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This is a homework assignment given to one Delawarean student. I published this before, but since many are now tuning in for the first time, here it is again…. The original story began with how a student was upset they would not be covering Shakespeare this year. When a parent asked at open house, the answer was: “We’re doing common core this year. It is a very structured learning process. We won’t be reading literature this year”. This is what they read instead.


“Inventory” was almost here. Miguel had to count all the product on his shelves. He didn’t have time. In the morning deliveries came and had to be stocked and rotated. Once he opened his doors, he had to handle customers, and never was a time that no one was in the building. Then in the evening, he had to stay to make sure his evening shift was running smoothly. His assistant came in at five, and Miguel would wait to make sure all staff was present and accounted for, that no manpower shortages would occur, and that all equipment was working properly, before he could leave. He started every day at 5 am…”










From Shakespeare to this….. Welcome to Common Core, ladies and gentlemen.

Kendall Massett wrote a piece in todays News Journal. “It’s time to change the conversation on charter schools.”

The point behind the article was that charter schools do some great things too.

It reminded me of a middle aged executive who fell in love with his secretary, and had carried on an affair over years while maintaining his family status, buttressed with a wife and two sons. Who, now that the news was out was sitting with her on her bed, head in hands, looking at losing all in a divorce settlement, being banned from his kids, losing his job on a morality clause, and now, with no future in front of him, for the first time, accepting his responsibility in what he’d done…. Looking at the tears streaming down his face and through his hands, his young, voluptuous secretary tries to console him… “Well, it’s not ALL bad.. Look at it this way… At least the sex was good…”

Kendall Massett’s assertion that we must continue Charter Schools because some good may come out of it, in itself is a losing argument. It ignores the bad. When making decisions, one can’t ignore the bad.

I have found the best way to explain the “charter school versus public school problem” is with a parable. Go figure, but most people will grasp a parable when facts, figures and numbers roll off their eyes and out their ears.

“Once upon a time, there was a loving single dad. A dad who was blessed with one child. He was poor, still paying off the funeral bills for his former wife and the kid’s mother. But they got along ok. There was enough to live on and that’s what they did. However one thing bothered this dad. Being with only one child, the dad had nothing to compare that child to. He questioned himself. Was this dad doing everything he could for his child? So the dad, had a great idea. He would adopt another son of the same age, so they two could compete together. Which ever was the best, would get rewarded first and through the competition his son would eventually get the best upbringing he possibly could. What the Dad did not figure upon, was that feeding two kids cost more than one. He only had enough to feed one. So he came up with a plan that which ever son did better at running around the block each morning got to eat first, and the other got to eat what was left over. Every morning, rain or shine, at 5:30 am, the race would occur. Knowing what was at stake both sons tried their best. Sometimes one won. Sometimes the other. But the Dad began to grow concerned because he was timing the races. Originally he had to rush to get the food ready before the first one burst in. But over time, the found he had more and more and sometimes plenty of time to set the table before the first would come through the door. For some unknown reason, they were running slower and slower and slower. He invited an expert in to see why? The expert asked what he fed the first kid when they were alone. It amounted to 1000 calories. The expert said… “Ah Ha” You are feeding two people on what you fed one. No matter how much running they do, together they can never do what originally one was able.

Kendall Massett doesn’t cover this issue. Obviously common sense would decree that if we are going to have charter schools, we need to fund them independently and not take away the funds from public schools. Trying to make someone do better with less resources may be possible on a percentage scale, but the overall result, will be a loss. If charter schools want to experiment with private or parochial funding, and people want to go there, excellent. We have choice. Likewise, if we increase taxes on the top 1% just to pay the entire budgets of charter schools so that then we can experiment, great, let’s do it and have choice. But to expect better results on half the calories, is impossible. And that is the expectation of what charters will do.

This study of next door Philadelphia, shows that test scores in Philly were collectively higher when there were NO charter schools, then when there were. Meaning that allowing Charter schools to come in and compete with Philly public schools, lowered Philadelphia’s cumulative test score average…. Simply put, in any other venue when two teams compete, they both have independent sponsors. Splitting ones resources to fund two teams competing against each other, well… common sense tells you that when they go up against other teams whose funding was unlimited… they are going to lose badly…

Finally one other factor in Kendall’s piece that burns. When an scientist does experimentation, he throws out all those episodes where something goes wrong and his hypothesis doesn’t work. When you experiment in education, all that “stuff” you throw out, is our own children.

“Here are the guts of SB 51… The cuts are in one color, and the add ons are in another….

” …has achieved a passing score on both a content-readiness exam and a performance assessment as specified by the Department no later than July 1, 2015,” Added.

, except that this provision shall not apply to applicants seeking an initial license to teach in a core content area. For the purposes of this section, “core content area” means any subject area tested by the state assessment system, including Mathematics, English/Language Arts, Science, and Social Studies.  “Added

 “an initial license may be issued to an applicant who meets all other requirements for initial licensure except for passage of the PRAXIS I exam, provided that the applicant must pass PRAXIS I within the period of time from the date of hire to the end of the next, consecutive fiscal year. If proof of passage of PRAXIS I has not been provided during the time period specified, the initial license will be suspended unless the superintendent of the school district submits to the Secretary of Education a written request for a 1-year extension. The request must also document the effectiveness of the applicant.”  Cut

 An applicant seeking an initial license to teaching the secondary content area of Math Mathematics or English/Language Arts must also meet the achieve a passing score on the corresponding section of Praxis I. The Department may also require that an applicant achieve a passing score on both a content-readiness exam and performance assessment. The assessments and the passing scores shall be approved by the Department, and shall be developed or identified in collaboration with Delaware educators. ” added.

” This requirement shall apply to all applicants teaching special education in a core content area, as defined in § 1210 of this title, in secondary schools”  added.

The Department shall recognize a professional status certificate or standard certificate that is otherwise valid if issued prior to August 31, 2003. The Department shall also recognize a limited standard certificate or a temporary certificate issued prior to August 31, 2003, provided that the educator successfully completes the requirements set forth in the limited standard certificate or the temporary certificate.” cut.

And this entire passage was added….

Subchapter VIII. Education Preparation Programs

§ 1280. Educator Preparation Program Approval.

(a) Consistent with § 122 of this title, no individual, public or private educational association, corporation, or institution, including any institution of post-secondary education, shall offer an educator preparation program for the training of educators to be licensed in this State without first having procured the assent of the Department for the offering of such programs. A program approval process based on standards adopted pursuant to this section must be established for educator preparation approval programs, phased in according to timelines determined by the Department, and fully implemented for such programs in the State. Each program shall be approved by the Department based upon significant, objective, and quantifiable performance measures.

(b) Each teacher preparation program approved by the Department shall establish rigorous entry requirements as prerequisites for admission into the program. At a minimum, each program shall require applicants to:

(1) Have a grade point average of at least a 3.0 on a 4.0 scale or a grade point average in the top 50th percentile for coursework completed during the most recent two years of the applicant’s general education, whether secondary or post-secondary; or

(2) Demonstrate mastery of general knowledge, including the ability to read, write, and compute, by achieving a minimum score on a standardized test normed to the general college-bound population, as approved by the Department.

Each educator preparation program may waive these admissions requirements for up to 10% of the students admitted. Programs shall implement strategies to ensure that students admitted under such a waiver receive assistance to demonstrate competencies to successfully meet requirements for certification.

(c) Each teacher preparation program approved by the Department shall incorporate the following:

(1) A clinical residency component, supervised by high quality educators, as defined by the Department. The clinical residency shall consist of at least ten weeks of full-time student teaching. Clinical experiences shall also be interwoven throughout and aligned with program curriculum.

(2) Instruction for prospective elementary school teachers on research-based strategies for childhood literacy and age-appropriate mathematics content;

(3) Ongoing evaluation of students, consisting of no less than an annual evaluation, aligned to the statewide educator evaluation system;

(d) Each teacher preparation program approved by the Department shall establish rigorous exit requirements, which shall include but not be limited to achievement of passing scores on both a content-readiness exam and a performance assessment.

(e) Education preparation programs administered by institutions of higher education shall collaborate with the Department to collect and report data on the performance and effectiveness of program graduates. At a minimum, such data shall measure performance and effectiveness of program graduates by student achievement. The effectiveness of each graduate shall be reported for a period of 5 years following graduation for each graduate who is employed as an educator in the State. Data shall be reported on an annual basis. The Department shall make such data available to the public.

(f) The Department shall promulgate rules and regulations governing educator preparation programs pursuant to this subchapter in collaboration with Delaware educators.”  Added.

Section 3. The effective date of this Act shall be July 1, 2014.

Here is the bill in full….

And here is the Delaware code for that same passage as it stand now, before any changes get wrought…..

Ok, done… Sounds good right?  Well for most it does.  But… some of us have inquiring minds. and since there are no National Enquirers on newstands this time of night, these changes here will have to be the object that absorb our attentions….

For example…

At first glance it appears that before one could still teach first and take the Praxis later.  Now one must take the Praxis first, period.  My problem with this is that if a super-great student teacher trains in one school, and that school is aware of an upcoming vacancy and really wants that teacher to fill it, they can’t until the Praxis is first taken.  Now one doesn’t walk in to take the Praxis, … or do they?  One has to wait, like we did back when we took our SAT’s, until the test is being offered.  That means this school which had a great chance at acquiring an awesome teacher, one they knew and wanted, must hire someone else who is a complete stranger to them, and who may not have as good of qualifications as did their own student teacher who they hoped could get that job.  Under the old bill, she could have worked and taken the test when it was offered.  Now, she can’t.  An amendment could solve this!

Secondly.  It appears that the old bill grandfathered anyone who has a certificate from before August 2003.  With a stroke of a pen, those are no longer valid.  I see some issues here.  I see a home economics teacher, who is impossible to replace (who learns home economics in college anymore?)  now at age 63 having to take todays recertification exams.  As a normal human being, I can barely remember most of my education because I don’t use it.  Today I pride myself on still being able to figure out my kids algebra. Woo Hoo!  Back in class our exam was to start from scratch and prove Einsteins theory of General Relativity; I can’t even begin to start it now….  Forgive me for being cynical here, but this just looks like a vehicle to remove someone before retirement sets in.   At most, a person in this capacity has been teaching for 10 years.  If you didn’t fire them in ten years because they were so good, you are planning on firing them now?  Is it because they make too much and you can hire someone cheaper?  Is it because if you remove them before retirement, you can cut back on the pensions they have saved up?  I don’t know this so I’m asking, but do we make Doctors take their MCAT’s over again in their old age?  We don’t?  Why not?  They are dealing with life and death.  What if they made a mistake and gave us 40 milligrams because they added 2.0 plus 2.o and missed the decimal points, giving us 40?  We don’t test them for a reason.  Because they know more already than the tests can check.  And why don’t we make lawyers take their LSAT’s over again?  Our OWN Attorney General had to take his Delaware Bar exam 3 times before he squeaked in over  the 154 benchmark.  He’s our Attorney General for heavens sakes!!!  Surely we should test HIM once a term maybe?  If he’s good, he should whiz through it… Hell, give him the Delaware Bar right now and let’s pull him if he doesn’t get a passing score… After all, if he can’t muster it, he shouldn’t practice law, ..right?  I don’t know this so I’m asking… So why don’t we test lawyers, like we are going to do teachers?

Because its just plain stupid that is why.  You test those to determine who gets in, and once they get in, their time needs to be spent on the tasks at hand, not focused on retaking test they’ve already taken….  Requiring ongoing multiple tests is as sensible as selling your stock and buying it back yourself just to say you don’t have any old stock… It’s  costing you a lot  in commissions to do so.

Passage of this bill allows for the removal of tenured teachers who after teaching all this time, can’t pass the exam…..  Something none of us could do, no matter how successful we are in our current careers.  By the way.  Did Mark Murphy have to pass a competency test as would these teachers,  before he took office?   Let’s give him the Praxis today and make his position dependent upon its passage.  If he fails to accept the challenge, then obviously, there is something wrong in this bill.  Although set in talk of raising standards,  there belies intent behind this bill to arbitrarily remove people the Department does not like…

Again, an amendment grandfathering this group, similar to the one before, can solve this problem.

Thirdly… and forgive me for going into this, but flat out… this is vague.  “Each program shall be approved by the Department based upon significant, objective, and quantifiable performance measures.”  And that’s it.  No explanation.  What are or will be the performance measures?  As Steve points out, we have considerable measures currently in place.  We receive excellent teachers from our current crop of schools. So what exactly will be the significant, objective, and quantifiable measures? ( Playing devils advocate here, but the language is so vague, it could apply)  Do you have to be white?  Do you have to be a woman?  Do you have to be willing to work for $15,000 a year?  Do you have to be willing to work with no pension?   So how are you going to rate Del Tech’s teaching, Del State’s teaching, UDel’s teaching any differently than you do now?  If someone comes from Harvard,  how do you measure that, without telling us how you are measuring that?  We used to have to measure intelligence at the polls to vote. We thought is was funny to ask a white boy who was the president of the United States, and a black boy what the square root of 32 was to the 4th decimal place…  yes, it created lots of laughter.  But that is exactly what this legislation is creating.  An impartial, willy-nilly, capricious standard that can let some through the door, and close it on others…  Where is the standard?  If we don’t have it, why are we voting on something we haven’t seen?  Who here would sign a contract with a bank that was blank?  (Good thing I switched that around; that was going to be a Wilmington Trust jibe)…

Fourth, and again forgive me for asking, but what is the reasoning behind passing super high standards … then creating a back door so 10% of those below standard can walk in and join the party?   Isn’t that an exercise of futility?  The result is going to give you exactly the same results one has now.  Today 90% are 3.0 and above; 10 percent are just under.  Perhaps quantifying it could be their excuse… That’s the way it is so we’ll put it in writing.  Or maybe its trying to set a minimum so at some point in the future, generations not yet born, will not be tempted to go to 80/20 or 70/30 ratios.   Still, it just seems futile.  Of course we all know what happened was the original standard got offered, then the 10% was added to insure the objections raised were met, but still, the final piece now lacks credibility.  It was as if we said, “ok, you must follow the no text rulings, no texting or hand held phones… Except 10% of you will be allowed.  No problem for you.”  As an old corporate dog once advise me:  “If you’re going to make a ruling you can’t enforce, don’t make it.  It gives you personally only one option, and that is to lose.”

Fifth:  As noted by Steve, Delaware already utilizes far more than ten weeks of student teaching this bill requires.  By dropping the levels required to just 10 weeks, Delaware student teachers will be overqualified and should easily get jobs here in this state.  Is this lowering of the requirement to allow us to recruit and bring in cheaper teachers from other parts of the country, parts whose educational departments are perhaps not as thorough as is Delaware in its requirement for teachers?   I do know in some states, teachers tell their students that dinosaurs and humans lived at the same time.  Is this an attempt to whisk “those kind” into Delaware? ..  Our standards are already higher than that, so why are we lowering them while pretending it is raising the bar higher?  Do we need to start warning our children to beware of teachers who talk with funny accents?

Sixthly:  What do you mean when you say this:   Instruction for prospective elementary school teachers on research-based strategies for childhood literacy and age-appropriate mathematics content.   Excuse me for asking, but “whose” research will you use?  I’m sure you are well aware that the now accepted failure, No Child Left Behind, was attempted at all because of faulty research.  I’m sure you are well aware, the the school voucher program pushed forward in some states is failing desperately because it too, was based on faulty research.  I’m sure that you are well aware, that the entire charter school program is failing across this nation, and taking all its children down with it…. was based on faulty research…  So when you say research-based strategies, the hair sort of goes up on the back of my head… Uh oh.  As every single working teacher will tell you, each year there is a new, proven,  brand-new strategy that will finally, finally magically transform all students into a model classroom,…. and each year afterwards, … there is a new, proven brand-new strategy to replace it… All costing the state millions of dollars to implement I should add.  And furthermore, each time there is a top personnel change there is also a new research-based strategy to go along with it.  And as you know, each strategy takes up weeks of a teacher’s time they could spend with students, and if there was any redeeming value in that strategy, it is only discovered in the final weeks of the year, but alas it is too late.  Next year there will be a new strategy and teachers get to start all over.   And as reports of the tests come filtering back, there are multiple issues of where 7th grade material ends up being on 5th grade tests.  Who is determining the age appropriateness of the mathematics?  Surely not the same people who are making the test?  And while I have your attention… what really is the point of putting a question on a test that no one taking it has been trained to answer?   Why give a student who has passed algebra and trig and geometry and done well mind you, a Galileo equation?   As adults, none of us are tested on things we should not know? I mean would we really put complicated questions of Ugandan history on Beau Biden’s Bar Review that he must pass to pursue a career?  Of course not… That is torture.  To do so would just be mean and nothing else.  So why are we torturing little children?

