Padua Board Of Trustees Wants Cindy Mann Reinstated NOW!

As a protest is forthcoming tomorrow in front of St. Anthony’s Catholic Church due to the termination of the much-loved and respected Head of School Cindy Mann at Padua Academy, the Board of Trustees for the school sent out a letter today regarding their opinion of the firing.  They do NOT agree with Father Nicholas Waseline’s decision yesterday.

The controversial decision, based on the firing of Mann because she would not allow Father Waseline to dip into the Padua Academy coffers, has caused a tremendous outcry from students, alumni, teachers, and even the former Head of School.

In a February news bulletin from their website, Father Waseline talks about his plan to pillage Padua’s finances to boost the parish.  But what he has done is alienate parishioners, some of whom have sworn to stop giving to the parish until Mann is reinstated:

Excellence in education is recognized as a current and ongoing reality at Padua Academy. It is, without doubt, one of the best secondary schools in the region. Padua Academy retains its identity as a Parish School, even though 97% of the students who attend, and their families, are not parishioners of St. Anthony of Padua Parish. The school is well-positioned for success – it is professionally managed, financially viable and maintains an admissions waiting list. Most of the Academy graduates attend the best colleges and universities in the country and beyond. We are grateful for Padua Academy’s accomplishments and outstanding reputation. The financial corollary of the fact that only 3% of Padua’s students are parishioners is that virtually no financial support from a majority of student families flows to the parish in terms of offertory contributions. When the significant number of Padua students were parishioners, their families were regular financial contributors to the parish. With the current demographics of today’s Padua students and families in mind, the parish has determined that a “Stewardship Assessment” of Padua revenue will be established to restore the offertory income no longer available to the parish and reconcile the value of the Padua campus within the parish portfolio of assets.

Might want to rethink this one Father Waseline!

 

What Delaware Can Learn From The Newark Charter School Students And The “Slappening” Sit-In

Last Friday, Newark Charter School students performed a “sit-in” to protest an incident which has been referred to as “The Slappening” among the student body of Newark Charter School.  200 high school students participated in the sit-in until administrators broke up the party in the cafeteria.  This is about 1/4th of their student body at their high school.  While we don’t know if the teacher was reinstated, we do know that when the majority of the people stand up for something they believe in, people take notice.  This was what I attempted to push for the opt out movement in Delaware.  If everyone opted out, then Smarter Balanced would have disappeared.  We can still do this, but not just with “Smarter” as the DOE puts it (which is ironic because it is dumber), but all standardized tests.  Whether they are once a year or embedded as “stealth test” in personalized learning technology coming soon to a school near you.  And when it comes to all that ed tech, you can opt out of that as well.  If enough parents do it, we can make ed tech irrelevant and be assured our child’s every keystroke isn’t tracked and catalogued by Education Inc. and their data is safe.  As well, this will protect the teaching profession so they don’t become glorified TFA or Relay moderators.  It’s a win-win.  No battle is ever won by sitting at the table and compromising to the point of surrender.

Wait one minute, let’s get back to “The Slappening”.  I saw many tweets which indicated the teacher was terminated after the student sit-in at Newark Charter School last Friday.  While I won’t put minors tweets on this blog, I can say one tweet was pretty definitive!  I have a very good idea of what actually happened between the teacher and the student last week and what led to “The Slappening”.  I can’t see, in that situation, where a teacher should have been terminated.  That teacher has rights.  She also has the right to due process.  Had I known about this sit-in beforehand, I would have sat in with the students as well (Yeah right, like Greg Meece would let that happen)!  But I do respect what the students did.

This has been a very bizarre year for the higher-ups at Newark Charter School.  From their insane awards based on Smarter Balanced results to the “social engineering” of their lottery last winter  to my strange discovery they are the only charter school in the state that doesn’t file IRS 990 tax returns to the district-charter funding war which has now become the charter-Christina-DOE lawsuit to “The Slappening”.  I have to wonder if a change needs to happen.  Not my place, but just putting it out there.  Many students were terrified of the sit-in and what could happen to them.  But they did it anyway.  They stood up (or sat down) to the school leaders and said stop with the madness.  Granted, what they were hoping for didn’t happen, but it did draw attention to the school through major Delaware media like the News Journal.  Even the students seemed shocked they made delawareonline.

