Jack Markell, Blockchain, Coding Schools, Rodel, BRINC, Pathways To Prosperity, Registered Agents… Delaware’s Role In “The Ledger”

If Washington D.C. is the capital of America, than Delaware is the capital of corporate education reform.

Over the past week, many of us who are resisting the privatization of public education have been talking about The Ledger.  Peter Greene broke the news for the world to see, which Diane Ravitch quickly picked up on.  What is “The Ledger”? Continue reading

Opt Out And The House Bill 50 Veto Override Hits The Blogs & Major Media!!!

The never-ending saga of House Bill 50 and opt out marches on.  Since a couple of days before Christmas, it has grabbed a lot of headlines.  When the US DOE issued letters to states about potential funding cuts for opt-out, I knew the conversation would heat up fast.  Here is a chronology of links to the latest on the override of Governor Markell’s veto of House Bill 50 in Delaware, with a few other kernels thrown in:

12/23/15

https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2015/12/23/parent-opt-out-veto-override-rally-11416-i-know-what-you-have-been-up-to-governor-markell/

https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2015/12/23/us-does-threat-letter-to-delaware-doe-about-opt-out-is-ridiculous/

https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2015/12/23/us-doe-promises-funding-cuts-to-states-who-miss-participation-rates-two-years-in-a-row-contact-president-obama-now/

12/24/15

https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2015/12/24/secretary-godowsky-had-no-choice-with-opt-out-penalties/

12/29/15

https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2015/12/29/governor-markells-secret-weapon-against-house-bill-50-veto-override-exposed/

https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2015/12/29/delaware-house-reps-and-senators-who-support-the-house-bill-50-veto-override-and-those-who-dont/

12/30/15

http://www.doverpost.com/news/20151230/update-opt-out-supporters-rally-jan-14–to-override-veto

12/31/15

https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2015/12/31/house-democrats-letter-to-governor-markell-to-remove-smarter-balanced-for-11th-grade/

1/1/16

http://www.sussexcountian.com/article/20160101/NEWS/160109972

1/2/16

https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2016/01/02/education-everybodys-got-a-price-stand-up-and-refuse-awesome-video-about-data-mining-sharing/

1/3/16

https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2016/01/03/predicting-delawares-assessment-inventory-report/

1/4/16

https://kilroysdelaware.wordpress.com/2016/01/04/delaware-pta-pokes-finger-in-eye-of-delaware-governor-markell/

http://www.delawareonline.com/story/news/education/2016/01/04/opt-out-veto/78270050/

https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2016/01/04/opt-out-heats-up-again-during-arctic-chill/

1/5/16

https://kavips.wordpress.com/2016/01/05/the-pros-and-cons-of-opting-out-of-the-smarter-balanced-assessment/

http://elizabethscheinberg.blogspot.com/2016/01/dear-rep-jaques-youre-wrong-but-its-not.html

https://kilroysdelaware.wordpress.com/2016/01/05/breaking-news-delaware-state-rep-jaques-masturbates-gov-markell-in-public/

https://kilroysdelaware.wordpress.com/2016/01/05/rep-mike-ramone-playing-the-political-fence-re-testing-opt-out/

http://delawarestatenews.net/schools/15006/

https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2016/01/05/dsea-supports-opt-out-all-dsea-members-need-to-support-the-override-of-markells-veto/

1/6/16

https://gadflyonthewallblog.wordpress.com/2016/01/06/my-daughter-is-not-a-widget/

http://www.delawareonline.com/story/opinion/contributors/2016/01/06/importance-overriding-veto/78361916/

http://delawarepublic.org/post/smarter-balanced-opt-out-supporters-aim-push-bill-past-governors-veto#stream/0

https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2016/01/06/african-american-opt-out-in-delaware-part-1-the-lomax-factor/

http://www.delawareonline.com/story/opinion/contributors/2016/01/06/opt-out-veto-override-vote-students-teachers/78362468/

https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2016/01/06/governor-markell-gives-godowsky-authority-to-replace-sbac-with-sat-without-general-assembly-approval-or-an-executive-order/

https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2016/01/06/kowalko-to-ask-for-suspension-of-rules-to-override-markells-veto-of-house-bill-50-this-is-the-minefield-legislators-are-stuck-in/

https://delawarefirststate.wordpress.com/2016/01/06/sat-to-replace-smarter-in-11th-grade-in-delaware-less-testing-is-a-good-thing-but-are-there-unintended-consequences/

http://delawarepublic.org/post/state-will-drop-smarter-balanced-sat-official-11th-grade-test#stream/0

http://www.delawareonline.com/story/news/2016/01/06/juniors-wont-have-take-smarter-balanced-exam/78367630/

https://kilroysdelaware.wordpress.com/2016/01/06/delaware-governor-markell-chokes-on-his-soap-on-the-rope-re-student-testing/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/delaware-scraps-state-assessment-for-high-school-juniors/2016/01/06/3f7c8c6a-b4cf-11e5-8abc-d09392edc612_story.html

1/7/16

http://www.delawareonline.com/story/opinion/readers/2016/01/07/letters-editor-greedy-dupont/78410616/

http://www.delawareliberal.net/2016/01/07/the-general-assembly-needs-to-override-the-governors-veto-of-opt-out-bill/

http://delawareway.blogspot.com/2016/01/will-legislature-stand-up-for-their.html

https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2016/01/07/secretary-godowsky-and-governor-markell-recklessly-whitewash-the-satsbac-debacle-while-violating-state-federal-law/

http://www.doverpost.com/news/20160107/sat-replacing-smarter-balanced-assessment-for-high-school-juniors-

https://kilroysdelaware.wordpress.com/2016/01/07/delaware-governor-markell-should-be-required-to-register-as-a-child-abuser/

https://transparentchristina.wordpress.com/2016/01/07/warning-gates-is-infiltrating-opt-out/

1/8/16

https://kilroysdelaware.wordpress.com/2016/01/08/one-mother-to-another-mother-governor-markell-re-test-op-out/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/delaware-should-not-make-it-okay-for-parents-to-opt-their-kids-out-of-testing/2016/01/08/36cd6410-b586-11e5-a76a-0b5145e8679a_story.html

https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2016/01/08/governor-markell-sends-the-washington-post-editorial-hit-squad-to-disrespect-delaware-parents-even-more/

1/9/16

https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2016/01/09/house-bill-50-gives-protection-for-student-rights-and-honors-parental-rights/

https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2016/01/09/delaware-house-republicans-weigh-in-on-veto-override-of-house-bill-50/

https://delawarefirststate.wordpress.com/2016/01/09/the-washington-post-article-chimes-in-about-de-parents-opting-out-and-the-needed-data/

https://kilroysdelaware.wordpress.com/2016/01/09/washington-post-throws-gov-markell-a-rope-as-it-slap-de-pta/

https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2016/01/09/frederika-jenner-jeff-taschner-dsea-needs-to-side-with-parents-on-the-veto-override-of-house-bill-50/

1/10/16

https://delawarefirststate.wordpress.com/2016/01/10/letter-from-state-pta-to-delaware-legislators-asking-them-to-support-house-bill-50-veto-override/

https://www.facebook.com/GovernorMarkell/?fref=ts

https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2016/01/10/governor-markell-takes-it-to-facebook-and-receives-the-beat-down-of-his-life/

1/11/16

http://www.wdel.com/story/72793-education-budget-city-crime-top-priorities-in-upcoming-legislative-session

https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2016/01/11/red-clay-education-association-officially-supporting-house-bill-50-veto-override-and-more/

1/12/16

https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2016/01/12/for-the-love-of-god-godowski-what-are-you-even-talking-about-and-general-assembly-a-no-is-a-no-to-your-constituents/

http://www.wrdetv.com/index.cfm?&ref=60200&ref2=3461

http://www.wboc.com/story/30948519/2016-legislative-session-begins-in-delaware

http://www.wmdt.com/news/more-local-news/de-rep-senators-explain-their-points-of-emphasis-for-148th-gen-assembly/37399824

1/13/16

http://www.doverpost.com/article/20160113/NEWS/160119913

 

Governor Markell Sends The Washington Post Editorial Hit Squad To Disrespect Delaware Parents Even More

The Washington Post, owned by the owner of Amazon, just published an editorial about the potential override of Delaware Governor Markell’s veto of House Bill 50, our opt-out legislation passed overwhelmingly by the Delaware House of Representatives and Senate last Spring.  They are very much against the override.  The owner of The Washington Post, Jeff Bezos, is a very well-known charter school supporter.  Many feel the true purpose of tests like the Smarter Balanced Assessment and the PARCC tests is to label and shame traditional public schools to the point where they are put in “turnaround” status and then become charter schools.

I found the editorial staff’s column to be absolutely wrong on so many levels.

Credit to Delaware Gov. Jack Markell (D), then, for standing up for accountability in vetoing a bill that would encourage parents to exempt their children from state tests.

The accountability where he made our Delaware Department of Education impose harsh opt-out penalties on our Delaware School Success Framework after our Secretary of Education said it would most likely not happen?  Accountability where students with high populations of minorities, low-income and poverty students, and students with disabilities don’t perform well on “the best test Delaware ever made”?  But yet Jack Markell can’t be accountable to the legislators that voted overwhelmingly in support of parental rights.  He dishonored them and parents with his cowardly veto.

In fact, parents can already prevent their children from taking these tests. But the legislation would give an imprimatur of state approval that would lead more parents to think it’s okay, even desirable, for children to duck these tests.

The legislation says absolutely nothing about that whatsoever.  It merely codifies a parental right and stops school districts and charter schools from strong-arming parents when they opt their children out.  If parents can already prevent their children from taking these tests, than why is our state not doing anything to stop school districts and charters from intimidating and bullying parents?  And yet, this editorial says absolutely nothing about the protections offered to students: they are to have alternate educational activities and they will not be punished by the school for the parent’s decision.

That, as Mr. Markell told us, would be bad policy. “Assessments are an important tool for teachers and families to have,” he said. Backing his decision are civil rights groups that fear minority and other at-risk students will slip through the cracks if there is no objective measure of performance and business groups that believe results should be measured when billions of dollars are spent on schools.

The same civil rights groups that get massive donations from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation?  They are full of it and care more about their own bottom line than the students they claim to represent.

No doubt there is frustration with what some see as excessive testing, but the solution is not a knee-jerk boycott. Instead, there needs to be, as is being done in Delaware, a thoughtful inventory of tests to eliminate those that are redundant or otherwise unnecessary.

That thoughtful assessment inventory where the ONLY parent on the task force is one appointed by the Governor?  And stacked up with many of his education go-to legislators?  The one that will most likely get rid of assessments that actually do help students and will give rise to more Smarter Balanced interim tests?  That thoughtful process?

If they want to continue to have bragging rights in improving education, they need to preserve accountability and not give in to interest groups that oppose a clear view of how their schools are performing.

Trust me, the only ones bragging about Delaware education are the Governor and our DOE.  We know how our schools are performing, thank you very much, and it is all based on a lie called standardized tests used not for their original purpose but to test, label, and punish our schools.  They are socio-economic in nature and all they do is tell us what a child’s zip code is in many cases. 

 

Delaware’s House Bill 50 Landslide Vote Hits The Washington Post & The Associated Press

Randall Chase with the Associated Press wrote an article that appeared in The Washington Post about Delaware’s Parent Opt-Out legislation, House Bill 50.  Chase reached out to Governor Markell who said:

“I don’t think it’s a good bill,” Markell said, who touted recent improvements in state schools, including higher graduation rates, lower dropout rates and more students taking and passing advanced placement tests.”

“Markell also noted that members of the civil rights community in Delaware and other states have supported annual assessments as an effective way to identify and address the needs of minority students.”

I commented on the article, which can be found here.

“Sadly, Governor Markell is mistaken with his opposition of this bill. His own Secretary of Education, Mark Murphy, publicly told the House of Representatives there was no current growth model established for the Smarter Balanced Assessment. He also publicly stated parents aren’t allowed to opt students out of the state assessment. As Mercedes Schneider recently pointed out, 28 national civil rights groups stated their opposition to opt-out. Today, only 12 of those groups are speaking in opposition.

Of course Governor Markell would think this is bad bill. I believe he mistakenly attributes the progress made in Delaware schools to standardized testing, when the reality is Delaware has many effective and great public school teachers who are doing more with far less due to cuts Markell instituted years ago and never reinstated. This bill passed the House with a 36-3 vote with 2 absent. This sends a clear message to Delaware parents that state legislators understand parents fundamental rights and they do not believe in this assessment.

The very discussion of this bill has people all over Delaware talking about education like they never have before, from the most effective way to educate our inner-city students to what the best way to determine student outcomes is. Many in the state are fast realizing the Race To The Top and high-stakes testing have been nothing but a severe disruption and a money pit for our schools and students. Governor Markell could veto the bill, but the Delaware House and Senate could override that veto with a 60% vote in both.”

Markell has been utilizing the positions of civil rights groups in Delaware for months to bolster his opposition of the opt-out movement.  Mercedes Schneider, a Louisiana educator with the very popular Deutsch29 education blog, wrote on Wednesday about 28 national civil rights groups that petitioned the U.S. Congress during discussion about the ESEA reauthorization back in January.  When asked to declare a formal position on opt-out, only 12 of those groups participated in this statement, according to Schneider.

While Delaware State Rep. Stephanie Bolden was not present for the vote, she did have some very strong concerns in regards to inner-city students and opt-out.  I have decided to get this conversation started here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/wilmingtonschools/

About That Federal Funding Regarding Opt Out…. **UPDATED**

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.”