Which Schools Will Become Priority Schools For 2015-2016? The List Of Contenders…

Delaware Priority Schools Takeover

The below email between employees at the Delaware Department of Education from June 21st, 2014, shows what criteria was used for picking the priority schools.  Five of the six priority schools chosen for 2014-2015 are in here, and I would have to assume some of these schools would be removed from the list based on their removal from partnership zone status earlier this year.  I have bolded the ones that are currently priority schools or are no longer turn-around schools.  Why isn’t Shortlidge on this list?

Even more interesting is some of the former partnership schools that were NOT on this list, but the reasons for that are clearly spelled out in the criteria.  What is truly bizarre is the addition of charter schools.  Especially the one that was closed a year and a half prior to this email.  Moyer and Reach have already been ordered to shut down by the end of this current school year, so my guess would be charters are no longer a part of this program since they are already subject to their own performance framework.

The press release they talk about in the email would most likely have been the one from May, 2014 on the new child nutrition “free lunch” program.  There is a DOE website in the press release for all the schools that qualified for the prior program.

Fri 6/20/2014 8:54 AM

Rivello Angeline

Found the list of schools

To   Cannon Tasha <tasha.cannon@doe.k12.de.us>

cc    Adkins Ruth E. <ruth.adkins@doe.k12.de.us>


I found the list in the press release.  It also explains at the bottom how they were selected.  Let me know if you have questions.  Trying to do clean up before vaca week next week. 🙂 

Eligible Schools

The initiative’s eligible schools for the next two years are:

· Brandywine School District’s Harlan Elementary

· Cape Henlopen School District’s Brittingham Elementary

· Capital School District’s South Dover, Towne Point and East Dover elementary schools and Dover High

· Christina School District’s Christiana High, Brookside Elementary, Bayard Middle, Elbert-Palmer Elementary, Pulaski Elementary, Oberle Elementary, Glasgow High, Stubbs Elementary and Bancroft Elementary

· Colonial School District’s McCullough Middle, Colwyck Elementary, Castle Hills Elementary, Downie Elementary and Eisenberg Elementary

· Indian River School District’s Georgetown, North Georgetown, and Clayton elementary schools

· Laurel School District’s Laurel Middle

· Red Clay Consolidated School District’s Warner Elementary, Highlands Elementary, A.I. duPont Middle, Mote Elementary, Richardson Park Elementary, Baltz Elementary, Lewis Elementary, Marbrook Elementary and Stanton Middle

· Seaford School District’s West Seaford and Blades elementary schools

· New Castle County Vo-Tech School District’s Howard High School of Technology

· Charter schools: Positive Outcomes, Thomas Edison, EastSide, Prestige, Academy of Dover, Family Foundations, Delaware College Preparatory Academy, Kuumba Academy, Pencader, Moyer and Reach

Delaware Department of Education chose the eligible schools, which have at least 100 students, based upon the following criteria:

· A school’s inclusion in the state’s Partnership Zone

  • A school’s appearance in the “Top 15 schools” in at least two of the following three categories: highest percentages of minority students, highest percentages of low-income students (students on free- and reduced-price lunches), and highest percentages of English language learners.
  • In addition, schools could be eligible if they have at least 75 percent of their students in any one of the three above categories.

 Angeline A. Willen Rivello

Director, Teacher & Administrator Quality 

Teacher & Leader Effectiveness Unit

Delaware Department of Education

Collette Education Resource Center

35 Commerce Way, Suite 1

Dover, DE 19904

302.857.3388 (T)  302.739.1777 (F)



Christina School Board Member John Young Interviewed On Newswork’s First For Friday To Discuss Priority Schools

Delaware Priority Schools Takeover

Christina Board of Education member John Young appeared on WHYY/Newswork’s First For Friday video series in an interview by Avi Wolfman-Arent to discuss the priority schools in the Christina School District.  This is an excellent depiction of the reality and horror this school district has been through in trying to save these three schools. The interview with Mr. Young begins around the 7:00 mark.



Delaware House of Representatives Leadership Has Very Strong Reaction on DOE Letter to Christina about Priority Schools

Delaware Priority Schools Takeover

The Delaware General Assembly House of Representatives leadership has issued a statement to all members of the House concerning the Delaware Department of Education letter to the Christina School District about their priority schools.

From: Finnigan, Sean (LegHall)
Sent: Thursday, February 12, 2015 4:48 PM
To: Finnigan, Sean (LegHall)
Subject: Memo on Behalf of House Leadership regarding Christina School District


To:                  House Democratic Caucus Members


From:             Representative Pete Schwartzkopf

                        Representative Valerie Longhurst

                        Representative John Viola

Date:              2/12/2015

Re:                  Christina School District Priority Schools

During the past two days, several caucus members have contacted leadership expressing concerns about the Department of Education’s letter to the Christina School District (which is attached). Thank you for contacting us. We wanted to update you on what actions we took and where the situation currently is.

On Tuesday, Secretary of Education Mark Murphy sent a letter to Christina School District saying that the district’s Board of Education is not in compliance with the Priority School program. As a result, Secretary Murphy gave district leaders until February 27 to decide on one of following options for its three priority schools: closure or restructuring, either as a charter school or under an education management organization. The letter also detailed the Wilmington Education Advisory Group’s recommendation to redraw Christina’s school district lines and close the noncontiguous Wilmington portion of Christina’s district in the city. The suggestion was that doing so could have an effect on “the planning process for Christina’s Priority Schools moving forward.”

