House Bill 261 would remove the Delaware Advisory Council on Career and Technical Education in legislation introduced today by State Rep. Ruth Briggs-King. In the bill, Briggs-King states over $330,000 was spent on this council in FY 2017. I say get rid of it. We have spent far too much money, time, and resources to what amounts to special interest for Delaware Tech. That’s what this is. The Pathways to Prosperity initiative launched by former Governor Jack Markell also puts tons of money into Del Tech’s pockets. I recommend discontinuing this program as well.
Napoleon once said, “History is a set of lies agreed upon.” In Delaware, the state has been sharing personal student data in the form of a benign computer program designed on the surface to help students. This is a program that is so layered in varying shades of legality and loophole in state and federal law no person could ever realistically figure it all out. Luckily, I am not one of those people. So what is the Trojan horse inserted into every single school district and charter school in the state? Hint: it’s NOT the Smarter Balanced Assessment! Continue reading
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:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Tuesday, October 11, 2016 9:23 AM
To: OpenGovernment (DOJ) <OpenGovernment@state.de.us>
Subject: FOIA Complaint
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.
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
Mr. Kevin Ohlandt
9 Crosley Ct.
Dover, DE 19904
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
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.
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.
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”).
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;
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;
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.
Delaware Governor Jack Markell announced another initiative tied to grants to prevent students from taking remedial classes in college. This whopping $250,000 grant is coming from USAFunds, a non-profit think tank that promises to “fix” education along with the other million or so companies that promise to do the same. Funny how none of them have, despite all their big talk and reports. What causes me to shudder is some things I found on USAFunds website.
This company is big on community colleges and associate degrees. Which must make them very attractive to a guy like Jack Markell. But they go a step beyond and promote “Students Futures as Investments”. This is the ultimate goal. Not only will companies decide what you want to be when you grow up, they will also earn part of your future earnings! These income-share agreements would have investors fund student’s college education and in return they would get a share of your earnings. We pretty much already have this with student loans. USAFunds linked to a company called American Enterprise Institute (AEI) on their website. AEI has a pdf of the “promises and challenges of Income-Share Agreements“. While this organization likes to use pretty words and all-out statements to support their “cause”, it also talks about human beings as investments. First we were Human Capital, now we are Human Investments. When do we get to be just human? Add in social impact bonds to gamble on special education outcomes in pre-schools, and this is just another step to the privatization of American education.
The funds from this nearly $250,000 grant will go to select schools that participate in the Allied Health and Technology pathway as part of Governor Markell’s big “Pathways to Prosperity” push. Care to guess which college in Delaware specifically has an Allied Health and Technology program? Delaware Tech. And I’m sure any school in Delaware that offers this field as one of their career pathways is already salivating to jump onboard for this free money. Until the grant runs out, and then they make it a part of district costs, thus elevating the huge amount we already pay for education in Delaware.
But for Governor Markell, the lame-duck quacking has ended. All we hear now is the beck and call of corporations and Governor Markell selling our children out. It doesn’t matter if they are conservative, liberal, or just greedy. Markell will sell out Delaware students for any reason. But try to get an audience with the guy about his future plans or actual plans that would improve student outcomes, and we just get more of this:
“We have too many students that have worked hard to meet the requirements of college entry and yet when their coursework begins, they find themselves in need of remediation and additional supports,” said Markell. “I’m thrilled that as a result of our partnership with USA Funds, we can now take another step toward ensuring that our students enter our colleges prepared to earn credits and make progress toward a degree on day one.”
Hey Jack, if our students are still having this problem after eight years of your education reforms, perhaps the problem isn’t the students. Perhaps it is YOU. If you weren’t always trying to make money for companies, maybe our students would have a chance. Add in Common Core, and how it really doesn’t work, and we have another self-made recipe for corporate greed. I was wrong about you running for Congress today Jack, but this just tells me you are banking on a Hillary win so you can get your greedy paws into ALL of American education. You really have no shame…
Establish a “critical mass” of support for CBL in DE and leverage supportive voices to raise awareness about CBL
A group of Delaware teachers, in conjunction with a few Superintendents, principals, a high-ranking member of the Delaware PTA, the executive director of the State Board of Education and members of the Delaware Department of Education found a way to sneak in a future-changing regulation eight months ago with a group no one knew about and never had any notices of public meetings. But all is not as it appears. In doing so, they opened the gates to one of the most dangerous corporate education reformers out there.
