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High Stakes Testing is just that… High stakes… The underlying principle is that we hire you to do a job and if you don’t accomplish that job, we fire you; putting someone better in.

The job the education governor and his Secretary of Education were supposed to perform, was raise test scores.  Test scores went down.

So under high stakes testing, what happens to a teacher when her scores go down?  She gets fired.

So under high stakes testing, what happens to a school when it’s scores go down?  It gets closed.

So under high stakes testing, what happens to the State of Delaware when it’s scores go down?  It loses Federal Funding.

Our scores went down and Federal Funding for Race To The Top is not coming back….

Who was responsible?   Our Governor who put in all these programs, invested millions of dollars in consultants, and paid heavily invested Wall Street educational companies to run our state’s education system…

If a teacher gets fired, if a school gets closed, if a state loses its grants, shouldn’t someone at the top be held accountable?  or is it that high stakes testing only works for the poor, and downtrodden, but those at the top can do whatever they please?

Probably the latter is true, which is why we don’t see Mark Murphy packing his bags and headed to another Common Core State.  Though he did NOT improve our states results (they actually got worse), he does not have to fear for his job.

Why?  Because events were out of his control…  So he shouldn’t be fired…

One would hope, the Delaware peoples’ sense of fairness would come into play here.  One would think..  Why would we not fire the Secretary of Education, but fire his secretary who made his phone calls?  Why would we not fire the proponents of charter schools who are in danger of failing dismally,, but fire those teachers doing well in those public schools competing against charter schools for student funding?  Why would we fire those teachers who make strong gains with inner city children, and heap laud and praises on those in Charter Schools who took last years top students, and made them into this year’s top students?

Why would we use a double standard and fire those on the bottom, but allow those on the top to do the same mediocre performance they have always done in the past?   Why would we fire those on the bottom from whom we tied their hands behind their backs, and pulled all the necessary resources needed to do their job, and not fire those who took those resources away?

“Put simply, the Delaware public should NOT tolerate, a Governor and Legislature who refuse to provide sufficient resources to high need schools and then turn around and blame the schools and communities for their own failures. (all the while, protecting millions of dollars in separate aid programs that drive funds straight into charter schools embedded in wealthy districts).”

They should be fired…  Either one of two things must happen… If we choose to go the route of high-stakes testing, then it needs to apply to those at the top too. Actually first.  If Michelle Rhee had gotten fired, none of the turmoil would have happened causing a whole generation to get lost.   Or if you are not going to fire those at the top for factors they are responsible for, but have no control over, then you shouldn’t be firing those teachers dealing with poverty in their classrooms, with single parent issues, with neglect, with crime, with drugs, with home abuse, with parents who are unemployed.  Sure they are responsible for doing the best they can;  but you can’t have one set of rules at the top, another at the bottom and maintain your office….

Mark Murphy works for Jack Markell.  He gets fired when Jack is tired of him.  Jack will not be running for state office.  He has two  and a half years left on this cycle.

But, next November, we have legislative elections.   We can pressure and fire THEM  based on their attitudes and votes this upcoming session.  If they don’t and can’t get high scores this next summer, and if they run on firing and demoting teachers, they should receive their just desserts.

This is actually very doable in this state.  WE can eliminate all those legislators who state that teachers and parents are at fault for our schools, and turn a blind eye to their removal of “in school” funding, forcing public school teachers to have to do more, with much, much, less…  Anyone who says we need to cut costs in schools, needs to go.  Anyone who promotes a charter school, needs to go…. Anyone who by doing these things that damage the rest of our children who are trying to learn in some of the best public school districts in the country, before school reform began tearing them down…. needs to go.

A short list of those who, by their actions last session, should, unless they change, face the same forms of accountability affecting those who work in public schools.

David Sokola

Patty Blevins.

Greg Lavelle

Earl Jacques

Vote them out……

Over the weekend, In a consortium of teachers from three states, Maryland, Delaware, and Pennsylvania  (sorry jersey, will get you in next time,)  the following consensus developed.

Teachers accepted the reality that  they have no choice but to deal with the mandates of Common Core, and so most are devoting a majority of their focus on how to augment, and slip in the old school type of teaching to cover those important things that Common Core neglects…

Someone likened it to surreptitiously  building relationships in the corporate world, despite every attempt by the corporation, to impede it.

So based on the passion of these teachers, that is what will be happening.  If your child seems to be learning, it is because their teachers are only paying “lip service” to common core, and teaching the way they were instructed by their top notch teaching instructors.

One participant summed it up nicely.

“We can’t just abandon our kids because of all this crap.”

It became obvious that organizing teachers during the school year to fight and argue against Common Core, would divert their attention away from what is most important.  Our children.

It will have to become a fight of parents against The Corporations if we are going to continue the past 5 decades of real growth in our educational scores, a direct result of our public school systems.

Markell is taking flack for this statement already.  it’s barely noon.

“When you go into the classroom, you see that this is something our teachers support and our students are excited about, and you get to see why.”

How could something so completely wrong, be supported by classroom experience?

“Hello, Teacher.. SOandSO… This is Delaware’s Governor, Jack Markell, the man in charge of the state, including your boss, the Secretary of Education, Mark Murphy, as well as the head of the Delaware State Police. Can he ask a few questions.”

Thank you, I’m Governor Jack Markell, head of the Delaware State Police and YOUR boss, Mark Murphy, as well as all those in line over your head who are responsible to him….  I am also the person responsible for instituting Common Core into your schools.  I’m here to find how well you appreciate all the work I’ve put into this.. Oh sorry, (smiles) Excuse me just one second…. Aide, can you get me Secretary Mark Murphy on the line for me, put him on hold so I can get to him when I’m done here… Then get the Police commissioner.  I’m going to need some information out of the personal files…..”

“Yes, where was I?  Oh right… Common Core.   How do you like Common Core?”

“I like it.”

‘Good, is there anything I can do to improve on it?”

No, it’s just great… just the way it is..

“Students, do you like  Common Core?”

Yes, Sir, Mr. Jack.

“Very well then… Common Core is obviously a success…”


But what do teachers really say when their boss is not breathing down their neck?

They say this:

“I am sick to my stomach over this APPR plan…. I just received my score, and I am two points away from being “effective” as a teacher. I scored 58/60 (97%) on my instructional practices which IS effective. I scored effective on my local measurement, and I scored developing on my state measurement which was the ELA 7th grade exam. “My students, as well as many others, tanked on the exam, so because of that, I am now a teacher who has to have an improvement plan. What should my plan include? More test prep? Teaching kids how to bubble in circles?

“This whole plan is absurd. I know I make a difference in children’s lives. This testing obsession is ruining education, our children, and our teachers. I come in early, leave late, work at home, volunteer for a million things, and yet am now deemed developing by some politically driven evaluation plan.”

Or How about the TELL survey?  Those teacher’s phone calls made last Feb-March-April?

Under 57 percent feel they are “allowed to focus on education students with minimal distraction.” –  Which means 43% DISAPPROVE.

40 percent of respondents said they were never observed by their mentor in the classroom –

47 percent of teachers believe that their allotted non-instructional time provided was sufficient – They specifically indicated not enough was done to minimize Common Core paperwork.

52 percent said they had never been to their mentor’s class to observe. –

In the area of professional development, 68 percent say sufficient resources are available, but only 44 percent believe those resources are tailored to individual teachers and just 42 percent feel the results are being communicated to teachers. –

Therefore for the News Journal to simply let pass this statement without a challenge: that teachers and students are supportive of Common Core (a known falsehood because they have the survey results too), is no different then acknowledging acquiescence by not challenging something like a Caesar Rodneys‘s assertion that: “Man-made Global Warming flat out does not exist”…

We all know better.

Buried in HB 165 is this line.

(l) Charter schools shall have the same access to conduit bond financing as any other non-profit 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 of Delaware unless more favorable terms may be found elsewhere.

This means that local Board of Educations have no say if a charter school can come in and disrupt their district.  No say at all,

The also means that  a large megalithic charter school corporation, can get free funding  courtesy of taxpayers to build a new school, just as a public school district would get free funding to build a new school.  As mentioned earlier, this is just like the Wal*mart Corporation asking that the state to finance their new store, so they can move into a local territory and begin wiping out all other local businesses…

Very little attention has been focused on how this affects other charters.  The above reference to Wal*mart should make it startling clear.

If you are an existing charter school, perhaps associated with a church or non profit, you are probably making payments every month, on the start-up loans you required to begin.. (These loan payments are not on the charter schools government checkbook because they are paid by private entities.)  You are probably doing the best you can with your limited resources.  You have big plans of what you wish to accomplish when the loan is paid, and you again have that payment amount available to reinvest into your school. Big plans.

Now with only a year left on your loan, a large charter conglomerate moves into your district and sets up 4 Charters.  It pays no start up costs because they are funded by HB 165. The minute it opens, or September 1st, it has unlimited resources to compete against you.  It can offer football.  You can’t.  It can offer a chess club,  you can’t..  You lose a student or two to this new opportunity, and suddenly you are down $20,000 a year and  must cut back. Of course cutting back creates more opportunity for the megalithic charter corporation to steal more students away from you.

We often talk of charter versus public.  We’ve never even once talked about new charter schools wiping out existing charter schools.   It would be one thing if the new charter conglomerate were to do so, with the expense of loan repayments at least evening out the playing field for the small school competing with it.  But to give the big megalithic charter a free building, free start up costs, all out of taxpayers dollars when there are banks lined up to loan money,… is simply unfair.

The referee (Markell, Rodel, DOE, charter lobbyists, Jacques) in the match, is blowing the whistle for only one side…

This though unfair, happens a lot in government.  Quite often laws are put in place by who you know, and how much you get for your vote.  The only way justice gets done, is when those with a backbone of courage, step up and say “no”…

9 did in the House and 31 didn’t.  But we know far less about the damage this bill would do then, than we do now.

It is a terrible state of affairs when a legislator will give a corporate megalith the  unfair advantage  over a religious or non-profit organization.  It is sickening … really.

State test results for the first time show voucher students performing “similar or worse” than other poor Milwaukee students, according to the Department of Public Instruction.

After operating side by side, this was the first year the same test was administered to both private and public enabling the cross comparison, prompting Wisconsin Republicans to put bills on the table, forbidding such a comparison ever again. The Republicans propose an easier test be given private schools, and a harder test be given to public schools…

The test results show the percentage of students participating in the 20 year old Milwaukee Parental Choice Program who scored proficient or advanced was 34.4 percent for math and 55.2 percent for reading.  Among Milwaukee Public Schools students, it was 47.8 percent in math and 59 percent in reading.

Inner City Public Schools were up 13.4 points higher in math over private schools.

Among all low-income students in the state, (which is all public education),scores were  63.2 percent in math and 71.7 percent in reading….

Rep. Sondy Pope-Roberts, D-Middleton, the top Democrat on the Assembly Education Committee, said … “The fact that we’ve spent well over $1 billion on a failed experiment leads me to believe we have no business spending $22 million to expand it with these kinds of results,”

Proponents brag vouchers have saved $50 million over 20 years.