10 Year Old Takes Down PARCC at Local Board of Education Meeting

Originally posted on parentingthecore:

Updated and with Backstory Below, 12/16/2014:

The public portion of our local school board meeting ran from 7:40 p.m. until 12:40 a.m. last night.  Included on the agenda was a first reading of a policy (a copy is attached below) to require the district to provide educationally appropriate and non-punitive alternatives for kids whose parents refuse to allow them to take the PARCC tests.  The policy will not be voted on until the next meeting, which is not until January 26, 2015.   My 10 year old 4th grader attended the meeting with me, and was the first speaker when public comment began around 9:45 p.m.  (She waited patiently and listened intently to a good chunk of the prior two hours of the meeting — and when she got bored, she read her book.)

Please watch the VIDEO of her describing her experience with PARCC preparation.  She speaks for herself…

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From the “Priority” Schools INBOX: Rep. John Kowalko

Please understand that if we don’t challenge these coercive and abusive tactics promulgated by this Administration through a Department of Education bereft of any knowledge of public education needs and ignorant of any concern for the hard-working professionals who actually own that knowledge, than “we”, willingly and collectively deny and deprive all of the children and their educational champions of their rights. The unconditional surrender by the Red Clay board signals the effectiveness of the bullying tactics employed by the powerful corporate elitists who continue to reject any open and honest dialogue that would ultimately benefit our children. Shame on them for what they do and shame on us for not saying no to what they are doing. Following is an op-ed that appears in the Friday News Journal which was submitted before the Red Clay vote. I only regret that it wasn’t published in time to perhaps change some votes. Enjoy, and share in the shame we all suffer if we continue to remain silent or abdicate our responsibilities to the public school children and their families.

Representative John A. Kowalko

A recent headline in the News Journal stating that “State says Priority School principals must go” inaccurately reflects the reality that it is not the “State” as comprised of the legislative branch and the judiciary that is forcing this unsubstantiated and judgmental attack on these school principals’ credentials and performance. It is not pronounced or imbedded in state code or law but rather a loosely defined interpretation of a DOE regulation that was manufactured by that department under legally challengeable circumstances that appear to have violated the processes for creating such regulations as permitted by law.  

Despite the presumptuous attitude of this Administration and DOE that it has unilateral authority over local school districts personnel issues, it is obvious in reading the Christina District’s response to Friday’s letter from DOE that the Department and Administration are grossly overstepping their authority without any legitimate efforts or intentions to fairly evaluate the performance of these school leaders. In a letter dated December 7th , Penny Schwinn informed Christina District that the principals at Stubbs and Bancroft were ineligible to retain their positions merely because of their presence at these schools while the schools were designated as either Turnaround or Transformation reform models. This completely disregards the reality that they presided over measurable achievements at these schools. The December 15th response from Christina District informed Ms. Schwinn that these two principals performance had been reviewed by the Delaware Department of Education, the University of Delaware and the Delaware Academy of School Leadership under a “Comprehensive Success Review” conducted in November that gave an overall high rating to two “Priority Schools” in Christina, notably Stubbs and Bancroft. Both schools received the highest rating of “4” in the categories of Policies, Procedures and Structures, School Leadership Decisions, Time Management and Curriculum and Instruction among other subjects. In fact, if you go to the CSD website you can access the full reports and dialogues. There is an obvious lack of objectivity and a major disregard for a factual assessment by Ms. Schwinn and DOE.

 After examining the facts perhaps you’ll feel, as I do, that Penny Schwinn on behalf of DOE, Secretary Murphy and Governor Markell is engaged in one of the more disturbing attempts to abuse power that I have ever witnessed as a State Legislator. With absolutely no data driven information or statistical proof, it appears that Ms. Schwinn, on behalf of DOE, has indicted and declared failing the principals of Stubbs and Bayard despite the preponderance of evidence to the contrary in the “Comprehensive Success Reviews” report. This callous behavior and obviously errant judgment on the part of Ms. Schwinn, who is authorized by the DOE, suggests that both she and Secretary Murphy should consider resigning their respective appointments.

