With the release of the US DOE letter to the Delaware DOE about participation rates, we are getting a better picture of what happened the first week of November on the participation rate multiplier in the Delaware School Success Framework. On October 21st, the soon to be confirmed Delaware Secretary of Education Dr. Steven Godowsky appeared before the New Castle County combined school boards at a breakfast. He announced to the board members and superintendents of the districts that the harsh opt-out penalties most likely would not see the light of day.
The Delaware State Education Association, Delaware Association of School Administrators, Delaware Chief School Officers Association and Delaware School Boards Association all publicly endorsed Godowsky for his Delaware Senate confirmation in a News Journal letter to the editor on October 26th. Two days later, Godowsky was confirmed by the Senate with only two no votes. Delaware State Senator Nicole Poore referred to Godowsky as “a breath of fresh air“. On November 5th, two weeks after his breakfast announcement, Godowsky flipped on his recommendation about opt-out penalties at the Delaware State Board of Education retreat.
Yesterday we found out the US DOE letter to the Delaware DOE was dated 11/2/15. The timing makes perfect sense. Perhaps Markell did have a change of heart but was forced to flip back once the US DOE announced their opt-out mandates. Who am I kidding! Jack probably gave the US DOE the idea! It does have his manipulative stench all over it. I now understand why Godowsky looked like Judas Iscariot at the last Accountability Framework Working Group meeting and the State Board of Education meeting two days after. His words said one thing, but the look in his eyes said something very different.
This may also shed some light on the bizarre Las Americas Aspiras Academy PTO email about opt-out. Were they aware of this letter the day it was released? I question the validity of this since their PTO leader stated ALL federal funding would be cut if 6% of their students were opted out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment. But given the nature of federal funding I can see how someone could misconstrue that. I’m sure the Delaware DOE sent the letter out to all school leaders and Superintendents in Delaware the first chance they got.
I am seriously questioning why the letters to the twelve states who went below the 95% threshold and the letter sent to all the states announcing definitive cuts if participation rates went below 95% two years in a row were just released to the public yesterday, on December 23rd. It was weeks after the final Every Student Succeeds Act votes and President Obama signing the legislation. I have to believe some of these legislators in Congress knew about these letters. How could they not. No one can keep a secret that long. Not in politics.
The smart thing the Delaware DOE and Godowsky could have done was simply tell the public on November 2nd they received these letters. By doing this they could have taken some of the heat off themselves and shifted it to the US DOE. Instead, they hid it from the public for over a month and a half. They duped the public, along with the US DOE and every other state DOE, into thinking the Every Student Succeeds Act and the clauses about opt-out would allow states to decide how to handle opt-out. They could have said they weren’t sure what they meant, but they had to reconsider the opt-out penalties. Maybe through collaboration they could have come up with something different. But this is not how the most unpopular state Department in Delaware operates. Sunshine is not the best disinfectant at our DOE. I think we need some good old-fashioned bleach to wipe the slate clean and start over. We have far too many people involved in education who people like, and believe they have the best intentions. But when it comes time for them to do the right thing all we hear is “I serve at the pleasure of the Governor,” or “It’s the feds. We can’t do anything about it.” For a Department that demands accountability from schools, teachers and students, they sure are hypocritical when it comes to themselves… And the duplicity continues…