The Tentacles Of Corporate Education Reform And How They Pull Parents Down The Rabbit Hole

Embedded in the latest Elementary/Secondary Education Act reauthorization are initiatives and agendas that will transform education as we know it. This is not a good thing. Nothing in Delaware currently going on (WEIC, Student Success 2025, Statewide Review of Educational Opportunities) is original. This is happening across the country. The result: students plugged in to computers all the time who will only advance once they have gained proficiency in the Common Core-infused personalized learning technology. The benefits will not be for the students.  They come in the form of financial benefits which will belong to the corporate education reformers, hedge fund managers, and investors. Tech-stock will go through the roof if the current ESEA reauthorization passes, and companies like Schoology, Great Schools and 2Revolutions Inc. will become billionaires over-night. Meanwhile, our children will indeed become slaves to the system. The future is here!

The ESEA reauthorization has morphed into the classic quote from Obi-Wan Kenobi in the original Star Wars movie: “These aren’t the droids you’re looking for.”  If you actually think this latest round of ESEA legislation that will come to a vote next Wednesday will reduce testing, you have been sucked down the rabbit hole!

Who is Schoology?  I’ve heard their name countless times in the past year.  I figured it was long past time I dove into this company that is essentially invading every single school district and charter in the First State.  Especially given the information regarding the upcoming ESEA reauthorization vote coming on 12/2.

Schoology offers a cloud service for personalized and blended learning.  For those who aren’t aware, personalized learning is defined by a Great Schools sponsored company as the following:

Personalized learning is generally seen as an alternative to so-called “one-size-fits-all” approaches to schooling in which teachers may, for example, provide all students in a given course with the same type of instruction, the same assignments, and the same assessments with little variation or modification from student to student.

But this is what it really is: a cash-cow bonanza for corporate education reform companies, especially those on the tech side who are pushing their internet-based modules out faster than you realize.  Schoology opened shop in Delaware with the BRINC partnership between the Brandywine, Indian River, New Castle County Vo-Tech and Colonial school districts.  These four districts used Schoology as the base for their personalized learning partnership, and the Caesar Rodney and Appoquinimink districts have joined as well.  The News Journal wrote a huge article on Schoology last March, and reporter Matthew Albright wrote:

Schools must figure out how to create the right infrastructure, providing enough bandwidth and wireless network capacity. They have to settle on the right computers or tablets and find ways to pay for them, configure them, and teach students how to use them.

And, while many teachers have taken their own initiative to find new educational tools, schools and districts have to find ways to train teachers in using these systems and make sure all educators are on the same page.

In Delaware, a group of districts has banded together to work out the best way to deal with those challenges.

The consortium is called BRINC, after the four school districts that originally participated: Brandywine, Indian River, New Castle County Vo-Tech and Colonial. The group added two more districts, Appoquinimink and Caesar Rodney, this year.

Over a year ago, I was distracted away from this by a company called 2Revolutions Inc.  After their appearance at the annual Vision Coalition conference, I looked into 2Revolutions and did not like what I was seeing.  My eye was on 2Revolutions coming into Delaware as a vendor, and I completely missed Schoology who was already here.  Meanwhile, 2Revolutions invaded the New Hampshire education landscape.  Schoology is not much different.  But they don’t just provide a cloud service in Delaware.  According to the minutes from the Senate Concurrent Resolution #22 Educational Technology Task Force in Delaware, Schoology has also integrated with e-School and IEP Plus.  In a press release from Schoology on 5/20/14, the company announced they were integrating with SunGard K-12 Education (the creators of e-school and IEP Plus):

SunGard K-12 Education’s eSchoolPLUS, an industry-recognized student information system, helps educational stakeholders—students, school administrators, district staff, teachers, parents, and board members—easily manage and immediately access the summary and detailed student information they need, when they need it.

While this seems like a good thing, it is a tremendous amount of data which is now in Schoology’s hands.  Schoology is also branching out like crazy all over the country.  They just announced a contract with L.A. Unified School District, as well as Seattle Public School District and Boulder Valley School District.  In terms of financing, they just secured their fourth round of financing with JMI Investments to the tune of $32 million dollars.  This brings their total financing amount to $57 million over the past couple years from investment firms.  The trick to all of this is in the surface benefits: the cloud-based service where teachers can share instruction is free.  But where it goes from there is unchartered territory, according to Tech-Crunch:

On the other side, there is an enterprise-grade product meant for school districts and universities, that gives richer functionality to administrators to hook into back-end student information systems, build out campuses and building maps, and far more. Schoology said that the price (which is per student, per year) is scaled down for larger clients, but he wouldn’t share the general price range for Schoology Enterprise.

