As Delaware Governor Markell went on his “common core” tour today at W. Reilly Brown Elementary School in the Caesar Rodney School District, he announced $400,000 in competitive grants going to 21 Delaware schools. The goal of these grants are professional development for teachers to further implement Common Core to increase student outcomes. And God wept…
Why is Jack Markell, with nine months left in his reign as Governor, doing this Common Core tour? Which company is paying him for this? What disgusts me is the way the Governor and the DOE lure teachers in by making it look like it is for them. How much professional development do teachers need? Let’s not forget the two purposes of this tour: to thank teachers for implementing Common Core and to “debunk” the myths surrounding it. You may fool some of our teachers and administrators Jack, but this is corporate tomfoolerty at its best. Far too many Delaware parents know better and you may have fooled us once, but not twice. As the state looks for funding, our districts will take any money they can get regardless of the cost to students. I will ask again Governor Markell: where are the funds for basic special education for students in Kindergarten to 3rd grade? Answer the question Jack!
This is, in my opinion, a strong push towards the blended/personalized learning the Rodel Foundation has pushed on Delaware the past couple years. The press release doesn’t even mention this, but events from last night suggest otherwise. Last night at the Capital Board meeting, their board unanimously voted to apply to BRINC, the blended learning consortium that already includes the Brandywine, Indian River, New Castle County Vo-Tech, Colonial, Red Clay, Appoquinimink and Caesar Rodney School Districts. Despite my public comment about the very obvious data privacy loopholes in existing law.
While student identifiable information doesn’t go out, it all filters through the Delaware DOE who simply gives education “research” companies the student’s identification number. When that information comes back, the DOE has all that data attached to a student’s identification number. As well, Schoology uses a cloud system called IMS that would allow any aggregate information through the Schoology application to be shared with their members. The Capital board seemed a little too eager to get this passed. At one point, Superintendent Dr. Dan Shelton didn’t know how much it would cost the district and it took him over fifteen minutes to find the information. The board discussed how it would be good professional development for teachers without talking about what it means for students or their personal data. Their CFO, Sean Sokolowski, said it would be paid for through Federal Consolidated Grants. Are these the same grants Markell announced today or are they separate? I would assume they are separate, but I’ve found many grants tend to have strings attached to them, just like the federal waiver scheme the US DOE abused under Race To The Top. As we rush headfirst into this personalized learning/competency-based education/career pathway future for our students, those in the power to question things are going along to get along. I can’t understand, for the life of me, why teachers are jumping on this bandwagon. This will eventually cause their job functions, as instructors, to diminish in the future. To the point where they will become “facilitators” instead of “instructors”. Does anyone think it is a coincidence paraprofessional salaries will eventually start at the same point as a first-year teacher in Delaware? Don’t believe me? Check out Governor Markell’s proposed FY2017 budget. Go to page 202 on the pdf, section 286. While many feel, and rightfully so, that paras in our schools are underpaid, should they be paid the same as a first-year teacher? If they performed the same job function…
I have not been too impressed with Caesar Rodney Superintendent Kevin Fitzgerald in the past year. He seems to have been sucked into the DOE/Markell/Rodel whirlpool of corporate education reform. You can read more on his role in today’s announcement below.
Just today, the National Education Policy Center issued a damning report on the success of blended and personalized learning schools and pointed out they are less successful than schools who don’t use these services. So if it is all about proficiency and increasing standardized test scores and growth, why are we pushing, as a state, a system that just isn’t working? Could it have anything to do with the billions of dollars companies are making off this smoke and mirrors? And how many of these companies are incorporated out of Wilmington, DE? As per the IMS article I linked to above, they are incorporated out of Delaware.
It is my opinion the Governor’s time could have been better spent heading to Wilmington to do more than issue a statement on the tragic and pointless death of a student at Howard High School today. His visit to W. Reilly Brown was at 11am, well after this hit the media today. As a state tries to understand the absolute horror that went on in that school today, our Governor is off playing corporate lap-dog for his education buddies. I will never understand that man.
