The Judases On The Rodel Teacher Council & How They Changed Public Education Forever In Delaware **UPDATED**

Establish a “critical mass” of support for CBL in DE and leverage supportive voices to raise awareness about CBL

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A group of Delaware teachers, in conjunction with a few Superintendents, principals, a high-ranking member of the Delaware PTA, the executive director of the State Board of Education and members of the Delaware Department of Education found a way to sneak in a future-changing regulation eight months ago with a group no one knew about and never had any notices of public meetings.  But all is not as it appears.  In doing so, they opened the gates to one of the most dangerous corporate education reformers out there.

Have you ever heard of the Delaware Department of Education Competency-Based Learning Guiding Coalition?  Me neither.  Until last night.  In doing a massive amount of research on the Leader In Me program in many of our Delaware schools (and there will be MUCH more on that coming), I found a very odd write-up on the Rodel Foundation of Delaware website.

In investigating a school in the Capital School District that is heavily promoting the snake-oil Leader In Me program, I came across the Rodel Teacher Council section of their website on a Google search.  And there it was, under Michele Johnson of Towne Point Elementary School in Capital School District.  I knew she was involved in the Leader In Me program, but what I didn’t know and had never heard of was the Delaware Department of Education’s Competency-Based Learning Guiding Coalition.  I’ve looked at every single section of the DOE website and never found anything about it.  So I went back to Google.  I found a link to a pdf from a State Board of Education work session on July 16th, 2015.

To give some more background, this was an important day in Delaware education.  It was the same day Delaware Governor Jack Markell vetoed House Bill 50.  The State Board holds their work sessions during the morning before their board meetings.  The State Board did have it on their agenda for this work session but try looking for anything else on this group and you will be hopelessly lost.  With most groups at the Delaware DOE, there is something listed somewhere.  But not with this one.  There was no notice of public meetings and no transparency whatsoever.    Why would there be?  This was a Rodel group from their hand-picked teacher council.  If you never believed Rodel was running education in Delaware, you will after reading the below document.  Every single thing I’ve been writing about on this blog for the past nine months: about competency-based education, personalized learning, pathways to prosperity, the “Dear Hillary” letter, it is all in this 10 page pdf in some form.

So this group recommended finding a way past these barriers to competency-based education in Delaware.  The pictures of the post-it notes show words like “urgency” and “barriers”.  They mention collective bargaining as a “system barrier”.  This Rodel Teacher Council sold their souls to Rodel when they joined this cabal.  In the above document there is an entity called Reinventing Schools.  I’ve heard of this company but this is the first time I ever saw them mentioned in Delaware.  But obviously Rodel has been working with them behind the scenes for many years.  To find out why, I highly suggest reading this article on the funded by the Gates Foundation organization led by Dr. Marzano.

I put a picture at the beginning of this article with the members of this Rodel created group.  While I’m not surprised by most of the names, one of them stood out: Yvonne Johnson.  As the face behind the Delaware PTA for many years, Johnson has been involved in many groups in one form or another.  I originally wrote, and have now changed in this article, is how Johnson was involved with this group.  I just spoke to Yvonne Johnson who was very upset about her supposed involvement with the Competency-Based Learning Guiding Coalition.  As Johnson told me, she was invited to a webinar on this and there was a meeting at Howard High School of Technology about it.  She said she does not support competency-based education and the other Delaware PTA member, Ashley Gray, told this group this was not for the Delaware PTA.  Obviously the Rodel machine presented this information to the State Board of Education, close to a year later, suggesting the full involvement of Delaware PTA.  But that is not the case.  It is just another example of our State Board of Education being duped by Rodel into passing regulations they really don’t have a clue about.

The biggest barrier to implementing competency-based education in Delaware was the graduation requirements.  They had to change existing state code to do that.  Lo and behold, they did exactly that.  But not without some old fashioned trickery.  At the August 20th State Board meeting, Regulation 505 was put up for discussion by the State Board.

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In listening to the State Board audio recording for this meeting, notice how it is introduced as having nothing to do with competency-based education.  For a long time, they talk around it.  It isn’t until the President of the State Board, Dr. Teri Quinn Gray, seeks clarification on this regulation that anyone in that room would know what they were talking about.  As well, Tina Shockley with the DOE sped through describing the regulation very fast.  But when the conversation gets going, Michael Watson from the DOE responds to a question from Gray about struggling students.  He responds by saying  some students can reach mastery in 180 days but for other students it may take longer and that’s okay.  So is he suggesting some students will have to go to school longer?

At the September State Board meeting, when everyone was going nuts about opt out penalties in the Delaware School Success Framework/Regulation 103 fiasco, the State Board passed this regulation.  But I find it hysterical how all the language surrounding the DSCFY wasn’t even needed to begin with which I’m sure the DOE was well aware of.  In my opinion, they put it in the regulation to put the focus around that knowing it would be removed to get what they want.

So what does all this mean?

Here is the easiest way to break it down.  This isn’t a Delaware thing.  It is happening all over the country.  To put it in a nutshell, corporations took over public education.  This is a plan that has been in place for decades.  First they had to make it look like public schools were failing students.  This began in 1983 when the report called A Nation At Risk was released by the federal government.  This damning report on public education changed the perception of schools in America.  It also began the thirty-three year coordinated attack against teacher unions.  Ten years later, the country’s first charter schools came into being.  At the same time, Bill Clinton became the U.S. President.  His wife Hillary received a letter from Marc Tucker, who went on to be one of the chief architects of Achieve Inc. and the Common Core.

By the late 1990s, standardized testing with high-stakes was the law of the land in Delaware.  When Delaware launched the DSTP test, students did horrible on it.  Many students dropped out of school as testing mania took over the state.  Graduation rates dropped due to the requirement of proficiency on the horrible test.  In 2002, No Child Left Behind demanded all students in America become proficient on these high-stakes tests by 2014.  It was completely absurd and everyone knew it, but it was a stall tactic.  As Common Core came out in President Obama’s second year, Delaware switched to another test called DCAS.  While not as bad as DSTP, it was offered two to three times a year.  Race To The Top was in full swing along with all the ESEA Flexibility Waivers.  Charter schools were rising in popularity for the past decade and the teacher unions were under attack.  To get all of this going, the teacher unions had to be destroyed.  But they couldn’t bust the unions, just give them a slow and painful death.

