Monthly Archives: August 2012
Originally posted on Kilroy's delaware:
The “public” in public school is “you”! Traditional and charter schools are funded with taxpayer’s money! Taxpayers are YOU!
School boards and school leaders work for “you”! PTA/PTO leaders represent “you”! If they fail to do so you have the POWER to ask them to step down!
Your PUBLIC SCHOOL dollars at work at Pencader Charter High School. @RodelDE @DECharterNetwrk @GovernorMarkell @DEStateBoardED
Wow, just wow.
Now onto all the stuff that tests don’t measure. This result will help us focus on the good start we have made there. Great job to the GHS and Stubbs teams.
Great post, dead on. This is what I hear when I talk to teachers. Makes you wonder who policy makers talk to…
Originally posted on Does Experience Count?:
This response by J.M. Tumbleson to a Diane Ravitch blog post resonated with me. Ravitch wrote recently about a rather chilling experience with a CNN interview. Here is what JMT had to say about an interview question that was based on the belief that teachers are desirous of, in favor of, and actively seeking merit pay or pay for performance plans.
“I work in a city with significant amounts of poverty. I see teachers who work hard, who think hard and who try to collaborate with others in order to constantly improve their practice. Never have I heard any teacher argue for merit pay. They will argue for more planning time, they might argue for more services for their students with various social, emotional or cognitive needs, they might argue for more money for special classroom projects, they might even argue for a longer lunch, but never once have I heard a teacher argue for merit pay. The hundreds of teachers I have known want to work collaboratively and see themselves as having a shared mission in which they play an essential role for the community and for the children. The interviewer has been fed disinformation on what most teachers want, most likely from sources that will monetarily profit from the destruction of the public schools.” August 27, 2012 at 12:24 pm
This is my experience as well. I have spent thousands of hours with hundreds of teachers and other educators, and they never bring up the subject of merit pay. What they want is support, supplies, understanding, and appreciation. They want respect from kids, parents, the wider school community, and the public. They want time to prepare and time to teach; freedom from unfair demands and masses of paperwork; a moratorium on new initiatives; and a realistic and respectful testing program that provides all the right information in a timely and useful manner so that they can improve teaching and learning in meaningful ways. They want to have confidence that our high-stakes tests are actually and thoroughly aligned with their instruction. [This is not true for the current state tests here--they are the ultimate mysterious black box. Teachers have no idea what's on the test; what gets a lot of attention; what to stress during instruction. The instruction is standards-based. The test is standards-based, but with over 100 standards for ELA, do the two align?]
A mission statement is a statement of the purpose of a company or organization, its reason for existing. The mission statement should guide the actions of the organization, spell out its overall goal, provide a path and guide decision making. It provides “the framework or context within which the company’s strategies are formulated.”
I would like to read aloud the Pencader Charter High School mission statement and ask that the Board take a moment to consider if their actions are being guided by this statement and are they doing all that they can to ensure that they and all school staff are following the path put forward by the statement. The mission statement is there to guide decision making and as a framework within which the board and the staff should follow. My question would be, “Is this happening?”
“Welcome to Pencader Charter High School where our traditions of excellence in the education of young men and women of conscience, competence, and compassion are stronger than ever. We continue to emphasize, in all of our endeavors, the themes of excellence, humility and integrity and our students are called to make them a part of their daily life at Pencader.”
As Board members are you doing as you are statutorily required to do, and that is, to manage the school to ensure that all school staff adhere to the school’s mission? That should not be a difficult question to answer, however, I believe it is difficult for some, if not for all of you right now.
Let’s take a quick look at the three themes found in the mission statement:
Excellence: the fact or state of being excellent which means worthy, first rate, very fine, remarkably good, in fact superior;
Humility: the sense of being humble, not proud, not arrogant, unpretentious, and having a modest, yet reasonable sense of one’s self worth;
Integrity: an adherence to moral principles and character; honesty.
Media coverage over the summer has brought these themes to the forefront. What does not think when they hear the name of Pencader Charter High School today? What visual comes to mind?
