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

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

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

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

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!

15 Who Made An Impact On 2015: Paul Herdman

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’m Thankful For Rodel’s Vision For…Rhode Island Board of Education? Say What?

It takes innovation and originality to be truly unique in today’s society.  The Rodel Foundation of Delaware, with CEO Dr. Paul Herdman leading the way, has been hammering Delaware public education for the past ten years in an effort to “fix” it.  Rodel created the Vision Coalition, which created “Vision 2015”, “Vision 2025”, and now “Student Success 2025”.  With six “key” initiatives, unique to Delaware, this latest vision will transform education and get Delaware students where they need to be in order to be “college and career ready”.  During this time of Thanksgiving, it is important to be grateful for those who have helped our world.  Thank you Rodel and Vision Coalition, for your staunch and never-ending quest to improve educ…wait a minute!  What is this?

For the past few months, I have joined some national efforts to get to the bottom of this corporate education reform world we are living in.  As a result, I see lots and lots of documents from other states now.  Upon glancing through the Rhode Island State Board of Education’s “Strategic Plan for Public Education”, I noticed quite a few similarities between their plan and “Student Success 2025”.  Including, you guessed it, six “key” initiatives.

Here is the Vision Coalition’s six “priorities”:

vision6

And here is the Rhode Island State Board of Educations six “priorities”:

ri6

Let’s play the comparison game:

  1. Personalized Learning (V) and Personalized Learning Statewide (RI)
  2. Early Learning (V) and Early Childhood Education (RI)
  3. Post-Secondary Success (V) and Globally Competent Graduates (RI)
  4. System Governance, Alignment and Performance (V) and Informed Instructional Decision Making (RI)
  5. Educator Support and Development (V) and Teacher and Leader Support (RI)
  6. Fair and Efficient Funding (V) and Student-Centered Resource Investment (RI)

The only difference between the two sets of pretty much the same initiatives is Rhode Island doesn’t have that “North Star” they are trying to get to.  That is just another Rodelian buzz term designed to get the public to gravitate towards their magnetic center.  My biggest question is which came first?  Who is copying who?  Or are they both copies from another script?  And how many other states and foundations are having this pick-six education lottery ticket?

You can read both of the “pick-six” reports below.  See if you can find more similarities!

VISION COALITION STUDENT SUCCESS 2025

RHODE ISLAND STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION STRATEGIC PLAN FOR PUBLIC EDUCATION

a

Competency-Based Education & Personalized Learning Invaded Delaware…We Didn’t Even Realize It…

Delaware Governor Jack Markell, who has held the role of state leader in Delaware since 2009, also serves on the National Governor’s Association.  This collective of all the United States Governors has several different committees they serve on.  Governor Markell serves on the Education & Workforce Committee.  To any citizen of Delaware, this is not a shock.  Markell serves on this committee with the Chair, Governor Jay Inslee (WA), the Vice-Chair, Governor Robert Bentley (AL), Governor Pete Ricketts (NE), Governor Kate Brown (OR), Governor Tom Wolf (PA), Governor Dennis Daugaard (SD), Governor Bill Haslam (TN) and Governor Scott Walker (WI).  Four of these states, Delaware, Washington, Oregon and South Dakota all administer the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  None of these Governors represent the nine states where the PARCC assessment is administered.

From their website, the Education & Workforce Committee’s main goal is this:

The Education and Workforce Committee has jurisdiction over issues in the area of education (including early childhood, K-12 and postsecondary) as well as in the areas of workforce development. Members of the committee ensure that the governors’ views are represented in the shaping of federal policy.

The committee released a paper two and half weeks ago about “Competency-Based Education” from Kindergarten to college.  In a nutshell, the document (which can be read below), wants to completely gut what is currently done in education.  Instead of students going through grades K-12, this new model would have students advance when they are proficient in a subject.

CBE shows promise for helping more elementary and secondary students meet higher standards of learning and become better prepared for college or a career training program.  Once in higher education or job training, CBE allows older students (traditional-age college students or adult learners) to learn on their own time at their own pace.

