President Barack Obama, Arne Duncan & Delaware Governor Jack Markell Pull The Race Card Over Education

President Obama, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, and Delaware Governor Jack Markell continue to pull the issue of race into education.  Every time they talk about the proficiency gaps in low-income schools, they fail to mention the very mechanism by which these gaps are allowed to flourish: standardized assessments.  It’s a Catch-22 for a lot of folks.  If you disagree with them or their minions, you are accused of not caring about black kids.  If you agree with them, it looks like you are selling out traditional public school districts.

As Civil Rights groups speak out on the ESEA reauthorization, we already have veto threats by President Obama on either the House or Senate acts.  He has not come right out and said it, but he is given strong notions he doesn’t support either legislation.  Arne Duncan is pulling the Urban League president to support not getting rid of standardized assessments.  Delaware Governor Jack Markell openly said he “doesn’t like” a parent opt-out bill that would codify a parent’s right to opt their children out of the state standardized assessment, citing as one of his reasons that minority children would be disadvantaged.

I take great issue with even the tiniest implication that I don’t care about minorities.  As my son is a special needs student, he already is a minority just by the very nature of his rare disability.  Many of the children in the schools that need TRUE help the most, have all three: poverty, disabilities, and a minority status.

The bottom line is this: there is far too much federal and state control in education.  The result of this is students who are tested incessantly, teachers who are judged based on these test scores, and an out of control charter school industry that doesn’t play by the rules and the states and feds allow it.  By openly stating the bottom schools aren’t doing well in the environment Obama, Duncan, and many state governors created, is all the proof we need that what we have now just isn’t working.

As Smarter Balanced and PARCC scores start to trickle in from assessments given in Spring, we are seeing these great tests are no better than what came before.  It will show standardized assessments with high-stakes are not a true measurement of student’s abilities.  But it will show they need improvement, allowing more state and federal dollars to go to “consultants” who will “fix” our schools.  And the cycle does on and on, unless Congress finally steps up and does what is truly right for America’s public school students.

The first step they need to take is implementing all promised Title I and IDEA funding as originally approved.  Until they do that, nothing is going to improve for low-income, minority, and students with disabilities until they get the proper resources they need: lower classroom sizes, more special education services tailored for their individual IEPs, more education regarding these issues to educators and staff, and true educator-parent-student relationships with a collaborative effort.  It doesn’t matter what you call a curriculum or a standard, if you don’t have the basics down in terms of having an equitable school, nothing else matters.

The Recipe Behind the “Pixie Dust” at Eastside Charter: Very High Attrition Rates, Part 1

The magic of East Side Charter School is not magic, but merely a carefully crafted bit of smoke and mirrors.  It’s an illusion, not what the citizens of Delaware think it is, but the oldest trick in the book.

Last night at the Imagination Delaware forum, held at the Chase Center on the Riverfront in Wilmington, Delaware, a crowd of over 700 people listened to a panel on not only Wilmington’s education, but all of Delaware.  The forum turned into a debate about charter and traditional schools in the state with the two main members of the panel.  Mike Matthews, the President of the Red Clay Educators Association and a special education teacher at Warner Elementary School on the side of the traditional schools and Dr. Lamont Browne, the head of school of both Eastside Charter School and Family Foundations Academy.

Governor Jack Markell gave the keynote speech, and left immediately afterwards for another engagement.  He spoke about Eastside Charter School’s great job with closing proficiency gaps, and stated “they have gone from only having 15% of their 5th graders scoring proficient in reading to 66% in just three years.”  If only this were true…

I will definitely say Eastside Charter does not perform in “cherry-picking” their students.  They seem to enroll anyone who applies.  I have never heard of a lottery for this school.  They have a very high population of minorities and their special education populations are in line with the traditional school districts around them.  So what is the issue?  Continue reading

How Does A Student Get A 4 On DCAS At A Charter, Transfer To A Public School, And Can’t Read?

This is what I’ve heard about one student in the Northern part of Delaware.  This child went to a charter school that has been in the news a bit lately.  Getting the ultimate score of 4 on both English and Math on the DCAS test, this student transferred to their local school district.  Upon taking the SRI reading test, it was very quickly discovered this student cannot even read.  The worst part: this is a student with disabilities.

Apparently this student also took the DCAS with NO accommodations.  How is this even possible?  Unless…  Yes, this charter school is a cheat.  They found a way to make their scores even better for special needs students.  Their big mistake though was not doing the same for all students, and they were questioned about it.

This is why the high-stakes standardized testing game needs to be eliminated as any source of proficiency for students.  If a school can rig the game and an honest school doesn’t, it changes the entire landscape.  Especially if those with a vested interest in certain schools helped to design the test.  So while we have schools doing the right thing, and they are laid out on the floor for doing so, other schools have been cheating for years and unless they have other major problems flowing like water through a burst pipe, they get away with it.

I do believe there are honest charter schools as well.  Ones that work their ass off when they get low scores one year and only increase marginally the next but they are saved from the executioner’s axe.  But the ones that are cheating, and I know who a few of you are, you are the most vile disgusting scum in the state.  It’s not because you look better on paper.  It’s not because the DOE and Markell want to give you a ticker-tape parade when your scores are released.  It’s not because you narrowed the gap among different subgroups.  It’s because you are failing our students.  The students aren’t failures, you are.  You have been given a sacred trust, and you abuse that trust every chance you get.  These are human beings, not human capital.  They are children.  They are not to be used as pawns in your power games.

This is why we have priority schools.  This is why so many special needs children suffer so much in this state.  How can any student in any of these cheating schools ever be given a fair shot in life?  How can parents of charter school students accuse public school districts of giving free passes to students when some of these very same schools permanently damage students?  How in God’s name will any of these “proficient” students feel when they take the Smarter Balanced Assessment and fail miserably?

I encourage anyone who knows about these cheating scandals to come forward.  Cause if I expose you, it won’t be pretty.  I’m not sure why I’m assigning myself the job the DOE should be doing in the first place, but hey, that’s life.  There has to be a place in hell for anyone who would use children like this.  I think there should be legislation put forth that anyone involved in a cheating scandal like this should be prosecuted and do prison time if found guilty.  Does this sound too harsh?  Imagine how the poor student at a new school who thought they were doing good in school feels.  Being told you can’t read.  How do the parents feel?  Thinking their child is doing well only to find out it was all a lie and their child is most likely years behind their peers?  This is a rape of the mind, of the soul.