In December of 2014, the American Civil Liberties Union of Delaware and the Delaware Community Legal Aid filed a complaint with the Office of Civil Rights at the United States Department of Education. The complaint was against the State of Delaware and the Red Clay Consolidated School District. The allegations in the complaint were around how the state and Red Clay, as charter school authorizers, allowed charters to develop segregation and discriminatory practices in their enrollment. Almost three months later, after the ACLU gathered information from people around the state, they submitted the information to the Office of Civil Rights in their regional Philadelphia office. Since then, their has been no official resolution on the matter.
Back in February, the Racial Justice Program of the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation based out of New York reached out to the Office of Civil Rights for a status update. This is what they received back:
None of the charter schools listed in the complaint officially changed any of their admissions policies as a result of this. The Delaware Enrollment Preferences Task Force submitted their final report to the General Assembly shortly before the holidays last year, and not one piece of legislation has come out to address the issues. There is still a great amount of inequity in some Delaware charters compared to their neighboring school districts. I find it ironic both the Delaware DOE and the US DOE are so concerned about civil rights groups when it comes to high-stakes testing and how opt out could bring us back to “dark days” as some have put it. But when it comes to visible and transparent discrimination and segregation, the one office in the federal Government who could actually do something about it is sitting on it.
In looking at the OCR website at ed.gov there have been OCR complaints filed and resolved after the Delaware ACLU and Delaware Community Legal Aid filed their complaint. One was filed in September of 2015 and received a resolution in February of this year. The only cases showing from Delaware involved ones with Colonial School District, PolyTech and Family Foundations Academy from 2014. The longstanding Christina OCR resolution doesn’t show on the list because it only counts resolutions from 2013 and up.
I don’t see civil rights groups in Wilmington screaming about this. Why is that? When it comes to education and segregation, this is a shining example. Why are they so quiet on this issue but will say they know Smarter Balanced is a bad test but it is the only measurement for minority students to know if they are succeeding or not compared to their peers? I have to wonder how much influence the Delaware DOE and Governor Markell may have in making this drag out. Or possibly even higher up than them. Are any of our Delaware congressmen following up on this? John Carney? Tom Carper? Chris Coons? Or how about even Delaware’s own Vice-President Joe Biden? I’m certain this isn’t a resolution the Delaware Charter Schools Network wants to come out any time soon.
We need to rally civil rights groups on issues like this and not ones about opposition of parent opt out of high-stakes tests. I am calling on ALL Civil Rights groups to hammer the Office of Civil Rights office in Philadelphia, phone number (215) 656-8541, to make sure they are not stalling on this very important case.
Thank you to Richard Morse, Esq. for the Delaware ACLU in responding to my request to his office for information and allowing me to publish the response from the Office of Civil Rights.
US Senator Chris Coons (DE) got an award today. The Teach For America Congressional Champion award. He sure does like TFA and charter schools! If I recall correctly, the Delaware Charter Schools Network was lobbying pretty heavily in your office for the Every Student Succeeds Act. Hey Chris, thanks again for your unwavering support for TFA! Now how about going to bat for the other 98% of teachers in Delaware? Cause I’m pretty students in Delaware still get a “high quality” education whether TFA is in schools or not. Wendy Kopp’s vision for schools in America is Charterville and we all know it!
Rep. John Carney, Senator Carper and Senator Coons:
We need you to vote NO on the ESEA Reauthorization. This is not about children. It is about companies, and their endless invasion into public education. They want to turn our children into their testing guinea pigs with their personalized learning and competency-based education. We know this is just an even more invasive method for them to break up Common Core and standardized tests into micro-chunks through their digital platforms. We know lobbyists in Delaware and across America have been pounding you and your offices with all the reasons you need to vote yes. We know the Delaware DOE, the Delaware State Board of Education, the Rodel Foundation, the Delaware Charter Schools Network, and Governor Markell have most likely been calling you non-stop to vote yes. That is not good enough to sell the souls of our children down the river. You represent the people of Delaware. Not companies like Schoology and Achieve. Not American Institutes for Research and all their sub-companies. Not the Council of Chief State School Officers. Not the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium and the University of California.
I am quite sure all three of you have aspirations to continue in government, whether it is at a state or federal level. The people of Delaware are fast becoming aware of the dangers in this legislation. Those in the know don’t want this. They don’t want their children broken down into data points and tested incessantly. This is what this bill is all about. It is not about the students. It will only serve to kill the illusion of helping those who need it the most. Vote with your conscience, not your future prospects. Vote with the knowledge that if you let this bill pass, your chances of re-election or your campaign for Governor will meet with very serious resistance. This is not a threat, this is a fact. When you start messing with children, you hold your fate in the hands of parents. The same parents who press buttons at the voting booth. Some of you may think it is a foregone conclusion that your political lives will continue based on voting patterns in Delaware. This smoke and mirrors is evaporating faster than you realize. The polls may say one thing, but the reality is a parent’s love for their child is bi-partisan.
Do the right thing for the children of Delaware and America. We the people are counting on you.
