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Fact:  Common Core is skewered.

Evidence:  The Council of Chief State School Officers is now spinning that having only 26 states out of 50 still on Common Core as a great success.

All know at one point there were 45.  Now 26.  In Chris Minnich’s words:  “IF WE HAD SAID IN 2010 THAT WE WOULD HAVE 26 STATES PARTICIPATING IN WORKING TOGETHER ON ASSESSMENTS NO ONE WOULD HAVE PREDICTED THAT. WE HAD 50 STATES EACH WRITING THEIR OWN TEST AND SO I THINK 26 IS REAL PROGRESS.”

Immediately bringing up this question in any observer’s head:  if the prime idea of Common Core Standards was that it put all states on the same standard…. how does that translate to a success where 26 are on that standard and 24 are not? “

Obviously the prime aim of Common Core, which was to enable us to compare the educational programs of one state against another, seems to now be bypassed.

What then were the secondary aims?

This is where things get fuzzy. We get all sorts of nice platitudes in answer to this question. Here are some:

  • Make kids learn
  • Make kids know what they need to know.
  • Make kids not have to pay for learning in college for what they should have gotten for free in high school.
  • Higher graduation rates.
  • Close achievement gaps for the poor, black, Hispanic, and non English speaking households.

That is mostly it.

The reality is that we are going to have roughly 50% of the states on this one program and 50% of the states that are not.

I say so be it. The states that want to go forward with Common Core in a gung-ho fashion, and have heavily invested in such, should probably not change horses in mid stream. We all know how turning the horse around at full speed suddenly upsets the apple cart. Likewise, those states that have to be dragged kicking and screaming towards Common Core, will probably not execute it well enough to make any difference in their children if they indeed were forced to comply; it could create more harm than good.

Then with this dichotomy… (and this is important)… WE can see how the children in the states not doing Common Core test on the NAEP compared to those children undergoing Common Core and test under the NAEP….

If Mississippi suddenly shows improvement quickly surpassing Delaware, then we know the problem is Common Core.  I cannot see how this dichotomy is bad for the country.  It may be bad for Delaware’s children if our governor proceeded down the less productive alternative, but in both ours and Mississippi’s scenarios, with both having dedicated teachers directly engaging the teaching processes, the amount of intellectual damage will be minimal through both our teachers’ abilities of compensate against whatever weaknesses either curriculum may expose, and any backwardness if necessary can be made up at college level.

Likewise, if the 26 Common Core consortium states after 3 years surprise us all by showing promising results as did Kentucky, then perhaps the problems of Common Core were overstated.

It is my opinion that Kentucky’s results are not so much due to the actual curriculum of Common Core, but instead belie the focus of effort its implementation forces teachers to teach around it. I’ve heard much more time of a teachers day there is spent on their class work and lesson planning, strictly because of the inadequacy of Common Core’s curriculum; far more than was done previously back in the olden days.  Explained thusly, if you were to give me a sentence written in gobblygook, I am going to translate that for my students so they can understand and I will take much more time out of my day in doing it.  It is the human effort behind the timely translation and interpretations of what Common Core is trying to do, which seems to be causing the promising results in Kentucky.

If it weren’t for Common Core, less effort (leading to less results) would be applied…

One of the reasons many states do not want to go forward with Common Core is because they do not see it as being state-led, but federally mandated.  As all here know, it is illegal for the Federal Government to meddle in curriculums. That is to be done on the local level by our existing laws.

If the Federal Government were to offer up another 300+ million for the other states to come up with their own educational consortium themselves, perhaps that action might save the brand Common Core from annihilation.

The real underlying question behind Common Core is this:  will it work?  We were given a liquid in a bottle, and told to take spoons of it until we felt results… Is it real medicine?  Or were we duped?  We have to wait for the results to find out.

Like a Doctor’s Gruel, if it does the trick, then we should take more of it.. If it makes us sick and does nothing to achieve betterment of our symptoms, then we need to say never again…

As for failing 70% of students, that needs to be explained better.  It needs to be explained as being nothing more than changing the grading system as we know it… Where 70% used to be a failure rate, we have moved that rate up to 85%. Your student is just as smart as they ever were, but now, 85% will be the new minimum passing level… That is all it is; that is all they are doing…

It is like if you are used to driving in miles and switch to kilometers.  Before you drove with your speedometer set on 60.  Now you drive with it set on 100… With your new speedometer, you are still going just as fast.

