I reached out to State Rep. Earl Jaques and his legislative aide today regarding the massive bomb Earl laid last night at the School District Consolidation Task Force meeting. The response was the polar opposite of what was said last night.
First off, I want to say thank you to his aide. I can be persistent when I have a scratch to itch, especially when it involves transparency. So I appreciate her willingness to communicate with me.
After a lot of confusion, the moment Earl was referring to regarding state takeover of schools which would be voted on by the State Board of Education based on a framework Delaware charter schools have now was this, from the January 22nd full Task Force meeting:
Could not find anywhere in Code where State of DE has a process to consolidate school districts. Will be talking to the Senator and Rep. Miro, there is a code for boundaries but not consolidating districts. We should have a process, it should be added to the code. If we come to a consensus to consolidate, we need a process be put in the Code. Rep. Jaques talked to house attorneys about this and it’s not in the code.
How the heck that translates to the explosive words that came out of Earl’s mouth last night is beyond me. Here’s the thing. Earl’s aide said that was what was put in the minutes but it wasn’t the full conversation. If that is the case, what is the point of minutes if it doesn’t have everything? But more important, those minutes are given to each member at the beginning of the next full meeting for their approval. If something is missing, and I’m pretty sure if a conversation occurred around Earl’s brainfart of a recommendation, members who were at both meetings would insist it be addressed in the minutes. Lastly, if anything came up about Earl’s brainfart at that January meeting, it would have been public long before I wrote about it last night. Something that big doesn’t stay quiet in the education circles I walk in and around.
I have no doubt Earl will say something like “oh, we were talking about ESSA” or something ridiculous like that. But once again, Earl is promoting something that has absolutely nothing to do with the legislative intent of this task force. Some have said this is just Earl being Earl. No, this is Earl being told something and to put it out there. Whether that is coming from the DOE, his charter school buddies, or the Governor’s office I have no clue. Something that intricate in detail is outside of Earl’s ability to devise on his own. It is a part of the corporate education reform playbook though. And charter schools love it. One only has to look at the state takeover in New Orleans after Katrina to see what happened to those schools.
Our DOE lacks the capacity and ability to take over a school district and we all know it. There are some good people there but they aren’t prepared for that. Not even close. And to give the State Board of Education this authority would be a disaster in the making. I like some of the new folks Carney put on there, but I don’t think they should be handed the burden to vote on a decision of this magnitude, ever. I don’t necessarily view it is a coincidence that this idea is floating around the same time as not-filed-yet legislation which would give the State Board of Education the ability to remove school district board members. Way to attempt to take the local out of local control there!
Earl has a way of coaxing people into an idea but he doesn’t give the full context to folks. And then he plays Monday morning quarterback and says “this was what I meant…”. No Earl, you are manipulative and deceitful in your own way and it was on full view for all to see last night. You can laugh it off and think you are invincible, but you pulled the same kind of crap with the opt out bill and other legislation. For the love of all that is right and just in this world would someone PLEASE run against Earl this year? He is in the 27th Representative District. He already filed to run again. Someone, please, anyone, challenge him. He needs to be gone. The joke isn’t funny anymore. It never was.
And for the record, zero response from Speaker of the House Pete Schwartzkopf in response to my email asking for Earl to be removed as Chair of the task force.