I’ve been looking for a common thread in everything I’ve written about what is taking place in Delaware education. One person, so deeply embedded in the forces that are privatizing public education before our very eyes. I believe I found it. A common link to the initiatives taking place. The Public/Private partnerships. Workforce Development. The Delaware Business Roundtable and the Delaware Chamber of Commerce. The Rodel/Vision Coalition. Personalized Learning. The philanthropic ventures into public education. Pathways to Prosperity. I believe I just found the most powerful person in Delaware who is calling ALL the shots. And most of you have probably never even heard the name. Continue reading “Is This The Guy Pulling Carney’s Strings?”
Ever since Regulation 225 hit the Delaware Registrar of Regulations, I’ve been scratching my head over it. I’ve gone back and forth on it a few dozen times. To be crystal clear, I support any anti-discrimination measure for ANY student. No questions asked. Some of the Facebook comments I’ve seen from some who oppose the bill are filled with hate and misunderstanding. I’ve wondered what the purpose behind all this was, and today I may have received an answer. Continue reading “Is Regulation 225 A Union-Busting Measure? Know When You Are Being Used!”
Delaware Governor John Carney released a statement about his meeting with the Christina School District Board of Education last evening. I felt obligated to give it the TC Redline Edition. In which I give a no-holds barred critique of Carney’s boneheaded idea.
Governor Carney to Christina Board: Let’s Partner to Improve Wilmington Schools
Date Posted: Tuesday, October 3rd, 2017
WILMINGTON, Del. – Governor John Carney on Tuesday met with the Christina Board of Education during a study session at Bancroft Elementary School to discuss a proposed partnership between the state and Christina School District to more effectively serve educators and students in Christina schools in the City of Wilmington.
I have to give kudos to Carney for actually attending and meeting with the Board. However, that does not excuse the backdoor closed meetings he had with two of their board members over the summer.
Governor John Carney
Full remarks to Christina School District Board of Education – October 3, 2017
*As prepared for delivery
Thank Rick Gregg, members of the Board, Principals, teachers, parents and others present.
Proper thing to do when you are in their house so to speak.
I’m here with Secretary of Education Susan Bunting and Dorrell Green. I appreciate the opportunity to address the Board in this workshop format.
They would be the ones to also be there. Was anyone else there? Perhaps your Education Policy Advisor, Jon Sheehan?
I’ve lived in this city for 30 years. And it’s always been clear to me that as goes the City of Wilmington, so goes our state.
I respect that Wilmington is the biggest city in the state and it is essentially the gateway to the rest of it, but the rest of the state has a lot to offer. Perhaps Wilmington wouldn’t be in the shape it is in if the state didn’t keep trying to put all its eggs in one basket when there are hundreds of others as well. We get you’ve lived in this city for 30 years. It’s all we heard from you when you were campaigning for Governor. But you had many years at a Federal level to do more for Wilmington. What did you do for Wilmington when you were in Congress?
Wilmington is our economic and cultural center. Its success in many ways will drive Delaware’s long-term success. And so we need a city that is safe, with strong neighborhoods and good schools. We’re working with Mayor Purzycki, legislators, members of city council, businesses and the community service agencies to achieve these goals.
And yet we continue to see murders and violent crimes constantly. All we hear from political leaders is “we’re working with…”. That doesn’t solve the problem. Action does and I have yet to see true action being taken to reduce those crimes and rampant drug use.
Our efforts have to start with improving our schools, and doing a better job educating city children.
No, your efforts have to start with improving the climate of Wilmington.
One of the first things I did when I took office was ask Secretary Bunting to visit Wilmington schools.
Which she did.
I joined her on some of these visits. And while we certainly saw dedicated teachers and principals, what we saw by and large was very discouraging.
Let me guess: you saw children with hygiene issues and worn clothing. You saw a look in their eyes you couldn’t really understand. It tugged at your heartstrings and thought, “I will be the one to fix this.”
And when the proficiency scores for these schools were released this summer, we saw that they fell well short of what’s acceptable.
Here we go… the test scores. For a flawed test. In most schools, anything below a 65% is failing. For Smarter Balanced, the whole state is failing. Is that the fault of teachers and students or the test itself. Don’t answer, we already know.
All of us, together, are responsible for doing better.
We can always do better, but don’t put the blame on all of us Governor Carney. The buck stops with you. While you inherited many of these issues from your predecessors, you are falling into the same traps.
It was pretty clear to us that Christina’s portion of the City schools – Bayard, Stubbs, Bancroft, Palmer, and Pulaski – are in the most need of help.
Was it only a year ago that the state refused to step in when Pulaski had all the mold issues? It is great that you visit these schools but what have you done to make life outside of these schools better? These are the schools with the highest concentrations of low-income and poverty students.
Already we have taken steps that, I believe, will help our efforts in all city schools.
And how many of those were created by you with no public input. How many of those efforts involved back-door secret meetings? Once again, don’t answer. We know the score.
We opened the Office of Innovation and Improvement at the Department of Education, to focus state energy on these and other high-needs schools.
Ah, yes. Your attempt at “reducing” the Delaware DOE. By making a satellite office in Wilmington.
We created an Opportunity Grants program that, while not funded at the level that I want, will help identify proven practices for serving disadvantaged students.
Don’t even get me started on that failure of a FY2018 budget Carney. You put aside a million bucks while cutting exponentially more. That does not serve disadvantaged students. It is a Band-Aid on an infected wound.
We put basic needs closets in Wilmington schools, so students can have access to hygiene products, school supplies, and winter clothing, in a dignified way.
Now this I do support and continue to do so.
We’ve reestablished the Family Services Cabinet Council to better coordinate services to families and children, and to address issues of poverty that are impeding the success of our city children.
Closed-door, non-public, back-door meetings. We have no idea what this council discusses. For something you like to scream from the rooftops about, we have no clue what they talk about. Put your money where your mouth is and make these meetings public. Otherwise, this is smoke and mirrors.
But we need to do much, much more, and that’s why I’m here today.
Every time the state tries to fix these issues, the problems get worse. I have to wonder if that is intentional.
We didn’t get here over night. And we could spend all day debating the reasons for how we got here. I know a lot of that history through my father who worked in the old Wilmington Public School District and through my many years in state government.
Yes, why debate how we got there. Because until you take a deep dive at those reasons, you will never understand. You can’t ignore things that come into schools. But I digress…
Some blame a lack of resources. Dysfunctional families. Inexperienced teachers. Weak leadership. Busing. Trauma in the home. Segregated neighborhoods. Too much testing. Not enough testing. Bad parenting. Education bureaucracy. Violence in the city.
I agree with some of these: a lack of resources, dysfunctional families, weak leadership (some from CSD in the past and definitely from the state), busing, trauma in the home, segregated neighborhoods, too much testing, bad parenting, education bureaucracy, violence in the city. I don’t see the inexperienced teachers (except for the TFAers who get their rush-job credentials in a matter of months) and not enough testing.
Over the last few years the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission (WEIC) did a comprehensive study of the challenges, and came up with a plan to make changes. We’ve incorporated many of their recommendations into what I’m about to discuss.
In other words, you are copying the work done from others for your own political benefit.
It’s clear to me that the most important thing we should do now is focus on making changes that will raise achievement levels for city children. That’s part of my responsibility as Governor, Dr. Bunting’s job as Secretary of Education and your jobs as school leaders and Christina Board members. We’re in this together.
Together? Are you kidding me? For months you’ve been circling the wagons and cherry-picking people to talk to about the “Christina problem”. Divide and conquer. That’s what I see. Not getting that warm and fuzzy feeling I felt at your inauguration Carney…
I’m here today, at the invitation of your Superintendent, because I want to partner with you to say “enough.” I believe it’s time to begin intensive efforts to get our teachers, principals and students what they need in the classroom.
Knowing Rick Gregg like I do, I believe he invited you because he was getting tired of your secret meetings and wanted to make it a public event so people can see what the hell you are up to. I think it’s high time Christina said “enough” with the endless interventions from the state that have been compete and utter failures.
To that end, I’m proposing that the State, Christina School District, and Christina Education Association form a partnership that focuses exclusively on Christina’s city schools.
You and your damn partnerships. Let’s be partners. Public-private partnerships. In other words, let’s do as much as we can behind closed doors and throw transparency out the window.
My vision is to spend the next few months talking as a group about what this partnership would look like, so that by the end of this calendar year we can sign a memorandum of understanding to work together to improve these city schools and the proficiency of the students. I want to be ready to put our new plans into effect by the start of the 2018 school year. This aligns with your Superintendent’s timetable for implementing change as well.
When I hear Memorandum of Understanding, I hear priority schools all over again. Who is your Penny Schwinn that is facilitating this? How much state money will be spent trying to craft this MOU for months? Cause I published all the emails where Schwinn painstakingly tried to make the MOU from the Fall of 2014. And that was based on Delaware’s clueless interpretation of their own ESEA Flexibility Waivers. Schwinn did everything she could to make sure it was six Wilmington schools within Christina and Red Clay. Definitely Markell’s biggest failure.
I think our partnership should address five main issues that I’ve heard over and over again as I’ve toured schools in Wilmington.
