You might want to Super Size this article. Continue reading Big Mac Attack! Christina 1:1 Device Plan Supports Poor Nutrition!
Updated, 7:02am, 5/26/17: This is NOT some new school voucher scheme. This has always existed. It is actually a federal rule. If public schools want federal funds, they must ensure private schools within their districts have equitable services. One of the requirements is the districts MUST reach out to the private schools, compare notes, and offer to share federal funds with them. The system is changing, thus these new Delaware DOE documents. The DOE has a larger role in making sure this happens which requires more follow-up with private schools to ensure this is happening. As well, there is a larger amount of funds required to be shared with private schools. But, the feds aren’t supplying more federal dollars to districts so that means the districts have to give up more of their share of federal dollars. Can someone please tell me, with all the headaches and angst we get from federal funds, along with the testing mandates, why we still WANT federal education dollars?
It looks like the Delaware Department of Education is in the planning stages to set up a school voucher system in Delaware based on changes to the Every Student Succeeds Act. I know some Delaware private schools do get funding from Delaware school districts for certain services. As an example, a parent could file a due process complaint over special education issues and if they win, the district may have to pay for private school for the special education child. I know Christina School District pays for transportation costs to some private schools for students with disabilities. But this? Can someone please explain this one to me?
The below document was created in PDF format on Monday, May 22nd but the document is dated February 8th, before the United States Department of Education even submitted their FY2018 budget proposal (which is chock full of funding for vouchers and charter schools). The document below that was created on the same date by the New Castle Title I Consortium and the author of the PDF was Al “Superman” Minuti (I can’t make this stuff up folks). Sorry, I don’t believe any Federal, State, or Local dollars should be going to a private school unless it is a case of wrongdoing by a school district under the terms of a lawsuit or settlement. If there is some sane and logical explanation for all this, I will gladly update this article (which I did, see above).
On Friday, newly christened U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos sent a, how shall I call it, awkward letter to all the education leaders of each state. Alarm bells went up immediately. Many people are scratching their heads about the missive dealing with state Every Student Succeeds Act implementation plans. The word “may” in relation to Title I, II, III, IV and V funding is the part that is confusing many. Is this Betsy’s way of phasing from Title funding to her school voucher plan? And how many enemies of modern-day accountability standards are equally confused about Betsy gutting the John King regulations from last fall? This could be a Trojan Horse leading to more Competency-Based Education. We all know CBE is a darling of the ed reformers these days. Read the below letter and sit and wonder like the rest of us! I have no doubt President Trump is clueless about any of this and is applying his next daily helping of orange glow.
Delaware Governor-Elect John Carney and State Senator Brian Pettyjohn held a question and answer session at J.D. Shuckers in Georgetown this morning. The packed restaurant submitted many questions. A few of them dealt with Delaware education. Carney’s answers provided some insight to one of his recent decisions. Continue reading John Carney Q&A Reveals Thoughts On Education In Delaware: Susan Bunting, Labor Day, and Test Scores
The Delaware Dept. of Education will have three more Every Student Succeeds Act Community Engagement meetings in the next week. They held a meeting in Georgetown on Tuesday. The next three meetings will take place in Wilmington, Middletown, and Dover. The DOE is “requiring” participants to register through a company called Event Brite. Links to register can be found here.
I will stress with all the urgency I can muster that ALL public education parents attend these meetings. Before you go, I would familiarize yourself with the federal law. You can read the full text of the law here. It is a very long law with a lot of repeated jargon and “legalese” in it. The Delaware State Board of Education and Delaware DOE has put up many links to it on their websites, but a lot of that is open to interpretation. As well, U.S. Secretary of Education John King has issued “proposed rulemaking” which are potential regulations. These regulations are VERY controversial. You can read those regulations here and here.
These are my major concerns with ESSA:
By allowing states to have more flexibility, many states have already created long-term plans based on the prior federal mandates. Far too many in our state DOEs follow what the corporate education reformers want and give a false illusion of “stakeholder input”.
The Delaware DOE has given NO indication whatsoever that they will even consider changing the state standards away from Common Core even though they can certainly do this according to ESSA. The US Secretary of Education isn’t required to approve these standards. The states merely have to give an assurance that their standards will follow the law.
Student data still isn’t protected to parents satisfaction. To stop this data from going out, they need to restore the Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act (FERPA) to pre-2011 levels
Bouncing off the previous statement, by allowing more social service and health-based practitioners into our schools, there is a serious question regarding what applies to FERPA and what applies to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
John King’s regulations would keep the 95% participation rates for state assessments with consequences for schools and districts.
John King’s Title I regulations would enact a “supplement not supplant” these funds. This is in sharp contrast with federal law and he was called out on this the other day by the US House Education and Workforce Committee.
There is far too much talk of competency-based education through computer adaptive assessments. That is just lingo for personalized learning. This law would allow for classrooms to become online all the time. There are severe dangers with this in regards to the downgrading of the teacher profession, far too much screen time for students, and the quality of the educational material. As well as severe data privacy concerns. In fact, there are incentives for schools to adopt personalized learning.
While the law forbids the US DOE from forcing or coercing states to implement any state standards, like Common Core, many states already have these in place and spent years embedding them into every facet of public education.
