In yet another pathetic sentencing, a Delaware state employee got off very easy for stealing in what should have been a harsher sentence. When did our Delaware Department of Justice get so soft? Continue reading
Atnre Alleyne, a former employee of the Delaware Department of Education and the current head of DelawareCAN, filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the DOE back in March. He was not satisfied with their response and filed a FOIA complaint with the Delaware Department of Justice. The Delaware DOJ issued their opinion on the complaint on May 4th and found the Delaware DOE did violate FOIA. Continue reading
As per the Delaware Department of Education website, the DOE employs 241 people. 66 of them make over $100,000 based on a Freedom of Information Act request I submitted to them on February 28th. This is eight more than what the News Journal reported four years ago. At that time, the DOE had extra employees as part of their limited Race To The Top federal grant. Continue reading
The Delaware Joint Finance Committee is hearing from the Delaware Department of Education for their FY2019 budget at this very moment! Continue reading
The Delaware Department of Education will present their FY2019 budget to the Delaware Joint Finance Committee tomorrow on Thursday, February 8th at 1pm. With a projected budget surplus for the next fiscal year, the Delaware DOE will assuredly want more of that money. The problem is everyone and their mother wants a chunk of that change! Will they get it?
Last year, in the midst of the budget crisis of 2017, the Joint Finance Committee had tons of questions for Secretary Bunting. Will history repeat itself or will the JFC relax a bit with a projected surplus? I will be there, reporting live from Legislative Hall!
The Delaware Department of Education made more changes recently with their leadership. No formal announcement came out for these, but I did some super-sleuthing on their website to figure it out. Continue reading
And the revolving door keeps swinging. Two longtime Delaware Department of Education mainstays are leaving and one was kind of sort of switched to a new role. Continue reading
One of the big heads at the Delaware Department of Education is retiring. Which one? Continue reading
Even though I’ve done my fair share of beating up on the Delaware Department of Education, I felt they were transparent in a few ways. Most specifically on their website. But now I am finding that transparency is evaporating fast. There are three examples of this, most of which would not be caught by most people. For a blogger like myself, those three areas contained a lot of information.
The first is their special education section. For years I would look at their Due Process Hearing and Administrative Complaint decisions. Each report would name the specific school district or charter school. Since last Spring, they stopped doing that. Now it just says “______ school district” or _____ charter school”. What is the big deal? Don’t parents of students with disabilities have a right to know what kind of special education complaints are happening at certain schools?
In looking at the above two screenshots from the DOE website, a pattern begins to form. Last school year, there were three administrative complaints against charter schools in Delaware. None of them are named. I don’t need to be a forensic scientist to figure this one out.
The second area involves Department of Education personnel. As long as I can remember, the Delaware State Board of Education would list changes to DOE personnel on their website as part of their agenda for each meeting. That stopped a few months ago. I did reach out to Donna Johnson, Executive Director of the State Board of Education. She said the State Board does not control personnel at the DOE and they were the only state agency that listed personnel changes. So it was a matter of consistency. I get that, but it was also what made the DOE stand out above those other state agencies. Not to belittle other state agencies, but the DOE is an important one and citizens have a right to know who is leaving or who is hired there.
The third area, which absolutely no one in their right mind would find is a bit tricky. It involves their search engine. I learned a few years ago that if you type “PDF” in their search bar it will bring up all PDF documents. You can even tweak it so the results come up with the most recent documents. I relied on this to see what was going on at the DOE. The last PDF document that comes up on the search of most recent is from 5/2/2017. I highly doubt the DOE is not creating PDF documents anymore. I know that is the case because I’ve seen them. But they somehow found a way to eliminate it from their search bar. Maybe they figured out some crazed blogger from a specific IP address was always using it and disabled it.
It doesn’t shock me that these transparency issues coincide with the new Carney administration. I, as well as others, have written about a continual lack of transparency coming from the state since Governor John Carney took office. I guess the people no longer have a right to know.
The optics are bad for Delaware Governor John Carney. After telling us you were going to “trim” the Delaware Department of Education, you went and created a whole new division of the Department and placed them in Wilmington. Yes, the new Office of Improvement and Innovation is just different letters for the same accountability machine. Located in Wilmington, this new DOE division, led by former Brandywine Assistant Superintendent Dorrell Green, will “support Delaware’s most in need with a focus on Wilmington’s struggling schools,” according to a press release issued today.
