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Colin Powell’s think tank just pegged graduation rates nationally at 80%. A new record.  That is 77% for males, 84% for females… This is marked for 2012… (our data ranges 2 years behind, even in this day of instant access…)

Data is broken down for states…..

Delaware, the best place to live in America, has an overall graduation rate of 78% that year… Broken down it goes like this:

77% American Indian  (65)

90% Asian (87)

71% Hispanic (71)

73% Black (67)

82% White (84)

71% Economically Disadvantaged (70)

65% Limited English (57)

56% Physical disabilities (59)

The national averages are included in the parenthesis… As can be readily seen, it is those damn white people that are bringing our state down!  Nice job, Blacks.  Way to push our team forward….

Now don’t let anyone tell you this success is from Common Core… These graduates in 2012, walked into first grade in 2000… Common Core wasn’t even a wet dream back then.  Common Core didn’t begin planning stages until 2010, and the very first pilot clases were rolled out in the 2012-2013 school year….  And even today, we still don’t know what we are doing…

If anything, this is somewhat of a vindication of No Child Left Behind….. This would be the first class that across its entire lifespan (more or less), was under the tutelage of teachers faced with penalties for not striving to succeed…  It is impossible to tell, since a myriad of other factors are in play, and there was no isolation or scientific process to weed out all other possibilities. Any one of those could be the big one, which was that due to the recession during this age group’s high school years,… staying in school was really the “only” practical option available….

Every parent who has had a child already undergo the Smart Balance Assessments or the PARCC, knows this graduation rate will plummet as soon as Common Core goes into effect… They see it in their child:  “Boy, I can’t wait to quit school and get away from all this ridiculous boring bullsh\t !”  Instructions for Common Core are harder to understand than Mandarin calligraphy…. At least one can learn Mandarin calligraphy. Common Core is a fluctuating standard that can be shifted either up or down upon a whim… depending on whether the power that be, “like” your child.

So we need to celebrate this graduation milestone, and be grateful that for whatever the cause, more children than ever stayed in school all the way… Then immediately after our cheer, we need to call every legislator we can think of, and cajole, demand, or plead they abandon Common Core before it destroys something great which is working…

You don’t tinker with something that is working….

It never comes out better…..



Educational Success

Bottom Half of America's Educational Rankings

This data came from here.

What trends can we learn from the bottom…

To start bottom up, rank them how they vote politically.

  • Nevada  .. a swing state.
  • New Mexico — Democratic, but with a huge percentage of native American population.
  • Mississippi — Republican
  • Louisiana, Arizona, West Virginia, Arkansas, Alabama, Oklahoma, — All Republican.
  • California — Democratic with a huge Central American population.  In people it probably represents more than all the above so far.
  • South Carolina, Texas, Tennessee, Georgia, Idaho,  all extreme Republican.
  • Kentucky, always Republican but now may be swinging.
  • Oregon — Democratic
  • Alaska, Michigan — now Republican
  • Florida — historically always Republican though leaning to swing lately with new voter registration.
  • North Carolina — Republican, rapidly pulling away from everything Democratic
  • Montana — Republican values but lately a swing state.
  • Hawaii — Democratic

(I should note that in case one didn’t previously look at the charts, they should know the worst at settings ones children up for success, is ranked on top starting with Nevada, and the educational levels get better as one goes down the list until he reaches America’s midpoint, which is just after Hawaii if one come up from the bottom.)

But see any trends?

Obviously Republican states do not do well here.  Could this be a coincidence?  If so it would be odd.  That states known for their blueness are all above average when it comes time for kicking their kids out the door, and states known for their redness, are really sending their children out ill prepared…

Now in my observation, it is too hard to pinpoint this on a political party.  Those things morph to get votes.  There has to be something bigger associated with the Republican Party, but not officially a part of it.

