Publius, otherwise known as Henry Clampitt…

For years, the online denizens of Kilroy’s Delaware have been subjected to the very pro corporate education reform rants of Publius, aka Henry Clampitt.  Clampitt served on the Board of Directors for the Charter School of Wilmington for many years until he “resigned” with no explanation given to the public whatsoever.  The CSW Board is usually very tight and tends to have many of the same folks on the board for years at a time.

Clampitt also serves on the Legislative Advisory Committee for the Delaware Charter Schools Network.  Clampitt has been in this role since some point last year.  Clampitt is very “pro-choice” when it comes to a parent’s ability to choose what school their child attends.  I believe this to be admirable, however, given his inability to fully understand how certain charter schools enrollment preferences have adversely affected segregation and discrimination in the Wilmington, DE area, it is an advocacy based on wrong intentions.  Having served on the Delaware Enrollment Preferences Task Force, Clampitt firmly believed in placement tests prior to admission at schools like CSW.

Clampitt and I have gone toe to toe on Kilroy’s Delaware going on two years now.  He is vicious in his attack methods, going so far as to make fun of people’s physical features while hiding behind his online moniker.

A few months ago, someone opened a Twitter account under the name of Henry Clampitt with a twitter handle of @publiusedecere, which is also his name on Kilroy’s Delaware.  Nobody knows who posted this Twitter account, but it disappeared within 24 hours.  For many, it is no secret who Publius really is.

ClampittPublius

When this Twitter account opened, it was in the middle of a major battle between two bills pending in the Delaware General Assembly concerning charter school audits.  On one side was State Rep. Kim Williams and the other was Senator David Sokola.  Williams’ bill passed the House last year.  Sokola introduced his bill in January.  Many felt (which I agree with) that Sokola’s bill weakened Williams’ bill.  At the Senate Education Committee meeting on Sokola’s bill, Williams and Kathleen Davies from the State Auditor’s office faced off against Sokola, Clampitt, and Kendall Massett from the Delaware Charter Schools Network.  Neither bill has gone up for a vote in the Senate since that meeting.

Clampitt attacked Rep. Williams in his “anonymous” blog comments on Kilroy’s Delaware.  If I were a guessing man, I would say Clampitt finally pushed someone over the edge which resulted in this fake Twitter account days later.  Many people sent me the link to this Twitter account.  I was shocked that someone went to that level of creativity to out Clampitt, but I wasn’t surprised.

As our little war has progressed over on Kilroy’s, Clampitt has recently started an online campaign to attack me whenever he gets a chance.  If nothing is even discussed in one of Kilroy’s article, as seen recently with some of his posts about Donald Trump, Clampitt will come out of nowhere in his vain attempts to demean me.  This is why I feel some perspective is needed for those reading Kilroy’s Delaware.  Clampitt has made this personal because he seems to be out to “get me”.  I don’t mind anonymous commenters unless you cross that line too many times.  I’ve written about Publius and Clampitt on here, but never together.  Kilroy has done the same.

Many have felt Clampitt, based on his comments, did himself in with the board at CSW.  Others, including myself, feel he can be very racist or discriminatory in his attempts to win an argument.  Many are just plain disgusted with his online antics.  Words such as “cocky” and “arrogant” are the labels I hear the most when others speak about Publius/Clampitt.

It has been highly rumored that he will attempt a run for the Red Clay Consolidated School Board next year, and will run against President Kenny Rivera.  This is something many in the Wilmington community seem to be dead against.  I’ve seen Clampitt a couple times.  Once at an Enrollment Preference Task Force meeting, and the other at a Red Clay board meeting.  When surrounded by his buddies in the charter community, Clampitt can tend to be very vocal.  But at Red Clay, he is very quiet and reserved.

Clampitt seems to be offended by anyone who disagrees with him.  He seems to have a particular hate for myself and Christina board member John Young.  He is also a fierce believer in standardized testing.  When asked about this, he states the same mantra all who support high-stakes testing: “We need to close the achievement gap.”  The very same achievement gap that has widened even further as a result of tests like the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  He believes opt out is wrong and opposes it on every single level.  He takes cheap shot at concerned parents who don’t believe a standardized test is a good measure of academic ability.

Together with his online supporters on Kilroy’s, he has turned what used to be a good place to have earnest discussions about education into a place where many are so offended they don’t come back anymore.  I refuse to leave Kilroy’s “kitchen table” because of a cyber bully.  But I will not continue to be mocked by a man who has so many inherent conflicts of interest.  If this means I am no longer invited to Kilroy’s, so be it.  But I am a firm believer in defending myself when attacked as voraciously as Publius has done.  Last summer, he went way over the line when he attacked my son’s disability.  I wanted to write this then, but I held back.  But as the attacks intensified the past couple months, I felt it was time to take a stand.  If he wants to continue to be a coward thinking he is protected by hiding behind his oh-so-original blog commenter handle over on Kilroy’s, that is his prerogative.  But in the real world, we all know who you are.

It is time to put a face to the name of Publius…

HankClampitt

Delaware Met’s Final Public Hearing Brings Out The Defenders

I received an email from someone who went to the Delaware Met public hearing tonight.  They wished to remain anonymous.  They sent me a very good indication of what the crowd was saying: Save our school!

I went to the MET school public hearing tonight.

