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First the Con’s.

1) Your child will not get “a score”.

2) No data about your child will be sold to tele-marketers who could (for a fee) send information which could possibly help augment your child to do better his next year.

3) Your child’s teacher, school, district, will not get rated based on your child’s performance.

4) Your school may not meet the 95% testing rate required by the “OLD” No Child Left Behind Bill to give credibility to its ratings. The current bill states that 95% of a school’s students must take the test for it to have any legitimacy, but states now get to decide how to determine who the 95% gets to be… (One option is to allow parents to opt out prior to a posted deadline absolving them from being included in the pool of test takers.)

5) Opting out isolates the state from being the sole determiner of how your child is performing; forcing that important decision to be determined by a lowly teacher who only has just spent 180 days getting to really know your child.

6) If large numbers of people opt out, then we really won’t know how well schools and districts can perform on standardized tests. We will only be left with ancient methods of determination, such as all previous generations (including those currently serving in the General Assembly and Governor’s office) underwent as they progressed though both their elementary and secondary school systems.

7) Minorities and children of color who opt out will have to be rated by how well they did on classroom, homework, quizzes and teacher developed tests to see if they are ready to be passed to the next level. And teachers do not grade with the cold efficiency of a computer.

8) Testing companies will be cut off from large sources of income. To develop this test, $100 million inside Delaware was spent alone on all upgrades required. Loss of this income will hurt some fly-by-night companies currently located outside Delaware in right-to- work states causing them possibly to fold.

9) Think tanks like the Fordham Institute will be the laughing stock of all other think tanks if not all parents require their children to take the test as required.

10) Opting out skews the data. It becomes meaningless to use it because it no longer represents a real reflection of reality.

11) Legislators receiving kickbacks and underhanded payments from educational corporations and lobbyists, will have to find another source of external income, if the opt-out movement completely destroys the testing consortium’s ability to deliver decent product those tests get termed by their state legislatures.

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So you see, there are considerable concerns behind the movement to opt out ones child. One should be very careful before doing so because heavens, we can’t have our legislators lose external income, now, can we?

Therefore it is important that we also look at the pro’s, for this is a big decision for each parent and should not be taken lightly. The only way one can make a proper judgment over what is the best future course for your child, is to look at both side, ask yourself how this course affects your child’s future and then make a smart, balanced assessment.

So here are the pro’s for opting out….

1) Your child will not get “a score”. In certain situation, this can be very advantageous to your child. If all the scores from his peers are low, he gets the benefit of doubt and is assumed to be smarter than the rest because their is no data on him proving he isn’t. Therefore he is privy to every opportunity given to the elite of that school, because for all intents and purposes, he as an anomaly is better than those who performed negatively. Opt-outers get the better teachers, better courses, and better opportunities.

Why is getting no score a good thing? The answer is the test. You can take your child’s test here. The test is designed to discourage, demoralize and dishonor you son or daughter. You can see from the example that no real world skills are involved in its being taken.. It is all about knowing tricks, both verbal and mathematics. Instead of learning principles which one can apply across any discipline or any subject, ones learns a plethora of little tiny tricks such as this second grade one: “when subtracting eleven from a number, just subtract 10 first, then subtract one more.” Although simple in a one case scenario, it complicates later tasks involving multiple steps because instead of using one system to subtract all numbers, one if forced to use 10, one each for each number 1-10. Try it here: 4403 – 1211 = ……..

As everyone knows being put in a pool of potential selectees is fine if one is to be selected for a prize, therefore being picked is good. If one is being selected for a punishment however, being picked to be selected, is bad. The Smarter Balanced Test is more of a punishment than a prize. So not getting a score becomes more advantageous than getting a negative one.

2) No data about your child or his parents, will be sold to telemarketers who will cease at nothing to get you to buy their product. “No” is not an answer they understand. Opting-out is your only insurance that your dinners will not be interrupted, since private education companies were granted exemption status from the no-call lists you may have thought were a sufficient barrier. Furthermore prying eyes will not be able to discern the political, religious, or emotional leanings of his parent from his data he is forced to enter when taking the test.

3) Your child’s teacher, school, district, will not get rated based on your child’s performance on this standardized test. Standardized tests rating schools are a relatively new phenomenon. Everyone over age 25 went to school without them. We really don’t need them to determine if a school is working effectively or not. True they can provide some clarity, if the tests are handled in a proper manner. Such as having everyone run a mile around the school track will also determine who your best mile-distance runners are. However, rating a school by that method would be silly. And that is the whole argument behind rating a school by its Smarter Balanced scores. Just as not everyone is physically prepared to run a 4 minute mile, neither is everyone entering the school system at the kindergarten level on track to be college or career ready. Yet corporate reformers are using this very guideline to rank schools. If you are in a fat district your schools’ mile times are low. If you are in an exercising district, you’re ranked well and receive adulation and rewards for it. How well you were coached or taught, has no relevance to the equation. It is not measured on how well you improved, only how fast your tested mile-run was. Had Earl Jacques been rated by a physical program such as this, there is no way he’d graduate to meet proper credentials to be elected legislator from the 27th district, even if his constituents are brain dead from living so close to Cecil County.

