The Latest Basic Special Education Funding Bill Really Ticks Me Off!!!

Okay, that wasn’t the headline you ever expected to come out of me on here!  There is a distinct reason why this bill bothers me so much.  House Bill #48 came out on Thursday and like all the other bills from past legislative sessions, it asks for the full allotment of state funding for students labeled as Basic Special Education in Kindergarten to 3rd Grade in Delaware’s public schools.  So what is it about this bill that gives me pause?

It is the fact this is the third time State Rep. Kim Williams has brought this bill forward.  It came out four years ago for the first time in the 148th General Assembly.  It should have been a no-brainer.  It got out of committee but it was never heard on the floor of the House.  In the last session, the 149th, it came out but it morphed into a part of the state budget which offered part of the funding for it.

When Governor Carney announced his weighted funding plan a week and a half ago he did not include this in his proposal.  While I am all for equitable funding, the basic special education funding should have been utilized years ago when the unit-based funding formula changed during Governor Markell’s first term.  The fact we have the same bill in a third legislative session really ticks me off.  While I greatly appreciate the partial funding that was granted last year it is appalling to me that the state will not grant the full funding in this area.

If the Delaware DOE can demand students with disabilities reach certain proficiency levels on horrible and flawed state assessments than they damn well better give the full funding these students deserve.  These are kids.  Kids with issues and disabilities forming that they aren’t ready for.  Not that anyone with disabilities is ever ready, but these kids need that rock solid education foundation.  And when they aren’t getting the support and services they need they are losing out.  With that being said, I know their teachers (most of them) will do whatever they can to reach that child to the best of their ability.  They will use what they can when they can.  It is not their intention to see any student fail.  But they can’t do it alone.  They need help.

Delaware is great at talking the talk but there is resistance to walking the walk when it comes to education.  Even Carney’s weighted funding attempt is not a permanent thing.  It is more of a trial than a commitment.  We demand so much out of our students and teachers but consistently fail in giving the funding to achieve this.  And then we put it on the districts to come up with those funds.  But then our state will pour millions of dollars each year into the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  It makes zero sense.

I have nothing but the utmost respect for Kim Williams.  The fact she has to continually put this bill out, year after year, is a true picture of what an awesome human being she is.  But we need ALL 62 of our legislators not only approving this, but shouting it from the rooftops, up and down the state.  Rome wasn’t built in a day, I get that.  But to ignore the needs of children who need help the most is an insult that shouldn’t continue.  Because all they are doing is creating more problems for these students down the road that wind up costing more money than if they just funded it to begin with.

The 150th Delaware General Assembly MUST approve this bill and lock it permanently into the state budget.  It is a moral imperative and the question of if they can afford it shouldn’t even be a part of the conversation.  And Governor Carney, for all my critiques and rants against him, needs to reach into his soul and not even question it.  And when I say Governor Carney, this includes his most trusted advisors who seem to want to dictate the money flow in Delaware.

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Are Carney & Bunting Intentionally Leaving DSEA Out Of The Loop?

I was wondering why Delaware Governor John Carney’s office resent the same media advisory today that they sent on Friday.  I figured there had to be some change to the big shindig tomorrow at Legislative Hall.  And there it was, staring at me like a full moon on a summer night, one addition to the number of attendees: Continue reading

Breaking News: Carney & Bunting To Announce Weighted Funding “Phase One”. Let The Education Hunger Games Begin Again.

Next Tuesday, January 15th, Delaware Governor John Carney and Delaware Secretary of Education Dr. Susan Bunting will hold a press conference at Legislative Hall to announce a weighted funding system for Delaware students.  Luckily, this blogger got the details of it this evening.  The devil, as they say, is in the details. Continue reading

It Is Time For DSEA To Regurgitate Themselves From The Bowels Of Rodel

I warned them.  Many times.  Sit at the table and you will be on the table.  The Delaware State Education Association was swallowed whole.  By who? Continue reading

Delaware ACLU Planning To Sue State Over Education Funding

In a shocking announcement, the Delaware American Civil Liberties Union wants to sue the State of Delaware over education funding.  But the announcement was not made by the ACLU but rather a Capital School District Board of Education member at their meeting last evening. Continue reading

Paul Baumbach’s Education Forum In Newark Taken Over By Students And Teachers

Delaware’s budget deficit hit a new stage last night when Christina School District students took over State Rep. Paul Baumbach’s Education Forum at Newark High School. As well, Senator David Sokola said the issue with the 5 mile radius bill was about transportation. It was an evening full of dodged questions and skirting around the issues.  It was a night when things were as confusing as Twin Peaks and the Mighty Thor put her hammer down! Continue reading

17 Who Will Make An Impact In 2017: State Rep Paul Baumbach

paulbaumbach

A month ago, I participated in a forum on Delaware education funding at the monthly Progressive Democrats for Delaware meeting.  State Representative Paul Baumbach from the 23rd Rep District also discussed the issue.  Baumbach is very supportive of implementing a weighted education funding formula in Delaware.  Last Winter, Baumbach and then Deputy Secretary of Education David Blowman presented a report on a weighted funding system to the Education Funding Improvement Commission.  That commission was unable to get a consensus on any particular funding apparatus and ended the 148th General Assembly with no final report.  The WEIC redistricting plan also called for implementation of a weighted funding system.

Education funding, with implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act, will take center stage in 2017.  As more and more citizens realize the system we have now is not working for all students, attempts at fixing the problems will appear.  The Wilmington Education Improvement Commission and their redistricting plan for Wilmington Christina School District students is still bubbling under the surface.  Last night, Christina’s board voted 4-3 to settle on a lawsuit filed against them and the Delaware Dept. of Education by 15 charter schools that receive students from Christina.  The charters claim Christina was filing exclusions that were “improper” to the Delaware DOE and the DOE signed off on them.  While the settlement has not been made public, it will assuredly have an impact on local funding formulas going forward.

Baumbach’s plan is to have more money go to students with higher needs, such as low-income or poverty, English Language Learners, and students with disabilities.  Currently, students with disabilities do receive additional funding based on a unit-count system (with the exception of basic special education for students in Kindergarten to 3rd grade).  This system determines how much staff each district or charter school receive based on their September 30th count of students.  With the funding system Baumbach is pushing for, the money would follow the student based on their needs.  Another question involving this funding system is if Talented and Gifted students would be considered high need as well.

This is not equality funding but equity funding.  Schools who have less sub-groups of students with higher needs would receive less money.  Final accountability regulations for ESSA will require each public school in America to show the amount of funding per student based on local, state, and federal funding.  The biggest problem with education funding in Delaware is property assessments.  No county in Delaware has increased their property assessments in decades resulting in severe imbalances to what the current assessed values would be.  As well, referenda held by school districts have had mixed results.  Adding to this mix is the potential of school vouchers coming to Delaware if President Donald Trump and his pick for U.S. Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, get their way.  Baumbach argued against a bill that would allow vouchers for special education students last Spring and stated it would be a violation of Delaware’s Constitution to send state funds to a religious private school.  Trump also announced he wants to incentivize new charter schools across America.  Capital costs for school buildings is also a major issue.  Delaware has many outdated schools that have serious structural issues with the recent Christina mold problem as a glaring example.

Baumbach will most likely bring forth legislation in 2017 to change how we fund our schools.  As well, there is increasing talk in Delaware about re-examining property assessments.  Some state officials have even suggested consolidating school districts to save money, possibly to a county school district system with New Castle County having two districts based on the population.

