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Synopsis:  This bill removes the per-student funding to all Charter schools and allows them to be funded in the same manner as the Vocational Technical School Districts.

Section 1. Amend §509-518 of Title 14 of the Delaware Code by making insertions as shown by underlining and deletions as shown by strikethrough as follows:

(For an easier read of the new law, please jump to a cleaned up code version (without the deletions) which is a much easier read.)

§ 509 School financing.

(a) Charter schools shall be eligible for public funds under procedures established by this section. Notwithstanding that this Code may establish procedures for the funding of a public school choice program and that such program may include charter schools among those schools which students may choose,

(b) A charter school shall receive a payment with respect to each of its students equal to:  in the exact same manner as do the Vocational Technical School Districts within Delaware

(1) From the State on or before November 30, the entire yearly funding equivalent to ofpublic charter school‘s Division I staffing, including fractional funding of partial units, excluding  funding for a Superintendent, Division II– All Other Costs and Energy funding, minor capital improvements and school building maintenance funding, will be  generated by the annual student unit count conducted on September 30 of each year in accordance with Department of Education regulations. by the General Assembly as a line item in its previous fiscal year’s budget, ending June 30th of that same year.  Minor capital improvements shall continue to be funded in the same manner as the Vocational Technical School Districts. In the case of Division III — Equalization, a charter school shall not receive from the State an any amount that is determined by the weighting of the Division III per unit values that would have been generated by its students had they been counted in and that amount, shall remains and stay within each student’s  their district of residence. In addition A charter school shall not receive a prorated portion of any other funds appropriated to the Department of Education that are is intended to be allocated on a student, employee or school state share. For accounting purposes only and not for the purposes of calculating such funding, shall each charter school student shall be counted in a separately reported unit count of at the charter school, which makes note of that child’s district of residence,  and though not physically counted for any purposes in the student’s district of residence, that money which in that child’s district was originally allocated per that student must now remain in the designated home district of that child’s residence. For any other partially funded unit generated at a charter school, the charter school is free to negotiate the use of such unit with the chartering district, and other public school districts, in order to purchase central custodial, administrative, clerical, direct teaching or educationally related services. If such an agreement is not negotiated, a payment based on the average State cost per unit shall be payable to both the charter school and the district issuing the charter, provided that the sum of both fractions justifies an additional unit.  The State shall advance 75% of the anticipated funding pursuant to this subsection at the beginning of each fiscal year, provided that the charter school has provided the Department of Education with a preliminary roster of its students on or before May 1 of such year, and does not maintain the status of formal review or probation. The status of formal review or probation shall prompt the Department of Education to advance a level of funding appropriate to pending administrative action. A final roster shall be due September 30. Notwithstanding the above, a charter school in its first year of operation shall receive 50% of the anticipated funding pursuant to this subsection at the beginning of the fiscal year, provided that the charter school has provided the Department of Education with a preliminary roster of its students on or before May 1 of such year. The charter school shall receive an additional 25% of the funding due pursuant to this subsection on October 1 of its first year in operation and shall receive the remaining 25% on February 1 of its first year in operation, provided that the school has completed and posted the required standardized financial report forms and the Department has reviewed those forms and determined that the school’s finances will not at that time lead the Department to submit the school for formal review pursuant to § 515 of this title. A determination that the school will be submitted for formal review shall prompt the Department of Education to advance a level of funding appropriate to pending administrative action. The percentage of funding to be provided to charter schools on July 1 and October 1 pursuant to the above may be increased in the Secretary’s discretion.

(2) From the school districts in which its students reside on or before November 30 of each year, the local cost per student (regular or special education, as the case may be), net of transportation expenses provided for pursuant to § 508 of this title. The school districts in which its students reside shall advance at least 35% of the anticipated funding pursuant to this subsection at the beginning of each fiscal year provided that the charter school has provided the school districts of residence with a preliminary roster of its students on or before May 1 of such year. This advance may be paid from Division III — Equalization funds if the district’s prior fiscal year current expense local funds balance was 20% or less pursuant to § 1507 of this title. A final roster shall be due September 30. In the event of the failure of a school district to make timely payments to a charter school as required in this paragraph, the Department of Education shall have the authority to direct transfer of such funds from future State funding allocations after the school district receives reasonable notice and an opportunity to be heard, as set forth in the rules and regulations established by the Department.

(c) If a parent or legal guardian of a student enrolled outside the district pursuant to this chapter moves during the school year to a district different from the district in which that parent’s or legal guardian’s child resided at the time of the annual unit count, the child’s first district of residence shall continue to be responsible  to receive any portions of payments allotted for that child  to the charter school for the balance of the school year pursuant to paragraph (b)(2) of this section. The child’s new district of residence shall be responsible the recipient  for all such payments revenue during succeeding years.

(d) The Department of Education shall annually calculate the local cost per student expended by each school district for each type of student for the year immediately preceding based on the formula set forth in subsection (e) of this section, adjusted by a factor necessary to fund the charter school on a basis reasonably equivalent to the current year local cost per student, which factor shall be established  and shall give that total cost along with the estimated enrollment of each Charter School to the General Assembly’s Joint Budget Committee before the completion of  the annual Appropriations Act. The Department shall annually certify each district’s local cost per student expenditure, as if all Charter students still resided within that district by September 1st of each year.

(e)  Local cost per student as used in this section shall be calculated as follows:

Total local Operating Expenditure in Preceding Fiscal Year

Total Division I Units minus

Special School Units minus

Vocational Deduct plus

Vocational Units

Number of Pupils or Pupil Minutes per Unit

Where:

Total local Operating = Sum of all expenditures

Expenditure in from local sources minus

Preceding FY local expenditures fortuition minus

local expenditures for debt service minus

local expenditures for Minor Capital Improvement

Division I Units for each= Division I Units certified by District or Special School the State Board of Education as of September 30 of each year…

Pupils or Pupil Minutes =

Number of Pupils or Pupil per Unit Minutes required for one
particular unit of funding as specified in §1703 of this Title

(f) For any student, who because of educational need requires services that are appropriately financed pursuant to the provisions of Chapter 6 of this title, either at the outset or subsequent to a decision to enroll in a charter school, the student’s district of residence shall no longer continue to remain financially responsible for such student and the charter school shall receive from such district request from the Department of Education, a payment determined in accordance with the provisions of Chapter 6 of this title, that would have been allotted to the Department of Education by the General Assembly for this purpose,  Beginning fiscal year 2015, the General Assembly will provide a charter fund of $1 million dollars to the Department of Education to be used for assisting charter students requiring additional resources to meet their educational needs.

(g) Any payment received by a charter school from the General Assembly pursuant to this section may be used for current operations, minor capital improvements, debt service payments or tuition payments.

(h) The Department of Education, in consultation with the Office of Management and Budget, shall annually publish a list of vacant and unused buildings and vacant and unused portions of buildings that are owned by this State or by school districts in this State and that may be suitable for the operation of a charter school. The Department of Education, in consultation with the Office of Management and Budget, shall make the list available to applicants for charter schools and to existing charter schools. The list shall include the address of each building, a short description of the building and the name of the owner of the building.

(i) In return for the receipt by a charter school of any special allocated  state funds allocated directly to the school for extra time, professional development, driver education or disciplinary programs, the school shall provide such programs.

(j) If after September 30  April 15th a pupil ceases to be enrolled in a charter school and is thereafter enrolled in a reorganized school district for the balance of the fiscal year, nothing contained in this section shall prevent a charter school which has received any funding for the student and the school district in which the student is subsequently enrolled from entering into an agreement providing for the proration of student funding between or among the charter school and the school district in which the student is subsequently enrolled. Funding in any subsequent fiscal year shall be as otherwise provided in this Code.   no funding transfer shall take place, since that child’s assessment is already designated towards his district of residence.

(k) A charter school shall display on its website as do all public schools, all standardized financial report forms for the current fiscal year and the final monthly standardized financial report forms for each previous fiscal year of operation. Charter schools that are required to file Internal Revenue Service Form 990 shall post the current and prior year Form 990 on the website as well.

