The Rodel Foundation of Delaware has a new name. They are now called Rodel. This landmark rebranding effort comes to you from Rodel. It is the 20th Anniversary since the Budingers sold their business to Germany and decided to launch an education reform non-profit company destined to jack up Delaware education for all time. In honor of this infamous anniversary, it is time to talk about what Rodel is up to and what their goals and agendas are really about.
I’ve been writing about Rodel for four and a half years. But the complete and utter crap I saw from them in the past couple of weeks is the height of arrogance. They have been pimping their snake-oil for 20 years but they are now reaching the height of their power. As an example, Rodel seems to think they are the sole force in the creation of Delaware charter schools. If you ever doubted the complete farce Rodel really is, this screenshot from their rebranded website should cast those doubts aside: Continue reading
Greg Meece runs Newark Charter School. For 18 years, Newark Charter School is rated not only one of the top charter schools in Delaware but one of the top schools. There is a multitude of reasons for this but it boils down to diversity. At their public hearing for their charter renewal process, Meece made a comment that is sure to rile up the diversity crowd all over again. Meece openly lied about his own school. Continue reading
I warned them. Many times. Sit at the table and you will be on the table. The Delaware State Education Association was swallowed whole. By who? Continue reading
Delaware Secretary of Education Dr. Susan Bunting informed the State Board of Education yesterday she had lunch with State Senator David Sokola and State Rep. Earl Jaques. As heads of the Senate and House Education Committee, Bunting said it was to discuss upcoming legislation. Could this lead to state takeover of school districts in Delaware? Continue reading
The Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services for the United States Department of Education came out with their special education ratings for each state on July 5th and Delaware was rated as “Needs Assistance” in special education for IDEA Part B (ages 3 through 21). For Part C, which covers Birth through Age 2, Delaware was rated “Needs Assistance” for the second year in a row.
While OSERS did not release the letters sent to each state, they did put up a document covering what each state received for their rating. The individual letters are supposed to be up this month according to their website.
It is hard to give a lot of weight to these rulings by the US DOE. Most of the ratings are based on standardized test scores. I broke this down by school districts and charter schools a few weeks ago based on the letters sent to each district or charter by the Delaware Department of Education. When over 60% of the ratings are based on the Smarter Balanced Assessment or the SAT, by grade, we are failing to properly grade our special education. Students with disabilities, historically, are the worst performers on these type of tests. These tests do not give an accurate gage of the ability and knowledge these students need to succeed in school. While even the education reformers are jumping on the “standardized testing does not show the full picture in education” bandwagon, for the US DOE, the almighty standardized test is the basis of everything. These tests, based on Common Core, which President Trump swore up and down he would abolish (like he even could if he wanted to). Furthermore, these ratings are always two years behind. This current rating is based on the 2015-2016 school year.
Repeat after me, IDEA is more than a standardized test. IDEA is more than a standardized test.
Once the US DOE releases Delaware’s findings letter I will post it. Last year we were “Meets Requirements”. We tend to flip back and forth between “meets requirements” and “needs assistance”. In 2014 we were rated as “Needs Intervention” which upset me to no end until I found out just how flawed these ratings are.
How were the Delaware school districts and charter schools rated this year for special education? Every single one is in here and the joke isn’t even funny anymore! Continue reading
I was looking at various polls I’ve put on here over the past couple of years and I was astonished at some of the results of them! In some cases we were completely wrong! These were basically straw polls I conducted over the past year or two. Continue reading
Even though this made the rounds on social media, my guess is many of you have not seen it. I am also keeping the teacher’s name anonymous. But in reality this could have been written by just about any teacher in Delaware. It is something they all think. They all believe the façade of standardized testing is a complete and utter waste of time. Here we are, three years after the Smarter Balanced Assessment came out, and we are still putting children through this ridiculous dog and pony show. The needle hasn’t moved. But now the Social Studies and Science assessments based on these almighty standards are here. Praise the corporate education Gods! We now have more data to give to the hedge fund managers and those who seek to profit off children! Yes, let us all bow down to the phony corporations that have taken over state governments with their lobbying and dollars to have kids treated like cattle being led to the slaughter. Because this is progress…
Delaware Department of Education:
As I sit here contemplating my umpteenth week of testing, and I am not halfway through, I wanted to take a minute and thank you.
Here are the reasons.
1. I want to thank you for understanding that my students need an education and only forgiving one of the snow days, instead of all four. I am quickly planning engaging lessons that my students will be very involved in during those final three days of school.
2. I want to thank you for testing an entire year’s worth of content beginning in the third marking period, when the content has not been completely covered. I truly love a challenge.
3. I want to thank you for making the last two months of school routine-less as my students are testing for this and that and being pulled at all times. I don’t often have a whole class with me to cover new material, but as I said before I love a challenge.
4. I want to thank you for taking away the Social Studies standardized test last year as a gift and then providing us with another test this year. I was worried we were going to be down a test.
5. I want to thank you for testing Social Studies again because with all of the mandatory extra reading/math interventions I rarely have time for teaching it. (I also want to say thank you for creating a test that doesn’t technically cover the curriculum we teach in class; that is ingenious!)
