Mike Matthews: Delaware Has A Teacher Shortage

It isn’t just Christina School District.  The entire state of Delaware is facing a teacher shortage with schools starting as soon as tomorrow in some districts.  Based on visits to school districts, DSEA President Mike Matthews said Delaware is short anywhere from 150 to 200 teachers. Continue reading

For The Love Of Special Education

Yesterday morning, I read a Facebook post on a friend’s feed.  She didn’t write it.  It is one of those “copy and paste” things on Facebook.  I usually tend to ignore them, but this one tugged at my heartstrings.  I felt obligated to put it down here, on this blog.  Because this teacher reminded anyone who read this what is truly special about special education.

I don’t remember the exact moment my life was changed by someone with a disability. The memories seem far away, blurry, as if they don’t belong to me. But this is what happens after you’ve been working with people with disabilities for years. You change.
They don’t tell you that when you’re filling out your application. Instead, they tell you about the hours, the health benefits, the 401(k) plan, the programs and the strategies. But they don’t tell you about the fact if you do it right, you’ll never be the same.
They don’t tell you it will be the most amazing job you’ve ever had. On other days, it can be the worst. They can’t describe on paper the emotional toll it will take on you. They can’t tell you there may come a time where you find you’re more comfortable surrounded by people with developmental disabilities than you are with the general population. They don’t tell you you’ll come to love them, and there will be days when you feel more at home when you’re at work than when you’re at home, sitting on your couch. But it happens.
They don’t tell you about the negative reactions you may face when you’re out in the community with someone with a disability. That there are people on this earth who still think it’s OK to say the R-word. That people stare. Adults will stare. You will want to say something, anything, to these people to make them see. But at the end of the day, your hands will be tied because some things, as you learn quickly, can’t be explained with something as simple as words. They can only be felt. And most of the time, until someone has had their own experience with someone with a developmental disability, they just won’t understand.
They train you in CPR and first aid, but they can’t tell you what it feels like to have to use it. They don’t tell you what it is like to learn someone is sick and nothing can be done. They can’t explain the way it feels when you work with someone for years and then one day they die.
They can’t explain the bond direct service personnel develop with the people they are supporting. I know what it’s like to have a conversation with someone who has been labeled non-verbal or low-functioning. After working with someone for awhile, you develop a bond so strong they can just give you a look and you know exactly what it means, what they want and what they’re feeling. And most of the time, all it boils down to is they want to be heard, listened to and included. Loved.
When you apply for this job, they do tell you you’ll be working to teach life skills. But what they don’t tell you is while you’re teaching someone, they’ll also be teaching you. They have taught me it’s OK to forgive myself when I have a bad day. There’s always tomorrow and a mess-up here and there doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world. They have taught me to slow down, to ponder, to take the time to just look around and take in this beautiful world and all of the simple joys we are blessed to encounter every day.
So when did I change? I realize now there wasn’t one pivotal moment. Instead, it was a million little moments, each important in their own way, that when added together changed me. And I’m grateful for each one.

I would love to know who the original author is.  I would shake their hand in a heartbeat!

Answers On Delaware Met Reveal More Questions

Today, on Town Square Delaware, members of The Delaware Met Board of Directors broke the public veil of silence and spoke out on the issues surrounding the school.  Based on this information and other information that has been sent my way, I have put a picture together of the events that happened last week at the embattled charter school

On Monday, a squirrel got into a transformer causing the power to go out at the school.  As a result, there was no school on 9/21.  On Tuesday, the students returned to school.  Where it gets a bit hazy is what happened next.  But what is certain there was no school from 9/23 to 9/25 due to emergency professional development for the teachers:

With the blessing of the Department of Education, we chose to give our teachers professional development time last week to assess these needs and make adjustment.

I believe the school, based on discussion from their Monday night board meeting, did attempt to reach out to parents to let them know about these unforeseen days off which were not on their website calendar.  On Wednesday 9/23, based on their agenda for their 9/28 meeting, the Board met in a Special Board meeting.  There was no agenda on their website, so it is difficult to surmise what was discussed at this board meeting.  On Friday, shortly before noon, I received two emails indicating the school was closing the next week due to violence, gang activity, fighting and Innovative Schools, the school’s management organization, severing ties.  I emailed the DOE and the school immediately for any type of confirmation.  To date, no one responded to any of my emails.  The school has this information, and chose to ignore me completely.