(l) Charter schools shall have the same access to conduit bond financing as any other nonprofit organization, and no state or local government unit may impose any condition or restriction on a charter school’s approval solely because the applicant is a public charter school. It is the further intent that a charter school shall apply for conduit funding to issuers within the State unless more favorable terms may be found elsewhere.all Vocational Technical School Districts within Delaware

(m) The Department of Education shall administer a performance fund for charter schools, to be known as the “Charter School Performance Fund.” The Department of Education shall establish threshold eligibility requirements for applicants desiring to apply for funding, which shall include but not be limited to a proven track record of success, as measured by a performance framework established by the charter school’s authorizer or comparable measures as defined by the Department. The Department of Education shall also establish criteria to evaluate applications for funding, which shall include but not be limited to the availability of supplemental funding from nonstate sources at a ratio to be determined by the Department. The Department of Education shall prioritize those applications from applicants that have:

(1) Developed high-quality plans for start-up or expansion; or

(2) Serve high-need students, as defined by the Department.

The Fund shall be subject to appropriation and shall not exceed $5 million annually.

70 Del. Laws, c. 179, § 270 Del. Laws, c. 186, § 171 Del. Laws, c. 132, §§ 360, 36171 Del. Laws, c. 180, § 2671 Del. Laws, c. 354, § 38372 Del. Laws, c. 395, § 35173 Del. Laws, c. 164, §§ 9, 1075 Del. Laws, c. 88, § 16(2)75 Del. Laws, c. 89, § 42578 Del. Laws, c. 77, § 33(b)78 Del. Laws, c. 187, §§ 2, 379 Del. Laws, c. 51, §§ 3, 4.;

§ 510 State assistance.

(a) The Department of Education shall distribute information announcing the availability of the charter school program, explaining the powers and responsibilities of a charter school contained in this chapter, and describing the application process to each school district and public post-secondary educational institution, and through press releases to each major newspaper in the State.

(b) The Department of Education shall provide technical assistance to potential charter school applicants upon request.

(c) The Department of Education shall provide technical and other forms of assistance to charter schools on the same basis as to school districts.

(d) The Department of Education shall, in concert with the approving authority and the applicant, apply for available federal or foundation grants providing funding for the planning and start-up of charter schools and the Department of Education shall administer such funds as may be appropriated by the General Assembly for the purpose of assisting in the planning and start-up of charter schools.

70 Del. Laws, c. 179, § 271 Del. Laws, c. 180, § 27.;

§ 511 Approval procedure.

(a) An approved charter school application, together with such conditions imposed pursuant to subsection (l) of this section, shall be the basis for a charter granted to the charter school by the approving authority pursuant to this chapter and shall be governed by the terms of this chapter.  Charters must first receive a majority approval from the local district’s school board in whose district they are located. Upon approval of a charter school application by that district, the Department of Education shall present applicants seeking a charter from the state with a charter contract (“Charter Contract”) that clearly defines the respective roles, powers, and responsibilities of the school and the approving authority and incorporates the provisions of the performance agreement entered into between the charter school and its approving authority pursuant to CDR 14-200-275. Other approving authorities may choose to present applications they approve with such a Charter Contract. Where Once a Charter Contract is utilized has been approved by the Department, both the school Charter School and the approving authority that school’s local school district shall execute the Department of Education’s Charter Contract. Notwithstanding anything in this chapter to the contrary, the initial term of a newly approved charter shall expire at the end of the fifth  third fiscal year following the fiscal year in which the charter was initially approved, and any subsequent charter renewal term shall expire at the end of each successive fifth third fiscal year thereafter unless extended pursuant to § 514A(b) of this title. If an approved charter is modified to delay the initial opening of the school, then the expiration date of the initial term of the charter shall be adjusted accordingly.

(b)(1) Charters shall be modified by the same procedure and based on the same criteria as they are approved. When the approving authority is the Department of Education  local school district, minor modifications to a charter that are requested by the charter school only may be approved by the Secretary  District Superintendent subject to rules and regulations established by the local district’s Board of Education with the approval of the State Board. Modifications associated with the provision of student transportation services as a result of changes to the Annual Appropriations Act to § 508 of this title shall be considered a minor modification.

(2) A request for modification to increase a charter school’s total authorized enrollment by more than 15% shall be considered a major modification, regardless of whether the additional students will attend school at the current location or at a separate location.

(3) In addition to meeting the approval criteria established in § 512 of this title, an authorizer considering an application for a new charter school or for a modification as described in paragraph (b)(2) of this section in which the increased enrollment will occur less than 18 months from the date of application (an “expansion”), shall also consider the potential positive and negative impact of the proposed new school or expansion on the schools and the community from which the charter school’s new students will likely be drawn. In reviewing the impact, the authorizer shall consider all information furnished to it during the new charter school application process and may exercise its reasonable discretion in determining whether the proposed new school or expansion is contrary to the best interests of the community to be served, including both those students likely to attend the charter school and those students likely to attend traditional public schools in the community.  Local impact of the charter shall be considered during the initial application process before that district’s Board of Education, which oversees the locality in which that charter wishes to locate.

(4) Information regarding impact shall be considered in conjunction with the factors in § 512 of this title but shall not alone provide the basis for disapproval of an application for a new charter application or an expansion. The information regarding impact may, however, be among the bases for disapproval of an application or expansion if at least 1 criteria in § 512 of this title is also deemed not satisfied by the authorizer. The information regarding impact may, by itself or in combination with other factors, form the basis for conditions being placed on the approval.

(c) Charter school applications shall be submitted to a local school board or the Department for approval as an approving authority. Whenever a charter school seeks a charter from the Department as approving authority, such approval shall require the assent of both the Secretary and the State Board, as shall any action pursuant to §§ 515 and 516 of this title. The approving authority shall be responsible for approval of the charter school pursuant to this section and for continuing oversight of each charter school it approves.

(d) The Department shall make an initial secondary review of all charter school applications it receives forwarded to it by the local district Superintendents, in order to assess the completeness and viability of each such application based on the application submission criteria established in this title. Upon a finding that an application does not warrant a full review, the Department shall notify the applicant in writing of the deficiency or deficiencies and the application shall receive no further consideration. Each local district that is asked by an applicant to serve as an approving authority may, in its discretion, undertake such an initial sufficiency review and make such an initial sufficiency determination.

(e) Applicants seeking a charter approval from the Department that have submitted an application deemed by both the local distict and Department sufficient to receive a full review, shall be offered an opportunity for an interview in support of the application. Such interviews will allow the Department to assess applicant capacity, allow it to clarify information provided in the application, and gather additional information. The information gained in the interview process may be among the factors considered by the approving authority in approving or denying an application.

(f) Potential charter school applicants may engage in discussions with a potential approving authority before submitting an application for approval to establish a charter school.

(g)(1) Except as noted in paragraph (g)(2) of this section, new charter school applications shall be submitted to an their local district approving authority between November 1 and December 31 for schools to be established and prepared to admit students on or after the second August 1 thereafter.

(2) Applications by a highly successful charter school operator as described in subsection (p) of this section shall be submitted to an approving authority between November 1 and December 31 for schools to be established and prepared to admit students on or after the August 1 thereafter. The application submission dates in this subsection may be amended by agreement of the authorizer and the applicant if necessary to allow the applicant to serve students who would otherwise be displaced due to the closure of an existing charter school.

(3) Applications to renew a charter shall be submitted to the local approving authority on or before September 1 of the year immediately preceding the calendar year in which the school’s current charter term will expire., except that all applications to renew a charter that expires on or before December 31, 2012, shall be submitted to the approving authority on or before October 15, 2011.

(4) Charter school applications which propose the conversion of an existing public school, or a part thereof to charter school status must be submitted to an a local approving authority on or before October 30 if the application proposes that the newly converted charter school is to be established and prepared to admit students for the next ensuing school year.

(5) If the date for submitting an application or commencing the school’s instructional program shall fall on a weekend or state holiday, the time for such shall be continued to the first working day thereafter.

