Ten Crazy Days In Delaware Education & A Glimpse Of The Future

August is supposed to be the twilight of summer.  Stuff isn’t supposed to happen.  At least until school starts in the 3rd week of the month.  Like last year though, this August has been anything but quiet.

It started on August 5th when I came out with a massive article alleging Newark Charter School was using student body activity funds to pay for capital expenses.  Like most things in Delaware, nothing came of that one.  The next day, I discovered the NY PTA wasn’t as scared of National PTA and their opt out threat as the Delaware PTA was last winter.  A week ago today I found out Academy of Dover was having some money issues… again.  But the biggest bombshell of the week (in my opinion, and there were many), was when I started looking into the pending contract for Delaware’s Social Studies state assessment and found out all sorts of things about high-stakes tests and Delaware’s Smarter Balanced Assessment.  All of this went down on three of the hottest days of the summer.

As the new week started, I called out Christina School District’s CFO Bob Silber for not responding to my inquiry about why Christina spent over $50,000 for non-state employee travel with federal funds.  Still waiting on an answer from Bob on that one after a month.  The Exceptional Children Resources Group at the Delaware DOE dropped a ton of due process hearing and administrative complaint reports.  A hearing for Trinity Carr, the murderer of Amy Joyner-Francis, had a bit of controversy and gave some more details about what happened that day.  On Tuesday, the State Board of Education held an Every Student Succeeds Act Workshop at Grotto’s Pizza in Dover.  Usual Kool-Aid fest!  I posted a photo album of the event.  On Wednesday, I played pin the tail on the Appoquinimink special education tuition tax warrant again after they went on WDEL and basically called me a liar.

Things quieted down for about an hour on Thursday when it was revealed Brian Touchette left the Delaware DOE.  But then the hat trick went down.  In hockey, a hat trick is when a player scores three goals in one game.  The hat trick in this case was the Delaware DOE and Governor Markell pulling fast ones and really ticking myself and others off.  The first was the press release about the Teacher Leader Pilot program and the bizarre email from last May which shed a lot of light on how despicable and manipulative the DOE really is.  Then came Assistant Deputy Secretary of Education David Blowman’s email response about the Freire opt out scandal and the DOE basically saying congratulations to the charter school.  As if those two events didn’t piss me off to no end, then I read Governor Markell’s back-stabbing Executive Order about a Pathways To Prosperity steering committee that the General Assembly had already squashed.  By the time I went to bed Friday night, I was very angry at how much the DOE and Markell don’t care about how their actions impact others and they act with impunity.

I used three words from a song that came out in 1983 for a post yesterday about how nothing is invincible.  Proving that I do have a life outside of this blog, I wrote about an excellent new television series called Stranger Things this morning.  And finally, I wrote two articles about Governor Markell signing the charter school audit bill and how Kendall Massett is bad for education.  As well, I pondered why the hell Michael Duffy from Great Oaks Charter School (and not even the one in Delaware) attended the bill signing.  I also felt Kathleen Davies should have been there and I vowed to find out why she was really put on leave at the Delaware Auditor of Account’s office.

All this kept me busy, but there were a few things I didn’t write about.  Delaware lost one of our State Representatives this week as Jack Peterman succumbed to prostate cancer.  I heard more parents grumbling about how they really didn’t care how their kids did on the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  It was hot as hell this week, but hopefully that will end tomorrow night.  Outcast got really interesting if you watch that show.  Matt Denn’s office did email me last week to inform me that the charter school thieves are under investigation but they can’t say anything more than that.  But they stressed it is active.

How do you top all that?  Who the hell knows.  This is Delaware education.  Last year, after the Donna Johnson outing and the Christina drama, I thought things would quiet down.  But then I found out about the Accountability Framework Working Group and the very punitive opt out penalties against schools.  That set the track for a very busy fall last year.

There are things I know I will be writing about this week: the State Board of Education meeting and the Congressional education debate up in Wilmington.  Hans Reigle informed me he will not be able to make it, but it will be interesting to see Townsend, Blunt-Rochester, Barney, Miller, Gesty and the rest talk about education.  Both of those will be on Thursday.  I foresee getting a lot of dirty looks at that State Board meeting.  That’s okay.  I’ll be giving them right back if that’s the case.  I am hoping to get some “Part 2s” of series I started a long time ago and haven’t gotten around to.  Especially the Delaware Illuminati series given what went down this week.  As the Delaware primary is thirty days away, I expect I will be putting out some endorsements of candidates.  There is one thing coming out, maybe some this month but all of them in September, that has me very excited.  All public schools in Delaware have to record their board meetings and put them up on their websites in seven days.  I’m going to predict a lot of “technical difficulties” for charter schools.  As well, it could be a FOIApalooza watching them go in and out of executive session.  I may put some more graphs up about district and charter finances in FY2016.  You can also expect my predictions for the 2016-2017 school year this week.  The other girls involved in the Amy Howard murder have a court case tomorrow and the judge in the Trinity Carr case should decide by Friday if she will be tried as an adult.

