Obama has long way to go on education reform #NCLB #RTTT #commonsense #Noguera

By Pedro Noguera, Special to CNN


President Obama should be applauded for keeping education at the top of the nation’s policy agenda at a time when so many other important issues — the ongoing recession, two wars, health care, etc. — demand his attention.

He was right to urge parents to do their part to reinforce the importance of education with their children, and he is to be commended for recognizing the important role of teachers who so often are blamed for the failings of our nation’s schools.

But Obama should be less boastful and more circumspect in describing what his administration has accomplished in education. When he declared that Race to the Top was “the most meaningful reform of our public schools in a generation,” he clearly went a bit too far.

First of all, only a dozen states received funding under this initiative, and there is evidence that rural states and states that lacked the resources to put together applications that met the federal government’s requirements — and in time for the deadline — were at a disadvantage.

Since the recession has forced several states to lay off teachers, close schools, increase class size and take other drastic measures to close budget deficits, the competitive approach to the grants created winners and losers at a time when students and schools are in need of help. It’s hard to imagine how schools can support the type of innovation the president wants when so many are struggling to do more with considerably less.

The president could have pointed out that as important as it is to raise academic standards, as 40 states have done in response to Race to the Top, that is the easy part. The hard part is figuring out how to help schools perform at that higher level.

There is no reason to believe that simply by raising standards, academic performance among students will increase, followed by higher graduation and college attendance rates. The hundreds of schools that Education Secretary Arne Duncan has labeled “dropout factories” are unlikely to be transformed simply because the bar has been raised.

The president must realize that in cities where the economy has collapsed and there is a shortage of good jobs — as in Detroit; Cleveland; St. Louis; Buffalo, New York; and Erie, Pennsylvania — schools lack the resources to improve and students increasingly lack the will to achieve.

Many don’t believe that if they do well in school, they will go to college and find a good-paying job. Those who haven’t given up know that if they are to have any chance at success, they will have to leave their communities and seek opportunity elsewhere.

These students and the schools they attend need help, not just higher standards. They need guidance and support on how to improve and transform — like Bruce Randolph High School in Denver, the school cited by the president for its remarkable turnaround. That may not be the job of the president or the federal government, but it better be someone’s job; otherwise, the educational renewal called for by the president will not occur.

Nine years after No Child Left Behind, we are still falling further behind. The law does not need to be tweaked and renamed, it needs to be scrapped entirely and replaced by a set of strategies that aim to replicate the successful schools that already exist in various parts of the country.

During his address, the president applauded South Korea, where teachers are referred to as “nation builders,” and he encouraged Americans to learn from their example. We should. Twenty years ago, South Korea was not even ranked among the leading nations for its educational performance. Today, it is near the top and surpasses the U.S. on most indicators of performance.

How did the South Koreans make so much progress so quickly? By recognizing that if you want great schools, you must make wise investments in personnel. Teachers there are held in high regard because they are very well trained. They don’t judge teachers by student test scores as does Race to the Top, and they don’t make it easy for those who are unqualified to enter the profession.

Rather, they provide robust training in the subjects they teach and in instruction. Senior teachers with a track record of effectiveness provide guidance, feedback and support to their junior peers. We should learn from the South Koreans.

To be clear: There was much that was good about the president’s speech. I particularly appreciate his call for fair treatment of young undocumented immigrants who are being denied a college education and the ability to contribute to the country they call home because their parents entered our nation illegally. Calling for a just immigration policy took courage and foresight, and I appreciate Obama’s willingness to take an unequivocal stand.

We need the president to take as strong and as clear a stand on education reform, one that goes beyond broad exhortations and begins to tackle the difficult social and economic issues that have contributed to our steady decline. I believe he can do it, and I know that as a nation, we need it.


Edreform in a nutshell.


As CSD moves closer to transparency, the state may be following our (Red Clay and Christina) lead….



Rep. Willis & Rep. Lavelle & Rep. Hudson & Sen. Katz & Sen. Lawson & Sen. Simpson ;


Reps. Manolakos, Ramone, Wilson, Kowalko; Sens. Peterson, Sorenson







Section 1.  Amend § 104(b), Title 14 of the Delaware Code by adding a new paragraph (13) to read:

“(13)       Digitally record all public meetings of the State Board of Education and make the recordings available to the public on the Department of Education’s website within one business day of each meeting.  These recordings are not official Board minutes, but are a means to enhance communication to the public and to State legislators.”.

Section 2.  This bill takes effect on September 1, 2011.


This bill requires that all public meetings of the State Board of Education be digitally recorded and made available to the public on the Department of Education’s website within one business day.  The recordings will not be considered the official Board minutes.

Red Clay Consolidated School District has been, as of September 2010, providing the public with digital recordings of their Board public session meetings via the District’s website.  The Christina School District School Board enacted a policy to provide digital recordings of their public session meetings and expects to be online in January 2011.