For my part, I can’t support ANY changes to our education funding system until we can get more assurances the money we are already spending is used with fidelity and honesty.  The recent audit investigation into Indian River showed very clearly that this district was not being honest.  We’ve had far too many Delaware charter school leaders and employees committing major fraud with funds that are not getting to students.  Our state auditor is supposed to audit each school district every year and publish the results.  This is not happening.  Charter school annual audits, usually, do not have the ability to catch financial fraud.  The State Auditor of Accounts Office, run by Tom Wagner, is massively understaffed.  Why in the world would we dump more  money into education when we can’t accurately keep track of the money already there?  This is the viewpoint of many conservatives in Delaware, but more on the left are also waking up to a reality that can no longer be ignored.

As the chief legislative advocate for a weighted funding system, Baumbach will have his hands full in the first six months of 2017.  If the Republicans manage to take control of the Delaware Senate after the special election for Bethany Hall-Long’s Senate seat, the voucher conversation will become very loud at Legislative Hall.  Tony Allen also warned that time is running out to fix education for Wilmington students and advocates may file a federal lawsuit against Delaware which could leave education funding and districting in the hands of a federal judge.  The icing on this education funding cake is the very flawed measurement of success for Delaware schools- the standardized test.  If we use them as a barometer of success or need, the system will continue to be a confusing mess with no end in sight.

No matter how you slice and dice money for education, no system will please everyone.  This has become painfully obvious.  We need to look at what is best for Delaware students and not those of corporations who seek to profit from education.  As corporate education reform is more embedded in our schools, more administrators are implementing the very bad policies from those reformers thus turning them into profiteers of education.  Yeah, Baumbach is going to have a big fight on his hands with any legislation involving this system!

To read the final report conducted by Hanover Research for the Delaware DOE on a weighted funding system, please read below:

Education Funding A Hot Topic At The PDD Monthly Meeting Tonight

The Progressive Democrats of Delaware will have a panel tonight on the subject of education funding.  I was asked to be one of the panelists for this to which I happily accepted.  But I’m up against some heavy hitters!  One of the most knowledgeable experts on school district funding, Brian Stephan, will join myself, Tony Allen, and State Rep. Paul Baumbach on this important discussion.  As well, the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission will receive the 2016 Bob Stachnik Progressive Courage Award for their advocacy efforts on improving education in Wilmington.  Tony Allen is the Chair of WEIC.  Brian Stephan serves on the Christina Citizens Budget Oversight Committee and is a contributor for Delaware Liberal.  State Rep. Paul Baumbach is running unopposed for the 23rd State Rep. Seat which will give him his third consecutive term for the district.

I highly recommend coming out for this.  The event begins at 7pm and runs until 8:30am.  This will take place at the New Castle Democrat HQ at 19 East Commons Blvd., 2nd floor, in New Castle.  I will gladly answer any question presented to the best of my ability but I do not consider myself an expert on this stuff.  I know many facets but it is a very broad topic with many moving parts.  But I do plan on talking about a few things I’m pretty sure none of the other panelists would mention as I have just discovered them myself.  I have to imagine the very controversial charter school lawsuit against Christina and the Delaware Dept. of Education will come up.  As well, funding for WEIC will surely be a topic as well.  Many of the panelists want to revamp funding to include a weighted funding formula so children with higher needs are given a greater weight of money.

32 Questions: Delaware Candidates For Governor On Education

I sent education surveys to all four of the candidates running for Delaware Governor.  Three responded.  I want to thank all the candidates for responding.  Many of the questions I asked deal with the issues I write about on this blog.  The survey was sent a few weeks ago, so recent events such as the district-charter funding issue and Blockchain aren’t in here.

These were tough questions in many areas and I challenged the candidates to do some research with some of them.  In some areas, all three were in agreement and in others not so much.  There were 32 questions overall, dealing with issues concerning teachers, special education, Common Core, Rodel, Markell, FOIA, the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission, the Every Student Succeeds Act, and more. Continue reading

WEIC Needs To Make Sure Current Education Funding Is Legit First & A Message For Candidates

As I plow head-first into Delaware education funding, I am finding inconsistencies galore!  Now that the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission has “officially” voted to suspend the timeline based on the Delaware General Assembly crafting legislation which essentially kicks the can for just another year, they have also been charged with taking another look at the fiscal impact.  The News Journal came out with an article on this today.  My advice to WEIC: make sure the education funding we already have is being used properly before you dive into weighted funding formulas for Delaware at-risk students.

Dan Rich, the policy advisor for WEIC from the University of Delaware, had this to say about weighted funding:

“That’s a key piece,” Rich said. “The top priority for funding is not for redistricting, per se, but for providing funding for the kids at greatest risk.”

It is a key piece of a puzzle that has thousands of pieces and no one has made sure the pieces fit together.  Some districts and charters are not spending money wisely, or even ethically.  We all know this, but in Delaware we have become a “hear nothing, do nothing” state.  With the simple art of just not listening and ignoring the people of the state, our leaders in Government look the other way.  They don’t want to deal with the corruption and fraud, and not just in education.

But according to Rich, he wants to bring outside organizations into this convoluted mess in our schools.  Saranac Hale Spencer from the News Journal wrote:

While the commission examines the fiscal impact of the plan in the coming months, it will also be working on other things, Rich said, explaining that it has begun mapping out the kinds of educational services offered by Wilmington institutions. A number of organizations offer resources to students and schools, but they aren’t necessarily in communication with each other.

It will also be looking to other communities to see how they have connected those assets to support schools and, in a similar project, it will be looking at the various state and local policies that affect poor families and children to see how they align and how they are funded.

Let me be crystal clear: I am all for better schools.  I think every student deserves a chance at success, even the most at-risk students.  But when the system is already broken, through federal, state and district mandates, and a funding system that has no checks and balances already, why the hell would we try something new and unproven (for Delaware)?  If we can’t control education funding now with proper oversight and audits of our districts and charters, why would we add to the existing mess?  We can’t guarantee funding is going to the right places now.  And some (many in power) want to add more funding to that?

This is the biggest problem in Delaware.  Everyone always has a solution to move forward, but they leave the old wreckage behind and try to cover it up.  It’s still there, rotting under the surface.  If the foundation is rotten, nothing anyone says or does will fix anything.  We all know this, but nothing changes.  Until we take the current system apart and find the cracks in the foundations and fix them, no new funding mechanism is going to change anything.  I know what it means if this happened.  It takes courage for this to happen.  It takes courage for enough of us to step up and demand this from our state.  Sending emails with everyone and their mother cc’ed on it doesn’t work.  We know this.  We need to take this to the next level.  Some of us are taking those next steps.  But if you are reading this, comment.  Come up with ideas.  Beyond the “request a meeting and talk about it behind closed doors when nothing ever gets accomplished”.  Beyond the next task force that will come up empty-handed.  We need to start asking the big questions, but more importantly, the right questions.  This is not a teacher issue.  This is not a student issue.  These are administration issues.  Financial issues.  That go way beyond a miscoding here and there.  We can pretend this isn’t really going on, but it is.  Our state knows about it.  The DOE knows a lot of this.  And our State Auditor most certainly knows about it.  It isn’t just a district or a charter thing.  It is all of it.  It is time to rip the Band-Aides off the rotting flesh and expose.  Who is in?

In the meantime, John Carney weighed in on the whole WEIC thing with what amounts to his usual hum-drum responses with absolutely no backbone behind anything.

His likely successor, U.S. Rep. John Carney, who is running on the Democratic ticket for governor, hasn’t committed to keeping that money in the budget.

He said in a prepared statement, “I am, however, committed to doing whatever is necessary to give every child the quality education they deserve, particularly those facing the kinds of obstacles WEIC is most concerned about.”

