“The Data Walls Must Come Down”: My Email To All Delaware Superintendents & Charter Chiefs

When I say I am going to do something, I mean it.  Therefore, in response to my article about the atrocious data walls in Delaware schools I just emailed every single Delaware Superintendent and Charter Chief.  I will be emailing each district or charter school’s board of education as well and ask them to bring forth policy to eliminate these walls of shame.  To echo the departed President Ronald Reagan: “Delaware schools, tear down these data walls!” Like I did last year when I emailed all of them about opt out ignorance in Delaware schools, I am posting the email to this blog:

Kevin Ohlandt <kevino3670@yahoo.com>
To: Burrows Matthew L. <matthew.burrows@appo.k12.de.us>; Holodick Mark <mark.holodick@bsd.k12.de.us>; Fitzgerald Kevin (K12) <kevin.fitzgerald@cr.k12.de.us>; Fulton Robert <robert.fulton@cape.k12.de.us>; Shelton Dan <dan.shelton@capital.k12.de.us>; ANDRZEJEWSKI ROBERT <robert.andrzejewski@christina.k12.de.us>; Blakey Dolan (K12) <dolan.blakey@colonial.k12.de.us>; Phillips Charity <charity.phillips@delmar.k12.de.us>; “susan.bunting@irsd.k12.de.us” <susan.bunting@irsd.k12.de.us>; “bgwynder@lf.k12.de.us” <bgwynder@lf.k12.de.us>; “shawn.larrimore@laurel.k12.de.us” <shawn.larrimore@laurel.k12.de.us>; Phyllis Kohel <pkohel@msd.k12.de.us>; Gehrt Vicki (K12) <vicki.gehrt@nccvt.k12.de.us>; Zych Deborah (K12) <deborah.zych@polytech.k12.de.us>; Daugherty Mervin B. <mervin.daugherty@redclay.k12.de.us>; Marshall Cheri <cheri.marshall@aod.k12.de.us>; “mark.phelps@academia.k12.de.us” <mark.phelps@academia.k12.de.us>; “margie.lopezwaite@laaa.k12.de.us” <margie.lopezwaite@laaa.k12.de.us>; Catherine Balsley <catherine.balsley@ccs.k12.de.us>; “spaoli@charterschool.org” <spaoli@charterschool.org>; “sandra.wilson-hypes@dapss.k12.de.us” <sandra.wilson-hypes@dapss.k12.de.us>; “Angela.Dennis@dcpa.k12.de.us” <angela.dennis@dcpa.k12.de.us>; “calvarez@design-labschools.org” <calvarez@design-labschools.org>; “anthony.pullela@dma.k12.de.us” <anthony.pullela@dma.k12.de.us>; Lamont Browne <lamont.browne@escs.k12.de.us>; “evelyn.edney@echs.k12.de.us” <evelyn.edney@echs.k12.de.us>; “rachel.valentin@ffa.k12.de.us” <rachel.valentin@ffa.k12.de.us>; Patrick Gallucci <patrick.gallucci@fsmilitary.k12.de.us>; “felicia.wennell@Freirecharterschool.org” <felicia.wennell@Freirecharterschool.org>; “tim.griffiths@gls.k12.de.us” <tim.griffiths@gls.k12.de.us>; “kchilds@greatoakscharter.org” <kchilds@greatoakscharter.org>; “smaldonado@kuumba.k12.de.us” <smaldonado@kuumba.k12.de.us>; “courtney.fox@fsma.k12.de.us” <courtney.fox@fsma.k12.de.us>; Linda Jennings <linda.jennings@mot.k12.de.us>; Meece Gregory <gregory.meece@ncs.k12.de.us>; Nick Manolakos <nick.manolakos@odyssey.k12.de.us>; “ed.emmett@pocs.k12.de.us” <ed.emmett@pocs.k12.de.us>; “cordie.greenlea@pa.k12.de.us” <cordie.greenlea@pa.k12.de.us>; Chuck Taylor <chuck.taylor@pca.k12.de.us>; “patricia.oliphant@saas.k12.de.us” <patricia.oliphant@saas.k12.de.us>; “Salome.Thomas-EL@tecs.k12.de.us” <salome.thomas-el@tecs.k12.de.us>

Sunday, May 22, 2016 9:09 PM

Good evening Delaware Superintendents and Charter Chiefs,

The last time I wrote most of you in unison like this was in regards to parent opt out last year when some of you were giving parents a hard time about making a choice for their child.  Today I write to you in regards to data walls in some of your schools.  While I recognize this may not even apply to some of you, I felt it was fair to include everyone to make myself very clear.

Any data wall showing any type of progress by a child compared to others, whether in the classroom, outside of the classroom, in a hallway, in the school lobby, or on any type of system (including a computer system) where even students can see how they rate against their peers is morally and ethically wrong.  Some schools post the names of students and I have seen pictures of students on some.  This needs to stop, right here, right now.  Those of you who are participating in this: do you have any clue what that does to a child?  Especially the ones who rate the lowest all the time.  Do you know what that does to a child’s self-confidence?  You could be comparing someone with an iq of 75 iq to a person with an iq of 125.  In what possible way are any of you okay with this?  Not to mention the potential FERPA violations with some of these.

Therefore, I request that all Delaware public schools take down their data walls by this Thursday, May 26th.  If they aren’t down, I will file FERPA violations as soon as I am possibly able if student data walls remain in any of your schools.  And I will file for each school.  I have a host of teachers and parents backing me on this.  I don’t care if this is a part of a focus or priority school plan, if you are in the Leader In Me program, or whatever reason you feel this is a good idea.  I don’t care if the DOE tells you to ignore me, or even US DOE.

I’m shocked it took me until now to find out about these things.  What has education come down to when we are doing this to kids?  And I don’t want to hear anything about competition and how it is good for kids.  It is not.  It is damaging and reprehensible.  For those who support this, you really need to be ashamed of yourself.  If you aren’t aware any of your schools are doing this, I would strongly recommend checking with each and every one of them to be sure because you better believe whether you know about it or not I will be filing a complaint if these aren’t gone by the end of the day on Thursday.

This madness in our education has to stop.  All of you run schools or districts and you have the power to put an end to this absolute insanity happening in our schools.  Why don’t any of you stand up to the DOE?  Why do so many of you kiss their ass constantly?  I see a lot of you do it and it makes me sick to my stomach.  You embrace the very things that are destroying public education.  Most of you are making a ton of money already.  But every time you pay for some vendor the DOE recommends, or sign up for the latest craze in education (flavor of the month: BRINC), you are getting one step closer to the end of what you are supposed to represent.  These are kids.  They aren’t remote control mechanisms you can control.  You can’t force a child to be more than they can endure.  Note I did not say capable, but what they can endure.  I believe every child is capable if it based on a modicum of reason and good instruction.  What is forced on our teachers is not.  Especially with these walls of shame.

I know some of you agree with me on this, but for those that do but still sing the song the DOE sings, please ask yourself why.  And don’t tell me it is for survival.  It is for power, and money.  If we haven’t learned this lesson in Delaware yet after the past twenty-five years, no one is fooled.  Many of you I have rubbed the wrong way many times.  I get that, and I completely understand if you dislike me.  But I’m not sending this out to stroke my own ego.  It’s because of children.  And parents, teachers, and those who care about education.  When we have lost the one thing that really matters, the heart of the student, then we have lost Delaware’s future.  And data walls are guaranteed to do that.  I don’t care if you have used them for the past 15 years or the past week.  They need to stop.

I will be emailing all of your boards throughout the week and I will be asking them to create policies forbidding data walls in all of your schools.  I’m sure some of the walls are beautiful and great works of art.  But the heart and self-confidence of a child are the most beautiful and the greatest work of art ever created.  If even one student feels shame from these data walls, that is one too many.

As always, in the vein of transparency, I will be posting this email to Exceptional Delaware.  Please share this with the principals of all your schools and anyone who you feel would benefit from this.

Thank you,

Kevin Ohlandt