Earl Jaques and the DOE: A Match Made In Hell or The Love Affair of the Year?

Anonymous sources are telling me about the latest rumors coming out of Dover.  Apparently the DOE is hot to trot on some House Joint Resolution making the rounds.  This resolution would have the General Assembly recognize the assessment inventory initiative going on in Delaware.  This message was shown to me today in an email sent to all the Delaware district and charter chiefs.  Included in this were several anti-parent opt-out talking points.  All of which Delaware State Rep. Earl Jaques gave as reasons in opposition of opt-out last month at the House Education Committee meeting.  These talking points included the usual federal funding threats, too many assessments, important data, yada yada yada…  But the interesting part of this communication was the part where the DOE representative talks about how some legislators will have a say in the assessment inventory but they won’t have any authority or oversight over the initiative.  That’s like giving a kid Pringles, but you can only eat one.  “We have legislators in on this but we retain the power!”

Jaques needs to separate from a Department that is using him because they are running out of life-lines.  Take today for example.  I stopped by the State Board of Education meeting to hear the tail end of the Teacher Leader and Effectiveness Unit give a big speech on  their Educator Equity Plan.  They talked about all these stakeholder groups they used for their plan and called this a “root cause analysis”.  I had to crack up when even the President of the State Board, Dr. Teri Quinn Gray, said this is not a true root cause analysis with scientific-driven data.  You can read the nonsense here by Chris Ruszkowski and the Gang, but really, it’s just more education reform drivel coming out of this department.  But when the State Board is questioning how effective your data really is, the train has already left the station.

I have no doubt Earl Jaques has the best of intentions with education, but he’s listening to the wrong people.  He came up to me before the House vote on House Bill 50, the parent opt-out bill.  He explained how he wanted to get my son included on Senate Bill 229.  This was a bill passed last June by the 147th General Assembly which exempts the “state’s most severely cognitively impaired students” from taking the Smarter Balanced Assessment or regular state standardized test.  I explained to Jaques my son doesn’t qualify and he has Tourette Syndrome, but he is very smart.  As he was walking away he said “I’m going to fix that.”  I blew it off, but I received an email from him a few days later asking me to send him a list of 6-7 disabilities to add to the legislation.  As if just adding these would change the Federal requirements SB 229 was based on.  It shows a huge disconnect between the actual reality we all live in and how powerful Jaques seems to think he is as Chair of the House Education Committee.

I saw him last week at Legislative Hall and I explained to him, again, that you can’t just add disabilities to a law like that.  He looked at me and said “We can’t?  Oh well, I tried.”  So not only did Jaques not understand the original legislation, but he didn’t understand the Federal law it is tied to.  But this is a man the DOE whispers to with all these anti-opt-out sweet nothings and he takes it as the Gospel truth.  This is classic political maneuvering on the DOE’s part, and they think they have their man with Earl Jaques.  But nobody is drinking the Kool-Aid anymore.  At least not in the General Assembly.  When you have a House of Representatives that had a large majority pass legislation for the Smarter Balanced Assessment, and then not even a year later, pass opt-out legislation with a 36-3 vote, then obviously they aren’t drinking the assessment Kool-Aid anymore.

Even Governor Markell has backed away from Jaques a bit.  I haven’t seen Jaques appearing in any huge education announcements or cheerleader speeches with Jack in a couple months.

As House Bill 50 winds it’s way through the General Assembly, with it’s next stop at the Senate Education Committee on June 3rd, does Jaques still think he really has the ammunition to stop a bullet-train heading for the Governor’s desk?  If anything, Jaques helped the parent opt-out movement with his vocal and stubborn opposition of it.  In some respects, I hope Jaques keeps talking about it!

As I walked out of the State Board of Education meeting, Ruszkowski was asking Shana Young how it went with Jaques.  I missed the answer, but it is important to note the email sent to the Delaware superintendents was written by the DOE’s own Shana Young.  Were they talking about this superstar joint resolution or do they have something else cooking?  Will anyone care?

