In the world of education, someone is always willing to make a buck. In the Christina School District, Hanover Research is the latest vendor to say cha-ching when the district gets an idea.
On Thursday, the district released a press release announcing they are looking into changing the start time for their schools. In Delaware, Superintendents and district administrators get paid a ton of money. Why are we paying outside vendors to do the work they should obviously be doing themselves? It is just cash in the trash! This is a district facing mold issues and a charter school lawsuit on top of dwindling funds and resources. Their board passed a resolution for the district to look at this topic, but that doesn’t translate to pay someone else to do it. We all know their vendor is going to do the same thing anyone else could do: a Google search. And then they will come up with a very pretty report. I know Acting Superintendent Bob Andrzejewski has his eye on the Delaware Secretary of Education slot, but is this the kind of continuing crap we could expect from his “ascendancy”: more meaningless contracts and vendors? Here is the press release:
Christina Explores Changing School Start Times Impact of early/late start times on student learning will be considered
Wilmington, DE – The Christina School District is exploring the issue of school start times and their impact on student learning, with a goal of determining if changing start times in its secondary schools could increase student achievement. The main focus is on middle and high school students and the impact of early morning start times on adolescents’ learning. The Christina Board of Education passed a resolution in May calling for the Superintendent to identify and provide a list of practices in school systems that start middle and/or high school after 8:00 a.m. Christina middle and high school students currently start school at 7:05 a.m.
The District will be working with research firm Hanover Research to determine how school districts who have adjusted their start times have dealt with issues such as communication, scheduling, transportation, sports, and after-school activities. The District is also engaging staff, parents, students, and the community through an online survey asking for feedback on how school start times may affect student success.
I have seen some really crazy requests for proposals coming out of the Delaware Department of Education, but this one takes the cake! This latest RFP is a multi-vendor solicitation for nine different areas of education. I would almost say it looks like vendors will completely take over the Department of Education looking at this! While that probably isn’t the case, I have often wondered why I can’t find contracts for certain vendors at the Delaware DOE. My guess is these kinds of multi-purpose vendor bids have gone out before. Which is why I have never seen a DOE contract with the Rodel Foundation or the Vision Network.
But this is huge. Are they preparing for the Every Student Succeeds Act? While the law is meant to limit federal interference in how states carry out the law, it certainly looks like it is a cash cow for corporations to come in at lightning speed before the ink is dry on the regulations. Maybe if the Delaware DOE hired more educators, they wouldn’t need all these so-called “experts” in education. Delaware education has not gotten any better with all these cash in the trash consultants and vendors.
Our General Assembly needs to get control of the DOE. They are destroying what is good about education for our children, one day at a time. Piece by piece, bit by bit. And the transparency around their actions seems to be getting murkier by the week. But make no mistake, the entire DOE is led by one man: Jack Markell. He is behind every single decision that goes on there. He is so invested, politically and personally, in corporate education reform that he is unable to tell the difference between reality and wishful thinking. He is beyond being able to reason with. He lives and breathes education, but from a corporate perspective, not an educator one.
There is far too much going on at the Delaware DOE these days. Between ESSA meetings that I have no doubt have predetermined outcomes already in the works, their Special Education Strategic Plan (which I will have more to say about soon with the Paul Herdman selected guy running this), the charter-district funding fight, the charter school performance frameworks, Teacher-Leader pilots with very questionable transparency, getting ESEA flex waivers without clearly stating what they were applying for and not having the advisory committee required by law to go along with that, ongoing concerns about the upcoming Social Studies and Science state assessments, their complete and total pimping of the Pathways to Prosperity program, their inability to understand and listen to true stakeholder input, allowing Rodel to influence their every move, and willful defiance of the will and intent of the Delaware General Assembly.
This contract confirms my worst fears about this Department. They spend hundreds of millions of dollars every year in contracts to vendors. Money that should go into classrooms. Money that should keep classroom sizes down. Money that give basic special education to students in Kindergarten to 3rd grade. Money that should give more resources to low-income and poverty-stricken children. Money that should go to school improvements and Capital funding. Instead they are giving it away to companies.
