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As tiny pieces of evidence slowly matriculate like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle which slowly begin to show the image of what is to come, another critical piece of the puzzle became available to the public today….

What a full blown audit of Newark Charter School would give us, would be the equivalent of looking at the image on the box the puzzle came in, as opposed to trying to guess blind what the puzzle would look like when finished…

We can either do the audit now, or we can do it later. But as the pieces of the growing puzzle now show, there is a very strong oder of malfeasance emanating from the structures off Elkton Rd., just this side of the Maryland State Line.

A  well-esteemed state auditor was pulled off the investigation of this school by her political boss. Instead of the investigation going forward, it was halted. Letters to the charter schools were sent privately outlining what had been found. You can see some of those letters here….

Newark Charter School is in violation of the IRS mandated law that all charter schools file IRS form 990.  Newark Charter School has never filed… Doing so would leave a track record allowing one to track money disappearing from year to year.  One can see why there is a lot of political heat applied to anyone attempting to investigate the insides of that furnace….

Furthermore, under the new audit law passed last year… any Charter School failing an audit, can be audited by the State Auditor.  Otherwise they can employ their own auditors who they can control….

“The State Auditor of Accounts office would also be audited for that fiscal year by the Auditor of Accounts.  By making the petty cash audit turn into letters instead of a full-blown inspection report, those five charter schools will not get a full financial audit by the Auditor of Accounts office this year.”

Which would make signories of the lawsuit against Christina School District for even more funding than legally required,  all guilty of a gross mishandling of money they already have….

In other words,  the thieves did not want it known they were stealing money, until the money was first delivered into their hands…

So… if you really want to fix this, what do you do?

First and foremost:  cut the head off the body.. Defeat Dave Sokola in his Senatorial Election for District 8 in North Newark to South Hockessin.  If you live there, vote for Meredith Chapman for State Senate.  If you don’t, please go here to donate… Meredith Chapman for Senate.

Why is this critical?  Because in the Senate this year a tough audit bill on charter schools was winning and Dave Sokola, the more senior of the legislators and one to whom many legislative favors are owed, substituted the bill allowing guilty charters to “hire” their own auditor. This left no doubt for all to see that any attempt to make public schools better and charter schools more accountable, will be shot down as long as he is in legislature…

You HAVE to take out the gun doing the shooting… Please donate… Please vote for Meredith Chapman…

Secondly and more to the point. you need to began the clamor of an audit of Newark Charter School.   Why do they need more money than public schools when they are the largest Charter in Delaware?  How are they financing the two new buildings they have built and staffed off the per student funding from Christina? Why are they charging parents for their child’s field trips and student activities to the tune of $440,000 and then billing the state for at same amount (Delaware Checkbook) ?  What are they doing with that extra money? Is it legal? Is it extortion of the parents?  Can public schools also charge parents of their students $440,000 per each 2000 students?  Is there a double standard? Why did they continue to flaunt the IRS standard requiring they file a IRS 990, even when explicitly warned by the IRS not to do so?  Is everything really “ok” there, or are they in very huge deep trouble and are simply moving the same shell around to whomever is looking next?

All these demand a full audit of the Newark Charter School and obvious from the release coming from one of our own state legislators elected to Delaware’s House of Delegates, we cannot trust the Republican Tom Wagner to fulfill society’s obligation and tear into the financial labyrinth that obfuscates Newark Charter School’s accounting.  The number one reason for doing any audit, is that is always cheaper to find a problem early on and then correct it as opposed to let it go unattended, finally costing millions to correct damage that could have more cheaply been nipped in the bud….

Delaware taxpayers need to demand a full audit of Newark Charter School … and hopefully will be able to do so when Dave Sokola is no longer there to squelch it….

Thirdly:  if there is nothing wrong with Newark Charter School, and everything is on the up and up,  a full blown audit going back to 2008 would certainly do very much to dampen the anti-Charter movement growing like a flash fire in this state…  “Ok”, all would say, “so the biggest charter is NOT corrupt, we can move on then”… It would be the best thing that could ever happen to the entire Delaware Charter Network….

