Senate Bill 75 would strengthen Delaware code by including key words such as “advertising”, “patronizing”, and “soliciting”.  This is going after those kind of websites.  This language is already written into federal law so it is adding to what should have already been in Delaware state code.

I’m very happy to see our legislators jumping on these common sense laws to protect children and even adults who are sucked into these crimes of humanity!  For far too long, these pimps have used websites to lure johns into prostitution with people who are truly victims of the worst abuses humanity has to offer.  By adding this wording, an alleged pimp could be prosecuted for using those websites in their despicable crimes.

 

John Young Takes On Donald Trump!!!! Resolution On Safe Zones For Christina Schools Pending!

Christina School District Board of Education member John Young is going head to toe with President Donald Trump in what could be a first for Delaware!  In response to what many are viewing as President Trump’s very heavy-handed immigration tactics initiated shortly after his inauguration, Young crafted a brilliant resolution declaring the district a safe zone for any student within its property.

The resolution would make it so any United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement official would have to get permission from the district Superintendent and coördinate any activities before entering any of the buildings of the district.  When asked what prompted the decision for the resolution, Young stated the following:

This resolution is in response to current political environment which was spurred on by a presidential immigration ban but it was not designed to be a reaction to it but an act to protect our students and our schools as the learning environments that they were and are designed to beBasically students should not fear coming to school for any reason and no student should be subjected to being a witness to a federal immigration and customs enforcement action.
There should be no reason any logical board member would not say yes to this resolution.  All students deserve to have schools be a safe haven!  If approved, this would be the first Delaware school district to institute this type of resolution.  The Christina Board of Education will vote on the resolution at their board meeting this evening.  The meeting will take place at Gauger-Cobbs Middle School and will begin at 7pm.
*Updated, 9:45pm: The resolution failed to pass with a vote of 3 yes and 4 no.

The Parent Bill Of Rights For Education

Since the Center for American Progress, Delaware Governor Jack Markell, and the President of the National PTA want to get 10,000 signatures on their Testing Bill of Rights within the next month, I think it is only fair parents who opt their children out of high-stakes assessments do the same.  With that being said, this article needs 20,000 commenters, or official signatures, within the next month.  We need to tell these corporate education reformers: NO MORE!  If we get 50,000, even better.

Our parental bill of rights regarding opt out or refusing the test bill of rights will be a work in progress, morphing and changing based on the need.  We will make sure every single legislator and decision-maker as it pertains to education in our country has a copy of this.  Parents and guardians are the stewards of our children, not corporations and politicians.  They are not “your” property.  They are unique and individual.

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, homeschool, or homeschool co-op program.

(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.

Updated, 7:58pm, EST: I have started a petition at Change.org which will be sent to United States Representative John Kline (MN) who serves as the Chair of the House Education and the Workforce Committee in Congress.  If you have already signed the article, please sign the change.org petition instead.  I apologize for the confusion!  It has been a crazy day!

Updated, 11:46am, EST: Apparently, Facebook does not like the idea of a Parent Bill of Rights for Education that touches upon an item concerning censorship of a parent’s First Amendment Rights to express their opinion that poses no physical harm or safety risk to any individual…

FacebookGroupCensorship

 

Updated, 3/29/16, 6:42pm: I am still in Facebook jail.  I’ve sent appeals to Facebook three times with no response whatsoever.  I guess they really don’t like parents protecting their rights…

Red Clay: Your Inclusion Plan Is NOT Working. This Needs To Stop…NOW!!!!!

Last year, the Red Clay Consolidated Board of Education approved an inclusion plan for students with disabilities.  Instead of paying for students with severe and intense difficulties in their own educational setting, as required by federal law under IDEA, they decided to stick them with all the regular students.  The results have not been kind to these students.  I’ve been following this story for a while now, but with everything else going on I haven’t been able to give it the attention it deserves.  This changes now.  If I have to fight multiple fronts, I will.  This post put up by a sister of a Red Clay student with Autism was put on Facebook.  This should not be happening at all.  I am begging the Red Clay board to put a stop to this now.  If it means you don’t have funding for WEIC, so be it.  If you can’t handle your own, than you definitely shouldn’t be taking more.  I like some of you as people, but if you can’t get your act together as a whole for students with disabilities, all bets are off.

