Campaign finance filing. CSD School Board Election: 5/8/2012

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Candidate:   Harris, Valene     for School Board Member
Candidate Party:   Non-Partisan
Candidate Committee Name:   Val Harris for Christina School Board
Report Year:   2012
Election Type:   Others
Report Type:   8 Day
Amendment:   No
Date Received Contributor Name Contributor
Contributor Address Aggregate
2012-04-11 Eugene Julian Individual 104 Windward Road Wilmington, DE 19807 $200.00       $200.00        
2012-04-15 Joseph Schell Individual 1604 Bay Avenue Lewes, DE 19968 $600.00       $600.00        
2012-04-07 Marvin Schoenhals Individual 500 Delaware Ave Wilmington, DE 19801 $300.00       $300.00        
2012-04-07 R. Ted Weschler Individual 1341 Chesnut Ridge Farm Rd Charlottesville, VA 22901 $600.00       $600.00        
2012-04-05 Rodman Ward Individual 4001 Valley Green Road Wilmington, DE 19807 $500.00       $500.00        
2012-04-24 The PAC PAC 1201 N. Orange St, Ste 200 Wilmington, DE 19801 $600.00       $600.00        
2012-04-20 Voices 4 Delaware Education PAC 100 W. 10th St. Ste 106 Wilmington, DE 19801 $600.00       $600.00        
Total Receipts In Excess of $100   $3,400.00        
Total Receipts Not In Excess of $100   $300.00        
Grand Total Receipts   $3,700.00        
Date Expended Payee Name Payee Mailing Address Reason Aggregate
2012-04-18 Alpaca Signs & Designs P.O. Box 1186, Middletown, DE 19709 Advertising and Publicity $535.00         $535.00        
Total Expenditures In Excess of $100   $535.00        
Total Expenditures Not In Excess of $100   $146.93        
Grand Total Expenditures   $681.93   

@GovernorMarkell delivers on his promise to tie student test scores to teacher consequences despite dearth of evidence connecting it to student outcomes.

Here are the two documents issued to our teachers today by our departing Secretary of Education.

1st the email:

From: <<>>

Date: May 30, 2012 4:22:32 PM EDT

Subject: An important message from the Secretary

As the school year nears its end, let us first thank you for the incredible work you’ve done in the past year.  We are in a time of exciting change for the benefit of our students –that change does not happen without some nervousness and some challenges, and we are incredibly grateful for your continuing commitment.

We write now to provide you with information regarding how Component V (Student Growth) will be measured during this current development year.  We want to provide two reminders in this regard:

    Component V is being measured during this development year using only DCAS results, and only for teachers in DCAS grades and subjects.  No other teachers will receive a Component V calculation this year.

    Even for teachers in DCAS grades and subjects, the Component V measure will not impact the summative rating, unless it is used to qualify him/her for a “Highly Effective” rating.

This document ( provides more details regarding this year’s DCAS Component V calculations.  We thank you for your patience as we have been putting the details behind this policy.  Our work has been guided by four principles.  The method we developed had to be:

•    Fair

•    Transparent

•    Easy to understand

•    Respectful of the profession, providing a foundation for our teachers and administrators to work together around a central focus of student academic growth.

Our work also was guided by critical feedback from all of you.  We heard your concerns, and together with the principles above, designed the current system.  We would like to briefly share with you a few of the concerns we heard from you and that we worked hard to address in our Component V DCAS calculation:

    Teachers should be evaluated based on the performance of the students they teach in the subject they teach.  Therefore, as was announced in January, Component V will not include a school-wide measure of student achievement, nor will it assign DCAS performance to non-DCAS teachers.  This Component V policy holds true this year and going forward.

    Teachers should be evaluated based on the work that they do to advance student academic growth – not based on proficiency levels that do not fully take into account academic growth.  Every child should enter school with the expectation of learning and growing academically.  Our teachers work toward this goal.  Therefore, Component V ratings will be based on the academic growth our students achieve.  Using a proficiency-based approach to evaluate teachers rather than a growth-based approach does not value the work teachers do every day to meet the needs of all of their students, whether the students are currently performing at high levels or low levels.  It creates an unfair rating system because of the variations of performance levels in our classrooms, and it creates a disincentive for teachers to teach our students who struggle the most.

    Our Component V measure should not create disincentives for teachers to teach students will additional challenges.  We know that students show different levels of growth on the DCAS depending on the level of proficiency at which they start the school year, and we also know that students with disabilities and students who are English language learners often grow at different rates than non-SWD/ELL students.  Given that, we refined our method to set differentiated growth targets for students, depending on their fall DCAS scores and their SWD/ELL status.

