State Board of Education ESSA Meeting: 60 Pictures & Flipping The Narrative

At Grotto’s Pizza in Dover, DE, the State Board of Education held a workshop on the Every Student Succeeds Act.  The Capitol Room at Grotto’s was jam-packed with administrators, teachers, advocates, Delaware DOE employees, State Board members, a Congressman, education company employees, and even a blogger or two.  Sadly, there were not that many parents there.  Yes, many of these people play that role as well as their other jobs, but for a meeting the Delaware DOE will say is a true “stakeholder” meeting, this key group was missing.  I recognized a lot of the faces, but there were some I didn’t.  Some I was able to put together based on conversations I overheard.  This was the State Board of Education Workshop on ESSA.  Notice some of the tables where certain people are sitting together.  Especially the one Secretary Godowsky was sitting at…

I did not take these 60 pictures.  They were taken by an employee of Secretary of Education Dr. Godowsky’s office and put on the Delaware DOE Facebook page this morning.  Which means they are part of a state agency which puts them in the public domain!  Thank you DOE Photographer!

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State Board of Education Executive Director Donna Johnson at the microphone, Deputy Secretary of Education Karen Field-Rogers in the pink jacket with striped shirt in the back, Susan Haberstroh with the DOE with the mid-length brown hair and glasses, Governor Markell’s Education Policy Advisor Meghan Wallace with the ponytail and glasses, Secretary of Education Dr. Steven Godowsky to the right near the screen. Continue reading

WEIC Meeting Tonight, The DOE’s Divide And Conquer Strategy Next Monday, & The Capital Debate

The Wilmington Education Improvement Commission is having a full commission meeting tonight at the Community Education Building in Wilmington.  The meeting on the 2nd floor in the teacher’s lounge begins at 5:30pm.  Many big education meetings are going down Monday afternoon with overlapping times, thereby ensuring no one can possibly make all three meetings.  As well, the very odd-sounding EFIC group has another meeting and the candidates for the Capital School Board are having a question and answer night!  But first, the WEIC agenda:

WEICAgenda42616I would imagine the group is a bit nervous since no legislation has been introduced to move forward on their redistricting plan.  If I were a betting man, it is coming but not until late June.  Tomorrow, one of the WEIC sub-committees is having a meeting: The Charter & District mud fight Collaboration Committee.

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But next Monday is where a lot of the action is as groups meet about the assessment inventory, student data privacy and the Every Student Succeeds Act.  It is possible to make all three if you drive REALLY fast and miss portions of two of the meetings.  But if you want free soda and pizza on the taxpayer’s dime, go to the last meeting!

The first one, which I’m most interested in given that I write a lot about student data privacy all the time these days, is the Data-Mining Club Student Data Privacy Protection Task Force.  They canceled the last meeting because they knew they wouldn’t have a quorum.  I would have put the agenda in, but of course the link doesn’t work.  I guess they want to make it private! 😉

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In the next episode of “We Hate Parents so we are going to trick them out of opting out by making it look like we are getting rid of the bad tests”, the committee meets to discuss testing in Delaware.  Someone on the DOE side will talk about how essential the Smarter Balanced Assessment is and someone from the “good guys” side of the table will question what the hell we are even doing.  Audience members will give public comment overwhelmingly on the side of “Smarter Balanced sucks”.

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To see the wonderful world of the Every Student Succeeds Act through the eyes of Corporate Education Reform Cheerleader State Board of Education Executive Director Donna Johnson, come to Grotto’s Pizza at 5:30pm.  Keep in mind, everyone is still trying to figure out what the hell this mammoth law even means so anything Donna talks about will be subject to change.  Expect many “I don’t know”s and “We don’t know yet”s coming from the microphone for this one.  We can expect a lot of the same people to show up to this one.  Last time I went to one of these I got to take part in a table discussion with Kendall Massett from the Delaware Charter Schools Network and Melissa Hopkins from the Rodel Foundation.  Talk about awkward!  But it was all good…

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And then on Tuesday, the Education Funding Task Force is meeting again to finalize their pre-determined potential education funding plan for the General Assembly to squeeze in during the last days of their legislative session.

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But THE most exciting education event next week will actually take place at Central Middle School on Wednesday May 4th at 7pm.  Candidates running for the Capital School Board are having a debate!!!  Shameless plug: I am one of the candidates.  Come and find out what our priorities, ideas, and concerns are and what our plans are to improve the district.  And don’t forget, no matter what district you live in, the school board elections are only two weeks away, on May 10th.

