Exceptional Delaware Year Three Begins NOW!

I really can’t believe it’s been two years since I started this little experiment.  I am more committed than ever to righting the wrongs in public education.  With that being said, I need your help.  What do you like about the blog?  What do you hate?  Is there something you want to see more of?  Less?  Am I too opinionated or not enough?  Am I too mean or not mean enough?  Do you like your stories to be journalistically based or with the flavor you come to expect on this blog?  I came to the realization there is absolutely no way I can cover everything or please everyone.  Education is a beast and growing by the day.  There will always be heroes, villains, and those in-between.  It’s getting very hard to understand motivations.  As I’ve said before, I believe most people have “tainted decency”, meaning they are not 100% good and not 100% bad.  I will have an article coming later this morning that will explore this notion.  There are a few sides to this story.

Until then, thank you for the followers from the beginning of this blog, those who jumped on for the ride, and those who are just starting now.  I appreciate all of you and your opinions, whether I agree with them or not.  There are no easy answers with education.

The Tales I Cannot Tell

There are many.  Too many nowadays.  There are many reasons.  Retaliation against people is the biggest one.  Another one is waiting on more information.  Blogging takes a lot of time and effort.  Especially the way I do it.  I have more articles in my draft folder then I ever have.  Many are in my head.  Some are… with others.  Sometimes there are games afoot.  Sometimes a source drops a load of information and then disappears.  I’ve learned I have to vet some sources a bit more than I used to.

Some of these articles would be permanent game changers for some people, schools, or even districts.  Even some of our politicians in Delaware should have reason to fear.  Delaware is a small state but large in secrets.  Through it all, it always comes back to Jack Markell, one way or another.  He is the Kevin Bacon of education connections in Delaware.

Many of the tales I cannot tell are heart-wrenching.  They are incredibly sad and all I can say is some children should never be treated the way they are in some schools.  If you are an education leader of some sort in our crazy state, and you are wondering “Does he know?”, chances are pretty good I probably do.  For those who think “he is clueless, he has no idea what is really going on”, be advised I most likely do know exactly what is going on, why it is happening, and the trail of breadcrumbs you left.

I know about a lot of the side deals, and the knife thrusts in the backs of enemies, and the things some think only a select few know about.  You are wrong.  I know when I’m being used, even though you don’t think I do.  Sometimes I allow myself to be used because I know what is at the other end of the tunnel.  I know why some react and why some stay quiet as a church mouse.  I know why some stopped reacting.  I know those who drink the kool-aid in public but tell me in private they know it is wrong.  I know who has a forgiving heart, who has the capacity to forgive, and who has a dead heart.

I know a lie before the words finish coming out of a mouth.  But the most stunning thing I know is there are some things I could write about and the whole state could read it but nothing would happen.  I know about the corruption in our state, from the top to the bottom.  I know the looks some give me can be an “I understand” or “Please go away” or “You can’t do a thing to stop any of this” or “You know nothing”.  Some desperately tell me how wrong I am only to see the dawn of realization hit them later.  I know those who try to distract me to keep me away from something else.  It has worked in the past but it is much harder now.

I know about the money trails and how some try to hide it.  I see the categories and we both know it is utter bullshit.  I see it more than you think I do.  I hear the administrator horror stories.  How unfairly so many of our teachers are treated.  I know those who don’t bat an eye when making the wrong decision to protect themselves while others suffer.  I know about those who think a climb to power is better than integrity and dignity.  I know far too many who are blinded and manipulated and believe what they think they are hearing.  I know who my enemies are.  That is very easy.  I know those who want me to think they are my allies but I know they aren’t.  I know those who are genuine and true and want the best for children.  I know the chess players and the ones who think they are grand champions but the reality is they should stick to checkers or go fish.

These are the tales I cannot tell.  Many of them are just in a “for now” status.  Some can NEVER be told.  Some I plan for an exact moment.  Some will join together in unholy matrimony in ways even I couldn’t imagine but make sense when they do.  Some I find out about and publish right away while others age like a fine wine.  I have seen a future and it is a very dark place for all of us.  I’ve seen the past and paths clear more each time.  I see the futurists, always scheming and plotting.  I know things that will happen that nobody knows about yet.  I know things that some think will happen but they are going to be very disappointed.  I know when to walk way over the line and when to draw back.  I know when the line is blurry and sometimes I know when it is invisible.  I know what the biggest trick of all was and who was involved, even though I don’t write about it.  I know so much more than you think I do.  This is… Exceptional Delaware.

Is The Delaware DOE Evil, Or Just Extremely Misguided?

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In the past year, with all the articles I’ve written about the Delaware Department of Education, I have never had anyone come up to me and say “The DOE is awesome, they’re doing a great job.”  They’ve had supporters, but even they say there are issues.  I’ve often wondered if the DOE, Governor Markell, the State Board, Rodel, and all the rest are truly evil.

I don’t think they are.  I think they are operating in a climate of fear where they buy into everything hook, line, and sinker.  But I also think they believe their mantra about teachers, and students needing to be assessed to “close the gaps”.  People can be easily swayed if they are only given one argument.  I’ve had quite a few DOE employees tell me offline “Don’t publish this, but the Smarter Balanced Assessment really sucks!”  But at heart, most of them are Kool-Aid drinkers.

I’m not saying they are all good people either.  I took a course in college called “The Problem of Evil”.  The professor posited that all people are neither inherently good or completely evil.  We all operate on “tainted decency”, which states that everything we do has some sort of selfish motivation for us.  We tried to come up with anything anyone in this world does without a self-interest clause, and the only thing we could come up with is volunteer fireman.

What we don’t know about the DOE is their innermost thoughts, their soul, their conscience.  We can’t even guess what they think about late at night.  They are people just like the rest of us.  I’m not defending them, but I think it’s important to separate the job from the person.  Everyone I’ve talked to at the DOE is very nice and cordial.  Now when I say “talked to”, there are some who won’t even glance in my direction.

For all the razzing bloggers give them in Delaware, they have some pretty thick skin.  Especially when it involves charter schools.  But to this date, with the numerous times I’ve seen him, Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy has only said two words to me, and those were “Thank you.”  This was on June 24th last year at Governor’s Café in Dover.  He was rushing out the door, and I held it open for him.  He has tried staring me down a few times, but I don’t let him.  I just keep staring back.

For some of these people, there is a factor I like to call greed.  They are making a lot of money, more than the average Delawarean.  They are young, and some of these employees are making over $100,000 to essentially destroy public education as we know it.  Wealth and an imagined power can make anyone submit to authority if it keeps the pipeline flowing.

What bothers me though, are the outright lies.  Lines like “Smarter Balanced is the best test this state ever made”, or “Were entitled to our opinions, but not facts” when those “facts” are very wrong.

The companies surrounding the DOE and whispering in their ear, along with the Governor’s office, I don’t think they are evil either.  Pretty close to it though.  They are a business.  Businesses make money.  And that’s what it’s all about!

But for the most part, many of the employees at the DOE are just more state worker bees.  I tend to focus on the big dogs there because they set the policies and guidelines.  When I go to the DOE, it is the hub I visit, not the kiosks with eight employees in a row.

The big question is how many of these chiefs for academic excellence down at the Townshend Building in Dover will still be there in two years?