Schoology also provides “assistive technology” services for professional development, according to more minutes from the SCR #22 Task Force:

The creation of comprehensive online professional development using the Schoology platform for both Delaware and Assistive Technology Guidelines documents.

The task force is also going to recommend the following:

Provide district/charters the opportunity to buy-into using Schoology with K-12 students at minimal cost. Increase funding to support growth of the use of Schoology that will drive the per student cost down.
Support the use of Resources within Schoology for sharing teacher-created content and OER.

The SCR #22 Educational Technology Task Force was brought forth by Delaware Senator Bryan Townsend, and sponsored by Senator David Sokola, State Rep. Earl Jaques, State Rep. Trey Paradee, and co-sponsored by Senator Colin Bonini. While this task force is going on, there is another task force called the Student Data Privacy Task Force, which came from an amendment to Senate Bill 79, sponsored by Senator Sokola.  Sokola and Jaques also sponsored the current Senate Joint Resolution #2 Assessment Inventory Task Force. I firmly believe every single one of these task forces, aside from having very similar legislators behind the scenes, will also serve to bring about the complete immersion of Delaware into personalized learning. I wrote last month about the clear and present danger behind the data collection occurring with Delaware students.  But it doesn’t just stop at personalized learning because at a state and national level there is a big push for “competency-based education”, which I wrote about a few weeks ago.

Competency-Based Education, also called Proficiency Based Learning, is a process where students do not advance until they have mastered the material. Instead of a once a year standardized assessment, students will be tested at the end of a unit, on a computer. Think Smarter Balanced Assessment broken up into numerous chunks throughout the year. This “stealth” testing will effectively “reduce the amount of testing” but would also give the exact same tests but at a micro-level. This is also an opt-out killer as parents would have no way of knowing how often their child is being tested, nor would they likely have access to the actual questions on the mini-assessments.  Meanwhile, as President Obama and soon-to-be-former US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan mirror Delaware’s Senate Joint Resolution #2, parents and educators are saying “Yes, yes, yes!” but bloggers like myself are saying “No, no, no!”

Save Maine Schools, a blog written by a teacher from Maine named Emily Talmage, has delved into this digital nightmare in great length.  Talmage bought the product these companies were selling until she wisely began to question the motives behind it all.  Maine, along with New Hampshire, Alaska, and Delaware, is one of the state guinea pigs where the experiment of Personalized Learning and Competency-Based Education is at the forefront.  All four of these states have smaller populations and are led by reform-style education leaders.  Talmage recently wrote about what has been going on while we were testing:

The fact is, the state-led testing consortia , which promised to use our tax money to bring us high quality tests that would get our kids “college and career ready”, were actually business consortia, strategically formed to collaborate on “interoperability frameworks” – or, to use simpler terms, ways of passing data and testing content from one locale to the next (from Pearson to Questar, for example, or from your local town to the feds).

Just as the Common Core State Standards were intended to unleash a common market, so, too, was the effort to create a common digital “architecture” that would allow companies like Questar and Pearson and Measured Progress and all the rest to operate in a “plug in play” fashion. (Think of Xbox, Nintendo, PlayStation, and all the rest teaming up to make a super-video-game console.)

The upcoming ESEA reauthorization, called the “Every Student Succeeds Act”, is filled with easter eggs and cash prizes for companies like Schoology, as seen in the below document from EdWeek.

That is a ton of federal money going out to schools from legislation designed on the surface to halt federal interference in education.  It sounds like Race To The Top all over again, but on a much bigger scale.  The tentacles from the feds reach deep into the states with this latest ESEA reauthorization, and behind the US DOE are all the companies that will feast on tax-payer funds.

The bill also allows for further charter school expansion and the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools recently said:

The National Alliance congratulates the conference committee for taking another step forward in the bipartisan effort to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. While we have not yet seen the full text of the conference agreement, we are pleased to learn the proposal would modernize the Charter Schools Program, supporting the growth and expansion of high-quality charter schools to better meet parental demand.