While some envision personalized learning as the wave of the future, I think it is ripe for abuse.  If the goal of personalized learning is for each student to advance at their own pace, it presents a clear danger to students who are already behind to become even more so.  Even more frightening is the role of the teacher in this personalized learning environment:

In a CBE system, the role of the educator changes from an individual lecturing in a classroom to that of a coach or facilitator who guides learning.  In a CBE system, the training, certification, evaluation, pay, promotion, and leadership role of educators should all be reexamined.

The role of assessment plays a major part in this.  For those reading this and may be thinking none of this has happened yet, this is exactly what is going on right now in Delaware.  This is the Delaware School Success Framework.

Assessment is frequently tied to accountability in K-12; therefore, policymakers should rethink what their accountability systems measure and value.

The third big area with this revolves around student funding, which has become a hotbed issue in Delaware in the past year.

Altering structures to award funding based on learning could provide incentives for the wider adoption of CBE efforts and allow states to pay for the learning outcomes according to their value.

So we have this competency-based education that turns teachers into facilitators of a computer program, students who either advance fast or fall even further behind (and we all know who that will be: minorities, low-income students, and students with disabilities), and funding that translates to which companies will get very rich very fast off this initiative.  And let’s face it, anytime we hear the word “incentives”, it is more “waivers” where nothing really gets waived except an antiquated No Child Left Behind standard that nobody can meet and forces states to comply with Federal standards.  And when they say “wider adoption” that means comply or you get nothing, just like they did with the Common Core State Standards (developed by this group and the Council of Chief State School Officers) and Race To The Top.  Lest we forget, none of this means Common Core and the current crop of state assessments are going away, because the whole reasoning for this is based on 1/3rd of children in America were proficient on the state assessments.  Which allows them to complete the vicious cycle all over again for their next initiative, Competency-Based Learning.

Imagine, if you will, you are an education-tech company and your personalized program gets picked in this CBE world.  You are instantly rich!  And you will align with all the other companies to make sure you stay that way.  You will join consortiums and committees, and as your company grows, you will own employees in the US DOE and all the State DOEs as well.  But guess what?  This has already happened!  Things in Delaware like BRINC, Schoology, Student Success 2025, the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission, and the DOE/State Board led Statewide Review of Educational Opportunities are all about this.  Even the Assessment Inventory Task Force will make sure assessments are designed towards this model.  We blinked, and personalized learning already infiltrated over half the state.  I warned folks a year ago how this would be a special education killer and competency-based education will do exactly that!

If you don’t think Delaware has been planning ahead for this for a long time, take this piece of information in the paper which talks about New Hampshire and their role in the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium:

New Hampshire is working with other states on a task force as part of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium to describe how the assessments can comprehensively support a CBE-aligned system.  The task force will recommend enhancements and changes to the assessment components to provide more precise information to teachers that they can use to improve students’ learning within a CBE system.

In other words, the teacher facilitator will simply switch the module in the personalized learning computer system that some Fortune 500 company created so the student can do better on the assessment which is designed to show how much we need this new system based on the amount of students not scoring as proficient.  It is a vicious cycle which rewards students who come from a better economic background and drags the students who struggle through a proficiency nightmare.  If the goal is to challenge “smarter” kids and to make proficiency the goal for “not as smart” kids, what happens when the “not as smart” kids get tired of waiting to become proficient?  If there is no challenge for them and they go over the same material over and over again, they will quickly become very bored and will start to act out in this CBE classroom.  And what is a CBE classroom?  Will it have inclusion for students with disabilities?  How does discipline work with this new working class of facilitators?

There are more questions than answers with all of this, but it is painfully transparent how the stage was set for all of this.  The Common Core was developed to set the “standard”, the state assessments were developed to set the “proficiency”, the accountability systems for teachers and schools (not the students) were set up to “destroy” the public education system as we know it, all leading to this: students getting even more screen time all day in school and getting brief amounts of time off the computer to hear a facilitator summarize or say “time for lunch”.  This is also why we see such a huge push for charter schools.  They have no teacher unions for the most part, and their “models” are based on this type of environment.  As more and more charters choke the traditional school districts, the path to this get-rich future becomes even more clear.  And our Governors seem to be okay with all of this!  Why?

The promise of such a system is that it can adjust the methods of instruction and assistance to provide deeper, more personalized learning and help ensure that all students meet or exceed the high expectations of rigorous and relevant standards.

Or, you can believe this will further separate the haves from the have-nots.  Can anyone stop this train which left the station years ago?  Or is the future already here?  Parents across the country are actually making a difference in stopping this runaway train by opting their children out of the state assessment.  While the motivation is to look out for their child’s well-being, they are also throwing a wrench into this massive machine and stopping it dead in its tracks.  We just need much higher opt-out numbers to blow the whole thing up!

The full document is below:

Rodel And Their Hypocrisy About NAEP Scores

The Rodel Foundation came out with a blog post on their website about not looking too much at declining NAEP scores.  This is in huge contrast to how they felt just four years ago.  The new blog post talks about apples and oranges in comparing the National Assessment of Educational Progress scores to the Smarter Balanced Assessment, but the article from 2011 talks about how we have a long way to go.  Back then, Rodel had the Vision Coalition and their Vision 2015 goals.

However, such large gaps between our current state and our four year targets raise the question: will RttT be enough to move the system or is even more sweeping systemic reform needed?

In 2013, Rodel Foundation CEO Dr. Paul Herdman wrote about Delaware’s 2013 NAEP scores:

Through Race to the Top, Delaware has implemented many of the successful policies that took hold in Massachusetts two decades earlier. While our current NAEP results since 2011 are modest, our overall, long-term growth tells another story. It’s a story that positions Delaware on a trajectory that catches up to and eventually surpasses national and world leaders like Massachusetts.

That said, I’m impatient. As Charles Osgood wrote back in 1986, if you want to be great, pretty good just isn’t good enough. Delaware is on the right track; we’re moving, but we need to maintain a sense of urgency because the rest of the world is moving, too.

So it seems NAEP scores are transmutable to whatever Rodel’s current flavor of the month is.  In other words, they are playing YOU- the Delaware citizen- with their obvious attempts to align you with their line of thought.  NAEP scores used to be very important to Rodel.  Now that the Smarter Balanced Assessment is in town, not so much.

Rodel is a marketing firm.  They market their product to Delaware citizens, and they desperately want you to buy it.  Which is why they write blog posts with their own initiatives written into them:

We know that Delaware educators are hard at work implementing higher standards in the classroom and many other initiatives are underway to help students achieve success.

The Vision Coalition launched their latest 10 year plan with Student Success 2025 and had a big pep rally at Del-Tech a couple months ago followed by their chocolate eclair fiesta at University of Delaware last week.  Make no mistake, the Vision Coalition IS the Rodel Foundation.  Maybe not in name, but it is ALL Paul Herdman.  Who also sits on the board of Innovative Schools, the charter school management organization we have heard so much about recently.  Eventually, the Rodel Foundation will go the way of the encyclopedia salesman.  Once people realize we don’t need them anymore (and we never really did), they will lose their luster and just disappear.  Rodel sells the need for their services.  Education reform companies always sell “the need” and “the fix”.  But as current NAEP and Smarter Balanced Assessment scores show, these faulty agendas do nothing for student improvement.

We all know Governor Markell and the Delaware DOE just love Rodel, because Markell and Herdman designed all of this for Delaware.  The epic failure that was Race To The Top?  Who do you think wrote most of our plan to the feds?  Doc Herdman!

