UPDATED, 12/8/14: I violated my own rule! I usually wait for two sources to verify the same information from different independent scenarios, but this one came from a source who has never been wrong. I’m not sure where my source got some of the specifics wrong, but the Delaware Charter School Network did not fly Delaware politicians to Arizona to tour Basis Schools. That was all the Friedman Foundation, who did fly some politicians from Delaware, including Deborah Hudson, to look at programs involving school vouchers. However, it did lead me to some more Rodel connections to a very big chain of charter schools operating mainly out of Arizona, as well as San Antonio, TX and Washington D.C.
It was discovered today that the Delaware Charter School Network was flying a bunch of Wilmington, Delaware politicians out to Arizona tomorrow night to see “something very innovative”. Delaware resident and educator Superman, Mike Matthews, found out this adventure is so these politicians can take a look at the Basis Schools charter chain. When I heard this, I immediately thought of the Rodel Foundation of Arizona. Yes, Rodel isn’t just Delaware based, it’s also in Arizona. And take a wild guess who is on the board of Basis Schools? Yes, it’s Donald Budinger! One of the famous, wealthy members of the Budinger family of Delaware, who created the Rodel Foundation.
The Rodel Foundation of Delaware has even promoted Basis, going back to 2012: http://www.rodelfoundationde.org/daily-education-news-71012/
Budinger is also the chairman of the board of Science Foundation Arizona. They promote the current STEM craze to schools in Delaware. Didn’t the DOE just have a pizza party in Dover at Grotto’s to promote the Next Generation Science Standards?
And now politicians are flying out to Arizona to check out this Rodel-based charter chain?
On Science Foundation Arizona’s (referred to as SFAZ on the tax form in other spots) 2013 1099c non-profit tax form, they had net assets of over $17 million at the beginning of the year, and over $12 million by the end of the year. SFAZ has a mission statement of “SFAZ’s mission is to diversify Arizona’s economy by investing in scientific and engineering research linked to industry needs and investing in education to create a work-force with 21st Century skills.”
They had over $4.3 million in “grants and other assistance to governments and organizations in the United States.” Between 2009 and 2013, the non-profit received over $37.9 million in “gifts, grants, contributions, and membership fees received.” In their breakdown of grants given, most of the entities listed are public school districts as well as University of Arizona, Arizona State University, and Northern Arizona University.
Back to Basis Schools, their core curriculum for grades 1-4 consist of a mixed Math/Science Stem Program, Humanities (covers English/Language Arts, Social Studies, and Geography, and Mandarin. Yes, Mandarin. For grades 5-12, the core consists of Math with the Saxon Curriculum, Science, English and History. Students in high school all take AP courses. 5th and 6th graders take mandatory Latin, while later grades have a choice of Spanish, Latin, French, or Mandarin. The charter chain has a very heavy emphasis on science, which leads back to Science Foundation Arizona.
While this all seems like a good curriculum for students, the reality of it is very different. First off, Common Core is mandatory in Arizona, so they have to comply with those standards. Second, there have been some problems at many Basis schools. With funding, with parents, with transparency, and with very high withdrawal rates. But the schools have recently ventured into the area of K-4 classes, and they want to make a very big impression very fast.
To see the horrible review of this charter chain by a parent, go to http://nepc.colorado.edu/blog/parent-encounters-basis-schools and check out what the school did to make the Charter School Scandals blog: http://charterschoolscandals.blogspot.com/2012/11/basis-schools-eight-schools.html Even Diane Ravitch has talked about Basis: http://dianeravitch.net/2013/05/05/deconstructing-the-legend-of-basis-charter-schools/
So let’s put the pieces of the puzzle together.
Basis schools started in 1998. The Budingers started their Rodel non-profits in 1998.
Paul Herdman came to Rodel Foundation of Delaware in 2004 and immediately started on his Vision, which is everything Delaware education has become since 2009.
Jack Markell joined Herdman’s committee to improve Delaware schools in 2005 and has been on the education reform train ever since, promoting and allowing Herdman’s vision every step of the way.
Teach for America and Relay Graduate School of Education have invaded Delaware schools.
Governor Markell named six schools as priority schools within a mile radius of the Community Education Building.
The feds are no longer giving states waivers to have more than 1% of severely complex special needs students take an alternate assessment as they have done in years past according to the Delaware DOE. (I’ll be updating this strikethrough in an article coming soon and how it ties to Gateway Lab School)
Secretary of Education Mark Murphy will decide the fate of Gateway Lab School, a charter school for students with disabilities on December 18th.
The Delaware Charter School network is flying politicians out to see Basis Schools.
The priority schools and their districts must report their MOU plans to the DOE by December 31st. At which point, Governor Markell will decide their fate.
The Smarter Balanced Assessment will begin in April 2015.
If Markell decides to take the priority schools over, how soon can we expect to see a contract bid for a charter management company on the state website for contracts?
How soon after that will we see Basis Schools win the contract for these schools, scheduled to begin in the 2015-2016 academic year, with occupation in the Community Education Building in Wilmington?
The Rodel Foundations will have essentially married their ideals between Delaware and Arizona at this point in time. The Rodel Pebbles hedge fund has been in existence since at least 1999.
It is no coincidence at all that the power behind Rodel is involved in these foundations, a charter school chain, and a heavily invested Science Foundation out of Arizona. This has been the plan all along, carefully aligning themselves with all the right players and duping an unwitting public.
To truly understand the mindset behind charter schools, you have to understand the mindset of the individuals who work behind the scenes to make them happen. There is a lot of money to be made from operating charter schools. The lobbying industry behind charters is hundred of millions of dollars nationwide. Their goal: to completely take over education in America. This document is essential reading, especially pages 70 and 71. Written by the Philanthropy Roundtable out of Washington D.C. (of which Rodel has donated money to and Paul Herdman of Rodel has been involved with), this document is from the perspective of the charter opponents. Or rather, the ones standing to make the most money.
One would think upon reading this document that charters are the greatest thing in the world. But make no mistake, they are at war and have been for a long time. Everything education reform has been about is directly linked to the goal of more and more charter schools. The document does not mention the two simple facts: charters tend to use application enrollment preferences to gain better students and weed out lower performing students, and as a result, they tend to test better on standardized tests which is the current method of determining a school’s success. Make no mistake folks, these are millionaires behind all this who want to take over cities with charter schools. They want to tell you it is to help education and give low-income disadvantaged students a better chance at success, but it is all about the money.
This is the reality on the ground in Wilmington, Delaware. This is the future, if we allow it. Some may say the fight is too big, that this is a complex machine with too much money behind it. That’s why we must find the kinks in their armor, their Achilles Heel. The ACLU found a very huge one this week and exposed it for the world to see. This is not just a fight against charters, Common Core and standardized testing. This is a fight against the uber-wealthy, the millionaires who really don’t care about you and me. They care about their stock portfolio, their hedge funds, and their bank accounts.
In Delaware, Rodel is running the education conversation. They created it and they own it. It’s time to take the conversation back and use our own voice. Not one tied to corporate interests and takeovers. Not one tied to the wealthy and what they want. If one thing has been proven in history time and time again, it’s the power of the people. A collective, large voice can carry more weight than any politician or agenda. The wolf isn’t at the door, it’s in the house plundering everything you own and cherish.