At the same time, we began to be made aware of whispers in our community and beyond that the school had already chosen to close. To answer these rumors, it was important for the Board to hold a special meeting.

This would have been the second special board meeting, so what was the reason for the first?  I knew of Delaware Met, but up until Friday I had never heard a peep about this school aside from an occasional article here and there.  The only time I wrote about them on here was for their performance award application and their award of $175,000.00.  The school had and still has every opportunity to contact me, and they know how to.  Back to Friday, a few other sources confirmed the earlier email I received.  To be honest, I thought the email was a joke, or someone trying to give me false information, which happens more than you think as a blogger.  I’m sure mainstream reporters can attest to this as well.  Other sources confirmed this information, except for one part: the part about Innovative Schools cutting ties with the school.  For someone to send that to me, it would have to be someone with inside information.  Since other sources were already vetting all the other information, I knew this story had legs so I published it.  While the DOE and I are battling on several issues, I sincerely reached out to them and the school.

Over the weekend, I did an extensive amount of research on the school, their student population, their application with the DOE, their finances, how they acquired the property at 920 N. French St, and other material on the property kept popping up as I was looking.  As I collected the information, it provided a wealth of articles.  In the meantime, the school put up their notice of the second special board meeting at some point over the weekend which I saw Sunday night.  As well, they put an announcement up on their Facebook page about an important announcement the next day and they hoped everyone would be there.  I’m not sure what their announcement was, but I responded to their post and addressed what I heard point blank.  To date, no one responded to my public plea for information.

On Monday, I focused on the history of the property.  Meanwhile, the school was giving information to the News Journal and alleging that the “rumors” were causing more harm than help.  Rumors which they knew came from this blog, they had my email address, they could have responded on Facebook, or even commented on the many articles that went up over four days.  Meanwhile, thousands of Delawareans were reading what I wrote with complete silence from the school aside from cryptic Facebook messages and even more cryptic board agenda announcements where they announced they were going to vote if they should keep their charter.  Without a charter, there is no school. No school would ever put up a notice like that over “rumors”.

On Monday evening, the board voted to keep the school open.  There was a great deal of discussion concerning enrollment, best practices for the teachers, financial viability, and school culture.  Many members of the community attended this board meeting that would not have normally if the “rumors” had not surfaced.  Serious questions arose out of this board meeting and deep concerns about the school’s ability to service and educate a very high population of special needs students.  Many of the teachers are not seasoned, and the school had (at that point) two special education teachers with a population of 60 IEPs, and more projected.  Legislators, reporters, and citizens attended this board meeting, and the bulk of them left feeling very perplexed at the administration of this school.

I’m not sure if Delaware charter schools have received a “don’t respond to the blogger” email.  But more often than not, no one from the charters respond after an inquiry before I publish or after I publish based on information that is already in the public domain.  I am open to communication.  If you disagree with something or find my information is not factual, please reach out to me.  I have fixed information based on a different perception or not being able to find information many times.  Most reporters have.  I don’t consider myself a “journalist” per se, but I do devote quite a bit of free time looking for answers and I write based on what I found.  I also offer my opinion which sets me apart from the typical newspaper or television reporter.

Yes, I had a bad response with a charter once upon a time.  Yes, I don’t like the idea of unelected boards.  No, I don’t hate charters.  I hate what many of the adults do at charters.  I get charter parents going ballistic on me cause I dare to write about “their” school.  If they want to give me facts, I am up for that.  But one commenter seemed offended that I dared to question what she wrote.  It’s a free world.  And while I respect anonymity, understand that I have no idea who you are.  I don’t know if you are the school, the DOE, or a parent.  I was taught by a college professor that they key to life is not in the answers, but in the questions.  I will always ask the questions based on the facts that are presented to me or that I find.