Last night at the Christina Board of Education meeting, it was announced the district would not rehire librarians laid off after the two failed referenda attempts last year. The district passed the third referendum attempt on March 23rd, and one of the promises made was the district would restore positions cut as a result of the budget cuts last year. Included in that was school librarians. While there is no specific mention of librarian positions on the actual Christina website, it does appear on the CSD Paving the Way website which was run by the steering committee for the referendum.
Even the Newark Post had an article in February where Glasgow High School principal Dean Ivory quoted:
Glasgow was one of many secondary schools that lost their librarians and though classroom teachers can still sign up to take their classes to the library, it’s not the same, Ivory said. A teacher in the school’s PATH program, whose class meets in the library, has taken on the extra responsibility of coordinating these class sign-ups, he added. If this year’s referendum does pass and schools can start adding staff again, Ivory said the librarian is one of the first positions he’d bring back. “That was a very painful cut,” he said. “But if it comes down to it, do you want to lose a math teacher or a librarian?”
So much for keeping their word! So where will the funds promised to librarians go to now? I gave First State Liberty a very hard time for how they handled the last referendum. But it looks like I should have been putting some pressure on the district as well. This news is very disappointing to say the least. What purpose does it serve to betray not only the librarians that were cut last year, but also the taxpayers in your district? This is why the referendum process needs to go. It has become like a Presidential election: all sorts of campaign promises that never happen. Social media comments regarding this broken promise are not being kind to the district. Shame on Superintendent Robert Andrzejewski for making promises he had no intention of keeping.
The district has already been under the microscope for immediately hiring outside vendors immediately following the referendum, including Demosophia which is helping the district to create a Strategic Plan in regards to their behavior and climate. Some felt hiring a former Title I administrator from the district as an outside consultant was a bit too much.
The Delaware Department of Education is a cash-cow bonanza for education reform companies! Delaware Online Checkbook came out with the July 2015 numbers on the 15th, and the Delaware Department of Education looks like they don’t have any controls on their spending. All told, they spent $13,103,296.36 for the month of July. This is not unusual, but it’s WHAT they are spending the money on. A lot of these are standard services, food for schools, salaries, operational costs and so on. But the amounts they are spending on outside consultants and vendors is very high. I went through, one by one, and looked into each company. Some of them I was unable to figure out what kind of service they could be providing for the DOE. The first figure is the amount DOE sent payment to in July 2015. Then I went through and figured out how much the DOE spent with these companies and consultants over the past five fiscal years, from 2011-2015. Delaware Online Checkbook only goes back to 2011, so the amounts could be higher in some cases…
Achievement Network Ltd. (helps schools “boost” student learning): $17,500, previous five fiscal years (hard to tell, many companies with words “achieve” in them, mostly providing “material” to school districts): $0.00
American Institutes for Research (assessment vendor for Smarter Balanced Assessment, was also vendor for DCAS): $1,933,989, previous five years: $36,652,681.87, it is hard to say what the budgeted amount is for the contracts with this “non-profit” because the DOE doesn’t list the awarded contracts anywhere!