Who is telling you these things you’ve heard “over and over”? Let me guess: Senator Sokola, Rep. Jaques, Rodel, Atrne Alleyne, Michael Watson, Donna Johnson, Jon Sheehan, Kendall Massett, Greg Meece, etc.
First, principals need more control over key decisions in their schools. I would like to work with you to give principals the leadership tools they need and the flexibility and autonomy over structural areas such as staffing/hiring, school schedules, and programs. To give them the resources to implement extended learning time, and to create other school conditions necessary to best meet student needs. As part of this partnership, the Office of Innovation and Improvement would work with principals and our institutions of higher education to provide principals with high quality professional learning, coaching, and support. The Department of Education, using state resources, would assist Christina School District in training principals to better use observations to provide effective feedback that will elevate instruction.
Gee, that sounds an awful lot like the “empowerment zones” in Springfield, MA.
Second, educators in high-needs schools need more say in how resources are used. I plan to engage Christina’s city educators to ensure we are working in partnership with them, as they are on the ground every day working to improve student outcomes. I would like to work with you to empower teacher-leader teams at each school to partner with school administration on key decisions like working conditions, resource use, and school culture. The Office of Innovation and Improvement would work with our institutions of higher education and use the full expertise of the Department of Education to provide educators with professional learning that is relevant, consistent, and meaningful.
In other words, more useless programs through TFA, The Leader In Me, and other cash-cow Crackerjack box outfits that will happily take state money to “fix” the problems. And that “full expertise of the Department of Education”… are you serious? How many of these “experts” at the DOE have actually taught in these classrooms? How many came up the ranks from TFA or the charter world?
Third, we need to address the fact that student achievement rates at Christina’s Wilmington schools are among the lowest in the state. In partnership with DSEA and CEA, I want to create more flexibility for these schools to provide students with additional learning time, including vacation and weekend academies. Teachers would receive stipends for additional hours worked, supported by state funds and the redeployment of district resources. I would argue serious conversations, in partnership with the Christina Wilmington community, need to take place around building use. We are doing our students, educators, and taxpayers a disservice when we have half-empty school buildings — needlessly spreading resources thin.
Maybe if the state stopped intervening in Christina, stopped pumping up charter schools like they are the greatest thing since sliced bread, and stopped calling Christina a failure, those buildings wouldn’t be half full. The state created most of this mess by authorizing so many damn charters up there. This is where you are assuming DSEA and CEA are on board with your half-cocked plan. You are seriously messing with collective bargaining agreements here. Vacation and weekend academies? When do these kids get a break? Are you going to churn and burn them until they score proficient on the useless Smarter Balanced Assessment?
Fourth, we need a plan to address the significant trauma students in Wilmington experience outside the classroom. I’m proud of the work already underway between the Office of Innovation and Improvement, DSEA, the Office of the Child Advocate, and community leaders to train staff to create trauma-informed classrooms. We need to double down on those efforts. I have already directed the Family Services Cabinet Council to work with City leaders to implement the CDC report, including finding a way to share data across state agencies about students in need. That work is under way.
How about thanking the Christina teachers who spend every single day dealing with trauma first-hand? The ones who wash kids clothes, make sure they have food for the weekend, and help students deal with the latest murder that happened in their neighborhood? You are all about the kudos before anything happens while failing to properly thank those on the ground floor. And what will the closed-door Family Services Cabinet Council do with all this data that tells us what we have always known? Let’s get real Carney: until you fix the crime, violence, and rampant drug use in Wilmington, these problems will always exist. Until you find a way to desegregate the charter schools that cherry-pick students and put every single Delaware school back in balance with their local neighborhoods, these efforts will fail.
Finally, we need to build systems to create meaningful, sustained change in Christina’s Wilmington schools. As part of a partnership with you, the Family Services Cabinet Council would launch a two-generation network to support infants, toddlers and adults, with the goal of breaking the cycle of generational poverty. Additionally, we ought to convene higher education institutions and create a pipeline to develop teachers and leaders ready to enter into our Wilmington schools. These efforts cannot be a flash in the pan. We need to methodically build systems that will endure.
Are you saying the teachers in these schools aren’t ready? That they can’t handle the trauma they deal with every single day? There is nothing any higher education institution can do to adequately deal with these issues until the state takes an active hand in dealing with the issues coming into the classroom. And Wilmington City Council needs to get their heads out of their ass and deal with the corruption going on there before they enter into any “partnership”. Once again, make your beloved Family Services Cabinet Council public. This whole thing reeks of non-transparency and I’m getting sick of that.
Give principals a bigger say. Trust and support our teachers. Tackle low proficiency rates. Address trauma. Build systems. That’s what I propose we work on together.
You will never trust and support our teachers while they are under local control. Never. You want to mold them and cherry-pick them to serve the latest corporate education reform scheme. The best way to tackle low proficiency rates is to get rid of Smarter Balanced and stop judging schools, teachers, and districts based on meaningless and useless test scores. These misused and abused scores are just one of the reasons why I advocate parents opting their kids out of the state assessments. Addressing trauma is one thing but finding a way to actively eliminate it is the true hurdle and I don’t think you have the money, resources, or guts to do that. Working together doesn’t require a contract like an MOU. That is a gun to the head and we all know it. You are seriously overreaching here with your executive power here Carney and you need to slow your roll.
The partnership I’m proposing isn’t flashy. It’s not an education fad or sound bite. It’s about the nuts and bolts of educating children. It is a simple but intense effort to put the focus where I think it belongs — in the classroom.
This isn’t about kids at all. It’s about different ed reform companies lobbying through Jon Sheehan to get their latest programs or technology into the classroom. And you fell for it hook, line and sinker.
Frederick Douglass said that “it’s easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” And that’s the choice we’re facing. We all have dreams for our children. But right now, we’re consigning far too many of our students to a life that no parent wants for their child. Every student we graduate who can’t do basic math or who can’t read or write, we’re sending into the world knowing he or she doesn’t have the tools to succeed. Doors are closing for these children before they even leave the third grade.
For the most part, the state created the conditions which led to these broken men. Through very racist laws and credos. The state allowed this to happen and now they want to rush in and save the day by fixing the schools. What about all these broken men? What are you doing to make restitution for the state’s absolute failure with them?
I believe, and I know you do too, that it would be immoral to let this situation continue this way.
Don’t speak for the Christina Board of Education Carney! It would be immoral for this board to give up local control so you can make education companies happy. How about you let Christina School District, under the leadership of Superintendent Rick Gregg and their elected Board of Education, do their thing. I like Gregg. I think he is the leader Christina needs. But your swooping in and undermining the hard work he has done is an insult at best.
So I’m asking you to form this partnership with us. Let’s take the next few months and work out the details. I’d like to hear your thoughts on what I’ve laid out, and on how you think we can work together.
I have to listen to the audio when it comes out today, but based upon reading the News Journal article on this last night by Jessica Bies, board member Liz Paige said it best:
Elizabeth Paige said the plan lacked specificity, but that she was willing to talk more as long as the state could guarantee they weren’t going to pull the infamous Charlie Brown football gag on Christina.
“We’re Charlie Brown and the football,” she said. “He has to prove he’s not Lucy.”
Don’t be fooled Mrs. Paige. He is most definitely Lucy!
Board member John Young gave Carney’s remarks at B+. I think he was being nice.
Harrie-Ellen Minnehan spoke the hard truth:
Harrie Ellen Minnehan said that students are often used as “political pawns” and that the plan sounded too much like just another in a long string of political solutions imposed on the education system but that have resulted in no gain whatsoever for students caught in a downward academic spiral.
The Christina Board of Education is at their best when they are fighting the latest state method of eroding local control. I saw this firsthand at the first Christina board meeting I went to in September of 2014. When they stood together and gave Markell’s priority schools idea a collective no thank you. I am hoping they do the same with this latest Markellian effort by Carney.
As for Dorrell Green, his quote in the News Journal is very concerning because it gives a good deal of insight into Carney’s plan:
“Do you feel you have the bandwidth or the internal capacity to see that plan through without our support?”
This was in response to Superintendent Gregg’s own plan to build up Christina. It as if Green was saying “You can’t do anything without the state helping out.” Which is exactly what the problem is here. The state interferes so much that it paralyzes the district. The state needs to do more on the side of fixing the crime and poverty in Wilmington. Let Christina deal with Christina. If the state wants to “partner” under forced coercion, that is bullying. Christina needs to enact a zero tolerance policy on state bullying. And just by using the word “bandwidth”, Green may have overplayed his hand. By using that particular word, he is suggesting Christina will get better by more corporate education reform double-speak education technology.
I have to give it to Carney. He has successfully learned how to play the field like Jack Markell did. He certainly has been busy trying to hand-select his pawns with this attempt. And yet he gave the farm away when he announced his trip to Springfield, MA on his public schedule. I didn’t see any of that in your speech. It’s like a super villain in a comic announcing their intentions before they even implement them. Look what I’m about to do. We see through you Carney. Stop listening to those around you who truly don’t have a clue about what is really going on. Otherwise you are just another Jack Markell. Be your own man, not a carbon-copy.