Maligning the performance of these dedicated school leaders with arbitrarily contrived performance perspectives is an audacious and outrageous attempt to continue denigrating Delaware public education and ignores the real needs of our inner city children. The ongoing efforts by this Administration, the Secretary of Ed. and DOE staff to wrest the legal power and authority from the duly elected local school boards is tantamount to an illegal abuse of power and a violation of the separation of powers. As long as this Administration proceeds down a path strewn with bullying and coercive demands attempting to intimidate and denigrate highly qualified educators and administrators with no legitimate plan to enhance educational opportunities for our children then one must conclude that there is another less obvious agenda.

This Administration and its allies have long displayed a propensity for a corporatist takeover of education with achievable goals of privatization and charterization of Delaware public schools. The preponderance of RTTT money awarded to the state never reached the children in the classrooms and the path to creating new charter schools has been smoothed with a verve belying the reality that charters perform no better or worse than traditional schools with like circumstances and similar population diversity. The only difference seems to be unaccountable access to taxpayer money that is not available from traditional schools.

This ongoing takeover madness has harmed the reputations and psyche of many dedicated educators and will irreparably harm Delaware’s public school children and the state’s economic vitality. The public must join together, on behalf of honesty and justice, and demand that this Administration stand down from its pedestal of self-aggrandizement and recognize its own shortcomings.  

State Representative John Kowalko

The Christmas Legend of Jack and Paul: The Birth of Common Core @KilroysDelaware @ed_in_de @RCEAPrez @Apl_Jax @nannyfat @ecpaige @Roof_O @GovernorMarkell @DelawareBats #netde #eduDE #Delaware #edchat

Originally posted on Exceptional Delaware:

Many years ago, ten years ago to be exact, a legend began.  It was whispered to citizens of Delaware through the years but nobody ever knew if it was true.  When people would try to find out the truth, they were met with half-truths or outright denials.  This is the story, unverified with any credible source, and how I heard it from a stoned DOE employee at Firefly one summer.

One Christmas Eve, Delaware Treasurer Jack Markell and Rodel CEO Paul Herdman met at a tavern.  Markell wanted more from his political career, and Herdman had just been given a lofty position at Rodel.  They were both at a crossroads in their careers, and they decided to vent to each other.  This is the conversation that has passed down from teachers to students, from hedge fund managers to investors, from Comcast ticket vendors to charter school superintendents.

Jack: I don’t…

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Common Sense NY Blogger: How Can State Officials Know So Little About Teacher Evaluation?

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

CommonSenseNY blogger is appalled at how little state officials understand about the defects of the state evaluation system.

He or she writes:

“Chancellor Tisch made an astonishing and appalling statement quoted in this Democrat and Chronicle article about 95% of New York teachers being rated ‘effective’ or ‘highly effective’ under Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR) process. While it is true the entire process is bogus, she is wrong about the reason. A link to a Carol Burris summary of the problems with APPR can be found here. She is an award-winning principal.

“Here is what is appalling about Ms. Tisch’s understanding of the current evaluation process. She states, “The ratings show there’s much more work to do to strengthen the evaluation system. There’s a real contrast between how our students are performing and how their teachers and principals are evaluated.”

“Chancellor Tisch continues to either misrepresent, misunderstand or demonstrate little…

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Watch “Campaign Update from Kenny Rivera” on YouTube

Campaign Update from Kenny Rivera: http://youtu.be/ibxGrAe8SNY

same “shadowy” entity wanted your yes vote tonight….would you like to comment on any recent influences on your voting proclivities?

Tonight, at RCCSD BOE meeting I heard public comment from someone named Henry Clampitt

Here’s what he had to say:

He came off as a petulant lecturer. Never heard of the guy, but you should have seen the eye rolling disdain that he faced. It appears his own observations of his own character are more true that ever!

RCCSD Board President forgets why he ran I think

Tonight, this came from RCCSD Board president Kenny Rivera’s discussion:

“We all have issues with the framework we were provided for this,” said Board President Kenny Rivera. “I think we have to move forward because we have to do what’s best for kids, because the other option is much worse.”