4) Your school may not meet the 95% testing rate required by the “OLD” No Child Left Behind Bill to give credibility to its ratings. That is one of the founding principles of opting out. Parents who took the trial tests, realized this test was a stupid pile of crap (to express it politely).  Rating good teachers and good schools by a stupid pile of crap was not responsible adult behavior. Therefore if a parent could cause that stupid pile of crap to be ignored, they would be doing society, themselves, and their children a huge favor.   As we saw with the Priority School debacle put forth last year by Delaware’s DOE, if you have a good school that has low scores, you get kicked out, it gets privatized, and suddenly, your school is a crap-ass charter that can’t do anything right and closes mid-year. as did Delaware MET.  Preventing that from happening by keeping the test scores below 95% is a good thing… a very good thing.

Other tests are credible.. This one isn’t.  (Did you take it yet?)  Common Core and its tests are complete nonsense, difficult for adults to comprehend, impossible for children to follow, and the whole program needs to be shut down forcing us to return to tried and true ways of teaching that brought American society to the high level it is today. Parents who can muster more than 5% of their peers to also opt out, need to do exactly that…..

5) Opting out isolates the state from being the sole determiner of how your child is performing; leaving that important decision to be determined by a lowly teacher who only has just spent 180 days getting to really know your child.  Most parents prefer this.  A teacher knows what your child is missing. They know it very early and do not need to wait after a year to find out after that child has moved out of their class and up a grade. They know and can work with that child to grasp what they don’t know.  Everyone over age 18 was rated by a teacher.  No one in Delaware was held back due to their DSTP, or their DCAS.  If held back it was because their teacher felt they did not have sufficient building blocks to assemble concepts required of the next grade.  PSAT details now show that the United States provides the best educational results across every level of income in the entire world…. (the results showing we are behind were skewed; our affluent beat their affluent; they did not test their poor, whereas we did which of course pulls our average scores down)…

At stake is who in America is responsible for the education of your child? The parent?  The child?  The state?  If the state wants one thing and the parent wants another, who wins?  That is what this battle is over: who is the ultimate decider?  Are we a government for, of and by the people?  Or….. are we people put here simply for the privilege of our government?

This very fundamental American right and concept is  truly at stake here. If opting out is forbidden as 27th District’s Earl Jacques is wont to do, the Constitution of the United States becomes weakened by this precedent. The state (Federal Government) has become more important than any of the people making up this nation. Instead of government being an institution that supports its people’s right to earn their livelihood, it becomes the sole reason for these people’s existence. It becomes their king in essence, 240 years after we threw off that yoke in our Declaration of Independence.   We now must do this thing (Smarter Balanced Assessment)  because our King has decreed we must do this thing. Even though it hurts our children’s development. Failure to comply results in punishment.

Gone is our chance to decide what is best for our child.  Whether as parents we decide to let our child take or not take the test, should be decided upon the quality of the test, not a governor’s intransigence.  If these tests were good, there would be no controversy. But far too many parents have taken the test themselves and know this test is horrific for their child.

In a true America, shouldn’t they have the right and responsibility to raise their child correctly despite a well intentioned government getting it horribly wrong?  That at its core, is what Opt-Out is all about…  It is about Americans doing what is best for them, over what is best for their elected officials who made a big huge mistake initially backing a wrong program…

6) If large numbers of people opt out, then we really won’t know how well they can perform on standardized tests. ..Originally with Common Core there was supposed to be one test for all America.. Four states opted out.. therefore there would be five different tests. Then two consortia were formed, PARRC and the Smarter Balanced. There were then 6. Minnesota only took the ELA; they used their own math. So their were now seven standards.  Indiana dropped out, creating the eighth.  South Carolina created the ninth.  Oklahoma is creating the tenth. Most other states decided to create their own tests.  there are at least 26 different tests in effect. The new ESEA allows all states to make the determination over what they want to use as their assessment. We are back to every state testing to their own standards.  Score comparison this past year between Delaware and Ohio and Massachusetts and California is pointless.

Secondly, there are tricks to scoring well on standardized tests.  Those who take the SAT a second time invariably see a jump in scores because of knowledge gained from their past experience. This would not happen if the tests strictly measured ability. In fact, there are businesses who excel at teaching students “HOW” to take the SAT, citing the benefits their programs give those children in higher scores.  Scores not based on what they know, but based on their strategy in how they take the test.   Those not schooled in such principles rest at a disadvantage. This obviously is not a fair assessment.

However, sitting in a classroom for 180 days in front of the same teacher, does give an assessment that comes close to the mark of actual ability. Therefore opting out and ruining the results for all who didn’t, by dropping schools’ threshold below 95% is a valid way to remove at least the importance placed on standardized testing from our schools.  It is actually a good thing if we do not know how well schools do on standardized tests. It puts them in the same boat as all those students matriculating before state testing became the law of the land…. Instead of focusing on their “public” image, schools  get to return their focus on each of the individual students passing through.

7) Minorities and children of color who opt out will have to be rated by how well they did on classroom, homework, quizzes and teacher developed tests to see if they are ready to be passed to the next level.  No more will their fate be determined by a standardized test written in a foreign language.  Whereas no one has any difficulty understanding the back and forth dialogue in the movie Straight Outta Compton, for someone growing up in an urban environment it is hard to pass a test written in Midwestern English dialect with a sentence structure very different from English learned in minority households. The correct answer should be: “so what if we can’t speak Midwestern.”  If a top selling movie can use dialect and have instant auditory recognition across all segments of American society, this type of dialogue is sufficient for communication in mainstream America. One understands it; it is useful; it gets a point across.  But measuring ones ability to speak as a Midwestern white person of Norwegian/Swedish ancestry and using that as the one single sole determiner of ones English ability, is not very well thought out. There is an valid argument for it even being racist.  Whereas everyone knows blacks and Hispanics have endearing accents, those charms are dismissed by the Smarter Balanced Assessment. “No! You must talk like a white person. and not like a southern white person or a northern, or a western, but as a Midwestern person in order to score well on our ELA tests… ”
Of course. that is totally ridiculous. It is a flaw readily seen by  simply reversing the concept and imagining if we tested all America’s students using the Urban Dictionary as the source of all ELA definitions.  Our morally astute rural Midwesterners, instead of leading the pack would be pulling up its bottom. It is one thing to demand that English be spoken so that we have a nation that can understand each other. But to specify exactly how that English will be assessed for your individual score, when top selling movies make it obvious that for the purpose of communication a standard the equivalent of the King’s English is irrelevant, means this test is flawed.  It is actually unAmerican, because it imposes false standards which prevent all people from having an equal opportunity.

Point being, a teacher can effectively understand and pass a child who is smart, witty, engaging yet uses different dialect to their full advantage.  A computer gives them a score of 150 out of 800 possible on their ELA.

8) Testing companies will be cut off from large sources of income. This is money that prior to testing was spent on educating our students. Recently estimated at $1.7 billion across the US, that essentially averages out to $65 dollars extra spendable on each student…  Whereas we might be jaded at shrugging our shoulders over the cost of a meal at a casual dining chain restaurant, its impact on education can be readily seen if we simply look at its aggregate in one classroom of 20 students… $1300 dollars extra to be spent on that elementary grade’s classroom ( or $216 for each of 6 high school classrooms.)

Although DC moguls will be heart strung to see high priced career employees receive pick slips, one has to ask how can that money be better spent?  A) for drinking alcoholic beverages along Wisconsin Avenue in Georgetown? Or B) on children across America struggling to learn in schools struggling to fund themselves?  I may have a bleeding heart but I’ll side with the children every day.  Hopefully you will too and opt out your child to make this happen.

9) Think tanks like the Fordham Institute will be the laughing stock.  

And this is a bad thing?

10) Opting out skews the data.  If all special ed students opt out our score aggregate will be higher. If all minorities opt out, our scores will also be higher. If all affluent children opt out, our scores will be lower.  If lots of people opt out, taking the test becomes a useless exercise having no purpose at all. Apparently those insisting on maintaining these tests think we need more proof that test scores are determined by by the upbringing children have before they enter the school system.. If they enter respectful of knowledge they do well; if they enter dismissive of knowledge, they don’t.  But most of us believe the data from last year illuminated the problem rather well across all states, across all districts, across both private, charter and public education… High standard test scores are not affected by teaching skills. Over and over and over we saw they ran opposite to the amount of children listed as free lunch… Very few, your school had high scores.  Very many, your school had low scores.  it was ubiquitous across every category.  If there was an anomaly, it was accompanied by multiple erasures on the hard-copy tests.

So whereas opting out may skew the data from an aggregate of tests, poverty itself skews ones educational ability entirely.  It is impossible to isolate poverty from influencing education unless you first insist that there be no poor in America, that everyone has a livable wage and can work if not for an employer at least from home.  If we are going to raise our educational levels it must start with raising our nation’s standard of living.  If any good came out of the the Common Core testing regime, it is that we finally have evidence to show that without a doubt, the crises of education rests solely on the crises of having those living in poverty…… There is no doubt over the connection; there is only left, the avoidance of mentioning the real issue.

That said, there are many options.  The best one so far is that instead of insisting on high standard assessments, we focus on seriously letting no child fall behind.  That means we put more teachers in classrooms; that means a mandatory 11:1 student/teacher ratio in k-5 and 9th grade in any school with over a 50% poverty level.  That means abolishing the idea that all children enter school equal, and focus instead on making sure all children get the best possible opportunity to grow and develop during their 13 years of compulsory education.  In challenges like these, investing in human capital is better than trusting machines.  We need to realize this,  and empower human beings to solve it one pupil at a time.  Your opting out, will help make this happen.

11) Legislators receiving kickbacks and underhanded payments from educational corporations and lobbyists, will have to find another source of external income.  

They will cry. wring their hands, and wear sack cloth.

Screw them. Vote them out for they sold out your kids future to line their own pockets.

There is no reason for insisting on NOT allowing parents to opt out their children from standards assessments , ….except that they are somehow on the take, and doing so will somehow interfere with their personal accumulation of income.

Any politician who is against opting out… has a personal angle funneling your child’s misfortune directly into their or their friends billowing pockets.

THERE

IS

NO

OTHER

VALID

REASON

FOR

DISALLOWING

PARENTS

TO

OPT

OUT.

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Period.

 

 

 

Here is a teachers idea of how Common Core should be taught… ie, close reading of a text…

It is broken down into three readings… Reading one, Reading two, and Reading three.  To show grownups what this does to the joy of reading, another  Nancy Bailey (no relation to George) last year took the classic The Night Before Christmas, and after each paragraph, inserted the criteria required to teach in Common Core.

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.

STOP!

The First Reading

What is the main idea?
Summarize the passage I just read.
Do you have questions about what I read?
What did you hear?
What is this about?

The Second Reading

What text structures and text features were used?
What is the author’s purpose?
How does the author feel about the subject?
Why did the author use particular words and phrases?

The Third reading

What Inferences can you make?
How does the author support key points?
How does this relate to other texts you’ve read?
How does this relate to your life?
How does the author support key points?

——

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
while visions of sugar plums danced in their heads.
And Mama in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap.

STOP!

The First Reading

What is the main idea?
Summarize what I just read.
Do you have questions about what I read?
What did you hear?
What is this about?

The Second Reading

What text structures and text features were used?
What is the author’s purpose?
How does the author feel about the subject?
Why did the author use particular words and phrases?

The Third reading

What Inferences can you make?
How does the author support key points?
How does this relate to other texts you’ve read?
How does this relate to your life?
How does the author support key points?

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She ruins the entire poem.

Now, besides the irritability of having to stop one’s train of thought every stanza… look at some of the required discussion questions..

What is the main idea?….  Answer… Everyone was asleep… Do we really need to dissect a poem to infinity and beyond to understand that it is about late night when everyone is tired and going to sleep?

Duh.  Really how much more can we learn about everyone being asleep, something obviously heard and understood at first reading, by discussing it excessively in class?  Does this make children smarter and able to read better at some future point? Or does it teach them to play video games all day at home and not read at all?  Obviously it does the latter.

Another question:  what text structures and text features are used?  Excuse me… what is a ….. text structure…   How in hell have I been able to read and write my entire life without knowing what a…. “text structure” is?  Oh, of course I can guess… by saying the too obvious…

“Excuse me, teacher, is it the structure of the text?”

“Why very good kavips, you nailed it exactly… The text structure is the structure of the text”….

“Ma’am?”

“Why yes little kavips.”

“So how is this text structured, can we see it?  What supports what, like on a bridge?  You know how the bottom holds up the top?  So where is the structure in this?”

“I’m sorry, little kavips… no one knows… You see English is a living language changing every day, and if there was structure that was too tight, it couldn’t change… ”

“But what IS the structure, can you explain it to me?”

“No. it is unexplainable. It IS after all, Common Core”

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In the old days we used to diagram sentences.  That was visual and real and very helpful in understanding adverbs and participial phrases.  We don’t do that any more… All we get is one teacher’s goofy definition of structure she pulls of the top of her head since it is never explained, which is different from all other teacher’s definitions of structure.. So much for “one” curriculum.

—-

Whereas this curriculum may have a place in some specialized field of literary English criticism, perhaps Harvard…  the intellectual movement that Common Core’s ELA forces on children, “only focus on the text”, was debunked as a critical movement back in 1949.. The world has moved on…

All but David Coleman, the founder of Common Core.

Dare you. Read the poem all the way through, answer every question. (No adult will, but yet we thrust it on our children because they have no power of complaint) … then, opt out your child so Common Core disappears after this year and your children again can learn that learning about what is cool, is fun.

In the meantime, next year (2016) pay attention to our General Assembly.

Look for a:

Bill to replace the Smarter Balanced Assessment

Bill to replace Common Core  curriculum with Delaware’s own standards.

Bill to fund Charter School by line items in state budgets and not allow them to steal money from good public schools and bad.

Bill to minimize Standard test results to only 5% weight on a teachers evaluation, making it a factor of no consequence except in borderline cases.

Bill to raise taxes only on  the top 1% of the state’s revenue earners, to be used to fill in budget gaps looming so large they call loudly for drastic cuts, all unnecessary if taxes just get raised on the top one percent…

 

 

 

 

We’ve all heard the myth, and many of us may have once believed it….

“Damn teachers unions are the biggest problem with education; they allow bad teachers to stay in position, not be fired, and the good teachers have to quit or go to other opportunities… This lowers teaching quality.”

If someone says it forcefully we nod in agreement because in our job site, we know of people who probably should be replaced by someone younger and with more energy. So without thinking, we take it as truth….. and echo:  yea! Those damn lazy teachers unions….

If we gave it any thought, there might be some initial questions popping up in our heads…

For one, why do states with strong union laws have much brighter children than states who boast of their non-union environment?  Its true. Massachusetts and Minnesota are two of the top, the South is almost all at the bottom.

For two, we must question why would teachers who were trashed and paid less, be able to teach better than teachers who were rewarded by their strong union’s negotiating power, and financially comfortable?

For three, we have to look at who with plenty of teachers to choose from, would give job security and tenure  to bad teachers, while the good teachers got fired early and sent on their way?

So.

When “thought” gets applied toward this myth, it “pokes holes in it real quick”.

But really it always got chalked up to one person’s theory versus another… If you didn’t like unions,  you supported the anti-union clause because there was no evidence to prove you wrong.  If you didn’t like bosses, you supported the solidarity of union membership and there was no evidence to prove you wrong… And the argument went back and forth…

Guess what?

An exhaustive comprehensive study was done on one third of the nation’s teachers and their evidence shows that strong unions increase the quality of teachers, and right to work policies, decrease the quality of teachers… 

They studied data from schools, districts, and states in union areas and compared them to other schools, districts, and states in right to work areas. And the data fell right in line with what common sense as shown in the three questions above, would predict…..

They also found out why.  Here is what happens in a strong unionized district.

The data confirms that, compared to districts with weak unionism, districts with strong unionism dismiss more low-quality teachers and retain more high-quality teachers. The empirical analysis shows that this dynamic of teacher turnover in highly unionized districts raises average teacher quality and improves student achievement.

Recently events allowed a test of this hypothesis.  Four states changed from mandatory collective bargaining to right to work.  Wisconsin, Indiana, Idaho, and Tennessee. If there was no effect by unions, their scores, their graduation rates, their teacher attrition, their overall teacher quality, would stay the same.

They didn’t.  All four dropped downward since they barred collective bargaining showing that in the real world this myth has nothing backing it.

Strong union schools have higher salaries than weak union schools. Strong union districts have lower teacher attrition than weak union districts, but actually have more firings for quality reasons, than schools in non-union states, who can’t afford to fire teachers because of their higher attrition rate. They struggle to get enough teachers in their schools as it is.

Likewise the percentage of teachers entering the educational profession through an “alternative certification program”(emergency-only help) is much lower in strong union areas, and much higher in strong right to work areas.

When packaged together, the empirical evidence aligns with the hypothesis that children in strong union areas, receive better teaching than in areas of less union activity….

We always knew it; now we can prove it.

 

 

 

I was recently reminded of this because I just saw Charter Schools in Washington state have their state funding cut off today.  They are scrambling to find alternative sources among private donors…

We should revisit exactly why the Supreme Court in Washington decided Charter Schools do not belong in public education, and must be defunded at once.

Washington’s Supreme Court ruled Charters were unconstitutional because the state’s high court ruled that charter schools do not qualify as “common” schools—basically, public schools—in part because they are not governed by voter-elected school boards, but rather by appointed boards.

Without that designation, charter schools weren’t eligible for the funding they expected to get, and the court reasoned that voters would never have approved the creation of charter schools in a 2012 ballot initiative if there was no money to pay for them…

Let me explain why this is different from hiring a private construction company to build a road.  In that case the population tax money goes into a general fund.  We elect representatives whose job it is to decide how to spend those public funds.  Therefore indirectly due to our hiring of the legislator, we have input on how our money is spent. Which basically is the argument for independence outlined in the Declaration of Independence.  We were taxed without representation.

Charters differ because they are funded per student.  That means public money follows the student away from public schools to private schools.

This obviously hurts public schools.

If Republicans wanted to start a Corrupt Moral Values Charter School to obfuscate truisms from sheltered public,  they would get public funding, they would get approval, they would recruit students from among the sheltered public, and with each student they would receive public funds.

But the taxpayer who pays that money for his own school, has some of that taken away and sent to the private charter school. That money loses their right to impact how it gets spent because a private board then decides how it is allotted. Which is about as un-American as it gets.

Therefore Charter Schools are unconstitutional... as long as they are funded as currently.  But if they were funded by a line item in the state’s budget, then like any other government outlay, we would have imput through our elected representative…..

 

Many people don’t have a clue about what education entails. To them, simple appeals may be deemed to have some merit.

But in reality, simple solutions even in our own lives, which are often offered at the drop of a hat by our own relatives,  are way too simplistic to work….  Beware of the same in education.

If anyone says any of these following three things, they are not to be trusted. They cause more harm than good.