It is 2016.  Newark Charter School is having a VERY bizarre year.  With absolutely no disrespect intended for the students or the parents, but your administrators and board have made some really strange decisions.  It’s refreshing in a weird way that NCS has lost its aura of being such a well-behaved mild-mannered gee we’re awesome school.  It brings the school back down to earth.  I hope more students and parents speak out about issues going on there.  I’m not saying NCS should become a priority school tomorrow, but the era of invincibility is over.  NCS had the veil lowered and we are all getting a chance to peek in.  Greg Meece has allowed his temper to get the best of him this year and he has been there a loooooooooooooooooong time.  He can do one of two things: keep the Harry Potter cloak back on the NCS schools or just let things flow.  I’m hoping for the latter.  But that will require him also lightening up on a few other things.

I believe the original intent of NCS was for parents to get their kids out of the Christina School District.  Did they have cause?  Sure they did.  But there are really good things happening in Christina right now.  There are also bad.  As there are in every single school in America.  Even NCS.  I get the need to protect your child.  But if it gets to a point where what one student has means many others do without, how is that teaching any child right and wrong?  I’m not saying this to start a fight.  Truly.  But if we always have this divide in this state, nothing anyone does will ever fix anything.  This lawsuit NCS triggered… it’s not good for Delaware.  It’s not good for NCS or Christina.  Lawsuits cost a ton of money.  But more than that, they take away from students.  They create long-lasting hostilities that play out for decades.  NCS sees this one way and Christina sees it another.  Eventually, unless it goes into some type of settlement, a judge will decide.  Chances are it isn’t going to play out the way the fifteen charters think it will.  I have no doubt Meece thinks he has some smoking gun he thinks will make the case.  It might, but not against Christina.  The Delaware DOE?  Probably.  But never underestimate what happens when you poke a bear.  If NCS truly thinks Christina will take this like a champ, they are wrong.  All 15 charters are wrong.

At a time when Delaware as a whole is trying to figure out pretty much every single aspect of education, from funding to academics to post-secondary outcomes to early childhood to special education to testing, we have a group of charters merrily led by their cheerleader over at the Delaware Charter Schools Network, some legal eagles, and probably a few other “stakeholders” trying to upset the apple cart and make sure they get what they think is their bounty.  But have they given one thought to what this means to Delaware students as a whole?  Nope.

That teacher the NCS students staged a sit-in for… why don’t they do that for ALL Delaware students.  They loved their teacher and fought for what they believed was just and fair.  Something was taken away from these students and they didn’t like it.  They did what Americans have been doing since the Boston Tea Party.  Now imagine all those students in Christina who will have less so the charters can have more.  Is that fair to them?  NCS has their engaged parents and their cafetorium and all that.  Not every school in Christina does.  Some schools don’t even have a librarian.  Stage a sit-in for that.  If the teacher you lost is as great as you say she is, she will find a new job.  This issue, due to your efforts, has been very public.  But the students in Christina… they might not get those second chances because of this ridiculous lawsuit.

Education is never going to be fixed no matter what all the corporate dreamers think will happen.  As long as there is one individual in a school, there will always be issues.  But the key is trying to find a way to make it work.  Robbing Peter to pay Paul isn’t the way.  This is why the charters, despite what they think happened and are behaving worse than any petulant child, are a classic example of what not to do in education.  This is making them reviled and hated more than anything I’ve seen in a long time.

 

 

Let’s Get Together

So education is a mess in Delaware.  It has basically come down to two sides: the moneymakers who want to make more money off education and those who just want education to be about teachers teaching and students learning with no high-stakes attached other than the student’s actual grades they receive based on the quality of work they put out.  This is it in a nutshell.  Sure, there are a million other variables in-between but this is the crux of the issues.

One side says what we have isn’t good enough while the other disagrees.  I’ve heard legislators say that both sides need to get together and compromise.  But how do you compromise when your very ethics and morals are questioned?  How do you put what you believe and you know in your heart of hearts to be true?  When does a financial reason ever replace what is actually good for a student?