The law calls for state accountability “report cards”, based on performance of the state assessment, but the tests are not required to be exactly the same for all students. So the state assessments are not a true measurement since they will be different for each test-taker. Delaware set up their report card last year under the name of the “Delaware School Success Framework” but they inserted a very punitive participation rate penalty if a school dips below the 95% participation rate which can’t use parent opt-out in those calculations according to the law.
State assessments will not be required to have questions at the appropriate grade level for students.
ESSA requires any plan to be submitted to the State DOE, State Board of Education, the Governor and the state legislature. To date, the Delaware DOE has not had “meaningful” consultation with the Delaware General Assembly about ESSA.
The law specifically states that all choice schools should have priority given to the lowest-achieving students, but Delaware allows for charter schools to have enrollment preferences that allow for higher-achieving students to have distinct advantages, especially in our magnet schools and charter schools like Charter School of Wilmington.
I have many other concerns with ESSA, but these ones stand out for me. I am coming at this from the perspective of a parent. I know educators have concerns over some of this as well.
I found something I’ve never seen before last week. Ironically enough, I discovered these documents when I was doing my charter school inspection. I was working on this article when I received a call about the the topic we have all been talking about for the past week: charter school payments from school districts. Every year, around March, the Delaware Department of Education produces a report called the “Educational Statistics Report”. This report shows district and charter revenue and expense totals for each calendar year. It also shows information I’ve been looking for but haven’t seen until now: how much each charters get from local school districts for students who attend from those feeder patterns. In FY2015, local school districts sent an astonishing $63.5 million dollars to charter schools. This accounts for 38% of Delaware charter schools revenue.
According to this report, the charter school that gets the most local revenue is the charter school with the largest student population. Newark Charter School, with the largest student population, received $7 million from local school districts in FY2015. The State of Delaware provided over twice the amount to Newark Charter ($14.7 million) compared to the next largest charter school, MOT ($7.1 million).
But where things get really interesting is when you compare revenue and expenses with traditional school districts.
Charter Revenue FY2015
District Revenue FY2015
Charter Expenses FY2015
District Expenses FY2015
In FY2015, charter school students represented 9.3% of Delaware’s public schools. With a total of 12,521 students, this represented less than 10% of students in the state who chose this option. The total revenue they received was a little over $164 million dollars. By contrast, districts received over $2.16 billion dollars in revenue. This is a total of $2.32 billion dollars in revenue between district and charter schools. In the interest of fairness and all things being equal, charters should have received $215.8 million dollars at 9.3% student population. Instead, they received $50 million less. If we stopped looking at figures right now, the Delaware Charter Schools Network would be correct when they tell people charters get $3000 less per student than traditional school districts. I’m not sure what year they are basing those figures on, but it actually works out to about $4,137 less per student. More meat for their argument.
But there are many other factors that go into this. By their very nature, school districts are much larger than charter schools. They have more buildings to take care of. Their central administration has to be bigger to keep track of it all. While some (and rightfully so in certain situations) complain about the sheer number of district administrators, I think we can all agree that districts need more administrators than charter schools because of the sheer volume involved. Out of the total amount of expenses, charter schools spend 11.57% of their funds on administration. Traditional school districts in Delaware spend 7.09% on administration. Charter schools spend 14.36% on “plant operations maintenance”, which I assume includes rent, custodial duties, and expenses for the actual physical building(s). Districts spend $9.66% in this category. Percentage wise, districts do spend more on student transportation at 4.62% opposed to charter schools’ 2.88%. But there is one factor that may not be included in these totals for the charters: does this include the surplus transportation funds they get to keep after what they spent?
The key figures in the above charter are the pie slices that show the percentage of funds districts and charters get from federal funding. While some of these funds come from federal grant funds, the bulk of them are for Title I and IDEA-B funding. Title I is funds for low-income schools while IDEA-B is for students with disabilities. Note that districts have more than double the percentage of federal funds than charters. This is because districts have more students in those two categories. For some charters in Delaware, they have very high percentages of those populations. But the ones that are on the opposite end bring that percentage way down. Especially schools like Newark Charter School and Charter School of Wilmington.
I wasn’t going to publish this article after the whole district-charter funding war commenced a week ago. But with everything that happened since, I feel it is important to get these numbers out there. I do have further analysis based on this and how I intend to prove, that if Delaware were to go to a true weighted funding formula, charters schools would actually receive less local and state dollars as a collective whole than what they are receiving now.
My number one question for the folks at First State Liberty: Do you pay the same amount for guns that you did twenty years ago? I’m not asking this to be smart. My reasoning is very simple: you pay for things every single day that cost more than it did five years ago, ten years ago, and twenty years ago. Education is no different. Perhaps you don’t have children in the Christina School District. Perhaps you don’t want to pay taxes for schools your children don’t go to. I can see your point with that. But here’s the thing. You pay taxes every single time you work. You pay for programs that don’t affect anyone in your household. Your state and federal taxes, which go up and down, go towards things I’m sure you don’t agree with. But yet, you still pay them. If not, you would go to jail.
You have a choice with a referendum. You can say no. That is certainly your right. But I also have to believe that you care about children. All children. I’ve been to your website and how you completely blast the district as if it is your moral obligation to deny children the services they need. I do take offense to that. But you would also be surprised at something we agree on. I know First State Liberty is against Common Core. I know you didn’t support the opt out bill, House Bill 50, because parents already own that right. What parents don’t own the right to, no matter how we may wish otherwise, is how to run a school district. We can get involved, and do our best. We can go to meetings (not just one or two before a referendum) and make our voices heard. We can run for the district school board. There are many ways to get involved. I encourage all citizens to do that.
