State Board of Education: “Poverty Is Not An Excuse…It Is Not Destiny”

The Delaware State Board of Education continues to ignore the effect Poverty has on students in high needs schools in our state.  As part of their presentation on the Smarter Balanced Assessment at Grotto’s Pizza in Dover, the State Board presented a slide that said:

Poverty Is Not An Excuse…It Is Not Destiny

Once again, the State Board is using the data that helps to further their cause of convincing the state the Smarter Balanced Assessment is necessary for our children to succeed.  The biggest challenge for the State Board and the Delaware DOE is the issue of low-income and poverty.  To fight this, they are hand selecting schools that fared well on Smarter Balanced.  But do some of these schools already have extra programs that could warrant higher Smarter Balanced scores?  Yes they do.

Lewis Dual Language Elementary School (Red Clay), South Dover Elementary School (Capital), and John M. Clayton Elementary School (Indian River) are all part of Governor Markell’s World Language Immersion program for Spanish.  Booker T. Washington (Capital) houses the district’s gifted and talented program for their elementary schools.  As well, Capital only has 3rd and 4th grade in their elementary schools and no 5th grade.  Other schools cited by the DOE as “beating the odds” (my words) are Long Neck Elementary School and Georgetown Elementary School (Indian River), Town Pointe Elementary School and North Dover Elementary School (Capital), Lake Forest South and Lake Forest East Elementary Schools (Lake Forest), Banneker Elementary School (Milford), Kuumba Academy and Thomas Edison Charter School.

An important distinction to make with all of these schools is that they are elementary schools.  The DOE did not praise any middle schools in this presentation.  The tests 3rd graders take are very different than those for 8th graders.  Comparing the two is not a true indicator for why 3rd graders did better on the Smarter Balanced Assessment than their peers in 8th grade.  As well, this ignorance of poverty does not take a large portion of the poverty issue to task: the very real part that deals with addiction, violence and crime in many of these students’ homes.  All of the schools the DOE talks about are in lower Delaware with the exception of two charter schools in Wilmington.  There are no Red Clay, Christina, Colonial or Brandywine schools “beating the odds”.

As well, the State Board emphasized the Smarter Balanced Assessment is just one indicator of how our schools are doing.  Then why are measurements from the Smarter Balanced Assessment going to account for 90% of elementary and middle schools accountability ratings and 70% for high schools in the upcoming accountability system called the Delaware School Success Framework?  All the other indicators the State Board talks about, growth and resources, are tied to students doing better on this test.  Education in Delaware is now based on performance on the Smarter Balanced Assessment.

Poverty DOES matter, and there are facets of poverty Governor Markell said last March “that you and I can’t imagine“.  But it sounds like Governor Markell, the DOE, and the State Board of Education are unable to not just imagine it, they don’t have the first clue how to understand it.  Below is the entire presentation Donna Johnson, Executive Director of the State Board of Education, presented to a group comprised of mostly educators and very few parents last night.  If any of you have more knowledge about what these schools may possess that other schools don’t, please share this information in the comments section.

Governor Markell Honors China Trip For 20 Students While Charter School Students In His Own Backyard Suffer

The Delaware Department of Education put out a press release today about twenty Delaware students who went to China for a month this summer.  That’s great Jack.  How about honoring the other 133,000 students in Delaware?  Or even the hundreds, if not thousands of Delaware charter school students in Wilmington who are forced to move from charter to charter to charter because the adults don’t know how to run a school?  But yes, by all means, please send out a press release about twenty students going to China to watch some company there for a month as part of your whole “World Immersion Program”.  Meanwhile, yet another charter school in Wilmington, this time The Delaware Met, vanishes into the ether before it even got off the ground.

The people of Delaware are really beginning to wonder about you Jack!  It’s like this is Jack’s world, and the rest of us are just living in it.  WAKE UP! Before the entire State of Delaware goes bankrupt!  But no, we shouldn’t judge Markell for the failure of others.  It’s not like he cares either way!  So without further ado, let me post the full China Press Release: Continue reading

DOE Contract Soliciting Bids To Mix Rodel’s Personalized Learning & Markell’s World Immersion Program

The Delaware Department of Education has a Request For Proposal (RFP) for middle-school students to have “blended” learning in the World Immersion Program.  I called this last October!  Rodel has been pimping the whole personalized learning thing for the past year, and I am sure it will be a highlight of their latest Vision fest in September.  Blended learning and personalized learning are essentially the same thing.  The RFP states they want students in 6th to 8th grade to be able to take their time learning another language.

World Immersion, on the surface, looks great.  But it is having the undesired effect in some schools of causing special needs students and low-performing students to not be able to participate in this program.  It is already making it’s mark in Capital and Caesar Rodney.  Students from one school in a district are moving to other ones because this program is offered at that school.  This is creating a shift to occur, whereby some schools will do well and others won’t.  And the districts are the ones doing this!  Check out the below RFP and please let me know what you think of this latest venture.  I know some teachers who agree with me on a lot who think World Immersion and personalized learning are great things, but I just see it as something that will separate the “strong” from the “weak”.  And don’t forget, this is all Governor Markell’s baby.  What happens to those schools in districts in a few years that have all the most high-needs students while all the “smart” ones are at the high-performing schools learning Chinese or Spanish?  The way Delaware sets up certain schools to fail continues to astonish me!  I’m going to predict this now: either Schoology or 2Revolutions will get this contract!

Governor Markell Ignores The Plights of Special Needs Students While Serving Corporate Interests

NGA Summer Meetings 2014, Guest Speaker, Vice President Joe Biden

So let me get this straight Jack: You want to boost the “great” schools in Delaware, many of which have already been named in a complaint that’s currently in the hands of the US DOE Office of Civil Rights division, but you won’t even mention the word special education?  Are you out of your mind?  Here’s the facts Jack.  These kids are treated horribly in many of our schools, or they aren’t even allowed to go there based on asinine laws that fit the mindset of a racist America.  It’s not really “choice” if some can go and some can’t.

Let’s not even get into your “World Immersion” program which is already causing pockets of schools to be re-segregated due to this clever idea.  Is this your plan for the non-Wilmington schools since the charter network can’t get their hooks in?  Set it up so the schools that don’t have these programs have lower scores because the “smart” kids want to take Chinese?  For children with an IEP or a 504 plan, this program is of course open to them, but isn’t recommended due to the “rigor” involved.

Everything that comes out of the castle of Markell stinks of corporate education reform and most parents are clueless.  The number of parents catching on is rising, but not nearly enough.  Do the districts even know what the long-term ramifications of your plans are?  Or do they just see dollar signs and think it’s okay?  I guess whether a student takes the Smarter Balanced in English or Chinese is immaterial to you, as long as they take your precious test.

I’ve already heard from some that your plans are designed to take advantage of those who need it the most.  While certain legislators are doing their best to take care of these students, you and your kind just steamroll right past them.  Little do you realize, these children will be taking care of you and yours when you are unable to take care of yourself.  Are you really going to guide them on a one-way street to discrimination and non-inclusion?  Of course you are, you haven’t done much to help these students at all except put them in a corner and ignore them.