WHAT? WORSE THAN THIS? And what does that say about the DOE if their option is worse?

What a cop out, bullshit excuse to surrender all rights to the DOE. Why did he run? I forget?

Alison May signs her name to this load of crap press release from @DEDeptofED. I smell a rat…

I will red pen this atrocity, then I will sleep. Tomorrow I will recollect my RCCSD board meeting experience. Trust me, it won’t look like the minutes they approve next month. We have lectures and reasons, and lies, oh my!

RED PEN, onward!

Red Clay board approves Priority Schools MOU


The Red Clay Consolidated School Board approved a Memorandum of Understanding with the Delaware Department of Education tonight that allows the district and state to move forward together together? you have approved it before even reading it?  to support students how? evidence? proof? Yeah, I thought so. in the district’s three Priority Schools as named by you with no evidence that they earned said designation.

“We have worked closely with Red Clay leaders over the past few months read: been kissed on the ass by RCCSD administration on a path forward that can deliver more services and resources 100% bullshit lie. Who did the Governor lie to yesterday to get that vote? to the children in Red Clay’s three priority schools.  Red Clay has worked tirelessly uh huh, I heard the recap tonight, it was: rigor, rigor, rigor, teach like a champion, PLC, magical fix! with teachers ha!,  parents please, I can’t take this and other stakeholders who? when ? where? (I sound like Mr. Kotter) to develop an MOU that is tailored to their needs and represents a compromise that has the potential nice hedge, not sure of your own master plan there DOE? to deliver for their students.  It provides for the selection of a great school leader ZERO EVIDENCE who will have the flexibility to modify the school day, extend the school year or change the curriculum to best meet students’ needs.  and the proof this works? Yep, thought so. While the plans for each school are still being developed, we are excited  that you can beat the fuck out of Christina? Yeah, that’s the ticket. about the prospect of providing additional support services and resources to the children in these schools,” Secretary of Education Mark Murphy said.  You are a disgusting excuse for a cabinet leader Mr. Murphy. You run a genuinely morally bankrupt department.

In September, the state announced significant resources BEST LINE EVER!!!!!!!!!! I got some land in Florida to sell ya… and support for Delaware’s six lowest-performing district schools LIE LIE LIE, not lowest, you manipulate for effect here, providing the opportunity for substantial changes that address the specific needs of students from their communities. like stability? Oh snap! These Priority Schools, all located within the City of Wilmington and split between the Christina and Red Clay districts, would share almost $6 million over four years to implement locally-developed, state-approved plans. to what effect? yep, ZIP!

Tonight’s vote comes after months of collaboration LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL between the state and Red Clay, which also has been moving forward with its school plans for Highlands Elementary, Shortlidge Academy, and Warner Elementary.  Red Clay officials submitted a first draft of plans to the state for feedback on December 12 and have committed to submitting high-quality plans that meet the expectations outlined in the state’s turnaround guide by January 7. ALL WITH ZERO COMMUNITY INPUT!!!!!!!! and a school board hell bent on CAPITULATION. Kenny, your role in this is ABHORRENT. What are you protecting? Your relationships or the children you were elected to protect?

Recognizing that Red Clay schools are in session only five days between now and January 7 and the importance of families having the opportunity to engage in the development of the plan as well as provide feedback on the final plans, state and district leaders agreed school board members would consider the final plans at their January 21 meeting. Red Clay leaders have committed to submitting their board-approved plans to the state by noon on January 22.  See that Kenny? They already have you lined up for your next YES vote. That’s called being a bagman.

Alison May

Lily, oh Lily…you make my heart flutter with all the whole child talk.

