Delaware DOE Continues To Ignore The Voices Of Their Stakeholders

The Delaware Dept. of Education has a very bad habit.  They ignore what the people are telling them.  This is the case with the 2016-2017 Delaware School Success Framework.  Once again, they are incorporating the Smarter Balanced Assessment participation rate as a penalty in the framework.  Even though a majority of their stakeholders in the Measures of School Success ESSA Discussion Group said they don’t want this anymore.  The final regulations from the U.S. Dept. of Education concerning participation rate have not come out yet but ESSA dictates that it is the decision of the states and local education agencies to determine how they handle opt out.  US DOE Secretary of Education John King received a great deal of flack from parents, educators, and citizens with his harsh regulations surrounding accountability.  This also drew the attention of members of Congress who felt King was abusing the authority given to him with ESSA.  The state does NOT have to have a penalty for participation rate.  But the DOE continues to treat ESSA as a penalty-providing opportunity.

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The above picture was taken by one of the members of the Measures of School Success ESSA Discussion Group.  The discussion groups come up with ideas and thoughts on how to improve schools.  For this discussion group, after they have answered all questions, they put three stickers next to their top priorities.  Not having opt out as a penalty in the DSSF and having the school report what may have happened received 8 stickers.  If I remember this meeting correctly, there were only about half the members in attendance.  So for this to get 8 priority stickers, that is huge.  But the Delaware DOE ignores this.

Last year, when the Accountability Framework Working Group convened to decide on the final version of the DSSF, they came up with the same idea which was a valid option from the US DOE.  It looked like that was going to go through until Governor Markell stuck his nose into it and directed Secretary Godowsky to proceed with the opt out penalty.  Even though Markell will end his reign as Governor and is moving onto bigger and better things, like performing in the Nutcracker, the DOE continues his very bad education policy.

Last night, I had an interview with Education Week.  They reached out to me due to my role on the Student and School Supports ESSA Discussion Group.  I won’t spoil the interview, but there was discussion around what the true role of “stakeholder input” is with Delaware’s ESSA plan.  Many feel that we are just placards in the process and the Delaware DOE will do what it damn well pleases.  This latest version of the DSSF just reinforces that thought.

Incoming Delaware Governor John Carney: you really need to put the brakes on the DOE Accountability Machine!  The DOE needs to listen to their stakeholders more than Rodel!

State Board Of Education Postpones Special Education Strategic Plan Presentation

The Delaware State Board of Education has their monthly meeting today at 1pm.  On the agenda was a presentation by the Special Education Strategic Plan Officer Matthew Korobkin.  That presentation has been postponed.  Yesterday, the Delaware Department of Education, disability groups, and district and charter special education directors, along with other stakeholders, met to discuss progress on the strategic plan.  Delaware State Rep. Kim Williams also attended the meeting, along with many other meetings in this process.  The entire group realized there were still many things to iron out in the process.

Last month, citizens were invited to participate in public comment sessions for special education in Delaware.  Meetings were held in each county.  The Special Education Strategic Plan was inserted into the epilogue language for the Delaware State Budget for FY2015 and work began on the plan in November of 2014.  The plan was originally slated to be finalized at the end of this year.  After hearing the concerns of stakeholders, Secretary Godowsky opted to postpone the presentation and hear more from stakeholder groups to establish a defined plan represented by all voices.

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Why I Accepted An Invite From The Delaware DOE To Join An ESSA Discussion Group

Because it’s time.  We have all heard the phrase, “If you aren’t part of the solution, you are a part of the problem.”  To many of the stakeholders in Delaware education, they believe this.  I’ve pretty much operated this blog as an outsider looking in.  I’ve vowed never to join anything.  But this isn’t a situation where I’m joining something permanent.  It is a temporary group and I will be one of just thirty people.  I will be on the “Student and School Supports Discussion Group.”  I would have preferred to be on the “Measures of School Success and Reporting” group, but I will take what I can get.  I don’t know who else is in my group or what stakeholder groups they represent.

I fully plan on being a part of a group and behaving as one of many.  But I will also do my due diligence on the issues and offer my voice.  For some out there, they may see this as a betrayal.  Like when celebrities do commercials for a company.  This is not me selling out.  It is getting in there and lending my voice.  These meetings will be open to the public, for both groups.  So it’s not like these are backdoor meetings.  I urge parents and teachers to attend these meetings.

The first meeting for both groups will be held at the John W. Collette Conference Center, 35 Commerce Way, in Dover from 6pm-8pm next Wednesday, October 5th.

You Can’t Make Things Better Until You Fix What’s Broken

In the past week, a light bulb went off in my head.  I’ve been to a lot of education meetings lately.  State Board of Education, ESSA, Special Education Strategic Plan, district board meetings, and so forth.  I’ve seen and met a lot of legislators and candidates.  I’ve seen the old faces and the new.  For the most part, we are all talking about the same thing: problems in education.  Whether it is at a state level or on the ground floor.  At an ESSA meeting, one of the participants at my table was Red Clay Superintendent Dr. Merv Daugherty.

