It would be my hope that all Delaware schools, be they district or charter, have seen this. I would also hope the Exceptional Children Resources Group, the special education area of the Delaware Department of Education, led by Mary Ann Mieczkowski, circulated this to all our schools. If not, I’ll make sure they get this. And I won’t even charge them! But just in case they haven’t seen this, they may want to read this from top to bottom. Special education is NOT a choice. And you are expected to implement it with fidelity and as per federal law under IDEA. The below document, released by the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services at the United States Department of Education issued guidance about the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision on Endrew F v. Douglas County School District.
This is very big. The United States Department of Education ruled on a Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) complaint in favor of a parent about opting their child out of education technology in the classroom. They went a step further and told the school they had to provide an alternative to the ed-tech as well.
The letter, sent to Agora Cyber Charter School in King of Prussia, PA, came out on November 2nd, 2017 (see below). It ruled the school violated FERPA by denying the parent’s request for their child not to use the ed-tech from K12 Inc. due to their terms of service. K12 could not make sure the information in their application would not go out to third parties. The parent filed a complaint five years ago. The US DOE letter said the charter school could not make this a condition of enrollment for the cyber charter school.
I would caution every single school in America that utilizes ed-tech in the classroom to make sure they are in compliance with this ruling!
The United States Department of Education released their annual state determinations for special education the other day and Delaware obtained a “Meets Requirements” for indicators under IDEA Part B. For IDEA Part C, they were designated as “Needs Assistance”. Part B is for children ages 3 and up to 21, with disabilities, and Part C ranges from birth to 2 years old. I wrote last year how so many of these special education indicators are based on the state assessment: their scores and participation rate play a very heavy roll. I have neither the time or the patience to get into the nitty gritty with these determinations at a granular level. The feds don’t get it and our state doesn’t get it. I have no doubt the Delaware Department of Education will celebrate this and say “look how far we’ve come”. But since so much of this is based on the Smarter Balanced Assessment, I give it about as much legitimacy as a Mona Lisa forgery.
The Delaware Department of Education came out with the special education ratings for all Delaware school districts and charter schools. The information the schools and districts were rated on were based on indicators by the federal Department of Education. This is information the Delaware DOE collects from on-site monitoring of schools as well as performance data, including participation rates from the Smarter Balanced Assessment. The ratings are based on information from the 2014-2015 school year. I don’t necessarily agree with these ratings, especially as it relates to parents opting their children out of the state assessment. I’ve always found that many schools who have higher populations of students with disabilities tend to get the rougher ratings. It is a sure sign we need more funding, staff, resources, and training for special education.
Academia Antonia Alonso
Academy of Dover
Charter School of Wilmington
Early College High School
First State Montessori Academy
MOT Charter School
Newark Charter School
Odyssey Charter School
Polytech School District
Sussex Tech School District
Caesar Rodney School District
Campus Community School
Cape Henlopen School District
Delaware Design-Lab High School
Delaware Military Academy
Delmar School District
East Side Charter School
Freire Charter School
Indian River School District
Las Americas Aspira Academy
Laurel School District
Milford School District
Positive Outcomes Charter School
Providence Creek Academy
Woodbridge School District
Appoquinimink School District
Brandywine School District
Capital School District
Charter School of New Castle (formerly Family Foundations Academy)
Christina School District
Colonial School District
Delaware Academy of Public Safety & Security
Gateway Lab School
Great Oaks Charter School
Kuumba Charter School
Lake Forest School District
New Castle County Vo-Tech
Prestige Academy (closing this year)
Red Clay Consolidated School District
Seaford School District
Smyrna School District
Thomas Edison Charter School
A couple of weeks ago, I posted responses I received from U.S. Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (DE) and U.S. Senator Thomas Carper (DE) concerning the FY2018 U.S. Department of Education budget. Yesterday, I received the following from U.S. Senator Chris Coons (DE).