With that being said, these are my biggest questions concerning The Delaware Met AND the property:

  1. When did the school know they had a large population of special needs students coming and what did they do to prepare for it?
  2. Who is their special education coordinator?
  3. Why do they have no financial information on their website?
  4. What does Innovative Schools do for $380,000 in two plus years?
  5. Why did Innovative Schools pay $1 million to the Charter School Development Corporation who in turn bought 920 N. French St from the State of Delaware for an undisclosed and not in the public domain amount?
  6. Why does The Delaware Met need Innovative Schools?
  7. Why does one of their board members allow the school to pay the company he is a chair of?
  8. Why does another board member work for the same company that handles the school’s finances?
  9. Did the school reach out to other charters or districts for help with their student population?
  10. Did a student bring a gun to the school on the very first day?
  11. What was the purpose of the board’s special board meeting on 9/23?
  12. What was the big announcement revealed to students on Monday 9/28?
  13. How is a student with an IEP accommodated while at an internship?
  14. Does any member of the board benefit in any way from an internship by a student?
  15. Has the school considered hiring a School Resource Officer?
  16. Where is their student handbook?
  17. What is their enrollment as of 11:59pm this evening, including basic, moderate, complex and intensive subgroups for their large special education population?
  18. Are their teachers adequately trained to determine what is behavior and what may be a manifestation of a student’s disability?
  19. Do they have the staff to complete IEP meetings since so many of the IEPs may need to be relooked at based on their curriculum?
  20. How much did the State of Delaware sell 920 N. French St. to Charter School Development Corporation and why is this not on any public website?
  21. Where did the State of Delaware put this revenue?
  22. Is there any immediate danger to staff or students at the school due to its Brownfield Site designation?
  23. What was the nature of the work Duffield Associates did for the school last year?
  24. What is the DOE’s duty to ensure new charter schools are ready from day one to run a school?
  25. What are the DOE’s next steps in terms of this school?

While I understand the school can’t answer all these questions, I welcome Innovative Schools or the State of Delaware to answer them as well if it applies to them.  You may not feel like you have to answer them, but I’m like a dog without a bone sometimes…

Las Americas ASPIRA Academy Charter School Performance Award Application

The LAAA school as they are commonly known (okay, I’m just too lazy to type it again) wants $250,000 to hire special education teachers for a “co-teaching” environment.  While I love any school beefing up their special education department, I have to ask why they haven’t had them for six years, and how will they budget this in other years?  And don’t schools get IDEA-B funding for this very purpose?  If they have 100 students on IEPs, where is the portion of that allocated to those teachers going?  Hmm…paging the Exceptional Children Resources Group at the DOE….

So they want $235,795 for four special education teachers which amounts to an average salary of $58,948.75.  And what is the going rate for special education teachers in Delaware?  The median range is $55k, so they are close to the target, but I would have to think the funds for that would come from other funds already allocated to the school when it comes to special education.

And here we have another charter school that made $283,000 from the charter school transportation slush fund over a two year period!

I’ll Take The Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme, But I’ll Opt Out Of The Parsley!

I thought my recording of the Delaware Senate legislative session covering House Bill 50 would have able to be transcribed, but I’ll have to tinker with it and see if I can muffle some sounds (like the tip tap of me typing live during it).  I especially want to get the part with the Milford special education teacher, Jesse Parsley on here.  I’ll do my best.

Every single teacher I talked to about his testimony thought it was very flawed compared to their experience, including a couple teachers at the very school he teaches at.  None of them had such a flawless Smarter Balanced Assessment implementation.  They ALL took offense about his “teaching to the test” comments and if teachers are doing that then they aren’t doing it right.

Interesting facts continue to come my way about Mr. Parsley.  I’ll hold off on some of them cause I don’t like to go the personal route.  But I find it bizarre to say the least.  It almost seemed as if he was my counter, as a special education teacher, to somehow discount the problems numerous special education teachers and parents of special needs children have been saying.  If nobody else agrees with you, what does that make your testimony in front of a room full of state senators?

I’m sure certain people will take offense I am singling out Mr. Parsley, but he can take the credit for that.  If you want to go public about a controversial topic, you should expect some controversy, especially when most people aren’t on the same page as you.  I’ll opt out of the Parsley thank you very much!

If you are wondering about the odd title, it’s from a Simon and Garfunkel song from back in the 1960’s.  I’m showing my age here (even though I was technically born in the 1970’s).

My Public Comment at the IEP Task Force Meeting and What I Gave The Task Force #netde #eduDE @KilroysDelaware @ed_in_de

During public comment at the IEP Task Force meeting, I read the below statement.  It was emotional, I admit, but it had to be.  I didn’t want it to be, but it was.  Some things were ad libbed while I was reading, and I will update this when I hear the digital recording when it is released. I tried to update it as best I could.  Below that you will find out what I gave to each member of the IEP Task Force.