He made a very valid point.  We keep talking about education and how to make it better.  We keep throwing ideas into the mix.  We have meetings and task forces and committees and town halls and strategic plans.  We talk ourselves to death.  We don’t take action and we have gotten away from the basics.  I agree with him.

There have been opportunities to act, but they pass by.  Until the next idea comes along.  I’ve met with parents, teachers, district administrators, board members, the DOE, advocates, disability groups, legislators and regular citizens.  There are deep rifts between everyone.  Hurts.  Things happen.  Perceptions are thrown out of whack.  I have seen two of those groups talk about the exact same topic in separate meetings but the tone and feelings about it are wider than the Pacific Ocean.

As much as I rant about the DOE, I do like that they are having these town halls.  I like that people are coming out to them.  But it’s not enough.  Not nearly enough.  What is confusing me is why different states are taking advantage of different timelines for their draft plans.  For example, Delaware wants to get their plan in by the end of March.  In Florida, they are not submitting their plan until the end of July.  The Delaware DOE wants to have their plan in place by the 2017-2018 school year.  Florida’s wouldn’t fully kick in until 2018-2019.  The Delaware DOE wants to have their first draft done by the end of October.  In 37 days.  While it is a draft and would most likely be amended based on public feedback, I don’t like that short of a time frame.

Is that enough time to heal the rifts between the adults involved in education?  Is that enough time for us to decide, as a state, what is best for students?  No.  I don’t like the idea that we are rushing to get a basic plan done, with public comment to possibly tweak that plan, and then again after the end of the year.  I would much rather see something more solid in the beginning and build from there.  I want a foundation that is grounded in fixing the already existing problems with a definitive action plan and a path forward to fix them.  While some may see ESSA as a grand opportunity to get things right, are we rushing to get certain plans that are representative of the more powerful at the expense of the majority?  I believe we are.  Delaware needs more time.  With the vast amounts of money we spend on education, I would think there could and should be a way to get more voices involved.

When many education bills are submitted in the General Assembly, they are symptomatic of larger things that are broken.  If we don’t fix those bigger things, the small solutions don’t always work.  So, I guess, I’m putting this out there for the Delaware DOE, Secretary Godowsky, and the Governor to think about.  What is the harm in waiting another four months to put forth our ESSA plan?  Yes, it’s another year students may not have something.  And many of those things they need now.  But if we squander a gift of time and having true collaboration, at a state-wide level, to get things right, then all the plans in the world won’t help.  It would also give the General Assembly more of a sense of what this will cost over the five and a half months they are in session.  By submitting the plans by the end of March, it will force the General Assembly to most likely scramble to introduce legislation to make it all fit.  Why not let the General Assembly have until the end of June to do their thing while the rest of us, and I mean ALL of us, do our thing?  I have no doubt the DOE has a very good idea of what they would like to see.  But I don’t think the rest of Delaware feels they have been given enough to do this.  We need more time.

This isn’t a rant against the DOE.  It is a heartfelt plea to all involved in education to use the time we could have.  We need to come together, for the kids.

The Delaware DOE Wants YOU!

The Delaware Department of Education will be holding “community conversations” to figure out how to carry out the Every Student Succeeds Act in Delaware.  As well, there will be discussion groups stemming out of the Governor’s Advisory Committee on ESSA.  You can nominate someone for the discussion groups or even nominate yourself.  I nominated myself to get in on this.  There are only three days left, including today, to get those nominations in because the deadline is this Friday, September 9th.

I am very skeptical of this, however.  I firmly believe the DOE knows exactly what they want from this.  The community engagement for implementation of the law is required in each state.  I could be wrong.  But history has taught me otherwise.  ESSA is the most important legislation to come out of the federal government in many years.  Folks need to understand this law and read between the lines on a lot of this.  As Obi-Wan Kenobi once said, “These aren’t the droids you’re looking for.”  There are traps all over this law.  They look really great on the surface, but there are red herrings portending a great deal of corporate intrusion in education.  If you care about education you MUST become involved in this.  If you have doubted everything I have ever written on this blog, this is an absolute certainty: If you don’t understand this law now you will be left standing in the wind when it all goes down in the future.  More than you realize.  But in the meantime, here is the official press release from the Delaware DOE that went out this morning:

For immediate release

 

Contact Alison May (302) 735-4006

COMMUNITY CONVERSATIONS TO HELP SHAPE DELAWARE’S ESSA PLAN

 

The Delaware Department of Education will host four community conversations this month to collect public input that will inform the first draft of the state’s plan under the new federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). A second round of conversations is planned for later in the fall to receive feedback on the draft plan.

 

In December 2015, Congress reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), the main federal law governing public education. The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) replaces the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB).  As part of NCLB, Delaware is one of the 43 states operating under ESEA Flexibility.

