Scumbag Delaware DOE Defends Freire’s Offensive Opt Out Trick To Parents

I reached out to Secretary of Education Dr. Steven Godowsky and Assistant Deputy Secretary David Blowman about the Freire Charter School Opt Out/Smarter Balanced Assessment/Final Exam scandal. Apparently, the Delaware Department of Education thinks it is perfectly acceptable for students to earn an A for tests they never took.

While I won’t release the full email chain since I would betray a source, I can say it is one of the most disrespectful and insulting emails I have ever received from the Delaware DOE.  What offended me the most was how Blowman wrote his response, as if this is a common occurrence and it is A-Ok.

FreireBlowmanResponse

I must have been sniffing glue to think the Delaware DOE would take this matter seriously and actually, for once, do the right thing.  But no, they turn it around with Blowman’s cocky and arrogant “historically common” and “educationally appropriate”.  So every single parent in Delaware knows, the Delaware DOE does NOT give a crap about what actual grades a student gets in classes, JUST the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  They don’t care if a student could be failing a course, but an unearned A on a final exam could cause them to pass a class.  Because the Smarter Balanced Assessment is the true measurement, right assholes?  Social promotion is okay as long as we get that participation rate, right Blowman?

I am DONE with this Department.  DONE.  As if their fraudulent Teacher Leader Pilot program I wrote about yesterday wasn’t bad enough, I get this unbelievable spit-in-parents face email.  Because it is okay if a school changes grades.  It’s okay if they offer sweetheart deals to parents to manipulate them out of opting their child out of a test that doesn’t give any true instructional feedback, parents don’t know the scores until after the school year ends, and it violates a parent’s constitutional, God-given, and fundamental right to decide what is best for their own child.

Is the DOE calling final exams unnecessary?  The tests that actually show what a student may or may not have learned the entire year in a class, unlike the Not-So Smarter Balanced?  Really Blowman?  Are you out of your Kool-Aid drinking mind?  We know this isn’t in statute or regulation because our corrupt Governor cares more about companies than students.  If the situation were in reverse, like a parent wanted to opt their child out of a final exam, but the school said “How about we do this: let your child take the final exam and one of our teacher leaders will take the Smarter Balanced Assessment for your kid,” the DOE would be at that school pretty damn fast.  It’s the same thing Blowman!  By giving a student a false grade, you are teaching that student it is okay to manipulate the system.  By allowing schools to do it you are showing all you care about is a high-stakes test.  If that is the DOE’s definition of college and career ready, I weep for the future.

I truly don’t care if the DOE never gives me information again because of this article.  I truly don’t.  Not with the complete idiots in charge over there.  From now on, everything will be a FOIA or a complaint to the U.S. Department of Education.  So teachers, who I do respect immensely (except for those who do the suck-up dance to the DOE), please let me know of any “sweetheart” deals your administrators are pulling on students.  Parents as well.  Because this is sick.  This is what our education governance has come down to: immoral and unethical practices coming all the way from the top and THEY ENDORSE IT.  Just because something isn’t written in Title 14 doesn’t make it right Blowman.  Don’t you dare try to pull that crap on me.  Did you really think my response to this would be “Okay, dead issue.”  This email could have easily said “We at the Department do not agree with the inappropriate actions taken by Freire with parents.”  Instead, I’ll bet they got a high-five for their most excellent anti-opt out tactics.

I used to treat some DOE employees with kid gloves in the past.  I’m done with that.  You have spit on parents and their rights, manipulated teachers and their best interests, and lied to the public for the last time Delaware DOE.  You have invited the opt out wrath that is coming your way in the 2016-2017 school year.

For my readers, I apologize for my harsh language in this article.  But I feel it is necessary because there are no other accurate words that best sum up my thoughts on our Department of Education.  We sit here in Delaware and pretend this is okay.  Why aren’t parents and teachers standing up in mutiny at every single State Board meeting and picketing the Delaware DOE office?  We allow this by doing nothing.  If you think anything I write in this blog makes ANY difference, it is marginal at best.  They won’t do a damn thing until they see parents rising up in massive numbers.  And if some of our schools or the Department that is supposed to oversee our schools think lying, fraud, cheating, manipulating, brainwashing, stealing and disrespecting our children and those charged with teaching them, you need to do something about it.

