Tag: Education

It’s Settled?

Filed in Education by on December 1, 2016 4 Comments
It’s Settled?

Nutshell: 4-3. Settlement accepted. What remains to be seen is how the best interests of our students are being served by taking the settlement. Once the language is made public, we’ll get a good idea of what each board member believes is in the best interest of our kids.

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Christina School District Board Elections

Filed in Education by on May 9, 2016 4 Comments
Christina School District Board Elections

I was asked in a comment on another post to weigh in on the Christina School District’s School Board elections tomorrow. I said my response deserved its own post; so here we go. I’ve been following the candidates over the last several weeks reading what they’ve been putting out on social media, listening to the feedback from people who attended the candidate forums. Tonight I attended the final candidate forum in person to hear the candidates first hand and I walked out feeling the same way I felt walking in.

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Polls are Open

Filed in Education by on March 23, 2016 20 Comments
Polls are Open

In Christina, Brandywine, and Cape Henlopen School Districts the polls are now open for Super Referendum Wednesday. They will remain open until 8pm this evening.

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What Brought the No Votes to Christina? Part I

Filed in Delaware, Education by on March 14, 2016 13 Comments
What Brought the No Votes to Christina? Part I

A commenter on my previous post about supporting public education and “Super Referendum Wednesday” asked specifically about the Christina School District’s two failures last year and if there were any themes from no voters as to why they voted the way they did. Rather than answer it inline, I felt those themes deserved their own posts for visibility sake, That way the types of misinformation we have campaigned against for the last several years is put on display.

Yes, there are common themes among the no-voters that emerged from both elections, and they persist even today. Check out the CSDpavingtheway or Official District’s Facebook pages for proof. Better yet, read the comments on any article the News Journal posts about Christina on delawareonline.com, just be sure to have your eye bleach ready.

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Do You Support Public Education in Delaware?

Filed in Featured by on March 11, 2016 14 Comments
Do You Support Public Education in Delaware?

Christina has absolutely awesome programs. From the REACH program, to Gauger’s Business Professionals of America Team, to our outstanding arts programs, fantastic drama and performing arts programs, band and music programs, to Lego Robotics and Engineering clubs (YES! That’s a thing and makes me want to be in elementary school again!), career pathway programs like the new Forensic Science STEM program at Glasgow High School, Language Immersion programs to our amazing student athletes and budding philanthropists and advocates for those in need! These school programs are directly supported by operating funds raised through property taxes. And all of them depend on Christina’s operating referendum passing.

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Pay Per Pupil?

Filed in Delaware by on January 3, 2016 29 Comments
Pay Per Pupil?

Imagine if we paid for other government services on a per use basis. Fire companies. They can’t douse your burning home until you pay them. Paramedics can’t begin to administer emergency medical care until your form of payment clears. Police can’t come take your car accident report until they verify your credit card transaction goes through. They can’t investigate your home invasion until you remit payment. The 911 phone system. “The fee for this service is $2.99 per minute for the first minute, and $1.99 per minute thereafter, please enter your 16-digit credit or debit card number followed by the pound sign”. Transportation. I take Route 40 to work sometimes. Sometimes I take 896. Imagine if they set up EZ Pass sensors at every point where a secondary road connected.

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Remedies for the Classroom

Filed in Delaware, National by on November 18, 2015 3 Comments
Remedies for the Classroom

Often times when discussing education in Delaware, the conversation quickly turns to funding and resources which evokes a bristly response from residents and tax payers. We spend a LOT of money on our schools yet stories like the one Diane Ravitch shares here are every day occurrences up and down Delaware and all across the country.

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LIVE from the Red Clay Consolidated School District Special Board Meeting on WEIC

Filed in Delaware by on November 2, 2015 7 Comments
LIVE from the Red Clay Consolidated School District Special Board Meeting on WEIC

Red Clay’s Board of Education has called a special session public meeting this evening.  The lone topic on the agenda is WEIC.