 

ESSA gives states more flexibility and provides more state and local control over the accountability process. ESSA implementation will begin during the 2017-18 school year. The 2016-17 school year provides the opportunity to consult with stakeholders, develop Delaware’s plan, and submit the plan to the U.S. Department of Education for approval.

 

The community conversations will be:

·         6 to 8 p.m., Tuesday, September 20 at the CHEER Center, 20520 Sandhill Road, Georgetown

·         10 a.m. to noon, Saturday, September 24 at Christina Cultural Arts Center, 705 North Market Street, Wilmington

·         6 to 8 p.m., Tuesday, September 27 at Bunker Hill Elementary School – 1070 Bunker Hill Road, Middletown

·         5:30 to 7:30 p.m., Thursday, September 29 at the Collette Education Resource Center, 35 Commerce Way, Dover

 

Please register for the session/s you would like to attend at the links above.

In addition to the larger community conversations, department leaders are continuing to collect input through a series of stakeholder consultation meetings. A Governor’s advisory committee and discussion groups on the major aspects of the plan also will be convened in the coming months. The first discussion group will focus discussions on technical topics related to measures of school success and reporting. The second group will focus discussions on provisions for student and school supports. The discussion groups will provide information to the advisory group. Nominate yourself or someone else to join the discussion groups here. The deadline for nominations is Friday, Sept. 9.

The state aims to complete its draft plan by October 31 with the second draft completed by December 31, following the next round of engagement and feedback. Additional comments will be taken through February. The state will submit the plan to the U.S. Department of Education for approval by March 6.

The public also is invited to provide input through online surveys available here.

 

Feedback also can be submitted to ESSAStatePlan@doe.k12.de.us.

 

Find more information on the department’s ESSA web site.

Dave Sokola’s Commercial For Corporate Education Reform & Money For The Poverty Pimps Will Not Sway Voters

Delaware Senator David Sokola is frantic over his upcoming election.  Meredith Chapman, a Republican in his district, filed earlier this year to run against the long-time Senator.  So how does Sokola respond to the many allegations that his actions have thwarted Delaware education for 25 years?  He writes a letter to the News Journal pimping the very same bad policies he helped create.  He does this by praising a report on how America has No Time To Lose, brought to us by the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Oh, and Dave helped write the report…

I felt the need to point out some of Dave’s fallacies in this letter.

We’re lucky in Delaware to have collaboration among our public and charter schools, businesses, unions, and higher ed institutions, plus community, foundation, and state leaders.  If we are going to succeed, and sustain that success, we need to be open, transparent and inclusive.

In Delaware, we call this the Rodel Foundation and their ten-year roadmap Vision programs and coalitions.  They send out surveys that lean heavily towards what they want and call that stakeholder input.  And since so many Delawareans believe in “The Delaware Way”, these education leaders and members of the business community feed the fire by sitting at the table.  Meanwhile, Dr. Paul Herdman pushes this because, well, that $344,000 salary sure is groovy.  Sokola’s firm belief in successful schools led to the creation of one of the most discriminatory schools in America, Newark Charter School.  Everything he does props up this school which he relies on for votes every time the election cycle spins around again.  And we saw this district and charter collaboration really working this past weekend in one of the shadiest back-room deals Delaware education has ever seen.  And I have no doubt in my mind that Sokola was somehow involved in that charter school scam.  Which charter school in Delaware would have received the most benefit from this change in funding?  Newark Charter School.  And it was their idea!  Thank God enough legislators acted fast enough to put this very bad idea on pause.  He is a bill destroyer when legislation comes around that would actually prevent his own ideas from coming to fruition.  His sole pupose in the General Assembly is to pervert the masses with Governor Markell’s very bad education beliefs.  In terms of “transparency”, this is a guy who doesn’t feel posting minutes for the Senate Education Committee is important.  The same guy who changes agendas for these meetings at the last-minute and yells at parents during meetings when they disagree with him.  Yeah, that guy…

We’re piloting innovative clinical residency programs and lab schools, on top of new models for peer observation, feedback, and reflection.

In corporate education reform lingo, we call this Teach For America, Relay Graduate Schools, and other bad teacher practices that put college graduates in low-income schools with six weeks of training.  Many of these “teachers” don’t end up staying in the profession and end up working for state Departments of Education or the thousands of education poverty pimp companies out there that take money from the classroom.  Sokola gutted a bill that would remove the Smarter Balanced Assessment as a sole factor in one of the components of our teacher evaluation system in Delaware.  He also thought having parent and student surveys would be a good idea in determining a teacher’s evaluation score.  The bill passed, but our Governor Markell hasn’t signed it yet.

The fact is that most American state education systems are falling dangerously behind the world in a number of international comparisons and on our own National Assessment of Educational Progress, leaving the United States overwhelmingly underprepared to success in the 21st century economy.

Yeah, we were fooled on this when Common Core and Race To The Top came into our lives.  Race To The Top ended, and many states are attempting to remove Common Core from their state standards.  The experiment failed.  What Sokola can’t get through his thick head is that Americans aren’t believing the lies anymore.  We don’t care what these reports say because we know they are built on statistics that are created to benefit these reports.  Many of the same people involved in this latest report created the very same tests that show we are failing.  And now they are telling us to trust them and find a new path for our country at risk (again)?  Sorry Dave, you can only tell the same story so many times until it starts sounding like crap.  This is a commercial.  Paid for by U.S. taxpayers.

And which countries did Sokola visit to make these grand-standing statements?

We visited high-performing systems here in the United States, as well as Beijing and Shanghai, China, to learn more about their success.

Okay, let’s go back to the old chestnut in comparing the U.S. to China.  This has been debunked more times than I can count.  China uses only the most successful students to take their standardized tests.  So of course their results will skew higher.  Enough Dave.  That is so 2012.

What kills me though is reading some of the names involved in this report.  But one stands out above the rest: Marc Tucker.  He is listed as the CEO and President of the National Center on Education and the Economy, who wrote their own “Tough Choices, Tough Times” report ten years ago which served as an impetus for Common Core. Yes, that Marc Tucker.  The one who wrote Hillary Clinton a letter in 1992 which set the blueprint for all that went down in public education since.  The one who believed every single word of the 1983 horror show called “A Nation At Risk”.  But now we need to heed these prophetic whispers of doom in this new report, according to Tucker:

This hard-hitting, refreshingly honest report is a bipartisan clarion call for a very different definition of ‘education reform’ than the one that has dominated the American political landscape for years.  The country will ignore it at its peril.

Okay Dr. Doom.  Thanks for your words of wisdom.  I think America is pretty much done with you.  How much money have you made on the “fix American education” racket you’ve been involved in for 25 years?  Which is about as long as Dave Sokola has been pimping this same bad education policy in Delaware.

Sokola is trying to give himself some credibility where he has none.  The barometer of everything that comes out of this washed-up Senator is the standardized test.  He lives and breathes on these tests.  He ignores the realities behind them and how they aren’t a true measurement of student success.  He is a broken record, stuck in the same groove since 1990.  He knows he is in extreme danger of losing his Senate seat.  But he isn’t listening to anything the majority of Delawareans are telling him: “Shut up Dave!”  Instead we get these cash in the trash reports designed solely to make corporations richer that take desperately needed funds out of our schools.

On Election Day this year, do the best thing in the world for the children in the 8th Senate District.  Vote for Meredith Chapman and help our children in the 21st Century to be one notch away from bad education policy in Delaware.  Look beyond party politics.  People like Sokola, who pretend to be Progressives, ride that train so they can get in the system for their own twisted agendas.  Dump Dave!

Delaware DOE Breaks Federal Law By Sneaking In Amendment To ESEA Waiver Without Public Notice

The mischievous and law-breaking Delaware Department of Education actually snuck in an amendment to their ESEA Flexibility Waiver without notifying the public at all.  As required by Federal law, any changes to a state’s ESEA Flexibility Waiver MUST have a public announcement indicating the proposed change.  As well, there is a public comment period required where anyone can comment based on the public announcement.  But as usual, the Delaware DOE does as they see fit and continue to break laws with no oversight or accountability…

ESEAFlexibility

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I just found this on their website today.  I love how they include in their document to US DOE that they are attaching the pages in their ESEA waiver with red-lined parts where this amendment would change their waiver, but don’t have a link for the public to see this change.  And let’s be honest, this change wasn’t brought forth because of parents clamoring for it.  It was brought forth because the Delaware DOE was wetting their pants over how many juniors opted out last year!  It also references the February 19th, 2016 redline of the US DOE approved ESEA Waiver request, but no document is listed on the page anywhere.  So what does this mysterious document even say?

In regards to the other ESEA waiver the Delaware DOE is asking for public comment on, nothing is listed on the ESEA portion of the Delaware DOE website.  But the ironic part about that ESEA waiver is US DOE told Delaware DOE not to worry about having the DESS Advisory Committee comment on it, even though that is required by law.  So we have US DOE telling us to break the law and don’t worry about it, but they want us to submit this ESEA waiver even though it will be null and void as of August 1, 2017 when ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act) goes into effect.  Or will it?  We won’t know until the regulations come out in the coming months.  I see this as a way for US Secretary of Education John King to continue the legacy of Arne Duncan by essentially bribing states with these waiver schemes.  And of course all this comes out after the Senate confirms the snake.

I was at the December State Board of Education where there was an “open discussion”.  Secretary Godowsky said something to the effect of “We are excited to make this change and I think we will have an announcement very soon.”  An “open discussion” would indicate the public was allowed to comment on this during this exchange.  That was not the case.  You can listen to the audio here.  Godowsky did mention many things would need to be ironed out with US DOE during this “open discussion”.  By submitting this ESEA flexibility waiver on March 29th, 2016, three months after Governor Markell and Godowsky announced the switch, how is that ironing things out?