Today, my mom got a call from one of my sister Juliana’s teachers at Conrad. Her teacher told my mom that Jule was being horribly mocked and teased because of a pair of boots she liked and decided to wear to school today. Juliana is bullied and tormented every single day that she goes to school because she is autistic and she functions differently than other 7th graders. However, today was especially hard to hear about because she came home saying it was “one of the best days of her whole life.” When we asked her why, she said it was because her boots caught everyone’s attention, they were “complimenting” her, and even taking pictures. This honestly broke my heart because anyone would know that those kids weren’t really trying to make her feel good about herself in any way, and those pictures most likely ended up on Instagram or snapchat for everyone to mock. I just don’t understand how kids can be so cruel, especially to someone with a learning disability that doesn’t recognize sarcasm and thought all of their comments were serious. It breaks my heart to see her go through this every day of her life but today really struck something. If you have kids, please teach them kindness. It can be all someone like Juliana needs to know they’re not alone. My sister is a 12 year old girl living with autism, and she’s fucking amazing. Any kid that wants to at come for her, has to come through me first.

Is this really the environment Red Clay wants in their schools?

Governor Markell Will Have State Board Of Education Do His Bidding

The future of the Delaware accountability system for its school is now in the State Board of Education’s hands.  Despite having the Accountability Framework Working Group meet 16 times for over a year.  Despite whatever the Delaware Education Support System (DESS) says tomorrow at their 1pm meeting.  Despite what the people say.  If Governor Markell wants things a certain way, it will happen.

Despite my telling Penny Schwinn and the Accountability Framework Working Group that there is no Federal law stating there must be a consequence for participation rates on standardized assessments dipping below 95%, the AFWG group voted to pick one of the following consequences.

  1. Go down one level on the performance rating, but use the average proficiency rate over a two-year period so that a school is not penalized for a one-year dip or anomaly.
  2. School must write a plan for how they will address low participation rates and then do not have access to supplementary federal grants.
  3. Use the multiplier for schools that are below 95% only.  Essentially we would have 100% on a 95 point scale, so that if a school had 93% participation and 60% proficiency, the multiplier would be (93/95)*(60%).  Any school at 95% proficiency or above would get full credit.
  4. School would automatically not be able to be a reward or recognition school and automatically be placed on the list as a potential Focus school.
  5. For federal designation calculations ONLY, the school would have all non-participants count as a zero score.

The group voted for part of Option #2 and part of Option #4: School would write a plan and could not be a reward school.

I don’t think there should be any participation rate penalty at all.  The Delaware DOE has not sufficiently provided evidence with exact code.  It’s easy to look at words and cherry-pick what applies.  It’s easy to treat guidance as mandatory, or a letter from an Assistant Secretary who no longer works at US DOE.  But here is the part of the recipe the public doesn’t know about.  On Friday, Penny Schwinn and Interim Secretary of Education Dr. Steven Godowsky met with Governor Markell.  They presented the options to him, and he wants #3.  The very same penalty that the non-Delaware DOE members of the AFWG voted unanimously to remove at their last meeting.  When asked why they changed their mind on this, Gerri Marshall from the Red Clay Consolidated School district thought it would be a moot point because nobody thought the opt-out numbers would be as high as they were in many schools and districts.

When asked if the legislators override Governor Markell’s veto of House Bill 50, Donna Johnson stated “Federal law trumps state law.”  But once again, they are cherry-picking parts of the law that suit their needs.  Because the Smarter Balanced Assessment doesn’t allow for a human reader under many circumstances even though his IEP stated he should be given this accommodation during testing.  I told the DOE the same words, federal law trumps state law.  I never received a response from them or anyone at the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium about that.  Ever.  But back to a potential veto override, if the DOE submits their ESEA waiver and it is approved by the Federal Government, through the US DOE, House Bill 50 could not have the line about opt-out not being included in a school’s accountability ratings.  This is IF the State Board of Education chooses Governor Markell’s #3 option with participation rate.