With Common Core and Race To The Top forced on every single Delaware school district and all charter schools, things changed in education. Basically, Delaware took a $119 million dollar bribe from the US Government. In exchange for a financial gift equal to approximately 3% of our education budget spread out over three years, offered to us during a recession, our Governor sold out Delaware education. But the true crime didn’t stop there, because he allowed the Department of Education to keep half of it. Meanwhile, he cut out reading programs that were actually working for our kids. The results were disastrous. Especially for a district like Christina. When Christina did the same thing First State Liberty is doing now, speaking up about what has come to be seen as a failed program called the Delaware Talent Cooperative, the Delaware Department of Education took Christina’s Race To The Top money away. For the sole reason that they dared to challenge big government. Something your group has as their central theme.
As I’m sure you know, urban districts like Christina don’t tend to fare well overall on standardized tests. These are not truly tests of a student’s achievement. They are set up for children to do poorly on them. They set the achievement levels at a point where it would be impossible for all students to score proficient. As a result, Christina and Red Clay got the test, label and shame status thrown on them in the guise of “priority schools”. Here is a newsflash for you: all school districts have high administrative costs. Because of Race To The Top, districts had to hire people to oversee all of these programs that were forced on them. As a result of Common Core implementation and changes to teacher evaluations, the pressure put on districts was greater than ever. This happened with charter schools as well. Some schools overcame these challenges. They also tended to be schools that didn’t have as many low-income students, minority students, or students with disabilities. These schools were given the spotlight while whole districts like Christina and Red Clay were given the “we are going to fix your horrible schools even if we have to take them over” treatment. And all of this was based on the standardized test scores. The ones that are now fully aligned with the same Common Core your group loathes.
But are you aware, or willing to share with your entire membership and on your robo-calls about the referendum, that the ratio of administrators to students results in Christina administrators overseeing more students than any other district in New Castle County? These jobs you so desperately want to be gone or have their salaries shrunk, that are necessary based on the very mandates forced on them by the Delaware Department of Education…
From the CSD Paving The Way website:
Please note (as stated in the fine print on this image) this graph does NOT include student enrollment and administrator totals for the Delaware Autism Program or the Delaware School for the Deaf which would elevate those numbers.
Christina has cut admins and several teachers. They are on bare bones. If this referendum doesn’t pass, it has the potential of getting very ugly, very fast. More cuts, more jobs gone. And next year, you will be looking at the same thing only they will have to ask for MORE money in their referendum to make up for what they didn’t get from this one. Guess what happens to all of you who live in the Christina School District? Higher unemployment, your neighbor’s children not getting what they need to survive (yes, survive) in public education. People won’t want to move to the Christina School District. They will look on the Delaware DOE’s really horrible school report card and say “we shouldn’t move there”. Without new people moving into the district, your property values will go down. The equity you have built up over the years will slowly vanish. Perhaps one of you will come to a new opportunity or crisis point in your life. You may want to sell that home with the reduced equity. How did that work out for you?
If you think Delaware school taxes are high, have you talked to anyone in Pennsylvania? I’m pretty sure anyone in Chester, Montgomery, or Delaware County in Pennsylvania would laugh when you told them how much your school taxes are going up by. Many folks in Maryland might say the same. And both of those states have sales tax, something you have never paid in Delaware.
If we are going to go by figures from 2014, let’s take a look at these, from the Zero Hedge website:
What these figures don’t include are the portion of property tax that goes towards school taxes. All are much higher in those states. With this information clearly visible, I really have a hard time with your group’s efforts to squash referendums in our state. But yet I don’t hear boo from First State Liberty about Markell giving more tax breaks to corporations while every single citizen in the state pays for it. I didn’t hear anything from any of you when it was announced yesterday that Title I funding, which is supposed to help districts with low-income students, is going to wind up giving more for the state (aka, the DOE) to keep than the school districts will receive.
I think you have the right idea, wanting to curb expenses for citizens. I have no problem with that. But you have the wrong target. Why isn’t the State of Delaware in your crosshairs? Why aren’t you sending robo-calls to every Delawarean about the absolute corruption and fraud going on before our very eyes? Is Christina just an easy target? Step up your game. Come to Legislative Hall when they are doing these corporate gift bills (and I’m sure there will be more by the time June 30th rolls around) and protest that. But all you are doing now is hurting students. Your numbers don’t add up and all the information is available to you if you really look for it. But telling your followers that Christina is non-transparent is completely false. The referendum has been talked about on the radio, in the News Journal, and in the local newspaper for well over a month.
I would seriously question where you are getting your information from and what the true motivations are here. It’s very easy to rile up a crowd. What isn’t easy is admitting you were wrong. I saw the kind-of sort-of owning up to that on your website, but it was followed by “give us information now”. My advice to you: if you really want to know what is happening with district funds, go to all their Citizen Budget Oversight Committee meetings. Not just the one a week before a referendum. Going to one meeting a year and complaining about transparency isn’t exactly what I would call a marketing strategy for your cause. It’s like arriving late at a dinner party and getting upset all the food is gone. But then you tell everyone there was no food! Go to all their board meetings. Find out what is going on. Look at all their monthly financial reports. If you are relying on Delaware DOE data, don’t be shocked if it isn’t exactly accurate.
