Delaware teacher bonus plan a FLOP

Big bonuses draw few teachers Matthew Albright, The News Journal

Despite the lure of an extra $20,000, the state’s controversial bonus program for teachers attracted only nine highly-rated educators to low-scoring schools in its third year, though many more who already work at such schools took smaller bonuses to stay there. 

Christopher Ruszkowski, head of the Department of Education’s Teacher and Leader Effectiveness Unit, said the main reason fewer than expected retention bonuses have been given out is that fewer than expected schools chose to participate. Though the state had asked 49 schools to sign on, only 18 did.

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35 responses to “Delaware teacher bonus plan a FLOP

  1. Does this prove that “low-scoring” schools don’t need extra funding? If our best and brightest “educators” don’t buy in (or, more accurately, don’t accept a substantial pay-in) then what should we conclude about the districts’ and educators’ commitment? Reminds me of that shopworn phrase: Money talks — Malarkey walks.

    Maybe The Guv’s line in the sand is the only way to get anyone’s attention. The alternative? LDC’s Shutdown “for the good of the order”. And the petrification of the “traditional” districts.

    Publius

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  2. Perhaps so few signed on because the research is correct: Teachers aren’t in it for the money. No amount of money could tempt me out of my current position. The happiness and excitement and potential I have is way too high.

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    • Soneone said “its all about the kids”. were they wrong?

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    • All about the kids equals NOT all about the money….

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    • I get it. Your position. Your happiness. Your excitement. The potention You have. Not a kid in sight.

      How can the system, in which you are a tool, harness this narcissism for the good of the “low-scoring” schools?

      Serious question.

      Publius

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    • Narcissism? The potential I have is because of the environment, which is largely due to the staff and admin. I have never lacked for amazing students. They exist everywhere, and every kid is amazing in some way. I only need to talk to them to find out how. If you’re interested in turning schools around, I honestly and without sarcasm suggest reading kavips. I find that the ideas kavips routinely puts forth are not only logical but also research-based. Smaller class sizes, teacher-selected resources, abolish excessive testing…the list goes on. I’d buy that blogger a drink if I could.

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  3. It is all about the kids. And here’s the deal: Albright didn’t mention the press release the DOE sent out on Monday offering teachers under this plan $25k to go to “high needs” schools (aka priority schools). Many educators don’t want to teach there because of the “high needs”, and those that are there typically don’t want to leave because they are happy working with kids in this area. The DOE throwing bones like this is an insult to the teachers that are there, in the trenches every day, trying to make a difference in these kid’s lives. Maybe if the DOE stopped their “malarkey” these teachers could make this their top priority instead of worrying if they are going to have a job in a year.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fair enough. So what “is” a productive path toward improvement of the Priority Schools?

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    • 1) Stop pretending it’s about the schools failing on standardized tests the state has no longer deemed viable for their forced curriculum

      2) dump Common Core

      3) recognize that our colleges and universities do know how to educate our teachers

      4) forget about the corporate agenda of turning these schools into charters in the Bank Of America building

      5) work with the community to help improve the high rates of crime going on in Wilmington with financial assistance from the state and federal government to turn the city around and not these poverty stricken schools, as well, increase funding for the DEA to combat the drug and gang problems

      6) create more jobs in Wilmington so kids aren’t dropping out of school and selling drugs

      7) let schools show proficiency of students based on summative and formative classwork, homework and tests that are based on curriculums approved by the district and not the state or the feds

      8) to prevent “social passing”, develop a method with the districts and DOE to closely monitor these types of activities

      9) send more funding to these schools without forced demands on the teachers and administration to reduce class sizes and bring in counselors to actually help these kids with situations outside of school

      10) create binding laws to stop charters from causing triple segregation with their insane enrollment preference tactics