It all hinges on the test.  If the test is good, then we were wrong to slow it down.  But if it is bad and from the things we see it certainly looks that way, then the 24 states are right, and those 26 continuing forward with Common Core and the consortium test. are jeopardizing each one of their state’s students.

This post is just a light-hearted caveat provided to prove a point often made by parents against reformers who have no children of their own, or if they do, who have sequestered them far away from the very programs they try to pin on public schools.

In a quarterly review with a student, I noticed this one student was now getting A’s on Chemistry. Point was, he F’d it all marking periods the previous year…

“I actually like chemistry” he said. “It makes such sense I don’t know why I didn’t pick up on it last year.”

“Is their a difference in the difficulty level perhaps”I asked.

“Last year was AP Chemistry, and this year it is just regular… “

“Why do you think you didn’t learn it last year?”,  I asked.

“Well, we covered too much too fast.  It was impossible to ask questions, and at first when I did, I was kinda told I was stupid, so I never did again. “

“Also there was so much homework, I couldn’t keep up with all my other classes, and we were given an old textbook for reference, since it was AP and there was not book, just sheets of handouts.”

I responded: “Are you saying essentially that AP is too difficult and emphasizes doing busy work, but your class now is easier and so the emphasis is more on learning?”

A look of realization crossed his face… “Why, yes,… that is exactly it.”….

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Ladies and Gentlemen:  Rigor is bad, and has no business being in any classroom in America, unless those classrooms are in our most prodigious universities which at that point, are undergoing the process of selection for future pre-Med.

Thanks to Exceptional Delaware for spreading the upcoming changes to the IEP process.

Upon a preliminary perusal of the Scribed Document enclosed therein, I see many upcoming problems.  Most likely it will take 29 different separate posts to debunk each of the 29 pages contained therein….

However first mention should be over the underlying premise driving these individual planks of “reform”,  for reform they are not.  They are a push backwards to the pre-Industrial tenants of education…  to the times when education was not intended for everyone.

The driving force behind passage of the IDEA was this:  Children who have special disabilities have the right to learn too.  Anyone growing up in the 60’s and before, knows that before enlightenment,  special people were baby-sat, written off upon their initial classification, and left somewhere to hang in the wind.

The IDEA was pushed through Congress and loaded upon the states because actions like those were deemed to be immoral.  Behind the IDEA, is the driving principle that children who suffer disabilities, have the Constitutional right even with extra expense, to be given specialized instruction which will enable them to have an ability to insert themselves somewhere in society enabling them to have productive lives….

Making IEP’s conform to CCSS (Common Core Standards) returns us again to setting a bar too high, and writing off as losers all those who can’t reach it.

Which is actually good policy if you hate disabled children and rub your hands gleefully whenever you see them suffer.  Isn’t that the framework from where this policy is being generated.

Metaphorically this new policy can be demonstrated thusly…. Across the board, the Common Core standard takes an existing 3 foot high jump bar for 1st graders and raises it now to 5 feet…  The idea being that if they can’t jump 3 feet now, by setting the bar to 5 feet and firing the coaches whose 1st graders don’t meet it, we will create a race of 5 foot jumping first graders..  The IDEA back then said essentially that if 3 feet was the standard, a portable elevator should be installed so that those with no legs could elevate themselves up to that 3 foot  level and then throw themselves over to land on the soft cushion on the other side.

What this new policy is doing , is saying that despite the IEP elevator being only able to go up to 3 feet, the bar must be set higher to 5 feet (because that is the CCSS standard) and all children must be able to throw their bodies over it by first grade level or not go forward. Too bad for all of those who suck at the 3 foot level…

This is not only a procedural change; it is a structural change as to how America feels, thinks, and deals with all people not lucky enough to be in their top condition.

This takes us back to that philosophy behind the days where being in a wheelchair meant you did not have access to buildings.  This takes us back to where being mentally ill, meant you stayed in an asylum for life…  For if you don’t meet the minimum standards of their designation of “normal”, you unfortunately don’t need to be part of regular life.

This turns its back on America’s philosophy and action over the past 30 years…

That is what is at stake.  All know that Common Core standards are broken already. Most Americans are discouraged against them being used even for regular children. Most certainly, they should not be used to ban all and every potential disabled child from having a possible productive and satisfying life.

They return us to labeling children as “unfit”  as opposed to “needing assistance” as early as first grade.  This new policy implementation is nothing less than the odious placement of charter school selective standards upon the accept-all comers policy  required of public schools…

Why should we return to the dark ages of putting our “mistakes” in the attic and sliding food under the door?  I’m sure this program’s proponents have not yet thought through all the implications their policies will generate…. So you need to.

Why are we going backwards 40 years?

All of you know why the label of “Judas” is frequently applied to State Senator Greg Lavelle who now is running against Sarah Buttner (3 houses down from Joe Miro) in the 4th Senatorial District of Delaware…

All know he is the one to be blamed for any faults arising from the use of the Smarter Balanced Assessment.

Many of you do not know that some of his children are IEP’d. His gracious spouse, Ruth, is actually New Castle County’s citizen representative on the IEP task force. There recently she stated she was in a meeting last week and said IEP Plus is not user-friendly and questioned whether it is less of a band-width issue but the system itself…..

What is interesting, and very odd indeed, is that the Smarter Balanced Assessment which Mr. Greg Lavelle is solely responsible for making the “law of the land”…  is very harsh to any child who has an IEP and must take it.  It is as if Greg Lavelle voted against the interests of his own child, … but why would he do so, and for what?

Just odd, I tell you.  One of those little things that if you know, causes you to ponder them over and over in trying to find some rational logic to explain what obviously is unexplainable.

Six months ago, or just 3 months before Greg cast the deciding vote, sealing the Smarter Balanced Assessment into the state’s official test…. the American Statistical Association, (ASA), the accountants’ association equivalent of doctor’s AMA, came out and slammed value added testing (VAM) as being impossible statistically to hold anything or anyone accountable…   (VAM purports to be able to take student standardized test scores and measure the “value” a teacher adds to student learning through complicated formulas that can supposedly factor out all of the other influences)… These formulas can’t actually do this with sufficient reliability and validity,

Because math and English test scores are available, reformers have devised bizarre implementation methods in which teachers are assessed on the test scores of students they don’t have or subjects they don’t teach.

But what is odd, is that the major consensus among all educators, is that it certainly does not work for children with learning disabilities.  The more disabled students a school has, the lower it’s total average score will be if compared to any school having fewer disabled students, even if the level of teaching is overwhelmingly superior in the first school with more special ed students than occurs in the second with fewer…  If everyone inside a building is being rated by a school’s average score in only English and math, then smart teachers will flock to schools with zero IEP students,

Since No Child Left Behind started, the standardized test-based “accountability” era now more than a dozen years old, there has yet to show any evidence that standardized tests have improved student achievement, or that linking test scores to teacher evaluations has created better teachers.

From now on, the Federal Department of Education will not only consider whether proper procedures are being conducted but on outcomes, including how well these students score on standardized tests and the achievement gap, based on test scores, between students with and without disabilities….  The department believes that more testing will help special education students achieve more in school.

A 2009 warning by the Board on Testing and Assessment of the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences stated that “VAM estimates of teacher effectiveness should not be used to make operational decisions because such estimates are far too unstable to be considered fair or reliable.”

The Educational Testing Service’s Policy Information Center has said there are “too many pitfalls to making causal attributions of teacher effectiveness on the basis of the kinds of data available from typical school districts,”

Rand Corp. researchers have said that VAM results “will often be too imprecise to support some of the desired inferences.”

Duncun, Markell, and Murphy keep denying this extensive research.  And now, very oddly, Greg Lavelle believes that more testing will help special education students achieve more in school. He has joined them even though it jeopardizes the future of his own children,….

Why would anyone who has children on an IEP, vote for them to take the Smarter Balanced Assessments?

It is very odd indeed.

This, from top-notch educational expert Steve Newton, (who incidentally is running for state rep in the 22nd Delaware district), explains everything….  This, if you could only read one piece on educational reform, should be it.

