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 theformer leaders with theft. According to aDelaware 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?
The PTA has grown into a powerful lobbyist over the years. My children attended Forest Oak Elementary School where I was very involved with the PTA–I served on many committees and was elected president for a total of four years. Our PTA received many awards from Delaware PTA while I was president. I have to say that I am beyond disappointed in the letter that was sent to the DE PTA. I never thought I would see the day that a national association who’s primary mission is to advocate on behalf of children would send this message to parents!
Below is from the National PTA website where they speak of family engagement. The letter they sent seems to point towards family disengagement.
Today’s PTA is a network of millions of families, students, teachers, administrators, and business and community leaders devoted to the educational success of children and the promotion of family engagement in schools.
Please take a minute and “LIKE” E.R. Educators to the Rescue on Facebook. This page was developed by two Delaware public school teachers. Below is information about their page.
This page is for public education teachers and those who support public education in Delaware. We sincerely want to improve the learning experiences of our students/children.
This page is meant to provide information all public school teachers and parents must know about testing; the who, what, when, where, why and hows of its creation, its longevity and the intensity that never lets up.
Our classrooms have transformed from actively engaging, creativity-based, vibrant learning environments that promote learning and foster a love of learning to a monotone atmosphere of digitalized learning, scripted lesson plans, assessment-laden daily activities. A severe disconnect from the joys of learning and discovery has occurred. The lights have gone out in our classrooms. Young children especially need interaction with a human teacher and one another, not a computer or tablet for a large portion of their day. They need to hear and see and feel and do and experience and observe. High-stakes testing has robbed us of our profession and taken the joy from teaching and from learning.
This intent of this page is to be nonpartisan and will support any and all political figures that provide assistance in helping to rescue our students from the over-use and developmentally inappropriateness of high stakes testing.
Simply put, you can hold schools, their teachers and administrators accountable for their job duties and end high-stakes standardized testing.
Join our group, get informed and start taking action. We ask all members to maintain conversations and comments to a professional level. If you fail to do so, you will be dismissed from the group and all offensive material will be deleted.
“Do the best you can until you know better. When you know better, do better.” Maya Angelou