The “Intelligently Differentiated” Untermenschen Schools Of Delaware

HolocaustPicture

Publius, a frequent commenter on Kilroy’s Delaware, commented about advocacy for the students of Delaware.  In an attempt to demean those who promote equity in our schools, Publius broke down advocates into the following categories: special needs, low-income, English Language learners, orderly school environments, super-rigorous school environments, intelligently differentiated schools, and intelligently intra-school differentiated programs.  While he was mainly talking about the difference between choice schools and traditional schools, this isn’t the first time Publius has used such phrases.  While many know who Publius is, including myself, most of us can only laugh at his terminology.

But this comment was a bit different and shows the true thinking of someone who truly believes that students who are “smarter” should be separated from those who are not.  Such thought created the Charter School of Wilmington.  While some truly believe a school like this is justified in their enrollment preferences, public thought has shifted away from this narrow early 20th Century viewpoint to something more akin to the more modern and rational thoughts around equity and equality.

In the 1930s, Adolph Hitler rose to power because he responded to the fears of the Germans.  By promoting the “Aryan” ideal, Hitler was able to amass an incredible amount of power that allowed him to essentially take over  mainland Europe.  As a result of Hitler’s obsession with this master race, tens of millions of people died in a war that changed the face of the world.  In Nazi Germany’s Civil Service Law, citizens of Germany had to be able to provide documentation that they belonged to the “true” Aryan race, which was mainly Nordic in design.  Those who were not part of this very select “race” were considered subhuman, or untermenschen.

Publius, through his words, truly believes the “strong” should be separated from the “weak”.  He doesn’t use those words, but instead crafts them into such words as “intelligently differentiated”, “talented and gifted”, “orderly”, and “imperatives”.  But at the same time, he wants to be included in all the conversations concerning the problems with Delaware schools:

 Assume that everyone in the dialogue is in good faith and has an honest reason for their views.  If the current environment of attack-vilification persists, then we will get nowhere.

What Publius doesn’t understand is why so many people can’t wrap their head around his century old untermenschen ideals.  He has his defenders over on Kilroy’s, but none go to the lengths he does to justify his comments.  It is extremely hard to have a “conversation” with someone who is so clearly elitist and discriminatory.  I don’t believe Publius even sees this.  He doesn’t realize how his words actually harm charter schools in Delaware.  As the Delaware blogosphere’s largest proponent of school choice and charter schools, he does far more harm than good.  But because he is “that voice”, that advocate, we have to wonder if the stereotype of charter schools is actually based on what he says.  Such views led to the slaughter of over six million Jews in World War II.  While I certainly don’t believe Publius would even remotely come close to advocating such options for those who are different, his words could affect those who do.  There are people in the world today, even in Delaware, who believe in the righteousness of such atrocities.  Situations like this plant the seeds in others to do vile and abhorrent deeds.

Untermensch Effects

But Publius also takes pride in describing others on Kilroy’s Delaware, including myself!

Little Kevin: Despite your striving, you are not “why we fight”

“The People” choose the public will. Not what The Governor tells them to think. Not what a blogger tells them what to think. Especially not a blogger from Dover with no cattle but with a shopworn ballcap.

Notice how he refers to me as “little”.  As well he specifically refers to me as being “from Dover” as if Dover is subpar to where he comes from.  He also seems to think those who live in Dover must be agrarian in nature but I have “no cattle”.  As well, for someone who has never seen me with a “shopworn ballcap”, I also have to wonder how he feels about people who wear baseball hats.  Even more frightening, in looking at my Facebook pictures and other pictures that appear of myself on social media and search engines, the only pictures out there of me with a baseball hat on are from twenty years ago.  That was during my senior year Spring Break when myself and several others spent a week in West Virginia helping out the poor and unfortunate.  Is Publius actually stalking me?  I do wear a “shopworn ballcap” when I mow my lawn or do other outside work.  But Publius would only know that if he happened to be in my neighborhood which I don’t even remotely see as a possibility knowing his identity.  Disturbing or a stereotype?  You be the judge!

To be completely fair, I have gone after Publius many times in reaction to things he has said.  I have called him a “little man” and racist on more than one occasion.  I’m sure those who know Publius and ask him about these things would get a jovial laugh from him and would come back and tell me not to take him seriously.  But words like “intelligently differentiated” disturb me on many levels.  It is very demeaning to a lot of people, but most of all parents of children with special needs.  Parents of children with Down’s Syndrome or other cognitive disorders should be offended by these discriminatory comments.

There are a plethora of other issues with charter schools, but nothing gets the conversation going more than talk about enrollment preferences and counseling out of “troubled” students.  Even Charter School of Wilmington is slowly coming around to this based on their recent board agenda.  There was a discussion topic listed as “increasing low income and special ed applications”.  Earlier this week, I helped a six year old girl with disabilities get into Newark Charter School’s Kindergarten lottery despite a ridiculous application policy the school’s board made last September.

As more and more Delaware citizens come around more and more to a greater weight for civil rights over enrollment preferences, we see those like Publius fighting even harder for their warped ideals and ideologies.  Despite all of this, I hope the day comes when Publius can see the error of his ways and embrace equality and equity.

