It’s not often NBC Channel 10 from Philadelphia comes to a Delaware State Board of Education meeting, but this happened yesterday after the Parent Strike press conference outside Legislative Hall in Dover. You can watch the video here and see reporter Tim Furlong cover the events.
Believe in parents because we know what is best for our children!
Believe in parents because we know what is best for our
Believe in parents because we know what is best for
Believe in parents because we know what is best
Believe in parents because we know what is
Believe in parents because we know what
Believe in parents because we know
Believe in parents because we
Believe in parents because
Believe in parents
Believe we can make a difference!
Believe we can make a
Believe we can make
Believe we can
Believe we will fight for our children!
Believe we will fight for our
Believe we will fight for
Believe we will fight
Believe we will
Believe your child is just data to the DOE
Believe your child is just data to the
Believe your child is just data to
Believe your child is just data
Believe your child is just
Believe your child is
Believe your child
Believe the DOE knows nothing about individuals and creativity
Believe the DOE knows nothing about individuals and
Believe the DOE knows nothing about individuals
Believe the DOE knows nothing about
Believe the DOE knows nothing
Believe the DOE knows
Believe the DOE
Believe and refuse the test for your child
Believe and refuse the test for your
Believe and refuse the test for
Believe and refuse the test
Believe and refuse the
Believe and refuse
LET’S MAKE SOME NOISE!!!!!!!
Delaware Governor Jack Markell is in Germany this week initiating trade agreements with companies. Meanwhile, Delaware education has A LOT going on this week. Most important is the State Board of Education meeting on Thursday, September 17th. But other big events are happening as well. Today, the State Board of Education is having a retreat at the Duncan Center in Dover, tomorrow the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission meets for their regular meeting at William Penn High School in New Castle, and the Vision Coalition is formally announcing their next “big thing” on Wednesday at 10am at Del Tech in Dover. Oh yeah, there is also the whole Parent Strike REFUSE THE TEST event on Thursday, with a press conference in front of Legislative Hall at 12:30pm. And starting on Wednesday, the Delaware Department of Education will start mailing individual Smarter Balanced Assessment results to parents across the state.
With all this going on, I would probably skip town too Jack! 😉 But I’m sure this was scheduled way in advance. The fallout from decisions made this week, and in the next few months, could change the education landscape in Delaware for a long time. Will the DOE and State Board of Education change or will they be forced to? How much will it cost Delaware taxpayers to redistrict Wilmington? Will parent rage over the Smarter Balanced Assessment be enough to make an impact?
Here is a list of all things education this week:
Today, Monday September 14th:
Delaware State Board of Education Retreat, Outlook at the Duncan Center in Dover, 9:00am-5:00pm
Delaware STEM Council Quarterly Meeting, Dept. of Natural Resources Office, Lewes DE, 4:00-6:00pm
SCR 22 Educational Technology Task Force Meeting, DOE Townshend Bldg., Cabinet Room, 4:30-7:00pm
Red Clay Community Financial Review Meeting, Brandywine Springs Teacher’s Lounge, 6:30pm
Tomorrow, Tuesday September 15th
WEIC Funding Student Success Committee, William Penn H.S., Newcastle, 2:00-4:00pm
Wilmington Education Improvement Commission (WEIC), Regular Meeting, William Penn H.S. in Newcastle, 4:00-6:00pm
DPAS-II Advisory Sub-Committee Meeting, DOE Townshend Bldg., Cabinet Room, 4:30-6:30pm
WEIC Parent, Educator, & Community Engagement Committee, William Penn H.S. in Newcastle, 6:15pm
Christina School District Citizens Budget Oversight Committee Meeting, Gauger-Cobbs M.S., Newark, 6:30-8:30pm
Wednesday September 16th
Vision Coalition Student Success 2025 Launch, Del-Tech, Dover, 10am-12noon
Red Clay Consolidated School District Board of Education Meeting, Warner Elementary School, Wilmington, 7:00pm
Capital School District Board of Education Meeting, District Office, Dover, 7:30pm
Delaware DOE begins mailing individual results on Smarter Balanced Assessment to parents
Thursday, September 17th
Accountability Framework Working Group Meeting, John Collette Education Resource Center, Dover, 8:30am *no announcement of this meeting anywhere, is not a public meeting although it should be.