6. I want to thank you for spending many dollars on tests that make my students cry and get angry and frustrated. I want to thank you for spending this money on tests that make me doubt myself as an educator.
7. I also want to thank you for realizing that it is completely acceptable to lose weeks of instructional time due to time-consuming testing but simply wrong to accept nature as an excuse to lose instructional time.
This has been my biggest beef with the opposition of Regulation 225. So many of those who are full-throttle opposed to it do not want the State of Delaware dictating something that could deny them their parental rights. They don’t want schools making decisions on behalf of their children without their consent. But they have been doing this for years! And you have had the most powerful weapon at your disposal and have not utilized it!
Every year, the public school children of Delaware are forced to take the Smarter Balanced Assessment. It is a worthless test that really tells you nothing about your child. You don’t get the results until AFTER the school year is over. It doesn’t tell you what your child’s key strengths are. It doesn’t tell you anything. But you allow your child to sit in front of a computer over a three-week period and take a test. Based on Common Core which many of you can’t stand already.
If you stand for parental rights and deciding how your child should be educated, you can’t do it in small chunks. You need to do it full throttle, in ALL aspects. If you want to tell the state that YOU are the parent and YOU make the best decisions for your kids, do it all the way.
If you truly believe in parental rights, you will prove that by opting your child out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment which starts in a few weeks in many of our schools. I have seen thousands of you oppose a regulation you believe is harmful. But I can guarantee you the Smarter Balanced Assessment has been pumping out data about your own child to education companies around the country. I can guarantee you it is a complete waste of time, money, and resources when our kids could be getting a more well-rounded education. But you let the State do this every single year. Some kids do bad on those kind of tests. It doesn’t mean they need extra intervention. Some kids ace those tests and may not get good grades. It doesn’t mean they don’t need intervention. Students with disabilities usually do terrible on those tests because the accommodations for them are horrible. Three years of this test and we are expected to believe it is a good test? The needle hasn’t moved at all. And it is based on Common Core.
Governor Carney wants more Math coaches in our schools based on his proposed budget. He wants those coaches in middle schools. Do you know why? Because the foundations of Common Core begin in the earlier grades. And it’s been around long enough that kids who were once in elementary school are now in middle school and don’t get the math! Our kids can’t stand Common Core math. Parents can’t stand it. If we need more math coaches in middle schools it is because COMMON CORE MATH DOESN’T WORK! But every year we let the state give our kids a test on it and then the state says “our schools need help” because of the test results. This is just one reason why I am befuddled with those who oppose Regulation 225!
You say you don’t want our schools doing this but you have ignored what they have already been doing for years. And here is the kicker: the schools hate these tests as well. They won’t tell you that, but they know it. It is state and federal driven, but behind that curtain is a whole bunch of companies that are profiting off YOUR kid based on the results of these tests. And don’t let anyone tell you we will lose all federal funding over opt out. It hasn’t happened in any other state. In New York and New Jersey they had more kids opt out than the entire population of Delaware. If you want to bring sanity back to education, it starts here. I don’t bemoan you opposing this regulation. It is your right to oppose something you don’t want for your child. What I do bemoan is parents not getting involved enough. When they are ignoring what is so clearly right before their very eyes.
If you REALLY want to send a message to the Delaware Department of Education and Secretary Bunting, you should opt our child out tomorrow or today based on when you read this. All you need to do is write a simple letter to the school:
Dear Principal ______, of (insert school name here),
I am opting my child, ________ __________, out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment. I expect my child to attend school on the days the test is administered and receive educational instruction while the other students take the test. I do not want a call from the Principal or any teachers telling me why I should not opt my child out. As well, I do not want to receive any letters from the school or district based on the Delaware Department of Education template letter indicating I can not opt my child out. Furthermore, I will not tolerate any type of retaliation or punitive action against my child over my fundamental right to opt my child out. This type of retaliation includes, but is not exclusive to, any threat of summer school, holding them back a year, or any type of isolation activity.
Thank you for your time,
After you give this to the Principal of the school, as in hand-deliver it to them, have them sign an acknowledgment form that they received your opt out letter for your child. This way they can’t say later they never got it. It can be as simple as this:
I acknowledge that I have received an opt out letter from ______ ______, parent or guardian of ______ ________.
When you have done this, start taking a serious look at the enormous amount of data collection already going on with your child. Start looking at EVERYTHING and ask yourself “Is this what I want for my child?” If the answer is no, don’t stop with opting out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment. Educate yourself. Read. Learn. Don’t listen to what places like the Rodel Foundation and the Delaware DOE are telling you. Listen to what other parents and teachers at the ground level have been saying for years. Those who of us who have been in the trenches and calling our legislators and Governors out for their totalitarian approaches to education. Don’t believe the Delaware DOE is miraculously turning into a “support organization”. Because that support is designed to drive up test scores on an already flawed test. And just wait until they turn that once a year test into stealth assessments, throughout the year. Make your move now or your child and grandchildren will deal with the long-term consequences for the rest of their lives. This isn’t something you should hem and haw on. You shouldn’t mull it over. You should just do it.
