The McGuiness Temper Explodes At Debate As She Attacks Freedom #VoteSpadola!!!!!

The League of Women Voters forum at Delaware State University this evening was the perfect showcase for anyone who might be on the fence about the State Auditor position.  Kathy McGuiness scowled and complained her way to absurdity tonight. Continue reading

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Guest Post By Eric Morrison: Primary’s Record Democratic Voter Turnout- A Cause For Celebration Or Concern?

As many are dealing with the ramifications of the Delaware Primary, one reader felt there were reasons for how some votes were cast.  Without further ado, Eric Morrison from Newark has the floor: Continue reading

If The Delaware General Election Were Held Today… Take The Polls!

Lisa Blunt-Rochester: “To Be Able To Have The Luxury To Opt Out Is A Luxury”

At the Delaware Congressional education debate last evening, a question concerning state testing led to some very offensive comments from candidate Lisa Blunt-Rochester.  Senator Bryan Townsend was asked a question by a member of the audience concerning his fights with state testing at Legislative Hall and his endorsement by DSEA (the Delaware teachers union).  The question was confusing but it alleged that since civil rights groups stand by testing as an accurate way to measure the progress of African-American students, and he fought against the state testing, how would he respond to that? The question was read by one of the moderators, Nichole Dobo.  Townsend defended his stance on testing because the testing was being used for purposes it was not meant for.

By the time candidate Lisa Blunt-Rochester answered, the subject of opt out had already come up by candidate Scott Walker.  He indicated he does not support opt out, especially for students with disabilities and feels it is illegal.  I’m assuming Walker didn’t see the very atrocious scores students with disabilities had on the Smarter Balanced Assessment this year.  But I digress.  By the time the question came back to Rochester, this was her response, as I understood it, while I typed it as I was live blogging:

The original question was about civil rights.  She understands why some folks would opt out, but as a person coming from the Civil Rights movement, to not measure anything is a problem.  Opting out isn’t the issue.  We need to measure to know where we are discriminating.  We need to put our money where our mouth is.

This is what she actually said, thanks to videos shown on the DelaCore Leaders Facebook page:

So the original question was about civil rights organizations and their positions on state testing and the concern that you can’t have it, kind of, both ways.  I understand why some folks would want to opt out, but for myself, as a parent, also as a person who comes from a Civil Rights background, you have to measure growth.  Maybe that’s part of what the challenges folks were concerned about, what we were measuring.  To not measure anything is a problem, to be able to have the luxury to opt out is a luxury.  If we need to fix the test, let’s fix the testing.  But we do have to hold ourselves accountable.  In all the conversation about discrimination, we need to be able to measure, so that we know we are being discriminated against.  So, I think, you put your money where your mouth is.

This statement could be taken a lot of ways.  I see it as the same argument as other folks defending the civil rights groups statements as “it doesn’t matter how bad the test is, we still need that measurement.”  I’m sorry, but I can’t, won’t, and never will buy that logic.  First off, there is a cultural bias with the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  It wasn’t written for African-Americans, English Language learners, or students with disabilities.  It was written for white kids.  We see this with every single score release of standardized tests.  This isn’t new.  It has been going on for decades.

If Blunt-Rochester feels opting out is a “luxury”, an option that is truly open and is not illegal under any circumstances in Delaware, then by her logic we can all enjoy that luxury.  Parents don’t opt out because it is a luxury.  They opt their kids out of the state assessment, which in Delaware’s case is the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  They don’t opt out of MAPS, or SRI, or SMI, or final exams.  They opted out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  The test is long.  Parents and teachers don’t get the scores back on time.  Students aren’t even given the exact same test.  It is a test for accountability for schools.  This was said by Jon Cohen, who runs the American Institutes for Research (AIR), which just so happens to be the testing vendor for the Smarter Balanced Assessment:

When you use a test for accountability, you’re not really using it to measure the kid.  You’re using it to measure the school, or the teacher, or the district.  And you want that school or teacher or district to have an incentive to teach the full range of curriculum.

