Yes, Rodel has some competition coming to town! My fervent hope is that they compete with each other so much they just cancel each other out. Has Rodel’s time come and gone? Or is there more to this new corporate education reform company setting up shop in Delaware? Continue reading “17 Who Will Make An Impact On 2017: Rodel’s Competition”
The former Superintendent of Woodbridge and Cape Henlopen, as well as the very recent former Executive Director of the Delaware Association of School Administrators could have a very big 2017. As well, he served as the interim Superintendent in the Woodbridge School District. Kevin Carson could be handed a role that will define his legacy in Delaware. This is a man who knows the ins and outs of Delaware education.
I’ve met Carson several times, usually at Legislative Hall. As the head of DASA, Carson represented every single Delaware school administrator during one of Delaware’s most tumultuous times in education. He challenged former Secretary of Education Mark Murphy with a vote of no confidence, along with leaders from the two biggest local teacher unions in the state and the Delaware State Education Association.
If Carson is picked as John Carney’s Secretary of Education, he will have to juggle many balls all at once. There is the mounting deficit in our state budget. Delaware will be submitting it’s Every Student Succeeds Act state plan. New charter school applications will begin pouring in. A growing chorus of Delaware citizens are demanding more financial transparency with education. The Rodel engine will want Carson on their side. Education technology is poised to dilute the teaching profession to something unrecognizable. Education funding will continue to be a thorn in the side of Delaware students.
Carson would be in charge of a Delaware Department of Education that is ripe for change. He has the logistic ability and intelligence to transform the Department into something that delivers on transparency and better communication. As well, he would serve as the Secretary for the State Board of Education and would have valuable input on who would be good picks for future board members. There is nothing in Delaware state code that would prevent Carney from picking an entirely new State Board of Education. There is now one vacancy on the board and Carson’s opinion on who that replacement should be could be pivotal.
Carson would also have to deal with events transpiring at a federal level. President Trump and his Cabinet of private sector billionaires will want to change education and privatize it. As a blue state, Delaware will fight this tooth and nail. But one compromise could threaten Delaware education in varying ways. We need a Secretary that has vast amounts of experience in dealing with events at the local level. Someone who sees the issues from a wide perspective. Someone who would be the voice for Delaware students and educators, who understands the complexities that divide us.
I completely understand that any Delaware Secretary of Education would have to conform to Governor Carney’s platform. With Jack Markell, he had a very clear agenda and God forbid if you disagreed with that agenda. He micro-managed Delaware education to the point of absurdity. But at the same time he let financial issues run amok in our schools. While I don’t see Carney as well-versed in education matters as Markell was, I believe that will become a strength of a positive Secretary. I would like to think Carney would give his Secretary more leeway in implementing education policy in Delaware. Godowsky was a mixed bag. Like I’ve said before, he would have been a great Secretary under a different Governor.
Nothing against the other potential choice for Carney’s Secretary of Education, but we need someone who has served as more than a leader of one district. We need someone who has a multi-leveled array of experience in Delaware education leadership. That man is Kevin Carson.
Every once in a while, Kilroy posts something about me. It is usually in regards to some comment someone made over on his blog. But lately, especially on social media, I see Kilroy taking potshots at DSEA and a couple of members in particular. This led to a dust-up on Kilroy’s Facebook page tonight, over all things, social justice.
It appears Kilroy didn’t understand the context and went into a tirade over it. This led to other commenters talking about the validity of unions and how the dues work. Steve Newton completely evaporated the opposition and proved conclusively that union dues come with the application for a teaching job in Delaware school districts. It isn’t a question of right or wrong, it is just the way it is.
Kilroy needs to stop trying to poke holes into DSEA and their upcoming elections and really focus on the things that are happening outside of teacher unions. Like the complete and utter privatization of public education if certain parties get their way. Like the Rodel-led hijacking of Delaware’s Every Student Succeeds Act state plan. Like the Christina-charter school settlement that will take away funds from every single school district in the state for things that are rightfully excluded from charter payments. Like an incoming Governor who has not announced any leadership positions for Delaware education with a little over a month before his inauguration. Like the swarm of education technology in our classrooms that is collecting a plethora of private student information with algorithms we will never know about. Like how it doesn’t matter who won President of the country, that march to privatization continues. Like the “Bad News Betsy” that will make Arne Duncan and John King look like rank amateurs. Like the stealth tests coming our way sooner than we think in Rodel’s when you wish upon a star personalized learning and competency-based education environment.
For someone who claims to support teacher unions, he sure does talk about them a lot. Especially their role in Race To The Top. Six years ago. Which, I might add, all nineteen school districts signed up for, along with the Delaware PTA and every other education organization in the state. To say DSEA was the only party that led RTTT into Delaware is very misleading. Being real here, I wasn’t involved in all of this when RTTT came out. So my window on this is seen in perceptions of that time from others after the fact in the past few years. But there comes a time when beating it over us is not productive. Who is still in DSEA leadership from that time? I don’t think anyone running for DSEA leadership was instrumental in the decisions from six years ago. But if Kilroy has a grandchild in Red Clay, he needs to get up to speed with what is going on in education. Cause it is not pretty and he needs to be on the right side of things. I admire the hell out of Kilroy. He got me my start in the Delaware blogosphere. And I want him to focus on more because he has a great deal of influence on education.
In terms of social justice, I’m not sure what context Kilroy took it in, but as a result of Kilroy’s post, Mike Matthews updated his status to show what his definition of social justice is:
Social justice means to me…
…standing at a school board meeting begging for more supports for special needs students.
…going to Dover and speaking in support of the Opt Out movement before the House education committee.
…reading a book to kindergarteners on why sharing and respect are key values.
…protesting the State’s attempts to shut down community schools because of test scores.
…letting a Black student know that when all around them they feel like the world hates them, that their life DOES matter.
…demanding that Delaware get off the list of four states that doesn’t fund ELL students.
…ensuring that ALL students know that a classroom is a place where they can be themselves — no matter how different — and be accepted.
…organizing educators to make sure they understand their rights to speak up and ADVOCATE for their students when the time comes.
Social Justice, to me, is about education and NEVER indoctrination. Social justice is about respect. Kindness. Acceptance. Organizing. Advocating. Speaking up. Believing in who you are as a human being and being able to take action to fight for the most vulnerable.
That’s what social justice is. While that phrase may be dangerous to some, I will always wear it like a badge of honor.
Besides, it’s too much fun being an outspoken pain in the ass sometimes.
Well said Mr. Matthews. That is some social justice I can get behind. While I have been critical of DSEA leadership in the past, I have always seen the potential of what a united and strong DSEA could become in this state. A DSEA that will have to align with parents in the coming years if they want to save public education. Perhaps that is why I have been critical of DSEA at times because I have high expectations for them to be the voice that has the power to influence public education in this state, not be an observer while others feast on the scraps.
We ALL need to be concerned about Donald Trump and his very poor selection of Betsy DeVos as U.S. Secretary of Education. Trump really doesn’t have a clue about education. But he will surround himself with people who do. And what they know and what they have planned is not good.
Once upon a holiday season, in the land of Delaware, there lived a man who would become Governor. He was promised the throne eight years ago, but another man took his seat. In this land, the people chose their Governor every four years. The man who would be Governor finally won the seat and 58.34% of the people rejoiced. As he sat in his car one day after returning from his job in D.C., he looked out the window. He saw the sun setting in the distance.
John was anxious to get things going in Delaware. He had to officially wait until January 17th, 2017. “Only 47 days,” John said to himself. He had been so busy for so long. Things wouldn’t slow down for him in the next four years, and hopefully the four after that. His day was filled with phone calls, texts, and emails. Everyone wanted a piece of Delaware. He knew not everyone could get a piece. He called his wife from the driveway and told her he was going to go for a walk to clear his head. Always supportive, she knew John needed this and told him to take all the time he needed. John drove to the nearby park. As he walked out of his car, he put on his hat. It was rare he could get away from his security detail but at the same time he didn’t want to be bothered. John walked down the trail…
Meanwhile, 3,529.75 miles away, the jolly one was settling into his favorite chair. The elves were busy preparing for the big day. Santa was happy he had an extra day to prepare this year. As a tradition, during these leap years, he would pick one day off each leap year to do whatever he wanted. Mrs. Claus always forgot about it, but Santa didn’t. Today was his day off! Santa picked up his laptop and on his favorites bar was the website he enjoyed going to the most: Exceptional Delaware. Ever since Santa learned about Common Core and opt out, he found himself checking back in to see what was happening with the children of Delaware and the rest of the country. Santa was not happy when he found out what happened a few weeks after Christmas earlier this year. The people of Delaware wanted the lawmakers to override Governor Jack’s veto of the opt out bill, but it got hung up in some silly rule business. He knew exactly which of those lawmakers would be getting coal this year, led by their Speaker and the leaders below him. Santa heard there was a new Governor in Delaware so he decided he would pay him a visit. While he didn’t usually venture so far south during the busy month, it was his day off and he could do whatever he wanted. At least the things Mrs. Claus wouldn’t have cause to file for divorce over.
As hard as he tried, John couldn’t stop thinking about his plans. He didn’t count on the new President actually winning the election. All his plans were contingent on the Hill winning. But the Tower Man won and he had to plan around it. The Tower Man was picking people who John couldn’t picture running things down in D.C. His office was frantic over the mess. John had to strategize very carefully how he moved forward with everything. Not only did the Tower Man win, but the two bodies of Congress won a majority in the election as well. John’s Delaware was still blue, but a shocking election there threatened to turn the Delaware Senate red too. The state he was to lead had some peculiar problems in it and at the top of that list was the economy and education. Governor Jack treated the two as if they were symbiotic with each other and made some poor choices along the way. John knew if he was going to improve both he would have to find a way to draw everyone in. It was a difficult maze and John knew he wouldn’t please everyone. Governor Jack chose a particular route but John knew if he did the same it would not be good.
Santa knew John’s mind was heavy. As his sleigh crossed the border between Pennsylvania and Delaware, Santa could feel the weight on John’s shoulders. Leadership always carries a heavy burden. Santa knew that better than anyone. Santa knew John ever since he was a little boy. He always knew John would become a leader. John didn’t have the same political sharpness so many politicians had but this also made him more relatable to the people. He watched John’s humble beginnings in the town of Claymont. Carney was one of those tough kids who excelled in football which helped him out at St. Mark’s High School and then Dartmouth College. Santa remembers John’s awards. As John was teaching freshmen football at the University of Delaware, he was also studying public administration. From there, John began his political career working for the county he lived in and then for Governor Tom. From there, John’s political ladder kept getting bigger and bigger. He became the Lieutenant Governor for eight years and decided to run for Governor. But the future “education” Governor Jack beat him in a close race. Others told Jack to wait his turn, it was John’s turn, but Jack ignored them. A couple of years later, John ran for Congress and won. For six years, having to run every two years for a total of three Congressional terms, John worked in D.C. and learned how the game of politics really works. But he never gave up on getting back to Delaware to win as Governor. After Governor Jack was expected to end his tenure, many thought Vice-President Joe’s son Beau would run, but tragically Beau passed away after a long illness. It was then that John decided he would run but wished it had been under better circumstances.
John walked down the path. There was a crisp wind in the air but the moon was bright. He used to walk down this path many times. It hadn’t changed much over time and he remembered it like the back of his hand. John tripped on a branch and fell to the ground. As he looked up, he saw a bright light in the sky above him. A voice cried out “John, we need to talk.” John reached for his phone but he had left it in the car. He thought to himself, “This is it, all alone in the woods with no one to help.” He began to picture the headline in the News Journal the next day. “Who are you?” John asked. “Someone you haven’t thought about in a long time John.” Santa gracefully landed the sleigh on the path in front of John. His lights were still on so John couldn’t tell who it was. “I do have security watching me right now. They are watching you right now. So I wouldn’t try anything They will find you if anything happens to me.” “No they won’t,” Santa said. “Remember you let all of them have the night off and you so conveniently told each one there was coverage?” John wondered how this guy would know that. “It’s me, John. Santa.”
John couldn’t believe his eyes. As a child, he always believed. But as children grew older, that magic disappeared. John saw Santa everywhere this time of year. He began seeing him in stores as early as October. But it wasn’t the same as the man who just walked off a sleigh that came down in the middle of the woods. John took that early childhood magic for granted, as every adult does. John wondered what in the world Santa Claus wanted with him. Did he visit all the new leaders? “John,” Santa said, “We have to talk about the kids. Come with me.” John felt the world spin beneath him. Santa’s words captured him. They weren’t words demanding John obey him, but those of comfort and a calm John hadn’t felt for a long time. John looked at his watch. It was 6:30pm.
Santa and John got in the sleigh. The reindeer, who John hadn’t noticed before, began running down the path. John felt the sleigh lift up into the December night. “John, did you read my letter last year?” Santa asked. John read letters every day. There were some days he couldn’t remember what he had for breakfast he was so busy. John shook his head. “Did you send it to me?” John asked. He knew he probably had not seen it unless it was an issue of critical importance. He was sure if one of his staffers opened it and saw a letter from Santa Claus it would go in the circular bin next to their desk. “No, I let Exceptional Delaware put it up. I thought everyone in Delaware reads it.” That was a name John was familiar with the past six months. The blogger. “You mean the crazy education blogger from Dover? That guy wants to meet with me but I don’t know…” Santa abruptly interrupted John “Watch yourself,” Santa warned. “I have the utmost respect for the blogger. He helped me out last year and he knows what he is talking about.” John responded to Santa. “But he tends to tick off a lot of people. People I’m going to have to work with. I was warned to stay away from him.” Santa’s eyes widened. “Oh really? Would that have been Senator So-coal-A,” Santa carefully empathized. “And all those other adults who don’t have the first clue about what education really is? Let me tell you something John. You will be a leader of Delaware. Any state has a foundation from which it must build on. That foundation is the kids. Not the adults, and especially not the adults who try to make money and get power from kids. There are those out there who will pretend to speak the truth. You surround yourself with them. But there are those who speak uncomfortable truths that people don’t always want to hear. But they do so out of an innate need for change, in the hopes someone with the ability to hear will actually listen.”
John was familiar with what was going on in education. He was told of the long-range plans and how education would be reformed so all kids can succeed. The children would be trained to become the workforce of tomorrow. As he began his campaign, he knew many people in Delaware were hurting. When he ran for Governor the first time, the economy of the whole country was collapsing. Even though Delaware recovered from this, not all of the citizens did. Some never got the jobs back that made them more money. The cities were becoming too violent again. Drug use was up and children were getting shot in the street. But still, Delaware did the one thing it knows how to do best- spend money. John knew all that money wasn’t going to the right places. He also knew that when he became the leader he would have to fix a lot of these problems. Many of his advisors told him that education was going to fix all these problems. Not now, but down the road. But if he didn’t help follow the same paths Governor Jack made, nothing would ever get fixed. This was happening all over the country. There were critics, like the damn blogger, but they were just a whisper in the wind. They didn’t see the big picture and how this was for the good of the state and the country.
“Santa, where are we going?” John asked. “To see the children John.”
“Uhm, Santa. We are flying into downtown Wilmington. No offense sir, but I can’t be seen riding around in a sleigh with someone people don’t believe in along with eight reindeer.” Santa pulled out a pouch from his pocket. “Thanks for reminding me John, I almost forgot.” Santa took out a handful of dust and blew it all around him and John. “They won’t see us now.” Santa parked the sleigh on top of the Community Education Building. The duo went down through the building and to the streets below. They walked over to the playground next to the building.
In a dark corner, an African-American boy was reading with a flashlight. The boy was shivering as he turned a page. “Why is this boy out here Santa? Why doesn’t he go home?” Santa sighed. “This is his home John. He lives on the streets. During the really cold months he goes to a shelter with his aunt. She is at work right now.” John saw a grocery cart a few feet away from the boy. Covering it was a blue tarp. John could see some clothes in there and a few boxes. As John looked away for a moment in horror, he saw a hypodermic needle on the ground. The boy was reading a worn-out copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone with a flashlight between his yellow teeth. He saw the boy lift a crumpled up bag out of his coat pocket. The boy began eating the few crumbs left in the bag of potato chips. Santa told John about how his father went to prison a few years ago. He belonged to one of the gangs. During a shoot-out in front of their apartment building, a bullet missed hitting the boy but instead lodged itself in his mother’s brain. He told John this is the first thing the boy sees when he wakes up in the morning and the last thing he sees at night. “Come on John, we have more stops to make tonight.” John walked to the sleigh but kept looking back at the boy.
Santa and John flew once more into the night. It was very quiet between them. They landed in a very wealthy neighborhood with mansions all around them. John wasn’t sure if he had been on this street when he was campaigning. Many houses were decked out in Christmas lights and he even saw Santas made up in lights. “This is never what Christmas was supposed to be John,” as Santa looked down at his belly. They got out of the sleigh and went into one of the houses. A girl was on her computer playing the latest version of Minecraft. Her mom asked her if she finished her homework. “I sure did,” the girl said. “You can check it on Schoology.” “Did you finish all the stuff on iReady?” the mother asked. “Yes Mom,” as the girl rolled her eyes. She had just finished eating the steak and shrimp but she was still hungry. “Can you turn the heat down Mom?” she yelled. As her hand grabbed the ice cream bowl, Santa and John left. As Sarah pulled the spoon to her mouth, she wondered if she had to be at the school in her cheerleader’s outfit by 9am tomorrow or 9:15.