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State Board of Education: “Poverty Is Not An Excuse…It Is Not Destiny”

The Delaware State Board of Education continues to ignore the effect Poverty has on students in high needs schools in our state.  As part of their presentation on the Smarter Balanced Assessment at Grotto’s Pizza in Dover, the State Board presented a slide that said:

Poverty Is Not An Excuse…It Is Not Destiny

Once again, the State Board is using the data that helps to further their cause of convincing the state the Smarter Balanced Assessment is necessary for our children to succeed.  The biggest challenge for the State Board and the Delaware DOE is the issue of low-income and poverty.  To fight this, they are hand selecting schools that fared well on Smarter Balanced.  But do some of these schools already have extra programs that could warrant higher Smarter Balanced scores?  Yes they do.

Lewis Dual Language Elementary School (Red Clay), South Dover Elementary School (Capital), and John M. Clayton Elementary School (Indian River) are all part of Governor Markell’s World Language Immersion program for Spanish.  Booker T. Washington (Capital) houses the district’s gifted and talented program for their elementary schools.  As well, Capital only has 3rd and 4th grade in their elementary schools and no 5th grade.  Other schools cited by the DOE as “beating the odds” (my words) are Long Neck Elementary School and Georgetown Elementary School (Indian River), Town Pointe Elementary School and North Dover Elementary School (Capital), Lake Forest South and Lake Forest East Elementary Schools (Lake Forest), Banneker Elementary School (Milford), Kuumba Academy and Thomas Edison Charter School.

An important distinction to make with all of these schools is that they are elementary schools.  The DOE did not praise any middle schools in this presentation.  The tests 3rd graders take are very different than those for 8th graders.  Comparing the two is not a true indicator for why 3rd graders did better on the Smarter Balanced Assessment than their peers in 8th grade.  As well, this ignorance of poverty does not take a large portion of the poverty issue to task: the very real part that deals with addiction, violence and crime in many of these students’ homes.  All of the schools the DOE talks about are in lower Delaware with the exception of two charter schools in Wilmington.  There are no Red Clay, Christina, Colonial or Brandywine schools “beating the odds”.

As well, the State Board emphasized the Smarter Balanced Assessment is just one indicator of how our schools are doing.  Then why are measurements from the Smarter Balanced Assessment going to account for 90% of elementary and middle schools accountability ratings and 70% for high schools in the upcoming accountability system called the Delaware School Success Framework?  All the other indicators the State Board talks about, growth and resources, are tied to students doing better on this test.  Education in Delaware is now based on performance on the Smarter Balanced Assessment.

Poverty DOES matter, and there are facets of poverty Governor Markell said last March “that you and I can’t imagine“.  But it sounds like Governor Markell, the DOE, and the State Board of Education are unable to not just imagine it, they don’t have the first clue how to understand it.  Below is the entire presentation Donna Johnson, Executive Director of the State Board of Education, presented to a group comprised of mostly educators and very few parents last night.  If any of you have more knowledge about what these schools may possess that other schools don’t, please share this information in the comments section.

Did You Get Your Child’s Smarter Balanced Results Today?

The Delaware Department of Education said they would be mailing individual student Smarter Balanced Assessment results yesterday, Friday September 18th, and on Monday, September 21st.  Depending on the mail system, some parents could be getting those results today.  This is the moment where many parents will get these scores and say “What the hell is this?”  And God forbid if ANY parent in this state who opted their child out gets actual results in the mail.

If anyone wants to share information about this with me, feel free to contact me at kevino3670@yahoo.com.  All is confidential, and if I write about the results, it will not include any information about YOUR child.  Unless that is something you want to comment on after the article is published.

This will be a very interesting week.  If you are very upset about this, I strongly suggest going to the State Board of Education workshop on the “Smarter Assessment” on October 5th at Grotto’s Pizza in Dover, DE at 5pm.  Light refreshments on the State Board (if they follow what they did at other Grotto’s State Board workshops).  This usually does NOT include free pizza!  Let the State Board know how you feel about this test they praise as the greatest thing since the Vega! (This is not quoted anywhere, nor was it ever said, but it will be the end result).