This statement was taken from a video that used to appear in an article about AIR on this very blog, but AIR changed the settings on it so it could not be embedded outside of their reach.  It is my contention they don’t want people seeing this video.  When talking about the computer adaptability of the assessment, Cohen very frighteningly tells viewers students are not receiving the same test.  The questions aren’t the same for every student.  I wrote in greater detail about this a few weeks ago.  For all the talk about resources and funding we need for schools in Delaware, the one question many candidates aren’t asking is where is the existing funding going?  In Delaware, we have given AIR well over $40 million dollars over a five year period.  That is $8 million a year.  For results that really haven’t changed much when looking at this measurement.  I don’t know about you, but I’m sure our schools would be more than happy to be able to use that money towards lower class-room sizes or more support for students who are at-risk.

While I respect your right to choose whether or not your child takes the Smarter Balanced Assessment, what I don’t respect is you’re telling me that my choice is a luxury.  I actually found this extremely offensive.  I have a child with disabilities.  For these students, who score much lower than African-Americans, it frequently takes them two to three times longer to take this test with accommodations than their peers.  And yes, non-disabled African-Americans are their peers.  They are easily frustrated being forced to take a test for this long.  Because at the same time, their neurological disabilities are manifesting.  Whether it is high-functioning Autism, or Tourette Syndrome, or ADHD, or OCD, or in some cases (as it is with my child) a combination of co-morbidities.

I would like anyone reading this to try something.  Grab a piece of paper and start writing the Pledge of Allegiance.  While you are writing with your hand of choice, take your other hand and start swinging it out.  Keep writing.  At the same time you are doing both of these, start making humming noises.  Do all three at once.  How far did you get on the Pledge of Allegiance?  Now put that in a scenario where you are taking the state assessment on a computer.

Now, imagine you are a low-income African-American student with disabilities taking this test.

I’m sorry Lisa Blunt-Rochester, but you don’t get the luxury of telling me it is a luxury for me to opt my son out.  I respect your choice, but if you want to talk about discrimination, we can do that.  I can talk about how my son was denied an IEP at a charter school in Delaware because of a poorly-trained special education staff who were not even aware of the classification for disabilities of “other-health impaired” until my wife told them.  I can talk about how they treated his disability as behavior issues and wanted to punish him when they wouldn’t give him the accommodations he deserved under federal law.  And when things got so bad there, over a dropped cookie in the lunchroom, he ran to a confined space because he was so scared of their behavior interventionist who told him he would be suspended if he didn’t pick it up.  When they found him, he wanted to get out of that confined space.  And as my son sat there screaming to be let out of that confined space for half an hour, while I was in the school substituting that day and they never bothered to come get me knowing I was there, I found my son in a state I had never seen him in before.  I also found the behavior interventionist sitting in the hallway eating a sandwich and the head of school sitting there as well.  His face was the only face my son could see as they ignored his cries for help.  As I managed to coax my son out, who was crying, embarrassed, and afraid, the head of school and I took him to a conference room.  He explained I should take him home and talk about this the following Monday.  My son, who was in a very distraught state, said to the Head of School, “I’m going to get revenge on you.”  He didn’t specify what kind of revenge or anything he would do.  He just blurted it out.  The Head of School yelled, “That is duly noted”.

As I drove home with my son, my wife called the school.  She was unaware of what had just gone down.  She spoke with the Head of School.  When my wife asked him what he knew about Tourette Syndrome, he started making a tapping noise and said “I know there is a meeting on Concord Pike next week about it.”  He wound up yelling at my wife and hanging up on her.  When we brought my son back into school the next Monday, we were told my son was suspended for three days and when he came back he had to meet with a police officer to discuss “terroristic threats”.  That was the last time my son was in that school.  He was nine years old.

We pulled him out and took him to the local school district.  He got an IEP… after five long months.  It was the end of the school year.  The way my district is set up, he went to 5th grade in a middle school.  We were told by the new IEP team that his IEP was too complicated and we should rework it.  Over the next four months, my son was physically assaulted nine times.  The last of which gave him a severe concussion two days before Christmas.  That was the last time my son was in that school.  He was on homebound instruction for the rest of the year, along with months of physical therapy, headaches, and a very real fear that if he stepped out of the house he would get beat up.  He was ten years old.

We tried a local private school who would only take him on a probationary status because of his disabilities.  He received hours upon hours of homework each day which he had not received in the other two schools.  It was too much for him, so we pulled him out.  He was eleven years old.

We found a good school for him now, far away from Common Core and the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  He is receiving the best instruction he ever has.  He is twelve years old.