Medical Facility for the East Side on the way, CSD to grant use of space in School Support Center! #EastSide #BOE #Wilmington

Tonight, I cast one of 7 yes votes to allow Henrietta Johnson clinics establish a sliding scale health care clinic in our Drew Support Center at 600 N. Lombard Street in Wilmington. As I stated in public, this is a fantastic idea and I am very proud our Board decided so decisively to lead on the issue and approve this critical project to help enhance wrap around supports for our Wilmington children, students, familes and community at large. Affordable, accessible health care is a human right in my opinion and tonight the CSD BOE helped get it closer to a community that needs it desperately.

A proud moment indeed!

In honor of being called a coward on the dais again…… #CSD #BOE #Coward #OZ

All I can say is I that forging a new path for CSD is hard work, I am no coward, and I will not be shamed into voting as a rubber stamp. I was elected to oversee our administration and I intend to do the job asked of me by my constituents. Calling me or the new board a coward(s) in a public meeting does not make it so, it just exposes an inability to see the new direction of the BOE. As stated tonight, not by me, actions have consequences….all I can say is so do elections. I have been lied to and ignored frequently for the better part of 19 months, often by BOE members….and I am undeterred and remain ready to help us lead the way towards a viable and rich new governance paradigm.

As an homage……..an oldie but a goodie from May 2010: Leadership and Cowardice. Board Meeting 5/4/10-5/5/10.

Our Regular Board meeting lasted until 12:20AM as the Board had a very full evening, and as it turns out, morning. An auspicious start as we each had the pleasure of bestowing Outstanding Citizenship awards to 7 very worthy Christina community members who make a difference in our district above and beyond the call of duty.

The meeting then shifted to several key decisions and I will focus on 2: Code of Conduct and Teacher Terminations.

The code of conduct revision, the culmination of a 6 month process, was submitted for a second and final reading. A lively debate ensued which covered bus privileges, 24 hour notice rules for accused students at hearings, the appropriate punishment for arson, and a discussion about the fallacious policy of zero tolerance in which the word “optional” was used as a code word to argue that we should maintain the misguided sensibility that treating  each infraction the same is fair, particularly along the lines of disparate racial outcomes, when the statistics simply confirm that zero tolerance does just that: targets minorities and socioeconomically disadvantaged.

Late in the debate a motion to table the code of conduct was made, seconded, and carried 4 votes. I voted NOT to table it.

Teacher terminations. The administration recommended that the Board terminate 40+ educators as a move to maintain fiscal soundness for the district. While I take the responsibility to spend within our means wisely very seriously, I also am deeply troubled by the lack of information provided about spending that would fully inform such a decision. Essentially, I am asked to accept the district’s assertion that we operate with “no frills” and that there are no available cuts (even as little a one local share) to save even one job/position. Without access to data to satisfy my need to understand the picture appropriately, I did not support the vote to terminate (4 yes, 2 no, 1 abstain). At one point, my actions were described as lacking courage by a fellow board member. I could not disagree more. I would loved to have secured a third vote, even if designed to make my vote look irresponsible in order to force the district to make these cuts elsewhere. Alas, the vote was along traditional historical lines: business as usual…a position I ran against when I ran for this office.

I guess I could possible accept the label as Cowardly Lion for a no vote, but what then for yes votes?

Finally, there was a public comment regard a FOIA petition that fellow board member Elizabeth Scheinberg and myself submitted in March. The comment indicated that the ruling was in our favor. The President responded, as he was targeted by the comment. I just want to say the plain truth is that the AG ruled in our favor and indeed found that the board did hold an illegal meeting and failed to document an otherwise legal meeting on a consistent, recurring, basis. The public commenter, in my opinion, was factually correct.

That’s all I can recall for now, I may edit this entry for more detail later in the week.

Continuing news coverage: http://blogs.delawareonline.com/delawareed/2010/05/05/a-long-night-the-debate-continues/

More: http://blogs.delawareonline.com/delawareed/2010/05/06/protest-planned-at-christiana-high-school/

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Why are outsiders lining up to lobby the New Governor of Rhode Island and why is Rodel a signatory????

Is there any doubt the $$ fix is in when it comes to edreform?

D.C. Schools Insider – Harvard group to evaluate IMPACT #RolandGFryer #Broad #ConflictofInterest #WAPO

D.C. Schools Insider – Harvard group to evaluate IMPACT


The Harvard think tank that experimented with paying D.C. middle schoolers for good grades and behavior will also study the IMPACT teacher evaluation system. DCPS confirmed late Wednesday that the Education Innovation Laboratory at Harvard University, aka EdLabs, is the mutual selection of the District and the Washington Teachers’ Union to conduct an independent evaluation of the evaluation. EdLabs is headed by Roland G. Fryer Jr., the economics professor who has been studying the effects of cash awards on students in D.C., Chicago, Dallas and New York.

An independent look at IMPACT is provided for in a side letter to the collective bargaining agreement signed last year by DCPS and the union, which has major objections to the system. I might be missing something, but on the surface at least, Fryer seems like a peculiar choice. He’s clearly a rising star–one of the youngest Harvard profs to win tenure–but much of his published work involves the achievement gap and race-based economic and social issues. His papers include “An Empirical Analysis of Acting White” and “The Causes and Consequences of Distinctively Black Names.”

The other issue is EdLab’s “partners,” or financial backers. They include at least two of the private foundations providing some of the tens of millions for the performance pay bonuses that are a central element of IMPACT. They include the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation the John and Laura Arnold Family Fund. They might like IMPACT just the way it is.

While Fryer’s selection may have been a mutual decision by DCPS and the Washington Teachers’ Union, WTU’s sign off apparently came from George Parker before he left office in early December. His successor, Nathan Saunders, said this afternoon he knew nothing about Fryer until a few days ago, when he approached DCPS about starting the process of selecting an independent IMPACT evaluator.

Saunders said he had serious questions about Fryer’s suitability for such a critical task, especially in light of his status as “a recent contractor” with DCPS who is “very friendly toward the Rhee agenda.”

“This is absolutely not a dead issue,” Saunders said.

Fryer’s voice mail at Harvard is full and not taking messages. A phone message to EdLabs was not returned Thursday. Whatever reasons DCPS has for wanting Fryer, it is keeping to itself for the moment.

“We won’t be saying anything more about Fryer at this time,” said spokeswoman Safiya Simmons. That includes any details about exactly how deep Fryer will be diving or how long he’ll take. It matters because the issue is heating up politically, given Mayor Vincent C. Gray’s recent comments questioning IMPACT’s fairness to teachers in high-poverty schools.

The cash-for-grades initiative, called Capital Gains, ran for two school years (2008-09 and 2009-10) and involved about 3,000 middle schoolers, who earned up to $100 a month. Fryer’s assessment of the first year found that the money led to higher reading test scores for Hispanics, boys and students with behavior problems. But the overall effect, however, was less significant and Fryer acknowledged that the relatively small sample made it difficult to draw strong conclusions. Former Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee, who brought Fryer to D.C., said she liked the program but that budget issues made it difficult to continue. Cap Gains is not running in the current school year, although DCPS has never formally announced that it has been discontinued.


Being a Delawarean is not a native attribute….

but I’ve never been prouder as a Delawarean to be involved in the decisions that affect the education of the children of the Christina School district, from Newark to Wilmington, they are all of our children! Helping to mitigate the the blight of poverty and rise above the petty politics of race is rewarding work and I’m proud to be actively engaged in the solutions that will bring opportunity to those who need it the most, our students, all of them!

New Report on school spending out today #CSD




District State
Low income 43% 39%
Special education 19% 17%
Limited English proficient (LEP) 8% 6%
White 39% 57%
Black 43% 31%
Hispanic 13% 10%
Asian or Pacific Islander 5% 3%
American Indian or Alaskan Native 0% 0%


Amount Amount per student Percent

Total revenue:

$257,222,000 $15,451
Revenue by source
Federal: $17,301,000 $1,039 7%
State: $131,484,000 $7,898 51%
Local: $108,437,000 $6,514 42%

Total expenditures

$280,884,000 $16,810
Total current expenditures $235,726,000 $14,098
Instructional expenditures $143,041,000 $8,530 61%
Student and staff support $16,295,000 $979 7%
Administration $28,521,000 $1,713 12%
Operations, food service, other $47,869,000 $2,875 20%
Total capital outlay $24,852,000 $1,493
Construction $24,526,000 $1,473
Total non-elementary and secondary education, and other $1,699,000 $102
Interest on debt $3,437,000 $206

Other fiscal indicators

District District rank in the state State’s lowest-spending districts* State’s highest-spending districts** Range of spending in the state***
Per pupil expenditure, unadjusted: $14,098 14 out of 15 $9,628 $14,641 $5,012
Per pupil expenditure, after adjusting for differences in cost of living: $13,325 10 out of 15 $9,194 $17,969 $8,776
Per pupil expenditure, after adjusting for differences in cost of living and student needs: $9,463 9 out of 15 $7,602 $13,115 $5,513

* 5th percentile of per pupil expenditures

** 95th percentile of per pupil expenditures

*** The difference between the 95th and the 5th percentile

Sources and Notes: For achievement, we looked at the percent of students scoring proficient or above according to state-defined proficiency standards for each grade. In the demographic section, the state average represents the average value for that indicator for all of the districts included in our analysis. In the achievement section, the state average represents the average score for all of the districts in the state.

For spending and demographic information, we relied on 2008 data complied by the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics. For overall school district achievement results, we used 2008 data complied by the New America Foundation’s Federal Education Budget Project, and for district achievement data disaggregated by student subgroups, we relied on 2008 data from GreatSchools, a California-based company that publishes school performance data. A small number of states and districts were missing data for certain demographic indicators, necessitating the use of proxies. For more information on our sources, use of proxies, and our approach to calculating educational productivity, please consult our detailed methodology.

Comptetitive Grants? #youdecide #equity #civilrights #NAACP #Wilmington

If education is a civil right, children in “winning” states should not be the only ones who have the opportunity to learn in high-quality environments. Such an approach reinstates the antiquated and highly politicized frame for distributing federal support to states that
civil rights organizations fought to remove in 1965. With the creation of the ESEA as a part of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s War on Poverty, the federal government took the first steps toward requiring an equitable distribution of funding among states. Shifting the
emphasis from competitive grants to conditional incentives can preserve those gains. Incentivizing behavior through limited competition, in and of itself, is not a bad strategy, but we must go further to recognize that many states and districts in our union will not compete, either because they do not have the capacity or because they lack the political will. This increases the likelihood that better-resourced states and communities will win out. For these reasons, a competitive framework does not go far enough to ensure equity.

Read on…..

More insanity…… #RodelStyle

First State places itself to be leader in US education | delawareonline.com | The News Journal


 In 2010 Delaware staked a claim as a national leader in public education. In 2011, our collective challenge is, can we deliver? 


 Delaware’s first-place win in President Obama’s federal Race to the Top grants competition (Why should education be governed by a comptetition…doesn’t comptetition mean there will be losers? Tell me Rodel, which kids should should lose?) came with a promise of sweeping change and $119 million. It also came with the backdrop of increasingly steep competition in the international job market and one of the worst economic recessions in our lifetime. The challenges to our schools are significant, yet the opportunity for change couldn’t be better. 

 The state’s education plan has been lauded by U.S. Education secretary Arne Duncan and highlighted in every major news outlet from The New York Times to NBC. (In a scripted attempt to shine Duncan’s legacy as a complete FAILURE as a reformer) Now, nine months later, the initial fanfare of Race to the Top is over and work is in full swing. Much is happening under the radar, yet it is happening. 

 The state is working hard to redesign everything, from how it measures student success to how it recruits, evaluates and trains every one of its thousands of teachers and hundreds of principals. It is identifying systematically its lowest performing schools and working with local partners to redesign those schools from the ground up. Delaware has just adopted world-class academic standards (Huh? Really?) , so our students can compete with the world’s best students (How about can read and write first?) .


Read on…..

Editorial wrong on limiting state workers’ benefits | delawareonline.com | The News Journal #Kowalko #Jaques #Osienski

Editorial wrong on limiting state workers’ benefits | delawareonline.com | The News Journal


 In light of your Jan. 11 editorial on the state employee benefit reduction proposals, we feel obligated to question and clarify some of the speculation in that piece. 


 Quite frankly, we feel the conclusions you have drawn are unsubstantiated and denigrating to our public employee work force.

Your editorial board’s failure to recognize the responsibilities and obligations of the public sector employee to provide necessary and legally required services for all the taxpayers of Delaware is apparent in your statement that alludes to a lack of productivity and a failure to generate revenue by comparison with private industry. There is no logical reason to think that providing services, demanded of the government by its taxpayers, can in any way generate a revenue stream. Additionally, accusations of a lower productivity level inherent in the public work force’s efforts are unfounded, unjustified and display a callous disregard for the work ethic of an overburdened group.

The inference that the greed-motivated business plan of some in the private sector to cut benefits and wages and deny a decent pension plan to their employees, while accepting TARP money that these corporations distribute, almost exclusively to their dividend holders and executives, has dominated the attempt to demonize government employees. Too often when tax revenues are up, cuts are implemented that are to the advantage of the wealthier and this is evidenced in a review of the most recent federal and state tax cuts.

When tax revenues inevitably decline, especially in recessionary times with heavy job losses, state employees are expected to endure reduced benefits and/or wages although they haven’t benefited from the aforementioned “tax cuts.”

This type of unfair demonization of a valuable and necessary group of public servants by the media or anyone else looking for a scapegoat for the anger of a public, shaken by a seemingly endless recession with record joblessness, is exactly what must be avoided to enable a civil, fact-based discussion on the issues.

Rep. Earl Jaques, 27th House District, Rep. John Kowalko, 25th House District, Rep. Ed Osienski, 24th House District
Thank you Reps for going after the addled News Journal Ed. Board!!



So much for civility in Delaware…. #BillOberle #DelDems #CSD #BOE

Today, the Christina School District announced that the Board of Education has decided (on 1/4/11) to rename the inaccurately named Porter Road Elementary at 500 Caledonia Way in Bear, DE as William A. Oberle, Jr. Elementary effective with the 2011-2012 school year. Later in the day today,I received this:


From: Hopkins Melissa T (LegHall)[SMTP:MELISSA.T.HOPKINS@STATE.DE.US]

Sent: Wednesday, January 19, 2011 4:27:14 PM


Subject: FW: Christina Elementary School to be Named for William A. Oberle, Jr.

Auto forwarded by a Rule

Mr. Young,

I was hoping you could help me understand the renaming of the Porter Road Elementary School specifically and renaming of schools in general.  What is the process for the renaming of a school?    How are the names chosen?  Who has the final decision for the renaming?  Is there a meeting to discuss decide?  What are the noticing requirements for those meetings?

I appreciate any assistance you can provide.

All the best,



Melissa Hopkins

Legislative Aide — Democratic Caucus

Delaware House of Representatives

820 North French Street, 11th Floor

Wilmington, DE 19801


Legislative Hall

Dover, DE 19901



Please visit us on the web at www.dehousedems.com<http://www.dehousedems.com/>

After receiving this note I called Melissa, who was very nice and polite, and asked to better understand her request vis-a-vis who specifically was asking to know the information she requested. This was met with “I’d rather not divulge that to you, can’t you just respond” and “why won’t you answer the question” as I rejoined “because I want to answer the questioner”

Accordingly,  I formally responded via email as follows:

I will be happy to answer the question to whomever specifically has the question. I am available at 302.709.1795. As an elected school board member, we have a non-partisan electoral process. As such, my concerns have been raised just from our conversation about not wanting to divulge the name of the legislator(s) (presumably) interested in the answer. I may post the answer to these questions on my blog so all parties have equal access to them. I loathe the political implications of answering one group and not another when we (the board) frankly are volunteers and not party champions.
John Young
So I have chosen to answer these questions here and offer commentary:

What is the process for the renaming of a school? There is no formally defined process, it has been ad hoc.

How are the names chosen? It depends on the nature of the ad hoc process being used. It has been by assigned committee consensus for example and the Board of Education exercises an approval process via vote. In this case it was an organic process of recommendations to the board, surveys and ultimately a motion put forth and a vote at a public meeting on 1/4/11. For example Christina has a proud tradition of naming schools for influential leaders in our district and state in the area of education, just like Rep. Oberle.

Who has the final decision for the renaming? The Christina School District Board of Education by a majority vote of four members, solely.

Is there a meeting to discuss decide? Yes.

What are the noticing requirements for those meetings? 7 days, pursuant to Delaware Open meeting law (here:http://delcode.delaware.gov/title29/c100/index.shtml#10004) section e(2). CSD notice and agenda here: http://www.christina.k12.de.us/BOE/Meetings/2011/Posting-Agenda/0104.pdf



I am deeply concerned that some Democratic Legislator is about to pursue this as a purely political concern. School Boards operate in a non-partisan manner by definition. Rep. Oberle lives in Christina and has served the cause of education admirably and tirelessly for 34 years. He has earned this great honor by his deeds not his party. Any Representative or Senator or Governor for that matter who wishes to call me to discuss may do so directly at (302) 709-1795.

I would be more than happy to discuss any points regarding our decision. Politicizing it would be a tragic mistake in my opinion.

Community Crossfire Recap 1-16-11 #Channel28 #Wilmington #JeaStreet

On Sunday evening, I had the opportunity to be on a local cable access show: Community Crossfire hosted by Norman Oliver. I was on a 30 minute segment with New Castle County Councilman, Jea Street, regarding schools and the school board of the Christina School District. Jea and I have met twice prior to this show and have appeared together on this show just one time: Sunday night.

Apparently, two weeks earlier, Mr. Street indicated that he believes that the CSD Board of Education is acting in collusion with the NEA local, the CEA, to oust our current Superintendent, Dr. Marcia Lyles. The primary foundation of his belief is a public vote taken on 11-30-10, in which the Board of Education voted to not extend Dr. Lyles’ current contract beyond its expiration date of June 30, 2012. To clarify, Dr. Lyles contract contains a legacy clause that creates an automated renewal absent board action prior to 12/31/2010. This time line is not congruent with all other CSD contracts which permit a renewal to occur by December 31st of the year immediately precedent to the contract expiration in June. The action was taken to achieve that congruence. I submit that Jea Street’s comment is wholly without merit.

Mr. Street has decided, with absolutely no foundation, to delve into the hearts and minds of 7 public officials and ascribe racially based motivations to our votes. I don’t pretend to know what is in the hearts and minds of others, I believe Jea Street should follow that same sage advice. For Mr. Street to announce that we should fire all of our Wilmington teachers belies that he does not seem to have any true understanding of how disruptive change can destroy schools and communities. I was not a part of the CSD school boards that did so many of the things of which Mr. Street so appropriately objects; therefore, I am in no position to defend the sins of our past.

