Delaware parental enemies 1 & 2: GACEC and SCPD. HB 50 opposition wields a misinformed sword!

The two organizations referenced in post title are here:

Ms. Daniese McMullin-Powell of SCPD and Robert D. Overmiller of GACEC, chairpersons of these two organizations ostensibly dedicated to Delawareans with special needs both issued letters with their signatures that offer opposition to HB 50, a bill to grant parents the clarification  of their right to opt their own child out of standardized tests. Please read the bill here:$file/legis.html?open) As you can plainly see, the bill does not opt Delaware out of tests, the bill does not permit schools to opt children out, the bill does not remove common core, and the bill does not prevent the DOE from measuring schools. It simply confirms that when a parent feels it necessary, they have the right to tell their child’s school: my child will not be taking the assessment…and that schools and districts may not coerce and/or punish their child for doing so.

It’s that simple. How these two organizations, allegedly pro parent, allegedly intelligent and sentient, can possibly fall prey to the baseless, and meritless fear based campaign being run by the governor and his selected legislative friends, like Rep. Earl Jaques, is beyond comprehension.

But here we are, two major state agencies claiming to represent students with disabilities, in 2015 no less, just told ALL Delaware legislators to vote against a bill that respects and affirms a basic parental right. How dare they? How can they take their argument that the tests are good, or valid, or work despite volumes of evidence over 20 years to the contrary (that they are tacitly acknowledging in their emails when they describe our schools) and deliberately conflate that concern into a right to suppress a parent’s expression and execution of their rights is embarrassing.

Both of these leaders should step down. Right after they apologize for deigning to suggest they represent me as a parent of a child with Autism by leveraging their ideology to deny me my rights.

These two letters are a genuine nadir for advocacy in Delaware.

GACEC and SCPD, for shame! 

Here’s the letters:


Being a Teacher of Color and Teaching for Social Justice

Originally posted on Young Teachers Collective:

By: Gaby Guzman

For those of us who received an education, by whatever means, on the systems of oppression that exist in our world, once the veil dropped from our eyes, we could no longer live in neutrality and blissful ignorance. We are moved to act, to influence change…no matter how lofty our goals may seem. It is for this reason many of us decided to become teachers.

Education can be a powerful agent of change, not an equalizer of opportunity, but a tool for liberation. We all had our moment, or series of moments, where we experienced just how liberating an education can be. For me it began in a course called Knowledge and Power: Issues in Women’s Leadership. I took this course as a sophomore in college. The process of liberation did not occur instantly, but was rather a process, a journey, of unlearning all the “lies…

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The Moral Currency of the Opt out Movement

Originally posted on fixdeldoe:

The Moral Currency of the Opt Out Movement


Decades ago, whites and blacks were forced to live separate and unequal lives of opportunity, and a few brave civil rights activists took the first steps toward equality.  America made progress and though not at all perfect, our public schools reflected America’s commitment to equality of opportunity, and through the ensuing years, most people in America, teachers, parents businessmen and politicians all contributed to the collective success of our young people.

Somewhere along the way, America lost its educational commitment and edge in the international community, and suddenly tumbled to mediocrity, as measured by an internationally accepted measuring stick.  There are many reasons for this decline, most of which have their origins in how we, as Americans live our lives.  Because in homes where educational and behavioral goals are mutually shared between home and school, children progress through school and, for…

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DOE – Do Your Job – Take the Politics out, take the money from RTTT positions and give it the schools

Originally posted on fixdeldoe:

Why Public Education is on life support

Public Education in Delaware as well as across the nation is at a crossroads in both its mission and in its path forward.  Public education has been and continues to be desecrated by a series of political maneuvers and increasing societal pressures.  In reality, a school system created to service the needs of all children can only be as effective as the school readiness of the young people it tries to prepare for success.   Adults are abandoning their traditional roles as involved school parents and have and are increasingly asking, no – demanding, that the public school system compensate for everything that they will not or cannot do.  And school bureaucracies, eager to make parents happy, transfer those demands to school based personnel, and the politicians, eager to win votes, blame the school based educators for not “closing the gap” that was created…

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House Education Committee Meeting Recap from 4/22/15.

My HB 50 Letter

Originally posted on Minding My Matters:

I sent this late last night to all members of the House Education Committee as well as all sponsors and co-sponsors of this important legislation.

