From the Christina Board meeting last night. Listen to every single word! Hear how four members of the board handed their schools over to the DOE.
In the Delaware Department of Education presentation to their state House Education Committee today on the Elementary Secondary Education Act waivers, State Representative Kim Williams advised the DOE she is “appalled” at their vast overreach in terms of state code.
Mike Matthews wrote on Facebook:
Rep. Kim Williams just leveled an amazing charge against the Delaware Department of Education, asking why they requested language to be added to Epilogue Language that allowed for DOE to OVERRIDE state code. Rep. Williams said she was “appalled” that DOE acted in a manner to override her authority as an ELECTED official. Bam!
Her exact words: “The agency should explain why the addition or deletion is necessary and it should not be hidden away like it was. I’m really appalled by this. I’m embarassed to know this…I was elected by the people to create laws and you guys took it away from us and I’m not going to let that happen again.”
Many questions were asked by legislators and the public why Secretary of Education Mark Murphy would not sign off on the DASL report by the University of Delaware which rated two of the priority schools in the Christina School District as improving. Rep. Sean Matthews asked why charters were not included in the priority school selection process. Delaware DOE Chief of Proficiency and Accountability Penny Schwinn said they were not, but schools like Moyer and Reach had been ordered closed due to low academic achievement. State Rep. John Kowalko advised the DOE of his FOIA results and there was specific language in regards to the charters not being part of the decision on the priority schools.
Schwinn did say no more priority schools will be chosen this year, but she did not specify fiscal year or calendar year.
At the end of the meeting it was announced that next week, on January 28th from 11am to 1pm, the Vice-President of Policy of the National Association of Charter School Authorizers will present during an information session sponsored by the Office of the State Board of Education to discuss issues concerning charters in Delaware and how they relate to other states. As well, on February 18th, Secretary of Education Mark Murphy will be asked to rationalize the Race To The Top spending in Delaware.
More information on this meeting will come later tonight, so stay tuned!
I attended the Christina Board of Education meeting tonight. To say it was chaos would be an understatement. Picture watching France capitulate to Germany in 1940, and that was the Fatal Four on the Christina Board tonight. Enough to get the damn MOUs passed. The Delaware DOE is now clear to reject this MOU and give the district their three options: close, convert to charter, or hand over the schools to a management organization.
The board I saw two weeks ago was vastly different. Tonight there were two clear sides: one that seems to have been brainwashed by the DOE during the non-public and non-recorded negotiation meeting on 1/9, and the other three members of the board who were not given all the pertinent information from the other.
The vote for the priority schools MOUs passed 4-3. But not before board members John Young and Elizabeth Paige attempted to add amendments to the previously approved MOU and modified by the superintendent and the other four board members. Every amendment Young and Paige offered was turned down, with the exception being Paige’s very wise suggestion of deleting the comment “Any other documents are secondary to this document”. That passed 4-3 after teachers in the audience almost had an open revolt over that line which would make their teacher contracts null and void.
Delaware State Representative John Kowalko stormed out when he realized this board was going to pass the MOUs as written. By this time I suspected the four board members had changed the past couple weeks, and the superintendent as well. I asked to give public comment and openly told the four members of the board and the superintendent I didn’t trust them and I requested a FOIA for all board members emails between themselves and the DOE going back to January 1st of this year. I told the Fatal Four they weren’t looking at the audience the way the other two were (from my vantage point, I couldn’t see if board member Ressler was or not, but he was one of the good guys tonight, so I didn’t care).
Red Clay teacher Mike Matthews told board member George Evans he has been on the board 35 years in response to Evan’s comment to Christina teacher Jackie Kook about this “putting the kids first”. Matthews is now campaigning for anyone to run against Evans in the upcoming board seat election.
The Fatal Four who voted Yes for the MOUs were President Fred Polaski, George Evans, Shirley Sutton Saffer, and the one board member I never thought would do anything with an MOU but tear it up, Harrie Ellen Minnehan. The heroes of the night were Young, Paige and Ressler. It seemed obvious an alliance had developed amongst the Fatal Four and Superintendent Dr. Freeman Williams. This cabal, in my opinion, purposely didn’t tell the other board members key information, which was the reason for my FOIA request. If the DOE’s goal was to split the board and turn them against each other, they succeeded.
This was a board divided, and the Fatal Four discounted anything the other three had to say. And it’s not like the other three were just talking about nothing. All of the amendments and their discussion made sense. The Heroic Three were blindsided by the Fatal Four. The Fatal Four should have just told the audience at the beginning of the night they were going to vote yes for the mass destruction of public education in Delaware and saved us all a miserable three and a half hours of sheer hell with their crossed arms and smug angry faces. By the time I requested my FOIA, I felt like I was going to vomit in my mouth if Polaski said “The DOE wants…” one more time.