Who Was Pulling The Strings At Delaware DOE? It Wasn’t Godowsky. And A Message For NCS Parents.

Chartergate 2016 and the aftermath took over social media in Delaware yesterday.  When I searched “Secretary Godowsky” last night on Facebook I saw tons of posts.  Many people were outraged about Godowsky’s actions, but a fair number were upset about my comments concerning Mr. Greg Meece.  I won’t apologize for that.  Chances are probably pretty good I know a bit more about some behind the scenes stuff than you do.

Let me be perfectly clear on something.  I am not the News Journal.  First off, the News Journal wouldn’t write about most of the stuff I’ve figured out over the years.  Second, a blog is not true journalism.  That doesn’t mean the facts are wrong.  But bloggers do not have a journalistic credo they need to have like members of the Associated Press do.  I saw tons of posts about how I’m so wrong about things all the time.  I’ll own that up to a point.  Sometimes I am wrong.  And when I am called out on it, I will either correct it or write about how someone felt I was wrong.

I always use this as a classic example.  When the Family Foundations Academy fraud was going on at the school, I wrote about it before the mainstream media picked up on it.  One gentleman, and I know he won’t mind me saying this, blasted me for it.  How dare I disgrace the school and their leaders by writing about that.  Turns out I was right.  The same thing happened with Academy of Dover.   I wrote about the Smarter Balanced shenanigans, and still there were doubters, but it turned out I was right about everything.

I don’t mind people doubting my information.  I’ve received bad information in the past and ran with it, much to my chagrin.  Here’s the deal though: if our schools and the DOE were more transparent about things, I wouldn’t have to write at all.  But the hard truth some of you may not realize is this: there is a ton of shadiness that goes on in this state.  That’s what I write about.  I can’t just out sources all the time.  I can’t always produce a smoking gun.  But it’s out there.  Most of the time I turn out to be right.  And when I’m wrong and someone actually lets me know that, I’ll do what is right.  Let’s really be honest with ourselves.  With the stuff I find out, am I really going to get an honest answer?  If I emailed Godowsky about this before I published it, he would have ignored me.  I like Steve.  I think he has a very tough job, but at the end of the day, he answers to the Governor.  With what I do and what he does, there really isn’t a time where we can collaborate.  We have talked many times in person.  We’ve even joked around here and there.  But when it comes to the really tough questions I present to him… he can’t own up to them.  I get that.

Here are some facts for the whole mess.

Greg Meece, Joanne Schlossberg, and Stephen Dressel met with Delaware Associate Secretary of Education David Blowman and the director of the Finance area at DOE, Kim Wheatly, last April.  Meece wanted more money from Christina.  Somehow this evolved to all districts and charters.  Secretary of Education Dr. Steven Godowsky is telling people he didn’t know about this until August 19th.  I do know David Blowman was out of the office all last week because I received an out-of-office reply from him.  Blowman and Wheatly set this whole thing up.  Which means Godowsky didn’t know about the letter sent to all the districts on August 8th asking them to justify their restricted and non-restricted sections of their local funds.  I can say with certainty Godowsky was not on that letter.  But I don’t believe it was solely Blowman and Wheatly who knew about this.  Blowman’s boss is Karen Field Rogers, the Deputy Secretary of Education.  And I have always believed that State Board of Education Executive Director Donna Johnson makes it a point to know every single thing that goes on there.  Did it go up higher than that?  I would assume it did.  Education is Jack Markell’s baby, and nobody touches that baby without him knowing about it.

The charters have been holding meetings at the DOE, some public and some private, to change their organizational and financial framework sections of their budget.  They had representation on the Education Funding Task Force this year.  David Blowman was on that task force.  This issue, to the best of my knowledge, never came up during those meetings.

The change in the local pupil cost for charters and choice schools was all set to change.  I found out about this, ironically enough, when I was working on an article about charter school funding.  This news changed that whole article so you may not ever see it.  I heard from one person in one district, then another, and then another.  24 hours later I wrote the article and published it.  When it comes to stuff like this, I explained it the best way I could.  I’m sorry I didn’t pass the News Journal sniff test.  When I break big news, it isn’t going to be easily tied up like an episode of Murder She Wrote.  There isn’t going to be forensic evidence.  Sometimes I’m able to provide that.  But you need to understand that nothing in Delaware is neat and tidy.  We are a very non-transparent state.  There is a good reason we came in 49th place on a national state transparency ranking last year.  Trust me, I would love to have a smoking gun for everything I write.  I want that more than you do.

With stuff like this, you can either take my word for it or don’t and wait for it to be “officially verified”.  I can take the heat.  What I won’t take is someone trying to make an anonymous comment and attacking my son.  That is intolerable.  I’ve written over 2,800 articles on this blog and no one has ever done that until this article.  You don’t like me attacking your school?  I get that.  Blast me all you want.  But don’t you dare make an attempt to come after me through my son with false information.  There is a line, and you went way past it.  I never attack children on this unless they do something so heinous and it is already in the public spotlight, like the Howard High School of Technology murder.  I will write about adults, but attacking kids… no.  And if you disagree with me on something, that’s fine.  But I hope whoever this was realizes this.  You know who you are.

Today, Brian Stephan with Delaware Liberal wrote an excellent article going into the actual financial implications and what it all means.  Thank you Brian!  Brian has much more knowledge about education funding as a member of the Christina Citizens Budget Oversight Committee.  I appreciate him explaining this better than I ever could.  In the article, Brian wrote about what the charter schools seem to be looking for.  It is bogus, in my opinion.

This is my big question, especially for Newark Charter School.  If you have such a great school, great classrooms, great teachers, manageable classroom sizes, students behave better than traditional schools, and so forth, what do you need all this extra money for?  Many charters get extra money when their transportation budget is higher than what they actually spend.  Some charters, like Newark Charter School, get tons of money from this.  Probably more than they would have made had this gone through with Godowsky.  Newark Charter School got free money from the charter school performance fund last year.  $250,000.  They got money from various foundations.  Is it worth all this fuss, especially when they know districts aren’t exactly swimming in money.  Lets face it, all Delaware schools have some fat they can trim.  This isn’t a charter thing, this is a Delaware thing.  I saw many comments about how I am so biased against charters.  I’m not.  I’m biased against financial abuse, closed-door meetings, things done in secret, high-stakes testing, an out of control DOE and Governor, and some legislators who care more about profit and pleasing the rich than they do about kids.  I will fully admit I didn’t understand a ton of aspects with district financing until the past few months.  Charters are smaller so it is easier to find stuff.   I look at them as well now.  But this move that was going to happen until I wrote about it was shady beyond all belief.

Yesterday, the legislators swarmed Godowsky, and he backed down from doing it this year.  And it was a lot more than the four I saw on one legislator’s Facebook post.  But it is not over.  On Thursday morning, all the district business managers are having a meeting at the DOE.  This is a closed meeting.  The charter leaders aren’t backing down on this, and I’m sure the district leaders aren’t going to let this just happen.  This will get ugly.  The legislators are involved now, so a lot could happen either way.  Godowsky and Markell will be gone in January.  So if Markell wants this to happen, he would need to do something now or after the election.

In terms of charter funding overall, the way we are doing it does NOT work.  At all.  It sets up animosity between districts and charters.  We also need to get rid of the false competition which is based on standardized test scores.  And I’m going to say this NCS parents.  Constantly saying we are “jealous” or “his kid must not have gotten into the school” is elitist.  To be honest, I never heard of Newark Charter School until a few years ago.  Ask Greg Meece about me.  See what he says.  Ask him all the questions I’ve written about.  The only time he has ever reached out to me was last winter over a lottery issue with a parent of a disabled child.  Ask him the following:

Why doesn’t NCS show other bank accounts run through the school or school activities on their website?

Why did the board remove their May 2016 board minutes?  These minutes were put back on the NCS website at 5:17am this morning by NCS CFO Joanne Schlossberg, and does discuss the meeting with Blowman:

NCSMayBoardMinutes

New Question: Why were the board minutes modified this morning and put up without approval of the Board of Directors at NCS who has to approve the minutes as per your very own bylaws?

NCSBoardMinutesModified

Why does the school refuse to file a tax return based on very bogus reasons for not doing so in the first place?

Why did Greg Meece ignore the IRS Guidance letter stating charter schools really aren’t exempt from filing tax returns?

Did the school divert funds from allocations they weren’t allowed to in building their STEM lab and their new auditorium?

Why did the school accept a Title I award from the US DOE when they have one of the smallest Title I populations in the entire state?

Why did a teacher from the school publicly state yesterday on a Facebook post that in a year NCS will be over 50% minority?

How can NCS make a claim (from the same teacher) that they have more kids in Basic Special Education in K-5 than many Red Clay schools?

Why would Meece email all the teachers and parents to support the Christina referendum but wouldn’t do it publicly?

Why does Senator Sokola write so much legislation that benefits charters, especially NCS, but has no problem writing laws that make things harder for teachers and parents?  How much input does Greg Meece have on that legislation?

Why does Meece refuse to collaborate on his innovative discipline practices with other schools?

Which, if any, legislators knew about this change in the way districts pay charters before a week ago?  Did any help in the organizing or structure of these secret meetings?  Did any attend these meetings?

Why have I heard from so many teachers in this state that if they disagree with Meece on even the slightest thing they are fired?

And the most important.  Does he believe NCS is better than everyone else?

When he can answer all those questions, which I publicly ask him to do, then I may change my mind about him.  But until then, no, I don’t have a high opinion of him as the Head of School at Newark Charter School.  Sorry, but I have seen and heard far too much to think otherwise.  I understand that for the parents and teachers at NCS it is the greatest place on earth.  There is a reason for that.  And maybe you don’t want to face it, but NCS supposed success is based on very selective enrollment preferences.  Set up a long time ago, this prevents many at-risk kids from attending the school.  Sure, some get in, but not enough based on the demographics.  There are key parts set up which prevent the often-heard excuse of “it’s a lottery, anyone can get in”.  You need to understand that choice has consequences.  It may be great for your kid, but when people like Meece want more money, after he gets tons of it already from Christina and other districts, that takes from the very same at-risk kids who can’t get into that school.  Not in the numbers where it would be a true picture of the surrounding area.  And setting it up with a five-mile radius also prevents kids from not even being able to apply.  So when folks see Meece wanting more money, that is what they see.  They see your kid going to a school built on a façade while their kids will have less.  This isn’t all charters.  But enough.  And when the one that is very guilty of this modern-day social engineering is the genesis of this funding change, you shouldn’t be surprised when there is major blowback.  That’s not jealousy, that’s understanding the implications these actions have on the state.  You want equal funding?  You have to earn that.  Prove it by opening your doors to everyone.  Until then, you can say whatever you want, but we aren’t hearing it.  Not until your demographics show otherwise.

 

 

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13 thoughts on “Who Was Pulling The Strings At Delaware DOE? It Wasn’t Godowsky. And A Message For NCS Parents.

  1. Did you know that NCS changed to a new website over the past few weeks? That may have resulted in the minutes not being there.
    The school doesn’t have an auditorium, it has a cafetorium in the high school building. Remember all that drama about providing lunch? Damn him for having the cafetorium, damn him if he doesn’t.
    Have you ever checked to see if any TPS have ever asked to see the NCS program? They can’t collaborate with non existent partners.
    If NCS has a responsibility to provide the best education possible, should it refuse state or federal funds when offered?
    Claiming that Delaware Liberal wrote an “article” – it’s a blog, not a news report.
    You seem to randomly throw things out as if they are facts when you are clearly wrong. This brings into question the validity of your claims & phrasing regarding restricted funds.
    Frankly, it says very little about your character to make attacks on the character of another person using terms like “stupid little man” and arrogant when you’ve never met him.

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    1. Another NCS parent or educator to the rescue! I write articles for my blog. So does Delaware Liberal. Yes, I’m aware NCS changed websites. Everything else navigated over just fine except for the one month of board minutes that showed what happened at a meeting about districts paying charter schools just when the Secretary of Education WAS going to come out with new formulas for that so charters got more. Yes, I am aware of that Pete.

      In terms of the “cafetorium”, I’ve never heard that word before. I’ll have to do some research on that one. But what was that performing arts center the school built? That’s NOT an auditorium? What the heck is it? Or is the performing arts center a “cafetorium”? I’m very confused.

      For someone who once publicly claimed there was a “jihad” against charter schools, and used a crab bucket analogy to describe how others groups in Newark are dragging his group down.

      Or how about Board President Steve Dressel’s comments at the public hearing for the high school expansion when he said the financial aspect for Christina, estimated to be $2.6 million after five years, was just a minimal part of their budget. And now Christina pays Newark Charter School how much? $7.3 million? In year four since they expanded? And NCS wants more?

