Jack Markell Under Investigation By Ed Authorities ***Debunked***April Fool’s Day***

Well, that didn’t take long.  It turns out former Delaware Governor Jack Markell is under investigation.  I can’t say I’m surprised given some of his questionable activities concerning education during his term as Delaware Governor of the First State.  It’s like I’ve always said, Delaware is the first to sign the constitution but the last to follow it.  But what is he under investigation for? Continue reading “Jack Markell Under Investigation By Ed Authorities ***Debunked***April Fool’s Day***”

Ron Russo Lost Me With Jeb Bush, I Think I’m Going To “Go Home”!

Ron Russo, a senior fellow at the right-leaning Caesar Rodney Institute, wrote a blog post yesterday with a BOLD PLAN for Delaware schools.  By even mentioning former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and the Foundation for Excellence in Education in the very first sentence, it was hard to lend any credibility to this piece.  But I read the whole thing out of morbid curiosity.

…Governor Jeb Bush, the keynote speaker, told the attendees that they had to, “Be big, be bold, or go home.”

I would have left at that point and proudly went home.  Jeb Bush has made a ton of money capitalizing off the backs of schools and students.  He is the very essence of corporate education reform.  I give anything he says zero weight.

Russo seems to view former Red Clay Consolidated Board President William Manning as the Messiah of Delaware education:

He recommended a confederation of independent schools each locally managed and free of regulations about who to hire and how to teach.  The schools would be evaluated only by performance data that would be shared with the public.

Manning’s vision created charter schools that do not serve the populations within their district boundaries.  Quite a few Delaware charters have selective enrollment preferences that seem to further segregation and push out kids with high needs.  Manning was the lead attorney in the lawsuit against the Christina School District when charters that serve Christina students sued the district to get more money per student.  Eventually the lawsuit wound up becoming a settlement that further stripped funds away from the district.  Russo’s BOLD PLAN is modeled after the original charter school bill, Senate Bill 200:

The Caesar Rodney Institute is supporting a systemic change to our education bureaucracy called the “BOLD PLAN”.  It significantly alters the way the current education system operates by empowering the individual schools to make operational decisions to best serve their students.

In theory, this would be a great idea.  However, Russo lost me yet again when he brought up the VERY controversial priority schools as a potential model for this plan:

CRI’s BOLD PLAN incorporates the best features of the 1995 Charter School Law and the Memorandum of Understanding designed by Delaware’s DOE for Priority Schools.  If the changes proposed in the MOU were expected to raise the performance of the state’s lowest performing schools, why wouldn’t those changes be offered to all public schools?

Sorry Ron, but the priority school Memorandums of Understanding were absolutely horrible and did more to create parent backlash in Wilmington than anything seen before.  So what would this plan consist of?  Therein lies the rub:

BOLD legislation would specify areas of local decision-making.  Such areas would include: 1) Authority to hire and dismiss all staff; 2) All programing inputs (school calendar, schedule, curriculum aligned to Delaware standards, instructional practices and methodology, textbooks, technology, etc.); 3) Marketing and planning; 4) Support services including transportation, food, and maintenance; 5) Budget preparation and expenditure control with surplus operating funds retained by the school.  Schools will have autonomy from any district or Delaware DOE requirements not mandated by state or federal law.

This legislation has more holes than a donut shop.

  1. What happens if the board membership or the Superintendent of the district is not operating under normal parameters of their function?  What if personal grudges get in the way of a sound decision to hire or dismiss all staff?  Delaware is a small state and conflicts of interest are well-known in this state.
  2. You lost me at “Delaware standards”.  If you truly want to give local education authorities the coveted local control, they would be free to set their own curriculum without being tied to any type of standard pushed down from the state or federal government.  I have yet to see any indication Delaware will get rid of Common Core which was created under false pretenses.
  3. Don’t they already do this anyway?
  4. See #3
  5. That would not be a good thing.  Delaware charter schools already keep their surplus transportation funds in a sweetheart deal with the General Assembly and there is no apparatus to make sure those funds are being used with fidelity.  What is the point of even having a district or charter board if the school can do whatever it wants with extra money?  This proposal sounds like anarchy.

Russo’s logic becomes even more confusing when he casually drops the Rodel Visionfests and Race To The Top into his conversation:

The BOLD PLAN complements Delaware’s other education improvement efforts (Visions, Races, etc.).  In fact, it may even complete them.

I don’t think completion of those plans is something anyone in Delaware really wants.  Race To The Top was an unmitigated disaster with funds going to the state Department of Education more than local school districts.  The Vision Coalition goals further perpetuate many bad corporate education reform policies.  It is hard to take anything they do seriously when the CEO of the Rodel Foundation of Delaware, Dr. Herdman, makes over $345,000 a year.

Ironically, Russo channels Dan Rich who has been very involved with the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission’s proposed Wilmington redistricting.  But Russo doesn’t bring him up in any way related to that endeavor but rather his involvement with the Vision Coalition:

At the very first Vision 2015 meeting hosted by Dan Rich, then Provost of the University of Delaware, he ended the meeting by telling the attendees that if they wanted to improve Delaware’s public schools they had to be bold and, if they didn’t want to be bold, they should get out.  Hmmmm, it seems that Dan was way ahead of Jeb.

Comparing Rich to Jeb Bush almost seems insulting.  Of course, any education push should be bold.  But by telling people if you don’t like it to “get out” or “go home” it is essentially saying if you don’t agree with us we won’t give you the time of day.  That is NOT the way education issues should be ironed out and only creates more of a divide.  The Delaware charter school experiment, now well into it’s third decade, has met with very mixed results.  It has not been the rousing success the forefathers of the original legislation thought it would be.  Why would Delaware even entertain this idea based on that?  And lest we forget, all this imaginary “success” is based on standardized test scores, of which Delaware has gone through three different state assessments since then.  Sorry Ron, but this is not a BOLD PLAN.  It is an old plan, that just plain doesn’t work.

I have to wonder about the timing of this article.  The Caesar Rodney Institute has long been a fierce supporter of school vouchers.  Delaware has been very resistant to that system under Democrat control but under the Trump administration and the appointment of Betsy DeVos as the U.S. Secretary of Education, it is not surprising to see Russo coming out with this type of article.  President Trump and DeVos want a federal school voucher system that has already met with disappointing results in several states.

New Faces Enter The Mix For Delaware Secretary Of Education & A Message For John Carney

Who will be the Delaware Secretary of Education under Governor John Carney?  My moles and sources have given me new names in the hunt for the Education Czar of Delaware.  One of them I really, really like! Continue reading “New Faces Enter The Mix For Delaware Secretary Of Education & A Message For John Carney”

Delaware Competency-Based Education, Part 2: Reinventing Schools & Dark Omens

At the first official meeting for the Delaware Dept. of Education/Rodel created Guiding Coalition for Competency-Based Learning, an email went out to members to research an organization called Reinventing Schools.  Theresa Bennett with the DOE sent the following email:

guiding-coalition-1st-meeting

Bennett announces that a Kim Hanisch from the Reinventing Schools Coalition will be facilitating their meetings.  The organization changed their name because of the initials, RISC, to Reinventing Schools.  This group received their start-up funds from the Gates Foundation.  A blog called Save Maine Schools gave a very detailed description of the man that runs Reinventing Schools, Dr. Joseph Marzano.  I imagine Rodel and Reinventing Schools have a lot in common since they are both lovers of competency-based education and personalized learning in a digital classroom.  Oddly enough, Reinventing Schools does not list Delaware in their map of schools and districts they work with.  I guess non-profits don’t count as true education centers of learning!  Save Maine Schools referred to Marzano as just another corporate education reform snake-oil salesman.  His ideas, according to the article and commenters, were nothing new but repackaged to further this modern-day Competency-Based Education mixed with Personalized Learning in a digital environment.

As I mentioned in Part 1 of this series, a lot was going on in Delaware education at this time.  The priority schools debacle was heating up.  On the same day as this first meeting of the “Guiding Coalition”, the Christina and Red Clay Consolidated Boards of Education were holding meetings to decide their next steps with the Delaware DOE and Governor Markell.  Red Clay indicated they would capitulate with the DOE, but Christina was defiant and insisted on writing their own Memorandum of Understanding with the DOE.  The priority schools MOU called for the firing of half the teachers and each school had to get a new principal.  As teachers and Delaware citizens seethed, a growing voice was calling for the resignation of Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy and a new employee at the DOE named Penny Schwinn, who led the Accountability & Assessment department, soon became the most hated person in the Delaware education landscape.  Many, including legislators, began wondering what the heck Delaware did with all the Race To The Top money and FOIAs started going out to the Delaware DOE.