They flew down to Georgetown. John was last there on Return Day in November. All the candidates who run for office, whether they win or not, participate in this event to “bury the hatchet”. But they flew away from the town to a trailer park. Inside, a Hispanic girl was kicking a ball around with her little brother. A man came into the room. “Hicerion sus deberes?” the man asked. “No podríamos papá. No sabíamos lo que significaban las palabras,” the boy answered. The man watched as his children did what they do after school almost every day. Kicking around the same ball. “Sorry Santa, my Spanish is very rusty. What did they say?” John asked. “The father asked if his children did their homework. They couldn’t because they can’t read the words. They don’t know English very well. They know enough for very basic things, but not enough to learn what they need to know. Their mother is still at the chicken farm working her shift. One of them always has to be with the kids. They aren’t here legally. The father is afraid all the time that his kids will be taken from him and he and his wife will have to go back to their country. He doesn’t know English at all.”
John felt his mind stir as they flew north. He was very troubled by what he saw. When he was campaigning, he tended to see the best of Delaware. In the daylight or early evening when many of his “Meet and Chews” with people were attended by those who had the means and the desire to see him. When he went to schools, he could tell the kids were on their best behavior because “an important man” was coming to visit. He didn’t see people in their homes or on the streets the way he did tonight. He felt uncomfortable, like he was seeing a side of the world he heard about but didn’t see first-hand. “Santa, I should really be getting back. It’s getting late and my wife is probably worrying about me.” Santa laughed so hard the sleigh shook. “Look at your watch John. What time is it?” John looked at his watch in bewilderment. It was still 6:30pm. No time had passed since he first got in the sleigh with Santa back on the trail. “Let me guess, another bit of your magic?” Santa smiled at John as they flew into a middle-class neighborhood in Dover.
The odd couple went into the house. Inside, a boy was crying on the couch. His parents were arguing in the kitchen. “What do you mean he was suspended again?” the father asked. “I got a call from school. They said he was acting out in class again and when the teacher told him to stop he ran out of the room. When another teacher found him, he pushed her away. The Principal came down the hall and yelled at him to come with him. David yelled back at him and Dr. Smith called two teachers to help bring him to the office,” the mother explained. “I didn’t get the call until two hours later. By the time I got there he was so upset.” “Did they give him any work to do when he was in there for two hours?” the boy’s father asked. “I don’t know. But this is not what his IEP says. They aren’t supposed to drag him down the hall and yell at him. He isn’t learning anything there. He’s depressed all the time. He can’t learn in a class with thirty kids.” John knelt down in front of the boy. He saw such pain and sadness in the boy’s eyes. “This boy has no friends John. The things you had growing up, kids to play with and throw a football around, running around in the woods, even going to the amusement park, David can’t do those things.” Santa explained how David was labeled as high-functioning Autism. He could do the work, but only under certain conditions. If there was a lot of activity in the classroom, people talking, moving around, David couldn’t handle that. His brain couldn’t filter out all the stimuli. Some days it worked, but for David, it was an endless litany of suspensions and leaving school early. “Special education John. If you don’t know what is going on with a child, and everyone is different, how can we put all kids in the same box?” Santa asked him.
John could see what Santa was doing. He understood that not every kid is the same. But if they didn’t try to help all the kids nothing would change. The two flew to the building where John was destined to spend many of his days in the next four years. Legislative Hall. Where all the laws in Delaware happened. John didn’t think there would be any kids there at 6:30pm, and he was right. Inside, a meeting was taking place. John knew about half the people at the large table in the House Majority Caucus room. There were some from the Department of Education, a couple from the Rodel Foundation of Delaware, the usual Delaware State Education Association contingent, some Superintendents, a few teachers, Delaware PTA, some of the disability advocates, the lady from the Delaware Charter Schools Network, four legislators, and a couple of State Board members. He knew them. A few people sat in the chairs outside of the table. A woman from the Delaware DOE was giving a presentation on the Every Student Succeeds Act. Delaware had to come up with a state plan so all students can succeed. She was talking about the Delaware School Success Framework and the measurements they wanted included in their state accountability system. It was all about proficiency and growth. Which John knew was based on the Smarter Balanced Assessment. All these adults, sitting there talking about kids and how they can make education better. John knew a few of the people there had the best of intentions but this was what they do in Delaware. They sit around a table and talk. This was how things got done. They even had a name for it, The Delaware Way.
“You don’t get it!” John cried out. “We can’t keep testing these kids. They aren’t the same. We can’t keep doing this. Their lives mean so much more than these tests.” Santa looked at John. “They can’t hear you. Even if they could, too many of them wouldn’t listen. They think they know what is best. They forget what it was like when they were kids. Even that man over there.” Santa pointed to a man from Wilmington. “He kept fighting for the kids in Wilmington and how the teachers need to be better,” Santa explained. “The man believed what he said but he didn’t realize how much these children don’t have outside of school. The man didn’t understand that you can’t just wave a magic wand and make teachers better. And the best teachers, they were the ones already in those classrooms in Wilmington. They were the ones who came to school every day, knowing the problems these kids brought to the classroom. The look of hunger in their eyes as they wore the same clothes for the third day in a row. They dedicated their lives to helping these kids in the hardest classrooms in the state. In return, they were shamed by many of the people in this room. The little boy we saw on the playground tonight? He goes to the poorest school in the state. Most of the people in this room have never walked into his school. They don’t understand what he needs. That legislator over there? She sponsored a bill so special education would get better in the state. In their eyes, it did. Students went from 21% proficiency on the ELA part of Smarter Balanced to 23%. To them, that is growth. The Superintendent over there? She runs the district where the two kids from Georgetown go to school. She has a lot of students who can’t speak or read English. She hasn’t said one word tonight about how to help them. See the man over there? He runs a charter school in Newark. They just settled on a lawsuit against the Christina School District. In return they will get more money in the future. Remember the girl in the mansion? She goes to that charter school. That money will be taken from the homeless boy’s school. He will get less than he has today at school. The man over there? He sits on the board at the Rodel Foundation. He sees opportunity. He sees how the business leaders in the state can profit from all this. He is hoping they will start talking about more career pathway programs in our high schools. He knows that some will go to the coding school he sits on the board of. He talks with other business leaders and the graduates of that program do internships at their companies. Sometimes they get jobs. While they are learning, these coding students are building the network of tomorrow. They develop algorithms that will go into the education technology in all the schools. All that data, all that blessed data. They store it all. They keep everything, these futurists and visionaries. They have the money and influence to make sure what they want becomes policy and law. It is the way the modern world works John. Perhaps they know, and don’t care, that what they are setting up now will only make those children who struggle the most even further apart from any true opportunity to succeed. And them, over there, they work for the Department of Education. They are the middlemen between the schools and the business community. They make sure the business community gets what they want in the schools. They do this through regulations and conversations you will never hear about. That woman there, she runs the accountability section of the Department. Her job is to make sure all children in certain grades take the Smarter Balanced Assessment. When she sees the results come in, she doesn’t see the faces of the children who took the test. She sees numbers. Results. Scores. Her job is to understand why all the children we saw tonight got a 1 on the test last Spring except for the girl in the mansion who got a 4. She doesn’t see David’s disability. Or the two siblings who can’t read the instructions for the test in English much less understand the context of a passage in Spanish about the stock market. She doesn’t know that the African-American boy in Wilmington has slept in 124 different beds in the past year alone and the other 241 nights were outside with blankets. But she actually thinks they can close the achievement gaps and these children will grow into prosperity. How does she know this? It’s what her bosses tell her every single day. She hears the lie so much she believes it.”
John and Santa left the building. As the two flew north, they talked about what John had to do. What he needed to change. They talked about the blogger and the parents, teachers, legislators, advocates, and citizens who thought like Santa did. “Those are the ones you really need to talk to John. I’m sure you have heard from many of the people who were in that meeting tonight. If you haven’t, I have no doubt your advisors have.” John knew this to be true. “You need to understand the other side of the coin John, where the real world lives. These aren’t pleasant realities you saw tonight. For those fighting for the kids, even opting out of the test isn’t as easy as it once was. They are fighting for these kids, their kids. And their grandchildren. They are fighting for their jobs. They see beyond the results and the growth. They see what needs to change but no one listens. No one who can really make a difference. Some do, but not enough to make the changes. When they do speak, they are shunned by their peers. Given less importance. It isn’t right John. What the people in that room wanted, it won’t change anything. It will only cause more damage. You can’t incorporate education. These are children. You need to change all this.”
John walked out of the sleigh. He thanked Santa for showing him so much of the Delaware he didn’t see before. The two shook hands. “Santa, I don’t know if I can change all of this by myself. You know if I try I will make enemies. Those enemies won’t make my job any easier.” Santa put his hand on John’s shoulder. “That is what all leaders who understand what is right and just have to face. Some succeed and some fail. Some do it alone and some have support. All I can say is this John- remember what you saw tonight. Every single time you make a decision. Remember the children’s faces before you see the adults. You know in your heart who is really in this for the kids and who isn’t. When you hear that voice in your head, questioning what the true motives are, listen to that. Let that be your shield against your enemies John.” John hugged Santa. “Merry Christmas Santa.” “And to you as well Governor Carney.” Santa walked toward his sleigh and turned around. “John, find those who speak the uncomfortable truths.”
