When freaky weather occurred on the date of their last State Board of Education meeting, Executive Director Jenna Ahner canceled the meeting which was to take place in Milford. As a result, all the agenda items from that meeting will be added to the already crowded December agenda. If you plan on attending the thing, this is going to be a long night! The mammoth agenda has a lot going on! Continue reading
A few days ago, I (rightly) guessed someone from the Rodel Foundation of Delaware would be taking over Donna Johnson’s old role as Executive Director for the Delaware State Board of Education. Today, on the State Board of Education website, this was confirmed. Jenna Ahner (formerly Bucsak) is the new Executive Director.
I knew it was going to be a female from Rodel and I would guess Ahner based on what she did at Rodel with education policy. I am willing to give her a chance and not pre-judge her because she worked for Rodel. While Rodel and I are miles apart on education policy, this is a new gig for Ahner and I respect that.
No sooner does Ahner take this job than Rodel puts out that they are hiring for a Policy Director on their website! They even took Ahner off their website. She was on there two days ago.
According to Ahner’s LinkedIn profile, she worked at Rodel from June, 2013 until the present. She began as a Graduate Research Assistant and, from there, went on to be a Program Officer and a Senior Program Officer. Prior to Rodel, Ahner worked at the University of Delaware from February, 2011 to June, 2013 as a Public Administration Fellow. She did take six months off from that job from January, 2012 to June, 2012 when she was a Legislative Fellow at the Delaware General Assembly.
I did send Ahner a congratulatory email for her new position.
We now have a complete State Board of Education again in Delaware. And yes, Mr. Wolgamot, you deserve a vacation!
This will not be good. It will be a backwards step for Delaware education.
This is entirely in the rumor stage, and I don’t even have a cold confirmation, but Donna Johnson’s replacement for Executive Director of the State Board of Education will be… Continue reading
The State Board of Education meeting was over in half an hour today.
With so many new members, it was short but sweet. The new members are new President Whitney Sweeney, former State Rep. Vince Lofink, and Candice Fifer. The agenda was very light today.
Former State Board Vice President Nina Lou Bunting nominated Dr. Audrey Noble to be the new Vice President. Board member Wali Rushdan seconded the nomination. The board voted and Noble was unanimously selected as their Vice President.
The board passed a DIAA regulation. The board got an update on DAPSS’ probation. The new members introduced themselves. Dr. Bunting introduced the new Deputy Secretary of Performance Support, Dr. Christine Alois. She also introduced the new Associate Secretary of Academic Support, Monica Gant. She is replacing Michael Watson, who left the DOE earlier this year. Bunting announced that her restructuring of the Delaware DOE is now complete.
At the end of the meeting, the State Board of Education announced they would be going into Executive Session to discuss personnel issues. The State Board of Education said they did have interviews for the Executive Director position and would be discussing that. Based on that discussion, they could be letting Secretary Bunting know their decision. At that point, the Human Resources Department of the Delaware DOE would be notified. So we don’t have an announcement on who is replacing Donna Johnson just yet!
I believe the agenda was kept to a minimum so the new board members could acclimate to the process. Whitney Sweeney did a good job in her new role as President. I did get to meet Fifer and Lofink before the meeting. I chatted with Lofink for a little bit. He is a funny guy!
Attendance at the meeting was very low. Aside from myself, a representative from DSEA, and some folks from the DOE, that was it. But this is how it usually is at State Board meetings in July. Next month they may go over the Smarter Balanced Assessment results and have some presentations, so attendance and the length of the meeting will pick up. And with seven charter schools up for renewal this year, I know their December meeting will be a long one!
Updated, 9:22pm: No, Dr. Susan Bunting and Nina Lou Bunting are NOT related. Bunting is like the last name “Smith” in Sussex County. Several people have asked me this recently.
For those who attend the monthly State Board of Education meetings, their meeting today will look very different. With new members, a new President, and soon, a new Executive Director, the State Board will soon become a travelling a road show! What is on the agenda today? Continue reading
Last weekend, I reported Governor Carney nominated three new State Board of Education members and also nominated existing member Dr. Audrey Noble for President of the board. Due to health reason, Noble asked to be withdrawn from consideration. Instead, one of the three new State Board members Carney nominated was confirmed as the President yesterday.
