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

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

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

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

vision6

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

ri6

Let’s play the comparison game:

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

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

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

VISION COALITION STUDENT SUCCESS 2025

RHODE ISLAND STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION STRATEGIC PLAN FOR PUBLIC EDUCATION

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The DOE Makes It So Easy…Why Do They Do This?

Last week, I wrote about the Race To The Top report the US DOE came out with.  I saw Delaware’s ridiculously high graduation rates compared to all the other original Race To The Top states and I just laughed.  Turns out the Delaware Department of Education was all set to boast of this and did it in record time!  I have to redline this joke of a press release.  It is begging me to do it.  They do this all the time, and I have to wonder if anyone really cares or listens anymore about what they say.  It’s so full of their flawed methodology it’s sickening…

Delaware leads RTTT states in college enrollment gains

Delaware’s work to increase its college enrollment rates was highlighted in a U.S. Department of Education report released today looking at the progress made by states under the federal Race to the Top grant.

Say, didn’t Avi over at Newsworks dispute your drop-out claims which you openly admitted?  It stands to reason your graduation rates would be affected by that as well!  And didn’t you use to not let kids graduate if they did bad on the DSTP?  The pre-Smarter Balanced test that everyone hated?

Delaware was cited as having made the greatest gains (10.7 percent) in college enrollment. Tennessee was second at 3.3 percent.

Well la de da!  And what does that mean exactly?  Does it mean more students are taking all those remedial classes in college you like to talk about so much?  But hey, let’s have our colleges and universities make major decisions based on Smarter Balanced!  Cause that’s going to work out so well!

Race to the Top also provided Delaware students with more opportunities for Advanced Placement and pre-AP courses. The report highlights how Delaware has supported educators through more direct AP training and given districts/charters increased access to virtual courses. This has resulted in student enrollment in AP courses increasing by 9.2 percent in Delaware since 2011. In the same period, the number of AP exam scores of 3 or higher (on a 5-point scale) has increased 22.2 percent.

Too bad a score of 3 isn’t accepted by Delaware’s colleges.  Too bad the bulk of students score a three.  That is $90 per course out the window.  Be proud DOE, be proud…

In other areas of the report, First State educators were called out for their collaboration during professional learning communities as well as their school team approach to professional learning as part of the state’s Common Ground for the Common Core.

Is there still a teacher’s lounge in every school where teachers sit during lunch, relax, and talk to each other?  That is true collaboration!  Teachers complain about all the time they don’t have in school.  And you actually said the words Common Core instead of the “standards”.  You haven’t been watching other states.  Those words have become toxic…

“Delaware teachers in every school met weekly for 90 minutes in professional learning communities to analyze student work and reflect on ways to modify instruction to bridge gaps identified in student learning,” the report said.

I’ll bet that was so much fun for all these teachers.  You make it sound like it was a party.  You forced teachers to do this and most of them can’t stand you for it.

The report also praised the state for listening to educators and adjusting supports to meet their needs: “Delaware and Tennessee had initially planned to conduct large-scale training sessions to help teachers transition to new standards. However, after soliciting feedback from teachers, they changed their plans and brought school teams together for action planning and used the talents of their own excellent teachers, rather than outside consultants, to provide training.”

So why did the Vision Coalition get paid so much Race To The Top money?  What essential need did they provide teachers that teachers could have done themselves?  Rodel IS an outside consultant DOE, get it through your thick head!

Delaware also was commended for relying on groups of teachers and leaders to provide ongoing input on new approaches or strategies to improve evaluation practices. For example, the state engaged 600 teachers to develop more than 200 assessment “tool kits” that provided rigorous and comparable measures of growth in student learning for non-tested grades and subjects.

More of the teacher cabal over at Rodel/Vision.  And don’t our Delaware teachers just love DPAS-II?  Please…you disgrace every teacher in this state with this nonsense…

And the U.S. Department of Education lauded Delaware for using RTTT to provide educators with an improved and more comprehensive data system as well as for using this customized data system to help support and manage program implementation at the district level. The digital systems that Delaware developed also made it easier to report and summarize student outcomes.

I’ll bet it did!  And where is all that data going DOE?  I know, I know, “we can’t send out personal data”.  Unless it is for the furthering of education and the fix-its we all know companies love to tell us we need but they never actually fix anything.  As State Rep. Sean Matthews brilliantly said, it is “cash in the trash”.