Governor Markell, do not even think about acting like our very cowardly Delaware U.S. Sentaors Chris Coons and Thomas Carper did today with their “nay” votes on the opt-out amendment in S.1177. You have a duty to serve the people of Delaware, and we elect the legislators that write our laws. They overwhelmingly supported House Bill 50, our parent opt-out law. The 64 U.S. Senators who voted no on this amendment, including our own, do not realize it is NOT a state right to allow opt-out. It is a parent’s right. Pure and simple. By doing nothing with this bill, you are spitting in the face of every single parent in the state you govern. You are telling them their rights don’t matter, that it’s okay for schools to treat parents like crap. I’ve told you repeatedly, on here, on Facebook, on Twitter, and in an email I sent you that you replied to: your legacy in Delaware is at stake with this one bill. Because it is over this one test, the one you labeled as the “best test Delaware ever made”. Only someone who could somehow profit over a standardized assessment that has been repeatedly proven to be the WORST test ever made would say something so foolish. If you don’t step up for your state, for the citizens you serve, than how can you possibly think of moving on politically? This is not about civil rights groups, and you damn well know that. This is about honor and respect. This is about a parent’s choice. For their children. I won’t come to your house and tell you how to raise your children, so don’t you dare come into mine and tell me this is the best thing for my child. Sign the bill Jack. Sign it tomorrow.
The United States Senate just killed the opt-out amendment in their ESEA reauthorization bill according to The Washington Post. Senator Lamar Alexander, according to the article by Emma Brown, spoke against the amendment for the following reason:
“But Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) — the Republican co-sponsor of the carefully crafted bipartisan bill — spoke forcefully against the proposal, saying it would strip states of the right to decide whether to allow parents to opt out.”
Excuse me Mr. Senator? Nothing on this planet will ever give me a “right” or “allow” me to opt my son out except for the fact that I already have that right and allowance as a father. Politicians created this mess, and you need to get our children out of it. I take great offense at your suggestions this is not a right I already possess.
I agree with Diane Ravitch who just stated:
“I have great respect for Senator Alexander but his argument is not logical. The federal government mandates the tests, but it leaves to states the power to decide whether parents have the right to opt out. Why is the federal government mandating any tests? Why is this not a state responsibility? If he were being consistent, he would leave the testing and the right to opt out to the states. I would just remind the Congress that the Elementary and Secondary Act of 1965 was a resource equity act, not a testing and accountability act. It was meant to send money to schools and districts that enrolled students who lived in poverty. It was No Child Left Behind that turned the ESEA into a testing and accountability act in 2001-02. And it was the Improving America’s Schools Act of 1994 that first proposed that states create their own standards and assessments.”
Both Delaware U.S. Senators Tom Carper and Chris Coons voted no for the opt-out amendment. There are two other opt-out amendments in S.1177 Every Child Achieves Act, but this does not bode well for the other two amendments. I seriously hope both Carper and Coons don’t think the citizens of Delaware will forget this the next time they are up for re-election…
To find out if your state senator stiffed parents, go here:
Delaware Senator Chris Coons responded to a form I sent him regarding the ESEA reauthorization. Yesterday, there was quite the hullaballoo about an amendment that would continue the Annual Yearly Progress for American schools which Coons fully supports. In his letter, which I’m certain went to anyone who wrote to him about the reauthorization, clearly shows he wants what I view to be a destructive process for our students, educators and schools.
I worry about the influences around Senator Coons support for such an amendment. I worry he is not utilizing all stakeholders surrounding this issue. The corporate education reform movement is suffering from an infection which exposes the rot within, so they are getting very desperate. We need our leaders to start to walk away from these disruptive agendas and get back to the heart of education: letting our teachers teach and letting our students learn.
July 6, 2015
Mr. Kevin Ohlandt
9 Crosley Ct
Dover, DE 19904-1975
Dear Mr. Ohlandt:
Thank you for contacting me to share your thoughts regarding reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). I appreciate your taking the time to write. I strongly believe that the best ideas for improving our schools and ensuring our children can achieve their dreams come from those on the front lines of our education system: our teachers, parents, students, and community leaders and advocates.
I commend Chairman Alexander and Ranking Member Murray of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee for crafting a bipartisan bill to reauthorize the ESEA. I am committed to working with my colleagues in both political parties to reauthorize the ESEA and support a high-quality education system for Delaware students and teachers. All children in America, no matter where they live or how they learn, deserve an education that allows them to reach their fullest potential. The Every Child Achieves Act and the 29 amendments adopted by the HELP Committee are a promising step towards this goal.
I am pleased that the Every Child Achieves Act provides much needed flexibility and resources to states, maintains dedicated federal investment to school districts that serve high concentrations of low-income students, and expands the criteria that states can use to evaluate school performance. I also commend the Committee’s bipartisan commitment to early education, innovation, STEM education, and reducing the use of excessive and unnecessary standardized tests. While the Every Child Achieves Act is an encouraging first step, there is still more work to be done. I am eager to work with my colleagues to find ways to strengthen this bill through an open amendment process in the Senate. For example, the bill should include stronger accountability provisions that ensure that schools that are persistently failing to demonstrate results for students are not only identified, but also required to take action to improve the outcomes for students and are given the resources they need to do so.
I am committed to ensuring that any legislation to reauthorize the ESEA reflects Delaware’s values and supports our state’s educators, students, and families. I always appreciate hearing from Delawareans about their education priorities and will be sure to keep your thoughts in mind should the Every Child Achieves Act come before the full Senate.
Again, thank you for contacting me. It is an honor to represent Delaware in the United States Senate, and I hope you will continue to keep me informed of the issues that matter to you. My website, http://www.coons.senate.gov
, can provide additional details about my work in the Senate, including legislation and state projects.
Christopher A. Coons
United States Senator