Caucus leadership held a conference call with staff to discuss this issue and the concerns that several of you raised about this letter. We had multiple conversations with the governor’s office about the issue and had decided to send a letter to the governor asking that the Department of Education to extend the fast-approaching February 27 deadline. In part, the letter would have noted that forcing a short turnaround for Christina to make a decision would not result in a productive outcome, and it could have a negative impact on school referendums that are taking place. We also planned to ask the governor to convene a group of district, DOE stakeholders to reach a decision on this issue. The letter would have requested that the Chairs of the House and Senate Education committees be included in the negotiations to help facilitate the discussion, and to ensure that each caucus received accurate accounts of the progress of the negotiations. 

Late Wednesday evening, we learned that the Christina School Board voted at its Tuesday meeting to support the Wilmington Education Advisory Group’s recommendation to close the Wilmington portion Christina’s district (a copy of that resolution is also attached). When they learned of this, the governor’s office told us that the February 27 deadline no longer applied because Christina had pledged to work with the state to implement the WEAC redistricting recommendation.

Currently, we are communicating with the governor’s office about what they foresee as the next steps. Here’s what we do know:

·         Any redistricting process will require action by the General Assembly.

·         Any redistricting process will take multiple years to implement.

·         Any redistricting process is a complicated process that will involve a lot of discussions about finances and revenue, and it may require a significant amount of state money to implement.

Most importantly, we need to recognize and remember that when we talk about redistricting these Christina School District schools, we are talking about not just the physical schools, but hundreds of teachers who will be unsure of their future, and thousands of students whose educational future is at stake. Whatever we do in the coming weeks and months, our focus must be on what’s best for all of them, as well as the state of Delaware.

Please do not hesitate to contact any of us in leadership if you have questions, concerns or suggestions.

Twitter Feed from Christina Board Meeting, Packed House, Upset Crowd

Delaware Priority Schools Takeover

The day I ‘ve dreaded for the past few months is here as the Delaware Department of Education threw down the gauntlet to the Christina School Board today: close the three priority schools or hand them over.   In the letter from the DOE, they also mention the Wilmington Education Committee’s recommendation to redistrict the schools, essentially handing them over the Red Clay Consolidated.  I’m not sure how I feel about this.  It just seems way too convenient and the timing is suspicious.  In any event, on to the Twitter feed thanks to the awesome Apl_Jax!





Delaware DOE To Christina: You lose your priority schools, close them or hand them over!

Delaware Priority Schools Takeover

The News Journal has just announced the Delaware Department of Education has given an ultimatum: close your three priority schools, convert them to a charter, or hand them over to a management company.  They have until February 27th to comply.

Matthew Albright’s article is not shocking.  I’ve expected this response for quite a while.  Now the fun begins!  There’s this little thing called the Christina Educators Association.  This is called union-busting, and Governor Markell will not gain any new friends over this.  I think it’s time the Christina Board of Education deployed their “nuclear option”.

The Christina School Board must choose by Feb. 27 whether to close its three Priority Schools or hand them over to charter schools or other education management organizations, the Department of Education has said in a letter to district staff sent Tuesday.

The decision comes after a contentious, months-long back and forth between the state and the Christina School Board.

Announced in September, Priority Schools is the state’s effort to improve six inner-city Wilmington schools in the Christina and Red Clay school districts with some of the state’s lowest test scores. State officials want to get elite school leaders in place, free them from most district rules and split about $2.8 million among the schools to fund innovative changes.

Christina’s three Priority Schools are Stubbs and Bancroft elementary schools and Bayard Middle School.

The plans have encountered outrage and stiff resistance, especially in Christina. Many educators feel the state is blaming them for low test scores when they say the real problems are systemic poverty and violence.

Last week, Christina School Board voted not to approve turnaround plans for the schools. Board members said they wanted more clarity on how teachers would be selected to staff the schools, saying they were convinced current school staff were the best people to lead improvements. They said they did not want to approve plans that could make it easier for teachers to be fired or transferred.

For more reaction from local officials and educators, keep watching DelawareOnline.com and read tomorrow’s edition of The News Journal.


Transparent Christina has an actual copy of the letter posted here: https://transparentchristina.wordpress.com/2015/02/10/showdown-2-0-let-the-union-busting-begin/

Red Clay Priority School Plans Approved By Delaware DOE

Delaware Priority Schools Takeover

In a move that probably shocks no one, the Delaware Department of Education approved the Red Clay Consolidated School District’s priority school plans.  This announcement was released today by the Evil Empire, sorry, Delaware DOE.  No word from them about what in the world they are going to do about Christina School District and their three priority schools as the chess match continues.  I find this announcement very interesting in light of the Wilmington Education Committee’s recommendations that Christina and Colonial relinquish their stake in the City of Wilmington’s schools.  Here is the DOE’s own Alison May with the press release:

Red Clay Priority Schools to move forward with school plans

Red Clay Consolidated School District’s three Priority Schools will provide new student supports, add Saturday and afterschool enrichment activities for students and families, and ensure greater parental involvement under plans that are moving forward after the Delaware Department of Education today approved the district to move onto the next steps in transforming these schools.

In September, Gov. Jack Markell and Secretary of Education Mark Murphy announced significant resources and support for the state’s six lowest-performing district schools, providing the opportunity for substantial changes in their approach to improve their students’ academic performance. These Priority Schools, all located within the City of Wilmington and split evenly between the Christina and Red Clay school districts, are eligible to share about $6 million to implement locally-developed, state-approved plans. The funding comes from several sources including federal School Improvement Grant and remaining Race to the Top resources.