In terms of the comparison between Christina to Smyrna School District letter, Christina gets more federal funds because there are more at-risk students. Whoever read that financial document admits they don’t know the difference between local, state, and federal funds. If a district has more at-risk students, they get more federal money. The bigger a district is, the more admins you have. As well, their properties are assessed at a higher rate in Smyrna than in Christina. So that 2/3rds number? It doesn’t exactly mesh with reality and solid math. This isn’t rocket science.
You want to blame a district for what is clearly the state’s fault. But in the end, all you are really doing is making it worse for the kids. The future of Delaware. The future of America. Your kids. Your grandkids. If Christina loses with the referendum, the charters in the district lose as well. They get their proportion of the local tax based on students in the district that go to their schools. All you are doing is hurting the whole education system. Who wins when we all lose?
I encourage all of you to look into your hearts and ask yourselves “What exactly are we fighting here? Why are we going after David when Goliath is the one doing all this?” These aren’t the droids you’re looking for. First State Liberty and recipients of your robo-calls: Vote YES for the Christina referendum!
The Delaware Department of Education submitted their participation rate plan to the United States Department of Education on 2/11/16. Less than 24 hours later, the “plan” was approved by US DOE. In my opinion, this is all smoke and mirrors. The Smarter Balanced Assessment window opens next week. I have no clue what opt-out numbers will be this year. I know many of the same parents who opted their child out last year plan on doing it this year as well. The big factor is going to be the replacement of the Smarter Balanced Assessment with the Common Core aligned SAT for high school juniors. Many of the opt-outs last year were high school juniors.
I love how the Delaware DOE talks about how some communities balked about over-testing which resulted in the Assessment Inventory. The ironic part is parental choice to have their kids not take the Smarter Balanced Assessment. Parents didn’t opt their kids out of the SAT, AP exams, or any of the other tests: just Smarter Balanced. Much of the over-testing discussion for lower grades was around the DCAS which was administered two to three times a year depending on how the student did on the first Spring test.
Okay Secretary Godowsky, the DOE will send letters to Superintendents and Principals if the numbers are too low. What do you expect them to do at that point? The parents have already opted their child out. Do you expect them to threaten or cajole the parent into having their kid take the Smarter Balanced Assessment? Bribe them? Or even worse, have the kid take it without the parent’s knowledge? That isn’t a plan! The plain simple fact is the DOE cannot and should not make an opt-out plan. It is something the DOE, school districts, and charter schools have no control over. It’s a parental decision that should not be tampered with in any way! And I love how you can’t use the participation rate penalty in the Delaware School Success Framework this year because the US DOE didn’t approve it because of the Every Student Succeeds Act!
But let’s look at the US DOE response:
Alrighty then, that’s a plan! Cut the Title I administrative funds for the state assessment? Yes! Please do it! Cut it all! Bankrupt the federal funding for state assessments? Sounds like a plan to me! Delaware parents, opt your kids out TODAY! Or better yet, REFUSE THE TEST DELAWARE!!!! And while your at it, all American parents need to contact their US Representatives and Senators and tell them to vote NO on confirming Acting US Secretary of Education John King!
The Delaware Department of Education just announced, at the Delaware Education Support System (DESS) Advisory Committee meeting, that they will be adding to their ESEA Flexibility Waiver that ALL public schools in Delaware will be given the same label system that is currently reserved for traditional public school districts. These labels include “Priorty”, “Focus”, and “Focus Plus”. Currently, only traditional school districts are included but this would now include Delaware charter schools. This would not include “Action” and “Watch” schools. No discussion occurred in regards to funding for these schools.
Yesterday, at the Accountability Framework Working Group, the members discussed this idea and Penny Schwinn stated she would check on this. Last evening she discussed this with members of the Governor’s staff and this will be added to Delaware’s ESEA Flexibility Waiver. I’m not sure if the Delaware DOE and Governor Markell’s office have thought about needing public awareness of this as well as a public comment period. Since Delaware has to hand in their updated ESEA Flexibility Waiver by October 31st, that leaves very little time for public comment. This is not the same as Regulation 103 for several reasons. This hasn’t been included in Regulation 103 at this point. Regulation 103 will tie whatever is approved in the ESEA Waiver Request into State regulation. Schwinn did state no priority or focus schools will be named in the next three years, so even if the charter addition is approved by US DOE, it wouldn’t happen until Fiscal Year 2019 at the earliest.
I am personally against this whole “labeling” system to begin with. It is punitive in nature and severely disrupts education. Making this happen for every school in the state could be very damaging to an already weakened traditional school district system. This will just make charters that serve high populations of low-income, minority and special needs populations vulnerable to the same damaging effects other schools have gone through.
I asked Penny Schwinn at this meeting why are beholden to Federal “Guidance” from US DOE that is non-regulatory and does not have Congressional approval. She flat-out answered that US DOE wouldn’t approve our ESEA Flexibility Waivers and we would fall under No Child Left Behind mandates. Call me crazy, but I think we should call their bluff. Nothing will change if everyone bows to the feds and says “Yes, we will do whatever you want.” State Board of Education member Pat Heffernan said it best when he called these “Inflexibility Waivers” at last month’s State Board meeting.
