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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 …

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Smarter Comparisons ELA

Charts courtesy of Education Reform Now

Delaware’s Rankings by Grade Levels in ELA  Among Smarter Balanced States

Grade 3:  2nd (Tied with Connecticut)

Grade 4: 4th

Grade 5:  5th

Grade 6:  7th

Grade 7: 7th

Grade 8: 7th

Grade 11: 7th

Smarter Comparison Math

And in math:

Grade 3:  2nd

Grade 4:  3rd

Grade 5:  5th (tied with I da ho)

Grade 6:  8th

Grade 7:  7th

Grade 8:  7th

Grade 11:  7th

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But before one can jump on Delaware’s poorer showing, one must take into account a very glaring factoid totally ignored by those intent of foisting corporate reforms on public schools….

That is:

Delaware has one of the highest proportion of its students (all the highest quality) in private schools; completely outside of public education….

Private enrollment

Map and Charts Courtesy of The Atlantic CityLab.com

Over 15% of all our state’s children are taught in our private schools.  That has to suck a lot of cream off the top of  overall test scores…. Kids whose parents have a college or graduate degree are much more likely to go to private school. Their lack of impact in the public school system, should hit Delaware hard when comparing scores across states.

Particularly when Greater Wilmington Metro Area

Wilmington Private Enrollment

…. is ranked 6th in the nation for highest private school enrollment and we have one zip code, 19807 =  Greenville.………..

Private enrollment by zip

…. fourth highest in the nation at a whopping 78%..….

I’ll do the calculations at another time but with math we can begin to predict based on some assumptions, where if we had fewer of our best in private schools how that would stack our state up against other states.

Bottom line:  if you trim a tree at its first branch, it will not be as tall as those allowed to grow naturally….

A common sense explanation for Delaware’s low scores.  (And none of these private schoolers have to undergo Common Core)  None.

Today an agreement was announced by leaders in Congress and a conference to hammer the differences between the Senate and House Bills will soon be set.  The target for passage is by the end of the year.

You are probably wondering what this portends?

In synopsis fashion it goes like this:

On Accountability

  • states would still have to test students in grades 3-8 and once in high school in reading and math.
  • States would get to decide how much those tests count for accountability purposes.
  • States would be in the driver’s seat when it comes to goals for schools, school ratings, and more
  • States would be required to identify and take action in the bottom 5 percent of schools, and schools where less than two-thirds of kids graduate.
  • States would also have to identify and take action in schools that aren’t closing the achievement gap.

On Opt-Outs

  • It would allow states to create their own testing opt-out laws.
  • It maintains the federal requirement for 95 percent participation in tests.
  • States would have to take low testing participation into consideration in their accountability systems. Just how to do that would be up to them, though.
  • The agreement “leaves a lot of this to states to figure out and the secretary’s ability to interfere with those state decisions is astonishingly limited.”

On Programs

  • Substitutes block granting  instead of delineated granting for physical education, mathematics and science partnerships, and Advanced Placement.
  • Living on as separate line item, will be the 21st Century Community schools program, which pays for after-school programs.
  • Early childhood investment is in. But the new program will be housed at the Department of Health and Human Services, not the Education Department.
  • The new research and innovation program that was described as the next generation “Investing in Innovation” program, made it into the bill.

On School Choice

No Title I portability—that means that federal funds won’t be able to follow the child to the school of their choice.

Other Funding Issues

  • No changes that would steer a greater share of the funds to districts with high concentrations of kids in poverty.
  • Some changes to the Title II formula (which funds teacher quality) that would be a boon to rural states.

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Rus: Lake Forest School District believes DPAS-II is more equitable. Districts not using the new evaluation methods are not successful. Some districts get “caught up in the structure” and “the rules”.  He said principals want more high-quality data, and they are having better conversations about Measure B in the DPAS-II system.

Dr. Shana Ricketts: “Our state trained 125 principals over the summer, and there will be training sessions over the next two weeks, …. DSEA will be holding workshops over the changes in the DPAS-II. ”

Rus: Delaware has the “most decentralized system in the country for teacher evaluations and goals are different across the board.”

Rus: “If we standardize chemistry exams why have teacher ones as well,”  Some are teacher-created, which is good cause it shows growth.”