Many teacher unions across the country caved in to the new corporate education reform suggestions.  They could have fought it, but it would have given an already rising bad perception of them an even worse one.  So with the help of school boards, the unions signed on to Race To The Top.  Even the state PTAs got sucked into the Common Core/Race To The Top vortex.  Common Core was the boss, teachers were the servants, and students were the true victims.  Then came the even newer high-stakes assessments tied to the Common Core.  Meanwhile, new education think tanks and non-profits emerged from nowhere to give more and more bad news about education and how to fix it.  In Delaware,  we call them the Rodel Foundation and the Vision Coalition.  They have been around for a long time, but they are one and the same and they are as venomous to public education as any of these other education fixit organizations.

So here we are now, in 2016.  Governor Markell finishes up next January and in comes John Carney.  Like the rushed implementation of Common Core, in the next few years we will see the “urgency” to incorporate full-time competency-based learning in our schools.  Our students will be on the computer all the time in this era of “personalized learning” while our teachers become glorified guides and facilitators.  As veteran teachers leave the profession in droves, we will see more duds like Teach For America and Relay Graduate School coming into our schools.  They won’t be union, and they will take over.  With their corporate driven brainwashing, we will see more “teacher-leaders” come into play via programs like “Leader In Me”.  But education is, and always has been, about the students.  What happens to them?  This is the kicker.

All of this, everything since the day A Nation At Risk was introduced 33 years ago, has been with this plan in mind.  It is all an elaborate tracking measure meant to keep down minority students, students with disabilities, and low-income students.  They will not do well in this.  We see this with the Smarter Balanced Assessment and the PARCC tests.  The resources and funding are there.  They have always been there.  But our states and government didn’t want to fix education.  They had to tear it down first and build it up again to one of their own design.  They don’t want anyone questioning their authority.  They want their worker bees to fall in line with their career pathways and shut up.  They had to beat down the teachers and numb the minds of children.  They do not care and have no remorse if anyone gets in their way.  Even the charter schools they so methodically built up were fodder for sacrifice if need be.  We saw this in Delaware as many charters closed and more sprung from the ashes.

What the corporate education reformers do is use the art of distraction to an astonishing degree.  They know those who oppose them can’t fight everything all at once so they get us to focus on certain things.  Take opt out for example.  While they know opt out kills everything they are planning, they also know it is the key to their future.  The once a year test will go away.  It will be broken down into little tiny chunks, embedded into the end-of-unit personalized learning chapter.  But a student must score proficient to be able to move on.  They must “master” the material.  But who writes the material?  Who grades the mini-assessments?  How long will a student be “held back” until they get it?  What happens when a student just gives up because they are so mentally frustrated?  How does IDEA and existing law fit in with any of this?  Does anyone care about these kind of things anymore?

Governor Markell and Dr. Paul Herdman, along with their key player at the Townsend Building in Dover, Donna Johnson, have been the masterminds behind all of this in Delaware.  Does anyone think it is a coincidence there have been very few task forces, working groups and committees with an actual State Board of Education member on it?  It is always Executive Director Donna Johnson.  Calling the shots.  Bossing people around as if she is the ultimate authority in education.  Manipulating the playing field to the agendas she controls.  She did it with WEIC, the priority schools, the Delaware School Success Framework, Common Core, opt out, and all the other destructive policies and regulations under her control.  We don’t have a State Board of Education.  We have Jack and Donna’s puppets.  Behind them is the face of Rodel: Dr. Paul Herdman.  The single-most, number one with a bullet, vessel of discrimination and evil I have ever met in my life.  The man behind the Delaware curtain.  The man who helped Jack into the Governor role.  The man who took over the Delaware Department of Education.  The man who directs it all in Delaware.  Who answers to his masters in bigger organizations like the Aspen Institute, Achieve Inc., the Lumina Foundation, and Reinventing Schools.  Behind them are the true power players in the guise of the US Department of Education, the US Department of Labor, Mark Zuckerberg, and the Gates Foundation.  And then there are the investors and hedge fund managers and corporations making billions of dollars off all of this.  For those living in other states who may not be familiar with many of these names, I’m sure if you look hard enough, you have your own puppet masters pulling the strings.

At this point, I don’t know if those who oppose this could stop any of this.  It is so embedded into policy and law.  All the states were required to have some type of career workforce plan based on the below federal document.  The future is now.  It is here.  This Leader In Me garbage that is sweeping our schools is the biggest example of this.  It goes beyond the classroom and invades the home.  It has children making the parents compliant to this nonsense.  Their “data walls” are one of the most disgusting and abhorrent acts of labeling, shaming, and discrimination I have ever seen in my life.  But far too many of our Delaware teachers think it is okay.  This is what happens when you are brainwashed to points beyond common sense.  When you are fed the same false garbage time and time again.  You begin to believe it.  You become the enemy before you even realize it.  When you once questioned all of this and you become a slave to the compliance machine.  I am not saying these teachers are bad or even evil.  They are misguided.  They have been fooled and once the Rodelian mindset becomes a part of your thinking, they have their hooks in you.  They mold and shape you into another one of their puppets or put your name out there to make it look like they have diverse “stakeholder input”.  It seems like people with the last name of Johnson are their favorites.  Charter schools, by their very nature, are ripe for takeover or creation by the Rodelian puppet masters.  And don’t think it ends with Jack Markell.

But too many of us were blinded by opt out, teacher evaluations, and charter schools to even notice.  All we hear about anymore on social media is Trump and Hillary.  It doesn’t matter who wins because all the pieces were put into play years ago.  They snuck it all in when those who should have seen it were distracted.  As our pre-schools and schools become community centers and human teaching becomes a thing of the past, what happens to the children of tomorrow?  Will we even need the school building in the future?  What happens when they become indoctrinated into the cults of compliance?  When they lose their spark?  As the more affluent families stay in power while the vast majority of the population perform all the low-paying jobs?  Who will rise from the ashes like a phoenix to turn it all around again twenty years from now?  Or fifty?  Many have predicted the machines would take over.  But what they failed to realize was the machines were children.  I saw this coming.  I knew it.  But I was looking in the wrong place.  And for that I apologize.  At some point, like everything in history, there will be a revolution.  Only we can decide when that is.