Everything is tied together and it all revolves around the Smarter Balanced Assessment. This is all under the direction of Governor Jack Markell. He has sacrificed the public school education and the well-being of students all for the glory of high-stakes testing in the form of the Smarter Balanced Assessment. It is time for Delaware to decide: do we live in Delaware or Markellaware? Or is it all just Rodelaware? I know I sound like Chicken Little all the time with my “the sky is falling” comments, but take a look around you. Look at everything that is going on, in just the past month alone. Local control is evaporating by the day and those pieces are gone before anyone realizes they are missing.
Penny Schwinn did go over the participation rate penalty part that I discussed yesterday from the AFWG meeting. She said the Governor is okay with the option the group picked, whereby the school has to explain what they are doing about opt-out to the DOE and no school below 95% participation rate could be labeled a reward school. I asked her point blank what changed in the past 24 hours since yesterday it seemed Markell wanted the proficiency rate multiplied by the participation rate option. She said he was favorable to other options but preferred the infamous “#3” option. This portion of yesterday’s meeting was not discussed by DOE to the DESS Advisory Committee until I brought it up.
Since I’ve been posting articles the past couple days about Title I funding from the feds, I’ve received many questions about how these funds can be allocated. There is no simple answer as the below document from the Delaware Department of Education will show. This must be an accountant or auditor’s worst nightmare, trying to keep up with district budgets!
In addition, the formula was definitely changed in the past couple years based on this email from the DOE:
Low Socio-Economic Status (SES)
As many of you are aware, the USDA has made changes to the School Nutrition Programs. Most recently is the introduction of Community Eligibility.
In the past, the school nutrition program meal benefit eligibility forms have been the source data for low income determination. As you may remember, in March 2013 we told you that we would be moving to the DHSS Alternative Poverty (SNAP, TANF or Medicaid) measure for low socio economic status for 2013-14. Over the past year, we continued to get guidance from USDA and USED regarding these programs and application to other programs.
Based on this new information, the state will move to a standardized low socio-economic status measure. The new measure is Direct Certification or Direct Cert. This measure includes SNAP or TANF and does not include Medicaid. We strongly believe this is the purest measure of low socio economic status. In addition, the sharing of student level data is allowable for specific purposes. With Medicaid, there are potential issues of HIPPA.
The new low income indicator is defined to be:
A student is Low-SES if any one of the following two indicator is yes:
o TANF (Public assistance)
o SNAP (Food stamp)
For purposes of eSchool, the new indicator will be named: Low-Income. This is to distinguish from Low-SES that is used for the past four years. A separate data column in eSchool will be created for the new indicator. It will be co-existence with LOW-SES for the past years so that historical low-SES data will not be interrupted.
The new indicator will APPLY TO 2013-2014 DATA AND BEYOND starting from Fall 2013 DCAS reporting and all federal and state reporting including EDEN and school profiles. We may have instances where we will do a look-back with the Direct Certification data for trend purposes.
Districts are still able to use a different measure of poverty when distributing funds and providing services to their schools. The DDOE will not be collecting free and reduced lunch price information in the future, unless legislatively mandated to do so. If you do collect information through another means, you will be expected to secure those data appropriately.
We know we have reports online and published that have a different methodologies for low SES. Our plan is to highlight the change in methodology on these reports, and to be clear on any reports to you, which method of low SES we are using or had been used.
This email was sent to school leaders on May 30th, 2014…
Yesterday, I wrote an article about Capital School District’s $330,000 loss in Title I funding, but the actual amount they lost was a little bit higher. The amount they lost, the highest loss in the state, was $338,093.00. Which school district had the biggest gain? Which charter gets the most, and which gets NO Title I funding? Find out here:
Yes, Charter School of Wilmington gets NO Title I federal funds. A public school in Wilmington! After Capital, it looks like Smyrna, Lake Forest and Seaford took pretty big hits in Title I cuts. But nothing compares to Capital, which lost three times the second highest loss. It doesn’t look like opt-out will cause a district to lose federal funds, when a new formula will do it all by itself. Last year, the Feds changed the Title I formula from basing the number of students who receive “free and reduced lunch” at their school to the number of students whose families get special services from the state which accounts for an overall loss of Title I funds for the state of $600,000.
The bulk of the losses are occurring in Kent and Sussex counties, while all of the New Castle County districts saw an increase. Does this mean poverty is increasing in New Castle and decreasing in Kent and Sussex?
David Paulk, with the Dover Post, wrote an article in their newspaper today about how Capital School District is adjusting to the enormous $330,000 in Title I funding cuts. The article, which does not appear on their online edition, states:
Capital School District officials are dealing with a significant cut in Title IA funding. The cuts, highlighted in the preliminary budget in June, surprised some educators.
That is a huge amount of money in cuts, and it will affect a great deal of students. What is the reason for this drastic cut? It is NOT due to parent opt-outs of the Smarter Balanced Assessment. It has to do with the poverty rates set up by the United States Department of Education. According to DOE spokesperson Alison May in the article:
“The change is mainly due to the starting allocations the districts receive for the geographic districts from the United States Department of Education, which is based on their area poverty rate,” May said. “In other words, Capital saw such a big difference because it had a lower poverty rate this year so it received fewer funds accordingly.”
