An Open Letter From State Rep. Earl Jaques About The School District Consolidation Task Force

I just received this email in regards to the School District Consolidation Task Force and where it will go from here:

School District Consolidation Task Force – HCR 39

A Letter from the Chair – Rep. Earl G. Jaques, Jr. 

September 20, 2017 

I have gotten a lot of questions from task force members and those who attended this week’s meeting about the path of this task force moving forward. Where are we going from here? 

I thought it would be helpful to review what we have achieved so far as a task force and outline my goals for our future meetings. 

Our first two meetings have been focused mainly on organizational matters.  At the first meeting we elected the Task Force Chair as required by HCR 39. Then we established four sub-committees (Academics/Student Needs, Finance, Teachers/Staff, and Structure). These four sub-committees are being led by four outstanding individuals with extensive knowledge and experience in their fields. In order to include a diversity of opinions and perspectives, we added additional members to the original 22 members designated by HCR 39. At our second meeting, we approved these additional members to give us a group with backgrounds and experiences from across our state.  

To ensure transparency, we have put all minutes, power point slides and other related material on our designated section on the legislative website; more materials will be uploaded to this site soon. To view the documents uploaded please scroll to the bottom of the page to “Minutes, Reports, and Information.” In addition, all materials have been sent to every member of the taskforce and those members of the public who asked to be included on the email lists. In cooperation with our statewide media partners we were able to get the citizens of Delaware to provide us with their ideas, suggestions and comments on what they would like to see happen with our school districts. We received 146 different written responses.  

This past Monday we hosted a task force meeting in Sussex County to receive verbal comments from county residents. At this meeting David Blowman, from the Department of Education, presented an overview of our state’s districts, schools and students with some informative graphs and maps. The response to his presentation was overwhelmingly positive, so much so that members present expressed their wishes for residents in Kent and New Castle Counties to have the opportunity to view it as well.

In accordance with this feedback, we plan to hold the same meeting at William Penn High School (October 16th) for New Castle County residents and then shortly after that meeting to hold one again for Kent County residents. In order to give residents of each county the opportunity to view the presentation and share their thoughts we have decided to move the meeting schedule a bit.

Instead of waiting until November to meet as a full task force as was originally planned, the Kent County meeting will be moved to October 25th at Caesar Rodney High School. Then the full task force will meet in early November (details TBA) to vote on the various plans suggested so that the sub-committees can start their work. I envision this vote as being one where 2-3 proposals are chosen to be explored and modeled and compared with the current system. This is a very important topic and so our work cannot be rushed. I will ensure that sub-committees have adequate time to complete their work while also making sure that public submissions and comments are properly heard. 

Once the sub-committees’ work is completed we will meet as a full task force to determine the feasibility of the various components and discuss recommendations to be included in our final report to the State Legislature. 

I look forward to continue working with all of you on this very important issue area. If you have any questions or concerns please feel free to reach out to me or my legislative aide, Madinah Wilson-Anton.

Respectfully Signed,

Earl Jaques

27th Representative District

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Delaware Attorney General’s Office Ignores FOIA Law In, Uhm, Opinion About, Uhm, A FOIA Complaint!

Carve me up and serve me on a platter!  I have seen a lot in Delaware the past few years, but this one takes the proverbial cake!  On May 26th, I submitted a FOIA complaint against Early College High School regarding their Board of Director meetings.  It was three-fold.  The Delaware Attorney General’s office responded today.  I get what they were saying regarding my first two complaints.  But the third one.  Oh.  My.  God.  This is stuff kids on Romper Room know about FOIA! Continue reading “Delaware Attorney General’s Office Ignores FOIA Law In, Uhm, Opinion About, Uhm, A FOIA Complaint!”

FOIApalooza At Early College High School Board Meeting Going On Right Now!!!!

At this present moment, 5:46pm, the Early College High School in Dover, Delaware is holding their monthly board of directors meeting.  But the charter school has NO sign-in sheet for public comment, the front door is locked, and a receptionist at the school told a parent there would be no ability for the public to speak at the meeting this evening.  Hello FOIA, meet Early College High School.

I’m a HUGE fan of transparency.  Real big fan.  I don’t like it when parents are denied the ability to speak at a public meeting.  Nothing gets my education flames going more than that.  Especially when it is planned in advance.  How fortunate for myself that I was able to catch this in real-time!  That takes some major chutzpah to do that.  But not only is all this going on, but they started the meeting early thus denying the public the ability to even hear everything that was discussed if they were able to get through their locked doors.

It makes me wonder why the Board of Directors wouldn’t allow public comment at this meeting.  When I went to check their website to see what is on the agenda, I found it very difficult to ascertain anything since NO AGENDA WAS POSTED!!!!  But during the meeting, there was discussion ABOUT public comment and that anyone wishing to speak has to meet certain conditions first.  Too bad the public didn’t have the opportunity to hear this discussion about their public comment procedures.  One parent went and had something to say, but she never had the opportunity so she left.  Meanwhile, the front doors are still locked.

Governor Carney & Secretary Bunting Will Be At Big WEIC Meeting Next Week

The Wilmington Education Improvement Commission will hold their next meeting on Tuesday, February 28th.  On the agenda is an appearance by none other than Delaware Governor John Carney and Delaware Secretary of Education Dr. Susan Bunting.  This will be interesting!

weicagenda22817

This week, Carney gutted a proposed weighted funding formula for the FY2018 state budget stating there is no money for it.  WEIC doesn’t work at all if the money isn’t in that budget either.  The state is facing a $350-$400 million dollar budget deficit.  In November, WEIC Chair Tony Allen publicly announced that if WEIC doesn’t go through he can foresee some type of legal action against the State of Delaware.  Interestingly enough, WEIC member Meredith Griffin filed today to run for the Christina School District Board of Education for the election in May.  That sets up that election for a four-person race with still another week to file for potential candidates.  This week, issues of race and due process came up in Red Clay stemming from an incident at a basketball game between A.I. DuPont High School and Delaware Military Academy.  Carney and Bunting are getting an hour to talk.  That is actually a long time.  I can’t say if I’ve ever heard Carney talk about education that long.  I don’t know if all of these issues will come up at the meeting, but this meeting comes at a very interesting time.  This will also be a big moment for Secretary Bunting as she is new in office and will be tasked with restricting the Delaware Dept. of Education.

WEIC and it’s earlier incarnation, WEAC, have been around for two and a half years.  Eventually, WEIC presented a plan to send Christina Wilmington students to Red Clay along with several other initiatives throughout the state to improve education for high-needs students.  After a long and drawn-out battle with the State Board of Education, WEIC’s plan turned into legislation.  That legislation failed to pass in the Delaware Senate.  New legislation extended the planning period for another year.  But with this year’s budget deficit looking dismal, will WEIC get the bypass again?  If it does, what will folks like Tony Allen and Jea Street’s next move be?

This could be a crowded meeting.  Get there early.  And what is up with five minutes of public comment?  They may want to stretch that out!

Susan Bunting’s Senate Nomination Will Not Happen Today

Delaware Governor John Carney named Dr. Susan Bunting, the Superintendent of the Indian River School District, as his Secretary of Education for the First State. In a discussion with current Delaware Secretary of Education Dr. Steven Godowsky a week ago, he informed me Bunting’s nomination would take place today. There are Senate Confirmation Hearings on the agenda, but Bunting is not one of them. Godowsky told me she wanted to be confirmed by the time of the State Board of Education meeting tomorrow. It does not look like that will happen as a hearing date has not been set at this point.

Bunting’s nomination was read in for the Delaware Senate yesterday along with all of Carney’s selections. Those could not be formally recognized by the General Assembly until Carney was sworn in which happened yesterday. I don’t believe this means anything as the docket is very full today for nominations. I just talked to a source at Legislative Hall who informed me that if it is not on there it won’t happen today. But I have no doubt it will. It could happen tomorrow or next week knowing how things worked around these chambers.

Many in Delaware education have saluted the possibility of Bunting as the Secretary of Education. Many in lower Delaware were pleased this position went to someone from Sussex County which has not been a practice in many years. Many feel that the Indian River audit investigation seemed to place the blame on Patrick Miller, the former Chief Financial Officer who allegedly abused finances in the district for well over a decade. The scope of the audit investigation was limited to the past few years but many feel Miller’s transgressions occurred years before that. The Delaware Attorney General’s office did announce they would be looking into the matter with Miller shortly after the audit investigation came out.

It remains to be seen if the audit investigation will affect Bunting’s confirmation hearing. I would have to assume someone will bring it up and potentially ask her how she could have not seen what was going on. As Secretary of Education for Delaware, Bunting would be responsible to oversee roughly a third of Delaware’s state budget. I will let readers know when Bunting’s confirmation hearing is scheduled.

At a national level, Betsy DeVos had her own U.S. Senate Confirmation Hearing yesterday but the U.S. Senate has not taken a vote on her nomination by President-Elect Donald Trump as of this writing. Her hearing was somewhat controversial as some Democrat Senators grilled DeVos on her motivations with public education. At one point, Senator Al Franken asked DeVos a question about proficiency and growth and she did not appear to know they are two different things.

Christina Board Meeting Agenda Has A Nuclear Action Item For Consideration Next Week

The Christina Board of Education voted last week to accept the settlement concerning the lawsuit filed by 15 charters against them and the Delaware DOE.  Next week, an action item submitted by a board member could cause a tsunami of controversy.  As well, there is another action item that will certainly cause another ordeal just by being there. Continue reading “Christina Board Meeting Agenda Has A Nuclear Action Item For Consideration Next Week”

Attorney General Opinion On Delaware Pathways Steering Committee Issued Today Is Sloppy, Inconsistent, & Incorrect

On October 7th, the Delaware Pathways Steering Committee held their first meeting with no public notice or an agenda put up 7 days prior to the meeting as required by Delaware state code.  In August, Delaware Governor Jack Markell issued an Executive Order creating this public body.  The only reason I found out about it was due to tweets from the Rodel Foundation and Mark Brainard of Delaware Tech.  I promptly filed a FOIA complaint on October 11th.  Seventeen days later, the Delaware Attorney General’s office has already responded to the FOIA complaint.  To put this in perspective, I filed a FOIA complaint last March which just had the Attorney General opinion issued last week.  BI submitted another FOIA complaint around that same time period and there has been no official opinion released from the Attorney General’s office.  But Alison May from the Delaware DOE did respond in record time with their side of the complaint, but she has before.  So why was this FOIA complaint rushed?

Below is my original request, the acknowledgment from the Attorney General’s office, the Delaware DOE’s response to the complaint, and the opinion on the FOIA complaint issued today.  As well, I am including an email that was still in draft form disputing the facts provided by Alison May in the Delaware DOE’s response.  I truly believed I had more time given the turnaround time on FOIA complaints coming out of the AG’s office but this one had a lightning fast response.  Given the below findings and other inconsistencies with their opinion, I believe this was a very rushed job they wanted to put to bed fast.  But that opens up a whole other can of worms…

Original FOIA Complaint, issued 10/11/16

From: Kevin Ohlandt [mailto:kevino3670@yahoo.com]
Sent: Tuesday, October 11, 2016 9:23 AM
To: OpenGovernment (DOJ) <OpenGovernment@state.de.us>
Subject: FOIA Complaint

 

 Good morning,

I am submitting a FOIA complaint in regards to the newly created Pathways Steering Committee.  This body came out of Executive Order #61, issued by Governor Markell on Thursday, August 11th, 2016.  While there was nothing anywhere indicating they were holding a meeting, tweets appeared on October 7th suggesting the body met as a group.  This is a state group, created by an elected official.  Yet there was no posting of the meeting or an agenda.  Attached are screen shots of the tweets posted by Mark Brainard and the Rodel Foundation of Delaware.  

I take this violation very seriously.  For a group that is supposed to be all about students, I find it ironic they would operate in secrecy with no ability for the public to attend.  This does not translate into anything close to an open government.  

Thank you,

Kevin Ohlandt

9 Crosley Court

Dover, DE 19904

On October 12th, the Delaware Attorney General acknowledged receipt of my FOIA Complaint

October 11, 2016 Correspondence Regarding the Pathways to Prosperity Steering Committee

VIA EMAIL

 

Mr. Kevin Ohlandt

9 Crosley Ct.
Dover, DE 19904
kevino@yahoo.com

RE:     October 11, 2016 Correspondence Regarding the Pathways to Prosperity Steering Committee

Dear Mr. Ohlandt:

            This will acknowledge receipt of your correspondence regarding the Pathways to Prosperity Steering Committee (the “Committee”), received on October 11, 2016, alleging certain violations of the open meetings provisions of Delaware’s Freedom of Information Act, 29 Del. C. §§ 10001-10007 (“FOIA”). We treat your correspondence as a petition for determination pursuant to 29 Del. C. § 10005.  We are forwarding your correspondence to the Committee’s counsel, asking that they respond to your allegations by October 19, 2016.  When we have received the Committee’s response, we will determine whether additional information from either party is required and decide what further action, if any, is appropriate.

Very truly yours, 

                                                                        /s/ Kim Siegel

                                                                        Kim Siegel

                                                                        FOIA Coordinator

KS/ks

cc:        Danielle Gibbs, Chief Deputy Attorney General (via email)

            Michelle E. Whalen, Deputy Attorney General (via email)

            Meredith S. Tweedie, Esq. (via email)

The Delaware Department of Education’s Response to the FOIA Complaint, 10/19/16

Issued today was the official opinion from the Delaware Attorney General’s office:

16-IB23 10/28/2016 FOIA Opinion Letter to Mr. Kevin Ohlandt re: FOIA Complaint Concerning the Pathways to Prosperity Steering Committee

This is the draft I was working on to send to the Attorney General’s office that I believed I had more time to formulate:

October 26th, 2016

Good afternoon Ms. Siegel,

In reviewing Alison May from the Dept. of Education’s response to my FOIA complaint from October 11th, in the letter provided from her on October 19th, she states the following:

…and the draft minutes of the October 7th meeting (attached hereto, along with the other documents discussed at the meeting) will be posted online by the end of this week.
In doing an extensive search this afternoon, I have not been able to see anywhere in the State of Delaware, on the Delawarepathways.org website, or any such place on the World Wide Web where Alison May’s assurance of transparency actually took place.
This attempt at a good-faith effort on the Dept. of Education’s response to the complaint seems a bit odd considering this does not exist.  And while I know the Governor is not obligated to publicly report on where he speaks publicly, the fact that no documentation exists anywhere in regards to this meeting on the internet aside from I wrote about it on Exceptional Delaware and a few tweets from those associated with this group, I find that to be very suspect.  While Ms. May states “this was an oversight on the part of the involved State agencies and organizations and not an intentional effort to circumvent FOIA requirements” in her response, the very minutes she attached to the DOE’s response indicate Luke Rhine from the Department of Education would be in charge of coordinating staffing.  And since Alison May from the Dept. of Education was the responding party for the response to the complaint, that leads me to the belief that the Delaware Dept. of Education would have been the State Agency to fulfill FOIA requirements for a public body.  Since they did not, I take issue with Ms. May’s response about not coordinating with other state agencies and do not believe that to be a true statement. In regards to the reasoning for not making this meeting public to the citizens of Delaware, a statement of “oversight” bears little meaning in the contextual framework of following state code.
In a prior FOIA complaint of mine against the Delaware Dept. of Education, #15-IB12, Danielle Gibbs, the Chief Deputy Attorney General wrote:
The DOE provided no explanation as to why the notices and agendas were posted less than seven days in advance of the meetings, and it concedes that the postings did not comply with FOIA.  The DOE also explained that no action was taken by the AFWG at either meeting.  The DOE apologized and said it would “endeavor to determine the agenda of any future AFWG meetings as of the time of any required public notice of them, and include the agenda in any such required notice.
The notices and agendas for the AFWG meetings held in September violated FOIA because they were not posted at least seven days in advance of the meeting as required by 29 Del. C. §10004(e)(2).  We find that these errors were technical violations that did not negatively affect substantial public rights.[17]  Therefore, we find that no remediation is required.”
Given that the words “substantial public rights” means no action was taken at those meetings, it was during a regulatory process for Regulation 103 where key issues concerning that regulation would have been discussed at the AFWG meetings.  So in a finding that “substantial public rights” did not apply in that situation with pending legislative action, I take issue with that.  As well, in the attached minutes from the minutes for the Pathways Steering Committee, there is talk of legislative action and a discussion with the Delaware General Assembly.
In FOIA Complaint #13-IB05, issued October 1st, 2013, citizens filed a complaint against the Charter School Reform Working Group in regards to having closed-door meetings not open to the public.  In that Attorney General opinion, it states the following:
By letters dated July 31 and August 1, 2012, the Governor extended invitations to a number of individuals to participate in the Working Group as representatives of several public bodies, including the General Assembly, the Department of Education and the State Board of Education, and various private stakeholder groups (the “Invitations”).
While that opinion was an appeal to an earlier complaint, it states the following:
On June 10, 2013, you filed this appeal seeking access to the Working Group’s meeting minutes.  We received a response on July 11, 2013.  The response indicates that the Working Group did not consider itself to be a “public body” within the meaning of section 10002(h), due primarily to the informal nature of the Working Group.

FOIA, with certain exceptions not relevant here, establishes a public right to inspect all “public records” and requires that all meetings of public bodies be open to the public.4   FOIA’s “open meeting” provisions call for advance notice to the public of all public meetings and require public bodies to prepare and make available to the public agendas for and minutes of their public meetings.5

Section 10002(h) provides substantial guidance as to the types of entities and bodies encompassed within the phrase “body of the State.”  That concept, as used in FOIA, includes, among other things, any “group . . . appointed by any . . . public official of the State” that was “impliedly or specifically charged” with making recommendations.9   The Working Group was a “body of the State” within the meaning of section 10002(h).

But the key part from this opinion rests on the following and is key to my own FOIA complaint:

First, this Office consistently has rejected arguments that FOIA’s applicability hinges on adherence to formalities in the creation of a public body, lest FOIA’s goals of openness and government accountability be subverted.14

This was where my draft ended which I fully intended on doing further research on in the next week.

Now here are my issues with the Attorney General’s response to the FOIA complaint.  First off, in Alison May’s response from the Delaware DOE, she said it was under the Delaware Dept. of Education’s control to issue the agenda.  However, in the link on the FOIA complaint, we see an Agenda created on 10/17/16, ten days after the meeting, and it was issued from Governor Markell’s office, not the Delaware DOE.  Furthermore, if this was indeed a public body, why was there no agenda item for public comment?  As well, the minutes submitted by Alison May in the DOE’s response to the FOIA complaint are actually different than those that appear on the Googledrive website.

In the original minutes, submitted with Alison May in the Delaware DOE response to my FOIA complaint, it states the following:

Dr. Brainard charged Mr. Rhine to conduct outreach to Steering Committee members to review the draft strategic plan and collect additional input;

Dr. Brainard charged Mr. Rhine to develop a transition report for partnering state agencies to be used as a transitional tool in planning for the next executive administration;

But in the minutes on the Googledrive for the steering committee, it said this:
Mr. Rhine will conduct outreach to Steering Committee members to review the draft strategic plan and collect additional input;
Mr. Rhine will develop a transition report for partnering state agencies to be used as a transitional tool in planning for the next executive administration;
While the two items look very similar on the surface, the action of taking out Dr. Brainard from the updated minutes which were created on October 24th by Luke Rhine, which the Googledrive suggests that no action was directed to Luke Rhine, the main Delaware Dept. of Education representative, when in reality it was.  This change is substantial.  The opinion issued today states that no action was taken at this meeting so the perception that no “substantial public rights” violations occurred by not making a public body meeting public is visibly changed between the two meeting minutes.  As well, if the Delaware DOE is the state entity that answered the FOIA complaint and is in charge of posting information about it, why is there absolutely nothing on the Career and Technical Education portion of their website?
We are also expected to believe the minutes and agenda they presented are accurate when they were created at the earliest, six days after the meeting, and at the latest, seventeen days after the meeting:
dtccgoogledrivepathways
As well, the response from the Attorney General’s response today shows a link to a website that was not included in the original DOE response to the complaint which means there was further communication between the Attorney General’s office and the parties to which I issued the FOIA complaint against.  In all other FOIA complaints I have submitted, I have been a party to those communications every single step of the way but not with this one.
The Deputy Attorney General who wrote this opinion, Danielle Gibbs, handled a FOIA opinion from a complaint I submitted in 2015.  She made sure I received all communication from the Delaware DOE on that every single step of the way.  But this time I guess I wasn’t so blessed.  She actually wrote in the FOIA opinion issued today:

Moreover, as you note in your Petition, certain members of the Committee published photographs of its meeting on social media either, contemporaneously or immediately following the meeting. We find this to be inconsistent with an intentional failure to adhere to FOIA’s open meetings provisions. We see no evidence of an intent – by the Governor or any other Committee member – to circumvent FOIA. Nor do we see an ongoing pattern of FOIA non-compliance which might warrant extreme remedy.

Here is a newsflash for the Attorney General’s office: having a non-profit foundation and a member of the committee post tweets about a non-transparent meeting of a public body issued by a Governor’s Executive Order, does not point either way towards an intentional failure to adhere to FOIA’s open meetings provisions.  What it shows is someone tweeting.  So to give this extra bearing in a legal opinion about something that was already established to be under the Delaware Dept. of Education’s responsibility is misleading at best.

When you go to this website, there are also extensive plans and reports, involving millions upon millions of dollars of funding.  I would think that would be crucial for the public to see.
pathwaysstrategicplan
To see these large amounts of funds being talked about over the next three fiscal years, please go here: DE Pathways Priority 4 Funding Plan 10/6/16.  Feast your eyes on this document, created on October 6th, one day prior to the Steering Committee meeting.  Furthermore, the two entities planning this funding are not even state agencies, they are 3rd party non-profit companies: United Way of Delaware and the Rodel Foundation.
We have three entities involved with this FOIA complaint: the Delaware Dept. of Education, Governor Markell’s office, and Delaware Technical Community College.  How did the college get involved?  If you look at the Googledrive, the website is listed as:
This is a Del Tech website.  Why is Del Tech storing the minutes for this when it is supposed to be under the authority of the DOE?  And why is Markell’s office issuing the agenda (ten days after the fact)?  When I do a Google search for the past month using “pathways” “steering committee” “dtcc” and “minutes”, nothing comes up on the search.  So how would anyone be able to find these minutes without seeing them in a response to a FOIA complaint?  Even if I take out “dtcc” and replace it with “Delaware” nothing comes up.  Furthermore, there is nothing in the meeting minutes even discussing minutes or where these minutes were to be stored for public consumption.  I believe this to be a very sloppy response from all parties involved and further contend this Pathways Steering Committee is not making a good faith effort with transparency.  By allowing this public body to be open to the public, all three parties involved seemed to have communicated extensively with each other after I filed a FOIA complaint.  I will also add that additional communication provided by the other parties to the Delaware Attorney General’s office needs to be provided to me by the Delaware Attorney General’s office post haste.  The Attorney General opinion states it reviewed the website of the Steering Committee but the only way they would have been able to review that was by getting a link for it.  Since there is no viable way to search for this Steering Committee through internet search engines, I contend they were given this website by someone involved with it.
This Pathways Steering Committee, that is making gigantic decisions about students, in secondary and post-secondary setting, with plans for huge amounts of money at state and local levels, is all about substantial public rights.  When the General Assembly decided not to move forward with the Pathways Steering Committee as sponsored by Senator David Sokola with Senate Bill 277, Governor Markell took it upon himself to issue an Executive Order to create this committee.  When our Governor doesn’t get his way with the General Assembly, it seems he has the authority to bypass that with Executive Orders.
What is the point of a FOIA complaint if the Delaware Department of Justice, under the control of the Delaware Attorney General, has no ability to do anything substantial or with any consequences in regards to a FOIA complaint?  Why did they rush through the opinion on this FOIA Complaint without really checking into everything?  Why was there (in my view) an intentional attempt to lock me out of communication concerning this FOIA complaint when that has not happened in the past?  These are the things I want answers for, as well as Delaware Attorney General Matt Denn himself to issue a statement that this public body has to reconvene their October 7th meeting so the public is well aware of this Steering Committee that is deciding the future of thousands of Delaware students with significant amounts of taxpayer funds.
Updated, 4:53pm, 10/28/16: Since I finished this article, I can now see on the Delaware DOE website where they did a link to this on their website.  But it is filled with completely wrong information, as seen below.  First off, this is not a “task force”, it is a “steering committee”.  Second, it was not passed into law on June 14th, 2016 through Senate Bill 277.  It became law through Governor Markell’s Executive Order #61, issued on August 11th, 2016.  Senate Bill 277 was released from the Senate Education Committee on June 15th, 2016, but it never came up for a vote with the full Senate and the bill died as of the end of the 148th General Assembly on July 1st, 2016.
dedoetaskforces

FOIA Complaint: Delaware Pathways To Prosperity Steering Committee Holds Back-Door Meeting With Governor Markell

rodelpathwaystweet

I have no doubt they are working together.  But the sad part is no one else seems to be invited to the party…

Delaware Governor Jack Markell created a Delaware Pathways To Prosperity Steering Committee on August 11th of this year.  On Friday, October 7th, the steering committee convened with no notice to the public.  As well, there is no announcement of the membership of this committee.  I was only able to find out about this non-transparent meeting by sheer luck in looking at Rodel’s tweets yesterday.  What kind of steering committee, charged with decisions on how to help students become “career-ready”, operates in secret?

brainardtweet

The road to this steering committee was controversial to begin with.  Delaware Senator David Sokola created legislation to begin this committee in the form of Senate Bill 277, but it never made it to a full Senate vote.  Governor Markell went ahead anyway and created this steering committee after objections from Delaware legislators.  And now they are violating FOIA by holding back-door and closed to the public meetings.  Even Governor Markell attended the first meeting but you won’t find notice of this on his public schedule.  Why would he when the group didn’t seem to care if the public went.

brainardtweet2

I filed a FOIA complaint with the Department of Justice ten minutes ago.  Why do these things happen whenever Rodel gets involved?  The same thing happened with the Rodel initiated Competency-Based Learning Guiding Coalition which operated in secret two years ago.  Can we expect this same type of secrecy with our next Governor?  What gives this group the right to discuss student and education matters with no involvement from the public?  What gives them the right to make decisions on what is best for children and teenagers without the ability for the public to view and give public comment about their ideas?  This is not open government.  This is a cabal of people with their own agendas, guiding society towards what they want, not the will of the people.  This nonsense needs to stop immediately.  People in this state actually wonder why I find it so hard to trust.  This is a classic example of why I find it impossible to trust anything associated with Governor Markell and Rodel.

In the above picture, I see Dr. Paul Herdman with Rodel, State Board of Education President Dr. Teri Quinn Gray, Director of Career & Technical Education STEM Initiatives Luke Rhine, Del-Tech President Dr. Mark Brainard, and New Castle County Vo-Tech Superintendent Victoria Gehrt.  I’ve seen some of the other faces before but if anyone else can fill in the blanks that would be most appreciated.  Feel free to leave the names in the comments.

Epic Fail of the Week: Afterschool Task Force Holds First Meeting In The Morning

For a task force created to discuss issues surrounding the Statewide Afterschool Initiative Learning, it would stand to reason that many students would participate in an afterschool program because their parents are working.  Logic would dictate that if you were going to have public meetings about such an initiative, they would be held in the evening when working parents could attend.  But not with this task force!  They had their first meeting this morning at 9am.  Today was also the second day of school for most Delaware students.

And who is on this task force?  Obviously not too many working parents who should be the primary stakeholders on a group like this.  Or was that intentional?

SAILTaskForceMembership

Jack Polidori is with the National Education Association, Jim Kelly is with YMCA, Michelle Taylor is with United Way, Richard Heffron is with the Delaware Chamber of Commerce, John Fisher-Klein is from the Newark Day Nursery & Children’s Center, Sheila Bravo is from the Delaware Alliance for Non-Profit Advancement, and Carol Scott is with the University of Delaware.  And we have Rep. Valerie Longhurst and Senator Nicole Poore.  And regular parents?  Nope, not on this task force.  Shut out again!

This was their agenda:

SAILTaskForce

 

Teacher Evaluation Bill Will Be Heard In Senate Education Committee On Wednesday

I was told by many people there would be no Senate Education Committee meeting next week.  That appears to have changed since an agenda is up, and House Bill 399 is on it!  The meeting will be on Wednesday at 2:3opm in the Senate Majority Caucus Room (first floor, behind the Senate Chamber).  If you are an educator in Delaware who has some free time, I would strongly suggest attending and lending your support.  The bell will start ringing at 3:00pm for the full Senate to convene in session.  So if you want to give public comment, I would suggest using your time wisely but also giving full support of the teacher evaluation bill.

Thank you Senator Sokola for making this happen.  Sokola tends to add legislation at the last minute.  It is my sincere hope that his and Kim William’s charter audit bill (House Bill 435) appears on the Senate Education Committee agenda.  Both bills got unanimous votes in the House last week.

Will The WEIC Redistricting Plan Die In The House Education Committee Next Week?

That was quick!  In the same day the WEIC redistricting plan turns into pending legislation, the bill is also placed on the House Education Committee agenda for next week!  I’m not sure what this fast-track means.  But we are well into May and the General Assembly finishes up on June 30th.  But there are some other potentially controversial bills on the agenda as well!

House Joint Resolution #12, the now famous Wilmington Education Improvement Commission redistricting bill introduced today, turns all the WEAC and WEIC recommendations into a bill.  The WEIC did what they had to do, the State Board of Education finally passed it in March, now it is the General Assembly’s turn.  This is where this bill could either move forward or actually die in committee.  While you can’t go by who the sponsors are on a bill, it is a good sign of who will definitely say yes when it comes up for a vote.  But with this bill being so Wilmington and New Castle County specific, it would stand to assume that those who are legislators up there and support the redistricting would sponsor the bill.  The House Education Committee has 14 members.  The following members are sponsors on the bill: Jaques, Bentz, Bolden, Lynn, Osienski, and Potter.  Red Clay legislators Kim Williams (Democrat), Joseph Miro (Republican) and Michael Ramone (Republican), who also serve on the committee, are not sponsors on the bill.  There are no House Republican sponsors whatsoever on the bill.  Which leads me to believe (and this is only speculation on my part) none of them will support this.  Which also takes Dukes, Hensley, and Kenton off the yes list.  That leaves two other Democrats on the House Education Committee who aren’t sponsors on the bill but also come from the Wilmington area: Sean Matthews and Deb Heffernan.  Both of them did not vote on Senate Bill 122 when it had the full House vote last June, along with Mike Ramone.  So this bill could die in committee with 6 yes and 8 no. Specifically, the bill would be tabled.

Once again, this is merely speculation on my part and I have not heard anything from anyone on this.  I imagine Kim Williams could be swayed if House Bill 30 were also given equal merit and taken out of the appropriations committee.  But it would still face a full House vote.  If it passed then, it would go to the Senate Education Committee, and if released from there it would be up for a full Senate vote.  That is a lot of variables.  If I that were my bargaining chip, I wouldn’t cash it in until House Bill 30 is signed by the Governor!  But it still needs a majority vote.

To get out of the House Education Committee, House rules state:

Bills and resolutions shall be reported out of committee by a majority of the committee or subcommittee by signing the backer. A bill or resolution may be tabled in any committee or subcommittee by a majority vote of the full committee or subcommittee.

This is assuming everyone attends the committee meeting as well.  I could picture some members who don’t want to be put in a position of killing the WEIC bill to just not show up!  It wouldn’t be the first time.  But this is also an election year.  If the majority of the constituents in your district don’t support WEIC and the bill winds up passing, an absent from committee could potentially change an election if it ticks off enough voters.  This chess game could get a checkmate next week!

But there are other bills on the agenda as well:

A somewhat odd school choice bill would give priority to students who have certain medical conditions.  House Bill 229 states “if a parent, relative, guardian or caregiver can demonstrate that they would be able to respond quicker to an emergency at the selected school, the student will receive a priority consideration.”  This one could open a big old can of worms!

The Restorative Justice Senate Bill 207 which seeks to reduce suspensions unless it is for fighting, drug offenses are other such serious infractions has a lot of support.  The bill would also put restorative justice techniques in Delaware schools.  But with the recent Howard High School tragedy, I wouldn’t be surprised to see an amendment or two tacked on this one!

House Bill 355, which was just filed on Tuesday, would make computer science a mandatory course in high school and the credit would go towards the math or science graduation requirements.  When I put this up the other day, many folks on Facebook were shocked this wasn’t already a requirement.  I expect this will get a quick release without a lot of discussion.

If I know the WEIC crowd, this will be a packed House (literally) next week.  Especially after this article comes out!  As I said yesterday, get there early!

UPDATED WITH VERY IMPORTANT INFORMATION!!! Parents Concerned About Murder At Howard High School Should Go To District Board Meeting Monday Night

Updated, 8:32am: I have just heard from a few sources that the district has changed their meeting to their district office at 4pm.  And the meeting will be held in a conference room that holds a maximum of 15 people.  Apparently there is a Town Hall at Stubbs Elementary School tomorrow night which is being led by Wilmington Councilman Darius Brown, which precipitated the time change for the board meeting.  The district did reach out to advise me this is the reason for the board meeting change.  Several folks were upset about this, and I did suggest to the district they might want to change the board meeting to another night when parents and members of the community are more easily able to attend.  There is another Town Hall this week for parents to talk about the situation.  I will update that information when I know when and where.  One thing I would remind everyone to do is think of Amy and her family and friends.  And please continue praying for all of them.

Howard High School of Technology belongs to the New Castle County Vocational-Technical School District.  The district has a board meeting Monday night, 4/25, at St. George’s Technical High School in their Media Center at 7pm.  Howard was the high school where Amy died last Thursday.  I believe the district has a lot to answer for.  While I don’t believe the district is directly responsible for what happened to Amy, there were circumstances that allowed the situation to happen in the first place.

NCCVTAgenda42516

Why are students allowed to enter the school at 7:15am in the morning to gather and do what they please.  I’m hearing hall monitors are sparse, when they do come, and when they arrive on time.  I’ve heard many who want to blame the teachers for what happened.  Nope.  They are in district mandated professional development during some of these mornings.  To accommodate this, the district changed the start time for the first classes a couple days a week.  Let’s make one thing clear right off the get-go: teachers hate professional development.  I don’t care how many surveys the Delaware Dept. of Education dredges out.  The abuse of Delaware teachers doesn’t begin and end with their evaluations.

Our school districts have become so enamored with the Delaware Way, that horrible situation where all tables must come to the table and compromise while the more powerful of the parties ends up getting their way (in most cases the state DOE/Rodel Foundation for education).

Could Amy’s death have been prevented?  I would like to think it could have.  One thing is crystal clear.  The discipline and fighting figures we see are not honest.  There may be a few out there, but I think a lot is going unreported.  There are things our schools are trying to hide which is making problems worse, not better.  In many of our schools, students hit teachers all the time.  They curse and roam the halls in some schools.  Some students are expelled or sent to alternative schools in the hopes they will become better students.  But the class sizes in these schools now make it impossible for a teacher there to get anything done.  There is also this absurd culture where students have no authoritative role models anymore.  Some of them don’t get it at home or school.  A school should not be the Band-Aid to cure what ails so many of our students.  But this seems to be what our state and the corporate education reform companies want.

Don’t get me wrong: students should not encourage fighting, nor should they build a blockade so teachers or other adults can’t stop what is going on.  The students involved should be punished to the fullest extent of the law.  In my opinion, those who stood and watched while filming the tragedy should be held accountable as well.  They are just as guilty.  But the schools, districts and administrators who stand back and let these things happen time and time again need to realize how serious these things can get.  A student died in one of our schools in Delaware.  She was murdered.  We can’t forget that and it would dishonor Amy’s life to think otherwise.

The parents of students at Howard High School of Technology have every right to voice their concerns.  I strongly encourage all of them to attend the board meeting Monday night in Middletown.  If they are unable to get there, other parents should offer a ride or perhaps the district should arrange busing for them so they can make their voices heard.  This meeting could get very real and the district may be forced to hear things they would rather not hear.  But I’m sure Amy’s parents heard something they never wanted to hear the day she died.

The IEP Task Force Is Back! Too Bad Nobody Knows & They Are Having Non-Public Meetings…

Closed

Today the IEP Task Force reconvened in a meeting about the new IEP Plus 5.0.  Together with the Governor’s Advisory Council for Exceptional Citizens (GACEC), a meeting was held to go over the new functionalities of the IEP computer system that former Chair of the IEP Task Force Matt Denn wanted to scrap altogether.  This meeting was SO important nobody knew about it.  And unless legislation has been introduced extending Senate Concurrent Resolution #63 from the 147th General Assembly, anything with the name “IEP Task Force” is technically illegal.

cantbloghere

While pretty much nobody showed up to the meeting from the old IEP Task Force, I find it interesting the DOE would stage a meeting in conjunction with the GACEC and this mythical new IEP Task Force.  None of the legislators from the previous task force showed up.  Matt Denn wasn’t there.  So who is running this?  Apparently, the Director of the Exceptional Children Resources Group Mary Ann Mieczkowski ran the meeting.  She was on the IEP Task Force.  And she is also a member of the GACEC.

closedtothepublic

So we have a non-public meeting of two very public entities.  Say the IEP Task Force was just a name thrown on over a month ago (which was when an email was sent to different task force members advising them of this meeting today).  The GACEC should have definitely put this on the Delaware Public Meeting Calendar.  But I guess non-transparency is okay if nobody finds out about it!

ParentsNotPermitted

From what I have learned, the meeting was very boring.  It was a lot of technical lingo about the updated computer system run by Sunguard.  Sunguard also runs e-school, that clever little database that houses EVERYTHING about your child.  IEP Plus is the system where ALL IEPs are stored.  But that’s not the point.  I’ve been in IEP meetings where IEP Plus sucks the oxygen out of the room and technical difficulties take up far too much time.  I’m sure it isn’t just schools and the DOE who are fed up by it.  But here is the DOE, probably paying tons of money for this upgrade with no one the wiser.  By denying any parent the ability to go to this meeting, I have to wonder what other meetings are going on in this state behind closed doors that should be open to the public.  I’m sure there are plenty!  Like I’ve said a couple times: “Delaware, first to sign the Constitution, the last to follow it!”

authorized personnel

Delaware Cyber Security Advisory Council Violates FOIA In Their First Meeting

As reported by Randall Chase with the Associated Press yesterday, Delaware’s Cyber Security Advisory Council kicked off their first meeting with a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) violation.  But what the article didn’t cover was how the state tried to cover its tracks after the meeting.

James Collins, the state’s chief information officer and head of the council, then said the panel would meet in executive session, even though Delaware’s Freedom of Information Act requires that such closed-door meetings be noticed ahead of time.

But do they have the ability to time travel into the future to give that notice?  Apparently, they do!

This is the agenda for the first meeting as shown on Delaware’s Public Meeting Calendar website.

Cyber Security Real Agenda on DE Public Calendar

It looks like they have everything covered, right?  Including a FOIA Exemption Proposal because they know they are violating FOIA.  Here is the page from the Public Meeting Calendar website:

DEPublMtgCalDECybSecAdvCoun

Looks okay to me, right?

ChangeDate

In the above picture, taken from the bottom left-hand corner of the Public Meeting Calendar notice, it shows three change dates.  3/3/2016 was the original posting of the meeting, 3/22/2016 I would assume had the addition of the FBI Agent giving the briefing on the unclassified threat, and the 3/23/2016 change was to give notice about the group going into executive session to discuss the unclassified threat.  So maybe Randall Chase got it all wrong, right?

Cyber Security Agenda

Nope.  This picture is the properties of the PDF.  If you right-click with your mouse on a PDF, it tells you when a PDF was created and modified.  This PDF was actually created yesterday, 3/23/2016 at 3:17:16pm.  It was a brand new agenda.  The part blacked out is my own personal location for my computer which I didn’t think was necessary to throw out there so I will fully admit I blacked it out in the picture.

Someone should really file a FOIA complaint on this one to the Delaware Department of Justice!  Oh wait, I already did…

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

11 November 1992

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

Dear Hillary:

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

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

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

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

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

What follows comes in three places:

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

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

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

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

The Vision

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

 

An Economic Strategy Based on Skill Development

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

 

The Schools

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

 

Postsecondary Education and Work Skills

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

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

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

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Education and Training for Employed and Unemployed Adults

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

 

Labor Market Systems

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

 

Some Common Features

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

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

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

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

 

[Page: E1822]

Major Components of the Program

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

HIGH SKILLS FOR ECONOMIC COMPETITIVENESS PROGRAM

Developing System Standards

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

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

Commentary:

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

Collaborative Design and Development Program

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

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

Organizing the Executive Branch for Human Resouces Development

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

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

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

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

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

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

Getting Consensus on the Vision

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

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

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

 

  •     •     •

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

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

[signed: Marc]

Marc Tucker

END

 

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

Governor’s Advisory Council for Exceptional Citizens Website Is A Hot Mess! Transparency Non-Existent!

The Delaware Governor’s Advisory Council for Exceptional Citizens (GACEC) website appears to be in severe disarray.  The last agenda for one of their meetings is for their March 17th, 2015 meeting.  The last minutes are from their June 2015 meeting.  When does this group meet?  On the Delaware Public Meetings Calendar it shows their last meeting was November 17th, 2015.  No agenda was on the calendar either.  Are they even meeting anymore?

I used to get emails from this group when I was on their distribution list.  But once I blasted them for their opposition of the parent opt-out legislation, House Bill 50, I was banned from this email list.  My guess, this is now an “inclusive club” in Delaware that doesn’t have to follow state law for public meetings or transparency.  As a group that is supposed to represent the disabled of Delaware, this is very disheartening to see.  I expect more out of any state agency or council, but I expect much more out of this group.  Is Wendy Strauss still the Executive Director?  Is Robert Overmiller still the Chair of GACEC?  When are their meetings?  They do have a calendar of their meetings for the year, but that isn’t saying much without the other necessary state law compliance in effect.

GACEC

Why does this group think they don’t have to be visible with their activities?

House Bill 50 Is Not Dead! Sign The Petition To Pete Schwartzkopf For A Full House Vote On The Veto Override

SchwartzkopfPetition

Despite what others have said, House Bill 50, the opt-out legislation in Delaware, is not dead.  It isn’t finished.  It is merely hiding in Delaware Speaker of the House Pete Schwartzkopf’s desk drawer.  It is on the ready list, but Schwartzkopf has not put it on the agenda for a full House vote.  What is he afraid of?  That the House and Senate will pass the veto override?  That the lame-duck Governor Markell will be upset if his veto is overturned?  We the people demand House Bill 50 gets a full vote for the veto override in the Delaware House and Senate.

I am giving this petition a long time to breathe because the General Assembly doesn’t return until March 8th.  I need all your help to make this happen.  I need you to share this petition with every single person you know in Delaware.  I want Schwartzkopf to see this with no less than 20,000 signatures from Delaware citizens.  We have a month to make this happen! Let’s Do It!!!!! To go to the Change.org petition, please click the link:

Pete Schwartzkopf: Put HB50 On The Agenda For A Full House Vote On The Veto Override!

Family Foundations Academy Considers Filing A D&O… Say What Now?

On the agenda for Family Foundations Academy’s finance committee, there is a very odd item.  Charles McDowell, also the President of FFA and East Side Charter School’s board, runs this committee.  He is also an attorney and knows his stuff.  So why would FFA potentially file a D&O Insurance Claim?  What is a D&O?

It stands for Directors and Officers.  There are several reasons why a non-profit corporation (which charter schools are) would file a D&O.  From the Travelers Insurance website:

Coverage for defense costs and damages (awards and settlements) arising out of wrongful act allegations and lawsuits brought against an organizations board of directors and/or officers.

Wikipedia goes a bit deeper:

Directors and officers liability Insurance (often called D&O) is liability insurance payable to the directors and officers of a company, or to the organization(s) itself, as indemnification (reimbursement) for losses or advancement of defense costs in the event an insured suffers such a loss as a result of a legal action brought for alleged wrongful acts in their capacity as directors and officers. Such coverage can extend to defence costs arising out of criminal and regulatory investigations/trials as well; in fact, often civil and criminal actions are brought against directors/officers simultaneously. Intentional illegal acts, however, are typically not covered under D&O policies.

I am not aware of any current lawsuits against FFA, but I did go to the Delaware Court Connect website and there is nothing listed there.  Just to be on the safe side, I checked the following individuals as well: Sean Moore, Tennell Brewington, and Charles McDowell.  Nothing with them either.  Which means something may be coming.  So what could possibly cause McDowell and the school’s finance committee to consider filing this type of claim?

All charter schools, as corporations, are required to file an IRS Form 990.  The last one FFA has on their website is from 2012, and it shows Brewington as the Principal Officer and Moore as the Co-Director.  As everyone in Delaware surely knows, the two were alleged to have made out with hundreds of thousands of dollars from the school piggy bank…

Could it be… is it… are we finally going to know something on the fate of the former heads of school at FFA?

Here’s the agenda:

FFAD&O

First State Montessori Academy Enrollment Preference Arguments Heat Up

 

fsma-icons

On Saturday, I published an article concerning First State Montessori Academy’s major modification request to increase their enrollment and add middle school grades.  To say this has been controversial would be an understatement.  Public Comment, whether it was on this blog or through the official public comment channel on the DOE Charter School Office website.  Last night, the Public Hearing for First State Montessori’s major modification request was held.  When the transcript from the hearing becomes available I will put it up here.

At their December 2nd board meeting, First State Montessori talked about forming a committee to explore the option of increasing their enrollment and adding extra grades.  The board passed a motion to increase their enrollment by 5-15%.  School leader Courtney Fox said they would have to get a major modification request to the DOE by 12/31/15.  What is very interesting here is the school leader’s mention of the Delaware Met building next to them, at 920 N. French St.  While she doesn’t come out and say it, it is obvious the school is assuming Delaware Met would be closed.  The board doesn’t even mention the possibility of adding middle school grades at this point in time either, only adding more Kindergarten and 1st grade classrooms.  As well, Fox, who is NOT a member of the board, announces a future meeting to discuss the possibility of the modification request and increasing their enrollment.  Why did the board not vote on this?  Does Fox run the board as well as the school?

On December 19th, an agenda for a 12/28/15 board meeting was put up on their website.  It indicated their would be an update on the Exploring Expansion Committee.  One would assume the board voted at that meeting on their major modification request and to add middle school grades.  By this time, the announcement by the State Board of Education over Del Met’s closure was old news.  Three days after Christmas is a very odd time to have a board meeting.  While the board did do the right thing in putting up the agenda at least a week prior to the meeting, how much ability was there for members of the public to know about this meeting and potentially weigh in on the topic?  On the flip side, the State Board voted on the charter revocation for Del Met on 12/16 so the school had to see what would happen with that decision before moving forward.  But I still find it ironic there is no definitive plan set in motion earlier in December to add middle school grades to the school and all of a sudden it materializes in their major modification request submitted on 12/30/15.

This is merely conjecture on my part, but we already know the DOE suggested DAPSS submit a major modification request instead of a minor modification request.  How much input should the DOE have in suggesting modification requests to Delaware charter schools?  And what of Kendall Massett with the Delaware Charter Schools Network who seems to be a intermediary between charter schools and the Delaware DOE?  I will be very upfront and say something really doesn’t smell right here.  And with all these modification requests coming from charter schools how can we be sure this could not somehow influence the State Board of Education’s vote on the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission redistricting plan?

In the meantime, check out what folks had to say about this hot topic:

“J” said:

Kevin, the interest in Montessori thing is as easy as taking a tour or even talking for a moment to someone from the school in the community. They are at the expo and other events. Have held info sessions at local libraries, etc. It’s easy. The Montessori model is very different. There are mixed grade classrooms, no traditional desks, no traditional homework packets. Very different and something that families and students should be aware of. “Interest” in this case is awareness of the differences, that’s all.
Ask about it – learn about it. Heck, e mail me. This doesn’t cherry pick anything.

Eve Buckley said:

The questions raised in the final comment have been asked since FSMA opened. According to DOE’s “school profiles” for this school year, FSMA students are 65% white and 8% low-income. The two districts surrounding it are 44% white, 35% low-income (Red Clay) and 32% white, 41% low-income (Christina); those figures include suburban regions with less poverty than the city. So FSMA could clearly be doing more to attract and retain a student population more reflective of its surrounding communities (or even of the countywide student population). No pressure in that direction from its authorizer?
Note that Cab and Newark Charter, also very popular “choice” options, also have low-income % around 8. That seems to be the sweet spot for appealing to middle class public school consumers in the area (if you can’t achieve the 2% attained via testing by CSW).

Mike O said:

For families who “choose not to apply” to charters such as NCS or Montessori, I am sure many don’t even realize those are public schools their child is eligible for. Which is how you get to 8% low income without testing

jane s said:

it’s especially sad to see this happening at an elementary school. the goal should be to give children the best start possible regardless of their background. this could be a place that helps children enter middle school and high school on equal ground, but instead it’s just adding to the divide. nothing will change if people don’t speak out.

Eve Buckley said:

I agree! It is really sad–waste of an opportunity.

jenn said:

hi. i think the practices of fsma are fair and comprehensive. interest becomes a priority only because the montessori method is not of interest to everyone, much like a dual-language school like aspira is not of high-priority to many families. if you are to apply to fsma, because it’s a school in your neighborhood, without carrying any interest in montessori principles, then how detrimental will that student be in the classroom? (in terms of congruence, not as a human!) i do not know why the five-mile radius is not ‘more of a priority’, but i believe the admissions process does indeed actively reach out to all areas throughout delaware. it just depends on who researches montessori/has experience with it, and who thinks it is an important addition to the learning process. shown by the small number of montessori schools across the country, and the small classroom size within those schools, one can only surmise that is it not a hot topic among majority of families in delaware or beyond, regardleses of SES, ethnicity or neighborhood. we are ultimately creatures of comfort, and stick to the path most traveled. a school like this, or any other magnet, charter, votech, etc has enrollment because of interest and the desire to trek the brambly, gravel path. please see the good nature of such schools. i know it doesn’t sell like trash-talking does, but in a society deprived of an identity, the journey to recreating one for delaware schools could stand to be a lot less hotheaded. thank you.

John Young said:

No idea who Jenn is, but maybe she should join that sorry CSAC team which appears to olnly authorize losing propositions in DE Charterland. Bet it would be a great fit for a truly dysfunctional organization.

Natalie Ganc said:

I think that a stipulation should be put on all of these charter schools claiming that their school panders to their geographical radius: They should have to go pound-the-pavement (pamphlet in hand) to educate their neighbors to inform them of all of the benefits their child will receive if they choose to enroll. I say this, because I am quite certain that the folks living in the high-poverty areas have no idea what some charter schools are all about.

And from the official public comment section on the DOE website:

 

Did The State Board Of Education Break The Law By Not Voting On The WEIC Redistricting Plan?

Hourglass

If the State Board does not approve the plan as submitted by the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission, it shall notify the chairperson of the Commission in writing, give reasons why the plan was not approved, and allow the Commission to resubmit the plan within 60 days of the chairperson receiving the notice of denial. -Senate Bill 122, 148th General Assembly

Yesterday, the Delaware State Board of Education declined to even vote on the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission redistricting final plan.  By doing so, they may have violated the letter of the law determined by Senate Bill 122.  They voted unanimously to amend their motion to vote on the plan and kicked the plan back to WEIC.  They are going to draft their questions and concerns and will present this to WEIC prior to the end of January.  The problem with the law comes when they DO vote on the plan.  If it is after January 31st, they have violated the sixty day window for a response from WEIC if they deny the plan because they have to act on it by March 31st, 2016.  The Delaware State Board of Education clearly doesn’t understand the legal process for this plan, even though the Delaware Department of Education has three Deputy Attorney Generals from the Delaware Department of Justice.

They are not sending a letter of denial, they are sending a letter addressing concerns and questions about the plan.  They should have actually voted on the plan as is, and then the sixty day window would have kicked in.  Unless the State Board of Education puts an agenda on the Delaware Public Meeting Calendar seven days prior to a meeting where they will vote on the plan, which would have to be by January 24th, this Sunday, they have violated the law twice: first by not taking action on the plan prior to the sixty-day window, and then by not putting up an agenda for a public meeting seven days prior to the meeting.  WEIC is not obligated in any way whatsoever to honor the State Board of Education’s request for information.  In fact, by allowing the State Board to perform in this illegal fashion, it could land them in violation as well.  The clock is ticking…tick-tock, tick-tock…