Penny Schwinn, the former Chief of Accountability at the Delaware Department of Education, is looking for a job in Massachusetts after a very controversial no-bid contract in Texas dealing with special education put her in the hot seat.
Schwinn serves as the Texas Education Association’s Deputy Commissioner of Academics. The Texas tribune reported in December that the TEA’s no-bid contract with SPEDx that cost the Lonestar State $2.2 million dollars. The purpose of the work done by SPEDx was to collect a huge amount of data on students with disabilities in the state. Advocates screamed foul and the contract ended. It also caused Texas to take a close look at no-bid contracts dealing with education. In Delaware, any contract over $50,000 must go out for bid. In Texas, it is $15,000. But Schwinn was instrumental in getting the contract. Now she is looking to leave Texas less than two years since she got the job, something an overwhelming amount of readers on this blog predicted.
In a pump and dump statement by the Education Commissioner’s office, they said the following:
In a statement Tuesday, TEA spokesperson DeEtta Culbertson said that Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath was aware Schwinn was being considered for the Massachusetts job and that Schwinn’s “professional background and leadership reflects a distinguished career committed to schoolchildren.”
“Penny Schwinn continues to do an outstanding job at the Texas Education Agency and would be a tremendous leader for the state of Massachusetts,” Culbertson said.
The survivors of Hurricane Schwinn in Delaware feel for Texans. Schwinn came to Delaware in the Spring of 2014. Right from the get-go, she caused controversy. At a State Board of Education meeting, during a discussion about crime and violence affecting students in Wilmington, Schwinn said that wasn’t “necessarily a hurdle to overcome”. After that, she embarked on a crazy Priority Schools agenda involving schools in the Christina and Red Clay Consolidated school districts. The plans called for new leaders and firing half the staff in their buildings. After teachers, parents, and advocates screamed bloody murder, the plans changed drastically. The promised state funding for the plan was not what was originally promised. Many feel that fiasco led to former Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy “resigning” from his post. In 2015, she led the horrible school report card creation which penalized schools for opt out numbers higher than 5%. Eventually, the Every Student Succeeds Act took care of that travesty. But by then, Schwinn flew off to Texas.
The ex-Broad fellows and Teach For America alumni continue to spread their not-so-magical woes from state to state. They leave their mark, do some damage, and leave when the going gets rough. And the cycle never ends. I hope Massachusetts doesn’t make the same mistakes Delaware and Texas did. Does Penny still own that charter school out in California?
For folks in Texas or Massachusetts who want to read more about Schwinn’s time in Delaware, please go here.