John looked down at his watch. It was 6:31pm. Santa was gone.
A month ago, I participated in a forum on Delaware education funding at the monthly Progressive Democrats for Delaware meeting. State Representative Paul Baumbach from the 23rd Rep District also discussed the issue. Baumbach is very supportive of implementing a weighted education funding formula in Delaware. Last Winter, Baumbach and then Deputy Secretary of Education David Blowman presented a report on a weighted funding system to the Education Funding Improvement Commission. That commission was unable to get a consensus on any particular funding apparatus and ended the 148th General Assembly with no final report. The WEIC redistricting plan also called for implementation of a weighted funding system.
Education funding, with implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act, will take center stage in 2017. As more and more citizens realize the system we have now is not working for all students, attempts at fixing the problems will appear. The Wilmington Education Improvement Commission and their redistricting plan for Wilmington Christina School District students is still bubbling under the surface. Last night, Christina’s board voted 4-3 to settle on a lawsuit filed against them and the Delaware Dept. of Education by 15 charter schools that receive students from Christina. The charters claim Christina was filing exclusions that were “improper” to the Delaware DOE and the DOE signed off on them. While the settlement has not been made public, it will assuredly have an impact on local funding formulas going forward.
Baumbach’s plan is to have more money go to students with higher needs, such as low-income or poverty, English Language Learners, and students with disabilities. Currently, students with disabilities do receive additional funding based on a unit-count system (with the exception of basic special education for students in Kindergarten to 3rd grade). This system determines how much staff each district or charter school receive based on their September 30th count of students. With the funding system Baumbach is pushing for, the money would follow the student based on their needs. Another question involving this funding system is if Talented and Gifted students would be considered high need as well.
This is not equality funding but equity funding. Schools who have less sub-groups of students with higher needs would receive less money. Final accountability regulations for ESSA will require each public school in America to show the amount of funding per student based on local, state, and federal funding. The biggest problem with education funding in Delaware is property assessments. No county in Delaware has increased their property assessments in decades resulting in severe imbalances to what the current assessed values would be. As well, referenda held by school districts have had mixed results. Adding to this mix is the potential of school vouchers coming to Delaware if President Donald Trump and his pick for U.S. Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, get their way. Baumbach argued against a bill that would allow vouchers for special education students last Spring and stated it would be a violation of Delaware’s Constitution to send state funds to a religious private school. Trump also announced he wants to incentivize new charter schools across America. Capital costs for school buildings is also a major issue. Delaware has many outdated schools that have serious structural issues with the recent Christina mold problem as a glaring example.
Baumbach will most likely bring forth legislation in 2017 to change how we fund our schools. As well, there is increasing talk in Delaware about re-examining property assessments. Some state officials have even suggested consolidating school districts to save money, possibly to a county school district system with New Castle County having two districts based on the population.
For my part, I can’t support ANY changes to our education funding system until we can get more assurances the money we are already spending is used with fidelity and honesty. The recent audit investigation into Indian River showed very clearly that this district was not being honest. We’ve had far too many Delaware charter school leaders and employees committing major fraud with funds that are not getting to students. Our state auditor is supposed to audit each school district every year and publish the results. This is not happening. Charter school annual audits, usually, do not have the ability to catch financial fraud. The State Auditor of Accounts Office, run by Tom Wagner, is massively understaffed. Why in the world would we dump more money into education when we can’t accurately keep track of the money already there? This is the viewpoint of many conservatives in Delaware, but more on the left are also waking up to a reality that can no longer be ignored.
As the chief legislative advocate for a weighted funding system, Baumbach will have his hands full in the first six months of 2017. If the Republicans manage to take control of the Delaware Senate after the special election for Bethany Hall-Long’s Senate seat, the voucher conversation will become very loud at Legislative Hall. Tony Allen also warned that time is running out to fix education for Wilmington students and advocates may file a federal lawsuit against Delaware which could leave education funding and districting in the hands of a federal judge. The icing on this education funding cake is the very flawed measurement of success for Delaware schools- the standardized test. If we use them as a barometer of success or need, the system will continue to be a confusing mess with no end in sight.
No matter how you slice and dice money for education, no system will please everyone. This has become painfully obvious. We need to look at what is best for Delaware students and not those of corporations who seek to profit from education. As corporate education reform is more embedded in our schools, more administrators are implementing the very bad policies from those reformers thus turning them into profiteers of education. Yeah, Baumbach is going to have a big fight on his hands with any legislation involving this system!
To read the final report conducted by Hanover Research for the Delaware DOE on a weighted funding system, please read below:
The best way to get something embedded into the American society? The power of distraction. Once again, while all eyes are on Donald Trump, Congress is acting in the dawn of Winter to pass a bill that will affect the children of America. This time, it involves social impact bonds.
This action is only part of a larger bill, known as the 21st Century Cares Act. Spearheaded by Vice-President Joe Biden after the death of his son, Beau Biden, the bill has become so much more than finding a cure for cancer. Special interest groups and lobbyists infiltrated the $6.3 billion bill to include things they want. The bill is expected to pass the U.S. House next week and the U.S. Senate the week after.
The $100 million dedicated to “pay for success”, also known as “social impact partnerships”, will be up to the states to submit grant applications. The states will work with “nonprofit social service providers, intermediaries, evaluators, and philanthropic organizations,” according to an article from the Social Innovation Research Center. I’ve written about social impact bonds a bit since I first came across them over a year ago. These are nothing more than corporations, non-profits, and banks hedging bets on certain outcomes. And reaping the profits if they succeed. For some areas of society, this is not necessarily a bad thing, such as medicine. But when it branches into education, I am very concerned. The timing of this bill coinciding with full implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act is not a mere coincidence.
The U.S. Dept. of Education will assuredly dip into this vast pool of money. The Social Innovation Research Center all but guarantees this:
The legislation tasks the Treasury Department with overseeing the Social Impact Partnership program, although the department may delegate oversight authority for individual projects to other federal agencies.
ESSA calls for greater intervention in American public schools- more counselors, more community-based organizations, etc. The full invasion of American education by corporations will be like nothing seen before once ESSA is firmly entrenched in every single state. This will, of course, lead to the reinvention of American education into less of a brick-and-mortar system and more of a personalized learning and competency-based system with outside non-profits and corporations calling the shots. Teachers will become glorified moderators to the education technology invading our schools. But with the passage of the 21st Century Cares Act, children will become fodder for nothing more than a gambler in Vegas trying to win big.
Because this legislation is wrapped into such a noble cause, that of curing cancer, it is the perfect vessel for the corporate pigs to come home and feast on the trough. Congress will pass this, regardless of the pork included in it, because “it is the right thing to do”. And once again, children will pay the price.
To see the full bill, and how education will come into play, please go here. Of particular note are pages 946-949. By giving the very vague “improving rates of high school graduation“, that one line is the entrance into education. One of the first forays into public education with Social Impact Bonds by a major U.S. Bank, Goldman Sachs, resulted in a ton of controversy. The bank tried to bet on pre-schoolers in Utah. The “outcome” they wanted was less children getting special education services. But failing to understand why students even need special education in most cases, because of neurological disabilities, shows corporate America doesn’t believe in reasons, just profit.
Belief is a funny thing. Some people need to see something splattered all over newspapers and major news outlets to believe something is real. Others just need to hear one thing to think something is true. When it comes to education, what do you believe?
I recently had a conversation with someone who told me I was a conspiracy theorist. That what I am saying about the vast plans that have been going on with education and what is to come is nothing more than that. That I have no basis to prove my theories whatsoever. This person also informed me they don’t care about my theories and they have more important things to do with their life. I encouraged this person to do some research on their own and to come up with their own conclusions. When you talk about the agendas for public education to someone who is not deeply engrossed in the minutiae of what has been going on, it is very easy to sound like a crackpot. It won’t be the first time someone has expressed that I am crazy or wearing a tin hat. I’m sure it won’t be the last. But as I left that person, they were on Google looking up “Common Core conspiracy theories”.
To an outside observer, many of us who do the research with corporate education reform do sound crazy. But they haven’t poured through contracts and websites, or followed the money to see where billions of dollars are going. They haven’t read everything we have. They can’t accept how deep the tentacles reach. That this involves much more than education and has ties with the U.S. Departments of Defense, Health and Human Services, and Labor. That what is going on in public education will redefine society as we know it and strip away substantial rights of citizens in the future. It sounds so crazy it would have to be a conspiracy theory, right? And that is exactly what they are counting on, these masters of wealth and foundations, these billionaires who throw money around like it was nothing. “But these foundations do good things,” I’ve heard. Of course they do. They help people around the globe. If all they did was fund Common Core and personalized learning and education technology, it would be MUCH easier for people to follow the trail.
