WEIC Addendum Gives Red Clay Distinct Advantages Over All School Districts In Delaware

KeyserSoze

The State Board of Education will vote on the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission redistricting plan on Thursday, February 18th.  What they are voting on will give Red Clay certain advantages over every other school district and charter school in the State of Delaware.  The plan calls for additional funding for Red Clay Consolidated and the Christina schools currently in Wilmington that would become part of Red Clay by Fiscal Year 2019.  This funding be based on a weighted funding formula to be approved by the Delaware General Assembly (of which there is no current legislation addressing this).  The weighted funding would give additional funding for English Language Learners, low-income students, and basic special education for children in Kindergarten to 3rd grade.  The money would come in FY2017.  This funding would spread out into FY2018 to the remaining schools in the Christina School District.  By FY2019, all city of Wilmington School districts and charter schools would receive this additional funding.

Hey Tony Allen and the WEIC gang: What about the rest of Delaware?  While I think it’s great you are recommending the entire state gets these funds as soon as possible, there is no crystal clear plan for that happening.  But there is certainly a plan for all of northern New Castle County.  In case you forgot, over half the students in the state exist outside this plan.  So what happens when Wilmington gets all this extra money, support and resources?  What happens to the almighty standardized test scores?  Will there be a curve for the rest of the state when Red Clay does better and then the rest of the Wilmington districts?  It will give those schools a disproportionate advantage over the rest of the state.  More funding means more teaching units in the classroom, whether it is more teachers or more paraprofessionals.  In case you haven’t checked, there are poor kids south of the Canal as well.  Kids with disabilities and many English Language Learners, especially in Sussex County.  I guess it’s okay to make them wait until FY2020 or never based on your plan.

But this goes beyond just funding, because all these organizations like the United Way of Delaware (not Wilmington) and other community service associations will be pouring support into Wilmington schools as well.  I’m not saying Wilmington doesn’t need all of this.  I’m saying ALL of Delaware does.  The problems in Wilmington schools are not necessarily unique to just Wilmington schools.  They are all over the state.  Wilmington doesn’t get to receive $22-26 million in additional funding on top of community organization support AND $3 million going to the University of Delaware over the next few years while the rest of the state watches AND pays for it.  It’s like going to a birthday party and watching someone open up all their presents.  But this birthday party will go on for three years.  And this party isn’t in Wilmington, it’s in the whole state of Delaware and we all have to pay the rent for the party while Wilmington gets all the presents.  Meanwhile, we won’t get any of those cool presents but we will be judged on the same level as if we got those presents.  And the result…

cliff_hanging

 

Tony Allen, I met with you last March.  I told you then about my concerns with Delaware special education.  I told you about the funding issues, the charter issues, and the district issues.  I told you if special education isn’t a major part of this, I can’t support it.  To date, I’m not seeing it.  I don’t see it in the plans for the next few years.  I don’t see a committee that is just about special education and how to improve it.  Even though you told me this would happen.  When Tony?  Next year?  The year after?  Or never?  That really pissed me off Tony.  You gave me your word.  That word doesn’t mean anything now.  Sorry to call you out like this, but I don’t appreciate being told something and then it doesn’t happen.

But I do see WEIC will take all the propaganda and corporate education reform lingo and throw it into their plans to appease the State Board of Education and the Governor.  WEIC swallowed the bait.  All this birth to eight crap, and birth to college.  Who do we think we’re fooling?  Wait until the Social Impact Bonds start coming out.  When students futures are hedged for the investors.  That’s what all this is about: Student Capital.

If the goal of all of this is to turn schools in Wilmington into community centers, I can’t back this.  At all.  That’s where we’re going with all this.  I feel for the kids up there.  I truly do.  My heart bleeds when I read about the murders and violence in Wilmington.  But pouring all this money into education doesn’t even address the problem.  Get the social workers out there, get the police to effectively put an end to the drug and gang problems, and get the Attorney General to clean up Wilmington.  Where are the jobs for the unemployed up there?  Where is the drive to end homelessness?  You are ignoring these crucial issues that impact education.  But what you are really doing is placing the burden on the whole state for Wilmington’s problems!  Who pays for this?  Every single taxpayer in the state.  All of us.  If it comes from the state budget, it comes from every single one of us.  But you want us to pour all this extra money into Wilmington schools while the rest of the state sits stagnant and waits?  So high-stakes testing scores can go up?  Really?  What happens if those test scores remain the same or actually go down?  Do we call all of this a failure?  What happens when the Red Clay schools show the coveted “growth” in test scores because they got more money.  It makes the schools and districts who don’t get this funding look worse.  More labeling.  More shaming.  We will prop Red Clay and the other Wilmington schools up at the expense of the rest of the state.

All of you involved with this who don’t have the guts to address the true issues here need to wake the hell up!  The biggest problem is the illusion of failure!  You are allowing the DOE and Markell to dictate the terms of success for this without realizing those terms consign every student in Delaware to their money-making Ponzi education reform buddies on Wall Street!  And those buddies are going to start betting on the outcomes.  That’s all a Social Impact Bond is: a bet.  Between a governmental unit and a company.  It’s a gamble.  Our children, all the children of Wilmington, all the children of Delaware, are pawns.  WEIC is just making sure it happens sooner than expected.

chess

Last month, WEIC got played by the State Board of Education.  It was out there for everyone to see it, in real-time.  But now WEIC is kissing the State Board’s ass!  Completely ignoring the fact they broke the law is one thing, but now you are going to play kissy-face with them?  It’s disgusting.  It’s appalling.  But I guess that’s the Delaware Way, hard at work again.  This whole thing kicked off because of two things: priority schools and charter schools.  Let’s not forget that.  Based on two things: standardized test scores and discrimination.  We can sit here and pretend it’s all about sixty years of Brown vs. the Board of Education, but the reality is simple.  It’s about the damn scores.  It’s what we measure success and failure by.  What the hell is WEIC doing to address those things?  You recommended a moratorium on new charter schools but many of them are increasing and decreasing their enrollment all over the place up there.  And nobody is saying boo about it.  Those charters are taking full advantage of this cause they know they have the full support of the State Board, DOE, and Governor Markell.  Wasn’t that the biggest thing to come out of WEAC?  And now you’re going to put all these students into a district that can’t even get an inclusion plan right?  While you ignore the cherry-picking and discrimination by two (possibly three) of the biggest offenders in the state, let alone America?  You have now become part of the problem WEIC.  My issue with WEIC isn’t that I underestimate them, it’s that I don’t trust them.  And please, change the name of your website.  These aren’t solutions for Delaware schools, these are solutions for Wilmington schools.  You aren’t fooling anyone.

To read all the latest on the WEIC plans, read below:

 

Capital’s Board Of Education’s House Bill 50 Veto Override Letter To Legislators Is Amazing!!!!!

Lindell

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs: If John or Jane have to worry about if there is going to be food on the table for dinner tonight, worry about if they will have a roof over their head, or worry about being hit by a stray bullet within their neighborhoods, the self-actualization required to succeed on these tests, or for that matter, school, is made even more difficult for these students.  This translates into schools that service large high-need populations facing a difficult climb to reach accountability targets.

I was curious why the Capital School District Board of Education did not pass an official policy on opt-out the way Christina and Red Clay did.  They were the first Delaware school board to pass a resolution honoring a parent’s right to opt their child out of high-stakes state assessments way before anyone else did, back in October 2014.  The answer to that question is included in the below letter.  It was introduced at their January meeting and will be voted on at their meeting next Wednesday, February 17th.  This is the best letter I think I’ve ever seen written about opt-out, anywhere!  And I have seen some awesome letters!  Kudos to Board President Matt Lindell, Vice-President Sean Christiansen, John Martin, Nauleen Perry, and Ralph Taylor for this letter that says more about Delaware education than anything I have seen in a long time!  Thank you!

Why We Fight

cropped-deledreformers4.png

I wrote an article over the weekend about Newark Charter School that touched on the heart of this blog. It was about a denial of the ability for parents to apply their daughter to NCS.  Their daughter happens to have a very rare disability.  Only a few people, from my viewpoint, have defended the school’s actions.  One was the head of school.  Thousands have come to the defense of the parents.  Eventually, the school heard the people and allowed the little girl into the lottery.  While she didn’t get picked in the lottery, equality was reached.  This is why we fight.

I don’t write this blog for the schools.  I write it to be a voice for parents in Delaware.  It began as a voice for my own son, but quickly spread to ALL parents.  In this article, the parents reached out to the admissions office, the school board, and the Delaware Department of Education.  In all three instances they were told NO.  The parents then reached out to a State Representative which was how I became involved.  I brought the people into this and they spoke with a loud and clear voice.  This is why we fight.

Had I contacted the school first, the article most likely would have been very different. The school could have flat-out refused to respond to me, which has happened in many situations.  They also could have reached out to the parent, spun the tale their way, and no article would have been written.  The parents wanted this information out there.  They wanted parents to be aware of what was going on at one of our most “prestigious” public schools in Delaware.  This is why we fight.

Right now, Delaware Governor Jack Markell is signing a joint resolution apologizing for slavery in Delaware. He will talk about how far we’ve come and how far we still need to go.  In the meantime, his education policies, followed by those of the US Government, have done more to cause 21st Century segregation and discrimination in Delaware schools than anything else in the past ten years.  Students with disabilities, English Language Learners, African-Americans, Hispanics, and children from low-income and poverty environments all bear the brunt of his false ideology.  This is why we fight.

I changed the header image on Exceptional Delaware this morning. In my opinion, all seventeen pictures represent the faces of education reform in Delaware.  They have ignored parents and caused most of the problems.  Whether it was through their votes, policies, agendas, manipulation, fraud, plots, schemes, lobbying, coalitions, dictatorship, coercion, money-grabs, or arrogance, they are all guilty.  This is why we fight.

Penny Schwinn. John King.  Earl Jaques.  Mark Murphy.  Jack Markell.  Greg Lavelle.  David Sokola.  Kendall Massett.  Arne Duncan.  Teri Quinn Gray.  Chris Ruszkowski.  Paul Herdman.  Donna Johnson.  Pete Schwartzkopf.  Michael Watson.  Chris Coons.  Tim Dukes.  This is why we fight.

They are the power brokers of education in Delaware. They destroy what is good and meaningful.  They believe high-stakes testing is the right thing.  Not for the good of students, but for their power.  They institute policies that give no regard to what children are.  They use them, as pawns and widgets in their laws and regulations.  They don’t believe parents have the right to voice their opinion and they view transparency as a joke.  This is why we fight.

To date, not one of them has been held accountable for their actions. Sure, they’ve had mud slung at them, but nothing has resulted in anything positive for students.  Some are new to the landscape while others have been around from the very beginning.  I’ve met some of these people, and they are very nice when it is just the two of you.  But behind the scenes, in the offices where nobody sees what really goes on, that is when the plans take shape.  This is why we fight.

Parents have the power to stop all this, but we lack the numbers. We talk about all this, or write about it, but to date we haven’t been able to stop anything they are doing.  We need to change this.  We need to fight, in unity and as a large and powerful group.  Parents did this in New York.  They forced change and it has come.  There is no reason why, in a state as small as Delaware, we can’t do the same.  Until they hear us, really hear us, we must opt our children out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  We must face those who would ignore us and make decisions about our children without any thought to the damaging consequences.  We must stop believing the lies and manipulation and force the truth out of these people.  This is why we fight.

Our children are the legacy we leave the world. They are the future.  They are tomorrow.  The forces around them will smile in front of you while planting the seeds for their control of your children.  Every single law, every single regulation, every “non-profit” event we attend… we give them power.  There are some organizations that have no choice but to comply with some of this.  They will fight, but their power is limited because of who they are.  I get that.  They are also fighting for their own survival.  I have judged these groups in the past, sometimes with humor, but most times with righteous anger.  We just need to go around them and not go through them to make change.  They are not evil, but they are in awkward positions.  This is why we fight.

Only parents can speak loud enough to make the changes necessary for our children. We are their voice in the truest sense of the word.  They need us to fight their battles for them until the time comes when they need to do the same for their children.  They can’t see what is happening.  They need us to find the truth and act on the knowledge we find.  They need us to stop what is going on in their classrooms, in their schools, and how they want to control our children outside of school.  This is why we fight.

We fight for our own children and we fight for all children. We fight for those who have neurobiological actions they cannot always control.  We fight for those who are not picked because of the color of their skin or their last name.  We fight for those who have nothing except the clothes on their back.  We fight for those who want to teach our children the best way they can but have no voice because of the fear of retribution.  We fight for equality and justice.  We fight for public education and getting rid of anything that brings profit to those who don’t belong in our schools.  We fight for our own rights, silenced by those in power because they know as a whole we can destroy what they seek to tear down.  This is why we fight.

Delaware GOP Senate Declares War On Poverty!

The Delaware Republican Minority in the Delaware Senate had some very strong words to say on the subject of poverty earlier today.

 

Taking On The Issue Of Poverty In Delaware – You Can Help!

Poverty is one of the greatest challenges of our society. Too many people go to bed at night without the basics of life – proper food, shelter and clothing. And those who have these basics, many are often insecure about whether they will have them in the future.

Delaware can no longer measure success on poverty issues simply by how many tax dollars we can spend. Success can only be measured by how many of our fellow Delawareans are lifted out of poverty and set off on a better path.

Beginning now, we are making it a priority to help Delawareans lift themselves out of poverty, and in doing so, reduce the demand for government resources. We believe we can help people improve their lives and shrink the size of government at the same time.

We are preparing to release a Republican Senate Poverty Agenda that focuses on three categories: improving skills and opportunity for workers, increasing educational options for kids in poverty, and strengthening families.

Ideas up for consideration in our agenda include:

* An increase in the Earned Income Tax Credit, rewarding Delaware’s poorest working people for sticking it out in the job market;

* Scholarship Tax Credits that encourage individuals and businesses to fund scholarships for low-income students to attend private schools;

* A resolution to call on the federal government to fund our anti-poverty programs through a “block grant with rails,” which allows decisions to be made at the level closest to the people, while protecting the integrity of the funds;

* A pro-marriage media campaign to promote the benefits of marriage for economic stability;

* A tax credit for businesses who hire apprentices and provide on-the-job training of a marketable skill; and

* Creating a commission to perform a comprehensive review of all Delaware worker training programs, seeking out best practices and ensuring that skills training for the jobs of today takes the highest priority.

This is just a portion of our agenda, and while we are proud of our ideas, we are also eager to work across the aisle on ideas that have merit. This is why many in our caucus have joined with Democratic Rep. Paul Baumbach on a bill to give a refundable tax cut to our poorest working people. And this is why we have reached out to the Governor’s office for a genuine role in his upcoming reform of our occupational licensing system, which is on our agenda as well.

While we have been researching this issue for some time now, and are confident we have ideas and a philosophy that will make a real difference, we know that the true innovators are the people of the state of Delaware. So we are sending out a Call For Ideas to address the issue of poverty in Delaware.

We invite you to submit your ideas via email to our Chief of Staff, Dave Burris, at david.burris@state.de.us. The criteria for submissions:

* Ideas must be addressable at the state level. We have little to no control over federal programs and spending.

* Ideas must not create a permanently funded government program. While government can be the impetus for change, creating layers upon layers of new programs simply puts a band-aid on the problem, and keeps people in poverty. It is not a solution. So we will accept ideas that use short-term investments of state dollars, but not permanently funded new programs.

* While we always welcome constituent ideas, the deadline for consideration in the poverty agenda is Friday, February 12th.

If your new idea is chosen to be part of our Poverty Agenda, we will credit you and you will be invited to be part of our press event when we roll out the legislation.

We thank you for helping us tackle some of the largest problems facing Delaware today. We know that together, we can solve problems and help our fellow Delawareans lift themselves out of poverty.

 

I think this is an excellent idea!  So much that I have already submitted my idea:

From: Kevin Ohlandt <kevino3670@yahoo.com>
To:
“david.burris@state.de.us” <david.burris@state.de.us>
Sent:
Tuesday, February 2, 2016 3:12 PM
Subject:
Senate GOP Poverty Agenda Call For Ideas

Mr. Burris,
I am responding to the call for ideas from the Senate GOP Poverty Agenda Call issued today.  I have a proposed idea that would solve a large controversial issue and would also generate funds for students in poverty. 
In 2013, the 147th General Assembly passed House Bill 165, a charter school reform bill.  Included in this was a stipulation that charter schools could keep any excess funds provided from the state for their transportation budget.  As an example, say Delaware Charter School budgets $150,000 for their bus transportation budget, but only spends $115,000.  Based on that law, they get to keep that $35,000 difference.  What if we did away with that loophole, and had those funds go directly to families and individuals in poverty?  This transportation fund usually averages out to an average of $1.45 million a year based on the last two years of this program.  If these funds were redistributed to families in poverty, it could be the difference between a family actually eating for a few weeks or being hungry.
Quite a few legislators stand opposed to this “slush” fund as some call it.  I am in agreement with them.  Thank you for your consideration on this matter. 
Respectfully,
Kevin Ohlandt

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.

 

 

African-American Opt-Out In Delaware, Part 1: The Lomax Factor

The next time you see a civil rights organization or leader trotting out the “Testing Is A Civil Right” rhetoric, check them out at the Gates Foundation website and see just how much payola they’re taking.

Over the past year, the question of opting your child out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment has been one of the biggest issues in Delaware.  Many parents have made the choice, despite the Governor, the Delaware Department of Education, and certain school districts and charters resisting the movement.  One group in Delaware has not made a lot of noise about opt-out though.  The African-American community.  I have often wondered why this is.  After all, history has shown a clear pattern on standardized assessments of African-Americans not performing as well as their peers.

For many, this is the heart of the problem.  Some, such as Governor Markell, feel that all children can perform well on these tests if given the right amount of rigor, instruction, and leadership in our schools.  Others feel as though the issues facing many of the children in the African-American community in our cities like Wilmington and Dover, such as crime and poverty, are harmful and transparent factors in preventing a student’s educational success.  The Governor will not accept the “status quo” but really doesn’t do much to change the environment many of these students live in.  I believe the Governor thinks education can overcome the obstacles these children face at home, but when you talk to the teachers in many of these schools they don’t see it.

When opt-out was reaching its height in the 2014-2015 school year, civil rights groups voiced strong objection to the opt-out movement.  They felt it would cause African-American students to become further behind.  Despite laws preventing schools and teachers from opting kids out, these groups were very public about their point of view.  Leading these voices was Michael Lomax, the President of the United Negro College Fund.  As opt-out becomes a major issue again with the potential override of Governor Markell’s veto of House Bill 50, the Rodel Foundation and civil rights groups in Wilmington are bringing Lomax to town to speak about education for African-Americans.

Lomax

On January 14th, from 6pm-8pm, Lomax will speak to citizens of Delaware at the Christina Cultural Arts Center (CCAC) in Wilmington.  The event is sponsored by the Parents Advocacy Council for Education, a program from the CCAC, The Metropolitan Wilmington Urban League (MWUL), and the Wilmington Education Strategies Think Tank (WESTT).  But the real kicker is the next entity behind this event, which comes directly from the flyer for it: “Made possible in part by the Rodel Foundation of Delaware”.  All of these groups were very vocal with their opposition to the opt-out movement last spring, and some even took out an ad in the News Journal right before critical Senate votes on House Bill 50.

How does Michael Lomax, the President of the United Negro Fund, feel about opt-out?  He is dead set in his beliefs this is not the right path for African-American students.  Even though several civil rights groups joined in unison last year in support of the movement, others are sticking with their guns and fighting the movement.  What is causing this radical shift in thought among different groups?

Some, such as the popular blog called Perido Street School, believe there is a direct correlation between civil rights groups fighting opt-out and how much money they receive from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.  The Gates Foundation has long been a proponent for the Common Core, standardized testing, teacher reform, and charter schools.  In fact, Lomax has written about how his grandchildren attend a charter school in Louisiana.  Last April, Lomax wrote an editorial in the New York Daily News about opt-out.

By opting out, parents do a disservice to all children, not just their own. Without an ample number of test takers, we will lose perspective on how our children are truly doing against the higher bar. This is especially important for students who need a better education the most: children of color, children from low-income families and those who require special education services or are learning English.

On its face, Lomax is absolutely right on several of his points in the article.  African-American students do have a history of not receiving equitable services compared to their Caucasian peers.  But the problem becomes what happens when those very same issues are continually brought up again and again so education consultants and vendors can profit off of the need to fix these problems.  Setting a higher bar all but ensures that there will always be proficiency gaps and attempts needed to get children to the point where they can reach this mythical end point.  The bar will always change to allow for more Wall Street intervention in our schools.

At the forefront of the civil rights groups is Michael Lomax.  He has spouted the same rhetoric about African-American students ever since he became the President of the United Negro College Fund in 2004.  In 2009, Lomax took part in a large education debate sponsored by the Philanthropy Roundtable in New York City.  Lomax made his feelings about teachers and unions very clear during his part in the debate:

The unions, superintendents, and school boards make up hundreds of hunkered-down intransigent, vigilant, resistant, inert status quo guardians guarding these gates.

He refuses to accept the possibility that the problems facing so many African-American students come from outside of the school.  He actually thinks education will bring African-American students out of poverty, as he wrote in a joint letter to the editor in the Washington Post:

Apologists for our educational failure say that we will never fix education in America until we eradicate poverty.  They have it exactly backward: We will never eradicate poverty until we fix education.  The question is whether we have the political courage to take on those who defend a status quo that serves many adults but fails many children.

For Lomax, the status quo has served him very well.  In Delaware, the figure for low-income status varies, but depending on family size, the average could be anywhere between $20-$25,000.00.  If you added the figures for 22 families at $25,000 for their annual income, Lomax would still make more.  According to that link, Lomax made $458,000 in 2014.  In 2013, with bonuses, he made $700,000.  The event in Wilmington, made possible in part by the Rodel Foundation, has their CEO making $343,000 a year.  It is very easy for these groups and “education leaders” to tell people how bad education is because it is obvious they get paid handsomely for doing so.

The United Negro College Fund received many donations from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation over the past seven years.  Over $1.5 billion dollars in donations.  As Perido Street School wrote in the top quote in this article, it would not be good for folks like Lomax to support opt-out at the risk of losing such generous sums of money.

Now it’s possible that Michael Lomax, CEO of the United Negro College Fund, would love testing and Common Core without the billion and a half+ in cash his organization has received from the Gates Foundation to fund scholarships.  But getting that kind of help from Gates sure does cut down on the time the organization has to spend fundraising and you can bet neither Lomax nor the United Negro College Fund want to lose that source of funding.  Now I dunno if somebody at the Gates Foundation called in a chit and “suggested” Lomax write his pro-testing screed or if Lomax just decided to be pro-active on his own and do it himself.  But you can bet it’s not an accident that a national civil rights organization that is receiving over a billion and a half dollars in cash from the Gates Foundation is pushing an education reform agenda that makes the Gates Foundation happy.

I have no doubt it is integral to Lomax’ financial wealth to continue to perpetuate the beliefs of the corporate education reformers.  He hangs out with some of the most vocal proponents of those who profit off the backs of students, teachers, and schools.  They are given the ability to raid state and local funding for their agendas and are given full support and approval by the United States Department of Education.  Folks like Joel Klein from Amplify, who was also brought in by Rodel to speak about education at $100 a seat last September.  The two of them helped to write the Washington Post editorial linked above.  In February, Lomax wrote an editorial for a website called Real Clear Education about the upcoming ESEA reauthorization.  This letter was written with Rahm Emanuel, the former Chief of Staff for President Obama and the current Mayor of Chicago, who is also a lightning rod for controversy these days.  In fact, Lomax is cited as one of the key people involved in the creation of state longitudinal data systems (SLDS) which are collecting a massive amount of data and personal information on students according to this article in the  Huffington Post.  These SLDS initiatives, with federal funding and massive amounts of money from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation circumvent around appropriate laws to protect student data by allowing education vendors and outside companies to see much of this data.

Does Wilmington really need another supposed trumpeter of civil rights coming to town to tell us how bad African-American students are doing in our schools and how much our teachers need to change?  If you are the Rodel Foundation and Governor Markell, the timing could not be more advantageous.  Rodel and Markell are fierce opponents of parental rights when it comes to the opt-out movement.  They do not believe parents have any rights when it comes to testing.  They would rather see parents lose sleep over making the opt-out choice and have them fight with difficult charter schools and districts than allow a law to pass that would give them protection when making a fundamental and Constitutional supported decision.  When the arguments heat up over opt-out, Rodel decides to bring a very big weapon to town.  I do not believe it is mere coincidence Lomax will be speaking on the very same day the Delaware PTA is having an opt-out rally outside Legislative Hall and State Rep. John Kowalko may bring up the override question to the Delaware House of Representatives.  This is how Rodel operates, in my opinion.  This event was just announced yesterday, the day after a very controversial article about opt-out in the News Journal.

I will be exploring the issue of opt-out, especially for African-American students in Delaware, at greater length.  But for the people going to see Mr. Lomax speak next week, I would urge all to question a few things: “Why now?”, “How much is he getting paid to speak”, “Would he feel the same way if he was making the same amount of money as the students’ families he claims to want to lift up out of poverty?”, and “Would he be willing to go to the roughest neighborhoods in Wilmington after his speech tonight and hang out with the folks on the street for a few hours?”

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

cherrypicking

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

Wilmington_Delaware_skyline

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?

Tony Allen’s TedX Video Is VERY Illuminating: “Fix Poverty, Fix Education, or Fix Nothing”

On October 15th, the Chairperson of the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission gave a TedX presentation on poverty and education.  I agree with Dr. Tony Allen on many of the things he said in this speech.  But in my opinion, this was a very harsh attack against the Colonial School District.  Whether Tony Allen was correct or not about Colonial’s standardized test claims, he used the argument to validate a district’s capabilities on a very flawed system.  Standardized tests are not a true indicator of any school’s standing as an educational institution.  There are many measurements and indicators of how good or bad a school district is and standardized testing should never be used as a measure of success or failure.  While I don’t disagree with Tony that education needs to change, especially in our current environment, using a flawed system is dangerous and further perpetuates the perception of what a failing school is.

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!

Vision Coalition & Student Success 2025 Is A Joke, All The Kiss-Asses Need To Stop The Charade #vcconf15

I’ve been following the live tweets from the Vision Coalition and their idiotic Student Success 2025 most of the morning.  I see lots of district admins, Delaware PTA reps, teachers and legislators buying into this absolute nonsense.  All you are doing is lining up the pockets of Rodel’s Dr. Paul Herdman and his corporate education reform buddies.  Enough.  You attend this event expecting some kind of miracle every year, and it is more of the same.  Endless talk with no true progress.  The NAEP scores came out today, and students did worse.  Smarter Balanced is a complete failure.  You talk and talk and do nothing about the true problems: crap like this making its way into the classroom.  All this talk about personalized learning…you have no idea what you are turning children into.  Drones for the millionaires and hedge fund managers.  And who is going to pay for all this?  Our state is facing a probable $200 million dollar deficit in the coming months, and you want to spend more money.  While funds are siphoned out of the classroom for these events?  Come on people, wake up!

If you want to do something meaningful for Delaware students, stop attending events like this.  Get in the classrooms, see what teachers really need.  See what students need.  Personalized learning is not it.  Standards-Based IEPs are not it.  You can talk about community and parent engagement all you want, but I guarantee you the bulk of the parents in this state could not give a rat’s ass about this kind of thing.  Stop trying to reinvent the wheel.  All you are doing is making clowns like Paul Herdman rich.  And trust me, he is laughing all the way to the bank.  He likes to talk about unintended consequences a lot.  You have no idea what just attending an event does to the students you like to think you represent.  If you are there for the awesome eclairs, I get it.  But if you are there to go back to your district, school, or association and fill heads up with all these great ideas, you are barking up the wrong tree.

I’m sure Jack Markell will give some rousing speech to go along with all the other bs you heard today.  Don’t forget about the students and stop going to these “all-star country club” events.  You are all culprits in the traps being set for students and teachers by merely attending.  You should be supporting a nationwide push to get outside companies the hell out of education.  You should be digging your heels in against standardized testing and all it’s punishment tactics.  Support opt-out.  Support special education.  Stop bullying.  Turn the discussion on how we can lift children out of poverty and reduce crime.  Stop with the apparent racism that exists in our state.  Stop the segregation and the tactics used to make it continue.  This isn’t education, it is a corporation.

State Board of Education: “Poverty Is Not An Excuse…It Is Not Destiny”

The Delaware State Board of Education continues to ignore the effect Poverty has on students in high needs schools in our state.  As part of their presentation on the Smarter Balanced Assessment at Grotto’s Pizza in Dover, the State Board presented a slide that said:

Poverty Is Not An Excuse…It Is Not Destiny

Once again, the State Board is using the data that helps to further their cause of convincing the state the Smarter Balanced Assessment is necessary for our children to succeed.  The biggest challenge for the State Board and the Delaware DOE is the issue of low-income and poverty.  To fight this, they are hand selecting schools that fared well on Smarter Balanced.  But do some of these schools already have extra programs that could warrant higher Smarter Balanced scores?  Yes they do.

Lewis Dual Language Elementary School (Red Clay), South Dover Elementary School (Capital), and John M. Clayton Elementary School (Indian River) are all part of Governor Markell’s World Language Immersion program for Spanish.  Booker T. Washington (Capital) houses the district’s gifted and talented program for their elementary schools.  As well, Capital only has 3rd and 4th grade in their elementary schools and no 5th grade.  Other schools cited by the DOE as “beating the odds” (my words) are Long Neck Elementary School and Georgetown Elementary School (Indian River), Town Pointe Elementary School and North Dover Elementary School (Capital), Lake Forest South and Lake Forest East Elementary Schools (Lake Forest), Banneker Elementary School (Milford), Kuumba Academy and Thomas Edison Charter School.

An important distinction to make with all of these schools is that they are elementary schools.  The DOE did not praise any middle schools in this presentation.  The tests 3rd graders take are very different than those for 8th graders.  Comparing the two is not a true indicator for why 3rd graders did better on the Smarter Balanced Assessment than their peers in 8th grade.  As well, this ignorance of poverty does not take a large portion of the poverty issue to task: the very real part that deals with addiction, violence and crime in many of these students’ homes.  All of the schools the DOE talks about are in lower Delaware with the exception of two charter schools in Wilmington.  There are no Red Clay, Christina, Colonial or Brandywine schools “beating the odds”.

As well, the State Board emphasized the Smarter Balanced Assessment is just one indicator of how our schools are doing.  Then why are measurements from the Smarter Balanced Assessment going to account for 90% of elementary and middle schools accountability ratings and 70% for high schools in the upcoming accountability system called the Delaware School Success Framework?  All the other indicators the State Board talks about, growth and resources, are tied to students doing better on this test.  Education in Delaware is now based on performance on the Smarter Balanced Assessment.

Poverty DOES matter, and there are facets of poverty Governor Markell said last March “that you and I can’t imagine“.  But it sounds like Governor Markell, the DOE, and the State Board of Education are unable to not just imagine it, they don’t have the first clue how to understand it.  Below is the entire presentation Donna Johnson, Executive Director of the State Board of Education, presented to a group comprised of mostly educators and very few parents last night.  If any of you have more knowledge about what these schools may possess that other schools don’t, please share this information in the comments section.

Delaware Students Are The Sacrificial Lamb For Penny Schwinn

Penny Schwinn is the most dangerous woman at the DOE.  I saw this firsthand yesterday at the State Board of Education retreat.  I wrote about this extensively last night.  This is a woman who pushed Red Clay and Christina to the breaking point over the priority schools last year.  She is the same person who said that violence in our most impoverished communities “isn’t necessarily a challenge to overcome” with how it affects students in the classroom.  And yesterday, she announced at a public meeting that Delaware is going to implement the most aggressive and difficult accountability plan for schools in the entire country.  And she isn’t willing to back down from this.

I’m sure nobody challenges the fact that our schools have issues in our state.  No state is perfect, and Delaware is no exception.  It’s not like we are the top-ranked state in the country where we can afford to push the bar so high for our students.  We have one of the highest per-student funding mechanisms in the country.  But our students are not advancing.  Not to the level of the DOE’s satisfaction, and certainly not to parents satisfaction either.

The elephant in the room is the test, the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  Everything is tied to this test.  I never hear the DOE or the State Board of Education EVER talk about students actual grades.  You know, the ones given by a teacher three or four times a year.  The ones that show, over a ten-week period, how our students are really doing.  Everything is in relation to the test: student growth, student proficiency, teacher effectiveness, school ratings, etc.  But if there is one thing I have learned in the past two weeks it is this: the Smarter Balanced measures schools based on labels.  In all the graphs released by this blog and Delaware Liberal in the past week, this test measures poverty and economic status.  And that is essentially it.  It recognizes the haves and the have-nots.

Regulation 103, also known as the Delaware School Success Framework, will punish schools severely over once-a-year test scores.  I truly don’t care what Penny Schwinn’s motivation is for all of this.  This is insanity at an epic level and our students will pay the most severe price for her madness.  It is past time our legislators and leaders took a step back and look at the effect all of this is having on education in Delaware.  Far too many citizens are measuring success based on one test.  It is wrong.  It is propaganda.  It is evil.  And it needs to stop.  Delaware parents, I implore you to refuse this test for your child.  It is now an essential and absolute urgency.  You hold in your hands, your voice, the ability to turn this around and get out of this toxic environment our children have been exposed to.  Please end it.  Now.

Read The Survey DOE Sent To Focus School Teachers To Prep Them For DOE Intrusion

The Delaware Department of Education is naming 10 Focus Schools (think Priority Lite) in addition to 4 Focus Schools which will become Focus Plus.  This is in addition to the 7 Priority Schools in Delaware.  And it doesn’t look like the soon-to-be-voted-on by the State Board of Education Regulation 103 will ease this plethora of schools the Delaware DOE wants to punish in the future.

As part of their prep work for the new Focus Schools, the DOE sent a survey for teachers to fill out.  They gave them a lot of time too.  They got it today and it has to be done by Monday.  Yes, I said Monday.  It is all voluntary, but I digress…

To say some of these questions are very intrusive would be an understatement.  The DOE is disturbing me on more levels than ever before.  And that’s just in the past two months.  What they are doing to education is going to have damaging effects on students, teachers, schools, parents, communities, and themselves.  It’s one thing to follow Federal mandate, but to do what they are doing is way beyond what any Federal mandates or even non-regulatory guidance suggest.  It’s like poor schools are the DOE’s lab rats and they keep wanting to change the catalysts to completely destroy them.  It is a sickening thing to report on, and I hate it.  The DOE has no concept of human dignity anymore, and it is shameful.  But what can I expect from a state agency that refers to educators as “Human Capital”.  But someone has to report this stuff so the public knows what is going on behind all the press releases they send out.  “Who watches the watchmen?”

Below is the survey sent to the teachers at these 10 Focus Schools.  Did this come from the mind of Penny Schwinn or Christopher Ruszkowski at the DOE?

* 1. Teachers at my school follow an established curriculum and appropriate pacing.

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
Disagree
Strongly Disagree

* 2. Teachers at my school routinely differentiate instruction based on data and the needs of students.

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
Disagree
Strongly Disagree

* 3. Teachers at my school have a strong understanding of the academic content standards that make-up the curriculum.

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
Disagree
Strongly Disagree

* 4. Teachers at my school are aware of effective instructional strategies to promote student engagement.

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
Disagree
Strongly Disagree

* 5. My school has a formal process or model for designing lessons.

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
Disagree
Strongly Disagree

* 6. Teachers at my school utilize various formative assessment strategies.

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
Disagree
Strongly Disagree

* 7. Student progress at my school is monitored regularly.

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
Disagree
Strongly Disagree

* 8. Individual teachers and/or teams of teaches set academic goals related to student achievement.

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
Disagree
Strongly Disagree

* 9. School or district developed benchmark assessments are effectively used at my school.

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
Disagree
Strongly Disagree

* 10. Teachers at my school review and analyze data together.

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
Disagree
Strongly Disagree

* 11. Teachers at my school have easy access (electronically or hard copy reports) to student achievement data.

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
Disagree
Strongly Disagree

* 12. I feel comfortable using data to inform my teaching practices.

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
Disagree
Strongly Disagree

* 13. There is an effective process to identify academically struggling students at my school.

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
Disagree
Strongly Disagree

* 14. Our school’s RTI or intervention system is effective.

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
Disagree
Strongly Disagree

* 15. Teachers new to my school are given an appropriate amount of support.

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
Disagree
Strongly Disagree

* 16. Our school has a difficult time getting good candidates to apply for openings at our school.

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
Disagree
Strongly Disagree

* 17. School sponsored professional development activities address my needs.

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
Disagree
Strongly Disagree

* 18. I receive feedback on my teaching practices at least once per month.

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
Disagree
Strongly Disagree

* 19. There is a process for teachers at my school to receive assistance and coaching when needed.

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
Disagree
Strongly Disagree

* 20. Our school has a functional building leadership team.

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
Disagree
Strongly Disagree

* 21. Teachers are often asked for input on school matters at my school.

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
Disagree
Strongly Disagree

* 22. My school’s most critical priorities are known by most staff.

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
Disagree
Strongly Disagree

* 23. Teachers participate in setting school-wide achievement goals each year.

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
Disagree
Strongly Disagree

* 24. This year my school has implemented effective strategies to engage parents.

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
Disagree
Strongly Disagree

* 25. I feel comfortable talking with school leaders (administrators or teachers) about instructional practices.

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
Disagree
Strongly Disagree

* 26. Our school does a good job of utilizing resources (time, money, personnel).

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
Disagree
Strongly Disagree

* 27. Established school rules are followed by students at my school.

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
Disagree
Strongly Disagree

* 28. School leaders at my school monitor student discipline data and implements effective systems to promote positive student behavior.

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
Disagree
Strongly Disagree

* 29. The teaching-learning process in my classroom is frequently made more difficult because of poor student behavior.

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
Disagree
Strongly Disagree

* 30. My school has implemented effective strategies to promote student attendance and punctuality to school.

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
Disagree
Strongly Disagree

* 31. My school has effective resources in place to support students’ social and emotional needs.

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
Disagree
Strongly Disagree

* 32. Students at my school are expected to achieve and conduct themselves at a high level, and students are recognized for doing so.

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
Disagree
Strongly Disagree

* 33. Teachers at my school believe students’ backgrounds are major barriers.

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
Disagree
Strongly Disagree

* 34. Teachers at my school often stay after school or work on weekends.

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
Disagree
Strongly Disagree

* 35. I am excited about the future of my school.

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
Disagree
Strongly Disagree

* 36. I believe most of my students are capable of pursuing post-secondary education.

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
Disagree
Strongly Disagree

* 37. Teachers at my school are committed to supporting new educational initiatives.

Strongly Agree
Agree
Unsure
Disagree
Strongly Disagree
Prev Done

Delaware State Rep. Sean Matthews Tired Of “Test And Punish” & “Cash In The Trash” Education!

Delaware State Rep. Sean Matthews has had enough!  Something I think many of us agree on!  As the Delaware DOE announced the long-awaited and much dreaded Smarter Balanced Assessment results, folks immediately started crunching the data to see what it all means.  On Delaware Liberal and Those In Favor, graphs were made showing the relationship between low-income populations in Delaware schools and the Smarter Balanced results.  These graphs were very telling, and show these high-stakes assessments are not doing any favors for low-income students.

This is what State Rep. Sean Matthews had to say about all this:

Enough already! The corporate education “reformers” keep pushing their “test and punish” agenda. It’s failed. It’s failing. It will continue to fail until we address the endemic poverty plaguing some of our students.

The millions we spend each year on standardized testing is nothing more than “cash in the trash.” If we just collected parent/guardian’s income levels, we would get the same data. There is a direct and enduring correlation between a family’s economic health and school performance.

Don’t believe me? Check out these 2 graphs. One from Red Clay School District and one from Christina School District. Keep in mind that within each district, the curriculum, teacher training and governing district polices are the same. The only major difference is the % of low-income students from school to school.

csd_sbac_pli

RedClayPovertyScores

Rep. Matthews hit the nail on the head!  None of this is about the kids.  It’s about other agendas which results in schools being labeled and punished.  We have seen this sad tale all over America, in Chicago, Philadelphia, New Orleans and New York City.  Why is it so necessary to turn public education into something it’s not?  These are the tough schools.  The ones where teachers go to, day in and day out.  They don’t have to teach in these schools, they want to.  They want to help these kids.  It’s not for a paycheck, or to have the summers off.  Their unions can’t protect them too much when a school is shut down over high-stakes testing results. They want to be, if they can, the difference in some of these students lives.  I hear so many stories from adults who came from poverty, and very often, they reference a teacher who made a difference in their lives.

When is America going to wake up and realize these kids don’t need the labels.  They don’t need companies and management organizations coming into their schools to “fix” them.  They need consistency.  They need compassion.  They need what they already have.  But the education reformers don’t think that’s enough.  They would rather test these children, all the while knowing the tests they are giving to them are designed for failure, so they can “turnaround” a school.  It all comes down to money, and it makes me sick to my stomach that anyone would use children in this manner.

Someone genuinely asked me if they should continue to send their child to a school like this or send them to a “high-performing” school.  Every time a parent makes a decision in favor of the latter, they are killing public education, one student at a time.  And that’s exactly what the reformers want.  The data in these graphs says one thing.  These tests are great for those with money and very bad for those without.  It’s not about the caliber of the school, or the teachers, it’s about the world these children live in.  The reformers can’t grasp the notion that if they spent their vast millions upon millions of dollars on actually improving communities and creating jobs, that would do far more for these children than any standardized assessment would ever do.  That would be the real reform our children need.

We keep hearing how the Delaware DOE needs this data, and that parents need it. What does it tell you?  You won’t see these graphs on the Delaware DOE website.  But they are more important than any amount of data they will ever put out.  Thank you Rep. Matthews for saying what so many of us are saying.  You have a powerful voice, and we need you to speak for a long time.

*Thank you to Delaware Liberal and Those In Favor for creating these graphs!

Smarter Balanced Results If Delaware DOE Understood Poverty Matters & Special Education Was Understood

As Delaware journalists, schools and parents dove into the Smarter Balanced data this week, Delaware Liberal and Those In Favor released two graphs. Both of them showed how low-income and Smarter Balanced results worked against each other fairly consistently in the Red Clay Consolidated and Christina School District.  Did the same hold true for charter schools?  The below information tells the tale.  As well, I went a step further and played with some different weights into what really matters in education data.

Statistically, schools with small amounts of low-income students had higher scores on the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  Those with high percentages of low-income students fared worse on the assessment.  Now if our Delaware Department of Education truly cared about factors affecting high-stakes testing, the results would be completely different.  The below chart shows all Delaware charters and their average Smarter Balanced results.  By simply adding ELA & Math and dividing by two, we see each charters average.  And this does include Positive Outcomes and Gateway for reasons which will become clear very soon.

As a guide, the following abbreviations are as follows:

LI: Low-Income

PF: Proficiency Factor (average proficiency for each school multiplied by low-income percentage)

SE: Percentage of special education students (having an IEP) at each school

PFSE: The proficiency factor multiplied by the special education percentage for each school


DELAWARE CHARTER SCHOOLS LOW-INCOME & SBAC PROFICIENCY RATES

Charter School of Wilmington- LI: 2.3% ELA: 97.5% Math: 96.3% Average: 96.9%

Newark Charter School- LI: 7.2% ELA: 93.1% Math: 84.1%, Average: 88.6%

Sussex Academy- LI: 7.8% ELA: 95.6% Math: 73.9%, Average: 84.75%

Odyssey Charter School- LI: 17.9% ELA: 77.7% Math: 69.5%, Average: 73.60%

MOT Charter School- LI: 5.9% ELA: 75.4% Math: 71.1%, Average: 73.25%

Providence Creek Academy- LI: 18.3% ELA: 66.0% Math: 43.3%, Average: 54.65%

Kuumba Academy- LI: 58.0% ELA: 44.6% Math: 39.9%, Average: 51.3%

Campus Community- LI: 38.3% ELA: 61.9% Math: 36.9%, Average: 49.4%

First State Montessori- LI: 10.0% ELA: 57.4% Math: 41.1%, Average: 49.25%

Las Americas Aspiras- LI: 25.0% ELA: 51.0% Math: 40.7%, Average: 45.85%

Delaware Military Academy- LI: 6.9% ELA: 54.0% Math: 27.6%, Average: 40.8%

Family Foundations- LI: 44.4% ELA: 36.5% Math: 28.9%, Average: 32.7%

Academy of Dover- LI: 64.8% ELA 35.7% Math 25.9%, Average: 30.8%

Thomas Edison Charter School- LI: 76.2% ELA: 33.7% Math: 20.9%, Average: 27.3%

Reach Academy- LI: 55.2% ELA: 31.2% Math: 17.0%, Average: 24.1%

East Side Charter School- LI: 77.3% ELA: 19.9% Math: 23.4%, Average: 21.65%

Prestige Academy- LI: 58.1% ELA: 17.6% Math: 13.4%, Average: 15.5%

Delaware Academy of Public Safety & Security- LI: 27.0% ELA: 20.6% Math: 7.4%, Average: 14%

Gateway Lab School- LI: 20.8% ELA: 15.4% Math: 4.8%, Average: 10.1%

Positive Outcomes- LI: 31.7% ELA: 15.7% Math: 2.0%, Average: 8.85%

Delaware College Prep- LI: 77.8% ELA: 5.8% Math: 7.5%, Average: 6.65%

Moyer- LI: 73.1% ELA: 8.3% Math: 1.4%, Average: 4.85%

Of course, the highly-praised Charter School of Wilmington is on top and the recently closed Moyer is on the bottom.  The two special education charters are near the bottom of the list as well.  These are solid numbers based on DOE website data on low-income populations and Smarter Balanced results.


DELAWARE CHARTER SCHOOL SBAC RESULTS WITH LOW-INCOME WEIGHT ADDED IN

Kuumba Academy 58.0% ELA 44.6% Math 39.9%, PF: 24.5%

Thomas Edison Charter School 76.2% ELA 33.7% Math 20.9%, PF: 20.8%

Academy of Dover 64.8% ELA 35.7% Math 25.9%, PF: 20.0%

Campus Community 38.3% ELA 61.9% Math 36.9%, PF: 18.9%

East Side Charter School 77.3% ELA 19.9% Math 23.4%, PF: 16.7%

Family Foundations 44.4% ELA 36.5% Math 28.9%, PF: 14.5%

Reach Academy 55.2% ELA 31.2% Math 17.0%, PF: 13.3%

Odyssey Charter School 17.9% ELA 77.7% Math 69.5%, PF: 13.2%

Providence Creek Academy 18.3% ELA 66.0% Math 43.3%, PF: 10.0%

Sussex Academy 7.8% ELA 95.6% Math 73.9%, PF: 6.61%

Newark Charter School 7.2% ELA 93.1% Math 84.1%, PF: 6.38%

Delaware College Prep 77.8% ELA 5.8% Math 7.5%, PF: 5.2%

First State Montessori 10.0% ELA 57.4% Math 41.1%, PF: 4.93%

MOT Charter School 5.9% ELA 75.4% Math 71.1%, PF: 4.32%

Delaware Acad. Public Safety & Security 27.0% ELA 20.6% Math 7.4%, PF: 3.78%

Moyer 73.1% ELA 8.3% Math 1.4%, PF: 3.5%

Positive Outcomes 31.7% ELA 15.7% Math 2.0%, PF: 2.8%

Delaware Military Academy 6.9% ELA 54.0% Math 27.6%, PF: 2.8%

Charter School of Wilmington 2.3% ELA 97.5% Math 96.3%, PF: 2.3%

Prestige Academy 58.1% ELA 17.6% Math 13.4%, PF: 2.2%

Gateway Lab School 20.8% ELA 15.4% Math 4.8%, PF: 2.10%

Las Americas Aspiras 25.0% ELA 51.0% Math 40.7%, PF: 1.14%

Everything changes when you factor low-income and poverty into the equation.  But is that enough?  Many of the schools with high populations of low-income students also have high populations of students with disabilities.  What if we add that to the equation?


