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The problem with inner-city education everywhere is too much need for too few resources.

Though rather common-sensical when stated so bluntly, it has taken America 50+ years to reach this point.  Our slowness comes from the dichotomy of realism.  Science tells us that when born, most for our brains are 99.9% identical. (Occasionally an environmental effect or gene flip can impede one before birth, but missing that, all people if placed in the same environment can perform at very close levels of performance through out their lives). However reality of what enters a school system at age 5, presents an entirely different perspective.  We see children of affluence entering at very high levels of recordable intelligence, and children of lower affluence when compared to those of high, look just plain dumb.

That appearance of dumbness comes primarily from their inability to express their thoughts (ELA), as well as their lack of a broadened world perspective.

It is a rare person among us who enjoys seeing this dichotomy.  We all wish it would get fixed…

If children were businesses, here is how we’d fix them.  We would create an insurance fund.  Calamities do befall us all at random moments, often with catastrophic consequences.  In order not to ruin companies, an idea evolved that if all parties would pay into a fund as their “insurance” they would not lose everything. That fund would reimburse a business if calamity struck them.  The assessment for that fund would be affordable to all, written into the costs of what they sold, and thusly, calamities could be economically handled.

Bussing was a clumsy attempt at emulating this system.  We shut down an inner city’s district and made four suburban districts split up the costs incurred by those inner city children.  We moved children out to where affluent people lived….

With hindsight, it has become apparent that perhaps moving the money in would create less hassle than moving the children out.

Talk of making New Castle County one single school district has been another ongoing attempt to address this issue. The prime idea being that all revenue collected from Talleyville to N. Smyrna would be such a huge pool, students within that geographical boundary could all get proper funding… The suburban money could be averaged out to something that was more equitable to students in Wilmington.

But politically,… schools are a local community issue and parents in urban Wilmington have little concern over the needs of exceptional students on the Maryland-Delaware boundary, and Greenville doesn’t really care that much about people in Port Penn. So having one district handling all decisions, especially those non-financial ones which would now be decided from far-far away, never took off.

Which brings us to the insurance model…

Just as each business runs itself however way it wishes, each district will continue to do the same.  No change from how they are now. But each school system pays funds per student they have that go into an insurance fund which gets used to fix calamities in education..

Those calamities would be priority-type schools in areas in areas where there is no seed to cultivate blooms.  In a priority school one must buy the seed, as well as tend to its cultivation….  In more affluent districts that seed money is primarily handled by the parents of each child. They teach the basics like alphabet, numbers to twenty, and colors. But in priority schools, where everyone enters at the bottom level, there is no seed to speak of. Teachers have to start where affluent children have been learning since birth.  Teaching the 26 letters. Applying phonetics to each of those symbols, basic numerical philosophy (counting), as well as names of colors.

Obviously this would require more teachers.  One can’t say “read this book tonight and we’ll discuss tomorrow”. One needs more personalized attention when one is supposed to teach the book, but instead has to simultaneously teach a child how to read at the same time.

Which is why to achieve success in a priority school (which if correctly titled would be any school that has 50% or more of its students listed as low income), one MUST have an 11:1 student teacher ratio.

If one is currently at a 33:1 student teacher ratio then obviously, one needs to hire 2 more teachers just for that one class… Which at $40,000 a teacher, is not cheap. But necessary.

When one is trying to stretch budgets, having one teacher disappear to save $40,000 is the simplest solution. However, it dooms those far-behind children who would readily learn in an 11:1 environment but not in a 22:1 or 33:1 classroom

The reason today we have such problems with inner city education is that across the careers of most of our students, adequate funding for the 11:1 ratio was not available.

But if we had an insurance fund that was culled from all districts, which could be applied to hire additional personnel in poverty schools, that issue would disappear.

Today there are multiple problems with inner city education. We can only tackle them one by one.  This idea would take care of one of those problems.

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I can tell you about Tennessee…

First to be involved in the testing process, one must sign many allegedly legal documents meant to forever silence them… I signed willingly knowing full well there is nothing anyone can do or will do if I tell all….

I saw things from the bottom looking up.  So what you hear is direct… As for intent from those creating this program, that I was not privy too.   But I feel evidence speaks louder than I.

Tennessee has a rule that a child’s score must be on their end-of-year report card.  The state scores were delayed and on the second to the last day of the marking period, scores were released to teachers… The scores are a percent the child got right… If the child got 100%, he got all right… If he got 0 right, his score was bumped up to 50…  50 is the lowest score one can get.

The scores were very high… The average was 87%…   There were many discrepancies.  One student got a 95 raw score but on his year end exam by his teacher, got 45 when both tests were very similar.  Whereas 70% was the original goal of no child left behind, no one knew what these high scores meant….

