Exclusive: A Delaware Legislator Is Not The Hero For Public Education They Appear To Be

I’ve been wrestling with something for a long time now.  I found out something.  Something big.  Usually my first instinct is to get it out there.  But this was BIG, and if I was wrong about it, it could have shot me in the foot.  It concerns a legislator and an election.  But more than that, it concerned friends.  Friends who are very supportive of this particular legislator.  I’ve had wrestling matches in my head before about these kind of things, but usually the need for truth prevails.  This time though, it was different.  Continue reading

The Teacher Leader Pilot Program Comes To Us Courtesy Of Rodelaware

The Delaware Department of Education continues their self-righteous Rodel led agendas.  In their latest corporate education reform press release, Godowsky and the gang announced the nineteen members of the Delaware Teacher Leader Pilot program kicking off this year.  I find it more than a coincidence that most of the districts who got these positions are very tight with the “Leader In Me” program.  The only districts selected were Capital and Appoquinimink.  Three charters are joining the bandwagon which are MOT, Kuumba Academy and Odyssey.

At their April board meeting, the Capital Board of Education tentatively approved going forward with this program.  But they had deep concerns about setting up competitions in schools.  They cited the very controversial Delaware Talent Co-op Program from a few years ago and how it caused many problems among teachers.  As well, the board was concerned with the amount of time the selected Teacher Leaders would spend out of the classroom and how additional substitute teachers would need to take their place.  The principals of these schools were very enthusiastic about the program.  Both are “focus” schools, one of the latest “turnaround” labels thrown at schools over low state assessment scores.  In a sense, I don’t blame these principals for doing what they can to get their schools out of these false labels put on them by the Delaware DOE.  If you go to the Capital board audio recording from their April 20th board meeting, click on the second audio recording link, and the discussion begins around the 1:22:03 mark.  When asked how much the program would cost, Superintendent Dan Shelton mentioned the stipend teachers would get but also that the training would take up the bulk of the costs.  A figure of $50,000 was thrown around.

The only schools in Capital who are instituting this pilot program are Towne Point and East Dover Elementary.  Towne Point is a huge advocate of the “Leader In Me” program.  Fairview Elementary in Capital also has this program.  Appoquinimink School District brought Leader In Me to Delaware.  Payments for this program are made to a company called Franklin Covey.  Many of the teachers at Towne Point who advocate for this program are also members of this Teacher Leader pilot program.  One of them is also very involved with the Rodel Teacher Council.  I have no doubt this teacher is an excellent teacher, but when you see one name associated with so many things I can not support, it is hard to draw the line between saying nothing and pointing it out.  I fully welcome any discussion with this teacher about anything written in this article, especially the part I write about later on.

The Delaware General Assembly passed their budget bill in late June with an appropriation of $800,000 in state funds going to the recipient districts and charters towards the Teacher Leader program.

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What I don’t understand is how the DOE can move forward with a program that is contingent on approval in the State Budget.  The funds for this state grant weren’t approved until late June.  But here we have the DOE sending out invitations to apply after Spring Break.  For Capital school district, students came back after Spring Break on April 4th.  They gave schools a very short time to apply for this program, a matter of 25 days.  What was the insane rush behind this?  I will touch on this later, but for now check out the press release from Alison May at the DOE:

First teacher leaders announced

Nineteen teachers have been selected to serve as teacher leaders in a pilot program launching this school year. The program is among the first of its kind in the nation to take place at the state level.

Providing this kind of teacher leadership opportunity was among the recommendations of the Committee to Advance Educator Compensation and Careers. During his administration, Governor Jack Markell has championed the creation of a compensation system that makes Delaware educator salaries more competitive with neighboring states and rewards teachers for helping their peers to best support our students.

“Through this pilot, teacher leaders are provided a career pathway that both rewards educators for excellence and provides opportunities in formal leadership positions,” said Markell, who recommended funding for the pilot in his Fiscal Year 2017 budget that was approved by the General Assembly on June 30. “Through these roles, teacher leaders will use their skills to support schools where they need it most: helping other educators develop their practices and better prepare Delaware’s students for college and careers —all while allowing teacher leaders to maintain a foot in the classroom and earn additional compensation without needing to take on administrative roles.”

The Governor joined Secretary of Education Steve Godowsky today at Appoquinimink High School in Middletown to participate with members of the pilot in a discussion about the coming year.

The five teacher leader roles to launch this year will support educators in the following areas:

·         Instructional practice leads will improve the instructional practice of fellow educators using a variety of high-impact support strategies focused on frequent, targeted feedback in educators’ development areas.

·         Digital content leads will help educators build their instructional technology knowledge so more students have access to technology that helps improve their academic outcomes.

·         Instructional strategy leads will introduce new instructional strategies into schools to help educators meet their learning needs and help schools meet their academic goals.

·         Community partnership leads will help students gain access to services designed to improve their physical and mental health, giving them a greater chance at academic success.

·         Instructional culture leads will help schools build a philosophy around culture, discipline and culturally responsive teaching.

Schools across Delaware were invited to participate in the teacher leader pilot. A nine-member committee representing educators, administrators and external partners selected eight schools and those schools created selection committees that designed a rigorous, multi-stage process to meet their schools’ needs and choose the 19 teacher leaders.

Each school is identifying a set of goals that teacher leaders will work toward. This summer, teacher leaders and school leaders came together to meet other pilot participants, plan pilot implementation for their schools, and learn more about teacher leadership to ensure a successful launch this fall.

“Being a novice teacher can be overwhelming at first, especially when it comes to lesson planning and classroom management. That’s why we want to use this new position to target support for our novice teachers in these areas,” said Kirsten Belair, who will work as an instructional practice lead at Odyssey Charter School.

The 2016-17 teacher leaders are:

 

·         Amanda Alexander, instructional culture, Towne Point Elementary (Capital School District)

·         Colleen Barrett, digital content, Middletown High School (Appoquinimink School District)

·         Chelsea Baxter, instructional culture, Kuumba Academy (Charter)

·         Kirsten Belair, instructional practice, Odyssey Charter School (Charter)

·         Lindsay Bouvy, instructional practice, Appoquinimink High School (Appoquinimink School District)

·         Michelle Duke, instructional practice, Towne Point Elementary (Capital School District)

·         Carrie Howe, community partnerships, MOT Charter School (Charter)

·         Melanie Fauvelle, digital content, Appoquinimink High School (Appoquinimink School District)

·         Michele Johnson, instructional practice, Towne Point Elementary (Capital School District)

·         Kris King, instructional practice, Cedar Lane Elementary (Appoquinimink School District)

·         Heather Patricco, instructional practice, Cedar Lane Elementary (Appoquinimink School District)

·         Heather Mann, instructional practice, East Dover Elementary (Capital School District)

·         Shana Noll, instructional practice, MOT Charter School (Charter)

·         Crystal Samuels, digital content, Middletown High School (Appoquinimink School District)

·         Katharine Sawyer, instructional practice, Middletown High School (Appoquinimink School District)

·         Krista Seifert, instructional culture, East Dover Elementary (Capital School District)

·         John Tanner, instructional practice, Appoquinimink High School (Appoquinimink School District)

·         Kady Taylor, instructional strategy (K-8 reading), Kuumba Academy (Charter)

·         Tamara Walker, instructional strategy (K-8 math), Kuumba Academy (Charter)

Alison May

alison.may@doe.k12.de.us
(302) 735-4006

Last May, educators were “encouraged” to apply for this program.  The Teacher Leader Effectiveness Unit at the Delaware DOE issued an overview of the program along with applications and descriptions of the different categories teachers could apply for:

Based on all of these descriptions, the teachers selected into this program would receive a stipend ranging from $5000-$6000 depending on whether or not the school is a “high-needs” school.  Assuming all of the schools are “high-needs”, that would give each teacher a stipend of $6000.  With nineteen teachers selected, that is a total of $114,000.  So my question would be where the other $684,000 allocated for this program is going to.  I emailed the DOE about this earlier this afternoon.

This program spun out of the Committee to Advance Educator Compension & Careers Committee which spun out of the 147th General Assembly and Senate Bill 254.  In the beginning of this committee, Delaware teachers were outraged because the vendor for the committee, The New Teacher Project (TNTP), suggested Smarter Balanced scores should determine if a teacher could become a teacher leader.  Eventually, the committee ran out of time and the committee was extended through House Joint Resolution #7 in the 148th General Assembly.  The group was led by an employee in Governor Markell’s office named Ryan Fennerty.  This name may sound familiar to some readers.  Another member of the committee, Lindsay O’Mara, former wife of Colin O’Mara, is engaged to Fennerty.  She also worked in Governor Markell’s office as his education policy advisor before leaving last winter to get a job at the United States Dept. of Education.  Delaware or Peyton Place?  You decide!  But I digress…

If you look at the minutes for this committee, the last three meetings have no minutes.  This is where the final votes would be shown on what became today’s announcement by the Delaware DOE.  These last three meetings were held on 5/11/15, 1/29/16 and 4/22/16.  The Delaware DOE obviously jumped the gun on this a bit because Capital’s board discussed their two schools applying for this on April 20th, two days before the final vote took place.  I did email the chair of the CAECC, Dr. Teri Quinn Gray, as well as Donna Johnson, the legislators on the committee, and Dr. Godowsky for a status on these minutes earlier today.  There was also an Educator Work Group as a subset of this committee, and this section of the CAECC website has NO minutes at all for the four meetings that were held between November 2015 to January 2016.  So much for transparency in Delaware.

This committee had a lot of familiar faces.  The heads of the Senate and House Education Committees for the 147th General Assembly were on it, Senator David Sokola and former State Rep. Darryl Scott.  Senator Brian Pettyjohn and State Rep. Joe Miro rounded out the legislative portion of the committee from the other side of the aisle.  State Rep. Kim Williams replaced Scott when he opted not to run again in the 148th General Assembly.  The Delaware State Education Association, Dr. Mark Holodick (Superintendent of Brandywine School District), and eventually, the Delaware Association of School Administrators had a seat at the table.  On the state financial side of things, Meghan Brennan represented the Office of Management and Budget and Controller General Michael Morton from his office.  It is important to note there were no actual teachers on the main committee. 

I’ve heard tales from these meetings and how DSEA fought against SBAC scores tying into these Teacher Leader creations.  I actually wrote about how teachers went to a Town Hall based on this at the Bear Public Library and many weren’t allowed entrance because the library had too many people.  But I can’t find the article.  But needless to say, teachers were VERY pissed off about this.

I have to wonder how many applications were received by the Delaware DOE for this and how many different districts or charters applied.  And yet, we only have two districts and three charters represented in this pilot program.  Appoquinimink is pretty much a grant whore and applies for every grant under the sun (and usually gets it) and is a proud member of BRINC and The Leader In Me program, Capital is an unknown quantity: heavily involved in The Leader In Me, just joined BRINC (the digital blended learning consortium representing 8-9 districts in Delaware), and now this program, Kuumba is one of the darling charters loved by the DOE, the Delaware Charter Schools Network and several legislators, MOT Charter School is one of the Smarter Balanced superstars with high scores (take a look at their demographics), and Odyssey Charter School is… I don’t know what they are.  They have been under my radar for a long time, but I have a sneaky feeling that will change in the coming months.

Now, to be fair, I don’t think every teacher involved with these type of things are evil or the Judas Iscariot of the Delaware teaching profession.  I think they are regular teachers who want to do more but don’t want to necessarily go into administrative roles.  They jump on things like this, or the Leader In Me program, or the Rodel Teacher Council, in an honest intention of diversifying their resume and their professional career path.  But, with that being said, I don’t trust Rodel, or a DOE sponsored program, or the Leader In Me.  I think a lot of them are not in it for kids and teachers and have bigger plans.  And behind all of this, we have Smiling Jack, leading the pep rally behind this latest pilot program.  But what I do take extreme offense to is the arrogance of people who knew 1) the CAECC had not approved the program when applications went out, and 2) the General Assembly had not approved the funding for the program before applications went out.

In the grand scheme of things, $800,000 for a Teacher Leader Pilot Program is not that much money considering the state spends a third of it’s budget on education.  But the danger is when it is labeled a success and the funds no longer flow freely from the state in the form of grants.  In a year or three, when the local school districts are asked to pick up a share and they jump on it because they don’t want to disrupt the program, that is when we will find out the true cost of a program like this.  And as we have more teachers jumping to become a Teacher Leader, spending less time in the classroom with less instruction they are giving students, what happens to the kids?  I believe the Capital board members should have pushed harder against having their two schools apply.  There were no firm answers about what to do with the vast amount of substitute teachers needed to make up for these teachers being out of the classroom.  Not only do you have the teacher’s salary, but you also have an ever-growing number of substitute teacher wages that the districts will  have to eat.  I truly don’t think it is a wise idea to have seasoned teachers out of the classroom up to half the day.  If they want to do this stuff outside of school hours, that is one thing.  But our students deserve better than to have half a teacher.

Oh yeah, there is just one more tiny, itty-bitty, little thing with all this.  On April 21st, Angeline Rivello, the Chief of the Teacher/Leader Effectiveness Unit and also an Assistant Secretary at the Delaware DOE, sent out an email to the Selection Committee of the Teacher Leader Pilot program.  I was able to get this email.  And it is a doozy of an email.

How does a member of the Selection Committee manage to get selected for this program?  Can you answer that for me Michele Johnson?  Why do I constantly see the names of the aforementioned Michele Johnson, Robyn Howton and Jennifer Nauman attached to so much Rodel/Vision stuff and now this selection committee?  Under whose authority did you allow schools to apply for this before any decision was made granting the authority by legislative decree to a public committee or before the funds were even appropriated for this program?  Can you answer that for me Angeline Rivello?  Or do you answer to Donna Johnson?  Because there is a crystal clear reason she was cc’ed on this email.  Who chose the selection committee for a program that, once again, wasn’t even approved?  Your email said there was a chance to get a “wide diversity” of schools but we have only one Kent Country district, one New Castle County district, and three New Castle charters.  How did that work out?  What was the rubric for scoring applications?  How many applications were received?  Did the selection committee read every single application or what it divvied up among the selection committee?

I think it is past time the DOE fessed up on their sneakiness and manipulation. Secretary Godowsky PROMISED a greater degree of transparency and open communication coming from this Department, and all I see are more lies, secret agendas, emails to select individuals with no public awareness, funds committed to things before they are even approved, focus groups or special meetings with no public notice, no minutes provided for certain things, or even links to certain groups (hello Competency-Based Learning Guiding Coalition).  Meanwhile, you allow charters and districts to allocate money wherever they want with no true oversight, browbeat the auditor’s office until a good woman is put on leave while charters get away with financial murder, manipulate the ESSA regulatory process by claiming to have true stakeholder input when it is really just school administrators and lobbyists, force a school report card scheme on our schools without any regulatory authority to impose it, and have our students take a test that judges everything and the students don’t even take the test.  Secretary Godowsky, I don’t care what anyone says, you are a HORRIBLE Secretary of Education.  This kind of crap makes even Mark Murphy look okay in comparison.  The rot in YOUR Department still exists, more than ever.  This happened under YOUR watch.  I hope the pieces of silver from Rodel and Markell were worth it… 

Angeline Rivello, when I announced Chris Ruszkowski was leaving the DOE, a lot of teachers in this state reached out to me and they expressed how they wanted to give you a chance and hoped the stink from the TLEU would disappear.  It is stronger then ever. 

Donna Johnson, this just once again proves what I have always known: you don’t believe in transparency and you are well aware of everything that goes on in the Townsend Building.  Does your beloved State Board know what you know?  How the hell are you even still employed there?  All of you are liars, plain and simple.  There is no other justification for your actions. 

Governor Markell, you tricked us again. You are a mastermind at turning something that looks good on the surface into a tangled web of lies and deception. If I had my way, I would impeach you even though you have less than five months in office.

If those in Delaware thought maybe I would temper things down eventually, my commitment to exposure in this state has NEVER been stronger.  Every single day I see the corruption and fraud going on in our state.  This isn’t a democracy.  We have the most corrupt and vile state government in the country.  None of this is about our kids.  It is about power, position, and money.  You all need to start coming clean before I find out about it.  Because if you think only a few Delaware teachers and parents read this blog, you are VERY wrong.  You have no idea, no one does, who is watching all of you.  Recording every single thing I come out with, just building a very large and thick file.

And I do have a final item to throw out there.  How can three contracts, which I can only assume may play into the total of $800,000 for Section 362is program which answers some of my questions for the funds involved in this sham, be signed on the following dates: 4/19/16, 4/21/16, 4/26/16, 5/2/16, 5/4/16, 5/10/16, 5/11/16, and 5/23/16?  If these are for this program, and the General Assembly had not approved the funds for this program, how can you have contracts starting before the Joint Finance Committee even released their budget?  Or should I assume the Rodel Foundation will be the one training these teacher leaders?  With funds from the Vision Coalition?  Or should I say Schools That Lead?  Because when I look up Schools That Lead’s IRS 990 tax forms, it comes up with 990s for 2012, 2013, and 2014.  Since Schools That Lead wasn’t really around then, care to take a guess what company comes up?  The Vision Network.  And if this description of their purpose doesn’t fit the bill for this Teacher Leader Pilot, I don’t know what does:

VisionIRS9902014

Care to take a close look at who Schools That Lead’s “partners” are?  Just look at this.  And if you aren’t aware of the backbone behind the Vision Coalition’s Student Success 2025, you need to take a look at this.  The Vision Coalition wants us to be “rethinking roles and responsibilities” and that includes teacher leaders and their compensation levels.  Take a look at the contracts above with Teach For America, University of Delaware and Supporting School Success.  Sound familiar based on all this?  Even more fascinating, even though Delaware has paid millions of dollars to the Rodel/Vision education incorporated enterprise, we never see any contracts with them listed on the awarded vendors portion of the state contracts website.  I would have to imagine this contract could land them anywhere from $500,000-$600,000.  Would that be a good guess Dr. Paul Herdman?  With an address at 100 W. 10th St. in Wilmington, DE, it stands to reason Rodel is somehow going to profit off this.

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When I first started digging into education stuff in Delaware, I remember reading an article on Kilroy’s where he wrote about talking with Jack Markell in 2008.  Kilroy wanted to support him, and he asked Markell flat-out if he was going to stop the spread of Rodel into Delaware education to which Markell said he would.  Jack lied Kilroy.  He lied to all of us.  Rodel runs the education show in Delaware.  They have for 12 years.  Every single decision made in Delaware education has been at the behest of the Rodel Foundation since Jack Markell took office.  Together with their order-takers at the Delaware DOE, the State Board of Education, the Delaware Charter Schools Network, the Delaware Business Roundtable, the Christina Cultural Arts Center, Governor Markell’s office, and the Wilmington Metropolitan Urban League, they have single-handedly turned Delaware education into a billion dollar corporation.  And our kids lose more and more every single day.  Because their minions have infiltrated every charter, every district, every state agency, and even our General Assembly.  We gave them this power.  Now, it is time to take it all back.

Markell’s Former Girl Friday Lindsay O’Mara’s Big Blog Post On The US DOE Website

Wow! Everyone is blogging these days!  Even former Education Policy Advisors for Delaware Governor Jack Markell.  Lindsay O’Mara, who left Governor Markell’s administration earlier this year, is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for State and Local Engagement at the United States Department of Education.  What do we call that title?  DASSLE?  But I digress…

I don’t see this blog post, put up earlier today, as a coincidence.  Her boss got shellacked by the Education and the Workforce Committee earlier today.  Poor John King, in the eternal hot seat with those not willing to put up with his malarkey.

My favorite Lindsay story to tell is from the Delaware House Education Committee meeting on our opt out bill, House Bill 50.  It is a well-known fact that you don’t just go up to legislators during a hearing, even if it a Delaware Education Committee meeting and the DOE just openly sits at legislators’ desks.  Especially when they are just about to vote on whether or not they will release the bill from committee.  But there’s Lindsay, running over to State Rep. Mike Ramone who was the swing vote on the bill.  Trying to whisper something to Ramone.  The Chair, State Rep. Earl Jaques, told Lindsay she couldn’t do that.  She skirts away like she had absolutely no idea she shouldn’t.  Yeah, right!  The committee released the bill on the way to an eventual veto by her boss, but Lindsay kept many advocates for the bill (myself included) pretty busy in the Spring of 2015!

A View from the Field: Building Comprehensive ESSA Stakeholder Engagement

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which replaced No Child Left Behind and reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, presents an opportunity to continue making progress towards educational equity and excellence for all. For the first time, the reauthorization of the nation’s defining elementary and secondary education law explicitly supports a preschool to college- and career-readiness vision for America’s students. It also creates the flexibility for states, districts, and educators to reclaim the promise of a quality, well-rounded education for every student while maintaining the protections that ensure our commitment to every child — particularly by identifying and reporting the academic progress of all of our students and by guaranteeing meaningful action is taken in our lowest performing schools and school with low performance among subgroups of students.

To realize this promise, states should engage meaningfully with a wide range of stakeholders to create a common vision of educational opportunity and accountability. This engagement can take many forms and still be successful. Regardless of the form, however, to be meaningful it must be wide-spread, inclusive, ongoing, and characterized by true collaboration. For the law to work we need all those who have a stake in our education system to have a seat at the table as states are making their plans.

While many states are still contemplating how to move forward, several have launched stakeholder engagement processes to start determining how to develop the best education systems for students in their states, and to explore the new flexibilities and opportunities within ESSA. Some have committees chaired by senior state officials working to develop plans for accountability systems, school interventions, and assessment systems, among other elements of the law.   Others have solicited input more broadly and are taking a grass-roots approach to beginning their planning.

Although each state will ultimately pursue an engagement strategy that works for its local context, the work of others, and the guidance and tools that national education organizations have created for state and local government officials and stakeholders, may prove useful in devising those strategies. Here are a few examples of states and their unique approaches:

  • There is grassroots engagement afoot in Pennsylvania, where Education Secretary Rivera has held a series of stakeholder sessions at the local level, creating working groups focusing on core issues of the law – e.g. accountability and assessment – to better allow citizens throughout the Commonwealth to engage on specific issues within the ESSA law. These working groups are comprised of a wide array of stakeholders including teachers, principals, community based organizations, education non-profits, businesses and higher education institutions.
  • Strong executive leadership is the highlight of Alabama’s outreach strategy, where the Governor established a committee through an executive order to lead the development of the ESSA state plan. This ESSA Implementation Committee includes representatives from across the education community, including parents, educators, superintendents, school board members, school leaders, state Department of Education officials, and education policy advocates. In addition to the meetings of the committee itself, the chair and vice chair are holding subcommittee meetings on a variety of topics (including accountability, early learning, and standards and assessments), and plan to host public forums so local leaders and members of the public have an opportunity to weigh in on the development of the state plan. A full list of committee members, along with meeting dates, times, and locations, is available here. The Committee is also soliciting feedback and comments from the general public through an online webform.
  • The Colorado Department of Education created an ESSA working group and in May led listening sessions in different regions of the state to gather input from stakeholders such as parents and teachers. The ESSA working group committees will utilize this information from the sessions to develop the state plan that will ultimately be approved by the Colorado State Board of Education.

As states continue to refine their plans it is important that citizens, civil rights groups, parents, educators and many more stakeholders become involved in the state and local level conversations on how to best implement ESSA both initially and in the months and years to come. Here are some highlights of the tools national organizations have created to help their members create a thoughtful and inclusive engagement plan:

We look forward to supporting state and local leaders as they work to engage their constituents in developing high quality implementation plans that provide every student with a high quality world class education. For additional information, please read Secretary King’s Dear Colleague Letter to state and local leaders that highlights additional engagement materials developed by the U.S. Department of Education.

Lindsay O’Mara is Deputy Assistant Secretary for State and Local Engagement at the U.S. Department of Education.

Now I don’t expect you to read most of the above links.  You can.  But a lot of it is going to be corporate education reform mumbo-jumbo.  Or it is corporate education reform mumb0-jumbo presented by organizations who have been brainwashed because of the mumbo-jumbo.

I wonder why she didn’t mention Delaware?  Oh yeah, we don’t have any ESSA stakeholder groups.  Just a clueless DOE and an even more clueless State Board of Education who will just take John King’s illegal regulations as law and implement them in Delaware while our crooked Governor sits back and goes cha-ching for all his buddies in Education Inc. while the students, teachers, parents, and schools suffer even more with high-stakes tests that offer nothing of meaning to anyone but the Rodel Foundation sure does love them!

We miss you in Delaware Lindsay!  Legislative Hall hasn’t been the same without you!

Complete US DOE FOIA Showing Delaware DOE & US DOE Emails

On December 23rd, 2015, I found letters sent from the United States Department of Education sent to all the state DOEs about potential opt out penalties for the 2015-2016 year if schools went below the 95% participation rate.  In response, I sent a very detailed Freedom of Information Act request to the US DOE.  For the first time, you can view the entire response in its entirety.  I wrote an article based on some key parts of the US DOE FOIA response last month.

Julie Glasier is the main contact person for Delaware at the US DOE.  Many of these emails are in response to the Delaware School Success Framework which was met with stiff resistance last fall because of the opt out penalties against schools.  Keep in mind that the US DOE put Delaware’s ESEA Flexibility Waiver Request in this set of emails twice (since I asked for all attachments), but there are key and vital emails that appear between those and after.

While the Monique Chism email below doesn’t really delve into anything Delaware specific, it is very interesting to see who is on the US DOE’s Ed Title I ListServ.  These are emails that automatically go out to any of the participants who request to be on the list.  There are several redactions based on emails going to gmail or yahoo accounts.  As well, there are several emails going to outside education companies.

Of note in the below email between Penny Schwinn and Julie Glasier is the timing.  Penny Schwinn’s last day at the Delaware DOE was January 6th…

I found the next set of emails to be very interesting.  These are between Lindsay O’Mara and Ann Whalen:

Ann Whalen Elementary and Secondary Education Senior Advisor to the Secretary, Delegated the Duties of the Assistant Secretary of Elementary and Secondary Education
Lindsay O’Mara Communications and Outreach Deputy Assistant Secretary for State and Local Engagement

Lindsay O’Mara was the former Education Policy Advisor for Delaware Governor Jack Markell.  She obtained a job at the US DOE, but I wasn’t aware of her title there until I just looked now.  This link shows O’Mara was a political appointee but does not show who appointed her.  What makes this email exchange very interesting is the redacted information.  Was O’Mara sending work-related emails through a personal email account?  Or was this part of her interview process with US DOE?  If it was the latter, why would they include that in a FOIA request since it would have been a personal nature?  If not, how many other state employees are conducting state business through personal emails?  I have seen several Delaware DOE FOIA responses that don’t show any emails other than the state email address.  Would they even know if their employees are using outside emails to conduct state business?

There you have it!  There are little easter eggs all over these emails.  If you see anything I haven’t touched on in the previous article linked above or this one, please let me know!  Some takeaways I got from this is the fact there were NO emails sent from Arne Duncan, John King, Governor Markell, Mark Murphy or Secretary Godowsky.

I did find an official announcement from US DOE this morning regarding Lindsay O’Mara’s new job at US DOE:

USDOELindsayOMara

Meghan Wallace Is Governor Markell’s New Education Policy Advisor

MeghanWallace

Governor Markell picked a new Education Policy Advisor.  This was announced today by State Rep. Earl Jaques at the House Education Committee.  Markell’s former Education Policy Advisor, Lindsay O’Mara, recently left the position and is now at the United States Department of Education.

Wallace’s background with education is quite extensive.  She attended the University of Delaware receiving a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science concentrating on Women’s Studies.  At George Mason University, she attained a Masters Degree in education concentrating on special education.  During her time at George Mason, she also taught special education in D.C.  Since May of 2013, she was a legislative aide at Legislative Hall, serving State Representatives such as Kim Williams, Earl Jaques, and Helene Keeley.

Wallace will serve as the Governor’s Education Policy Advisor until the end of his second term in January of 2017.  Initial sources who wished to remain anonymous had informed me the position would be divvied up among different Delaware Department of Education employees, but it looks like Governor Markell may have changed his mind.

Wallace also served on the Wilmington Education Advisory Committee, the precursor to the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission.  Legislative Aides can and do move up in Delaware Government.  Former legislative aide David Bentz was elected as a State Representative last fall when State Rep. Michael Barbieri stepped down.

Congratulations to Meghan Wallace.  I have met her quite a few times and she is very personable and intelligent.

The O’Mara-Markell-Coach-Quinn Gray-Godowsky Scandal

This was originally on the Delaware blog Children & Educators First yesterday:

Earlier this week, C&E 1st posed the question:  What’s Lindsey O’Mara got to do with it? Regarding the WEIC Commission, the State Board of Education, Priority Plans, and the Christina School District.

To get to the answer, I’ve scribed together several posts from Exceptional Delaware by Kevin Ohlandt. I give full credit to Kevin for ferreting out and documenting meeting after meeting related to the Gov and all his pawns.  What I have tried to do is give the reader a sense that not one event is singular to the WEIC drama, not one event is special, and not one is organic.  These meetings, who had what info, who stumbled, this was all pre-ordained by our self-aggrandizing Gov. Markell and his entitled political hacks.

Here’s your answer:

The Deal – https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/tag/the-deal/

According to Fred Polaski, the Christina Board of Education President, he and Superintendent Freeman Williams met with Lindsey O’Mara, the education advisor for Governor Markell, in hashing out an agreement over the three priority schools in their district.  The Delaware Department of Education was there at the beginning of the meeting, and left soon after.  More details as they emerge…
I’m not sure if this was at this meeting, before, or after, but apparently DOE Officer of Accountability Penny Schwinn told Christina she already has three assistant principals already in mind for the three priority schools during the “transition”.
The Christina Board is getting ready to vote on the decision to follow this plan, developed not by Christina and the DOE, but Christina and Governor Markell’s office.
The Christina Board passed the Markell/DOE plan (still waiting to find out whose plan it was), by a 4-1-2 vote.  For those keeping track, the yes votes belonged to John Young, Elizabeth Paige, David Ressler and Fred Polaski.  Harrie Minnehan voted no, and George Evans and Shirley Saffer abstained.  The board also voted unanimously for a second referendum on May 27th.


This was buried in a blogpost last March on ExceptionalDelaware – a post that garnered no comments (rare!) However, this meeting has a far reaching impact. Let’s start with the attendees – O’Mara, representing the Governor, Penny Schwinn, on behalf of DOE, Superintendent Williams and Board Member Fred Polaski, for the Christina School District.  Notably, Coach Murphy was absent.  It’s been rumored that the Gov. ordered Murphy to stand down and lay low. You can find the plans that this covert team hammered out here:

To read the rest of this very interesting article, go here: http://elizabethscheinberg.blogspot.com/2016/02/omara-markell-coach-quinngrey-godowski.html

Godowsky Officially Announces Lindsay O’Mara’s Exit From Markell’s Administration

dovertodc

I forgot to mention this yesterday.  Delaware Secretary of Education Dr. Steven Godowsky officially announced Lindsay O’Mara resigned from her position as Governor Markell’s Education Policy Advisor.  Something I announced two and a half weeks ago.  Godowsky also said she took a position at the United States Department of Education.   O’Mara held the position since 2013 in Governor Markell’s administration.  The question now becomes who, if anyone, will take her place.  I’ve heard different scenarios since I first posted the story but nothing official.

The Markell administration revolving door is open again!  With Lindsay at the US DOE, does this add more weight to Jack showing up there if Hillary becomes President?

Education Funding Improvement Commission Meeting #4 At 9:30am This Morning At DOE In Dover

The Senate Joint Resolution #4 Education Funding Improvement Commission is having their fourth meeting this morning at the Delaware Department of Education building in Dover.  The meeting will be held in the Cabinet room, where the State Board of Education holds their meetings.  There is one item on the agenda that looks very interesting.  State Rep. Paul Baumbach and the DOE’s David Blowman will be giving a presentation on weighted funding.  I’m not sure how I feel about this.  I was engaged in a Facebook conversation about this last night where others were comparing it to salary caps on baseball or football teams.

EFICMeeting#4Agenda

What is very curious though is the fact that Lindsay O’Mara, Governor Markell’s Education Policy Advisor created the pdf of the agenda that shows up on the Delaware Public Meeting Calendar.  Who is running this show?  With this timeline with the committee ending in May, that gives a legislator enough time to draft up a quick bill to implement the findings and get it through the General Assembly by the end of June.  Can you say “pre-determined”?

It’s funny how the State Board is giving the Wilmington Education Funding Improvement Commission a hard time.  They claimed WEIC’s proposals could clash with this task force.  I asked about this sort of thing happening at the very first WEIC meeting in September.  Dan Rich said all of this, including the Vision Coalition’s Student Success 2025 and the Statewide Review of Educational Opportunities were all sort of planned to work in conjunction with each other.  Meanwhile, WEIC is having their second “post State Board of Education vote of no action” meeting tomorrow night at 5:30pm at the Community Education Building in Wilmington at 5:30pm.  Is this when the the transparency promised by WEIC takes a back seat while the commission makes severe changes to the plan to satisfy the State Board of Education?  Or was this also pre-determined?  Or am I a conspiracy theorist like a certain Charter School Board President/Head of the Delaware GOP recently told me?

Assessment Inventory Task Force Meeting Tonight, Don’t Opt Out Of This One!!!!

I strongly encourage everyone in Delaware to go to the Assessment Inventory Task Force meeting tonight at the Delaware Dept. of Education Townsend Building in Dover at 5:00pm.  The transparency surrounding this task force has been horrible.  When Senate Joint Resolution #2 was discussed during the Senate Education Committee meeting last June, the audience was told these would be public meetings with full transparency.  We are now seeing that isn’t the case at all.  I’m really not sure where the minutes are for this because there are none.  We can thank Senator David Sokola for this.  Tonight’s meeting is the third meeting and no minutes have been listed on the SJR #2 page.  You would think the DOE would also put minutes for this group on their website since it was their idea anyways, but no.  Unless you go to these meetings, we have no idea what they are doing.

For those thinking “Why should I go?  It’s not like they care about my input anyways!”, you are probably right.  But we need all eyes on this.  When asked if the Smarter Balanced Assessment would be a part of this conversation, Governor Markell’s Education Policy Advisor Lindsay O’Mara said:

“Absolutely, yes, all assessments will be the subject of discussion.  We were all invited together to have a discussion about assessments.  Hopefully those discussions will be grounded in the reality of the cycle of state legal requirements around assessments.  But were happy to have any conversation around any assessment that any member of this group would put on the table.”

Time to live up to that promise Lindsay!  If we want this task force to Achieve it’s original promise, then we need to start making sure it is wide open to all.

Updated 15 minutes later.  The minutes for the second meeting are out there, but I could only find them on the Delaware Public Meeting Calendar in draft form:

So I ask again: where is the conversation about Smarter Balanced being put on the table?  Or is the Smarter Balanced the power brokers behind this that want to eat up all the other assessments unless they support SBAC?  And I see a whole let of Achieve Inc. mentions in these minutes.  Speaking of power brokers…

While Vision Coalition & WEIC Plan Funding, EFIC Meets Today To Discuss Funding As Well

SJR4EFIC

Delaware, the home of multiple groups working on the same issues at the same time.  Today, the Senate Joint Resolution #4 Education Funding Improvement Commission is meeting for the third time at the Bear Library.  There are a lot of interesting names in this room.  Former State Rep. Darryl Scott, State Rep. Ruth Briggs-King, Governor Markell’s Education Policy Advisor Lindsay O’Mara (who is probably having one hell of a morning), Executive Director of the State Board of Education Donna Johnson, State Board of Education member Barbara Rutt and more.  I see Senator Sokola’s aide, Tanner Polce.  I don’t see State Rep. Earl Jaques either, I suppose his aide is there as well.

It will be interesting to see what this group comes up with, along with Rodel The Vision Coalition.  WEIC’s funding will be subject to the Governor’s submitted budget at the end of January.  The one that will be submitted AFTER the State Board of Education votes on the plan.  To read more about the SJR #4 group, please read this.

SJR4

 

An Open Challenge To Governor Markell, Secretary Godowsky & DOE Regarding Opt-Out

I just sent Governor Markell and the DOE an email with a request for the final Accountability Framework Working Group meeting on Tuesday at 10am.  Anything less than this will not be sufficient for myself and the growing number of parents who will exercise their parental rights to opt their child out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment.

From: Kevin Ohlandt <kevino3670@yahoo.com>
To:
Godowsky Steven (K12) <steven.godowsky@doe.k12.de.us>; Schwinn Penny <penny.schwinn@doe.k12.de.us>; Reyna Ryan <ryan.reyna@doe.k12.de.us>; Markell Jack <jack.markell@state.de.us>; O’Mara Lindsay (Governor) <lindsay.omara@state.de.us>
Sent:
Friday, November 13, 2015 9:53 AM
Subject:
AFWG Meeting on 11/17

Good Morning Dr. Godowsky, Dr. Schwinn and Mr. Reyna,
I understand there is to be another Accountability Framework Working Group on 11/17/15 at 10am in the Cabinet Room at the Townshend Building in Dover.  I have to admit I was taken aback at Dr. Godowsky’s suggestion last week at the Delaware State Board of Education Retreat that he was not going to accept the AFWG’s recommendations for the Delaware School Success Framework.
What I am asking of the three of you for Tuesday’s meetings is actual documentation, on United States Department of Education letterhead, why Delaware would have to impose the harsh opt-out penalties based on US Congressionally approved laws and regulations.  I’m sorry, but hearing from Dr. Schwinn vocally about what US DOE requires is not enough.  I want to see, in writing, why this is necessary.  Vague letters from an employee no longer at US DOE, and non-regulatory guidance from US DOE is not sufficient.  Not for something this big.  The letter from US DOE provided to then Secretary Murphy places the burden of opt-out on schools, meaning they cannot pick students to opt out.  The law absolutely says nothing in regards to parental opt-out.  While I agree schools should not make that choice as some have done in the past, it is fundamentally, morally, and legally wrong to infer that parents can not opt their child out of the state assessment.
I am writing this on behalf of all the parents who have either already opted their child out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment, those who will be doing so, and those who have intimidation and what amounts to bullying tactics perpetrated on them by schools in Delaware who are not honoring their parental rights which are the underpinnings of our society.  Parents should not live in fear about consequences for a school if they choose to exercise their fundamental and Constitutional rights, as established by the U.S. Supreme Court on many occasions.
If this is a mandate from Delaware Governor Jack Markell, I would challenge him to come to this meeting in person to make clear his justification and reasoning for this. If he is unable to attend, then I would like him to craft a letter on State of Delaware Governor letterhead with a legal basis for this mandate.
To not honor parental rights and to punish schools for a parental decision is a slap in the face to parents and schools.  If the intention is to punish schools for parental decisions, this is abhorrent and a disgrace.
Thank you,
Kevin Ohlandt,
on behalf of the Opt-Out Parents of Delaware

Secretary Godowsky Gives Lame Response To Shutting Down Delaware Met

This morning, after hearing even more things going on at Delaware Met, I took a drastic step and emailed Delaware Secretary of Education Dr. Steven Godowsky and pleaded with him to close Delaware Met down for good.  I also cc:ed Governor Markell, his education policy advisor Lindsay O’Mara, Attorney General Matt Denn, other leaders at the DOE, and every single legislator in the 148th General Assembly.  His response was very shocking given the nature of the email.  The responses I got from legislators had more meat than what Godowsky had.


From: Kevin Ohlandt [mailto:kevino3670@yahoo.com]
Sent: Tuesday, November 10, 2015 10:39 AM
To: Godowsky Steven <Steven.Godowsky@doe.k12.de.us>
Cc: Blowman David <david.blowman@DOE.K12.DE.US>; Nagourney Jennifer <Jennifer.Nagourney@doe.k12.de.us>; Haberstroh Susan Keene <susan.haberstroh@doe.k12.de.us>; May Alison <alison.may@doe.k12.de.us>; Markell Jack <jack.markell@state.de.us>; Denn Matthew <matthew.denn@state.de.us>; Williams Kimberly <kimberly.williams@state.de.us>; Kowalko John <john.kowalko@state.de.us>; Matthews Sean <sean.matthews@state.de.us>; Lynn Sean M <sean.lynn@state.de.us>; Baumbach Paul <paul.baumbach@state.de.us>; Bennett Andria <andria.bennett@state.de.us>; Schwartzkopf Peter <peter.schwartzkopf@state.de.us>; Jaques, Jr Earl <earl.jaques@state.de.us>; Potter, Jr Charles <charles.potter@state.de.us>; Bolden StephanieT <stephaniet.bolden@state.de.us>; Paradee Trey <trey.paradee@state.de.us>; Keeley Helene <helene.keeley@state.de.us>; Brady Gerald <gerald.brady@state.de.us>; Smith Melanie G <melanie.g.smith@state.de.us>; Heffernan Debra <debra.heffernan@state.de.us>; Short Bryon <bryon.short@state.de.us>; Short Daniel <daniel.short@state.de.us>; Johnson Quinton <quinton.johnson@state.de.us>; Johnson JJ <jj.johnson@state.de.us>; Hensley Kevin S <kevin.hensley@state.de.us>; jeff.spiegelman@state.de.us; Hudson Deborah <deborah.hudson@state.de.us>; Mitchell John L <john.l.mitchell@state.de.us>; Longhurst Valerie <valerie.longhurst@state.de.us>; Bentz David <david.bentz@state.de.us>; Mulrooney Michael <michael.mulrooney@state.de.us>; Smyk Steve <steve.smyk@state.de.us>; Ramone Michael <michael.ramone@state.de.us>; Miro Joseph <joseph.miro@state.de.us>; Osienski Edward <edward.osienski@state.de.us>; Viola John <john.viola@state.de.us>; Carson William <william.carson@state.de.us>; Outten Bobby <bobby.outten@state.de.us>; Peterman Jack <harold.peterman@state.de.us>; Sokola David <david.sokola@state.de.us>; Townsend Bryan <bryan.townsend@state.de.us>; Yearick Lyndon D <lyndon.yearick@state.de.us>; Wilson David L <david.l.wilson@state.de.us>; Kenton Harvey <harvey.kenton@state.de.us>; BriggsKing Ruth <ruth.briggsking@state.de.us>; Gray Ronald <ronald.gray@state.de.us>; Dukes Timothy <timothy.dukes@state.de.us>; Collins Richard G <richard.g.collins@state.de.us>; McDowell Harris <harris.mcdowell@state.de.us>; Henry Margaret Rose <margaretrose.henry@state.de.us>; Marshall Robert <robert.marshall@state.de.us>; Lavelle Greg <greg.lavelle@state.de.us>; Cloutier Catherine <catherine.cloutier@state.de.us>; Lopez Ernesto B <ernesto.lopez@state.de.us>; Blevins Patricia <patricia.blevins@state.de.us>; Peterson Karen <karen.peterson@state.de.us>; Hall-Long Bethany <bethany.hall-long@state.de.us>; Poore Nicole <nicole.poore@state.de.us>; Pettyjohn Brian <brian.pettyjohn@state.de.us>; McBride David <david.mcbride@state.de.us>; Ennis Bruce <bruce.ennis@state.de.us>; Lawson Dave <dave.lawson@state.de.us>; Colin J. Bonini <senator-colin@prodigy.net>; Bushweller Brian <brian.bushweller@state.de.us>; Simpson Gary <gary.simpson@state.de.us>; Hocker Gerald <gerald.hocker@state.de.us>; Richardson Bryant L <bryant.richardson@state.de.us>; O’Mara Lindsay <lindsay.omara@state.de.us>
Subject: Delaware Met

Dr. Godowsky,

I know we have been at odds over the whole Delaware School Success Framework, but I implore the Department to act immediately with regards to The Delaware Met.  This place is an obvious danger to students and staff, and the DOE needs to shut it down immediately.  The issues there are getting worse, and the DOE needs to act now.  Not in December at a State Board of Education meeting, and not at the end of the year should their charter be revoked.  I completely understand this is a very delicate situation, but student and staff safety need to come first.  With all the information I have heard, I believe there to be a clear and present danger in that school.

I am calling for others to reach out to you on this as well.

Thank you,

Kevin Ohlandt


Here I am, reaching out in good faith to them, and they know I know what is going on over there.  I would think the words “clear and present danger” would warrant something other than the response I got from Dr. Godowsky.  But no, the typical Delaware response which says “I read your email.  I’m not going to do anything about it Chicken Little, but you should feel lucky I bothered to respond.  That’s more than Mark Murphy ever did.”  Okay, it didn’t really say that, but that’s how it felt.  No, this is what I got:


From: Godowsky Steven <Steven.Godowsky@doe.k12.de.us>
To:
Kevin Ohlandt <kevino3670@yahoo.com>
Sent:
Tuesday, November 10, 2015 1:38 PM
Subject:
RE: Delaware Met

Kevin,

I appreciate the notice. Thank you.

Steve

Steven H. Godowsky

Delaware Department of Education

Steven.Godowsky@doe.k12.de.us


Gee, thanks Steve.  No action plan, or even a “We will look into it” or any questions.  Nothing.  And they wonder why I blog about the DOE so much.  Are these people that arrogant and condescending to think they are above the rest of us and aren’t accountable for their actions?  They want to lord it over teachers and schools all the time, but when the time comes for them to answer for themselves they hide behind Governor Markell.  Don’t get me wrong, there are some good people working over there, but when the leadership responds like this, it doesn’t show a concerted effort to communicate better with the public.  It shows a “We are better than you” attitude.  Does he have to wait for Markell’s permission to respond effectively?  Cause we all know Jack was gallivanting around today giving a speech about teacher quality on the taxpayer’s dime without putting it on his public schedule.

Meanwhile, this school needs action taken on it now.  What is going to be the DOE’s spin when things come out?  Something like “we were aware of the situation and took every step necessary to deal with these matters.”  I’m telling everyone right now, when things are revealed about this school, don’t look to the DOE for answers.  Because you will get a response akin to the one I got from Secretary Godowsky today.  You’re going 0-2 on me here Steve.  That is not a good start.  While I appreciate you helping to put Delaware Met on formal review to begin with, that doesn’t solve the immediate problems going on there.  And your betrayal last week with the opt-out penalties is not endearing you to Delaware at all!

If no one will take quick action on this school than something bad is going to happen.  We all know it.  And I’m sure the last thing the DOE wants to do is prove me right.  I am hereby declaring the DOE a Priority State Education Agency.

*I did edit one name in the email.  Poor State Rep. Jeff Spiegelman.  I can never remember the i before e except after c rule with his name.  Both default when I start to put his name in my email address field.  My profuse apologies Rep. Speigelman!

The Exceptional Delaware No Response List

Over the past year, I’ve reached out to several people and organizations either for information on articles or to advocate on issues.  I usually get a response, but some flat-out ignore me.  Especially after I publish something in opposition to their stance or actions.  That’s fair.  But at least respond!  And no, anonymous comments made on here with different names do not count as a response!

The biggest one would have to be Dr. Paul Herdman with Rodel, which I made very public on here.  After he blasted me on my Rodel article in an email last November, I emailed him back and asked him to meet at any of the six priority schools.  I never got a response back from him.  I did introduce myself to him at the Senate Education Committee meeting a couple weeks ago…

I reached out to the Delaware Charter Schools Network last summer quite a bit in regards to special education and why they never really talked about it.  They did respond: by blocking me from their Twitter account.  I am not holding out hope they will respond to my latest email to them…

The DOE can be infamous for not responding, but I have to give credit where credit is due.  Penny Schwinn reached out immediately when I had questions about the whole Smarter Balanced/SAT debacle a couple months ago.  But I did call them out on a FOIA response a few weeks ago.  I requested one specific email that I know they sent regarding Senate Joint Resolution #2.  I was told they couldn’t find it but I could pay DTI $300.00 to search for it.  I emailed back and said they were lying.  No response.  I’ve reached out to the Exceptional Children Resources Group a few times and they are hit and miss…

I will say Donna Johnson with the State Board of Education is very quick to email me if I get something absolutely wrong.  I respect that and I will correct things in those situations if I see proof or it just makes logical sense.  With that being said, she has not responded to requests for meetings either…

Lindsey O’Mara, Governor Markell’s Education Policy Advisor, hasn’t responded two weeks later to an email.  After Jack gave a big speech at New America, I asked who pays for this and if the Governor gets any compensation for these speeches.  Zippo from Lindsey on this…

Even last weekend, I emailed the head of the charter school office at the DOE about their part-time charter school monitoring job.  I advised them my blog does about 3/4 of that work anyways, and if they added special education monitoring onto it and made it a full-time job with benefits, salary could be negotiable.  Updated: Just got a response!  And I will add that Jennifer Nagourney is very good about returning emails, even late at night or on weekends!  The charter school monitoring job email I sent was more of a feeler and not an official application.

I’ve sent a couple emails to Delaware Speaker of the House Pete Schwartzkopf to get House Bill 61 on the agenda, no response.  But I have to say, most of the legislators do respond if it is very specific…

The blogger Kavips NEVER responds to any email anyone sends.  This is a blogger that is so anonymous I don’t think he/she knows who he/she is anymore…

The biggest no responder is none other than Governor Jack Markell himself.  I’ve emailed him numerous times about issues and requested meetings.  Nada.  Nothing.  Not even a “my people will get back to you”…

Will this trend continue?  Absolutely.  I’m not the News Journal, so they are under no obligation to get back to a spitfire blogger who doesn’t get paid to publish information.  However, it is always in their best interest to do so, because it makes it look worse for them when I do publish information and their lack of response becomes part of the issue.  In fact, I’m going to email someone at the DOE right now and see what happens…

Governor Markell Gives “College Ready” Speech At New America, Gets Bonus Points For Not Using The Word “Rigor”

Delaware Governor Jack Markell gave the keynote address at a forum called “Making ‘College Ready’ Matter: College and Career Ready Policies in the States” this morning in an event sponsored by the corporate education reform non-profit called New America Foundation.

Markell looked visibly weary and tired.  The speech began at 9:15am.  He used the same line I’ve heard from him a few times this year: “There has never been a better time for someone with the right skills, but there has never been a worse time for someone with the worst skills.”  Markell explained that states that have fully adapted the state standards have done better.  He cited Massachusetts as the first state to adapt to new standards and how it has paid off for them.

He said Delaware is one of the only states still calling them the “Common Core State Standards”, but even if other states are no longer calling them that they are still the same.  In talking about pushback to the standards, he blamed the original intent of supporters thinking it would keep federal intrusion at bay.  He said the opponents have gained a lot of traction around the country.  “Implementation hasn’t been very good in some places.  We worked hard with the Delaware Department of Education to make sure that didn’t happen.”

Markell said it was “exciting to see educators so empowered with sharing information” across districts and “we have a responsibility to fix the implementation.”  He believes the standards are “elevating the teacher profession.”

The Governor addressed the issue of opt-out and firmly stated he is opposed to opt-out.  He “understands the concerns about parents and teachers about too much testing”.  He dovetailed into the assessment inventory as if this is the answer to the Smarter Balanced problem.  “Good assessments are critical, they add value to educators.”  In talking about the Smarter Balanced Assessment, Markell said “It’s the best test we’ve ever made in Delaware”, it was “the right way for us to go”, “it’s more difficult than our predecessors”, and it is a “fair measure for parents and educators.”  “In Delaware, our colleges and universities have agreed to use Smarter Balanced scores for college coursework.”

This brought up the subject of remedial classes.  As Markell was citing figures, the camera panned to what looked like a classroom and several teenagers present.  When Markell asked the crowd if they were still with him, the camera caught a teenage girl yawning.  Markell bragged about getting 100% of college-ready seniors to apply to college which included sending volunteers to schools to help applicants out with college essays and financial aid.  “We had 250 students who wouldn’t have bothered to apply.”

He stated college is not for everyone, and it is our (America) responsibility to make sure these students have a place and they get the necessary training to enter the workforce.

My biggest question concerning this speech was if the Governor receives revenue for these types of events as well as the travel costs associated with them.  So I emailed the Governor’s Education Policy Advisor, Lindsay O’Mara with some questions just now:

  • Today at 12:11 PM
To
  • O’Mara Lindsay (Governor)

Good afternoon Lindsay,

I happened to listen to Governor Markell’s speech on college readiness today at New America in Washington D.C., and I had some questions concerning these speeches.

Does he get paid for these speeches?  Does the non-profit or company pay the travel costs associated with them (such as fuel, food, lodging, the Governor’s protection, etc.)?  If not, what part of the state budget is that allocated in?

Thank you,

Kevin Ohlandt

We shall see if I get a response.  I’m sure I will see her tomorrow at the Senate Education Committee meeting.  I have to give Governor Markell props for not using the word “rigor” but he more than made up for it with the term “college and career ready”.