“April 25, 2015

Dear House Education Committee Members;

It was my pleasure to be in attendance at the April 22 House Education Committee meeting and to hear the discussion and debate around HB 50. I was concerned about what I felt were a few areas of inconsistent messaging and inaccurate information, and I wanted to share my thoughts further.

During my public comment, I pointed out that many members of the committee demonstrated the basic issues with the standardized testing system. It is not lost on me as a parent and an educator that there needs to be both accountability and demonstration of student achievement. However, when the major concerns raised by many of the legislators present revolved around the “uneducated inner city parents” being…

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From Inclusion to Opting Out: Parents Getting Their Way

Originally posted on jeffrey m hartman:

The current standardized testing opt-out movement is a departure from what some parents of special needs students have lobbied for in the past. Examining case law in special education reveals a trend towards increasing inclusion in every area of student life. The opt-out movement follows the opposite trajectory, but it remains part of a larger trend that includes general education. Parents want control over their children’s education to an unprecedented degree.

Recently, parents of students with and without IEPs have been petitioning for their children to be exempted from taking tests aligned with the Common Core State Standards. The tests of concern are the Smarter Balanced Assessments (SBA) and the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC). Despite differing origins, each test is part of an initiative supported by the U.S. Department of Education to gauge student preparedness according to the Common Core. States have their own agendas…

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HB 50 Point of Clarification: HB 50 does not opt the state of Delaware out of testing. (click to read)

After watching the despicable behavior of Chairman Jaques and the questions that followed from some republicans, I have to beleive there is a key point not being made well enough:

HB 50 does not, nor does it seek to, opt the state of Delaware out of the SBAC test for statewide accountability. It merely confers upon parents a degree of protection against threats, bullying and intimidation that they may, if THEY choose to, opt their own child out of the test. IT DOES NOT SPEAK TO NOR ATTEMPT TO OPT OUR STATE OUT OF ANYTHING. (DISCLAIMER: I WISH IT DID, BUT IT DOESN’T)

Please Sign The Petition In Support of Delaware House Bill 50: Parent Opt Out Legislation #supportHB50

Originally posted on Exceptional Delaware:

Delaware parents, citizens, and educators: Please sign the petition in support of House Bill 50.  This bill will be heard by the House Education Committee on Wednesday, April 22nd, at 3:30 pm, in Legislative Hall, Dover, DE.

I have heard some parents in Delaware want to opt their children out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment but won’t do so until House Bill 50 passes.  This bill does not have to pass in order for you to opt out.  This would codify the right you already have.  However, this bill would send a crystal clear message to the Delaware Department of Education, Governor Markell, and the entire corporate education reform movement in Delaware.  It would also prevent certain schools and districts from taking part in some of the shenanigans they have pulled the past few months with parents in regards to opt out.

Please sign this petition. This will…

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Problems with SBAC Focus of State Department of Education Meeting

John Young:

trouble in CT.

Originally posted on BLOGCEA:

Kristine Goldhawk tells members of the state's High School Assessment Working Group about her school's experience with SBAC. At right is Stratford teacher Lisa Tryon. New Canaan teacher Kristine Goldhawk tells members of the state’s High School Assessment Working Group about her school’s experience with SBAC. At right is Stratford teacher Lisa Tryon.

Students and educators who came to the State Department of Education this afternoon to share their experiences with the state’s High School Assessment Working Group said that SBAC is taking away valuable learning time, lacks relevance to students, and places a significant burden on eleventh graders — many of whom are left taking a considerable number of tests in a short amount of time.

In addition to SBAC, many high school students take the SATs and AP exams in the spring of their junior year. That’s why the working group is considering replacing SBAC with another assessment such as the SAT or ACT. Read more about prior meetings of the working group here and here.

Thomaston High School senior Megan Foell…

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Delaware PTA shames Governor Markell on his go-it-alone education agenda! @usedgov #netde @delawareonline @FoxNews @WSJ @HuffingtonPost @nytimes @washingtonpost

Originally posted on Kilroy's Delaware:

Delaware PTA’s Response to Press Release on SBAC and DE Higher Ed Institutions 

In a statement made today by Governor Markell, Delaware PTA learned that the four colleges; Wilmington University, University of Delaware, Delaware Technical and Community College and Delaware State University have all agreed that the outcomes of the 11th grade Smarter Balanced Assessments is a good indicator of college readiness. In addition, these institutions have all agreed to accept the assessment in lieu of other placement exams.

