Apples, Oranges, & The Myth Of Grading Schools: The True Goals Behind Bad Education Policy

Atnre Alleyne came out with a blog post this morning supporting a Governor Carney idea where Delaware rates schools with stars.  Of course he did!  I don’t care what you label them with: stars, letter grades, numbers, or rocket ships.  It all translates to a comparison between apples and oranges.  What I find most ironic about Alleyne’s post is how self-serving this is for him.  As the guy behind Delaware Can, any school labeling further perpetuates the myth that companies like that thrive on: label, shame, and punish.  Alleyne’s personal war against the Delaware State Education Association is filled with holes and misdemeanors!  I thought I would pick apart a few of his “facts” and “myths”.

The Fallacy of Surveys

Thousands of Delawareans responded to the Delaware Department of Education’s 2014 survey indicating they want school performance ratings.

When you come out with a survey that doesn’t even ask the question “Do you think Delaware should have school performance ratings?” and you continue that survey with questions about those ratings, I don’t think it is fair to say that means “thousands of Delawareans” wanted this.  The survey predetermined the school report cards was going to happen (as required by federal law) but that in no way to translates to the citizens of Delaware demanding this system.

Self-Serving Agendas

Recently a coalition of 24 community and business groups also sent the Department a letter with recommendations for the state’s ESSA plan that called for a “single summary rating for schools and districts…in order to ensure clarity for parents and community members.”

And who led that band of public education marauders, disguised as organizations wanting to help public education?  Who corralled and convinced these 24 mostly non-profits who would benefit from what Alleyne wants?  Who was also on the Governor’s Advisory Committee for the state ESSA plan and in a position to leverage his agenda?  Yes, none other than Atnre Alleyne.

The Rating-Label Scheme

MYTH: School ratings are more of the type of “testing, labeling, and punishing” we do not need in our schools.

Yes, they are.  Given that the weighting of these report cards is over 50% towards results from the Smarter Balanced Assessment so carefully masked as two different categories: growth and proficiency, it most certainly is a testing, labeling, and punishing apparatus.

Even The Feds Are Backing Away From Bad Education Policy

Today, federal law requires that we identify and “label” the bottom 5 percent of schools in our state. The school report cards to which the Department has committed renames those schools – from Priority and Focus schools to   Comprehensive Support and Improvement (CSI) and Targeted Support and Improvement (TSI) schools – and continues its support for these schools with access to more money and assistance. That’s not punishment. It’s being honest about where and how we need to help our schools.

A label is still a label even if you change the wording.  I love the word “Targeted” because that is exactly what this system does.  Jack Markell loved this and apparently Governor Carney does as well.  U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos seems to be backing away from a federal accountability system and leaving it up to the states.  Governor Markell embedded that system into Delaware and our whole education system is based on this.  Alleyne, who used to work for the Delaware Dept. of Education, is very familiar with this system and knows exactly what it is meant for.

The Growth In Our Education System Is Malignant

It’s also important to remember that growth measures, which take into account how much a student’s performance has grown over a school year, also benefits schools with higher performing students in ensuring they help their students grow, as well.

Okay, this is the part that absolutely kills me!  If a school has higher performing students, i.e., the average proficiency on SBAC is 3.87 out of 4, that does not leave much room for growth.  But the illusion of having a growth goal of students reaching a 3.9 proficiency is not out of the ballpark.  It is doable and can certainly happen.  Take a school with a high population of low-income and students with disabilities, where the average SBAC proficiency is 1.24 and the growth goal to proficiency is 2.0, the whole system changes.  The work needed to get to that score, with more challenging students with much higher needs, multiplies at an exponential rate.  The odds of that school reaching that goal are much lower than the “high-performing” school that only needs to go up a tiny bit to reach their growth goals.  It is comparing apples and oranges.

Judging The Haves and The Have-Nots And Voucherizing Students

MYTH: If you give schools a rating parents are just going to use that single rating to judge schools and ignore all the other information about a school’s performance.

This is an exercise in futility.  This is the difference between the “haves” and the “have-nots”.  The “haves” will utilize this system to find the “best” school for their child.  Many of the “have-nots”, who in many cases aren’t even aware a system like this even exists, will simply send their child to the local neighborhood school.  In the midst of this landscape we have the issue of school vouchers coming to the front burner.  So much so that the feds are willing to dump all this truly bad accountability crap out the window in favor of a voucher system that will make private schools the next big thing.  For reasons they aren’t saying, this will be the cushion for students from wealthier families for what happens next.  See more on this later.

How To Place Yourself In An Area Of “Importance”

Our goal, as advocates and policymakers, must be to equip parents and taxpayers with school quality information that is easy to understand, fair, and consistent.

Notice Alleyne uses the word “Our”, as if he is the man behind the curtain waving the magic wand that mesmerizes his audience into taking his every word as the Gospel truth.  For a guy that makes a living based on the very worst of corporate education reform Kool-Aid disguised as helping disadvantaged students, I encourage all Delawareans to take what he says with a grain of salt.  Having met Alleyne in person, he is a nice guy.  But his education policy and what he advocates for causes alarm bells to go off in my head.  I get why he does what he does, but he is just another victim of the bad education policy that is fighting for its last legs in the new era of Trumplandia.  I completely understand that he wants better education outcomes for minority students.  I do as well.  I also want that for students with disabilities and English Language learners.  It is the way Alleyne wants this that bothers me.  If society as a whole has not learned the valuable lesson that the continued use of high-stakes testing is just plain bad for public education, than folks like Alleyne will continue to spread their “myths” and “facts”.  I say opt out of not just the high-stakes testing but also opt out of false edu-speak that exists to sway parents of student populations and trapping them in a system where testing reigns supreme.

What’s Up With All The Teacher Union Hate?

If there is one consistent question I’ve been asked by parents who seek to understand this system of high-stakes tests it is this: if we don’t use these tests how do we measure how our schools are doing?  It’s a damn good question and I won’t pretend to have the answer.  I have always suggested that a student’s classroom grades are more of a true measure than these once a year test scores.  I don’t believe in students going on to the next grade if they aren’t ready.  That is when parents need to carefully watch their child’s progress.  It is not the end of the world if a student is held back.  We need to also trust our teachers that their years of preparation and continued training serve to benefit our child’s success in education.  If you have doubts about a teacher’s effectiveness than certainly question it.  I believe it is our sacred duty to do so.  But when we are given lie after lie about teachers from these education think tanks about how bad unions are and how they only want what is best for them, we have to recognize the truth: these companies do NOT want teacher unions to exist at all.  They don’t like the idea of teacher’s organizing on behalf of themselves because it takes away from their profit-making ventures.  The sad part is how so many parents actually believe these horrible lies about public education.  So when unions fight against these bad policies they are immediately painted as the villain in articles like the one Alleyne wrote today.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think the teacher unions are perfect.  But I don’t think any organization, school, parent, student, or state agency is perfect.  But there is a clear difference between offense and defense.  I see corporate education reformers as a vicious marauder into areas where they have no business being in.  The predictable result is teacher unions going on the defense against these schemes and agendas.