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My Impression Of The State Of The State

JackSOTS

First off, a very big thank you to Delaware Senator Brian Pettyjohn for inviting me as one of his guests for Governor Markell’s State of the State Address today.  I really wasn’t sure why he invited me.  I’m not even in his district!  But I just talked to him.  He asked me what I thought.  I told him it seemed like more broad strokes than really delving into any specific issues.  I thanked him for inviting me and let him know how much I appreciated it.  He said it is their way of saying thank you to people out there who are making a difference.  I don’t always feel that way, especially in the face of lost battles, but even when I seem down and out I always have that hope deep inside me.

When I entered the House Chamber and sat down, some familiar faces looked over at me.  Almost like, “Huh, what is he doing there?”  After some staring contests, State Rep. and Speaker of the House Pete Schwartzkopf brought the House to order.  Markell’s wife Carla and his son Michael came in, followed by the Judiciary, elected officials, and his Cabinet.  Two State Reps and two Senators were picked to escort the Governor in.  It was cool to see the rookie David Bentz announce the Governor’s State of the State.

As Governor Markell walked in the room, I was in the back corner, next to where the Sergeant-In-Arms sits.  Markell was shaking hands with some folks, and for a split second he glanced my way and raised an eyebrow.  You can read the full speech here but I do want to touch on a few parts.  When it comes to Governor Markell, I am very hard on him with his education policies.  I don’t believe they are the right policies and I don’t believe they serve all the students of Delaware in the best way.  With that being said, I can say he is a very passionate speaker.  When he said it has been the greatest honor of his life to serve as Governor of Delaware, I believe him.  When he talked about what a tremendous loss it was when Delaware lost Beau Biden, every single person in that room felt that loss.  When he honored our veterans, a police officer from Newark who saved three lives in one night the day before Christmas, and many citizens who have gained employment through some of the initiatives he helped to create, we clapped.

Instead of blasting the Governor over the nitty gritty, I’m going to give his speech some broad strokes.

Looking back, it’s easy to think we were always on this path. But seven years ago, we had no guarantees about the progress we would make, and certainly no guarantees that we would lead the region in job growth, lead all states in graduation growth rates, and transform opportunities for so many Delawareans. We could only have accomplished all of this by committing to do more than just reversing the tide of the recession – more than just hoping for a return to the past.

Way before I was blogging, the recession hit my family in a major way.  I was doing commercial collections for a company in Dover.  Up until about a year after the Great Recession hit, business was booming in that industry.  But once the bottom hit, my job became more and more difficult until I had to make a choice.  It was almost two years after that bottom hit that I left the company, while also working the job I am currently at.  Working seven days a week was hard, but I had to do what needed to be done.  My wife also went through some employment woes during those years.  After I left the commercial collections industry and continued at my current job, I delved into substitute teaching at a charter school in Dover.  My son went there, so it helped to see how he was doing everyday.  Eventually, I became a paraprofessional during the final days of the charter’s high school.  It was rewarding helping struggling students who were special needs.  It was shortly after that when I discovered my son had very unique special needs, and his journey became my journey.

The biggest challenge we face is the sharply accelerating cost of health care.

Tell me about it!  My insurance goes up every single year while the costs in the industry go up even higher.  Far too much of my income goes towards medical insurance.  I pray the cuts you are proposing do not affect the many families who have to rely on state-paid medical costs for their children with disabilities.  Without that, many families would be hopelessly lost.

Over the past several years, our students, families, teachers, and staff have set and reached loftier goals in almost every possible way. And the more we have asked, the more they have achieved, like record high graduation rates – improving faster than any other state – and some of the nation’s best test scores in the early grades.

It is so hard for me to get into this aspect without touching on my opposition to Markell’s education policies.  All I can say is stating that the graduation rates are higher and all college-ready students applying to college are getting in is not the most genuine thing to say.  Because lost in that proclamation is all those who are not college-ready.  Considering the vast majority of the country got an F on standardized test scores this year, that isn’t really saying much of anything except that the tests are really bad.

We reached all of these goals because of the incredible impact Delaware educators have every day – collaborating on effective lesson plans, providing help after school, believing in their students. Let’s thank them.

And we did, quite loudly I might add.

We all know that education is the great equalizer – providing the ladder from poverty to opportunity, separating the citizen from the inmate, distinguishing the vibrant thriving communities from those that seem to be forever in decline.

There are a lot of rungs on that ladder Governor Markell.  The community holds up the ladder.  If the community is in disarray, such as very violent crimes all around you, rampant drug use, and homelessness for many children, education is only going to do so much.  There is a whole middle class between your vibrant thriving communities and those forever in decline.  I’m not going to say education has never lifted anyone from poverty.  But there are far too many trapped in this cycle.  Education does not, can not, and will not solve all the issues.  I know you think that, along with many others that were in that room today.  But it just isn’t true.  I’ve found it is easy for those with power and wealth to think these thoughts, but the reality on the ground is vastly different than the aspirations you have for everyone.