The Delaware DOE admitted they actually rounded up the participation rates as much as they could for schools in Delaware.  Why would they do that?  Was the same metric for this rounding up applied to ALL schools?  I would love to see the actual data on that.

The Governor doesn’t want the Delaware School Success Framework to publish a school’s overall rating.  But it will be subject to FOIA, the State Board will announce it at their meeting, and media will write about it.  This is the part that leaves me feeling very perplexed.  Why put yourself in a position where you have to get a FOIA when you can just choose to make it public knowledge?

The AFWG, after much discussion, agreed to use points as a school’s calculation based on a 500 point scale.  So if a school gets total points of 70 based on the calculated weights for each category, on this scale their score would be 350.  Whatever the school gets it will be heavily tied to their overall Smarter Balanced Assessment.  The DOE publishes the Smarter Balanced results, and since 90% of an elementary and middle school’s score will be based on either proficiency, growth, or growth to proficiency (all based on SBAC), that other average daily attendance is not going to make that much of a difference.  For high schools, 70% will be based on the same SBAC criteria, with other measurements of 30% tied to college and career preparation and “on track to graduation” levels.

Delaware State Rep. Kim Williams asked the AFWG many tough questions concerning charter school enrollment preferences, Governor Markell’s position on the participation rate penalty, and the need for the group to have a united front on these issues.

Tomorrow, the DOE will present the Delaware School Success Framework based on the recommendations by the AFWG to DESS.  But even Penny Schwinn said Governor Markell is her boss.  He selected her for the position of Chief Officer of Accountability and Assessment at the DOE and it is her job to do what he says.  Jack hates parents who opt-out, for all of the obvious reasons.  And if Jack doesn’t like, that must mean Rodel doesn’t like it.

The AFWG’s work is done, unless the DOE has to get another month extension from US DOE if needed.  But most of the members of the group know they can’t really discuss this any further.  Their thoughts are known, and many members of the work group wish they could just blow it up and not have to worry about this insane school report card to begin with.  I echo that sentiment.

Governor Markell & Delaware DOE Deny Freedom Of The Press With Smarter Balanced Results

I found out last evening about a press conference in which “credentialed journalists” were invited to a press briefing today at 2pm when the statewide results of the Smarter Balanced Assessment would be released.  This is happening right now at the Carvel Building in Wilmington and an undisclosed location in Dover.  I reached out to Alison May, the Public Relations Officer at the Delaware Department of Education, and Kelly Bachman, Governor Markell’s Press Secretary, to attempt, in good faith, to be allowed to attend this press briefing.  My request was denied.  The levels of collusion involving everything with the Smarter Balanced Assessment in Delaware have been egregious on levels unheard of, and my response to all of this, and everything surrounding it, will be swift and very public.  Below is a copy of the email that was sent out to “Members of the Press” (it was not sent to me originally) and the following emails which were sent by myself and the responses received from Alison May and Kelly Bachman.


NOTE FOR PRESS ONLY: Last year, Delaware schools transitioned to a new Smarter Balanced state assessment.  An embargoed briefing on the release of data from the first year of that assessment will be held for credentialed members of the press Tuesday, September 1, 2015 at 2:00 p.m. at the Carvel State Office Building in Wilmington. There is also an opportunity to receive the briefing from Dover.  If you have not yet done so and would like to attend, please contact alison.may@doe.k12.de.us for more information and to RSVP.

On Monday, August 31, 2015 3:45 PM, “Bachman, Kelly M (Governor)” <Kelly.Bachman@state.de.us> wrote:

Contact: Kelly Bachman, 302-299-9791

                                                                                        

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Bill Signing: Senate Bill 57, Senate Bill 101

What:   Governor Markell will sign Senate Bill 57, relating to the abbreviated title of Advanced Practice Registered Nurses, and Senate Bill 101, relating to a new Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Committee – Joined by primary bill sponsor State Senator Bethany Hall Long, other bill sponsors, members of the Delaware Division of Professional Regulation, as well as over 20 Advanced Practice Registered Nurses, the Governor will sign Senate Bill 57 and Senate Bill 101 into law.  Senate Bill 57 will modernize the title of Advanced Practice Nurse to Advanced Practice Registered Nurse, as well as update requirements for licensure and prescriptions.  Senate Bill 101 will create a new Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Committee to assist the Board of Nursing in regulation of nursing practice.

