Ever since Regulation 225 hit the Delaware Registrar of Regulations, I’ve been scratching my head over it. I’ve gone back and forth on it a few dozen times. To be crystal clear, I support any anti-discrimination measure for ANY student. No questions asked. Some of the Facebook comments I’ve seen from some who oppose the bill are filled with hate and misunderstanding. I’ve wondered what the purpose behind all this was, and today I may have received an answer. Continue reading
The voting for the Delaware State Education Association leadership officially ends tomorrow, January 23rd. All ballots must be in as per the DSEA election website. Initial results will be shared with the Executive Director and Business Manager of DSEA on Thursday, and preliminary results will be announced on January 27th. If there is a challenge based on the preliminary results, that would have to be in by February 3rd. At the DSEA Executive Board meeting on February 16th, the results will be officially ratified.
There are four races for the President slot and two for the Vice-President. For President, there is Karen Crouse, Mike Matthews, Danny Rufo, and Dom Zaffora. For Vice-President, there is Jackie Kook and Stephanie Ingraham. Two are running on a “ticket” per se, but that ticket could be divided pending the results. Those “tickets” are Matthews/Kook and Crouse/Ingraham.
What is at stake with this election? The teacher’s union in Delaware would have a lot to contend with in the coming years. The three-year terms would usher in the new Every Student Succeeds Act in Delaware along with mounting budget issues that will almost assuredly result in education cuts along the way. Add on the new Carney administration and a promise from Governor John Carney to make the Delaware Department of Education less of an accountability factory and more of a resource center for districts and charters. However, much of that will depend on the final approved ESSA state plan. Even though ESSA was meant to eliminate a lot of the federal oversight, accountability regulations won’t change things that much. And if history is an indicator, the Delaware DOE loves accountability. The role of teacher evaluations will always be a major issue with DSEA. Other potential factors affecting them, depending on the state budget, could be the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission redistricting plan or the possibility of consolidating districts around the state becoming more than a discussion point.
To date, three Delaware educators have announced their intention to run for President of the Delaware State Education Association. All three have announced this on Facebook. I know two of them, but I haven’t met the other candidate. Two of the candidates are running on a ticket with a Vice-President candidate. Who are these brave souls? Continue reading
The Delaware State Education Association came out with their 2016 Endorsed Candidate list for the upcoming election in November. There is a rather large glaring omission: the Chair of the Senate Education Committee, none other than 8th District Senator David Sokola. I can’t say I’m surprised. He was not a friend to teachers in the 148th General Assembly. Or parents. Or students. Between House Bill 50 and House Bill 399, opt out to teacher evaluations, Sokola did not make a lot of new friends the past two years. He was widely seen as the legislative water carrier for Governor Jack Markell. While he is now trying to distance himself from the Delaware Dept. of Education, his actions the past two years speak otherwise. This is very big folks! To be the Chair of an education committee at Legislative Hall and NOT get endorsed by the teachers union speaks volumes.
DSEA’s 2016 Endorsed Candidates for State and Federal Elections
DSEA’s 2016 Endorsed Candidates
- Governor: John Carney
- Lt. Governor: Bethany Hall-Long
- U.S. Congress: Lisa Blunt Rochester
- Insurance Commissioner: Trinidad Navarro
- State Senate District 1: Harris McDowell, III
- State Senate District 5: Cathy Cloutier
- State Senate District 7: President Pro Tempore Patricia Blevins
- State Senate District 9: Jack Walsh
- State Senate District 12: Nicole Poore
- State Senate District 14: Bruce Ennis
- State Senate District 19: Brian Pettyjohn
- State House District 6: Debra Heffernan
- State House District 7: Bryon Short
- State House District 9: Kevin Hensley
- State House District 10: Sean Matthews
- State House District 11: Jeff Spiegelman
- State House District 14: Speaker of the House Pete Schwartzkopf
- State House District 15: Majority Leader Val Longhurst
- State House District 18: David Bentz
- State House District 19: Kim Williams
- State House District 20: Stephen Smyk
- State House District 21: Mike Ramone
- State House District 22: Joe Miro
- State House District 23: Paul Baumbach
- State House District 24: Ed Osienski
- State House District 25: John Kowalko
- State House District 27: Earl Jaques
- State House District 28: Bill Carson
- State House District 29: Trey Pardee
- State House District 31: Sean Lynn
- State House District 32: Andria Bennett
- State House District 33: Karen Williams
- State House District 34: Dave Henderson
Delaware teachers Mike Matthews and Jackie Kook announced they will run as a team for President and Vice-President the Delaware State Education Association. These leadership positions are currently held by Frederika Jenner and Karen Crouse. Their terms end on July 17th, 2017.