(h) Any local school board may limit the number of new charter school applications it will consider in any year or the number of charters it will grant, but within 20 working days after December 31 must hold a public meeting to decide whether or not to consider it. A local school board shall not be required to accept any new charter school applications for a charter school unless, by September 1 of each year the school board shall affirmatively vote to accept such applications.

(i) If an the local approving authority decides to consider a charter application, the local approving authority must rule on whether to approve the application at a public meeting within 90 working days after December 31.

(j) Within 5 days of deciding to consider an application, the local  approving authority shall form an accountability committee to review the charter school application. The accountability committee’s report to the local school board shall address the approval criteria set forth in § 512 of this title. The committee shall meet with the applicant in the course of its investigation and provide the applicant the opportunity to review and comment on the committee’s report 15 days before it is issued to the approving authority. The committee’s final report shall be provided to the applicant and be made available to the public.

(k) After giving 15 days public notice, the local approving authority shall hold public hearings to assist in its decision whether to approve a charter application. At least 1 such hearing shall be held prior to the issuance of the accountability committee’s final report on that application. The approving authority shall, in advance of the 15-day public notice period, post any and all charter applications under consideration on a public website maintained by the approving authority, and during this public notice period shall accept electronically submitted and written comments from the public.

(l) Subject to any limitations imposed by the local approving authority pursuant to subsection (h) of this section, if the application is found by the approving authority of the State Board to meet the criteria set forth in § 512 and complying with the approval process in § 511 of this title, it shall approve the application. The State Board’s approving authority may approve an application subject to such conditions as the approving authority, in its sole discretion, may deem appropriate to ensure the applicant’s continuing compliance with the approval criteria.

(m) If an application is made to the Department or a local board as an approving authority and the charter application is not approved, such decision shall be final and not subject to judicial review.

(n) All applications for a charter shall contain an affirmative representation by the applicant that no later than June 15 immediately preceding the authorized opening date of the school, the applicant shall secure a certificate of occupancy, either temporary or final, for the premises in which the school is to be located, provided that any temporary certificate of occupancy must permit occupancy at the premises by school staff and students for school purposes. If the charter is approved and the charter holder shall subsequently fail to obtain the necessary certificate of occupancy as required by this section, the opening of the school shall be delayed by 1 year from the date previously authorized by the approving authority and the charter shall be placed on probation subject to the terms and conditions imposed by the Department of Education with the consent of the State Board of Education. No waivers are available for this requirement.

(o) A local school board that approves an application for a charter school may do so only on the condition that the charter school is located in and provides all educational and related services, with the exception of transportation services and other K-12 noninstructional services and activities, within the boundaries of the approving local school board’s district lines. Once approved, the charter school may not subsequently change its location from the school district specified in its originally approved charter.

(p) ”Highly successful charter school operator” means an entity that currently operates or whose principals currently operate 1 or more highly successful charter schools showing sustained high levels of student growth and achievement and sustained fiscal stewardship, as further defined by Department regulation. Notwithstanding the provisions of this chapter, for purposes of this definition the phrase “charter school” shall include public schools operated under a charter regardless of whether the schools are located or organized in Delaware. A highly successful charter school operator may be authorized to operate a charter school in the timeframe provided by paragraph (g)(2) of this section provided that the application is submitted for the purpose of operating a charter school at the site of and serving students currently attending a charter school whose charter has been revoked, has not been renewed, or whose charter is on formal review and whose board has agreed to abandon their charter.

(q) The charter school application shall include a disclosure of any ownership or financial interest in the charter school, including but not limited to the building and real property to be used in the operation of the charter school, by the charter school founders and the board of directors of the proposed charter school. If the building and real property to be used in operation of the charter school are not known at the time of application, disclosures pertaining to those interests shall be made once the building and real property to be used in operation of the charter school become known. In addition, the board of directors of the charter school shall have a continuing duty to disclose such interests to the approving authority pursuant to this chapter during the terms of any charter. The charter school and the Department shall promptly disclose the information required by this subsection to any member of the public upon request.

(r) Charter school board members and founders shall be required to complete the criminal background checks in the same manner as persons seeking employment with a public school pursuant to § 8571(a) of Title 11. In addition, the authorizer shall complete a check of the Child Protection Registry established by § 921 of Title 16 for charter school founders and board members. The results of said background and Child Protection Registry checks shall be provided to the authorizer for review as part of the application process and on an ongoing basis if new board members are seated or current board members are convicted of a crime or placed on the Child Protection Registry. Any person convicted of a felony offense or of any crime against a child in this State or any other jurisdiction shall not be permitted to serve as a founder or member of a charter school board of directors. No individual shall be permitted to serve as a charter school founder or board member if the individual would not be permitted to be employed in a public school pursuant to § 8563 of Title 11 regarding the Child Protection Registry. Other crimes may be considered disqualifying, in the discretion of the authorizer. The State Bureau of Identification may release any subsequent criminal history to the authorizer. Individuals currently serving as board members of a charter school must complete a criminal background check and the Department shall complete a Child Protection Registry check for such members on or before February 1, 2012.

(s) The founder or board member shall be provided with a copy of all information forwarded to the authorizer pursuant to subsection (r) of this section. Information obtained under subsection (r) of this section is confidential and may only be disclosed to the chief officer and 1 additional person in each authorizing body.

(t) Costs associated with obtaining criminal history information and child protection registry checks shall be paid by the applicant.

70 Del. Laws, c. 179, § 270 Del. Laws, c. 425, § 34671 Del. Laws, c. 132, §§ 357-359, 371, 37271 Del. Laws, c. 180, § 2872 Del. Laws, c. 118, § 372 Del. Laws, c. 473, § 173 Del. Laws, c. 164, §§ 11-1473 Del. Laws, c. 313, §§ 1, 874 Del. Laws, c. 360, §§ 2, 3, 675 Del. Laws, c. 112, § 176 Del. Laws, c. 79, § 14076 Del. Laws, c. 280, § 39578 Del. Laws, c. 187, §§ 4-779 Del. Laws, c. 51, § 5.;

§ 512 Approval criteria.

Subject to the process prescribed in § 511 of this title, charter school applications shall be in the form established by the local approving authority and shall be approved if, after the exercise of due diligence and good faith, the local approving authority finds that the proposed charter demonstrates that:

(1) The individuals and entities submitting the application are experienced and qualified to start and operate a charter school, and to implement the school’s proposed educational program. Certified teachers, parents and members of the community in which the school is to be located must be involved in the development of the proposed charter school. At the time at which the school commences its instructional program and at all times thereafter, the board of directors must include a teacher from at least 1 of the charter schools operated by the board and at least 1 parent of a student enrolled in a charter school operated by the board;

(2) The chosen form of organization, identified in the articles of incorporation and by-laws, or the membership agreement, conforms with the Delaware General Corporation Law;

(3) The mission statement, goals and educational objectives are consistent with the description of legislative intent set forth in § 501 of this title and the restrictions on charter school operations set forth in § 506 in this title;

(4) The school has set goals for student performance and will utilize satisfactory indicators not limited exclusively to state tests, to determine whether its students meet or exceed such goals and the academic standards set by the State. The indicators shall include the assessments required for students in other public schools, although the charter school may adopt additional performance standards or assessment requirements, and shall include timelines for the achievement of student performance goals and the assessment of such performance;

(5) The school proposes a satisfactory plan for evaluating student performance and procedures for taking corrective action in the event that student performance at the charter school falls below such standards which are reasonably likely to succeed;

(6) The school’s educational program, including curriculum and instructional strategies, has the potential to improve student performance; and must be aligned to meet the Delaware Content Standards and state program requirements, and in the case of a charter high school, state graduation requirements. High school programs must provide driver education. The educational program at all charter schools must include the provision by the school of extra instructional time for at-risk students, summer school and other services required to be provided by school districts pursuant to the provisions of § 153 of this title. A previously approved charter school may continue to operate in compliance with the terms of its current approval, but its charter shall not be renewed unless the school shall submit an application for renewal in full compliance with the requirements of this subsection;