Well, that didn’t take long. It turns out former Delaware Governor Jack Markell is under investigation. I can’t say I’m surprised given some of his questionable activities concerning education during his term as Delaware Governor of the First State. It’s like I’ve always said, Delaware is the first to sign the constitution but the last to follow it. But what is he under investigation for? Continue reading “Jack Markell Under Investigation By Ed Authorities ***Debunked***April Fool’s Day***”
After more than two years of the Delaware Dept. of Education holding an opt out penalty against Delaware schools, the moment of victory for advocates of opting out of the state standardized test came in a big way last night. Not with a bang, but what appeared to be a conciliatory moment for the Delaware DOE.
At the final meeting of the Governor’s ESSA Advisory Committee last evening, the group met for what appears to be the last time before the DOE submits their Consolidated State Plan to the United States Dept. of Education. The DOE acknowledged they have no idea what to expect in regards to approval of their plan by the feds. Deputy Secretary of Education Karen Field Rogers stated they knew what to expect from the feds under the Obama Administration but under new U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos they are in unchartered territory.
For advocates of opt out, an unexpected but meaningful change to the Delaware School Success Framework, the Delaware accountability system, signaled a clear shift in thinking from the Department. Under the former framework, if a school went below 95% participation rate for the Smarter Balanced Assessment or other state assessments, an opt-out penalty would kick in. Schools could have their final accountability rating lowered if the opt out penalty kicked in.
The opt out penalty saga began over two years ago, under former Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy. At that time, the very controversial House Bill 50 was raging through the Delaware legislature. The bill would have codified a parent’s fundamental and constitutional right to opt their child out of the state assessment. The bill passed in both houses of the General Assembly but the corporate education reform leaning Governor Jack Markell vetoed the bill. Shortly after, the Accountability Framework Working Group recommended not going ahead with the opt out penalty in the framework but were overturned by Markell and the new Delaware Secretary of Education Dr. Steven Godowsky. When Delaware began working on the state plan for the Every Student Succeeds Act, the opt out penalty remained. Even though advocates spoke out against it, many did not predict the Department would remove it. But under Governor Carney and current Delaware Secretary of Education Dr. Susan Bunting, there appears to be a change in thinking.
Field Rogers said the penalty is gone and they will be going with the recommendations from the AFWG, whereby a school must submit a letter to the Department on how they will work to get the participation rate back up to 95%. She did mention that if they see the same schools with high opt out rates a few years in a row that they may seek “interventions” for those schools but nothing was specifically named.
To see the final Delaware ESSA plan, please see below. There might be some tweaks here and there based on the final meeting last night, but for the most part, this is it. I’ve heard quiet rumors concerning the Smarter Balanced Assessment in Delaware. We could see a change in that area but nothing official has been announced. We shall see…
As predicted, the Delaware Dept. of Education is delaying the final sending of their state Every Student Succeeds Plan to the United States Dept. of Education by one month. Last week, the U.S. DOE released the final regulations for the accountability portion of the new federal education law. As a result, they are giving states more time to submit their state plans.
For Delaware, this means the State Board of Education will vote on the final plan at their March, 2017 board meeting. On April 3rd, Delaware will send the plan to the U.S. DOE. This changes many of the public comment periods for the Delaware plan as well. Here is the press release from the Delaware DOE from yesterday:
The U.S. Department of Education has extended its submission deadline for states’ Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plans, allowing Delaware to adjust its plan submission schedule and provide more time for public input and plan development.
Delaware now will submit its final plan on April 3. Other dates leading up to that submission also have been adjusted and are reflected below:
· January 11: Release of second draft of plan
· February 28: Release of final draft of plan
· April 3: Submission of final plan to U.S. Department of Education for approval
The public has several on-going opportunities to provide input on the plan:
· Community conversations: Three of the seven sessions of this second round of public input sessions remain. The next is Thursday night in Newark followed by two sessions for Spanish-speaking community members in Georgetown and Wilmington on December 14 and December 20, respectively. Find more information on these and the previous sessions here.
· Online surveys: Members of the public also may submit their feedback via three online surveys available here. This is the second round of online surveys.
· Discussion groups: Stakeholders are serving on two on-going discussion groups, one focusing on school supports and the second on measures and reporting. These are public meetings, and public comment is available at each session. The next session is tonight. Find more information, including minutes from past meetings here.