Mike Matthews was the most recent past President of the Red Clay Education Association while Jackie Kook currently serves as the Vice-President of the Christina Education Association. Both are widely known throughout Delaware as advocates against many of the destructive and disparaging policies coming out of the Delaware Dept. of Education. The educators spoke in favor of better teacher evaluation in the DPAS-II system. They both support a parent’s right to opt their child out of the state assessment and spoke in support of House Bill 50. As members of their district unions, they both publicly denounced former Secretary of Education Mark Murphy and called for him to step down, which was echoed by DSEA at their next representative assembly. Both were highly involved in fighting for their teachers, students and districts during the troubling priority school fiasco initiated by Governor Markell and the Delaware DOE.
Matthews and Kook have launched a Facebook page for their candidacy here. DSEA members will be able to cast votes by paper or electronically between January 9th and January 23rd, 2017. Please support Mike and Jackie. I can’t imagine Delaware education without them.
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!
Senator David Sokola did not present the entire truth to the Delaware Senate last night when he gave his introductory remarks to House Bill 399 and introduced an amendment to the bill. I immediately saw what he was doing and it worked because the amendment which completely changed the original bill overwhelmingly passed the Senate. I find this legislative process, with no one able to rebut or correct Sokola’s statements a serious flaw in our law-making process.
His remarks concerned the DPAS-II Advisory Sub-Committee, forged out of legislation last year. The group met last fall and this winter to come up with new recommendations in the DPAS-II evaluation system for Delaware teachers. The group had many recommendations, but the sticking point with the Delaware Department of Education was an administrator not having the final say for which assessment to use in the Component V of DPAS-II. They didn’t feel as though teachers and an administrator should have an adult conversation and be able to mutually agree on this. I wrote extensively about what happened during the last few sub-committee meetings and it completely contradicts the version Sokola gave his peers in the Delaware Senate. As well, in reaction to comments given by ex-Delaware DOE employee Atnre Alleyne at the Senate Education Committee meeting on Wednesday, one of the chairs of the sub-committee gave her version of other events transpiring out of those meetings. In return, Atnre had many things to say about House Bill 399 in the past week. He was absolutely right on one point:
But if anyone is paying attention, this is the week when powerful interest groups take the unsuspecting masses to school. It is the last week of Delaware’s legislative session and while most are ruminating on 4th of July plans, pressure groups are seeing their bills breeze by on their way to becoming law.
What he fails to distinguish is how he himself represents several public interest groups which I have referred to numerous times as corporate education reform. Stacked to the brim with flawed research and reports, they manipulate the masses into thinking teachers are bad and the unions will make sure they stay in schools no matter how bad they are. I may have had issues with the Delaware State Education Association over opt out last winter (to which I admittedly overreacted), but I think most can agree that if a teacher is really bad, they most likely aren’t going to be around for too long. Is there such a thing as a perfect teacher? Probably not. We are, after all, only human. No one is perfect. But I will stress, once again, that anything using a monstrosity like the Smarter Balanced Assessment as an indicator of a student or a teacher’s performance is the high point of insanity. But Senator David Sokola doesn’t seem to care about that aspect, as indicated by the below remarks he gave the Delaware Senate last night:
Sokola: Thank you Madam President. I’m going to talk very briefly about House Bill 399 before going to the amendment. It was, the process of the DPAS II Advisory Committee was to, uhm, set up, uh, in the past from House Joint Resolution #6. And we had various stakeholders who, uhm, met quite a few times, as well as a sub-committee, uh, to this group to look at the evaluation of, uhm, teachers. Uhm, that, uhm, process got a little discombobulated towards the end of the process, and uhm, there were a number of versions of a bill drafter over a period of a few weeks. And I was not satisfied at, at that. Various groups were continuing to meet, and discuss, to try to come to a consensus on the issues. So, uh, with that in mind I would like to ask that Senate Amendment #1 to House Bill #399 be read and brought to the Senate.
