Delaware Charters & Delaware DOE Looking To Make Changes Against Delaware Law! And Who Is “The Author”?

Incompetence seems to rule the Delaware DOE these days.

The Delaware Department of Education, Delaware Charter Schools, and the Delaware Charter Schools Network have been holding meetings this year to look at changing two areas of their annual Performance Framework.  The Financial and Organizational Frameworks are two sections that have been controversial for charter schools in the first state.  Some of the proposed changes are minor but some are very big.  One statement from the proposed draft for the organizational framework probably sums up what many of the charter schools feel when these things roll out each year:

In order to avoid penalizing charter schools for anything less than perfection, the authorizer will apply a reasonable interpretation of sufficiency that acknowledges attentiveness, prudent compliance, and generally sound stewardship.

Let’s get real here Delaware!  Unless a charter school falls apart like Delaware Met, Moyer, and Pencader, you aren’t going to see the DOE or even Red Clay doing a lot in terms of compliance on some of these issues.  Especially website maintenance.  Far too many charters have been raked over the coals by bloggers such as myself for not adhering to the law on tons of the requirements.  But when it comes time for the charter to renew or get a modification, or even get a formal review, those things are rarely mentioned in the conversation.  The State Board of Education rarely talks about any of that stuff.  But in my eye, they need to be perfect with those things.  The districts do as well (see: Indian River).

One of the biggest flaws in this new system pertains to board membership.  Delaware law clearly states:

At the time at which the school commences its instructional program and at all times thereafter, the board of directors must include a teacher from at least 1 of the charter schools operated by the board and at least 1 parent of a student enrolled in a charter school operated by the board;

With this new organizational framework, they are proposing to change Delaware code, without any regulation or legislation, by giving charters a 90 day window to fill the parent and teacher slot for their board membership.  This label in the framework would give the charter a “partially meets standard”.  You can’t partially follow the law.  You either do it or you don’t.  In this area, you are either “meets standard” or “does not meet standard”.  As well, they want to do the same thing with not posting minutes and financial information on their website, but this would have a 60 day window.  You can’t cherry-pick through state law.  If the law needs to change, lobby legislators to change it.  But you can’t do it through the Delaware DOE and the State Board of Education.  This Department continues to defy Delaware legislators.  It is the legislators duty to write the laws of this state, not the Charter School Office at the DOE.

The proposed financial framework would give charters some leeway when it comes to reporting requirements or how they submit financial information with the state.  Let me be the first to say ALL Delaware schools need to get some serious training on this.  The training exists, but everyone seems to do what they want with limited to no oversight.  There have to be uniform procedures and policies across the board for every charter and district in the state with absolutely no excuses.  Once again, it comes down to partially breaking the law.  A misnomer if I’ve ever heard one.  But even more important, there have to be very real consequences for those who violate financial laws in our state.  This is something I hope and pray the 149th General Assembly tackles when they come back in January.  Because right now, it’s a train wreck.

I will fully admit I sometimes feel bad for the charters.  Especially when it comes to the DOE’s constant nitpicking about things.  An organization filled with more non-educators in leadership roles that doesn’t seem to be able to tell the difference between a right and left hand most of the time.

charterframeworkrevisionstimeline

But the most egregious thing out of all this: the window for public comment begins on September 1st.  But try finding them anywhere.  Good luck with that!  I happened to find the below documents in the DOE search engine.  How can you say this is an open, transparent, and collaborative method when the public can’t even comment on what you are proposing?  Even worse, the State Board of Education won’t let you comment on any action item on their agenda.  This won’t come up for final action at a State Board of Education meeting until their October 20th meeting, but if these documents are never released to the public it will be highly illegal for the State Board to take action.

charterframeworktimeline2

The Delaware DOE Charter School Office needs to release these drafts to the public and let them comment on it.  These documents have not been posted on the DOE website.  Care to take a wild guess who is running the show on this?  If you said David Blowman, that would be correct on the surface.  Until they find a replacement for Jennifer Nagourney, who left the DOE on July 1st, Blowman is the guy in charge.  But in a very odd find, well, you’ll get the picture…

de-proposed-fincl-framework-authorship

de-proposed-organ-framework-authorship

How can Jennifer Nagourney be the author of the below documents when she is no longer an employee at the Delaware DOE?  Doesn’t she work in the Charter School Office at the New York City DOE now?  What in God’s name is David Blowman doing?  This is the same guy who has run the non-transparent local cost per pupil scam that has caused a “firestorm” in Delaware.  The same guy who went ahead and sent out changes to school districts and charter schools without the old Secretary of Education Seal of Approval?  And he is in charge of this hot mess?  Where charters seem to think it will be okay to partially follow the law?  With a guy like Blowman running the show no wonder they think they can do as they please!  And, it goes without saying, I’m sure the Sisters of Sin, Donna Johnson and Kendall Massett with the Delaware Charter Schools Network have their hands involved in this.  But Nagourney?  Unless you are getting paid for this work when you are no longer employed by the State of Delaware, why are you even involved at this point?  It’s not like I haven’t written about the old PDF right-click trick.  And you guys keep forgetting that essential thing!

