1 to 5 Star Ratings Are Being Pushed by Some Members of the State’s ESSA Advisory Committee


I was a member of the ESSA Advisory Committee and our last ESSA meeting was last week. I read the entire updated draft ESSA Plan, 90 + pages, and there are a few things that are very troubling – one being the state would like to move forward with the continued labeling of our public schools with a 1 to 5 star rating – similar to a hotel rating. There were members of the ESSA Advisory Committee who support the 1 to 5 star rating but there were members who opposed it. 

There are schools in Delaware that are allowed to select their students based on grades, attendance, behavior, a test, an interview, or a state assessment. There are schools in Delaware that have low percentages of ELL, Spec Ed and Low Income students compared to other schools in our state. How can we compare our schools when some schools can admit students based on academics? How can we compare schools when certain public schools are “Counseling out” students with disabilities  – other schools enrollment practices limits access to certain student populations? How can we compare schools when certain schools can say to a family this school is not the right fit for your child? How can we compare schools when some schools are testing in March compared to those schools that test in April or May? Our bigger schools will have to test earlier so they can test all the students to meet the 95% participation rate so they are not penalized and the smaller schools can afford more classroom time because the size of their school.

Recently, I wrote to the Department of Education, asking why Family Foundation Charter School was approved for a name change. DOE’s response was: Family Foundations Academy stated its rational for the name change was, “There have been many changes in the last two years for Family Foundations.  These changes have included new leadership, new curriculum and a new focus for our future.  With all of these changes we have been focusing on the impact we wish to have in New Castle County as well as the city of New Castle. We are deeply committed to seeing the children of New Castle actualize into adults that make a deep and positive impact on our future.   We want our name to reflect our focus on our community.

Family Foundations Charter School has had plenty of bad press during the last few years. Two of their former leaders were accused of misspending school funds and Federal prosecutors have charged one of the former leaders with theft. According to a Delaware Online article from January 2015, one leader made $73,956.02 in purchases with the cards, while the other leader spent a total of $20,673.85. I have provided a link to the Delaware Auditor’s Office audit on Family Foundation.  The Department of Education and the State Board of Education supported Family Foundations name change but is pushing for the 1 to 5 Star rating – so there is a different set of standards in place when it comes to some of our public schools. The state approved two/three name changes for Moyer Academy Charter School which eventually closed. Changing the name of a charter school attempts to conceal the issues, which in the end hurts the students and community. These schools should to keep their names so we can make sure they are actually improving and that they are transparent. How can our State Board of Education hold some of our public schools to a higher standard than others?  

Gary Rubinstein: Lying about Detroit and Muskegon Heights and Michigan

Diane Ravitch's blog

In the debate about the appointment of Betsy DeVos, the failure of her brand of reform in Michigan has not gotten enough attention. Would you hire a plumber whose previous jobs were all failures? Would you trust your car to an auto mechanic who was known to be incompetent? Would you go to a doctor who lost his medical license for malpractice?

DeVos’s allies have been beating the drums about a Detroit miracle, but no one else can see it but them. Despite more than 20 years of charters, the Detroit school district is the lowest performing urban district on NAEP. As the Detroit Free Press has repeatedly written, many of the charters in Detroit are failing schools. DeVos fought off legislative efforts to impose accountability on charters.

Most recently, one of the boosters for privatization in Michigan published an article about the miracle of Muskegon Heights, a predominantly African…

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Please Send a Tweet to Senator Deb Fischer of Nebraska @Senatorfischer

Diane Ravitch's blog

Senator Deb Fischer of Nebraska is the deciding vote on the nomination of Betsy DeVos.

Apparently DeVos promised not to force vouchers and charters on Nebraska. But, Senator Fischer is making a decision that will affect every state in the nation, not just Nebraska. State’s like North Carolina, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Florida, the Rust Belt, the Deep South, the Midwest will see hundreds of millions–nay, billions–of public funds taken away from public schools and transferred to religious schools with no certified teachers and to charter schools that are neither accountable nor transparent, with academic performance no better than public schools and possibly worse.

Senator Fischer’s mother was a public school teacher. Senator Fischer served on her local school board and was president of the Nebraska School Boards Association.

