BlueSky school vows to fight Department of Education's attempt to shut it down

Minnesota's first online high school vowed to fight for its survival after the state took action to shutter it Monday. Full Story
Teacher who cares

Sauk Rapids, MN

#23 Mar 9, 2011
2 sense wrote:
<quoted text>
So two former disgruntled employees have that much power they can make the Department of Education make up stuff that are lies? Your argument doesn't make any sense!
It's pretty hard to believe, but when you put two crazy people together with nothing better to do, they can cause a lot of issues.(I don't think you have to go to far to find similar situations.) BlueSky may have had some issues in the past, however with new State Approved curriculum, quality state alignments and outstanding Administration they are on course to be a premiere 7-12 Minnesota school.
Justice Speak

Rochester, MN

#24 Mar 9, 2011
outstate wrote:
My 2nd kid goes to BlueSky. I can compare their coursework with my older child's local bricks and mortar coursework. The courses are the same. My kid has more one on one contact with her teachers than at the bricks and mortar. As a parent I am happy with BlueSky. It is not for every student but it is great for some. My BlueSky kid is respectful of her elders and can communicate with her peers.
The courses are the same? Hardly. I worked there, so I KNOW better. And your child certainly couldn't have had more one on one contact if he/she ever attended the brick and mortar school.
Justice Speak

Rochester, MN

#25 Mar 9, 2011
Chopper wrote:
"In November, the Department of Education threatened to start withholding $18,000 a day in state aid if BlueSky didn't offer evidence it had addressed concerns raised in two state audits."
Um,$18,000 a day in state aid funding? This is an online school that is costing taxpayers 18K a day?
W-T-H?
If only it was only $18,000/day. The fine was only a percentage of the actual cost. I agree with you, even $18,000 is too much for this school.
Justice Speak

Rochester, MN

#26 Mar 9, 2011
Teacher who cares wrote:
<quoted text>
It's pretty hard to believe, but when you put two crazy people together with nothing better to do, they can cause a lot of issues.(I don't think you have to go to far to find similar situations.) BlueSky may have had some issues in the past, however with new State Approved curriculum, quality state alignments and outstanding Administration they are on course to be a premiere 7-12 Minnesota school.
Let's get this accurate. It can only be state approved curriculum if MDE approves it. Obviously MDE hasn't approved it. Two crazy people? Seriously? Is that all the better you can come up with? Then there must be a lot more crazy people out there, because our politicians, Governor, MDE, the previous authorizer,the media, many students and parents who previously attended BlueSky, and countless others all agree with these "crazy people." HMMMMMMMMMM, who is the crazy one? And wrong, your "issues of the past" are not gone, that is the problem. Outstanding administration - oh you mean two of the same people who broke the laws in the first place who are still there? You mean those outstanding administrators? Yeah right.
Justice Speak

Rochester, MN

#27 Mar 9, 2011
Buttomfly wrote:
And you don't think kids who don't meet the standards are graduating? Really? Considering the standards change every few years. Once a kid is labeled ADD or ADHD, not necessarily due to a diagnosis but rather a
bored kid who refuses to learn lessons that have no practical use in the real world their standards change. I wish both my kids had had access to online educations in high school. Once they were in college they did fabulous with both online and in school classes. They were suddenly interested in the curriculum because it made sense to what the real world expected of them. Also, their favorite teachers all through school were educators who had real life experience and were teachers because they wanted to share not only prepared materials but their life experiences as well.
This is not what the story is about. This is about a school intentionally graduating students who had not met the standards. The standards do NOT change every few years and it is not rocket science - speaking from the viewpoint of a teacher with many years of experience. I am sorry you children struggled in school, but it is better for them to have had the education they were entitled to have under state law than to be deprived of their rights as these children had done to them at this school. If your children had problems, you should have contacted PACER or hired a lawyer.
Justice Speak

Rochester, MN

#28 Mar 9, 2011
"BlueSky vows to fight the Department of Education's attempt to shut it down." If only this school would take the same vow to follow the law and give our students the education they deserve by law. If they were that forceful and determined to have fixed things, this wouldn't be going on in the first place...if only -
Kcpb

West Fargo, ND

#29 Mar 9, 2011
Blue sky is designed to be a good safe online school, kid's parents should not let their kids cheat, the people who were trying to shut BKO down is trying to make them bankrupt now by telling their sponsor to stop funding. I think this should be illegal. It's their parent's choice if the kids are online or at school. Parents can say no. There is no way to stop a kid from cheating, it will happen. Should we shut down a school because 1 to 5 kids out of 100 are cheating? NO.
Kcpb

West Fargo, ND

#30 Mar 9, 2011
2 sense wrote:
<quoted text>
So two former disgruntled employees have that much power they can make the Department of Education make up stuff that are lies? Your argument doesn't make any sense!
The employees were fired for going against the rules and making it difficult to work. they started a campaign against us with the Department of Education. The D of E [Department of Education] asked Blue Sky to give them evidence and change the curriculum,so they did, but the Department of Education wouldn't stop and now are trying to get the charter sponsor to pull their money. They said that kids are graduating who are not qualified. But that is a lie.
Gus

Plymouth, MN

#31 Mar 9, 2011
Justice Speak wrote:
<quoted text>
Let's get this accurate. It can only be state approved curriculum if MDE approves it. Obviously MDE hasn't approved it. Two crazy people? Seriously? Is that all the better you can come up with? Then there must be a lot more crazy people out there, because our politicians, Governor, MDE, the previous authorizer,the media, many students and parents who previously attended BlueSky, and countless others all agree with these "crazy people." HMMMMMMMMMM, who is the crazy one? And wrong, your "issues of the past" are not gone, that is the problem. Outstanding administration - oh you mean two of the same people who broke the laws in the first place who are still there? You mean those outstanding administrators? Yeah right.
Facts are facts:
1. Two disgruntled former employees were fired.
2. These two employees have gone to numerous media outlets and the MDE as whistleblowers against BlueSky.
3. BlueSky has made MDE approved changes to their curriculum, requirements, and administration.
4. The MDE is feeling pressure to hold charter schools to higher standards, and looks to be making an example of BlueSky, despite these changes.
5. Online education does not fit all students, but definitely can be a viable option for a certain student population.
6. This option will no longer be there if the state does indeed shut them down, despite the approved changes.
7. The hundreds of students who count on BlueSky will no longer have that option, and dozens of staff members will be out of work if BlueSky does indeed close.

So the question is, were the intentions of the two disgruntled former employees to bring light to problems at BlueSky, or to shut it down?
Teacher who cares

Sauk Rapids, MN

#32 Mar 9, 2011
Justice Speak wrote:
"BlueSky vows to fight the Department of Education's attempt to shut it down." If only this school would take the same vow to follow the law and give our students the education they deserve by law. If they were that forceful and determined to have fixed things, this wouldn't be going on in the first place...if only -
That makes me wonder if you are a teacher for the school or a student or parent? Because unless you are actually working within the school or taking classes from the school how would you know what is going on within it?
Bruin

Cottonwood, AZ

#33 Mar 9, 2011
Teacher who cares wrote:
<quoted text>
That makes me wonder if you are a teacher for the school or a student or parent? Because unless you are actually working within the school or taking classes from the school how would you know what is going on within it?
Methinks Justice Speaks has a favorite dog in this fight.

Since: Jan 11

United States

#34 Mar 9, 2011
82 percent of US schools may be labeled 'failing'
(AP) 1 hour ago

An estimated 82 percent of U.S. schools could be labeled as "failing" under the nation's No Child Left Behind Act this year, Education Secretary Arne Duncan said Wednesday.

The Department of Education estimates the number of schools not meeting targets will skyrocket from 37 to 82 percent in 2011 because states are toughening their standards to meet the requirements of the law. The schools will face sanctions ranging from offering tutoring to closing their doors.

"No Child Left Behind is broken and we need to fix it now," Duncan said in a statement. "This law has created a thousand ways for schools to fail and very few ways to help them succeed."

Duncan delivered the news in remarks to a House education and work force committee hearing, in urging lawmakers to rewrite the Bush-era act. The law was established in 2002 and many education officials and experts argue it is overdue for changes.

President Barack Obama has highlighted reforming the act as a priority for his administration, and both Democrats and Republicans have agreed that it needs to be changed though disagreements remain on how.

The current law sets annual student achievement targets designed with the goal of having all students proficient in math and reading by 2014, a standard now viewed as wildly unrealistic.

Duncan said the law has done well in shining a light on achievement gaps among minority and low-income students, as well as those who are still learning English or have disabilities. But he said the law is loose on goals and narrow on how schools get there when it should be the opposite.

"We should get out of the business of labeling schools as failures and create a new law that is fair and flexible, and focused on the schools and students most at risk," Duncan said.

The Department of Education said its estimate was based on four years of data and the assuming all schools would improve at the same rate as the top quartile.

"Even under these assumptions, 82 percent of America's schools could be labeled 'failing' and, over time, the required remedies for all of them are the same which means we will really fail to serve the students in greatest need," Duncan said.
hud222

Millington, MI

#35 Mar 9, 2011
Our child attended Bluesky for 4 years. He had the most one on one I have ever experienced from a brick school. He had some health issues and all the teachers were on the same page. We all had a meeting on the phone with all teachers present. At his previous school half the teachers were absent and they were not all on the same page and my child had a hard time learning. I think the State Department needs to start checking into the Brick schools also and see that they are failing to prepare there children also. In homeroom the teacher played an R movie to the kids while the teacher went off to another room with another female and that went on for quite sometime and the kids were supposed to be talking about school and any problems to this homeroom teacher....what were they learning??? Bluesky is very on top of things and my child learned more in 1 year than 3 of the years he was in regular school. BlueSky is one of the best online schools out there!!
Moe

Cottonwood, AZ

#36 Mar 9, 2011
Wolverines wrote:
82 percent of US schools may be labeled 'failing'
(AP) 1 hour ago
An estimated 82 percent of U.S. schools could be labeled as "failing" under the nation's No Child Left Behind Act this year, Education Secretary Arne Duncan said Wednesday.
The Department of Education estimates the number of schools not meeting targets will skyrocket from 37 to 82 percent in 2011 because states are toughening their standards to meet the requirements of the law. The schools will face sanctions ranging from offering tutoring to closing their doors.
"No Child Left Behind is broken and we need to fix it now," Duncan said in a statement. "This law has created a thousand ways for schools to fail and very few ways to help them succeed."
Duncan delivered the news in remarks to a House education and work force committee hearing, in urging lawmakers to rewrite the Bush-era act. The law was established in 2002 and many education officials and experts argue it is overdue for changes.
President Barack Obama has highlighted reforming the act as a priority for his administration, and both Democrats and Republicans have agreed that it needs to be changed though disagreements remain on how.
The current law sets annual student achievement targets designed with the goal of having all students proficient in math and reading by 2014, a standard now viewed as wildly unrealistic.
Duncan said the law has done well in shining a light on achievement gaps among minority and low-income students, as well as those who are still learning English or have disabilities. But he said the law is loose on goals and narrow on how schools get there when it should be the opposite.
"We should get out of the business of labeling schools as failures and create a new law that is fair and flexible, and focused on the schools and students most at risk," Duncan said.
The Department of Education said its estimate was based on four years of data and the assuming all schools would improve at the same rate as the top quartile.
"Even under these assumptions, 82 percent of America's schools could be labeled 'failing' and, over time, the required remedies for all of them are the same which means we will really fail to serve the students in greatest need," Duncan said.
What is the percentage relationship to the number of union teachers to the number of school failures. I believe they are very similar.
Fight For Blue Sky

Rochester, MN

#37 Mar 9, 2011
shut it down wrote:
Blue sky online school is a joke. Children are not learning from their curriculum. BKO getting shut down is the right thing to do> CHILDREN NEED TO BE IN SCHOOL. With no structure or supervision, no wonder most students are failing.!
That's a lie. Kids fail in public school and no one makes a big deal. So why is it if a student fails at online school it makes the news? It doesn't matter if they're in front of a teacher or a computer screen. Its the kids fault if they're not doing the work.
Fight For Blue Sky

Rochester, MN

#38 Mar 9, 2011
Blue Sky should not be shut down. I go there and I am doing better than I did in public school. The teachers are there to help. And they do. For some people blue sky is a better school for them. I feel it easier to focus when I'm alone and not around my friends. In public school there are so many distractions that cause a student to fail not including all the students that DON'T try. Blue Sky eliminates the distractions of friends and annoying classmates. So if you got to online school and your still failing, then the blame is on YOU. Just because your in online doesn't mean you don't have to try. No matter where you go you have to try your hardest to graduate. It is and outrage to hear that Blue Sky will be shut down. I love it there. I find it easier to learn online. Colleges have online courses and its just the same as Blue Sky just different curriculum.So please if you go there or have a kid that goes there help keep Blue Sky stay a school!
LeDumbo

Saint Paul, MN

#39 Mar 9, 2011
veteducator1 wrote:
Bluesky has been graduating students who have not met state standards for graduating - they have been doing this for as many years as they have been in existence. The "two disgruntled ex-employees", as well as others who were fired, attempted to bring this issue to the attention of the administrators. Formers employees also attempted to inform the administration that the curriculum was not aligned to state standards and instead of working with these educators, the administration fired them and continued to provide a curriculum that did not have the state standards embedded. It amazes me how some of the public take a position about traditional classroom teachers being held accountable but then turn around and accuse the state's governing agency for singling out Bluesky when this school has been investigated for over two years, has had numerous opportunities to revise their curriculum to meet standards, and continues to graduate students who do not meet the standards. As a veteran teacher and school counselor in Minnesota, I find it shocking that people in my own profession can be so unethical as to graduate students who do not meet state standards, not to mention that it is against the law. They should all lose their licenses!
Tell you what educator, put the Blue Sky kids in a test room and have them take an exam against their brick and mortar peers. Then you will know if it works or not. Maybe we could compare ACT scores of the two groups. You are just afraid because things are changing, things like the teacher's union in Wisconsin getting hamstrung. The unions will allow our kids to get a better education, or they will go away.
LeDumbo

Saint Paul, MN

#40 Mar 9, 2011
Justice Speak wrote:
<quoted text>
Let's get this accurate. It can only be state approved curriculum if MDE approves it. Obviously MDE hasn't approved it. Two crazy people? Seriously? Is that all the better you can come up with? Then there must be a lot more crazy people out there, because our politicians, Governor, MDE, the previous authorizer,the media, many students and parents who previously attended BlueSky, and countless others all agree with these "crazy people." HMMMMMMMMMM, who is the crazy one? And wrong, your "issues of the past" are not gone, that is the problem. Outstanding administration - oh you mean two of the same people who broke the laws in the first place who are still there? You mean those outstanding administrators? Yeah right.
Sounds like you were one of the two people fired, or a family member......
AllTaxpayerMoney

Farmington, MN

#41 Mar 10, 2011
LeDumbo wrote:
<quoted text>Tell you what educator, put the Blue Sky kids in a test room and have them take an exam against their brick and mortar peers. Then you will know if it works or not. Maybe we could compare ACT scores of the two groups. You are just afraid because things are changing, things like the teacher's union in Wisconsin getting hamstrung. The unions will allow our kids to get a better education, or they will go away.
Yes! Let's do that! But you won't find one teacher, counselor, or administrator at BlueSky to go along with that. You know why? For every one student with a passing grade there are 10 with failing ones. Trust me, I used to send out the report cards. And that is with watered down curriculum and "exceptions" at every turn. What a joke. BlueSky should be thanking their lucky stars that they don't have to answer to property taxpayers like traditional districts. But go ahead, keep spending my money on your lawyers!
Tara

Springfield, IL

#42 Mar 10, 2011
trolls wrote:
<quoted text>
It makes sense for SOME, but not for all. Certain students can do very well at an online school. Students that can be self-motivators, students that worry about bullying, students with physical disabilities, or mental disabilities. However, could you imagine a future workforce of ONLY kids who have done online HS, who have never had to show respect to a teacher, or use basic communication skills with peers? Like I said, online HS is a great fit for some kids, but certainly not for all.
This is why only SOME kids go to online school. If a child is doing perfectly well in public mortar-brick school, they have no reason to look for alternate ways.
It gives kids a chance to get out of the distracting dramatic environment of public school. Although it is good for kids to have peer interaction, Bluesky is not implying that their entire life is spent on the internet. There is more to education and life than structured education. Online school can also support other goals their students might have in their adolescence, that would conflict with a traditionally school schedule.
Also, at bluesky it is necessary that you treat your teachers with respect, even if it is through a telephone or an email.

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