More Markell tactful code talking via News Journal re: school turnaround

Schools, families should keep improving by News Journal / Our View

The elaborate “turnaround” process set by the Race to the Top education program saw progress this week. Nine Delaware schools were taken off what amounts to a watch list.

As the governor’s remarks indicate, progress does not come from one party alone. Teachers and administrators have to do their part in finding ways to reach underachieving students. Likewise parents and, through them, students have an important role to play.

Read entire article here ………. 

As the Markell Priority School line-in-sand approaches he’s uses allies to bombard the community via media blitz and now milks the PZ school turnaround plan. But you know, you have to step way back to read between the lines.

My labor friends continues to complain about common core , smarter balance and priority schools blaming the invisible people called the “system”.

So it look like the PZ School Plan aka Race to The Top worked and credit must go to Markell’s brash mayoral type control. Markell’s plan worked and it surely must give school district leaders a black eye. Just perhaps site-base aka school control might be the answer and perhaps rather than taking over individual schools, DE DOE should takeover the entire school district and install more effective leaders. Problem might just be at the top and not the bottom.

Back to labor, we continue to hear all the pot and pan banging it’s not us and it’s the “system” as in outside reformist political agendas. Not once do they ever go for “Markell’s” failed leadership and self-centered education agenda that include all the Rodel clones. You’ll have to admit, it surely looks like the PZ school plan worked! Just maybe we might want to give Markell’s Priority Schools Plan a try even if it’s only one of the designated six Priority Schools. Markell at least deserves that as an award for his successful PZ schools.

On the flip-side of this rant, I must comment that Markell tends to take all the glory on things that do work and stays low on other issues like state closure of closure of charter school and direct comment on many of the controversial issues. He leaves Secretary of Education Murphy to be the punching-bag and fall guy (puppet).  It takes a good man to take the falls for the team and Murphy has that down to an art.

So the word is out via the News Journal, Race to The Top worked and the PZ School plan was a success aka proof in the pudding and just maybe it’s proof we don’t need charter schools!  


44 responses to “More Markell tactful code talking via News Journal re: school turnaround

  1. Did I miss something? As an educator in focus schools, there was no process, no firing and rehiring, no abrupt change in leadership. All I’ve seen is a label and then…hmm. Perhaps it’s the hard work of the existing staff. Perhaps it’s the luck of the draw. Who knows? But it certainly isn’t Markell or the failed RTTT educational policies.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Exactly,jax2816. This story, written the day before by Matt Albright got a typically insane headline from the NJ about how the state “lets” 9 schools out of improvement needed status.

      It’s just part of the game.

      Step one: Change the state test to DCAS
      Step two: Apply an unearned label based on metrics that have no evidence supporting their use to label students and schools(test scores, aka DCAS)
      Step three: wait for the teachers and students to get used to the new test as scores go up all over the state
      Step four: remove the unearned label
      Step five: claim “success” that was there all along as being born out of the label you used to shame and punish the school.
      Step six: at no time acknowledge the pressure, stress, and dishonesty used by your administration to shame teachers and students AND parents.
      Step seven (most important): Praise self. This is Jack’s forte.
      Step eight (and this is key): Use the fake success to leverage another round on an even more vulnerable group of students and teachers under a new, trumped up name. Call it “priority” as you establish a fake stakeholder group in the city a week later and go on the Vision speaking tour to bully and threaten districts.

      Step nine (by far the easiest): get the News Journal to drink your Kool-Aid with no critical thought and regurgitate your talking points and voila: news and editorial is sustained!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. You forgot step 1b,
    Get DSEA to sign on to bogus teacher accountability linked to unproven tests.

    step 6 appendix.
    DSEA has yet to communicate that educators are not counselors equipped or funded to be social workers ergo letting teachers take the blame from the governor and uninformed parents, for societal issues beyond their control. (to address the NAACP issues of “residue” )

    and you forgot step 8b,
    change grade scheme in most schools to allow more students to pass due to lower standard (also approved by DSEA, admins, and principles) to show “progress” in relief of the blame game.

    Liked by 2 people

    • lastDEconservative

      You both missed the step before Step 1.

      Supply the local media orchestra with the sheet music for the lullaby.


    • lastDEconservative

      And mixed in there somewhere has to be “restrain yourself from laughing out loud when the sole conservative think tank in the Republic signs on to the next iteration of the scheme, lest they wake up and realize they’ve betrayed their cause and the followers.”


    • Amen.


