The Rodel Teacher Council Policy Briefs & Why Delaware Teachers Need To Be VERY Concerned

I’ve heard from more than a few teachers in the past hour since I posted about the Rodel Teacher Council’s presentation to the State Board of Education.  Many were unaware of what this very small group of Delaware teachers have been up to and how it could impact the future of their profession.  I wanted to follow-up on that article with this set of “policy briefs” created by this teacher council.  What could happen is this corporate education reform hocus-pocus is all of a sudden written into Delaware state code without anyone the wiser.  This would be done by our General Assembly who Rodel has been making nicey-nice with in the past year.  I would strongly urge all the local teacher unions and the Delaware State Education Association to get on top of this as soon as humanly possible and find out what the hell some of the teachers in their districts are doing with all this in the name of Rodel.  I’ve been warning about these possibilities for a long time.  But it will take much more than me to stop this from becoming the new reality.

For months, I’ve heard Delaware Governor John Carney talk about “public and private partnerships”.  Funny how the Rodelians mention this very same thing in their policy briefs issued last November.  If you think for one second John Carney is not under Rodel’s thumb, think again!

I’ve written about “Social Impact Bonds” before.  Where companies come in and essentially make bets on student outcomes.  Now we see “Innovation Funding”, also known as crowdsourcing, where communities “invest” in schools so someone can make a whole lot of money.  As well, the state won’t have to pay for it.  But all that comes with a price.  The future generation of students who will be fully immersed in this nonsense will become nothing more than drones to the corporations as true local decision-making becomes a thing of the past.  Meanwhile, all the “smart” and “wealthy” kids will be attending private schools paid for, in part, by school vouchers.

The below documents were created last November but they are making their rounds with the decision-makers in Delaware education.  This is Paul Herdman’s ultimate vision folks.  Everything else has just been a sideshow compared to this.  They can come out with all the pretty and colorful presentations they want.  But as long as people keep swallowing their pills, this will continue.  It will never change until people demand our Department of Education, our legislators, and our schools stop adopting Rodel’s corporate greed-driven drivel.  And for the love of all that is holy, will education stakeholders who really should know better please get off the Vision Coalition?  All you are doing is prolonging the existence of Rodel.  DSEA, DASA, and DSBA need to inform all those who pay dues to them of every single aspect of these policies and let their members decide how to deal with this.  Decisions like this should not be brought forth by 22 Delaware teachers speaking for the entire teaching force in Delaware.

The Rodel Teacher Council Scares The Living Hell Out Of Me

Today, the Rodel Teacher Council gave a presentation to the Delaware State Board of Education with policy recommendations for their Personalized Learning Blueprint.  I’ve written about them before and actually received a bit of heat from a few of their membership.  These aren’t bad people or bad teachers.  I truly believe they have been brainwashed into the corporate education reform movement.  Some may not even realize it.  But what they came out with today for their State Board presentation literally frightens me and makes me wonder more than ever where public education is heading.  I have to wonder if the State Board of Education would ever allow those who are against this kind of thing to give a presention to them.

This presentation has all the education reform buzz words in it: Personalized Learning, Blended Learning, Competency-Based Education, Micro Credentials, Seat-Time, Social and Emotional Learning, Waivers, Assessment, and Standards.  To break it down, under these models the eventual goal is what is known as “stealth assessments”, the state assessment broken down in chunks at the end of each unit.  The student can’t move on until they “master” the material provided to them from their digital technology.  Predicting the future here, I imagine Delaware will eventually incorporate some kind of “digital badge” the student would get once they “master” the material (Colorado is at the forefront of this ridiculousness).  Meanwhile, all the data from this ed tech is going to vendors galore.  Personal and private data, every single keystroke.

So why are Delaware educators jumping on this bandwagon when it will eventually lead to the demise of the public school teacher?  Your guess is as good as mine.  Special standing, power, incentive for future mobility in their profession?  Perhaps they are blind to how their actions today will lead to the end of their professional world as we know it.  The fact that ANY Delaware school district teacher would get behind something with the Rodel name in it makes me suspect.  Very suspect.  The fact this council is going before the State Board of Education after they went to some legislators earlier this month makes me very worried.  Worried that legislation is coming that will allow this Rodel Vision of Educational Paradise.

Make no mistake.  This has been in the planning stages for years.  And it will get a huge push in states once Blockchain Technology really gets going.  And Delaware will be at the forefront of that initiative.  People read stuff like this from me and some say I am wearing a tin hat or engaging in conspiracy theory.  Let them.  They said the same thing when I said Delaware’s Assessment Inventory Committee was just a big distraction from opt out and would produce nothing worthwhile.  I said that before the legislation even passed which created that committee.

What is Governor Carney’s role in all this?  I don’t think he has an original thought on any of this.  I think his staff tells him what to do.  Many of those staff members are fully aligned with this Rodelian future and have been for quite a while.

To read what the Rodel Teacher Council (aka Rodel) wants policy-makers in Delaware to subscribe to, please read the document below.

Governor Carney, Ignore The Rodel Board Member And Listen To Those Who Don’t Profit Off Education

One of the key Rodel Foundation of Delaware board members wrote a letter to the Editor in the News Journal last weekend.  As usual, we see these letters in the News Journal right before some big Vision Coalition Hocus-Pocus.  Of course, this letter appeared two days before the annual Vision Coalition conference.

Rodman Ward III urged newly-elected Governor John Carney to put forth the Vision Coalition’s Student Success 2025 plans in his education policy.  And to pick a Secretary of Education that will incorporate that vision.  Governor Markell has followed the Rodel script for the past eight years.  The only vision provided by this outfit is one that is in desperate need of glasses.  It is corporate education reform at its worst.  Designed to produce magic but we have yet to see the rabbit come out of the hat.  Carney needs to listen to the rest of Delaware.  Rodel didn’t get him elected, the people did.  Rodel isn’t the master of education in Delaware.  They are pretenders, along with the rest of the cash in the trash companies that want to fix education by continually breaking it so they can make more money.  Snake-oil salesmen from the days of old but with a nicer suit and tie.

Dr. Paul Herdman, the CEO of Rodel, makes $350,000.00.  That’s more than anyone in Delaware public education makes.  More than Carney, more than Godowsky, even more than the highest-paid figure: Brandywine Superintendent Dr. Mark Holodick.  Why are we fattening the coffers of the likes of Rodel and their Bill Gates funded buddies across the country?  Isn’t it time to finally put this absolute bullshit to bed once and for all?  Governor Carney: Are you a Rodel Man or a Delaware Man?  You can’t be both.  You need to decide.  The future of Delaware students as well as the future direction of this blog will be determined by your decision.  I have a vision for education: stop having corporations profit off bad education policy that they initiate.

Governor Markell Loses His Voice Tonight. Now Is The Time To Seize The Moment.

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At some point later this evening, Delaware will have a newly elected Governor. No matter who it is, they can’t be worse than Governor Jack Markell. I truly hope I don’t eat those words, but I can’t think of any Delaware politician who has sold out Delaware children to corporations more than Jack. Well, there is one, but I’m really hoping he gets ousted in the 8th Senate District today. If not, I expect some very frosty stares between the two of us come 2017.  But it is also my fervent hope that this particular Senator, no matter what the outcome is today, begins to see deep inside his soul what certain viewpoints on education can have on the state as a whole.  But Jack Markell…

I never gave Delaware politics much thought before 2013. I was just one of those guys who stayed in his own neighborhood and didn’t truly care about the state politics. I couldn’t even tell you who my State Rep was before that year. Or my State Senator. But then things changed in my life and I reached a point where I couldn’t live in my insular little bubble anymore. Circumstances demanded I get involved. When things happen to your child, beyond the point of a parent to control it, something happens. A shifting of thoughts begins and a need for understanding takes over. I may have gone way past the point of sanity most parents do when faced with this reality, but I felt it was my obligation to do all this.   I have regrets, but I also know everyone makes mistakes.  But no one, not even Senator Sokola or Mark Murphy, has ticked me off over education more than Jack Markell.

I quickly learned Jack cares more about corporations and their profits than Delaware students. Sadly, he found a way to combine the two and turned Delaware schools into profit centers for companies that could give two craps about student outcomes. Jack knows this. He knows the only way those companies will continue to flourish is with a steady stream of data and fix-it schemes. I suppose most states have a Jack Markell. How else can we explain the onslaught of Common Core and crappy tests like Smarter Balanced? I also learned Markell and Rodel are two sides of the same coin. They feed off each other, like twin parasites infecting their host.

My worst fear is having to continue beating up on Jack Markell. That would only happen if he were put in a more dangerous position than he is now. I see two potential Cabinet positions he could be placed in if the “nasty woman” wins. I’m hoping a rumor I heard long ago about him taking a Cyber Security position in Israel comes true. I would have loved to sit in a debate with him for a few hours and blown apart his theories and thoughts on education.

The most dangerous thing Jack Markell did with education in Delaware happened before he even became Governor. He did the interview for a man from the Massachusetts Department of Education, in their charter school office. A guy named Dr. Paul Herdman. This set up 12 years of education policy in this state that very closely aligned with what was going on across the country. And those plans aren’t done yet. Both of these men are actually very brilliant. They are strategists of the highest measure. They are futurists who plant seeds that bloom years in the future. I actually find them to be very worthy opponents in that respect. But one half of that equation is coming to an end in this state. And hopefully his replacement will be able to sever that cord.

