Transparent Christina’s 2011 in review #netDE #RTTT

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Syndey Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 42,000 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 16 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Finishing 2011 strong: Nearly 83,000 hits on Transparent Christina. #netDE

For a niche blog about a niche, albeit important issue, we beat our goal for the year. Here’s how I laid it out last year:

Last year TC set an ambitious goal of 35,000 hits and the loyal readers rose to the occasion and helped break that goal with a final total of 38,095 hits by year end. Who knows what is in store for 2011, but with the Partnership Zone, insane Federal intrusion, and the ever reliable editors at the News Journal, it should be quite a year! Lets go get to the new finish line: 65,000 hits by 12/31/2011!!!!!

So we smashed 65K by almost 18K. Lets go for 120K hits by 12/31/12!!!!!!! All the same reasons apply……LOL.

Thanks to all my loyal readers!!!!! Together we got it done!

DDOE spokesperson confirms non-public meeting to media, school made aware of “delivery concerns” over holiday break! #PZ #RTTT

Another stunning example of how the Delaware Department of Education undermines their own authority and credibility. I am all for the public knowing about the PZ and the progress of it, after all public schools are a public trust. However, common courtesy should not include confirming a meeting with nebulous concerns to a media outlet in advance. No, the failure to be specific beyond “delivery concerns” does not ameliorate the error, it merely exacerbates it.

This is just plain disgusting behavior from what is becoming commonplace from the DDOE and its PIO.

To the hard working faculty, administrators, staff, paraprofessionals, custodians, food services and dedicated volunteers of Glasgow High School: I am so sorry that the DDOE can’t do better and I hope you can finish your winter break on a good note.

To the students and parents of GHS, please come to our next public board meeting on 1/10/12 looking for answers, you deserve them.

 

 

Merry Christmas from DirecTV. #PricingFail #Neflixschoolof MGMTTimingFAIL


 

This Lump of Coal arrived on 12/26/11. Bah Humbug!

 

Dear DIRECTV® Customer,

At DIRECTV, we pride ourselves on delivering the very best technological innovations, programming choices and service offerings. In the last year, we have enhanced your overall television entertainment experience in a number of exceptional ways:  

•    #1 in Customer Satisfaction among all cable and satellite providers*
•   
An unparalleled variety of the best shows, sports, movies and entertainment
•   
More than 170 full-time HD channels, the most of any television provider
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Access to HBO GO® and MAX GO® anywhere with your computer or mobile device
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A smarter, lighting fast HD On-Screen Guide, optimized for HD television
•   
The most full-time 3D channels
•   
Coming Soon…Watch TV on your PC and mobile device with DIRECTV Everywhere

Above all else, we strive to bring you the best selection of movies, sporting events and television channels. Annually, the owners of these TV channels increase the fees they charge to DIRECTV for the right to broadcast their content. As a result, DIRECTV must periodically adjust the pricing and channel lineups of some of our programming packages so that we can keep these channels in your package.  

This year, the programming costs we pay to owners of TV channels will increase about 10%, but we have chosen to adjust the prices our customers pay by an average of only 4%. On February 9, 2012, new pricing will be applied to DIRECTV® programming packages and services. Click here for more complete details.

We look forward to continuing to provide you with the highest quality entertainment, service and value.  Thank you for your business.

Sincerely,

Ellen Filipiak
Senior Vice President of Customer Service

I love the fact that the research based link between fitness and achievement is clear, then DE Rep admits RTTT more important…. @RodelDE #RTTTfail

Study of Delaware kids reinforces link between fitness and student performance DFM News | Delaware First Media

Study of Delaware kids reinforces link between fitness and student performance

 

Studies have long shown that students perform better when they are physically fit. A new study released Friday makes that point specifically about Delaware students.

The research, developed by a partnership between the Delaware Department of Education (DDOE) and Nemours Health and Prevention Services (NPHS) shows students in Delaware schools who are physically active and fit perform significantly better in both mathematics and reading. The study also finds that Delaware students who are less fit not only score lower academically, but also tend toward more disciplinary problems like absenteeism and suspensions.

“First and foremost, this is the first time we’ve had Delaware data on this and that’s important to Delaware residents and Delaware educators to have home-grown data.” said Dave Nichols of NPHS.

The NHPS/DDOE study analyzed physical fitness and educational records of more than 80,000 students for the 2008-09 and 2009-10 school years. Educational data came from scores reported in the Delaware Student Testing Program (DSTP), and physical fitness was measured and recorded through an assessment program known as FitnessGram.

Nichols points at that while the study shows little variation between Delaware students and the national norms, this research goes a step further by ranking student performance on an individual level. He says other states lump results together by school, but the NPHS/DDOE collaboration offers a statewide student snapshot.