  3. And the children suffer the consequences.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jack, you are absolutely right. I’ve noticed far too many talk about the adults on here, but very few talk about the true victims: the kids. What is this doing to them with all the changes and even more waiting in the wings? I won’t brag and say education was great when I was a kid, but at least you knew what to expect and what the schools wanted. Nowadays it’s anything but, cause the schools never know what to expect, so how can the students? Has anyone asked the students what they want?


    • Give me a break

      Children? When did you ever get the idea that any of this rhetoric is about children!?


  4. Greg MAZZOTTA


    You reference students as customers…FYI, in an aligned, effective education system students are not customers as they cannot articulate valid requirements. Their voice, however can be heard
    via satisfaction surveys.

    The customer for the third grade in the fourth grade teacher; valid requirements can be set.

    In a quality system, three questions are asked:
    – What is the AIM of the system
    – WHO is the customer and what are their expectations
    – How is the system delivering results

    In last weeks conference call on quality education, the issue of
    Root Cause Analysis was discussed. Not surprisingly, it was lead by
    a leader from Montgomery Cty Schools. Their journey to the Baldrige Award from 2000 – 2010 can offer many insights.

    What we have is a Knowing-Doing gap…over the course of past
    15 years, there are over 2500 high performing role model schools
    which can provide demonstrated success in many areas.

    It’s not too late to learn. We will be presenting the 2013 Baldrige/Education recipient, in PA (near Wilmington) to present
    an overview of their journey to performance excellence.

    I’m inviting Delaware education leaders to attend this annual celebration.


    • What needs to be done to improve our 3rd graders achievement in reading and math?


    • Greg MAZZOTTA

      Friends Jack and Jax,

      In a quick bumper sticker kind of answer: Align Research, Rhetoric, and Results…the new three R’s of education.

      TN, the other first state in Race To The Top has adopted Carnegie Math, state-wide. This program was developed by Carnegie Mellon
      University and shows great promise.

      Also, the Carnegie Foundation for Teaching is making it’s research,
      developed since 2000 known in WI and provides tools for continuous improvement.

      Further, it’s only in the past 5-10 years that quality education methodologies – Plan, Do, Study, Act – has been accelerated in
      many states. Specifically, in MD, legislation calls for parental
      engagement in education. In TX, the superintendents are collaborating. In VA (Alexandria Public Schools) is a recipient in the
      VA state quality award program; Delaware’s program is administered from another state. I serve as an advisor.

      The ASQ/National Quality Education Conference held this month in Milwaukee is the national epicenter of Quality Education. No, DE
      has not been represented and thusly…uninformed and unconnected.

      This can be improved; it’s not too late.


    • On what does one base the belief that 3rd graders are in need of improved achievement in math and reading?


    • Tennessee is burning to the ground.


  5. Greg MAZZOTTA

    Also, regarding new tools, here’s a link to 5 tools that are transforming STEM Education…


    • lastDEconservative

      Should this be a surprise? A liberal rag promoting a liberal indoctrination agenda? Quality transformation of an evil program? If this is an ally of Baldridge, then as Mr. Wonderful says on Shark Tank, “I’m out.”


  6. Greg MAZZOTTA

    FYI…no connection to neither Baldrige, nor quality education per se. Simply a part of my answer to an earlier query regarding what’s happening around the country; a look at several new teaching tools.

    Sir Ken Robinson, and others, speak to the value of creativity and education the whole child.

    I’m surprised by your quick and perhaps off track comment. What
    have I misunderstood? Your position on The Atlantic magazine, perhaps?


    • lastDEconservative

      – typing slowly, one letter at a time, telegraph style –

      STEM is but one branch (begging everyone’s pardon) of the evil agenda. Stop.
      Tools currently in use for propagation (pardon me again) are the same as for the rest of the ‘stems’ of the evil agenda. Stop.
      New tools to further an evil agenda being promoted by an organ of the evil agenda is no surprise. Stop.
      Quality a la Baldridge implementation of an evil agenda is not a surprise either, if one takes for granted that “quality” is an effective technique for improved implementation. Stop.

      I call guilt by association. Evil should be rooted (third time, grant me) out, not helped out.


