I will start posting again in January, I wanted to spend any extra time that I had with my family especially since my daughter is home from college. We will be going back into session soon and I am sure there will be lots to post about. I hope everyone has a safe and enjoyable new year celebration. I will see everyone in 2016.
After two years, the Enrollment Preferences Task Force final report was released. It has been a journey that started with the passing of House Bill 90 during the 147th General Assembly. The report does not include specific recommendations; it does summarize the opinions of the Task Force on an extensive list of questions and topics that are currently considered in the enrollment processes for charter, magnet and votech schools. Many of the items that are asked or requested of our families are really not necessary and actually create barriers. Some of the items that are requested have already been asked during the registration process when the families first register at their feeder school. We have a chance to really make significant changes to the way Delaware admits students through choice.
As I visit schools in Red Clay, I noticed that the play stations in the kindergarten classrooms are gone. When I talk with teachers, they have shared that kindergarten is no longer a place where five year olds can explore, pretend, or play. It is about worksheets, learning their A,B,C’s at record speeds, and no down time with students only having one recess.
A five year old in kindergarten puts in a 10 hour day, if you include their nightly work; thinking about it makes me sad for these kids. When my kids entered kindergarten, it was a half day. It was a wonderful experience; it was a place for them to learn and to grow; it was just enough. Starting 1st grade was a little overwhelming at first, getting use to being at school all day and the additional homework.
Here is a link to a CDC milestone page showing what children should know at certain ages. You can see where a five year old child should be.
- Cognitive (learning, thinking, problem-solving)
- Counts 10 or more things
- Can draw a person with at least 6 body parts
- Can print some letters or numbers
- Copies a triangle and other geometric shapes
- Knows about things used every day, like money and food
Below is a link to a story that Diane Ravitch posted. It is about kindergarten and how it has changed. Read it and see if you agree.
Due to the Common Core and testing pressures, children in kindergarten are now expected to learn to read. Kindergarten, writes Erika Christakis in The Atlantic, has changed, and not for the better.
“One study, titled “Is Kindergarten the New First Grade?,” compared kindergarten teachers’ attitudes nationwide in 1998 and 2010 and found that the percentage of teachers expecting children to know how to read by the end of the year had risen from 30 to 80 percent. The researchers also reported more time spent with workbooks and worksheets, and less time devoted to music and art.
Last night, Mike Matthews RCEA President, Ashley Sabo Red Clay parent and co-chair of Red Clay’s Inclusion Committee and I addressed the Red Clay School Board in regards to their Inclusion Plan. We are very concerned about the implementation of the plan and the necessary resources that are needed at our schools. Below are our comments.
Will we see that taxpayers money is being misspent once again when the Auditor’s Office releases their findings? House Bill 186 hopefully will pass the Senate in January. It is really interesting to see how none of the House Republicans supported House Bill 186 when it came before them in June. They are always talking about transparency and how the state needs to make cuts, but they were not willing to stop charter leaders from misspending their constituents’ tax dollars, these are cuts that can be made immediately. There were two D’s who did not support my bill, I am really not sure why they voted no. Sometimes I feel like certain votes are taken for personal reasons. Even if I have a different view point politically with a particular legislator, I would still vote yes for their bill as long as it was a good bill and right for my constituents.
As a legislator, I feel we have a responsibility to pass the best possible legislation for our constituents.
Below is a comment from a post that I published yesterday: Dual Certified Spec Ed Teachers, Good Thing or Not? I am really concerned about this. Teachers are certified in Special Education for a reason. I am very Interested in hearing from others.
We have teachers in our building that are not spec ed certified and have special education children in their room. These childrens’ IEPs are written: location-general education room. These non spec ed teachers are now responsibly for what is on these IEPS. For most of these teachers this is the first time they have had to deal with an IEP by themselves. (However there are case managers for these children.) Since this is happening all over red clay, it appears to a lot of teachers that you don’t need to be spec ed certified because you still can solely be responsible for children with IEPS based on how it is written.
Some schools are teaching all of their teachers how to write IEPs. So, you don’t need a spec Ed degree anymore in red clay.
I am extremely concerned with the direction our districts are going with respects to dual certified special education teachers. We have elementary schools which are serving ELL, Spec Ed and general education students and many of these students are also low income students. What seems to be the norm, correct me if I am wrong, if you are a dual certified special education teacher you have additional responsibilities than a teacher who is not dual certified. I am not saying that general education teachers who are not dual certified are not working as hard as a dual certified teacher; what I am saying is dual cert. teachers have more responsibilities that require an action with documentation such as IEP meetings, IEP paper work, implementing the IEP etc. The school districts and the State are getting two teachers in one at the same pay scale.
I was in Dover recently for the JFC meeting when JFC members were asking DOE questions about DOE salary scale. It was interesting to hear the Department of Education and their reasoning behind the salaries. They spoke about the need to be competitive in order to attract the best people. They spoke about people doing multiple jobs under one title and there was a need to pay them more.
We have teachers performing multiple jobs as well under one title and not receiving one penny more. We really need to rethink how we are educating our children here in Delaware and what is expected from our staff who are responsible for making this happen. The necessary resources that are needed in our classrooms are not there. We are demanding our teachers to do more and more with less and less. The teachers I know, want to make a difference but cannot do that because of what is expected of them and what is lacking in their classrooms.
I have been meeting with teachers with Mike Matthews and what I have learned, there are no more play times for our children during their day. Yes, every grade in elementary school has recess but kindergarten students are being pushed and pushed and pushed. They do not have extra recess. They do not dress up or play house. They do not allow for make believe. Our kindergarten children are in school all day without a nap or any down time.
Both of my children (both had an IEP entering kindergarten) went to kindergarten for 2 1/2 hours a day and learned their letters and numbers, even mastered a little bit of reading but most of all they learned to love school. They learned to use their minds to pretend and to have dreams and they made friends. We made cupcakes, we had class parties, and we had fun all in 2 1/2 hours. We have taken all that away from them. We are creating a generation of children who will grow up being stressed or disliking school.
I thought kindergarten was suppose to be fun, letting children explore. I am so thankful that my children did not have to go to school for the entire day, they are five years old and have nine to ten hour days, think about it. They are sitting behind tables working all day long with no fun. Children learn at that age by exploring, creating and watching other children. When is this craziness going to stop?
NCSL (National Conference of State Legislatures) sent a summary of the Every Student Succeeds Act and I thought I would share it with all of you. It breaks down the ESSA highlighting important parts of the legislation.