One year ago we were fighting for the very right for Pencader to remain open, not because of a lack of adherence to Pencader’s mission, but because of human errors and mismanagement of financial resources. I daresay that last summer and throughout most of this past academic year we on the Board worked hard, together with Bill Bentz from Innovative Schools, to right that financial ship and I believe we were successful.
At that time the DOE laid down seven conditions Pencader had to adhere to financially to remain open. We did that. Right now, DOE is measuring Pencader’s value as an institution only by those seven conditions.
However, I submit that the community at large has a far wider and perhaps wiser vision because they are measuring Pencader’s value as an institution by the themes set forth as the school’s mission. Does Pencader today demonstrate to the community excellence, humility and integrity? The answer to that question, sadly, has to be “no.”
A school, unlike a house, is built from the top down. A school is known by its leadership which is the “top” but also serves as its foundation. Think for a moment of the picture that the community now sees of the school and as no other has been shown to them. The community sees what you have shown to them, and that is:
–a leader who misrepresented herself as having a doctoral degree which she has never been able to authenticate
–a leader who concocted a scheme to allow her husband and two other teachers to work full time, collecting a state paycheck and simultaneously collecting a state pension which is illegal. That action has caused your school leader to be referred to the Department of Justice for further investigation of very possibly criminal action
–a leader who lied to the State Pension Board about the three teachers involved in the pension fraud
–a leader who shares with you, the board, only that which she wants you to know, not that which you need to know
And yes, there is more, but how much more is “enough?” How much will it take before you as the Board of Directors takes your school management responsibilities in hand and begins to rebuild this school?
The question is, what are you waiting for? There is always the option of another Formal Review by DOE’s Charter School Accountability Committee. If your inaction results in that I suspect you will not escape whole as we did in the formal review last summer.
Where is the AYP press release promised for AUGUST 1st back in late July? Think we forgot?
***update ***, it’s up today!!!! http://www.doe.k12.de.us/news/2012/0831.shtml
though curious about the Labor Day Weekend lede bury.
** BREAKING NEWS** Red Clay, Cape Henlopen and Seaford intend to apply for RTTT-District monies. More local control, GONE! What a colossal mistake.
Nearly 900 Intents to Apply Submitted For $400 Million Race to the Top-District Competition to Implement Local Reforms
Potential Applicants Include Those from 48 States and the District of Columbia
AUGUST 31, 2012
Contact:Press Office, (202) 401-1576, firstname.lastname@example.org
Today the U.S. Department of Education announced that 893 potential applicants have submitted their intent to apply for the 2012 Race to the Top-District program, which will provide close to $400 million to support local reforms that will personalize learning, close achievement gaps and prepare each student for college and their careers. The response follows the launch of the competition earlier this month.
“I believe the best ideas come from leaders at the local level, and the enthusiastic response to the Race to the Top-District competition highlights the excitement that districts have to engage in locally designed reforms that will directly improve student achievement and educator effectiveness,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “We hope to build on this nationwide momentum by funding districts that have innovative plans to transform the learning environment, a clear vision for reform and a track record of success.”
The Race to the Top-District competition invites applicants to demonstrate how they can personalize education for all students and is aimed squarely at classrooms and the all-important relationship between teachers and students. The competition will encourage transformative change within schools, providing school leaders and teachers with key tools and support in order to best meet their students’ needs.
The Department has posted the list of those who have indicated their intent to apply on its website:www.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop-district. The list includes all those who submitted an intent to apply and does not indicate their eligibility for the competition. The intent to apply is not binding, and the information collected will be used by the Department primarily to develop an efficient process for reviewing grant applications. Potential applicants that did not submit an intent to apply may still apply for funding
The Department plans to support high-quality proposals from applicants across a variety of districts, including rural and non-rural districts as well as those already participating in a Race to the Top state grant and districts not participating. These 4-year awards will range from $5 million to $40 million, depending on the population of students served through the plan. The Department is expecting to make 15-25 awards.
More information can be found at: www.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop-district. Applications are due Oct. 30, with awards being announced no later than Dec. 31, 2012.