So then…. With what they know…. why are they fighting it so stringently?  Why did they ask that the State Auditor of Accounts not investigate their finances though required by law to look at all public entities?  Why did they lobby for a bill to allow their own auditors, ones they can direct and force to hide things is necessary, instead of impartial ones?  Why did they demand and get a very awesome public servant pulled off the ongoing audit of all charters, and have her removed from the force and kept under a gag order?

When one is doing wrong, they always telegraph by their actions exactly where it is they do not want you to look…

All signals point that place to be Newark Charter School… That is where all the dirt is hidden… That will either bring down the entire charter myth that they are indeed good institutions, or it will exonerate many of doing their best under the hard circumstances they encountered…

What we need is a bill passed thorough legislature, ordering the Christina District to hire the auditor and receive the report of Newark Charter Schools finances from 2008 to now… After all, it is all Christina’s money keeping that Charter School afloat; it should be them to whom the auditor must answer and appease…..

 

 

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For Mike O:  http://www2.ed.gov/policy/elsec/leg/essa/nprmaccountabilitystateplans52016.pdf

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States can choose their own indicators of school quality or student success that move beyond traditional accountability measures based on test scores and graduation rates.

Regulations do not prescribe an “n-size,” or minimum number of a particular group of students at a school, for that group of students to be included for accountability purposes.

If a school is scoring at the lowest-possible level on any academic indicator, it has to get a different summative rating than a school that’s getting top marks on all the indicators.

The regulations state that, “To ensure that differentiation of schools is meaningful, the accountability system should allow for more than two possible outcomes for each school.”

For each accountability indicator, there must be three distinct levels of performance assigned to schools that are “clear and understandable to the public.”

Regulations do not dictate how states must deal with schools that assess less than 95 percent of all their students.States find the solution themselves.

States now have these four options to address an individual school’s low test-participation rates: (below 95%)

(1) assign a lower summative rating to the school;

(2) assign the lowest performance level on the State’s Academic Achievement indicator;

(3) identify the school for targeted support and improvement.

(4) switch to a different test and vendor.

States must identify schools with subgroups that, based on the state’s indicators, underperform over two or more years.

Of the weights that must be used for different accountability factors, the academic factors would have to have a “much greater” weight than the measures of school quality or student success in accountability systems.

Schools identified for “comprehensive support” can’t get that label removed on the basis of progress in that indicator, unless it is making sufficient progress on other indicators.

Each subgroup of students (like economically disadvantaged students and those in special education) must be considered separately for accountability.  (“super subgroups” or the big groups combining several different subgroups of students that proliferated under waivers from No Child Left Behind, can no longer be used in place of an individual subgroup of students.)

Schools in need of comprehensive support include: the bottom 5 percent of Title I schools in the state; high schools with graduation rates below 67 percent for all students based on the four-year adjusted cohort graduation rate; and Title I schools with chronically low-performing subgroups that have not improved after receiving additional targeted support.

Schools in need of targeted support include schools with a low-performing subgroup performing similarly to all students in the bottom 5 percent of Title I schools

The end of the “pass/fail” era of No Child Left Behind: “Proposed regulations clarify ESSA’s statutory language by ensuring the use of multiple measures of school success based on academic outcomes, student progress, and school quality, thereby reinforcing that all students deserve a high-quality and well-rounded education that will prepare them for success.”

 

 

Like every new idea, ones defenses go up… “Whoa there, buddy…. ”

Except for sports careers, it kinda does make sense….

We ask children who’ve finished learning, emotionally, psychologically, (and for the most part) biologically, to stay on-board for two years of “extra” curricular activities which when we reflect back on our years, all of which we learned academically in those two years, rarely get used today…. (sex is a different story).

