Jack Wells Shows Red Clay Support Salaries Far Exceed Any District In Delaware… And They Need More Money?

I really have to catch up on my email!  Jack Wells sent another Red Clay money email and this one is very illuminating:

The information provided below shows the  spending on salaries for Supervisors General Support by the Red Clay School Board.  This type of spending is an example of why Delaware Ranks 40th in Education and 14th in “Total Current Expenditures for Public Elementary and Secondary Day Schools per students.  Does anyone except the members of  Red Clay School Board believe this is the most effective use of $3.1 million dollars?

How is it possible that one district, in this case Red Clay can spend more on salaries for Supervisors General Support than all the school districts in either Kent or Sussex Counties, over a million dollars.  It is possible because in Delaware  providing local school boards the authority to spend public funds without any oversight, without being required to provide justification or without any requirement to inform the residents is more important than  ensuring $2.4 Billion annually is used effectively so our children will receive the greatest opportunity to receive the best education possible.  

Spending          Percent of

       On           Salaries Funded

   Salaries       From State Funds

       95,503           70.9           Appoquinimink

1,024,330         35.7               BSD

1,222,845         47.5               CSD

   666.990         28.1               Colonial

   722,523         53.0               NCCVT

3,197,002         18.1               RCCSD

6,929,193        Total

 

   469,018        52.2               Cape Henlopen

   103,309        80.5               Delmar

  469,057        56.9               IRSD

   170,777        37.5               Laurel

   643,009        36.3               Seaford

     78,617        54.0               Sussex Tech

   314,969        46.0               Woodbridge

2,248,756   Total

  

   525,104       70.0               Caesar Rodney

   600,593       66.9               Capital

   418,992       40.3               Lake Forest

     24,705       82.1               Milford

   217,755       42.7               Poly Tech

  275,040       86.1               Smyrna

2,962,189      Total

 

While the money of the hard working taxpayers are wasted, it is the “children” who are denied the opportunities to receive the best education possible.  Unfortunately power to the school boards is more important than education opportunities.  

How and where are we expending over $2.4 billion annually for the education of our children?  Since Delaware is ranked 40th in Education and 14th in total current expenditures, you would think, my question would be the battle cry of our education decision makers, unfortunately their battle cry is, we need more money if you want us to fund our schools based on the needs of our children.

Here is where in just 2 account codes, the Red Clay School Board expended $14,498,184 in 2014-2015, an increase of $12,479,933 over 2006-2007.  I believe if our legislators are going to do what is best for our children, than they must require the Red Clay School Board to provide an explanation/justification for this spending.  Unfortunately in Delaware, school boards are authorized to spend millions without justification or informing the community.  

     Total                    Total                Increase         % Salaries    Federal Funds

Compensation  Compensation           in                Funded by      Expended

  6/30/2014            6/30/2006      Expenditures  State Funds     6/30/2014

 4,571,712              2,018,251          2,553,461         18.1              2,858,733       Supervisors

 9,926,472                  none               9,926,472         29.6              2,709,089       Salaries General

14,498,184              2,018,251        12,479,933                               5,567,822

 

Comments:

A.      The job title Salaries General was created when our state implemented the Statewide Financial Management System. It was created to be used by our school boards when they create positions that are not identified by the State.  When I compared the old and new system, the only positions I could identify that were deleted were those used for transportation. Those implementing the new system did not want the public to know the cost of transportation. Why would they not want the public to know the cost of transportation? Answer: Those making the decision did not want the public to know how many millions were/are being expended on transportation for activities.

B.      Except for bus drivers and bus aides I believe most of the employees being charged to Salaries General work above the school level, in any case they are not teachers, paraprofessionals, and other school level employees. The districts salary scales show positons like Education Associate with 6 digit salaries that are not identified by the state.  The board establishes these 6 digit salaries without providing justification or informing the residents. I strongly oppose allowing 4 elected officials to create these positions and these salaries without justification or informing the community, NOW THAT IS POWER OVER PUBLIC FUNDS.

C.      The percent of state funding supporting these positions clearly show Red Clay has determined more overhead is required than determined by the state, once again no justification required.

D.      Expending $5,567,822 from federal funds that are mostly earned by our low income and special needs children, than informing the community, we have no money to fund the needs of our schools, requires an explanation.  Why are these funds not being used to hire employees for our schools? 

We have a choice, continue to allow school boards to spend money without justification and without informing the community, or require accountability on how and where districts are using $2.4 billion annually. I vote for accountability. Why? That is what is best for our children.

Being ranked 40th in Education and 14th in Total Current Expenditures is a disgrace.  Is this the best we can do for our children, if so, shame on us.

Jack Wells

 

Are Red Clay’s Administrative Costs Out Of Control?

A gentleman by the name of Jack Wells, a frequent commenter on Kilroy’s Delaware, has been hammering at Red Clay Consolidated School District for years over their administrative costs.  He makes my charter school financial stuff look weak in comparison!  I tend to focus on the Department of Education’s finances, but one of the major complaints I hear in Delaware is how administrative costs are out of control.  Every school district and charter school in Delaware should have a Jack Wells looking out for these types of things.

What has Mr. Wells upset right now?  The Wilmington Education Improvement Commission redistricting plan.  More specifically, the clause indicating the Red Clay board may raise taxes without a referendum…

 

  1. Chart 1 shows total state, federal and local funds received by the district during the period 2006/07 through 2013/14 as reported by our State’s Department of Education.  {Excludes 2 special schools.}
  2. Chart 2 shows the same information for the period 2006/07 through 2015/16, figures for 2015/16 were taken from the districts 2015/16 Budget. {DDOE has not published revenue information since 2013-2014.}

 

%                                                   %

State        Total          Fed             Local        Total       Total

116,745,319  54.82    14,604,025   81,607,040   38.32  212,956,384  2013/14

113,643,134  62.06    11,867,910   57,580,215   31.44  183,091,259  2006/07

3,102,185  10.38      2,736,115   24,026,825   80.45    29,865,125  Total Increase

 

119,089,298   53.44   11,747,926   92,107,040   41.33  222,844,264  2015/16

113,643,134   62.06   11,867,910   57,580,215   31.44  183,091,259  2006/07

5,446,164   13.70  {-} 219,984   34,526,825   86.85    39,753,005  Total Increase

 

These charts show that in 2006-2007 the state provided 62.06% of the revenue and the property owners provided 31.44%, eight years later the state was providing only 53.44 percent, property owners 41.33%, and the districts delinquent school taxes had skyrocketed. During this period the state cut funding to our schools while continuing to fund overhead in our districts and DDOE. The fact are clear, funding overhead is a priority over funding our schools.

In 2014 after property owners provided the district an additional $24,026,825, that represented 80.45 percent of the total increase in revenue.  The Board than told community, if you do not approve increasing your current operating tax rate by 19.97 percent, we will have to terminate teachers, paraprofessionals, activities, etc.,  To prevent these cuts, the community approved increasing the tax rate, than the board voted to deny property owners the right to vote to raise the tax rate.

Chart two includes the additional $10.5 million received this year as a result of the rate increase, since the increased tax rate will be phrased in over 3 years, local revenue with continue to increase. Since the referendum was approved, the district built a new 600 student K-5 school, regular and special enrollment student declined, regular units decreased while special education Div. I Units increased. {Chart below shows changes in enrollment and units.}

Regular      Units   Special  Units

Enrollment  Earned  Needs  Earned

14,364        777       2175      309     2014

13,925        752       2169      321     2016

{-}439   {-}  25     {-}  6        12

When property owners provide 86.85 % of the total increase in revenue, and the Board still has insufficient revenue to provide funding for ELL and low income children, the board has a major problem.  Rather than doing a review on how and where funds were being used by program, and than allocating funding by priority, the WEIC, the board and the boards Community Financial Review Committee recommended doing away with referendums and authorizing the board to raise taxes.  NOW THAT IS A SLAP IN THE FACE TO THE PROPERTY OWNERS, SHOCKING.

I strongly oppose providing the Red Clay School Board authority to raised local taxes without a referendum and wonder why after the property owners provided 86.85% of all the additional revenue, they determined it was necessary to do away with referendums. NOW THAT IS VERY TROUBLING. 

Jack Wells

As a taxpayer, I would find this very troubling.  Charter school and DOE finances are tough enough to figure out, but Mr. Wells brings up many valid points concerning district funds and spending.  I know Christina had to make a lot of sacrifices when their referendums didn’t pass last year.  Teachers lost jobs or were sent to other schools.  Some board members even turned in their district-paid cell phones last summer.  But I also know there are several districts with folks making over $100,000 across the state.  If the Every Student Succeeds Act actually does give more state and local control and less fed mandates, does this mean there would no longer be a need for so much district administration?  Or would it actually increase?  Dare I actually crack the yolk of district funding?  I think Brian Stephan from Delaware Liberal (who is on the Citizens Budget Oversight Committee in the Christina School District) and Jack Wells should hold a forum on district spending!

I plan on sharing a lot of Mr. Well’s material (with his permission) since it is so brilliant!  What do you think?  I would love to hear from some district admins, especially in Red Clay, about their side of this.  It is a conversation that is not going to go away.  One big takeaway I have from all this is that Jack Markell can talk education all he wants, but in his administration, the percentage of funding to education has actually gone down percentage-wise.  Jack Markell likes to talk big, but he leaves it up to the districts and yes, even the charters, to carry more of the financial burden for his (not-so) moments of brilliance.

The Leap

Today is Leap Day.  Every four years, except for a millennium, Earth adds an extra day to its calendar.  Apparently, it takes 365.25 days for Earth to revolve around the sun.  To make up for that .25, we get an extra day every four years.  It is also Superman’s birthday.  I remember four years ago, when my son attended a Delaware charter school, a classmate of his had a birthday on Leap Day.  He was turning two that year since he only had two birthdays.  The things kids believe!

My first Leap Year was 1972.  I was two, so I don’t remember anything.  In 1976, I was in Kindergarten in Syracuse, New York with Mr. McKinney.  I wanted to be a detective when I was older.  1980 brought us the Lake Placid Winter Olympics when the USA beat Russia.  I didn’t watch the final game because I was salivating over my Wacky Pack stickers.  I wanted to be a doctor when I was older.  In 1984, I was most likely not doing what I was supposed to be doing: homework, studying, chores.  What can I say, I was a rebellious young teenager!  My dreams of becoming a doctor went up in smoke when I saw an elderly man have a heart attack in Stop & Shop one day.  1988 was my Senior year of high school.  It was a good year, but also full of angst wondering what the future was going to hold.  I was going to major in business.  In 1992, I was in my final year at community college looking forward to transferring to Cabrini College in the fall.  I was going to finish college by 1994 with  an English/Communications degree.  In 1996, I had just moved to Sweden.  Literally.  I had sold most of my comic book collection and lived in a small town outside of Stockholm called Tullinge.  I didn’t work the first couple months I lived there.  There was no leap year in 2000 because it was a millennium year, but I was working at Chase Mortgage doing loss mitigation work.  2004’s Leap Day was definitely full of curiosity.  My wife was due with our son in a month and I couldn’t wait to see him!  Still at Chase.  In 2008, I was unemployed on Leap Day.  Luckily, it didn’t last long.  2012, the last Leap Day before this one, I was working two jobs and rarely had time for anything outside of work.  I was at my current job and also working as a paraprofessional at Campus Community School.  Which brings us to 2016 and today.

My point behind all of this, nobody knows for sure what they want to do with their life.  Some do, those who have exceptional drive and motivation.  Not everyone has that.  But our Governor and the Delaware DOE seem to think every child should know what they are going to do when they are “career ready”.  If not, the test scores will determine that and they will make sure you are put on a fast track to that career.  It isn’t right.  People need the freedom to stretch their own wings and figure things out for themselves.

 

 

Something Doesn’t Add Up With National PTA’s Intimidation Letter To Delaware PTA…

PTABullying

I was thinking about this a lot the past two days.  Since I posted the National PTA “Comply Or We Will Make You” letter to the Delaware PTA, something didn’t feel quite right.  Was it the absolute absurdity and gall of National PTA, or the timing of it?

The Delaware PTA heavily advocated House Bill 50, the Delaware opt-out legislation that our cowardly weasel of a Governor vetoed last July.  When an attempt  to have our legislators do the right thing and override Markell’s veto, the Delaware PTA staged a rally outside of Legislative Hall in Dover.  This was a month and a half ago.  The very next week, the Delaware PTA announced National PTA would be coming out with a position statement against opt-out very soon.  They did so in the beginning of February.

Let us flash forward to last Wednesday.  The Wilmington Education Improvement Commission has their post-State Board meeting where State Board of Education President Dr. Teri Quinn Gray is grilled and served on a plate by Wilmington school districts and members of the Commission.  State Board Executive Director Donna Johnson is most likely highly embarrassed about the allegation she advised State Board members how to vote on the WEIC plan.  The very next day, President of Delaware PTA Dr. Terri Hodges gets the comply or die letter from Laura Bay, the President of National PTA.  Right before the assessment inventory meeting at the Delaware Department of Education.  Right before.  As she walks into the meeting, handouts are provided to the committee and members of the public.  One of them is the National PTA position statement on assessment and opt-out.  It was a very odd choice for a hand-out.  Especially since it was NEVER discussed at all during the meeting.  Dr. Hodges attended the previous meeting, and I’m sure the DOE knew some type of Delaware PTA representation would attend the meeting.  I’m not coming right out and saying this, but I’m sure you can see where I’m going with this.

Yes, the National PTA did issue the position statement against opt-out.  For what reasons, I absolutely cannot fathom.  But Kilroy’s Delaware did present something very interesting today in regards to National PTA President Laura Bay.  It turns out she is the coördinator for assessment and instruction in her Washington school district.  And she essentially runs National PTA.  But was there some outside influence to have Bay pull a sword on Delaware PTA?

We have January and February of 2016 as two key months with a lot of Delaware PTA/National PTA/State Board of Education/Delaware DOE/WEIC activity.  All involving some very key players in this very bizarre game of Russian Roulette with parental choices.  Add in some referendums, priority schools, and redistricting and we have a huge mess on our hands!

In the backdrop of it all: a very power-hungry Delaware Governor Jack Markell and John King, the very controversial figure at the US Department of Education who is hoping to become the next US Secretary of Education instead of Acting.  Surrounding all of this is the massive tome called the Every Student Succeeds Act.  The mammoth legislation that has not been clearly defined but will in the coming months when the US DOE begins issuing regulations around it.  To make matters more complicated, this will be going on during most state’s testing windows for their state assessments, including the Smarter Balanced Assessment in Delaware.  Also during an election year.

The bridge between Delaware PTA and National PTA has one person on both sides: Yvonne Johnson.  She serves as the Vice-President of Advocacy for Delaware PTA and is a board member of National PTA.  The Governor was not pleased with the Delaware PTA’s defense of House Bill 50 at all.  The Delaware PTA has some choices ahead of them.  Fight, submit, or secede.  None will be easy decisions.  Secession is not an easy thing.  Fighting could result in major issues for them.  Submit will assuredly permanently scar the organization that has made a name for itself over the past year by supporting a parent’s right to opt their child out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment in Delaware.  Dr. Hodges is not one to surrender quietly.  This will definitely be something to watch over the coming months.  Perhaps a little push is in order…

 

 

Which Delaware Charter School Is Under Investigation By The State Auditor Now? How About ALL Of Them!!!!

It turns out the Delaware State Auditor’s office is investigating the September 30th Enrollment Counts at certain charter schools in Delaware.  Which ones?  How about ALL OF THEM!!!  Schools were notified in November that the Auditor of Accounts would be coming for a visit.  They started going to the charters the past couple months.  How do I know this?  A few charters actually told me.  But my question would be this: why would the auditor’s office announce they were coming ahead of time?  Isn’t the point of an audit investigation that it takes you by surprise?

POCS930Audit

“September 30th Procedures.”  The above picture came from Positive Outcomes board minutes from November.  All schools in Delaware are required to submit their enrollment counts on September 30th of each school year.  This determines the unit-based funding for special education children in Delaware.  If ALL the charters under investigation by the auditor, is this for their special education counts or their TOTAL counts?  This could be a VERY interesting report when it comes out!  I went to the state auditor’s website, and I saw NO reports from the last three fiscal years on any type of September 30th count investigation.

NCS930Audit

Newark Charter School already had their audit done.  I have to wonder why all of them are being investigated.  I know Delaware Met’s numbers were in some flux for a while there.  But ALL of them?  I would have to imagine if ANY charter school in Delaware is reporting false numbers that would have a huge impact on their funding.  As well, it is the law.  But if they are fudging around with special education numbers…that’s federal as well!  IDEA-B funding comes from federal coffers, and you DON’T want the feds coming after you for that kind of fraud!

 

The O’Mara-Markell-Coach-Quinn Gray-Godowsky Scandal

This was originally on the Delaware blog Children & Educators First yesterday:

Earlier this week, C&E 1st posed the question:  What’s Lindsey O’Mara got to do with it? Regarding the WEIC Commission, the State Board of Education, Priority Plans, and the Christina School District.

To get to the answer, I’ve scribed together several posts from Exceptional Delaware by Kevin Ohlandt. I give full credit to Kevin for ferreting out and documenting meeting after meeting related to the Gov and all his pawns.  What I have tried to do is give the reader a sense that not one event is singular to the WEIC drama, not one event is special, and not one is organic.  These meetings, who had what info, who stumbled, this was all pre-ordained by our self-aggrandizing Gov. Markell and his entitled political hacks.

Here’s your answer:

The Deal – https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/tag/the-deal/

According to Fred Polaski, the Christina Board of Education President, he and Superintendent Freeman Williams met with Lindsey O’Mara, the education advisor for Governor Markell, in hashing out an agreement over the three priority schools in their district.  The Delaware Department of Education was there at the beginning of the meeting, and left soon after.  More details as they emerge…
I’m not sure if this was at this meeting, before, or after, but apparently DOE Officer of Accountability Penny Schwinn told Christina she already has three assistant principals already in mind for the three priority schools during the “transition”.
The Christina Board is getting ready to vote on the decision to follow this plan, developed not by Christina and the DOE, but Christina and Governor Markell’s office.
The Christina Board passed the Markell/DOE plan (still waiting to find out whose plan it was), by a 4-1-2 vote.  For those keeping track, the yes votes belonged to John Young, Elizabeth Paige, David Ressler and Fred Polaski.  Harrie Minnehan voted no, and George Evans and Shirley Saffer abstained.  The board also voted unanimously for a second referendum on May 27th.


This was buried in a blogpost last March on ExceptionalDelaware – a post that garnered no comments (rare!) However, this meeting has a far reaching impact. Let’s start with the attendees – O’Mara, representing the Governor, Penny Schwinn, on behalf of DOE, Superintendent Williams and Board Member Fred Polaski, for the Christina School District.  Notably, Coach Murphy was absent.  It’s been rumored that the Gov. ordered Murphy to stand down and lay low. You can find the plans that this covert team hammered out here:

To read the rest of this very interesting article, go here: http://elizabethscheinberg.blogspot.com/2016/02/omara-markell-coach-quinngrey-godowski.html

One Week For Parents To Opt Out In Many School Districts In Delaware

The official Smarter Balanced Assessment Year 2 window opens up on March 9th.  While this doesn’t mean every single student in every single grade will start the Smarter Balanced that day, I would highly recommend opting your child out of the test prior to that.  Just write a letter indicating you don’t want your child taking the test and you wish for them to receive academic instruction while their peers are taking it.  Make a copy, give it to the principal or head of school, have a witness with you, and be proud of your decision.  It is that easy.

As opposed to your child sitting for days on end taking a test that truly has no bearing on his or her unique capabilities and academic strengths or weaknesses.  It is a flawed test meant for the sole purpose of giving the government and non-profits data about your child.  The algorithms built into the test allow for that data to pass freely into the federal governments hands.  Your child is now part of a tracking system that will allow the government and companies to determine what kind of “career path” your child will embark on.  And the rest of their elementary or secondary education will be spent guiding them towards that path.

Remember those personality tests or career path tests you may have taken years ago?  And then you take it a few days later and your answers may be different?  You could go from being a lawyer to an accountant based on a couple different answers.  But imagine if you weren’t able to give a different answer?  And the rest of your life went by what answers you gave when you were in 3rd grade?  That is the future of high-stakes assessment.  They may get rid of the false labeling of schools and teachers.  They may even shorten the test, or even break it up into smaller segments embedded into personalized learning modules brought to you by Schoology.  Your child’s data is going out from those systems as well.  And our state’s highest officials know this.  Our Governor knows this.  And guess what?  They don’t care.

If you want to feed the beast, then let your child take the test.  If you think, “Hey, it’s the 21st Century.  It’s about time our schools become more technologically advanced.  Who cares about data,” then let your child take the test.  If you do care about these things, opt your child out now.  Do you remember what you wanted to be when you were 8 years old?  Or even 11 years old?  Or even 15?  Are you what you thought you would be?  I imagine the answer is no.  So why would you let the government decide what your child should be?  Opt-out now.  Do it today.  Your child’s future DOES depend on it.

Until our legislators craft a law indicating absolutely NO data goes out from these computer systems and programs, including the very computer code that captures and sends out this data, opt your child out of anything done on a computer at a school.  If they have to do research, let them do it from home.  This is a major change and the schools will pitch a fit.  Ask to see your child’s data file.  Chances are they won’t be able to provide it.  Ask the state.  FOIA the information if they say no or can’t do it.  Do not stop until you are able to track down every kilobyte of data that has left school computers and into the welcome hands of the state and federal government and the companies they serve.  Schools don’t own your child.  The government doesn’t either.  Nobody does.  They are your child, and you have been given a mission on this earth to protect them from harm.  This is harmful, and disturbing, and toxic.  Protect your child.

28RA

Flight

The transition flight.  The journey.  The lost hours.  In the sky we lose ourselves.  Nowhere to run and nowhere to return.  Let go or hold on?

We all have something in our life we wanted so much.  For some, they get what they want.  Others, sadly, never get it.  But what happens if you almost reach it, and let it go?  Many face this decision in their lifetimes.  I faced it once.  While I won’t go into details, it’s important to know that it changes you, the core of who you are.  We all deal with the choices we make.  Every single second of every single day.  We need to be mindful of how we make them and the reasons why.  What appears to be good on the surface, in the short-term, may not play out as well in the long run.  The unintended consequence of regret can haunt you forever.

Life does go on and new days come, but we never forget.  You can make peace with it and move on, or you can let it swallow you whole.  Bravery is one thing, but courage lasts a lifetime.  Sometimes the best decisions are those made of courage.  Knowing that staying the course would result in pain for all.  The impossible choices.  And all you are left with, is 28RA…

 

TheSameMoon

National PTA Forces Delaware PTA To Back Down From Honoring Parent’s Right To Opt-Out, Time To End That Relationship!!!!

Immediately cease advocacy efforts in support of the Delaware PTA Position Statement on Parent Opt Out HB50 including but not limited to website promotion, action alerts, e-newsletters, media interview and information flyers.

Per National PTA SOA Policy, if you are unable to comply with the SOA requirements by April 26, 2016 (60 days from this notification), a support team will be assigned to Delaware PTA to help create and implement a plan to move your PTA back into compliance.

Unbelievable!  It’s one thing to say you don’t agree with someone for doing something.  But then you force them to take a position on it? And if they don’t you will make sure they do?  I say the Delaware PTA renames itself and kicks National PTA to the curb!  Who do they think they are?  What a bunch of arrogant jerks!  It is the PARENT-Teacher Association.  Not the “we got more money from Bill Gates so we are going to force our state PTAs to shut up about opt-out” Association.  What a bunch of sell-outs!  What the hell kind of parent organization doesn’t honor parent’s rights?  Terri and Yvonne, do the right thing for the parents of Delaware, not this bureaucratic nightmare in Washington D.C.  Absolutely ridiculous!

And the Delaware PTA sent some questions to National PTA:

Yeah, they may not say places like the Gates Foundation won’t fund you if you support opt-out.  But guess what, they just won’t give you money in the future.  National PTA knows this.  Time for a clean break Delaware PTA!  Meanwhile, Delaware PTA President Terri Hodges sent this out to the Delaware PTA membership this afternoon:

PTA members and supporters,

            As you are aware, National PTA issued an updated position statement in January 2016 regarding state assessments. The position statement, developed by the National PTA Legislative Committee and approved by the National Board of Directors, also outlines National PTA’s opposition of the growing parent opt-out movement across the United States.

            When the position statement was released in January, we were initially informed that our advocacy of parental rights was not in conflict with the updated position statement, as Delaware PTA has never encouraged parents to opt of testing. However, upon further review National PTA has determined that our advocacy of parental rights is in fact in conflict with the updated position statement. As a result, Delaware PTA has received the attached DE Sanctions Letter from National PTA informing us that as a state association we are not in compliance with the Standards of Affiliation.

            As a state association, we are obligated to comply with the National PTA Standard of Affiliations which governs the relationship between National PTA and the state associations. Similarly, our bylaws define the relationship between the state association and our local units in that the local units may not collectively take up any position that contradicts the position of Delaware State PTA and by extension National PTA. As indicated in the letter, the position statement can only be amended /rescinded by the voting body. This will be an action item on the agenda for our upcoming Board of Managers meeting, where we will also accept a motion to amend the legislative priorities at the next state convention. In the interim, Delaware PTA is required to cease all advocacy related to parent opt out.

            We recognize that with the support of parents and teachers, several of our school districts have adopted policies, resolutions and/or procedures for honoring a parent’s request to opt out of the state assessment. National PTA’s prohibition on our advocacy only extends to the state association and thus the local units. This position does not have any impact on individual activity and advocacy.

            We want to ensure our members that we have done our due diligence in sharing our concerns with National PTA and requesting complete transparency around the new position statement via the Questions posed to National PTA(attached). Delaware PTA remains committed to our membership and advocating for the students of Delaware. PTA is a multi-issue advocacy organization. As such, we will continue our advocacy in the following key areas:

  • A reduction in testing across all grade levels
  • A reliable and valid state assessment that measures student growth
  • A fair and representative teacher evaluation system
  • Weighted funding
  • Anti-Bullying compliance

            We thank everyone for your continued support. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to us at de_office@pta.org

 Delaware PTA

Godowsky Officially Announces Lindsay O’Mara’s Exit From Markell’s Administration

dovertodc

I forgot to mention this yesterday.  Delaware Secretary of Education Dr. Steven Godowsky officially announced Lindsay O’Mara resigned from her position as Governor Markell’s Education Policy Advisor.  Something I announced two and a half weeks ago.  Godowsky also said she took a position at the United States Department of Education.   O’Mara held the position since 2013 in Governor Markell’s administration.  The question now becomes who, if anyone, will take her place.  I’ve heard different scenarios since I first posted the story but nothing official.

The Markell administration revolving door is open again!  With Lindsay at the US DOE, does this add more weight to Jack showing up there if Hillary becomes President?

Delaware DOE’s “Participation Rate Plan” Approved By US DOE, Don’t Mention Opt-Out At All

KingShining

The Delaware Department of Education submitted their participation rate plan to the United States Department of Education on 2/11/16.  Less than 24 hours later, the “plan” was approved by US DOE.  In my opinion, this is all smoke and mirrors.  The Smarter Balanced Assessment window opens next week.  I have no clue what opt-out numbers will be this year.  I know many of the same parents who opted their child out last year plan on doing it this year as well.  The big factor is going to be the replacement of the Smarter Balanced Assessment with the Common Core aligned SAT for high school juniors.  Many of the opt-outs last year were high school juniors.

I love how the Delaware DOE talks about how some communities balked about over-testing which resulted in the Assessment Inventory.  The ironic part is parental choice to have their kids not take the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  Parents didn’t opt their kids out of the SAT, AP exams, or any of the other tests: just Smarter Balanced.  Much of the over-testing discussion for lower grades was around the DCAS which was administered two to three times a year depending on how the student did on the first Spring test.

Okay Secretary Godowsky, the DOE will send letters to Superintendents and Principals if the numbers are too low.  What do you expect them to do at that point?  The parents have already opted their child out.  Do you expect them to threaten or cajole the parent into having their kid take the Smarter Balanced Assessment?  Bribe them?  Or even worse, have the kid take it without the parent’s knowledge?  That isn’t a plan!  The plain simple fact is the DOE cannot and should not make an opt-out plan.  It is something the DOE, school districts, and charter schools have no control over.  It’s a parental decision that should not be tampered with in any way!  And I love how you can’t use the participation rate penalty in the Delaware School Success Framework this year because the US DOE didn’t approve it because of the Every Student Succeeds Act!

But let’s look at the US DOE response:

Alrighty then, that’s a plan!  Cut the Title I administrative funds for the state assessment?  Yes!  Please do it!  Cut it all!  Bankrupt the federal funding for state assessments?  Sounds like a plan to me!  Delaware parents, opt your kids out TODAY!  Or better yet, REFUSE THE TEST DELAWARE!!!!  And while your at it, all American parents need to contact their US Representatives and Senators and tell them to vote NO on confirming Acting US Secretary of Education John King!

 

The “Dear Hillary” Letter That Will Cause Your Mouth To Drop To The Floor

The “Dear Hillary” letter, written on Nov. 11, 1992 by Marc Tucker, president of the National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE), lays out a plan “to remold the entire American system” into “a seamless web that literally extends from cradle to grave and is the same system for everyone,” coordinated by “a system of labor market boards at the local, state and federal levels” where curriculum and “job matching” will be handled by counselors “accessing the integrated computer-based program.” -found here.

Now that Delaware Governor Markell is in the twilight of his reign as Governor, he is making sure all the seeds he planted over the past 12 years will bloom. But he couldn’t have done any of this without a lot of help.

This saga actually began in 1992. The newly elected President Bill Clinton’s wife Hillary received a long letter from a man named Marc Tucker.  This letter was entered into the Congressional Record on September 25th, 1998 by former Colorado US House Representative Bob Schaffer.  When you read this, look at it from the lens of what is currently going on with modern day public education and the Every Student Succeeds Act.  Your mind will be blown away at how much of this has come to pass.  And why our children have never been in more danger than ever by the very faces who smile for the camera and tell us why our schools are failing.  They aren’t failing.  We just believed the lies.  Now it is time to expose the lies.  And opt our children out of ANYTHING that leads to this.  And after you read this, please read this article.  Find out what your state’s data bill is and contact your legislators to find out what data is going out about your child.  Just don’t forget to ask them about the algorithms!

For those who may support Hillary Clinton for President, is this really an agenda she would leave behind?  Can you still support her after reading this?  For those school district superintendents, administrators, state legislators, US Congress members, business leaders, companies, and foundations who support public education, were you aware of ANY of this?  I’m guessing a lot of you weren’t.  But some of you were.  And all your sins in every single state will be laid bare sooner rather than later.  My child, our children, America’s children, they aren’t your guinea pigs.  They are not your data or your pre-determined future “career ready” workforce drones.  And this is why you will lose.  You may have silenced many of the teachers and educators.  But you assumed parents wouldn’t rally against this.  We are.  In greater numbers than you can even fathom.  And we are using your greatest tool as the method to bring you down: data.  Your day is done.  I speak for every parent in America who shares the same thoughts I experienced after reading this letter.  No more.  And how dare you throw words like civil rights and equity into conversations to twist society into your warped views.

11 November 1992

Hillary Clinton The Governor’s Mansion 1800 Canter Street Little Rock, AR 72206

Dear Hillary:

I still cannot believe you won. But utter delight that you did pervades all the circles in which I move. I met last Wednesday in David Rockefeller’s office with him, John Sculley, Dave Barram and David Haselkorn. It was a great celebration. Both John and David R. were more expansive than I have ever seen them — literally radiating happiness. My own view and theirs is that this country has seized its last chance. I am fond of quoting Winston Churchill to the effect that “America always does the right thing — after it has exhausted all the alternatives.” This election, more than anything else in my experience, proves his point.

The subject we were discussing was what you and Bill should do now about education, training and labor market policy. Following that meeting, I chaired another in Washington on the same topic. Those present at the second meeting included Tim Barnicle, Dave Barram, Mike Cohen, David Hornbeck, Hilary Pennington, Andy Plattner, Lauren Resnick, Betsy Brown Ruzzi, Bob Schwartz, Mike Smith and Bill Spring. Shirley Malcom, Ray Marshall and Susan McGuire were also invited. Though these three were not able to be present at last week’s meeting, they have all contributed by telephone to the ideas that follow. Ira Magaziner was also invited to this meeting.

Our purpose in these meetings was to propose concrete actions that the Clinton administration could take — between now and the inauguration, in the first 100 days and beyond. The result, from where I sit, was really exciting. We took a very large leap forward in terms of how to advance the agenda on which you and we have all been working — a practical plan for putting all the major components of the system in place within four years, by the time Bill has to run again.

I take personal responsibility for what follows. Though I believe everyone involved in the planning effort is in broad agreement, they may not all agree on the details. You should also be aware that, although the plan comes from a group closely associated with the National Center on Education and the Economy, there was no practical way to poll our whole Board on this plan in the time available. It represents, then, not a proposal from our Center, but the best thinking of the group I have named.

We think the great opportunity you have is to remold the entire American system for human resources development, almost all of the current components of which were put in place before World War II. The danger is that each of the ideas that Bill advanced in the campaign in the area of education and training could be translated individually in the ordinary course of governing into a legislative proposal and enacted as a program. This is the plan of least resistance. But it will lead to these programs being grafted onto the present system, not to a new system, and the opportunity will have been lost. If this sense of time and place is correct, it is essential that the administration’s efforts be guided by a consistent vision of what it wants to accomplish in the field of human resource development, with respect both to choice of key officials and the program.

What follows comes in three places:

First, a vision of the kind of national — not federal — human resources development system the nation could have. This is interwoven with a new approach to governing that should inform that vision. What is essential is that we create a seamless web of opportunities, to develop one’s skills that literally extends from cradle to grave and is the same system for everyone — young and old, poor and rich, worker and full-time student. It needs to be a system driven by client needs (not agency regulations or the needs of the organization providing the services), guided by clear standards that define the stages of the system for the people who progress through it, and regulated on the basis of outcomes that providers produce for their clients, not inputs into the system.

Second, a proposed legislative agenda you can use to implement this vision. We propose four high priority packages that will enable you to move quickly on the campaign promises:

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  1. The first would use your proposal for an apprenticeship system as the keystone of a strategy for putting a whole new postsecondary training system in place. That system would incorporate your proposal for reforming postsecondary education finance. It contains what we think is a powerful idea for rolling out and scaling up the whole new human resources system nationwide over the next four years, using the (renamed) apprenticeship ideas as the entering wedge.
  2. The second would combine initiatives on dislocated workers, a rebuilt employment service and a new system of labor market boards to offer the Clinton administration’s employment security program, built on the best practices anywhere in the world. This is the backbone of a system for assuring adult workers in our society that they need never again watch with dismay as their jobs disappear and their chances of ever getting a good job again go with them.
  3. The third would concentrate on the overwhelming problems of our inner cities, combining elements of the first and second packages into a special program to greatly raise the work-related skills of the people trapped in the core of our great cities.
  4. The fourth would enable you to take advantage of legislation on which Congress has already been working to advance the elementary and secondary reform agenda.

