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A few days ago, I published an article about a Project Veritas sting with a New Jersey Education Association local leader. Part of my article was an email sent to local Delaware presidents about how to deal with potential sting operations. That email did not include a public whipping of the NJ local president and I called them out for it.
Today, Project Veritas picked up on my post on their own website. First and foremost, I am not a former teacher as Veritas suggested in the video their leader put up today. At one point, I was a paraprofessional for a few months and I substituted for a couple of years. Yes, I was very disgusted by the Veritas video and the email from DSEA which had another email from NEA as part of it. With that being said, I want to point out a few things about Mike Matthews, the President of DSEA.
Mike is a good guy. He truly wants the best for Delaware students. He went from a shock blogger to teaching to becoming involved in his local union. After he was President of the Red Clay EA he was elected to DSEA President last year. I am friends with Mike. From the moment he told me he was going to run for DSEA President he was very clear that he knew at times I would write about DSEA and himself. I also know Mike would be the very first to say “this guy in NJ acted horrible and he should have been fired”. That’s just who he is.
I don’t tend to give a heads up to folks who are the subjects of my posts. Maybe I should, but I don’t. The reasons for that are two-fold. First, they may tell me NOT to do so. Or worse, they may try to sugarcoat the purpose of the article and attempt to water it down or whitewash it. This blog has always been about getting information out. And yes, that comes with my opinions more often than not. It is up to the reader to agree or disagree with those opinions. Either way, I will keep blogging truth in education even if it is ugly at times. With that being said, if information comes out after an article that may explain things, I will post that as well. There are gray areas in situations and I recognize that. Or I may have information but it isn’t the entire picture. Folks are always welcome to come to me before I post stuff and give me a heads up. Chances are pretty good I have some basic knowledge of a situation already so some proactive work on their end is a good thing.
I do not think the teacher unions are bad. I believe they serve a necessary purpose for teachers. We have all seen in Delaware what can happen when teachers are not unionized. Charter school teachers have zero protection when it comes to terminations. I have suggested many times charter school teachers should unionize. The majority of their membership are just ordinary teachers, doing their jobs.
Where I take issue with the teacher unions are the public persona they give off. And that usually comes from leadership. All day on Friday I was blasted on Facebook threads about how unreliable Project Veritas can be in their investigations. But I do not believe this video of the NJ union leader was doctored. Could Veritas have cut out some stuff? I have no idea. But the guy said what he said, multiple times. Unless Veritas paid him to torpedo his career and face the possibility of investigations from his district, I would say the guy was telling the (horrible) truth.
I made no secret a few years ago about my frustration with DSEA over the opt out bill in Delaware, House Bill 50. I wanted them to support it the same way so many of our Delaware teachers did. They could have had a huge influence with our General Assembly overriding Governor Markell’s veto but they sat on the fence. As well, when Democrat Senator Sokola and Democrat State Rep. Jaques introduced the testing inventory resolution, DSEA backed it publicly to the hilt. Even though I told them it was a smokescreen and it was an anti-opt out measure. In time, I was proven right as the Assessment Inventory Committee was so much smoke and mirrors and absolutely nothing came of it aside from a fancy report with information everyone already knew. When the same Senator Sokola was up for re-election in 2016, DSEA endorsed him through their PAC and I called them out for it. This was the same Senator who killed a teacher evaluation bill with horrible amendments and did an extreme disservice to public education teachers in Delaware. The reason for endorsing him? They didn’t want the Delaware Senate to flip to Republican and have Delaware become a Right To Work state. Even though there was zero danger of that because the Democrat Governor and the Democrat House had no danger of losing their power. Sokola wound up winning that election by a couple of percentage points.
I have publicly saluted DSEA many times. Their support of the diploma bill this year amazed me. I know they have been pushing for funding for basic special education students in Kindergarten to 3rd grade as long as I have. They are always present at Legislative Hall and lobbying for common sense education legislation. I could write a lot about the good DSEA does for our schools, students, and teachers. But that means I also have to write about the bad.
I wish DSEA and the NEA, instead of worrying about infiltrations, recognized the legitimacy of the Veritas investigation and publicly slammed the NJ leader. We can argue all day long about Veritas but the facts are real: this guy would have done anything to protect a teacher. And I don’t believe that is one teacher union leader operating in a silo. Instead of trying to play duck and cover, the teacher unions should be rooting out people like Perry and doing thorough investigations into these practices. When ANY student is subject to abuse of any sort by an adult, it is incumbent upon those who know to expose it. I believe NEA, DSEA, and Mike Matthews know this. But yes, that email did want to make me vomit. I do recognize it was an internal email meant for local Delaware education association leaders and as such, an omission of what the NJ guy did was not the purpose of the email.
Mike was one of the first I met on this blogging journey four years ago. We share many of the same ideologies and thoughts on corporate education reform policy. But he is also the leader of the Delaware State Education Association. Which puts him in a position where, given what I write about, that organization gets on my radar. I still believe Mike Matthews is the best President for DSEA right now. I just want to see more of the spitfire Mike we used to see. When I say spitfire, I don’t mean the anti-Trump stuff but the railing against horrible education policy. That was what elevated him to where he is now. When everything becomes anti-Trump, it becomes complicated. Because many of the horrible education policies our country faces were created by President Obama and Arne Duncan, both Democrats. The party doesn’t matter. It is the corporate machine that keeps those wheels greased. Throwing grenades at Trump does NOTHING to change the very dangerous course public education is on. We need the teacher unions standing up to bad policy. They are silent on the overwhelming amount of digital technology in our classrooms. Student privacy is going the way of the dinosaur and we all know it. Where is DSEA and the NEA on that? The problem is when NEA leadership creates NEA foundations that support the work of Bill Gates and the corporate education reformers in privatizing public education. They are helping to buy the rope that is putting their own organization in a noose.
Someone once told me the teacher unions are about the teachers first. Everything else is secondary. And I get that. But because teachers are a part of education, which is primarily about educating students, the students should be just as important to the teacher unions as the teachers. If that were the case, we would NEVER hear about any situation where a teacher who commits a wrong gets to keep their job. Until they do that, teacher unions are signing their own death warrant. It is not indicative of all teacher unions, but it is a very ugly truth and instead of hiding from it, NEA and AFT need to root out the evils within their associations.
**UPDATED, 1:15pm: I do not have “access” to either DSEA or NEA emails. This email came to me. I have absolutely no ability to get into any DSEA or NEA servers nor would I want to.
This is very big. The United States Department of Education ruled on a Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) complaint in favor of a parent about opting their child out of education technology in the classroom. They went a step further and told the school they had to provide an alternative to the ed-tech as well.
The letter, sent to Agora Cyber Charter School in King of Prussia, PA, came out on November 2nd, 2017 (see below). It ruled the school violated FERPA by denying the parent’s request for their child not to use the ed-tech from K12 Inc. due to their terms of service. K12 could not make sure the information in their application would not go out to third parties. The parent filed a complaint five years ago. The US DOE letter said the charter school could not make this a condition of enrollment for the cyber charter school.
I would caution every single school in America that utilizes ed-tech in the classroom to make sure they are in compliance with this ruling!
Today, the Rodel Teacher Council gave a presentation to the Delaware State Board of Education with policy recommendations for their Personalized Learning Blueprint. I’ve written about them before and actually received a bit of heat from a few of their membership. These aren’t bad people or bad teachers. I truly believe they have been brainwashed into the corporate education reform movement. Some may not even realize it. But what they came out with today for their State Board presentation literally frightens me and makes me wonder more than ever where public education is heading. I have to wonder if the State Board of Education would ever allow those who are against this kind of thing to give a presention to them.