Some of our highest need students are in Wilmington and are dealing not only with poverty, but the trauma of violence many of them see every day. Last year, with leadership from members of the City delegation and the support of Senator Sokola and Representative Jaques – we created the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission, chaired by Tony Allen.

While many questions remain about the specifics of the Commission’s plans, broad consensus exists on this point:

In a state whose courts set the precedent for Brown vs. Board of Education more than 60 years ago, but yet never acted to make any real change until told to do so by the federal courts, the time has come to take bold action on behalf of the children of Wilmington.

This does not leave me with a good feeling.  He is basically saying if the redistricting plan doesn’t pass, they are still going to take action on the matter.  If I were the Governor, I would have given a shout-out to who those city legislators were.  While Sokola and Jaques may have gotten the legislation rolling, other legislators were the ones demanding change.  Reps like Potter, Bolden, Keeley, and Senators like Rose-Henry.  I know I’ve missed quite a few, but they are the true legislator inspirations for what became WEIC.

If a plan comes to you that is clear and responsible, and does not place an extra burden on the residents of Red Clay or any other district, let’s make the most of this opportunity to transform education in Wilmington for generations to come.

Any other district is the entire state.  Any plan that costs money is going to put an extra burden on the residents of Delaware.  It’s called paying taxes.  Our taxes would go towards this initiative.  And while it may not seem like anything to the average citizen, with Delaware facing a budget deficit, that means something somewhere else is going to be reduced or cut.  Are you telling us that we have not seen this final plan?

The recognition of the discriminatory sins of prior generations also presents an opportunity to reflect on whether we have learned history’s lessons – whether we are living up to our core values of opportunity and equality for all people.

I’m just going to say four words, and hope that everyone understands: Charter School of Wilmington.  It’s not a choice if there isn’t equality.  It is elitism and segregation.  As well, what students with disabilities go through in Delaware with no basic special education funding in Kindergarten to 3rd grade is a national embarrassment.  If you truly want us to learn the lessons of the past, then stop allowing charters to further segregation.  Please stop demanding students with disabilities perform the same as their peers, and make them have to work harder to get to these dream levels.  That isn’t equality.  That is pompousness and arrogance.

The National Guard and our state suffered a heartbreaking loss this past year with the death of Beau Biden. Every day, the accomplishments of Beau’s service touch people in our state – from the military members with whom he served to the vulnerable children for whom he fought tirelessly as our Attorney General. We will help ensure we never forget his incredible legacy when, this spring, we officially name the Major Joseph R. (Beau) Biden III Armed Forces Reserve Center.

Well said.

Much has changed in Delaware since the first time I delivered the State of the State, but from my first day in office one constant has been the determination with which Delawareans seize the opportunities available to them.

This job and serving with all of you continues to be the honor of my life. It has only strengthened my faith in the good that we can do together. It has only reinforced how important our work is to the security and prosperity of future generations. I look forward to all we can still accomplish.

I know I’ve changed a lot since you first delivered the State of the State.  I wasn’t involved then, and I probably couldn’t tell you the names of two of our state reps and senators.  I didn’t know much about you at all Governor Markell.  I truly wish you meant that when you say “the good that we can do together”, because from my vantage point that work has consisted of gathering up the selected ones and having them make all the decisions.  Your every day parents have been shut out of most of the crucial education decisions going on.

I saw a different side to Governor Markell today.  I saw the Governor, in action, doing what he does best: public speaking.  He is a Corporate Democrat, and like any good business person, he knows how to sell the products.  He can be very persuasive, and for those who aren’t hip to what may be going on behind the scenes, it can be very easy to get sucked in.  I definitely saw his leadership qualities today.  But if you are losing the will of the people, it isn’t just that room you need to be talking to.  It’s the entire state.  And websites showing your speech don’t count.  You may be a lame duck with only a year left, but I don’t believe for one second that is slowing you down.  And you know I’m right Governor.  You are putting a rush on all the things you weren’t able to implement or accomplish in your first seven years.  It’s okay to let go now.

 

 

The Other Christmas Gift

This is incredibly awesome.  Someone once told me you should always give 75% of the time and want 25% of the time.  By doing this, you don’t even have to worry about wanting because the vast majority of giving creates what you receive.  This video proves this and shows how children who come from having the least have the biggest hearts.

Statewide Review Of Education Opportunities Highlights Charter School Cherry-Picking & Creaming

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Among the other controversial and disturbing events at the Delaware State Board of Education meeting yesterday, there was a presentation by the Public Consulting Group (PCG) on the Statewide Review of Educational Opportunities (SREO) for Delaware Schools.  This was a review requested by Governor Jack Markell last March to figure out which schools are getting it right.  When it comes right down to it, this report was a series of graphs showing demographics of school districts and charters and which schools have things like AP classes and Career-Technical education opportunities.  All of this is based in 2014-2015 data.  This report cost Delaware taxpayers $70,000.00.

Last September, I worked with Delaware Liberal and Delaware First State in creating graphs of the Smarter Balanced Assessment results and how low-income, minorities, and students with disabilities fared poorly on the controversial test.  It also showed how schools with low populations of these sub-groups did really good on the test.