Vision Coalition & Student Success 2025 Is A Joke, All The Kiss-Asses Need To Stop The Charade #vcconf15

I’ve been following the live tweets from the Vision Coalition and their idiotic Student Success 2025 most of the morning.  I see lots of district admins, Delaware PTA reps, teachers and legislators buying into this absolute nonsense.  All you are doing is lining up the pockets of Rodel’s Dr. Paul Herdman and his corporate education reform buddies.  Enough.  You attend this event expecting some kind of miracle every year, and it is more of the same.  Endless talk with no true progress.  The NAEP scores came out today, and students did worse.  Smarter Balanced is a complete failure.  You talk and talk and do nothing about the true problems: crap like this making its way into the classroom.  All this talk about personalized learning…you have no idea what you are turning children into.  Drones for the millionaires and hedge fund managers.  And who is going to pay for all this?  Our state is facing a probable $200 million dollar deficit in the coming months, and you want to spend more money.  While funds are siphoned out of the classroom for these events?  Come on people, wake up!

If you want to do something meaningful for Delaware students, stop attending events like this.  Get in the classrooms, see what teachers really need.  See what students need.  Personalized learning is not it.  Standards-Based IEPs are not it.  You can talk about community and parent engagement all you want, but I guarantee you the bulk of the parents in this state could not give a rat’s ass about this kind of thing.  Stop trying to reinvent the wheel.  All you are doing is making clowns like Paul Herdman rich.  And trust me, he is laughing all the way to the bank.  He likes to talk about unintended consequences a lot.  You have no idea what just attending an event does to the students you like to think you represent.  If you are there for the awesome eclairs, I get it.  But if you are there to go back to your district, school, or association and fill heads up with all these great ideas, you are barking up the wrong tree.

I’m sure Jack Markell will give some rousing speech to go along with all the other bs you heard today.  Don’t forget about the students and stop going to these “all-star country club” events.  You are all culprits in the traps being set for students and teachers by merely attending.  You should be supporting a nationwide push to get outside companies the hell out of education.  You should be digging your heels in against standardized testing and all it’s punishment tactics.  Support opt-out.  Support special education.  Stop bullying.  Turn the discussion on how we can lift children out of poverty and reduce crime.  Stop with the apparent racism that exists in our state.  Stop the segregation and the tactics used to make it continue.  This isn’t education, it is a corporation.

Dr. Godowsky’s Big Day! From Vision To Senate Confirmation!

Dr. Steven Godowsky, the Acting Delaware Secretary of Education, is expected to be confirmed by the Delaware Senate in an Executive Session at 2:30pm today.  Earlier this morning, he gave a speech at the Student Success 2025 event sponsored by the Vision Coalition and tons of corporate education reform companies.  I’m hearing lots of good things about Dr. Godowsky, but I am cautiously optimistic.  The Delaware Senate needs to grill him on what his true intentions are.  If he is just there to follow Governor Markell’s bidding, he should step away now before Delaware students come under more harm with false ideologies and tainted dogma coming from the destroyers of public education.

We all know many are in attendance at Student Success 2025 for the eclairs.  No one is fooled.

Vision Coalition Launches Latest 10 Year Plan, Student Success 2025

Today, at Del-Tech Terry Campus in Dover, Delaware, the Vision Coalition launched their latest ten-year endeavor, Student Success 2025.  With a very large crowd in attendance, the team officially announced Student Success 2025.  Nothing was  actually said about what exactly they will be doing, but I got plenty of quotes!

A student from Newark High School and a student from Kuumba Academy gave the opening remarks.  “Let’s never forget the most important group here today: the students!”

The leadership of the Vision Coalition all gave remarks.  The leadership team consists of H. Raye Jones Avery, Kurt Landgraf, Lamont Browne, Susan Bunting, Paul Herdman, Mark Holodick, Frederika Jenner, Dan Rich, Susan Perry-Manning, Dan Rich, Jorge Melendez, Gary Stockbridge, and the absent chair of the coalition, Ernie Dianastasis.

The entire thing was an infomercial without really getting into the product.  Since I don’t necessarily agree with a lot of it, I’ll direct you to Matt Albright’s story in the News Journal. I’ll just give some interesting quotes:

Stockbridge: “A once a decade opportunity for Delaware, a chance most states don’t have,” “provide students with greater and fairer opportunity,” “this coalition is not only powerful…”, “Student Success 2025 isn’t just another 10 year plan,” and “I know we haven’t seen as much harmony as we would like, and we are not always going to agree.”