Don’t think for one minute that I don’t understand you Carney. I know about some of your antics with things lately. I know you hate my blog and will cast out those who support it. We both know exactly what I’m talking about. We know you have heard objections to this Christina scheme and totally ignored them. In fact, you punish those who don’t agree with you. You aren’t the person you put in front of the media. Who is the real John Carney? Time to take off the mask and reveal the true John Carney. We both know when this plan fails (and it will if implemented), the state will continue to blame Christina for their own failure and will embark on another scheme to “fix” the problem they create in the first place.
Stealth testing. A state assessment, given 3 to 4 times a year to all students in Delaware public schools from 3rd to 10th grade. On top of the end of year state Science assessment given to students in 5th, 8th, and 10th grade. Wasn’t the goal to have students receive less assessments? Or is the goal to have outside companies create the tests teachers used to create based on their college training and years in the classroom? This is stealth testing.
These tests will be online. They will be “embedded”. The following describes Delaware’s science assessment goals. When I say Delaware, I am not speaking for ALL of Delaware. I would like to know how these decisions were vetted with the General Assembly and the public for consumption and digestion. From the request for proposal:
Delaware envisions a comprehensive science assessment system in grades 3 to 10, consisting of three distinct types of assessment. Under this system, throughout the academic year students will take teacher developed, Embedded Classroom Assessments to provide information on learning in real time. Primarily for instructional use, these Embedded Classroom Assessments will be numerous, short, and administered at the discretion of each teacher. Students will also take End-of-Unit Assessments shortly after the completion of each instructional unit. In each grade, the academic school year is divided into three to four units, each of which is aligned to a specific disciplinary content domain1 (see Appendix B for more detail). Each End-of-Unit assessment is meant to provide information on student learning of the NGSS content in each unit for the purposes of instruction (e.g., determining if additional instruction on previously instructed topics is needed, to be used in place of a classroom assessment for grading purposes) and evaluation (e.g., informing curriculum adoption, adaptation, and modification) at classroom, school, district and state levels. Finally, students in grade 5, grade 8, and high school biology will also take an Integrative Transfer Assessment (whereas the Embedded Classroom Assessments and End-of-Unit Assessments are taken by students in every grade, 3 to 10). These Integrative Transfer Assessments are meant to capture students’ learning of the content instructed during the entire year, in greater depth than on the End-of-Unit Assessments. That is, the Integrative Transfer Assessments are meant to capture the ways that students integrate, transfer and apply science knowledge and skills learned during the year. The integrative transfer assessments will be used to meet federal requirements under the Every Student Succeeds Act.
So the only thing I see here, which is required by Federal law, is the end of year assessment given in 5th, 8th, and 10th grade. To be clear, end-of-unit assessment is the same as stealth assessments. Don’t kid yourself on this! Why are we hiring a company for, what will surely be a very expensive project costing hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions, to create assessments that go beyond the scope of what is required? In the below RFP, the Delaware DOE talks about this science coalition that represents 25% of Delaware science teachers that have agreed to this. Did local school boards and charter school boards approve this complete change to the way students are tested in THEIR schools? Did the General Assembly pass laws to allow the Delaware DOE to completely change methods of assessment? Why does the Delaware DOE need End-of-Unit Assessment information? Isn’t the End-of-Year Assessment given to students in certain grades good enough for you anymore? Why do you need all this data? You don’t. Stop testing our kids incessantly. Parents, opt out of these end-of-unit assessments as well!
I’ve been warning about these stealth tests for well over a year and a half. Here they are. This IS competency-based education in a personalized learning environment. It is a simple formula- testing = data = speculative investment. They need to test to get the data so our students become investments. Those that do well. Those that don’t, keep testing them until they either get it or don’t. The Delaware DOE will NEVER tell you this, but that is what these companies want. The workforce of tomorrow! What a grand plan! Except, they forgot a few things. This flies in the face of everything legislators have been wanting: less testing. How much do teacher created tests cost compared to these “end-of-unit” assessments? When did we stop trusting our teachers to create tests? This is a big reason why Delaware has a huge budget deficit. We have allowed the Delaware DOE to do whatever they want with very little oversight. And we ALL pay the price, one way or another. This is what the folks at Rodel want, not what Delaware wants. At least be honest about that Delaware DOE!
Pathways to Prosperity is the greatest invention Delaware ever had! If you believe that one, you stand to profit from what amounts to a cheap labor program designed to beef up corporate profit while using students to do so.
The Pathways Steering Committee recently recommended a Request for Proposal to make the Pathways To Prosperity initiative really shine. They want a huge marketing push on this. After all, this committee does include Del Tech, Rodel, and The Delaware Business Roundtable. What corporate CEO doesn’t want cheap labor? The best part is you don’t have to farm jobs out to foreign countries. You can do it right here in your own state. All you need are a bunch of students in high school or college and you can call them “paid internships”. Once students complete these internships, they can earn a secondary diploma or a “certificate”. How awesome! NOT!
To be clear, I am ALL IN for students to continue education. I am ALL IN for disengaged students becoming engaged. What I am NOT all in for is companies taking advantage of school instruction for their own advantage. This RFP from the Delaware Dept. of Education is a fascinating read. RFPs always have some key information about what an initiative is REALLY about. They have to sell it to a prospective vendor.
Delaware Pathways is an education and workforce partnership that creates a career pathways system for all youth.
Notice the word “all”. Does all mean all? Eventually. Wait until Blockchain really gets going in public education…
This effort is guided by the Delaware Pathways Steering Committee, which represents a cross-sector group of policy makers, educators, employers, and community leaders who developed the Delaware Pathways Strategic Plan.
No parents. No students. No parents. No students. Shall I go on?
Registered Apprenticeship is a proven method of training which involves on-the-job work experience coupled with related instruction, typically offered in a classroom setting.
Please show me the statistics showing this “proven method”. I am not against apprenticeships. I am against taking advantage of apprenticeships for cheap labor.
Registered apprentices work for their employer or sponsor and are paid while they learn their respective trade. Registered Apprenticeship, in simple terms, is a program of “learning while earning.”
Are they paid at the same levels regular employees are who would perform the same job function? Yeah, I didn’t think so. And how much goes toward other entities while students are “paid”? Who else gets a cut of this pay? “Learning while earning” is definitely earning. The companies earn a lot toward their bottom line. Disgusting…
Registered Apprenticeships are offered in a variety of occupations. The majority of Registered Apprenticeships are four years in length or 8000 hours of on-the-job training. For each year of training, a minimum of 144 hours of related instruction is required.
8,000 hours is a whole heck of a lot of hours. That is a lot of pay at a reduced scale that could be helping the average Delawarean. Companies don’t want to train regular employees. They LOVE this initiative. And they will use taxpayer dollars to provide that training. It is a win-win for companies. This is exactly WHY they care about education so much. I kind of thought education was about kids getting a well-rounded education in ALL subjects. But this will radically transform that so kids only get instruction in certain subjects on the way to their “career path”. Dumb them down, make sure kids don’t question authority, and then you own them for life. Big Brother is here, owned by Education Inc. Did you really think it was “for the kids”? Please…
Upon completion of the required on-the-job training and related instruction, the apprentice is eligible for Journey papers. A journeyperson is nationally recognized as having a well-rounded ability in all phases of their trade.
Note the words “required” and “nationally recognized”. Say goodbye to the days of applying for a job, getting hired, and then going through an orientation-training class. This is the new hiring process for companies. If you don’t get in on THEIR agenda, you are screwed. And if you are an older person, looking to change careers, you are doubly screwed.
The intersection of Delaware Pathways and Registered Apprenticeship programs is a result of Delaware’s career pathways system, which begins in the public education system (K-12) through Career and Technical Education (CTE) pathways offered in charter, comprehensive, and technical school districts.
What a well-timed intersection. Like it wasn’t planned for decades. This is what happens when you let a “non-profit” like the Rodel Foundation dictate education policy. This is what happens when you let corporations in education. They plant the seeds and take over.
These pathways continue through adult education, occupational training programs, as well as Registered Apprenticeship and postsecondary programs that are administered by partnering state agencies, institutions of higher education, and other service providers.
Thus, we have Governor Carney’s “public-private partnerships” in full swing. All hail the Chief!
As a result, Delaware’s career pathways system aligns secondary and postsecondary education and concurrently pairs rigorous academics and workforce education within the context of a specific occupation or occupational cluster.
“Rigorous academics” means the Common Core State Standards. Which was, ironically enough, a Department of Defense initiative designed to change the human mind. It was adopted by the Department of Education to actually change young minds to a digital technology environment. But those standards have to be tested, thus crap like the Smarter Balanced Assessment and PARCC. Make them once a year, get teachers and parents in a tizzy over them, and then institute a competency-based education environment. Then comes the “stealth tests”- same tests as before, but broken up into chunks, to be given at the end of each unit in each class. Impossible to opt out of those. This takes it a step further, tying in the education and corporate worlds into a marriage of game-changing high stakes.
Participants who complete a career pathway attain a secondary school diploma or its equivalent, earn an industry-recognized credential, certificate, or license that holds value in the labor market, and have the opportunity to complete an Associate or Bachelor’s degree program at a Delaware college or university.
