Too big to map, but I tried.

Wrench in the Gears

I realize this is a very long post and not all that readable. I will try and break it down further in the near future, but for now consider it a work in progress; a way for me to gather a lot of divergent ideas, spheres of influence, and money trails in one place. The graphic above is my attempt to trace what is happening with Out of School Time learning where I live; how it relates to impact investing; how they are building the data infrastructure around it; and how that data will advance social impact investing in Philadelphia, a city of deep poverty. I am including selections from the map in this piece, but the interactive version can be accessed here.

On Wednesday March 14, members of the Philly OST (Out of School Time) Coalition presented a report prepared by Howard Tucker, President of Vision4EDU, on…

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The Robo-Call Snow Day Express Is Here! Confirmed District & Charter Closings Tomorrow, 3/21/18

As the Spring snowfall gets ready to hit our area, some districts and charter schools have already announced closings.  This will be updated as I get information.


Academia Antonia Alonso

Academy of Dover



Caesar Rodney

Campus Community

Cape Henlopen


Charter School of New Castle

Charter School of Wilminton



Delaware Academy of Public Safety & Security

Delaware Design-Lab High School

Delaware Military Academy


Early College High School

East Side Charter School

First State Military Academy

First State Montessori Academy


Gateway Lab School

Great Oaks

Indian River

Kuumba Academy

Lake Forest

Las Americas ASPIRA Academy




New Castle Co. Vo-Tech

Newark Charter School

Odyssey Charter School


Positive Outcomes

Providence Creek Academy

Red Clay Consolidated



Sussex Academy

Sussex Tech

Thomas Edison Charter School



Caravel Academy is also reporting they will be closed.


Earl Jaques And His Education Hunger Games Need To End

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. Continue reading “Earl Jaques And His Education Hunger Games Need To End”

Breaking News: Delaware House Passes The Diploma Bill!

The Delaware House of Representatives just passed HS1 for House Bill #287 which would allow for a small portion of special education students who would otherwise be given a certificate of performance to be given a diploma with modified standards.  The vote count was 34 yes, 4 no, 2 not voting, and one absent.

The representatives who voted no were Stephanie Bolden, Rich Collins, Deb Heffernan, and J.J. Johnson.  Those who refused to vote were Gerald Brady and Charles Potter.  Only one Republican voted no and the rest were Democrats.

The next stop for the bill will be the Senate Education Committee.  If it is released from there, it would go up for a full Senate Vote.  Should it pass in the Senate, it would go to Governor Carney for signature.  Upon signature, it would go into effect for the 2018-2019 school year.  A great day for this segment of our special education students!

My Email To Schwartzkopf To Remove Jaques As Chair Of School Consolidation Task Force

Following the crazy events at tonight’s School District Consolidation Task Force meeting, I emailed Speaker of the House, Pete Schwartzkopf.  I wrote about what transpired at the meeting as well as some other concerns.  I asked him to remove State Rep. Earl Jaques as Chair of the task force.

Good evening Speaker Schwartzkopf,

I wanted to let you know of some disturbing events that came up during the School District Consolidation Task Force meeting held at Smyrna High School. 

As the Chair of the task force, State Rep. Earl Jaques brought up proposals stemming out of the Structures Subcommittee.  One of those proposals, according to Rep. Jaques, was a mechanism by which the State Board of Education could used the Charter School Performance Framework for traditional school districts.  This proposal went on to say the State Board could then use the results of that framework to decide whether a state takeover of a district was warranted.  Another thing would be to force that district to merge with another district.

Multiple members of the regular task force, who attended those Structure subcommittee meetings, were unable to remember any circumstance where that option was even discussed.  When asked for clarification on this issue, Rep. Jaques was unable to clearly remember which meeting it was at, jumping from Seaford to Cape Henlopen.  He settled on a Cape Henlopen meeting.  Upon review of the agendas for that subcommittee, none were held in Cape Henlopen.

The members of the task force were in complete shock over the very discussion of an idea like this.  Rep. Jaques did say, when asked, the full task force would be able to vote on each proposal prior to the final report coming out.

As well, Rep. Jaques has commissioned reports for the task force without bringing it to a full task force vote.  He has openly, and publicly, admitted to conversations with the Governor about having these reports done.

I believe, along with other task force members, that Rep. Jaques has overstepped the legislative intent of this task force and is holding non-public meetings for proposals that are outside the scope of the task force.

I would like you to look into this, and if warranted, have Rep. Jaques removed as Chair of the Task Force.

Thank you,

Kevin Ohlandt

I would hope Schwartzkopf at least gives the courtesy of a reply on this matter.

Proposal Floating To Have State Board Use Charter Performance Framework For Potential State Takeover Of School Districts

All hell broke loose at Smyrna High School’s auditorium tonight.  The Chair of the School District Consolidation Task Force talked about a recommendation for state takeover of struggling school districts. Continue reading “Proposal Floating To Have State Board Use Charter Performance Framework For Potential State Takeover Of School Districts”

DSEA President Mike Matthews’ Speech From Their Representative Assembly On 3/17

This past weekend, the Delaware State Education Association held their annual Representative Assembly.  President Mike Matthews gave the following speech to the DSEA delegates on Saturday, March 17th.  While I’ve been writing a ton about administrators and their salaries, it is important to recognize the issues many of our teachers are facing.  I felt Matthews did a good job highlighting those things and painted a clear picture of a huge danger coming to the teacher unions across our country.

My speech to the delegates of the 2018 Representative Assembly.

Time. As I travel up and down the state to talk with our members, I’m reminded of what is most valuable to them. Time. Planning time. Time with friends and family. Time to meet the needs of all students. Time to grade papers. Time to relax. Time to watch a movie. Time to exercise. Time. Time. Time.

And as we sit here today at our annual Representative Assembly, I know that the time you all have taken to do the business of our Association is valuable time. And, to that end, I’d like you to know that it’s my goal to respect your time and keep it short because, as a half-Irishman myself, this is indeed a day to celebrate. So, to those who do, I offer you a hearty Lá fhéile Pádraig sona dhaoibh!: Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

I want to say thank you for spending your time today with some of our Association’s most active union members. Since I started in this new role eight months ago, I’ve been bowled over by the support from our wonderful staff here at DSEA as well as the 13,000 members we represent. And time seems to be an issue for everyone. In my 50+ school visits since the beginning of the school year, time is all I hear about.

From the AP Language and Composition teacher at Mt. Pleasant High School who’s always looking for more time to share great works of literature with her students to the special education teacher from West Seaford Elementary who’d like more time to complete her required IEP paperwork. From the paraprofessional at Love Creek Elementary who wants her students to have more one-on-one time and resources to the music teacher at Elbert-Palmer who wishes his students could have more time playing instruments as opposed to taking standardized tests. From the food service worker at Old State Elementary who wants more time to share union information with her 10 coworkers to the secretaries across the state who want to make sure they’ve got the time during the day to simply stop and breathe. From the bus drivers and bus aides for whom TIME is certainly most important to ensure their students arrive on time to the custodians who make the best use of their time to get everything done that needs doing to keep our buildings looking great for staff and students.

Time. It matters. And, while we are always at a deficit of time to get done everything that needs doing, our members do their best to maximize the time they have to ensure our students get what they need to succeed.

However, friends, I’m here to tell you that time is not on our side, regardless of what the Rolling Stones may have told you. Last year, my predecessor, Frederika Jenner, told you the wolf was at the door in regards to policies coming down from the frightening administration of Betsy DeVos at the US Department of Education. Frederika urged us all to pay attention and be vigilant. Well, I’m here to share with you that we will have to be vigilant in the coming months as the greatest threat to our Association is handed down by the United States Supreme Court in the form of the Janus case.

Now, I will not bore you all with the details of this case. You all are among the most active members of our Association and my guess is most of you have found the time to learn more about this case. In short, the current make-up of the Supreme Court will likely chip further away at the rights of public-sector unions. Have no doubt – this will impact our membership and could very well impact how we deliver service to our members.

This Supreme Court case is called Janus, named after the plaintiff, Mark Janus, a home health care worker in Illinois. Mr. Janus believes that if you don’t want to pay fair share fees to your union, you shouldn’t have to, EVEN IF you benefit from the work the union does. In essence, when this Supreme Court decision comes down, it could create a new generation of worker that expects and demands union representation and benefits, but will refuse to pay for them.

But Janus also means something else. Several months ago, while toying around on the Internet, I Googled “Janus.” Did you know that Janus is the Roman god of endings, new beginnings, transitions, and, most appropriately, time? Janus is often depicted in mythology as having two faces. I equate these two faces to the two choices we have as an Association.

Do we twiddle our thumbs, look backwards, complain, and cry when the Supreme Court hands down a decision that, in the long run, could cost DSEA thousands of members?

Or – do we look forward? Do we pick ourselves up and fight back and show our members who we really are here at DSEA? That we are going to work harder than ever to ensure they see the value in the work we do? That we are going to continue to drive the narrative that our working conditions are our students’ learning conditions? That we are going to continue to fight for more resources for our most impoverished students – for our students with disabilities – for our English language learners? That we are going to continue to push back against bad education policies that focus more time on testing and less time on authentic learning?

It’s when we show our members as well as the public that EDUCATORS are the best advocates for students that we win the narrative. And when we win that narrative, we will never have to worry about members leaving us – because they will see themselves in the work we do.

So – I have several requests for you when you leave today. In the coming weeks and months, I need you all to be ambassadors for our Association. I need you to go back to your locals. I need you to engage all of our members – AND NON-MEMBERS. This is our greatest organizing moment and I know that we can accomplish so much and maintain the strength of our membership if we focus on several things:

Have as many meaningful one-on-one conversations with members as you can. Get them to realize that their voices are amplified in environments where collaboration is fostered and open dialogue is promoted and that our union is a critical driver in those conversations.
If you’re a local that has faculty meetings in your buildings every month, check your contract to see if the Association is given five or ten minutes of each faculty meeting to share updates. And use that time at EVERY faculty meeting to share with members – and non-members – how critical union membership is with the wolf constantly knocking on our doors.

Go to the Dollar Store. Get a 20-pack of generic greeting cards. Write notes to your elected officials and school board members thanking them for their support of public education and sharing with them how and why unions ARE always a great partner in moving education forward here in Delaware.

Finally, and most importantly, share your story. Share it with friends. Share it with family. Share vignettes on social media of why we do what we do in public education. Share your story like the story featured in this post.

There’s a lot going on in this image. I was visiting a high school in New Castle County and walked into an English teacher’s classroom. This image immediately caught my eyes. And the story behind it will stick with me forever.

I asked the teacher where this huge drawing on a whiteboard had come from. He shared with me that it was about two years old. A former student of his — a withdrawn senior who rarely ever spoke to the teacher — did it. The teacher said it was near the end of the year, the student had shown little effort, and at a certain point, there seemed to be a level of tension the teacher wished could be resolved. Eventually, the teacher said to the student “I’ve failed you. You’ve gotten through this entire school year and you’ve barely said two words to me. I’ve failed you and for that I am sorry.” The teacher left the room, upset, not knowing what to do for this student who had been withdrawn for so much of the year. Come to find out, the student had some language barriers as well as some issues at home that were causing her to withdraw.

The teacher was out of the room for a period of time and when he came back, this beautiful drawing — representing all of the pieces of literature covered in senior year — was on his whiteboard. The teacher became so overwhelmed and emotional at this display. He told me that the young lady — though barely communicative — was obviously absorbing the literature the class was reading that year.

The teacher memorialized this art by spreading a thin film over the drawing to protect it and it remains in his classroom to this day — a testament and clear sign that he, in fact — was not a failure to this particular student.

How many stories like this are waiting to be told around Delaware?