(7) The school’s educational program sets forth appropriate strategies to be employed to accommodate the needs of at-risk students and those needing special education services;

(8) The plan for the school is economically viable, based on a review of the school’s proposed budget of projected revenues and expenditures for the first 3 years, the plan for starting the school, and the major contracts planned for equipment and services, leases, improvements, purchases of real property and insurance;

(9) The school’s financial and administrative operations meet or exceed the same standards, procedures and requirements as a school district. If a charter school proposes to operate outside the State’s pension and/or benefits systems, a specific memorandum of understanding shall be developed and executed by the charter school, the approving authority, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, the Controller General and the Secretary of Finance to assure that the State’s fiduciary duties and interests in the proper use of appropriated funds and as a benefits and pension trustee are fulfilled and protected, the State’s financial reporting requirements are satisfied, and the interests of charter school employees are protected. All charter schools shall operate within the Delaware Financial Management System (DFMS) and be subject to all of the same policies and procedures which govern other agencies operating within such system, except that any charter school previously approved to operate outside of the DFMS may continue to so operate subject to the terms of its memorandum of understanding until such time as the school’s charter is renewed pursuant to this chapter;

(10) The assessment of the school’s potential legal liability, and the types and limits of insurance coverage the school plans to obtain, are adequate;

(11) The procedures the school plans to follow to discipline students and ensure its students’ adherence to school attendance requirements comply with state and federal law;

(12) The procedures the school plans to follow to assure the health and safety of students, employees and guests of the school while they are on school property are adequate and that the charter school will comply with applicable provisions of local, state and federal law, including the provisions of Chapter 85 of Title 11;

(13) The school shall have a satisfactory plan for timely transferring student data and records to the Department of Education;

(14) The school’s board of directors shall annually certify to the Department, on a form to be provided by the Department, that prior to the payment of any fees or other sums to any management company employed by the board, the board will insure that sufficient revenues of the school are devoted to adequately support the school’s proposed educational program. Such form of certification may require documentation of all actual or proposed expenditures by the school. Failure to provide sufficient funds to adequately support the school’s proposed education program shall be grounds for revocation of the school’s charter.

(15) The school shall have a satisfactory plan to ensure the effectiveness of its board of trustees, including governance trainings conducted for any new board members and at a minimum of once every 3 years; and

(16) The school shall have a satisfactory plan for procedures it will follow in the case of the closure or dissolution of the school, including a plan to set aside sufficient funds to cover the salaries owed to those employees who are paid over a 12-month period. For a new applicant granted under this chapter, the application shall include a reasonable plan to establish sufficient available balances pursuant to § 516(1) of this title.

70 Del. Laws, c. 179, § 271 Del. Laws, c. 180, § 2971 Del. Laws, c. 354, § 38673 Del. Laws, c. 164, §§ 15-2173 Del. Laws, c. 313, §§ 9, 1075 Del. Laws, c. 88, § 21(7)78 Del. Laws, c. 187, § 879 Del. Laws, c. 51, § 6.;

§ 513 Reporting and oversight.

(a) On or before December 1, each charter school not seeking renewal of its charter shall produce an annual report for the school year ending the previous June, which shall:

(1) Discuss the school’s progress in meeting overall student performance goals and standards;

(2) Discuss the innovation occurring at the charter school, including but not limited to the areas of curriculum development, instruction, student culture and discipline, community and parental involvement, teacher and staff development, school operations and management, and extracurricular and after-school programming; and

(3) Contain a financial statement setting forth by appropriate categories the school’s revenues and expenditures and assets and liabilities.

Each charter school seeking renewal of its charter shall produce an annual report on or before September 30. The approving authority may, in its discretion and for good cause shown, elect to accept an annual report submitted subsequent to this deadline. To ensure that such reports provide parents and approving authorities with clear and comparable information about the performance of charter schools, the Department of Education shall prescribe a uniform format for such reports, which may be supplemented by requirements set by the approving authority for schools it has chartered. The charter school shall contract to have an audit of the business and financial transactions, records, and accounts after July 1 for the prior fiscal year. The results of the audit shall be shared with the Department of Education by October 1. A charter school shall display on its website the annual report including financial statement and audit required by this subsection.

(b) The annual report shall be submitted to the approving authority, the Department and the State Board. Employees of the school and parents of students attending the school shall receive a copy free of charge, upon request. The reports shall be public records pursuant to Chapter 100 of Title 29.

(c) The Department of Education, the State Board, and the approving authority may conduct financial, programmatic, or compliance audits of a charter school. In cooperation with the Department, the approving authority shall conduct such audits no less often than every 3 years. The State Auditor shall conduct an audit of all charter school funds annually on the same basis as applied to regular school districts.

(d) The Department of Education shall notify the superintendents of all reorganized and vocational-technical school districts of receipt of new charter school applications within 30 days of the close of the application deadline. The Department of Education shall also notify the superintendent of a reorganized school district of any applications for a major charter modification submitted by a charter school with a facility located within their district.

(e) Local school boards shall notify the superintendents of all reorganized and vocational-technical school districts of receipt of new charter school applications within 30 days of the close of the application deadline.

70 Del. Laws, c. 179, § 271 Del. Laws, c. 180, § 3073 Del. Laws, c. 313, §§ 4, 1278 Del. Laws, c. 187, § 9;79 Del. Laws, c. 51, § 779 Del. Laws, c. 128, § 2.;

§ 514 State reports on the charter school program.

Annually, the Department shall prepare a report for the Governor, the General Assembly, and the State Board of Education on the success or failure of charter schools and propose changes in state law necessary to improve or change the charter school program. Such report shall contain a section comparing the per student expenditures of charter schools, considering all sources of such expenditures, with those of other public schools. Such report shall also contain:

(1) The Secretary of Education’s analysis of, recommendations relating to, and proposed changes relating to Delaware education laws, in light of the content of annual reports submitted pursuant to § 513 of this title; and

(2) The Secretary’s assessment of specific opportunities and barriers relating to the implementation of charter schools’ innovations in the broader Delaware public education school system.

70 Del. Laws, c. 179, § 271 Del. Laws, c. 180, § 3179 Del. Laws, c. 128, § 2.;

§ 514A Renewals and nonrenewals.

(a) Four years after a charter school has commenced its instructional program pursuant to this chapter and not later than every 5 years thereafter, the approving authority shall, upon notice to the charter school, review the performance of the charter school to determine its compliance with its charter and its satisfaction of the criteria set forth in this title for the purposes of renewal or nonrenewal.

(b) A charter school may be renewed for successive 5-year terms of duration. An approving authority may grant renewal with specific conditions for necessary improvements to a charter school. Where a charter school has demonstrated an outstanding record of performance, an approving authority may grant it a renewal term of 10 years. Any charter school receiving such an extended renewal term shall, at the midpoint of the 10-year charter, be subject to an annual performance and program evaluation that includes academic, financial and operations data that looks back to all of the years of the charter up to that point. If, upon this evaluation, the approving authority determines that the charter school’s level of performance is deficient by renewal standards, the approving authority may initiate the formal renewal and nonrenewal process set forth below.

(c) No later than April 30, the approving authority shall issue a charter school renewal report and charter renewal application guidance to any charter school whose charter will expire the following year. The renewal report shall summarize the charter school’s performance record to date, based on the data required by 79 Del. Laws, c. 51 and the charter contract, and shall provide notice of any weaknesses or concerns perceived by the approving authority concerning the charter school that may jeopardize its position in seeking renewal if not timely rectified. The charter school shall have 10 working days to respond to the renewal report and submit any corrections or clarifications for the report.

(d) The renewal process shall, at a minimum, provide an opportunity for the charter school to:

(1) Present additional evidence, beyond the data contained in the renewal report, supporting its case for charter renewal;

(2) Describe improvements undertaken or planned for the school; and

(3) Detail the school’s plans for the next charter term.