Don’t kid yourself. This will be how it is done for ALL students in the future. Call it what you want, but this will be a “digital badge” created specifically for your personal share on the Blockchain ledger. The cradle to grave data tracking job creating machine is here!
A University of Delaware class called Documentary Production produced a video called “The Deed: Fixing Education In The First State”. The cinematography of the video was good, but I feel it should have been renamed “Fixing Education In Wilmington” because that was pretty much what the video was about.
It gave a good history of segregation before 1954, but after that it focused solely on Wilmington. But I found the stereotypes to be a bit too much. The video primarily focuses on two Caucasian mothers. One is in what appears to be a classroom, and the other is out in the suburbs in a very nice home. When they do show African-Americans (aside from Tony Allen), it is primarily urban Wilmington. As if there are no African-Americans in the suburbs.
The TedX Wilmington videos shown in this are from Tony Allen, the Chair of the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission, and Dr. Paul Herdman, the CEO of the Rodel Foundation. Other folks shown in the video are Dan Rich from the University of Delaware and one of the main WEIC players, Atnre Alleyne from DelawareCAN and TeenSHARP, and Brandywine Superintendent Dr. Mark Holodick. There are cameos from Delaware Teacher of the Year Wendy Turner and the not-even sworn in yet Christina Board Member Meredith Griffin Jr.
Here is a newsflash. There are 19 school districts in Delaware. Up and down the state. I love Wilmington, but if you are going to make a video called Fixing Education In The First State, you have to focus on the whole state. This was one of the biggest mistakes WEIC made, focusing on Wilmington and expecting the rest of state to pick up the tab to fix Wilmington issues. Yes, Wilmington is the biggest city, but many issues with poverty and low-income exist all over Delaware.
Like most discussions about “fixing” education in Delaware, we go through the history and the present situation. Add some current events like the upcoming Colonial Referendum to make it current. Show some shots from a WEIC meeting a few months ago when Governor John Carney and Delaware Secretary of Education Dr. Susan Bunting attended for some extra oomph and importance.
I recognize segregation in Wilmington schools and what school choice has done to Northern New Castle County as major problems in Delaware. But there are other equally important issues, only one of which was briefly touched on in the video- education funding. We also have special education with a rapidly growing population of students with disabilities, standardized testing, a growing population of English Language Learners, a General Assembly that generally makes some very bad choices for our schools, bullying in our schools,the continued fall-out from the Race To The Top accountability era, a State Auditor who doesn’t audit school districts every year even though that office has to by state law, referenda, a new Governor that is putting a ton of cuts towards school districts (but not charters), the Rodel Foundation’s stranglehold on decisions made in education, data mining of personal student information, and the upcoming and very real threats of competency-based education, personalized learning, an eventual replacement of real teachers with glorified moderators instead in a digital technology wonderland, and the upcoming Blockchain technology which will institute a full-blown “digital badge” scenario, tracking children from cradle to grave and predetermined careers and what their societal worth will be. And yes, even Social-Emotional Learning is in the process of getting hijacked by the corporate education reformers (more on that soon).
Many of these things aren’t on the radar as much as they should be. We are still bickering over how to “fix” education but we are stumbling with talking about what is right in education. We are in a constant state of flux, in a state of constant improvement. This obsessive need for improvement is actually what is fracturing education the most in Delaware. The problem comes when we try to measure all these changes by one standardized test.
For an eleven minute video, it would be impossible to catch all the issues in Delaware education. But showing very old videos of Tony Allen and Paul Herdman don’t do much for me. Most Delawareans really don’t know who the two of them are. Just because they have a TedX stage doesn’t give them more importance than a teacher giving a lecture to a class or a parent giving public comment at a school board meeting. Those are actually the voices we need to hear more of in Delaware education, the everyday citizen. Not a CEO of a “non-profit” making over $344,000 a year or a well-meaning Bank of America executive. Don’t get me wrong, I think Tony Allen is a great guy, but it has become more than obvious that WEIC isn’t heading towards the destination it dreamed of and it is time to move on. As for Dr. Paul “Rodel” Herdman, I have never been shy about my dislike of his “visions” for Delaware schools that have its roots in corporate profit.
We need to focus on what is going right in Delaware education and build from that. It begins at the grass-roots level, in the classroom. For that, the student and teacher voice are the most important. And then the parent. We go from one reform or initiative to the next, and the cycle goes on and on.
The upcoming Delaware State Education Association President, Mike Matthews, just wrote an excellent post on Facebook about the rise of digital technology and personalized learning in the classroom. His post was in response to the recent announcements by various Delaware school districts of Reduction in Workforce notices going out to schools based on Governor John Carney’s proposed budget for FY2018.
For the past several years, personalized and blended learning have been strong dialogue points in education circles. The thinking behind personalized and blending learning is that it offers different environments to meet students’ needs for learning. One of those environments is digital, where some of the learning is done on devices as opposed to direct teacher instruction or small-group instruction.
There is a belief out there by some that many education reformers and corporatists are supporting personalized and blended learning because, ultimately, it could reduce personnel costs by getting rid of large numbers of teachers. Me? I’m a fan of “personalized learning” in a very basic sense: that all learning, in effect, should be personalized to meet student needs. However, I am beginning to have some concerns with the personalized and blended learning information I’m seeing as well as the propagation of 1:1 devices in classrooms across the state.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Technology is a must in today’s digital environment and students MUST be exposed to its responsible use. However, eight years ago, then-Gov. Jack Markell made a series of devastating cuts to education. And we still haven’t recuperated from that.
Governor John Carney is proposing a series of devastating cuts to his education budget now. We never saw Gov. Markell’s cuts come back to education. Will we see Gov. Carney’s cuts come back if they’re passed by the legislature? Will these layoffs — these hundreds of human beings about to lose their jobs — be victims to technology because it’s cheaper to purchase a Chromebook than it is to pay a teacher’s salary?
Two years ago, I had a very open mind about personalized learning when I was president of the Red Clay Education Association and some fellow members introduced me to personalized learning. And, to an extent, I’m still VERY open to what personalized learning is and can be. I made sure to share with those teachers that at no time should personalized learning EVER be seen as a means to layoff and cut teachers in our schools and the they agreed with that. However, I’m concerned that these heartless and cruel layoffs coming could only grow worse as policymakers embrace the idea that technology can do cheaper or better what humans can for children.
I will never accept a world where computers take the place of living, breathing, caring human beings. We must fight like hell to bring these positions back to our school districts as quickly as possible. Anything less should be cause for direct, organized action by educators and the public that supports us across the state.
Amen Mike, Amen! With that being said, the reaction of the state and local education associations to this technology push in our classroom will be instrumental in making sure that future never comes to pass. DSEA will have to be at the front of the line opposing this future. When Mike said “some believe”, those numbers are growing fast and it isn’t just a belief. It is happening in districts across the country and it will happen here if we don’t get enough educators, parents, citizens, and students to fight it.
In Delaware, the Rodel Teacher Council has been pushing personalized learning a lot in the past couple months. They met with legislators and the State Board of Education. As I have said many times, I don’t believe these teachers are the bad guys. But I don’t trust Rodel at all. For the life of me, with everything I’ve written, I can’t understand why these teachers continue to listen to Rodel and do their bidding. These teachers spend a lot of time working for Rodel with little to no pay for their time and effort. At the end of the day, Rodel is a corporation. They may say they are a non-profit, but when their CEO Dr. Paul Herdman makes over $350,000 a year, that gives me considerable pause.
The personalized learning push goes beyond computers replacing teachers though. There is the matter of massive exposure to screen time and what kind of effects that has on students. There is the massive amount of data collection. There is the presumption by many that the algorithms in many of these apps and learning programs are being used to push students toward certain types of future careers. There is the competency-based education aspect of it all that has a severe danger of putting at-risk students even further behind than their peers. While I don’t expect many to get this yet, they soon will. Right now, I am John the Baptist, wandering around in the wilderness warning everyone. A madman? No. One who would rather prophet for students than profit from students? Yes.
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.
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.
Atnre Alleyne came out with a blog post this morning supporting a Governor Carney idea where Delaware rates schools with stars. Of course he did! I don’t care what you label them with: stars, letter grades, numbers, or rocket ships. It all translates to a comparison between apples and oranges. What I find most ironic about Alleyne’s post is how self-serving this is for him. As the guy behind Delaware Can, any school labeling further perpetuates the myth that companies like that thrive on: label, shame, and punish. Alleyne’s personal war against the Delaware State Education Association is filled with holes and misdemeanors! I thought I would pick apart a few of his “facts” and “myths”.
The Fallacy of Surveys
Thousands of Delawareans responded to the Delaware Department of Education’s 2014 survey indicating they want school performance ratings.
When you come out with a survey that doesn’t even ask the question “Do you think Delaware should have school performance ratings?” and you continue that survey with questions about those ratings, I don’t think it is fair to say that means “thousands of Delawareans” wanted this. The survey predetermined the school report cards was going to happen (as required by federal law) but that in no way to translates to the citizens of Delaware demanding this system.