It will be up to our next Governor to see through all the smoke and mirrors involved with the Every Student Succeeds Act. Whoever our new Governor is, I will attempt to meet with him. I intend to have a very long conversation with him, if he will let me, and let him know what I know. Maybe he already knows it already. Maybe he doesn’t. But I truly don’t want to fight him. I will give him a fresh and clean slate from day one, regardless of whatever policies he may have come out with during his campaign. I will also give every single member of the General Assembly that same respect, regardless of what may have happened pre-January 2017. They can choose to hang on to the past and hold a grudge against me.  I haven’t been easy on many.  But whether they are new or old, it is a new day. This also goes for the Department of Education and the State Board of Education. That doesn’t mean I won’t continue to expose what I find out, or file FOIA requests or complaints if something happens. Everything I have fought for will continue. But I won’t do it alone.

There are many who are on my side of things on many issues. There are some who are just now beginning to see the big picture. There are those who can’t see the forest through the trees. There are so many moving parts to education and understanding the full scope of it all takes time and patience. But I refuse to allow any child to be a guinea pig or a pawn for profit. I refuse to let their personal data go out to anyone who makes one penny off it. I refuse to let our Department of Education get away with what they have been doing.

January won’t just see new leaders in politics. We will also have new leadership in the Delaware State Education Association. Knowing what little I know about potential leaders and conversation that has taken place in the last week based on a few of my posts, I firmly believe that change in leadership can’t come quick enough. But we also need changes in the charter school landscape. For far too long, advocates for charters have ignored the elephant in the room. I am not saying it is all of them, but those with the loudest voices tend to get what they want. The funding and equity issues involved are killing us as a state. I personally believe there is enough funding in our state budget as it currently stands to have every child get the resources they need. There is a ton of wasted money being spent. We just have to convince the 149th Delaware General Assembly of this fact despite what will be a tsunami of opposition from districts and charter schools alike. I am leaning towards a weighted funding system more and more but not before we make sure every single district and charter schools is held fully accountable for the funds they already have.

The next six months are going to be very slippery in Delaware. One wrong move could send Delaware education sliding off the cliff. Now will be the time for voices like never before. Opt out was a drop in the bucket. But I don’t see those voices. Not front and center. Parents need to speak up like they never have before. They need to be louder than the state, louder than the administrators, and louder than our legislators. We need to become a force to be reckoned with. We need to organize and band together. We won’t agree on everything, but I think the majority of parents in this state can agree that what we have now is not working. We need to make sure Rodel is reduced to a low decibel noise that doesn’t hold the weight it used to. We need to make sure Delaware education is what we want, not what corporations want. This does not mean increased membership in the Delaware PTA either, but they will play a role. You will be hearing from me on this more in the next few weeks. Eyes will open to things that have happened right underneath all our noses with no one the wiser.

I need you. Our children need you. We are Delaware, not them. We need to finally make sure that is understood. We need to end the discrimination and segregation in this state. We need to end the racism that is underneath it all. We need to end the hate and make peace with the past. It is the only way we can truly move forward. I won’t have all the answers. You won’t. But maybe together, we can figure it out.

Breaking Down The Annual Vision Conference

The Delaware Kool-Aid Festival, or what most know as the Vision Coalition of Delaware’s Annual Conference on Education, will take place on November 14th.  They have the “all-star” line-up this year.

Introduction by Dan “the Main WEIC Man” Rich

Welcome by Dennis “University of Delaware President” PhD.

University of Delaware Partnership for Public Education by Elizabeth “coolest last name in the universe” Farley-Ripple

Achieving Student Success by Dr. Mark “Brandywine” Holodick

Introduction of Keynote Speaker by Paul “When Is Rodel Going To Break the $400,000 Level With My Salary?” Herdman

Redesigning Education to Restore Opportunity by Paul “Harvard Graduate School of Education, Home Of Relay Teachers” Reville

Exploring Educational Opportunity in Delaware Panel Discussion

Michelle “United Way of Delaware” Taylor

Paul “I Get To Keep Talking” Reville

Jeffers “Nothing Happened With My Townsend Endorsement Letter Sent On School Stationary, Phew!” Brown (Principal of Stubbs Elementary)

Leslie “Children and Families First CEO” Newman

Maria “Academia Antonia Alonso Board of Directors” Alonso

Introduction of Idea Exchange by Dr. Mark “Tied With Reville For Getting To Talk” Holodick

Early Learning

Addressing Social-Emotional Needs by Dionne “Parents As Teachers” Patterson

Building and Supporting the Early Learning Workforce by Ariel “Office of Early Learning at the DOE” Ford

Engaging With Local Readiness Teams by Dawn “Colonial S.D. Preschool Expansion Coordinator” Alexander

Reading by Third Grade by Dr. Teri “State Board of Education President” Quinn “Will Carney Keep Me?” Gray

Strengthening Families Through Supports by Niagia “Prevent Child Abuse Delaware” Williams

Transitioning to Kindergarten by Caitlin “Another Delaware DOE Early Learning Associate” Gleason

System Governance, Alignment, & Performance

Addressing Needs Through Community Partnerships by Jeffers “Feeling the Rodel Love” Brown

Collaborating Across School Boards by John “DSBA Isn’t a 501c3 Anymore Cause We Don’t File IRS Tax Returns” Marinucci

Connecting Research to Schools and Communities by Liz “Sounds Like An Ice Cream Roller Coaster Ride” Farley-Ripple

Finding the Best Educational Fit by Kendall “The Charter School Diva” Massett

Overcoming Barriers to Family Engagement by Elizabeth “But Call Me Tizzy” Lockman

Transitioning to ESSA by Donna “I Run The Delaware DOE” Johnson

Postsecondary Success

Connecting Education and Business by Paul “Del Tech Workforce Development Guy” Morris

Engaging Students Through Counseling Supports by Kelly “UD Partnership for Public Education” Sherretz

Increasing Career Exploration Opportunities by Dana “Christiana Care Health System” Beckton

Increasing College Access by Jodi “Brandywine Counselor” DaCosta and Dr. Jason “Wilmington University” James Jr.

Planning Education to Support Career Goals by Shana “Higher Education Office at Delaware DOE” Payne

Preparing Students for College and Career by Lisa “CTE Branch of the DOE, Think Pathways” Stoner-Torbert

Educator Support & Development

Advancing Teacher Leadership by Jesse “Milford Assistant Principal/Didn’t Support Parents With Opt Out” Parsley

Aligning Teacher Supply With School Needs by John “Associate Dean of U of Del” Pelesko

Collaborating on Digital Student Resources by Tim “Rodel Teacher Council/New Castle Co. Vo-Tech” Brewer

Ensuring Equitable Access to Excellent Educators by Angeline “My Hair Is Shorter Than Chris Ruszkowski/TLEU at the DOE” Rivello

Preparing and Supporting Principal Candidates by Julie “Capital Turnaround School Principal” Giangiulio

Preparing Teacher Candidates by Laura “DE Center for Teacher Education at UDel”

Supporting and Developing Principals by Peter “Colonial Director of Elementary Schools” Leida

Fair & Efficient Funding

Advocating for English Language Learners by Terry “ELL Title III Lady at the DOE” Richard

Erasing Inequitable Access To Great Teachers by H. Raye “On The Rodel Board” Jones “Run the Christina Cultural Arts Center” Avery

Measuring Education Investments by Dan “I Wrote The WEIC Book” Rich

Supporting High-Needs Students by Susan “I Really Hope They Don’t Release The Indian River Audit Investigation Before Our Referendum” Bunting

Personalized Learning

Designing Schools of the Future by Dr. Cristina “DE Design Lab Would Have Been Toast If We Didn’t Get That Huge Grant By Mrs. Jobs” Alvarez

Developing Growth Mindset Through Gaming by Michele “Rodel Teacher Council/Leader In Me Cheerleader For Capital” Johnson

Developing Students Social Skills by Deborah “UDel Center for Disabilities Studies” Boyer

Empowering Youth Through Collective Impact by Tynetta “United Way of Delaware” Brown

Integrating Arts and Academics by Kim “Christina Cultural Arts Center” Graham

Integrating Health and Academics by Kelli “Nemours” Thompson

Integrating Supports for Students by Paul “I’m ahead of Holodick again” Reville

Investing in Technology Infrastructure by Patches “Indian River Technology Systems Manager/What Is This Audit Going To Do To My Job” Hill

Reimaging Learning Through Technology by Richard “Chief Innovation Officer for State Of Rhode Island/Why The Hell Am I In Delaware?” Culatta

Supporting Students Experiencing Childhood Trauma by Eliza “Office of the Child Advocate” Hurst

Transforming The Student Experience by Doug “Colonial Principal/I Love Jack Markell” Timm

Closing Statements by Dr. Mark “LOL Reville, I get the last word” Holodick

Gee, I hope they get enough people who can attend all these mini-discussions.  But if they get a huge crowd and can’t fit all the people into all these rooms, I have a few suggestions….

Blogging on Education by Kevin “The Sneaky Snake Blogger” Ohlandt, John “The DOE Needs Great Leaders” Young, Kavips “I don’t have a last name” and Kilroy’s “Pocketful of College Credits” Delaware

What I Learned On My Time With The State Board by Jorge “I’m Free” Melendez

Transparency Hide-And-Go-Seek by Jack “Sunshine” Markell

Life After Political Office by David “Should Have Supported Parents and Teachers” Sokola

Using School Funds Wisely by Sean “You Can Run But You Can’t Hide” Moore and Noel “I Miss My Disney Figures” Rodriguez

Life At Panera and Dunkin Donuts Every Weekend by Mike “The Mind of Mr. Down With Absolutes” Matthews and Jackie “JK Growling” Kook

Dealing With FOIA Complainers by Matt “When Is Markell Gone?” Denn

The Life And Times Of An Infamous Former Blog Commenter by Publius “School Boarding Is A Gateway Drug” E. Decere

Becoming The Next Delaware Secretary of Education by Penny “Just Kidding Guys, Miss You Delaware” Schwinn

Prophet and Profit: The Art Of Hedge Funding In The 21st Century by Paul “Education Is Not A Business” Herdman

Falling From Grace by Mark “I Shouldn’t Have Gone To The Wilmington City Council Priority Schools Meeting” Murphy

Population Control and Genetic Engineering by Greg “Crab Bucket” Meece

Exiting During ESSA by Dr. Steven “Florida Here I Come” Godowsky

How To Be More Vocal As An Ex Delaware DOE Employee by Atnre “Boy Do I Have Plans” Alleyne

Opening Clown Schools in Delaware by Pat “We Need To Do More” Heffernan

Increasing Education Funding For Charter Schools by William “The Godfather” Manning

Governor Markell Tries To Grow A Spine: “We can either bemoan changes in our world or embrace them”

This guy has a lot of nerve.  Jack Markell operates a shadow state government through his friends at Rodel and the Delaware Business Roundtable and he has the unmitigated gall to tell people we need to embrace change?

Yesterday he spoke before a Rotary Club in Lewes, DE to talk about the Pathways to Prosperity program he has been pimping non-stop since the beginning of the year.  Every single chance he gets.  But as we all know, this is Rodel’s baby.  I have no doubt he is referring to people like me who question his every education move and see through the pretentiousness he carries with every word that comes out of his mouth about education.

The Cape Gazette, who wrote an editorial on Markell’s incessant babbling about the Pathways program, said the following:

Effective politicians act. That’s what Markell has done.

I completely agree with the Gazette.  Markell is one of the best actors on the political circuit.  If he isn’t busy promoting something that puts education money into the very greedy hands of corporations, he is setting up policy to destroy public education through the Rodelians whispering in his ear at every moment.  How the hell anyone in this state thinks he is this “great” Governor is not in touch with reality.  Or they have somehow profited from his shadowplays behind the scenes.

He denies access to the truth on a constant basis.  He puts out Executive Orders that others seem to write and sets up commissions and committees that the public never have access to.  These are the groups creating all this change we “bemoan”.  And standing front and center in front of every single one of Markell’s education decisions is Rodel CEO Paul Herdman, getting richer by the day as the students of Delaware become educationally poor.  But this devastator duo thrive on this destruction.  They spin it and say “Oh, we need to do more”, and the crap just piles up more and more, year after year.

This is a guy who hires all the people in education that continue to build up things that will eventually destroy public education.  I pray to God every single night this man never sets foot in public office again.  Why the people of this state don’t collectively organize, regardless of political party or affiliation, and stand up to these bullies is beyond me.  How they can sit at the same table as Rodel with a straight face and actually not see through the fraud and lies is beyond me.  Time is rapidly running out for people to act.  I can write about this stuff every single day but it means nothing until YOU do something about it.  There will come a day when many of you will say “Holy crap, he was right about everything.”  I don’t say that for my own personal edification.  I would rather have you believe me now AND act on it now.

If you think for one second this will stop once Markell leaves office, you are dead wrong.  John Carney already read the Rodel script and is pushing it in his own way.  He swallowed the bait Rodel dangled for him.  His own campaign manager sits on the Rodel Advisory Board.

Two weeks ago, Paul Herdman wrote about HIS version of education on Rodel’s blog.  He said “We get it, education isn’t a business.”  This coming from the guy who makes more than any state education employee.  I challenge Paul Herdman to go home tonight, look in the mirror, and really look into his soul and say the words “Education isn’t a business” and truly believe it.

As always Delaware, it is up to all of you…

Don’t Be Fooled By The Delaware DOE… Our State Plan For ESSA Was Pre-Determined By Rodel A Long Time Ago

Rodel runs the show in Delaware education.  I now have very positive proof this is the case. Continue reading “Don’t Be Fooled By The Delaware DOE… Our State Plan For ESSA Was Pre-Determined By Rodel A Long Time Ago”

FOIA Complaint: Delaware Pathways To Prosperity Steering Committee Holds Back-Door Meeting With Governor Markell

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I have no doubt they are working together.  But the sad part is no one else seems to be invited to the party…

Delaware Governor Jack Markell created a Delaware Pathways To Prosperity Steering Committee on August 11th of this year.  On Friday, October 7th, the steering committee convened with no notice to the public.  As well, there is no announcement of the membership of this committee.  I was only able to find out about this non-transparent meeting by sheer luck in looking at Rodel’s tweets yesterday.  What kind of steering committee, charged with decisions on how to help students become “career-ready”, operates in secret?

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The road to this steering committee was controversial to begin with.  Delaware Senator David Sokola created legislation to begin this committee in the form of Senate Bill 277, but it never made it to a full Senate vote.  Governor Markell went ahead anyway and created this steering committee after objections from Delaware legislators.  And now they are violating FOIA by holding back-door and closed to the public meetings.  Even Governor Markell attended the first meeting but you won’t find notice of this on his public schedule.  Why would he when the group didn’t seem to care if the public went.

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I filed a FOIA complaint with the Department of Justice ten minutes ago.  Why do these things happen whenever Rodel gets involved?  The same thing happened with the Rodel initiated Competency-Based Learning Guiding Coalition which operated in secret two years ago.  Can we expect this same type of secrecy with our next Governor?  What gives this group the right to discuss student and education matters with no involvement from the public?  What gives them the right to make decisions on what is best for children and teenagers without the ability for the public to view and give public comment about their ideas?  This is not open government.  This is a cabal of people with their own agendas, guiding society towards what they want, not the will of the people.  This nonsense needs to stop immediately.  People in this state actually wonder why I find it so hard to trust.  This is a classic example of why I find it impossible to trust anything associated with Governor Markell and Rodel.

In the above picture, I see Dr. Paul Herdman with Rodel, State Board of Education President Dr. Teri Quinn Gray, Director of Career & Technical Education STEM Initiatives Luke Rhine, Del-Tech President Dr. Mark Brainard, and New Castle County Vo-Tech Superintendent Victoria Gehrt.  I’ve seen some of the other faces before but if anyone else can fill in the blanks that would be most appreciated.  Feel free to leave the names in the comments.

Delaware Competency-Based Education, Part 3: Union? We Don’t Need Your Stinkin’ Union!

How did the Competency-Based Learning Guiding Coalition get around the Delaware State Education Association?

The Rodel Foundation, Delaware DOE, and the Competency-Based Learning Guiding Coalition had a meeting coming up on November 20th, 2014.  In the meantime, things were heating up with the priority schools, especially a looming showdown between the Christina School District and the Delaware DOE.  Many people felt no matter what Christina or Red Clay did, the DOE was going to take the six schools and convert them to charter schools.  The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium was getting ready to release the cut scores on the upcoming high-stakes test based on the field tests administered earlier that Spring.  The Delaware DOE was starting their town halls for their “school report card”.  They had released surveys to the public with ridiculous things like stop lights for grades (this eventually became the Delaware School Success Framework).  The IEP Task Force was in full swing and they were actively working on their final draft.  Unbeknownst to most, former Rodel employee Matthew Korobkin began his job in the Secretary of Education’s office at the DOE to begin work on the Special Education Strategic Plan.  This blogger had started doing some serious digging into Rodel after what I found out at the end of October of 2014.  The General Election came and went.  Matt Denn won the Delaware Attorney General slot in a landslide.  Two new state reps would have a dramatic effect on education in the General Assembly in the next year.

On November 19th, 2014, I released my mammoth Rodel article.  Knowing this little group was meeting in back-door meetings would have been good to know when I was writing that article.  It would have filled in some holes.  From what I heard from a few people, this article really rattled Rodel CEO Paul Herdman.  I know he was upset with me for daring to allege that Rodel would ever make money from hedge funds and somehow profit off Delaware education.  But in any event, the CBL Guiding Coalition was about to meet…

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I tried the link referenced in the email to an Ed Week article, but the link no longer exists.  I have no doubt it reference some personalized learning school and how great it was.  When you look at the above email, note the word barriers.  If competency-based learning is supposed to be so great, why would there be any barriers?  At this point, it is probably a good idea to let folks know who was on both the Core and Advisory groups for this.

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In terms of involvement, I don’t know if every single person participated in this CBL Guiding Coalition that was now divided into two groups. I do know, for example, that Yvonne Johnson with the Delaware PTA did not go to any meetings of this group whatsoever.  There were six district Superintendents and one charter Head of School on the coalition.  Quite a few of the teachers were also on the Rodel Teacher Council.  Note the presence of university and college members.  There was a specific reason for that which will come in later parts.  Now, on most education committees and task forces, or any type of education group, there is always representation from the Delaware State Education Association.  But not on this coalition!  To me, the key figures in this group were Michael Watson, Susan Haberstroh, Wayne Hartschuh and Donna Johnson.  They were (and still are) important people at the DOE who were in a position to let the ideas of this group come into being.

In terms of the barriers, the coalition was very visible with what the policy and system barriers could be:

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In answer to why DSEA wasn’t represented on this committee, I think the words “collective barg”, which would be “collective bargaining” gives a clear answer to that question.  Unless this is all about some secret archaeology plan, I can only assume “dig learning” is “digital learning”.

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Policies on seat time?  What does that mean?  In a competency-based world, a student doesn’t move on until they master the assignment or concept.  They must be proficient.  So what measures that proficiency?  The teacher?  Or a stealth assessment embedded into the ed tech the student is working on?  I love how the DOE and ed reformers turn simple words like “jigsaw” into something else.  I know what they mean, but why do they do that?

By the time their January 2015 meeting came around, the holidays came and went.  All eyes were on the Christina School District as they valiantly fought the DOE on the three priority schools in their district.  Red Clay signed their Memorandum of Understanding with the DOE.  A financial crisis occurred during Family Foundation’s charter renewal.  The community rallied for Gateway Lab School.  Parents were talking more and more about opt out.  And the General Assembly was back in session…

To Be Continued in Part 4: Playing with regulations, priorities change, and the DOE and the Governor freak out…

Prologue

Part 1

Part 2

Did You Know Rodel’s William Budinger Married Markle Foundation’s Zoe Baird?

A wedding of the education foundations!  Back in 2010, William Budinger, the founder of Rodel Inc., who sold the company and created the Rodel Foundations of Arizona and Delaware, married Zoe Baird, the President of the Markle Foundation.  She has held that role since 1998.  Her main focus, according to Markle’s website, is this:

She currently leads Rework America, the Markle Economic Future Initiative that is pursuing opportunities for all Americans to participate in the economy of the future.

Fascinating!  Both Rodel and Markle really seem to love the current “pathways to prosperity” push going on in many states.  The whole “career ready” part of “college & career ready”.  Kids don’t need a high school diploma when they can earn a certificate in high school!  Missouri Education Watchdog wrote an excellent article earlier this year about Markle’s plans in Colorado.  And it looks like Arizona wants some of that action too!  Thank God they have a Rodel Foundation in Arizona! It sounds like Governor Markell every time he talks to the media!  Please note: Markell and Markle are not the same thing (except in thought process).

Baird is best known in America as the Attorney General pick by President Bill Clinton who was not selected by the U.S. Senate back in 1993.  Apparently, it created a new word in the American lexicon: Nannygate.  But since then, Baird and Budinger have certainly been busy…

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As you can see, this duo has tons of connections to the biggest groups attempting to dismantle public education.  They are all pushing for “career pathways”, competency-based education, and digital learning.  These are NOT our friends America.  Remember that.  I have no doubt if Hillary Clinton becomes President, we will see this unlikely match have more influence.

At this very moment, the CEO of the Rodel Foundation of Delaware, Paul Herdman, is giving a push to the Delaware Grantmakers Association.  I have no doubt the words Every Student Succeeds Act, Opportunity, Grants, and Money will come up.

 

 

How Is It A “Strategic Plan” When It Takes An Ex Rodel Employee Over Two Years To Build It?

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If the strategy to improve special education in Delaware is to delay improving it for two years, the Delaware Department of Education is doing a bang-up job!

The Delaware Dept. of Education put out an announcement today for their “Special Education Strategic Plan”.  This plan was snuck into the epilogue language of the FY2015 budget on June 30th, 2014.  Here we are, over 27 months later, with NO Special Education Strategic Plan.  The director of this strategic plan is a former employee of the Rodel Foundation with no actual teaching experience in the classroom.  Matthew Korobkin worked for a collaborative that helped ten school districts with assistive technology.  That is NOT the same thing as living and breathing special education.  But somehow that qualified him for a job with the Massachusetts DOE (which Rodel CEO Paul Herdman worked for way back when) where he worked for 14 months.  Then he worked for Rodel for 2 1/2 years.  In October of 2014, he joined the Secretary of Education office as a “Special Education Officer”.

Given his background with technology and Rodel, I can easily see where this “strategic plan” is heading.  I can picture words like “personalized learning” and “competency-based education” being in this report.  And let’s not be fooled by this new desire for public input on special education.  This guy has never once sought out my opinion on anything.  This is more of the DOE charade where they give the illusion of public input so they can include it in the report with words like “we brought stakeholders from across the state together to discuss this”.  Right out of the Rodel playbook…

After butting heads with the Autism community over the failed amendment to Senate Bill 93, this is the guy who we want creating this strategic plan?  Let’s get real here.  Somehow, someway, Rodel wanted to get in on special education.  Their biggest enemy, in my opinion, is parents of children with disabilities.  We see through their crap and know that anything they want to invade our kids lives is somehow going to benefit companies and not our kids.  So they wormed one of their guys into the Secretary of Education office.  This guy has been collecting a paycheck for well over two years with NO results.  And now, we are led to believe we are going to see this “strategic plan” sometime before Jack Markell leaves office?  Why haven’t they been soliciting parent input on this for the past two years?  If this guy was remotely serious, he would have gone to parents in the first place.  Not wait two years.  When the DOE has this strategic plan overshadow everything else in special education, I have a major beef with that.  I guess we have to wait even longer for our kids to get the special education they needed two years ago so the ex Rodel guy can figure it all out.  How ironic they will be getting this out along with the Every Student Succeeds Act implementation and “stakeholder” input.  Almost as if that was the plan all along…

Meanwhile, the Delaware DOE is seeing a large increase in special education due process hearings and administrative complaints.  The placements in residential treatment centers is increasing every year, whether in-state or out of state.  Students with disabilities continue to do poorly on the Smarter Balanced Assessment as they are forced to take the test for longer periods of time than their peers.  Is it really a coincidence this is all happening at larger rates since Delaware implemented Common Core?  And what will happen to these students when we go full-blown personalized learning?  Competency-based education and special education are oil and water.

Here is the press release with my thoughts in red.

Public input sought to inform special education strategic plan

The Delaware Department of Education invites members of the public to three input sessions, one in each county, to inform the state’s strategic plan for special education.  Attendees will be asked to frame their comments around the following two questions:

1.    What are the most critical challenges in the delivery of special education services within the State of Delaware?

 I guess Mr. Korobkin didn’t bother to listen to ANY of the audio recordings from the IEP Task Force.  I can answer this one.  The most critical challenge is the Delaware DOE hiring ex Rodel employees to launch some Strategic Plan that takes over two years to create.

2.    When thinking about these challenges, what solutions do you think may solve these challenges?

Get back to reality and stop living in this nightmare world where even students with disabilities can do as well as their peers if we just give ’em enough rigor and grit to catch up.  Stop fooling everyone and stop playing games at the expense of students, teachers, schools, and parents.  The jig is up.

 Input will be recorded, reviewed, and used to inform the creation of the strategic plan.

I guess parents talking about their own experiences with special education, which is being recorded, isn’t going to come back to haunt them in some way.  I love the wording here: “used to inform”.  Not used to create, but inform.  Which means nothing when you actually think about it.  Sorry, but how much is Korobkin making at the DOE?  What the hell has he been doing for two years that he is just now getting to the parent input part of this plan?  I can picture it already: “Guys, the Strategic Plan is done!” “Did you get any parent input?”  “No, do I need that?”  “It looks good in the report.”  “Okay, I’ll get right on that!”

 

The meetings are planned for:

·         4 to 5:30 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 20 at the Collette Education Resource Center Conference Room A, 35 Commerce Way, Dover

·         6:30 to 8 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 20 at the Wilmington Public Library Commons Room, 10 E. 10th St., Wilmington

·         4:30 to 6 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 27 at the Greenwood Public Library meeting room, 100 Mill St., Greenwood

 

Should you need accommodations at any of these meetings, please contact Matthew Korobkin at Matthew.Korobkin@doe.k12.de.us or (302) 735-4192.

How about students with disabilities get the accommodations they need?  And I’m not talking about standards-based accommodations or accommodations for your precious Smarter Balanced test, but ones that don’t put them in a grinder!

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

Is The Delaware DOE Being Taken Over By Corporations? A Multi-Vendor Contract Bid For 9 Different Categories?

I have seen some really crazy requests for proposals coming out of the Delaware Department of Education, but this one takes the cake!  This latest RFP is a multi-vendor solicitation for nine different areas of education.  I would almost say it looks like vendors will completely take over the Department of Education looking at this!  While that probably isn’t the case, I have often wondered why I can’t find contracts for certain vendors at the Delaware DOE.  My guess is these kinds of multi-purpose vendor bids have gone out before.  Which is why I have never seen a DOE contract with the Rodel Foundation or the Vision Network.

But this is huge.  Are they preparing for the Every Student Succeeds Act?  While the law is meant to limit federal interference in how states carry out the law, it certainly looks like it is a cash cow for corporations to come in at lightning speed before the ink is dry on the regulations.  Maybe if the Delaware DOE hired more educators, they wouldn’t need all these so-called “experts” in education.  Delaware education has not gotten any better with all these cash in the trash consultants and vendors.

Our General Assembly needs to get control of the DOE.  They are destroying what is good about education for our children, one day at a time.  Piece by piece, bit by bit.  And the transparency around their actions seems to be getting murkier by the week.  But make no mistake, the entire DOE is led by one man: Jack Markell.  He is behind every single decision that goes on there.  He is so invested, politically and personally, in corporate education reform that he is unable to tell the difference between reality and wishful thinking.  He is beyond being able to reason with.  He lives and breathes education, but from a corporate perspective, not an educator one.

There is far too much going on at the Delaware DOE these days.  Between ESSA meetings that I have no doubt have predetermined outcomes already in the works, their Special Education Strategic Plan (which I will have more to say about soon with the Paul Herdman selected guy running this), the charter-district funding fight, the charter school performance frameworks, Teacher-Leader pilots with very questionable transparency, getting ESEA flex waivers without clearly stating what they were applying for and not having the advisory committee required by law to go along with that, ongoing concerns about the upcoming Social Studies and Science state assessments, their complete and total pimping of the Pathways to Prosperity program, their inability to understand and listen to true stakeholder input, allowing Rodel to influence their every move, and willful defiance of the will and intent of the Delaware General Assembly.

This contract confirms my worst fears about this Department.  They spend hundreds of millions of dollars every year in contracts to vendors.  Money that should go into classrooms.  Money that should keep classroom sizes down.  Money that  give basic special education to students in Kindergarten to 3rd grade.  Money that should give more resources to low-income and poverty-stricken children.  Money that should go to school improvements and Capital funding.  Instead they are giving it away to companies.

The Sound Of Silence

Over the past year or so, I’ve written a lot of emails that never got a response.  I save all of them, and since I am so often accused of not reaching out, I thought I would publish those sent emails.  There are many more going back to the Mark Murphy days, but I will get around to those another time.  In the meantime, see what questions or requests I had that no one ever answered.  On some of these, they did respond, but when I responded back the sound of crickets was all I heard.  There are those who always respond to me, and I do truly appreciate those people.  And some I disagree with on policy all the time.  But for those who choose to ignore me, please see how I will be dealing with this practice at the end of the article going forward.

This email was sent during the infamous “school report card opt out & participation rate” saga from last fall.

Schwinn915

For the Parent Strike on 9/17/15, I sent a letter to the editor to all the major media in Delaware.  The News Journal actually edited parts of it which changed the whole context of what I wrote in parts.

NewsJournal923

The PTO at Las Americas Aspiras was telling parents the school would lose ALL funding if too many parents opted out.  I reached out to their Head of School.

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To be completely fair, Delaware Secretary of Education Dr. Steven Godowsky did reply to the original email, but after that… complete silence when I called him out on a few things.

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Last fall I reached out to Matthew Korobkin who was assigned to the Secretary’s area at the Delaware DOE to work on a special education strategic plan.  I had heard of him, but I did reach out to him in good faith to talk about special education.

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This was a second request to Governor Markell’s education policy advisor, Lindsay O’Mara, to clarify some questions about expenses when the Governor speaks for private education companies.  No response…

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About a year after I posted an in-depth article on Rodel and their CEO Paul Herdman emailed me about not reaching out to them first, I thought it was time to attempt to reach out to him after he completely ignore my response to him the year before.  Once again… nothing…

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I did get a few responses to this one, done in the spirit of the holidays, but nothing from Jack Frost…

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This was a second request to Governor Markell asking him to contribute to a New Years Day article.  I asked folks to list three things they wanted to see in Delaware education in 2016.  I guess Jack didn’t have any…

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While there is no guarantee that a letter to the editor will be published or even considered, a little bit of acknowledgment, which the News Journal did in the past, would have been nice…

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Last January, Delaware State Rep. Earl Jaques asked for my opinion on getting opt out for students with disabilities.  I was vehemently against the idea as I believed it is any parent’s right to make that choice and shouldn’t be “allowed” for one group over another.  It angered me that he would think I would support that kind of idea, so I wrote this.  US Secretary of Education John King did respond to this, but not with anything truly addressing the issues I wrote about…

JaquesMarkellKing

For anyone following the former Delaware Treasurer Chip Flowers FOIA situation with Governor Markell’s office, I had a little bit to add to that situation.  Funny how precedent is set on issues when it is in the Governor’s favor…

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I did finally get a response to this FOIA request concerning National PTA President Laura Bay (no records found), but this wasn’t the first time I addressed FOIA issues with the Delaware DOE which they are acutely aware of.  To be fair, Alison May did respond to these emails, but from Godowsky… nothing!

Godowsky321

I submitted a request through the Delaware DOE’s request for data forms for actual data.  Especially information concerning their data.  Sometimes I think they like to mess with me…  The first pictures are screen shots I took of the actual request as I was doing it since the DOE doesn’t send an automatic reply showing what you requested.

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DOEDataRequest2

DOEDataRequest3

 

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After I read a special education due process decision for Cape Henlopen School District, I saw an inherent flaw in Delaware code in regards to this decision.  I reached out to legislators who I know tend to advocate for special needs students.  Granted, it was the second to last day of the legislative session, but I have yet to receive a response from any of the legislators with one exception.  I did discuss it with Kim Williams in person, but for the others, nothing.

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I sent this one last week to Christina School District CFO Bob Silber.  No response.  But I have since found out these VERY high non-state employee travel costs were paid with federal funds which makes me even more curious…

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For the past few weeks, Jack Wells has been hammering Delaware State Auditor Thomas Wagner to more effectively (and in some cases actually) audit school funding.  Wells tends to include a lot of folks on these emails, including myself.  I jumped on the bandwagon.  Either Wagner doesn’t read his emails or feels everyday citizens of the state that elected him into office aren’t worthy of a response.  I asked him to look into the Appoquinimink tuition funds situation.  To date, nothing from Wagner….

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Here I am basically telling people in response to a Jack Wells email that all too often, folks in Delaware who have the power to change things ignore the pleas for help and transparency coming from Delaware citizens.  I did get responses from Rick Jensen and Colin Bonini (who wasn’t even on the original email).  And some of the usual citizens on this email chain.  But for the power brokers…zip…nada…zilch…

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As well, I also emailed Capital School District to find out why they lump special education funding into one big bucket on their expenditure codes instead of giving breakdowns…

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While this was just sent two days ago, I think history proves that Delaware Governor Jack Markell doesn’t respond to anything I have to say.  He did once, and that was when I sent something to his personal email address which was made public through a FOIA another citizen obtained.  And that was basically saying “we both want what’s best for students and we won’t always agree”…  For a Governor who believes transparency and accountability are SO important, he can’t even get through the gate with those two things…ob

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I have many more examples of this non-response environment in Delaware which I will put up in the future.  From here on out, if I send a request to someone who is a Delaware state employee and they fail to respond in a week, or within a week after an out-of-office reply shows a return date, I’m just going to publish the original email I sent… no matter what it says.  This is my idea of transparency.  If you think this is arrogant or presumptuous on my part, then keep ignoring me.  I think it is arrogant to ignore people as if we are just little tiny bugs you can swat away…

Jack Eyes Clinton Post As He Goes Out Of His Way To Praise Hillary

Delaware Governor Jack Markell had an embarrassing display of asskissery when he did an interview with WMDT earlier this week and talked about Hillary Clinton’s integrity.  Jack wants a slot in Hillary’s cabinet.  Vice-President is out since Joe Biden is the current VP and it would seem biased for Hillary to pick the next VP from Delaware.  Jack wants the Secretary of Education slot.

Can you imagine the damage Jack could do as Hillary’s Ed Secretary?  Look what he did to Delaware the past eight years.  Common Core, teacher evaluations, Smarter Balanced, Rodel… just imagine all of that at a national level.  Hell, I wouldn’t be shocked if he made Paul Herdman his Deputy Secretary.  It’s what Arne Duncan did when he became Secretary.  He stacked the US DOE with his buddies.

Jack Markell is a very smart man.  However, he is also very transparent when he wants something.  I would go so far as to say he is as transparent as Saran Wrap when it comes to Hillary Clinton.  But what happens if Trump wins?  What would Jack do then?  Has he even planned for that alternative?  Sure, Jack could go to any corporate education reform company and get a top spot.  But that wouldn’t be a step up in his ladder, or even a lateral move.  Could Jack handle that kind of thing?  For Jack, it is all about power.

As Legislation For Autism Pass In Delaware Senate, Very Strange Rodel Connections Sneak Into Special Education

Last week, the Delaware Senate passed both Senate Bill 92 and 93.  The legislation, dealing with Autism, passed unanimously in the Delaware Senate.  I wholeheartedly support this legislation as originally written, and I hope the House of Representatives passes it very soon.  The children and adults with Autism of Delaware have waited long enough for more support.  But what concerns me are the amendments added to both bills during the Senate vote last week.  Below are the original bills and the amendments.

With the amendment on Senate Bill 92, this takes away the authority of the Delaware Department of Education and the State Board of Education to provide training and technical assistance for students with autism.  This will shift to the University of Delaware’s Center for Disability Studies.  The funding for the training specialists comes from the appropriations act AND possible tuition fees from the local school district.

The amendment for Senate Bill 93 references things that aren’t even in existence at present.  Upon doing a Google search, there is no established entity called “Delaware Collaborative for Educational Services”.  I did find reference to similar groups in New Hampshire and Massachusetts but none for Delaware.  How can legislation provide for an organization that doesn’t exist anywhere in the public domain?  But while we are waiting for the creation of this mythical initiative, the representative on the Delaware Network for Excellence in Autism will be the Special Education Officer for Strategic Planning and Evaluation at the Delaware DOE.  Who is this person?  That would be Matthew Korobkin.

Korobkin came to the Secretary of Education’s office in March of 2015.  I first found out about him last summer when I was discussing special education with Melissa Hopkins from the Rodel Foundation.  She mentioned Korobkin and how he was going all over Delaware to find out best practices with Delaware special education.  She suggested I reach out to him to discuss my concerns with special education.  I emailed him but never received a response.  I found out soon after where Korobkin came from: the Rodel Foundation.

This is where things get very strange with this bill.  Korobkin’s history shows more of a slant towards special education technology.  How does someone who has a very brief tenure as a special education data teachers and an administrator position that is more a Technology Curriculum role than a true administrator become the key person in Delaware’s special education strategic plan?  Simple: he came from Rodel.  If you do a Google search on Korobkin in Delaware, you see many links to his functions at Rodel.  But for the DOE, you see his role as a member of the Statewide Educational Data Task Force come up the most.  He appears somewhere in the below picture.

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I find it somewhat frightening that a data person would be put in charge of a statewide special education plan, much less someone who came from Rodel.  During his time at Rodel, he ran the Rodel Teacher Council.  He even gave his own biography in 2012 after he joined Rodel.  I can think of hundreds of other people in Delaware who are immensely more qualified than Korobkin for this key role that was snuck into the Fiscal Year 2015 budget epilogue:

SB255Sec.307

 

I did find a link to the minutes of the February 2016 meeting of the Governor’s Advisory Council for Exceptional Citizens.  Korobkin gave a presentation on the progress of this special education strategic plan.  Even more interesting was the attendees part of the minutes.  Both Hopkins and CEO Dr. Paul Herdman with Rodel attended this meeting.  I would imagine it was to see their former employee/current DOE plant give his big presentation.

I also linked to this Korobkin’s proposed Strategic Plan when he gave a presentation to the State Board of Education at their Spring Retreat last Friday.

Like I said in the first paragraph of this article, this legislation is a must.  But why do we have Rodel poking around in special education?  This non-profit organization doesn’t support a parent’s right to opt their child out of high-stakes testing, helped Governor Markell and the DOE win our first-round win in the Race To The Top competition, supports Common Core and personalized learning, and heavily supports charter schools at the expense of traditional school districts.  And now they want to get involved in special education?  Sorry, I’m not buying it.  Their activity in Delaware education is not good for any student, much less students with disabilities.

It will be interesting to see what comes out of the House Education Committee meeting on these bills.  And I plan on viewing this Strategic Plan due in May of 2016 the second it comes out!  Parents of children with Autism should have concern about some of the language in these amendments, specifically Senate Bill 93.

 

 

Non-Transparent Delaware

The Associated Press did an article entitled “How open record laws are applied in state legislatures” on March 13th.  Delaware did not fare well in this report.  The AP sent Freedom of Information (FOIA) requests to all fifty states asking for the public schedules for the state Governor and members of their legislatures for the week of February 1st to 7th of this year.  In Delaware, our General Assembly is exempt from FOIA requests.  Delaware Governor Jack Markell, who promoted “sunshine is the best disinfectant” regarding public transparency of Governmental records, seems to be having a very hard time with FOIA requests lately, between the FOIA request from his former State Treasurer Chip Flowers and the one he received from the AP for their article.  The article gave Markell’s response to the FOIA:

Delaware legislative leaders refused to provide their emails. The Legislature has specifically exempted emails of lawmakers and their staffs from the state’s Freedom of Information law, as well as any communications between lawmakers, or between lawmakers and their constituents. A bill to remove those exemptions was introduced earlier this month but has yet to be heard in committee. An attorney for the lawmakers also said many activities on their daily schedules are exempt from disclosure, asserting that exemptions allowed by statute or common law extend to the concept of “legislative privilege” based on the Delaware Constitution and common law. The attorney nevertheless released portions of the lawmakers’ schedules while asserting that doing so was not a concession that the information is subject to the FOI law. The activities mostly involved appearances at community meetings and charitable events. The deputy legal counsel for Democratic Gov. Jack Markell said the governor’s office is working diligently to respond to the AP’s request, but that more time is needed because review of the records requires legal advice. Markell’s office has previously denied formal records requests for his emails.

I guess I should count myself lucky for the FOIA I received from Markell’s office back in early 2014.  But the Chip Flowers FOIA denial is certainly interesting because Markell’s office used Exemption 16 to deny the FOIA request.  Exemption 16 is when a General Assembly member or the comptroller is part of an email chain.  I find it very ironic the Governor’s counsel would use that as a reason to decline a FOIA.  Especially since they seem to cherry-pick when they want to use this exemption.  In fact, the Governor’s office has actually shown legislators emails in earlier FOIA requests.  Something I recollected right away as I was reading the Chip Flowers petition from the Delaware Attorney General’s office.  I felt it was my civic obligation to let them know about this memory of mine.

From: Kevin Ohlandt <kevino3670@yahoo.com>

To: Gibbs Danielle (DOJ) <danielle.gibbs@state.de.us>

Cc: Denn Matthew (DOJ) <matthew.denn@state.de.us>

Sent: Tuesday, March 15, 2016 10:04 AM

Subject: The Chip Flowers FOIA Legal Opinion

Good morning Danielle,

I read, with great interest yesterday, the FOIA petition from Chip Flowers.  I found it very interesting the Governor’s office would cite Exemption 16 for not releasing the information Chip Flowers requested. 

In December 2014, State Rep. John Kowalko received a FOIA from the Governor’s office regarding the priority schools in Wilmington.  He gave them to me to publish on my blog.  In several of the emails, General Assembly emails were used and not redacted, and in some of them they gave the actual email from State Reps. 

Here is the link to the FOIAs: 

https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2014/12/27/the-priority-schools-foias-part-1-kilroysdelaware-ed_in_de-rceaprez-apl_jax-ecpaige-nannyfat-roof_o-delawarebats-netde-edude-delaware-edchat/

I find it very interesting the Governor’s office would cherry-pick who this information is released to.  There is absolutely no consistency and I would strongly question the use of this Exemption 16 when it is convenient.  Please feel free to use this information for any ongoing matters regarding Chip Flowers FOIA.  If you need any other clarification on this matter, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me.

Thank you,

Kevin Ohlandt

With something that took up so much media interest, I would think the Delaware Attorney General’s office would respond, but so far I have yet to receive a response.  I can only surmise based on the behavior surrounding the Chip Flowers FOIA request and the fact the Governor would need legal advice for the AP FOIA request, the Governor is hiding things.  Could there be something in his daily schedule he doesn’t want people to know about?  Or in his emails?  Did they include his “Alan Jackson” email address?  I’ll be flat-out honest: I don’t trust Jack Markell.  At all.  He is dishonest and sneaky.  He seems to have the General Assembly under his thrall this legislative session.  They are suspending rules and passing bills in record time.  Just today, Governor Markell signed the Commitment to Innovation Act, otherwise known as Senate Bill 200, mere hours after it passed in the House of Representatives and 31 state representatives agreed to suspend the rules.  Including some who have gone on record as saying they never suspend the rules.  This tax-break bill, in conjunction with House Bill 235, are seen as great boons to companies in Delaware as the state faces potential deficits in their state budget.

I  have no doubt Markell will have instituted all of his education policies and agendas in Delaware by the time he leaves office next January.  Judging by the mad rush of legislation which will allow tech companies to swarm into Delaware with our generous tax breaks, Social Impact Bonds, Personalized Learning and Competency-Based Education.  Kids will be earning their number of the beast data badges in the not-too-distant future.  Parents won’t be able to notice, because all of our little screen-time kids will be staying after school in the SAIL program.  And Jack’s buddy over at the Rodel Foundation, Paul Herdman… he actually uses LEGOs to lure unsuspecting parents and children into his personalized learning paradise.  If you think Kindergarten grit is bad, wait until you get a load of the money pouring into toddler grit.  Of course, we must determine what children are going to do when they are older before they even know how to tie their shoes.  But we call this Pathways To Prosperity.  We have Jamie Merisotis and the good folks at the Lumina Foundation to thank for all of this nonsense!  And if you think Delaware has issues with FOIA, wait until you hear more about WOIA!  Under the recently confirmed US DOE leadership of John King, these things are going on in just about every single state in the country.

The one thing our non-transparent Governor is good at is the art of distraction.  He gets us all riled up over charter schools, opt out, and teacher evaluations while he paves the road to hell for John Carney who doesn’t seem to have the good sense to come up with his own thoughts.  And in case we get too close to his overall plan, Jack throws things like the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission vs. State Board of Education battle in our faces but there are questions about the legality of that secret meeting.  Hard to tell since no one aside from Tony Allen has responded about that one.  Tony made it very clear to me the whole thing was the Governor’s idea.