Senator Patti Blevins: Senate Amendment #1 is before the Senate. Senator Sokola…
Sokola: Thank you Madam President. This amendment actually does a few things. The one that it does is it does give the administrator final say on components, the components of the teacher evaluation process. Dr. Susan Bunting (Superintendent of Indian River School District and Chair of the DPAS-II Advisory Committee) had, uh, sent a letter to the education committee for the last meeting. That was very important. It turned out a number of the proponents in the bill as it was indicated that they thought, uhm, uh, that was the intent of the bill anyhow. I made a suggestion that we make that very clear in the amendment. This amendment does clarify that the administrator does maintain the final say or discretion to determine whether the state standardized assessment should be used as part of the educator’s evaluation. It also clarifies proposed changes to DPAS-II evaluation system as recommended, uhm, intended to be piloted in three education institutions over a work period of two years. It has an input, information and deletes section 7 of the bill in its entirety. Are there, uhm, any questions? I’ll attempt to answer them. Otherwise I’d like to ask for a roll call on Senate Amendment 1.
Roll call on Senate Amendment #1: 18 yes, 2 no, 1 absent
Sokola makes it sound like the consensus issues were within the DPAS-II Advisory Sub-Committee. They were not. It was between the group’s recommendation and outside groups, like PACE, which was meeting with Alleyne and former Teacher Leader and Effectiveness Unit Chief Chris Ruszkowski in the weeks prior to their engagement with the committee. To say Alleyne had a bias would be an understatement. He and Ruszkowski were the two main guys at the DOE for the DPAS-II having Component V in it to begin with.
What Sokola never mentioned in his remarks and with little time for every Senator on the floor to read the full and lengthy amendment while discussion was also going on about the amendment, was a brand-new insertion into the legislation. This insertion was to include student and parent surveys in the pilot program. This drew the ire of teachers all across the state today if social media is any indication. This idea came from Atnre Alleyne in his many comments and blog posts about this bill. But Sokola took all the credit for it on Mike Matthews Facebook page today:
To be continued in Part 2 dealing with a 2nd amendment, heartburn, and more!
I was told by many people there would be no Senate Education Committee meeting next week. That appears to have changed since an agenda is up, and House Bill 399 is on it! The meeting will be on Wednesday at 2:3opm in the Senate Majority Caucus Room (first floor, behind the Senate Chamber). If you are an educator in Delaware who has some free time, I would strongly suggest attending and lending your support. The bell will start ringing at 3:00pm for the full Senate to convene in session. So if you want to give public comment, I would suggest using your time wisely but also giving full support of the teacher evaluation bill.
Thank you Senator Sokola for making this happen. Sokola tends to add legislation at the last minute. It is my sincere hope that his and Kim William’s charter audit bill (House Bill 435) appears on the Senate Education Committee agenda. Both bills got unanimous votes in the House last week.
So much for sticking up for your own party Jack Markell! Delaware Governor Jack Markell not only found a way to kiss the rings of his Ponzi education reformer buddies, but also caused a rift between State Senator David Sokola and State Rep. Earl Jaques, made sure Meredith Chapman will become the next Senator of the 8th District, continued his favorite hobby of screwing over Delaware teachers, and proved he is the worst education Governor in Delaware history. Congrats Jack! You have cemented your legacy with this bonehead move!
So what did Jack do now? Continue reading
Last week, I wrote about pending legislation that would make Component V of the Delaware teacher evaluation system an equal part of the evaluation system and that both the teacher and administrator would have to agree on the state assessment being a part of it. Today, that bill was filed as House Bill 399, seen below. There are sixteen days left in the month, and only a few education committee meetings left. Will there be enough time to get this bill out there? I have no doubt we will hear from at least one other blogger on this issue.
Updated, 4:01pm: This is on the agenda for the House Education Committee tomorrow at 4pm. If you are a Delaware teacher or are interested in what this means for students, please attend!
The Associated Press did an article entitled “How open record laws are applied in state legislatures” on March 13th. Delaware did not fare well in this report. The AP sent Freedom of Information (FOIA) requests to all fifty states asking for the public schedules for the state Governor and members of their legislatures for the week of February 1st to 7th of this year. In Delaware, our General Assembly is exempt from FOIA requests. Delaware Governor Jack Markell, who promoted “sunshine is the best disinfectant” regarding public transparency of Governmental records, seems to be having a very hard time with FOIA requests lately, between the FOIA request from his former State Treasurer Chip Flowers and the one he received from the AP for their article. The article gave Markell’s response to the FOIA:
Delaware legislative leaders refused to provide their emails. The Legislature has specifically exempted emails of lawmakers and their staffs from the state’s Freedom of Information law, as well as any communications between lawmakers, or between lawmakers and their constituents. A bill to remove those exemptions was introduced earlier this month but has yet to be heard in committee. An attorney for the lawmakers also said many activities on their daily schedules are exempt from disclosure, asserting that exemptions allowed by statute or common law extend to the concept of “legislative privilege” based on the Delaware Constitution and common law. The attorney nevertheless released portions of the lawmakers’ schedules while asserting that doing so was not a concession that the information is subject to the FOI law. The activities mostly involved appearances at community meetings and charitable events. The deputy legal counsel for Democratic Gov. Jack Markell said the governor’s office is working diligently to respond to the AP’s request, but that more time is needed because review of the records requires legal advice. Markell’s office has previously denied formal records requests for his emails.
I guess I should count myself lucky for the FOIA I received from Markell’s office back in early 2014. But the Chip Flowers FOIA denial is certainly interesting because Markell’s office used Exemption 16 to deny the FOIA request. Exemption 16 is when a General Assembly member or the comptroller is part of an email chain. I find it very ironic the Governor’s counsel would use that as a reason to decline a FOIA. Especially since they seem to cherry-pick when they want to use this exemption. In fact, the Governor’s office has actually shown legislators emails in earlier FOIA requests. Something I recollected right away as I was reading the Chip Flowers petition from the Delaware Attorney General’s office. I felt it was my civic obligation to let them know about this memory of mine.
From: Kevin Ohlandt <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: Gibbs Danielle (DOJ) <email@example.com>
Cc: Denn Matthew (DOJ) <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: Tuesday, March 15, 2016 10:04 AM
Subject: The Chip Flowers FOIA Legal Opinion
Good morning Danielle,
I read, with great interest yesterday, the FOIA petition from Chip Flowers. I found it very interesting the Governor’s office would cite Exemption 16 for not releasing the information Chip Flowers requested.
In December 2014, State Rep. John Kowalko received a FOIA from the Governor’s office regarding the priority schools in Wilmington. He gave them to me to publish on my blog. In several of the emails, General Assembly emails were used and not redacted, and in some of them they gave the actual email from State Reps.
Here is the link to the FOIAs:
I find it very interesting the Governor’s office would cherry-pick who this information is released to. There is absolutely no consistency and I would strongly question the use of this Exemption 16 when it is convenient. Please feel free to use this information for any ongoing matters regarding Chip Flowers FOIA. If you need any other clarification on this matter, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me.
With something that took up so much media interest, I would think the Delaware Attorney General’s office would respond, but so far I have yet to receive a response. I can only surmise based on the behavior surrounding the Chip Flowers FOIA request and the fact the Governor would need legal advice for the AP FOIA request, the Governor is hiding things. Could there be something in his daily schedule he doesn’t want people to know about? Or in his emails? Did they include his “Alan Jackson” email address? I’ll be flat-out honest: I don’t trust Jack Markell. At all. He is dishonest and sneaky. He seems to have the General Assembly under his thrall this legislative session. They are suspending rules and passing bills in record time. Just today, Governor Markell signed the Commitment to Innovation Act, otherwise known as Senate Bill 200, mere hours after it passed in the House of Representatives and 31 state representatives agreed to suspend the rules. Including some who have gone on record as saying they never suspend the rules. This tax-break bill, in conjunction with House Bill 235, are seen as great boons to companies in Delaware as the state faces potential deficits in their state budget.
I have no doubt Markell will have instituted all of his education policies and agendas in Delaware by the time he leaves office next January. Judging by the mad rush of legislation which will allow tech companies to swarm into Delaware with our generous tax breaks, Social Impact Bonds, Personalized Learning and Competency-Based Education. Kids will be earning their number of the beast data badges in the not-too-distant future. Parents won’t be able to notice, because all of our little screen-time kids will be staying after school in the SAIL program. And Jack’s buddy over at the Rodel Foundation, Paul Herdman… he actually uses LEGOs to lure unsuspecting parents and children into his personalized learning paradise. If you think Kindergarten grit is bad, wait until you get a load of the money pouring into toddler grit. Of course, we must determine what children are going to do when they are older before they even know how to tie their shoes. But we call this Pathways To Prosperity. We have Jamie Merisotis and the good folks at the Lumina Foundation to thank for all of this nonsense! And if you think Delaware has issues with FOIA, wait until you hear more about WOIA! Under the recently confirmed US DOE leadership of John King, these things are going on in just about every single state in the country.
The one thing our non-transparent Governor is good at is the art of distraction. He gets us all riled up over charter schools, opt out, and teacher evaluations while he paves the road to hell for John Carney who doesn’t seem to have the good sense to come up with his own thoughts. And in case we get too close to his overall plan, Jack throws things like the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission vs. State Board of Education battle in our faces but there are questions about the legality of that secret meeting. Hard to tell since no one aside from Tony Allen has responded about that one. Tony made it very clear to me the whole thing was the Governor’s idea.
This is Delaware. A state filled with sinister plotting and backroom deals. Legislators who get the “Jack call” and make miracles happen before our very eyes while telling us it’s all about the DuPont/Dow merger. Markell is the master of spin. He can turn crap into gold! And the state legislators, DOE employees, State Board of Education members, and business leaders watch in amazement as they hold onto their illusions of power and wealth. We call these people “stakeholders”. But guess what doesn’t change? Bullying, teacher dissatisfaction, high-stakes testing, a severe lack of funding and resources for our schools, and more segregation and discrimination for every single at-risk student than you can even fathom. All under the guise of student success. The stuff going on behind the scenes? We will never get that cold, hard, tangible proof to bust these children destroyers. They write the laws to protect themselves and the citizens of Delaware pay for it. And we keep electing so many of them! We are a state that is immune to true and radical change. We act as if holding onto a political party’s belief is what we must do. I hate to tell you Delaware, but greed is bi-partisan. The love we need to have for our children, our unconditional love, that should be enough to make the necessary changes. But we aren’t doing it. We are holding onto the dreams of yesterday and think it really matters who becomes the next President or Governor. We get sucked into the 24 hour news cycle about Trump, Clinton and Sanders while the distracters spin their webs and suck us in. It doesn’t matter who wins the Presidency because corporate America bought our government while we blinked. Our kids don’t have a chance.
If Hilary wins the election, we are ALL in trouble. Especially those in Delaware who have lived with Governor Jack Markell’s education vision for the past 12 years. Rumor has it Jack would be in the education top spot. Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper could very well nab the Vice-President spot. These two are thick as thieves. Why? That is coming shortly. And it’s not how or why you may think.
Markell may have planted a seed at the United States Department of Education. That seed has been blooming for longer than we think. The very idea of Jack Markell as the US Secretary of Education gives me chills. This cannot happen. Those in Delaware who know what happened in the past few years know exactly what I’m talking about. Jack is very involved with not only creating education policy in this country but also in forging legislation that doesn’t play out for years. If you are against Common Core, high-stakes testing, teacher evaluations based on test scores, and corporations raiding public education funds, then you need to pay very careful attention to everything said in the next few months when it comes to Jack Markell. This has been planned for a long time, and Jack thinks everything is set in stone. All the pieces are in place. Or are they?
At 2pm, Delaware Governor Jack Markell will give his last State of the State address to the General Assembly. Judging by his seven press releases over the past few days, it is fairly predictable to guess what he is going to talk about. But the things he won’t talk about are what I’m more curious about…
These are the things I cannot picture Governor Markell saying: Continue reading
At 9am this morning, the Delaware State Board of Education will have their first meeting of 2016. Normally these meetings are at 1pm, but since Governor Markell has to give his big speech across the street at 2pm, they are having it earlier. I thought they would make it a light schedule for this meeting because of the time change and the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission vote, but I was very wrong. There is a lot going on at this meeting. So being the good little blogger I am, I thought I would just go ahead and put up everything going on! To get to the potentially illegal thing, you have to go all the way to the bottom… Continue reading
I can’t believe I first watched this video last night! This is classic! It was the Delaware Education Desk, hosted by Avi Wolfman-Arent of WHYY/Newsworks and the two guests were State Rep. John Kowalko and State Board of Education President Dr. Teri Quinn Gray. The date was 6/10/15, the same day as the wild and crazy Senate Education Committee meeting on House Bill 50. When the subject came up about teacher evaluations tied into standardized test scores, Dr. Gray completely loses her composure and gets very angry. This is the same type of Dr. Gray we saw at the December State Board of Education meeting when the subject of the Christina Priority Schools came up. What can I say? Jack Markell picked her…
The Delaware DOE sure was busy two days before Christmas. They managed to get yet another request for proposal (RFP) out. This one is for a teacher credentialing assessment. This is basically the DOE seeking a vendor to give assessments to folks wishing to evaluate teachers. They have to pass the DOE’s rigorous standards to be able to evaluate teachers. And it must align with “college and career readiness” standards. That’s right, even if the evaluator is observing a Kindergarten teacher, the teacher must demonstrate the ability to make sure those Kindergartners are ready to go to Harvard University!
While the Department of Education has implemented procedures for both new observers (“initial credentialing”) and existing observers (“re-credentialing”) over the past two years, the state is now seeking more robust and streamlined versions of both assessments.
You can read the Teacher/Leader Effectiveness Unit’s request for somebody to do the work they should be doing themselves, but they just aren’t, ahem, effective enough…
It is now official! President Barack Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act today after the US Senate passed it yesterday. No Child Left Behind is dead. Welcome to a new era. While there is certainly more flexibility in this bill, it almost seems as though Governor Markell and the Delaware DOE have been carefully setting things up in anticipation of what was in the final bill. Which makes me wonder how much was known to Governors and state DOEs ahead of time. And I’m talking years ahead of time.
We have a bizarre new charter school Race To The Top embedded in here, which will cause a feeding frenzy in Delaware once the charter “moratorium” is lifted. And if the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission plan for the redistricting in Wilmington, look for Red Clay’s board to be very busy with new charter applications in the coming years.
For teachers, they got some leeway on evaluations stemming from standardized test scores, but the perks for teacher prep programs like Teach For America and Relay Graduate School will make sure we see an increase in this practice in Delaware.
Standardized testing is still here, and unless the General Assembly votes to get rid of Smarter Balanced (which they should), we are stuck with it for the next five years. Which means we are also stuck with Common Core as well, even though the ESSA gives states leeway on making their own state standards (but they still have to be approved by the US Secretary of Education). Students in 3rd to 8th grade still have to be “standardized” with the state assessment, and once in high school. For opt-out, the bill states it is up to the states to handle it. The House Bill 50 veto by Markell can’t happen fast enough.
I will be going into this legislation more in-depth in the coming weeks and picking it apart, piece by piece. I started to do that, but a lot happened between now and then. Fighting it took up a lot of time, but even though it passed, more folks are aware of what is going on because of the fight, so it was worth it.
As everyone assuredly knows now, the “Every Student Succeeds Act” passed the US House of Representatives today. I’m still trying to wrap my brain around this 1,036 page bill and what it means for the future of education in America. To that effect, I have recently seen two different views on the legislation. One is from the Delaware State Education Association and the other is from the Badass Teachers Association. While one waters down some of the concerns I have, the other reached some of the same conclusions I have.
From the DSEA:
And from the Badass Teachers Association:
Here we go…. BATs Respond to Every Student Succeeds Act – please read ENTIRE POST carefully!
Send the BATs Action Network Letter NOW https://actionnetwork.org/…/hear-the-voices-of-the-people-m…
BATs we had a committee of five comb through the over 1000 pages of the ESSA starting on Sunday night. Our committee is exhausted and we want you to know that we read it from the lens of just regular classroom teachers. We also were able to talk and consult with people who were involved in the negotiations of this act as well as former members of the House of Representatives.
The Act came out of conference with a 39-1 vote – we have been told repeatedly that it is a done deal but that does NOT mean we have to roll over and take the act as is. We cannot amend it but we sure can request that some language be removed. We will demand thoughtful debate and for our lawmakers to listen to input from the public. They will not conduct a period of open comment from the public as they had that for a month already before the act hit the Conference Committee. So, make your voice heard through our letter writing campaign here: https://actionnetwork.org/letters/hear-the-voices-of-the-people-make-every-student-succeeds-act-about-kids-not-wall-street-and-tech-companies SEND YOUR LETTER NOW!
We know the act will hit the House floor on Thursday and the Senate early next week. Please read the act over as if you have the time.
There is much that is GOOD about the ESSA. It strengthens the education of Native American children. Language in Title VI demands strong cultural components be weaved into their education experience and a need to return teachers of Native heritage back to their communities to teach. It has strong language that will support and assist our homeless children and families. It will require districts to help homeless families find housing and will also require that when homeless children must switch schools they be allowed to enter school immediately. It is an act that also protects our migratory children by demanding they be allowed to enter schools immediately and that pending paperwork cannot hold up their education. The other good thing about the act is that there are few federal mandates. Much in the act will be left up to the states (i.e. teacher evaluations, learning standards, testing). Rest assured the reformers are already mobilizing at the state level to get back what they lost in the ESSA. We must return to our states and understand what we need to work hard for at that level. We must remember that we have upcoming elections in which we need to get our votes in to make the change we want.
Perhaps the best part of the ESSA is that it defangs the USDOE. NY BATs will strongly tell you that we do not want John King in charge of education in this country. Throughout every part of the act you will see the restatement that the USDOE Secretary cannot mandate or control what states do. Common Core is essentially dead! They will try to rebrand it into “state standards” or keep it as the Common Core, but there is no longer a threat of a common standard that all children in the nation must follow. It will be left up to the states to create their own standards (some may keep the CC, some will try to rebrand CC, and some will create their own standards – we must be vigilant in speaking out during this process at the state level). Also, the Booker/Bennett Amendment made it into the final act. This is the work that BATs did with the AFT on teacher workplace conditions. BATs will now influence, and be in, federal education law! The Booker/Bennett Amendment will now require that Title II money be used to study, in general, teacher workplace conditions and how that influences the learning of students. Congrats to our amazing Quality of Workplace Team for their dedication to getting this inserted into federal education law.
The act has some BAD components but nothing came as a surprise. It kept yearly testing in grades 3-8 and once in high school. We knew this going into Conference Committee and that the Tester Amendment (which would have introduced grade span testing) did not even make it to discussion. We did not support yearly grade span testing several months ago but instead advocated for random sampling grade span testing. That still holds true! The Conference Committee did not listen to the voice of the public but instead to Civil Rights Groups in the Beltway who advocated for yearly testing and accountability. We are not happy with the 1% cap on alternative assessments for our special education students but we were happy that the act did insert that the IEP team at the local level may decide to pierce the 1% cap in their district, with a valid explanation to be submitted. This in essence will not allow IDEA to be trumped at the local level and if the state does not grant the district a waiver will set them up to be sued by parents for denying a child their rights under IDEA. This will also allow the state to pierce the 1% cap if needed, and if the feds deny the request can set the feds up to be sued for violating IDEA. We were not surprised that the act is “charter friendly” and we will need to remain vigilant at the state level to expose charter fraud, charter abuse, and mismanagement. We knew that if Sen. Alexander was involved that the act would be charter friendly but we also know that many Democrats love their charters! Some new stuff that was inserted in regard to the digital environment and digital learning is concerning. You will see that our letter requests that much of this language be revamped and addresses our concern that we are attempting to make public education into online learning centers. We shared the early results of our technology survey so that lawmakers could see clearly how teachers feel about using technology in their local districts. We should all advocate for Blended Learning which uses a hybrid of technology and student/teacher created learning in the classroom. We made it clear that technology should not outweigh the classroom teacher and that having children sit in front of a computer all day is not public education! We will need to remain very, very vigilant at the state level to make sure the state and local districts are not spending money on technology that cannot be sustained or is inferior. We will need to remain vigilant at the state and local level to make sure that the teaching profession does not become a facilitator of online learning. The good thing is the act DOES NOT MANDATE technology! In fact, there is not much that the feds can mandate in this act! We are concerned with the innovative assessments systems mentioned in the act. We all know what this means and we strongly suggested that language be removed.