Whitney Townsend Sweeney is the new President of the State Board of Education. As I reported the other day, Sweeney is an Investment Director at Schroders. She is a University of Delaware graduate and served on the Delaware Financial Literacy Institute. I don’t see much in terms of education background with Sweeney based on her LinkedIn profile. This will be interesting to see.
She will replace outgoing State Board President Dr. Dennis Loftus who resigned this month. As well, the two other nominees were confirmed by the Delaware Senate yesterday. They are former State Rep. Vincent Lofink and Candice Fifer. I look forward to meeting all three.
The General Assembly website does not indicate when Noble’s nomination for State Board President was withdrawn but shows it was introduced on 6/22/2018.
Governor Carney presented three nominations for the State Board of Education on Friday. And another State Board member has been nominated to replace Dr. Dennis Loftus as the President of the board. Who are the nominees? One of them is a former legislator! Continue reading
How did I miss this one? It was filed last week! Not only would this add two new members to the State Board of Education but could also make the State Board of Education a wandering event!
House Bill #455, filed last week by State Rep. Stephanie Bolden and Senator Jack Walsh, comes from the Joint Legislative Oversight and Sunset Committee. The two new members would be non-voting but it could certainly create lively conversation at these meetings! It also gives clarity around who the Executive Director reports to and who their employer would be. The legislation calls for the State Board of Ed to meet in the three different counties which would, by default, cause Delaware Dept. of Education employees to travel with them. Very interesting bill.
This Act fulfills recommendations made by the Joint Legislative Oversight and Sunset Committee by doing the following: (1) Establishing 2 new, nonvoting members to serve on the State Board of Education (“Board”). The new members are a former Delaware Teacher of the Year and a Delaware 11th or 12th grade student. (2) Defining the duties of the Board’s Executive Director. (3) Clarifying that the Executive Director is selected by the Board; is an employee of the Department of Education, subject to all of the Department’s employment policies and procedures; but serves at the pleasure of the Board. (4) Requiring the Board to rotate its meetings among the 3 counties of this State in such a way to facilitate parents’, teachers’, and other community members’ attendance. (5) Establishing the circumstances under which a Board member may be removed, using language standard to boards and commissions in this State. (6) Requiring the Board to permit public comment on each agenda item prior to voting on the item and in proximity to the time at which the Board discusses the item. An exception is provided if, under Delaware law or Department or Board rules, the item has a formal comment period or a process for making a record in an administrative matter that has closed before the Board’s discussion of the agenda item. Examples of matters that qualify for the exception include charter school applications or formal reviews, amendments to Department of Education and Professional Standards Board regulations, and student appeals. The intent of the exception is to exclude Board actions that are quasi-judicial in nature and therefore not appropriate to open to public comment. This Act also corrects 2 internal references and makes other technical corrections to conform existing law to the standards of the Delaware Legislative Drafting Manual.
To read the actual legal language of the bill, go here: House Bill 455
As I reported earlier today, Governor Carney will have three nominations for the Delaware Senate to confirm by June 30th which would restore the State Board of Education to their seven members after some unexpected resignations in the past couple of months. I still think ALL members of the State Board of Education should be publicly elected.
The State Board of Education still has four members. Which is their quorum amount. Governor Carney, with ten days left in the 149th General Assembly, has not put forth ANY nominations for replacements. Delaware State Code mandates four members on the State Board. If Carney does not put forth nominations until after the General Assembly goes into recess from July 1st until mid-January 2019, he could order the Delaware Senate back into session to confirm nominations. That isn’t unusual but typically doesn’t happen until October when it does occur. Which means our State Board of Education is operating at a bare minimum for the next four months. Which means if just one member doesn’t attend a meeting they can not take action on any item, even approving their minutes.
I have an extreme issue with keeping this body at four members. Any regulation or appeal the State Board hears would only have four members voting. One no-show could shut something down very fast. It is a recipe for disaster. Simply put, they cannot operate the way they are supposed to. As an example, what happens if Secretary of Education Susan Bunting decided to put a charter school on formal review for some reason? The State Board would have to vote on that. Is four members enough to give that conversation the full weight for a matter that serious? There is a reason there are seven members.
I was told by Jon Sheehan, Governor Carney’s Education Policy Advisor, the State Board of Education would be restored by June 30th. So where are the nominations? Since there are none today, that leaves one last Senate Executive Committee meeting to do this, which would be next Wednesday. At that point it is the last week of the General Assembly. I would worry about the quality of the nominations if it is rushed at the last-minute.
Two weeks ago, the Joint Sunset Committee released the State Board of Education from Sunset review. The only unanswered question is who the State Board’s Executive Director will report to- the State Board, the Delaware Department of Education, or a hybrid of both. Meanwhile, the deadline for applicants to replace Donna Johnson expired June 9th. Which means someone will most likely get that job soon. But will there even be a functional State Board of Education for them to direct?
I still feel as though the State Board of Education should be elected by the people. Having a Governor hand-pick who he wants on the State Board of Education all but ensures people will get picked who would follow his agendas. It is something our legislators could change but nobody wants to tick off the Governor. Many of them agree but lack the stones to actually do it. I say have an elected State Board of Education and get rid of “Secretary-only Regulations”. Those are the ones, like Regulation 225, that the State Board of Education does not vote on. Which is preposterous in my opinion.
Updated, 3:37pm: I spoke with Jon Sheehan a short time ago who assured me that three nominations will be introduced next week and he anticipates a full State Board of Education by June 30th.
A year ago, Governor Carney nominated Dr. Dennis Loftus to take over as State Board of Education President. Replacing Dr. Teri Quinn Gray, Loftus served in the role for a year. At the end of this month, sources tell me Dr. Loftus is resigning from the position.
No nomination for his replacement has been announced at this point. As well, even though Donna Johnson officially resigned a couple of weeks ago, no replacement has been announced for the Executive Director role for the State Board of Education. The State Board is still going through sunset review with that committee at Legislative Hall.
The State Board underwent many changes in the past year with four new members (including Loftus) and a now vacant role of Executive Director. It doesn’t look like that facelift is going to stop any time soon with the resignations of their Board President and their Executive Director. The State Board of Education is a different entity than the Delaware Department of Education. Any State Board members would be nominated by the Governor and then have to go through a confirmation process with the Delaware Senate. The only exception to that rule is the President which is picked solely by the Governor but there is no designated term for that role and serves at the pleasure of the Governor. In addition, the State Board themselves would pick a new Executive Director.
What is the reason for this massive amount of turnover? In January long-time board member Pat Heffernan resigned unexpectedly after an explosive board meeting about the diploma bill. Heffernan was deeply opposed to the legislation which would do away with certificates of performance or attendance for the most severe cognitively-challenged students. Governor Carney signed the bill last month. Other new members came about through prior board members ending their term. But to have the President of the State Board resign after less than a year says something!
Either I fell asleep at the wheel or this happened very fast, but the Delaware State Board of Education has a new board member. This new person replaces State Board member Patrick Heffernan. Continue reading
Aside from the controversial Special Education Strategic Plan presentation and Delaware Academy of Public Safety & Security going under formal review, what else happened at the January State Board of Education meeting? This is what goes out to legislators and all those important education folks in the state!
January State Board Meeting Highlights
The State Board of Education held its Regular Monthly Board Meeting on Thursday, January 18, 2018 at 5:00 p.m.
All materials and presentations from the meeting can be accessed on the online meeting platform posted within each month’s agenda as posted on our website (www.destateboarded.k12.de.us ).
- Here is a direct link to the agenda complete with links and attached documents related to presentations and other items before the Board: SBE Monthly Meeting Agenda
The audio recording from the meeting is now posted on the State Board website. An index of the recording with live links by section is copied below.
· Board President, Dr. Dennis Loftus, discussed his attendance at the Governor’s State of the State address earlier in the day and provided a recap of the key points involving education. The Executive Director presented her report which included discussion of the latest publication by NASBE which focuses on Early Learning. A link to the publication as well as a few other articles regarding accountability plans across all 50 states according to ESSA plans and an interesting approach to chronic absenteeism. Her posted report called “News Updates and Information” is provided monthly. There will soon be a link added to the home page for easier access to these reports and local and national articles related to education issues which are provided for review by the Board and public. Ms. Johnson then updated the Board on the work related to the Literacy Campaign and highlighted the upcoming meetings for the steering committee and subcommittees of the Campaign for Grade Level Reading.