Dr. Gray:  “Gotta grow them!”

Rus:  “Teachers need to be empowered”

Rus: “Our obligation to be world-class is students have to be proficient when they graduate”, “We are trying to ask the right questions.”  “There is not enough rigor.”

Rus:  “Commitment to proficiency…mindblocks….set the target; work my way back” ;“culture of the building”.

Pat Heffernan: “We can’t put blinders on and have no idea.”

Dr. Gray: “We want growth AND proficiency!”  “We don’t set the goal based on average, we set it on growth!”

Rus: “We are to be compared to everyone.  Not Delaware, not other states, but everyone in the world.””our principals are aware of this”

Rus: ““same way we’ve done for 100 years, mastery of standards to grade book…””

Dr.  Gray:  “It should be proficiency based!”

Nina Bunting:  ““It was very informative.”

Pat Heffernan:  “we need to encourage principals to encourage good data entry.”

Donna Johnson: “This is a public meeting. Most of the information was already on the state DOE website.”.

Dr. Carolyn Lazar: “21 states took the field test, and 17 Delaware districts participated.  All told, 4 million students took the field test in the USA.”

Penny Schwinn:  “Elementary schools outperformed middle schools and high schools in both math and ELA”

Pat Heffernan:  “Does this included charters on the data they were seeing”

Penny Schwinn:  “Charters are on a separate slide”.

Dr. Carolyn Lazar:  “there was a 15 point gap between Math and ELA, but the “claim area” was only 10 points.”

Dr. Gray:  What is the “proficiency level”?

Dr. Carolyn Lazar:  “it is the students who score proficient or above. ”

Donna Johnson:   Capital School District’s proficiency lines attached, is very unique.”

Penny Schwinn:  “this speaks to the rigor of assessment.”” 7,000 students self-selected to perform the survey at the end of the test”

Dr. Gray: “That isn’t statistically normed”

Penny Schwinn:  ” it is not, but the survey will become automatic next year, like how it was on DCAS.”

Dr. Michael Watson:   “We need international assessments so we can compare against India and China.””Delaware had “strong positive indicators with National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) trends.””Delaware came ahead for literacy in third to fifth grade, but much lower in ELA for 8th grade.”

Dr. Michael Watson:  “Delaware trailed behind Connecticut in NAEP, but we were closer to their scores with Smarter Balanced. ”

Ghost In The Machine:  ““That’s cause SBAC sucks so I would expect most states to suck equally on it”

Dr. Michael Watson:  “Either Connecticut and Vermont didn’t take SBAC seriously or we are working harder.”

Nina Bunting. “In Indian River District, when our state says jump, we say how high!!!! ”

Dr. Michael Watson:  “in Delaware, 88% of Superintendents feel we have implemented Common Core, followed by 87% of principals and 67% of teachers.”

Dr. Gray:  Parents need to understand!!!!”

Donna Johnson:  “Many districts are excited to get the information to parents, and are aligning curriculum and professional development in an effort to gain more awareness.”

Donna Johnson:  “The DOE is working with superintendents, principals, social media, and Rodel.  The test results won’t be mailed out from the DOE until Friday, September 18th and Monday, September 21st.”

Penny Schwinn:  “The results will come out earlier in future years, but this is a transition year.”

Donna Johnson:  “Some districts are excited to dig in”

Dr. Carolyn Lazar:  “teachers are getting “claim spreads” which are tied to “anchor data””

Ghost In The Machine:  Όταν το DOE αρχίζει να φλυαρεί για αλφάβητο σούπα, αν και ακούγεται σαν αγγλική, αυτό σημαίνει ελληνικά για μένα …..

Dr. Carolyn Lazar:  ” DOE is working with journalists to write articles on how to educate parents on “how to read reports and grade spreads”.””Parents don’t know how to do that”

Ghost in The Machine:  Ναι. Οι γονείς είναι χαζός γαμάει

Donna Johnson:   “It’s YouTube Time!”

Video Projector:  (play this)

Disembodied Voice:  “How many hits have you had on this video? ”

Donna Johnson:  “I am unable to answer”

Penny Schwinn:   “pssssswhysssssshittsssssssss” (whispering)

Shana Young: “pssssswhysssssshittsssssssss” (whispering)

Donna Johnson:  “pssssswhysssssshittsssssssss” (whispering)

Penny Schwinn:   “pssssswhysskevinsssshittsssssssss” (whispering)

Shana Young: “pssssswhyyesssssshittsssssssss” (whispering)

Donna Johnson:  “pssssswhysssssshittsssssssss” (whispering)

Penny Schwinn:  “The state’s new accountability system is called the Delaware School Success Framework (DSSF).”

Penny Schwinn:  “The DSSF will go live next month with what they are calling the “paper framework” until the full online system launches by June 2nd (a must date)”  “The reason they are including 4, 5, and 6 year graduation rates is because special education students may not graduate in four years.” (the corporate plan of guaranteed income:  perpetual schooling as is done in perpetual incarceration)

Penny Schwinn:  “Delaware is the first state to have college and career preparation” as part of the state report card”.

Penny Schwinn:  “Ryan Reyna is leading the Accountability Framework Working Group (AFWG)””There is a lot of opinion in this group, and  everyone is not going to agree which makes it a good group.  She said no accountability system is going to have 100% agreement; it took some compromising.” ““Delaware has the most aggressive rate in the country for growth,”

Penny Schwinn:  “it feels more appropriate with Smarter Balanced to set the bar high.” “they are “pushing it with US DOE” but feels they will be approved.”

Penny Schwinn:  “Part A, which counts toward a school’s accountability rating, and Part B which will show on the DOE website and is informative in nature but has no weight on a school’s grade.  Part A includes proficiency (multiplied by the school’s participation rate on SBAC), growth to proficiency, college and career prep (for high schools), average daily attendance, and so forth. ”

Penny Schwinn:  ” For elementary and middle schools, 30% of the weight will be proficiency, and high schools will be 25%.  For growth, in elementary and middle schools this will be 45%, and high schools 40%.  So in essence, 75% of a school’s accountability rating will be based on the Smarter Balanced Assessment in elementary and middle schools, and 65% for high schools. ”

Penny Schwinn:  “The bulk of the rating system that will determine reward, recognition, action, focus, focus plus and priority status will be based on the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  Schwinn said this is very aggressive and I am not comfortable backing down on it.”

Ryan Reyna:  “We’re really valuing schools that are showing growth with students”

Penny Schwinn:  “We are going with the “5 Essentials Survey” for the non-accountability rated Part B.””The DOE is creating a survey working group which will start next month and will include the “usual stakeholders”.”They sent emails to all the superintendents to participate, just like they did with the AFWG.  The state is holding itself accountable as well”

Penny Schwinn:  “On the survey last fall, parents liked the idea of letter grades on the school report and teachers hated it.  So they won’t have that on the report. There won’t be ROCKET SHIPS, TRAFFIC LIGHTS OR TROPHIES on the Delaware School Success Report sent to parents.”

Pat Heffernan:  “It could have been worse, it could have been rocket ships.”

Penny Schwinn:  “Parents will be able to map and graph data.”

Dr. Gray:  “if a parent is looking for a school that has choir, they will be able to find that.”

Penny Schwinn:   “I agree to that.” “Accountability is intended to be a judgment on a school.”

Penny Schwinn::  “We want to make sure parents see other data as well.  WE WILL TRACK THE INFORMATION PARENTS SEARCH FOR ON SCHOOLS to see if they can let schools or districts know about needs in their area.”

Penny Schwinn::   “I need to feed my family. Goodbye”

Ryan Reyna:  We are resetting assessment targets for the state and each subgroup which must be done by 1/31/16.  The overall state proficiency for SBAC was a little over 51% and for the overall subgroups, it was 38.8% for SBAC.

Ryan Reyna::  “Delaware gets to pick their choice of how to hold the state accountable.  With a six year plan, the state must close the proficiency gap between the overall sub-groups (including low-income, students with disabilities, English Language Learners, and minorities) by 50% in six years.  This is what Delaware DOE wants.  Other choices are all schools be 100% proficient by 2019-2020, or…any other method proposed that is educationally sound and results in ambitious but achievable Annual Measurable Objectives for all schools and subgroups.”

Pat Heffernan:  “I am not a fan of the DOE’s preference:  because of its impact on schools with lots of students who have disabilities; they won’t reach this goal either.”