Merit pay for teachers. Judging teachers’ merit—and pay—based on their students’ test scores is a particularly meritless notion that resurfaces regularly…. Simply put, all it does is it reward mediocre teachers who luck into teaching at affluent neighborhood schools, and terminates excellent teachers who got the short stick by being in a poverty school…  The test scores are based on affluence only.. Lots of nurturing as a child = higher scores; hardships as a child = low scores.

A three-year experiment by the National Center on Performance Incentives at Vanderbilt University spent more than $1.7 million to give bonuses to selected teachers in Nashville, Tenn., schools, and found, overall, that students of teachers who didn’t get the money performed as well as students of teachers who did.

A similar three-year program in New York City—a beloved initiative of former Mayor Michael Bloomberg—spent $56 million in group bonuses, but was halted in 2011, after outside researchers found that it had had no effect on student performance. Texas dropped its merit-pay program in 2013.

Since no one becomes a teacher to get rich, it would be logical to assume that educators would not be strongly motivated by a financial incentive. But people for whom money is the ultimate reward—a description that fits much of the Wall Street/hedge fund “school reform” crowd—just won’t believe the truth, even when it is before their eyes.

Scapegoating teachers for schools’ poor performance. It is an prime axiom of the reform movement that teachers are the prime cause whenever a school is struggling, and that it is vital to get rid of a stubborn cadre of veteran instructors who have tenures and can’t be fired or won’t leave. Anyone associated with Rodel has directly swallowed this harmful axiom.  The first step of our six turnaround schools was to be the firing of all teachers and only rehiring 50%…  Calmer heads prevailed fortunately.

Studies show one doesn’t need to fire teachers in a low scoring school. They flee on their own.  Personnel records show priority schools from 2010 to 2015, just five years, have on the average only 20% of their original staff remaining.  The others fled to other schools in that same area. Meaning that the newest teachers are thrown to the wolves first, and given assignments in inner city schools where teachers of experience are most needed.  Again, the myth that test scores determine teaching ability, leads policy sharply to towards the wrong result.

The irrepressible fictions of the charter movement. No myth in the modern school reform narrative is more pervasive than the idea that charter schools have somehow solved the riddle of public schools and poor children.  Even in Delaware where the Charter bubble only recently resurfaced under the political protection by the Markell camp,  there are still people scratching their heads over how can it be that Charters cannot even come close to performing as well as the same public schools these people have spent their lives disparaging.

Charters nationwide do not have significantly better test scores than public schools with similar populations. Charters in New York City—now 10 percent of the school population, thanks to Mayor Bloomberg’s devotion to their cause—overall score below the citywide average in reading.

The more “successful” a charter school, the more likely it can be found to employ some or all of the following tactics:

Enrolling significantly fewer of the highest-need students than neighborhood public schools, including the homeless, English-language learners, and those with the most serious physical and learning disabilities.

 Forcing struggling students to leave. A recent New York Times investigation found that one Success Academy charter school in Brooklyn had a “got to go” list of students the principal was determined to get rid of; what’s more, as such students leave—by expulsion, counseling out as bad “fits,” or because the family is moving—some charters refuse to admit new children to replace them, a strategy that keeps scores up.

Adjusting the definition of “poor.” While charter students tend to be poor, a close analysis reveals that in many successful charters a significant percentage of students are significantly less poor than the local average. Given the importance of family income in determining test scores, this gives them a marked statistical advantage over their peers in standardized testing.

70 percent of the public school students in New York City are poor under federal guidelines. Tens of thousands of them are reading and doing math at levels equal to or exceeding those in charter schools. The only secret that charter schools seem to have discovered is how to charm the wealthy and well-connected, and how to promote themselves to people who would rather embrace myth that makes them feel good, than carefully weigh the facts.

The next time you hear anyone use these axioms, whether it be the House Educational Committee, a Rodel press engagement, an editorial in the News Journal, or a governor on the Rick Jensen show……. challenge them… Say “that’s not true. That goes against Common Sense.  Show us the proof that what we know is a myth, is really true…  Where after 30 years of corporate reform in education, is the proof of your side?”

We have the proof for our side.

 

YOU MUST RESIDE IN THE 27TH REPRESENTATIVE DISTRICT.

Battle Ground XXVII

Whether you register as a Republican or Democrat, your incumbent has been considerably weakened last year and this.

Here is what you will have behind you.

Financial resources of the Delaware PTA organization, consisting of parents and teachers from North Claymont to Southern Fenwick Island who deeply care for all children and want them to learn, not jump through meaningless hoops that curtail their development.

Backing from the DSEA teachers’ union, including financial resources and unlimited manpower…

Additional backing from regional teachers unions, such as the Red Clay and Christina local collections who would bend earth and water to replace Earl Jacques with someone who actually cares about kids.

National publicity and financial support from anti-Common Core affiliations sprouting up across America, including some well known like the BadAss Teachers association, and Diane Ravitch, who follow Delaware’s actions through its excellent blogs.

The power of hundreds of thousands of holy prayers rising upwards and a few financial resources from parents absolutely incensed over how the Smarter Balance Assessments manipulates their child to feel stupid when they aren’t,  and who read widely of how almost every other states is running away from Common Core but yet see this incumbent using his leadership position solely to block each, all and every reform.

