It Is Time For The Regulation 225 Opposition To Put Their Money Where Their Mouth Is!

This has been my biggest beef with the opposition of Regulation 225.  So many of those who are full-throttle opposed to it do not want the State of Delaware dictating something that could deny them their parental rights.  They don’t want schools making decisions on behalf of their children without their consent.  But they have been doing this for years!  And you have had the most powerful weapon at your disposal and have not utilized it!

Every year, the public school children of Delaware are forced to take the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  It is a worthless test that really tells you nothing about your child.  You don’t get the results until AFTER the school year is over.  It doesn’t tell you what your child’s key strengths are.  It doesn’t tell you anything.  But you allow your child to sit in front of a computer over a three-week period and take a test.  Based on Common Core which many of you can’t stand already.

If you stand for parental rights and deciding how your child should be educated, you can’t do it in small chunks.  You need to do it full throttle, in ALL aspects.  If you want to tell the state that YOU are the parent and YOU make the best decisions for your kids, do it all the way.

If you truly believe in parental rights, you will prove that by opting your child out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment which starts in a few weeks in many of our schools.  I have seen thousands of you oppose a regulation you believe is harmful.  But I can guarantee you the Smarter Balanced Assessment has been pumping out data about your own child to education companies around the country.  I can guarantee you it is a complete waste of time, money, and resources when our kids could be getting a more well-rounded education.  But you let the State do this every single year.  Some kids do bad on those kind of tests.  It doesn’t mean they need extra intervention.  Some kids ace those tests and may not get good grades.  It doesn’t mean they don’t need intervention.  Students with disabilities usually do terrible on those tests because the accommodations for them are horrible.  Three years of this test and we are expected to believe it is a good test?  The needle hasn’t moved at all.  And it is based on Common Core.

Governor Carney wants more Math coaches in our schools based on his proposed budget.  He wants those coaches in middle schools.  Do you know why?  Because the foundations of Common Core begin in the earlier grades.  And it’s been around long enough that kids who were once in elementary school are now in middle school and don’t get the math!  Our kids can’t stand Common Core math.  Parents can’t stand it.  If we need more math coaches in middle schools it is because COMMON CORE MATH DOESN’T WORK!  But every year we let the state give our kids a test on it and then the state says “our schools need help” because of the test results.  This is just one reason why I am befuddled with those who oppose Regulation 225!

You say you don’t want our schools doing this but you have ignored what they have already been doing for years.  And here is the kicker: the schools hate these tests as well.  They won’t tell you that, but they know it.  It is state and federal driven, but behind that curtain is a whole bunch of companies that are profiting off YOUR kid based on the results of these tests.  And don’t let anyone tell you we will lose all federal funding over opt out.  It hasn’t happened in any other state.  In New York and New Jersey they had more kids opt out than the entire population of Delaware.  If you want to bring sanity back to education, it starts here.  I don’t bemoan you opposing this regulation.  It is your right to oppose something you don’t want for your child.  What I do bemoan is parents not getting involved enough.  When they are ignoring what is so clearly right before their very eyes.

If you REALLY want to send a message to the Delaware Department of Education and Secretary Bunting, you should opt our child out tomorrow or today based on when you read this.  All you need to do is write a simple letter to the school:

Date: ______

Dear Principal ______, of (insert school name here),

I am opting my child, ________ __________, out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  I expect my child to attend school on the days the test is administered and receive educational instruction while the other students take the test.  I do not want a call from the Principal or any teachers telling me why I should not opt my child out.  As well, I do not want to receive any letters from the school or district based on the Delaware Department of Education template letter indicating I can not opt my child out.  Furthermore, I will not tolerate any type of retaliation or punitive action against my child over my fundamental right to opt my child out.  This type of retaliation includes, but is not exclusive to, any threat of summer school, holding them back a year, or any type of isolation activity.

Thank you for your time,

Respectfully,

_______ ____________

After you give this to the Principal of the school, as in hand-deliver it to them, have them sign an acknowledgment form that they received your opt out letter for your child.  This way they can’t say later they never got it.  It can be as simple as this:

I acknowledge that I have received an opt out letter from ______ ______, parent or guardian of ______ ________.

Date: _________

Signature: ________

When you have done this, start taking a serious look at the enormous amount of data collection already going on with your child.  Start looking at EVERYTHING and ask yourself “Is this what I want for my child?”  If the answer is no, don’t stop with opting out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  Educate yourself.  Read.  Learn.  Don’t listen to what places like the Rodel Foundation and the Delaware DOE are telling you.  Listen to what other parents and teachers at the ground level have been saying for years.  Those who of us who have been in the trenches and calling our legislators and Governors out for their totalitarian approaches to education.  Don’t believe the Delaware DOE is miraculously turning into a “support organization”.  Because that support is designed to drive up test scores on an already flawed test.  And just wait until they turn that once a year test into stealth assessments, throughout the year.  Make your move now or your child and grandchildren will deal with the long-term consequences for the rest of their lives.  This isn’t something you should hem and haw on.  You shouldn’t mull it over.  You should just do it.

 

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Controversy Erupts On Social Media Over Special Education Funding Task Force Resolution

House Concurrent Resolution #34, introduced on June 29th last year, will be on the agenda for the House Education Committee meeting tomorrow.  One line in the legislation offended many, including myself, when it was brought to my attention.

WHEREAS, special education represents a growing financial burden on school districts as the need for services increases.

I can pretty much guarantee any parent of a student with disabilities would take offense to that wording.  While it is true that special education costs have risen over the past decade, referring to those costs as a “financial burden” is not a wise choice of words.  Schools have an obligation, under both state and federal law, to provide those services regardless of cost.  Which is exactly how folks took it on social media last night.  I do not think that was the intent of the legislators who sponsored the bill.

As well, parents took offense to there only being one slot on this task force for a parent.  That seat would be determined by the Delaware PTA.  The bill has an odd mix of sponsors.  With the majority of the sponsors as Republicans, some wondered why Democrat State Senator Nicole Poore would sign on as the prime Senate sponsor.  In addition,  Democrat State Rep. Ed Osienski also signed on as a co-sponsor.

State Senator Brian Pettyjohn joined in on the conversation and doubted the resolution would appear in the Delaware Senate.

Last week, news from Texas regarding allegations against the Texas Education Agency shocked Americans everywhere.  A report said the TEA was limiting the number of special education students in The Lonestar State since 2004.  Their special education population dropped from 11% to 8% over a seven-year period even though most states saw dramatic increases in those student populations.  Many blame caps instituted by the Texas legislature on special education funding.  Which is eerily similar to the recommendations a task force like this could come out with.

While I don’t believe there was ill intent with this legislation, the optics on it could not be worse.  In conjunction with the news from Texas, a lawsuit filed by the Delaware ACLU today against the state has special education funding as part of the overall complaint with education funding.

I have been saying for years that Delaware needs to revamp how they submit payments in their state financial system.  No one follows the recommended spending codes so it is impossible to track how money is being spent.  Especially with special education.  That should be an easy problem for our legislators to fix but no one wants to take up the baton.  Not sure why.  It isn’t a change to the Delaware Constitution.  It would be a simple bill mandating our school districts and charter schools accurately code expenditures in a uniform process.  And the Delaware Department of Education would have to oversee this and implement regulations in regards to Delaware state code.  Any task force, committee, workgroup or other such thing looking at any facet of education spending is useless until this is done first.  Which legislator wants to twirl a baton?  Anyone?

Meanwhile, HCR #34 is on the agenda for tomorrow’s meeting.  Delaware State Education Association President Mike Matthews said DSEA does not support the legislation on one of the Facebook posts that came out last night.  I would hope that when legislation like this comes out that our state legislators would look at the wording of their bills or resolutions.  The people are watching them.

Why I Want Your Vote For The Capital School Board

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For those who haven’t heard, I am jumping into the fire!  Anyone reading this blog knows my stances on education.  Is it enough though?  We need change and we need it now.

These are the reasons I am running.  I will tackle each reason below.

  1. Far too many Dover residents don’t want to send their child to Capital School District.
  2. Every student needs to be treated as an individual and not a test score.
  3. Our middle schools need a lot of help.
  4. We need more fiscal transparency and accountability.
  5. Low-Income Students.
  6. The Every Student Succeeds Act.
  7. Student Data.
  8. More participation from parents in the district.
  9. Special Education.
  10. More participation in state legislative matters.
  11. Charter schools within our district.
  12. Kindergarten.
  13. Support for our teachers.
  14. Ensuring opt out of standardized testing is honored as a parental right.
  15. More focus on the arts.
  16. Perception of the district.
  17. Perception of Dover as a result of the district.
  18. Oversight of the Delaware Department of Education and the United States Department of Education.
  19. Leadership

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“Far too many Dover residents don’t want to send their child to Capital School District” Continue reading

The Coalition For Fairness & Equity In Schools Needs YOUR Help!

A new group has formed in Delaware called The Coalition for Fairness & Equity In Our Schools.  This group is looking for one thing in our schools, as per their Facebook page:

Diverse group advocating for statewide changes to discipline practices to eliminate suspensions for low-level offenses and adopt a restorative approach.

This group was convened by the American Civil Liberties Union of Delaware to help eliminate the “school to prison” pipeline coming out of many of our schools in Delaware, specifically the Wilmington schools.  You can read more about them here.

To this end, they have started a petition which can be found below, and I strongly encourage all to sign in support of this petition.  As a special needs father, I have seen first-hand what disproportionate discipline can create, and so much of what these children are exhibiting are manifestations of their disabilities.  This doesn’t mean it’s a free-for-all, but it also doesn’t mean punish whenever you want, which leads to social stigma that is very damaging for so many students with disabilities.  I have always promoted a simple mantra: work with the disabilities, not against them.  When anyone tries to fight something that is natural, it becomes stressful for all involved.  This can make a minor situation become infinitely worse.  It isn’t just about social groups for students either.  The adults have a HUGE responsibility in this as well.

I have seen multiple videos from other countries where students disabilities are celebrated, not hidden.  The classes and staff are educated on them, and this creates a much more tolerable environment for all involved: the student with disabilities, their classmates, the teachers, the staff, the admins, and the entire school.  Aside from all this, there are very specific laws regarding disproportionate punishments and manifestation determination.  In Delaware, and also under IDEA and Section 504 law, if a student is suspended more than ten times during a school year, the IEP team or 504 team must convene to determine if a behavior was a result of the disability.  A parent can also request this if they believe this to be true in a discipline situation.

What should result from this is the stakeholders involved get together, talk about the issues and behaviors, and the school psychologist should do a functional behavioral analysis.  Based on the results of this, a behavior intervention plan should be established with all parties agreeing, not just the administrators of the school.  And I would caution parents to be very careful about the wording of these BIPs as they are called.  I highly recommend knowing your child’s disability to the best of your ability, and find out what is typical or atypical behaviors associated with the disability.

When all efforts have failed, and a parent feels their efforts for their child are not being met, that is the time to take further action.  There are numerous things you can do, but one I do NOT recommend is taking that action through the Delaware Department of Education.  Their best solution seems to be “mediate” which is good, but this can also stifle your rights for your child.  Sometimes, as many special needs parents can attest to, you have to fight for your child.  The DOE methods of resolution do not have the best odds of working to your child’s benefit.  I’m sure they would disagree with me, but the bare fact that there have been NO due process hearings in Delaware for two years and a smattering of administrative complaints over a ten year period is testament to this fact.  Their way just doesn’t work.

Furthermore, the number of special education lawsuits when parents reach their wits end (not to get rich quick, that is NOT what happens with these lawsuits) has skyrocketed in Delaware over the past few years.  This is a more proven resolution method for far more parents than the DOE has ever helped over  the past decade.  In fact, many of the curriculums and specific IEPs the DOE wants (which are not part of approved federal IDEA law as brought before the U.S. Congress but resolutions and regulations tacked on by the US DOE with no Congressional approval), will wind up being more harmful to many students in the coming years as they are forced to adapt to national standards that are controversial at best, culminating in standardized assessments that on the surface purport to close the achievement gaps, but will in actuality further widen them.  This will in turn bring in more “consultants” and “non-profit companies” who need to  help these “failing” students.  All the while, teachers who don’t have the proper resources and are dealing with very large classrooms will be evaluated based on these high-stakes assessments.  This is why I don’t trust the DOE, and why any special needs parent should be very wary of them.

But back to this coalition, I am in full support of this group, and this is very needed in our state.  I just wish I had known about it sooner!  I would strongly encourage this group to take a very strong look at various disabilities and the neurobiological events that take place when so many of these “behaviors” occur, as well as the exponential increase of them when unneeded stress is placed on these students from the adults in the school.