It’s round 4 for those counting, and I am thrilled to NOT see Christina on this list! I wonder how the Board votes were for this? (if there even was a board vote…)
Speech from PCHS Board Meeting last night. @DEStateBoardED are you listening? (rhetorical ? of course)
This is was a speech given by a parent/taxpayer at Pencader’s SB meeting last night. It’s redacted to protect them (there isn’t anyone else innocent).
Hello, my name is XXXX, and I am the parent of a 20XX graduate. I am also a homeowner. I pay my school and property taxes every year. I was also there back in 2005 and 2006 when the vision for this school was first shared publicly in a classroom on the U of DE campus.
I hung brochures at my workplace and in neighborhoods to spread the word, hoping to recruit kids before opening day in September 2006. As parents, we were very excited to have an alternative choice in public education for our XXXX. We liked the strong principles, integrity, discipline, and expectations that are part of the school’s mission statement.
While there were some hard times along the way, we always believed in the school. While we had to take some strong stands over the years, we wanted Pencader to succeed. Our hopes were that the school would learn from its past mistakes, and continue to prosper in the future.
Pencader is starting its 7th year, and the bumps in the road have become mountains. I was appalled to read the articles in the News Journal this summer. The current school leader had been portraying that she had a PhD, who signs her name as Dr. XXXX, had really purchased her PhD from an alleged diploma mill. I read that a member of the school board defended her actions, and stated she didn’t need it anyway for her position as school leader.
MRS XXXX said that she would produce the documents proving she earned a valid PhD this past June. Where are they? Why have they not been produced? If I had of worked hard to earn the title of “doctor”, you better believe that I would have had those papers in my hand within the week, and then I would have taken them personally to the NJ.
I would have gone personally to my college, whatever it took to make sure I had the transcript. If I had to walk, run, drive, fly, or row a boat, I would have it by now.
Since that has not happened, we must assume that this was fraudulent behavior. What employer would allow anyone to get away with this? What employer would wait this long for proof? Has there even been an apology? Is there any remorse?
Where is the integrity and honor? How can such a person lead this school and the children that attend it? A business and finance School that teaches an ethics class? It’s no wonder we have a society that does not respect authority or understand what integrity means.
The school leader is one issue, but how does a school board allow this to happen? I ask you, where is your character and integrity? Some of you know how ridiculous this all is, you know right from wrong, you worked hard for your degree, and would never have thought about buying one online. I ask you, where is your backbone?
Judy XXXXX, I have never personally met you, but I know you are a Pencader parent and vice president of the school board, is this legacy what you want your children to follow? To let them know you approved of such fraudulent behavior? If so, why do you expect your children or any child in this school to work for their education?
On another note, there are and will be times students are brought before the school board for disciplinary reasons. What will you do when a student is brought to you for say cheating on an exam or something worse? How are you going to look them in the eye, and discipline them when you see nothing wrong with having leadership that basically has done the same thing?
I have only touched on one issue, but there are many including the pension fraud and other malicious behavior. If you cannot see the depth of wrong in those actions, God help us all.
As a child, I was always told it is never right to do wrong. Two wrongs never make a right, and it is always right to do what is right. What does this model for our children?
Remember the children you represent learn so much more from your actions than they do from what you say.
What will your actions say? If you keep her on board, I believe parents will continue to pull their children from this school, I know I would. I am hearing that the reason this meeting does not have even more families is that they are pulling them out of the school instead of fighting.
What will people say about you in the future? Will they look at you and know that you had the character and backbone to do the right thing? Or will you be known as the ones put your seal of approval on such corruption?
I encourage you to do what is right. The children are watching….
Aside from the failure of PLCs to inspire teachers (at least those I talk to) and the notion that aligning to the Common Core or raising the bar (the almighty mythical bar), the Governor clearly has no interest in looking at the pernicious effects of hyper focus on the closing the achievement gap, as he is locked into the business roundtable driven failure memes of NCLB and RTTT: http://www.nationalaffairs.com/doclib/20110919_Hess.pdf
I’ve decided to rename this video: “Unless You Attend Pencader charter, That Is”. Just watch the whole thing, then when it ends, utter my title and it makes so much sense. Enjoy.
