Jack Perry to Resign as Executive Director at Prestige Academy

Jack Perry, the original founder and executive director of Prestige Academy has, ahem, chosen to resign at the end of this school year according to a letter from the board of directors addressed to parents of students.

This has nothing to do with my story from earlier today since this letter is dated January 28th.  I would have no way to explain how this out of nowhere news would happen the day after I wrote another article about a Delaware charter leader being let go.  Charter leaders never resign, unless they embezzled tons of money from the school.  Wait, that’s not always the case.  But that is not the case here!

To date this year, heads of school have resigned or been terminated at Academy of Dover, Family Foundations Academy, Academia Antonia Alonso, and now Prestige Academy.  I’m not sure what the current status is concerning Odyssey Head of School Nick Manalakos, but I did post an article last December indicating he may be making a switch to a Kent County charter.

I would have to assume Mr. Perry wants to resign, for whatever reason.  I do find it interesting the board said his tenure was “beyond the typical duration for a founding leader”.

In other news, the question of the day will be “Can you read between the lines?”

WHYY’s Avi Wolfman-Arent Has Become THE Education Reporter In Delaware

WHYY/Newsworks has the best education reporter in Delaware, bar none!  Avi Wolfman-Arent has written many articles in the past few months that do not have the media bias we see in another Delaware newspaper (I’m talking to you News Journal).  While Avi was writing many articles about Family Foundations Academy, Matthew Albright from the News Journal didn’t even pick it up until a month after everyone else knew what was going on.  Avi has written many excellent stories about the priority schools without the usual Markell-DOE bias seeping through.  It is very refreshing to see someone write articles about education in a major media outlet in Delaware that remembers the basic tenets of journalism.

Take Avi’s article that came out today as an example.  He wrote about Stubbs Elementary School in Wilmington. Stubbs is one of the six labeled priority schools.  But Avi went to see a steel drum concert.  When I read this, it just made me realize even more that none of these schools should become priority schools and all that goes with that.  Please read Avi’s article entitled “Day In The Sun, For Delaware School Caught In The Crosshairs”: http://www.newsworks.org/index.php/local/item/77946-day-in-the-sun-for-school-in-the-crosshairs?l=df

Elizabeth Paige, a member of the Christina School District Board of Education wrote the following about Avi: “As a member of the CSD school board and a member of the community, I appreciate Avi’s work to report on education in Delaware.  This new kid on the block is proactive, approachable, and has shown his willingness to tell a story from many angles.”

Last week, Avi sat down with Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy to get his take on the current hot spots in Delaware education: Common Core, Race To The Top, Priority Schools, and more.  It was an excellent article and video, even though I didn’t agree with a lot of things Murphy said.

Avi has even made an impression all the way down in Sussex County.  Resident Nelia Dolan said “I am grateful there is a reporter in Delaware who is giving voice to all sides of the education debate.”

I see Avi everywhere these days, at House Education Committee meetings, at Board Meetings, and State Board of Education meetings.  I see others there, but Avi’s articles are the ones I will always read first.

 

Let’s Play A Game, It’s Called “Find The Current Prestige Academy Board Minutes”

Based on my earlier article today about the infamous Prestige Academy December board meeting, I thought I would challenge my readers.  You have to go to the Prestige Academy website, here: http://www.prestigeacademycs.org/

And then you have to find their current board minutes.  Time yourself, and then comment on here with how long it took for you to find them.  They are there, you just have to find them.  Good luck, and please don’t throw your computer at the wall in frustration!

Prestige Academy Violates It’s Own Charter At December Board Meeting At A Tavern

I had to do a double-take when I read this, but yeah, this happened!  Only five members of the Prestige Academy 12 person school board were present at their December 15th, 2014 meeting.  In order to have a quorum to vote on anything at a board meeting, a majority of board members have to be present.

According to their own bylaws:

ARTICLE VI: MEETINGS OF THE BOARD

Section 1. Compliance with the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act.

The Board shall conduct its meetings as if it were a “public body” as defined in 29 Del. Code § 10002(a), and according to the requirements of Chapter 100 of said Title 29 (the “Act”). In addition to the published notices required by the Act, notices of each meeting of the Board shall be forwarded to its members by any method that preserves proof of such notice.

Section 2. Quorum.

A quorum for the transaction of business at any meeting of the Board shall consist of at least one-half the voting Directors then serving, except as may otherwise be required by law.

*Bolded for emphasis on my part

So there you have it, as per their own by-laws.  So what happened at their December 15th board meeting? Aside from the fact that it was at a bar (which was in the agenda believe it or not), Buckley’s Tavern, they did indeed vote on items as per their own board minutes.  But what if a student wanted to come to give public comment?  Would they be able to do that without a parent present at a bar?  This didn’t happen, but I just have a thing about board meetings occurring at a place that serves liquor.  Yes, this is also a restaurant, but I didn’t know school boards can have meetings at places that aren’t available to every member of the public.  Did the board have their 45 minute meeting and then get drinks after?  I would certainly hope so!

I have a feeling more Prestige news may be coming out very soon…

In the meantime for Prestige Academy, you may want to update your website.  Having to click on 2012 links for your board minutes, and then going through a couple more links, is not really showing how transparent your school is.  Many people would just assume you haven’t updated your website since 2012!

Ominous Message About Reauthorization of ESEA, Spread This Around

In the past couple days, a very ominous message about the reauthorization of the Elementary Secondary Education Act has been making the rounds over the internet.  We all need to know what our Federal Government is about to unleash on our country.  I see danger signs everywhere!  This seems to be a bi-partisan effort to keep what is hurting students, teachers, and schools the most.

Subject: ALERT: Stop the ReAuthorization of ESEA 

IMPORTANT: ACTION REQUIRED: PLEASE POST EVERY WHERE!

We have heard that Lamar Alexander’s bill to Reauthorize ESEA ( No Child Left Behind but no number yet) is on such a fast track, a aide in the office said…lightning speed. This federal mandate is just like Obamacare…mandating that individual children must meet Common Core and be given individual remediation by IDEA interventions. This will Nationalize Education in the United States. We must contact everyone across the U.S. and particularly Senators Casey and Toomey in Pennsylvania to STOP THE REAUTHORIZATION OF ESEA until an investigation ensues that: 

1. We must investigate the change of funding that funds an individual through money from TITLE I that follows the child. This is a state’s rights issue. Unconstitutional. 

2. We must investigate the entire TITLE I BLANKET of psychological manipulation of redefining a disability under IDEA and the rehabilitation Act which allows a disability to have interventions….not meeting social and emotional outcomes in Common Core. We can prove this through the contracts revealed in Pennsylvania in our ESEA Flex Waiver. (Interpersonal Skills)

3. We must investigate CHOICE using TITLE I  monies that will be used as the voucher that will mandate Common Core to every private school. This will be the destruction of private and religious schools. 

4. We must investigate the expansion of Charter Schools attached to Choice that impacts every private and religious school. There will be an exodus out of public schools that will crash when private schools accept a choice Title I voucher child.  However, our property taxes  fund a public school.  A charter school has no voice and no vote and no elected school board but uses public funds and your tax dollars. Taxation without representation. (takeover by Charter Schools) 

4. We must investigate the  State longitudinal data systems (funded by NCES) tracking individuals with a unique national ID and evaluating ALL TITLE I CHILDREN ( that’s ALL  children under this legislation.)  

Everyone should explain that because of the ESEA Flexibility Waivers issued by Duncan, we already have felt the pangs of erosion of our rights because of Common Core, no local control, the huge data base in NCES collecting personally identifiable information because of unlocking FERPA by an Executive Order by Obama. 

Stop the nationalizing of education. This is Obama’s Equity Plan.

Another One Bites The Dust in DE Charterleaderville

While I can’t name who or what school yet, one of my very rock solid sources has informed me yet another charter leader is set for the chopping block.  Apparently the axe has been rather upset due to all the changes in the Delaware charter world as of late, and wants to take a preemptive swing.  We must always blame leaders, especially when the enrollment is down for the count!  Where will all these poor leaders go?  And who will replace them?  Can’t answer those yet, but apparently the staff won’t be disappointed!  Has any charter in Delaware been untouched this year by scandal or corruption or the DOE microscope?  We still have five months left in this fiscal year, so give it time…

Game of Thrones Season 5 Trailer, Starts 4/12/15

Save The Date! Mark Murphy is Coming to Legislative Hall on February 18th at 3:30pm!

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
Committee Meeting Notice

Chamber: House
Committee: Education
Chairman: Jaques
Room: House Majority Hearing Room
Date/Time: 02/18/2015 03:30:00 PM
Agenda

o Presentation from Secretary Murphy and the Delaware

Department of Education on the Race to the Top Initiative

Delaware Senate Bill 33 To Implement Findings of IEP Task Force

Senator Nicole Poore submitted legislation yesterday to turn the recommendations of the IEP Task Force into law.  House Bill 33 is now in the hands of the Senate Education Committee.  I think the most important change will be from paragraph 3131, section d.

