Governor Markell on Arne Duncan’s Exit: The Red Pen Edition

Arne Duncan, Governor Markell

US Secretary of Education submitted his resignation letter earlier today.  I have to admit, when I first saw the headline, I was deathly afraid to read the article.  Why?  Because a couple years ago there was a rumor Duncan was going to resign then.  And one of the names put forth as a possible replacement?  None other than Delaware Governor Jack Markell.  Markell has been one of the chief proponents of Duncan and Obama’s education reform agenda.  He embraced the Common Core like a nail to a magnet.  So it was with great relief when I read the article and didn’t see his name.  That relief was soon replaced with horror as I read the name of the replacement: former NY Commissioner John King.  Make no mistake, King is probably worse than Duncan.

Today, Markell put forth a statement on Duncan’s resignation.  I feel obligated to give it the Transparent Christina Red Pen edition.

Governor’s Statement on Secretary Duncan Stepping Down

Wilmington, DE – Governor Markell issued the following statement in reaction to today’s news that U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan will leave his position in December:

He really wished he could put forth a statement indicating he would have been appointed, but failure is well-known in the halls of D.C.

“Secretary Duncan stepped into his role at a challenging time, when our changing economy means that the level of education and training our young people receive, from pre-school through postsecondary programs, is more important than ever,” said Governor Markell. “He recognized that we must improve the resources available for our schools to do their jobs, while doing more to hold our system accountable for serving all students.

So what he did, and Markell helped him out on this and don’t let anyone ever tell you otherwise, was engineer programs and policies to come up with Common Core and very high-stakes standardized assessments based on that curriculum.  Duncan and Markell definitely improved “resources for our schools” by allowing companies to come in and try to “fix” our “failing” education system.  All for the grand goal of destroying traditional public education in an attempt to get more charters out there.  We see how that is working out in the First State.

“As a country we can be grateful that he never shied away from this hard but necessary work. As a Governor, I particularly appreciate his focus on challenging states to find new ways to increase opportunities for students, while providing unprecedented opportunities for us to implement innovative solutions through initiatives like Race to the Top and the Early Learning Challenge. His determination to get more of our youngest kids the opportunities they deserve raised awareness about the importance of high quality early childhood programs and raised expectations for what should be available to kids from communities that have long been underserved.

Which country are you living in Jack?  We know you appreciate it!  When can we see your stock portfolio?  You and Race To The Top.  You will never let us forget Delaware’s absolute complicity in that, will you?  And those communities that have “long been underserved”?  You helped perpetuate that by cutting key funding before Race To The Top, never replacing it, and then holding a sword to the throats of every school district in the state with Race To The Top.  Embrace or die!  You are a hypocrite of the highest measure Governor Markell.  You let Rodel and corporate education reformers destroy Delaware education.  And they are still here.  Meanwhile, after the results came back from the “best test Delaware ever created”, we see students with disabilities, low-income students, and minorities are even further behind than their peers.  But let’s be innovative and emulate what is “working” in our schools: the ones with selective and preferential enrollment practices that marginalize and segregate the most vulnerable students in the state.  You crapped on teachers so much that they hate you with such a passion you can’t see straight.  All in the name of the students, right Jack?  You are such a horrible Governor and I can’t wait until you leave.  You are just as corrupt as Arne and one day you will be held accountable.

“During numerous visits to Delaware, Secretary Duncan showed a commitment to seeking out what’s working and what needs to be improved in our schools, and Delaware students are better off for his efforts. I thank him for his service and wish him and his family well in whatever comes next.”

Two of his “numerous” visits to Delaware were to the same school Jack.  If Duncan truly gave a crap about our schools he would have gone to different ones.  He would have actually engaged with students instead of watching you suck up to him.  On his last visit, it was the day after YOUR Department got grilled by the House Education Committee and the Joint Finance Committee over all the wasted money that was Race To The Top.  I do not thank Duncan for his service.  I lament every second of his service that has given us an immeasurable amount of Federal control over education, horrible and crappy tests, a curriculum that makes no sense, and countless taxpayer dollars going to countless companies that didn’t even exist twenty-five years ago.  I can’t wait until you do the same thing and hand in a resignation letter before your time.  Please make it happen.  I opted out of your belief system years ago, and more Delawareans are doing the same every day.  Veto that Jack!