I’m sure the DOE will do something that will piss me off more than this.  I have no doubt.  This is why we pay them the big bucks with no oversight.  So they can screw over every possible person who doesn’t conform to their Rodel/Markell ass-kissing agendas.  And for those who think you are at the table, you aren’t.  And it isn’t a nutritious meal.  You are ON THE TABLE and they are eating you alive and you are letting them do it.  I don’t want to hear one more word about the cannibalistic Delaware Way (except the very excellent Delaware Way blog- shameless plug).

Breaking News: Freire Charter School Gave Students A’s On Final Exams If Parents Didn’t Opt Them Out

At least five students at Freire Charter School in Wilmington were given A’s on their final examinations in exchange for their parents not opting them out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment this spring.  One parent was notified by the school that the Delaware Department of Education claimed all schools had to have a participation rate of 100%.  When the parent challenged them on the federal and state laws which require 95% participation, the school agreed on that figure.  They also told the parent the school was already under the 95% participation rate threshold.  All five parents agreed to this deal.  The school lured parents who wanted to prevent parents from opting their child out into this “deal” with false pretenses.  Furthermore, the students didn’t even take their final exams but they were automatically given A’s because of this.

Can someone please tell me when this madness is going to stop?  Aside from all the bullying issues at this “zero tolerance” school, we now have test fraud?  How much does the Delaware Department of Education know about this?  If they don’t, what are they going to do about it?  This is exactly why the veto on House Bill 50 needed to have the override by the Delaware General Assembly.  But our legislators were too scared to tick off the “education Governor” and do the right thing for parents.  Now we have this going on.  No one in Legislative Hall who voted no on the fake “suspension of rules” to bring the override to a vote probably doesn’t care that our schools play games like this.  How many situations like this have played out in other Delaware charters or districts?  I would call for the Delaware Department of Education and the Delaware State Board of Education to render all scores from the Spring 2016 Smarter Balanced Assessment as invalid due to corruption and fraud.  We don’t know how many students and parents were given choices like this.  And the results are meaningless.

One parent notified me the only reason she didn’t opt her child out, even though this deal was offered, was because she was choicing their child out of Freire into another district.  That district had a requirement for Smarter Balanced results in order for the student to enter their honors program.  While I may not agree with that requirement from the other district, it is their right to require it until a law is set in stone for them not to.  But Freire proceeded to not have the student take the final exam and gave the student an A for both their Math and English/Language Arts final exams.  Also against policy with the Delaware DOE, parents and students were given the scores when they were “encumbered” which means they couldn’t reveal them at that point.  I would have to imagine no schools are able to give out this information until the Delaware State Board of Education discusses them at their board meeting in two days.  In fact, scores aren’t even going out to

As for Freire, are you trying to send the message that the Smarter Balanced Assessment is more important than a parent’s Constitutional right to opt their child out of the state assessment?  That it is okay, from a “zero tolerance” school to trick parents and then deliver false scores on final exams to prevent them from exercising that right?  Parents chose to send their child to your school because they believed in your “zero tolerance” edicts.  While I don’t agree with zero tolerance, it was also a parent’s right to make that choice.  But since you have no interest in applying “zero tolerance” to your own school,  I would strongly suggest the Delaware Department of Education Charter School Office immediately conducts a thorough investigation into these allegations through the formal review process.  For a school that hasn’t even been open a year and Governor Markell attended your ribbon-cutting ceremony, these egregious actions are unconscionable.  This is why these standardized tests bring out the worst in schools.

I would also urge our General Assembly, upon reconvening on January 7th, 2017, to immediately draft legislation in regards to opt out, similar to House Bill 50, and also addressing immediate consequences for schools that use lies and false pretenses toward parents and students have anyone involved in those situations immediately terminated and criminal charges pressed against them.  And if a new Governor should veto such legislation, I would expect an immediate override of that veto.  Those who voted no on January 14th, 2016: this is on you!  Please don’t play political games for political favors when you aren’t the ones who are being toyed with by those who should know better.

If any other Delaware parent out there, at any charter school or district was offered similar “deals” or promises in exchange for not opting your child out, I can be reached at kevino3670@yahoo.com and I give you my assurance all will be confidential.  Thank you.

 

Who Is On The Assessment Inventory Committee?

