Complete US DOE FOIA Showing Delaware DOE & US DOE Emails

On December 23rd, 2015, I found letters sent from the United States Department of Education sent to all the state DOEs about potential opt out penalties for the 2015-2016 year if schools went below the 95% participation rate.  In response, I sent a very detailed Freedom of Information Act request to the US DOE.  For the first time, you can view the entire response in its entirety.  I wrote an article based on some key parts of the US DOE FOIA response last month.

Julie Glasier is the main contact person for Delaware at the US DOE.  Many of these emails are in response to the Delaware School Success Framework which was met with stiff resistance last fall because of the opt out penalties against schools.  Keep in mind that the US DOE put Delaware’s ESEA Flexibility Waiver Request in this set of emails twice (since I asked for all attachments), but there are key and vital emails that appear between those and after.

While the Monique Chism email below doesn’t really delve into anything Delaware specific, it is very interesting to see who is on the US DOE’s Ed Title I ListServ.  These are emails that automatically go out to any of the participants who request to be on the list.  There are several redactions based on emails going to gmail or yahoo accounts.  As well, there are several emails going to outside education companies.

Of note in the below email between Penny Schwinn and Julie Glasier is the timing.  Penny Schwinn’s last day at the Delaware DOE was January 6th…

I found the next set of emails to be very interesting.  These are between Lindsay O’Mara and Ann Whalen:

Ann Whalen Elementary and Secondary Education Senior Advisor to the Secretary, Delegated the Duties of the Assistant Secretary of Elementary and Secondary Education
Lindsay O’Mara Communications and Outreach Deputy Assistant Secretary for State and Local Engagement

Lindsay O’Mara was the former Education Policy Advisor for Delaware Governor Jack Markell.  She obtained a job at the US DOE, but I wasn’t aware of her title there until I just looked now.  This link shows O’Mara was a political appointee but does not show who appointed her.  What makes this email exchange very interesting is the redacted information.  Was O’Mara sending work-related emails through a personal email account?  Or was this part of her interview process with US DOE?  If it was the latter, why would they include that in a FOIA request since it would have been a personal nature?  If not, how many other state employees are conducting state business through personal emails?  I have seen several Delaware DOE FOIA responses that don’t show any emails other than the state email address.  Would they even know if their employees are using outside emails to conduct state business?

There you have it!  There are little easter eggs all over these emails.  If you see anything I haven’t touched on in the previous article linked above or this one, please let me know!  Some takeaways I got from this is the fact there were NO emails sent from Arne Duncan, John King, Governor Markell, Mark Murphy or Secretary Godowsky.

I did find an official announcement from US DOE this morning regarding Lindsay O’Mara’s new job at US DOE:

USDOELindsayOMara

Breaking News: ESEA To Continue For “Several Years” Even With Implementation Of ESSA

Yesterday, I broke the  news that the Delaware Department of Education was going to be submitting another ESEA waiver.  Even though the Every Student Succeeds Act forbids these waiver schemes.  I reached out to the Delaware DOE for more information on this latest waiver, and received the following information from Alison May, the Public Information Officer at the DOE.  Below is what Alison sent me, including the letter Ann Whalen sent to all the states, along with the letter states would need to sign to get the waiver.  Note the part I bolded which extends ESEA waivers well after ESSA will be implemented.  There are serious games afoot here.  Is John King already abusing his authority?  Will Congressman John Kline (MN) intervene and stop this dead in its tracks?

Meanwhile, like with all previous ESEA flexibility waivers, state education agencies are required to get public comment on the waivers.  With three weeks time, how can this happen?  Some district boards don’t meet again until after the April 15th deadline.  Don’t they also have to submit any ESEA waivers to the Delaware Education Support System (DESS) advisory council?  How could that happen, as required by Delaware law, if the meeting scheduled for this week is canceled and no meetings are scheduled between now and April 22nd?

DESSMeetingCanceled

We are already losing a week due to Easter/Spring break.  As well, the Delaware General Assembly will be off for two weeks after this week.  How is the Delaware DOE going to make sure everyone sees this?  Or is just merely putting a notice up, hidden away on their website, or sending out a tweet, sufficient?  Thank God I find these things when I do!  This is the same kind of non-transparent information they put out there like the Accountability Framework Working Group last year.  They count on folks not looking for or even knowing where to find this information.  Too bad they didn’t count on me!

If the Delaware DOE’s deadline is April 15th, and this information is due to US DOE on April 22nd, does this mean the State Board of Education will put it up as an action item at their April 21st meeting?  Will they allow public comment on an action item which they typically don’t due to their archaic rules?

FW: FW: Letter from Senior Advisor Whalen re: Speaking and Listening Waiver People 

Attachments

  • Speaking and Listening Waiver Request Template.docx

 Per your request, please see below and attached. This guidance also is posted on USED’s website.
Alison
From: Honeysett, Adam [mailto:Adam.Honeysett@ed.gov]
Sent: Wednesday, March 02, 2016 9:17 AM
Subject: Letter from Senior Advisor Whalen re: Speaking and Listening Waiver

EXAMPLE OF REQUEST TO WAIVE THE SPEAKING AND LISTENING REQUIREMENT UNDER THE EVERY STUDENT SUCCEEDS ACT (ESSA)

Ann Whalen

Senior Advisor to the Secretary

Delegated the Duties of Assistant

Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education

Office of Elementary and Secondary Education

U.S. Department of Education

400 Maryland Avenue, SW

Washington, DC 20202

 

Dear Ms. Whalen:

I am writing to request a waiver, pursuant to section 8401(b) of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), of section 1111(b)(3)(C)(ii) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB), that [State]’s assessment system measure the full range of the State’s academic content standards. [State] requests this waiver only with respect to measuring the State’s speaking and listening content standards, which are part of the State’s reading/language arts academic content standards.  [State] requests this waiver because it is not practicable at this time for [State] to administer a large-scale summative assessment that includes speaking and listening standards.  This waiver will advance student achievement by permitting [State] to have a valid and reliable assessment system that measures the full range of the rest of the State’s academic content standards while providing time to complete the work necessary to have a valid and reliable measure of speaking and listening content standards.

[State] requests this waiver to allow for continued State and local receipt of Title I, Part A funding in good standing while [State] completes additional work to develop accurate, valid, reliable, and instructionally useful assessments related to speaking and listening. This waiver is requested for the 2015-2016 school year [(if requesting) through the 2016-2017 school year].  [State] assures that, if it is granted the requested waiver —

  • It will continue to meet all other requirements of section 1111(b)(3) of the ESEA, as amended by NCLB, and implementing regulations with respect to all State-determined academic content standards and assessments, including reporting student achievement and school performance, disaggregated by subgroups, to parents and the public.
  • It will continue to work toward assessing speaking and listening consistent with the State’s academic content standards.

 

Prior to submitting this waiver request, [State] provided all LEAs in the State with notice and a reasonable opportunity to comment on this request. [State] provided such notice by [insert description of notice, e.g., sending a letter to each LEA on [date] or sending an email to each LEA on [date]] (see copy of notice attached).  Copies of all comments that [State] received from LEAs in response to this notice are attached hereto.  [State] also provided notice and a reasonable opportunity to comment regarding this waiver request to the public in the manner in which [State] customarily provides such notice and opportunity to comment to the public [e.g., by publishing a notice of the waiver request in the following newspapers; by posting information regarding the waiver request on its website] (see attached copy of public notice).

Please feel free to contact me by phone or email at [contact information] if you have any questions regarding this request.  Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

US DOE Promises Funding Cuts To States Who Miss Participation Rates Two Years In A Row, Contact President Obama Now!

In a letter sent to all states in America, the United States Department of Education is pulling the lever towards federal funding cuts to states who have participation rates below 95% on state assessments two years in a row.

If a State with participation rates below 95% in the 2014−2015 school year fails to assess at least 95% of
its students on the statewide assessment in the 2015−2016 school year, ED will take one or more of the
following actions: (1) withhold Title I, Part A State administrative funds; (2) place the State’s Title I,
Part A grant on high-risk status and direct the State to use a portion of its Title I State administrative
funds to address low participation rates; or (3) withhold or redirect Title VI State assessment funds.

Yes, they are actually doing it.  I would go with option number 3 for Delaware.  We don’t want your stupid state assessment funds.  Go ahead.  I dare you to do this US DOE.  You are nothing but bullies, flexing your muscles in direct opposition to parental rights.  You are complete idiots if you think parents are going to take this lying down.  We challenge you.  Miss Ann Whalen, “delegated the authority to perform the functions and duties of Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education”.  Who gave you this authority?  The departing Arne Duncan or the incoming John King?  You still don’t get it, do you?  Schools cannot and should not be punished for parents exercising their God-given, fundamental and constitutional rights for their children when it comes to education.  Yes, all schools are required to make sure students participate in the test.  That means the schools can’t tell parents to opt out.  There is nothing in your insane, ridiculous, mind-boggling, hateful, punitive, and disrespectful law about parents exercising their rights.  You are twisting the knife in public education.  America is tired of your high-stakes assessments meant to punish schools and feed the wallets of corporate education reformers.  You have sold your soul to Wall Street. 

President Obama, you are a lame-duck.  Are you really going to have this be your education legacy?  Choosing business over children?  Cutting funds to schools where standardized testing doesn’t mean a damn thing to students whose lives have not improved under your presidency?  You disrespect parents.  You disrespect minorities.  You disrespect students with disabilities.  You disrespect teachers.  You disrespect schools.  You disrespect state rights.  You disrespect those in low-income or poverty.  I disrespect you if this is really the route you want to take.  If this is something you are okay with, if this is something you allow, you should be prepared to take the heat for it.  I invite every single parent of a child in public school in America to call you now, until this mandate is GONE, and voice their vehement opposition to this totalitarian rule from the federal government on education.  Call today.  The phone number for the White House is 202-456-1111.  You can email President Obama here: https://www.whitehouse.gov/contact and tweet him at @WhiteHouse or you can comment on every single article the White House puts out here: https://www.facebook.com/WhiteHouse/timelineTell the President your child is not his child.  Your child is not the property of the United States Department of Education.  Tell him your child is YOUR CHILD.  And you know what is best for them in determining YOUR CHILD’S education. 

To read the US DOE’s ultimate bully letter to the states, please see below: