Pray For New Mexico! Surfer Boy Is In Charge Now!

If we could all take a moment of silence for New Mexico public education…

Thank you.  Earlier yesterday, I found out New Mexico’s Secretary of Education, Hanna Skandera, gave her two-week notice.  What I failed to recognize was who her replacement was.  As news trickled out to me, I found myself very concerned for public school educators in New Mexico.  Yes, the  former Race To The Top Delaware DOE darling, the Surfer Boy himself, is now New Mexico’s Acting Secretary of Education.  You heard me right folks, Christopher Ruszkowski is now in charge of New Mexico public education.

According to a U.S. News & World report article:

Deputy Secretary Christopher Ruszkowski will serve as acting cabinet secretary, Republican Gov. Susana Martinez said.

Teachers in Delaware will ALWAYS remember the Surfer Boy for his Human Capital and Component V contributions to Delaware education.  Shall we go on… the Delaware Talent Cooperative, his love affair with Teach For America, bringing Relay into schools, and so on.  Ruszkowski left the Delaware DOE last year when he became the New Mexico Deputy Secretary of Education under Skandera.  He had been the Director of the Teacher Leader and Effectiveness Unit at the Delaware DOE.

All I can say is this: New Mexico, what in the name of Breaking Bad are you thinking?  But then again, they had Skandera, the Wonder Girl to Jeb Bush’s, uhm, Captain Underpants?  But even Surfer Boy is connected with Jeb Bush as he took a fellowship position in Jeb Bush’s corporate education reform group, Chiefs For Change, about a year ago.  Rumor has it Skandera may take a job under U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.

It wasn’t long after I began this blog that I began writing about Ruszkowski.  You can read all the articles in THIS LINK.

A moment of silence isn’t enough for the teachers, students, educators, administrators, education bloggers, and hell, any taxpaying citizen in New Mexico.  Please continue praying for New Mexico.

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Delaware Competency-Based Education, Part 1: Rodel, DOE & Achieve Inc. Team-Up

Personalized Learning, as a concept, has been around since the 1960’s.  In its original form, it was an effort to personalize learning between a teacher and a student.  Students don’t always learn at the same pace.  The term has been bastardized by corporate education reformers over the past five years.  Their idea is to launch a technology boom in the classroom where investors and ed-tech companies will get tons of money.  To do this, they had to use education “think-tanks” and foundations to sway the conversation towards this lucrative gold-mine.  No one has been a bigger supporter of personalized learning in Delaware than the Rodel Foundation.  They began talking about this new and exciting education reform movement as early as November, 2011.  A company called Digital Learning Now! released their 2011 report card on different states ability to transform into a digital learning environment and Delaware scored poorly on their report.  According to this Rodel article on the report written by Brett Turner (the link to the report card doesn’t exist anymore), Turner wrote:

…the initial results are not promising, demonstrating that we have significant work ahead of us before the necessary policies are in place to ensure our students benefit from high-quality next generation learning opportunities.

Digital Learning Now! was an initiative of the Foundation for Excellence in Education.  Other digital “experts” the company thanks in their 2012 report include the Alliance for Excellent Education, the Data Quality Campaign, iNACOL, SETDA, Chiefs for Change, Getting Smart, and the Innosight Institute.  The Foundation for Excellence in Education was founded by Jeb Bush in 2008, just as Common Core was in its formation stages.  In the Rodel article, Turner talks about how Delaware needs to adapt to this environment so our students can succeed.

Over the next two and a half years, as Race to the Top became more of a nightmare than a promise of better education, Rodel began to take steps to have Delaware become a part of this next big thing.  They formed the Rodel Teacher Council to recruit well-intentioned teachers to join their personalized learning dream team.  I don’t see these teachers as evil but rather teachers who are easily manipulated and coerced into being connected with the “next big thing”.  I see them as unwitting pawns of Rodel.