As well, all the prior “stakeholder feedback” was meant to discuss the possibility of the issue.  That should NOT be counted as official public comment required under ESEA law.  But this is the Delaware DOE and the US DOE who bend and shape the laws to their own benefit.  And our Delaware legislators and US legislators just sit back and let it happen.  Wasn’t the whole point of ESSA to stop the US DOE from pulling this kind of crap?  And here we are in Delaware with not one, but two ESEA waivers with very questionable legality issues surrounding both of them.

And what exactly is going on with the DESS Advisory Committee?  Did they cancel them as a group since ESEA was going to be eliminated soon anyways?  But based on that line of thought we shouldn’t be submitting anything regarding ESEA.  Or is this just another way to try to get the feds to approve Delaware’s cockamamie opt out penalty into the Delaware School Success Framework?  Since they didn’t approve that based on their  November resubmission of the ESEA waiver request as a condition of their July approval of the ESEA waiver request because of ESSA.  Are you as confused as I am?  My head is spinning…

WTH

Parents Hold The Key To Ending Destructive Education “Reform”

AbeLincoln

I just saw a tweet from EdWeek about three states participating in a web-based seminar on competency-based education.  This webinar will include Michael Watson, the Chief Academic Officer and Assistant Secretary for the Delaware Department of Education.  Also participating are representatives from the Florida and Tennessee Departments of Education.

There is no stopping the destructive train barreling into the destruction of public education teaching.  It is so embedded into our state and federal governments with vast amounts of money and lobbying twisting the tale so Wall Street investors and hedge fund managers can make tons of money.  I’ve been warning everyone about this for almost two years now, with each new initiative becoming more insidious than the next.  But far too many people either just don’t care or think all of this is really great for students, teachers, and schools.

The Seminar will be led by Karen Cator with Digital Promise.  While putting this under the guise of professional development for teachers, it is becoming more than obvious this is the future of education.  Or at least what the corporate education reformers want it to be.  Parents need to wake up fast because their children’s personal data is going out like the Hoover Dam just burst wide open.  There is nothing holding it in check anymore.  This is the future with hints thrown all over the place:

  1. The Data Consortium
  2. The Tentacles Of Corporate Education Reform
  3. The Marc Tucker Letter To Hillary Clinton
  4. Assessment Inventories And Data Bills
  5. Clinton-Hickenlooper-Markell
  6. Social Impact Bonds
  7. Delaware State Rep. Earl Jaques, Governor Markell, & John King

The future is here.  Opt out is the only way to stop the whole reform movement designed to put children in the same box and carve out their future career paths.  Opt out is the best recourse.  It prevents the massive amount of data about your child from falling into the greedy little hands of Education Inc.  Only parents can stop this train.  We can’t rely on anyone but ourselves.  The “stakeholders” who are supposed to serve as the guardians of the gate are hand-picked by those with the power.  It is all a lie.  Our legislators who truly care are outnumbered.  Our state Departments of Education are stacked with ed reformer employees.  Most of our Governors are all in on these “career pathways”.  The national PTAs, teacher unions, and civil rights groups are all in bed with the Every Student Succeeds Act knowing full well the dangers that lurk within.  Our school boards are infiltrated by those who wish to continue the corporate education reform movement.  Teachers, for the most part, are powerless for fear of retribution or getting fired.  No child in public education is safe anymore unless parents rally and take back the conversation.  We need to do this as a unified front.  We need to do this en masse.  We need to do it now.  We need to be the heroes and be a warrior for education.  We need to cut them off at the knees and the most powerful way to do that is with opt out.

 

Perfect Timing On This State Board Of Education Legislation!

It’s the middle of the day.  You are at work and you start to wonder about something you read a couple days before.  It was something about education, something concerning students with disabilities.  Your son has a disability.  Oh yeah, it was concerning suspensions and expulsions.  You read it on some blog.  It was alarming to you because little Johnny has been getting in trouble at school.  You aren’t sure if it the disability or his bad manners.  He got suspended a couple times.  The State Board of Education was meeting right now to discuss a regulation about it.  The blog post rattled you a bit because Johnny could easily be one of those kids.  You wish you could go to the meeting, but you are out of vacation days and you certainly don’t want to use up your sick time to go to a State Board meeting.  If only they had these meetings later in the day…

Delaware State Representative Kim Williams introduced a bill yesterday that would allow the above worker to attend that State Board of Education meeting at 5:30pm or later.

HB260

I fully support this bill.  It would allow parents and teachers to attend State Board meetings without having to interrupt their day.  The State Board isn’t exactly a paying position either, so it would benefit the State Board members as well.  As well, many Superintendents and other school admins attend these meetings which takes time away from their school or district.  The timing is perfect on this bill!  As parents become more involved in education matters, it is important they have the opportunity to attend these kinds of meetings.  About 99% of Delaware school boards meet at night because they know parents want to come.  Why should our State Board of Education be any different?

There was a time when both the Delaware Department of Education and the State Board of Education did not hold as much power as they do now.  They were more of a compliance body as opposed to the policy setting machine they have become.  Even the role of the Executive Director of the State Board of Education didn’t have such a fancy title back then.  And that position certainly didn’t run the show like our current one does.  Please support this bill as parents, teachers, educators and Delaware citizens!

 

Legislative Hall Duo Leading Delaware Statewide Review of Educational Opportunities

On Thursday’s State Board of Education agenda, there will be a presentation on the progress of the Delaware Statewide Review of Educational Opportunities.  This was announced by Governor Jack Markell when he showed up at the State Board meeting to make a big speech about this grand idea.  It was no coincidence the Wilmington Education Advisory Committee, led by Tony Allen, were also there that day to make a presentation on their recommendations for the future of Wilmington education.

My first concern in reading this presentation when it appeared on their agenda last month was who the stakeholders are.  Since Executive Director of the State Board of Education Donna Johnson is one of the co-leaders on this initiative, alongside the DOE’s Susan Haberstroh (another frequent DOE individual seen frequently at Legislative Hall) I reached out to Donna to see who the stakeholders are.

Hey Donna, I was looking at the Power Point for the SREO presentation at the meeting on Thursday.  Who are the stakeholders that are frequently mentioned?  It would really help people to understand these types of things if they knew who was going to be involved!!! Thanks,

Kevin

She did respond, and very fast I might add!

The SREO is not a task force nor does it have additional meetings scheduled at any set intervals. The presentation listed on the SBE page is from the SREO mtg that was held on June 1st, the first mtg was held on April 27th and reported on at the May SBE mtg. 

The SREO is a project to collect data, make some projections based on data trends, and then let policy makers and other stakeholders utilize the data to inform decisions or policy recommendations. It’s hard to limit the stakeholders to a defined subset, the data report will be public. We announced the first and second meeting at the SBE meeting and the DOE site, since we are co-leading the work, to invite anyone who was interested to attend and help provide suggestions to further clarify the scope of work. 

Once the RFP has closed and is scored, we will likely announce another meeting to discuss the data collection process, especially since some of the data is not in the state data system but in the individual districts/schools. We have been very transparent in the process and engaged people that will be directly impacted or engaged in the work of this project as much as they wanted. Legislators, researchers, DSEA, DASA, superintendents, GACEC, WEAC, parents, charter reps, school board members, etc. have attended the two meetings to help provide guidance in finalizing the scope of work and research questions in the RFP.

The information is all detailed in the RFP, which may have gone live today, if not it should tomorrow. 

The biggest confusion seemed to be what the SREO was versus what it was not, thus the slide that you saw with that title.

Donna Johnson (Sent from my iPad)

I was skeptical when Markell first announced this, and I’m even more skeptical now.  This just seems like another pep rally to get the ball rolling on more charters and “specialty programs” at magnets and vo-techs, while students not interested in those programs are left out in the cold.  I do see they will review special education kids with this, but my fear is what the cold, hard data will tell them, if they are completely honest about it.

Delaware Senator Coons Letter Shows Desire To Continue AYP For USA Schools

Delaware Senator Chris Coons responded to a form I sent him regarding the ESEA reauthorization.  Yesterday, there was quite the hullaballoo about an amendment that would continue the Annual Yearly Progress for American schools which Coons fully supports.  In his letter, which I’m certain went to anyone who wrote to him about the reauthorization, clearly shows he wants what I view to be a destructive process for our students, educators and schools.

I worry about the influences around Senator Coons support for such an amendment.  I worry he is not utilizing all stakeholders surrounding this issue.  The corporate education reform movement is suffering from an infection which exposes the rot within, so they are getting very desperate.  We need our leaders to start to walk away from these disruptive agendas and get back to the heart of education: letting our teachers teach and letting our students learn.