· Secretary Bunting provided a comprehensive report to the Board which included details about several school visits and opportunities to engage with members of the business community and other policy leaders, meetings with school administrators, educators, and students in which she had been involved throughout the month. These visits included meeting with the School District Consolidation Task Force Academic and Student Needs Committee where they discussed the state’s EL Strategic Plan. She also had the opportunity to recognize the outstanding achievement of 4 schools for Continued Excellence and identified 15 as Recognition Schools. Recognition Schools receive a banner to display in their school as well as $8,000 to further advance learning at their schools. She highlighted her involvement at the P-20 Council, Governor’s Cabinet meeting, Family Service Council, and the G.E.A.R meeting.
· The Board received a presentation from the 2018 DE State Teacher of the Year, Virginia Forcucci. Following her presentation and discussion with the Board they honored her with the SBE Award of Excellence.
· The Board received a presentation on the Special Education Strategic Plan from the co-chairs of the Special Education Strategic Plan Advisory Council, Dr. Michele Marinucci and Bill Doolittle. Board members discussed the development of the plan and asked questions regarding the goals and metrics within the plan. Additional information and resources from the presentation were provided on the agenda page for this item.
· Department Regulations
o Regulation 925: Children with Disabilities Subpart D, Evaluations, Eligibility Determination, Individualized Education Programs was presented for final action. There was discussion regarding the comments received from the GACEC and Statewide Disabilities Council as well as the fact that this change was only addressing one aspect of the regulation to align with federal requirements. The Board was informed that a broader group of stakeholders are currently working on revisions to further update the rest of the regulation and that this regulation may be before them again with more comprehensive changes in the near future. A motion to approve the regulation as presented for final order was made by Mrs. Rutt and seconded by Dr. Whittaker. The motion passed unanimously by voice vote with one abstention (Mr. Rushdan, who was just confirmed to the Board the prior day and not a part of the prior month’s discussion of the regulation).
o Regulation 501: State Content standards was presented for final action. The amendments included the addition of statewide K-12 Financial Literacy and Computer Science standards. The public comment received as well as feedback received through the community engagement sessions held by the Department was shared with the Board. There was discussion regarding the date in regulation for adoption and how that was different from the full implementation date of these standards to be integrated and aligned with curriculum. It was explained that the date in regulation is the date that the standards would officially become the state content standards and that the implementation of those standards into professional development for teachers and integrated and aligned with curriculum would follow a similar timeline trajectory has was used for the Next Generation Science standards. A motion to approve the regulation as presented for final order was made by Mr. Heffernan and seconded by Mrs. Rutt. The motion passed unanimously by voice vote with one abstention (Mr. Rushdan, who was just confirmed to the Board the prior day and not a part of the prior month’s discussion of the regulation).
o Following the approval of Regulation 501, the Board took a moment to thank Mr. Michael Watson, Chief Academic Officer, for his many contributions to improving education for children in the state of Delaware. It had been announced the prior month that this would be his final State Board meeting before leaving the department. The Board recognized him for his service and awarded him the State Board’s Award of Excellence.
o Regulation 1008 DIAA Junior High and Middle School Interscholastic Athletics and Regulation 1009 DIAA High School Interscholastic Athletics were presented to the Board for discussion. These regulations are out for comment during the month of January and will be back before the Board in February for final action. The DIAA Executive Director and legal counsel addressed questions from the Board members regarding the proposed changes which dealt with Officials organizations and Foreign Exchange and International Students’ eligibility.
· The Board received public comment from two individuals commending them on the decision to approve regulation 501 and adopt statewide Computer Science standards for Delaware.