Here is the DOE press release on these “grants”:
21 schools win professional learning grants
Delaware awarded 21 schools in seven school districts nearly $400,000 in competitive professional learning grants Thursday as the state moves toward professional learning tailored to individual school needs.
Governor Jack Markell announced the awards today during a visit with Secretary of Education Steve Godowsky to Caesar Rodney School District’s W. Reily Brown Elementary School in Dover. Five schools in the district won a combined $50,000.
“All educators deserve the opportunity to continuously improve their practice through their own initiative and through investments made in them by their schools, districts, and the state,” Markell said. “We must improve the quality and efficacy of professional learning for all educators in Delaware. To do this, we as a state need to support districts and schools in their promise to provide Delaware educators with ongoing, job-embedded professional learning that leads to real improvement for students.”
For the past three years, the Delaware Department of Education has provided state-led professional learning for school-based teams through the Common Ground for the Common Core program. Common Ground identified principals and teacher leaders, engaged them in deep practices around the standards and concepts and analyzed student work to determine how to target instruction in the classroom.
In year one, the focus of Common Ground was on the shifts under the then-new standards. In year two, the focus was on ensuring a balanced assessment system, and in year three, the initiative focused on targeted approaches to closing achievement gaps and deepening literacy in other content areas. Next year, the Reimagining Professional Learning grants will provide professional learning that continues to target the school level.
“A stable foundation has been built, and after three years of Common Ground, we now are incentivizing schools that are committed to continuing this important work while also strengthening the professional learning for their educators,” Godowsky said. “The grant applications of these 21 schools is a clear indication that they are ready to embrace this challenge.”
Godowsky said he is continuously impressed by the commitment of Delaware’s teachers and administrators and what they do every day and by what they plan to do with the Reimagining Professional Learning Grant: “Educators at all of these schools are looking at their data, lesson plans and structures so that they can reimagine the positive impact of professional learning for the benefits of their students.”
Each school designed professional learning to meet its staff’s needs. For example, at Brown, the grant will allow teachers to gather each month to plan and research a lesson. They will agree which team member will teach the lesson, and the lesson study team members will observe the lesson, collect data on teacher actions and student responses. Through using lesson studies, educators will collaborate and focus on the impact of this training on teacher practice and student learning.
The funding will make a difference in other ways across the state from Bunker Hill Elementary’ s focus on inquiry learning in the Appoquinimink School District to Milford School District’s emphasis on teacher leadership through cross-district work with all elementary schools and the early childhood center. In New Castle County Vo-Tech’s St. Georges High School, there will be a school-wide focus on speaking and listening with strong professional learning communities to sustain a cycle of improvement for both teachers and students. In Colonial, school and district leaders evaluated curriculum, structures and teacher and student needs to develop a comprehensive plan with regular coaching and feedback from administrators, teachers and students.
“Educators at these schools not only looked at their data but studied their structures and developed plans to reimagine professional learning that they will tie to student outcomes,” said Michael Watson, the department’s chief academic officer.
Kevin Fitzgerald, superintendent of the Caesar Rodney School District, said he appreciates the state’s commitment to support school-led professional learning.
“This is a perfect partnership between the state, the district and the teachers and school leaders who work closest with our children and know best how to deliver these college- and career-ready standards.”
The winners are:
· Appoquinimink School District (Bunker Hill Elementary): $30,000
· Capital School District (Central Middle, Henry Middle, Dover High): $90,000
· Caesar Rodney School District (Brown Elementary, Frear Elementary, McIllvaine Early Childhood, Simpson Elementary, Stokes Elementary): $50,000
· Colonial School District (Eisenberg Elementary, Gunning Bedford Middle, George Read Middle, McClullough Middle, William Penn High, Wilmington Manor Elementary): $90,000
· Milford School District (Banneker Elementary, Mispillion Elementary, Morris Early Childhood, Ross Elementary): $90,000
· New Castle County Vo-Tech School District (St. Georges High): $30,000
· Smyrna School District (Smyrna High): $20,000