As a result of this, the Wilmington Education Advisory Committee was born.  Governor Markell issued an Executive Order to come up with recommendations on how to deal with the rising Wilmington education crisis.  Bank of America Communications Chief  and Former Chair of the Wilmington Metropolitan Urban League, Tony Allen, was chosen to lead the committee.  Meanwhile, a certain blogger started talking about Delaware Opt Out more and more.  All of these were easy distractions for those who were very worried about what was going on with Delaware education.  Markell was taking a very hard stance on the priority schools.  Nobody saw what was going in with the back-door and secret meetings of the Guiding Coalition.

The Rodel Foundation of Delaware was busy preparing for their next Vision Coalition annual conference.  One of their guests at the conference was a company called 2Revolutions.  I did not attend the conference, but I followed along on Twitter.  I decided to look into this digital learning company and was shocked by what I found.  Pretty much everything I am current writing about with Corporate Education Reform 2.0 is covered in that link.  That was from almost two years ago.  The next day I received an email from the Governor’s Advisory Council for Exceptional Citizens (GACEC):

gacechalloweenemail

This email contained a copy and paste from the Rodel Teacher Council for their “Performance Learning” blueprint which I included in an article I wrote on this.  I was skeptical of Rodel based on everything I saw and read before that email from the GACEC.  But this horrified me.  It was obvious Rodel was facilitating the reinvention of Delaware education and nobody was paying attention.  Changes were taking place.  The Delaware DOE was not running the show.  It was Rodel.  I began to commit myself to finding out all I could about Rodel.  It was Halloween and nothing horrified me more than what I wrote about that dark evening.  I didn’t truly understand it all at that time.  There was a lot going on.  But this was the beginning of putting the puzzle pieces together.  However, the upcoming General Election in Delaware would cause things to change in the Delaware General Assembly that would provide very big distractions for many.

As everyone prepared for a potential takeover of the Priority Schools, the Delaware DOE and Rodel continued their secret meetings.  To be continued in Part 3: Rodel gets a surprise and a matter of civil rights…

 

Dave Sokola’s Commercial For Corporate Education Reform & Money For The Poverty Pimps Will Not Sway Voters

Delaware Senator David Sokola is frantic over his upcoming election.  Meredith Chapman, a Republican in his district, filed earlier this year to run against the long-time Senator.  So how does Sokola respond to the many allegations that his actions have thwarted Delaware education for 25 years?  He writes a letter to the News Journal pimping the very same bad policies he helped create.  He does this by praising a report on how America has No Time To Lose, brought to us by the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Oh, and Dave helped write the report…

I felt the need to point out some of Dave’s fallacies in this letter.

We’re lucky in Delaware to have collaboration among our public and charter schools, businesses, unions, and higher ed institutions, plus community, foundation, and state leaders.  If we are going to succeed, and sustain that success, we need to be open, transparent and inclusive.

In Delaware, we call this the Rodel Foundation and their ten-year roadmap Vision programs and coalitions.  They send out surveys that lean heavily towards what they want and call that stakeholder input.  And since so many Delawareans believe in “The Delaware Way”, these education leaders and members of the business community feed the fire by sitting at the table.  Meanwhile, Dr. Paul Herdman pushes this because, well, that $344,000 salary sure is groovy.  Sokola’s firm belief in successful schools led to the creation of one of the most discriminatory schools in America, Newark Charter School.  Everything he does props up this school which he relies on for votes every time the election cycle spins around again.  And we saw this district and charter collaboration really working this past weekend in one of the shadiest back-room deals Delaware education has ever seen.  And I have no doubt in my mind that Sokola was somehow involved in that charter school scam.  Which charter school in Delaware would have received the most benefit from this change in funding?  Newark Charter School.  And it was their idea!  Thank God enough legislators acted fast enough to put this very bad idea on pause.  He is a bill destroyer when legislation comes around that would actually prevent his own ideas from coming to fruition.  His sole pupose in the General Assembly is to pervert the masses with Governor Markell’s very bad education beliefs.  In terms of “transparency”, this is a guy who doesn’t feel posting minutes for the Senate Education Committee is important.  The same guy who changes agendas for these meetings at the last-minute and yells at parents during meetings when they disagree with him.  Yeah, that guy…

We’re piloting innovative clinical residency programs and lab schools, on top of new models for peer observation, feedback, and reflection.

In corporate education reform lingo, we call this Teach For America, Relay Graduate Schools, and other bad teacher practices that put college graduates in low-income schools with six weeks of training.  Many of these “teachers” don’t end up staying in the profession and end up working for state Departments of Education or the thousands of education poverty pimp companies out there that take money from the classroom.  Sokola gutted a bill that would remove the Smarter Balanced Assessment as a sole factor in one of the components of our teacher evaluation system in Delaware.  He also thought having parent and student surveys would be a good idea in determining a teacher’s evaluation score.  The bill passed, but our Governor Markell hasn’t signed it yet.

The fact is that most American state education systems are falling dangerously behind the world in a number of international comparisons and on our own National Assessment of Educational Progress, leaving the United States overwhelmingly underprepared to success in the 21st century economy.

Yeah, we were fooled on this when Common Core and Race To The Top came into our lives.  Race To The Top ended, and many states are attempting to remove Common Core from their state standards.  The experiment failed.  What Sokola can’t get through his thick head is that Americans aren’t believing the lies anymore.  We don’t care what these reports say because we know they are built on statistics that are created to benefit these reports.  Many of the same people involved in this latest report created the very same tests that show we are failing.  And now they are telling us to trust them and find a new path for our country at risk (again)?  Sorry Dave, you can only tell the same story so many times until it starts sounding like crap.  This is a commercial.  Paid for by U.S. taxpayers.

And which countries did Sokola visit to make these grand-standing statements?

We visited high-performing systems here in the United States, as well as Beijing and Shanghai, China, to learn more about their success.

Okay, let’s go back to the old chestnut in comparing the U.S. to China.  This has been debunked more times than I can count.  China uses only the most successful students to take their standardized tests.  So of course their results will skew higher.  Enough Dave.  That is so 2012.

What kills me though is reading some of the names involved in this report.  But one stands out above the rest: Marc Tucker.  He is listed as the CEO and President of the National Center on Education and the Economy, who wrote their own “Tough Choices, Tough Times” report ten years ago which served as an impetus for Common Core. Yes, that Marc Tucker.  The one who wrote Hillary Clinton a letter in 1992 which set the blueprint for all that went down in public education since.  The one who believed every single word of the 1983 horror show called “A Nation At Risk”.  But now we need to heed these prophetic whispers of doom in this new report, according to Tucker:

This hard-hitting, refreshingly honest report is a bipartisan clarion call for a very different definition of ‘education reform’ than the one that has dominated the American political landscape for years.  The country will ignore it at its peril.

Okay Dr. Doom.  Thanks for your words of wisdom.  I think America is pretty much done with you.  How much money have you made on the “fix American education” racket you’ve been involved in for 25 years?  Which is about as long as Dave Sokola has been pimping this same bad education policy in Delaware.

Sokola is trying to give himself some credibility where he has none.  The barometer of everything that comes out of this washed-up Senator is the standardized test.  He lives and breathes on these tests.  He ignores the realities behind them and how they aren’t a true measurement of student success.  He is a broken record, stuck in the same groove since 1990.  He knows he is in extreme danger of losing his Senate seat.  But he isn’t listening to anything the majority of Delawareans are telling him: “Shut up Dave!”  Instead we get these cash in the trash reports designed solely to make corporations richer that take desperately needed funds out of our schools.

On Election Day this year, do the best thing in the world for the children in the 8th Senate District.  Vote for Meredith Chapman and help our children in the 21st Century to be one notch away from bad education policy in Delaware.  Look beyond party politics.  People like Sokola, who pretend to be Progressives, ride that train so they can get in the system for their own twisted agendas.  Dump Dave!

Jack Markell, Blockchain, Coding Schools, Rodel, BRINC, Pathways To Prosperity, Registered Agents… Delaware’s Role In “The Ledger”

If Washington D.C. is the capital of America, than Delaware is the capital of corporate education reform.