At this point in time, our General Assembly needs to meet for emergency hearings and subpoena the hell out of the entire Delaware Department of Education.  Every single document in their system.  Every nook and cranny, from top to bottom.  The more than obvious fraud and lies coming out of this Department is readily available for anyone to see.  I’ve proved it over and over again.  But no one does anything about it.  It’s time.  You know it and I know it.  So stop making postures and just do it!

Below are the two proposed frameworks.  These are not approved, just in draft form.

Proposed Financial Framework

Proposed Organizational Framework

Delaware Democrats Eat Their Own

piranha

Watching Delaware Democrats go after each other during primary time is amazing to watch in real time.  It’s like watching piranha at feeding time.  They eviscerate each other.  But then when the primary is over, they stand behind the selected candidate with unswayable loyalty, for the most part.  I don’t see this as much with Delaware Republicans, but then again they seem to be more careful about having too many candidates in any given race.  I disagreed with a letter sent out by the Delaware Democrat Party Chair, John Daniello, a couple of months ago.  This letter asked candidates to consider why they were truly running.  This angered many candidates and their supporters, but after seeing some of the stuff I’ve seen, I can see where he was coming from.

This is the kind of stuff that creates decades-long resentments.  It can’t be good for the party.  I try not to get into political conversation too much unless it relates to education in some way.  But watching legislators who are usually close allies go against each other over which candidate is best is not good in the long-term.  I respect their right to back a candidate, but some of them are relentless.  We all do it in one way or another.  Party loyalty is only there when it suits someone.  The election process has to be the most cutthroat system out there.  And it’s usually not the candidates themselves who are doing it but their supporters.

In eight days, the playing field will be leveled.  And then we see the opposite: party supporters going after the other party.  I expect this to be a whirlwind next couple of months.  Things are likely to get ugly.  What is always unreal is watching those who blast a primary candidate but when that candidate wins they become the best thing since sliced bread.

I will come out with more endorsements, playing right along with this crazy election season.  I’ll talk about why I don’t think so and so is a good candidate or why that person is better.  I’ll go to some of the debates and hopefully get to ask a question or two.  I’m sure there will be some huge controversy around a candidate or eight.  It’s what we do in Delaware.  We eat each other alive and then wonder why nothing ever gets done in the state.  As I’ve said before, I don’t swear absolute fealty to either party.  I’m an issues guy, not a one or the other guy.

If I have a beef with a candidate, I will give a long and detailed explanation as to why and back it up with reference material.

Just my thoughts on what I’m seeing out there… Kevin

Delaware Auditor Tom Wagner Releases Heavily Edited New Version Of September 30th Unit Count Inspection Report

Tom Wagner, the elected Delaware State Auditor, issued a new September 30th inspect report from his office today.  The original report, issued on May 4th of this year, was conducted by Kathleen Davies who was put on leave in Mid-May.  Oddly enough, this report does not even appear on the state website but this was emailed to many state employees and legislators this morning.

I am presenting both the new report and the original so readers can compare the two.

To view the original point, go below:

In comparing the two documents, there are significant changes.  Missing in the new report is a letter from Thomas Wagner to Secretary of Education Dr. Steven Godowsky.  In the new report there is a new Appendix where the auditor’s office gave each charter school or district that received a finding to respond to the initial report issued on May 4th.  There are key edits of certain sections.  Especially when it revolves around the Delaware Department of Education.  The changes appear to fluff up the DOE in certain instances.  Almost as if the DOE had editing power over an audit approved by the State Auditor.

I resent this whole new report and the attempt to demean Kathleen Davies.  No logical explanations have been provided by anyone on her situation.  This smear campaign by the State Auditor’s office and the Office of Management and Budget needs something more than some bogus explanation provided by Ann Visalli.  Wagner needs to step up for his employee who did her job faithfully for many years.  Instead, just this new report alone looks like he is majorly kissing up to the Delaware DOE, led by Secretary Godowsky, who serves at the pleasure of Governor Markell.