Have you ever heard of the Delaware Department of Education Competency-Based Learning Guiding Coalition? Me neither. Until last night. In doing a massive amount of research on the Leader In Me program in many of our Delaware schools (and there will be MUCH more on that coming), I found a very odd write-up on the Rodel Foundation of Delaware website.
In investigating a school in the Capital School District that is heavily promoting the snake-oil Leader In Me program, I came across the Rodel Teacher Council section of their website on a Google search. And there it was, under Michele Johnson of Towne Point Elementary School in Capital School District. I knew she was involved in the Leader In Me program, but what I didn’t know and had never heard of was the Delaware Department of Education’s Competency-Based Learning Guiding Coalition. I’ve looked at every single section of the DOE website and never found anything about it. So I went back to Google. I found a link to a pdf from a State Board of Education work session on July 16th, 2015.
To give some more background, this was an important day in Delaware education. It was the same day Delaware Governor Jack Markell vetoed House Bill 50. The State Board holds their work sessions during the morning before their board meetings. The State Board did have it on their agenda for this work session but try looking for anything else on this group and you will be hopelessly lost. With most groups at the Delaware DOE, there is something listed somewhere. But not with this one. There was no notice of public meetings and no transparency whatsoever. Why would there be? This was a Rodel group from their hand-picked teacher council. If you never believed Rodel was running education in Delaware, you will after reading the below document. Every single thing I’ve been writing about on this blog for the past nine months: about competency-based education, personalized learning, pathways to prosperity, the “Dear Hillary” letter, it is all in this 10 page pdf in some form.
So this group recommended finding a way past these barriers to competency-based education in Delaware. The pictures of the post-it notes show words like “urgency” and “barriers”. They mention collective bargaining as a “system barrier”. This Rodel Teacher Council sold their souls to Rodel when they joined this cabal. In the above document there is an entity called Reinventing Schools. I’ve heard of this company but this is the first time I ever saw them mentioned in Delaware. But obviously Rodel has been working with them behind the scenes for many years. To find out why, I highly suggest reading this article on the funded by the Gates Foundation organization led by Dr. Marzano.
I put a picture at the beginning of this article with the members of this Rodel created group. While I’m not surprised by most of the names, one of them stood out: Yvonne Johnson. As the face behind the Delaware PTA for many years, Johnson has been involved in many groups in one form or another. I originally wrote, and have now changed in this article, is how Johnson was involved with this group. I just spoke to Yvonne Johnson who was very upset about her supposed involvement with the Competency-Based Learning Guiding Coalition. As Johnson told me, she was invited to a webinar on this and there was a meeting at Howard High School of Technology about it. She said she does not support competency-based education and the other Delaware PTA member, Ashley Gray, told this group this was not for the Delaware PTA. Obviously the Rodel machine presented this information to the State Board of Education, close to a year later, suggesting the full involvement of Delaware PTA. But that is not the case. It is just another example of our State Board of Education being duped by Rodel into passing regulations they really don’t have a clue about.
The biggest barrier to implementing competency-based education in Delaware was the graduation requirements. They had to change existing state code to do that. Lo and behold, they did exactly that. But not without some old fashioned trickery. At the August 20th State Board meeting, Regulation 505 was put up for discussion by the State Board.
In listening to the State Board audio recording for this meeting, notice how it is introduced as having nothing to do with competency-based education. For a long time, they talk around it. It isn’t until the President of the State Board, Dr. Teri Quinn Gray, seeks clarification on this regulation that anyone in that room would know what they were talking about. As well, Tina Shockley with the DOE sped through describing the regulation very fast. But when the conversation gets going, Michael Watson from the DOE responds to a question from Gray about struggling students. He responds by saying some students can reach mastery in 180 days but for other students it may take longer and that’s okay. So is he suggesting some students will have to go to school longer?