Only one application came in for a new charter school this year in Delaware. It is the same one that applied last year but that school withdrew their application shortly after. Sussex Montessori School is going for it again this year.
The proposed school is looking for 260 students in grades K-3 and by year four they are hoping to have 455 students in K-6. There is only one charter school in Sussex County, Sussex Academy. There are some very familiar names in their founders list and interested parties with a board consisting of nine people. It sounds like they have their ducks in a row with this application.
What bothered me about their Executive Summary was this line:
It is clear that the traditional public schools are not working well for many children in Sussex County.
They based this on… what else… standardized test scores. We will NEVER learn, will we? This charter school isn’t even open and they are already assuming they can drive those Smarter Balanced test scores up. I know, whether you agree with this or not, you have to kiss the ring of the Delaware DOE by promising higher achievement on the not-so-Smarter Balanced Assessment. Shouldn’t there be more to education than this horrible measurement?
Sussex Montessori School does have three enrollment preferences in their application: siblings of students already enrolled, children of staff members, and children of the school’s founders.
The school is projecting a little less than 22% of their funding will come from local school districts for each year they are open.
To read the entire application and all the attachments, please go here. The leadership team of Sussex Montessori School will have their first meeting with the Delaware Charter School Accountability Committee on January 24th.
In one of the most interesting pictures I’ve ever received, it made me question why we even have a Delaware Secretary of Education. On Tuesday, Atnre Alleyne (the former Delaware Department of Education employee, the co-founder of TeenSharp, and the Director of DelawareCAN) posted a Facebook memory from a year ago. The interesting part is the picture he put with it because that was NOT in the original post at all. Continue reading
Which districts and charters saw big jumps with student enrollment? Which went down? What is the state of special education in Delaware? What key demographic is rising at a fast rate which contributes significantly to the budget woes in our state? Which charter school, based on their current enrollment, should no longer be considered financially viable and should be shut down? What is the fastest-growing sub-groups in Delaware? And which cherry-picking charters continue to not serve certain populations? Continue reading
Delaware Governor John Carney is throwing Delaware’s public school system under the bus and he will begin this transition with the Christina School District. Yesterday, he sent an unannounced delegation to Springfield, Massachusetts that included far more than those on his public schedule. This group included Assistant Superintendent Noreen LaSorsa, Wilmington Education Improvement Commission Chair Tony Allen (who received his invite on September 23rd), Christina Education Association President Darren Tyson, and an unnamed member of the Delaware State Education Association (which was their legislative liason, Kristin Dwyer). I’m sure Carney’s Education Policy Advisor Jon Sheehan attended as well.
The News Journal covered the trip in an article by Jessica Bies:
Despite school board members asking to be equal partners in the effort, there were no members of that group on the trip.
Carney apparently seems to think Tony Allen is a better choice to bring on trips about Christina than the actual board members:
Tony Allen, chair of the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission, on the other hand, has known about the trip since at least Sept. 23, he confirmed Friday. He said he was invited sometime before that.
In the article, it said Board President George Evans received an invite “very recently” but was unable to attend. Board Vice President Fred Polaski said he didn’t even know about it until a reporter called him.
Christina Board member John Young had plenty to say about this trip on his Facebook account this evening:
Delaware officials touring a Massachusetts effort run by an unelected governing board under a 501(c)-3, just like DE charters for possible use in Christina. On its face it certainly appears that Governor John Carney does not intend to partner with Christina, but deploy untested, unproven ideas on us. I honestly took him at his word Tuesday, now it seems like I may have been wrong to do so. Google Springfield Empowerment Zone if you want the 411 on this ed reform trainwreck that’s seemingly on the way. I am disappointed that mere days after agreeing to engage us within the rules that govern public meetings and board actions, a delegation was sent out of state to “research” a model to insert into CSD and usurp local control, possibly placing millions and millions of dollars into the hands of an appointed board without any elected representation from Christina.
Carney is playing the exact same kind of education games Jack Markell played. I’m not sure which is worse at this point, but at the rate Carney is going I have to go with our latest corporate education reform Governor. What makes Carney so dangerous is his throw it in your face backdoor dealings. He doesn’t care who he pisses off. As long as he has his select cabal to go along with his plans. Transparency is a thing of the past with this Governor. He is initiating very scumbag moves.
There can never be public trust with John Carney. Never. He has proven that multiple times. He is getting our legislators to think his hocus-pocus public-private partnership scams are perfectly okay. There is no collaboration with Carney. If you don’t go along with his vision, he will go ahead and do it anyway. The very fact that Carney wants to emulate a flash-in-the-pan scam like this where the “partnership” creates a board to oversee these schools separate from the local education agency board of education where the state picks the four board members and the district the other three shows an immediate state control of Christina’s Wilmington schools. But his contempt for local authority was not missed by Young in the News Journal article:
It has become clear the trip was planned in advance of that meeting, school board member John Young said, which concerns him because if the Springfield model ends up being the basis for the Christina partnership, it would suggest the outcome was predetermined and the school board didn’t actually have any say in the matter.
That’s right Mr. Young. Carney doesn’t want the Christina board to have any say because he knows they would say no. This is priority schools all over again except this time Carney is very upfront about selling these schools off to a corporate entity. Call it a non-profit all you want. I’m sure the overlords of this non-profit would exact their pound of flesh from the district in the form of certain salaries and operating expenses.
Where is DSEA President Mike Matthew on this? He has been very quiet about all this since it came out in the past week. I would think, given his resistance to the priority schools fiasco, he would oppose this. But he has been silent and I would like to know why. Especially given what Bies said in the article:
Legislators in Massachusetts say the program is “compelling” and has made it possible for the state to effect educational change without seizing local control from school districts. Yet, teachers unions have complained that it removes control of schools from local officials and puts it more in the hands of the state.
What is to stop this from spreading out from Christina? I have no doubt Carney will push this on other districts as well. Especially when their Smarter Balanced Assessment scores don’t meet his fake standards. Once again, the Christina Board of Education will have to stand up against the evil empire (the state) to prevent further erosion in local control even though Carney’s crappy vision ridiculously suggests it would give more local control.
I have no doubt Carney will sell more of his public-private partnership encyclopedia salesman malarkey throughout his term as Governor (a one-term Governor I hope and pray). But what he is really doing is selling his state away. He is evaporating transparency with his Family Services Cabinet Council and the non-public board meetings of his public-private partnership board at a state level. The Delaware Department of Education seems to be okay with this and I have never been more annoyed with Secretary of Education Dr. Susan Bunting for going along with this dog and pony show. But I suppose that’s why Carney picked her for this post. She has become Carney’s yes woman. But what should I expect from the Rodel-Vision circle of followers? This is not the change promised by Carney in terms of the Delaware DOE. They aren’t a support network for schools. He has found a way for them to micro-manage our schools more than ever with this nonsense. But he wraps it in his public-private partnership bow.
As for Tony Allen, he is being used in a big way for the second time by a Delaware Governor. Markell used him and threw him out with the whole WEIC plan. Now Carney is sucking him in with his big vision for Christina. I would think Allen would be too busy with his new Del State job, but I guess not. Not listed in the article is another attendee, Nnamdi Chukwuocha. This Wilmington City Councilman actually thought it was a good idea for corporations to take over public schools in the infamous Christina priority schools board meeting when he gave his public comment back in September, 2014. More of Carney surrounding himself with those who will suck up to him, allow themselves to be used, or whatever empty promise or vapor he whispered in their ears.
The Delaware DOE, State Board of Education, and our past two Governors have had a consistent hard-on for the Christina School District. Once they get their hooks into them it is only a matter of time until the infection spreads. Delaware is a small state so it would not come as a shock to me that we are a model state to completely destroy the word public in public education.
This whole thing stinks like hell and I hope Delawareans who do care about public education wise up and stand up fast to this fake Governor and his shallow followers. If Mike Matthews is the man I believe him to be, he will fight this tooth and nail. If he even entertains this notion, I will publicly shame him and my support for DSEA will be done. If he does not publicly go against this, it will prove he ran for President of DSEA for the power.
The Springfield model is a fake. It is just another way for Carney and other corporate education reform politicians to erode local control away and give power to states who in turn give out taxpayer money to idiotic companies who have taken more money away from the classroom than anything else since public education was first invented.
I am beginning to doubt any sincerity from John Carney. This whole district consolidation task force seems to be the big distraction. “Look here and pay attention to that while I spin my web of lies somewhere else in places you would never think to look.” The problem with Carney is his ego. He really is as transparent as Saran Wrap. I don’t look at him and think, “what a great politician I can trust”. I think, “That guy can’t be trusted at all. He’s up to something.” We all know the type. But that seems to be okay for over half of Delaware who put the guy in power with an empty campaign that essentially had no platform we hadn’t heard before. This is what happens when you reward a false sense of entitlement Delaware voters.
Delaware Governor John Carney released a statement about his meeting with the Christina School District Board of Education last evening. I felt obligated to give it the TC Redline Edition. In which I give a no-holds barred critique of Carney’s boneheaded idea.
Governor Carney to Christina Board: Let’s Partner to Improve Wilmington Schools
Date Posted: Tuesday, October 3rd, 2017
WILMINGTON, Del. – Governor John Carney on Tuesday met with the Christina Board of Education during a study session at Bancroft Elementary School to discuss a proposed partnership between the state and Christina School District to more effectively serve educators and students in Christina schools in the City of Wilmington.
I have to give kudos to Carney for actually attending and meeting with the Board. However, that does not excuse the backdoor closed meetings he had with two of their board members over the summer.
Governor John Carney
Full remarks to Christina School District Board of Education – October 3, 2017
*As prepared for delivery
Thank Rick Gregg, members of the Board, Principals, teachers, parents and others present.
Proper thing to do when you are in their house so to speak.