 

Impeaching Governor Markell This Late In The Game Is Still A Great Idea

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Impeachment.  The word carries a great deal of weight.  It is not an easy thing.  But in Delaware, with a tyrant like Governor Jack Markell, it is necessary.  Yes, he is a lame duck with only a year left.  But what he has done to Delaware while he wears the crown has been abusive, egregious and unacceptable.  It is not too late to impeach him.  It is not too late to send a message that the very same people who give you power can just as easily take it away.  This needs to happen so we can rebuild Delaware from the ground up.  We really have no choice.  The children are the future of this state.  If we lose them now, we lose our future.

Our economy is in dire straights.  We are now on the cusp of losing a company that has operated in Delaware for over 200 years.  Governor Markell has no clue how to fix it.  Instead, he is sending the smartest kids to China for a couple of weeks each summer to that country’s biggest auto plant.  We are going to lose DuPont, or at the very least the company’s identity as THE Delaware company.  We have lost more than we gained during Markell’s two terms as Governor.  He came in like a lion during the greatest recession this country experienced since the Great Depression.

Since day one, it has all been about “education reform” with Jack.  We have seen how Jack Markell and the Rodel Foundation have tried to “fix” education in Delaware.  He meticulously set up his House of Cards with his hand-picked State Board of Education and Secretaries of Education in Delaware.  He has strong allies in the Delaware General Assembly who seem to exist to do his bidding and not those of their constituents.  He is a master of distraction and manipulation.  He has the uncanny ability of turning crap into gold.  But for all the lies and propaganda coming from Jack Markell, how are things really different then they were seven years ago?  I would argue they are far worse.  But I would hazard to guess those who profit from education, the “privateers”, the investors, the hedge funders… they have done remarkably well based on Markell’s actions.

It hasn’t worked, and that’s all you need to know.  So how does the Delaware Governor get into a place where the legislators would want to impeach him?  Doesn’t there have to be some evidence of wrongdoing on his part?  Absolutely!  Which is why I am calling for someone in power to demand a FULL investigation into the personal finances of Governor Markell, as well as an investigation into how his allies and friends have financially benefitted from every single education decision he has made in Delaware.  Going back to his time as Treasurer of Delaware.  I believe he has played most of his cards and set up most of what he wants on his road to power, so going back even fifteen years based on what is happening now is prudent.

This needs to happen.  Because if you think Governor Jack Markell is bad, wait until he attempts to get a Cabinet position for the next United States President.  Our children cannot afford any more power for a man who has already abused the power he has.  We have allowed this up until now.  But we also have the ability to change this.  Not tomorrow.  Now.

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.

Rodel’s Paul Herdman Made Over $343,000…And Our Children Lose More Education Everyday

This article will disgust you.  It disgusted me when I read their latest tax form, filed in July of this year.  The Rodel Foundation and all their education propaganda.  I have a new take on this.  We need to boycott anything associated with Rodel.  That means the Vision Coalition, the Delaware Business Roundtable, and yes, I’m going to go there.  The Wilmington Education Improvement Commission.  Why?  Because after the Budingers, who owned Rodel Inc. back in the day, Tony Allen is listed on the board of Rodel.  Dan Rich, the University of Delaware employee who is involved in all things WEIC, also sits very comfortably on the board of the Vision Coalition.

$343,000 a year.  For one man.  That is twice what Mark Murphy made as Secretary of Education.  It’s $126,000 more than the highest paid State of Delaware employee in education (who just so happens to be enjoying his obsession with the Vision Coalition these days).  How many starting teachers could we get with that?  Ten?  How about we take his salary and give every student in Delaware an extra $100 in funding.  I know, they are a “non-profit” company.  Of course they are.  How could they ever make a profit with just over $900,000 going to four people’s salary?

So who benefited from Rodel’s “expertise” in education on this tax form?

Parthenon Group: $700,000 (listed as consultants Rodel pays to do consulting work)

Aspen Institute: $175,000

Delaware Business Roundtable Education Committee $53,600

Delaware Charter Schools Network $30,000

Delaware Public Policy Institute $50,000

First State Military Academy $75,000

Great Oaks Foundation $75,000

Hope Street Group $10,000

Innovative Network For Communities $7,500

Innovative Schools Development Corporation $741,688

Latin American Community Center $15,000

Leadership Delaware Inc. $10,000

Music Associates of Aspen Inc. $30,000

National Public Education Support Fund $10,000

New Castle County Vo-Tech School District $13,451

Sustainable Settings $7,500

Teach For America Inc. $100,300

Teach Plus Inc. $7,500

The Delaware Met $75,000

The Partnership Inc. $7,500

Third Way Foundation $10,000

Vision Network $95,000

The ones in bold are the ones that really stand out for me.  That is an awful lot of money going to Innovative Schools.  But what puzzles me the most is the New Castle County Vo-Tech School District.  Looking back at their prior year tax forms, they have frequently given money to that district or schools within the district.

In terms of hedge fund activity, this tax form does NOT have the Rodel-Pebbles AA Multi-Strategy Hedge Fund, which I wrote in great detail about last year.  In that article, for their Tax Form 990, the amount in the fund was $158,071.  For the other two hedge funds they invest in, Hirtle Multi-Strategy Hedge Funds and Hirtle- Private Equity Funds, those amounts were $2,590,421 and $1,725,911.  A year later, those amounts are $2,710,070 and $1,636,033.  So if they cashed out the Rodel-Pebbles Hedge Fund, it looks like they invested $30,000 more in hedge funds for this tax year.  Like last year, their hedge fund activity is in “off-shore accounts” in the Caribbean or Central America.  For this tax year they invested over $6.9 million in these off-shore accounts, an increase of $2.9 million more than in their tax form filed last year.  Their net assets by the end of the year were $27,700,235 which was an almost $1 million dollar loss compared to the previous year, in which their assets went down $1.45 million compared to the year before.  Yet Dr. Herdman’s salary keeps going up each year because they do a “survey” to see how other similar non-profits pay their CEOs.  This is corporate education reform.  Where traditional public schools lose money each year while the 1% get infinitely richer.  And our state allows this by continuing this charade.