This presentation has all the education reform buzz words in it: Personalized Learning, Blended Learning, Competency-Based Education, Micro Credentials, Seat-Time, Social and Emotional Learning, Waivers, Assessment, and Standards. To break it down, under these models the eventual goal is what is known as “stealth assessments”, the state assessment broken down in chunks at the end of each unit. The student can’t move on until they “master” the material provided to them from their digital technology. Predicting the future here, I imagine Delaware will eventually incorporate some kind of “digital badge” the student would get once they “master” the material (Colorado is at the forefront of this ridiculousness). Meanwhile, all the data from this ed tech is going to vendors galore. Personal and private data, every single keystroke.
So why are Delaware educators jumping on this bandwagon when it will eventually lead to the demise of the public school teacher? Your guess is as good as mine. Special standing, power, incentive for future mobility in their profession? Perhaps they are blind to how their actions today will lead to the end of their professional world as we know it. The fact that ANY Delaware school district teacher would get behind something with the Rodel name in it makes me suspect. Very suspect. The fact this council is going before the State Board of Education after they went to some legislators earlier this month makes me very worried. Worried that legislation is coming that will allow this Rodel Vision of Educational Paradise.
Make no mistake. This has been in the planning stages for years. And it will get a huge push in states once Blockchain Technology really gets going. And Delaware will be at the forefront of that initiative. People read stuff like this from me and some say I am wearing a tin hat or engaging in conspiracy theory. Let them. They said the same thing when I said Delaware’s Assessment Inventory Committee was just a big distraction from opt out and would produce nothing worthwhile. I said that before the legislation even passed which created that committee.
What is Governor Carney’s role in all this? I don’t think he has an original thought on any of this. I think his staff tells him what to do. Many of those staff members are fully aligned with this Rodelian future and have been for quite a while.
To read what the Rodel Teacher Council (aka Rodel) wants policy-makers in Delaware to subscribe to, please read the document below.
Capital School District sure has changed in just two years. Back in 2014, their board was railing against the Smarter Balanced Assessment and fully supporting a parent’s right to opt their child out of the test. Flash forward to now, and their board will be discussing something called a “Balanced Scorecard.”
This balanced scorecard is five-year goals for the district. Some of the goals are good: getting behavior referrals down, more parent involvement, things like that. But then I wanted to vomit when I saw goals for Smarter Balanced proficiency. Keep in mind this is just a draft. The board hasn’t decided on this. I’m at their board meeting now. I thought their meetings started at 7:30 but I haven’t been here for a while so it looks like they changed it to 7:00. Otherwise I would have assuredly giving public comment based on what I’m writing in this. The Smarter Balanced Assessment is the worst test Delaware students have ever taken. Why in the name of public education is this district wanting to kiss the DOE’s ass and follow their own despicable goals based on standardized test scores?
What truly shocked me was a goal of “increasing students exiting out of special education”. Currently they are using a baseline of 31% but they want to increase this to 41% in five years. I’m sorry, how do you put a measurement on unique disabilities that affect an individual student? While it is certainly true that students can fall out of needing special education for varying reasons, that seems like a very high number. As well, decisions on special education are decided on by an IEP team, not based on a district-driven strategic plan. This is highly disturbing on many levels. The last thing special education students is a district trying to hit some arbitrary goal and pushing schools to have students get out of IEPs.
The board is discussing this now. Board member Matt Lindell asked why the district can’t use this as their accountability scorecard. Superintendent Dr. Dan Shelton explained how the Delaware DOE has no intention of removing their own Delaware School Success Framework. That was the only question. Three members of this board sat in front of a very similar audience two years ago and proudly passed their opt out resolution. Now they seem like they have accepted the horrible status quo that is killing public education. The board is voting on the scorecard, passed 5-0. What the hell is wrong with this board? They are prescribing to the point of view of the Delaware DOE. They have fully accepted Common Core and Smarter Balanced as legitimate for their district.
In talking about technology in their ongoing Strategic Plan, there is a lot of talk about collaborating with BRINC and increasing ed tech in the classroom. More personalized learning. They have no clue, as they talk about building configuration, how they are signing their own district death warrant by signing on to all of this junk. The board is not asking questions about anything they should be asking. This isn’t the first time I’ve pointed this out with this board. Stop drinking the Kool-Aid Capital! You should be better than this! And I distinctly remember when Matt Lindell was President of the Board when they approved a letter to the General Assembly urging them to override Governor Markell’s veto of House Bill 50, the opt out bill. They never overrode the veto, so why has this district not come forth with an opt out policy like Red Clay and Christina did?
…the transition to openly licensed educational resources has enabled school districts to reallocate funds typically spent on traditional instructional materials back into teachers curating and creating, as well as supporting a full digital transition.
The beginning of the end. Today, the Delaware Dept. of Education announced Red Clay Consolidated and Colonial School District have joined 27 other states for the “Go Open” initiative. the full-scale ed-tech invasion of public education will begin in two New Castle County school districts. No doubt they announced this the same day as the unveiling of the first draft of the state Every Student Succeeds Act plan. Trick or treat indeed…
Delaware launches open resource initiative
The Delaware Department of Education today announced the launch of a new statewide #GoOpen initiative, joining a cohort of states recognized by the U.S. Department of Education for their commitment to support school districts and educators transitioning to the use of high-quality, openly licensed educational resources in their schools.
“States are powerful collaborators in supporting and scaling innovation. They can connect forward-thinking educators, share effective ideas and approaches widely, amplify successes, and can support districts in leveraging limited resources,” says Joseph South, director of the Office of Educational Technology at the U.S. Department of Education. “With the launch of statewide #GoOpen initiatives, states are helping districts thoughtfully transition to a new model of learning by facilitating the creation of an open ecosystem of digital resources that can increase equity and empower teachers.”
Delaware was recognized for its commitment to implement a statewide technology strategy that includes the use of openly licensed resources as a central component, developing and maintaining a statewide repository solution for openly licensed resources, and participating in a community of practice with other #GoOpen states and districts to share learning and professional development resources. More information on Delaware’s #GoOpen commitment can be found here.
“Openly licensed educational resources will help increase equitable access to high-quality educational opportunities across our state and the country,” Secretary of Education Steve Godowsky said. “We are proud to be part of this work.”
Since the launch of #GoOpen, school districts from more than 27 states have worked with #GoOpen Ambassador districts and innovators from educational technology companies and nonprofit organizations who have committed to create new tools and provide professional learning opportunities to help districts in their transition to using high quality, openly licensed educational resources in their schools.
In Delaware, the Colonial and Red Clay Consolidated school districts have joined.
“It helps empower our teachers to make instructional decisions focused on standards and student needs using current and dynamic resources,” Colonial Director of Schools Pete Leida said. “As #GoOpen continues to grow, educators will have access to increased amounts of resources rather than be confined to static resources presented by a single publisher. It fosters collaboration, sharing, a sense of ownership and allows for personalization of instruction.”
Kristina Peters, K-12 Open Education Fellow at the U.S. Department of Education, said the transition to openly licensed educational resources has enabled school districts to reallocate funds typically spent on traditional instructional materials back into teachers curating and creating, as well as supporting a full digital transition.
“We are excited that Delaware is committed to supporting its districts in using openly licensed educational resources,” she said.
For more details on #GoOpen commitments made by states, school districts, and technology companies, visit http://tech.ed.gov/open.
Last night at the Delaware Every Student Succeeds Act Governor’s Advisory Committee meeting, audience members were given a chance to give public comment. I gave the following public comment, with the exception of a couple of sentences because that was covered during the meeting. I will put an asterisk between those sentences.