Top Ten Delaware DOE Rejected Ideas For Naming Smarter Balanced

In a never seen FOIA from the future, an important memo concerning the Smarter Balanced Assessment will come to light.  Back in the fall, the DOE was tossing around ideas to rename the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  This was the top ten list:

1) Murphy’s Law

2) Smarter 2.0

3) Student Capital Assessment

4) Charter Builder

5) Rigor, Not Vigor

6) Rodel & Friends

7) The GBDJ (stands for Governor, Barbieri, Dukes & Jaques)

8) Penny For Your Thoughts

9) It Doesn’t Matter What We Call It, We’re Still Gonna Take Your Schools And Fire Your Teachers

10) Duncan’s Donuts

And yet, somehow, they stuck with “Smarter” as the hipsters down there like to call it… Happy Mother’s Day to all the awesome Moms out there!  We would all be nothing without you!

Presentation from Penny Schwinn To The State Board of Education, Also Common Core & Great Leaders Presentations

The following were put as attachments on the State Board of Education website for the agenda on yesterday’s meeting.  Schwinn’s presentation says nothing about the bomb she dropped yesterday concerning the DOE considering replacing the SAT with Smarter Balanced, but the audio released Monday or Tuesday will confirm that one!

The DOE-DSEA Collaboration That Will Make Your Brain Explode!!! FOIA Shell-Shocker!!!!

Every once in a while you see something in a FOIA drop that shocks you.  And then are the times where something just explodes!  This is an explosion.  Back in November of 2014, the teachers belonging to the unions were very upset about the priority schools and the compensation workgroup which would eliminate many of the financial benefits of completing a masters degree.

This was obviously not a good time for the DSEA and other union members to take a survey.  And the executive director of the DSEA, Jeff Taschner, told the DOE this.  Their reaction to this news is very interesting.  You have to read it for yourself.  It makes me wonder just how much collaboration goes on between the DSEA and the DOE that nobody knows about…

Breaking Exclusive News: Delaware DOE Fraud & Manipulation Revealed

If you ever needed more proof of how corrupt the Delaware Department of Education really is, this will prove it beyond a shadow of a doubt.  The Delaware Talent Cooperative is a program to bring teachers to high-need schools.  Obviously, based on the below email, the Teacher Leader Effectiveness Unit can manipulate who sees what and when.  This is tantamount to fraud on many levels.  We have Chris Ruszkowski, the leader of this unit, blatantly manipulating wording without even bothering to check if it is able to be done or even legal.  And it is more than obvious the DOE was very selective about who they wanted in this program.  They can’t have “sabotage”!

And here is the letter Ruszkowski edited clearly showing his financial enticement to lure teachers into this program:

Exclusive FOIA: The Delaware DOE Human Capital 2017 Project Fully Revealed

This was a draft created by the Delaware Department of Education Teacher Leader Effectiveness Unit on their Human Capital 2017 project.  I originally wrote about this project here.  In reviewing more of the huge FOIA material I received over two months ago, I stumbled across a Power Point presentation in draft form that gives A LOT of information about the whole purpose of the DOE.

While converting the document on a Scribd file, some of the material overlaps, and I was unable to fix it, but make sure you read every single word in this document.  It’s amazing how much long-term planning goes into these DOE programs, including legislation in the General Assembly.

After watching the Director of this unit, Christopher Ruszkowski, at the February 18th Delaware House Education Committee meeting, it is amazing how much power he has at the Delaware DOE.  The website Education Pioneers.org has a pretty thorough review on Ruszkowski.

When someone told Christopher that he should be a teacher in the inner-city, something clicked. After undergrad, he joined Teach For America and taught 7th and 8th grade social studies at John F. Kennedy Middle School in Miami-Dade County for two years. There, Christopher saw himself in his students, the majority of whom were first-generation Americans. Under his guidance, Christopher’s students achieved significant gains and demonstrated 80% content mastery.”

“As a Fellow, Christopher was placed with San Francisco Unified School District where he worked to ensure that hundreds of district administrators were well prepared for the upcoming school year and their work to educate over 55,000 San Francisco students. Christopher helped develop, facilitate, and plan the district’s annual Administrator Leadership Institute and worked cross-functionally across all departments to ensure strong professional development for all district administrators.”

“My project connected me with leaders across the district, and I witnessed different management styles, political maneuvering, and cross-district collaboration,” he says. “I saw how leadership and management could cut through the noise or raise the decibel level. It was invaluable for me to see those organizational dynamics in another context before moving to a state-level role.”

“Post-Fellowship and eager to be a part of Race to the Top, President Obama’s signature education initiative, Christopher headed to the Delaware Department of Education. In his first year there, he launched a dozen educator effectiveness initiatives and was quickly promoted to Chief Officer of the Teacher and Leader Effectiveness Unit. Christopher has grown his team from three people to 25. He now oversees the unit’s $30 million budget and all state-led educator effectiveness efforts, as well as analyzes how districts’ individual human capital plans are driving student achievement.”

Will Ruszkowski survive the post-Markell purge that will most likely occur at the Delaware DOE?  But more importantly, will the Human Capital 2017 project ever see its fruition?  I hope not…

It Came From The FOIA File! DOE’s TPA Report & How Does Pearson Fit In?

No, this isn’t Office Space.  That was a TPS report.  But it sure does feel like the Delaware Department of Education runs just about the same!  Did you ever wonder how the DOE gets all their wonderful knowledge about teachers?  They get it from other corporate education reform companies like Pearson!  This file is from the infamous FOIA that another individual received early last month.  This may shed some light on some things for teachers in Delaware and why the DOE always seems like they are out to get them.  Remember, Pearson had a hand in this!  Chris Ruszkowski, the director of the Teacher Leader Effectiveness Unit at the DOE, must salivate when he gets reports like this.

Mark Murphy and the horrible, terrible, no good day

Just imagine being Mark Murphy today.  Having all that bad news heaped upon him today.  It can’t be easy being Delaware’s Secretary of Education.  I have to imagine what his day must have been like today…

Mark arrived late at the office.  He explained to his administrative assistant why he was half an hour late. “There I am, driving down Route 1.  Beautiful sunrise, nice weather.  John Kowalko called me with questions about opt out.  Every time I tried to talk he cut me off.  Half an hour later, he’s still going.  I had to take it off blue tooth.  That’s when he nabbed me and I got a ticket.” “How fast were you going?” she asked.  “I wasn’t going too fast, I was going too slow.  I was going 35 in a 65.”

Mark went to his morning meetings and went over the agenda for the State Board meeting.  He spilled some coffee all over his brand-new white shirt when Penny Schwinn came running in with big news.  Mark read the news and his face turned pale, as if someone had taken his favorite pair of glasses.  Then his wife called.  “Mark, I just heard.  Are you okay?”  “No, I’m not okay.  Two years in a row.  How come I’m not in the top ten?”  “Mark, are you okay?  What are you talking about?  Have you been doing those Smarter Balanced interim tests again?”  “No, it’s Holodick.  I’m the Secretary of the whole gosh-darn Delaware education system, and he’s still making $45,000 more than me.  It just isn’t right.  And those not nice bloggers keep saying he will replace me one day.  Will he get to keep his salary then?”  “Maybe you’ll get his job honey.  It would be closer to home.  But that’s not what I called about.  It’s this article in Newsworks…”

Mrs. Murphy was cut off by the director of the Teacher and Leader Effectiveness Unit.  “Boss, holy crap, you gotta be pissed!  I’ll show those #@$%ing teachers!  I think it’s time for Operation Human Capital Drop!”  “Christopher Ruszkowsi, good gracious, I’m on the phone with my wife.  Can you come back at another time?”  “Sure Murph, I’ll come back in five.”  Murphy just stared at him as the “Rus Man” gave an enthusiastic thumbs up leaving the office.

“Sorry honey, what were you calling about?”  “On Newsworks, they reported…”  This time it was David Blowman, his Deputy Secretary.  “Mark, my friend, I’m so sorry.  We need to do a root-cause analysis and find out who put them up to this.”  “David, I’m on the line with Mrs….”  “Oh dear heavens Mark, I’m so sorry.  I will embark immediately.”  The coffee on Mark’s shirt was still seeping down his shirt.

“I’m going to have to call you back,” as Mark abruptly said his goodbyes.  This had been a hell of a morning, and all he wanted to do was crawl back into bed and watch “Common Core for Common People Part 9: The Commonalities of Common Teachers.”  He missed it the other night when Earl Jaques kept calling him asking for advice on how to handle the media.  Ruszkowski ran into his office again, “Holy crap Murph, your supposed to have green clothes on St. Patrick’s Day, not spill it on your shirt!”  Mark just stared at him.  “What, I was just messing around Boss!  Anyways, you know I got your back on this.  I’m gonna TFA their schools like we’ve never seen before.  I got an ad on Craigslist as we speak!  And we are going to lower the requirement from 5 weeks to 3 weeks to get them in faster.”  “But that’s not in regulation Christopher, we can’t just…”  “Sure we can, we’ve done it before.  Remember that time when we…”

Karen Field Rogers, his Associate Secretary of Financial Reform and Resource Management came into his office.  “Mark, I think you spilled some coffee on…”  “Yeah, the Boss doesn’t really have the luck of the Irish today!” Ruszkowski shouted.  “What can I do for you Karen?”  “I just got off the phone with Rep. Hudson.  She’s going to need us to do a cursive study.  Do we have any funds left from Race To The Top to do an RFP for a contractor on this?” she asked.  “I don’t know.  Call Herdman, he controls all that.”  “But Mark, Jack wants this out there right away.   He think this might turn the tide with the opt out movement and distract parents from the blogs.”  “Better call Paul!” Ruszkowsi shouted.  Mark looked at them both, his cheeks as red as John Young’s Red Pen editions on Transparent Christina.  “Look, I have to run out to Target.  I’ll handle it when I get back.”

Mark drove down to Target.  He was in such a hurry, he didn’t realize he parked in a handicapped spot.  As he ran into the store, he accidentally ran into a little boy.  As he helped him up, the boy sneezed in his face.  “Can this day get any worse?” Mark asked himself.  He got to the checkout line with a new white shirt.  The cashier was on her cell phone saying “Oh my God, I can’t believe it.”  Mark looked at her and asked “Is everything alright ma’am?”  “Yeah, I’m on Exceptional Delaware, and they just announced the DSEA voted for no confidence in that Mark Murphy guy.”  “Don’t you mean the CEA and RCEA?”  “No, that was last week.  This just came out today.  Sorry, let me ring you up.”  Mark reached for his wallet, but it wasn’t there.  He remembered he left it on the dashboard when he got his ticket.  “I’ll be right back, I left my wallet in my car.”  “I can’t keep this order open.  What’s your name?”  Murphy said “Never mind” and ran out.

He noticed a police officer standing over his car, writing something.  “Officer, is everything okay?”  “Sir, you parked in a handicapped space but you don’t have the plates or even the placard.  I have to give you a ticket.”  “You do realize I’m a high-level official in this state?” Murphy asked the officer.  “Oh are you?  This isn’t something you can just ignore or shake it off.”  Mark recognized the face immediately.  It was that Dover cop who did the Taylor Swift lip-synch video on Youtube.  How could he ever forget?  His children played the video non-stop the weekend it was released.  “I am the Secretary of Education Sir.”  “Oh, so you want to opt out of getting a ticket.  But that could affect funding,” as the cop laughed.  “Here you go Mr. Secretary.  By the way, it looks like you spilled some coffee on your shirt.”

