Will Red Clay Throw Their Priority School Teachers Under The Bus?

Delaware Priority Schools Takeover


In reading Matthew Albright’s News Journal article on the Priority Schools from Thanksgiving, it’s very clear there are some “read between the lines” parts of the article.  The most glaring is the parts by Deputy Superintendent Hugh Broomall:

“We’ve been able to work collaboratively with the Department of Education and our school communities to come up with a plan that we think is in the best interest of these schools and their students,” Deputy Superintendent Hugh Broomall said.

This sounds good, right?  The key words are “school communities”.  This does not show the overall community.  Part of the whole reason for needing more time was to work with the overall community.  Something Christina School District has done.  But Albright goes on to say this:

Broomall encouraged anyone in the affected schools’ communities to read the plan and reach out to the district if they have concerns.

So Red Clay is going to write their plan without any input from parents and members of the community?  This sounds absurd!  It tells me they are going to comply with the Delaware DOE as much as humanly possible.  I think Markell would relax a bit on the $160,000 requirement for a school leader but I highly doubt he is going to allow these schools to keep their complete staff.  It is my opinion that unless these schools comply with the original Memorandum of Understanding, Markell is going to take all six schools as soon as possible after December 31st.

If I were a teacher at any single one of these priority schools, especially in Red Clay, I would be very worried.  I have to believe Red Clay Educators Association President Mike Matthews would absolutely refuse to sign onto anything that would involve teachers losing their jobs or even reapplying for their jobs.  But are Markell’s demands, based on Federal ESEA regulations, a union-busting move?  Markell, despite what I think of him, is a very shrewd and calculating man.  I doubt he would go into this without thinking he has all his bases covered.  Adding to that notion is something else Albright wrote based on Broomall’s words:

Broomall said the district needs to iron out an agreement with the union that would determine what happens if a teacher wants to stay at one of the Priority Schools but the school leader or district doesn’t think they would be a good fit.

No matter what Red Clay decides, it sounds like authority would be given primarily to the school leader.  Depending on who this leader is, if they are like most of the DOE “leaders”, it will be someone from the charter school industry or the fast-track teacher companies the DOE is obsessed with these days.  If Red Clay’s agreement agrees to cede all the power to this school leader, it will be very harmful to the existing teachers.

We will find out in the next month what the fates of these schools might be.  I sincerely hope something happens in the meantime that prevents any action Markell may take.  Mike Matthews did a public FOIA request for any email containing the names of the priority schools, turnaround school, parternership zone school, and more a couple weeks ago at the DOE State Board of Education meeting.  He received a response from the DOE indicating an overwhelming amount of money to comply, with a $300 start-up fee.  Matthews is looking at another source to help cover funding for this.

Should the DOE, Markell, and Murphy take all six priority schools AND Gateway Lab School, expect a public outcry like this administration has never seen.  Other school districts in the state will be even more untrusting of this cabal of terror.  Parents will know without any doubt no school is safe, and it is all a power grab.

Which States In The USA Will Get Waivers Up Until 2018-2019?

Arne Duncan

Waiver.  Anyone who is against the corporate education reform hates this word.  I loathe it.  For all the good it could have done, it has instead been a symbol of the worst from the No Child Left Behind Act.  Certain states have received a lot of money and rewards for succumbing to the Arne Duncan machine.  The latest set of waivers, set to expire in the 2018-2019 academic year, are strongly tied to teacher evaluations.

Most states will be able to apply by late March, but seven states will be able to apply now because they have done such an awesome job screwing teachers over with the federally “suggested” evaluation program.  The states also have to show how they are doing in identifying “low performing” schools and how they are closing the achievement gaps for minorities, low-income, and students with disabilities.  Because making one size fit all when you are putting a circle in a square always works!  And we all know states would never identify these schools to fit their own purposes.

What People Said On Facebook & Twitter About The Rodel, Markell & Herdman Articles



As anyone knows, Kilroy is the king of the Delaware education blogs, therefore he gets many comments. Exceptional Delaware does not get anywhere close the amount on Kilroy’s Delaware, and I’m okay with that.  I recently overheard someone say “No one reads this blog.  Nobody really comments on it.”   I do post links to my articles on many Facebook groups and Twitter, some of which are closed to the public. These links provide many comments, and are circulated all over the place.  I would like to show some of those comments on some of my recent articles, with names redacted for these comments.

The Rodel/Markell/Hedge Fund Article: https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2014/11/19/delaware-race-to-the-top-hedge-funds-millions-wasted-the-story-of-rodel-markell-charters-the-vision-network-kilroysdelaware-ed_in_de-dwablog-apl_jax-nannyfat-ecpaige-delawarebat/

Oh. My. Gosh. The most important article on education in Delaware you will read is right here. It will take you a long time to read this. Read it now. Bookmark it. Read it again tomorrow. Rodel has single-handedly redrawn the education landscape in Delaware. What you are about to read will make your head spin, but it requires your attention. This is our Governor’s education agenda.

An Interview With The Magnificent Melissa Katz! “The Start Of An Educational Revolution”

Melissa Katz

Every once in a while, someone pops up on the blogosphere and makes a deep impression with people.  For the New Jersey blogs, that person is Melissa Katz.  I wrote about Melissa last month when I saw one of her articles re-tweeted all over the place.  I read it and I was amazed!  For someone so young to have so much insight into the reality of education today is something special.  I had the opportunity to interview Melissa recently, and I welcome you to get to know an amazing young woman who has impressed not only many of her fellow citizens in New Jersey, but also America.  Melissa is the voice of the future, in my opinion, for what education should be.  In between her studies, activism and friends, Melissa also writes a blog called The Educational Activist: From Student To Teacher.

Exceptional Delaware: What made you decide to become a teacher?

Melissa: I always loved school. But more than that, I always loved learning, which in many cases is lost in school due to the current test-and-punish tactics. I would spend my free time playing teacher and

The Thanksgiving Top Ten Lists for Exceptional Delaware!

Top Ten Lists

Happy Thanksgiving to all my awesome readers.  I wanted to thank you for making this blog happen!  I appreciate all the comments, whether on here or through Facebook, Twitter, and email.  It has been my pleasure to inform citizens of Delaware and help out where I am able to.  I’ve learned a lot these past 5 1/2 months, more than I ever bargained for.

I wrote an article a few days ago on Arne Duncan’s new regulations regarding special education.  This has become my most-read article to date.  I never thought anything would topple my son’s common core homework back in September, but when you tick off special needs parents, expect a backlash Mr. Arne Duncan!

Top Ten Most Viewed Articles:
1) US DOE & Arne Duncan Drop The Mother Of All Bombs On States Special Education Rights
2) My Special Needs Son’s First Day Of Common Core Division & This Is His Homework
3) Delaware Race To The Top, Hedge Funds, & Millions Wasted: The Story of Rodel, Markell, Charters & The Vision Network
4) DOE & Arne Duncan Accused Of Breaking The Law With IDEA & Special Education by GOP Senate
5) DOOM Comes To Schools In Delaware! Parents, Go To School Board Meetings & Do This…
6) Now Providence Creek (Charter School) Is In Hot Water With Parents! No Love From The DE Charter School Network For Kent County Charters?
7) Special Education In America: Where Is It Going? Spread This Link All Over! Reblog!
8) Rodel’s CEO Dr. Herdman Sent An Email Re: Rodel Article, My Response & Challenge
9) Providence Creek Academy’s Hot Mess! This Is Why Transparency Is Needed From DE Charters!
10) “Our Children Are More Than Test Scores”, My Letter To The Editor In Delaware State News Today

Top Ten Countries Reading:
1) USA
2) Canada
3) United Kingdom
4) Australia
5) Germany
6) Netherlands
7) Norway
8) Ireland
9) France
10) South Africa

Top Ten Referrers to Exceptional Delaware:
1) Facebook
2) Google
3) Kilroy’s Delaware
4) Twitter
5) Children & Educators First
6) Kavips
7) WordPress Reader
8) Delaware Way
9) Parents Of Christina
10) Teachezwell

Top Ten Individuals Who Wish I Never Started This Blog
1) Dr. Paul Herdman
2) Governor Markell
3) DE Secretary Of Education Mark Murphy
4) US Secretary Of Education Arne Duncan
5) Chuck Taylor
6) Mary Ann Mieczkowski
7) Alison May
8) Brian Touchette
9) Penny Schwinn
10) Kendall Massett

Top Ten Concerns Going Into 2015
1) Special Education in Delaware
2) Smarter Balanced Assessment & Parent Opt Out
3) Priority Schools
4) Gateway Lab School
5) Relay Graduate School Invasion
6) Teacher’s Compensation
7) Disability Bullying
8) DOE Manipulation of Data
9) Rodel’s Influence on DOE
10) Common Core Standards

Delaware State Board of Education Is Having A Pizza Party For All The District & Charter Bigwigs! Open To The Public!

Delaware DOE

If you live in Dover, I would highly recommend not going to Grotto’s Pizza between 5 to 8:30pm on Monday.  A lot of important education people will be convening on the establishment for a meeting about the Next Generation Science Standards.  With that many powerful people going there after a school day when kids had been off for Thanksgiving break, expect a lot of food and spirits being ordered!

I’m curious who the “stakeholders” are.  Cause I’m pretty sure parents are the most important stakeholders and I don’t recall seeing a public invite to their pizza party!  Didn’t the DOE have all those town hall meetings in November to increase parent participation?  But when it comes to determining curriculum for the students of Delaware, the parents are completely shut out of the process.

Updated: Commenter Dee has advised this is indeed open to the public and anyone is welcome to attend.  Does this mean free pizza for Delaware? Not sure on that one.  The flyer does say light refreshments.  So that depends on your perspective.  For myself, pizza is a light refreshment! I have updated the title as well.  Thanks Dee!

Delaware Department of Education is trying to intimidate parents who support opting-out state testing

Parental Opt-Out of Standardized Testing

I don’t care what they say. Unless they say legally “Your son must take the Smarter Balanced Assessment”, then he will never take it. All parents in Delaware should do the same. If you live in Capital School District, their board already voted on not penalizing students for opting out of the test. The DE DOE and Mark Murphy are hardly folks parents should trust in telling you what’s right and wrong for your child.

Breaking News: City Of Wilmington Suing Delaware DOE Over Moyer Closure

Delaware Education Lawsuit

According to an article released within the past 15 minutes by Delaware News Journal, the City of Wilmington is suing the Delaware DOE over the closure of Moyer Charter School.


The announcement to close Moyer came at a special Delaware State Board of Education meeting on October 9th, when Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy told the board he recommended closing the school.  At the end of this school year, Moyer will be no more.

Matthew Albright, the News Journal reporter, wrote “Department of Education officials would not comment because they had not been served the lawsuit Tuesday afternoon, spokeswoman Alison May said.”

This recommendation came over a month after the Priority Schools initiative was announced.  Where is the City of Wilmington with that?  They will sue to keep a charter school open that had over 60 incorrect Individualized Education Plans for students with disabilities and that had been out of compliance on several issues for many years, but they won’t sue the DOE over the priority schools and Gateway?  Be consistent City Of Wilmington!

Other highlights from the article:

“Moyer had been out of compliance with its charter for more than a year before the state’s decision. Before that, a previous incarnation of the school was closed in 2010 for poor performance, but state and Wilmington officials backed the opening of a new school on the same site with a similar name.”

Gateway Lab School Recommended To Close But DE Academy Public Safety & Security Gets A Pass, Something Is Very Wrong Here

Gateway Lab School

In reviewing the decisions made by the Charter School Accountability Committee for Delaware, there is an obvious bias against Gateway Lab School.  Delaware Academy of Public Safety & Security (DAPPS), with their special education population of 12.6%, had their charter renewed.

DAPPS was rated Does Not Meet for the past three years under academic proficiency.  Their financial accountability was fail in 2011-2012, does not meet in 201-2013 and fail again in 2013-2014.  Their organizational rating was does not meet for 2011-2012 and 2012-2013, but managed to meet for 2013-2014.  For Gateway, they were rated meets in both financial and organizational this year.

Below are the final reports from the Charter School Accountability Committee:

There a few things that stuck out to me.  One is the membership of Charles (Chuck) Taylor on this committee.  They have him as a community member and Former Charter School Leader.  While these are both true, Chuck Taylor is also the President of the Delaware Charter Schools Network Governing Board.  Why would they not list him as such as he holds such a lofty position?  In the DAPSS final report, David Blowman, the Deputy Secretary of the Delaware DOE, is talked about.  “He noted that the Financial Framework section does not meet standard, but stated that is not a concern.”  Yet the school is only at 76% capacity with 363 students out of a maximum enrollment of 420.   For charter schools, if they are not financially viable, then they cannot operate.  But this isn’t a concern, based on a promise they will get their enrollment up for the next school year when several other charter schools will be opening?

For DAPSS, in 2013-2014, their Math proficiency score percentage for students with disabilities was 31.3% and for ELA it was 30.1%.  For Gateway, their Math was 28.3% and ELA was 30.3%.  While DAPSS did only slightly better in Math for students with disabilities, Gateway did slightly better in ELA.  If you are going to judge a whole school for proficiency scores for these types of students, then you need to be consistent across the board, regardless of the population.

For Gateway, they are compared to their home district, which is Red Clay Consolidated School District.  These would be listed as similar schools.  But they are not similar schools with Gateway having such a high population of special education students.  But Positive Outcomes, in Kent County, has their proficiency ratings compared to forty different schools in the area that specialize in learning disabilities and high populations of special education students.  This seems like a very glaring bias against Gateway.  How can they be judged as failing when the very metric they are being measured for is extremely flawed?  I have nothing but the utmost respect for Positive Outcomes, but Gateway should be judged academically the same way Positive Outcomes is.  Would they still be rated as failing if they were held against that correct standard?

To view these two very different pieces of data, go to the following:



There is something fundamentally and morally wrong when a state wants to recommend the closure of a school for special needs children using flawed comparison data.  So then I must ask, what is the true purpose of this decision?  I can guess and theorize as to what that might be, but at the end of the day, none of that guessing will help the students and parents of these children being forced to make hard decisions.  If I were these parents, I would be filing an Office of Civil Rights violation against the Delaware Department of Education immediately.

Charter schools in Delaware discriminate all the time with enrollment preferences and denial of special education services.  But when a charter school gets it right, they are given a knife in the back.  There is no justice.

US DOE & Arne Duncan Drop The Mother Of All Bombs On States Special Education Rights


In a stunning announcement that came out today, the United States Department of Education has decided to take away state rights in regards to curriculum and state assessments for special needs students.  Without any legislative approval, Arne Duncan has taken it upon himself to invalidate years of IDEA law and special education regulations.  This news broke today from this blog:


And here is the new ruling:


Here’s what you need to do: email AND call your state senator and state representative in the US Congress.

For Delaware citizens, here are our representatives in Congress and how to contact them:




I would also email John Kline, the head of the Education and Workforce Committee in Washington D.C.  at this address and let him know Congress needs to stop this NOW!!!!  The ruling states this is to go in effect January 1st, 2015.


This is tantamount to war on special education in America.  I called this months ago, and now it is out there.  This is the same man who thrust Common Core on all schools and dangles carrots with the ESEA waivers constantly.  The man who believes every student, even those with a disability, should have a baccalaureate education and rigor should be used daily.

For residents of Delaware, your Governor Markell helped with this.  With his powerful backing from Dr. Paul Herdman and Rodel, our children’s special education rights are GONE if this goes through.  We all need to take a stand, every single one of us.  If you sit back and do nothing, your child WILL suffer.

I just found an excellent letter to send.  Thanks to Stacey Kahn from the Facebook group NYS Special Needs Parents Against Common Core for allowing me to repost it here!

Parents and teachers the time has come. As we all knew, the United States Department of Education, as directed by Arne Duncan, has decided to attempt to override special education and the laws that protect our most vulnerable students. The rights and rules both we and our own parents fought so hard for are being dismantled by the US Department of Education to pave the way for the inappropriate rigor of common core. If we do not speak out against this newest injustice, special education as we know it will dissolve.

Please take a few moments to contact your legislators through pen, phone, or email. Let them know they must get involved. The USDOE has gone too far. The same people who seem to put profits before people have again trampled the rights of students who struggle enough. Common core is enough of an injustice. To remove state authority to assist our special needs students is the final straw.

Attached is a letter template for your use. Feel free to add your own thoughts, the more personal the better. Let these legislators know your special needs children are worthy of a fair and appropriate education that isn’t driven by corporate gain and workforce readiness. All students are unique. The one size fits all mentality of common core has come to the head we knew it would. Please let your representatives know this is the time they must get involved, these children don’t get a second chance to be treated with respect, equity, and compassion.

For your immediate attention  (insert title and last name here):

We as parents, educators and citizens of the United States, are contacting you because it has come to our attention that there is a real and imminent threat to the states’ sovereignty with regards to education, and more importantly, to its most vulnerable citizens.

Arne Duncan, the Secretary of Education has submitted a proposal to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.
Directly from the proposal is the following:
“The Secretary will amend the regulations governing title I, part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended (ESEA), to phase out the authority of States to define modified academic achievement standards and develop alternate assessments based on those modified academic achievement standards in order to satisfy ESEA accountability requirements. These amendments will permit, as a transitional measure, States that meet certain criteria to continue to administer alternate assessments based on modified academic achievement standards and include the results in accountability determinations, subject to limitations on the number of proficient scores that may be counted, for a limited period of time.”

If this amendment is passed, it will signal the end of special education as we know it in this country’s public education system. Secretary Duncan has already stated that he feels that students with disabilities can and should be held to the same “rigorous” Common Core State Standards, as their fellow neuro-typical classmates. To give him the power to supersede the states regulations regarding allowable modifications and/or alternate assessments for these students sets a dangerous precedent.

Secretary Duncan has already weakened the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA).If allowed to proceed with this amendment, the Americans with Disabilities Act is in jeopardy as well. None of these changes were ever voted on by any legislative body.

Our states are losing their sovereignty in education on an almost daily basis. How much more are we as states and as citizens willing to hand over to the Federal Government?

We need our legislators to stand up and say enough is enough. We are a bipartisan group of citizens. Please put political parties aside and do what is best for our children and our country. We are counting on you!

Who Is The “Delaware Dean” & Why This Is Trouble

Delaware DOE

Last week, in my Rodel/Markell story, I referenced a contract Relay Graduate School has with the Delaware Department of Education.  In the actual contract bid document, it references a “Delaware Dean”.  Who is this individual?  Thanks to Mr. Mike Matthews for finding out the answer from the DOE.  The Delaware Dean is Christine Rowland.  She is in charge of the whole project.  I wonder how much she will learn about Delaware before she says something in public as brilliant as the DOE’s Accountability guru did at their September board meeting.

From Ms. Rowland’s LinkedIn profile:

Christine Rowland

Dean Fellow at Relay Graduate School of Education

Newark, New Jersey
Edit experience Previous
  1. KIPP Philadelphia Schools,
  2. Teach For America,
  3. Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools


Dean Fellow

Relay Graduate School of Education

July 2014 – Present (5 months)Newark, NJ

Managing Director of Academics

KIPP Philadelphia Schools

July 2011 – June 2014 (3 years)Greater Philadelphia Area

Program Director

Teach For America

June 2007 – June 2008 (1 year 1 month)

Math and Science Teacher

As per the contract, Relay Graduate School is getting $505,000 over three years to have their teachers invade our schools.  Ms. Rowland sounds like she has been working for all the right companies…if you are a big fan of the education reform movement.  When I see Kipp, I see the death of public schools in Philadelphia.  When I see Teach For America, I see lots of Race To The Top money going to the Rodel seeded organization that puts sub par teachers in our schools.  When I see Relay Graduate School, I see the Delaware DOE scraping the bottom of education to further their agenda.  If my kid got a Relay teacher, I would demand a change.  Beware parents, beware!

Delaware Special Needs Parents Need To Unite Statewide Now! We can’t let the Rodels, Markells & DOE Screw Us Over

Special Needs Parents

Gateway.  Priority Schools.  Smarter Balanced.  Standards Based IEPs.  Common Core.  Personalized Learning.  Rodel.  Vision.  Relay Graduate School.  Teach For America.  Governor Markell.

These are the ways Governor Markell, under the long-term strategic plans of Rodel, using the DOE as his shadow puppets, has systematically and methodically destroyed education as we know it in our state.  Some of us know this, and others are still living in the haze.

Sometimes, to move forward, you have to look back.  Last night, I journeyed back to last April.  My family’s situation with my son’s former charter school was starting to end and we were laboriously working on an IEP for my son at his new public elementary school.  But it felt like it wasn’t enough.  I started to research what led to all this.  I contacted a blogger named Kilroy, and we had many sidebar chats.  One day, I emailed him and advised him I figured it all out: Rodel ran education in this state.  They didn’t care what you or I thought, they had their vision, and to hell with anyone that got in their way.

We have allowed this to happen.  Because we haven’t spoken as one voice.  It’s hard being a special needs parent.  We all know this.  If it isn’t impacting my child, then we just don’t make the time to help.  Well guess what, everything is impacting your child now.  I’m sure a few weeks ago all the parents at Gateway thought they were secure.  I’m sure last summer some of the parents at the Priority schools thought their children were in good hands.  We have a standardized test coming up next Spring that a lot of our kids are rigorously  prepped for every day.  This test is so bad the company that made it doesn’t even know how to set proficiency levels.  Our teachers are being held at bay, getting screwed over left and right, held with a gun to their head every day with the threat of lower pay and the future of their already low-paying job on the line.   None of our schools are safe anymore.  Our educators aren’t safe.  And our children aren’t safe.

When I was chatting with Kilroy, he told me this state needs a unified special needs parent group.  Like a PTA for special needs parents.  As pieces, we can make some noise, ruffle some feathers, but at the end of the day nothing changes.  As a whole, a large unified group, representing 13.5% of children in this state, we can make a difference.  When one of our schools is threatened, we stand up.  When one of our kids is being mistreated, we stand up.  When legislation is introduced that can impact our kids, we stand up.  This is the only way we can make true and lasting change in Delaware.

We can NOT be a part of a government group.  Not PIC.  Not GACEC.  Not the DOE.  Not the Delaware PTA.  Or a PTO.  Once you are in the matrix, you don’t leave.  Don’t get me wrong, some individuals have made great changes to the system by being in these groups.  Some have gone on to become legislators.  That’s a good thing.  However, for the services and supports we need now, we need each other.  We can no longer rely on a Governor who really doesn’t care about what our kids need.  Gateway has proven that numbers on a piece of paper are more important than our children’s needs.

I would like to see this group start in January 2015.  Or sooner.  We can all go to the public comment meeting for Gateway on December 10th at the Delaware DOE.  They need our support.  We can protest the priority schools.  Because the state DOE has said nothing about the needs of those special needs children.  It hasn’t even been a part of the conversation.

Please leave comment and let’s start planning together.  This isn’t impossible.  It only takes a few people to unite and start spreading the word.  Reading this and agreeing is not enough.  Many of us have had our differences.  So we talk about them, we hash them out.  Maybe you think your kid is doing fine and everything is alright.  Great, let’s talk and see if that’s really the case.  We cannot live in a bubble anymore.  Because if you think for one minute all of this Common Core and standardized testing is going to lead to a greater future for your child, you are very wrong.

Assessment Office At DE DOE Didn’t Get Charter School SAT Scores From College Board…Oops!

Delaware DOE

In yet another colossal blunder, the Delaware DOE didn’t get the charter school SAT scores from the College Board.  At the State Board of Education meeting last Thursday, Brian Touchette and Rita Fry from the Office Assessment gave a presentation on the SAT scores for all of the high schools in the state.  But he forgot that one crucial part…the charter schools.

According to the office of assessment, SAT scores were slightly down for African-American and slightly up for Hispanics.  Touchette explained he was unable to get the information for low-income students because of glitches in the system due to the new DOE website.  What is it with this DOE and low-income data? http://kilroysdelaware.wordpress.com/2014/10/06/delaware-department-of-education-busted-for-falsifying-low-income-data-washingtonpost-huffingtonpost-edude-netde-neatoday-nsbacomm-natlgovsassoc-usedgov-arneduncan-educationoig-destateboar/

When giving the presentation, it was very visible on the graph that Red Clay was much higher than the other districts.  Touchette explained this was due to the fact charter schools are part of Red Clay Consolidated School District.  Board President Dr. Gray asked Touchette why the other charter schools weren’t included.  Fry advised her “It was not part of the table received from The College Board.”  Gray seemed perturbed by this, and Touchette said he would go back and ask for that data.

My question would be if they didn’t give them to you, and you knew you were giving a report to the State Board of Education, why wouldn’t you ASK for them?  This isn’t rocket science.  I’ll bet if it was a standardized test the DOE can make money from, they would have been the first ones at the door the day the scores were announced.  But no, that must not have been important, those scores.  Not to an ASSESSMENT office!  This DOE is proving to be more ineffective by the day.  Hopefully, they will come in one day and forget all about Common Core, Smarter Balanced, Priority Schools, Gateway, their side deals up in Wilmington, and their love affair with all things charter.  Yeah, and maybe I’ll get a singing donkey for Christmas!

Back to the SAT conversation.  In 2012, the Delaware DOE, in their infinite wisdom, became the first (and only) state to require all students to take the SAT.  As a result, their data is inconsistent with the rest of the USA.  The national average above that magic score of 1550 was 43% and for Delaware it was 21%.

The board tried to figure out why Delaware was so low.  Touchette explained the national average of 43% was roughly twice the amount of Delaware’s percentage, so they are on track if only 50% of students in the USA take the SAT.  Mark Murphy said “We’ve spent hours discussing this.  We’ve been unable to make comparisons to the different groups.”  Now I’m not as much of a data freak as the DOE is, but I’m smart enough to let them know they didn’t need to spend hours discussing this, because IT’S DIFFERENT DATA!  You can’t put a round peg in a square hole.  Yes folks, this is who leads education in this state!  But that wasn’t even the best quote of the day…

What the DOE was very concerned about was how many students took the test during SAT day.  Only 90% took the SAT during that day.  This was very crucial for them to include this.  Not sure why, but in a moment of absolute confusion, Brian Touchette actually said “These numbers don’t match and that’s intentional.”  And that pretty much sums up the current mindset of the Delaware DOE…

Rodel’s CEO Dr. Herdman Sent An Email Re: Rodel Article, My Response & Challenge


To understand the context of this article, you need to read this one first.  It will take a while, but it’s worth it!  https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2014/11/19/delaware-race-to-the-top-hedge-funds-millions-wasted-the-story-of-rodel-markell-charters-the-vision-network-kilroysdelaware-ed_in_de-dwablog-apl_jax-nannyfat-ecpaige-delawarebat/

From: Paul Herdman <pherdman@comcast.net>
To: “kevino3670@yahoo.com” <kevino3670@yahoo.com>
Sent: Thursday, November 20, 2014 9:12 PM
Subject: Connecting

Someone forwarded me your blog post on me. Did you ever think to call me to verify any of your information? At base, your basic accusation that Rodel is making money off the system is absolutely false. I suppose you can write what you want but if you actually have an interest in telling/learning the truth, eg my first teaching job was as a special needs teacher, then I’d be happy to actually have a conversation. But I don’t think it’s fair to make false claims about a person’s character or intent and then post it without actually verifying what you wrote.

Again, happy to engage face to face rather than through the blogosphere .

Paul Herdman

Sent from my iPhone

And my response to Dr. Paul Herdman:


Thank you for reaching out to me. You asked if I ever thought to call you to verify any of my information. I did research based on public information available on the internet or information that has been written by other organizations or individuals. I formed a theory based on this data, and formed an opinion based on it. But for the most part, I was just presenting information that is widely available for anyone to see. I very much have an interest in telling and learning the truth. I write articles based on information I find or information that is given to me by multiple sources.

I was not aware your first job was as a special needs teacher, as that information was not on your public LinkedIn profile or any other material I looked at. I know Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy was a special education teacher in one of his first jobs as well. I do not have a high opinion of him, as I’m sure you well know if you bothered to read my over 400 articles on my blog. You have been mentioned before on my blog as well, so I would encourage you to find out my positions on matters before I am judged for not telling the truth.

I don’t think it is any type of secret that Rodel has been a very active participant in the charter school movement in Delaware. To those who read information on the education reform movement, it is painfully obvious what the true agendas are here. And that is the complete and utter destruction of the public school system as it was set up prior to charter schools. You all but said so in your TEDxDelaware speech last month. We may agree that there is room for improvement. However, Rodel and yourself (as a representative of numerous other organizations and their committees, boards and task forces over the past 10 years) have been instrumental in being a “catalyst” for certain education reforms. These “catalyzing moments” set up the production of data that the Delaware Department of Education and Governor Markell have used to hurt schools, educators, and students.

As well, my number one concern and priority with Rodel and yourself, as I have read much of your commentary on the subject, is the charter school movement in Delaware. If you did any research on me, you would know full well how I have come to this point. I have a special needs son who, in my opinion, was psychologically abused at a Delaware charter school. I am not sure why they denied him an IEP when he CLEARLY qualified for one, but this happens in many charter schools in Delaware. As well, the enrollment preferences for a system based on “parental choice” is an oxymoron, in my opinion. How can any school have any type of preference, unless it is clearly indicated (such as Gateway, Positive Outcomes, or Charter School of Wilmington), and ask discriminating questions on their application? The charter school lotteries are not public events, so nobody can ascertain how they pick applicants. Statistics show exactly how many special needs children are served (or under served) at all the charter schools in the state, and Rodel supports and helps to build the charter schools, therefore I am against Rodel vehemently. To be in the position you are in, as well as the Delaware DOE, you would have to be blind not to see the reality. And yet, you, Rodel, Governor Markell and the Delaware DOE turn a blind eye to this reality.

I’m glad you told me you were a special education teacher. This makes what you and Rodel have done even more perplexing. These situations have caused pain and suffering that no family should have to go through. I would love to talk to you about all this. And I think we should do it in a location where you can see the fruits of your labor. Somewhere the impact of Rodel is being felt every single day. I think we should meet seven times, in seven different locations. I will meet you face to face at the following locations, for 6-7 hours each day, preferably between the hours of 8am to 2pm, on any Monday to Friday, but not on a holiday, weekend or when kids might be off: Bancroft Elementary School, Bayard Middle School, Stubbs Elementary School, Warner Elementary School, Shortlidge Academy, Highlands Elementary School, and Gateway Lab School.

I know we would have a lot to talk about, but we wouldn’t want to inconvenience any of the students or educators in these excellent education centers, so we can talk and help out. We can get to know these students and their educators. I firmly believe standardized test scores do not give anyone a clear snapshot of students in the classroom, so this is our chance to see exactly what is going on in these priority schools and the charter school in Newcastle County with over 1/2 of it’s student population as special education. You don’t even have to come alone, you can even bring Kendall Massett, Governor Markell, and Secretary of Education Mark Murphy with you. I’m sure the folks at these schools would love to talk with you as well.

Since we would have so much time to spend together, feel free to bring all financial information for any non-profit company you have been involved in or are currently a part of. If you sit on their board, please include their financial information as well. Since non-profits state they will give financial information to the public if they ask, I would also like to see all information on the hedge funds Rodel invests in. I would like clear documentation on how much Rodel has invested in these hedge funds going back to their start and their returns, and since the Rodel Pebbles AA Multi-Strategy Hedge Fund is obviously a hedge fund created by Rodel, I would like a list of all investors involved in that hedge fund as well as the returns Rodel has received from it. Now I know these are off-shore accounts, but you did ask if I had an interest in learning the truth. Oh, and I also need to know the reason Rodel gave the DE State Board of Education $10,000.00 in fiscal year 2013. I’m sure I’ll have lots of other financial questions.

One thing I did want to clear up was an item on your résumé I was very confused about. On LinkedIn, you wrote that you were a “Senior Policy Analyst/Undersecretary for Massachusetts Governor Weld”. But on the paper you co-wrote in 2000, entitled “Are Charter Schools Getting More Money Into The Classroom: A Micro-Financial Analysis of First Year Charter Schools in Massachusetts”, you had in the biography that you “worked in the Charter School Office in Massachusetts”. I was a bit confused on the two contradictions. So if you could set the record straight, that would be super.

If you’ve read other articles on my blog, you would know I’m also a big fan of transparency. So since this is a state-wide public matter and you are a very public figure, I will be putting your email and my response in an article. As you write many blog articles for Rodel, and thousands of citizens of Delaware have read the article, you must understand that we owe our readers the truth, not follow-up, closed meetings with no visible transparency.

I’m looking forward to meeting with you at the priority schools and Gateway Lab School. Thanks a bunch, and I await your response!

Kevin Ohlandt

Smarter Balanced: Lacking Smarts; Precariously Balanced

Smarter Balanced Assessment

Mercedes Schneider dissected the Smarter Balanced cut scores. This “consortium” actually managed to make their scoring system more confusing than the actual test. Which just proves my theory all along: they know the test is crap, but they will push it through anyways so they can use data from it to push their own agenda. Parents: You don’t need the Delaware PTA to advise you what to do. Opt your child out now from this farce of an educational assessment. If our children have suffered from Common Core for this, than we all need to get together in every state and demand our politicians and state DOEs abolish this ridiculous idea.

deutsch29: Mercedes Schneider's Blog

In this time of  “public-education-targeted boldness,” the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) has made the American public one whopper of a “bold” promise:

The standards were created to ensure that all students graduate from high school with the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in college, career, and life, regardless of where they live. [Emphasis added.]

There is neither now nor never has been any empirical investigation to substantiate this “bold” claim.

Indeed, CCSS has not been around long enough to have been thoroughly tested. Instead, the above statement–which amounts to little more than oft-repeated advertising– serves as its own evidence.

However, if it’s on the *official* CCSS website, and if CCSS proponents repeat it constantly, that must make it true… right?

Keep clicking your heels, Dorothy.

Now, it is one issue to declare that CCSS works. It is quite another to attempt to anchor CCSS assessments to the above cotton…

View original post 1,316 more words

The DE State Board of Ed’s Reaction to my Speech yesterday!



My Public Comment at DE State Board of Education Yesterday & Mike Matthews Request @KilroysDelaware @ed_in_de @RCEAPrez @Apl_Jax @nannyfat @Roof_O @ecpaige #netde #eduDE #netde #Delaware #FF


One of my favorite lines in Hamlet is “There’s something rotten in the state of Denmark.”  Replace Denmark with Delaware, and you will understand why Race To The Top had clear winners and losers.

The Winners: Governor Markell, Secretary of Education Mark Murphy, this Board of Education, The Delaware Department of Education, Dr. Paul Herdman, Rodel, The Delaware Charter School Network, Delaware Community Foundation, Amplify, Innovative Schools, Teach For America, Relay Graduate School, Delaware Charter Schools, Hedge Fund Investors And Managers, and many more.

The Losers: Public school districts, educators within those districts with the exception of the anointed one picked by Rodel, school boards in public school districts, special needs students, priority schools, Gateway Lab School, minorities shuffled around Wilmington, taxpayers, parents, and every single student in Delaware forced to drink the Common Core Kool-Aid.

There will be an accounting for all the manipulation and fraud in this state for every single piece of education reform and discrimination resulting in triple segregation for some students.  This will not go away.  Many will make sure of it.  You have a chance to stop all of this now.  Accountability starts now, with this Department of Education.

John Young said it best at the Christina School Board meeting in September: “You want to know who needs great leaders?  The Delaware DOE needs great leaders.”  Thank you.

This was followed by Mike Matthews public comment where he thanked the board for letting him speak.  He advised the board he was at the Red Clay board meeting the night before where all members of the board were present, and not like the four state board members that showed up for their meeting.  He also advised publicly that he was submitting a Freedom Of Information Request for any email going out of the DOE for the past 18 months in regards to the priority schools or any mention of the six schools in emails along with the words priority school or turnaround school.  I advised him later to add the word partnership zone as well.  Mike Matthews concluded by stating what the DOE is doing is essentially declaring war on public schools.

IEP Task Force Meeting #6, Live From Dover, DE **UPDATED**

IEP Task Force

A week and a day after the last meeting, here we are again.  Back in the conference room we should have been in last week when the DOE hijacked the room from the task force for their town hall meeting.

Matt Denn asked for approval of minutes rom last meeting.  Everyone agreed. He said there are two meetings left before the report is due to Governor Markell on January 1st, 2015.  Denn will recommend to the legislature to continue the task force after that date to go over further issues that have come up.

Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) representative speaking about significant changes coming to transition through legislation. They serve many adults as well as students. No new funding with these new measures. Every high school in DE has a VR rep in high schools to deal with students in the year prior to their exit year. They have MOUs with every high school in the state. They help students get jobs after secondary schooling. Work with hospitals, such as Bayhealth. Also have program called Early Start to Employment. They have received a lot of good data on that program, including a 95% success rate. However, they had 60 students choose not to participate in the program so they want to get the word out since it is so successful. They are working with DOE on program for students w/learning disabilities and behavioral problems. These are students with a high risk of dropping out and not going to college. They need to get the buy-in from the education system to start this process early.  PETS services helps transition students who may not be a transition youth (need to do some research on this).  Many states don’t have partnerships with their state DOEs so Delaware is ahead of the game with this.  They think with upcoming IDEA reauthorization it will provide more useful language in the law for these kinds of transition matters.  Information on upcoming law will come out in January 2015.  The law is requiring them to be the gatekeepers for sheltered workshops.  They don’t normally do this anyways, but if the IEP states a student wants to attend this kind of program.  Student will need a statement stating they are so disabled they can only work in this type of environment, otherwise they can’t participate.

Matt Denn asked VR rep if transition can be included in IEPs earlier than junior or senior year?  She responded that due to capacity (and funding I’m sure) they don’t have the staff to do that.  They may able to do some consultative work but they can’t attend every IEP meeting.  She agrees transition planning should start at an earlier age.  Through working w/Dale Mitusevich at Delaware DOE, they have been able to work more with juniors in high school than seniors.

A representative named Andrea from In The Works, works w/many agencies including state Medicaid agency on a program called Pathways To Employment for students 14-25 years old.  God bless her, she’s talking very fast and dropping many abbreviations for state agencies.  I may have to go to the audio recording on this part.  Sorry folks.  They want to provide services that are “less like crisis management and more like support management.”

A rep from Division for Visually Impaired spoke about how resources are shifting to an older population in the state.  They provide braille instruction, consultative services, technology, employ child youth counselors, orientation services, assistive technology and an array of service providers.  They are currently serving 250 students across the state.  They are part of the PATHWAYS program.

Bill Doolittle asked how much grant amount might be, VR rep said $1,000,000.00.  Andrea said Pathways to Employment would be eligible for service if they receive Medicaid and meet other criteria.  DVI rep said they get $100-120,000 from DE DOE and $125,000 from other state agencies.

Marissa Band asked if they would work with the DEDisabilityHub website.  VR rep said absolutely, and has worked with Wendy Strauss on matters already.  Liz Toney asked how many teachers they Div. of Visual Impairment employs, rep said 8 out of the 9 employed in the state.  She asked rep if task force is able to acquire additional funding and get more teachers if that would help.  He said they would have to examine other factors since they are not an education agency.

No more questions.

Matt Denn opened the floor to suggestions for issues of transition planning.  Nobody is talking.  Denn looks flustered.  Ruth Lavelle spoke up and wants services to come in at age 14.  She would also like to say large group resources to help get the word out better.  She stated it is a very confusing subject when first introduced.  She said there needs to be a better game plan in the earlier years.  Marissa Band said the transition task force recommended there be transition coordinators in every high school.  Matt Denn asked who those people would be, Band said it would be school district staff.  Said could spread out amongst middle and high schools.  VR rep agreed and said this was an important recommendation coming from that task force.  Dale Mitusevich (sitting in for Mary Ann Mieczkowski from the DOE) said every school district has one transition person assigned to their job duties.  He said DOE has a transition matrix, said it could be a teacher or an educational diagnostician.  He said this is a burden on these individuals.  Pam Atchison said Charleton School hired a transition coordinator, but later added that due to funding she had to pull a teacher from the classroom.

Dale Mitusevich said there was a meeting at DOE about transition today.  He said district reps coming in to transition cadre has to have an administrator on their team.  He said four charters are involed with this.  They have multiple transition training sessions with the charters throughout the year.  Denn said he wants to get a price tag for implementing a resolution to have a coordinator in each high school, independent of other duties.  He said he also wants to enhance abilities of PIC and Community Legal Aid to help parents.

Ruth from VR said career assessments need to be done as early as possible to help in the IEP planning to help people point students in the right direction.  Mitusevich would like to see more reaching out to higher education programs.  He stated transition planning in this group can be confusing due to lack of knowledge.  Ruth from VR said she has worked with the Autism Task Force and DAP has an assessment program that works very well.  Ruth said it doesn’t have to be a certified evaluator to do career assessment, she said it could be a paraprofessional.

Matt Denn thanked the guests, and now he wants to look at the 2nd draft that appears on the IEP Task Force website.  http://ltgov.delaware.gov/taskforces/ieptf/141120/IEPTaskForceReportDraft111714.pdf

Mitusevich said Delaware has a higher standard than many other states.  Marissa Band said she has some issues with language in the draft but she will put in information via email or talk with Kim Siegel.  Matt Denn said there hasn’t been a lot of discussion about what other states are doing in other states with IEPs.  Liz Toney brought up the presentation from the first meeting.  She brought up Wrightslaw as a good resource.

A parent gave public comment thanking the task force for their recommendations for visually impaired students.

I gave public comment about how special needs students at the priority schools and Gateway Lab School are victims of special education games in the state.  I referenced my article from last night about Rodel and Markell and how special needs children have suffered immensely in Delaware.  I also recommended the task force adds the subject of IEP denials if they continue past the Governor’s report.

Sarah Celestin from DOE gave public comment about Standards-Based IEPs, student led IEPs, and translating Behavior Intervention Plans into IEPs.  She said there is training and assistance through University of Delaware.  She said they have been working w/districts on standards-based IEPs (Common Core for the IEP in my opinion).  She said through funds from a Federal grant DOE wants all districts and charters in the state to have these IEP strategies in the next two years.  She asked Mitusevich to talk about student led IEPs.  He spoke about the transition conference at Dover Downs a few weeks ago.  He said there was a big group from DC to speak about these, as well as folks from Virginia, Dr. Jim Martin out of University of Oklahoma on student led IEPs and student active participation in IEP meetings.  He said this means a student doesn’t just read a script and actually participates in the IEP meeting.  Celestin said DOE is offering training and coaching.  Denn asked if this is required for districts to implement.  She said standards-based IEPs are not required but it is about standards not standardized.  She said parents and IEP teams have struggles with implementing these kinds of IEPs because they need to help students close achievement gaps.  She said teachers are struggling with this and stressed it is not required.  (as Steve Newton mentioned in an article on these IEPs, the measurement for it is the “fidelity” component of the grant in getting schools trained on it).  She did say through compliance monitoring in the future they will look at things that are part of standards-based IEPs in terms of students needs so they will hold IEPs to a higher standard and best practices.  Matt Denn said this isn’t a subject for the IEP Task Force report, but he is hesitant to make recommendations for  something that isn’t required.

I raised my hand to speak again, and Matt Denn jokingly said something about “or if anyone wants to give second public comment”.  I went up and responded to Sarah’s comment.  I advised I went over to DOE presentation to the GACEC (Gov. Adv. Council For Except. Children), and it absolutely is tying IEPs into standards based on “curriculum” which is code word for those who may not know what Common Core is.  I advised the word “rigor” is used in the document which is used by Common Core proponents all the time.  I said rigor is not a word parents like, especially special needs parents, because the way it is used would indicate students with disabilities need to try harder to get to a regular students level, which completely invalidates the spirit of IDEA.

My commentary on tonight’s meeting: Interesting stuff with these transition services coming in.  All of them said “we need more funding”.  In regards to comments made by DOE employees, I know these folks work very hard at their jobs, and for that, they have my respect.  But if Delaware holds such a higher standard for IEPs, why did you need Federal intervention in Special Education?  Why would you hold a higher standard for something that isn’t even legally required?  Cause you like what you have created?  If they look at best practice, why the hell won’t they look at IEP denials?  Who are they trying to protect? (I already know the answer to that, and they know I know but they don’t care) Sorry Sarah, you can say whatever you want, but any presentation that has the word “rigor” in it, which is one of those words that make opponents of common core flip out, is not going to work for me and many other special needs parents.

To Be Continued December 3rd…


September 30th Unit Count Report from Delaware DOE w/Special Education Units, Charters Still Underserving Students With Disabilities @KilroysDelaware @ed_in_de @RCEAPrez @Apl_Jax @ecpaige @nannyfat @Roof_o #netde #Delaware #edchat #eduDE

Needs Based Funding in Delaware

Special Needs Parents of Delaware: The Delaware DOE has just released their September 30th Annual Enrollment Unit Count for every single public school in Delaware, including charters and vocational schools.  The unit counts are based on the following categories: regular students, basic special education and regular students in K-3, basic special education in 4-12, intensive special education in K-12, and complex special education in K-12.  To qualify as special education in this report, a student with a disability must have an Individualized Education Plan.

If you wanted to see how many special needs students go to the priority schools, this is your chance.  If you wanted to choice your child out to a charter and he/she is a student with disabilities, you might want to take a careful look at which charters really don’t cater to children with special needs.  The report can be read here:

How did the charter schools do with special ed this year?  Did they learn some lessons from last year, or are they still around the same amounts? Or did they decrease?  With a state average around 13.5%, any charter below 10% of their population being special education really needs to stop the enrollment preference!  If any of the schools below score below 7%, I put them in bold for really not doing a good job at acquiring special education students, whether they were up from last years numbers or not.  For the new charters, I’m going to leave them alone this year, but I really hope to see an increase in their statistics next year.

*Academia Antonia Alonso: 2 out of 221, .9% New Charter School

Academy of Dover: 33 out of 290, 11.4%, Last Year 8.4%, up +3

Campus Community: 33 out of 410, 8%, Last Year 9%, down -1

Charter School of Wilm.: 2 out of 972, .2%, Last Year .6%, down -.4

Del. Academy of Public Safety: 59 out of 363, 16.2%, Last Year 13.3%, up +2.9

Delaware College Prep: 3 out of 203, 1.5%, Last Year 4.1%, down -2.6

Delaware Military Academy: 17 out of 569, 3%, Last Year 2.8%, up +.2

*Early College High School at DSU: 3 out of 129, 2.3%, New Charter School

East Side Charter: 62 out of 418, 14.8%, Last Year 15.1%, down -.3

Family Foundation Academy: 43 out of 811, 5.3%, Last Year 5.9%, down -.6

*First State Montessori Academy: 15 out of 280, 5.3%, New Charter School

Gateway Lab School: 127 out of 212, 60%, Last Year 58.7%, up +1.3

Kuumba Academy: 29 out of 464, 6.2%, Last Year 5.7%, up +.5

Las Americas Aspira: 31 out of 541, 5.7%, Last Year 4.6%, up +1.3

Moyer: 61 out of 208, 29.3%, Last Year 31.3%, down -2

MOT Charter: 53 out of 869, 6.1% , Last Year 5.9%, up +.2

Newark Charter: 109 out of 1,948, 5.6%, Last Year 5.7%, down -.1

Odyssey Charter: 40 out of 933, 4.3%, Last Year 4%, up +.3

Positive Outcomes: 83 out of 126, 66%, Last Year 63.3%, up +2.7

Prestige Academy: 54 out of 246, 22%, Last Year 19.5%, up +2.5

Providence Creek: 35 out of 688, 5.1%, Last Year 4.4%, up +.7

Reach Academy for Girls: 24 out of 377, 6.4%, Last Year 5.3%, up +1.1

Sussex Academy: 17 out of 498, 3.4%, Last Year 4.4%, down -1

Thomas Edison Charter: 53 out of 745, 7.1%, Last Year 6.8%, up +.3

Totals For Delaware Charters for 2014-2015:  988 out of 12,521, 7.9%

Even though they were above my “failure” threshold, they weren’t that far above it. The charters in Delaware need to do a much better job at special education. If I took Gateway and Positive Outcomes out of the mix, the average would be 778 out of 12,183, or 6.4%.  And with Gateway’s fate undecided, they may not even be a factor next year.  So overall Delaware charters, YOU FAILED to attract and retain special education students.  And CSW, I didn’t think you could get any worse than last year, but really, 2 out of 972 students?  No comment…

Delaware Race To The Top, Hedge Funds & Millions Wasted: The Story of Rodel, Markell, Charters & The Vision Network

Governor Markell, Rodel

Dr. Paul Herdman  and Governor Markell have a long history in Delaware in the 21st Century.  Their collaborations have resulted in the biggest changes to education the state has seen in decades.  Name any education change since Markell became Governor, and Rodel’s been a part of it.  And they are making a lot of money off these changes!

As part of my blog, I find out information about education in our state, and recently Rodel had their latest Vision conference where they focused on personalized learning, with a whole education reform agenda yet to be revealed to the mass public, sponsored by a company called 2Revolutions.  Rodel has a long history in the world of corporate education reform.  But what if I told you they aren’t doing it for the love of education and students, but pure profit?