Like nothing else before or since, it explains why Duncun, Markell, the Chief’s for Change, Rodel, Murphy, Jenner, Jacques, Sokola, Scott, Sweeney, are all very wrong.

Read.

Like Hamlet, it is a must-read….

teacher depletion

43,140 teachers shorted across just 5 states.

Taking a page from the Republican play book, where one takes an event, finds the worst possible thing in it, and harps on that one thing ad nauseum.

So it is with the Newark Riots.

In an embarrassing glitch of sensational journalism, that could only have one purpose, elevate charters to appear better than public schools, Newark High was portrayed as having a giant riot requiring 4,000,000 policemen to come in from neighboring states to break it up…

Instead. Two gangs. 11 people, were fighting each other… and… no one was hurt.

Caught in the exaggeration of 4,000,000 cops coming in to handle the riot, the News Journal continues to drill down on it today…

You have already seen the NHS student letter written to the News Journal… The newspaper lied; a student calls them on it… Pretty sad when someone too young to vote has infinately more credibility THAN THE ONLY DAILY NEWSPAPER IN THE STATE…

“But it can’t be ignored that officers of the law were prevented from performing their sworn duty – which included protecting the rowdy onlookers. Their parents and guardians should be made aware of their role and some measure of responsibility and punishment needs to be considered”..

Can someone bitch-slap them for me?

It was 7 am… The students have just gotten off their buses and are headed to class… the halls are 15 feet wide. All students must pass the A cafeteria. There are over 1,500 students… No student is going to walk by people fighting in the hall… They stop. 1,500 students stop behind them…. The police who come last have to maneuver through 1500 students to get to the fight…..

Imagine police trying to crash through the waiting line to get inside Space Mountain?

There is nowhere in the original report of any mention where students intentionally were trying to keep police from getting to the fights. In fact, 99.9% of the students were on the police’s side of this. Arrest the bums and get them out! But there was nowhere to move.

Here is how a more responsible news organization reported the event….

“”They found a large crowd, as you can imagine at 7 a.m. in the high school, in the hallways at that location and multiple individuals were fighting,” he said.

And here is exactly how the News Journal reported it on Monday….

“The school staff handled it, but while officers were there several other fights broke out in the C and D hallway where officers found several hundred kids gathered, impeding their access to the ones fighting and [officers] called for assistance,” he said.

“Impeding” as in being stuck in the middle; not interlocking arms in protest to prevent passage of law enforcement!

And here is how the News Journal spins that story, and this comes from the editorial board itself…..

“It’s necessary to reinforce the value of respect for law-enforcement servants, who have sworn to protect the very students who interfered with their obligation to keep them safe. Those interlopers helped extend the brawls, and as a result, should be held equally responsible by school officials and city police.”

This is the textbook definition of “liable”. Falsehoods perpetuated by a commercial media. It is past time for a class action lawsuit against the News Journal over its damage done against every student in our public schools… If one takes the enrollment of last year from across the state… 133,369 and figures that they’ve done $1,000 damage per student (college remedial classes to undo Common Core), the minimum of the class action suit should begin at $133,369,000… This is the amount for what the News Journal should be sued over this defamation; it owes Delaware’s children for its past deceit and for choosing to not report facts going on inside the Delaware Department of Education, as they truly were…..

When it comes to education in Delaware and the News Journal editorial board…. you are always being lied to….. Either they are too lazy to check out a story; too rich to care, or are working solely off an agenda to elevate charters (which all know are worse than public schools) by denigrating public ed

Today, instead of paying $2.84 for per gallon of gas, we’d be paying $2.94: the price of gas last Friday.

Now because we aren’t paying what we paid last Friday for gas, we can’t have improvements on any of our roads.  We won’t be able to fill pot holes.  We can’t properly plow the roads during snow time. Bottlenecks will remain bottlenecks with no plans to expand the highway system.

And there will be 7,700 fewer people working at high paying jobs in Delaware as a result…

Thanks Valerie Longhurst, for making Delaware a second tier state…… What on earth were you thinking?

Markell and Murphy’s argument for establishing priority schools, just melted away… If you were holding on to anything of theirs, check and wash your hands…..