“We controlled for race and ethnicity, family income, sex and school district.” said NPHS researcher Robin Brennan, “That gives us a clearer picture of the performance of the students on an individual level.”
The study makes a recommendation that students at the elementary school level get 150 minutes a week of physical activity.

“When students get outside, when they exercise, they do better in school and in life,” said Governor Jack Markell (D) during the announcement of the study’s results at Pulaski Elementary School in Wilmington. Gov. Markell told students assembled in the school’s gym that parents and teachers can help young people make better choices, but in the end their physical fitness, and academic performance are the result of the choices they make.

Study of Delaware kids reinforces link between fitness and student performance

According to John Ray, a physical education specialist for the state’s Department of Education, there are no statewide requirements outlining how much activity schools must provide. But, he points out that the 150 minute benchmark is a standard recommendation from DDOE. That 150 minutes of physical activity a week breaks down to 30 minutes a day.

“One hundred fifty minutes of gym class may be unrealistic,” says Ray, “but creative curriculum, like one class that exercised while doing a spelling lesson can help fill the bill. There are a lot of different ideas out there, because kids like to move.”

“We all know the connection between physical activity and high achievement.” said State Representative Terry Schooley. As chair of the House Education Committee she expects it may be difficult to create a statewide mandate for in-school fitness programs in light of the amount of time being devoted to Race to the Top efforts.

Gov. Markell, however, is clearer in his message. He believes the responsibility for a student’s physical fitness and scholastic excellence falls on the parents and the child, as well as the schools. Markell also suggests it’s best for the individual districts to set their own standards, and he’d like to see them use the study’s recommendations as a guideline.

Obama administration official displays arrogance and obliviousness at alarming levels. #netDE @RodelDe @GovernorMarkell #RTTT #tonedeaf

One word. Lies.

So the state actually called Brandywine before going thermonuclear like they did with CSD? #howNICE #twofaced @GovernorMarkell #LIAR #RTTT #JACKISABULLY

Delaware tells Brandywine schools to make time for teachers to plan | The News Journal | delawareonline.com

The state has threatened to withhold $2.5 million in federal funding from the Brandywine School District because it believes it is not giving teachers enough time to plan how to best educate students.

State Department of Education officials decided to put the school district on notice after it was discovered it failed to properly implement required 90-minute common planning times for high school teachers.

The state has offered to help the school find a way to incorporate the program properly. But if that’s not accomplished by next school year, the district stands to lose its portion of the state’s Race to the Top grant.

State officials say it’s likely the issue will be resolved..…read on at delawareonline.com

Delaware DOE and State Board to host an exclusive meeting on 12/15/11. #FOIA #transparency #stakeholders #netDE

So, a couple a days ago, there was a post on Kilroy’s Delaware titled Is Delaware State Board of Education holding an exclusive dinner? It indicates that Kilroy had received information about an exclusive dinner for district supers and board presidents to the exclusion of other board members. He asked for confirmation from the readership and soon it came pouring in. I joined up by asking additional questions on the supposition that it may be true and others followed my lead.

Then Delaware Ed, the Delawareonline education blog ran a post linking back to Kilroy’s Delaware titled “‘Exclusive’ board meeting in Dover? This post sought to get answers to the allegation made on Kilroy’s Delaware and included some information from DDOE PIO, Alison Kepner as well as an explanation of the meeting as “not an exclusive or secret dinner meeting” after intoning that if it were it would be a “heck of a story”. Later in the post, Delaware Ed goes on to assert “I can’t think of a more accepted way of noticing a meeting than an online public notice and outlining the meeting in state code” after having provided the following links:

code: http://delcode.delaware.gov/title14/c001/sc01/index.shtml#106

agenda: http://calendar.delaware.gov/eGov/Calendar.nsf/futuremeetings/D4C56D00C8E288FD8525795E00534680

So, in the meantime additional comments poured in at Kilroy’s and Delaware Ed with additional links to DOE calendars and SBOE webpages both of which had no reference to the meeting as of 1610 on 12/9/11, less than one week before the meeting. As an aside, when I read the agenda it doesn’t come off as a real meeting but the code is pretty clear about how it must be conducted…more on that later.

Delaware’s open meeting laws dictate the correct process for noticing a public meeting. I have experience with this having joined a fellow board member filing and winning, a FOIA challenge with the state’s attorney general office:

Here is Title 29, chapter 100: http://delcode.delaware.gov/title29/c100/index.shtml which is Delaware’s Freedom of Information Act.