I reached out to May to get more information about why Capital lost so much and if other districts were affected. She clarified that Caesar Rodney lost a little bit as well, which the article suggested:
Capital’s allocation this year is down about $343,000; Caesar Rodney’s is down about $48,000 from last year. Capital’s this year: $3,057,381; CR’s this year: $2,496,552. Will have to check on if any other districts had changes and get back to you on that as I don’t have those figures myself.
I checked on the Delaware DOE profiles section of their website, and statewide, low-income numbers for the state went from 37.8% in FY2014 to 35% in FY2015 which somewhat correlates to Capital’s over 10% in funding cuts. When I looked at their specific low-income numbers, they went from 52.5% in FY14 to 48.6% in FY15. For their enrollment figures overall, Capital went from 6,526 in FY13 to 6,695.
So what is going on in Capital? By looking at their enrollment figures by grade from one year to the next, Capital lost a ton of students at the high school level. In FY14, they had 601 students in 9th grade. In FY15, they lost 157 students, cause their low-income rate to drop from 52.6% to 40.3% for those two school years. It is customary that some students will choice out of district and go to other districts or charter schools in the area. But there are only two charter high schools in Kent County, Positive Outcomes and Early College High School.
Positive Outcomes has been around for almost twenty years, and they have a fixed amount of seats available. They also start in 7th grade, and most students tend to finish there once they get into high school. But Early College High School just opened last fall, so this could account for a massive change in numbers. Oddly enough, Capital’s special education numbers for students with disabilities from 9th grade to 10th grade went from 23.3% in FY14 to 17.9% for FY15, which is a massive change as well. The DOE website does not show Early College High School’s enrollment figures on their website in the school profiles section. However, their September 30th count report, which I posted last November, shows 126 students enrolled at Early College High School in 9th grade last year. But, Early College High School shows only 9th grade for FY15, and Capital actually increased in student enrollment for 8th graders in FY14 of 475 students to 640 9th graders in FY15. This can definitely be impacted by Campus Community School only going to 8th grade..
Title I funding is a tricky beast as I am now learning. What could be happening is Early College High School is getting a lot of Title I students from both Capital and Campus Community while Capital retains more non Title I students. Holy Cross, a Catholic school in Dover, only goes to 8th grade as well. Holy Cross is tuition-based, so I would tend to doubt there would be that many Title I students in their enrollment. Poly-tech actually lost a great deal of low-income students as well. If anyone else can figure this out, let me know!
The Delaware Department of Education, in an email dated 11/13/14, assured the Red Clay Consolidated School District of a certain amount allocated for each of the three priority schools in their district. As well, they placed more demands regarding the school leaders. Nowhere in this document does it state anything about Title I funding as addressed in the documents I posted yesterday between the DOE and Red Clay from May of this year.
What the Delaware DOE did by not informing the Red Clay Consolidated School District that 10% of Title I funding had to be divvied up between the three priority schools and taken out of other schools in the district is an absolutely disgusting and reprehensible new low.
There is also more “direction” placed on Red Clay in regards to the University of Virginia in this email…
Yesterday, 175 Civil Rights Groups and associations of the Journey For Justice Alliance wrote the U.S. Senate about their demands for reauthorization of the Elementary & Secondary Education Act. This is in sharp contrast to the small number of civil rights groups who have spoke out against parent opt-out the past few months. These groups say what so many of us have been saying all along: high-stakes testing is extremely dangerous for students with low-income and/or minority status and students with disabilities. From the press release, announced today:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
July 7, 2015
CONTACT: Rachel Tardiff, Rachel@FitzGibbonMedia.com, 202.746.1507
Nearly 200 Civil Rights, Community Groups Send Letter to Senate Demanding Fair & Equitable Reforms to ESEA Reauthorization
Groups Highlight Disproportionate Consequences of Testing for Black & Brown Students, Demand End to High Stakes Testing in Public Schools
This week, the Journey for Justice Alliance—a coalition of parents, students, teachers, and community & civil rights organizations—along with 175 other national and local grassroots, youth, and civil rights organizations, sent a letter to Senators Mitch McConnell and Harry Reid demanding that high stakes tested be removed from the civil rights provisions within the Elementary & Secondary Education Act (ESEA) reauthorization bill currently being debated in Congress. Instead, the groups are calling for an end to school closures and privatization and investment in sustainable community schools with well-balanced assessments and challenging and varied curriculum.
In the letter, the groups state: “We respectfully disagree that the proliferation of high stakes assessments and top-down interventions are needed in order to improve our schools. We live in the communities where these schools exist. What, from our vantage point, happens because of these tests is not improvement. It’s destruction.”
Read the full letter here: http://www.j4jalliance.com/media/openletter/
The letter continues: “High stakes standardized tests have been proven to harm Black and Brown children, adults, schools and communities. Curriculum is narrowed. Their results purport to show that our children are failures. They also claim to show that our schools are failures, leading to closures or wholesale dismissal of staff. Children in low-income communities lose important relationships with caring adults when this happens. Other good schools are destabilized as they receive hundreds of children from closed schools. Large proportions of Black teachers lose their jobs in this process, because it is Black teachers who are often drawn to commit their skills and energies to Black children. Standardized testing, whether intentionally or not, has negatively impacted the Black middle class, because they are the teachers, lunchroom workers, teacher aides, counselors, security staff and custodians who are fired when schools close.”
“The organizations that join us in this letter represent thousands of students who have peacefully walked out of school to protest discriminatory practices, the tens of thousands of parents who have protested school closings and demanded equity. These are the people who know that they don’t have the choice of a strong neighborhood school. They know that we deserve better,” said Jitu Brown, the director of the Journey for Justice Alliance.
The groups reaffirm four primary ESEA demands established in a letter sent by the Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools (AROS)—a signatory on this week’s letter—to House and Senate leadership in March. Those demands include:
· $1 billion in funding to increase the number of sustainable community schools, which provide an array of wrap around services and after school programs and engaging, relevant, challenging curriculum while supporting quality teaching and transformative parent & community engagement;
· $500 million for restorative justice coordinators and training to promote positive approached to discipline;
· Full resourcing of Title I of the ESEA, including $20 billion in funding this year for schools that serve the most low income students, building to the 40% increase in funding for poor schools originally envisioned in the legislation;
· A moratorium on the federal Charter Schools Program.
Journey for Justice (J4J) is an alliance of grassroots community, youth, and parent-led organizations demanding community-driven alternatives to the privatization of and dismantling of public schools systems and organizing in our neighborhoods, in our cities, and nationally, for an equitable and just education system.
In reviewing the list of organizations on the website, I see NO mention of any Delaware Civil Rights groups or organizations. In fact, they have openly opposed the parent opt-out bill, House Bill 50, even going so far as to take out a full-page ad along with The Rodel Foundation and the Delaware Business Roundtable, who have long supported charter expansion and high-stakes testing in Delaware.
I have to say I am extremely impressed! Delaware PTA made a very wise choice when they chose Laurie Howard to represent them with the House of Representatives on tomorrow’s House Bill 50 vote. She tackles the very controversial issues of parent opt-out affecting federal funding and the implications of standardized testing for urban minority kids. What she essentially did was take all the crap the DOE, Markell, Rodel, and civil rights groups have been throwing our way, put them in a blender, and made some delicious opt-out soup!
This says submission 2 of 3. What is #3 going to say? I can’t wait for this!
The Delaware Department of Education hates parent opt-out. They can’t do anything about it. They know this, yet they continually attempt to greatly exaggerate even the tiniest detail, blow it up, and then add layers to it. Exceptional Delaware was able to get its hands on the actual document the DOE has been sending their “stakeholders” lately in regards to parent opt-out and House Bill 50. What is very telling is the document doesn’t even have the DOE letterhead on it. This is a Department that never misses a chance to spread their name, but on this document, it is oddly missing. Notice how close some of the wording is to the recent Dover Post article on parent opt-out with Secretary of Education Mark Murphy’s editorial.
You can see it in bold print: “There is an alternative- Senate Joint Resolution #2 has been introduced- looking at testing.” Now if anyone doubts the validity of this document coming from the DOE since it doesn’t have their name on it, I would be more than happy to email it to you. When you are in the PDF, and you click on file, go down to properties, and it shows you the author “Young Shana”. Otherwise known as DOE employee Shana Young. This was written by Young on May 22nd. Now some of this may seem familiar. That’s because we have heard it from the DOE numerous times. What wasn’t included in this document was extra wording talking about the General Assembly not having “formal authority” over the assessment inventory with Senate Joint Resolution #2.
What I would like to know is who the DOE is sending these out to. I put in a FOIA request for any emails from Shana Young from May 14th and May 15th to any superintendents in Delaware. Because I know Miss Young knew about Senate Joint Resolution #2 at least five days before it was even introduced, and that would mean this information could have only come from the sponsors of the bill: either Earl Jaques or David Sokola. I emailed Senator Sokola on Tuesday for more information on this mystery but he hasn’t responded at all. I did get the FOIA going with the DOE, but I guess I’m not important enough for Senator Sokola. But I’m sure if it was the DOE emailing him, he would come running.
This is the email I sent to Senator Sokola:
- Kevin Ohlandt
- May 26 at 10:31 AM
- Sokola David
Harris.McDowell@state.de.us MargaretRose.Henry@state.de.us firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org Ernesto.Lopez@state.de.us Patricia.Blevins@state.de.us David.Sokola@state.de.us Karen.Peterson@state.de.us email@example.com Bryan.Townsend@state.de.us Nicole.Poore@state.de.us David.McBride@state.de.us firstname.lastname@example.org Dave.Lawson@state.de.us email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com Brian.Pettyjohn@state.de.us Gerald.Hocker@state.de.us Bryant.Richardson@state.de.us Charles.Potter@state.de.us StephanieT.Bolden@state.de.us firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com Bryon.Short@state.de.us Quinton.Johnson@state.de.us Kevin.Hensley@state.de.us firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com Deborah.Hudson@state.de.us firstname.lastname@example.org Peter.Schwartzkopf@state.de.us Valerie.Longhurst@state.de.us email@example.com Michael.Mulrooney@state.de.us firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com Steve.Smyk@state.de.us Michael.Ramone@state.de.us firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com Edward.Osienski@state.de.us firstname.lastname@example.org John.Viola@state.de.us Earl.Jaques@state.de.us email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com Sean.Lynn@state.de.us firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com Lyndon.Yearick@state.de.us David.L.Wilson@state.de.us Harvey.Kenton@state.de.us Ruth.BriggsKing@state.de.us Ronald.Gray@state.de.us Daniel.Short@state.de.us Timothy.Dukes@state.de.us Richard.G.Collins@state.de.us
As parents continue to opt their children out of state-mandated standardized testing across the country, school districts, state departments, and others continue to issue threats of Federal funding cuts if schools don’t reach the 95% minimum for student participation. But are these threats validated? Has this been done before?