  7. May I ask…what are your, LDC, thoughts on school improvement?


    • Try this Top Ten list:
      1. Let magnets, charters and votechs expand to meet public demand. And authorize more of them to operate. Stop telling the public they can’t have what they demand from their school taxes. The old guard doesn’t know better than the public.
      2. Stop trying to make every building and every classroom a one size fits all centralized system.
      3. Focus on results. Achievement. Proficiency. Critical thinking.
      4. Stop focusing on process and inputs. Process and inputs are a means to an end. Focus on the end — the results. The reason for having a compulsory schooling system in the first place. To have an educated public.
      5. Stop trying to use the schooling system to reengineer non-schooling aspects of society. Just stop it.
      6. Reemphasize #3. Rinse, repeat.
      7. Stop making excuses for students. Set high expectations and help The Willing get there. Regardless of background.
      8. Reemphasize #3 again. Rinse, repeat.
      9. Define a highly effective teacher as one who accomplishes #3. Give teachers every support they need to accccomplish #3. Not #2. Not #4. Not #5. And only retain highly effective teachers and pay the highly effective ones a solid professional salary with benefits commensurate with the private sector. For as long as they remain highly effective.
      10. Reemphasize #3. Rinse, repeat.


      Bonus Round: Re-read #3, #6, #8 and #10.


    • #3 is inherently contradictory as you so deftly leave out the measurement part, nice. But the killer, most awesomest, amazing one on your list is #4

      Straight out of Machiavelli. Fuck the means, just get to the end. Sadly, the “means” in your equation are children. But as a true self portrait of your beliefs: PRICELESS.


    • Nice leadership decorum (not). Process and inputs refers to the adults in the rooms. And in many cases not in the rooms.

      Despite all of the Number Two you are spewing out here, #3 is still the point of it all. 🙂



    • yeah, um, not what you wrote, or meant.

      Nice try, Machiavelli.


  8. So noted and well articulated, LDC. Do appreciate the insight.
    Will help in working toward this vision. Thank-You.


    • lastDEconservative

      Our friend Publius does cut right to the chase sometimes, doesn’t s/he, Greg ?

      I’ll say it shorter for myself. In the mold of the destroyers all around us so it can be understood by the denizens with whom I dearly love to spar, a bumper sticker summary of all that last (not Publius, or is s/he?) holds dear vis a vis education (note the absence of the terms state and/or government as modifiers of the term education) …

      Vision 1955. Or, Vision 1855.

      Either one would produce better results (as demonstrated in society in the past) by far than the capital S State/Statist system that progressive evolution and lullabies have wrought.

      For the rest of my belief system, stand by for pandora and delawareway and MikeO and the rest who can articulate it better than I.


  9. Correction: Pubilius instead of LDC. Please add your comment about
    governance and school funding, please.


    • Governance? For goodness sake, don’t ask JY. Fools gold!

      Funding? Oh yes, now it gets interesting.
      #1: Never, EVER, allow a 3% unreferendumed tax increase.
      #2: If every school gets the same $/student then we are DONE.
      #3: If the local share is uneven, then RE-DISTRICT.
      #4: See #3.
      #5: See #3.
      #6: See #3.
      #7: etc


  10. John, I agree that process and inputs are critical to systems and improvement. Developing the whole child, holistically, is the AIM
    of an education system. This is being accomplished at high performing schools that have developing programs, are agile, and
    are building the capacity to care more.

    I trust your comment was directed to Pubilius, just confirming.


    • lastDEconservative

      Whose process and inputs? I assume, Greg, that you mean processes and inputs of what I fondly refer to as the capital S State. Which come inexorably and at the cost of the coerced if not forced diminution of the processes and inputs of parents, and grands and other loved ones. Cue the Lullaby Orchestra of the Ages.

      I humbly suggest you consider the fact that the “AIM” of the State system is, and has been for several generations, the development of the “whole child,” which is creepy on the near side and Orwellian in its conclusion. I cannot envision a day when I would embrace the State “caring more” [for my child, your child, or the random urchin lurking in the shadows of society] than I, you, or the urchin’s next of kith or kin — no matter how far removed. And lest you be particularly discerning today and catch the apparent omission there, I also cannot envision a day when I would embrace the State caring more … than they already do (as in feeding them, and saying we care more than mom; as in providing medical care, and saying we care more than dad — get it?).

      Whence the horrors we witness today, building at an ever increasing pace, if not the State? Lake Forest will soon, if they’ve not already, matriculate 2 or 3 year olds on which they staked a claim within hours of birth — including stamping them with a logo onesie (think branding cattle). Step aside, mom, I’m with the government and I’m here to help you. How do you suppose that will work out? Developing the whole child indeed. Let’s say “the system,” has thus far developed 2/3 of the average whole child. Small and getting smaller percentages of them can even read, let alone think critically or discern right from wrong, or make pretense of the times three table. Yeah, let’s gen up some new tools to swamp that last 1/3.

      Management is doing things right. Leadership is doing the right things. “Quality” execution and all that’s implied from a corporate standpoint by the term, applied to the execution of the wrong things (most of what “the system” is doing today and has been for 50 years) can only produce more wrong.


    • Be careful with “holistic” application. While admirable and under ideal circumstances attainable, Education cannot and will not be able to satisfy a holistic success pattern with so much that is not within Education’s purvey. Therein lies the trap of “process” and “input”. When developing the processes over and over again with minimal results, one must question, are the right questions being asked to develop the process. In much of our NCC districts the right questions are too politically incorrect to answer so the answers fail to address what would be educationally possible vs. what politically seems more important.

      Asking schools, teachers, administrators, DOE or a governor to be surrogate parents for the children burdened by delinquent adults is a question our educational systems cannot answer for but over and over they attempt to holistically answer the call. By no means is education unable to help but the point is they cannot solve the problem. So why devote so much effort to an unsolvable equation and demand so many resources at the attempt. You might as well ask can Israel and the Palestinians have peace.


  11. LDC, your comment is enlightening. We are experiencing 14 or more “cycles of improvement” since Congress, officially invited Education and Health Care to participate in our national quality award program.

    Your insight and warning is certainly well grounded, regarding Lake Forest. Without constant vigilance, like yours, aims/plans/results can stray.

    The irony is that schools of learning are not necessarily learning organizations…thus the locus of the work of the quality community.

    I’ll be with a leader of a learning organization as she shares more about their school districts journey in performance excellence, a role mode, for all to learn from.

    Yes. This momentum can be driven astray with wrong headed leadership; perhaps that’s what you wish to share?


    • lastDEconservative

      “14 “OR MORE” cycles … ” … oooookay, let’s see how the 15th one pans out. 😉

      See, the flaw is “since CONGRESS invited … “. If a local school district can’t get more than 29.7% of its 3d graders to read, what can the 800 pound gorilla in far off DC accomplish? Note “accomplish,” not “attempt.” Would that I could make a stark comparison between “healthcare” as a private marketplace enterprise and “education” as a liberal government monopoly so as to look at a [presumed] diversity of results of the application of capital Q “Quality.” Instead, I rest my case on demonstrated failure. Look how little time it took for government to wreck “healthcare,” and it’s only just begun! 2015 will make America into Lake Forest, by 2018 when it’s all in place, we’ll be a footnote in history.

      “The irony is that schools of learning are not necessarily learning organizations…thus the locus of the work of the quality community.”

      I’m trying to make this sentence into a profundity, which it would be, differently focused, but, alas, the fatal flaw is the faulty logic. Schools are definitely not learning organizations — not these days, anyway — but the logical flaw is that they cannot be by definition, and will not be by the choice of the government leadership thereof. ((As we are not talking here about private enterprise education)). Imagine if the Coach had no schools to turnaround, imagine if Curly had no bogeyman such as “poverty” to blame for his miserable results, imagine them actually “learning” from charters or TPSs or private schools best practices and putting them in place broadly … imagine them actually steering the ship of State to putting themselves out of the self serving business of societal micromanagement. No how, no way. Q.E.D.

      PS: Lake Forest is not astray except from out here looking in. Their processes and inputs are deeply thought through and implemented with the utmost of intentionality. And they are heroes to the rest of the destroyers a bit further behind on the path. THAT’S the scariest part of all. LF is considered the model, not the antithesis.


  12. M Ryder,

    Good insight and comment and reference to the scope/scale of the desired results. Some call this “smudgy borders”. This un-clear
    is the root of the politics/education leadership chaos.

    In 1994, the NCCVT was the DE state quality award recipient, under
    then, Superintendent Dennis Loftus. It remains to be seen the learning, and there have been sputters of success.

    I speak with a large number of education leaders about the resources
    available. Alignment seems to be a challenge. The challenge, in the short term, is: How will DE Schools attract and retain leadership talent? Talent, like money seeks a favorable environment.

    In speaking with several recruitment firms, Delaware is seen as hostile. Just look back over the leadership changes over the course of the past 15 years. Many directions, initiatives, and no clear reference model; lack of processes? Our DE learning systems are still learning, in my opinion, and there is little room for student learning.

    We do have some great education leaders, and hopefully, their talents
    will be acknowledged. Currently, I’m watching the Superintendent search developing at Capital S.D. Also, the Carnegie Foundation for
    Teaching is beginning to deploy leading research for schools, FYI.