Ryan Reyna:  “ALL students will be included in this state accountability rating.  The infamous “n” number won’t apply (when students are below 15 at a school in a sub-group, currently they are NOT counted towards the individual school’s accountability) on this state system since ALL students that are in a sub-group will be included in the state’s rating….  Students will not be double-counted.  So for example, an African-American student with disabilities will only count towards one of those sub-groups.

Ryan Reyna:  *The DOE must increase the 38.8% for the sub-groups to 45% in six years to meet the state rating with the US DOE….

And with that, the meeting ended and everyone raced out for they all had a bad case of munchies and it was the Grand Prix of Monaco to be first in line at the Taco Bell drive-thru at ………………….

They were 39 days late… but we got them… The preliminary Smarter Balanced Assessments….

The big takeaway was:  is that all there is to it?

We’ve been arguing over this for 4 years.  (I’ve been doing it for 3). We’ve spent $119 million dollars of Race To The Top Money to bring this to fruition. And we’ve been promised so much good would come from this test that we had no choice BUT to go forward with it…

But looking at the scores, it is the same as it ever was….  Nothing changed.  Kids didn’t learn more. Kids may have learned less. If one takes the word of students and teachers, each student spent 8 hours taking this test spread over an average of 3.25 days…

At 70,000 Delawarean students taking the test, a total of 560,000 learning hours were spent on this actual test… One has to ask if that is worth the cost…

Over half a million hours were spent on this test…  just so we can fire teachers.  Is that the best use of our students time?  Or should every parent be concerned with this, and insist that we return to the DCAS, one which took far less time and unlike this test, gave teachers feedback they could give students immediately afterwards.

Because we all know.

If experts say 8 years olds should be able to jump over a 3 foot high bar and you raise it to 5 feet, you are going to have fewer successful jumps… So anyone who says “see, how terrible education is today?: by looking at these scores, needs to be laughed out, ridiculed, and then ignored….  Because they don’t mean anything… Nothing at all.

The real question that needs to be asked is this…  By raising the bar to 5 feet, did more people jump over the 3 foot bar then before…  That data would tell us if this program was a success or failure…

But we don’t have that data… All we know is that fewer people “passed” because we made “passing” beyond the capabilities of all but our most developed and well trained….

So.. parents… is this truly worth $119 million dollars?  So teachers…. is this truly worth $119 million dollars… So administrators… is this truly worth $119 million dollars?

Money that was taken from reading coaches that the Minner administration placed in every school.  Money that was taken from math coaches that the Minner administration placed in every school.  Money that was taken from having a policeman in every school…  Money that was taken from supplying classrooms.  Money that was taken from extra curricular activities.  Money that was taken from the libraries.  Money that was taken away from field trips. Money that was taken away…  .. from you… After all, it is your money now being spent on this…

Did you get all the worth over what you paid?   Are your kids Smarter?  Do they seem more balanced?

If yes, we can’t knock the program … It appears to have worked… But if no, then as many of us have pointed out, this is a boondoggle of epic proportions….

So, when you looked over the preliminaries… did you too say…. “Is that all there is?

Someone is getting rich… somewhere…

With what we currently know about the Smarter Balanced Assessments, it puts the rule of law in danger.  IF we take the Smarter Balanced Assessment, here is what the current law says will happen to our children……

(d) The assessments required in subsections (b) and (c) of this section shall measure:

(1) Student performance as required by any federal mandate; and

(2) For grades 3 through 8, the academic progress of individual students.

Pay particular attention to (2).  Then tell me how the lower score of the Smarter Balanced Assessment fits the tenor of the law above, since it rates children on this test with a completely different one last year… How can you determine the academic progress of students who scored well on the DCAS in 2014 and completely fail the poorly executed Smarter Balanced Assessment this year(2015)?

Obviously… there is zero accountability on progress made by any of these children this year.,…  Which, ironically, breaks the law above….  Some lawyer should have caught this long ago… but I guess the assumption was that test would be so similar passing one would be like passing the other….  Not so.  70% passed the old test… 70% will fail the new test.  We will at the end of this summer, have no clue how well any of these children learned over the 2014-2015 year….. (based on these tests; hopefully the classrooms still functioned regularly).