I’m here with Secretary of Education Susan Bunting and Dorrell Green. I appreciate the opportunity to address the Board in this workshop format.
They would be the ones to also be there. Was anyone else there? Perhaps your Education Policy Advisor, Jon Sheehan?
I’ve lived in this city for 30 years. And it’s always been clear to me that as goes the City of Wilmington, so goes our state.
I respect that Wilmington is the biggest city in the state and it is essentially the gateway to the rest of it, but the rest of the state has a lot to offer. Perhaps Wilmington wouldn’t be in the shape it is in if the state didn’t keep trying to put all its eggs in one basket when there are hundreds of others as well. We get you’ve lived in this city for 30 years. It’s all we heard from you when you were campaigning for Governor. But you had many years at a Federal level to do more for Wilmington. What did you do for Wilmington when you were in Congress?
Wilmington is our economic and cultural center. Its success in many ways will drive Delaware’s long-term success. And so we need a city that is safe, with strong neighborhoods and good schools. We’re working with Mayor Purzycki, legislators, members of city council, businesses and the community service agencies to achieve these goals.
And yet we continue to see murders and violent crimes constantly. All we hear from political leaders is “we’re working with…”. That doesn’t solve the problem. Action does and I have yet to see true action being taken to reduce those crimes and rampant drug use.
Our efforts have to start with improving our schools, and doing a better job educating city children.
No, your efforts have to start with improving the climate of Wilmington.
One of the first things I did when I took office was ask Secretary Bunting to visit Wilmington schools.
Which she did.
I joined her on some of these visits. And while we certainly saw dedicated teachers and principals, what we saw by and large was very discouraging.
Let me guess: you saw children with hygiene issues and worn clothing. You saw a look in their eyes you couldn’t really understand. It tugged at your heartstrings and thought, “I will be the one to fix this.”
And when the proficiency scores for these schools were released this summer, we saw that they fell well short of what’s acceptable.
Here we go… the test scores. For a flawed test. In most schools, anything below a 65% is failing. For Smarter Balanced, the whole state is failing. Is that the fault of teachers and students or the test itself. Don’t answer, we already know.
All of us, together, are responsible for doing better.
We can always do better, but don’t put the blame on all of us Governor Carney. The buck stops with you. While you inherited many of these issues from your predecessors, you are falling into the same traps.
It was pretty clear to us that Christina’s portion of the City schools – Bayard, Stubbs, Bancroft, Palmer, and Pulaski – are in the most need of help.
Was it only a year ago that the state refused to step in when Pulaski had all the mold issues? It is great that you visit these schools but what have you done to make life outside of these schools better? These are the schools with the highest concentrations of low-income and poverty students.
Already we have taken steps that, I believe, will help our efforts in all city schools.
And how many of those were created by you with no public input. How many of those efforts involved back-door secret meetings? Once again, don’t answer. We know the score.
We opened the Office of Innovation and Improvement at the Department of Education, to focus state energy on these and other high-needs schools.
Ah, yes. Your attempt at “reducing” the Delaware DOE. By making a satellite office in Wilmington.
We created an Opportunity Grants program that, while not funded at the level that I want, will help identify proven practices for serving disadvantaged students.
Don’t even get me started on that failure of a FY2018 budget Carney. You put aside a million bucks while cutting exponentially more. That does not serve disadvantaged students. It is a Band-Aid on an infected wound.
We put basic needs closets in Wilmington schools, so students can have access to hygiene products, school supplies, and winter clothing, in a dignified way.
Now this I do support and continue to do so.
We’ve reestablished the Family Services Cabinet Council to better coordinate services to families and children, and to address issues of poverty that are impeding the success of our city children.
Closed-door, non-public, back-door meetings. We have no idea what this council discusses. For something you like to scream from the rooftops about, we have no clue what they talk about. Put your money where your mouth is and make these meetings public. Otherwise, this is smoke and mirrors.
But we need to do much, much more, and that’s why I’m here today.
Every time the state tries to fix these issues, the problems get worse. I have to wonder if that is intentional.
We didn’t get here over night. And we could spend all day debating the reasons for how we got here. I know a lot of that history through my father who worked in the old Wilmington Public School District and through my many years in state government.
Yes, why debate how we got there. Because until you take a deep dive at those reasons, you will never understand. You can’t ignore things that come into schools. But I digress…
Some blame a lack of resources. Dysfunctional families. Inexperienced teachers. Weak leadership. Busing. Trauma in the home. Segregated neighborhoods. Too much testing. Not enough testing. Bad parenting. Education bureaucracy. Violence in the city.
I agree with some of these: a lack of resources, dysfunctional families, weak leadership (some from CSD in the past and definitely from the state), busing, trauma in the home, segregated neighborhoods, too much testing, bad parenting, education bureaucracy, violence in the city. I don’t see the inexperienced teachers (except for the TFAers who get their rush-job credentials in a matter of months) and not enough testing.
Over the last few years the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission (WEIC) did a comprehensive study of the challenges, and came up with a plan to make changes. We’ve incorporated many of their recommendations into what I’m about to discuss.
In other words, you are copying the work done from others for your own political benefit.
It’s clear to me that the most important thing we should do now is focus on making changes that will raise achievement levels for city children. That’s part of my responsibility as Governor, Dr. Bunting’s job as Secretary of Education and your jobs as school leaders and Christina Board members. We’re in this together.
Together? Are you kidding me? For months you’ve been circling the wagons and cherry-picking people to talk to about the “Christina problem”. Divide and conquer. That’s what I see. Not getting that warm and fuzzy feeling I felt at your inauguration Carney…
I’m here today, at the invitation of your Superintendent, because I want to partner with you to say “enough.” I believe it’s time to begin intensive efforts to get our teachers, principals and students what they need in the classroom.
Knowing Rick Gregg like I do, I believe he invited you because he was getting tired of your secret meetings and wanted to make it a public event so people can see what the hell you are up to. I think it’s high time Christina said “enough” with the endless interventions from the state that have been compete and utter failures.
To that end, I’m proposing that the State, Christina School District, and Christina Education Association form a partnership that focuses exclusively on Christina’s city schools.
You and your damn partnerships. Let’s be partners. Public-private partnerships. In other words, let’s do as much as we can behind closed doors and throw transparency out the window.
My vision is to spend the next few months talking as a group about what this partnership would look like, so that by the end of this calendar year we can sign a memorandum of understanding to work together to improve these city schools and the proficiency of the students. I want to be ready to put our new plans into effect by the start of the 2018 school year. This aligns with your Superintendent’s timetable for implementing change as well.
When I hear Memorandum of Understanding, I hear priority schools all over again. Who is your Penny Schwinn that is facilitating this? How much state money will be spent trying to craft this MOU for months? Cause I published all the emails where Schwinn painstakingly tried to make the MOU from the Fall of 2014. And that was based on Delaware’s clueless interpretation of their own ESEA Flexibility Waivers. Schwinn did everything she could to make sure it was six Wilmington schools within Christina and Red Clay. Definitely Markell’s biggest failure.
I think our partnership should address five main issues that I’ve heard over and over again as I’ve toured schools in Wilmington.
Who is telling you these things you’ve heard “over and over”? Let me guess: Senator Sokola, Rep. Jaques, Rodel, Atrne Alleyne, Michael Watson, Donna Johnson, Jon Sheehan, Kendall Massett, Greg Meece, etc.
First, principals need more control over key decisions in their schools. I would like to work with you to give principals the leadership tools they need and the flexibility and autonomy over structural areas such as staffing/hiring, school schedules, and programs. To give them the resources to implement extended learning time, and to create other school conditions necessary to best meet student needs. As part of this partnership, the Office of Innovation and Improvement would work with principals and our institutions of higher education to provide principals with high quality professional learning, coaching, and support. The Department of Education, using state resources, would assist Christina School District in training principals to better use observations to provide effective feedback that will elevate instruction.
Gee, that sounds an awful lot like the “empowerment zones” in Springfield, MA.
Second, educators in high-needs schools need more say in how resources are used. I plan to engage Christina’s city educators to ensure we are working in partnership with them, as they are on the ground every day working to improve student outcomes. I would like to work with you to empower teacher-leader teams at each school to partner with school administration on key decisions like working conditions, resource use, and school culture. The Office of Innovation and Improvement would work with our institutions of higher education and use the full expertise of the Department of Education to provide educators with professional learning that is relevant, consistent, and meaningful.
In other words, more useless programs through TFA, The Leader In Me, and other cash-cow Crackerjack box outfits that will happily take state money to “fix” the problems. And that “full expertise of the Department of Education”… are you serious? How many of these “experts” at the DOE have actually taught in these classrooms? How many came up the ranks from TFA or the charter world?
Third, we need to address the fact that student achievement rates at Christina’s Wilmington schools are among the lowest in the state. In partnership with DSEA and CEA, I want to create more flexibility for these schools to provide students with additional learning time, including vacation and weekend academies. Teachers would receive stipends for additional hours worked, supported by state funds and the redeployment of district resources. I would argue serious conversations, in partnership with the Christina Wilmington community, need to take place around building use. We are doing our students, educators, and taxpayers a disservice when we have half-empty school buildings — needlessly spreading resources thin.
Maybe if the state stopped intervening in Christina, stopped pumping up charter schools like they are the greatest thing since sliced bread, and stopped calling Christina a failure, those buildings wouldn’t be half full. The state created most of this mess by authorizing so many damn charters up there. This is where you are assuming DSEA and CEA are on board with your half-cocked plan. You are seriously messing with collective bargaining agreements here. Vacation and weekend academies? When do these kids get a break? Are you going to churn and burn them until they score proficient on the useless Smarter Balanced Assessment?
Fourth, we need a plan to address the significant trauma students in Wilmington experience outside the classroom. I’m proud of the work already underway between the Office of Innovation and Improvement, DSEA, the Office of the Child Advocate, and community leaders to train staff to create trauma-informed classrooms. We need to double down on those efforts. I have already directed the Family Services Cabinet Council to work with City leaders to implement the CDC report, including finding a way to share data across state agencies about students in need. That work is under way.