In the 1960’s, people were very good about rising up when civil rights issues came up.  They stood up and rallied and rioted and marched and talked.  They said no to the big man and changed the face of the country.  Now many of the same people who advocated for change are the ones telling us how to run schools and what we need to do.  What changed?  Money.  They got a sniff of it, ran with it, kept it, invested it, and based their lives on it.  But they also achieved a level of power.  They got used to getting their way, and woe to anyone who gets in their way.  The only difference is now they are controlling events through money and power, as opposed to their hearts and convictions.  I think they believe the lies they tell us about our children and schools because the overwhelming need to control the scene is the mindset they have always had.

Is it even possible to change that kind of mindset?  Is there a way to convince these people they are wrong?  I don’t think so.  They will plot and scheme, and come up with other accountability measures designed to get what they want.  The difference is people are hip to their credo.  We are rising up, just as they did fifty years ago, to protest what they once believed to be wrong.  Will it be enough?  My best advice is to get together again.  Not those who will destroy public education, but all those who are opposed to what they are doing.

We need our own march that will go down in the annals of history as a catalyst for change.  We need to rally and protest.  We need to say no…together, as one voice.

The Delaware Battle For Public Education Is America’s War

In the grand scheme of things, six schools in the 2nd smallest state in the country really doesn’t amount to anything.  But the six priority schools in Wilmington, Delaware could change the face of education.  It’s not about making the schools better for the students.  It’s about two forces colliding in a battle that’s been in the making for over a decade.

On one hand is Governor Markell and the Delaware Department of Education.  Their public claim is the students aren’t reading up to their grade level, their standardized test scores are atrocious, and the beefed up funding will bring the schools back up again.  On the other hand are the Christina and Red Clay Consolidated school districts.  While Red Clay has already signed their Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and submitted it to the Delaware Department of Education, Christina is holding out and will vote on their draft MOU at their next board meeting on January 7th.

Both school districts have vehemently and publicly opposed the priority school initiative.  The biggest demands, new principals at $160,000 a year and teachers must reapply for their jobs, has insulted and demeaned many individuals throughout Delaware.  Recent Freedom of Information Act requests have shown a collusion with the major media outlet in Delaware, The News Journal.  Meetings with the Delaware DOE have been cut short, and language from the Secretary of Education Mark Murphy to certain members of the public have been extremely rude.  Murphy refused to answer questions from the public at a Wilmington City Council meeting in October.  FOIA emails have also shown that event was largely planned by the Delaware DOE and the Governor’s office.

The methodology for the priority schools has been controversial since day one.  The DE DOE has focused on these six schools, all within a square mile of the Community Education Building designed to hold charter schools.  Bank of America donated this building to the state, and only two charter schools reside in the large building with another one slated to open in the Fall of 2015.  Prior turnaround schools, such as Booker T Elementary School in Dover and Eastside Charter School in Wilmington have been held up as the biggest gainers in test scores, but mitigating factors have contributed to those increases, whether it has been rezoning of a district or massive expulsions changing the student dynamic and decreasing the size of a class by more than half.

So why should America care about these six schools in a city that was just labeled Murdertown, USA?  Three words: Governor Jack Markell.  He has taken a very active interest in education in this first state to sign the constitution but the last to follow.  In fact, he was on the original committees for Common Core and he holds a very powerful position among US Governors when it comes to education.  Many view him as a lame duck, which he is in Delaware.  But nationally the man can continue the corporate education reform until 2020.

In 2012, there was talk about US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan possibly leaving his post, whether voluntary or by force.  There were two names lobbied as potential replacements: Michelle Rhee, the former chancellor of schools for Washington D.C., and Delaware Governor Jack Markell.  While Rhee has fallen from public favor, Markell is still seen by many in political circles as the new voice for education in America.  The election of 2016 will work in Markell’s favor no matter which way it goes.  If the President-elect is a Democrat, Markell could very well be picked as the new US Secretary of Education.  If the country decides for a radical change and puts a 3rd Bush in office, Markell will still be picked for this slot.  Jeb Bush is very high in the food chain for corporate education reform, and you can bet your bottom dollar Markell has been cozying up to the former Florida Governor.