Browne: “forcing our teachers to redesign…”, “we know that change isn’t only possible, it’s inevitable”

Rich: “we’ve raised academic standards, improved teacher evaluation policy, improved recruitment of new teachers, improved …for new teacher candidates”, ”, “we need to be very clear-sighted”, “we need a plan looking forward”, “engage entire DE community across all sectors”, “because of Vision 2015 we don’t need to start from scratch”, “we need greater alignment and coherence, that includes traditional public schools, charters and vo-tech, efficient funding system,” WEIC: “what we are launching today is aligned w/that system”, “we need to work with them together”, “we need to reaffirm the goals we set a decade ago”, “I believe there remains a broad commitment to these goals”, “high standards, invest in early education, preparing principals to be highly effective leaders, engaging families in all we do, adoptoption of fair and efficient funding system….they remain critical goals” “go with what’s working: it’s not easy to identify what’s working…”, “the goal here is pretty clear” “what we need is a cohesive and integrated system” “we need that whole system to be connected”, “we’ve often gotten off track instead of emphasizing collaboration, we’ve emphasized compliance”, “we need private as well as public collaboration, (including) collaboration between public and charter, families…”

Jenner: “the men and women I represent in the DE educ. System work in tandem across the state of Del….they counsel, they nurture…they deliver instruction, provide meals, transportation…meet the needs of students who require special services…they are hardworking and passionate, they hold the entire system together, without them there would be no student success, there is no plan that makes sense w/out educators at the table.”

At this point, while I was looking around, a woman in the back row when I glanced past her called me an a-hole.  Don’t know who she was, and I didn’t see a name tag on her.  Probably not a fan of my blog I assume…

Avery: “out of the mouths of babes come gems”, “too often the student voices is absent from those reports”, “we started by listening to the voices of students”, “we received more than just gems, we were shown a window to their world”, “overall we heard more than 1,359 students from over 45 different Delaware schools”, “our young people said they want more concrete connections between school and what happens next in life”, “most felt unsure about the steps to get there”

Bunting: “we’ve invested local dollars in this opportunity”, “personalized learning puts the student at the center of the environment”, “BRINC Consortium-Mark and I are a part of it”, “this report calls for greatest investment in…” “Develop the whole child”

Holodick: “up to 1/3rd of our budget, up to a billion dollars, goes to education”, “only state in America using unit-based funding”, “allow students to take courses from other school districts”

Herdman: “we’re getting near the finish line”, “the whole concept of education has expanded”, “we want our state to be performing in the top ten of the u.s., but also the world” “we want them to be good people, adults who are kind, good citizens,”, “there is an empathy, a recognition of rich and poor” (among students)

The two students gave closing remarks.  The Newark High School student got props from me for talking about writing a bill for a school legislative program to adopt Finland’s school system in America!

My take: it’s just more of the same, with more emphasis on personalized learning.  I think personalized learning will eventually find a way to shrink the teacher workforce and make the teaching profession more of a “refresher” of sorts for students after they learn everything online.  Just my thoughts on that.  I find it interesting this group and WEIC are both looking at funding of education in Delaware.  From what I heard by many in attendance at the WEIC meeting last night, they are still going over the history of how they got to this point.  It’s hard to move forward for this group.  I personally think it is a huge project, and they do not and will not have enough time to meet their deadlines.  Will they cram it all in or start again from scratch?

But back to Student Success 2025.  I don’t think anything any group in Delaware matters as long as the Delaware Department of Education is continuing the federal mandates and their own high-stakes accountability systems.  I’m all for student improvement, but not with the measuring sticks they are using.  But I firmly believe this is what most of this coalition also wants.  So I can’t really support it.  I do think Rodel is backing off a bit in their charter school obsession, but nobody knows what really goes on behind closed doors…

We Don’t Need More Of Rodel’s Vision To Help Students Succeed

Today in the News Journal, Vision Coalition Chairman Ernie Dianastasis wrote in the Delaware Voice editorial slot about the upcoming Student Success 2025.  Sponsored by the Vision Coalition, anyone in Delaware who knows a thing or two about this kind of thing knows this is Rodel led.  I found this editorial to be very insulting to the citizens of Delaware.  Rodel works behind the scenes with the Department of Education in Delaware, as well as our State Board of Education, to make sure it’s own agenda is heard first.