I’m sorry Mr. Carney, but at this point in the game, you should be coming up with ideas of your own and not relying on others to come up with them.  You are running for Governor!  Not the school student council.

So with that being said, I am offering an invitation to all the candidates running for Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and Congress.  I am inviting you all to an education forum on The Green, in front of Legislative Hall.  There will be no admission for the public.  Please commit a few hours for this.  I’ll do the legwork and get the people there.  We need to hear from all of you about what your plans are for education in our state.  My email address is kevino3670@yahoo.com.  Let’s all coordinate a date so ALL of you can make it, before the primary.  And let’s do this soon.  Let’s also do this before school starts.  Do your homework, formulate your positions.  And know that we are going to ask the tough questions without any easy answers.  You won’t know what they are beforehand.  Education is too important to have your staff come up with the answers for you.  If you want to lead, then know what you are leading.  If any of you email me and say “I can’t make it but I would love to sit down with you and discuss education with you”, then in my mind you aren’t willing to go that extra step for the people of this state.

So if the following candidates could email me with five possible dates, in the early evening, between now and August 19th.  Yes, time is short.  It is less than two months before the primaries.  And less than four months until the General Election.  But I want to hear from ALL of you.  The people do as well.  And Mr. Carney, please do not ignore this.  As the front-runner for Governor, you are who I want to hear from the most.  We need to know you won’t be a rubber stamp for Jack Markell’s very damaging policies.  We also don’t want you thinking this is going to be an easy ride for you.  And Jack Markell, I would respectfully ask you to please stay out of this.  You had your time.  It’s ending.  It is time for new and better ideas.

John Carney

Colin Bonini

Lacey Lafferty

Sean Goward

Lisa Blunt Rochester

Mike Miller

Bryan Townsend

Elias Weir

Hans Reigle

Scott Gesty

Sherry Dorsey-Walker

Brad Eaby

Greg Fuller

Bethany Hall-Long

Kathleen McGuiness

Ciro Poppiti

La Mar Gunn

I can tell you right now, weekends and Mondays are out.  This could be your chance to truly leave a mark on this election.  Your audience will want to hear what you are going to do, not what you have done.  Yes, your many accomplishments are important.  But we need a change for the future.  This is your chance to shine.  Not in front of a group of wealthy people who can afford an expensive plate.  This is you getting real, with real people.  This debate is not sponsored by anyone.  It is a grassroots gathering, outside.  No microphones.  Just people talking.  I encourage as many Delaware residents who can make it to attend.

I won’t assume all of you read this article, so I will be emailing you and contacting all of you tomorrow.

 

Don’t Believe Any Recommendations Coming Out Of The Education Funding Committee Report

I touched on this last week, but it is essential that the citizens of Delaware not believe the final recommendations of the Senate Joint Resolution #4 Education Funding Improvement Committee.  Their report is due to the General Assembly by Thursday, June 30th.  In a public meeting, one of the members of EFIC (as it is commonly known as in the halls of power in Delaware) stated the committee could not agree on any of the recommendations brought forth at their final committee.  No formal vote was taken on any specific actions.

I learned this by attending the meeting of the Governor’s Advisory Council for Exceptional Citizens (GACEC) last week.  GACEC Chair Robert Overmiller was a member of EFIC.  Along with all the other DOE special education shenanigans at that meeting, there was also this tidbit culled from my recording of the meeting:

The Senate Joint Resolution 4.  We had our meeting yesterday and the reality is they have approved zero motions and zero recommendations for the unit count.  Because they spent the whole year trying to convince the committee to throw out unit counts and put in what the DOE and Governor Markell want.  And they were totally unsuccessful in convincing the committee to do so.  So I don’t know what the report is going to look like when it comes out.  At the end of the month it will be turned in to the legislators but they definitely approved zero recommendations and zero anything.  Nothing was ever voted on for approval or exception.  So that committee produced nothing this year.

That sounds like a very clear statement to me!  I expect the Delaware DOE to post the final report any day now.  Like the Assessment Inventory Committee final report issued yesterday, I do not expect this report to be a complete record of what really went down at these meetings.  I still don’t understand why former State Rep. Darryl Scott is allowed to run committees like this and have a seat on the Southern Regional Education Board when he is not now an elected official, but this is Delaware.  If we see a weighted funding formula recommendation for education coming out of this report, it is a lie.  This is what happens when a committee is stacked with Markell sympathizers coming out of Rodel and the charter sector.

 

 

Jea Street Threatens To Sue Delaware If WEIC Bills Don’t Pass

“When it comes to justice for children of color in the city, it has never been the General Assembly, it has always been the courts or the federal government that acts,” Street said.  “I don’t think this is going to be any different.”

Civil rights advocate Jea Street told the News Journal he will sue the state of Delaware if the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission’s redistricting plan doesn’t pass.  The Delaware General Assembly has a limited amount of time to act on the plan.  There are six more voting days in the House of Representatives and nine in the Senate.  One of the bills was released from the House Education Committee but two others haven’t been heard yet.  If the bills pass the House, they must go to the Senate Education Committee.  Time is running out but so is the patience of advocates like Street.

Most other states have created systems that give extra funds to high-poverty schools, but Delaware’s system, he says, assumes a school in a violence- and poverty-wracked neighborhood can operate with the same resources as a school in a quiet, wealthy suburb.  “You talk to any expert, they’ll tell you that’s not how it works,” Street said.

Street was front and center during the press conference announcing the American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit against the state and Red Clay Consolidated.  I haven’t heard Street talk about that lawsuit since it was announced.  That lawsuit alleged Delaware and Red Clay allowed charter schools to use discriminatory practices for enrollment purposes citing schools such as Charter School of Wilmington, Newark Charter School and Sussex Academy.  I don’t see him beating on that drum anymore.  That lawsuit has been lingering for over a year and a half while the Office of Civil Rights stalls on the investigation.  I have to wonder why the News Journal doesn’t talk about that when they are writing an article about discrimination in Wilmington.

On the other hand, I agree with Street.  Delaware passes the baton to the courts or the feds when things don’t change in the General Assembly.  But when the article talks about the schools in Wilmington being operated by districts in the suburbs, the Wilmington schools will still be handled by a district from the suburbs.  The inequities he is talking about will still be there, but they will be more concentrated in one district.  From what I’m hearing, the Education Funding Improvement Commission report is delayed and may not be out by June 30th.  Having gone to one of the meetings, no one could seem to agree on any one viable strategy.  I’ve found Delaware likes to talk about education… a lot!  But when it comes time to make the crucial decisions, everyone sits like a deer in the headlights.  In the meantime, children suffer.  We spend tons of money on research and reports but we don’t do anything with it.  We had that huge Statewide Review of Educational Opportunities.  The DOE paid Public Consulting Group somewhere around $50,000 to do that report.  And what do we  have to show for it?  Absolutely nothing.  It is money that could have been used on something viable, like an extra teacher in one of these schools.  Instead we piss away money on absolute nonsense!

My Observations From The Education Funding Task Force Meeting Tonight

I attended the first half of the Delaware Education Funding Task Force meeting tonight.  After Delaware Governor Jack Markell gave some brief opening comments thanking the members of the committee for their hard work, he advised them this isn’t an easy task force.  As he was leaving, he made a point to greet and shake hands with everyone in the room.  And I mean everyone!

Members trickled in so the meeting didn’t start until about 5:20.  There are some very vocal members on this committee with very strong ideologies.  The bad part is when many of them are different.  I have no clue how this group is going to come to a consensus in the next couple months.  I saw members on this task force who belong to the General Assembly (who listened for the most part), DOE, State Board, the traditional districts, the charter crowd, Rodel, school boards, the business community, Delaware PTA, GACEC, and advocates for ELL students.

Donna Johnson from the State Board of Education did make it a point to talk about the group’s discussions about basic special education funding for students in Kindergarten to 3rd grade.  I do recall seeing a potential funding model where funds were reallocated in the needs-based funding formula for the state.  But this shouldn’t even be a topic of conversation for an education funding task force.  Put House Bill 30 up for a full vote and get it done.  It’s what, $11.5 million to fund that bill?  Make it happen.  Maybe the DOE can get rid of a ton of their vendor contracts and their non-vendor paychecks for all these people who show up on Delaware Online Checkbook with no transparency surrounding these payments whatsoever.  After all, the DOE were the ones that torpedoed this funding when the topic first came up six years ago.

It was interesting hearing some members talk about the lack of authority for a school principal to make funding decisions.  This was more from the charter side of the equation.  But members on the other side disagreed, saying they have the authority based on the pool of money they get from the district.  One member said even if they do find the right number or formula for funding, how do you audit that?  Does that money allocated as extra support for low-income and ELL students mean reduced classroom sizes or more teachers?  Some members felt that because 41 states have successful funding formulas that will translate as success for Delaware.  But how is that success measured?  By standardized tests?  Graduation rates?  Will they have pilot schools or districts to try it out?  What does low-income and poverty mean in terms of percentage of students?  Since the state changed how they measure poverty, but the DOE goes by one thing and DHHS goes by another, which is right?  If the group doesn’t necessarily agree with the WEIC funding formulas, what does that mean for the General Assembly when they vote on the redistricting in Wilmington?  If the majority of the group believes changing property assessments is the way to go what does that mean for the property owners who have no voice on this committee?  We should do what California does and vote on propositions like this.  Then we will see where the real voting power exists!

There were people at this meeting who I have never seen face to face but I have written about them a bit.  One as recently as last Thursday.  I had to pick up some groceries and my son REALLY wanted Dairy Queen so I snuck out while the group was on their pizza break.  I wished I could have stayed, but family first!  I am very curious what comes out of the final report.

Education Funding Improvement Commission Meeting On Tuesday

The Education Funding Improvement Commission, which came out of Delaware’s Senate Joint Resolution #4, will have their next meeting on Tuesday, April 19th at 5pm in the Tatnall Building in Dover.  Originally, the report for this was due to the General Assembly on March 31st, but Senator David Sokola had it extended until June 30th with Senate Concurrent Resolution #56.

I would still like to know why there is NO mention of basic special education funding for students in Kindergarten to 3rd grade.  Are they purposely ignoring this?  Governor Markell didn’t put it in the state budget proposal back in January either.  I’m sorry, I can’t buy any kind of new funding for schools when this glaring omission exists.  And people wonder why I feel insulted by the General Assembly at times…  We have a perfectly good bill with House Bill 30 and its ignored for well over a year now.  What is the disconnect here?  Why is no one aside from State Rep. Kim Williams and a few others pushing for this?  This is Governor Markell’s number one failure with education.  But sadder is the hundreds of children who suffered because of it.  No apology, nothing.  I will never believe it is all about the students as long as this gaping hole in school funding exists.  All the supports in the world don’t matter at all if children suffer.  They can pull out all these models and put on a big show, but show those models to the students with disabilities in Kindergarten to 3rd Grade who just aren’t good enough for all these great education initiatives.

I can’t change what happened to my son.  But I can try for the hundreds of others who are out there.  The ones with the denied IEPs.  The ones who aren’t given accommodations on their existing IEPs.  I’m mad.  I’m raw.  I’m tired of fighting.  I can show the entire state what is going on, but it isn’t enough to make a difference to those in power.  We can talk about pre-school being the next big thing until the cows come home, but if we are missing the boat on the true foundation for learning right when it starts, in Kindergarten going to 3rd grade, then we are failing all those children with disabilities.  All of us.  Most experts agree that if these kids don’t get this foundation then, it becomes very difficult for them to acclimate in later years.  So yeah, if I get angry and lash out, imagine how those kids feel.

SJR4EdFundTaskForceAgenda41916

Education Funding Improvement Commission Meeting #4 At 9:30am This Morning At DOE In Dover

The Senate Joint Resolution #4 Education Funding Improvement Commission is having their fourth meeting this morning at the Delaware Department of Education building in Dover.  The meeting will be held in the Cabinet room, where the State Board of Education holds their meetings.  There is one item on the agenda that looks very interesting.  State Rep. Paul Baumbach and the DOE’s David Blowman will be giving a presentation on weighted funding.  I’m not sure how I feel about this.  I was engaged in a Facebook conversation about this last night where others were comparing it to salary caps on baseball or football teams.

EFICMeeting#4Agenda

What is very curious though is the fact that Lindsay O’Mara, Governor Markell’s Education Policy Advisor created the pdf of the agenda that shows up on the Delaware Public Meeting Calendar.  Who is running this show?  With this timeline with the committee ending in May, that gives a legislator enough time to draft up a quick bill to implement the findings and get it through the General Assembly by the end of June.  Can you say “pre-determined”?

It’s funny how the State Board is giving the Wilmington Education Funding Improvement Commission a hard time.  They claimed WEIC’s proposals could clash with this task force.  I asked about this sort of thing happening at the very first WEIC meeting in September.  Dan Rich said all of this, including the Vision Coalition’s Student Success 2025 and the Statewide Review of Educational Opportunities were all sort of planned to work in conjunction with each other.  Meanwhile, WEIC is having their second “post State Board of Education vote of no action” meeting tomorrow night at 5:30pm at the Community Education Building in Wilmington at 5:30pm.  Is this when the the transparency promised by WEIC takes a back seat while the commission makes severe changes to the plan to satisfy the State Board of Education?  Or was this also pre-determined?  Or am I a conspiracy theorist like a certain Charter School Board President/Head of the Delaware GOP recently told me?

WEIC Updates Their Draft Two Weeks After Public Comment Period Began, Major Additions Good & Bad

The Wilmington Education Improvement Commission released their draft of the plan for redistricting students in the Wilmington portion of the Christina School District to the Red Clay Consolidated School District on 11/17.  Today, the draft is updated with a lot of new information, including the actual resolution the State Board of Education will vote on at their January board meeting.  The updated draft gives no indication of the authorship of that resolution.  As well, there is a whole section regarding school choice and how many disadvantaged students are unable to fully utilize the choice process at certain charter schools and magnet schools.  There are many funding recommendations that have been added as well.  What is deceptive about this updated draft is the highlighting of new material added.  Most folks will first look at the table of contents to determine any new changes.  Certain sections have been added and are highlighted in yellow.  What is bizarre is the existing chapters that have many new parts added into them are not highlighted in the table of contents, including the WEIC Resolution (which can be found on page 23 of the below Scribd document).  I would think the Resolution would have been in the initial draft but it was not.

I applaud the section on school choice and barriers to at-risk students, but there is so much added to this draft that completely changed my perception of this initiative.  I believe any public comment period should not have changes to a draft at all.  Many people may think the 11/17 draft was the final one and may not be aware of the changes.  This is a classic example of a lack of transparency on this plan which has been my concern all along.  I strongly encourage anyone who has already read the draft to do so again.  Yes, it is 191 pages, but there are many changes to this that folks need to be aware of.  Especially since 3 out of the 5 public hearings have already happened!!!!

 

The Tentacles Of Corporate Education Reform And How They Pull Parents Down The Rabbit Hole

Embedded in the latest Elementary/Secondary Education Act reauthorization are initiatives and agendas that will transform education as we know it. This is not a good thing. Nothing in Delaware currently going on (WEIC, Student Success 2025, Statewide Review of Educational Opportunities) is original. This is happening across the country. The result: students plugged in to computers all the time who will only advance once they have gained proficiency in the Common Core-infused personalized learning technology. The benefits will not be for the students.  They come in the form of financial benefits which will belong to the corporate education reformers, hedge fund managers, and investors. Tech-stock will go through the roof if the current ESEA reauthorization passes, and companies like Schoology, Great Schools and 2Revolutions Inc. will become billionaires over-night. Meanwhile, our children will indeed become slaves to the system. The future is here!

The ESEA reauthorization has morphed into the classic quote from Obi-Wan Kenobi in the original Star Wars movie: “These aren’t the droids you’re looking for.”  If you actually think this latest round of ESEA legislation that will come to a vote next Wednesday will reduce testing, you have been sucked down the rabbit hole!

Who is Schoology?  I’ve heard their name countless times in the past year.  I figured it was long past time I dove into this company that is essentially invading every single school district and charter in the First State.  Especially given the information regarding the upcoming ESEA reauthorization vote coming on 12/2.

Schoology offers a cloud service for personalized and blended learning.  For those who aren’t aware, personalized learning is defined by a Great Schools sponsored company as the following:

Personalized learning is generally seen as an alternative to so-called “one-size-fits-all” approaches to schooling in which teachers may, for example, provide all students in a given course with the same type of instruction, the same assignments, and the same assessments with little variation or modification from student to student.

But this is what it really is: a cash-cow bonanza for corporate education reform companies, especially those on the tech side who are pushing their internet-based modules out faster than you realize.  Schoology opened shop in Delaware with the BRINC partnership between the Brandywine, Indian River, New Castle County Vo-Tech and Colonial school districts.  These four districts used Schoology as the base for their personalized learning partnership, and the Caesar Rodney and Appoquinimink districts have joined as well.  The News Journal wrote a huge article on Schoology last March, and reporter Matthew Albright wrote:

Schools must figure out how to create the right infrastructure, providing enough bandwidth and wireless network capacity. They have to settle on the right computers or tablets and find ways to pay for them, configure them, and teach students how to use them.

And, while many teachers have taken their own initiative to find new educational tools, schools and districts have to find ways to train teachers in using these systems and make sure all educators are on the same page.

In Delaware, a group of districts has banded together to work out the best way to deal with those challenges.

The consortium is called BRINC, after the four school districts that originally participated: Brandywine, Indian River, New Castle County Vo-Tech and Colonial. The group added two more districts, Appoquinimink and Caesar Rodney, this year.

Over a year ago, I was distracted away from this by a company called 2Revolutions Inc.  After their appearance at the annual Vision Coalition conference, I looked into 2Revolutions and did not like what I was seeing.  My eye was on 2Revolutions coming into Delaware as a vendor, and I completely missed Schoology who was already here.  Meanwhile, 2Revolutions invaded the New Hampshire education landscape.  Schoology is not much different.  But they don’t just provide a cloud service in Delaware.  According to the minutes from the Senate Concurrent Resolution #22 Educational Technology Task Force in Delaware, Schoology has also integrated with e-School and IEP Plus.  In a press release from Schoology on 5/20/14, the company announced they were integrating with SunGard K-12 Education (the creators of e-school and IEP Plus):

SunGard K-12 Education’s eSchoolPLUS, an industry-recognized student information system, helps educational stakeholders—students, school administrators, district staff, teachers, parents, and board members—easily manage and immediately access the summary and detailed student information they need, when they need it.

While this seems like a good thing, it is a tremendous amount of data which is now in Schoology’s hands.  Schoology is also branching out like crazy all over the country.  They just announced a contract with L.A. Unified School District, as well as Seattle Public School District and Boulder Valley School District.  In terms of financing, they just secured their fourth round of financing with JMI Investments to the tune of $32 million dollars.  This brings their total financing amount to $57 million over the past couple years from investment firms.  The trick to all of this is in the surface benefits: the cloud-based service where teachers can share instruction is free.  But where it goes from there is unchartered territory, according to Tech-Crunch:

On the other side, there is an enterprise-grade product meant for school districts and universities, that gives richer functionality to administrators to hook into back-end student information systems, build out campuses and building maps, and far more. Schoology said that the price (which is per student, per year) is scaled down for larger clients, but he wouldn’t share the general price range for Schoology Enterprise.

Schoology also provides “assistive technology” services for professional development, according to more minutes from the SCR #22 Task Force:

The creation of comprehensive online professional development using the Schoology platform for both Delaware and Assistive Technology Guidelines documents.

The task force is also going to recommend the following:

Provide district/charters the opportunity to buy-into using Schoology with K-12 students at minimal cost. Increase funding to support growth of the use of Schoology that will drive the per student cost down.
Support the use of Resources within Schoology for sharing teacher-created content and OER.

The SCR #22 Educational Technology Task Force was brought forth by Delaware Senator Bryan Townsend, and sponsored by Senator David Sokola, State Rep. Earl Jaques, State Rep. Trey Paradee, and co-sponsored by Senator Colin Bonini. While this task force is going on, there is another task force called the Student Data Privacy Task Force, which came from an amendment to Senate Bill 79, sponsored by Senator Sokola.  Sokola and Jaques also sponsored the current Senate Joint Resolution #2 Assessment Inventory Task Force. I firmly believe every single one of these task forces, aside from having very similar legislators behind the scenes, will also serve to bring about the complete immersion of Delaware into personalized learning. I wrote last month about the clear and present danger behind the data collection occurring with Delaware students.  But it doesn’t just stop at personalized learning because at a state and national level there is a big push for “competency-based education”, which I wrote about a few weeks ago.

Competency-Based Education, also called Proficiency Based Learning, is a process where students do not advance until they have mastered the material. Instead of a once a year standardized assessment, students will be tested at the end of a unit, on a computer. Think Smarter Balanced Assessment broken up into numerous chunks throughout the year. This “stealth” testing will effectively “reduce the amount of testing” but would also give the exact same tests but at a micro-level. This is also an opt-out killer as parents would have no way of knowing how often their child is being tested, nor would they likely have access to the actual questions on the mini-assessments.  Meanwhile, as President Obama and soon-to-be-former US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan mirror Delaware’s Senate Joint Resolution #2, parents and educators are saying “Yes, yes, yes!” but bloggers like myself are saying “No, no, no!”

Save Maine Schools, a blog written by a teacher from Maine named Emily Talmage, has delved into this digital nightmare in great length.  Talmage bought the product these companies were selling until she wisely began to question the motives behind it all.  Maine, along with New Hampshire, Alaska, and Delaware, is one of the state guinea pigs where the experiment of Personalized Learning and Competency-Based Education is at the forefront.  All four of these states have smaller populations and are led by reform-style education leaders.  Talmage recently wrote about what has been going on while we were testing:

The fact is, the state-led testing consortia , which promised to use our tax money to bring us high quality tests that would get our kids “college and career ready”, were actually business consortia, strategically formed to collaborate on “interoperability frameworks” – or, to use simpler terms, ways of passing data and testing content from one locale to the next (from Pearson to Questar, for example, or from your local town to the feds).

Just as the Common Core State Standards were intended to unleash a common market, so, too, was the effort to create a common digital “architecture” that would allow companies like Questar and Pearson and Measured Progress and all the rest to operate in a “plug in play” fashion. (Think of Xbox, Nintendo, PlayStation, and all the rest teaming up to make a super-video-game console.)