This will be my attempt at live blogging the meeting, start to finish. You can check out the agenda and related documents from Red Clay’s BoardDocs site: http://www.boarddocs.com/de/rccsd/Board.nsf/Public

Meeting is scheduled to begin at 5:30pm.

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Join the Wilmington Parent Advocacy Council for Education

Filed in Delaware by on September 23, 2015 0 Comments

If you live in Wilmington and are a parent, grandparent, foster parent, guardian, primary caregiver, student or just plain concerned community member — this is a newly formed group that is going to advocate for better equity, access and educational opportunity for Wilmington kids. From the brochure:

The PACE Network joins adults, youth and educators together to imagine, create and advocate for equity, access and more effective learning in schools and community places. The Vision is to ensure all Wilmington youth safely attend quality early learning programs, read on level by 3rd grade, excel in reading, math, science, social studies, technology, arts, sports, extracurricular activities and graduate high school prepared for college/career success. The PACE Network aims to shape a unified voice to advocate for Wilmington students. Families and city residents play a critical role in our children’s education. Network membership is open to parents, grandparents, community members, guardians, foster parents, educators in early care, pre-schools, districts and charter schools enrolling Wilmington students.

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Guest Post: Opt-Out Ends The Madness Of High-Stakes Testing

Filed in Delaware by on September 17, 2015 4 Comments
Guest Post: Opt-Out Ends The Madness Of High-Stakes Testing

Kevin from Exceptional Delaware asked if we could share his post. The State Board of Education is having their monthly meeting at 1:00pm today. The Parent Strike press conference will begin prior to the meeting at 12:30pm in front of Legislative Hall in Dover. If any of our readers attend, let us know in the comments.

As a proud advocate of parent opt out, I watched in horror as Governor Markell vetoed legislation created for parents and their fundamental rights.  The News Journal  refers to House Bill 50 as giving parents the right to opt out.  This is wrong.  It’s about honoring a parental right that already exists, an attempt to codify that right and stop schools and the Delaware Department of Education from punishing schools over parent opt-out.

Today, the State Board of Education will have their monthly meeting, and they will discuss Regulation 103.  To give some quick back-story here, Regulation 103 covers school accountability.  Born out of Race To The Top, Delaware won in the first round partly because we already had this regulation in place.  Race To The Top was an abject failure.  But the DOE and the State Board are attempting to further legitimize this program under the guise of the Delaware School Success Framework.  This “school report card” is nothing more than Federal mandate PLUS the many layers of complexity the DOE added to it.  This regulation will put any Title I school in jeopardy if the students don’t perform well on Smarter Balanced.  This week, we will hear about the creation of 10 new so-called “Focus Schools” and 4 “Focus Plus Schools”.  The DOE will attempt to sell this as yet another way of “fixing” these high-need schools.  The truth is, these labels are punitive in nature and are just another step before they become “Priority Schools”.  We all know how that went a year ago.

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A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words: Poverty And The Smarter Balanced Assessment

Filed in Delaware by on September 10, 2015 63 Comments
A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words: Poverty And The Smarter Balanced Assessment

Last week LiberalGeek took a comment I posted about the Smarter Balanced Assessment (SBA) scores and turned it into a graph. Now we have many graphs and charts.

Inside you will find charts of the four districts that serve city of Wilmington students (click on charts inside to enlarge). You will also find a chart of Charter Schools. Pay attention to the trend lines. Some are more obvious than others. Before I continue, let me say this: I do not support the SBA, but since we’ll be using these scores to judge and label students, teachers and schools we need to look at the data. This test will have consequences.

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The Smarter Balanced Assessment Results Are In

Filed in Delaware by on September 3, 2015 22 Comments
The Smarter Balanced Assessment Results Are In

I’m not even sure where to begin. I’ll start here:

Only half of Delaware students are proficient in English and fewer than four in 10 are proficient in math, according to results of the state’s tough new standardized test, the Smarter Balanced Assessment. (link takes you to the results)

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It’s no secret I’m not a fan of standardized tests, mainly because I think we’re using them incorrectly.  We focus on handing out gold stars to schools who pass and slap “failing” labels on schools that don’t. But… maybe this is changing?