The other major proposal we offer has to do with government organization for the human resources agenda. While we share your reservations about the hazards involved in bringing reorganization proposals to the Congress, we believe that the one we have come up with minimizes those drawbacks while creating an opportunity for the new administration to move like lightning to implement its human resources development proposals. We hope you can consider the merits of this idea quickly, because, if you decide to go with it or something like it, it will greatly affect the nature of the offers you make to prospective cabinet members.

The Vision

We take the proposals Bill put before the country in the campaign to be utterly consistent with the ideas advanced in America’s Choice, the school restructuring agenda first stated in A Nation Prepared, and later incorporated in the work of the National Alliance for Restructuring Education, and the elaboration of this view that Ray and I tried to capture in our book, Thinking for a Living. Taken together, we think these ideas constitute a consistent vision for a new human resources development system for the United States. I have tried to capture the essence of that vision below.

 

An Economic Strategy Based on Skill Development

  • The economy’s strength is derived from a whole population as skilled as any in the world, working in workplaces organized to take maximum advantage of the skills those people have to offer.
  • A seamless system of unending skill development that begins in the home with the very young and continues through school, postsecondary education and the workplace.

 

The Schools

  • Clear national standards of performance in general education (the knowledge and skills that everyone is expected to hold in common) are set to the level of the best achieving nations in the world for students of 16, and public schools are expected to bring all but the most severely handicapped up to that standard. Students get a certificate when they meet this standard, allowing them to go on to the next stage of their education. Though the standards are set to international benchmarks, they are distinctly American, reflecting our needs and values.
  • We have a national system of education in which curriculum, pedagogy, examinations, and teacher education and licensure systems are all linked to the national standards, but which provides for substantial variance among states, districts, and schools on these matters. This new system of linked standards, curriculum, and pedagogy will abandon the American tracking system, combining high academic standards with the ability to apply what one knows to real world problems and qualifying all students for a lifetime of learning in the postsecondary system and at work.
  • We have a system that rewards students who meet the national standards with further education and good jobs, providing them a strong incentive to work hard in school.
  • Our public school systems are reorganized to free up school professionals to make the key decisions about how to use all the available resources to bring students up to the standards. Most of the federal, state, district and union rules and regulations that now restrict school professionals’ ability to make these decisions are swept away, though strong measures are in place to make sure that vulnerable populations get the help they need. School professionals are paid at a level comparable to that of other professionals, but they are expected to put in a full year, to spend whatever time it takes to do the job and to be fully accountable for the results of their work. The federal, state and local governments provide the time, staff development resources, technology and other support needed for them to do the job. Nothing less than a wholly restructured school system can possibly bring all of our students up to the standards only a few have been expected to meet up to now.
  • There is a real — aggressive — program of public choice in our schools, rather than the flaccid version that is widespread now.
  • All students are guaranteed that they will have a fair shot at reaching the standards: that is, that whether they make it or not depends on the effort they are willing to make, and nothing else. School delivery standards are in place to make sure this happens. These standards have the same status in the system as the new student performance standards, assuring that the quality of instruction is high everywhere, but they are fashioned so as not to constitute a new bureaucratic nightmare.

 

Postsecondary Education and Work Skills

  • All students who meet the new national standards for general education are entitled to the equivalent of three more years of free additional education. We would have the federal and state governments match funds to guarantee one free year of college education to everyone who meets the new national standards for general education. So a student who meets the standard at 16 would be entitled to two free years of high school and one of college. Loans, which can be forgiven for public service, are available for additional education beyond that. National standards for sub-baccalaureate college-level professional and technical degrees and certificates will be established with the participation of employers, labor and higher education. These programs will include both academic study and structured on-the-job training. Eighty percent or more of American high school graduates will be expected to get some form of college degree, though most of them less than a baccalaureate. These new professional and technical certificates and degrees typically are won within three years of acquiring the general education certificate, so, for most postsecondary students, college will be free. These professional and technical degree programs will be designed to link to programs leading to the baccalaureate degree and higher degrees. There will be no dead ends in this system. Everyone who meets the general education standard will be able to go to some form of college, being able to borrow all the money they need to do so, beyond the first free year.

(This idea of post-secondary professional and technical certificates captures all of the essentials of the apprenticeship idea, while offering none of its drawbacks (see below). But it also makes it clear that those engaged in apprentice-style programs are getting more than narrow training; they are continuing their education for other purposes as well, and building a base for more education later. Clearly, this idea redefines college. Proprietary schools, employers and community-based organizations will want to offer these programs, as well as community colleges and four-year institutions, but these new entrants will have to be accredited if they are to qualify to offer the programs.)

  • Employers are not required to provide slots for the structured on-the-job training component of the program but many do so, because they get first access to the most accomplished graduates of these programs, and they can use these programs to introduce the trainees to their own values and way of doing things.
  • The system of skill standards for technical and professional degrees is the same for students just coming out of high school and for adults in the workforce. It is progressive, in the sense that certificates and degrees for entry level jobs lead to further professional and technical education programs at higher levels. Just as in the case of the system for the schools, though the standards are the same everywhere (leading to maximum mobility for students), the curricula can vary widely and programs can be custom designed to fit the needs of full-time and part-time students with very different requirements. Government grant and loan programs are available on the same terms to full-time and part-time students, as long as the programs in which they are enrolled are designed to lead to certificates and degrees defined by the system of professional and technical standards.
  • The national system of professional and technical standards is designed much like the multistate bar, which provides a national core around which the states can specify additional standards that meet their unique needs. There are national standards and exams for no more than 20 broad occupational areas, each of which can lead to many occupations in a number of related industries. Students who qualify in any one of these areas have the broad skills required by a whole family of occupations, and most are sufficiently skilled to enter the workforce immediately, with further occupation-specific skills provided by their union or employer. Industry and occupational groups can voluntarily create standards building on these broad standards for their own needs, as can the states. Students entering the system are first introduced to very broad occupational groups, narrowing over time to concentrate on acquiring the skills needed for a cluster of occupations. This modular system provides for the initiative of particular states and industries while at the same time providing for mobility across states and occupations by reducing the time and cost entailed in moving from one occupation to another. In this way, a balance is established between the kinds of generic skills needed to function effectively in high performance work organizations and the skills needed to continue learning quickly and well through a lifetime of work, on the one hand, and the specific skills needed to perform at a high level in a particular occupation on the other.
  • Institutions receiving grant and loan funds under this system are required to provide information to the public and to government agencies in a uniform format. This information covers enrollment by program, costs and success rates for students of different backgrounds and characteristics, and career outcomes for those students, thereby enabling students to make informed choices among institutions based on cost and performance. Loan defaults are reduced to a level close to zero, both because programs that do not deliver what they promise are not selected by prospective students and because the new postsecondary loan system uses the IRS to collect what is owed from salaries and wages as they are earned.

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Education and Training for Employed and Unemployed Adults

  • The national system of skills standards establishes the basis for the development of a coherent, unified training system. That system can be accessed by students coming out of high school, employed adults who want to improve their prospects, unemployed adults who are dislocated and others who lack the basic skills required to get out of poverty. But it is all the same system. There are no longer any parts of it that are exclusively for the disadvantaged, though special measures are taken to make sure that the disadvantaged are served. It is a system for everyone, just as all the parts of the system already described are for everyone. So the people who take advantage of this system are not marked by it as damaged goods. The skills they acquire are world class, clear and defined in part by the employers who will make decisions about hiring and advancement.
  • The new general education standard becomes the target for all basic education programs, both for school dropouts and adults. Achieving that standard is the prerequisite for enrollment in all professional and technical degree programs. A wide range of agencies and institutions offer programs leading to the general education certificate, including high schools, dropout recovery centers, adult education centers, community colleges, prisons and employers. These programs are tailored to the needs of the people who enroll in them. All the programs receiving government grant or loan funds that come with dropouts and adults for enrollment in programs preparing students to meet the general education standard must release the same kind of data required of the postsecondary institutions on enrollment, program description, cost and success rates. Reports are produced for each institution and for the system as a whole showing differential success rates for each major demographic group.
  • The system is funded in four different ways, all providing access to the same or a similar set of services. School dropouts below the age of 21 are entitled to the same amount of funding from the same sources that they would have been entitled to had they stayed in school. Dislocated workers are funded by the federal government through the federal programs for that purpose and by state unemployment insurance funds. The chronically unemployed are funded by federal and state funds established for that purpose. Employed people can access the system through the requirement that their employers spend an amount equal to 1-1/2 percent of their salary and wage bill on training leading to national skill certification. People in prison could get reductions in their sentences by meeting the general education standard in a program provided by the prison system. Any of these groups can also use the funds in their individual training account, if they have any, the balances in their grant entitlement or their access to the student loan fund.

 

Labor Market Systems

  • The Employment Service is greatly upgraded and separated from the Unemployment Insurance Fund. All available front-line jobs — whether public or private — must be listed in it by law. (This provision must be carefully designed to make sure that employers will not be subject to employment suits based on the data produced by this system — if they are subject to such suits, they will not participate.) All trainees in the system looking for work are entitled to be listed in it without a fee. So it is no longer a system just for the poor and unskilled, but for everyone. The system is fully computerized. It lists not only job openings and job seekers (with their qualifications) but also all the institutions in the labor market area offering programs leading to the general education certificate and those offering programs leading to the professional and technical college degrees and certificates, along with all the relevant data about the costs, characteristics and performance of those programs — for everyone and for special populations. Counselors are available to any citizen to help them assess their needs, plan a program and finance it, and, once they are trained, to find an opening.
  • A system of labor market boards is established at the local, state and federal levels to coordinate the systems for job training, postsecondary professional and technical education, adult basic education, job matching and counseling. The rebuilt Employment Service is supervised by these boards. The system’s clients no longer have to go from agency to agency filling out separate applications for separate programs. It is all taken care of at the local labor market board office by one counselor accessing the integrated computer-based program, which makes it possible for the counselor to determine eligibility for all relevant programs at once, plan a program with the client and assemble the necessary funding from all the available sources. The same system will enable counselor and client to array all the relevant program providers side by side, assess their relative costs and performance records and determine which providers are best able to meet the client’s needs based on performance.

 

Some Common Features

  • Throughout, the object is to have a performance- and client-oriented system, to encourage local creativity and responsibility by getting local people to commit to high goals and organize to achieve them, sweeping away as much of the rules, regulations and bureaucracy that are in their way as possible, provided that they are making real progress against their goals. For this to work, the standards at every level of the system have to be clear; every client has to know what they have to accomplish in order to get what they want out of the system. The service providers have to be supported in the task of getting their clients to the finish line and rewarded when they are making real progress toward that goal. We would sweep away means-tested programs, because they stigmatize their recipients and alienate the public, replacing them with programs that are for everyone, but also work for the disadvantaged. We would replace rules defining inputs with rules defining outcomes and the rewards for achieving them. This means, among other things, permitting local people to combine as many federal programs as they see fit, provided that the intended beneficiaries are progressing toward the right outcomes (there are now 23 separate federal programs for dislocated workers!). We would make individuals, their families and whole communities the unit of service, not agencies, programs and projects. Wherever possible, we would have service providers compete with one another for funds that come with the client, in an environment in which the client has good information about the cost and performance record of the competing providers. Dealing with public agencies — whether they are schools or the employment service — should be more like dealing with Federal Express than with the old Post Office.