When the opt-out movement grew in huge numbers earlier this year, many civil rights groups protested opt-out as a means of putting minority children further behind their peers.  What they don’t realize is the current ESEA reauthorization will ensure this happens!  Even the two largest teacher union organizations are jumping on this version of ESEA.  The American Federation of Teachers wrote a letter urging ESEA to pass as soon as possible.  National Education Association President Lily Eskelsen Garcia wrote:

We look forward to working with the congressional conference committee members to ensure that we produce a bill that, when signed by the president, gives every student the opportunity, support, tools, and time to learn.

How much do these civil rights groups and leaders of teacher unions really know about what is inside this bill?  Do they understand the danger of rushing this ESEA version to a vote and what it will mean for the future of education and children?  Don’t the teacher unions realize this will be the death knell for the future of teachers in America?  Once personalized learning is embraced by all public schools in America, teachers will become moderators or facilitators of the personalized learning modules.  The demand for “old-school” teachers will greatly diminish, and teacher qualifications will simply become how to review and program these digital instructional items.  The vast amount of money and resources will pour into technology and only the school leaders will be the ones with high salaries.  The current teacher salary models in each state will become a thing of the past.  With the charter school protections written in this bill, more and more charters will open up that will drain away local dollars.  With each state able to come up with their own accountability systems, the schools with the highest-needs students will slowly give way to charters.  Rinse, wash, repeat.  If I were a public school teacher that is in a union, I would seriously question why the national leaders are endorsing this.

Even American Institutes for Research (AIR), the testing vendor for the Smarter Balanced Assessment in Delaware and holds numerous other contracts with other states and the US Department of Education is in on this new “digital age”:

As part of the Future Ready initiative, President Obama hosted more than 100 school superintendents at the White House during a November 19, 2014 “ConnectED to the Future” summit.  Superintendents signed the Future Ready District Pledge indicating their commitment to work with educators, families and communities to develop broadband infrastructures; make high-quality digital materials and devices more accessible; and support professional development programs for educators, schools and districts as they transition to digital learning.

But it doesn’t stop there, because AIR wants districts to invest heavily in all this technology:

Effectively using technology is an essential skill in today’s workforce but also critical to advancing teaching and learning. Today’s students aren’t just digital natives: they increasingly use digital devices to complete school assignments, stay informed, and network with peers around the world. A tipping point for technology and schooling may be in store soon:  instead of merely enhancing teaching and learning, technology may transform both by better accommodating individual learning styles and facilitating collaboration. Whether through the deeper learning, personalized learning, or blended learning approaches districts are exploring and investing heavily in now, technology could finally help your state unlock instruction—educational policy’s “black box”—and ultimately close achievement gaps.

It all comes back to closing those damn achievement gaps, based on the very same state standards and standardized testing that are creating those very same achievement gaps.  This is something AIR excels at, creating the “need” and then selling the “fix”.  Some have theorized, but been unable to prove due to an inability to get into AIR’s contracts and financial records, that companies like WestEd, Questar, Data Recognition Corp. (the “human scorer” company for the Smarter Balanced Assessment in Delaware), and Measurement Inc. are merely shell companies for AIR.  AIR seems to be controlling so much of what is in education.  So much so, it is hard to tell the difference between AIR and the Council of Chief State School Officers.  Which brings us back to Delaware Governor Jack Markell.

This is a man who has been involved in corporate education reform for well over ten years, possibly longer.  He worked at McKinsey and Associates in the 90’s as a consultant, and after coining Nextel, he became the State Treasurer for Delaware, a role he served from 2001-2009.  Since then, he has served as the Governor of Delaware and been behind every single education reform movement that has swept the country.  When Markell served as the President of the National Governor’s Association in 2013, he attended some very big events.  Including the Milken Institute Global Conference.  While in attendance, he served on several panels that were not open to the public and were considered private “by invitation only”.  Why would an elected official, sworn to uphold the best interests of his state, serve on private panels for huge investment firms?  The panels Markell served on at the Milken conference were “Global Capital Markets Advisory Council” (along with Tony Blair, Michael Milken, Eric Cantor and Rupert Murdoch) and “K-12 Education Private Lunch”.  Those were the only two panels Markell talked on, both private, and both closed to the public.