My name is Kevin Ohlandt. Some of you may know me as Jon’s Loving Father, or Jacob’s loving father, or that annoying guy who speaks at public meetings about special education. Who I am isn’t important. Who we are here for today is. In the state of Delaware, over 13% of our students have IEPs and are classified as special education. As we all know, there are an extreme number of problems with this process. We can sit here and blame the schools and districts, and we would be right. But that is a disservice to these children because the accountability from the state is horrible.

The Delaware DOE is the watchdog for special education in our state. Every year, there are certain compliance measures the federal government dictates to the DOE that they must follow. These measures are NOT enough. The DOE does not even look at IEPs that are denied. This is a crucial part of the process, and is a huge reason for the many, many lawsuits in this state. I met with Mary Ann Mieczkowski a couple months ago about this. Her response was the complaint procedure the state has is fair. It is not. Not enough parents want to utilize this long procedure, and when they do, half of the cases are not ruled in the student’s favor. We need more from our state, and if the DOE cannot do it, then the legislators need to step in and demand accountability from our DOE. They need to pass legislation demanding denied IEPs are also conveyed from the districts to the DOE. The DOE needs to audit these denials, and hold the schools accountable. They also need to do more than review 159 IEPs a year, and look for more than what the feds dictate. During the June Board of Education meeting, the Exceptional Children Group said about special education “We don’t know how to move forward.” They need to stop trying to move forward and embrace what is already there.

As Common Core and standardized testing has rolled out, special needs students have suffered. The teachers are so stressed out about “getting it right” and the consequences for that have never been higher for teachers. Classroom sizes are getting bigger, and there is not enough support. Delaware wants special needs children to be proficient or better on testing. How about Delaware becomes proficient or better with education first! Then they can judge children who have disabilities they neither asked for nor want. How about Delaware and the US DOE stops tampering with IDEA law with standards-based IEPs when they can’t even get the initial IEPs done right? How about Delaware stops pressuring children to be college-ready when they are in 5th grade? We all know Common Core and standardized tests will go away one day. It’s not a question of if, but when. Delaware needs to stay true to the heart of IDEA law, and not reinterpret these regulations just because the US DOE is doing the same, and being questioned by others in politics about that.

I stand here today, with the cries of thousands of parents and children with disabilities in my voice. We are mad, we are tired, and we are sad. Our children suffer enough having their disabilities. School should be a safe haven, not a battleground, pitting parents against administrators and psychologists who think they know more about children because they compare them to other kids. Each IEP is individualized, and there is no room for arrogance or combativeness in the room. Schools need to understand that when parents ask a question, we are not to be ignored. We are not to be lied to, or told we must have “misheard” something. The DOE needs to support this. There is no accountability for obnoxious behavior on a school’s end during IEP meetings. As supported by Amendment 14, parents have the right to choose how they want their child to be educated. That means we have rights too. That means when we tell you we know what our child needs, you aren’t supposed to blow that off and deny services.

The DOE doesn’t see what happens when a child does not receive the right accommodations or is denied services or even an IEP. The child cannot function properly in school. Bullying occurs, whether the schools rule it as that or not, and the student feels isolated and rejected. The student may be very bright, but they are not able to access their full capability. What happens to the child is the cruelest part. Inside of them, the light that shines so bright starts to diminish. It begins to fade, and their spirit is broken. That’s why parents get so mad. That’s why I’m standing here today, because this happened to my son and it is happening right now to thousands of children across our state. The Exceptional Children group sits in their new office, and they data dive, and look for root cause analysis, and form advisory councils to make newer IEPs when they can’t even understand the old ones, that work, and work well when they are utilized to their full potential.

Thank you for your time, and I have a list of all my legislative ideas to improve special education in our state. Please do not look at these and think about what a burden some of these would be for the schools or the DOE. Think about the special needs children who come home from school crying every day because the DOE and our schools just can’t get it right. Enough is enough. Delaware needs to be the 1st state in special education.