(e) The renewal application guidance shall include the criteria that will guide the approving authority’s renewal decisions. Renewal determinations by the Department of Education shall be based on its performance framework, the terms set forth in the Charter Contract, and shall take account of the school’s performance agreement with the approving authority, consistent with CDR 14-200-275, and with 79 Del. Laws, c. 51. Other approving authorities may choose to adopt the criteria utilized by the Department of Education. Each approving authority shall develop a rubric based on its criteria for evaluating renewal applications and shall provide this rubric to applicants as part of the renewal application guidance. The approving authority shall publish the renewal application guidance on its website and make it available in written form upon request.

(f) No later than September 30, the governing board of a charter school seeking renewal shall submit a renewal application to the approving authority pursuant to the renewal application guidance issued by the approving authority. The approving authority shall rule by resolution on the renewal application no later than 30 working days after the filing of the renewal application.

(g) In making charter renewal decisions, every approving authority shall:

(1) Ground its decisions in evidence of the school’s performance over the term of the charter contract in accordance with the performance agreement set forth in the charter contract;

(2) Ensure that data used in making renewal decisions are available to the school and the public; and

(3) Provide a public report summarizing the evidence basis for each decision.

79 Del. Laws, c. 51, § 8.;

§ 515 Oversight and revocation process.

(a) The approving authority shall be responsible for oversight of the charter schools it approves.

(b) In addition to the review required by § 514A(a) of this title, the approving authority may notify a charter school of potential violations of its charter and submit the charter to formal review to determine whether the charter school is violating the terms of its charter and whether to order remedial measures pursuant to subsection (f) of this section.

(c) The approving authority shall issue its decision within 90 working days of giving the charter school notice pursuant to this subsection (c). An accountability committee appointed by the approving authority shall conduct the initial review pursuant to subsection (b) or (c) of this section. The accountability committee’s report to the approving authority shall address the relevant criteria set forth in §§ 512 and 516 of this title. The committee shall meet with the applicant in the course of its investigation and provide the applicant the opportunity to review and comment on the committee’s report 15 days before it is issued to the approving authority. The committee’s final report shall be provided to the applicant and made available to the public.

(d) If the accountability committee reports probable grounds for remedial measures pursuant to subsection (g) of this section, the approving authority shall hold public hearings to assist in its decision whether the criteria set forth for remedial action in § 516 of this title have been satisfied, after giving the charter school 30 days notice. The school shall be given the opportunity to respond to the accountability committee’s report at the meeting. Members of the public shall be given the opportunity to comment at the meeting.

(e) If the accountability committee reports that the school has complied with its charter and the criteria set forth in § 512 of this title, the approving authority shall approve or disapprove its report at a public meeting after giving the charter school 30 days’ notice. If the approving authority disapproves the report, it shall identify the reasons for that decision with particularity. Thereafter, the approving authority shall hold a hearing, within 30 days, to decide the appropriate remedy pursuant to subsection (f) of this section.

(f) If the approving authority determines that the criteria for remedial action set forth in § 516 of this title have been satisfied, it may revoke the charter and manage the school directly until alternative arrangements can be made for students at the school or place the school on a probationary status subject to terms determined by the approving authority which are directly relevant to the violation or violations.

(g) If a local school district which is an approving authority decides to revoke the school’s charter or place the school on probationary status, the applicant may file for arbitration in writing with the American Arbitration Association in Philadelphia within 20 days of the local board’s decision stating the reasons why it believes the local board decision was in error. A copy of said filing shall be provided simultaneously with the approving authority. The parties shall select an arbitrator in accordance with the American Arbitration Association’s procedure for voluntary labor disputes, provided, however, that such arbitration shall occur in this State. The arbitrator’s fees and costs shall be borne equally by the parties. The arbitrator shall convene a hearing and determine whether the local board’s decision was in error. The arbitrator shall have 30 days to render a decision following the close of the hearing. The arbitrator’s decision shall be final and binding upon the parties.

(h) If the approving authority is the Department and it decides to revoke the school’s charter or place the school on probationary status, its decision shall be final and not subject to arbitration or judicial review.

(i) Prior to any charter school closure decision, an approving authority shall have developed and shall utilize a charter school closure protocol to ensure timely notification to parents and employees, orderly transition of students and student records to new schools, and proper disposition of school funds, property, and assets in accordance with the requirements of 79 Del. Laws, c. 51 and other applicable laws. The protocol shall specify tasks, timelines, and responsible parties, including delineating the respective duties of the school and the approving authority. In the event of a charter school closure for any reason, the approving authority shall oversee and work with the closing school to ensure a smooth and orderly closure and transition for students, parents and employees, as guided by the closure protocol.

(j) In the event of a charter school closure for any reason, all cash and cash equivalents held by or available to the school shall be distributed first to satisfy outstanding payroll obligations for employees of the school, then to the remaining creditors of the school. Remaining State General Fund appropriations for that school year shall be returned to each district in an amount proportionate to the number of students received by each district. Additional remaining State General Fund appropriations shall be returned to the general revenue fund through the State Treasury. Remaining funds received from local school districts shall be returned to each of the districts in an amount proportionate to the number of students from each district. Any remaining funds and assets will be managed by the charter, as appropriate. In the event that a charter school files for bankruptcy, the distribution of all assets will be managed by the Bankruptcy Court or otherwise in accordance with bankruptcy laws. Nothing herein shall be construed in any way to impair or preempt a lien or security interest on any asset owned by a charter school or to prevent the school from paying the costs required to close or dissolve.

(k) In the event that all state and local funds due to a charter school are paid timely as required by § 509 of this title, a charter school authorized to operate in the State must by December 31 of that fiscal year maintain an available balance sufficient to pay the minimum costs necessary to provide students with the minimum annual instructional hours required by the Department of Education during the remainder of that fiscal year as reasonably projected by the charter school. Such costs include, but are not limited to, all employee compensation required to attain the minimum annual instructional hours during the remainder of that fiscal year. Such costs also include all fixed and variable nonpayroll expenditures incurred through the final month of that school year. A school’s failure to maintain sufficient available funds by December 31 of its third year of operation shall be deemed a material violation of its charter.

70 Del. Laws, c. 179, § 270 Del. Laws, c. 186, § 171 Del. Laws, c. 180, § 3173 Del. Laws, c. 164, §§ 22, 26;74 Del. Laws, c. 360, § 479 Del. Laws, c. 51, § 9.;

§ 516 Revocation criteria.

Approved charters shall be subject to revocation or probation, after the exercise of due diligence and good faith, only for the following reasons:

(1) The school, or its representatives, has committed a material fraud on the approving authority or misappropriated federal, state or local funds; or

(2) The school fails to comply with its charter or to satisfy, in its operation of the school, the criteria set forth in § 512 of this title.

70 Del. Laws, c. 179, § 2.;

§ 517 Charter transfer to different authorizer.

Transfer of a charter, and of oversight of that public charter school, from 1 authorizer to another before the expiration of the charter term shall require a petition by the public charter school or its authorizer to the new authorizer. A petition to transfer is considered a major modification and will follow the same timelines and hearing process as a major modification.

78 Del. Laws, c. 187, § 10.;

§ 518 Oversight and revocation for multiple charter holders.

For purposes of §§ 515 and 516 of this title, each charter held by a common board of directors shall be treated separately and individually.

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All Courtesy of NAEP Click on each to enlarge.
NAEP2012results_zpsff396b0eNAEPMathResults_zpsab157fa1

TrendsinReadingNAEP2012_zps7228e766TrendsinMathNAEP2012_zps43dc1567

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

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

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

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

There is talk from above of getting rid of school boards, and just having the Federal Department of Education reach down to the state Department of Education which reaches down into the each and ever school district.  The Superintendent becomes answerable to the Department of Education, and not the elected School Board of concerned citizens, who if kept on will only be so in an advisory capacity. .

Elizabeth Scheinberg has stepped down from the Christina School Board as of last week, and in her swan song, she unintentionally illustrates exactly why  having local control over how and what we teach our kids, is better in the long run than letting it be decided a distant elsewhere.