How about thanking the Christina teachers who spend every single day dealing with trauma first-hand? The ones who wash kids clothes, make sure they have food for the weekend, and help students deal with the latest murder that happened in their neighborhood? You are all about the kudos before anything happens while failing to properly thank those on the ground floor. And what will the closed-door Family Services Cabinet Council do with all this data that tells us what we have always known? Let’s get real Carney: until you fix the crime, violence, and rampant drug use in Wilmington, these problems will always exist. Until you find a way to desegregate the charter schools that cherry-pick students and put every single Delaware school back in balance with their local neighborhoods, these efforts will fail.
Finally, we need to build systems to create meaningful, sustained change in Christina’s Wilmington schools. As part of a partnership with you, the Family Services Cabinet Council would launch a two-generation network to support infants, toddlers and adults, with the goal of breaking the cycle of generational poverty. Additionally, we ought to convene higher education institutions and create a pipeline to develop teachers and leaders ready to enter into our Wilmington schools. These efforts cannot be a flash in the pan. We need to methodically build systems that will endure.
Are you saying the teachers in these schools aren’t ready? That they can’t handle the trauma they deal with every single day? There is nothing any higher education institution can do to adequately deal with these issues until the state takes an active hand in dealing with the issues coming into the classroom. And Wilmington City Council needs to get their heads out of their ass and deal with the corruption going on there before they enter into any “partnership”. Once again, make your beloved Family Services Cabinet Council public. This whole thing reeks of non-transparency and I’m getting sick of that.
Give principals a bigger say. Trust and support our teachers. Tackle low proficiency rates. Address trauma. Build systems. That’s what I propose we work on together.
You will never trust and support our teachers while they are under local control. Never. You want to mold them and cherry-pick them to serve the latest corporate education reform scheme. The best way to tackle low proficiency rates is to get rid of Smarter Balanced and stop judging schools, teachers, and districts based on meaningless and useless test scores. These misused and abused scores are just one of the reasons why I advocate parents opting their kids out of the state assessments. Addressing trauma is one thing but finding a way to actively eliminate it is the true hurdle and I don’t think you have the money, resources, or guts to do that. Working together doesn’t require a contract like an MOU. That is a gun to the head and we all know it. You are seriously overreaching here with your executive power here Carney and you need to slow your roll.
The partnership I’m proposing isn’t flashy. It’s not an education fad or sound bite. It’s about the nuts and bolts of educating children. It is a simple but intense effort to put the focus where I think it belongs — in the classroom.
This isn’t about kids at all. It’s about different ed reform companies lobbying through Jon Sheehan to get their latest programs or technology into the classroom. And you fell for it hook, line and sinker.
Frederick Douglass said that “it’s easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” And that’s the choice we’re facing. We all have dreams for our children. But right now, we’re consigning far too many of our students to a life that no parent wants for their child. Every student we graduate who can’t do basic math or who can’t read or write, we’re sending into the world knowing he or she doesn’t have the tools to succeed. Doors are closing for these children before they even leave the third grade.
For the most part, the state created the conditions which led to these broken men. Through very racist laws and credos. The state allowed this to happen and now they want to rush in and save the day by fixing the schools. What about all these broken men? What are you doing to make restitution for the state’s absolute failure with them?
I believe, and I know you do too, that it would be immoral to let this situation continue this way.
Don’t speak for the Christina Board of Education Carney! It would be immoral for this board to give up local control so you can make education companies happy. How about you let Christina School District, under the leadership of Superintendent Rick Gregg and their elected Board of Education, do their thing. I like Gregg. I think he is the leader Christina needs. But your swooping in and undermining the hard work he has done is an insult at best.
So I’m asking you to form this partnership with us. Let’s take the next few months and work out the details. I’d like to hear your thoughts on what I’ve laid out, and on how you think we can work together.
I have to listen to the audio when it comes out today, but based upon reading the News Journal article on this last night by Jessica Bies, board member Liz Paige said it best:
Elizabeth Paige said the plan lacked specificity, but that she was willing to talk more as long as the state could guarantee they weren’t going to pull the infamous Charlie Brown football gag on Christina.
“We’re Charlie Brown and the football,” she said. “He has to prove he’s not Lucy.”
Don’t be fooled Mrs. Paige. He is most definitely Lucy!
Board member John Young gave Carney’s remarks at B+. I think he was being nice.
Harrie-Ellen Minnehan spoke the hard truth:
Harrie Ellen Minnehan said that students are often used as “political pawns” and that the plan sounded too much like just another in a long string of political solutions imposed on the education system but that have resulted in no gain whatsoever for students caught in a downward academic spiral.
The Christina Board of Education is at their best when they are fighting the latest state method of eroding local control. I saw this firsthand at the first Christina board meeting I went to in September of 2014. When they stood together and gave Markell’s priority schools idea a collective no thank you. I am hoping they do the same with this latest Markellian effort by Carney.
