It’s Not The Size Of The Sign, It’s The Size Of The Commitment…

By tomorrow night we will know the winners of the Delaware school board elections.  Some lucky candidates already know since they didn’t have an opponent.  But for myself, and several others, it is a wait and see.  I put most of my signs up last weekend.  As the week went by, I was astonished my two opponents hadn’t put any up.  They made up for it this weekend!  And of course they both had to get signs slightly bigger than my own.  But I urge you to look beyond the sign and look up their positions on the issues.  As well, if you are on the fence with me, look up mine.

We all appeared in a brief article about the candidates for Kent County in the Dover Post: Voters can choose education leaders in May election

We met in a debate/forum/meet the candidates event at Central Middle School in Dover last Wednesday.  There was a decent size crowd there, but no media!  I wish they had shown up to report for all what was discussed.

I have not found any Facebook pages for Andres Ortiz, one of my opponents.  Chanda Jackson put up a page on April 26th: Vote for Dr. Chanda Jackson

I put up a page on March 3rd, the same day I filed: Kevin Ohlandt for Capital School District Board of Education 2016.  I’ve put up lots of different articles and posts about why I’m running and what I would like to accomplish should I be elected.  But really, I’ve been writing about education every day for the past two years on this blog.  I also wrote a letter to the Delaware State News which they published on Saturday, but doesn’t show up on their website.

StateNewsLetter

I may have met some of you while putting up signs, canvassing, or through the many emails and Facebook messages I received from you.  Or yesterday at Dover Days.  Some of you I may have already known, and your support means the world to me.

The Capital Educator’s Association decided to endorse Mr. Ortiz.  I get that.  But I hope all the teachers in Capital School District will understand that an endorsement is not an “I have to vote for that person”.  For those teachers who may not have decided who to vote for yet, if I could please offer some advice:

Vote with knowledge.

Vote with history.

Vote with the hope that whoever you vote for will do what is best for students and will make sure all of you get the resources you need to be as successful as possible.

Vote for someone who will do their best to fend off the DOE as much as humanly possible.

Vote for someone who won’t be afraid to speak the truth at board meetings or question things.

Vote for someone who will probe and investigate any action item.

Vote for someone who isn’t quick to believe everything is awesome.

Vote for someone who recognizes an opportunity is only an opportunity if ALL have a part of it AND we can afford it AND it will help ALL students.

Vote for someone who thinks it is difficult to see the wonder of tomorrow when we have issues in the here and now that need to be dealt with.

Vote for someone who goes to State Board of Education meetings and various task forces, committees, and General Assembly Education Committee meetings not because they really enjoy them but because they believe knowledge is half the battle.

Vote for someone who will write potential policy to make your jobs better.

Vote for someone who hates the state assessment just as much as you do.  Vote for someone who really isn’t a big fan of Common Core either.

Vote for someone who believes your teacher evaluations should not be an indicator of how well a student does on the Smarter Balanced.

Vote for someone who doesn’t think Common Core is okay but the state assessment just isn’t aligned to it.

Vote for someone who doesn’t believe those same assessments should EVER be used for promotion or graduation requirements.

Vote for someone who is not okay with keeping the Smarter Balanced Assessment while getting rid of the assessments that do give good feedback and help you with instruction.

Vote for someone who will always be available for you if there is an issue beyond your control and you feel the proper channels aren’t working for you.

Vote for someone who will not be a rubber stamp.

Vote for someone who will do everything they can to find a way to improve school climate in all the schools of the district.

Vote for someone who would rather act than comply.

Vote for someone who understands school finances and didn’t have to get a crash course from the CFO after they started campaigning.

Vote for someone who understands the referendum process.

Vote for someone who values transparency as the truth for all to see.

Vote for someone who believes words like “focus” and “reward” are based on characteristics that should not be an indicator of any school in our district.

Vote for someone who knows the Every Student Succeeds Act and will be watching each regulation like a hawk when they are proposed.

Vote for someone who sees the extreme danger with personalized learning and your future job security.

Vote for someone who knows what happened in the past, what is happening now, and what is coming down the road.

Vote for someone who knows Title 14, IDEA, and all the education legislation going through our General Assembly.

Vote for someone who knows what the company behind IEP Plus is called.

Vote for someone who does not believe teachers should also be social workers.

Vote for someone who agrees with the recommendations the DPAS-II Advisory Group Sub-Committee AND knows what they are.

Vote for someone who knows regulations put forth by the State Board of Education before they vote on it.

Vote for who you believe will be the best for the Capital School District Board of Education.

And please, feel free to share this with ALL the teachers in Capital School District!

Osceola County In Florida Dodged A Bullet With Hurricane Schwinn!

I am proud that my work in developing this system solicited the largest representative population of state stakeholders in the Department’s recent history, further providing for a product that held local ownership, recognizes and highlights the performance of each subgroup within the state from an absolute as well as growth mindset, and empowers parents and schools to best address each student’s needs.

In Florida, it is state law that anyone who applies for a Superintendent position gets to have their cover letter and resume posted publicly so everyone can see it.  None other than Penny Schwinn, the recently departed DOE darling of accountability and assessment, applied for the Superintendent Position at Osceola County Public Schools.  She actually applied for the job on September 22nd, so her departure was in the planning stages for some time.  Let’s do the math: Schwinn applies in September, new Delaware Secretary of Education Godowsky comes aboard in October, word gets out about Schwinn’s departure in November, and she is gone from the DOE in early January.  She only worked at the Delaware DOE for a year and a half folks!

The first time I saw her in action was at a State Board of Education meeting in August, 2014.  When asked by an African-American State Board member about the impact of violence and local murders in the classroom, she responded by saying she didn’t think that was a hurdle to overcome.  By the time Schwinn really got rolling, she became public enemy number one when she ran the “Priority Schools” initiative, a turnaround effort to force two school districts to kiss the DOE’s ass over six schools in downtown Wilmington, DE.  Her communication style, when you really need information from her, is not one of her strong points.

Let’s not even get into her “largest representative population of state stakeholders in the Department’s recent history” victory lap.  The highlight of that was her screwing over every single person on the Accountability Framework Working Group by convincing the Governor and Secretary Godowsky that harsh opt-out penalties should be used as a multiplier against a school’s proficiency ratings.  She obviously knew this would cement her unpopularity in Delaware into iconic status, so she left Delaware after her hurricane of a year and a half.  She was a wrecking ball, hired specifically to put things in place that made the Delaware DOE more nefarious than they already are.

Schwinn didn’t get the job, so Osceola County Public Schools can breathe a sigh of relief.  But I have no idea who Deborah Pace is.  From her experience, it looks she is homegrown but has a touch of education reform in her.  In the meantime, please look at Schwinn’s cover letter, resume, and her responses to questions.  Does this match with the Schwinn Delaware experienced for 18 months?

Delaware Met Teacher Comes Out Swinging In Defense Of The School

Yesterday, a commenter on a Delaware Met post finally broke the silence coming from the embattled charter school!  She has some very interesting things to say.

Kevin,

I am a teacher at the Delaware Met. I am going to use this comment space, to tell you about myself. After reading and sharing details about my long career in education, I am hoping you will use myself and other dedicated teachers to gather your information. Hopefully after reading my post you will feel more comfortable the staff at the Delaware Met in partnership with Innovative Schools and Big Picture Learning has the resources, talent and passion to create a better alternative for the students who selected the school as an alternative to the current offerings in New Castle County.

Clearly I have led a long career learning how best to serve underserved students.

After graduating from the University of Delaware Number 1 in my class and Student Teacher of the Year , I have worked for A.I Dupont High School; Ursuline Academy as the Swim Coach, Track Coach and Department Chair; been an instructor at the University of Delaware in teaching Social Studies and Science Methods for the Education Department; been the Achievement Director at a school with 90% Free and Reduced Lunch that was a Superior School ( 8 years); won two Super Star in Education Awards; attended a conference for the top 100 Charter Leaders in the Country; been a math instructional coach for several high poverty schools in Hawaii; participated on a team with John Chubb and Benno Schmidt, the former President of Yale, developing a curriculum for 400 principals in Abu Dhabi; paid out of pocket to take all the required courses and earned a degree in School Leadership at Wilmington University; paid extra money to attend the Harvard Graduate School of Education Principal Academy for Urban School Leadership; interviewed 1,000 men under the age of 21 incarcerated at Gander Hill; developed 250-300 IEP’s for students at Gander Hill that had not reached the age of 21; personally delivered services to the most difficult offenders including decoding and basic reading support for students in solitary confinement; served as the Director of a STEM Camp in the remote desert above the Saudi Arabian oasis teaching girls how to fly drones and program semi-conductors; personally travelled to all of the high achieving Charters in New Jersey and above and interviewed all of the staff about best practices- I choose the Delaware Met to finish the last 3-5 years of my career.

Let me know if you still think I am unqualified. I have 1000% confidence in the team, the model and the staff to make significant changes in the opportunities for the students in our town. If you want more information, please contact me directly at susiemurphyogden@yahoo.com.

Let me see if you post this- and then I will follow with additional information.

To which I responded:

Sue, thank you for reaching out. I have to say, since all of this started with Delaware Met, you are the first person from the school to reach out to me. I emailed the President of the Board and the Head of School, both of whom I later found out have other things going on medically related. I applaud you for contacting me and commenting.

 My problem with all of this is this is an experiment. These students have been through the wringer. About 70% of the students at Del Met attended Moyer. While last year was a huge improvement for many of these students, they come from areas where all the expertise in the world do not apply when it comes to truly understanding them. I’m not saying you don’t, and your resume is certainly impressive. Do all the teachers at Del Met have a resume this extensive? Upon looking at your experience, you should probably be running the school! Seriously.

 My deepest concerns are with the leadership at the school and the board. These students don’t have time for the adults to figure it out and get it right. They should have been prepared from day one, not two months into school. I can not for the life of me fathom how they were not aware of the kinds of issues they could have with their student population. The fact there is no State Resource Officer in the school astounds me.

 I will always publish comments. I have never not published a comment unless it is an utter fabrication and lie. I prefer them to be the real person, but I accept anonymous comments as well. But I have outed one commenter who wanted to play some games with me, but that was a very unique circumstance.

 While I have your attention, this is the school’s chance to let us know what is going on there. When a school shuts down all communication, people wonder why there is a veil of silence. I will gladly listen to the story, and I’m sure my readers will want to know as well.

 Obviously there are giant issues there, otherwise the DOE would not have put a brand new charter on formal review. So please, if you are able, be the voice for this school that is so desperately needed right now.

And she came back:

“My problem with all of this is this is an experiment.”..Not true-There is not one program, process or practice that is not grounded in research that I personally have experienced as effective. I would not have voluntarily given up my job in the Prison and walked away from a pretty straight forward path to retirement if I did not believe in my heart that this Charter had assembled the best minds for solving the most difficult problems that are hurting our city and ultimately damaging everyone who is associated with the reputation of our city as Murdertown.

I spent 5 years locked in with the worst offenders under 21 and asked ” what could we have done better to have prevented you from committing your crime. ” Those young men told me their story. They started telling me about school as far back as they could remember and we talked about a way to improve their experience in school. One young man said ” you people are all talk and no action. You are not willing to come into the city and really do anything to help us.”

When he left the prison to go home he was in his cell and he said ” I love you Ms Ogden.” I said ” I love you too, be safe and don’t get shot.” Less than a week later he had 8 bullets in his head and died on the street in a pool of blood. I was pretty shook up.

I got a call from the Delaware Met and saw a connect between the Big Picture Model and everything I learned from the kids in prison. Not all of the kids at the Met are “at risk.” Many come from families with mom’s and dad’s that have great jobs. There is a very diverse population. The paradigm shift meets the needs of both the at risk kids and the kids from homes that are not at risk but want something different. There is great research behind every aspect of the model. Implementation of any new charter takes time and this is not my first rodeo with the first 60 days of a start up. Stay tuned for this Charter to fulfill the mission Charter’s were intended: To show alternatives that work – but not experiments.

This is my third Charter “start-up.”

I look forward to hearing more from Sue Ogden!