Marzano Says Detroit Contract Untrue. Reporter Proves It is.

A few months ago, I discovered an IP address in the list of referrers to my blog that linked to a private legal investigative firm in Ohio.

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It struck me as odd, but I told myself that I was being paranoid and soon forgot about it.

This Sunday, the IP address showed up again.  I posted two  blog posts about Dr. Marzano over the weekend, and each seemed to have hit a nerve with teachers around the country. Very quickly, they garnered about 20,000 views.

This time, I wondered aloud if I should be worried about the IP address.  Some said yes, others said no.  One friend speculated that the firm may have been hired to build a libel case against me.  Another wondered if perhaps they were “blog-chasers,” looking to gather clients by sending posts to high-profile individuals.

The following day, an email from Dr. Marzano was waiting in my inbox.

 Dear Ms. Talmage,

Someone sent your recent blog post to me. I assume you know that while you may state your opinions quite freely, false statements about people that are damaging to their reputation are considered slander. In the blog post I read you have a number of such statements about me. For example, it is false that I have never been a teacher. I was a high school teacher and coach.  It is also false that I was paid $6,000,000 by the Detroit public schools. I did make a brief one-day presentation for them a while back but the honorarium fee I was paid had three less zeroes than you report. Please be advised that I will monitor your blog for false statements about me or my organization and take legal action if they continue.


Bob Marzano

Did Buckeye Legal Investigations send it to him?  The timing sure makes me wonder.

Here is how I replied:

Dear Dr. Marzano,

Thank you for your email.  It is not my intent to slander you, but rather to give voice to the many concerns that teachers around our country have right now about how and where our district resources are going, and how we are being treated as professionals. I wonder if you would answer two questions for me: When and where did you teach, and for how long? Is this article giving false information?  It is where I learned of the 6 million dollar contract.  Thank you, Emily

I also wrote to the Detroit news station to ask if they could confirm the contract.  A reporter wrote back right away to tell me that she had obtained the contract through a Freedom of Information Act request, and would send me a copy.

Dr. Marzano wrote back very quickly.  Here is what he said about his teaching experience:

 My personal classroom experience was in New York and in Seattle from the late 60s to the mid-70s, primarily at the high school level (with a brief undergrad stint at the elementary level in Milwaukee).

I was, of course, asking for more specific information.  So I kept digging, and eventually found a copy of his CV embedded within an award application, showing that he taught in a New York City public school from 1967-1968 prior to graduating from Iona College in ’68, and then spent three years as Chair of the English Department at an all-boys Catholic school in Seattle.

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My apologies, Dr. Marzano. I stand corrected.

As for the Detroit contract, here is what he wrote:

I believe they are using my system for teacher development. I also believe the district has contracted with Learning Sciences International. That is not my company, but they do use much of intellectual property. I can’t imagine that they received a $6,000,000 contract, but if they did, such money does come back to me. My guess is that classroom teachers know the name Marzano is associated with the strategies and made inferences from there. Your link is the first I’ve seen of that story, and I’m going to look into it immediately.

Learning Sciences International, located in West Palm Beach, Florida along with Marzano Research and Learning Sciences Marzano, owns the copyright to Marzano’s iObservation, and is the official provider the Marzano Teacher Evaluation Model.

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Below are the contracts that were sent to me by Kimberly Russell of WXYZ in Detroit:

contract 1 .jpg




Over the course of the 2015-2016 school year, Detroit Public Schools agreed to pay Learning Sciences International a total of $5,626,388.  An additional $497,114 was paid in 2014.

Across the country, parents and teachers are growing angrier at the disconnect between the real needs of school districts and how funds are being spent.  In the case above, the money would have been enough to pay at least 22 teachers for five full years.

Instead, students in Detroit are now attending classes with 40-50 students, while teachers are wrestling with a development program that many feel is interfering with their ability to teach.

Is this Darnell Earley’s fault for signing the contracts? Is it Marzano’s fault for marketing expensive teacher development programs to districts seeking to comply with current policies?  Or is it all just another sign of the harm being caused by the current corporate takeover of our public schools?

Probably all three.

There is, however, no question the time has come to ask teachers and students in Detroit what they could truly use in their classrooms.














Author: Emily Talmage

My name is Emily Talmage and I teach fourth grade at Montello Elementary School in Lewiston, Maine. In addition to teaching in Lewiston, I have also taught special education and general education in New York City, including one year at a “high-performing” charter school in Brooklyn. I also have two master’s degrees; one in Urban Education from Mercy College, and another in Developmental Psychology from Teachers College, Columbia University. I have also worked as a research analyst and assistant at the National Center for Children and Families at Columbia and Oldham Innovative Research in Portland.

10 thoughts on “Marzano Says Detroit Contract Untrue. Reporter Proves It is.”

  1. I,too, have a public education blog (Seattle Schools Community Forum- we’ve been around about 8 years.) Here’s a piece of advice from me because I’ve been threatened with lawsuit (and had one where, oddly, it was a restraining order from someone I had never met.)

    The person who did sue me wanted to prevent me from attending meetings – legislative hearings, school board meetings, etc. Basically, prevent me from doing my job and silencing me. I found out that my state (and yours as well, I checked) has what is called SLAPP (anti-Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation.)

    “The Maine anti-SLAPP statute gives defendants the ability to move to dismiss claims that infringe the exercise of the petition right. The law requires the court to hear and decide the motion “with as little delay as possible.” Discovery activities are placed on hold from the time the motion is filed until the court has ruled on it, although the judge, after a hearing on the matter, may order discovery to be conducted if the requesting party can show good cause for it. The judge will grant the motion unless the plaintiff can show that the defendant’s claimed exercise of the petition right lacked any reasonable factual support or arguable basis in law and his acts caused actual injury to the plaintiff.”

    This tends to make people who are just trying to intimidate you back off rather quickly.

    Good luck, Melissa Westbrook

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It looks to me like his one year of claimed teaching experience was probably six to eight weeks of student teaching done during the academic year ’67-’68, his senior year of college. He claims to have taught in New York Public Schools but doesn’t mention which district, I’m guessing because that would have been too easy to trace the fact that he was never on the payroll.


  3. Wow, Marzano only had a year of teaching experience. So many districts have followed him religiously, including my own. He actually has time to call out a fourth grade teacher on her blog. In a nutshell, this is what is wrong with education: people with minimal classroom experience telling us what we need to do instead of asking us what we need to be successful.


  4. Super sad that this waste of money could have been spent EMPLOYING real EDUCATED humans that desire to be with students. 22 teachers for 5 years could have made millions of changes to the education of students that Marzano “techniques” never could. I’ve been a teacher for 15 years, our district has recently fully embraced Marzano as if it is the be all /end all. I wonder how many teachers we could be emoloying instead? Thank you for questioning. Real teachers know that there is no simple solution (Marzano) to how and why learning takes place and anyone making money on it is not a guru, they only know how to market ideas to make millions off of others in education that stupidly believe education has rules. I’m pissed districts can’t turn inward to find solutions in their own communities instead of always pouring money in outsiders pockets for fads. It is these types of bad decisions and careless spending that makes schools and teachers look like fools and degrades our profession.


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