US Senator Chris Coons
July 6, 2015
Mr. Kevin Ohlandt
9 Crosley Ct
Dover, DE 19904-1975
Dear Mr. Ohlandt:
Thank you for contacting me to share your thoughts regarding reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). I appreciate your taking the time to write. I strongly believe that the best ideas for improving our schools and ensuring our children can achieve their dreams come from those on the front lines of our education system: our teachers, parents, students, and community leaders and advocates.
I commend Chairman Alexander and Ranking Member Murray of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee for crafting a bipartisan bill to reauthorize the ESEA. I am committed to working with my colleagues in both political parties to reauthorize the ESEA and support a high-quality education system for Delaware students and teachers. All children in America, no matter where they live or how they learn, deserve an education that allows them to reach their fullest potential. The Every Child Achieves Act and the 29 amendments adopted by the HELP Committee are a promising step towards this goal.
I am pleased that the Every Child Achieves Act provides much needed flexibility and resources to states, maintains dedicated federal investment to school districts that serve high concentrations of low-income students, and expands the criteria that states can use to evaluate school performance. I also commend the Committee’s bipartisan commitment to early education, innovation, STEM education, and reducing the use of excessive and unnecessary standardized tests. While the Every Child Achieves Act is an encouraging first step, there is still more work to be done. I am eager to work with my colleagues to find ways to strengthen this bill through an open amendment process in the Senate. For example, the bill should include stronger accountability provisions that ensure that schools that are persistently failing to demonstrate results for students are not only identified, but also required to take action to improve the outcomes for students and are given the resources they need to do so.
I am committed to ensuring that any legislation to reauthorize the ESEA reflects Delaware’s values and supports our state’s educators, students, and families. I always appreciate hearing from Delawareans about their education priorities and will be sure to keep your thoughts in mind should the Every Child Achieves Act come before the full Senate.
Again, thank you for contacting me. It is an honor to represent Delaware in the United States Senate, and I hope you will continue to keep me informed of the issues that matter to you. My website, http://www.coons.senate.gov, can provide additional details about my work in the Senate, including legislation and state projects.
Sincerely,
Christopher A. Coons
United States Senator

Vast Majority Of Delaware School Administrators Have No Confidence In Delaware DOE

 “We believe this lack of confidence is due to a failure to engage the education community in a shared decision-making process and the failure of the leadership of the Department to implement reform without creating trust.” -Kevin Carson, Executive Director of the Delaware Association of School Administrators (DASA)

In a Delaware News Journal article published last night, nine out of ten Delaware school administrators that voted on a survey showed no confidence in the Delaware Department of Education.  They join the Delaware State Educators Association and their local chapters in the Christina and Red Clay school districts, the Delaware PTA in regards to the Smarter Balanced Assessment, several legislators, and several parents in the state.

The DOE responded to the survey in a statement by their spokeswoman, Alison May:

“If we had to choose between making extraordinary progress together and avoiding controversy, we would choose progress for our students every time.”

It is the very nature of this progress that is the rudimentary question these days.  Many folks in Delaware do not see standardized assessments as a true measure of progress for students.  With the roll-out of Smarter Balanced this year, this feeling has only intensified as the test has not been validated nor does it offer an actual growth model.

As well, the DOE seems to thrive on controversy these days and are not engaging in true stakeholder input.  Perhaps they are just putting on a tin shell to defend themselves from all the potshots that are lobbed their way with statements like these, but it certainly doesn’t help their cause.

Another strong indictment against the DOE by DASA is the fact that the DOE has “flawed systems for evaluating teachers and schools and has stumbled to find a better way to pay educators,” according to the article written by Matthew Albright.

Relations between the DOE and the most essential stakeholders in the state have deteriorated to an all-time low.   When the most important groups in education have NO confidence in the rigorous work you are doing, at what point do the light bulbs finally turn on?  Will the entire state have to endure Secretary Mark Murphy until Governor Markell leaves office?

If Smarter Balanced Is Part Of “Assessment Inventory”, Why Are DOE and Del. Colleges & Universities Forming Groups To Have It Tie Into High School Courses & College Decisions?

Another DOE Trojan Horse.  Smarter Balanced is not going anywhere.  I’ve received lots of feedback the past couple hours in regards to my public lashing of DSEA and the events from yesterday’s Senate Education Committee meeting.  But were you aware that behind the scenes, the Delaware Department of Education and the University of Delaware are in the process of forming groups to “study the impact” of Smarter Balanced on what types of high school courses students take, college decisions and the overall success of higher education?

This is happening with no one the wiser.  From what I understand, University of Delaware will conduct the research, the DOE will be in charge of most of the  “policy-making”, and an advisory board will be constructed with relevant “stakeholders”.  And we all know how that usually tends to go with these types of things.  So before anyone makes assumptions on what is going on with the games being played, take a look at the Trojan horse the DOE and Governor Markell are about to launch on us again.

Governor Markell Wants A Conversation But Parents MUST Be An Equal Party

From the Delaware.gov website, my thoughts on the bottom.

Governor Initiates Statewide Plan for Future Education Offerings

Date Posted: Thursday, March 19th, 2015
Categories:  News Office of Governor Markell

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Announces review of public schools and programs to address unmet student needs

Dover, DE – Governor Markell today announced a needs assessment and strategic planning process for the future of Delaware public schools, including charter, vocational-technical, and magnet schools. The State will review current opportunities available to students, analyze trends, and quantify areas of unmet needs for Delaware families.

“Many amazing schools and programs across the state are offering students diverse and innovative opportunities to meet their individual needs,” said Markell. “However, not all of our students have access to the programs of their choice. Many schools are oversubscribed and should be expanded or replicated. At the same time, we don’t want our districts to start new programs, and we don’t want to open new charter and magnet schools, if families aren’t asking for what they offer.

