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Kevin at Exceptional Delaware has already done a review of the 76 page report released today…. It is the official US Department of Education’s own assessment of its own program:  Race To The Top.

One should expect a glowing endorsement.  But even though that would be the normal expectation, that  is not what was gotten… Of course, omissions were there as well.

Let’s begin with the total Race To The Top number..   $4.3 billion….

That stretched out is $4,300,000,000 or roughly 1% of the USA’s non military discretionary budget for one year.

Of that, Delaware got $119,000,000 of that wicked amount of money or in percent….. 2.7% . What did we get?

Delaware got the largest percentage of new students entering college…

RTTT College

Graph courtesy of US Dept of Ed.

Delaware also got an increase in AP scores….

AP Scores

Graph courtesy of US Dept of Ed.

“Delaware, Massachusetts, and Tennessee also get shout-outs for relying on teams of teachers and administrators to provide ongoing feedback. Delaware teachers and state leaders allegedly teamed up to create “rigorous and comparable” measures of growth in non-tested subjects…”

Isn’t this a lie?  We know that some task forces were created but we also know they were handpicked so only those who previously registered support of Common Core (long before its details were made public) were allowed to be on those panels and even then, their recommendations were completely ignored.  If anyone can prove this is not so, please respond in the comments below.

Whether inclusive or exclusive of RTTT funding, independent sources outside the US Dept of Education has reported that spending per child increased in our state by $475 during the RTTT window…. This is in comparison to 4 other states which had not brought per student spending even up to pre-recession levels.  Of those RTTT state increasing, Delaware was at the top.

Funding increase

Courtesy of CBPP

But the report leaves out, or only touches on briefly, several controversial issues where states stumbled or backtracked. That’s especially true with respect to teacher evaluations and policies linked to the Common Core State Standards, especially assessments.

The report seemed to focus less on measurable improvement and more on the new relationships the grants have helped to create between teachers, administrators, and others, and how the grants have refined and enhanced their energy.  Translated into corporate speak that is the equivalent of a CEO requesting down the pipeline if we had achieved his goals for the quarter, only to receive the answer that  “no we haven’t but  we have good news!  Nadine in insurance is dating Jonathan in Finance, which means they are talking to each other a lot,” and expecting that to assuage the expected bosses ire.

Essentially we spent $4.3 billion just to create more urgency and more cooperation…

Today, Arne Duncun admitted as much in his speech on Race To The Top… “My administration, recognizing the urgency of change for today’s students, pushed a lot, fast. We haven’t gotten everything right, and we’ve seen unintended consequences that have posed challenges for educators and students.” 


All of the Race to the Top states struggled with  teacher evaluations that took into account student outcomes. Many experienced serious political blowback to the standards, in some cases causing major consequences for state leaders. Plus, indicators of student achievement in the report don’t paint a uniformly glowing portrait. Duncan himself acknowledged in his remarks that declining scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress aren’t encouraging…..

Here is how that $4.3 Billion was divvied up. (all graphs can be clicked on to enlarge)…

RTTT Funds

Courtesy of Ed Week.

Shifting to new tests to measure students’ grasp of the common core has been difficult. That huge issue is ignored in this report…  Instead  highlights of cooperation between teachers in different states are expounded.  It is like praising the recruitment and training of little boys to fight Russian tanks while ignoring the total collapse of Berlin and the Third Reich.  The newest NAEP results represent Berlin in that scenario.

“The Education Department sunk $360 million into two testing consortia, funded by a second RTTT grant. But four of the states that received the grants the report focuses on (Florida, Georgia, Ohio, and Tennessee) decided to ditch the PARCC exam for either 2014-15 or 2015-16, while Massachusetts is still undecided about whether to officially adopted PARCC as its state exam. New York has no plans to use that test and  it’s no longer listed as a consortium’s member on PARCC’s website. North Carolina, meanwhile, is still a member of Smarter Balanced, but has so far held off on using the exam.” EdWeek

Today three Race to the Top states—New York, North Carolina, and Tennessee—are formally reviewing the standards as required by their General Assemblies.  Florida and Georgia also made changes to their common core, (Plus a large number of non-RTTT states have ditched or drastically modified Common Core from its original perception.)  No mention in the report, of course.

Unmentioned as well, was the damage RTTT did to top state chiefs… The exalted “chiefs for change” got changed out… It might have gotten hottest for former Tennessee chief Kevin Huffman, who left his post nearly a year ago. But it also made life difficult for John Barge, who is no longer Georgia’s chief.  Delaware’s Mark Murphy mysteriously resigned in the middle of a gigantic all-encompassing state-wide controversy over the right of parents to opt out and not have their schools punished by doing so, and Rhode Island’s former head, Debbie Gist, has downshifted to being in charge of a single district of Tulsa’s school system. Only two Race to the Top states (Massachusetts and North Carolina) and the District of Columbia have the same chief as they did when the program began, by all accounts, a failure…..

The report almost ignores the turmoil surrounding tying teachers performances to the test.  Instead as mentioned above, it applauds areas of cooperation and ongoing feedback, including Delaware’s infamous TELL survey…  Imagine if that was the only true accomplishment of $4.3 billion and Common Core?

Three cheers for RTTT!  We got  teachers to take a survey on their phones…

It’s worth stressing outside this report that it was evaluations  which was perhaps the toughest hurdle many states have faced both internally and with the Education Department. Almost all have argued that tying student test scores to teacher evaluations at the same time that states were shifting to new standards and assessments was misguided. The Department has recently acknowledged this through giving its waivers postponing the implementation of the Accountability piece 2,3,4 years into the future.

Most  astute people can deduce that by having the US Department of Education ignore the problems of Common Core and Race To The Top in its analogy of how their pet project was doing, it becomes obvious by its omission  that in achieving its aims, this program is not working.  This proves once again that you can’t throw money and snap your fingers and make problems go away…

It takes trained people.  And forcing them through constant irrational change-ups to move out of education into other fields, …is something that is not good for America’ s education, …… period.


Massachusetts, long considered the most successful state when it comes to education, released their PARCC scores….

You may remember that Massachusetts was always the state at the top of the NAEP, which is considered the nations report card. You may also remember that when considered as a separate unit in the PISA, Massachusetts had one of the highest scores for any geographic region….

Yet a state doing this well in education, suddenly upon taking the PARCC now has  fewer people proficient than did the previous state testing which was handled by Massachusetts itself…

This does not mean the PARCC is harder.  This proves all along what we have said.  The PARCC is stupider… The entire reason for outrage against the consortium tests is that they unnecessarily create roadblocks to learning.   Whereas one can easily do fractions using single digit denominators to prove one knows how, the PARCC requires the same calculations using weird congruities not seen in the real world like 13/17ths when doing the math.  This creates unnecessary headaches without any gain of knowledge for the student…

This simply means that the PARCC is not an good indicator of student abilities.   Whereas the older system made Massachusetts one of the top educational powers in the world, using the PARCC is like putting carpet tacks on the 100 yard running track and asking Hussein Bolt to run across it… Then crow that your test was more challenging because scores were lower, like his times, than before……

If there ever was a test designed solely to make large numbers of children fail, it is this one.

I am saddened to see that Delaware Secretary of Education Dr. Steven Godowsky, our newly confirmed superintendent, has slid so rapidly into the cess pool of corporate malpractice…  I hope I am premature in my assessment.  There was once great opportunity to dismantle the planks of corporate reform that do not work.

Nice guys are nice until you fight them.  Leading to the saying that  “nicety is a pretext based on prior agreements.”

But it appears that we are about to return to having schools be punished if they do not hit 95% levels of students taking the test.

I am harkened by the reaction of the football players at the University of Missouri…  When faced with an injustice, they said no:  we won’t play until our head resigns…

They said so with solidarity.  And if he did not resign, they would not play and the school would be fined $10 million I believe…  Since that was 20 years worth of the president’s yearly compensation, the powers-that-be insisted that he step down, and he did.

This is similar to what opt out must now do….

Solidly opt out large numbers of students from taking the test.  Stay steadfast and true as the threats of penalties get thrown our way… If the penalties are real, the powers-that-be will quickly realize that continuing support for a $119 million dollar agenda now deemed worthless, is far more expensive than losing $400 million each and every year across the next 20….