I then gave Kim Siegel my legislative ideas which were posted on Kilroy’s last Spring, and they were passed out to each member of the task force.  I did add two new ones based on articles I have done on here since then.  There wasn’t time for me to get into the whole charter school aspect of special education during public comment, but that will come up at the next meeting if I am given an opportunity to speak again.  I know the task force is focusing on the IEP process, but how many parents have gone from a charter to a public school due to “counseling out”, a severe lack of special services for our children, or a flat-out IEP denial?  Several of us!  And we are pretty lit up already due to that process, so by the time we get to the IEP meetings at the public school any impediment to progress can be combative on both sides of the table.  Parents who go through this are battle-worn already, and we aren’t as forgiving a second time.

Kevin Ohlandt’s Legislative Ideas For Special Education

contact: kevino3670@yahoo.com

1) All IEP and 504 meetings must be digitally recorded. This data must be protected by the school, and parents shall receive a copy as well. Parents must never be denied their own ability to record an IEP meeting.

2) All school board meetings, for any school that receives public funding, charter, public, vocational and alternative alike, must digitally record their board meetings and have them available to the public within 7 business days.

3) All school districts, charter, public, vocational and alternative alike, must have psychiatric or neurological consultation available for any suspected neurologically-based condition within twenty days of a parent’s request for an IEP.

4) All school districts, public, charter, vocational and alternative alike, shall put on their own website, the number of IEPs, 504s, IEP denials, and 504 denials they have had in the past month, to be updated monthly. For public schools, this must be put on the district website, as well as the website for each individual school in the district. They shall also share annual numbers as well, for each school year AND on a 12 month rolling basis. If a student changes from a 504 to an IEP, or if a decline becomes either an IEP or a 504, the school must make a note of that with the monthly numbers.

5) All school districts, public, charter, vocational and alternative alike, shall be completely transparent on their website. All staff must be listed. All board minutes must be listed. All attachments must be listed with the exception of something that can only be handled in an executive session. All monthly financial information shall be listed. With that monthly financial information, you must break down the sub-groups of funding you are receiving.

6) All schools must report to the DOE, on a monthly basis, how many current IEPs and 504 plans they have, as well as any IEP or 504 denials.

7) The DOE shall do a yearly audit of all school districts, public, charter, vocational and alternative alike, not only for already established IEPs and 504 plans, but also denied IEPs and 504 plans. The individuals doing these audits must be highly qualified special education professionals who understand IEPs and 504 plans, as well as all of the disabilities and disorders that these plans accommodate children for. If the DOE determines an IEP or 504 plan was denied for the wrong reasons, the school district must contact the parent(s) within 5 business days and explain to the parent(s) of their procedural rights as well as mail a letter to the parent(s) with the reason for the change as well as a copy of their procedural rights. The Department of Education shall publish the results of these audits within 30 calendar days of their completion each fiscal year. These audits shall occur during the regular academic year, not two years ago as dictated by federal compliance.

8) All Delaware parents, custodians, guardians, et al, shall receive, along with their child’s teacher and supply list, prior to the start of the next school year, a pamphlet indicating what Child Find is, a full disclosure that any evaluations a parent requests must be done at public expense, what IDEA is, how it works, a listing of every disability covered by IDEA, even those covered in other-health impaired, an IEP timeline, a sample copy of an IEP, what a 504 plan is and how it differentiates from an IEP, a sample copy of a 504 plan, and parents procedural rights, whether a child has a disability or not.

9) Any school district found in violation of three or more individual special education audit failures, shall be put on the newly created Special Education review, which shall have the same weight as any other criteria that would cause a school to go under formal review or needing intervention from the DOE.

10) All school boards, public, charter, vocational and alternative alike, must have a parent of a special needs child as a member of their school board.

11) No charter school may ask on an application if a child has an IEP, has special needs or any questions relating to a disability. If a child is selected to attend a charter school through a lottery or the school accepts an application prior to that, then the charter school can ask that question after a student has been accepted.

12) All charter school lotteries must be a public event, published on the school web site 30 days in advance, with two members of the local school district board members in attendance, and all names from applications must be shown to them before they are placed in a closed area prior to the picking of names.

13) All public, charter, vocational, and alternative schools shall change the number of suspensions that warrants a manifestation determination from 10 to 3. As well, if a child is removed from a classroom setting 5 times for a period of more than 30 minutes, a manifestation determination must kick in as well. For any child with an IEP or a 504 plan, a Functional Behavioral Analysis must be completed as well as a Behavior Intervention Plan or modification of an already existing Behavior Intervention Plan. Ten suspensions is too much missed instructional time and doesn’t benefit anyone.

