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Daily Archives: January 5, 2010
As a handful of you know, the United States Congress is preparing hearings for authorization of NCLB aka ESEA and Arne Duncan is preparing to give his yearend report to congress.
Race to The Top funding will only be going to 12-15 states however nearly all states are applying and submitting their MOUs. Arne Duncan will take all those MOUs even the ones from states that didn’t win the competition and hold them up to congress as proof the states are on board with the radical changes prescribed within Race to The Top.
First I want to communicate that a response by Red Clay’s super there will be public comment time at this “workshop” and that Delaware DOE representative will be on hand to answer questions.
RTTT is a complicated reform goal with in my opinion many political fibers woven in and the rush to MOU is about the money not the reform goals. There should have been public dialogue aka workshops long before the same night as a vote on RTTT /MOU. However, whatever deal our professionals have made was not transparent. I wonder if the state not the local taxpayers will foot the legal bill when dissatisfied teachers and other educators are asked to leave because of poor performance based on student assessment or evaluations?
So anyhow here is the E-mail I sent. I had to piecemeal the E-mail out in multiple sends because perhaps too many CC: Couldn’t send to Whitehouse because of a limit on 2500 characters, But I am sure the fed’s troll will be checking.
Thank you for your concern. We have posted on the website a public comment period. Also, DOE representatives will be present to answer questions.
Sent from my Windows Mobile phone
Subject: Red Clay RTT / MOU
Dear Jack Buckley Board President Red Clay Consolidated School District:
Jack, I addressed this E-mail to you and copied others in including U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. Though you are just one board member and share equal authority your title as board presidents gives you this honor. Therefore, the contents aren’t directed at you buy more so the board, others including Mr. Duncan. My concerns are with board procedures and community partnership not individual board members. I did include messages for Mr. Duncan within the E-mail.
In review of Red Clay’s agenda for January 06, 2010 “Work Shop” meeting addressing RTTT / MOU it appears there will be no public comment segment. I have no doubt the board will make an announcement at the beginning of the “Work Shop” that public comments will be welcome. Also, the “Work Shop” title of this “Special Meeting” sends a message that it’s a work Shop to learn and study the issues at hand. I’ve look at the school board policy and procedure manual, Section 2004 and cannot locate “Work Shop” but do see “Special Meeting” and in my opinion the board is holding a “Special Meeting” with an action items listed. We all know action item means vote. However, the board policies indicate. Per Section 2004 re: Special Meeting, “The same requirement for regularly schedule public meetings shall apply to special meetings.” Jack, it’s been a long tradition of Red Clay to promote shared decision-making with the public and that foundation of the board waiting at least one meet after presentation before making a vote. It appears the board will be voting on RTTT / MOU after the same night presentation. I find the concerns with voting during a “Work Shop” which isn’t described in the board’s policy and procedure manual puts to question any board vote. One could interpret the board holding a “Work Shop” which many may believe meaning is more of a study session as a cover to make a board vote that discourages public attendance. Per the board policy and procedure manual there are two types of meetings, “Regular” and “Special” and the board may vote at only those meetings. The board can’t even vote in Executive Session as we know those votes are covered in the public section of board meetings. I am respectfully requesting that no board vote be made at this “Work Shop” meeting and any vote be carried forward to the next “Regular” board meeting or certainly a “Special Meeting” if the board calls for it.
In respects to Race to The Top, I’ll leave the individual board vote up to each member but I must urge each board member to remind themselves that their first and foremost responsibility is to the students of Red Clay not promote a national agenda to reform public education unless there is a direct benefit to Red Clay students. At this point Race to The Top is a concept without supporting research and data to evaluate effectiveness and long term impact including financial cost. Race to The Top funding comes from the stimulus package the President Obama signed into law with the support of the United State Congress. The purpose was to save or create jobs. However, it appear the United States Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has a personal agenda to reform public education nationally using Race to The Top funding as seed money and does not offer long-term financial support beyond the two-year RTTT funding source.
Arne Duncan touts RTTT as a “competition” for funding at a time many governors are struggling to keep current pace with state budgets. Only 12-15 states will receive RTTT funding even though nearly all states will apply after signing the MOU. I have no doubt Arne Duncan will sell the MOU to congress as a basis the states are willing and partners in his radical RTTT plan to use the MOUs as foundation for the reauthorization of NCLB to his liking. I hear Mr. Duncan’s passion however, what I hear in the background a partnership between Mr. Duncan and educational reformist bent on privatizing public education leaving local school board as nothing more than a symbolic body of people without real power.
Arne Duncan may know Chicago but he doesn’t know Delaware. Delaware Governor Markell has taken no action to call for the repeal of the wavier given school district who cannot meet the class size cap law. The wavier was put in place because the law was a state unfunded mandate putting great burden on school board to comply. Governor Markell stands by and takes no action against Delaware School Choice law that provides no transportation funding that puts children of high poverty funding at a disadvantage. Governor Markell who made a comment during his campaign suggesting some charter schools are skimming students but yet fails to call for changes in the law that eliminate charter school admission that can exclude students based on achievement and intelligence. If charter schools are truly public than no child should be denied based of lack of academic performance. I support the concept of charter schools but I first support fair and equitable distribution of education and Delaware charter school law is flawed. Also, I support organized labor however, the Delaware Charter School Law that states, a traditional public school can only convert to a charter school unless, over 50% of parents within “and” over 50% of teachers within vote in favor of conversion is flawed. Mr. Duncan now tell me who will win that war? Delaware law needs to be change to converting existing public schools less than commendable base on the needs of students and parents. The playing field between Delaware charter schools and traditional schools are flaw.
Delaware has struggle for years with student achievement and that struggle was compounded by DSTP, a test to measure student achievement to better assess academic needs which was twisted into an accountability piece to appease the local business round table. After ten years of failure with DSTP Delaware is moving forward towards a student test based on the growth model that offers timely intervention for our students and foundation to offer better intervention for our teachers and to effectively identify educators who may be in the wrong profession. However, Delaware legislators have not provided allocations to address what will be an historic call for intervention for students from K-12. The growth model isn’t just a test but is the means to effectively indentify students’ needs.
Delaware is on the right track to address its educational needs and I am afraid that school boards across this state will blindly sign on to Race to The Top MOU is setting the stage for backwards progress.
Jack, I don’t need to tell about my involvement in the education issues and my boldness to speak out. I’ve worked with the system, compromised with the system and challenged the system.
I have deep concerns that RTTT is the means to give more federal control of local schools and decision-making and the race to the MOU is a dangerous direction. In the past I and others were encourage by the Red Clay School Board to contact elected officials on certain concerns because the board hands were politically tied. Yet, the board may be agreeing to the MOU that may not only tie their hands but tape their mouths.
Mr. Duncan I don’t enjoy being so harsh on you and I know you have passion however, Delaware is the so-called first state in the union and many young Delawareans gave their lives and service to free Delaware from a central government. If the economical times of Delaware were better our governor wouldn’t be jumping at the RTTT bait so quickly. The community of Red Clay School District bailed the district out after their financial downfall and we do hold them accountable. Because the board held no one personally accountable for the financial meltdown the community has purged board members one by one. In retrospect, it’s sad to see people who in their minds and souls felt they were doing a good job be ousted. However, the demands for accountability in Red Clay are high. The federal government wants more control and perhaps greater control than our school board but only provides Red Clay with about 6-8% federal funding that currently does come with stings. I feel the federal government wanting more control beyond federal funded programs is unwarranted and illegal.
Sadly, if our state government including its legislators doesn’t have the fortitude to effectively address the deficiencies in our public schools and wants to hand the keys to our state to the federal government I say the sacrifices of those who gave long ago to secure our independence are for nothing. Our children are our future and allowing our federal government to be their foster-parents at a time our federal government can’t operate effectively and efficiently is unjust.