The culprit is the belief and practicing of austerity.  Austerity when based on evidence, does not work.  True believers counter that the opposite of austerity is Socialism.  I don’t think Socialism can be so narrowly defined as setting ones children up for success.  And that is what this is about.  Taking care of ones children is not socialism.  It is a duty.  Funding the educational process is a duty required I think by every state.  Every state deserves to have their children do well.

The practitioners of austerity have dominated the argument far too long.  Our children have suffered for it.  If one wants to practice austerity, it needs to happen in areas other than education. As a society we must decide this once and for all.

The idea that one will cut taxes just to cut taxes and make all things fall in line,  cannot apply to education.  Educational funding must be maintained at a consistently adequate level, and if revenue comes up short, then let the wealthy pay more…  This idea of cutting those very essential services and means for future growth so our elite can have more pocket change, needs to stop.

Austerity may have its place, somewhere.  But it certainly does not belong in education as this chart well shows.   All those states which champion austerity, are those very states bringing DOWN America’s academic excellence…

Austerity is nothing more than society’s choosing to button down, and stuff its money into a mattress instead of investing somewhere else and earning additional income or interest off of it… Only in this case, society has chosen the 1% to be its mattress…  Now imagine a mattress actually demanding that we feed it money.  Preposterous?   Well that is exactly what has happened to American society since Bush took over after Clinton. We have willingly obeyed its orders…

This chart of states ranked by their ability to send their children out into the world and be successful, better than any other indicator I think, shows the folly of following any austerity type of program, but especially when it comes to setting up our children for success….

1) It doesn’t help anything. 2) It hurts and makes us worse off.

“My basic question began…,  “how do you rate how well a child reads?  What does that number score mean?”

The answer back, was that a child reads a passage, then repeats the words he read back to the teacher…. and those words are what are counted.   “If he uses 18 words, he has a score of 18. If he uses 28 he has a score of 28…. ”

I was confused. I said, “so a child reads a passage, and let us say it is about Antarctica.  He has to memorize actual words  he read, and then, list all the individual words he remembers?  Do you count articles like “a” and “the”….?”

“Oh, no.  He just repeats back what he read, the meaning of the passage in his own words, tells us everything he can remember from the passage which we count and record the number of words… We are not concerned so much with what he says or whether he comprehends; we just count the number of words he can string together….”

….in a minute.”

“In a minute?” I ask?  “Now I’m curious.  What happens if a person has a disability with speaking, and talks much slower?  I can see where they could completely understand the passage, but by the time they get the words out, they are rated complete failure. What happens if the person stutters, .. below standard?”

“The department of education wants us to record everyone the same.  One standard for all.  No exceptions. It is the number of words per minute”

“Well, I can see where it would be important to maintain the sanctity of the standard, but it is really making a mockery of the intelligence of the person who is being tested.  Basically you are rating intelligence on how fast one talks… That would make people from Massachusetts and Minnesota, which are fast talking states, appear smarter than states in the South, like Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana, where they talk r-e-a-l  slow…..

Oh, my goodness.  That mirrors the NAEP… High reading scores where everyone grows up hearing language used quickly, and lower test scores where children grow up hearing it used slow…

“I’ll have to admit, it is not a perfect measure of one’s intelligence nor their knowledge.  It is just the way the test is designed….  We’ve known this a long time, but no one on top really even cares…”

“But that would make black people appear dumber than whites, unless of course, they grew up in a house where language was spoken quickly,  Southern Hillbillies would score low.  And second language learners, of course are slower because they are translating as they go, and they are getting a lower score because of the time it takes for them to say something…. but yet all of these could pass a written test fine.

It looks like our entire rating system predominantly hinges on this one trait,  speaking faster.   That could explain why the North has higher averages than the South, the East averages are higher than the West’s.

But yet the old fashioned teaching way worked fine and was fair to all…  We used to say: “read this passage and  answer the questions about what you read to see if you comprehended what you were reading….”

The new fashioned way of…  how many words can you repeat back to us, and does your repetition have a organized beginning,  body, and an end.,,  might be a good test for a game show on TV, one hinging on one certain skill, particularly how fast one’s tongue could move, but it is not a good measure of one’s intelligence.  A lot of very intelligent people are circumspect and weigh each word carefully, and speak slow because of their intelligence.

So if we are using this to rate our children, and then using our children’s performance to rate our teachers, their schools, our districts. doesn’t that put the entire standardized testing system now being developed with a half a billion dollars for Common Core, in disrepute?

Really, how can we go forward when those leading us from high within the Department of Educations, have no clue of what they do?  The speed at which people speak is determined on the language spoken around them while their brains developed between one and two years of age…  Therefore, Judging a teacher’s performance based on this very arbitrary trait, needs to be stopped….

What is wrong with our DSEA?

Just scoured all the newsfeeds and educational blogs and didn’t see anything supportive of Common Core….  Am I just on the wrong search engines?  Or is the silence of anything supportive of Common Core for real?

(And I don’t mean cheerleading devoid of factual content as is readily done by the News Journal in its op ed’s, or that stuff by the Rodel Foundation.)

Both are so slow on their output, that usually I’ve debunked their arguments before they go public…

If you know of anything that is positive towards Common Core, please send…

Because right now, it looks like America is waking up….

 Delaware State Testing

At $40 million per test…. add them up….

I count 9 testing windows…..

Let’s see…

  • Grades 3-10   Fall Assessment Window   October 2-18…..
  • Required EOC:  Algebra II, IM III, US History, (optional) Biology  January 1-31
  • Grades 3-10   P/P Reading-Math   January 20-31
  • Grades 3-11  Smarter Balanced Field Consortium  February 14th – June 6th
  • Science Grades 5,8,10   April 14-June 2
  • Required EOC:  Algebra II, IM III, US History, (optional) Biology  April 21- May 23rd.
  • Grades 3-10 P/P Reading, Math  May12-30th
  • P/P Science Grades 5, 8 ,10…. P/P Social Studies 4, 7  May 19- June 2
  • Social Studies 4-7   May 19 – June 2

So when does a child get a chance to be taught?

It appears that through November and December, a child gets a chance to be taught without being pulled out to take a test…..

At $40 million per test…. don’t the priorities seem a little warped to you too?


Diane Ravitch will be speaking a little over an hour away… Here are the details…

Diane Ravitch to speak at Princeton NJ High School Nov. 4

Diane Ravitch Schedule.

All Courtesy of NAEP Click on each to enlarge.


The NAEP is the nation’s Educational Report card. It is the definitive standard which will determine whether RTTT or Common Core is working. Against this all things are measured. The long term trend assessment is given every four years. This data is for 2012 and can be compared to 2008. The Main NAEP Assessment (compare the two assessments here) is given every two years. It will be taken this year in 2014. If 2014’s scores are consistent or go down, the curriculum like some have said here, is the problem.

But one can see that those who support Charter Schools (Jea Street, are you listening?) who claim education is terrible, just terrible, these days. have nothing to stand on. Education has increased in segments little by little since it was begun in 1973. (The starting point for Hispanics as a separate classification was 1975). The old curriculums with all their problems did their job. What is interesting is how growth stopped at 2008. The 2012’s reports showed mostly flat scores from the previous session, although they did not go down. The biggest outside change affecting lots of students was the advent of charter schools, and implementation of standardized testing. As in Delaware, Charter schools tend to drop test scores underneath what public schools would have been able to attain. This negative influence (from Charters) and the positive gains in public education may have canceled each other out giving us the flat results we see here.

These results are too soon to apply to Common Core, because Common Core was piloted in 2012-2013 and begins this year in full effect.

But what these charts do convincingly show, is that the institute of public education has functioned very well over the past forty years. It remains to be seen, if the sledgehammer now being applied in the name of corporate reform, or translated into “give me all your money,” will do more damage than the good we’ve gotten used to.

The Moment Education In Delaware Started Sliding Backwards

Enumerate Please!

1)  Charter Schools have been set up by this law to compete for funding by the acquisition of students, and can control the parameters upon which students get to go.

