Breaking News: DOE Advising Legislators Of Smarter Balanced Results Before Districts and Parents!!!!

Delaware DOE, Smarter Balanced Assessment

The Delaware Department of Education is going to meet with members of the General Assembly and let them know what the results of Smarter Balanced were in the coming weeks.  This will be weeks, if not a month, before the results are released publicly.  I would think they would release the results to everyone all at once, especially parents and schools.  But there may be other motivations on the DOE’s part.

They know the General Assembly is coming back in five months.  They also know these scores will be very bad.  Under Governor Markell’s expert advice I’m sure, they are going to meet with the legislators to soften the blow.  They will give them every assurance of the following: “It’s only the first year.”  “Through going over the data, we have recognized the parts that need to be fixed.”  “We aren’t going to give the SBAC to juniors anymore since they already take the SAT.*”  “We need to give the test a chance and work out the bugs.”  “We realize the test is too long, so we are going to shorten it a bit.”  “We really can’t have parents opting out.  Can we trust you to look out for the kids and not vote for an override of the veto?”

I find it very interesting the DOE feels legislators need to know this information BEFORE parents.  The DOE is getting very desperate these days and their nervousness is beginning to show.  They are no longer operating under the arrogance we have known in the past.  They are scared.  They know most of them, at least the higher-ups, will be gone come January 2017.  They truly felt Delaware was unique and would survive the storms going on across the country.  They didn’t count on parents and teachers rising up as much as we have, and the domino effect this has caused.  They thought they were protected and untouchable, but now they know the game is over.  How long have they had the results?

Meanwhile, Governor Markell seems to think the veto override won’t even make it to the table!  I’m guessing he really thinks he owns the General Assembly and they will do whatever he tells them to do.  We know this is true with some of them, but I wouldn’t count them out Jack!  You also didn’t think House Bill 50 would ever pass the House or the Senate.  It must have been embarrassing to see your biggest education initiative railroaded in a bi-partisan show of support for parents.  But I’m sure you’re right Governor.  I’m sure they will ignore thousands of constituents during an election year and do whatever the lame duck demands they do.

For the schools that gave parents a rough time over opt-out: how does it feel knowing the DOE is sitting on the data that caused so much grief in your schools the past year?  They already have the results and they aren’t sharing it.  They need to spin it first, so when they do give them to you, they already have their scripted responses for all of you and the media.

To the legislators of Delaware: Don’t buy their spin.  Remember the reasons why you voted yes for House Bill 50.  Carry that with you over the next five months.  The DOE is trying to clean up the mess they created by causing havoc and chaos in the schools of Delaware.  They will use you.  They want your voice to soften the blow.  You were not elected to be Governor Jack Markell’s servant.  You were elected by the people in your district to serve them, to look out for their best interests.  Not Jack’s.  For those who voted no on the opt-out bill, was it worth it in the end?  Do you trust the Governor that much to think he can truly deliver on what he promised you?  He used all of you to further HIS agendas, not yours.  When he leaves in January 2017, he won’t give any of you a second thought…

For the parents: was any of this worth it?  Our state Department of Education has the results of a standardized assessment your children took months ago and they are not giving them to you.  This is a slap in the face.  You won’t even know until your child is back in school for a few weeks.  I will tell all of you again, this test does not matter.  When you get the fancy letter in the mail from the DOE, with all their fancy graphs and growth trends, and all the pretty colors, take it for what it is: a gigantic waste of time when your child could have actually been learning instead of being a guinea pig for the DOE and their corporate buddies.  Remember the millions upon millions of dollars that were taken out of your child’s classroom so the DOE could unleash this test.  Remember this and say never again.  This year, Refuse The Test.  On the very first day of school.  If the DOE can’t give you the respect YOU deserve so they can put a Band-Aid on a gushing flesh wound, than they don’t deserve to receive more data at your child’s great expense.

*Since the College Board is aligning the SAT to Common Core, there is no need for high school juniors to take the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  They essentially already are…

The Sneaky And Crafty Delaware DOE, The Responsibilities of the General Assembly & Student Rigor

Education in Delaware

The Delaware DOE is making a push for another year of the Smarter Balanced Assessment not counting towards teacher evaluations.  So that will mean, if the US Department of Education allows this, the scores won’t hit the teachers ratings.  Pretty cool, right?  WRONG.  This means nothing for the schools themselves.  They will still be counted in the Annual Yearly Performance ratings.  Not a big deal, right?  WRONG.  Does the term priority schools ring any bells?

