The Test Made For White Kids, Not Black Kids

I get it now.  A few months ago I was discussing parent opt out with an African-American friend of mine.  He explained to me that African-American students don’t do well on standardized tests because they’re written for white kids.  I disagreed with him.  I couldn’t grasp what was right before my eyes.

The Smarter Balanced Assessment was made for white kids.  Civil rights groups, usually backed by the Gates Foundation and other corporate education reformers, claim high-stakes standardized tests are important.  They say they need to understand where African-American students rank compared to their peers.  This only perpetuates the myth that these tests are necessary.  These groups vehemently opposed parents opting out of these tests because they claimed it would only continue pathways to discrimination.  Instead, the reality is staring them right in the face.  Standardized tests do show achievement gaps.  But not because they offer any solutions on how to close those gaps, but because they were written for a specific audience.

These tests fail to understand different minorities or cultures.  They were created from a white culture perspective.  They ask students to push themselves based on standards that don’t address poverty, low-income, special needs, violent environments, discrimination, segregation, or equity.  Even for white students, many who also deal with issues of low-income in our country, don’t perform well on these tests unless they are from more affluent areas.

DECharterAfrAmerVsSBACProf

Charter Schools were supposed to be the savior of education.  They were supposed to offer unique new ways of educating students and be models of innovation.  Instead, at least in Delaware, they have served as incubators of discrimination, segregation, and racism.  We can’t ignore this fact any longer.  We have to address this as a state, head-on.

DESchoolDistrAfrAmerVsSBACProf2016

In all likelihood, our charters are merely copying what happens in our regular districts.  We see that African-Americans in our traditional school districts do not fare any better on these tests.  Charter schools and districts with higher populations of white students do better on standardized tests.  This fact hasn’t escaped those who create these tests.  They know this.  Our politicians and education leaders know this as well.  This story isn’t new, nor is it shocking.  They have known this ever since standardized tests came about.  But we expect African-Americans to perform the same as their white peers.  If they don’t, our governments will label and shame the schools and teachers that administer these tests.  Why?  What is the point?

Education improvement programs make lots of money.  If a school isn’t converted into a charter under the accountability schemes brought to you by Education Inc., you better believe some company out there stands to make a tidy profit off “fixing” the “problem”.  In Delaware alone, a company called Mass Insight was paid $2.5 million dollars to help out six “priority schools”.  All inner-city schools with, you guessed it, very high populations of African-American students.

Delaware Governor Jack Markell said the Smarter Balanced Assessment is the best test Delaware ever made.  If that is true, then it shows Delaware to be a very racist state because we allow this to continue.  Our Department of Education can throw out statistics and graphs until we are blue in the face, but the true facts are above, and in the article I did on low-income populations and Smarter Balanced proficiency.  I have no doubt students will gradually do better on these tests.  But not enough to give them the education they deserve.  Not enough for African-Americans to catch up to their Caucasian peers.  This isn’t defeat.  This isn’t accepting a status quo.  This is reality.  A test solely designed for one pre-dominant culture under the assumption that other sub-groups will catch-up is always destined for eventual failure.  Do we call that now?  Or do our policy-makers only look at the cost of the test and not the cost to the children of their state?

For parents of African-American students: How many pictures that show the same thing do you need to see?  Why are you continuing to let your children take a test that forces them to work harder to live to a different ideal and culture?  I’ve seen some of you point out that your children have predominantly white teachers.  If our schools and teachers are judged on a test that is written for white kids, and a white teacher is teaching a majority of African-American kids in a classroom, what do you think the results are going to show?  This test serves a dual purpose: to keep African-Americans down and to push those unionized white teachers out of public education.  If you want more African-American teachers in the future, how will today’s African-American youth even feel inspired to go into education when they are constantly told they are failures based on these tests?  These same tests that will eventually break down and morph into end of chapter tests, taken by students multiple times throughout the year.  This is not about helping students to become “college and career ready”.  It is an elaborate and long-term tracking system.  Think about it, and opt out until those in power change these pictures.  Look at those in your community who want this.  Follow the money.  Who are they speaking for?  Corporations or children?

DOE Recognizes Delusionary Growth In Ceremony For Non-Priority Schools

This is interesting.  Priority schools get a press conference in front of Warner Elementary School with the Governor and legislators in attendance.  The citizens of Delaware are told these schools are failing, for all to see.  Recognition schools get a party, on a secure Air Force base in Dover.  Ten of them get $8,000 each to do with what they will.  Priority schools get over $5 million, divided by the six of them, to send Wilmington into a tailspin.  Six are shamed and eleven are honored.  They are all Title I schools, but some get favor while others get false labels.  One is open for the world to see while the other is closed.  Priority demands a chunk of the money goes to a company called Mass Insight while the rewarded ones can form a voluntary committee to allocate the funds.  Priority gives teachers stress and frustration while reward gets banner and a shiny headline.  Priority gets a picture of failure and recognition gets a picture with Secretary Godowsky.

From the DOE press release to the media:

 

Media Advisory       *Please note RSVP deadline below*


Contact Alison May (302) 735-4006

REWARD, RECOGNITION SCHOOLS TO BE HONORED


Secretary of Education Steven Godowsky — joined by principals, superintendents, educators, parents and students — will honor the 2015 Reward and Recognition School award winners during an event at 1 p.m., Friday, Feb. 19 at  Dover Air Force Base Middle School, 3100 Hawthorne Drive, Dover.


These awards, created by legislation passed by the Delaware General Assembly in 2009, formerly were called Academic Achievement Awards. They recognize schools for closing the achievement gap and/or showing exceptional growth on state tests for two or more consecutive years.

 

This year, there are two Reward and 10 Recognition schools that will receive $8,000 each. Additionally, there is one School of Continued Excellence that will be recognized. There is no monetary award with this honor. Each county is represented among the winners.

 

Reward schools are Title I schools identified for being either highest performing or high progress.  Recognition schools are chosen for exceptional performance and/or closing the achievement gap.  The School of Continued Excellence is a school that has received a state award during 2014 and continues to qualify for Reward or Recognition distinction in 2015. It is designated a School of Continued Excellence to recognize its sustained accomplishments.

 

As in years past, each school will appoint a committee (with administration, teacher, support staff and parent representation) to determine how the award will be used. All schools’ representatives will receive banners and will have pictures taken with Secretary Godowsky.

Because Dover Air Force Base Middle School is located on a secured military facility, the state must submit information about all those attending the event in advance so visitors can receive security clearance. Journalists planning to cover this event should RSVP with their names (as it appears on his or her driver’s license), driver license number (please note state if not Delaware) and date of birth to Alison.May@doe.k12.de.us no later than 8 a.m on Thursday, Feb. 11.

 

Dover Air Force Base Middle School (3100 Hawthorne Drive; Dover, DE 19901) is accessed by Del. 1, exit 93. (This is south of the Del. 1 and Rt. 10 intersection.) After taking Del.- 1 exit 93, proceed west toward Base Housing on Old Lebanon Road. There will be a security guard gate. Continue on Old Lebanon Road. Make a right (north) on Hawthorne Drive. The school will be immediately on your left (west).

DOE Can’t Pay Red Clay Priority Schools Money But They Can Pay Mass Insight Almost $2.5 Million Dollars?

Earlier in the summer, I received a letter sent from the Red Clay Consolidated School District to the Delaware Department of Education and Secretary of Education Mark Murphy.  Red Clay was upset because they were not being given the promised amount designated to them for the priority schools.  The DOE responded shortly after, and I published both of them.  I have heard the situation has been resolved, but nothing has been made public.  In fact, I stumbled across an email from the DOE to Red Clay from last November strongly suggesting they would be sending $750,000 a year to each of the Red Clay priority schools.  But the bottom line for each school in Red Clay is around $366,000.00.

So where did all that “promised” funding go?  The way I see it, each priority school is short about $400,000 a year.  There are six priority schools.  That adds up to about $2.4 million dollars.  I wonder where oh where the DOE could have allocated that money too…If Red Clay somehow compromised with the DOE, I have yet to know about it.  But I ran across this little bit of information today.  The Delaware DOE is paying a company called Mass Insight $2,445,000.00 for three years worth of work with “turnaround school support”.  The contract for this disappeared on the state contract website for a little while, but it’s back now.  What’s interesting is the last time I looked there were only 3 bidders for the project when it was still up for bids.  By the time all was said and done, there were 13 bidders, and the last was Mass Insight and they got the contract.  Nothing suspicious three….

To see this whole saga play out, check out the original RFP for the School Turnaround contract….

And then take a look at the bidders.  It’s like a who’s who of education reform companies in that bunch!

Last, but definitely not least, the awarded contract letter.  Sent to the very last bidder at the last minute I’m sure!

Now if the name Mass Insight sounds familiar, that’s because DOE used them back in 2010 and 2011 when they first started labeling turnaround schools.  Back then they called them partnership zone schools, or PZ for short.  Mass Insight was controversial then, so much so that someone started a blog called Mass Inciter.  It was short-lived but you can still go to it if you Google them.

The DOE and their magic math.  They have Governor Markell and Coach Murphy make a big grandstand on the steps of Warner Elementary School a year ago and publicly name these six “failing” schools.  Emails I posted in a series of articles last Spring showed how the DOE had no clue about how to get “those schools”, so they worked like mad for over a month coming up with the exact formula to get them labeled as “priority schools”.  Jack gave his big speech, and promised $5 million dollars to six schools.  He never told us half of those funds were going to an outside vendor!  That’s just like the DOE and Markell.  Screw over the schools that need resources the most but make the districts feel like crap if they don’t comply.

So while the DOE spends $2.445 million dollars over the next three years, and that’s just on THIS contract, and these schools don’t get the funds they were promised, who can we blame then?  Jack will be gone.  Coach will be gone.  You can’t blame Godowsky, he wasn’t there when this went down.  Will a new Governor keep the whacky regime heading the different areas at DOE now? I doubt it.  You can only play pin the tail on Penny Schwinn so much, but she answers to someone.  But Mass Insight will still get their cash cause the State of Delaware signed a contract with them.  And we can’t waste the money, so let’s just spend it!

The legislators need to, pardon my French, get their heads out of their asses and actually get this DOE under control. Lord knows what kind of damage they can do in the next 16 months!  I’m getting tired of being the ONLY one finding out this information.  The legislators should be all over the DOE, but they aren’t.  The ones that do question the DOE get shunned by their own party!  This is Jack’s world, and us little peons are just living in it.  There must be something that can be done… oh yeah, there is and I’m about to do it!