Recently a coalition of 24 community and business groups also sent the Department a letter with recommendations for the state’s ESSA plan that called for a “single summary rating for schools and districts…in order to ensure clarity for parents and community members.”
And who led that band of public education marauders, disguised as organizations wanting to help public education? Who corralled and convinced these 24 mostly non-profits who would benefit from what Alleyne wants? Who was also on the Governor’s Advisory Committee for the state ESSA plan and in a position to leverage his agenda? Yes, none other than Atnre Alleyne.
The Rating-Label Scheme
MYTH: School ratings are more of the type of “testing, labeling, and punishing” we do not need in our schools.
Yes, they are. Given that the weighting of these report cards is over 50% towards results from the Smarter Balanced Assessment so carefully masked as two different categories: growth and proficiency, it most certainly is a testing, labeling, and punishing apparatus.
Even The Feds Are Backing Away From Bad Education Policy
Today, federal law requires that we identify and “label” the bottom 5 percent of schools in our state. The school report cards to which the Department has committed renames those schools – from Priority and Focus schools to Comprehensive Support and Improvement (CSI) and Targeted Support and Improvement (TSI) schools – and continues its support for these schools with access to more money and assistance. That’s not punishment. It’s being honest about where and how we need to help our schools.
A label is still a label even if you change the wording. I love the word “Targeted” because that is exactly what this system does. Jack Markell loved this and apparently Governor Carney does as well. U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos seems to be backing away from a federal accountability system and leaving it up to the states. Governor Markell embedded that system into Delaware and our whole education system is based on this. Alleyne, who used to work for the Delaware Dept. of Education, is very familiar with this system and knows exactly what it is meant for.
The Growth In Our Education System Is Malignant
It’s also important to remember that growth measures, which take into account how much a student’s performance has grown over a school year, also benefits schools with higher performing students in ensuring they help their students grow, as well.
Okay, this is the part that absolutely kills me! If a school has higher performing students, i.e., the average proficiency on SBAC is 3.87 out of 4, that does not leave much room for growth. But the illusion of having a growth goal of students reaching a 3.9 proficiency is not out of the ballpark. It is doable and can certainly happen. Take a school with a high population of low-income and students with disabilities, where the average SBAC proficiency is 1.24 and the growth goal to proficiency is 2.0, the whole system changes. The work needed to get to that score, with more challenging students with much higher needs, multiplies at an exponential rate. The odds of that school reaching that goal are much lower than the “high-performing” school that only needs to go up a tiny bit to reach their growth goals. It is comparing apples and oranges.
Judging The Haves and The Have-Nots And Voucherizing Students
MYTH: If you give schools a rating parents are just going to use that single rating to judge schools and ignore all the other information about a school’s performance.
This is an exercise in futility. This is the difference between the “haves” and the “have-nots”. The “haves” will utilize this system to find the “best” school for their child. Many of the “have-nots”, who in many cases aren’t even aware a system like this even exists, will simply send their child to the local neighborhood school. In the midst of this landscape we have the issue of school vouchers coming to the front burner. So much so that the feds are willing to dump all this truly bad accountability crap out the window in favor of a voucher system that will make private schools the next big thing. For reasons they aren’t saying, this will be the cushion for students from wealthier families for what happens next. See more on this later.
How To Place Yourself In An Area Of “Importance”
Our goal, as advocates and policymakers, must be to equip parents and taxpayers with school quality information that is easy to understand, fair, and consistent.
Notice Alleyne uses the word “Our”, as if he is the man behind the curtain waving the magic wand that mesmerizes his audience into taking his every word as the Gospel truth. For a guy that makes a living based on the very worst of corporate education reform Kool-Aid disguised as helping disadvantaged students, I encourage all Delawareans to take what he says with a grain of salt. Having met Alleyne in person, he is a nice guy. But his education policy and what he advocates for causes alarm bells to go off in my head. I get why he does what he does, but he is just another victim of the bad education policy that is fighting for its last legs in the new era of Trumplandia. I completely understand that he wants better education outcomes for minority students. I do as well. I also want that for students with disabilities and English Language learners. It is the way Alleyne wants this that bothers me. If society as a whole has not learned the valuable lesson that the continued use of high-stakes testing is just plain bad for public education, than folks like Alleyne will continue to spread their “myths” and “facts”. I say opt out of not just the high-stakes testing but also opt out of false edu-speak that exists to sway parents of student populations and trapping them in a system where testing reigns supreme.
What’s Up With All The Teacher Union Hate?
If there is one consistent question I’ve been asked by parents who seek to understand this system of high-stakes tests it is this: if we don’t use these tests how do we measure how our schools are doing? It’s a damn good question and I won’t pretend to have the answer. I have always suggested that a student’s classroom grades are more of a true measure than these once a year test scores. I don’t believe in students going on to the next grade if they aren’t ready. That is when parents need to carefully watch their child’s progress. It is not the end of the world if a student is held back. We need to also trust our teachers that their years of preparation and continued training serve to benefit our child’s success in education. If you have doubts about a teacher’s effectiveness than certainly question it. I believe it is our sacred duty to do so. But when we are given lie after lie about teachers from these education think tanks about how bad unions are and how they only want what is best for them, we have to recognize the truth: these companies do NOT want teacher unions to exist at all. They don’t like the idea of teacher’s organizing on behalf of themselves because it takes away from their profit-making ventures. The sad part is how so many parents actually believe these horrible lies about public education. So when unions fight against these bad policies they are immediately painted as the villain in articles like the one Alleyne wrote today. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think the teacher unions are perfect. But I don’t think any organization, school, parent, student, or state agency is perfect. But there is a clear difference between offense and defense. I see corporate education reformers as a vicious marauder into areas where they have no business being in. The predictable result is teacher unions going on the defense against these schemes and agendas.
Opt Out Is The Only Defense
The only way to fight a bad system is to ignore it. This is why I have always defended a parent’s fundamental and God-given right to opt out of these silly little standardized tests. I refuse to give them the clout these companies think they deserve. I would rather hear the word of the teacher in the classroom who is on the ground floor watching the colossal waste of time these tests have. They are expensive, take up true teaching time, take up school resources, kill libraries during testing time, and the results serve no true purpose. If you haven’t opted your child out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment this year, please do so now. Even if they are already in the middle of testing. When many parents get the Delaware DOE suggested letter from the school about how opt out is illegal and the school can’t allow it, treat it as fire-starter material for a fire-pit in your backyard. Just write a letter to your child’s school stating you are opting your child out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment, hand it to the principal, and state there is to be no further discussion on the issue. If they attempt to dissuade you, give a pleasant “thank you but no thank you” and stand firm on your decision.
What Is A Governor To Do Facing A $385 Million Dollar Deficit?
For Delaware Governor John Carney, he faces a crucial moment. He has to make cuts in the state budget. There won’t be easy choices, but one should be a no-brainer: get rid of the dead and expensive weight at the Delaware DOE and get rid of the Smarter Balanced Assessment. Sever the ties between the Delaware DOE and these “non-profit” for-profit education companies. If that means getting rid of DOE employees whose sole existence is to continue what amounts to lobbying off the backs of children, just do it!
The True Goal Behind Alleyne And The Rodel Foundation
These are the end goals behind all this:
- Get rid of the teacher unions
- Have students learn in a 100% digital learning environment
- Create a competency-based education system which will prevent students with high needs from advancing more than ever before
- Track the hell out of the data in this ed-tech wonderland and create what amounts to a caste system where the best students get the best jobs and the struggling students get the menial jobs
- Do away with brick and mortar schools and have teachers become glorified online moderators
- Send young children to 3rd party organizations to get their “personalized learning” with Teach For America and other fast-track educator prep “teachers” guiding students
- Have older students logged into whatever Blockchain technology is coming our way where they “earn to learn” and companies profit from teenagers
Surf-And-Turf or Filet Mignon?
We see this in agendas like Delaware’s “Pathways to Prosperity” program. I attended Governor Carney’s Inaugural ball. All the food was prepared and served by students in the culinary program. The food was awesome. But did any of those students who prepared this food get paid for their servitude? I highly doubt it. I have no doubt they received some type of education credit for their service while the State of Delaware says “thanks for the cheap labor”. Or what about these “coding schools” where students pay thousands of dollars to train themselves on coding while at the same time doing work for very big companies through the training material? Our students are nothing more than fodder for corporations. They are the true victims in this new world and are being used by those whose biggest concern is if they should get the surf-and-turf or just the filet mignon at their next country club dinner.
The Rodel Foundation of Delaware came out with a whopper of a blog article today over on their site. Entitled “Can Personalized Learning Defray The Cost Of Special Education?”, this article dares to suggest that personalized/blended learning can help save on special education costs. By daring to think Rodel’s version of personalized learning (a constant zombie state whereby kids are in front of a computer all day going at their own pace) is the Dante’s Peak of education, Doc Paul Herdman and the gang have just poked this bear again. I’ve stayed quiet with these absolute idiots for far too long. I am wide awake. Message received.