Again, there is no definition of standards. What are they?  Can they be misused like almost the exact wording was put in law back during the Southern Segregational Era?   Do you know how many research strategies their are?   Google gives you 56,700,000 in under a second.  There have been at least 10 used in every school over the last 10 years…  So out of all of them, which one is right?  Isn’t that an extremely arbitrary decision?

Seventh:  As has been frequently pointed out, we currently have standard that must be met to teach.  They are rather difficult to achieve.  Most schools have a final exam. After four years of college it is nice to get a score to see where you stand.  And heaven forbid, if beer was your major and you failed to meet the standard of the college on its final exam, you couldn’t represent that college as alumni.  No problem there.  But I’m curious, how one expects to discern the educational aptitude of  teachers coming from a variety of locations,  like George Fox University, or the University of Central Arkansas, or Concord University, or Everglades University, or Franklin Pierce University?  Sure they pass their tests, they got their degree, but can they even be close to as good as someone coming from  a much more difficult regimen at a Delawarean university or college?   So we say No to someone to entering college got a 1400 combined on their SAT, because they didn’t pass Delaware’s stringent test, and say yes to someone from Everglades University, who entered college with a combined SAT of 1000, and was taught the test and passed it with a high score.  How does that benefit children?

That question could be fixed with an amendment requiring the GRE to be part of the assessment.  Otherwise, this action is pointless because of so many standards nationwide.

Eighth.  And here is the crucial point.   After graduating the bar of success or failure will be data collected from testing students. When a new teacher joins a district, where do you think they will be placed?  In the best classrooms with the best students?  Or in the classes after every current teacher has been given the opportunity to move up, that are left?  Obviously the latter.  So a great teacher, one who would teach suburban students amazingly, finds themselves in a classroom of students whose lifetime ambition is to get a good rep in what was once Gander Hill, but is now the Howard Young Correctional Center…  “I’m sorry miss, but your scores are embarrassing. You can’t work in Delaware anymore.”  Likewise a teacher who doesn’t give a damn, who luckily is in a great environment, gets raises year after year.   Tests do not measure students accurately, so using them to fire teachers is just plain wrong.  If you’ve read this far… you had good teachers.  None of them were tested into the ground like we are doing to ours today.  What?  How can that be?  How on earth can you have great education, one that make America into a world power, without testing 3 times a year, and again, many times between that?  How can it be?….

Obviously it was.  And in the real world, that alone would put an end to this policy of testing ad nauseum.

But we don’t live in a real world anymore, do we?  It seems not.

Ninth.  And there is one important thing that is missing.  How much will this cost?  Any estimates?  Who will get the contracts? Pearson?  ETS?  College Board? The ACE?  Someone’s getting wealthy…  But how much will this cost, and will that be supported by a tax upon the wealthy to pay for it, or will it be culled from existing programs now doing a great job today?

These issues need to be addressed before the House passes the bill….  As i said at the beginning, it all sounds nice… “higher standards for teachers?  Sure, why not?”   But then, a year later…. “What!  They fired Ms. Jones!  Are they effin’ crazy?  She’s the best teacher in this school!”  and two years later, … “Mr. Principal:  your scores are down. You failed.”  Then at three years later: “ladies and gentlemen, we are closing this school.”

Perhaps it’s time to look at bills closely before passing them unanimously.

It was a defining moment in  education.  Our president telling us that the Chinese had pulled ahead and were outdoing us in achieving the future.  Their math and science scores soared above ours.  We were falling behind and had to do something immediately…  The Chinese were so far ahead….

In a crises, all stops get pulled.  All secondary concerns get pushed aside.  One objective and one objective only becomes the goal.  We, the United States of America, had to catch up and the fastest way was to emulate what they were doing…..

Our Department of Education focused on Common Core.

Only now, with the abysmal failure of Common Core and gazing across the wasteland it has left behind, are we beginning to question the data that propelled us there in the first place… We have in just the past weeks, revisited the DC successes and found perhaps that  really didn’t happen.  We have in recent weeks, revisited the Atlanta successes and found, for sure, that really didn’t happen.  We have visited the successes of Texas upon which George W. Bush rode into the White House, and America implemented the Texas program nationwide which fizzled and flopped, and just this year, we found out why.  The results were faked and not real….

So now, we turn to China.  And to our surprise, what do we find?

The Chinese tested their top students.  We are comparing those scores to our testing of everyone…. Yes.  It is as if we compared all of Delaware’s student’s performance to those Delaware students who went to Harvard, and created a crises since Delaware’s scores were lower than those of former Delawarean Harvard Grads.

The Chinese tests just measure those of the best schools in their most cosmopolitan city.  It does not measure performance in any other city than Shanghai.  It does not measure the performance in rural China.  It is a measurement of the cream off the top, and then comparing it to the 2% milk underneath, and calling that milk foul….

And we, using this skewed data off the top, raced to change America’s Educational System into that of China…

Despite some very alarming trends illustrated in China taken out of  that same report….

Here’s the history.  For the first time ever a standard test was given world wide.  In the test 5,100 15-year-olds in Shanghai outperformed students from the other countries on an international standardized test that measured math, science and reading competency. American students came in between 15th and 31st place in the three categories.

America went into convulsions.  However, the reaction in China itself was far different…..

“Certainly, there was pride in Shanghai’s achievements but there was also a great deal of introspection as to the real significance of the test results and the need for reform of the Chinese education system. Chinese media widely cited the findings of a 2009 survey covering 21 countries conducted by the International Assessment of Educational Progress, which showed that while Chinese students excelled at maths, they were in last place when it came to using their imagination and were fifth from bottom where creativity was concerned.

