The Teacher Leader Pilot Program Comes To Us Courtesy Of Rodelaware

The Delaware Department of Education continues their self-righteous Rodel led agendas.  In their latest corporate education reform press release, Godowsky and the gang announced the nineteen members of the Delaware Teacher Leader Pilot program kicking off this year.  I find it more than a coincidence that most of the districts who got these positions are very tight with the “Leader In Me” program.  The only districts selected were Capital and Appoquinimink.  Three charters are joining the bandwagon which are MOT, Kuumba Academy and Odyssey.

At their April board meeting, the Capital Board of Education tentatively approved going forward with this program.  But they had deep concerns about setting up competitions in schools.  They cited the very controversial Delaware Talent Co-op Program from a few years ago and how it caused many problems among teachers.  As well, the board was concerned with the amount of time the selected Teacher Leaders would spend out of the classroom and how additional substitute teachers would need to take their place.  The principals of these schools were very enthusiastic about the program.  Both are “focus” schools, one of the latest “turnaround” labels thrown at schools over low state assessment scores.  In a sense, I don’t blame these principals for doing what they can to get their schools out of these false labels put on them by the Delaware DOE.  If you go to the Capital board audio recording from their April 20th board meeting, click on the second audio recording link, and the discussion begins around the 1:22:03 mark.  When asked how much the program would cost, Superintendent Dan Shelton mentioned the stipend teachers would get but also that the training would take up the bulk of the costs.  A figure of $50,000 was thrown around.

The only schools in Capital who are instituting this pilot program are Towne Point and East Dover Elementary.  Towne Point is a huge advocate of the “Leader In Me” program.  Fairview Elementary in Capital also has this program.  Appoquinimink School District brought Leader In Me to Delaware.  Payments for this program are made to a company called Franklin Covey.  Many of the teachers at Towne Point who advocate for this program are also members of this Teacher Leader pilot program.  One of them is also very involved with the Rodel Teacher Council.  I have no doubt this teacher is an excellent teacher, but when you see one name associated with so many things I can not support, it is hard to draw the line between saying nothing and pointing it out.  I fully welcome any discussion with this teacher about anything written in this article, especially the part I write about later on.

The Delaware General Assembly passed their budget bill in late June with an appropriation of $800,000 in state funds going to the recipient districts and charters towards the Teacher Leader program.

SB285Sect362

What I don’t understand is how the DOE can move forward with a program that is contingent on approval in the State Budget.  The funds for this state grant weren’t approved until late June.  But here we have the DOE sending out invitations to apply after Spring Break.  For Capital school district, students came back after Spring Break on April 4th.  They gave schools a very short time to apply for this program, a matter of 25 days.  What was the insane rush behind this?  I will touch on this later, but for now check out the press release from Alison May at the DOE:

First teacher leaders announced

Nineteen teachers have been selected to serve as teacher leaders in a pilot program launching this school year. The program is among the first of its kind in the nation to take place at the state level.

Providing this kind of teacher leadership opportunity was among the recommendations of the Committee to Advance Educator Compensation and Careers. During his administration, Governor Jack Markell has championed the creation of a compensation system that makes Delaware educator salaries more competitive with neighboring states and rewards teachers for helping their peers to best support our students.

“Through this pilot, teacher leaders are provided a career pathway that both rewards educators for excellence and provides opportunities in formal leadership positions,” said Markell, who recommended funding for the pilot in his Fiscal Year 2017 budget that was approved by the General Assembly on June 30. “Through these roles, teacher leaders will use their skills to support schools where they need it most: helping other educators develop their practices and better prepare Delaware’s students for college and careers —all while allowing teacher leaders to maintain a foot in the classroom and earn additional compensation without needing to take on administrative roles.”

The Governor joined Secretary of Education Steve Godowsky today at Appoquinimink High School in Middletown to participate with members of the pilot in a discussion about the coming year.

The five teacher leader roles to launch this year will support educators in the following areas:

·         Instructional practice leads will improve the instructional practice of fellow educators using a variety of high-impact support strategies focused on frequent, targeted feedback in educators’ development areas.

·         Digital content leads will help educators build their instructional technology knowledge so more students have access to technology that helps improve their academic outcomes.

·         Instructional strategy leads will introduce new instructional strategies into schools to help educators meet their learning needs and help schools meet their academic goals.

·         Community partnership leads will help students gain access to services designed to improve their physical and mental health, giving them a greater chance at academic success.

·         Instructional culture leads will help schools build a philosophy around culture, discipline and culturally responsive teaching.

Schools across Delaware were invited to participate in the teacher leader pilot. A nine-member committee representing educators, administrators and external partners selected eight schools and those schools created selection committees that designed a rigorous, multi-stage process to meet their schools’ needs and choose the 19 teacher leaders.

Each school is identifying a set of goals that teacher leaders will work toward. This summer, teacher leaders and school leaders came together to meet other pilot participants, plan pilot implementation for their schools, and learn more about teacher leadership to ensure a successful launch this fall.

“Being a novice teacher can be overwhelming at first, especially when it comes to lesson planning and classroom management. That’s why we want to use this new position to target support for our novice teachers in these areas,” said Kirsten Belair, who will work as an instructional practice lead at Odyssey Charter School.

The 2016-17 teacher leaders are:

 

·         Amanda Alexander, instructional culture, Towne Point Elementary (Capital School District)

·         Colleen Barrett, digital content, Middletown High School (Appoquinimink School District)

·         Chelsea Baxter, instructional culture, Kuumba Academy (Charter)

·         Kirsten Belair, instructional practice, Odyssey Charter School (Charter)

·         Lindsay Bouvy, instructional practice, Appoquinimink High School (Appoquinimink School District)

·         Michelle Duke, instructional practice, Towne Point Elementary (Capital School District)

·         Carrie Howe, community partnerships, MOT Charter School (Charter)

·         Melanie Fauvelle, digital content, Appoquinimink High School (Appoquinimink School District)

·         Michele Johnson, instructional practice, Towne Point Elementary (Capital School District)

·         Kris King, instructional practice, Cedar Lane Elementary (Appoquinimink School District)

·         Heather Patricco, instructional practice, Cedar Lane Elementary (Appoquinimink School District)

·         Heather Mann, instructional practice, East Dover Elementary (Capital School District)

·         Shana Noll, instructional practice, MOT Charter School (Charter)

·         Crystal Samuels, digital content, Middletown High School (Appoquinimink School District)

·         Katharine Sawyer, instructional practice, Middletown High School (Appoquinimink School District)

·         Krista Seifert, instructional culture, East Dover Elementary (Capital School District)

·         John Tanner, instructional practice, Appoquinimink High School (Appoquinimink School District)

·         Kady Taylor, instructional strategy (K-8 reading), Kuumba Academy (Charter)

·         Tamara Walker, instructional strategy (K-8 math), Kuumba Academy (Charter)

Alison May

alison.may@doe.k12.de.us
(302) 735-4006

Last May, educators were “encouraged” to apply for this program.  The Teacher Leader Effectiveness Unit at the Delaware DOE issued an overview of the program along with applications and descriptions of the different categories teachers could apply for:

Based on all of these descriptions, the teachers selected into this program would receive a stipend ranging from $5000-$6000 depending on whether or not the school is a “high-needs” school.  Assuming all of the schools are “high-needs”, that would give each teacher a stipend of $6000.  With nineteen teachers selected, that is a total of $114,000.  So my question would be where the other $684,000 allocated for this program is going to.  I emailed the DOE about this earlier this afternoon.

This program spun out of the Committee to Advance Educator Compension & Careers Committee which spun out of the 147th General Assembly and Senate Bill 254.  In the beginning of this committee, Delaware teachers were outraged because the vendor for the committee, The New Teacher Project (TNTP), suggested Smarter Balanced scores should determine if a teacher could become a teacher leader.  Eventually, the committee ran out of time and the committee was extended through House Joint Resolution #7 in the 148th General Assembly.  The group was led by an employee in Governor Markell’s office named Ryan Fennerty.  This name may sound familiar to some readers.  Another member of the committee, Lindsay O’Mara, former wife of Colin O’Mara, is engaged to Fennerty.  She also worked in Governor Markell’s office as his education policy advisor before leaving last winter to get a job at the United States Dept. of Education.  Delaware or Peyton Place?  You decide!  But I digress…

If you look at the minutes for this committee, the last three meetings have no minutes.  This is where the final votes would be shown on what became today’s announcement by the Delaware DOE.  These last three meetings were held on 5/11/15, 1/29/16 and 4/22/16.  The Delaware DOE obviously jumped the gun on this a bit because Capital’s board discussed their two schools applying for this on April 20th, two days before the final vote took place.  I did email the chair of the CAECC, Dr. Teri Quinn Gray, as well as Donna Johnson, the legislators on the committee, and Dr. Godowsky for a status on these minutes earlier today.  There was also an Educator Work Group as a subset of this committee, and this section of the CAECC website has NO minutes at all for the four meetings that were held between November 2015 to January 2016.  So much for transparency in Delaware.

This committee had a lot of familiar faces.  The heads of the Senate and House Education Committees for the 147th General Assembly were on it, Senator David Sokola and former State Rep. Darryl Scott.  Senator Brian Pettyjohn and State Rep. Joe Miro rounded out the legislative portion of the committee from the other side of the aisle.  State Rep. Kim Williams replaced Scott when he opted not to run again in the 148th General Assembly.  The Delaware State Education Association, Dr. Mark Holodick (Superintendent of Brandywine School District), and eventually, the Delaware Association of School Administrators had a seat at the table.  On the state financial side of things, Meghan Brennan represented the Office of Management and Budget and Controller General Michael Morton from his office.  It is important to note there were no actual teachers on the main committee. 

I’ve heard tales from these meetings and how DSEA fought against SBAC scores tying into these Teacher Leader creations.  I actually wrote about how teachers went to a Town Hall based on this at the Bear Public Library and many weren’t allowed entrance because the library had too many people.  But I can’t find the article.  But needless to say, teachers were VERY pissed off about this.

I have to wonder how many applications were received by the Delaware DOE for this and how many different districts or charters applied.  And yet, we only have two districts and three charters represented in this pilot program.  Appoquinimink is pretty much a grant whore and applies for every grant under the sun (and usually gets it) and is a proud member of BRINC and The Leader In Me program, Capital is an unknown quantity: heavily involved in The Leader In Me, just joined BRINC (the digital blended learning consortium representing 8-9 districts in Delaware), and now this program, Kuumba is one of the darling charters loved by the DOE, the Delaware Charter Schools Network and several legislators, MOT Charter School is one of the Smarter Balanced superstars with high scores (take a look at their demographics), and Odyssey Charter School is… I don’t know what they are.  They have been under my radar for a long time, but I have a sneaky feeling that will change in the coming months.

Now, to be fair, I don’t think every teacher involved with these type of things are evil or the Judas Iscariot of the Delaware teaching profession.  I think they are regular teachers who want to do more but don’t want to necessarily go into administrative roles.  They jump on things like this, or the Leader In Me program, or the Rodel Teacher Council, in an honest intention of diversifying their resume and their professional career path.  But, with that being said, I don’t trust Rodel, or a DOE sponsored program, or the Leader In Me.  I think a lot of them are not in it for kids and teachers and have bigger plans.  And behind all of this, we have Smiling Jack, leading the pep rally behind this latest pilot program.  But what I do take extreme offense to is the arrogance of people who knew 1) the CAECC had not approved the program when applications went out, and 2) the General Assembly had not approved the funding for the program before applications went out.

In the grand scheme of things, $800,000 for a Teacher Leader Pilot Program is not that much money considering the state spends a third of it’s budget on education.  But the danger is when it is labeled a success and the funds no longer flow freely from the state in the form of grants.  In a year or three, when the local school districts are asked to pick up a share and they jump on it because they don’t want to disrupt the program, that is when we will find out the true cost of a program like this.  And as we have more teachers jumping to become a Teacher Leader, spending less time in the classroom with less instruction they are giving students, what happens to the kids?  I believe the Capital board members should have pushed harder against having their two schools apply.  There were no firm answers about what to do with the vast amount of substitute teachers needed to make up for these teachers being out of the classroom.  Not only do you have the teacher’s salary, but you also have an ever-growing number of substitute teacher wages that the districts will  have to eat.  I truly don’t think it is a wise idea to have seasoned teachers out of the classroom up to half the day.  If they want to do this stuff outside of school hours, that is one thing.  But our students deserve better than to have half a teacher.

Oh yeah, there is just one more tiny, itty-bitty, little thing with all this.  On April 21st, Angeline Rivello, the Chief of the Teacher/Leader Effectiveness Unit and also an Assistant Secretary at the Delaware DOE, sent out an email to the Selection Committee of the Teacher Leader Pilot program.  I was able to get this email.  And it is a doozy of an email.

How does a member of the Selection Committee manage to get selected for this program?  Can you answer that for me Michele Johnson?  Why do I constantly see the names of the aforementioned Michele Johnson, Robyn Howton and Jennifer Nauman attached to so much Rodel/Vision stuff and now this selection committee?  Under whose authority did you allow schools to apply for this before any decision was made granting the authority by legislative decree to a public committee or before the funds were even appropriated for this program?  Can you answer that for me Angeline Rivello?  Or do you answer to Donna Johnson?  Because there is a crystal clear reason she was cc’ed on this email.  Who chose the selection committee for a program that, once again, wasn’t even approved?  Your email said there was a chance to get a “wide diversity” of schools but we have only one Kent Country district, one New Castle County district, and three New Castle charters.  How did that work out?  What was the rubric for scoring applications?  How many applications were received?  Did the selection committee read every single application or what it divvied up among the selection committee?

I think it is past time the DOE fessed up on their sneakiness and manipulation. Secretary Godowsky PROMISED a greater degree of transparency and open communication coming from this Department, and all I see are more lies, secret agendas, emails to select individuals with no public awareness, funds committed to things before they are even approved, focus groups or special meetings with no public notice, no minutes provided for certain things, or even links to certain groups (hello Competency-Based Learning Guiding Coalition).  Meanwhile, you allow charters and districts to allocate money wherever they want with no true oversight, browbeat the auditor’s office until a good woman is put on leave while charters get away with financial murder, manipulate the ESSA regulatory process by claiming to have true stakeholder input when it is really just school administrators and lobbyists, force a school report card scheme on our schools without any regulatory authority to impose it, and have our students take a test that judges everything and the students don’t even take the test.  Secretary Godowsky, I don’t care what anyone says, you are a HORRIBLE Secretary of Education.  This kind of crap makes even Mark Murphy look okay in comparison.  The rot in YOUR Department still exists, more than ever.  This happened under YOUR watch.  I hope the pieces of silver from Rodel and Markell were worth it… 

Angeline Rivello, when I announced Chris Ruszkowski was leaving the DOE, a lot of teachers in this state reached out to me and they expressed how they wanted to give you a chance and hoped the stink from the TLEU would disappear.  It is stronger then ever. 

Donna Johnson, this just once again proves what I have always known: you don’t believe in transparency and you are well aware of everything that goes on in the Townsend Building.  Does your beloved State Board know what you know?  How the hell are you even still employed there?  All of you are liars, plain and simple.  There is no other justification for your actions. 

Governor Markell, you tricked us again. You are a mastermind at turning something that looks good on the surface into a tangled web of lies and deception. If I had my way, I would impeach you even though you have less than five months in office.

If those in Delaware thought maybe I would temper things down eventually, my commitment to exposure in this state has NEVER been stronger.  Every single day I see the corruption and fraud going on in our state.  This isn’t a democracy.  We have the most corrupt and vile state government in the country.  None of this is about our kids.  It is about power, position, and money.  You all need to start coming clean before I find out about it.  Because if you think only a few Delaware teachers and parents read this blog, you are VERY wrong.  You have no idea, no one does, who is watching all of you.  Recording every single thing I come out with, just building a very large and thick file.

And I do have a final item to throw out there.  How can three contracts, which I can only assume may play into the total of $800,000 for Section 362is program which answers some of my questions for the funds involved in this sham, be signed on the following dates: 4/19/16, 4/21/16, 4/26/16, 5/2/16, 5/4/16, 5/10/16, 5/11/16, and 5/23/16?  If these are for this program, and the General Assembly had not approved the funds for this program, how can you have contracts starting before the Joint Finance Committee even released their budget?  Or should I assume the Rodel Foundation will be the one training these teacher leaders?  With funds from the Vision Coalition?  Or should I say Schools That Lead?  Because when I look up Schools That Lead’s IRS 990 tax forms, it comes up with 990s for 2012, 2013, and 2014.  Since Schools That Lead wasn’t really around then, care to take a guess what company comes up?  The Vision Network.  And if this description of their purpose doesn’t fit the bill for this Teacher Leader Pilot, I don’t know what does:

VisionIRS9902014

Care to take a close look at who Schools That Lead’s “partners” are?  Just look at this.  And if you aren’t aware of the backbone behind the Vision Coalition’s Student Success 2025, you need to take a look at this.  The Vision Coalition wants us to be “rethinking roles and responsibilities” and that includes teacher leaders and their compensation levels.  Take a look at the contracts above with Teach For America, University of Delaware and Supporting School Success.  Sound familiar based on all this?  Even more fascinating, even though Delaware has paid millions of dollars to the Rodel/Vision education incorporated enterprise, we never see any contracts with them listed on the awarded vendors portion of the state contracts website.  I would have to imagine this contract could land them anywhere from $500,000-$600,000.  Would that be a good guess Dr. Paul Herdman?  With an address at 100 W. 10th St. in Wilmington, DE, it stands to reason Rodel is somehow going to profit off this.

MakeOurChildrenDumb_zpsa514b437

When I first started digging into education stuff in Delaware, I remember reading an article on Kilroy’s where he wrote about talking with Jack Markell in 2008.  Kilroy wanted to support him, and he asked Markell flat-out if he was going to stop the spread of Rodel into Delaware education to which Markell said he would.  Jack lied Kilroy.  He lied to all of us.  Rodel runs the education show in Delaware.  They have for 12 years.  Every single decision made in Delaware education has been at the behest of the Rodel Foundation since Jack Markell took office.  Together with their order-takers at the Delaware DOE, the State Board of Education, the Delaware Charter Schools Network, the Delaware Business Roundtable, the Christina Cultural Arts Center, Governor Markell’s office, and the Wilmington Metropolitan Urban League, they have single-handedly turned Delaware education into a billion dollar corporation.  And our kids lose more and more every single day.  Because their minions have infiltrated every charter, every district, every state agency, and even our General Assembly.  We gave them this power.  Now, it is time to take it all back.

The Very Important Answer To The Question Nobody Asked!

How did Delaware Governor Jack Markell come up with the whole “assessment inventory” thing at Howard High School on March 12th, 2015?  Was this the brainchild of the DOE and Markell?  Or did an outside consultant actually come up with this idea as a counter to House Bill 50, the parent opt-out bill? Governor Markell vetoed the bill which was passed by both the Delaware House of Representatives and Senate last month, and the DOE and Markell cited the assessment inventory legislation, Senate Joint Resolution #2 as the primary reason. The “too much testing” argument was the foil for parent opt-out, which I called the second I read about it on March 12th. I never waivered from this argument, and it turned out to be true.

A contract was developed with a company called “Colvin Communications”, based out of Washington D.C. which ran from March 12th to June 30th of this year.  Upon a Google search, the only place “Colvin Communications” comes up is in this very contract.  However, payments for this contract went out to the same person who signed the contract, Richard Colvin. In a search for a Delaware business license, I did find one for Colvin Communications and Richard Colvin. So it is a legitimate business. But why didn’t Colvin use the company he currently works for, Cross & Joftus?

Richard Colvin is a major education reporter, most known for his articles on The Hechinger Report, which he created.  Colvin has been a very vocal advocate for education reform.  And he has met Governor Jack Markell in the past!  The contract between Richard Colvin and the DOE concerned communications strategies at the DOE.  For his services, Colvin’s contract called for a fixed fee payment of $112,000.00 for a little over two and a half month’s work.

Where this gets very bizarre is the payments going to Richard Colvin on Delaware Online Checkbook. The contract ran from 3/12-6/30/15.  So what services did Richard Colvin provide prior to this contract?

Department: DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION – Vendor: RICHARD COLVIN
for
Period: FY 2015

No. of Payments: Amount:
6 $136,880.00

 

Back to Search
Division Category Date of Payment Amount Payment Reference
DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION OTHER PROFESSIONAL SERVICE 4/7/2015 $30,880.00 421173
DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION OTHER PROFESSIONAL SERVICE 2/4/2015 $17,600.00 402579
DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION OTHER PROFESSIONAL SERVICE 6/9/2015 $27,200.00 442773
DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION OTHER PROFESSIONAL SERVICE 3/9/2015 $6,787.00 411883
DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION OTHER PROFESSIONAL SERVICE 5/6/2015 $32,000.00 430917
DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION OTHER PROFESSIONAL SERVICE 3/9/2015 $22,413.00 411883

Department: DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION – Vendor: RICHARD COLVIN
for
Period: FY 2016 Period 1 thru 1

No. of Payments: Amount:
1 $18,240.00

 

Back to Search
Division Category Date of Payment Amount Payment Reference
DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION OTHER PROFESSIONAL SERVICE 7/21/2015 $18,240.00 454331

So the contract was for $112,000.00.  Colvin has been paid $155,120.00 by the DOE.  Out of that amount, $46,800.00 was paid prior to the contract initiation date, which technically leaves $3,680.00 left in the contract.  But what are the services Colvin actually provided to the DOE before his contract and with the contract? With Colvin’s wealth of information on education reform, standardized assessments, and his rabid promoting of the Edu-Wonk blog, it stands to reason Colvin may have actually come up with the whole assessment inventory idea prior to his contract beginning on March 12th.  The timing is everything, and he started providing his “unique” service to DOE the same time opt-out was beginning in Delaware.

In this article on the Policy Innovators in Education Network, Colvin said the following:

“How should we think about the polarization and heated rhetoric around education reform? Is it evidence reformers are making a difference? Or does it impede progress by alienating the unions, which are not going to go away?

There are lots of questions for reformers to answer as they think about the tactics they should use. Obviously, the political context matters a lot. Republicans dominate in many of the states where we’ve seen significant change. But not all.”

In March, 2010, Colvin wrote a huge article about Delaware and Tennessee’s award for the Race To The Top competition in U.S. News & World Report:

Delaware’s application was supported by all of the state’s school districts and charter schools. It also was backed by the state teachers union, a coalition of business leaders, philanthropists, leaders of both political parties, and Gov. Jack Markell, who helped present the plan in person to the review teams that chose the winners. A Delaware business leader, a school district superintendent, and the president of the teachers union, the Delaware State Education Association, joined him in the interview.

Markell said that he believed that the widespread community support for the state’s plan helped it win. “In Delaware, we don’t have to choose between consensus and being bold,” he says. “You get the best of both worlds.”

But have Richard Colvin and Governor Markell ever met? Yes they have, and throw in Paul Herdman of Rodel for extra measure and you have a clear connection to Delaware education reform and Colvin.  In fact, Paul Herdman even wrote about it in October, 2011.  Colvin was a panelist at the annual Vision fest.

The frank dialogue continued throughout the day and was most striking in the inspired and candid conversation between Richard Colvin, Executive Director of Education Sector, and Delaware Governor Jack Markell. Both Colvin and audience members didn’t hesitate to ask the governor tough questions about teacher evaluation, funding, and a number of other issues that the governor and the state contend with daily.   The governor underscored another prominent theme of the day, which is the responsibility that each of us has to contribute to this work, “Just getting it done among the people in this room is not sufficient.  Please take the passion that brought you here and share it with those outside.”

According to Colvin’s LinkedIn profile, he is currently working with a company based out of Bethesda, MD called Cross & Joftus.  This is yet another slew of corporate education reform companies that plague our country.  They also were one of the bidders on the DOE’s Statewide Review of Educational Opportunities which was won by Public Consulting Group.  Some of their clients are very familiar names to Delaware, including the Aspen institute (of which Jack Markell, Mark Murphy and Paul Herdman are all members and Colvin has written papers for), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Broad Foundation and another foundation called the Wallace Foundation, which Colvin has a long history with.  Richard Colvin, Scott Joftus and Paul Herdman are all listed as participants in the NewSchools Venture Fund.  Cross & Joftus have helped other districts and Departments with reassessment of statewide initiatives, like the current SREO campaign which Colvin probably came up with a week after his probable assessment inventory suggestion to the desperate Governor Markell and DOE.

As the connections to corporate education reform in Delaware continue to mount, it is important for Delaware citizens to unravel this labyrinth of connections and money that are taking resources out of the classroom and starving our traditional school districts. It has become more than obvious that the leaders in the Delaware DOE are incapable of initiating any change themselves, instead choosing to have contract after contract with companies that have not proven on a long-term basis that their education reforms are anything but smoke and mirrors. It is painfully apparent our Governor Markell is also unable to come up with anything by himself, instead relying on consultants to tell him how education in Delaware should be.

 

What Will Be The Big Delaware Education Stories When School Starts?

This is entirely based on predictions of my own and what I have seen people post in social media.  But I think some of these will come up quite a bit in conversation!

Smarter Balanced Assessment Scores: These should be out in mid-September or later.  We will know what the true opt-out numbers are for Delaware, along with if the test was a success or if Mark Murphy’s predictions of 70% non-proficiency were on the mark.  Or maybe they were even worse.  If the scores are low, we will get the very Markellian chant of “C’mon guys, it’s only the first year.  There were some flaws, but we have our top people on it.  But it’s very important that we have this data so we can see where our greatest needs are.”  Murphy will agree, as will the State Board of Education, and the DOE, and the Delaware Business Roundtable, and so on and so on.

Charter Schools: there will be at least one major charter story involving financial abuse of taxpayer funds.  I’m just going with the trajectory here folks!  At last count, there are still six more reports coming from the State Auditor’s office, none of which involve traditional school districts, all charters.

Wilmington Redistricting/Priority Schools: This will be the hotbed of activity in Delaware education this fall.  A lot of the Red Clay Consolidated School District’s demands for this will be adequate funding.  But with the state not even giving Red Clay the promised priority school amounts, will Red Clay be willing to take a chance like this?  And will Christina, already having many financial issues, be willing to just give up all their Wilmington schools?  Will any 3rd parties enter the landscape?

Opt-out/Refuse The Test Delaware: This could go either way.  People want the General Assembly to override Markell’s veto of House Bill 50.  But they are still very angry about the veto.  Will the release of SBAC scores cause more parents to join the Refuse crowd?  And will the Refuse crowd get a bit more aggressive when the stories start about schools bullying parents?

Christina School District: Anything can happen here.  Add some board turmoil, a Superintendent review, funding cuts, teacher layoffs and whatever else comes down the pike, and this will be a cauldron of controversy.  Can the district unite and come together to blaze a new and daring path?

Delaware DOE: They are going to do something that makes people upset.  It’s what they do and it comes with the territory.  But with everything they did in the past year, will the School Accountability Report Card push districts to the edge?

Rodel/Vision 2099/etc.: They will announce a brand new marketing push to help get the students of Delaware where they need to be in the next ten years.  For the weeks following this, we will hear numerous people saying “didn’t they just do this last year?”

ESEA Reauthorization: The U.S. House and Senate will come together and go back and forth adding and subtracting from a joint bill.  Will opt-out still be in play?  How much power will the US DOE lose at the end of the day?  Will the compromises not really change much at all?  And whatever happens, will President Obama even sign it?

Governor Markell, Deliverology, & A British Knight: The Heart of Delaware Corporate Education Reform

Diane Ravitch wrote an article yesterday about an individual in the corporate education reform movement who is probably one of the biggest faces behind the agendas unleashed on an unwitting public.  What are his strange ties to Delaware’s Governor Jack Markell?  For one thing, they both have the same company on their résumé: McKinsey & Company.  Long before Jack Markell made his mark in Delaware government, he served as a consultant for McKinsey & Associates, based out of Chicago.  Another familiar face worked there as well starting in 2001: Sir Michael Barber.

Barber served as an education policy analyst for British Prime Minister Tony Blair.  He then went on to McKinsey in the same capacity.  Now he is the Chief Education Advisor for Pearson, the corporate giant in the education reform movement.  In 2011, Barber wrote the go-to book for the education reformers, along with McKinsey employees Andy Moffit (husband of Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo) and Paul Kihn (Deputy Superintended School District of Philadelphia).  “Deliverology 101: A Field Guide For Educational Leaders” talks about the ways these reformers can manipulate the public consciousness.

Many of the quotes from Barber in this book are very similar to public comments made by  Governor Markell with regards to education:

Barber: parents and activists who challenge the corporate education reform movement are “defenders of the status quo”

Markell: from a press release on the creation of the Wilmington Education Advisory Committee, 9/25/14: “We must not accept a status quo in which students in our most disadvantaged communities fall further and further behind each year.”

Markell: from his keynote speech at the Imagine Delaware Education forum, “I, and I know that many of you, refuse to throw up our hands and say that we can’t truly improve education in our schools as long as poverty exists. That’s a recipe for the status quo.”

Barber: “The risks of inaction are greater.”

Markell: also from the Imagine Delaware Education forum, “Inaction is not an option.”

While the parallels in speech bear an uncanny similarity, the thought processes in “Deliverology 101” are downright scary.

Nicholas Tampio, a political science professor at Fordham University, wrote an article here about Barber and the corporate education reform strategies discussed in “Deliverology 101.”

“The authors define “deliverology” as “the emerging science of getting things done” and “a systematic process for driving progress and delivering results in government and the public sector.” The book targets systems leaders, politicians who support education reform and delivery leaders, employees responsible for the day-to-day implementation of structural change.”

This is Delaware education in a nutshell.  With Common Core and standardized testing, these are designed to move Markell’s agendas forward.  He uses certain legislators, business leaders, and an entire Department of Education in Delaware to issue his reforms.  Those who stand against him are put down or humiliated, such as traditional school district teachers, parents, and some legislators.

“This spring, a prominent anti–Common Core activist tweeted, “I don’t think the Ed reformers understand the sheer fury of marginalized parents.” Barber understands this fury but thinks the “laggards” will come around once enough people see the positive results.”

Markell is constantly pumping up schools with great standardized test scores and beats down ones that don’t.  Whenever a “threat” arises to Markell’s goals, we can count on a rousing speech to deliver more of his education reform talk, to get around around the true issues.

“Deliverology alternates between painting a big picture of what needs to be done and offering maxims such as “To aspire means to lead from the front” and “Endless public debate will create problems that could potentially derail your delivery effort.”

And Diane Ravitch writes here:

“In a democracy, we do engage in “endless public debate,” but such debates slow down the reform train. That is why corporate reformers like mayoral control and state takeovers. They like one decider who can tell everyone what to do. Local school boards are not easy to capture, there are too many of them. Like ALEC, the corporate reformers want to bypass local school boards and give the governor–or a commission he appoints–total control.”

Governor Markell has absolute and total control of education in Delaware.  Take the University of Delaware Town Hall Common Core panel in January.  The Delaware DOE was set to attend the debate on Common Core, but Markell told them not to go at the last-minute.  His obsession with controlling the conversation, and if he doesn’t like the talk he is hearing, he will do everything in his power to change it.  This is what is currently happening with the parent opt-out movement in Delaware.  His response to parents speaking up is to take a hard look at other assessments instead of the one test parents hate.

The vast connections between Markell and Barber don’t stop at a book or McKinsey either.  In 2008, the Rodel Foundation of Delaware knew they needed a Governor to back their agenda.  With Markell lagging in the pools, Rodel purposely turned education into a topic.  To that end, they invited Barber to speak at a huge event called Delaware for a Global Economy: Making Vision 2015 Work.  Shortly after Markell’s inauguration, President Obama announced Race To The Top.  Markell quickly used McKinsey & Company’s Education Group led by Barber to develop Delaware’s Race To The Top application.

Barber’s ideas for education reform have spread throughout the world.  This quote from Barber’s Wikipedia page:

“In the summer of 2010, Barber teamed with leaders from the Education Trust and Achieve to found the U.S. Education Delivery Institute. This Institute works with leaders of K-12 and higher education systems around the United States to adapt the delivery concept pioneered by Barber in the Prime Minister’s Delivery Unit to drive American education reform efforts.

Based on this essay found in this article from The Guardian in 2012:

They see that mastery of the basics, while essential, is not enough. When I talk about the future of the curriculum, including not just knowledge but also ability to lead by influencing those around you, I find a ready audience among leaders of Pacific Asian systems. People understand too that while exams are important, the obsession with them among parents can be dangerous.

I find this to be very ironic on Barber’s mindset since he is the one behind the drive for corporate education reform at Pearson.  His viewpoint of parents is one he helped to create through his practices at McKinsey and Pearson.  And Governor Markell in Delaware is an all-too-willing partner in these endeavors.

Markell is deeply rooted in the corporate education reform movement, and has been for a long time.  This is his legacy and he will not tolerate any action or voice that attempts to block it.  But I think he underestimates the will and resolve of parents, teachers and organizations united in their attempts to stop him.  As the voices become louder, Markell is backing into a corner and his defensive postures becoming more diluted in the noise.

 

 

 

The Aspen Institute: How They Shape Delaware Education & Reap The Profits

The Aspen Institute is a think tank that deals with global issues with a very large emphasis on education.  Eight citizens of Delaware are part of its fellowship program: Governor Jack Markell, Secretary of Education Mark Murphy, Dr. Paul Herdman of the Rodel Foundation, Senator Chris Coons, Tom Kovach, Collin O’Mara, Chief Justice of the Delaware Supreme Court Leo Strine and Portia Yarborough with DuPont.  Mark Murphy’s predecessor Lillian Lowery is also a fellow.

Their website describes the organization as:

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, DC.  Our mission is to foster leadership based on enduring values and provide a nonpartisan venue for dealing with critical issues.

Their website gives nine areas where they deal with these critical issues: Community & Family Prosperity, Culture & Communication, Economy, Education, Energy & The Environment, Health, Justice & Equity, Philanthropy & Social Enterprise, and Security & Global Affairs.

The President and CEO of The Aspen Institute is Walter Isaacson, a former CEO of CNN/TimeWarner.  He also serves on the board for Teach For America.

They also happen to have some of the biggest movers in the corporate education reform movement: US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, KIPP Founder Richard Barth, Great Schools CEO Bill Jackson, Education Pioneers CEO Scott Morgan, LearnZillion CEO Eric Westendorf, ten of the biggest Teach For America executives in the country including COO Elisa Villanueva Beard, John Luczak with Education First Consulting, Senior Vice President Laura Slover of Achieve Inc., three executives from the Achievement First chain of charter schools, Leah Hamilton with the Carnegie Corporation, Relay Graduate School President Norman Atkins, Uncommon Schools CEO Brett Peiser and Managing Director Julie Jackson, no less than seven high level officials with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Ed Kirby with the Walton Family Foundation, Russlynn Ali and Shivam Mallick-Shah with the US Department of Education, John Bailey and Patricia Levesque with Foundation for Excellence in Education, Marc Porter Magee with 50CAN, CEO Jean Desravines of New Leaders for New Schools, Leslie Kerner and Larry Berger with Wireless Generation (now Amplify), COO Gloria Lee and three other associates with NewSchools Venture Fund, Co-founder Joann Gama of IDEA Public Schools (Charters), President Tim Daly with The New Teacher Project, Dan Katzir with The Broad Foundation, Founder John Danner of Rocketship Education, Executive Director Chris Eide of Teachers United, CEO Kevin Hall with Charter School Growth Fund, and CEO Eva Moskowitz of Success Academy Charter Schools.  All items in bold are explained below.

Add in companies like Google, Facebook, Goldman Sachs, Foot Locker, Bank Of America, J.P. Morgan,  McKinsey & Company, IBM, Johnson & Johnson, and many more.

So what does a fellow do at the Aspen Institute?  They have projects they work on for the betterment of their chosen area.  For Governor Markell, Paul Herdman and Mark Murphy, they are all in the education sector.

Markell’s project is below: Continue reading

Who Shot The Blogger? The Uhm, Winner Revealed! And the Shocking Twist!

*please note, the final suspect of the Who Shot The Blogger storyline is not really a suspect of anything but destroying public education in Delaware, letting a lot of money go to waste at our DOE, and I’m sure other people can think of other stuff.

Before we reveal who did me in, let’s go back to the police station!

Chief: Officer, I saw the results.  We have to make an arrest.  You ready?

Investigating Officer: I sure am Chief.  I was shocked.

Chief: He was my first pick.  I’m sure governors don’t like FOIA requests.

Investigating Officer: Yeah, but here’s the thing.  The blogger is still alive.

Chief: What did you say Officer Clueless?

Investigating Officer: We worked together on this.  We thought it would drag you out.

Chief: Drag me out of what Officer Soon To Be A Priority Cop?

Investigating Officer: Your affiliation with these evil bastards.

Chief: What are you talking about Donut Boy?

Investigating Officer: We know. I heard you talking on the phone before Christmas, to your master.

Chief: My wife?

Investigating Officer: No, Paul Herdman.

Chief: I’ve never talked to that guy in my life.

Investigating Officer: Don’t lie to me.  I wrote it all down. “I’m calling about joining your Vision Network.  I think we can make some changes.  When I’m reading, I can’t see Exceptional.” You do read his blog.  And you joined Herdman’s Vision thing.

Chief: You have got to be the stupidest son of a bitch to ever walk this planet.  I was calling the insurance company.  I need glasses you moron. You cooked all this up for that?

Investigating Officer: Oh my God.  I’m so embarrassed.  Can you forgive me?

Chief: But where’s the blogger?  I haven’t seen him, and whose body is that in the morgue?

Investigating Officer: We blocked his IP address from any computer or iPod you have, so you couldn’t see his new posts.  The guy in the morgue is some homeless hunter who we found behind Target.

Chief: You are suspended thirty days without pay Officer Hope You Like Dr. Oz.

Investigating Officer: I’m so sorry about this.

Chief: Get out of here you jackass!

The officer left and the Chief picked up the phone.

Chief: It’s me.  I know all about the plan.  I knew from the beginning.  He no longer has access to any computers.  He was getting too close anyways.

Unknown Voice: And he will stop writing? 

Chief: I think so.  Officer Kavips has been rendered mute at this point Governor Markell.

Markell: Thank you for all your hard work Chief Publius…

 

Rodel and Paul Herdman’s Vision For The Future

 

After reviewing my FOIA request to Governor Jack Markell, I started to wonder why I have more questions than answers.  Why was there such a disconnect between the Rodel Foundation of Delaware and the Vision Network in recent years?  It’s obvious Herdman runs the show for Rodel and Vision.  I began to question what the Vision Network has been up to. So I looked at the Vision Network website.  Take a good look at the Vision Leadership and Steering Committees.  Take a good long look at the names on here.

The Vision Coalition Leadership Team include members from a broad range of public, private, and civic groups. The members meet regularly to align efforts, evaluate progress, and sustain momentum. Membership on the Coalition’s Leadership Team has evolved over the past nearly ten years since its establishment, with all major stakeholder Delaware education organizations remaining committed to the plan and Coalition, and have sustained representation on its leadership group. Continue reading

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

murphyaaaah

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

lemon

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

images5MZ3RN0G

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

hammockmike

Part 3 of Christmas Presents for the Enemies of Delaware Public Education @KilroysDelaware @ed_in_de @RCEAPrez @Apl_Jax @ecpaige @Roof_O @DelawareBats #netde #eduDE #Delaware #edchat

touchette

First up is a man who is not known outside of the education world in Delaware.  But he will have a huge effect on the education landscape starting in March.  He is the spearhead of the Smarter Balanced Assessment at the Delaware DOE.  He is also a data freak.  Brian Touchette, we have found a more effective way for you to play with data.

datatoy

This is data you can play with anytime you want.  It can’t be used to close schools or judge teachers and students.  You can play with Data 24 hours a day, all week long.  But please, stop using our children as data.  They have individual minds.

ruszkowski

Next up is our surfer dude at the DOE.  As chief of the teacher effectiveness group, Chris Ruszkowski is tasked with finding ways to make teachers less effective by drowning them in professional development and more nefarious ways to make them look bad.  His plans didn’t work out too well in 2014 as 99% of teachers in Delaware were effective or better.  We know there is a contract bid for an evaluation of the system your group helped to create, but might we suggest something that has worked through the years?

ruskowskipresent

For your Christmas present, we thought you could benefit from a group skydiving gift certificate.  The key word here is group, as it takes a collaborative effort with all stakeholders to get results.  Demeaning and ridiculing our educators is NOT effective, and the only way you will ever get their respect is through something we like to call teamwork!

visionnetwork

For the group that can’t seem to figure out what year their conquest of Delaware schools will happen, we have a simple Christmas gift for you.  Like Mr. Touchette above, this is a vision you can play with anytime you like.  We just don’t want you sharing your vision with our state moving forward.  Your plan reeks with the stench of corporate education reform, and we grow tired of it.

This is Vision.  He’s an Avenger.  This will be his year, because he will be in the upcoming Avengers: Age of Ultron movie.  The Vision is a soulless android who can become intangible.  Kind of like your vision for education in Delaware.

IMG_20140716_210455

Exceptional Delaware Celebrates 6 Months!

It’s hard to believe Exceptional Delaware is already half a year old.  This little project officially began one Friday night back in June.  I spent a long time trying to figure out the name of the blog, and when it came to me it I knew I had to start it right away.

Back then, my focus was solely on special education in Delaware.  But once you open up a door, there can be many rooms.  I never in my wildest dreams thought I would write so much about the Delaware DOE, but there is a treasure trove of material to cover with them.  Almost every day recently.  I intend to focus on how our DOE is compared to the big picture in the country.  Delaware is it’s own bizarre little world at times, and it’s a lot like Cheers, where everybody knows your name.  But there are many outside forces that influence how things run in Delaware, more than I ever thought possible.  But they all filter through Governor Markell.

Special education is still the heart and soul of Exceptional Delaware.  Who would have thought special education would become an even bigger issue right after I started this?  They say timing is everything, and what with the Fed announcement about Delaware in late June, the IEP Task Force, changes to state law regarding special needs children and state assessments, and the virtual ignorance of special education by certain factions in Delaware, I picked a good time to start this adventure.

The next couple weeks will be VERY interesting.  The DOE is going to have a bad week next week.  And there will be fallout.  2015 is a year of Vision, because Vision told us that.  Everyone laughs at them, because they change their years so much.  But make no mistake about it, they did reach their goals for 2015.  The only problem is they aren’t the goals the public knows about.  Like any fine wine, certain things need to age a bit, but mark my words Rodel: I’m not done with you yet, not by a long shot!  But I am glad I caught your attention.

Thank you to all the readers: parents, teachers, legislators, citizens, DOE employees, and fellow bloggers.  This would be nothing without you!

Two Wheels, Same Bike: Conflict of Interest at the Delaware DOE @KilroysDelaware @ed_in_de @Apl_Jax @RCEAPrez @ecpaige @nannyfat @Roof_O @TNJ_malbright @DelawareBats @hanna_hurley #netde #eduDE #edchat #Delaware

Penny%20with%20Students1

Thanks to anonymous for getting this to me!  Our schools and DOE in Delaware have been slowly invaded by pro education reform individuals.  This is all backed by The Rodel Foundation of Delaware and The Vision Network.  Last Spring, the Delaware DOE hired Mrs. Penny Schwinn, a charter school leader from Sacramento, as the Chief Accountability and Performance Officer.  Months later, Mr. Paul Schwinn, her husband, has been hired as the Director of Leadership Development for the Delaware Leadership Project, which is funded by the Delaware DOE, Rodel and Vision.  I know the Delaware DOE wants family involvement, but this is a clear conflict of interest.  The wheels on the Schwinn go round and round…

Paul Schwinn

Paul Schwinn joined the Delaware Leadership Project as the Director of Leadership Development in 2014.   Mr. Schwinn began his teaching career in Baltimore City Public Schools in 2004 as a middle school social studies teacher.  During his tenure, all of his classes made significant gains on standards based assessments in world cultures, reading and math.  Paul also has experience in the charter school sector working with St. HOPE Public Schools in Sacramento, California.  During his tenure with St. HOPE, he served as a Teacher and Advisory Lead at Sacramento Charter High School, as the Founder and Principle of Oak Park Prep middle School, a Title I school that became the highest performing middle school in California whose students were a majority African-American in its first year of operation, and as the Principal of Sacramento Charter High School, also a Title I school.  As a result of his leadership at Sacramento Charter High School, the staff satisfaction rate nearly doubled from the previous year and the school set a record high of 92% of seniors accepted into a four-year university.  In addition to serving as a classroom instructor and school leader, Paul has served as a Professional Learning Community Facilitator with Teach for America in Los Angeles, and as a Graduate Student Instructor at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Penny Schwinn

Penny Schwinn is the Chief Accountability and Performance Officer. She is responsible for the Assessment, Accountability, Turnaround, Performance Management, Data, and Research and Evaluation offices within the Department. Penny leads this work with the core belief that transparently measuring school progress using comprehensive performance metrics is critical to driving student achievement.

Prior to her role in Delaware, Penny served as the Assistant Superintendent of Performance Management for Sacramento City Unified School District and the Founder of Capitol Collegiate Academy. As assistant superintendent in Sacramento, Penny developed the region’s first multiple-measure accountability framework through an extensive community planning process in partnership with the Office of Family and Community Engagement. This belief in performance management and the need to communicate openly with families grew from her experiences as founder of Capitol Collegiate, which achieved 98% proficiency within three years, as well as her early experiences working in schools in Sacramento, Oakland, and Richmond. She began her career in education as a high school teacher in Baltimore City and has also worked to build operational systems in the private sector.

Delaware Race To The Top, Hedge Funds & Millions Wasted: The Story of Rodel, Markell, Charters & The Vision Network

Dr. Paul Herdman  and Governor Markell have a long history in Delaware in the 21st Century.  Their collaborations have resulted in the biggest changes to education the state has seen in decades.  Name any education change since Markell became Governor, and Rodel’s been a part of it.  And they are making a lot of money off these changes!

As part of my blog, I find out information about education in our state, and recently Rodel had their latest Vision conference where they focused on personalized learning, with a whole education reform agenda yet to be revealed to the mass public, sponsored by a company called 2Revolutions.  Rodel has a long history in the world of corporate education reform.  But what if I told you they aren’t doing it for the love of education and students, but pure profit? Continue reading

Mark Murphy & Governor Markell Targeting Gateway & Reach! Making Room For Priority Charters?

In a shocking article yesterday, Kilroy’s Delaware announced the Delaware Department of Education and Secretary of Education Mark Murphy were targeting Gateway Lab School and Reach Academy For Girls.  Both these schools have struggled for many years with reaching the proficiency ratings from standardized testing.  My thoughts and predictions on this are below the DOE announcement from yesterday:

CHARTER SCHOOL ACCOUNTABILITY COMMITTEE ISSUES RECOMMENDATIONS ON REACH ACADEMY, GATEWAY LAB’S FUTURES

Secretary Murphy to make decision at December 18 State Board of Education meeting following public comment period

The Delaware Department of Education’s Charter School Accountability Committee today recommended not to renew Reach Academy and Gateway Lab School’s charters at the end of this academic year because of poor academic performance at both schools.

A public hearing is scheduled for December 10 in Wilmington with public comment accepted through that date as well. After reviewing the record, including public hearing transcripts, public comment and the CSAC recommendations, Secretary of Education Mark Murphy will make his decision regarding the schools’ futures at the December 18 State Board of Education meeting.

Should the Secretary and the State Board accept the committee’s recommendations and decide not to renew the charters, the state will assist families in finding other schools for the next academic year. The children may return to the district schools in their home feeder patterns or fill out the state’s School Choice application for another district or charter school. The application deadline is January 14, 2015.

Reach Renewal Information/Timeline
· Renewal report (April 2014)
· Academic Performance Review (September 9, 2014)
· Organizational Performance Review (October 1, 2014)
· Financial Performance Review (October 1, 2014)
· Renewal application (September 30, 2014)
· Public hearing transcript (October 8, 2014)
· Initial CSAC meeting (October 15, 2014)
· CSAC initial report issued (October 22, 2014)
· School response (November 7, 2014)
· Final CSAC meeting (November 17, 2014)
· Final CSAC report issued (November 24, 2014)

· Public hearing and close of public comment period (6 p.m., December 10, 2014, 2nd floor auditorium, Carvel State Office Building, 820 N. French St., Wilmington)

· Decision by Secretary Murphy at State Board of Education meeting (1 p.m., December 18, 2014, Cabinet Room, Townsend Building, 401 Federal St., Dover)

Gateway Renewal Information/Timeline
· Renewal report (April 2014)
· Academic Performance Review (September 9, 2014)
· Organizational Performance Review (October 1, 2014)
· Financial Performance Review (October 1, 2014)
· Renewal application (September 30, 2014)
· Public hearing transcript (October 8, 2014)
· Initial CSAC meeting (October 14, 2014)
· CSAC initial report issued (October 22, 2014)
· School response (November 7, 2014)
· Final CSAC meeting (November 17, 2014)
· Final CSAC report issued (November 24, 2014)

· Public hearing and close of public comment period (6 p.m., December 10, 2014, 2nd floor auditorium, Carvel State Office Building, 820 N. French St., Wilmington)

· Decision by Secretary Murphy at State Board of Education meeting (1 p.m., December 18, 2014, Cabinet Room, Townsend Building, 401 Federal St., Dover)

In other recommendations, the committee supported renewal of the following charter schools: Delaware Academy of Public Safety and Security, EastSide Charter School, Family Foundations Academy, Las Américas ASPIRA Academy and Odyssey Charter School.

According to last year’s September 30th Unit Count report, Gateway Lab School is home to almost 60% special education students.  Out of that population of 122 students, nearly 28% were listed as in intensive or complex categories.  It is very easy to see why this many students with disabilities would struggle with standardized testing, something the DOE, Murphy and Markell seem to ignore.  Rigor and special needs don’t mix well, never have, never will.  But the DOE, in its continued arrogance, seems to think these students will just magically rise to the occasion.

The timing is also very suspicious for this announcement.  A month and a half before the Christina and Red Clay Districts have to announce their intentions with the priority schools and the already soon-to-be-closed Moyer charter school was given the hangman’s noose, two other charters seem to be given a death sentence as well.  This is a lot of realignment in one county.  Reach has been a thorn in the DOE’s side for years, but Gateway is different.  Closing Gateway would send a crystal clear message to the special needs community that no one is safe from scrutiny in Delaware.  I’ve commented before about the very high population of special needs children in the priority schools, and now this.  It would not be surprising if a very huge charter school housing special needs children in Newcastle County became a reality.  There has already been a Facebook announcement of a planned charter school of this type for Kent County, in addition to Positive Outcomes.

The DOE is shifting the landscape to further their own agenda.  So far, nothing has been able to stop them in their endless quest to harm public education in Delaware.  No task force, union, PTA, or other groups have stopped them in anything since Governor Markell began his authoritarian reign.  They are making all their decisions based on DCAS scores which no longer mean anything since that is not the state assessment anymore.  Furthermore, many students at Gateway would most likely qualify for the DCAS-Alt assessment.  The DOE could care less because to think otherwise would show a level playing field.  If Rodel and Markell say to do it, they jump.  And yet, Delaware College Prep gets a pass even though they have not met proficiency in four years.  Yes, their charter is not up for renewal, but they must please someone in the DOE and the Governor’s office.  This just proves the DOE will use data and manipulate it when it suits their needs.

I anticipate the parents at Gateway will cause a huge ruckus over this announcement.  This needs to be a warning sign to EVERY special needs parent in Delaware that has children in our public schools.  The DOE does not care about disabilities.  They do not care about anything that could affect your child.  It’s all about serving their masters and corporate profit at student’s expense.  They are moving so fast with decisions, the public can’t digest yesterday’s announcement when another one comes.  This throws everyone off track and stops the negative chatter because nobody can keep up with it all.

I will say this once more: We need to make a stand against Governor Markell and the DOE.  We need to do this now.  If you are in agreement, let’s start planning now.  We will only get one chance before things change so much we will be helpless to stop it.  Yes, I can be very argumentative about these things, but how often have I been wrong since I started this blog?  Come January 1st, I predict Markell will announce the priority schools will become charter schools, effective August 2015.  The student populations that don’t go to the feeder schools of the six priority schools, Gateway, Moyer and Reach will all transfer to the new charter school chain in the CEB Tower in downtown Wilmington.  If they do not make a new special needs charter school in this building, these students will go to their feeder schools where the DOE will use the data from Smarter Balanced to judge those schools as failures.  Eventually, they will replace every single school with charter schools while Rodel, the Vision Network, the DuPonts, Delaware Community Foundation, Governor Markell, select members of the DOE, many legislators, and the millionaires of Delaware become VERY rich, more than they already might be.

Governor Markell, The Priority Schools Aren’t Failing, It’s You, Rodel, Vision & DE DOE @KilroysDelaware @ed_in_de @RCEAPrez @Apl_Jax @ecpaige @Roof_o @nannyfat @DelawareBats #netde #eduDE #edchat #Delaware

Governor Markell, this article is written just for you.  It’s about those pesky priority schools up in Wilmington that serve as a thorn in your side.  I’m guessing you thought the Christina and Red Clay districts would roll over and play dead concerning your labeling of these schools as a failure.  And they would give you whatever you wanted.  Or you knew there would be resistance, and you have planned accordingly in regards to that.

Yesterday, the Delaware internet saw Penny Schwinn’s presentation to the DOE about the priority schools.  It was very insulting to those districts.  This isn’t the first time Mrs. Schwinn has shamed parts of Wilmington.  Just listen to the August Board of Ed meeting and you’ll know what I’m talking about.  Your desire to please the US DOE and President Obama has resulted in more changes to education than this state has seen in a long time.  And they aren’t good changes.  You have insulted the integrity of education with your love for Common Core, charter schools, Rodel, The Vision Network, and Arne Duncan.  The collateral damage is in effect now, and low-income students, special needs students, educators, administrators, school boards, and parents bear the brunt of your executive decisions.

But there is a bright spot on the horizon.  You can’t see it yet, but it’s coming.  I’ll let you ponder on that for the next day, week, month or however long it takes.  In the meantime, if you haven’t read it yet, I strongly encourage you to read Mike Matthews editorial in today’s News Journal: http://www.delawareonline.com/story/opinion/contributors/2014/11/15/teachers-must-deal-studies/19089451/?sf33725066=%5B%271%27%5D

Mr. Matthews is a brilliant educator, and a kind and compassionate person.  He speaks from the heart, as much of your opposition does.  That’s the one thing you won’t ever be able to take away from people in Delaware who know what you are up to.  Which is why the education game in Delaware will not be won by you or those you serve.  Greed and ambition are traits that will come back to bite those who serve this agenda.  It’s not about the students, and people are opening their eyes to this.  In the coming weeks, more eyes will open.  This race to the top has put you on top, as well as the DOE, and all those who have profited from President Obama’s long-term blunder.  The wind is changing Governor Markell, and I can’t wait for the people of Delaware to take back education.

I lost any respect I may have had for you (and it wasn’t a lot), when you vigorously went after the Christina and Red Clay priority schools with loathing and dictatorship at the recent Vision conference.  Many felt the same way.  You are losing the smooth edge you have utilized throughout all this, and I think the people are starting to see your Achilles Heel.  Are you?