Below is an email chain I had with the DOE today. This was all based on a reblog from another blogger’s post about the achievement level settings for the Smarter Balanced Assessment. A commenter was questioning this and actually emailed the DOE, who provided answers to her without objection. But when I emailed them for further clarification on the issues, that’s when things took their usual turn for the worse…
From: Kevin Ohlandt [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Thursday, October 08, 2015 12:06 PM
To: Schwinn Penny; Reyna Ryan; Godowsky Steven; Haberstroh Susan Keene; Blowman David
Cc: Kevin Ohlandt; May Alison
Subject: Smarter Balanced Achievement Level Setting
I would like to see a list of the individuals from Delaware who participated in the Smarter Balanced Achievement Level Setting. This would include both the In-Person Panel and the Cross-Grade Review Committee. As well, I would like to know who from Delaware represented the final achievement level settings, which higher education leaders participated in the 11th grade achievement level setting, and anyone from Delaware who served on SBAC’s Technical Advisory Committee and if anyone from Delaware participated in the audit process for this.
From: May Alison <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: Kevin Ohlandt <email@example.com>; Schwinn Penny <Penny.Schwinn@doe.k12.de.us>; Reyna Ryan <Ryan.Reyna@doe.k12.de.us>; Godowsky Steven <Steven.Godowsky@doe.k12.de.us>; Haberstroh Susan Keene <firstname.lastname@example.org>; Blowman David <david.blowman@DOE.K12.DE.US>
Sent: Thursday, October 8, 2015 1:37 PM
Subject: RE: Smarter Balanced Achievement Level Setting
Just confirming I have received your FOIA request. I will be back in touch when your response is compiled.
From: Kevin Ohlandt <email@example.com>
Sent: Thursday, October 8, 2015 5:21 PM
To: May, Alison (K12); Schwinn, Penny (K12); Reyna, Ryan (K12); Godowsky, Steven (K12); Haberstroh, Susan (K12); Blowman, David (K12)
Cc: Markell, Jack (Governor); Denn, Matthew (DOJ); Williams, Kimberly (LegHall); Kowalko, John (LegHall); Matthews, Sean (LegHall); firstname.lastname@example.org; Pettyjohn, Brian (LegHall); Matthew Albright; Baumbach, Paul (LegHall); Townsend, Bryan (LegHall); Terri Hodges; Avi Wolfman-Arent; Rick Jensen; Kilroy’s Delaware; Kavips World Press Blog; John Young; Lindell, Matt (K12); Nancy Willing; Eve Buckley; Pandora DeLib; Schwartzkopf, Peter (LegHall); Blevins, Patricia (LegHall); Lawson, Dave (LegHall); Furlong Tim (NBCUniversal); David Paulk; email@example.com; Jaques, Jr, Earl (LegHall); Sokola, David (LegHall); Paradee, Trey (LegHall); O’Mara, Lindsay (Governor); Gray, Teri (K12)
Subject: Re: Smarter Balanced Achievement Level Setting
This is not a FOIA request. This is a question. Does every question have to be treated as a FOIA? Because we all know how successful that endeavor is. If I want to file a FOIA request, I’m sure you know by now that I am well aware of how to do that. What ever happened to transparency? This is a statewide assessment. Why is there all this secrecy with this? If this test is truly about the betterment of children, I would think it would all be publicly available. But when DOE pulls stunts like this it makes all of us wonder. What is this Department hiding? Why would you not have the contracts with the testing vendor available for all to see? That’s why people aren’t believing the DOE when it comes to this test. You guys may have a select group of educators in your little web, but at the end of the day everyone sees this for what it is: a huge effort by hundreds of companies who are literally banking on kids doing bad on this test. And they are making tons of money off it as well as several DOE employees who are making some very high salaries.
I don’t think anyone is fooled anymore. You folks can pretend you live in a world where you don’t need to abide by the rules and the letter of the law or you can change regulation, but it is catching up with all of you and faster than you think. You may think you have the Governor’s blessing on all of this, but there will come a day when all the secrets will be unveiled and anyone who was a part of this will be held accountable and I can guarantee the former Governor will not pull any of you out of the fire. Protection can only go so far, but transparency always rules the day. So I will posit this question to you: Will you give me ALL the information I have requested from the DOE in the past 15 months without it being some huge clandestine affair?
Dr. Godowsky, this is your chance to actually make a crucial change in this Department. I know you answer to the Governor, but I challenge you to do the right thing. And Governor Markell, if you truly believe sunshine is the right thing, than you should readily agree. We all know I write a blog and I call out the DOE on an almost daily basis. Someone needs to. Someone needs to see what this Department is and expose them whenever they can. But I wouldn’t be too concerned about what I do write, I would be very worried about what I haven’t written. I know about the true intent of SB79 w/SS1, I know about the umbrella corporation that is actually incorporated in Delaware, I know about all the companies, and on a national level many of us are putting the pieces together. Now it becomes a matter of who lets this information out: you or me.
I am growing tired of this cat and mouse game with the DOE. I am running out of patience. You can provide answers or I can find them out and just publish them. I’m sure you know I will publish them when you provide them. It’s just a question of who provides the information. Either way, all will be revealed eventually. In the meantime, I would really like an explanation of the attached picture and what the hell Delaware thinks they are doing sharing student data with other states.
From: “Kowalko, John (LegHall)” <John.Kowalko@state.de.us>
To: Kevin Ohlandt <firstname.lastname@example.org>; “May, Alison (K12)” <email@example.com>; “Schwinn, Penny (K12)” <firstname.lastname@example.org>; “Reyna, Ryan (K12)” <email@example.com>; “Godowsky, Steven (K12)” <firstname.lastname@example.org>; “Haberstroh, Susan (K12)” <email@example.com>; “Blowman, David (K12)” <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Dear Ms. May,
I am formally requesting this same information as a sitting State Representative and I expect a reply to be forthcoming from you and your office without delay. FOIA is not to be used as an obstacle course to government transparency and such an attitude will only ensure disappointment for the public and fuel the ire of the duly elected officials. I anticipate a response and the information sought within the next business day or I will be forced to demand it as is my right and the right of all taxpayers,
Representative John Kowalko (25th District)
And the cycle goes over on…