Penny Schwinn is the most dangerous woman at the DOE. I saw this firsthand yesterday at the State Board of Education retreat. I wrote about this extensively last night. This is a woman who pushed Red Clay and Christina to the breaking point over the priority schools last year. She is the same person who said that violence in our most impoverished communities “isn’t necessarily a challenge to overcome” with how it affects students in the classroom. And yesterday, she announced at a public meeting that Delaware is going to implement the most aggressive and difficult accountability plan for schools in the entire country. And she isn’t willing to back down from this.
I’m sure nobody challenges the fact that our schools have issues in our state. No state is perfect, and Delaware is no exception. It’s not like we are the top-ranked state in the country where we can afford to push the bar so high for our students. We have one of the highest per-student funding mechanisms in the country. But our students are not advancing. Not to the level of the DOE’s satisfaction, and certainly not to parents satisfaction either.
The elephant in the room is the test, the Smarter Balanced Assessment. Everything is tied to this test. I never hear the DOE or the State Board of Education EVER talk about students actual grades. You know, the ones given by a teacher three or four times a year. The ones that show, over a ten-week period, how our students are really doing. Everything is in relation to the test: student growth, student proficiency, teacher effectiveness, school ratings, etc. But if there is one thing I have learned in the past two weeks it is this: the Smarter Balanced measures schools based on labels. In all the graphs released by this blog and Delaware Liberal in the past week, this test measures poverty and economic status. And that is essentially it. It recognizes the haves and the have-nots.
Regulation 103, also known as the Delaware School Success Framework, will punish schools severely over once-a-year test scores. I truly don’t care what Penny Schwinn’s motivation is for all of this. This is insanity at an epic level and our students will pay the most severe price for her madness. It is past time our legislators and leaders took a step back and look at the effect all of this is having on education in Delaware. Far too many citizens are measuring success based on one test. It is wrong. It is propaganda. It is evil. And it needs to stop. Delaware parents, I implore you to refuse this test for your child. It is now an essential and absolute urgency. You hold in your hands, your voice, the ability to turn this around and get out of this toxic environment our children have been exposed to. Please end it. Now.