You remember it well.  The Governor’s press show at Warner Elementary on September 4th, 2014… in which he announced the designation of priority schools would take place and that it was terrible that these schools were total failures which were destroying education for young black children stuck in those schools with no where to go?

We need new $160,000 leaders (corrupt and beholden to us ) said Markell at the presser. We will also give $6 million in additional money (provided we have full control and no responsible district is allowed to look over our shoulder on how we spend all the school’s money, not just the bonus of $6 million…. ) to make these children learn.

Then the parade of local dignitaries all step out in front of the microphone singing praises to Markell and glorifying on high his name.

We were told it was all conceptual still; nothing was in writing as of yet… (see Nancy for documentation) …  Within minutes after stunned silence, questions began to fly…

$6 million?  For how long?  The answer was: spread over 5 years… or $200,000 per year per school out of which $160,000 went each year to pay a leader…

$40,000, the remainder, was to be spent first year on consultants of DOE’s choice to help plan the takeover.  So really, no new money was going to go any student needs?

And then they had to fire all principals.  And then they had to fire all teachers and only rehire 50% back… What of the empty spaces?  They would fill them with substitutes (TFA) Murphy said… cheaper than teachers.

“Were the new school leaders hired yet?”  we asked.  “No, but yes”, we were told.

Were these schools being targeted solely because the charters last spring had a difficult time trying to get the bare minimum number of students to sign up and leave the very good public school classes?  “No,” we were told.  Based on their scores over the past three years, these were the bottom 5% schools in the state, and for that reason alone they were all being prioritized….

We looked at scores… Are you sure they are the worst schools in the state we asked?   “Yes, our scores (which we see and you can’t), show these to be the worst schools in the state.  It is only a coincidence of poverty that they are all in walking distance of the new Mega Charter School for which we changed the law so our friends could get state money to make it happen. ”

Well the public shrugged.  If they were the worst in the state and were not succeeding, perhaps drastic measures were needed….

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Our DOE however is not the only rater of schools.  There are other organizations that rate schools.  Sometimes using the DOE’s published results, and sometimes by doing their own research….  Would you be surprised to hear that they came up with entirely different rankings than did our DOE?  What? You shake your head, you wouldn’t?

Best Public Elementary Schools in Delaware Ranked 1-98

The organization doing this uses a different criteria.  Asking questions; tabulating results.  There are some conjunctions.  Some schools are at the bottom of both lists….  Here is how the 6 priority schools are ranked, on what most parents would deem to be the more appropriate criteria for deciding if a school is proper for ones child….

98.  Frederick Douglas Stubbs Elementary School.

97.  Bancroft Elementary School.

75.  Warner Elementary School.

68.  Evan Shortlidge Academy

67. Highlands Elementary School.

(And of course Bayard Middle School, not being an elementary school, is not on the list)…  Now.. here are the remainder of the top 5% which were not picked upon as being priority schools….

96.  West Seaford Elementary School

95.  Porter Road Elementary School

94,  Casimir Pulaski Elementary School

… which round out the official bottom 5%….  Now, here continues the list of the 29 schools between the 2nd lowest priority school, Bancroft (97th) and the 3rd lowest priority school, Warner (75th).

93.  Frederick Douglas Elementary School,  Seaford.

92. Blades Elementary School, Blades, Delaware

91. North Laurel Elementary School, Laural

90. May B. Leasure Elementary, Bear

89  Joseph McVey Elementary, Newark.

88. Wilmington Manor Elementary, New Castle

87.  Harry Eisenberg Elementary School, Who Knows (‘Eisenberg Principle)

86  Castle Hills Elementary, New Castle

85  Henry Brader Elementary, Glasgow

84. East Dover Elementary School, Dover

83.  Elizabeth McClary Elementary, Newark

82.  Brookside Elementary School, Newark

81.  Colwyck Elementary School, New Castle

80.  Etta Wilson Elementary School, Pike Creek

79.  The Brennan School, Newark

78.  Albert Jones Elementary, Christinia

77. William Lewis Dual Language Elementary School, Wilm.

76. South Dover Elementary School, Dover

>And finally at number 75, we reach the 3rd priority school….  The final priority school is listed at 68.

Would you like to know why these rankings seem to be different from those the DOE is forcing upon us?  The answer is simple.  Instead of only using test scores which are duly reported here and do figure into the numerical rankings, they used multiple data points… including surveys which students, parents and teachers expressed their satisfaction over progress their school was making…

The rankings were done nationally across all 50 states and the District of Columbia.  (The DOE stats came from 2011-2012) … 47,436 elementary schools were receiving of a grade, with 40,413 of those also receiving a numerical ranking. This site not only shows rankings within Delaware, but shows how well each school does compared to the Philly Metro Area, and nationally.

Academics accounted for 50% of the score (and not Mark Murphy’s, Rodell’s, Dave Sokola’s, Jack Markell’s, Penny Schwinn’s 100%).  Since those of us over 30 did not take a public school state-mandated test, and we turned out well, the other factors relating to the score were weighed in at:

20%, District experience based on surveys.

20% Teachers Grade, from both surveys and statistics

10% Student Culture and Diversity.

Now, (as most of us think should be for all), the Academic portion was also not solely based on the score of the standardized test.  60% of the Academic scores was weighted upon the DOE test, and was taken from the US Dept. of Education.  30% came from the District Academics grade, which combines the state assessment score, percentages going to top colleges, AP class participation, AP Test pass rate, Composite SAT scores, and graduation rates. Also included were the district’s survey responses, advanced math enrollment, and the districts student/teacher ratio. The teachers grade was based on 35% weight by test scores, then by salary rankings, absenteeism, surveys, teacher experience, and student teacher ratios.  Filling in the holes were the student quality which were determined by diversity, balance of low and high incomes, surveys from parents, and balance of gender.

So overall, we have a far better measure of educational quality, similar to what children of the 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, all got before we began testing in the 90’s and using that one score to put more privateers into educational start-up capitalistic ventures.

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We were told Warner was failing… Governor Jack Markell was there to do it himself… So let us look at a different perspective…

Flat out;  their scores were 31% Math; 36% Reading.   After all, they are in high poverty districts.  Yet they got a B- over all… A score far better than the C- given to East Side Charter School, or the equivalent to the B- given to Booker T Washington Elementary in Dover, ranked by this survey at number 62, both singled out in praise by Mark Murphy for their improvement in test scores alone… Yet, they fail to develop an overall better child!

Warner’s academics were indeed a solid C by the time all items were weighed together… The district over all, Red Clay, one of the best run districts in the nation, got a B+;  that is important because it signifies support, resources, talent, and stability; all important items in creating good schools.  The teachers got a solid B…  Primarily that means parents are happy with the schooling their child is receiving. Warner’s culture and diversity grade were B… Overall it ranks in the 25th lowest percentile.  Not in the bottom 5th….

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What does this say?  Primarily it states that there are multiple ways to rate things and beauty is in the eye of the beholder… If you ask 10 men to rank 10 women from top to bottom you will not get the same rankings except in a freak occurrence.   3 of these schools are NOT problem schools by someone else’s interpretation…  in fact in someone elses’ eyes, there are 23 other schools that have more of a problem than do 3 of the 6 slated as priority schools….

So we must ask ourselves why were these 6 schools and only these 6 schools singled out?  Why are those schools held up by one as showing good students, almost ranked as failing by someone else with different criteria?

The answer can only be one thing….. The Mega Charter School scheduled to open next September which will need, if it is to stay afloat, lots of kids currently going to these six non-failing schools…

Those of you who work in a for-profit company… the shifting criteria analogy goes like this…  You’re old boss who hired you, grew and developed your unit and people, is now out.  In comes a new kid who only looks at one thing… profit percent off of revenue.  He does not care if total dollars decline or what customers think; he does not care what employees think; he does not care what his boss thinks, he does not care if the place falls apart… He thinks his only job is to turn in a “higher percentage” of profits off his revenue stream… Important things you need, he doesn’t buy.. It is not important to achieving his goal.  One runs short handed; as people quit, he refuses to hire replacements.  As his revenues from paucity of customers decline, he cuts even deeper to keep that percentage line from moving downard….   Eventually no one wants to come there; no one wants to work there; and the doors get closed. On his last dollar, he is exuberant that he kept his costs under 70% and turned in 30 cents that week as profit… “I’m the best there is”, he say out loud.

That is what is going on here… One item. One line, One criteria is being used as the one decider….  Everything else is expendable… “Just get scores up”… So what if East Side Charter School is nationally ranked as a C- because it FAILS to develop a student’s overall personal character? Who cares?   It raised its scores up…

This should not happen. It will not happen if YOU get mad and start doing something…. but if you brush it off, it is already on its way.

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