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You may remember… Only two states were accepted in the first Race to The Top Competition… Delaware..*yay* and  Tennessee.   Same agenda. Same connections to the Governor’s Association and Chiefs For Change… Same influences, etc…

Let me tell you where Tennessee is now…

In three weeks, they start their school year… yes, August 3rd.   This past year they instituted a non-renewal policy that said if you’re scores were not above standard, your contract would not be renewed… AND you would be marked as ineligible for rehire. 

(Someone thought the threat of firing would cause scores to rise.)

One of their larger districts is undergoing some pain right now…

The Metro- Nashville Public School system is experiencing a teacher shortage… 

  • So far, 320 new teachers have been hired- 42 are TFA ( which is the maxamim limit of them which MNPS is allowed to hire)
  • The average # of new teachers hired each year (based upon the last 5 years) is 574
  • 19% of schools will have new principals
  • Currently, MNPS needs to hire 189 new teachers before school starts in three weeks
  • MNPS still needs to hire 7 principals.
  • There are 74  (out of 153) schools with major teacher vacancies
  • The top needs are: Exceptional Ed (22), Math (19), English Learners (10) and Spanish (9)
  • Just 21 (15 working) days to the start of school.

 

Obviously the strict discipline enforced on teachers has made the upcoming year to be one of survival; not excellence…. Just keeping open the doors will be a challenge, heaven help the test scores of 2017…

Also keep in mind that many of those teachers whose contracts were not renewed, were once considered excellent teachers before we started using Common Core’s tests.  from the district’s website:

  • Sixty-one percent of MNPS teachers hold a master’s degree or higher and 99.75 percent are highly qualified in at least one subject area

That 0.25 % not qualified matches up with the TFA candidates…..

Which proves as all have said, the folly of putting all education’s blame on teachers… Now, you have no teachers so what are you going to do?

Well the MNPS plans to contract out to a computer teaching service for its classes having no bodies in front of it… as well as wave all certification requirements for anyone willing to stand up in front of a class.

Yes.

NOW FOR THE GREAT NEWS…………………………………………………………………………..

This isn’t happening in Delaware.

Why?

Mostly because of you, who objected to insanity and would not be silenced… Though corporate money could buy out Earl Jacques, corporate money could buy out Dave Sokola, it could not buy out parents, it could not buy out teachers, and it could not tamper with the communication system set up between them…..

As a historian I am prone to look for those important moments and speculate had they gone differently, what the new outcome would be… I know that is a weakness of mine. But saying so, if one were to ask this historian where Delaware avoided the train wreak its sister is now going through, I would have to point to the pivot as being John Young of Christina’s Board of Education…

Keep in mind we are a small state.  The Metro-Nashville school district alone has 80,000 students.  That is two thirds the size of our entire state school system and they are but one district.  Therefore each citizen here has a larger percentage of a voice in their government than do almost everyone else.

We also do not have a television station all turn to for local news. There is a definite knowledge gap which most smart people have found is best adequately filled through the blogosphere.  Our blogosphere has more investigative reporters then the entire state’s news conglomeration of radio stations and newspapers combined…

As a result of all of this, here it was hard to only give “one side” of the story (though Dave Sokola certainly tried). The other story got out, sometimes too late to change legislation, but not to late to now hold those perpetrators who pushed it, accountable for the damage they have caused Delaware’s children in lost opportunities…

(Remember how our educational measurements soared, up until they hit the Common Core legislation these crooks pushed through?)

With all those kept in mind, it was John Young who pointed the direction long before anyone else publicly, that corporate schemes were behind this new “push” for improving education…  I confess, I remember glossing over Kilroy’s exclamations of Markell’s Wall Street connections with glazed eye before John passed on an illuminating tidbit on what was wrong with American education…

What struck me in that video was how on a map, it was very obvious that the diagnosis of ADHD in children starts in Oklahoma and grows exponentially as it heads to the east Coast.  Pretty much mirroring the graph for average amounts of extra disposable income after necessary expenses have been met on a state by state basis….

That and the failure Common Core was having among children who were in the test classes for it… Failures as high as 85% in those test classes, which the DOE still as yet has not divulged. These failures included some of the previous years’ top students… Something was seriously wrong.

Bottom line, Delaware did not go down the path as did Tennessee because the people exerted enough pressure here to slow the process and force the inclusion of parents, teachers, and “active” administrators in the formulation of policy….

