It seems random events are not so random at Providence Creek Academy, the charter school in Clayton, DE. It now appears that the audit investigation into suspected fraud by a former employee was missing a lot of information. Two other employees were also taking funds meant for students for their own personal use. Head of School Charles “Chuck” Taylor covered it all up. Continue reading “The Hidden Secrets Behind Providence Creek Academy’s Bomb Threat & Audit Investigation”
Why do parents of special needs children need to advocate for them? Because we have to. If we don’t, who will? There are those who will help, but nobody understands your child more than you. I see it as my moral responsibility to advocate for my own special needs child when something is wrong. When something doesn’t add up. To say his battle has been long and tough would be an understatement. When the pieces of the puzzle don’t fit neatly together at a school, a church, an extracurricular activity, or anything your child does, you have to look at the whole picture. If those pieces don’t fit or some are missing, get loud. Expose and find out the truth. Because even if you may not get what you wanted for your own child, it could help another child down the road.
I see special needs parents go ballistic when a restaurant or some type of amusement activity discriminates against disabled children. But I don’t see this with a lot of schools or churches. Why? Our child has just as much right to be some place as someone else. If you tell me you don’t want my child somewhere, you better have a damn good reason for it. As well, you better know damn well what you are talking about and be able to back up that talk with cold hard facts. If it is a place that has already given certain promises or expectations, and those suddenly shift, you have every right to find out why AND go public about it.
If you feel your child has been treated harshly without some form of due process or a valid reason, you need to call them out on it. If the institution has not done what they said they would do, you have EVERY RIGHT TO ADVOCATE FOR YOUR CHILD. People hate to get named or called out. They get scared. They don’t like seeing their name in public. Why? Because that could tarnish what they believe is their good reputation. If, after you have reached that point of no return, name them. Expose them. Let others know the grass isn’t that green. Because if you don’t, you are saying it is okay. You are saying it is okay for someone to discriminate against special needs children. You are saying it is okay for other children to not be given a sense of justice and fair treatment.
I always ask these basic question when it comes to special education. Would an adult tell a child who is blind that they need to see? Would they tell a child in a wheelchair they need to walk? Would they tell a deaf child to listen up? Of course not. So why would they tell our children with the disabilities they have, when those disabilities are medically documented facts, that they cannot provide for your child when they already agreed to it? It is their responsibility to understand that disability. When a parent provides documentation for their child to a school, it is incumbent on the school to actually read and understand that information. A “cursory glance” is not acceptable and it should not be tolerated. If you notice your child is having escalating behavior issues when they weren’t in the past, is that the fault of the student with disabilities if the school has not bothered to accommodate the child? I would challenge any school that has not done its due diligence for that unique child to say they did. Special education is NOT a one size fits all. And if you are a private school with a program designed exclusively for students with disabilities, then you cannot deny a child services when you have done nothing to understand that disability.
Parents have to fight for their child. It is their legal right.
Nothing is invincible. Both statements are correct. No one person or power is absolutely invincible. But if you do nothing, then nothing becomes invincible. This is where we are these days, a synchronicity, a play on words. Not just in my home state, but as a country. People seem to be making decisions based on fear more than what is necessary. If I do this, then this will happen. If I speak against this then it may make me look bad or it could cause me problems. You are exactly where they want you. Because even if they aren’t invincible, they know nothing is. They also know if you do nothing, they are that much closer to becoming invincible.
I heard these words this morning driving to work. Nothing is invincible. A guy named Gordon Sumner sang these words along with a couple of his friends back in 1983. Gordon was a teacher back in the day. His words from thirty-three years ago are very prophetic. Because nothing is winning the day in public education. A lot of people talk about something but too many say nothing. But trust me, the enemies of public education have plenty to say. They hold an illusionary power. This is power they have been given. They use fear tactics to silence their oppressors because they know how to do it. They turn words like “rigor”, and “robust”, and “pathways” into their symbols of change. But they experience fear too.
Nothing scared them more than 22% of New York students opting out of the state assessment this year. New York parents are smart. They know that if enough of them opt out it makes the policy makers who love these tests. They know nothing is invincible. We all need to take this cue from the Empire State. Imagine if 22% of Americans said something instead of nothing? Imagine if that number grew to 30%? 50%, or 75%? It would destroy their corporate profit-driven dreams for our children. Politicians would stand up and take notice. The King would fall. For the corporate education reformers, their illusionary invincibility would crumble into dust. They would become nothing.
How many parents in Delaware and the rest of America got their kid’s state assessment results, looked at them, and thought “my kid’s grades don’t reflect this. What the hell are they taking this test for?” I know many who felt it was a waste of paper and ink and disposed of these results. I know some parents are worried about choicing their child to another school if they opt them out of the test. To them I say “Do it anyways,” because if enough of you do it those choice qualifications won’t matter. Those qualifications will become the dust on the reformer’s mirrors when they look at themselves and say “Why”?
Remember, nothing is invincible. If you believe in something, say it. It’s what makes us America. Don’t let fear rule the day. Let your voice and your conscience and your own inherent sense of what is right and what is wrong make the decision, not what others say or what they pressure you into believing. They are liars and will stop at nothing to tear down your child’s own sense of what is right and wrong so they can get their way. Don’t give them that power. Don’t let them try to brainwash our kids into believing their way is the right way.
Well, this is mighty interesting. Marie-Anne Aghazadian, the former Executive Director for the Parent Information Center of Delaware from 1989-2014, a former member of the Governor’s Advisory Council for Exceptional Citizens, and the founding President of the Delaware Autism Program, wrote a comment on an article I published over a year ago about the introduction of Senate Bill 92.
I, too, find it highly suspicious that Paul Herdman is now interested in improving special education. A group of students he had disdained for years. But then things have been rather quiet for Rodel since the demise of the RTT grant and the unsuccessful Mark Murphy reign.
And what better way to get into the fray again than to suggest interest in special education. Really?
I have found that Matt Korobkin (with whom I have worked on the Autism Advancement Package aka SB92/93), although well-intentioned, has indeed little spec. ed. background and seems to be pushing Delaware to replicate the education collaborative model prevalent in Massachusetts and other states.
Until society values students with disabilities as much as their AP students and is willing to pay forward to ensure their success as productive and self-sufficient adults, we will continue to waste time, money and children’s lives on costly, trivial pursuits such as studies and lawsuits brought on by legitimately frustrated parents.
Aghazadian raised several talking points. Why is Rodel, in the past couple of years, dabbling in special education. Dr. Paul Herdman, the Executive Director of the Rodel Foundation of Delaware, did teach special education once upon a time. But the policies Rodel pushed over the past ten years seem to be special education killers and not helpers. I agree 100% with what she wrote. I would love to chat more with her about all of this as she seems to know the history and education of Delaware education better than most based on her vast history in the system.
This is what we need more of: those in a position to speak out and actually doing it! Nothing will change if more people don’t speak up. Use your voice. You have it for a reason!
“That is the force of resistance. It has a moral power, it has a truth. And that truth exposes any totaliterian forces, including our corporate masters for who they are. And it is our job, each of us, in whatever circumstance we are in, to find the courage to stand up and speak that truth, and damn the consequences. When you speak that truth, that good, it draws to it the good. And it is the good that will bring them down.” -Chris Hedges
A lot of people ask me why I do what I do. Why I write about education so much. Why I attack instead of cooperate. Why I question instead of answer. Why I fight instead of surrender. Why I resist every single word that comes out of my Governor’s mouth. Why I believe everything coming out of the Rodel Foundation serves no child, but rather a hedge fund or a company’s bottom line. Why I can look any member of the State Board of Education in the eye and tell them in no uncertain words, “This is wrong.” Why I disdain those who have the power to stop all of this but enable it instead. Why I fight for parents to opt out instead of opting in. Why I sound like a crazed madman coming out of the wilderness when I tell people, “Don’t just opt out of the state assessment, opt out of the personalized learning too.” Why I connect the dots on all the pieces of the puzzles and say, “Don’t believe this is a good thing. Not for one second.”
The people who are doing all of this, they can’t relate. They don’t know what it is to be on the bottom. They don’t know the struggles most of us go through. They are relentless in their methods. I will speak until I can’t. I know the difference between genuine and fake. I know when the same words are being said over and over and over again, it is a script. A script designed to be force-fed to all of us until we numb our brains into believing it. This is why. Everything Chris Hedges says in this video is why.
I would rather be shunned and ridiculed than cower to any of these pieces of trash that want to take something good from children and replace it with corporate dividends. I would rather be laughed at than to believe the lies. I would rather be given a look of pity than a handshake of compliance. I will not give up the fight. I won’t stop until these people are exposed for the frauds they are. I will stand up for parents and children even if I am the only one standing. I believe the rights of parents and students are more important than the rights of the test-makers and the corporate shakers. I will fight for the rights of all children at risk even when their supposed advocates are leading them down a path of destruction designed to swallow their lives whole.