      Liked by 1 person

    • Step one in any productive path regarding “priority schools” is for DOE staff to walk into those schools, talk to the principals and teachers, visit classrooms, speak to parents & communities and learn from those observations and conversations what changes are most likely to help those students. “Friends of CSD” hosted a meeting earlier this week at Bayard MS on the topic of “school climate” (what works, what needs to be fixed, how to get there), and the invited panelists included the principals of Bayard and Stubbs, among others. Bayard’s principal, Eric Stancell, has been in his position for three months. Stubbs’s, Jeffers Brown, has been there for 15 mos. Both (but esp. Brown, now in his second year) have a number of new and thoughtful initiatives underway, addressing academics, discipline and other core elements of school success. Both are being evaluated by DOE based on testing data that largely (entirely, in Stancell’s case) predates their tenure. NEITHER has been visited by ANY DOE or governor’s office rep., despite having extended invitations to those offices to visit their schools and see what is currently in place (I asked this specifically).

      Taxpayers can safely conclude that whatever Markell/Murphy’s goals are with respect to the priority schools, they are not motivated by concern for students, families or teachers & staff. This stunt seems to be a flexing of reformist machismo, meant to bolster their tough-guy credentials (looking to their political futures), with low-income black families in Wilm. as collateral damage. It is particularly offensive that these white politicians with minimal experience in public ed. are sacrificing dedicated black professionals with demonstrated commitment to low-income, urban children. Par for the DE course.

      On a happier note, it was inspiring to hear what these men are engaged in on behalf of their students & communities. If MarkellMurphy decide to fire them, someone else should snatch them up. Interestingly, Brown has a staffer from the nonprofit Children & Families First working at Stubbs (not funded by the district or DOE) to mediate between a range of area agencies & NGOs and the needs of students’ families–on the grounds that eviction, abuse, lack of heating, etc., significantly impact children’s ability to learn. So the school doesn’t address all of those problems directly, but it partners very closely with a Wilm. nonprofit that directs families to the appropriate resources for their needs (like what # to call in order to work out a payment plan with utility cos.). Also, Brown has instituted several incentives to encourage parent involvement in school activities. These include dinner following PAC meetings, for those who attend, and inclusion in T-giving food drives or holiday mitten trees (as recipients) in return for attending teacher conferences. These have been extremely successful, quadrupling parent involvement in the school within a year, and may be good models for similar communities.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. In attending the DOE New Accountability System presentation yesterday, which was convened after the IEP Task Force meeting.

    The differences were significant, here’s an overview:
    – The IEP Task Force was convened, in part, by the authority of legislation, with the aim of process improvement and sustainability
    (I took the liberty, as a Subject Matter Expert – of adding sustainability as this is the complete phrasing).
    Meetings are recorded and open with public comment encouraged and discussed.
    This is a good model for school improvement that impacts the lives of nearly 20,000 of Delaware’s exceptional students, whose lives as well as their families find a pathway in a near hostile landscape. It’s clear that progress is being made.

    – Ryan and Chantal, (DOE employees?) provided effective facilitation. The audience was less robust with 11 people, among which were two reporters.
    How can this be with both DOE and school districts having public relations/community engagement departments?
    The fact that DOE is hiring survey merchandisers was met with some alarm. Imagine polling an audience whose knowledge of the currents that move education, especially with a election season approaching.
    Imagine, if a similar legislation were supporting this DOE accountability system initiative? This is a poor model for several reasons.
    The main point of my angst was the covering up and non-disclosure of those members of the Accountability System Workgroup; education leaders, we were reminded. No names. No AIM. No (legislative) Charge. Why?

    Also, several state systems were cited as reference examples. I noted that these would not be considered “leaders” and suggested a short list for consideration. It was suggested that my comment as well as others all be directed to the website for documentation. Have we arrived at a point where we’re delegating listening to others for processing?

    One of the leading states – see link below – deploying state-wide school improvement is Missouri.

    http://education.missouri.edu/news/articles/current/missouri-governor-convening-school-districts-to-launch-collaborative-statewide-effort-for-school-improvement.php

    Further, Chris, please return my invitation. I can help your Teacher Effectiveness Unit…putting best practices to work in Delaware. We began this work – Quality Education – in 2000 and I remain eager to help.