Over the following four months, Red Clay leaders worked with educators, families and community members to develop school plans tailored to meet the unique needs of the students in Highlands Elementary, Shortlidge Academy, and Warner Elementary. The plans are in line with a Memorandum of Understanding agreed to by the district and DDOE.

Red Clay’s school board approved individual school plans on January 27, and after review by Delaware Department of Education staff and national experts, the schools will continue to work with the community, district, and state to finalize plans for the 2015-16 school year.

In the coming days, the department will provide feedback to Red Clay about ways to continue to strengthen all three plans during that process so that final plans can be approved in the spring.

“We know that many of the children in these communities face unique challenges that require more support and resources. Thanks to Red Clay’s leadership and collaboration with its school communities, Highland, Shortlidge, and Warner now will have the plans and resources to better meet students’ needs,” Murphy said. 

Red Clay Deputy Superintendent Hugh Broomall said his district is ready to move forward.

“We’re excited about the opportunity,” he said. “The work is hard, but we’re ready to engage in the process.”

Highlights of the School Plans


All Schools:

  • Parents will notice better coordinated referrals to community services for families and supports for teachers to improve behavior management in the classroom.
  • Schools will implement the use of iPads and laptops for students and teachers to improve technology literacy for students, with support to help teachers integrate this technology into their lessons.
  • Each school will host a leadership team, which will include a parent and community member, to help inform the decision-making of the school leader. The team’s responsibilities will include: organizing correspondence to the school community on developments in academic and social-emotional programming, improving academic growth and reviewing academic goals, monitoring progress on the implementation of the school’s plan toward its goals, reviewing achievements of teachers, and revisiting ongoing supports to ensure their success.
  • The district is implementing a new math curriculum in all three schools.

Shortlidge and Warner Elementary Schools

  • The district will reconfigure grades at two of the schools, with Shortlidge becoming a PK-3 grade campus and Warner becoming 4-5 grade campus.
  • Schools will offer Saturday Library as a time set aside for students and families to study a particular topic and for families to read with their children.
  • Schools will offer increased after school enrichment activities that are academic in focus but have character-building components that teach students skills such as sportsmanship and self-esteem. For example, Reading Basketball would offer students reading remediation with basketball games as a reward for participating.

Highlands Elementary School

  • Highlands will foster opportunities for parent-led activities for families at the school, such as family fitness night and a science expo.
  • Reading and math activities at Highlands will ensure parents have the tools needed to support their students to be successful in core content areas.
  • And Saturday activities at Highlands for students and families will increase tech literacy of students and provide parents with life skills workshops.

Alison May alison.may@doe.k12.de.us (302) 735-4000

Governor Jack Markell, Are You Going To Bust A Union?

Delaware Priority Schools Takeover

My oh my, what a tangled web we weave.  The Christina Board adjourned their board meeting with NO Christina Educators Association Memorandum of Understanding negotiated in regards to the Priority Schools.  What will Governor Markell do now?  Will he actually bust a teachers union?  And what will the legislators do if he does?  This will certainly be an interesting next few days.

In the meantime, the Delaware Department of Education has not done anything with the approved MOUs the Christina Board gave them two weeks ago.  Either they were holding out for the CEA MOUs, or they really don’t care at this point.  This has dragged out much longer than most people thought.  Maybe the public pressure is getting to the DOE and they are in stall mode.  However this works out, short of the DOE and Markell ditching the priority plans altogether, it will be a public relations nightmare for both of them.

If you read my last post, with the live Twitter feeds from the board meeting, it looks like the board is more unified than they were at their meeting two weeks ago.  What happens next will be anyone’s guess!

Will Markell Break the CEA Union? Priority Schools Showdown & The Unseen Force Waiting In The Wings

Delaware Priority Schools Takeover

The Christina Board of Education may have approved the Memorandum of Understanding for the three priority schools within their district, but the Christina Educators Association (CEA) is a different story.  To date, they have not approved the MOU.  Tonight, the Christina Board will look at the plans for the three schools, but if the CEA doesn’t approve either than this will put Delaware Governor Jack Markell in a position of breaking up a teacher’s union in order to implement the priority schools for Christina.

This is a no win situation for both Christina School District, the teachers, the students, and the CEA.  Markell doesn’t seem to care because he has two years left in office, can’t be re-elected as Governor, and will move on to greener pastures when his time is done.  The DOE would like nothing more than to put an end to teacher’s unions so they can continue to push their pro corporate education reform agendas.  It is my belief this is what they have wanted all along.  This is the Achilles Heel they found and are doing their best to utilize this advantage.

Add in the Wilmington Education Committee’s reform education in Wilmington plan, which is led by one of the most pro-charter school individuals in the state, and this is a recipe for disaster.  One item that hasn’t even come up in any of these conversations is the voice that will soon roar.  The parent opt out moment will be the talk of the state in coming weeks, and this is the situation the DOE has desperately been trying to avoid for months now.  The legality behind parent opt out is being questioned at very high levels at this very moment.  Everything Markell, the DOE, and the Wilmington Education Committee are doing rests on one test.  This is not what education should be about.  Our children are more than test scores. Our schools are more than test scores.  And Delaware should be more than test scores.