Opt Out Is The Only Defense

The only way to fight a bad system is to ignore it.  This is why I have always defended a parent’s fundamental and God-given right to opt out of these silly little standardized tests.  I refuse to give them the clout these companies think they deserve.  I would rather hear the word of the teacher in the classroom who is on the ground floor watching the colossal waste of time these tests have.  They are expensive, take up true teaching time, take up school resources, kill libraries during testing time, and the results serve no true purpose.  If you haven’t opted your child out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment this year, please do so now.  Even if they are already in the middle of testing.  When many parents get the Delaware DOE suggested letter from the school about how opt out is illegal and the school can’t allow it, treat it as fire-starter material for a fire-pit in your backyard.  Just write a letter to your child’s school stating you are opting your child out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment, hand it to the principal, and state there is to be no further discussion on the issue.  If they attempt to dissuade you, give a pleasant “thank you but no thank you” and stand firm on your decision.

What Is A Governor To Do Facing A $385 Million Dollar Deficit?

For Delaware Governor John Carney, he faces a crucial moment.  He has to make cuts in the state budget.  There won’t be easy choices, but one should be a no-brainer: get rid of the dead and expensive weight at the Delaware DOE and get rid of the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  Sever the ties between the Delaware DOE and these “non-profit” for-profit education companies.  If that means getting rid of DOE employees whose sole existence is to continue what amounts to lobbying off the backs of children, just do it!

The True Goal Behind Alleyne And The Rodel Foundation

These are the end goals behind all this:

  • Get rid of the teacher unions
  • Have students learn in a 100% digital learning environment
  • Create a competency-based education system which will prevent students with high needs from advancing more than ever before
  • Track the hell out of the data in this ed-tech wonderland and create what amounts to a caste system where the best students get the best jobs and the struggling students get the menial jobs
  • Do away with brick and mortar schools and have teachers become glorified online moderators
  • Send young children to 3rd party organizations to get their “personalized learning” with Teach For America and other fast-track educator prep “teachers” guiding students
  • Have older students logged into whatever Blockchain technology is coming our way where they “earn to learn” and companies profit from teenagers

Surf-And-Turf or Filet Mignon?

We see this in agendas like Delaware’s “Pathways to Prosperity” program.  I attended Governor Carney’s Inaugural ball.  All the food was prepared and served by students in the culinary program.  The food was awesome.  But did any of those students who prepared this food get paid for their servitude?  I highly doubt it.  I have no doubt they received some type of education credit for their service while the State of Delaware says “thanks for the cheap labor”.  Or what about these “coding schools” where students pay thousands of dollars to train themselves on coding while at the same time doing work for very big companies through the training material?  Our students are nothing more than fodder for corporations.  They are the true victims in this new world and are being used by those whose biggest concern is if they should get the surf-and-turf or just the filet mignon at their next country club dinner.

 

 

 

 

 

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Do You Want To Believe?

Belief is a funny thing.  Some people need to see something splattered all over newspapers and major news outlets to believe something is real.  Others just need to hear one thing to think something is true.  When it comes to education, what do you believe?

I recently had a conversation with someone who told me I was a conspiracy theorist.  That what I am saying about the vast plans that have been going on with education and what is to come is nothing more than that.  That I have no basis to prove my theories whatsoever.  This person also informed me they don’t care about my theories and they have more important things to do with their life.  I encouraged this person to do some research on their own and to come up with their own conclusions.  When you talk about the agendas for public education to someone who is not deeply engrossed in the minutiae of what has been going on, it is very easy to sound like a crackpot.  It won’t be the first time someone has expressed that I am crazy or wearing a tin hat.  I’m sure it won’t be the last.  But as I left that person, they were on Google looking up “Common Core conspiracy theories”.

To an outside observer, many of us who do the research with corporate education reform do sound crazy.  But they haven’t poured through contracts and websites, or followed the money to see where billions of dollars are going.  They haven’t read everything we have.  They can’t accept how deep the tentacles reach.  That this involves much more than education and has ties with the U.S. Departments of Defense, Health and Human Services, and Labor.  That what is going on in public education will redefine society as we know it and strip away substantial rights of citizens in the future.  It sounds so crazy it would have to be a conspiracy theory, right?  And that is exactly what they are counting on, these masters of wealth and foundations, these billionaires who throw money around like it was nothing.  “But these foundations do good things,” I’ve heard.  Of course they do.  They help people around the globe.  If all they did was fund Common Core and personalized learning and education technology, it would be MUCH easier for people to follow the trail.

Our country is run by corporations.  I can’t make people see this.  I can’t make them understand that politicians are bought and sold like discounted goods on Black Friday.  I can’t make them see the major media blackout on so much that is really going on.  I hear so many people say “You can’t believe what you read on the Internet or on blogs.”  I’ve seen it myself.  There is a ton of bad information out there.  I’ve published bad information before based on bad information or a misunderstanding.  It happens.  But when all the same trails lead to the same conclusions repeatedly, after a while the truth sinks in.  It’s not like a lot of these companies are hiding what they want to do with data.  They are announcing it on their websites or pushing it with policy briefs for the Every Student Succeeds Act.  But who has the time to look at all that?  If I weren’t hip to a lot of this stuff, I wouldn’t give any of it the time of day.

It is no longer theory when something has been proven.  It is fact.  And it is a fact that there are corporations and foundations, run by some of the richest people in the world, that want today’s youth and future generations to become servants to their masters.  They will accomplish this through education by turning it into a data tracking system that will affect every facet of their lives: health, careers, outside interests, media, technology, and higher education.  Everyone will be plugged in and led to believe what their lives should be.  The data will tell them so.  Meanwhile, those who aren’t plugged into the Blockchain technology coming our way, the masters, they will happily reap the profits of those who don’t want to believe.

As those who want to save our children from this future, how do we reach those who don’t want to believe?  Who honestly don’t have the time or an inkling of how grand this scheme is?  That it doesn’t matter who is President or this Secretary, they are just following the script written decades ago?

Who Funds Teach For America, KIPP, & Rocketship Education?

We know a lot of school districts, charter schools, and state departments of education give a ton of money to Teach For America, but who got the group going?  And who still funds them?  Let’s just say it is a lot of organizations!  Some of these foundations I had never heard of.  Keep in mind, this is the corporate Teach For America.  There might be foundations funding each state chapter.  For example, the Rodel Foundation loves giving money to the Delaware TFA!