The below PCG reports clearly show the divide in Delaware, especially with certain charters in our state: Charter School of Wilmington, Newark Charter School, Delaware Military Academy, Odyssey Charter School, and Sussex Academy.  The result: complete chaos in Delaware.  While the effect of this is not as clearly felt in Kent County, it has created havoc in Wilmington and lower Sussex County.  If anyone actually believes the lotteries in these schools are random and fair, take a close look at the graphs in these reports.  They select, hand-pick and cherry-pick.  They cream from the top applicants.  And many charters in our state weed out the “bad” students by using their “counseling out” technique.  To some extent, the magnet schools in Red Clay and Indian River do this as well.

The reports give a well-crafted illusion that we have too many schools in Delaware.  This foregone conclusion is, in my opinion, trying to please the charter supporters in our state.  It talks about high demand and wait lists at certain charters and indicates there are too many “empty seats” in Delaware traditional schools.  Do not be fooled by this illusion.  Yes, some charters are in high demand because of the illusions cast by the State and the charter community on their perceived success based on standardized test scores.  I’m going to call this the “smart flight” as many parents pulled their kids out of traditional and even private schools over the past twenty years and sent their kids to charters.  This resulted in funds pouring out of the traditional districts while the state was slowly decreasing the amount they gave schools in the state.  This increased the amount of local dollars the districts had to use to run their schools.   Meanwhile, Common Core, Race To The Top, DSPT, DCAS, and the Smarter Balanced Assessment wormed their way into our lives causing even more funding to be siphoned from the classroom.  All of this created a perfect storm in Delaware culminating into a hurricane of inequity, discrimination, and segregation.  While Governor Markell did not influence these events twenty years ago, he certainly has been a major part of it for well over ten years, even before he became Governor.

This report could be read in many ways, but if I were reading as an outside observer looking into Delaware, I would be highly concerned.  We have charters with hardly any African-Americans and students with disabilities.  We have other charters with very high populations of the two.  We have a Department of Education, State Board of Education, and a General Assembly who allowed this to happen by falling asleep at the wheel.  We have the highly controversial Wilmington Education Improvement Commission attempting to redraw Wilmington school districts without guaranteed funding to support it.  We have companies like Rodel, the Longwood Foundation, and the Welfare Foundation pouring money into charters and influencing events behind the scenes and right in our faces.  We have key people in our state who are part of national education cabals molding education policy with the public oblivious to all of this.  We have outside companies coming into our state, taking our money, and creating reports on things we either already know or creating illusions designed to brainwash the populace.  This is Delaware education.

DOE Recognizes MOT Charter & Sussex Academy As “Reward Schools” While Low-Income Title I Schools Are Labeled

The top recognition by the Delaware Department of Education for schools that do awesome on standardized assessments are two charter schools.  One is in a district that has a low population of low-income students and is in a more affluent area of the state, and the other has been named in a lawsuit by the ACLU for selective enrollment preferences in their application process that results in discrimination.  MOT Charter School and Sussex Academy are the two reward schools.  The recognition schools are as follows:

Distinguished Title I/Recognition Schools:

Thurgood Marshall Elementary School and Newark Charter School

Recognition Schools:

Brick Mill E.S., Dover Air Force Base M.S., Lake Forest North E.S., Lake Forest South E.S., Lancanshire E.S., Olive B. Loss E.S., Southern Delaware School of the Arts, Kathleen H. Wilbur E.S.

School of Continued Excellence 2015:

Howard High School

This is a new process for the Department as approved in their ESEA waiver submitted earlier this year.

Meanwhile, in the low-income Title I schools that have high populations of low-income, minority students, and students with disabilities, these schools have been labeled as Focus, Focus Plus and Priority Schools.  There are 10 Focus Schools, 4 Focus Plus, and 7 Priority Schools listed in the below report.  None of them are charter schools…no magnets…no vo-techs…just traditional school districts struggling to receive the resources and staffing they deserve.  They are not allowed to pick and choose who goes to their schools.  They take everyone.

16 To Watch In 2016: Tony Allen

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Tony Allen wears a lot of hats these days.  First and foremost, he leads the Corporate Communications for Bank of America’s Consumer Banking.  He sits on the Board of Directors at the Rodel Foundation.  But his biggest role in 2015 was the Chairman of both the Wilmington Education Advisory Committee and the Wilmington Education Commission (WEIC).

Unless you’ve been living in a hole, the WEIC’s job is to formulate a redistricting plan to get the Wilmington schools in the Christina School District shifted to Red Clay Consolidated School District.  Originally, the Wilmington schools in the Colonial School District were to be a part of this initiative, but their board said no.  They are still a part of the commission, but the most recent draft isn’t calling for their less than 300 students to move over.

WEIC has been controversial since day one.  Their biggest hurdle will be how to fund this long-term plan.  Ideas have surfaced over the past few months regarding raising property assessments to current day levels over time.  Many in Delaware oppose this, especially those in Sussex County around the beach towns.  Property values have increased dramatically in this area, and any change in property assessments will hit those homeowners very hard.  Recently, WEIC called for $6 million from Delaware’s General Fund in the budget for Fiscal Year 2017.  Delaware Governor Jack Markell promised members of WEIC at their most recent full commission meeting that Red Clay citizens will not have to pay for this.  So who will?  This is the question on everybody’s mind.

WEIC will present their draft to the Delaware State Board of Education on 12/17, next Thursday.  At that point, it is expected the State Board will vote yes on it in January and it will go the Delaware General Assembly for a vote.  This is where WEIC will face its greatest challenge.  With Delaware projected to have anywhere from a $150-$200 million dollar deficit for FY2017, many are guessing WEIC and the redistricting will be dead in the water once it hits the House and Senate floors.

For Tony Allen, he sees this as a “once in a generation” action.  Others feel this is being rushed through for various reasons.  I have always been suspicious of the overall motivations of the redistricting.  Kilroy’s Delaware thinks it is revenge against the Christina School District.  But there is one thing Red Clay has which none of the other districts do: they are a charter school authorizer, the only one of its kind in the state aside from the Delaware Department of Education.

As recently as last summer, Governor Markell was overheard, when asked about where the Wilmington students would go to high school, as saying “The Community Education Building”.  If WEIC is not all it claims to be from its leaders, expect a lot of heat put on Tony Allen and Dan Rich.  There are many who would benefit from Wilmington eventually becoming an all-charter district.  I pray this isn’t the end result.  I sincerely hope this is not the intentions of Tony Allen.  But I often ask if he has been used in this initiative, if he is one of the chief architects, or if the fears of many are just that.

At the end of the day, it should always be about the students.  Will the students of Wilmington truly be better off under one banner so to speak?  This is the question that all decision-makers will face in the coming months.  These children are the most vulnerable of all Delaware’s children.  The bulk of them come from poverty and low-income, are minorities, and many students with disabilities.  They are the ones that matter.  They are trusting the adults are doing the right thing.  If that trust is broken, how many generations will it take for that trust to be restored?

WEIC Public Hearing At Brandywine Springs Brings A Different Crowd

The Wilmington Education Improvement Commission held their fourth public hearing concerning the draft plan for the redistricting of Wilmington schools last night at Brandywine Elementary School.  Shana O’Malley with WDEL wrote about the WEIC draft concerns earlier today.

Something’s broken in the school system and no amount of money is going to fix that.

Many attendees expressed concern with the funding for this initiative in Wilmington Schools and how it will not only affect citizens in the Red Clay Consolidated School District, but the entire state.

“If it’s socioeconomic, something going on in the house, that belongs to social services,” said one parent. “The school district is not in the business of taking care of the mental health aspects of these kids, providing for them. Where are the parents at?”

With the Every Student Succeeds Act, there is a section on “Community Schools” where many of these services would be provided.  It is a very fine line in my opinion.  There is a huge difference between the population at Brandywine Springs Elementary and Warner Elementary.  One is out in the suburbs and the other is in the middle of the city.  Is it fair for a more affluent population to protest funding for the low-income populations?  This is the age-old question.  It also gets into the whole school choice issue in Delaware as well, especially up in Wilmington.  Some folks would love nothing more than “government schooling”, the public school system, to go away.  This crowd favors school vouchers to have funding diverted to private schools.  But then on the other end of the spectrum, we have students in Wilmington, usually African-American, who don’t have a complete family unit and live in neighborhoods filled with crime and drug use.  These are two completely different worlds, however, the first world inadvertently helped create the second world through “white flight”.

The speaker asked where the parents are at.  They could both be working.  It could be a single-parent home.  A parent could be in prison or deceased.  But chances are, a parent in Hockessin makes a lot more money than the parent of a child at these Wilmington schools.  If parents are unable to set up mental health services for children, when does the city, county or state need to step in?  It comes down to the haves and the have-nots.  The haves want to keep what they have but the have-nots see what the haves have and want that but are unable to get it themselves.  But here is the key issue: these are children who didn’t write the script here.  This is the world they were born into.  Should inner-city students be denied the things folks in the suburbs take for granted?  This became very evident at Skyline Middle School in Red Clay this fall.  Due to a change in feeder patterns, Skyline took in many students who are considered disadvantaged.  As a result, school bullying increased causing parent outcry at their past couple board meetings.

These are the modern issues of the day.  We have come a long way since the first half of the 20th century when blacks were separated from whites.  We are, and should be, past that.  But economic levers still dictate these kinds of situations from happening in many cities in America.  For any issues like WEIC to work, it is going to take a lot of listening, convincing, and patience.  It will take compromise, from all sides of the issues.  But the big problem here is the timing.  Some of the people behind WEIC are afraid that if the moment passes it will be lost for a generation.  So in a sense, it is being rushed.  During an election year, and even during a gubernatorial election year.  If it comes down to the rich wanting separation and the poor wanting equity, with the dwindling middle class straddling both sides of the issues, we will get nowhere.  And in all of this, are those with disabilities.  Students from low-income, a minority and a disability.  If we keep these children “out” of the public school system in our affluent areas, is that not a form of triple segregation?  We can’t just rely on the status quo in Delaware.  These are deep concerns that affect the viability of our state.  Compared to many other states, we are woefully behind not only in education but also moving away from the past.  In this “me” versus “society as a whole”, I personally choose society.  Because if society isn’t right, I don’t feel I can be in my head knowing I’m not contributing to society.  I know, we all pay taxes.  Some pay more, some pay less.  Nothing in life is free.  We pay for products that constantly go up in price, but complain when taxes go up.  Why?

New Parent Advocacy Group For Special Needs Children & At-Risk Youth In The Works

I can now reveal why Bill Doolittle stepped down as President-Elect of the Delaware PTA.  He is in the process of forming an advocacy group for the children in Delaware who need it the most!  And he wants parents help in the formation of this group.  Bill asked me to help get  the message out:

Beginning today, I am starting the effort of forming a group of parents/families and other interested individuals to begin the formal process of developing a mission/vision, purpose and to incorporate as a nonprofit for such an organization.

I have an initial concept which is a non dues (donation only) grassroots organization for parent/families and others who are interested in making sure that every child at risk can be fully supported to have the opportunity meet their potential. I see the efforts including: providing information, peer-to-peer support and of course strong focused advocacy. My initial vision is of Delaware as the first chapter with 2 divisions. One for children with disabilities and special health care needs and a second for children living in poverty and impacted by other environmental factors such as trauma, home and food insecurity, non-English speaking, any type of discrimination and so forth. Of course it will be the people who join in this effort to make the final decisions as to all of this.

I am asking for individuals who are interested in being part of the formation, or who simply want to add their voice once it is formed, to contact me. The emails I am using for this initiative is DEARCPA@gmail.com

Shortly after I first started this blog, Bill contacted me about starting a group like this which I was looking to do eventually.  I firmly believe now is the time for a non-partisan, non-State Government affiliated group like this to get going.  Far too often, our state only listens to groups that are already a part of state government and that needs to change!  I will certainly be adding my voice to this effort, and I strongly encourage all like-minded parents to do the same.  Parents are an integral part of education and the community at large, and our voices need to be heard!

How Can Title I Funds Be Distributed In Delaware School Districts And Charters?

Since I’ve been posting articles the past couple days about Title I funding from the feds, I’ve received many questions about how these funds can be allocated.  There is no simple answer as the below document from the Delaware Department of Education will show.  This must be an accountant or auditor’s worst nightmare, trying to keep up with district budgets!

In addition, the formula was definitely changed in the past couple years based on this email from the DOE:

Low Socio-Economic Status (SES)

As many of you are aware, the USDA has made changes to the School Nutrition Programs. Most recently is the introduction of Community Eligibility.

In the past, the school nutrition program meal benefit eligibility forms have been the source data for low income determination.  As you may remember, in March 2013 we told you that we would be moving to the DHSS Alternative Poverty (SNAP, TANF or Medicaid) measure for low socio economic status for 2013-14.  Over the past year, we continued to get guidance from USDA and USED regarding these programs and application to other programs.

Based on this new information, the state will move to a standardized low socio-economic status measure. The new measure is Direct Certification or Direct Cert.  This measure includes SNAP or TANF and does not include Medicaid.  We strongly believe this is the purest measure of low socio economic status.  In addition, the sharing of student level data is allowable for specific purposes.  With Medicaid, there are potential issues of HIPPA.

The new low income indicator is defined to be:
A student is Low-SES if any one of the following two indicator is yes:
o  TANF (Public assistance)
o  SNAP (Food stamp)

For purposes of eSchool, the new indicator will be named: Low-Income.  This is to distinguish from Low-SES that is used for the past four years.  A separate data column in eSchool will be created for the new indicator.  It will be co-existence with LOW-SES for the past years so that historical low-SES data will not be interrupted.

The new indicator will APPLY TO 2013-2014 DATA AND BEYOND starting from Fall 2013 DCAS reporting and all federal and state reporting including EDEN and school profiles.  We may have instances where we will do a look-back with the Direct Certification data for trend purposes.

Districts are still able to use a different measure of poverty when distributing funds and providing services to their schools.  The DDOE will not be collecting free and reduced lunch price information in the future, unless legislatively mandated to do so.  If you do collect information through another means, you will be expected to secure those data appropriately. 

We know we have reports online and published that have a different methodologies for low SES.  Our plan is to highlight the change in methodology on these reports, and to be clear on any reports to you, which method of low SES we are using or had been used.

This email was sent to school leaders on May 30th, 2014…

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.

 

Which Schools Will Become Priority Schools For 2015-2016? The List Of Contenders…

The below email between employees at the Delaware Department of Education from June 21st, 2014, shows what criteria was used for picking the priority schools.  Five of the six priority schools chosen for 2014-2015 are in here, and I would have to assume some of these schools would be removed from the list based on their removal from partnership zone status earlier this year.  I have bolded the ones that are currently priority schools or are no longer turn-around schools.  Why isn’t Shortlidge on this list?

Even more interesting is some of the former partnership schools that were NOT on this list, but the reasons for that are clearly spelled out in the criteria.  What is truly bizarre is the addition of charter schools.  Especially the one that was closed a year and a half prior to this email.  Moyer and Reach have already been ordered to shut down by the end of this current school year, so my guess would be charters are no longer a part of this program since they are already subject to their own performance framework.

The press release they talk about in the email would most likely have been the one from May, 2014 on the new child nutrition “free lunch” program.  There is a DOE website in the press release for all the schools that qualified for the prior program.

Fri 6/20/2014 8:54 AM

Rivello Angeline

Found the list of schools

To   Cannon Tasha <tasha.cannon@doe.k12.de.us>

cc    Adkins Ruth E. <ruth.adkins@doe.k12.de.us>

Tasha,

I found the list in the press release.  It also explains at the bottom how they were selected.  Let me know if you have questions.  Trying to do clean up before vaca week next week. 🙂 

Eligible Schools

The initiative’s eligible schools for the next two years are:

· Brandywine School District’s Harlan Elementary

· Cape Henlopen School District’s Brittingham Elementary

· Capital School District’s South Dover, Towne Point and East Dover elementary schools and Dover High

· Christina School District’s Christiana High, Brookside Elementary, Bayard Middle, Elbert-Palmer Elementary, Pulaski Elementary, Oberle Elementary, Glasgow High, Stubbs Elementary and Bancroft Elementary

· Colonial School District’s McCullough Middle, Colwyck Elementary, Castle Hills Elementary, Downie Elementary and Eisenberg Elementary

· Indian River School District’s Georgetown, North Georgetown, and Clayton elementary schools

· Laurel School District’s Laurel Middle

· Red Clay Consolidated School District’s Warner Elementary, Highlands Elementary, A.I. duPont Middle, Mote Elementary, Richardson Park Elementary, Baltz Elementary, Lewis Elementary, Marbrook Elementary and Stanton Middle

· Seaford School District’s West Seaford and Blades elementary schools

· New Castle County Vo-Tech School District’s Howard High School of Technology

· Charter schools: Positive Outcomes, Thomas Edison, EastSide, Prestige, Academy of Dover, Family Foundations, Delaware College Preparatory Academy, Kuumba Academy, Pencader, Moyer and Reach

Delaware Department of Education chose the eligible schools, which have at least 100 students, based upon the following criteria:

· A school’s inclusion in the state’s Partnership Zone

  • A school’s appearance in the “Top 15 schools” in at least two of the following three categories: highest percentages of minority students, highest percentages of low-income students (students on free- and reduced-price lunches), and highest percentages of English language learners.
  • In addition, schools could be eligible if they have at least 75 percent of their students in any one of the three above categories.

 Angeline A. Willen Rivello

Director, Teacher & Administrator Quality 

Teacher & Leader Effectiveness Unit

Delaware Department of Education

Collette Education Resource Center

35 Commerce Way, Suite 1

Dover, DE 19904

302.857.3388 (T)  302.739.1777 (F)

angeline.rivello@doe.k12.de.us

 

Into The Wild: The Special Needs Kids of Delaware’s Priority Schools @KilroysDelaware @ed_in_de @delawareonline #netde #eduDE

People have asked me why I care about the priority schools all the way up in Wilmington when I live in Dover.  My reply is we should all care.  Not only because what the state and the DOE are doing is fundamentally wrong, but also because if it can happen there it can happen anywhere in our state if we don’t make a stand.  I am also very concerned about what happens with all of the students with disabilities who receive special education services.

Here are the facts: If the Red Clay and Christina school districts do not sign the MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) by September 30th, the Delaware DOE will take them over.  This is no secret.  All indications are leading to the school district boards refusing to do so.  Rumors, although unsubstantiated, indicate these six schools would become charter schools.

For the September 30th, 2013 count, the six schools had the following special education populations:

Bancrof, Christina 14.7% 61 out of 206
Bayard, Christina 19.0%  88 out of 463
Warner, Red Clay 15.4% 101 out of 541
Shortlidge, Red Clay 14.0% 45 out of 317
Stubbs, Christina 9.5% 31 out of 325
Highlands, Red Clay 11.5% 32 out of 350

In comparison, the “great” charter schools Markell referred to had the following special ed populations:

East Side Charter 15.1% 61 out of 403 (students with Special Education did not score proficient in scoring)
Kuumba Academy 5.7% 17 out of 298 (not enough students to even count in the proficiency figures)

So what happens to these 358 special education students?

358 childen with IEPs and special education services may be transferred to new charter schools. As a whole, Delaware charter schools have been notorious for not being able to adequately handle special education correctly. Very few even accept the most severely complex students with disabilities.

Taking away the potential legal hurdles that may come up for the DOE, such as union contracts, ownership of the school buildings, and other litigation that may come up, say these students go to a new charter school. Since it is essentially a transfer, an IEP would have to be reviewed. Governor Markell has already said these schools will be put through a rigorous process to get the students to proficiency status. He announced after school activities for tutoring and to get students back on track. Children with special needs often have enough problems getting through a regular school day. To add longer time to the day will be a severe burden for these kids.