Delaware Students Are The Sacrificial Lamb For Penny Schwinn

Delaware School Success Framework, Penny Schwinn

Penny Schwinn is the most dangerous woman at the DOE.  I saw this firsthand yesterday at the State Board of Education retreat.  I wrote about this extensively last night.  This is a woman who pushed Red Clay and Christina to the breaking point over the priority schools last year.  She is the same person who said that violence in our most impoverished communities “isn’t necessarily a challenge to overcome” with how it affects students in the classroom.  And yesterday, she announced at a public meeting that Delaware is going to implement the most aggressive and difficult accountability plan for schools in the entire country.  And she isn’t willing to back down from this.

I’m sure nobody challenges the fact that our schools have issues in our state.  No state is perfect, and Delaware is no exception.  It’s not like we are the top-ranked state in the country where we can afford to push the bar so high for our students.  We have one of the highest per-student funding mechanisms in the country.  But our students are not advancing.  Not to the level of the DOE’s satisfaction, and certainly not to parents satisfaction either.

The elephant in the room is the test, the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  Everything is tied to this test.  I never hear the DOE or the State Board of Education EVER talk about students actual grades.  You know, the ones given by a teacher three or four times a year.  The ones that show, over a ten-week period, how our students are really doing.  Everything is in relation to the test: student growth, student proficiency, teacher effectiveness, school ratings, etc.  But if there is one thing I have learned in the past two weeks it is this: the Smarter Balanced measures schools based on labels.  In all the graphs released by this blog and Delaware Liberal in the past week, this test measures poverty and economic status.  And that is essentially it.  It recognizes the haves and the have-nots.

Regulation 103, also known as the Delaware School Success Framework, will punish schools severely over once-a-year test scores.  I truly don’t care what Penny Schwinn’s motivation is for all of this.  This is insanity at an epic level and our students will pay the most severe price for her madness.  It is past time our legislators and leaders took a step back and look at the effect all of this is having on education in Delaware.  Far too many citizens are measuring success based on one test.  It is wrong.  It is propaganda.  It is evil.  And it needs to stop.  Delaware parents, I implore you to refuse this test for your child.  It is now an essential and absolute urgency.  You hold in your hands, your voice, the ability to turn this around and get out of this toxic environment our children have been exposed to.  Please end it.  Now.

It Came From The FOIA File! DOE’s TPA Report & How Does Pearson Fit In?

Delaware DOE

No, this isn’t Office Space.  That was a TPS report.  But it sure does feel like the Delaware Department of Education runs just about the same!  Did you ever wonder how the DOE gets all their wonderful knowledge about teachers?  They get it from other corporate education reform companies like Pearson!  This file is from the infamous FOIA that another individual received early last month.  This may shed some light on some things for teachers in Delaware and why the DOE always seems like they are out to get them.  Remember, Pearson had a hand in this!  Chris Ruszkowski, the director of the Teacher Leader Effectiveness Unit at the DOE, must salivate when he gets reports like this.

Rookie State Rep. Lynn’s House Bill 55 Will Please Teachers in Delaware!

Teacher Accountability Ratings

Delaware State Rep. Sean Lynn introduced legislation today to have another year added before Delaware teachers would have the Smarter Balanced Assessment scores be a part of their rated teacher effectiveness.  This current year was already part of last year’s waiver since Smarter Balanced was just rolled out, but this would stop the madness for another year.  I am sure everyone would be happy if it was gone altogether, but this is a good step!

DPAS II Proposal For DE State Board of Education, Prior To Their Vote

DPAS II, Uncategorized

The below e-mail and documents were sent to the Delaware State Board of Education prior to their vote to approve or decline the regulatory changes for DPAS-II.  This highly controversial regulatory change troubled the vast majority of educators in Delaware.  The last document is quite disturbing, as is the e-mail from Chris Ruszkowski to his superiors…

Fri 6/13/2014 12:47 PM

Ruszkowski Christopher

DDOE Deck in support of revisions to Regulations 106A/7A/8A

To  Murphy Mark <>; O’Mara Lindsay <>; McLaughlin Mary Kate <>

cc  Niebrzydowski Eric <>; Young Shana <>; Alleyne Atnre <>; Haberstroh Susan Keene <>


Attached is a deck that we’ve put together for Donna’s internal use as she preps SBOE members for next week’s vote.  Shana did much of the heavy lift here, working with Michelle & Atnre as well to recap the year that was. 