The Delaware General Assembly said almost unanimously that Opt Out was a parental right and neither the state nor schools had any business making impositions upon parents choosing what was best for their child.   Tests should be there to help children.  Not children there to justify the test.

These are our football players.  And our Governor who represents Missouri’s University president has not done what was asked: fix the problem…..   The General Assembly as did the football players, needs to assert their power for they are the official maker of laws and policy; the governor simply executes their implementation… Do they now choose to forever give up their right to represent the people?  Stay tuned.

We The People are the powers that be… We are the ones who decide who keeps or loses their job.  We are also the ones who suffer or must pay more if funds are not forthcoming…

We need to stand firm under threats and continue to insist that all parents now opt  their child out of this test… This test has no bearing on determining if or whether a child is career or college ready.

A teacher who deals with your child daily, is far more capable of making that assessment.

If you haven’t; send in your opt out the day after Veteran’s Day….

We know what works.  Corporate Reform tried to sell us on it until they realized they would make less money at it, and begin cutting back….

  • Establish an 11:1 student-teacher ratio in ALL schools k-5 where the poverty level is over 50%….
  • Group those 11 students by their similar abilities… (use test scores)  Take the top 11, then second top 11, the third and go down through the entire grade…
  • Group up to 3 groups in same classroom, each with their own teacher.  That could be 33 students in the same social setting.
  • Make each teacher accountable for teaching basics to those 11 children… Some of the 11 will need more attention than the others.  But each child is ranked against his own potential, and not against fellow students.  Accept that some will learn more than others (obvious),  but our goal is to give EACH child their opportunity to excel to the best of their abilities.
  • Make Charter School Funding  a line item in state budgets…  The sales line should go like this…. “We want to try this experiment on students involving our unique twist and want $10 million of state dollars to implement”.  This would force the questions that usually occur when one says “invest money in me” that prevent a lot of wasted investment. Currently granting charters only hurts those students in public schools and no one else.  The state eventually winds up being charged for the damage failed charters cost… So put the costs up front by saying “here is your money;  we’pull it in one year if no results.”

Finally we all need to accept that taxes need to be raised on the top one percent.  We are by a long shot the richest nation on earth; it is just that all those riches are now going to 1500 families who already own 50% of America’s wealth… Simply putting higher marginal rates on all income coming in at esoteric rates, would go a long way to bettering America as a whole,

It should go like this….

  • After reaching $40 million in income the tax rates jump to 50%. (first championed by Ronald Reagan)
  • After reaching $400 million they jump to 60%.
  • After reaching $4 billion they jump to 70%….
  • After reaching $40 billion they jump to 80%….
  • And reaching $400 billion, they hit 90%….

It becomes every corporate executives’ duty not to make $400 billion each year…

(As a reminder this means only that they pay higher rates on income over that amount… Income under that amount they pay rates the same as they do now… Which would mean no change on the first $40 million.  Just that once that threshold got crossed, every new dollar earned they would allow them to keep 50 cents instead of  the 60+ cents they currently amass… No real loss if you are making over $40 million.)

These subtle changes would rectify and electrify education. These subtle changes would fulfill the dream of public education where every child has the same opportunity to learn. These subtle changes would give every American child an equal stake in the country into which they were born….

And they are all subtle changes.  Most of America would never feel their cost; only experience their benefit…..  and it is very easy to implement.  Just get rid of those politicians who favor corporations over real people…. Like Earl Jacques. Like Dave Sokola.  And Pete Schwartzkopf.

John Kowalko needs to become the chair of the House educational committee and Earl Jacques needs to be removed to a place far less embarrassing to the Democratic Party… Perhaps the ‘Ditch Committee’ is more up to his mental speed.

We now know the reason for all the mass exoduses of “educational professionals”,. That includes Mark Murphy; Lillian Lower, Arne Duncun….

We have major backpedaling going on currently by the Thomas B Fordham Institute… Michael Petrilli is now blaming, guess what?  Poverty.

Common Core has failed… For the first time since we began testing…. our children have gotten dumber, not smarter….

This is a crime… People need to go to jail for this

In Delaware Dave Sokola, Earl Jacques, and Pete Schwartzkoph need to be the first arrested……  Can we get our Attorney General to issue the warrants?

At the very least, we should recognize its failure and over ride the Governor’s veto on HB 50…   There is now zero argument for letting that veto stay in place…. Zero… Get it done, now!  We know this particular testing is bad. We know it is harmful. Not allowing parents immunity to make the best choice for their children is just shy of unconstitutionality.


“Just wait for the NEAP scores! Just wait for the NAEP scores” we were told.  “We know what we are doing; Just watch them climb; We’re on the right track; don’t upset the applecart” they warned us.,….

We didn’t let it stop us.  We told you the scores would be low because we ourselves were taking the tests and doing the homework assignments as the switch began occurring two years ago….

Math scores for fourth-graders and eighth-graders across the United States finally dropped this year, the first time since the federal government began administering the exams in 1990. Reading scores weren’t much better; eighth-grade scores dropped while fourth-grade performance was stagnant compared with 2013, the last time the test was administered.

FACT:  The greatest Delaware gain ever on the Educational Report Card came about from the policies put in place my the Minner administration.  Since Markell put in his new policies, gains were flat, and are now dropping like rocks to the bottom of the pond.

Stripping those away and going with a corporate curriculum has denied most of Delawares children the better education they were on track to receive…..

….and with todays NAEP’s scores release, the data is now there to prove it….it’s no longer speculation.  It is fact. Common Core is dumbing down children at a faster pace than every before recorded across the history of this test…..

So the irony exist that not only are they calling out your children for being stupid by taking a ridiculous test that not even adults can agree on which answer is right or wrong……  your child actually is not learning because of his involvement in this great experiment:  letting corporations run education and getting rid of teachers…….

This was totally expected.  We would have been very surprised to see any gains…

Here is the NAEP’s ranking of states…. 

NAEP 2015

Light blue is bad.  Delaware is in the company of West Virginia, Kentucky, Alabama, and Mississippi… Not as in two years ago… sharing the spotlight with PA, NJ, MA, and CT.  (You can notice the aforementioned upper Midwest bias by this map as well)

There is a problem. The states that shed Common Core did well. The states that embraced it did poorly…. That is all you need to know.

Get rid of Common Core and let teachers teach… or we will have our own companies going oversees to get their smarter job applicants…

NAEP Delaware 8th Math

Bottom Feeders NAEP 2015NA#P Delaware Historical

Here is a link to Delaware’s snapshot of the NAEP….. and as you got to it, we will leave you with this quote…..

“I want to be known as the ‘education governor'”………. Jack Markell — State of the State speech

A quick read through the feed tells one quickly that our fore-fathers died in vain.  Corporatization of our government is now complete.

  • We see that all questions asked of the new Secretary of Education must be screened days before being asked…
  • We see that Delaware is devising a system to punish parents who use their constitutional right to opt out.
  • We see that legislative-sanctioned working groups are all but ignored when they develop ideas of their own instead of rubber-stamping corporate handouts.
  • We see that the only way charters can survive is with a very expensive state funded life-support system… Yet they continue to keep being implemented and failing, and implemented, and failing, and implemented and failing, and implemented and failing, and implemented and failing, and implemented and failing. So then even more resources get allocated.
  • We see now that Charter School applications are asking for the Smarter Balanced Assessment score (it was only taken once) to determine if a child may be admitted. We see that opting out, a constitutional prerogative, is being used as a threat and penalized.,
  • We see that the Joint Sunset Committee is now looking at trying to rein in a runaway Department of Education that has gone rogue. implementing its own policy to protect its own, without proper legislative approval.
  • We see that the Delaware Department of Education blows off repeated legislative attempts at seeking information.

Together all this means that the people are not in charge anymore…. Period.   We, the People no longer have a say in our own small state government…  We’ve been corporatised exactly as were the British Colonies… from which you may remember, we revolted.

And this has all happened since 2012.

Corporatization is bad, and it is winning.

In his first education speech in 7 years, Bill Gates did not back down.  His two prong offense continue to be teacher effectiveness and common academic standards—even as both initiatives have sparked a turbulent transformation in the nation’s schools and become deeply politicized…..

Due to the timing of the speech, it quickly became apparent that the one person responsible for making these policy across the nation, was complete unmentioned in the speech… Arne Duncun.

He spread the foundation’s work faster and more thoroughly than could ever any foundation alone…

As a listener, I am grateful for the speech because it illuminated the flaw of reason in the Gate’s foundation’s otherwise hard to resist argument.

For who among us ever wants children to not get educated when they have spend 12 years in school?  We all want results and we know that to educate children well we do need decent teachers to do it.

Since 1999, the Gates Foundation has spent about $4 billion on K-12 education since 1999, including $90 million on educational standards and $980 million on teacher effectiveness and supports

Gates said that he believes that he is “working on the right problem.” That problem, he said, is teachers who are unprepared, unsupported and ineffective – especially in low-income schools….

Despite the friendly handpicked audience, among educational experts in attendance serious doubts were expressed over his claim that focusing solely on teacher quality would guarantee 80% of students being rated proficiently in ELA and Math by the Common Core tests as they currently stand.

Gates said that evidence shows that a good teacher could dramatically improve learning, and argued that top-quality teachers “would completely close the income inequity of learning in the entire country” if they were in place for three years nationwide.

We could also if we put our collective national mind to it,  roast coffee beans on Jupiter’s moon Io.

(One sees he has come catching up to do since his last speech 8 years ago.)

In a subtle shift in the teacher evaluation debate, Gates seemed careful not to use language that has provoked teacher backlash against the reform movement. He never spoke of a need to fire “bad” teachers, and he said that test scores, while a “key outcome,” were only one way to measure teacher quality…

“The area we need to invest the most in is the idea of classroom observation,” followed by constructive feedback, said Gates. “I never met a teacher who said, ‘Yeah I got those test scores and now I know what I need to change.’

Unfortunately, listening to the debate over this subject, you might think that we’re forced to choose between two extremes: either using test scores exclusively to determine a teacher’s evaluation, or not using them at all. That’s a false choice. In fact, states are trying to figure out how to balance test scores with observations, student feedback, and other factors. No state uses them for more than 50 percent of a teacher’s evaluation. Eight don’t require test scores at all, and everyone else is somewhere in the middle.

In my view, test scores should be one part of the mix. But we also need to make sure that every evaluation system is transparent, makes sense to teachers, and is embraced by teachers.

Gates mentions in a recent study, researchers at Harvard University gave teachers video cameras and allowed them to record as many lessons as they wanted, and choose the ones to send to the principal to discuss. The study found that when you put teachers in charge of deciding which lessons to seek feedback on, it redefines the power dynamic between them and their principals. The teachers are leading the discussion, and they focus it on what they want to improve.

“Even worse, for many teachers, feedback isn’t even tied to helping them improve. When the only purpose of an evaluation system is to decide who gets hired and who gets fired, it makes teachers more guarded, and less likely to embrace new ideas. That approach doesn’t strengthen good teaching—it strangles it.

Every teacher has the right to ask of every evaluation: “How will this help me get better?” That needs to be the first purpose of every effort to evaluate a teacher.”

The progress we have seen so far is fragile. In places where feedback and improvement systems are well designed, they’re generating excitement, and teachers are embracing them. But in places where the systems hold teachers accountable without giving them the support they need to improve—those systems are provoking resentment and distrust. Teachers are rejecting them, and students are losing out on the opportunity to make big gains in achievement.

Will the districts and states with the most effective systems keep those systems in place? Will their best practices be adopted throughout the country? Or will we retreat from these reforms, and go back to a time when all teachers are forced to make their way up the learning line on their own?  

The future of our students hangs on the answer. And the answer depends on all of us.

That answer is to cut the cord tying teachers’ performance evaluation from their students’ test scores….. and use the tests solely for evaluating student progress and helping students achieve..

Near the end he specifically signals out Jack Markell and our former superintendent Mark Murphy……

If you’re a governor or state chief, I urge you to take a hard look at whether your system is giving teachers the support they need. Here’s a three-part test you can apply:

  • First: Is your system balanced? Are you using multiple measures that reflect the complexity of teaching? ( No, we are not..)
  • Second: Is it trustworthy? Are you using valid, accurate data that teachers will embrace?  (No we are not…)
  • And third: Is your system focused on improvement? Are you using evaluation to help teachers learn—or simply as an exercise in compliance?  (No, we are not…..)

This is exactly the opposite of what our DOE, Earl Jacques, Dave Sokola, and Jack Markell each have stressed for Delaware…. Those four (based on all their public statements) seem only intent on crushing public schools to allow mega-charter corporations their small toe-hold entry into this state.

Their approach is hurting parents, students, teachers, schools, colleges, careers, and districts.  Opting out is the only solution parents currently have.

The problem with inner-city education everywhere is too much need for too few resources.

Though rather common-sensical when stated so bluntly, it has taken America 50+ years to reach this point.  Our slowness comes from the dichotomy of realism.  Science tells us that when born, most for our brains are 99.9% identical. (Occasionally an environmental effect or gene flip can impede one before birth, but missing that, all people if placed in the same environment can perform at very close levels of performance through out their lives). However reality of what enters a school system at age 5, presents an entirely different perspective.  We see children of affluence entering at very high levels of recordable intelligence, and children of lower affluence when compared to those of high, look just plain dumb.

That appearance of dumbness comes primarily from their inability to express their thoughts (ELA), as well as their lack of a broadened world perspective.

It is a rare person among us who enjoys seeing this dichotomy.  We all wish it would get fixed…

If children were businesses, here is how we’d fix them.  We would create an insurance fund.  Calamities do befall us all at random moments, often with catastrophic consequences.  In order not to ruin companies, an idea evolved that if all parties would pay into a fund as their “insurance” they would not lose everything. That fund would reimburse a business if calamity struck them.  The assessment for that fund would be affordable to all, written into the costs of what they sold, and thusly, calamities could be economically handled.

Bussing was a clumsy attempt at emulating this system.  We shut down an inner city’s district and made four suburban districts split up the costs incurred by those inner city children.  We moved children out to where affluent people lived….

With hindsight, it has become apparent that perhaps moving the money in would create less hassle than moving the children out.

Talk of making New Castle County one single school district has been another ongoing attempt to address this issue. The prime idea being that all revenue collected from Talleyville to N. Smyrna would be such a huge pool, students within that geographical boundary could all get proper funding… The suburban money could be averaged out to something that was more equitable to students in Wilmington.

But politically,… schools are a local community issue and parents in urban Wilmington have little concern over the needs of exceptional students on the Maryland-Delaware boundary, and Greenville doesn’t really care that much about people in Port Penn. So having one district handling all decisions, especially those non-financial ones which would now be decided from far-far away, never took off.

Which brings us to the insurance model…

Just as each business runs itself however way it wishes, each district will continue to do the same.  No change from how they are now. But each school system pays funds per student they have that go into an insurance fund which gets used to fix calamities in education..

Those calamities would be priority-type schools in areas in areas where there is no seed to cultivate blooms.  In a priority school one must buy the seed, as well as tend to its cultivation….  In more affluent districts that seed money is primarily handled by the parents of each child. They teach the basics like alphabet, numbers to twenty, and colors. But in priority schools, where everyone enters at the bottom level, there is no seed to speak of. Teachers have to start where affluent children have been learning since birth.  Teaching the 26 letters. Applying phonetics to each of those symbols, basic numerical philosophy (counting), as well as names of colors.

Obviously this would require more teachers.  One can’t say “read this book tonight and we’ll discuss tomorrow”. One needs more personalized attention when one is supposed to teach the book, but instead has to simultaneously teach a child how to read at the same time.

Which is why to achieve success in a priority school (which if correctly titled would be any school that has 50% or more of its students listed as low income), one MUST have an 11:1 student teacher ratio.

If one is currently at a 33:1 student teacher ratio then obviously, one needs to hire 2 more teachers just for that one class… Which at $40,000 a teacher, is not cheap. But necessary.

When one is trying to stretch budgets, having one teacher disappear to save $40,000 is the simplest solution. However, it dooms those far-behind children who would readily learn in an 11:1 environment but not in a 22:1 or 33:1 classroom

The reason today we have such problems with inner city education is that across the careers of most of our students, adequate funding for the 11:1 ratio was not available.

But if we had an insurance fund that was culled from all districts, which could be applied to hire additional personnel in poverty schools, that issue would disappear.

Today there are multiple problems with inner city education. We can only tackle them one by one.  This idea would take care of one of those problems.