Red Clay Priority School Plans Approved By Board & Other Priority School Tidbits

Delaware Priority Schools Takeover

It looks like the Red Clay Consolidated School Board has passed the priority school plans each school drafted for the Delaware Department of Education’s priority schools initiative.  Next stop, the DOE.  And due to the snowmageddon that never happened, Christina postponed their board meeting to vote on the plans until February 3rd, a week from tonight.  All of this will further postpone any decision by the DOE and Governor Markell on the priority schools until early February at the earliest.  Meanwhile, the Wilmington Education Committee recommendations for Wilmington schools will be heard tomorrow in a Joint House and Senate Education Committee meeting tomorrow at Legislative Hall in Dover at 3pm.

As per Mike Matthews on Twitter:


“Cops in Wilmington with high crime rates don’t have to reapply for their jobs”

Delaware Priority Schools Takeover

These words, said by a teacher on Tuesday night at the Christina Board of Education meeting, made me think.  For a city recently labeled as “Murdertown”, why wouldn’t these police have to reapply for their jobs?  If you are going to make teachers do it at priority schools, why wouldn’t you hold law enforcement accountable?  Maybe because it’s not the right thing to do in either case Governor Markell.  Both are prime examples where the funding just isn’t there, and you can’t put a band-aid on a severed artery.

Another murder happened last night.  A teenager.  Not even a man yet.  I’ve heard stories lately Governor Markell.  From teachers in these schools.  How students can’t even get a good night sleep because they are hiding under a bed due to gunfire happening right outside their home.  How they have lost loved ones due to murder.  How they can’t go home and hug their dad cause he is buried in the ground.  And yet you endorse the work of the Delaware Department of Education.  You praise their ability to make students “work harder” so they can perform in the “new economy”.  If it’s such a “new economy”, than why are you using the old company you used to work for in what will surely be another profit for them?  You are so disconnected from the reality of the state you govern Jack.  According to the Priority diva in the DOE, violence in Wilmington “isn’t necessarily a hurdle to overcome.”  Tell that to the students that will find out today one of their classmates won’t be coming to school on Monday.  Tell that to the teachers who have to teach the almighty Common Core on Monday knowing the words opt out takes on a whole other meaning for one of these students.  Balance that in your blueprint Jack!

Someone had a very good idea.  Bring these children to Governor Markell and Secretary of Education Murphy.  Bring them in droves to the Townsend Building in Dover on February 19th during the State Board of Education meeting.  Let them tell their stories to those who need to hear them the most.  Bring their parents that are willing and able to support them.  Hell, bring all teachers and educators in those schools that day.  Bring them by the busloads.  I am very serious here.  Someone from the media will be there.  Make it a field trip for all to Legislative Hall so they can speak with the legislators that pass the bills which have allowed this to happen with these schools.  I will be there supporting every single one of you.  Let’s make it happen.

Hear The Fatal Four On The Christina Board Pass The Priority MOUs!

Delaware Priority Schools Takeover

From the Christina Board meeting last night.  Listen to every single word!  Hear how four members of the board handed their schools over to the DOE.


Brainwashed Fatal Four on Christina Board Pass Priority School MOUs, Kowalko Storms Out, My FOIA Request, & Very Mad Teachers

Delaware Priority Schools Takeover

I attended the Christina Board of Education meeting tonight.  To say it was chaos would be an understatement.  Picture watching France capitulate to Germany in 1940, and that was the Fatal Four on the Christina Board tonight.  Enough to get the damn MOUs passed.  The Delaware DOE is now clear to reject this MOU and give the district their three options: close, convert to charter, or hand over the schools to a management organization.

The board I saw two weeks ago was vastly different.  Tonight there were two clear sides: one that seems to have been brainwashed by the DOE during the non-public and non-recorded negotiation meeting on 1/9, and the other three members of the board who were not given all the pertinent information from the other.

The vote for the priority schools MOUs passed 4-3.  But not before board members John Young and Elizabeth Paige attempted to add amendments to the previously approved MOU and modified by the superintendent and the other four board members.  Every amendment Young and Paige offered was turned down, with the exception being Paige’s very wise suggestion of deleting the comment “Any other documents are secondary to this document”.  That passed 4-3 after teachers in the audience almost had an open revolt over that line which would make their teacher contracts null and void.

Delaware State Representative John Kowalko stormed out when he realized this board was going to pass the MOUs as written.  By this time I suspected the four board members had changed the past couple weeks, and the superintendent as well.  I asked to give public comment and openly told the four members of the board and the superintendent I didn’t trust them and I requested a FOIA for all board members emails between themselves and the DOE going back to January 1st of this year. I told the Fatal Four they weren’t looking at the audience the way the other two were (from my vantage point, I couldn’t see if board member Ressler was or not, but he was one of the good guys tonight, so I didn’t care).

Red Clay teacher Mike Matthews told board member George Evans he has been on the board 35 years in response to Evan’s comment to Christina teacher Jackie Kook about this “putting the kids first”.  Matthews is now campaigning for anyone to run against Evans in the upcoming board seat election.

The Fatal Four who voted Yes for the MOUs were President Fred Polaski, George Evans, Shirley Sutton Saffer, and the one board member I never thought would do anything with an MOU but tear it up, Harrie Ellen Minnehan.  The heroes of the night were Young, Paige and Ressler.  It seemed obvious an alliance had developed amongst the Fatal Four and Superintendent Dr. Freeman Williams.  This cabal, in my opinion, purposely didn’t tell the other board members key information, which was the reason for my FOIA request.  If the DOE’s goal was to split the board and turn them against each other, they succeeded.