“This effort will ensure that state and district plans are designed to best meet individual students’ needs and spark their interests.”

Launching the effort during a meeting of the State Board of Education, the Governor specifically referenced the tremendous progress made at Vo Tech schools in each county, noting that they don’t have the capacity to serve all of the students who select them in the school choice process.

Other trends include four new middle and high schools that will open in the City of Wilmington this fall, reflecting the desire for new options in the city. In addition, programs focused on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills that are needed for jobs in growing industries, like those offered at Conrad Schools of Science, as well as the college prep courses at Mount Pleasant High School, have garnered increased interest. However, no process has existed to systematically ensure that more students can gain from the experiences they want at traditional, magnet, and charter schools.

The strategic plan developed through the Governor’s Statewide Review of Educational Opportunities for Delaware Students will quantify programs where demand exceeds the state’s capacity and analyze demographic trends to project future needs. That will help the state, school districts, and charter school operators know where and how to invest, from which dual-enrollment programs are most valuable and popular to the types of curriculum from which more students would benefit.

“For the past two years, the State Board of Education has referenced the need for the state to develop a comprehensive analysis of our portfolio of public schools, a thorough needs assessment to identify strengths, weaknesses, saturations, as well as opportunities for success and innovation,” said Teri Quinn Grey, President of the State Board of Education President. “We believe that such an analysis would aid the state in the development of this strategic plan, as well as be a useful tool for local boards and school leaders in deciding school programming decisions, facility decisions, and other educational opportunities. It also will be a tool to be utilized by policy leaders, community members, and businesses to evaluate opportunities for further investment and expansion in Delaware.”

The review announced today was inspired by a proposal by the Wilmington Education Advisory Committee (WEAC) – a group formed by the Governor last year that has urged the state to be smarter and more strategic about the growth of educational opportunities, particularly for charter schools in Wilmington. Markell said he agreed with the Committee’s recommendation, but also believes we can’t limit this effort to one city or county, or to charter schools alone.

“It can benefit our education system statewide,” said Markell. “All schools are part of the solution.”

WEAC Chair Tony Allen voiced support for expanding on the group’s recommendation.

“There is no question that charter schools will remain a critical part of public education in Delaware and that many students throughout the state will be served by them, and in many cases served well,” said Allen. “However, we cannot continue to operate two systems with little interaction and coordination and expect the quality benefits that all of our children deserve. It is our hope that a plan for charter schools extends itself to public education in Delaware broadly and forces stronger collaboration across the traditional district, charter and vo-tech boundaries.”

Representative Charles Potter Jr. (D-Wilmington North), who the Governor recognized at the event for his advocacy in establishing WEAC as an opportunity for members of the community to have a stronger voice on issues involving education of Wilmington children, voiced his support of the plan as well.

“I’m in support of the governor’s efforts to undertake this statewide strategic plan,” said Rep. Potter. “I feel strongly that we have to take a comprehensive look at what is happening in Wilmington and address those issues as well.”

It sounds like someone is realizing education is a mess in this state.  I think the people are the ones who need to control this conversation though.  For every person in this group, you need to have an EQUAL and state-wide amount of parents.  And not parents who are in this group or that group.  I’ve been to meetings like that.  We need down to earth, grassroots parents.  It is very easy to pick out the good and capitalize on that, but if you aren’t looking at the bad, the rot will still be there.

Nobody knows children like a child’s parent.  I defy you to find anyone that knows more than a parent that loves their child.  I think we are willing to hear a conversation, but we want to be an EQUAL part of it.  Otherwise, this just isn’t going to work Governor Markell.

 

Governor Markell Letter Praises Wilmington Education Advisory Committee Recommendations

On February 11th, Delaware Governor Jack Markell wrote a letter praising the efforts put forth by the members of the Wilmington Education Advisory Committee.

 

Delaware State Board of Education Is Having A Pizza Party For All The District & Charter Bigwigs! Open To The Public!

If you live in Dover, I would highly recommend not going to Grotto’s Pizza between 5 to 8:30pm on Monday.  A lot of important education people will be convening on the establishment for a meeting about the Next Generation Science Standards.  With that many powerful people going there after a school day when kids had been off for Thanksgiving break, expect a lot of food and spirits being ordered!

I’m curious who the “stakeholders” are.  Cause I’m pretty sure parents are the most important stakeholders and I don’t recall seeing a public invite to their pizza party!  Didn’t the DOE have all those town hall meetings in November to increase parent participation?  But when it comes to determining curriculum for the students of Delaware, the parents are completely shut out of the process.

Updated: Commenter Dee has advised this is indeed open to the public and anyone is welcome to attend.  Does this mean free pizza for Delaware? Not sure on that one.  The flyer does say light refreshments.  So that depends on your perspective.  For myself, pizza is a light refreshment! I have updated the title as well.  Thanks Dee!