Archive for May, 2013

Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium releases new practice tests

May 29, 2013 Comments off

Red Clay SuperPAC meeting Wednesday May 29, 8:30 AM at District Office

May 28, 2013 Comments off

The first publicly announced meeting of the Superintendent’s Parent Council will be held Wednesday morning at the Red Clay District Office (Baltz). We first wrote about SuperPAC earlier this month: Red Clay SuperPAC blinks and squints in the sunlight

Red Clay has committed to posting the quarterly meetings in advance on its home page, under the What’s Happening section. The agenda is now posted there too. I don’t know if the meeting dates or agendas are accessible permanently elsewhere after they scroll off the home page.

It is important to note that you or any member of the public can attend meetings of the Superintendent’s Parent Council. You do not need to be a member or have special permission to attend. SuperPAC is a public body and is covered under the open meetings provisions of Delaware’s FOIA law. The meetings are at 8:30 in the morning, so I wouldn’t expect a crowd.

HOWEVER… Breakfast is served at this meeting, but meal planning is based on the regular attendees only. So if you are an unexpected attendee, be courteous and make sure you don’t eat up these people’s breakfast! Plan on eating before the meeting.

For policy wonks, the agenda looks meaty, with a rare chance to hear about some real issues (that aren’t already decided yet!), with some of Red Clay’s top officials attending. I’ve been researching and posting about the Grade Reporting overhaul, so this will be another welcome opportunity to hear what is going on and fill in some more information gaps.

Superintendent’s Parent Council Meeting
May 29, 2013
8:30 am to 10:30 am


1. Welcome – Superintendent, Dr. Merv Daugherty

2. RTTT – Irene Hills

3. Strategic Plan – Dr. Hugh Broomall
Goal 1 – Dr. Ken Goodwin
Goal 2 – Andrea Lanciault
Goal 3 – Dr. Hugh Broomall
Goal 4 – Sam Golder
Goal 5 – Malik Stewart

4. Update on Grade Reporting – Dr. Hugh Broomall

5. Closing Remarks


Red Clay’s Article 23 committees

May 25, 2013 16 comments

I always got the feeling that when it came to policy development, parent involvement in Red Clay is mostly window dressing. It seems like the issues brought before the official parent involvement committees have already been decided, and they are just quickly running it by the parents to get their parent engagement ticket punched. Rarely does a meaningful discussion break out or a vote taken. And the issues presented never seem to touch the instructional policies at the heart of the classroom.

But now I am starting to understand why that is. And the explanation was found in the last place I expected – the RCEA contract (the Red Clay teacher’s union). I mean I was really surprised.

Now bear with me because we are getting into the weeds here. Red Clay has four committees in particular that deal with core classroom issues:

Discipline Committee
Grade Reporting and Procedures Committee
Special Education Committee
Technology Committee

These are the kinds of issues parents want to be involved in, right? I know I do. But don’t go looking for information about these committees on the Red Clay website, and don’t expect to see the meeting information posted in advance. For information about these committees, you have to read the RCEA contract (Article 23). And the first thing it says is:

Each committee shall have a maximum of five (5) representatives appointed by the Superintendent and five (5) representatives appointed by the Association President.

See something missing? No parents. Membership is contractually capped, so parents are de facto locked out of representation on these critical committees. Unless that is, you can persuade the union or the superintendent to use one or more of their five picks to put parents on the committees.

(click to enlarge)

The committees and their responsibilities are poorly defined by the contract language, and aren’t defined at all on the Red Clay website. But among other responsibilities, I am pretty sure these committees have advisory input into the policy development process. These committees are the kitchens where the early creative work of policy development takes place and policies are drafted, with root causes discussed, and different approaches considered and batted around. And parents don’t have a seat at the table.

Parent representation would be great, but we all know of committees where handpicked parents are appointed and you never hear from them again. So in addition to parent representation, we need transparency. These four committees are open meetings covered by FOIA, but the district has not been compliant by posting meeting schedules, agendas, or minutes. Even if parents aren’t on the committees, they are at least open meetings and parents should be notified of the time, location, and agenda.

So far I don’t think this is a dark comspiracy to deny parent involvement – it just looks like one. Having first considered malice, now I must consider the alternative explanation. The contract language looks like it was there forever and hasn’t really been reviewed lately. I contacted the District and RCEA, Both committed to review the issue amd get back to me later. To be fair, this is a busy time of year for them. I’ll wait.

Board Policy 9002 – Parental Involvement states:

The expectation set in place by this policy is that the Red Clay Consolidated School District Board of Education (“Board”) will actively involve parents in the joint development of the District’s parental involvement policies, programs, and activities. This policy must be applied in all instances of District operation. All employees are expected to comply with this policy. If this policy is not implemented, the fundamental concepts of the District’s mission may not be accomplished.

The policy also goes on to state:

This policy is needed to satisfy the requirements of Section 1118(a)(2) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), which requires school districts receiving Title I funds to develop for the district a written parental involvement policy that establishes the district’s expectations and specifically describes how the district will meet the required components of the policy.

