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DOE Easter Egg: Remember When Mayor Baker Called Us Criminals?

 Oh! What a day! Baker was very wrong in his aspersions, but that wasn't reason enough to keep his mouth shut. He loved his sound-bites. 

I'd like to tell you the story of the DOE Easter Egg:

I was a broken woman the day I declared local control dead. I had bared my soul, fighting on behalf of CSD's teachers, without ever having been asked by these teachers to do so. I went to battle on principle, only to learn that those I considered my allies were more devious than the Governor, himself.

It's been a few years and as much as things have changed, they remain the same. Although, I was proud to stand with Christina when the state banished us of RTTT, to have learned from remarkable educators, and to have been humbled by the tenacity of our students; tonight is another night like the one that transpired in April of 2011.  The CSD BOE will again tackle - perhaps the final time this season - MOUs that will dictate the future of some its schools and its most fragile children. 

Of course, the edict is a bit different. Unlike RTTT, there is no "50% of your teachers must go." Last week, I posted a comparison of between the Speedwell, the Mayflower, CSD's negotiations with DOE. And I declared the teachers were saved. That hypothesis rankled some.  But, it was much more than a guess -

You see, there is an Easter Egg in the Technical Guidance documents for Priority Schools and found again in the original MOU.  The department either misquoted statute or gave themselves an out - the fabled RTTT "50% must go" isn't there.

Go ahead - Go Read It:
14 DE Admin Code vs!
Could that be the reason Red Clay caved so early on?


Dear Delaware, Your Governor is a Bully and Local Control is Dead
My very deeply personal statement to Christina constituents.  This is my opinion and only mine.

Dear Christina,

Tonight, I ceded to the political coercion thrust upon our district through the media manipulation and propaganda campaign purported by the Governor of Delaware and his Department of Education to cripple our board's good faith action to rectify what I truly believe was the poor implementation of the PZ teacher selection process.

I voted with my fellow board mates to rescind the April 19th board action to retain and retrain our teachers at their current campuses.  There has never been a more tortured dilemma before me.  I continue to believe that the Department of Education failed to promote collaboration when they chose to freeze our funding without expressing their concerns directly to the board and giving us the opportunity to re-evaluate and initiate corrective action.

The spirit of collaboration is now dead.  There is no "kinder, gentler DOE," as representatives have so publicly proclaimed.  There is no desire to learn and share best practices.  There is only their way or the highway. Christina, for my naiveté, I am deeply sorry.  I will not rest well tonight.  The weight of this failure weighs much too heavily in my heart. While I am committed to continue the reforms that our community has supported, I will forever know that my vote on April 19th was right, appropriate, fair, and in the best interest of our students. 

The vote I cast tonight, Christina, was for you, to walk the path delineated by the Department of Education, if Christina is ever to reclaim the $11 million stolen from our children.  The future is in their hands.  Apparently, it always has been. 

Jack Markell for President, he'll be right at home in Washington D.C.



Did Lillian's Lap Puppy Get Left At the Pound?

The Deal Didn't Last?
No Fur-ever Home for You?

Those in Glass Houses Should Throw Stones...indeed

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CSD to Vote on Tabling Priority MOUs - Tonight!

1. Resolution to Table Action Items on the Priority School MOU’s
2. Bancroft Elementary School Priority School Memorandum of Understanding - Christina School District with the Delaware Department of Education
3. Stubbs Elementary School Priority School Memorandum of Understanding - Christina School District with the Delaware Department of Education
4. Bayard Middle School Priority School Memorandum of Understanding - Christina School District with the Delaware Department of Education
5. Approval of Referendum Ballot and Notice of Election

And don't miss this:
1. Student Expulsion Recommendations
2. Financial Position Report

3. Final Budget FY2015

How will CSD balance that deficit budget? Did they plug the gap worth millions? Seeing as this is the final budget for the year, we'll finally get some answers!
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IS CSD about to financially commit suicide by cop?

OMG! The Speedwell just Sank!

CSD, you better table those MOUs! Don't do it!  Don't commit to locally subsidizing dying federal funds! You're running a deficit budget as it is.  If this isn't a backdoor to a weighted funding formula, I don't know what is!  Don't get me wrong - weighted funding has merit.  But, don't hide behind the Priority schools label. If you want to replace dissipating federal dollars with local ones, just come right out and say it! And you sure as hell better spell that out it out in your up-and-coming referendum!

