Delaware DOE training film: How to deal with School Boards.

FYI here is a legend:
Code Red is Race to the Top.
Jack Markell is Nicholson.
Kilroy is Tom Cruise.
Pvt. Santiago is Local control.

We are here! We are here! We are here! A Partnership Zone Production. #RTTT @GovernorMarkell

Today, the Delaware Department of Education named 4 schools to its much ballyhooed Partnership Zone (herein referred to as: the PZ). The Christina School District has two of the schools named to this zone: Glasgow High School and Stubbs Elementary School. Neither is a shocking surprise, but the motivations to include each is somewhat murky when compared to some others. For example, Stubbs is only two years removed from being a 4-5-6 school into a K-5 school, so the comparatives on testing are odd.  Anyway, there we are with 2 schools in the PZ.

The DOE began a PR campaign today with this gem:

Why are we calling the deployment of untested reforms an opportunity? Taking risks? Our children deserve to have more teachers and smaller class sizes, not plans that feed adult egos and lure people into a false sense of efficacy. Here’s a risk: take the 119 million and just hire educators in quantity to get our kids in smaller classes. Change the unit count rules and let us enter the hiring marketplace for educators in May, not July……

Where to begin…. A true partnership? Dr. Lowery, if this bypasses the local school board AGAIN, just like the entire RTTT process usurped our authority, this statement will confirm that the myths listed here ARE realities while your Realities are Fantasies. Evidence based? (I can’t wait!) Innovative? (means nothing if it doesn’t work) Rigorous? (Doing things longer and harder does not yield in education Dr. Lowery, it is about smarter)

Moving along we get more cool propaganda:

This one is very deceptive as the whole process has been very gotcha driven from a local control perspective. Parents have been completely marginalized by the Markell administration on the entire RTTT process, plan and implementation. With more artificial deadlines, this trend is set to continue….

That Respect arrow….WOW, can’t wait to see that one happen! I hereby pledge my complete openness and honesty and respect right now: RTTT is respectfully very flawed.

For those wondering about the models, here is a quick pic:

So after we go into our rooms and plan and plan and plan…here’s the handy dandy Secretary of Education holds ALL the cards flow chart:

I’m squinting….are school boards mentioned? Nope, shucks missed out again….guess local control is a fallacy in Delaware. The First State is the first state to tell elected school board members to go pound sand, once again I may add.

This may be my favorite slide….for once we get to the state of need a “Lead Partner” to run our PZ schools…check out the rules…..or lack thereof:


Experience: working in a school turnaround environment and working in high schools….whew, with a bar that high we are going to get AWESOME results!

Willingness: Operate under some but NOT most LEA procedures and regulations (so I can throw my board and district policy manuals in the trash Dr. Lowery?) Use some but not all LEA central office services (only the expensive ones? What are the rules here?)

Readiness: Ramp up quickly? (Define please!) Have excess cash or ability to raise capital quickly (going to give them taxing authority Jack?)

Check out the killer competencies: Execute a full community engagement plan (goals? Measurements? Scope?)  Transform the existing culture to create positive learning environment (DOE has plenty of experience transforming cultures and as we all know this one is a simple as a finger snap!)

Of course we end any quality PPT with the obligatory:

I have tons. Let’s see if the DOE if going to listen.

We are here! We are here! We are here!

Saying Goodbye to Mannywood (via Mike Scioscia’s tragic illness)

Saying Goodbye to Mannywood Say this for the 2+ years Manny Ramirez spent in Dodger blue: it was never boring. He was, at various points, both the most beloved Dodger we've seen in years (late 2008, when everyone had Manny-branded blue dreadlocks) and the most reviled (mid-2009, when he was suspended for PEDs and every self-righteous twit with a media pass fell over themselves to vilify him). It's hard, if not impossible, to recall another Dodger who ran the spectrum of emo … Read More

via Mike Scioscia's tragic illness

Tomorrow the DEDOE announces the much ballyhooed Partnership Zone as part of Delaware’s RTTT….

We don’t need no education……..
We dont need no thought control…….
No dark sarcasm in the classroom……..

Unproven Reforms are on the way!!!!!!!!!! Anyone who lines up against them is a criminal status quo“er”……

Newsflash: the status quo in education is constant upheaval. Our students will suffer under this construct, no doubt about it. The methods are simply and deeply flawed. As flawed as the grammar in this classic rock anthem!