It’s stories like this that explain why we as educators do what we do. And, based on the schools I’ve visited up and down the state, this story isn’t the only one out there. You must be prepared to share your story. You must be prepared to defend the work of our union to ensure better wages, benefits, and working conditions for our members and their families. Because we must never go back to the time cited in the classic labor hymn “Which Side Are You On?” – authored in 1931 by Florence Reece, the wife of a union organizer for the United Mine Workers in Harlan County, Kentucky. Following a night of being terrorized by Sheriff J.H. Blair and men hired by the mining company to bully mine workers and prevent them from unionizing, Reece wrote this poem on a calendar that hung on the wall in her kitchen:

“Come all you good workers
Good news to you I’ll tell
Of how that good old union
Has come in here to dwell
Which side are you on, boys?
Which side are you on?
My daddy was a miner
And I’m a miner’s son
And I’ll stick with the union
‘Til every battle’s won
Which side are you on, boys?
Which side are you on?
They say in Harlan County
There are no neutrals there
You’ll either be a union man
Or a thug for J.H. Blair
Which side are you on, boys?
Which side are you on?
Don’t scab for the bosses
Don’t listen to their lies
Us poor folks haven’t got a chance
Unless we organize
Which side are you on, boys?
Which side are you on?
Which side are you on, boys?
Which side are you on?”

Now I’m not saying things are anywhere near as dire here as they were in Mrs. Reece’s world, but just know that long ago the rights we take for granted today were hard fought by someone else, and it’s up to us to find the time and ensure we protect those rights.

So, with what limited time we all have, be sure and find the time to do what will keep you strong, your families strong, your students strong, and our union forever strong. Because, as Benjamin Franklin once said, “You may delay, but time will not.”

Thank you, delegates, and remember: Solidarity Now and Solidarity Forever. 

Delaware Public Education Salaries Over $100,000: Rankings, Student Cost, Ratios, $$$ Totals, & Synopsis

After weeks of work, all of the Delaware Public Education salaries over $100,000 have been posted with a few exceptions.  Those are four charter schools who either did not respond or will in the next couple of days.  But there is more than enough data to make some sense out of all this.  Many asked why I was posting these.  There were several reasons: requests, comparisons, money tracking, and general curiosity.  But the main reason was to see if I could answer the age-old question- “Are there too many administrators?”  Finally, I am prepared to answer that. Continue reading “Delaware Public Education Salaries Over $100,000: Rankings, Student Cost, Ratios, $$$ Totals, & Synopsis”

Delaware Department Of Education Salaries Over $100,000

As per the Delaware Department of Education website, the DOE employs 241 people. 66 of them make over $100,000 based on a Freedom of Information Act request I submitted to them on February 28th.  This is eight more than what the News Journal reported four years ago.  At that time, the DOE had extra employees as part of their limited Race To The Top federal grant. Continue reading “Delaware Department Of Education Salaries Over $100,000”

New Castle County Vo-Tech Salaries Over $100,000

New Castle County Vo-Tech School District has a lot of very high-priced administrators in their district.  Their leader, Dr. Victoria Gehrt, is the second highest paid Superintendent in the state.  Their enrollment has gone up in the past four years by over 168 students but they have eight less administrators making over $100,000.  What is very interesting with them is their Assistant Principals seem to begin in the $120,000 range, which is significantly higher than the rest of the state.  All of their Principals are in the $140,000 range.  This is what happens when the General Assembly approves a line-by-line budget as they do with all the vocational districts in Delaware.  I do get that all of their schools are high schools and those usually require Assistant Principals.  It just seems way out of proportion when compared to other districts.  Of note is the fact they do not appear to have an Assistant Superintendent so perhaps that is a wash. Continue reading “New Castle County Vo-Tech Salaries Over $100,000”

Charter School Salaries Over $100,000: Freire, Las Americas ASPIRA, Positive Outcomes, and Thomas Edison

Three more charter schools.  Two in New Castle County, one in Kent.  One centers around Spanish language skills.  Another is a special education theme.  One originally began with a theme of zero tolerance with school discipline but changed its tune.  One had a ruckus last fall when their school leader was placed on leave because he wanted more pay for teachers.  Continue reading “Charter School Salaries Over $100,000: Freire, Las Americas ASPIRA, Positive Outcomes, and Thomas Edison”