Only because the Christina School Board fought the Department of Education for these programs, or proceeded despite admonitions by the same, are these programs today in existence….

Because we had an elected School Board of citizens:

A) Delaware Autism Program residences were saved by keeping them open, functioning as training facilities, for students whose IEPS demanded the services.

B) Enacted the first transparency policy in the state that compels the audio recording and online posting of our public monthly meetings.

C)  Invested in Montessori education, piloting Delaware’s first and only public Montessori program,

D)  Grew SPA (Sarah Pyles Academy) – our nationally recognized credit-recovery last-chance academy for students who’ve checked out of education, but now have checked back in.

E) Re-homed Networks, bringing this best-practice-based, amazing vocational-skill-building program together – every division under one roof – for the first time – to the betterment of the way we deliver on the IEP goals of the students served therein.

F) Created the Christina Early Education Center – centralizing all of our preschool classrooms in Newark into one school ..

G)  Eliminated error-filled Zero Tolerance from the district — replaced by a jointly therapeutic and punitive code of conduct

H)   Implemented a pilot of “therapeutic classrooms” in our quest to create the appropriate environment for each child,

I)   Installed a locally grown and beloved educator as our superintendent rather than engage in an expensive search firm for someone to use this district as another stepping stone to higher office.

J)   Survive the RTTT assault on education. “Survive” as in present tense, not past, b/c it’s not over. RTTT will live on in some ways beyond the grant expiration..  Our schools will exit RTTT and some of its many cumbersome mandates one year earlier than our sister districts because we refused to buckle to being bullied by Markell.

Boom.  That’s a lot of work and a lot to be extremely proud of.  But what did the Department of Education do during this same process?

A)  Task force to provide cover so Charter Schools could get conduit funding.

B)  Bill that imposes arbitrary standards on Delawares teaching universities

C) Standardized tests, standardized tests, standardized tests…..

And that is it.  One would think that list is so small it can’t be the full extent of what our Delaware Department of Education did under Mark Murphy.  I hope someone helps me out, because I could find nothing…  Hopefully I skipped something.

But the juxtaposition of the two, makes this very clear:  that letting the state run educational things means we get one or two things both controversial, and not ten things that are very solid.

As the House and Senate bills cutting district power get worked up over break and come forth next session, it would be wise to remember this vignette posted by Elizabeth. These items should not be forgotten to history….

Sleep well Elizabeth…  you’ve earned it.. 🙂

Here is a copy of Markell’s State of the State speech. i wanted to take his speech and break it down, piece by piece, and analyze it.

Bear with me. If your are following along or wrote this speech, I am only concerning myself with the part under the headline: A Great Economy Demands Great Schools

The impetus seems to be on: providing a world class education…. That sounds great and when I heard it first, I cheered it on. But now if you pressed me I couldn’t define it. How does one determine a world class level for education? Especially nations where many different languages are spoken? Some nations require many languages in their curriculum. They succeed but at a cost to high math scores. Some nations do well on math scores. They fail on creativity and ethics. We will soon be competing with the world for jobs. So do we model our education on Finland? On India? On China? or do we stick with Belgium, Netherlands, England, France and Switzerland? Or do we use the methods of Brazil?

Anyone who has traveled globally knows exactly what I’m talking about. There are so many methods being used across the globe, that using the term “world class education”, could describe situations different as the interior of Mali and downtown Sydney….

So then before beginning, we must ask for a clearer definition of “world class”…

Moving on.

Let’s make this about the children, not the adults. For my part, I speak on this issue not only as a governor, but as a father. When it comes to decisions about education, our kids deserve our total focus and commitment.

Now here is the biggest bone of contention right now. Based on feedback from a) parents, b) teachers, c) administrators, and d) students, these new changes we are undertaking are not helping children. They are putting them further behind.

Now I don’t mean to be nasty or put anyone down. There was a lot of evidence presented to us that implied a “get tough” attitude on poor schools improved test scores. But instead, the reality was not what we were told. One of the great examples that led to this program being rolled out nationwide, was the success of Atlanta’s inner city. We were told a miracle had taken place. Inner city children were rapidly learning. Alas, .. we were fooled, there was just widespread cheating going on. They didn’t learn anything after all.

Michelle Rhee has been campaigning for cracking down on inner city schools. But allegations of cheating occurred during her reign as controller of DC’s schools. Test scores that climbed magnificently, while the children have no idea how to do the problems when the meet them again in the next grade.

Texas was the granddaddy of them all. The great scores of Texas’s inner city youth, so great they compelled the “leave no child behind ” mandate across America (look at Texas we were told), whose many parts were reincorporated into Race to The Top.– all those great scores were faked. Texas dropped on knowledge vis a vis with other states despite higher test scores. We were given false results and the whole nation pursued a program that did not work the first time, or the second….

It appears that none of these programs actually do what is wanted: which is to help the children.

And what does work? Human relationships. A love bond between teacher and student. A teacher teaches her best because that is what she was born to do. A child learns his best, because he wants the teacher to be proud of them.

Can we put that into an institutionalized setting? I don’t know. But I think most baby boomers had that growing up. So, it can be done, but how to return to that setting in todays modern time, will take some experimentation…

Moving on.

Built upon four cornerstones that stand on their own:

• Improving student readiness by holding them to high standards.

• Effectively using student data to drive classroom results.

• Ensuring teacher quality.

• Turning around persistently low-performing schools.

Holding students to higher standards. The worst possible thing one can do to a child, is force him to give up. Raising standards without raising the curve, does exactly that. An A student who strives to keep up his grade average, gives up when all he gets are C’s. What’s the point. A C student who dutifully studies to keep a passing grade, gives up when all he gets are F’s… In both cases they were doing all they could do. Society considers them good students. But the same test they took last year, is now graded higher. If one got a 5 at a score of 900, now it takes 950 to get the same. If one got a 3 at the score of 750, now it takes an 800 to achieve the same….
This in no way helps students. All it does is demoralize those who get shuffled downward by the curb.

We just had Delaware Women fall out of the final 16. We are all proud. But what if we arbitrarily changed the rules? What if we said, the final 8 will be determined not by whom was beaten by whom, but by the total number of baskets their team shot across the entire tournament. Suddenly a team that scored in the 80’s instead of the 50’s, goes forward, even though they’d been beaten in the first round by a team with fewer tournament points. Suddenly Delaware’s great run means very little. We are a loser like everyone else. “Oh, you should have tried harder to make baskets” they all say. I wonder who returns back to their home court with their heads high. I wonder who tries harder the next year. I wonder which teams recruit only guards with very high three point kill rates?

Higher standards do not work. They just mean fewer people can reach them. The do nothing for the top few elite who will be above 950 anyways. They ruin lives for everyone else… Higher standards on tests hurt our children. There is nothing wrong with what we are teaching now. The problem is that we are not teaching what we are teaching well enough so those on the bottom get it. Teaching even more, will do nothing to elevate the bottom. It will do nothing to put more into the top. All it will do, is make children think they are failures and give up….

Second. Using student data to drive classroom results. There have been cartoons this year showing students taking tests and the administrators joking that firing the teachers and just testing every school day could save them money. There is some sense to using technology to help students. However, theoretically, if tests are given 2 hours each day, how much instruction does that bite into? 10 hours a week? 40 hours a month? 360 hours a year? That last total is the equivalent at a 6 hour day, of 60 days spent taking tests. Remember, we are only talking about 2 hours a day, which in High School, is pretty accurate. Under which scenario does one learn new things better? During instruction? Or taking tests… ummm a? b? c? or d? On the other hand, the new software integrating parents, students, and teachers on the same page as grades get posted on a daily basis, is a godsend. Putting parents into the mix is rather helpful in creating a positive learning experience for each child.