Their ideology behind priority schools is that teaching is easy and can be done by animals and the only reason learning isn’t happening is because lazy and dumb teachers are not teaching…..

This is the only way their approach to these 6 schools makes sense…. Fire the principal.. Establish a leader who will whip teachers into teaching, and then fire all the teachers and only rehire the top half who seems to do the best job teaching.  Fill the other slots with newbies you can fire later to keep the top teachers scared for their jobs…

HOWEVER…  

Poverty remains an issue despite Mark Murphy and Peggy Schwinn saying that poverty itself is no detriment to learning….

We have a study out now collaborating that poverty is….

A new study, conducted by Donald J. Leu of the University of Connecticut, which found “a large and significant achievement gap, based on income inequality, in an important new area for learning—the ability to read on the Internet to learn information,” according to a news release from the university.

What this means is that poverty not only impacts written words in book form, but it is exacerbated when the testing with a screen and keyboard. Research shows that poverty increases the achievement gaps when measured on electronic devices.

The lower the parent’s income levels, the less skilled a student is at reading or doing math on line.

Poverty impacts learning.  No amount of teaching can overcome that. Since when does a gym teacher become more of an expert on how poor people learn than a Phd. in education teaching at the University of Connecticut?

What miracle or magic potion makes a gym teacher or a Nextell salesperson become an expert on how a child’s brain works?

M&M’s… whether in your mouth or hands, their argument just melted….  Sadly we do know what to do to turn these 6 schools around…. and it is being ignored….. That is…

A) 11:1 student teacher ratio across k-5 and 9th Grades in schools having 50% levels eligible for reduced lunch .

B) Tax the top 1% fairly to pay for funding of any increased costs.

C) Dissolve teacher accountability from test scores.  Use standardized tests solely as a tool to see what a child has missed and what he needs to learn to fill in those holes. Then patch those holes.

D) Divorce Charter Schools from per pupil funding and pay for them directly per line item in the state budget, as has been done for vocational schools since their inception.  A new Charter school opening should not impinge even slightly upon all others remaining in public schools!

E) Let teachers teach.  Hold teachers accountable for getting their 11 students to perform at the best of their abilities.  After all they too just as the DOE should be allowed to be rated based upon their fidelity of implementation…

Kuumba, East Side Charter, and Howard are held up as models for changing the 6 new schools over to Charters.  Good things can be done….

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Kuumba:  $12,769 per pupil

East Side Charter:  $13,929 per pupil

Howard:  $18,572

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Now onto the Priority Schools.  These $$$ are district wide average student costs.

Bancroft  $13,058

Bayard   $13,058

Stubbs  $13,058

Highlands  $12,520

Shortlidge  $12,520

Warner  $12,520

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Kuumba looks compatible.  But WHOOPS.  There was a $425,000 gift from the Charter Slush Fund that did not make it into that total…  Gosh. Darn. … So if we take that, and divide by each of Kuumba’s students in its student body…. 298… we see there is an additional per student cost of  ($425,000/298) an additional $1,426 dollars per student that needs added on…

Kuumba  $12,769 + $1,426 =  $14,195  per student….

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Now assuming public schools could just wave their magic wand and get money?  How much if we added $1426 for every student in these 6 soon to be taken-over schools?

Bancroft  $591,790

Bayard    $660,238

Stubbs     $463,450

Highlands  $546,158

Shortlidge  $469,154

Warner  $797,134

That is per year… So compare it to the $322,222 per year (if not counting that planning year) these priority schools supposedly are getting.

And couple in to the argument these six schools can’t pick the cream of the crop as do all three other schools being held as examples, but must spend what they get on everyone who comes into their door….  Meaning they will have more special ed. They will have more English as a second language. They will have more poverty and children entering the educational system with a vocabulary of less than 500 words….

There is simply no way one can compare a school that should be receiving $797,134 a year extra per student to one that actually did receive $425,000 extra dollars…. above and beyond its normal allocation…

If you want equality, then make Charters compete on budgets of $12,520 per student and not a penny more.  Only then, can we see how good they REALLY are……

In any regard, we can see the scale of the paltry amounts being offered by the DOE in its priority school takeover bid.

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