Guest Post: “Who’s In Charge Of DAP?”

Elizabeth Scheinberg wrote a guest post on the recent revelation that the Delaware Department of Education would be taking over the administration of the Delaware Autism Program.  Like many of us, she has many questions that beg answers! Continue reading

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Guest Post: Rodel Article On Absenteeism Absent Of Facts

The Bygone Blogger is back!  Thanks to Bygone for tackling an overlooked topic on this blog, that of school absenteeism.  Bygone dissected a recent Rodel article on the subject and man oh man did they! Continue reading

Why Governor Carney’s $60 Million Plan Will Fail & Why Opt Out Is More Important Than Ever

Delaware State News said everything you need to know about Delaware Governor Carney’s plan to use $60 million dollars and why parents hold the key to stopping this madness: Continue reading

Autism Delaware Gives Clarification On DAP Situation

Autism Delaware released a fact sheet today on the debacle involving the Delaware Department of Education, Christina School District, the Office of Management and Budget, and Governor Carney’s office.  This should answer many questions folks are having based on the Delaware Public Media article as well as my own last night.

If this is how it was supposed to happen, someone dropped the ball big time.  A lot of fingers can be pointed at Christina Superintendent Richard Gregg for failing to notify the district’s Board of Education (which is the governing body for the district and hired him in the first place).  As well, Governor Carney’s administration goofed big time by not putting certain funding for training personnel in their FY2020 budget proposal.  A lot of this comes down to communication.  We live in the 21st Century where communication is instant.  This kind of stuff shouldn’t happen!

State Rep. Kim Williams wrote the following on Facebook today:

OMB, Controller’s Office and DOE are setting up a meeting with Christina next week. The schools are not changing anything, they will still report to their current district. Teachers and staff will not be affected by any of this. They need to hire the two specialists and those specialists need to report to someone. They need to hire someone to oversee the specialists and the statewide program. The meeting this week will work all those details out.

Thanks to Autism Delaware for getting some facts out on this matter!

2,000,000 And Beyond

Exceptional Delaware hit 2,000,000 hits this morning.  I predicted this would happen in early February.  I’m still proud of this little blog even though I don’t post with the regularity I used to.  A full-time Monday to Friday job will do that.

4,210 posts.  2,969 loyal followers.  9,710 comments.  Countless Facebook and Twitter conversations.  Many new friends.  Years of sweat and blood.  Trying to do the right thing for kids.  Fighting the fight.  Going through the motions of life.  How much is enough?  Am I doing enough?  It took years to find a balance.  It’s been a journey.

When I hit my first million in November of 2016, my life was completely different from how it is now.  I have to wonder if it will make it to three million and what my life will look like at that point in time.

Thanks for coming here.  This blog would be nothing without readers.  Whether we agree or not on things, I’ve always done my best to shed light where there was none.  It became more political over the years but that is, in large part, because politics and education have become so entwined.  Faces come and go in the education world.  Some remain.  Education is never going to be perfect.  But we need to be better and that starts with the adults in charge.

State Steals Autism Program From Christina, Students Future In Jeopardy

The State of Delaware stole the Delaware Autism Program from the Christina School District when no one was looking.  With an almost imaginary and very vague loophole in recent legislation, the Delaware Department of Education is now in charge of DAP.  But not so fast… Continue reading

Delaware Joint Finance Committee Week One Update

The Delaware Joint Finance Committee is in full swing this month!  As different state agencies give their presentations for the FY2020 state budget for Delaware, the legislators on the committee have to make some big decisions between now and June 30th.  Alexandra Sparco, the legislative aide for the JFC Chair Quinton Johnson, gave an overview of what’s been going on in the public hearings for the first week.  I hope to get these for all the presentations as they give an excellent overview of what different state agencies are looking to carry out in the next fiscal year. Continue reading

DSEA Gives Strong Public Comment To Delaware Joint Finance Committee

The Delaware Joint Finance Committee listened to the Delaware Department of Education present their FY2020 budget presentation today.  The Delaware State Education Association made their public comment open to the public today.  Given by DSEA’s Director of Legislation, Kristin Dwyer, the public comment hit home on some areas.  In particular, the very heavy lift we are asking of our educators.  It is more apparent than ever that teachers can’t do it alone. Continue reading

Red Clay Superintendent Race Down To Two

Who will be the new Red Clay Consolidated School District Superintendent?  It is down to two men.  One will lead them after the Red Clay board makes a vote in the coming months.  One comes from the district while the other comes from a powerful position in the state.

Hugh Broomall is the Deputy Superintendent for Red Clay.  Holding the role since 2010, his experience with the district stretches back to 2004.  Broomall began his education career as a special education teacher at the Au Clair school in 1993.  Two years later he went to the Terry Children’s Center as a special education teacher from 1995 to 2002.  Broomall took on a leadership role as the Assistant Principal at the Charlton School in the Caesar Rodney School District from 2002 to 2004.  He came to Red Clay in 2004 as the Principal of the Meadowood Program.  Broomall plunged into district work, first as the Manager of Human Resources from 2008-2009 and then as Assistant Superintendent from 2009-2010.

Broomall describes his current role as follows:

Manage a $148 million portfolio of educational programs and
services reaching 18,000 students from pre-k to post-high school.
Oversee 1,900 employees and 30 schools including traditional
elementary and secondary schools, special education, magnets,
charters and adult education.
Administer over 2/3 of the district’s operating budget with
responsibility for state and federal funding streams (Title I, Title II,
Title III), IDEA, Perkins, Race to the Top, Tuition-Based Programs,
Match Tax, school budgets and department budgets.
Served on core planning team for a successful $119 million capital
referendum. Authored the district’s strategic plan. Established a
school improvement office that has turned around 2 persistently
low-achieving schools in just 2 years. Acted as interim director of
the Curriculum & Instruction department for 8 months.

Broomall’s summary on LinkedIn says:

As an educational leader with over 21 years of experience in Delaware as a teacher, a building principal and today, a district leader, I understand the challenges to moving student achievement forward while also navigating the state’s complex education system, adjusting to changes in resources, and engaging the community in an effort to be an innovative school system that delivers academic excellence to all students.

Dorrell Green is the current Director of Innovation and Improvement for the Delaware Department of Education, a role he has held since August 2017.  He began his career as a 6th grade teacher at Bancroft Elementary in the Christina School District in 2000.  From there he spent a year as a 4th grade teacher at Stubbs.  Green began his leadership leader as the Dean of Students at Stubbs for two years until 2004.  The next four years were spent at Bayard Elementary School as Assistant Principal from 2004-2006 and Principal from 2006-2008.  From there he moved to Brandywine as Principal of Harlan Elementary School for three and a half years until he took on the role of Director of Elementary Education and Federal Title I Programs at a district level in 2011.  That role catapulted Green to the Assistant Superintendent position which he served as until his appointment with the Delaware DOE.

Green describes his current role as:

Support School Improvement Efforts via priority schools initiative and Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

Coordinate implementation of best practices that are proven to support school improvement efforts; research based best practices that are being implemented locally, statewide, regionally and when necessary national models that demonstrate outcome oriented success for urban education.

Convene districts, school leaders and community partners to support schools and families.

Supporting Compassionate Connections and Trauma-Informed Learning/Teaching

Which one will lead Red Clay?  Time will tell.  The board will vote on February 13th!

Delaware 105.9 Reporter Rob Petree Sworn In As Kathy McGuiness’ Executive Assistant

I wasn’t expecting this!  Rob Petree, a now former reporter for Delaware 105.9, is the new Executive Assistant for Delaware State Auditor Kathy McGuiness.  I find this to be a very interesting choice on McGuiness’ part.  I am not against this choice either.

Petree is a good guy and, as a reporter for 105.9, he wasn’t afraid to go after folks and get the real story.  We need more of that in Delaware and I’ll miss Petree’s reporting.  I have no doubt he will do a great job with McGuiness.  That office has been very quiet and I’m curious to see what comes out of it in the coming months and years.  But hiring a reporter as your Executive Assistant lends credibility to her campaign promise to bring more transparency to that office.

Petree wrote the following on his Facebook account today:

I am excited to announce that I have officially been sworn in as the Executive Assistant for Delaware State Auditor Kathy McGuiness!

 

Rodel Embarks On Their “Lipstick On A Pig” Rebranding Tour

The Rodel Foundation of Delaware has a new name.  They are now called Rodel.  This landmark rebranding effort comes to you from Rodel.  It is the 20th Anniversary since the Budingers sold their business to Germany and decided to launch an education reform non-profit company destined to jack up Delaware education for all time.  In honor of this infamous anniversary, it is time to talk about what Rodel is up to and what their goals and agendas are really about.

I’ve been writing about Rodel for four and a half years.  But the complete and utter crap I saw from them in the past couple of weeks is the height of arrogance.  They have been pimping their snake-oil for 20 years but they are now reaching the height of their power.  As an example, Rodel seems to think they are the sole force in the creation of Delaware charter schools.  If you ever doubted the complete farce Rodel really is, this screenshot from their rebranded website should cast those doubts aside: Continue reading

Ron Russo’s BOLD Plan Regurgitates Old Plans And The Worst Ideas Ever In Delaware Education

Ron Russo, the former Head of School at the Charter School of Wilmington, launched The BOLD Plan today on Facebook.  Using the tag “Education is a business”, Russo managed to take the most horrible ideas ever from the past three decades and put them into a single pile of absolute garbage.  While I don’t think this plan will go anywhere, it is symptomatic of the very same corporate education reform think tank crap that has proliferated American public education and turned Delaware’s school system into a very bad joke. The whole plan can be read below. Continue reading

The Latest Basic Special Education Funding Bill Really Ticks Me Off!!!

Okay, that wasn’t the headline you ever expected to come out of me on here!  There is a distinct reason why this bill bothers me so much.  House Bill #48 came out on Thursday and like all the other bills from past legislative sessions, it asks for the full allotment of state funding for students labeled as Basic Special Education in Kindergarten to 3rd Grade in Delaware’s public schools.  So what is it about this bill that gives me pause?

It is the fact this is the third time State Rep. Kim Williams has brought this bill forward.  It came out four years ago for the first time in the 148th General Assembly.  It should have been a no-brainer.  It got out of committee but it was never heard on the floor of the House.  In the last session, the 149th, it came out but it morphed into a part of the state budget which offered part of the funding for it.

When Governor Carney announced his weighted funding plan a week and a half ago he did not include this in his proposal.  While I am all for equitable funding, the basic special education funding should have been utilized years ago when the unit-based funding formula changed during Governor Markell’s first term.  The fact we have the same bill in a third legislative session really ticks me off.  While I greatly appreciate the partial funding that was granted last year it is appalling to me that the state will not grant the full funding in this area.

If the Delaware DOE can demand students with disabilities reach certain proficiency levels on horrible and flawed state assessments than they damn well better give the full funding these students deserve.  These are kids.  Kids with issues and disabilities forming that they aren’t ready for.  Not that anyone with disabilities is ever ready, but these kids need that rock solid education foundation.  And when they aren’t getting the support and services they need they are losing out.  With that being said, I know their teachers (most of them) will do whatever they can to reach that child to the best of their ability.  They will use what they can when they can.  It is not their intention to see any student fail.  But they can’t do it alone.  They need help.

Delaware is great at talking the talk but there is resistance to walking the walk when it comes to education.  Even Carney’s weighted funding attempt is not a permanent thing.  It is more of a trial than a commitment.  We demand so much out of our students and teachers but consistently fail in giving the funding to achieve this.  And then we put it on the districts to come up with those funds.  But then our state will pour millions of dollars each year into the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  It makes zero sense.

I have nothing but the utmost respect for Kim Williams.  The fact she has to continually put this bill out, year after year, is a true picture of what an awesome human being she is.  But we need ALL 62 of our legislators not only approving this, but shouting it from the rooftops, up and down the state.  Rome wasn’t built in a day, I get that.  But to ignore the needs of children who need help the most is an insult that shouldn’t continue.  Because all they are doing is creating more problems for these students down the road that wind up costing more money than if they just funded it to begin with.

The 150th Delaware General Assembly MUST approve this bill and lock it permanently into the state budget.  It is a moral imperative and the question of if they can afford it shouldn’t even be a part of the conversation.  And Governor Carney, for all my critiques and rants against him, needs to reach into his soul and not even question it.  And when I say Governor Carney, this includes his most trusted advisors who seem to want to dictate the money flow in Delaware.

Delaware School Administrator Funding Analysis Reveals A Hot Mess!

In essence, administrator counts are being determined by units of pupils, as opposed to the number of personnel under their span of responsibility.

Continue reading

**UPDATED**Smyrna School Board Gets Slammed By Delaware Superior Court Over Due Process Violations, Called “Arbitrary & Capricious”

so disproportionate to the offense in light of all circumstances as to be shocking to one’s sense of fairness

The King of zero tolerance school boards in Delaware lost a huge appeal with the Delaware Superior Court.  After expelling a student in 2017, the student appealed the decision and the State Board of Education ruled in the student’s favor.  Not one to take anything laying down, the Smyrna Board of Education filed an appeal against the State Board.  They lost and they lost big time!

**Updated**, 1/19/19, 8:05am: Please see below for new information about this article.

Continue reading

2019 Filed School Board Candidates **UPDATED**2/24/2019**

School board season is in full swing.  With the filing deadline this Friday this list could fill up some more.  There is only one district where no one has filed yet.  There are also quite a few races forming.  Most seats are five-years expiring in 2024 this year with a few exceptions.  Continue reading

Breaking News: Newark Charter School Leader Greg Meece To Retire End Of School Year

The following email went out to Newark Charter School parents this evening.  Greg Meece is retiring as Head of School at Newark Charter School.