Now when Dr. Paul Herdman first started with The Rodel Foundation of Delaware back at the end of 2004, he was making a little over $168,000 a year with benefits and travel expenses.  Now that has mushroomed to $343,000.  A $175,000 increase.  And this is for their 2013 tax year!  I’m sure it is even more now.

Delaware, this is Rodel.  A company that is a non-profit that invests in off-shore hedge funds and their CEO receives more income than anyone in education in Delaware.  Remember, they sell a product, like any company does.  The product is designed to make them rich.  It’s a business.  They could care less how your individual child is doing.  They care about their bottom line.  So every time you go to the latest annual Vision party, every time you let them take your personal information so you can go to one of their events, or you attend an Imagine Delaware Forum on education that they sponsor, remember it is a big advertisement.  Rodel owns Delaware.  They own the Governor, they own the DOE, they own the Delaware Charter School Network, Innovative Schools, and it looks like the two main people on the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission.

If Rodel really cared about education in Delaware, they would be donating money to the school districts that need funds the most, to help out with classroom sizes.  This is a company that has $27 million in assets.  And it sits there, every year, going through investments and hedge funds and even though it slowly loses a little bit each year, it’s not enough.  I don’t see Rodel donating funds to Red Clay or Christina.  I see a hell of a lot of charter schools, and companies that support them.  And that one school district where a certain Interim Secretary of Education comes from.  Where a soon to be ex-US Secretary of Education visited one of the “most improved” high schools in the state twice which just happens to be in the same district.

When Rodel offers these “grants” to charters, think tanks, and charter friendly organizations, it isn’t out of the kindness of their heart.  It is an investment.  It is saying, if the amount is high enough, we now own you.  Do as we say.  Don’t rock the boat.  Oppose all legislation we don’t like.  We know Rodel and the Delaware Charter Schools Network are two of the biggest lobbyists in Delaware.  It’s not for the kids.  It’s for money.  So Paul Herdman can get an increase in his salary every year.  Don’t get me wrong, he works hard.  Destroying public education doesn’t happen overnight.  It happens over a long period of time, and he has been very proficient at it for over ten years now.

Boycott Rodel.  These are the things I would like to see happen.  DSEA and Delaware PTA get the hell out of anything Rodel/Vision Coalition related.  Tony Allen resigns from the Rodel board.  Dan Rich resigns from Vision.  The Delaware Department of Education immediately ends any contracts with Rodel that are not listed for public viewing.  They end any business relationship with Rodel.  For citizens of Delaware, please do not support this organization.  They have been selling a line of crap for over ten years and it needs to stop.  The only way to do that is to stop listening.  Do not legitimize their money-making agendas.  If they put an ad in the paper or a letter to the editor, write a complaint to the News Journal.  If you are worried about the Delaware Business Roundtable and how that could effect Delaware, don’t worry, Rodel does the books for their Education Committee.

If the leaders of organizations who work with Rodel and the Vision Coalition don’t want to leave, that’s okay.  Elections can change that with certain organizations.  And do not buy for one second that “Personalized Learning” is the wave of the future.  That’s what Rodel wants you to think.  Back in 2006, they predicted state standards and tests designed around those.  They envisioned a future, with the able assistance of then Treasurer of Delaware Jack Markell, where all children would be able to compete with their brethren in China and Japan and India and Singapore.  Millions upon millions of dollars filling the pockets of folks like Dr. Paul Herdman and Fred Sears III.  For what?  Have we learned nothing?

This article is going to tick off a lot of people.  Good.  It wasn’t meant to put a smile on anyone’s face.  It was meant to piss off those who would sacrifice our children’s future so companies like Rodel can live high off the hog.  You know exactly who you are, and the charade has to end.  Either you support public education or you don’t.  There is no middle ground.  Not anymore.

For the average citizen, remember this.  You hold immense power in your hands and voice.  Your hands can write a Refuse The Test letter.  Your voice can tell other parents to do the same.  Paul Herdman was scared out of his mind with the opt-out movement.  He had no idea how much power he does not have over people.  This is why he spoke at the Senate Education Committee meeting against House Bill 50, the parent opt-out legislation.  He knows that if parents don’t let their kids take the Smarter Balanced Assessment, his empire falls apart.  Very fast.  Let’s do it.  Let’s say screw the CEO and take back education.  Because if you think for one second it is your child’s education, you are dead wrong.  This is Rodel’s education, sold to them with your taxpayer money and the more than willing voice of your Governor.

Rodel Starts The Blame-Game Against Teachers While Praising Smarter Balanced Results

Yes, I do regularly read the Rodel blog on their website, but I never commented on one until I saw their post from Friday called 5 Data Takeaways From Smarter Balanced Test Scores, written by Rodel employee Liz Hoyt.  I’m always curious what the “opposition” writes about things like this.  I have been very vocal in my thoughts on the Rodel Foundation of Delaware.  They are a non-profit whose CEO happens to make over a quarter of a million dollars a year.  I do not believe they have students best interests at heart.  This article drove that point home for me with very clear and concise words.  I will go through the areas that bothered me the most.

“Aligned to the Common Core state standards, the new state assessment was designed to ensure students have the skills and knowledge they need in jobs and college.”

I think this has always been my biggest problem with the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  Please tell me how a 3rd grader taking this test is going to be in any way prepared for college based on how they answer questions on a test?  Even if they put them at a 5th grade level, there is no test in the world that can prepare any student at a young age for a career or post-secondary education.  The education reformers need to pick a side and stick with it: is the test meant to create data to see where students compare with each other or is it to prep them for a world they can’t even fathom until they are 15 or 16?  They can’t have it both ways.  Furthermore,.wasn’t the whole point of Common Core that a student in Alaska would get the same information and be assessed on the same information as a student in Louisiana?  Instead, we have 18 states taking Smarter Balanced, 11 or so taking the PARCC, and the rest developing their own state assessments.  It isn’t very common when states aren’t taking the “common” test.  Funny how life works out…

“While this year’s scores are lower than last year’s DCAS results, Delaware students outperformed estimates (based on the 2014 national field test) in both subjects for every grade with the exception of 11th grade math.”

Why does the DOE and Governor Markell keep trying to pump up the fact that students did better than expected?  Isn’t that the whole point of a field test, to find out what the kinks are and what problems might come up and strive to fix those issues?  How many rockets did Russia blow up before Sputnik launched? If students did worse than the field test, it would prove unequivocally that this was a bad test.  But since students did better than the field test, we are acting like this is the best test Delaware ever created (which Governor Markell did say at a speech for New America earlier in the Summer).  And this is my major issue with this statement.  We have nothing to measure this test by, and even the Feds wouldn’t allow states to compare any test scores to field tests for this very reason with their accountability frameworks.  It’s not often I agree with the US DOE, but anyone can see the fallacy in comparing a field test to the actual test.

Scores dropped as Delaware set a new baseline for student proficiency.”

Once again, how can scores drop when you are comparing apples to oranges?  This test didn’t set a baseline for student proficiency, it set a baseline for Smarter Balanced proficiency based on whatever arbitrary number the Delaware Department of Education set it at.  So what happens if by chance some miracle happens, and every student scores proficient on the test next year.  Would the DOE allow that?  They had a meltdown when the vast majority of teachers were rated as “effective”.  What happens to the baseline then?  I firmly believe they would change it because if everyone is proficient, the test is useless and has outlived it’s purpose.  On the flip side, if everyone scores at a non-proficient level, we can’t have that either, because that shows 1) the test is bad and 2) we need to make all our schools a priority and fire all the teachers.  So the baseline will ALWAYS be set somewhere so that anywhere from 30-70% of  students are proficient.  But that really doesn’t tell us what students need.  It tells us the DOE will do whatever they have to for certain results.

“Despite concerns about the opt-out movement’s potential impact on assessment, student participation remained strong.”

Concerns? How many times does Dr. Paul Herdman speak in public at Legislative Hall about pending legislation for education? He said it was the first time he ever came to an education committee meeting and gave public comment.  It wasn’t a concern for Rodel. It was a five-alarm fire!  I’ve said all along I expected opt-outs to be small the first year.  I also said once parents receive the scores, it will be another story in the second year of Smarter Balanced.  One only needs to look at New York and New Jersey to see the difference between the first and second year opt-out rates to gage how Delaware will be with this in the Spring of 2016.  This is a wake-up call for parents, and they will show how much they support this test with higher opt-out rates in six months.

“Scores varied widely across districts and schools, highlighting the hard work of educators implementing the Common Core State Standards and schools that may need additional support.”

Scores varied widely among low-income schools and higher income schools.  They varied between charters and magnet schools with selective enrollment preferences and those without.  They varied between the haves and the have-nots.  Are you telling us then that schools with low-income just happen to have teachers who aren’t good at “implementing the Common Core State Standards”?  Because that’s the way I’m reading this.  Are you saying that EastSide Charter School, who was publicly praised by Governor Markell for their incredible growth on DCAS has teachers that now are not implementing Common Core the right way?  Or is it because EastSide performed about the same as other schools with comparable low-income populations?  Don’t answer.  We already know.

“…learn more about the Smarter Assessment and the Common Core State Standards at DelExcels.org.”

Since we know Rodel provides invaluable help to Donna Johnson, the State Board of Education and Delaware DOE in getting resource material on the DelExcels website for parents, and Rodel is a non-profit, did Rodel get paid with tax-payer money to help get the material on the DelExcels website?  And how much of that money gets invested into one of the hedge funds Rodel invests in?  Can you please answer those questions?

An Inside Look At AIR: The Most Terrifying Company In Education Reform

The scariest company making millions of dollars from the Delaware Department of Education is not who you would think.  It’s not Pearson, or Amplify, or even the Rodel Foundation.  It is a company which has been a part of education policy longer than Common Core was even an idea.  This company sowed the seeds for No Child Left Behind and they even helped to tear down one of Bill Gates original education reform agendas.  This company is American Institutes for Research, otherwise known as AIR.

AIR is the contracted vendor to create and distribute the Smarter Balanced Assessment, the state standardized assessment in Delaware.  But they have been around in Delaware since long before this.  They were also the testing vendor for the Delaware Comprehensive Assessment System (DCAS) in Delaware.  To date AIR received over $35 million dollars from the Delaware DOE as per Delaware Online Checkbook.  How did Delaware bargain students to such a company? Continue reading

Breaking Down Governor Markell’s Education Plan In The State of the State Address

Italics are Governor Markell, regular print is my response.  Agree? Disagree? Let me know!

This year, I ask the General Assembly, our schools, our colleges, and our businesses to join me in committing to the Delaware Promise. This is a new goal for our state. By 2025, 65 percent of our workforce will earn a college degree or professional certificate. Everyone will earn at least a high school diploma.

And what if they don’t?  How can you guarantee this Governor Markell?  Does this include students with disabilities?  Because there is controversy over those who take DCAS-Alt and whether they will get a high school diploma or a certificate of attendance.

Our efforts build on the tremendous work led by Senator Harris McDowell in creating the SEED and INSPIRE scholarships, which make Delaware one of the only states where high school graduates can secure a two-year degree at virtually no cost. And thanks to the leadership of Gary Stockbridge, and the tremendous efforts of our business, non-profit, and education communities, more than one hundred Delaware companies are providing training, mentoring, and workplace experience to our young people through the SPARC initiative.

But they have to attend certain schools to do this.  Not many choices there.  Does this benefit these students or the companies they would work for at lower costs?