I will resist.
We have not had a major world war in over seventy years. There are very few alive who fought in World War II. But the modern war is the companies. The huge corporations. Companies have more say than people. They infiltrated education and took over. Do you we the people have what it takes to take it back? How loud do we have to get? If we miss our chance, which is pretty much right now, our children will never be the same. All the things we take for granted will be gone forever.
“Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.”
Sorry for not posting much today. I woke up at 4:30am to see if the Level 2 State of Emergency alert was still in effect for Delaware. I saw something about it being lifted at 10am, and I fell asleep again. At 9:00am, I woke up again.
I shoveled some yesterday and a good neighbor came over with his snow blower. After he finished, I began shoveling our porch when I found the above picture. One lone flower, buried underneath the snow, still alive in the harsh winter. I had to get a picture of it. For some people, they would think “Big deal, it’s just a flower.” But I am a deep philosophical kind of guy and I look for meaning in even the smallest things.
To me, this was a symbol of hope. I haven’t had much reason to hope lately. The battles have gotten harder, and longer. They are more time-consuming. For the longest time, I’ve been scared. Scared there is no hope for education. That no matter what some of us do or say, no one is listening. But I think they are, cause our enemies are speaking louder and trying to carry out all they can in a hurry. These reformers have been patient for well over a decade, sinking their teeth in wherever they can and thrusting the knife into public education. But because of those like myself who are fighting them, every chance we get, we are making a difference. They are getting a bit sloppy. Actually, they left a lot of tracks uncovered, and many of us are finding them in the oddest of places.
I’m not giving up. Not by a long shot. I may be quiet at times. Those are the times they need to worry the most. That means I’m doing lots of research that is already bearing fruit. I will post a lot about this research… when I’m ready. In the meantime, keep opting out. Keep asking the questions. Challenge them. Call them out. Write letters to the editor. Whatever you do, don’t let nagging questions gnaw at you. Let them out. Take a risk, be daring. Be vocal. We can’t get there alone. We need all of you who are willing to rise up to the challenge. These are children we are fighting for, never forget that. They need us to be their voice.
This is an urgent message to every single public school teacher in America. You need to fight for your jobs. That’s right. You need to STOP this ESEA bill coming to a vote on Wednesday. If you don’t, it will weigh on your conscience when all the bad stuff in the bill is implemented and you have even less control than you do now. This legislation actually changes the future of teaching. You will no longer be a teacher, giving instruction to your students. You will become a data coach. A facilitator. Is this what you want? If it is, then you can certainly stay the course. If you want to stand around while children are plugged into computers all day and you base your very brief interaction with students on what will amount to a corporate written script, then stay the course. But I urge you to read this legislation when it is made public tomorrow. You need to act fast once you do. Call your Congress representatives immediately if you do not think this is a good thing.
You have been under-minded by numerous companies and “leaders” in America. Between No Child Left Behind, Common Core, Race To The Top, VAM, Standardized Testing, and so forth. Are you really going to sit back and let this happen again? You have a voice. A very powerful voice. Use it. And not through the lips of your leaders. Use your own voices. But do it now before it is too late.
Just because your union presidents are endorsing this sham of an education bill does not mean you have to. This bill is designed solely for the corporate education reformers. The very same ones who pushed VAM and hardcore evaluations on you. If you want to see the escalation of more money going out to companies instead of your classrooms, than doing nothing or endorsing this bill is your best course of action. But if you believe that this is not education, but a nightmare being inflicted on kids and teachers, than you need to get on the phone, email, social media and any way or method you have to put a stop to this bill.
I am sure many of you are thinking “It’s no use. There is nothing I can do.” If you have that attitude, you are absolutely right. But there are many of you fighting this fight and using their voice. They will not quit. They will not let public education be destroyed by greed and corruption. If you truly believe in public education, then you need to fight. And even if you like some parts of this bill, you need to nuke the whole package with your voice. All of you.