This vision, as I pointed out above, is consistent with everything Bill proposed as a candidate. But it goes beyond those proposals, extending them from ideas for new programs to a comprehensive vision of how they can be used as building blocks for a whole new system. But this vision is very complex, will take a long time to sell, and will have to be revised many times along the way. The right way to think about it is as an internal working document that forms the background for a plan, not the plan itself. One would want to make sure that the specific actions of the new administration were designed, in a general way, to advance this agenda as it evolved, while not committing anyone to the details, which would change over time.

Everything that follows is cast in the frame of strategies for bringing the new system into being, not as a pilot program, not as a few demonstrations to be swept aside in another administration, but everywhere, as the new way of doing business.

In the sections that follow, we break these goals down into their main components and propose an action plan for each.

 

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Major Components of the Program

The preceding section presented a vision of the system we have in mind chronologically from the point of view of an individual served by it. Here we reverse the order, starting with descriptions of program components designed to serve adults, and working our way down to the very young.

HIGH SKILLS FOR ECONOMIC COMPETITIVENESS PROGRAM

Developing System Standards

  • Create National Board for Professional and Technical Standards. Board is private not-for-profit chartered by Congress. Charter specifies broad membership composed of leading figures from higher education, business, labor, government and advocacy groups. Board can receive appropriated funds from Congress, private foundations, individuals, and corporations. Neither Congress nor the executive branch can dictate the standards set by the Board. But the Board is required to report annually to the President and the Congress in order to provide for public accountability. It is also directed to work collaboratively with the states and cities involved in the Collaborative Design and Development Program (see below) in the development of the standards.
  • Charter specifies that the National Board will set broad performance standards (not time-in-the-seat standards or course standards) for college-level Professional and Technical certificates and degrees in not more than 20 areas and develops performance examinations for each. The Board is required to set broad standards of the kind described in the vision statement above and is not permitted to simply reify the narrow standards that characterize many occupations now. (More than 2,000 standards currently exist, many for licensed occupations — these are not the kinds of standards we have in mind.) It also specifies that the programs leading to these certificates and degrees will combine time in the classroom with time at the work-site in structured on-the-job training. The standards assume the existence of (high school level) general education standards set by others. The new standards and exams are meant to be supplemented by the states and by individual industries and occupations. Board is responsible for administering the exam system and continually updating the standards and exams.

Legislation creating the Board is sent to the Congress in the first six months of the administration, imposing a deadline for creating the standards and the exams within three years of passage of the legislation.

Commentary:

The proposal reframes the Clinton apprenticeship proposal as a college program and establishes a mechanism for setting the standards for the program. The unions are adamantly opposed to broad based apprenticeship programs by that name. Focus groups conducted by JFF and others show that parents everywhere want their kids to go to college, not to be shunted aside into a non-college apprenticeship “vocational” program. By requiring these programs to be a combination of classroom instruction and structured OJT, and creating a standard-setting board that includes employers and labor, all the objectives of the apprenticeship idea are achieved, while at the same time assuring much broader support for the idea, as well as a guarantee that the program will not become too narrowly focussed on particular occupations. It also ties the Clinton apprenticeship idea to the Clinton college funding proposal in a seamless web. Charging the Board with creating not more than 20 certificate or degree categories establishes a balance between the need to create one national system on the one hand with the need to avoid creating a cumbersome and rigid national bureaucracy on the other. This approach provides lots of latitude for individual industry groups, professional groups and state authorities to establish their own standards, while at the same time avoiding the chaos that would surely occur if they were the only source of standards. The bill establishing the Board should also authorize the executive branch to make grants to industry groups, professional societies, occupational groups and states to develop standards and exams. Our assumption is that the system we are proposing will be managed so as to encourage the states to combine the last two years of high school and the first two years of community college into three year programs leading to college degrees and certificates. Proprietary institutions, employers and community-based organizations could also offer these programs, but they would have to be accredited to offer these college-level programs. Eventually, students getting their general education certificates might go directly to community college or to another form of college, but the new system should not require that.

Collaborative Design and Development Program

The object is to create a single comprehensive system for professional and technical education that meets the requirements of everyone from high school students to skilled dislocated workers, from the hard core unemployed to employed adults who want to improve their prospects. Creating such a system means sweeping aside countless programs, building new ones, combining funding authorities, changing deeply embedded institutional structures, and so on. The question is how to get from where we are to where we want to be. Trying to ram it down everyone’s throat would engender overwhelming opposition. Our idea is to draft legislation that would offer an opportunity for those states — and selected large cities — that are excited about this set of ideas to come forward and join with each other and with the federal government in an alliance to do the necessary design work and actually deliver the needed services on a fast track. The legislation would require the executive branch to establish a competitive grant program for these states and cities and to engage a group of organizations to offer technical assistance to the expanding set of states and cities engaged in designing and implementing the new system. This is not the usual large scale experiment, nor is it a demonstration program. A highly regarded precedent exists for this approach in the National Science Foundation’s SSI program. As soon as the first set of states is engaged, another set would be invited to participate, until most or all the states are involved. It is a collaborative design, rollout and scale-up program. It is intended to parallel the work of the National Board for College Professional and Technical Standards, so that the states and cities (and all their partners) would be able to implement the new standards as soon as they become available, although they would be delivering services on a large scale before that happened. Thus, major parts of the whole system would be in operation in a majority of the states within three years from the passage of the initial legislation. Inclusion of selected large cities in this design is not an afterthought. We believe that what we are proposing here for the cities is the necessary complement to a large scale job-creation program for the cities. Skill development will not work if there are no jobs, but job development will not work without a determined effort to improve the skills of city residents. This is the skill development component.