2) This bill removes many important services from needy students in Delaware’s Public Schools.

3)  All students deserve a quality education, without competing for seats where funding may at whim, be arbitrarily moved around by the Department of Education.

4)  The use of public money for more funding for charters with capital needs, stands in direct opposition to those public schools in deeper need of those funds.

5)  10 years is too long of a term to keep charters renewed.

6)  Funding cut during the depression for the necessary running of public schools, is not being reinstated; but now, is being given over to charter schools instead.

7) This bill promises funding without accountability.  Where is the standard “lien clause” if the charter goes belly up?   What’s this, another Fisker? “Here, have some money…  ”

8) Zero accountability for diversity.

9) Zero accountability for local control.

10) Zero accountability for impact.

11) Zero accountability for transparency.

12) The Performance Framework is a very weak, spindly frame to hang capital funding upon. Your grandkids could figure how to wiggle through it.  So can lawyers.

13) The law was crafted by a secret cult that a) took no notes, b) posted no meetings, c) had only one parent and one teacher and dissed both of them,

14) Provides a performance fund for 8% of Delaware’s students (those in Charters) and does absolutely nothing, creates no perfomance fund for the other 92% of Delawares public school students….  “They don’t matter”

15)  This bill allows Delaware’s Department of Education to move citizen’s levied public tax money over to any charter it desires,  based on need.  If a charter fails to perform or financially fails as did Pencader, the DOE can rob any treasury it wants of public funds it does not own, to pay that charter with your money!

16)  The accountability piece with new charters is completely unproven, untested, and undesirable.  It would take a whole bureaucracy just to hold Charters already accountable to the exact same standards they currently undergo today, without this bill.,

17)  The DOE has, with even far simpler standards then exist in this bill, failed to keep charter schools accountable in the past. If it is hard for one to do something dirt simple, how will one do something that is far more complicated?   Pencader had to close because the DOE was not involved up until more money had to be invested after they closed. Yet the DOE is responsible over the course of the life of that school for following up.

18)  We often talk of charters versus public. We’ve never even once talked about new charter schools wiping out existing charter schools.   To give the big megalithic charter a free building, free start up costs all out of taxpayers dollars when there are banks lined up to loan them money,… is simply unfair to all those pre-existing charters who still have to make loan payments, and invest in their schools too….

19)  No school boards were consulted on this bill.  It is full of problems.  The 3 members of the school boards peripherally involved with the task force, all privately said… ” no one listened to us; they did what they wanted….”

20)  The chief of the superintendents, came out against this bill.   All superintendents are privately opposed to HB 165, even those on the working committee….

21)  Delaware’s Attorney General’s office said the working group creating this bill, broke Delaware’s law.

22)  Parents of hungry children, can’t afford to send their hungry children to charter schools. The charter school associations lawyer himself, said this bill does not force charters to give Federally mandated meals to children needing them.

23) This bill takes away opportunities for Blacks and Hispanics, especially  by siphoning money out of public schools.  If this bill passes they will be forced into substandard schools within the city, either Charter or Public, and the schools in the affluent neighborhoods, will become even better.   Education again will be separate, and not equal.

24) This bill is too heavily lobbied.  DSEA has 6 lobbyiests assigned to this bill.  Rodel has 2 lobbyists assigned to this bill. Rhett Ruggerio Government Relations LLC has 6 lobbyists registered to this bill.  They public has zero lobbyists against this bill, and when a representative tried to intervene on the publics behalf, she was barred from the room. This bill is one sided. The other side deserves being heard because it is the majority stakeholder in the educational question:  parents.

25)  This bill does exactly what Chicago and Philly did to their schools 8 years ago. Today they are facing mass closings.

26) This bill penalizes religious and non profit charters.  It helps spawn 27 new charters now approved to be opened by 2014, all of which will then be competing against religious and non profits who unlike the new charters, won’t have the option of having their capital funding paid.

