How The General Assembly Turned What Should Have Been A Fast June 30th Into An Endless Night

I don’t get it.  Every single year the Delaware General Assembly insists on having their late-night marathon with hundreds of bills on the agendas.  They had many opportunities to prevent that this year.  But instead, they had unending tributes to departing legislators, the Governor scheduled non-budget bill signings on June 30th, and they waited until the last minute to put up a minimum wage bill.

The tributes to the departing legislators had been going on for days.  And they never seemed to end.  I get that you want to honor those who wrote bills for decades.  But a time limit on the comments would have been really good.

The temperature in Legislative Hall went up as Governor Carney signed an Executive Order around 4:45pm to put the methodology of “budget smoothing” into his proposed budget each year.  Since the Democrats in the General Assembly balked on this idea that would change the Delaware Constitution, Carney felt he had to get something about it in writing, thus the Executive Order.

Around the same time, an unending line of pro-gun supporters flooded Legislative Hall.  It was already a hot day, and just having more bodies in the place physically rose the temperature in there!  All the suits began sweating and it became uncomfortable.  As the pro-gun folk realized there was NOT going to be any last-minute legislation (which was their reason for coming- a just in case), they began to leave and you could actually feel the air in there.

Many candidates who filed for the upcoming election were seen in the halls.  Even Kathy McGimmick was seen dashing in, heading towards Speaker of the House Pete Schwartkopf’s office, and leaving about 10-15 minutes later.  It was a good opportunity to meet some of the candidates I had not met yet and to chat with those I had.

Even a wine bill caused chaos!  When Rep. Dave Wilson changed what I assume was a yes vote to a no, Rep. Jeff Spiegelman did not mince his words with Wilson as he yelled “You stabbed me in the back!”

For education, the VERY controversial House Bill #454 was stricken.  This was the “show me the money” bill for developers and a decrease in their property assessments for redeveloped land.  Buh-bye bad bill!

But here is what gets me.  They talk about how much they respect their staff but treat them to intolerable working conditions.  Some of their staff came in at 11am yesterday.  They were still there at 7:30am this morning.  Some of their staff are senior citizens.  Hell, some of the legislators are senior citizens!  I don’t blame every legislator for this.  But the leadership is who determines these monstrous agendas.

It is not a party no matter what you hear.  Having legislators pass laws when they are beyond the point of exhaustion is the very definition of insanity.  Tempers flare and they grumble.  Visitors wait in the lobby and constantly ask what the heck is going on.  This morning, when I left around 2:45am, the Capitol Police were already indicating their workers were past the 16 hour shift mark.  Sure, the free ice cream for visitors helps.  But the cafeteria closes at 8pm.  You have to go to WaWa to get coffee!

This is what kills me about Legislative Hall- the lack of plugs!  We live in a cell phone society now.  The plug shortage (except for legislators and their staff) causes folks to huddle around the rare plug outlets.  Which brings me to my next point- why do they not have TVs in the lobbies showing live feeds of the House or Senate?  This isn’t 1950 anymore Delaware!  We can do this.  Hell, they could do live feeds on the internet as well!

There has to be a better way.  It wasn’t like there were a ton of new bills that were introduced on the last day.  It was the fact they left tons of bills languishing until the last minute.  Instead of having all these tributes and fluff stuff during their many other legislative days, maybe they could do what we elected them to do- vote on legislation!

I was one of the lucky ones.  The last education legislation passed at 2am.  Delaware Secretary of Education Dr. Susan Bunting left immediately after that vote.  I should have taken her queue but decided to stick around until I asked myself what was so important for me to stick around.  Sure, I could have seen the minimum wage bill debacle.  Which would have consisted of me rolling my eyes when they decided to stay open.

I lost big time.  I called a departure time of 12:38am.  They left hours after the sun came up this morning.  On the plus side, they get to rest for the next six months!  But like the myth of teachers doing nothing during the summer, many of our legislators plan for the next session and do a ton of research on bills they would like to introduce.  Many of them will spend the next few months campaigning as all 41 of the State Reps and 10 of the State Senators are up for re-election.  For some of them, they will sail off into the retirement sunset and, no doubt, thank the lucky stars they will never have to pull the June 30th/July 1st all-nighter.

The sad part?  I’ll probably do this again next year.  I’m a glutton for punishment!  But I have to admit, I do enjoy Delaware politics for a few reasons.  We are a small state.  You can drive an hour or so from any direction and wind up at Legislative Hall.  It can take time, but you can get to know pretty much every single legislator in the state.  You can hang out at Legislative Hall and say hi to the Governor when he emerges from the bat cave.  You can joke around with his staff as they walk around looking like the weight of the world rests on their shoulders and manage to get them to crack a smile.  You can attend a rally against separating families one minute and chat with folks who wear “live free or die” t-shirts the next.  You can chat with the Delaware Secretary of Education and not worry about detention.  If you go to Leg. Hall often enough, the Capitol Police call you by your name when you walk in the door.  For me, it is my home away from home in a weird way.

The Détente

Last night, I attended an education meeting that was very different.  It was a very odd group of folks getting together in one room to talk about things that affect all Delaware schools.  It was a mixture of people who represented two different sides of public education. Continue reading

Delaware DOE Has Meetings About ESSA With Rodel Before DSEA And Legislators

I wish I could say I was shocked, but I really can’t.  In just another incident showing where the Delaware Department of Education’s priorities are, we see they invited Rodel, a non-profit corporation, to meetings about the Every Student Succeeds Act.  On the right side of the picture are the “scheduled” meetings.  Who isn’t on the list?  The Delaware General Assembly.  They can’t give the excuse about the legislators not being in session.  They met with a lot of them one-on-one a year ago to discuss the Smarter Balanced results weeks before they were released to parents.

That has to be a great feeling for elected legislators in Delaware, knowing that a State Department would rather talk with the Rodel Foundation before them.  Especially since they will be the ones getting the most complaints calls when this whole process goes haywire.  At the State Board of Education meeting today, when asked by State President Dr. Teri Quinn Gray, Delaware Deputy Secretary of Education Karen Field Rogers did indicate they will be reaching out to the legislators.  Note that she was specifically asked this question and didn’t bring it up herself.  This is not a good start to what should be all parties at the table.  This does not count the State Board Workshop last week.  These are private meetings with these groups of stakeholders.

I would love to know which local boards had these meetings.  For all the board members out there, feel free to message me privately if you have had these consultation meetings.  Or send me a message on Facebook.