  • Participants
  • volunteer states, counterpart initiative for cities.
  • 15 states, 15 cities selected to begin in first year. 15 more in each successive year.
  • 5 year grants (on the order of $20 million per year to each state, lower amounts to the cities) given to each, with specific goals to be achieved by the third year, including program elements in place (e.g., upgraded employment service), number of people enrolled in new professional and technical programs and so on.
  • a core set of High Performance Work Organization firms willing to participate in standard setting and to offer training slots and mentors.
  • · Criteria for Selection
  • strategies for enriching existing co-op, tech prep and other programs to meet the criteria.
  • commitment to implementing new general education standard in legislation.
  • commitment to implementing the new Technical and Professional skills standards for college.
  • commitment to developing an outcome- and performance-based system for human resources development system.
  • commitment to new role for employment service.
  • · commitment to join with others in national design and implementation activity.
  • · Clients
  • young adults entering workforce.
  • dislocated workers.
  • long-term unemployed.
  • employed who want to upgrade skills.
  • · Program Components
  • institute own version of state and local labor market boards. Local labor market boards to involve leading employers, labor representatives, educators and advocacy group leaders in running the redesigned employment service, running intake system for all clients, counseling all clients, maintaining the information system that will make the vendor market efficient and organizing employers to provide job experience and training slots for school youth and adult trainees.
  • rebuild employment service as a primary function of labor market boards.
  • develop programs to bring dropouts and illiterates up to general education certificate standard. Organize local alternative providers, firms to provide alternative education, counseling, job experience and placement services to these clients.
  • develop programs for dislocated workers and hard-core unemployed (see below).
  • develop city- and state-wide programs to combine the last two years of high school and the first two years of colleges into three-year programs after acquisition of the general education certificate to culminate in college certificates and degrees. These programs should combine academics and structured on-the-job training.
  • develop uniform reporting system for providers, requiring them to provide information in that format on characteristics of clients, their success rates by program, and the costs of those programs. Develop computer-based system for combining this data at local labor market board offices with employment data from the state so that counselors and clients can look at programs offered by colleges and other vendors in terms of cost, client characteristics, program design, and outcomes. Including subsequent employment histories for graduates.
  • design all programs around the forthcoming general education standards and the standards to be developed by the National Board for College Professional and Technical Standards.
  • create statewide program of technical assistance to firms on high performance work organization and help them develop quality programs for participants in Technical and Professional certificate and degree programs. (It is essential that these programs be high quality, nonbureaucratic and voluntary for the firms.)
  • participate with other states and the national technical assistance program in the national alliance effort to exchange information and assistance among all participants. [Page: E1823]
  • · National technical assistance to participants
  • executive branch authorized to compete opportunity to provide the following services (probably using a Request For Qualifications):
  • state-of-the art assistance to the states and cities related to the principal program components (e.g., work reorganization, training, basic literacy, funding systems, apprenticeship systems, large scale data management systems, training systems for the HR professionals who make the whole system work, etc.). A number of organizations would be funded. Each would be expected to provide information and direct assistance to the states and cities involved, and to coordinate their efforts with one another.
  • it is essential that the technical assistance function include a major professional development component to make sure the key people in the states and cities upon whom success depends have the resources available to develop the high skills required. Some of the funds for this function should be provided directly to the states and cities, some to the technical assistance agency.
  • coordination of the design and implementation activities of the whole consortium, document results, prepare reports, etc. One organization would be funded to perform this function.
  • Dislocated Workers Program
  • new legislation would permit combining all dislocated workers programs at redesigned employment service office. Clients would, in effect, receive vouchers for education and training in amounts determined by the benefits for which they qualify. Employment service case managers would qualify client worker for benefits and assist the client in the selection of education and training programs offered by provider institutions. Any provider institutions that receive funds derived from dislocated worker programs are required to provide information on costs and performance of programs in uniform format described above. This consolidated and voucherized dislocated workers program would operate nationwide. It would be integrated with Collaborative Design and Development Program in those states and cities in which that program functioned. It would be built around the general education certificate and the Professional and Technical Certificate and Degree Program as soon as those standards were in place. In this way, programs for dislocated workers would be progressively and fully integrated with the rest of the national education and training system.
  • Levy-Grant System
  • this is the part of the system that provides funds for currently employed people to improve their skills. Ideally, it should specifically provide means whereby front-line workers can earn their general education credential (if they do not already have one) and acquire Professional and Technical Certificates and degrees in fields of their choosing.
  • everything we have heard indicates virtually universal opposition in the employer community to the proposal for a 1-1/2% levy on employers for training to support the costs associated with employed workers gaining these skills, whatever the levy is called. We propose that Bill take a leaf out of the German book. One of the most important reasons that large German employers offer apprenticeship slots to German youngsters is that they fear, with good reason, that if they don’t volunteer to do so, the law will require it. Bill could gather a group of leading executives and business organization leaders, and tell them straight out that he will hold back on submitting legislation to require a training levy, provided that they commit themselves to a drive to get employers to get their average expenditures on front-line employee training up to 2% of front-line employee salaries and wages within two years. If they have not done so within that time, then he will expect their support when he submits legislation requiring the training levy. He could do the same thing with respect to slots for structured on-the-job training.
  • College Loan/Public Service Program
  • we presume that this program is being designed by others and so have not attended to it. From everything we know about it, however, it is entirely compatible with the rest of what is proposed here. What is, of course, especially relevant here, is that our reconceptualization of the apprenticeship proposal as a college-level education program, combined with our proposal that everyone who gets the general education credential be entitled to a free year of higher education (combined federal and state funds) will have a decided impact on the calculations of cost for the college loan/public service program.
  • Assistance for Dropouts are the Long-Term Unemployed
  • the problem of upgrading the skills of high school dropouts and the adult hard core unemployed is especially difficult. It is also at the heart of the problem of our inner cities. All the evidence indicates that what is needed is something with all the important characteristics of a non-residential Job Corps-like program. The problem with the Job Corps is that it is operated directly by the federal government and is therefore not embedded at all in the infrastructure of local communities. The way to solve this problem is to create a new urban program that is locally — not federally — organized and administered, but which must operate in a way that uses something like the federal standards for contracting for Job Corps services. In this way, local employers, neighborhood organizations and other local service providers could meet the need, but requiring local authorities to use the federal standards would assure high quality results. Programs for high school dropouts and the hard-core unemployed would probably have to be separately organized, though the services provided would be much the same. Federal funds would be offered on a matching basis with state and local funds for this purpose. These programs should be fully integrated with the revitalized employment service. The local labor market board would be the local authority responsible for receiving the funds and contracting with providers for the services. It would provide diagnostic, placement and testing services. We would eliminate the targeted jobs credit and use the money now spent on that program to finance these operations. Funds can also be used from the JOBS program in the welfare reform act. This will not be sufficient, however, because there is currently no federal money available to meet the needs of hard-core unemployed males (mostly Black) and so new monies will have to be appropriated for the purpose.As you know very well, the High Skills, Competitive Workforce Act sponsored by Senators Kennedy and Hatfield and Congressmen Gephardt and Regula provides a ready-made vehicle for advancing many of the ideas we have outlined. To foster a good working relationship with the Congress, we suggest that, to the extent possible, the framework of these companion bills be used to frame the President’s proposals. You may not know that we have put together a large group of representatives of Washington-based organizations to come to a consensus around the ideas in America’s Choice. They are full of energy and very committed to this joint effort. If they are made part of the process of framing the legislative proposals, they can be expected to be strong support for them when they arrive on the Hill. As you think about the assembly of these ideas into specific legislative proposals, you may also want to take into account the packaging ideas that come later in this letter.ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION PROGRAM Standard Setting [Page: E1824]The conference report on S.2 and HR 4323 also contained a comprehensive program to support systemic change in public education. Here again, some of us would quibble with some of the particulars, but we believe that the administration’s objectives would be well served by endorsing the resubmission of this legislation, modified as it sees fit. The established federal education programs for the disadvantaged need to be thoroughly overhauled to reflect an emphasis on results for the students rather than compliance with the regulations. A national commission on Chapter 1, the largest of these programs, chaired by David Hornbeck, has designed a radically new version of this legislation, with the active participation of many of the advocacy groups. Other groups have been similarly engaged. We think the new administration should quickly endorse the work of the national commission and introduce its proposals early next year. It is unlikely that this legislation will pass before the deadline — two years away — for the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, but early endorsement of this new approach by the administration will send a strong signal to the Congress and will greatly affect the climate in which other parts of the act will be considered. The restructuring of the schools that is envisioned in S.2 and HR 4323 is not likely to succeed unless the schools have a lot of information about how to do it and real assistance in getting it done. The areas in which this help is needed are suggested by the heading of this section. One of the most cost-effective things the federal government could do is to provide support for research, development and technical assistance of the schools on these topics. The new Secretary of Education should be directed to propose a strategy for doing just that, on a scale sufficient to the need. Existing programs of research, development and assistance should be examined as possible sources of funds for these purposes. Professional development is a special case. To build the restructured system will require an enormous amount of professional development and the time in which professionals can take advantage of such a resource. Both cost a lot of money. One of the priorities for the new education secretary should be the development of strategies for dealing with these problems. But here, as elsewhere, there are some existing programs in the Department of Education whose funds can be redirected for this purpose, programs that are not currently informed by the goals that we have spelled out. Much of what we have in mind here can be accomplished through the reauthorization of the Office of Educational Research and Improvement. Legislation for that reauthorization was prepared for the last session of Congress, but did not pass. That legislation was informed by a deep distrust of the Republican administration, rather than the vision put forward by the Clinton campaign, but that can and should be remedied on the next round. The president-elect has committed himself to a great expansion in the funding of Head Start. We agree. But the design of the program should be changed to reflect several important requirements. The quality of professional preparation for the people who staff these programs is very low and there are no standards that apply to their employment. The same kind of standard setting we have called for in the rest of this plan should inform the approach to this program. Early childhood education should be combined with quality day care to provide wrap-around programs that enable working parents to drop off their children at the beginning of the workday and pick them up at the end. Full funding for the very poor should be combined with matching funds to extend the tuition paid by middle class parents to make sure that these programs are not officially segregated by income. The growth of the program should be phased in, rather than done all at once, so that quality problems can be addressed along the way, based on developing examples of best practice. These and other related issues need to be addressed, in our judgment, before the new administration commits itself on the specific form of increased support for Head Start. Here we remind you of what we said at the beginning of this letter about timing the legislative agenda. We propose that you assemble the ideas just described into four high priority packages that will enable you to move quickly on the campaign promises:
  • Putting the package together:
  • Early Childhood Education
  • Public Choice Technology, Integrated Health and Human Services, Curriculum Resources, High Performance Management, Professional Development and Research and Development
  • Federal Programs for the Disadvantaged
  • Systemic Chance in Public Education
  • Legislation to accelerate the process of national standard setting in education was contained in the conference report on S.2 and HR 4323 that was defeated on a recent cloture vote. Solid majorities were behind the legislation in both houses of Congress. While some of us would quarrel with a few of the details, we think the new administration should support the early reintroduction of this legislation with whatever changes it thinks fit. This legislation does not establish a national body to create a national examination system. We think that is the right choice for now.
  • The situation with respect to elementary and secondary education is very different from adult education and training. In the latter case, a new vision and a whole new structure is required. In the former, there is increasing acceptance of a new vision and structure among the public at large, within the relevant professional groups and in Congress. There is also a lot of existing activity on which to build. So we confine ourselves here to describing some of those activities that can be used to launch the Clinton education program.
  • Commentary:
  1. The first would use your proposal for an apprenticeship system as the keystone of the strategy for putting the whole new postsecondary training system in place. It would consist of the proposal for postsecondary standards, the Collaborative Design and Development proposal, the technical assistance proposal and the postsecondary education finance proposal.
  2. The second would combine the initiatives on dislocated workers, the rebuilt employment service and the new system of labor market boards as the Clinton administration’s employment security program, built on the best practices anywhere in the world. This is the backbone of a system for assuring adult workers in our society that they need never again watch with dismay as their jobs disappear and their chances of ever getting a good job again go with them.
  3. The third would concentrate on the overwhelming problems of our inner cities, combining most of the elements of the first and second packages into a special program to greatly raise the work-related skills of the people trapped in the core of our great cities.
  4. The fourth would enable you to take advantage of legislation on which Congress has already been working to advance the elementary and secondary reform agenda. It would combine the successor to HR 4323 and S.2 (incorporating the systemic reforms agenda and the board for student performance standards), with the proposal for revamping Chapter 1.

Organizing the Executive Branch for Human Resouces Development

The issue here is how to organize the federal government to make sure that the new system is actually built as a seamless web in the field, where it counts, and that program gets a fast start with a first-rate team behind it.

We propose, first, that the President appoint a National Council on Human Resources Development. It would consist of the relevant key White House officials, cabinet members and members of Congress. It would also include a small number of governors, educators, business executives, labor leaders and advocates for minorities and the poor. It would be established in such a way as to assure continuity of membership across administrations, so that the consensus it forges will outlast any one administration. It would be charged with recommending broad policy on a national system of human resources development to the President and the Congress, assessing the effectiveness and promise of current programs and proposing new ones. It would be staffed by senior officials on the Domestic Policy Council staff of the President.

Second, we propose that a new agency be created, the National Institute for Learning, Work and Service. Creation of this agency would signal instantly the new administration’s commitment to putting the continuing education and training of the `forgotten half’ on a par with the preparation of those who have historically been given the resources to go to ‘college,’ and to integrate the two systems, not with a view to dragging down the present system and those it serves, but rather to make good on the promise that everyone will have access to the kind of education that only a small minority have had access to up to now. To this agency would be assigned the functions now performed by the assistant secretary for employment and training, the assistant secretary for vocational education and the assistant secretary for higher education. The agency would be staffed by people specifically recruited from all over the country for the purpose. The staff would be small, high powered and able to move quickly to implement the policy initiatives of the new President in the field of human resources development.

The closest existing model to what we have in mind is the National Science Board and the National Science Foundation, with the Council in the place of the Board and the Institute in the place of the Foundation. But our council would be advisory, whereas the Board is governing. If you do not like the idea of a permanent Council, you might consider the idea of a temporary President’s Task Force, constituted much as the Council would be.

In this scheme, the Department of Education would be free to focus on putting the new student performance standards in place and managing the programs that will take the leadership in the national restructuring of the schools. Much of the financing and disbursement functions of the higher education program would move to the Treasury Department, leaving the higher education staff in the new Institute to focus on matters of substance.

In any case, as you can see, we believe that some extraordinary measure well short of actually merging the departments of labor and education is required to move the new agenda with dispatch.

Getting Consensus on the Vision

Radical changes in attitudes, values and beliefs are required to move any combination of these agendas. The federal government will have little direct leverage on many of the actors involved. For much of what must be done, a new, broad consensus will be required. What role can the new administration play in forging that consensus and how should it go about doing it?

At the narrowest level, the agenda cannot be moved unless there is agreement among the governors, the President and the Congress. Bill’s role at the Charlottesville summit leads naturally to a reconvening of that group, perhaps with the addition of key members of Congress and others.

But we think that having an early summit on the subject of the whole human resources agenda would be risky, for many reasons. Better to build on Bill’s enormous success during the campaign with national talk shows, in school gymnasiums and the bus trips. He could start on the consensus-building progress this way, taking his message directly to the public, while submitting his legislative agenda and working it on the Hill. After six months or so, when the public has warmed to the ideas and the legislative packages are about to get into hearings, then you might consider some form of summit, broadened to include not only the governors, but also key members of Congress and others whose support and influence are important. This way, Bill can be sure that the agenda is his, and he can go into it with a groundswell of support behind him.

 

  •     •     •

That’s it. None of us doubt that you have thought long and hard about many of these things and have probably gone way beyond what we have laid out in many areas. But we hope that there is something here that you can use. We would, of course, be very happy to flesh out these ideas at greater length and work with anyone you choose to make them fit the work that you have been doing.

Very best wishes from all of us to you and Bill.

[signed: Marc]

Marc Tucker

END

 

Editor’s note: While this letter exists on many websites as well as the Congressional Record, I want to thank this website for getting it out there so easily:

Sorry If I Made You Storm Out Of The Assessment Inventory Committee Meeting!

The Delaware Senate Joint Resolution #2 Assessment Inventory Committee, otherwise known as the Achieve Inc. payday, had their fourth meeting tonight.  Most of the discussion was around the district inventories and the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  Don’t get too excited Delaware!  The discussion about Smarter Balanced was by some members of the committee wondering why the Smarter Balanced wasn’t a major part of the discussion and the DOE trying desperately to work around it and misinterpreting the actual legislation that created the committee.  Once again, Senator David Sokola, who wrote the bill, didn’t show up.  I think he has been at one or two of the four meetings.  He hasn’t been to most of the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission meetings either, of which he is a member.  But his Legislative Aide did sit in his place, unlike State Rep. Earl Jaques who also championed this legislation last spring as an anti-opt-out bill and didn’t show up nor did he have someone come in his place, but I digress.  I do reserve the right to re-digress later though.

Delaware Secretary of Education Dr. Steven Godowsky was there for about the first third of the meeting.  State Rep. Sean Matthews asked if any state in the country has received a cut in federal funding due to participation rate.  The answer was no.  He then asked if any school or district in Delaware has.  Michael Watson from the DOE explained there have been Title I reallocations but didn’t specify why (and it wasn’t because of opt-out and we all know it).  Colonial Superintendent Dusty Blakey gave a presentation on Colonial’s assessment inventory process.  Many wondered right away why Smarter Balanced wasn’t included in their inventory even though most of the other districts and charters who participated did include it.  No clear answer was given except further clarification of the legal interpretation of SJR #2.  At some point, questions came up about the expectation of the district and the information supplied to them from the Delaware DOE for the process (of which schools and districts did receive grant money).  I yelled out “Achieve Inc. created it,” to which I was told public comment was at the end of the meeting.  😉  I can see the two DOE representatives were not happy with my comment and one of them was visibly pissed off.  State Rep. Matthews asked what the purpose of the Smarter Balanced is and why we need it.  He explained parents are more upset about their children not being able to go to the library to do research since their computer labs are tied up between March and June.  Even State Rep. Tim Dukes, a fervent supporter of standardized testing in the past, was questioning what this is all about.  He explained how he has been talking to teachers and, in my opinion, he may be walking towards the light in regards to how bad high-stakes testing really is.