Rodel didn’t write much about personalized learning too much during this time, but they did release a Personalized Learning 101 flyer in 2013.  At the same time, four Delaware districts formed BRINC: Brandywine, Indian River, New Castle County Vo-Tech, and Colonial.  Using funds from Race To the Top and a Delaware DOE “innovation grant”, the districts used Schoology and Modern Teacher to usher Delaware into the digital learning age.  Rodel’s blog posts about personalized learning didn’t touch on the concept again until February, 2014 when a Rodel employee by the name of Matthew Korobkin began writing posts about digital learning.  More followed by other Rodel employees in the coming months.  At this time, Dr. Paul Herdman of Rodel was palling around with an ed-tech company called 2Revolutions and went around Delaware talking to groups about the glory of personalized learning.

In the beginning of June in 2014, Rachel Chan with the Rodel Foundation attended a seminar in Washington D.C. on personalized learning sponsored by iNACOL.  She wrote about this extensively on the Rodel website.

Later that month, the United States Department of Education released their state reports on special education in America.  Delaware received a rating of “needs intervention”, prompting Governor Jack Markell to set aside funding in the state budget for a special education “Strategic Plan”.  What no one knew until recently was this plan consisted of hiring Korobkin away from Rodel and into Secretary of Education Mark Murphy’s office to put this plan together.

Later in the summer of 2014, the Delaware Department of Education, with the Rodel Foundation of Delaware, banded together to form a clandestine group of “stakeholders” to look at competency-based education in a personalized learning environment in Delaware.  The biggest hurdle in getting this going in Delaware was the barriers in the state code.  Their were many players in this non-public group, including members of the Rodel Teacher Council who were also working on a “Personalized Learning Blueprint” at the same time.  This group shaped the future of education in Delaware.  But they used people to do so, including some of the members of this group.

The timing for this group couldn’t have come at a better time.  There were many distractions happening that allowed them to fly under the radar with no one the wiser.  Invitations were sent out to select participants from Theresa Bennett at the Delaware DOE.  She was an Education Specialist for English/Language Arts in the Curriculum, Instruction and Professional Development area of the DOE.  She was the person who scheduled all the meetings.  An introductory webinar, sponsored by Achieve Inc., was held on August 14th, 2014.

After an explanation of competency-based education and personalized learning from some folks at Achieve Inc., they opened the webinar up for questions.  At the 30:07 mark on the video, Appoquinimink Superintendent Matt Burrows explained his district already began the process for personalized learning.  He mentioned several hurdles, especially the teachers’ union.  Next came Judi Coffield, the former Head of School at Early College High School, a charter school run through Delaware State University.  Coffield asked how Carniege units and high school grades would come into play with this.  Bennett explained what role the DOE played in this and how she and Rachel Chan from the Rodel Foundation were going to run the group.  Bennett went on to explain that select allies were invited to participate in this group.  She also talked about a meeting with Achieve Inc. in Washington D.C. in May of 2014 to pave a path forward.

Bennett did a roll call of who was participating in the webinar.  Jose Aviles, the director of admissions at the University of Delaware, was not on the call.  Bennett explains how Aviles accompanied her to the Achieve Inc. meeting.  “Is there a representative from Delaware PTA on the call?”  No response.  “Is Donna Johnson on the call?”  Silence.  “Kim Joyce from Del-Tech?”  Nothing.  “Pat Michle from Developmental Disabilities Council?”  Empty air.  She added Laurie Rowe and Stanley Spoor with Howard High School of Technology would be joining them.  Susan Haberstroh with the Delaware DOE joined later in the Webinar.

Rodel and Markell knew they needed to stage a distraction to further this personalized learning agenda away from prying eyes while at the same time steering the conversation towards their end goals by using the distraction.  They knew one of these distractions would automatically happen based on federal mandates from the US DOE, but the other would need careful planning and coördination.  The first drove the need for the second.