DOEESSAStakeholder Consultation

 

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…

The Exceptional Delaware Reward, Recognition, Priority, Focus and Focus Plus Schools of 2015

For the first ever Exceptional Delaware Honor Roll, I would like to congratulate the schools and particular grades that went below the 95% “mandatory” participation rate for the Smarter Balanced Assessment. With that being said, there could be a multitude of reasons for that participation rate, and it may not necessarily be because of parent opt-out. It could be because of medical reasons, expulsions, or in extreme cases, maybe a touch of the Bubonic Plague. I noticed a large trend in many districts where the participation rate was higher for ELA than Math. Sometimes it was the reverse, but mostly that. I have to wonder how many parents opted out after their child took the first test. For some districts, they would not have been recognized if it weren’t for many of their juniors saying “See ya” to the Smarter Balanced Assessment. These are the students who are paving the way for the younger ones.  My biggest question is what in the world happened with 4th graders at East Side Charter School?

Christina… all I can say is WOW! You far surpassed my expectations with opt-out. With all the smears and bad looks this district gets from the DOE and whatnot, I am proud to announce Christina School District as the winner of the Opt-Out Performance Fund! They will receive a special gift at their next regular board meeting in recognition of this honor. And Red Clay’s Conrad! Fantastic! Below 50% for 11th graders! You are an inspiration to all!

Under the United States Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the fine folks at the US DOE like to throw things called flexibility waivers at the states.  Under No Child Left Behind, enacted during the second President Bush years, all schools in the country had to be proficient by 2014.  If they weren’t, all hell would break loose.  So under President Obama and his Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, they threw states a bone called Race To The Top: adapt our Common Core standards, and make a big test based on it, and we will let you slide from the whole No Child Left Behind thing.  Then they started throwing more bones called flexibility waivers.  Hey, do this, and you are safe from No Child Left Behind.  This is what created the most severe school labeling system ever created.  But I am turning it around.

REWARD & RECOGNITION SCHOOLS

All of these schools and grades… I am so proud of them. Parents made a choice, and it showed. While these aren’t anywhere close to New York numbers, it’s a very good start. The ones that are 90% or below get to be REWARD schools. Yeah, it’s one grade, but they went below 95%!  All the Reward Schools got a special prize. The ones between 91-94% are recognition schools for any grade that caused the participation rate to go below 95%. Great job everyone!

Appoquinimink School District:

Appoquinimink High School, 11th Grade ELA: 93%

Appoquinimink High School, 11th Grade Math: 94%

Middletown High School, 11th Grade Math: 92%

Old State Elementary School, 4th Grade Math: 94%

Waters Middle School, 8th Grade Math: 93%

Brandywine School District:

Brandywine High School, 11th Grade Math: 92%

Concord High School, 11th Grade Math: 94%

Hanby Elementary School, 3rd Grade ELA: 94%

Harlan Elementary School, 3rd Grade Math: 89% 🙂 🙂

Campus Community School:

7th Grade Math: 93%

Cape Henlopen School District:

Shields Elementary School, 4th Grade Math: 92%

Capital School District:

Central Middle School, 7th Grade Math: 94%

Dover High School, 11th Grade Math: 92%

East Dover Elementary School, 3rd Grade Math: 94%

East Dover Elementary School, 4th Grade Math: 93%

Fairview Elementary School, 3rd Grade ELA: 89% 🙂 🙂

Fairview Elementary School, 3rd Grade Math: 90% 🙂

Christina School District:

Bayard Middle School, 6th Grade Math: 92%

Bayard Middle School, 7th Grade ELA: 92%

Bayard Middle School, 7th Grade Math: 92%

Bayard Middle School, 8th Grade Math: 92%

Brader Elementary School, 3rd Grade Math: 94%

Brader Elementary School, 5th Grade Math: 90% 🙂

Brookside Elementary School, 5th Grade ELA: 90% 🙂

Brookside Elementary School, 3rd Grade Math: 92%

Brookside Elementary School, 4th Grade Math: 86% 🙂 🙂

Brookside Elementary School, 5th Grade Math: 79% 🙂 🙂 🙂

Christiana High School, 11th Grade ELA: 84% 🙂 🙂

Christiana High School, 11th Grade Math: 88% 🙂 🙂

Elbert-Palmer Elementary School, 3rd Grade Math: 90% 🙂

Gallaher Elementary School, 3rd Grade Math: 93%

Gallaher Elementary School, 5th Grade Math: 93%

Gauger-Cobbs Middle School, 6th Grade Math: 94%

Gauger-Cobbs Middle School, 7th Grade Math: 92%

Gauger-Cobbs Middle School, 8th Grade ELA: 92%

Gauger-Cobbs Middle School, 8th Grade Math: 86% 🙂 🙂

Glasgow High School, 11th Grade ELA: 82% 🙂 🙂

Glasgow High School, 11th Grade Math: 82% 🙂 🙂

Keene Elementary School, 4th Grade ELA: 92%

Keene Elementary School, 5th Grade ELA: 92%

Keene Elementary School, 5th Grade Math: 93%

Kirk Middle School, 6th Grade Math: 94%

Maclary Elementary School, 3rd Grade ELA: 92%

Maclary Elementary School, 3rd Grade Math: 86% 🙂 🙂

Maclary Elementary School, 4th Grade ELA: 90% 🙂

Maclary Elementary School, 4th Grade Math: 90% 🙂

Marshall Elementary School, 3rd Grade ELA: 93%

McVey Elementary School, 4th Grade ELA: 89% 🙂

McVey Elementary School, 4th Grade Math: 87% 🙂

Newark High School, 11th Grade ELA: 55% 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Newark High School, 11th Grade Math: 56% 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Shue-Medill Middle School, 6th Grade ELA: 94%

West Park Place Elementary School, 3rd Grade ELA: 94%

West Park Place Elementary School, 3rd Grade Math: 93%

West Park Place Elementary School, 4th Grade Math: 83% 🙂 🙂

West Park Place Elementary School, 5th Grade ELA: 89% 🙂 🙂

West Park Place Elementary School, 5th Grade Math: 92%

Colonial School District:

Bedford Middle School, 8th Grade Math: 94%

Penn High School, 11th Grade ELA: 92%

Penn High School, 11th Grade Math: 89% 🙂 🙂

Pleasantville Elementary School, 3rd Grade ELA: 92%

Pleasantville Elementary School, 3rd Grade Math: 92%

Southern Elementary School, 3rd Grade Math: 93%

Southern Elementary School, 4th Grade ELA: 92%

Southern Elementary School, 4th Grade Math: 86% 🙂 🙂

Southern Elementary School, 5th Grade Math: 93%

Delmar School District:

Delmar High School, 11th Grade Math: 93%

East Side Charter School:

4th Grade ELA: 90% 🙂

4th Grade Math: 90% 🙂

Gateway Lab School:

3rd Grade Math: 90% 🙂

4th Grade ELA: 92%

4th Grade Math: 93%

7th Grade Math: 92%

Indian River School District:

Sussex Central High School, 11th Grade ELA: 93%

Sussex Central High School, 11th Grade Math: 92%

Laurel School District:

Laurel Senior High School, 11th Grade ELA: 94%

Laurel Senior High School, 11th Grade Math: 93%

Milford School District:

Milford Senior High School, 11th Grade ELA: 88% 🙂

Milford Senior High School, 11th Grade Math: 88% 🙂

Moyer:

7th Grade ELA: 88% 🙂 🙂

7th Grade Math: 88% 🙂 🙂

11th Grade ELA: 65% 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

11th Grade Math: 69% 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

New Castle County Vo-Tech School District:

Delcastle Technical High School, 11th Grade Math: 94%

Hodgson Vocational Technical H.S., 11th Grade ELA: 91%

Hodgson Vocational Technical H.S., 11th Grade Math: 90% 🙂

St. Georges Technical High School, 11th Grade ELA: 90% 🙂

St. Georges Technical High School, 11th Grade Math: 87% 🙂 🙂

Polytech School District:

Polytech High School, 11th Grade ELA: 94%

Polytech High School, 11th Grade Math: 92%

Positive Outcomes Charter School:

7th Grade Math: 90% 🙂

Prestige Academy:

7th Grade Math: 94%

Reach Academy For Girls:

4th Grade ELA: 75% 🙂 🙂 🙂

4th Grade Math: 75% 🙂 🙂 🙂

6th Grade ELA: 92%

8th Grade ELA: 78% 🙂 🙂 🙂

Red Clay Consolidated School District:

A.I. DuPont High School, 11th Grade ELA: 63% 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

A.I. DuPont High School, 11th Grade Math: 64% 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

A.I. DuPont Middle School, 8th Grade ELA: 94%

A.I. DuPont Middle School, 8th Grade Math: 94%

Brandywine Springs School, 8th Grade Math: 93%

Cab Calloway School of the Arts, 11th Grade ELA: 84% 🙂 🙂

Cab Calloway School of the Arts, 11th Grade Math: 92%

Conrad Schools of Science, 8th Grade ELA: 94%

Conrad Schools of Science, 11th Grade ELA: 40% 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Conrad Schools of Science, 11th Grade ELA: 47% 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Heritage Elementary School, 5th Grade ELA: 90% 🙂

Heritage Elementary School, 5th Grade Math: 89% 🙂 🙂

Seaford School District:

Seaford Central Elementary School, 3rd Grade Math: 92%

Seaford Central Elementary School, 5th Grade Math: 92%

Seaford Middle School, 6th Grade Math: 94%

Seaford Senior High School, 11th Grade ELA: 93%

Seaford Senior High School, 11th Grade Math: 89% 🙂 🙂

Smyrna School District:

North Smyrna Elementary School, 4th Grade ELA: 94%

The below schools…they didn’t go below the 95% participation mark in any grade for either ELA or Math on the Smarter Balanced Assessment. But there were quite a few that were right at the 95% mark in some grades, and also at 96%. So we can tip the scales by getting the word out. These are the 2015-2016 schools where there are some opt-outs, but we need a lot more. Some of the charters may have only had one or two opt-outs in one grade. But that one opt-out parent can spread the word! But these schools are the 2015-2016 Focus Schools or Focus Districts. If they are a charter school, they did not dip below 95% in any grade. For school districts, I just picked certain schools who hovered around the 99% mark. For one school, it just can’t ever get out of being labeled no matter what it does! This is your chance Stubbs! If it’s in red, it’s a Focus Plus school. That means they had maybe a handful of kids opt-out. Which is good, but not earth-shattering. We need those handful of parents who opted their kids out to spread the word!

NEED TO GET THE WORD OUT ABOUT OPT-OUT FOR THESE FOCUS AND FOCUS PLUS SCHOOLS
 

Allen Frear Elementary School (Caesar Rodney) (Focus Plus)

Banneker Elementary School (Milford)

Bunker Hill Elementary School (Appoquinimink)

Clayton Elementary School (Smyrna) (Focus Plus)

Delaware Academy of Public Safety & Security

Delaware College Prep

Delaware Military Academy

Delmar Middle School (Delmar) (Focus Plus)

Family Foundations Academy

Hartly Elementary School (Capital) (Focus Plus)

Howard High School of Technology (New Castle County Vo-Tech)

Indian River High School (Indian River)

Kuumba Academy

Lake Forest School District

Lancashire Elementary School (Brandywine)

Las Americas ASPIRA Academy (Focus Plus)

Lombardy Elementary School (Brandywine) (Focus Plus)

Long Neck Elementary School

Lord Baltimore Elementary School (Focus Plus)

Maple Lane Elementary School (Brandywine) (Focus Plus)

MOT Charter School (Focus Plus)

Mount Pleasant Elementary School (Brandywine)

Newark Charter School (Focus Plus)

New Castle Elementary School (Colonial) (Focus Plus)

Oberle Elementary School (Christina)

Odyssey Charter School (Focus Plus)

Providence Creek Academy

Pulaski Elementary School (Christina)

Showell Elementary School (Indian River) (Focus Plus)

Silver Lake Elementary School (Appoquinimink)

Smyrna Elementary School (Smyrna) (Focus Plus)

Stubbs Elementary School (Christina)

Sussex Academy (Focus Plus)

Sussex Technical School District

Thomas Edison Charter School (Focus Plus)

W.B. Simpson Elementary School (Caesar Rodney) (Focus Plus)

W. Reily Brown Elementary School (Caesar Rodney) (Focus Plus)

Woodbridge School District

Below are the 2015-2016 Priority Schools. The three charters had NO opt-outs, along with the other schools. For the charters, one was on Formal Review and was probably scared that one opt-out would shut them down so they allegedly told parents it was not allowed. Another one has the lowest of minorities (aside from Asian), special education, and low-income students in the entire state. And the 3rd… their Head of School spoke out about opt-out at the House Education Committee meeting on House Bill 50 so this truly doesn’t shock me. Other Montessori schools I’ve spoken too were somewhat shocked and believe opposing parental rights like this goes against the whole Montessori model. If anyone from any of these schools did opt their child out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment, please let me know cause that means something is seriously wrong. Because >99% is pretty damn close to 100%. And you can’t have 100% with one single opt-out.

If I had to guess, a lot of these schools are telling parents they can’t opt their kid out. Or the school has 100% drank the Kool-Aid the DOE gives them and gave it to all the parents. I know some of the leaders of these schools, and some are no-nonsense leaders. Some are known to be very tough. Don’t let them intimidate you. These are my extra special schools this year. Under priority status, they will be watched very closely. Unlike the DOE I won’t make them pick new leaders and fire half their teachers. And I won’t make them sign a Memorandum of Understanding that makes no sense whatsoever by a certain date. I won’t tell them comply or die either. But they are Priority Schools for opt-out, and this is a Code Red alert for Delaware! This is just plain unacceptable…  They get a very special label in recognition of two very special legislators who opposed House Bill 50 the loudest (and they were also the Chairs of the House and Senate Education Committee).