We Dont Need No Education

Welcome Back……

I only know one welcome back song, and it’s about school……a teacher coming back to his roots……Brooklyn Style…this cover is a rare FULL VERSION of the SONG!

Welcome Back Kotter John Sebastian TV Theme Cover

And for those that like the original and Karaoke…..

AOL In2TV Welome Back Kotter TV Karaoke

Can Our Schools Run on Duncan?, an RTTT breakdown! #RTTT #EPICfail #tragedy #HurtsKids

Can Our Schools Run on Duncan?

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan pushes Chicago’s ineffective reforms on America’s children.

By David Moberg

On July 22, a boy plugs his ears while Secretary of Education Arne Duncan makes remarks at the ‘Let’s Read. Let’s Move’ summer enrichment series at the Department of Education in Washington, D.C.

The theory that supports treating education as a marketplace is flawed, as is the practice. When faced with performance incentives, people typically end up gaming the system.

When President Barack Obama announced that his choice for Secretary of Education was Arne Duncan, chief executive of the Chicago Public Schools, he extolled his basketball buddy as a pragmatic, successful school reformer. “He’s not beholden to any one ideology,” Obama said, adding that Duncan would speak with authority based on “the lessons he’s learned during his years changing our schools from the bottom up.”

As a critic on the campaign trail of President George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act, Obama implicitly offered Duncan’s efforts in Chicago as an alternative model of how his administration would improve American schools, particularly the most troubled.

But so far Duncan and Obama have only modified Bush’s education plans, retaining many problematic elements. The administration’s hallmark program, Race to the Top (RTTT), encourages states to adopt specified changes in a competition for money they desperately need. But it offers only $4.35 billion in the first two rounds for school systems that spend roughly $580 billion a year, $47 billion of which is federal aid. Yet by emphasizing this program, Duncan is pursuing dubious reforms that are not only likely to fail, but do real harm.

Obama claims that Duncan’s reform agenda is based on experience, but some of its key features remain untested—and those that have been tested have not worked well, if at all. Unfortunately, Duncan’s approach is rooted in an ideology that threatens America’s system of public education.
RTTT gives points to states if they meet specific requirements, doing the opposite of what Duncan says is the Obama administration’s objective—being tight on goals, loose on implementation. The policies Duncan urges states to implement in their quest for federal dollars include: expanding charter schools; linking teacher pay to student test scores; enabling districts to dismiss entire staffs of failing schools; weakening teacher tenure; and testing and tracking student performance even more stringently, albeit more comprehensively.

In late July, after a group of civil rights organizations faulted Obama for not proposing and funding an education strategy that aimed to help all students, Obama defended RTTT before the National Urban League as “the single most ambitious, meaningful education reform effort we’ve attempted in this country in generations.”

A dubious record

The track record of similar reform efforts in Chicago and across the nation, however, is too spotty to justify pushing them on every financially desperate school district.

Under pressure from Chicago’s school reform movement, in 1988 the state legislature devolved many responsibilities of the central administration to elected local school councils (LSCs) that hired principals and exercised modest budget authority. (I served on the LSC of Kenwood High School, which my children attended, as a parent representative between 1996 and 2000.) The councils worked well in about one-third of schools, satisfactorily in a third and poorly in another third. But in 1995, when the state of Illinois made Chicago’s mayor directly responsible for the schools, Mayor Richard M. Daley shifted power back to the central administration. Generally skeptical of government and a believer in the superiority of private business, Daley appointed superintendents—called “CEOs”—who identified with business groups like the Commercial Club, an elite business group that advocated corporate-style school management and a free-market education ideology.

Following a wave of magnet-school creation in the late ’90s, in 2001 Daley made Duncan CEO of Chicago schools. Duncan promoted charter schools and a controversial program known as “Renaissance 2010,” which involved shutting down poorly performing schools (mostly in black neighborhoods), dismissing all staff (including the lunch ladies), and reopening them, with or without the old student body.

Many of Duncan’s initiatives, and those like them, have not succeeded:

•In the most definitive national study to date, Stanford University researchers reported last year that only 17 percent of charter schools outperformed traditional public schools in math, with 37 percent faring worse than public schools and 46 percent measuring up equally. Chicago’s charters (without tenure protection for their mostly nonunion teachers) have performed better in math, but no differently in reading, than public schools. Chicago’s public magnet schools—where teachers have tenure and a union, but students compete for admission—scored much higher in both math and reading.