Parent Strike Press Conference, outside of Legislative Hall, Dover, 12:30pm
State Board of Education Meeting, Townshend Bldg, Dover, Cabinet Room, 1:00-5:30pm
Student Data Privacy Task Force, Carvel State Office Bldg,, 5th Floor, Wilmington, 2:00-4:00pm
Christina School District Board of Education Meeting, Sarah Pyle Academy, Wilmington, 6:30pm-8:30pm
Some parents start to get Smarter Balanced results in the mail, collective scream begins to emerge in Delaware
Friday, September 18th
More parents get SBAC results, the scream gets louder
These are the questions Delaware parents have been asking me for the past five days, and it is time for some answers. Parent Strike is a national effort on September 17th, coordinated with Constitution Day, whereby parents across America attempt to stop the insanity that has become public education.
What Is So Bad About Public Education?
- The high-stakes testing environment which has culminated in the Smarter Balanced Assessment
- The lost school-time based on test prep and interim assessments
- The penalties to schools and teachers over low-scores in our high-needs schools
- The hundreds of millions of dollars that have gone to outside companies instead of into our schools
- The extreme amount of interference from companies without educators who think they know how to “fix” education
- The lack of transparency from the State of Delaware with the Smarter Balanced Assessment
- Regulations inserted into code without any legislative input by the State Board of Education
- The very structure of the Smarter Balanced Assessment
- American Institutes for Research as the testing vendor for Smarter Balanced
- Classroom sizes that are way too big and even the most advantaged children are not able to learn
- Schools with low demographics of sub-groups being labeled as “Recognition” or “Reward” schools
- Schools with high demographics of sub-groups being labeled as “Focus” or “Priority” schools
- The lack of true stakeholder input in the creation of standardized assessments
- The complete and utter disregard by Governor Markell in failing to listen to parents and the legislators of Delaware with his veto of House Bill 50
- The continued bullying and intimidation of parents by districts or charter schools when they give an opt-out letter
- The charter schools even giving a hint that students may not get a spot or won’t be able to keep their spot over opt-out
- The Common Core implementation and many disturbing aspects in it that have nothing to do with education
- The lack of oversight over special education in our schools and listening to parents
- Regulation 103 and it’s punitive measures against students, teachers, schools, and communities
How Can I Help?
- Write a Refuse The Test letter to your child’s school advising them your child will not take the Smarter Balanced Assessment during this school year and you expect your child to have an education while other students are testing and hand it to the administrator of the school first thing in the morning
- Attend a press conference outside Legislative Hall in Dover at 12:30 pm and go to the State Board of Education meeting at 1pm and give public comment about your opposition to Regulation 103
- Talk with other parents at your child’s school about opt-out if they are not aware of it
- Wear a red shirt as a symbol of protest for Parent Strike
- Drop off flyers everywhere you go with a print-out of these bullet points
- Paint REFUSE THE TEST on your car (with temporary paint)
- Use stealth guerilla tactics: Put sticky notes everywhere (bathroom stalls, school supplies, in cereal and toy aisles at stores, anywhere you can think of) with REFUSE THE TEST written on it
- Thank your child’s teacher for all they do and that you are willing to fight for them
- Help a parent write a REFUSE THE TEST letter
- On the night before, use sidewalk chalk on pathways parents use to walk their children to school
- Whatever you can think of to legally spread the message
What If I Can’t Come To Dover?
- You aren’t required to come, but all are welcome and a larger crowd always sends a larger message
- You can write letters to the editor of your local paper
- You can go to your local board meeting and give public comment about opt-out and your thoughts about what is going on with education
- Plan an event for a future date to gather parents in your district to discuss what is going on with pubic education
- Email your State Representative, State Senator, Congressmen, Governor Markell, the Delaware Department of Education and the State Board of Education
- You can read all about it with hashtag #parentstrike on Twitter and the Parent Strike Facebook page and see what others in Delaware and the USA are doing
I’m going to tell a story. The first time I went to a public meeting knowing I would give public comment, I was scared out of my mind. I didn’t believe my voice could make a difference. It was the State Board of Education meeting in April 2014. Since then, I have spoken at several events. I’ve reached out to fellow citizens across the state, from Wilmington to Rehoboth, and answered questions to the best of my ability. I’ve educated, informed, and spent a great deal of time helping other parents. But I won’t ever forget that first time, the hardest time.
The power of voice is one of the most amazing things in creation. I encourage anyone speaking publicly on something they believe in for their children to reach back to the moment your child was born. When you first looked into their eyes and vowed you would do whatever you can to protect them. Over the years, we lose some of that. It gets lost in all the noise. We may know something could be bad for our child, but other factors get in the way. We worry about the implications and overthink things to the point where we are unable to act. Many have asked me how I can do all I do. I don’t have an easy answer for that. But I always remember that initial promise to my son. The one moment that matters most of all, born out of unconditional love.