Over the past week, many of us who are resisting the privatization of public education have been talking about The Ledger.  Peter Greene broke the news for the world to see, which Diane Ravitch quickly picked up on.  What is “The Ledger”? Continue reading “Jack Markell, Blockchain, Coding Schools, Rodel, BRINC, Pathways To Prosperity, Registered Agents… Delaware’s Role In “The Ledger””

The Judases On The Rodel Teacher Council & How They Changed Public Education Forever In Delaware **UPDATED**

Establish a “critical mass” of support for CBL in DE and leverage supportive voices to raise awareness about CBL

CBLRodelGroup

A group of Delaware teachers, in conjunction with a few Superintendents, principals, a high-ranking member of the Delaware PTA, the executive director of the State Board of Education and members of the Delaware Department of Education found a way to sneak in a future-changing regulation eight months ago with a group no one knew about and never had any notices of public meetings.  But all is not as it appears.  In doing so, they opened the gates to one of the most dangerous corporate education reformers out there.

Have you ever heard of the Delaware Department of Education Competency-Based Learning Guiding Coalition?  Me neither.  Until last night.  In doing a massive amount of research on the Leader In Me program in many of our Delaware schools (and there will be MUCH more on that coming), I found a very odd write-up on the Rodel Foundation of Delaware website.

In investigating a school in the Capital School District that is heavily promoting the snake-oil Leader In Me program, I came across the Rodel Teacher Council section of their website on a Google search.  And there it was, under Michele Johnson of Towne Point Elementary School in Capital School District.  I knew she was involved in the Leader In Me program, but what I didn’t know and had never heard of was the Delaware Department of Education’s Competency-Based Learning Guiding Coalition.  I’ve looked at every single section of the DOE website and never found anything about it.  So I went back to Google.  I found a link to a pdf from a State Board of Education work session on July 16th, 2015.

To give some more background, this was an important day in Delaware education.  It was the same day Delaware Governor Jack Markell vetoed House Bill 50.  The State Board holds their work sessions during the morning before their board meetings.  The State Board did have it on their agenda for this work session but try looking for anything else on this group and you will be hopelessly lost.  With most groups at the Delaware DOE, there is something listed somewhere.  But not with this one.  There was no notice of public meetings and no transparency whatsoever.    Why would there be?  This was a Rodel group from their hand-picked teacher council.  If you never believed Rodel was running education in Delaware, you will after reading the below document.  Every single thing I’ve been writing about on this blog for the past nine months: about competency-based education, personalized learning, pathways to prosperity, the “Dear Hillary” letter, it is all in this 10 page pdf in some form.

So this group recommended finding a way past these barriers to competency-based education in Delaware.  The pictures of the post-it notes show words like “urgency” and “barriers”.  They mention collective bargaining as a “system barrier”.  This Rodel Teacher Council sold their souls to Rodel when they joined this cabal.  In the above document there is an entity called Reinventing Schools.  I’ve heard of this company but this is the first time I ever saw them mentioned in Delaware.  But obviously Rodel has been working with them behind the scenes for many years.  To find out why, I highly suggest reading this article on the funded by the Gates Foundation organization led by Dr. Marzano.

I put a picture at the beginning of this article with the members of this Rodel created group.  While I’m not surprised by most of the names, one of them stood out: Yvonne Johnson.  As the face behind the Delaware PTA for many years, Johnson has been involved in many groups in one form or another.  I originally wrote, and have now changed in this article, is how Johnson was involved with this group.  I just spoke to Yvonne Johnson who was very upset about her supposed involvement with the Competency-Based Learning Guiding Coalition.  As Johnson told me, she was invited to a webinar on this and there was a meeting at Howard High School of Technology about it.  She said she does not support competency-based education and the other Delaware PTA member, Ashley Gray, told this group this was not for the Delaware PTA.  Obviously the Rodel machine presented this information to the State Board of Education, close to a year later, suggesting the full involvement of Delaware PTA.  But that is not the case.  It is just another example of our State Board of Education being duped by Rodel into passing regulations they really don’t have a clue about.

The biggest barrier to implementing competency-based education in Delaware was the graduation requirements.  They had to change existing state code to do that.  Lo and behold, they did exactly that.  But not without some old fashioned trickery.  At the August 20th State Board meeting, Regulation 505 was put up for discussion by the State Board.

SBOEReg505

In listening to the State Board audio recording for this meeting, notice how it is introduced as having nothing to do with competency-based education.  For a long time, they talk around it.  It isn’t until the President of the State Board, Dr. Teri Quinn Gray, seeks clarification on this regulation that anyone in that room would know what they were talking about.  As well, Tina Shockley with the DOE sped through describing the regulation very fast.  But when the conversation gets going, Michael Watson from the DOE responds to a question from Gray about struggling students.  He responds by saying  some students can reach mastery in 180 days but for other students it may take longer and that’s okay.  So is he suggesting some students will have to go to school longer?

At the September State Board meeting, when everyone was going nuts about opt out penalties in the Delaware School Success Framework/Regulation 103 fiasco, the State Board passed this regulation.  But I find it hysterical how all the language surrounding the DSCFY wasn’t even needed to begin with which I’m sure the DOE was well aware of.  In my opinion, they put it in the regulation to put the focus around that knowing it would be removed to get what they want.

So what does all this mean?

Here is the easiest way to break it down.  This isn’t a Delaware thing.  It is happening all over the country.  To put it in a nutshell, corporations took over public education.  This is a plan that has been in place for decades.  First they had to make it look like public schools were failing students.  This began in 1983 when the report called A Nation At Risk was released by the federal government.  This damning report on public education changed the perception of schools in America.  It also began the thirty-three year coordinated attack against teacher unions.  Ten years later, the country’s first charter schools came into being.  At the same time, Bill Clinton became the U.S. President.  His wife Hillary received a letter from Marc Tucker, who went on to be one of the chief architects of Achieve Inc. and the Common Core.

By the late 1990s, standardized testing with high-stakes was the law of the land in Delaware.  When Delaware launched the DSTP test, students did horrible on it.  Many students dropped out of school as testing mania took over the state.  Graduation rates dropped due to the requirement of proficiency on the horrible test.  In 2002, No Child Left Behind demanded all students in America become proficient on these high-stakes tests by 2014.  It was completely absurd and everyone knew it, but it was a stall tactic.  As Common Core came out in President Obama’s second year, Delaware switched to another test called DCAS.  While not as bad as DSTP, it was offered two to three times a year.  Race To The Top was in full swing along with all the ESEA Flexibility Waivers.  Charter schools were rising in popularity for the past decade and the teacher unions were under attack.  To get all of this going, the teacher unions had to be destroyed.  But they couldn’t bust the unions, just give them a slow and painful death.

Many teacher unions across the country caved in to the new corporate education reform suggestions.  They could have fought it, but it would have given an already rising bad perception of them an even worse one.  So with the help of school boards, the unions signed on to Race To The Top.  Even the state PTAs got sucked into the Common Core/Race To The Top vortex.  Common Core was the boss, teachers were the servants, and students were the true victims.  Then came the even newer high-stakes assessments tied to the Common Core.  Meanwhile, new education think tanks and non-profits emerged from nowhere to give more and more bad news about education and how to fix it.  In Delaware,  we call them the Rodel Foundation and the Vision Coalition.  They have been around for a long time, but they are one and the same and they are as venomous to public education as any of these other education fixit organizations.

So here we are now, in 2016.  Governor Markell finishes up next January and in comes John Carney.  Like the rushed implementation of Common Core, in the next few years we will see the “urgency” to incorporate full-time competency-based learning in our schools.  Our students will be on the computer all the time in this era of “personalized learning” while our teachers become glorified guides and facilitators.  As veteran teachers leave the profession in droves, we will see more duds like Teach For America and Relay Graduate School coming into our schools.  They won’t be union, and they will take over.  With their corporate driven brainwashing, we will see more “teacher-leaders” come into play via programs like “Leader In Me”.  But education is, and always has been, about the students.  What happens to them?  This is the kicker.

All of this, everything since the day A Nation At Risk was introduced 33 years ago, has been with this plan in mind.  It is all an elaborate tracking measure meant to keep down minority students, students with disabilities, and low-income students.  They will not do well in this.  We see this with the Smarter Balanced Assessment and the PARCC tests.  The resources and funding are there.  They have always been there.  But our states and government didn’t want to fix education.  They had to tear it down first and build it up again to one of their own design.  They don’t want anyone questioning their authority.  They want their worker bees to fall in line with their career pathways and shut up.  They had to beat down the teachers and numb the minds of children.  They do not care and have no remorse if anyone gets in their way.  Even the charter schools they so methodically built up were fodder for sacrifice if need be.  We saw this in Delaware as many charters closed and more sprung from the ashes.