This was a board divided, and the Fatal Four discounted anything the other three had to say.  And it’s not like the other three were just talking about nothing.  All of the amendments and their discussion made sense.  The Heroic Three were blindsided by the Fatal Four.  The Fatal Four should have just told the audience at the beginning of the night they were going to vote yes for the mass destruction of public education in Delaware and saved us all a miserable three and a half hours of sheer hell with their crossed arms and smug angry faces.  By the time I requested my FOIA, I felt like I was going to vomit in my mouth if Polaski said “The DOE wants…” one more time.

While Legislators Dine At The Governor’s House, Fate Of 1000+ Students To Be Discussed At Christina Board Meeting

Delaware Priority Schools Takeover

Governor Jack Markell is hosting a dinner at Woodburn Mansion in Dover tonight for all the legislators and their families.  Meanwhile, the Board of Education for Christina School District is having their third board meeting in 15 days to go over the Memorandum of Understanding for each of their three priority schools.

The dichotomy here is amazing.  How much money does it cost for a dinner at a mansion with 200 people in attendance?  How many of the low-income students in these schools could be fed for a month with those kinds of funds?  I highly doubt Markell ordered Taco Bell for everyone.

Meanwhile, Mike Matthews reported the following on Facebook:

This should be fun. Mark your calendars: There will be a Joint Education Committee meeting in Dover on Wednesday, January 21. I’m told that because education has been such a hot topic that both houses of the legislature will be joining forces to get an update from DoE on any host of hot messes going on right now.

That might be a meeting worth going to if it is open for the public.  As of right now there is no notice of this meeting on http://legis.delaware.gov/LEGISLATURE.NSF/?open but I’m sure that will change.

I caught the tail-end of the swearing-in ceremony for the Delaware State Representatives.  It was a packed house with no actual legislation discussed.  I expect they will be seeing me around Legislative Hall quite a bit during the next six months.

I expect final decisions will be made by the DOE and Governor Markell within the next week on the six priority schools in Red Clay Consolidated and Christina School Districts.

Wilmington Education Advisory Committee Letter To Governor Markell re: Priority Schools

Delaware Priority Schools Takeover

It is really great to see all the support coming to the priority schools in Christina School District and Red Clay Consolidated School District.  We need more support to sway the Governor from making a rash and lasting decision that will affect thousands of students and educators in Delaware.

Priority Schools: FOIAs, Injunctions, Meetings, Petitions, Legislators **UPDATED**

Delaware Priority Schools Takeover

The priority school crisis in Delaware has reached a fever pitch this week.  Today, the Christina School District “Negotiation” team is making a last ditch effort to try to negotiate with the despotic Delaware Department of Education.  Most believe it is for naught, as the DOE and Governor Markell have already made up their mind and are gearing up to present this to the public.

There are still a few things that could stop or stall this authoritarian initiative.  Unreleased FOIAs could give insight to any irregularities or outright illegal actions on the part of the DOE.  The DOE could accept CSD’s new MOU (about the same time as North Korea becomes a free and open country).  Someone or a group could file an injunction which would buy some time for other alternatives.  A petition will be hand delivered to Mark Murphy’s office today with well over 600 signatures by Delaware Parents & Teachers For Public Education, maybe this will have some weight.  The 148th General Assembly will step in and put a stop to it.

This is what I think will happen: Meeting goes south today, Markell makes an announcement either on his weekly public address tomorrow or Monday, an injunction is filed, much awaited FOIAs get released Monday that will be so heavily redacted nothing will make sense, and this starts getting sold to the public the week after next if the injunction doesn’t prevent that.  And for those who think Red Clay is in the clear, think again.

Here’s the thing though: This violates Federal law.  There are many students with IEPs.  ANY change in placement is an IEP Team decision.  So unless every single student’s IEP Team had the opportunity to be given every single choice and decided on it, any priority school MOU is illegal.  We are dealing with least restrictive environment, FAPE, and educational placement here.  Any change, whether it is extending the school day, or Extended School Year summer classes, or a change from public school district to charter is something the IEP Team decides, not the Delaware DOE or Governor Markell.

So if Markell and the DOE want to go ahead with their plans, go right ahead.  But you will be facing the above.  And I will personally spearhead this special education initiative.  You always forget about the special needs students, don’t you?

UPDATED, 1/9/15: As of 1:00pm, the negotiations are still going on.  I will keep you updated if I hear anything!

The Backstabbing and Nefarious Penny Schwinn’s Email With The Original Timeline To Christina School District

148th General Assembly, Delaware Priority Schools Takeover


This was sent to me anonymously via email just now.  I have no doubt this is real as it matches exactly with information I was given a week ago from the Friends Of Christina group.  Did Markell have a chat with Penny Schwinn to bump this up?  Why would the DOE all of a sudden change everything?  This is the evil tactics Schwinn and the DOE have been up to.  They play games constantly.  Don’t believe the spin the News Journal puts on this.  They toyed with Christina and the only reason for this change is to put the screws to them.

Sent: Friday, December 26, 2014 2:20:46 PM (UTC-05:00) Eastern Time (US & Canada)
Subject: Fwd: Thank you for your submission


Sent from my Verizon Wireless 4G LTE smartphone

——– Original message ——–

From: Schwinn Penny
Date:12/26/2014 1:44 PM (GMT-05:00)
Subject: Thank you for your submission

Good afternoon,

Thank you for your recent submission of Priority School draft plans, the proposed MOU between the Department and the District, as well as the MOU between Christina School District and its collective bargaining agreement.

