Delaware School Board Election 2017 Survey: Seaford

In this last of the School Board candidate surveys, we have Seaford School District Board of Education candidates.  Actually, make that just one!  Even though there is a race, with John Hanenfeld facing Michael Kraft, only one of the candidates responded.  I appreciate all the work the candidates took to fill out these surveys.  Life is busy, whether you are running for a school board or not.  With that being said, I will be coming out with an article later tonight with my endorsements for many races.  This respondent will NOT receive an endorsement from me.  Why?  Read the answers to the survey questions.  I don’t expect people to agree with me.  In fact, it would make this blog useless if everyone did because there would be no need for it.  But everyone is certainly entitled to their opinions. Continue reading “Delaware School Board Election 2017 Survey: Seaford”

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Delaware School Board Election 2017 Survey: Lake Forest and Milford School Districts

Lake Forest and Milford School Districts in lower Delaware have big races for the 2017 School Board Election.  In Lake Forest, there is a three-way race between Austin Auen, Phillip Thomas, and Stephanie Justiano Johnson.  For Milford, an epic five-way race has Ronald Evans, Michael Firch, Jason Miller, Michael McKain, and Michael Wells vying for the At-Large seat.  Milford has another open seat in Area D, but only Judith Purcell filed so she gets the board seat.

I reached out to the candidates in all the Delaware school districts.  For Lake Forest, I received a response back from Austin Auen.  For Milford, Ronald Evans and Michael McKain responded.  I used the contact information on the Kent County Department of Elections website as well as combing through Facebook.  I also gave “public notice” about the surveys on this blog if I did not have contact information.  I want to thank those who did respond with great answers to tough questions.  Don’t forget to vote on May 9th! Continue reading “Delaware School Board Election 2017 Survey: Lake Forest and Milford School Districts”

Delaware School Board Election 2017: Brandywine, Caesar Rodney, Capital, Smyrna, & Woodbridge School Districts

May 9th is in five days!  Big school board elections are taking place that day!

In the Brandywine School District, John Skrobot Jr. will face Alma Ginnis.  For Capital School District, Andy Ortiz and Joan Lowenstein-Engel are vying for the at-large seat.  Caesar Rodney has a three-way race with Alan Claycomb, Tawanna Prophet-Brinkley, and David Failing running against each other.  Smyrna will see Vetra Evans-Gunter facing Karin Sweeney.  Finally, Woodbridge will have a face-off between Paul Breeding and Darrynn Harris for their at-large seat.

I sent surveys to all the candidates who had viable contact information through either the Department of Elections contact information on their website or through Facebook.  Don’t forget to vote on May 9th!

These are the responses I received from the candidates in these five districts: Continue reading “Delaware School Board Election 2017: Brandywine, Caesar Rodney, Capital, Smyrna, & Woodbridge School Districts”

Delaware School Board Election 2017 Surveys: Red Clay Consolidated School District

In Red Clay, three candidates are vying for the District “C” seat for the Red Clay Consolidated Board of Education.  Henry Clampitt, Thomas Pappenhagen and Ashley Sabo are the three.  One candidates, James Starzman, withdrew shortly after filing.  Clampitt did not return a survey, but Pappenhagen and Sabo did.  One of these three will replace current board member Kenny Rivera.  Don’t forget to vote on May 9th!  Christina went up before this, and more will be coming later tonight or tomorrow morning.  Once again, I want to thank all the respondents for the time they took in coming up with answers to some very tough questions. Continue reading “Delaware School Board Election 2017 Surveys: Red Clay Consolidated School District”

Delaware School Board Election 2017 Surveys: Christina School District

There are two races in the Christina School District for their Board of Education this year.  In District “B”, we have Justin Day, Angela Mitchell, Monica Moriak and Karen Sobotker.  In District “G” we have Jeff Day, Meredith Griffin Jr., and Kimara Smith.  I received survey from five of the candidates, but none from Justin Day or Kimara Smith.  To clarify, there are two candidates in the Christina races with a first initial of “J” and a last name of Day.  All the Day responses below are from candidate Jeff Day in District “G”.  I asked 14 tough questions of the candidates and I am grateful to the respondents for their responses.  Don’t forget to vote on May 9th! Continue reading “Delaware School Board Election 2017 Surveys: Christina School District”