    The 2015 Baldrige Performance Excellence Program, now underway, oversees the nation’s only Presidential award for performance excellence while offering criteria, assessments, tools, professional development, and a community for those dedicated to helping organizations improve.

    In 2002, DOE documented the use of this criteria in a number of places, it’s not too late to take advantage of these critical resources.

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  5. Here’s the link to Senate Concurrent Resolution 63 establishing an IEP Improvement Task Force in order “Tp Examine Means to Improve the Individualized Education Plan (IEP) Process for Students in Delaware Public Schools.”

    http://legis.delaware.gov/LIS/lis147.nsf/vwLegislation/SCR+63/$file/legis.html?open

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  6. Eve, I appreciate you comment and will reach out to local leaders and invite them to take advantage of national education improvement resources. Good to collaborate with well meaning professionals.

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    • Terrific, Greg. I certainly got the impression that principals Brown (Stubbs) and Stancell (Bayard) are happy to partner with any group whose resources can help their schools. They seem to see clearly the need for high-poverty schools to leverage a range of community resources, in order to match the achievements and opportunities of more privileged students. I forgot to mention above their references to expanding mentorship programs in collaboration with some of the city banks. Really, there were an impressive number of programs mentioned in response to questions or ideas from the audience–and an open invitation to interested community members to visit the schools, attend events, and propose additional ways to help.

      The meeting was not about priority schools, but after hearing from these school leaders, audience members raised questions about the priority schools plan (which seems inconsistent with the dynamism of the leaders these particular schools already have!).

      Liked by 1 person

    • lastDEconservative

      “Good to collaborate with well meaning professionals.”

      I, on the other hand, wonder every day how it is that on any given day in the last 50 years, the people in charge (and/or surrogates and apologists, to wit., Eve, pandora, and the lot) can, with a straight face, look anybody in the eye and proclaim anew the discovery of fire, meaning “a solution” to all the societal problems manifest in the microcosm of the government school (not education) system, problems that came from where exactly? Oh, wait, the same people! And started when exactly? This week? NO, 50 years ago! Wait a minute, last, are you saying when, where, and by whom are related?

      And of course, I don’t really wonder. I know about the lullaby *wink, wink* and the media instrumentalists, and the hard work of all the radicals that went before, making today’s destroyers’ work like a walk in the park.

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    • “Apologists Unite!” That’s the ticket —

      Publius

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  7. Like Greg, I was there as well, but I was half an hour late. The IEP Task Force was also there, but they were kicked out of the usual room they were in by the DOE. The DOE pulled the partition separating the IEP TF room and another room to make room for the highly anticipated crowd coming to their town hall. This created a delay with the task force due to the video conferencing not working for a while in the other room. Yes, the DOE inconvenienced a task force and a Lieutenant Governor for a whopping crowd of 11, including two reporters, a wife of a DOE employee and her son, and two transplants from the IEP Task Force. I had already read their propaganda on their website, but I did arrive in time to hear them getting roasted by one audience member, and then my usual comments to this motley crue. It was fun, let’s do it again!

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  8. lastDEconservative

    Mr. Mazzotta,
    MontCo, MD is one of your vaunted and oft cited islands of excellence in the sea of government school (not education) system failures. You must be one proud papa today, with this news out from the land of the oppressed and the home of the spineless. Please take my one question exam at the end. From no less a rag than the WaPo, this:
    _____________________________

    Christmas and Easter have been stricken from next year’s school calendar in Montgomery County. So have Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah.
    Montgomery’s Board of Education voted 7 to 1 Tuesday to eliminate references to all religious holidays on the published calendar for 2015-2016, a decision that followed a request from Muslim community leaders to give equal billing to the Muslim holy day of Eid al-Adha.
    In practical terms, Montgomery schools will still be closed for the Christian and Jewish holidays, as in previous years, and students will still get the same days off, as planned.
    Board members said Tuesday that the new calendar will reflect days the state requires the system to be closed and that it will close on other days that have shown a high level of student and staff absenteeism. Though those days happen to coincide with major Christian and Jewish holidays, board members made clear that the days off are not meant to observe those religious holidays, which they say is not legally permitted.

