From Dog and Pony to Shell Game where will Gov. Markell go next?

Well I did not have a chance to post my thoughts the other night after I sat through the Governor’s ” Education Road Show” at Morris Early Childhood in Lincoln, but could not let the Budget article in the News Journal today go without comment. First Monday night, I listened as the governor flashed through a series of slides trying to justify his trip to China by telling how he was amazed by the “number of cranes” and the extent of building going on there. All this expansion the governor says is tied back to China being ahead of us in educating their children, and how we can learn from them. Fellow blogger and board member, Elizabeth Scheinberg, posted just today a summary of this trip and it is worth a critical read!
Also during the Monday night presentation, the governor explained the movement to the Common Core Standards currently used in 38 states to better prepare Delaware’s student for college and/or career. He then skirted quickly past the idea that Delaware’s DSTP did not truly measure the needs of our children as they still continue to do poorly on the National Education Assessment (NEAP)annually. Dr Lowery then talked about how the new Delaware Cumulative Assessment (DCAS) will correct the oversight, but that the initial results are expected to be considerably lower the first go around and that parents should not panic. The one key piece I garnered before I had to leave the show was that there is still pieces of the states RTTT program that are not in place yet. The largest of these pieces is the student growth model and the new teacher accountability evaluations. The folks from DSEA are rightly concerned with this piece as it directly impacts their membership and could mean lost jobs for poor growth. Now I’m a firm believer in people being held accountable for their work/job, but being a scientifically focused individual I know that growth models of any sort have a wide range! Take for instance the growth model used to measure our children by the doctor every time we take them in for a childhood physicals. The doctor tells the parent that their child is in such and such percentile, and that they are above or below the norm. Well if the growth model used to measure the physical well being of our children has a individual component associated with it, and it was determined by doctors around the world, how can we set an education growth model without considering each child not just a class full of children? Student Growth and its measurement has not been realized successfully with NCLB because not every child learns the same so who thinks its going to be easy to measure growth against teacher accountability?
As I mentioned in my opening, I was reading an article in today’s New Journal “Delaware Department of Education requests slight budget hike” which some of my fellow bloggers have posted on, but I needed to add my two cents as well. As a member of a school board I have been involved with RTTT since it first came on the scene, and I want to point out that it was our Governor who went after this grant along with his Rodel friends. The details of what each applicant was applying for were made clear at the beginning in that this was a one time grant with a time limit. The Governor and his team knew what was going to be required and how much was going to be needed to make this work. The grant gave ~$50 million to the state for its part, and to pay for all positions needed to institute yet here we are asking for more money. Quietly the Governor’s staff has been asking School districts to save their Federal Jobs dollars for 2012 as its anticipated that the state will be looking at cuts in Education. The Journal article even mentions this as the OMB asks what cuts districts have made to tighten the belt. So all the jobs created because of RTTT that were to be funded by Federal dollars are now going to be paid by local tax payers. Governor if you were in the private sector today with all the downsizing and layoffs you as the leader would have to bear the brunt and make the hard choices to stay within the budget you were given! That would mean that the folks at DEDOE would have to learn to do more with less and work longer hours kind of like our classroom teachers do everyday! Heck, the Secretary can use some of her own money to buy supplies for her “classroom” just like our teachers! The well has reached the bottom and asking for more is just wrong.

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About Gary M Wolfe

The Author spent 10 years as a member of the Milford Delaware Board Of Education, and is currently seeking the 18th Senatorial seat in the Delaware Legislature.
This entry was posted in Delaware Politics, Education. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to From Dog and Pony to Shell Game where will Gov. Markell go next?

  1. John Young says:

    Whoa:

    From: Visalli Ann (OMB)
    Sent: Friday, August 13, 2010 5:49 PM
    To: Visalli Ann (OMB)
    Subject: Education Jobs Fund Program

    Dear Members of the General Assembly,

    As you may be aware, this past Tuesday Congress passed and the President signed a state aid package that included one-time funding for education jobs and an extension of the federal medical assistance percentage (“FMAP”). Under the Ed Jobs/FMAP bill, Delaware will receive $27.6 million that must be used by September 2012 to create or retain education jobs. In addition, the bill extends the enhanced federal match for Medicaid payments. The FMAP extension is estimated to bring in approximately $47.4 million in additional one-time reimbursement this year. While this additional one-time funding is good news for Delaware, we must ensure that we use it in the most responsible and beneficial manner.