· John Carwell, from the Charter School Office, presented the Department’s request to place Delaware Academy of Public Safety and Security on formal review.
o At the December 18, 2014 meeting of the State Board of Education, the charter for DAPSS was renewed with the following conditions:
§ 1. The school shall attain a rating of “Meets Standard” on the Academic Framework for the 2014-15 school year; and
§ 2. The school shall attain a rating of “Meets Standard” on the Financial Framework for the 2014-15 school year.
o In SY 2014/2015 Delaware implemented a new system of accountability known as the Delaware School Success Framework (DSSF) and was permitted by the U.S. Department of Education to use this school year as the year from which to measure academic achievement and progress. Due to this waiver, DAPSS was provided an additional year to satisfy its conditions.
o In SY 2015/2016, Delaware changed the academic assessment for high schools from Smarter Balanced to SAT. Due to this change in academic assessment, DAPSS was provided an additional year to satisfy its conditions.
o In SY 2016/2017, DAPSS failed to meet academic standards in three of the four DSSF metrics and showed a decline in both academic achievement and academic growth.
o As for financial standards, in SY 2014/2015, SY 2015/2016, and SY 2016/2017, DAPSS failed to meet financial standards.
o In 2015-2016, DAPSS was approved for a modification to decrease enrollment. Despite this decrease, the school did not meet the 80% requirement for enrollment by May 1st for SY 2017-2018 enrolling only 77% of its projected population. As of September 30, 2017, DAPSS enrolled 228 of their projected 340 students or 67% of their approved enrollment. Since September 30, 2017, DAPSS’s enrollment has again declined. The school currently has 217 students enrolled.
o This is the third year that the school has shown a decline in enrollment going from 303 students in SY 2015/2016 to 217 students SY2017/2018. With a 2018 graduating class of 47 students, 49 choice applications, and one withdrawal at the time of this report, it is doubtful that DAPSS will meet the Financial Framework standard this school year.
o After considering these potential violations of its charter, the Department as approving authority, has determined that DAPSS should be submitted to formal review to determine whether the school is violating its charter and whether there are grounds for remedial measures. The Department is seeking the assent of the Secretary and the State Board for this action.
· The Secretary of Education following this outline of performance and concerns regarding the compliance with their charter stated, “Delaware Academy of Public Safety and Security appears to have failed to meet the conditions of its charter renewal and should have the opportunity for a rigorous review of the school performance. Therefore, as Secretary of Education, I assent to placing Delaware Academy of Public Safety and Security on formal review. In accordance with 14 Delaware Code Section 511(c), I seek the assent of the State Board of Education to the decision to place Delaware Academy of Public Safety and Security on formal review.”
· Dr. Loftus asked for a motion to assent to the formal review of the charter for Delaware Academy of Public Safety and Security. The motion was made by Mrs. Sorenson and seconded by Mr. Heffernan. After discussion of the Board which involved discussing the process that is included during formal review the motion passed unanimously by voice vote.
· The charter office also provided in its monthly update, which was posted on the SBE website for information a timeline for the review of the new application received to open a new charter school in Sussex county called Sussex Montessori as well as the major modification requested for Design Lab HS. The links to all of these were provided in the agenda item online.
· The Professional Standards Board had no items to bring before the SBE this month since their January meeting was cancelled due to snow.
· The Board had no one signed up for general public comment
· The Board received an update from its Deputy Attorney General regarding two appeal requests that have had their hearing and are currently in the time window in which either party is able to submit responses to the hearing officer’s recommendation. Both of those appeals will come before the Board for action at the February meeting.
The next regular monthly meeting of the State Board is scheduled for
Thursday, February 15, 2018
The meeting will begin at 4:00 p.m. and the Board will enter Executive Session to discuss two disciplinary appeals and then will return to general session at 5:00pm
January 18, 2018 – Delaware State Board of Education Audio Recordings
The Delaware State Board of Education has a vacancy! Board member Gregory Coverdale resigned before the November State Board meeting and it was announced by President Dennis Loftus at the meeting. His term expired prior to that but he decided to continue his seat until a replacement was found. Coverdale was unable to continue serving due to work commitments. Chances are good Governor John Carney will wait until the new year to nominate Coverdale’s replacement. The 149th General Assembly returns in mid-January.
The State Board of Ed has their next meeting on December 14th, at 5pm. The big news will be the charter school renewal-palooza with five schools awaiting the big decision. Public comment on those renewals ended today. Academia Antonia Alonso, Early College High School, First State Montessori Academy, Sussex Academy, and Thomas Edison Charter School are all up for renewal. Delaware Secretary of Education will announce her recommendation for each school and then the State Board will vote on each school.