When you see these results, ask yourself…  “How did we get here?”  “What do I do?”  “Is this test really worth it?”  And take action.  All the fluff and stuff you get from DOE will say “Contact your child’s teacher if you have more questions.”  But which one? Their current teacher or the one they had last year when your child took the test?  I would say neither.  They don’t have the answers or any of the cut score information.  All they get is the overall results and their classes scores from the previous year.  But the cut score was an arbitrary number pulled out of a hat.  Another option to consider, if you haven’t already, is refusing the test for your child.  Opt them out.  Do it now.  Some schools will give you crap, but stand your ground.  The only way to make this go away is to ignore it.  Opt out is ignoring it.  It’s saying “Take your stupid test, your useless, untimely, not validated, not statistically normed, not internationally benchmarked, waste of time test and stop treating my child as data for your proficiency mongering.”

I Am But A Shadow Of My Former Self

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I’m not much of a photographer, but I thought this was a pretty cool shot.  I was taking pictures of the ocean yesterday, and I kept seeing my shadow in the shot.  I thought, what if I can get the whole thing.  It took a few tries, but this was the final result.

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This came from an awesome day I had with my son at Rehoboth Beach in Delaware.  I learned amusement park rides don’t agree with my aging body, and I am no longer the young man I have pretended to be in my mind.  But my youthful spirit is still strong!  As well, Grottos has some of the best sausage pizza in the state.  I’m just glad that part of our trip didn’t occur before the rides.

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As we sat in Grottos, we played peek-a-boo with a one-year-old next to us as he kept saying “hi” to us.  We also played a game of “which channel is this tv show on”, and we debated which station Calliou is on.  It was different when he was a baby, but now it is on Sprout (he doesn’t watch it!).  Afterwards, my son was at the arcade, and that’s when I started taking pictures.

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The best part was just hanging out with my son, away from all the education matters going on with him and this blog.  Just a day, for the two of us to bond.  On the drive back he fell asleep and I would peek back to watch him look so peaceful.

Shock & Awe: This Blog Endorses a DE State Board Event! Please Attend! Free Food!

Yes, I am very critical of the Delaware Department of Education and the State Board of Education over many things.  But I do think they have done an excellent job with literacy efforts in our state.  I still remember the old RIF commercials from when I was a kid: Reading Is Fundamental.  These are key words that will never change, and the DOE and State Board have taken several initiatives and ran with them.  To that end, there is a Professional Development Workshop at Grotto’s Pizza in Dover on March 4th, from 5pm to 8pm.  They need an RSVP by tomorrow, Friday, February 27th.  I did reach out to Donna Johnson, the Executive Director of the Delaware State Board of Education about the possibility of free food, and she replied with this important message:

Yes, our grant funding allows us to supply light refreshments, not a full meal.  There is also water, tea, and soda available.”

This was in the release I received today:

Final reminder — RSVPs due tomorrow.  Please forgive the additional reminder if you have already responded. 

The State Board of Education is hosting a professional development workshop related to its Literacy Campaign.  The focus of the meeting is developing a greater awareness of literacy initiatives and understanding intellectual freedom as it pertains to education and the law.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015 

Location:  Capitol Room, Grottos Pizza, 1159 DuPont Highway, Dover, DE.

The focus of the workshop will be furthering awareness of programs and efforts throughout the state to increase student literacy and our keynote presentation will focus on deepening your understanding of Intellectual Freedom as it pertains to Education and the law. 

The evening will begin with an overview of present literacy initiatives in the state including programs by the United Way, Reading Assist, Read Aloud Delaware, Boys and Girls Club and resources from the Annie Casey Foundation regarding its grade level reading campaign.

Workshop attendees will then hear Deborah Caldwell-Stone, Deputy Director for the American Library Association, Office of Intellectual Freedom provide a review of federal and state laws that have been established in history pertaining to intellectual freedom, how the laws pertain to education and how to safeguard our students and our freedoms.  Discussion will focus on how we balance preparing students for real world situations while also protecting them.  State officials, educators and stakeholder groups have been invited.

There will be an opportunity for questions and answers at the end of the workshop as you discuss how to tackle the local policy decisions on intellectual freedom and explore ways to increase or enhance your existing literacy initiatives. Education is a cornerstone of democracy, and the success of a democracy is an informed and educated citizenry.  We sincerely hope that you will join us for this informative presentation, professional development, and engage in robust discussion of the topics afterward.

More information and specific policy briefs related to the SBE Literacy Campaign can be found at our website: www.destateboarded.k12.de.us

Donna Johnson

Executive Director

State Board of Education

401 Federal Street, Suite 2

Dover, DE 19901-3639

302-735-4010

www.destateboarded.k12.de.us Twitter: @destateboarded