The Resolution That Is A Must-Read For All Teachers, Students, Parents, & Politicians

On Tuesday evening, the Christina School District Board of Education voted 6-0 on a resolution to bring some sanity back to public education.  I love, love, love this resolution!  Christina Board President Elizabeth Paige drafted the resolution and it should become a policy for every single school district and charter school in America!

Christina School District Board of Education Resolution in Support of Unstructured Learning Time

Whereas, the mission of the Christina School District supports fostering a nurturing learning environment; and,

Whereas, unstructured learning time has been proven to enhance a child’s social development and ability to problem solve; and,
Whereas, play improves memory and stimulates brain development; and,

Whereas, play is necessary for ELL students to develop social language that is less formal than academic language; and,

Whereas, play fosters an environment of cooperation and scaffolding of learning among children at different ages/stages and encourages children to connect academic experiences to real-world scenarios; and,

Whereas, research proves that children who are exposed to at least 15 minutes of unstructured play time during the day exhibit better behavior during academic time than children who are not offered a break; and,

Whereas, research published in the Early Childhood Education Journal revealed that both free play and adult-guided play can help young children learn awareness of other people’s feelings and that play helps to teach kids to regulate their own emotions; and,

Whereas, evidence informs us that a lack of ample time for undirected, self-chosen play/activities contributes to mental health problems such as rising rates of stress, anxiety, and depression, and therefore should be treated as an important provision in the scheduling of student time; and,

Whereas, studies show that frequent small breaks are more beneficial to student emotional and physical health as well as academic achievement; therefore,

Be it resolved that the Christina School District Board of Education affirms that play is a positive aspect of being a student in a public school system; and,

Be it further resolved that in all Christina School District elementary schools, unstructured learning time should be provided to all students in varying degrees, but in quantities no less than 20 minutes daily; and,

Be it further resolved that recess shall be supplementary to unstructured learning time inside the classroom; and,
Be it further resolved that the Christina School District Board of Education affirms its support for unstructured learning time and recess for students in grades 6-8; and,

Be it further resolved that the Christina School District Board of Education supports the fact that appropriate amounts of time for play and/or freely chosen activities are necessary for healthy development and should be provided during the school day; and,

Be it further resolved that the Christina School District Board of Education supports the evidence that play increases student abilities in the areas of critical thinking, problem solving, creativity, executive functioning, communication skills, empathy, and self-regulation; and,

Be it ultimately resolved that the Christina School District believes that ample time for student-driven, unstructured play must be included among the essential learning experiences in the education of our students. Beyond physical activity, these experiences include imaginative play, creative/constructive play, and games with rules. Student engagement in undirected, freely chosen activities is an essential component of healthy human development as well as a necessity for social/emotional, physical, and cognitive growth of children.

Wilmington Education Advisory Group’s Tony Allen Responds To Red Clay Resolution

The Wilmington Education Advisory Committee’s Chair, Tony Allen, responsed to the recently passed Red Clay Consolidated School District Board of Education Resolution in regards to the committee’s recommendations for redistricting in Wilmington.  The below document has Allen’s response, and the actual resolution passed by the board on 4/15/15.

The Official Delaware PTA Resolution On Opt Out

From the Delaware PTA website:

Delaware PTA Supports Parent’s right to Opt Out of Smarter Assessments

As the largest volunteer parent advocacy association, PTA has always supported choice, a parent’s right, obligation and responsibility to take an active role in their child’s education. We believe that a parent’s right to make decisions about their child’s participation in statewide assessments is part of this choice.

 Delaware PTA will not encourage any parent to opt their child out of the test. We firmly believe each decision and subsequent reason for opting out is unique. We also firmly believe that this is a personal decision that must be made by the parental unit. We realize that while there are parents that support the Smarter Assessments and have chosen to allow their child to participate in the assessment, there are also parents that do not support the assessment and do not want their child to participate in the assessment. We do not believe that it is appropriate to support one decision by restricting another.

 As a result, on March 24, 2015 the Delaware PTA Board of Managers passed a motion to support a parent’s choice to opt their student out of the Smarter Balanced Assessments.