· Governor’s ESSA Advisory Committee: Governor Jack Markell’s advisory committee also continues to meeting. These public sessions also include public comment. The next session is Jan. 11.
· Feedback also can be submitted via a designated email address, ESSAStatePlan@doe.k12.de.us.
The United States Department of Education released the final regulations for the Every Student Succeeds Act accountability section of the law. Once again, despite protest by the Republican led Education & The Workforce Committee, the U.S. DOE is leaving many things that ESSA was supposed to get rid of. We still have the damn standardized tests as the measurement of what makes a school failing. We still have the blame game for teachers in the “lowest” 5% of Title I schools. We still have the Feds indicating that state accountability systems must factor participation rate below 95% as part of their scoring matrix. Nothing has changed. Of course, the states can submit their own state standards to the U.S. DOE, but let’s get real- most states already have their standards (Common Core) in place. Common Core and tests like PARCC and the Smarter Balanced Assessment are NOT going anywhere. I don’t care what Donald Trump or Betsy DeVos say.
One thing the U.S. DOE did change was the due dates state ESSA plans. Now they are April 3rd and September 18th. Previously, they had been March 31st or July 31st. The Delaware DOE (with no stakeholder input) chose the March 31st deadline (but said they would submit it on March 6th).
So can we expect more “priority” schools coming out of ESSA?
In schools identified for comprehensive or additional targeted support and improvement, the final regulations require that their improvement plans review resource inequities related to per-pupil expenditures and access to ineffective, out-of-field, or inexperienced teachers; advanced coursework; in elementary schools, full-day kindergarten and preschool programs; and specialized instructional support personnel such as school counselors and social workers—drawing on data already collected and reported under ESSA.
And what about opt-out? Did the U.S. DOE offer any mercy to schools where parents make a constitutional, fundamental, and God-given right to opt their child out of the state assessment? Yeah right!
To provide a fair and accurate picture of school success, and help parents, teachers, school leaders, and state officials understand where students are struggling and how best to support them, the law requires that all students take statewide assessments and that states factor into their accountability systems participation rates below 95 percent for all students or subgroups of students, such as English learners or students with disabilities. The regulations do not prescribe how states do this; rather they suggest possibilities for how states might take into account low participation rates and allow states to propose their own actions that can be differentiated based on the extent of the issue, but are sufficiently rigorous to improve schools’ participation rates in the future. Schools missing 95 percent participation must also develop plans to improve based on their local contexts and stakeholder input.
This is just more of the same but wrapped in a different package. And of course, the National PTA, NEA, AFT and other organizations that should have known better jumped all over this law a year ago. You reap what you sow!
The Delaware Dept. of Education has a very bad habit. They ignore what the people are telling them. This is the case with the 2016-2017 Delaware School Success Framework. Once again, they are incorporating the Smarter Balanced Assessment participation rate as a penalty in the framework. Even though a majority of their stakeholders in the Measures of School Success ESSA Discussion Group said they don’t want this anymore. The final regulations from the U.S. Dept. of Education concerning participation rate have not come out yet but ESSA dictates that it is the decision of the states and local education agencies to determine how they handle opt out. US DOE Secretary of Education John King received a great deal of flack from parents, educators, and citizens with his harsh regulations surrounding accountability. This also drew the attention of members of Congress who felt King was abusing the authority given to him with ESSA. The state does NOT have to have a penalty for participation rate. But the DOE continues to treat ESSA as a penalty-providing opportunity.
The above picture was taken by one of the members of the Measures of School Success ESSA Discussion Group. The discussion groups come up with ideas and thoughts on how to improve schools. For this discussion group, after they have answered all questions, they put three stickers next to their top priorities. Not having opt out as a penalty in the DSSF and having the school report what may have happened received 8 stickers. If I remember this meeting correctly, there were only about half the members in attendance. So for this to get 8 priority stickers, that is huge. But the Delaware DOE ignores this.
Last year, when the Accountability Framework Working Group convened to decide on the final version of the DSSF, they came up with the same idea which was a valid option from the US DOE. It looked like that was going to go through until Governor Markell stuck his nose into it and directed Secretary Godowsky to proceed with the opt out penalty. Even though Markell will end his reign as Governor and is moving onto bigger and better things, like performing in the Nutcracker, the DOE continues his very bad education policy.
Last night, I had an interview with Education Week. They reached out to me due to my role on the Student and School Supports ESSA Discussion Group. I won’t spoil the interview, but there was discussion around what the true role of “stakeholder input” is with Delaware’s ESSA plan. Many feel that we are just placards in the process and the Delaware DOE will do what it damn well pleases. This latest version of the DSSF just reinforces that thought.
Incoming Delaware Governor John Carney: you really need to put the brakes on the DOE Accountability Machine! The DOE needs to listen to their stakeholders more than Rodel!
Napoleon once said, “History is a set of lies agreed upon.” In Delaware, the state has been sharing personal student data in the form of a benign computer program designed on the surface to help students. This is a program that is so layered in varying shades of legality and loophole in state and federal law no person could ever realistically figure it all out. Luckily, I am not one of those people. So what is the Trojan horse inserted into every single school district and charter school in the state? Hint: it’s NOT the Smarter Balanced Assessment! Continue reading “History Is A Set Of Lies Agreed Upon: The Delaware DOE’s Trojan Horse That Shares Personal Student Data”
The Delaware Department of Education released the first draft of the Delaware Every Student Succeeds Act this evening. I have read about 90% of it and I have many thoughts on it. Some I loathe just seeing them in writing, some I actually like, and some need to marinate for a day or two. There are a lot of variables with this: final regulations from the United State Dept. of Education, stakeholder group conversations in the next couple of months, and the usual big one: state funding.
In my opinion, it is going to be very hard to get accurate feedback until the regulations from the U.S. Department of Education have been finalized. Will this plan be a trick or a treat? Happy Halloween! Here is the plan. It begins with Delaware Secretary of Education Dr. Steven Godowsky’s letter, followed by the six sections, and some items from the appendices. I will have much, much more to say on this in the coming days.
And these are the six points:
…the transition to openly licensed educational resources has enabled school districts to reallocate funds typically spent on traditional instructional materials back into teachers curating and creating, as well as supporting a full digital transition.
The beginning of the end. Today, the Delaware Dept. of Education announced Red Clay Consolidated and Colonial School District have joined 27 other states for the “Go Open” initiative. the full-scale ed-tech invasion of public education will begin in two New Castle County school districts. No doubt they announced this the same day as the unveiling of the first draft of the state Every Student Succeeds Act plan. Trick or treat indeed…
Delaware launches open resource initiative
The Delaware Department of Education today announced the launch of a new statewide #GoOpen initiative, joining a cohort of states recognized by the U.S. Department of Education for their commitment to support school districts and educators transitioning to the use of high-quality, openly licensed educational resources in their schools.
“States are powerful collaborators in supporting and scaling innovation. They can connect forward-thinking educators, share effective ideas and approaches widely, amplify successes, and can support districts in leveraging limited resources,” says Joseph South, director of the Office of Educational Technology at the U.S. Department of Education. “With the launch of statewide #GoOpen initiatives, states are helping districts thoughtfully transition to a new model of learning by facilitating the creation of an open ecosystem of digital resources that can increase equity and empower teachers.”
Delaware was recognized for its commitment to implement a statewide technology strategy that includes the use of openly licensed resources as a central component, developing and maintaining a statewide repository solution for openly licensed resources, and participating in a community of practice with other #GoOpen states and districts to share learning and professional development resources. More information on Delaware’s #GoOpen commitment can be found here.
“Openly licensed educational resources will help increase equitable access to high-quality educational opportunities across our state and the country,” Secretary of Education Steve Godowsky said. “We are proud to be part of this work.”
Since the launch of #GoOpen, school districts from more than 27 states have worked with #GoOpen Ambassador districts and innovators from educational technology companies and nonprofit organizations who have committed to create new tools and provide professional learning opportunities to help districts in their transition to using high quality, openly licensed educational resources in their schools.
In Delaware, the Colonial and Red Clay Consolidated school districts have joined.
“It helps empower our teachers to make instructional decisions focused on standards and student needs using current and dynamic resources,” Colonial Director of Schools Pete Leida said. “As #GoOpen continues to grow, educators will have access to increased amounts of resources rather than be confined to static resources presented by a single publisher. It fosters collaboration, sharing, a sense of ownership and allows for personalization of instruction.”
Kristina Peters, K-12 Open Education Fellow at the U.S. Department of Education, said the transition to openly licensed educational resources has enabled school districts to reallocate funds typically spent on traditional instructional materials back into teachers curating and creating, as well as supporting a full digital transition.
“We are excited that Delaware is committed to supporting its districts in using openly licensed educational resources,” she said.
For more details on #GoOpen commitments made by states, school districts, and technology companies, visit http://tech.ed.gov/open.
PIC is the Parent Information Center of Delaware. Subsidized by the Delaware Department of Education, PIC is a federally mandated organization for parents to use as a resource center for special education. Every state is required to have this type of entity under IDEA, the federal special education law. Why is PIC of Delaware advertising Alliance For Excellent Education and “personalized learning”? Personalized learning, if implemented full scale, would diminish the role of special education in schools by giving every single student their own individual education program, otherwise known as an IEP.
As anyone in Delaware who regularly read this blog know, the biggest supporter for personalized learning has been the Rodel Foundation of Delaware. I get very concerned when I see special education groups pushing what Rodel pushes. As I’ve said before, personalized learning in its true context is light years away from the 21st Century push for it. It would turn teacher-led instruction into screen time for students with teachers becoming glorified moderators. This would take place in a competency-based education environment where a student doesn’t move on until they have “mastered” the material. All in a digital classroom with education technology that reaps high rewards for those who invest in them. Without any regard for the psychological and physical health effects on any student, much less those who have disabilities. As anyone who keeps track of progress for students with disabilities can tell you, special education students would be the last ones to “move along” in this type of classroom. Which makes it even more puzzling that PIC would promote this type of education. When I clicked on the link in the Alliance For Excellent Education ad, it brought me to a YouTube video.
Whatever the intentions were for the Every Student Succeeds Act, it was hijacked by corporate education reformers and they are taking full advantage of inserting what they want in every single state. States are working on their ESSA plans this fall and those who wish to profit off education at the expense of student futures are getting louder than ever.
PIC does a lot of good things. They can be a good resource. But I truly wish they would distance themselves from corporate Kool-Aid like this. It is misleading to parents who don’t know any better. There are enough issues with special education in Delaware. We really don’t want or welcome, for those of us who see these kind of education fix it companies as the charlatans they are, these kind of intrusions in our children’s lives.
Alliance For Excellent Education is led by former West Virginia Governor Bob Wise with funding by former Florida Governor Jeb Bush. Wise pushes the “Future Ready Schools” initiative, as detailed in the biography on the All4ed.org website:
Don’t let the fancy talk fool you. Future Ready Schools requires district Superintendents to sign a “Future Ready Pledge”, heavily pushed by the U.S. Department of Education, to turn classrooms into an ed tech wonderland. Five current or former Delaware Superintendents signed this pledge: Dr. Merv Daugherty with Red Clay Consolidated, Dr. Victoria Gehrt with New Castle County Vo-Tech, Alan Lathbury with Sussex Tech, Phyllis Kohel with Milford, and John Ewald with Laurel. I have to wonder if they got the consent of their school boards, teachers, students, parents, and citizens of their districts before they committed themselves to this bogus “pledge”. All you have to do is look at Future Ready’s “partners” to understand what this really is.
Remember when you were a child and someone, at one point in your life, told you “If I told you to jump off the Brooklyn Bridge, would you?” Apparently, far too many of those in charge of school districts take the plunge with no regard for students whatsoever. And it looks like PIC of Delaware is pretty wet already…
Just in case anyone was wondering why “equity” is such a big word these days…
The term is being hijacked by the US DOE and corporate education reformers with the Every Student Succeeds Act…
Everyone is talking about equity these days…
But what it is supposed to mean and what the corporate education reformers want it to mean are two different things…
Equity means those with more needs get more resources…
Equity means charter schools can’t cherry-pick students…
Equity means the people decide what is equitable, not the corporations and foundations…
Equity means recognizing the very same corporations and foundations that created situations that are inequitable now want to talk about equity…
Be very wary of the word equity during Every Student Succeeds Act discussions at a state level…
I have many friends who live and breathe the word equity in its true meaning by they are being lured in like a mouse to a cat…
For those who truly want equity, fight for it, but do not make our children puppets for corporate profit…
True equity can happen now, not in some World’s Fair vision of the smart cities of tomorrow…
Competency-Based Education and Personalized Learning, whether it is flipped, blended, or personalized, is not equity, it is greed…
The ed tech poverty pimps have no more grasp of the word equity than they do education…
Their equity created turnaround schools and high-stakes tests…
Their equity disrespects educators and parents who stand up for their students and children…
Equity does not equal technology profits for those who prophet…
When it comes to children, all lives matter, those who are minority, special education, English Language learners, low-income, poverty, talented & gifted, or the average student, they all deserve equity in its purest form…
To truly understand equity, you need to read every single below link to understand their equity is not the same thing…
Their reach is everywhere. Foundations who say they represent the best interests of children. Who want to fix education so all children can get a shot. Why then, do so many of the children of these philanthropists, politicians, and corporate education reformers, attend private schools? Ones without the invasive education technology and Common Core standards? That alone should tell everyone they are not in it for the kids. For them, it is about the profit. Servant and master. They feel we should bow down to their infinite wisdom and do as they say. The reports from the Department of Labor showing increasing jobs don’t paint the same picture as the doom and gloom coming from the education “prophets”. They talk about gaps between disadvantaged students and their peers while putting forth policy that enforces those gaps, whether it is from standardized tests, “IEPs for All”, the false importance of education technology, or the perception that traditional school district teachers are horrible. They are the incubators of discrimination and segregation. But they fail to understand how their actions contribute to the outside factors our schools should not have to deal with, such as trauma and poverty. With all their vast wealth and power, they don’t spend their money helping to ease these issues. They believe that it is okay to track students into career pathways starting at the first moment they are able to take a test. They don’t care that very personal information goes out to 3rd parties that have no business seeing any information like this. They wrote the Every Student Succeeds Act. They are the ones pushing for more charter schools. They have the US Dept. of Education in their back pocket along with the politicians and groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council and the National Governors’ Association. They have many colleges and universities doing whatever they say. But they are wrong. What they are doing is the best for themselves, not the kids.
Personalized Learning, as a concept, has been around since the 1960’s. In its original form, it was an effort to personalize learning between a teacher and a student. Students don’t always learn at the same pace. The term has been bastardized by corporate education reformers over the past five years. Their idea is to launch a technology boom in the classroom where investors and ed-tech companies will get tons of money. To do this, they had to use education “think-tanks” and foundations to sway the conversation towards this lucrative gold-mine. No one has been a bigger supporter of personalized learning in Delaware than the Rodel Foundation. They began talking about this new and exciting education reform movement as early as November, 2011. A company called Digital Learning Now! released their 2011 report card on different states ability to transform into a digital learning environment and Delaware scored poorly on their report. According to this Rodel article on the report written by Brett Turner (the link to the report card doesn’t exist anymore), Turner wrote:
…the initial results are not promising, demonstrating that we have significant work ahead of us before the necessary policies are in place to ensure our students benefit from high-quality next generation learning opportunities.
Digital Learning Now! was an initiative of the Foundation for Excellence in Education. Other digital “experts” the company thanks in their 2012 report include the Alliance for Excellent Education, the Data Quality Campaign, iNACOL, SETDA, Chiefs for Change, Getting Smart, and the Innosight Institute. The Foundation for Excellence in Education was founded by Jeb Bush in 2008, just as Common Core was in its formation stages. In the Rodel article, Turner talks about how Delaware needs to adapt to this environment so our students can succeed.
Over the next two and a half years, as Race to the Top became more of a nightmare than a promise of better education, Rodel began to take steps to have Delaware become a part of this next big thing. They formed the Rodel Teacher Council to recruit well-intentioned teachers to join their personalized learning dream team. I don’t see these teachers as evil but rather teachers who are easily manipulated and coerced into being connected with the “next big thing”. I see them as unwitting pawns of Rodel.
Rodel didn’t write much about personalized learning too much during this time, but they did release a Personalized Learning 101 flyer in 2013. At the same time, four Delaware districts formed BRINC: Brandywine, Indian River, New Castle County Vo-Tech, and Colonial. Using funds from Race To the Top and a Delaware DOE “innovation grant”, the districts used Schoology and Modern Teacher to usher Delaware into the digital learning age. Rodel’s blog posts about personalized learning didn’t touch on the concept again until February, 2014 when a Rodel employee by the name of Matthew Korobkin began writing posts about digital learning. More followed by other Rodel employees in the coming months. At this time, Dr. Paul Herdman of Rodel was palling around with an ed-tech company called 2Revolutions and went around Delaware talking to groups about the glory of personalized learning.
In the beginning of June in 2014, Rachel Chan with the Rodel Foundation attended a seminar in Washington D.C. on personalized learning sponsored by iNACOL. She wrote about this extensively on the Rodel website.
Later that month, the United States Department of Education released their state reports on special education in America. Delaware received a rating of “needs intervention”, prompting Governor Jack Markell to set aside funding in the state budget for a special education “Strategic Plan”. What no one knew until recently was this plan consisted of hiring Korobkin away from Rodel and into Secretary of Education Mark Murphy’s office to put this plan together.
Later in the summer of 2014, the Delaware Department of Education, with the Rodel Foundation of Delaware, banded together to form a clandestine group of “stakeholders” to look at competency-based education in a personalized learning environment in Delaware. The biggest hurdle in getting this going in Delaware was the barriers in the state code. Their were many players in this non-public group, including members of the Rodel Teacher Council who were also working on a “Personalized Learning Blueprint” at the same time. This group shaped the future of education in Delaware. But they used people to do so, including some of the members of this group.
The timing for this group couldn’t have come at a better time. There were many distractions happening that allowed them to fly under the radar with no one the wiser. Invitations were sent out to select participants from Theresa Bennett at the Delaware DOE. She was an Education Specialist for English/Language Arts in the Curriculum, Instruction and Professional Development area of the DOE. She was the person who scheduled all the meetings. An introductory webinar, sponsored by Achieve Inc., was held on August 14th, 2014.
After an explanation of competency-based education and personalized learning from some folks at Achieve Inc., they opened the webinar up for questions. At the 30:07 mark on the video, Appoquinimink Superintendent Matt Burrows explained his district already began the process for personalized learning. He mentioned several hurdles, especially the teachers’ union. Next came Judi Coffield, the former Head of School at Early College High School, a charter school run through Delaware State University. Coffield asked how Carniege units and high school grades would come into play with this. Bennett explained what role the DOE played in this and how she and Rachel Chan from the Rodel Foundation were going to run the group. Bennett went on to explain that select allies were invited to participate in this group. She also talked about a meeting with Achieve Inc. in Washington D.C. in May of 2014 to pave a path forward.
Bennett did a roll call of who was participating in the webinar. Jose Aviles, the director of admissions at the University of Delaware, was not on the call. Bennett explains how Aviles accompanied her to the Achieve Inc. meeting. “Is there a representative from Delaware PTA on the call?” No response. “Is Donna Johnson on the call?” Silence. “Kim Joyce from Del-Tech?” Nothing. “Pat Michle from Developmental Disabilities Council?” Empty air. She added Laurie Rowe and Stanley Spoor with Howard High School of Technology would be joining them. Susan Haberstroh with the Delaware DOE joined later in the Webinar.
Rodel and Markell knew they needed to stage a distraction to further this personalized learning agenda away from prying eyes while at the same time steering the conversation towards their end goals by using the distraction. They knew one of these distractions would automatically happen based on federal mandates from the US DOE, but the other would need careful planning and coördination. The first drove the need for the second.
A few weeks later, Governor Markell and then Secretary of Education Mark Murphy announced the six priority schools in Wilmington. The DOE picked the six “lowest-performing” schools in Wilmington, DE and announced the two school districts involved, Red Clay and Christina, would have to sign a “memorandum of understanding” and submit to the demands of the Delaware DOE. This put the entire city into an educational tailspin. Teachers in the affected schools felt outrage at the Governor and the DOE. Parents didn’t know what this meant. Politicians scrambled to make sense of it all as primaries and general elections faced them while constituents furiously called them. Teachers in Delaware were still reeling from the upcoming Smarter Balanced Assessment and the scores tied into their evaluations. Meanwhile, the secret meetings of the Delaware Department of Education Competency-Based Learning Guiding Coalition began without any public notice as an email went out from Bennett…
Thank you for your interest in the Competency-Based Learning Guiding Coalition. If you were unable to attend the informational webinar, please use this link to access the recording: http://www.achieve.org/DelawareCBLwebinar
The Guiding Coalition will be charged with laying the foundation for competency-based learning in Delaware. This will include creating a working definition of competency-based learning and what it could look like in Delaware, understanding current barriers to implementing CBL in Delaware, and establishing support for CBL initiatives to take root in the state. Once we have a common understanding of CBL, we will surface key ideas and develop recommended strategies for helping CBL take shape in the state.
The time commitment for the Advisory Group of the Guiding Coalition will be attending approximately two or three 2-hour meetings during the coming school year, with 30-60 minutes of pre-work for each meeting. There will also be opportunities to engage further through optional readings, school visits, webinars, and other convenings if your schedule/level of interest allows.
We are excited to share that an expert facilitator will be guiding each of our meetings; we would like to collect information to inform our meeting agendas. Please complete the following survey by September 10th: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/DECompetency-BasedLearning.
Please complete a Doodle to help us best schedule the meetings for this group. We hope to begin late September/early October, with meetings held in Dover. Responses to the Doodle poll will help us find the best day/time for the first meeting. Please use this link: http://doodle.com/mts6ncf74v77mnf
Education Associate, ELA
Curriculum, Instruction, and Professional Development
Delaware Department of Education
401 Federal Street, Suite #2
Dover, DE 19901-3639
Coming up in Part 2: Delaware gets Marzanoed
The Chair of the House Education and the Workforce Committee just issued a press release on the regulations for the Every Student Succeeds Act. He blasted U.S. Secretary of Education John King and said he needs to be stopped! We can all agree on this one Rep. Kline! But here’s the deal: these proposed regulations have been out since the end of May. It is now the last day of August. Coming out with press releases is good, but you need to have the entire Congress get together for an immediate hearing and strip King of his power.
|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE||CONTACT: Press Office|
|August 31, 2016||(202) 226-9440|
|WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. John Kline (R-MN), chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, issued the following statement today regarding the Department of Education’s unprecedented and unlawful “supplement, not supplant” regulatory proposal:The Department of Education is threatening to unilaterally impose a multi-billion dollar regulatory tax on our nation’s schools. This punitive policy will unleash havoc on schools and their students at a time when education leaders should be focused on helping children succeed in the classroom. America’s poorest neighborhoods will be hit the hardest as communities are forced to relocate teachers, raise taxes, or both. Any supposed “flexibility” is really a limited set of bad choices dictated by the secretary of education. This is not at all what Congress intended, and those who helped enact this law cannot honestly believe differently.
What the secretary is proposing is unprecedented and unlawful. The only way to make this right is to scrap this convoluted regulatory scheme immediately. Members of Congress came together to pass bipartisan reforms that are designed to help every child receive an excellent education, and we will not allow this administration to undermine these reforms with its own extreme, partisan agenda.
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If Washington D.C. is the capital of America, than Delaware is the capital of corporate education reform.
Over the past week, many of us who are resisting the privatization of public education have been talking about The Ledger. Peter Greene broke the news for the world to see, which Diane Ravitch quickly picked up on. What is “The Ledger”? Continue reading “Jack Markell, Blockchain, Coding Schools, Rodel, BRINC, Pathways To Prosperity, Registered Agents… Delaware’s Role In “The Ledger””