It all comes down to the Christina School District Board of Education.  As one of four school districts in Wilmington, Christina has always been the thorn in the DOE’s side.  They are fighters, and they don’t take kindly to bullying by the state.  Their refusal to follow the demands of the state with the priority schools has already put a chink in Markell’s armor.  On October 29th, at the Rodel sponsored Vision Network conference, Markell gave a speech and publicly stated he would not hesitate to takeover these schools if it came down to it.  Many in the audience were shocked at Markell’s overexertion of executive power, including many out-of-state guests.

This is what you will see if Markell takes over these six schools and turns them into charter schools:

-A precedent will be set in Delaware, and the DOE will be able to use flawed methodology via standardized test scores to “prioritize” any school in the state and turn it into a charter school.

-The DOE is already working on plans to penalize defiant school districts and potentially lead to the creation of Priority School Districts, which could then result in all schools within that district being turned into charter schools.  If you don’t think this can happen, look at New Orleans and York, Pennsylvania as cities that have turned into charter school towns.

-More Teach For America, The New Teacher Project, and Relay Graduate School teachers invading Delaware schools like a Nazi Blitzkrieg out of World War II.  These are teachers who excel at teaching to the test and are groomed to become future leaders of schools, with minimal training and hands-on experience in classrooms.

-The eventual busting of the unions.  The education unions are among the most powerful in the country, and corporate education reformers have found a way to finally break them up.  While some see these unions as a major detriment to education, they are the last man standing in the complete slaughter of public school district education.

-Even more Common Core, for not only English and Math, but also Science and Social Studies.  This will result in even more standardized testing through PARCC and the Smarter Balanced Consortium.  The US DOE used “waivers” to manipulate and blackmail and bribe states into accepting their reforms.  If the school districts didn’t comply, they would be labeled as failing due to No Child Left Behind guidelines.  Every single one of these waivers benefit the exact blueprint Markell and Rodel CEO Paul Herdman helped to create ten years ago, which has resulted in the current landscape of Delaware education.

-As more lower paid teachers come into schools, it sets up Rodel and Markell to initiate their “personalized learning” agenda through a company called 2Revolutions, which will result in the elimination of hands-on instruction in the classroom and will turn students into complete virtual zombies.  This will give the students of the future more screen-time than ever.  When they aren’t looking at screens all day at school, they will go home and do homework on the screen.  When they aren’t focused on school, they will be on their iPads and Xbox.  This “personalized learning” plan has already stated schools would need to do away with extracurricular activities like sports and band, or plays and art clubs.

-Special needs children will suffer the most from this plan, and they will be put at the bottom of the barrel.  Arne Duncan has already put things in place that will eliminate the very heart of IDEA law.  Do not believe for one second that states want to narrow the proficiency gap between special education students and regular students.  They are using this data to make huge decisions with our schools.  They will sacrifice a few of their own beloved charter schools to make this point.  For every charter school that is closed, there are many more waiting in the wings.

-Minorities and low-income students will continue to be targeted and clumped together in charter schools with their own.  Segregation will become the de facto method for all of education.

-Who benefits from all public school students going to charter schools, doing all their work in front of a screen, eliminating the diverse choices students have in schools, and being tested like guinea pigs in high-stakes testing?  The companies that have backed all of this and the politicians who have set up the pieces on the board to allow it to happen.

Do parents and the current school districts have a choice anymore with what happens in education?  Of course they do.  It is not too late.  Stopping Markell in Delaware would send a clear message to these companies that would benefit off the backs of our children.  The time has come to stop rallying on Facebook on our state “Stop Common Core” pages and actually do something.  Every single state in America that is driving these agendas needs to be stopped.  Citizens need to start sending Freedom Of Information Act requests to their governors and state DOE.  They need to expose these charlatans for what they are.  This isn’t something that can be held off.  You can’t wait and see.  You have to take a stand if you are against this, and it needs to be done NOW.

If the little state of Delaware Governor Jack Markell is not held in check, he will most likely be the next US Secretary of Education and that means more of the same in education, with even more steps being taken to destroy what we have.  This nonsense would continue until January 2021 at the earliest, if not longer.  By then, all that public school district education has will be gone.  It will become a whisper, and hundreds of thousands of educators will disappear.  Markell is viewed by many in Delaware as a dictator, and if he is allowed to be set loose as the leader of education in America, all bets are off.

This is the future of education in America.  Don’t let anyone fool you.  Don’t let them say you are crazy.  The people telling you this are already in key positions that are allowing this to happen.  Once you enter this matrix world of corporate education reform, the connections these people have and the paths they take become very obvious.  They are all pieces of the puzzle that lead to the complete annihilation of education as we know it.

Right now, Delaware needs your help America.  We have formed a group called  Delaware Parents and Teachers for Public Education.  We have started a petition against the priority schools.  We need your voice.  We don’t just want 1,000 signatures.  We want a million.  We want to send a powerful message to those that want to dictate rather than collaborate.  So please, sign our petition.  It is not about Delaware.  It’s about freedom, and voice, and our children.  It’s about America.

Please go here to sign our petition: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/lets-make-priority-schools-a-real-priority-2

 

 

Delaware Special Needs Parents Need To Unite Statewide Now! We can’t let the Rodels, Markells & DOE Screw Us Over

Gateway.  Priority Schools.  Smarter Balanced.  Standards Based IEPs.  Common Core.  Personalized Learning.  Rodel.  Vision.  Relay Graduate School.  Teach For America.  Governor Markell.

These are the ways Governor Markell, under the long-term strategic plans of Rodel, using the DOE as his shadow puppets, has systematically and methodically destroyed education as we know it in our state.  Some of us know this, and others are still living in the haze.

Sometimes, to move forward, you have to look back.  Last night, I journeyed back to last April.  My family’s situation with my son’s former charter school was starting to end and we were laboriously working on an IEP for my son at his new public elementary school.  But it felt like it wasn’t enough.  I started to research what led to all this.  I contacted a blogger named Kilroy, and we had many sidebar chats.  One day, I emailed him and advised him I figured it all out: Rodel ran education in this state.  They didn’t care what you or I thought, they had their vision, and to hell with anyone that got in their way.

We have allowed this to happen.  Because we haven’t spoken as one voice.  It’s hard being a special needs parent.  We all know this.  If it isn’t impacting my child, then we just don’t make the time to help.  Well guess what, everything is impacting your child now.  I’m sure a few weeks ago all the parents at Gateway thought they were secure.  I’m sure last summer some of the parents at the Priority schools thought their children were in good hands.  We have a standardized test coming up next Spring that a lot of our kids are rigorously  prepped for every day.  This test is so bad the company that made it doesn’t even know how to set proficiency levels.  Our teachers are being held at bay, getting screwed over left and right, held with a gun to their head every day with the threat of lower pay and the future of their already low-paying job on the line.   None of our schools are safe anymore.  Our educators aren’t safe.  And our children aren’t safe.

When I was chatting with Kilroy, he told me this state needs a unified special needs parent group.  Like a PTA for special needs parents.  As pieces, we can make some noise, ruffle some feathers, but at the end of the day nothing changes.  As a whole, a large unified group, representing 13.5% of children in this state, we can make a difference.  When one of our schools is threatened, we stand up.  When one of our kids is being mistreated, we stand up.  When legislation is introduced that can impact our kids, we stand up.  This is the only way we can make true and lasting change in Delaware.

We can NOT be a part of a government group.  Not PIC.  Not GACEC.  Not the DOE.  Not the Delaware PTA.  Or a PTO.  Once you are in the matrix, you don’t leave.  Don’t get me wrong, some individuals have made great changes to the system by being in these groups.  Some have gone on to become legislators.  That’s a good thing.  However, for the services and supports we need now, we need each other.  We can no longer rely on a Governor who really doesn’t care about what our kids need.  Gateway has proven that numbers on a piece of paper are more important than our children’s needs.

I would like to see this group start in January 2015.  Or sooner.  We can all go to the public comment meeting for Gateway on December 10th at the Delaware DOE.  They need our support.  We can protest the priority schools.  Because the state DOE has said nothing about the needs of those special needs children.  It hasn’t even been a part of the conversation.

Please leave comment and let’s start planning together.  This isn’t impossible.  It only takes a few people to unite and start spreading the word.  Reading this and agreeing is not enough.  Many of us have had our differences.  So we talk about them, we hash them out.  Maybe you think your kid is doing fine and everything is alright.  Great, let’s talk and see if that’s really the case.  We cannot live in a bubble anymore.  Because if you think for one minute all of this Common Core and standardized testing is going to lead to a greater future for your child, you are very wrong.