So we can sit here and talk about equity and discrimination.  But I can tell you I have lived it through my son.  So I’m sorry you see it as a luxury that I opted him out at the school where he got his concussion.  The ironic truth is that even though I opted him out, he didn’t have to take the test because he was released from the obligation by the school due to his medical issues, received at the school.  While all this was going on that year, I spent a considerable amount of time at Legislative Hall fighting for the rights of other parents to opt their child out.  In all the conversations about opt out, I never heard it referred to as a luxury.  Until last night.

The odds of your child having greater success at life are greater than mine.  This is a fact for persons with disabilities.  So if I make a choice to opt my son out of a test, that has nothing to do with your child, or someone else’s child.  It has nothing to do with civil rights.  I chose not to have my son be used as a guinea pig for results that have stated the same measurements you so vigorously defended last night.  A person can defend civil rights and be against state assessments.  They can have it both ways.  Many civil rights groups do this already, without financial backing from the Gates Foundation.  I am a staunch supporter of civil rights.  But I refuse to let my child be a part of your measuring stick for a test that is horrible to begin with so we can endlessly compare where your child is against mine.  You are a pawn to a money-making scheme that has been going on far longer than you realize.  All our children are being used.  It has nothing to do with proficiency.  The tests are rigged so there will always be winners and losers.  I don’t need my son to take a test to know he has been a victim of disability discrimination.  He didn’t even have to log onto a computer for me to realize that.

I have a very strong suspicion why Senator Townsend was asked such a specific question about state testing, civil rights, and DSEA.  It was meant to trip him up.  It was very carefully worded.  There was only one person in that audience who would have asked him a question like that.  You may or may not know who it is.  I doubt he would ever own up to it.  But he now knows I know.  I’ve seen his manipulation at play before.  But it backfired and most likely forced you to address something that may end up hurting your campaign.

As a candidate for Congress, you need to be aware of how you can be used and how other people’s agendas can backfire on you.  There were hundreds of people in that audience last night.  How is that was the only question asked by a member of the audience at an education debate?  I invite you to think about that.  But in the meantime, let’s stop talking about measurements.  When I cast my vote in the primary, I will be choosing a candidate who looks at all sides of the issues, for all Delawareans, and what is best for us as a state.  I support civil rights and equity.  But I don’t think constantly measuring students so we can hold schools, teachers, and districts accountable is moving forward.  As long as some support this mistaken belief about measuring students against each other while ignoring the individual student and their individual needs, we will continue to have this conversation while testing companies and hedge fund managers make tons of money that isn’t going into our schools.  I am unable to support you as a candidate based on what I heard tonight.  And yes, one word left a very big impression on me.  I respect your choice to put your money where your mouth is.  Please respect my choice to put my voting finger where my beliefs are.  Because the only gap I saw tonight was how far away you and a couple of other candidates are to the reality of what is truly happening with Delaware education.

Federal representatives voted for the No Child Left Behind Act.  Federal representatives stood back while Race To The Top bribed and coerced our states into accepting dubious state standards, tied to a state assessment, and put our highest needs schools into a deplorable cycle of test, label, punish and shame.  Federal representatives (from Delaware) voted no for a clause that would have honored a parent’s right to opt their children out of the state assessment.  Federal representatives (from Delaware) voted yes for the Every Student Succeeds Act which reversed the other two but essentially kept the very worst from what came before but promises vast amounts of money for other things.  We have once again, been duped.  Many of you won’t know it until it is too late.  So yes, opt out is just as much a federal issue as it is a state issue.  But one thing will not change: my unwavering belief that all parents have the constitutional, God-given, and fundamental right to decide what is best for their child.  Education is only one part of what an elected U.S. representative faces.  But education, which is the foundation for our children, is also the foundation for our democracy.  It is our way of instilling hope for the future.  It isn’t a measurement, or accountability.  It is about what is best for each child based on their own unique and beautiful mind.  When we constantly compare, there are always going to be winners and losers.  This creates an environment of discrimination.  I don’t care what any candidate looks like, the color of their skin, or their gender.  I don’t care where they come from.  I care about what they are going to do.

I’ve been hearing a lot of people say, even before it came out, that we need to fix the test.  And yet, Smarter Balanced is still here.  With no indication of it disappearing anytime soon.  Our United States Secretary of Education just okayed illegal flexibility waivers for Delaware under the condition we use the Smarter Balanced Assessment until June 30th, 2019.  We can talk about the importance of “growth”, but for students with disabilities, their “growth” requires two to three times more “growth” than their peers according to the Delaware Department of Education.  But yeah, let’s keep using a flawed test to measure students.  But you don’t have to be an elected federal Congresswoman to speak up against the Smarter Balanced Assessment and “fix the testing”.  Please put your money where your mouth is.

