Senate Bill 122 Passes, Allows State Board of Education To Redraw District Lines For Wilmington, House Bill 148 Should Pass Next Week, Creating Wilmington Education Improvement Commission

For legislation introduced last week, these two sure flew through the Delaware House and Senate. I know this is a dream of many in Wilmington, and most especially Tony Allen. So congrats Tony!  Senate Bill 122 passed with a 36 Yes, 3 Not Voting and 2 Absent.  House Bill 148 passed the Senate today but an amendment was added which will kick it back to the House.  Tonight, Allen issued a statement on the passage of Senate Bill 122 and the eventual passage of House Bill 148:

The Wilmington Education Advisory Committee was created last fall out of an executive order issued by Governor Jack Markell. At the same time, the priority schools announcement was just made weeks before, and Wilmington education was a very hot topic. The Committee met for a few months and issued their report in March which gave recommendations to have all Wilmington schools convert to Red Clay Consolidated and Brandywine School Districts. This meant Christina would hand over their schools which they agreed to as a sort of impasse on the priority schools in their district. The WEAC recommendations prevented the priority school deadlines from falling into the DOE and Markell’s hands. It was a moment of conversation that is continuing to this day. I eagerly await what happens next with these two bills. I have no doubt Markell will sign both of them as soon as possible.

House Bill 50 Is In The House! Tuesday That Is! Email The House!

I am hearing from sources that House Bill 50 will be on the agenda for another vote by the full House.  I say, at this point in time, just vote yes, not matter what amendments are on it.  I had my anger today, but at the end of the day, it’s still the same bill, codifying a parents right to opt-out.  And making it so schools are held accountable for their actions with opt-out and not accountable for the results of opt-out.  At the end of the day, it’s about that.  I’ve talked to many parents today, and we want this.  Let the chips fall where they may, but let’s bring this to Governor Markell’s desk!

Dan Shelton, former Principal in Christina S.D., is new Superintendent for Capital School District

According to the Dover Post, the new superintendent of the Capital School District is Dan Shelton.  Shelton served as the Principal at Smith Elementary School in the Christina School District.  More details can be found in the article by Dover Post’s David Paulk:

http://www.doverpost.com/article/20150618/NEWS/150619811

Prestige Academy State Board Decision: Probation

Mark Murphy and the State Board of Education followed their repeated votes of yes for probation status for charters under formal review.  Probation until 6/30/16.

Freire Charter School in Wilmington State Board Decision: Probation

Freire Charter School also put on probation by Mark Murphy and State Board.  Smelling a theme here.  Probation until 12/31/15.  Conditions: Transportation plan by 6/30/15 and update in October on this, special education requirements in terms of implementing services for students with disabilities on IEPs.

Heffernan said having a plan and knowing what it is in it and what is required are different things.  Melendez is talking about safety and insurance worries with dropping off students away from the school.  Going back and forth among board members and timeframes.

Heffernan asking about if a new charter has to have a major modification request if they change buildings.  No one is talking about part of state code about community impact on location.

Just wanted to remark: Mark Murphy just actually smiled.  This doesn’t happen often, so I feel the need to capture this.

Unanimous yes vote for probation.

Delaware Design Lab High School: Probation

Delaware Design Lab on probation until January 2016.  Unanimous vote by State Board and Mark Murphy.

Academy Of Dover Formal Review Decision: Probation

The State Board of Education is talking about Academy of Dover as we speak.  Jennifer Nagourney is reviewing how they got here due to the Mosaica judgment, the previous Head Of School’s financial misuse and academic failure.  Murphy is recommending probation through 6/30/15.  Dr. Gray, president of the state board, is going over the formal review information again.  Motion presented, so moved, seconded.  Heffernan asked how school was all of a sudden able to come up with such a huge amount of funds to put down in the settlement.  Nagourney said they were trying to get a payment plan with Mosaica and were saving funds while attempting to do so.  Heffernan is speaking about the fraud going on in charters and it seems like they are happening more and more but auditors are catching it faster.  The state board is asking about what a board committee does but no one really answered.  In having the state board assent to the findings of the formal review status, unanimous yes.  In terms of probation, unanimous yes.  No word whatsoever on the school’s complete disregard for special education practices.

Delaware Parents: You Don’t Need House Bill 50 To Opt-Out

After watching the absolute degrading way some Delaware legislators handled House Bill 50, I find myself no longer caring if this bill passes or not.  With no disrespect to State Rep. Kowalko, Senator Lawson, and the many legislators who supported this bill, but it has become so watered down it is now a joke.  To the parents of Delaware: you have never needed this legislation to opt your child out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  The bill, as originally written, was always meant to stop the bullying and intimidation going on in our schools.  Yes, it codified a parents right to opt-out, but even more important, it offered protection.  This is what Senator Sokola, State Rep. Jaques, the DOE, Rodel, Governor Markell and all the opposition feared the most.

They don’t want schools to NOT be held accountable.  They don’t want teachers to NOT have their evaluations become skewed due to opt-out.  But most of all, they don’t want their data to become tarnished.  Opt-out does that, in spades.  Seeing the opposition in action has absolutely sickened me to my stomach.  These are people who do not give one iota of a crap about parents.  They are in it for themselves: for power, for an imagined standing with God knows what, for money, and for opportunity.  We all know who they are, and if I haven’t made that abundantly clear in the past year, then I will again and again, one by one.

What I can no longer do is keep going to meeting after meeting, watching vote after vote, and keep seeing a mockery made of parents and students.  Politics in Delaware is frightening.  The side deals, the messages scurried back and forth, like little rats trying to get to the prize.  The very fact that legislators and their aides are not subject to FOIA allows for all kinds of shenanigans.  I saw it yesterday as Governor Markell’s Education Policy Advisor, Lindsey O’Mara, was sending notes to legislators and texting Sokola’s legislative assistant Tanner Polce, who would then go to Sokola to say what she said.  What the hell is that?  I’m sure this goes on in politics all the time, and it’s probably not even illegal in this whacked out state, but does that make it right?  No.

We deserve better from our state.  But we continue to vote some of the same people into power again and again and then we scratch our heads and wonder why.  Sokola has been jacking up education in our state for 25 years.  That’s a quarter of a century with a lot of damage.  I’m sure, like most politicians, he had honorable intentions in the beginning.  But now he is a mockery of the office he holds, and I seriously hope a contender comes along and knocks him off his high horse.

I will be writing more about all of this, but I will no longer beg and plead to have my rights honored and those of other parents in our state.  Our rights are there.  You can’t touch them, you can’t see them, but they are as real as the stars in the sky.  Opt your kids out if you don’t like this test.  I will cheer you on the whole time you are doing it, but trying to get laws in place for this I can no longer do in the environment we live in.  What the “evil” legislators are doing is so toxic to children, and they don’t care.  They don’t live in the same world as you or I.  To so many of them, it is about what happens in their chamber at Legislative Hall in Dover.

To the teachers of Delaware: you all need to rise up and finally make a stand.  If you don’t like what is happening with your jobs, then you need to once and for all unite and do it loudly.  But do it right, and do it with pride and dignity and don’t back down.  As the saying goes, “you can’t negotiate with terrorists”, and that’s what is happening in your profession.  The fear mongering and threats held over your head cause many of you to sink into a corner.  Stop doing that.  If you believe in what you do, then stand up for it.  Fight.  Do not like a traitor like Jesse Parsley be the voice for teachers.  Call them out and name them.

Parents will fight for their children.  And this battle will continue.  The war is not over.

I am not abandoning opt-out.  At its essence it has always been a grassroots movement based on our deep and abiding love for our children and getting the policy-makers to listen.  None of us wanted this to be a perversion of our beliefs, but that’s what happened thanks to Sokola, Jaques, and all the rest.