At a time when there is so much turbulence in our public education system, we are disheartened to learn that the conversations that proceeded this major conclusion did not include input from any of our major stakeholders. The Delaware Department of Education and the Governor’s office have…

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Exclusive FOIA: The Delaware DOE Human Capital 2017 Project Fully Revealed

Originally posted on Exceptional Delaware:

This was a draft created by the Delaware Department of Education Teacher Leader Effectiveness Unit on their Human Capital 2017 project.  I originally wrote about this project here.  In reviewing more of the huge FOIA material I received over two months ago, I stumbled across a Power Point presentation in draft form that gives A LOT of information about the whole purpose of the DOE.

While converting the document on a Scribd file, some of the material overlaps, and I was unable to fix it, but make sure you read every single word in this document.  It’s amazing how much long-term planning goes into these DOE programs, including legislation in the General Assembly.

After watching the Director of this unit, Christopher Ruszkowski, at the February 18th Delaware House Education Committee meeting, it is amazing how much power he has at the Delaware DOE.  The website Education has a…

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#WhyTeach: Our Chance to Push Back

Originally posted on Young Teachers Collective:

Over the past several years the narrative around public education has grown increasingly negative, and young people are often discouraged from going into the profession at all. One of the main goals of the Young Teachers Collective is to amplify the voices of new and future teachers. We started the #WhyTeach campaign to provide new and future teachers with the opportunity to share their reasons for becoming a teacher despite all of the negative rhetoric. It is a way to reassert our place in the conversation around education and the teaching profession by allowing us the chance to share our thoughts, experiences and visions for the future of education. Because quite frankly we are the future of education.

So are you a new or future teacher that has decided to go into teaching regardless of all of the voices telling us to find another profession? We would love for you…

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I Quit: What Really Goes on at Apple

Originally posted on Road Less Travelled:

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

– Steve Jobs, June 12, 2005.

I’ve just escaped the Apple institution. I’ve sent in my resignation, and fled down its bright white corridors curated by crass colourful pictures of iPhones past. I handed in my security pass and in return I was able to re-claim my creativity, individuality and free thinking from the secure Apple cloak room.  Finally now, for the first time in two years, I feel light, creative and inspired. I am again an individual with my own creative ideas…

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Not Just Naive Teachers

Originally posted on Young Teachers Collective:

By: Hajra Syed, Jacob Chaffin, Melissa Katz, Molly Tansey, and Stephanie Rivera

Since the launch of Young Teachers Collective, we have received a number of negative messages, comments, and tweets. We have been called “poor bastards,” “wannabe newbies,” “naive little kids,” and the most common of them all, “foolish idealists.” We have seen comments arguing that because we are young, our voices and opinions have no substance.

This is why YTC was formed in the first place.

Many assume that we are blind to the realities of the attacks on the teaching profession. Many completely ignore the fact that we, the next generation of teachers, were the exact students who were forced to endure the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) era. We don’t know anything about the attack on education? We were the ones educated during it.

Many assume that we have blinders on and live in blissful ignorance…

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Delaware Parent Opt Out comments. #netDE #eduDE

Below are my prepared comments from the Delaware Parent Opt Out press conference

We have a proud tradition of standing up for ourselves in Delaware. As the First State, we take special pride in leading when it comes to important causes. Parental Opt Out is just one such cause.

Our schools deserve the best of everything because they hold the promise of all we hold dear: our children, our dreams and our collective future. Sadly, in the last thirty years, we have decided to implement policies of accountability that while well intended have become embedded in our approach to labeling, shaming and punishing schools: the bedrock institution of our democracy.

Using, or should I say, misusing tests is now how we conduct business in Delaware. The state bureaucrats in the Townsend Building and in Legislative hall have successfully crafted our current status quo. It’s a status quo of constant change and failed reform after failed reform, some of which may have actually worked had our attention span or dedication to allow them to work had not been trumped by our seemingly insatiable desire to label, shame, and punish schools with reckless abandon.

At the cornerstone of this status quo has been the ultimate tool of institutional destruction: the standardized test. I know that sounds like a hyperbolic sentiment, but for 20 years plus, Delaware has seen the DSTP, DCAS and SMARTER deployed with amazing controversy and almost zero return…and that’s using the metrics of the status quo supporters in the DOE! Why don’t they work? Two simple reasons: the DOE intentionally misuses the data and the system they are trying to move has an inertia that is immense and does not react favorably to the force of misused test scores. If our DOE could actually grasp that, many of our problems would disappear and this press conference would perhaps not even be necessary.