Validating and honoring the work our teachers do every day to advance student achievement matters, and we believe it is our collective role to advance this work through an evaluation system.  Thank you again for your patience and assistance in this work. We know we share the same goal: providing a strong education to all of our students and ensuring each child graduates our system college and career ready. If you have any questions or would like more information, please contact public information officer Alison Kepner at<>.



Lillian M. Lowery

Secretary of Education


Mark Murphy

Incoming Secretary of Education

Here are the corresponding DOCS, they are a bit dense, but what strikes me most is the utter lack of certainty for a process that has been worked on some accounts 400, now we are hearing 600 educators. I think this is code for it’s your eval, not ours, so deal with it.  That said, principal’s can change rating in the 35-50 % of targets hit range using guidelines, drum roll please, NOT YET AVAILABLE. Also, unsurprisingly, but also absolutely insanely you can get favorable ratings on  all of the first 4 components, but the test score growth metric will sink your entire evaluation. Conversely, you can fail all 4 components I-IV, pass 5 and CAN NOT be rated INEFFECTIVE. I’ll go ahead and say what no one else will: this begs bad teachers to cheat. They are already bad, but can escape consequence by student TEST growth.

Holes abound, evidence and logic are in short supply. Read for yourself:

Link to all DE Flexibility documents!

Originally posted on Kilroy's Delaware:

Tune into the Rick Jensen Show on WDEL @ 3 p.m.. Kilroy’s Delaware and Transparent Christina will be on-air guests. I have a hunch afterwards the WDEL  program manager will have Rick Jensen rush to the state hospital. A 10 second delay will be put in place in case Kilroy says the F-word.

The topic will be NCLB and the NCLB waivers.

You may consider going to to listen in via the internet. Otherwise you might need to have you kid climb on the house with coat-hanger wired to the family radio. That 5 watt radio transmitter on Shipley Road can barely get a signal out to Route 202.

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High-stakes testing protests spreading by Valerie Strauss #WAPO

From Washington Post, here:

High-stakes testing protests spreading


Opposition to high-stakes standardized testing is growing around the country, with more parents choosing to opt their children out of taking exams, more school boards expressing disapproval of testing accountability systems and even a group of superintendents joining the fight.

Just last month I wrote about the growing resistance, noting that it wasn’t yet full-fledged but that it seemed to be picking up steam. It has and still is.

A national resolution protesting high-stakes test that was released in April already has support from more than 300 organizations and more than 8,000 individuals.


That petition is based on a resolution that has been passed now by about 520 local school boards in Texas — including Houston, the home of the so-called “Texas miracle” that launched the high-stakes testing era. Those school boards represent more than 40 percent of the state’s students. It was the Texas education commission, Robert Scott, who earlier this year made news by saying publicly that the mentality that standardized testing is the “end-all, be-all” is a “perversion” of what a quality education should be. He recently announced that he was resigning.


Here’s more of what’s going on, from Monty Neill, executive director of the non-profit National Center for Fair & Open Testing, known ass FairTest:

*Testing errors, such as the notorious “Pineapple story” in New York and the “I have a secret” writing prompt in New Jersey have further roiled the waters. “Pineapple” was just one of more than 20 mistakes on the New York exams. The impact was intensified because New York’s tests are now kept secret. Until recently the state made its questions and answers public after administering them. Under its new contact with test-maker Pearson, however, they are secret, as they are in most states. Teachers face severe sanctions for revealing scores, but students and their parents have been revealing the flaws.

*In New York, parents are organizing to boycott the June administration of a “try out” test. Students will answer experimental questions so Pearson can select items for future tests, perhaps to be used in multiple states for more profits, as was “Pineapple.” The company already had included experimental questions on the May state tests.


Opting out is not new. Boycotts grew in states such as Massachusetts when increased testing began under No Child Left Behind. Attaching high stakes to them, such as graduation and school sanctions, quieted the revolt. Students needed to pass to graduate and schools that did not test enough students would automatically fail. Still, in states such as Colorado, steady work by groups such as the Coalition for Better Schools has produced growing numbers of opting out parents. And in Snohomish, Washington, 550 parents held their children out, and they are working to spread the refusal to other communities.

and finally

You can see the list of signers – and add your endorsement – at the resolution home page

* In Florida, two county school boards voted to support the national resolution: Palm Beach (the nation’s 11th largest) and Saint Lucie.

* More media attention is being paid to the emerging testing revolt. In Florida, for example, stories have proliferated in newspapers and on television. Editorials and columnists have denounced the state’s testing policy. Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal, CNN and MSNBC  are among the major outlets providing coverage (as well, of course, as this blog). Nat Hentoff headlined his column for Southern Standard, “Parents rebel against standardized tests.”