I wouldn’t defend them anyway.

Instead, I would implore Mr. Street to get to know the current board members and decide objectively based on many many factors how he feels about them and their votes. The children of Wilmington and Newark depend on us to fight for them. Sometimes that means adults will end up fighting with adults and that’s OK. The CSD has a checkered past and has not earned the right to ask its constituents to trust us so I won’t, but I will ask those who are interested to take a look at the “new” board. We are breaking the mold. We are ruffling feathers. We are fighting, often with each other. In our votes, I believe you will find a purity of soul and a will and resolve that will not let any adult get in the way of our children and their success. This board did not follow on the code of conduct, we lead. We have deployed a recording policy to enhance our open meetings obligations. Several of us have lodged votes against profligate spending. This board boldly approved a referendum for voters who followed our lead.Are we perfect? Hell no! Are we kicking and screaming and working hard to be better? I believe this is a resounding yes! We will make some more mistakes along the way? I’m sure, but we will also not stop until we get this district right.

For example,I believe Councilman Street is dead on right with this letter and his “Street Sixteen”. In fact one board member tried to offer a creative Partnership Zone solution to make item number one come (on page 3 of the document below) to a reality…again we are trying hard…

This board has done more for the children of Wilmington than the boards of the last 15 years in my opinion and we are poised to live up to our continuing obligation to provide equity and excellence in Wilmington knowing full well it will take more to get the job done. Wrap around services, a medical center, community schools, are all either started or shortly on the way….. we are not failing Mr. Street we are doing and if you want the CSD BOE to be shuttered and the CSD schools in Wilmington handed over to the state while firing the teachers, as you directly stated last night, then I seriously must question you in the exact manner you are questioning me and our board.

I do look forward to our continuing dialogue and I do appreciate our mutual commitment to keep the lines of communication open as discussed after the show.

The Battle for Seattle, Part 4 (via Seattle Education 2010)

The Battle for Seattle, Part 4 To start at the beginning, there is Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 to this series. This is Part 4: Hijacked! (continued) I want to reiterate at this juncture that what is happening in Seattle is a microcosm of what is happening around the country at this time. When we first discovered the connection that our superintendent had with the Broad Foundation, many of us thought that this was a single episode of happenstance but as we began to dig deeper, it … Read More

via Seattle Education 2010

Episode 38: Guster :: Live From Daryl’s House with Daryl Hall :: Current Episode


Daryl Hall revisits his 1980, Robert Fripp-produced solo debut, Sacred Songs, for a rare performance of “Babs and Babs,” with Guster’s Ryan Miller, Luke Reynolds and Brian Rosenworcel, for the first new Live from Daryl’s House web show of the year. The 38th and newest installment of the Webby award-winning Internet series, which recently made its broadcast debut with a 2 hour New Years Eve Special on WGN America to impressive ratings, will debut at http://www.lfdh.com on Jan. 15.Guster was formed by Ryan Miller, Brian Rosenworcel and Adam Gardner in 1991 while attending Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts. They’ve gone on to record six studio albums, their latest, Easy Wonderful, came out last year on Aware/Universal Republic and garnered the group some of its best reviews to date. The Wall Street Journal’s John Jurgensen praised the album’s “jangly, ebullient rock with lots of bright open spaces [but] in the midst of all that sunny pop, there are shadows lurking.” Magnet magazine called the release “the best thing the band’s ever done… We can’ t tell you how much we love the new Guster album.” A renowned touring attraction, Guster performs more than 250 shows a year with the likes of John Mayer, Ben Folds, Nickel Creek, Pete Yorn and Rufus Wainwright. The Oakland Press raved that the group’s local concert “left the crowd screaming for more,” while the Philadelphia Weekly was equally enthused: “Entertaining and humorous… What’s not to love?”“It’s an awesome concept for a show,” said Brian Rosenworcel about his experience on Live from Daryl’s House. “Artists who mutually respect each other learn to play each other’s music and expose it to their fans, followed by a gourmet meal.”“This was, for sure, one of the Top Seven Things I Have Done With My Band,” added Ryan Miller. “Just don’t ask me about the other six.”Daryl and Guster joined on a six-song set that included “Do You Love Me” and “Bad Bad World,” a pair of tracks from the band’s latest album,Easy Wonderful, as well as “Satellite and “Hang On” from their previous release, ‘06’s Ganging up on the Sun, on Reprise Records. The set was topped off with versions of Daryl Hall and John Oates’ “Rich Girl” and a rare version of “Babs and Babs” from Daryl’s Sacred Songs.“The guys have a great sense of humor” said Daryl. “I didn’t even mind that they practically cleaned out my wine cellar.”


Cathie Black Regrets ‘Birth Control’ Joke

Cathie Black Regrets ‘Birth Control’ Joke


NEW YORK — A spokeswoman says New York City Schools Chancellor Cathie Black was making a joke when she suggested overcrowded schools could be solved with birth control.

Black made the controversial remark at a task force meeting on school overcrowding Thursday. Upon hearing estimates that Lower Manhattan would need an additional 1,000 elementary seats by 2015, Black said birth control “would really help us.”

Her spokeswoman, Natalie Ravitz, says Black takes the problem of school overcrowding seriously. She says Black regrets that her “off-handed joke” left a different impression.

Black is a former executive at Hearst Magazines and USA Today. Mayor Michael Bloomberg angered some parents by selecting Black for the post because she had no public school or teaching experience.


The No Confidence Vote #Broad #Rochester (via Failing Schools)

The No Confidence Vote « Failing Schools


In the last month, the teacher’s union in Rochester, New York, the Rochester Teacher’s Association (RTA) has built up to and started the process for a vote of no confidence in the Rochester City School District Superintendent, Jean-Claude Brizard.

Superintendent Jean-Claude Brizard

The build up to this has been a long time coming, as rank-and-file teachers within schools have long expressed frustration with the none too subtle hostility and disregard received from Brizard’s administration, policies, and overall agenda. As a Broad Superintendent’s Academy alumni Brizard has brought the Broad-agenda into Rochester wholesale.

Having been within schools and reached out to the community locally I have communicated extensively with teachers, parents, and community members, especially given the important work we at the Community Education Task Force are building.  Several revealing conversations with various concerned parties have proved insightful during our outreach.

One teacher that I spoke to and asked about his thoughts on the vote of no confidence responded saying, “I ask myself a simple question: has my job gotten easier or harder while he has been the superintendent and have kids benefited or been harmed as a result of his policies and leadership?” Given that, according to this teacher, the answer to the former question was no and the latter was that students have been harmed, his choice in the upcoming vote became clear.

Parents and community members have very similar expressions of opposition especially considering the disregard for open, transparent dialogue with parents. Several parents expressed continued frustration with the district’s unwillingness to take parent and community input feedback seriously. At a December School Board meeting in Rochester, parents, teachers and concern community members overwhelmingly rejected Brizard’s administrations’ unilateral attempts

School 6, one of several schools Brizard intends to close

to close schools without so much as a whisper to parents, staff, administration, or even the school board. Even by the Broad Foundation’s School Closure Guide, there is a firm advisement that a successful school closure process has to involve sufficient community feedback, engagement, and revision of plans.

Anti-Brizard/Broad agenda attitudes have gained traction among many of the parents I’ve organized and worked with in Rochester. When parents heard from the media that there was a proposed plan to close their child’s school rather than from Brizard or his administration, that angered and mobilized many parents. Some parents I work with have brought serious alternative proposals, ideas, and discussions to Brizard’s door only to leave feeling patronized, dismissed, and degraded. Frequently, parents, teachers, students, or community members who question or criticize Brizard’s agenda in any shape or fashion are thrown to the side as mere “noise” or “defenders of the status quo” (not a new rhetorical technique by any means).

This brings us to Brizard’s response via email to us teachers. Keep in mind, this email only came once the RTA’s Rep Assembly had unanimously voted to proceed with the vote of no confidence.

Dear Rochester Teachers:

Next week, I will be giving a “State of Our Schools” presentation to the community. This presentation will show the progress we have made as a district and the challenges we face as we work to improve our schools and support student achievement.

Know that the progress we have made and the increases in achievement we have realized are, ultimately, the result of the work you do each and every day in the classroom. What goes on in our schools is the most important factor influencing student success.

As superintendent, I must keep my focus on students, and I appreciate all of the teachers and other staff who are working to do the same. The idea of tension during contract negotiations is expected; the idea that our teachers do not trust my intentions saddens me. I cannot be successful without you, because our children cannot be successful without you.

I know I can do a better job of communicating with teachers. I also know that large numbers of teachers believe we are on the right track. I ask that you join me in exerting our energies on the battle to improve student performance, not the conflict between union and district leadership. The latter can, I believe, be resolved with the help of a mediator. The former can only be waged by working together toward the common goal of helping our students succeed.



Jean-Claude Brizard

Rochester City Public Schools | Superintendent

p:  585.262.8378 |  e: brizard@rcsdk12.org

I immediately began asking fellow teachers for their response to this email. The first response I enjoyed quite a bit from an outspoken fantastic teacher:

You wanna bash us and disrespect us and then act like you trickin yourself out to us teachers and our union in a phony email now that you’re concerned about your career is gonna convince of us anything? Too little, too late so keep it moving.