The Chinese themselves bemoaned that “the grooming of “superb test-takers” comes at a high cost, “often killing much of, if not all, the joy of childhood”. Chen said the system that created high scores denigrated students who are little more than “test machines” who lack imagination and creativity.”--China Daily by Chen Weihua

“These are two sides of the same coin: Chinese schools are very good at preparing their students for standardized tests. For that reason, they fail to prepare them for higher education and the knowledge economy.” He pointed out that China’s most promising students still need to go abroad and “unlearn the test-centric approach to knowledge that was drilled into them”. The current Chinese education system, he said, is holding the country back. “Shanghai’s stellar results on Pisa,” he wrote, “are a symptom of the problem.” He added: “One way we’ll know we’re succeeding in changing China’s schools is when those Pisa scores come down.”  Jiang Xueqin, deputy principal of the Peking University High School,

The Shanghai system may be producing high test scores, because children are drilled to anticipate the question and how to properly maximize points on how they respond, they are not taught what thinking is, or how to do it.  Multinational Corporations in China have to draw their talent from elsewhere, because Chinese follow orders and that is all. Thinking creatively and solving problems is not what they do well.  They are not self starters, as China’s lack of start up organizations tends to show…

While Shanghai students scored well above average in overall reading capabilities, they were poor at capturing information from charts, tables and lists. They also ranked well below average in independent reading strategies, which means they rely on teachers’ instructions on what to read. Those two categories hold the key to practical problem solving and research capabilities, which don’t feature prominently in early studies but are crucial to success in higher education. 

What is sad is despite these misgivings in China itself, we over here are trying these techniques upon our inner city children.  

That is our policy of teaching the questions on the test and how to answer them to maximize one’s points…..We are working hard upon making our educational system more irrelevant than it ever was.

Our fear that all the good jobs will go elsewhere, is becoming a fulfilling prophecy   They will go to those people not educated in China or the US…..

Delaware is leading America’s RTTT towards the wrong direction….

Data the world over, is pointing that exciting kids to learn, is the clue.  Letting them find the spark of curiosity and fanning it, pushes a child further than all the discipline in the world…. Evidence shows this happens more readily in smaller classrooms where the child idolizes the teacher and wants to perform so as not to let one’s teacher down.

No different from adults, really.

Do you think this is odd?

Exhibit A:

“We are conducting a national search for an exceptional leader capable of transforming Delaware into one of the leading charter school systems in the nation….

Exhibit B:

“The federal tax exemption of each organization listed below was automatically revoked for its failure to file a Form 990-series return or notice for three consecutive years.:  PENCADER EDUCATIONAL ASSOCIATION”

Exhibit C:

“The standoff between the state Department of Education and Pencader Charter is over after the state agreed Thursday evening to pitch in $350,000 to brace the troubled school’s budget through the end of the year,  “Make no mistake, this is a burden to the State,”

Exhibit D:

The Colonial School District will lay off 72 people, including 58 teachers, if voters don’t approve a tax increase, according to a plan approved by the school board Tuesday night.. Even if voters approve the increase, the district would still have to cut as many as 25 jobs, 8 to 12 of which would be teachers.”

Exhibit E:

Vision – A firm belief in the value of charter schools in public education,.  As the Executive Director of the Charter School Office, the core of your work will be to ensure that we create an environment in Delaware that is conducive to a high-performing charter system. You will lead an effort at the state-level to ensure that our laws, regulations, practices and policies reflect best practice nationally, and create an environment that attracts, supports and sustains high performing charters while holding them accountable for results.

Right:  Just Like Pencader.

But the argument for increasing Charter Schools is that they increase student performance.

Do they?

No. the performance by Charters in the state of Delaware is at best equal and at worst lower than that of public schools.  Sending a child to a charter is demeaning his potential.  A child performs better in a public school. whose funding is being stripped as in the Christina School District, than he does in a charter who is sucking away $350,000 of Department of Education money away from schools doing their jobs.

Corporate Reform:  Doing for Education what McDonalds did for Nutrition….

True Story.

A parent called her child’s principal and referred to an IEP page which states that a child CAN refuse testing. The parent went on to say that she feels that this test serves no instructional purpose except to punish schools, teachers and disabled children. Any test that her child has to take should serve the purpose of developing appropriate IEP goals which will help her child acquire the skills needed to eventually master an appropriate curriculum that will enable her child acquire a high school diploma. The parent then stated that on the day of the testing, the child will refuse to take the examination……

The Principal immediately called my colleague (an data-reading trainer) down to the office and threw up his hands. Upset, the Principal said that if bunches of parents were to request this, the school’s annual yearly progress will be destroyed if his number of untested children dipped below 95%. He moaned that the school was at the cusp of being closed and that it was obvious that this parent was too stupid to write this letter herself. Someone had to have helped advise her. The principal wanted my colleague to spy around the lounge and find out which teacher could have helped this parent and this principal would make sure criminal charges would certainly be brought. The principal confided to my colleague that the letter was sent to “legal” and the “Network”.

This resulted in a quickly-called conference call between the legal department of the (New York) Department of Education and the special education administrator of this school’s Child First Network (or should we call it Child Last). According to my colleague, the special education administrator said to just ignore the letter. The network person said that disabled child is too stupid to understand why she would be refusing and could easily be ignored. The lawyer for Tweed said parents cannot opt out according to state law. She said that the parent stating that the child will refuse testing is equivalent to opting out because the child’s justification for refusal derives from the parent and not the child. After about a half hour of banter, these administrator, principal and lawyer decided that if the child refuses, the Principal should suspend the child and the administration of children’s services should be called so the parent can be charged with educational neglect. Finally, the testing coordinator, who was part of this conference call, meekly added, “What if the parent seeks out a professional advocate and commences legal action?” The DOE lawyer said not to worry because such parents are too stupid to do this……

This Kafka-isk experience STEMS from this one factor: putting the test first.  In fact, even with a quick read, one can see that from the top all the way down, everyone involved in this vignette, is focused on the test….