At the January House Education Committee meeting, Delaware State Rep. Kim Williams asked Penny Schwinn, the Chief Accountability and Performance Officer for the DOE if there would be any new priority school announcements this year.  Schwinn said no.  But was she talking about 2015 or Fiscal Year 2015?  The last priority schools announcement was made on September 4th based on the DCAS ratings, a test the state isn’t using anymore because it wasn’t aligned with the Common Core State Standards.  But if teachers were implementing those standards in schools as far back as three years ago, then all of the data is skewed at the DOE with accountability ratings.  They don’t care.

Even though legislators met with the DOE about holding off on the teacher accountability ratings for another year and we have no transparency on that, the DOE still ignored the request, thus the request to Governor Markell.  Do not see any attempt by the DOE to be a peace offering to the citizens of Delaware, including teachers, schools, parents and students.  They have become a bureaucracy filled with a lot of young people who are using Delaware as their stepping stone to their next big thing.  When the Schwinns, Ruszkowskis, and Watsons leave the DOE, another KIPP/TFA/Charter Leader will be waiting in the wings to fulfill the bastardized legacy of the Markell/Rodel vision.

If these legislators who are so desperately trying to help the students and teachers of Delaware truly want to make true and lasting change, they need to do the following:

1) Introduce legislation to repeal House Bill 334 from the 147th General Assembly allowing the Smarter Balanced Assessment to begin with and ban any high-stakes assessments in the State of Delaware.

2) Introduce legislation to make the Secretary of Education and the State Board of Education elected officials.

3) Introduce legislation banning Common Core in Delaware.

4) Introduce legislation that the State Board of Education cannot approve any  Elementary and Secondary Education Act waivers without approval by the General Assembly.

Do these things, and the “getting angrier by the day” citizens of Delaware who put you in office will begin to take you seriously when it comes to education.  These are bold moves, but all four of these have put Delaware in the position it is now: stagnant education tied to federal standards with a Department that has fattened themselves up at the expense of the students of Delaware.  You may get some flack from Governor Markell over these matters, but there could be a strong case for if you were able to get a subpoena for a certain individual’s full financial records including stock portfolios and any pertinent information tied with the sources of said funding.

For the students of Delaware who are not opted out of the state assessment, you will be told on Monday to make sure you get a lot of sleep in the coming weeks, eat your Wheaties, and do your best.  All the rigor will have paid off, cause it’s Smarter Balanced time!  You will be in front of computers for hours with expectations that you can all type.  You will see teachers attentive to your every need during these tests.  Some may offer you incentives to do well.  Others may tell you what will happen if you do bad.

Know this students of Delaware: the last thing the DOE wants is a corruption of data.  They don’t want to see students start the test and then intentionally get problems wrong.  They don’t want to see students scores not even count because of this.  That would be oh so very wrong to do.  It would tamper with the whole system and cause headaches from Dover to Washington D.C. and could make certain politicians ask some very tough questions about the validity of these tests.  I know students are doing this in other states, at very high levels, but let those states deal with that.  We are Delaware, and we believe every student deserves a top-notch education.  Let’s close those performance gaps kids.  Just because you may have special needs, or you are a minority, or you are low-income doesn’t mean you can’t perform just like everyone else.  Ignore the scientifically proven facts that show these facts.  That kid next to you, you can be the same as him.  The one to the other side of you, ignore his frustration when he can’t type.  This is what 3rd grade should be about!  And 10th!  You should all be the same.  Take that original thought out of your head.  If you want to paint something in art, do that at home.  Art is about writing about art.  Don’t worry about playing in a band.  We want you to explain how bands have changed 4th of July ceremonies as opposed to playing pre-recorded music.  We want you to evaluate and elaborate the same as everyone else but don’t question anything, because that’s wrong.  There is one standard for all, and we must follow it.  Why play sports when through the joy of personalized learning you can learn about sports on a computer.  You won’t have to deal with a teacher, cause she will just give you some quick guidance on how to do your online programs for the day.  This is your life, but don’t worry, it’s all been predetermined for you.  And don’t worry about your teachers, because they will all be the same.

Meanwhile, students in Finland have NO standardized testing, lower classroom sizes, shorter school days, better special education, less poverty, teachers who have high value in society, and to top it off, students get more recess.  And they are considered the best in the world.


