Daily Archives: January 10, 2010

John Dickinson S.T.E.M. Academy

At last weeks Red Clay Board’s “Workshop”  the principal of John Dickinson High School gave a prevention on a plan to turn his school around. Check out the presentation for yourself.

John Dickinson High School had the WORST high school dropout rate in the State of Delaware last year at 11%. A few weeks ago I had a post a bit critical questioning how the high school with the worst high school dropout rate in the state could possibly have the Assistant Principal of the Year.  I had the post up for about 5 minutes and deleted it because I didn’t feel it was fair of me to tie whatever success the AP had to Dickinson’s years of decline (yea I do have a heart from time to time).  Do read the presentation.

Once the presentation started I am like shit, here we go with another all choice Red Clay  magnet school reassigning feeder students to another high school. But one of the first words that came out of the principal’s mouth was , “this is not a magnet school.”

Over the years I witness many Red Clay presentation and not only the were some of Powerpoint presentation BS and so were some of the verbal presentation. But  I can tell you this , principal Murphy’s presentation was fill with sincere compassion and committment to this plan. From the comments made by the board I am certain this plan for Dickinson wasn’t hatched by the board. This man and his AP are very energized and committed to this turn around.

I think this S.T.E.M plan has hope and promise but needs a lot of staff and community support. Just as the new Conrad needed time to make it’s programing work so will Dickinson. The board had some questions regarding cost of resource needs and some internal building renovation. I was think the same but Merv pointed out there are resources and partnerships in the community. When I saw STEM in this presentation I though it was assoicated with Bill Gates STEM project. Though John Dickinson S.T.E.M has some of the same components  it doesn’t forget the needs of all students especially the special ed kids.

The new John Dickinson has something for everybody but more important the mission is to make John Dickinson a shinning start for the community and the district.

I know John Dickinson from back in the late 60’s and 70’s and Dickinson used to be a one of the most desirable high schools in the state. Some blame force busing for it’s down fall but I feel some of the school board agendas with charter schools and magnet schools left Dickinson to rot! enrollment is down but let’s not blame it all on the so-called bad reputation because charter schools and magnet schools has taken a toll on Dickinson. It kind of hard to compete with schools that school boards pump mega bucks into to make successful and have admission standards that all students may not pass. The bottom line is John Dickinson and Mckean have become the redheaded stepchild of Red Clay and fell into a vacuum caused by the expansion of charter and magnet schools.

One part of Dickinson need plan is to require students to stay after school to complete assignments the family dog ate. The staff will call parents to them know their child will be staying after school the following day and if they are a bus rider transportation  will be provided. Also, the after school police will be watching for escapees. So not only Dickinson is growing in innovation it is growing in balls to step up and hold students accountable.

Funding is going to be a big issue and as we know bucks are tight. Dam shame Red Clay pissed away $300,000.00 to Teach for America and millions for the Tower of Power in Linden Park. Merv is getting to be the big man in town so it’s up to him to beg for dollars and partnership. Last time I check in with God, Merv was a bit low on tickets to pass through the pearlygates.

I wouldn’t say this community owes Dickinson and McKean but the district does after years of neglect. The folks at Dickinson rather spend time and energy looking and moving forward.  So knowing the history of Red Clay and John Dickinson I just wanted to add my two cents.

“Reverse RTTT” WTF

RTTT: Revenge Of The States

What if states and districts returned the favor and came up with their own “reverse” version of the Race To The Top? Fair’s fair.  The USDE has been wagging its finger in state and district faces for months now. 

A “reverse” RTTT could include closing loopholes that let states lower standards (or let districts exclude low-scoring students), better coordination between IDEA and NCLB, sending Title I money to states and districts in a more equitable, targeted way, improving the distribution of effective teachers by enforcing the comparability provision, and rating and defunding ineffective ed school programs. And that’s just a start.  Better early childhood education would be nice (good luck with the Head Start mafia, BTW).  Higher reimbursement for NAEP participation.A limit on district setasides.