No, we still do not have a perfect solution… we still need to fight on… But in all glaring truth, we also do not have Tennessee…..

And that, is a victory for truth, justice, and the will of the American people…. We should be proud of ourselves for what we stopped…. and we should tip our hats to John Young in congratulatory thanks for first sounding the alarm which mobilized us into action….

In a great measure due to him, we are much better than Tennessee.

 

 

 

 

 

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…..

Jacques Equals Joke In FrenchRepresentative Jacques:  French for “Joke”Stupid Town USA

If you live in anywhere on the western border in this state between the Canal and Pencader Industrial Park, you are part of the problem… YOU elected a real “doofus” for your representative…

One cannot blame the Markell administration for butting off John Kowalko and putting this doofus in his place on the House Education Committee… It makes perfect and very good sense to do so if you want to further an agenda that is extremely harmful to every single Delawarean man, woman, and child, and instead  push through your agenda which will make you extremely wealthy….

Those putting Doofus in power were not dumb… Those electing Doofus may not of have been dumb originally… Granted they are a lot smarter now…

If you live under a stone, you are probably wondering…. Gee, why is the great honorable kavips calling out this fellow human being of his to be a doofus…..

The answer is this statement….

“That one little test” in reference to the Smarter Balanced Assessment.   Here is his full statement…. “That one little test would not be a big deal added to what we would barely have.  I think (the opt out bill) is just a quick reaction to an issue that really, we’re not sure there is an issue.” -Delaware State Rep. Earl Jaques

Now here is the killer…. His particular use of phrasing, “that one little test” belies his complete understanding of how dangerous and deadly this test is to young children…  If he was truly ignorant as I pretended above, he would have called it out by name, as what every normal human being ever existing on this planet would have done. Something along these lines:   “The Smarter Balanced Assessment” or “This new test”  or  “This test foisted upon us by RTTT and Rodel and my buddy, ole pal, Jack Markell and his deputy, Mark Murphy”…. well….. you get the idea….

But the very fact that he dimunized it with the words…. “That one little test”… shows he is all too aware of the damage it will cause ….

Therefore instead of being a doofus, someone like this….

Hey Jacques Markell Speaking

We got someone who knows the harm he is doing and knows it very well… someone who also knows he has to lie through his teeth since what he is proposing is something so despicable that no one will ever let him accomplish what he wanted willingly.  Therefore he has no choice but use deceit….  Someone like this….

Moustache You A Question Rep Jacque

At 20 million people, the above still stands as the most horrid of human beings…  Today, there are up to 130,000 Delawarean children forced to take the Smarter Balanced Assessment who will lose their entire future if allowed to go forward.  That is a fair start upon the 20 million figure.

What we have here is a conniving, hateful, horrid, insecure, manipulative, disgruntled, runt of a human being who was used by his manipulators to push forward “their” agenda.  An agenda so horrid, so distasteful, so horrendous, even they could not,  even in their bad manipulative conscious, undergo it themselves…. They needed a puppet, and that is what these voters in the 27th have given up….

It is they who need to jerk the rug from under this person’s feet… He is sending all children to purgatory, or hell depending upon your beliefs with this Smarter Balanced Assessment… And only his neighbors showing at his door (which btw is:  82 Cann Rd, Newark DE 19702) with shotguns, AR 47’s, rifles, pistols, crossbows, and Gatling guns, in order to persuade him the folly of his position, can stop this train from jumping off its tracks and blowing up every school in this state….

When you confront the demon, be polite…. assume he doesn’t know…. Treat him as a Goober, and not a pathological Stalin….   You know the truth, he knows the truth, and if the Smarter Balanced Assessment is derailed as every Delawarean parent who has taken the test well knows and certainly wishes, we can move on.  But do show up with guns.  🙂  (It is why we all protect the 2nd Amendment so arduously, is it not?)

My national antithesis put it very well this way.

“I think the people who support Common Core out of good intentions do not realize the bad side of Common Core. Beyond the emotional arguments, the philosophical arguments, and the crazy arguments—there are a lot of crazy arguments both for and against Common Core—there is a very practical argument the Common Core supporters have no answer for.

Moms cannot help their children with math homework. Reporters who are single and Common Core supporters without kids may not be able to relate here or identify with this, but that’s why this is such a sleeper issue. Moms cannot help their kids with math homework and that’s creating most of the rage against Common Core.

