Rep Kim Williams Rips Into The Delaware DOE During Public Meeting

The Delaware Dept. of Education held the third meeting of the Strategic Plan for Specialized Education Opportunities in Delaware today.  I can’t even make an abbreviation out of that one.  Do not be confused with the Strategic Plan for Special Education that the DOE is also working on.  In any event, Delaware State Rep. Kim Williams was NOT a happy camper.  While she is not a member of this committee, she attended the meeting and had some words to say to the DOE.

Apparently this committee came about as a result of an amendment on House Bill #56, the Wilmington charter school moratorium legislation signed by Governor Markell in 2015.  The Dept. was tasked with reviewing all educational opportunities in the state including charter, district, and vo-tech.  The DOE contracted with Public Consulting Group (PCG) to write up the report which came out last December.  PCG continued to work on the strategic plan and came out with another report in October.  In the October report, PCG made a reference to a District-Charter Collaboration Task Force.  Which is ironic since they didn’t post minutes nor did they come out with a final report.

At one point during the meeting today, Delaware Senator David Sokola mentioned a need for low-income and special education information on school choice applications.  David Blowman from the Delaware DOE allowed me to speak and I mentioned how the Enrollment Preferences Task Force, of which Sokola was a member, voted in the majority that information like that should not be on choice applications.  I mentioned that it was recommendations from the task force but it showed a clear decision to not have those items on choice applications.  Blowman agreed with me and said those items should not be on applications.  This prompted Rep. Williams to speak…

In August, Rep. Williams contacted the DOE about this strategic plan.  She contacted PCG and discussed the Enrollment Preferences Task Force, which met for a year and a half, kept all their minutes, and came out with a mammoth-sized final report which was sent to the DOE and the General Assembly.  She emailed a link to PCG.  Nothing even mentioning the Enrollment Preferences Task Force made it into PCG’s October report.  Williams blasted the DOE for this by stating she failed to understand how this strategic plan is meant to provide opportunities for ALL students.  She was clearly (and understandably) upset the report gave no mention to a task force she devoted a year and a half to.  But the District-Charter Collaboration Task Force, which had severe issues with transparency and no final report.  It was obvious to many in the audience that this oversight was not simply a mistake on PCG’s report.  I know for a fact the Delaware DOE and State Board of Education Executive Director Donna Johnson worked with PCG on their initial report which came out a few days before the final report for the Enrollment Preferences Task Force came out.

Senator Sokola asked Williams why she didn’t introduce legislation based on the recommendations of the task force during the last legislative session.  Williams explained that the legislation wouldn’t have come out until March of this year and everyone was very wrapped up in the WEIC redistricting plan.  Sokola said he can see that.  But Williams did say she will be introducing legislation based on those recommendations when the General Assembly comes back in January.  Williams argued that if she didn’t look at the October report from PCG and she didn’t attend this meeting, the DOE wouldn’t have even thought to mention the work 27 members of the task force worked on for a year and a half into this strategic plan.  There was no clear response from Blowman or Susan Haberstroh (also with the DOE).

Williams mentioned the glaring omission two times.  Eventually, Haberstroh assured the committee and Rep. Williams the Enrollment Preference Task Force report would be a part of the strategic plan.  This was supposed to be the last meeting of this committee but once the subject of enrollment barriers came up it was obvious the committee would need to meet again which all agreed to.

There is something about this committee that seems off.  Sokola and State Rep. Earl Jaques talked about the Christina School District a few times when talking about surplus school seats.  As well, the subject of empty buildings districts own came up.  I always find it to be odd when Sokola and Jaques, who are in their seats primarily because of voters from the Christina School District, tear into them.  I didn’t trust it when Sokola mentioned having information on choice applications he knew damn well shouldn’t be on there.