    –big snip—

    They say the day off is a matter of equity (h/t to pandora and the rest), with Christian and Jewish students getting days off for their holidays.

    But Tuesday’s outcome was not at all what Muslim leaders intended. They called the decision a surprise — and a glaring mistake.
    “By stripping the names Christmas, Easter, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, they have alienated other communities now, and we are no closer to equality,” said Saqib Ali, a former Maryland state delegate and co-chair of the Equality for Eid Coalition. “It’s a pretty drastic step, and they did it without any public notification.”
    Zainab Chaudry, also a co-chair of the coalition, expressed dismay, too, contending the school board’s members were willing to “go so far as to paint themselves as the Grinch who stole Christmas” to avoid granting equal treatment for the Muslim holiday.

    “They would remove the Christian holidays and they would remove the Jewish holidays from the calendar before they would consider adding the Muslim holiday to the calendar,” she said.

    –big snip—

    ________________________

    For the rest of the story:
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/christmas-stricken-from-school-calendar-after-muslims-ask-for-equal-treatment/2014/11/11/f1b789a6-6931-11e4-a31c-77759fc1eacc_story.html
    _________________________

    Q: What do ALL of the failed government school (not education) systems’ failures, such as …

    … pay scales, union deals, districting, feeder plans, feeding plans, parent preclusion ditkats, social engineering schemes, busing, next big things, “equity”, bumper sticker solutions, pinhead conferences, truckloads of studies, (insert any of a thousand others here) …

    … have in common?

    A: The abandonment, no, abolishment, followed by denigration, of the Judeo Christian values on which the very nation was established, and by which, in part through schools of yore, fostered the building of the greatest nation ever established, America the beautiful, values which, until the so-called “modern” era (of Progressivism) poisoned the populace, were celebrated in the town square, in the schools as well as in the churches, unapologetically and proudly.

    I appreciate being reminded, as much as I despise the circumstances around such.

    -last (and I do believe, last)

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    • Mr. lastDEconsevative, we are in agreement. Your insight here is
      a reminder of the need for vigilance, daily, to maintain one’s trajectory,

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  9. Eve,

    I’ve sent e-mails to both aspiring leader and noted that Jeffers Brown comes to DE from Cecil Cty, an early adopter of the Baldrige/Education initiative in 2000. DE passed by virtue of then SecED Metts disregarding – my observation – this critical invitation.

    He may be experiencing DSS – disparate systems syndrome –
    from not having this platform developed in DE.

    Yes, DOE needs to embrace and foster Quality Education and align: Research, Rhetoric, and Results as expressed in the 1999 BIE-IN initiation supporting Congress invitation to Health Care and Education.

    My earlier blog posting has been added to the DOE comment
    section for consideration, review, and possible discussion; confirmed by Ryan Reyna, yesterday’s DOE facilitator.

    It’s my hope that legislators will take note:
    – realize Delaware is surrounded by states deploying quality education methodologies and remains vulnerable regarding recruiting and retaining teacher and education leadership talent.
    – realize that the Accountability Framework Working Group need to
    come out from the curtain and introduce themselves, like the IEP
    Task Force Member, putting a name and face to their work.
    – reflect upon (Louis Pasteur) “fortune favors the prepared mind” Connecting with those who are more/better informed.

    By doing so, all Delaware citizens can take pride that government
    is working.

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    • lastDEconservative

      “By doing so, all Delaware citizens can take pride that government
      is working.”

      No comment, just wanted to make sure all the denizens saw this line.

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    • Let’s assume for a minute that Gubmint is working. The question is, “working on what?” If Gubmint were all doctors, the Hippocratic (as opposed to _____) Oath would say do nothing unless you can do good. Or more traditionally: “Do No Harm”

      Jefferson AND Hamilton would be appalled at the State we’ve grown in the petri dish.