If this keeps up, even President Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan are going to have to notice.

ESEA NCLB Flexibility waiver madness!!!!

h/t: Children and Educators First.


Breaking News! Feds grant ESEA Flexibility waiver, DE to reduce CELL size FROM n=40 TO n=30

Impact on subgroups is 11.62 additional subgroups in reading, 12.51% in math, and a 39.39% – 53.23% increase in Special Education subgroups. This is going to literally create more cells in more schools for more “accurate” tracking!


Once again, DDOE moves the goal posts so that no two years data can be compared, thus creating a “new frontier”of data analysis each year that is disclaimed almost in its entirety as invalid due to its incomparable nature. A status  which the agency assigned to compare the data creates itself! GENIUS!

@GovernorMarkell on lobbying reform. #netDE

From News Journal Report, here:|topnews|text|Home

Markell, a former two-term state treasurer who became governor in January 2009, took some action on his own, issuing an executive order within days of taking office that forbids about 75 top officials – Cabinet members, division directors and his executive staff – from accepting any gift from a lobbyist.

The gift ban did not, however, cover tickets and meals at Chamber of Commerce dinners and other trade-association receptions, or any meal worth less than $40.

Markell said chamber dinners, receptions and cocktail parties that cost less than $40 per person would be permitted because “it’s important for my people to be out there dealing with them. In my opinion, there’s a big difference between a chamber dinner and a Phillies game or Disney on Ice.”

No Governor Markell, they are the same, and the one you deem important is doing grave damage to our state as a small, monied elite, set policy agenda for all of us.

Then this doozy slamming his own party’s Representative Kowalko:

As to criticism that the administration is offering the public a paltry meal, Markell offered this: “I am not going to throw Representative Kowalko a bone by using a meat metaphor. But instead of having this thing on a menu that might not happen we actually served up legislation that will become law.”

So, taking the easy way out is a solution? It is precisely this piecemeal approach that is hurting many of Governor Markell’s initiatives

Rep. Kowalko fires back at Greg Harris from Voices 4 Delaware Education in today’s News Journal.

Full letter here:|newswell|text|Opinion|s&nclick_check=1

How many school board meetings has Mr. Harris or any members of Voices 4 Delaware Education attended? I have attended well over 150 Christina Board meetings and have seen many of the same engaged parents, teachers, administrators and union officials spending the four or so hours educating themselves on the reality of public education needs and process at these meetings.

Originally posted on Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice:

As a result of inhabiting a different world than teachers, policymakers make a consequential error. They and a cadre of influentials confuse teacher quality with teaching quality, that is, the personal traits of teachers—dedicated, caring, gregarious, intellectually curious—produce student learning rather than the classroom and school settings. Both are important, of course, but policymakers and their influential camp followers have accentuated personal traits far more than the organizational and social context in which teachers teach daily. So if students score low on tests, then who the teachers are, their personal traits, credentials, and attitudes come under close scrutiny, rather than the age-graded school, neighborhood demography, workplace conditions, and resources that support teaching. The person overshadows the place.[i]

In attributing far more weight to individual teacher traits rather than seriously considering the situation in which teachers teach policymakers and civic and business leaders end up having a cramped…

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Originally posted on Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice:

The issue of change as perceived by individual teachers and by a researcher poses a dilemma for the researcher. I was a researcher at Las Montanas high school for two years to study their 1:1 laptop program. I had also been at the school in 1998-1999 when the school had a computer lab program.

At Las Montanas between 2008-2011, for example, It was clear to me—and data I collected from student surveys, the media center sign out sheets for mobile carts, and extensive classroom observations confirm this point—that frequency and pervasiveness of technology use (e.g., PowerPoint lectures, Interactive White Boards, clickers, students taking notes, doing digital worksheets, and viewing video segments) had increased substantially since 1998-1999 albeit unevenly across academic subjects.

Moreover, most of the academic subject teachers I surveyed and interviewed told me that they had, indeed, made changes in how they prepared lessons and used electronic devices for administrative…

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Bully Bravado Masks Inexperience, No Expertise, and Hypocrisy from Schools Matter

Full article here:

Bully Bravado Masks Inexperience, No Expertise, and Hypocrisy

Presidents, Secretaries of Education, Governors, and State Superintendents of Education historically and currently have used their bully pulpits to speak to and directly influence public education in the U.S. and in each state. In the twenty-first century, billionaires, millionaires, athletes, and celebrities have increasingly joined those political leaders by adopting education as their hobby. Among all of these elites, several patterns expose their combined failure to understand the problems facing and solutions needed for education—despite their elitist status that allows them power and prestige in the education debate. Those patterns expose these leaders’ hypocrisy and lack of credibility and include the following:

• Most of these leaders experienced educational advantages unlike the schools they hope to create by dismantling public schools. Bill Gates, Arne Duncan, and Mitt Romney, for example, enjoyed the luxury of low student-teacher ratios, but claim class size doesn’t matter (although class size does matter). The hypocrisy of the “no excuses” reformers reveals that these people living in privilege have a different standard for other people’s children.