Jack Markell, the great violator of parental rights, who vetoed opt-out legislation in Delaware that overwhelmingly passed the Delaware House and Senate, is one of the key political figures and puppet masters behind all of this.  With close ties to Achieve, McKinsey, the Council of Chief State School Officers, the Rodel Foundation of Delaware, New America, and the Center for American Progress, Markell is a very dangerous man in education.  Markell’s ambitions are not for the good of the citizens of Delaware.  His constituents are the very same companies behind the latest ESEA reauthorization, personalized learning, competency-based education, and the public shaming of educators everywhere unless they happen to belong to a charter school.  He was even involved in the creation of Common Core:

He has also served for three years as Chair of the National Board of Directors of Jobs for America’s Graduates, co-chair of the Common Core Standards Initiative and chair of the Metropolitan Wilmington Urban League.

The last of those groups is a civil rights organization in Delaware’s largest city, Wilmington.  When Markell first announced his “original” idea of assessment inventory, he was joined in the press conference by the head of that organization at the time.

In Delaware, we are led by a tyrant who leads the charge in education reform and allows the money-sucking vampires like Schoology to come in and pocket funds that allow bloated classrooms.  Companies like Schoology will make damn sure students with disabilities, children from poverty, and at-risk youth are always behind their peers.  This is what their services thrive on, the constant demand to fix education.  As our US Congress votes on the ESEA reauthorization, keep this in mind: it is not meant for every student to succeed.  It is all about the money.  Follow it, and you too will see the path to success.

What can parents and teachers do?  Aside from following the money, which is a mammoth task and all too frequently a lesson in humility, look at your local, state and national leaders.

Look at legislation and regulations.

What initiatives and plans are your district boards, charter boards, and state boards of education voting on?

For charter school parents, do you ever question why the boards of charters are appointed rather than elected?

Do you ever look at “task forces”, “working groups” and “committees” in your state and wonder who is on them and why there were appointed?

Does  your state sell the term “stakeholders” in determining policies but many of the same people serve on these groups?

Which of your state legislators are introducing legislation that seems harmless on the surface but has caveats and loopholes deeply embedded into it?

Which legislators are up for re-election and could be easily swayed for promises of future power?

Which legislators are running for higher office?

What policies and laws are your state Congress representatives voting on?

What is your Governor up to?  Do you see news blips about them speaking at private organizations but it is not on their public schedule?

Do you see action by legislators that seems to defy the beliefs of their individual political party?

Do you see education leaders and legislators comingling with lobbyists in your state Capital?

For teachers, where does your local union and state union stand on these issues?  Your national?

Parents: if your school has a PTA or PTO, what are their collective stances on these critical issues?

Do you know if your State Board of Education is elected or appointed?

Find out who your state lobbyists are.  Read.  Search.  Discover.  Question everything.  Email your state legislators and Congress representatives when you don’t agree with something you believe will have no direct benefit for your individual child.  Vote for those who you think will stand against this bi-partisan regime of education vampires.  Question those who sit on the sidelines and do nothing.  Push them.  Make your voice heard.  .  Look into initiatives going on in your state, or research groups looking into school funding or redistricting.  Part of the ESEA reauthorization has states looking at “weighted funding”, whereby funds would pour into more high-needs schools.  As well, the reauthorization would allow more Title I dollars to go into the “bottom” schools than they currently do.  When I say “bottom”, these are schools usually with the most high-needs students who do not do well on the standardized tests.  In many states, these schools become charter schools.  Once again, rinse, wash, repeat.

One thing to keep in mind is the corporate education reform movement is everywhere.  Like a secret society, they have embedded themselves and they are hiding in plain sight.  In every single one of the groups mentioned above.  Some of the people I am asking people to look into may not even realize they are a part of these agendas.  Some may just think they are doing the right thing.  For folks like myself, Diane Ravitch, Mercedes Schneider, Emily Talmage and countless others, our job is to expose and name them.  We discover the lies and call them out.  We are the last line of defense before your child’s worthwhile education is completely gone, lost in the shadows and truckloads of money behind those who would dare to steal your child’s benefit for their own future.  Unless you are part of the wealthy and elite, your child’s fate is being decided on next week during the vote for the ESEA reauthorization.  Most of you don’t even realize this.  Many that do have been duped and fooled into believing this is the right thing.  Many of us have been fighting the evil standardized test and opting out, and the whole time they have been plotting and scheming in closed-door meetings with companies to bring about the last phase of corporate education reform: the complete and utter brainwashing of your child wired into a never-ending state of constant assessment and proficiency based on the curriculum that they wrote.  They fooled the bloggers as well.  But we are the resistance, and we will not stop the defense of our children.  We will protect our schools and our communities from the corporate raiders.  We will keep opting out and fighting for the rights of others to do so as well.  We will not be bought or sold into the devious and intrinsic methodologies they seek to perpetuate on our society.  We will fight, not because we gain personal reward or acclaim, but because it is the right thing to do.