For those reading this who have no clue who I am, I will tell you. I’m just a dad. A very angry and upset father who has watched the fall of education happen before my very eyes. I watched it affect my own son with disabilities in the worst ways possible. I acted. I researched. I dove in to the data and the very diabolical events happening at my state’s Department of Education. I saw how they pushed stuff through that was damaging to teachers and students and schools with no one the wiser. I got wise. I made it my mission to upset their plans as much as humanly possible. I speak because so many of you can’t. But it has reached a point where those of us who are fighting the good fight need you to rise. If you have to march on your state capital or actually drive to D.C., do it. Use social media as your weapon pointed right at those who would disrespect you and destroy what you enjoy. But for the love of public education, do something!
You don’t have time to do nothing. It is 11:59 on the public education doomsday clock!
The above picture was originally on Amazing Stories Mag
People have asked me why I care about the priority schools all the way up in Wilmington when I live in Dover. My reply is we should all care. Not only because what the state and the DOE are doing is fundamentally wrong, but also because if it can happen there it can happen anywhere in our state if we don’t make a stand. I am also very concerned about what happens with all of the students with disabilities who receive special education services.
Here are the facts: If the Red Clay and Christina school districts do not sign the MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) by September 30th, the Delaware DOE will take them over. This is no secret. All indications are leading to the school district boards refusing to do so. Rumors, although unsubstantiated, indicate these six schools would become charter schools.
For the September 30th, 2013 count, the six schools had the following special education populations:
Bancrof, Christina 14.7% 61 out of 206
Bayard, Christina 19.0% 88 out of 463
Warner, Red Clay 15.4% 101 out of 541
Shortlidge, Red Clay 14.0% 45 out of 317
Stubbs, Christina 9.5% 31 out of 325
Highlands, Red Clay 11.5% 32 out of 350
In comparison, the “great” charter schools Markell referred to had the following special ed populations:
East Side Charter 15.1% 61 out of 403 (students with Special Education did not score proficient in scoring)
Kuumba Academy 5.7% 17 out of 298 (not enough students to even count in the proficiency figures)
So what happens to these 358 special education students?
358 childen with IEPs and special education services may be transferred to new charter schools. As a whole, Delaware charter schools have been notorious for not being able to adequately handle special education correctly. Very few even accept the most severely complex students with disabilities.
Taking away the potential legal hurdles that may come up for the DOE, such as union contracts, ownership of the school buildings, and other litigation that may come up, say these students go to a new charter school. Since it is essentially a transfer, an IEP would have to be reviewed. Governor Markell has already said these schools will be put through a rigorous process to get the students to proficiency status. He announced after school activities for tutoring and to get students back on track. Children with special needs often have enough problems getting through a regular school day. To add longer time to the day will be a severe burden for these kids.
The “rigor” of common core will be put to the test with special needs children at these new schools. I have a theory that out of these six schools, one of the new charters will focus solely on all of these displaced students with IEPs. This would eliminate inclusion and the least restricted environment. It would also allow the other five schools proficiency scores to automatically rise on standardized testing since the “specials” are no longer part of the equation. This is not about “closing the gaps” as the DOE, Secretary of Education Mark Murphy and Governor Markell have stated. Even more far reaching is the belief from many that the DOE will grandstand these achievements, and try to have even more reach across the state with this experiment.
If this is true, every single special needs parent in Delaware needs to be very concerned. Our children will be segregated from “normal” children and a free appropriate public education will become a joke. Even worse, for these special needs children at the priority schools, this will become a TRIPLE SEGREGATION: special needs, low income and minorities. This sinister agenda is happening right before our very eyes and we need to unite. If I were any parent of special needs children at these six schools, you need to speak now. You need to organize into a group and come down to Dover, straight to the DOE office, to the Governor’s office, and anywhere your collected voice can carry weight. Demand that Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy resign or call for his termination. You need to write to the newspapers, the blogs, and contact TV and radio stations. Call AND email your elected officials: State House Representatives and Senators. Let our US Senator and House Representative representing Delaware know your complaints. Contact the US Department of Education. Let President Obama know. Contact the Office of Civil Rights. You need to picket where it will be noticed.
The IEP Task Force has their next meeting on Tuesday, September 23rd, at 4:30 pm. There are two locations: The Carvel Building in Wilmington and The Collette Center in Dover. If you are working, ask to leave early. Bring your children with you. Tell the task force your fears. Let them know you are not okay with this.
In ten days, by October 1st, you may not have any more options. This is short notice, but your children will be severely affected by this. There is no time to wait. If you have any doubt in your mind, you need to do this now. Because once it happens, you will live with regret that you didn’t speak up sooner.