Why does the DOE misuse the data from the tests? To fit the ideological narrative that students who don’t or can’t succeed in DE schools are the victims of soulless teachers and administrators who wake up every day with the exclusive goal of making excuses for poor performance. This approach breeds deep and resentful mistrust that only further locks up the system. DOE’s predictable response, take that bad data to the group of people who work in that building, (point at Leg Hall) and ask them to pass laws to force the schools to comply. Well, what these status quo protectors fail, every time, to recognize is that the work environment that these laws and policies create in our schools drives high turnover and low morale that proves to those in the system that what they just saw, or did, or cared about, will just change again and therefore to not invest emotion and time…not because they don’t care (DOE’s constant erroneous conclusion), but because they are sick and tired of being duped by this pernicious status quo. And that work environment happens to by my son’s learning environment. Maybe that’s why the dedicated professionals that work with my son have personally thanked me for opting my son out.

What can we do to break through the status quo of test and punish?

Well, that’s why we are here today: take away the ultimate tool of institutional destruction: the test itself.

Without this data, the DOEs ideology starves and teachers can teach. As I have noticed recently, this also dovetails with a new campaign nationwide: Time to teach, Time to learn.

As parents we need to do both: Learn why opting out is not only your right, but why it is right so we can teach our children why opting out serves them not only today, but the rest of their school career. I strongly recommend parents consider taking advantage of a basic, inalienable parental right and Opt Out of the state “mandated” standardized test. Thank you Representative Kowalko and Senator Lawson for sponsoring such a common sense approach to making sure parents can safely do what they already have the right to do. I also thank all of the other co-sponsors and supporters of this important legislation as well.

Democracies Need More Than One Kind of “Good” School

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

This post is a revised and updated version of one I wrote June 2, 2010

[A good education] “teaches you how to ask a question… it is knowing what you don’t know….”

“Ideally, one should know who Shakespeare was and why Shakespeare was important to us…. At the same time, one should know who Toni Morrison is and why her voice and take on America is important to us.”

“An educated high school grad must read, compute, persevere, organize, and problem-solve well enough not just to attend college, but to graduate from college.”

[A good education should instill] “a love of lifelong learning.”*

No surprise that views of what makes a good education differ. Such opinions about what makes an education “good” have differed for millennia among religious leaders, Greek philosophers, and those rebels in the 13 colonies who shaped a democratic experiment in America. Not now, however, in a…

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Measured Progress and Its Temporary Test Scorers

Originally posted on deutsch29:

The standardized testing industry is taking over the American public school classroom.

Increasingly more class time is being devoted to preparing for and administering standardized tests in the name of “global competitiveness” and ensuring students are “college and career ready.”

Even though promoters of corporate reform idolize standardized testing to the degree that many seem to honestly believe standardized testing a flawless indicator of both student progress and teacher worth, there are many weak points to such a position.

For the time being, let us just consider one: The test scorers.

The constructed response portions of most standardized tests are graded by human beings.

Who are these people?

Temp workers with at least some college experience and who are hired en masse with little to no supervision– and whose college transcripts need might not even be verified.

Take the assessment company, Measured Progress. It directs individuals interested in temporary test…

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The Sunlight Governor redux. #netDE #eduDE #FOIA #SecretEmail

In light of Rep. John Kowalko’s FOIA to gain access to Governor Markell’s muddy e-mail usage, I just wanted to blast out a couple of humorous blasts from Governor Markell’s past:

Are You Part of the Hunger Games?

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

Bonnie Margolin, a teacher in Florida, remembers a time before No Child Left Behind. She remembers when politicians did not tell teachers how to teach. She remembers when teaching was far more and different from preparing to take tests.

We are now trapped in The Testing Games. Like The Hunger Games, the odds are never in your favor.

“The obvious comparison is the idea that education is some form of competition. We know this concept is a popular one, just based upon the fact that our own US President named his education reform, The Race to the Top. In this race, states are encouraged to create education policies based on test scores. Student promotion, teacher evaluations, and school grades are all based on test scores. Funding is then tied to the student achievement. In simple terms, how well the students race decides how much money the schools get in funding.

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