That is because they are graded on a curve… The state’s scores were so high, that the cut score is being set at 91… That means a child has to get the equivalent of an A- in order to pass his grade…  Since the scores have to be reported, parents who see their child with a 90, and breathe a sigh of relief, are going to be fighting mad when they find out their child failed.  Most likely the public backlash will probably doom Common Core for good in Tennessee …..

The test was set at levels two grades higher than what was commonly taught, the teachers responded to the challenges and the scores were what they were. High.  But, since you can’t close public schools down if they are turning out all A- students…. in order to fulfill the political agenda behind the tests, they had no choice but to set failure rate at the A- level… What used to be a A-, is now a D…..

How can this be done?   That is the devious side of these tests…  No one ever knows how any child did…  The student does not know… (he has a score)  he cannot find which questions he got right or wrong… hence taking the test does no good for anyone.  Likewise the teacher never knows.  They have no access to the test to determine whether or not what they taught was helped or not… For example (in Tennessee this is possible) if the science question states whether the world was created in less than seven days and the student answered no, it could be marked wrong… and no one would ever know!

This means that anyone can simply erase numbers and make up new ones…  In Delaware this means that all the schools around the Charter Complex in Rodney Square, can be shown erroneously to have done poorly… Likewise, all the charter Schools would be off the charts in excellence in every categories… Can we compare the tests?  no.  Can we see the tests?  no.  Can we see the data the tests gleamed? no… All we know is that tests were given; our kids and teachers tell us that. And that our scores were given… No correlation between scores and tests is available….

This means that whatever…. the Smarter Balanced test will tell us in August…. we can’t believe… Education is working great… Sorry, can’t believe it…. Education is dismal and we must go all-charter now…. Sorry, can’t believe it…

So the bottom line stands, if we cannot believe the test… what was the point of taking it?  What was the point of all the expense?  Why are we doing it again next year?  IF the results are not believable?  The only way they can be believable is if we have access to the tests and someone can audit them to see whether right answers were graded as right and wrong answers graded as wrong… Until that can happen, the Smarter Balanced Assessment is worthless.

And anyone with an access code, can change any number… Those of us with access codes ourselves all know that… And if there is no way to verify whether that number was real, then the test scores reported, are no better than fabrications.

If the same principle were applied to voting in elections.  we would simply turn our news on, and see who was announced.  There would be no way to count votes in each district, tabulate them, verify them with the reported totals.. So whoever those in charge wanted to win, would win… We would be Soviet Russia….

This is why the Smarter Balanced must be eliminated by this legislative session… Other states have done it.  There is massive public (90% ) support for it. There may not be the votes, but the fight for them must take place… with the public watching and participating.

Simply having the legislature do away with this test for one year would free up so much money that most upcoming budget crises could be solved in-house, and better educational practices could sprout up overnight.

When you have a entire Democratic district vote 99% Republican you should probably first assume something is wrong… The same is true with the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  For charter schools to look better when all other evidence show the opposite; for districts supportive of Markell to look better than those who fought against his take-over, should likewise give us a sign that someone is playing with the scores..

Even if they aren’t… when you can’t go back to each voting machine or each test and then compile the totals… it really doesn’t matter what the votes or scores are… In both cases we are wasting tons of money….

We need the Smarter Balanced Assessment annulment RUSHED through the House and Senate now….

Fixdeldoe should be daily reading for every Delawarean.  The daily time wasted on the News Journal could be better spent reading there.

The pilot “group” delineated and funded in last years budget is set to introduce a pilot “program” into this years budget… it will be, if approved, implemented in 5 of Delaware’s school districts. Here are some red flags. (as rightfully prescribed by Fixdeldoe, scroll down to the last three pages.)

Red Flag 1:

The Department of Education is authorized and directed to implement the pilot plan… (line 12;page 227)

Red Flag 2:

The pilot may include up to five school districts beginning July 1, 2015.  (Which ones?  To be determined by the above….) (line 14; page 227)

Red Flag 3:

The intent of such flexible funding plan shall be to provide participating school districts with the ability to better coordinate resource allocation decisions with strategic planning and community input, build a system focused on outcomes, foster a climate more conducive to innovation and creativity, increase student performance by allowing the focus of resources on identified student needs, enable staffing decisions to occur at the earliest possible time, promote collaborative procurement practices and allow decision making closest to the student. (worded  exactly like Charter schools; worrisome because charters fail rate is 83% whereas public education succeeds close to 100%.)  (Translated:  just like the priority schools, they want to fire highly rated teachers without cause. Can this be priority fiasco Act 2?  Why yes…. it can.)