Specifically in § 10004, open meetings, it states:

All public bodies shall give public notice of the type set forth in paragraph (2) of this subsection of any special or rescheduled meeting as soon as reasonably possible, but in any event no later than 24 hours before such meeting. A special or rescheduled meeting shall be defined as one to be held less than 7 days after the scheduling decision is made. The public notice of a special or rescheduled meeting shall include an explanation as to why the notice required by paragraph (1) of this subsection could not be given. Public notice required by this subsection shall include, but not be limited to, conspicuous posting of said notice at the principal office of the public body holding the meeting, or if no such office exists at the place where meetings of the public body are regularly held, and making a reasonable number of such notices available. In addition, all public bodies in the executive branch of state government that are subject to the provisions of this chapter shall electronically post said notice to the designated State of Delaware website approved by the Secretary of State.” 

This brings up a few questions: 1) which website is designated by the Secretary of State for posting meetings under education? Is it the DOE website? If so, it’s not posted there! 2) Is the notice for this meeting posted at the Townsend building since that is the principal office of the SBOE? If no, it’s too late, that pesky 7 day, rule applies.

Moving along, to the core question of exclusivity after throwing the nature and legality of the meeting into possible question:

Today, a contact at the DOE shared this with me:

I am not redacting any part of this message. As a taxpayer, every one of these folks works for me and you or has been invited to have a meal paid for by me and you. This is public record; call it my FOIA express to you, the loyal TC reader:

From: Moore Dani [mailto:dmoore@DOE.K12.DE.US]
Sent: Wednesday, November 16, 2011 3:52 PM
To: Howard.Weinberg@DSEA.ORG; Deborah.Stevens@DSEA.ORG; Paul Herdman; Christina Marconi; sfrancis@edsba.org; yvonne_johnson@verizon.net; Frederika.Jenner@dsea.org; Allen Tara; Baldwin Charles; Brewington Tennell; Browne Lamont; Chambers Kimberley; Draper Pam; Emmett Ed; Fredie Edwin; Hermance Trish; Hughes Charles; Jennings Linda; Lewis Ann; Lopez Waite Margie; Maldonado Sally; Meece Gregory; Oliphant Patricia; Pastis Jacqueline; Perry Jack; Rodriguez Noel; Taylor Charles; Thomas-el Salome; Wintermantel Jack; Canon Casson; Charles Copeland; Charles McDowell; Charlie Wilson; Cote Marc; David Shapley; Donald Mell; Dorothy Sbriglia; George Chambers; Harrie Ellen Minnehan; Irwin Becnel; Jaime Rivera; Joan Coker; Kimeu Boynton; Lamar Boyce; Laura Kirkpatrick; Louis Savino; Ronald Pinkett; Stephen Dressel; William Major; Yardise Jones; 57lakers@mchsi.com; breedingmryan@aol.com; Cooper Patrick J.; delsignal@yahoo.com; Eric Anderson; jaschulties@lf.k12.de.us; jim.collins3@verizon.net; Johnson Julie; juris1@hotmail.com; kathleenhaynes@juno.com; leah.davis@redclay.k12.de.us; lynchjf@verizon.net; Magee Leo; ojohnsonharris05@verizon.net; patrick.emory@msd.k12.de.us; Sbritt34823@comcast.net; suzannefarris@comcast.net; VGunter@wsfsbank.com; Wilkinson Sara; Bunting Susan; Burrows Matthew L; Carson Kevin; Curry Daniel; D. Zych – Polytech; Daugherty Mervin B; Dr. David C. Ring Jr.; Fitzgerald Kevin; Gehrt Vicki; Holodick Mark; Knorr Russell H; Kohel Phyllis; Lathbury Aj; Linn Dorothy; LYLES MARCIA V.; Nave Dorothy; Sharon Gail Kanter; Thomas Michael; Wicks Deborah
Cc: Johnson Donna R; Lowery Lillian; Cruce Daniel; Rogers Linda; Rogers Karen Field; Hodges Amelia; Hickey Catherine T.; Hindman John; Ruszkowski Christopher; Barbara Rutt; Greg Coverdale; Jim Wilson; Jorge Melendez; Pat Heffernan; Teri Quinn Gray; Terry Whittaker
Subject: FW: Dinner Meeting with the State Board of Education and Stakeholders

Please see invitation below.

From: Johnson Donna R
Sent: Wednesday, November 16, 2011 1:00 PM
To: Moore Dani
Subject: Dinner Meeting with the State Board of Education and Stakeholders

Dear Board Presidents, Chief School Officers, Charter School Directors, and Community Stakeholders:

The State Board of Education would like to invite you or your designee to attend a professional development and networking opportunity on Thursday, December 15th at the John W. Collette Center in Dover, DE.  Dinner will be available at 5:00 p.m. with time for networking and open dialogue.  The program will begin at 6:00 p.m.  and conclude at 8:00 p.m.

The topics for this meeting will include: A Race to the Top Update – focusing on Projects within LEA’s and Partnership Zone schools, An update and overview of DPAS II, and a Panel Discussion with Delaware Education Leaders around Building on Education Initiatives.  There will be opportunity for questions and answers throughout the program.

We hope that you will be able to join us for the first of multiple events of this nature that will be hosted by the State Board of Education.

Please RSVP to Dani Moore, 302-735-4010 or dmoore@doe.k12.de.us by December 5th. Due to space and cost restrictions, we have limited this event to the Board Presidents, Chief School Officers, Charter School Leaders, and community stakeholders or their designee.  After the RSVP date we will contact those that have responded to provide additional seats that may be available.

Please see attached agenda

Donna Johnson

Executive Director

State Board of Education

401 Federal Street, Suite #2

Dover, DE  19901-3639

302.735.4010 (T)  302.739.7768 (F)

drjohnson@doe.k12.de.us

 

Well, doesn’t the DDOE PIO look patently silly now? She said among other things that

“*Also, invitations for the dinner were distributed at the November DSBA meeting. If board members are active at DSBA, they were made aware of this back in November. We sent invitations out a month before the meeting so that board members would have the time to discuss who was interested in attending.”

Well, it turns out that 1) The DSBA board of directors meeting was 11/9/11. This invite was dated 11/16/11. Also, not all DSBA participants are Board Presidents. The email above makes it clear: the only LEA board  invitees are board presidents Due to space and cost restrictions, we have limited this event to the Board Presidents, Chief School Officers, Charter School Leaders, and community stakeholders or their designee “. Further, to emphasize the intent to exclude, there is a request for an RSVP: “Please RSVP to Dani Moore, 302-735-4010 or dmoore@doe.k12.de.us by December 5th. Nah, still not exclusive yet, at least not in the eyes of Delaware Ed, which still has the “?” at the top of the post and the language suggesting it is so clearly a public meeting…apparently for no more reason than that it says so on the non-DOE website announcement? In fact, the agenda and the meeting posting are NOT dated as the normal, regular meetings are actually notated for their posting date in order to make sure Title 29, chapter 100 is followed. So why the exception in this case? and more egregiously 2) November 16th is less than one month if even by a day but Ms. Kepner states so “board members would have time to discuss” doesn’t she mean board presidents?…..the both sides of the mouth action on this whole affair is pretty robust right about now…..

 

Why is a state agency, DOE and SBOE scheduling a meeting that code requires must be set up to accomplish this:

(1) Review current state policies and submit recommendations to the Department of Education when appropriate for changes, modifications or deletions;

(2) Study and review planning guides for program improvement of the Delaware Public School System as submitted by the Department of Education and make appropriate recommendations to the Department of Education on legislative and policy implementation; and

Yet have an agenda that speaks to neither? Is this the actual code being cited to justify the meeting? The code also speaks to the composition of the advisory board for this meeting:

There shall be formed an Advisory Board to the Secretary of Education consisting of a representative from each board of education and from each county vocational-technical district, and such additional representatives of educational stakeholder organizations as appointed by the Secretary and the State Board. This Board shall not meet less than twice in any calendar year and the State Board shall participate in such meetings.

So, was this e-mail invitation actually the Secretary’s and BOE’s appointment process? Seems a bit flimsy as an appointment. Also, these meetings are compulsory under code. Did they happen last year? If so, when? With whom? Where are the minutes? Did we not exceed the code capped $1000 ANNUAL expense limit? (The members of the Advisory Board shall receive their actual expenses for 2 dinner meetings per year, but not including travel expenses. The Department of Education shall not expend more than $1,000 for such expenses during any 1 fiscal year.)

In conclusion, it seems quite evident that this meeting was called and designed to be exclusive. Not secret. Exclusive. It fits the definition quite precisely. If I were an invitee, I’d sure think twice about my obligation to open government and I would openly question the motives of the meeting makers and their spokespeople in honoring their obligation to Delaware taxpayers.

When an adult took standardized tests forced on kids. #RTTT #PZ #CRITERIONFIVE #DPASII

When an adult took standardized tests forced on kids – The Answer Sheet – The Washington Post

When an adult took standardized tests forced on kids

This was written by Marion Brady, veteran teacher, administrator, curriculum designer and author.