148th General Assembly
Senate Bill # 33
Primary Sponsor: Poore Additional Sponsor(s):    & Sen. Lawson & Rep. Heffernan & Rep. Miro & Rep. Hudson
CoSponsors: Sens. Blevins, Hall-Long, Hocker, Lavelle, Sokola, Townsend; Reps. Baumbach, Bennett, Hensley, Jaques, Q. Johnson, Kenton, Mulrooney, Paradee, Ramone, M. Smith, Viola, K. Williams, Wilson
Introduced on : 01/29/2015
Long Title: AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATION AND THE INDIVIDUALIZED EDUCATION PROGRAM.
Synopsis of Orginal Bill:
(without Amendments)
 
Current Status: Senate Education Committee   On   01/29/2015
Full text of Legislation:
(in HTML format)
Legis.html Email this Bill to a friend
Full text of Legislation:
(in MS Word format)
Legis.Docx   (Microsoft Word is required to view this document.)
Fiscal Notes/Fee Impact: Not Required

Actions History:

Jan 29, 2015 – Assigned to Education Committee in Senate

Shocking Response To Citizen’s Federal FOIA Request Concerning Priority Schools

A Delaware citizen forwarded me this information.  They wished to remain anonymous.  What they received from the US Department of Education was very perplexing.

If this is to be believed, there was no communication between the US Department of Education and DE Secretary of Education Mark Murphy or Governor Markell between January 1st, 2014 and December 23rd, 2014.  Not even one.  Hmmm…

Six More Years of Pat Heffernan On DE State Board of Education

This one slipped under the radar!  We have six more years of the Heff Show during the State Board of Education monthly meetings.  I have to admit, I have no clue what Heff is talking about half the time.  His voting is very crazy on education issues.  I was shocked when he voted no for Gateway’s renewal.  Delaware legislators, isn’t it past time one of you got a bill going for election of these board members?

148th General Assembly
Nominee Information
Gerald Heffernan
Nomination Title:    State Board of Education
(Board/Commission Name)

Status: Passed

Title:
First Name: Gerald
Middle Intial:
Last Name: Heffernan
Designation:
Date Read In: 01/15/2015 Hearing Date:
Length of Term: 6 years Term Expiration Date:

Comments:

Markell Makes Sure Rodel Buddy Gets $10 Million In Budget Funds But No Special Education Funding & Cuts To Seniors?

Governor Jack Markell, you really don’t care what happens in your last two years in office.  But you did make sure your Rodel buddy got confirmed by the Delaware Senate:

148th General Assembly
Nominee Information
Frederick Sears,II
Nomination Title:    Director of the Diamond State Port Corporation
(Board/Commission Name)

Status: Confirmed

Title:
First Name: Frederick
Middle Intial:
Last Name: Sears
Designation: II
Date Read In: 01/08/2015 Hearing Date:
Length of Term: 3 years Term Expiration Date:

 

And then in your 2016 budget speech, you announced you were cutting tax breaks to senior citizens, but you are giving $10 million to the company your Rodel buddy is now leading?  For a  crane and “infrastructure spending”?  And yet the priority schools will only get $5 million in funding over three years? How about using that $10 million for the elderly, or for the special education funding through House Bill 30 which is needed much more than a crane.  Corruption abounds in this state…

Delaware DOE Is Completely Out Of Touch With Reality & Needs To Be Held Accountable

Below are the minutes from the January 21st, 2015 Delaware House Education Committee meeting.  The Delaware DOE presented the latest round of Elementary Secondary Education Act flexibility waivers to the House Education Committee.

They were grilled by legislators with very hard questions.  Some of them were either not answered or given superficial answers without much detail.  State Rep. Kim Williams asked the hardest questions:

Vice-Chair Williams commented that the Operating Budget for the previous year was amended (Sec. 154 and 155, c.1) and removed statutory authority from the legislature and allowed DDOE to “override Delaware law” and provide regulation. She questioned as to why legislators were “kept in the dark” regarding the amended Operating Budget and why was it necessary to “have chapter one removed without” the knowledge of the legislature.  DDOE was unable to answer the questions due to a lack of representation from those who made the decision. Chair Jaques asked that the question be taken to Secretary Murphy and an answer will be brought back to the committee. DDOE agreed.