Live From The Delaware Congressional Education Debate Forum At The Christina Cultural Arts Center

The Congressional Education Debate in Wilmington is about to start.  Candidates Sean Barney, Lisa Blunt-Rochester, Scott Gesty, Mike Miller, Bryan Townsend, and Scott Walker are the candidates.  The debate moderators are Nathan Durant from Thomas Edison Charter School and Nichole Dobo with the Hechinger Report, formerly with the News Journal.

Dobo is giving the rules.  Candidates will have one minute to respond and thirty seconds for rebuttal.  Each candidate gets a 3 minute introduction.  Up first is Scott Walker.  He graduated from Brandywine High School in the largest graduating class in Delaware history.  He got an MBA from University of Delaware.  He helps to prosecute discrimination lawsuits. He is not a lawyer.  He said the skills he obtained at University of Delaware allowed him to become an entrepreneur.  He wants all students to have equal funding.  He wants to deregulate the teaching profession.  He ran out of time.

Sean Barney is up.  He is thanking all the sponsors.  He lives in Wilmington with his family.  They just got a puppy.  His daughter goes to First State Montessori Charter School.  He has been working in education policy for over ten years.  He said he worked with Governor Markell’s office on education policy.  He said segregation is an affront to our educational values.  “Nothing is more important than the education of our children.”

Delaware State Senator Bryan Townsend is up.  He thinks education is the most important topic we need to talk about.  He is running for Congress because our federal government and the congressional seat are important to education.  It is why he ran for State Senator, largely because of education issues.  Many in his family are Delaware educators.  He learned about a large emphasis on test scores and inadequate funding while children went hungry.  He has been a part of the conversations about test scores, data, and educator engagement.  He mentioned how DSEA endorsed him because of his efforts in the General Assembly.  He said it would be an honor to represent Delaware in Washington D.C.

Scott Gesty is up.  He is the Libertarian candidate. (All other candidates are Democrat).  He graduated high school in 1988 (so did I!).  He works for a global financial servicing firm.  He will be an adjunct professor at Goldey-Beacom in the fall.  He is running to get us out of the two party system.  He said the first thing he would do, if elected, is introduce term limits for Senators.

Now we have Mike Miller.  He is asking for his support if they like what he says today.  He hails from Lewes.  He said he is a family man, a successful business man, and a community man.  He is a five generation Delaware native who graduated from Cape Henlopen.  He is a tax accountant and owns a landscaping company.  “People are hurting, and we need to do better.  We’ve been kicking education down the road…”.  He said it is time to stop kicking the can in many areas.  He said we need a livable wage of at least $11/hr.  We need to fix the port, which we keep saying we will do, but the funds that went to corporate greed could have gone to education.

Lisa Blunt-Rochester is the final candidate to give an introduction.  It is big for her to say she is running for Congress.  She said education is why she is running.  There are important roles for the federal government with education.  She wants to take what we’ve learned in Delaware to D.C. and help Delaware to get the funds they need.  She grew up during the era of de-segregation in Delaware.  Her children graduated from Delaware public schools but had issues with college affordability and student loans.  She worked for the Metropolitan Urban League and worked with neighborhoods and talked with the Wilmington communities to work with students and families.  She knows the importance of a well-trained work force and a thriving economy.  She said we need education and everyone needs to get an opportunity.

The first question is for Sean Barney: With the Every Student Succeeds Act, what change do you think this will bring to Delaware?

Barney: This will be great change for Delaware.  He said we have great players unlike other states.  We have great leaders who organized this debate.  He thinks this is an opportunity for the state.  He said this is a devolution to the states with guard rails.  But he said it isn’t anything goes.

Rochester: We always have to be careful with block grants and grants to the state.  It is important that we recognize this flexibility comes with responsibility and this must come with accountability.   We have to engage stakeholders, especially parent involvement and that we are holding ourselves accountable.

Gesty: It is a step in the right direction.  He doesn’t like the idea of mandatory testing or jumping through hoops to get federal funding.  He doesn’t think the U.S. Dept. of Education should exist.  He believes in firm local control.