Richard Barth is the CEO of TFA, but Wendy Kopp, Barth’s wife, runs the show.  But Barth runs the KIPP charter school chain.

tfafunders

Going from here, it is amazing how many connections between Teach For America, Kipp, the Gates Foundation, the Walton Family Foundation, the NewSchools Venture Fund, the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, the Charter School Growth Fund, and Tom Vander Ark exist.  It is important to know Vander Ark’s role in this because he is one of the biggest pushers for the death of traditional public schools through his competency-based education personalized learning career pathways earn to learn agendas.

chartermap

I’ll be doing more of these.  If any traditional school district unionized teacher isn’t very worried about their future, I would probably start doing something about it now.  Unless you want to be working as a facilitator in an online charter school in 2026.  This IS corporate education reform, but only a part of it.  It goes much deeper than that.  I’ve been telling people this for over two years now.  But sometimes pictures say a lot more than words ever can.

Education: Everybody’s Got A Price! Stand Up And Refuse! Awesome Video About Data Mining & Sharing

This video is making the rounds today on Youtube and Social Media.  It is excellent and puts everything a lot of us bloggers have been warning about for a long time now.  Parents, not just in Delaware but all over the country, ask your schools what data is being collected on your children.  Ask them what is being shared.  If they won’t give you the answer, keep moving up the chain: district, school board, state DOE, US DOE, as far as you want to take it.  You may be able to FOIA this information depending on your state laws.  This isn’t about helping kids become college and career ready.  It’s about the data, and big, BIG money!

The Tentacles Of Corporate Education Reform And How They Pull Parents Down The Rabbit Hole

Embedded in the latest Elementary/Secondary Education Act reauthorization are initiatives and agendas that will transform education as we know it. This is not a good thing. Nothing in Delaware currently going on (WEIC, Student Success 2025, Statewide Review of Educational Opportunities) is original. This is happening across the country. The result: students plugged in to computers all the time who will only advance once they have gained proficiency in the Common Core-infused personalized learning technology. The benefits will not be for the students.  They come in the form of financial benefits which will belong to the corporate education reformers, hedge fund managers, and investors. Tech-stock will go through the roof if the current ESEA reauthorization passes, and companies like Schoology, Great Schools and 2Revolutions Inc. will become billionaires over-night. Meanwhile, our children will indeed become slaves to the system. The future is here!

The ESEA reauthorization has morphed into the classic quote from Obi-Wan Kenobi in the original Star Wars movie: “These aren’t the droids you’re looking for.”  If you actually think this latest round of ESEA legislation that will come to a vote next Wednesday will reduce testing, you have been sucked down the rabbit hole!

Who is Schoology?  I’ve heard their name countless times in the past year.  I figured it was long past time I dove into this company that is essentially invading every single school district and charter in the First State.  Especially given the information regarding the upcoming ESEA reauthorization vote coming on 12/2.

Schoology offers a cloud service for personalized and blended learning.  For those who aren’t aware, personalized learning is defined by a Great Schools sponsored company as the following:

Personalized learning is generally seen as an alternative to so-called “one-size-fits-all” approaches to schooling in which teachers may, for example, provide all students in a given course with the same type of instruction, the same assignments, and the same assessments with little variation or modification from student to student.

But this is what it really is: a cash-cow bonanza for corporate education reform companies, especially those on the tech side who are pushing their internet-based modules out faster than you realize.  Schoology opened shop in Delaware with the BRINC partnership between the Brandywine, Indian River, New Castle County Vo-Tech and Colonial school districts.  These four districts used Schoology as the base for their personalized learning partnership, and the Caesar Rodney and Appoquinimink districts have joined as well.  The News Journal wrote a huge article on Schoology last March, and reporter Matthew Albright wrote:

Schools must figure out how to create the right infrastructure, providing enough bandwidth and wireless network capacity. They have to settle on the right computers or tablets and find ways to pay for them, configure them, and teach students how to use them.

And, while many teachers have taken their own initiative to find new educational tools, schools and districts have to find ways to train teachers in using these systems and make sure all educators are on the same page.

In Delaware, a group of districts has banded together to work out the best way to deal with those challenges.

The consortium is called BRINC, after the four school districts that originally participated: Brandywine, Indian River, New Castle County Vo-Tech and Colonial. The group added two more districts, Appoquinimink and Caesar Rodney, this year.

Over a year ago, I was distracted away from this by a company called 2Revolutions Inc.  After their appearance at the annual Vision Coalition conference, I looked into 2Revolutions and did not like what I was seeing.  My eye was on 2Revolutions coming into Delaware as a vendor, and I completely missed Schoology who was already here.  Meanwhile, 2Revolutions invaded the New Hampshire education landscape.  Schoology is not much different.  But they don’t just provide a cloud service in Delaware.  According to the minutes from the Senate Concurrent Resolution #22 Educational Technology Task Force in Delaware, Schoology has also integrated with e-School and IEP Plus.  In a press release from Schoology on 5/20/14, the company announced they were integrating with SunGard K-12 Education (the creators of e-school and IEP Plus):

SunGard K-12 Education’s eSchoolPLUS, an industry-recognized student information system, helps educational stakeholders—students, school administrators, district staff, teachers, parents, and board members—easily manage and immediately access the summary and detailed student information they need, when they need it.

While this seems like a good thing, it is a tremendous amount of data which is now in Schoology’s hands.  Schoology is also branching out like crazy all over the country.  They just announced a contract with L.A. Unified School District, as well as Seattle Public School District and Boulder Valley School District.  In terms of financing, they just secured their fourth round of financing with JMI Investments to the tune of $32 million dollars.  This brings their total financing amount to $57 million over the past couple years from investment firms.  The trick to all of this is in the surface benefits: the cloud-based service where teachers can share instruction is free.  But where it goes from there is unchartered territory, according to Tech-Crunch:

On the other side, there is an enterprise-grade product meant for school districts and universities, that gives richer functionality to administrators to hook into back-end student information systems, build out campuses and building maps, and far more. Schoology said that the price (which is per student, per year) is scaled down for larger clients, but he wouldn’t share the general price range for Schoology Enterprise.

Schoology also provides “assistive technology” services for professional development, according to more minutes from the SCR #22 Task Force:

The creation of comprehensive online professional development using the Schoology platform for both Delaware and Assistive Technology Guidelines documents.

The task force is also going to recommend the following:

Provide district/charters the opportunity to buy-into using Schoology with K-12 students at minimal cost. Increase funding to support growth of the use of Schoology that will drive the per student cost down.
Support the use of Resources within Schoology for sharing teacher-created content and OER.

