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…

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* 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…

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