THE EARL JAQUES AND DAVE SOKOLA PRIORITY SCHOOLS OF DELAWARE

Academy of Dover 😦

Charter School of Wilmington 😦

First State Montessori Academy 😦

Lake Forest North Elementary School (Lake Forest) 😦

Lake Forest South Elementary School (Lake Forest) 😦

Richardson Park (Elementary School) (Red Clay) 😦

Star Hill Elementary School (Caesar Rodney)  😦

South Dover Elementary School (Capital) 😦

Sussex Technical High School (Sussex Tech) 😦

For our school principals and superintendents and charter leaders: I’m watching you. I’ve been watching you. The DOE is on the stage, putting on their show. You are all in the audience, and you are literally paying for their performance. Rodel and Vision and the Delaware Business Roundtable are providing all the lighting and special effects, with equipment bought from all the corporate education reform companies around the country. I see the State Board providing the symphony. The legislators are paying all the bills and making sure everything is up to snuff (or in some situations allowing the audience to be robbed blind).  And the director, none other than Delaware Governor Jack Markell. His assistant went exit stage left, but we are waiting to see what his new guy does. And me, I’m the guy up on the catwalk watching the whole thing unfold. I see all of it. I had to get rid of some of the cobwebs up there to see better, but I can see things very clearly right now.  And guess what, I’m not alone.  I’m inviting parents all the time to watch too.  And more and more are watching the play.  They are telling me “hey, you see that guy over there, he told me I couldn’t opt-out my son” or “they told me I have to get a doctor’s note” or sometimes it’s a parent/teacher telling me “our superintendent says only he gets to decide who opts out.”

As of this very moment, I am giving you all amnesty. You are pardoned if I wrote negative things about you concerning opt-out last year.  Some of you actually came through in a big way on the Accountability Framework Working Group and turned the scales on the DOE.  We have a clean slate.  Don’t get all offended if your school is on this list.  The DOE has this information up too, but I’m just reversing the labels for true accountability purposes.  The good news: if your school is a Focus, Focus Plus, or Priority School, you can easily get out of it in the Spring.  All of you will be hearing from me very soon.  But just so you know, all of us on the catwalk are watching…

To all the very brave parents who opted their child out last Spring, I want to say Thank You. You made a very brave decision, and I salute you. Your job now is to do the same this year, no matter what threats or bullying gestures are thrown your way. Hopefully House Bill 50 will be vetoed by the time Smarter Balanced rolls around again next Spring, but if not do what you did this year. While some may have looked down on you for that decision, stand by your convictions. Even if it was in a “high-performing” school. And spread the word. The doors of conversation will start to open up in the coming week when parents get their kids results. You don’t have to worry about that. Cause your child is a not-having-to-take-the-test rock star, and you made the right decision.

If your school isn’t on this list, you can check it all out here:

http://www.doe.k12.de.us/cms/lib09/DE01922744/Centricity/Domain/111/Attachment3%20SchoolandCharterPerformanceParticipationUpdated0917.pdf

Back To School Message For Students, Parents, Teachers & Schools

In Delaware, all public school students are back in school.  This will be a very interesting year ahead for all of us.  The invasion of corporate education reform will be felt the strongest this year.  The Smarter Balanced Assessment results will be released on a statewide level in a couple days and the results will go to parents in a few weeks.  Priority and focus schools will feel the pain of submitting plans to the Delaware Department of Education.  Opt-out will become bigger and more complicated.  Schools will lose essential funding due to budget issues in our state government that will continue to go unaddressed.  Reports will come out showing how some charters in this state should practice certain application tactics.  Parents and teachers will complain about things.  The DOE will make it look like everything is awesome when they come out with press releases.  Governor Markell will most likely have about 20 weekly messages and 30 public comments about how great education is but how much we need to do to make Delaware the best state in the country for education.  A new Secretary of Education will decide if the DOE should stay on course or course-correct.  The 148th General Assembly will debate education issues for our children and the DOE and their reform buddies will lobby the legislators for their own agendas.  Parents will become increasingly vocal about hotbed education issues in our state.  Common Core will be a common pain for students and parents.  Wilmington schools will be the front page headline for most schools in the state.  Vouchers won’t go anywhere.  Most of the people in the state will still have no clue who Rodel is.  I will keep blogging about all of this.  But at the end of the day, it’s about our children.  We all need to keep them safe and keep them learning.  The rest is just detail.  Best of luck to all involved in any way with education this year!

Email Penny Schwinn At The DOE To Oppose The Opt-Out Punishment In The School Report Card!!!!

It appears the Academic Framework Working Group will have a few more meetings heading into September.  They will be finalizing their decisions at their September 23rd meeting.  Today I had a very cordial email exchange with Penny Schwinn, the Chief Officer of Performance & Accountability at the Department of Education.  I found out the next three meetings will be on 9/2, 9/17 and 9/23 and I asked Penny Schwinn if they could be made public and for more stakeholders added to this group.

Schwinn indicated other than the non-negotiable items mandated by the US DOE, which have to be in there, the other items have not been finalized, including the participation rate penalty and the growth measures.  She said no weights for the school report card have been finalized at this point as well.  I did share with her that I felt far too much weight, as proposed based on their March meeting, is tied to the Smarter Balanced Assessment results.  In addition, I did advise her more of the school culture, such as suspension & expulsion rates and even bullying statistics should be added, as this is a frequent concern for parents in any school choice.

Schwinn also shared that all Delaware Superintendents will receive emails about the next few meetings and all have been invited to attend. She did not say anything about the Board members in each district, but I did request the Board Presidents be emailed as well since they have a large say in district matters as well. I also asked if the meetings could be recorded and released on the DOE website to show a level of transparency for the public.

This measure the AFWG wants to have with a participation rates for standardized testing being multiplied by the school’s academic performance is a punishment against schools. It is out of the school’s hands if a parent opts their child out.  It is 100% a parent’s right and their decision.  Penny Schwinn did indicate she is more than happy to receive public input on this matter and anything associated with the school report card and welcomes any input.  So please email Penny Schwinn and the accountability department at the Delaware DOE, DOEAccountability@doe.k12.de.us and include me in the cc: section with kevino3670@yahoo.com so I can get an accurate feel for the opposition to this punishing measure.

I suspect the State Board of Education will attempt to vote on this at their October meeting, without true stakeholder input.  This could be very damaging for our schools and teachers and students.  A poor grade for a school can cause a lot of public perception to sway parents towards one school or another.  This School Report Card is vastly weighted with the results of the Smarter Balanced Assessment, which can not and should not be a determining factor for how good or bad a school might be.