27) When comparing affluent Charter Schools to Affluent Public schools, the Affluent Public schools are better. When comparing poor charter schools to poor neighborhood public schools, the poorer Public Schools are better.  In all cases, when Charters are compared to public schools of the same type, they fall short.  Only 17% of Charter schools are better than the average public school.  Which means that 83% of charters are equal or below the average public school student. . .  One always rewards those who are leading the way, doing the best work.  This Bill, HB 165, does just the opposite.  It provides a welfare payment unearned to those who simply ask for it…

This bill cannot be amended sufficiently, just like one can’t put their car back together with string.  Please do not support Jacques’ and Sokola’s horrible bill that makes educating the rest of the 92% of our children  much harder, not easier…   This bill, had it been created in an open session would now be a completely different bill.   It needs to die.  There is nothing here that can’t wait 6 months for all of you to pick it up again, this time when all of you are smarter about the ramifications it creates…  After all, six months is only 26 weeks away….

Rule Number 1:  Anyone can make up anything about anything……..

So when the Markell administration through the mouthpiece of Mark Murphy says the RTTT funds were federally mandated to be used to pay $20,000 bonuses and then turns around and gives it to Charter Schools to use however, one must be skeptical.

This is 2013 and none of us were born yesterday.  But, back sometime in our past, when we were born, … there was an argument that public schools were falling apart and that only by having a charter school take over an existing public school system, could any improvement be made…

Recently the Delaware Legislature passed a bill regarding teacher training. (SB 51)… So with the movement of money away from teachers in the traditional public school system of Christina, over to the pockets of those endorsing Charter Schools, I became curious how the education of teachers between the public sector and the private sector stacked up…

After all, wouldn’t you be curious too?

Of course you are.

If one travels to the Delaware State Educational website and looks at schools, one sees a wealth of information…  One can choose a district and see how it stacks up, (unless that district is the Charter School classification and for purposes of obfuscation, they are all off-line).. From there, one can choose an individual school.  Once on the page, one can click either of three tabs. One describes the school overall and with this, one can make easy comparisons.  Two describes the teachers; one can readily compare. And three is for the student achievement (or fail) reports….

It is rather simple.

Which makes it confusing as to why various Senators and Representatives who purport in public to be on top of education, were so easily bamboozled and lulled into voting for a bill that destroys Delaware’s institutions of higher learning… (SB 51)

It also pokes very big holes into the lie that Charter Schools are better for students than the alternative.

I want to show you Christina and how that stacks up against Charter Schools….

Christina School District is the states largest… 52% of its teachers have masters, 47% have a bachelors, and 1% has their doctorate...  The number of teachers it has, who are highly qualified to teach Reading/ Language Arts, is at the 100% mark… The number of teachers it has who are highly qualified to teach Mathematics, is also 100%..

In fact all its teachers except in English which is 99.5% highly qualified, and Social Studies which are 98.1% qualified, are at 100% highly qualified. SB 51 was designed to make our teachers all highly qualified but it looks like Christina is already there…

So, there is reason that the Board wanted to give smaller bonuses to all teachers instead of arbitrarily giving it to one or two who by luck of their student draw, got the highest score. All its teachers deserve to bonus. Not one.

Now, let us compare that to a charter. We will pick one… Delaware Academy of Public Safety and Security. This is a charter under the direction of one Charlie Copeland, heard of him? This school has 192 students, zero of them on low income. It has only 17 teachers. It averages close to the magic number; it has 12 students for each teacher. 23% of its teachers have a masters or above. It’s number of highly qualified teachers in English are 0%. It’s math is at 100%. So 100% of its students are being taught English by a teacher who is not “highly” qualified.

So let us jump to Newark Charter School. This is one that is always tooted by Charter School enthusiasts to promote their cause. It is the best of the best of the best. Yet the best of the best of the best falls behind Christina School District, considered by Murphy and his friend Jea Street, as the worst of the worst of the worst, with only a 91.3% highly qualified teaching staff in Reading and Language Arts, and only a 95.2% highly qualified staff in Mathematics.