Before you jump the shark, recognize this:  that if we keep the final two years optional… (by making them years to opt-in on), we also make them preferential which tends to allow discipline to be internally enforced by each student who chooses to continue onward ( ie, the reality of being kicked out is a real negative; it is no longer something to brag about)…

Here’s why. The issue I hear from High Schools today, and this involves input from students, faculty, parents and administrators, boils down to this:  that a lot of young adults in the upper grades do NOT WANT TO LEARN….  Every negative aspect stems from that single ubiquitous elephant in the room:  discipline problems, lack of personal respect, work ethic, mental alertness, focus, fights, productivity, lack of motivation, etc. …

And every time a round table discusses how to improve high school performance, someone (this is true) inevitably says:  if only we could cull those who don’t want to be there, most of our problems would go away… Sigh:  but that will never happen……………………………….”

So what I’m asking:  is…. why can’t that happen?

Rule 1:  Every child must be in school till age 18.

In society, this is a relative new rule.  When there is no solid structure supporting society adulthood entry levels move downward, usually settling around somewhere in the low teens, correlating with puberty for the most part…  Romans married off their children at 13. That was also the age of dissolving parent-child bonds in the Middle Ages on the continent of Europe.   Native Americans, both North and South, also became adults then…

Obviously there must be precedent: our own Common Core Standards stop measuring before reaching the upper grades.

So, instead of forcing people who for multiple reasons do not want to continue schooling to go against their will through the motions of being schooled, what if we provided an alternative?

For example what if we allowed them to work at something on the scale of our military, which was the template for the CCC, Civilian Conservation Corps?  Those men like the military, stayed in camps, had discipline structure,  meals and lodging provided, and worked hard (physical labor) for a dollar a day…  When they were ready to leave, they had a nest egg on which to begin. Today, we should do $20 a day.

Yes. It would take planning to iron out details.. We would need input from a variety of societal perspectives to discover just the right mix.

But, a 16 year old could be given the option, based on his past feeling over his 11 years (counting kindergarten) of public schooling, to decide whether or not they wanted to start work, or go to college… Their growing brain would continue learning, just not stuff that was irrelevant to them…

And if someone ever made the wrong choice by staying in classes inappropriate for them, and became consistently disruptive or violent, there would be a ready option available outside of public schooling into which we quickly place them.

After all for our first 200 years, most of America’s success was built on the backs of Americans who did not finish high school…

This solution would solve or at least dilute many of high school’s problems.

  • Disruptive Classes
  • Fewer Discipline events
  • Poor Work Ethic
  • Disrespect for Authority
  • Low test scores (that are meaningless to those who care not.)

 

And there is a model. In a corporation when one has a division of ones company that is not adding to the bottom line but taking from it, one sells it off.  As soon as the transaction occurs, ones results improve…

Why not use that same model in high school and make grades 11 and 12 elective? By simply having an alternative, most students will choose to continue to opt-in, willingly continuing their free public education because is serves in their best long-term interests to do so…

Once they’ve gained this realization, their whole attitude changes….

Because the entire problem with High Schools today is that we force them to deal with people who DON’T want to be there (like prisons)…  And I don’t know about you, but my High School was not like that. That type of element was just not around.

I’m proposing we make this happen in our schools …

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are her educational proposals (in case you did not know).

A. Remold the entire American system for human resources development…scaling up the whole new human resources system nationwide over the next four years, using the (renamed) apprenticeship ideas as the entering wedge.

B. Create a seamless web of opportunities, to develop one’s skills that literally extends from cradle to grave.

C. It needs to be a system driven by client needs,  (Clients?)  guided by client’s clear standards and regulated on the basis of outcomes that providers produce for their clients.

D. Proposed Methods To Accomplish These Goals.

1) scaling up the whole new human resources system nationwide over the next four years, using the (renamed) apprenticeship ideas as the entering wedge.

2) combine initiatives on dislocated workers, a rebuilt employment service and a new system of labor market boards to offer the Clinton administration’s employment security program.

3) concentrate on the overwhelming problems of our inner cities, combining elements of the first and second packages into a special program to greatly raise the work-related skills of the people trapped in the core of our great cities.

4) advance the elementary and secondary reform agenda.

E.  Clear national standards of performance in general education and public schools are expected to bring all but the most severely handicapped up to that standard. Students get a certificate when they meet this standard, allowing them to go on to the next stage of their education.

F.  We have a national system of education in which curriculum, pedagogy, examinations, and teacher education and licensure systems are all linked to the national standards.

G.  We have a system that rewards students who only meet the national standard, with further education and good jobs, providing them a strong incentive to work hard in school.

H.   Our public school systems are reorganized to free up school professionals to make the key decisions. Most of the federal, state, district and union rules and regulations that now restrict school professionals’ ability to make these decisions, are swept away.

I.  There is a real — aggressive — program of public choice in our schools, rather than the flaccid version that is widespread now.

J.  All students are guaranteed that they will have a fair shot at reaching the standards: that is, that whether they make it or not depends only on the effort they are willing to make, and nothing else.

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Ok… here is my comment… Words can be used or misused.  If these ideas sound great to you, understand that all the measured results hinge on Item J above.

The current Smarter Balanced and PAARC through leaks made by students and teachers everywhere have been conclusively shown to be unfair to minorities, disabled, English language learners, the impoverished, or people who deeply believe in religion. All are put to a disadvantage compared to those who receive excessive stimulation from the cradle to kindergarten at home… To the difference of entering kindergarten with a 10,000 word vocabulary advantage…

The  biggest problem with Common Core, Race To The Top, the lowered NEAP scores, the drop in Smarter Balanced Scores over the previous DCAS, the pinning of teachers performance to the test, and school closures, etc.,…. is that the test is flawed… It is designed NOT to be fair, but the exact opposite… IT IS DESIGNED TO BE VERY UNFAIR AND SEPARATE THE WHEAT FROM THE CHAFF VERY EARLY ON……(“By 2nd grade we will know who and who is not, going to college” –Arne Duncun.)

If you are black; you will be 2nd class no matter how hard you work (no more black brain surgeons); if you are Hispanic and have parents who speak Spanish, no matter how hard you work, you will be 2nd class (no more conservative Hispanic immigrants running for Republican President); if you are disabled, sorry, automatically 2nd class; if you are gay or transgender, again sorry, you will be fixed to remain in the 2nd class; if you hail from fundamentalist religions, forget it, you will persecuted and designated 2nd class.  Bottom line: if you think differently from how an executive thinks,  your test guesses will not be correct, and you will never be given the opportunity to try your hand at making a decent living. Because:  “We” have already decided what you can or cannot be…

Now rereading that last paragraph, I know it could possibly sound to those who’ve not read previous in-depth test critiques,…. perhaps, a little overblown? Or stretching the fear envelope a little?

My simple answer is for you to take the test (click the blue colored link), find your child’s grade level and take the test yourself… (the answers are also there so you can check your results; if you disagree with the answers (you will), you can also see the reasoning (or lack of it) as to why they chose their answer…

If you don’t come away from that experience thinking this test is nothing but arbitrary in its questions and responses, then you too have great executive potential in this upcoming brave new world created in alignment with corporate values done without any input from teachers, parents, students, or school districts….

Boils down to this:  it’s the test, stupid… It’s all about the test…It is only about the test… Change the test and some of these ideas are not bad… Keep the test and they will doom the next generation of Americans to the complacency of just being adequate at best, or chaos at worst…

In the meantime, I’d recommend all educationally concerned parents to vote for someone other than Hillary.  Not for any personal reasons or for support to other candidates.  Just that her ideas for education are bad for the nation’s future.. That’s all.  If you reading this have any pull with her, get her to change her views, will you?

 

 

He lost. The teacher who was number one in the state before having her children tested, who then failed her evaluation after having her tested children scored by the state, whereas the both years’ children’s scores were practically identical, has won.  She was deemed to have been treated unfairly by the VAM test developed by then head of New York’s Public Education John King, now the new Secretary of Education for the US.

The judge was clear.  The teacher had a high bar to reach to prove her low evaluation was based on solely on actions “taken without sound basis of reason or regard to the facts”.