->Please call your federal lawmakers and make your voice heard. This act hits the House floor on Thursday and the Senate floor on December 7th. You can use our letter as a guideline if you like. Here are the numbers for federal lawmakers https://www.opencongress.org/people/zipcodelookup
→We must start mobilizing at the state level. We are sure that reformers have a head start on this. They are angry that they lost – evaluating teachers on test scores as a federal mandate, Common Core as a federal mandate, and the digital testing that comes with CC as a federal mandate. They will mobilize at the state level to get all of this back! GET INVOLVED AT THE STATE LEVEL ON THESE ITEMS IN PARTICULAR TODAY!
→We are all taxpayers and must be vigilant about bankers getting involved in opening and running anything having to do with education. Please be vigilant about charter expansion and fraud. Please be vigilant about what your state and local districts are buying in regard to technology. QUESTION EVERYTHING AT THE STATE LEVEL!
Many legislators are resistant to the Markell-given power of the Delaware Department of Education, but State Rep. Sean Matthews truly gets it. I have watched Rep. Matthews, in less than a year, become one of the leading voices against corporate education reform. He speaks truth! He recognized the reform movement is an illusionary power and the true power exists in the hearts and voices of our educators, students and parents. It is past time we yield that power as a force for change!
One of my co-teachers was recycling some old papers today. We found a school calendar from several years before Race to the Top, DCAS, testing-mania, etc came into effect. It was interesting to see how few days were spent on state testing as compared to our current State-mandated testing requirements. Are we better off for all these new days, hours and efforts spent on more standardized testing? Are kids learning more? Is our “reform” test/punish/test/punish cycle working? Recent NAEP data would say no. We have think-tanks and “reformers” with scant teaching experience driving the education agenda. Teachers/parents/students, take back your power!
Will Delaware Governor Jack Markell veto House Bill 50, the parent opt-out legislation in Delaware that passed the House of Representatives and Senate in the First State in June? According to Red Clay Consolidated School District Superintendent Dr. Merv Daugherty, indications are pointing to him not vetoing the controversial bill. At their board meeting on Wednesday July 8th, Daugherty said the district is preparing for the legislation to take place later in the summer. He indicated the district may have to notify parents in both September and in the Winter so they are given the options at the start of the school year and prior to the next round of the Smarter Balanced Assessment.
Weeks later, and Markell has not even asked for House Bill 50 to be brought to his desk. Once he does that, if he fails to do anything with the legislation, it passes into law in ten days. The opt-out legislation would stop Delaware schools and the Delaware Department of Education from bullying and intimidating parents when they decide to opt their child out of the high-stakes assessment. As well, it would stop the opt-out students from counting in the school’s accountability rating and would not count against teachers in their evaluations. Sponsored by State Rep. John Kowalko, a Democrat, and State Senator Dave Lawson, a Republican, the legislation had a five month battle in many areas of Delaware: schools, Legislative Hall, the DOE, the Governor’s office, homes, and on social and print media.
In New York, New Jersey, and the state of Washington, many opt-outs went far below the 95% Federal threshold for test participation. Threats of federal funding cuts have been just that: empty threats. Despite all the posturing and bullying by both the US DOE and the Delaware DOE, no school has received funding cuts due to opt-out by parents. While the Smarter Balanced Assessment scores haven’t been released yet in Delaware, it looks like high school juniors may have gone below the 95% mark.