I reached out to Delaware State Rep. Earl Jaques to see who is on the Senate Joint Resolution #2 Assessment Inventory Committee.  I received his response yesterday.  This is a very interesting list with a name I never saw before, but I was very familiar with the last name.  We shall see what comes out of this committee.  My guess: a massive reduction in district assessments which will lead to more Smarter Balanced interim assessments.  As well, official legislation getting rid of the Smarter Balanced for high school juniors since the SAT is going to become SBAC Jr. (my nickname for it).

Here are the members of the SJR #2 Assessment Inventory Committee:

Delaware Senator David Sokola

Delaware Senator Nicole Poore

Delaware Senator Ernie Lopez

Delaware State Rep. Sean Matthews

Delaware State Rep. Timothy Dukes

Delaware State Rep. Earl Jaques

Delaware State Education Association President Frederika Jenner

New Castle County Vo-Tech Superintendent Dr. Vicki Gehrt (filling the role of President of Chief School Officer’s Association)

Raina Allen (filling the role of “A representative of the civil rights’ community picked by the Governor”)

Equetta Jones (filling the role of “Parent picked by the Governor”, also a teacher in Red Clay Consolidated School District)

This is an interesting group.  With the legislators, it is right down the middle with who voted yes on the opt-out bill, House Bill 50, and  who voted no.  The “yeas” were Senators Poore and Lopez and State Rep.  Matthews.  The “nays” were Senator Sokola and State Reps Jaques and Dukes.  Both Sokola and Jaques are the head of their prospective education committees in the Senate and House.  Jenner is obviously represent the entire DSEA membership.  Gehrt, who also hails from the same district as our current Secretary Godowsky.   I have never personally met Equetta Jones, but I did see her speak at a Red Clay school board meeting last spring and she is very passionate.  The only person I wasn’t familiar with was Raina Allen, but a quick Google search let me know exactly who she was.

Filling roles from the Department of Education are: Secretary of Education Dr. Steven Godowsky, Chief of Staff Shana Young (which will be interesting given what I’m hearing), Tina Shockley, and Susan Haberstroh.  What I don’t see is anyone from the State Board of Education involved, anyone as just a teacher, and only one parent.  This is a very top-heavy group and they will be helping to make crucial decisions about the future of assessment in Delaware.  If this sounds reminiscent of the DOE’s recently defunct Accountability Framework Working Group (but no legislators were on this), where the recommendations of that committee were ignored by Godowsky and the State Board of Education, let’s hope the legislators can keep an eye on what is really important and not make this the usual Jack Markell dog-and-pony show.

High School Juniors in Delaware Are Getting Tested Beyond The Point of Insanity!!!!

A friend put this up on Facebook, and this testing is getting out of control.  Yes, Mark Murphy, kids go to school to test.  But they also go to school to learn, and to become students wanting to learn.  How can students learn if all they do is test?  If I were a parent of a Delaware junior, the first test I would opt them out of is the Smarter Balanced Assessment, which is exactly what this parent did.  AP exams and SATs are much more important than this farce of an assessment.  This sample schedule of what juniors have to face is going to be the breaking point for many parents.  Shame on you DOE, State Board, Mark Murphy and Governor Markell for making this the central highlight of your education reform movement in Delaware!

4/13 – 5/29 – Component V Post Tests (Given at teachers’ discretion)

4/15 – In-School SAT

4/16 – 5/1 – Review and Preparation for AP Exams

5/4 – 5/15 – AP Exams

5/18 – Smarter Balanced Math CAT (Computer Adaptive Test)

5/19 – Smarter Balanced ELA CAT (Computer Adaptive Test)

5/20 – Smarter Balanced ELA PT (Performance Task)

5/26 – Smarter Balanced Math PT day 1 (Performance Task)

5/27 – Smarter Balanced Math PT day 2 (Performance Task)

5/28 – US History DCAS (End of Course)

5/29 – DCAS/Smarter Balanced Make-ups

6/1 – 6/4 – Underclassmen Final Exams (9th – 11th)

6/5 – Underclassmen Make-up Final Exams

Delaware Parents: If you want your child to go to school to be tested, then by all means, don’t opt them out.  But if you want your child to be a student that is excited to learn and not be tested like a guinea pig, then please, opt your child out NOW!  Secretary Murphy doesn’t care about parents, students, teachers or anything but his corporate education reform movement.  His love affair of all things standardized has marginalized YOUR child’s education.  The best way to stop this is to OPT OUT NOW!!!!!