We Don’t Need More Of Rodel’s Vision To Help Students Succeed

Today in the News Journal, Vision Coalition Chairman Ernie Dianastasis wrote in the Delaware Voice editorial slot about the upcoming Student Success 2025.  Sponsored by the Vision Coalition, anyone in Delaware who knows a thing or two about this kind of thing knows this is Rodel led.  I found this editorial to be very insulting to the citizens of Delaware.  Rodel works behind the scenes with the Department of Education in Delaware, as well as our State Board of Education, to make sure it’s own agenda is heard first.

The arrogance in this is overwhelming:

Our schools have already made great progress over the last decade, and much of this new plan is simply building upon our solid foundation.

It is that very foundation, thrust upon the students of Delaware over the past ten years by Rodel that delivered us Race To The Top, Smarter Balance, and priority schools.  But Dianastasis casts that aside as if Rodel had nothing to do with it.

I don’t need to remind anyone that last year was no picnic.  Statewide tension around Race To The Top, so-called “priority schools”, and the Smarter Balanced assessments led the News Journal to ponder, “is our education system descending into chaos?”

A chaos you created Rodel.  Under the leadership of Dr. Paul Herdman, Rodel has inserted itself into every major education decision and left destruction in it’s wake.  DSEA ran afoul of Rodel last Spring when the State Board and Rodel had issues with items DSEA wanted in a teacher survey.  This caused the TellDel survey to be pushed back until next year.  Rodel should have NO input on something like that.  During the House Bill 50 opt-out discussion, Dr. Paul Herdman actually came off his pedestal to speak against the legislation at a Senate Education Committee meeting, despite the citizens of Delaware advocating for the bill.  If they truly cared what the citizens actually think, they wouldn’t be spouting this nonsense.

And lest we forget, during the priority schools showdown last year, Herdman actually wrote a letter with Rodel letterhead stating “But these six priority schools need to change- dramatically- and the time is now.  Pointing fingers won’t help, we need a plan.”  The letter, read at the Wilmington City Council meeting on the priority schools last October, concluded by Herdman stating “Act with bravery and this community will follow.  This is what is special about Delaware- we know each other- and when there is a good idea, we rally.  Let us capitalize on this opportunity to act.  We may not see another one like it for a very long time.”  By using the word “capitalize”, Herdman showed us all how his mind works.  It’s all about the monetary value, not the educational one.  To hear Dianastasis refer to the “so-called priority schools” is funny considering the priority schools came out of the partnership zone which came out of Race To The Top.  Rodel pretty much crafted the plans for as evidenced by the numerous emails Herdman sent to Governor Markell. They are a non-profit company (although this is highly questionable) who profits immensely from educator misery and has some interesting donations and mysterious hedge fund activity.

The truth is, we aren’t all going to agree on everything.  And no- we don’t claim to have all the answers.  We accept that there will be real disagreements on the margins, but we can’t let that slow us down.

In other words, they know they are trying to blaze the path here and they don’t give a crap what people think.  So they are going to do what they want anyways and the DOE and State Board are going to go along with it because that’s what Governor Markell wants.  It’s been that way since Markell took office, and even before that.  Why should now be any different?  We have Rodel to thank for everything bad in education in Delaware.

The voices of 4,000 Delawareans contributed to this vision.

Okay, now you are just being ridiculous.  I keep track of these things.  Rodel did not have Town Halls with 4,000 Delawareans.  Having a highly publicized Imagine Delaware forum and making attendees fill out survey cards does not constitute a “shared vision“.  I’ll give you credit for having some meetings well over a year ago with a somewhat decent crowd showing up, but nothing anywhere near to minor league ballpark of 4,000.  Don’t buy the Kool-Aid here Delaware!  Rodel is trying to fool you yet again.  It’s funny, when I publicly challenged Herdman, he never contacted me again.  If you want to know what citizens of Delaware really think about Rodel (those who actually know them), this is the place to look.

Dianastatis serves as the Chair of Vision and the Chair of the Delaware Business Roundtable Education Committee.  This roundtable and the businesses and corporations they represent are the News Journal’s biggest advertiser.  For two days in a row now, readers of this newspaper have been subjected to editorials by corporate education reformers.  At least today’s IV drip of Kool-Aid inserted into your morning coffee is from someone that actually lives in Delaware.  Yesterday we had the whackjobs at the Fordham Foundation invading Delaware soil to tell us how much our “honesty gap” sucks and that everything before now has been a lie.  The only thing they got wrong was the “before now” part.  But this is what the News Journal has become, Governor Markell and all his ed reform buddies press release.  But really, is that any more insane than this video presented by the very same author as yesterday’s letter?

Student success and Rodel are like oil and water.  The sooner we boot them out of Delaware, along with Governor Markell and his bizarre hipster leaders at the DOE, the better off we will all be.

The Honesty Gap Between Governor Markell And Students, Parents, & Teachers Is Wider Than The Pacific Ocean

“And we’re not being honest with kids about what they need to be proficient.”

In an article in the News Journal, Governor Markell said there is an “honesty gap” between state standardized tests and the National Assessment of Educational Progress.  First off, with all the news going on with education in Delaware, how is it that reporter Matthew Albright’s biggest education news of the day yesterday was a conference call with Markell, Achieve, and the Collaboration for Student Success?  I can think of at least three dozen other matters that are more newsworthy.

Governor Markell is scrambling.  So are the big education reform companies.  They will say and do anything to attempt to gain the trust back in their corporate education reform agenda.  Now they are tackling the biggest problem they will have in the next three months: when the scores come back on the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  What Markell and Achieve don’t mention in this article is how Achieve is in a contract with the Delaware Department of  Education right now with the Assessment Inventory initiative.  This was Markell’s rocket science idea to get rid of other assessments to justify the Smarter Balanced.

When the issue of parent opt-out came up during this conference call, Achieve President Michael Cohen said:

“While we’re here talking about making sure parents get honest, accurate measures of performance, parents are actually opting to get no information about their performance,”

You are absolutely right Mr. Cohen.  The parents who are opting their children out do not trust the test or Governor Markell.  Teachers don’t trust it either.  Sure, maybe the chosen few who become Teachers of the Year or become part of the Rodel Round Table over at Camelot, aka 100 W. 10th St. in Wilmington.  These are the dying embers of a failed policy, but Markell is too stubborn or too invested to just throw water over them and just let it cool down.  This is his Achilles Heel.  Whenever his baby is threatened, he pulls these stunts.  And this widens the gap between himself and the rest of us.

Where is the honesty with the Smarter Balanced Assessment Governor Markell?  Teachers can’t see the test beforehand, and they don’t see the answers the students give or the actual graded tests.  Parents don’t see it either, but they are supposed to trust a score?  But this is okay to measure schools and teachers?  I don’t see a lot of honesty  in that Governor.  So keep peddling your proficiency measure like some guy selling Rolex watches in New York City, and us parents will continue to opt our kids out.  The debate is over, but you are too foolish to realize it.

Matt Albright, you are better than this.  Stop taking phone calls from the Governor and start covering real education stories.