US DOE Race To The Top Report Released Today Is A Summary Of Lies And Reform Propoganda

I read this report released today by the US DOE, called Fundamental Change: Innovation in America’s Schools Under Race to the Top and found it to be laughable at best.  I’ll start off with the biggest and boldest first:

Race to the Top used transparency to advance knowledge about improving education and allow states to learn from each other.

What was not transparent was how schools, districts, teachers, parents and students were hoodwinked into believing this lie.  The caveat behind this Federal mandate disguised as a financial incentive was requirements to engage with outside companies with this money.

State work under the grants ended in summer 2015…

For Delaware, this part is completely false since the DOE and Governor Markell used parts of the state General Fund to keep Race To The Top created positions at the DOE.  This is hysterical, because the work continues.  They may not be getting federal funds anymore, but most states are using what they did from Race To The Top at all levels and implementing changes designed not to truly help students but to give their bloated Department of Education employees and leaders high salaries while contracting all their work to outside vendors.

State education agencies (SEAs) as drivers of change. SEAs moved beyond their traditional role of monitoring district compliance to driving comprehensive and systemic changes to improve teaching and learning across the state.

They are still accountability machines.  They live and die by compliance as never before.  Who are you kidding?

Improved, more collaborative, and productive relationships between states and districts. States worked more collaboratively with districts and increased their own capacity to effectively and efficiently support districts and schools in ways that were responsive to local needs.

Yeah, between states maybe, and the districts that sign up for all the personalized learning grants while selling students souls to Satan!

Better communication. States improved lines of communication with stakeholders and used a range of tools (e.g., social media platforms) to continuously gather input from teachers, parents, school leaders, stakeholders and the public to determine the additional supports needed to be successful in carrying out their work.

They certainly used a range of tools in Delaware.  I could name many of those tools, but I would hate to offend anyone.  And many of those tools either gained tremendous financial or political gain from all of this.  And the whole “stakeholder input” never mattered because our DOE didn’t listen to what parents were truly saying and did what they wanted to do anyways.

Higher standards. All Race to the Top states recognized the value of adopting higher standards that are similar across states. Each Race to the Top state implemented challenging kindergarten through 12th-grade academic content standards aimed at preparing students for success in college and careers. With improved standards, teachers, students and parents have a clear roadmap for what students need to know and be able to do to be prepared for success.

The clear roadmap called Common Core, where all students should be on the same level playing field across the country, but all the assessments designed for it are different?  That clear roadmap you say?  And the jury is still way out on if these were “improved” standards.

Teachers support each other to effectively implement higher standards. Teachers worked together to create tools and resources to help them understand the standards and how best to implement them in their classrooms. Hands-on, job-embedded training helped teachers transition to the new content and develop instructional tools, such as sample lesson plans and instructional videos, to translate the standards into effective classroom practices.

Teachers learned how to band together and collectively groan about everything the Feds and the States did to them.  You make it sound like it was such a wonderful and collaborative thing, but it wasn’t and it still isn’t.  Let’s get it straight: the standards were designed for teachers to teach to the state assessment.  Most teachers I know can’t stand these assessments and hate everything that comes with it.

Monitoring student progress during the school year. Every Race to the Top state developed resources and assessment tools that teachers can use in their classrooms to monitor student progress during the school year. Rather than focus on test preparation for the statewide assessment at the end of the school year, nearly all states introduced instructional resources for the classroom that measure higher-order thinking skills, including critical thinking and complex problem-solving.

You can change the words however you want, it is still teaching to the test.

Increased access to and use of objective information on student outcomes. States made critical investments in improving systems to compile student outcome data from pre-kindergarten through the workforce, while protecting personally identifiable information. As outcome data for schools and districts become more accessible to the public, a variety of stakeholders, including parents, policymakers and researchers, will be better able to use these data to answer important questions about educational outcomes, such as “Did students make a year’s worth of growth?” and “Are students succeeding, regardless of income, race, ethnicity or disability?”

That last line is the biggest joke of all.  Because income, race, ethnicity and disability can make a huge difference in a  student’s life, especially as those factors combine!  And we don’t know how much of our children’s data is being farmed out under certain FERPA laws and state regulations.

Local stakeholder engagement. Dramatic improvements in schools require the involvement of community members who understand local contexts and conditions, both inside and outside the school building, to help identify challenges and design solutions. States, districts, teachers, school leaders and community stakeholders are working together to implement strategies to improve the learning environments in their lowest-performing schools and provide services to meet students’ academic and nonacademic needs.

