The Bizarre Love Triangle Between Publius, Minnehan, and Clampitt **UPDATED**

All relationships have their ups and downs.  Such is the case between former Kilroy’s Delaware commenter Publius e decere and former Pencader board member and current Christina board member Harrie Ellen Minnehan.  Throw in a wild card like Henry Clampitt, former board member of Charter School of Wilmington, current board member at Gateway Lab School, and also a candidate for the Red Clay Consolidated Board of Education, and you have what I like to call a bizarre love triangle (which just so happens to be an awesome tune by New Order).  But what I found this morning… that brings this triangle to a whole new level… Continue reading “The Bizarre Love Triangle Between Publius, Minnehan, and Clampitt **UPDATED**”

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Exceptional Delaware Proudly Endorses Ashley Sabo For Red Clay School Board

I’ve been a fan of Ashley Sabo going on a year and a half now.  Oddly enough, I first “met” her through a Rodel-Vision conference on Twitter!  Life is funny like that.  But Sabo represents the very best of what a school board member can offer.  She is a compassionate mom and wife, very involved with the community, attends most of the Red Clay board meetings and has for a very long time, gives public comment, is a CASA officer in Delaware (helping out kids in foster parent situations), was very involved in Red Clay’s inclusion policy, and fully supports the most fundamental and crucial of parental rights when it comes to education.

I’ve met and spoken with Sabo many times and she is one of those who just gets it.  She understands that far too many of the bad education policy in Delaware, as well as America, is not good for students.  I wish I lived in Red Clay so I could vote for her, but I strongly encourage all Red Clay Consolidated School District citizens to vote for Sabo on May 9th.

The Red Clay Education Association voted to endorse Sabo for Red Clay’s Board of Education in the upcoming election.  As the largest school district in the state, this is a huge endorsement for Sabo!

Some of the posts on her Facebook candidate page clearly illustrate why she should get your vote in Red Clay!

A year ago I made public comment at the board meeting about the need for more play and hands on learning in kindergarten. I still firmly believe kids, and not just kindergarteners, benefit from LESS rigor – fewer worksheets, less time at their desk – and MORE active learning – greater time using play to learn, more hands on activities. We need to help instil the LOVE of learning in kids!

For the past 3 years I have attended the majority of board meetings, making public comment when issues arose that needed to be addressed. I have attended countless committee meetings working tirelessly to ensure that decisions the district makes benefit all students. I have met with teachers on my own time to hear their concerns about different topics.

I am involved as a parent and will be even more involved as an elected board member.

As a parent of a high schooler in general education classes with no supports, an elementary student in a general education classroom with supports and a paraprofessional and a youngster who would love if there were more pre-k programs I have a wide variety of experience in the world of education.

BUT…. I am not a teacher. They are the ones working tirelessly for our children and they are the ones greatly affected by policy changes. I value their experience and knowledge.

I am committed to listening to our educators – making decisions that not only benefit all students but also help teachers spend more time teaching and less time navigating policy changes and paperwork.

I am beyond thankful for the wonderful teachers in my life and my children’s’ lives.

Next week, there will be a “Meet The Candidate Night” at Café Napoli Restaurant and Pizzeria at 4391 Kirkwood Hwy, in Wilmington on Wednesday, March 29th from 7pm to 9pm.

 

Red Clay Education Association Officially Supporting House Bill 50 Veto Override!!! And More!

While it isn’t the DSEA, the Red Clay Education Association officially voted tonight to support the House Bill 50 Veto Override.  Thank you the members of the RCEA for doing this.  The Red Clay Consolidated School District Board of Education passed a board policy honoring opt-out a couple months ago, so it looks like Red Clay supports opt-out all over the district.

Mike Matthews, the President of RCEA, just posted this on Facebook:

At tonight’s Representative Council, the Red Clay Education Association took an official position of support for the legislature to override Gov. Jack Markell‘s veto of HB 50, the Parent Opt Out Bill.