“There will certainly be an increase in regards to how the state allocates resources–and that’s really part of the value here–let’s understand which districts and which schools have the greatest struggles, and let’s make sure that we, as a state, are able to allocate resources to those students who need it most.”

Hey, that sounds like equitable funding. Could it be? I’m skeptical tho, since I lived through the Priority School fiasco. “Allocate resources” is usually followed with the threat of charter conversion, privatization and closure. We’ll see. That said, if these tests were actually used to help struggling schools (instead of punishing them) I’d change my tune.

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Where Are The Smarter Balanced Test Results?

Filed in Delaware by on August 3, 2015 6 Comments
Where Are The Smarter Balanced Test Results?

According to Kavips (posted on August 1st):

It has been 7 days now that the Delaware Department has sat on the results of the Smarter Balanced Assessments. Day one was the release by other states of their preliminary data alerting all that the state now had the results…

One must ask why in the “most open and transparent administration in Delaware’s history” (Markell’s state of the state claim) we are still waiting for the preliminary data to be released.

Do we really have the results? The test was given last spring (March and April) so you’d think for a test to have educational impact the results would be available quickly.

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UPDATE: When Bad Math Emerges from the Bunker

Filed in Delaware by on May 24, 2015 6 Comments
UPDATE:  When Bad Math Emerges from the Bunker

The Tuesday Town Hall meeting had a couple of handouts, apparently. I only got one that didn’t make much sense, but there was a packet that I missed that had some additional data not on my handout, ostensibly showing the percent decrease in Class A crimes in the city. One of folks attending this meeting was Clayton Stacey, a Cool Springs resident who was brutalized in a robbery about a month ago. Mr. Stacey got one of these other handouts and he took a good look at the stats presented. And then he checked the math:

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College Remedial Courses And The State Test

Filed in Delaware by on April 16, 2015 17 Comments
College Remedial Courses And The State Test

Even though I know there are unique and deserving circumstances, I can’t help but wonder how kids needing remedial courses are even accepted into college, especially University of Delaware which touts itself as highly selective. Okay, I don’t really wonder. Remedial courses are a cash cow for colleges so I understand why they offer them.  Having parents/students pay for non-credit courses makes achieving a degree take longer than four years which adds another semester, or two, in tuition and room and board fees… Cha-Ching!

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A Modest Proposal

Filed in Delaware by on March 31, 2015 13 Comments
A Modest Proposal

I have been following the charter school/high-stakes testing/Priority Schools debacle for the past few years. My proposal is that we use the same model for another daunting and complex problem: Crime.

We have a major crime problem in Wilmington and other locales around the state. I think we can solve it with a few transformations of the way that we structure our public safety. The key is to use the invisible hand of the market to reduce crime.

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Redrawing School District Lines

Filed in Delaware by on March 24, 2015 12 Comments
Redrawing School District Lines

I have been on record saying that Delaware has too many school districts. 19 public/Vo-Tech school districts and 18 (and counting) charter districts. Each charter school is its own district. To me, that’s simply too much administrative overhead. Which brings us to the plan of reducing the number of districts in the city of Wilmington. Something I support, but know that the devil’s in the details.

When the Wilmington Education Advisory Committee (WEAC) submitted its report to the Governor, one of its suggestions was removing Christina and Colonial School Districts from the city and having the only two districts (Red Clay and Brandywine) serve the city.

As a city resident the idea of fewer school districts sounds wonderful. Having four districts fractured the city’s voice. It was hard to organize and advocate for city kids since school districts would only listen to people who lived in their district about concerns with their district. I do understand that, but it was extremely frustrating. Especially since 99% of our concerns applied to every district. But those district lines sent us off in four different directions, with less people, and were easily ignored. And, make no mistake, we were ignored. The districts’ go-to solution was always to form a committee to study the problem. Where all those committee reports ended up… I have no idea. And it was infuriating to keep bringing up the same concerns year after year only to have district administrators feign surprise and call for a new committee. So, most city residents would be happy with fewer school districts – if it’s handled correctly.

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Reverend Kilroy Delivers A Sunday Sermon

Filed in Delaware by on March 1, 2015 4 Comments
Reverend Kilroy Delivers A Sunday Sermon

Last week my phone started ringing and emails/texts poured in. Almost everyone began with: “Have you heard?” Why no, no I hadn’t heard. Today Kilroy puts up a post addressing what’s going on. Go read the post.

Those who sit at the right and left hand of the Red Clay God (Merv) better take a hard look in the mirror. Though school superintendents make many request for school board approval it is the school board who makes the final approval with no veto power on the super’s part. In the big picture the super’s failures are the board’s failures. [...]

I am dishearten to hear (rumor of course) some board members want to throw Merv overboard midstream (before the end of his contract). Those who think Merv may be the problem are just as much the problem.

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Christina Fights Back – Delay Granted, But The End Game Remains The Same

Filed in Delaware by on January 14, 2015 4 Comments
Christina Fights Back – Delay Granted, But The End Game Remains The Same

So… last night this happened:

The Christina School Board again delayed a final decision on its three Priority Schools on Tuesday night, saying they wanted to give the school communities time to study a new compromise proposal worked out between district and state officials.

[...]

Originally, the state had said the state and district needed to work out an agreement by last week or Gov. Jack Markell would shut the schools down or hand them over to charters or other outside operators. Some board members originally believed they had to vote Tuesday night or that takeover would occur.

But Sen. Bryan Townsend, whose district includes Christina, said he called Markell’s office during the board meeting and the governor’s staff said they were willing to further extend the deadline.

The strike through words are my doing, and it would be refreshing if someone asked how closing these schools would actually work. Until that question is asked and answered I’ll file “closure” under meaningless threat. Unless someone thinks redrawing attendance zones that bus these children out to suburban schools is actually on the table. No? Well, neither do I.

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Wilmington Education Advisory Committee Weighs In On Priority Schools

Filed in Delaware by on January 10, 2015 8 Comments
Wilmington Education Advisory Committee Weighs In On Priority Schools

The letter inside was sent to Governor Markell yesterday. It is asking for the same thing most of us are asking – to slow down the process because more time is needed.

One thing is clear. The more people learn about the Priority Schools Plan the more they ask for more time before implementation.

The time frame is what frustrates so many – it simply cannot be taken seriously. The problems facing these schools are complicated, and ones we’ve ignored for years. Sadly, there is nothing in those MOUs that address, let alone acknowledge, the real issues facing these schools. And longer school days, getting rid of teachers and bringing in new “school leaders” (I hate that phrasing, btw) doesn’t address the very real challenges these children, and the schools serving them, face every day.

I stood on the steps at Warner when the Priority Schools plan was unveiled and, when the announcement was over, I walked away shaking my head. By the time I got home I realized that the main priority of the plan was the consequences of failure; that the only thing carved in stone in the MOU was the loss of our public schools. The time frame all but guaranteed that outcome. Hopefully, this letter will help slow things down.

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Christina’s Plan For “Priority Schools” And Last Night’s Meeting

Filed in Delaware by on January 8, 2015 28 Comments
Christina’s Plan For “Priority Schools” And Last Night’s Meeting

Here’s what happened at last night’s Christina’s School Board meeting:

With two days remaining before a threatened state takeover of its three inner-city schools, the Christina board delayed action on the state’s priority schools plan – but it gave Superintendent Freeman Williams permission to work with education officials on a compromise.

Department spokeswoman Alison May said officials there were willing to extend the deadline for negotiations – at least for the moment. Gov. Jack Markell has said he will close those schools down or hand them over to charters or other outside operators if the district and state can’t agree.

The board’s move comes after the Department of Education rejected draft plans the district had crafted after months of meetings with parents, teachers and others in the schools’ communities.

“At the highest level, the plans propose continuing the work that is already underway at the schools, which we know has not been effective,” May wrote. “The plans propose supplementing the current work in minor ways, which we do not believe will be transformative for students.”

Before continuing, let’s break this down. First, Gov. Markell will not close these schools down, so he should probably drop that bit of nonsense. Charter and privatization have always been the end game for these Priority Schools (It’s actually more than the end game, it’s the entire point of this), so let’s stop pretending that closure is on the table.  It isn’t… unless someone wants to tell me where the children attending the closed schools would go? And while the MOU doesn’t have much to say about the children attending these schools, they do, in fact, actually exist.

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Please Sign The Petition – Let’s Make Priority Schools A Real PRIORITY

Filed in Delaware by on December 23, 2014 15 Comments
Please Sign The Petition – Let’s Make Priority Schools A Real PRIORITY

Via Exceptional Delaware:

A group of like-minded individuals who are against the priority schools initiative has created an iPetition to give to Governor Markell, Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy and the Delaware Department of Education.  Please take a minute or two during the busy holiday season and make a difference!  The timing is crucial on this petition.

If you agree… please sign the petition then help spread the word by sharing the petition with your friends on Facebook, Twitter, email, etc..

I’m counting on my DL community – you guys haven’t let me down before.  Let’s knock this out of the park! Come inside for the Petition Link.

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Red Clay’s Latest Idea Will Create More Hardship For City Parents, Or… Red Clay Demonstrates, once again, how Clueless They Are

Filed in Delaware by on December 14, 2014 7 Comments
Red Clay’s Latest Idea Will Create More Hardship For City Parents, Or… Red Clay Demonstrates, once again, how Clueless They Are

I had heard whispers about this for months.  Kilroy spells it out: Red Clay’s (RCCD) plan for two of its Priority Schools is to turn one (Shortlidge) into a K – 2 and the other one (Warner) into a 3 – 5 school.  And while I’m no fan of the Neighborhood Schools Act (NSA), Kilroy points out that this move violates the NSA.

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Attendance Zone Decision for Cooke Elementary School Results In A Protest

Filed in Delaware by on November 10, 2014 98 Comments
Attendance Zone Decision for Cooke Elementary School Results In A Protest

An ipetition landed in my email.  Here’s what it says:

Protest of Red Clay School Board’s Attendance Zone Decision for Cooke Elementary School

We demand that the Red Clay Consolidated School District School Board reverse their October 15 decision to deviate from the Attendance Zone feeder pattern that had been presented by the Attendance Zone Committee and accepted by the community. This last-minute decision undermined six months of work by the Attendance Zone Committee and did not give the community an opportunity to voice concerns. The students of Lancaster Court Apartments will not benefit from this decision, and the decision contradicts the Neighborhood Schools Act. The Board’s action was not ethical and the decision is not acceptable.

So… I made some calls to try and figure out what happened.  I’m piecing this together from various conversations, so if anyone has additional insight please let me know.  Here’s what I heard….

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What Creeping Sharia Law Looks Like

Filed in Delaware by on October 12, 2014 32 Comments
What Creeping Sharia Law Looks Like

And this is right here in Millsboro and the Indian River School District, where one Shaun Fink is trying to impose his religious bigotries (beliefs masquerading as bigotry) on the high school students in the District. You can read the details of Mr. Fink’s attempt to impose this atrocious bit of Christian Sharia law in this NJ article. Mr. Fink is hiding behind his so-called Christianity to try to demonize and ostracize LGBT people, objecting to the teaching of differences in sexual orientation as against his beliefs. Unfortunately, Mr. Fink still thinks he is living in the last century where not only could you get away with that kind of bigotry, but there was little price to be paid for it. In this century, this kind of bigotry is simply not a survial skill or a leadership skill — two things you want your kids to have. An official demonization of LGBT people — objecting to making them normal (as if they aren’t already) not only does not serve these kids, but also tries to use the government to impose your bigotry on others. Even more, what Mr. Fink knows is that kids are more tolerant of differences among them, including LGBT differences. Trying to curb a basic course on sexuality to impart Mr. Fink’s message that LGBT people are not “normal” is about him imposing his beliefs on these kids — because he knows that they don’t prioritize these differences. And trying to control other people — their behavior and their beliefs is what Sharia Law is all about, right?

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