A Moment Changes Everything, IEP Task Force’s Motivations Questioned #netde #eduDE @KilroysDelaware @ed_in_de @BadassTeachersA @DianeRavitch

You know when someone is rushing to get out of a place, and someone asks them a question, and they give you a very quick response, but it is usually truthful because they are distracted with their need to leave?  I asked Joe Miro a question after the House Rep candidate debate.  Joe Miro is the Republican House Rep for the 22nd district.  He is also the minority house rep IEP task force member.  I went to support Steve Newton (who slammed it, and the other candidates kept saying I agree with Steve).  Afterwards, I saw Miro talking in the lobby with some people, and as he was rushing to leave I went up to him and asked “Mr. Miro, what is the goal of the IEP task force you are on?”  To which he answered, “To get IEPs up to standard, the national standards.”  He then added how he wouldn’t even be at the first meeting tomorrow because of the primary next week.  Then he asked where I was from since we had never met.  I told him Dover, and he said thanks and nearly sprinted away from me.

I thought the goal of the IEP task force was to improve the IEP process and to make it easier for parents.  But yet Mr. Miro states it is to align IEPs with Common Core and standardized testing.  Now this is the same man, during the debate, who explained how his grandson asked him if a math answer was right.  Miro told him it was, but then his grandson wanted him to explain how it was right.  Miro said “It’s the right answer.”  His grandson kept bugging him, and Miro told him to ask his mother.  So I took that as Miro thinks Common Core is just as dumb as the rest of us.  But this same man voted yes for HB 334, which had Smarter Balanced Assessment replace DCAS.  He said the kids were getting tested too much.  So let’s give them a test you don’t even believe in?  Really Joe?

I think parents are going to be VERY upset if they go to this IEP meeting and find out it’s not what they thought it was.  Maybe Miro was mistaken, but I tend to doubt it.  Maybe the goal of the DOE is to have parents bitch so much about the process that they weasel standards-based IEPs into it as a final solution.  Special Needs Parents, you have to come to this.  I would advise against sending the DOE your concerns.  Email them to me, and I will give them to the task force.  I don’t trust the DOE as far as I can throw them.  This is the DOE without an elected board, a special education department that likes to data dive and not get to the root cause of special education problems, and thinks all special education kids can be proficient on statewide, high-risk, money scheme testing.  The only way to stop the DOE and their bizarre mechanizations is to hold them accountable.  It starts now, and we have to take a stand.  You will hear them say at these meetings that standards-based IEPs have been around since 1997, and they are written into law to help children conform to statewide standards for education curriculum.  They will skirt around the fact that the IEP landscape is changing to make more special ed students the same, as opposed to individuals.

Don’t believe me?  Check out this link from the University of Wisconsin addressing Standards-Based IEPs and Common Core:

When IEPs are connected to the standards, the focal point of the IEP team discussion changes to:

1. Identifying the standards that ALL students at a specific grade or age level should “know and be able to do.”
2. Assessing where the student is functioning with regard to the above standards.
3. Determining disability related needs that prevent the student from being proficient on these standards.
4. Developing an Annual Goal to address these needs.

Develop a goal that includes part(s) of the grade-level standard combined with lower grade-level standard for students.  The IEP can focus on lower level skills, but we should always be starting with the grade level and working backwards (i.e., backmap).

And from the Feds, under IDEA regulations:

(1) Section 300.311(a)(5), regarding whether the child does not achieve commensurate with the child’s age, has been modified and expanded to add whether the child does not achieve adequately for the child’s age or to meet State-approved grade-level standards consistent with Sec. 300.309((a)(1), and (A) the child does not make sufficient progress to meet age or to meet State-approved grade-level standards consistent with Sec. 300.309(a)(2)(i), or (B) the child exhibits a pattern of strengths and weaknesses in performance, achievement, or both, relative to age, State-approved grade level standards or intellectual development consistent with Sec. 300.309(a)(2)(ii).

If you want to know exactly what IDEA says about state assessments, look no further.  Cause here it is:

ASSESSMENTS–STATE and DISTRICT-WIDE
Alternate assessments (see Sec.   300.320 (a)(2)(ii),
(a)(6)(ii))
Performance indicators……………………………….  300.157.

Cornell University has a breakdown of the exact national code this falls under, which is 20 U.S. Code 6311:

“Adequate yearly progress” shall be defined by the State in a manner that—
(i) applies the same high standards of academic achievement to all public elementary school and secondary school students in the State;
(ii) is statistically valid and reliable;
(iii) results in continuous and substantial academic improvement for all students;
(iv) measures the progress of public elementary schools, secondary schools and local educational agencies and the State based primarily on the academic assessments described in paragraph (3);

(v) includes separate measurable annual objectives for continuous and substantial improvement for each of the following:

(I) The achievement of all public elementary school and secondary school students.
(II) The achievement of—

(aa) economically disadvantaged students;
(bb) students from major racial and ethnic groups;
(cc) students with disabilities; and
(dd) students with limited English proficiency;

  except that disaggregation of data under subclause (II) shall not be required in a case in which the number of students in a category is insufficient to yield statistically reliable information or the results would reveal personally identifiable information about an individual student (this is how charter schools in Delaware get away with so much.  What causes this is what is called the n number, which is below 15 in Delaware for EACH category of special education in Delaware: Basic, Moderate, Severe, Severely Complex)
This contradicts the IDEA laws which make special education individualized, and this is why there could potentially be severe problems for the US DOE in regards to IEPs and IDEA law.  So be very wary of any changes to your child’s IEP and watch, write down and record as much as possible.  I know these are areas most special needs parents don’t delve into, and some of us aren’t even able to make it through the day much less research IDEA law.  That’s okay, cause many of us are doing that for you.  What we need to you do is email or call your state senators and house reps about these changes taking place in our schools that contradict IDEA law or that the Obama administration and the US DOE are doing without congressional approval.

Interesting Debate Tonight in Hockessin: Miro, Newton, MacKenzie & Smith, Will Education Come Up? #netde #eduDE @KilroysDelaware @ed_in_de

Tonight in Hockessin, from 6:30 to 8:30 pm, candidates running for the House of Representatives in the 22nd District will meet in a debate at the Hockessin Memorial Hall. What will make this very interesting for me will be Joe Miro and Steve Newton. Miro is serving on the IEP Task Force starting this Thursday. Newton is a long-time special education advocate and has helped many children not only in Delaware, but across the country.

Common Core, testing and special education are all hot topics in Delaware right now, so I am very interested in those responses from all the candidates. Without being biased (I am), I think there needs to be a lot more Steve Newtons in this state. Advocates need to know what they are talking about when dealing with school administrations, and Newton, along with Kathy Willis and Diane Eastburn definitely know how to tackle schools when problems come up.

Miro voted yes for House Bill 334, which allowed the Smarter Balanced Assessment to replace DCAS as Delaware’s state standardized test. The bill almost died in the Delaware Senate, but Governor Markell sent his team in to let the Senate know it would be implemented anyways, no matter how they voted. The Senate took a revote and four Republicans flip-flopped on the vote, allowing it to pass. Many special education advocates and parents are against the test due to the lack of accommodations for special needs students, which are less than DCAS.