This is Delaware.  A state filled with sinister plotting and backroom deals.  Legislators who get the “Jack call” and make miracles happen before our very eyes while telling us it’s all about the DuPont/Dow merger.  Markell is the master of spin.  He can turn crap into gold!  And the state legislators, DOE employees, State Board of Education members, and business leaders watch in amazement as they hold onto their illusions of power and wealth.  We call these people “stakeholders”.  But guess what doesn’t change?  Bullying, teacher dissatisfaction, high-stakes testing, a severe lack of funding and resources for our schools, and more segregation and discrimination for every single at-risk student than you can even fathom.  All under the guise of student success.  The stuff going on behind the scenes?  We will never get that cold, hard, tangible proof to bust these children destroyers.  They write the laws to protect themselves and the citizens of Delaware pay for it.  And we keep electing so many of them!  We are a state that is immune to true and radical change.  We act as if holding onto a political party’s belief is what we must do.  I hate to tell you Delaware, but greed is bi-partisan.  The love we need to have for our children, our unconditional love, that should be enough to make the necessary changes.  But we aren’t doing it.  We are holding onto the dreams of yesterday and think it really matters who becomes the next President or Governor.  We get sucked into the 24 hour news cycle about Trump, Clinton and Sanders while the distracters spin their webs and suck us in.  It doesn’t matter who wins the Presidency because corporate America bought our government while we blinked.  Our kids don’t have a chance.

Has Mike Matthews, President of RCEA, Been A Double Agent For Rodel?

It turns out Rodel is having a Personalized Learning Workshop on February 27th.  Because I “liked” the Rodel Foundation on Facebook, I get to see all their ads.  Every. Day. I only did it so I could see what they are doing.  Honest.  But one thing is for sure: I have never been in one of their advertisements.  Mike Matthews, the President of the Red Clay Education Association… that’s a different story:

MikeMatthewsRodel

The big question: Is Mike going to this Personalized Learning Workshop? Is he indeed a double agent? The clues are all there. I have seen Mike at Legislative Hall the same time as Rodel lobbyists. I even saw him there the same time as Paul Herdman, the CEO of Rodel. As for me, I won’t be attending this event. For me, it’s about as exciting as a fart in a spacesuit.

If you are friends with Mike Matthews on Facebook, get the real story.

15 Who Made An Impact On 2015: Paul Herdman

Paul Herdman, President and CEO of the Rodel Foundation of Delaware makes remarks at the Vision 2015 Conference for the Race To The Top.

For 2015, Dr. Paul Herdman was a busy Rodelian!  Between the Vision Coalition, Student Success 2025, sponsoring the Imagine Delaware forum on education, fighting against House Bill 50, and potentially dealing with the fallout from his 2014 hissy fit, Herdman earned his exorbitantly high pay in 2015!  He also helped the State Board of Education and the Delaware DOE with the Smarter Balanced toolkit!

Herdman’s most public appearance this year was at the Senate Education Committee hearing on House Bill 50.  He told the committee he never spoke out on legislation at Legislative Hall but it was very important for him to do this.  His public comment basically said we are stuck with the Smarter Balanced Assessment and there should be no opt-out.  I was not impressed by what he had to say.

In September, the Rodel-backed Vision Coalition launched Student Success 2025.  Broken record time… because Vision 2012 and Vision 2015 and Ed25 worked out so well…

In March, Rodel sponsored the Imagine Delaware Education forum at the Chase Waterfront Center in Wilmington.  The forum was between Tony Allen, Senator David Sokola, Lamont Browne, Dr. Merv Daugherty and Mike Matthews.  It came down to a WEIC infomercial and how great East Side charter is.

Rodel certainly did their fair amount of lobbying at Legislative Hall this year!  It wasn’t just HB50 they opposed!  With an election year on the horizon, I fully expect Rodel to plant themselves firmly in the election pool with their own candidates!  But what in the world will Dr. Paul and his merry band of corporate education reformers at Rodel do once Jack Markell is no longer Governor?

The Christmas Legend of Jack and Paul: The Birth of Common Core and Race To The Top

Many years ago, ten years ago to be exact, a legend began.  It was whispered to citizens of Delaware through the years but nobody ever knew if it was true.  When people would try to find out the truth, they were met with half-truths or outright denials.  This is the story, unverified with any credible source, and how I heard it from a stoned DOE employee at Firefly one summer.

One Christmas Eve, Delaware Treasurer Jack Markell and Rodel CEO Paul Herdman met at a tavern.  Markell wanted more from his political career, and Herdman had just been given a lofty position at Rodel.  They were both at a crossroads in their careers, and they decided to vent to each other.  This is the conversation that has passed down from teachers to students, from hedge fund managers to investors, from Comcast ticket vendors to charter school superintendents.

Jack: I don’t know what to do Paul.  I’ve been treasurer for years, and it’s all about the money.

Paul: Uh, yeah Jack, it kind of is.

Now Jack had arrived early at the tavern, and started drinking hours earlier.  By the time Paul got there, Jack was already three sheets to the wind.

Jack: I want to make my mark on Delaware.  I want to go down in history, like Santa.

Paul: I’m glad you mentioned that Jack, because I have a vision.

Jack: You’re from the future?  You know what’s going to happen?

Paul thought about it, and realized he could take advantage of this.

Paul: Yes I am from the future, and yes, I know what will happen with you Jack.  What if I told you me and some friends of mine have a 20 year plan to take over education, not only in Delaware, but across the whole country? We are meeting in a few weeks to get things going.

Jack: Just don’t make it on Minner’s inauguration.  I have to go.  Your friends, are they from the future too?

Paul: Yes, they are Jack.  Say, do you want another drink?

Jack: Oh yes Paul, I would.  Thank you Paul.

Paul shrugged and ordered another Zima for Jack.

Paul: You know this No Child Behind crap they’ve been peddling from D.C.?

Jack: Whose child got left behind?  Was this at Safeway?

Paul: No Jack, all the kids.  They deserve better in our schools.  What if I told you we can all become rich?  You, me, my buddies?  What if I told you we can bust the teachers unions, get cheap teachers fresh out of college, make kids take tests that make absolutely no sense, and you could be Governor one day?  All we have to do is make LOTS of charter schools.

Jack: But what happened to the kids at Safeway?

At this point, Paul realized Jack was incapable of fully understanding what the hell he was talking about.  He decided to get Jack some dinner rolls to soak up some of the Zima that was poisoning his mind.  Paul couldn’t figure out how much bread Jack would need to do the job.

Paul: Jack, you’re a numbers man.  How much bread would it take to get you sober?

Jack: If you take a whole loaf, divide it by 20, but only in groups of 4 and then add 5, that should tell you what year it was made.

Paul snickered in his mind.  This was exactly the kind of math his cabal wanted to get out there.  It made no sense at all, but they could brainwash parents into thinking this was what kids need to know for college and to compete against kids from China.  Paul ordered the bread, and after hours of talk about Safeway, and comparing it to Acme and Redners, Jack began to sober up a bit.

Jack: Did you say something about Governor Markell earlier?

Paul: Yes I did Jack.  The 2008 election is a ways off, but we can plant the seeds now.  Like I said earlier, I have a vision…

Jack: Cause you’re from the future, right?

Obviously Jack was still on the tipsy side, but not fully immersed in complete drunken foolery.  His mind was like play dough now, and Paul knew he had him.

Paul: Yes Jack, I’m from 2025.  All you have to do is do everything I tell you to do, and you will become a very important man. 

Jack: Woah, you’re the vision man!  Like the Avenger.  But from the future.  No matter what year we get to, you’ll know what’s going to happen.  Vision 2012 Man, Vision 2015 Man!  The education man! Future boy!  Ed25 man!

Paul: Those are great names Jack, but you are the public face.  You will lead the charge for education reform in this state.  We’ve been playing around with names for this new “reform”.  We’ve come up with Common Standards, Core Basics, and Education Vision.  What do you think of those?

Jack: You said core.  And when I think of education, I think of an apple.  And since I will be leading this, why don’t we call it Apple Jacks?

Paul: That’s a great idea Jack, but Apple Jacks is already trademarked. 

Jack: Dammit!  Let’s get back to the core idea.  We need something common, like a common core all kids can get to.

Paul: That’s it Jack!  You did it. We’ll call it Common Core!  Let’s get a drink!

As Jack got another Zima, Paul sucked down his mimosas.  The two were laughing and joking through the night.  As the two bonded and hatched their plans, the dynamic duo began slurring words.  Meanwhile, Santa Claus was delivering all the presents to the little boys and girls around the world.

Paul: You know what Jack, if you do my bidding, I will make sure you are WELL compensated.  I’m going to give you a piece of Rodel.  The prize will be yours!

Jack: A piece of what Paul?  What did you say?

Paul: A piece of Rodel.  A prize.

Jack: Did you say pizza?  Chicago has the best pizzas.

Paul: No Jack.  I said Rodel.  Piece.  Prize.

Jack: The Nobel Peace Prize?

Now Paul knew Jack loved to have his ego inflated.  So he knew giving Jack something he would never actually get would help his cause.  There had to be an end point to Jack’s wild imagination, and what would feed the ego more than the Nobel Peace Prize?