What the corporate education reformers do is use the art of distraction to an astonishing degree.  They know those who oppose them can’t fight everything all at once so they get us to focus on certain things.  Take opt out for example.  While they know opt out kills everything they are planning, they also know it is the key to their future.  The once a year test will go away.  It will be broken down into little tiny chunks, embedded into the end-of-unit personalized learning chapter.  But a student must score proficient to be able to move on.  They must “master” the material.  But who writes the material?  Who grades the mini-assessments?  How long will a student be “held back” until they get it?  What happens when a student just gives up because they are so mentally frustrated?  How does IDEA and existing law fit in with any of this?  Does anyone care about these kind of things anymore?

Governor Markell and Dr. Paul Herdman, along with their key player at the Townsend Building in Dover, Donna Johnson, have been the masterminds behind all of this in Delaware.  Does anyone think it is a coincidence there have been very few task forces, working groups and committees with an actual State Board of Education member on it?  It is always Executive Director Donna Johnson.  Calling the shots.  Bossing people around as if she is the ultimate authority in education.  Manipulating the playing field to the agendas she controls.  She did it with WEIC, the priority schools, the Delaware School Success Framework, Common Core, opt out, and all the other destructive policies and regulations under her control.  We don’t have a State Board of Education.  We have Jack and Donna’s puppets.  Behind them is the face of Rodel: Dr. Paul Herdman.  The single-most, number one with a bullet, vessel of discrimination and evil I have ever met in my life.  The man behind the Delaware curtain.  The man who helped Jack into the Governor role.  The man who took over the Delaware Department of Education.  The man who directs it all in Delaware.  Who answers to his masters in bigger organizations like the Aspen Institute, Achieve Inc., the Lumina Foundation, and Reinventing Schools.  Behind them are the true power players in the guise of the US Department of Education, the US Department of Labor, Mark Zuckerberg, and the Gates Foundation.  And then there are the investors and hedge fund managers and corporations making billions of dollars off all of this.  For those living in other states who may not be familiar with many of these names, I’m sure if you look hard enough, you have your own puppet masters pulling the strings.

At this point, I don’t know if those who oppose this could stop any of this.  It is so embedded into policy and law.  All the states were required to have some type of career workforce plan based on the below federal document.  The future is now.  It is here.  This Leader In Me garbage that is sweeping our schools is the biggest example of this.  It goes beyond the classroom and invades the home.  It has children making the parents compliant to this nonsense.  Their “data walls” are one of the most disgusting and abhorrent acts of labeling, shaming, and discrimination I have ever seen in my life.  But far too many of our Delaware teachers think it is okay.  This is what happens when you are brainwashed to points beyond common sense.  When you are fed the same false garbage time and time again.  You begin to believe it.  You become the enemy before you even realize it.  When you once questioned all of this and you become a slave to the compliance machine.  I am not saying these teachers are bad or even evil.  They are misguided.  They have been fooled and once the Rodelian mindset becomes a part of your thinking, they have their hooks in you.  They mold and shape you into another one of their puppets or put your name out there to make it look like they have diverse “stakeholder input”.  It seems like people with the last name of Johnson are their favorites.  Charter schools, by their very nature, are ripe for takeover or creation by the Rodelian puppet masters.  And don’t think it ends with Jack Markell.

But too many of us were blinded by opt out, teacher evaluations, and charter schools to even notice.  All we hear about anymore on social media is Trump and Hillary.  It doesn’t matter who wins because all the pieces were put into play years ago.  They snuck it all in when those who should have seen it were distracted.  As our pre-schools and schools become community centers and human teaching becomes a thing of the past, what happens to the children of tomorrow?  Will we even need the school building in the future?  What happens when they become indoctrinated into the cults of compliance?  When they lose their spark?  As the more affluent families stay in power while the vast majority of the population perform all the low-paying jobs?  Who will rise from the ashes like a phoenix to turn it all around again twenty years from now?  Or fifty?  Many have predicted the machines would take over.  But what they failed to realize was the machines were children.  I saw this coming.  I knew it.  But I was looking in the wrong place.  And for that I apologize.  At some point, like everything in history, there will be a revolution.  Only we can decide when that is.

 

A Message For First State Liberty re: Christina Referendum

My number one question for the folks at First State Liberty: Do you pay the same amount for guns that you did twenty years ago?  I’m not asking this to be smart.  My reasoning is very simple: you pay for things every single day that cost more than it did five years ago, ten years ago, and twenty years ago.  Education is no different.  Perhaps you don’t have children in the Christina School District.  Perhaps you don’t want to pay taxes for schools your children don’t go to.  I can see your point with that.  But here’s the thing.  You pay taxes every single time you work.  You pay for programs that don’t affect anyone in your household.  Your state and federal taxes, which go up and down, go towards things I’m sure you don’t agree with.  But yet, you still pay them.  If not, you would go to jail.

You have a choice with a referendum.  You can say no.  That is certainly your right.  But I also have to believe that you care about children.  All children.  I’ve been to your website and how you completely blast the district as if it is your moral obligation to deny children the services they need.  I do take offense to that.  But you would also be surprised at something we agree on.  I know First State Liberty is against Common Core.  I know you didn’t support the opt out bill, House Bill 50, because parents already own that right.  What parents don’t own the right to, no matter how we may wish otherwise, is how to run a school district.  We can get involved, and do our best.  We can go to meetings (not just one or two before a referendum) and make our voices heard.  We can run for the district school board.  There are many ways to get involved.  I encourage all citizens to do that.

With Common Core and Race To The Top forced on every single Delaware school district and all charter schools, things changed in education.  Basically, Delaware took a $119 million dollar bribe from the US Government.  In exchange for a financial gift equal to approximately 3% of our education budget spread out over three years, offered to us during a recession, our Governor sold out Delaware education.  But the true crime didn’t stop there, because he allowed the Department of Education to keep half of it.  Meanwhile, he cut out reading programs that were actually working for our kids.  The results were disastrous.  Especially for a district like Christina.  When Christina did the same thing First State Liberty is doing now, speaking up about what has come to be seen as a failed program called the Delaware Talent Cooperative, the Delaware Department of Education took Christina’s Race To The Top money away.  For the sole reason that they dared to challenge big government.  Something your group has as their central theme.

As I’m sure you know, urban districts like Christina don’t tend to fare well overall on standardized tests.  These are not truly tests of a student’s achievement.  They are set up for children to do poorly on them.  They set the achievement levels at a point where it would be impossible for all students to score proficient.  As a result, Christina and Red Clay got the test, label and shame status thrown on them in the guise of “priority schools”.  Here is a newsflash for you: all school districts have high administrative costs.  Because of Race To The Top, districts had to hire people to oversee all of these programs that were forced on them.  As a result of Common Core implementation and changes to teacher evaluations, the pressure put on districts was greater than ever.  This happened with charter schools as well.  Some schools overcame these challenges.  They also tended to be schools that didn’t have as many low-income students, minority students, or students with disabilities.  These schools were given the spotlight while whole districts like Christina and Red Clay were given the “we are going to fix your horrible schools even if we have to take them over” treatment.  And all of this was based on the standardized test scores.  The ones that are now fully aligned with the same Common Core your group loathes.

But are you aware, or willing to share with your entire membership and on your robo-calls about the referendum, that the ratio of administrators to students results in Christina administrators overseeing more students than any other district in New Castle County?  These jobs you so desperately want to be gone or have their salaries shrunk, that are necessary based on the very mandates forced on them by the Delaware Department of Education…

From the CSD Paving The Way website:

Sometimes pictures say it better than words. For those who are concerned there are too many administrators in the Christina School District we decided to research the numbers and find out the ratio.
 
This is the student/ administrative staff ratio in a graphic format. In short, this shows that each administrator in the Christina School District is responsible for more students than any other district in the county.
 
Therefore, the misconception that there are too many administrators in this district is not true. Our number crunching based on DOE data shows that the Christina School District has the lowest number of administrators in New Castle County when compared with the number of students in the district.
 
students-administrators

 

Please note (as stated in the fine print on this image) this graph does NOT include student enrollment and administrator totals for the Delaware Autism Program or the Delaware School for the Deaf which would elevate those numbers.