Our country is run by corporations. I can’t make people see this. I can’t make them understand that politicians are bought and sold like discounted goods on Black Friday. I can’t make them see the major media blackout on so much that is really going on. I hear so many people say “You can’t believe what you read on the Internet or on blogs.” I’ve seen it myself. There is a ton of bad information out there. I’ve published bad information before based on bad information or a misunderstanding. It happens. But when all the same trails lead to the same conclusions repeatedly, after a while the truth sinks in. It’s not like a lot of these companies are hiding what they want to do with data. They are announcing it on their websites or pushing it with policy briefs for the Every Student Succeeds Act. But who has the time to look at all that? If I weren’t hip to a lot of this stuff, I wouldn’t give any of it the time of day.
It is no longer theory when something has been proven. It is fact. And it is a fact that there are corporations and foundations, run by some of the richest people in the world, that want today’s youth and future generations to become servants to their masters. They will accomplish this through education by turning it into a data tracking system that will affect every facet of their lives: health, careers, outside interests, media, technology, and higher education. Everyone will be plugged in and led to believe what their lives should be. The data will tell them so. Meanwhile, those who aren’t plugged into the Blockchain technology coming our way, the masters, they will happily reap the profits of those who don’t want to believe.
As those who want to save our children from this future, how do we reach those who don’t want to believe? Who honestly don’t have the time or an inkling of how grand this scheme is? That it doesn’t matter who is President or this Secretary, they are just following the script written decades ago?
In 2011, the Obama Administration changed the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act so third parties would have access to personal student data. This has been a major point of contention on this blog for over a year now. Our children are guinea pigs for state departments of education, the feds, and more corporate education reform companies than you can shake a leg at. But we could have some relief if Bill Evers is selected as the United States Secretary of Education under President Donald Trump.
While I don’t like some of Evers’ thoughts on charter schools and school vouchers, I do immensely enjoy what he said in a hearing on Common Core in Ohio. This is what he said about student data privacy and the changes to FERPA in 2011. Thanks to Education Next for reporting this back in 2013!
Data about Ohio students will flow to the U.S. Department of Education through PARCC, the national test consortium to which Ohio belongs. In return for the money it received from the federal government, PARCC has to provide the U.S, Department of education with its student-level data. Ohio can do nothing about this as long as it is in a federally-funded national test consortium. It would have to leave PARCC to block this process of data transfer.
This issue is of personal concern to me. When I was U.S. Assistant Secretary of Education, the student privacy office was part of my portfolio. Until December 2011, the U.S. Department of Education interpreted the student privacy protections in the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) strictly, but reasonably.
But in 2011, the Obama administration turned those protections upside down. The Obama administration reinterpreted technical terms and provisions of the law to allow access to student personal data to non-education government agencies and to private vendors and contractors. It removed requirements that parents had to give consent if third-parties were given access to student personal data. The Obama administration made this change, in large measure, to facilitating workforce planning by government agencies.
We live in a time of concern about abuse of data collection and data management — by the NSA, the IRS, and other agencies. Ohio policymakers should be concerned about the privacy of student personal data and its possible misuse.
To facilitate workforce planning by government agencies… there we have it! And we thought Hillary Clinton would stop that? Hell no! Is Trump involved in this “workforce planning”? That is the whole point of all that we are seeing in education: Common Core, high-stakes standardized tests, Pathways to Prosperity, all the education technology, the very bad accountability standards, the smoke and mirrors with teachers which are causing more teachers to leave the profession, the educator quick prep programs like Teach For America and Relay Graduate School, personalized learning, competency-based education, and the plethora of companies that are profiting immensely while students do without. All of these were and are designed to create this workforce of tomorrow. A plan geared towards tracking and pushing students into certain career paths. They love to say it is for the greater good, but don’t be fooled! It is control, pure and simple. I don’t trust anything going on at the state or federal level. But I do know a lot of it hinges on the data. And if these companies are robbed of the opportunity to get private information about students, that is a major monkey wrench in their plans.
In 2015, former Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy was fighting an opt out bill in the First State. He told the press something to the effect of “It’s the data. The data is important to us.” Don’t quote me on that, but it was all about the data. It was probably the truest thing the guy ever said. When will we reach the point when we can firmly put this corporate education reform era to bed? When can educators get the respect they need and our students can learn without being subjected to being nothing more than lab rats for government and corporate agendas? There is no better time like the present!
There is a petition already out on Change.org to send to President Trump to have Evers appointed as the next United States Secretary of Education. Please sign the petition NOW!
One of the key Rodel Foundation of Delaware board members wrote a letter to the Editor in the News Journal last weekend. As usual, we see these letters in the News Journal right before some big Vision Coalition Hocus-Pocus. Of course, this letter appeared two days before the annual Vision Coalition conference.
Rodman Ward III urged newly-elected Governor John Carney to put forth the Vision Coalition’s Student Success 2025 plans in his education policy. And to pick a Secretary of Education that will incorporate that vision. Governor Markell has followed the Rodel script for the past eight years. The only vision provided by this outfit is one that is in desperate need of glasses. It is corporate education reform at its worst. Designed to produce magic but we have yet to see the rabbit come out of the hat. Carney needs to listen to the rest of Delaware. Rodel didn’t get him elected, the people did. Rodel isn’t the master of education in Delaware. They are pretenders, along with the rest of the cash in the trash companies that want to fix education by continually breaking it so they can make more money. Snake-oil salesmen from the days of old but with a nicer suit and tie.
Dr. Paul Herdman, the CEO of Rodel, makes $350,000.00. That’s more than anyone in Delaware public education makes. More than Carney, more than Godowsky, even more than the highest-paid figure: Brandywine Superintendent Dr. Mark Holodick. Why are we fattening the coffers of the likes of Rodel and their Bill Gates funded buddies across the country? Isn’t it time to finally put this absolute bullshit to bed once and for all? Governor Carney: Are you a Rodel Man or a Delaware Man? You can’t be both. You need to decide. The future of Delaware students as well as the future direction of this blog will be determined by your decision. I have a vision for education: stop having corporations profit off bad education policy that they initiate.
WestEd, a San Francisco based company, was selected as the vendor for the future Next Generation Science Standards state assessment. The contract runs through December 31st, 2017 but it will assuredly get an extension based on the scope of work involved and the timetable for the full release of the new Science state assessment. The amount awarded for the contract is $673,658. Only two bidders sent proposals to the Delaware Department of Education, WestEd and American Institutes for Research (AIR). AIR is the current vendor for the Smarter Balanced Assessment in Delaware.
The plan is to have the field tests for this assessment in the 2017-2018 school year and then all public school students in 3rd, 5th, and 8th grade get to take it in the 2018-2019 school year. All states are required to administer Science state assessments to students in these grades and it will be the same for the Every Student Succeeds Act. Currently, Delaware students take the Science DCAS Assessment.
The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) were created by Achieve Inc. and 26 states. It rolled out in 2013 but only five states signed up to implement them. As of today, there are only 18 states that have adopted the sometimes controversial science standards. NGSS is very big on terminology surrounding three dimensions: science & engineering, disciplinary core ideas, and cross-cutting concepts. Okay. How do you accurately explain that? I have an idea! They should use rope to do it! Oh wait, someone beat me to it…
I wrote about WestEd a month and a half ago when I saw they were one of the bidders for this contract:
WestEd, though, is no stranger to Delaware. This is a company that thinks online digital learning games with Curious George are just great for preschool. They also have an extensive list of clients with some very familiar names. Ironically, the Delaware DOE hired facilitators from WestEd for their Every Student Succeeds Act Community Conversations, along with Research In Action. They even went into a partnership recently with NewSchools Venture Fund to expand small business data technology companies in K-12 classrooms.
Lately, whenever I see a corporate education reform company, I check out how much money they have received from the Gates Foundation. WestEd has received $24,164,909 over the past ten plus years. That is no small chunk of change! You can read the full contract below:
Who is the benefactor to the 15 charter schools suing the Christina School District and the Delaware Department of Education? You know, the one where the almighty (or are they?) charter schools want more money? Led and initiated by Newark Charter School who got fourteen other charters to follow suit. Literally. As in a lawsuit. But they had a little problem they had to take care of first. The damn attorney fees.
I imagine taking a case like this would involve a lot of prep work and discovery. Saul Ewing, LLP is the law firm representing the fifteen charter schools in their lawsuit against the Christina School District and the Delaware Department of Education. As the named parties are represented by their own counsel, the charters would have to be able to definitively prove their case. Or at least a perception of their case. That’s what attorneys do. Make a jury or judge believe their side of the story, whether it is right or wrong. It is always about the belief. But who is paying Saul Ewing for this lawsuit? Continue reading “So, About Those Attorney Fees For The Charter Lawsuit…”
I truly thought Hillary Clinton was going to win yesterday. The thought of either of them winning didn’t sit well with me. But there is one key factor in this election that no one is talking about. Common Core. Those two toxic words that most states in this country wish they never adopted. In my state of Delaware, we are one of the many “blue” states that voted Clinton in. In looking at the maps, many of the states that have the Smarter Balanced Assessment and are considered to be big corporate education reform states voted for Hillary tonight.
