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Here is a teachers idea of how Common Core should be taught… ie, close reading of a text…

It is broken down into three readings… Reading one, Reading two, and Reading three.  To show grownups what this does to the joy of reading, another  Nancy Bailey (no relation to George) last year took the classic The Night Before Christmas, and after each paragraph, inserted the criteria required to teach in Common Core.

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.


The First Reading

What is the main idea?
Summarize the passage I just read.
Do you have questions about what I read?
What did you hear?
What is this about?

The Second Reading

What text structures and text features were used?
What is the author’s purpose?
How does the author feel about the subject?
Why did the author use particular words and phrases?

The Third reading

What Inferences can you make?
How does the author support key points?
How does this relate to other texts you’ve read?
How does this relate to your life?
How does the author support key points?


The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
while visions of sugar plums danced in their heads.
And Mama in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap.


The First Reading

What is the main idea?
Summarize what I just read.
Do you have questions about what I read?
What did you hear?
What is this about?

The Second Reading

What text structures and text features were used?
What is the author’s purpose?
How does the author feel about the subject?
Why did the author use particular words and phrases?

The Third reading

What Inferences can you make?
How does the author support key points?
How does this relate to other texts you’ve read?
How does this relate to your life?
How does the author support key points?


She ruins the entire poem.

Now, besides the irritability of having to stop one’s train of thought every stanza… look at some of the required discussion questions..

What is the main idea?….  Answer… Everyone was asleep… Do we really need to dissect a poem to infinity and beyond to understand that it is about late night when everyone is tired and going to sleep?

Duh.  Really how much more can we learn about everyone being asleep, something obviously heard and understood at first reading, by discussing it excessively in class?  Does this make children smarter and able to read better at some future point? Or does it teach them to play video games all day at home and not read at all?  Obviously it does the latter.

Another question:  what text structures and text features are used?  Excuse me… what is a ….. text structure…   How in hell have I been able to read and write my entire life without knowing what a…. “text structure” is?  Oh, of course I can guess… by saying the too obvious…

“Excuse me, teacher, is it the structure of the text?”

“Why very good kavips, you nailed it exactly… The text structure is the structure of the text”….


“Why yes little kavips.”

“So how is this text structured, can we see it?  What supports what, like on a bridge?  You know how the bottom holds up the top?  So where is the structure in this?”

“I’m sorry, little kavips… no one knows… You see English is a living language changing every day, and if there was structure that was too tight, it couldn’t change… ”

“But what IS the structure, can you explain it to me?”

“No. it is unexplainable. It IS after all, Common Core”


In the old days we used to diagram sentences.  That was visual and real and very helpful in understanding adverbs and participial phrases.  We don’t do that any more… All we get is one teacher’s goofy definition of structure she pulls of the top of her head since it is never explained, which is different from all other teacher’s definitions of structure.. So much for “one” curriculum.


Whereas this curriculum may have a place in some specialized field of literary English criticism, perhaps Harvard…  the intellectual movement that Common Core’s ELA forces on children, “only focus on the text”, was debunked as a critical movement back in 1949.. The world has moved on…

All but David Coleman, the founder of Common Core.

Dare you. Read the poem all the way through, answer every question. (No adult will, but yet we thrust it on our children because they have no power of complaint) … then, opt out your child so Common Core disappears after this year and your children again can learn that learning about what is cool, is fun.

In the meantime, next year (2016) pay attention to our General Assembly.

Look for a:

Bill to replace the Smarter Balanced Assessment

Bill to replace Common Core  curriculum with Delaware’s own standards.

Bill to fund Charter School by line items in state budgets and not allow them to steal money from good public schools and bad.

Bill to minimize Standard test results to only 5% weight on a teachers evaluation, making it a factor of no consequence except in borderline cases.

Bill to raise taxes only on  the top 1% of the state’s revenue earners, to be used to fill in budget gaps looming so large they call loudly for drastic cuts, all unnecessary if taxes just get raised on the top one percent…





We’ve all heard the myth, and many of us may have once believed it….

“Damn teachers unions are the biggest problem with education; they allow bad teachers to stay in position, not be fired, and the good teachers have to quit or go to other opportunities… This lowers teaching quality.”

If someone says it forcefully we nod in agreement because in our job site, we know of people who probably should be replaced by someone younger and with more energy. So without thinking, we take it as truth….. and echo:  yea! Those damn lazy teachers unions….

If we gave it any thought, there might be some initial questions popping up in our heads…

For one, why do states with strong union laws have much brighter children than states who boast of their non-union environment?  Its true. Massachusetts and Minnesota are two of the top, the South is almost all at the bottom.

For two, we must question why would teachers who were trashed and paid less, be able to teach better than teachers who were rewarded by their strong union’s negotiating power, and financially comfortable?

For three, we have to look at who with plenty of teachers to choose from, would give job security and tenure  to bad teachers, while the good teachers got fired early and sent on their way?


When “thought” gets applied toward this myth, it “pokes holes in it real quick”.

But really it always got chalked up to one person’s theory versus another… If you didn’t like unions,  you supported the anti-union clause because there was no evidence to prove you wrong.  If you didn’t like bosses, you supported the solidarity of union membership and there was no evidence to prove you wrong… And the argument went back and forth…

Guess what?

An exhaustive comprehensive study was done on one third of the nation’s teachers and their evidence shows that strong unions increase the quality of teachers, and right to work policies, decrease the quality of teachers… 

They studied data from schools, districts, and states in union areas and compared them to other schools, districts, and states in right to work areas. And the data fell right in line with what common sense as shown in the three questions above, would predict…..

They also found out why.  Here is what happens in a strong unionized district.

The data confirms that, compared to districts with weak unionism, districts with strong unionism dismiss more low-quality teachers and retain more high-quality teachers. The empirical analysis shows that this dynamic of teacher turnover in highly unionized districts raises average teacher quality and improves student achievement.

Recently events allowed a test of this hypothesis.  Four states changed from mandatory collective bargaining to right to work.  Wisconsin, Indiana, Idaho, and Tennessee. If there was no effect by unions, their scores, their graduation rates, their teacher attrition, their overall teacher quality, would stay the same.

They didn’t.  All four dropped downward since they barred collective bargaining showing that in the real world this myth has nothing backing it.

Strong union schools have higher salaries than weak union schools. Strong union districts have lower teacher attrition than weak union districts, but actually have more firings for quality reasons, than schools in non-union states, who can’t afford to fire teachers because of their higher attrition rate. They struggle to get enough teachers in their schools as it is.

Likewise the percentage of teachers entering the educational profession through an “alternative certification program”(emergency-only help) is much lower in strong union areas, and much higher in strong right to work areas.

When packaged together, the empirical evidence aligns with the hypothesis that children in strong union areas, receive better teaching than in areas of less union activity….

We always knew it; now we can prove it.





Battle Ground XXVII

Whether you register as a Republican or Democrat, your incumbent has been considerably weakened last year and this.

Here is what you will have behind you.

Financial resources of the Delaware PTA organization, consisting of parents and teachers from North Claymont to Southern Fenwick Island who deeply care for all children and want them to learn, not jump through meaningless hoops that curtail their development.

Backing from the DSEA teachers’ union, including financial resources and unlimited manpower…

Additional backing from regional teachers unions, such as the Red Clay and Christina local collections who would bend earth and water to replace Earl Jacques with someone who actually cares about kids.

National publicity and financial support from anti-Common Core affiliations sprouting up across America, including some well known like the BadAss Teachers association, and Diane Ravitch, who follow Delaware’s actions through its excellent blogs.

The power of hundreds of thousands of holy prayers rising upwards and a few financial resources from parents absolutely incensed over how the Smarter Balance Assessments manipulates their child to feel stupid when they aren’t,  and who read widely of how almost every other states is running away from Common Core but yet see this incumbent using his leadership position solely to block each, all and every reform.

