Ron Russo’s BOLD Plan Regurgitates Old Plans And The Worst Ideas Ever In Delaware Education

Ron Russo, the former Head of School at the Charter School of Wilmington, launched The BOLD Plan today on Facebook.  Using the tag “Education is a business”, Russo managed to take the most horrible ideas ever from the past three decades and put them into a single pile of absolute garbage.  While I don’t think this plan will go anywhere, it is symptomatic of the very same corporate education reform think tank crap that has proliferated American public education and turned Delaware’s school system into a very bad joke. The whole plan can be read below. Continue reading Ron Russo’s BOLD Plan Regurgitates Old Plans And The Worst Ideas Ever In Delaware Education

The Latest Basic Special Education Funding Bill Really Ticks Me Off!!!

Okay, that wasn’t the headline you ever expected to come out of me on here!  There is a distinct reason why this bill bothers me so much.  House Bill #48 came out on Thursday and like all the other bills from past legislative sessions, it asks for the full allotment of state funding for students labeled as Basic Special Education in Kindergarten to 3rd Grade in Delaware’s public schools.  So what is it about this bill that gives me pause?

It is the fact this is the third time State Rep. Kim Williams has brought this bill forward.  It came out four years ago for the first time in the 148th General Assembly.  It should have been a no-brainer.  It got out of committee but it was never heard on the floor of the House.  In the last session, the 149th, it came out but it morphed into a part of the state budget which offered part of the funding for it.

When Governor Carney announced his weighted funding plan a week and a half ago he did not include this in his proposal.  While I am all for equitable funding, the basic special education funding should have been utilized years ago when the unit-based funding formula changed during Governor Markell’s first term.  The fact we have the same bill in a third legislative session really ticks me off.  While I greatly appreciate the partial funding that was granted last year it is appalling to me that the state will not grant the full funding in this area.

If the Delaware DOE can demand students with disabilities reach certain proficiency levels on horrible and flawed state assessments than they damn well better give the full funding these students deserve.  These are kids.  Kids with issues and disabilities forming that they aren’t ready for.  Not that anyone with disabilities is ever ready, but these kids need that rock solid education foundation.  And when they aren’t getting the support and services they need they are losing out.  With that being said, I know their teachers (most of them) will do whatever they can to reach that child to the best of their ability.  They will use what they can when they can.  It is not their intention to see any student fail.  But they can’t do it alone.  They need help.

Delaware is great at talking the talk but there is resistance to walking the walk when it comes to education.  Even Carney’s weighted funding attempt is not a permanent thing.  It is more of a trial than a commitment.  We demand so much out of our students and teachers but consistently fail in giving the funding to achieve this.  And then we put it on the districts to come up with those funds.  But then our state will pour millions of dollars each year into the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  It makes zero sense.

I have nothing but the utmost respect for Kim Williams.  The fact she has to continually put this bill out, year after year, is a true picture of what an awesome human being she is.  But we need ALL 62 of our legislators not only approving this, but shouting it from the rooftops, up and down the state.  Rome wasn’t built in a day, I get that.  But to ignore the needs of children who need help the most is an insult that shouldn’t continue.  Because all they are doing is creating more problems for these students down the road that wind up costing more money than if they just funded it to begin with.

The 150th Delaware General Assembly MUST approve this bill and lock it permanently into the state budget.  It is a moral imperative and the question of if they can afford it shouldn’t even be a part of the conversation.  And Governor Carney, for all my critiques and rants against him, needs to reach into his soul and not even question it.  And when I say Governor Carney, this includes his most trusted advisors who seem to want to dictate the money flow in Delaware.

Delaware School Administrator Funding Analysis Reveals A Hot Mess!

In essence, administrator counts are being determined by units of pupils, as opposed to the number of personnel under their span of responsibility.

Continue reading Delaware School Administrator Funding Analysis Reveals A Hot Mess!

**UPDATED**Smyrna School Board Gets Slammed By Delaware Superior Court Over Due Process Violations, Called “Arbitrary & Capricious”

so disproportionate to the offense in light of all circumstances as to be shocking to one’s sense of fairness

The King of zero tolerance school boards in Delaware lost a huge appeal with the Delaware Superior Court.  After expelling a student in 2017, the student appealed the decision and the State Board of Education ruled in the student’s favor.  Not one to take anything laying down, the Smyrna Board of Education filed an appeal against the State Board.  They lost and they lost big time!