Polytech and Sussex Tech Salaries Over $100,000

Delaware has three vocational districts, one for each county.  For this post, I’m combining Polytech (Kent) and Sussex Tech (Sussex).  Both have fixed enrollments.  In fact, Sussex Tech got in trouble a few years ago for going over that fixed amount of students.  The key difference in funding between the vo-techs and the districts and charters is the Delaware General Assembly sets their budget in line-by-line items in their annual budget.  As well, their boards are appointed by the Governor of Delaware.  Their salaries can be higher than the districts around them in certain areas.  And what is up with Sussex Tech’s former Superintendent still making the big bucks?  Isn’t he former?  Oh yeah, he’s been on paid leave since last June because of inappropriate land deals down there according to the Cape Gazette.  Do these two schools really need this many administrators? Continue reading “Polytech and Sussex Tech Salaries Over $100,000”

Woodbridge School District Salaries Over $100,000

The last of the traditional school district, Woodbridge School District is another one of the “cross-county” districts.  They are a growing district.  They also have a Superintendent with a name that sounds like a movie star: Heath Chasanov.  I’ve written a billion of these salary posts so I feel I ‘m allowed a bit of humor as I approach the finish line. But I digress.  Woodbridge is also home to someone I admire, Michele Marinucci.  The district’s special education coordinator, along with State Rep. Kim Williams, got the Special Education Strategic Plan formed into a cohesive committee that is doing great things for special education in Delaware.  Chasanov has been commended by the Delaware Dept. of Education for the district’s growth on the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  Not my cup of tea, but it keeps them in the spotlight. Continue reading “Woodbridge School District Salaries Over $100,000”

Smyrna School District Salaries Over $100,000

Smyrna and Clayton are very tight-knit communities.  Many in the Smyrna area will tell you the Smyrna School District runs the town.  Whether that is true or not, one thing is true: Superintendent Patrik Williams certainly runs his schools!  By keeping administrative costs down, he runs a tight ship.  While Smyrna is not the fastest growing area in the state, it is certainly growing.  Smyrna’s biggest competition is local charter schools Providence Creek Academy and First State Military Academy, both in Clayton.  The district has grown modestly by about 200 students in the past four years.  Last year, former Superintendent Deborah Wicks retired.  The one thing about Smyrna that troubles me to no end is their very high expulsion rates.  They are the highest in the state.  Last year they had 30 expulsions.  To me, that is zero tolerance.  Something we should be getting away from.  It is rumored Smyrna does this so they can pay for pre-paid spots at Parkway Academy.  While this hasn’t been made official, it makes sense in a bizarre way.  The State Board of Education sees more expulsion appeals come from Smyrna over any other district or charter school.  There is a reason for that.  Williams is a pretty funny guy once you get to know him. Continue reading “Smyrna School District Salaries Over $100,000”

Seaford School District Salaries Over $100,000

The Seaford School District lies on the western edge of Sussex County.  The district hovers around the just below 3,500 mark most of the time.  Even though their enrollment is the same, they have two more administrators making over $100,000 than they did four years ago.  Like their neighbor to the south, Laurel, they have a high percentage of low-income students and English Language learners.  The Wilmington Education Improvement Commission brought up both of these districts many times in their reports on Delaware public schools.  Seaford reminds me of the school district I grew up in with its make-up four elementary schools, a middle school, and a high school.  But that’s where the similarities end.  My school district was about 3/5ths the size of Seaford.  Which means they have a lot of kids in their buildings.  Continue reading “Seaford School District Salaries Over $100,000”

Red Clay Consolidated School District Salaries Over $100,000

Red Clay Consolidated School District has become a cash cow.