The Data Consortium That Allows Student Information To Be Shared With Hundreds Of Companies & Universities Globally

One picture. Nine cross-state collaborations. And a company that houses all of the big testing companies and many of the big education reform players as well as some unusual shockers. What in God’s name has the DOE done now? What the hell is “student interventions product, data tagging” and all this other nonsense? Now I can see why Delaware Senator David Sokola and Attorney General Matt Denn were in such a huge rush to get Senate Bill 79 passed. But the original legislation was not what passed. It was the SS1 amendment that was the true goal. Have to say I’m very disappointed Delaware seems to think it can share student data with whoever the hell they want.

And then there is this very disturbing document, taken from Colorado’s Statewide Longitudinal Data System Grant application for a potential award from the US Department of Education for this year:

12088161_1631093473798876_7639148365207500198_n

And what is this, in the July 2015 newsletter from the CCSSO website:

Privacy Workgroup

The privacy workgroup would like to welcome Pat Bush from Delaware as the newest CIO-lead for the group. He joins current CIO leads- Melinda Maddox from Alabama and Marcia Bohannon from Colorado. The leads are meeting this month to continue discussions around the development of a privacy toolkit for SEA leadership and will also identify priority areas for the workgroup to focus on during the new program year.  

For those who may not be familiar with CCSSO and SEA, CCSSO is the Council of Chief State School Officers and SEA stands for State Educational Agencies which in Delaware is the Department of Education. Why would the DOE need a privacy “toolkit”?

Back to Senate Bill 79 w/SS1.  This bill was rushed through the 148th General Assembly by Senator David Sokola under the hand of Delaware Attorney General Matt Denn.  Below is the lobbying activity on this one bill:

SS 1 FOR SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 8/11/2015 Robert L. Byrd Delaware Business Roundtable Education Committee, Inc.
SS 1 FOR SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 7/6/2015 Cheryl Heiks Google
SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 7/6/2015 Cheryl Heiks Google
SS 1 FOR SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 7/2/2015 Melissa Hopkins Rodel Foundation of Delaware
SS 1 FOR SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 6/22/2015 Rhett Ruggerio Delaware Charter School Network
SS 1 FOR SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 6/22/2015 Jordan Seemans Delaware Charter School Network
SS 1 FOR SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 6/19/2015 Kimberly B. Gomes Delaware Business Roundtable Education Committee, Inc.
SS 1 FOR SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 6/19/2015 Kimberly B. Gomes Amazon
SS 1 FOR SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 6/19/2015 Robert L. Byrd Amazon
SS 1 FOR SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 6/19/2015 Rebecca Byrd Delaware Business Roundtable Education Committee, Inc.
SS 1 FOR SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 6/19/2015 Rebecca Byrd Amazon
SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 6/19/2015 Rebecca Byrd Amazon
SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 6/17/2015 Ron Barnes Google Inc.
SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 6/15/2015 Melissa Hopkins Rodel Foundation of Delaware
SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 6/15/2015 Paul Herdman Rodel Foundation of Delaware
SS 1 FOR SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 6/11/2015 Christopher V. DiPietro MICROSOFT CORPORATION
SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 6/3/2015 Christopher V. DiPietro MICROSOFT CORPORATION
SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 5/18/2015 Deborah Hamilton Google
SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 5/12/2015 Scott Ward MICROSOFT CORPORATION
SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 5/12/2015 Jeremy Kudon MICROSOFT CORPORATION
SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 5/5/2015 Rebecca Byrd Delaware Business Roundtable Education Committee, Inc.
SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 5/5/2015 Kimberly B. Gomes Delaware Business Roundtable Education Committee, Inc.
SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 5/5/2015 Robert L. Byrd Verizon Delaware LLC
SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 5/5/2015 Robert L. Byrd Delaware Business Roundtable Education Committee, Inc.
SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 5/5/2015 Robert L. Byrd Amazon
SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 5/5/2015 Kim Willson Delaware Charter School Network
SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 5/5/2015 Rhett Ruggerio Delaware Charter School Network
SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 5/5/2015 Jordan Seemans Delaware Charter School Network
SS 1 FOR SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 8/11/2015 Robert L. Byrd Delaware Business Roundtable Education Committee, Inc.
SS 1 FOR SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 7/6/2015 Cheryl Heiks Google
SS 1 FOR SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 7/2/2015 Melissa Hopkins Rodel Foundation of Delaware
SS 1 FOR SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 6/22/2015 Rhett Ruggerio Delaware Charter School Network
SS 1 FOR SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 6/22/2015 Jordan Seemans Delaware Charter School Network
SS 1 FOR SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 6/19/2015 Kimberly B. Gomes Delaware Business Roundtable Education Committee, Inc.
SS 1 FOR SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 6/19/2015 Kimberly B. Gomes Amazon
SS 1 FOR SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 6/19/2015 Robert L. Byrd Amazon
SS 1 FOR SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 6/19/2015 Rebecca Byrd Delaware Business Roundtable Education Committee, Inc.
SS 1 FOR SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 6/19/2015 Rebecca Byrd Amazon
SS 1 FOR SB 79 (Sokola) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL DATA GOVERNANCE. 6/11/2015 Christopher V. DiPietro MICROSOFT CORPORATION