Support from all the significant editorialists and newscasters in this state, who will give you unlimited access to get your message out. That would include BOTH Rick Jensen and Al Mascitti on WDEL who would do so, because you are fighting a common enemy: corporate interference into public education. .

Here are your incumbent’s crimes……

Authored and pushed forward a charter bill (HB165) which removes $21 million of your dollars our of your school district and gives it to charters scattered all over the state.

Refused to allow the Opt Out Bill out of his committee though it had 52 of 62 (82%) of our General Assembly supporting it.

Called parents pussys because they were afraid of a “little” old test.

Consistently votes for those rights and financial concerns of international corporations over any concerns from people living on Cann Ave.. his own street.

Is personally responsible for the Smarter Balanced Assessment being given to your children.

But the main crime despite all these horrible issues,  is that as chair of the House Educational Committee, he had multiple chances to act to return Delaware to a much better test, and did nothing….

The fact he does nothing in his leadership position, is the prime reason he needs to be kicked out.  We need someone who does SOMETHING!

Voters in the 27th have lately been ill served. Especially if they have children.  No other candidate anywhere in this state can garner this much support so early on. Not even our Representatives in Washington!

Please hear our calls.

Run, run, run….. Voters in the 27th are desperate for any, any other option, regardless of party affiliation…  We will support Democrats who run against him.  We will support Republicans who run against him…. We will support Independents who run against him..

If you are a mom or dad… please, please, please run.  It is really not hard to do at all.  Again, all the experts above can guide you through the process.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lavelle said he’ll use the attorney general’s feedback to determine whether there are loopholes regarding theft of public funds and whether state laws need to be changed.”

Of course there are loopholes in the law… It is called Chapter 5 in Title 14… subheading… “Charter Schools”…

If you give schools total freedom to control all their money and disallow any oversight by anyone, then whatever they do with it,  is legal…  You gave them the freedom to do that.. Below is the quote:

To that end, this chapter offers members of the community a charter to organize and run independent public schools, free of most state and school district rules and regulations governing public education, as long as they meet the requirements of this chapter, and particularly the obligation to meet measurable standards of student performance. Schools established under this chapter shall be known as “charter schools.”

continued…..

Consistent with its charter and the provisions of its certificate of incorporation, bylaws or membership agreements, the board of directors of a charter school or schools shall, as to each charter that the board holds, have the power to:

(2) Determine its own budget and operating procedures;

Meaning if any charter feels it needs to have a Mercedes for its head honcho in order to compete with Tower Hill or Sanford, it can do so.

Though what these operators did was immoral and a theft of public funds for private use, they did not break the law… because the law is so poorly written it allows this……

Which is why, we need to fund charters only with line items in the state budget, for then different rules apply and we can try in court and punish those who unlike these… “actually” broke a law….

Title 14, Chapter 5, is very specific: stating that Charters can use the funds anyway they wish and laws preventing such, imposed on public school s by their districts, do not apply to them…..

Which is why it is rather funny that Greg Lavelle said this…. as a charter supporter….  He apparently doesn’t know that is what a charter is.

 

 

Our core commitment to education needs to be more than creating efficiencies among the various school districts; it must ensure our children learn to the best of their ability. Just as the Nemours Foundation does each day with student health, we must challenge old assumptions, if we are to deliver better results for our children and better performance from our schools.

I’ve talked with thousands of parents and teachers about how to improve education for our children, and the same answers emerge: We need to let Delaware’s dedicated and talented teachers teach. We need to get parents more involved. We need to push individual decisions down to the school level. We need to measure student progress throughout the year, not just at the end of the year. This year, under the leadership of Senate Education Committee Chair Dave Sokola and House Education Chair Terry Schooley, working with Lt. Governor Matt Denn and Secretary Lillian Lowery, we propose legislation that makes three critical changes:

First, it’s time to eliminate the Delaware Student Testing Program. We will replace it with a testing program that measures student progress over the course of a school year. Currently, my daughter gets her DSTP results when the school year is over. This does not help her learn and does not help her teachers adjust to her needs. It does not measure the progress of individual students or the excellence of any particular teacher. Our new system will offer far greater insight into what a student brings to class on the first day and what they need to learn so they can end the school year with the skills required to succeed.

Second, with money saved from moving investments from the back room to the classroom, we will reward excellence in education by paying the state’s highest-performing teachers more and better, reward truly great teachers in high-risk schools.

Third, we will offer greater flexibility to our local schools, so they can better solve problems and encourage them to be more innovative. In exchange for this freedom, districts will be held more accountable for results and will need to be more transparent in how they spend state money.

But education must not end with a diploma. To ensure our financial and economic foundation, while we better educate our children for a brighter future tomorrow, we must continue to educate our current workforce today and create an economic climate where businesses and employees can thrive across a range of industries.