According to Atnre Alleyne, a former Delaware DOE employee who broke this news yesterday, “It downgrades the work of the Teacher & Leader Effectiveness Branch and rebrands it as Educator Support and Collaboration (to be more palatable to those less interested in conversations about effectiveness).” In fact, Alleyne’s post was mostly ripping on the Department he used to work for.
This is my real issue with this announcement. With the FY2018 budget cuts, teachers are going to lose their jobs. Carney’s response? Create a new division of the Department that needs the biggest cuts of all. Yeah, you can shrink down the TLEU and move people around, but setting up what will basically be a priority schools branch smack dab in the middle of Wilmington doesn’t show this DOE transformation. It shows the DOE will be closer to schools they want to “monitor”. While Carney says he wants the DOE to be more of a resource center for Delaware schools, who determines what resources are needed? The schools, the Delaware DOE, or the US DOE? I don’t picture this as a situation where schools say “we need this” and the DOE comes riding in on their white horse to save the day. This is the same color, just a different kind of paint to make it look more pretty.
I don’t know the first thing about Dorrell Green, but it sounds like he has a great deal of experience in Wilmington schools which is always a good thing. And I congratulate him on his new position, but now is not the time to be creating new divisions of the Department that most in Delaware want to see massive cuts. You don’t do this the second the ink is dry on your budget signature and not expect the people of the state to raise a big old stink about it. But, this is Delaware. Where the people’s voice just doesn’t seem to matter anymore.
As predicted, the Delaware Dept. of Education is delaying the final sending of their state Every Student Succeeds Plan to the United States Dept. of Education by one month. Last week, the U.S. DOE released the final regulations for the accountability portion of the new federal education law. As a result, they are giving states more time to submit their state plans.
For Delaware, this means the State Board of Education will vote on the final plan at their March, 2017 board meeting. On April 3rd, Delaware will send the plan to the U.S. DOE. This changes many of the public comment periods for the Delaware plan as well. Here is the press release from the Delaware DOE from yesterday:
The U.S. Department of Education has extended its submission deadline for states’ Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plans, allowing Delaware to adjust its plan submission schedule and provide more time for public input and plan development.
Delaware now will submit its final plan on April 3. Other dates leading up to that submission also have been adjusted and are reflected below:
· January 11: Release of second draft of plan
· February 28: Release of final draft of plan
· April 3: Submission of final plan to U.S. Department of Education for approval
The public has several on-going opportunities to provide input on the plan:
· Community conversations: Three of the seven sessions of this second round of public input sessions remain. The next is Thursday night in Newark followed by two sessions for Spanish-speaking community members in Georgetown and Wilmington on December 14 and December 20, respectively. Find more information on these and the previous sessions here.
· Online surveys: Members of the public also may submit their feedback via three online surveys available here. This is the second round of online surveys.
· Discussion groups: Stakeholders are serving on two on-going discussion groups, one focusing on school supports and the second on measures and reporting. These are public meetings, and public comment is available at each session. The next session is tonight. Find more information, including minutes from past meetings here.
· Governor’s ESSA Advisory Committee: Governor Jack Markell’s advisory committee also continues to meeting. These public sessions also include public comment. The next session is Jan. 11.
· Feedback also can be submitted via a designated email address, ESSAStatePlan@doe.k12.de.us.
People say I am very dark with this blog. That I never put up good news. Well today, I am about to share some really great news. In their latest Take Note newsletter, the Delaware Dept. of Education talks about how a student from Sussex Academy found an error in a family resource guide involving a math problem.
The problem was about figuring out the world population. In the example, the DOE estimated the human population of Earth to be 7×108. Sussex Academy junior Finn Davis was helping his little sister look through the guide from the DOE when he immediately noticed the glaring error. According to the DOE’s calculation, that would put the world’s population at 700 million. Finn, being a brilliant math student, corrected the error which should have been 7×109 which would have more closely estimate the world’s population at 7 billion.
Finn didn’t stop there. He notified the DOE of this error and they corrected the guide which will now have a correct estimation of the world’s population. Good job Finn! Who says I don’t post good news?