Third. Ensuring teacher quality. This is a noble goal. But one of the great mysteries of Ancient Greece was that the Spartans who were rigorously disciplined and toughened to the highest order, almost always lost to the Athenians who were dilettantes in comparison. Imposing structure erases creativity. There is a tendency among government types to make all state employees into solders. That means drill Sergent techniques; it means battlefield toughening. In a military application, those techniques are necessary because in battle the mind gets blown; training has to take over. The only equivalent in a class room to such an experience, is if a student puts a gun to a teacher’s head… Our techniques are jeopardizing the sole proven tactic of transferring knowledge. A positive bond between teacher and student…. an understanding that success depends solely on the amount of knowledge downloaded from one to the other.

Here is where our education is facing its biggest problem… We are using the wrong tests to determine if a teacher should stay or go. We are putting teachers into a spot where they must cheat or fail. Since all up the ladder are accountable for the results that teacher brings, they do not insist with too much effort, that cheating does not occur. The best way to have a measurment of a student’s progress, is to remove teacher accountability from the testing. If a teacher keeps her job anyways, she does not have to cheat to get good results. Our results are accurate as to what a student knows or does not know. Of course, once we know exactly what a student does not know, we can rectify it.

Getting rid of all standardized testing is not the answer. Removing job safety concerns from these tests, is the answer. Ontario has done this. The tests are tools, opening a window into the soul of each child, and a teacher can then, fill in the blanks that got missed somewhere down the line…. Ontario, is probably the best in North America, to show real growth in their children across the board.

Turning around low performing schools. This is easy to do… Logically, focus on what works. A loving teacher and student relationship. To achieve that in a higher need school, you need more teachers. The ideal number would be eleven students for one teacher. If using the test scores, we were able to group students based off their scores into groups of eleven, so the average deviation between scores was 50 or 100 points, great headway could be made. For example in a grade of two hundred twenty students, twenty teachers would be needed. Using the bell curve the lowest eleven would be in one class, the second lowest eleven in another, as well as the highest eleven in another class, the second highest eleven in another, and so on. Those in the middle on the cusp of the curve, would probably be within one or two points of each other. But the beauty is that classes would be homogenized around their standard ability. A teacher wouldn’t be answering a top students question, when the person right next to him, had no clue what was even asked. They also wouldn’t cover a basic idea, thirty times until the student gets it, boring the top student next to him into giving up….

Testing is not the answer. Testing is a tool. Teachers are the answer. Teachers are not tools….

A student who can barely read or do math, does not need to be guessing at a physics problem far above his level. Likewise, for a physics student to answer a question of what is 2 +2 =__, is equally a wasted effort…. And this is where we err. Thinking that tests and corporate programs we buy into, can make that low performing student, suddenly get excited by a physics problem far above his grade level, and suddenly decided to become a math whiz. Reality fails to work that way….

Moving on.

But it is not enough to set high standards. Our students have to meet them. To do so, Delaware will use its rich data system and new assessment to support decision-making in the classroom. Good use of the data will make teachers and schools more effective. Parents and students will be able to use this information to demand that schools deliver.

Exactly what I said. But don’t use it to get rid of teachers or all we will get is teaching to the test and more cheating. The kids will learn how to take tests; not learn anything about the subject matter.

To that end, we will work with our institutions of higher education to establish teacher residency programs. We will develop a pipeline for strong principals by establishing leadership preparation programs. And we must better compensate teachers who produce results in our most challenging schools.

This sounds good and I find no fault with it’s aims. However your compensation packages are not effective. Being corporate hounds, monetary incentives are the first motivator one thinks of. I did the same. However, interaction with teachers, students and parents, has led me to believe there are better rewards. Teachers did not sign up to teach as a career for money. In public schools, I don’t think you can find one who is there to get rich. Talk to any teacher, and once they trust you, you understand they are there because they love to teach… THAT is what moves them. THAT is what moved each of our mentors that stick out from our early educational days. They love to teach. So the best way to motivate teachers is not with compensation, but, in making them teach even better by giving them more resources than they have now.

And the best way to get teachers to teach better is to limit their classes to 11 students… Whoever can achieve that goal first, will be the top educator in the world. Business will flock to that location just to absorb the talent of that labor pool…

If we are serious about education, we need to invest in more teachers, more schools, more infrastructure, and get our class sizes down to 11 students per teacher….

Only then, when every student doesn’t want to let either their peers or their teacher down, will we begin the resurrection of our educational system.

But, some people still don’t get it.

“We are requiring that new teachers show appropriate levels of student growth before receiving tenure. In addition, we have adopted a robust evaluation system under which teachers whose students do not show satisfactory levels of growth cannot be rated “effective.” Teachers whose students do show satisfactory levels of growth cannot be rated “ineffective.” We will also improve teacher preparation programs by linking teacher performance to the schools from which they graduated.”

It is still all about the test. This has to change….

But having world class schools does not alone ensure that all our children will get a world-class education. For that, we need an increase in parent’s engagement with their children’s education.

Parents need to realize the tests are hurting their kids. Across America this season, as tests are being rolled out in state after state, it is the parents who vote, who are asking their legislators the tough question. How does this test help my kid? When asked, the legislators agree with them that tests don’t.

Education has gotten worse since we went to standardized testing. Parents in Delaware need to increase their engagement with Delaware’s legislators and appeal to Governor Markell with their concerns.

My concern started because a little girl who loved English last year, who is in Common Core this year, says this year she has learned absolutely nothing… Nothing new.

When you think of the great United States of America and all the hopes, dreams, and visions it once held…. that is just so sad. So sad.

Put this much help on every teachers wish list

We all have a lot to do.

But, seriously, how can anyone prepare for tomorrows lesson, when they have this to do? No wonder our schools are failing”

From the Mind of Mike Matthews….

Donald Trump doesn’t even have this much to do. He has assistants. Administrators don’t have this much to do. They have assistants. Politicians don’t have this much to do. They have assistants. Not even Santa has this much work to do. He has assistants. But we are being told by all these that teachers don’t do their jobs….

Well, duh.

Fact, Alambama’s law is just the first.
Fact, Right to Work States are also anti-foreigner states.
Fact, Union states, have a more balanced approach to business.
Fact, laws passed by Alabama, Arizona, South Carolina, Georgia, Indiana, and Utah, will apply to your executives as well as Mexican farm workers.
Fact, in Alabama, one German executive was detained from a Mercedes Plant, and one Japanese executive visiting a Honda plant, was picked up in a dragnet.. Because they couldn’t prove they were citizens (they weren’t), they were incarcerated.. In both those cases hush money and calls from the state executive, took care of the issues, putting the executives out of jail.

If you are a foreign company, thinking of building in any redneck state to save labor, there is a good chance you might find yourself in jail the next time you visit…

As they currently say in Alabama (while the crops rot in the fields…). “The Law… is the Law.” You would be safer building a plant in Venezuela where, yes, it could be nationalized, than you are in building in Alabama where you can’t visit… or find decent workers who will work for the prices you want to pay.

Move North. Safest place? Delaware.

Education is a vast enterprise, covering the scope of human existence. Currently our nations entire bureaucratic focus is to raise our test scores. This starts on a national scale and penetrates right down to the roots of each individual. Obviously, to increase test scores, you remove those who are pulling down the average.

Since our obsession with test scores has mushroomed, so has our dropout rate. More students are failing to graduate. Is there a correlation?

It seems from personal experience that as soon as a child has taken his last DSTP in March of his 10th grade year, he is considered a lame duck, and is left in educational limbo. Of course that is not true, all school administration officials will sound…..but for those skeptics I challenge them to compare the intensity that exists before the test to that of the educational process that occurs afterward.

So from society’s point of view, what good does it do to increase test scores marginally, even as we fail to graduate more of those same students? In energy talk…..we are drilling a dry well.

Since Delaware, due to the relationship of its size to its wealth, is the perfect laboratory to test this rethinking, we should begin debating the use of graduation rates to rank our schools.

But wait,…. some of the more astute will say. That is just what we did before testing and people were being passed to the next grade even though they were not ready? They are right. Graduation rates alone should not be the final word in ranking a school.

