Daily Archives: April 10, 2014

Professor Steve Newton’s education reform historical and in the now is refreshing

Put an end to harmful high-stakes student testing Steve Newton 3:52 p.m. EDT April 9, 2014 /News Journal 

Nearly two decades of high-stakes testing have left Delaware’s public schools with a legacy of failure.

I co-chaired the Governor’s Social Studies Curriculum Frameworks Commission from 1992-95. Our commission included teachers, parents, students, administrators, academics and business partners. All commissions held public meetings, engaging in deliberations to create “world class standards” in English, math, science and social studies. We did our job well enough that many of those standards remain in place today.

Those standards were designed to be tested via “performance assessment,” but the General Assembly thought individualized testing cost too much. Instead, they approved the DSTP, which lacked reliability and validity; failed to assess all the standards; and was compromised by backroom politics from Day One. DSTP was high-stakes: students who failed could not be promoted to the next grade without summer school and retaking the test.

As the first legislators’ and donors’ kids failed, student accountability evaporated.

Under No Child Left Behind, consequences migrated to the schools, rated via a complex system of “cells” that often left Annual Yearly Progress for each building determined by test scores of a handful of students. One elementary school repeatedly failed AYP due to the scores of profoundly handicapped children who never entered the building, but lived in that feeder pattern. School districts employed full-time managers to challenge attendance patterns and force failing scores to be credited to other districts.

When the U.S. Department of Education announced waivers to exit this insane system, Delaware got in line.

Meanwhile, DCAS replaced DSTP, and SBA is now replacing DCAS. If you don’t comprehend the acronyms, don’t worry: They’ll change again.

Race to the Top brought Delaware $119 million for data analysis, teacher learning communities, Common Core, and testing computers. (Simultaneously, the General Assembly cut reimbursements for transporting homeless children to school.)

Accountability in high-stakes testing now descended on teachers.

State bureaucrats generated strict, test-based teacher accountability regimes, while legislators enacted unprecedented regulations for teacher preparation programs in our universities.

None of this actually improved public education, which Gov. Jack Markell tacitly admitted in his State of the State Address: “Only 20 percent of our kids graduate from high school ready for college or a career.”

Content standards and standardized tests have their place in education, but high-stakes testing has proven not merely ineffective, but also potentially harmful.

Pursuing the idea that moving the consequence to this group, or changing to that test will abruptly erase the socio-economic disparities dogging public education has wasted critical resources. In Delaware alone, hundreds of millions in taxpayer dollars and tens of thousands of teacher preparation hours have not been spent placing great programs at inner-city schools, providing full funding for special needs students, or turning lose the individual creativity of classroom teachers. Resources devoted to music, the arts, the humanities, physical education, and special needs have declined.

Here’s a modest plan for returning to sanity:

First, exempt special needs students on IEPs from standardized testing that often traumatizes them and rarely returns valuable data.

Second, accept the unanimous recommendation from teacher representatives in the Delaware State Education Association and legislate a parental “opt-out” from standardized testing.

Third, revisit the adoption of Common Core. Research indicates that content standards should not be so extensive that they become a de facto curriculum. The breadth of Common Core – all arguments about quality placed to the side – is too wide to leave room for instructional depth or teacher creativity. We need a Delaware process, driven by your child’s teachers and not political/corporate reformers, to re-examine our academic standards.

Finally, cap testing costs to direct resources back into the classroom. When our poorest schools have access to the high-quality programs like Gifted & Talented or Odyssey of the Mind that our suburban schools boast, we can consider new testing expenditures, not before.

The money already invested in the high-stakes testing mania is irrevocably lost. Parents, teachers and voters must now unite to insure that more good money does not follow the bad.

Send resources into our classrooms, not new testing computers.

Steve Newton is a professor of history and political science at Delaware State University and the Libertarian candidate for State Representative in the 22nd District.

Shame on you Rep Mike Ramone! Supporting H.B.#299 Alcoholic Liquors in movie theaters @MADDOnline @lwvde #netDE #edude

147th General Assembly
House Bill # 299

Primary Sponsor:

Q. Johnson

Additional Sponsor(s):    Sen. Ennis


Reps. Baumbach, Bennett, Mulrooney, Paradee, Ramone, B. Short, Walker; Sen. Poore, Sokola

Introduced on :


Long Title:



This legislation would allow for the sale and consumption of beer, wine and liquor at movie theaters, including consumption within the theater during a movie showing, something that is allowed in at least 30 states including Maryland, New Jersey, New York and Virginia. The bill defines a movie theater as one with at least 500 seats in a single theater or combination of theaters, open at least 5 days a week with at least 250 movie showings in a year. It sets the biennial fee for a movie theater license at $1,500, the same as the concert hall category created by the General Assembly in 2012, and requires movie theaters to contribute to a Division of Alcohol and Tobacco Enforcement investigation fund, the same as other venues. The Alcoholic Beverage and Control Commissioner is required to promulgate regulations to prevent the consumption of alcohol in theaters by those not of legal age, and no licenses can be applied for until such regulations are finalized.