Why does ANYONE in this state swallow their absolute crap anymore? What happens when these students with disabilities, who are going “at their own pace”, fall even further behind? With this craptacular system, actual grades a student are in wouldn’t matter. And they still have to take the not-so Smarter Balanced Assessment. But in Rodel’s world, they want the stealth testing. These are standardized tests embedded in the digital technology slowly taking over the classroom in Delaware. Once a student masters the content, they can move on. So what happens when they don’t? What happens when they don’t get it? They fall farther behind. I warned about this public education hara-kiri for well over a year and half. Now, here we are on the cusp of it. NOW is the time for parents to stand up and say “Screw you Rodel” and to take back public education. Our policy-makers and state officials have been drinking the Rodel Kool-Aid for 12 years now. Enough. Rodel doesn’t own Delaware. We the people do. Kids gloves are off now Rodel! Fair warning! And Delaware DOE and State Board of Education, if you even think of pushing this crap in Delaware more than you already have, I will unleash the public education parent hounds on you! Fair warning to whomever wins the DSEA President: Back far away from this nonsense. Do not be a part of it.
On Thursday, we will see new opt out legislation from State Rep. John Kowalko. It will be very similar to House Bill 50 but it will have a different number. I thought they would retire that number after the last go-around with opt out. Will House Bill #60something have a shot with Markell gone if the General Assembly passes it? Would Governor Carney sign it? Are parents still opting out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment? It doesn’t begin again until March so if parents are thinking about it, we won’t hear much noise until February. I still fervently support opt out as a parental choice and feel there should be legislation to codify that right. I already have a few ideas for a potential amendment but I’m holding that one very close to see how the response to the bill goes.
I will support this bill in its entirety. I will write about it and campaign for its passage. I don’t know if I will be as heavily involved in it as I was two years ago. But most of the legwork has already happened. House Bill 50 brought opt out into daily language in the First State. Markell fighting it most likely caused opt out numbers to increase. Some have (I believe correctly) surmised that ed reformers wanted opt out at some levels. Plans have been afoot to create stealth tests in a personalized learning environment. These would most likely be in the form of end-of-unit tests but it would still be the state assessment, just taken throughout the year. That could be a tough nut to crack. But all nuts have some crackability. You just have to find the right tool.
To date, three Delaware educators have announced their intention to run for President of the Delaware State Education Association. All three have announced this on Facebook. I know two of them, but I haven’t met the other candidate. Two of the candidates are running on a ticket with a Vice-President candidate. Who are these brave souls? Continue reading “DSEA President Battle Heats Up As Three Vie For The Top Spot”
Belief is a funny thing. Some people need to see something splattered all over newspapers and major news outlets to believe something is real. Others just need to hear one thing to think something is true. When it comes to education, what do you believe?
I recently had a conversation with someone who told me I was a conspiracy theorist. That what I am saying about the vast plans that have been going on with education and what is to come is nothing more than that. That I have no basis to prove my theories whatsoever. This person also informed me they don’t care about my theories and they have more important things to do with their life. I encouraged this person to do some research on their own and to come up with their own conclusions. When you talk about the agendas for public education to someone who is not deeply engrossed in the minutiae of what has been going on, it is very easy to sound like a crackpot. It won’t be the first time someone has expressed that I am crazy or wearing a tin hat. I’m sure it won’t be the last. But as I left that person, they were on Google looking up “Common Core conspiracy theories”.
To an outside observer, many of us who do the research with corporate education reform do sound crazy. But they haven’t poured through contracts and websites, or followed the money to see where billions of dollars are going. They haven’t read everything we have. They can’t accept how deep the tentacles reach. That this involves much more than education and has ties with the U.S. Departments of Defense, Health and Human Services, and Labor. That what is going on in public education will redefine society as we know it and strip away substantial rights of citizens in the future. It sounds so crazy it would have to be a conspiracy theory, right? And that is exactly what they are counting on, these masters of wealth and foundations, these billionaires who throw money around like it was nothing. “But these foundations do good things,” I’ve heard. Of course they do. They help people around the globe. If all they did was fund Common Core and personalized learning and education technology, it would be MUCH easier for people to follow the trail.
Our country is run by corporations. I can’t make people see this. I can’t make them understand that politicians are bought and sold like discounted goods on Black Friday. I can’t make them see the major media blackout on so much that is really going on. I hear so many people say “You can’t believe what you read on the Internet or on blogs.” I’ve seen it myself. There is a ton of bad information out there. I’ve published bad information before based on bad information or a misunderstanding. It happens. But when all the same trails lead to the same conclusions repeatedly, after a while the truth sinks in. It’s not like a lot of these companies are hiding what they want to do with data. They are announcing it on their websites or pushing it with policy briefs for the Every Student Succeeds Act. But who has the time to look at all that? If I weren’t hip to a lot of this stuff, I wouldn’t give any of it the time of day.
It is no longer theory when something has been proven. It is fact. And it is a fact that there are corporations and foundations, run by some of the richest people in the world, that want today’s youth and future generations to become servants to their masters. They will accomplish this through education by turning it into a data tracking system that will affect every facet of their lives: health, careers, outside interests, media, technology, and higher education. Everyone will be plugged in and led to believe what their lives should be. The data will tell them so. Meanwhile, those who aren’t plugged into the Blockchain technology coming our way, the masters, they will happily reap the profits of those who don’t want to believe.
As those who want to save our children from this future, how do we reach those who don’t want to believe? Who honestly don’t have the time or an inkling of how grand this scheme is? That it doesn’t matter who is President or this Secretary, they are just following the script written decades ago?
It’s real easy to play Monday morning quarterback after your team just took a huge hit. Donald Trump promised (and fooled) many citizens into thinking he could get rid of Common Core. So much so that his pick for Secretary of Education is now backtracking on her years of actions financially supporting Common Core. She sits on Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education. This foundation LOVES Common Core and all that comes with it. DeVos, through the Betsy and Steve DeVos Foundation, poured millions of dollars into pro-Common Core candidates.
On some Betsy DeVos Question and Answer website that sprung out of nowhere, she denounces Common Core. This website was created on 8/16/16, but her picture was just added this month. This isn’t some long-time website that shows the DeVos denunciation of Common Core. This website was created specifically for the possibility of a Trump win. Why would anyone put up a q and a website unless they knew what the opposition would immediately come out with? This is what she has to say about Common Core. Items in red are my response to that.
Q: There’s been a lot of talk about Common Core. Can you provide some straight talk on this topic?
Certainly. I am not a supporter—period.
Financial support into candidates and states that support it IS supporting it.
I do support high standards, strong accountability, and local control. When Governors such as John Engler, Mike Huckabee, and Mike Pence were driving the conversation on voluntary high standards driven by local voices, it all made sense.
State standards, as written in the Every Student Succeeds Act, are now state decisions. Trump couldn’t dump them if he tried. There is a big difference between state and local decisions. The states now call the shots on education. The locals are just along for the ride. Local control of education is a thing of the past.
Have organizations that I have been a part of supported Common Core? Of course. But that’s not my position. Sometimes it’s not just students who need to do their homework.
I don’t even know what that means Betsy DeVos. Common Core wasn’t created because kids weren’t doing their homework. It was set up for a VERY specific reason which I will get to soon.
However, along the way, it got turned into a federalized boondoggle.
A very intentional federalized boondoggle where states gave up ALL control to the feds. Once the states adopted the standards, it didn’t end there. In came the standardized testing, the accountability game that judges failing schools based on those same tests, as well as the longitudinal data (which was the real purpose which I will also get to later) creation in every state to allow student data to go out. Once everything was set up in the states through Federal funds (most of which did not go to local schools but to state Departments of Education who paid education reform companies billions of dollars), then the reauthorization of ESEA came about. ESSA is the shift towards this future. Giving the illusion of state control based on federal mandates and snake-oil deals from the Obama administration.
Above all, I believe every child, no matter their zip code or their parents’ jobs, deserves access to a quality education.
Every single corporate education reformer says this, but being pro-school choice has not equated to greater educational improvement for children overall. Especially children that are minorities, low-income, English Language learners, and students with disabilities.
Betsy DeVos, through her foundation work for her own foundation as well as others, has been on of the biggest driving forces for the privatization of American public education. But why? Where is all of this going?
As I put up my post about DeVos selection for the U.S. Secretary of Education, I was met with an onslaught of comments stating she doesn’t support Common Core. Actions speak louder than words. I immediately directed readers to this excellent post showing how she DOES support Common Core and how. And then I wrote this:
To put this in a very easy way to understand, Common Core was created to train young minds for constant all-the-time digital learning. State assessments (based on Common Core) will become stealth assessments embedded in personalized learning/competency-based education environments. Once they bust the unions, traditional school districts will fall. Charters will go online. Our young kids will go to local non-profits to learn online while older kids learn online in a pay to earn environment through Charter Online Inc. Meanwhile, all this data from ed tech is tracking every student and whoring out their personal data and gearing them towards pre-determined professions that corporations want, not the kids. Who do you think will profit from this? Charters. Teachers will become glorified moderators while parents watch their rights slowly disappear. Their kids will go to community health-based centers for everything. This is the grand agenda. There is nothing Trump can do to stop it. Complete control over the future by corporations. Read into plans for Blockchain technology to see where all of this is going…. This has NEVER been about kids. It has always been about corporate profit.