To anyone who thinks Senator Sokola is trustworthy and is looking out for kids, think again.  But Attorney General Matt Denn’s involvement and the imperative rush to get this through…that’s a headscratcher.  Similar bills went through in other states, and nearly all of them had the same amendments added and the lobbyists swarmed in to make sure the following language was added, which is taken from the final legislation for Senate Bill 79:

(6) Nothing in this subsection prohibits an operator from using student data for any of the following:

a. Maintaining, delivering, supporting, evaluating, or diagnosing the operator’s Internet website, online or cloud computing service, online application, or mobile application.

b. Adaptive learning or customized student learning purposes.

(7) Nothing in this subsection prohibits an operator from using or sharing aggregate student data or de-identified student data for any of the following:

a. The development and improvement of the operator’s Internet website, online or cloud computing service, online application, or mobile application, or other educational Internet websites, online or cloud computing services, online applications, or mobile applications.

b. Within other Internet websites, online or cloud computing services, online applications, or mobile applications owned by the operator, and intended for school district, school, or student use, to evaluate and improve educational products or services intended for school district, school, or student use.

c. To demonstrate the effectiveness of the operator’s products or services, including their marketing.

When are Governor Markell and the Delaware DOE going to stop allowing all this data sharing?  Not anytime soon.  And don’t think this is just Delaware.  A company called IMS Global Learning Consortium has ALL the major players involved.  They are an umbrella company for data to be shared between all of these companies, with companies that do business with the Delaware DOE and two Delaware School Districts bolded for emphasis:

Contributing Members

Act, American Institutes for Research, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Blackboard, California State University, Data Recognition Corporation, ETS, EduCause, Harvard Business Publishing, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, IBM, Indian River School District, Intel, Learning.com, Lumen, McGraw Hill Education, Measured Progress, MediaCore, Microsoft, National Student Clearinghouse, Northwest Evaluation Association, Pacific Metrics Corporation, PARCC, Pearson, Public Consulting Group, Qualcomm Education Inc., Questar, Samsung, Schoology, Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium and numerous other companies and universities in the United States and around the world.

Affiliates

ACE Learning, College Board, Google, Red Clay Consolidated School District, Scantron, Scholastic, SunGard K-12 Education (houses Delaware e-school and IEP Plus), WestEd and many more.

And then they have hundreds of Alliance Participants. You can see what all the members get for their dues to IMS.  Pretty extensive list.

When you are a member, you get shared access of the whole network.  And which school district does the DOE praise the most and just had an administrator from that district join the State Board of Education? Indian River. And what district will be the recipient of the Wilmington Christina School District students? Red Clay Consolidated.

This company that charges outlandish fees to belong to their network has all the major education players. American Institutes for Research is the vendor for the Smarter Balanced Assessment. Want to know what that means Delaware parents? That means YOUR child’s test results are most likely filtering through this network of companies and universities and school districts. All over the world.

