Happy Holidays! Goodbye 2010, bring on 2011!!!


A basic disclaimer: all opinions below are mine and in no way represent the opinions of the Christina School District Board of Education of which I am merely one member.

As 2010 comes to a tumultuous and furious close in the world of education in Delaware, I wanted to share some thoughts about 2010 and what I look forward to in 2011.

First, I am thankful for all of the hardworking, dedicated professionals in the Christina School District and all they do to help our students succeed. We truly have some of the best administrators and teachers in Delaware serving our kids. When it comes to support, the custodians, paraprofessionals, food service, librarians, facilities, bus drivers, and secretaries are the ones who make sure we run smoothly so we can keep our focus where it belongs. For all employees, I am sincerely grateful and wish each and every one a great holiday season!

Education in Delaware is a contact sport of late and I want to acknowledge a few things about where CSD is and may be going as we approach the New Year. As many who follow this space know, I am no fan of the Federal usurpation of local control vis-à-vis competitive grants that make for a tawdry landscape of winners and losers amongst our kids. That said, the DOE has somewhat masterfully, if not brutally, bent DE code to enforce that DE is going to make deep changes to how poor performing schools will be addressed. I remain less than enthusiastic about the prospects for success, but have made some decisions about how I intend to help Christina’s schools perform at the best in this new order.

I believe the Board of Education in Christina is ready to embrace a radical approach to fixing our schools that need help. For me, that means lending the most sincere and considered approach to having the DOE as friends in the process.  Understand this: friends can only be true if they are willing to submit to blistering criticisms from time to time. If the DOE and Christina hope to make Glasgow and Stubbs two models of excellence, we must negotiate our differences and get to the work of helping our students succeed.

This means may things to many people. To me it means that equity is critical and different for every student. Excellence is not. Christina will need to DOE to help us travel down the new road laid out by DCAS and lend maximum support (read $$). In the absence appropriate resources, success will not stand a chance. In the presence of adequate resources, much else will still be needed to succeed. Examples of “much else” include but are not limited to: outstanding leadership, professional development, effective governance, and genuine collaboration of stakeholders. I am committing that I intend to help CSD hold up our end of the bargain on all of those fronts. The Board of Education has recently embarked on several transformative initiatives. I am hopeful that trend will continue in 2011 and am further hopeful that the current BOE, which has 3 seats up for election in May 2011 will remain on its current trajectory of liberating Christina from its unfortunate reputations in student achievement and other operational deficiencies. These have been in decline over a number of years for a variety of reasons in my opinion, but we have begun to apply the brakes. I hope to see Christina find a path to travel upon that has the DOE with us. During this journey, I intend to keep the DOE  honest with sometimes brutal criticism and I hope keep the corporate interests as far away from CSD as possible.

I am most proud in 2010 of our complete, ideological repudiation of our previous code of conduct based on the flawed tenets of zero tolerance, the passing of a new board policy sanctioning the digital recording of board meetings, and the recent decisions to assert local control in personnel contract issues. I still believe the strategic plan needs considerable revisions going into 2011 to react to the new landscape of Delaware education and that the BOE has considerable work to continue in revising our own governance manual to allow the BOE to be as nimble and deft as is necessary in the future. Finally, we must find a way to have the DOE and CSD be better partners in 2011 and I intend to work very hard to make this the strongest district in the state with their help! It should be an exciting 2011 in CSD!

On a personal note, I have finished my classwork for my MBA at the University of Delaware and will walk on 1/9/11. I would like to thank my wife, son and parents for their support and my fellow board mates for understanding why I did not always have time for evening commitments on occasion. I will end by posting two videos that I find highly allegorical and related to my motivations….This will be my last blog post of 2010! I need my rest because 2011 will be off to the races when Dr. Lowery approves PZ plans for our two schools and we get down to business! See ya next year!

and this  one….




Delaware Statewide Programs: FROM THE DIRECTOR

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Feliz Navidad!

Live From Daryl’s House – a monthly free live performace webcast feauring Daryl Hall. A monthly Internet webcast featuring Daryl Hall playing along with some of his friends and colleagues in an intimate setting.

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Feliz Navidad!, posted with vodpod

School Board Elections: Christina has 3 seats up in 2011.

Christina School District: 2011 School Board Election

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Christina School District

2011 School Board Election

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Nominating District “B”: Term expires June 30, 2016

Nominating District “C”: Term expires June 30, 2013

Nominating District “F”: Term expires June 30, 2016

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Absentee Voting

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Well Harry Ried tried…..Duncan get his way with unqualified teachers….#EDreformHYPOCRISY

John Affeldt: Congress Lowering Standards for Teachers; Hiding Truth from Poor, Minority Parents


As I reported on this blog last Thursday and updated since, Congress seems ready to lower the standard of teacher owed every child in the country — particularly impacting children in poor and minority communities — and to hide that fact while they’re at it.

Slipped in at the 11th hour into the Continuing Resolution to fund the government, the provision at issue proposes to call novice teachers still learning how to teach in alternative preparation programs on nights and weekends “highly qualified” under No Child Left Behind (NCLB). That designation relieves districts of having to tell parents of the teachers’ sub-par preparation and allows their continued concentration in poor and minority schools.

Pushed by Teach for America so that they can continue to operate business as usual, it appears more important to Congress to change the law to accommodate TFA than to ensure the equity provisions of NCLB operate as intended. Alternate route trainees (only a few percent of which are actually from TFA) are disproportionately concentrated in low-income, high minority schools despite NCLB’s requirement that teachers lacking full credentials be equitably distributed across schools.

The problem is that actual parents and students in schools where these alternative route trainees teach don’t want their classrooms to be the exclusive training grounds. They also want the disclosures that NCLB promises as to which teachers have been fully prepared to teach their children and which haven’t.

Secondly, serious concerns have been raised by researchers about exposing children to a churn of these novice teacher-trainees in low-income schools–both because these teachers on average do not seem to produce the same achievement gains that fully-trained teachers do (i.e., those who have graduated from traditional or alternative preparation programs like TFA) and because the interns are churning through and not staying around for the long haul.

And that will be the biggest loss under NCLB if amended: states and districts will be relieved of having to develop policies that attract and retain fully-prepared teachers to the neediest schools. Instead, they can continue to maintain the status quo of having so-called “highly qualified” alternative route trainees learn on poor peoples’ children–and then move on.

Of course, these same parents and students want Congress to enact new laws requiring states and districts to evaluate teachers for effectiveness and to equitably distribute effective teachers too. But it’s not an either or proposition, especially since effectiveness cannot meaningfully be measured for two to three years in. Parents want their child’s new teacher to be adjudged fully-prepared and ready to teach on day one.

Responding to some of these concerns which were noted by Valerie Strauss in her Washington Post blog today, Senator Tom Harkin, Chairman of the Senate Committee that covers education, issued the following statement:

“There is broad, bipartisan agreement among members of Congress and the Obama administration that it is the intent of Congress for alternative-route teachers to be considered highly qualified, consistent with the regulation that has been in place for several years. Chairman Harkin strongly believes that teacher quality is essential to student success, and intends to address this issue as part of a comprehensive ESEA reauthorization. While that process is underway, the 9th Circuit’s decision – which reverses a previous court ruling in favor of the regulation – could cause significant disruptions in schools across the country and have a negative impact on students. Maintaining current practice is a temporary solution, and underscores the need to act quickly and reauthorize ESEA early in the next Congress.”

Senator Harkin’s statement fails to acknowledge that what the courts have called an illegal expansion of the “highly qualified” teacher definition has never been part of the law, and was rejected by Senator Kennedy and Congressman Miller early on. To write what was an illegally expansive regulation into law will be a major change from the past. To permit a teacher who may have only just enrolled in preparation to be called “highly qualified” before they have met any training standards defies common sense. To visit those underprepared teachers disproportionately on low-income students and students of color — and on special education students who are among those most often taught by underprepared teachers — and then hide that fact from parents and the public under a “highly qualified” moniker flies in the face of the equity, transparency and accountability that NCLB and our leaders apparently stand for.

The fear of “significant disruptions” in the teaching force has no basis, as the court case is currently being appealed and no classroom assignments will be upset mid-year. Furthermore, where there are needs, schools will continue to hire less-than-highly-qualified teachers, as is the case in several hundred thousand classrooms today. NCLB permits such teachers to continue to be employed as long as they fill shortage areas, are publicly disclosed and equitably distributed.