Who:     Governor Markell

State legislators

Regulation division leaders

Healthcare professionals

When:   Tuesday, September 1st at 12:30 p.m.

Where:  University of Delaware, STAR Campus, Atrium, 550 S. College Avenue, Newark

*****

NOTE FOR PRESS ONLY: Last year, Delaware schools transitioned to a new Smarter Balanced state assessment.  An embargoed briefing on the release of data from the first year of that assessment will be held for credentialed members of the press Tuesday, September 1, 2015 at 2:00 p.m. at the Carvel State Office Building in Wilmington. There is also an opportunity to receive the briefing from Dover.  If you have not yet done so and would like to attend, please contact alison.may@doe.k12.de.us for more information and to RSVP.

###


Editor’s note: I decided to contact Alison May to RSVP.


From: Kevin Ohlandt [mailto:kevino3670@yahoo.com]
Sent: Tuesday, September 01, 2015 7:38 AM
To: May Alison
Cc: Bachman Kelly M
Subject: Smarter Balanced Assessment Briefing Today
Good morning Alison,
I would like to attend the Smarter Balanced Assessment results briefing today through Governor Markell’s office and the Delaware Department of Education.  I would like to RSVP to hear the briefing through Dover.  Please let me know where I should go.  I completely and fully understand these are embargoed results and cannot be released until such time as designated through Governor Markell’s office or the Delaware Department of Education and I would be more than willing to sign any confidentiality agreement to that effect.  Thank you,
Kevin Ohlandt

Exceptional Delaware


From: May Alison <alison.may@doe.k12.de.us>
To: Kevin Ohlandt <kevino3670@yahoo.com>
Cc: Bachman Kelly M <kelly.bachman@state.de.us>
Sent: Tuesday, September 1, 2015 7:50 AM
Subject: RE: Smarter Balanced Assessment Briefing Today

Kevin,

Thank you for your interest, but this is an embargoed briefing for credentialed members of the media only.  The public release is at noon tomorrow.

Alison


From: Kevin Ohlandt <kevino3670@yahoo.com>
To: May Alison <alison.may@doe.k12.de.us>
Cc: Bachman Kelly M <kelly.bachman@state.de.us>
Sent: Tuesday, September 1, 2015 8:11 AM
Subject: Re: Smarter Balanced Assessment Briefing Today

Alison,
That’s a shame, because I am a member of the media and I happen to have a lot of street cred.  And I was willing to sign anything you folks would want to keep the embargo.  Now I have to blog that you won’t let me in, which kind of makes the DOE look bad.  It’s not like this is the Cuban Missile Crisis…
Kevin

Editor’s Note: It is at this point in time I called Governor Markell’s Press Secretary Kelly Bachman at approximately 9:10am this morning.  She heard my request, said she was just walking into work, and would get back to me.  By late morning, I received no response, so I emailed her directly.


From: Kevin Ohlandt <kevino3670@yahoo.com>
To:kelly.bachman@state.de.us” <kelly.bachman@state.de.us>
Sent: Tuesday, September 1, 2015 11:38 AM
Subject: Smarter Balanced Assessment Results Briefing Today
Hello again Kelly,
I had spoken with you this morning but you were just walking into work.  I was the blogger who wanted to be at the press briefing on the SBAC results today.  I haven’t heard back from you if I am able to attend.  I also want to add that I would certainly sign any confidentiality agreements due to the embargo until 12 noon tomorrow, 9/2/15.  I have (deleted due to personal information), so I was hoping to get the information today when I’m not (deleted due to personal information)!
Thank you for your consideration on this matter,
Kevin Ohlandt
Exceptional Delaware

From: Kevin Ohlandt [mailto:kevino3670@yahoo.com]
Sent: Tuesday, September 01, 2015 11:52 AM
To: Bachman, Kelly M (Governor) <Kelly.Bachman@state.de.us>
Subject: Re: Smarter Balanced Assessment Results Briefing Today
Hello once more!
With a readership of thousands of Delawareans every day, sometimes in the five figures, I would think the DOE and Governor Markell’s office would all want media representatives in attendance at this meeting.  To deny access to influential members of the media in the state is indicative of non-transparency which has been a strong issue the DOE has been facing for quite a long time now.  While it is not my wish to make this a bigger deal than it has to be, and my request is for this office to do the right thing, I have already had hundreds of messages expressing disappointment in both that I was not invited to this event since they get the bulk of their education news from Exceptional Delaware.  This is an effort to build a bridge here with an audience who views Delaware DOE as very secretive and not willing to work with the public, and I won’t be able to control the spin on that.
Thank you again,
Kevin Ohlandt
Editor’s note: The original email sent for this, in the first paragraph, did say “media representative media”, but I corrected it for clarification.


E

Editor’s Note: After an hour with no response, I once again called Kelly Bachman and left a message with much of the information I’ve already written about.



From: “Bachman, Kelly M (Governor)” <Kelly.Bachman@state.de.us>
To: Kevin Ohlandt <kevino3670@yahoo.com>
Sent: Tuesday, September 1, 2015 12:52 PM
Subject: RE: Smarter Balanced Assessment Results Briefing Today

Hi Kevin,
We appreciate your interest in covering this information. Unfortunately, given the high volume of interest, if we made exceptions for the embargoed press briefing, we’d open ourselves up to including other members of the public and we aren’t able to do that. The briefing today is for credentialed journalists representing news media organizations and is the same format used for releasing test score information as in years past. As stated previously, there will be a public release tomorrow.
Best,
 
Kelly M. Bachman
Press Secretary, Office of Governor Jack A. Markell
302.577.8495 | 820 N. French Street| Wilmington, DE 19801 |
cell: 302.299.9791


 From: Kevin Ohlandt <kevino3670@yahoo.com>
To: “Bachman, Kelly M (Governor)” <Kelly.Bachman@state.de.us>
Sent: Tuesday, September 1, 2015 1:12 PM
Subject: Re: Smarter Balanced Assessment Results Briefing Today

Hi Kelly,
So other members of the media, up to and including bloggers, are considered “members of the public”?  That is very insulting to be honest with you.  Bloggers reach out to audiences across the state and do it for free, for absolutely no financial benefit.  The levels of non-transparency with Governor Markell’s administration and the Delaware Department of Education have now reached epic levels.
I will be sure not to invite your office to my upcoming press conference when I announce several complaints I plan on filing with the Delaware Attorney General, the Delaware Public Integrity Commission, the Delaware State Auditor, the Federal Ombudsman at the US Department of Education, the US Department of Justice, and the US Office of Civil Rights.  These complaints will include Governor Markell, members of his administration, the Delaware Department of Education, the State Board of Education, and certain education committees or groups in this state for numerous violations of FOIA, State law, and Federal law.
I’ve tried playing nice with you folks numerous times, but it is more than obvious you have no intention of decreasing the level of lies, intimidation, and illegal activities that surround education in Delaware.  Please tell Governor Markell this could have easily gone another way when he asks why all of this is happening.
Thank you,
Kevin Ohlandt


So there you have it.  As anyone reading this blog knows, the Delaware Department of Education, the State Board of Education and Governor Jack Markell and members of his administration have been tampering with public education for several years.  It is past time we put an immediate halt to this.  And I am a man of my word, everything I told Kelly Bachman I would do will happen.  I have the evidence already.  These are not empty threats like we have been receiving from these liars for the past seven years.  This was their last chance to show an iota of transparency to Delaware.  If you would like to help contribute to the ever growing pile of pending complaints, please contact me immediately where you know how to reach me.  This is the game-changer.

US DOE & Arne Duncan Drop The Mother Of All Bombs On States Special Education Rights

In a stunning announcement that came out today, the United States Department of Education has decided to take away state rights in regards to curriculum and state assessments for special needs students.  Without any legislative approval, Arne Duncan has taken it upon himself to invalidate years of IDEA law and special education regulations.  This news broke today from this blog:

http://whatiscommoncore.wordpress.com/2014/11/24/federal-secretary-of-education-to-phase-out-the-authority-of-states/

And here is the new ruling:

http://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/eAgendaViewRule?pubId=201410&RIN=1810-AB16

Here’s what you need to do: email AND call your state senator and state representative in the US Congress.

For Delaware citizens, here are our representatives in Congress and how to contact them:

https://forms.house.gov/carney/webforms/email-me.shtml

http://www.carper.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/email-senator-carper

http://www.coons.senate.gov/contact/

I would also email John Kline, the head of the Education and Workforce Committee in Washington D.C.  at this address and let him know Congress needs to stop this NOW!!!!  The ruling states this is to go in effect January 1st, 2015.

https://edworkforce.house.gov/contact/

This is tantamount to war on special education in America.  I called this months ago, and now it is out there.  This is the same man who thrust Common Core on all schools and dangles carrots with the ESEA waivers constantly.  The man who believes every student, even those with a disability, should have a baccalaureate education and rigor should be used daily.

For residents of Delaware, your Governor Markell helped with this.  With his powerful backing from Dr. Paul Herdman and Rodel, our children’s special education rights are GONE if this goes through.  We all need to take a stand, every single one of us.  If you sit back and do nothing, your child WILL suffer.

I just found an excellent letter to send.  Thanks to Stacey Kahn from the Facebook group NYS Special Needs Parents Against Common Core for allowing me to repost it here!

Parents and teachers the time has come. As we all knew, the United States Department of Education, as directed by Arne Duncan, has decided to attempt to override special education and the laws that protect our most vulnerable students. The rights and rules both we and our own parents fought so hard for are being dismantled by the US Department of Education to pave the way for the inappropriate rigor of common core. If we do not speak out against this newest injustice, special education as we know it will dissolve.

Please take a few moments to contact your legislators through pen, phone, or email. Let them know they must get involved. The USDOE has gone too far. The same people who seem to put profits before people have again trampled the rights of students who struggle enough. Common core is enough of an injustice. To remove state authority to assist our special needs students is the final straw.

Attached is a letter template for your use. Feel free to add your own thoughts, the more personal the better. Let these legislators know your special needs children are worthy of a fair and appropriate education that isn’t driven by corporate gain and workforce readiness. All students are unique. The one size fits all mentality of common core has come to the head we knew it would. Please let your representatives know this is the time they must get involved, these children don’t get a second chance to be treated with respect, equity, and compassion.

For your immediate attention  (insert title and last name here):

We as parents, educators and citizens of the United States, are contacting you because it has come to our attention that there is a real and imminent threat to the states’ sovereignty with regards to education, and more importantly, to its most vulnerable citizens.

Arne Duncan, the Secretary of Education has submitted a proposal to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.
Directly from the proposal is the following:
“The Secretary will amend the regulations governing title I, part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended (ESEA), to phase out the authority of States to define modified academic achievement standards and develop alternate assessments based on those modified academic achievement standards in order to satisfy ESEA accountability requirements. These amendments will permit, as a transitional measure, States that meet certain criteria to continue to administer alternate assessments based on modified academic achievement standards and include the results in accountability determinations, subject to limitations on the number of proficient scores that may be counted, for a limited period of time.”

If this amendment is passed, it will signal the end of special education as we know it in this country’s public education system. Secretary Duncan has already stated that he feels that students with disabilities can and should be held to the same “rigorous” Common Core State Standards, as their fellow neuro-typical classmates. To give him the power to supersede the states regulations regarding allowable modifications and/or alternate assessments for these students sets a dangerous precedent.

Secretary Duncan has already weakened the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA).If allowed to proceed with this amendment, the Americans with Disabilities Act is in jeopardy as well. None of these changes were ever voted on by any legislative body.

Our states are losing their sovereignty in education on an almost daily basis. How much more are we as states and as citizens willing to hand over to the Federal Government?

We need our legislators to stand up and say enough is enough. We are a bipartisan group of citizens. Please put political parties aside and do what is best for our children and our country. We are counting on you!