17 Who Will Make An Impact On 2017: Rodel’s Competition

Yes, Rodel has some competition coming to town!  My fervent hope is that they compete with each other so much they just cancel each other out.  Has Rodel’s time come and gone?  Or is there more to this new corporate education reform company setting up shop in Delaware? Continue reading “17 Who Will Make An Impact On 2017: Rodel’s Competition”

A Message From Delaware Attorney General Matt Denn About IEPs And DOE Surveys

Delaware Attorney General Matt Denn wants all parents of students with disabilities with an IEP to read this message!  As part of the IEP Task Force recommendations back in 2014 which became part of Senate Bill 33 last year, the Delaware DOE is required to send surveys out to a representative number of families where a child has an IEP.  The goal of the survey is to see how our schools are doing with the IEP process and implementation.  I strongly urge all parents in Delaware who  have a child with an IEP to take this survey.  Thank you.

“Dear Friends,

I am writing to ask for your assistance in ensuring that our schools are complying with their legal responsibilities to provide appropriate services to students with disabilities. One of the recommendations of the IEP Improvement Task Force that I chaired was to survey families specifically about their experience with the IEP process, so the state could determine if particular schools or districts were failing to comply with their legal responsibilities to children with disabilities. The General Assembly enacted legislation last year requiring the Department of Education to conduct this survey. The Department of Education, through the Center for Disabilities Studies at the University of Delaware, is mailing such a survey out to the homes of a randomized group of approximately 5,000 students with IEPs. In addition to these mailed surveys, we have also created an online version which will allow families who do not receive the mailed survey to share their experience. While we request permission to contact the responding families if there are concerns about their responses, they may choose to participate anonymously.

I ask you to share the web address for this online survey with the families of children you serve and encourage their participation, so we can try to ensure that all children with disabilities in our state receive the support to which they are entitled.”

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/2T789KW

Sincerely,

Matt Denn

Do Delaware Educators Really Embrace Common Core? Or Is This Just Another Fluff Report?

Fallacy

Governor Markell and the Delaware Department of Education came out with a press release today which indicates 73% of Delaware educators fully embrace the Common Core State Standards.  The report from the Center for Education Research Policy at Harvard University used five states in their findings: Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada and New Mexico.  Each state had “ten clusters” of schools to answer surveys.  The report does not show what the ten schools in Delaware were, but I did just email Chris Ruszkowski and Alison May at the Delaware DOE to find out.  I just received a response from May including the Communications Director for CEPR at Harvard, so hopefully answers will be forthcoming.  Ruszkowski is the head of the Teacher/Leader Effectiveness Unit at the Department.

Any report like this can be read in many different ways.  We don’t know which schools and how many teachers in each school responded to the survey.  We don’t know if this survey was given before, during, or after the first round of Smarter Balanced testing in 2015.  If anyone has any information on these surveys from last Spring or which schools had these surveys, please let me know.  As well, were ALL teachers in grades 4th-8th given these surveys or just certain ones?

Educators: Common Core going well here

A significant majority of educators are supportive of the Common Core State Standards and believe their colleagues are effectively implementing them, according to a new study of educators in Delaware and four other states by the Center for Education Policy Research at Harvard University.

The report – “Teaching Higher: Educators’ Perspective on Common Core Implementation” — collected perspectives from a sample of teachers and principals in Delaware and four additional states last spring, focusing on math and English language arts (ELA) teachers and principals in grades 4 through 8. All were asked to provide their views of the Common Core training and supports they received prior to the administration of their state’s assessments.

The survey found 73 percent of teachers feel their colleagues have embraced the standards. The study also spotlights how teachers are making substantial changes in their instructional practices and materials and are collaborating frequently with their peers.

