Monthly Archives: October 2015

SJR 4 Education Funding Improvement Commission (EFIC)

SJR 4 – The first Education Funding Improvement Commission meeting will take place on Monday, November 2, 2015 from 3:00 until 5:00 in the Tatnall Building Conference Room in Dover.  I heard that former Rep. Darryl Scott will be chairing this committee.

Redistricting Committee Meeting Update

I attended the Redistricting Committee Meeting today at Red Clay’s District Office located in Baltz Elementary School. Below are a few comments about the meeting. Minutes of the previous meetings can be found here.

  • Red Clay School Board will be holding a Special Board Meeting on November 2, 2015 starting at 5:30 at Red Clay’s District Office. The board may be taking action with regards to WEIC.
  • Next Redistricting Meeting will be on November 4, 2015 from 4:00 to 6:00 at Red Clay’s District Office.
  • The interim reports on the redistricting and funding plans will be released to the public after the November 17, 2015 Commission Meeting. The public will be able to comment on the report.
  • Final report due to the State Board of Education on December 17, 2015. The public will be able to comment on the report.
  • Colonial School District want to keep their students. Colonial’s data show students are performing well and are equal or above state scores.
    • Dan Rich made a comment back to Colonial School District that WEIC recommendations were not based on test scores.
  • Brandywine School District would like to maintain the current school boundaries.
    • Brandywine School Board will bring forward a board resolution at their next school board meeting with regards to WEIC.
  • DSEA is very concerned about teachers losing their job because of this plan; district lines being redrawn.
  • Dr. Daugherty replied back to DSEA and said Red Clay is not going to guarantee that Red Clay will hire everyone from the Christina schools. Christina schools will become a part of the Red Clay School District.
  • All students who wish to remain in current schools will be able to stay and transportation will be provided.
  • Timeline for implementation of plan has been moved back a year.
  • A comment was made, if the plan is just to move district lines and rename schools and not provide any resources or funding; don’t bother moving any further with this plan.

Interesting to See, Two Senators Voted Not to Support Steven Godowsky as Secretary of Education

I thought it was interesting to see that two Senate members voted no to Secretary Godowsky’s appointment; I wonder why? To view the Senate vote, click here.

Steven Godowsky Passed

Date: 10/28/2015 04:34 PM Passed

Vote Type:SM Yes: 19 No: 2 Not Voting: 0 Absent: 0

Blevins Y Hocker Y Peterson Y
Bonini N Lavelle N Pettyjohn Y
Bushweller Y Lawson Y Poore Y
Cloutier Y Lopez Y Richardson Y
Ennis Y Marshall Y Simpson Y
Hall-Long Y McBride Y Sokola Y
Henry Y McDowell Y Townsend Y

Secretary Godowsky has a very impressive resume according to the News Works article. He has been a part of Delaware’s educational system for over 40 years.

The new secretary of education began his career more than 40 years ago as a special education teacher in Wilmington. He later became an administrator, serving as assistant principal at Delcastle Technical High School in Newport and principal of Hodgson Vo-Tech High School in Newark.

From 2003 to 2011 he was superintendent of the New Castle County Vocational Technical School District, and was named the state’s superintendent of the year in 2010.

NAEP Math Scores, comparing Delaware’s 2009 scores with 2015 scores

Delaware won the Race to the Top grant back in March of 2010. We received a total of $119 million dollars. The NAEP scores were released and by looking at the scores Delaware is no better off today compared to 2009.

The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) is the largest nationally representative​ and continuing assessment of what America’s students know and can do in various subject areas. The students do not prepare for this test and no one receives a grade. It is given every other year in every state. It is run by the Commissioner of Education Statistics, who heads the National Center for Education Statistics in the U.S. Department of Education, is responsible by law for carrying out the NAEP project. The National Assessment Governing Board, appointed by the Secretary of Education but independent of the Department, sets policy for NAEP.

When you look at the NAEP “State Profiles” Delaware’s 4th grade math the average scale score for Delaware it is the same as it was in 2009 (239) and Delaware is one point lower than the 2015 National Public score. Comparing today’s scores to 2009, Delaware has a higher percentage of students below basic compared to 2009. We have a lower percentage of students at or above basic and one percent higher at or above proficient compared to 2009. Delaware has the same percentage of students at advanced as we did in 2009.

Delaware’s 8th grade math, the average scale score in 2009 was 284; Delaware was two points higher than the National Public score in 2009. Delaware’s scale score today is 280, one point lower than the National Public score; we have dropped 4 points compared to 2009. Comparing today’s scores to 2009, Delaware has a higher percentage of students below basic, a lower percentage of students at or above basic and a lower percentage of students at or above proficient compared to 2009. Delaware saw a one percent increase of students at advanced compared to 2009.

Multi-billion dollar policies that have most assuredly contributed to the embarrassing drop in NAEP scores

We’ve had 15 years of education reform policies under Bush/Obama/Markell.  Those policies have included — but are not limited to — more charter schools, more testing, most consultants, RttT, fewer reading and math specialists, more bloated bureaucracy at the Department of Education, more threatened school closures and turnaround, PLCs, “deep data dives,” “rigor,” “grit,” Teach for America, priority schools, focus schools, focus plus schools, Charter School Performance Fund monies for schools who a) don’t show a financial need for it or b) have shown no track record to deserve it, data coaches from FOX News’ Wireless Generation…need I go on?

The same policies and ideologies towards which millions of dollars have been ostensibly wasted all in the name of student achievement and heightened teacher accountability that could have been used to provide immediate supports to our neediest of schools. These are the policies of the last 15 years that have attempted to corporatize and privatize our schools.

And you know what? They’ve failed. Miserably. The gold standard of assessment — the NAEP — tells us we’ve failed. And you know who takes this stuff the hardest? The classroom teachers and specialists who’ve been saying for years that failed policies under two presidential administrations and this governor have given many cause to quit well before they’ve hit their peak.

It’s too late for the kids who’ve already gone through the system these last 15 years. Will we have the courage to stop the insanity NOW so we don’t risk the future of the next generation of kids?

Mike Matthews

Update on the Railroad Crossing Issues in the 19th District

Rep. Mitchell, Sen. Blevins, Councilman Reda’s Office and I met with 2 representatives from CSX about the trains blocking the crossings in the 19th District (Centerville Road, Newport Gap Pike, and Stanton Road). It has been reported that the trains have blocked crossings for over two hours. The increase in train traffic has increased significantly since the yard by the GM plant was reactivated in June. It is reported that four trains use these tracks daily. One of the reasons why the trains are blocking the crossings is inside the yard the personnel on the train have to get off of the train and manually switch the tracks in order to offload the train cars. This process can take a while.

One solution that DelDot has been working on is an Advanced Warning Signal system. This system will warn drivers that a train is at the railroad crossing and for drivers to take another route. The issue with this system, DelDot has not been able to get CSX to sign off on this system. CSX stated at the meeting they would try to get the proper folks from CSX to sign-off on the  Advanced Warning Signal so it can be turned on.  

We have requested from CSX to shorten the amount of train cars they carry at one time this could eliminate the blocking of all three crossings at the same time. We have requested that they try not to run trains during peak driving times. 

There are Delaware laws in place where the state can fine the train companies if they block the tracks for more than 10 minutes, there is no way to enforce those laws. The railroad have their own set of regulations in place that the federal government recognizes. 

DelDot had a project scheduled which would require the closing of the bridge (by DelCastle High School) on Newport Road in the spring. I asked DelDot to see if that work can be done in the summer when DelCastle High School is closed.  Newport Road is really the only way to get around the trains when they are blocking all three railroad crossings. 

Red Clay School Board Special Public Session – November 2nd

Special Public Session of the Red Clay Board on Monday, November 2, 2015.  The meeting will begin at 5:30 at District Office in the First Floor Conference Room.  Main focus of the meeting will be discussion of the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission (WEIC).

Listening to Your Constituents

I just wanted to thank the Red Clay School District and New Castle County for putting a black top path in from DelCastle Park to Brandywine Springs School for students, staff and the surrounding community.

A constituent in the 19th District had contacted me. She asked if I could look into having a path put in from Brandywine Springs School to DelCastle Park. There was a path already there, it was a dirt path with tree roots sticking out. She said the students and staff use the park as well as the Duncan Glen community.

I reached out to the Red Clay School District and Councilman Sheldon’s Office and we worked together to have the paths put in.