  13. M Ryder,

    I re-read you post and need to comment. By deploying continuous improvement – the Plan-Do-Study-Act (Shrewhart Cycle) – like we
    did in Milford, there is a better result referred to as “cycles of improvement”. This is different from doing the same over again.

    For example, Montgomery Cty Schools have benefitted from over 10 years of learning, built upon a clear vision and supported by a mission and values. This is what is reflected in the results, in my opinion.

    From observing high performing schools and scanning the research,
    parents are key stakeholders and engagement is planned for. I’m
    helping the exceptional children with IEP and Autism and can share that the inputs and processes need to be improved, in my opinion.

    Hope you find this helpful.


    • lastDEconservative

      “For example, Montgomery Cty Schools have benefitted from over 10 years of learning, built upon a clear vision and supported by a mission and values. This is what is reflected in the results, in my opinion.”

      What results? if I may. What portion of their 3d graders were proficient in reading 10 years ago and what portion are proficient today, following “x” cycles of not doing the same thing? And not by the scales that were continually revised over each “cycle,” but on some unchanging scale, though such is probably lost to the ages.

      I suppose that even if the number is better, it is incrementally so, not monumentally, and an honest assessment would find other factors in play beyond new rubrics, multitudinous conferences and harrumphing gatherings, a long string of next big things, etc., ad nauseum.


  14. LDC,

    Seaford and Lake Forest have lost their education leaders and are in transition with new ones, whom I have not spoken with or met.

    LF’s Dr. Dan Curry benefitted form learning in Balanced Score Card, which was an extension of our work in Milford.

    Dr. Shawn Joseph, recruited from Montgomery Cty has returned and this quality education efforts remain unclear.

    Are you suggesting or noting that these success need to be shared state-wide? What is the learning pattern of schools in DE?
    How are new, promising leaders developed?

    At the ASQ/National Quality Education Conference next week,
    there will be speakers, presenters, and networking to share the 2014
    learnings. Also, in PA – a short drive from Wilmington – the PA state quality award conference will be doing the same – celebrating the successes in 6 categories: Manufacturing, Service, Small Business, Heath Care, Education, Non-Profit.

    These are important events, not to be missed, by aspiring and developing leaders. It’s not too late for Delaware leaders to participate.

    Your comment on learning is better addressed elsewhere. I do the
    little pushes, daily, and help those organizations seeking to improve.

    I may represent a different aspect of this sparring session.



    • lastDEconservative

      “LF’s Dr. Dan Curry benefitted form learning in Balanced Score Card, which was an extension of our work in Milford.”

      This I did not expect. Wow, just wow. Back to where I started … “I’m out.”


  15. LDC…was this a learning for you? Were you unaware that the school leaders may not collaborate on some matter? What’s “I’m out” mean?

    I was expecting that you would review the results of Pewaukee S.D. and make a substantive comment for discussion. Dr. Sternke’s video
    can be found on YouTube, if interested.


    • lastDEconservative

      I’m out means if Baldridge is within a country mile of involvement with the conduct of such as Dan Curry, I’m out vis a vis giving Baldridge the benefit of the doubt with respect to government schooling (not education) improvement.

      As to Pewaukee, stepping waaay out of character for a moment by taking a peek, I got this far on the linked page:

      “PSD’s economically disadvantaged students surpassed the performance of similar students in the county, state and nearby high-performing schools on the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concept Examinations (WKCE) reading proficiency tests by achieving 45.5 percent proficiency compared to scores below 33 percent.”

      The very question I raised above. After 8 years (the earliest date I saw was 2006), instead of leaving behind 2/3 of the population’s most valuable and most vulnerable in reading skills, they now only leave behind 54 1/2 out of 100! At this blistering 1.5% / year pace of improvement, it will take but another 37 years to get ’em all up to snuff.

      Perverse. Crowing about this kind of “achievement” is perverse. That the alternative to this level of “high achievement” is so poor as to permit such crowing is waaayy past perverse.

      Baldridge in and of itself may be all that and a bag of chips, but if this is the result in so-called education, cut your losses and move on.


  16. LDC, nice of you to respond and share your perspective. I’m hearing you. In the case of Montgomery Cty Schools, improvement was not straight lined. Little happened in the first few years and the majority of improvement came in the latter part of their ten year journey.

    Yes, the need for school improvement is great and the echo of a wise man wisdom that…the soft bigotry of low expectations.

    Thanks for peeking at some current results data. In my opinion, school improvement in several states is accelerating. I better understand your perspective. Thank-you.