Delaware PTA shames Governor Markell on his go-it-alone education agenda! @usedgov #netde @delawareonline @FoxNews @WSJ @HuffingtonPost @nytimes @washingtonpost

Delaware PTA’s Response to Press Release on SBAC and DE Higher Ed Institutions 

In a statement made today by Governor Markell, Delaware PTA learned that the four colleges; Wilmington University, University of Delaware, Delaware Technical and Community College and Delaware State University have all agreed that the outcomes of the 11th grade Smarter Balanced Assessments is a good indicator of college readiness. In addition, these institutions have all agreed to accept the assessment in lieu of other placement exams.

At a time when there is so much turbulence in our public education system, we are disheartened to learn that the conversations that proceeded this major conclusion did not include input from any of our major stakeholders. The Delaware Department of Education and the Governor’s office have publicly committed to greater transparency and collaboration with the broader community, yet Delaware PTA, the Delaware State Education Association, state legislators and other community stakeholders were not only excluded from these conversations, but we only learned of this decision a few hours prior to the public announcement.

We believe the lack of a collaborative process has resulted in misguided decisions regarding the efficacy of the Smarter Balanced Assessments, further misleading parents and students.

While Delaware PTA supports the use of assessments with a growth model that will effectively and adequately measure student growth and college and career readiness, we stand by our previous statements, citing the following concerns with the Smarter Balanced Assessments:

1. In its current form, the SBAC does not provide a true growth model;

2. In its current form, the SBAC is overly subjective and not an accurate assessment of student knowledge, skills and abilities;

3. Our educators have not had sufficient time to teach and our students have not had sufficient time to learn;

4. In its current form, the SBAC does not provide parents or teachers with the individual diagnostic data necessary to work together to support student success.

Although we believe that this most recent development is a knee jerk reaction to HB 50 on the Parent Opt Out, Delaware PTA remains fully committed to engaging in collaborative and transparent discussions on developing a state assessment that provides meaningful data for parents, students and teachers.

Decisions made in a vacuum often lead to outcomes that are misaligned and unsuccessful. Delaware parents, students and teachers deserve better.

 Dr. Terri L Hodges, State President 

Yvonne Johnson, VP of Advocacy

Conrad Alumni support your mascot with the purchase of a CHS vanity tag



Red Clay experiences “intermittent network issues” Re: Smarter Balanced Assessment

Yep that’s the word!  “intermittent network issues” . Keep an eye on Red Clay’s $$$$$$$$$$ expenditures on technology that back-fills the federal intervention called “The Smarter Balanced Assessment” with local taxpayers money.

Conrad Alumni should close the door on relationship with Red Clay if board votes to change school mascot

Conrad alumni to school board: Keep Redskins mascot Matthew Albright, The News Journal

A group of alumni and supporters of Conrad High School urged the Red Clay school board on Wednesday not to retire the school’s mascot, the Redskin, saying it was a proud, decades-old tradition that honored the spirit of Native Americans.

Never in the history of Conrad has there ever been intent to demean the name of Native Americans. 

As Conrad Alumni Association President Jeff Nichols took the podium to address the board, dozens of members of the audience – most clad in red; some wearing old, worn letterman jackets with the mascot’s visage – stood in a show of support. They remained standing as eight speakers addressed the board.

Nichols took issue with the fact that some who want to change the mascot quote Webster’s dictionary, which says the term “Redskin” is “usually offensive.”

“Ladies and gentlemen, Conrad is not a usual school,” he said. “What Webster’s is missing is a definition of Conrad Redskin, a noun: a student, past, present and future of Conrad who emulates the positive traits of pride, spirit and honor.”

Spot on! Well said! 

A group called the “Retire the Mascot Committee” has been gathering petition signatures to change the mascot and hopes to make a proposal for a replacement mascot to the district in the summer.

The group’s efforts come as other schools and athletic organizations, most notably the NFL’s Washington Redskins, have faced criticism for using the mascot.

School officials have said they have heard concerns from parents and others about the mascot. Some teams and other school organizations have quietly left the word “redskin” off of their gear.

And who might these ” Retire the Mascot Committee” be? 

Several speakers said removing the mascot would disrupt a proud alumni tradition that has led to thousand-dollar donations and many hours of volunteering. A few blasted the district administration, saying it was trying to make the change without asking the school community shortly after Red Clay voters approved a referendum to raise property taxes to fund district operations.”This superintendent does not communicate with this community unless they need money,” said Susan Strawbridge. “How dare this superintendent keep the mascot issue under the radar until after the referendum.”

Folks all district superintendents serve at the pleasure of their boards! Red Clay’s board has the final vote! 

Shout-out to Ron Houston’s best bud! Good luck and thank you for being real !

Don’t forget to call home 

Red Clay school board poised to approve resolution on expanding Red Clay’s district boundaries

Readers Report that Computers Crashed in Minnesota, Tennessee, and Nevada Disrupting Testing

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

Nothing to add to the headline. Send me links if you find them.

View original

Delaware Governor Markell approves a two-tiered high school diploma punitive to at-risk students

Test scores could help kids get out of remedial classes Matthew Albright, The News Journal

High school juniors who do well on the state’s tough new standardized test will not have to take remedial classes if they attend a Delaware college or four-year university, state leaders announced Tuesday.

Gov. Jack Markell said the arrangement, which applies to the University of Delaware, Delaware State University, Wilmington University and Delaware Technical Community College, will hopefully allow more students to avoid paying for classes that don’t count toward their degree.

So now Delaware universities and colleges have a better gauge to cherry-pick college bound students. While I agree we need to better prepare college bound students but using The Smarter Balanced Assessment as the sole means to determine whether or not a college freshman needs remedial classes is just a political Markell shell game.

Markell brags about Delaware historical low highs school dropout rate and improved graduation rate but fails to address needs-base funding for early education and refuses to believe smaller classes do improve academic success. The crisis in education in rooted in poorly structured  K-5 education. Raising academic success from the bottom up will set the stage for better academic performance at the high school level which will translate into better prepared college bound students.

Governor Jack Markell is slicker than a pile of dog poop! His tactful media blitz is all about undermining state legislators who support parents rights to opt-out their children re: state standardized tests. He set the stage for universities and college to cherry pick students using the state assessment. No doubt students who are still at-risk going into college will be impacted. They’ll see more rejection letters! Also, it’s kind of sad to see students at the 11th grade level being stressed out taking the state assessment know now colleges and university are watching. One thing for sure, Governor Markell has taken an “assessment” test and transformed into a component of college acceptance.  I wonder what backdoor $$$ deal he made with state funded higher-ed? 

The writting was on the wall tying the Smarter Balanced to college admission

So you don’t think there is a Smarter Balanced Assessment tied to college admission! Better think twice! Posted on by kilroysdelaware

How deep is the Smarter Balanced Assessment agenda? Deeper than many know! 

There is a common college complaint that many students aren’t prepared for college and are required to take remedial courses.  

Test scores could help kids get out of remedial classes Matthew Albright, The News Journa l5:10 p.m. EDT April 14, 2015

High school juniors who do well on the state’s tough new standardized test will not have to take remedial classes if they attend a Delaware college or four-year university, state leaders announced Tuesday

Folks there is a lot of smoke and mirrors with Markell’s education agenda. Again it will be the more affluent students getting by the college gate keeper. The impact on our neediest students will be minimal.

Sounds so wonderful that students can test out of remedial college classes before they even apply. Wouldn’t it just make sense to end social promotion with will ensure all students are “really” ready for college or career.

The weight of a high school diploma has declined rendering it valueless. An Associated Degree is becoming the new high school diploma.

Again this year nearly 50% of graduating college students graduating with a bachelors degree won’t find employment in their field of study. They work in jobs playing about 60% what they would if working in their field of study. Then in comes student loan payments. 

We’re herding more and more children off the college stuffing their pockets with college loans to only come out the other end to a stagnated economy. Those with Associate Degrees will struggle in competing for jobs with such a large pool of those with bachelors degrees.   

As far as the Smarter Balanced Assessment being tied to college admissions, it a dangerous love affair and deep seeded in politics. Markell has now created scare tactics the will undermine the opt-out movement. Surely it won’t look good on college and university applications where students put “opt-out” of standardized testing. It will be a red flag to university and college admissions offices that the student is a radical and parents helicopter parents.  

Dear Delaware legislators! Jack is out in 2016 and the education reform house of cards will fall! And many of you Markell ass-kissing legislators will pay the price at the polls! Markell’s “Arrangement” will be used against you to not support the opt-out legislation.