Look at the states Hillary won that belong to the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, New Hampshire, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington. She lost other SBAC states like Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and West Virginia. I wouldn’t count those Hillary losses as “power players” in the corporate education reform movement. But many of the states she won are smack dab in the middle of it. Other states she won include other big “power players” such as Colorado, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, and New York. She lost Florida but that is Jeb Bush corporate education reform territory. Trump also won Tennessee but I attribute that victory more to this being a southern state. As of this writing, Michigan is still too close to call. While I have always seen corporate education reform as bi-partisan, many of the states that have been most affected by Common Core in the form of huge accountability stakes for standardized tests and horrible teacher evaluation systems based on those tests voted for the very same woman who didn’t say the words Common Core during her campaign.
Donald made it one of his campaign platforms that he would dump Common Core. Which would, by default, drastically change the very nature of state assessments but also the SAT which was revamped to the standards. While Hillary has gone on record stating that Common Core was poorly implemented, she never made it a part of her campaign. In fact, she didn’t make education a major part of her campaign at all. Which is ironic given how much of the corporate education reform movement she has been connected with. Especially through the Clinton Foundation. One of her first objectives once Bill Clinton became the Governor of Arkansas was to hold schools more “accountable” back in the 1980s. An accounting of this attempt at education reform in Arkansas was detailed in an article in Politico in April 2015.
But an article in The Weekly Standard showed me how very similar Hillary Clinton and Delaware Governor Jack Markell really are:
It’s clear from their statements at the time that the Clintons understood the importance of improving Arkansas schools. Bill Clinton argued that with factory jobs going overseas, the state could no longer rely on manufacturing and needed a more skilled workforce. But Arkansas students were scoring poorly on national exams.
That sounds almost exactly like the propaganda Delawareans have been subjected to by Markell. But Hillary Clinton’s education initiative began in 1983. Funny how the arguments for those who want greater accountability tend to blame it on low test scores and a need for a “skilled workforce”. Like many states since, Arkansas went through new tests over the years back then and the results were abysmal for students. As well, the Clintons wanted teachers to take skills tests to weed out the bad teachers. They never went ahead with this after the National Education Association refused to endorse Bill Clinton for Governor twice in the 1980s. Hillary made amends with the NEA when Bill ran for President in 1992 and they have fervently endorsed her ever since, much to the chagrin of their union members across the country.
The impossible happened tonight. The popular vote was tight, but the electoral map told a different tale. This is a new reality we will face in the next four years. It is what it is. On the plus side, I think we can safely rule out Jack Markell as the next United States Secretary of Education which was one of my greatest fears with Hillary winning. I imagine many Americans are freaking out right now. Trump is going to have to emerge from his past and transform himself if he ever wants any sense of credibility. His victory speech was very humble and he hit a lot of the right notes. I am still in complete and utter shock that I am writing the words President Trump.
At the end of a very long day stretching into the wee hours of a new day, part of me would like to think Trump’s promise of dumping Common Core resonated with many voters. But at the end of the day, Americans wanted change. At least over half of them did. The conversations Americans thought they would have today are vastly different.
Will a Trump presidency be able to put a halt to very destructive education policy that began in Arkansas during that very hot summer of 1983? When the parents of today’s students were still in school? Before some of them were even born? Will it end the long saga that kicked into high gear with the 1992 “Dear Hillary” letter from Marc Tucker? This is something I would very much like to talk to Donald Trump about. And you better believe every single state Department of Education is going to be scrambling on their Every Student Succeeds Act drafts tomorrow. Sometimes you just have to find the silver lining in things.
At some point later this evening, Delaware will have a newly elected Governor. No matter who it is, they can’t be worse than Governor Jack Markell. I truly hope I don’t eat those words, but I can’t think of any Delaware politician who has sold out Delaware children to corporations more than Jack. Well, there is one, but I’m really hoping he gets ousted in the 8th Senate District today. If not, I expect some very frosty stares between the two of us come 2017. But it is also my fervent hope that this particular Senator, no matter what the outcome is today, begins to see deep inside his soul what certain viewpoints on education can have on the state as a whole. But Jack Markell…
I never gave Delaware politics much thought before 2013. I was just one of those guys who stayed in his own neighborhood and didn’t truly care about the state politics. I couldn’t even tell you who my State Rep was before that year. Or my State Senator. But then things changed in my life and I reached a point where I couldn’t live in my insular little bubble anymore. Circumstances demanded I get involved. When things happen to your child, beyond the point of a parent to control it, something happens. A shifting of thoughts begins and a need for understanding takes over. I may have gone way past the point of sanity most parents do when faced with this reality, but I felt it was my obligation to do all this. I have regrets, but I also know everyone makes mistakes. But no one, not even Senator Sokola or Mark Murphy, has ticked me off over education more than Jack Markell.
I quickly learned Jack cares more about corporations and their profits than Delaware students. Sadly, he found a way to combine the two and turned Delaware schools into profit centers for companies that could give two craps about student outcomes. Jack knows this. He knows the only way those companies will continue to flourish is with a steady stream of data and fix-it schemes. I suppose most states have a Jack Markell. How else can we explain the onslaught of Common Core and crappy tests like Smarter Balanced? I also learned Markell and Rodel are two sides of the same coin. They feed off each other, like twin parasites infecting their host.
My worst fear is having to continue beating up on Jack Markell. That would only happen if he were put in a more dangerous position than he is now. I see two potential Cabinet positions he could be placed in if the “nasty woman” wins. I’m hoping a rumor I heard long ago about him taking a Cyber Security position in Israel comes true. I would have loved to sit in a debate with him for a few hours and blown apart his theories and thoughts on education.
The most dangerous thing Jack Markell did with education in Delaware happened before he even became Governor. He did the interview for a man from the Massachusetts Department of Education, in their charter school office. A guy named Dr. Paul Herdman. This set up 12 years of education policy in this state that very closely aligned with what was going on across the country. And those plans aren’t done yet. Both of these men are actually very brilliant. They are strategists of the highest measure. They are futurists who plant seeds that bloom years in the future. I actually find them to be very worthy opponents in that respect. But one half of that equation is coming to an end in this state. And hopefully his replacement will be able to sever that cord.
It will be up to our next Governor to see through all the smoke and mirrors involved with the Every Student Succeeds Act. Whoever our new Governor is, I will attempt to meet with him. I intend to have a very long conversation with him, if he will let me, and let him know what I know. Maybe he already knows it already. Maybe he doesn’t. But I truly don’t want to fight him. I will give him a fresh and clean slate from day one, regardless of whatever policies he may have come out with during his campaign. I will also give every single member of the General Assembly that same respect, regardless of what may have happened pre-January 2017. They can choose to hang on to the past and hold a grudge against me. I haven’t been easy on many. But whether they are new or old, it is a new day. This also goes for the Department of Education and the State Board of Education. That doesn’t mean I won’t continue to expose what I find out, or file FOIA requests or complaints if something happens. Everything I have fought for will continue. But I won’t do it alone.
There are many who are on my side of things on many issues. There are some who are just now beginning to see the big picture. There are those who can’t see the forest through the trees. There are so many moving parts to education and understanding the full scope of it all takes time and patience. But I refuse to allow any child to be a guinea pig or a pawn for profit. I refuse to let their personal data go out to anyone who makes one penny off it. I refuse to let our Department of Education get away with what they have been doing.
January won’t just see new leaders in politics. We will also have new leadership in the Delaware State Education Association. Knowing what little I know about potential leaders and conversation that has taken place in the last week based on a few of my posts, I firmly believe that change in leadership can’t come quick enough. But we also need changes in the charter school landscape. For far too long, advocates for charters have ignored the elephant in the room. I am not saying it is all of them, but those with the loudest voices tend to get what they want. The funding and equity issues involved are killing us as a state. I personally believe there is enough funding in our state budget as it currently stands to have every child get the resources they need. There is a ton of wasted money being spent. We just have to convince the 149th Delaware General Assembly of this fact despite what will be a tsunami of opposition from districts and charter schools alike. I am leaning towards a weighted funding system more and more but not before we make sure every single district and charter schools is held fully accountable for the funds they already have.
The next six months are going to be very slippery in Delaware. One wrong move could send Delaware education sliding off the cliff. Now will be the time for voices like never before. Opt out was a drop in the bucket. But I don’t see those voices. Not front and center. Parents need to speak up like they never have before. They need to be louder than the state, louder than the administrators, and louder than our legislators. We need to become a force to be reckoned with. We need to organize and band together. We won’t agree on everything, but I think the majority of parents in this state can agree that what we have now is not working. We need to make sure Rodel is reduced to a low decibel noise that doesn’t hold the weight it used to. We need to make sure Delaware education is what we want, not what corporations want. This does not mean increased membership in the Delaware PTA either, but they will play a role. You will be hearing from me on this more in the next few weeks. Eyes will open to things that have happened right underneath all our noses with no one the wiser.