In Delaware, we call this Rodel and the Vision Coalition.  This local stakeholder engagement has been going on for ten years with little or no results except their CEO going from $170,000+ to a salary of $344,000 in a decade.

New performance management approaches. States are using performance management approaches to help districts support effective interventions in their lowest-performing schools. These approaches help states and districts identify problems, set goals to solve them and use data to track progress.

We call these priority schools and focus schools in Delaware.  Or “Partnership Zone” schools.  This is where our state blames teachers for standardized testing scores and do not factor in a lack of resources, funding, neurological disabilities, or issues outside of schools.

States used state-level funds to support districts. In addition to the 50 percent of the total grant award subgranted to districts, many states designed their state-level projects to distribute additional funds to districts. For example, New York competitively distributed nearly $80 million of its state-level “Teachers and Leaders” funds to districts to implement their plans to develop, implement or enhance teacher recruitment, development and retention.

Delaware farmed out millions upon millions of dollars to outside companies, some internal and some external, instead of giving the funds to the districts to lower classroom sizes and get more teachers and extra support.

Some states, such as Hawaii, Delaware and Massachusetts, created a separate office or designated an existing office to plan and coordinate Race to the Top initiatives across different offices

And then the Delaware DOE lied to their General Assembly when the funds ran out and found a way to keep those positions in our DOE without anyone the wiser.

…and Delaware created specific units within their state departments of education and used real-time data to assess whether projects were moving forward and producing quality results.

Results based on federal mandates that were neither Congressionally approved or regulatory in nature…

“We really keep coming back to three questions: Are we doing what we said we would do? Are we doing it well? Is it making a difference?” said Delaware’s former chief performance officer.

Which former chief performance officer is this?  I’m guessing this is why he or she is a former chief performance officer if they were asking questions like this in our dictatorial state led by the not-so-great Delaware Governor Jack Markell.

Beginning in 2008, the state-led effort included governors and state commissioners of education from 48 states, two territories, and the District of Columbia and was informed by the best state standards already in use and the experiences of teachers, school administrators, content experts, state leaders and the public. From the beginning, state and local officials and educators took responsibility for adopting and implementing the standards, and for making decisions about how the standards are taught, how the curriculum is developed, and what materials are used to support teachers in helping students meet the standards.

Yes, the beginning of the cabal of the National Governor’s Association and the Council of Chief State School Officer’s in leading the Common Core initiative where the two true educators in this design group dropped out from the development of these standards.  Then the districts were essentially brow-beaten, pressured, and lied to if they didn’t accept funds during a recession when states were cash-poor.

As a result, each Race to the Top state developed measures of growth in student learning and made the data available to teachers, school leaders, district leaders and, in some cases, parents.  These measure of growth in student learning provided a reliable measure of teachers’ contributions to student learning because they addressed a student’s proficiency across multiple years on a valid assessment that was comparable across classrooms and schools

“Valid assessment”.  I really don’t need to go any further on this one, do I?

In Delaware, the state hired data coaches to work directly with school leaders and teachers to lead professional learning communities.

The data coaches, who got tons of money.  Like the Vision Coalition in Delaware…

For many Race to the Top states and districts, the initiatives they implemented during the grant period have remained priorities that SEAs are now better equipped to support and continue. For example, Delaware’s performance management system did not exist prior to the grant period and will continue without Race to the Top funds. The state also will continue to implement, as part of its state capacity-building plan, its data analyses and biannual conversations with district leaders to better understand what is happening in districts and develop supports that match local needs. Through its district budget plan approval process, Delaware also is encouraging districts to use available funding streams to support work they found to be effective in their schools, such as using allowable federal funds for professional supports for teachers.

Our DOE might want to check with our General Assembly before they commit to all this.  Oh wait, they will answer to our Joint Finance Committee on 11/30/15 for their devious budget actions…

As directed in the report, the citation for this report belongs to U.S. Department of Education, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, Office of State Support, Fundamental Change: Innovation in America’s Schools Under Race to the Top, Washington, D.C., 2015

Rodel And Their Hypocrisy About NAEP Scores

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Picture of the Week!

This picture was taken at the annual Vision Coalition conference on Wednesday, October 28th during Delaware Governor Jack Markell’s annual “I love Rodel” speech.

JMSHADOW

When Jack talks, you better listen!  I love shadowplay!  Governor Markell has always backed Rodel and their plans.  Don’t let anyone ever tell you otherwise.  Rodel and Markell are thick as thieves!

Breaking News: Vision Coalition Not Offering Eclairs To Citizens, Just Coffee

This just in.  The attendees at the annual Vision Coalition conference get eclairs.  However, they have to pay an admittance fee to the shindig.  I just got an email indicating the Vision Coalition will be holding public meetings in each county between November and January at the big libraries for each county.  The kicker though is they are not offering the eclairs, just coffee.  As Dale Cooper from Twin Peaks once said, that better be “a damn fine cup of coffee”.  Speaking of Twin Peaks, if you go, you will see a lot of the same logic applied by Herdman and friends at these meetings.  I would say I’m shocked they aren’t offering Kool-Aid, but they really are….

d0079a26-ffdb-4e33-b2f9-605000006255

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Four Delaware School Districts On The BrINC Of Massive Data Sharing

I’ve been meaning to write about this consortium for a while now, but other matters kept pushing it to the side.  BrINC stands for Brandywine, Indian River, New Castle County Vo-Tech and Colonial, the four school districts that are part of the BrINC Consortium.  What is BrINC?  It is a massive personalized learning initiative.  And they are using the very same company that has hundreds of other companies under its data sharing umbrella.  The Delaware Department of Education and Rodel love this little group.  Rodel especially has been pushing personalized learning for a couple years now.  I can see why.  It’s a cash cow for education technology companies.  Especially IMS Global Learning Consortium who delivers all these wonderful toys to BRINC.  Think of IMS as a big huge cloud.  It houses all the data, and members pay a hefty fee to be a part of that cloud.  But it looks like Indian River School District, a member of IMS’ elite group of hundreds of other companies, school districts and universities, pays the bills to IMS.

Indian River loves the DOE, and the DOE loves them.  New Delaware State Board of Education member Nina Bunting said at their State Board Retreat last month “When the DOE says jump, we say how high.”  Current Superintendent Susan Bunting was in the running for Mark Murphy’s slot a few years ago.  So that leaves the other three districts: Brandywine, Colonial and New Castle County Vo-Tech.  Brandywine’s Mark Holodick has been hypnotized by the Vision Coalition (Rodel), Governor Markell loves the NCC Vo-Tech schools like Howard High School, and Colonial…things are fairly quiet with them.  Although I do like Colonial’s Superintendent.  Anyone who tells the DOE he wishes he could just “blow it up” when talking about the DOE’s school report card fiasco is okay in my book!  They don’t make a lot of noise.  Not like Christina and Red Clay.  Just think of the geography with this.  All the Wilmington school districts that aren’t a large part of the redistricting efforts and the biggest tourist area in the state.

To see what BrINC is all about, read their grant application below:

Rodel’s Paul Herdman Made Over $343,000…And Our Children Lose More Education Everyday

This article will disgust you.  It disgusted me when I read their latest tax form, filed in July of this year.  The Rodel Foundation and all their education propaganda.  I have a new take on this.  We need to boycott anything associated with Rodel.  That means the Vision Coalition, the Delaware Business Roundtable, and yes, I’m going to go there.  The Wilmington Education Improvement Commission.  Why?  Because after the Budingers, who owned Rodel Inc. back in the day, Tony Allen is listed on the board of Rodel.  Dan Rich, the University of Delaware employee who is involved in all things WEIC, also sits very comfortably on the board of the Vision Coalition.

$343,000 a year.  For one man.  That is twice what Mark Murphy made as Secretary of Education.  It’s $126,000 more than the highest paid State of Delaware employee in education (who just so happens to be enjoying his obsession with the Vision Coalition these days).  How many starting teachers could we get with that?  Ten?  How about we take his salary and give every student in Delaware an extra $100 in funding.  I know, they are a “non-profit” company.  Of course they are.  How could they ever make a profit with just over $900,000 going to four people’s salary?

So who benefited from Rodel’s “expertise” in education on this tax form?

Parthenon Group: $700,000 (listed as consultants Rodel pays to do consulting work)

Aspen Institute: $175,000

Delaware Business Roundtable Education Committee $53,600

Delaware Charter Schools Network $30,000

Delaware Public Policy Institute $50,000

First State Military Academy $75,000

Great Oaks Foundation $75,000

Hope Street Group $10,000

Innovative Network For Communities $7,500

Innovative Schools Development Corporation $741,688

Latin American Community Center $15,000

Leadership Delaware Inc. $10,000

Music Associates of Aspen Inc. $30,000

National Public Education Support Fund $10,000

New Castle County Vo-Tech School District $13,451

Sustainable Settings $7,500

Teach For America Inc. $100,300

Teach Plus Inc. $7,500

The Delaware Met $75,000

The Partnership Inc. $7,500

Third Way Foundation $10,000

Vision Network $95,000

The ones in bold are the ones that really stand out for me.  That is an awful lot of money going to Innovative Schools.  But what puzzles me the most is the New Castle County Vo-Tech School District.  Looking back at their prior year tax forms, they have frequently given money to that district or schools within the district.

In terms of hedge fund activity, this tax form does NOT have the Rodel-Pebbles AA Multi-Strategy Hedge Fund, which I wrote in great detail about last year.  In that article, for their Tax Form 990, the amount in the fund was $158,071.  For the other two hedge funds they invest in, Hirtle Multi-Strategy Hedge Funds and Hirtle- Private Equity Funds, those amounts were $2,590,421 and $1,725,911.  A year later, those amounts are $2,710,070 and $1,636,033.  So if they cashed out the Rodel-Pebbles Hedge Fund, it looks like they invested $30,000 more in hedge funds for this tax year.  Like last year, their hedge fund activity is in “off-shore accounts” in the Caribbean or Central America.  For this tax year they invested over $6.9 million in these off-shore accounts, an increase of $2.9 million more than in their tax form filed last year.  Their net assets by the end of the year were $27,700,235 which was an almost $1 million dollar loss compared to the previous year, in which their assets went down $1.45 million compared to the year before.  Yet Dr. Herdman’s salary keeps going up each year because they do a “survey” to see how other similar non-profits pay their CEOs.  This is corporate education reform.  Where traditional public schools lose money each year while the 1% get infinitely richer.  And our state allows this by continuing this charade.

Now when Dr. Paul Herdman first started with The Rodel Foundation of Delaware back at the end of 2004, he was making a little over $168,000 a year with benefits and travel expenses.  Now that has mushroomed to $343,000.  A $175,000 increase.  And this is for their 2013 tax year!  I’m sure it is even more now.

Delaware, this is Rodel.  A company that is a non-profit that invests in off-shore hedge funds and their CEO receives more income than anyone in education in Delaware.  Remember, they sell a product, like any company does.  The product is designed to make them rich.  It’s a business.  They could care less how your individual child is doing.  They care about their bottom line.  So every time you go to the latest annual Vision party, every time you let them take your personal information so you can go to one of their events, or you attend an Imagine Delaware Forum on education that they sponsor, remember it is a big advertisement.  Rodel owns Delaware.  They own the Governor, they own the DOE, they own the Delaware Charter School Network, Innovative Schools, and it looks like the two main people on the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission.

If Rodel really cared about education in Delaware, they would be donating money to the school districts that need funds the most, to help out with classroom sizes.  This is a company that has $27 million in assets.  And it sits there, every year, going through investments and hedge funds and even though it slowly loses a little bit each year, it’s not enough.  I don’t see Rodel donating funds to Red Clay or Christina.  I see a hell of a lot of charter schools, and companies that support them.  And that one school district where a certain Interim Secretary of Education comes from.  Where a soon to be ex-US Secretary of Education visited one of the “most improved” high schools in the state twice which just happens to be in the same district.

When Rodel offers these “grants” to charters, think tanks, and charter friendly organizations, it isn’t out of the kindness of their heart.  It is an investment.  It is saying, if the amount is high enough, we now own you.  Do as we say.  Don’t rock the boat.  Oppose all legislation we don’t like.  We know Rodel and the Delaware Charter Schools Network are two of the biggest lobbyists in Delaware.  It’s not for the kids.  It’s for money.  So Paul Herdman can get an increase in his salary every year.  Don’t get me wrong, he works hard.  Destroying public education doesn’t happen overnight.  It happens over a long period of time, and he has been very proficient at it for over ten years now.

Boycott Rodel.  These are the things I would like to see happen.  DSEA and Delaware PTA get the hell out of anything Rodel/Vision Coalition related.  Tony Allen resigns from the Rodel board.  Dan Rich resigns from Vision.  The Delaware Department of Education immediately ends any contracts with Rodel that are not listed for public viewing.  They end any business relationship with Rodel.  For citizens of Delaware, please do not support this organization.  They have been selling a line of crap for over ten years and it needs to stop.  The only way to do that is to stop listening.  Do not legitimize their money-making agendas.  If they put an ad in the paper or a letter to the editor, write a complaint to the News Journal.  If you are worried about the Delaware Business Roundtable and how that could effect Delaware, don’t worry, Rodel does the books for their Education Committee.

If the leaders of organizations who work with Rodel and the Vision Coalition don’t want to leave, that’s okay.  Elections can change that with certain organizations.  And do not buy for one second that “Personalized Learning” is the wave of the future.  That’s what Rodel wants you to think.  Back in 2006, they predicted state standards and tests designed around those.  They envisioned a future, with the able assistance of then Treasurer of Delaware Jack Markell, where all children would be able to compete with their brethren in China and Japan and India and Singapore.  Millions upon millions of dollars filling the pockets of folks like Dr. Paul Herdman and Fred Sears III.  For what?  Have we learned nothing?

This article is going to tick off a lot of people.  Good.  It wasn’t meant to put a smile on anyone’s face.  It was meant to piss off those who would sacrifice our children’s future so companies like Rodel can live high off the hog.  You know exactly who you are, and the charade has to end.  Either you support public education or you don’t.  There is no middle ground.  Not anymore.

For the average citizen, remember this.  You hold immense power in your hands and voice.  Your hands can write a Refuse The Test letter.  Your voice can tell other parents to do the same.  Paul Herdman was scared out of his mind with the opt-out movement.  He had no idea how much power he does not have over people.  This is why he spoke at the Senate Education Committee meeting against House Bill 50, the parent opt-out legislation.  He knows that if parents don’t let their kids take the Smarter Balanced Assessment, his empire falls apart.  Very fast.  Let’s do it.  Let’s say screw the CEO and take back education.  Because if you think for one second it is your child’s education, you are dead wrong.  This is Rodel’s education, sold to them with your taxpayer money and the more than willing voice of your Governor.

Delaware’s Numerous October Education Meetings

As the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission barrels ahead and the State Board of Education tries to firm up an accountability system for Delaware, look for several meetings this month.  I’m going to try to get them all in, so look for a tab below this blog name going forward.  I will be updating this list through the next couple days.  Keep a close watch on the weather as several of the meetings or events could be canceled or delayed based on Hurricane Joaquin!  If you have an event or meeting you would like included on here, please feel free to leave a comment or email me at kevino3670@yahoo.com but I will be putting the traditional school districts and CBOC meetings up later today, along with the other WEIC meetings and town halls.

10/1: Professional Standards Board, 5pm-9pm, Townshend Building, 2nd Floor Conf. Room, Dover

10/1: Great Oaks Charter School Joel Klein Event, *$100 ticket, $25 for educators*, Community Education Building, Wilmington

10/5: Accountability Framework Working Group (AFWG), 1pm-4pm, Townshend Building, 2nd Floor Conf. Room, Dover

10/5: Charter School Charter Renewal Public Hearing (Campus Community, MOT, Providence Creek), 5pm, Townshend Building, 2nd Floor Conf. Room, Dover

10/5: Charter School Major Modification Public Hearing (Mapleton Charter), 5pm, Townshend Building, 2nd Floor Conf. Room, Dover

10/5: Freire Charter School Ribbon Cutting Ceremony, 5:30pm, Wilmington, Governor Markell and Mayor Williams scheduled to attend

10/5: State Board of Education Workshop on alignment of standards, curriculum, and assessment (Smarter Balanced), 5pm-8:15pm, Grotto’s Pizza-Capitol Room, Dover

10/5: WEIC: Red Clay Town Hall Meeting, 7pm, Warner Elementary School, Wilmington

10/6: Delaware Education Support System (DESS), 1pm-4pm, Government Support Services Blue Hen Conference Room, 100 Enterprise Place, Suite 4, Dover

10/6: WEIC: Funding Student Success, 2pm, Red Clay District Office, Wilmington

10/6: Citizens Budget Oversight Committee Meetings: Delaware College Prep (no time given),

10/7: Delaware Developmental Disabilities Council: Children & Families Committee, 1:30-3:30pm, DDDS Office, Bear

10/8: WEIC: Redistricting Committee, 4:00pm, Red Clay District Office, Wilmington

10/8: SCR22 Educational Technology Task Force, 4:30-7:00pm, Townshend Bldg., 2nd Floor Conf. Room, Dover

10/8: Christina, Q&A with Acting Superintendent Robert Andrzejewski, 7pm, Shue-Medill Middle School, 1500 Capital Trail, Newark

10/8: School Board Meetings: Kuumba Academy (6pm)

10/10: School Board Meetings: Delaware Academy Of Public Safety (6:30pm)

10/12: P-20 Council, 12pm, Buena Vista Conference Room, Buck Library, New Castle

10/13: Charter School Accountability Committee: Charter Renewal (Campus Community, MOT, Providence Creek), 1pm, Townshend Building, 2nd Floor Conf. Room, Dover

10/13: Charter School Accountability Committee: Major Modification (Mapleton), 1pm, Townshend Bldg., 2nd Floor Conf. Room, Dover

10/13: WEIC: Parent, Educator & Community Engagement Committee, 5:30-7:30pm, Highlands Elementary School, Wilmington

10/13: Citizens Budget Oversight Committee Meetings: Kuumba Academy (2:30pm), Odyssey Charter School (7pm)

10/13: School Board Meetings: Appoquinimink (7pm), Christina (7:30pm), Colonial (7pm), Delaware Design Lab High School (6:30pm), Delmar (7pm), Polytech (6:30pm)

10/14: School Board Meetings: Odyssey Charter School (7pm)

10/14: Citizens Budget Oversight Committee Meetings: Brandywine (12pm)

10//15: New Castle County Combined Boards of Education Meeting, 7:30am (Breakfast & Socialization, food not free for non-board affiliates), 8:00am-Meeting begins, Sheraton Wilmington South, 365 Airport Rd., New Castle

10/15: State Board of Education Meeting, 1pm, Townshend Bldg., 2nd Floor Conf. Room, Dover

10/17: Caesar Rodney School District Referendum

10/19: Citizens Budget Oversight Committee Meetings: Delaware Military Academy (4:30-6:00pm), Las Americas Aspiras (6pm)

10/19: School Board Meetings: Brandywine (7pm), Delaware College Prep (6:30pm), Milford (7pm), Seaford (7pm), Sussex Tech (Time Not Listed), Thomas Edison Charter School (6pm)

10/20: Wilmington Education Improvement Commission Regular Meeting, 4pm, Sarah Pyle Academy, Gymnasium, Wilmington

10/20: Citizens Budget Oversight Committee Meetings: Gateway Lab School (5:30pm), Newark Charter School (5:30pm), Sussex Academy (3:30pm)

10/20: School Board Meetings: First State Military Academy (5:30pm), Gateway Lab School (7pm), Newark Charter School (7:30pm), Prestige Academy (6pm)

10/21: Citizens Budget Oversight Committee Meetings: Christina (6:30-8:30pm), Positive Outcomes (5pm)

10/21: School Board Meetings: Capital (7:30pm), Laurel (7pm), Positive Outcomes (5:45pm), Red Clay Consolidated (7pm), Smyrna (7pm), Sussex Academy (3:30pm), Woodbridge (6pm)

10/22: WEIC: Colonial Town Hall Meeting, 6:30-8:00pm, George Read Middle School, New Castle

10/22: Citizens Budget Oversight Committee Meetings: Academy of Dover (5:15pm), Early College High School (4pm)

10/22: School Board Meetings: Academy of Dover (6pm), Cape Henlopen (6pm), Early College High School (5:15pm), First State Montessori (6:30pm), lake Forest (7pm), Las Americas Aspiras (?)

10/26: WEIC: Meeting the Needs of Students in Poverty Committee: 4pm, United Way of Delaware, The Linden Bldg., Third Floor, Wilmington

10/26: WEIC: Christina Town Hall, 7:00-8:30pm, Pulaski Elementary School Auditorium, Wilmington

10/26: School Board Meetings: Delaware Military Academy (5:30pm), Great Oaks (5:30pm), Indian River (7pm), New Castle County Vo-Tech (7pm)

10/27: WEIC: Funding Student Success, 2pm, Red Clay District Office, Wilmington

10/27: DPAS-II Advisory Committee, 4:30-6:30pm, Townshend Bldg., 2nd Floor Conf. Room, Dover

10/27: Citizens Budget Oversight Committee Meetings: Family Foundations Academy (5pm)

10/27: School Board Meetings: Caesar Rodney (7pm), Charter School of Wilmington (5:30pm), Providence Creek Academy (7pm)

10/28: Vision Coalition 8th Annual Conference, 7:45am-2pm, Clayton Hall, University of Delaware, Newark *$30 ticket*

10/28: WEIC: Charter & District Collaboration Committee, 5:30pm, Location TBD

10/28: Citizens Budget Oversight Committee Meetings: Academia Antonia Alonso (5pm), Campus Community (4:30pm), East Side (4pm)

10/28: School Board Meetings: Academia Antonia Alonso (5:30pm), Campus Community (5:30pm), East Side (5pm), Family Foundations Academy (7pm), MOT Charter School (7:30pm)

10/29: WEIC: Redistricting Committee, 4:00pm, Graham Hall, 111 Academy St., Newark

*The Delaware Met & Delaware STEM Academy have no scheduled board meetings on their websites

Vision Coalition Launches Latest 10 Year Plan, Student Success 2025

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Governor Markell Visits Germany During Crucial Education Week

Delaware Governor Jack Markell is in Germany this week initiating trade agreements with companies.  Meanwhile, Delaware education has A LOT going on this week.  Most important is the State Board of Education meeting on Thursday, September 17th.  But other big events are happening as well.  Today, the State Board of Education is having a retreat at the Duncan Center in Dover, tomorrow the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission meets for their regular meeting at William Penn High School in New Castle, and the Vision Coalition is formally announcing their next “big thing” on Wednesday at 10am at Del Tech in Dover.  Oh yeah, there is also the whole Parent Strike REFUSE THE TEST event on Thursday, with a press conference in front of Legislative Hall at 12:30pm.  And starting on Wednesday, the Delaware Department of Education will start mailing individual Smarter Balanced Assessment results to parents across the state.

With all this going on, I would probably skip town too Jack! 😉 But I’m sure this was scheduled way in advance.  The fallout from decisions made this week, and in the next few months, could change the education landscape in Delaware for a long time.  Will the DOE and State Board of Education change or will they be forced to?  How much will it cost Delaware taxpayers to redistrict Wilmington?  Will parent rage over the Smarter Balanced Assessment be enough to make an impact?

Here is a list of all things education this week:

Today, Monday September 14th:

Delaware State Board of Education Retreat, Outlook at the Duncan Center in Dover, 9:00am-5:00pm

Delaware STEM Council Quarterly Meeting, Dept. of Natural Resources Office, Lewes DE, 4:00-6:00pm

SCR 22 Educational Technology Task Force Meeting, DOE Townshend Bldg., Cabinet Room, 4:30-7:00pm

Red Clay Community Financial Review Meeting, Brandywine Springs Teacher’s Lounge, 6:30pm

Tomorrow, Tuesday September 15th

WEIC Funding Student Success Committee, William Penn H.S., Newcastle, 2:00-4:00pm

Wilmington Education Improvement Commission (WEIC), Regular Meeting, William Penn H.S. in Newcastle, 4:00-6:00pm

DPAS-II Advisory Sub-Committee Meeting, DOE Townshend Bldg., Cabinet Room, 4:30-6:30pm

WEIC Parent, Educator, & Community Engagement Committee, William Penn H.S. in Newcastle, 6:15pm

Christina School District Citizens Budget Oversight Committee Meeting, Gauger-Cobbs M.S., Newark, 6:30-8:30pm

Wednesday September 16th

Vision Coalition Student Success 2025 Launch, Del-Tech, Dover, 10am-12noon

Red Clay Consolidated School District Board of Education Meeting, Warner Elementary School, Wilmington, 7:00pm

Capital School District Board of Education Meeting, District Office, Dover, 7:30pm

Delaware DOE begins mailing individual results on Smarter Balanced Assessment to parents

Thursday, September 17th

Accountability Framework Working Group Meeting, John Collette Education Resource Center, Dover, 8:30am *no announcement of this meeting anywhere, is not a public meeting although it should be.

Parent Strike Press Conference, outside of Legislative Hall, Dover, 12:30pm

State Board of Education Meeting, Townshend Bldg, Dover, Cabinet Room, 1:00-5:30pm

Student Data Privacy Task Force, Carvel State Office Bldg,, 5th Floor, Wilmington, 2:00-4:00pm

Christina School District Board of Education Meeting, Sarah Pyle Academy, Wilmington, 6:30pm-8:30pm

Some parents start to get Smarter Balanced results in the mail, collective scream begins to emerge in Delaware

Friday, September 18th

More parents get SBAC results, the scream gets louder

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

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

The arrogance in this is overwhelming:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

studentsuccess2025

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

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

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

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

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