Current Status:

House Economic Development/Banking/Insurance/Commerce Committee   On   04/10/14

Kilroy says: This legislation is a first-class piece of shit! The last thing families need is going to the movies with a bunch of fucking drunks then leaving with a parking lot crawling with drunk drivers! Shame on you Mike for supporting such a fucked up piece of legislation! If this legislation makes it though to being law we’ll make sure parents burying their dead know who supported this legislation. As for Dave Sokola, Dave you should know better!  

Delaware U.S. Sec of Ed Arne Duncan cites successful program AVID as RTTT! But program was in place way before RTTT

State urged to press on with Race to Top : Matthew Albright, The News Journal April 10, 2014

Duncan sat in on a panel with Mount Pleasant High School students, several of whom said they came from difficult families but found success, particularly with AVID, which stands for Advancement Via Individual Determination.

“Delaware is the only state in the country that is doing something like this at a systemic level,” he said. “This is outstanding.”

“AVID was first developed in 1980 by Mary Catherine Swanson, an English teacher at Clairemont High School, a recently desegregated district in San Diego, California. She began the program in order to ensure that underrepresented students were able to succeed in high school and would be properly prepared for the rigors of college. The program operated on one simple philosophy:”

Arne Duncan has some nerve contributing the works of others to Race to The Top and FYI read this, AVID has been at Mount Pleasant going back to 2006 and OMG !!!!!!! Rodel’s Paul Herdman said this, “Trying to redesign schools around the need of the students is a direction we’re going to be moving into more and more,” he said. “We need to say, ‘How can we redesign the system and not necessarily redesign the kids?’ ” AND this, “AVID could be one way to raise expectations and help underachieving students meet those expectations, he said. “It’s worth exploring. I wouldn’t say I’d endorse it at this stage. It sounds like a helpful idea to explore further.”

Well Paul fast-forward to 2014 and Arne Duncan sticks a Race to The Top success flag in “Mount Plesant”s”  successes where others like you were skeptic. 

Innovation belongs at the school level not in the Governor’s office and especially with the federal government. Putting competitive strings on tax-dollars sent to Washington from Delaware to serve Delaware children undermines real innovation.

The conversation turns now to what happens once all the Race to the Top money is gone. Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy said some of the biggest costs were for “startup costs” the state could not have otherwise afforded but won’t have to continue to spend money to sustain.

And the public was lead to believe once the programs started and the outside trainers trained the district trainers there would be no concern with financial sustainability. 

“The real test will be if the progress stops when the money runs out. If that happens, we will have failed, frankly,” he said. “This is a foundation that Delaware needs to build on if we will be truly successful.”

Well dip-shit! When you use money to fuel the train’s steam engine and you’re out of money you’ll lost steam and forward momentum. We all know the game how local superintendents are weaving $$$ into local operating referendum to continue to fuel Race to The Top. FYI even Rick Jensen knows Race to The Top is a federal grant not a federal mandate like Title 1. The Race to The Top party is over so move on coach! Please Please leave our kids alone and RESIGN! Go back to Rodel with the other sell-outs !

Folks and dear state legislators, when Markell is out of office you’ll see the internal structural damage caused to Delaware public education system. Slick Dave Sokola will be heading into retirement to avoid the shame of defeat! 

As far a AVID, man-up Markie don’t let Duncan and Markell take credit for something not theirs! You signed the super’s letter so man-up! Stand behind your successful Mount Pleasant teachers and “their” AVID. Don’t worry about not getting Murhpy’s job next fall! Damn that would be a pay cut for you and way too many hours away from home! 

“Race to the Top has been a mixed experience for Delaware educators,” said Frederika Jenner, president of the Delaware State Education Association education union. “At the time we signed onto this, it looked like the right decision. It has proved to be not as rewarding for practitioners, for teachers, as we maybe were led to believe.”

And the former President Judas pulled the wool over membership’s eyes. Sad part of that children and parents were put last behind personal ambitions of Judas. She got a custom-made DE DOE job in which after a few short years gave her a life-long bump in pension. DSEA needs to get out of signing contracts with the devil and assholes without parental involvement in such life changing events for their children. RTTT was a clear violation of Title 1 Section 1118. Kilroy has no business in union business but it’s OK for unions to jump in bed with politicians like Jack Markell and Matt Denn and parents and students get fucked! Union business is our business and don’t call parents partners and stakeholders if you don’t let them at the table or have voice! Yes current DSEA President inherited a mess and let it be warning to the next governor of what he or she may face and God helps us all if that person is Matt Denn. Markell’s personal Judas!