Support from all the significant editorialists and newscasters in this state, who will give you unlimited access to get your message out. That would include BOTH Rick Jensen and Al Mascitti on WDEL who would do so, because you are fighting a common enemy: corporate interference into public education. .

Here are your incumbent’s crimes……

Authored and pushed forward a charter bill (HB165) which removes $21 million of your dollars our of your school district and gives it to charters scattered all over the state.

Refused to allow the Opt Out Bill out of his committee though it had 52 of 62 (82%) of our General Assembly supporting it.

Called parents pussys because they were afraid of a “little” old test.

Consistently votes for those rights and financial concerns of international corporations over any concerns from people living on Cann Ave.. his own street.

Is personally responsible for the Smarter Balanced Assessment being given to your children.

But the main crime despite all these horrible issues,  is that as chair of the House Educational Committee, he had multiple chances to act to return Delaware to a much better test, and did nothing….

The fact he does nothing in his leadership position, is the prime reason he needs to be kicked out.  We need someone who does SOMETHING!

Voters in the 27th have lately been ill served. Especially if they have children.  No other candidate anywhere in this state can garner this much support so early on. Not even our Representatives in Washington!

Please hear our calls.

Run, run, run….. Voters in the 27th are desperate for any, any other option, regardless of party affiliation…  We will support Democrats who run against him.  We will support Republicans who run against him…. We will support Independents who run against him..

If you are a mom or dad… please, please, please run.  It is really not hard to do at all.  Again, all the experts above can guide you through the process.









Florida adopted more than 100 revisions to the Common Core State Standards to adapt them to Florida learners following a large-scale review and series of public hearings.


Indiana became the first state to withdraw from the Common Core consortium in 2014 and adopted new standards for ELA and Mathematics validated by state education stakeholders.


Oklahoma became the second state to withdraw from the Common Core consortium in 2014 and adopted new standards for ELA and Mathematics validated by state education stakeholders.

South Carolina:

South Carolina became the third state to withdraw from the Common Core consortium in 2014 and adopted new standards for ELA and Mathematics validated by state education stakeholders.


The Louisiana Governor and legislature enacted legislation to direct the
Education Commissioner to review and develop new standards from 2015-
2016.20 The Education Commissioner also conducted an online survey to gather public feedback on specific standards.


The Maine Education Commissioner created a 24-member panel in 2014 to
engage the public, evaluate, and make recommendations on the Common Core Standards.

New Jersey

The New Jersey Governor appointed a committee to review the Common Core Standards and make recommendations regarding revisions before January 2016. The State Education Commissioner also conducted a public online survey to gather public input on specific standards.

North Carolina:

The North Carolina legislature created a committee to review the Common Core Standards, gather public input, and make recommendations to the legislature before December 2015.


Oklahoma enacted legislation to repeal the Common Core Standards and revert to its previous Oklahoma standards. School districts retain the option to teach to the Common Core or the Oklahoma standards.25


The Pennsylvania Governor ordered a delay in the implementation of the
Pennsylvania Common Core Standards in 2013 in order for the State to conduct a review and make modifications.26 Approved revisions to the PA Core Standards went into effect on March 1, 2014.


The Tennessee Governor appointed a committee in 2014 to review the Common Core Standards, gather gather public input, and make recommendations before January 2016.

New York:

Governor’s task force recommends Common Core be scrapped and new state standards be compiled by professional educators and that educational corporations be completely shut out from the process.



The lemmings follow their educational leaders over the cliff obviously hypnotized by the personal magnetism and scintillating personalities of both Dave Sokala and Earl Jacques.…..


Lavelle said he’ll use the attorney general’s feedback to determine whether there are loopholes regarding theft of public funds and whether state laws need to be changed.”

