The Delaware Board of Education meeting yesterday was full of controversy and shock….. For one, we are all in shock at the apparent direction which these little kids running the Delaware Department of Education are taking us. The first kid was Mark Murphy. The second was Penny Schwinn.

First, Mark Murphy expressed disdain that teachers were not being beaten up enough in their evaluations. People have to be cheating he postulated.  There is no way all teachers can be effective he stated.  And that shows impetuousness. Because in truth, there is.  You measure student growth.  You take a test in the beginning and you take a test in the middle, and those who don’t pass the middle test, get to try again in the spring.  Then, you rate those teachers on how their students did.  And since the students seemed to do well, the teachers did well as well.  

This was the process all parties sat in and developed.  We call it DCAS.  A fair way to measure a child’s growth, a fair way to measure a teacher’s ability, and a fair way to keep schools accountable.  

The difference is that two type of measurements are being taken by two different camps with two different agendas. The agenda of the DOE has become apparent.  It is to push Charter schools upon unwilling parents.  It is to gut the public school system so deeply that out of desperation, charter schools can skim students out of public schools.  This is not being done fast enough for this camp, because today, here in Delaware, people are happy with the public school system. This camp seeks to change that… 

The other camp consists of parents and teachers and others who have only the children’s interests at heart. They want to see the child grow, develop, and enjoy his years growing up, like they did.  They want their child to actually learn across the span of a year….

The first group, wants to rate schools against a Draconian scale that causes all to fail.  Therefore the bar to pass is set extremely high, and they themselves predict over 70% will fail this year…  It is according to these standards they think teachers are not achieving enough.  It is like if you said all children must get 1600 on their (now) two part SAT (perfect score) and then when children don’t reach that impossible level, you decry that teachers aren’t doing their job and throw a hissy fit at the Delaware Board meeting to try to carry your point…

For the second group, that impossible standard is seen as,… realistically impossible.  No parent back when they were at school had to strive so high.  If so, our current entire society today is made up of incompetent failures.  You, me, our neighbors, all complete dorks by the current DOE standards.  That simply can’t be true, because not only does society seem to work, it seems to work better than we remember it working back when we were young. Therefore in their eyes compared to where they use to be as children, the scores are averaging 40-50 point higher. and if teachers are doing that, they must be very good teachers…   99% of teacher being highly effective is about right.  What IS wrong, are the unreasonable standards that no adult could reach, being set as the cut level or standard to achieve…..

This controversy is not one about teachers and evaluations…..That is only a diversionary tactic.  It is truly all about who gets to set the levels…. A few bureaucrats being controlled by financial interests with much to gain….. or…. parents and teachers and through them, school boards, legislators, and public officials….  At it’s root, is the question of whether businesses should run schools?  Or should parents, teachers, and school boards?


As anyone who has followed this blog, who has taken the Smarter Balanced tests for their child‘s grade level, who has seen the manipulations in secret behind the closed doors of our state legislature, well knows, the test scores have been flat for the past three years…  Although not public, and the information is proprietary, the classes teaching Common Core have had scores fall, and the classes not yet aligned to Common Core, have soared…  If allowed to see the scores per class, one can immediately deduce that the flatness of our state’s scores is because of the curriculum force-fed to teachers through Common Core.   Everyone in the DOE knows this…. (except perhaps the press spokesperson who is kept in the dark on purpose)…. 

I can’t speak for the newness of Penny Schwinn.  That is why one must give her the benefit of the doubt when she spouts what are definitely lies and distortions and senseless diversions in her answer as to “why” scores have not moved higher:

  • Low expectations for African American students
  • limited resources for English-language learners
  • turnover among teachers of students with disabilities
  • difficulty in hiring qualified teacher
  • distractions related to litigation       WTF?   (one can hear “tort reform” coming a mile away)…..  For those not familiar with the term, tort-reform means making corporations not liable for any damage they may do for which they should be, and normally would be, sued.

It may be necessary to refresh your memories. In the DCAS first year, (when there WAS no Common Core) the scores shot up amazingly.  Everyone was ecstatic.  Boasts were made that we’d reach our goal prematurely….  Remember?

Are we then to assume that from then to now, only in the past 3 years, have been beset by a precipitous drop in ….

  • Low expectations for African American students
  • limited resources for English-language learners
  • turnover among teachers of students with disabilities
  • difficulty in hiring qualified teacher
  • distractions related to litigation       WTF  (again)

Have any of these changed across the past 3 years?  Did African Americans have high expectations in 2011, and then after, they plummeted?  (I think we all know that answer)  So what did change?  What did change was that we began piloting Common Core from 2012 and beyond.  And what did that do?  Common Core classes all consistently came under their goals in scoring and non Common Core classes continued to grow…. Why do we not know this? Because if you did, Common Core would face severe opposition and not be allowed to go forward!…. 

The evidence is all there.  Laid out in an excel spread sheet. (its actually PDF).  You just need to get past the propriety wall in the DOE to see it… 

Common Core alone, is to blame for Delaware’s lack of progress…. 

So how do we adjust in the middle of the stream?

  • Student Teacher Class rations 11:1 (k-5, and 9th grade in schools with over 50% reduced lunch)  Each teacher is accountable for 11 students.
  • Group students into smaller class groups by similarity of scores so each small group is on the same level.
  • Cut accountability apart from the standardized tests. Use tests as tools to find out where a child needs help. (They are amazing tools with the data they give out, but if teachers are worried about losing their jobs due to scores, these tests are not honest and help no one.)  If you cut out accountability from these tests, and go with a more personal relationship type of teaching, the test scores will rise as a marker of better education, not as education solely to reach a better marker…. 
  • Fund charters solely per line item in state budgets; no public school loses per-student-funding to charters.
  • Tax the top 1% adequately to pay for these advancements that show results. 

We can do this; and we can do this easily.  We just have to be wary of sharp tongued pushy salespeople trying to get us to do what they want, … not what WE want….