Please expect feedback to be returned to you within five (5) business days. For clarity, you should expect to receive feedback in the early afternoon of January 5th. (As a reminder, the State of Delaware granted 12/24, 12/25, 12/26, 1/1, and 1/2 as holidays/vacation days. The review days will therefore occur beginning at 12:30pm on 12/22 through 12:30pm on 1/5).

We recognize that the turnaround time for the District between 12:30pm on 1/5 to COB on 1/7 is likely too tight to be able to review, discuss, and implement the feedback that may be provided. As a result, the Department offers to do the following:

•        Further extend the initial plan deadline to 1/9/15 COB

•        The Department would conduct a review over five business days and provide the District with the plans status levels at that time

•        If the plans are “substantially approvable,” the Department would provide additional feedback to the schools

•        The Department would provide for a community engagement window to run through 1/21/15. This window would allow for a second opportunity for the community to provide feedback on the full plans and any revisions required

•        The final version of the plans would be due to the Department on 1/21/15 by COB (5:00pm)

•        The Department would review the final versions of the plans and provide a final announcement on or around 1/20/15.

We had also discussed the publication of manuals regarding “next steps.” Given the potentially extended timeline as well as our focus on reviewing your plans comprehensively over this condensed holiday season, we will also plan to publish the manuals shortly into the new year. We sincerely hope that this additional time, should you opt into accepting it, will allow for more community feedback in the month of January on the actual plans, should they be substantially approvable on January 9, 2015.

Thank you again for submitting drafts of your plans. We hope that the being able to provide feedback in advance of the final review will give the District every opportunity to solicit the feedback and make the revisions needed. Although the offers to meet in December were declined, the Department continues to offer the opportunity to meet to discuss the feedback and a list of the days and times available can be sent if CSD changes its mind and would like to meet to discuss any content regarding the Priority Schools.

Have a wonderful holiday and we look forward to connecting in the near future.


Penny Schwinn
Chief Accountability and Performance Officer
Delaware Department of Education
401 Federal Street
Dover, DE 19901-3639

DOE Sets A Trap For Christina They Can’t Get Out Of, Penny Schwinn Sinks To New Lows Of Cunning And Manipulation

Delaware Priority Schools Takeover

At the Christina School District Board of Education meeting this evening, the board announced the Delware Department of Education has set new strict guidelines regarding their memorandum of understanding (MOU) for the priority schools.  The DOE gave Christina three options in regards to their very limited choices:

1) Approve their existing MOU which the DOE has already said is not approvable.

2) Develop a negotiating team made of 3 members of the board, the superintendent, and other members hand-picked by the superintendent.  This team would have to meet with the DOE by 1/9 (Friday) and agree to a memorandum of understanding.  The DOE would no longer give feedback on the plan.  If the sides were not able to come to an agreement, the district would have the opportunity to choose one of the three turnaround models-turn the school into a charter, school closure, or turn it over to a management company.  If the two sides were able to come to an agreement, the Christina Board would have to vote on it at their 1/13 meeting.

3) If no action is taken, and all items are tabled, the turnaround models would again be the only option.

The board voted unanimously for option #2 and to allow for three or more board members to attend the meeting.  As board member John Young pointed out, this put the board in violation of open meeting law because they would not have one week to publish a notice of an open meeting in the event four members of the seven member board, as per Title 29 regulations for the state of Delaware.  Another board member pointed out the DOE put them in this position.

The superintendent advised the board all of the options are horrible, but they are left with little choice.  State Representative Paul Baumbach advised the board it is a gesture of good faith, and if the board doesn’t honor this last ditch effort, basically it wouldn’t look good.

The board voted not to bring legal counsel to the negation meeting which the DOE advised they should.  They also voted not to invite any legislators to the meeting as well.  None of the members of the board or the audience were happy with the decision.  The DOE set a trap for the Christina School Board and they had little choice but to choose one of the three options and #1 and #3 were not even options.  This does not mean the Christina can’t or won’t submit a “nuclear option” at some point.

The board discussed how the DOE and Christina could not come to agreement on two key issues, the firing of two Christina priority school principals and laying off the staff and only half of them would be able to be rehired.

In terms of where this negotiation meeting would be held, a twisted yet hysterical part of the meeting came when board member Harrie Ruth Minnehan read DOE Chief Proficiency Officer Penny Schwinn’s hours of availability during the next two days.  The longest block of time she could provide was two hours, but only if they met in Wilmington, between 9-11am on Friday.  Yes, I can see how bad the DOE wants to negotiate in good faith…

The Christina Educators Association had a press conference before hand where CEA President Mike Kempski wanted to give teachers an opportunity to speak about the priority schools.  A few teachers spoke very heartfelt and candid speeches.  After that, Nelia Dolan, one of the founders of Delaware Parents and Teachers for Public Education, announced the creation of the group and their support for the Priority Schools.  The group plans to bring their iPetition to Governor Markell’s office in Dover on 1/12, but that plan may change given the change in the priority timetable.

This cunning and duplicitousness on the part of the DOE, who had changed the final date to January 16th and then did an about face on this 1/5 and changed the date to January 9th, has shown they do not care about collaboration or negotiation.  Which just proves my theory all along, which I advised the board of during my public comment, these schools will become charter schools at the Community Education Building in Wilmington.

Even though Red Clay Consolidated School District signed their MOU, the Delaware DOE has not fully agreed to it.  My prediction: six new charter schools will open in the next school year unless Christina chooses the nuclear option.  Or some 3rd party comes in and does something!