The arrogance in this is overwhelming:

Our schools have already made great progress over the last decade, and much of this new plan is simply building upon our solid foundation.

It is that very foundation, thrust upon the students of Delaware over the past ten years by Rodel that delivered us Race To The Top, Smarter Balance, and priority schools.  But Dianastasis casts that aside as if Rodel had nothing to do with it.

I don’t need to remind anyone that last year was no picnic.  Statewide tension around Race To The Top, so-called “priority schools”, and the Smarter Balanced assessments led the News Journal to ponder, “is our education system descending into chaos?”

A chaos you created Rodel.  Under the leadership of Dr. Paul Herdman, Rodel has inserted itself into every major education decision and left destruction in it’s wake.  DSEA ran afoul of Rodel last Spring when the State Board and Rodel had issues with items DSEA wanted in a teacher survey.  This caused the TellDel survey to be pushed back until next year.  Rodel should have NO input on something like that.  During the House Bill 50 opt-out discussion, Dr. Paul Herdman actually came off his pedestal to speak against the legislation at a Senate Education Committee meeting, despite the citizens of Delaware advocating for the bill.  If they truly cared what the citizens actually think, they wouldn’t be spouting this nonsense.

And lest we forget, during the priority schools showdown last year, Herdman actually wrote a letter with Rodel letterhead stating “But these six priority schools need to change- dramatically- and the time is now.  Pointing fingers won’t help, we need a plan.”  The letter, read at the Wilmington City Council meeting on the priority schools last October, concluded by Herdman stating “Act with bravery and this community will follow.  This is what is special about Delaware- we know each other- and when there is a good idea, we rally.  Let us capitalize on this opportunity to act.  We may not see another one like it for a very long time.”  By using the word “capitalize”, Herdman showed us all how his mind works.  It’s all about the monetary value, not the educational one.  To hear Dianastasis refer to the “so-called priority schools” is funny considering the priority schools came out of the partnership zone which came out of Race To The Top.  Rodel pretty much crafted the plans for as evidenced by the numerous emails Herdman sent to Governor Markell. They are a non-profit company (although this is highly questionable) who profits immensely from educator misery and has some interesting donations and mysterious hedge fund activity.

The truth is, we aren’t all going to agree on everything.  And no- we don’t claim to have all the answers.  We accept that there will be real disagreements on the margins, but we can’t let that slow us down.

In other words, they know they are trying to blaze the path here and they don’t give a crap what people think.  So they are going to do what they want anyways and the DOE and State Board are going to go along with it because that’s what Governor Markell wants.  It’s been that way since Markell took office, and even before that.  Why should now be any different?  We have Rodel to thank for everything bad in education in Delaware.

The voices of 4,000 Delawareans contributed to this vision.

Okay, now you are just being ridiculous.  I keep track of these things.  Rodel did not have Town Halls with 4,000 Delawareans.  Having a highly publicized Imagine Delaware forum and making attendees fill out survey cards does not constitute a “shared vision“.  I’ll give you credit for having some meetings well over a year ago with a somewhat decent crowd showing up, but nothing anywhere near to minor league ballpark of 4,000.  Don’t buy the Kool-Aid here Delaware!  Rodel is trying to fool you yet again.  It’s funny, when I publicly challenged Herdman, he never contacted me again.  If you want to know what citizens of Delaware really think about Rodel (those who actually know them), this is the place to look.