I thought I had a general idea of my overall theory of school administrators in Delaware.  Red Clay was the last to respond to my FOIA request with their numbers.  I sat for a good ten minutes just staring at what they sent me.  While Christina and Red Clay have the exact same amount of administrators, Christina has more schools AND holds statewide programs like the Delaware Autism Program.  Both have 93 administrators.  But in reviewing Red Clay’s, along with some of the titles, I was utterly shocked.  They have individual supervisors for each core subject, personnel specialists, and program coordinators. Continue reading “Red Clay Consolidated School District Salaries Over $100,000”

Milford School District Salaries Over $100,000

The Milford School District is one of the few districts in Delaware that lies in two different counties.  For Milford, both Kent and Sussex County have parts of the district.  As a result, their tax pool is different.  A couple of years ago, Milford, like many other districts, had to raise their tuition tax.  This is a portion of property taxes the public does not get a vote on.  The money is for special education costs.  Milford raised their tuition tax considerably and the public got sticker shock when they opened their tax bill.  As a result, it forced the district to become very frugal with their spending.  The district has the second lowest amount of administrators over $100,000 based on their student count.  New Superintendent Kevin Dickerson inherited the previous Superintendent’s mess but is doing a decent job of putting the district back on solid ground.  The district has 104 less students than they had four years ago and three less administrators making over $100,000. Continue reading “Milford School District Salaries Over $100,000”

Padua Board Of Trustees Wants Cindy Mann Reinstated NOW!

As a protest is forthcoming tomorrow in front of St. Anthony’s Catholic Church due to the termination of the much-loved and respected Head of School Cindy Mann at Padua Academy, the Board of Trustees for the school sent out a letter today regarding their opinion of the firing.  They do NOT agree with Father Nicholas Waseline’s decision yesterday.

The controversial decision, based on the firing of Mann because she would not allow Father Waseline to dip into the Padua Academy coffers, has caused a tremendous outcry from students, alumni, teachers, and even the former Head of School.

In a February news bulletin from their website, Father Waseline talks about his plan to pillage Padua’s finances to boost the parish.  But what he has done is alienate parishioners, some of whom have sworn to stop giving to the parish until Mann is reinstated:

Excellence in education is recognized as a current and ongoing reality at Padua Academy. It is, without doubt, one of the best secondary schools in the region. Padua Academy retains its identity as a Parish School, even though 97% of the students who attend, and their families, are not parishioners of St. Anthony of Padua Parish. The school is well-positioned for success – it is professionally managed, financially viable and maintains an admissions waiting list. Most of the Academy graduates attend the best colleges and universities in the country and beyond. We are grateful for Padua Academy’s accomplishments and outstanding reputation. The financial corollary of the fact that only 3% of Padua’s students are parishioners is that virtually no financial support from a majority of student families flows to the parish in terms of offertory contributions. When the significant number of Padua students were parishioners, their families were regular financial contributors to the parish. With the current demographics of today’s Padua students and families in mind, the parish has determined that a “Stewardship Assessment” of Padua revenue will be established to restore the offertory income no longer available to the parish and reconcile the value of the Padua campus within the parish portfolio of assets.

Might want to rethink this one Father Waseline!


Charter School Salaries Over $100,000: MOT, Newark Charter, Odyssey, Providence Creek, & Sussex Academy

These five charter schools are very distinctive in one area: they all have low populations of special education students compared to their surrounding districts.  But those aren’t the only comparisons among them.  Two of them have school leaders that received salary bumps over $50,000 and then resigned or are set to retire.  Pension law in Delaware sets your pension based on your three highest years of salary.  Intentional?  You be the judge.

These five charters range from near the top of Delaware in New Castle County all the way to the heart of Sussex County with one right near the middle in Kent.  All of these charters have significant student enrollment and have taken many students from their surrounding school districts.  They are also in very populous, and in some cases, fast growing areas of the state.

Continue reading “Charter School Salaries Over $100,000: MOT, Newark Charter, Odyssey, Providence Creek, & Sussex Academy”

Laurel School District Salaries Over $100,000

One of the southernmost districts in Delaware, Laurel school district’s population is increasing at a modest rate.  But it also has a very large percentage of low-income students.  As well, they are dealing with a fast growing population of English Language learners.  Many districts in western Sussex county face the same issue with property assessments bearing a large burden on local taxpayers.  The way the system was set up decades ago has winners and losers.  For Laurel property owners, they lose big.  As a result, the district is forced to tighten their money belt the same time their population is growing.  Four years ago, only the Superintendent made over $100,000, now there are five. Continue reading “Laurel School District Salaries Over $100,000”