Since the deck is meant for internal usage, it’s not polished in terms of messaging.  But what it does include is:

1) The twenty changes we’ve made to C-V based upon educator feedback

2) The numerous educator engagement meetings we’ve held this year

3) The rating patterns that lead to an overall rating of “Needs Improvement”, as proposed)

4) An awesome slide w/ data on the difference (for students) between being rated NI & HE

5) On overview of the high-level regulatory revisions in all three regs…including how we’re raising the bar for administrators

6) Within the second attachment, all of the revisions to teacher evaluation that got left on the cutting room floor as a result of educator feedback.

Working to get over the finish line next week, and to have us 100% ready to deliver training in July.  Susan has been instrumental in helping us coordinate on the regulatory work.

I’m thinking some version of this could be helpful in other avenues as well–just let us know.  Please don’t use it without giving us another shot at a second coat of paint.

And let us know if you have questions–


From: Young Shana Sent: Thursday, June 12, 2014 10:42 AM To: Johnson Donna R Cc: Ruszkowski Christopher Subject: Deck in support of 106/7/8

Hi Donna,

Attached is a background deck in support of the proposed revisions for 106A, 107A, and 108A. This document is intended for your internal use not for distribution so please let us know if you want a public version. We included and overview of the Department’s track record of engagement, stakeholder outreach, an overview of the proposed revisions, and some analyses of their impact. I hope this is helpful—please let me know if you’d like any other information.



Shana Young

Chief of Staff

Teacher and Leader Effectiveness Unit

Delaware Department of Education

401 Federal Street, Suite #2

Dover, DE 19901-3639

302.531.5243 (M) 

302.735.4131 (T)  302.739.5894 (F)




US DOE Letter To Delaware Governor Jack Markell re: No-Cost Extensions For RTTT Funding

Race To The Top Funding

While Delaware legislators are scratching their heads over the Delaware Department of Education’s need for additional funding in the 2015-2016 budget, find out what the US DOE wants Delaware to spend that money on.  Perhaps this will shed some light on the DE DOE’s request to take funds out of the General Fund…

The Murphy’s Law Of Christmas Presents for the Enemies of Public Education @KilroysDelaware @ed_in_de @RCEAPrez @Apl_Jax @nannyfat @ecpaige @Roof_O @DelawareBats #netde #eduDE #Delaware #edchat



As the leader of the Delaware Department of Education, Secretary of Education Mark Murphy sure was a bad boy this year. I would give him coal, but that’s not fair to the piece of coal. Murphy has shunned educators, participated in Governor Jack Markell’s bullying tactics with the priority schools, and taken all the right steps for Vision Takeover Of All Public Schools and Turn Them Into Charter Schools. In 2015, I think three of Murphy’s money-driven strategies will explode, so Murphy gets this:


When three major things go wrong with a product, it’s called a lemon. With Murphy’s version of education, I am predicting now that Common Core-Smarter Balanced, his Teacher Effectiveness witch hunt, and the Priority Schools initiative will all go the way of the dinosaur. When that happens, Murphy is going to need this, a free visit to Career Builder! Maybe he can find a new job like this:


And I really hope when you look back on your time as the destroyer of all that is good in Delaware education, and how you listened more to the folks at Rodel then the people who put your boss in the big chair, that this next thought messes with your mind more than you messed with educators, students and parents. Presenting, the next Delaware Secretary of Education:


Delaware DOE Contract RFP For DPAS II Evaluation…What Will They Do To Educators Next? @KilroysDelaware @ed_in_de @RCEAPrez @Apl_Jax @nannyfat @ecpaige @Roof_O @DelawareBats #netde #eduDE #edchat #Delaware


The Delaware Department of Education put out a bid contract for a vendor to come in and evaluate the DPAS II system.  This measures the effectiveness of teachers in Delaware.  The DOE and Secretary of Education Mark Murphy were not happy when 99% of educators in Delaware were rated “effective” or “highly effective”.  I do believe this vendor will look to change that.  Very interesting parts of this RFP show ahead of time this vendor is only to look at districts that have been known to be innovative in implementing certain practices.  The deadline had been January 6th, but has been extended until January 20th as per the addendum on the contract bid website:

Delaware educators: read and beware!