**Updated**, 1/19/19, 8:05am: Please see below for new information about this article.

Continue reading **UPDATED**Smyrna School Board Gets Slammed By Delaware Superior Court Over Due Process Violations, Called “Arbitrary & Capricious”

2019 Filed School Board Candidates **UPDATED**2/24/2019**

School board season is in full swing.  With the filing deadline this Friday this list could fill up some more.  There is only one district where no one has filed yet.  There are also quite a few races forming.  Most seats are five-years expiring in 2024 this year with a few exceptions.  Continue reading 2019 Filed School Board Candidates **UPDATED**2/24/2019**

Breaking News: Newark Charter School Leader Greg Meece To Retire End Of School Year

The following email went out to Newark Charter School parents this evening.  Greg Meece is retiring as Head of School at Newark Charter School.

Dear Newark Charter School Community:

It has been an honor to serve students and families in Delaware through my chosen vocation of education for nearly 40 years. The last 18 years can only be described as a “dream job” – starting and leading the greatest school of them all: Newark Charter School. It is, therefore, with mixed emotions that I am announcing my retirement this coming summer. By announcing this now, I give our Board of Directors ample time to find my replacement, and our Board has asked me to take a major role in the transition process.  A letter from our Board Chair, Dr. Franklin Newton, is attached.

NCS Board Chair Letter 1-15-19.pdf

I am confident that a qualified leader with creative ideas, loads of energy and a deep commitment to our school’s mission will take Newark Charter School to the next level. 

Deciding to transition from something you’ve spent your whole adult life doing is not easy. Not when you love what you do. My wife Rosemary, also a career educator, is retiring as well. We have discussed this for a long time, and we agreed to make the move together.

Leaving the place you come to work each morning is especially hard when it is so much a part of you. My heart and soul are forever fused with this remarkable institution. I am part of this school and it is a part of me.

I feel that the time is right for me to step aside. I am leaving our community with a school that is in great shape now and is well-positioned for a bright and promising future. We recently completed our Strategic Long-Range Plan. Our charter has a brand-new 10-year renewal term. Our two-time National Blue Ribbon School earned “straight A’s” on all of Delaware’s 2018 measures of charter school success. We have a healthy waiting list of students. Our finances and management rank among the top charter schools in the country. We acquired land and a building next door where we can grow. We have made substantial progress on a plan to greatly enhance our campuses and buildings.

As you might imagine, building and directing Newark Charter School over the last 18 years has been an all-encompassing endeavor. While I will greatly miss the entire community, come July, I am excited to spend more time with my family. With my one-year-old granddaughter and my father in his 90s, it is an interesting time in one’s life to be a bridge that links generations. Beyond spending more time with family, I am not sure what the future holds for me. After a chance to “smell the roses,” I most likely will look forward to new challenges, either part-time or full-time, in education or in something completely different.

Change will be challenging for all of us. I offer this advice that I, too, try to remember everyday: embrace change as something healthy and renewing. At the same time, never lose sight of what got us here, what we stand for, our “North Star.”

I am forever grateful to the founding board of directors who gave me this opportunity, and to the current board for their tremendous support. Nobody could ask for better colleagues. I am blessed to work beside so many teachers, staff and fellow administrators who bring true excellence to our school every day, for every child. Committed parents started Newark Charter School. I saw the powerful relationship between parents and staff – home and school. I will always cherish the many ways I have gotten to know and work with such involved and supportive partners in education.

Most of all, I will miss our students. Following Newark Charter School’s opening day of school in 2001, I mentioned to someone, “If my career ended today I would feel fulfilled.” Seeing children so happy, so proud to be here, even though their school was nothing more than rented trailers on a borrowed property, I knew that I was part of something special. Eighteen school years later, I retire with pride, gratitude and love for the children who breathed life into this school and for all the students who make Newark Charter School such a wonderful place now and for many years to come.

Forever grateful,

Gregory Meece

Youth Drug Prevention Curriculum Task Force Final Report Deals With Gripping Questions

Last June, Delaware legislators passed a concurrent resolution which created a task force to look at curriculum for drug prevention in Delaware’s public schools.  The final report came out on January 7th.

The task force was led by Delaware Senator Bryan Townsend and State Rep. Ruth Briggs-King.  They met from September to December last fall.  The main purpose of the task force was to make recommendations for the best drug prevention programs in our schools.  The law demands evidence-based programs to curtail drug use in Delaware students but there is simply not enough evidence on the effectiveness of the many different programs utilized by the 19 school districts in Delaware.

One program stood out above all others.  The Botvin program was frequently named in the task force minutes.  I read the minutes last night but was not able to read through the Botvin material.  When it comes to drug use in kids, I say whatever programs works best should be used by all districts.  There was a lot of discussion about unfunded mandates among the group and the expense for these programs.  This was followed by talk about local control or state control over these programs.

The report is very long but it is worth the read.  I want to know more about the skateboarding program in Sweden that they use!  Make it happen Erin!

Are Carney & Bunting Intentionally Leaving DSEA Out Of The Loop?

I was wondering why Delaware Governor John Carney’s office resent the same media advisory today that they sent on Friday.  I figured there had to be some change to the big shindig tomorrow at Legislative Hall.  And there it was, staring at me like a full moon on a summer night, one addition to the number of attendees: Continue reading Are Carney & Bunting Intentionally Leaving DSEA Out Of The Loop?

Red Clay Superintendent Race Down To Three

In the coming months, Red Clay Consolidated School District will have a new Superintendent.  All indications are pointing to three final candidates.  Who are they? Continue reading Red Clay Superintendent Race Down To Three

Breaking News: Carney & Bunting To Announce Weighted Funding “Phase One”. Let The Education Hunger Games Begin Again.

Next Tuesday, January 15th, Delaware Governor John Carney and Delaware Secretary of Education Dr. Susan Bunting will hold a press conference at Legislative Hall to announce a weighted funding system for Delaware students.  Luckily, this blogger got the details of it this evening.  The devil, as they say, is in the details. Continue reading Breaking News: Carney & Bunting To Announce Weighted Funding “Phase One”. Let The Education Hunger Games Begin Again.

Vision Coalition To Sell Their Nonsense At Legislative Hall Next Week

Leave it to Earl Jaques to start off the 150th General Assembly House Education Committee with a load of crap right from the get-go.  At the first House Education Committee meeting next Wednesday, legislators will get to hear the latest corporate education reform malarkey from the Vision Coalition.

Really Earl?  That’s the best you can do?  What’s next? A presentation the next week from DelawareCAN? The Charter Schools Network?  Ugh.  Would you let DSEA give a huge presentation to the Education Committee?  Or how about a group of opt out parents to explain why the Smarter Balanced Assessment is the worst test ever?  Perhaps you could let all the Christina Wilmington teachers get together and let the legislators know about how they feel about the MOU.  Or get the Odyssey education association to come in and talk about what is going on with their board.  Nope, instead,  we get the usual flim-flam from the snake oil Rodelian led band of education bandits.

I have no doubt they will be taking credit for what is to come.

Breaking News: All-Nighters At Legislative Hall Not Allowed!!!

According to Delaware Senate President Pro Tempore David McBride, the party is over on July 1st!  For security and safety reasons, Legislative Hall will shut down at 1am on July 1st.  If the legislators need to finish business they will be called back at 4pm later on the same day.

This was my favorite day/night of the year!  According to McBride, driving can be a challenge after pulling off the infamous General Assembly all-nighter.  For McBride, who would be driving south north this should be going against beach traffic.

Yes, this was the big announcement from Senator McBride today.  This launched a group of us on social media wondering if he was going to retire.  Nope, just putting a halt on the all-nighters!

Typically, the last day of session is on June 30th.  But because they don’t go back until late in the afternoon, the marathon session extends into July 1st.  And they leave when they are done.  If they don’t pass the budget (like what happened in 2017), they may stay all night and come back on a Sunday!  But no more according to McBride.  Meanwhile, ice cream vendors are crying foul.