Other items on the agenda for the State Board meeting include an update on the State Board’s Literacy Campaign, a presentation on the DPAS Annual Report, a Regulation dealing with matching Delaware state code with Federal Law concerning visually impaired students, a Regulation about Financial Literacy and Computer Science standards, a few Regulations from the Professional Standards Board on teacher licensure, and a couple of information items about appeals between students and the Smyrna School District.
What is NOT on the agenda is Regulation 225. For those who don’t know, the Regulation received 11,000 comments which will take some time for Secretary Bunting to review. She did thank all who submitted public comment. This information appeared on the agenda for the meeting on Thursday concerning Regulation 225:
The public comment period for proposed 225 Prohibition of Discrimination Regulation closed on December 4, 2017. The Department received more than 11,000 comments, which deserve careful review before a decision is made. Secretary Bunting is asking the Development Team to reconvene in January to review the comments and make recommendations for changes to the regulation. If substantive changes are made, the regulation will be published in the Register again with another 30-day public comment period before any decision on a final regulation is made.
Secretary Bunting thanks, those who shared their feedback during the formal comment period. All comments received will be posted online so the public, as well as committee members, can review them prior to the January Development Team meeting.
I expect a full house with the charter renewals so if you plan on attending I would get there early! Good luck to Greg Coverdale in his future endeavors!
Yeah, the State Board of Education isn’t going anywhere. Delaware Governor John Carney nominated the next person and this nomination is being considered by the Senate Executive Committee tomorrow. Who is it? Continue reading
Last month, I reported the Delaware State Board of Education was done. The Delaware Joint Finance Committee took their funding away from them. Many assumed they were toast. We were wrong. It appears the Delaware Department of Education will pick up the tab. So there will be more State Board of Education meetings in the future. And there is big news on that front as well. Starting in July, their meetings will begin at 5pm. Which means, you know, teachers and educators and working parents can actually go to these meetings. As well, they will have public comment before each action item (except those which have a formal public comment period, such as charter school stuff and regulations). Unless the Joint Finance Committee or the legislators deny the funding to DOE to do this.
So what happened? The changes to Delaware Title 14 would be monstrous. They would have to change up a lot of things. While some thought things could change in the epilogue language of the state budget (which I oppose in and of itself), it is not an option. New laws would have to come out granting the authority to the Delaware DOE. While those could happen, it would be a headache and a half to get them in play between now and June 30th.
There was talk during the Joint Sunset Review meetings about the State Board taking on one or two new members. With that being said, and probably because of all the confusion surrounding if they should even exist, Delaware Governor John Carney never nominated anyone to take Jorge Melendez’ place on the board. So there could be changes to the membership. I am hoping for some folks with more resistance to the Rodel way of thinking. I haven’t heard anything about Donna Johnson going anywhere. The Executive Director role is chosen by the State Board of Education President which is currently Dr. Teri Quinn Gray. She was appointed by former Governor Jack Markell.
The State Board of Education is still under Sunset Review by that legislative committee. Prior to the announcement about their funding, the committee agreed to hold them over until next year.
The Delaware Joint Legislative Oversight and Sunset Committee voted today not to Sunset the Delaware State Board of Education. Sunset would have shut down the board. I will write more details later since I arrived late for the meeting due to a prior commitment. As for the State Board’s Executive Director, Donna Johnson, the board voted for option one in regards to her role: The Board will present to the Committee a revised Executive Director job description to better align with the Board’s duties.
Issues surrounding public comment got a bit of discussion. The JLOSC voted unanimously that the State Board of Education shall allow public comment before each action item but with an amendment. Public comment may not be allowed during action items that have a pre-established and finite public comment period, such as regulations and charter school issues. The reason for this is because state code allows for this. Newly christened Senator Stephanie Hansen said during county council meetings in Sussex and New Castle Counties they allow for this because sometimes the public comment could affect a decision by the Council. State Board member Pat Heffernan said they are bound by the Delaware State Code. In my eyes, that is legislation begging for change as soon as humanly possible. The Committee agreed that information shall be sent to public libraries and schools with meeting information about the State Board of Education. A matter surrounding charter school approval and local impact was tabled so the State Board of Ed can give more clarifying information about their role on this matter.
