15 Who Made An Impact In 2015: Senator Bryan Townsend

Senator Bryan Townsend had a big year!  Not only did he introduce tons of legislation that actually passed, he also announced his run for Congress.  He has many running against him, but the slot John Carney filled as the US House Representative will have a new person come January 2017.  Will it be Townsend?  This is really a guess at this point.  His main opponent appears to be State Rep. Byron Short, also a Democrat.  This will be one hot primary!

On the education side, Townsend introduced legislation that would increase the requirements of the Delaware Secretary of Education.  This was done as a result of former Secretary Mark Murphy’s severe shortcomings in the Delaware Department of Education.  On the data side, Townsend sponsored a few bills that would protect student data.  He did vote yes for the controversial opt-out bill, House Bill 50, but not without a introducing a potential stumbling block along the way.

When House Bill 50 hit the Delaware Senate the first time, Townsend introduced a legislation to allow high school juniors to opt-out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  By the time it went back to the House of Representatives, many Republicans felt this could cause a slew of problems with parents who might want their teenager to take the test.  Eventually, the House voted the amendment down and House Bill 50 passed the House again, and then the Senate again.  As we all know, Governor Jack Markell vetoed the bill, but it may come up for an override when the legislators come back in January.  How will Townsend vote if that happens?

Recently, Townsend has been supporting Governor Markell’s decision to allow Syrian refugees into Delaware.  Following the Paris attacks and the recent shooting in San Bernardino, California, many folks in Delaware oppose this.  Will Townsend be able to overcome this on Election Day?  It will be interesting to watch.  What do you think?  Does the newer Senator have what it takes to beat the established State Rep?  Or will one of the Republicans running come from behind and do the unthinkable?

ESSA Part 1: US Secretary’s Power Questioned In The “Every Student Succeeds Act”

This is a massive read.  At 1,069 pages, I have to wonder how every member of the United States House and Senate will actually have time to read the whole thing.  There is a great deal of legalese written into this.  It can be repetitive at times, but that is also when you need to look at it the most.  I haven’t even finished it yet.  Like most laws, it refers you to prior paragraphs or sections.

For the states, the US Secretary of Education now has limited power.  The Secretary can no longer use things like Common Core or Race To The Top to coerce states into programs and agendas.  But each state must submit their “state standards” to the Secretary who has the power to approve or deny the request.  But when the states submit their plans, it can’t just be the Governor and the state DOE.

ESSA5

This means the state legislators must also be a part of the process for picking the state standards, something most states should have already had in the first place.  In the case of Delaware, this did not happen with any meaningful affect.

ESSA7.1

ESSA7.2

The US Secretary of Education has too much power even with this bill.

ESSA8

For the initial review of a state’s submitted plan, the Secretary has to utilize other folks within the US DOE to review the plan.  But if a state makes changes, the Secretary seems to have this executive power to approve or deny those changes.  So much for Democracy…

ESSA11

Math, English Language Arts, and Science.  Those are the three mandatory subjects that must be in a state’s plan.  No Social Studies.

ESSA12

This is where it gets very confusing.  If the Secretary has the power to approve or deny “the challenging State academic standards” (get used to those words, you will be hearing them a lot), what power has been removed?  With that power, I see a great deal of control and direction already.  What backroom deals were made for a bill that was designed to limit federal control?  The actual product doesn’t really show this driving need for what was supposed to be the main purpose of the bill.

The Full “Every Student Succeeds Act” Legislation To Be Voted On 12/2 By Congress

Please take the time to read this.  It is a mammoth read.  With PDFs, if you right-click you can search for specific words or phrases.  I strongly recommend every single parent, teacher, staff members, legislator, and US citizen read this.  It will change everything forever.  If there is anything in here you don’t like, call your state Congress representatives and tell them to vote NO!!!! I know what I will be doing when I get home from work tonight…

Time Is Running Out #StopESEA

We only have three days to make a VERY strong impression on the members of Congress before they vote on the ESEA Reauthorization on 12/2.  Three days.  They won’t even be releasing the final bill until tomorrow.  I saw somewhere, either on Facebook or Twitter, someone put out a plea to have the members of Congress let the public view this for 60 days.  For something as important as the future of education I am inclined to agree.  I don’t think it will happen.  This is the bill that the corporate education reformers are salivating over.  As well as the politicians who have the most to gain.

It wouldn’t shock me if Delaware Governor Jack Markell has known for months what is going to be in the final draft.  Because all indications point to the very agendas he has been having HIS Department of Education and HIS Secretary of Education inflict on Delaware.  These are crafty and sneaky people, whose sole existence is to do the Governor’s bidding.  Like little minions without a mind of their own.  I love how this bill “allows” states to create their own accountability systems but the ESEA Flexibility waivers demanded it from most states.  Even though it wasn’t congressionally approved and merely “guidance”.  It’s almost like the US DOE and the States knew exactly what was going to be in this bill…

Call your state members of Congress TODAY!  Time is running out!

Congress Ready To Tackle Reathorization Of ESEA Again…The Devil Is In The Details…

In a press release today, the Education and Workforce Committee in the United States Congress stated the next step in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act is about to begin:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 13, 2015
CONTACT: Press Office
(202) 226-9440
Joint Statement on Efforts to Reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act

WASHINGTON, D.C. – House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and Ranking Member Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-VA), along with Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA), issued the following joint statement on efforts to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act:

We believe we have a path forward that can lead to a successful conference, and that is why we are recommending to our leadership to appoint conferees to take the next step in replacing No Child Left Behind. This is a law that everyone wants fixed, and teachers, parents, and students are counting on us to succeed. Our efforts to improve K-12 education will continue to reflect regular order, providing conference members an opportunity to share their views and offer their ideas. Because of the framework we’ve developed, we are optimistic that the members of the conference committee can reach agreement on a final bill that Congress will approve and the president will sign.

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The details of this are going to be watched by many.  No one is going to get everything they want.  That is certain.  But many people are going to be looking at what is sacrificed and what is rammed in there at the last minute.  I believe they should honor opt-out if they keep the standardized assessments, or just get rid of them entirely.  I don’t think they should do anything that continues the road we are on because the past 15 years have clearly shown us it is not good for students.

US DOE Directing All States To Make All Assessments The Way They Want Them

The United States Department of Education issued non-regulatory guidance on Assessment Review on September 25th, 2015.  This was a couple weeks before President Obama and Soon-To-Be-Former US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s public announcement for states to limit testing and to have no more than 2% of classroom going towards assessments.  Many have predicted this is just another attempt to get rid of district assessments that give clear and meaningful data for students, parents, and teachers.  We don’t want our students actually figuring out how to improve quickly when we have all those great state assessments like Smarter Balanced and PARCC that will give us results after kids go onto the next grade, right?

The full document from the US DOE is non-regulatory guidance but considered a “significant guidance document”, whatever the hell that means…  When the US DOE issues guidance that is non-regulatory, that means it has not been Congressionally approved by both Houses in the US Congress.  Which is how the US DOE likes to operate, without legislative approval…

National Letter From State Coalitions To Halt ESEA Reauthorization Under Obama Administration Includes Delaware Representation

Today, a coalition of advocates from nearly every state in the USA joined together to write a letter asking the United States Congress to suspend committee meetings on the ESEA Reauthorization until a new President is elected.  Delaware is included in this, as Refuse The Test Delaware and Delaware Against Common Core.  Please read the document below to see why so many are opposed to this particular ESEA Reauthorization.