A few weeks later, Governor Markell and then Secretary of Education Mark Murphy announced the six priority schools in Wilmington.  The DOE picked the six “lowest-performing” schools in Wilmington, DE and announced the two school districts involved, Red Clay and Christina, would have to sign a “memorandum of understanding” and submit to the demands of the Delaware DOE.  This put the entire city into an educational tailspin.  Teachers in the affected schools felt outrage at the Governor and the DOE.  Parents didn’t know what this meant.  Politicians scrambled to make sense of it all as primaries and general elections faced them while constituents furiously called them.  Teachers in Delaware were still reeling from the upcoming Smarter Balanced Assessment and the scores tied into their evaluations.  Meanwhile, the secret meetings of the Delaware Department of Education Competency-Based Learning Guiding Coalition began without any public notice as an email went out from Bennett…

Thank you for your interest in the Competency-Based Learning Guiding Coalition.  If you were unable to attend the informational webinar, please use this link to access the recording:   http://www.achieve.org/DelawareCBLwebinar  

The Guiding Coalition will be charged with laying the foundation for competency-based learning in Delaware. This will include creating a working definition of competency-based learning and what it could look like in Delaware, understanding current barriers to implementing CBL in Delaware, and establishing support for CBL initiatives to take root in the state. Once we have a common understanding of CBL, we will surface key ideas and develop recommended strategies for helping CBL take shape in the state.

The time commitment for the Advisory Group of the Guiding Coalition will be attending approximately two or three 2-hour meetings during the coming school year, with 30-60 minutes of pre-work for each meeting. There will also be opportunities to engage further through optional readings, school visits, webinars, and other convenings if your schedule/level of interest allows.

We are excited to share that an expert facilitator will be guiding each of our meetings; we would like to collect information to inform our meeting agendas.  Please complete the following survey by September 10th:  https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/DECompetency-BasedLearning.  

Please complete a Doodle to help us best schedule the meetings for this group.  We hope to begin late September/early October, with meetings held in Dover. Responses to the Doodle poll will help us find the best day/time for the first meeting. Please use this link: http://doodle.com/mts6ncf74v77mnf

Best,

Theresa

Theresa Bennett

Education Associate, ELA

Curriculum, Instruction, and Professional Development

Delaware Department of Education

401 Federal Street, Suite #2

Dover, DE 19901-3639

Coming up in Part 2: Delaware gets Marzanoed

Chiefs For Change Try To Give Viagra To Vergara Appeal Decision

A group of current and former State Superintendents, Secretaries, and Chiefs, as well as district Superintendents, wrote an Amici Curiae in Support of Petition to Review letter to the Honorable Tani Cantil-Sakauye, the Chief Justice for the California Supreme Court regarding the overturning of the Vergara verdict in April of this year.  This is not the same letter Diane Ravitch wrote about here.  This group consists of the following:

Dr. John Deasy: former Superintendent of Los Angeles Unified School District

John White: Louisiana Superintendent of Education

Hanna Skandera: New Mexico Secretary of Education

Dr. Steve Canavero: Nevada Superintendent of Public Instruction

Mark Murphy: former Delaware Secretary of Education

Kevin Huffman: former Tennessee Commissioner of the Department of Education

Cami Anderson: former District Superintendent for Newark, New Jersey Public Schools

Jean-Claude Brizard: former Chief Executive for Chicago Public Schools

Dr. Randolph Ward: San Diego County Superintendent of Schools

Note that all the individuals in red are currently Chiefs in Chiefs for Change, the Jeb Bush run outfit.  Does anyone really see that as a coincidence?  As Diane Ravitch pointed out earlier this year,

which was established by Jeb Bush to promote school choice, charters, vouchers, online charter schools, the Common Core, and high-stakes testing

There are very good reasons why so many of these people are “former” education leaders.  Cami Anderson resigned after students occupied her office as a result of her unprecedented charter school empire/public education destruction in Newark, NJ.  Mark Murphy resigned after he royally botched a priority school initiative and was given multiple votes of no confidence by union organizations and the state administrator organization in Delaware.  Kevin Huffman resigned in Tennessee as the Achievement School District continues to be a model of failure to be spread to other states.  Jean-Claude Brizard admitted he didn’t know how to do his job so he threw the Chicago public schools to the charter wolves with Bill Gates money.  Deasy, who resigned from the L.A. Unified School District, with lavish financial scandals and was last seen training district superintendents under the Broad fellowship training.