• Most of these leaders have never taught a day in their lives, and have no background in education other than their appointments and self-proclamations as educators. Sal Khan—like Duncan, Gates, and the governors across the nation—for example, has been anointed “educator” and “innovator” without having ever taught, without holding any degrees in education.

• Most of these leaders have either a weak or nonexistent grasp on the current knowledge and research-base for teaching and learning. Further, like Christie, when these reformers call on evidence, they either cherry-pick, distort, or misrepresent the data. Recently, Superintendent Zais (SC) discounted paying teachers for years of experience or advanced degrees since, as he claimed, those two characteristic do not correlate positively with higher student test scores. But Zais does endorse merit pay, value-added methods of teacher evaluation, charter schools, and vouchers/tuition tax credits—all of which have the same correlation with higher student test scores as his claim about experience and advanced degrees.

Sound familiar Delaware?

The 1950s come to Jackson, MS, if you’re under age 13 that is.

Sometimes we get overwrought with what DE policy does to our schools. Then we read stories like this:–abc-news-topstories.html

Public schools in Jackson, Miss., will no longer be allowed to handcuff students to poles or other objects, under a settlement with the Southern Poverty Law Center reached in U.S. District Court.

Jody Owens, director of the Mississippi office of the Southern Poverty Law Center, said the Capital City Alternatives school in Mississippi’s largest district  must immediately stop handcuffing students, a practice used to punish even such things as dress-code violations.

“The focus should be education, not incarceration and it’s tantamount to child abuse when children are handcuffed to railings for something as simple as not having the appropriate belt or inappropriate shoe strings,” Owens said.

The way students had been disciplined in the school was abusive, she said.

“We have some students who have gone on record to say it’s happened to them three or four days in a row,” Owens said. “We know there are some students who actually had to eat their lunch with one hand handcuffed to a railing.”

According to the settlement, approved by U.S. District Judge Tom Lee, district employees will stop handcuffing students younger than 13, and can only handcuff older students for crimes, and no student may be handcuffed to railings, poles, desks, chairs or other objects.

John Young:

Philadelphia is burning folks. Must read.

Originally posted on Seattle Education:

By now you hopefully know what is happening in Philadelphia.

There is a plan underfoot to privatize as many schools as possible in the district.

Here is an excerpt from an article that I posted previously, For Philly public schools, barbarian is Gates :

Into the Philadelphia School District’s state of fiscal desperation rides Bill Gates. Who can say “no” to free money when you are so deep in the hole? But the money is not free, and the price is the democratic procedure in the city and the state under which the community and its elected leaders make informed decisions about its schools.

Then in a Weekly Update, this article written by Parents Across America (PAA) Founding Member Helen Gym was posted. To follow is an excerpt from Please help Philadelphia: Poster child for disasters of corporate reform :

It’s taken me a while to talk about what’s happening…

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Kilroy commenter reveals that RCCSD is participating in the teachers from Spain program, run by the DOE.

read whole post here:

BELOW, check out the DOE document re: this program.

By  Mr.Linkletter

Outsourcing in education employment was officially declared in the latest issue of El Tiempo – Hispano. The Spanish language weekly newspaper announced that starting in late August a group of teachers from Spain will replace veteran dual language teachers at William C. Lewis Elementary School.The editor Gabriel Piloneta Blanco disclosed in Friday’s May 25 edition that Red Clay Consolidated School District administration officials had difficulty finding qualified bilingual teachers who could teach sciences, art, and mathematics in Spanish and decided to go to Spain to find teachers with ” passion.”This unprecedented move will certainly open the flood gates for public school districts throughout the nation to hire foreign nationals,bypass the established certification process, and kindle a firestorm in upcoming labor negotiation settlements.In addition, reciprocity agreements between Delaware, surrounding states and the Commonwealth of PR. will be out the window and viewed as dated and unnecessary.Under this new standard, don’t be surprised if there will be an accelerated effort to recruit teachers from England,Ireland, India, South Africa, or Australia to teach English in inner cities where the English Department has failed.

Check out the DISTRICT and DOE responsibilities section.

