In the past year, with all the articles I’ve written about the Delaware Department of Education, I have never had anyone come up to me and say “The DOE is awesome, they’re doing a great job.” They’ve had supporters, but even they say there are issues. I’ve often wondered if the DOE, Governor Markell, the State Board, Rodel, and all the rest are truly evil.
I don’t think they are. I think they are operating in a climate of fear where they buy into everything hook, line, and sinker. But I also think they believe their mantra about teachers, and students needing to be assessed to “close the gaps”. People can be easily swayed if they are only given one argument. I’ve had quite a few DOE employees tell me offline “Don’t publish this, but the Smarter Balanced Assessment really sucks!” But at heart, most of them are Kool-Aid drinkers.
I’m not saying they are all good people either. I took a course in college called “The Problem of Evil”. The professor posited that all people are neither inherently good or completely evil. We all operate on “tainted decency”, which states that everything we do has some sort of selfish motivation for us. We tried to come up with anything anyone in this world does without a self-interest clause, and the only thing we could come up with is volunteer fireman.
What we don’t know about the DOE is their innermost thoughts, their soul, their conscience. We can’t even guess what they think about late at night. They are people just like the rest of us. I’m not defending them, but I think it’s important to separate the job from the person. Everyone I’ve talked to at the DOE is very nice and cordial. Now when I say “talked to”, there are some who won’t even glance in my direction.
For all the razzing bloggers give them in Delaware, they have some pretty thick skin. Especially when it involves charter schools. But to this date, with the numerous times I’ve seen him, Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy has only said two words to me, and those were “Thank you.” This was on June 24th last year at Governor’s Café in Dover. He was rushing out the door, and I held it open for him. He has tried staring me down a few times, but I don’t let him. I just keep staring back.
For some of these people, there is a factor I like to call greed. They are making a lot of money, more than the average Delawarean. They are young, and some of these employees are making over $100,000 to essentially destroy public education as we know it. Wealth and an imagined power can make anyone submit to authority if it keeps the pipeline flowing.
What bothers me though, are the outright lies. Lines like “Smarter Balanced is the best test this state ever made”, or “Were entitled to our opinions, but not facts” when those “facts” are very wrong.
The companies surrounding the DOE and whispering in their ear, along with the Governor’s office, I don’t think they are evil either. Pretty close to it though. They are a business. Businesses make money. And that’s what it’s all about!
But for the most part, many of the employees at the DOE are just more state worker bees. I tend to focus on the big dogs there because they set the policies and guidelines. When I go to the DOE, it is the hub I visit, not the kiosks with eight employees in a row.
The big question is how many of these chiefs for academic excellence down at the Townshend Building in Dover will still be there in two years?
8 thoughts on “Is The Delaware DOE Evil, Or Just Extremely Misguided?”
It is hard to make a man understand a thing, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.
I definitely think Mike O. has a point there. Many people don’t ask questions because they don’t want to know the answers. Sometimes knowing the answers changes you life or your conscience. I’m a teacher. You wouldn’t believe the videos our administration has us watch that are pure propaganda about how the Common Core is a grassroots effort and designed to help poor children succeed. The teachers sit and watch and never bat an eye, never ask a question, never discuss it afterward. After the video, they just get up and leave as if it never happened. I wonder, “Do they all just believe all of this nonsense? Do they actually care? Does the administrator who is streaming this video actually buy into this nonsense or is she simply accepting it because it is the current fare?” I don’t say anything, either, because as Mike O. said, my salary (and therefore my ability to pay my mortgage each month) depends on my outward compliance. Do I want this Common Core and Smarter Balanced to go away? Absolutely, I do. Do I struggle with implementing CCSS in my lesson plans knowing that they are developmentally inappropriate for my students? Yes, it is a daily battle. Do I agree with spending weeks doing test prep lessons with my students instead of actually teaching them something valuable? Not at all. But do I do it anyway? I absolutely do.
I don’t think the DOE is evil. I think there are some leaders, especially the governor and the secretary of Education, who are in somebody’s pocket and need to carry out the agenda. Some others have probably decided “if you can’t beat em, join em,” for their own personal gain. And the rest are exhibiting outward compliance knowing that as the political winds blow, so they go too, knowing their salaries depend on it.
You had me with the photo! But your comments are also thoughtful and honest. These are hard times in public education.
It was either Gollum or My Little Pony…
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OK, I laughed out loud at that! At least you’ve kept your sense of humor!! I wish all that you have uncovered was funny and not so tragic.
It angers me that most of the big-wigs you talk about here can’t see beyond the decisions they make. There are no repercussions for their decisions and how they affect students and schools. Many have taught very little or not at all so they have no idea what a decision could do. We wouldn’t want non-medical people making medical decisions yet we have non-educators making education decisions.
I don’t think that the DOE actually cares about any issues that concern EDUCATION. The actual “thing” that they are supposed to care about and what schools are supposed to provide to ALL students. Let’s just hand out all of this money to charter schools knowing that there are so many charter schools with serious issues in this state. We need programs for disadvantaged children, for this and for that, but nobody actually checks in to see if the school is actually following through. Academy of Dover claims to have this afterschool program that helps children with their work but in actuality a teacher is forced to stay to babysit kids, offering no help regarding their work and the parent have to pay for it. Yet this is one of the programs that they always rave about. There needs to be accountability for these schools and DOE just doesn’t seem to care or realize it until somebody else brings it to their attention. Then they seem “concerned” with the issue until you leave their office. If you work for the DOE you need to actually care about these kids!