Paul: Yes Jack, you will get the Nobel Peace Prize!  It will take a while, and you will need to be very patient.  Many will oppose this, but if we get all the right people in the exact positions, we can make sure no one can stop us.  We have to present our ideas to the people, make them think it’s the only way to improve schools.  When we give these horrible tests to kids, we will use the scores to close down the poorest schools and we’re going to make them charter schools.

Jack: Did you say I have to make charts?

Paul: Yes Jack, lots of charts.  Lots of data.  You’re good with money, you can handle this. 

The two wandered off into the snowy night, and they saw a huge mound of snow the plow had just made. 

Paul: I’ve been trying to figure out how to get all the states in on my plan.  We have to coerce them into it, and then they have to trick all the school districts.  Make them think this plan is their only option. 

Jack: Why don’t we just tell them I won’t give them any money if they don’t listen?  I can do that you know.  I control all the money.  My friend Barack from Chicago told me the way Wall Street is going, there might a be a big recession in a few years.  His buddy Arne is a master at making people do things.  What if we do it then?

Paul: Yes, you’re absolutely right Jack.  You are a Zima drinking genius! 

Paul got distracted.  He thought he saw someone he knew down the street but he couldn’t see too well.  He needed a better vantage point. 

Paul: Do you see that lady down the street Jack?  I know her.  We should tell her about my plans.  Kendall, is that you down there?

Kendall: Paul, is that you, I can’t see you?  Where are you? 

Paul and Jack realized the mound was blocking her view. 

Jack: How are we going to get over that big pile of snow?  We would have to use a lot of rigor to figure out how to get up there.  Come on Paul, let’s race to the top!

As Paul ran, he smiled, and thought to himself, “Common Core” “Rigor” “Race To The Top”…

And this was the genesis of the Common Core.  Two drunken fools in Delaware, talking out of their arses about something that was so mind-boggling and confusing, with so many layers and levels, it had to work.  And the legend was born.  In the years since, Jack Markell is still waiting to be picked for the Nobel Peace Prize.  He calls his friend Paul every Christmas Eve, and asks him when.  Their friendship almost fell apart when Barack Obama received the prize, but Paul assured him it would happen.  One day…

Kids Don’t Need Rigor & Grit These Days…They Need ’80s Music!

We hear it all the time: “In order for kids to be college and career ready, they need to use rigor and grit.”  No they don’t.  They need the fighting anthems of the 1980s.  The music nowadays just doesn’t carry that “stir your soul” kind of feeling like we got way back when.  Take this for example:

Just once in his life a man has his time
And my time is now, and I’m coming alive

I can hear the music playin’, I can see the banners fly
Feel like you’re back again, and hope ridin’ high
Gonna be your man in motion, all I need is a pair of wheels
Take me where the future’s lyin’, St. Elmo’s fire

I can see a new horizon underneath the blazin’ sky
I’ll be where the eagle’s flying higher and higher
Gonna be your man in motion, all I need is a pair of wheels
Take me where the future’s lyin’, St. Elmo’s fire

The title track by John Parr from the 1985 movie, St. Elmo’s Fire, is all about the spirit kids needed thirty years ago.  There is all this talk about “growth”, but the people saying that fail to realize these kids are growing up all by themselves.  True growth comes from within.  Not from a standardized test.  Even Dexy’s Midnight Runners knew this, with their one-hot wonder Come On Eileen:

These people round here
Wear beaten down eyes sunk in smoke dried faces;
So resigned to what their fate is
But not us, no never, no not us, no never
We are far too young and clever

Now people don’t smoke like they did back in 1983, but we see a lot of beat down eyes sunk in faces.  I usually see them at the Delaware State Board of Education meetings.  Some of the music back then can actually flip on itself, and apply to the people sitting at that table down in the Townsend Building in Dover:

What you gonna do when things go wrong?
What you gonna do when it all cracks up?
What you gonna do when the love burns down?
What you gonna do when the flames go up?

Who is gonna come and turn the tide?
What’s it gonna take to make a dream survive?
Who’s got the touch to calm the storm inside?
Don’t say goodbye, don’t say goodbye
In the final seconds who’s gonna save you?

Alive and Kicking

Simple Minds indeed!  Whereas students are Alive and Kicking, just like the kids were in 1985, our State Board needs to wake up!  Kids have way too much pressure nowadays.  So did Queen and David Bowie back in 1982, but they found a way to turn into one of the best songs ever written!

Insanity laughs under pressure we’re breaking
Can’t we give ourselves one more chance
Why can’t we give love that one more chance
Why can’t we give love give love give love give love
Give love give love give love give love give love
‘Cause love’s such an old fashioned word
And love dares you to care for
The people on the (People on streets) edge of the night
And love (People on streets) dares you to change our way of
Caring about ourselves
This is our last dance
This is our last dance
This is ourselves
Under pressure
Under pressure
Pressure

The pressure kids are under these days between just growing up, and starting in Kindergarten, this need to constantly improve under the lens of proficiency is sheer madness!  Kids need Dreams:

So baby, dry your eyes, save all the tears you’ve cried
Oh, that’s what dreams are made of
Oh baby, we belong in a world that must be strong
Oh, that’s what dreams are made of

And in the end on dreams we will depend
‘Cause that’s what love is made

How is today’s youth going to be able to burst into this Common Core world and be able to strategically think on their own if they are programmed to think the same as everyone else?  They need to aspire to their own dreams.  Not the ones designed to make education reformers filthy rich.  I can picture Jack Markell and Paul Herdman playing this next song when they were planning their 20 year vision ten years ago:

You can tell I’m educated, I studied at the Sorbonne
Doctored in mathematics, I could have been a don
I can program a computer, choose the perfect time
If you’ve got the inclination, I have got the crime

Oh, there’s a lot of opportunities
If you know when to take them, you know?
There’s a lot of opportunities
If there aren’t, you can make them
Make or break them

Yeah, you’re definitely trying to break them.  Especially with your latest Annual Measurable Objectives that are NEVER going to be met.  Kids need real heroes nowadays.  They need someone like Martin Luther King to rise them out of the high-stakes testing stupor as U2 glorified him like no other back in 1984:

One man come in the name of love
One man come and go
One man come he to justify
One man to overthrow

In the name of love
What more in the name of love
In the name of love
What more in the name of love

But instead, Moms and Dads coming home from work dread going over the latest batch of Common Core math homework.  I think the Police predicted the future with Synchronicity II:

Daddy grips the wheel and stares alone into the distance
He knows that something somewhere has to break
He sees the family home now, looming in his headlights
The pain upstairs that makes his eyeballs ache
Many miles away there’s a shadow on the door
Of a cottage on the shore
Of a dark Scottish lake

Even more frightening is the fear kids must have when they think about actually taking the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  It is pounded into them from day one, and it has to be a lot like the things that scared us when we were kids.  They probably have nightmares and start to plan how they can get out of it.  Maybe a fever?  Are they feeling Hot Hot Hot?  The Cure thought so:

Hey, hey, hey
Yes, I’m jumping like a jumping jack
I’m dancing, screaming, itching, squealing
Fevered, feeling, hot, hot, hot

Children and teenagers instinctively know when something isn’t right.  They need to question things, just as parents need to as well.  Even the German band Alphaville called it thirty years before the Smarter Balanced Assessment:

Can you imagine when this race is won?
Turn our golden faces into the sun,
Praising our leaders, we’re getting in tune
The music’s played by the, the madman.

Forever young,
I want to be forever young.
Do you really want to live forever?
Forever, and ever

The generation that belongs to this toxic testing in education is in severe psychological danger.  Longer hours at school, being taught to a test that is absolutely horrible, and parents feeling intimidated by schools.  They want to do the right thing, but some are too frightened of the consequences for their kids.  The cold hard reality is this: there are no consequences for their children except the imaginary ones the Delaware DOE and Governor Markell want to impose on them.  But no song exemplifies the glory of the ’80s more than the original Vision song: Journey’s Only The Young!

They’re seein’ through the promises
And all the lies they dare to tell
Is it heaven or hell?
They know very well

Only the young can say
They’re free to fly away
Sharing the same desire
Burnin’ like wildfire

The only way to help the children of today be unique and individual is to say NO!  Parents need to rise.  The most frightening part is that many of the people making the decisions nowadays are the same ones who used to be unique individuals thirty years ago.  Now, they are just common.  The same.  Don’t let your child be the same.  Opt your child out today.  Let your young children play and love them with everything you are.  Help them learn at their own pace and not within the confines of proficiency models and growth methodology.  Don’t let their youth drift by at the hands of these education monsters.

Read more: John Parr – St. Elmo’s Fire (man In Motion) Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Read more: Dexys Midnight Runners – Come On Eileen Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Read more: Simple Minds – Alive And Kicking Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Read more: Queen – Under Pressure Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Read more: Van Halen – Dreams Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Read more: Pet Shop Boys – Opportunities (let’s Make Lots Of Money) Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Read more: U2 – Pride (in The Name Of Love) Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Read more: The Police – Synchronicity Ii Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Read more: The Cure – Hot Hot Hot Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Read more: Alphaville – Forever Young Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Read more: Journey – Only The Young Lyrics | MetroLyrics