DELAWARE CHARTER SCHOOL SBAC RESULTS WITH LOW-INCOME AND SPECIAL EDUCATION WEIGHT ADDED IN

East Side Charter School 77.3% ELA 19.9% Math 23.4%, PF: 16.7%, SE: 14.8%, PFSE: 2.4716

Academy of Dover 64.8% ELA 35.7% Math 25.9%, PF: 20.0%, SE: 11.7%, PFSE: 2.3400

Positive Outcomes 31.7% ELA 15.7% Math 2.0%, PF: 2.8%, SE: 65.9%, PFSE: 1.8452

Campus Community 38.3% ELA 61.9% Math 36.9%, PF: 18.9%, SE: 8.3%, PFSE: 1.5687

Kuumba Academy 58.0% ELA 44.6% Math 39.9%, PF: 24.5%, SE: 6.3%, PFSE: 1.5438

Thomas Edison Charter School 76.2% ELA 33.7% Math 20.9%, PF: 20.8%, SE: 7.1%, PFSE: 1.4768

Gateway Lab School 20.8% ELA 15.4% Math 4.8%, PF: 2.10%, SE: 59.9%, PFSE: 1.2579

Moyer 73.1% ELA 8.3% Math 1.4%, PF: 3.5%, SE: 29.8%, PFSE: 1.0430

Reach Academy 55.2% ELA 31.2% Math 17.0%, PF: 13.3%, SE: 6.4%, PFSE: .8512

Family Foundations 44.4% ELA 36.5% Math 28.9%, PF: 14.5%, SE: 5.3%, PFSE: .7685

Las Americas Aspiras 25.0% ELA 51.0% Math 40.7%, PF: 1.14%, SE: 5.7%, PFSE: .6498

Delaware Acad. Public Safety & Security 27.0% ELA 20.6% Math 7.4%, PF: 3.78%, SE: 16.5%, PFSE: .6237

Odyssey Charter School 17.9% ELA 77.7% Math 69.5%, PF: 13.2%, SE: 4.4%, PFSE: .5808

Providence Creek Academy 18.3% ELA 66.0% Math 43.3%, PF: 10.0%, SE: 5.1%, PFSE: .5100

Prestige Academy 58.1% ELA 17.6% Math 13.4%, PF: 2.2%, SE: 22.0%, PFSE: .4840

Newark Charter School 7.2% ELA 93.1% Math 84.1%, PF: 6.38%, SE: 5.6%, PFSE: .3573

First State Montessori 10.0% ELA 57.4% Math 41.1%, PF: 4.93%, SE: 5.4%, PFSE: .2662

MOT Charter School 5.9% ELA 75.4% Math 71.1%, PF: 4.32%, SE: 6.1%, PFSE: .2635

Sussex Academy 7.8% ELA 95.6% Math 73.9%, PF: 6.61%, SE: 3.6%, PFSE: .2380

Delaware College Prep 77.8% ELA 5.8% Math 7.5%, PF: 5.2%, SE: 2.5%, PFSE: .1300

Delaware Military Academy 6.9% ELA 54.0% Math 27.6%, PF: 2.8%, SE: 3.0%, PFSE: .0840

Charter School of Wilmington 2.3% ELA 97.5% Math 96.3%, PF: 2.3%, SE: .2%, PFSE: .0046


PRIORITY SCHOOLS

Now where all of this gets really interesting is when you start comparing this to traditional district schools.  Since it would take me forever and a day to get all of them, I thought I would start with the six priority schools announced a year ago yesterday.

Bancroft- LI: 80.5% ELA: 11.0% Math: 6.9%, PF: 13.5%, SE: 24.2%, PFSE: 3.2670

Shortlidge- LI: 81.0% ELA: 20.9%, Math: 15.7%, PF: 14.8%, SE: 14.9%, PFSE: 2.2052

Highlands- LI: 65.2% ELA: 29.5%, Math: 17.9%, PF: 15.5%, SE: 12.2%, PFSE: 1.8910

Warner- LI: 82.6% ELA: 13.4%, Math: 10.6%, PF: 9.9%, SE: 14.2%, PFSE: 1.4058

Bayard- LI: 78.2%, ELA: 9.3%, Math: 3.2%, PF: 4.9%, SE: 27.2%, PFSE: 1.3328

Stubbs- LI: 86.5% ELA: 8.1%, Math: 7.1%, PF: 6.6%, SE: 11.6%, PFSE: .7656

Bancroft would have beat ALL the charters, and even Stubbs, at the bottom of this list, would have beat  over half the other charters.  So what is the reason we are judging schools on high-stakes assessment scores when so many other factors need to be considered?  Maybe we can get a new funding program based on these calculations, but please hold the SBAC!  But seriously, as these numbers prove, our “greatest schools” aren’t so great when they don’t have high populations driving a need for additional support and services that are not coming into those schools at the rate they should be.  This is Delaware’s #1 problem, not proficiency scores on a useless once a year test. Governor Markell, poverty does matter and special education plays a huge role in the overall dynamic in Delaware education.

 

Delaware and Poverty, How Far Have We Come In Six Years?

I found this report online, and I have to wonder how far Delaware has come since the issuance of this report back in 2009.  In terms of the education part of the report, this has the corporate education reform hallmarks all over it.  This is pre-Race To The Top and Common Core in Delaware, but everything was gearing up for it, even when the Poverty Task Force started under Governor Minner back in 2007.

Are we going to reduce that poverty level by 50% in the next four years?  I hear teachers from the priority schools talk, and I hear stories that bring tears to my eyes.  It’s heartbreaking that we live in a state where this happens.  It angers me that our Governor is more concerned with implementing education initiatives that don’t tackle the problem of poverty at all.  As if rigor and assessment is the way out.

I see lots of familiar names in this report, and many I’ve never heard of.  I wasn’t really involved in education six years ago.  I see this report and wish I was.  It’s not just Wilmington where poverty exists.  I live in Dover and it is here too. It’s pretty much everywhere in our state.  I have to wonder why we “invest” millions upon millions of dollars in education with little or no results?