The bottom line is, either a student needs remedial math or reading or not. And you can bet out most neediest at-risk student won’t get smaller class sizes! The standardized state test can’t be the only yardstick and college and university must continue their entrance assessments. Remember folks, the capitalist still need people to work minimum wage and pick up the trash.      

Reach and Moyer Charter schools set to close at the end of this school year! What are your feelings on this issue?

So what do you think? Was DE DOE’s / State Board of Education’s decision right in calling for the closure of Reach and Moyer charter schools?

To me, it really sucks that adults have failed these children. Perhaps there needs to be a state framework on qualifications on who can serve on charter school boards.

Then there is the Delaware Department of Education charter school unit! New leadership was installed and we mark success with closures of charter schools? 

Then there is charter school financial fiasco! Delaware law “requires” DE DOE assigned an employee to the all charter school Citizen Budget Oversight Committee as “participating members” not observers. How in the F#c*k can charter schools be using bank credit cards where expenditure aren’t filter through the state accounting system like state issue P-cards with DE DOE being on the CBOC? The forward process of the charter school revolution has stalled because DE DOE employees lack the skill-sets and capacity to understand, DE DOE was meant to provide technical assistance. DE DOE has become an extension of Governor Markell and an out of control Frankenstein. 

2106 election will be bearing down on us soon and you’ll see the DE DOE cockroaches start to scramble. The Markell school reform house of cards will fall and it will take 4-5 years to rebuild DE DOE back to a respectable trustworthy organization. However, meantime children are being victimized and parents being hoodwinked      

It’s time to clean house at the DE DOE charter school office Re: calls for state audits of charter schools

Delaware charter school audits under scrutiny Matthew Albright, The News Journal

In the wake of bombshell allegations that the co-leaders of a charter school made thousands of dollars in personal purchases on school credit cards, some lawmakers want the state auditor’s office to run charter audits to make sure taxpayer money isn’t being misused.

State law:

736 Local School District and Charter School Citizen Budget Oversight Committees

4.0 Committee Members for Charter Schools

4.2 The Committee shall have at least five (5) members with representation from educators and parents of students in the school and representation from the Department of Education. In addition, where possible, the Committee shall have at least two members with formal educational or vocational backgrounds amenable to oversight of school district financial statements. Further provided, Committee members shall not be compensated, except for allowable mileage for training or similar activities, for participation on such Committee.

How could such misuse of public funds happen right under nose of DE DOE? They sit at the table with the school’s financial budget oversight committee as a full committee member. 

Charters are required to have audits done, but now the schools decide who audits them. Rep. Kim Williams, sponsor of House Bill 53, says having the state auditor, who already audits district and vo-tech schools, perform the work is the best way to monitor spending.

I’ll bet Publius buddies comes in crying, “we don’t receive capital funding”.

WTF agian, DE DOE sits on the charter schools CBOC and should be smart enough to ask for itemized credit-card expenditures and when will state legislators legislative a law requiring all traditional, charter and votech schools to use a state P-card? DE DOE knows all about Moyer’s AMX and still does nothing!  

“There are lots of charter schools that are operating under the rules and doing a good job, but when these kinds of things happen it gives them all a bad name,” Williams said. “What this is about is making sure that everybody is playing by the same rules.”

Yep it gives all of them a bad name! But again, the failing oversight of DE DOE needs to be questioned! 

This is from Moyer 2013 Annual Board Retreat Meeting minutes;

A Moyer Credit Card

A motion was presented to provide a credit card for Moyer Academy to use for purchases with the understanding that:

1. Internal controls and spending parameters will be established prior to the acquisition of such a card.

2. An investigation and comparison will be made between the State of Delaware issued card (all rebates belong to the State) and the American Express card in which points belong to the holder and make a recommendation based on the findings of the investigation and comparison will be made to the board for its approval. 

And where was / is DE DOE????

Charter school advocates say they simply need more clarity on what is expected of them and worry that the bill would limit their flexibility and autonomy if it becomes law.

And then there is the difference between playing stupid and being stupid! 