Dianastatis serves as the Chair of Vision and the Chair of the Delaware Business Roundtable Education Committee.  This roundtable and the businesses and corporations they represent are the News Journal’s biggest advertiser.  For two days in a row now, readers of this newspaper have been subjected to editorials by corporate education reformers.  At least today’s IV drip of Kool-Aid inserted into your morning coffee is from someone that actually lives in Delaware.  Yesterday we had the whackjobs at the Fordham Foundation invading Delaware soil to tell us how much our “honesty gap” sucks and that everything before now has been a lie.  The only thing they got wrong was the “before now” part.  But this is what the News Journal has become, Governor Markell and all his ed reform buddies press release.  But really, is that any more insane than this video presented by the very same author as yesterday’s letter?

Student success and Rodel are like oil and water.  The sooner we boot them out of Delaware, along with Governor Markell and his bizarre hipster leaders at the DOE, the better off we will all be.

Student Success 2025 (Rodel) Brags To State Board of Education About The Awesomeness Of The Vision Coalition (Rodel)

There are terms when a person brags about themselves incessantly.  Arrogance.  Self-Aggrandizement.  Conceited.  This is Rodel in a nutshell.  On Thursday morning, they gave a presentation to the State Board of Education during a Work Session.  This was NOT during the very public State Board of Education meeting, but during one of their beforehand meetings.  Rodel essentially runs the Vision Coalition, who brought us Vision 2012, Vision 2025, Ed25 and now Student Success 2025.  This is one vision I just want to go away and close their eyes forever.  This is the q&a document from the State Board of Education website.

I love how they boast about all these partners in their coalition. I’ve talked to a few of these “partners” and they claim Rodel is only using their name and they were not truly part of this grand and brand new ball game.  My favorite part: “How will this help special education?”  With an answer not written but how I read it “Yeah right.  We’re going to make sure every student has an IEP.  We aren’t answering your direct question but we will word our answer so it looks like we did.  And we will throw in more about personalized learning while we’re at it! Yay Rodel!”

This does answer the question nobody has asked.  There will be the annual Vision Coalition conference in October.  The Student Success 2025 kick-off at Del Tech next month is not replacing that.  Fantastic! Now I can move on with my life and breathe again…

When is this state going to stop taking these clowns seriously?  The State Board of Education and Delaware DOE treats them like royalty.  But that’s because they think they are royalty themselves, all under the foot of King Markell.  Meanwhile, I am eagerly awaiting the public release of the Rodel Foundation of Delaware 990c 2014 tax form…

Is It A Coincidence WEIC, Rodel’s Student Success 2025 & DOE’s SREO Initiative Are All Taking Place At The SAME Time?

There are three major education groups going on right now.  We have the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission (WEIC) led by Bank of America executive Tony Allen, the Rodel sponsored Student Success 2025 brought to us by the Vision Coalition, and the Delaware Department of Education’s Statewide Review of Educational Opportunities (SREO).  These are all going on at the same time, and it makes me wonder…

The biggest thing I noticed on WEIC was the glaring fact there was NO representation from DOE or Rodel on the leadership team.  At first glance, I didn’t notice a lot of the major charter players at all.  But they are well-represented on the Vision Student success 2025 gig:  Rodel’s Dr. Paul Herdman, Eastside Charter’s Dr. Lamont Browne, Teach For America’s Laurissa Schutt, H. Raye Jones Avery, well-known charter supporters and business leaders Gary Stockbridge and Ernie Diastasis, Longwood Foundation President There DuPont, Saul-Ewing Charter School Attorney Jim Taylor, Maria Matos, Freire’s Assistant Head of Academics Paul Ramirez, and Rodman Ward III. And from the DOE there is Mark Murphy (not sure on his status now that he “resigned”), Vice-President of the State Board of Education Jorge Melendez, Chief of the Teacher & Leader Effectiveness Unit Chris Ruszkowski, Chief Academic Officer Michael Watson, and State Board of Education Director Donna Johnson.

As for the Statewide Review of Educational Opportunities, their membership consists of, well, not too many people.  The only folks I’ve seen on paper is Executive Director of the State Board of Education Donna Johnson and DOE Chief Policy and External Communications Officer Susan Haberstroh.  The Legislative Hall duo.  These are the only names on this group at this point and we have no idea who the stakeholders are aside from local education agencies and their data that will be collected.  On it’s face, the SREO is merely a data collection initiative, to be collected, collated, and dissected to find “best practices” in our schools.  My issues with this are 1) the vendor is Public Consulting Group, 2) there are always mitigating factors why some schools are “better” than others and trying to copy certain models in other areas of the state may not work, 3) it was a rush announcement by Governor Markell who actually came to a State Board of Education meeting to announce it in March.

All three of these groups have some similar goals for Delaware education.  If you look at the three documents below, it is easy to see the similarities but all the differences:

While certain goals in these three groups are similar, such as funding and best interests for students, some are very different.  But if you add up all the pieces, it equals a combined picture that includes nearly aspect of Delaware education.  I do not believe this is a coincidence.  A year ago, all roads let to the Wilmington Education Advisory Committee.  Now, all roads lead to Governor Markell and Rodel.

I have hypothesized for a year now that Wilmington will become an all-charter school district eventually.  I still believe this is the Governor’s goal.  Last night, at the Red Clay board meeting, serious questions were asked by the board to Dan Rich and Tizzy Lockman with WEIC.  The board questioned where their authority in all of this is.  In the wording of Senate Bill 122, it states the State Board of Education can act without a referendum if the local school board approves a resolution supporting the WEAC recommendations.  Red Clay did this in April.  The law does not specifically name the school districts that can be redrawn.  So who is to say charter schools can’t be considered a school district?  They can, and they could have say in all of this before all is said and done.

The alignment for a total takeover is present, right now.  But there is one huge glitch in the whole plan…funding.  Who pays for any of this?  Red Clay? Christina? The taxpayers (invariably, they always do), the State of Delaware? Corporations?  And there may be one other snafu in this whole process… but I’m not going to let that cat out of the bag!

Who Wants To Go To Rodel’s Student Success 2025 Gig Wearing “Refuse The Test” Shirts & Give Out Flyers?

Anyone game? It’s on Wednesday, September 16th at Del Tech in Dover, from 10-11:15am.  It’s free!  You have to sign up and register at http://bit.ly/studentsuccess2025launch and your ticket will be emailed to you.

studentsuccess2025

Yes, because 2012, 2015 and the original 2025 didn’t work out, we now have Student Success 2025, because ED2025 wasn’t as catchy!  I’m serious, who wants to go and hand out REFUSE THE TEST DELAWARE flyers?

Get Ready For “Student Success 2025” Brought To You By The “Still Has A Pulse” Vision Coalition

Vision 2012, er, uhm, Vision 2015, uh, Ed25, Vision 2025, whatever they are calling themselves these days is apparently still alive.  Now they are getting ready to launch Student Success 2025, brought to you, the audience that didn’t demand it, by the Vision Coalition.  For those who thought they morphed into Schools That Care, maybe they did, maybe they didn’t.  Can anyone keep track of this nonsense anymore?

In any event, they are having a shindig at Delaware Technical Community College in Dover on Wednesday September 16th, from 10-11:15am.  It’s free, so you can go and see what the fine folks at Rodel, er, uhm, Vision 20??, what the hell, the corporate education reform supporters in Delaware have up their sleeves now.  You can read about it and watch the video they didn’t even put up on Youtube and get absolutely no answers to this plan concocted on them asking 4,000 Delawareans about education.  I’m sure it was a survey, or maybe it was the form you had to fill out at the Imagine Delaware forum back in March in order to ask a question.  I don’t think Rodel ever put me on their email list (gee, I wonder why) so I really don’t have a clue.  But you can see their updated website with some new names on their working groups.  I think I see some parsley and a fox.  What a complete shocker!  And it looks like everyone’s favorite opt-out superintendent is there too!  Otherwise it’s the same group of people led by the Rodel guy, waiting to launch the next best thing on us.  And how much do you want to bet the DOE will pay for this little fiesta?

And of course they would have this when Delaware educators and students are, you know, at school.  And most Delaware parents are, you know, working.  So who is the crowd?  Who is the target audience here?  You guys aren’t fooling anyone!