As well, email your legislator, the Delaware PTA, the school board in your district, and anyone who you think might be able to oppose this.  If you have children in Delaware public schools, talk to other parents.  Let the principal know you oppose this.  MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD!  Whether you support or oppose opt-out, this is not an accurate measurement of a school!

Breaking News: DOE Advising Legislators Of Smarter Balanced Results Before Districts and Parents!!!!

The Delaware Department of Education is going to meet with members of the General Assembly and let them know what the results of Smarter Balanced were in the coming weeks.  This will be weeks, if not a month, before the results are released publicly.  I would think they would release the results to everyone all at once, especially parents and schools.  But there may be other motivations on the DOE’s part.

They know the General Assembly is coming back in five months.  They also know these scores will be very bad.  Under Governor Markell’s expert advice I’m sure, they are going to meet with the legislators to soften the blow.  They will give them every assurance of the following: “It’s only the first year.”  “Through going over the data, we have recognized the parts that need to be fixed.”  “We aren’t going to give the SBAC to juniors anymore since they already take the SAT.*”  “We need to give the test a chance and work out the bugs.”  “We realize the test is too long, so we are going to shorten it a bit.”  “We really can’t have parents opting out.  Can we trust you to look out for the kids and not vote for an override of the veto?”

I find it very interesting the DOE feels legislators need to know this information BEFORE parents.  The DOE is getting very desperate these days and their nervousness is beginning to show.  They are no longer operating under the arrogance we have known in the past.  They are scared.  They know most of them, at least the higher-ups, will be gone come January 2017.  They truly felt Delaware was unique and would survive the storms going on across the country.  They didn’t count on parents and teachers rising up as much as we have, and the domino effect this has caused.  They thought they were protected and untouchable, but now they know the game is over.  How long have they had the results?

Meanwhile, Governor Markell seems to think the veto override won’t even make it to the table!  I’m guessing he really thinks he owns the General Assembly and they will do whatever he tells them to do.  We know this is true with some of them, but I wouldn’t count them out Jack!  You also didn’t think House Bill 50 would ever pass the House or the Senate.  It must have been embarrassing to see your biggest education initiative railroaded in a bi-partisan show of support for parents.  But I’m sure you’re right Governor.  I’m sure they will ignore thousands of constituents during an election year and do whatever the lame duck demands they do.

For the schools that gave parents a rough time over opt-out: how does it feel knowing the DOE is sitting on the data that caused so much grief in your schools the past year?  They already have the results and they aren’t sharing it.  They need to spin it first, so when they do give them to you, they already have their scripted responses for all of you and the media.

To the legislators of Delaware: Don’t buy their spin.  Remember the reasons why you voted yes for House Bill 50.  Carry that with you over the next five months.  The DOE is trying to clean up the mess they created by causing havoc and chaos in the schools of Delaware.  They will use you.  They want your voice to soften the blow.  You were not elected to be Governor Jack Markell’s servant.  You were elected by the people in your district to serve them, to look out for their best interests.  Not Jack’s.  For those who voted no on the opt-out bill, was it worth it in the end?  Do you trust the Governor that much to think he can truly deliver on what he promised you?  He used all of you to further HIS agendas, not yours.  When he leaves in January 2017, he won’t give any of you a second thought…

For the parents: was any of this worth it?  Our state Department of Education has the results of a standardized assessment your children took months ago and they are not giving them to you.  This is a slap in the face.  You won’t even know until your child is back in school for a few weeks.  I will tell all of you again, this test does not matter.  When you get the fancy letter in the mail from the DOE, with all their fancy graphs and growth trends, and all the pretty colors, take it for what it is: a gigantic waste of time when your child could have actually been learning instead of being a guinea pig for the DOE and their corporate buddies.  Remember the millions upon millions of dollars that were taken out of your child’s classroom so the DOE could unleash this test.  Remember this and say never again.  This year, Refuse The Test.  On the very first day of school.  If the DOE can’t give you the respect YOU deserve so they can put a Band-Aid on a gushing flesh wound, than they don’t deserve to receive more data at your child’s great expense.

*Since the College Board is aligning the SAT to Common Core, there is no need for high school juniors to take the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  They essentially already are…

Letters To Legislators

Delaware parents, teachers and citizens are emailing Delaware Senators feverishly this weekend.  It is so awesome to see everyday citizens become heavily involved in matters of education with their children, neighbors, and family.  In my view, this is what democracy should be about.  Legislators represent their constituents, not only in their district, but the entire state

If you would like to have your letter to the legislator published, please let me know and I put it up here as soon as possible.  Please advise if you want your name published.  My email is kevino3670@yahoo.com and I will gladly take both pros and cons of House Bill 50.  I will be posting letters I’ve received from folks who sent letters to the House of Representatives in the coming week.  In the meantime, please keep writing your district Senator, the Senate Education Committee, and Mark Murphy.  Murphy?  Sure, why not!  His email is mark.murphy.k12.doe.us and he should be receiving emails ALL DAY LONG if you are against the policies HIS Department of Education have created against our schools, teachers and students.  He is the Secretary after all!

Delaware Father’s Passionate Email To The House Education Committee

This is why I blog.  Not for myself, but to get the word out to others.  I asked parents to email every single member of the Delaware House Education Committee to show their support for House Bill 50, the Parent Opt Out legislation.  One father took the baton and ran with it.  What David Brenton said in this email is nothing short of amazing, and I highly encourage every parent to come up with their own words from the heart and email every single member.

State Of Delaware Legislators,

I have 3 children in the Delaware Public School system. I am a former Delaware Public School student. Like many of your constituents, I spend a lot of time trying to make ends meet. My head down and nose to the grind stone. I and many like me have trusted you to see our children’s education is the best it can be. You have before you an opportunity to earn that trust. HB 50. Please pass it.

I have been paying attention lately. I have been to many meetings to listen to other parents, teachers, principals, and my representatives about Smarter Balanced Testing. I listened to a DDOE official tell me about the value of assessments and the data that this testing will provide. About the money we will get from the Federal Government. About how rigorous these national standards are and how they will help our children compete in the global economy. I’m sorry, I don’t agree, here is why:

Assessments, I expect a certified teacher to have the skill set to assess my child. I expect the school principal to have the skill set to assess their teachers. I expect the superintendent to have the skill set to assess their principals. If this is not the case, Someone is not doing their job!

Data Collection, At my Delaware school, I was told the difference between The USA and the USSR was freedom. “That in the USSR the young children had to take a test in school, and the results would plot their course to employment. Here In the USA you have the freedom to aspire to any type of employment if you worked hard”. I didn’t think it was a good idea then. I don’t think its a good idea now. Please forgive me if I don’t trust others with data to manipulate my children.

Money From the Federal Government, I pay taxes, I pay school taxes, I don’t care if Delaware has excepted a bribe from the DOE to set up yet another bureaucracy, It all comes from the same pocket, mine.

Rigorous National Standards, These standards were not created by educators, there was no task force that scoured the globe in search of the best educational methods and standards. In fact educational scholars refused to endorse these standards. They are not proven at all! This is experimental education and I don’t like my children used as guinea pigs.

Compete in the global economy, My generation’s education went to the moon, invented computers, internet, cell phones and much more. This is a definition of not competing I’m not familiar with. I have opted my 3rd grader out. I will opt out my older children soon. I need your support. HB50.

Proud Father David Brenton

WEAC’s Tony Allen Is The Busiest Man in Delaware!

The Wilmington Education Advisory Committee is completely transparent with their meetings with individuals outside the committee.  I applaud this level of transparency!  Tony Allen, the Chair of WEAC, has been extremely busy.  When does this man sleep?

Governor Markell Wants A Conversation But Parents MUST Be An Equal Party

From the Delaware.gov website, my thoughts on the bottom.

Governor Initiates Statewide Plan for Future Education Offerings

Date Posted: Thursday, March 19th, 2015
Categories:  News Office of Governor Markell

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Announces review of public schools and programs to address unmet student needs

Dover, DE – Governor Markell today announced a needs assessment and strategic planning process for the future of Delaware public schools, including charter, vocational-technical, and magnet schools. The State will review current opportunities available to students, analyze trends, and quantify areas of unmet needs for Delaware families.

“Many amazing schools and programs across the state are offering students diverse and innovative opportunities to meet their individual needs,” said Markell. “However, not all of our students have access to the programs of their choice. Many schools are oversubscribed and should be expanded or replicated. At the same time, we don’t want our districts to start new programs, and we don’t want to open new charter and magnet schools, if families aren’t asking for what they offer.

“This effort will ensure that state and district plans are designed to best meet individual students’ needs and spark their interests.”

Launching the effort during a meeting of the State Board of Education, the Governor specifically referenced the tremendous progress made at Vo Tech schools in each county, noting that they don’t have the capacity to serve all of the students who select them in the school choice process.

Other trends include four new middle and high schools that will open in the City of Wilmington this fall, reflecting the desire for new options in the city. In addition, programs focused on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills that are needed for jobs in growing industries, like those offered at Conrad Schools of Science, as well as the college prep courses at Mount Pleasant High School, have garnered increased interest. However, no process has existed to systematically ensure that more students can gain from the experiences they want at traditional, magnet, and charter schools.

The strategic plan developed through the Governor’s Statewide Review of Educational Opportunities for Delaware Students will quantify programs where demand exceeds the state’s capacity and analyze demographic trends to project future needs. That will help the state, school districts, and charter school operators know where and how to invest, from which dual-enrollment programs are most valuable and popular to the types of curriculum from which more students would benefit.

“For the past two years, the State Board of Education has referenced the need for the state to develop a comprehensive analysis of our portfolio of public schools, a thorough needs assessment to identify strengths, weaknesses, saturations, as well as opportunities for success and innovation,” said Teri Quinn Grey, President of the State Board of Education President. “We believe that such an analysis would aid the state in the development of this strategic plan, as well as be a useful tool for local boards and school leaders in deciding school programming decisions, facility decisions, and other educational opportunities. It also will be a tool to be utilized by policy leaders, community members, and businesses to evaluate opportunities for further investment and expansion in Delaware.”

The review announced today was inspired by a proposal by the Wilmington Education Advisory Committee (WEAC) – a group formed by the Governor last year that has urged the state to be smarter and more strategic about the growth of educational opportunities, particularly for charter schools in Wilmington. Markell said he agreed with the Committee’s recommendation, but also believes we can’t limit this effort to one city or county, or to charter schools alone.

“It can benefit our education system statewide,” said Markell. “All schools are part of the solution.”

WEAC Chair Tony Allen voiced support for expanding on the group’s recommendation.

“There is no question that charter schools will remain a critical part of public education in Delaware and that many students throughout the state will be served by them, and in many cases served well,” said Allen. “However, we cannot continue to operate two systems with little interaction and coordination and expect the quality benefits that all of our children deserve. It is our hope that a plan for charter schools extends itself to public education in Delaware broadly and forces stronger collaboration across the traditional district, charter and vo-tech boundaries.”

Representative Charles Potter Jr. (D-Wilmington North), who the Governor recognized at the event for his advocacy in establishing WEAC as an opportunity for members of the community to have a stronger voice on issues involving education of Wilmington children, voiced his support of the plan as well.

“I’m in support of the governor’s efforts to undertake this statewide strategic plan,” said Rep. Potter. “I feel strongly that we have to take a comprehensive look at what is happening in Wilmington and address those issues as well.”

It sounds like someone is realizing education is a mess in this state.  I think the people are the ones who need to control this conversation though.  For every person in this group, you need to have an EQUAL and state-wide amount of parents.  And not parents who are in this group or that group.  I’ve been to meetings like that.  We need down to earth, grassroots parents.  It is very easy to pick out the good and capitalize on that, but if you aren’t looking at the bad, the rot will still be there.

Nobody knows children like a child’s parent.  I defy you to find anyone that knows more than a parent that loves their child.  I think we are willing to hear a conversation, but we want to be an EQUAL part of it.  Otherwise, this just isn’t going to work Governor Markell.

 

Hi, this is clarity calling. Is Jack Markell there?

I’m hearing superintendents, principals, teachers, parents and students are all getting multiple different stories about opt out from districts, the newspapers, radio, social media, the Governor’s office, Legislative Hall, schools, blogs, email, and all the rest.

Here is what I am hearing the most.  Parent opts out, gets either the DOE recommended letter or an email from the principal, saying nope, can’t opt out here (I picture them saying this like the kid on the bus in Forrest Gump when he tells him “Can’t sit here”).  Parent either folds and kid is going to take the test, or notches it up a bit.  The authority figure (not the parent), folds and tells the parent “Go ahead, opt out.  That’s what the DOE wants us to say.”

Can’t we have a civilized and consistent opt out movement for crying out loud?  Is that too much to ask for?  Can’t the DOE or Governor Markell give some kind of guidance on this?  We know they don’t like it, but it’s happening, and they might as well be more successful at stopping the wind from blowing at this point.  Do your jobs!  Why am I the only one making it clear: Parents don’t need permission to opt out!!!!  Just stop!!!!!

Mark Murphy & Governor Markell Targeting Gateway & Reach! Making Room For Priority Charters?

In a shocking article yesterday, Kilroy’s Delaware announced the Delaware Department of Education and Secretary of Education Mark Murphy were targeting Gateway Lab School and Reach Academy For Girls.  Both these schools have struggled for many years with reaching the proficiency ratings from standardized testing.  My thoughts and predictions on this are below the DOE announcement from yesterday:

CHARTER SCHOOL ACCOUNTABILITY COMMITTEE ISSUES RECOMMENDATIONS ON REACH ACADEMY, GATEWAY LAB’S FUTURES

Secretary Murphy to make decision at December 18 State Board of Education meeting following public comment period

The Delaware Department of Education’s Charter School Accountability Committee today recommended not to renew Reach Academy and Gateway Lab School’s charters at the end of this academic year because of poor academic performance at both schools.

A public hearing is scheduled for December 10 in Wilmington with public comment accepted through that date as well. After reviewing the record, including public hearing transcripts, public comment and the CSAC recommendations, Secretary of Education Mark Murphy will make his decision regarding the schools’ futures at the December 18 State Board of Education meeting.

Should the Secretary and the State Board accept the committee’s recommendations and decide not to renew the charters, the state will assist families in finding other schools for the next academic year. The children may return to the district schools in their home feeder patterns or fill out the state’s School Choice application for another district or charter school. The application deadline is January 14, 2015.

Reach Renewal Information/Timeline
· Renewal report (April 2014)
· Academic Performance Review (September 9, 2014)
· Organizational Performance Review (October 1, 2014)
· Financial Performance Review (October 1, 2014)
· Renewal application (September 30, 2014)
· Public hearing transcript (October 8, 2014)
· Initial CSAC meeting (October 15, 2014)
· CSAC initial report issued (October 22, 2014)
· School response (November 7, 2014)
· Final CSAC meeting (November 17, 2014)
· Final CSAC report issued (November 24, 2014)

· Public hearing and close of public comment period (6 p.m., December 10, 2014, 2nd floor auditorium, Carvel State Office Building, 820 N. French St., Wilmington)

· Decision by Secretary Murphy at State Board of Education meeting (1 p.m., December 18, 2014, Cabinet Room, Townsend Building, 401 Federal St., Dover)

Gateway Renewal Information/Timeline
· Renewal report (April 2014)
· Academic Performance Review (September 9, 2014)
· Organizational Performance Review (October 1, 2014)
· Financial Performance Review (October 1, 2014)
· Renewal application (September 30, 2014)
· Public hearing transcript (October 8, 2014)
· Initial CSAC meeting (October 14, 2014)
· CSAC initial report issued (October 22, 2014)
· School response (November 7, 2014)
· Final CSAC meeting (November 17, 2014)
· Final CSAC report issued (November 24, 2014)

· Public hearing and close of public comment period (6 p.m., December 10, 2014, 2nd floor auditorium, Carvel State Office Building, 820 N. French St., Wilmington)

· Decision by Secretary Murphy at State Board of Education meeting (1 p.m., December 18, 2014, Cabinet Room, Townsend Building, 401 Federal St., Dover)

In other recommendations, the committee supported renewal of the following charter schools: Delaware Academy of Public Safety and Security, EastSide Charter School, Family Foundations Academy, Las Américas ASPIRA Academy and Odyssey Charter School.

According to last year’s September 30th Unit Count report, Gateway Lab School is home to almost 60% special education students.  Out of that population of 122 students, nearly 28% were listed as in intensive or complex categories.  It is very easy to see why this many students with disabilities would struggle with standardized testing, something the DOE, Murphy and Markell seem to ignore.  Rigor and special needs don’t mix well, never have, never will.  But the DOE, in its continued arrogance, seems to think these students will just magically rise to the occasion.

The timing is also very suspicious for this announcement.  A month and a half before the Christina and Red Clay Districts have to announce their intentions with the priority schools and the already soon-to-be-closed Moyer charter school was given the hangman’s noose, two other charters seem to be given a death sentence as well.  This is a lot of realignment in one county.  Reach has been a thorn in the DOE’s side for years, but Gateway is different.  Closing Gateway would send a crystal clear message to the special needs community that no one is safe from scrutiny in Delaware.  I’ve commented before about the very high population of special needs children in the priority schools, and now this.  It would not be surprising if a very huge charter school housing special needs children in Newcastle County became a reality.  There has already been a Facebook announcement of a planned charter school of this type for Kent County, in addition to Positive Outcomes.

The DOE is shifting the landscape to further their own agenda.  So far, nothing has been able to stop them in their endless quest to harm public education in Delaware.  No task force, union, PTA, or other groups have stopped them in anything since Governor Markell began his authoritarian reign.  They are making all their decisions based on DCAS scores which no longer mean anything since that is not the state assessment anymore.  Furthermore, many students at Gateway would most likely qualify for the DCAS-Alt assessment.  The DOE could care less because to think otherwise would show a level playing field.  If Rodel and Markell say to do it, they jump.  And yet, Delaware College Prep gets a pass even though they have not met proficiency in four years.  Yes, their charter is not up for renewal, but they must please someone in the DOE and the Governor’s office.  This just proves the DOE will use data and manipulate it when it suits their needs.

I anticipate the parents at Gateway will cause a huge ruckus over this announcement.  This needs to be a warning sign to EVERY special needs parent in Delaware that has children in our public schools.  The DOE does not care about disabilities.  They do not care about anything that could affect your child.  It’s all about serving their masters and corporate profit at student’s expense.  They are moving so fast with decisions, the public can’t digest yesterday’s announcement when another one comes.  This throws everyone off track and stops the negative chatter because nobody can keep up with it all.

I will say this once more: We need to make a stand against Governor Markell and the DOE.  We need to do this now.  If you are in agreement, let’s start planning now.  We will only get one chance before things change so much we will be helpless to stop it.  Yes, I can be very argumentative about these things, but how often have I been wrong since I started this blog?  Come January 1st, I predict Markell will announce the priority schools will become charter schools, effective August 2015.  The student populations that don’t go to the feeder schools of the six priority schools, Gateway, Moyer and Reach will all transfer to the new charter school chain in the CEB Tower in downtown Wilmington.  If they do not make a new special needs charter school in this building, these students will go to their feeder schools where the DOE will use the data from Smarter Balanced to judge those schools as failures.  Eventually, they will replace every single school with charter schools while Rodel, the Vision Network, the DuPonts, Delaware Community Foundation, Governor Markell, select members of the DOE, many legislators, and the millionaires of Delaware become VERY rich, more than they already might be.

Delaware DOE Embargoed Public Information Yesterday, What Is Their Agenda? @KilroysDelaware @ed_in_de @dwablog @Apl_Jax @ecpaige @nannyfat #netde #eduDE #prioritizethat

Adding fuel to an already huge fire, the Delaware DOE emailed all the legislators about the Town Hall meetings regarding the school accountability waivers yesterday morning.  As of this time, no notice had been received by schools and teachers that I am aware of.  While it is customary for an entity to wait for a press release on matters such as this, why would you notify only certain parties first and not the parties that have the most right to be there?

In observing several different social media sites, I have noticed many teachers and those concerned with the complete and utter disregard the DOE has for its most important stakeholders have become very angry over these issues.  Not only did the DOE not tell these groups, but they also booked these meetings on nights when other very important education issues are going on.  Some have surmised they planned it this way and they do NOT want a large attendance of parents and educators present.  They also feel this is just a big dog and pony show for the DOE to make it look like public outreach.  I am inclined to agree with these individuals.  This is a DOE that has their Board of Education meetings in the middle of the workday, virtually shutting out parents and educators from attending.

The following email had been sent out yesterday morning to all the legislators in Delaware.  But can someone please, for the love of God, let me know why it would be essential to include someone from DelDot and the Office of Management and Budget before educators, administrators, parents and students?

From: Shockley Tina <Tina.Shockley@doe.k12.de.us>
Sent: Tuesday, October 28, 2014 8:51 AM
To: Anderson, Patricia L (LegHall); Atkins, John (LegHall); Barbieri, Michael (LegHall); Baumbach, Paul (LegHall); Bennett, Andria (LegHall); Bentz, David (LegHall); Blakey, Donald (LegHall); Blevins, Patricia (LegHall); Bolden, StephanieT (LegHall); Bonini Colin; Brady, Gerald (LegHall); Brainard, Mark G (LegHall); BriggsKing, Ruth (LegHall); Bushweller, Brian (LegHall); Carson, William (LegHall); Carter, Dick (LegHall); Cloutier, Catherine (LegHall); Contant, Heather (LegHall); Cook, Bill (LegHall); Cutajar-Wynne, Lauren (LegHall); DeStefano, Damian (LegHall); Dukes, Timothy (LegHall); Dwyer, Sean (LegHall); Ennis, Bruce (LegHall); Evinger, Kathryn (LegHall); Finnigan, Sean (LegHall); Flannigan, Beverly (LegHall); Fulgham, Joseph (LegHall); Gordon, Bryan (DHSS); Grant, Jerry (DOI); Graves, Lauren (LegHall); Gray, Ronald (LegHall); Hall-Long, Bethany (LegHall); Harper, Rylene (LegHall); Harrison, Leigh Ann (LegHall); Heffernan, Debra (LegHall); Henry, Margaret Rose (LegHall); Hickman, Nancy (LegHall); Hocker, Gerald (LegHall); Hudson, Deborah (LegHall); Irvin, Alton (LegHall); Jackson, Michael S (LegHall); Jamison, Alexis F (LegHall); Jaques, Jr, Earl (LegHall); Johnson, JJ (LegHall); Johnson, Quinton (LegHall); Kanich, Tammie (LegHall); Keeley, Helene (LegHall); Kenton, Harvey (LegHall); kenton Harvy; Kowalko, John (LegHall); Lavelle, Greg (LegHall); Lawson, Dave (LegHall); Lewis, Elizabeth (OMB); Longhurst, Valerie (LegHall); Lopez, Ernesto B (LegHall); Mantegna, Stephanie (LegHall); Marshall, Robert (LegHall); McBride, David (LegHall); McCartan, Valerie (LegHall); McDowell, Harris (LegHall); Miro, Joseph (LegHall); Mitchell, John L (LegHall); Moore-Dean, Margaret (LegHall); Mulrooney, Michael (LegHall); Osienski, Edward (LegHall); Outten, Bobby (LegHall); Paradee, Trey (LegHall); Park, Evan (DelDOT); Peterman, Jack (LegHall); Peterson, Karen (LegHall); Pettyjohn, Brian (LegHall); Philpotts, Cimone (LegHall); Poore, Nicole (LegHall); Potter, Jr, Charles (LegHall); Price, Pam (LegHall); Puffer, Richard (LegHall); Ramone, Michael (LegHall); Ridout, Ashley (LegHall); Ruberto, Nancy (LegHall); Ryan, Carling (LegHall); Schwartzkopf, Peter (LegHall); Scott, Darryl (LegHall); Seitz, Meredith (LegHall); Shipley, Glenn (LegHall); Short, Bryon (LegHall); Short, Daniel (LegHall); Simpson Gary; Simpson, Gary (LegHall); Smith, Marcia (LegHall); Smith, Melanie G (LegHall); Smyk, Steve (LegHall); Sokola, David (LegHall); Sokola, Megan (LegHall); Spiegelman, Jeff (LegHall); Townsend, Bryan (LegHall); Venables, Robert (LegHall); Viola, John (LegHall); Volturo, Andrew (LegHall); Walker, Rebecca (LegHall); Wallace, Meghan (LegHall); Williams, Dennis E (LegHall); Williams, Jane E (LegHall); Williams, Kimberly (LegHall); Wilson, David L (LegHall); Wilson, Kay (LegHall); Wood, Bonnie (LegHall); Wootten, Sarah (LegHall); Zdeb, Michelle (LegHall)
Cc: May, Alison (K12); Mclaughlin, Mary Kate (K12)
Subject: Embargoed Notice – New State Accountability System

Dear Legislator:

As elected officials, we wanted to give you embargoed notice of several outreach opportunities we will be announcing later today related to a new state accountability system. The Delaware Department of Education will be seeking public input on a new state accountability system through a survey as well as a series of Town Hall meetings. The survey, available here, seeks feedback on what the public would like measured and reported on the state’s public school accountability report card.

In addition to the survey, the Department will host three Town Halls in November to gather public feedback on the state’s new approach to reporting school performance and its submission of a waiver for renewed flexibility from the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Staff from the Department will present the state’s proposed new accountability system and outline the process for renewal of the ESEA flexibility waiver. Time will be devoted to answering questions and seeking public comment on both topics.

The new accountability system will have two parts:

· Part A includes metrics that we know to be critical to measure for public schools, and that align with federal accountability. This includes student proficiency and growth on state tests, college and career readiness benchmarks, chronic absenteeism rates, and on-track to graduate measures.

· Part B will include those measures, as informed by the survey results.

The state recognizes there are additional measures that are critical to Delaware residents.

The survey will be open through December 31, 2014.

The Town Halls are scheduled for:
• 6 to 7:30 p.m., Wednesday November 5 at the Carvel State Office Building at 9th and French streets, Wilmington
• 6 to 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, November 12 at the John Collette Education Resource Center, 35 Commerce Way, Dover
• 6 to 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, November 19 at the Sussex County Council Chamber, 2 The Circle, Georgetown

Please let me know if you have any questions or would like additional information about either of these opportunities. We will be announcing them publicly later today.
Tina Shockley
Education Associate – Policy Advisor
Department of Education
Office: 302-735-4105
Cell: 302-632-2143
Fax: 302-739-4654
SLC: D370B