“We’re all about transparency and we are fine with having an audit. In fact, it’s required under state law,” said Kendall Massett, executive director of the Delaware Charter Schools Network. “I do not believe that using a pass-through that will raise the cost and take money out of the classroom is the right solution. I think the solution they’re proposing is bigger than the problem that there is.”

Nothing personal but we’ve had more problems with charter schools since the changing of the guard at DCSN. 

Massett argues charters will have to pay a management fee to the state and that the state-negotiated audit contracts will likely cost some schools more.

But Williams says charters will only have to pay more if they aren’t keeping the right records or otherwise not handling their business correctly. For schools that are already doing everything they are supposed to, she says costs will not significantly rise.

Williams is correct 100%

Rep. Michael Ramone says a change is necessary, but handing duties over to the auditor might not be the right one.

“Everybody looks bad if any of our schools aren’t being fiscally responsible,” Ramone said. “However, as a business guy, the approach I think we should take is to give these schools a clear expectation of what is required of their schools as far as their fiscal responsibility and reporting criteria, and I don’t think we’ve provided that yet.”

It looks bad when state legislators take part in organizing charter schools and play dumb when it comes to leases on personal property. McFly !!!! Why not the state auditor auditing usage of state and local taxpayers funds?  

Ramone said the state should establish a specific, detailed list of everything they expect charters to cover with an audit, so charters can be sure they are hiring the right firm to do the right thing.“If we clearly establish what they’re supposed to be doing, I believe our schools will do it,” he said.

WFT Mike ???????????? The state law “you” supported required DE DOE representatives on the charter schools CBOC! The taxpayers are being robbed as DE DOE play looks-out man waving the crooks past! 

News Journal Jimmy Olsen failed to mention Delaware votech schools aka public are funded without referendums

Delaware’s system of school tax votes debated Matthew Albright, The News Journal

“I’m one of the people who thinks they should be tightening their belts some,” said Sen. Karen Peterson, the lawmaker who led a challenge to the recent Red Clay referendum. “I think it’s important that these districts be under some level of scrutiny to make sure they’re being as efficient with taxpayer money as possible.”

That would require school employees to pay more for their healthcare, end the step-pay process and end EPER programs.

In 2013, then-Rep. Darryl Scott proposed allowing districts to increase their property tax rates by 3 percent each year without a vote. He argued the current system requires districts to ask for more than they need right now to build up reserves so they can go for longer periods between votes. He said his bill would let districts more gradually increase taxes when they needed them.

The bill was introduced late in the session and did not make it out of committee.

So if this were the law Red Clay taxes would have increased 21% since 2008 (3% a year X 7). So if you were paying $1000.00 in local school taxes in 2008 you’d be paying $1210.00 today, $210.00 more.  Didn’t Scott call it quits as a state legislator?  

Jimmy Olsen neglected to point-out, Delaware votech schools the other public schools are funded without referendums and failed to ask any state legislator if they would favor the same approach for all public school even charters?  

NJ Jimmy Olsen highlights H.B. 61 re: board meeting recordings

Delaware lawmakers want school board meetings recorded Matthew Albright, The News Journal8:57 p.m. EDT April 5, 2015

Every Delaware school board will be required to record audio of meetings and post it online if the General Assembly passes a bill being considered in Dover.

Lawmakers who support the legislation and open-government advocates say recorded meetings are a way for citizens to better keep tabs on the actions of elected officials and stay updated on issues facing schools.

“I think it’s important that people be able to hear what their elected officials are doing,” said Rep. Deborah Hudson, R-Fairthorne, the sponsor of House Bill 61. “And they can do this without any major burden to the district, so I think it just makes sense.”

It’s not a matter of keeping tabs but more staying informed and being able to engage the issue during the process. Many times board have discussion on action items that they will take action on at the “next” board meeting. However, board minutes aren’t approved and released to the public until the board approves them the following meeting. 

The Christina, Red Clay and Capital school boards voluntarily post recordings of meetings. The State Board of Education is required by law to record meetings and have the audio available one business day later.

The new legislation would apply only to school board meetings, not workshops or committee sessions.

Elizabeth Paige, serving her first term on the Christina school board, said she’s found the recordings useful for researching issues facing the district.

“As the newest member of the school board, it was really helpful to go back and listen to school board meetings from before I got here,” Paige said.