Mark went back into the store, got another shirt, and the only cashier available was the one he went to before.  “Oh, you found your wallet!”  Mark gave her his card.  “Can I see some ID?”  Mark showed her his license.  “Hey, are you the same Mark Murphy as the DOE guy?”  “Yes I am.”  “That has to bite, having all those teachers saying you suck.”  “I haven’t read the article yet.”  “I still have Exceptional Delaware up on my iPad.  Do you want to read it?”  Mark muttered under his breath.  The last thing he wanted to do was read Exceptional Damn Delaware.  This blogger had been a thorn in his side for nine months, after dealing with Kilroys and the rest all those years.  “I’m good.”

Mark stopped by WaWa, changed into his new shirt in the bathroom.  As he came out, Donna Johnson, the executive director of the State Board saw him.  “Mark, are you okay?  I just left the building and everyone said you were really upset about the whole DSEA article.”  “I’m okay, we will get through this.  How is everyone else doing?”  “What are you talking about Mark?  It was just you.  They didn’t give the DOE and the State Board a vote of no confidence.  It was just you.”  Mark stared at Donna and felt his world spinning around him.  Since the bathroom doors are right next to the service door, Mark wasn’t paying attention when a delivery man pushed the door open with a cart causing the door to swing into Mark.  Mark felt the lights go out around him.

He woke up in a bright room.  Everything was blurry.  Mark went to push his glasses up, but they weren’t there.  He heard a voice.  “Murph.  You’re up.  Hot damn, you are a mess!”  It was Ruszkowski.  “Where am I?”  “You’re at Bayhealth.  You passed out in WaWa man!  Donna called me.  She’s in the next room.”  “What happened to her?” Mark asked.  “She hit her head against a Twinkie display when you pushed her down.  She’ll be okay, only a couple stitches.”  Mark went to get up, but he couldn’t move.  “Don’t try to get up Boss.  You’ll be in traction for a couple days.  You actually broke your ass Murph!”  Ruszkowski kept talking about how he talked to Paul and Laurissa about getting some TFA action going immediately in light of the DSEA announcement.  “In fact, there’s a new bill to get another year extension.  Can you believe that Boss?  Those *&%$ing legislators think they know more about education than we do.  Anyways, I gotta get back.  I know Jack is waiting to see you.”

Murphy started smiling.  Jack always had a way of making him feel better.  He looked outside, and it was dark out.  How long had he been unconscious?  Jack came in.  “Mark, Mark, Mark.  This isn’t good.  You made more news today than you’ve had during your entire tenure as my Secretary.”  Mark wanted to cry.  “I’m going to have to temporarily replace you while you mend.”  “Who do you have in mind Jack?” Murphy asked.  “I was thinking about Mark Holodick…”  Murphy screamed.  An endless scream.  It was heard by children down the street at Dover South Elementary School.  Priests came running out from Holy Cross across the street.  As Murphy stopped, Jack looked at Mark.  “Can I get you some coffee?”  Murphy screamed again…

DPAS II Proposal For DE State Board of Education, Prior To Their Vote

The below e-mail and documents were sent to the Delaware State Board of Education prior to their vote to approve or decline the regulatory changes for DPAS-II.  This highly controversial regulatory change troubled the vast majority of educators in Delaware.  The last document is quite disturbing, as is the e-mail from Chris Ruszkowski to his superiors…

Fri 6/13/2014 12:47 PM

Ruszkowski Christopher

DDOE Deck in support of revisions to Regulations 106A/7A/8A

To  Murphy Mark <mark.murphy@doe.k12.de.us>; O’Mara Lindsay <lindsay.omara@state.de.us>; McLaughlin Mary Kate <marykate.mclaughlin@doe.k12.de.us>

cc  Niebrzydowski Eric <eric.niebrzydowski@doe.k12.de.us>; Young Shana <shana.young@doe.k12.de.us>; Alleyne Atnre <atnre.alleyne@doe.k12.de.us>; Haberstroh Susan Keene <susan.haberstroh@doe.k12.de.us>

MM/LOM/MKM–

Attached is a deck that we’ve put together for Donna’s internal use as she preps SBOE members for next week’s vote.  Shana did much of the heavy lift here, working with Michelle & Atnre as well to recap the year that was. 

Since the deck is meant for internal usage, it’s not polished in terms of messaging.  But what it does include is:

1) The twenty changes we’ve made to C-V based upon educator feedback

2) The numerous educator engagement meetings we’ve held this year

3) The rating patterns that lead to an overall rating of “Needs Improvement”, as proposed)

4) An awesome slide w/ data on the difference (for students) between being rated NI & HE

5) On overview of the high-level regulatory revisions in all three regs…including how we’re raising the bar for administrators

6) Within the second attachment, all of the revisions to teacher evaluation that got left on the cutting room floor as a result of educator feedback.

Working to get over the finish line next week, and to have us 100% ready to deliver training in July.  Susan has been instrumental in helping us coordinate on the regulatory work.

I’m thinking some version of this could be helpful in other avenues as well–just let us know.  Please don’t use it without giving us another shot at a second coat of paint.

And let us know if you have questions–

CR

From: Young Shana Sent: Thursday, June 12, 2014 10:42 AM To: Johnson Donna R Cc: Ruszkowski Christopher Subject: Deck in support of 106/7/8

Hi Donna,

Attached is a background deck in support of the proposed revisions for 106A, 107A, and 108A. This document is intended for your internal use not for distribution so please let us know if you want a public version. We included and overview of the Department’s track record of engagement, stakeholder outreach, an overview of the proposed revisions, and some analyses of their impact. I hope this is helpful—please let me know if you’d like any other information.

Best,

Shana 

Shana Young

Chief of Staff

Teacher and Leader Effectiveness Unit

Delaware Department of Education

401 Federal Street, Suite #2

Dover, DE 19901-3639

302.531.5243 (M) 

302.735.4131 (T)  302.739.5894 (F)

shana.young@doe.k12.de.us

 

 

 

What Is The Human Capital 2017 Program at the Delaware DOE?

Is this an active program at the Delaware Department of Education or something that was proposed and scrubbed?  Read the below information and judge for yourself!

Part 3 of Christmas Presents for the Enemies of Delaware Public Education @KilroysDelaware @ed_in_de @RCEAPrez @Apl_Jax @ecpaige @Roof_O @DelawareBats #netde #eduDE #Delaware #edchat

touchette

First up is a man who is not known outside of the education world in Delaware.  But he will have a huge effect on the education landscape starting in March.  He is the spearhead of the Smarter Balanced Assessment at the Delaware DOE.  He is also a data freak.  Brian Touchette, we have found a more effective way for you to play with data.

datatoy

This is data you can play with anytime you want.  It can’t be used to close schools or judge teachers and students.  You can play with Data 24 hours a day, all week long.  But please, stop using our children as data.  They have individual minds.

ruszkowski

Next up is our surfer dude at the DOE.  As chief of the teacher effectiveness group, Chris Ruszkowski is tasked with finding ways to make teachers less effective by drowning them in professional development and more nefarious ways to make them look bad.  His plans didn’t work out too well in 2014 as 99% of teachers in Delaware were effective or better.  We know there is a contract bid for an evaluation of the system your group helped to create, but might we suggest something that has worked through the years?

ruskowskipresent

For your Christmas present, we thought you could benefit from a group skydiving gift certificate.  The key word here is group, as it takes a collaborative effort with all stakeholders to get results.  Demeaning and ridiculing our educators is NOT effective, and the only way you will ever get their respect is through something we like to call teamwork!

visionnetwork

For the group that can’t seem to figure out what year their conquest of Delaware schools will happen, we have a simple Christmas gift for you.  Like Mr. Touchette above, this is a vision you can play with anytime you like.  We just don’t want you sharing your vision with our state moving forward.  Your plan reeks with the stench of corporate education reform, and we grow tired of it.

This is Vision.  He’s an Avenger.  This will be his year, because he will be in the upcoming Avengers: Age of Ultron movie.  The Vision is a soulless android who can become intangible.  Kind of like your vision for education in Delaware.

IMG_20140716_210455