Amplify Education Inc. (previously Wireless Generation Inc., built data longitudinal system for DOE, provides “education material” aka Common Core for DE schools): $60,115.00, previous five fiscal years (including Wireless Generation): $10,461,101.00, as contracted vendor w/DOE under Amplify from 9/25/14-6/30/15: $725,980.00, actual money spent: $1,947,733.00, money spent over agreed-upon contract amount: $1,221,753.00
Department of Education (Indirect Cost, DOE claimed to the Joint Finance Committee and the General Assembly these are salary costs stemming from Race To The Top): $55,322.41, previous five fiscal years: $1,069,287.66
Derek J. Nino (Consultant w/Relay Graduate School): $9,940.00, previous five fiscal years: $0.00
Double Line Inc. (education data management): $30,126.75, previous five fiscal years: $88.042.25
Education First Consulting (just another corporate education reform company to help “fix” education): $12,000, previous five fiscal years: $349,423.45
ESP Solutions Group (another education data company): $15,830, previous five fiscal years: $2,395,932.50
iAssessment (help clients develop iPad programs for students): $49,999.00, previous five fiscal years: $229,771.30
KSA Plus Communications Inc. (an “improving schools” communication company): $16,105.00, previous five fiscal years: $52,261.00
Marshall Consulting Company (not sure, many companies w/same name): $8,000.00, previous five fiscal years: $0.00
MBO Partners (a consultant “head-hunter” company): $7,500.00, previous five fiscal years: $0.00
MH Miles Company CPA PC (do accounting and consulting services): $16,700.00, previous five fiscal years: $229,150.00
Middlebury Interactive Languages (digital language learning company): $26,146.00, previous five fiscal years: $646,406.50
Myriam Met (consultant for foreign languages): $14,000.00, previous five fiscal years: $51,900.00
National Louis University (offers services for “reaching students” and “strengthening teachers”, contract w/DOE for “early learning” online professional development for educators): $7,700.08, previous five fiscal years: $656,630.59, contracted amount through 12/15: $714,978.10
NCS Pearson Inc. (yes, it is THAT Pearson): $19,000.00, previous five fiscal years for DOE: $3,648,335.65, for all of Delaware: $8,057,105.63
New Teacher Center (another making great students by “accelerating the effectiveness of new teachers and leaders” company): $29,962.00, previous five fiscal years: $158,425.00
Nicole Klues (a “blended learning” or “personalized learning” consultant): $9,000.00, previous five fiscal years: $34,500.00
Partnership To Advance Learning (a Microsoft “partnership” w/Lamar University, more digital language stuff): $26,000.00, previous five fiscal years: $48,000.00
Piper Riddle (independent consultant to help teachers with Common Core): $4,080.00, previous five fiscal years: $0.00
Rand Corporation (contractor for Delaware STARS program): $52,000.00, previous five fiscal years: $1,535,681.58, contracted amount until 12/15: $1,900,000.00
Research In Action Inc. (contractor for DPAS-II evaluation): $6,402.45, previous five fiscal years: $1,712,902.44
Richard Colvin (contractor for Delaware DOE communications strategies): $18,240.00, previous five fiscal years (2015 only): $136,880.00
Rodel Charitable Foundation-DE (no contract w/them right now): $133,000.00, previous five fiscal years: $387,454.60
Ronald Berry (recruitment manager for DE Talent Cooperative): $14,000.00, previous five fiscal years: $57,540.00
Schoology Inc. (“learning management” system, currently in many DE schools): $264,588.48, previous five fiscal years: $0.00 (many school districts use them)
Teach For America (fast-track teacher prep program): $3,634.92, previous five fiscal years: $799,389.85
Teaching Strategies LLC (early childhood “support for active learning”): $112,508.00, previous five fiscal years: $677,662.29
The Hanover Research Council LLC (does consultancy work regarding grants): $33,000.00, previous five fiscal years: $30,000.00
The New Teacher Project Inc. (another “great” teacher training company): $20,000.00, past five fiscal years: $465,646.65
Thomas Sauer (consultant on World Language Immersion for DOE): $6,000.00, past five fiscal years: $16,000.00
U.S. Education Delivery Institute (Dr. Gray on DE State Board of Education sits on the board of this company that helps education leaders work “smarter”): $30,293.25, past five fiscal years: $290,342.00
University of Delaware (not sure what the exact nature of work is, DOE has numerous projects going on with them): $545,081.01, not doing previous years because it is next to impossible to get this one right.
University of Wisconsin-Madison (this one was a bit tricky, but the consultant is actually a company called Education Analytics, usual education reform company who will “help”): $110,492.00, past five fiscal years including Education Analytics: $1,004,462.00
If you add up all the funds spent for these companies, consultants, and “non-profits”, the grand total just for July 2015 is $3,195,999.34. What I find very interesting is the amounts going to iAssessment. The DOE has no contract with this company, but the threshold for contract requirements is $50,000 in a fiscal year. For the past two years, the DOE has spent exactly $49,999.00 in each year to avoid having to sign a contract. And what has Rodel been doing for the DOE that would warrant a $133,000.00 check going out to them? I haven’t seen ANY contract with them. As money pours out of the DOE like a leaking pipe, with NO accountability or controls in place, how can the DOE judge school districts and charters on their own spending when they can’t even control themselves?
One thing is for sure, the DOE will certainly be focusing on the “World Immersion” program and personalized learning in the future. They are spending a large portion of funds on consultants to get more information on this. Why don’t they just use Google like I do to get information? It’s free and it’s probably more reliable!
Even more curious is the fact that NO funds have gone out to Data Recognition Corporation, ever! This is the scoring vendor for the Smarter Balanced Assessment. At the Delaware PTA Kent County Parent Town Hall on opt-out, a representative from the Delaware State Board of Education specifically said this was the vendor for scoring the Smarter Balanced Assessment. We know the DOE has the results, and testing ended for some schools in March/early April, so why aren’t we paying this company? Or is it rolled into the contract with American Institutes for Research? The DOE actually confirmed this company is the hand scorer in this link:
There are many other companies and consultants the DOE works with. This is just a snapshot of one month’s spending by the runaway train called DOE money. Will the legislators start to reign them in? They need to because when school districts such as Christina are literally starving for funds and the DOE drops $3 million in one month for a lot of unnecessary spending, we have to wonder what this is all for.
Delaware Governor Jack Markell has painted himself into a corner, and his escape latch is disappearing by the day. In an article in EdWeek and also the Governor’s blog on his own website, Markell went to town on school vouchers while opposing opt-out, cherry-picking what schools kids should go to, and glorifying standardized testing. I am against whole-sale school voucher programs, but sometimes there is NO choice.
With the next presidential campaign getting under way, pundits have quickly focused more on the horse race than on where the candidates stand on important issues like improving public education.
Are you promoting anyone in particular here Jack? Someone who is very outspoken on education reform matters that you happen to agree with?
One area that deserves far more attention is the array of proposals to divert public spending on education into private school vouchers or “education savings accounts” that can be used for private and parochial schools, home schooling, and other programs that aren’t part of the public education system.
These other parts of the public education system, would they happen to include charters, magnets and vo-cational schools?
These policies, already enacted in several states and proposed in several more, are a reminder that privatization is not a ready-made solution for every government problem.
Because it would counteract the policies you have set in place in Delaware…
Here’s why these programs don’t produce results for our students.
Neither do yours…
Everyone agrees that solid academics are the foundation for career and college readiness. Yet, according to a review by the Center on Education Policy, numerous studies have concluded that vouchers, the prime example of privatization, “don’t have a strong effect on students’ academic achievement.” If voucher programs are motivated by a desire to improve educational outcomes for our young people, and not simply to divert public spending to private education, then their unsettled and uneven history does not support continuing them.
Is Markell actually backing away from calling this Common Core, or state standards? Wow. Now he’s calling it “solid academics”. Let’s pull out a report from the Center on Education Policy, a very ed reformy group. Say, isn’t Senator Sokola on their steering committee? If vouchers steer public funding to private education, what do you call your seven year policies which have steered public school funding to private companies? You can’t have your cake and eat it too.
Compounding this problem is that the private and parochial schools that receive tax dollars are, in many cases, not accountable for providing a quality education to young people, particularly those most at risk of falling behind.
They also aren’t required to provide YOUR education to students, which is why parents are desiring them more and more. And let’s bring out the “those most at risk” card again… you will play this for anything, any topic you don’t agree with.
In the public school system, states are required to establish baseline expectations of accountability through standards and testing. Although hardly beloved, standardized-test scores are the most effective method we have to identify which students need our help, which is why civil rights groups like the American Civil Liberties Union and the United Negro College Fund have been among the most vocal advocates for statewide assessments. They know it is most often poor, minority students—those who most need our help—who most often don’t receive the education they need. When we don’t provide a valid way to measure students’ achievement and hold educators and schools accountable for their academic growth, those students are too easily forgotten.
We are still waiting on the valid way for Delaware to measure students’ true achievement Governor. But you use your corporate funded measures to label and punish schools that house those students so you can move them over to charters. Let’s see, I’m thinking of a pot and a kettle…
Children in home, parochial, and private schools aren’t required to take state assessments. State officials can’t track these students’ growth to make sure they don’t fall behind. Private school teachers and home-schooling parents aren’t required to teach to the state’s educational standards; and they don’t have to be rigorously licensed or certified like public school educators.
Which is exactly why private schools are appealing to so many parents these days. The fact is, many parents can’t afford them, so the very idea of a voucher system is very appealing. You stepped into your own bear trap here Markell…
Voucher systems also divert millions of taxpayer dollars out of our public schools. While we should respect and encourage parental engagement and choice of schools—including private, parochial, and home schools—for their children, it is not acceptable to divert limited public education funding at the cost of the public schools that serve our communities.
At the risk of repeating myself, but it’s okay to divert limited public education funding to companies, non-profits and state vendors and fatten up our own Department of Education? You reap what you sow Jack…
Public funding for these voucher programs also presents significant policy issues because so many schools affected include a religious component in their curriculum. In general, the government should not be in the business of funding programs or institutions that promote one religion over all others.
They also shouldn’t be in the business of promoting one type of public school over another, or just one curriculum, but we know that’s happening all over the country. Education has become big business for the government. This is pure hypocrisy. You’re just bitching cause the money isn’t flowing to the “right” places…
But being against vouchers for these reasons isn’t enough. Political leaders have a responsibility to articulate a clear vision for what an improved public school system looks like.
Delaware parents are about to keel over and die cause they have been holding their breath for seven years waiting to see a “clear vision” of an improved public school system.
That means using parent choice among traditional, charter, and magnet schools to foster innovative instruction, and hold public schools accountable for giving students the best opportunities possible.
And here we have it, the Governor Markell legacy: Get kids out of traditional public schools by punishing those schools and send the students to “specialty” schools for free. But doesn’t that go against the whole “common standards” ruse? The standards must be the same, but the way they teach them can be different?
It means demanding more rigorous college and career standards like the common core.
The mantra of the corporate education reform movement. If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard this the past year, I could afford to send every kid in the state to a private school to get away from this ideology.
It means providing better support for our teachers, including training them to use data about student achievement effectively, and evaluating them appropriately.
Which they won’t get until the kids go on to the next grade and they will use data from a previous teacher’s teaching style to mold their own. But we can evaluate teachers based on another teacher. This is a program with the sole design of pushing union teachers out of education, lowering the pension funds, and getting teachers cheaper. Call it what it is Jack..
It means more dual-enrollment and Advanced Placement courses to challenge students and reduce the cost of college.
And more high school classes exclusively set up to teach to the SAT which will become aligned to the “solid foundation” you spoke of earlier, which will then determine which colleges and courses students choose. Big brother isn’t just watching us, he’s controlling students every move…
It means investing in high-quality early-childhood programs so all kids enter kindergarten ready to learn.
More taxpayer money flowing into the hands of all-too-eager companies to get kids college and career ready while also learning to tie their own shoes….
And it means recognizing that too many of our students arrive at school hungry and from traumatic family situations. Serving these children effectively requires different types of training and community resources.