Christina has cut admins and several teachers.  They are on bare bones.  If this referendum doesn’t pass, it has the potential of getting very ugly, very fast.  More cuts, more jobs gone.  And next year, you will be looking at the same thing only they will have to ask for MORE money in their referendum to make up for what they didn’t get from this one.  Guess what happens to all of you who live in the Christina School District?  Higher unemployment, your neighbor’s children not getting what they need to survive (yes, survive) in public education.  People won’t want to move to the Christina School District.  They will look on the Delaware DOE’s really horrible school report card and say “we shouldn’t move there”.  Without new people moving into the district, your property values will go down.  The equity you have built up over the years will slowly vanish.  Perhaps one of you will come to a new opportunity or crisis point in your life.  You may want to sell that home with the reduced equity.  How did that work out for you?

If you think Delaware school taxes are high, have you talked to anyone in Pennsylvania?  I’m pretty sure anyone in Chester, Montgomery, or Delaware County in Pennsylvania would laugh when you told them how much your school taxes are going up by.  Many folks in Maryland might say the same.  And both of those states have sales tax, something you have never paid in Delaware.

If we are going to go by figures from 2014, let’s take a look at these, from the Zero Hedge website:

DELAWARE

  

 

MARYLAND

  

 

PENNSYLVANIA

  

 

NEW JERSEY

 

 

What these figures don’t include are the portion of property tax that goes towards school taxes.  All are much higher in those states.  With this information clearly visible, I really have a hard time with your group’s efforts to squash referendums in our state.  But yet I don’t hear boo from First State Liberty about Markell giving more tax breaks to corporations while every single citizen in the state pays for it.  I didn’t hear anything from any of you when it was announced yesterday that Title I funding, which is supposed to help districts with low-income students, is going to wind up giving more for the state (aka, the DOE) to keep than the school districts will receive.

I think you have the right idea, wanting to curb expenses for citizens.  I have no problem with that.  But you have the wrong target.  Why isn’t the State of Delaware in your crosshairs?  Why aren’t you sending robo-calls to every Delawarean about the absolute corruption and fraud going on before our very eyes?  Is Christina just an easy target?  Step up your game.  Come to Legislative Hall when they are doing these corporate gift bills (and I’m sure there will be more by the time June 30th rolls around) and protest that.  But all you are doing now is hurting students.  Your numbers don’t add up and all the information is available to you if you really look for it.  But telling your followers that Christina is non-transparent is completely false.  The referendum has been talked about on the radio, in the News Journal, and in the local newspaper for well over a month.

I would seriously question where you are getting your information from and what the true motivations are here.  It’s very easy to rile up a crowd.  What isn’t easy is admitting you were wrong.  I saw the kind-of sort-of owning up to that on your website, but it was followed by “give us information now”.  My advice to you: if you really want to know what is happening with district funds, go to all their Citizen Budget Oversight Committee meetings.  Not just the one a week before a referendum.  Going to one meeting a year and complaining about transparency isn’t exactly what I would call a marketing strategy for your cause.  It’s like arriving late at a dinner party and getting upset all the food is gone.  But then you tell everyone there was no food!  Go to all their board meetings.  Find out what is going on.  Look at all their monthly financial reports.  If you are relying on Delaware DOE data, don’t be shocked if it isn’t exactly accurate.

In terms of the comparison between Christina to Smyrna School District letter, Christina gets more federal funds because there are more at-risk students.  Whoever read that financial document admits they don’t know the difference between local, state, and federal funds.  If a district has more at-risk students, they get more federal money.  The bigger a district is, the more admins you have.  As well, their properties are assessed at a higher rate in Smyrna than in Christina.  So that 2/3rds number?  It doesn’t exactly mesh with reality and solid math.  This isn’t rocket science.

You want to blame a district for what is clearly the state’s fault.  But in the end, all you are really doing is making it worse for the kids.  The future of Delaware.  The future of America.  Your kids.  Your grandkids.  If Christina loses with the referendum, the charters in the district lose as well.  They get their proportion of the local tax based on students in the district that go to their schools.  All you are doing is hurting the whole education system.  Who wins when we all lose?

I encourage all of you to look into your hearts and ask yourselves “What exactly are we fighting here?  Why are we going after David when Goliath is the one doing all this?”  These aren’t the droids you’re looking for.  First State Liberty and recipients of your robo-calls: Vote YES for the Christina referendum!

 

 

Statewide Review Of Education Opportunities Highlights Charter School Cherry-Picking & Creaming

cherrypicking

Among the other controversial and disturbing events at the Delaware State Board of Education meeting yesterday, there was a presentation by the Public Consulting Group (PCG) on the Statewide Review of Educational Opportunities (SREO) for Delaware Schools.  This was a review requested by Governor Jack Markell last March to figure out which schools are getting it right.  When it comes right down to it, this report was a series of graphs showing demographics of school districts and charters and which schools have things like AP classes and Career-Technical education opportunities.  All of this is based in 2014-2015 data.  This report cost Delaware taxpayers $70,000.00.

Last September, I worked with Delaware Liberal and Delaware First State in creating graphs of the Smarter Balanced Assessment results and how low-income, minorities, and students with disabilities fared poorly on the controversial test.  It also showed how schools with low populations of these sub-groups did really good on the test.

The below PCG reports clearly show the divide in Delaware, especially with certain charters in our state: Charter School of Wilmington, Newark Charter School, Delaware Military Academy, Odyssey Charter School, and Sussex Academy.  The result: complete chaos in Delaware.  While the effect of this is not as clearly felt in Kent County, it has created havoc in Wilmington and lower Sussex County.  If anyone actually believes the lotteries in these schools are random and fair, take a close look at the graphs in these reports.  They select, hand-pick and cherry-pick.  They cream from the top applicants.  And many charters in our state weed out the “bad” students by using their “counseling out” technique.  To some extent, the magnet schools in Red Clay and Indian River do this as well.

The reports give a well-crafted illusion that we have too many schools in Delaware.  This foregone conclusion is, in my opinion, trying to please the charter supporters in our state.  It talks about high demand and wait lists at certain charters and indicates there are too many “empty seats” in Delaware traditional schools.  Do not be fooled by this illusion.  Yes, some charters are in high demand because of the illusions cast by the State and the charter community on their perceived success based on standardized test scores.  I’m going to call this the “smart flight” as many parents pulled their kids out of traditional and even private schools over the past twenty years and sent their kids to charters.  This resulted in funds pouring out of the traditional districts while the state was slowly decreasing the amount they gave schools in the state.  This increased the amount of local dollars the districts had to use to run their schools.   Meanwhile, Common Core, Race To The Top, DSPT, DCAS, and the Smarter Balanced Assessment wormed their way into our lives causing even more funding to be siphoned from the classroom.  All of this created a perfect storm in Delaware culminating into a hurricane of inequity, discrimination, and segregation.  While Governor Markell did not influence these events twenty years ago, he certainly has been a major part of it for well over ten years, even before he became Governor.

This report could be read in many ways, but if I were reading as an outside observer looking into Delaware, I would be highly concerned.  We have charters with hardly any African-Americans and students with disabilities.  We have other charters with very high populations of the two.  We have a Department of Education, State Board of Education, and a General Assembly who allowed this to happen by falling asleep at the wheel.  We have the highly controversial Wilmington Education Improvement Commission attempting to redraw Wilmington school districts without guaranteed funding to support it.  We have companies like Rodel, the Longwood Foundation, and the Welfare Foundation pouring money into charters and influencing events behind the scenes and right in our faces.  We have key people in our state who are part of national education cabals molding education policy with the public oblivious to all of this.  We have outside companies coming into our state, taking our money, and creating reports on things we either already know or creating illusions designed to brainwash the populace.  This is Delaware education.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Paul shrugged and ordered another Zima for Jack.

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

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

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

Jack: But what happened to the kids at Safeway?

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

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

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

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

Jack: Did you say something about Governor Markell earlier?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Paul: A piece of Rodel.  A prize.

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

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

Jack: The Nobel Peace Prize?

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

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

Jack: Did you say I have to make charts?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Paul and Jack realized the mound was blocking her view. 

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

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

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

The DOE Makes It So Easy…Why Do They Do This?

Last week, I wrote about the Race To The Top report the US DOE came out with.  I saw Delaware’s ridiculously high graduation rates compared to all the other original Race To The Top states and I just laughed.  Turns out the Delaware Department of Education was all set to boast of this and did it in record time!  I have to redline this joke of a press release.  It is begging me to do it.  They do this all the time, and I have to wonder if anyone really cares or listens anymore about what they say.  It’s so full of their flawed methodology it’s sickening…

Delaware leads RTTT states in college enrollment gains

Delaware’s work to increase its college enrollment rates was highlighted in a U.S. Department of Education report released today looking at the progress made by states under the federal Race to the Top grant.

Say, didn’t Avi over at Newsworks dispute your drop-out claims which you openly admitted?  It stands to reason your graduation rates would be affected by that as well!  And didn’t you use to not let kids graduate if they did bad on the DSTP?  The pre-Smarter Balanced test that everyone hated?

Delaware was cited as having made the greatest gains (10.7 percent) in college enrollment. Tennessee was second at 3.3 percent.

Well la de da!  And what does that mean exactly?  Does it mean more students are taking all those remedial classes in college you like to talk about so much?  But hey, let’s have our colleges and universities make major decisions based on Smarter Balanced!  Cause that’s going to work out so well!

Race to the Top also provided Delaware students with more opportunities for Advanced Placement and pre-AP courses. The report highlights how Delaware has supported educators through more direct AP training and given districts/charters increased access to virtual courses. This has resulted in student enrollment in AP courses increasing by 9.2 percent in Delaware since 2011. In the same period, the number of AP exam scores of 3 or higher (on a 5-point scale) has increased 22.2 percent.

Too bad a score of 3 isn’t accepted by Delaware’s colleges.  Too bad the bulk of students score a three.  That is $90 per course out the window.  Be proud DOE, be proud…

In other areas of the report, First State educators were called out for their collaboration during professional learning communities as well as their school team approach to professional learning as part of the state’s Common Ground for the Common Core.

Is there still a teacher’s lounge in every school where teachers sit during lunch, relax, and talk to each other?  That is true collaboration!  Teachers complain about all the time they don’t have in school.  And you actually said the words Common Core instead of the “standards”.  You haven’t been watching other states.  Those words have become toxic…

“Delaware teachers in every school met weekly for 90 minutes in professional learning communities to analyze student work and reflect on ways to modify instruction to bridge gaps identified in student learning,” the report said.

I’ll bet that was so much fun for all these teachers.  You make it sound like it was a party.  You forced teachers to do this and most of them can’t stand you for it.

The report also praised the state for listening to educators and adjusting supports to meet their needs: “Delaware and Tennessee had initially planned to conduct large-scale training sessions to help teachers transition to new standards. However, after soliciting feedback from teachers, they changed their plans and brought school teams together for action planning and used the talents of their own excellent teachers, rather than outside consultants, to provide training.”

So why did the Vision Coalition get paid so much Race To The Top money?  What essential need did they provide teachers that teachers could have done themselves?  Rodel IS an outside consultant DOE, get it through your thick head!

Delaware also was commended for relying on groups of teachers and leaders to provide ongoing input on new approaches or strategies to improve evaluation practices. For example, the state engaged 600 teachers to develop more than 200 assessment “tool kits” that provided rigorous and comparable measures of growth in student learning for non-tested grades and subjects.

More of the teacher cabal over at Rodel/Vision.  And don’t our Delaware teachers just love DPAS-II?  Please…you disgrace every teacher in this state with this nonsense…

And the U.S. Department of Education lauded Delaware for using RTTT to provide educators with an improved and more comprehensive data system as well as for using this customized data system to help support and manage program implementation at the district level. The digital systems that Delaware developed also made it easier to report and summarize student outcomes.

I’ll bet it did!  And where is all that data going DOE?  I know, I know, “we can’t send out personal data”.  Unless it is for the furthering of education and the fix-its we all know companies love to tell us we need but they never actually fix anything.  As State Rep. Sean Matthews brilliantly said, it is “cash in the trash”.

Breaking News: AFWG To Have Encore Meeting On Tuesday 11/17, Open To The Public

After the stunning news last week the Delaware Secretary of Education Dr. Steven Godowsky was blowing off the Accountability Framework Working Group’s recommendation of lighter opt-out penalties for the Delaware School Success Framework, the group is meeting for an encore on Tuesday morning, 11/17, at 10am.  This is two days before the State Board of Education will make their final decision on the ESEA waiver.  Interestingly enough, Regulation 103 (which ties the school report card mess into state code) is not up for a vote at this meeting, which means December will most likely be the vote for that.

Somewhat related to this, I’m hearing the DOE employee named Ryan Reyna who works in the accountability area and was one of the controversial Race to the Top positions that should have been cut from the DOE is in all likelihood leaving the DOE very soon.  Reyna was one of the key DOE employees involved in the AFWG group.

If you are available on Tuesday morning, this meeting will be open to the public and will have public comment.  I strongly suggest attending this meeting and making your voice known on this subject!!!!!

Here is the agenda for this meeting:

US DOE Race To The Top Report Released Today Is A Summary Of Lies And Reform Propoganda

I read this report released today by the US DOE, called Fundamental Change: Innovation in America’s Schools Under Race to the Top and found it to be laughable at best.  I’ll start off with the biggest and boldest first:

Race to the Top used transparency to advance knowledge about improving education and allow states to learn from each other.

What was not transparent was how schools, districts, teachers, parents and students were hoodwinked into believing this lie.  The caveat behind this Federal mandate disguised as a financial incentive was requirements to engage with outside companies with this money.

State work under the grants ended in summer 2015…

For Delaware, this part is completely false since the DOE and Governor Markell used parts of the state General Fund to keep Race To The Top created positions at the DOE.  This is hysterical, because the work continues.  They may not be getting federal funds anymore, but most states are using what they did from Race To The Top at all levels and implementing changes designed not to truly help students but to give their bloated Department of Education employees and leaders high salaries while contracting all their work to outside vendors.

State education agencies (SEAs) as drivers of change. SEAs moved beyond their traditional role of monitoring district compliance to driving comprehensive and systemic changes to improve teaching and learning across the state.

They are still accountability machines.  They live and die by compliance as never before.  Who are you kidding?

Improved, more collaborative, and productive relationships between states and districts. States worked more collaboratively with districts and increased their own capacity to effectively and efficiently support districts and schools in ways that were responsive to local needs.

Yeah, between states maybe, and the districts that sign up for all the personalized learning grants while selling students souls to Satan!

Better communication. States improved lines of communication with stakeholders and used a range of tools (e.g., social media platforms) to continuously gather input from teachers, parents, school leaders, stakeholders and the public to determine the additional supports needed to be successful in carrying out their work.

They certainly used a range of tools in Delaware.  I could name many of those tools, but I would hate to offend anyone.  And many of those tools either gained tremendous financial or political gain from all of this.  And the whole “stakeholder input” never mattered because our DOE didn’t listen to what parents were truly saying and did what they wanted to do anyways.

Higher standards. All Race to the Top states recognized the value of adopting higher standards that are similar across states. Each Race to the Top state implemented challenging kindergarten through 12th-grade academic content standards aimed at preparing students for success in college and careers. With improved standards, teachers, students and parents have a clear roadmap for what students need to know and be able to do to be prepared for success.

The clear roadmap called Common Core, where all students should be on the same level playing field across the country, but all the assessments designed for it are different?  That clear roadmap you say?  And the jury is still way out on if these were “improved” standards.

Teachers support each other to effectively implement higher standards. Teachers worked together to create tools and resources to help them understand the standards and how best to implement them in their classrooms. Hands-on, job-embedded training helped teachers transition to the new content and develop instructional tools, such as sample lesson plans and instructional videos, to translate the standards into effective classroom practices.

Teachers learned how to band together and collectively groan about everything the Feds and the States did to them.  You make it sound like it was such a wonderful and collaborative thing, but it wasn’t and it still isn’t.  Let’s get it straight: the standards were designed for teachers to teach to the state assessment.  Most teachers I know can’t stand these assessments and hate everything that comes with it.

Monitoring student progress during the school year. Every Race to the Top state developed resources and assessment tools that teachers can use in their classrooms to monitor student progress during the school year. Rather than focus on test preparation for the statewide assessment at the end of the school year, nearly all states introduced instructional resources for the classroom that measure higher-order thinking skills, including critical thinking and complex problem-solving.

You can change the words however you want, it is still teaching to the test.

Increased access to and use of objective information on student outcomes. States made critical investments in improving systems to compile student outcome data from pre-kindergarten through the workforce, while protecting personally identifiable information. As outcome data for schools and districts become more accessible to the public, a variety of stakeholders, including parents, policymakers and researchers, will be better able to use these data to answer important questions about educational outcomes, such as “Did students make a year’s worth of growth?” and “Are students succeeding, regardless of income, race, ethnicity or disability?”