Another teacher, who grew up in Rochester’s urban Northeast section and has children in the district, stated,

We need to make clear that it’s not only Brizard’s style of leadership also known as ‘my way or the highway’ that needs to go but his entire agenda, which we as teachers and parents reject.

In response to this momentum, the local corporate media has attempted to circle the wagons around Brizard and his agenda (time for more teacher/organizer alternative media, anyone?) In an editorial response to the vote of no confidence and Brizard’s response email to teachers, the Democrat and Chronicle’s editors’ wrote:

The upcoming “no confidence” vote on the Rochester schools superintendent provides a teachable moment for Jean-Claude Brizard.

Already, he’s acknowledged to teachers, through an e-mail, that he can do a better job of communicating with them. That’s a good start.

But Brizard must make this a top priority because he needs teachers and the community on his side if his reform efforts are to be successful. Many of those reforms, such as how teachers are evaluated and paid, are controversial.

Add in that contract negotiations are at impasse, and naturally teachers feel uneasy. That’s what lack of information does; it breeds confusion and fear. And when the bulk of the teachers’ information is coming from their union, then, of course, teachers are going to side with it. But union leaders are concerned mostly with giving up power, and they can preserve their power by keeping members scared about changes.

That’s why Brizard must become much more accessible to teachers, by holding regular forums for teachers where they can quiz him directly on his ideas, and by sending regular e-mail updates. He needs to listen to teachers; most likely he’ll get some good ideas.

But it’s not just teachers that Brizard needs to reach, it’s parents, too. Brizard should visit churches to talk about improving children’s education. Upcoming Black History Month events provide a perfect opportunity to be approachable. Of course, Brizard can’t be everywhere. He should tap his top lieutenants to get out, too.

Finally, community and business leaders who have backed mayoral control can’t be silent. They should speak up publicly in favor of Brizard and his work.

Poor communication can derail reform efforts, just ask Michelle Rhee, the ousted Washington, D.C., schools chief. Brizard must embrace lessons learned there, too.

This unashamed championing of both Brizard’s privatization agenda and mayoral control did not slip by teachers, parents and community members. Several parent allies approached me quickly after receiving this story in the paper, passionately proclaiming (paraphrased from conversation),

Overall, it’s not a matter of a lack of information that ‘breeds confusion and fear’ in this situation. It’s his leadership and game plan itself that has turned people off. What these media hacks don’t want to admit is that misinformation, improper communication, and the resulting confusion is not by accident, it’s on purpose. If people don’t know or are confused as to the facts, it’s easier to mislead them and knock their efforts to organize against you when you’ve got power.

As this vote of no confidence goes forward, there is much to be learned and gained. As part of the “war for the soul of our schools,” as allies have branded this struggle, we can’t afford to let down our guard nor let these opportunities slip away.


UD Winter Commencement: My Graduation

My graduation Ceremony.  Name called at 81:15.  This moment simply would not have been possible without the support of my family. Thanks!


Md. father uses robocall to get revenge on school officials

Md. father uses robocall to get revenge on school officials


Perhaps the idea of revenge came from his sleep deprivation.

 Awakened at 4:33 a.m. Wednesday by a ringing phone, Aaron Titus jumped out of bed in a panic. Maybe something terrible had happened, he thought. Even if nothing was wrong, his heart raced with other considerations: His five children, ages 5 and under, including his week-old daughter, were mercifully still asleep, and he wanted to keep it that way.

In a blurry rush, Titus answered the phone halfway into the second ring, listening in disbelief to an automated caller tell him what he already knew: It was a snow day. School would open two hours late. In other words, he and his family could sleep.

But now he couldn’t.

“I thought, ‘C’mon, people. Really?” he recalls.

Sometime later in the day, the 31-year-old father from Fort Washington, a lawyer who knows a thing or two about technology, made a decision that might well bring amused satisfaction to like-minded parents everywhere.

Titus arranged for an automated message of his own.

He found a robocall company online, taped a message and listed every phone number he could find for nine school board members (sparing the student member), Superintendent William R. Hite and General Counsel Roger C. Thomas.

At 4:30 a.m. Thursday, phones began ringing with 29 seconds of automated, mocking objection:

“This is a Prince George’s County School District parent, calling to thank you for the robocall yesterday at 4:30 in the morning. I decided to return the favor. While I know the school district wanted to ensure I drop my child off two hours late on a snow day, I already knew that before I went to bed. I hope this call demonstrates why a 4:30 a.m. call does more to annoy than to inform.”

It ended: “Quit robocalling parents at 4:30 in the morning or at least allow us to opt out of these intrusive calls.”

Titus says the automated calling service reported back that, of the 19 phone numbers he supplied for school officials, “eight live people picked up” when the predawn call was made.