This shows exactly how Common Core damages education… How much time was wasted preparing precisely for these tests that will be meaningless; time which could have been better spent teaching older curriculums that even parents could understand?

Next:

(1) A 3rd, 5th or 8th grade student whose performance on the reading portion of the assessments administered pursuant to § 151(b) and (c) of this title is Below the Standard, Level II on the statewide assessment, shall not advance to the next grade….

An estimated  number of up to 70% of Delaware’s students will show up in the fall and be told they have to repeat the last grade they thought they just finished…. 70%….

How can that be?  How can we promote only 30% of our students, hold back 70% and still take in a new crop of student at the bottom… Where do we put all of them?

Since this is impossible.  we are going to break the law… We really have no choice… The law says they shall not advance, but we have no choice but otherwise, and the law is thereby broken…

(3) An 8th grade student whose performance on the math portion of the assessments administered pursuant to § 151(b) and (c) of this title is Below the Standard, Level II on the statewide assessment, shall not advance to the next grade

Same argument holds here as well.  The law will be broken.

Now… here is the joke:

(5) With respect to a student whose performance continues to be deficient after completion of the retention year, the Department may not require that the student’s district retain the student at grade level for another year, but shall require that the district develop an individual improvement plan.

So we are going to hold them back one year for failing the test, but then promote them anyway the second year if they still have not passed the test…. Meaning that classes will still have people who can’t grasp the subject now but who are just one year older than they would be otherwise.  So…. what’s the point of taking the test?

So what happens to all these failing kids?  Glad you asked.

For every failure there is the option to enroll in a private individual improvement plan, paid for by the parents of the student…. It is all about money….  $$$…

How much is it worth to you to have your child keep up with his class and not be held back?  $100?  $200?  $500? $1000? If you are indigent, you can even get a government secured loans to cover all education expenses.  The quasi- governmental institution pays the vendor, and over time you pay back the institution…  All loans secured by your tax refund if you ever renege.

Free public school is free no more…

That is why your child is taking  this horrible test and as all smart people have been saying, will fail  and you the parent, will still pay lots for them to graduate on time.

Thereby, for the quick fix, we need this following bill put on the table….

This act removes Subchapter Three of Chapter One of Title 14, in it’s entirety.   (The numbers for all subsequent ones shall be move up by one)

We can add a new bill later… But this piece is so huge, so corrupt, so full of holes, it is better to remove it completely and continue forward with something brand new next year…..

Bluntly: since Mark Murphy took over from Ms. Lillian Lowery, the sole focus of Delaware’s Department of Education has been to privatize education across New Castle County.  By “privatizing”, we are specifically mean “charters”.

This is Rodel , (a wealthy group who are paid to achieve one single business purpose), and it should be a surprise to no one, the the current head of Delaware’s Department of Education was culled from out of that organization.

The modus of operation is clear.  They do all to achieve this one single mean.

Otherwise?

A. Why would highly damaging charter legislation be comprised in secret, a decision the Attorney General belatedly said was unconstitutional and illegal?

B. Why would that same bill be rushed through General Assembly without being debated in full?  And quickly signed before any legislator could change their mind over a re-vote?

C. Why would bills that changed the level of test scores, making tests harder so scores would appear lower, be sneaked through both chambers by shills of the followers of this policy?

D. Why would when the above bill failed its first Senate, that the administration scrambled and with deal to put Greg Lavelle on Chuck Todd’s television show, got his vote to switch and put our children into the wood chipper of the Smarter Balanced Assessments (take it yourself here)… ?

E. Why  would a search for someone to oversee accountability, (short for “manipulation of test data”) end up with a controversial figure from a Californian district that had a bitter charter battle where charters won, and now, all evidence shows, students and parents lost?

F. Why would charters waste $2 million of state money to landlords for each charter opened, when we have public education which own their buildings outright?  Answer:  to put money into those landlord’s pockets?

G. Why does the News Journal (slowly improving) only report the administration’s side and white-wash and disregard the mounting piles of direct evidence proving that charterization is not only less satisfactory then public schools, but are actually harming children overall?

H. Why were the Priority schools all chosen for their closeness to the Mega Charter? And schools far away, who are by non-affiliated sources, deemed to be doing worse, were ignored?

I. Why were all the $119 million RTTT funds used to push this agenda, instead of being used to fix schools and help even these students who now are being used as human shields for the DOE privatization of these schools?

J. Why is our current DOE so gung-ho on returning separate but NOT EQUAL schools upon the children of Wilmington?

K. Why did the Wilmington City Council vote to NOT allow charter school into Wilmington without their express approval.

L.  Why did the DOE dismiss and not sign off on the highly acclaimed report publicized by the University of Delaware which stated that two of the priority schools were rated EXCELLENT on their achieving improvement in their students?
M. Why were those charters included in the bottom 5% of the DCAS scoring group, spared from being considered for priority schools, but just public schools were chosen, perhaps since you can’t increase the number of charters if you prioritize a charter school to turn it into a charter?

N. Why the one person who could bring up questions that provide balance against the DOE in House Education Committees, was unceremoniously removed for obviously no other reason?

O. Why does the DOE insist on its ability to over-ride any of the General Assembly’s passage of laws it deems not to its liking?

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We are in a war… A war you may not be aware is going on around you, until it is too late.. There is a Rodel War on public education and as with any war, if you don’t take the right side, you end up losing…

As with any conflict around you, you have only three options.

  • Fight against the side who seeks to destroy you.
  • Stay out of the fray and accept whatever happens.
  • Fight for the side who seeks to destroy you, hoping they will spare you for your good behavior.

Of these three for most of us, fighting and winning against those who seek to destroy you is our only option. Except instead of us, it is children who suffer.  It is children who get less options. It is children who can’t complain that resources that once came to them at their desks, are now quietly siphoned off to wealthy hands sticking out across all our three counties…

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It’s a war.  and what can you do?

Clearly you need to opt out of the test this spring…  The test hurts children. The test destroys schools and teachers. The test allows more charters to invade Wilmington.  Opting out of this test is the ultimate vote by all citizens over whether this policy shall go forward.  If this state has to disqualify these test results… by mass opt-outs of all its citizens, this takeover will not go forward.

YOU are directly responsible for your child’s educational outcome… Your actions to opt-out or not opt-out, will ultimately decide the future upon which your children, your grandchildren, your neighbor’s children will inherit… These are your schools. Not the DOE’s. These are your communities. not the DOE’s. This is about you, not the DOE.

There is a war going on against Public education; that same education that gave most of you the tools you still use today.

Standardized tests do not determine a child’s worth…  You can make that quite clear to those who seek to use them to destroy public education by opting out…..

It can even be classified as an unjust war, and we have been attacked by a well thought-out long-planned process… In war… all things are fair, or so our mom’s told us…

Opting out of the Smarter Balanced in this state, with a DOE which seems to pretend to listen to you, its citizens, but who’s actions certainly show the opposite to be true….

“They seek to change the people’s law, if it does not suit their purpose…”  You need no more evidence.

Red Clay voted for the MOU… Christina is still debating.   Red Clay caved to power…

I’ve been thinking over how Christina should handle this… And I believe it is well on its way to doing just that.

And power has a lot to do with it.  The billion dollar question is this:  whether it is better to “go along to get along” and always be the slave to whatever gets passed down, or to fight for the freedom to do what’s best for children, and make the other side have to listen to what you say for a change….

And the crux of that argument comes down to this: (which as is usual in a democracy) boils down to how its effects parry across those people who are directly affected by this decision.

The question: is whatever action soon to be taken by Christina in the future, the best option for all the children who will pass through its doors, as well as the best option for all the residents who fork over half their property taxes to fund these schools?….

History shows that what is best, is decentralization… Especially letting those involved who have to deal with the consequences of life-or-death decisions be the ones to determine those decisions in the first place. Things usually work out better that way.

In all cases where centralization has occurred, when poor policy gets decided at the top, it gets forced downward through intimidation or stealth…

Let us examine the state’s record over these past 6 years.   The extra $119 million given by the Feds for education, was squandered…  Where are the new books?  Where are the new classrooms?  Where are the new supplies?  They are not there…. Instead all Delaware has to show for the money, is a $119 million dollar test, one that the entire nation is now up in arms over…  This one little test is all we have to show for $119 million…

Not a proper track record to be given for taking over public schools… I and most Delawareans think someone else should be in control.

The University of Delaware’s report shows 2 priority schools are doing extremely well. This report is a very good case to highlight exactly what is going on here.  These schools were put on probation several years ago, and under the Christina District board, they appear to have tackled the problems so well that according to experts of the University of Delaware inspection team, they have made excellent progress….

It is like firing the coach of the University of Delaware team after they’ve won the championship… (like that would ever happen). But that is exactly what Penny Schwinn implied… That since they happened to be the “coaches” who were hired back when the teams were rebuilding, they can’t possibly remain the head coach now that after all taht hard work, they are in a winning season….

Everyone knows the reason they are being fired, is that like K. C. Keeler, they have a new coach already picked and have already promised her the job.

If the University of Delaware football team can be used as a good example, firing a really good coach and replacing them with a close personal friend, is not the best thing for either a competitive team, or for a school district…

But that is exactly what is being done… This year’s Delaware’s Fighting Blue Hen record was  a dismal 7–5 (4–4 CAA) btw…   yet after the 86 wins and the 2003 National Championship, a good coach was canned to be replaced by this at best mediocre 7-5 coach.  Likewise, after bringing two schools back, those principals are being sacked to make room for someone who doesn’t have a similar track record of success….

If the Christina board succumbs and says to the state DOE, “we will do it your way”, then mediocre must be the best one can ever expect out these students.  It appears the best option is to now stand by those who have done well, and work to better those who can improve…

So if the Christina Board says no to the MOU and puts the ball into the state’s hands, there are two further alternatives. One is a legal injunction; the other is legislation negating the authority of the DOE.  Both bring outside eyes to the entire takeover and make them highly public affairs….

Like sacking K.C. Keeler, if the DOE does override the district and fire principals, teachers, and bring in someone else, the entire world will be micromanaging that person to see if she succeeds or fails… With the entire world looking at her down the wrong end of the telescope, fail she will.

As every mis-step is broadcast across the blogs, WDEL, WDDE, thereby forcing the News Journal to tell the truth for once as well, there is no way the DOE wins… They fired a winning coach and put in a loser. In fact, their very visible missteps here could remove all future DOE interference in public schools for years to come….

Christina District has two options.  Accept the terms being forced upon it and lose all, or, take arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing, end them…

Only the latter choice creates any resolution. It may not go your way, that is possible, but you can never be blamed for the corporate selling of the children in your charge, back into slavery. They were taken from you.

Dear Jack Markell and Mark Murphy:

In your own letter you begin with this:

The Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), which was amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, requires all states to implement “high-quality, yearly student academic assessments.” 20 U.S.C. § 6311(b) (3)(A)……

It says nothing about opting out of low quality tests.  I ask that you please show me where there is any high quality in these poorly written tests? I would further ask that you take these assessments in public and then have your scores published for all to know just how poorly these tests rate in evaluating what is truly important in life.

Were these tests truly high quality it would appear your case might have some standing. However, the real doubts over these test’s qualities and validities makes opting out of these travesties appear the better way for citizens to uphold our current law as it is written, and thereby free each child’s educator to assess each of their student’s skills with tests that are truly of high quality.

Sincerely:

Tonight there will be another town meeting, this the only one in Newark, regarding the upcoming takeover of 6 public schools…  All the players were there, and it was brought up that the number one player with the most at stake, was absent….   you.

The challenge was proffered.  What do you want your public schools to be?

I had to catch myself… My first reaction was a long tedious list of what I didn’t want them to be… which shortened considerably, boils down to one word:  Philadelphia.

So as THE self appointed globally sanctioned prime expert on education across the entire world, knowledgeable of schools from the aborigine Outback, Ghana, China, Russia, Europe, Brazil, to the US…  this was an opportune time to define eduction in its most realistic perspective.

Anyone of age, knows as a young parent you have very detailed ideas of how your child is going to be… but then as a grandparent, you throw them all out the window and enjoy the individual spirit and quirks each child possesses… That perspective is endemic to where I am going to take this conversation.

1)  All people are different; education strategy must account for that.  Anything that defines education to one single formula will work for one single type of human being, and fail for all the others… Guaranteed! Some more so than others. Success depends on bringing each individual person’s talents, instilled in them either by genetics or environment, to the area where they can be most successful and live happy and productive lives… (Assuming the whole principle for living is to be happy and have a productive life…  After all: why should anyone purposefully live to endure an unhappy and fruitless life?)

2) People tend to learn what they deem is important and discard the rest.  It is how we are wired… Making people learn things that are not important is a waste of time… They’ll forget it, so why invest the time teaching something that is not there in two days, and is never again needed in their lifetimes?

3) Since children are acquiescent, education across the ages has always revolved around what adults think should be instilled to promote the society they envision… Example, people who are bible bangers think we need more religion in our schools because, if everyone thought as did they, they wouldn’t be ostracized by society anymore.. So usually for whatever reason, educational policy has always been about promoting the self-interests of the policy maker.  Recently Common Core. Once it was Science.  Once it was Creationism.  Now it is $$$$$.

4) There is a lot of consensus that everyone should have the ability to read the language they will be using the rest of their life, and to add, subtract, multiply, and divide (specifically in a base-10 system)….  These are fundlemental and I am sure that a statically rounded 100% of all human beings would agree to that.

5) And lastly:  it should be a guaranteed right that everyone has the right to learn what ever they want, if they want to avail themselves of the opportunity….  Which means at an early age:  exposure to a wide variety; and at a later age, freedom to pursue that area in which they perceive they will be happiest…

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And that is it….  From there the discussion boils down into petty arguments, vision, details, and personal whims and attributes.  Conservatives want a conservative agenda taught, with no mention of the sins of liberal thinking… Religious nuts want their religion, and only THEIR religion taught to bolster their teachings at home.  Business interests want psychological robots to perform tasks on demand with no question.  Intellectuals want the smart ones culled and given an robust menu upon which to flourish.  Poor people just want someone to keep their kids till they can make it home from work.

So what we need is an educational system that encompasses all of the above…. In other words, is it unrealistic to expect a child of a crack mom, kept by an aunt who works 2 jobs, to achieve standards set for an above average affluent white suburbanite from a family income well over $80,000?   Why, yes.  It is…  In other words, is it unrealistic to expect a child raped by a relative entrusted of its care, to behave as would a child of a wealthy stay-at-home mom who ran things with an iron fist beginning at birth, whose child never learned any other option other than trust implicitly what they were told to do?  Why, yes… it is… In other words, is it unrealistic to expect a child who has a 500 word vocabulary upon entering 1st grade to achieve at the same level expected of a child whose parents boast they have read to him over 2000 books before he/she enters the school system?   Why, yes… it is…

I am right on the verge of preaching again what schools should not be, which since I said earilier I would not do, I will leave it to you to put that together in your own mind….

But as a final thought, some of us are old enough to remember the public service commercials once ending with:  “because a mind is a terrible thing to waste…..” 

And that is the essence to me of what our public schools should be….

They should be areas of opportunity….  Where if a child is born of a gifted mind, he won’t be denied opportunity because of the color of his skin, or the economic standing of his parents, or a disability with which he was born….

All people may be created equal, but not all have equal opportunity upon arriving upon public education’s doorstep.  The true ideal of public education should be to give ALL those arriving, the opportunity to make their lives better than what it would be, if such schools did not exist.

So, based on the assumption that schools should be areas of opportunity, a lot of crap is immediately discarded and those things that impeding this mission of being an opportunity become readily apparent.

1) Those students denying other students their opportunity to learn, need to be culled.

2) Sports, music, and arts, providing additional opportunities, need to be enhanced, not diminished.

3) Statewide testing should be only a measure of each student’s progress. Not a brick bat to level at teachers, schools, and districts, and poor people in general.

4) We should be happy if all can read, write, and do basic math.  But we should definitely offer more for those so inclined to go further.

5) A child’s path should be decided by its parents… If the child has none, then the best experts possible should be there to guide him.

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Education should be neither liberal or conservative, but should include elements promoting both.  It should be neither religious or atheistic, but should include elements exploring both.  It should be neither for rich or poor, but should include opportunities for both….

Public Education should be the place where anyone, no matter what number life has given him, can grow and explore however he is so inclined.  No limits. No entry restrictions.

Case in point: there was once a black kid, of single mom, immigrant estranged father, raised by grandparents, who took full advantage of all public education’s opportunities… He is now the President of the United States of America….

Alas, if we could have only given Republicans as equal of an education.