•Duncan’s much-touted RTTT encouragement of bonus payments to “good” teachers—to spur both teacher development and higher student test scores—had “no significant impact on student achievement or teacher retention” in Chicago, according to Mathematica Policy Research, a leading firm in assessing performance of social programs. (A study of a New York City merit-pay program also showed little effect on student performance.)

•RTTT priorities also reflect Duncan’s Renaissance 2010 plan—close schools, then reopen them as small schools or charters—and his “portfolio strategy,” the school plan equivalent of an investment portfolio of private and public educational “assets.” But studies by SRI International and the Chicago Consortium on School Research (affiliated with the University of Chicago) concluded that Renaissance 2010 schools only occasionally performed better than demographically similar schools and that the portfolio strategy yielded “no dramatic improvements.”

•Both Duncan and the Bush administration’s No Child Left Behind legislation encouraged increased reliance on standardized tests to measure student performance, thereby pressuring teachers to teach to the test so they and their students would “pass.” But strategies imposed on Chicago schools as a consequence for low scores—often against community and union protest—did not produce higher test scores, let alone better schools. Elementary school scores did rise sharply, but mostly because of a change in the test.

•The number of high school students who failed to meet grade-level performance remained between 69 and 73 percent from 2001 to 2008, the year before Duncan left Chicago for Washington. In 2009, the Commercial Club concluded that despite “moderate” elementary school gains, after all of Duncan’s policy changes, the city’s high schools remained “abysmal” and students were not prepared for success in college or beyond.

There were certainly individual school success stories, some of which do not manifest themselves through improved test scores. Chicago Public Radio’s Linda Lutton has reported on the night-and-day difference in atmosphere between a Renaissance 2010 school and one not similarly transformed. Yet the practical results of the policies pushed by Duncan and Bush in the last decade, now put forward in slightly different form by Duncan and Obama, do not merit repetition.

Market-style myopia

Ultimately, the issue is: How well do the students learn. But important ideological issues are at stake as well, such as, what should education achieve?

This question is at the heart of a longstanding battle between business-oriented educators, who want to churn out a ready workforce, and progressive educators, acting in the tradition of John Dewey, who believe schools should nurture well-rounded, independent-minded citizens.

Unfortunately, most Republicans and many Democrats, including some progressives, believe that the problems with American schools can be solved with more market-style policies, competition, financial incentives, charter schools, privatization, standardized testing and weakened teachers’ unions.

But the theory that supports treating education as a marketplace is flawed, as is the practice. Richard Rothstein of the Economic Policy Institute and others point out that few professionals in the private sector are paid for performance (except in finance, and that should be a cautionary example). And when faced with performance incentives, people typically end up gaming the system. In a 2003 study, economists Steven Levitt of the University of Chicago and Brian Jacob of Harvard found that as high-stakes testing increased, teachers were more likely to cheat, for example, changing student answers, giving students correct answers and teaching from illicitly obtained advance test copies.

The educational systems in the rest of the developed world, which famously outperform U.S. schools, are overwhelmingly public, highly unionized and protected from market-style funding. Even though American suburban schools vary dramatically, many of these schools—with unions and teacher tenure—perform so well that affluent families pick their homes partly on the basis of school quality.

A Chicago Consortium on Schools Research team led by Anthony S. Bryk recently published Organizing Schools for Improvement: Lessons From Chicago, the result of two decades of study. They found that successful schools had five essential pillars of support: educational leadership, parent-community ties, professional capacity, a student-centered learning climate and instructional guidance. The stronger these pillars, the more the schools thrived and test results improved.

Rather than focus on building complex systems that extend beyond the school, market-oriented reformers tend to focus on one factor—teachers. (See story, page 20.) Like most American managers, they see teachers, along with their unions, as a factor of production to be controlled, not as allies and resources for cooperation.

Americans across the political spectrum see education as a major solution to crime, inequality, unemployment and so on. But for decades, researchers have shown that the single most significant determining factor in students’ success in school is the socioeconomic status of their parents. (See Roger Bybee’s story below.)

That doesn’t mean poor students can’t learn. But their disadvantages—from untreated toothaches to constant transience of residence and school—can overwhelm even the best school.
What the children in America’s failing schools need is direct policy intervention to reduce inequality, to provide broader public services and to connect residents of very poor neighborhoods to jobs that pay a living wage.

What they are getting are Duncan’s questionable market-oriented reforms—reforms that often involve assaults on the public sector and organized labor. It’s a predictable shame when such nostrums are peddled by Republicans, a tragedy when embraced by Democrats.

Back to School, RTTT and Data Coaches….

Some news on Education Jobs bill (via Education and Community News from Home Town Delaware)

I recieved an email today that i thought I would pass some info from it on to those board members who may not have gotten, and those folks around the state who follow education issues. The Jobs bill not even dry and I guess one state tried to find a way to use the money to offset state shortfalls when this is specifically for education jobs. I am attaching a note sent out by USDOE on how to utilize the funds "Education Jobs Funds are only to be u … Read More

via Education and Community News from Home Town Delaware

New York wins Race to the $%^&!

If EDUJOBS $$ was spent correctly?

When EDUJOBS money gets tucked away for a rainy day, this is what you get……

The politics of EDREFORM in 2010… #rttt #DEDOE

Cartoon by Signe Wilkinson -

Mr. Bridges has done it right! Inspirational!

The commitment of educators indeed!

Off Topic: Baseball’s Best Ever announcer declares” “We’ll do it again!” #mlb #Dodgers

Vin Scully is coming back!


Common Core Standards are coming to save us!

Just so I really understand…we are failing in reading and math fairly consistently so we now are going to raise ourselves up to these “rigorous” standards informed by “business leaders”….and are “informed by other top performing countries so that all students are prepared to succeed in our global economy”. I am not sure enough words exist to demonstrate the fallacy that standards will fix what ails our schools. Our schools and our achievement problems are a symptom of a deep socioeconomic problem. We need small class sizes, not fancy misdirection like Common Core Standards, teacher leaders and data coaches…..

If it’s informed by business leaders, it’s just code for education has sold out again. Thanks Jack.

On another note, we sure do love the word “bold” lately. I think DEDOE and others use it to vilify the opposition and relegate their approach as weak. Did someone rewrite the dictionary to make bold mean good? effective? useful? right?……

Whew, I checked…still means this:

Main Entry: 1bold
Pronunciation: \ˈbōld\
Function: adjective
Etymology: Middle English, from Old English beald; akin to Old High German bald bold
Date: before 12th century

1 a : fearless before danger : intrepid b : showing or requiring a fearless daring spirit
2 : impudent, presumptuous
3 obsolete : assured, confident
4 : sheer, steep <bold cliffs>
5 : adventurous, free <a bold thinker>
6 : standing out prominently
7 : being or set in boldface

Nothing about good or right……or most importantly: works.

Dover – In a bold move to continue strengthening Delaware’s education system, the Delaware State Board of Education today unanimously approved the adoption of national Common Core Standards for English Language Arts and Mathematics.  This will mean more rigorous standards for students in Delaware classrooms.  Common Core Standards (CCS) are clear standards for what should be learned in every public school in every state in the Union.

The adoption of the Common Core Standards compliments an array of reform efforts underway in Delaware schools aimed at better preparing students for college and career success.

Delaware’s Department of Education (DDOE) launched a comprehensive review of academic offerings in classrooms across the state and proposed the incorporation of the Common Core Standards from kindergarten through 12th grade.  Adoption of CCS is the first step to strengthen the existing curriculum known as the DE Prioritized Curriculum. The DDOE is working with school districts to train teachers to incorporate the new standards into their lessons.

Some students will see changes resulting from implementation of Common Core Standards as early as the second semester of this school year.  For instance, some math now taught at the middle school level will start being taught one year earlier at the elementary level.  The 2011-2012 school year will reflect most Common Core Standard changes.

“Our children’s education is vital to their long term personal and economic success,” Governor Jack Markell said.  “A Delaware diploma should signal strength in any state in the country and any country in the world.  It should say our students graduated ready for success in the global marketplace.”

“English and Math are critical subjects that provide a foundation for all learning and can set children on a path to college readiness. These new standards will help all educators bolster the quality of classroom instruction and move us closer to the intensive reform needed in our schools,” Education Secretary Lillian M. Lowery said.

Lowery recently announced major reforms of education in Delaware in the statewide effort to make significant academic gains under the “Race to the Top” program.

The research-based Common Core Standards were developed in coordination with education and business leaders, parents, and other experts across the nation.  Governor Markell helped drive the common core standards effort and serves as co-chair of the Common Core Standards Initiative for the National Governor’s Association.

Delaware’s new curriculum standards:

  • Build upon strengths and lessons of current state standards known as DE Prioritized Curriculum;
  • Align with college and work expectations;
  • Include rigorous content and application of knowledge through high-order skills;
  • Are evidence and/or research-based;
  • Are clear, understandable and consistent;
  • Are informed by other top performing countries so that all students are prepared to succeed in our global economy.

The Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSSI) is a state-led effort coordinated by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO).  For additional information about the curriculum standards, please go to and click on the Spotlight prompt to view the Common Core Standards links.

They are free… unless you consider selling out public education to reforms who use unproven strategies free….

Delaware committed to the Common Core Standards as a major component of RTTT Grant Application. In fact, the DEDOE has held up disbursement of RTTT $$ pending the State Board of Education adopting the Common Core per RTTT application….. so the maps are free, but the price to pay is immense in my estimation…..

Common Core’s Curriculum Maps in English Language Arts were written by public school teachers for public school teachers. The maps translate the new Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for Kindergarten through 12th grade into unit maps that teachers can use to plan their year, craft their own more detailed curriculum, and create lesson plans. The maps are flexible and adaptable, yet they address every standard in the CCSS.  Any teacher, school, or district that chooses to follow the Common Core maps can be confident that they are adhering to the standards. Even the topics the maps introduce grow out of and expand upon the “exemplar” texts recommended in the CCSS.  And because they are free, the maps will save school districts millions in curriculum development costs. The draft maps are available for public comment until September 17. Please tell us what you think!


Special Education directors: high turnover….

What gives? Could lack of appreciation be involved?

News Journal article misses the mark on Autism and Christina.

Yesterday, 8/16/10, the News Journal published a  story on Autism:

The author, Mike Chalmers did attempt to contact me for the story among many others. We spoke briefly, but he had to cut off our conversation for an incoming call. I called back 4 times to no avail. The next time I touch the story it is reading it online yesterday.

To say I am disappointed is an understatement. The article begins with a secondary headline offering an opinion that the program is “out of district’s scope” and as I read the article to find out how or why, all I could find  was a proselytizing  statewide director making public declarations about a program he was hired to run as opposed to dismantle. As President of the Christina School Board, I must confess I am confused. This article carried the water for closure. Despite the inclusion of four families, it repeatedly returned to Dr. Winterling’s assertion that the program must cease while taking the Lord’s name in vain during  the process of labeling the program a liability nightmare. The solution is to send the children out of state, far from their families at massive DE taxpayer expense that does not represent any benefit to the state’s checkbook while assuring us with comments like “nobody’s going to be put in the street”.

I sent a message into Mike Chalmers today to express my disappointment at the News Journal and his story. He was defensive as any author would be expected to be and he took particular offense to my suggestion that his article went after families. I appreciate him getting upset, but as a parent of a young boy with autism I firmly believe that this article failed to challenge Dr. Winterling on alternatives. Dr. Winterling’s suggestion that the cost is between 150K-200K per annum is OK, but how about some discussion of how that gets changed and what services change if the homes are closed and “picked up” by the state and the DDDS with no budget and no homes to put the children into if such a closure occurs. I had this sense that the piece actually felt like a hit piece……perhaps I was right or perhaps I was wrong…..

Then today happened: the News Journal’s Editorial Board sticks its collective and addled brain into yet another situation it is woefully ill equipped to comment upon: Now I know the truth, it was the old 1-2 and the children in these homes that have been allowed to fall into physical and professional disrepair are lined up to be the victims of the Statewide Director and the News Journal staff and editors? The Christina School District has mismanaged these homes for many years. It has not been benign neglect, it has been from the willful, systemic, long term ignorance of children in need. These homes need a hero and fresh ideas, not scare tactics and fear campaigns. the issues being raised now predate this administration and board, yet we are the ones poised to confront the problem. Stories like this one do not help, they only serve to muddy the waters, create confusion, and directly contribute to the misinformation of the general populace. A great disservice has been done to DAP, its parents and most of all the neediest of our children in the last 24 hours.

I should have known better. The News Journal, it seems,  cannot be trusted.