Ron Russo, the former Head of School at the Charter School of Wilmington, launched The BOLD Plan today on Facebook. Using the tag “Education is a business”, Russo managed to take the most horrible ideas ever from the past three decades and put them into a single pile of absolute garbage. While I don’t think this plan will go anywhere, it is symptomatic of the very same corporate education reform think tank crap that has proliferated American public education and turned Delaware’s school system into a very bad joke. The whole plan can be read below. Continue reading
I was wondering why Delaware Governor John Carney’s office resent the same media advisory today that they sent on Friday. I figured there had to be some change to the big shindig tomorrow at Legislative Hall. And there it was, staring at me like a full moon on a summer night, one addition to the number of attendees: Continue reading
Leave it to Earl Jaques to start off the 150th General Assembly House Education Committee with a load of crap right from the get-go. At the first House Education Committee meeting next Wednesday, legislators will get to hear the latest corporate education reform malarkey from the Vision Coalition.
Really Earl? That’s the best you can do? What’s next? A presentation the next week from DelawareCAN? The Charter Schools Network? Ugh. Would you let DSEA give a huge presentation to the Education Committee? Or how about a group of opt out parents to explain why the Smarter Balanced Assessment is the worst test ever? Perhaps you could let all the Christina Wilmington teachers get together and let the legislators know about how they feel about the MOU. Or get the Odyssey education association to come in and talk about what is going on with their board. Nope, instead, we get the usual flim-flam from the snake oil Rodelian led band of education bandits.
I have no doubt they will be taking credit for what is to come.
At the end of the Christina School District Board of Education meeting last week, State Representative Paul Baumbach spoke before the board. He thanked the board and the district for the changes they implemented in the past year and “strongly encouraged” them to keep doing it. There was a specific reason Baumbach did this. He admitted the General Assembly doesn’t help. Continue reading
I warned them. Many times. Sit at the table and you will be on the table. The Delaware State Education Association was swallowed whole. By who? Continue reading
As I delve into year five on this blog, sometimes it is healthy to take a look back at my humble beginnings. From the crazy legislation I proposed in 2014 to my modern-day attempt to get a Secretary of Education removed from power, it has been a crazy four plus years! It started out with a plan and turned into so much more! Continue reading
DelawareCAN, the offshoot of 50CAN, came to Delaware in 2017. Headed up by a former Delaware Department of Education employee, Atnre Alleyne, there is now a Political Action Committee (PAC). They released their campaign finance report two days ago and some big Delaware millionaires are donating big bucks! Continue reading
Last night I wrote an article about the Delaware Pay For Success legislation, Senate Bill #242. I stand firm in my convictions and I am calling on ALL Delawareans to contact their Delaware Senator and urge them to either table SB 242 or vote no today. The more I thought about this legislation, the more disturbed I am with it. Say the Pay For Success program an investor initiates does not reach its objectives. The state won’t pay the investor for this “project”. But what happens with all the data collected during the program? Does the investor get to keep that? As we all know, in the 21st Century, data is currency. It is bought and sold all the time. When that data concerns children, we have cause to worry. The whole point of the “investment” could very well be the data collection that comes with it. We see massive data collection on pre-schoolers in these kind of programs going on across the country. Investors love social-emotional learning and are investing millions of dollars for that treasure trove of data collection on students. Children. Think about that.
Let this sink in for a minute- the person pushing this the most is a DuPont. A member of a family that is worth billions of dollars. Someone with deep connections and the ability to snap their fingers so things go his way. His brother already runs Zip Code Wilmington, a coding school. There runs the Longwood Foundation. He is heavily involved in the Delaware Community Foundation which funds the Rodel Foundation. We need to wake up and question motivations here. They are already “invested” in Delaware education.
Good evening distinguished members of the Delaware Senate,
I am urging you to table Senate Bill #242. This bill, dealing with Pay For Success programs in Delaware, is being fast-tracked through the General Assembly.
My concerns with the bill are the eventual forays Pay For Success programs will make into public education. While this bill is being touted as an economic development bill (which I support), it will also be used for “social programs”. There are not enough safeguards in this bill to prevent potential fraud and abuse. I also believe any programs like this, that would use our children as guinea pigs for an investor, is fundamentally and morally wrong.
I have put out the call for Delaware citizens to attempt to stop this bill. But given that it was introduced Tuesday, released from committee today, and will be on the Senate Ready list tomorrow does not fill me with hope. I attended the committee session today and voiced my concern. I was pretty much told to trust the system and if problems arise those could be fixed later on.
This is a huge program that the general public knows NOTHING about. It was put in a committee that does not usually generate much citizen traffic aside from lobbyists. There was no big splashy article from the News Journal on this bill as we see so often with other bills. It is my contention the intention was to get this through as soon as possible which is not a sign of transparency whatsoever.
I put up an article on Exceptional Delaware tonight which goes more in-depth with my concerns. I urge you to table this bill or even vote no on it. I am not opposed to some parts of the bill, but I believe it should be held over until the 150th General Assembly. Let the public weigh on it. Let’s do some research into who this benefits. Please, let’s look at some of the very controversial ways programs like this are being used. The Salt Lake City program, run by Goldman Sachs, is praised by the investment community. But the data in that program was flawed to begin with. And it dealt with finding ways to reduce future special education services for students with disabilities.
I respect both the prime sponsors on this legislation, but it needs to be looked at very carefully before we rush into this sort of thing.
I contacted Mike Matthews from the Delaware State Education Association and urged him to have DSEA weigh in on this bill. After I emailed all the Delaware Senators, I forwarded the email to all of the State Representatives. I begged them to do what is right and to do their due diligence with this legislation should it pass the Senate.
Good evening members of the Delaware House of Representatives,
I sent the below email to every single member of the Senate. Several other Delaware citizens are sending similar emails to them as well. If this bill should happen to pass the Senate tomorrow with no changes, it would fall on the House to do what is necessary. I am not 100% opposed to this bill. But there are very real dangers that will come out of it. We talk about unintended consequences with education all the time. While this is not an education bill, it will dip into that sector. Please do what is right.
I spread the message far and wide last night. The clock is ticking. If you want to take action and contact your Delaware Senator but aren’t sure who they are, please go to this map: Who is my Delaware State Senator?
I have no doubt defenders of the bill are emailing the Senate at this very moment saying things like “This is a great bill that will help the Delaware economy”, or “This is from a blogger who thinks everything in education has some nefarious motive”, or “Just ignore him”. So I will ask the Delaware Senate this question: do you value children or profits? Because you have the chance to do something good here. To do what is right. Do it!
The Senate adjourns at 2pm today. It is #7 on their agenda but bills can be switched around. Time is running out…
The Delaware State Education Association needs to keep a very close watch on a bill flying through the Delaware General Assembly! Scratch that. They need to be all over Senate Bill #242 like white on rice! They have the political muscle to get some fast changes on this bill and they need to flex it yesterday! This bill has more head-scratching sponsors on it who should know better! Continue reading
A few days ago, I published an article about a Project Veritas sting with a New Jersey Education Association local leader. Part of my article was an email sent to local Delaware presidents about how to deal with potential sting operations. That email did not include a public whipping of the NJ local president and I called them out for it.
Today, Project Veritas picked up on my post on their own website. First and foremost, I am not a former teacher as Veritas suggested in the video their leader put up today. At one point, I was a paraprofessional for a few months and I substituted for a couple of years. Yes, I was very disgusted by the Veritas video and the email from DSEA which had another email from NEA as part of it. With that being said, I want to point out a few things about Mike Matthews, the President of DSEA.
Mike is a good guy. He truly wants the best for Delaware students. He went from a shock blogger to teaching to becoming involved in his local union. After he was President of the Red Clay EA he was elected to DSEA President last year. I am friends with Mike. From the moment he told me he was going to run for DSEA President he was very clear that he knew at times I would write about DSEA and himself. I also know Mike would be the very first to say “this guy in NJ acted horrible and he should have been fired”. That’s just who he is.