At this time of year when Red Clay is annually reviewing and resubmitting its Consolidated Grant application, this might be a good time to open up transparency and boast that parents now have a seat at the table on these core advisory committees.

Space jam

May 22, 2013 Comments off

Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield records and releases his own version of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” on his last day onboard the International Space Station.

Pike Creek Charter meeting tomorrow, Tuesday May 21

May 20, 2013 1 comment

The proposed Pike Creek Charter Middle School is hosting a public meeting tomorrow, Tuesday May 21 at 7:00 pm at the proposed school location, the current Delaware Swim and Fitness club in Pike Creek at 4905 Mermaid Blvd.

This is the second “town hall” meeting for Pike Creek Charter. The first meeting was on December 13 and was reported here. Tomorrow’s meeting flyer says:

Come join us for our second Town Hall meeting to learn more about Pike Creek Charter Middle School and receive first-hand updates on where we are in the approval process!

The Pike Creek Charter application is here:

The public hearing for the Pike Creek application (along with other charter issues) is on June 4:

What action to take relative from the Final Meetings of Kuumba Academy and MOT Charter modification applications; and the new application of Pike Creek Charter Middle School.

Presumably the vote will take place at the following State Board of Education meeting.

Mermaid Boulevard is off Skyline Drive, right where Skyline makes that sharp turn behind the Acme at the Pike Creek Shopping Center (watch for traffic!). Just keep going up the hill until you see the building on the right. It’s the former Pike Creek Fitness club, now named Delaware Swim and Fitness.

Red Clay parents: Take back RCPAC Monday night May 20, 5:45 pm @Lewis Elementary

May 19, 2013 Comments off

Red Clay parents, we still need more of your voices at RCPAC!

Tonight is the LAST CHANCE this school year to take back RCPAC and put the “Advisory” back into the Red Clay Parent Advisory Council. RCPAC takes a break over the summer and meets again in September (although subcommittees continue working over the summer).

The meeting starts at 5:45 pm in the Lewis Dual Language Elementary School (directions – 920 North VanBuren Street) The meeting will be held in the cafeteria which has a direct entrance on 10th street. There is street parking in front of the school on Van Buren Street as well parking lots accessible from 10th Street.

The main agenda item is sharing fundraising ideas.


May 15, 2013 Comments off

ME: (in stern parent voice to teenage son) Do you need Internet to do your homework?

SON: Yes.

ME: Am I going to catch you playing Minecraft?

SON: (deadpan) Probably not. I’m very stealthy.

Students in the mist

May 10, 2013 3 comments

Oh Lord:

In addition, the district transported its school staff through the feeder neighborhoods of the students so that the staff can witness the diverse lives and experiences of our children and families outside of school. (from Red Clay RTTT success plan)

Did this really happen?

Red Clay SuperPAC blinks and squints in the sunlight

May 6, 2013 1 comment

You may have noticed a new meeting pop up on the Red Clay home page that wasn’t there before:

Superintendent Parent Council Meeting
May 29, 2013 – 8:30 a.m.
District Office

SuperPAC is a District-run parent involvement group that has been around for years, but I only recently heard of it. That is understandable, because the meetings weren’t posted, and there really isn’t much info out there. That is all changing now.

I first heard about it when I asked the District office what parent input opportunities would be provided for the new Homework Policy, and they said (among other things) that the draft policy would be presented to the Superintendent’s Parent Council. I said “The what??”

Now Red Clay has committed to posting the meeting dates and agendas on the home page of the Red Clay website (the May 29 meeting is there now). The agenda isn’t up yet, but under the law they don’t have to post it until 7 days before the meeting. SuperPAC meetings are quarterly at the District office at 8:30 in the morning.

It is important to note that you or any member of the public can attend meetings of the Superintendent’s Parent Council. You do not need to be a member or have special permission to attend. SuperPAC is a public body and is covered under the open meetings provisions of Delaware’s FOIA law. The meetings are at 8:30 in the morning, so I wouldn’t expect a crowd.

Establishing the Council was promised in Red Clay’s 2008 ARRA application as part of the response to “Objective 2.4: Encourage frequent, open communication between the district and its stakeholders.” Since then Red Clay has cited SuperPAC in its strategic plan, and in multiple Federal documents including Title 1 grant applications as evidence that the District is fulfilling its parent engagement obligations.

SuperPAC does not appear to have any published bylaws. According to Red Clay, SuperPAC is “informal” and has no decision-making authority and takes no votes. Its purpose is to hear information from the district and convey it to their school organizations. That is news to me.

How one becomes a member is unclear, but after locating and speaking to a few members it appears to be a tap-on-the-shoulder kind of thing. But membership doesn’t really appear to be relevant, since no votes are taken. Presumably the only thing that membership confers is that you are on the distribution list for email notification of the meetings. Now that the meeting dates and agendas will be published, anyone may come.

Although no minutes are taken, I have obtained a few recent agendas to give an idea of what is discussed. Compared with topics presented to RCPAC, the SuperPAC discussions appear to be somewhat more substantive.

There are more attendees at SuperPAC than the better-publicized RCPAC. From a January 2013 presentation to the Board on Strategic Plan progress: