House Bill 61 would make all public school boards, including charter and vocational, record their board meetings and publish them on their website within seven business days. This bill is very important, and it operates in the same vein as House Bill 50, the parent opt-out bill. It would give parents and citizens major transparency into the workings of our schools. There has never been a more urgent call for transparency in Delaware schools and parents have a right to know what is going on. This bill just codifies this transparency right. Please email Delaware Speaker of the House Pete Schwartzkopf at firstname.lastname@example.org and ask him to put this on the agenda as soon as possible!
Today at 9:29 PM
Dear Representative and Speaker of the House Schwartzkopf,
I am writing you this evening to bring House Bill 61 to a full House vote. This would be the third legislative session this bill has sat on the ready list with no action taken after committee. I think this year it is essential this bill moves forward. We have many charter schools who are or who have been under formal review. It is very important the people of Delaware have the ability to hear what is being said at board meetings. As I’m sure you know, the State Board of Education and many school district boards already record their meetings and make them available to the public.
This fiscal year alone, we have serious financial mismanagements at several charter schools. Three of them are currently under investigation at State Auditor Tom Wagner’s office, and I’ve heard there are more charters yet to be named as well as at least two school districts. It is imperative parents know the full scope of what is going on in our schools so we can make the best possible choices for our children. Unfortunately, most parents are not able to attend board meetings, but this bill would allow them the capability of making the time to listen to the decisions being made at all of our schools.
I attend many meetings where they are recorded, and it is often necessary to go back and listen again to understand the full scenario on certain issues. Parents want this. Some don’t even know they want this yet. But the day may come when their child’s school is under investigation, or parents just want to know what happens at this level, and with the passage of House Bill 61, it would be a reality. You already impressed many with your yes vote for House Bill 50, now it is time to give more to parents through transparency. Thank you for your time,
The clock is ticking fast for the last days of the Delaware General Assembly’s legislative session. June 30th is the last day, and House Bill 50 has one last stop before it either goes to Governor Markell or gasps its last breath on the Senate floor. Many folks have been emailing the Senate, and I would love it if everyone reading this in Delaware could do the same if they haven’t already.
Here’s the latest: Senator David Sokola, the Chair of the Senate Education Committee plans to add an amendment to the bill adding all state assessments as well as district-wide assessments that parents “can” opt out of. This bewildering move is strategic on his part. The Senate may pitch a fit over this thinking parents can opt out of any test. They can, but they are only choosing to opt out of one test: The Smarter Balanced Assessment. The Senate doesn’t release their committee votes, but all eight agreed to release the bill with one unfavorable.
The Senate is an unknown enigma in this opt out saga. I had a feeling it would pass the House, but not with a 36-3 vote! The problem now is Senate Joint Resolution #2. I can see someone saying “But we are already doing the assessment inventory.” Well played Sokola. Not really, it was a shady plan you and Jaques cooked up there, fully backed by Governor Markell I’m sure. But now it is time to put this to the test (no pun intended). Let the Senate decide. Put this up on the agenda this week. And don’t do it with any backroom deals. Be a Senator, but more important, be a man and put this up!!!
The Delaware State Board of Education meeting is scheduled for Thursday June 18th at 1pm. Not only do we have four charter schools awaiting the final decisions of their formal reviews, but we also have more teacher regulations again and more information on the State Review of Educational Opportunities (SREO). The last is an initiative announced by Governor Markell back in March.
The four Delaware charters under formal review are Academy of Dover (Financial and Academic), Prestige Academy (Enrollment and Academic), Freire Charter (Enrollment, became review of their special education services as well), and Delaware Design Lab High School (Enrollment). Freire and Design Lab have met their enrollment figures. Academy of Dover has entered into a settlement agreement with Mosaica who they owed a $2 million judgment to). The academic portions will need to be satisfactory to Secretary of Education Mark Murphy and the State Board when they make their decision. The Charter School Accountability Committee recommended probation for all four schools.
Seriously? You are telling staff the formal review is going on because I have a vendetta against charters? I didn’t cause your former head of school to pillage state funds. I didn’t cause a teacher to kick a student who SHOULD have an IEP. I didn’t draw up the documents to make you pay a judgment against Mosaica for $2 million dollars. I didn’t cause your standardized test scores to go down. I didn’t cause your board to fail to post minutes of their board meetings for years. I didn’t make you not have a Citizen’s Budget Oversight Committee. And I certainly have NO power over the DOE to put you under formal review in the first place. Do you want to know who can take full responsibility for all of this? Your board and your past and present heads of school.
Accountability starts with yourself. Perhaps you wouldn’t be in this predicament if you weren’t so busy trying to blame others for your own colossal mistakes. Get your special education department some training. Make sure all your teachers are certified. Stop being cheap with your funding. Stop lying to the DOE and the Charter School Accountability Committee.
I only write about ANY school that jacks things up so bad I can find it. If that means the DOE, or even your own website shows things that are jacked up, I will write about it. Don’t like it? Don’t mess up. There are mistakes and then there are careless errors. You excel at both. But don’t think for one minute I will give you the ability to think these are all just mistakes. Some of what you’ve done is intentional. You may think you can pull the wool over everyone’s eyes, but if not Thursday, one day your cockiness and arrogance will be your undoing. Only you can change that.
One of the more disturbing parts of the Senate Education testimony was when a citizen gave testimony on behalf of her friend. What happened to her friend’s son was inexcusable and is just one more reason why House Bill 50 needs to become law! Lorraine Gloede spoke at this meeting, and I can vouch for her friend as I have met him a few times now. Keep in mind when reading this that Gloede was only the second public comment. Her commentary ran from 29:06-30:21 on my recorder.
Uhm, (Sokola interrupts: “We’re trying to keep comments short, but, but, if you have something different to say, please…”) I’d just like to ask Mr. Murphy how he will know, with the Smarter Balanced Assessment, how the child is making progress, where improvement is needed. Because from my understanding, all that is received is a score, that teachers don’t have access to the test itself and the answers. But I am here, there was a gentleman sitting next to me, and he just asked me if I could relay what he was going to say. He lives in Smyrna. His next-door neighbor’s child opted out. And they put him into a room where he had nothing to do. It was just like detention. And so he opted out even more. He took his child out of school and is homeschooled now. So I think that part of the reason for this bill is to show that there will be no repercussions, that everyone will understand that, which apparently is not the case now. That’s all.
More from the Senate Education Committee. The following is Senator Dave Lawson’s introductory comments on House Bill 50 from last Wednesday. I’ve always like Lawson. He is a very calm speaker, and he gets down to the nuts and bolts very fast!
Thank you very much. I appreciate the opportunity, cause the bill boils down to a simple parent obligation. Parents are obligated to look after the best interest of their children. And they will opt out, and I think it is one of those things parents have a right to do. They have a right to do a lot of things. To go to private school, or homeschool. There is no opt-out method, but this lays it out so that parents have the right under Delaware law to pull their children from Smarter Balanced. (I think Mark Murphy said “Until when” to Senator Lawson, or someone near him). Until what? Senator Townshend said the test has not been proven. So we will test out? Until the point it’s not of any value. So just to continue to hammer our children with more and more tests, more stress, is unjust and should not be allowed.