Top 16 Things We Won’t Hear In Governor Markell’s Last State Of The State Address Today

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At 2pm, Delaware Governor Jack Markell will give his last State of the State address to the General Assembly.  Judging by his seven press releases over the past few days, it is fairly predictable to guess what he is going to talk about.  But the things he won’t talk about are what I’m more curious about…

These are the things I cannot picture Governor Markell saying: Continue reading

Major Time Change For January State Board of Education Meeting Due To Governor Markell’s State Of The State Address

This should be interesting.  The Delaware State Board of Education will be voting on the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission’s redistricting plan on January 21st at their regular meeting.  Typically, their meetings begin at 1:00pm, but on this date it will begin at 9am.  Governor Markell is giving his State of the State address this day based on the comment made on the State Board of Education schedule.

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Teachers, educators, and parents have commented many times about the inaccessibility of State Board of Education meetings given that they occur in the middle of the day when parents are typically at work and teachers and educators are in schools.  As well, this will be a very big meeting with the WEIC vote.  For anyone from Wilmington to get to Dover, park, and get to the room by 9am, they would have to leave anywhere between 7:30-8:00am depending on traffic.  I have a feeling based on history this is not going to make a lot of people happy.  While the time has not been released for the State of the State Address, it is typically in the afternoon.  State Board meetings typically don’t last longer than four to five hours, but this will not be an ordinary State Board of Education meeting.  The agenda for the entire meeting will most likely go up on 1/14/16 and I will post it here as soon as it is up.  I could picture the State Board shortening the meeting by not having too many other presentations or reports from the DOE.  I won’t even begin to guess what would happen in the event of inclement weather.  But all of this makes the State Board workshop on the WEIC plan on January 11th even more interesting…

Will Governor Markell have to change his State of the State address based on the State Board of Education vote on the WEIC plan?  Unless he plans on showing up for the vote???  Maybe someone should try to convince the State Board of Education to livestream this important meeting…

Public comment, as always with the State Board of Education, is not allowed for any action item on their agenda.  But as well, WEIC has a formal comment period which expires January 14th.

Breaking Down Governor Markell’s Education Plan In The State of the State Address

Italics are Governor Markell, regular print is my response.  Agree? Disagree? Let me know!

This year, I ask the General Assembly, our schools, our colleges, and our businesses to join me in committing to the Delaware Promise. This is a new goal for our state. By 2025, 65 percent of our workforce will earn a college degree or professional certificate. Everyone will earn at least a high school diploma.

And what if they don’t?  How can you guarantee this Governor Markell?  Does this include students with disabilities?  Because there is controversy over those who take DCAS-Alt and whether they will get a high school diploma or a certificate of attendance.

Our efforts build on the tremendous work led by Senator Harris McDowell in creating the SEED and INSPIRE scholarships, which make Delaware one of the only states where high school graduates can secure a two-year degree at virtually no cost. And thanks to the leadership of Gary Stockbridge, and the tremendous efforts of our business, non-profit, and education communities, more than one hundred Delaware companies are providing training, mentoring, and workplace experience to our young people through the SPARC initiative.

But they have to attend certain schools to do this.  Not many choices there.  Does this benefit these students or the companies they would work for at lower costs?

But we know we must do more, so today I’m announcing three parts of our strategy to fulfill the Delaware Promise.

First, we will create an initiative called Pathways to Prosperity, which will establish partnerships with Delaware employers, universities, and our K-12 system to prepare students for a bright future in key industries. High school students will take hundreds of hours of specialized instruction and hands-on training. They will graduate with industry-recognized certificates and college credits.

Once again, these Pathways to Prosperity are pathways for these companies to essentially get free labor, thus, greater prosperity.

This fall, we will launch pathways statewide for the IT and hospitality industries. We will also expand to southern Delaware the manufacturing pathway we started last year with Colonial and New Castle County Vo-tech School Districts. Those manufacturing students are already making great progress and will get paid internships this summer at companies like Agilent Technologies, PPG, Kuehne and Siemens. The following year, we will expand the network to include two more of our fastest growing industries – financial services and healthcare. I want to thank President Mark Brainard for his personal commitment to this initiative. These pathways will transform opportunities for our young people for years to come. But we must also address our employers’ immediate needs for skilled workers.

So let’s train teenaged students to be that skilled work force at lower costs for the companies that profit.  Can’t have our students aiming for higher goals!

The second initiative I’m announcing is that Delaware Tech will partner with the national consulting firm McKinsey to significantly accelerate the training of entry-level healthcare workers. Employers have committed dozens of internships for young people who have already completed our terrific Jobs for Delaware Graduates program. As a result of this new training, they will be working in the field within months rather than years.

McKinsey…why does that ring a bell?  Oh yeah, you used to work for them.  And they helped out with the education blueprint and “Opportunity Knocks”, the education reform plan you and Paul Herdman and other corporate folks put together ten years ago.

Third, many of our employers have told me that they can’t find enough qualified IT workers and must resort to hiring them away from each other. We need a new pipeline of Delawareans trained to do these jobs. I’m pleased to announce that eight major employers are joining with us to train and hire hundreds of IT workers in our state. Through accelerated education programs and a “coding school” launching this fall, these employers will have access to a new cohort of skilled software programmers. Again, this training will take months rather than years.

Yes, let’s rush training because that always works so well.

Everyone can contribute to our state when given the chance, but efforts to expand our workforce have traditionally excluded people with disabilities. They miss out on the fulfillment of gainful employment, and employers miss out on the talents of so many. As you may remember, I made this issue the central plank in my role as chair of the National Governors Association. I’m thrilled that governors across the country are making this a priority.

Start providing proper funding when these people with disabilities are students with disabilities and I’ll be happier Governor Markell.  How about providing more funding to school districts to lower classroom sizes so inclusive special education students get better supports and resources.  Hell, reduce all class sizes and restore the funding taken from these school districts years ago and get rid of charter school slush funds.

Here in Delaware, we are building on progress we have made since the General Assembly passed the Employment First Act with Representative Heffernan’s leadership. More than 20,000 Delawareans are contributing, are engaged in their communities, and have purpose like never before. One of our biggest IT companies, CAI, has committed to hiring people with autism because they excel in roles like software testing and programming. And there are many other stories to remind us of the abilities of these Delawareans – people like Lucinda Williams, executive director of the Brain Injury Association of Delaware – and Alaric Good, who unloads supply trucks and manages the front desk at Walgreens.

I’m going to agree with you on this one.

Here is what people like Lucinda and Alaric have taught us: when we focus on the ability, rather than the disability, we are able to do amazing things, together. Please recognize them.

But here is where we are going to have to disagree.  While we may agree people need to see the ability and not the disability, the disability is still there.  How about, once again, beefing up special education in this state, and not for the sole purpose of increasing standardized test scores.  Because the result, as you will soon see once Smarter Balanced scores come out, will be horrific.

This year, DHSS will launch two programs to give Delawareans with disabilities a fair shot at employment. One will help young people plan their career while supporting them with transportation, personal care, and assistive technology. Another will provide specialized employment supports for adults with mental health needs and substance use disorders.

How about providing more funding for these things when they are students, so the horrors of school don’t follow them into adulthood.  Provide resources for bullying of students with disabilities, proper IEP meetings, and more training for our educators on different disabilities.

Preparing Delawareans to seize the opportunities of the future starts long before they enter job specific training. All of our children deserve a world-class education from day one.

Is Day One the moment of conception?  What defines a world-class education? Test and punish or students learning many different subjects to expand their choices.  One size does not fit all Governor Markell but that is exactly what you have sold on your education agendas.

I’m proud of our educators, like teacher of the year Megan Szabo; our principals, like Mark Pruitt from Conrad Schools of Science; and other school officials, like the Chief of our Chiefs, Superintendent Mark Holodick, all of whom are working so hard to help our students succeed.

How about the six priority school principals who face the toughest challenges of any principal in this state?  Schools who have not received proper funding for years, but now they are to be judged based on standardized test scores the legislature and yourself said come from a test that is no longer valid.  Yet, you will use last years scores for a second year in a row because you know the Smarter Balanced scores will be horrible.  Invite all of the educators in our state to your next State of the State and I will be impressed.  Otherwise, stop singing the praises of a few.  It’s getting insulting and very old.

Please join me in thanking them and their colleagues.

Thank you to all the educators in our state.  None of you are perfect, but all of you are faced with the burden of conforming to the DOE and Markell’s Rodel agendas.  I want to say I’m sorry on behalf of our state for this.

We know that the education we received years ago will not be enough to prepare students to thrive in our new economy. So we’re making investments and improvements across our education system. Our educators are teaching to higher academic standards.

Yeah, students are doing work two grades ahead in 5th grade.  All for a test that over 70% of them will fail.  I know you are making investments, but the students and educators won’t get the payoff.  You and your Rodel-sponsored corporate education reform buddies reap the benefits from these shenanigans.

We have doubled the number of high school students who take college classes in the last year. And the number of students taking AP classes has doubled over the last decade. That means hundreds of additional students graduate from high school with college credit.

Because you don’t have faith in our colleges to teach college courses, and it allows you to “invest” more in our high schools.  Once again, who benefits?

Ninety percent of children’s brain development occurs before they even enter kindergarten. So thanks to your support, we have enrolled more than 3,000 additional high-needs children in the best early childhood centers in the past two years. And we’ve given grants to 89 top early learning programs to offer the highest quality infant care to more of our neediest kids. We know that care is expensive and hard-to-find, yet key to our children’s success.

I will fully admit I don’t know enough about these programs and grants to comment.  I can play fair.

We have also invested in language immersion programs because our children will have greater opportunities in the global economy when they can speak more than one language. After only two and a half years, we have 1,400 students spending half of their school day learning in Chinese or Spanish. And we’ll keep expanding next year.

Common Core in English is bad enough, but now you want more to do it in different languages?  Slow your roll Governor Markell!  And where is all the funding coming from on this and what happens when it runs out?

We’re recruiting and retaining great educators and principals, because we know that nothing is more important for our students’ success than the people who teach them and lead their schools.

Yes, through fast-track education certification programs like Teach for America and Relay Graduate School because you want to bust the teacher unions and have less experienced and less educated “teachers” in our schools so they can sit back and watch children learn over the internet through Rodel funded programs like 2Revolutions.  I’ve seen the Vision of the future Governor Markell, and it is not bright.

That’s why we have spent more than a year carefully crafting an improved compensation system for new educators, and for current teachers who want to participate. We’ll raise starting salaries and allow educators to earn more by taking on leadership responsibilities while remaining in the classroom.

But you’ll screw over those who want to do more and get a masters degree and not pay them more for this advanced knowledge.  Which would not happen for those who know more in companies like McKinsey, right?

With leadership from DSEA and feedback from teachers statewide, the committee you established last year will make a proposal this spring. I thank Senators Sokola and Pettyjohn, as well as Representatives Kenton and Williams and former Representative Scott for their contributions to the committee.

And yet the DOE has scheduled many of these meetings that are inconvenient to teachers across the state and even kicked teachers out at one event because the DOE had one event at a library while another event was going on close by.  No public school district teacher likes this plan.

Communities across the state, from Western Sussex to Wilmington have urged that we reexamine the way we pay for education.

Yes we have!  We want the General Assembly to go over Race To The Top funding with a fine-tooth comb.  How many boards does Paul Herdman and other “education” leaders sit on of the companies that most benefited from Race To The Top?  How many charter schools have benefited from education funding while public school districts are left to whither on the vine?

In the coming months, at the recommendation of House Education Committee Chair Earl Jacques, President Blevins, Speaker Schwartzkopf and I will create a school funding task force to make recommendations that would spur more innovation in our schools and address inequities for our neediest students. We cannot prepare our students to seize the opportunities of the new economy with a funding system developed three-quarters of a century ago.
 
But didn’t you change a lot of that funding system five years ago with needs-based funding?  Didn’t you cut funding and never restore the full amounts to the neediest students?  Yes you did.

That work is particularly important for our high-needs students, including those who have been at the center of our efforts to transform Wilmington’s Priority Schools. I know the debate around these efforts reflect a commitment on the part of everybody in this chamber and many beyond to do what is right for our most at-risk children.

Yes, my commitment to these children hasn’t waivered one bit.  And “priority schools” are not the answer during your test and punish administration.  What is right is to stop this under any and all circumstances.

However, while we are entitled to our own opinions, we are not entitled to our own facts. And the facts are clear. The students in these schools aren’t making sufficient progress, while students with similar challenges are making extraordinary progress in other schools.

When you manipulate those facts, those facts are not clear.  And we all know it Jack.  Those other students you speak of are in schools that have not shown long-term success, only an ability to mindlessly provide “rigor” and an ability to teach to the test.  Many of these students who transfer to public school districts are far beyond their classmates and are socially withdrawn.  We call the schools they came from charter schools.  If progress is only measured under one cohort, then YOU Governor Markell have failed these students.

We understand that these students bring significant challenges to school each day. Challenges of poverty. Of homelessness. Of unstable family situations. These are tragic problems that we are fully focused on addressing through economic development, housing, and other initiatives across state government.

Yeah, it just took voting Matt Denn in as Attorney General to get these issues addressed.  You and Beau Biden dropped the ball on this and now you want to piggyback on Denn’s ideas.  Real classy, given that you allowed this to happen in our largest city for the past six years…

And we know that educators in the Priority Schools are working passionately to help these children.

Is that why you want to fire half of those educators and get rid of the principals?  Your hypocrisy is larger than your ego Governor.

But for too long, problems of poverty have condemned these students to low expectations. They only get one chance at an education. They can’t wait any longer.

They can’t wait any longer, or the Community Education Building can’t wait any longer to fill up slots in the mostly empty building?  Or is it the hedge fund managers and investors who will see their portfolio massively increase when a charter management organization such as KIPP, Basis Schools, or Uncommon Schools comes to town?

That’s why we took action. We’re prepared to invest more than six million dollars to support great teachers and leaders in helping our neediest students thrive. We have required the Red Clay and Christina School Districts to develop a new approach to turning these schools around, by doing things like extending the school day, offering after-school programs, and providing hungry children with three meals a day.

You have forced Red Clay and Christina to adhere to an MOU that was written by eagle-eye attorneys to punish and humiliate these schools.  But you missed one thing Jack.  Did these attorneys consult every single IEP team in these schools when you are changing special needs students educational placement by extending school hours and offering (make that mandatory for lower scoring students) extended school year services?  Cause I don’t see that specifically addressed in the MOUs for each school.

We’ve been working closely to support the districts in this effort, and we are days away from receiving their plans. If these plans give our students the opportunities they deserve, we will approve them and move forward together. 

Opportunities they deserve, or opportunities the investors and corporate education reform companies will have as a result of these plans?  We both know the answer to that.  When you say “working closely to support the districts” would you correlate that to holding a gun to their heads and making them do your bidding or you will take their schools when that is your intention all along?  You don’t care about the schools plans.  This has been choreographed for a long time, and you have to be salivating for the moment you make an announcement.  That’s when the fun begins for those who oppose this!