Discussion continued around the federal role in Delaware education.  State Rep. Matthews asked why the DOE doesn’t push harder against federal mandate.  DSEA member Kirstin Dwyer, also on the committee, explained that when teachers pushed very hard for another year off from Smarter Balanced scores tying into their evaluations, they were told prior to this that the feds would never grant it, but they did.  A discussion came up about states that do not have to take assessments and were granted waivers.  The DOE explained there are seven states involved in something called the Innovation Network, which rang a bell in my head.  State Rep. Matthews asked why Delaware can’t try to join this group.  A vote was taken to get more information about these kinds of programs before they make their final recommendations.  It passed the committee.  Talk continued about the federal role, and Susan Haberstroh from the DOE said something to the effect of “Maybe the feds will let us do that”.  At this point, the Teacher Leader Effectiveness Unit leader Christopher Ruszkowski, who was sitting in the back, said “No they won’t.”  I said “Yes they will.”  We both repeated ourselves.  But the sad truth is Delaware doesn’t want to have anything to do with the Council of Chief State School Officers Innovation Lab Network.  Just ask the many teachers and citizens who are seeing this guinea pig experiment taking place in states like Maine, Colorado and New Hampshire.  I actually touch on one of the key parts coming out of these “Innovation Labs” later on in this article.  You will know it when you see it!  Scary stuff!

Teachers gave public comment about, you know, how bad SBAC is and how the test doesn’t give any useful information.  Red Clay Education Association President Mike Matthews complimented the Christina School District for giving a recommendation to dump the Smarter Balanced in their assessment inventory (Capital didn’t give it a ringing endorsement either).  He lamented Red Clay didn’t do the same.  But he did advise the committee his executive membership unanimously voted on a resolution to have Red Clay change their recommendation about SBAC and he questioned the transparency around Red Clay’s inventory process.

And then came my public comment.  To give some background, the meeting was already running late, and public comment was limited to two minutes.  One public commenter already went over their time (and continued), which didn’t bother me at all.  I knew exactly what I was going to say cause I wrote it out.

In 1992, the CEO of the National Center on Education and the Economy wrote an 18 page letter to Hillary Clinton. Bill was just elected, and the CEO, named Marc Tucker, took it upon himself to write Hillary his ideas for the future of America.  Tucker wanted America to become like Germany and Switzerland, where students are “apprentice-trained”.  This begins at a very early age.  As part of Tucker’s plan, public education must become standardized.  As well, career paths are chosen through the tests implemented through these higher standards.  This is all part of a much larger plan to merge the US Departments of Education, Labor, and the Immigration division of Homeland Security.  By crafting this agenda, children will be tracked and catalogued through massive data systems, tied to state longitudinal data systems.  These “pathways to prosperity”, or career tracks for children, are contingent upon data.  Data that is provided by every single state to a joint system shared by the US Department of Defense and the US DOE. 

In 1996, a company called Achieve Inc. was created by our nation’s governors, corporate leaders, and Tucker’s group. Achieve eventually created the Common Core standards, but gave the illusion it was created by stakeholders.  Yes, the very same company that assisted with the assessment inventory in Delaware and gave the matrix for districts to follow.  The same company that created the standards is now telling districts how they should utilize their own assessments.

Bill Gates, through his foundation, began funding this over 15 years ago. Delaware allowed this into our state with the Race To The Top grant.  Yes, Senator Sokola and Attorney General Matt Denn wrote Senate Bill 79 last year which passed the General Assembly and was signed by the Governor.  This bill, supposedly meant to protect student data, was heavily lobbied by companies such as Google, Microsoft, and Amazon.  There is a gigantic loophole in this.  Eventually, Smarter Balanced will be broken down into chunks through personalized learning.  Using a competency-based education model, students will advance based on how they do on these mini-standardized tests.  This data will flow freely to the feds which will in turn be shared with employers, non-profits (especially those who really push personalized learning), and corporate interests.  What Sokola and Denn allowed into the final bill appears, on the surface, to protect student data.  But whether it was intentional or not, the algorithms for personalized learning and state assessments are allowed to be shared.  We already see 7-8 Delaware districts using the BRInC Consortium’s “Blended Learning” models.  Every single time a student logs in or enters a keystroke, the data recording begins by the companies tracking all of this data.  All of the Smarter Balanced Assessment, through the algorithms created by American Institutes for Research, fall into this category as well.  Our Governor is one of the very early pioneers of this agenda in Delaware, along with the Rodel Foundation. 

So really, who are we kidding with this nonsense?  This IS about students: cataloguing them, tracking them, and allowing the government to decide what they should be based on data.  But for students with disabilities, they will remain on the bottom of all things concerned with education.  Something Delaware fully allows by not granting these students funding in Kindergarten to 3rd grade unless they are so impaired the state doesn’t have a choice.  Meanwhile, Governor Markell is getting ready to go down to D.C. to hobnob with yet another education foundation instead of taking care of his own state.  

As I mentioned earlier, Senator Sokola did not attend the meeting but his Legislative Aide did.  I’ve met him a few times and he is a nice guy.  During my public comment, at the second mention of “Sokola”, he picked up his things, had a VERY angry face, and stormed out of the meeting.  I certainly hope it wasn’t anything I said, but he looked very troubled.  I have talked to Matt Denn about this bill, along with the representative from his office who wrote the legislation, and I don’t know if they are even aware of the “algorithm loophole” that is causing student data to go out like a burst dam.  But, and I am only guessing here, it bothered Sokola’s legal aide.  I could be wrong and something else was going on that I was not privy to.   As well, when I got my two minute flag, I did keep going.  I was almost done!  As I got into the part about students with disabilities somebody said “Kevin…” like I was saying something bad.  Or perhaps it was my angry tone.  But I already had to speed through my public comment due to a ridiculous two minute time limit.  I’m not a big fan of being cut off over parliamentary rules and procedures (which is why you don’t see me on these committees, task forces, or public office).  Or maybe some people didn’t like what I was saying and it cut a little to close to the bone for them.  Either way, I got it out.  And I have a ton more to say about all that.

Delaware PTA President Dr. Terri Hodges gave public comment about the Smarter Balanced Assessment that echoed many of the opponents of the test throughout the evening.  (As an aside, the DOE actually gave out the National PTA’s position statement against parent opt-out to members of the committee and the public).  Finally, State Rep. Kim Williams, https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2016/02/25/state-rep-kim-williams-slams-state-board-exec-director-donna-johnson-at-weic-meeting-tonight/ again questioned where the parent representative of the assessment inventory committee was.  She informed them this parent rep came to the first meeting and not the other three.  She was not happy the DOE hasn’t responded to her about this issue and that parents are once again being shut out of the process.  With that the meeting adjourned.  And I am left with the same conclusion I have always had about the Achieve Inc. Party Assessment Inventory Committee: it will get rid of the good diagnostic district tests that give immediate feedback and allow teachers to help students in lieu of more interim Smarter Balanced Assessments (which will eventually be broken down into mini-tests at the end of units).  More data.  More tracking.  More pre-determined “pathways” for every single student in Delaware.  Unless you opt out now.  Out of Smarter Balanced AND Personalized Learning.  Unless you are okay with your child’s social-emotional, academic, behavioral, and personal data going out to Education Inc.  In that case, keep on opting in!

Federal Role In Opt-Out Will Be The Same, John King Ignores The Intent Of ESSA

The United States Department of Education will continue to exert authority in regards to parents opting their child out of state assessments through regulations.

Congressman Jared Polis from Colorado asked Acting Secretary of Education John King, during the “Next Steps for K-12 Education: Upholding the Letter and Intent of the Every Student Succeeds Act” hearing, about opt-out and participation rates.

By stating “we all know states have a historically checkered record of making sure all vulnerable sub-groups are served,”  Polis referenced Oklahoma’s State Superintendent as saying “While a state is  welcome to pass bad laws as relating to opt-outs, we have Section 4-C-E of ESSA that says states must assess 95% of students.  That means all means all.”

Polis quoted US DOE as responding “While it is up to states to determine the consequences of failing to assess students, the Department will provide oversight and enforcement to ensure that states are assessing all students, regardless of what the states laws are and how opt-outs occur.”  He then asked John King what steps he plans to take to make sure “all means all” with participation rates.

King responded: “I take that responsibility quite seriously to ensure that all means all.  This implementation of the law advances equity in excellence.  I think we have an opportunity in the regulations and guidance that we help to provide guardrails that will ensure that states use their new flexibility around accountability and interventions to advance equity.  For example, as we begin the negotiated rule-making process around assessments, the kind of questions we’ve been getting have been questions around the participation of students with disabilities, the participation of English learners, the implementation of computer adaptive assessment, in a way that protects equity.  And so as we move forward, that negotiated rule-making, a central question will be how do we ensure that regulations we do on assessment protect civil rights of students.  And we’ll take a similar approach to the work on the on our negotiated rule-making for supplemented non-supplant and we continue to review, comment, and feedback from stakeholders to define other areas where we need to move forward with regs and guidance.”

Polis went on…. “And while the consequences of meeting the requirements are left up to state law, do you feel that you have sufficient leverage to ensure that those consequences are meaningful and not meaningless?”

King replied: “We do, and I will say it will require vigilance from the part of the Department, especially as states implement their first round of interventions and identify whether or not those interventions are helping to achieve progress, particularly for at-risk sub-groups.  We’re gonna have to be vigilant to ensure that states continue to move forward to shift strategy, if a strategy is not working for the highest-need students.”

Define vigilance John King!  This violates parental rights at a massive scale.  Opt-out is an individual parent choice for their child, not a school’s responsibility to make sure it does or does not happen.  It is our right that we choose to exercise.  This law gives parents, teachers, and schools absolutely no protection from the iron fist of the federal government.  We are back to square one…

John King Confirmation Quandary

deutsch29: Mercedes Schneider's Blog

john king  John King

On February 11, 2016, President Obama announced his intention to formally nominate acting US secretary of education, John King, for the official position of US secretary of education. In October 2015, when Obama announced that King would replace Arne Duncan, Obama indicated that he would not formally nominate King because Obama did not want to wrangle with trying to convince a newly Republican-majority Senate to confirm his choice.

However, in February 2016, it seems that the Republican-majority Senate is eager to confirm King as the next Us secretary of education. On February 22, 2016, Senator Lamar Alexander– one of the chief architects of the newly-reauthorized Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), called the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)– seems especially eager to formally confirm a US secretary of education– even if it is King:

While Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander is one of the Republicans trying…

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US Rep. John Kline’s Statement On ESSA Hearings From Today

The Every Student Succeeds Act got it’s own hearing today in Washington D.C.  Congressman and Chairman of the Education & the Workforce Committee John Kline oversaw the hearing.  Acting Secretary John King answered questions about the legislation signed by President Obama in December.  King will also face a US Senate confirmation hearing later this afternoon.  Odds are pretty good the Senate will confirm King as the official US Secretary of Education.  And many of us know why…

Kline Statement: Hearing on “Next Steps for K-12 Education: Upholding the Letter and Intent of the Every Student Succeeds Act”

 
 

Replacing No Child Left Behind was a significant achievement that was desperately needed and long overdue. The law represented the largest expansion of federal control over K-12 schools, and it was based on the flawed premise that Washington knows best what students need in the classroom. The federal government imposed rigid rules and punitive actions on states and schools in areas vital to a child’s education, like which teachers to hire and fire, how to gauge school performance, and how to fix underperforming schools.It didn’t take long before state and local leaders were raising concerns that this top-down approach wouldn’t work. Their concerns were affirmed year after year as we experienced little – if any – improvement in graduation rates, proficiency in reading and math, and the achievement gap separating poor and minority students from their peers. Frustration among parents and teachers went up, while student achievement remained flat. Despite the good intentions behind the law, millions of children were left behind.