That is why we fight.  That is why we opt out.

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.

I wanted to take time out this holiday with battle lines currently etched deep across our state’s educational system, not so much to point out what it is we don’t want, but to remind all that this fight is indeed worth having by reminding us of what is possible for New Castle County Schools, especially those within the city of Wilmington.

Children learn things quickly.  it’s our genes; If the brain grows, a growing child fills it up with whatever he has available: whether books, video games, twerking, or basketball.

Our problem which we face today is that we have many children in America who grow up, learning and filling their heads with things which are not being tested on corporate developed Standardized tests… We must accept that they are not stupid; they have for the most part the same number of brain cells as did we,   They just used them to study something other than our version of academics, because our version of academics was unavailable to them. Instead they developed neural connections relating to other things.

Example. If one never browses through an encyclopedia, one will never know what is in it.  If one does do so, then one has at least a better familiarity with those topics…  So to fix education in our cities, we need to work on early exposure, which basically inflates their universe very early in their development, so later neurons can be created out of knowledge particles later.

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Secondly we are a big country.  If a child is an artist, we will still need artists and forcing them into a spot as a mathematician is bad for them and their employer. “OK, Which one of you keeps drawing daisies on our investor reports?”

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Third, think back on your own development… What did you learn and what do you remember?  Most likely what you remember are those moments where your emotions dominated your thought process, whether you were happy or frightened, and you remembered those instances.  Research is now discovering  what we always knew about our selves, which is that when your emotions become stimulated, you remember that moment for a long time.  Emotions are what lay the groundwork of our memories, from our beginning to our end.

Anyone who has gone through our military’s basic training (except for the Navy, their’s is a joke), can attest to this. It is a very (both good and bad) emotional time, and one retains a lot.  You may love or hate your Drill Sargent, but he is the most effective driver of knowledge you’ll ever know.  Without him, learning can not be as thorough.

What works best for children who do learn, is for them to have a personal relationship with their teacher… If they love their teacher, then losing that return affection is an incentive not to do poorly.  No one disappoints those they love; if given a choice, they always disappoint those who don’t matter.

This is exactly why we need an 11:1 student teacher ratio in all our schools which have percentages of reduced lunch over 50%.  Let us look at the advantages of this.  An 11:1 student teacher ratio allows children to know the teacher, and more importantly, the teacher to know the child… It is this bond, especially among those who’ve never had a conversational relationship with an adult, that will cement knowledge into their child’s head.

High need children require more time.  With an 11:1 student teacher ratio (grades k-5; and grade 9)  in schools of high poverty,  a teacher can determine if the child is “getting it”, or if outside factors are preventing that child from moving forward.  Even if each child gets an additional hour per week, that is 11 hours spent (one full workday) on top of a full work week every teacher needs to spend… Now explain to me how a high school teacher who has 6 classes of 30 people can spend one hour per child?

Hopefully most readers have seen this before and know the critical factor in improving education is to have a positive relationship between each student and their teacher.  To achieve that, you need a ratio underneath the maximum of 11:1

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The next step is to pay for that.  Raising income taxes on the top 1% of Delaware would add $70 million per year to the revenue stream.  This $70 million should go on to insure that sufficient staffing exists in all schools with over 50% poverty levels.  Those schools must be at 11:1.  Therefore funding for that, needs to be done upfront.  By ignoring  that piece of the puzzle we will in turn, not discuss the most important piece of whether education succeeds or fails.  No one replaces their roof before they figure out how it will be paid.  This pay-piece must be in place for all other reforms to follow…

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Next, we need to educate children directly at the levels of their abilities…   If a child enters school with a vocabulary of 3000 words and his seat-mate enters with a 300 word vocabulary. teaching down the middle will benefit neither.. Both will be lost and unmotivated.  Plus children do not learn at the same time of time.  Some children learn fast early and slow down later; and others are cool to start, but catch fire later while the others are slowing down.  One can see the problems.

The best way to fix that is simple and ingenious.  You group children in groups of 11, based on similar test scores. If you have 440 kids in your elementary school,  you will have 40 teams of 11 students each and require 40 teachers. This allows each teacher to specialize in the individual needs of each of their students.   Her 11 person class might include those who scored between 500-550.  Her partner teachers in the same class, might have the 550-600 range and the third teacher in that classroom, might have  the 600-650 score range of students….