Mutiny At Odyssey As Teachers Union Votes For No Confidence In Board of Directors

The Odyssey Charter School Education Association declared a vote of no confidence in the school’s Board of Directors.  As well, they asked four members of the board to resign. Continue reading Mutiny At Odyssey As Teachers Union Votes For No Confidence In Board of Directors

Kowalko Back On House Education Committee

How the hell did I miss this?  I broke the news on the House Committee memberships and I totally missed this awesomeness!  State Rep. John Kowalko is back on the House Education Committee!  To understand how big this is, you have to look at the history of why he was removed in the first place. Continue reading Kowalko Back On House Education Committee

The Strange Case Of The Disappearing Christina Board Meeting

I see this with charter schools quite a bit but postponing a regular board meeting for a school district?  That is highly unusual!  Today, the Christina School District postponed their regular January Board of Education meeting scheduled for tonight at Bayard Middle School.  Is this a fluke or is there a specific reason the meeting was postponed? Continue reading The Strange Case Of The Disappearing Christina Board Meeting

Las Americas ASPIRA Submits Modification Request To Add High School & Increase Enrollment

Rumors began circulating in the fall that Las Americas ASPIRA Academy would be submitting a major modification request to add high school grades.  What I didn’t count on were the huge amount of fallacies and grandiose boasting within the application itself. Continue reading Las Americas ASPIRA Submits Modification Request To Add High School & Increase Enrollment

Sokola Out As Chair Of Senate Education Committee, Sturgeon Will Be Chair

The Delaware Senate Education Committee just got very interesting.  While it is still five members, the composition of the committee includes two rookie Senators.  Long-time Chair, Senator David Sokola, is still on the committee as one of three Democrats.  Senator Laura Sturgeon will be the Chair while Senator Elizabeth “Tizzy” Lockman will be the Vice-Chair.  The five member group also has Republican Senators Anthony Delcollo and Ernie Lopez.

Gone are Senators Brian Pettyjohn, Bryan Townsend, and Jack Walsh who were on the Senate Education Committee last year.

Having Sturgeon as Chair is big news for Delaware education.  She served on the Delaware State Education Association Executive Committee for many years.  Lockman as Vice-Chair is also an interesting choice.

As I reported the other day, a rookie Senator has been appointed to the Joint Finance Committee.  While I thought it was one person, it is actually Laura Sturgeon who will serve on the JFC.

Many have wondered if David Sokola will make this his last term and resign after 26 years in the State Senate.  Sokola is synonymous with the Senate Education Committee so to see him take a step back like this is shocking.  While we still have State Rep. Earl Jaques as Chair of the House Education Committee, the powerhouse combo of himself and Sokola as the leaders in education legislation movement is officially over.

The Chair of the Senate Education Committee chooses the agenda for which bills are heard in Committee as well as bringing the bills to the floor for a vote when they are released from Committee.  Interesting times indeed!

A Rookie State Senator Might Get A Spot On The Joint Finance Committee

Sources around Legislative Hall are speaking loudly about a very unusual committee assignment in the Delaware Senate.  It appears to be a sure thing that a rookie Delaware State Senator will get a spot on the Joint Finance Committee.

While some think this is a most excellent idea others are fuming.  While I won’t name the Senator just yet, I can say they are a Democrat.  With a spot on JFC, this also gives a Senator or State Representative more money.  Almost $10,000 extra a year.  While the average salary for a State Rep. or Senator is around $45,000 a year, that is a big percentage more to be on JFC.  But I will say the bump is necessary because they do spend most of February and other weeks in hearings to help determine the final state budget for the next fiscal year.

A spot on JFC is something many legislators covet.  While the salary bump is nice, many legislators do not rely on their General Assembly salary as their primary income.  It is, however, a very powerful position.  This is where all the financial decisions for the entire state budget are made.  A voice on this committee is huge!  Most members of JFC earn it over the years so for a seat to be given to a rookie is extremely rare.

Delaware House Committee Lists Of All Members

No sooner do I write about not seeing who is on the Delaware House of Representative Committees than it appears before my very eye in my email!  Apparently the Delaware Senate Committees list isn’t being released because of some leadership shenanigans going on over there.  Delaware politics… Continue reading Delaware House Committee Lists Of All Members

Mike Ramone Wants Street Cred With Bill That Proposes 20 Year Term Limits For Delaware General Assembly

In a bill filed today, House Bill #33, State Rep. Mike Ramone is proposing ALL members of the Delaware General Assembly, be they a State Representative or State Senator, be limited to 20 consecutive years in their role.  But the devil is in the details which gives Ramone more time in the General Assembly, if he doesn’t get ousted in the 2020 election… Continue reading Mike Ramone Wants Street Cred With Bill That Proposes 20 Year Term Limits For Delaware General Assembly