Should the courts listen to those who twist numbers for their own benefits in what they deem as a success while skewing words to label teachers as failures?  Who help to create the very conditions that have and do lead to pressure cookers for teachers in public education?  Who believe that corporate interference is the only viable solution to fix the problems in education?  Who believe that one size fits all high-stakes tests are okay but scream about civil rights and what happens to low-income children the next?  Who sign off on state accountability plans where children with disabilities have to “grow” three times more than their regular peers in an allotted time?  Who disrespect the parents that see through their smoke and mirrors and push laws to take away their rights?

I urge this court to look at this letter as the conflict of interest it most assuredly is and give it the same weight they would of a con artist on its last legs.  To read the full letter, please go here.

 

 

Is Mark Murphy Selling Skateboard Paraphernalia?

I was very confused when I saw the latest Mark Murphy update.  Apparently, he is selling Griptape.  When I did a Google search on Griptape, it shows many different kinds of images for the adhesive put on skateboards for a sturdier ride.

What in the world?  Does he have his own skateboard?  Nope.  Apparently, the ex Secretary of Education from Delaware is still with America Achieves, but he is now leading an initiative called “Griptape”.  I did some deep dives into more information on this youth empowerment magic, but I couldn’t find anything.  I guess if students put some extra grip on their studies, they will have a sturdier ride to college and career readiness?  Will Griptape be something like that Mark?  Please, tell us.  We are dying to know more about Griptape!

But I did find out Mark Murphy visited one of my old stomping grounds a few months ago, which just so happens to be one of the skateboarding empires of the world, San Diego.  He went out in March to a Deeper Learning convention.  The San Diego Convention Center is awesome by the way.  If you go up the road, to the Gaslamp Quarter, there is an awesome bar called Dick’s Last Resort.  If someone working there isn’t rude to you, they aren’t doing their job.  Seriously!  But this convention wasn’t held at the San Diego Convention Center.  It was at High Tech High Graduate School Of Education (really, I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried).

As well, even though he is no longer a chief, that doesn’t stop him from being listed as a member of Chiefs For Change, one of those offshoots of Jeb Bush’s Excellence In Education outfit.  But he better watch out, cause nipping to become a Chief for Change is one of his former, now ex Delaware DOE employees, who is listed as a Chief In Residence.  And even though that person is no longer in Delaware, his rot still lingers

A few weeks ago, Murphy and many of the other Chiefs at the Jeb cabal, like Hanna Skandera (New Mexico Secretary of Education) and John White (Louisiana’s Superintendent of Education), wrote a letter regarding the recent Vergara appeal decision, urging the appeals court to overturn their ruling because teachers in California are “grossly ineffective” (a term that pretty much sums up his tenure as Secretary of Education in Delaware).

So for those who were clamoring for Mark Murphy updates, this is it.  I couldn’t find anything more on him.  But if you miss him that much,  I would be remiss if I didn’t give a link to Murphy’s Greatest Hits.  He may not be causing direct trouble in Delaware, but it looks like he is one to watch out for at a national level, especially if Griptape takes off!  Maybe even Jack Markell will buy stock in it!

The Delaware Illuminati, Part 1: Jeb Bush Inspires Rodel

Personalized Learning, as a concept, has been around since the 1960’s.  It is an effort to personalize learning so a student doesn’t always learn at the same pace as other students.  The term has been bastardized by corporate education reformers over the past five years.  Their idea is to launch a technology boom in the classroom where investors and ed-tech companies will get tons of money.  To do this, they had to use education “think-tanks” and foundations to sway the conversation towards this lucrative gold-mine.  No one has been a bigger supporter of personalized learning in Delaware than the Rodel Foundation.  They began talking about this new and exciting education reform movement as early as November, 2011.  A company called Digital Learning Now! released their 2011 report card on different states ability to transform into a digital learning environment and Delaware scored poorly on their report.  According to this Rodel article on the report written by Brett Turner (the link to the report card doesn’t exist anymore), Turner wrote:

…the initial results are not promising, demonstrating that we have significant work ahead of us before the necessary policies are in place to ensure our students benefit from high-quality next generation learning opportunities.

Digital Learning Now! was an initiative of the Foundation for Excellence in Education.  Other digital “experts” the company thanks in their 2012 report include the Alliance for Excellent Education, the Data Quality Campaign, iNACOL, SETDA, Chiefs for Change, Getting Smart, and the Innosight Institute.  The Foundation for Excellence in Education was founded by Jeb Bush in 2008, just as Common Core was in its formation stages.  In the Rodel article, Turner talks about how Delaware needs to adapt to this environment so our students can succeed.

Over the next two and a half years, as Race to the Top became more of a nightmare than a promise of better education, Rodel began to take steps to have Delaware become a part of this next big thing.  They formed the Rodel Teacher Council to recruit well-intentioned teachers to join their personalized learning team.  I don’t see these teachers as evil.  I see them as unwitting pawns of Rodel.  Rodel didn’t write much about personalized learning too much during this time, but they did release a Personalized Learning 101 flyer in 2013.  At the same time, four Delaware districts formed BRINC: Brandywine, Indian River, New Castle County Vo-Tech, and Colonial.  Using funds from Race To the Top and a Delaware DOE “innovation grant”, the districts used Schoology and Modern Teacher to usher Delaware into the digital learning age.  Rodel’s blog posts about personalized learning didn’t touch on the concept again until February, 2014 when a Rodel employee by the name of Matthew Korobkin began writing posts about digital learning.  More followed by other Rodel employees in the coming months.  At this time, Dr. Paul Herdman of Rodel was palling around with an ed-tech company called 2Revolutions and went around Delaware talking to groups about the glory of personalized learning.

In the beginning of June in 2014, Rachel Chan with the Rodel Foundation attended a seminar in Washington D.C. on personalized learning sponsored by iNACOL.  She wrote about this extensively on the Rodel website.

Later that month, the United States Department of Education released their state reports on special education in America.  Delaware received a rating of “needs intervention”, prompting Governor Jack Markell to set aside funding in the state budget for a special education “Strategic Plan”.  What no one knew until recently was this plan consisted of hiring Korobkin away from Rodel and into Secretary of Education Mark Murphy’s office to put this plan together.

Later in the summer of 2014, the Delaware Department of Education, with the Rodel Foundation of Delaware, banded together to form a clandestine group of “stakeholders” to look at competency-based education in a personalized learning environment in Delaware.  The biggest hurdle in getting this going in Delaware was the barriers in the state code.  Their were many players in this non-public group, including members of the Rodel Teacher Council who were also working on a “Personalized Learning Blueprint” at the same time.  This group shaped the future of education in Delaware.  But they used people to do so, including some of the members of this group.

The timing for this group couldn’t have come at a better time.  There were many distractions happening that allowed them to fly under the radar with no one the wiser.  Invitations were sent out to select participants from Theresa Bennett at the Delaware DOE.  She was an Education Specialist for English/Language Arts in the Curriculum, Instruction and Professional Development area of the DOE.  She was the person who scheduled all the meetings.  An introductory webinar, sponsored by Achieve Inc., was held on August 14th, 2014.

 

After an explanation of competency-based education and personalized learning from some folks at Achieve Inc., they opened the webinar up for questions.  At the 30:07 mark on the video, Appoquinimink Superintendent Matt Burrows explained his district already began the process for personalized learning.  He mentioned several hurdles, especially the teachers’ union.  Next came Judi Coffield, the former Head of School at Early College High School, a charter school run through Delaware State University.  Coffield asked how Carniege units and high school grades would come into play with this.  Bennett explained what role the DOE played in this and how she and Rachel Chan from the Rodel Foundation were going to run the group.  Bennett went on to explain that select allies were invited to participate in this group.  She also talked about a meeting with Achieve Inc. in Washington D.C. in May of 2014 to pave a path forward.

Bennett did a roll call of who was participating in the webinar.  Jose Aviles, the director of admissions at the University of Delaware, was not on the call.  Bennett explains how Aviles accompanied her to the Achieve Inc. meeting.  “Is there a representative from Delaware PTA on the call?”  No response.  “Is Donna Johnson on the call?”  Silence.  “Kim Joyce from Del-Tech?”  Nothing.  “Pat Michle from Developmental Disabilities Council?”  Empty air.  She added Laurie Rowe and Stanley Spoor with Howard High School of Technology would be joining them.  Susan Haberstroh with the Delaware DOE joined later in the Webinar.

Rodel and Markell knew they needed to stage a distraction to further this personalized learning agenda away from prying eyes while at the same time steering the conversation towards their end goals by using the distraction.  They knew one of these distractions would automatically happen based on federal mandates from the US DOE, but the other would need careful planning and coordination.  The first drove the need for the second.

A few weeks later, Governor Markell and then Secretary of Education Mark Murphy announced the six priority schools in Wilmington.  The DOE picked the six “lowest-performing” schools in Wilmington, DE and announced the two school districts involved, Red Clay and Christina, would have to sign a “memorandum of understanding” and submit to the demands of the Delaware DOE.  This put the entire city into an educational tailspin.  Teachers in the affected schools felt outrage at the Governor and the DOE.  Parents didn’t know what this meant.  Politicians scrambled to make sense of it all as primaries and general elections faced them while constituents furiously called them.  Teachers in Delaware were still reeling from the upcoming Smarter Balanced Assessment and the scores tied into their evaluations.  Meanwhile, the secret meetings of the Delaware Department of Education Competency-Based Learning Guiding Coalition began without any public notice as an email went out from Bennett…

Thank you for your interest in the Competency-Based Learning Guiding Coalition.  If you were unable to attend the informational webinar, please use this link to access the recording:   http://www.achieve.org/DelawareCBLwebinar  

The Guiding Coalition will be charged with laying the foundation for competency-based learning in Delaware. This will include creating a working definition of competency-based learning and what it could look like in Delaware, understanding current barriers to implementing CBL in Delaware, and establishing support for CBL initiatives to take root in the state. Once we have a common understanding of CBL, we will surface key ideas and develop recommended strategies for helping CBL take shape in the state.

The time commitment for the Advisory Group of the Guiding Coalition will be attending approximately two or three 2-hour meetings during the coming school year, with 30-60 minutes of pre-work for each meeting. There will also be opportunities to engage further through optional readings, school visits, webinars, and other convenings if your schedule/level of interest allows.

We are excited to share that an expert facilitator will be guiding each of our meetings; we would like to collect information to inform our meeting agendas.  Please complete the following survey by September 10th:  https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/DECompetency-BasedLearning.  

Please complete a Doodle to help us best schedule the meetings for this group.  We hope to begin late September/early October, with meetings held in Dover. Responses to the Doodle poll will help us find the best day/time for the first meeting. Please use this link: http://doodle.com/mts6ncf74v77mnf

Best,

Theresa

Theresa Bennett

Education Associate, ELA

Curriculum, Instruction, and Professional Development

Delaware Department of Education

401 Federal Street, Suite #2

Dover, DE 19901-3639

To be continued…in part 2…coming soon…

To read the prologue to this series, link to The Delaware Illuminati, Prologue

Jeb Bush’s Common Core Website Goes Silent

Common Core has become very toxic. And now it’s becoming toxic for politicians! President Obama has nothing to lose by having his boy Duncan praising at as the best thing since sliced bread. Unless it makes such an impact by election time that the balance of power begins to rapidly shift…

Scathing Purple Musings

For two months, nothing.

No more TV spots. No more teacher Tweets. No more press releases.

What happened?

Scathing Purple Musingswrote in March about the Common Core initiative from Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Florida’s future. Learn More. Go Furtherwas designed to end all debate and educate the public on Common Core’s benefits and superiority.

So why did they pull the plug?

There are two possible reasons. Neither of them good for Bush or Common Core, the latter of which is being sounded defeated at every juncture. Bush has few political allies on Common Core left and its main private sector supporter, the Chamber of Commerce, has slowly been losing the benevolent status they once enjoyed from traditional conservative voters for its advocacy on Common Core and immigration reform.

Respected conservative columnist George Will said earlier this year on FOX News that a supporter of Common Core couldn’t win…

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