I need you. Our children need you. We are Delaware, not them. We need to finally make sure that is understood. We need to end the discrimination and segregation in this state. We need to end the racism that is underneath it all. We need to end the hate and make peace with the past. It is the only way we can truly move forward. I won’t have all the answers. You won’t. But maybe together, we can figure it out.
At a League of Women Voter’s candidate forum tonight at Delaware State University, Delaware candidates for Congress and Insurance Commissioner debated about many topics. Delaware State Senator Colin Bonini was unable to make it, so John Carney didn’t come, even though the Green candidate for Governor showed up. La Mar Gunn wasn’t able to make it, to Bethany Hall-Long left shortly after the debate began.
But Lisa Blunt Rochester… she still can’t say the words: “I support a parent’s right to opt out.” A question came up about abolishing Common Core and the Smarter Balanced Assessment (and it, surprisingly, didn’t come from me). I will be (no pun intended) blunt and admit my question was “Yes or No, do you support a parent’s right to opt out of standardized testing.” But the Common Core/SBAC one had Republican candidate Hans Reigle and Libertarian candidate Scott Gesty both openly admit their loathing of Common Core and Smarter Balanced and that they support a parent’s right to opt out. She snuck in towards the end that she supports parental rights, but it’s not the same thing and she knows it.
I have no doubt the Insurance Commissioner candidates, Republican Jeff Cragg and Democrat Trinidad Navarro thought to themselves, “I’m an insurance guy, I’m not answering that political hot potato.” Can’t say I blame them, but Blunt-Rochester knows it is a big topic in Delaware. And she either insults parents who do opt their kids out or just ignores it. But I don’t think she understands what Markell and the Delaware DOE have done to students in this state.
“For me, as I look at the whole issue of testing, I don’t think we should be teaching to a test. We should be looking at measuring growth for that additional child so that teachers are empowered to really help that child…one of the issues in terms of tests and opting out is the fact that what we would hope is our education system would be equal and equitable and high quality so that no one would want to opt out.”
So in the meantime, we keep the crappy test that will lead to stealth tests in a personalized learning/competency-based education arena. And this growth she wants us to measure? What does she think the feds and the Delaware DOE measure that growth by? The standardized test. Hello! And equal and equitable aren’t the same thing. High quality based on what? Common Core and SBAC? Or do you have a better idea that we haven’t heard. The other candidates recommended bringing this back to the local level. I didn’t hear that from you tonight.
They did ask one of my questions about restoring FERPA to pre-2008 levels. In 2008 and 2011, the US DOE had FERPA changed which allowed student data to go out to third-party companies, sometimes without any parental consent for the data collecting procedures to begin with. Once again, Gesty and Reigle nailed it and said they would support those changes. Blunt-Rochester (if she even knows what FERPA is), talked about HIPAA and cell phone tracking apps. Her response to changing FERPA?
“I would want to know more about why that exchange happens.”
Uhm, it happens so private student information can go out to companies and massive troves of data are collected on our kids. That was the whole point of the question. Gesty and Reigle got it. Not sure why you can’t. Blunt-Rochester talked about her time as the Delaware Secretary of Labor and constituents complained about filling out multiple forms to different state agencies. She did say privacy is a concern, but she missed the point of the question. There is a BIG difference.
She is well aware I blasted her in August for calling opt out a “leisure for some parents” at a Congressional debate in Wilmington. Afterwards, I asked her point blank on her Facebook page if she supports a parent’s right to opt their child out of the state assessment. She said nothing. Didn’t respond. And I’ve seen her a few times since (along with John Carney), and they treat me as if I were a ghost. You can think it is okay to be completely rude and not respond if I smile at you or say hi, but don’t think for one minute that I’m not hip to the Rodel influence on both of you. I have no doubt I will be writing more about both of them the next four years, and it won’t be pleasant at this rate. My take when this happens: you are drinking someone else’s Kool-Aid and really don’t know enough about the issue. You are told what to say and what not to say. And I’m sure one of the cardinal rules is don’t engage with the blogger. Which just makes me jump all over you. Funny how that works out. Some may say I attack first and ask questions later. I will own that. But as most who bother to take the time to actually talk to me know, I am willing to listen. I may not agree, but if you treat me like a leper, you reap what you sow. I’m not in it this for politicians or administrators or for whatever state association you have. I’m in this for the kids. For my own son. And for this entire generation of students who have been subjected to pure and utter crap from adults who should REALLY know better than to think it is okay to profit off kids.
I will say I endorsed Scott Gesty for Congress last month. Ideologically, we agree on many issues. With that being said, if he wasn’t in the race, I would support Hans Reigle. Blunt-Rochester is just spend, spend, spend, and economy this and economy that with the same script we’ve read for the past eight years under Governor Rodel, er, uhm, Markell. And Carney is the same thing. Enough. I can say Blunt-Rochester will not be getting a vote from my household as my wife supports Hans. We are a divided household, what can I say. I am a firm believer you get what you vote for. And the way this state votes “blue or die”, we will get the same. And all those who preach doom and gloom every single political season, those of the same party who can’t stand each other but will support their peer because of a political label, they will be the first ones complaining over the next four years and public education will continue to go down a dark path as we try to spend our way to prosperity. Many see me as a Democrat, while others see me as a Republican or Libertarian. I’m just a dad. Concerned about my son’s future as a citizen of Delaware and America. I see between the lines of all the crap being slung at us. The lies, the manipulation, the fraud. It is not red or blue or any other party. It’s greed, pure and simple. People who are so used to hanging out with people who are, at heart, glorified salespeople, who promise great things as they spin their shit into gold.
I can’t support Hillary or Donald either for those same reasons. Hillary is the godmother of corporate education reform. Trump is just Trump, all bark and no bite. But when he gets impeached (which I can easily see happening), we will be left with Mike Pence who is a big corporate education reform kind of guy. So either way we are screwed. I think Hillary’s plans are exactly what we see happening in education. Don’t be fooled by her. She will stab all students, teachers, and parents in the back. And her minions in each state, including Delaware, will make damn sure it happens at the state level. The wheels are already in motion. We call this the Every Student Succeeds Act. Don’t think for one minute she isn’t banking on winning and has been planning accordingly. And just in case, we have Mike Pence waiting in the wings. And Delaware will automatically cave if we keep the current power structure and say “Yes, we have to do this.” And the cycle goes on and on and on…
As for Lisa Blunt-Rochester and her need to have us find “common ground” as she put it tonight, we will never find that common ground until some candidates and existing legislators don’t return to the ground. I don’t vote on smiles. I vote on words. And the words I was looking for tonight did come out. Just not from you.
Aaaron Bass, the new Executive Director of EastSide Charter School and Family Foundations Academy has some very lofty goals for students. Mirroring the very controversial No Child Left Behind law enacted in 2002, Bass wants all students to be 100% proficient on the Smarter Balanced Assessment. The difference is Bass’ plans to determine how a child advances in grade levels. And what method of teaching does Bass prefer? Continue reading “EastSide Charter & Family Foundations Academy Have No Child Left Behind Goals But Plan To Leave More Students Behind”
This guy has a lot of nerve. Jack Markell operates a shadow state government through his friends at Rodel and the Delaware Business Roundtable and he has the unmitigated gall to tell people we need to embrace change?
Yesterday he spoke before a Rotary Club in Lewes, DE to talk about the Pathways to Prosperity program he has been pimping non-stop since the beginning of the year. Every single chance he gets. But as we all know, this is Rodel’s baby. I have no doubt he is referring to people like me who question his every education move and see through the pretentiousness he carries with every word that comes out of his mouth about education.
The Cape Gazette, who wrote an editorial on Markell’s incessant babbling about the Pathways program, said the following:
Effective politicians act. That’s what Markell has done.
I completely agree with the Gazette. Markell is one of the best actors on the political circuit. If he isn’t busy promoting something that puts education money into the very greedy hands of corporations, he is setting up policy to destroy public education through the Rodelians whispering in his ear at every moment. How the hell anyone in this state thinks he is this “great” Governor is not in touch with reality. Or they have somehow profited from his shadowplays behind the scenes.
He denies access to the truth on a constant basis. He puts out Executive Orders that others seem to write and sets up commissions and committees that the public never have access to. These are the groups creating all this change we “bemoan”. And standing front and center in front of every single one of Markell’s education decisions is Rodel CEO Paul Herdman, getting richer by the day as the students of Delaware become educationally poor. But this devastator duo thrive on this destruction. They spin it and say “Oh, we need to do more”, and the crap just piles up more and more, year after year.
This is a guy who hires all the people in education that continue to build up things that will eventually destroy public education. I pray to God every single night this man never sets foot in public office again. Why the people of this state don’t collectively organize, regardless of political party or affiliation, and stand up to these bullies is beyond me. How they can sit at the same table as Rodel with a straight face and actually not see through the fraud and lies is beyond me. Time is rapidly running out for people to act. I can write about this stuff every single day but it means nothing until YOU do something about it. There will come a day when many of you will say “Holy crap, he was right about everything.” I don’t say that for my own personal edification. I would rather have you believe me now AND act on it now.
If you think for one second this will stop once Markell leaves office, you are dead wrong. John Carney already read the Rodel script and is pushing it in his own way. He swallowed the bait Rodel dangled for him. His own campaign manager sits on the Rodel Advisory Board.
Two weeks ago, Paul Herdman wrote about HIS version of education on Rodel’s blog. He said “We get it, education isn’t a business.” This coming from the guy who makes more than any state education employee. I challenge Paul Herdman to go home tonight, look in the mirror, and really look into his soul and say the words “Education isn’t a business” and truly believe it.
As always Delaware, it is up to all of you…
PIC is the Parent Information Center of Delaware. Subsidized by the Delaware Department of Education, PIC is a federally mandated organization for parents to use as a resource center for special education. Every state is required to have this type of entity under IDEA, the federal special education law. Why is PIC of Delaware advertising Alliance For Excellent Education and “personalized learning”? Personalized learning, if implemented full scale, would diminish the role of special education in schools by giving every single student their own individual education program, otherwise known as an IEP.
As anyone in Delaware who regularly read this blog know, the biggest supporter for personalized learning has been the Rodel Foundation of Delaware. I get very concerned when I see special education groups pushing what Rodel pushes. As I’ve said before, personalized learning in its true context is light years away from the 21st Century push for it. It would turn teacher-led instruction into screen time for students with teachers becoming glorified moderators. This would take place in a competency-based education environment where a student doesn’t move on until they have “mastered” the material. All in a digital classroom with education technology that reaps high rewards for those who invest in them. Without any regard for the psychological and physical health effects on any student, much less those who have disabilities. As anyone who keeps track of progress for students with disabilities can tell you, special education students would be the last ones to “move along” in this type of classroom. Which makes it even more puzzling that PIC would promote this type of education. When I clicked on the link in the Alliance For Excellent Education ad, it brought me to a YouTube video.
Whatever the intentions were for the Every Student Succeeds Act, it was hijacked by corporate education reformers and they are taking full advantage of inserting what they want in every single state. States are working on their ESSA plans this fall and those who wish to profit off education at the expense of student futures are getting louder than ever.
PIC does a lot of good things. They can be a good resource. But I truly wish they would distance themselves from corporate Kool-Aid like this. It is misleading to parents who don’t know any better. There are enough issues with special education in Delaware. We really don’t want or welcome, for those of us who see these kind of education fix it companies as the charlatans they are, these kind of intrusions in our children’s lives.
Alliance For Excellent Education is led by former West Virginia Governor Bob Wise with funding by former Florida Governor Jeb Bush. Wise pushes the “Future Ready Schools” initiative, as detailed in the biography on the All4ed.org website:
Don’t let the fancy talk fool you. Future Ready Schools requires district Superintendents to sign a “Future Ready Pledge”, heavily pushed by the U.S. Department of Education, to turn classrooms into an ed tech wonderland. Five current or former Delaware Superintendents signed this pledge: Dr. Merv Daugherty with Red Clay Consolidated, Dr. Victoria Gehrt with New Castle County Vo-Tech, Alan Lathbury with Sussex Tech, Phyllis Kohel with Milford, and John Ewald with Laurel. I have to wonder if they got the consent of their school boards, teachers, students, parents, and citizens of their districts before they committed themselves to this bogus “pledge”. All you have to do is look at Future Ready’s “partners” to understand what this really is.
Remember when you were a child and someone, at one point in your life, told you “If I told you to jump off the Brooklyn Bridge, would you?” Apparently, far too many of those in charge of school districts take the plunge with no regard for students whatsoever. And it looks like PIC of Delaware is pretty wet already…
Dear Lily Eskelsen Garcia,
As President of the National Education Association, I am very curious why the NEA Foundation accepts money from the Gates Foundation. While that foundation does have some very noble projects going on with health issues in Africa, they also have some very disturbing things that have caused serious disruption in public education. I can’t remotely fathom how anything even associated with the largest teachers union in the country would want anything to do with the Gates Foundation.
Gates and all the other foundations that support corporate education reform want to bust the teachers unions. They want to privatize education and make schools 21st Century community learning centers. Everything the NEA stands for will eventually crumble to dust. Gone will be a teacher instructing a class. Instead, they will get training on how to guide students on their 1:1 devices.
I am not a teacher. I’m a parent. I understand NEA is about teachers. But lately, at least in terms of leadership, it seems like those leaders are all about themselves and their personal quest for power. It isn’t even about the teachers anymore. If I were a teacher, I would consider it a slap in the face knowing NEA actually collaborates with these entities.
I can only assume you are well-connected with these organizations and know exactly what they are planning. As an education blogger, I’ve written about it as have many others. The writing is on the wall but you seem to be worried about that one tiny corner in the room with a tiny cobweb. At least that’s what you tell your membership. I find it abhorrent you would sell out those who elected you.
But what I find even more bizarre is the buzzwords coming out of NEA and all these education organizations pretending they know what is best for children. If you are following the corporate mantras then you lost touch with what is best for kids a long time ago. This makes you, NEA leadership, and the NEA Foundation a part of the problem, not a hope for a solution.
When I first began blogging over two years ago, I soon find myself rooting for teachers. I joined the Badass Teachers Facebook page and began to see how all of this affected teachers. But I find myself wondering why the supposed leadership of teachers is getting in bed with companies that want to destroy you and your membership.
I would like you to explain this. Not for me, but for the hundreds of thousands of teachers who elected you as President of the NEA. Also for the students who are under the care of teachers for 1/3rd of their life until they graduate high school.
I understand many will take offense to this very open and public letter to you. But I also know what is coming up in the very near future, based on the seeds planted by the privatizers of education. You keep watering those plants and they will weed out what is left of public education. I warned you and AFT about jumping on the Every Student Succeeds Act and begging your membership to support it before the final legislation came out. That law will destroy NEA and the American Federation of Teachers.
You seem more concerned with Donald Trump lately than the very real danger facing teachers as every state in the country submits their ESSA state plans. It doesn’t matter who the next President of this country is. Our national government sold their souls to corporations and foundations a long time ago. This is all just distraction so they can get their final pieces in play. I suppose that is why the NEA Foundation is actually helping to fund all these ed tech conferences and global future forums. It is complete nonsense and they are taking teachers money and investing it in what will replace them. Doesn’t that bother you in the slightest?
In my viewpoint, this is like the snake giving you the apple. But you don’t just take a bite out of it, you start taking tons of apples, begin making apple pies, and sell them for the snake. It is just wrong. If you can’t look out for teachers and their future, please step down. And for those who are also subscribed to these viewpoints in NEA and AFT, you should step down as well. The price for teachers and students is too big to have power brokers dancing with the devil. I’m sure the viewpoint of parents is the last thing on your mind, but we are sick and tired of those who think they know what is best for our children but are selling them out behind the scenes. You seem to forget that today’s students are tomorrow’s teachers. What you do to them now will make sure NEA will become an archived post on Wikipedia that gets less readers by the year.
If you want our schools to become personalized learning competency-based career tracking community schools of the future, where students have no privacy and everything is catalogued while they earn to learn, then please, go work for a cyber charter school. If not, then please detach from any corporation that wants to destroy what you lead. Only then will I truly believe you have teachers best interests in mind. Your job should be leading teachers away from this madness, not embracing it.
For that matter, why is the National Education Association Foundation sponsoring any company or event along with companies that will eventually destroy the teaching profession as we know it? I want to make very clear that the NEA Foundation is separate from the NEA. Many members in the NEA are not happy with the NEA Foundation and how they co-mingle with corporate education reformers.
For the NEA Foundation, they have their own sponsors. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, AT&T, Bank Of America, Horace Mann, and, of course, the NEA itself. Those are the funders in the “Genius Level”. I don’t see a lot of genius involved in taking money from a foundation that pushed Common Core and its nasty little assessments along with funding tons of other foundations for seed money to incubate more charter schools.
The Global Education Forum in Philadelphia on October 13th-15th is an ed tech wonderland. All the companies that just love all this new technology taking over classrooms will be pimping their wares at this conference for sure! The conference is run by the appropriately named Global Education Conference. Their sponsors include Google Education and a whole host of ed tech and assessment companies. It looks like anyone can be on their global advisory board which looks like the Olympics for personalized learning.
I’m sure I don’t need to remind everyone that the President of the NEA sits on this foundation, Lily Eskelsen Garcia. To me, this is like when the National PTA called out the Delaware PTA for supporting a parent’s right to opt out. It goes against everything they stand for to not only support, but also fund all the ed tech and corporate education reform. They aren’t only sitting at the table, they are openly helping to buy the table. NEA needs new leadership. You can’t have it both ways Lily. Unless you are somehow profiting from all this… Stop selling out teachers!