Oh…. the irony 7 years later….. I was tempted to insert  red  rebuttals to snark all the wayward actions  taken in the opposite direction from this vision, but… you don’t need me to see that…

Score-point changes between 2013 and 2015 for fourth-grade public school students assessed in NAEP mathematics, by state/jurisdiction

Delaware's NAEP change

Our NAEP performance was really bad.. We almost tied for the second worst loss. (Thank heavens for Lillian Lowery’s Maryland for taking the greatest loss since 2013. Sending her across the Mason Dixon line paid off.)

The reason this is significant is because Common Core curriculum and methods, is all 4th Graders know… Students in the Fourth Grade in 2015, were in Third Grade in 2014, Second Grade in 2013 and first Grade in 2012…. When compared to our 8th Graders below, their score drop is double and drastic.

Delaware naep 8th grade drop

Though our state’s math scores dropped in 8th Grade, it is nowhere nearly as bad as other states .  These Delawarean 8th graders only had three years of common core.  Which means the first five years were under good educational policy and it was that strong base which put them at advantage over those states simply struggling financially to get their buses to run every day

Comparing these two charts and backtracking the students’ development to find the expanse of time they suffered under Common Core, leads to the startling conclusion:  Common Core is bad for achieving results…

The DOE knew this as early as 2012, when our state’s test results showed quite plainly that students in Common Core pilot classes had considerable drops in their DCAS scores from the previous year, whereas their peers being taught “old school”, had continuous gains.

Why that was never brought to legislator’s attention, or the News Journal’s, or the public, … is open to speculation.

4th Grade NAEP gain or loss (2015-2013)

NAEP map of 4th grade mathNAEP map of 8th Grade

8th Grade NAEP Gain or Loss (2015-2013)

Maps don’t lie.. Common Core has failed America….. So, why have no Delaware legislators put forth legislation removing the Smarter Balanced and replacing it with our own test, one created by our own teachers?

That is a puzzling question.  One could see if they were lied to, why they might originally trust the only source of information available.  But now, Murphy is gone. Truth is out. Evidence exists. We have the proof by the “nation’s report card” that Common Core is not just neutral, but dangerous.

So why has no one put forth a bill to undo the damage by getting rid of the Smarter Balanced Assessment, making this its last year?

By continuing to only do what we always have, we only get the same results we always got…

 

 

Having a positive mindset in math may do more than just help students feel more confident about their skills and more willing to keep trying when they fail; it may prime their brains to think better.

Of the children in the study, 47 were asked to either stare at a fixed point or identify whether a series of addition problems were correct while being scanned using functional magnetic resonance imaging, or fMRI, a noninvasive method of identifying brain activity by measuring changes in blood flow in the brain.

Professor Chen and his colleagues found that students with higher positive-mindset levels in math were more accurate at identifying correct and incorrect math problems, even after controlling for differences in IQ, age, working memory, reading ability, and math anxiety.

A lower positive-mindset level was likewise associated with lower math performance….

Students with high positive-mindset levels had generally greater brain activity in a number of areas of the brain associated with math problem-solving: the hippocampus, the left dorsomedial prefrontal cortex, the left supplementary motor area, the right lingual gyrus, and the dorsal cerebellum. In particular, the researchers found faster, smoother connections, called “upregulation” between the hippocampus—an area often associated with the ability to quickly remember math facts and processes—and the other brain areas associated with math problem-solving.

Common Core is designed to give children a lower positive-mindset level.. That is its whole purpose.  Take children struggling to jump over a 3 foot high jump, raise the bar to 5 feet, berate the children on their performance, and fire the coach because the same number who could jump a 3 foot high jump, couldn’t muster the 5 foot one…

How does that make a child feel.  How does that make you feel?

Hence their focus on rigor and grit.  Nicer words than “child torture”, I’ll admit, but still having the same meaning…

This study suggests that the wiring of our brains is such that when we have a positive mental attitude, we perform better….

Duh…

But at least there is a study now that has data to prove it… The corporate education reformers who suggest  that having a prison-like atmospheres in their schools, who are keen on making little children suffer, who get so excited they perspire when they talk of failing 70% of America’s students…  still have zero evidence that their solution has ever borne results… All they have is theory.

So now, we evidence that backs common sense; evidence that debunks Common Core… It’s lightweight. It’s the first.  But still it is evidence that pursuing the Smarter Balanced Assessments past 2016, will drop Delaware even lower in Math than it is already….

It is ironical that on the NAEP, often called the nation’s report card… recently in the news for its collapse and the negative direction its results .. did have bright spots that continued the historical gains the NAEP had always shown up until now…  .but they came from states not doing Common Core… Those states jumping into Common Core most aggressively (Delaware is one) had the greatest losses over 2013….

So evidence is mounting… Common Core is bad.  Smarter Balanced Assessments take us in the wrong direction, and the only reason we went down this path, was because someone connected with it was going to get rich one day….

(or get mentioned on Chuck Todd broadcast as a person-to-be-watched.)

 

 

 

 

 

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