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March 24, 2017

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Delaware News

Delaware 105.9
High school graduation rates up, dropout rates down, Delaware Department of Education reports
The Delaware Department of Education’s annual report, presented to the State Board of Education Thursday, heralded rising graduation rates and diminishing dropout rates. Graduation rates hit 84.66 percent, an increase of 84.3 percent in 2015 and 84.4 percent in 2014.  Only 547 of the 40,287 public school students enrolled in high school dropped out the previous school year, a rate of 1.4 percent, and a decrease of the previous year’s 2.2 percent.

Newark Post
Downes students pledge to ‘Spread the Word to End the Word’
Downes Elementary School Principal Patricia Prettyman doesn’t believe in the phrase, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.” “It’s not true,” she said. “Words do hurt.” That was the message behind Wednesday’s school assembly, which aimed to show students that what they say and how they treat others can have a lasting impact.

Department of Education
Delaware dropout rate down, graduation rate up
Press Release
More students than ever are staying in school as the number of high school dropouts continues to decline in Delaware public schools. The annual Delaware Department of Education reports, presented to the State Board of Education today, show 547 of 40,287 public school students enrolled in grades 9 to 12 dropped out of school last year, a rate of 1.4 percent. That is a decrease from the previous year’s rate of 2.2percent and the lowest rate in more than 30 years.

Coastal Point
IRSD considers cuts to teacher raises, club advisors, more
Budget cuts are coming to the Indian River School District. Even with an additional $7.5 million annual income in local property taxes, thanks to the recently passed current-expense referendum, IRSD staff expect to trim at least $5 million from next year’s budget. And that’s in addition to expected state budget cuts. “I’ll be honest — we have cut these budgets to bare bones, because we really need to get it down to a point we can [live with],” said IRSD Business Director Jan Steele.

‘Oh, the places they’ll go’
It’s 8 a.m. at Indian River High School. The bells have rung. The morning announcements have been made. And the River Café is officially open for business. Today, on the menu: coffee, tea and complimentary homemade cupcakes with green icing, in honor of St. Patrick’s Day. Senior Josh Timmons makes his way down the school’s history-rich hallways in his official green-and-gold River Café apron, pushing his cart, without paying much attention to the cart’s one stubborn wheel, wielding the day’s orders and approaching his first stop.

Speaker tells the students: Share your blessings and have hope
There is something to live and aspire for, said the man from Philadelphia. You just have to be ready when that opportunity comes. He calls himself “Principal El,” and his mission is to motivate, invigorate and inspire students and teachers across the country. The teacher, principal and motivational speaker Salome Thomas-El brought words of wisdom (and a few laughs) to Indian River High School and Selbyville Middle School on March 2.

The News Journal
Delaware 87ers reading program a slam dunk with kids
The Delaware 87ers’ reading program wants to be a slam dunk with kids, showing the importance of youth literacy through basketball. On Wednesday, the organization’s goal for the Education Day game was more just than winning. Kids were offered a unique learning opportunity with educational activities and a basketball. In November, the Delaware 87ers announced a partnership with Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children that works on improving youth literacy and promoting healthy development through reading.

Montessori schooling is the educational experience that many parents would create for their own
Opinion by Christine Carrino Gorowara and Linda Zankowsky
What kind of school would you choose for your children? Most parents would agree: one that could focus on their individual needs, one that fostered their independence and self-direction, encourages their unique interest and helps them develop necessary academic skills. For over 100 years, Montessori education has provided this kind of schooling to millions of children in the United States and around the world.

National News

Despite pushback, education panel votes to close five schools in de Blasio’s turnaround program
After outcry from some school communities, and near silence from others, the city’s plan to close five schools in its signature turnaround program was approved Wednesday night. The vote from the Panel for Educational Policy, which must sign off on school closures, came after nearly four hours of angry comments from parents, educators, and elected officials, many of whom said the city had gone back on its promise of giving their schools time to improve.

The New York Times
School choice fight in Iowa may preview the one facing Trump
When she was shopping for a school for her daughter Alma, Mary Kakayo found a lot to like in St. Theresa Catholic, including its Catholic social justice theme, student prayer and hour of religious instruction every day. “Morally, my child knows how to respect others,” said Ms. Kakayo, whose daughter is now in the fourth grade. “She knows when to listen, and when to talk and bring in her ideas.” For Ms. Kakayo and her husband, the best part may be that the school costs them only $85 per month.

The Texas Tribune
Senate Education Committee passes school choice legislation
After little debate Thursday, the Senate Education Committee voted 7-3 to pass legislation that would create two public programs subsidizing private school tuition and homeschooling expenses. Senate Bill 3, a priority for Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, now heads to the full Senate, where it’s also expected to pass. Corresponding bills have not been taken up by the House Public Education Committee.