We are now at a huge tipping point with public education. I’ve actually seen parents today, on anti-Common Core Facebook pages, actually trying to convince me DeVos is a good pick and to give her a chance. This is what the corporate education reformers do best. They pit people against each other. While everyone is arguing about this and that, they are getting things done. Planting seeds to get the whole thing done. They are the masters of distraction. Bill Gates is just one of them. Today, we saw another billionaire get the top education job in the country. With no background of ever being an educator. Do you really think it is a coincidence that the past three Secretaries of Education have been fervent supporters of school choice, charter schools, and “higher standards”? You can call Common Core whatever you want. But it is the same everywhere, in every state. It is just a vessel to much bigger plans, a complete and utter transformation of society where the top will always be on the top, but true choice and upward mobility for the rest will be on the bottom. It is central to destroying who we are as a nation. A nation of freedom and free will. That will be stripped from us, forever. We will become the cradle to grave workforce with the rich and elite overlords looking down upon us. The future generations of today’s rich and elite who use their money and influence to reshape society to their mold.
This was going to happen no matter who won the Presidency. Clinton, Trump, Johnson, Stein… it didn’t matter. Who do you really think is running the show? Politicians? No. It is corporations. Follow the money. Read the stuff that is coming out right now through ESSA. Sift through the smoke and open your eyes America. And act. Do something. They have you fooled. Everyone is going nuts about Trump, both sides. Love or hate. Meanwhile, no one is talking about the WOIA bills in every state. Or the ed tech invasion happening in your schools. Or the shift towards getting rid of number grades towards the same type of scores on standardized tests. How many states are developing “Pathways” programs which shift education towards a pre-determined career rather than moving on to college? Trump doesn’t matter. Not in the long run. Neither did Clinton. This was going to happen before your very eyes.
Do you hear anyone, aside from student privacy groups, demanding Trump restore FERPA to pre-2008 and 2011 levels? No. Do you hear anyone making a big deal about the Bill Gates driven work group that is deciding data sharing at ALL levels? No. Do you know why? Because they are distracting you. And they are succeeding.
Someone wrote to me on Facebook today that to change things would require a rebellion. That person wasn’t promoting it. I am. It is what we need. And it has to happen now. Please share this article. Spread it. Make sure people see it and see the truth about what is happening. The reformers will say I am a conspiracy theorist. I will gladly take that. Because this is a vast conspiracy that has been playing out for decades. And they aren’t done yet. Time for a rebellion.
Capital School District sure has changed in just two years. Back in 2014, their board was railing against the Smarter Balanced Assessment and fully supporting a parent’s right to opt their child out of the test. Flash forward to now, and their board will be discussing something called a “Balanced Scorecard.”
This balanced scorecard is five-year goals for the district. Some of the goals are good: getting behavior referrals down, more parent involvement, things like that. But then I wanted to vomit when I saw goals for Smarter Balanced proficiency. Keep in mind this is just a draft. The board hasn’t decided on this. I’m at their board meeting now. I thought their meetings started at 7:30 but I haven’t been here for a while so it looks like they changed it to 7:00. Otherwise I would have assuredly giving public comment based on what I’m writing in this. The Smarter Balanced Assessment is the worst test Delaware students have ever taken. Why in the name of public education is this district wanting to kiss the DOE’s ass and follow their own despicable goals based on standardized test scores?
What truly shocked me was a goal of “increasing students exiting out of special education”. Currently they are using a baseline of 31% but they want to increase this to 41% in five years. I’m sorry, how do you put a measurement on unique disabilities that affect an individual student? While it is certainly true that students can fall out of needing special education for varying reasons, that seems like a very high number. As well, decisions on special education are decided on by an IEP team, not based on a district-driven strategic plan. This is highly disturbing on many levels. The last thing special education students is a district trying to hit some arbitrary goal and pushing schools to have students get out of IEPs.
The board is discussing this now. Board member Matt Lindell asked why the district can’t use this as their accountability scorecard. Superintendent Dr. Dan Shelton explained how the Delaware DOE has no intention of removing their own Delaware School Success Framework. That was the only question. Three members of this board sat in front of a very similar audience two years ago and proudly passed their opt out resolution. Now they seem like they have accepted the horrible status quo that is killing public education. The board is voting on the scorecard, passed 5-0. What the hell is wrong with this board? They are prescribing to the point of view of the Delaware DOE. They have fully accepted Common Core and Smarter Balanced as legitimate for their district.
In talking about technology in their ongoing Strategic Plan, there is a lot of talk about collaborating with BRINC and increasing ed tech in the classroom. More personalized learning. They have no clue, as they talk about building configuration, how they are signing their own district death warrant by signing on to all of this junk. The board is not asking questions about anything they should be asking. This isn’t the first time I’ve pointed this out with this board. Stop drinking the Kool-Aid Capital! You should be better than this! And I distinctly remember when Matt Lindell was President of the Board when they approved a letter to the General Assembly urging them to override Governor Markell’s veto of House Bill 50, the opt out bill. They never overrode the veto, so why has this district not come forth with an opt out policy like Red Clay and Christina did?
The upcoming special election for the 10th Senate District just got very interesting. As we all know, Bethany Hall-Long will vacate her Senate seat when she is appointed Lieutenant Governor of Delaware. In February or March, a special election will take place for her seat. I put up some possible contenders for the seat in an article last Friday. I assumed the Delaware GOP party would pick John Marino as the Republican frontrunner for Hall-Long’s seat. But from what I’m hearing today, a new name is being given serious thought on the Republican side… Continue reading “Will Delaware Republicans Try To Paint The Wall Red In 10th Senate District Special Election?”
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
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
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
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
…the transition to openly licensed educational resources has enabled school districts to reallocate funds typically spent on traditional instructional materials back into teachers curating and creating, as well as supporting a full digital transition.
The beginning of the end. Today, the Delaware Dept. of Education announced Red Clay Consolidated and Colonial School District have joined 27 other states for the “Go Open” initiative. the full-scale ed-tech invasion of public education will begin in two New Castle County school districts. No doubt they announced this the same day as the unveiling of the first draft of the state Every Student Succeeds Act plan. Trick or treat indeed…
Delaware launches open resource initiative
The Delaware Department of Education today announced the launch of a new statewide #GoOpen initiative, joining a cohort of states recognized by the U.S. Department of Education for their commitment to support school districts and educators transitioning to the use of high-quality, openly licensed educational resources in their schools.
“States are powerful collaborators in supporting and scaling innovation. They can connect forward-thinking educators, share effective ideas and approaches widely, amplify successes, and can support districts in leveraging limited resources,” says Joseph South, director of the Office of Educational Technology at the U.S. Department of Education. “With the launch of statewide #GoOpen initiatives, states are helping districts thoughtfully transition to a new model of learning by facilitating the creation of an open ecosystem of digital resources that can increase equity and empower teachers.”
Delaware was recognized for its commitment to implement a statewide technology strategy that includes the use of openly licensed resources as a central component, developing and maintaining a statewide repository solution for openly licensed resources, and participating in a community of practice with other #GoOpen states and districts to share learning and professional development resources. More information on Delaware’s #GoOpen commitment can be found here.
“Openly licensed educational resources will help increase equitable access to high-quality educational opportunities across our state and the country,” Secretary of Education Steve Godowsky said. “We are proud to be part of this work.”
Since the launch of #GoOpen, school districts from more than 27 states have worked with #GoOpen Ambassador districts and innovators from educational technology companies and nonprofit organizations who have committed to create new tools and provide professional learning opportunities to help districts in their transition to using high quality, openly licensed educational resources in their schools.
In Delaware, the Colonial and Red Clay Consolidated school districts have joined.
“It helps empower our teachers to make instructional decisions focused on standards and student needs using current and dynamic resources,” Colonial Director of Schools Pete Leida said. “As #GoOpen continues to grow, educators will have access to increased amounts of resources rather than be confined to static resources presented by a single publisher. It fosters collaboration, sharing, a sense of ownership and allows for personalization of instruction.”
Kristina Peters, K-12 Open Education Fellow at the U.S. Department of Education, said the transition to openly licensed educational resources has enabled school districts to reallocate funds typically spent on traditional instructional materials back into teachers curating and creating, as well as supporting a full digital transition.
“We are excited that Delaware is committed to supporting its districts in using openly licensed educational resources,” she said.
For more details on #GoOpen commitments made by states, school districts, and technology companies, visit http://tech.ed.gov/open.
The meeting is about to start. A facilitator introduced himself. Didn’t hear his name. Secretary Godowsky is talking about how the ESSA Adv. Comm. came about (Executive Order #62). Stakeholder input is important. Goal is to submit plan by March, 2017. Thanking everyone for being on the committee. Secretary Godowsky just told the group Delaware schools grew by 1,100 students this year. Appo Super Matt Burrows (the chair) is talking now. Some late members of the committee are forced to sit against the walls cause they don’t have enough chairs to go around the table.
