Network for Public Education Calls For National Opt Out, Refuse The Test NOW!!!!

Carol Burris, the Executive Director for the Network for Public Education, put out a press release last night calling for a National Opt Out of high-stakes testing, otherwise known as standardized tests.  In Delaware, we call this the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  Refuse this test for your child now.  The stakes are getting bigger by the day for each student in public education.  What started out on my end as thinking these tests were just Common Core drivel has morphed into something much bigger.  Just look at the past week’s worth of my articles to find out why.  This isn’t a matter of making a choice for your child anymore.  It is now a moral imperative.  Here is the press release from the Network for Public Education.

After careful thought and deliberation, the Network for Public Education is calling for a national Opt Out because of the harmful effects of annual high-stakes testing on children and schools.  We enthusiastically support those parents who refuse to have their children take the 2016 state exams.

The alleged purpose of annual testing, federally mandated since NCLB was passed in 2004, is to unveil the achievement gaps within schools, ostensibly to close them.  Twelve years later, there is no conclusive evidence that NCLB high-stakes testing has improved the academic performance of any student—particularly those who need the most help. All that has been closed by testing are children’s neighborhood schools.

Fairfield University Professor and NPE Board member, Yohuru Williams, has made the case that annual high-stakes testing feeds racial determinism and closes doors of opportunity for black and brown children. We agree when he states that opting out is a necessary and direct act of protest to highlight the injustice of a system that refuses to address the underlying socio-economic problems that contribute to unequal learning experiences.  The current demand for high-stakes testing and uniform standards diverts attention from the hard work of school improvement and the correction of the social and economic inequities that lead to inequitable results.

The Common Core tests rely on passing marks set artificially high, so that at least two thirds of all children will be labeled as failing. When U.S. Secretary of Education, John King, was New York’s Commissioner, he accurately predicted that about 70% of students would fail. Students with disabilities, English Language learners, and children who live in poverty experience even higher failure rates. These tests are manifestly unfair to the neediest children.

Furthermore, the data derived from high-stakes testing is intended to undermine our public schools by creating a false narrative of failure. Once public schools are closed, they are replaced by privately managed charter schools, with insufficient public oversight. When teachers are fired, they are replaced with inexperienced and often temporary staff. Testing data are used to demoralize teachers and take away their hard-earned job rights, thus creating a constant churn of teachers whose work is reduced to test preparation.

Although officials may claim that the information derived from these tests is helpful to children and teachers, this is not true. Test results are reported in the summer or fall, when it is too late to inform instruction. Numerical rankings of 1,2 3 or 4 and percentile ranks are meaningless markers that cannot be used to guide the instruction of any individual child.

We acknowledge that there is a legitimate role for standardized tests, if they are limited in frequency and time, developmentally appropriate, well-designed and reasonably scaled with realistic cut scores and provide useful instructional feedback. High-stakes tests given for school accountability purposes, do not meet those standards.  They are undermining the public school system that is the pillar of our democracy. We believe that opting out of state tests as an act of direct protest will help turn the tide and eliminate damaging policies.

We recognize that some parents will find it difficult or impossible to have their children refuse the exam due to punitive state laws or district policies.  We urge those who cannot opt out to speak out and demand their right to do what is best for their children in the face of harmful testing. The brunt of testing for school accountability is falling on children. Our elected leaders must address this broken accountability system and provide relief.

For those who can, we ask that they break ranks, join us and not comply with testing. Policymakers cannot ignore the voices of the public when we speak together. Opt Out gives us that voice.

The promise of a public school system, however imperfectly realized, is at risk of being destroyed. The future of our children is hanging from testing’s high stakes. The time to Opt Out is now.

For more information on how to opt out, we recommend the following sources: United Opt Out’s State by State resources: http://unitedoptout.com/state-by-state-opt-out-2/ and FairTest’s: Just Say No to the Test: http://www.fairtest.org/get-involved/opting-out.

Listen to Diane Ravitch give reasons why parents should opt out here.

NPE Board member Yohuru Williams explained why opt out matters at this year’s United Opt Out conference. Watch him here.

And NPE Board member Julian Vasquez Heilig explains how Opt Out rights a “civil wrong” in this video here.

Don’t hesitate.  Don’t even question your decision.  Just do it.  First thing Monday.  If you are able, make it a point to drive your child to school and hand the Principal your refusal letter.  Opt out is the ONLY way to change things.  It is the ONLY way to force the destroyers of public education from furthering their agendas.   I’m not going to mince words.  These education reformers: they are not nice people.  They may smile for the camera and tell you they care about children, but they don’t.  If they did, many of their own children would be taking these tests.  If you care about the future for your children and your grandchildren, refuse the test Monday.  All of you need to do it.  We all need to refuse.  We need to say NO MORE!!!  This is an education revolution.  I get that.  It is bold, and daring, and frightening in some respects.  But you truly need to do this NOW!!!

Delaware DOE Finds More Creative Ways To Screw Over Schools And Students With Disabilities

The federal government issues special education funds to states through IDEA.  The state issues them based on the federal funds available, as well as their own share of state funds.  In Delaware, this is the unit-count process.  Under federal law, they are beholden to use the laws in IDEA to issue these funds.  But now the Delaware Department of Education is looking at Smarter Balanced Assessment results in funding to local education agencies (schools).  The Exceptional Children Resources Group is looking to do this based on no state or federal laws.  Once again, the Delaware DOE, even under the leadership of Dr. Steven Godowsky, is creating their own rules and accountability scare tactics.

Could the DOE find more ways to screw over students with disabilities?  This is obviously tied to opt-out.  After high school juniors, the highest population of opt-outs was students with disabilities in Delaware.  By tying funding to SBAC performance, the DOE is trying to test schools and parents.  I can’t say I’m surprised.  When Acting US Secretary of Education John King is holding onto state assessments as “excellence in education” and views opt-out as unacceptable, the Markell flavored Delaware DOE is sure to follow suit.  When is this going to end?  When will we stop relying on high-stakes tests to determine students and schools worthiness?  This changes nothing.  Continue to opt your child out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Delaware parents.  The testing window starts Wednesday.  Opt-out and refuse the test now!

Delaware DOE’s “Participation Rate Plan” Approved By US DOE, Don’t Mention Opt-Out At All

KingShining

The Delaware Department of Education submitted their participation rate plan to the United States Department of Education on 2/11/16.  Less than 24 hours later, the “plan” was approved by US DOE.  In my opinion, this is all smoke and mirrors.  The Smarter Balanced Assessment window opens next week.  I have no clue what opt-out numbers will be this year.  I know many of the same parents who opted their child out last year plan on doing it this year as well.  The big factor is going to be the replacement of the Smarter Balanced Assessment with the Common Core aligned SAT for high school juniors.  Many of the opt-outs last year were high school juniors.

I love how the Delaware DOE talks about how some communities balked about over-testing which resulted in the Assessment Inventory.  The ironic part is parental choice to have their kids not take the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  Parents didn’t opt their kids out of the SAT, AP exams, or any of the other tests: just Smarter Balanced.  Much of the over-testing discussion for lower grades was around the DCAS which was administered two to three times a year depending on how the student did on the first Spring test.

Okay Secretary Godowsky, the DOE will send letters to Superintendents and Principals if the numbers are too low.  What do you expect them to do at that point?  The parents have already opted their child out.  Do you expect them to threaten or cajole the parent into having their kid take the Smarter Balanced Assessment?  Bribe them?  Or even worse, have the kid take it without the parent’s knowledge?  That isn’t a plan!  The plain simple fact is the DOE cannot and should not make an opt-out plan.  It is something the DOE, school districts, and charter schools have no control over.  It’s a parental decision that should not be tampered with in any way!  And I love how you can’t use the participation rate penalty in the Delaware School Success Framework this year because the US DOE didn’t approve it because of the Every Student Succeeds Act!

But let’s look at the US DOE response:

Alrighty then, that’s a plan!  Cut the Title I administrative funds for the state assessment?  Yes!  Please do it!  Cut it all!  Bankrupt the federal funding for state assessments?  Sounds like a plan to me!  Delaware parents, opt your kids out TODAY!  Or better yet, REFUSE THE TEST DELAWARE!!!!  And while your at it, all American parents need to contact their US Representatives and Senators and tell them to vote NO on confirming Acting US Secretary of Education John King!

 

DOOM 2016 Strikes Delaware As Parent Rights Month Begins

finger-prints-optout-large

If it is February, DOOM will strike Delaware again this year.  It just so happens that I am declaring this month Parent Rights Month.  This works out perfectly because it is also Delaware Opt-Out Month!  This is the month where you should really opt your child out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  The test window begins at the beginning of March.  Different schools will take the test at some point between March and the first week of June.  These are the things you may hear.  Ignore them…

  1. We will get our funding cut if you opt your child out.
  2. Our school will get a bad rating.
  3. No.
  4. Don’t listen to that blogger.
  5. But House Bill 50 got vetoed and never passed.  You can’t opt out.
  6. It’s against the law to opt your child out.
  7. We should talk about this first.  Can we arrange for a meeting?
  8. Why don’t you give the test a chance.  It really isn’t that bad.
  9. Only I decide who opts out of the test.
  10. It is a civil rights violation to opt out.

Whatever the Principal or Superintendent says, ignore it.  If your child is in the Capital, Christina, or Red Clay school districts, they shouldn’t be giving you any flack at all.  Their boards already voted and said it is okay and they will not punish your child.  You have every right to opt your child out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  There is no law that says you can’t.  It is not against the law for you to opt out!!!!  Could the feds pull funding?  It is remotely possible.  But it is also an election year.  The feds can threaten all they want, but I would love to actually see them play that card.  It’s never happened before.  And No Child Left Behind officially ends at the end of July.  After that, states are allowed to determine their own opt out rules.

Tomorrow, I’m going to make a list of all the district and charter board meetings this month.  If you haven’t opted your child out before, here is how you do it.  Write a letter to the Principal of your child’s school.  State you do not want your child taking the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  As well, let the Principal know you want your child to receive instruction while the other kids are taking the test.  Hand deliver a copy to the principal.  As extra insurance, I would also write an acknowledgement letter and have the principal sign it.  If you can, bring a witness.  While these precautions may seem overboard, it is for your own protection as well as that of your child.  If the principal or primary school leader refuses to accept your information, yells at you, or acts in a way that in any way appears to be intimidating, please let me know.  My email is kevino3670@yahoo.com or you can join the Refuse The Test Delaware page on Facebook.

Tomorrow, I will put down every single district or charter school board meeting for February.  Others opted out at board meetings last year.  It sends a clear message to the decision makers.  These are public meetings.  You can sign up for public comment when you get to the board meeting.

February is also Parent Rights month.  Throughout the month, I will write articles on why your rights matter.  In most situations, a parent knows what is best for their child.  Our voices are ignored a lot when it comes to education.  We are treated as “guests” at many of our schools and that is unacceptable.  The Supreme Court recognized the rights of parents many times.  It is YOUR child, not the school’s child.  Some will tell you when your child walks into school, they are no longer your child but the school or the principal’s child.  This is completely false, and actually very damaging.  If you don’t want your child to take the Smarter Balanced Assessment, they can’t make your child take it.

I believe in my soul this test has no purpose other than to feed data to outside companies to which they will profit greatly off your child.  It won’t help your child.  It will cause them anxiety.  Some schools are attempting to coerce kids into taking the test by offering some type of reward.  A charter school is thinking of giving the top performers tickets to an amusement park.  What kind of message does that send?  Some children don’t do well on these types of tests no matter how smart they are.  Some children have disabilities.  How does that make a child feel?  Some who take this test will try very hard and they still won’t be proficient.  Do we reward the top and tell the others they have to watch as others get awards and rewards?  That does far more damage than anything else.  Don’t let your child be a pawn in these adult games.  Let your child be child.  Opt your child out as soon as possible.

*The above photograph was used on the Edubloggers.org website.

I Encourage & Want All Delaware Parents To Opt-Out Of Smarter Balanced Today!!!!

Here’s the bottom line.  Our legislators had a chance to make this something civil.  They jacked it up.  Our teacher unions and parent-teacher organizations had a chance to make a difference.  They jacked it up.  Most teachers can’t or won’t talk about opt-out for fear of getting fired.  Everyone can talk about supporting a parent’s right all they want, but unless they do something about it they are essentially empty words.  Common Core is bad for our kids.  The testing around it, no matter what they want to call it: Smarter Balanced, PARCC or some other meaningless acronym for that state, is bad for our kids.  This is the time when we as parents need to do what needs to be done: massive opt-out on an apocalyptic scale.  Not an apocalypse for us or our kids, but to bring down these corporations that want to brainwash our kids for an end goal of keeping our children down.

All this nonsense with “we support opt-out, but the national or state heads don’t” coming from these groups and organizations are not doing anyone any favors.  I don’t care who first came up with the idea of opting out.  Just do it.  Opt your kid out.  Even if he or she gets every single question right.  Because it does NOTHING for your child except fuel the Common Core engine taking over our schools.  This is a revolution.  If you aren’t behind it 100%, get the hell out of our way.  Because we will just move on to the next parent willing to listen.  We aren’t organized.  We don’t pay membership dues.  We spread the word.

Don’t go to all these education meetings and Legislative Hall thinking it will make a difference.  It is a waste of time.  The education reformers have dug their heels in and turned all the decision makers into their own puppets.  By a vast majority.  But we will expose every single last one of them.  And we will shame them and vote them out.  We will take over the school boards, slowly but surely.  We will watch legislation and support our state legislators who bring good bills to the table.  We won’t support those who ride on the coattails of our state embarrassment of a Governor and his posse of enablers.  Don’t bother with the News Journal.  Or Rodel.  Or Vision.  Or Student Success 2025.  Or the DOE.  But do watch what your schools are saying and doing.  Find out where the data is going.  Make FOIA your best friend.  If a school resists you, on anything, demand to know why and fight for your child.  Make sure ANYTHING you sign from your kid’s school is in the best interest of your child and doesn’t compromise their personal information or security.  Do NOT sign up for these ridiculous after-school SAIL clubs.  They want your kid’s medical information.  They want to burn your kid out for nine to ten hours a day instead of six or seven by promising their celebration of the arts your kid should be getting during the regular day.  Opt out of that one too!  And whatever you do, DON’T TAKE THE DAMN SURVEYS!!!!!!

Stop believing the lies that this is all about helping kids who are a minority or low-income.  Funny how they keep saying that and they keep getting richer.  That’s the truth.  I don’t care if Bill Gates himself comes to your house.  The man is a billionaire.  I don’t care how good the eclairs are at the Rodel-Vision fest.  Just by going to these ridiculous  parties feeds them.  “Oh look at me, I’m at Visionquest.  I’m somebody important.”  By going along to get along, you are allowing your child’s rights to be violated more and more everyday.  And for all the “how will we measure how our schools are doing?” crowd, they are either in on it or actually think these tests are a valid measurement.  They aren’t.  Not at all.  And shame on all these Civil Rights groups.  You’ve been paid off by Gates and the gang.  You do a disservice to the very children you pretend to represent.

Don’t support opt-out because of teacher evaluations.  If the reformers want them gone, they will find a way to make it happen.  But if their evaluations should not include standardized testing scores, the reformers will say “Hey, look what we did” while they continue to raid and plunder our schools and get your kid’s data.  Don’t fall for their traps.  They set them all the time, and actually think they are being crafty.  I can see them coming a mile away.  I knew House Bill 50 wasn’t going to pass.  I knew our legislators would cave.  They think they are so smart, but they are cowards.

If you need more information about how to opt-out, please go to https://www.facebook.com/groups/387537074787803/ and ask any parent.  If anyone tries to talk you out of it, let me know and they are out of the group.  This doesn’t mean someone giving you practical advice about how to do it or who to talk to will get the boot, but if someone says “You shouldn’t opt out cause of…”, I will personally kick them to the curb.  This is a Refuse The Test page, not a debate club.

My problem was I thought having the support of these different groups would help the cause, and for that I apologize.  We don’t need them.  We just need to refuse.  You can help by spreading the word.  Tell everyone you talk to about opt-out.  Tell them why they need to do it whether they realize it or not.  Tell them, yeah, it’s a choice, but make the right one for your kid.  Do be slightly obnoxious about it.  Don’t let people try to word-beat you with reasons why these tests are good.  Do your research.  Do your own homework.  And be a parent your kid can be proud of.  And if you are a charter parent, you’re going to have work three times as hard to get parents to opt out their kids.  But once you get one, and they get one, and so on, you got a movement at a school.  Do it one parent at a time, and keep doing it, and make sure they do.  And Sussex parents, boy oh boy do they need to get the word!  Big time.

And if anyone says “Don’t listen to that Kevin guy, that blogger guy, he doesn’t know what he’s talking about, he’s just a confused guy, he doesn’t know how to get along with people, don’t align with him, he’s angry, he’s paranoid,” they are probably right.  I am confused why grown adults would allow this kind of crap into our schools.  Sometimes I don’t know what I am talking about cause I try to talk in their language with all their big acronyms and their big reformer words.  Sorry, I don’t know how to get along with the enablers of those who would mess up education for our kids.  They are monsters in my mind.  Sure I’m angry.  I’m pissed off.  These are our kids.  I have good cause to be paranoid and you should too!

While our legislators sit around for the next five and a half months trying to figure out how to tackle “the opt-out issue”, I’ll be telling everyone “Opt Out Now”.  Screw their committee meetings and their debates.  If they don’t get it by now, they are NEVER going to get it.  Or they belong to Education Inc.  I still love some of them, but let’s face it, they are few and far between.  And even though the vast majority of people in the know love them, the votes rule the day in Dover.  So let’s put them all in a position of thinking “Damn, we should have allowed HB50 to go through!”  For the bills I support, you will know it.  For those I don’t, you’ll know it.

I’m not a leader.  I’m a messenger.  Let’s get that straight.  I’m not going to host opt-out town halls or come to your kid’s school to be an Opt-Out Advocate.  If you want me to make some noise, I sure as hell will.  I have no qualms about emailing any son of a bitch that pressures you about opt-out and I will make it public with your permission.  Did it before and I’ll do it again.  But I have too much going on to start travelling all over the place.  No offense.  If I plan a rally again, it will be during a time when ALL parents can try to make it and not when our bone-headed education leaders want us to.  I would love to do a march.  Let me know your thoughts and ideas.  No leaders.  No meetings.  Just grass-roots making it happen parents.  We don’t organize.  We refuse.  Join the Refuse The Test Facebook page in the link above and let’s start making some serious noise.

 

*To clarify something in the last paragraph.  After reading what I wrote about rallies and “bone-headed education leaders”, the thought was regarding the State Board of Education who finds the time to hold meetings at the most inconvenient time possible for parents and teachers.  This was NOT in reference to the Delaware PTA Sponsored rally last week to support the override of the veto.

If You Want To Opt Your Child Out Of The Smarter Balanced Assessment, Just Do It! And Join A Support Group!

12310441_1153307111364477_821410740697674993_n

I absolutely agree.  Please join any of the Delaware District Opt-Out groups on Facebook, or join Refuse The Test Delaware, the central hub for parents to meet and discuss opt-out.  All are welcome, unless you are a troll.  We don’t want you.  Go away.  We need to start gearing up for opt-out season, starting soon at a test and punish school near you.  The test is brought to Delaware by the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium and about 500 other companies that are making a KILLING in profits off our kids.  A KILLING!!!!

Just remember, opt-out is allowed and don’t let anyone tell you different.  If someone tells you that, let me know.  I will set them straight!  Worried about a confrontation?  Don’t worry.  They all know me. 🙂

Today is the day to opt your child out if you haven’t already.  Just email your child’s school principal, and let him/her know you don’t want your child to take the Smarter Balanced Assessment and you expect your child to receive instruction.  Also let the principal know this is your final decision.  If the school sends you a letter asking you to sign something about understanding Delaware law concerning opt-out, IGNORE IT.  But certainly email it to me at kevino3670@yahoo.com and I will gladly pop it up on here.  Other schools have been through this with me.  One district did the same stunt two years in a row!  You are not alone.  There are others who feel the same way you do.  I also understand many of you are just itching for the legislators to override Governor Markell’s veto of House Bill 50.  You don’t need that, but it will stop the bullying and intimidating by our school districts.  And it would also throw a big monkey wrench in the Delaware Department of Education, the State Board of Education, and Governor Markell’s harsh opt-out penalties they filed with the US Department of Education.  The US DOE still hasn’t approved them, and probably won’t until sometime next year, if they approve them at all!

If you are worried about someone watching you at this time of year, don’t worry because Santa Claus supports opt-out!!!

As well, just to be on the safe side, please email your state legislators in the House and Senate to let them know you want them to override Governor Markell’s veto of House Bill 50.  Or you can email them ALL!  They love to hear from Delaware citizens.  You can look up your State Representatives here and your State Senators here.

If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to me!  Thank you!

Kevin Ohlandt

Harris.McDowell@state.de.us MargaretRose.Henry@state.de.us robert.marshall@state.de.us greg.lavelle@state.de.us catherine.cloutier@state.de.us Ernesto.Lopez@state.de.us Patricia.Blevins@state.de.us David.Sokola@state.de.us Karen.Peterson@state.de.us bethany.hall-long@state.de.us Bryan.Townsend@state.de.us Nicole.Poore@state.de.us David.McBride@state.de.us bruce.ennis@state.de.us Dave.Lawson@state.de.us senator-colin@prodigy.net brian.bushweller@state.de.us gsimpson@udel.edu Brian.Pettyjohn@state.de.us Gerald.Hocker@state.de.us Bryant.Richardson@state.de.us Charles.Potter@state.de.us StephanieT.Bolden@state.de.us helene.keeley@state.de.us gerald.brady@state.de.us melanie.g.smith@state.de.us debra.heffernan@state.de.us Bryon.Short@state.de.us Quinton.Johnson@state.de.us Kevin.Hensley@state.de.us sean.matthews@state.de.us jeff.spiegelman@state.de.us Deborah.Hudson@state.de.us john.l.mitchell@state.de.us Peter.Schwartzkopf@state.de.us Valerie.Longhurst@state.de.us jj.johnson@state.de.us Michael.Mulrooney@state.de.us kimberly.williams@state.de.us Steve.Smyk@state.de.us Michael.Ramone@state.de.us joseph.miro@state.de.us paul.baumbach@state.de.us Edward.Osienski@state.de.us john.kowalko@state.de.us John.Viola@state.de.us Earl.Jaques@state.de.us william.carson@state.de.us trey.paradee@state.de.us bobby.outten@state.de.us Sean.Lynn@state.de.us andria.bennett@state.de.us jack.peterman@state.de.us Lyndon.Yearick@state.de.us David.L.Wilson@state.de.us Harvey.Kenton@state.de.us Ruth.BriggsKing@state.de.us Ronald.Gray@state.de.us Daniel.Short@state.de.us Timothy.Dukes@state.de.us Richard.G.Collins@state.de.us David.Bentz@state.de.us

 

Kids Don’t Need Rigor & Grit These Days…They Need ’80s Music!

We hear it all the time: “In order for kids to be college and career ready, they need to use rigor and grit.”  No they don’t.  They need the fighting anthems of the 1980s.  The music nowadays just doesn’t carry that “stir your soul” kind of feeling like we got way back when.  Take this for example:

Just once in his life a man has his time
And my time is now, and I’m coming alive

I can hear the music playin’, I can see the banners fly
Feel like you’re back again, and hope ridin’ high
Gonna be your man in motion, all I need is a pair of wheels
Take me where the future’s lyin’, St. Elmo’s fire

I can see a new horizon underneath the blazin’ sky
I’ll be where the eagle’s flying higher and higher
Gonna be your man in motion, all I need is a pair of wheels
Take me where the future’s lyin’, St. Elmo’s fire

The title track by John Parr from the 1985 movie, St. Elmo’s Fire, is all about the spirit kids needed thirty years ago.  There is all this talk about “growth”, but the people saying that fail to realize these kids are growing up all by themselves.  True growth comes from within.  Not from a standardized test.  Even Dexy’s Midnight Runners knew this, with their one-hot wonder Come On Eileen:

These people round here
Wear beaten down eyes sunk in smoke dried faces;
So resigned to what their fate is
But not us, no never, no not us, no never
We are far too young and clever

Now people don’t smoke like they did back in 1983, but we see a lot of beat down eyes sunk in faces.  I usually see them at the Delaware State Board of Education meetings.  Some of the music back then can actually flip on itself, and apply to the people sitting at that table down in the Townsend Building in Dover:

What you gonna do when things go wrong?
What you gonna do when it all cracks up?
What you gonna do when the love burns down?
What you gonna do when the flames go up?

Who is gonna come and turn the tide?
What’s it gonna take to make a dream survive?
Who’s got the touch to calm the storm inside?
Don’t say goodbye, don’t say goodbye
In the final seconds who’s gonna save you?

Alive and Kicking

Simple Minds indeed!  Whereas students are Alive and Kicking, just like the kids were in 1985, our State Board needs to wake up!  Kids have way too much pressure nowadays.  So did Queen and David Bowie back in 1982, but they found a way to turn into one of the best songs ever written!

Insanity laughs under pressure we’re breaking
Can’t we give ourselves one more chance
Why can’t we give love that one more chance
Why can’t we give love give love give love give love
Give love give love give love give love give love
‘Cause love’s such an old fashioned word
And love dares you to care for
The people on the (People on streets) edge of the night
And love (People on streets) dares you to change our way of
Caring about ourselves
This is our last dance
This is our last dance
This is ourselves
Under pressure
Under pressure
Pressure

The pressure kids are under these days between just growing up, and starting in Kindergarten, this need to constantly improve under the lens of proficiency is sheer madness!  Kids need Dreams:

So baby, dry your eyes, save all the tears you’ve cried
Oh, that’s what dreams are made of
Oh baby, we belong in a world that must be strong
Oh, that’s what dreams are made of

And in the end on dreams we will depend
‘Cause that’s what love is made

How is today’s youth going to be able to burst into this Common Core world and be able to strategically think on their own if they are programmed to think the same as everyone else?  They need to aspire to their own dreams.  Not the ones designed to make education reformers filthy rich.  I can picture Jack Markell and Paul Herdman playing this next song when they were planning their 20 year vision ten years ago:

You can tell I’m educated, I studied at the Sorbonne
Doctored in mathematics, I could have been a don
I can program a computer, choose the perfect time
If you’ve got the inclination, I have got the crime

Oh, there’s a lot of opportunities
If you know when to take them, you know?
There’s a lot of opportunities
If there aren’t, you can make them
Make or break them

Yeah, you’re definitely trying to break them.  Especially with your latest Annual Measurable Objectives that are NEVER going to be met.  Kids need real heroes nowadays.  They need someone like Martin Luther King to rise them out of the high-stakes testing stupor as U2 glorified him like no other back in 1984:

One man come in the name of love
One man come and go
One man come he to justify
One man to overthrow

In the name of love
What more in the name of love
In the name of love
What more in the name of love

But instead, Moms and Dads coming home from work dread going over the latest batch of Common Core math homework.  I think the Police predicted the future with Synchronicity II:

Daddy grips the wheel and stares alone into the distance
He knows that something somewhere has to break
He sees the family home now, looming in his headlights
The pain upstairs that makes his eyeballs ache
Many miles away there’s a shadow on the door
Of a cottage on the shore
Of a dark Scottish lake

Even more frightening is the fear kids must have when they think about actually taking the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  It is pounded into them from day one, and it has to be a lot like the things that scared us when we were kids.  They probably have nightmares and start to plan how they can get out of it.  Maybe a fever?  Are they feeling Hot Hot Hot?  The Cure thought so:

Hey, hey, hey
Yes, I’m jumping like a jumping jack
I’m dancing, screaming, itching, squealing
Fevered, feeling, hot, hot, hot

Children and teenagers instinctively know when something isn’t right.  They need to question things, just as parents need to as well.  Even the German band Alphaville called it thirty years before the Smarter Balanced Assessment:

Can you imagine when this race is won?
Turn our golden faces into the sun,
Praising our leaders, we’re getting in tune
The music’s played by the, the madman.

Forever young,
I want to be forever young.
Do you really want to live forever?
Forever, and ever

The generation that belongs to this toxic testing in education is in severe psychological danger.  Longer hours at school, being taught to a test that is absolutely horrible, and parents feeling intimidated by schools.  They want to do the right thing, but some are too frightened of the consequences for their kids.  The cold hard reality is this: there are no consequences for their children except the imaginary ones the Delaware DOE and Governor Markell want to impose on them.  But no song exemplifies the glory of the ’80s more than the original Vision song: Journey’s Only The Young!

They’re seein’ through the promises
And all the lies they dare to tell
Is it heaven or hell?
They know very well

Only the young can say
They’re free to fly away
Sharing the same desire
Burnin’ like wildfire

The only way to help the children of today be unique and individual is to say NO!  Parents need to rise.  The most frightening part is that many of the people making the decisions nowadays are the same ones who used to be unique individuals thirty years ago.  Now, they are just common.  The same.  Don’t let your child be the same.  Opt your child out today.  Let your young children play and love them with everything you are.  Help them learn at their own pace and not within the confines of proficiency models and growth methodology.  Don’t let their youth drift by at the hands of these education monsters.

Read more: John Parr – St. Elmo’s Fire (man In Motion) Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Read more: Dexys Midnight Runners – Come On Eileen Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Read more: Simple Minds – Alive And Kicking Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Read more: Queen – Under Pressure Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Read more: Van Halen – Dreams Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Read more: Pet Shop Boys – Opportunities (let’s Make Lots Of Money) Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Read more: U2 – Pride (in The Name Of Love) Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Read more: The Police – Synchronicity Ii Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Read more: The Cure – Hot Hot Hot Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Read more: Alphaville – Forever Young Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Read more: Journey – Only The Young Lyrics | MetroLyrics

 

State Board Passes Opt-Out Penalty Against Schools

The Delaware State Board of Education just passed the Delaware School Success Framework with the opt-out penalty multiplier included.  This is a very sad day in Delaware: for students, parents, schools, educators, and citizens.  I feel sad for all the students who are going to be pressured non-stop to perform well on this test.  I feel sad for the parents who are going to face an enormous amount of pressure against opting out.  I feel sad for Delaware.  This is your legacy Governor Markell.  Shame on you.

The vote passed with four yes votes: Gray, Heffernan, Coverdale, and Rutt.  Bunting abstained.  Melendez and Whitaker were absent.  Can’t blame them, wouldn’t want this vote showing.

This fight has just begun.  The DOE obviously wants a war with parents, and they just got it.

An Open Challenge To Governor Markell, Secretary Godowsky & DOE Regarding Opt-Out

I just sent Governor Markell and the DOE an email with a request for the final Accountability Framework Working Group meeting on Tuesday at 10am.  Anything less than this will not be sufficient for myself and the growing number of parents who will exercise their parental rights to opt their child out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment.

From: Kevin Ohlandt <kevino3670@yahoo.com>
To:
Godowsky Steven (K12) <steven.godowsky@doe.k12.de.us>; Schwinn Penny <penny.schwinn@doe.k12.de.us>; Reyna Ryan <ryan.reyna@doe.k12.de.us>; Markell Jack <jack.markell@state.de.us>; O’Mara Lindsay (Governor) <lindsay.omara@state.de.us>
Sent:
Friday, November 13, 2015 9:53 AM
Subject:
AFWG Meeting on 11/17

Good Morning Dr. Godowsky, Dr. Schwinn and Mr. Reyna,
I understand there is to be another Accountability Framework Working Group on 11/17/15 at 10am in the Cabinet Room at the Townshend Building in Dover.  I have to admit I was taken aback at Dr. Godowsky’s suggestion last week at the Delaware State Board of Education Retreat that he was not going to accept the AFWG’s recommendations for the Delaware School Success Framework.
What I am asking of the three of you for Tuesday’s meetings is actual documentation, on United States Department of Education letterhead, why Delaware would have to impose the harsh opt-out penalties based on US Congressionally approved laws and regulations.  I’m sorry, but hearing from Dr. Schwinn vocally about what US DOE requires is not enough.  I want to see, in writing, why this is necessary.  Vague letters from an employee no longer at US DOE, and non-regulatory guidance from US DOE is not sufficient.  Not for something this big.  The letter from US DOE provided to then Secretary Murphy places the burden of opt-out on schools, meaning they cannot pick students to opt out.  The law absolutely says nothing in regards to parental opt-out.  While I agree schools should not make that choice as some have done in the past, it is fundamentally, morally, and legally wrong to infer that parents can not opt their child out of the state assessment.
I am writing this on behalf of all the parents who have either already opted their child out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment, those who will be doing so, and those who have intimidation and what amounts to bullying tactics perpetrated on them by schools in Delaware who are not honoring their parental rights which are the underpinnings of our society.  Parents should not live in fear about consequences for a school if they choose to exercise their fundamental and Constitutional rights, as established by the U.S. Supreme Court on many occasions.
If this is a mandate from Delaware Governor Jack Markell, I would challenge him to come to this meeting in person to make clear his justification and reasoning for this. If he is unable to attend, then I would like him to craft a letter on State of Delaware Governor letterhead with a legal basis for this mandate.
To not honor parental rights and to punish schools for a parental decision is a slap in the face to parents and schools.  If the intention is to punish schools for parental decisions, this is abhorrent and a disgrace.
Thank you,
Kevin Ohlandt,
on behalf of the Opt-Out Parents of Delaware

Are Brandywine’s Mark Holodick & The News Journal Singing A New Song On Smarter Balanced & Opt-Out?

The Superintendents of the Wilmington schools, Red Clay, Christina, Colonial and Brandywine, held an education forum for WDEL last night.  Discussing the issues of Wilmington education, the subject of the state assessment came up.  What was very interesting was Brandywine Superintendent Dr. Mark Holodick’s response to this issue.  He told WDEL’s Shana O’Malley:

Brandywine superintendent Dr. Mark Holodick added that they’re starting to see pushback from those who are frustrated and unhappy with state standardized testing.

“The length of the state assessment, how often it’s being given, combined with this era of high stakes accountability for both educators and school ratings and rankings, I think it has reached a tipping point,” he said.

I gave Holodick a lot of heat earlier in the year for his views on opt-out procedures.  He seemed to think only he could decide who takes the test and who doesn’t.  Opt-out isn’t about someone giving permission.  It’s about honoring a parent’s right and not giving any grief about it.  Even Acting Christina Superintendent Bob Andrzejewski jumped on the issue.

“For example, the state test that we give, I think cost us about $6 million,” said Dr. Robert Andrzejewski, acting superintendent for the Christina School District. “What if we decided to go back to a system where we test grades three, five, eight and ten like we used to and maybe cut the testing cost in half. There are other priorities like that.”

Or how about we just get rid of the Smarter Balanced and high-stakes testing environment altogether Bob A?  That would solve that problem!

Even the News Journal Editorial staff jumped on this issue this morning.

If that’s the case, why can’t Delaware take a proactive stance and focus not on a child’s scores, but on the child herself? If the state is so concerned with schools trying to game the system, then the system is broken and our energy should be spent on fixing it, not simply policing it.

The devil is in the details with that one.  If it means personalized learning where one students gets ahead faster and another stays behind, no thanks!  And how much will it cost to fix it?  We all know fixing anything in education in Delaware means the DOE sends tons of money to outside companies to “fix” what they don’t understand.  And if it’s all tied to the Delaware School Success Framework, the DOE’s latest and not greatest accountability nightmare, it still doesn’t matter.  We will see what kind of people the Delaware State Board of Education really are when they vote on Regulation 103 which makes this insane school report card legal.  Even the News Journal seems to agree on that one:

Though Gov. Jack Markell vetoed opt-out legislation this summer, it’s safe to assume Smarter Balance will not see 100 percent student participation this school year. And if the General Assembly overrides Markell’s veto when it returns to session, then the entire scorecard concept is out the window.

House Bill 50 is all about parental rights in terms of how they want their child to be educated.  It is nothing more than that.  Something the News Journal is finally coming around to by giving it their full support:

In the meantime, parents, more than anybody else, deserve to have a say in how their kids are educated. Let’s honor that right.

It would have really helped if they came out with that opinion eight months ago!  Why the sudden shift in thinking on the Smarter Balanced Assessment?  I think it is becoming more apparent than ever that Governor Markell is indeed a lame-duck at this point and everyone is sick to death of hearing about his education reform ideas.  Everyone is starting to look towards the future and essentially undoing a lot of what Jack wrought on the First State.  Folks are sick and tired of the accountability behemoth the DOE has become and they want it to stop.  Their stupid score card penalties are not required, and I have not heard anyone say “Oh, that’s a great idea!”  The DOE is a hot mess, and if they want to play the accountability game, that starts with them!  In the meantime, keep opting your kid out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment and educate other parents of their rights!

Meanwhile, as all the adults keep tinkering around with education, it is the students who suffer the most.  As Dr. Holodick told WDEL:

“I think we have an opportune time to ask some really hard questions about what we have created regarding the educational landscape in Delaware,” added Holodick.

We are ALWAYS asking the really hard questions Mark.  The time to stop asking and start doing has to begin now before this generation of students loses it all to the high-stakes testing proficiency machine.

Secretary Godowsky Stabs Schools And Parents In The Back With His Cowardly Move

At the State Board of Education Fall Retreat today in Dewey Beach, Dr. Steven Godowsky made his first big move as Delaware Secretary of Education, and it was not a good one.  I have been writing the past couple months about the Accountability Framework Working Group and the Delaware School Success Framework.  At their last meeting in early October, the group unanimously agreed not to have opt-out penalties where the proficiency rate of a school was multiplied by their participation rate for the school report card.  They agreed to a lesser penalty whereby the school would have to write a report about how to improve the participation rate and no school could earn a status of “reward” school if their participation rate fell below the 95% mark.

Today, Dr. Steven Godowsky undid all the work this group did, their 14 months of meetings and discussion, and overrode their recommendations.  That’s right, the same guy who told the New Castle County school boards at their  combined school board breakfast just two weeks ago:

“It’s not a final decision, but it looks like from all levels of the department…that harsh sanctions will not carry the day,” he said. “There will be minimum sanctions that are required.”

So what made him override this?  Looks pretty easy to me: he got confirmed by the Delaware Senate last week.  If I had to guess, if he came across as the tough guy the Senate would have pounded him.  I never thought I would say this, but thank you to Senators Greg Lavelle and Colin Bonini for saying no to this guy getting confirmed.  All his lies about being more transparent and communicating better with the public.  He just gave the middle finger to the public school system and parents in Delaware by doing this.

Godowsky is a water carrier for Governor Markell and his buddies at Rodel.  He is NOT his own man, and he is a coward.  He met with members of the Delaware Senate before his confirmation to talk about the changes he wants in the DOE.  He will make no changes without Jack Markell whispering in his ear, I can guarantee that!  This jacked up move of his assures the State Board of Education will vote on this and pass Regulation 103 which will put this into the books at their November 19th meeting.  And now schools will be coming up with even more nonsense concerning opt-out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment.

Delaware Parents: Just refuse the test now.  Do not lie down and let this happen.  Let’s beat New York’s 20% opt-out rate, and get it up to 50%, or higher!  The only way this cockamamie test is going to go away is unless we MAKE it happen.  That’s right, We The People!  I was starting to believe Godowsky’s line of crap about making things better.  I know he has his defenders, and I’m okay with the heat I’m about to get, but this man is a liar!  He is worse than Mark Murphy, because he does have the experience, and he is still okay with putting the screws to the public school system.  And he used to run a few of them!

If the 148th General Assembly doesn’t override the House Bill 50 veto by the equally cowardly Governor, there is going to be hell to pay for those who say no.  And if the leaders don’t even let it get to a vote, they will NOT be re-elected.  I will make damn sure of that!  We have all been victims of Jack Markell for far too long, and now he is on the cusp of completely destroying parental rights and the voice of educators.  The State Board is in Markell’s pocket just as much as Godowsky.  So we need to strike NOW!

Email your legislators today and start pounding the State Board of Education right away.

Las Americas Aspiras Lies To Parents About Opt-Out & Federal Funding Cuts

Unbelievable.  Just when I thought I had seen it all.  Las Americas Aspiras has never been on my radar for anything.  Tonight I learned their Head of School, Margie Lopez Waite, is telling parents through their PTO organization the school would lose ALL federal funding if they don’t hit the 95% participation rate for the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  This is a complete lie, and she knows it.  Need proof?  Here it is:

lasamericasaspiras

For parents of children who go to this school.  If you want to opt your child out, go ahead and opt them out.  200,000 students opted out in New York last Spring.  Do you know  how much Federal funding got cut from those schools? Zero.  Not one penny.  Schools are obligated to make sure THEY do not opt kids out.  There is absolutely nothing in the law that states parents cannot opt their child out.  It is your Constitutional right.  This is a bullying tactic by charter schools and certain school districts in Delaware.  The DOE tried this last Spring, and I called them out on it.  Governor Markell has tried this as well.  Didn’t work then either.  Now what a charter may lose if too many students opt-out is bragging rights.  That’s right, your child has become not only a victim of standardized testing madness, but also bragging rights. Newark Charter School sent out an email within a day after the Smarter Balanced results came out about how great they are.

Delaware parents, especially those who have students in charters, a school cannot kick your child out if you opt them out.  They cannot make your child take the test.  Anything they do as a result is retaliation.  Which you have many legal rights to protect you and your child.  Let them say no.  Let them tell you why you can’t opt your child out.  But if you want your child to be opted out, do it.  Stand your ground and educate other parents about their rights.  As well, contact your legislators to override Governor Markell’s veto of House Bill 50 so our schools don’t spread lies like this and bully parents into having their kids take a test they don’t want their child taking.

This test has NO bearing whatsoever on your child.  It is not counted for retention.  A school cannot legally make your child go to summer school if you opt them out or your child does bad on it.  They cannot make your child spend Spring Break on test prep.  If they are telling you this, they are way out of line.  Let your child be a child.  Not a guinea pig.  Let them enjoy their summer and Spring Break.  They were designed for that purpose!  But whatever you do, do not let ignorant school leaders tell you what you can and cannot do for your own child.  Shame on them!  They can and should know better.  What message is that sending about your school leadership capabilities if you are blatantly lying to parents?  REFUSE THE TEST!

Updated, 8:51pm: I just sent the following email to Margie Lopez-Waite at Las Americas Aspiras-

Opt-Out and Truth

From: Kevin Ohlandt <kevino3670@yahoo.com>
To:
“margie.lopezwaite@laaa.k12.de.us” <margie.lopezwaite@laaa.k12.de.us>
Sent:
Tuesday, November 3, 2015 8:40 PM
Subject:
Opt-Out and Truth

Good evening Miss Lopez-Waite,
I wanted to contact you in regards to the horrible lies parents of children who attend your school are being told in regards to opt-out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  As you know, Federal funding threats have NEVER been used against schools for not meeting the 95% participation rate for state assessments.  The law is written so that schools do not opt-out kids, not parents. 
Please contact all your parents and let them know the truth about this so they can make informed decisions without complete falsehoods.  I have already written about this tonight on Exceptional Delaware, but to ensure all parents know the truth, please send out a reply to the school’s PTO generated email that went out to all parents.  Thank you.
Respectfully,
Kevin Ohlandt
Exceptional Delaware

National Letter From State Coalitions To Halt ESEA Reauthorization Under Obama Administration Includes Delaware Representation

Today, a coalition of advocates from nearly every state in the USA joined together to write a letter asking the United States Congress to suspend committee meetings on the ESEA Reauthorization until a new President is elected.  Delaware is included in this, as Refuse The Test Delaware and Delaware Against Common Core.  Please read the document below to see why so many are opposed to this particular ESEA Reauthorization.

Campus Community School Lays Down The Law On Opt-Out & States All Kids Must Participate In Standardized Testing

It is the height of arrogance to come up with a board policy that strikes at the heart of parental rights.  Especially for a school that goes by “choice theory”.  Campus Community School, a charter school in Dover, wrote a policy which explicitly states all students must participate in the Delaware State Standardized Assessment.  Currently, this is the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  I know Campus Community had one opt-out.  What this policy does not explicitly state is what happens if a student does not participate.  To me, that is just bullying and intimidation if you are going to throw that out there like that.  I heard from people that it would be a bad time to opt their kid out because of their charter renewal.  I don’t have much sympathy for that statement.

When are these schools going to learn that if a parent does not want their child taking this test, and they have the courage and strength to opt their child out, no matter what, there is nothing they can do to stop them.  If people in Delaware thought opt-out was big last year, just wait and see what happens next Spring.  You can’t imagine…

In the meantime, take a look at the anti-opt-out measure this school has taken.  All I can say is good luck with that!  Later today, this school faces the Charter School Accountability Committee at the Delaware DOE for their charter renewal.  I’m sure they will get kudos from them for their strong stance against parent opt-out…

The Data Consortium That Allows Student Information To Be Shared With Hundreds Of Companies & Universities Globally

One picture. Nine cross-state collaborations. And a company that houses all of the big testing companies and many of the big education reform players as well as some unusual shockers. What in God’s name has the DOE done now? What the hell is “student interventions product, data tagging” and all this other nonsense? Now I can see why Delaware Senator David Sokola and Attorney General Matt Denn were in such a huge rush to get Senate Bill 79 passed. But the original legislation was not what passed. It was the SS1 amendment that was the true goal. Have to say I’m very disappointed Delaware seems to think it can share student data with whoever the hell they want.

And then there is this very disturbing document, taken from Colorado’s Statewide Longitudinal Data System Grant application for a potential award from the US Department of Education for this year:

12088161_1631093473798876_7639148365207500198_n

And what is this, in the July 2015 newsletter from the CCSSO website:

Privacy Workgroup

The privacy workgroup would like to welcome Pat Bush from Delaware as the newest CIO-lead for the group. He joins current CIO leads- Melinda Maddox from Alabama and Marcia Bohannon from Colorado. The leads are meeting this month to continue discussions around the development of a privacy toolkit for SEA leadership and will also identify priority areas for the workgroup to focus on during the new program year.  

For those who may not be familiar with CCSSO and SEA, CCSSO is the Council of Chief State School Officers and SEA stands for State Educational Agencies which in Delaware is the Department of Education. Why would the DOE need a privacy “toolkit”?

Back to Senate Bill 79 w/SS1.  This bill was rushed through the 148th General Assembly by Senator David Sokola under the hand of Delaware Attorney General Matt Denn.  Below is the lobbying activity on this one bill:

SS 1 FOR SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 8/11/2015 Robert L. Byrd Delaware Business Roundtable Education Committee, Inc.
SS 1 FOR SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 7/6/2015 Cheryl Heiks Google
SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 7/6/2015 Cheryl Heiks Google
SS 1 FOR SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 7/2/2015 Melissa Hopkins Rodel Foundation of Delaware
SS 1 FOR SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 6/22/2015 Rhett Ruggerio Delaware Charter School Network
SS 1 FOR SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 6/22/2015 Jordan Seemans Delaware Charter School Network
SS 1 FOR SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 6/19/2015 Kimberly B. Gomes Delaware Business Roundtable Education Committee, Inc.
SS 1 FOR SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 6/19/2015 Kimberly B. Gomes Amazon
SS 1 FOR SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 6/19/2015 Robert L. Byrd Amazon
SS 1 FOR SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 6/19/2015 Rebecca Byrd Delaware Business Roundtable Education Committee, Inc.
SS 1 FOR SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 6/19/2015 Rebecca Byrd Amazon
SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 6/19/2015 Rebecca Byrd Amazon
SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 6/17/2015 Ron Barnes Google Inc.
SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 6/15/2015 Melissa Hopkins Rodel Foundation of Delaware
SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 6/15/2015 Paul Herdman Rodel Foundation of Delaware
SS 1 FOR SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 6/11/2015 Christopher V. DiPietro MICROSOFT CORPORATION
SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 6/3/2015 Christopher V. DiPietro MICROSOFT CORPORATION
SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 5/18/2015 Deborah Hamilton Google
SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 5/12/2015 Scott Ward MICROSOFT CORPORATION
SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 5/12/2015 Jeremy Kudon MICROSOFT CORPORATION
SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 5/5/2015 Rebecca Byrd Delaware Business Roundtable Education Committee, Inc.
SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 5/5/2015 Kimberly B. Gomes Delaware Business Roundtable Education Committee, Inc.
SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 5/5/2015 Robert L. Byrd Verizon Delaware LLC
SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 5/5/2015 Robert L. Byrd Delaware Business Roundtable Education Committee, Inc.
SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 5/5/2015 Robert L. Byrd Amazon
SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 5/5/2015 Kim Willson Delaware Charter School Network
SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 5/5/2015 Rhett Ruggerio Delaware Charter School Network
SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 5/5/2015 Jordan Seemans Delaware Charter School Network
SS 1 FOR SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 8/11/2015 Robert L. Byrd Delaware Business Roundtable Education Committee, Inc.
SS 1 FOR SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 7/6/2015 Cheryl Heiks Google
SS 1 FOR SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 7/2/2015 Melissa Hopkins Rodel Foundation of Delaware
SS 1 FOR SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 6/22/2015 Rhett Ruggerio Delaware Charter School Network
SS 1 FOR SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 6/22/2015 Jordan Seemans Delaware Charter School Network
SS 1 FOR SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 6/19/2015 Kimberly B. Gomes Delaware Business Roundtable Education Committee, Inc.
SS 1 FOR SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 6/19/2015 Kimberly B. Gomes Amazon
SS 1 FOR SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 6/19/2015 Robert L. Byrd Amazon
SS 1 FOR SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 6/19/2015 Rebecca Byrd Delaware Business Roundtable Education Committee, Inc.
SS 1 FOR SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 6/19/2015 Rebecca Byrd Amazon
SS 1 FOR SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 6/11/2015 Christopher V. DiPietro MICROSOFT CORPORATION

To anyone who thinks Senator Sokola is trustworthy and is looking out for kids, think again.  But Attorney General Matt Denn’s involvement and the imperative rush to get this through…that’s a headscratcher.  Similar bills went through in other states, and nearly all of them had the same amendments added and the lobbyists swarmed in to make sure the following language was added, which is taken from the final legislation for Senate Bill 79:

(6) Nothing in this subsection prohibits an operator from using student data for any of the following:

a. Maintaining, delivering, supporting, evaluating, or diagnosing the operator’s Internet website, online or cloud computing service, online application, or mobile application.

b. Adaptive learning or customized student learning purposes.

(7) Nothing in this subsection prohibits an operator from using or sharing aggregate student data or de-identified student data for any of the following:

a. The development and improvement of the operator’s Internet website, online or cloud computing service, online application, or mobile application, or other educational Internet websites, online or cloud computing services, online applications, or mobile applications.

b. Within other Internet websites, online or cloud computing services, online applications, or mobile applications owned by the operator, and intended for school district, school, or student use, to evaluate and improve educational products or services intended for school district, school, or student use.

c. To demonstrate the effectiveness of the operator’s products or services, including their marketing.

When are Governor Markell and the Delaware DOE going to stop allowing all this data sharing?  Not anytime soon.  And don’t think this is just Delaware.  A company called IMS Global Learning Consortium has ALL the major players involved.  They are an umbrella company for data to be shared between all of these companies, with companies that do business with the Delaware DOE and two Delaware School Districts bolded for emphasis:

Contributing Members

Act, American Institutes for Research, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Blackboard, California State University, Data Recognition Corporation, ETS, EduCause, Harvard Business Publishing, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, IBM, Indian River School District, Intel, Learning.com, Lumen, McGraw Hill Education, Measured Progress, MediaCore, Microsoft, National Student Clearinghouse, Northwest Evaluation Association, Pacific Metrics Corporation, PARCC, Pearson, Public Consulting Group, Qualcomm Education Inc., Questar, Samsung, Schoology, Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium and numerous other companies and universities in the United States and around the world.

Affiliates

ACE Learning, College Board, Google, Red Clay Consolidated School District, Scantron, Scholastic, SunGard K-12 Education (houses Delaware e-school and IEP Plus), WestEd and many more.

And then they have hundreds of Alliance Participants. You can see what all the members get for their dues to IMS.  Pretty extensive list.

When you are a member, you get shared access of the whole network.  And which school district does the DOE praise the most and just had an administrator from that district join the State Board of Education? Indian River. And what district will be the recipient of the Wilmington Christina School District students? Red Clay Consolidated.

This company that charges outlandish fees to belong to their network has all the major education players. American Institutes for Research is the vendor for the Smarter Balanced Assessment. Want to know what that means Delaware parents? That means YOUR child’s test results are most likely filtering through this network of companies and universities and school districts. All over the world.

And take a wild guess where they are incorporated?

Delaware parents: by letting your child take the Smarter Balanced Assessment, you are saying it is okay for all these entities around the country and the globe to see your child’s information. It’s okay for them to see the psychometric information American Institutes for Research uses as a result of these assessments. Yes, the Delaware Department of Education isn’t on there. But guess what, the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium and American Institutes for Research are. And so is their scoring vendor, Data Recognition Corporation. And if Delaware ever changes the state assessment, I’m sure one of the many other testing companies on this list will gladly put in a bid.  But you can change that.  Aside from the obvious misuse and abuse that comes from Smarter Balanced, we are now learning the data from it is the true goldmine. The only way to stop this is to refuse to have your child take this test. Opt your child out now. Unless, once again, you are okay with all this…

Delaware legislators, this is just yet another reason why you need to override Governor Markell’s veto of the opt-out legislation: House Bill 50. You don’t think the Governor knows about all of this data swapping? Of course he does!

While Delaware didn’t win an award for this year’s Statewide Longitudinal Data System grant, it is very interesting to see the requirements for this, which can be found here,especially Section V.

Are we human? Or are we data?

Rodel’s Paul Herdman Made Over $343,000…And Our Children Lose More Education Everyday

This article will disgust you.  It disgusted me when I read their latest tax form, filed in July of this year.  The Rodel Foundation and all their education propaganda.  I have a new take on this.  We need to boycott anything associated with Rodel.  That means the Vision Coalition, the Delaware Business Roundtable, and yes, I’m going to go there.  The Wilmington Education Improvement Commission.  Why?  Because after the Budingers, who owned Rodel Inc. back in the day, Tony Allen is listed on the board of Rodel.  Dan Rich, the University of Delaware employee who is involved in all things WEIC, also sits very comfortably on the board of the Vision Coalition.

$343,000 a year.  For one man.  That is twice what Mark Murphy made as Secretary of Education.  It’s $126,000 more than the highest paid State of Delaware employee in education (who just so happens to be enjoying his obsession with the Vision Coalition these days).  How many starting teachers could we get with that?  Ten?  How about we take his salary and give every student in Delaware an extra $100 in funding.  I know, they are a “non-profit” company.  Of course they are.  How could they ever make a profit with just over $900,000 going to four people’s salary?

So who benefited from Rodel’s “expertise” in education on this tax form?

Parthenon Group: $700,000 (listed as consultants Rodel pays to do consulting work)

Aspen Institute: $175,000

Delaware Business Roundtable Education Committee $53,600

Delaware Charter Schools Network $30,000

Delaware Public Policy Institute $50,000

First State Military Academy $75,000

Great Oaks Foundation $75,000

Hope Street Group $10,000

Innovative Network For Communities $7,500

Innovative Schools Development Corporation $741,688

Latin American Community Center $15,000

Leadership Delaware Inc. $10,000

Music Associates of Aspen Inc. $30,000

National Public Education Support Fund $10,000

New Castle County Vo-Tech School District $13,451

Sustainable Settings $7,500

Teach For America Inc. $100,300

Teach Plus Inc. $7,500

The Delaware Met $75,000

The Partnership Inc. $7,500

Third Way Foundation $10,000

Vision Network $95,000

The ones in bold are the ones that really stand out for me.  That is an awful lot of money going to Innovative Schools.  But what puzzles me the most is the New Castle County Vo-Tech School District.  Looking back at their prior year tax forms, they have frequently given money to that district or schools within the district.

In terms of hedge fund activity, this tax form does NOT have the Rodel-Pebbles AA Multi-Strategy Hedge Fund, which I wrote in great detail about last year.  In that article, for their Tax Form 990, the amount in the fund was $158,071.  For the other two hedge funds they invest in, Hirtle Multi-Strategy Hedge Funds and Hirtle- Private Equity Funds, those amounts were $2,590,421 and $1,725,911.  A year later, those amounts are $2,710,070 and $1,636,033.  So if they cashed out the Rodel-Pebbles Hedge Fund, it looks like they invested $30,000 more in hedge funds for this tax year.  Like last year, their hedge fund activity is in “off-shore accounts” in the Caribbean or Central America.  For this tax year they invested over $6.9 million in these off-shore accounts, an increase of $2.9 million more than in their tax form filed last year.  Their net assets by the end of the year were $27,700,235 which was an almost $1 million dollar loss compared to the previous year, in which their assets went down $1.45 million compared to the year before.  Yet Dr. Herdman’s salary keeps going up each year because they do a “survey” to see how other similar non-profits pay their CEOs.  This is corporate education reform.  Where traditional public schools lose money each year while the 1% get infinitely richer.  And our state allows this by continuing this charade.

Now when Dr. Paul Herdman first started with The Rodel Foundation of Delaware back at the end of 2004, he was making a little over $168,000 a year with benefits and travel expenses.  Now that has mushroomed to $343,000.  A $175,000 increase.  And this is for their 2013 tax year!  I’m sure it is even more now.

Delaware, this is Rodel.  A company that is a non-profit that invests in off-shore hedge funds and their CEO receives more income than anyone in education in Delaware.  Remember, they sell a product, like any company does.  The product is designed to make them rich.  It’s a business.  They could care less how your individual child is doing.  They care about their bottom line.  So every time you go to the latest annual Vision party, every time you let them take your personal information so you can go to one of their events, or you attend an Imagine Delaware Forum on education that they sponsor, remember it is a big advertisement.  Rodel owns Delaware.  They own the Governor, they own the DOE, they own the Delaware Charter School Network, Innovative Schools, and it looks like the two main people on the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission.

If Rodel really cared about education in Delaware, they would be donating money to the school districts that need funds the most, to help out with classroom sizes.  This is a company that has $27 million in assets.  And it sits there, every year, going through investments and hedge funds and even though it slowly loses a little bit each year, it’s not enough.  I don’t see Rodel donating funds to Red Clay or Christina.  I see a hell of a lot of charter schools, and companies that support them.  And that one school district where a certain Interim Secretary of Education comes from.  Where a soon to be ex-US Secretary of Education visited one of the “most improved” high schools in the state twice which just happens to be in the same district.

When Rodel offers these “grants” to charters, think tanks, and charter friendly organizations, it isn’t out of the kindness of their heart.  It is an investment.  It is saying, if the amount is high enough, we now own you.  Do as we say.  Don’t rock the boat.  Oppose all legislation we don’t like.  We know Rodel and the Delaware Charter Schools Network are two of the biggest lobbyists in Delaware.  It’s not for the kids.  It’s for money.  So Paul Herdman can get an increase in his salary every year.  Don’t get me wrong, he works hard.  Destroying public education doesn’t happen overnight.  It happens over a long period of time, and he has been very proficient at it for over ten years now.

Boycott Rodel.  These are the things I would like to see happen.  DSEA and Delaware PTA get the hell out of anything Rodel/Vision Coalition related.  Tony Allen resigns from the Rodel board.  Dan Rich resigns from Vision.  The Delaware Department of Education immediately ends any contracts with Rodel that are not listed for public viewing.  They end any business relationship with Rodel.  For citizens of Delaware, please do not support this organization.  They have been selling a line of crap for over ten years and it needs to stop.  The only way to do that is to stop listening.  Do not legitimize their money-making agendas.  If they put an ad in the paper or a letter to the editor, write a complaint to the News Journal.  If you are worried about the Delaware Business Roundtable and how that could effect Delaware, don’t worry, Rodel does the books for their Education Committee.

If the leaders of organizations who work with Rodel and the Vision Coalition don’t want to leave, that’s okay.  Elections can change that with certain organizations.  And do not buy for one second that “Personalized Learning” is the wave of the future.  That’s what Rodel wants you to think.  Back in 2006, they predicted state standards and tests designed around those.  They envisioned a future, with the able assistance of then Treasurer of Delaware Jack Markell, where all children would be able to compete with their brethren in China and Japan and India and Singapore.  Millions upon millions of dollars filling the pockets of folks like Dr. Paul Herdman and Fred Sears III.  For what?  Have we learned nothing?

This article is going to tick off a lot of people.  Good.  It wasn’t meant to put a smile on anyone’s face.  It was meant to piss off those who would sacrifice our children’s future so companies like Rodel can live high off the hog.  You know exactly who you are, and the charade has to end.  Either you support public education or you don’t.  There is no middle ground.  Not anymore.

For the average citizen, remember this.  You hold immense power in your hands and voice.  Your hands can write a Refuse The Test letter.  Your voice can tell other parents to do the same.  Paul Herdman was scared out of his mind with the opt-out movement.  He had no idea how much power he does not have over people.  This is why he spoke at the Senate Education Committee meeting against House Bill 50, the parent opt-out legislation.  He knows that if parents don’t let their kids take the Smarter Balanced Assessment, his empire falls apart.  Very fast.  Let’s do it.  Let’s say screw the CEO and take back education.  Because if you think for one second it is your child’s education, you are dead wrong.  This is Rodel’s education, sold to them with your taxpayer money and the more than willing voice of your Governor.

Governor Markell on Arne Duncan’s Exit: The Red Pen Edition

US Secretary of Education submitted his resignation letter earlier today.  I have to admit, when I first saw the headline, I was deathly afraid to read the article.  Why?  Because a couple years ago there was a rumor Duncan was going to resign then.  And one of the names put forth as a possible replacement?  None other than Delaware Governor Jack Markell.  Markell has been one of the chief proponents of Duncan and Obama’s education reform agenda.  He embraced the Common Core like a nail to a magnet.  So it was with great relief when I read the article and didn’t see his name.  That relief was soon replaced with horror as I read the name of the replacement: former NY Commissioner John King.  Make no mistake, King is probably worse than Duncan.

Today, Markell put forth a statement on Duncan’s resignation.  I feel obligated to give it the Transparent Christina Red Pen edition.

Governor’s Statement on Secretary Duncan Stepping Down

Wilmington, DE – Governor Markell issued the following statement in reaction to today’s news that U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan will leave his position in December:

He really wished he could put forth a statement indicating he would have been appointed, but failure is well-known in the halls of D.C.

“Secretary Duncan stepped into his role at a challenging time, when our changing economy means that the level of education and training our young people receive, from pre-school through postsecondary programs, is more important than ever,” said Governor Markell. “He recognized that we must improve the resources available for our schools to do their jobs, while doing more to hold our system accountable for serving all students.

So what he did, and Markell helped him out on this and don’t let anyone ever tell you otherwise, was engineer programs and policies to come up with Common Core and very high-stakes standardized assessments based on that curriculum.  Duncan and Markell definitely improved “resources for our schools” by allowing companies to come in and try to “fix” our “failing” education system.  All for the grand goal of destroying traditional public education in an attempt to get more charters out there.  We see how that is working out in the First State.

“As a country we can be grateful that he never shied away from this hard but necessary work. As a Governor, I particularly appreciate his focus on challenging states to find new ways to increase opportunities for students, while providing unprecedented opportunities for us to implement innovative solutions through initiatives like Race to the Top and the Early Learning Challenge. His determination to get more of our youngest kids the opportunities they deserve raised awareness about the importance of high quality early childhood programs and raised expectations for what should be available to kids from communities that have long been underserved.

Which country are you living in Jack?  We know you appreciate it!  When can we see your stock portfolio?  You and Race To The Top.  You will never let us forget Delaware’s absolute complicity in that, will you?  And those communities that have “long been underserved”?  You helped perpetuate that by cutting key funding before Race To The Top, never replacing it, and then holding a sword to the throats of every school district in the state with Race To The Top.  Embrace or die!  You are a hypocrite of the highest measure Governor Markell.  You let Rodel and corporate education reformers destroy Delaware education.  And they are still here.  Meanwhile, after the results came back from the “best test Delaware ever created”, we see students with disabilities, low-income students, and minorities are even further behind than their peers.  But let’s be innovative and emulate what is “working” in our schools: the ones with selective and preferential enrollment practices that marginalize and segregate the most vulnerable students in the state.  You crapped on teachers so much that they hate you with such a passion you can’t see straight.  All in the name of the students, right Jack?  You are such a horrible Governor and I can’t wait until you leave.  You are just as corrupt as Arne and one day you will be held accountable.

“During numerous visits to Delaware, Secretary Duncan showed a commitment to seeking out what’s working and what needs to be improved in our schools, and Delaware students are better off for his efforts. I thank him for his service and wish him and his family well in whatever comes next.”

Two of his “numerous” visits to Delaware were to the same school Jack.  If Duncan truly gave a crap about our schools he would have gone to different ones.  He would have actually engaged with students instead of watching you suck up to him.  On his last visit, it was the day after YOUR Department got grilled by the House Education Committee and the Joint Finance Committee over all the wasted money that was Race To The Top.  I do not thank Duncan for his service.  I lament every second of his service that has given us an immeasurable amount of Federal control over education, horrible and crappy tests, a curriculum that makes no sense, and countless taxpayer dollars going to countless companies that didn’t even exist twenty-five years ago.  I can’t wait until you do the same thing and hand in a resignation letter before your time.  Please make it happen.  I opted out of your belief system years ago, and more Delawareans are doing the same every day.  Veto that Jack!

AFWG & Penalty For Participation Rates Still Alive While DOE Racks Up More FOIA Violations

Before you read this, you absolutely have to read State Rep. Kim Williams breakdown of their last meeting.  This is essential!

Okay, welcome back.  The Accountability Framework Working Group met last week for their second to last meeting.  Their next meeting will be on October 5th at 1:00pm.  I put all the notes from their first 11 meetings here and they have since updated the DOE website to include the notes from Meetings #12-14, and Agendas for #14 and #15.  Keep in mind the notes were written by the Delaware DOE.

Meeting #12 happened the same day I broke the news about this group and the whole participation rate thing.  I had not delved too deep into it at this point, and it would stand to reason the meeting happened around the same time as my article went up that day.  The key part from this meeting is this:

…as well as ensuring that schools with significant achievement gaps in ELA and Math proficiency and the four-year graduation rate do not receive the state’s highest rating.

Of particular interest is this part about what is required under ESEA and what constitutes a school getting the highest rating.  This will play a huge part later on in this article.  This meeting also had the first mention of Regulation 103 which had already been submitted to the Delaware Register of Regulations at this point.

Meeting #13 was held on September 2nd.  I don’t know how many members of the AFWG were aware of my articles on this group at this point, but I know for a fact at least three of them were.  Nothing was said about participation rate or Regulation 103 at this meeting as per the notes.

Now where things get really interesting, and nobody really knew, was the DOE all of a sudden put out an agenda for the next meeting of the AFWG on September 17th.  By state law, if you are putting out an agenda, it has to be done a week ahead of time if it is a public meeting.  This agenda was NOT on the DOE website as of 9/14/15 because I looked that day.  If you look on the Delaware Public Meeting Calendar you can see this listed as a Public Meeting.  However, if you right click on the actual PDF created by Jennifer Roussell at the Delaware DOE on 9/16/15 at 8:36am in the morning, the Delaware Department of Education violated FOIA law by not announcing this a week earlier.

The proverbial stuff hit the fan at Meeting #14 on September 17th.  This was the same day as the State Board of Education meeting and news of Regulation 103 and its implications for Delaware schools spread like wildfire prior to this meeting.

Note that the group unanimously voted down the participation rate against proficiency.  But the AFWG does not have the final say on this.  That is the State Board of Education, who had quite a bit of discussion about this along with members of the public at their meeting that day.

But what the AFWG member who spoke at the State Board of Education meeting did not say was this:

The AFWG members present unanimously recommended removing Participation Rate for the Adjusted Proficiency calculation. Further discussion on the accountability consequence for schools missing the 95% target was requested. Initial feedback supported a rule that no school could receive the highest performance rating on DSSF if they missed the 95% threshold.

Since that meeting, I requested from Dr. Penny Schwinn and Ryan Reyna at the Delaware DOE the exact law, code, or regulation which states participation rate is required to be any part of a state’s accountability system.  As well, Schwinn said at the 9/17 State Board of Education meeting she was going to request this from US DOE.  To date, NOTHING has been presented.  I spent countless hours going through federal laws concerning this and ESEA waiver laws, rules and guidance, and there is absolutely NOTHING in Federal law that states this is a requirement.  NOTHING.  DOE knows this, but they are stalling.  AFWG needs to stop relying on the word of Penny Schwinn and actually research this for themselves.  But please keep in mind this is what the DOE wrote in the notes and may not actually be what was discussed.  If any member of the AFWG wants to contact me about this, please do so.

Last week, on 9/23/15, the AFWG held their 15th meeting.  Again, an agenda was put up, without 7 full days notice.  It is one again on the Public Meeting Calendar and this one even says there can be public comment at the meeting.  If you do the right-click thing again on this PDF and go to document properties, it was created on 9/17/15.  Two public meeting FOIA violations.

Delaware State Rep. Kim Williams attended this meeting as I wrote earlier.

The group will meet again on 10/5/15, but you won’t find it on the DOE website.  You have to look in the Delaware Public Meeting Calendar again but at least they got the agenda out more than seven days before the public meeting.  Maybe they were thinking if you add up all the days together for the last three meetings that would be sufficient enough to get a total of twenty-one days.  But that is some fuzzy math, cause that would only be seventeen days…

This will (for now), be the last meeting of the AFWG.  Will you be there?  Of course, it’s on a Monday afternoon, during that oh-so-convenient time for working parents and teachers to come.  But we can’t interfere with the State Board of Education’s Grotto’s Smarter Balanced party at 4pm.  Or the Charter School public hearings beginning at 4pm.

But this has to be the last meeting because it needs to be presented to the Delaware Education Support System group the next day, also during the same hours between 1-4pm.  The group that has no agenda and does not take minutes for their meetings.  Because it is so important to present it to this clandestine group but not parents in a transparent way…

This whole thing has become the biggest debacle in DOE history.  They are breaking the law all over the place.  And yes, I have already submitted two more FOIA complaints for their latest public meeting decisions concerning the AFWG for a grand total of seven pending complaints with the Delaware Department of Justice and two with the federal US DOE.

 

 

Thomas Fordham Institute Data Guy Went On Rick Jensen, Listen To What Happened!

One of my favorite talk-show radio hosts in Delaware is Rick Jensen on WDEL.  While I may not always agree with him on every issue, we stand united in our hatred of Common Core and both actively advocate for parent opt-out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  Or as Rick calls it, the “Not So Smarter Balanced Assessment”.  He had this guy from the Thomas Fordham Institute on the show today.

I love how this guy refuses to call Common Core a curriculum.  Really?  Then why is it I put an article up with a copy of my son’s math homework a year ago, and it generated 15,000 hits in less than 24 hours?  Because parents across America were Googling this homework that night, when kids all across the country had the SAME homework, with teachers teaching to that math that day.  If that is just a standard, then I strongly suggest this man buys a dictionary and learns the difference between standards and curriculum.

And let’s not forget one thing that most folks don’t know.  The NAEP test, that has been a “steady” barometer of our children’s success in America, is based on tests designed by American Institutes for Research.  Who is also a vendor for numerous states and their standardized assessment, including all the Smarter Balanced Assessment states.  Of course kids would do worse on a test they helped create against a test they helped create.  A company like that doesn’t get $38,000,000.00 from a small state like Delaware, and who knows how much at a national level, if all children are succeeding.  They need kids to fail this test, in great numbers, so they can continue their profit margins.  That’s what it’s all about.  So when these “think tank” guys talk about how much we need this data, they need that data so they can line their pockets with taxpayer money.  It’s not about the kids.  It’s never been about the kids.  It’s about greed, pure and simple.

Why are these Fordham guys showing up in the News Journal and WDEL all of a sudden?  Because folks like Dr. Paul Herdman of Rodel are asking them to.  Because they know opt-out numbers are going to go through the roof next spring, and they want to get the spin control out now.  Because these corporate intruders, and that’s what they are, are scared to death of the 148th General Assembly overriding Governor Markell’s veto of House Bill 50.  But like the Smarter Balanced Assessment itself, they will fail.  Because they are missing the crucial ingredient in all of this.  A parent’s love for their child.  There is nothing greater aside from the Almighty Himself!  So Jack, Paul, Mark, all of you, listen up.  We will not give up.  We will not surrender.  We will not stop.  We aren’t idiots who believe whatever lines you throw our way.  We are parents.  We are our children’s voice.  You all need to stop before you embarrass yourselves even further.

Many Delaware Parents Are NOT Happy With Smarter Balanced Results

As predicted, Delaware parents are not happy with the Smarter Balanced Assessment results.  Of course, the ones who scored proficient or above have not been vocal.  But the 49% of parents who are seeing English/Language Arts non-proficiency and 62% non-proficiency for math, are not too happy.  And parents of special needs children are horrified.  The Delaware DOE is going to put the maximum spin machine on this utilizing every possible source they can use.  The State Board of Education is having a workshop at Grotto’s Pizza in Dover next week to deal with the fallout.  Of course, they are going to talk about the myths and fallacies of the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  Will they come right out and say “Don’t read Exceptional Delaware, Kavips, or any of the other Delaware blogs”? Or will they, for once in their professional lives, come out and say “You know what, we messed up.  This test is horrible.  We apologize, and let’s really work together to come up with a new test.  We want your help, and all the other stakeholders we didn’t include the last time.”

If they did the latter, and stuck to it, I would be utterly amazed and shocked.  Oddly enough, Governor Markell has been strangely quiet on the issue.  Of course, he went to Germany last week, and the Pope is coming to town this week.  But we are heading into election mode, and it wouldn’t shock me if every announced or potential candidate told his office they don’t want him talking about this test at all!