“And the children shall lead us…”
Surveys can be a pain in the ass. Especially when they come from the Delaware Dept. of Education. Done right, they can be very informative and allow the survey taker to feel like they are contributing their voice. But if they are too narrow in scope, and only lead a person to a very limited result, those surveys are worthless except to the person administering the survey. I get that the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) is very explicit with what it wants, but some areas are open to interpretation. For example, every state has the ability to submit new standards and a state assessment to the U.S. DOE. But Delaware is so stuck on Common Core and Smarter Balanced that they didn’t even consider doing away with it.
In their latest round of ESSA surveys, I found some of the questions to be very assumptive and misleading. Without someone even knowing the background for the questions, a citizen would have no clue what kind of question they are even answering. Of course, I believe the Delaware DOE relies on that and counts on specific parties answering them to get the results they want.
We used to call these school partnership zones, priority, or focus schools. It is just another label for “failing” schools. It doesn’t help when prospective home buyers see these labels when a realtor identifies those schools as “failing”. The measurement that would determine any of these labels is the Smarter Balanced Assessment and other standardized tests. Those measurements are flawed to begin with.
Both these questions are very misleading. First off, the survey taker would have to believe the measuring device for a “failing” school is valid. It does not take into account external characteristics that students bring into the school. It could be an area of severe poverty or high violence or both. In 2014, Delaware identified seven schools as “Priority schools”. In the second question, that could make anywhere from 12-18 schools labeled as “failing”. That is a HORRIBLE idea. Schools shouldn’t be labeled based on standardized tests to begin with.
What if the school experiences a spike in special education students? What if there is a spike in violence within that school district? There are so many factors that would skew the results of this. And once again, it is based on standardized tests. All of their options are horrible and just serve to stigmatize a district over test scores. This is no different than what came out of Race To The Top and No Child Left Behind. Bad, bad, bad…
Say you have a Title I school with 35% poverty and another with 60%. Are they the same school? What if one has a special education population of 6% and another has 20%? Any funding should be contingent on the needs of the students. These schools should be getting this in some format as it is. Not based on standardized test scores!
See where this is going? ALL of this is based standardized test scores…
How about student grades? How they are growing in their student grades? Their participation in class activities? Why MUST it be tied to standardized tests? The DOE has NEVER met their long-term goals so what the hell is the point? They could say 50 years and we all know they aren’t going to make those goals because they are (yawn) based on standardized tests. It is also comparing apples to oranges. You can’t always compare students at a 3rd grade level in 2014 to 3rd grade students in 2016. Especially on standardized test scores.
Once again, average citizens will have no clue what a 5 year or 6 year graduation rate even means. They won’t know that 5 and 6 year graduation rates apply to students with disabilities. 100% will never be attainable and I know the DOE knows that. So why even put it up as an option? Unless you want No Child Left Behind to stay in place…
If they have to measure graduation rates, of course they should do it for each one. But they can’t measure 4 year graduation rates the same as 5 and 6 years rates. They are a different kind of student. As for the next question, and I know school districts will disagree with me, but I would go with school safety data. But I have a feeling they want people to answer the absenteeism which is often out of a school’s control.
Are you kidding me with the early learning measurement? Once again, beyond an elementary school’s control. No, no, no! For the next one, how about a definition of “college and career readiness”? Student growth and proficiency are once again based on Smarter Balanced and the Next Generation Science state assessment. No, No, NO!
The “n” number is a very convenient way for charter schools that have low populations of subgroups not have those students count in their accountability ratings. I say NO n#!
Enough with the ratings already! Has history taught you nothing?
I won’t tell people to take this survey or not. But please keep in mind what I’ve said about these questions should you choose to take it. But then again, the danger is all the people the DOE “wants” to take the survey will give them the results they want. Business as usual!
The Delaware Dept. of Education has a very bad habit. They ignore what the people are telling them. This is the case with the 2016-2017 Delaware School Success Framework. Once again, they are incorporating the Smarter Balanced Assessment participation rate as a penalty in the framework. Even though a majority of their stakeholders in the Measures of School Success ESSA Discussion Group said they don’t want this anymore. The final regulations from the U.S. Dept. of Education concerning participation rate have not come out yet but ESSA dictates that it is the decision of the states and local education agencies to determine how they handle opt out. US DOE Secretary of Education John King received a great deal of flack from parents, educators, and citizens with his harsh regulations surrounding accountability. This also drew the attention of members of Congress who felt King was abusing the authority given to him with ESSA. The state does NOT have to have a penalty for participation rate. But the DOE continues to treat ESSA as a penalty-providing opportunity.