But we know we must do more, so today I’m announcing three parts of our strategy to fulfill the Delaware Promise.

First, we will create an initiative called Pathways to Prosperity, which will establish partnerships with Delaware employers, universities, and our K-12 system to prepare students for a bright future in key industries. High school students will take hundreds of hours of specialized instruction and hands-on training. They will graduate with industry-recognized certificates and college credits.

Once again, these Pathways to Prosperity are pathways for these companies to essentially get free labor, thus, greater prosperity.

This fall, we will launch pathways statewide for the IT and hospitality industries. We will also expand to southern Delaware the manufacturing pathway we started last year with Colonial and New Castle County Vo-tech School Districts. Those manufacturing students are already making great progress and will get paid internships this summer at companies like Agilent Technologies, PPG, Kuehne and Siemens. The following year, we will expand the network to include two more of our fastest growing industries – financial services and healthcare. I want to thank President Mark Brainard for his personal commitment to this initiative. These pathways will transform opportunities for our young people for years to come. But we must also address our employers’ immediate needs for skilled workers.

So let’s train teenaged students to be that skilled work force at lower costs for the companies that profit.  Can’t have our students aiming for higher goals!

The second initiative I’m announcing is that Delaware Tech will partner with the national consulting firm McKinsey to significantly accelerate the training of entry-level healthcare workers. Employers have committed dozens of internships for young people who have already completed our terrific Jobs for Delaware Graduates program. As a result of this new training, they will be working in the field within months rather than years.

McKinsey…why does that ring a bell?  Oh yeah, you used to work for them.  And they helped out with the education blueprint and “Opportunity Knocks”, the education reform plan you and Paul Herdman and other corporate folks put together ten years ago.

Third, many of our employers have told me that they can’t find enough qualified IT workers and must resort to hiring them away from each other. We need a new pipeline of Delawareans trained to do these jobs. I’m pleased to announce that eight major employers are joining with us to train and hire hundreds of IT workers in our state. Through accelerated education programs and a “coding school” launching this fall, these employers will have access to a new cohort of skilled software programmers. Again, this training will take months rather than years.

Yes, let’s rush training because that always works so well.

Everyone can contribute to our state when given the chance, but efforts to expand our workforce have traditionally excluded people with disabilities. They miss out on the fulfillment of gainful employment, and employers miss out on the talents of so many. As you may remember, I made this issue the central plank in my role as chair of the National Governors Association. I’m thrilled that governors across the country are making this a priority.

Start providing proper funding when these people with disabilities are students with disabilities and I’ll be happier Governor Markell.  How about providing more funding to school districts to lower classroom sizes so inclusive special education students get better supports and resources.  Hell, reduce all class sizes and restore the funding taken from these school districts years ago and get rid of charter school slush funds.

Here in Delaware, we are building on progress we have made since the General Assembly passed the Employment First Act with Representative Heffernan’s leadership. More than 20,000 Delawareans are contributing, are engaged in their communities, and have purpose like never before. One of our biggest IT companies, CAI, has committed to hiring people with autism because they excel in roles like software testing and programming. And there are many other stories to remind us of the abilities of these Delawareans – people like Lucinda Williams, executive director of the Brain Injury Association of Delaware – and Alaric Good, who unloads supply trucks and manages the front desk at Walgreens.

I’m going to agree with you on this one.

Here is what people like Lucinda and Alaric have taught us: when we focus on the ability, rather than the disability, we are able to do amazing things, together. Please recognize them.

But here is where we are going to have to disagree.  While we may agree people need to see the ability and not the disability, the disability is still there.  How about, once again, beefing up special education in this state, and not for the sole purpose of increasing standardized test scores.  Because the result, as you will soon see once Smarter Balanced scores come out, will be horrific.

This year, DHSS will launch two programs to give Delawareans with disabilities a fair shot at employment. One will help young people plan their career while supporting them with transportation, personal care, and assistive technology. Another will provide specialized employment supports for adults with mental health needs and substance use disorders.

How about providing more funding for these things when they are students, so the horrors of school don’t follow them into adulthood.  Provide resources for bullying of students with disabilities, proper IEP meetings, and more training for our educators on different disabilities.

Preparing Delawareans to seize the opportunities of the future starts long before they enter job specific training. All of our children deserve a world-class education from day one.

Is Day One the moment of conception?  What defines a world-class education? Test and punish or students learning many different subjects to expand their choices.  One size does not fit all Governor Markell but that is exactly what you have sold on your education agendas.

I’m proud of our educators, like teacher of the year Megan Szabo; our principals, like Mark Pruitt from Conrad Schools of Science; and other school officials, like the Chief of our Chiefs, Superintendent Mark Holodick, all of whom are working so hard to help our students succeed.

How about the six priority school principals who face the toughest challenges of any principal in this state?  Schools who have not received proper funding for years, but now they are to be judged based on standardized test scores the legislature and yourself said come from a test that is no longer valid.  Yet, you will use last years scores for a second year in a row because you know the Smarter Balanced scores will be horrible.  Invite all of the educators in our state to your next State of the State and I will be impressed.  Otherwise, stop singing the praises of a few.  It’s getting insulting and very old.

Please join me in thanking them and their colleagues.

Thank you to all the educators in our state.  None of you are perfect, but all of you are faced with the burden of conforming to the DOE and Markell’s Rodel agendas.  I want to say I’m sorry on behalf of our state for this.

We know that the education we received years ago will not be enough to prepare students to thrive in our new economy. So we’re making investments and improvements across our education system. Our educators are teaching to higher academic standards.

Yeah, students are doing work two grades ahead in 5th grade.  All for a test that over 70% of them will fail.  I know you are making investments, but the students and educators won’t get the payoff.  You and your Rodel-sponsored corporate education reform buddies reap the benefits from these shenanigans.

We have doubled the number of high school students who take college classes in the last year. And the number of students taking AP classes has doubled over the last decade. That means hundreds of additional students graduate from high school with college credit.

Because you don’t have faith in our colleges to teach college courses, and it allows you to “invest” more in our high schools.  Once again, who benefits?

Ninety percent of children’s brain development occurs before they even enter kindergarten. So thanks to your support, we have enrolled more than 3,000 additional high-needs children in the best early childhood centers in the past two years. And we’ve given grants to 89 top early learning programs to offer the highest quality infant care to more of our neediest kids. We know that care is expensive and hard-to-find, yet key to our children’s success.

I will fully admit I don’t know enough about these programs and grants to comment.  I can play fair.

We have also invested in language immersion programs because our children will have greater opportunities in the global economy when they can speak more than one language. After only two and a half years, we have 1,400 students spending half of their school day learning in Chinese or Spanish. And we’ll keep expanding next year.

Common Core in English is bad enough, but now you want more to do it in different languages?  Slow your roll Governor Markell!  And where is all the funding coming from on this and what happens when it runs out?

We’re recruiting and retaining great educators and principals, because we know that nothing is more important for our students’ success than the people who teach them and lead their schools.

Yes, through fast-track education certification programs like Teach for America and Relay Graduate School because you want to bust the teacher unions and have less experienced and less educated “teachers” in our schools so they can sit back and watch children learn over the internet through Rodel funded programs like 2Revolutions.  I’ve seen the Vision of the future Governor Markell, and it is not bright.

That’s why we have spent more than a year carefully crafting an improved compensation system for new educators, and for current teachers who want to participate. We’ll raise starting salaries and allow educators to earn more by taking on leadership responsibilities while remaining in the classroom.

But you’ll screw over those who want to do more and get a masters degree and not pay them more for this advanced knowledge.  Which would not happen for those who know more in companies like McKinsey, right?

With leadership from DSEA and feedback from teachers statewide, the committee you established last year will make a proposal this spring. I thank Senators Sokola and Pettyjohn, as well as Representatives Kenton and Williams and former Representative Scott for their contributions to the committee.

And yet the DOE has scheduled many of these meetings that are inconvenient to teachers across the state and even kicked teachers out at one event because the DOE had one event at a library while another event was going on close by.  No public school district teacher likes this plan.

Communities across the state, from Western Sussex to Wilmington have urged that we reexamine the way we pay for education.

Yes we have!  We want the General Assembly to go over Race To The Top funding with a fine-tooth comb.  How many boards does Paul Herdman and other “education” leaders sit on of the companies that most benefited from Race To The Top?  How many charter schools have benefited from education funding while public school districts are left to whither on the vine?

In the coming months, at the recommendation of House Education Committee Chair Earl Jacques, President Blevins, Speaker Schwartzkopf and I will create a school funding task force to make recommendations that would spur more innovation in our schools and address inequities for our neediest students. We cannot prepare our students to seize the opportunities of the new economy with a funding system developed three-quarters of a century ago.
 
But didn’t you change a lot of that funding system five years ago with needs-based funding?  Didn’t you cut funding and never restore the full amounts to the neediest students?  Yes you did.

That work is particularly important for our high-needs students, including those who have been at the center of our efforts to transform Wilmington’s Priority Schools. I know the debate around these efforts reflect a commitment on the part of everybody in this chamber and many beyond to do what is right for our most at-risk children.

Yes, my commitment to these children hasn’t waivered one bit.  And “priority schools” are not the answer during your test and punish administration.  What is right is to stop this under any and all circumstances.

However, while we are entitled to our own opinions, we are not entitled to our own facts. And the facts are clear. The students in these schools aren’t making sufficient progress, while students with similar challenges are making extraordinary progress in other schools.

When you manipulate those facts, those facts are not clear.  And we all know it Jack.  Those other students you speak of are in schools that have not shown long-term success, only an ability to mindlessly provide “rigor” and an ability to teach to the test.  Many of these students who transfer to public school districts are far beyond their classmates and are socially withdrawn.  We call the schools they came from charter schools.  If progress is only measured under one cohort, then YOU Governor Markell have failed these students.

We understand that these students bring significant challenges to school each day. Challenges of poverty. Of homelessness. Of unstable family situations. These are tragic problems that we are fully focused on addressing through economic development, housing, and other initiatives across state government.

Yeah, it just took voting Matt Denn in as Attorney General to get these issues addressed.  You and Beau Biden dropped the ball on this and now you want to piggyback on Denn’s ideas.  Real classy, given that you allowed this to happen in our largest city for the past six years…

And we know that educators in the Priority Schools are working passionately to help these children.

Is that why you want to fire half of those educators and get rid of the principals?  Your hypocrisy is larger than your ego Governor.

But for too long, problems of poverty have condemned these students to low expectations. They only get one chance at an education. They can’t wait any longer.

They can’t wait any longer, or the Community Education Building can’t wait any longer to fill up slots in the mostly empty building?  Or is it the hedge fund managers and investors who will see their portfolio massively increase when a charter management organization such as KIPP, Basis Schools, or Uncommon Schools comes to town?

That’s why we took action. We’re prepared to invest more than six million dollars to support great teachers and leaders in helping our neediest students thrive. We have required the Red Clay and Christina School Districts to develop a new approach to turning these schools around, by doing things like extending the school day, offering after-school programs, and providing hungry children with three meals a day.

You have forced Red Clay and Christina to adhere to an MOU that was written by eagle-eye attorneys to punish and humiliate these schools.  But you missed one thing Jack.  Did these attorneys consult every single IEP team in these schools when you are changing special needs students educational placement by extending school hours and offering (make that mandatory for lower scoring students) extended school year services?  Cause I don’t see that specifically addressed in the MOUs for each school.

We’ve been working closely to support the districts in this effort, and we are days away from receiving their plans. If these plans give our students the opportunities they deserve, we will approve them and move forward together. 

Opportunities they deserve, or opportunities the investors and corporate education reform companies will have as a result of these plans?  We both know the answer to that.  When you say “working closely to support the districts” would you correlate that to holding a gun to their heads and making them do your bidding or you will take their schools when that is your intention all along?  You don’t care about the schools plans.  This has been choreographed for a long time, and you have to be salivating for the moment you make an announcement.  That’s when the fun begins for those who oppose this!

Is This State Of Delaware Employee The Man Behind The Priority Curtain?

 

Thanks to the anonymous emailer, who would only go by “BandAidRules”,  for sending me this.  But I verified his credentials on LinkedIn and they were an exact match!  Last summer, Kilroy posted an article about how Murphy goes through assistants quite a bit.  Well, it looks like this guy had a very specific reason for leaving.   But my bigger question would be why he would leave a lucrative job at Morgan Stanley to work for the Delaware DOE.  That is a huge career decline.  The top DOE employee, Mark Murphy, makes around $170,000.00.  I’ve bolded certain words and phrases for emphasis.  Ladies and Gentlemen, meet Ryan Fennerty:

Ryan Fennerty

Director at Committee to Advance Educator Compensation & Careers

Wilmington, Delaware
Public Policy
Current
  1. Committee to Advance Educator Compensation & Careers,
  2. Office of Governor Jack Markell
Previous
  1. Delaware Department of Education,
  2. Independent Consultant,
  3. Morgan Stanley
Education
  1. Yale University
500+connections

Background

Experience

Director

Committee to Advance Educator Compensation & Careers

July 2014 – Present (6 months)Wilmington, Delaware

Staff director for state-level committee comprised of the chairs of the House and Senate Education Committees, Secretary of Education, President of the State Board of Education, and State Education Association leaders (among others), to develop an alternative compensation system for Delaware’s 10,000 public school educators. Oversee supporting staff, policy development, analytical and financial due diligence, stakeholder engagement and public communications.

Special Advisor

Office of Governor Jack Markell

July 2014 – Present (6 months)Wilmington, Delaware

Special Assistant to the Secretary of Education

Delaware Department of Education

February 2013 – July 2014 (1 year 6 months)Dover, Delaware Area

Served as a policy advisor and project manager for the Secretary of Education on state-wide initiatives tied to school and district accountability, school choice, education funding practices and policies, public communications, and long-term strategic planning. Served as member of department leadership team which provides strategic direction for state-wide education policy.

Project Manager – Special Projects

Independent Consultant

September 2012 – January 2013 (5 months)Dover, Delaware Area

Served as a project manager supporting the Secretary of Education on priority projects related to school turnaround, district and school accountability, compensation reform, strategic communications, organizational realignment, and the development of a multi-year policy agenda.

Morgan Stanley

Senior Analyst – Investment Banking

Morgan Stanley

June 2011 – August 2012 (1 year 3 months)NYC

Third year investment banking analyst for Morgan Stanley’s Transportation team. Sectors of focus included airlines, aircraft leasing, contract logistics, services, trucking, and transportation infrastructure. Lead analyst on six live transactions including sell-side M&A, leveraged buyout, and debt and equity financings.

Morgan Stanley

Associate – Sales & Trading

Morgan Stanley

July 2008 – May 2011 (2 years 11 months)NYC

European market generalist providing sales coverage for New York-based institutional clients with investment strategies dedicated to European equity markets. Actively covered 20 senior institutional clients (primarily hedge funds) with a focus on event-driven, special situations, global fundamental, and long-short investment strategies.

And he has some very interesting companies he follows:

Following

Influencers

Companies

Didn’t a certain Governor used to be a consultant for McKinsey?  TNTP: Now that’s a shocker!  Sounds like this guy has his hands in a lot of different education pies.  Reread by big Rodel article from November, and see how this guy is the quiet man in that picture!

Rodel’s Plan To Bring the Basis Charter Chain From Arizona To Delaware?

UPDATED, 12/8/14: I violated my own rule! I usually wait for two sources to verify the same information from different independent scenarios, but this one came from a source who has never been wrong. I’m not sure where my source got some of the specifics wrong, but the Delaware Charter School Network did not fly Delaware politicians to Arizona to tour Basis Schools. That was all the Friedman Foundation, who did fly some politicians from Delaware, including Deborah Hudson, to look at programs involving school vouchers.  However, it did lead me to some more Rodel connections to a very big chain of charter schools operating mainly out of Arizona, as well as San Antonio, TX and Washington D.C.

It was discovered today that the Delaware Charter School Network was flying a bunch of Wilmington, Delaware politicians out to Arizona tomorrow night to see “something very innovative”. Delaware resident and educator Superman, Mike Matthews, found out this adventure is so these politicians can take a look at the Basis Schools charter chain. When I heard this, I immediately thought of the Rodel Foundation of Arizona. Yes, Rodel isn’t just Delaware based, it’s also in Arizona. And take a wild guess who is on the board of Basis Schools? Yes, it’s Donald Budinger! One of the famous, wealthy members of the Budinger family of Delaware, who created the Rodel Foundation.

The Rodel Foundation of Delaware has even promoted Basis, going back to 2012: http://www.rodelfoundationde.org/daily-education-news-71012/ Continue reading

Two Weeks And No Response From Rodel CEO Paul Herdman @RodelDE @KilroysDelaware @ed_in_de @RCEAPrez @Apl_Jax @ecpaige @nannyfat @Roof_O #netde #eduDE #Delaware #edchat

It has been two weeks since I responded to Rodel CEO Paul Herdman’s email to me about my Rodel article (this one: https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2014/11/19/delaware-race-to-the-top-hedge-funds-millions-wasted-the-story-of-rodel-markell-charters-the-vision-network-kilroysdelaware-ed_in_de-dwablog-apl_jax-nannyfat-ecpaige-delawarebat/ and https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2014/11/22/rodels-ceo-dr-herdman-sent-an-email-re-rodel-article-my-response-challenge-kilroysdelaware-ed_in_de-rceaprez-apl_jax/ ). I asked Paul Herdman to meet me at the six priority schools and Gateway Lab School to explain Rodel’s hedge fund activity and other discrepancies I found. Mr. Herdman has not bothered to respond at all. But I have heard he was very upset about the article and many people at Rodel and the Vision Network were sent an email about it. I have yet to see the email, but my invitation to Mr. Herdman still stands. Your call Paul. In the meantime, if my next article on Rodel occurs before you accept my invitation, feel free to address any irregularities I have found on that one as well.