There could be some follow-up or fallout from the articles I put up in the last ten days.  I hope so.  There is too much elusive and non-transparent crap going on in education.  I don’t mind shaking things up at all and watching the dust settle.  There is also a lot of stuff I can’t talk about… yet.  There is always something cooking on the back burner.  I do a lot of research and save it.  Very often, something happens and I find a need to go back to that research when something clicks.  There are some things I predict won’t happen this week: Bob Silber won’t respond to my email, Tom Wagner won’t respond to anything or anyone, John Carney won’t respond to me, and Jack Markell will do something stupid.

To be fair, this isn’t original.  Kavips started this last week with a week in review.  It inspired me!

Why Was The Greak Oaks Charter School Founder Invited To The Signing Of The Delaware Charter School Audit Bill?

HB435Signing

I found out who that guy is next to Kendall Massett.  It is Michael Duffy, the founder of the Great Oaks Charter School franchise.  Why is he in this picture?  Did he have absolutely anything to do with this legislation?  I doubt it.  Do you want to know who should be in this picture?  Kathleen Davies, from the Delaware Auditor of Accounts office.  Not some guy who used to run the Charter School Office at the New York DOE.  Was he there as Kendall’s guest or was he just hobnobbing with his fellow Education Inc. buddy, Jack Markell?  Jack was busy that day, launching the Teacher Leader fraud program and stabbing his fellow legislators in the back with his Executive Order.  Davies should have been there.  I will find out who screwed you over Kathleen!

If Kendall Massett Is In The Picture, It’s Bad For Public Non-Charters. Period.

HB435Signing

On Thursday, Delaware Governor Jack Markell signed House Bill 435, the charter school audit bill.  After 15 months of back and forth between the forces of right and the shadows of wrong, we finally have something that is better than what existed before.  It could have been better, but Kendall Massett (runs the Delaware Charter Schools Network) had to stick her nose in it and get Senator David Sokola (the only guy who isn’t looking in the camera) to mess around with it.

I’ve seen Kendall several times.  We are polar opposites on education policy.  We always say hi to each other.  She has never written anything bad about me.  I can’t say the same.  We don’t see a lot of the corporate education reformers attacking people.  They have the power (or the illusion of it) so they don’t have to.  They are the ones who have a massive amount of lobbyists and political influence to get what they want.  Using Star Wars as an analogy, they are the Evil Empire, and folks like me are the Rebels, fighting the stuff they do with every fiber of our being.

House Bill 435 was a compromise bill.  Had Kendall not interfered with it, there would be a lot more transparency coming out with future audits of charter schools.  They are required to have annual audits.  But those audits miss a hell of a lot of information, as was the case with Academy of Dover and Family Foundations Academy.  We have something less than what it was meant to be because one woman couldn’t have her charter schools look bad.  If she is in the picture, charter schools will benefit while traditional public schools will suffer more in some way.  It’s a sure thing.

In this picture, we have Governor Markell’s right-hand man (literally, to Markell’s real right, and for the love of God Dave, look into the camera, you have an election coming up.  You aren’t going to get any door-knockers that way!) Senator David Sokola, standing on Jack’s shoulders is Kendall Massett, and to Jack’s far left (literally) is State Rep. Kim Williams.  Of course Jack Markell is the guy in the middle.  I have no clue who the guy next to Kendall is.  My apologies Mr. Unknown!

If Delaware State Rep. Kim Williams is in the picture, we know someone is fighting the good fight, sometimes with insurmountable odds.  We are lucky to have Kim Williams in our corner.  I fully endorse Kim Williams for her upcoming State Rep. election!

Stranger Things

StrangerThingsPic

Remember a time when a new television series riveted the nation and it was all people were talking about?  I just finished watching the Netflix series Stranger Things a few days ago.  This is the perfect summer guilty pleasure.   The series, released on July 15th, is building a lot of buzz.  As I am half way through this mesmerizing series, I can see why.  I never heard of the Duffer Brothers before, but they hit a home run with this.  This is the quintessential show about the best of the 1980s even though it was made in the 21st Century.

Here is the premise: a teenager named Will goes missing.  And something dark lurks in the town.  That’s all you need to know.  The soundtrack to this series represents the best of the 80s.  With songs by The Clash, New Order, Joy Division, Echo & the Bunnymen, Corey Hart, Dolly Parton and more, this brings me right back to the time when I was a teenager.  I remember hearing my parents talking about the 1950s and how they were such a great time.  Looking back, this was the 80s for me.

Stranger Things pays homage to a lot of movies from back then, especially E.T. and The Goonies.  It’s about coming of age in the face of great danger.  It’s about rising up to the fact that there are things not of this world if you only believe.  It’s about good and evil.  I don’t want to ruin it for anyone, but watch Stranger Things.  You won’t be disappointed.