The Common Core State Standards, developed by states and adopted by Delaware and most other states, set consistent learning goals for each grade across state lines. For most states, including Delaware, the standards also raised expectations for what students should know and be able to do at each grade level to have the skills and knowledge needed to thrive in the 21st century.

The study found 69 percent principals believe these new standards will have a positive effect on students. Just 9 percent of principals reported resistance to the new standards from parents in their schools.

“This study gives a voice to what I hear from so many educators in schools across our state: Common Core is better preparing our students,” said Gov. Jack Markell, who co-chaired the National Governors Association’s bipartisan Common Core Standards Initiative.

“While the shift to higher standards is an undisputable requirement to best prepare our students for the new economy, we know it will only succeed with effective implementation. I’m encouraged by the feedback we have received from educators so far and by the tremendous work happening in our classrooms. Teachers have embraced professional learning opportunities to deepen their understanding of the new standards and collaborated to adjust their instruction to meet student needs. We must continue to listen to them and ensure we fully support their hard work,” he said.

The study found 76 percent of teachers said they have changed a significant portion of their instruction as a result of Common Core, and 82 percent said they had changed a significant portion of their math instructional materials; 72 percent said they had done so for ELA materials.

That work is paying off for Delaware students. Last spring, Delaware’s third graders had the second-highest mathematics and second-highest English language arts scores in the nation on the Common Core-aligned Smarter Balanced Assessment. Of all the students tested, third-graders had the greatest proportion of their academic careers under the Common Core.

Students who had the benefit of instruction aligned to the new standards appear to be better prepared for these more challenging expectations,” Secretary of Education Steven Godowsky said.

Alison May

While Delaware may have had these great third grade scores on the Smarter Balanced Assessment, that isn’t exactly something to write home about considering the overall proficiency rate for third graders in English/Language Arts was 54% and for Math it was 53%.  Aside from white, Asian-American, and American Indian sub-groups, every other sub-group did worse than the state average in both ELA and math.  It’s very easy to praise success without talking about the factors that surround the supposed success, something we see from the DOE and Governor Markell every single chance they get.

There are 11,000 teachers in Delaware.  The CEPR report wished to thank “hundreds of teachers” in their report.  I’ve found when reports like this come out, if it is over 500, they will say “over five hundred” or give a number like 800 to show a bigger number.  This report came from five states, so for the sake of argument, they surveyed 500 teachers.  That breaks down to 100 in each state.  Over ten schools, that is about ten teachers per school.  Can we say for certainty there was no bias in who was picked to take this survey?  I will wait to hear back from the Communications Director at CEPR to see if she is even able to say which schools had a part in this report.  There are certain schools in Delaware that are very loyal to Common Core and the DOE.  Most of us know which ones those are…

To read the full report, go here: http://cepr.harvard.edu/files/cepr/files/teaching-higher-report.pdf

Mike Matthews Lambastes DOE For Their One-Sided Smarter Balanced Administration Survey

In a letter sent to the Red Clay Educator Association members, President Mike Matthews slammed the DOE for their Smarter Balanced Administration survey, shown in the previous article for all to see.  I completely agree with Matthews on this.  Like so many other DOE surveys, the choices only make the Smarter Balanced Assessment look good.

RCEA Members: 

This year was an incredibly rough start for the Smarter Balanced Assessment. I heard from dozens of you about the loss of valuable instructional time to administer this test, as well as the multitude of system capacity issues when you finally sat your students down to take the test. Needless to say, I’m guessing this test has not been popular with a majority of you who have administered it. 

I received this email from one of my RCEA Executive Board members. I’m guessing this would have gotten to me at some point. I’m going to try and make this short, but I feel the need to address this survey.  I applaud the Department for wanting to get feedback from teachers on the administration of SBAC. However, I have grave concerns with the lack of balance in the survey the Department of Education has presented here. Please click below and note the questions and answer choices on the survey. Does anything stick out at you? 