      Publius

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  10. Eve: Great comments. Question: Was the district staff in attendance? What help are they providing these schools?

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    • lastDEconservative

      “Was the district staff in attendance?”

      I dunno, but they must have been, and lots of them. Seems that at least 5 attendees have not been accounted for yet.

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    • Jack, I don’t know whether there are district initiatives particular to the “priority” schools. FOCSD will hold a Q & A with district board members on Jan 20 (7-8:30 at Kirk MS); anyone interested in that sort of question is welcome to attend and ask. By that time the “priority school” landscape may already have shifted into a new phase (I can’t remember what exact deadlines the governor/DOE set). There are also MANY PSchls-related public meetings organized by the district this month (http://www.christinak12.org/apps/pages/index.jsp?uREC_ID=246303&type=d).

      FOCSD is a parent-organized advocacy group, not formally affiliated with the district office. There was a least one district staff person who attended on Monday (the director of Curriculum I believe–she introduced herself after the conversation) and several teachers present, as well as three board members. Most of the audience consisted of parents.

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    • Governor Rodel, whoops, I mean Governor Markell said at the Rodel Vision 20whatever thing he would move on the priority schools if they don’t cooperate within the 120 day timeframe as set forth by the MOU. Additionally, at a Christina meeting a few weeks ago, DOE Charter Girl Penny Schwinn said the DOE would not give an extension past the 120 day mark.

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    • Interesting link. “CSD covers over DOE claim with massive bureaucratic dooublespeak.” Here is the shorter version: CSD admits deficiencies at its Priority Schools. CSD will respond to DOE with a MOU after we cover our bases (or something similar) in the community. Stay tuned. Watch for numerous public meetings where the same few people show up to say the same things over and over. While we nod, applaud, and look serious.”

      Does this upset you? In denial? Then DO something. The “elected” board shoud already know enough about what the public wants. Or they should admit otherwise. Assuming no such admission, the board should take — say, a week — to write and issue its respone to the State’s MOU first draft. The “week” is to allow for personal schedules, the work itself is just a few hours of concentrated expertise. Let’s assume they know what this means.

      Publius

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    • Pubs, you get so cranky every time ordinary Delawareans are given a voice in public forums. It discredits your cause.

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    • lastDEconservative

      “The “elected” board shoud already know enough about what the public wants.”

      And they claim to know (campaigned on) what the public NEEDS. I agree that a couple hours of “expertise,” overflowing at any or all of the districts, should suffice to draft a plan. My dead horse flinches as I write these words; did they not know 20 minutes before Curly and the Coach hopped in the ring? Did they not know 20 days before that? Or 20 months? Years? Why wasn’t the prescription written then … to supersede the one before … oops, did I trip over it?

      Any new plan is a tacit confession of the failure of the one before. That comes hard. Compound that with the sound of the still small voice within telling the experts that they must abandon their world view in order to r e a l l y come up with an honest solution — for the chil’ren — and there you have it, feet of clay.

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    • LDC, you nailed it. Eve, you didn’t.

      Publius

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    • lastDEconservative

      Discerners Unite.

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  11. I didn’t realize this, but I just read the Board of Education at Capital voted out of this last April. Board President (at the time) Matt Lindell said something to the effect of “I wouldn’t want a teacher getting a reward at my school.” We need more districts like Capital in some respects to follow what they are doing.

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  12. What isn’t understood is a teachers classroom is a sanctuary. They arrange and design it to beat suit their teaching style. That comfort level is what helps provide a nurturing environment. A teachers classroom is their second home and very few (as evidenced by the story) will leave that environment to start over again and try to rebuild it in a class that they may not even be in for very long.

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  13. All, here’s Michigan’s plan for turning around schools, FYI…

    http://www.mlive.com/news/grand-rapids/index.ssf/2014/11/the_blueprint_for_turning_arou.html

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