Of course there are loopholes in the law… It is called Chapter 5 in Title 14… subheading… “Charter Schools”…

If you give schools total freedom to control all their money and disallow any oversight by anyone, then whatever they do with it,  is legal…  You gave them the freedom to do that.. Below is the quote:

To that end, this chapter offers members of the community a charter to organize and run independent public schools, free of most state and school district rules and regulations governing public education, as long as they meet the requirements of this chapter, and particularly the obligation to meet measurable standards of student performance. Schools established under this chapter shall be known as “charter schools.”


Consistent with its charter and the provisions of its certificate of incorporation, bylaws or membership agreements, the board of directors of a charter school or schools shall, as to each charter that the board holds, have the power to:

(2) Determine its own budget and operating procedures;

Meaning if any charter feels it needs to have a Mercedes for its head honcho in order to compete with Tower Hill or Sanford, it can do so.

Though what these operators did was immoral and a theft of public funds for private use, they did not break the law… because the law is so poorly written it allows this……

Which is why, we need to fund charters only with line items in the state budget, for then different rules apply and we can try in court and punish those who unlike these… “actually” broke a law….

Title 14, Chapter 5, is very specific: stating that Charters can use the funds anyway they wish and laws preventing such, imposed on public school s by their districts, do not apply to them…..

Which is why it is rather funny that Greg Lavelle said this…. as a charter supporter….  He apparently doesn’t know that is what a charter is.



Our core commitment to education needs to be more than creating efficiencies among the various school districts; it must ensure our children learn to the best of their ability. Just as the Nemours Foundation does each day with student health, we must challenge old assumptions, if we are to deliver better results for our children and better performance from our schools.

I’ve talked with thousands of parents and teachers about how to improve education for our children, and the same answers emerge: We need to let Delaware’s dedicated and talented teachers teach. We need to get parents more involved. We need to push individual decisions down to the school level. We need to measure student progress throughout the year, not just at the end of the year. This year, under the leadership of Senate Education Committee Chair Dave Sokola and House Education Chair Terry Schooley, working with Lt. Governor Matt Denn and Secretary Lillian Lowery, we propose legislation that makes three critical changes:

First, it’s time to eliminate the Delaware Student Testing Program. We will replace it with a testing program that measures student progress over the course of a school year. Currently, my daughter gets her DSTP results when the school year is over. This does not help her learn and does not help her teachers adjust to her needs. It does not measure the progress of individual students or the excellence of any particular teacher. Our new system will offer far greater insight into what a student brings to class on the first day and what they need to learn so they can end the school year with the skills required to succeed.

Second, with money saved from moving investments from the back room to the classroom, we will reward excellence in education by paying the state’s highest-performing teachers more and better, reward truly great teachers in high-risk schools.

Third, we will offer greater flexibility to our local schools, so they can better solve problems and encourage them to be more innovative. In exchange for this freedom, districts will be held more accountable for results and will need to be more transparent in how they spend state money.

But education must not end with a diploma. To ensure our financial and economic foundation, while we better educate our children for a brighter future tomorrow, we must continue to educate our current workforce today and create an economic climate where businesses and employees can thrive across a range of industries.

Oh…. the irony 7 years later….. I was tempted to insert  red  rebuttals to snark all the wayward actions  taken in the opposite direction from this vision, but… you don’t need me to see that…

Having a positive mindset in math may do more than just help students feel more confident about their skills and more willing to keep trying when they fail; it may prime their brains to think better.

Of the children in the study, 47 were asked to either stare at a fixed point or identify whether a series of addition problems were correct while being scanned using functional magnetic resonance imaging, or fMRI, a noninvasive method of identifying brain activity by measuring changes in blood flow in the brain.

Professor Chen and his colleagues found that students with higher positive-mindset levels in math were more accurate at identifying correct and incorrect math problems, even after controlling for differences in IQ, age, working memory, reading ability, and math anxiety.

A lower positive-mindset level was likewise associated with lower math performance….

Students with high positive-mindset levels had generally greater brain activity in a number of areas of the brain associated with math problem-solving: the hippocampus, the left dorsomedial prefrontal cortex, the left supplementary motor area, the right lingual gyrus, and the dorsal cerebellum. In particular, the researchers found faster, smoother connections, called “upregulation” between the hippocampus—an area often associated with the ability to quickly remember math facts and processes—and the other brain areas associated with math problem-solving.

Common Core is designed to give children a lower positive-mindset level.. That is its whole purpose.  Take children struggling to jump over a 3 foot high jump, raise the bar to 5 feet, berate the children on their performance, and fire the coach because the same number who could jump a 3 foot high jump, couldn’t muster the 5 foot one…

How does that make a child feel.  How does that make you feel?

Hence their focus on rigor and grit.  Nicer words than “child torture”, I’ll admit, but still having the same meaning…

This study suggests that the wiring of our brains is such that when we have a positive mental attitude, we perform better….


But at least there is a study now that has data to prove it… The corporate education reformers who suggest  that having a prison-like atmospheres in their schools, who are keen on making little children suffer, who get so excited they perspire when they talk of failing 70% of America’s students…  still have zero evidence that their solution has ever borne results… All they have is theory.

So now, we evidence that backs common sense; evidence that debunks Common Core… It’s lightweight. It’s the first.  But still it is evidence that pursuing the Smarter Balanced Assessments past 2016, will drop Delaware even lower in Math than it is already….

It is ironical that on the NAEP, often called the nation’s report card… recently in the news for its collapse and the negative direction its results .. did have bright spots that continued the historical gains the NAEP had always shown up until now…  .but they came from states not doing Common Core… Those states jumping into Common Core most aggressively (Delaware is one) had the greatest losses over 2013….

So evidence is mounting… Common Core is bad.  Smarter Balanced Assessments take us in the wrong direction, and the only reason we went down this path, was because someone connected with it was going to get rich one day….

(or get mentioned on Chuck Todd broadcast as a person-to-be-watched.)






Yes the kids.

But everyone is talking about them… Not that it is greater or less than that true tragedy, I want to talk about what is NOT being talked about….

How Delaware MET’s failure impacts students in Christina School District.

210 students attend the school, as far as the money goes.  If those 210 had remained in the district, the district would be $4342 richer for each student… $911,905…..

Bottom line is because Delaware has this misguided Charter School program, Christina District shelled out $911,905 dollars this year so 210 children could get an inferior education….

That is just wrong.

Charters don’t only hurt those students getting an inferior education, but they hurt those who stay in public schools which have to cut back due to $911,905 dollars less.

Just the average across the whole district, those 16,255 all as a conglomerate, LOSE   $56 dollars because of Delaware MET……

This one school, an absolute failure, yet someone (check the landlord) did get rich off the deal. cost every single child of Christina $56 dollars…

Your Christina tax money…. $56 that SHOULD HAVE GONE TO YOUR LOCAL SCHOOL….  is gone… waste, waste, waste…

Check.. Based simply on the average loss per student, here is how just this one failed charter affected your child’s school…….

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Based on averages, and solely because of the DOE’s insistence and state board’s approval of MET,  each of these schools now has this much less to spend on educating its children entrusted to it by our system of laws, feeder patterns, checks, and balances.

During this holiday season it seems so appropriate to borrow some words from “It’s A Wonderful Life..”

“Strange, isn’t it? Each individual (charter school) touches so many other lives.”

Charters… the worst thing happening to American education. But we can fix that easily.  Fund them with line items in the state budget and disallow them to take money away from all other students in all other schools…


  • Increase Taxes substantially on the top 1% of Delawareans by increasing incrementally the top marginal tax rate.
  • Override the Opt Out veto, giving parents the ultimate role in their child’s education.
  • Remove and replace the  crony Smarter Balanced Test with a test that can actually help students with immediate feedback.
  • Remove charter schools from being funded per student and have them paid by line item in state budget, bringing them under tighter public scrutiny and control.
  • Quickly pass HB 217 (Keeley) which is designed to require that firearms which are recovered from crime scenes be entered into the National Crime Information Center firearm database system.

