Daily Archives: May 9, 2013

Breaking! Appo’s referendum approved by the voters

Referendum to increase taxes for school purposes

Polling Place

For the tax increase

Against the tax increase

Total

4,637

3,023

Now let’s see of Appo’s super and board are brave enough to record the public session of their board meetings!

Why doesn’t Rodel support recording school board meetings ?

Why Is the CEO and President of the Rodel Foundation of Delaware Against Recording Public School Board Meetings?By Children and Educators First

Ambled over to “the foundation’s” website today.

Apparently “Transparency” is not one of the keys to a world-class education…


“The foundation focuses on improving public policy, supporting best practices, and engaging the public. In collaboration with public, private and civic leaders throughout Delaware, Rodel is working to implement Vision 2015, Delaware’s acclaimed plan for world-class schools.”

Hey, Herdman, engage the public, and support an emerging best practice – recording school board meetings to increase transparency and accessibility. 

Good point Liz! And though they didn’t come out with a position either way the fact remains until they do it can be construe they don’t support recording school board meetings.

More NJ’s school board candidate survey results re: Red Clay

Bryan Tracy

Candidate for the Red Clay Dist. A seat

1.What is the most important issue facing your district and how would you address it?

I believe the most important issue facing Red Clay is equitable education for all students. Red Clay is characterized by a continuum of demographics, socio-economic statuses, and education achievement abilities. Consequently, our schools must be able to accommodate to highest needs students, special needs students, gifted students, and English Language Learners. I will speak briefly on how, from a school board position, I propose to address three of these populations. 

Election district A has a large population of minority, high needs students, which need the entire Red Clay community to support them. Race to the Top (RTTT), as I detail in a response to another question, provides significant resources, particularly through Partnership Zones. However, many of the efforts have been delayed in implementation, and the ability to sustain them beyond RTTT funding is in serious question. Accordingly, I will act on the board to make sure successful programs continue to be financially supported. Additionally, I believe our community of non-profits need to be better engaged through our schools in order to provide “take-home” resources to all high needs students (not just election district A). Red Clay employees cannot solve all challenges in student households, but numerous service organizations do provide valuable, community based activities and solutions. We must map them and connect them at a high level. Lastly, we need to maintain a focus for our high needs schools on increasing teacher retention, decreasing classroom size, and assisting all students through the choice problem. I have detailed more suggestions to this end on my Facebook page.

Secondly, Red Clay can improve upon challenging our highest achieving students. I have spent considerable time doing exactly this by reinforcing classroom curriculum with job shadowing, science fair assistance, and helping create a program that stimulates high level science discussions with STEM gifted students. From a board position, I will support initiatives that restore and boost Talented And Gifted (TAG) programs in many if not all Red Clay schools. I believe elementary schools are essential to focus on initially since they lay the foundation of student academic interest.

Lastly, Red Clay is adjusting to a full inclusion system for special education students. Growing up in a household with a disabled sister heightens my awareness of the challenges facing teachers, administrators, and other Red Clay staff. Moreover, I’ve lived through the concerns of parents. As a school board member, I will monitor whether enough paraprofessionals and special education certified teachers are available, and I will push for more professional development that impacts our special needs students.

2. Have charter schools improved public education in the state? Why or why not?

Yes, I believe several charter schools have improved public education in Delaware, and I do consider Charter School of Wilmington and Delaware Military Academy to be assets to Red Clay. HOWEVER, I do not believe charter schools have improved public education for all students in Delaware. In my opinion, conversation around charter schools needs to be shifted from “charter versus traditional public schools,” to “piloting programs at charters for the benefit of all public schools.” Moreover, I believe charter schools should compliment and support our traditional public schools, not replace them. 

The concept in my mind for Red Clay is simple. Why can’t we allow our existing charter schools pilot new methods of pedagogy, classroom management, parental involvement, community involvement, financial support, etc., and then duplicate (when applicable) the successful programs in our traditional public schools? Why can’t charter and traditional public schools work together to serve a mutual benefit to ALL students in Delaware? I believe they can and genuinely want to. 
However, I believe a barrier to accomplishing this is a lack of trust and communication. Admittedly, consensus and trust building is difficult, which is why I took it upon myself this past summer to begin these conversations with several leaders in traditional public schools, Red Clay charter schools and non-profit organizations that assist in education policy development. 

As a School Board member, I will coalition build between all Red Clay Schools (traditional and charter) in efforts to realize the best education outcomes for all students.

3. Is Race to the Top improving Delaware schools? Why or why not?

Keeping within the theme of education, I would give Race To The Top (RTTT) a mark of C- in regards to improving Delaware schools. From what I’ve learned from teachers, administrators and state agencies, RTTT has had task-based success, albeit with implementation challenges and delays. However, the verdict is still out on whether or not the overarching goals will be accomplished before funds run out. Now the question is, can we financially sustain initiatives that are working? 

As a brief background, in the late spring of 2010, Delaware was awarded $119 million of RTTT funds, which would be used over a four year time period to strengthen education standards and assessment, support/train more quality educators, enhance data systems that measure student performance, and improve low performing schools. 

Again, RTTT has accomplished many defined tasks, such as improving access to and use of state’s longitudinal data system, tying educator evaluations to student growth, and offering AP institutes that train teachers in AP course instruction. However, the state is still waiting to determine if it can successfully tie all tasks together to accomplish the overarching goals such as raising graduation rates, having all students meet state testing standards, and closing the achievement gap by 50% by 2014-15. 

Several leading indicators suggest Delaware is behind in goals. For example, as of February 2013, a federal report showed that the achievement gap on average has only decreased 10 – 15%. Organizations responsible for implementation openly admit that several RTTT initiatives have been difficult and delayed. Thus, there is hope that results will accelerate as everything goes into action. However, with only one more year of funding left, some critics would question if time were running out. 

The biggest concern in my mind is whether Red Clay will be able to financially sustain the programs and initiatives that recently have been working? Considerable dollars have been dedicated to many of our highest needs schools, labeled as Partnership Zones (PZs). I believe PZs are vital to the success of our city schools, and in my opinion successful programs should be sustained till our goals are realized, even if that means 3 – 5 years from now. I want to see Warner’s pre-K program sustained and expanded upon. I want to see Lewis’s immersion program flourish, and I want to see Marbrook serve the needs of their large ELL population. 

I personally have been the recipient and manager of millions of dollars of federal grant money. Thus, speaking from an experienced perspective, I believe we should change the conversation around RTTT from is/was it a success, to how do we continue to financially sustain the programs that are working?

4. Do you support the idea of consolidating the number of school districts serving Wilmington?

At this time, I would not support an initiative to consolidate school districts serving Wilmington largely due to concerns of the available tax base to finance it. However, I am not opposed to the concept, and would certainly engage in conversations with all other school districts involved (i.e., Brandywine, Colonial and Christina), the City of Wilmington, community and faith based organizations in Wilmington, and the Department of Education. I am true to in my word in that I have no conflicts against any organization or individual. Accordingly, if a proposal is made that will benefit our city student population and is sustainable, why not? The focus is on our students. 

Meantime, I will work diligently to serve the needs of Red Clay’s city student population. I’ve already proposed some actions I could do through the school board. However, regardless of the election outcome, I will continue to move beyond advocacy, and implement strategies that directly address education inequity in Red Clay.

Candidate statement:

Voters should elect me if and only if they wish to break free from the status quo and move beyond conversation to action. I am an entrepreneur, educator and public servant who creates solutions to difficult problems through rational thinking, coalition building, and investment by all stakeholders. I have lived and breathed a diversity of public education systems from across the United States (e.g., Texas, DC, Seattle, South & North Carolina, Chicago, New Orleans and now Delaware). I serve in leadership roles in many walks of life. I have had the fortune of personally interacting with numerous organizations involved in public education across the state of Delaware. Lastly, my wife is a six year, National Board Certified teacher in Red Clay (grades 6 – 12), who keeps me fully apprised of the positive initiatives moving forward and remaining issues facing Red Clay teachers and staff. 

If elected, I will bring these talents and set of life experiences to Red Clay governance, and use them to help tackle our district’s education, financial and community engagement issues over the next five years. Also, and as a foreword to my responses below, I believe Red Clay School District has a lot of good things going on. It is not all bad. With diverse skill sets, broad experience, and people of action on the board, we can push Red Clay from good to great. I genuinely believe that.

Adriana Bohm

Candidate for the Red Clay Dist. A seat

1. What is the most important issue facing your district and how would you address it?

In short, too many of our schools in Red Clay are struggling because of the needs of so many of our students and families. We have schools in Red Clay where more than 80% of the students are on free and reduced lunch. However, from a policy perspective, we continue to treat so many of these schools the same way as their more affluent counterparts. 

Sure, there’s Title I funding for most of these high-needs schools, but those resources don’t fully or adequately address everything that goes on in these schools. We need to be absolutely focused on these schools to make sure they’re receiving the supports they need. 

Some of our neediest students are also some of our most gifted students. We need to see sustainable funding for a gifted and talented program for all students in Red Clay. Ten years ago, Red Clay had a robust talented and gifted program. I would like to see that restored in all of our schools because this is an excellent way to make our students more competitive domestically as well as internationally.

2. Have charter schools improved public education in the state? Why or why not?

While charter schools have brought options that some parents have sought and responded positively to, the answer of whether charters have improved education in Delaware is not simply “Yes” or “No.” Some charter schools have seen great successes, while others have challenges similar to some of our highest-needs public schools. If we want to see an improvement in public education overall, we need to incorporate some of the successes of charter schools into the traditional public schools.