Christina School District Board Meeting Tonight & Christina Educators Association Press Conference

Delaware Priority Schools Takeover

All parents and students who go to the Priority Schools in the Christina School District in Delaware need to go to the Christina Educators Association (CEA) at 6:30pm and the Christina Board meeting at 7:00pm.  This will be at Sarah Pyle Academy at 501 Lombard St in Wilmington.

This will most likely be a board meeting like no other.  Delaware Parents & Teachers For Public Education may be making an announcement as well.  Below is the agenda for the Board meeting and the press release from the CEA on the press conference.  In the meantime, please sign the iPetition to voice your support against the priority school initiative (agenda).


CEA ‘Priority Schools” Press Conference
1/7/2015, 6:30 PM – 7:00 PM

Location: Sarah Pyle Academy
501 N. Lombard Street
Wilmington, DE 19801

The Christina Education Association (CEA) will hold a press conference on Wednesday, January 7th to discuss its progress in working with the Christina School District on an alternative to the Delaware Department of Education’s proposed “Priority Schools” plan. The press conference will take place at 6:30 p.m. at Sarah Pyle Academy, prior to the scheduled Christina Board of Education Meeting on January 7 at 7:00 p.m.
Mike Kempski, President of CEA, and educators from each of the schools will be available to answer questions immediately after delivering their remarks. Mr. Kempski feels the changes already underway at Stubbs Elementary, Bancroft Elementary, and Bayard Middle School have established a clear path towards future success.
 “The educators in Bancroft, Bayard, and Stubbs are committed to their students, who are making great strides, and are willing to get even better,” said Kempski. “The results of the University of Delaware’s Comprehensive Success Review clearly support our position.”

Delaware DOE Extends Timeline For Priority Schools Deadline To Christina School District

Delaware Priority Schools Takeover

The new tentative deadline for the Christina School District to submit their revised Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the three Priority Schools within their district is now January 23rd.  There is a catch here though.  Christina must submit the draft to date by January 9th, and the deadline will be extended if the DOE feels the draft is “substantially approvable”.  The Christina school board will have a meeting on Tuesday, January 20th to have a final vote on the MOU and their priority school plans and they must submit this by the next day, January 21st.  As well, the Delaware DOE will be giving their final comments on Friday, January 16th.

The Christina School Board will be having a meeting on January 7th to work on the priority schools plan some more at 7:00pm.  As well, the Christina Educators Association will be holding a press conference prior to the meeting at 6:30pm.

Other big meetings in January include the Delaware State Board of Education  meeting on January 15th.  This meeting could have a final decision on the fate of Family Foundations Academy in light of years of financial mismanagement and personal use of state funds, as highlighted this week in the well over 200 pages released by the Delaware DOE from the auditing firm of Auphsite Consulting.  The Delaware 148th Assembly begins their legislative year on January 13th, and there just may be some education fireworks that launch very quickly in the form of potential legislation submitted.

For those who haven’t signed the iPetition declaring their position against the priority schools initiative, please go to http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/lets-make-priority-schools-a-real-priority-2

The Delaware Battle For Public Education Is America’s War

Delaware Priority Schools Takeover

In the grand scheme of things, six schools in the 2nd smallest state in the country really doesn’t amount to anything.  But the six priority schools in Wilmington, Delaware could change the face of education.  It’s not about making the schools better for the students.  It’s about two forces colliding in a battle that’s been in the making for over a decade.

On one hand is Governor Markell and the Delaware Department of Education.  Their public claim is the students aren’t reading up to their grade level, their standardized test scores are atrocious, and the beefed up funding will bring the schools back up again.  On the other hand are the Christina and Red Clay Consolidated school districts.  While Red Clay has already signed their Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and submitted it to the Delaware Department of Education, Christina is holding out and will vote on their draft MOU at their next board meeting on January 7th.

Both school districts have vehemently and publicly opposed the priority school initiative.  The biggest demands, new principals at $160,000 a year and teachers must reapply for their jobs, has insulted and demeaned many individuals throughout Delaware.  Recent Freedom of Information Act requests have shown a collusion with the major media outlet in Delaware, The News Journal.  Meetings with the Delaware DOE have been cut short, and language from the Secretary of Education Mark Murphy to certain members of the public have been extremely rude.  Murphy refused to answer questions from the public at a Wilmington City Council meeting in October.  FOIA emails have also shown that event was largely planned by the Delaware DOE and the Governor’s office.

The methodology for the priority schools has been controversial since day one.  The DE DOE has focused on these six schools, all within a square mile of the Community Education Building designed to hold charter schools.  Bank of America donated this building to the state, and only two charter schools reside in the large building with another one slated to open in the Fall of 2015.  Prior turnaround schools, such as Booker T Elementary School in Dover and Eastside Charter School in Wilmington have been held up as the biggest gainers in test scores, but mitigating factors have contributed to those increases, whether it has been rezoning of a district or massive expulsions changing the student dynamic and decreasing the size of a class by more than half.

So why should America care about these six schools in a city that was just labeled Murdertown, USA?  Three words: Governor Jack Markell.  He has taken a very active interest in education in this first state to sign the constitution but the last to follow.  In fact, he was on the original committees for Common Core and he holds a very powerful position among US Governors when it comes to education.  Many view him as a lame duck, which he is in Delaware.  But nationally the man can continue the corporate education reform until 2020.