<br /><a href=”http://www.ustream.tv&#8221; style=”font-size: 12px; line-height: 20px; font-weight: normal; text-align: left;” target=”_blank”>Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream</a>

New Federal Budget Defunds Race to the Top

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

According to news reports, the new federal budget strips all funding from Race to the Top. Good riddance to one of the worst, most destructive federal programs in history. Historians will one day tell us who cooked up this assault on teachers and public schools. If states wanted to be eligible for part of Arne Duncan’s $4.35 billion in Race to the Top funding, they were required to adopt the “college and career ready standards,” aka Common Core, even though no one had ever field tested them. States had to agree to evaluate teachers to a significant degree by student scores, even though there was no evidence for doing so. States had to open more charters, transferring control from public to private management. States had to create massive data systems to track students.

RTTT was an all-out assault on the teaching profession, public education, and student privacy.

Perdido Street…

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Is @DEDeptofED readying CSD for a carpetbagging TFA clone from New Jersey? #edreform

DEDOE mouse is squeaking, do they already have this person lined up for Bancroft or Stubbs? Love the backdrop in this TFA 20th anniversary clip. We’ll see if this is true soon enough.

This is what’s wrong with education in one tweet from a DE legislator. #netDE


DE Chief for Change “authors” an editorial and it’s full of ____________

I’ll let you fill in the blank after I take you on a short red pen journey:

Article here!: http://www.delawareonline.com/story/opinion/contributors/2014/12/13/priority-school-program-can-boost-students/20331349/

When children at some of our schools are not learning, we have an obligation to act. Ok, but how do we define learning I wonder? Tests?

Three months ago, the State announced a commitment um, 6MM over 4 years to 6 schools? That’s a pittance, not a commitment. Shame on you and the governor for calling it one to improve educational opportunities for children in our state’s six lowest-performing schools this is a lie by their own measurements there are schools with lower test scores but these six happen to all be in the same “neighborhood”…I wonder why…. Our Priority Schools initiative has received heavy criticism as it deserves from those who fear maybe, but mostly fromthose that cannot stand to see you and the Governor grandstand for publicity and political points while offering another “PZ” but this time with even LESS money. We are not afraid of something we don’t know, you plan has already failed two of these schools, we know it will again, it’s that simple.  an overhaul of the status quo lame reformer lingo, the truth is Mr. Murphy IS the status quo. He is a test and punish proponent and that’s what the DEDOE does: test and punish. They punish students. They punish teachers. Now, tey are going to punish schools and communities. No doubt about it, our Chief for Change is a status quo guy.. And we have heard poverty used as an excuse for why students haven’t achieved. Again, a facile dismissal of the key correlative aspect of low achievement. Ostrich much?

But we remain committed to this effort because we know that students from even the most disadvantaged backgrounds – many of whom grow up in desperate poverty and violent neighborhoods – can overcome these circumstances and succeed if given the opportunity. And no one other than you does, right? This divisive rhetoric is irresponsible for a public official. Shame on you and the Governor for pushing comments like this into the public space

And we don’t have to look far to see what is possible for these children.

At Lewis Elementary in Wilmington, only 25 percent of students could read and do math at grade level in 2011. This year, that number increased to 60 percent. Gee, did anything else happen there?  During the same time, Eastside Charter increased the percentage of fifth graders proficient in reading from 15 percent to 66 percent Select, cream, skim: BAM success. You know this is a joke comparison, right? Oh wait, it’s all you got, my bad. And Booker T. Washington in Dover boosted the performance of its students – closing the gap between the number of low-income and non-low-income students who are proficient from 37 percent to eight percent in just three years. A tiny school by any measure, what happens in really small schools? Yeah, you know.

All of these schools serve a high proportion of low-income students of color – in some cases higher than at our Priority Schools. And not long ago, their students struggled as much or more than their counterparts at the Priority Schools today.

Each school’s turnaround strategy was different. Lewis became a world language immersion school. Booker T. Washington implemented an extended school day, which included recreational and community service activities. Eastside started a rigorous support system for staff with constant feedback and evaluation. This is the setup…

But the schools also had some things in common – most importantly, a dynamic school leader who received the authority and flexibility to implement creative programs and to rally their faculty and staff around a vision for helping their students learn. BAM! What’s next? You gonna kick our principals to the curb? That would be shortsighted and insane

The situation at our Priority Schools is unacceptable how would you know, you have never been there to assess it, nor has your addled staff. In some grades, less than 30 percent of children read and do math at grade level, and much less than half reach their individual academic growth goals each year.  Ahh, you got all test result oriented there. Is that how you manage? From a desk with a speadsheet. Again not becoming of a publicly paid official but not surprising given DE executive leadership.These students begin each fall well behind their peers, and drop further behind during the year. LIE. PATENT LIE. Many of them graduate high school unable to read or perform basic math, if they graduate at all. And the situation is not improving. LIE, PATENT LIE.

So we have asked the districts to work with us this is joke right? the Memorandum of Ultimatum you shoved in our face is “working” with us? You have a sick sense of humor I see. and help these schools develop new plans based on what we know works proof? evidence? Yeah, you got none, just reformy talking points about status quo, “great teachers” as if they are not there now, and catch phrases that divide and destroy communities like “achievement gap”  for these students.

It starts with a school leader who has a track record of working effectively you mean a “drill and kill” tester right? Of course you do.with youth in high-need schools, and who has the authority must.report.to.DOE. yeah, we get it, you are stealing the schools. to carry out a plan that fits their individual schools’ needs, free from unnecessary restrictions and mandates meaning parental input or teachers with independent thoughts. We must empower these leaders to make the changes that have worked elsewhere in Delaware and beyond are you going to bring in principals from New Jersey or something? – changes that some of our existing district rules prevent – like extending the school day and school year no, your funding prevent this, providing after-school tutoring for struggling students, again, $$ and/or offering social services in their buildings. um, yeah, where’s your $$ commitment on this??? And we must hold those leaders accountable for their schools’ results. Of course, thats the reformy way, test and destroy. What good are priority schools if you can’t lather, rinse and repeat every three years when you know it takes at least 5 to “fix” a school.

The State has made an initial investment of $6 million to support this process and help ensure the schools have the resources they need to change course. A joke is what that is. That’s equivalent to a ten percent increase in funding per student per year LIE LIE LIE LIE LIE LIE LIE LIE LIE LIE: Let’s do his math (sorry in advance, I will be using non-common core mathematics below): Mr. Murphy has declared repeatedly we have 2000 students in these 6 schools. $6,000,000/$2000 = $3,000 per student. Now, divide that by 5 years: $3000/5 = $600. If $600 per student per year is 10% of what we spend means he is saying he thinks we spend $6000/yr. Yeah, you better get in one of your TOY CCSS classrooms and get some more math skills because we all know what a massive lie that just was and we remain dedicated to finding every way we can help these schools succeed.

We want – and expect – that just as Lewis and Booker T. Washington and Eastside have chosen different approaches to helping their students succeed, each of the Priority Schools will develop a plan tailored to its students’ needs. No, you don’t. Please stop this lie about collaboration. You want to spit on these communities. While the state released guidance that’s funny stuff right there to assist Districts in the planning process, we have also accepted alternative ideas proposed by District leaders that accomplish the same objectives. We only insist that their plans include the key elements that are essential to successfully support our most disadvantaged students. ONLY? but what definitions apply to your special word: essential? You must think we can’t read.

What has happened in the Priority Schools over the past decade has not worked. We need a sense of urgency about the fate of our children, recognizing that today, they do not have a fair chance to work their way out of poverty. urgent urgent urgent. You mean so urgent that your boss has lied about them and ignored them until he became a lame duck? Ok, now they’re urgent.

We should find inspiration in the success of schools in our state that have achieved results. And we should expect nothing less for all of our children.

The fill in the blank exercise in the title: CRAP.

Mark Murphy is Delaware’s Secretary of Education and a member of Jeb Bush’s divisive right wing, no-evidence lovin’ Chiefs for Change.

@GovernorMarkell’s close personal friend, David Coleman, is the architect of CCSS

Check out what he thinks about expressing oneself.

Why would a governor, of any state, embrace this concept?

Is DE Chief for Change, Mark Murphy and his merry band of teacher destroyers enforcing DE code using extralegal interpretations?