The SCR #22 Educational Technology Task Force was brought forth by Delaware Senator Bryan Townsend, and sponsored by Senator David Sokola, State Rep. Earl Jaques, State Rep. Trey Paradee, and co-sponsored by Senator Colin Bonini. While this task force is going on, there is another task force called the Student Data Privacy Task Force, which came from an amendment to Senate Bill 79, sponsored by Senator Sokola.  Sokola and Jaques also sponsored the current Senate Joint Resolution #2 Assessment Inventory Task Force. I firmly believe every single one of these task forces, aside from having very similar legislators behind the scenes, will also serve to bring about the complete immersion of Delaware into personalized learning. I wrote last month about the clear and present danger behind the data collection occurring with Delaware students.  But it doesn’t just stop at personalized learning because at a state and national level there is a big push for “competency-based education”, which I wrote about a few weeks ago.

Competency-Based Education, also called Proficiency Based Learning, is a process where students do not advance until they have mastered the material. Instead of a once a year standardized assessment, students will be tested at the end of a unit, on a computer. Think Smarter Balanced Assessment broken up into numerous chunks throughout the year. This “stealth” testing will effectively “reduce the amount of testing” but would also give the exact same tests but at a micro-level. This is also an opt-out killer as parents would have no way of knowing how often their child is being tested, nor would they likely have access to the actual questions on the mini-assessments.  Meanwhile, as President Obama and soon-to-be-former US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan mirror Delaware’s Senate Joint Resolution #2, parents and educators are saying “Yes, yes, yes!” but bloggers like myself are saying “No, no, no!”

Save Maine Schools, a blog written by a teacher from Maine named Emily Talmage, has delved into this digital nightmare in great length.  Talmage bought the product these companies were selling until she wisely began to question the motives behind it all.  Maine, along with New Hampshire, Alaska, and Delaware, is one of the state guinea pigs where the experiment of Personalized Learning and Competency-Based Education is at the forefront.  All four of these states have smaller populations and are led by reform-style education leaders.  Talmage recently wrote about what has been going on while we were testing:

The fact is, the state-led testing consortia , which promised to use our tax money to bring us high quality tests that would get our kids “college and career ready”, were actually business consortia, strategically formed to collaborate on “interoperability frameworks” – or, to use simpler terms, ways of passing data and testing content from one locale to the next (from Pearson to Questar, for example, or from your local town to the feds).

Just as the Common Core State Standards were intended to unleash a common market, so, too, was the effort to create a common digital “architecture” that would allow companies like Questar and Pearson and Measured Progress and all the rest to operate in a “plug in play” fashion. (Think of Xbox, Nintendo, PlayStation, and all the rest teaming up to make a super-video-game console.)

The upcoming ESEA reauthorization, called the “Every Student Succeeds Act”, is filled with easter eggs and cash prizes for companies like Schoology, as seen in the below document from EdWeek.

That is a ton of federal money going out to schools from legislation designed on the surface to halt federal interference in education.  It sounds like Race To The Top all over again, but on a much bigger scale.  The tentacles from the feds reach deep into the states with this latest ESEA reauthorization, and behind the US DOE are all the companies that will feast on tax-payer funds.

The bill also allows for further charter school expansion and the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools recently said:

The National Alliance congratulates the conference committee for taking another step forward in the bipartisan effort to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. While we have not yet seen the full text of the conference agreement, we are pleased to learn the proposal would modernize the Charter Schools Program, supporting the growth and expansion of high-quality charter schools to better meet parental demand.

When the opt-out movement grew in huge numbers earlier this year, many civil rights groups protested opt-out as a means of putting minority children further behind their peers.  What they don’t realize is the current ESEA reauthorization will ensure this happens!  Even the two largest teacher union organizations are jumping on this version of ESEA.  The American Federation of Teachers wrote a letter urging ESEA to pass as soon as possible.  National Education Association President Lily Eskelsen Garcia wrote:

We look forward to working with the congressional conference committee members to ensure that we produce a bill that, when signed by the president, gives every student the opportunity, support, tools, and time to learn.

How much do these civil rights groups and leaders of teacher unions really know about what is inside this bill?  Do they understand the danger of rushing this ESEA version to a vote and what it will mean for the future of education and children?  Don’t the teacher unions realize this will be the death knell for the future of teachers in America?  Once personalized learning is embraced by all public schools in America, teachers will become moderators or facilitators of the personalized learning modules.  The demand for “old-school” teachers will greatly diminish, and teacher qualifications will simply become how to review and program these digital instructional items.  The vast amount of money and resources will pour into technology and only the school leaders will be the ones with high salaries.  The current teacher salary models in each state will become a thing of the past.  With the charter school protections written in this bill, more and more charters will open up that will drain away local dollars.  With each state able to come up with their own accountability systems, the schools with the highest-needs students will slowly give way to charters.  Rinse, wash, repeat.  If I were a public school teacher that is in a union, I would seriously question why the national leaders are endorsing this.

Even American Institutes for Research (AIR), the testing vendor for the Smarter Balanced Assessment in Delaware and holds numerous other contracts with other states and the US Department of Education is in on this new “digital age”:

As part of the Future Ready initiative, President Obama hosted more than 100 school superintendents at the White House during a November 19, 2014 “ConnectED to the Future” summit.  Superintendents signed the Future Ready District Pledge indicating their commitment to work with educators, families and communities to develop broadband infrastructures; make high-quality digital materials and devices more accessible; and support professional development programs for educators, schools and districts as they transition to digital learning.

But it doesn’t stop there, because AIR wants districts to invest heavily in all this technology:

Effectively using technology is an essential skill in today’s workforce but also critical to advancing teaching and learning. Today’s students aren’t just digital natives: they increasingly use digital devices to complete school assignments, stay informed, and network with peers around the world. A tipping point for technology and schooling may be in store soon:  instead of merely enhancing teaching and learning, technology may transform both by better accommodating individual learning styles and facilitating collaboration. Whether through the deeper learning, personalized learning, or blended learning approaches districts are exploring and investing heavily in now, technology could finally help your state unlock instruction—educational policy’s “black box”—and ultimately close achievement gaps.

It all comes back to closing those damn achievement gaps, based on the very same state standards and standardized testing that are creating those very same achievement gaps.  This is something AIR excels at, creating the “need” and then selling the “fix”.  Some have theorized, but been unable to prove due to an inability to get into AIR’s contracts and financial records, that companies like WestEd, Questar, Data Recognition Corp. (the “human scorer” company for the Smarter Balanced Assessment in Delaware), and Measurement Inc. are merely shell companies for AIR.  AIR seems to be controlling so much of what is in education.  So much so, it is hard to tell the difference between AIR and the Council of Chief State School Officers.  Which brings us back to Delaware Governor Jack Markell.

This is a man who has been involved in corporate education reform for well over ten years, possibly longer.  He worked at McKinsey and Associates in the 90’s as a consultant, and after coining Nextel, he became the State Treasurer for Delaware, a role he served from 2001-2009.  Since then, he has served as the Governor of Delaware and been behind every single education reform movement that has swept the country.  When Markell served as the President of the National Governor’s Association in 2013, he attended some very big events.  Including the Milken Institute Global Conference.  While in attendance, he served on several panels that were not open to the public and were considered private “by invitation only”.  Why would an elected official, sworn to uphold the best interests of his state, serve on private panels for huge investment firms?  The panels Markell served on at the Milken conference were “Global Capital Markets Advisory Council” (along with Tony Blair, Michael Milken, Eric Cantor and Rupert Murdoch) and “K-12 Education Private Lunch”.  Those were the only two panels Markell talked on, both private, and both closed to the public.

Jack Markell, the great violator of parental rights, who vetoed opt-out legislation in Delaware that overwhelmingly passed the Delaware House and Senate, is one of the key political figures and puppet masters behind all of this.  With close ties to Achieve, McKinsey, the Council of Chief State School Officers, the Rodel Foundation of Delaware, New America, and the Center for American Progress, Markell is a very dangerous man in education.  Markell’s ambitions are not for the good of the citizens of Delaware.  His constituents are the very same companies behind the latest ESEA reauthorization, personalized learning, competency-based education, and the public shaming of educators everywhere unless they happen to belong to a charter school.  He was even involved in the creation of Common Core:

He has also served for three years as Chair of the National Board of Directors of Jobs for America’s Graduates, co-chair of the Common Core Standards Initiative and chair of the Metropolitan Wilmington Urban League.

The last of those groups is a civil rights organization in Delaware’s largest city, Wilmington.  When Markell first announced his “original” idea of assessment inventory, he was joined in the press conference by the head of that organization at the time.

In Delaware, we are led by a tyrant who leads the charge in education reform and allows the money-sucking vampires like Schoology to come in and pocket funds that allow bloated classrooms.  Companies like Schoology will make damn sure students with disabilities, children from poverty, and at-risk youth are always behind their peers.  This is what their services thrive on, the constant demand to fix education.  As our US Congress votes on the ESEA reauthorization, keep this in mind: it is not meant for every student to succeed.  It is all about the money.  Follow it, and you too will see the path to success.

What can parents and teachers do?  Aside from following the money, which is a mammoth task and all too frequently a lesson in humility, look at your local, state and national leaders.

Look at legislation and regulations.

What initiatives and plans are your district boards, charter boards, and state boards of education voting on?

For charter school parents, do you ever question why the boards of charters are appointed rather than elected?

Do you ever look at “task forces”, “working groups” and “committees” in your state and wonder who is on them and why there were appointed?

Does  your state sell the term “stakeholders” in determining policies but many of the same people serve on these groups?

Which of your state legislators are introducing legislation that seems harmless on the surface but has caveats and loopholes deeply embedded into it?

Which legislators are up for re-election and could be easily swayed for promises of future power?

Which legislators are running for higher office?

What policies and laws are your state Congress representatives voting on?

What is your Governor up to?  Do you see news blips about them speaking at private organizations but it is not on their public schedule?

Do you see action by legislators that seems to defy the beliefs of their individual political party?

Do you see education leaders and legislators comingling with lobbyists in your state Capital?

For teachers, where does your local union and state union stand on these issues?  Your national?

Parents: if your school has a PTA or PTO, what are their collective stances on these critical issues?

Do you know if your State Board of Education is elected or appointed?

Find out who your state lobbyists are.  Read.  Search.  Discover.  Question everything.  Email your state legislators and Congress representatives when you don’t agree with something you believe will have no direct benefit for your individual child.  Vote for those who you think will stand against this bi-partisan regime of education vampires.  Question those who sit on the sidelines and do nothing.  Push them.  Make your voice heard.  .  Look into initiatives going on in your state, or research groups looking into school funding or redistricting.  Part of the ESEA reauthorization has states looking at “weighted funding”, whereby funds would pour into more high-needs schools.  As well, the reauthorization would allow more Title I dollars to go into the “bottom” schools than they currently do.  When I say “bottom”, these are schools usually with the most high-needs students who do not do well on the standardized tests.  In many states, these schools become charter schools.  Once again, rinse, wash, repeat.

One thing to keep in mind is the corporate education reform movement is everywhere.  Like a secret society, they have embedded themselves and they are hiding in plain sight.  In every single one of the groups mentioned above.  Some of the people I am asking people to look into may not even realize they are a part of these agendas.  Some may just think they are doing the right thing.  For folks like myself, Diane Ravitch, Mercedes Schneider, Emily Talmage and countless others, our job is to expose and name them.  We discover the lies and call them out.  We are the last line of defense before your child’s worthwhile education is completely gone, lost in the shadows and truckloads of money behind those who would dare to steal your child’s benefit for their own future.  Unless you are part of the wealthy and elite, your child’s fate is being decided on next week during the vote for the ESEA reauthorization.  Most of you don’t even realize this.  Many that do have been duped and fooled into believing this is the right thing.  Many of us have been fighting the evil standardized test and opting out, and the whole time they have been plotting and scheming in closed-door meetings with companies to bring about the last phase of corporate education reform: the complete and utter brainwashing of your child wired into a never-ending state of constant assessment and proficiency based on the curriculum that they wrote.  They fooled the bloggers as well.  But we are the resistance, and we will not stop the defense of our children.  We will protect our schools and our communities from the corporate raiders.  We will keep opting out and fighting for the rights of others to do so as well.  We will not be bought or sold into the devious and intrinsic methodologies they seek to perpetuate on our society.  We will fight, not because we gain personal reward or acclaim, but because it is the right thing to do.

Kids Don’t Need Rigor & Grit These Days…They Need ’80s Music!

We hear it all the time: “In order for kids to be college and career ready, they need to use rigor and grit.”  No they don’t.  They need the fighting anthems of the 1980s.  The music nowadays just doesn’t carry that “stir your soul” kind of feeling like we got way back when.  Take this for example:

Just once in his life a man has his time
And my time is now, and I’m coming alive

I can hear the music playin’, I can see the banners fly
Feel like you’re back again, and hope ridin’ high
Gonna be your man in motion, all I need is a pair of wheels
Take me where the future’s lyin’, St. Elmo’s fire

I can see a new horizon underneath the blazin’ sky
I’ll be where the eagle’s flying higher and higher
Gonna be your man in motion, all I need is a pair of wheels
Take me where the future’s lyin’, St. Elmo’s fire

The title track by John Parr from the 1985 movie, St. Elmo’s Fire, is all about the spirit kids needed thirty years ago.  There is all this talk about “growth”, but the people saying that fail to realize these kids are growing up all by themselves.  True growth comes from within.  Not from a standardized test.  Even Dexy’s Midnight Runners knew this, with their one-hot wonder Come On Eileen:

These people round here
Wear beaten down eyes sunk in smoke dried faces;
So resigned to what their fate is
But not us, no never, no not us, no never
We are far too young and clever

Now people don’t smoke like they did back in 1983, but we see a lot of beat down eyes sunk in faces.  I usually see them at the Delaware State Board of Education meetings.  Some of the music back then can actually flip on itself, and apply to the people sitting at that table down in the Townsend Building in Dover:

What you gonna do when things go wrong?
What you gonna do when it all cracks up?
What you gonna do when the love burns down?
What you gonna do when the flames go up?

Who is gonna come and turn the tide?
What’s it gonna take to make a dream survive?
Who’s got the touch to calm the storm inside?
Don’t say goodbye, don’t say goodbye
In the final seconds who’s gonna save you?

Alive and Kicking

Simple Minds indeed!  Whereas students are Alive and Kicking, just like the kids were in 1985, our State Board needs to wake up!  Kids have way too much pressure nowadays.  So did Queen and David Bowie back in 1982, but they found a way to turn into one of the best songs ever written!

Insanity laughs under pressure we’re breaking
Can’t we give ourselves one more chance
Why can’t we give love that one more chance
Why can’t we give love give love give love give love
Give love give love give love give love give love
‘Cause love’s such an old fashioned word
And love dares you to care for
The people on the (People on streets) edge of the night
And love (People on streets) dares you to change our way of
Caring about ourselves
This is our last dance
This is our last dance
This is ourselves
Under pressure
Under pressure
Pressure

The pressure kids are under these days between just growing up, and starting in Kindergarten, this need to constantly improve under the lens of proficiency is sheer madness!  Kids need Dreams:

So baby, dry your eyes, save all the tears you’ve cried
Oh, that’s what dreams are made of
Oh baby, we belong in a world that must be strong
Oh, that’s what dreams are made of

And in the end on dreams we will depend
‘Cause that’s what love is made

How is today’s youth going to be able to burst into this Common Core world and be able to strategically think on their own if they are programmed to think the same as everyone else?  They need to aspire to their own dreams.  Not the ones designed to make education reformers filthy rich.  I can picture Jack Markell and Paul Herdman playing this next song when they were planning their 20 year vision ten years ago:

You can tell I’m educated, I studied at the Sorbonne
Doctored in mathematics, I could have been a don
I can program a computer, choose the perfect time
If you’ve got the inclination, I have got the crime

Oh, there’s a lot of opportunities
If you know when to take them, you know?
There’s a lot of opportunities
If there aren’t, you can make them
Make or break them

Yeah, you’re definitely trying to break them.  Especially with your latest Annual Measurable Objectives that are NEVER going to be met.  Kids need real heroes nowadays.  They need someone like Martin Luther King to rise them out of the high-stakes testing stupor as U2 glorified him like no other back in 1984:

One man come in the name of love
One man come and go
One man come he to justify
One man to overthrow

In the name of love
What more in the name of love
In the name of love
What more in the name of love

But instead, Moms and Dads coming home from work dread going over the latest batch of Common Core math homework.  I think the Police predicted the future with Synchronicity II:

Daddy grips the wheel and stares alone into the distance
He knows that something somewhere has to break
He sees the family home now, looming in his headlights
The pain upstairs that makes his eyeballs ache
Many miles away there’s a shadow on the door
Of a cottage on the shore
Of a dark Scottish lake

Even more frightening is the fear kids must have when they think about actually taking the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  It is pounded into them from day one, and it has to be a lot like the things that scared us when we were kids.  They probably have nightmares and start to plan how they can get out of it.  Maybe a fever?  Are they feeling Hot Hot Hot?  The Cure thought so:

Hey, hey, hey
Yes, I’m jumping like a jumping jack
I’m dancing, screaming, itching, squealing
Fevered, feeling, hot, hot, hot

Children and teenagers instinctively know when something isn’t right.  They need to question things, just as parents need to as well.  Even the German band Alphaville called it thirty years before the Smarter Balanced Assessment:

Can you imagine when this race is won?
Turn our golden faces into the sun,
Praising our leaders, we’re getting in tune
The music’s played by the, the madman.

Forever young,
I want to be forever young.
Do you really want to live forever?
Forever, and ever

The generation that belongs to this toxic testing in education is in severe psychological danger.  Longer hours at school, being taught to a test that is absolutely horrible, and parents feeling intimidated by schools.  They want to do the right thing, but some are too frightened of the consequences for their kids.  The cold hard reality is this: there are no consequences for their children except the imaginary ones the Delaware DOE and Governor Markell want to impose on them.  But no song exemplifies the glory of the ’80s more than the original Vision song: Journey’s Only The Young!

They’re seein’ through the promises
And all the lies they dare to tell
Is it heaven or hell?
They know very well

Only the young can say
They’re free to fly away
Sharing the same desire
Burnin’ like wildfire

The only way to help the children of today be unique and individual is to say NO!  Parents need to rise.  The most frightening part is that many of the people making the decisions nowadays are the same ones who used to be unique individuals thirty years ago.  Now, they are just common.  The same.  Don’t let your child be the same.  Opt your child out today.  Let your young children play and love them with everything you are.  Help them learn at their own pace and not within the confines of proficiency models and growth methodology.  Don’t let their youth drift by at the hands of these education monsters.

Read more: John Parr – St. Elmo’s Fire (man In Motion) Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Read more: Dexys Midnight Runners – Come On Eileen Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Read more: Simple Minds – Alive And Kicking Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Read more: Queen – Under Pressure Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Read more: Van Halen – Dreams Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Read more: Pet Shop Boys – Opportunities (let’s Make Lots Of Money) Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Read more: U2 – Pride (in The Name Of Love) Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Read more: The Police – Synchronicity Ii Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Read more: The Cure – Hot Hot Hot Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Read more: Alphaville – Forever Young Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Read more: Journey – Only The Young Lyrics | MetroLyrics

 

Delaware Quarterly District, Charter & DOE Expense & P-Card Spending

We are already a quarter of the way into Fiscal Year 2016.  I went through Delaware Online Checkbook and the Delaware Online Credit Card Transactions and made lists of which districts and charters spend the most.  Since the procurement card (also known as P-Card) is also a part of the total spending, I made two different lists.  As well, I put in all the major education reform companies the DOE shells funds out to, along with our state universities and colleges.  One thing to keep in mind is that P-Card spending is not an admission of guilt to financial abuse.  Many districts and charters use them for easier use of spending.  While some charters have been under the gun in the past couple years over this kind of abuse, it is not a general practice.

Total 1st Quarter Spending for FY2016
School Districts:
Christina $65,949,468
Red Clay $64,359,994
Brandywine $38,941,201
Indian River $34,451,340
Colonial $33,581,753
Appoquinimink $27,235,242
Capital $26,920,056
Caesar Rodney $25,365,753
Cape Henlopen $24,462,771
New Castle Co. Vo-Tech $20,459,061
Smyrna $18,781,120
Lake Forest $13,360,017
Seaford $12,380,371
Milford $11,056,539
Woodbridge $7,931,473
Laurel $7,513,240
Sussex Technical $7,401,832
Poly-tech $6,775,292
Delmar $3,303,696
Charters:
Newark Charter $7,513,240
Odyssey $3,820,528
MOT $2,714,233
Charter School of Wilmington $2,157,353
Thomas Edison $1,987,107
Providence Creek $1,890,432
Kuumba $1,769,796
Del. Military Academy $1,641,501
East Side $1,619,359
Family Foundations $1,615,134
Las Americas Aspiras $1,611,533
Sussex Academy $1,566,229
Del. Acad. Public Safety $1,065,013
Gateway Lab School $991,959
Campus Community $966,644
Prestige Academy $938,260
Academy of Dover $937,442
Positive Outcomes $741,137
First State Montessori $718,311
Early College High School $651,222
Academia Antonio Alonso $645,448
Delaware Met $518,340
Freire $492,507
Delaware College Prep $478,976
Great Oaks $430,763
First State Military $293,564
Delaware Design Lab $236,174
Delaware STEM Academy $829.15
Department of Education and sub-groups within DOE:
Department of Education $28,311,420
Special Needs Programs $7,414,664
Driver Training $303,940
Education Block Grants $239,953
Transportation $970,166
Advisory Council $70,974
DOE Education Expenses unless noted:
Achievement Network $69,000
Advanced Educaction Products $13,181
American Institutes For Research $2,048,269
Applied Technologies $107,480
Bloomboard $48,000
Delaware Community Foundation $93,381
Delaware Technical College (entire state spending) $11,363
Delaware State Educators Association $937,417
Delaware State University (entire state spending) $795,514
Derek J. Nino (Relay) $13,240
Double Line $95,515
Education Analytics $125,700
Education First Consulting $21,868
Education Pioneers $40,000
Empower Education Consulting $10,900
ESP Solutions Group $20,560
Essential Teaching & Learning $18,722
Evergreen Evaluation $11,700
Federal Education Group $87,725
Greatschools $15,000
Harris Mackessy Brennan $165,000
Hendy Avenue Consulting $43,900
iAssessment $49,999
Innovative Schools $618,441
Insight Public Sector $620,566
Jobs For Delaware Graduates $921,255
KSA Plus Communications $39,105
Marshall Consulting $15,500
Mass Insight $360,000
MH Miles Company CPA $66,800
Middlebury Interactive Language $26,146
Myriam Met $14,000
National Louis University $23,313
NCS Pearson $83,600
NCS Pearson (Districts and Charters) $465,428
New Teacher Center $29,962
Partnership to Advance Learning $26,000
Rand Corporation $156,136
Research For Action $100,000
Richard Colvin $18,200
Rodel Foundation $175,000
Ronald Berry $14,000
Schoology $264,588
Sungard Public Sector $948,245
Teach For America $35,143
Teaching Strategies $114,228
Tembo Inc. $85,000
The Center For Better Schools $28,000
The Hanover Research Council $33,000
The New Teacher Project $20,000
Transact Communications $14,750
University of Delaware (entire state spending) $41,111,614
University of Wisconsin-Madison $110,492
US Education Delivery Institute $20,793
Wesley College (entire state spending) $242,452

Total Procurement Card Spending 1st Quarter FY2016

School Districts:
Cape Henlopen $219,585
Appoquinimink $180,107
Red Clay $147,338
Sussex Technical $140,334
Poly-tech $81,610
Seaford $71,230
Colonial $63,021
Lake Forest $62,102
Delmar $58,599
Capital $45,762
Milford $28,486
Brandywine $25,431
Caesar Rodney $22,563
Smyrna $22,487
Woodbridge $20,612
Indian River $17,890
New Castle Co. Vo-Tech $17,427
Christina $16,715
Laurel $0.00
Charters:
MOT $88,221
Kuumba $48,971
East Side $48,349
Thomas Edison $37,808
Sussex Academy $30,137
Positive Outcomes $24,653
Odyssey $24,632
Las Americas Aspiras $20,924
Charter School of Wilmington $19,077
Delaware College Prep $12,972
Family Foundations $12,597
Del. Military Academy $12,428
Campus Community $9,942
*Academia Antonio Alonso $0.00
*Academy of Dover $0.00
*Del. Acad. Public Safety $0.00
Delaware Design Lab $0.00
*Delaware Met $0.00
*Delaware STEM Academy $0.00
*Early College High School $0.00
*First State Military $0.00
*First State Montessori $0.00
Freire $0.00
Gateway Lab School $0.00
*Great Oaks $0.00
Newark Charter $0.00
Prestige Academy $0.00
*Providence Creek $0.00
*indicates Innovative Schools handles bookkeeping for those schools
Department of Education and related organizations:
Department of Education $113,915
Education Block Grants $28,504
Special Needs Programs $24,449
Gov. Adv. Council $1,078
Advisory Council $879
Transportation $434

Delaware DOE’s Out Of Control Spending Spree In July

The Delaware Department of Education is a cash-cow bonanza for education reform companies! Delaware Online Checkbook came out with the July 2015 numbers on the 15th, and the Delaware Department of Education looks like they don’t have any controls on their spending.  All told, they spent $13,103,296.36 for the month of July.  This is not unusual, but it’s WHAT they are spending the money on.  A lot of these are standard services, food for schools, salaries, operational costs and so on.  But the amounts they are spending on outside consultants and vendors is very high.  I went through, one by one, and looked into each company.  Some of them I was unable to figure out what kind of service they could be providing for the DOE.  The first figure is the amount DOE sent payment to in July 2015.  Then I went through and figured out how much the DOE spent with these companies and consultants over the past five fiscal years, from 2011-2015.  Delaware Online Checkbook only goes back to 2011, so the amounts could be higher in some cases…

Achievement Network Ltd. (helps schools “boost” student learning): $17,500, previous five fiscal years (hard to tell, many companies with words “achieve” in them, mostly providing “material” to school districts): $0.00

American Institutes for Research  (assessment vendor for Smarter Balanced Assessment, was also vendor for DCAS):  $1,933,989, previous five years: $36,652,681.87, it is hard to say what the budgeted amount is for the contracts with this “non-profit” because the DOE doesn’t list the awarded contracts anywhere!

Amplify Education Inc.  (previously Wireless Generation Inc., built data longitudinal system for DOE, provides “education material” aka Common Core for DE schools): $60,115.00, previous five fiscal years (including Wireless Generation): $10,461,101.00, as contracted vendor w/DOE under Amplify from 9/25/14-6/30/15: $725,980.00, actual money spent: $1,947,733.00, money spent over agreed-upon contract amount: $1,221,753.00

Department of Education (Indirect Cost, DOE claimed to the Joint Finance Committee and the General Assembly these are salary costs stemming from Race To The Top): $55,322.41, previous five fiscal years: $1,069,287.66

Derek J. Nino (Consultant w/Relay Graduate School): $9,940.00, previous five fiscal years: $0.00

Double Line Inc. (education data management): $30,126.75, previous five fiscal years: $88.042.25

Education First Consulting (just another corporate education reform company to help “fix” education): $12,000, previous five fiscal years: $349,423.45

ESP Solutions Group (another education data company): $15,830, previous five fiscal years: $2,395,932.50

Evergreen Evaluation & Consulting (evaluation education data): $3,900.00, previous five fiscal years: $192,200.00

Federal Education Group PLLC (help clients understand Federal education rules) $14,975.00, previous five fiscal years: $136,775.00

Greatschools (online school search website): $15,000, previous five fiscal years: $1,090,749.50

Hendy Avenue Consulting LLC (teacher evaluation company): $21,950.00, previous five fiscal years: $0.00

iAssessment (help clients develop iPad programs for students): $49,999.00, previous five fiscal years: $229,771.30

KSA Plus Communications Inc. (an “improving schools” communication company): $16,105.00, previous five fiscal years: $52,261.00

Marshall Consulting Company (not sure, many companies w/same name): $8,000.00, previous five fiscal years: $0.00

MBO Partners (a consultant “head-hunter” company):  $7,500.00, previous five fiscal years: $0.00

MH Miles Company CPA PC (do accounting and consulting services): $16,700.00, previous five fiscal years: $229,150.00

Middlebury Interactive Languages (digital language learning company): $26,146.00, previous five fiscal years: $646,406.50

Myriam Met (consultant for foreign languages): $14,000.00, previous five fiscal years: $51,900.00

National Louis University (offers services for “reaching students” and “strengthening teachers”, contract w/DOE for “early learning” online professional development for educators): $7,700.08, previous five fiscal years: $656,630.59, contracted amount through 12/15: $714,978.10

NCS Pearson Inc. (yes, it is THAT Pearson): $19,000.00, previous five fiscal years for DOE: $3,648,335.65, for all of Delaware: $8,057,105.63

New Teacher Center (another making great students by “accelerating the effectiveness of new teachers and leaders” company): $29,962.00, previous five fiscal years: $158,425.00

Nicole Klues (a “blended learning” or “personalized learning” consultant): $9,000.00, previous five fiscal years: $34,500.00

Partnership To Advance Learning (a Microsoft “partnership” w/Lamar University, more digital language stuff): $26,000.00, previous five fiscal years: $48,000.00

Piper Riddle (independent consultant to help teachers with Common Core):  $4,080.00, previous five fiscal years: $0.00

Rand Corporation (contractor for Delaware STARS program): $52,000.00, previous five fiscal years: $1,535,681.58, contracted amount until 12/15: $1,900,000.00

Research In Action Inc. (contractor for DPAS-II evaluation): $6,402.45, previous five fiscal years: $1,712,902.44

Richard Colvin (contractor for Delaware DOE communications strategies): $18,240.00, previous five fiscal years (2015 only): $136,880.00

Rodel Charitable Foundation-DE (no contract w/them right now):  $133,000.00, previous five fiscal years: $387,454.60

Ronald Berry (recruitment manager for DE Talent Cooperative): $14,000.00, previous five fiscal years: $57,540.00

Schoology Inc. (“learning management” system, currently in many DE schools): $264,588.48, previous five fiscal years: $0.00 (many school districts use them)

Teach For America (fast-track teacher prep program): $3,634.92, previous five fiscal years: $799,389.85

Teaching Strategies LLC (early childhood “support for active learning”): $112,508.00, previous five fiscal years: $677,662.29

The Hanover Research Council LLC (does consultancy work regarding grants): $33,000.00, previous five fiscal years: $30,000.00

The New Teacher Project Inc. (another “great” teacher training company):  $20,000.00, past five fiscal years: $465,646.65

Thomas Sauer (consultant on World Language Immersion for DOE):  $6,000.00, past five fiscal years: $16,000.00

U.S. Education Delivery Institute (Dr. Gray on DE State Board of Education sits on the board of this company that helps education leaders work “smarter”): $30,293.25, past five fiscal years: $290,342.00

University of Delaware (not sure what the exact nature of work is, DOE has numerous projects going on with them): $545,081.01, not doing previous years because it is next to impossible to get this one right.

University of Wisconsin-Madison (this one was a bit tricky, but the consultant is actually a company called Education Analytics, usual education reform company who will “help”): $110,492.00, past five fiscal years including Education Analytics: $1,004,462.00

If you add up all the funds spent for these companies, consultants, and “non-profits”, the grand total just for July 2015 is $3,195,999.34.  What I find very interesting is the amounts going to iAssessment.  The DOE has no contract with this company, but the threshold for contract requirements is $50,000 in a fiscal year.  For the past two years, the DOE has spent exactly $49,999.00 in each year to avoid having to sign a contract.  And what has Rodel been doing for the DOE that would warrant a $133,000.00 check going out to them?  I haven’t seen ANY contract with them.  As money pours out of the DOE like a leaking pipe, with NO accountability or controls in place, how can the DOE judge school districts and charters on their own spending when they can’t even control themselves?

One thing is for sure, the DOE will certainly be focusing on the “World Immersion” program and personalized learning in the future.  They are spending a large portion of funds on consultants to get more information on this.  Why don’t they just use Google like I do to get information?  It’s free and it’s probably more reliable!

Even more curious is the fact that NO funds have gone out to Data Recognition Corporation, ever!  This is the scoring vendor for the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  At the Delaware PTA Kent County Parent Town Hall on opt-out, a representative from the Delaware State Board of Education specifically said this was the vendor for scoring the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  We know the DOE has the results, and testing ended for some schools in March/early April, so why aren’t we paying this company?  Or is it rolled into the contract with American Institutes for Research? The DOE actually confirmed this company is the hand scorer in this link: http://www.doe.k12.de.us/cms/lib09/DE01922744/Centricity/domain/111/assessment/Mar%202015%20Newsletter.pdf

There are many other companies and consultants the DOE works with.  This is just a snapshot of one month’s spending by the runaway train called DOE money.  Will the legislators start to reign them in?  They need to because when school districts such as Christina are literally starving for funds and the DOE drops $3 million in one month for a lot of unnecessary spending, we have to wonder what this is all for.