The “rigor” of common core will be put to the test with special needs children at these new schools. I have a theory that out of these six schools, one of the new charters will focus solely on all of these displaced students with IEPs. This would eliminate inclusion and the least restricted environment. It would also allow the other five schools proficiency scores to automatically rise on standardized testing since the “specials” are no longer part of the equation. This is not about “closing the gaps” as the DOE, Secretary of Education Mark Murphy and Governor Markell have stated. Even more far reaching is the belief from many that the DOE will grandstand these achievements, and try to have even more reach across the state with this experiment.

If this is true, every single special needs parent in Delaware needs to be very concerned. Our children will be segregated from “normal” children and a free appropriate public education will become a joke. Even worse, for these special needs children at the priority schools, this will become a TRIPLE SEGREGATION: special needs, low income and minorities. This sinister agenda is happening right before our very eyes and we need to unite. If I were any parent of special needs children at these six schools, you need to speak now. You need to organize into a group and come down to Dover, straight to the DOE office, to the Governor’s office, and anywhere your collected voice can carry weight. Demand that Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy resign or call for his termination. You need to write to the newspapers, the blogs, and contact TV and radio stations. Call AND email your elected officials: State House Representatives and Senators. Let our US Senator and House Representative representing Delaware know your complaints. Contact the US Department of Education. Let President Obama know. Contact the Office of Civil Rights. You need to picket where it will be noticed.

The IEP Task Force has their next meeting on Tuesday, September 23rd, at 4:30 pm. There are two locations: The Carvel Building in Wilmington and The Collette Center in Dover. If you are working, ask to leave early. Bring your children with you. Tell the task force your fears. Let them know you are not okay with this.

In ten days, by October 1st, you may not have any more options. This is short notice, but your children will be severely affected by this. There is no time to wait. If you have any doubt in your mind, you need to do this now. Because once it happens, you will live with regret that you didn’t speak up sooner.

 

What The Hell Markell? DE DOE To Meet In Secret Meeting With Red Clay & Christina Supers, Board and Elected Officials Banned From Attending! #netde #eduDE @BadassTeachersA @delawareonline

Later today, the superintendents are having a top-secret, non-public meeting at the Delaware DOE.  This is in regards to the priority schools in the Christina and Red Clay Consolidated School Districts.  Board members of both districts do not appear to be happy about this at all.  The MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) concerning these schools is due by September 30th.

Six elementary schools from the districts were picked by Governor Markell last week to receive about $6 million over five years.  The problem is additional administrators will be forced upon the schools at a price tag of $160,000 each, which is above the average administrator price tag in Delaware.  When all is said and done, this really isn’t leaving the schools with much left over money each year to get the services they desperately need.

The boards of the school have been discussing what to do.  If they say no to the MOU, then there is a chance the state could take over the schools.  And many have guessed they would then become charter schools.  But who owns the buildings?  The districts.  So would the state have to buy the buildings or rent them from the districts?  And what happens with the teachers.   They have union representation, and contracts to uphold with the districts.

What becomes of the students?  These are already low income Title 1 schools.  They also have high populations of special education students.  That much chaos and upheaval is never good for a normal student, much less students with disabilities.

It remains to be seen what this meeting will be about, but some legislators aren’t happy.  From Delaware House Representative John Kowalko on Kilroy’s Delaware last night:

Although I never received an answer to the email request I made to DOE seeking an invite i will be going to this meeting tomorrow at the Carvel bldg. Despite a phone conversation I had with a DOE top staffer who had the audacity to say my attendance would be inappropriate I will be attending. Although it was difficult to suppress my anger at the thought that an “appointed” staffer would presume to tell a duly “elected” official what was appropriate or inappropriate about his or her responsibilities I will be attending. Because I represent thousands of households with thousands of children in the CSD and because I have served for eight years on the House Education committee and witnessed first-hand the debacle of the previous MOU re partnership zone schools and the Glasgow outrage, I will be attending. My obligation to all children in the state public school system, to the taxpaying families that support the school system, to my constituents, to the educators who daily fight to fulfill the needs of the children (while money has been taken and not returned to the public school system) is all of the justification I’ll ever need to know it is appropriate for me to attend. It is my sworn duty and obligation to question and challenge the non-educator salesmen who contrive solutions that have no basis in data accumulated effectiveness and fail to address the obvious needs of an impoverished America forced to live on handouts rather than face the reality of poverty driven failures in public education. It is my sworn obligation to look into the eyes of the RODELS and VISION 2015…2021 et.al. and their solicitors and messengers who would rather control the dialogue and set the stage and sell the tickets to an audience that is best kept in the dark. Yes I will attend and it is absolutely appropriate that I do.
State Representative John Kowalko (25th District)

Damn!  That is one pissed off elected official.  And he has every right to be.  This situation is escalating very fast, and it sounds like the districts are being pitted with the boards on one side and the superintendents on the other.  The boards do have other options, and this could become very ugly.

Nancy Willing of Delaware Way blog fame has an excellent post on this: http://delawareway.blogspot.com/2014/09/are-markell-and-ddoe-holding-up-our.html