From a reliable source: it looks like when the hammer comes down, it may not only be illegal, it may empower CSD to make the next move!

Here is the link for the regulations: http://regulations.delaware.gov/AdminCode/title14/100/103.pdf

In addition to the previous information—the only section of the regulations that I know of that provides for consequences of failing to reach an agreement is the failure of reaching an MOU with the DDOE (in 10.3.5): “The district or charter school shall immediately begin negotiating the MOU required by 7.6.1. If the parties to the MOU are unable to agree on the MOU within 120 days, the district or charter school shall select from the Restructuring models found in 7.5.1, 7.5.2, or 7.5.3.”

That section, read in conjunction with these sections:

7.6.1 Districts with a Partnership Zone school and Partnership Zone charter schools shall enter a memorandum of understanding (“MOU”) between the Department and the district or the charter school. The Partnership Zone MOU shall include the following provisions: Selection of one of the models outlined in section 7.6.2; Provisions for regular oversight of the Partnership Zone school by the Department or its designee; For schools at which a collective bargaining agreement governs its employees, a further agreement between and among the district or charter school, the collective bargaining unit, and the Department addressing those subjects, if any, that may inhibit the schools’ successful implementation of its model, including but not limited to: Limitations on hiring, reassigning and transferring covered employees into and out of the Partnership Zone school, such as seniority limitations; The methodology for determining which teachers will be transferred or reassigned as part of the model; Work rules relating to the educational calendar and scheduling of instructional time and noninstructional time, Instructional reform; Professional development requirements and other specialized training; Retention and employment incentives, including performance incentives for effective teachers and principals; and Any other subject required by these regulations to be addressed in the Partnership Zone school’s selected model. In the event the parties are not able to reach the agreement required by within seventy-five (75) days of notice as a Partnership Zone school, each party shall present its last best offer on the areas of disagreement along with a draft agreement, to the Secretary of the Department, who shall accept one of the last best offers, or reject all of them. Should the Secretary reject all offers, the parties shall have thirty (30) days to confer and present the Secretary revised offers for reconsideration
pursuant to this section.

I don’t fully understand how the 75 day requirement and the 120 day requirement square with each other, and I don’t really understand what the regulations allow the DDOE to do if the “revised offers for reconsideration” are rejected after the 30 day period. I certainly don’t see, though, how they could allow the DDOE to force the districts to choose a different “model,” especially if they mean the models outlined in 7.6.2, because that would presumably either force the school to close ( or convert to a charter ( or restart the whole process under the turnaround ( or transformational ( models, depending on the one they did not select. Nothing seems to be authorized in the regulations to be a consequence for the schools for failing to reach a new collective bargaining agreement until the MOU is agreed upon after 120 days, and even for failing to reach an MOU, the district (not DDOE) chooses which restructuring model: “If the parties to the MOU are unable to agree on the MOU within 120 days, the district or charter school shall select from the Restructuring models found in 7.5.1, 7.5.2, or 7.5.3.”

Also, a new collective bargaining agreement is not a requirement of being selected as a Partnership Zone school under the regulations. Unless the ESEA Flexibility Request contains other language, the regulations state that the collective bargaining agreement needs to be renegotiated only for “those subjects, if any, that may inhibit the schools’ successful implementation of its model.”
Here are the proposed regulations that put in all this language, in case it is useful at all:


@DEDeptofEd and @GovernorMarkell sick their TFA pit viper on CSD. #hammer #threatdown #privatize #nokidsinhere

Believe it or not, I feel bad for Dr. Schwinn. One day, she will look back on this time in her life, see the wreckage created and have regrets. So many regrets. Alas, life is about choices. Some even say choice is a panacea. Privatizing Wilmington schools not only won’t help the kids, it will hurt them. Moral bankruptcy of epic proportions is required to execute a plan so devoid of efficacious principles and plans. In other words, it takes the Delaware DOE. Behold the first in what is sure to be multiple threats, all ending in a full throated state takeover by our Jack-booted governor.

Before anyone asks, yes, I do know what I am saying there.