It’s not an easy thing, being brave. It takes courage you may not think you have. It means taking yourself out of your usual comfort zone. Any advocate or activist started out this way. It’s not a matter of being practical, it’s about being radical. Too many of us see “radicals” as sign-carrying flower children from the 1960s yelling and screaming all the time or protests getting arrested. Being radical means going against the viewpoint of those you think are wrong. That’s it. There is no formula to it. I can promise you, once you start, it gets easier. I won’t say the words get easier, but it gets easier to speak them. The very best public comments I’ve ever heard are those initial ones, because they come from the heart and usually carry a great deal of emotion.
You need to ask yourself: who is going to speak for my child? Teachers can’t. Not when it comes to standardized testing and opt-out. Your friend can’t, your neighbor can’t and your child can’t. Only YOU can.
These are the groups or people that talk a lot about education and what’s best for your child but they also brought us to this point and you should take what they say with a grain of salt: Governor Markell, the Delaware Department of Education, the State Board of Education, the Rodel Foundation of Delaware, the Vision Coalition, the Delaware Business Roundtable, and the Delaware Charter Schools Network. As well, for parents of minority children, I implore you to do research. There are many civil rights groups who speak the same kind of language as the above entities. Always find the connections. For example, the Wilmington Metropolitan Urban League spoke out against opt-out claiming it would put at-risk children even further behind. As we have seen from the initial results of Smarter Balanced, the gaps widened even further than they did last year. I like to think these groups go with the governmental flow and take things at face value without doing their own research.
People will tell you that you are wrong. They will argue your points until you are blue in the face. That’s alright. Ask them how they know they are right and you are wrong. Ask them for research to support their points of view. But never, ever, just give up and throw your hands up in the air. Don’t let Governor Markell tell you what you speak out about is a recipe for the status quo. Don’t let Rodel tell you what your child needs to succeed. Listen to your heart and your own convictions.
Some will tell you I am just a rebel rouser, or a fire-starter, just looking to cause chaos due to injustices inflicted on my son in the past. They couldn’t be further from the truth. I have no vested interest whether your child is opted out or not. I don’t get paid one single solitary cent for what I do. Blog stats are just numbers that mean nothing to anyone. I believe. I believe education can and should be more than what it has become. There are far too many in power dictating every single move, and the result is a generation that will suffer immensely. Unless we stop it, and we stop it now.
Please share this post on your Facebook page, or your Twitter account, or Instagram. Email it to friends. If you believe, don’t be afraid to let others know. Any movement starts with a few voices but it can rise to a legion more powerful than anything.
Parent Strike is a coordinated effort across America to take back public education from the corporate education reformers and those who would do our children irreparable harm with state standardized assessments. In Delaware, we will be celebrating this momentous day, September 17th, with other states across our country. I invite all parents and press to attend a press conference outside Legislative Hall in Dover at 12:30pm, where I will announce the violations and complaints against Governor Markell, the Delaware Department of Education, the Delaware State Board of Education, and other entities within Delaware that have contributed to this toxic environment against our children.
If you want to make a statement during the press conference, please let me know ahead of time. I will also help parents coordinate opt-out/refuse the test for their local schools.
Following this, at 1pm, is the Delaware State Board of Education meeting across the street at the Townshend Building. I invite every single parent to attend this meeting, at least for the first half hour to forty-five minutes. After they do their roll call and approval of minutes, it opens up to Public Comment. Each speaker gets three minutes to speak on a topic. Those who give public comment are not allowed to speak on an item that is up for action that day, but there is nothing in their agenda covering standardized testing or parent opt-out or Refusing The Test.
During the State Board of Education meeting, they will announce the results of the Smarter Balanced Assessment for the different sub-groups: low-income, English language learners, students with disabilities, African-American students, Hispanic Students and Asian students. This is where we will see the very real impact of the Smarter Balanced Assessment on the most vulnerable of students. They could have announced this information last week, but they chose to hold off on it. Parents will also begin to receive their children’s official report on the test that week.
Please join in and let the unelected State Board of Education know your child is more than endless data. Let them know your child is more than a pawn in their attempts to “fix” education. Let them know their vain attempts at stifling parents is not allowed. Be loud, be a parent, and let them know you will not tolerate this madness one more minute. This is Parent Strike Delaware!