If lack of space requires it, this still allows 33 children in the same classroom while complying with the 11:1 ratio.   Each teacher’s job is to make sure their class of 11 understands all educational basics.  In this arrangement there should be no child held back for a year, (unless outside circumstances come into play). The child with low vocabulary works on growing it. The child with a huge vocabulary, works on growing his as well. Each can apply themselves fully to the task at hand.  And there is certain to be intellectual crossover in the same class where what is learned by the top group, gets picked up by the lower two…

With proper funding, this arrangement works on so many fronts.  it allows for specialization by each teacher since their groups are homogenized by test scores, but the entire room remains full of diversity.

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Fourth, we need to phase out Charter Schools.  Or to be more precise, make them no longer compete against public schools for funds.  Instead, fund Charter Schools out of line items in the state budget.  We currently do so with vocational schools.  If a child wants to go to vocational school, he goes and his school money does not follow him; it stays in his feeder school.  This would allow public schools to keep their money and properly allocate the experimental funding of charters to the correct repository of that research: the state DOE.  It would also serve as a revenue boost for each public school competing against charters, one coming without the raising of property taxes district wide.

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There are two more planks which we  can cover later.  For now, I want you to see how easy it would be to provide education on the world class level with that of Finland by carrying forward four simple steps.

  • 1)  11:1 student teacher ration in schools over 50% poverty line
  • 2)  Tax the top 1% to cover increased expenses.
  • 3)  Group children with others scoring as did they on the test.
  • 4)  Eliminate Charter’s drain on public education.

Hopefully this easy solution to today’s educational problems, is deemed worthy of fighting over.  Because it is.

It’s official! By 2050 whites are the minority.  So who will run things?  Currently all population trends point out those lucky ones will be today’s least educated.  History over the last century showed two ways these reins of power can be exchanged… One happened in the former nation of Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, The other was South Africa. Whites need to hope and pray the South African model becomes the one chosen.  There is no guarantee America will be great forever.. Either of these choices can happen and the wrong one will cause the economic collapse of this country.

Today’s child entering kindergarten THIS YEAR, will be 40 when that shift occurs…  Today’s child will be running the country when if lucky we in our 80’s and 90’s will be completely dependent upon them….

This past class year, we needed to have these true reforms in place.  We are already behind one year… How many more years does it take before we finally drop this charade which lets wealthy get rich by appearing to help lower economic levels get an education, and instead, …make the right choices which immediately start giving them a real education?  

His words:

“We know we can’t force any kid to put their hands on a keyboard.”

This was uttered by New Jersey’s equivalent of Mark Murphy.  Meaning if New Jersey finds it illegally impossible to force kids to ruin their lives forever by taking the Smarter Balance Assessments, then Delaware can not force kids to do so either….

And why of course would a state head of education utter such words?  Because he knows first hand the damage these tests will do, just as does our own Mark Murphy, but he puts children first.  Mark Murphy and the current administration’s DOE has repeatedly shown, children are to be the very last priority.  For our guys, It is all about creating more charter schools (which incidentally were found by Stanford University to do a poorer job at teaching quality then do public schools)…

it was my opinion from all of the books I had been reading, education groups I had become members of and from conversations with other teachers all over the country that these tests and the CC$$ that we are being required to teach have been carefully designed to, in fact, PRODUCE this failure of our children. I said that the corporate backers and the politicians they have cozied up to are working together to ensure that they can continue to label our schools and us teachers as failures so that they can close our public schools and open up charter schools to come in and save the day. They plan to break our unions by replacing us horribly ineffective, veteran teachers with cheap Teach for America minimally-prepared, temporary teachers. They plan to sell all of the states that have bought into this scheme all new CC$$-aligned materials in addition to the new online tests which require upgrades of technological infrastructure in ALL schools across the country. Cha-ching!

In a nutshell….  Your weapon against this … is to opt out your child in protest… Have him get sick for a week…..  If the tests are non-conclusive, they can’t be used to close schools; fire teachers; bust unions, and allow more charters….  This test needs to go away.

Because our educational system is fine, if your standards go back to what we had when we were in school.. It is so much better than that… The sole problem with education today, is that it is being compared to the MIT of China in Shanghai, and we are being told we are not as smart as them… Reality is, They send all their most promising ones over here for college….  What do they know we don’t?