As for Dorrell Green, his quote in the News Journal is very concerning because it gives a good deal of insight into Carney’s plan:
“Do you feel you have the bandwidth or the internal capacity to see that plan through without our support?”
This was in response to Superintendent Gregg’s own plan to build up Christina. It as if Green was saying “You can’t do anything without the state helping out.” Which is exactly what the problem is here. The state interferes so much that it paralyzes the district. The state needs to do more on the side of fixing the crime and poverty in Wilmington. Let Christina deal with Christina. If the state wants to “partner” under forced coercion, that is bullying. Christina needs to enact a zero tolerance policy on state bullying. And just by using the word “bandwidth”, Green may have overplayed his hand. By using that particular word, he is suggesting Christina will get better by more corporate education reform double-speak education technology.
I have to give it to Carney. He has successfully learned how to play the field like Jack Markell did. He certainly has been busy trying to hand-select his pawns with this attempt. And yet he gave the farm away when he announced his trip to Springfield, MA on his public schedule. I didn’t see any of that in your speech. It’s like a super villain in a comic announcing their intentions before they even implement them. Look what I’m about to do. We see through you Carney. Stop listening to those around you who truly don’t have a clue about what is really going on. Otherwise you are just another Jack Markell. Be your own man, not a carbon-copy.
Don’t think for one minute that I don’t understand you Carney. I know about some of your antics with things lately. I know you hate my blog and will cast out those who support it. We both know exactly what I’m talking about. We know you have heard objections to this Christina scheme and totally ignored them. In fact, you punish those who don’t agree with you. You aren’t the person you put in front of the media. Who is the real John Carney? Time to take off the mask and reveal the true John Carney. We both know when this plan fails (and it will if implemented), the state will continue to blame Christina for their own failure and will embark on another scheme to “fix” the problem they create in the first place.
It’s been a while. At least for me.
I haven’t been blogging as much. Like I’ve said before, sometimes you have to take a break and recharge your batteries. But it doesn’t mean things aren’t happening offline or in sidebar conversations. These are just some of the things I’ve seen and heard the past few weeks: Continue reading
Last night, the Red Clay Consolidated School District Board of Education voted unanimously for the district to develop an Equity Plan through their long-standing Diversity Committee. The resolution, written by board member Adriana Bohm, would charge the committee to develop the Equity Plan, which will be presented to the board by April of 2018. Many community members came out to give public comment in support of plan.
Where this gets a bit sticky is the two charter schools Red Clay authorizes, Charter School of Wilmington and Delaware Military Academy. As their authorizing agent, Red Clay can conduct their charter renewal process along with formal reviews, modifications, and other such matters. But they cannot dictate district policy to those schools and make them follow it. Both schools have substantially lower populations of racial groups the Diversity Committee would talk about. Failure to address this huge gap between the districts and those charters would ignore the inherent and not-to-be ignored problems of race in the district. Based on enrollment preferences, those schools have the tendency to pick and choose who they want based on “specific interest”.
I definitely think Bohm’s resolution is a good one. Red Clay had mixed results with their Inclusion Plan over the past few years which has prompted significant changes in the way the district handles special education. Based on 2016-2017 data, Red Clay has more minorities than white students, with the largest of those minorities being Hispanic students at around 30%. But what I don’t want to see this committee doing is basing student success on Smarter Balanced Assessment scores. I do not believe these are a valid measurement of student success in any possible way. Many in the African-American community feel these are a valid measurement since they include all students, but when the test is flawed it is not a good measurement.
To read the entire plan, please see below.
The Delaware Department of Education just presented the 2017 Smarter Balanced, SAT, and DCAS-Alt1 preliminary results to the Delaware State Board of Education. Even though scores were up and down, the Department is excited by the magnificent work of… and that’s about it! As the poor guy next to me was snoring through the presentation, I listened to the whole thing. The only thing I cared about was that every district and charter school met or exceeded the 95% participation rate. Which means opt out rates are going down. Which means more Delaware parents are okay with their kids being tested, catalogued, tracked, and data shared with corporate education companies. That is nothing to celebrate. We need opt out numbers to increase and have ALL districts and charters crack that 95% barrier and plummet down to 90% or even 0% in the event of a miracle.
To see the rigorous and vigorous results (not really, just trying to add some super pizazz here), see below. Sorry, I just can’t take this test or the results seriously it all. They are about as important as wrapping paper after you open a gift.
The United States Department of Education released their annual state determinations for special education the other day and Delaware obtained a “Meets Requirements” for indicators under IDEA Part B. For IDEA Part C, they were designated as “Needs Assistance”. Part B is for children ages 3 and up to 21, with disabilities, and Part C ranges from birth to 2 years old. I wrote last year how so many of these special education indicators are based on the state assessment: their scores and participation rate play a very heavy roll. I have neither the time or the patience to get into the nitty gritty with these determinations at a granular level. The feds don’t get it and our state doesn’t get it. I have no doubt the Delaware Department of Education will celebrate this and say “look how far we’ve come”. But since so much of this is based on the Smarter Balanced Assessment, I give it about as much legitimacy as a Mona Lisa forgery.