Let’s not forget Brandywine, Delmar and Colonial school districts do the same voluntarily and the state board of education by law. Thanks Elizabeth for positive support 

Hudson introduced a similar bill last session, but it did not advance out of the House. Hudson, a Republican, suspects it may not have gone through because many bills sponsored by the minority part weren’t considered late in the session.

This time around she has the support of House Education Committee Chairman Earl Jaques, D-Glasgow, who hopes to put it to a vote. No date has been scheduled for a committee hearing.

The bill has 14 co-sponsors from both parties, not counting Hudson and the Senate sponsor, Karen Peterson, D-Stanton.

But let’s not forget the last bill successfully made it through the House Education Committee and House Appropriation Committee and was desk-drawer vetoed. The previous  chair of the House Education Committee supported the last attempt.   

Hudson said she encountered some reservations from district leaders last year who worried about the cost and administrative burden of creating and posting recordings. She said her staff did some research and found that relatively high-quality equipment could be purchased for $50-$150.

“We’re talking a negligible cost for these districts,” Hudson said. “We’re not even suggesting the type of recording device. I don’t expect it to be anymore than something that gets a clear recording.”

One will think with all the Race to The Top money a few bucks could have went for recorders. Also, Title 1 funding can be used under parental involvement funding. Surely Title 1 parents unable to make board meetings would like to hear what’s going on at the board level impacting their children. 

John Flaherty, president of the Delaware Coalition for Open Government, said the recordings are a good idea.

“I think we’re always looking for ways to increase transparency and allow people to monitor the actions of elected officials,” Flaherty said. “Not everybody has time to go these meetings in person, so the convenience of able to go back and listen when you have time is a good thing.”

Wilmington Education Advisory Committee has vision but now we need a “secure” blueprint to move forward


I am pulling various paragraphs out of the report to comment on. Please go online to view the entire report.

Changing district lines will not automatically translate to higher student achievement, but it will will remove obstacles that limit our capacity to focus our full capacity and efforts on student success. It will give greater responsibility to a single district for improving the education of the vast majority of Wilmington children. To fulfill that responsibility, Red Clay will need the will, the money, and an improved approach to addressing the challenges of schools with high concentrations of low-income children.

One of my concerns is Red Clay’s capacity to effectively handle this responsibility. Red Clay parents had to unite and tell Red Clay taking the class size waiver in high needs school wasn’t acceptable. Red Clay like Christina had state intervention to address re: 3 priority schools. I support reducing the number of school district within the city of Wilmington. However, the committee has realized at this point in time Red Clay lack the capacity with this statement, To fulfill that responsibility, Red Clay will need the will, the money, and an improved approach to addressing the challenges of schools with high concentrations of low-income children.” Those calling for such a merger prior to addressing these issues shouldn’t be at the table of decision-making. Delaware has a fundamentally flawed school funding mechanism. Some say just re-asset property values. Sure quick fix in the short-term but what happens during the next referendum attempt? What impact would a major property tax have on industry and jobs. Don’t forget all properties are taxed including commercial property (except legally exempt). The time has come to fund traditional public schools and charters the same way we do votechs. Votech funding is via legislative action where the so-called burden in on the legislator. No more referendums! “improved approach to addressing the challenges”. More money doesn’t provide improved approaches. 

Equally irrational is the notion that the state with the nation’s third-highest percentage of students enrolled in charter schools, most concentrated in Wilmington, had approved a growth in charter enrollment of 90 percent over the next five years with no plan for its charter schools or for how they should connect with the other parts of the public education system.

The problem is the charter school law. Allow preferences for schools to be designed to serve at-risk students drives desegregation and distracts from creating schools that serve all students within from at-risk to honors and AP. Creating “public” school exclusively for honors and AP student and ones for struggling and at-risk students is segregation of minds and sadly most of the at-risk students are poor and minority. Charter School of Wilmington creation had nothing to do with closing the achievement gap. It had everything to do with the status quo affluent parents who want their children in schools without at-risk students. We need one kind of public school that serves all students based on those individual needs.  

We cannot continue to operate and fund at taxpayer expense two largely disconnected and often competing public education systems (three, if we consider the separately governed votech schools). This arrangement will not support educational improvement for all of our students. We need a statewide strategic plan for the development of public education that includes the desired number, type, and mix of charter, district, and vo-tech schools, and also a charter consortium that supports the sharing of best practices among charters and between charters and district schools.