To make matters worse, the administration spent years pushing a convoluted waiver scheme, which doubled-down on the false hope that Washington could fix the problems in our schools. States and schools were subjected to even more federal requirements in areas like standards and teacher evaluations. They were forced to choose between onerous requirements prescribed in federal law and onerous requirements prescribed by the secretary of education.

If we learned anything throughout process to replace No Child Left Behind, it’s that the American people are tired of Washington micromanaging their classrooms. They are desperate for a different approach to K-12 education, one that will significantly reduce the federal role and restore state and local control. That is precisely the approach taken by the Every Student Succeeds Act.

Under the new law, authority over accountability, teacher quality, and school improvement is restored to state and local leaders. The law also brings new transparency and accountability to the department’s rulemaking process, ends the era of federally-mandated high-stakes testing, repeals dozens of ineffective programs, and sets the department on the path to becoming smaller, not bigger. Furthermore, due to the administration’s actions in recent years and the public outcry that ensued, the Every Student Succeeds Act includes unprecedented restrictions on the authority of the secretary of education, ending the days when one individual imposed his or her own agenda on our classrooms.   

The Wall Street Journal described the new law as the “largest devolution of federal control to the states in a quarter-century.” A letter written by a coalition of organizations representing governors, state lawmakers, teachers, parents, principals, and superintendents says, “[The Every Student Succeeds Act] is clear: Education decision-making now rests with states and districts, and the federal role is to support and inform those decisions.” They also urge the Department of Education to “honor congressional intent,” which brings us to the heart of today’s hearing.

Despite our success replacing No Child Left Behind, the real work to improve K-12 education is just beginning. The focus now shifts to leaders in state capitals and local communities who will use the tools and authority in the new law to build a better education for their children. And if they are going to succeed, they will need a Department of Education that behaves like a partner – not dictator.

I’ve described countless times the shortfalls of No Child Left Behind. While it may seem unnecessary at a hearing on the future of K-12 education, we need to remember where we have been as we look to where we want to go. Congress did not want to repeat the mistakes of the past, and we certainly did not want a Department of Education that would continue to substitute its will for the will of Congress and the American people. Quite the opposite, we wanted new policies that would empower parents, teachers, and state and local education leaders. Congress promised to reduce the federal role and restore local control, and we intend to keep our promise.

That’s why we are here today. We want to learn what actions the department intends to take to implement the law and to help ensure the department acts in a manner that strictly adheres to the letter and intent of the law. Dr. King, this committee stands ready to assist you in that effort. The reforms you are now implementing were the result of bipartisan consensus, and we will remain actively engaged as the department moves forward. There is a lot of work to do, especially in every state and school district across the country. The department must get this right so every child can receive the excellent education they deserve. 

This is EXACTLY what Wall Street, hedge fund managers, members of the National Governor’s Association, the Council of Chief State School Officers, and many legislators want.  The devil, of course, is in the details…

You can watch the video of the hearing as well:

 

State Rep. Kim Williams Slams State Board Exec. Director Donna Johnson At WEIC Meeting Tonight

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The Wilmington Education Improvement Commission had two meetings tonight.  At 5pm, they had their Redistricting Committee meeting and at 6:30 they had a regular commission meeting.  During the public comment part of the redistricting meeting, State Rep. Kim Williams advised the audience State Board of Education Executive Director Donna Johnson was telling State Board members how to vote on the WEIC plan at last week’s controversial State Board of Education meeting.  This was overheard by a few people in the audience at the State Board of Education meeting.  The best part… Donna Johnson was sitting in the row behind her.  As reported to me by several people, Johnson immediately began shaking her head no.  She did not look happy at all by the time I got there.

I was not there for that stunning announcement, but I did arrive late to the commission meeting.  As Milli Vanilli would say, blame it on the rain.  But the meeting was in full swing by the time I got there.  Commission member Yvonne Johnson introduced a motion to send the WEIC plan back to the State Board without their amendments concerning “shall” and “may” and the Christina priority school plans.  The motion passed, after a lot of heated discussion on both sides of the argument, with 15 yes, 6 no, and 2 absent.

Prior to that, State Board President Dr. Teri Quinn Gray and Secretary of Education Dr. Steven Godowsky were there to answer questions.  The best moment of the evening, which drew a huge round of applause, was when Christina Board President Harrie Ellen Minnehan informed Dr. Gray about how former Secretary of Education Mark Murphy never signed their memorandum of understanding developed with their board, the DOE, and representatives from Governor Markell’s office.  Dr. Gray actually said she wasn’t aware of that even though she was told this at the December State Board meeting.  She told Minnehan she misread the addendum to the WEIC plan, even though it was very clearly spelled out.  I have to wonder if these State Board members read anything or if Donna Johnson is calling the shots 100% of the time.  Minnehan told Dr. Gray she wanted an apology from the State Board for their misleading labeling of the Christina School District.  Many members of the commission and nearly all of the audience clapped at this.  Of course, Dr. Gray did not apologize.  I guess they need a board vote to determine if they “may” or “shall” do that.

Commission member Chandra Pitts asked Gray if she understood the intent of Senate Bill 122, which was that the WEIC plan either got a yes or a no vote from the State Board.  Gray responded by saying she did understand the legislation.  Pitts asked Secretary Godowsky what his plans are for Wilmington students after he openly said he wanted to make sure the Christina priority schools clause was put into the State Board’s consideration for the WEIC plan.

Gray said the State Board will advocate for Wilmington students just as much as they do for all of Delaware’s students.  This didn’t soothe any of the emotions in the crowd.  As I wrote on Facebook tonight, their idea of advocacy is ruling as tyrants in the Cabinet Room at the DOE Building once a month.  They are the most disconnected education group in the state, yet they have this power to make or break education.  All I see is a lot of breaking at the expense of Delaware’s students.  When the majority of the voices out there are telling you “this is wrong” or “don’t do this”, the State Board usually takes it upon themselves to ignore those voices and essentially do whatever Governor Markell tells Donna Johnson who then tells them what to do.  One member of the commission asked why the State Board brought up this whole “shall” and “may” stuff in Mid-February when they had the plan since December.  No response…

The districts were united in their response to the State Board’s change of the “shall” and “may” with no way!  They will have no part of an unfunded mandate that could eventually leave the citizens in their districts on the hook to pay for all of this.  Colonial Board Member Joseph Laws told Gray he thought it was ridiculous that the State Board would change those words based on the possibility of “tying the hands of the future State Board”.  He said the General Assembly and school board members pass laws, resolutions, and policies all the time.  Basically, and these are my words, it was lame of the State Board to change a whole plan based on future boards.

During the deliberation of the motion to send the original plan back to the State Board, WEIC member Rev. Meredith Griffiths told the group it should be about the students.  He felt if they send the plan back to the State Board where they will vote no on it again, it won’t help the students because the adults self-posture.  I see it as defending their local turf.  Had they done this during the Race To The Top days, things could be very different now.  Perhaps they have learned their lesson and we are seeing this now with the WEIC vs. State Board fight.

Bottom line: you can’t trust the State Board.  They are not publicly elected officials.  They are appointed by the Governor.  Granted, not all of the State Board members were appointed by Markell, but they have let him run the show since he became Governor.  And by using his puppet Donna Johnson to give the marching orders to the State Board, we get events like tonight.

Gray was not in her turf, so she couldn’t do her grand posturing and her bouts of Christina Derangement Syndrome the way she does in State Board meetings.  But make no mistake, beneath her calm demeanor, her arrogance could still be seen by all.  For the most part, Godowsky sat there stone-faced without much comment at all.  Our State Board of Education needs some major changes.  The trust in them is gone.  And I am still not convinced Godowsky’s changes in the DOE are enough to restore any semblance of faith in them as well.  At the end of the day, it is still Governor Markell’s commands being followed.  He may tweak those plans here and there in a vain attempt to restore public faith in his failed agendas, but the results are still the same.

If someone could please answer how the hell Donna Johnson still has her job I would greatly appreciate it.  How does someone advance from being on the Common Core math implementation team to the Executive Director of the State Board of Education in just a couple years?  It is my opinion, shared by many, that Donna Johnson abuses her power time and time again and no one at a state level who has the power to do anything about it does.  Like I said, we need drastic change in Dover.  The State Board’s incompetence at either passing or denying a redistricting plan is clear evidence of this, but this is just the culmination of years of their Markell-driven need for control.

 

Assessment Inventory Committee Meeting Tomorrow Night At DOE In Dover

The Assessment Inventory Committee will hold a meeting tomorrow night at the Delaware Department of Education office at the Townsend Building in Dover at 4:30pm.  The meeting will take place in the Library Conference Room.  The agenda, as shown below, will go over the DOE’s role in summative assessments.  The agenda does not show public comment, but it is a public meeting and public comment was allowed at other meetings so I’m sure this is just an error.  Please try to attend and give public comment!  Governor Markell’s former Education Policy Advisor assured members of the public the Smarter Balanced Assessment would be a part of the conversation around assessments last June.  I have yet to see anything serious from the SJR #2 Assessment Inventory Committee addressing this absolute waste of a test.

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Red Clay’s Merv Daugherty Stands Firm On Funding For WEIC

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Red Clay Consolidated School District Superintendent Merv Daugherty released a statement this morning about the State Board of Education’s very odd vote on the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission’s redistricting plan last Thursday.  I talked with Merv yesterday at the Pathways To Prosperity conference and he told me the exact same thing!

I want to take this opportunity to reiterate and explain Red Clay School District’s position on the State Board of Education’s conditional rejection of the WEIC plan. From the beginning of this process, we have been clear that a guarantee of the plan would be supported with adequate and sufficient funding has been a critical non-negotiable item for our District. This is no mere parochial concern- we believe that it is crucial for the success of this endeavor. The plan submitted to the State Board of Education reflected the collaborative efforts of many stakeholders. Regrettably, the State Board of Education, rather than approving the plan as submitted, has attached two new conditions to it. One of these, the replacement of the word “shall” with “may” in item #2 of the resolution within the plan, is unacceptable to Red Clay. The distinction is not one of mere semantics- “may” and “shall” simply do not mean the same thing. “Shall” secures the adequate and sufficient funding the successful implementation of the plan requires; “may” throws it into doubt. Our concern was explained to the State Board of Education at their recent meeting. Indeed, they were explicitly told that their proposal “could be a deal-breaker.” Unfortunately, they failed to heed this warning. The possibility that the plan’s implementation could continue absent adequate and sufficient funding poses an unacceptable risk to Red Clay and does a disservice to the families and students involved. For these reasons, Red Clay cannot support the change submitted by the State Board last week.

Respectfully,
Merv

WEIC meets tonight to make some decisions about the State Board’s idiot vote.  At the Christina Board meeting last night it was revealed State Board President Dr. Teri Quinn Gray and Delaware Secretary of Education will appear at the meeting.  Well said Merv!

Mark Murphy’s New Job

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It was only a matter of time.  Apparently former Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy has landed a new job after he “resigned” from the top education spot in Delaware.  As the “Entrepreneur  In Residence, Youth Empowerment”, Murphy will be guiding youth toward achievement.  Which company is he working for? Continue reading Mark Murphy’s New Job