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      1. So your strategy is to attack someone who clarifies your claims by saying I am connected to NCS? I guess that works with your supporters.
        The performing arts building consists of rooms for the performing arts (ie band, orchestra, chorus classrooms, etc..). I guess they should have just ended all arts classes so you could rant about that.
        For someone claiming to have some type of expertise in education, not being able to recognize that a cafetorium is a combined cafeteria/auditorium seems strange.
        Where your claim that STEM funds were used is unclear. Charters are audited annually for violations. The results are public record – no findings means they complied with the law.
        Let’s be honest, You and Delaware Liberal are not journalists, you are bloggers. That is the modern day version of standing on a crate holding your holy book screaming, “the end is nigh!”. I can only surmise that your holy book is some type of Chavista manifesto.
        You don’t like charter schools – that is fine. You have every right to argue why you think they are a bad idea. Throwing stones randomly in the hopes of somehow breaking a window is a weak strategy for debate.

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        1. “Charters are audited annually for violations. The results are public record – no findings means they complied with the law.” Maybe you don’t even live in Delaware. Or you just don’t read the news. Those annual audits are useless. Why do you think Meece and the Delaware Charter Schools Network fought so hard to keep it that way? Why does NCS refuse to file a tax return? Everything this school says to defend itself doesn’t hold up. It is all a carefully crafted lie. We will see how it all turns out in the end. You should really read up on what I’ve written about this school in the past Pete. Take your blinders off man, and see through the “success”. I know you don’t want to hear it. I guess it would take a lot for you to see through the brainwashing going on here. I don’t need a holy book to tell me when something stinks. Sorry I wasn’t aware of what a cafetorium was. I guess I should go back to college. Who said I was debating here? I’m just digging into this school. But let’s be crystal clear on one thing. It’s not that I don’t like charter schools. I don’t like your charter school.

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  2. Attacking Kevin for being a blogger is pathetic. I’m sure “King Crab” Meece and the Governor prefer their journalists to be paid by one of the usual captice Delaware media institutions so they can pull strings to control the narrative. But this is a new day and that’s not how it works anymore.

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    1. Sorry if the truth about bloggers hurts, Mike.
      He still hasn’t linked any facts to his claims. That is the one of first rules a real journalist uses – verify from multiple reputable sources. Instead he just claims that NCS built an auditorium using illegal funds with no supporting evidence. He says Meece refuses to collaborate with any other schools without any evidence. That is not journalism – it is just someone trying to justify their hatred by making up stories.
      The story on Delawareonline tonight follows the Governor’s plan of protecting districts. The way I read it is Christina was putting money in the excluded section that didn’t belong there and nobody wants to admit it.

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      1. Pete, you have no idea how wrong you are. And the Governor’s plan of protecting districts? You need to stop smoking whatever you’re smoking Pete. Seriously. Get out of your bubble and do some damn research. And I wrote an article about a month ago showing exactly what I think happened with the funding for that “cafetorium” and the STEM lab. So how about you do some research before you shoot your mouth off.

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        1. You did not write an article. Assuming you posted something like this, it was a rant about what you THINK happened. Most people that speculation at best, lying or slandering at worst. Stop playing the journalist and accept the fact that you are simply a biased, angry person. Stop telling those who disagree with you that they have “blinders” on or are in a bubble. I’ve only looked at a few of your posts but I haven’t seen a single fact with verifiable evidence, just wild claim after wild claim. You might want to look past your bubble.

          I haven’t gone on some anti traditional public school rant, I simply called you out for claiming things are facts when they are speculation (lies, actually). You seem to follow the theory that the bigger the lie, the more people will believe it. I know plenty of people like you who think that everyone should just listen to you and take everything you say as fact. I expect people to have proof before I believe them. I’m sorry that angers you.
          All you did was exchange a crate for a website. Keep looking for your grassy knoll.

          Markell and the rest of them are protecting the districts because they know the incompetence at DOE will reflect on them. They don’t give a damn about anyone but themselves and their political cronies, including the kids in traditional and charter schools. Of course, I will admit that is my opinion. I have no verifiable proof of that

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          1. I really don’t care what your opinion is Pete, because you have proven yourself to be incapable of taking any side but that of the charters and NCS. If you don’t see the numerous holes in that “journalistic” article on the News Journal tonight, you have some serious issues. The fact that you would lump in the Governor with protecting school districts could be right in some respects. But nothing this Governor has ever done has been in the best interest of traditional school districts. He has allowed discrimination and segregation in this state by allowing charters like NCS to have the most insane enrollment preferences in this country, designed to keep certain populations out of their “successful” school. This isn’t about all charters, as I have said thousands of times. It is about schools like NCS that represent a lack or moral fiber in this state. And if their cheerleaders can’t, or don’t want to see that, then yes, they have some serious blinders.

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