That last line is the biggest joke of all.  Because income, race, ethnicity and disability can make a huge difference in a  student’s life, especially as those factors combine!  And we don’t know how much of our children’s data is being farmed out under certain FERPA laws and state regulations.

Local stakeholder engagement. Dramatic improvements in schools require the involvement of community members who understand local contexts and conditions, both inside and outside the school building, to help identify challenges and design solutions. States, districts, teachers, school leaders and community stakeholders are working together to implement strategies to improve the learning environments in their lowest-performing schools and provide services to meet students’ academic and nonacademic needs.

In Delaware, we call this Rodel and the Vision Coalition.  This local stakeholder engagement has been going on for ten years with little or no results except their CEO going from $170,000+ to a salary of $344,000 in a decade.

New performance management approaches. States are using performance management approaches to help districts support effective interventions in their lowest-performing schools. These approaches help states and districts identify problems, set goals to solve them and use data to track progress.

We call these priority schools and focus schools in Delaware.  Or “Partnership Zone” schools.  This is where our state blames teachers for standardized testing scores and do not factor in a lack of resources, funding, neurological disabilities, or issues outside of schools.

States used state-level funds to support districts. In addition to the 50 percent of the total grant award subgranted to districts, many states designed their state-level projects to distribute additional funds to districts. For example, New York competitively distributed nearly $80 million of its state-level “Teachers and Leaders” funds to districts to implement their plans to develop, implement or enhance teacher recruitment, development and retention.

Delaware farmed out millions upon millions of dollars to outside companies, some internal and some external, instead of giving the funds to the districts to lower classroom sizes and get more teachers and extra support.

Some states, such as Hawaii, Delaware and Massachusetts, created a separate office or designated an existing office to plan and coordinate Race to the Top initiatives across different offices

And then the Delaware DOE lied to their General Assembly when the funds ran out and found a way to keep those positions in our DOE without anyone the wiser.

…and Delaware created specific units within their state departments of education and used real-time data to assess whether projects were moving forward and producing quality results.

Results based on federal mandates that were neither Congressionally approved or regulatory in nature…

“We really keep coming back to three questions: Are we doing what we said we would do? Are we doing it well? Is it making a difference?” said Delaware’s former chief performance officer.

Which former chief performance officer is this?  I’m guessing this is why he or she is a former chief performance officer if they were asking questions like this in our dictatorial state led by the not-so-great Delaware Governor Jack Markell.

Beginning in 2008, the state-led effort included governors and state commissioners of education from 48 states, two territories, and the District of Columbia and was informed by the best state standards already in use and the experiences of teachers, school administrators, content experts, state leaders and the public. From the beginning, state and local officials and educators took responsibility for adopting and implementing the standards, and for making decisions about how the standards are taught, how the curriculum is developed, and what materials are used to support teachers in helping students meet the standards.

Yes, the beginning of the cabal of the National Governor’s Association and the Council of Chief State School Officer’s in leading the Common Core initiative where the two true educators in this design group dropped out from the development of these standards.  Then the districts were essentially brow-beaten, pressured, and lied to if they didn’t accept funds during a recession when states were cash-poor.

As a result, each Race to the Top state developed measures of growth in student learning and made the data available to teachers, school leaders, district leaders and, in some cases, parents.  These measure of growth in student learning provided a reliable measure of teachers’ contributions to student learning because they addressed a student’s proficiency across multiple years on a valid assessment that was comparable across classrooms and schools

“Valid assessment”.  I really don’t need to go any further on this one, do I?

In Delaware, the state hired data coaches to work directly with school leaders and teachers to lead professional learning communities.

The data coaches, who got tons of money.  Like the Vision Coalition in Delaware…

For many Race to the Top states and districts, the initiatives they implemented during the grant period have remained priorities that SEAs are now better equipped to support and continue. For example, Delaware’s performance management system did not exist prior to the grant period and will continue without Race to the Top funds. The state also will continue to implement, as part of its state capacity-building plan, its data analyses and biannual conversations with district leaders to better understand what is happening in districts and develop supports that match local needs. Through its district budget plan approval process, Delaware also is encouraging districts to use available funding streams to support work they found to be effective in their schools, such as using allowable federal funds for professional supports for teachers.

Our DOE might want to check with our General Assembly before they commit to all this.  Oh wait, they will answer to our Joint Finance Committee on 11/30/15 for their devious budget actions…

As directed in the report, the citation for this report belongs to U.S. Department of Education, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, Office of State Support, Fundamental Change: Innovation in America’s Schools Under Race to the Top, Washington, D.C., 2015

Kilroy Blasts Local Union And Is Publius Running For A Board?

This is a two-in-one article, but they are closely related.  Kilroy also wrote a reaction piece to the News Journal’s article on the opt-out penalty, but his article didn’t really delve into the article.  Instead, he blasted the unions and blamed them for Race To The Top.  It was seven years ago Kilroy, let it go!  But he didn’t stop there, he also attempted to do something with Red Clay Educators Association President Mike Matthews.  I’m not sure what his motivation was with all of this, but it is obvious Kilroy has a major beef with the unions.  Which got me thinking (always a dangerous thing, I know) about what might really be going on.

For all of Kilroy’s rants about Race To The Top and DSEA’s role in it, we NEVER hear one word about the charters support for Race To The Top.  They had a role as well.  Is there benefit for Kilroy to go gangbusters on unions and not the charters?  Probably not, but then I looked at who the bulk of the commenters are on Kilroy’s nowadays.  Die-hard charter and choice lovers.  Led by the always controversial Publius.  We know Kilroy has sidebars with a lot of his commenters.  I usually talk to him every couple weeks myself.  But is Kilroy being inundated with the charter special sauce?  And why would someone do that?  Perhaps if they were running for a local school board in the next few years.  That’s right.  Word on the street has it that none other than Publius himself will be running for a local school board!  While some (okay, many) know who Publius really is, you won’t hear it from me.

It would greatly benefit Publius to have Kilroy turn the public against the local unions.  Is Publius working Kilroy?  I sure hope not, because Kilroy wouldn’t be too happy if he found out!  But in my eyes, Publius on a local school board is more frightening than the last episode of American Horror Story!  Say what you will about DSEA.  I agree with some of Kilroy’s points on them.  They could have taken a much stronger stand on opt-out.  I have no clue how they really stand on the opt-out penalty and what their role is.  Someone is either telling the truth or they are lying.  Yeah, sometimes the truth is in the middle, but in Delaware politics, someone is usually playing someone else for their own benefit.  It’s a tricky slope to sled down.

I firmly believe, that with WEIC and the redistricting effort, Mike Matthews wanted to take on a greater role because he knew the responsibilities of being President of RCEA were going to greatly increase this year.  More focus and focus plus schools as well.  And we all know Mike will stand up to the DOE, which is desperately needed these days, and I wish all local education associations would do this instead of sitting on the fence.  Kilroy said this has never happened before.  Well guess what Kilroy, the time to defend teachers against the onslaught of the DOE has never been greater!

State Rep. Sean Matthews Reflects On The Waste To The Top

Many legislators are resistant to the Markell-given power of the Delaware Department of Education, but State Rep. Sean Matthews truly gets it.  I have watched Rep. Matthews, in less than a year, become one of the leading voices against corporate education reform.  He speaks truth!  He recognized the reform movement is an illusionary power and the true power exists in the hearts and voices of our educators, students and parents.  It is past time we yield that power as a force for change!

One of my co-teachers was recycling some old papers today. We found a school calendar from several years before Race to the Top, DCAS, testing-mania, etc came into effect. It was interesting to see how few days were spent on state testing as compared to our current State-mandated testing requirements. Are we better off for all these new days, hours and efforts spent on more standardized testing? Are kids learning more? Is our “reform” test/punish/test/punish cycle working? Recent NAEP data would say no. We have think-tanks and “reformers” with scant teaching experience driving the education agenda. Teachers/parents/students, take back your power!

Delaware Senate Confirms Secretary Of Education Dr. Steven Godowsky

Dr. Steven Godowsky is the new Secretary of Education in Delaware.  Today, the Delaware Senate voted 19-2 to confirm Dr. Godowsky to serve at the pleasure of the Governor as the new Secretary of Education.  The sole nay votes belonged to Delaware Senators Colin Bonini and Greg Lavelle.  Red Clay Educators Association Mike Matthews was present at the Senate Confirmation and put a lot out there on Twitter.