At the September State Board meeting, when everyone was going nuts about opt out penalties in the Delaware School Success Framework/Regulation 103 fiasco, the State Board passed this regulation. But I find it hysterical how all the language surrounding the DSCFY wasn’t even needed to begin with which I’m sure the DOE was well aware of. In my opinion, they put it in the regulation to put the focus around that knowing it would be removed to get what they want.
So what does all this mean?
Here is the easiest way to break it down. This isn’t a Delaware thing. It is happening all over the country. To put it in a nutshell, corporations took over public education. This is a plan that has been in place for decades. First they had to make it look like public schools were failing students. This began in 1983 when the report called A Nation At Risk was released by the federal government. This damning report on public education changed the perception of schools in America. It also began the thirty-three year coordinated attack against teacher unions. Ten years later, the country’s first charter schools came into being. At the same time, Bill Clinton became the U.S. President. His wife Hillary received a letter from Marc Tucker, who went on to be one of the chief architects of Achieve Inc. and the Common Core.
By the late 1990s, standardized testing with high-stakes was the law of the land in Delaware. When Delaware launched the DSTP test, students did horrible on it. Many students dropped out of school as testing mania took over the state. Graduation rates dropped due to the requirement of proficiency on the horrible test. In 2002, No Child Left Behind demanded all students in America become proficient on these high-stakes tests by 2014. It was completely absurd and everyone knew it, but it was a stall tactic. As Common Core came out in President Obama’s second year, Delaware switched to another test called DCAS. While not as bad as DSTP, it was offered two to three times a year. Race To The Top was in full swing along with all the ESEA Flexibility Waivers. Charter schools were rising in popularity for the past decade and the teacher unions were under attack. To get all of this going, the teacher unions had to be destroyed. But they couldn’t bust the unions, just give them a slow and painful death.
Many teacher unions across the country caved in to the new corporate education reform suggestions. They could have fought it, but it would have given an already rising bad perception of them an even worse one. So with the help of school boards, the unions signed on to Race To The Top. Even the state PTAs got sucked into the Common Core/Race To The Top vortex. Common Core was the boss, teachers were the servants, and students were the true victims. Then came the even newer high-stakes assessments tied to the Common Core. Meanwhile, new education think tanks and non-profits emerged from nowhere to give more and more bad news about education and how to fix it. In Delaware, we call them the Rodel Foundation and the Vision Coalition. They have been around for a long time, but they are one and the same and they are as venomous to public education as any of these other education fixit organizations.
So here we are now, in 2016. Governor Markell finishes up next January and in comes John Carney. Like the rushed implementation of Common Core, in the next few years we will see the “urgency” to incorporate full-time competency-based learning in our schools. Our students will be on the computer all the time in this era of “personalized learning” while our teachers become glorified guides and facilitators. As veteran teachers leave the profession in droves, we will see more duds like Teach For America and Relay Graduate School coming into our schools. They won’t be union, and they will take over. With their corporate driven brainwashing, we will see more “teacher-leaders” come into play via programs like “Leader In Me”. But education is, and always has been, about the students. What happens to them? This is the kicker.
All of this, everything since the day A Nation At Risk was introduced 33 years ago, has been with this plan in mind. It is all an elaborate tracking measure meant to keep down minority students, students with disabilities, and low-income students. They will not do well in this. We see this with the Smarter Balanced Assessment and the PARCC tests. The resources and funding are there. They have always been there. But our states and government didn’t want to fix education. They had to tear it down first and build it up again to one of their own design. They don’t want anyone questioning their authority. They want their worker bees to fall in line with their career pathways and shut up. They had to beat down the teachers and numb the minds of children. They do not care and have no remorse if anyone gets in their way. Even the charter schools they so methodically built up were fodder for sacrifice if need be. We saw this in Delaware as many charters closed and more sprung from the ashes.