*And I thought education was about learning*.

If you need any more convincing that our educational system is failing us, this story should be enough to persuade you that scores on these made-up tests tehd to be the only thing that matters… Your son or daughter, doesn’t matter…Nor do teachers. Nor do principals. Nor do Parents….

So you ask what was the outcome?

They told the Principal that he should lay down the law. He was to tell the parent that when the child shows up for testing, the assessment would be given. If the child refuses to take the test, the child will be sent to a guidance counselor and any missed part of the assessment would be administered during a make-up day. They admonished the principal not to worry about any legal action, because if the parent went that route, it would take time and by then the child haven taken the assessment would be a fait accompli….

This is the atmosphere that has invaded our schools since the beginning of the RTTT and the Rodel’s Foundations advent into Delaware’s education… Not even No Child Left Behind was this bad, because the corporations were not a part of the deal.  Not even Carper’s testing program got to this point, where scores closed schools, fired teachers, demoted administrators, and made billions for investors getting state monies to STEM the bleeding….

Someone forgot the children. Should one parents correct assessment truly cause this much trouble?

Only if the test is the only thing that matter.

I was shocked. Shocked these new reforms were not working.  After all, in the States of the Union speeches all we’ve heard were success stories… such as that of Michelle Rhee of Washington DC, Arne Duncun of Chicago, and Mayor Bloomberg of  New York…  With such beautiful marketing, I wasn’t worried. Sure our kids were finally learning how to be world class leaders with the world class education we were giving them….

But, just like marketing can sell a toothpaste we wouldn’t otherwise buy, “Hi, I’m Adam Scott, and I brush my teeth with Arm and Hammer Baking Soda and Mortons Iodized salt.  Now you can too.” we really don’t know how it tastes…   until we taste it.   Same with education.  Now in Washington, Chicago, and New York, there is a bad taste in a lot of people’s mouths…..

An Executive Summary of a study was released today.   The study will come out later, but the executive summary does not paint a rosy picture on how this system seems to be working….

Here are key findings…..

The reforms deliver few benefits and in some cases harm the students they purport to help, while drawing attention and resources away from policies with real promise to address poverty-related barriers to school success:

Test scores increased less, and achievement gaps grew more, in “reform” cities than in other urban districts.

Reported successes for targeted students evaporated upon closer examination.

Test-based accountability prompted churn that thinned the ranks of experienced teachers, but not necessarily bad teachers.

School closures did not send students to better schools or save school districts money.

Charter schools further disrupted the districts while providing mixed benefits, particularly for the highest-needs students.

Emphasis on the widely touted market-oriented reforms drew attention and resources from initiatives with greater promise.

The reforms missed a critical factor driving achievement gaps: the influence of poverty on academic performance. Real, sustained change requires strategies that are more realistic, patient, and multipronged.

In most large urban districts studied, test score gains among minority students narrowed race-based achievement gaps, and low-income students had gains comparable to their affluent peers. This contrasts with reform cities, where achievement gaps grew as poor and minority students’ scores fell further behind those of their peers. Apparently disruption and “churn” do exactly that to the test scores of students in reform districts. If left alone, they’d be much higher.

This is for Jea Street. Without these reforms being pushed by RTTT, black 8th Graders nationwide increased their scores by 5 points… In Michelle Rhee’s DC district, the same group LOST 2 POINTS…. (Source:National Center for Education Statistics, Trial Urban District Reading Assessment, 2005 and 2011; National Assess-ment of Educational Progress scores for District of Columbia Public Schools provided by D.C. budget consultant Mary
Levy in 2012.)

“While test scores increased and achievement gaps shrank in most large urban districts over the past decade, scores stagnated for low-income and minority students and/or achievement gaps widened in the reform cities.” the study concluded….DC, Chicago, and New York all lost ground and other urban areas gained ground….

The reform policy does not work. It has not worked where it has been tried. We need to stop the poison from spreading. Reformers claimed massive test score gains that data proved false… For example Bloomberg claimed he decreased the achievement gap by 50%… It was 1%. Michelle Rhee stated that low income and minority high school students had gain in double digit proficiency. Instead, the gain was minimal, no improvement, and sometimes showing losses. Obama and Arne Duncun have announced a jump in proficiency from 38% to 67%, a jump of 29 points. However when adjusted to the national test, younger children jumped 8 points, and high schools only jumped 1.

Furthermore, these cities that used test scores to fire teachers, lost experienced educators and replaced them with people off the streets. Needless to say, there was no student improvement. In 2 years, 33% of DC’s teachers left. In four years, over half, 54% were working elsewhere….

New York City spent $50 million from 2007 to 2010 on awards to teachers who substantially raised test scores in high-needs schools. In 2011, it ended the program after a RAND study confirmed “mounting evidence that all those bonuses weren’t having much of an effect.” Way to set the trend Christina School Board. Jea Street: are you taking notes?

“The Schoolwide Performance Bonus Program, intended to “motivate educators to change their practices to ones better able to improve student achievement” failed to improve student achievement at any grade level, school progress report scores, or teachers’ reported attitudes and behaviors”…

Likewise closing schools that do not perform… just sends those students to other schools that do not perform. Only 6% of students moved in Chicago, actually landed in a better school… leaving 94% who were disrupted for no reason. In fact, many did worse.

Charter Schools did no better. Only 17% of Charter students did better than their public school counterparts. 49% stayed the same. 34% did worse.

Furthermore, some of the successes using more holist types of attack, are not given funding or praise because they clash with the corporate “message” being sold to the public. But, New York has 100 successful schools that increased the share of ninth-grade students on track to graduate and high school students’ college readiness. Instead of beating up teachers, these schools ensured strong, consistent student-teacher relationships; leveraged community partners for extra staff, coaching, and resources; and provided hands-on learning experiences, such as internships at lawfirms and seeding oyster beds….