***UPDATE*** Anonymous e-mailed comment:
Could Murphy look any more like a damned stick figure? Not once do they talk actually about kids….developing a love of learning, or any of what really counts. Delaware’s kids are just points on a data sheet. How wonderful!! And Pencader’s kids are stuck somewhere off the graph….big board meeting last night, and where was the school leader? At her “Mountain House” in the Poconos…..!!
but not until a free for all of their own: https://twitter.com/#!/search/realtime/%23JCBOE
final vote was 6-2.
Search Twitter here: https://twitter.com/#!/search/realtime/%23pchs
#pchs news journal took a pic of Abe. He is mad as a hornet. "give me a minute to compse myself"—
Kathy (@mom2aboyngirl) August 30, 2012
#pchs another parent of 12th grader, 10th grader, and a freshman. Wants her kids released. One of her kids missing core classes!—
Kathy (@mom2aboyngirl) August 30, 2012
#pchs grandfather now speaking that his granddaughter was told she could not attend Glasgow because she is locked into Pencader.—
Kathy (@mom2aboyngirl) August 30, 2012
#pchs parent saying she used to call Ann Lewis "doctor". She works for a bank, anyone lying on a resume is fired.—
Kathy (@mom2aboyngirl) August 30, 2012
John Young (@ED_IN_DE) August 30, 2012
#pchs Abe wanted input from an experienced SB member of Christina SD, Elizabeth S. Other members denied her input. Classy.—
Kathy (@mom2aboyngirl) August 30, 2012
#pchs 440 enrollment as of Aug. 4 with at least 8 to be added. Doubt that includes at least 3 pulled by parents today—
Kathy (@mom2aboyngirl) August 30, 2012
She’s the president of the Maryland State Education Association, and she just got suckered into this: http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/oped/bs-ed-teacher-evaluations-20120829,0,7900114.story
There’s excitement in the air for students, parents and educators as schools across Maryland open their doors for a new school year. Students enter new classrooms, parents learn about new expectations for their children, and educators begin another year with a renewed focus on continued academic improvement.
There is an extra layer of excitement this year as new teacher and principal evaluation systems are piloted in each of the state’s 24 school systems. The purpose of these systems is to strengthen the knowledge, skills and classroom practices of educators to improve the achievement of our students. That’s exciting for teachers, because the system focuses on identifying targeted professional development to help educators refine their skills and improve their practice. And it’s exciting for parents and their students, who will benefit from improved conditions for teaching and learning.
While the start of the school year is always special, it’s also a time when we see how much important work lies ahead of us. That is particularly true during this pilot year
The framework for these piloted evaluation systems has been set by meaningful collaboration among Maryland’s teachers, administrators, higher education officials and policymakers through their continuing work on the Council for Educator Effectiveness. This collaboration has continued on the local level. School systems have been encouraged to figure out what works best for their students by refining their own evaluation systems, building off of the Council’s work.
All 24 school systems have been engaged with their teachers and principals, making progress in their collaborative work to develop strong systems. Twenty-one local systems are field testing local evaluation models, while three systems are testing a state model developed by the Council. While there are important local differences, every system is placing a critical emphasis on improving student performance as part of the evaluation system. We expect to learn a great deal from this year’s field test, just as we did from the initial pilots held last year in Baltimore, Charles, Kent, Prince George’s, Queen Anne’s and St. Mary’s Counties, and Baltimore City. Those pilots reinforced our belief that we need strong, multiple measures for gauging educator effectiveness, and that our professional development system must be individualized for the varying needs of Maryland teachers and principals.
These new evaluation systems have the potential to improve teaching and learning in all of Maryland’s schools. To realize this potential, we must take what we learn from this year’s field test and discuss different approaches to student and professional growth. We’ll need to learn what works best for educators and students and encourage the best teaching and learning conditions as we prepare for the 2013-14 school year.
Teaching is extremely complex, and measuring teaching is even more complex. Maryland is among a number of states currently engaged in this work. We will need to work together — at the state level, the district level, and the school level — to make sure that these systems are aimed at continually improving skills that will lead to improvements for students. We’re not building a system that uses a single test score to measure (or fire) teachers and principals, but a system that builds teacher and principal expertise and student success.
We also know that we’ll need to keep tweaking and improving these systems far beyond this year. In the coming years, Maryland will implement a new state curriculum — the Common Core — and new assessments. We must make sure that our evaluation systems and measurements work smoothly with these new pieces of the puzzle.
These new evaluation systems can help move Maryland’s already outstanding, No. 1-ranked public school system to the next level: a truly world-class school system. We won’t get there without a great deal of hard work. And we won’t get there without the collaboration, flexibility, ingenuity and innovation that we encourage in all of Maryland’s classrooms and students.
Lillian Lowery is Maryland’s state superintendent of schools. Betty Weller is president of the Maryland State Education Association.
Betty, if you would like to know the depth of the waters into which you just swam, feel free to give me a call: 219.308.5338
Meanwhile at Pencader…
The likelihood of more revelations about internal business practices of their illegal board and HR practices is high. And soon, it surely seems. The result will be further evidence of DDOE malpractice, as if more is even needed.
“Teachers focus on what is particular within their own classrooms; reformers focus on what is universal across many classrooms. Teachers operate in a setting dominated by personal relations; reformers operate in a setting dominated by abstract political and social aims. Teachers draw on clinical experience; reformers draw on social scientific theory. Teachers embrace the ambiguity of classroom process and practice; reformers pursue the clarity of tables and graphs. Teachers put a premium on professional adaptability; reformers put a premium on uniformity of practices and outcomes.” [ii]
In being unable to see the world from teachers’ perspectives, policymakers intent upon transforming how teachers teach and students learn have a serious credibility problem in mobilizing teachers to support their reform agenda. And without teacher support for reform-driven policies, few significant changes will occur in daily lessons.
Originally posted on Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice:
I read Rick Hess’s books and blog. He is clear, crisp, and provocative in his positions. A former social studies teacher and professor, he is Resident Scholar and Director of Education Policy Studies at the American Enterprise Institute. He frequently comments on parental choice, educational philanthropy, accountability, teacher unions, and scads of other hot topics in the federal, state, and district policy arena.
Recently, he wrote two posts on his Education Week blog carping at “educators” who complain about standards, testing, and accountability policies. He advises them to stop asking policymakers for more money, work more closely with decision-makers, and be constructive in their suggestions.
What struck me about these two posts on policy was the narrow truth of what he had to say about the goals of policymakers, the limited tools they have, and how they would welcome responsible criticism. I say “narrow” because nowhere does Hess mention or consider the biases policymakers have–they live in a different world than practitioners do–and the errors they make in their assumptions and thinking about schools, teaching, and learning.
Quickly becoming one of my favorite blogs, Teacher Under Construction, brings the heat.
Originally posted on Teacher Under Construction:
Last month I had the great opportunity to speak on a Save Our Schools webinar, “Elevating Student Voices: Sparking the Movement for Our Future.”
Prior to the webinar, I wanted to not only provide my student voice, but other student voices that often go unheard. Particularly, I wanted to bring a new perspective to standardized tests and opting-out. The question I had was, “Why Do Students Not Opt Out?” Many students would agree that standardized tests are not an accurate measurement of their intelligence, or all of what their mind is capable of, so why give into a measurement tool that claims to?
Originally posted on @ THE CHALK FACE:
Why is it that Michelle Rhee, Arnie Duncan and all the other reformers are able to lie to the media about school reform? Why did Randi Kaye treat Dr. Diane Ravitch like a second class citizen on CNN?
Or like I said to Dr. Diane Ravitch on @ the Chalk Face internet radio..
“Let’s start right in. So those of us engaged in this struggle already understand that ‘Reform’ as defined by Michelle Rhee, Arnie Duncan and others hurts children, teachers and communities. It is a fact.