By Marion Brady

A longtime friend on the school board of one of the largest school systems in America did something that few public servants are willing to do. He took versions of his state’s high-stakes standardized math and reading tests for 10th graders, and said he’d make his scores public.

By any reasonable measure, my friend is a success. His now-grown kids are well-educated. He has a big house in a good part of town. Paid-for condo in the Caribbean. Influential friends. Lots of frequent flyer miles. Enough time of his own to give serious attention to his school board responsibilities. The margins of his electoral wins and his good relationships with administrators and teachers testify to his openness to dialogue and willingness to listen.

He called me the morning he took the test to say he was sure he hadn’t done well, but had to wait for the results. A couple of days ago, realizing that local school board members don’t seem to be playing much of a role in the current “reform” brouhaha, I asked him what he now thought about the tests he’d taken.

“I won’t beat around the bush,” he wrote. “The math section had 60 questions. I knew the answers to none of them, but managed to guess ten out of the 60 correctly. On the reading test, I got 62% . In our system, that’s a “D”, and would get me a mandatory assignment to a double block of reading instruction.

He continued, “It seems to me something is seriously wrong. I have a bachelor of science degree, two masters degrees, and 15 credit hours toward a doctorate.

“I help oversee an organization with 22,000 employees and a $3 billion operations and capital budget, and am able to make sense of complex data related to those responsibilities.

“I have a wide circle of friends in various professions. Since taking the test, I’ve detailed its contents as best I can to many of them, particularly the math section, which does more than its share of shoving students in our system out of school and on to the street. Not a single one of them said that the math I described was necessary in their profession.

“It might be argued that I’ve been out of school too long, that if I’d actually been in the 10th grade prior to taking the test, the material would have been fresh. But doesn’t that miss the point? A test that can determine a student’s future life chances should surely relate in some practical way to the requirements of life. I can’t see how that could possibly be true of the test I took.”

Here’s the clincher in his post:

“If I’d been required to take those two tests when I was a 10th grader, my life would almost certainly have been very different. I’d have been told I wasn’t ‘college material,’ would probably have believed it, and looked for work appropriate for the level of ability that the test said I had.

“It makes no sense to me that a test with the potential for shaping a student’s entire future has so little apparent relevance to adult, real-world functioning. Who decided the kind of questions and their level of difficulty? Using what criteria? To whom did they have to defend their decisions? As subject-matter specialists, how qualified were they to make general judgments about the needs of this state’s children in a future they can’t possibly predict? Who set the pass-fail “cut score”? How?”

“I can’t escape the conclusion that decisions about the [state test] in particular and standardized tests in general are being made by individuals who lack perspective and aren’t really accountable.”

There you have it. In 13 words, a concise summary of what’s wrong with present corporately driven education change: Decisions are being made by individuals who lack perspective and aren’t really accountable.

Those decisions are shaped not by knowledge or understanding of educating, but by ideology, politics, hubris, greed, ignorance, the conventional wisdom, and various combinations thereof. And then they’re sold to the public by the rich and powerful.

All that without so much as a pilot program to see if their simplistic, worn-out ideas work, and without a single procedure in place that imposes on them what they demand of teachers: accountability.

But maybe there’s hope. As I write, a New York Times story by Michael Winerip makes my day. The stupidity of the current test-based thrust of reform has triggered the first revolt of school principals.

Winerip writes: “As of last night, 658 principals around the state (New York) had signed a letter — 488 of them from Long Island, where the insurrection began — protesting the use of students’ test scores to evaluate teachers’ and principals’ performance.”

One of those school principals, Winerip says, is Bernard Kaplan. Kaplan runs one of the highest-achieving schools in the state, but is required to attend 10 training sessions.

“It’s education by humiliation,” Kaplan said. “I’ve never seen teachers and principals so degraded.”

Carol Burris, named the 2010 Educator of the Year by the School Administrators Association of New York State, has to attend those 10 training sessions.

Katie Zahedi, another principal, said the session she attended was “two days of total nonsense. I have a Ph.D., I’m in a school every day, and some consultant is supposed to be teaching me to do evaluations.”

A fourth principal, Mario Fernandez, called the evaluation process a product of “ludicrous, shallow thinking. They’re expecting a tornado to go through a junkyard and have a brand new Mercedes pop up.”

My school board member-friend concluded his email with this: “I can’t escape the conclusion that those of us who are expected to follow through on decisions that have been made for us are doing something ethically questionable.”

He’s wrong. What they’re being made to do isn’t ethically questionable. It’s ethically unacceptable. Ethically reprehensible. Ethically indefensible.

How many of the approximately 100,000 school principals in the U.S. would join the revolt if their ethical principles trumped their fears of retribution? Why haven’t they been asked?