To attract more high-quality teachers to Chicago Public Schools, then-CEO Arne Duncan identified the strongest teacher-preparation programs and encouraged CPS to hire from them, moved recruitment dates up, established job fairs to boost recruiting ability, and offered new teachers higher starting salaries. This improved teacher quality and reduced inequities across districts.

One of the better successes that is NOT a market based reformed program is that of Montgomery County of Maryland, which staunchly opposes using test scores to evaluate teachers, making it one of the best districts in the nation. It also never let in charter schools. Going in another direction, Cincinnati provides in-school health clinics which has cut down absences by a large factor. With no doctors care available for children at home, students previously stayed away from school getting behind and never catching up…

These reforms have better results than the reforms currently being foisted upon Delaware by it’s Race To The Top and by the Rodel Foundation. The best success comes from strong teacher-student relationships. The most successful students are ones in classes where a student teacher ration is under 11-1….

That is the direction the nation needs to go.

Delaware’s Head of the Department of Education has 3 years teaching experience. That should be no surprise to you.  It is relatively old news.

Based on our state’s success, New York City is trying the same approach.  In charge of all New York City’s Public Schools, overseeing 135,000 public employees, is now a fresh faced  27 year old hired as a “special assistant” in 2010.

In less than 30 months his salary will rise from $75,000 to over $200,000….

He is a 2007 graduate from Ryder. He worked with several charter schools in New York City before earning a master’s degree in public policy and administration from Columbia in 2010…

He is a member of the reform group “Education Pioneers”  Education Pioneers aims to transform education into the best led and managed sector in the U.S. economy…Education Pioneers plans to recruit 10,000 leaders and managers by 2023, and connect the leaders in our network with high-impact leadership roles in key organizations across the education sector.

Translated:  their job is to bust unions.

One can’t help but notice that these two leaders of two respective departments of education share in age, a similarity with Kim Jong-un, leader of North Korea..

One cannot see either of them working well.

Eli Broad — the CPA-trained-billionaire-businessman-turned-public-education-reformer — informed Diane Ravitch, a distinguished education expert, about what needs to be done to education in America.  . According to Ravitch, “We talked about school reform for an hour or more, and he told me that what was needed to fix the schools was not all that complicated: A tough manager surrounded by smart graduates of business schools and law schools.

According to Slate quoting Vanity Fair, Eli Broad boasted back in 2006 that he  “plans to virtually take over the Delaware school system in 2007, pending approval from that state’s legislature.” He backed the winning slate of candidates for the local board of education in 1999 and helped hire the superintendent.

Eli Broad trains Superintendents.  Christina School District has been the unfortunate beneficiary of his largess.  Joe Wise, followed by Lillian Lowery, followed by  Marcia Lyles, all are from Eli’s School of Superintendencies….Dr. Joe Wise was selected as a Broad Fellow by Eli Broad Institute for School Boards (2005), was appointed to the Eli Broad Urban Superintendents Academy as a Fellow (2003), and serves on the Broad Academy’s adjunct faculty and advisory committee. Although Broad Superintendents come in highly qualified, they often leave disgracefully. Joe Wise, may have been one of the first. Recently, across this nation many Broad Superintendents have been let go. All trained by the Broad Superintendents Academy: Maria Goodloe-Johnson (class of 2003) of the Seattle school district, LaVonne Sheffield (class of 2002) of the Rockford, Illinois school district, and Jean-Claude Brizard (class of 2008) of the Rochester New York school district. Brizard resigned to take the job as CEO of Chicago schools, but his superintendency in Rochester had been mired in controversy. Another Broad-trained Superintendent recently announced his resignation: Tom Brady (class of 2004) of Providence, Rhode Island, as well as these others from before: Arnold “Woody” Carter (class or 2002), formerly of the Capistrano Unified School District; Thandiwee Peebles,( class of 2002), formerly of the Minneapolis Public School District; and John Q. Porter (class of 2006), formerly of the Oklahoma City Public School District.

Ms. Lillian Lowery (class of 2004), Wise's replacement after supposedly cleaning up Joe Wise's disaster, was put in charge of all Delaware's schools, and now, is in charge of Maryland's. Broad's influence has touched every Delaware Student… and is about to touch all those of Maryland.

Our current head of the Department of Education, Mark Murphy, hails from a group NLNS funded by Eli Broad

If this was a good thing, it would be good.

So, what is the Broad influence?

Here is one take. It is one of the three influencers of education. Along with the Gates Foundation and the Walton's, it exerts a powerful influence, good or bad. It calls itself a venture philanthropy, as in venture capitalist. Meaning it invests in philanthropy expecting to yield a return on its investment. As an example, it can fund a study that says computers will help inner city kids learn, then sell those recommended computers to that school district.

Here is how it infiltrates a school district. Christina School District to be exact…

The Broad Foundation plants one of its elements in a school district, it is then highly likely they will plant another one along with it, so their influence is maximized.

For instance, an element might be:
– The presence of a Broad-trained superintendent
– The placement of Broad Residents into important central office positions
– An "invitation" to participate in a program spawned by the Foundation (such as CRSS's Reform Governance in Action program)
– Offering to provide the district with a free "Performance Management Diagnostic and Planning" experience

The Broad Foundation likes to infiltrate its targets on multiple levels so it can manipulate a wider field and cause the greatest amount of disruption. Venture edu-philanthropists like Gates and Broad proudly call this invasive and destabilizing strategy “investing in a disruptive force.” To these billionaires and their henchmen, causing massive disruption in communities across the nation is not a big deal.

The Broad Foundation has spent nearly $400 million on its mission of “transforming urban K-12 public education through better governance, management, labor relations and competition.”

That sounds nice. So let us look closer….

The signature effort of the Broad Foundation is its investment in its training programs…The Broad Superintendents Academy runs a training program held during six weekends over ten months, after which graduates are placed in large districts as superintendents. Those accepted into the program (“Broad Fellows”) are not required to have a background in-education; many come instead from careers in the military, business, or government. Tuition and travel expenses for participants are paid for by the Broad Center, which also sometimes covers a share of the graduates’ salaries when they are appointed into district leadership positions. The foundation’s website boasts that 43 percent of all large urban superintendent openings were filled by Broad Academy graduates in 2009.

The Broad Superintendents Academy’s weekend training course provides an “alternative” certification process which has come to supplant or override the typical regulations in many states that require that individuals have years of experience as a teacher and principal before being installed as a school district superintendents….

The Broad Residency in Urban Education is a two-year program, during which individuals with MBAs, JDs, etc. in the early stages of their careers are placed in high-level managerial positions in school districts, charter management organizations, or state and federal departments of education. The Broad Center subsidizes approximately 33 percent of each Resident’s salary.

The Broad Foundation founded the New York City Leadership Academy, which trains individuals to serve as principals in the city public schools, several of whose graduates have been accused of financial misconduct, as well as arbitrary and dictatorial treatment of teachers, students and parents. This was recently featured by Delaware’s WDDE reporting on Reshid Walker who is training in Cape Henelopen under the Delaware Leadership Project. DLP is an alternate certification program that this year is preparing six candidates to work as principals or assistant principals at public schools serving high-risk students in Delaware. Alternate Certification means it sidesteps requirements that a principal has to have stepped foot inside a school before. Through four days a week of on-the-job training, and no certification from an accredited college or university, he will soon be in command of your child’s education.

The Broad Institute for School Boards provides three training programs for elected school board members and non-Broad-trained superintendents conducted in partnership with the Center for Reform of School Systems (CRSS). The Institute trains new board members at a one-week summer residential setting…The Broad Foundation underwrites 80 percent of all program costs through a grant to CRSS.

The Broad Foundation also supports a broad range of pro-charter school advocacy groups, as well as alternative training programs for non-educators who want to work as teachers and principals (Teach for America, New Leaders for New Schools). In addition, the foundation offers free diagnostic “audits” to school districts, along with recommendations aligned with its policy preferences. It produces a number of guides and toolkits for school districts, including a “School Closure Guide,” based on the experiences of Broad-trained administrators involved in closing schools in Boston, Charleston, Chicago, Dallas, Washington, D.C., Miami-Dade County, Oakland, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, and Seattle…..

Closing public schools to open opportunities for charters seems to be it’s prime directive. Although not officially enshrined as such, it does seem to be the consistent pattern of each of its graduates.

The foundation provided start-up funding for Parent Revolution (formerly the Los Angeles Parent Union), the group which developed the “Parent Trigger” legislation, designed to encourage the conversion of public schools to charter schools. Broad has also has given large amounts of money to Education Reform Now, a pro-charter school advocacy organization…

Eli Broad has said he “expects to be a major contributor” to Students First, former D.C. Chancellor Michelle Rhee’s organization that advocates for the expansion of charters, vouchers, and an end to seniority protections for teachers. The pro-Rhee biography, The Bee Eater, was subsidized by the Broad Foundation as is mentioned on the book jacket.

Of course, there are campaign contributions (you will need to type in Broad, Eli) to facilitate the corporatizing of education… A quick look certifies that his coverage is a who’s who across party lines in Congress. Obviously there will be support for Charters streaming down from the top lines of government.

Ok, so how does all of this affect Delaware’s public school’s families?….
One of the tenets of his philosophy taught to his graduates, is to produce system change by “investing in a disruptive force.” Continual reorganizations, firings of staff, and experimentation to create chaos or “churn” is believed to be productive and beneficial, as it weakens the ability of communities to resist change.

A hallmark of the Broad-style leadership is closing existing schools rather than attempting to improve them, increasing class size, opening charter schools, imposing high-stakes test-based accountability systems on teachers and students, and implementing of pay for performance schemes. The brusque and often punitive management style of Broad-trained leaders has frequently alienated parents and teachers and sparked protests. A long laundry list of Broad Supertendants run out of town can be found here, near the bottom. But you can get an idea of what to expect, from just this one: Robert Bobb (class of 2005), the Emergency Financial Manager of the Detroit Public Schools, recently sent layoff notices to every one of the district’s 5,466 salaried employees, including all its teachers, and said that nearly a third of the district’s schools would be closed or turned over to private charter operators. At a recent town hall which Bobb had called so he could go over his plan, angry students, parents, and teachers drove him from the meeting. He was escorted out by his six bodyguards….

Disruption and chaos indeed…..

Delaware is fortunate to have a large parenting network of watch dogs who communicate well with legislators. Whereas the Christina District has had a rough go with Broad graduates, the rest of the state has so far been unscathed…..
Without the oversight being provided by parents and teachers watchdog organizations, the fate of Delaware’s students might be that of Philadelphia, Chicago, or Detroit.

if you are a parent or know one, you probably feel this way as well. Parents Across America considers Broad’s influence to be inherently undemocratic, as it disenfranchises parents and other stakeholders in an effort to privatize our public schools and imposes corporate-style policies without our consent. We strongly oppose allowing our nation’s education policy to be driven by billionaires who have no education expertise, who do not send their own children to public schools, and whose particular biases and policy preferences are damaging our children’s ability to receive a quality education.

In fact, this entire philosophy of forcing change upon children, strikes every parent as coming from those types of people we all run across, … who hate children…. “Someone smack that kid who’s crying.”

Amen And Amen.