In 2012, there was talk about US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan possibly leaving his post, whether voluntary or by force.  There were two names lobbied as potential replacements: Michelle Rhee, the former chancellor of schools for Washington D.C., and Delaware Governor Jack Markell.  While Rhee has fallen from public favor, Markell is still seen by many in political circles as the new voice for education in America.  The election of 2016 will work in Markell’s favor no matter which way it goes.  If the President-elect is a Democrat, Markell could very well be picked as the new US Secretary of Education.  If the country decides for a radical change and puts a 3rd Bush in office, Markell will still be picked for this slot.  Jeb Bush is very high in the food chain for corporate education reform, and you can bet your bottom dollar Markell has been cozying up to the former Florida Governor.

It all comes down to the Christina School District Board of Education.  As one of four school districts in Wilmington, Christina has always been the thorn in the DOE’s side.  They are fighters, and they don’t take kindly to bullying by the state.  Their refusal to follow the demands of the state with the priority schools has already put a chink in Markell’s armor.  On October 29th, at the Rodel sponsored Vision Network conference, Markell gave a speech and publicly stated he would not hesitate to takeover these schools if it came down to it.  Many in the audience were shocked at Markell’s overexertion of executive power, including many out-of-state guests.

This is what you will see if Markell takes over these six schools and turns them into charter schools:

-A precedent will be set in Delaware, and the DOE will be able to use flawed methodology via standardized test scores to “prioritize” any school in the state and turn it into a charter school.

-The DOE is already working on plans to penalize defiant school districts and potentially lead to the creation of Priority School Districts, which could then result in all schools within that district being turned into charter schools.  If you don’t think this can happen, look at New Orleans and York, Pennsylvania as cities that have turned into charter school towns.

-More Teach For America, The New Teacher Project, and Relay Graduate School teachers invading Delaware schools like a Nazi Blitzkrieg out of World War II.  These are teachers who excel at teaching to the test and are groomed to become future leaders of schools, with minimal training and hands-on experience in classrooms.

-The eventual busting of the unions.  The education unions are among the most powerful in the country, and corporate education reformers have found a way to finally break them up.  While some see these unions as a major detriment to education, they are the last man standing in the complete slaughter of public school district education.

-Even more Common Core, for not only English and Math, but also Science and Social Studies.  This will result in even more standardized testing through PARCC and the Smarter Balanced Consortium.  The US DOE used “waivers” to manipulate and blackmail and bribe states into accepting their reforms.  If the school districts didn’t comply, they would be labeled as failing due to No Child Left Behind guidelines.  Every single one of these waivers benefit the exact blueprint Markell and Rodel CEO Paul Herdman helped to create ten years ago, which has resulted in the current landscape of Delaware education.

-As more lower paid teachers come into schools, it sets up Rodel and Markell to initiate their “personalized learning” agenda through a company called 2Revolutions, which will result in the elimination of hands-on instruction in the classroom and will turn students into complete virtual zombies.  This will give the students of the future more screen-time than ever.  When they aren’t looking at screens all day at school, they will go home and do homework on the screen.  When they aren’t focused on school, they will be on their iPads and Xbox.  This “personalized learning” plan has already stated schools would need to do away with extracurricular activities like sports and band, or plays and art clubs.

-Special needs children will suffer the most from this plan, and they will be put at the bottom of the barrel.  Arne Duncan has already put things in place that will eliminate the very heart of IDEA law.  Do not believe for one second that states want to narrow the proficiency gap between special education students and regular students.  They are using this data to make huge decisions with our schools.  They will sacrifice a few of their own beloved charter schools to make this point.  For every charter school that is closed, there are many more waiting in the wings.

-Minorities and low-income students will continue to be targeted and clumped together in charter schools with their own.  Segregation will become the de facto method for all of education.

-Who benefits from all public school students going to charter schools, doing all their work in front of a screen, eliminating the diverse choices students have in schools, and being tested like guinea pigs in high-stakes testing?  The companies that have backed all of this and the politicians who have set up the pieces on the board to allow it to happen.

Do parents and the current school districts have a choice anymore with what happens in education?  Of course they do.  It is not too late.  Stopping Markell in Delaware would send a clear message to these companies that would benefit off the backs of our children.  The time has come to stop rallying on Facebook on our state “Stop Common Core” pages and actually do something.  Every single state in America that is driving these agendas needs to be stopped.  Citizens need to start sending Freedom Of Information Act requests to their governors and state DOE.  They need to expose these charlatans for what they are.  This isn’t something that can be held off.  You can’t wait and see.  You have to take a stand if you are against this, and it needs to be done NOW.

If the little state of Delaware Governor Jack Markell is not held in check, he will most likely be the next US Secretary of Education and that means more of the same in education, with even more steps being taken to destroy what we have.  This nonsense would continue until January 2021 at the earliest, if not longer.  By then, all that public school district education has will be gone.  It will become a whisper, and hundreds of thousands of educators will disappear.  Markell is viewed by many in Delaware as a dictator, and if he is allowed to be set loose as the leader of education in America, all bets are off.

This is the future of education in America.  Don’t let anyone fool you.  Don’t let them say you are crazy.  The people telling you this are already in key positions that are allowing this to happen.  Once you enter this matrix world of corporate education reform, the connections these people have and the paths they take become very obvious.  They are all pieces of the puzzle that lead to the complete annihilation of education as we know it.

Right now, Delaware needs your help America.  We have formed a group called  Delaware Parents and Teachers for Public Education.  We have started a petition against the priority schools.  We need your voice.  We don’t just want 1,000 signatures.  We want a million.  We want to send a powerful message to those that want to dictate rather than collaborate.  So please, sign our petition.  It is not about Delaware.  It’s about freedom, and voice, and our children.  It’s about America.

Please go here to sign our petition: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/lets-make-priority-schools-a-real-priority-2