And take a wild guess where they are incorporated?

Delaware parents: by letting your child take the Smarter Balanced Assessment, you are saying it is okay for all these entities around the country and the globe to see your child’s information. It’s okay for them to see the psychometric information American Institutes for Research uses as a result of these assessments. Yes, the Delaware Department of Education isn’t on there. But guess what, the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium and American Institutes for Research are. And so is their scoring vendor, Data Recognition Corporation. And if Delaware ever changes the state assessment, I’m sure one of the many other testing companies on this list will gladly put in a bid.  But you can change that.  Aside from the obvious misuse and abuse that comes from Smarter Balanced, we are now learning the data from it is the true goldmine. The only way to stop this is to refuse to have your child take this test. Opt your child out now. Unless, once again, you are okay with all this…

Delaware legislators, this is just yet another reason why you need to override Governor Markell’s veto of the opt-out legislation: House Bill 50. You don’t think the Governor knows about all of this data swapping? Of course he does!

While Delaware didn’t win an award for this year’s Statewide Longitudinal Data System grant, it is very interesting to see the requirements for this, which can be found here,especially Section V.

Are we human? Or are we data?

Delaware DOE Does NOT Want Smarter Balanced & AIR Contracts Released, FOIA Response Is Ugly!!!!

On March 6th, I sent a Freedom of Information Act request to the Delaware Department of Education.  Read below to see what I asked for and what the response was, and then my thoughts on this.

Date of Request: Friday, March 06, 2015
To: Doe.foia@doe.k12.de.us

Name: Kevin Ohlandt
Email: kevino3670@yahoo.com

Records Requested: This is a request under the Delaware Freedom of Information Act, § 100001 et seq. I ask to obtain copies, preferably in digital format as PDF files, of the following, which I understand to be held by your Department. I ask that correspondence regarding this request be sent via email to kevino3670@yahoo.com. Information Requested: I request the Delaware Department of Education’s contracts (whether they are awarded contracts, cooperative contracts, set aside contracts, sole source contracts, or recently closed contracts, including any and all RFPs, addendums, award letters, and change orders) agreements, pacts, communications (whether in email or written correspondence, email should be in To: formats and cc: formats between any DOE employee with the below companies or consortiums) with the following companies or consortiums: American Institutes for Research (or if they are listed under AIR or Amer Institutes for Research), Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (or if they are listed under SBAC, SB, Smarter, Smarter Balanced, or Smarter Balanced Assessment), and Data Recognition Corporation. If available, I ask that this information be provided in a PDF format for the contracts, and a database format with a delimited text file for the communications. If you have this information in an existing report, that may suffice. I would prefer that this information (be sent) by e-mail, but the records can also be mailed to: Kevin Ohlandt (took out my address).  If you deny any or all of this request, please cite each specific exemption you feel justifies the refusal to release the information and notify me of the appeal procedures available to me under the law. I am a reporter and the sole writer for Exceptional Delaware, a blog about education in Delaware and the United States of America. This blog is widely read in Delaware and the USA. This request is made in the routine course of newsgathering. As such, I request a waiver of all fees for this request. Disclosure of the requested information to me is in the public interest because it is likely to contribute significantly to the public understanding of operations or activities of the government and is not primarily in my commercial interest. If the communications part of the request takes longer to obtain than the contract portion, please provide the contracts and all aforementioned parts of those contracts with undue delay. If you wish to discuss this request, I can be reached at (302) xxx-xxxx. My e-mail address is kevino3670@yahoo.com. I prefer to be reached by e-mail or phone. Sincerely, Kevin Ohlandt, Exceptional Delaware Writer/Creator/Reporter 

Contact if cost greater then: 0.00

After some back and forth with the DOE FOIA representative, Tina Shockley, and making it well-known that if the emails took longer, to go ahead and send the contracts first since I thought this would be the easiest thing to do.  On the date of the designated 15 business day response time, March 27th, I received nothing.  I sent a very stern email advising they were out of compliance with Delaware FOIA laws.  Today, I received this email from Tina Shockley:

From: Shockley Tina <Tina.Shockley@doe.k12.de.us>
To:kevino3670@yahoo.com” <kevino3670@yahoo.com>
Sent: Monday, March 30, 2015 8:48 AM
Subject: FW: FOIA request Comprehensive Estimates

Dear Mr. Ohlandt:

Thank you for your email on Friday. I did acknowledge your email request (see attached) on March 9, 2015, but I mistakenly sent it to the wrong email.  Please accept my apologies for that.  Likewise, I had this email ready to go on Friday, but forgot to send it before I left the office.

This email correspondence is to advise you that per your request for public documents under the Delaware Freedom of Information Act, 29 Del. C. Ch. 100, the Delaware Department of Education will need more than 15 days to fill your request because the request is for voluminous records, requires additional legal advice and the request includes one or more records that are in storage or archived.  DDOE estimates that the records requested from your FOIA request will be provided on or before June 1, 2015.   Because this is a large request which includes records dating back many years, we have contacted the Division of Public Archives.  They advise it will take at least 6 weeks to gather the information you are requesting. We will advise you if it will take longer than that.

You also noted that your FOIA was in the routine course of newsgathering, and you requested a waiver of all fees for this request.  I believe you may be confusing the provisions of the federal FOIA with the Delaware one.  Unfortunately, there is no state exemption or waiver for media.  If the review takes more than one hour, administrative costs are assessed.  Given that, I am providing you several options/cost estimates based on your request.  Please advise which portion of work you would like to pay and have us proceed with. Note work cannot start on your request until we receive payment.

The searches and administrative costs are:

Search 1 – $300 for DTI email search – this is for email correspondence between staff members.   You are welcome to send a check now made payable to DTI to get this work started.

Search 2 – $718.16 for DDOE to do email search, review and redact – this is based on 6 hours of work for the IT person to go through all the old records @ a rate of $45.46/hr., plus 20 hours of work at $22.27 hourly rate (of lowest rate for person able to perform the work) for the administrative processing, review/redaction of the files.

Search 3 – $5,359.20 for DDOE to search and pull contract information for the duration of the contracts, agreements requested – this is based on 220 hours of work at the $24.36 hourly rate (of lowest rate for person able to perform work)

Copies – You have the choice to come in and publicly view the information, or if you wish to have a copy of the materials gathered, we’d estimate that cost to be $191.50 = 1935 pages – 20 pages free x .10 

If you would prefer to put a timeframe on your request, that may reduce the costs and time to fulfill your request.    If you do so, I can provide you with an adjusted estimate.

Likewise, if you’d like to request and pay a specific amount, we can collect and copy and provide you with the documents reflective of the cost you pay, however, any work after that would not continue unless further payment is received.

Please advise which searches you would like to proceed with at this time.

In the meantime, I would encourage you to review the following public link  from our website which does provide some RFPs and contracts: http://bids.delaware.gov/.
Tina ShockleyEducation Associate – Policy Advisor Department of Education – Secretary’s Office, 401 Federal Street, Suite 2Dover, DE  19901

SLC:  D370B

 

 In what world does going through contracts take 220 hours?  These should all be available on the State of Delaware bid website, but they are not.  It is not a requirement, but they do so with every other contract.  Why don’t they with anything regarding standardized testing?  I expected the outrageous email costs, but over $5,300 for going over contracts?  That are already in PDF format I’m sure somewhere in the DOE computer system?  And here is how I know they are full of it because last summer I submitted a FOIA request to the DOE for the contract between the DOE and Public Consulting Group.  I got it back in a few days.

I can only assume they do not want this information to get out.  And if that is the case, they are hiding something.  But what?  The DOE has also been working with American Institutes for Research for a long time.  They created DCAS!  Taking away all the emails, how many contracts are set up with these companies?  Or is it so secretive it would put them in a very bad position if it ever got out?  I will be talking to the Delaware Department of Justice and Delaware Attorney General Matt Denn on this matter!

This is the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  What could be so controversial the DOE does not want the public to see?  Children are taking this test right now in Delaware.  If I were a Delaware parent, I would be very concerned about this lack of transparency in regards to, as State Rep. Earl Jaques put it, a “little test”.

In other FOIA news, if State Rep. John Kowalko’s FOIA to Governor Markell’s office is answered with the release of alternative emails of the Governor, does that mean they are going to go back and release all the other emails I did not receive from my January FOIA for all emails between the Governor and Paul Herdman, Joel Klein, Michelle Rhee and Arne Duncan?  I would think they would have to since it was part of an official FOIA request…