Riddle me this, Voices 4 Delaware Education troll.

now this will take a bit of a setup, but I would really love to hear your answer:

  • So, you think Christina is a disastrous district.

  • You think Board Members do/should bear responsibility (apparently in a vacuum, but that’s a whole other discussion)

  • You want to elect Board Members to steer the district in a new direction, perhaps the opposite direction from its disastrous direction.

If the three above points are true, then a STRONG argument could be made that Ms. Scheinberg and Mr. Young are EXACTLY what Voices 4 Delaware Education want. We have consistently voted in the MINORITY position, which means we have tried to do DIFFERENTLY than we have done based on the MAJORITY votes that again you deem results in a disastrous district.

So, the Riddle is: Why does Voices attempt to TRASH CSD’s direction while advocating for the positions of how the MAJORITY of the district’s board have voted by recruiting candidates that literally are geared towards doing more of the same?

Answer me that! I await the contorted twists as you squirm to come out from behind your hypocrisy and logical conundrum.

Children and Educators First has found a troll. #netDE

and it’s regarding Voices 4 Delaware Education. Most appropriately, like Voices’ donors and expenditures, the troll is anonymous:

Anonymous said…

Elizabeth, your blog only preaches to the converted, and I hope you helped your little virtual support group cope with the fact that your monopoly on political power will soon end. I laughed out loud when reading your statement “And the disastrous and horrific media campaign perpetrated by your action fund shows that Voices endorses dirty politics.” Actually, the mail pieces weren’t “dirty,” & cited FACTUAL stats about a “disastrous” school district. I loved every one I received, and voted in a SB election for the first time in my life. What’s “horrific” is YOUR performance. Also, why do bloggers keep calling Harris’ op-ed an “apology”? I don’t think it’s an apology in any way, shape of form. I think its a middle finger. As to “monopoly,” Harris is clearly talking about political campaigns, and calling out Jack P for not stating his role in said campaigns. Harris states his role. I can see why you bloggers are going ape shit. Harris is telling you his org is here to stay, and with time, will build a movement that has the audacity to demand you do better by Delaware’s kids. Only an inbreeder would knock someone for moving to DE from a different state!


So much to say, but C&E 1st does it so well:


Craziest Wedding proposal ever?

Originally posted on Kilroy's Delaware:

Voices 4 Delaware is here to serve education by Greg Harris is executive director of Voices 4 Delaware Education.

The state’s education plan raises academic standards so that our kids can compete with the best in the world. It seeds or builds upon innovative strategies to ensure students reach these standards. A major component of the reform work is to improve teacher effectiveness. This includes rewarding the state’s most capable teachers, and developing professional learning communities within which teachers learn from the successes of their peers.

“Our kids” ????? WTF Greg, just because you switch your car tags from Ohio to Delaware doesn’t give you the right to claim Delaware kids as yours! Or perhaps you never moved to Delaware and work from your Ohio home.

The education arm is designed to increase public engagement in education, including voter turnout in school board elections. Earlier this month, less than 1 percent of eligible voters…

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Children and Educators First filets Voices 4 Delaware Education director’s unapologetic apology.

Elizabeth’s comments in RED:

Sadly, I found that I was wrote this reponse that it took a bit of snarky turn. I apologize for that.   It’s just difficult to take a newly-christened organization seriously when it’s first big endeavor was politicize school board elections in Delaware! I know that times are changing and change is coming and you either need to get off the track or jump on the train… but I just can’t do either.  I believe that school board elections are sacred.  And if I end up as flat as a pancake, so be it.  The RED below – those are my comments.

On May 16, The News Journal published a letter by Jack Palidori making several allegations against the organization I direct, Voices 4 Delaware Education. The News Journal did not note Mr. Palidori’s role as the National Education Association’s “campaigns and elections specialist.”

Greg, I don’t think it was the News Journal’s responsibility to “out” Jack Polidori – and that Polidori with an “o” – as an elections specialist.  In fact, the same could be said for you – a former Cincinnati, Ohio politician with his own Wikipedia page.

The NEA, through its state affiliate, the Delaware State Education Association and related PACs, is likely the biggest contributor to political campaigns in the state. We respect their right to share their voice, but frankly in education policy for many years, it’s been the only one.

No, dear.  NEA is not the only voice in education policy.  There’s DPTA, DSPAC, DSBA, PIC, DOE, Charter Network, Chamber of Commerce, Rodel, Vision Network,  Ed Voters of DE (oh, right, your organization ate theirs); you get the idea.  In fact, rather than add a voice to the educational landscape – one could presume that you snuffed one out…

Oh there is more! Here: