Rumors began circulating in the fall that Las Americas ASPIRA Academy would be submitting a major modification request to add high school grades. What I didn’t count on were the huge amount of fallacies and grandiose boasting within the application itself.
Las Americas Aspiras
Charter School Salaries Over $100,000: Freire, Las Americas ASPIRA, Positive Outcomes, and Thomas EdisonFreire Charter School, Las Americas Aspiras, Positive Outcomes Charter School, Thomas Edison Charter School
Three more charter schools. Two in New Castle County, one in Kent. One centers around Spanish language skills. Another is a special education theme. One originally began with a theme of zero tolerance with school discipline but changed its tune. One had a ruckus last fall when their school leader was placed on leave because he wanted more pay for teachers.
Colonial Superintendent Dusty Blakey Joins Board of Las Americas ASPIRAS Charter SchoolDusty Blakey, Las Americas Aspiras
Four months ago I asked if it is possible for a district Superintendent to join a charter school board. Not only is the answer yes, but Colonial Superintendent Dusty Blakey was nominated for the board of Las Americas ASPIRAS and accepted the nomination back in March. This is something new in Delaware, to the best of my knowledge. Former Superintendents have joined charter boards, but never an acting Superintendent.
Technically, Blakey is already on a school board. All Delaware Superintendents serve as the Secretary of their district Board of Education. I can’t help but feel this could be a potential conflict of interest. But I would hope Blakey wouldn’t put himself in a position where anything could be misconstrued as a conflict of interest. This is one board membership I will be keeping a close eye on in years to come. Especially when the audio recordings start coming out in August or September.
There is no trace of Blakey informing the Colonial board of this decision. I would think this would be something they should know about. But there was no reflection of this in their March or April board minutes. Colonial is widely rumored to be facing a referendum in the next year or two and I would encourage Blakey to be very transparent about his extra-curricular board activities.
In the meantime, you can catch Blakey as a guest bartender…
Can A Superintendent Of A School District Join A Charter School Board?Las Americas Aspiras
To my knowledge, this is a first. A New Castle County school district Superintendent has been nominated to join a charter school board. I know board members from a traditional school district are not able to join a charter school board, but I don’t believe there is anything in Delaware state code that would prevent a Superintendent from joining. With that being said, I believe this would be a HUGE conflict of interest for both the charter and the district.
Las Americas Aspiras Lies To Parents About Opt-Out & Federal Funding CutsLas Americas Aspiras, Parent Opt-Out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment
Unbelievable. Just when I thought I had seen it all. Las Americas Aspiras has never been on my radar for anything. Tonight I learned their Head of School, Margie Lopez Waite, is telling parents through their PTO organization the school would lose ALL federal funding if they don’t hit the 95% participation rate for the Smarter Balanced Assessment. This is a complete lie, and she knows it. Need proof? Here it is:
For parents of children who go to this school. If you want to opt your child out, go ahead and opt them out. 200,000 students opted out in New York last Spring. Do you know how much Federal funding got cut from those schools? Zero. Not one penny. Schools are obligated to make sure THEY do not opt kids out. There is absolutely nothing in the law that states parents cannot opt their child out. It is your Constitutional right. This is a bullying tactic by charter schools and certain school districts in Delaware. The DOE tried this last Spring, and I called them out on it. Governor Markell has tried this as well. Didn’t work then either. Now what a charter may lose if too many students opt-out is bragging rights. That’s right, your child has become not only a victim of standardized testing madness, but also bragging rights. Newark Charter School sent out an email within a day after the Smarter Balanced results came out about how great they are.
Delaware parents, especially those who have students in charters, a school cannot kick your child out if you opt them out. They cannot make your child take the test. Anything they do as a result is retaliation. Which you have many legal rights to protect you and your child. Let them say no. Let them tell you why you can’t opt your child out. But if you want your child to be opted out, do it. Stand your ground and educate other parents about their rights. As well, contact your legislators to override Governor Markell’s veto of House Bill 50 so our schools don’t spread lies like this and bully parents into having their kids take a test they don’t want their child taking.
This test has NO bearing whatsoever on your child. It is not counted for retention. A school cannot legally make your child go to summer school if you opt them out or your child does bad on it. They cannot make your child spend Spring Break on test prep. If they are telling you this, they are way out of line. Let your child be a child. Not a guinea pig. Let them enjoy their summer and Spring Break. They were designed for that purpose! But whatever you do, do not let ignorant school leaders tell you what you can and cannot do for your own child. Shame on them! They can and should know better. What message is that sending about your school leadership capabilities if you are blatantly lying to parents? REFUSE THE TEST!
Updated, 8:51pm: I just sent the following email to Margie Lopez-Waite at Las Americas Aspiras-
Opt-Out and Truth
From: Kevin Ohlandt <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: “email@example.com” <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: Tuesday, November 3, 2015 8:40 PM
Subject: Opt-Out and Truth