Red Flag 4

The Department of Education shall establish written criteria for participation in the pilot program...(Again we are voting and funding something that is not even developed. It will be… coming later.  Just like Common Core.  Just like the Smarter Balanced Assessments! just like Charter Schools.(line 20; page 227)

Red Flag 5

All relevant salary schedules and supplemental compensation contained in 14 Del. C. c. 13 and the 5 Annual Appropriations Act shall continue to be used for purposes of salaries of employees.  (The word relevant opens the door to interpretation over what “is” relevant; it could be anything the DOE chief just happens to decide in this lame duck year.Anything!   You tenure is not relevant.  Your past-earned degrees are not relevant… Student/teacher ratios are not relevant.  Public schools are not relevant.  You need a “school leader for $160,000; principals are not relevant.  Janitors are not relevant. Mechanics are not relevant.  School bus maintenance is not relevant…)  (line 4; page 228)

Red Flag 6

The Department shall establish an index value that is relative to that of a 1.0 teaching unit, for each unit- generating, employee group earned according to 14 Del. C. c. 13. Participating school districts may utilize positions among entitlement areas within their total weighted, earned unit entitlement for the school year.  (Currently the units are set by code… Beginning July 2011, the units were set as follows:

Preschool — 12.8 (pupils per unit or ppu)

K-3 — 16.2 ppu

4-12 Regular Education — 20 ppu

4-12 Basic Special Education (Basic) — 8.4 ppu

Pre K-12 Intensive Special Education (Intensive) — 6 ppu

Pre K-12 Complex Special Education (Complex) — 2.6 ppu

(As explained in the new law, a school could soon move resources away from special education and over to mainstream students as long as the total of the units in that school remained the same…. )  Corporate bureaucrats including members of the Chamber of Commerce, think all money on special education is wasted since no exceptional kid will ever work for them; they see special education as throw-away kids spending lots of throw-away money.

Red Flag 7

All such units must be authorized by the Department of Education under rules and regulations promulgated by the Department. (Again, asking for the right to make up their own rules regardless of laws passed by General Assembly which were fostered in public forum… these decisions again will be made behind closed doors.)

Red Flag 8

Participating school districts are authorized to receive cash for up to percent of the total weighted, earned unit entitlement. This option shall only apply if the district has not filled the position at any time during the fiscal year in which it was earned, and if the district makes application to the Department of Education no later than January 31st of the current fiscal year. This cash option value shall be the corresponding amount of a master’s degree plus 10 years of experience, as calculated in accordance with 14 Del. C. § 1305, inclusive of the appropriate 19 other employment costs.  ( A lot to give up for a bribe of $41,388 dollars)  and that cash comes at the end of a year and only if the position was vacant for full term… So a teacher slot that remained vacant over 2015, would be rewarded to that school district sometime after July 1st, 2016.

If you have no 1st grade teacher and can’t get one for a full year, you can use on-call substitutes and get a bonus of $41,388 the following year…  But wait…. what about the kids?  (obviously they were ignored in this financial wheeling and dealing)…..

Red Flag 9

For a flexible funding management plan, State entitlement appropriations shall be consolidated into a 21 single appropriation line  (Just a reminder, when we tried that with Charters, they bought themselves a new Mercedes and took multiple vacations on the money given to them…)

Red Flag 10

No later than December 31st of each year, school districts participating in the pilot shall provide the Secretary of Education with a report identifying district expenditures and revenues, delineated by federal, state and local funds, and an identification of the number and type of positions supported with state funding during the school year as compared to the positions entitled for funding. (Meaning that by February the new incoming Secretary of Education will get around to looking at these reports and go.. WTF…. These are a mitigated disaster!)

So who came up with this plan?  Go back one year, look at the budget and you will find that it was ….

The Department of Education is authorized to establish a working group to develop a pilot plan for education funding flexibility for consideration to be implemented through the Fiscal Year 2016 budget process. Said working group shall consist of the Secretary of Education (or designee), Director of the Office of Management and Budget (or designee), the Controller General (or designee), two members of the Joint Finance Committee appointed by the Co-Chairs, a representative from the Delaware State Education Association, a representative from the Delaware Association of School Administrators, a member of the Delaware School Chiefs Officers Association, and three members of the school business managers in which one of these members must represent a vocational-technical school district.

That is:

  • Secretary of Education
  • Director of Office of Management and Budget
  • Controller General
  • Joint finance committee member 1
  • Joint Finance Committee Member 2
  • A rep from DSEA
  • A rep from DASA
  • A rep from the Chief Officer’s Association
  • A member of school business administration 1
  • A member of school business administration 2
  • A member of one of the technical school business administrations.

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Eleven people…. of them, how many do you think are intimately in tune with what it takes to teach your kid?