Was reading an entertaining account of a well meaning principal who thought it a good idea if his teachers all took the upcoming test their students would be taking in the spring.

Up to that point there had been pro’s and con’s over Common Core.  Some teachers welcomed it.  Others preached against its dangers…  But once the test was given to all of these, all were unanimous.  This was a huge costly mistake that will have serious repercussion on our entire societies’ children.

ITTS… It’s The Test, Stupid.

Here is the account that came out last spring and here, got short shifted due to our pressing involvement with our local legislature at that time…

Here is what happened when teachers gathered to express the test.

The teachers couldn’t get over how HARD the tests were.  Discussion had shifted from “let’s get ‘er done” to “this is ridiculous!!!”

Teachers noticed issues such as:

  • how overly sophisticated the level of text was for the grade level being tested;
  • how the excerpts were taken out of the context of the story in such a way that put the reader at a distinct disadvantage when trying to answer the questions without enough of the story line or background knowledge about relationships between characters;
  • how sometimes there seemed that there were at least two answers with supporting evidence for each that seemed like it COULD be correct and it wasn’t clear how the students were supposed to be able to figure out which one was more correct than the other, especially if we ADULTS weren’t sure;
  • how there were so many questions that required the student in one way or another to find evidence from the text to support their answer choice;
  • how busy the page looked and how students wouldn’t know what all of the tabs and buttons were for;
  • how there was more than one scroll bar on the screen at one time so students would need to know how to scroll the text of the story differently than scrolling to see the questions on the page;
  • how there could be up to three different texts that the student would have read and to be able to “keep in their head” as they thought about what the question was asking them in order to compare or to analyze;
  • how testing “stamina” was going to be an issue for MANY children, even those who hadn’t typically struggled in the past;
  • how there were essays that they would have to type with whatever keyboarding skills they had;
  • how they would have to type their essays into a text window that may require scrolling if their answer exceeds the space provided.

One teacher said that we seriously need to get ready for students who are going to be emotionally and psychologically DEVASTATED by the experience of taking this test.  One teacher said that she had taken it at a time when she was pretty tired. She figured that her fatigued condition might somewhat mimic or help her compare her mental abilities at the time of the test to what a student’s ability might be like and she said that she was seriously straining to answer the questions and couldn’t imagine how frustrated and exhausted this was going to be for the students.  Another shared how she had her OWN son, who is a math whiz, take the math practice test. She said that not only was he exhausted when he was done, but he wasn’t even sure how well he may have done on it.  And yet another teacher actually asked a top engineer adult friend of hers to take a test and he didn’t see the importance or relevance of MANY of the questions on the test. He deemed it a HORRIBLE test of knowledge for ANYONE who would want to be ready for HIS career.

If you still have not taken on of these tests, here they are on line...  Seriously, you need to look these over to know the extent you are being lied to by those pushing these tests forward…. When you take them, I ask that you rate them for :

  • relevancy
  • clarity
  • honesty
  • integrity

And think of the message it is sending your children… That message of:  it doesn’t matter anymore of what you know. You are going to fail anyway.  (70% do; that is 7 out of 10 children)

Now if you haven’t taken this test personally, you might still think that these standards are tough, and provide an realistic measure of how weak our education is… As an example if the test comprised of a question that asked a student do divide 2345 by 987 and determine its remainder,  I would agree with you.  That is a skill all kids should have.. However after you take the test you too, come up with only one conclusion. The agreement rate is 100%.  This test is ridiculous…

Especially for this one….

  • how sometimes there seemed that there were at least two answers with supporting evidence for each that seemed like it COULD be correct and it wasn’t clear how the students were supposed to be able to figure out which one was more correct than the other, especially if we ADULTS weren’t sure;

Our our adults stupid?  They are if they don’t take the test and if they don’t opt their kids out of school on testing days…. They are really, really, stupid.  Take the test… and make up your own mind…  You can’t say you support higher standards if you haven’t taken the test!  100% (even among those who supported Common Core) agreeing it is ridiculous so far, can’t all be wrong.

You remember it well.  The Governor’s press show at Warner Elementary on September 4th, 2014… in which he announced the designation of priority schools would take place and that it was terrible that these schools were total failures which were destroying education for young black children stuck in those schools with no where to go?

We need new $160,000 leaders (corrupt and beholden to us ) said Markell at the presser. We will also give $6 million in additional money (provided we have full control and no responsible district is allowed to look over our shoulder on how we spend all the school’s money, not just the bonus of $6 million…. ) to make these children learn.

Then the parade of local dignitaries all step out in front of the microphone singing praises to Markell and glorifying on high his name.

We were told it was all conceptual still; nothing was in writing as of yet… (see Nancy for documentation) …  Within minutes after stunned silence, questions began to fly…

$6 million?  For how long?  The answer was: spread over 5 years… or $200,000 per year per school out of which $160,000 went each year to pay a leader…

$40,000, the remainder, was to be spent first year on consultants of DOE’s choice to help plan the takeover.  So really, no new money was going to go any student needs?

And then they had to fire all principals.  And then they had to fire all teachers and only rehire 50% back… What of the empty spaces?  They would fill them with substitutes (TFA) Murphy said… cheaper than teachers.

“Were the new school leaders hired yet?”  we asked.  “No, but yes”, we were told.

Were these schools being targeted solely because the charters last spring had a difficult time trying to get the bare minimum number of students to sign up and leave the very good public school classes?  “No,” we were told.  Based on their scores over the past three years, these were the bottom 5% schools in the state, and for that reason alone they were all being prioritized….

We looked at scores… Are you sure they are the worst schools in the state we asked?   “Yes, our scores (which we see and you can’t), show these to be the worst schools in the state.  It is only a coincidence of poverty that they are all in walking distance of the new Mega Charter School for which we changed the law so our friends could get state money to make it happen. ”

Well the public shrugged.  If they were the worst in the state and were not succeeding, perhaps drastic measures were needed….

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Our DOE however is not the only rater of schools.  There are other organizations that rate schools.  Sometimes using the DOE’s published results, and sometimes by doing their own research….  Would you be surprised to hear that they came up with entirely different rankings than did our DOE?  What? You shake your head, you wouldn’t?

Best Public Elementary Schools in Delaware Ranked 1-98

The organization doing this uses a different criteria.  Asking questions; tabulating results.  There are some conjunctions.  Some schools are at the bottom of both lists….  Here is how the 6 priority schools are ranked, on what most parents would deem to be the more appropriate criteria for deciding if a school is proper for ones child….

98.  Frederick Douglas Stubbs Elementary School.

97.  Bancroft Elementary School.

75.  Warner Elementary School.

68.  Evan Shortlidge Academy

67. Highlands Elementary School.

(And of course Bayard Middle School, not being an elementary school, is not on the list)…  Now.. here are the remainder of the top 5% which were not picked upon as being priority schools….

96.  West Seaford Elementary School

95.  Porter Road Elementary School

94,  Casimir Pulaski Elementary School

… which round out the official bottom 5%….  Now, here continues the list of the 29 schools between the 2nd lowest priority school, Bancroft (97th) and the 3rd lowest priority school, Warner (75th).

93.  Frederick Douglas Elementary School,  Seaford.

92. Blades Elementary School, Blades, Delaware

91. North Laurel Elementary School, Laural

90. May B. Leasure Elementary, Bear

89  Joseph McVey Elementary, Newark.

88. Wilmington Manor Elementary, New Castle

87.  Harry Eisenberg Elementary School, Who Knows (‘Eisenberg Principle)

86  Castle Hills Elementary, New Castle

85  Henry Brader Elementary, Glasgow

84. East Dover Elementary School, Dover

83.  Elizabeth McClary Elementary, Newark

82.  Brookside Elementary School, Newark

81.  Colwyck Elementary School, New Castle

80.  Etta Wilson Elementary School, Pike Creek

79.  The Brennan School, Newark

78.  Albert Jones Elementary, Christinia

77. William Lewis Dual Language Elementary School, Wilm.

76. South Dover Elementary School, Dover

>And finally at number 75, we reach the 3rd priority school….  The final priority school is listed at 68.

Would you like to know why these rankings seem to be different from those the DOE is forcing upon us?  The answer is simple.  Instead of only using test scores which are duly reported here and do figure into the numerical rankings, they used multiple data points… including surveys which students, parents and teachers expressed their satisfaction over progress their school was making…

The rankings were done nationally across all 50 states and the District of Columbia.  (The DOE stats came from 2011-2012) … 47,436 elementary schools were receiving of a grade, with 40,413 of those also receiving a numerical ranking. This site not only shows rankings within Delaware, but shows how well each school does compared to the Philly Metro Area, and nationally.

Academics accounted for 50% of the score (and not Mark Murphy’s, Rodell’s, Dave Sokola’s, Jack Markell’s, Penny Schwinn’s 100%).  Since those of us over 30 did not take a public school state-mandated test, and we turned out well, the other factors relating to the score were weighed in at:

20%, District experience based on surveys.

20% Teachers Grade, from both surveys and statistics

10% Student Culture and Diversity.

Now, (as most of us think should be for all), the Academic portion was also not solely based on the score of the standardized test.  60% of the Academic scores was weighted upon the DOE test, and was taken from the US Dept. of Education.  30% came from the District Academics grade, which combines the state assessment score, percentages going to top colleges, AP class participation, AP Test pass rate, Composite SAT scores, and graduation rates. Also included were the district’s survey responses, advanced math enrollment, and the districts student/teacher ratio. The teachers grade was based on 35% weight by test scores, then by salary rankings, absenteeism, surveys, teacher experience, and student teacher ratios.  Filling in the holes were the student quality which were determined by diversity, balance of low and high incomes, surveys from parents, and balance of gender.

So overall, we have a far better measure of educational quality, similar to what children of the 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, all got before we began testing in the 90’s and using that one score to put more privateers into educational start-up capitalistic ventures.

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We were told Warner was failing… Governor Jack Markell was there to do it himself… So let us look at a different perspective…

Flat out;  their scores were 31% Math; 36% Reading.   After all, they are in high poverty districts.  Yet they got a B- over all… A score far better than the C- given to East Side Charter School, or the equivalent to the B- given to Booker T Washington Elementary in Dover, ranked by this survey at number 62, both singled out in praise by Mark Murphy for their improvement in test scores alone… Yet, they fail to develop an overall better child!

Warner’s academics were indeed a solid C by the time all items were weighed together… The district over all, Red Clay, one of the best run districts in the nation, got a B+;  that is important because it signifies support, resources, talent, and stability; all important items in creating good schools.  The teachers got a solid B…  Primarily that means parents are happy with the schooling their child is receiving. Warner’s culture and diversity grade were B… Overall it ranks in the 25th lowest percentile.  Not in the bottom 5th….

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What does this say?  Primarily it states that there are multiple ways to rate things and beauty is in the eye of the beholder… If you ask 10 men to rank 10 women from top to bottom you will not get the same rankings except in a freak occurrence.   3 of these schools are NOT problem schools by someone else’s interpretation…  in fact in someone elses’ eyes, there are 23 other schools that have more of a problem than do 3 of the 6 slated as priority schools….

So we must ask ourselves why were these 6 schools and only these 6 schools singled out?  Why are those schools held up by one as showing good students, almost ranked as failing by someone else with different criteria?

The answer can only be one thing….. The Mega Charter School scheduled to open next September which will need, if it is to stay afloat, lots of kids currently going to these six non-failing schools…

Those of you who work in a for-profit company… the shifting criteria analogy goes like this…  You’re old boss who hired you, grew and developed your unit and people, is now out.  In comes a new kid who only looks at one thing… profit percent off of revenue.  He does not care if total dollars decline or what customers think; he does not care what employees think; he does not care what his boss thinks, he does not care if the place falls apart… He thinks his only job is to turn in a “higher percentage” of profits off his revenue stream… Important things you need, he doesn’t buy.. It is not important to achieving his goal.  One runs short handed; as people quit, he refuses to hire replacements.  As his revenues from paucity of customers decline, he cuts even deeper to keep that percentage line from moving downard….   Eventually no one wants to come there; no one wants to work there; and the doors get closed. On his last dollar, he is exuberant that he kept his costs under 70% and turned in 30 cents that week as profit… “I’m the best there is”, he say out loud.

That is what is going on here… One item. One line, One criteria is being used as the one decider….  Everything else is expendable… “Just get scores up”… So what if East Side Charter School is nationally ranked as a C- because it FAILS to develop a student’s overall personal character? Who cares?   It raised its scores up…

This should not happen. It will not happen if YOU get mad and start doing something…. but if you brush it off, it is already on its way.