I don’t tend to give a heads up to folks who are the subjects of my posts. Maybe I should, but I don’t. The reasons for that are two-fold. First, they may tell me NOT to do so. Or worse, they may try to sugarcoat the purpose of the article and attempt to water it down or whitewash it. This blog has always been about getting information out. And yes, that comes with my opinions more often than not. It is up to the reader to agree or disagree with those opinions. Either way, I will keep blogging truth in education even if it is ugly at times. With that being said, if information comes out after an article that may explain things, I will post that as well. There are gray areas in situations and I recognize that. Or I may have information but it isn’t the entire picture. Folks are always welcome to come to me before I post stuff and give me a heads up. Chances are pretty good I have some basic knowledge of a situation already so some proactive work on their end is a good thing.
I do not think the teacher unions are bad. I believe they serve a necessary purpose for teachers. We have all seen in Delaware what can happen when teachers are not unionized. Charter school teachers have zero protection when it comes to terminations. I have suggested many times charter school teachers should unionize. The majority of their membership are just ordinary teachers, doing their jobs.
Where I take issue with the teacher unions are the public persona they give off. And that usually comes from leadership. All day on Friday I was blasted on Facebook threads about how unreliable Project Veritas can be in their investigations. But I do not believe this video of the NJ union leader was doctored. Could Veritas have cut out some stuff? I have no idea. But the guy said what he said, multiple times. Unless Veritas paid him to torpedo his career and face the possibility of investigations from his district, I would say the guy was telling the (horrible) truth.
I made no secret a few years ago about my frustration with DSEA over the opt out bill in Delaware, House Bill 50. I wanted them to support it the same way so many of our Delaware teachers did. They could have had a huge influence with our General Assembly overriding Governor Markell’s veto but they sat on the fence. As well, when Democrat Senator Sokola and Democrat State Rep. Jaques introduced the testing inventory resolution, DSEA backed it publicly to the hilt. Even though I told them it was a smokescreen and it was an anti-opt out measure. In time, I was proven right as the Assessment Inventory Committee was so much smoke and mirrors and absolutely nothing came of it aside from a fancy report with information everyone already knew. When the same Senator Sokola was up for re-election in 2016, DSEA endorsed him through their PAC and I called them out for it. This was the same Senator who killed a teacher evaluation bill with horrible amendments and did an extreme disservice to public education teachers in Delaware. The reason for endorsing him? They didn’t want the Delaware Senate to flip to Republican and have Delaware become a Right To Work state. Even though there was zero danger of that because the Democrat Governor and the Democrat House had no danger of losing their power. Sokola wound up winning that election by a couple of percentage points.
I have publicly saluted DSEA many times. Their support of the diploma bill this year amazed me. I know they have been pushing for funding for basic special education students in Kindergarten to 3rd grade as long as I have. They are always present at Legislative Hall and lobbying for common sense education legislation. I could write a lot about the good DSEA does for our schools, students, and teachers. But that means I also have to write about the bad.
I wish DSEA and the NEA, instead of worrying about infiltrations, recognized the legitimacy of the Veritas investigation and publicly slammed the NJ leader. We can argue all day long about Veritas but the facts are real: this guy would have done anything to protect a teacher. And I don’t believe that is one teacher union leader operating in a silo. Instead of trying to play duck and cover, the teacher unions should be rooting out people like Perry and doing thorough investigations into these practices. When ANY student is subject to abuse of any sort by an adult, it is incumbent upon those who know to expose it. I believe NEA, DSEA, and Mike Matthews know this. But yes, that email did want to make me vomit. I do recognize it was an internal email meant for local Delaware education association leaders and as such, an omission of what the NJ guy did was not the purpose of the email.
Mike was one of the first I met on this blogging journey four years ago. We share many of the same ideologies and thoughts on corporate education reform policy. But he is also the leader of the Delaware State Education Association. Which puts him in a position where, given what I write about, that organization gets on my radar. I still believe Mike Matthews is the best President for DSEA right now. I just want to see more of the spitfire Mike we used to see. When I say spitfire, I don’t mean the anti-Trump stuff but the railing against horrible education policy. That was what elevated him to where he is now. When everything becomes anti-Trump, it becomes complicated. Because many of the horrible education policies our country faces were created by President Obama and Arne Duncan, both Democrats. The party doesn’t matter. It is the corporate machine that keeps those wheels greased. Throwing grenades at Trump does NOTHING to change the very dangerous course public education is on. We need the teacher unions standing up to bad policy. They are silent on the overwhelming amount of digital technology in our classrooms. Student privacy is going the way of the dinosaur and we all know it. Where is DSEA and the NEA on that? The problem is when NEA leadership creates NEA foundations that support the work of Bill Gates and the corporate education reformers in privatizing public education. They are helping to buy the rope that is putting their own organization in a noose.
Someone once told me the teacher unions are about the teachers first. Everything else is secondary. And I get that. But because teachers are a part of education, which is primarily about educating students, the students should be just as important to the teacher unions as the teachers. If that were the case, we would NEVER hear about any situation where a teacher who commits a wrong gets to keep their job. Until they do that, teacher unions are signing their own death warrant. It is not indicative of all teacher unions, but it is a very ugly truth and instead of hiding from it, NEA and AFT need to root out the evils within their associations.
**UPDATED, 1:15pm: I do not have “access” to either DSEA or NEA emails. This email came to me. I have absolutely no ability to get into any DSEA or NEA servers nor would I want to.
After weeks of work, all of the Delaware Public Education salaries over $100,000 have been posted with a few exceptions. Those are four charter schools who either did not respond or will in the next couple of days. But there is more than enough data to make some sense out of all this. Many asked why I was posting these. There were several reasons: requests, comparisons, money tracking, and general curiosity. But the main reason was to see if I could answer the age-old question- “Are there too many administrators?” Finally, I am prepared to answer that. Continue reading
Based on their 2015 tax filing, the Rodel Foundation of Delaware Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Paul Herdman, makes an astonishing $398,000. Keep in mind this was in 2015 so he is most likely well over that pesky $400,000 barrier. Good lord! I found lots of interesting stuff in this tax filing, signed off by Dr. Paul Herdman on May 12th, 2017. As well, I looked up some of Rodel’s best friends and found TONS of information on them as well! Continue reading
A few days ago, Kilroy’s Slower Delaware posited Jack Markell could run for U.S. Senator Tom Carper’s seat. I commented I thought he should stay out of politics altogether. I’ve always known he would hobnob around the corporate education arena. Today, an announcement came out that Ridge-Lane Limited Partners is going to expand their social-impact merchant bank. When I saw who else is a part of this, it made my head throb. Continue reading
Last Friday, the final report for Delaware House Resolution #20 came out. The General Assembly passed this resolution last July and ordered the Office of Management and Budget, the Department of Finance, and the Office of the Controller General to conduct a study on Pay For Success methodology and how it could work in Delaware. What did the report recommend? And who wrote it? Continue reading
In one of the most interesting pictures I’ve ever received, it made me question why we even have a Delaware Secretary of Education. On Tuesday, Atnre Alleyne (the former Delaware Department of Education employee, the co-founder of TeenSharp, and the Director of DelawareCAN) posted a Facebook memory from a year ago. The interesting part is the picture he put with it because that was NOT in the original post at all. Continue reading
I normally wait to release this until the last day of the year, but this year’s hero demanded the honor sooner. You see, Laurie Howard passed away. Surrounded by her loved ones, she left us far too soon. Laurie was many things: a mother, a wife, a teacher, and a friend.
I’ve known Laurie for almost three years. I met her through this blog. A teacher in Caesar Rodney School District, Laurie and I were in fierce agreement on many things. That standardized testing in the form of the Smarter Balanced Assessment is wrong. That every single parent has a fundamental right to opt their child out of that test. That corporations are slowly taking over public schools and school districts are powerless to stop it.
Laurie even had her own short-lived blog but only a select few were aware it was her. Back in 2015, Laurie launched a blog where she challenged the Delaware State Education Association to fervently support House Bill 50. She called out DSEA leadership for their sheepish support of the legislation. The blog did not last long as Laurie was terrified of being found out and terminated from her job as a teacher. But it had an impact. From accounts I heard, Jenner was very upset about Laurie’s blog posts. But Laurie felt strongly the teacher’s union was in bed with the privateers in public education. At least their leadership was. I loved that blog and I wish Laurie had been able to continue it but I completely understand her reasoning to end it abruptly. Many assumed they knew who wrote that blog but they were wrong. It was a secret that I carried to her grave. But I know she would not mind having this knowledge out now. To me, it was one of her many legacies. My only regret is not saving her articles for posterity and remembrance. When Laurie shut down the blog she deleted all of the posts.
Laurie joined the Delaware Parent Teacher Association in 2015 so she could be in a position to advocate to a wider audience. She was well aware and did research on the corporate education reform movement and the dangers it posed in our public schools. One of her articles focused on how PISA was a misused test. One of her biggest worries was the growing amount of tracking going on with students. She felt, and I agree, that schools have become more about diagnosing students than educating them. She did not like the feds controlling education and thought they should stick their noses out of local control.
In 2016, Laurie started another blog in an attempt to save the Schwartz Center for the arts in Dover. She was a fervent supporter of theater and the arts. I wished she had won that fight as well.
Last Spring, Laurie was diagnosed with lung cancer. She was already set to retire at the end of the 2016-2017 school year. I had the honor of attending her retirement party at the Schwartz Center in Dover. She was happy and humbled by so many of her peers and friends celebrating her time as a Delaware educator.
I talked to Laurie over the summer, mostly on social media. She was scared. She didn’t want to leave. But she didn’t want the world to see this. I did my best to not talk about education matters because I wanted the borrowed time I spent with her to be about her and to see if she needed anything. On her Facebook page, she talked about how beautiful this world is and she put on a brave face. In the past few weeks, Laurie put this up on her account:
Okay, time is getting mighty precious lately. I’ve been brought to the Delaware Hospice Center in Milford. My hope is that the awesome care I’ve received the past two days here will provide for extended life opportunities with my friends and family! I was asked to help my friends figure out what to say or do as a result of this stay. Just know if I’m your FB friend, we are friends. I love you, I care about you and your family. You don’t have to send expressions of love and longtime friendships (unless you want too). My love and best wishes for a long and healthy life are sent without question. Love to all!
Laurie’s post was just who she was. A couple of years ago, Laurie was able to answer a question for me. One that haunted my soul for a long time. It was purely coincidental, and while I won’t get into the question, it did give me understanding and comfort about someone. For the longest time, I thought this person was evil incarnate but Laurie urged me to forgive this person. And I did. That’s who she was.
Together with our friend Natalie, we would haunt meetings in Dover. Especially the Assessment Inventory Committee and meetings about the opt out bill. We would give public comment about how bad the testing was and how it wasn’t right for Delaware children. Laurie’s struggles with students in the classroom over this test are very similar throughout the state. My only wish was that Laurie would have been able to use her voice at its full force because it was a voice worth hearing. I will miss you Laurie Howard. I find comfort that you are watching over all of us and I pray that you can impart your wisdom to those who think education is a financial playground. I know Laurie would want me to keep fighting the fight, and I will, the best I can. May you rest in peace my sweet friend.
Ever since Regulation 225 hit the Delaware Registrar of Regulations, I’ve been scratching my head over it. I’ve gone back and forth on it a few dozen times. To be crystal clear, I support any anti-discrimination measure for ANY student. No questions asked. Some of the Facebook comments I’ve seen from some who oppose the bill are filled with hate and misunderstanding. I’ve wondered what the purpose behind all this was, and today I may have received an answer. Continue reading
Delaware Governor John Carney hasn’t even been in his job a year and already he has managed to irk me more than former Governor Jack Markell. Why? Many reasons. Continue reading
I’d heard the rumor. The five Wilmington schools serving Christina students would fold into two. It was only a rumor until today when the News Journal published details of a confidential memorandum of understanding between the district and Governor Carney. Meanwhile, the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission, which has outlived its usefulness as of late, decided to hold an impromptu meeting while breaking state FOIA open meeting laws.
As per Jessica Bies’ News Journal article:
The Wilmington Education Improvement Commission, a state advisory committee formed by then-Gov. Jack Markell to come up with ideas to improve education in the city, was also scheduled to review Carney’s proposal Tuesday night. It did not publicly advertise the meeting in compliance with state law or post the agenda for the meeting until late Monday, after a News Journal reporter called and asked when it would be shared.
As per a source, this WEIC meeting was planned six weeks ago and the Mayor of Wilmington came to speak. A technicality of not posting the agenda in the required seven day window occurred. When Tony Allen arrived at the meeting, he advised the committee of the technicality and that no action would be taken at the meeting, including approving the minutes for the last meeting. While I have seen time and time again in FOIA complaints that a party forgot to post an agenda, it is my belief, even if a meeting is planned and they decide to only hold it for informational purposes, they should delay the meeting for appearances sake. How confidential is this memo if so many people had access to it before the Christina Board of Education even has it? Sounds like Carney and Christina want it to get out. I’ve heard people rambling for years that Christina needs to consolidate some of their schools but the way this happened is shady at best.
If Carney’s office released the document, it doesn’t sound like Superintendent Richard Gregg was too happy about it:
Superintendent Richard Gregg recommended removing the names of schools from the document before it came to the school board for the vote, and there was a discussion about having the governor refrain from using the schools’ names in public.
Who were the three school board members who met with district staff, Carney’s team, and the union representative? Why doesn’t the News Journal name those board members? And where is all the scoop on the Empowerment crap Carney is trying to foist upon the schools? More questions than answers. And the Delaware DOE is going to be the one to implement all these changes? Has Christina lost their ever-loving mind? But this is the part that scares the living hell out of me:
The memorandum says Carney and the state Education Department would ask the General Assembly for additional funding to renovate the schools, as well as provide trauma-informed training to principals and teachers. It also promises funding for a dual-generation education center, as well as “philanthropic monies to support all Wilmington schools,” starting with those in Christina.
Philanthropic monies… and what will they want in return? This is the beginning of the end of public education. Once you get foundations actually funding schools (they already help fund charter schools), these schools are no longer public. They become part of Carney’s “public-private partnerships” where FOIA and open meeting laws go out the window. You heard it here first. Carney is just continuing Markell’s agenda who was following all the corporate education reform crap. At this point, I can no longer refer to Carney as Markell 2.0. He is Carney, through and through. Selling out schools to corporations. This is so deliberate and in your face. He played Christina and their board like a fiddle. This is when we start to see social impact bonds hit Delaware. And Rodel is loving every second of it with their competency-based education and personalized digital learning crap. I won’t go so far as to say Carney is the devil, but he is certainly his willing accomplice and Secretary Bunting is just playing the part of the yes-woman and kissing King Carney’s ring he wears for whichever level of Dante’s Hell he serves. I can see why Carney picked her now. She will do whatever he wants.
When I attended the very first WEIC meeting, I advised them transparency is the glue to whatever they do. While I recognize human error, there is also accountability for recognizing that and taking the appropriate action. Not go ahead and hold the meeting anyway. The only way we can stop people from violating FOIA law is to call them out on it. I have made it my mission to do so for over three years now. I will not hold back on that for any organization that is subject to FOIA law.
I hope Carney locked the General Assembly into funding this hot mess, otherwise it becomes yet another unfunded mandate in Delaware. I’m sure deals have been made behind the scenes. If not, the philanthropic foundations like Rodel and the other vultures waiting to pounce on public education will assuredly send their lobbyists to hound them for the next seven months.