The rally the Delaware PTA is sponsoring will be held on Thursday, 1/14, at 1pm on the steps of Legislative Hall in Dover.  All parents and students are encouraged to attend to lend support.  As well, the Delaware PTA petition is still live:

https://www.change.org/p/delaware-state-house-vote-to-override-delaware-hb50-veto

State Rep. John Kowalko will be asking for a suspension of rules when the Delaware House of Representatives meets in legislative session on Thursday.  A suspension of rules, which would prevent House Bill 50 from going back to the House Education Committee led by State Rep. Earl Jaques, would open up House Bill 50 for a vote by the State Representatives.  If the suspension of rules doesn’t go through, it doesn’t mean all hope is lost.  It would be up to Jaques to allow the bill to be heard in the House Education Committee.  It would go through the same process as last Spring if it progresses from there: House Education Committee to Full House Vote to Senate Education Committee to full Senate vote, assuming it passed each step along the way.

This has been a very long journey for many of us supporting this bill, and probably for those who oppose it as well.  While some may question the importance of it, and why it is such a big deal, I would hope those people understand this bill is about student and parent rights.  I have heard someone say it is a waste of “political capital”.  I wouldn’t say that at all.  Every bill in the General Assembly is important to someone.  To myself, there are certainly matters (like the state budget) that take on more public importance than House Bill 50, but this one that hits very close to home for a lot of parents.

15 Who Made An Impact In 2015: Mark Murphy

murphyaaaah

Aside from Governor Markell, the most talked about name in education in 2015 was Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy.  When he took over the position from Lillian Lowery in 2012, there was skepticism.  For three years, we watched Murphy and his minions at the Delaware Department of Education disengage with their stakeholders: teachers, administrators, parents, and students.

After the priority school controversy came to a head in the Christina School District, the opt-out movement in Delaware began to rise.  It was around this time that both the Red Clay and Christina Education Associations had a press conference announcing a vote of no-confidence in Mark Murphy.  Not long after, both the Delaware State Education Association and the Delaware Association of School Administrators announced the same verdict.

When House Bill 50, the opt-out legislation, became a huge topic of conversation, Murphy publicly stated on the Larry Mendte hosted The Delaware Way that parents were not allowed to opt their children out of standardized testing.  I remember after the debate at the Senate Education Committee, a participant who had never seen Murphy before and was not involved in Delaware education, asked me if Murphy was alright, if there was something wrong with him.

In the early part of the summer, it was revealed the Red Clay Consolidated School District was not getting their promised funding for their three priority schools.  As rumors go, this was the final nail in his secretarial coffin.  By the middle of the summer, Murphy announced he was “retiring”.  No reason was given, just that Murphy was going to pursue other opportunities.  Meanwhile, his LinkedIn account still shows him as the Delaware Secretary of Education.  The Race To The Top was over, and so was Mark Murphy.

Kilroy Blasts Local Union And Is Publius Running For A Board?

This is a two-in-one article, but they are closely related.  Kilroy also wrote a reaction piece to the News Journal’s article on the opt-out penalty, but his article didn’t really delve into the article.  Instead, he blasted the unions and blamed them for Race To The Top.  It was seven years ago Kilroy, let it go!  But he didn’t stop there, he also attempted to do something with Red Clay Educators Association President Mike Matthews.  I’m not sure what his motivation was with all of this, but it is obvious Kilroy has a major beef with the unions.  Which got me thinking (always a dangerous thing, I know) about what might really be going on.

For all of Kilroy’s rants about Race To The Top and DSEA’s role in it, we NEVER hear one word about the charters support for Race To The Top.  They had a role as well.  Is there benefit for Kilroy to go gangbusters on unions and not the charters?  Probably not, but then I looked at who the bulk of the commenters are on Kilroy’s nowadays.  Die-hard charter and choice lovers.  Led by the always controversial Publius.  We know Kilroy has sidebars with a lot of his commenters.  I usually talk to him every couple weeks myself.  But is Kilroy being inundated with the charter special sauce?  And why would someone do that?  Perhaps if they were running for a local school board in the next few years.  That’s right.  Word on the street has it that none other than Publius himself will be running for a local school board!  While some (okay, many) know who Publius really is, you won’t hear it from me.

