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Thursday, September 18, 2014

DE DOE officially insane: housecleaning needed--DSEA resignations also needed

Delaware Department of Education declares Charter School of Wilmington failing academically!

Delaware State Board of Education member calls for Red Clay to be "punished"!

Delaware Department of Education violates labor laws with phony "turnaround" schools move!

Delaware State Education Association leadership needs to resign ... from something!

Let's take these one at a time, shall we?

DOE declares Charter School of Wilmington failing academically!

Whether you love the placement test or the Charter School law, everyone agrees on this:  CSW has the foremost academic reputation in the state.
CSW is listed as the 10th Best High School in America
CSW has a 100% college acceptance rate
CSW has an 1880 SAT average
CSW has 99% of their students, year in and year out, meet or exceed all State standards
So you have to ask yourself ... What would you have to be drinking to believe CSW was failing academically?  Apparently they serve some pretty strong Kool-Aid in the Townsend Building, because according to their "Growth Targets" model, even though 99% of CSW's students are scoring well on the high-stakes-test-of-choice-this-year, 49% of the students taking English and 52% of the students taking Math have failed to achieve their DOE computer-generated growth targets.

Damn them, anyway--they keep ignoring their failures and going on to full rides at Harvard, Princeton, Rhode Island, NC State, and other mediocre schools too dumb to realize that the CSW experiment is failure!

Or maybe ... just maybe (dare I say it?) it is the DOE "Growth Target" computer models that are a failure?  Having to justify their existence even when a school excels at everything without their assistance, maybe DOE just keeps tinkering with the numbers until enough schools fail.

How about this, Sam Paoli, Eric Anderson, and Henry Clampitt?  Will Mark Murphy come calling next year to place CSW on Academic Watch?  Maybe we should be considering a DOE-led "turnaround" effort to help out this failing school.

It would be the story of the year ... except for the next one ...

Delaware State Board of Education member calls for Red Clay to be "punished"!

It was the June 2014 State Board meeting at which politically appointed Board member Patrick Heffernan chose to cut loose against the prolonged dialogue that the Red Clay School Board, Red Clay administration, parents, and teachers had over Special Education this past spring.

You may recall that parents and teachers challenged the administration's new inclusion plan as poorly drawn, vaguely resourced, and created without adequate public input.  You may also recall that the Board decided to put off adoption until there was time for such public input, and that--three months later--the original plan died an unnatural death when a unanimous School Board sent the administration back to do it all over again.  So be clear:  neither Red Clay's board, nor Red Clay's teachers, nor Red Clay's parents rejected the concept of inclusion.  They rejected a specific plan as poorly conceived, and demanded a better one.

Apparently Patrick Heffernan wasn't paying too close attention to what actually happened when he said this, in his official board capacity:
Heffernan: So that brings up, I wrote this down, sometimes we talk about, I struggle sometimes when we call out districts and sometimes when we don’t, but I know this year, I’ll use Red Clay as an example, they had a vote on whether or not they should implement inclusion plan, right? I don’t understand why, you know, this has been law of the land since the 70’s and now we’re going to vote as to whether or not we should do inclusion. I don’t get that and I don’t understand, you know, we talk about good cop/bad cop thing, I don’t maybe wanna focus on what punishment someone’s gonna get by these things, but I don’t even think we have any punishment to give them, but if we at least do something good, if we have punishment, you know, whatever we should be doing in, you know, 2014 when were voting not to do inclusion, right?
So now we have a political appointee who doesn't have the first freaking clue what he's actually talking about calling for Red Clay Consolidated School District to be PUNISHED by the State for the crime of listening to parents and teachers, then telling the administration to hit a higher standard ...  Obviously that kind of behavior MUST BE STOPPED before it spreads to other districts.

I've got it, they said at DOE, we'll punish Red Clay by taking three of their schools away from local control ...

DOE violates labor laws with phony "turnaround" schools move!

The Red Clay Education Association has a signed, legally instituted Collective Bargaining Agreement with the employer of its teachers:  the Red Clay Consolidated School District.  It governs, among other things, the due process rights of teachers and the procedures that must be used in order to remove them.

DOE's plan to make every teacher in Warner, Highland, and Shortlidge re-apply for his/her job is a blatant violation of State and Federal labor laws, because nobody gave either the General Assembly, the US DOE, or the DE DOE the ability to abrogate contracts unilaterally.  DE DOE is NOT EVEN THE EMPLOYER OF RECORD for these teachers, no matter how the unit count is funded.

There are other issues involved in the so-called "turnaround" process that gives the lie to any belief that Governor Markell, Secretary Murphy, the State Board of Education, or even the Charter School Network are not collectively (and with coordination) pursuing the same strategy as Newark NJ, which is to convert the entire City of Wilmington into a "charter only" school district.   That, as RCCSD Board member Adriana Leela Bohm and State Representative John Kowalko pointed out so eloquently pointed out at Wednesday's board meeting, completely self-evident at this point.

DE DOE, which considers CSW a failing school, and whose governing Board has called for Red Clay to be "punished," has now officially announced that the law doesn't matter--State education bureaucrats can dictate whatever policies their little heartless chest cavities desire, since--apparently--they don't believe anybody has the brains, the heart, or the guts to stop them.

And speaking of the heart and guts, that brings me to my fourth and final story:

Delaware State Education Association leadership needs to resign ... from something!

As the "turnaround" story was unfolding, DOE and Rodel trotted out the leadership committee of the laughably ineffective Vision Coalition to pimp on the letters page of the News Journal for the necessity of doing all things in the strict manner prescribed by DOE/Vision [now consolidated into ED25], and essentially condemning everybody who questions their wisdom as backward hicks and social deviants.

Among the signatories of that letter was one Frederika Jenner, President of the Delaware State Educators Association.

Let's see:  when one of your largest locals has just passed a resolution rejecting the school turnaround model for Red Clay, what do you do?  Disown them by supporting the people who are breaking the law?

There's something wrong here, and it appears that the State leadership of the 12,000-strong DSEA is playing both sides of the fence.

You cannot present yourself as representing (and spending hundreds of thousands of member dues in political contributions) the teachers of Delaware if you also present yourself as representing and supporting the organization that is systematically destroying the careers of those teachers by (among other things) violating labor law.

So you have a choice.  In order to retain some shred of intellectual consistency or moral authority, the individuals on the DSEA State Board need to pick one of the following options:

A.  Resign from all leadership and committee positions with the Vision Coalition and remove DSEA's stamp of approval for the process.


B.  Resign from the DSEA State Board so that you can continue to pursue the goals of corporate reform without having to deal with your conscience for selling out the people you were voted into office to represent.

Pretty much, it's really that simple.

Parents--if you want your children to have a chance at a decent public education (maybe you mistakenly aspire to get them into CSW or want an appropriate placement for your Special Needs child), then you are almost out of time to act.

Because if you don't act ... at the school board, at public meetings, and with the ballot box ... Delaware DOE is simply going to continue to push forward with its insane strategy of fixing what's not broken, condemning the people who care about their kids, and trampling the law whenever it is expedient to do so.

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