Miller: He believes the secondary education act gives more accountability.  He said it makes sure are schools aren’t cookie-cutters, it challenges the students, and puts money where it needs to be.  It puts the money where it needs to go with flexibility.

Townsend: Delaware wasn’t able to use the previous law correctly.  We have a diverse set of schools but we don’t fund our schools with enough flexibility.  He wants to see how Delaware uses that flexibility.  We have a uniquely-structured education assessment.

Walker: Is not in favor of this act.  We have too much discrimination and segregation.  We need the strong stroke of the federal government to take over these schools and give equal opportunity.  Federalism has to be enacted and come in like the 1960s and clean it up.

Wow!

Dobo is giving a quotes about low-income students and minority students graduating at lower rates and with less results than their peers.  How do we ensure equitable distribution?

Rochester: ESSA presents opportunities.  WEIC gave us strong opportunities.  There are real opportunities to bring people together to demand change.

Gesty: If he were a Congressman, he would have trust in our local educators to make sure discrimination doesn’t exist.  He said the feds track record isn’t great.  We are $20 trillion in debt.  He doesn’t have confidence in federal government, but he does in the state and local.

Miller: The Governor has to make changes in the 19 school dsitricts.  We need more resources in our schools and for our staff.  He believes we need to distribute the money equitably and we need more minorities sitting at the table.

Townsend: Delaware was battling testing and inequity and higher poverty in regards to state test scores.  There is a unique split in Delaware.  We know which schools are struggling.  The role of this position would give more resources for college.

Walker: We have a serious, serious problem in Delaware with education.  He is a father of four kids and had problems getting his last one through school.  We have to be honest with ourselves: more money is not going to fix education.  We had politicians hijack the education system and we need to return education to the schools and teachers.

Barney: At the federal level it is essential to provide transparency for how our students are doing.  And how they can succeed in the work world.  We need more actors to recognize where children aren’t being served the way they should be.

Next question: How are you going to make early education better?

Gesty: He doesn’t think dumping money into early education and universalize something, quality goes down and prices go up.  He said that is how market forces work.  He thinks the people should get block grants for this type of thing.

Miller: Believes in preschool and thinks it should be taxpayer funded.  He is giving statistics that it is a proven scientific fact that the more Pre K they get the better their outcomes.

Nate reworded the question.

Townsend: “Our children aren’t affected by market forces.”  It comes down to funding.  By supporting them at a younger age, they will have more opportunity.  We need qualified educators and change the way we look at early education, especially for the most vulnerable children.

Walker: We need to deregulate the early education industry.  He is a big advocate for the rights of the disabled.  We won’t have the funding for these things until we tax, not the 1%, but the 4%.  We need to develop our tax base.

Barney: If we ever hope to have equity, we need to address this.  He knows the science having worked in D.C.  The Governor’s focus on quality is important.  We need to make the investments in training for early educators to get the most of our time and do the best by our children.

Rochester: When you go to other countries, this isn’t even a debate.  She supports this.  It is a federal and state issue.  We need to make sure the wages are sufficient so people aren’t living in poverty while raising their children.  As Secretary of Labor, she understands all this.

Miller gave a rebuttal indicating he does support funding for early education.

Next question from Dobo: What do you think the federal role of school resource officers should be?  She is defining SROs as uniformed police officers who don’t have to go to a principal to arrest someone.

Miller: He doesn’t believe in security officers like that.  He thinks there is nothing wrong with security in our schools.  The principals and the administrators are still in charge.  He is talking about cruisers that are in impound.  We need to put those police patrols at the schools.  He thinks that would detract from those issues at our school because we respect the law.

Townsend: We have seen African-Americans suspended at higher rates than their peers.  We need culture accountability, but the key thing is to use grant money and flexibility from ESSA to have more community schools.  This is a key from ESSA and would be a driver that would get to the root of the issue instead of having law enforcement in our schools.

Walker: Having law enforcement in our schools is a horrible idea.  We need community program.  The child in Howard High School would be alive today if we had these programs.  SRO’s are an environment of fear and students can’t learn with fear.  Is against it, period.

Barney: The federal government should not be encouraging this.  There should be training for these officers and should be sensitive to suspensions and the criminal justice system create a path to prison.  We need needs-based funding for resources and health issues.

Rochester: We need to have more social workers and mental health providers in our schools.  Too many of our kids are coming to school traumatized and hungry.  We need to be looking outside of the school and inside the school.  We need to stand up to the NRA.  We need to have more pay for teachers to deal with these traumas.