It would greatly benefit Publius to have Kilroy turn the public against the local unions.  Is Publius working Kilroy?  I sure hope not, because Kilroy wouldn’t be too happy if he found out!  But in my eyes, Publius on a local school board is more frightening than the last episode of American Horror Story!  Say what you will about DSEA.  I agree with some of Kilroy’s points on them.  They could have taken a much stronger stand on opt-out.  I have no clue how they really stand on the opt-out penalty and what their role is.  Someone is either telling the truth or they are lying.  Yeah, sometimes the truth is in the middle, but in Delaware politics, someone is usually playing someone else for their own benefit.  It’s a tricky slope to sled down.

I firmly believe, that with WEIC and the redistricting effort, Mike Matthews wanted to take on a greater role because he knew the responsibilities of being President of RCEA were going to greatly increase this year.  More focus and focus plus schools as well.  And we all know Mike will stand up to the DOE, which is desperately needed these days, and I wish all local education associations would do this instead of sitting on the fence.  Kilroy said this has never happened before.  Well guess what Kilroy, the time to defend teachers against the onslaught of the DOE has never been greater!

DOE’s Own Accountability Framework Working Group Slams Regulation 103 At State Board of Education Meeting

At the State Board of Education meeting today, it was a packed house as several public comments were given in opposition to Regulation 103.  The Delaware State Educators Association slammed it, the Red Clay Educators Association slammed it, Delaware PTA slammed it, I slammed it, and parents slammed it.  One parent slammed DOE’s Smarter Balanced Assessment and their obsession with proficiency.  In my public comment, I advised the DOE and State Board of Education of the state and federal complaints I filed against them in the last week.  I could have gone on, but the clock ran out. State Rep. John Kowalko lambasted the State Board of Education on their regulatory practices when the General Assembly is not in session and vowed to fight DOE and the State Board on these matters.

One parent was denied the chance to speak.  Because of the huge crowd, and a regulation stating you must sign up for public comment 15 minutes prior to the meeting, several people were told they couldn’t speak.  Board President Dr. Teri Quinn Gray did give one last chance to sign up for public comment, but the sign-up sheet was at the Board table, not in the hallway like it usually is (even way after the 15 minute “regulation” mark).  After all the comments ended, I advised Dr. Gray there was one more speaker who didn’t hear her “last chance” comment.  Dr. Gray refused to let the parent give public comment.  This parent is going to be sending me her public comment today and I will post it on here.

The ParentStrike press conference went well.  NBC Philadelphia and reporter Tim Furlong were there, and will be airing a segment during their 5pm broadcast.  The News Journal, Dover Post, and others were in attendance between the Press Conference and the State Board meeting as well.   I spoke, as did Rep. Kowalko, State Senator Dave Lawson, and RCEA President Mike Matthews.  I had to leave the State Board of Education early to pick my son up from school, but I will be getting updates on their discussion of Regulation 103 and the Smarter Balanced Assessment results for all the sub-groups.

Any goodwill the Delaware DOE had is quickly evaporating as no one seems to be taking their side anymore.  The House of Cards has collapsed, but I did wish departing Secretary of Education Mark Murphy good luck in his future endeavors, as did others.  He was given a gift by the State Board so he could “write it all down”, which if I had to guess would be a future book???? Please don’t call it “Murphy’s Law” Mark…that would be too much…

Oh yeah, what about the Accountability Framework Working Group, otherwise known as AFWG?  Apparently, the notes from their meetings I published a few weeks ago, did not show the true story about what went on during these meetings.  It wasn’t all harmony and agreement like the minutes suggest.  DSEA member of the group, Deb Stevens, gave public comment.  She spoke as the representative for all of the non-DOE members of the group.  She indicated that this coalition from the AFWG wants the State Board of Education to defer a ruling on this until it can be flushed out even further and does not believe it is a final product at all and needs a lot of work.

I did find out former US DOE employee Deborah Delisle apparently sent a letter to the Delaware DOE indicating the participation rate MUST be used on the ESEA mandated school report card as a “consequence”, although there is nothing on the US DOE or Delaware DOE website with this letter or language.  I just emailed Penny Schwinn for a copy of this letter.  Even if it is in there, it is not regulation and the Delaware DOE is in way obligated to enforce a simple warning.

Vast Majority Of Delaware School Administrators Have No Confidence In Delaware DOE

 “We believe this lack of confidence is due to a failure to engage the education community in a shared decision-making process and the failure of the leadership of the Department to implement reform without creating trust.” -Kevin Carson, Executive Director of the Delaware Association of School Administrators (DASA)

In a Delaware News Journal article published last night, nine out of ten Delaware school administrators that voted on a survey showed no confidence in the Delaware Department of Education.  They join the Delaware State Educators Association and their local chapters in the Christina and Red Clay school districts, the Delaware PTA in regards to the Smarter Balanced Assessment, several legislators, and several parents in the state.

The DOE responded to the survey in a statement by their spokeswoman, Alison May:

“If we had to choose between making extraordinary progress together and avoiding controversy, we would choose progress for our students every time.”

It is the very nature of this progress that is the rudimentary question these days.  Many folks in Delaware do not see standardized assessments as a true measure of progress for students.  With the roll-out of Smarter Balanced this year, this feeling has only intensified as the test has not been validated nor does it offer an actual growth model.

As well, the DOE seems to thrive on controversy these days and are not engaging in true stakeholder input.  Perhaps they are just putting on a tin shell to defend themselves from all the potshots that are lobbed their way with statements like these, but it certainly doesn’t help their cause.

Another strong indictment against the DOE by DASA is the fact that the DOE has “flawed systems for evaluating teachers and schools and has stumbled to find a better way to pay educators,” according to the article written by Matthew Albright.

Relations between the DOE and the most essential stakeholders in the state have deteriorated to an all-time low.   When the most important groups in education have NO confidence in the rigorous work you are doing, at what point do the light bulbs finally turn on?  Will the entire state have to endure Secretary Mark Murphy until Governor Markell leaves office?

Mike Matthews Lambastes DOE For Their One-Sided Smarter Balanced Administration Survey

In a letter sent to the Red Clay Educator Association members, President Mike Matthews slammed the DOE for their Smarter Balanced Administration survey, shown in the previous article for all to see.  I completely agree with Matthews on this.  Like so many other DOE surveys, the choices only make the Smarter Balanced Assessment look good.

RCEA Members: 

This year was an incredibly rough start for the Smarter Balanced Assessment. I heard from dozens of you about the loss of valuable instructional time to administer this test, as well as the multitude of system capacity issues when you finally sat your students down to take the test. Needless to say, I’m guessing this test has not been popular with a majority of you who have administered it. 

I received this email from one of my RCEA Executive Board members. I’m guessing this would have gotten to me at some point. I’m going to try and make this short, but I feel the need to address this survey.  I applaud the Department for wanting to get feedback from teachers on the administration of SBAC. However, I have grave concerns with the lack of balance in the survey the Department of Education has presented here. Please click below and note the questions and answer choices on the survey. Does anything stick out at you? 

I’m concerned that the only answer choices provided reflect an overall positive experience with the administration of the SBAC. Why are there no answer choices critical of the administration of this test? Sure, there’s plenty of space to provide a narrative comment by clicking “Other” and I’m hopeful that many of you will use that option to share your thoughts with DoE on this assessment. I believe this survey reflects the overall attitude and ideology from within the Department that criticism of this assessment should be absolutely blunted at best or, at worst, just completely ignored.  

I wouldn’t generally email the membership regarding a survey like this, but I feel it’s critical that you respond to the survey with absolute honesty by providing your comments in the “Other” box. I know this could take time, but I’ve heard from so many of you this year, that I feel it’s really necessary for the State to hear our unfiltered opinions on this test. 

All the best and enjoy the last few minutes with your students!

 Mike

 

Why The Timetable For SJR #2 Guarentees Another Year (or more) Of Smarter Balanced

Senate Joint Resolution #2 in Delaware calls for recognition of the assessment inventory currently going on in all our public schools.  As well, with the amendment added on 6/3, it gives the General Assembly more ability to make recommendations on it.  According to Lindsey O’Mara, Markell’s education policy advisor, Smarter Balanced will be a part of the discussion.  But what this will not do is get rid of Smarter Balanced, if it even could, until the 2016-2017 school year.

I don’t think Smarter Balanced can be removed from the assessment equation in this assessment inventory.  State law is very clear there has to be a state assessment, and the law is for Smarter Balanced.  This is required by Federal law currently.  O’Mara said this, very fast mind you, at the Senate Education Committee meeting.  Furthermore, any legislation coming out of this discussion group, would still have to be signed by Markell if it passes the General Assembly.  He is a lame duck.  There is no way in hell he will sign legislation getting rid of Smarter Balanced.  Even if it passed unanimously through the House and Senate.

If a veto process carried past June 30th 2015, this would guarantee Smarter Balanced for the 2016-2017 school year.  Yes, there would be a new Governor and a new General Assembly starting in January 2017, and they would have to start from scratch all over again.  Which then brings us to the 2017-2018 school year.  Over two years from now…

If the only reasons DSEA is supporting SJR #2 is because Smarter Balanced was included in the discussion and the fact that it gives the General Assembly more abilities in the process, this is a weak argument.  I am still sticking with my original articles on this the past couple days.  I do not think the actions of DSEA and the RCEA President are intentional in deriding HB 50.  But I firmly believe they have been duped, and as a commenter wrote yesterday, DSEA is still trying to differentiate between a “seat at the table” and “being on the table”.  They are very eager for change, as we all are.  But if they fall over the cliff on this one and something happens with House Bill 50 as a result, the relationship between parents and the DSEA may never be repaired.

DSEA & RCEA President Back An “Alternative” To House Bill 50 & Stab Parents In The Back

At yesterday’s Senate Education Committee meeting, the Delaware State Educators Association and Mike Matthews, President of the Red Clay Educators Association,  publicly backed Senate Joint Resolution #2, labeled by the Delaware Department of Education as an “alternative” to House Bill 50, the parent opt-out bill.  An amendment was added to the resolution yesterday, at the request of DSEA, adding more authority to the General Assembly to make “recommendations” to the State Board of Education when the assessment inventory is due on January 31st, 2016.

For an organization representing thousands of teachers in our state and supposedly backs House Bill 50 and parent opt-out, they sure have a funny way of showing it.  DSEA representative, Kristen Dwyer, told the committee she supports it but did add she doesn’t want this legislation confused with House Bill 50 because they are two different issues.

When asked by Dwyer if the Smarter Balanced Assessment would be included in the discussion of the assessment inventory, Governor Markell’s Education Policy Advisor, Lindsey O’Mara, said the following:

“Absolutely, yes, all assessments will be the subject of discussion.  We were all invited together to have a discussion about assessments.  Hopefully those discussions will be grounded in the reality of the cycle of state legal requirements around assessments.  But were happy to have any conversation around any assessment that any member of this group would put on the table.”

Dwyer went on to say “clearly Senate Joint Resolution #2 is a positive step in the right direction.”  RCEA President Mike Matthews gave public comment after Senator David Sokola talked about No Child Left Behind and how it should have been called “No Test Left Behind”.

“I had  some concerns when this resolution was first introduced.  I spoke to Kristen earlier today and I’m supporting the bill.  I’d like to see an amendment that the parent be appointed by the PTA and not the Governor’s office.  That would be fair.  And on a personal note, we’re going to do this testing inventory, I think it’s a great thing, public meetings, get everyone’s opinion on board.  The one test, we have a lot of tests in Red Clay, a lot of tests that give immediate feedback, DIBELS, SRI, even to some extent the Measure B’s, the pre and post tests, the one test that gives our teachers, our members absolutely no feedback is the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  So I’m hopeful that will be a part of the discussion.  I’m very please the language has been strenghthened surrounding reporting out to the legislature.”

*Amended to add Mike Matthews full public comment*

It is painfully obvious that DSEA and Matthews have fallen into the trap set for them by Governor Markell, the DOE, Senator Sokola and State Rep. Earl Jaques.  Because this is what is going to happen: The Smarter Balanced Assessment will be discussed in this group.  It will be brought up by someone with legal authority that the Smarter Balanced is the state assessment as required by Federal law.  The report will be completed by January 30th, 2016.  Maybe some legislation will come out of it when the General Assembly gets fully rolling again in February 2016.  It will go through the motions there, which will bring us into April 2016.  Well after the next Smarter Balanced Assessment testing window will begin in March 2016.

Some legislative genius will propose the following in the next 26 days of this legislative session: “If the Smarter Balanced Assessment is up for discussion in this assessment inventory, why do we even need House Bill 50?  Why don’t we have it stricken?”  And they may just do this.  I could see this happening in the next week.  Now that the Governor’s office has given a happy and cheerful “Absolutely” about Smarter Balanced being included in this process, I can definitely see this.  And this is where the trap is revealed.

If House Bill 50 is stricken, or removed from the equation, here is what will happen: we will STILL have Smarter Balanced next year.  Parents will opt-out their children.  And they will still be harassed, bullied and intimidated by our schools.  Teachers will be judged by these tests, whether it is official or not.  Schools will be labeled and shamed.  Students who are opted out won’t be given proper instructional or educational material to work on while their peers are taking the test.  And we are right back to where we were a year ago when the 147th General Assembly passed House Bill 334 allowing the Smarter Balanced to be the state assessment.

Does the DSEA even care about any of this?  They say they support House Bill 50, but their public support has been very limited.  Do they care if they fall into this trap?  I can’t answer that.  But what was even more shocking was Mike Matthews publicly supporting SJR #2.  Out of ALL the teachers in Delaware, he would have been the last one I would ever expect to back this.

If the DSEA showed as much backbone for parents as they do for educators, the system in this state would be a lot different.  But no, they won’t do that.  In fact, they will go to bat for teachers every chance they get and call for their support, like in this email they sent out today:

From: DSEAInfo@DSEA.org
To: dsea-info@list.nea.org
CC: DoverStaff@DSEA.org; NewCastleStaff@DSEA.org; LeadershipTeam@DSEA.org
Subject: DPAS II Proposed Changes – Call to Action
Date: Thu, 4 Jun 2015 13:03:55 +0000

Dear Member,

As you may know, the Delaware Department of Education (DDOE) has sought to make substantive changes to the DPAS II-R evaluation system every year since 2010, when Component Five was first discussed.   These annual changes have occurred even as the Department’s own survey data shows a precipitous decline in educator support for the system designed to assess educator effectiveness. 

Despite these facts, DDOE is again pushing the State Board of Education to adopt substantive changes to the appraisal cycle and summative rating system.  The potential impact of these changes, coupled with the history of other changes and data showing an overwhelming lack of support for the system, once again paints a troubling picture for the educator evaluation system in Delaware. 

Issues with Changes to the Annual Appraisal Cycle:

DDOE is currently proposing a move to an annual appraisal cycle for all educators.  They contend that this change will provide for “ongoing opportunities for teacher development and student achievement by strengthening and refining the appraisal cycle” and that “new administrative requirements would be offset by the number of required observations and the online platform system.” 

DSEA’s position is that the Department’s response does not truly capture the impact their changes to regulations 106A and 107A would have.  Administrators conducting DPAS II observations have long cited the amount of time required to complete an observation as a key problem with the current system.  This opinion is supported by DDOE’s own Year 6 and Year 7 Annual DPAS II Survey, where administrator respondents specified that “time remains a significant issue.”  Simply put, administrators already have far too many employees assigned to them for observations and they continue to struggle to complete the required number of observations and the accompanying paperwork.   

Furthermore, the number of required observations has remained the same for the past three years.   Last year the Department added the “short observation” (10 minutes in length) as an optional observation type for administrators to use “in addition to” the standard observation, not “in lieu of.”  

Additionally, there is no indication that the online portal system would help offset the added administrative requirements, as the Department states it would.  Theses proposed changes do not improve the system and actually create the potential for educators to be rated solely on the basis of one 30-minute observation and their Component 5 scores.  

Issues with Changes to the Summative Rating System:

DDOE is also proposing to change how the summative ratings for evaluations are calculated and labeled.  The primary change is adjusting the numerical scores and labels attached to Components 1-4, allowing for fractional point totals.  It also further restricts the summative rating of “highly effective” to only those teachers who score “highly effective” or “effective” in Components 1-4 and “exceeds” in Component 5.  The Department chose to submit this proposed amendment knowing that an alternative summative rating system had been proposed by a joint DASA/DSEA DPAS II Work Group. 

The DASA/DSEA Work Group, a collaborative team of principals and educators, shared their alternate proposal with the DPAS II Advisory Committee.  They also recommended that any changes to the ratings be piloted, with full implementation delayed for one year.  The Advisory Committee unanimously endorsed the DASA/DSEA proposal.  Despite those facts, DDOE asked the Advisory Committee to recommend to the State Board the Department’s original proposed changes and stated that the DASA/DSEA proposal could be offered as an alternative evaluation system that school districts use pending DDOE approval. 

DSEA contends that the proposal of the Work Group is less burdensome than the Department’s changes and that it refines and simplifies the current system.  The changes proposed by the Work Group are: (1) Creating uniform rating categories throughout the system for criteria, components, and the overall summative rating; (2) Assigning an equal value of 20% to all components; and (3) Creating a numeric system to determine criteria, component, and summative ratings.  The Work Group continues to advocate for their proposed rating system to be piloted statewide with statewide implementation in school year 2016-17.  

Call to Action!

The State Board of Education will vote upon these proposed changes at their meeting on June 18th. Now, this is where you come in, public comment on the proposed changes will be accepted until June 5th.  So, we are encouraging all of our members to let the State Board of Education know why you oppose the proposed changes by sending in a letter for public comment.  We have attached two form letters that you can read and edit to make your own.  Once completed and personalized, please email or mail your letter to: 

Ms. Tina Shockley

Policy Advisor

Delaware Department of Education

401 Federal Street, Suite 2

Dover, DE  19901

tina.shockley@doe.k12.de.us 

To read the proposed changes click here.  To read the letter submitted by DSEA to the State Board of Education stating our issued with these changes, click here

Thank you in advance for voicing your concerns and taking action with us! 

In Solidarity,

Frederika Jenner

Now if this same organization were to write a letter supporting a parent’s right to opt-out, I would be very impressed.  But I have a growing feeling they only care about opt-out as it would relate to teachers and their evaluations.

I have supported teachers and their unions for almost a year now, and backed them time and time again.  But when the parents really need their backing, they scurry away like little mice.

Delaware Priority Schools: The Truth Revealed Part 35

In the Delaware Priority Schools saga, which is still going on believe it or not, many citizens, teachers, parents and even legislators started questioning the Delaware Department of Education about what was really going on.  The email below, sent by a very prominent person in Delaware education, asked many questions.  I will have to reach out to him to see if he ever received a response.  This individual cares about education so much he gives up a lot of his own time to try to make it better.

Priority6

Yes, this is none other than Mike Matthews, President of the Red Clay Educators Association (RCEA), and a teacher at Warner Elementary School.  Mike is always on the front lines in the education battles in Delaware, and he is not afraid to tell the DOE exactly what he thinks.  When I first met Mike, at a Delaware State Board of Education meeting last August, he was cutting out decorations for his classroom during the meeting.  Since then, Mike and I talk a lot about education matters.  He also used to write a very popular blog in Delaware called “Down With Absolutes”.  Mike is relinquishing his teacher duties and going full-time with his RCEA role.  I see Mike one day leading all of DSEA, and eventually I could see him in a political role in our state.  I feel fortunate to know Mike as he knows a ton of information about Delaware.

**UPDATED**10:54 am

Mike Matthews just emailed me the response from DOE to his questions:

—–Original Message—–
From: McLaughlin Mary Kate [mailto:marykate.mclaughlin@DOE.K12.DE.US]
Sent: Wednesday, September 17, 2014 12:04 PM
To: Matthews Michael; May Alison; Schwinn Penny
Cc: Kowalko John; Rivera Kenneth; Williams Kimberly
Subject: RE: Priority Schools

Mike – thanks for the back and forth this morning and for giving me a little time to get back to you. On your first question around the planner, the district can chose whomever they’d like for the planner – DOE will not micromanage this, including what the qualifications are. It is totally up to the district – that said, if they would like assistance identifying a person or group that does this work, we’ll be happy to help. Relative to your 10 or 12 month question, the plan is due December 31st, so the money would be used by then.

On your second question, the districts can put forward their choice for school leader – the goal should be that it is a person who can execute on the plan they’ve developed. There is not a list of potential school leaders, however, similar to my statement above, should the district ask for help in identifying candidates, we would be happy to help.

Hope this helps! mk

DSEA Passes Resolution For No Confidence In Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy

This past weekend, the Delaware State Educators Association passed a resolution indicating they have no confidence in Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy to effectively lead Delaware in education.  As reported by Avi Wolfman-Arent on WHYY/Newsworks today,

The resolution comes shortly after unions representing teachers at the state’s two largest school districts passed a similar measure. It also points to growing discord between the union and state leaders, who once earned kudos for working together,  but recently have clashed over teacher evaluation, teacher training, and the use of standardized tests.

“It is no secret that many public school employees are frustrated by the decisions and actions coming out of the Department of Education,” said union president Frederika Jenner, in a statement. “This past weekend, that collective frustration manifested itself in a vote of ‘No Confidence” in Secretary Murphy.”

The resolution stopped short at Murphy, and did not call out the Delaware Department of Education and the State Board of Education which the Christina and Red Clay Educators Association both did in their resolution last week, but it sends a very clear message that educators in Delaware are fed up with the policies of the Department and believe it is time for a change.  I think the majority of the citizens of Delaware are also reaching this point…

To read more on this story, please go here: http://www.newsworks.org/index.php/local/item/79647-delaware-teachers-union-votes-no-confidence-in-secretary-of-education?l=dt

Lavelle & Sokola Face Off While Markell Explodes

Word around the town is Delaware Senators Greg Lavelle and David Sokola exchanged words at that New Castle school district meeting yesterday.  It’s beginning to look like the WEAC recommendations have ruffled a lot of feathers lately.  And the power struggles begin anew in the 148th General Assembly.  My little birds are also telling me about another power grab occurring in our state between two sides.  One team is feeding right into the hands of the other team who are just sitting back and watching it happen.

Meanwhile, our Common Core Smarter Balanced loving Governor was very angry about the RCEA and CEA press conference on Thursday night.  Education has been his baby and someone snatched that baby. Even though he stole the baby from its original owners, he didn’t like the snatch back.  This is after an already bad week for Jack when he was forced to use the words “opt out”.  As well, he had to hear all the talk about his latest whipping boy and his very stupid comments about parents and students.

We have a lame-duck trying to quack, but nobody is liking the noise.  The cracks in the foundation are getting bigger and bigger, and it is all about to crumble.  Just go to Delawareonline’s Facebook page and look at the recent comments concerning education.  Aside from the Delaware DOE employee and a couple other strays (like one person who was in charge of a human capital project), most of the commenters are well aware of what is going on.

Delaware Parents & Teachers Public Comment at RCEA & CEA Press Conference Last Night

As anyone knows, I’m not really a group joiner!  But I am proud to be one of the founding members of the grassroots organization called Delaware Parents & Teachers for Public Education.  Last night, another founding member named Eve Buckley attended the RCEA & CEA press conference at Warner Elementary School where the local educator associations announced their resolution of no confidence in the DOE, Mark Murphy and the State Board of Education.  Here are the comments Eve gave:

 

Watch CEA & RCEA Press Conference Declaring No Confidence In Mark Murphy, DOE & State Board of Education

Red Clay & Christina Educators Association Announce Resolution of No Confidence in Mark Murphy, DOE & State Board, Demand Public Election of State Board

At Warner Elementary School in Wilmington this evening, representatives from both the Red Clay Consolidated and Christina Educators Association announced a recently passed resolution stating they have no confidence in Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy, the Delaware Department of Education, and the Delaware State Board of Education.   The full document can be read here:

The RCEA and CEA collectively represent over 2,500 educators in the State of Delaware, as the two largest school districts in the state.  Both districts were involved in the priority schools initiative and educators were faced with a no-win situation for many months starting last September.  Members no longer have faith in the state educational leaders to effectively provide supports for their schools and are demanding change from state legislators.

Many have felt for years the DOE has acted unilaterally without true stakeholder input from educators, parents, and schools.  It is only after they make changes that they reach out.  The resolution also states the DOE spent millions of dollars to beef up their own internal positions and as a result, students lost funding, resources and support, especially in our state’s highest needs schools.

Mike Matthews Excellent Interview on WDEL w/Al Mascitti

Ex Blogger Current Special Education and RCEA President Mike Matthews appeared on the WDEL Morning Show with Al Mascitti today to talk about the priority schools, the Delaware Department of Education, Race To The Top, and the 148th General Assembly.  This is a must-hear podcast!

 

*Thanks to blogger extraordinaire Teachezwell for updating me on the link!