I did not anticipate the JLOSC would shut down the State Board of Education. I surmised some items would pass and some wouldn’t. Without an apparatus in place to replace them it would be tough to figure out who should pass regulations. Once again, legislation could take care of a lot of the issues surrounding them. In a poll I put up the other day, over 70% of readers felt the State Board should shut down permanently. I write this with the caveat that my readership tends to align with what I believe more and the poll only had over a 100 voters.
We can do it better ourselves but we won’t tell them that.
The Delaware State Board of Education could be shut down as of Tuesday. They face the Delaware Joint Legislative Overview and Sunset Committee. The State Board was put under review by the committee last year after some very rough years under former Governor Jack Markell. Many of the complaints circulate around their Executive Director, Donna Johnson. As well, many citizens and education organizations in the state feel the State Board has outlived their usefulness and just seem to perpetuate agendas brought forth by corporate education reform organizations such as the Rodel Foundation of Delaware and the Delaware Charter Schools Network. I wrote about their last meeting with the committee over a month ago. But I was able to be the sole attendee at a meeting yesterday where the State Board discussed their final meeting with the Sunset Committee and boy was it a doozy! Continue reading
The Delaware State Board of Education has always been ridiculous with their public comment policy. You cannot give public comment on any action item on their agenda. Further complicating this absolutely ludicrous scenario is a proposed change which will be up for action at their next meeting, on Thursday March 23rd. The State Board of Education will take action on moving public comment from the beginning of the meeting until towards the end. Thereby ensuring that the public is put on the bottom of the list. There are certain groups that put public comment at the end of meetings, but the State Board of Education needs to hear from the public prior to voting or discussing items. The very nature of attempting to contact a member of the State Board of Education is futile. Everything goes through the Executive Director, Donna Johnson. The State Board of Education will be having a meeting tomorrow at 12 noon to discuss the policy recommendations from the Joint Sunset Committee, a group of legislators who are taking a hard look at the State Board of Education.
As far as this latest action item, I am vehemently against this. The State Board meetings are very long at times and to make members of the public sit through the whole thing just to give public comment is absurd. I hope the State Board votes no on this insane idea.
The State Board does not hear or receive official complaints.
As the Delaware State Board of Education goes through their sunset review with the Delaware Sunset Committee, it has become more clear than ever this is a state agency in need of massive change.
After board member Jorge Melendez resigned last fall, the Delaware State Board of Education still has six members on their seven seat roster. Three weeks into Governor Carney’s four-year term, there has been no nomination for Melendez’ replacement.
My concern is what happens if the State Board of Education votes on an action item which results in a tie vote. Who breaks that stalemate? How long will Carney wait to choose a replacement? As well, the Governor has the authority to replace the existing State Board of Education President with Senate confirmation. Will Carney do this which has been a typical thing in the past?
At present, the Delaware State Board of Education is under Joint Sunset Review by Delaware legislators. Donna Johnson, the Executive Director of the State Board, submitted a very lengthy questionnaire to the committee last October. Johnson provided an extensive and very thorough history of the State Board of Education which included items I had no clue about. Included in the document is a list of Delaware Attorney General opinions that affect the agency. There have been 21 such opinions dating back to 1996 with an average of one per year. Eight Executive Orders, all issued for former Delaware Governor Jack Markell, had an impact on the State Board as well. There is one section that talks about bringing the former Delaware Teacher of the Year on the board as a non-voting member. Donna Johnson’s role was changed in 2010 from Policy Analyst to Executive Director. Aside from her, the only other staff is an administrative assistant through the Delaware Dept. of Education (awesome lady by the way, Dani Moore). Donna Johnson’s performance review is also included in the below document, but there is no indication of who approved this review aside from the State Board of Education in 2015. I do not recall seeing this performance review on a State Board of Education agenda, but that may not be required under Delaware code or perhaps I missed it. The most shocking part of this document exists towards the end. The State Board of Education does not receive or recognize complaints about their own agency. Perhaps this is why they are often perceived as a state agency that acts with an air of impunity and infallibility. I believe that needs to change.