Gesty: I don’t think the NRA has funded guns into our schools.  We need to empower teachers to get firearm training to take care of things until law enforcement gets there.  He agrees with Mr. Walker on these issues.

Rochester asked if the teachers should have guns and not the officers?  Gesty answered that the massacres in our schools, if they know they have resistance, it won’t happen.  Miller feels our schools are safe.  We need more minorities and educators who are black so children can have someone they can relate to.  Townsend empathized that he doesn’t feel schools would be safer by having more guns in our schools.  He doesn’t think these issues should be going on in our schools.  Gesty asked Townsend if he doesn’t think voluntary training could be given?  Townsend asked all educators in the room to clap if they don’t think more guns should be in their school.  Many clapped.

Nate asked what are some examples of excellence in education in Delaware?

Townsend: There are great after-school programs but we need to find a way to replicate the success to spread it across all Delaware schools.

Walker: We have great teachers.  They are under paid and over worked.  We need to pay them for what they are doing.  We have the greatest teachers in Delaware.  We need to fix the economy first.

Barney: Pilot grants are great and we need those for district-charter collaboration.  He said he stayed back in 9th grade.  He said he sends his kids to First State Montessori because they provide that edge to get students to learn.

Rochester: She said there are great things happening in our schools.  She would advocate for World-Language Immersion where students are learning Chinese and Spanish.  We need good global citizens.  We need more focus on STEM like schools in Sussex County.  She loves the STEAM program (an arts program).

Gesty: He doesn’t think the federal government should be involved.  His daughter is in public education and her teachers are incredible and go the extra mile.  Teachers give extra help to get them where they need to be.  Delaware schools are a role model for the rest of the country.

Miller: He doesn’t think the feds should provide more money for education.  No child is going to learn the same.  The monies coming in, some of them should be put aside for afterschool programs.  There is no cookie-cutter program.  That is what he would like to see.

Dobo is asking audience questions.

Is there a crisis with college affordability?

Walker: There is no such thing as free college.  Our taxes will go up.  Our economy is flat-lining.  We need something to get the private sector on their feet.   We have to have the money to do this first.  The money comes from the private sector: business, free enterprise, the American Way.  It is the only way we will get our schools through.

Barney: He was on Senator Carper’s board for service academies.  He wants more students serving AmeriCorps or Peace Corps.  He thinks students should give service and in exchange get funding for college.

Rochester: There are 40 million people in debt from student loans.  That is a crisis.  Many people have done the right thing.  They went to school but they are now in debt.  She thinks the ability to refinance those loans is important.  We need to bring back Pell grants.  That is an opportunity at the federal level.  There are great programs like TeenSharp.  These programs prepare kids for college and help them to apply for funds.  She believes in “cradle to career”.

Gesty: He doesn’t think college should be free.  We are $1.3 trillion in student debt.  This isn’t a free ride program, we need a getting our economy right program.

Miller: He thinks college should be more affordable but it shouldn’t be free.  He said the living at college expenses are what is really rising.  He is saying we need to look at how we train carpenters and mechanics: do we not pay for their training?

Townsend: If we value education we need to make sure we have educational opportunities available.  People take on debt and drop out of college which is even worse.  President Obama’s Community College Plan is what most people are talking about, not a free four-year degree.  We need interest rate reduction.  Government shouldn’t profit off students futures.

Miller added that we have the SEED program and the INSPIRE program.  He doesn’t understand the change in grades between University of Delaware where you need a 2.5 but with Del State you need a 2.75.  He said that is an African-American school.

Nate asked about charter school enrollment preferences and segregation:

Barney: This is an issue in Delaware.  We have too many schools being private in their admissions and have factors in their admissions they shouldn’t be allowed to have.  We need to create opportunity for more schools but schools should be equitable in their admission practices.

Rochester: The original charter law was supposed to be based on replicating success but we got away from that.  She said we have questions of equity and excellence.  Funds are being taken from local schools.  As a state we need to take a look at how we are addressing them.

Gesty: Charter schools are a state problem.  There is nothing we can do at a federal level.  But with discrimination, that is a federal issue and a violation of civil rights.  Feels this should stay at the state and local level.

Miller: When you look at this at a federal level, 80% of the money follows a student and goes from a district to a charter school if they choice out.  If there is segregation, the federal government should get involved.  Students with disabilities are released from school districts and the charters take them.  He said all the money doesn’t go to charter schools.

Townsend: A big bill he dealt with in 2013 was the charter school reauthorization bill.  We have funds through ESSA and we need to make sure we are rewarding all our schools and using funds equitably.  He talked about when Markell and Arne Duncan came to Hodgson and Townsend invited them to Stubbs to see the great work they are doing.  They declined because it wasn’t in the script.

Walker:  The charter experiment has failed.  Students with disabilities are left in public schools.  It is the role of a congressman to address these issues.

Barney: The federal government provides funding.  Federal dollars need to be used in a non-discriminatory manner.  If anything is a federal issue it is also a civil rights issue.

Rochester: She agreed with Barney

Dobo asked about state testing.  A question was directed to Senator Townsend.  The question is concerning how he fought testing and civil rights groups have defended these tests.  If DSEA has endorsed him, how does he respond to that?

Townsend: He said he ran based on civil rights issues.  He doesn’t feel the focus on test scores looked at what was going on the night before.  He addressed these issues to bring sanity to the conversation.

Walker: You have to have testing.  How do you know if a child is going to learn?  This isn’t the law of gravity or the speed of light.  Human behavior has to be tested.  We need to make the tests fair that measure.  He doesn’t think students with disabilities should be opted out of testing.  That will not help them.

Barney: We need to look at funds addressing testing.  Testing should be used for statistics on how our kids are doing.  We all know we aren’t where we need to be with the achievement gap.  We need to make sure we aren’t using testing to punish.

Rochester: The original question was about civil rights.  She understands why some folks would doubt, but as a person coming from the Civil Rights movement, to not measure anything is a problem.  Opting out isn’t the issue.  We need to measure to know where we are discriminating.  We need to put our money where our mouth is.

Gesty: He strongly opposes Smarter Balanced.  He opposes Common Core.  We passed a bill and Markell thumbed his nose at parents.  We need tests that will actually benefit students.

Miller: He applauds Markell for vetoing the bill but he did sign SJR #2 (assessment inventory bill).  We have too many tests.  He goes into the schools.  He doesn’t think there should just be one test because of the grade.

Townsend: What he felt was the debate last year was make sure you have the curriculum that is agreed to and make sure students have a meal that morning of the test.  Students didn’t have a stake in this.  It isn’t about accountability, it’s about how we do it.

Miller: If students aren’t doing well on those tests, there is something wrong.

Townsend: Mike, I’m not arguing against accountability.

Rochester: We are talking about some individuals having the opportunity to opt out.  Many poor children have a sense of urgency so it is important that testing, maybe not that test, but there has to be growth.

Townsend: This is why we sponsored bill for free breakfast for kids with Rep. Osienski.  We need broadband access in rural areas.  The civil rights groups vs. teachers represented a frustration.

Miller: We are teaching to take the test.  He wants to see good instruction throughout the school year.

Gesty: I believe a parent should have the right to opt out.  The federal government shouldn’t put down a heavy hand when it doesn’t really help his child get into college.

 

 

 

Come To The Congressional Education Debate On August 18th!

On August 18th, the candidates for the Delaware U.S. Representative for Congress will meet at the Christina Cultural Arts Center for a debate on education.  From 6pm to 8pm, the candidates will field questions about their stance on education in Delaware and the USA.  Admission is free, but you do need to register through Eventbrite at this link.  As well, you can submit questions for the candidates at this link.  You can even submit a specific question for a specific candidate!

Confirmed to attend at this point are Democrat candidates Sean Barney, Lisa Blunt-Rochester, Mike Miller, Bryan Townsend and Scott Walker.  A tentative yes has been provided by Libertarian candidate Scott Gesty.  As of this writing, Republican candidate Hans Reigle has not responded.

I’ve been waiting for something like this to happen.  We need this for all candidates running for office: Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and the House and Senate candidates.  I put up a hail Mary thing last week about getting an “Education Forum on the Green” debate going, but to be honest, I don’t have the pull to make that happen on the fly.  I know my limitations!

The event will be sponsored by DelaCORE Leaders, with the Metropolitan Wilmington Urban League, League Young Professionals, and the PACE Network.  The event will be moderated by WHYY reporter Avi Wolfman-Arent and Nate Durant from Thomas Edison Charter School.