Delaware’s Assessment Inventory Final Report Is A Complete Waste Of Time

This makes me sick.  All that time, wasted.  What did this assessment inventory accomplish?  Not a heck of a lot.  That’s for sure.  Just another notch in the DOE’s bedpost sucking away money from public education, yet again.  A bunch of people got together, but at the end of the day we still have Smarter Balanced and districts still have assessments.  So what was the point of all this?  Oh yeah, it was the “antidote” to opt out.  We still have the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  Let me reiterate.  We still have it.  Even though everyone NOT affiliated with the DOE and Markell’s pals in the General Assembly said “Get rid of it”.

I don’t remember all the talk about computer-based assessments as a best path forward.  How about those who attended a lot of these meetings?  Do you remember that?  And I’m sorry.  I don’t know Equetta Jones at all aside from a public comment she gave at a Red Clay board meeting.  But the “parent” representative was picked by Governor Markell and she showed up to one meeting, the first one.  I don’t know her circumstances, but if she was unable to commit to being on the committee, she should have resigned.  All that time was wasted when a parent (who is not also a teacher) could have been giving worthwhile feedback.  State Rep. Kim Williams noted in public comment at one of the meetings that she reached out to the Delaware DOE about this without any response.  Once again, parents were completely shut out as if our opinions don’t matter at all.  The usual kick in the back by those who know best.

Here is the final report folks.  I predicted months ago nothing of great importance would come of it.  It was a distraction, pure and simple.

Is Bill Gates Undercover at Delaware DOE, too?

Is Bill Gates Undercover at Delaware DOE, too?

Guest Post by Anani Maas

A Concerned Delaware Teacher Speaks Out

Emily Talmadge in her blog Save Maine Schools challenged readers to research how Bill Gates has gone undercover in our own states after she discovered how Gates has used his vast resources to drive the corporate education reform agenda in hers.

So, I decided to take her up on her challenge.

Let’s begin with the federal Race to the Top incentive grant, a carrot dangled at states to “force cash-strapped states to make radical changes in education in order to stay in the running—changes a National Research Council report (10/7/09) warned were not backed by research. Instead of dispersing grant money on the basis of greatest need, RTTT chooses a few winners based on the degree to which the states deliver what the feds want: more charter schools, so-called merit pay for teachers and new curriculum standards known as the Common Core” (Ohanian, 2010).  As we know, Delaware was one of the very first states to receive the grant in 2010 to the tune of $19 million because they quickly jumped on the “opportunity” the RTTT grant promised.  Read the rest of Ohanian’s article to see how Bill Gates’ money was connected to Race to the Top.

It is well documented that Bill Gates bankrolled the Common Core State Standards revolution in Lindsey Layton’s well-researched article for the Washington Post in June, 2014. For a refresher, you can read it here.

This leads to the Smarter Balanced State Assessment that is in place to test student’s acquisition of the Common Core State Standards. And if your school doesn’t have the technology available to administer the tests, Microsoft is ready to help you out!  (Even though Bill Gates himself is quick to point out how his efforts are solely philanthropy and in the best interest of ALL children! Bill Gates says so here.)

In addition to Common Core State Standards, Gates has bankrolled the Next Generation Science Standards as well. The authors of NGSS are Achieve, Inc. and, of course, Achieve, Inc. has received generous awards from the Gates Foundation. (see here)  Now that Delaware has secured the Smarter Balanced Test, it is time for them to move on to initiate a similar test aligned to the CCSS and the NextGen Standards.

But Bill and Melinda Gates’ money doesn’t stop there. How has their money directly found its way to Delaware in the effort to drive his corporate education agenda?

“Another key requirement [of the RTTT grant] is “using data to improve instruction.” This means basing classroom lessons on data collected from highly criticized standardized tests” (Ohanian, 2010).

Delaware DOE contracted with New America Foundation to implement the Delaware Data Coach Program.  “One of only two winners from the original, stimulus funded Race to the Top competition, the Delaware Department of Education dedicated $8.2 million over two years of its $19 million grant to the Data Coach Program” (McCann and Kabaker, 2013).  New America Foundation has received grants from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation every year since at least 2009.

Copied from the Bill and Melinda Gates’ Foundation Grants Awarded page.

New America Foundation 2015 Postsecondary Success US Program $2,400,000
New America Foundation 2014 College-Ready US Program $370,000
New America Foundation 2014 Postsecondary Success US Program $235,000
New America Foundation 2013 Global Policy & Advocacy US Program $740,000
New America Foundation 2013 College-Ready US Program $200,002
New America Foundation 2012 Postsecondary Success US Program $1,450,000
New America Foundation 2012 Postsecondary Success US Program $110,000
New America Foundation 2011 Postsecondary Success US Program $530,000
New America Foundation 2010 Global Policy & Advocacy US Program $1,300,000
New America Foundation 2009 and earlier Global Policy & Advocacy US Program $450,000
New America Foundation 2009 and earlier Global Policy & Advocacy US Program $1,500,000
New America Foundation 2009 and earlier Global Policy & Advocacy US Program $250,000

Curiosity seized me, so on the same Gate’s Foundation database for grants awarded, I decided simply to put “Delaware” in the search engine and these names popped up:

Delaware State University

Rodel Charitable Foundation

Association of Educational Publishers

Delaware Department of Education

I haven’t quite figured out why Gates gave $400,000 to the Delaware DDOE in 2013 and $322,525 in 2009.

I did see that the Gates Foundation gave a grant to the Delaware PTA in 2012 “to provide parent and community training on CCSS throughout Delaware.” Although, on page 18 of the same report, the DSEA reports that “DDOE has failed to fill this gap and has not provided resources for DPTA to continue its CCSS work” (Johnson, 2015).  So what happened to the money?

Gate’s money has paid for yet another set of standards. The Delaware Academy for School Leadership is one of the new organizations that has been developed to train new school leaders throughout the nation in the new The Interstate School Leaders Licensure Consortium (ISLLC) Standards.  These new standards have been developed through the Council of Chief State School Officers in collaboration with the National Policy Board on Educational Administration (NPBEA) to help strengthen preparation programs in school leadership. Again, searching the Gate’s Foundation database, I found that the Gates Foundation has awarded 21 grants to The Council of Chief State School Officers ranging from $25,000 to $6,148,749 between 2009 and 2015.  Therefore, Bill Gates gets to determine what knowledge, attitudes, dispositions, and performance are essential for new school leaders who lead our district schools.

This is only the digging I was able to accomplish in one afternoon! I am so thoroughly enraged at the way Bill Gates and his buddy billionaires have been able to single-handedly determine the direction of every level of our educational system to promote his agenda.  He is systematically buying into every level of education to propagate his message: lobbying parents through their trusted PTA’s, brainwashing novice teacher and administrators by controlling their teacher and administrator training programs, contributing to politicians on both sides of the aisle,  and stimulating new non-profits, charter schools and department of education cronies who will promote his propaganda.

While Bill Gates conspires to cash in by directing the education of every student in the United States from pre-K through graduate school, Delaware is simply selling out our students to the highest bidder.

The Honesty Gap Between Governor Markell And Students, Parents, & Teachers Is Wider Than The Pacific Ocean

“And we’re not being honest with kids about what they need to be proficient.”

In an article in the News Journal, Governor Markell said there is an “honesty gap” between state standardized tests and the National Assessment of Educational Progress.  First off, with all the news going on with education in Delaware, how is it that reporter Matthew Albright’s biggest education news of the day yesterday was a conference call with Markell, Achieve, and the Collaboration for Student Success?  I can think of at least three dozen other matters that are more newsworthy.

Governor Markell is scrambling.  So are the big education reform companies.  They will say and do anything to attempt to gain the trust back in their corporate education reform agenda.  Now they are tackling the biggest problem they will have in the next three months: when the scores come back on the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  What Markell and Achieve don’t mention in this article is how Achieve is in a contract with the Delaware Department of  Education right now with the Assessment Inventory initiative.  This was Markell’s rocket science idea to get rid of other assessments to justify the Smarter Balanced.

When the issue of parent opt-out came up during this conference call, Achieve President Michael Cohen said:

“While we’re here talking about making sure parents get honest, accurate measures of performance, parents are actually opting to get no information about their performance,”

You are absolutely right Mr. Cohen.  The parents who are opting their children out do not trust the test or Governor Markell.  Teachers don’t trust it either.  Sure, maybe the chosen few who become Teachers of the Year or become part of the Rodel Round Table over at Camelot, aka 100 W. 10th St. in Wilmington.  These are the dying embers of a failed policy, but Markell is too stubborn or too invested to just throw water over them and just let it cool down.  This is his Achilles Heel.  Whenever his baby is threatened, he pulls these stunts.  And this widens the gap between himself and the rest of us.

Where is the honesty with the Smarter Balanced Assessment Governor Markell?  Teachers can’t see the test beforehand, and they don’t see the answers the students give or the actual graded tests.  Parents don’t see it either, but they are supposed to trust a score?  But this is okay to measure schools and teachers?  I don’t see a lot of honesty  in that Governor.  So keep peddling your proficiency measure like some guy selling Rolex watches in New York City, and us parents will continue to opt our kids out.  The debate is over, but you are too foolish to realize it.

Matt Albright, you are better than this.  Stop taking phone calls from the Governor and start covering real education stories.