To this she proved…“.In sum, the court found the petitioner has met her burden of establishing that her growth score and rating on for 2013-14 was indisputably arbitrary and capricious.”

The decision should qualify as the persuasive authority for other teachers challenging growth scores throughout the country.  The positive outcome of this decision was in part due to the expert testimony of the following, whom I’ll include here for future lawsuits to reference.

Professor Darling-Hammond,

Professor Pallas,

Professor Amrein-Beardsley,

Professor Sean Corcoran

Professor Jesse Rothstein 

(Please click the links for contact references)…

New York Supreme Court Judge Roger McDonough stated his decision was strictly for this case and he could not go beyond it to rule all evaluations “null and void”, because the evaluation process has since been changed.  But even so, this is the first time a judge has ruled that tying evaluations to a standardized test is “arbitrary and capricious”.  There are 49 other states out there who right now, all need their own court case to lock this bad policy in a casket six feet deep where it belongs….

Standardized tests do not belong in an evaluation process.

 

District $ Per Student

Courtesy of Edweek.org

Vergara Ruling Overturned by State Appeals Court….

A California appeals court, reversing a trial court’s ruling in the landmark Vergara case, has found that California’s job-protection laws for teachers do not in fact violate the state constitution’s equal protection guarantee.

 

The appeals court ruled April 14 that the plaintiffs in the Vergara case had failed to prove sufficiently that the state’s teacher-employment laws, including tenure and termination provisions, “inevitably cause a certain group of students to receive an education inferior to the education received by other students.”

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Exactly what those of us who read the transcripts all said… We called it a kangeroo court because it decided it decision based on shots called down to it, and not on the evidence put before the court.  There was no way the evidence pointed to that decision.

 

This is good news.   In the national test-case for unions, Unions have been declared legal and can stand stronger now……

A similar case to Vergara was  just filed in Minnesotaand this decision may put a knife in it early up there.

Having read Kevin’s account of the Donna Johnson trying to make the case for banning public comment at State Board meetings, a case that baffled everyone in the room, it opens a door into what is really going on….

There is a standard question on corporate profiling questionnaires which asks whether you think it is funny when someone falls down…. Although the corporate answer to that is: what does the boss think, in real life outside the corporate world, the answer depends on how close our relationship is to the victim… if it’s our mother, it’s not funny.

Watching Donna Johnson fall down and keep slipping as she tries to regain her footage each subsequent time, reminded one of that question. There I’m sure were some who gleefully watched her twist in the wind… But even Kevin says he felt sorry for her…

Things like this would be funny if it didn’t affect 130,000 of Delaware’s children… And the dialogue that took place under questioning from House Education members, made an overall picture very clear.

WE are in a transitioning phase…. The DOE which once was stacked to the top with corporate whores, now has those whores all heading for the door… What once made very good sense in a corporate bubble, now with no bubble walls to bounce off the echoes, lacks the high frequency of repetitions required to make it become absorbed as truth.

In the past, and correct me if I’m wrong, if Donna Johnson would make a nonsensical statement, Mark Murphy would chime in with nonsensical word salad, then Penny Marshall would add some nonsensical word dessert and Paul Hefferman would follow up with nonsensical word coffee and his word nuts, and listeners would be too full of words to take in anything else without first going to the word toilet….

And that is how so much crap became law……

Now without the support, the idiocy is wide open…  bringing us to this probably important question… Can the Department of Education do its job if it is seen as being staffed by idiots?

And no, they are not idiots.  They are smart people in the wrong place at the wrong time.. They have one agenda which is charter propagation…  In a water where everything is pro-charter they function fine.. If they have to leap out of that environment, before they could always trust gravity would  bring them back into the ocean in which they were comfortable.

But now, they keep coming down  on land…. And watching them flop about is kind of sad.

At stake is can the Department function with this rift?  And that is why I think Godowsky needs to set his future goals in public education,  determine which members of his staff can get him there and who needs to go elsewhere, and create one team all on the same page, so we can put the shenanigans forever associated with the tenure of Mark Murphy, behind us.

If you didn’t first see the legal expert’s video go here and then come back….

It is not a warning, but just a reality check as to what “could” happen you you as a parent if you allow your child to take the Smarter Balanced Assessment…

Moving forward now, here is what that new legislation should address.

Whereas behavioral, class attendance, class performance and traditional forms of data like grades have been collected, now there is greater interest in collecting metadata which is information about how a child is interacting with the program, interacting with the software, data which is highly marketable and a lot of companies are scrambling to obtain that data. They are looking at it to assess school products, to assess teachers’ teaching methods, and to assess a child’s future in order to open and close doors long before a child reaches the hallway those doors are on.

The question hereto unasked, unsolved and unanswered, is how are we going to structure that access to data…  so it is fair to children, to parents, to teachers, to schools….

The worst-case-scenario is abuse of these to harm children.. instances where they are improperly tracked and improperly labeled and improperly sent down wrong pathways they shouldn’t be sent.

All because of bad data practices….

Before going forward, we need to have “good” data practices implemented and have teeth in the law so even bad people will want to do good…

Necessary to this is a blanket protection on ALL data acquired on a child… All data is unavailable to anyone outside those directly involved. The scope of protection…. has to be very broad….

Next step is to establish very clear use restrictions…. as in what can this data be used for?… Make it open and shut… “Can this data be used by Skippy Peanut Butter?”  “Let us check the clear use restrictions.”  “No, it does not allow transference of data to Skippy Peanut Butter”….  Open and shut.

Then we need to add a flexible option, so educated parents can choose to “opt in” on having other sources of information disseminated about their child…  It becomes the parent’s choice whether their child’s data can be used and to whom those additional users may be.

And finally to all of these there should be added some type of repercussions, which are strong enough to make violating any of these tenants, financially risky.

Currently there is none. Nada.  The only restriction is in FERPA  The Federal government can withhold money from a school district if there is a violation of FERPA. In the 41 years of FERPA, that has never happened. If a school district violates your child’s privacy, if the State violates your child’s privacy, if a vendor violates your child’s privacy, as a parent, you have no private right of action.

In this environment, your child’s data once acquired, is available to all. John Carney can even acquire a list of marginal students and call their parents to get their votes.  Everything is wide open.

As a society we often venture into new territory first, learning as we go.  The first cars didn’t have brakes because you just previously told the horse to slow down; the thought did not cross their inventor’s minds until racing down the road. When we went into Iraq, we didn’t have a plan on how to govern once we took over.  Dick Cheney didn’t think of it. We’d just take it and suck out their oil.

Today, we don’t let just anyone drive. They have to demonstrate they know how. Likewise today we don’t let anyone set up and operation room and extract live organs. They have to prove they are capable in knowledge and ability.

Therefore we really shouldn’t allow the Smarter Balanced to go forward until we fix these problems it leaves in its wake. Should we?

Here is the approach which should be taken. WE need a figurehead bill put up that WHEREAS’s all the facts listed above, to preface a bill advocating the immediate eradication of the Smarter Balanced for security reasons, as our one test in Delaware. This won’t pass nor is it intended to.. It’s purpose is to create a lightning rod for all educational wonks on both sides to focus their attention upon. Despite a probable prognosis for failure, the full-press  floor fight for its passage should be passionate, since that is what drives public scrutiny and shapes public opinion.

Then invisibly, under the radar, 4 new bills need to be quietly slipped through, addressing the plugging of each of the 4 holes illuminated above…  Bill 1) We need state blanket protection of all data. Bill 2) We need to determine exactly who, what, where that data will be allowed to go. Bill 3) We need to allow parents the right to “opt in” into allowing further data to be disseminated. And finally Bill 4) we need some type of gigantic bankruptcy-causing-punitive-damage and jail for anyone violating a child’s privacy without the express permission of his parents.

By then (if our crystal ball is correct) the Smarter Balanced will most likely have been replaced with another test (unless it scores a magnificent save this year) and the above protections will be in place long before any new test (if any at all), materializes…