    Unlike some states, Delaware’s FY11 budget was balanced without relying on these additional federal dollars, since it was unclear at the time whether we would receive these funds or how much. Importantly, the budget passed by the General Assembly just five weeks ago provided full funding for current classroom teachers and also added an additional 111 teachers to keep up with increasing enrollment for the upcoming school year. The budget also restored the pay cut for teachers and other state employees, provided for teacher salary step increases and met our obligations to provide healthcare for those in need. In short, Delaware’s FY11 budget responsibly met our financial challenges, without requiring teacher layoffs and without removing Medicaid assistance from those hardest hit by the recession.

    The fact is, Delaware will face significant challenges next year, as we are faced with a loss of more than $100 million in stimulus dollars, which have been dedicated to education and Medicaid. Given that, while some may urge us to spend this money now for new hires and/or new programs in FY 11, I believe that would be a mistake. With the significant reduction in stimulus dollars for next year and the other cost drivers, I believe we should not use these funds for additional spending commitments this year, which would simply increase the drop-off that we will have to address next year. To be clear, we will spend the Ed/Jobs money on education, but the full amount of the Ed Jobs/FMAP funding should be allocated to the FY 2012 budget to help offset the drop off of stimulus dollars, as well as other likely cost drivers. Doing so will reduce the impact of the coming significant challenges, while allowing time for us together to decide how best to allocate and use the funding.

    In closing, given the attention this issue has drawn and the importance of maintaining fiscal responsibility, I thought it important to give you an update on this issue and hope you find this information helpful.

    Thank you, and please do not hesitate to contact me should you have any questions. – Ann

    Ann Shepard Visalli, Director

    Delaware Office of Management and Budget

  2. Pingback: From Dog and Pony to Shell Game where will Gov. Markell go next? (via Education and Community News from Home Town Delaware) « Transparent Christina

  3. John Young says:

    Actually DOE gets $59.5MM as the grant was raised to $119MM.

  4. Frederika says:

    John: Is that “Whoa?” Or “Woe?”

    Gary makes an interesting and obvious point here. We all (state gov’t. & local leaders) knew from jump street that the $$ was only temporary, so the resources purchased with that money, as well as the people taken on with that money, should rightly be seen as equally temporary.

    Kind of like the seasonal jobs at Christmas time. My younger son will be working at Amazon.com from December 5 through the holidays, but he surely does not expect to be taken on the regular payroll, nor will Amazon budget for his particular “extra help” position to continue with the company once the holiday season has ended.

    This is one of the basic flaws about one-time grants like RTTT: Here’s some $$. Use it to do this, this, and this–a very proscribed list of choices. Meanwhile, if you discover something that actually works to (1) reduce the achievement gap, (2) decrease drop-out numbers, (3) improve graduation rates, (4) jack up under-performing schools, improve teacher effectiveness, (5) support high-needs student populations, (6) enhance parent involvement, (7) strengthen school-community relations, and so on and so on–then you (insert state or local antity) will need to make some plans for how to include this remedial action for the future or to bring it to scale.

    This would involve repurposing resources–both financial and human–not just adding on more and more. People are not going to stand for tax increases when so many folks are out of work. What are the alternatives?

  5. Frederika says:

    Gary:
    Please take a look at my brand new blog http://doesexperiencecount.wordpress.com I opened last Sunday–writing about teachers, schools, education, and “education reform.” Additionally, I am running for DSEA President this winter. I will be getting in touch with union leaders in Milford this weekend to try to arrange some time for visits to MEA Rep Council or Executive Board meetings. Frederika

  6. Pingback: From Dog and Pony to Shell Game where will Gov. Markell go next? (via Education and Community News from Home Town Delaware) « Kilroy's delaware

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