Please reach out to her. Her twitter handle is @senatorfischer.

She needs to know that the future of public education in America…

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Network for Public Education Vows to Carry Fight Against DeVos to Senate Floor!

Diane Ravitch's blog

The Network for Public Educations vows to carry the fight for a qualified Secretary of Education to the Senate floor.

We now have more than 300,000 members, located in every state.

We will fight for a Secretary of Education who will uphold the laws, support the right to an education for all children, and strengthen our public schools.


NPE just released this statement:

Although disappointed by the decision of the HELP committee to send the vote on Betsy DeVos to the Senate floor, The Network for Public Education (NPE) was pleased by the strong opposition to DeVos. All Democrats voted against DeVos. Senators Collins of Maine and Murkowski of Alaska while voting to move her nomination forward, would not commit to voting for her when the vote comes to the full Senate.

“Betsy DeVos put a spotlight on the threat to public education that charters-both online and brick and…

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Senator Tim Kaine Explains Why He Will Vote NO on DeVos

Diane Ravitch's blog

Just in case you thought that no one on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee understood that Betsy DeVos is a threat to the future of public education, read Senator Tim Kaine’s letter.


January 26, 2017


Thank you for contacting me about the nomination of Betsy DeVos to be Secretary of Education.  I appreciate hearing from you.

Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution requires the advice and consent of the Senate on certain appointments made by the President, including cabinet secretaries.  The committee of jurisdiction for each nomination conducts hearings with respect to each candidate before they are considered by the full Senate.  Members of the Senate have a responsibility to ensure that nominees possess the qualifications, integrity, and independence that is necessary to carry out the responsibilities of the job on behalf of the American people.  I take my responsibility to scrutinize every…

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Mercedes Schneider on Betsy DeVos, the Voucher Queen

Diane Ravitch's blog

Think of Betsy DeVos as the Darth Vader of public schools. Has she ever visited a public school? Why does she think they are all failing?

Mercedes Schneider noticed how many fliers she was receiving in the mail, urging her to take advantage of Louisiana’s voucher program. The fliers came from the Alliance for School Choice. Who do you think leads that anti-public school group? Betsy DeVos.

Schneider noticed that most of the vouchers were targeted for students in New Orleans, where reformers have almost extinguished public schools. They are trying to poach students from charter schools to apply for vouchers!

Of the hundreds of thousands of students eligible for vouchers in Louisiana, only 1% have applied. Not exactly a stampede.

Parents in Louisiana are choosing public schools.

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House Democrats Send Letter to Sen. Coons and Carper Urging Them to Oppose Betsy DeVos

The House Democrats sent a letter to Sen. Coons and Carper urging them to oppose Betsy DeVos as the next U.S. Secretary of Education.

Specifically, we are concerned about Ms. DeVos’ lack of knowledge of basic education policy, her advocacy for private school vouchers, her views on guns in schools and her positions on civil rights.

Teachers, students and parents deserve a Secretary of Education who will push for the improvements to strengthen our public education system, not weaken it.

Below is the letter that was sent to the Senators.

A Few Delaware Legislators Sign onto a Letter in Support of Betsy DeVos Appointment as Secretary of Education

Below is the letter that was sent to Senator Alexander, Chairman of the US Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. I thought it was interesting to see a few Delaware State Senators signed onto the letter.

An Open Letter to Senator Lamar Alexander Regarding Betsy DeVos

Diane Ravitch's blog

From 1991 to 1993, I worked for Secretary of Education Lamar Alexander in the administration of President George H.W. Bush. I was Assistant Secretary in charge of the Office of Education Research and Improvement and also Counselor to the Secretary of Education. Lamar Alexander is now Senator from Tennessee and Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee (HELP), which is evaluating the qualifications of Betsy DeVos to be U.S. Secretary of Education.*

An Open Letter to Senator Lamar Alexander

Dear Lamar,

I hope you don’t mind my taking the liberty of writing you a public letter.

I was just reading your book of sayings, the “Little Plaid Book.” For those who don’t know, this is your book of “311 rules, lessons, and reminders about running for office and making a difference whether it’s for president of the United States or president of your senior class.”

The main…

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