There are three major education groups going on right now. We have the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission (WEIC) led by Bank of America executive Tony Allen, the Rodel sponsored Student Success 2025 brought to us by the Vision Coalition, and the Delaware Department of Education’s Statewide Review of Educational Opportunities (SREO). These are all going on at the same time, and it makes me wonder…
The biggest thing I noticed on WEIC was the glaring fact there was NO representation from DOE or Rodel on the leadership team. At first glance, I didn’t notice a lot of the major charter players at all. But they are well-represented on the Vision Student success 2025 gig: Rodel’s Dr. Paul Herdman, Eastside Charter’s Dr. Lamont Browne, Teach For America’s Laurissa Schutt, H. Raye Jones Avery, well-known charter supporters and business leaders Gary Stockbridge and Ernie Diastasis, Longwood Foundation President There DuPont, Saul-Ewing Charter School Attorney Jim Taylor, Maria Matos, Freire’s Assistant Head of Academics Paul Ramirez, and Rodman Ward III. And from the DOE there is Mark Murphy (not sure on his status now that he “resigned”), Vice-President of the State Board of Education Jorge Melendez, Chief of the Teacher & Leader Effectiveness Unit Chris Ruszkowski, Chief Academic Officer Michael Watson, and State Board of Education Director Donna Johnson.
As for the Statewide Review of Educational Opportunities, their membership consists of, well, not too many people. The only folks I’ve seen on paper is Executive Director of the State Board of Education Donna Johnson and DOE Chief Policy and External Communications Officer Susan Haberstroh. The Legislative Hall duo. These are the only names on this group at this point and we have no idea who the stakeholders are aside from local education agencies and their data that will be collected. On it’s face, the SREO is merely a data collection initiative, to be collected, collated, and dissected to find “best practices” in our schools. My issues with this are 1) the vendor is Public Consulting Group, 2) there are always mitigating factors why some schools are “better” than others and trying to copy certain models in other areas of the state may not work, 3) it was a rush announcement by Governor Markell who actually came to a State Board of Education meeting to announce it in March.
All three of these groups have some similar goals for Delaware education. If you look at the three documents below, it is easy to see the similarities but all the differences:
While certain goals in these three groups are similar, such as funding and best interests for students, some are very different. But if you add up all the pieces, it equals a combined picture that includes nearly aspect of Delaware education. I do not believe this is a coincidence. A year ago, all roads let to the Wilmington Education Advisory Committee. Now, all roads lead to Governor Markell and Rodel.
I have hypothesized for a year now that Wilmington will become an all-charter school district eventually. I still believe this is the Governor’s goal. Last night, at the Red Clay board meeting, serious questions were asked by the board to Dan Rich and Tizzy Lockman with WEIC. The board questioned where their authority in all of this is. In the wording of Senate Bill 122, it states the State Board of Education can act without a referendum if the local school board approves a resolution supporting the WEAC recommendations. Red Clay did this in April. The law does not specifically name the school districts that can be redrawn. So who is to say charter schools can’t be considered a school district? They can, and they could have say in all of this before all is said and done.
The alignment for a total takeover is present, right now. But there is one huge glitch in the whole plan…funding. Who pays for any of this? Red Clay? Christina? The taxpayers (invariably, they always do), the State of Delaware? Corporations? And there may be one other snafu in this whole process… but I’m not going to let that cat out of the bag!