The upcoming ESEA reauthorization, called the “Every Student Succeeds Act”, is filled with easter eggs and cash prizes for companies like Schoology, as seen in the below document from EdWeek.

That is a ton of federal money going out to schools from legislation designed on the surface to halt federal interference in education.  It sounds like Race To The Top all over again, but on a much bigger scale.  The tentacles from the feds reach deep into the states with this latest ESEA reauthorization, and behind the US DOE are all the companies that will feast on tax-payer funds.

The bill also allows for further charter school expansion and the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools recently said:

The National Alliance congratulates the conference committee for taking another step forward in the bipartisan effort to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. While we have not yet seen the full text of the conference agreement, we are pleased to learn the proposal would modernize the Charter Schools Program, supporting the growth and expansion of high-quality charter schools to better meet parental demand.

When the opt-out movement grew in huge numbers earlier this year, many civil rights groups protested opt-out as a means of putting minority children further behind their peers.  What they don’t realize is the current ESEA reauthorization will ensure this happens!  Even the two largest teacher union organizations are jumping on this version of ESEA.  The American Federation of Teachers wrote a letter urging ESEA to pass as soon as possible.  National Education Association President Lily Eskelsen Garcia wrote:

We look forward to working with the congressional conference committee members to ensure that we produce a bill that, when signed by the president, gives every student the opportunity, support, tools, and time to learn.

How much do these civil rights groups and leaders of teacher unions really know about what is inside this bill?  Do they understand the danger of rushing this ESEA version to a vote and what it will mean for the future of education and children?  Don’t the teacher unions realize this will be the death knell for the future of teachers in America?  Once personalized learning is embraced by all public schools in America, teachers will become moderators or facilitators of the personalized learning modules.  The demand for “old-school” teachers will greatly diminish, and teacher qualifications will simply become how to review and program these digital instructional items.  The vast amount of money and resources will pour into technology and only the school leaders will be the ones with high salaries.  The current teacher salary models in each state will become a thing of the past.  With the charter school protections written in this bill, more and more charters will open up that will drain away local dollars.  With each state able to come up with their own accountability systems, the schools with the highest-needs students will slowly give way to charters.  Rinse, wash, repeat.  If I were a public school teacher that is in a union, I would seriously question why the national leaders are endorsing this.

Even American Institutes for Research (AIR), the testing vendor for the Smarter Balanced Assessment in Delaware and holds numerous other contracts with other states and the US Department of Education is in on this new “digital age”:

As part of the Future Ready initiative, President Obama hosted more than 100 school superintendents at the White House during a November 19, 2014 “ConnectED to the Future” summit.  Superintendents signed the Future Ready District Pledge indicating their commitment to work with educators, families and communities to develop broadband infrastructures; make high-quality digital materials and devices more accessible; and support professional development programs for educators, schools and districts as they transition to digital learning.

But it doesn’t stop there, because AIR wants districts to invest heavily in all this technology:

Effectively using technology is an essential skill in today’s workforce but also critical to advancing teaching and learning. Today’s students aren’t just digital natives: they increasingly use digital devices to complete school assignments, stay informed, and network with peers around the world. A tipping point for technology and schooling may be in store soon:  instead of merely enhancing teaching and learning, technology may transform both by better accommodating individual learning styles and facilitating collaboration. Whether through the deeper learning, personalized learning, or blended learning approaches districts are exploring and investing heavily in now, technology could finally help your state unlock instruction—educational policy’s “black box”—and ultimately close achievement gaps.

It all comes back to closing those damn achievement gaps, based on the very same state standards and standardized testing that are creating those very same achievement gaps.  This is something AIR excels at, creating the “need” and then selling the “fix”.  Some have theorized, but been unable to prove due to an inability to get into AIR’s contracts and financial records, that companies like WestEd, Questar, Data Recognition Corp. (the “human scorer” company for the Smarter Balanced Assessment in Delaware), and Measurement Inc. are merely shell companies for AIR.  AIR seems to be controlling so much of what is in education.  So much so, it is hard to tell the difference between AIR and the Council of Chief State School Officers.  Which brings us back to Delaware Governor Jack Markell.

This is a man who has been involved in corporate education reform for well over ten years, possibly longer.  He worked at McKinsey and Associates in the 90’s as a consultant, and after coining Nextel, he became the State Treasurer for Delaware, a role he served from 2001-2009.  Since then, he has served as the Governor of Delaware and been behind every single education reform movement that has swept the country.  When Markell served as the President of the National Governor’s Association in 2013, he attended some very big events.  Including the Milken Institute Global Conference.  While in attendance, he served on several panels that were not open to the public and were considered private “by invitation only”.  Why would an elected official, sworn to uphold the best interests of his state, serve on private panels for huge investment firms?  The panels Markell served on at the Milken conference were “Global Capital Markets Advisory Council” (along with Tony Blair, Michael Milken, Eric Cantor and Rupert Murdoch) and “K-12 Education Private Lunch”.  Those were the only two panels Markell talked on, both private, and both closed to the public.

Jack Markell, the great violator of parental rights, who vetoed opt-out legislation in Delaware that overwhelmingly passed the Delaware House and Senate, is one of the key political figures and puppet masters behind all of this.  With close ties to Achieve, McKinsey, the Council of Chief State School Officers, the Rodel Foundation of Delaware, New America, and the Center for American Progress, Markell is a very dangerous man in education.  Markell’s ambitions are not for the good of the citizens of Delaware.  His constituents are the very same companies behind the latest ESEA reauthorization, personalized learning, competency-based education, and the public shaming of educators everywhere unless they happen to belong to a charter school.  He was even involved in the creation of Common Core:

He has also served for three years as Chair of the National Board of Directors of Jobs for America’s Graduates, co-chair of the Common Core Standards Initiative and chair of the Metropolitan Wilmington Urban League.

The last of those groups is a civil rights organization in Delaware’s largest city, Wilmington.  When Markell first announced his “original” idea of assessment inventory, he was joined in the press conference by the head of that organization at the time.

In Delaware, we are led by a tyrant who leads the charge in education reform and allows the money-sucking vampires like Schoology to come in and pocket funds that allow bloated classrooms.  Companies like Schoology will make damn sure students with disabilities, children from poverty, and at-risk youth are always behind their peers.  This is what their services thrive on, the constant demand to fix education.  As our US Congress votes on the ESEA reauthorization, keep this in mind: it is not meant for every student to succeed.  It is all about the money.  Follow it, and you too will see the path to success.

What can parents and teachers do?  Aside from following the money, which is a mammoth task and all too frequently a lesson in humility, look at your local, state and national leaders.

Look at legislation and regulations.

What initiatives and plans are your district boards, charter boards, and state boards of education voting on?

For charter school parents, do you ever question why the boards of charters are appointed rather than elected?

Do you ever look at “task forces”, “working groups” and “committees” in your state and wonder who is on them and why there were appointed?

Does  your state sell the term “stakeholders” in determining policies but many of the same people serve on these groups?

Which of your state legislators are introducing legislation that seems harmless on the surface but has caveats and loopholes deeply embedded into it?

Which legislators are up for re-election and could be easily swayed for promises of future power?

Which legislators are running for higher office?

What policies and laws are your state Congress representatives voting on?

What is your Governor up to?  Do you see news blips about them speaking at private organizations but it is not on their public schedule?

Do you see action by legislators that seems to defy the beliefs of their individual political party?

Do you see education leaders and legislators comingling with lobbyists in your state Capital?

For teachers, where does your local union and state union stand on these issues?  Your national?

Parents: if your school has a PTA or PTO, what are their collective stances on these critical issues?

Do you know if your State Board of Education is elected or appointed?

Find out who your state lobbyists are.  Read.  Search.  Discover.  Question everything.  Email your state legislators and Congress representatives when you don’t agree with something you believe will have no direct benefit for your individual child.  Vote for those who you think will stand against this bi-partisan regime of education vampires.  Question those who sit on the sidelines and do nothing.  Push them.  Make your voice heard.  .  Look into initiatives going on in your state, or research groups looking into school funding or redistricting.  Part of the ESEA reauthorization has states looking at “weighted funding”, whereby funds would pour into more high-needs schools.  As well, the reauthorization would allow more Title I dollars to go into the “bottom” schools than they currently do.  When I say “bottom”, these are schools usually with the most high-needs students who do not do well on the standardized tests.  In many states, these schools become charter schools.  Once again, rinse, wash, repeat.

One thing to keep in mind is the corporate education reform movement is everywhere.  Like a secret society, they have embedded themselves and they are hiding in plain sight.  In every single one of the groups mentioned above.  Some of the people I am asking people to look into may not even realize they are a part of these agendas.  Some may just think they are doing the right thing.  For folks like myself, Diane Ravitch, Mercedes Schneider, Emily Talmage and countless others, our job is to expose and name them.  We discover the lies and call them out.  We are the last line of defense before your child’s worthwhile education is completely gone, lost in the shadows and truckloads of money behind those who would dare to steal your child’s benefit for their own future.  Unless you are part of the wealthy and elite, your child’s fate is being decided on next week during the vote for the ESEA reauthorization.  Most of you don’t even realize this.  Many that do have been duped and fooled into believing this is the right thing.  Many of us have been fighting the evil standardized test and opting out, and the whole time they have been plotting and scheming in closed-door meetings with companies to bring about the last phase of corporate education reform: the complete and utter brainwashing of your child wired into a never-ending state of constant assessment and proficiency based on the curriculum that they wrote.  They fooled the bloggers as well.  But we are the resistance, and we will not stop the defense of our children.  We will protect our schools and our communities from the corporate raiders.  We will keep opting out and fighting for the rights of others to do so as well.  We will not be bought or sold into the devious and intrinsic methodologies they seek to perpetuate on our society.  We will fight, not because we gain personal reward or acclaim, but because it is the right thing to do.

How Does The Rest Of Delaware Feel About Higher Property Assessments To Fund Our Schools?

The Wilmington Education Improvement Commission is proposing a plan for funding of the redistricting effort currently in the planning stages.  WEIC wants the state to look at increasing property assessments to raise more funding for our schools.  How do you feel about this?  With Wilmington schools as a test for a weighted formula funding, which would start there first, will Kent and Sussex counties support this without more funding going to their own schools?  WEIC does not have any true stakeholder input from Kent or Sussex right now.  I urge every Delaware citizen to read the below document and let WEIC know how you feel about this, as well as your state legislators.  Because if the State Board of Education passes this plan, it will go to the 148th General Assembly for a vote.

Smarter Balanced Results If Delaware DOE Understood Poverty Matters & Special Education Was Understood

As Delaware journalists, schools and parents dove into the Smarter Balanced data this week, Delaware Liberal and Those In Favor released two graphs. Both of them showed how low-income and Smarter Balanced results worked against each other fairly consistently in the Red Clay Consolidated and Christina School District.  Did the same hold true for charter schools?  The below information tells the tale.  As well, I went a step further and played with some different weights into what really matters in education data.

Statistically, schools with small amounts of low-income students had higher scores on the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  Those with high percentages of low-income students fared worse on the assessment.  Now if our Delaware Department of Education truly cared about factors affecting high-stakes testing, the results would be completely different.  The below chart shows all Delaware charters and their average Smarter Balanced results.  By simply adding ELA & Math and dividing by two, we see each charters average.  And this does include Positive Outcomes and Gateway for reasons which will become clear very soon.

As a guide, the following abbreviations are as follows:

LI: Low-Income

PF: Proficiency Factor (average proficiency for each school multiplied by low-income percentage)

SE: Percentage of special education students (having an IEP) at each school

PFSE: The proficiency factor multiplied by the special education percentage for each school


DELAWARE CHARTER SCHOOLS LOW-INCOME & SBAC PROFICIENCY RATES

Charter School of Wilmington- LI: 2.3% ELA: 97.5% Math: 96.3% Average: 96.9%

Newark Charter School- LI: 7.2% ELA: 93.1% Math: 84.1%, Average: 88.6%

Sussex Academy- LI: 7.8% ELA: 95.6% Math: 73.9%, Average: 84.75%

Odyssey Charter School- LI: 17.9% ELA: 77.7% Math: 69.5%, Average: 73.60%

MOT Charter School- LI: 5.9% ELA: 75.4% Math: 71.1%, Average: 73.25%

Providence Creek Academy- LI: 18.3% ELA: 66.0% Math: 43.3%, Average: 54.65%

Kuumba Academy- LI: 58.0% ELA: 44.6% Math: 39.9%, Average: 51.3%

Campus Community- LI: 38.3% ELA: 61.9% Math: 36.9%, Average: 49.4%

First State Montessori- LI: 10.0% ELA: 57.4% Math: 41.1%, Average: 49.25%

Las Americas Aspiras- LI: 25.0% ELA: 51.0% Math: 40.7%, Average: 45.85%

Delaware Military Academy- LI: 6.9% ELA: 54.0% Math: 27.6%, Average: 40.8%

Family Foundations- LI: 44.4% ELA: 36.5% Math: 28.9%, Average: 32.7%

Academy of Dover- LI: 64.8% ELA 35.7% Math 25.9%, Average: 30.8%

Thomas Edison Charter School- LI: 76.2% ELA: 33.7% Math: 20.9%, Average: 27.3%

Reach Academy- LI: 55.2% ELA: 31.2% Math: 17.0%, Average: 24.1%

East Side Charter School- LI: 77.3% ELA: 19.9% Math: 23.4%, Average: 21.65%

Prestige Academy- LI: 58.1% ELA: 17.6% Math: 13.4%, Average: 15.5%

Delaware Academy of Public Safety & Security- LI: 27.0% ELA: 20.6% Math: 7.4%, Average: 14%

Gateway Lab School- LI: 20.8% ELA: 15.4% Math: 4.8%, Average: 10.1%

Positive Outcomes- LI: 31.7% ELA: 15.7% Math: 2.0%, Average: 8.85%

Delaware College Prep- LI: 77.8% ELA: 5.8% Math: 7.5%, Average: 6.65%

Moyer- LI: 73.1% ELA: 8.3% Math: 1.4%, Average: 4.85%

Of course, the highly-praised Charter School of Wilmington is on top and the recently closed Moyer is on the bottom.  The two special education charters are near the bottom of the list as well.  These are solid numbers based on DOE website data on low-income populations and Smarter Balanced results.