Dear Newark Charter School Community:

It has been an honor to serve students and families in Delaware through my chosen vocation of education for nearly 40 years. The last 18 years can only be described as a “dream job” – starting and leading the greatest school of them all: Newark Charter School. It is, therefore, with mixed emotions that I am announcing my retirement this coming summer. By announcing this now, I give our Board of Directors ample time to find my replacement, and our Board has asked me to take a major role in the transition process.  A letter from our Board Chair, Dr. Franklin Newton, is attached.

NCS Board Chair Letter 1-15-19.pdf

I am confident that a qualified leader with creative ideas, loads of energy and a deep commitment to our school’s mission will take Newark Charter School to the next level. 

Deciding to transition from something you’ve spent your whole adult life doing is not easy. Not when you love what you do. My wife Rosemary, also a career educator, is retiring as well. We have discussed this for a long time, and we agreed to make the move together.

Leaving the place you come to work each morning is especially hard when it is so much a part of you. My heart and soul are forever fused with this remarkable institution. I am part of this school and it is a part of me.

I feel that the time is right for me to step aside. I am leaving our community with a school that is in great shape now and is well-positioned for a bright and promising future. We recently completed our Strategic Long-Range Plan. Our charter has a brand-new 10-year renewal term. Our two-time National Blue Ribbon School earned “straight A’s” on all of Delaware’s 2018 measures of charter school success. We have a healthy waiting list of students. Our finances and management rank among the top charter schools in the country. We acquired land and a building next door where we can grow. We have made substantial progress on a plan to greatly enhance our campuses and buildings.

As you might imagine, building and directing Newark Charter School over the last 18 years has been an all-encompassing endeavor. While I will greatly miss the entire community, come July, I am excited to spend more time with my family. With my one-year-old granddaughter and my father in his 90s, it is an interesting time in one’s life to be a bridge that links generations. Beyond spending more time with family, I am not sure what the future holds for me. After a chance to “smell the roses,” I most likely will look forward to new challenges, either part-time or full-time, in education or in something completely different.

Change will be challenging for all of us. I offer this advice that I, too, try to remember everyday: embrace change as something healthy and renewing. At the same time, never lose sight of what got us here, what we stand for, our “North Star.”

I am forever grateful to the founding board of directors who gave me this opportunity, and to the current board for their tremendous support. Nobody could ask for better colleagues. I am blessed to work beside so many teachers, staff and fellow administrators who bring true excellence to our school every day, for every child. Committed parents started Newark Charter School. I saw the powerful relationship between parents and staff – home and school. I will always cherish the many ways I have gotten to know and work with such involved and supportive partners in education.

Most of all, I will miss our students. Following Newark Charter School’s opening day of school in 2001, I mentioned to someone, “If my career ended today I would feel fulfilled.” Seeing children so happy, so proud to be here, even though their school was nothing more than rented trailers on a borrowed property, I knew that I was part of something special. Eighteen school years later, I retire with pride, gratitude and love for the children who breathed life into this school and for all the students who make Newark Charter School such a wonderful place now and for many years to come.

Forever grateful,

Gregory Meece

Youth Drug Prevention Curriculum Task Force Final Report Deals With Gripping Questions

Last June, Delaware legislators passed a concurrent resolution which created a task force to look at curriculum for drug prevention in Delaware’s public schools.  The final report came out on January 7th.

The task force was led by Delaware Senator Bryan Townsend and State Rep. Ruth Briggs-King.  They met from September to December last fall.  The main purpose of the task force was to make recommendations for the best drug prevention programs in our schools.  The law demands evidence-based programs to curtail drug use in Delaware students but there is simply not enough evidence on the effectiveness of the many different programs utilized by the 19 school districts in Delaware.

One program stood out above all others.  The Botvin program was frequently named in the task force minutes.  I read the minutes last night but was not able to read through the Botvin material.  When it comes to drug use in kids, I say whatever programs works best should be used by all districts.  There was a lot of discussion about unfunded mandates among the group and the expense for these programs.  This was followed by talk about local control or state control over these programs.

The report is very long but it is worth the read.  I want to know more about the skateboarding program in Sweden that they use!  Make it happen Erin!

Are Carney & Bunting Intentionally Leaving DSEA Out Of The Loop?

I was wondering why Delaware Governor John Carney’s office resent the same media advisory today that they sent on Friday.  I figured there had to be some change to the big shindig tomorrow at Legislative Hall.  And there it was, staring at me like a full moon on a summer night, one addition to the number of attendees: Continue reading

Red Clay Superintendent Race Down To Three

In the coming months, Red Clay Consolidated School District will have a new Superintendent.  All indications are pointing to three final candidates.  Who are they? Continue reading