Rodel and Paul Herdman’s Vision For The Future



After reviewing my FOIA request to Governor Jack Markell, I started to wonder why I have more questions than answers.  Why was there such a disconnect between the Rodel Foundation of Delaware and the Vision Network in recent years?  It’s obvious Herdman runs the show for Rodel and Vision.  I began to question what the Vision Network has been up to. So I looked at the Vision Network website.  Take a good look at the Vision Leadership and Steering Committees.  Take a good long look at the names on here.

The Vision Coalition Leadership Team include members from a broad range of public, private, and civic groups. The members meet regularly to align efforts, evaluate progress, and sustain momentum. Membership on the Coalition’s Leadership Team has evolved over the past nearly ten years since its establishment, with all major stakeholder Delaware education organizations remaining committed to the plan and Coalition, and have sustained representation on its leadership group.

The Leadership Team is composed of:

  • Ernest Dianastasis, Managing Director, CAI (Computer Aid, Inc.), Chair
  • H. Raye Jones Avery, Executive Director, Christina Cultural Arts Center
  • Susan Bunting, Superintendent, Indian River School District
  • Paul A. Herdman, President and CEO, Rodel Foundation of Delaware
  • Mark Holodick, Superintendent, Brandywine School District
  • Frederika Jenner, President, Delaware State Education Association
  • Kurt Landgraf, former President and CEO, ETS
  • Mark Murphy, Secretary, Delaware Department of Education
  • Daniel Rich, Professor of Public Policy, University of Delaware
  • John H. Taylor, Jr., President and CEO, Delaware Public Policy Institute

With an eye on the future, the Leadership Team of the Vision has established an even broader Steering Committee to assess the current state of public education and identify potential opportunities to build on the state’s successes.

The Steering Committee is composed of:

  • Amber Augustus, teacher, John Bassett Moore Intermediate School, Smyrna School District (2011-12 Delaware Teacher of the Year)
  • Bobbi Barends, Dean of Instruction, Delaware Technical & Community College
  • Lamont Browne, Head of School/Principal, EastSide Charter School
  • William Bush, Vice President, Caesar Rodney School District Board of Education
  • Harriet Dichter, former Executive Director, Delaware Office of Early Learning
  • Kevin Dickerson, Director, Support Services, Sussex Technical School District
  • There du Pont, President, Longwood Foundation
  • Rick Gessner, Vice President, Delaware Market Liason and CRA Business Development Officer, Capital One 360
  • Daryl Graham, Vice President of Philanthropy & Community Engagement, JPMorgan Chase
  • Terri Hodges, President, Delaware Parent Teacher Association
  • Chandlee Kuhn, Chief Judge, Family Court of Delaware
  • Michael Marinelli, President, Delaware Association of Independent Schools; Head, Archmere Academy
  • Maria Matos, President and CEO, Latin American Community Center
  • Jennifer Nauman, Principal, Shields Elementary School, Cape Henlopen School District
  • Lindsay O’Mara, Policy Advisor – Education, Office of the Governor
  • Laurisa Schutt, Executive Director, Teach For America-Delaware
  • Gary Stockbridge, CEO, Delmarva Power
  • Michelle Taylor, President and CEO, United Way of Delaware
  • Jeff Taschner, Executive Director, Delaware State Education Association
  • Rod Ward, CEO, CSC Corporation, Inc.
  • Joanne Weiss, Consultant, Weiss Associates LLC; former Chief of Staff to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and director of the federal Race to the Top program

If you look at their FAQ on their website, it seems like all the right words are in there, but keep in mind what Vision has really been about: the future conversion of public school districts into charter schools…

Vision 2015 FAQ

1. What is Vision 2015? What makes it different?

The Vision 2015 plan is credited as being one of the most comprehensive and coherent education improvement plans in the nation, designed to ensure that every public school student in Delaware has access to an excellent public education. Unlike prior initiatives, Vision 2015 addresses every aspect of the public education system. It builds on the best of what has been done, while recognizing that we haven’t yet done all we can to ensure that every Delaware child is prepared for success in life. The plan was developed by a coalition of public, private and civic leaders through the state, with significant input from parents, educators, and students, as well as research on best practices from around the world. The Vision Coalition and the Vision 2015 plan is committed to implementing well-researched policies and practices and creating the partnerships and public support that will ensure educational excellence in our schools.

2. Who created the Vision 2015 plan?

The plan was created by a 28-member Steering Committee, composed of educators, community leaders, business representatives, and leading public officials. Well over half of the Steering Committee’s members have taught in the classroom. Four Steering Committee members represented several of Delaware’s largest employers, for whom the quality of our future workforce is a great priority. In addition, about 500 teachers, principals, parents and community representatives participated in work groups and focus group meetings throughout Delaware to help the Steering Committee develop the plan. This plan was written by Delawareans, for Delaware.

3. What is the Vision Coalition?

The Vision 2015 plan was established in 2005 by a coalition of education, policymaker, business, community, and foundation stakeholders. It is an informal partnership governed by the Leadership Team and advised by the Steering Committee and Working Groups.

4. Does Vision 2015 only focus its efforts in Delaware?

Yes, the Vision Coalition is composed of Delawareans and the Vision 2015 plan was designed specifically for Delaware public schools. Yet, numerous states across the country have sought guidance from the Vision Coalition on how to implement similar efforts elsewhere. Delaware should be proud of the leadership that it is providing in the national effort to transform its schools to world-class.

5. What is Race to the Top? How does it relate to Vision 2015?

Race to the Top is the federal government’s largest competitive grants program in public education, designed to spur innovative state‐based school reform plans. It is funded with $4.35 billion in federal stimulus dollars under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Of that, $4 billion has been distributed to states for their Race to the Top plans, and $350 million is being used to support new, improved student assessment systems. In March 2010, Delaware was awarded a first-place grant of $119 million to improve education in Delaware public schools.Four of Vision 2015’s priorities align directly with Race to the Top’s goals. Two additional Vision 2015 goals—early childhood education and school funding—are not part of Race to the Top, yet continue to be an important focus for the Vision 2015 Implementation Team.  We are proud of Delaware’s multi‐decade commitment to reform, especially the creation of the Vision 2015 plan, which provided a four‐year “on‐ramp” leading to Delaware’s Race to the Top award.To learn more about Race to the Top, watch this Content Delaware video.

6. Why is Race to the Top funding necessary?

Despite numerous reform efforts over many years—most of which were targeted to isolated programs and supports–just one in three Delaware public school students meets national standards in reading and math. And just one in four Delaware public school students who are behind in math in 3rd grade will catch up by the 10th grade. Isolated interventions haven’t work at the state-wide scale that is required to serve all of our students. Race to the Top funding—tied to comprehensive plans for improvement—is providing Delaware’s districts and schools with an incredible opportunity to advance our education system to maximize student achievement and to ensure that all students graduate college- or career-ready.

7. Why should the Vision 2015 plan compare student performance in the United States to that of other countries?

We compare our education system to that of other countries because we have to. Our graduates are competing increasingly for jobs with graduates from other nations. Disappointingly, the United States now ranks in the bottom third of more than three dozen nations (that also offer universal K-12 education) on an international survey of student performance.

8. When Delaware is 8th in the nation in spending per pupil, do we need more money for our schools?

The Vision 2015 plan is focused on ways to use existing funds more efficiently and effectively for the direct benefit of Delaware’s educators and students. Getting a handle on this is critically important, especially now. Race to the Top funding ends soon, so we believe we must change the underlying funding systems to ensure that improvements are sustainable.In 2008, the Vision Coalition, acting on recommendations in the Vision 2015 plan, helped facilitate two key studies related to school funding in Delaware: the LEAD Committee’s Cost Efficiency Study, which identified up to $158M in expenses that could be reallocated to the classroom (only small portions of that amount have been saved so far), and a parallel study on how public funds are raised and allocated to our schools. The intent of the second study was to present the means by which funding could be allocated based on the individual needs of students (e.g., special education, English language learners, gifted and talented, and low-income). Currently most school funding is apportioned on a per-child “unit” basis that does not allow for different needs.In terms of additional support, some programs, such as those that would provide extra learning time or expanded access to early childhood programs, have only modest financial support, yet they remain extremely important. For example, Governor Markell’s $22M early childhood budget proposal, which was passed by the General Assembly in 2011, will help improve the quality of early childhood services. When considering costs, we must ask: “What will it cost if we don’t invest in our children?” By investing earlier and smarter, and by insisting that public schools spend the public’s resources more efficiently, we will save in the long run by revitalizing our economy, creating healthier communities, and helping individuals become more productive citizens.The data speak for themselves:
• A high school graduate earns $600,000 more during his/her life than a dropout.
• A college graduate earns $1.4 million more than a high school dropout.
• And, with more students staying in, and graduating from, high school and college, the costs to society of incarceration and Medicaid will be cut considerably.To learn more about Delaware’s school funding, watch this Content Delaware video.

9. How do we ensure that funds get to the students according to their individual needs?

Creating a “needs-based” funding formula will go a long way toward making sure that schools serving English language learners, students with disabilities, high-need populations, and gifted and talented students have the resources they need. The Vision 2015 plan promotes quality education that fits each student’s individual needs and interests. While some students need remediation, others need accelerated learning, and funding should reflect those differences.The Delaware General Assembly has taken small steps toward needs-based funding, principally for special education students, yet more can be done to ensure that funding is targeted to support every child’s success.

10. Does the Vision 2015 plan encourage different types of school design? What about charter and magnet schools?

We encourage innovation throughout the public school system. We know that students learn in different ways and have different interests. Some may thrive in a traditional classroom, while others may need more hands-on learning; some may want to specialize in a certain subject like the arts or science or foreign languages. Public schools should offer choices like these – whether in a traditional public school, public charter school, or public magnet school.

11. Why should we prepare all students for college?

The Vision Coalition believes in laying the foundation for success in any field—and in life. We’re not saying that all students absolutely must go to college, but fairness demands that all students have the education that gives them the choice and the opportunity to do so. Today’s high school graduates will enter a workplace that is vastly different from that of 10 and 20 years ago. These days, postsecondary training is required for most jobs, whether it’s an assembly line that requires computer use, farming that uses “GPS” data, or business professions that require advanced analytical thinking.

12. What about the arts and other non-core subjects?

These areas are essential to a well-rounded education, and they very often engage, deepen, and sustain a child’s interest in learning. The Vision 2015 plan’s emphasis on innovative instruction and multiple school options is geared, in part, toward providing more learning opportunities that enrich and go beyond the core subjects of reading, writing and math. We hope to provide principals and their leadership teams with greater flexibility to design their own programs within the state’s curricular framework, and to offer families more choices, such as schools that specialize in the arts.

13. Why should teachers support the Vision 2015 plan?

The Vision Coalition recognizes that good teaching is the most important in-school factor in student success. That’s why the plan proposes more competitive salaries, more decision-making for those who work the closest to students (especially principals and their leadership teams), professional development geared toward classroom effectiveness, fairer evaluations, and a career path that helps teachers advance even if they choose not to leave the classroom. Those who are effective should be rewarded. Those who need extra help should get it. The plan also recommends additional supports for teachers and paraprofessionals, such as parent involvement and early childhood education.

14. How does the Vision 2015 plan benefit school leaders?

The Vision 2015 plan strives to give current principals more autonomy in hiring and budgeting and to ensure excellence among the pool of future school leaders. For example, we support the Delaware Leadership Project, launched in 2011, which is helping prepare aspiring principals for placement in the state’s highest-need urban and rural schools. The 15-month fellowship responds to the realities of what it takes to lead a high-needs school and utilizes problem-based and action-learning methodologies in classroom and school residency settings.

15. What is the role of parents and families in the Vision Coalition?

Involved parents and families are essential for student success. The Parent Teacher Association (PTA) of Delaware supports the Vision 2015 plan. PTA leadership participated actively in the development of Vision 2015. Terri Hodges, Delaware PTA President currently serves on the Vision Coalition’s Steering Committee.

16. If the Vision Coalition is not a formal organization, who provides operational support?

The organizations represented have provided loaned capacity to help staff meetings and take notes, share information with their stakeholders, and host meetings. National and international experts have provided their advice and perspectives to the process. The Parthenon Group has provided consulting support.

17. Why aren’t some things addressed in the draft A Vision for Education in Delaware (ED25)?

There are a lot of issues to cover. We know we haven’t uncovered or resolved all the issues that need to be tackled, and that’s why we are inviting Delawareans to join the process to engage in the development of the final plan. Share your ideas at meetings, online, and continue to be in touch.

18. I’ve heard people refer to “The Next Decade” – is that different from ED25?

 Earlier this year, when the Vision Coalition began the effort to envision Delaware public education for the next 10 years, building on the successes over the previous decade, this effort was informally referred to as “The Next Decade.” As the work progressed and began to take shape the Vision Coalition Leadership Team updated “The Next Decade” working title with a name for the draft plan: “A Vision for Education in Delaware in 2025,” or ED25.
And who are their funders?
The Delaware DOE, that makes sense.  They love their charter schools! The Longwood Foundation, owned by the famous Delaware DuPont family.  I’ve noticed in many charter school board minutes that this foundation is also offering grants to many of our state’s charter schools.  Bank of America.  Didn’t they donate a building designated for charters up in Wilmington?  The Rodel Foundation…now that’s a shock!  It seems to me this Vision needs a bit of focus cause it seems to be narrowed down to charter schools.  Yes, this is the legacy of Governor Jack Markell: the selling out of Delaware public education to corporate interests.

8 thoughts on “Rodel and Paul Herdman’s Vision For The Future

  1. Frederika Jenner, President, Delaware State Education Association

    That one was a surprise. It explains everything as to why the DSEA did nothing to stop the Smarter Balanced Assessment or Common Core.

    And I hereby pull the nomination for Hollow Dick as Murphy’s replacement. We need desperately to go “outside” all corporate networks.

    Snakes On The Plane.


  2. FYI, Delaware has lost four Superintendents in less than a year, some who were recipients of RODEL’s influence. I listened to Mike Matthew’s comments on WDEL ad echo his sentiment regarding Race To The Top sustainability.

    Also, I watched Dr. Herdman’s TEDtalk and stopped to understand his appeal to collaborate. Since 1999, it’s been my experience that RODEL
    has not collaborated with: the American Society for Quality/Education Div., the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and many more.

    As a result, Delaware education is not engaging with those resources that are helping other states rely upon for school improvement. Since 1993,
    I’ve been an advisor and advocate for the Delaware State Quality Award Program and an “on-ramp” for strategic alliances for organizations seeking to improve.

    Frederika and Mike, DSEA help to fund the work we accomplished in Milford schools. Now that it appears DDOE leadership is sub-optimized,
    how will school districts – Capital S.D. – attract new education leaders?

    How much more chaos will it take before legislators are moved to action?

    We now have several task forces, calling for Process Improvement; Who
    will access the tools for this effort?
    Dr. Herdman, it’s not too late to collaborate, you have had my invitations since 2011.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.