School suspensions have plunged: We don’t yet know if that’s good news
We are in the midst of a quiet revolution in school discipline. In the past five years, 27 states have revised their laws with the intention of reducing suspensions and expulsions. And, more than 50 of America’s largest school districts have also reformed their discipline policies — changes which collectively affect more than 6.35 million students. A new paper from Max Eden, a senior fellow at the conservative-leaning Manhattan Institute, argues that this is all too much, too soon.

March 21, 2017

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Delaware News

Rodel Blog
Can personalized learning defray the cost of special education
Blog post by Rachel Wiggans Chan, senior program officer at the Rodel Foundation of Delaware
Special education costs nearly twice as much as regular classroom education, but early intervention can decrease special education costs by 40 percent. Scrapping the one-size-fits-all education system we have today and replacing it with an individualized approach may be just what’s needed to meet every students’ needs and maximize student success.

How dropping out leads to lost economic potential 
Blog post by Rachel Wiggans Chan, senior program officer at the Rodel Foundation of Delaware
The lost economic potential of high school dropouts is no joke for Delaware’s economy. Typically, high school dropouts earn $8,000 less annually, compared to high school graduates. In Delaware, high school dropouts are twice as likely as high school graduates and six times as likely as college graduates to live in poverty.

Legislative hall pass: Compulsory ed law aims to curb dropouts
Blog post by Neil Kirschling, program officer at the Rodel Foundation of Delaware
Discouraging drop-outs is a hot topic in Delaware this year, and one way that policymakers are seeking to accomplish this is by amending the state’s compulsory education law—the law that defines the age range in which a student is required to attend school or some other equivalent education program.

Sussex Countian
Sussex Central’s mock trial team takes second in state
The Sussex Central High School mock trial team has become quite a force, placing second in this year’s statewide competition Feb. 24 and 25. The team was formed 12 years ago, and Helen Elliot, a civics turned driver’s education teacher at Sussex Central, has coached it for seven. Out of 26 school teams Sussex Central ranked 25th in her first year coaching.

The News Journal
Serviam Academy students published in local magazine
It’s not every day that a middle schooler gets to brag about being a published author or artist — yet that’s exactly what not one, but five, students at Serviam Girls Academy got to do this month. Their works were recently published in IMAZINE, the annual teen literary and artistic magazine published by the Delaware Libraries. The girls — eighth-graders Briarra Barnes, Paige Ponzo Ta’maja Opher, and sixth-graders Dyana Escobar and Maekiera Costanzo — were recognized at a release party held at the Bear Library, where Delaware’s Poets Laureate, The Twin Poets, Nnamdi Chukwuocha and Albert Mills, were special guests.

Bipartisan bill would bring cursive back to schools
With the increasing prominence of cellphones and computers, some Delaware lawmakers are concerned that cursive writing is becoming a lost art. So, they are crossing party lines this month to sponsor a bill with one goal: to bring cursive writing back to public schools. “Under current educational standards, students are no longer required to be taught cursive writing and many schools have abandoned teaching cursive writing to students,” says the bill, sponsored by Rep. Andria Bennett, D-Dover.

The Milford Beacon
Banneker students put each other in check
When Liam Kilgore asked his teacher, Todd French, if they could start a chess club at Benjamin Banneker Elementary School, he was told to ask someone in charge. The 10-year-old didn’t have to go far — his mother, Bobbie Kilgore, is the principal. “I went to my mom and asked her and she gave me permission,” Kilgore said. The club, which consists of fourth- and fifth-graders, meets once a month after school in the cafeteria.

National News

How Denver Public Schools wants to drive a conversation about creating more integrated schools
Denver Public Schools is pledging to start a conversation about gentrification and spiraling housing costs in the city, hoping to use the results to create more integrated schools. The school board on Thursday approved a “Resolution for Strengthening Neighborhoods.” It calls for forming a citywide committee to study those demographic shifts, which are driving a major reduction in the number of school-age children in many neighborhoods.

Education Week
Kentucky schools poised for major shake-up
After years of ill-fated attempts, Kentucky is on a sure-footed path to becoming the 44th state to allow charter schools, one of two sweeping measures the legislature passed this session that promises to reshape the state’s K-12 education system. Kentucky’s new majority of Republican lawmakers—supported by a GOP governor—approved legislation to allow charter schools, start a process that could change or eventually repeal the Common Core State Standards, and strike at the core of the state’s unusual governance of schools.