The above picture was taken by one of the members of the Measures of School Success ESSA Discussion Group. The discussion groups come up with ideas and thoughts on how to improve schools. For this discussion group, after they have answered all questions, they put three stickers next to their top priorities. Not having opt out as a penalty in the DSSF and having the school report what may have happened received 8 stickers. If I remember this meeting correctly, there were only about half the members in attendance. So for this to get 8 priority stickers, that is huge. But the Delaware DOE ignores this.
Last year, when the Accountability Framework Working Group convened to decide on the final version of the DSSF, they came up with the same idea which was a valid option from the US DOE. It looked like that was going to go through until Governor Markell stuck his nose into it and directed Secretary Godowsky to proceed with the opt out penalty. Even though Markell will end his reign as Governor and is moving onto bigger and better things, like performing in the Nutcracker, the DOE continues his very bad education policy.
Last night, I had an interview with Education Week. They reached out to me due to my role on the Student and School Supports ESSA Discussion Group. I won’t spoil the interview, but there was discussion around what the true role of “stakeholder input” is with Delaware’s ESSA plan. Many feel that we are just placards in the process and the Delaware DOE will do what it damn well pleases. This latest version of the DSSF just reinforces that thought.
Incoming Delaware Governor John Carney: you really need to put the brakes on the DOE Accountability Machine! The DOE needs to listen to their stakeholders more than Rodel!
The Delaware Dept. of Education just held their FY2018 budget request hearing with the Delaware Office of Management and Budget. They are requesting a 7.7% increase over their FY2017 budget. This would push Delaware public education costs over the $1.4 billion mark to an astonishing $1,485,183,000 which would leave it closer to the $1.5 billion mark. But just because the Delaware DOE is requesting this it doesn’t mean they are going to get it. With the state facing a deficit of anywhere from $150 to $300 million for FY2018, many requests by various state agencies won’t be granted.
Among the increases are the following:
$39.838 million for FY2017 Salary/OEC Contingency (benefits)
$9.238 million for Educator Step Increases
$945,100 for Paraprofessional Salary Compression
$12.221 million for 2016-2017 unit growth of 144 units
$16.175 million for General Contingency increase of 190 units
$202,000 for Delmar tuition
$751,200 for related services
$685,600 for academic excellence
$3.9725 million for public school transportation
$602,000 for technology operations (there are three categories under this, I will find out what each one is for)
$7.98 million for Early Childhood initiatives
$3 million for public education bandwidth
$1 million for Technology Block Grant
$1.75 million for one-time replacement of DEEDS
$473,000 for technology operations for district/charters for
$219,500 to replace federal funds for personnel costs
$2.7 million for World Language Immersion expansion
$1.2 million for Teacher Leader Pilot expansion
$25,000 for Professional Standards Board
$18,000 for increases in Schoology
$500,000 for Seed Scholarships
$2.4 million for public school transportation
$500,000 for Career Pathways
They are also looking to made reductions of $4 million to the following:
$50,000 from SEED/Inspire marketing
$2.52 million from K-12 Pass Through Programs
$113,000 for Tech-Prep 2+2
$150,000 from Prison Education
$1.2 million from Driver Training
The Dept. of Education is also requesting $920,000 for Major Capital FY2018 Certificate of Necessity requests. $633,745 of that would come from the state share and $286,862 would come from the Local source of funding. I will have more to write on this later based on the presentation given.