3. Is Race to the Top improving Delaware schools? Why or why not?

Several years ago, I would have said Delaware’s winning of the Race to the Top grant was a great thing. However, now that we are three years into this Federal grant — and with only one year left until it expires — I can report mixed results from its implementation in Delaware. While I feel there has been a strong emphasis placed on professional development for staff and heightened resources for schools designated as “”Partnership Zone”” and “”Focus”” schools, the reports I’m getting from educators throughout Red Clay is that RttT funds barely made their way into their classrooms, where they could have affected real change. Our number one resources in public education are our educators — teachers, paraprofessionals, food service workers, bus drivers, and custodial workers. For the most part, we have yet to realize a tangible benefit for our students stemming from RttT. 

Overall, though, I feel we will face the same challenges after RttT as we did before it. We are still left with schools that are dramatically under-resourced and understaffed, something that RttT never addressed — and perhaps wasn’t supposed to. Whether or not I’m elected, we need to spearhead comprehensive discussions with parents, educators, school board members, and legislators to discuss much needed systemic change in school funding. We need funding coming into our schools that is being used wisely and is 100% sustainable for years to come.

4. Do you support the idea of consolidating the number of school districts serving Wilmington?

It’s clear we’ve got some big issues in the way we service our students in the city of Wilmington, particularly those at the middle and high school levels. I have deep concerns with how we bus our city students to middle and high schools so far from their homes. If the original intent of the Neighborhood Schools Act was to see to it that our kids stay as close to home as possible, then why do so many get bussed out to schools that can take up to an hour to get to? 

At this point, I’m neither for nor against consolidating the four school districts serving Wilmington. I do believe, though, it’s now time to have some very real discussions about the way our children in Wilmington are educated. Mayor Dennis Williams and County Executive Tom Gordon have asked some good questions and perhaps their actions may get the ball rolling, but we will need all four districts — Brandywine, Christina, Colonial, and Red Clay — at the table to tackle this very complex issue. And I hope to be there in either an elected or unelected capacity.

Candidate statement:

Voters should elect me because I’ve been a community education activist for years, with a proven track record of supporting increased community and parental input. I am the Advocacy Chair for the PTA at Highlands and I — along with many other parents and educators — helped get some great extracurricular programs in place. We brought more Talented and Gifted, Odyssey of the Mind, Lego League, and a school garden to Highlands. Whether elected or not, I hope to continue this goal of increasing programming at some of our highest-needs schools in the District. 

I regularly attend many District-level meetings to stay in-the-know about what’s going on in Red Clay. As a member of the Parent’s Superintendent Council, I stay in touch with much of District administration to make sure they and our schools are meeting the needs of our diverse population of students. 

As your school board member, I will continue to advocate for all students, especially those from high-poverty families, and those students with special needs. Special needs spans quite a spectrum. That includes students who are both academically deficient and those students who are excelling. We need to make sure we’re servicing all students equitably.

Is Red Clay’s Warner Elementary heading for a charter conversion?

Word on the street is Warner’s principal heading for a review and 12 teachers asking for transfers. I’ve said this before and I still believe it, Warner will be the first traditional public school to be converted lock, stock and barrel to a charter school. Is Red Clay lacking the capacity to get it right for our city schools?

Letters to the editor rolling in re: school board races

Tracy’s expertise will serve Red Clay well News Journal Letters to the Editor May 8, 2013 10:49 PM

I am writing to support Bryan Tracy’s candidacy for the Red Clay School Board. Given the complexity of education’s “alphabet” soup of testing, accountability and curriculum paths (DCAS, DPAS, CTE, STEM, etc.), he is exactly what we are trying to create: knowledgeable, committed scientists and entrepreneurs.

I am a Red Clay teacher and supporter of Tracy’s interest to serve on the Red Clay School Board. I am the Science Department Chair, Biotechnology & Biomedical pathway coordinator and the Career & Technical Education lead at Conrad Schools of Science. I have been a close friend and colleague of Tracy’s for the past four years.

Tracy is not a K-12 teacher; he is my professional partner. He has gone above and beyond to assist our schools in supplementing instruction, and providing extramural resources that reinforce Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics curriculum. I have seen this personally at Conrad through his hosting of five Conrad job shadow students. I’ve witnessed it through Tracy’s drive in creating the STEM Pathways pilot program, his service on the Biotech Industrial Advisory Council, and his participation in district and statewide events like Science for all Delawareans, Delaware BioGENEius Science Fair, and guest speaking at schools across the state.

Bryan Tracy is the type of Delaware (CTE-STEM) professional I am tasked to help create. Please join me in supporting a Red Clay supporter. Vote for Bryan Tracy Tuesday for Red Clay School Board.

Derek Wilberg

Wilmington

Minnehan is best bet for Christina’s school board

On next Tuesday, the Christina School District will vote to add a new member to their board. I am casting my vote for Harrie Ellen Minnehan. She is now retired, but I knew her as an excellent, caring teacher when my son was in her fifth-grade class at Bancroft School.

Harrie Ellen devoted her Christina teaching career to the students of Wilmington, always putting them first. We need a fresh face on the board who has the kind of experience, commitment, passion and understanding about kids and schools that she has. Join me in voting for Harrie Ellen Minnehan on May 14.

Linda Schupp

Newark