Markell’s Office Plays Spin City On Housing Discounts For Charter Teachers While Other Teachers Fume

Governor Markell, Uncategorized

On Sunday, I wrote about how Governor Markell’s Downtown Development District is offering “below market value” discounts to charter school teachers at Market Street Village.  This was verified by both the Delaware News Journal and The New York Times in articles about this revitalization of Wilmington’s downtown housing district.  Meanwhile, Governor Markell’s office puts their spin on the story.

Delaware State Senator Bryan Townsend, upon hearing the news, reached out to Governor Markell’s office.  They responded this was miscommunication on the reporter’s part.  They didn’t specify if this was the NY Times or The News Journal reporter or both.  They said the discounts for charter school teachers are just an “example” of the types of discounts offered.  Apparently this is offered through the Delaware Talent Cooperative.  This program allows for teachers to transfer to inner-city high needs schools and are given incentives to do so.  The only problem with this is that this program is not offered to public school district teachers in Newcastle County.

The Governor’s staff has confirmed with the developer, and updated me, that many other groups are eligible for the discounts. It seems someone (the reporter, or whoever provided the info) should have listed “charter teachers” as an example of who is eligible for the discount, not that they’re the sole group eligible.

When asked if this program includes other teachers out there, Townsend responded with this:

As I understand it, to be eligible one has to be employed and meet certain federal reqs. I do not have more details than that right now, but I’ve been told that the “charter teacher” reference was only meant to be an example of someone who would qualify (and perhaps be interested, with a short walk from home to work). I don’t think “charter school teachers” is any kind of defined group for eligibility purposes.

As for Governor Markell, it would be very hard to think he did not read the article in the New York Times.  After all, he linked to it on his Twitter and Facebook Accounts:

In case you missed it: The New York Times profiled some of the exciting developments happening in Wilmington to attract “a new generation of young professionals who want to live and play in the communities where they work.” Wilmington has its challenges, but also growing employers, new housing investments, and great cultural assets on which we can build.

As well, both newspaper articles mentioned one specific building where charter school teachers would receive this discount, where 77 units are being offered, at Market Street Village.  There might be other discounts at other buildings, but this particular building was named.

Reaction from public school district teachers and other members of the community are unified in disgust:

I was hoping for good things from Gov. Jack Markell’s Downtown Development District. Now to read that his plan will offer discounted mortgages to ONLY charter school teachers? Wow. Wow. Wow. I really don’t know what to say.

 I read about discounted apt. rentals downtown for Charter teachers. I had the same reaction — why not ALL teachers? Or Firefighters, OR Police officers. Very odd!

Not surprised! It’s all part of his master plan….destroy public education/educators. Sad state of affairs!

I’m going to apply at Wilmington Charter since it’s like that 🙈🙉🙊😎

It’s time to have a sit down with all of the candidates for Governor is 2016. We endorsed Markell twice, did we not? Why are we endorsing, and advising our members to vote for these clowns?

This is disgusting. I have no words!

It really is disgusting at this point.

I am wondering why Markell thinks this is okay?

FUBAR beyond belief

Seriously, how is anyone here surprised, or shocked, or outraged? This is what happens when people go along to get along with policymakers who are controlled rigidly by ideology. They do not listen to us, and do only what they want to do. Until we stop giving them our time, our data, and our inability to mobilize and depose them, they will not stop.

I thought it was going to be geared to AmeriCorps people…so Vistas, Public Allies, as well as TFAers. That would’ve been somewhat fine with me – most of those folks make peanuts…to make it charter only is an extremely awkward, unfortunate choice.

Jack the Jerk

sadly, you guys bought the charlatan’s wares

This is shocking. Please remember these subsidies when anyone argues that charter schools operate less expensively than district schools. Teacher housing subsidies are part of their cost, it seems.

It’s another slap in the face to public school teachers.

What a tool…..

This is DoE Gone Wild, plain and simple. LEAs said three years ago that the Delaware Talent Cooperative was a sham program not steeped in research and that it could have a divisive effect in our schools. RCEA soundly rejected DoE’s Talent Coop and our District and Board respected our wishes to stay out of this toxic incentive program.  So this is DoE’s roundabout way of keeping this DOA program chugging along.  They are truly pathetic.

Mr. Markell suffers from Union animus plain and simple

Glad I didn’t help put him in office!

These types of housing programs for teachers are usually in areas where even a modest rental can’t be obtained by them. Is this the case in Wilmington? I seriously doubt it unless Wilmington is the new Boston or Princeton and I’m just clueless!

amazing. i worked incredibly hard as a public school teacher for over 20 years. I stuck it out even though it was not easy. Incredibly rewarding though. This is a shocking move by Markell.