I’m concerned that the only answer choices provided reflect an overall positive experience with the administration of the SBAC. Why are there no answer choices critical of the administration of this test? Sure, there’s plenty of space to provide a narrative comment by clicking “Other” and I’m hopeful that many of you will use that option to share your thoughts with DoE on this assessment. I believe this survey reflects the overall attitude and ideology from within the Department that criticism of this assessment should be absolutely blunted at best or, at worst, just completely ignored.  

I wouldn’t generally email the membership regarding a survey like this, but I feel it’s critical that you respond to the survey with absolute honesty by providing your comments in the “Other” box. I know this could take time, but I’ve heard from so many of you this year, that I feel it’s really necessary for the State to hear our unfiltered opinions on this test. 

All the best and enjoy the last few minutes with your students!

 Mike

 

The DOE-DSEA Collaboration That Will Make Your Brain Explode!!! FOIA Shell-Shocker!!!!

Every once in a while you see something in a FOIA drop that shocks you.  And then are the times where something just explodes!  This is an explosion.  Back in November of 2014, the teachers belonging to the unions were very upset about the priority schools and the compensation workgroup which would eliminate many of the financial benefits of completing a masters degree.

This was obviously not a good time for the DSEA and other union members to take a survey.  And the executive director of the DSEA, Jeff Taschner, told the DOE this.  Their reaction to this news is very interesting.  You have to read it for yourself.  It makes me wonder just how much collaboration goes on between the DSEA and the DOE that nobody knows about…

Exclusive: DOE Is Giving A Survey To Students After They Take The Smarter Balanced Assessment **UPDATED**

I have seen it all.  I’m so glad this was sent to me the evening before a Parent Press Conference on parent opt out and other education matters in Delaware.  Could the Delaware DOE be any more intrusive in children’s lives?  Now they are asking questions about parent involvement with their children, and very specific questions about curriculum and how often it is implemented in schools.  This is a joke, but what should I expect from this Department?  Parents, if you needed just one more thing to push you over to the side of opt out, please let this be the case!  Do you really think the DOE wants this data to help your child?  While the letter to districts states it is voluntary, the language on the actual survey which the teacher would give states it is expected all students take the survey.

Isn’t the actual test supposed to provide all the data the DOE needs?  Apparently not….

**UPDATED** with surveys for 3rd-5th, 6th-8th, and 11th graders, as well as the letter to school districts.

DOE LETTER TO SCHOOL DISTRICTS ABOUT SURVEY

SURVEY FOR STUDENTS IN 3RD TO 5TH GRADE

SURVEY FOR STUDENTS IN 6TH TO 8TH GRADE

SURVEY FOR STUDENTS IN 11TH GRADE

 

 

The Delaware Developmental Disabilities Council Needs YOUR Help!

If you are an adult with disabilities, or a family member of a child with disabilities, or a caretaker for a person with disabilities, please take part in this online survey to hopefully get better services for our citizens with disabilities in the State of Delaware!  It takes about 5-10 minutes depending on your answers.  This survey is only open until March 9th, this coming Monday.

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/dmmasurvey

Thank you to the Governor’s Advisory Council for Exceptional Citizens for bringing this to my attention!

DOE Praises State Accountability Survey. Cool Your Jets DOE, It Was Only .65% Of State Population!

Today, the Delaware Department of Education Public Information Officer sent out a press release showing the results of the controversial survey the DOE conducted for their new “school accountability” program.  I wish they would show video of the Town Halls they had as well.  That would be fun to watch!  Yes, only .65% of the entire Delaware population bothered to respond.  So lets change a whole perception of schools based on that!

When will this Delaware DOE just go?  How much jacked up change will they exert on an unsuspecting populace before we all collectively throw up?  Just stop!  You’re actually embarrassing yourselves at this point.  To see the results of this groundbreaking (sarcasm noted) survey, read the gibberish below:

For immediate release

Contact Alison May (302) 735-4000

STATEWIDE SURVEY FINDS BROAD SUPPORT FOR ADDING NEW ELEMENTS TO STATE’S ACCOUNTABILITY SYSTEM Continue reading “DOE Praises State Accountability Survey. Cool Your Jets DOE, It Was Only .65% Of State Population!”