Yesterday, Valerie Strauss with the Washington Post asked this very same question, in this article.
“The Department of Education’s statements appear deliberately misleading. They confound the law’s requirement that states administer a testing system that covers all children with the non-existent requirement that all children take the test. They imply that a state that allows opting out is at risk of violating NCLB, even though seven states (Utah, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Oregon, Washington and California) already have such provisions and none has lost a penny in federal funding due to these provisions.”
In New Jersey, over 40 schools did not meet the 95% mark last year and not a single one of them received one penny of Federal funding cuts from the US DOE. In fact, last week, the House in the New Jersey General Assembly unanimously passed a bill allowing for parent opt out. It still has to face the New Jersey Senate, but there is a lot of support for this bill from parents.
A couple weeks ago, Diane Ravitch wrote a bizarre story about US DOE Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. Apparently, he took a wrong turn on his way to deliver a speech at a school in Chicago, and when he found himself surrounded by parents, he denied ever talking about funding cuts. The Chicago School District recently tried to have only 10% of students take the state standardized test, but they backed down when the Feds stated funding cuts would be issued if they tried this. But this conversation took a strange turn:
“But isn’t the mandate being dictated by the federal government? Isn’t that what’s behind the threat to withhold $1 billion in funding that forced Chicago’s hand?
“No. You’re wrong. . . . You’re making stuff up. You don’t have your facts straight,” Duncan said.”
The threat of Federal funding cuts comes from the requirements of No Child Left Behind. The Obama administration continually avoid the edicts of NCLB by having states sign waivers to the most stringent requirements. Yes, schools are required to administer standardized testing based on the state standards, however, there is no law requiring students to actually take the test.
In Delaware, Federal funding amounts to about 6.6% of the funding for education. Considering the Delaware Department of Education spends an exorbitant amount of money on needless programs and salaries, as well as a foolish charter school provision where they are allowed to keep transportation surplus funds after they reach their yearly amount, I’m sure Delaware can make up for these funds.
According to FairTest.org, in the below document, the reason the 95% mark was established in the first place was because schools were the ones not having special needs students test in order to bump up their scores. It was never intended as a means to discourage opt out.
As more students in Delaware will begin taking the Smarter Balanced Assessment after Spring Break, schools will see more parents opting their children out. As a result, we will see the school districts issue the veiled Federal funding cut threat. But this game of cat and mouse is just that: a veiled and empty threat.
UPDATED, 4/3/15, 2:24pm: Education Week is now jumping on this story, probably in response to the Washington Post article from yesterday.
“Although states have yet to sound any opt-out alarms at the Education Department, state officials in Colorado want to add language to the state’s waiver from provisions of the NCLB law through the waiver-renewal process that would ensure that opt-outs don’t count against a school’s 95 percent participation threshold.”
Education Week continued to write about the Federal cuts schools could face in response to States asking the US DOE for guidance on these issues:
“According to those letters, the tools at the Education Department’s disposal include (in escalating order of severity):
- A formal request that a state comply;
- Increased department monitoring of a state;
- Conditions on federal Title I aid provided for low-income students, or on the state’s waiver from provisions of the NCLB law for the 42 states that have one.
- Placing a state on “high-risk” status, although the letters did not give more specifics;
- Issuing a cease-and-desist order;
- Entering into a compliance agreement with a state;
- Withholding all or a portion of a state’s Title I administrative funds;
- Suspending, and then withholding, all or a portion of a state’s Title I grant.”
There is one part of Education Week though that tends to make me doubt the veracity of all their stories, or who their biases may lean towards, and that’s this:
“Coverage of the implementation of college and career-ready standards is supported in part by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Education Week retains sole editorial control over the content of this coverage.”
Kilroy has finally found definitive proof the Delaware DOE is changing Low-Income data so charter schools can benefit from Title I funding in Wilmington. All the details can be found here: http://kilroysdelaware.wordpress.com/2014/10/06/delaware-department-of-education-busted-for-falsifying-low-income-data-washingtonpost-huffingtonpost-edude-netde-neatoday-nsbacomm-natlgovsassoc-usedgov-arneduncan-educationoig-destateboar/
The best part is the update at 4:10pm telling the DOE techie to slow down while putting the numbers back the way they were cause they were making it worse. He then advises the techie the auditors are coming either way!
If the DOE has done this with Title I funding, what about the rest? How many other times has the DOE fixed reports for funding purposes? I did find a discrepancy with Academy of Dover’s IDEA-B funding last summer in regards to how many special education students they had compared to what was showing up on the DOE website.
I am more convinced than ever that the Delaware DOE needs a complete sweep and every single thing they have touched since Secretary of Education Mark Murphy came aboard needs to be audited and investigated. Actually, we can probably go back to when someone first took office in Delaware around January 2009.
This should make the October 9th (Thursday) Delaware Board of Education meeting very interesting! The meeting starts at 1pm, but I have a feeling you might want to get there a little bit earlier to get a seat. I’m guessing if this gets big, members of the media will be there as well.