We have a tough session ahead.  All of these are no-brainers and should quickly be put to rest so attention can be focused outward towards new things.

There now is no reason  not to override Markell’s veto of HB50.

The past reasons, that it would damage education; that it would hurt Civil Rights, that it would restrict federal funding, that it would be damaging for the child, are as of its passage, superfluous.

Instead, the ESEA now gives states all rights on how to handle opt out. They still require 95% compliance on students taking the test, but the state has the right to decide how to now define compliance.

So simply put, the state can establish a formal deadline for opt-out, as it does for school choice, and all those registered before deadline are eliminated  from the pool of 100%… The compliance figure will then only then be based on the percent taking the test of the number of students who chose not to opt out,…  it should be over 95% without problem.

No penalty.

Would hurt Civil Rights?  The antiqued concern is that back when separate but equal ruled, they were separate, but not equal. Funding for black schools was cut or moved to white schools.  Educational opportunity between races was not equal. Today’s mandatory testing, …by forcing people to notice the inequality caused by poverty and prejudice, helps resources flow to areas of need. Civil rights leaders were concerned that without tests, the glaring inconsistencies again get pasted over and ignored, and black education again becomes inferior.

But with the ESEA,  comes new money for programs other than academics that are desperately needed.  Early Ed, Afternoon School, Daycare till single moms get off work. etc. The real needs now have money. Whether a student opts out or not in the inner city, now has no consequence on the flow of money to its schools. That is set in stone.

Likewise the fear that high opt outs would restrict Federal Funding.  That bluff was called and New York verified that despite almost 50% opt out levels, full funding hit each school.  As of passage and signing, funding is divorced from test scores.  High or low participation, the funding is consistent.  The argument that something bad could happen if opt out gathered steam has evaporated completely, even though no evidence was ever there prior…

The idea that opting out could be damaging for the child’s record is now gone.  States  no longer are committed to sticking to the PAARC or Smarter Balanced. They can all make up their own. In fact, expect a large push in Delaware to scrap this SBA and return to something similar to the DCAS, a great test if something could ever be called that…

Prior to this we always said: if you want to end the opt-out movement, end the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  That was the driver infuriating people enough to opt out their child!  If any opt out movement existed prior, it was very quiet… Anyone ever hear of an opt-out movement for the DCAS?

The entire function of the test is now eliminated. The test was purposefully designed not to benefit each child taking it.  Whereas comparatively, the DCAS test could be used immediately to provide feedback to the student still fresh from taking it, the Smarter Balanced results emerged the following school year and gave nothing but a numerical score, one that was isolated, scaled differently from any other testing score, past or present…. with as much credibility as a lottery ball dispenser machine spitting out a random number ball and that becomes your score…

The test was to be used to fire teachers and to fire principals and to close schools by forcing scores to remain below a fake bar of proficiency.  A bar set so high, even professional adults failed to best it.  With passage of the ESEA, test scores will NOT to be the  make-or-break main method of accountability…

As of passage, there is absolutely no reason for a child to waste any time on the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  It does not help him. It does not hold anyone accountable, so really, why take it?

Parents as outlined in the ESEA have full right to determine their child’s education.  They are first line of defense.

HB 50 just makes this official… it provides backing so if a school is unfortunate to have a Principal Edward R. Rooney (Ferris Beullar’s Day Off) who breaks into your home to make your child take the test (practice your karate skills), you have backing to continue your right to opt out…..

Which is exactly why that protection needs to be reinforced… Oregon passed Opt-Out and will function fine under the ESEA….

The real issue behind HB50 is who will ultimately decide policy for the state: a governor who seems to be under the spell of Wall Street… or 62 individually elected representatives, each who live and shop in the districts that elected them, who all voted with the will of the people…?

That is why first order of business needs to be over-riding the HB50 veto which now though a perfunctory exercise, has profound symbolic and strategic value as future serious issues pop up in 2016 on which the Governor’s current actions bely him to be standing solidly on the wrong side….