And for what it’s worth, the only benefit to have Red Clay chartered schools within Red Clay is that sense of district control and oversight. Charter School of Wilmington board of directors illegally vote to change enrollment preference putting Red Clay student further down the preference list. They did this under the nose of the Red Clay’s school board and as assigned district charter oversight personnel looked the other way. Perhaps it’s time to take the Delaware Department of Education out of the charter school authoring equation and only allow school district to authorize charter schools in a way end the competition and create a better connection to the goals and needs of the district.  Choice and innovation are welcomed. Also, decentralizing charter school approval and oversight to the local school district we can eliminate the department within DE DOE that oversees charter schools. Red Clay though less hands on with their charter schools allows their charter school the autonomy to be self-governed on a day to day operations. No matter how you cut is, transparency is an equalizer and we need to enhance that transparency and allow parents and the taxpayers to become effective watchdogs. We’ve seen with charters where transparency is lacking the effects on finances and services to children. As far as DE DOE, they have a member on Moyer’s CBOC and yet Moyer still uses a commercial credit-card vs state issued P-card. DE DOE lacks that capacity to be effective.

Our report also calls upon the state to activate its existing infrastructure and reallocate its resources to better address the needs of low-income students in Wilmington and across Delaware. To be clear, this is more than a Wilmington problem. According to the Southern Education Foundation, in 2013, 51 percent of Delaware children qualified as low income based on their eligibility for the Free and Reduced-Price Lunch program. Addressing the needs of these children and their families and providing the needed supports for schools with high concentrations of low-income students is a statewide challenge and needs to be met in a comprehensive manner.  

 I am on board with this 100%

We also believe that the system for funding public schools is antiquated and no longer effectively serves student needs. We propose changes that will ensure that the most challenged schools are well-resourced and adequately support the needs of their students. This includes attracting and supporting the best teachers in the toughest classrooms. We need to change the state’s funding formula to better address the needs of all Delaware schools with large concentrations of low-income students and English language learners. We also are proposing a close review of the revenue base that supports Delaware in general and its public  education system in particular. It is a well-known fact that the foundations of public education funding are weak at both the state and local levels. It is a grave concern that property reassessment has not been done in New Castle County since 1983, Kent County since 1986, and in Sussex County sometime between 1972 and 1974.  

Re-assessment is not the answer! Requiring the legislators to set the tax rates per district is the best answers. No more operational and capital referendums. Also, a capital funding for charter schools can be formulated. It works for Votechs! Also, the will be an economical impact by radically reassessment of property and you can be rent for the poor will go up! All is passed on to the consumers and businesses feeling the tax-bite may translate to employee layoffs.

Finally, let us not forget the voices of the people whose children are most affected. Throughout our review process, we have heard calls for a re-imagined Wilmington School District. In my view, this is a largely nostalgic reaction to a time that once was, where Wilmington communities were still racially segregated but were also multi-income and made up of professionals of color living in close proximity to the working poor. Today, those communities are different. Suburban flight among all races has left most Wilmington communities with significantly fewer resources than existed 40 years ago and, equally problematic, with many fewer role-models of achievement. You couldn’t build a Wilmington School District today without recognizing its immediate economic peril and the concentrated challenges that such a school district would face. We don’t surmise any more success in that construct than what exists today. Instead, we believe that the Wilmington city government should mobilize representative voices for their community’s children, and that the proposed City Office of Education and Public Policy should bring those voices to the forefront, particularly for those parents who otherwise simply cannot navigate the complexities of the current ill-constructed system.

I’ll relax on the the call for a stand alone Wilmington school district but tell me will there be city traditional middle and high schools? Also if the committee is concern about segregation issue I hope they call for an end to charter school admission preference leaving only two, for those living in the school district where the charter school is located. Also with open admission with no testing or peeking at the students records all within a transparent lottery process if there are more applicants than seats.

To change that path, we need a broad-based, cross-sector coalition to act boldly and without equivocation, right now, on the recommendations of the Wilmington Education Advisory Committee. The time to act is now.

So move on well intended ideas and visions without putting in place new laws re: need-based funding, changes in charter school law, address the antiquated method of funding public schools.

Tony if I packed your parachute would you jump without making sure it was packed properly?    


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 379 other followers