If this were just about enacting a “temporary solution” to avoid short-term disruptions, the language would not seek to modify the highly qualified teacher definition for the next 2½ years. Instead, it has now become more important to maintain the status quo of using poor and minority schools as the proving grounds for these trainee teachers than enforcing teacher equity as NCLB called for and as parents are demanding.

There is a real disruption here — and it’s been to the democratic process. Significantly modifying the standard of teacher quality owed every child in the nation is not something that should happen at the close of session, in the dead of night, behind closed doors in an appropriations bill, but where it is supposed to — in the light of day during the ESEA reauthorization, with time for deliberation and public input.

[Update: 12/21/10: As expected, the Senate and House enacted the Continuing Resolution today. Congressman George Miller issued a statement explaining his vote in favor of watering the down the highly qualified teacher standard he played a significant role in writing. Miller maintained the vote was necessistated by the possible “major and unpredictable disruptions to schools across the country” if the 9th Circuit’s decision were to be implemented. Both Harkin and Miller have now referred to disruptions without articulating just what these disruptions are. As I explained to Congressman Miller’s staff on Monday, no disruptions are anywhere on the horizon given the status of the case on appeal and the desire of all parties to avoid any “disruptions.” Certainly no imminent disruptions have been identified that warrant enacting this significant amendment to the ESEA without proper public processes and deliberation.]

[Disclosure: I am the lead plaintiffs’ counsel in Renee v. Duncan, the case that produced the recent 9th Circuit decision striking down the Department of Education’s regulation awarding highly qualified status to teacher trainees.]


The Day the S.E.C. Changed the Game – The New York Times

An audio recording from 2004 shows levity, even laughter, as the S.E.C. made a little-noticed, but fateful change to rules governing the five largest U.S. investment banks.


The News Journal Editorial Board shows the world why it has no business offering opinions on Education. #RTTT #DSEA #fail #edreform

My Comments in RED.

Christina teachers, district must iron out differences | delawareonline.com | The News Journal

All the players agree, at least in public, that the idea of making our schools better is for the sake of the children(who doesn’t?).

So far, Delaware’s various interests have been able to come together on that point (100% false: the DOE and Governor along with WSFS CEO and Rodel have pushed an agenda of reform with almost zero meaningful stakeholder input). And it certainly is a big reason why the state was awarded the federal Race to the Top money.(This is correct, and so disappointing)

Part of Delaware’s plan was to identify and then turn around the schools in most need of help.(Yes, but only using Federally prescribed plans based on failed strategies from Chicago which are failing to this day…see Renaissance 2010)

Four schools have been identified. The Department of Education then asked the school administrations and the teachers to come up with turn-around plans (100% false: The DOE asked the district to come up with the plan and for the district to work out a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the teachers to execute whatever plan it created within these four fatally flawed models). The next step is checking the plans and making the schools better. If the plans are unacceptable, the state will step in to fix them.

Two of the schools, so far, are on target (Proof? The fact that DOE says they are OK? The fact that the NJ did not pen an article on their plans? Do you even know how or why their plans have any chance of success?) . Two are not (There is no win here if you would engage in basic rudimentary analysis).

The two that are not (the fact that our Union did not sign is proof positive that they are concerned…with EXCELLENT reasons about the ability of these plans to be successful and treat its educators as professionals) are in the Christina School District. Now, the district’s education association has found fault with the administration’s proposed fix (FALSE: they have simply asked to be respected and if the NJ Ed board would do their job they would ask questions and find answers,,,, I sure do  wish the editorials would aspire to do the work Nichole did to get the story right///AND the administration’s proposed fix is guided once again by four fatally flawed turnaround models, as such, it has innumerable faults).

This is troubling (Why? Because a prominent advertiser at the News Journal is upset?). The Delaware State Education Association has worked closely with the Department of Education (Certainly much closer than they should in many peoples estimation), the school districts and the business community (What in the WORLD are they doing in this space…banks have destroyed our economy and used the SEC to do it!!!!!) in developing a method to better education in the state (says who? you?). The philosophy is a simple one: Teachers want better schools, too. This cooperation works better than the antagonism setting off sparks in neighboring New Jersey (hey hey we agree here!, Christie is a poor leader in education).

We are not privy to the internal differences between the Christina teachers(yet feel compelled to jump in..nevermind…I know why…) and the district administration or where the sticking point is. We do know that it would behoove (why?, a real reason please….why?) both sides to get it right.