DELAWARE CHARTER SCHOOL SBAC RESULTS WITH LOW-INCOME WEIGHT ADDED IN

Kuumba Academy 58.0% ELA 44.6% Math 39.9%, PF: 24.5%

Thomas Edison Charter School 76.2% ELA 33.7% Math 20.9%, PF: 20.8%

Academy of Dover 64.8% ELA 35.7% Math 25.9%, PF: 20.0%

Campus Community 38.3% ELA 61.9% Math 36.9%, PF: 18.9%

East Side Charter School 77.3% ELA 19.9% Math 23.4%, PF: 16.7%

Family Foundations 44.4% ELA 36.5% Math 28.9%, PF: 14.5%

Reach Academy 55.2% ELA 31.2% Math 17.0%, PF: 13.3%

Odyssey Charter School 17.9% ELA 77.7% Math 69.5%, PF: 13.2%

Providence Creek Academy 18.3% ELA 66.0% Math 43.3%, PF: 10.0%

Sussex Academy 7.8% ELA 95.6% Math 73.9%, PF: 6.61%

Newark Charter School 7.2% ELA 93.1% Math 84.1%, PF: 6.38%

Delaware College Prep 77.8% ELA 5.8% Math 7.5%, PF: 5.2%

First State Montessori 10.0% ELA 57.4% Math 41.1%, PF: 4.93%

MOT Charter School 5.9% ELA 75.4% Math 71.1%, PF: 4.32%

Delaware Acad. Public Safety & Security 27.0% ELA 20.6% Math 7.4%, PF: 3.78%

Moyer 73.1% ELA 8.3% Math 1.4%, PF: 3.5%

Positive Outcomes 31.7% ELA 15.7% Math 2.0%, PF: 2.8%

Delaware Military Academy 6.9% ELA 54.0% Math 27.6%, PF: 2.8%

Charter School of Wilmington 2.3% ELA 97.5% Math 96.3%, PF: 2.3%

Prestige Academy 58.1% ELA 17.6% Math 13.4%, PF: 2.2%

Gateway Lab School 20.8% ELA 15.4% Math 4.8%, PF: 2.10%

Las Americas Aspiras 25.0% ELA 51.0% Math 40.7%, PF: 1.14%

Everything changes when you factor low-income and poverty into the equation.  But is that enough?  Many of the schools with high populations of low-income students also have high populations of students with disabilities.  What if we add that to the equation?


DELAWARE CHARTER SCHOOL SBAC RESULTS WITH LOW-INCOME AND SPECIAL EDUCATION WEIGHT ADDED IN

East Side Charter School 77.3% ELA 19.9% Math 23.4%, PF: 16.7%, SE: 14.8%, PFSE: 2.4716

Academy of Dover 64.8% ELA 35.7% Math 25.9%, PF: 20.0%, SE: 11.7%, PFSE: 2.3400

Positive Outcomes 31.7% ELA 15.7% Math 2.0%, PF: 2.8%, SE: 65.9%, PFSE: 1.8452

Campus Community 38.3% ELA 61.9% Math 36.9%, PF: 18.9%, SE: 8.3%, PFSE: 1.5687

Kuumba Academy 58.0% ELA 44.6% Math 39.9%, PF: 24.5%, SE: 6.3%, PFSE: 1.5438

Thomas Edison Charter School 76.2% ELA 33.7% Math 20.9%, PF: 20.8%, SE: 7.1%, PFSE: 1.4768

Gateway Lab School 20.8% ELA 15.4% Math 4.8%, PF: 2.10%, SE: 59.9%, PFSE: 1.2579

Moyer 73.1% ELA 8.3% Math 1.4%, PF: 3.5%, SE: 29.8%, PFSE: 1.0430

Reach Academy 55.2% ELA 31.2% Math 17.0%, PF: 13.3%, SE: 6.4%, PFSE: .8512

Family Foundations 44.4% ELA 36.5% Math 28.9%, PF: 14.5%, SE: 5.3%, PFSE: .7685

Las Americas Aspiras 25.0% ELA 51.0% Math 40.7%, PF: 1.14%, SE: 5.7%, PFSE: .6498

Delaware Acad. Public Safety & Security 27.0% ELA 20.6% Math 7.4%, PF: 3.78%, SE: 16.5%, PFSE: .6237

Odyssey Charter School 17.9% ELA 77.7% Math 69.5%, PF: 13.2%, SE: 4.4%, PFSE: .5808

Providence Creek Academy 18.3% ELA 66.0% Math 43.3%, PF: 10.0%, SE: 5.1%, PFSE: .5100

Prestige Academy 58.1% ELA 17.6% Math 13.4%, PF: 2.2%, SE: 22.0%, PFSE: .4840

Newark Charter School 7.2% ELA 93.1% Math 84.1%, PF: 6.38%, SE: 5.6%, PFSE: .3573

First State Montessori 10.0% ELA 57.4% Math 41.1%, PF: 4.93%, SE: 5.4%, PFSE: .2662

MOT Charter School 5.9% ELA 75.4% Math 71.1%, PF: 4.32%, SE: 6.1%, PFSE: .2635

Sussex Academy 7.8% ELA 95.6% Math 73.9%, PF: 6.61%, SE: 3.6%, PFSE: .2380

Delaware College Prep 77.8% ELA 5.8% Math 7.5%, PF: 5.2%, SE: 2.5%, PFSE: .1300

Delaware Military Academy 6.9% ELA 54.0% Math 27.6%, PF: 2.8%, SE: 3.0%, PFSE: .0840

Charter School of Wilmington 2.3% ELA 97.5% Math 96.3%, PF: 2.3%, SE: .2%, PFSE: .0046


PRIORITY SCHOOLS

Now where all of this gets really interesting is when you start comparing this to traditional district schools.  Since it would take me forever and a day to get all of them, I thought I would start with the six priority schools announced a year ago yesterday.

Bancroft- LI: 80.5% ELA: 11.0% Math: 6.9%, PF: 13.5%, SE: 24.2%, PFSE: 3.2670

Shortlidge- LI: 81.0% ELA: 20.9%, Math: 15.7%, PF: 14.8%, SE: 14.9%, PFSE: 2.2052

Highlands- LI: 65.2% ELA: 29.5%, Math: 17.9%, PF: 15.5%, SE: 12.2%, PFSE: 1.8910

Warner- LI: 82.6% ELA: 13.4%, Math: 10.6%, PF: 9.9%, SE: 14.2%, PFSE: 1.4058

Bayard- LI: 78.2%, ELA: 9.3%, Math: 3.2%, PF: 4.9%, SE: 27.2%, PFSE: 1.3328

Stubbs- LI: 86.5% ELA: 8.1%, Math: 7.1%, PF: 6.6%, SE: 11.6%, PFSE: .7656

Bancroft would have beat ALL the charters, and even Stubbs, at the bottom of this list, would have beat  over half the other charters.  So what is the reason we are judging schools on high-stakes assessment scores when so many other factors need to be considered?  Maybe we can get a new funding program based on these calculations, but please hold the SBAC!  But seriously, as these numbers prove, our “greatest schools” aren’t so great when they don’t have high populations driving a need for additional support and services that are not coming into those schools at the rate they should be.  This is Delaware’s #1 problem, not proficiency scores on a useless once a year test. Governor Markell, poverty does matter and special education plays a huge role in the overall dynamic in Delaware education.

 

Red Clay Audio Of Board Meeting Raises Lots Of Questions About Wilmington Education Improvement Commission…

Who is funding the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission?  Who provided funding for the paperbook book for the Wilmington Education Advisory Committee?  What role will all four school districts in Wilmington play?  Will more committees be added to WEIC?

These are just some of the questions that were asked by the Red Clay Consolidated Board of Education to WEIC Vice-Chair Tizzy Lockman and Policy Advisor Dan Rich.  The 2nd part is where the real debate kicks in between Dan Rich and board member Catherine Thompson.  She raises some very valid points about the potential of Red Clay getting clobbered in all of this.  Dan Rich, at another point, raises the whole point about WEIC not just being about the redistricting, but also education reform for the whole state.  Which raises my question the other day: why should the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission, filled with representation from only one of the three countries in the state, not have many representatives from Kent or Sussex County?

Part 1: WEIC Presentation Begins around 27:00 mark

Part 2: WEIC Presentation continues about 3/5ths into the audio