When Jeff Klein with the University of Delaware presented a report on choice applications by zip code, he did say there was a section in Maryland.  Sokola mentioned it could be a teacher sending their child to a Delaware school.  Which I assume to be Newark Charter School.  The DOE responded by saying it would be illegal for Delaware to pay for a Maryland student in a Delaware school.  Sokola had a puzzled look on his face…

Kendall Massett with the Delaware Charter Schools Network asked a question similar to one she asked at the meeting a few weeks ago.  She questioned why, as an example, if Woodbridge and Delmar school districts wanted a culinary program but didn’t have enough students to have a program, why they couldn’t push for opening a charter school to serve that need.  Heath Chasanov with Woodbridge explained they do have a program with Delmar that Del Tech coordinates.  I don’t fault Kendall for asking the question, but it would be more financially feasible for the districts to work together to offer programs in coordination as opposed to opening a brand new charter school that may or not fail.  This was echoed by David Blowman.

I did find out, 100%, that there are NO plans for Prestige Academy to merge into EastSide Charter School and Family Foundations.  Massett did explain that all the Wilmington charters are working with Prestige for a smooth transition for the students when the charter closes at the end of the year.

To read the reports PCG came out with in October, please see below.

Exceptional Delaware Endorses Kim Williams For State Representative, 19th District

kimwilliamsstaterep

She does the right thing.  There is no other reason than that to vote for Kim Williams in the 19th District.  But for those few and far between in Delaware who may not know Kim Williams, let me explain why I am endorsing her.

Kim Williams is the Vice Chair of the House Education Committee.  She has served on that committee since she was first elected in 2012.  In that time, she has dealt with charter school reform, opt out, charter school audit, teacher evaluation, special education, education funding, Smarter Balanced, the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission, bullying, and so much more.  She votes with her conscience every single time.  Not how others vote, or the popular vote, but how SHE wants to vote.  And behind that vote is her love of children.  Not just the children of her district.  Not just the children in the Red Clay Consolidated School District.  All the children of Delaware.

If there are issues going on at a school, she is there.  She isn’t afraid to ask questions when it has to happen.  If there is something big going on in education, she is there.

My favorite “Kim Williams” moment was when I was talking to a friend that lives in a school district 45 minutes south of me.  Kim’s district is way up in Newcastle County.  This friend told me how she was working with Kim on an issue.  I was amazed that Kim would help someone who lives so far away.  That’s just who she is.

But she is more than just an “education” state rep.  She is the people’s representative.  To me, she is the heart and soul of Delaware, at least what I would like it to be one day.  I wrote a fake article last year called The Last Exceptional Delaware Post.  In this imaginary future, Kim Williams was the Governor of Delaware in the year 2024.  I’m not ruling that out!

In writing this article, I wanted to find a picture of Kim that represents who she is.  It was very hard.  As I looked through her pictures on Facebook, she is always surrounded by people.  All the time.  Whether it is her family, her friends, her constituents, her peers in the General Assembly, she is always with people!

Please check out Kim’s State Rep. Facebook page to see how engaged she is with not only her constituents, but all of Delaware.  For those wishing to donate to Kim’s campaign, please go here: Contribute to Kim Williams, State Rep. 19th District Campaign

Delaware State Rep. Kim Williams Creates New Blog: “Delaware First State”

Let me get this out right off the bat, Kim Williams is awesome!  And not just because we are on a lot of the same sides when it comes to education.  She is the perfect legislator.  She cares about her constituents.  But more than that, she cares about Delaware.  Her heart is in Red Clay, but she knows she belongs to Delaware.  If she has pending legislation, I trust these are bills which will help ALL of Delaware, not just her neck of the woods.  I’ve talked with Kim many times about the issues facing students in Delaware, and she always listens.  But it isn’t just that.  When she hears the same themes and problems, she takes action!

I encourage all my readers, no matter what side of the political fence you sit on, to check out Kim’s new blog, Delaware FIrst State.  In her pre-legislator days, Kim ran two different blogs, centered around Red Clay.  I am happy Kim is writing again as I didn’t get to see her first two go-arounds on the blogosphere.  I know Kim will touch on the issues that are important to all Delawareans!  Welcome back Kim!  Fellow Delaware bloggers, please add Kim to your blogroll.