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Metamorphosis: Will CSD's Priority Schools Take on the Charter Organizational Structure?

Executive Directors and School Leaders and Instructional Leaders, Oh My!

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Principally Speaking ... Two out of Three Ain't Bad!

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Inside Out and Upside Down - Did the Christina Board/Negotiation Team Save it's Teachers?

History has funny way of repeating itself.  In 1620 the Speedwell took on water and had to abort its journey to the New World.  Its passengers clamored aboard the Mayflower, already crowded with a sect of Saints sailing to North America with hopes of throwing off the yoke of King James and establishing its own freedoms. When it finally came time to disembark in the New World, the Saints and Strangers established the Mayflower Compact, giving each man one vote and collectively, the first Democratic Elections of the English/American Colonists were held - and John Carver was elected as the first Governor in the New World. 

Dear King James, 

It's 2015 and your Speedwell is taking on water. Your passengers are clamoring to board the Mayflower. Master Jones is at the helm.  Should he take on more passengers? Mingle them among the in-between decks with his precious cargo of  Puritans?

Most Americans are unaware that the main reason why the Pilgrims, a Puritan sect, decided to leave Holland and come to America in 1620 is because they were concerned about the negative influences Dutch culture was having on their children.The Pilgrims had left England because of persecution and found religious freedom in Holland. But their children were in danger of losing their language as well as their religion, and so the decision was made to take themselves to North America where they could build a new Bible commonwealth.

Did you know that at least 20 children crossed on the original Mayflower? More importantly, history tells us that most of the children survived the long winter and went on to positions of establishment. By 1630 the Puritan Insurgence had paved the foundation for democratic governance that would form the basis for today's free society. You see, the Puritans valued education and more importantly they valued local control of the education of their children.  By 1636, the Puritans were laying the groundwork for education in their colony.  In the next year, funds were appropriated by the general court for the establishment of Harvard College.  And by 1647, grammar schools were the law in towns that housed 100 or more families and the hiring of a teacher was a requirement. 

 Not bad for a bunch of hardened waifs who lived in poverty in England. 

Yes, dear King, the Speedwell is taking on water and your servants are clamoring for passage on the Mayflower, begging to be housed with this nation's teachers! Teachers who were fleeing the English fiefdom and its discriminatory rule to a new land where local control was more valuable than a monarchy. 

And I guess that's the point, I'm trying to make.  If CSD were a Mayflower, the word is out (after seven hours of tense negotiations) - the teacher's will be given safe passage to the new world, the teachers have been saved. 

Now, let's talk about those principals!

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Why Wasn't Moyer's AYP Clock reset in 2012? Are you ready for Super-Charters?

Here's a rather interesting timeline:

2006 - "Old" Moyer receives its charter and begins operating.
2010 - DeDOE revokes that charter and orders closure
Later in 2010 - DeDOE grants "extraordinary authority" to K12 Classrooms Delaware, Llc to operate the school.
2012 - The New Maurice J. Moyer Academy Inc, applies to DeDOE to assume operations of the K12-State venture. DeDOE affirms.

Now, let's take a good look at AYP -

2011/12 -Planning Year - School Operated by K12

2012/13 - New Moyer is alive and on life support.  No AYP calculations.  Why?
School Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP)
Schools must meet an annual progress target for percentages of students participating and meeting set standards for both reading/language arts and mathematics to attain AYP, an artifact of the federal No Child Left behind Legislation. Selected subgroups of students must meet these annual percentages each year or show a decrease in the number of students not meeting the standards in order for a school to successfully meet accountability requirements. AYP is one of two components of the Delaware School Rating.

New Schools are not rated until after the second year of asssement.
A New School either:
-Has less than 60% enrolled in the same school together
-Is in the first year of operation for a charter school
-Added or changed 2 or more grade levels
2013/14 - School fails to make "Original Model" AYP in its first "countable" year. And does it matter that New Moyer did not exist in 2010/11?  Is the baseline data approach flawed? If it's Moyer-centric data, wouldn't the data be inapplicable as the school under the charter that coaxed that data does not actually exist anymore? And If I am wrong in my approach to thinking about this - I hope my fellow bloggers will interject and explain DOE's rational for 10-11 baseline data.
AYP Original Model
In order to meet the Annual Measurable Objective, each subgroup must have at least forty students in the cell to qualify. The student must also be continuously enrolled in the school for a full academic year. The targets have been set using the 2010-11 data as baseline. The targets than increase in an effort to decrease the percentage of non-proficient students by 50% over a six year period.
Moyer is also unable to make AYP using the "Growth Model..
AYP Growth Model
The Growth Model assigns values to each student's progress, comparing last year's proficiency level (PL) to this year's PL. In addition, PL1 and PL2 are divided into two sections established by a table of cut scores. The Growth Model's Value Targets correspond to the percent proficient target requirements in the Original Model.
Can't measure Growth where there is no longitudinal data.  Don't believe me?
 Look at this completely blank worksheet on DOE's website.

2014/15 - AYP Unknown and it apparently, it doesn't really matter as New Moyer is now slated for closure. Talk about data driven decisions - there is no data to drive any decisions regarding New Moyer. And no, this doesn't mean I've gone all charter-love-crazy for Moyer from my crystal castle with the Ice Queen. But, was New Moyer given a fair shot? I don't know.

I mean, don't we all think this method for grading children, teachers, and schools is horribly flawed?  Don't we all know it's driven by a desire to corporatize education and turn it into a profit-generator? Education is a capitalists last Gold Rush. Don't believe me?  You gotta go read this:

April 4, 2014:  Public Comment by Nelia Dolan in the matter of Great Oaks Charter School, pages 8 to 14 of the official transcript.

So why am I throwing stones at glass houses when I live in a crystal palace?  I'm not.  There is a distinction that needs to occur in the public charter world.  The mom-and-pop charter schools vs the corporate machine charter school.  In the early years, charters were driven more by politics and who-knew-who and who-had-deep-pockets than they were driven by corporations. The second wave of charters, mom-and-pop outlets, created by locals who found common ground in ideology, established our quieter charter schools. Some succeeded, some failed, some closed of their own fruition, others closed after long battles with the state -battles attributed to the state's lack of capacity to oversee and shutter its charter schools. By design? Maybe.

But, suddenly, if you believe in 'suddenlys' and I don't, there is a new focus on these little guys. Is there a great purging coming?  My prediction is yes, Delaware would never have adopted the nationalized "charter framework" if something weren't brewing. And it's been written on the wall for years in the making.  It's called market share.  The outliers, the Big 2, are well insulated and we all know why.  It's who-you-know and how-deep-your-pockets-run.  As we look out to sea at the Tsunami headed our way, the third wave of charters are coming for us - or rather our students. These are not local start-ups, but corporate backed chains with "proven" models.  Delaware is only so big, and with a new shiny CEB in Wilmington waiting with open arms, big business is courting our taxes, I mean, students. DOE is carving out market share for the new super charters coming to Delaware. And for that, mom and pop and grandfather DISTRICTS, we should all be very worried. Is it time to cross the divide and share best practices? Are there any to share?  Or should we sit by and let business take the reigns of education?

And if you don't believe.  Go Read Nelia Dolan's comments. It'll make you shudder. (Disclaimer- I don't know Nelia Dolan, at least I don't think I have ever met her, but she lives and breathes here in Delaware. And she's not a crazy-castled blogger.  She appears to be a regular person.)

April 4, 2014:  Public Comment by Nelia Dolan in the matter of Great Oaks Charter School, pages 8 to 14 of the official transcript.
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FOIA Bananza

Looking for FOIA findings in Delaware?

Start here:
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Murder Town Mayor to DOE - Here's my home number:

(302)654-3608 (Nah, I haven't called it.)

Courtesy our Governor's own Jonathon Dworkin.

With Special Thanks to John Young at Transparent Christina for breaking an incredible story that confirms what all of us conspiracy theorist believe about the course of education in our state!
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Gateway Lab School Rallies for Public Hearing!

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ReBlog: The post that shall not be named by Kavips

ReBlog from Kavips:  The Post that Shall Not Be Named:

It was with supreme dismay I returned to stumble over a riff between two local gurus of education.  No references shall be given.  All readers here have adequate resources to discover of whom I speak.
Point is: if Stalin and Churchill could work together to defeat a common enemy during the Second World War, one should expect petty misconceptions easily put aside considering the greater cause at hand.

More Here:

Did Exceptional Delaware find that some are just more equal than others?

In reviewing the decisions made by the Charter School Accountability Committee for Delaware, there is an obvious bias against Gateway Lab School.  Delaware Academy of Public Safety & Security (DAPPS), with their special education population of 12.6%, had their charter renewed.

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The GLS Public Comment - the plea from parents, families, and community members

Wow! The words of parents, friends and family members tell the Gateway story.   These statements are just a small excerpt of testimony - public comment - available for reading on the  DOE website,, where approximate 70 statements have been submitted in support for GLS.  The public comment period is still open, so I expect that testimony will continue to be submitted and posted.
  • I am appalled to hear that Gateway is in danger of having its charter revoked.  Please consider the standards by which you analyze data for a school in which students are unable to thrive in a mainstream learning environment. 
  • I am writing to let you know that I am disheartened to hear the news for this charter school.  It has been literally a godsend for so many children with special needs. The focus on testing in our state...and in many cases across the country has gotten extremely out of control.  The students at this school are coping with such a diverse population of special needs, that traditional testing shouldn't be a measure for charter renewal. This school has been an answer to many parents prayers...a place that their children can go to receive services that they need to learn, and to successfully get through the day. Success shows itself in many ways.
  • It is my opinion that putting standardized test scores above the needs of children with learning disabilities amounts to nothing less than DISCRIMINATION against children that desperately need the environment that Gateway provides. 
  • This school is the only school in DE that caters to children who cannot thrive and perform well in a traditional school setting... To take my child out of his setting, in which she is excelling to put her back into the system where she was struggling is a grave mistake and disservice to not only my child, but all of the children of Gateway. 
  •  You do not realize what it is like to see someone who struggled throughout his young life, socially and at school, gain confidence and gain a certain level of success.
  • The Gateway Lab has helped so many students by giving them the necessary foundation to complete their educational goals over a long term period...The Gateway School builds confidence in so many. It gives them a sense of belonging to a group just like themselves.
  • As a grandparent of an eleven year old child who has multiple learning disablilities, I cannot understand how this decision was made.  After spending three years in the pubic school system,and not thriving, our grandson went to a private school that could not meet his needs. Once the Gateway Lab School had been established for two years my daughter decided to send him there. Not only was he provided with quality teachers and aides, he also qualified for a 1 on 1 aide, who helped him stay on track every day/ At an IEP meeting, my daughter was told that there was significant improvement in his scores. I do not see how the panel, or the State, for that matter, can use test scores as the only means of progress for children such as my grandson.
  • I feel that if gateway is closed,students like my son will have no other option but to move out of state to receive public education that accommodates their needs. 
  •  My autistic son attends Gateway and LOVES school again. Finally!!! He improved in the Delaware Autism Program, but that caused him to be dropped from services here are precious few places for these kids. He rarely passes the state test and that has always been true. All you are going to do is move him to school with kids who can pass the test thereby masking his poor performance. Good news for DOE, but that leaves my son exactly where he currently is educationally, but where he is miserable, lost in a sea of kids that live in a different world from him. His autism will prevent him from having academic success as easily as his neuro-typical peers; closing Gateway won't change that. What it *WILL* do is rob him of his day-to-day happiness, his ability to takepride in his accomplishments as compared with his differently-abled peers, and friendships that are hard for him to form. 
  •  Gateway has been a warm and encouraging environment for kids who have not and cannot thrive in standard schools. The smaller classes are just right.. The point of the school is not to produce academic stars but to enable kids who fall below standard to still be valued and given hope and skills to reach self-sustaining competences. Delaware benefits as happy learners grow up to be responsible and productive citizens.
  •  This is ridiculous - closing a great resource like this where special challenged kids can focus on improving in a supportive environment without the social pressures of being 'wierd' in the eyes of other children
There are so many more.  But, don't take my word for it.  Go read them!
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