You may have better ideas.  The main point is that, for every firewall and charter cap out there in the states, there’s something under the direct control of the USDE and Congress that’s just as bad if not worse.

Does anybody really know what the federal oversights on RTTT are or will the oversights and penalties come after the state  grants announcments in April?

Anaheim with 19,300 students says no to RTTT MOU

Anaheim City School District Rejects Race To The Top Mandates 1 day ago – After a detailed staff presentation on RTTT and thoughtful Board discussion, a motion to submit the state-required MOU signifying the District’s intent to

This fact created many “unknowns” as to what the Board was being asked to commit to and, because the funds are one-time dollars, the Board expressed deep concerns regarding mandated, ongoing costs. While submitting an MOU would have resulted in modest funding, the RTTT requires Districts to agree to comply with all tenets of RTTT including implementing merit pay, subscribing to a narrow and restrictive set of approaches to improving low-performing schools, and the possibility of having to “repay” grant funding if all benchmarks were not achieved.

Anaheim City School District is a diverse family of 24 schools, serving 19,300 K-6 students in a dynamic, standards-based learning community. As one of the largest elementary school districts in California, ACSD offers a broad range of programs and learning opportunities.

So if California receives RTTT funding Anaheim doesnt receive funding but must follow the same RTTT rules as all California schools? Delaware DOE tells Red Clay School District sign or the rule apply anyway

Either Anaheim is stupid or Red Clay was rolled under a bus ! 

Markell to cut state education budget

With a 300 million dollar gap in next year’s state budget Delaware governor Jack Markell will once again cut spending and all state levels including public education.

Education represents one-third the state’s budget putting education at about 1.1 billion dollars. Markell is desperate to get his hands on Race to The Top federal grant funding that requires school districts to sign contracts in blood. 72 million dollars of federal RTTT grant could come Delaware’s way at 36 million per year over the two-year RTTT grant life.  Delaware DOE retains 50% of RTTT funds and the other 50% goes directly to the school districts and charter schools.

Each participating school districts and charter school must submit a Framework  on how they will achieve the federal goals associated with RTTT. Delaware DOE claims they will use “their” 50% of the funds to further assist the school districts and charter schools to meet the goals! Yea and if you believe that, I have George Washington’s left nut in a mason jar.

I am going to put it bluntly, Delaware has lost all integrity when it comes to public school. We have superintendents playing politics behind their school boards backs. Think about it, how can a district superintendent claim they know as little about the RTTT MOU as their board but yet encouraged the board to sign it. Don’t get me wrong, I still support the board members who voted for and against the MOU. But I am beginning to think Jack Markell handed the gun (political) to Delaware DOE who put the bullet in it and in they inturn handed the gun to the district superintendents and Charter chiefs to aim at their boards heads.

Markell  is doing some basic standard business moves such as consolidation of departments, position and reducing the state work force by attrition. He did make a bold move to reduce state workers pay by 8% but with the help of state republicans his plan fell on its face. However, Jack Markell’s obession and grip on Delaware public education keeps he from being an effective CEO of Delaware. What’s really sad is Jack Markell wants to reform public education at the same time he minipualtes funding. 

When was the last time the state of Delaware increased the state budget for public education K-12? Where is state funding for Choice School law, Neighborhood Schools  law, class size cap law and why didn’t the state fully fund full-day kindergarten ? The reason Jack Markell refusing to support legislation requiring funding sources be identified in proposed education is because it would prevent him from passing the buck on to the local taxpayers.

The way the budget shortfall is tracking Markell will ask Delaware public education k-12 to take about a 60 million dollar hit. RTTT is meant to be a supplemental program reforming public education the same way Title 1 was to. However, Like Title 1 , RTTT will be nothing more than a means to supplant public education in Delaware. The DOE reps who came to Red Clay’s board meeting boasted about how they have 5 years to use the two-year RTTT funding.  RTTT represents just one more financial tool Markell can use to shuffle the numbers. However at the end of the day it will be the districts coming with hat in hand seeking more funding via referendums to cover Markell’s budget cuts.