Breaking News: Lamont Browne Leaving EastSide Charter & Family Foundations Academy

The Delaware exodus continues.  Next up: Dr. Lamont Browne, the Executive Director of EastSide Charter School and Family Foundations Academy.  Browne will leave his mini charter empire on June 30th.  This hasn’t been officially announced, but it will be tomorrow night at their board meeting.  The word on the street has him going to Relay Graduate School’s Colorado program in Denver.

Browne joined EastSide Charter School in 2011 after a couple of years as a Principal in Philadelphia.  His goal was to turnaround the struggling charter school.  After a few years under Browne’s leadership, EastSide showed major gains on the former Delaware state assessment, DCAS.  As honors and kudos came to him from Governor Markell and the State Board of Education, the board of EastSide took over Family Foundations Academy after major financial fraud by the two school leaders.  Browne became the Executive Director of Delaware Charter Schools: EastSide & Family Foundations Academy.  For all the growth the students at EastSide had on DCAS, the school did horrible on the Smarter Balanced Assessment last year.  While this was consistent throughout the state, it was surprising to see EastSide near the bottom of the list for Delaware charter schools.

Many viewed Browne as a miracle worker with the growth students experienced at EastSide.  As a former member of the Teach For America Corps, Browne used many TFAers at EastSide.  But the school also experienced a lot of turnover with students so it was hard to pinpoint the exact growth at a consistent level.  For the Common Core standardized testing cheerleaders in Delaware, Browne became the poster leader for school growth in Delaware.  In March 2015, Browne was one of the five participants in the Imagine Delaware Forum.  He also served on the leadership council of the Vision Coalition, the offshoot of the Rodel Foundation.

The timing of Browne’s departure for the Colorado relay program matches with the timetable for Relay going into full operation mode in Denver this summer.  Relay Graduate School, similar to Teach For America, has what many view as very controversial teacher and leader preparation programs.  The corporate education reform movement loves them both.  Browne is a huge believer in teacher leaders elevating to principal roles in Delaware schools.

Obviously, there is no word on who will take over Browne’s title.  Many of the principals at the two charter schools he oversees are new principals with very little experience.  The next few months will be interesting to watch.  Especially when something happens on Moore and Brewington, the former Family Foundations leaders…

When Angels are Bystanders

Urgency of Now

My soul weeps and shudders in shame

To know that she was hoping for an angel who never came.

To know that if they dared droves of angels could’ve swooped in

But only if they cared for life more than they cared for groupthink.

Celestial beings who missed the moment their glorious wings were about to sprout

Because they lost their focus on purpose and courage for standing out.

Instead, the angels sought better angles to witness a tragedy unfold;

It’s a travesty they couldn’t see the stage was set for the majesty of bold.

So many angels whose sturdy shoulders were supposed to be an anchor

But they’re unstable, steeped in politics, arguments, and rancor.


Too many angels are out of commission in the system;

They forgot their mission was to serve and to listen.

Now we’re living with these sins of omission

Of all the heavenly stewards so…

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Should Criminal Charges Be Filed Against Those Who Watched Amy’s Assault?

We see it all the time.  Video footage surfaces of fights, in and out of schools.  They are all over social media.  While this can be used as evidence in a criminal investigation, it also glorifies the actual fighting.  Last week, Amy Joyner-Francis died from blunt force trauma to her head.  While this has not been labeled as the “official cause of death” pending an autopsy, my hunch is it will be.  Several students filmed the fight and watched.  They did not intervene.  Many of them cheered it on and formed a blockade so adults couldn’t get in to the bathroom at Howard High School of Technology.  Many feel they should be charged as well.  While they didn’t commit the act, they also did nothing that could have stopped it.  As well, should schools act on these issues if the justice system does not?  Please take the below poll and feel free to comment on this thread.  There will be many different opinions so let’s keep it civil!  If you vote “Other” please put what punishment or non-punishment you think they should get.

Why Are So Many Charters In Delaware Starting Smarter Balanced After Traditional Districts?

This question came up last year and it is happening again this year.  Why do many Delaware charters get to begin Smarter Balanced testing anywhere from 3-7 weeks after traditional school districts take the assessment?  That is a lot more instruction students are getting.  That can make a large difference in the scores on SBAC.  It can make some schools look better.  Not that I think anything involving standardized test scores actually means anything, but our state and policy-makers do and they allow our DOE to judge schools based on the performance of these tests.  As well, schools are now getting rewarded based on their test scores and receiving financial awards.

I challenge all school districts and charters, or the parents thereof, to let me know when kids started taking the Smarter Balanced Assessment in your schools this year.  When the scores come out, it will be very interesting to see if that additional month makes a difference.  My feeling is that it probably does.  As well, how do we really know, since the tests are already out there so much earlier, that some schools aren’t given a heads up on what to expect on the tests and design instruction based on that?  I’m sure the DOE would respond “they can’t do that”.  But we all know the DOE does many things “they can’t do” but they do it anyway.

If there is one consistent thing I’ve heard this year about opt out it is that some schools are still sending out the -yawn- Delaware DOE template letter they sent to schools and districts way back in December of 2014.  The one with laws with … two times in the middle of the sentence.  The one where it cherry-picks certain words in the law without giving the full context, weight, or even the meaning of the law.  You know, the illegal letter.  The one that is about enforceable as a Resolution in the Delaware General Assembly.  I know the testing season is nearing the end for this year, but some schools haven’t begun testing yet, so it is important to continue to get the word out there for parents who don’t know this information.  Of course, this wouldn’t even be necessary to point out if our General Assembly did the right thing with House Bill 50.  But it appears that ship has sailed.  Please share on your Facebook pages and social media.

WEIC Meeting Tonight, The DOE’s Divide And Conquer Strategy Next Monday, & The Capital Debate

The Wilmington Education Improvement Commission is having a full commission meeting tonight at the Community Education Building in Wilmington.  The meeting on the 2nd floor in the teacher’s lounge begins at 5:30pm.  Many big education meetings are going down Monday afternoon with overlapping times, thereby ensuring no one can possibly make all three meetings.  As well, the very odd-sounding EFIC group has another meeting and the candidates for the Capital School Board are having a question and answer night!  But first, the WEIC agenda:

WEICAgenda42616I would imagine the group is a bit nervous since no legislation has been introduced to move forward on their redistricting plan.  If I were a betting man, it is coming but not until late June.  Tomorrow, one of the WEIC sub-committees is having a meeting: The Charter & District mud fight Collaboration Committee.

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But next Monday is where a lot of the action is as groups meet about the assessment inventory, student data privacy and the Every Student Succeeds Act.  It is possible to make all three if you drive REALLY fast and miss portions of two of the meetings.  But if you want free soda and pizza on the taxpayer’s dime, go to the last meeting!

The first one, which I’m most interested in given that I write a lot about student data privacy all the time these days, is the Data-Mining Club Student Data Privacy Protection Task Force.  They canceled the last meeting because they knew they wouldn’t have a quorum.  I would have put the agenda in, but of course the link doesn’t work.  I guess they want to make it private! 😉

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In the next episode of “We Hate Parents so we are going to trick them out of opting out by making it look like we are getting rid of the bad tests”, the committee meets to discuss testing in Delaware.  Someone on the DOE side will talk about how essential the Smarter Balanced Assessment is and someone from the “good guys” side of the table will question what the hell we are even doing.  Audience members will give public comment overwhelmingly on the side of “Smarter Balanced sucks”.

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To see the wonderful world of the Every Student Succeeds Act through the eyes of Corporate Education Reform Cheerleader State Board of Education Executive Director Donna Johnson, come to Grotto’s Pizza at 5:30pm.  Keep in mind, everyone is still trying to figure out what the hell this mammoth law even means so anything Donna talks about will be subject to change.  Expect many “I don’t know”s and “We don’t know yet”s coming from the microphone for this one.  We can expect a lot of the same people to show up to this one.  Last time I went to one of these I got to take part in a table discussion with Kendall Massett from the Delaware Charter Schools Network and Melissa Hopkins from the Rodel Foundation.  Talk about awkward!  But it was all good…

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And then on Tuesday, the Education Funding Task Force is meeting again to finalize their pre-determined potential education funding plan for the General Assembly to squeeze in during the last days of their legislative session.

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But THE most exciting education event next week will actually take place at Central Middle School on Wednesday May 4th at 7pm.  Candidates running for the Capital School Board are having a debate!!!  Shameless plug: I am one of the candidates.  Come and find out what our priorities, ideas, and concerns are and what our plans are to improve the district.  And don’t forget, no matter what district you live in, the school board elections are only two weeks away, on May 10th.

Capital Candidate Night

The Wink

Last Thursday at the Delaware State Board of Education meeting, Chris Ruszkowski gave his last public appearance as the Chief of the Teacher Leader Effectiveness Unit at the Delaware Department of Education.  State Board President Dr. Teri Quinn Gray congratulated Ruszkowski on his departure to New Mexico.  As a few of us feverishly went to Google to find out what that was all about, a DOE employee informed me he was going to be the new Deputy Secretary of Education for New Mexico.  I put up a very short post about it right away.

Shortly after, Ruszkowski winked and smiled at me.  I have to wonder what that was about.  Was it his way of saying “You were right about everything but guess what, I’m moving up in the education world.”  Or was it “I can’t stand you, but I’m not going to let you know that.”  It could have possibly been “You were wrong about everything.  There you sit with your little blog while I’m off to New Mexico.”  I’ll probably never know.  Or there could have been other reasons.  Maybe he really liked the “Surfer Boy” nickname I gave him.  Perhaps he enjoyed the cat and mouse games myself and others played with him and it kept him on his toes.

It is my hope his replacement, Angeline Rivello, seizes the opportunity to make this area of the DOE more transparent and less judgmental about our teachers in Delaware.  Ruszkowski didn’t just burn bridges, he blew them up.

All I can say is good luck. New Mexico is going to need it!