Good evening members of the ESSA Advisory Committee. My name is Kevin Ohlandt. Congratulations on your selection for this very important group. This is a mammoth undertaking, this new federal law. I will be completely frank: I do not trust this law. I do not trust our Delaware Dept. of Education. I believe ESSA is an unholy matrimony between education and corporations. You can consider me the friend of the bride, education, warning about the potential husband who will not be good for her. I have seen and heard far too much to suggest otherwise. I believe this matrimony will eventually result in a messy divorce. The custody battle for the students will be huge, and I fear the groom, the companies, will eventually win custody of the kids.
I urge this committee to give an immediate recommendation of postponing Delaware’s submission of their state plan to the US DOE. There are far too many moving parts. *States were given two dates to submit their final plan: March 31st or July 31st. Our Dept. of Education chose March 31st without any true consultation with the citizens of our state.* We were not given a choice as a state or allowed to be part of that decision-making process. Certain parties were given a much greater weight in consultation with the DOE before any public gathering took place.
As a member of the Student and School Supports discussion group, I see far too many members of that group who would financially benefit from the Every Student Succeeds Act. When that happens, I don’t see them as a stakeholder, but a benefactor. That is not what the term stakeholder means. I believe some good can come out of this law. I have seen many great ideas come forth in the meetings. But until we can weed out what is good or bad for students, we need to “slow our roll”. There are far too many conflicts of interest involved with this plan.
With that being said, the issues facing education in Delaware are at a crisis point. Whether it is mold in schools that is making people sick, or drugs and gangs reaching into elementary schools, or a teenager murdered in a bathroom stall, or the very fast implementation of educational technology in our classrooms with no research on the long-term psychological effects on children, or student’s personal data being given to parties that truly do not need that information, or lawsuits concerning school funding or segregation of minority students, or FOIA complaints against the DOE for continually failing to make certain public body meetings transparent and available to the public, we need to slow down.
Education should always be about the kids. Some in this world have already determined what their future should be and I find that to be an immoral and grave injustice.
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…
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!
I started this series last May but the summer got away from me. I am putting up the prologue and Part 1 up again but with a new title. Delaware Illuminati is just weird. But I do want to get out there, especially with recent developments from the past week. And Part 2 is coming in the next couple of days!
There have always been those who meet behind the scenes to shape the future. It is how governments were created. Over time, it became harder for these groups to plot and scheme, but they did so just the same. It happens everywhere. It could be for something good or something bad. Some may feel what they are doing is right and just while others don’t care as long as they are still in power. But when children become part of those plans, someone has to watch what they are doing. That is what I’ve done for two years now. Watching, looking, hearing, waiting, and writing.
This series will look at the dark side of Delaware education. Where the power players do their thing. They manipulate, they use and they throw away. You will see some of the names you expect in this series. You will also see names who you could never believe would be a part of this. But they did, and they still are. You will see how ideas blossom from what seems like the best intention but their dark roots exist elsewhere. You will see what I term as the Delaware Illuminati in the light, for all to see. They will sacrifice children and their futures at any cost. They have no fear and are willing to do what it takes to get the job done. They are the masters of manipulation and fraud. Some of you will say this is absolutely ridiculous and that these people may have faults but they certainly aren’t evil. For that, we have to definite what is evil. If you know it is wrong and you do it anyway, is that not evil?
This series will have mystery, horror, and true crime. It will also have a lot of magic. Magic is nothing but illusion, a carefully laid out trap of smoke and mirrors. You will learn how those in power seek to illuminate the people into a certain way of thinking. They paint the picture so you can only see it a certain way and the population falls for it. This is what we have wrought in Delaware and future generations will pay the price.
For years, I’ve been telling Delaware parents they should choose to opt out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment. I was wrong. Here is why…
We are entering a new era in education. The promised era of digital personalized learning is here. It is on the cusp of coming into every single public school in the country. New national broadband laws are coming out of the woodwork to allow this. We won’t need to opt out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment. It will be gone soon. They listened to us. They heard us. They will get rid of this test. We gave them exactly what they wanted. It was a trap. Continue reading Opt Out As We Know It Is Dead… Long Live The Badge