Last night, I attended an education meeting that was very different. It was a very odd group of folks getting together in one room to talk about things that affect all Delaware schools. It was a mixture of people who represented two different sides of public education. Continue reading
At Grotto’s Pizza in Dover, DE, the State Board of Education held a workshop on the Every Student Succeeds Act. The Capitol Room at Grotto’s was jam-packed with administrators, teachers, advocates, Delaware DOE employees, State Board members, a Congressman, education company employees, and even a blogger or two. Sadly, there were not that many parents there. Yes, many of these people play that role as well as their other jobs, but for a meeting the Delaware DOE will say is a true “stakeholder” meeting, this key group was missing. I recognized a lot of the faces, but there were some I didn’t. Some I was able to put together based on conversations I overheard. This was the State Board of Education Workshop on ESSA. Notice some of the tables where certain people are sitting together. Especially the one Secretary Godowsky was sitting at…
I did not take these 60 pictures. They were taken by an employee of Secretary of Education Dr. Godowsky’s office and put on the Delaware DOE Facebook page this morning. Which means they are part of a state agency which puts them in the public domain! Thank you DOE Photographer!
State Board of Education Executive Director Donna Johnson at the microphone, Deputy Secretary of Education Karen Field-Rogers in the pink jacket with striped shirt in the back, Susan Haberstroh with the DOE with the mid-length brown hair and glasses, Governor Markell’s Education Policy Advisor Meghan Wallace with the ponytail and glasses, Secretary of Education Dr. Steven Godowsky to the right near the screen. Continue reading
How about them apples? Turns out the much ballyhooed funding for the Priority Schools initiative in Red Clay and Christina is not even going to be granted at the full amount now. If I were a judge looking at this, I would definitely say that violates the whole Memorandum of Understanding each of the six schools had to sign. The Red Clay and Christina boards signed those with the full intention the state would cough up the money. So where did the promised money go? Is this another one of those sneaky budget moves like the one Delaware Liberal just wrote about?
This news is coming from the Red Clay board meeting happening right now. Board member Adriana Bohm just said the state should nullify the MOUs if the state can’t give the funds they promised. I completely agree. After all the angst and bullying and intimidation by both Governor Markell and the Delaware DOE, this is what it comes down to? Should any of us be shocked? I am awaiting final confirmation on how short the state is on these funds.
If I were any school designated a priority school in the future, I would never sign the MOU based on these shenanigans. And somehow, the contract for the Priority Schools Instructional Executive contract is just showing as recently closed. No bidders showing, and it’s not showing as not awarded either. So which is it? Or is this another case where the DOE can just pull contracts off this site and put them in the ether?
This is beginning to confirm my suspicion the whole priority school thing was a sham from the start. It is my contention the whole thing was designed the get the whole redistricting of Wilmington going. Because all the shouting that occurred from that announcement led right into the Wilmington Education Advisory Committee. After the priority schools anger calmed down, the WEAC group came out with their recommendations, and voila, two bills passed by the House and Senate in a record amount of time.
Delaware gets dirtier by the day. The amount of manipulation and lies told by our public “leaders” is deplorable and disgusting. The secret meetings with Rodel, Mark Murphy and members of the Delaware Business Roundtable. The things Governor Markell says a little bit too loud that others may overhear. The whole Senator Sokola comment at the Senate Education Committee when he was rushing people through public comment on HB50 to get to SB122 (the redistricting bill for the State Board of Education to carve up Wilmington) when he said “Some people have been working on this for a couple years” when WEAC came out from an Executive Order in September 2014. The whole budget bill and grant-in-aid shenanigans Delaware Liberal just wrote about. The railroading of HB186 which would give financial accountability to charters while the state pours $3.8 million to them from the budget.
It is very obvious what is going on here, which I’ve said all along. They want Wilmington to be a charter district. When I say they, I mean the following: Governor Markell, Rodel, Delaware Charter Schools Network, Innovative Schools, Secretary of Education Mark Murphy, Tony Allen, the DOE, EastSide Charter, Dr. Lamont Browne, Laurissa Schutt with Teach For America, Senator David Sokola, State Rep. Earl Jaques. The writing is on the wall for all of it. You just have to connect the dots. Look at all the “teacher evaluation” consortiums going on with the charters in Wilmington. And now I’m hearing one of their assistant principals is going to another Wilmington school that was never a part of all this. And the whole Family Foundations Academy takeover by EastSide never sat well with me. It seemed all too convenient with everything else going on. They are building their network now. The Community Education Building will fill up pretty fast. Just remember this: Red Clay has no high school in Wilmington. And if they can do it there, the rest of Delaware better watch out. Next stop will be Dover, and then down in Sussex, and they will spread out from there.
Now that the bills have passed for this redistricting plan, as well as the Committee to plan the whole thing, what happens now that they have royally pissed off the Red Clay board? Red Clay is being used by these people, and I hope they have the gumption to fight these charter lovers. And just wait until Christina finds out about this! If the State of Delaware does nothing about this, perhaps it’s time the FBI comes in and does a full-scale investigation of ALL of this.
There is going to be a huge war brewing in Wilmington over education. The priority schools was a skirmish. Battle lines are being drawn as we speak. Is this really what we need charter schools for? To squeeze local districts out while they take over? Don’t think that can happen? I posted an article last December with information I got completely wrong. But included in the article was a link written by the Philanthropy Roundtable. I called all of this then: the ultimate goal. Take a look, and even though some of the details are off, look at what’s happening. I can now see why some from that side have been coddling me lately, to throw me off their scent. Nice try, didn’t work.
The question now becomes this: What do we do about it?
The House Education Committee in Delaware is having a meeting going over some of the education bills introduced in the 148th General Assembly this year. First up is Senate Bill #10:
This Act makes technical changes to the Delaware Performance Appraisal System (DPAS) II Advisory Committee membership and meeting dates. Additionally, this Act clarifies language regarding the Committee’s duties in order to better provide advice to the Secretary of the Department of Education and the State Board of Education in the promulgation of regulations relating to DPAS II.
Senator David Sokola introduced the bill to the Education Committee. The purpose of the bill is not to change the program but to add an additional five years due to the sunset period ending this year. State Rep. Miro asked about pay scales. Executive Director of TFA Delaware Laurissa Schutt took the podium and said teachers are relatively paid the same. State Rep. Edward Osienski asked about oversight. It was revealed TFA will be writing their own report on this. State Rep. Kim Williams is asking about retention rates for TFA employees in Delaware schools. She asked Schutt about changing the timeframe for teachers to stay from the 2 year program to a 4 year program. Schutt could not commit to that. State Rep. John Kowalko said he wants the bill extended to 2016 and not 2020. He feels the TEMBO report commissioned by the Delaware DOE is very biased. He doesn’t feel TFA should be writing their own reports for the state.
Howard High School Principal said they started with nine TFAers, and still have four that have stayed on. Heath Chasanov, Superintendent of Woodbridge, spoke in support of the bill and TFA. He is also speaking for Susan Bunting, Superintendent of Idnian River in support of the bill. Donald Blakey, Super for Colonial, is also praising TFA and the bill. Donna Johnson, State Board of Education, said she is happy with the collaboration between TFA and Professional Development of all teachers. They look forward to working with the Professional Standards Board on Regulation 1507.
Kim Williams asked for more clarity on the reporting from the DOE on where the members are. There needs to be more accuracy with reporting. State Rep. Mike Ramone said one great employee from TFA can bring the whole quality of teachers up at a school. Schutt said Brandywine and Newcastle County Vo-Tech want to work with them on teacher-mentoring program. She said “We are never going to take over anything. We have 22 teachers, and we will never reach that unless we have that deep collaborative level.”
Watching the crowd, State Rep. Deb Heffernan is very interested in the comments and questions during this topic. Rep. Miro just said he doesn’t trust any report that comes from the Delaware DOE.
Senate Bill #10 passed the House Education Committee with 1 no vote.
Just imagine being Mark Murphy today. Having all that bad news heaped upon him today. It can’t be easy being Delaware’s Secretary of Education. I have to imagine what his day must have been like today…
Mark arrived late at the office. He explained to his administrative assistant why he was half an hour late. “There I am, driving down Route 1. Beautiful sunrise, nice weather. John Kowalko called me with questions about opt out. Every time I tried to talk he cut me off. Half an hour later, he’s still going. I had to take it off blue tooth. That’s when he nabbed me and I got a ticket.” “How fast were you going?” she asked. “I wasn’t going too fast, I was going too slow. I was going 35 in a 65.”
Mark went to his morning meetings and went over the agenda for the State Board meeting. He spilled some coffee all over his brand-new white shirt when Penny Schwinn came running in with big news. Mark read the news and his face turned pale, as if someone had taken his favorite pair of glasses. Then his wife called. “Mark, I just heard. Are you okay?” “No, I’m not okay. Two years in a row. How come I’m not in the top ten?” “Mark, are you okay? What are you talking about? Have you been doing those Smarter Balanced interim tests again?” “No, it’s Holodick. I’m the Secretary of the whole gosh-darn Delaware education system, and he’s still making $45,000 more than me. It just isn’t right. And those not nice bloggers keep saying he will replace me one day. Will he get to keep his salary then?” “Maybe you’ll get his job honey. It would be closer to home. But that’s not what I called about. It’s this article in Newsworks…”
Mrs. Murphy was cut off by the director of the Teacher and Leader Effectiveness Unit. “Boss, holy crap, you gotta be pissed! I’ll show those #@$%ing teachers! I think it’s time for Operation Human Capital Drop!” “Christopher Ruszkowsi, good gracious, I’m on the phone with my wife. Can you come back at another time?” “Sure Murph, I’ll come back in five.” Murphy just stared at him as the “Rus Man” gave an enthusiastic thumbs up leaving the office.
“Sorry honey, what were you calling about?” “On Newsworks, they reported…” This time it was David Blowman, his Deputy Secretary. “Mark, my friend, I’m so sorry. We need to do a root-cause analysis and find out who put them up to this.” “David, I’m on the line with Mrs….” “Oh dear heavens Mark, I’m so sorry. I will embark immediately.” The coffee on Mark’s shirt was still seeping down his shirt.
“I’m going to have to call you back,” as Mark abruptly said his goodbyes. This had been a hell of a morning, and all he wanted to do was crawl back into bed and watch “Common Core for Common People Part 9: The Commonalities of Common Teachers.” He missed it the other night when Earl Jaques kept calling him asking for advice on how to handle the media. Ruszkowski ran into his office again, “Holy crap Murph, your supposed to have green clothes on St. Patrick’s Day, not spill it on your shirt!” Mark just stared at him. “What, I was just messing around Boss! Anyways, you know I got your back on this. I’m gonna TFA their schools like we’ve never seen before. I got an ad on Craigslist as we speak! And we are going to lower the requirement from 5 weeks to 3 weeks to get them in faster.” “But that’s not in regulation Christopher, we can’t just…” “Sure we can, we’ve done it before. Remember that time when we…”
Karen Field Rogers, his Associate Secretary of Financial Reform and Resource Management came into his office. “Mark, I think you spilled some coffee on…” “Yeah, the Boss doesn’t really have the luck of the Irish today!” Ruszkowski shouted. “What can I do for you Karen?” “I just got off the phone with Rep. Hudson. She’s going to need us to do a cursive study. Do we have any funds left from Race To The Top to do an RFP for a contractor on this?” she asked. “I don’t know. Call Herdman, he controls all that.” “But Mark, Jack wants this out there right away. He think this might turn the tide with the opt out movement and distract parents from the blogs.” “Better call Paul!” Ruszkowsi shouted. Mark looked at them both, his cheeks as red as John Young’s Red Pen editions on Transparent Christina. “Look, I have to run out to Target. I’ll handle it when I get back.”
Mark drove down to Target. He was in such a hurry, he didn’t realize he parked in a handicapped spot. As he ran into the store, he accidentally ran into a little boy. As he helped him up, the boy sneezed in his face. “Can this day get any worse?” Mark asked himself. He got to the checkout line with a new white shirt. The cashier was on her cell phone saying “Oh my God, I can’t believe it.” Mark looked at her and asked “Is everything alright ma’am?” “Yeah, I’m on Exceptional Delaware, and they just announced the DSEA voted for no confidence in that Mark Murphy guy.” “Don’t you mean the CEA and RCEA?” “No, that was last week. This just came out today. Sorry, let me ring you up.” Mark reached for his wallet, but it wasn’t there. He remembered he left it on the dashboard when he got his ticket. “I’ll be right back, I left my wallet in my car.” “I can’t keep this order open. What’s your name?” Murphy said “Never mind” and ran out.
He noticed a police officer standing over his car, writing something. “Officer, is everything okay?” “Sir, you parked in a handicapped space but you don’t have the plates or even the placard. I have to give you a ticket.” “You do realize I’m a high-level official in this state?” Murphy asked the officer. “Oh are you? This isn’t something you can just ignore or shake it off.” Mark recognized the face immediately. It was that Dover cop who did the Taylor Swift lip-synch video on Youtube. How could he ever forget? His children played the video non-stop the weekend it was released. “I am the Secretary of Education Sir.” “Oh, so you want to opt out of getting a ticket. But that could affect funding,” as the cop laughed. “Here you go Mr. Secretary. By the way, it looks like you spilled some coffee on your shirt.”
Mark went back into the store, got another shirt, and the only cashier available was the one he went to before. “Oh, you found your wallet!” Mark gave her his card. “Can I see some ID?” Mark showed her his license. “Hey, are you the same Mark Murphy as the DOE guy?” “Yes I am.” “That has to bite, having all those teachers saying you suck.” “I haven’t read the article yet.” “I still have Exceptional Delaware up on my iPad. Do you want to read it?” Mark muttered under his breath. The last thing he wanted to do was read Exceptional Damn Delaware. This blogger had been a thorn in his side for nine months, after dealing with Kilroys and the rest all those years. “I’m good.”
Mark stopped by WaWa, changed into his new shirt in the bathroom. As he came out, Donna Johnson, the executive director of the State Board saw him. “Mark, are you okay? I just left the building and everyone said you were really upset about the whole DSEA article.” “I’m okay, we will get through this. How is everyone else doing?” “What are you talking about Mark? It was just you. They didn’t give the DOE and the State Board a vote of no confidence. It was just you.” Mark stared at Donna and felt his world spinning around him. Since the bathroom doors are right next to the service door, Mark wasn’t paying attention when a delivery man pushed the door open with a cart causing the door to swing into Mark. Mark felt the lights go out around him.
He woke up in a bright room. Everything was blurry. Mark went to push his glasses up, but they weren’t there. He heard a voice. “Murph. You’re up. Hot damn, you are a mess!” It was Ruszkowski. “Where am I?” “You’re at Bayhealth. You passed out in WaWa man! Donna called me. She’s in the next room.” “What happened to her?” Mark asked. “She hit her head against a Twinkie display when you pushed her down. She’ll be okay, only a couple stitches.” Mark went to get up, but he couldn’t move. “Don’t try to get up Boss. You’ll be in traction for a couple days. You actually broke your ass Murph!” Ruszkowski kept talking about how he talked to Paul and Laurissa about getting some TFA action going immediately in light of the DSEA announcement. “In fact, there’s a new bill to get another year extension. Can you believe that Boss? Those *&%$ing legislators think they know more about education than we do. Anyways, I gotta get back. I know Jack is waiting to see you.”
Murphy started smiling. Jack always had a way of making him feel better. He looked outside, and it was dark out. How long had he been unconscious? Jack came in. “Mark, Mark, Mark. This isn’t good. You made more news today than you’ve had during your entire tenure as my Secretary.” Mark wanted to cry. “I’m going to have to temporarily replace you while you mend.” “Who do you have in mind Jack?” Murphy asked. “I was thinking about Mark Holodick…” Murphy screamed. An endless scream. It was heard by children down the street at Dover South Elementary School. Priests came running out from Holy Cross across the street. As Murphy stopped, Jack looked at Mark. “Can I get you some coffee?” Murphy screamed again…