Vice-Chair Williams continued that she was disappointed to know she voted on the Operating Budget which gave away her authority. She asked that, in the future, the agency explain why an addition or deletion is necessary prior to voting.

The full minutes with fascinating material can be read below.

Special Education in Delaware Is Still Failing Miserably Based On Annual Performance Report

The Delaware Department of Education Exceptional Children Resources Group gave a presentation to the Governors Advisory Council for Exceptional Children (GACEC) on January 20th.  This was led by the Director of the DOE group, Mary Ann Mieczkowski, also a member of GACEC, as well as another member of this DOE Group, Barb Mazza.

The presentation dealt with the indicators all states are judged on by the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) in the US Department of Education.  There are 17 indicators, and this presentation showed how Delaware did for 16 of them for Fiscal Year 2013.  Last June, OSEP labeled Delaware as one of three states needing federal intervention for special education.

Did they improve for FY 2013?  Read the below file and judge for yourself. Continue reading Special Education in Delaware Is Still Failing Miserably Based On Annual Performance Report

Are Vine Academy and Lean Tech Academy Circumventing State Code With Applications?

House Bill 28.  Wilmington Education Committee.  Wilmington City Council.  All are calling for a “moratorium” on new charter school applications within the City of Wilmington.  House Bill 28 and the WEC are calling for a specific date, until June 30th 2017.

New charter school applicant Lean Tech Academy only specifies New Castle County, even though the application actually states “Identification of geographic area may be as specific as a neighborhood or as general as the city/town identified for the school location.”  New Castle County is pretty big.  I would think the applicants would have something a little more specific in terms of location.  One place they most likely won’t be opening this school is Wilmington based on current lines of thought.  In fact, Dr. Tony Allen specifically said today “There are no charter school applications for Wilmington.”

So I looked at their start-up proposal, and they actually list four specific city/towns in which to have their school: Bear, Odessa, Townsend or North Smyrna.  But first they have to secure financing before they can choose a location.  So they currently have no financing and no location.

Not that the other charter school applicant, Vine Academy, is too sure of things either.  They are choosing the following potential school district locations to open their school: Delmar, Laurel, Milford, Seaford, or Woodbridge.  Another very large geographic area.

I’m sorry, but if the applicants can’t base an impact on the local school district because they have no idea where the school is going to be, they should postpone any application until they have that information.  In my opinion, it is pure arrogance to assume a school has merit if you don’t have funding approved or even a location.

How can the State Board of Education authorize a new charter if the applicant doesn’t have this part of the state code ready, from Title 14, Chapter 5, Paragraph 511, Section C:

(3) In addition to meeting the approval criteria established in § 512 of this title, an authorizer considering an application for a new charter school or for a modification as described in paragraph (b)(2) of this section in which the increased enrollment will occur less than 18 months from the date of application (an “expansion”), shall also consider the potential positive and negative impact of the proposed new school or expansion on the schools and the community from which the charter school’s new students will likely be drawn. In reviewing the impact, the authorizer shall consider all information furnished to it during the application process and may exercise its reasonable discretion in determining whether the proposed new school or expansion is contrary to the best interests of the community to be served, including both those students likely to attend the charter school and those students likely to attend traditional public schools in the community.

Sounds to me like they will have to have specific locations nailed down by the end of February.  If not, they are in violation of state code.  Lean Tech has a very slow website, but I couldn’t even find one for Vine Academy.  Better get moving!

Delaware Legislators appear to be coming out of self induced coma Re: H.B. #34

This is the House Bill State Rep. Jeffrey Spiegelman wrote about in a letter to the editor in The State News a couple weeks ago. I’m glad to see it was submitted. I’m even happier at some of the Kent County names on this bill as well!

Live From Legislative Hall, the Wilmington Education Committee Presentation to Joint Education Committees

Both the House and the Senate are here for a joint committee meeting to hear Dr. Tony Allen present the recommendations of the Wilmington Education Committee.

Dr. Tony Allen is explaining how Wilmington Education Committee came about and recent developments such as Governor Markell issued priority school directives, the ACLU Complaint, and the closure of Reach and Moyer charter schools.

“It is the time to act.  It is time to set Wilmington education on a new and different path…anything less will continue to compromise the lives of our children…we don’t enter this situation lightly.”

Allen explained how a week after the priority schools announcement, Markell reached out to him to begin the Wilmington Education Advisory Committee.  Educators, parents, community leaders, and members of University of Delaware teams are members of the team.  They reviewed 117 years of Wilmington education.  “It has been fraught with many challenges.”  Brown vs. Board of Education was ruled on in 1954, but Delaware didn’t act on it for many years later.  Talking about the Neighborhood Schools Act, the recommendations from all those committees have not been acted on.  “The confluence of events with education give us this window of opportunity to act.” Continue reading Live From Legislative Hall, the Wilmington Education Committee Presentation to Joint Education Committees

House Bill 30 Introduced To Deal With Special Education Funding in Delaware

Last July, I found a startling piece of information while investigating the Delaware Department of Education Exceptional Children Resources Group.  For students listed under basic special education in grades Kindergarten through 3rd grade, they receive no additional funding even when they have an IEP.  This is based on the needs-based funding, which was House Bill 1 in the 146th General Assembly and was signed by  Governor Markell in February 2011.  With this bill, these students would receive additional funding that is desperately needed.

This can help the schools hire more special education teachers and get more funding for further resources needed to help the critical needs of these students.  Sponsored by Delaware State Representative Kim Williams and Delaware Senators Poore and McDowell, this bill finally allow students at a critical juncture to get the proper funding they need.  I think it’s a good sign this bill has 32 sponsors!

There is an excellent article on this here: http://www.dehousedems.com/press/bill-would-extend-special-education-all-students-k-3

Primary Sponsor: K. Williams Additional Sponsor(s):    Sen. McDowell & Sen. Poore
CoSponsors: Reps. Barbieri, Baumbach, Bennett, Bolden, Brady, Carson, Heffernan, Jaques, Q. Johnson, J. Johnson, Keeley, Kowalko, Longhurst, Lynn, Matthews, Mitchell, Mulrooney, Osienski, Paradee, Potter, Schwartzkopf, B. Short, M. Smith, Viola; Sens. Bushweller, Ennis, Henry, Sokola, Townsend
Introduced on : 01/28/2015
Long Title: AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO PUBLIC SCHOOLS.
Synopsis of Orginal Bill:
(without Amendments)
This bill provides State funding to kindergarten through third grade for basic special education. State funding already occurs for intensive and complex special education during these grades. Currently the basic special education funding runs from fourth through twelfth grade. This bill is an effort to promote earlier identification and assistance for basic special education needs which should then mitigate costs over the long term.
Current Status: House Education Committee   On   01/28/15

Georgia’s New State Superintendent Criticizes Federal Testing Mandates: A Must-Read!

Diane Ravitch's blog

Georgia’s recently elected State Superintendent Richard Woods wrote a terrific letter to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, explaining patiently why federal testing mandates are defective. The letter was printed in Maureen Downey’s blog at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Superintendent Woods sounds like a veteran educator, which he is. He pulls no punches. This is what he wrote:

Dear Secretary Duncan,

With the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) comes an opportunity to address the valid concerns of students, parents, teachers, and communities regarding the quantity and quality of federally mandated standardized tests.

As Georgia’s School Superintendent, I have a constitutional duty to convey those concerns and provide ideas on how to move my state and our nation forward. Georgia recently entered into a $108 million contract to deliver federally mandated standardized tests to our students. That figure does not include the millions of dollars spent to develop and…

View original post 469 more words

* Integrating content areas into reading, social skills, and math

Teachezwell is awesome! If you are a teacher, especially in the special education arena, I highly recommend you read this. She hits the bulls-eye every time. We need more teachers like her because she understands that just because a student has a disability they can still learn and adapt. You just have to work with them, not against them.

Teachezwell Blog

atomglobe.jpgOK, here’s my bias.  Reading, writing, and math are core subjects to me, as are social skills and behavior.  At least one of these five subjects lies at the heart of needed remediation for special needs kids. I believe reading and social skills are primary.  They both allow access to the realms of the typical learners who never give a second (negative) thought to their abilities.  Lack of these two fundamental skills can lead to all manner of distress, anxiety, relational conflicts, and isolation.  Social skills and behavior are cousins, so the same consequences apply.  Math and writing follow closely behind as factors determining academic success and basic life skill acquisition.

The good news?  Science and social studies are often areas of interest for kids with the above weaknesses, the kids with autism, dyslexia or dyscalculia, and those labeled twice exceptional.  These content areas provide a footing upon which to build reading skills and a toolkit for incorporating social skills and behavior instruction through…

View original post 186 more words