The Hechinger Report
Why six states still spend nothing on preschool
In 1864, the tiny town of Idaho City was the biggest American settlement in the state. Now, with the gold rush long over, the logging industry nearly collapsed and few good jobs left in the area, the local K-12 school graduates fewer than 35 students a year. Nevertheless, since 1999, every 4-year-old in town has been offered an option most 4-year-olds in Idaho don’t get: a spot in a free, public preschool program.

The Salt Lake Tribune
Push to raise Utah income tax to help schools moving ahead
A group backed by business leaders said this week they plan to move ahead with a push to get Utah voters to raise the state income tax to generate an extra $750 million annually to address a teacher shortage, crowded classrooms and other school needs. Officials with the group Our Schools Now said they appreciate an extra $120 million lawmakers put in the new budget toward enrollment growth and teacher pay this year, but said it’s not enough.

Thomas B. Fordham Institute
Go for heaven on seven: Leverage the Title I school improvement set-aside for new school creation
Commentary by Michael J. Petrilli, president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute
“Taken from us too soon, after a valiant fight with ‘local control.’” So tweeted Morgan Polikoff after the Obama Administration’s ESSA accountability regulations succumbed to the Congressional Review Act. The rules shouldn’t go to heaven alone, however. We should also allow many of the nation’s lowest performing schools to pass on to a better place—and use the federal law’s 7 percent Title I set-aside to give birth to new schools in their stead.


3 Things I Learned From ECET2

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Blog post by Shani Benson, third grade inclusion teacher at South Dover Elementary

Last Saturday, my fellow Rodel Teacher Council members and I hosted ECET2 Delaware: Connecting Innovative Educators. Our goal was to provide a teacher-led professional development opportunity while celebrating the outstanding and tireless work that teachers do.

In all, we had three keynote speakers, two colleague circles, two breakout sessions of the attendees’ choosing, and breakfast, lunch, and snacks provided by the St. Georges Technical High School culinary arts students.

More than anything, I was amazed to see the power of a conference that was planned and led by teachers, for teachers. It was my first opportunity to attend a professional development event created by my peers. At the end of the day, three lingering thoughts bounced around in my mind.

  1. Teachers love to hear from other teachers.
    Teachers rarely get the opportunity to step outside of their schools and interact with other teachers. During the different ECET2 sessions I attended, much of the conversation was just learning about what each other does in our classrooms. From sharing our favorite apps to strategies for helping students understand content, teachers loved sharing their stories and their ideas. This was the spirit of ECET2, and to me, the best form of professional development, hands down.Jerod Phillips, associate principal at Seaford Middle School, one of three keynote speakers, underscored this sentiment during his talk on teacher-driven professional development. He spoke of his challenges as an educator and how he overcomes them through the advice and help from other educators, both locally and nationally through the use of online platforms like Twitter and Voxer.
  2. Teachers are dedicated creatures with a heart of giving.
    Let’s be honest…it was Saturday. And it wasn’t even an ordinary Saturday in February. It was a rare 70 beautiful degrees outside. As I drove to DelTech’s Terry Campus in Dover, I saw people playing in the park with their children, jogging on the trail, and looking so happy to be out in the weather.The teachers who attended ECET2 saw the weather and still showed up in Dover to celebrate effective teaching and teachers. This wasn’t some district-mandated professional development, and yet teacher came for a full-day of intensive training to learn how to improve their craft—on their own time and unpaid.That, to me, says so much about who we employ as teachers in Delaware. We understand that it is up to us to improve our craft and techniques so that we can improve the lives of our students. As our second keynote, Two Guys Who Sort Of Know What They’re Doing, said: “teachers are heroes without capes and we should act like it. We cannot wait because our students cannot wait.” I was so proud to be a part of that dedicated group on that unusually warm Saturday.
  3. ECET2 made me wonder why this doesn’t happen more often.
    As a teacher, I might know a handful of others teachers from the different districts. But on Saturday, I met various educators who share the same passion as I do. There were representatives from all three counties and educators who work in all fields, from early childhood to higher education.

I cannot remember the last time I was surrounded by so many colleagues. I found myself asking why events like ECET2 aren’t happening in schools and communities across the state. This event felt like a step in the right direction, and hopefully the Rodel Teacher Council continues to provide this opportunity and empowers others to do the same. We all need to challenge ourselves as teachers to think about taking hold of our own development, and consider hosting events like this in our schools.

Many people won’t know the love that was poured into the preparations, but I hope it was obvious. From the carefully thought-out sessions to the food that was lovingly prepared, the Rodel Teacher Council wanted to make this an amazing experience for the educators taking part in the conference.

If you were unable to attend this year, you can access all the resources and materials from ECET2 here and even check out Saturday’s activity on social media via our Storify. We look forward to seeing you again soon.

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