This passage of this motion allows Delaware PTA to:

  • Advocate for a legislative process that allows a parent to opt their child from the Smarter Mathematics and Smarter ELA Assessments by supporting HB 50;
  • Work with parents, teachers and district leadership to ensure that any child not participating  in the assessment receives alternate academic instruction;
  • Address parent/teacher concerns of fear and/or intimidation regarding the parent opt out
  • Encourage parents to continue to collaborate with their child’s teacher to support academic success

We are aware of the state’s plans to convene a task force to assess the amount of testing state wide. We are also aware that some believe this should be our focus, and not the parent’s right to opt out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment. While we do agree that we need to reduce the amount of statewide testing, adopting this singular approach to the exclusion of acknowledging a parent’s right to opt out, ignores the fact that parent and teacher concerns with the Smarter Balanced Assessment go far beyond the amount of testing. We believe both issues should be addressed with fidelity and to do anything less is an affront to the many parents that have invested large amounts of time researching the assessment, communicating with teachers and building leadership and making painstaking decisions regarding their child’s participation in the Smarter Balanced Assessment.

We encourage our community partners, school districts and other stakeholders to support a parent’s choice to opt their child from the Smarter Balanced Assessment.

This is a HUGE step in the opt out movement Delaware parents!  That means more than 6,600 members of the Delaware PTA received a notice about this today.  The opt out movement is so powerful because of word of mouth and free advertising!  Thanks to the folks at Delaware PTA who made this happen, especially Dr. Terri Hodges and Yvonne Johnson!  You ladies are awesome!!!  I wouldn’t be surprised if someone from the Delaware PTA speaks at the Parent Press Conference, April 1st, 5pm, outside Legislative Hall in Dover (shameless plug).

Christina Board of Education Has Opt Out Resolution On Their Agenda

On Tuesday, March 10th, the Christina School District Board of Education will have a huge meeting to discuss not only the agreement with the DOE on the priority schools, but also a resolution concerning parent opt out of standardized testing.  Board member Elizabeth Paige said “I have written the resolution to say that there should be no repercussions for students.”

Ironically, the Smarter Balanced Assessment starts the very same day in Delaware, but many parents have already opted their children out already.  For Christina parents, they appreciate the show of support by the board just for having this on their agenda.  As this is the last item on the agenda, and there will be much discussion about priority schools early, plan on a late evening but come early to give public comment about the board’s proposed resolution.

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Big Question Raised Regarding East Side Charter & Family Foundations Academy “Arrangement”

If East Side Charter School had no board meeting in December, and their January board meeting didn’t occur until January 28th, how in the world did their board approve the loaning out of four board members, their head of school, funds, and teachers to Family Foundations Academy?  Why has nobody else even brought up this question?  By the time the State Board of Education and Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy decided on the fate of FFA, the East Side board took over the FFA board and had their arrangement in place, with Dr. Lamont Browne serving as Executive Director of both schools.  But if the Board never voted on it, who made the decision?

Charles McDowell is the Board President of East Side Charter.  He is now the Board President of Family Foundations Academy.  He is also on the board of Early College High School in Dover.  That’s three charter boards he sits on.  Is he the one calling the shots?  If you read the last Early College High School board minutes (November 2014), it seems like he is in charge even though he isn’t the board president.

While the East Side/FFA arrangement is unprecedented in Delaware, I would think the East Side Board would have to approve a reallocation of funds of that magnitude and what amounts to a loan.  But that is nowhere to be found.  And how did the East Side board members take over?  Was there a quorum of the old FFA members?  Did they vote to add the new members and then resign?  Don’t new board members have to wait a month to vote on new items?  Hmm, more than meets the eye here.  And lest we forget, Kendall Massett at the Delaware Charter Schools Network set up this deal…

The Heroes of Delaware: Transcript of Parent Opt Out Decision at Capital School District Board Meeting @KilroysDelaware @ed_in_de @dwablog @Apl_Jax @ecpaige @BadassTeachersA #netde #eduDE #edchat

On Wednesday, October 15th, the Capital School District Board of Education passed a resolution allowing parents to opt their children out of state assessments without any penalty from the schools or the district. The following is a transcript, taken from the digital audio recording of the meeting.

Capital School District Board of Education: Matthew Lindell (Vice-President, Acting President in lieu of President Kay Dietz-Sass’ absence), Sean Christiansen, John Martin, Brian Lewis (absent), Dr. Michael Thomas (Superintendent)

Lindell: Moving on. 3.10, State Assessment, Parent Opt Out, Resolution #15-041. Ms. Sass asked to put this on the agenda. I think we’ve gotten to the point where we ended up tabling the policy itself when we were trying to adjust the policy as far as protecting parents who choose to opt their children out of standardized testing within the school district. Upon just taking things into consideration and other thoughts, feelings and so forth. You know, parents, by creating a policy we’ve basically already, basically were almost like DOE but were just saying, were giving you the ability to do this. The parents have the choice, it’s just frowned upon by DOE. And yes, can there be consequences for the district? Yes, there can be. I think we’ve debated that extensively. But there comes a time, and I think I mentioned this the last time we tabled this, there comes a time when, imagine in history, when some of the key points in history when some individuals said “I’m gonna sit down and I’m not gonna risk it.” Imagine if George Washington said “I’m gonna turn down the command of the Continental Army in 1775,” or Thomas Jefferson was like “No, I’m not going to risk King George III hanging me from the closest tree.” Or Martin Luther King Jr. saying “You know what, I don’t want to rock the boat so I’m just going to let things go as they may.” If we did this every single time someone threatened us, and said “This is going to happen to you if you don’t do this,” what’s going to happen? I grew up in an America standing up for issues of great importance. Not being afraid of what might happen if you take the step of questioning the government that the people duly elect. Our government is not perfect, we’re certainly not perfect, but there comes a time when policies and the continuation of the same old same old needs to be questioned and addressed. When that communication is ignored, sometimes it requires bolder action.

I would support, and I hope the board would support, the idea that we would entertain a motion to protect the parents and the district who choose to opt out their children from the test. Just as much as we would protect the parents who choose to have their kid take the test. I think it comes down to parental rights. Who knows more about their kids, many times, than their parents? Just to see the stories of kids struggling and the lack of confidence… Just tonight we saw Mr. McCove (a former alumni of Capital who gave a presentation on a program called Passport To Success earlier in the meeting)… that creativity. That is what, in my personal opinion, I think, many countries around the world admire that they can’t duplicate about our system. We’re creative, and the one thing we try to do is educate everyone. But we’ve come to the point now where it’s just about the test. You see the excitement for learning just draining out of kids. We shouldn’t see that in 1st, 2nd or 3rd grade. We shouldn’t see kids going to the bathroom having to throw up, or being afraid to go to school because they have to take this test. There’s more to measuring our schools. The banners tonight, recognizing our schools, (banners were presented earlier in the meeting to schools in Capital School District that had significant increases in DCAS scores or decreased percentages in different proficiency gaps between regular groups and sub-groups such as minorities or special education students) I didn’t need the test data telling us our district and our schools are successful. I can walk in there and see what good teaching looks like. I can see what our students are doing. It’s about time that we started addressing these things and making waves and saying enough is enough. And hopefully we have some legislators that might join on board and say this is an issue we need to take a look at.

Christiansen: Mr. Lindell, as one of those parents that witnessed a child losing his mind because he was worried about a test, “I got a 4 Dad, but they need me to do better.” He didn’t sleep that night, he didn’t want to go to school the next morning, but he went. He took his test, he came home, (I said) “How did you do?” He said “Dad, I sat in the test.” “What did you learn today?” “How to take a test.” And that’s what our teachers are being pushed to do. You know, a lot of these teachers have been here a long time, and they’re going to be here a lot longer. Teaching has changed. The demands on our students have changed. The demands on our teachers have drastically changed. And it’s not easy for you to wake up every morning and say I’m going to school to educate because you’re worried about one thing or another. But when we take fun out of learning, we take kids that are in elementary school, not getting on the bus and hiding behind a bush because they don’t want to take a test, that’s an issue. We talked about this in May, of this year, and that’s when we tabled it I believe. And we stood up here strong and said we’re going to fight for the student or fight for the parents to be a parent. I think it’s time. I wish there were five of us here instead of three of us. But unless Mr. Martin’s got something to say or has a question I’d like to make a motion.

Martin: I’ve been waiting for this one all night long, the whole dog-gone time!

Christiansen: Are you okay with me making a motion now or do you have something to say?

Martin: Oh no, I have something audacious to say.

Christiansen: I can’t wait.

Martin: Let’s do it!

Christiansen: Mr. President, I’d like to make a motion that this Board of Education will support a parent’s decision for a child to opt out of standardized state testing without any repurcussions from the Capital School District.

Martin: Mr. Lindell, I second that motion. Resolution #15-041 for parents to be able to opt out of the state assessment.

Lindell: The motion has been made by Mr. Christiansen, and it’s been seconded by Mr. Martin. Any further discussion gentlemen?

Martin: None.

Lindell: All those in favor? Say aye.

Lindell, Christiansen and Martin: Aye.

Lindell: All those opposed? (None) Motion carries. (clapping coming from audience)