What the corporate education reformers do is use the art of distraction to an astonishing degree. They know those who oppose them can’t fight everything all at once so they get us to focus on certain things. Take opt out for example. While they know opt out kills everything they are planning, they also know it is the key to their future. The once a year test will go away. It will be broken down into little tiny chunks, embedded into the end-of-unit personalized learning chapter. But a student must score proficient to be able to move on. They must “master” the material. But who writes the material? Who grades the mini-assessments? How long will a student be “held back” until they get it? What happens when a student just gives up because they are so mentally frustrated? How does IDEA and existing law fit in with any of this? Does anyone care about these kind of things anymore?
Governor Markell and Dr. Paul Herdman, along with their key player at the Townsend Building in Dover, Donna Johnson, have been the masterminds behind all of this in Delaware. Does anyone think it is a coincidence there have been very few task forces, working groups and committees with an actual State Board of Education member on it? It is always Executive Director Donna Johnson. Calling the shots. Bossing people around as if she is the ultimate authority in education. Manipulating the playing field to the agendas she controls. She did it with WEIC, the priority schools, the Delaware School Success Framework, Common Core, opt out, and all the other destructive policies and regulations under her control. We don’t have a State Board of Education. We have Jack and Donna’s puppets. Behind them is the face of Rodel: Dr. Paul Herdman. The single-most, number one with a bullet, vessel of discrimination and evil I have ever met in my life. The man behind the Delaware curtain. The man who helped Jack into the Governor role. The man who took over the Delaware Department of Education. The man who directs it all in Delaware. Who answers to his masters in bigger organizations like the Aspen Institute, Achieve Inc., the Lumina Foundation, and Reinventing Schools. Behind them are the true power players in the guise of the US Department of Education, the US Department of Labor, Mark Zuckerberg, and the Gates Foundation. And then there are the investors and hedge fund managers and corporations making billions of dollars off all of this. For those living in other states who may not be familiar with many of these names, I’m sure if you look hard enough, you have your own puppet masters pulling the strings.
At this point, I don’t know if those who oppose this could stop any of this. It is so embedded into policy and law. All the states were required to have some type of career workforce plan based on the below federal document. The future is now. It is here. This Leader In Me garbage that is sweeping our schools is the biggest example of this. It goes beyond the classroom and invades the home. It has children making the parents compliant to this nonsense. Their “data walls” are one of the most disgusting and abhorrent acts of labeling, shaming, and discrimination I have ever seen in my life. But far too many of our Delaware teachers think it is okay. This is what happens when you are brainwashed to points beyond common sense. When you are fed the same false garbage time and time again. You begin to believe it. You become the enemy before you even realize it. When you once questioned all of this and you become a slave to the compliance machine. I am not saying these teachers are bad or even evil. They are misguided. They have been fooled and once the Rodelian mindset becomes a part of your thinking, they have their hooks in you. They mold and shape you into another one of their puppets or put your name out there to make it look like they have diverse “stakeholder input”. It seems like people with the last name of Johnson are their favorites. Charter schools, by their very nature, are ripe for takeover or creation by the Rodelian puppet masters. And don’t think it ends with Jack Markell.
But too many of us were blinded by opt out, teacher evaluations, and charter schools to even notice. All we hear about anymore on social media is Trump and Hillary. It doesn’t matter who wins because all the pieces were put into play years ago. They snuck it all in when those who should have seen it were distracted. As our pre-schools and schools become community centers and human teaching becomes a thing of the past, what happens to the children of tomorrow? Will we even need the school building in the future? What happens when they become indoctrinated into the cults of compliance? When they lose their spark? As the more affluent families stay in power while the vast majority of the population perform all the low-paying jobs? Who will rise from the ashes like a phoenix to turn it all around again twenty years from now? Or fifty? Many have predicted the machines would take over. But what they failed to realize was the machines were children. I saw this coming. I knew it. But I was looking in the wrong place. And for that I apologize. At some point, like everything in history, there will be a revolution. Only we can decide when that is.