14) All Charter Schools, with the exception of the charter schools that already specialize in IEPs (ex. Gateway, Positive Outcomes), must be counted as one district when it comes to special education. The excuse of low n #s in compliance indicators can no longer be given to individual charter schools when are not counted in an audit or a matter of compliance.

15) The Delaware Department of Education must disclose to parents any release of information to any 3rd party outside of the DOE, under any and all circumstances. For example, the Medicaid Reimbursement Plan. When parents sign off on allowing this at IEP meetings, they don’t know how much sensitive and private information is being stored on a 3rd party’s computers.

I’m not sure if any of these will come up at the next meeting, and who will take them seriously.  If you support these ideas, please let the task force know .  Matt Denn was very serious when he said he wanted to know what parents issues are with the IEP process.  We have from now until probably Thanksgiving to really make an impact, after that it will be about the draft resolution to Governor Markell.  Together we can make a difference.

 

 

Bored With The Board of Ed! Welcome to Delaware Penny Schwinn! Please Read Up On Our State! #netde #eduDE #edchat @BadassTeachersA @KilroysDelaware @ed_in_DE

The Delaware Board of Education meeting yesterday was full of controversy and shock.

I attended about an hour and a half of the Delaware Board of Education meeting yesterday. When I arrived, a gentleman from the American Heart Association was thanking the Board for their support. I sat next to a familiar face who was cutting out items for his classroom with a pair of scissors. I introduced myself to Mike Matthews who I had been in contact with on social media recently. I asked if he was giving public comment, and he said I just missed it but to definitely listen to the digital audio recording when it is available. Throughout the meeting, Matthews and I had continuous looks of shock and awe with the comments coming from not only the Board, but members of the Office of Accountability and Performance.

Secretary of Education Mark Murphy seemed very upset about the recent report on how 0% of teachers in Delaware were not ineffective. He didn’t seem to think this was the reality in Delaware. But we all know this will change in a year when the Smarter Balanced Scores come out, which the state has already said they are aware student scores will plummet, and teacher evaluations will be based on these scores.

The Board went through their motions, and we arrived at the Performance and Accountability Presentation. Penny Schwinn is the new Chief Officer of Accountability and Performance for the Delaware DOE. After Assessment Director Brian Touchette gave his reasons for why there are gaps in performance testing between different subgroups, and why charters weren’t included in the Performance and Accountability Presentation (because they have their own performance framework arrangement with the state of Delaware), Schwinn gave a rather enlightening and distorted presentation of African-American students and students with disabilities.

For children with disabilities, she claimed the reasons for the performance gaps in DCAS scores was attributable to the following factors: Litigation at a district level distracted teachers from being able to give adequate special education accommodations, high teacher turn-over and a limited hiring pool in Delaware for quality special education teachers compared to other states. She did say there is a new strategy of looking at IEPs in Delaware, and that is to target the performance of students with disabilities. Which is, as we all know, the coming standards-based IEPs in Delaware. She did recognize that dual credentials for special education teachers provide “expertise and knowledge” in the classroom. What she failed to mention, in Delaware and across America, many special education teachers are leaving the profession due to upcoming teacher evaluations which will be based on student test scores. Many special ed teachers fear losing their jobs, so they are leaving the profession. Who will replace all these teachers with this expertise and knowledge when they are driven out or quit?

Schwinn expressed her interest in Student-Based Plans, which are IEPs, but for regular students. This is one of the goals of Rodel’s Vision 2025, to do away with special education and all students get their own version of IEPs. This just supports my fear and theories of the future of special education. See https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2014/07/28/special-education-in-america-where-is-it-going-spread-this-link-all-over-reblog-netde-edude-delaware-usedgov/

Schwinn went on to talk about African-American student performance in Delaware. She said they expect high performance from all students, and this is driven through PLCs and site leadership. PLC is Professional Learning Community, which emphasizes shared leadership, community-based work groups, and learning over teaching. Schwinn wants to create strategies to prevent downward trends among African-American students in Delaware. She said there is a low expectation for African-American students from teachers “across the board”. At this point, Board of Ed Member Gregory Coverdale asked Schwinn if she felt the rising violence and murders in Wilmington was causing an impact in classroom environment in that area, to which she responded “That isn’t necessarily a hurdle to overcome”. For the three African-American members of the Board of Education, the looks on their faces said it all immediately after her response.

Dr. Teri Quinn Gray, the President of the Board of Education, said the following based on an article from WDDE today: “From those of us who are in under-represented groups, we deal with this often,” said Gray, who is African-American. “I’m not quite sure what to say about low expectations and cultural mindset,” she said. “How do you address that? A shift of culture takes 20 years, as they say, at least 10.” – See more at: http://www.wdde.org/66555-state-education-officials-seek-reasons-lack-progress-narrowing-achievement-gap#sthash.ii0NJYD3.dpuf

It is obvious Schwinn, who has been in her role for two months after leaving Sacramento, CA, needs to do a bit more research on Delaware. To think the issues of crime in Wilmington won’t have an impact on the classroom is foolish and naïve. To insult issues of poverty, crime and discrimination shows an apparent lack of the true reality in Wilmington. This is definitely a hurdle to overcome Penny Schwinn, and to continue to ignore this reality will only make the problem worse. As the Chief Of Accountability and Performance in Delaware, you need to look at ALL aspects of environment and how they impact the classroom.

For students with disabilities, Schwinn needs to recognize why special education teachers are leaving the profession, and that is mainly due to forced compliance with Common Core standards being shoved down their throats. Children are more than test scores, and the sooner the DOE realizes that, the better education and special education in Delaware will be. Litigation is rising in Delaware because of this education reform, not in spite of it.

The fact that charter schools in Delaware were not included in this presentation speaks volumes. To not include them ignores the impact charter schools have had on students with disabilities and minorities in Delaware, especially in the Wilmington area. Certain charter schools in our state have specific enrollment requirements that discriminates against low-income minorities and special needs children. The easy excuse for this by ignorant people is that children with disabilities are “low performers”. I think the Exceptional Children Group in the DOE is on the right track in correcting this position, but they need to realign their priorities in how to go about this.

But I can see how you would come to those conclusions based on your resume: http://transparentchristina.wordpress.com/2014/08/01/meet-the-new-chief-accountability-and-performance-officer-for-the-delaware-doe-more-choice-accountability-and-tfa-straight-up-gap-closing-bullshit/

And yet, your one tweet twitter account from 2010 tells a completely different story: “@EnchantmentAZ As a teacher, role model and advocate for kids from low income communities, my mom inspired me to teach and be a foster mom.”

You are not currently advocating for these children. You may want to recheck your roots and be a part of the solution, not the problem.

Teachers Victims of Fascist Regime When Speaking Out Against Standard-Based IEPs, Welcome To The New America…

Since I wrote my article yesterday about the new “Standards Based IEPs” the Delaware DOE are “consulting” with school districts, I have heard from many teachers across the USA. What I am hearing is shocking and appalling. I cannot reveal any names of these teachers as they fear retaliation and apprisal stemming from what they have told me. Apparently, standards based IEPs are not just a Delaware thing. Many states are adopting this new form of IEP. Many special education teachers are firmly against what these new IEPs are based on. When they speak out against it to their administators or school districts, they are punished. Some have been suspended, and others have been suspended without pay. Others have been switched off a particular child’s IEP. For the sole crime of using their freedom of speech to address what they feel violates the spirit of an IEP. This is a sin beyond measure. What has our country come to when those we hire to instruct our children are punished for speaking about what is best for special needs children. Aside from their parents, they know these children best. They know what their strengths and weaknesses are. This should be illegal. I am surprised more teacher unions aren’t addressing this matter. What has become of education in America?

Many parents as well have reached out on this topic and feel this is not what is best for their children with IEPs. To say they are furious would be putting it mildly. Does this mean that existing IEPs will all have to be rewritten when this rolls out everywhere? Where is the parent as well as the rest of the IEP team’s input? An IEP is decided by an IEP team, not a state DOE, or the US DOE. To change what has been in existence for years by a regime that really doesn’t care what the people think is very arrogant. This is not America. It has become an authoritarian dictatorship, where those who speak out against it are either put down, or worse, punished. This affect MILLIONS of lives. With dwindling support from teachers and parents, it is scary to think what will become of education in our country if it continues on it’s current track.