The best of the best of the best is worse than the worst of the worst of the worst….

There is something really funny going on, when the official line from the Markell, Rodel staffed Department of Education is saying stuff being picked up by the News Journal and front paged… that its very own website contradicts!

So we take away $2.3 million from the Christina District that has students under 100% highly qualified teachers even in the poorest sections of town, a gigantic district where 61.7% of children come from low income homes, and give $2.3 million to Charters, representing 7.9% of Delaware’s students, who have do not have 100% highly qualified teachers and who have either a zero or 1/5 the percentage of low income household students that the Christina District forebears….

And we call that progress from the governor who wants to be known as the “Educational Governor.” ???

The fix is easy. Pay for charter schools by increasing the top tax rate to cover what charters need. Let Traditional Public Funds stay in traditional Public Schools. As Steve Newton pointed out which you all read, such was in the original RODEL Charter put together “back in the day.”…

If it was so good then, what’s wrong with it now? Let’s just do it and fix this education thing once and for all! Raise the income tax on the top marginal rate to cover the state’s cost of all charters.

No bill is perfect.  There is always something one thinks of at the end that needs tacked on. More minds are better than one….  Whereas SB 51 was pushed through too fast, and amendments were added at the last step, it makes sense to begin discussing them with this bill, HB 165 at its beginning….  The bill has a hearing before the House Education Committee on Wednesday at 2:30 ….

The members are:

Chairman:  Darryl M. Scott
Vice-Chairman: Kimberly Williams
Members: Michael A. Barbieri
Donald A. Blakey
Stephanie T. Bolden
Timothy D. Dukes
Debra J. Heffernan
Earl G. Jaques Jr
Harvey R. Kenton
John A. Kowalko Jr.
Joseph E. Miro
Edward S. Osienski
Charles Potter Jr.

That is what this thread is for….. Proposed Amendments to make it a solid piece of legislation.

The biggest issue with Charter Schools and why the issue is divisive is that Charter Schools take money away from public schools.   Many public schools are underfunded.  Decreasing their income further and giving that to Charter Schools, is controversial.

But, if no money gets taken away, then that issue becomes moot.  So hence this amendment.

(p) No new moneies being diverted to Charter Schools can come from the loss of any public school funding. Nor can they come from the closing of any pre-existing programs. All funds for Charter Schools must come from new assessed revenue that will be deposited within the State Treasury, which shall be increased by the amount expected to fund the Charter School’s demands.

If we want $50 million for Charter Schools, we increase the income tax on top earners to a percentage that gives us $50 million.  The funding for public schools is never touched and is completely independent upon whatever goes on with Charter Schools.

This way we can have our theoretical laboratory which tests out new ideas, and can implement the working ones into our public school system without penalizing the public school system to do so.

The top percentage doesn’t need their money.  If we need Charter Schools enough, that is where all Charter School funding should arise.  Not that school district’s property tax base.

There are enough votes in both the House and Senate to make this tiny change, which then moves us forward.

But, if we fail to do that… there are some alternatives not as pretty.

One, is to pick off the News Journal phrase, that since Charter Schools are Public Schools too, they should have teachers under the umbrella of the DSEA as well… So we should then add:

(q). All employees working for a Charter Organization, must be represented by the exact same union as their counterparts in the public school system.

This should help public and charter teachers communicate and spread ideas among themselves.  They will not be enemies trying to take each other’s job, but members of the same union having the exact same interests. ..

Another problem that has been expressed with this bill, is it is holding Charter Schools to an accountability that has not yet produced results.  It is new, and therefore experimental.

Therefore perhaps this wording change could clarify….

(r) The Charter School must meet all testing requirements expected of students in public schools.Their assessments shall be on the same test and taken during the same window of time.  All rules applying to Public Schools in regards to meeting the standards shall also apply to Charter Schools as well… 

Feel free to put more on the bottom.  I’ll move them up…   Keep in mind, we have 3 days.