When struggling with a problem, it is always prudent to ask, 1) who is doing it right and 2) how can we do what they are doing. Reinventing the wheel is usually fun, but is always much more expensive than purchasing one cheap that does the job.

Except for the US, almost all other industrialized nations have a comprehensive exam that is taken post secondary school. We have two that could be used. The ACT and the SAT. Our higher educational institutions have relied on these two tests for half a century to determine the future potential of a high school graduate.

So what if we made the SAT mandatory? To be taken at the end of the senior year? For one, most college bound students have already taken it twice, so perhaps they may pull off their highest score yet……. 2) It is pre-standardized making the act of developing a separate state test nothing more than a waste of money. 3) It can be trained and taught within a curriculum that begins with the seventh grade. 4) Every student can be given the pre-study books out today that not only trains one on the questions that will be asked, but in the explanations provided, actually teaches how to solve the problems better than all but the most motivating teachers on the planet. 5). As a student graduates, the test score beside their name, gives future institutions a clear idea of whether they deserved to graduate.

Therefore, by streamlining the DSTP to blend and meet with the future criteria of the final Comprehensive Exam (SAT), we can use that data to determine and rate the effectiveness of each student, each teacher, each school, each district, each state, as well as the quality of our nation’s educational output compared to our intellectual rivals for future economic opportunities.

Now that we have a way of measuring results, it is time we get to the heart of the problem and figure out how to stem the drop out rate that is extremely high in schools where our poverty is the highest.

Again we turn to someone who has succeeded. The inner city district showing the most success is the Boston District. Basically they have found that it is rather cheap to target those individuals where intercession is needed, intercede, and follow through up to the point they graduate.

Delaware does well in the lower grades (K-5). Our problems develop first at the middle school level, and continue into the district’s high schools. Based on the inner city districts of other cities, we can be reasonably assured that if and when a Wilmington District is reborn, that it will have the highest drop out rate of all Delaware’s schools. Especially if nothing is done to intercede.

The intercession dollar amount tabulated in Boston was between 600 to 800 additional dollars needed per student. In Delaware this funding will need to come from other sources outside the current revenue flow patterns for our schools.

The Chicago school district study reveals an even finer point. Based on correlations with those who failed in freshman year or 9th grade, with those who failed to graduate, by interceding just with those failing or about to fail (D), one could make drastic reductions in the graduation failure rate, and increase the numbers of those continuing education beyond high school.

The most interesting facet of the study was this caveat. Interviews with 8th graders still showed strong positive outlooks towards their future. Many thought they were going to college, or getting a great job. But physical data directly shows that those who fail one grade in freshman year, will probably not go all the way to finish high school.

One failing grade during freshman year has not been considered critical. The student has three years left, they can make it up. But evidence shows that the tendency exists to fail another courses the next year and the year after that. It is the accumulative effect that disillusions most students who then fail to apply excessive effort.

100% success rate is a worthy goal, and may be achievable. However my concern is reducing the rate of drop outs.

What worked in Chicago was targeting those in freshman year who needed additional help, and giving it to them. Once they had the basics down pat in algebra, the tended to do well on their own in the upper classes.

Of course parents and society have a part to play in the ennui occurring in each student. But even those students who had nothing to go home to, if given proper respect, encouragement, and instruction at school, they too began to believe in themselves despite their economic surroundings.

This is just one head of Delaware’s hydra of educational problems. But for someone looking for a bang for the buck, and willing to donate substantial funds to do Wilmington’s poverty stricken schools some good, this intense focus on incoming high school freshmen, just might to the trick…………

Positivity works with children. Negativity works for wizened adults. Unless you turn an inner city school into a meaningful experience for each student who lives in an inner city environment, you give them no reason for wanting to succeed.

Many of you who read this blog have already left your comments on FSP ‘s coverage of this topic several days ago.

Tempted as I was to add my two cents worth, doing so would not really accomplish anything except to say “I told you so.”

I don’t know about you, but I always tend to put “I told you so” type people in boxes shaped like Robertson, Nostradamus, Rasputin, and Falwell. These characters come from the same mold as the girl on every American’s playground who shows up when we are around the age of 2nd grade, and makes many wild predictions to any gullible listener. When one of them at last comes true, she does not let a single soul forget it: “See….I told you so….”

So I didn’t comment. I went to the original source instead.

The headline says that Americans have a low opinion of Congress. Of course we are supposed to believe that it is because it is being led by a women for the first time, or a Democrat, or both………

What it doesn’t tell you is that along with Congress, the Presidency, the Supreme Court, Big Business, the Criminal Justice System, Organized Labor all took hits as well. Percentage wise, Congress’s drop was small, 4% when compared to a drop of confidence in the presidency, 59% from his height. What could cause Americans of all persuasions to become disillusioned simultaneously with all three branches of American government? The answer can be explained in one word……..

Republicans

Singlehandedly this group has cause Americans more problems than any other group in America’s history. Americans are more disillusioned now than any time since the Great Depression. The “malaise” that Reagan tried to pin on Carter, today looks like a flower garden to most Americans who compare it to what we have now. We had the nerve to complain that gas was 86 cents a gallon. Today every American is not only paying more for gas, but is paying far more for insurance, far more for out of pocket expenses (no longer covered by insurance for profitability reasons), far more for pharmaceuticals, a whopping 60% more for electricity. One remembers the good old days: gasoline was 99 cents a gallon throughout most of the Clinton years. In just a few short years under Republicans, this administration has taken a hopeful American society and run it through the gutter.

It should be no surprise to anyone that a pollster calling one of our citizens out of the blue, will get a negative response.

But the “malaise”being generated by the Republican Party throughout their leadership in both houses of Congress , the Executive Branch, and now the Judicial Branch as well, has affected all areas measured by the Gallop Poll data. Dropping in confidence down from last year, are also the military, the police, television stations, newspapers, banks, churches and organized religions.

Churches and religions! For heavens sakes! The Republicans have even destroyed America’s respect and confidence in their own churches. Far more sinful in most citizens eyes , is the malpractice that Republicans have shown towards the American Military. Their failure to put enough troops in Iraq, their failure to fund enough body armor, their failure to armor plate the Humvee being driven all around Iraq, their failure to assist returning veterans, is extremely outrageous. And now, even the military has had to suffer a setback in their reputation among American citizens. Unbelievable.

Do you know who improved their confidence levels over this time. In this years poll, no one group showed any improvement.

FSP tries to blame this malaise on Biden. Perhaps five people will believe that. The “malaise” comes from the war that is going poorly, the deficit that is growing exponentially, the inability of Americans to pay for what they need to light their homes and stay warm through winter, the increased cost of travel, all the while we see Exxon Mobile with record breaking quarters of 36 billion.

Perhaps this “malaise” is aggravated by the Republican’s poor choice of those they hire who then can’t perform the duties required of their position. We all remember the woe that one FEMA appointment brought. Not to mention all those political appointees who destroyed Iraq under Jerry Bremmer, during the early years when with the right leadership, we could have won the battle and have been home now.

So it is with great thanks that I want to commend Dave and FSP for publishing this poll. If it weren’t for his site and the silly comments posted by those who did not take the time to research and read the actual poll, I would have said “Ho hum” and let it pass by.

The Poll proves but one thing. There is a general “Malaise” pervading the entire American nation. It is much worse than the last one we experienced during the late Bush ’41 years. It is even worse than those years that Carter was hostage to the Ayatollah of Iran. It is that bad……….

This malaise is solely one of the Republican’s making. They own this one. They were in charge of the Executive, they were in charge of the Legislative, and they controlled the Judicial Branch during the last six years. Democrats have only the tiniest majority in just one of the branches. They have only had it for six months, just 1/12th the time Republicans have had control. However, …….despite such a short time, more good has come out of this Congress in the first hundred days, than any other Congress of recent memory.

America needs to remember who brought this on.

Republicans, if they are to survive, needs to find a leader who repudiates everything the current crop of Republicans ever did. It is no coincidence that those candidates who are chasing the deep pockets within the Republican party with hand extended out, are falling further and further behind in the national polls.