Eight days after the 2016 elections are over (Thank God!) the Delaware Department of Education will discuss their FY2018 budget with the Office of Management and Budget. This is open to the public, but I recommend getting there early so you can get a seat. The budget for the next fiscal year is going to get crazy. First off, we have the Every Student Succeeds Act. In Delaware’s first draft plan, you can see that a lot of areas in the law will be depending on state funding. Which means the feds will have to decide on our state plan assuming these items would pass in our budget. Delaware is submitting their final plan to the U.S. Dept. of Education on March 6th. That is 116 days before the Delaware General Assembly would even pass the FY2018 budget. So what happens if the feds approve our plan but we don’t have the necessary funding allocations for our plan? The feds would presumably pass (or reject) our plan within 120 days of submission. That puts Delaware in the position of getting the approval after the end of legislative session. Not to mention the fact we will have a new Governor (presumably John Carney) with his own ideas on education. By the time this hearing comes, the next Governor will have been elected. But further complicating matters is the exiting Governor, Jack Markell. His administration will work up the proposed budget which won’t be released until January 2017. And if I know Jack Jack, he will attempt to get all his friends some last-minute goodies! Add in the fact that pretty much everyone in the state wants to trim down the Delaware Dept. of Education and make it less of a bureaucratic nightmare. This will be a must-attend meeting if you can make it. But, of course, it is at 10am in the morning when the true stakeholders in education… students, parents and teachers… are busy doing what they do best.
Last Wednesday night, both of the Every Student Succeeds Act Discussion Groups met at the Collette Center in Dover. This was the only time both groups will be in the same room. When I walked in, each group was told to sit on their side of the room. The big room will have a partition between the two sides for future meetings. The next one is tomorrow night at 6pm followed by October 17th at the same time. So what did the Delaware Dept. of Education do that was so creepy? Continue reading
The News Journal just reported that a group of Delaware charter schools are suing Christina School District and the Delaware Dept. of Education over the charter school funding issue that I broke at the end of August. This is unbelievable! I can’t believe they have the unmitigated gall to go behind the districts’ backs all Spring, have the DOE issue “updated” funding formulas in August, and then sue Christina and the DOE after Secretary Godowsky reversed course on the plan.
And who does the News Journal have as a fresh picture, taken two days ago? None other than Kendall Massett with the Delaware Charter Schools Network. When Newark Charter School’s Head of School Greg Meece and Kendall Massett get together, we should expect nothing but trouble. For all of Massett’s talk about wanting district and charter collaboration, she sure has a funny way of showing it.
Fifteen charter schools have filed suit against the state Department of Education and Christina School District to get what they claim is their fair share of funding. Christina has been withholding millions of dollars in local tax revenue from charter schools for years and the Department of Education has been complicit, according to the lawsuit.
Their fair share of funding is what they already get. I actually can’t wait to see this go to court. I will say it here and now… the charter schools will lose! Who is paying for their attorney fees?
Under the adjusted formula, Christina School District would have had to pay about $3 million more this year than it had been planning. For Newark Charter School, one of the chief beneficiaries of those funds, that would have meant an additional $1 million in revenue.
I said it before, and I’ll say it again… this amounts to Greg Meece going for an unprecedented money grab for Christina after they won their referendum last Spring. And I also have a pretty good idea why he thinks the charters will win. But I will hold that close to the vest for now. But that one goes all the way to the top of Delaware, right Jack? So how far back does this lawsuit go? How about 2008!
The lawsuit aims at reinstating the adjustments made to the statewide formula and forcing Christina to pay back what it has withheld since 2008.
Newark Charter knows that if they win this would bankrupt Christina which I have no doubt is their overall plan. And what then? All of Christina goes back to the state and would most likely convert to charters. Is Meece going to lead his long dreamed of Newark Charter School Network and take all those kids he didn’t want for the past 15 years? I know what happened in 2008 when a former Christina Board member told Meece they would get additional funds from their referendum but the board member spoke out of turn. Ever since, Meece has been gunning for Christina because of bad information. I also have a pretty good idea of where Meece got certain information from that is making him think he has a case. That will be the true revelation when all is revealed!
I would have to assume these fifteen charters are the ones that get funding from Christina School District, which is most likely every one in New Castle County.
Last Friday, I posted an article about a Red Clay teacher asking the Delaware Dept. of Education for the student growth goals for their 2016-2017 evaluations. The teacher who sent this to me sent it as screen shots. Someone named “Penny” commented on the article last night suggesting that either myself or the teacher may have left out parts of the email chain in an attempt to make the Delaware DOE look bad. This is what “Penny” wrote:
When you post emails as a way to inform your readers of what is occurring at DOE or via the general communication exchange from a teacher to personnel at DOE, it would be far more honest and a clearer picture if they were posted in entirety as opposed to cutting them down to exclude portions of one or an entire sections of the exchange. When portions of the email exchange are not included in your article, it is not fair to judge the response of the representative that you are shaming without either knowing or sharing all that was communicated. I am hoping that it was Mr. Fackenthall that failed to share the full exchange in its entirety rather than your deliberate omission of portions in order to taint a member of the DOE in order to make the response altered from what it stated. Taking it piecemeal and not in its fluid exchange changes the tone, content, and intent of the conversation by both parties. I hope there was no malice on your intent but rather you were misinformed and the full email exchange was not shared with you.
As I replied to the commenter this morning, the screen shots sent to me were very small, and I had to do some cutting and pasting of the emails to give the full picture for the original article. As a result, the Red Clay teacher sent me the full email chain and I don’t see any changes to the content of the email whatsoever. I hoped anyone reading the article would be able to follow the time-stamps on the emails. But for clarity, here is the entire email chain:
From: Schneider Laura <Laura.Schneider@doe.k12.de.us>
Date: Wednesday, September 21, 2016 6:47 AM
To: “S. Fackenthall” <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Cc: Neubauer Jon <jon.neubauer@DOE.K12.DE.US>, Brake Kelley <Kelley.Brake@doe.k12.de.us>
Subject: Re: 2016-2017 growth goals
Thank you for sharing.
Director, Educator Effectiveness
Teacher and Leader Effectiveness Branch
Delaware Department of Education
401 Federal Street
Dover, DE 19901-3639
Sent: Wednesday, September 21, 2016 6:11:48 AM
To: Schneider Laura
Cc: Neubauer Jon; Brake Kelley
Subject: RE: 2016-2017 growth goals
Thank you. I still don’t understand WHY our educators can’t know what the student targets are PRIOR to the meeting. This information apparently is already known since you take the scores from last year to create the target.
I’m hopeful that these targets are REASONABLE. I think we fail to address the diverse populations and learning needs within our buildings.
Jon sent you the rating targets, found in the DPAS-II Guide. That is all you need.
Here is some additional info:
Group 1 Educators include any educator who instructs reading and/or mathematics for at least ten (10) students in grades four (4) through eight (8). The Student Improvement Component of DPAS-II for Group 1 Educators shall be comprised of one Measure A and one Measure B or C, weighted equally (50% for each).
· Measure A: Measure A will utilize student scores from the state assessment in ELA and Math. Growth targets are based on the state’s student growth model and are established by the Department of Education.
· Measure B or C: The second growth target is locally determined using a state-approved Measure B content assessment or Measure C growth goal.
The Delaware student growth model for Measure A measures student academic growth based on the state assessments in ELA and mathematics. The model uses a statistical growth model technique to identify the impact of an educator’s performance on student achievement, controlling for variables such as prior student knowledge and other student characteristics. Measure A rating targets (found in the DPAS-II Guide for Teachers) needed for goal setting are as follows:
PLEASE NOTE: Although individual student targets are not needed for the goal setting process, they will be made available to the field in October.
Measure selection and goal target identification is based on professional conversation between the administrator and educator during conferencing. If agreement cannot be reached, administrators have final approval. Whenever possible, goal setting should include all students the educator instructs.
Please visit the Student Improvement Component policy document from the DOE website.
In addition, please take time to utilize our Goal Setting Resource Suite.
Director, Educator Effectiveness
Delaware Department of Education
Teacher and Leader Effectiveness Branch
401 Federal Street
Dover, DE 19901-3639
Once again, how can educators create appropriate goals for their students without knowing what the targets are?
Sent from my iPad
On Sep 20, 2016, at 9:45 AM, Schneider Laura <Laura.Schneider@doe.k12.de.us> wrote:
Not sure if Jon got back to you yet, but the individual student targets will be made available to the field sometime in October.
Director, Educator Effectiveness
Delaware Department of Education
Teacher and Leader Effectiveness Branch
401 Federal Street
Dover, DE 19901-3639
Thank you, Jon. Will the targets be made public?
While the student targets aren’t needed, educators would probably want to know what they are ahead of time as to best decide their goals.
Sent from my iPad
On Sep 20, 2016, at 7:02 AM, Neubauer Jon <jon.neubauer@DOE.K12.DE.US> wrote:
Thank you for reaching out.
The individual student targets will be made available in early October. However, you don’t need those for the goal setting process.
The rating targets have been established and can be found in the DPAS-II Guide (http://www.doe.k12.de.us/domain/375). Below is a snapshot from the guid.
Please let me know if you need additional clarification.
From: Fackenthall Steven
Sent: Monday, September 19, 2016 11:36 AM
To: Neubauer Jon <jon.neubauer@DOE.K12.DE.US>
Subject: 2016-2017 growth goals
Good morning Jon,
Can you refer me to the growth goals for SBAC ELA/Math this year?
Thank you for your help.
A Delaware teacher in the Red Clay Consolidated School District asked the Delaware Dept. of Education for the growth goals for Group 1 educators, which would be English/Language Arts and Math teachers. Not an unreasonable question given that we are already a month into school. It would be a pretty neat idea to have teachers measure goals based on the goals the DOE provides them. Especially since this is a major part of their evaluation each year. But in the below email exchange between Red Clay Teacher Steve Fackenthall and DOE Teacher/Leader Effectiveness Unit employees Laura Schneider and Jon Neubauer, something comes out.
I apologize for the squinty eyes some of you may have experienced looking at the pictures of these emails. I tried to make them bigger, but c’est la vie! But notice how the teacher had very specific concerns about the targets and the response from Schneider at the DOE? As a married man, if my wife came to me with a concern and I said “thanks for sharing”, she wouldn’t take it too well. I know if my boss addressed something with me at work and I said “thanks for sharing” and walked away, that would NOT be good for me. So why is it that the DOE feels they can talk to teachers like that? I give the DOE a hard time…a lot. But it is this kind of exchange which lends that feeling of a lack of communication a great deal of credibility. I understand the DOE is busy and they have a clear mandate for what their duties are. But a bit of empathy and compassion goes a long way.
I know John Carney (should he be elected as Governor) wants to make the DOE less a compliance factory and more of a valued resource for educators. If I were a DOE employee and I read the teacher’s concern, knowing Carney is probably going to be our next Governor (based on what others have written), I might think twice of giving a “thanks for sharing” response. Something to the effect of “that is a valid concern. Maybe we should talk about that” or “can you go into more detail?” would go a loooong way towards mending old wounds teachers feel.
Many teachers feel that the DOE gives off a superior attitude to teachers. It shouldn’t be like that. It should be a collaborative relationship. The very nature of the teacher’s email shouldn’t even be a reality. Those goals should be sent out before school starts so teachers can start preparing. Targets are one thing, but actual student’s goals shouldn’t wait until over halfway into a marking period or well into a trimester (which some districts and charters have). This is the number one complaint I hear about the Delaware DOE. And I think the lack of transparency is connected to that attitude. It gives off a vibe of “we will release information when we want to do it, not when YOU want it”.
I have seen many emails from the DOE that came from FOIA requests. I have seen them totally dog teachers between each other. I’ve seen a dismissive attitude when teachers or other district staff reach out to them for help.
The DOE is filled with a lot of caring and wonderful people who care about kids. But the leaders and higher-ups need to look at the perception people have of them. If not, we can expect more of the same no matter what John Carney or the next Governor plan. I understand the DOE isn’t going to please everyone all the time. They get their marching orders from the big boss (and it is not the Secretary no matter what you think). This same thing does take place in some charters and districts. Just because you have a loftier position does not mean you are better. It means you have an opportunity to provide more answers and deal with employees and constituents (whether they are parents, teachers, anyone really) on an equal level. You might get a bigger paycheck but it should always be about the end goal: helping kids. And upsetting and frustrating teachers is not the way to go. They are the front line in education. I get that politics play a big part, but be human! I’m sure this sounds hypocritical coming from me, but when I react it isn’t always pretty. I get upset when I see this kind of thing. I could have easily written a title like “DOE doesn’t give a crap about teachers” but it has become more than obvious that there is a severe disconnect happening in Delaware education. This isn’t anything new. But how can we set a new course if the old matters aren’t addressed or pointed out? Sitting at the table and hashing it out is good if there is less baggage to deal with. That baggage needs to be dealt with.