Rollcall: Tony Allen, Atnre Alleyne, Alex Palaono, Matt Burrows, Catherine Hnt, Nancy Labanda, Madeleine Bayard, LaShanda Wooten, Laurissa Schutt, Kim Williams, Nelia Dolan, Stephanie De Witt, David Sokola, Rodman Ward, Eileen DeGregoriis, Wendee Bull, Barbara Rutt, Leolga Wright, Cheryl Carey, Susan Bunting, Deb Stevens, Tammi Croce, Patrick Callahan, Janine Clark, and Genesis Johnson. Other people in attendance are as follows. DOE: Michael Watson, Karen Field-Rogers, Secretary Godowsky, Angeline Rivello, DSEA: Kirsten Dwyer. Caesar Rodney teachers Laurie Howard and Natalie Ganc.
Delaware State Rep. Kim Williams reacted to a statement from the facilitator. She wanted clarification on who is writing the ESSA state plan. The Delaware DOE is. The Adv. Comm. will give recommendations. Tony Allen asked about the due dates for the plan. The facilitator told him there are two due dates, March 31st and July 31st. Delaware chose March 31st because it takes the US DOE 120 days to approve it and they want to get it going by the start of the 2017-2018 school year.
Alex Nook with the Penn Hill Group is giving a presentation on ESSA. He is familiar with federal education law. ESSA gives states more leeway but still has accountability and so forth. Now he is talking about Title I. He asked if anyone in the room doesn’t know what Title I is. No one raised their hand (thank God). States are still required to set long-term goals for academic achievement. Unlike No Child Left Behind, 100% of kids don’t have to be proficient. ESSA gives states flexibility. What kind of accountability system should we have. What works for some schools and what do we need to do for struggling schools. The requirement for turnaround schools but if they want mo money they have to do something for those schools. English Language learners have more focus in ESSA. English proficiency for these students is now a requirement in federal education law. But states determine the timeline for this. Kim Williams asked if this means we won’t fire principals and teachers in turnaround schools. Nook said not federally required. Atnre Alleyne asked what the percentage of Title I funds have to go to struggling schools. Nook said 7%. Alleyne asked how much fed money Delaware is getting. Karen Field-Rogers said she would find out.
Nook said Title II funds are for teachers and professional development. $2 billion nationally, every school district gets a portion of them. Congress felt school leaders weren’t getting enough federal dollars so they allowed states to set aside 3% of funds to ensure leaders get prof. development as well. The rest of the fed money goes to schools and districts for teachers and prof. development.
Another pot of money is Title IV funds. This is a new program. They are consolidating this into a Student Supports and Academic Enrichment Grant. The former funds didn’t work well so this is a larger flexible program. Money is more for what a school district or charter school needs. This is figured out at the local level and not through Congress. Congress hasn’t approved a final amount for this. Obama Administration, Congress, and the Senate are all floating different numbers. There is no existing funding mechanism for this. 21st Century Learning Program will continue. Charter School program will continue: $ for start-ups, help, resources for charters.
Nook is answering questions. DeGregoriis asked for more info on the charter school funding. Alleyne asked about highly qualified teachers and state equity plans. Congress wrote definition, according to Nook, of what a highly qualified teacher was under NCLB. Congress decided that should not be a requirement of the law. Now all teachers must meet state certification plans, so whatever Delaware says, that is it. With the equity plan, a carryover from NCLB, disadvantaged kids can’t be taught by ineffective and inexperienced teachers. That was the plan for why Obama and Congress created the equity plan. These plans weren’t in statute before and the next administration will have more say on what happens with that. Class-size waivers will still be allowed. That can be done through Title II. Kim Williams asked about requirements for a teacher to teach in a classroom. Nook said highly qualified teachers are done but the states handle requirements for this. LaShonda Wooten said highly qualified teachers have to take a test to be highly qualified. So before the feds mandated this, now the states do.
Now Nook is talking about the dreaded R word… regulations. Regulations make sure rules don’t go against the will of Congress for the intent of the law. US DOE put out regulations for accountability and assessments (even though many members of Congress are against John King’s massive overreach on this). These are proposed regulations and the public comment period closed. The accountability regulations had over 21,000 public comments (one was mine, LOL). Regulations say states must have tests available in second most commonly spoken language in the state. Delaware’s plans will hinge on the final form of these regulations so our plans could change. This is one of the reasons why Delaware wants to submit their plans in March. Nook is anticipating the final regulatory package in late November/early December. There will also be an application package put out by US DOE. Deb Stevens asked if the regulations will be ironed out for the states that submit their plans in early March. Nook said it will be very difficult for US DOE to adhere to those due dates if the regulations aren’t set in stone. Nook said he has faith in US Secretary of Education John King to make sure this is done. Stevens asked about giving states more time for the 17-18 school year if things aren’t set in stone. Would Delaware get that flexibility? Nook believes US DOE would be open to that but nothing is written on paper. He understands you don’t want to risk Title I dollars over this kind of stuff.
Nook said the accountability system has to have five different standards, including English Language learner proficiency. The fifth category is picked by the states. Nook said Delaware has an advantage because we already have a multi-level accountability system. Seven states are “competency-based” pilot states. Delaware will have to decide what they want to do (hell to the no on Delaware going competency-based- editor’s note). Nook said the Presidential election will have a huge impact on everything. Whether it is Trump or Clinton there might be change. A new Secretary could change due dates from March to April or change regulatory matters. They may advocate for different funding for programs.
DeGregoriis asked what the benefit is for Delaware submitting their plan early with all these what ifs… Nook said the benefit is being in better shape for budgetary decisions. It sounds like Delaware wants input. Secretary Godowsky said the March due date is a goal. But it could change given all the moving targets. Godowsky said we are making a good effort. Kim Williams asked how we are going to get the new Delaware administration’s input as well. That is her concern with a March due date. She said we could have a new Secretary of Education. Godowsky said they WILL have a new Secretary of Education. He feels if there is a lot of change with the plan, there could be due date changes.
Stevens asked Nook to explain supplement vs. supplant. He defines it as federal dollars are supposed to supplement and not replace systems. Federal dollars need to be on top of a state or local set of resources. There is contention in Congress over this, and a new regulation is out there and public comment is still open until early November. Congress feels Title I should be a more equalized state and local amount of funding. The US DOE is moving forward on the regulations to give districts options on how to even out funding. Stevens explained she understands it could affect local staffing in Title I schools. Tony Allen asked if this is dollar for dollar or equitable funding. Nook said the US DOE is giving districts four options to choose from. (Note to self: look into this one a lot more).
Alleyne asked if this will kick the can down the road more for struggling schools. Nook said Delaware chose to freeze schools for this year that would have gone under the SIG program like previous years. Nook is done. Five minute break.
Break is over. Karen Field-Rogers is talking about what the DOE has done already. She is explaining how they had stakeholder consultation groups they meet with on an already continual basis throughout the year. They have held four community conversations in Dover, Georgetown, Middletown, and Wilmington. There are two discussion groups: School Success and Reporting AND Student and School Supports. They have also had a survey open on their website and they have had over 400 submissions already. The DOE wants a first draft of the plan by the end of this month. They just announced the new Community Conversations. There will be gaps in the first draft. The DOE wants comments. It is not a complete plan at all. They also want to have the first draft so the new Governor-elect will be able to provide input. DOE wants to submit second draft of the plan by the end of the year. Susan Bunting asked if the public will be able to comment online for the drafts. DOE is talking to their lawyers about that. (What? Why?). There were over 100 nominations for the discussion groups. They worked w/organizations like DSEA to pick those members. Only 54 were chosen (27 for each group). Alleyne asked if the representation on the different groups represented the diversity of the state. Field-Rogers believes they have. She said they were very careful about this. She said in Wilmington they partnered with the Christina Cultural Arts Center and there was a block party afterwards. Williams asked what the purpose of the Community Conversations were? Field-Rogers said it is to help guide the DOE with their plan. All the discussion group minutes are on the DOE website (or on Exceptional Delaware- editor’s note). The DOE is in the process of “synthesizing” all the responses to the surveys and will be releasing that information soon.
Facilitator is going over piece of paper handed out to everyone. Asking questions: what is the most important thing that Delaware should accomplish for its schools through its ESSA Plan? What three areas are you most interested in reviewing? The five groups are Supporting Excellent Educations for All Students, Challenging Academic Standards and Assessments, Measures of School Success and Public Reporting, School Support and Improvement, and Supporting All Students. He is giving the group five minutes to fill out the sheet. Then the group will caucus in four to five groups. One person in the group will be a facilitator for each group and will report out to the whole group.
Groups are done meeting. I was chatting with the Laverne and Shirley of Delaware education most of the time. Atnre Alleyne is talking for his group. A big focus of his group was educator equity and accountability. Who is accountable when gaps in the system happen? What happens when people leave the state and more gaps continue? Next group, Laurissa Schutt said their group talked about the timing of the group. As well, they talked about academic supports and how much local discretion there will be. Wendee Bull is talking for the third group: how to still have the rigor we have now, to make sure districts still have accountability to uphold that rigor. The facilitator said ESSA doesn’t totally give up federal oversight of accountability but gives more leeway. It will be determined how much of that flexibility will occur and it will be a balancing act. Patrick Callihan represented the last group. He agreed with Atnre. In order to get there we need a fair and balanced system. Start to change the stigma of how schools are being guided. The feds don’t know a lot about what is going on in Delaware.