When you lie with dogs…

You’re such a cool woman but I love you
Such a cruel woman but I love you
Open up your eyes and realise
You’re such a fool woman but I love you
But you give me all that you’ve got to give
Cause it sure feels good to me

I’m not your only man I’m just your lover
Not your only man just another
Open up your eyes and realise
I’m gonna take what I can like any other
Cause it don’t mean a thing to me

You lie down with dogs you fall in with thieves
You’re gonna catch something but you do as you please
You’re scratchin’ an itch that nothing can ease
You lie down with dogs you get up with fleas

Get out and find yourself another lover
Why don’t you find yourself another lover
Open up your eyen and realise
You don’t mean nothing to me I’m not your mother
You gave me all that you had to give
But there’s a whole lotta fish in the sea

You lie down with dogs you fall in with thieves
You’re gonna catch something but you do as you please
You’re scratchin’ an itch that nothing can ease
You lie down with dogs you get up with fleas


“Our Education is under attack, what do we do? Fight Back!”

Delaware Voice dissected. @RodelDE @GovernorMarkell #DOE #truth

I am truly proud to serve with Elizabeth Scheinberg, her analysis of our good faith vote is spot on.


Another day, another misinformed opinion… |  

Children & Educators First


Dear Christina,
Here we go again.  More propaganda and rhetoric designed to distract Delawareans from the issue at hand: a state’s over-reaction to an appropriate step to remediate a lack of fidelity to process.  My comments, of course, are in red.  Let the dissection begin:

Christina board chair burns bridges in Race to the Top
8:36 PM, Apr. 28, 2011
Written by PAUL A. HERDMAN
Opinion, Delaware Voice

In his comments at the April 19 meeting of the Christina School District, board chairman John Young made some colorful points.  Absolutely.  Importantly, shared by many who harbor deep concerns about the RTTT reform models. 

Yet, his remarks only served to shortchange the future of the district’s 17,000 students and to disrupt the productive relationship that had been built over the past year as the state and the district worked collaboratively to develop a plan to turn around two chronically low-performing schools.  Actually, Paul, it was the state’s premature and uneducated response to an issue that they had stipulated was one of local control that has “shortchange(d) the future of the district’s 17,000 students” (including my own).  Did the state truly expect that Christina would defile teachers and affirm a corrupted process?  Perhaps, the business community did.  But, five board members were willing stand and support teachers, as the front line educators who are challenged daily by a herd of problems in their classrooms. 

Everyone agrees that Glasgow High School and Stubbs Elementary School need help. Everyone also agrees that bringing great teachers and leaders into the “turnaround” process is essential.  The district also saw that there is great potential in many of our teachers and that there is merit in retaining these teachers and offering intense professional development to improve their skills to meet the challenge. That PD is written into the plan that DOE, CEA, and CSD have all approved.

In fact, the district worked with its local teachers union to determine how the process would proceed, which then was approved by the state. The current controversy appears to stem from the board’s interpretation that the interview process to determine which teachers would stay in the two “Partnership Zone” schools and which would be transferred to other schools in the district was somehow unfair. Paul, as Rodel’s voice, you above all should recognize that accountability does not exist in a vacuum.  Let’s start with the fact that three separate entities weighed in on the plan and MOU and not one of them caught the incongruities between the two documents. It was at the behest of students, parents, alumni, and teachers that the board delved into the process for a thorough review.  Christina’s Board did not simply venture down this path because we yearned to dilute the reform process.  Our resolution to rectify missteps actually resulted in an increased scrutiny that will better serve Christina’s students.  How can one expect accountability if we fail to ensure fidelity?

Mr. Young brought this problem to the board meeting on April 19. Yet, rather than proposing a resolution, he chose to insult each of the partners who has been working to help his district: U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, who awarded Delaware $119 million; Delaware’s governor and secretary of education, who secured this grant for the state; Vision 2015, in which his own district participates; the Rodel Foundation and its founder, William Budinger; and Delaware’s businesses leaders, who have collectively contributed millions of dollars in direct investments, scholarships and mentoring to his district.  Really, Paul?  Really?  Did you bother to listen to the audio recording?  The proposed motion was set forth by Mrs. Saffer.  Mr. Young actually interjected that he believed the CEA President and the Superintendent should meet to attempt to reach an amicable agreement.  However, by this point in the night, the CEA president had left the meeting.  The board, after more intense conversation, then affirmed the motion on the table by a vote of 5 yes and 2 abstentions.  If Mr. Young had not cast his ballot in the affirmative, this action would have still carried by a majority of four.  I suppose that means you should be mis-representing the positions of all five of us. Should I expect my castigation in tomorrow’s paper?

This week, the board now claims that the controversy was simply a “process issue” and that the district had never stepped back from “Race to the Top” or its commitment to reform. Some board members publicly affirmed its commitment to the plans last week.  I know you read the blogs, you’ve referenced them in your visits to Norm Oliver’s tv show. Our weakness was our failure to publicly issue a collective statement on behalf of the district due to the start of the spring break and absence of staff.  This has always been a process issue.  A board’s most common functionality is to set policy and ensure fidelity to process.

If this were the case, why didn’t Mr. Young simply state those things on April 19? Moreover, what message was the full board trying to send with the president’s 15 minutes of angry rhetoric if the district is still on board with reform.  The board suspended several rules during the April 19th public comment.  Mr. Young may have spoken for 15 minutes, but the board actually suspended time limits for all speakers.  Each and every constituent who wished to address the board did so without limit because we value the opinions of all stakeholders.  However, you and many others, have seized upon Mr. Young’s comments to deflect from the issue at hand: a wholly-local problem that required relief and that five independent board members reviewed the information provided to us and arrived at similar conclusions.
Mr. Young’s speech was unfortunate and his comments about our foundation and founder were disrespectful and ill-informed.  Let’s agree to disagree.

Bill Budinger is one of the nation’s most thoughtful, entrepreneurial and generous contributors to public education and other societally pressing problems. He built a technology business, Rodel Inc., from scratch and employed thousands of Delawareans for over 30 years at his plant in Newark (part of the Christina School District).

When he sold his business in 1999, he set aside over $40 million to help Delaware improve its schools. You know, no one spoke to Mr. Budinger’s intent.  I believe he thinks that the fruits of his funding are helping Delaware’s students.   But, the fact remains that at least two of the Vision Schools, despite years of investment by Vision 2015, were named to the Partnership Zone by Delaware’s Secretary of Education.  Some might construe that to be an indictment of Visions’ effectiveness.

Over the last decade, his generosity has benefitted thousands of children through investments in early childhood education, parent engagement, district and charter school improvements, and the development of Vision 2015, which brought together hundreds of Delaware’s teachers, administrators and business, union and community leaders to develop a nationally recognized strategy for reform. “Teachers, administrators, and business, union, and community leaders.”  What’s missing?  Parents and their elected school board members.  School boards and parents were strong-armed into this reform process.  In my opinion, that most boards voted unanimously to sign the RTTT MOU was more reflective of our Governor’s efforts to decrease education spending via Delaware’s dollars and backfill it with one-time federal funds.

Yes, our foundation has a point of view: excellence in education for every Delaware student. Yet for more than four decades, Rodel Inc. and its successor foundation have attempted to interact with respect and humility with educational and community leaders throughout this state to improve the lives of Delaware’s students and citizens.

Turning around our lowest-performing schools will be incredibly challenging. I couldn’t agree more.  That’s why chosing models that are supported by longitudinal data, implementation with fidelity, and the flexibility to tweak and re-tweak when evaluations point to failure are absolutely necessary to ensure any chance of success for our students.  FIDELITY.  This is what this board has attempted to interject into the reform plans.  Yes, we individually harbour concerns about these reform efforts; however, we have never voted, nor even offered a motion, to exit RTTT or PZ.  We have instead interjected a heightened level of scrutiny into the process and asked for and not received the SUPPORT of the DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION nor the GOVERNOR of DELAWARE. 

The good news is that Delaware is a place where people have a long history of working together to make amazing things happen.

Unfortunately, the comments made by the Christina School District board president last week burned more bridges than they built. I will assert and re-assert that it was the state’s over-reaction that has damaged relations between these parties.  The state, without any notification to the board, went to the press to announce plans to freeze the RTTT and PZ funding.  It is the state, as the purse string holder, that is denying Christina the funding to robustly implement the plans they have approved.  

Going forward, we hope there is a civil exchange of ideas and that real change happens. We remain committed to helping where we can. Our children can’t wait.  I can offer only you one question:  Do want reform done right…or do you want reform done fast?

Cue the Character assassination: Once Again, Rodel and Mr. Herdman get it wrong….

Today, in the News Journal,  Paul Herdman of Rodel makes the following assertion:

“Mr. Young brought this problem to the board meeting on April 19. Yet, rather than proposing a resolution, he chose to insult each of the partners who has been working to help his district: U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, who awarded Delaware $119 million; Delaware’s governor and secretary of education, who secured this grant for the state; Vision 2015, in which his own district participates; the Rodel Foundation and its founder, William Budinger; and Delaware’s business leaders, who have collectively contributed millions of dollars in direct investments, scholarships and mentoring to his district”

Here’s what I actually said:

“Delaware unfortunately has experience with low-performing schools, and the Christina School District has carried the equally unfortunate burden of running some of these schools. Delaware has received the well-intentioned (albeit heretofore ineffective) assistance of the state’s single-minded business community and the misspent money of venture philanthropists who have invaded Delaware’s educational landscape, from Eli Broad to William Budinger and his Rodel foundation and Vision 2015 effort that has landed two schools into the newly defined Partnership Zone, also known as the PZ.”


You be the judge. I certainly do take issue with the effectiveness of the money; however, I never said anything about the people behind the money other than that they are well-intentioned. I know I have made myself a target, I accept that, but can we at least agree to tell the truth Mr. Herdman?

The Christina School Board supports reform, then and now.

Our decision Tuesday night merely identified flaws in our own process and never, not even remotely undid reform in Christina. The Board supports Race to the Top, always has.

The Christina School Board did not stop Race to the Top

I am at a point where I realize that those that control the money are going to get their way in the press. I only have solace in the truth of our meeting and our decision.

If you listen, you will hear me, asking to amend the motion that passed to make it conditional upon our Superintendent and Union Chief meeting on Wed 4/20/11 to work out the difference. They had reached agreement before the process, so I was confident they could do it agin. I never suggested that we should undo a process in the name of stopping the PZ plan or RTTT, and neither did the 4 board members who joined me in simply saying: we got a very small part of this wrong, let’s get it right.

The Governor’s and Secretary’s hyperbolic response has both shocking and disappointing. I wish more press would be given to analyze their reaction to a legitimately benign, contemplative decision to introduce trust and respect into a flawed process so we can stabilize our schools and make them work for our students.

They seem to have picked this fight with us to pin us in a political corner and to get us to back down. We did nothing wrong, and I for one will maintain that we owe our employees a just process in order to create a school district that has  trust and resources as the twin solutions at our disposal to fix problems. The political reactions of paid elected and appointed stewards of the public trust should not be aligned with the goal of bullying local school boards.

When that happens, nobody wins.

Christina BOE Member get to the heart of it all. @GovernorMarkell #AudioFile

What does Gov. Markell want from Christina? |

Extensive links to the Board Meeting Audio file included throughout narrative.

Children & Educators First

Excerpt from Gov. Markell’s Delaware Voice Column in today’s News Journal:

When the Christina School District was told that Glasgow and Stubbs would be two of the four schools chosen for the Partnership Zone reform effort, they were given several options to make change happen for those kids. They chose to provide their own detailed plan for how they would transform those schools. The state accepted the plan, and the district committed to implementing it.

This week, the school board members seem to have voted to change their mind. Instead of making progress and moving forward, some members decided instead to point fingers at the state for local implementation issues they could have identified and solved. They offered angry speeches instead of offering options on how they were going to keep the commitment they made to the kids in those schools. They injected tremendous uncertainty about what those schools will look like next year.

Dear Gov.

This is a personal letter, in a public forum, submitting one individuals’ own interpretation of the recent series of events in Delaware:

As of Easter Sunday, you still don’t have your facts right.  I strongly suspect that you have not listened to the audio file of the April 19th meeting that is readily available to the entire listening public on the Christina District website.  If you had, you would draw vastly different conclusions.

You would know that Christina absolutely recognized that the fidelity of the implementation to the MOU as a local issue.  You would know that members of this board did seek out your Sec. of Education for guidance on this issue before April 19th. And that she confirmed this was a local issue.  You would know that this board agonized over what was the right and fair remedy and that we all spent many hours of our own personal time outside this meeting responding to constituents and researching our options. 

If you had listened to that audio file, you would know that this board owned the errors of process and the mistakes of implementation.  We accepted that as the elected policy-makers and custodians of the district.  We feel deeply that true reform will happen only with fidelity to the plan and that the absence of fidelity will result in the failure of this plan. 

If you had listened to that audio file, you would know that this board never, at any point, discussed deviating from the approved-reform plan, although many board members do have gut-wrenching concerns over the reform models and the total instability that these models are inflicting upon our students.

If you had listened, you would know that this board voted to “retain and retrain” its teachers.  That it is committed to moving the reform plan forward utilizing among other commitments, the professional development avenues already imbedded into the plan.   The retention of 19 teachers at these two schools did not in any way walk the PZ plan backwards and therefore did not jeopardize your Race to the Top. 

If you had listened, you would know that we at no time threatened your Race to the Top legacy.  As the PZ is regulated, we have no option but to continue on course.  You would know that the decision this board made was one based upon integrity, not fear, nor threats.  It was a vote to support our students and that one’s word is as valuable as one’s actions.  We made a promise to the teachers at our PZ schools that decisions regarding their futures would be informed by multiple measures.  We failed to keep our word.  We acted within the province of local control to remedy those errors. 

If you had listened you would know that the MOU could only be changed by mutual agreement of the two signing parties.  The board was one, the CEA, the other.  The DOE has no vote. 

If you had cared to contact us after the meeting and before you froze our funding, you would know that the CEA leadership has expressed their gratitude and support for undoing what was truly a tragedy to some wonderful educators. 

If you had cared to contact us before you froze our funding, we might very well have worked through these issues before they became national news and thrust Delaware and Christina into a bad light.  We may have avoided the angry rhetoric and propaganda campaign embarked upon by the state. 

You would know, Gov, that this board never walked away from the table and that the only party injecting tremendous uncertainty is your department of education.  CEA is committed.  Christina is committed.  Are you and DOE? 

Elizabeth Scheinberg