Is Bill Gates Undercover at Delaware DOE, too?

Is Bill Gates Undercover at Delaware DOE, too?

Guest Post by Anani Maas

A Concerned Delaware Teacher Speaks Out

Emily Talmadge in her blog Save Maine Schools challenged readers to research how Bill Gates has gone undercover in our own states after she discovered how Gates has used his vast resources to drive the corporate education reform agenda in hers.

So, I decided to take her up on her challenge.

Let’s begin with the federal Race to the Top incentive grant, a carrot dangled at states to “force cash-strapped states to make radical changes in education in order to stay in the running—changes a National Research Council report (10/7/09) warned were not backed by research. Instead of dispersing grant money on the basis of greatest need, RTTT chooses a few winners based on the degree to which the states deliver what the feds want: more charter schools, so-called merit pay for teachers and new curriculum standards known as the Common Core” (Ohanian, 2010).  As we know, Delaware was one of the very first states to receive the grant in 2010 to the tune of $19 million because they quickly jumped on the “opportunity” the RTTT grant promised.  Read the rest of Ohanian’s article to see how Bill Gates’ money was connected to Race to the Top.

It is well documented that Bill Gates bankrolled the Common Core State Standards revolution in Lindsey Layton’s well-researched article for the Washington Post in June, 2014. For a refresher, you can read it here.

This leads to the Smarter Balanced State Assessment that is in place to test student’s acquisition of the Common Core State Standards. And if your school doesn’t have the technology available to administer the tests, Microsoft is ready to help you out!  (Even though Bill Gates himself is quick to point out how his efforts are solely philanthropy and in the best interest of ALL children! Bill Gates says so here.)

In addition to Common Core State Standards, Gates has bankrolled the Next Generation Science Standards as well. The authors of NGSS are Achieve, Inc. and, of course, Achieve, Inc. has received generous awards from the Gates Foundation. (see here)  Now that Delaware has secured the Smarter Balanced Test, it is time for them to move on to initiate a similar test aligned to the CCSS and the NextGen Standards.

But Bill and Melinda Gates’ money doesn’t stop there. How has their money directly found its way to Delaware in the effort to drive his corporate education agenda?

“Another key requirement [of the RTTT grant] is “using data to improve instruction.” This means basing classroom lessons on data collected from highly criticized standardized tests” (Ohanian, 2010).

Delaware DOE contracted with New America Foundation to implement the Delaware Data Coach Program.  “One of only two winners from the original, stimulus funded Race to the Top competition, the Delaware Department of Education dedicated $8.2 million over two years of its $19 million grant to the Data Coach Program” (McCann and Kabaker, 2013).  New America Foundation has received grants from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation every year since at least 2009.

Copied from the Bill and Melinda Gates’ Foundation Grants Awarded page.

New America Foundation 2015 Postsecondary Success US Program $2,400,000
New America Foundation 2014 College-Ready US Program $370,000
New America Foundation 2014 Postsecondary Success US Program $235,000
New America Foundation 2013 Global Policy & Advocacy US Program $740,000
New America Foundation 2013 College-Ready US Program $200,002
New America Foundation 2012 Postsecondary Success US Program $1,450,000
New America Foundation 2012 Postsecondary Success US Program $110,000
New America Foundation 2011 Postsecondary Success US Program $530,000
New America Foundation 2010 Global Policy & Advocacy US Program $1,300,000
New America Foundation 2009 and earlier Global Policy & Advocacy US Program $450,000
New America Foundation 2009 and earlier Global Policy & Advocacy US Program $1,500,000
New America Foundation 2009 and earlier Global Policy & Advocacy US Program $250,000

Curiosity seized me, so on the same Gate’s Foundation database for grants awarded, I decided simply to put “Delaware” in the search engine and these names popped up:

Delaware State University

Rodel Charitable Foundation

Association of Educational Publishers

Delaware Department of Education

I haven’t quite figured out why Gates gave $400,000 to the Delaware DDOE in 2013 and $322,525 in 2009.

I did see that the Gates Foundation gave a grant to the Delaware PTA in 2012 “to provide parent and community training on CCSS throughout Delaware.” Although, on page 18 of the same report, the DSEA reports that “DDOE has failed to fill this gap and has not provided resources for DPTA to continue its CCSS work” (Johnson, 2015).  So what happened to the money?

Gate’s money has paid for yet another set of standards. The Delaware Academy for School Leadership is one of the new organizations that has been developed to train new school leaders throughout the nation in the new The Interstate School Leaders Licensure Consortium (ISLLC) Standards.  These new standards have been developed through the Council of Chief State School Officers in collaboration with the National Policy Board on Educational Administration (NPBEA) to help strengthen preparation programs in school leadership. Again, searching the Gate’s Foundation database, I found that the Gates Foundation has awarded 21 grants to The Council of Chief State School Officers ranging from $25,000 to $6,148,749 between 2009 and 2015.  Therefore, Bill Gates gets to determine what knowledge, attitudes, dispositions, and performance are essential for new school leaders who lead our district schools.

This is only the digging I was able to accomplish in one afternoon! I am so thoroughly enraged at the way Bill Gates and his buddy billionaires have been able to single-handedly determine the direction of every level of our educational system to promote his agenda.  He is systematically buying into every level of education to propagate his message: lobbying parents through their trusted PTA’s, brainwashing novice teacher and administrators by controlling their teacher and administrator training programs, contributing to politicians on both sides of the aisle,  and stimulating new non-profits, charter schools and department of education cronies who will promote his propaganda.

While Bill Gates conspires to cash in by directing the education of every student in the United States from pre-K through graduate school, Delaware is simply selling out our students to the highest bidder.

Letter From John Kline To Arne Duncan Surfaces, Raises Serious Questions About National Student Database

The Department’s effort to shepherd states toward the creation of a de facto national student database raises serious legal and prudential questions.  Congress has never authorized the Department of Education to facilitate the creation of a national student database.  To the contrary, Congress explicitly prohibited the “development of a nationwide database of personally identifiable information under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (20 U.S.C. § 7911)

Back in 2010, as Race To The Top was introduced, part of the initiative included the creation of a Statewide Longitudinal Data System, or SLDS for short.  The idea, according to the below letter, was for states to share data with each other.  US Representative John Kline, of Minnesota, opposed this idea.  The letter stated the inherent dangers in birthing a database of this type.

Does anyone know if Arne actually responded to Kline’s letter?  I would love to see that response!

Delaware DOE’s Grant Application For Statewide Longitudinal Data System From 2012

Data, data, data.  The DOE is obsessed with it.  And apparently, so are many other companies.  The DOE will contract with anyone who agrees with their spend-test-spend more-try to fix-do more damage-fix again-spend-create new test mantras.  How does anyone keep track of all this?  That’s pretty easy.  The Statewide Longitudinal Data System came around pretty soon after the Common Core implementation and Race To The Top.  It’s Big Brother meets the Matrix when it comes right down to it.  So what did Delaware put in the application for grant funds for this huge endeavor?  The application is 89 pages, but it should be when you are applying for over $4.6 million dollars…  I would give this one a very thorough read folks, and there is more to come…

More Legislators Weigh In On DOE-RTTT Salary Scandal

I get newsletters from the House Democrats and the House Republicans.  In the email from the House GOP, legislators on the Republican side weighed in on the latest Delaware Department of Education stunt with the former Race To The Top positions the DOE funded out of vacancies in their budget.

With the inclusion of the eight Race to the Top staffers as part of the DOE’s permanent work force, Rep. Kowalko said the agency has added approximately 34 additional positions in recent years.  “This is not responsible shrinking of government,” Rep. Kowalko stated in his e-mail. 
“DOE officials knew the Race to the Top grants were temporary funding and yet they spent a portion of it hiring people they knew would eventually have to be paid by the state,” said State Rep. Kevin Hensley, R-Odessa-Middletown, who is also a former Appoquinimink School Board member.  “In my estimation, this casual disregard for public funding displays a disturbing level of hubris by agency leaders.”
State House Minority Whip Deborah Hudson, R-Fairthorne, concurred.  “The thing that struck me is that the DOE was able to absorb more than $900,000 in annual salaries using existing vacancies.  Any agency with that kind of excess fat built into its budget is an agency I think needs to be reviewed for its efficiency and effectiveness, especially given the funding challenges the state is likely to face in the next budget.”
January can’t come quick enough!  I hope the 148th General Assembly gives the DOE the shellacking they rightly deserve!  Can anyone say Sunset Committee?