But you fail to recognize that children from these environments do NOT perform the same as their peers, but you expect them to so you can (rinse, wash, repeat): standardize these students through God-awful tests, punish teachers, convert to charter, pay companies…
I agree with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush that policymakers should be “more daring” when it comes to education policy. But that must mean pushing the public school system to improve, not following the suggestions of a number of candidates for president and state lawmakers who would use taxpayer money on unaccountable programs that ultimately cut funding from public schools.
So is the Democrat Governor Jack Markell endorsing a Republican Presidential candidate? Why oh why would he do that? What could he ever hope to gain? (See Arne Duncan). But if Hilary wins, could he gain from that? (See Arne Duncan).
Governor Markell must feel the walls closing in around him. While doing the same to the public school system, he has put himself into such a small box that he is growing desperate. He will attack anything that goes against his beliefs and agendas that make a ton of money for his corporate buddies. But what he doesn’t realize is a very special kind of voucher system he has actually created.
By pushing the Common Core state standards down students throats and forcing teachers to teach to an invalid test, special education students are suffering immensely. To the point where schools and teachers are so afraid of being punished they don’t even know how to implement IEPs for those standards. Behavior issues are rising, and schools don’t have the time to filter through tem to see if they are a manifestation of the disability or true behavior issues. As a result, schools are getting sued left and right by special education attorneys. Those funds go into an educational trust for the students. Which often go into, you guessed it, private schools or homeschooling. Governor Markell created his own monster here by allowing the special education compensatory damage voucher program to thrive and flourish. This is a program no parent wants but so many are forced into it. Chew on that revelation for a little while Jack…
The following is a list of ALL the current Delaware Department of Education contracts, when they began and when the contract ends. I have also included if it is a Delaware company, if the contract can be extended, and anything odd about it. A few of these are just random contracts, but some contain some very interesting information. Our state DOE is paying tons of money to outside vendors that are simply data coaches. With Race to the Top kaput, how much money can the state keep handing out to these organizations? Some of these companies are very new, as in created in the last five years.
DOE12013-RecruitWeb Statewide Recruitment Website Talent Management Portal 8312 DOE 4/26/2013 10/21/2017, Awarded Vendor: SearchSoft Solutions, Inc. Contract: http://bidcondocs.delaware.gov/DOE/DOE_12013-Recruit_AN.pdf ***updated: IS on DE Online Checkbook, must have been a quirk, nothing showing for FY 2015 as of yet***
DOE13001-DPAS-II Technology-based Educator Evaluation Management System (DPAS-II) 8111 DOE 5/6/2013 7/15/2015, Awarded Vendor: BloomBoard, Contract: http://bidcondocs.delaware.gov/DOE/DOE_13001-DPAS_AN.pdf ***one of the owners, Jason Lange, worked for New Schools Venture Fund, an education focused non-profit venture philanthropy firm***
DOE1310-COMPENSATI Compensation, Retention and Education Awards (CORE) 8010 DOE 5/1/2013 12/31/2015, Awarded Vendor: Delaware Association For The Education Of Young Children, Contract: http://bidcondocs.delaware.gov/DOE/DOE_1310-COMPENSATI_AN.pdf Delaware Company ***on website for DAEYC when you go to Board of Directors it is password protected but other online sources do show who they are***
DOE1416-PAT RFP Parents As Teachers 8613 DOE 7/1/2014 6/30/2017, Awarded Vendors: Christina School District- Parent Early Education Center AND Lake Forest School- Delaware Early Childhood Center, Contract: http://bidcondocs.delaware.gov/DOE/DOE_1416-PAT_AN.pdf Both Delaware Companies, Extension Available
DOE1409 ARTC Prep Alternative Route To Teacher Certification Coursework/Clinical Prep. Program 8610 DOE 9/19/2014 8/1/2017, Awarded Vendor: Relay Graduate School of Education, Contract: http://bidcondocs.delaware.gov/DOE/DOE_1409-ARTCPrep_AN.pdf ***wrote about this fast-track teacher program in Race To The Top/Rodel/Markell article***