All reports I’ve heard: from the News Journal and a student there, were horrible: one kid setting another’s hair on fire; one kid’s head banged into a wall and left a hole in the dry wall; frequent police calls; etc.  In response, the Head of School quit; the Board recommended closing, and then changed their minds;  and the DOE is recommending closing the school on 1-21-16.

But tonight was a love fest.  Only one person from the school’s board spoke; though the guy from the big conglomerate was in the audience.

I was at the hearing from 5:00 – 6:30 and they were still going strong when I left. I didn’t count the number of speakers — probably at least 20.  They were mostly students and  parents.  A couple of teachers spoke, one of whom started work 6 days ago.  Several of the girls were crying; the parents were praising the school, and angry with the State Board.  All thought the school was the best thing ever!  

Most commanding was Councilmember Hanifa Shabazz, who eloquently and angrily “demanded” that the DOE let them know where these 225 students were going to school in January. She and another parent asked to at least extend the closing till the end of the school year. 

A common theme was that the kids had grades of F till they came to this school, and now got Bs. There was also talk about good relationships between students and teachers at the school.  Some students said if they had to go back to a public school, they would probably fail or drop out, or get into trouble again.

None of this addressed the “crime in the school” issue, or the fact that there have already been so many transfers out that the head count is way down, and that could affect financial viability.

If the DOE can’t close a seriously struggling school like this – they can’t close anything.  

But those opposed to the closing have an excellent point – how could the school be approved and accept so many students, without the assurance from the State that it could function effectively?  Can remedial support solve these problems?  That is one of many  questions.

Thank you for sending this to me “anonymous”!  What frightens me the most about all this: no one is talking about special education and how students with disabilities are not having their Free Appropriate Public Education.  For those who don’t know, it’s called FAPE.  It means when you receive special education, you also get FAPE.  But if your IEP isn’t even done, or the school isn’t accommodating your IEP, you are not getting FAPE.  It’s very easy for a crowd to slam the DOE and State Board over “where is my child going to go now” and “this school is so much better”.  I encourage all these parents and community members to read about Delaware Met’s final meeting with the Charter School Accountability Committee.  Seriously.  Read it.  These are some key things that make a school work, and Delaware Met isn’t even doing that.  I get the whole community thing and helping each other out.  But this school is dangerous to leave open.  We don’t even know who is running things there now.  Is it A.J. English and his mentoring company? Pritchett and Associates?  Innovative Schools?  Teachers are leaving, and there aren’t many certified teachers left in the building.  It also doesn’t make fiscal sense to send all that money to the school in February when the bulk of the staff aren’t even there anymore.

I completely understand parents being worried about what happens with their child.  I’ve been there, a few times.  And it sucks.  Bad.  But I would rather move my child than keep him in a school that is falling apart.  No matter how much he may love it, I know at the end of the day I have to look out for his best interests.  Delaware Met parents, I have written about MANY schools on this blog.  Many charters.  And trust me when I say that NONE have been anywhere close to the level this school is at.  This is a tragedy beyond measurement.  I blame the DOE and the State Board for many things that I feel are wrong in public education.  But this is one time where they actually got it right.

There is a serious conversation that needs to happen in regards to what oversight the DOE has over charter schools from the time they approve them and when the doors open.  But at the end of the day, the Delaware Met’s board and staff are the ones that failed this school.  Not the DOE, not the State Board, and not the students.  They had a job to do, and unfortunately, they didn’t do it.  You can’t put band aids on a gaping flesh wound.  It may stop the bleeding temporarily, but it doesn’t heal the wound.  Your children deserve much better than this.

The Biggest Problem For The State Board of Education: Donna Johnson

It is no secret that I have issues with Donna Johnson.  It is also no secret that I blew her anonymous identities on my blog and another one at the end of the summer.  As well, I filed many complaints against the DOE with the Delaware Department of Justice and one of those was specifically against her over what I perceive to be very serious ethics issues.  With those disclaimers out of the way, I firmly believe she is hazardous to education in Delaware.  I know she has passion and conviction for what she believes, and I am okay with that.  What I am not okay with is how she goes about it.

The true problems exist within Title 14.  The role of Executive Director for the State Board of Education is not clearly defined.  I would assume that role to be that of an impartial and unbiased mediator between the Delaware Department of Education, the State Board of Education, and the Secretary of Education.  Instead what we have is her informing the board about issues and offering suggested guidance to them.  As well, when there are State Board workshops, like the recent one on the Smarter Balanced Assessment at Grotto’s in Dover, the entire presentation was led by Donna Johnson.  She sits on the DESS committee, she sat on the AFWG committee, and many others.  That is not State Board representation as the law dictates.  That is Donna Johnson representation.  I’m sure the law is written in such a way that the President of the State Board can choose a designee, but when it is the same person at the bulk of these meetings and workgroups that is not a voting member of the State Board, I take great issue with that.

I have watched Donna Johnson in the past year and a half.  Some of those times I didn’t even know it was Donna Johnson.  She is very quick to correct someone if they are wrong on something, or her perception of wrongdoing.  But when challenged on something that is controversial or on an issue she is unwilling to give an answer for, we get a self-righteous and indignant comment or look on her face, as if she is saying “how dare you question me, don’t you know who I am?”  Yes Donna, we all know who you are.  There has never been a question about that.  I have seen you at State Board meetings, education workshops, task force meetings, AFWG meetings, and even a State Board retreat when I was the only person from the public at the meeting.  I have no doubt you can’t stand me, and you probably view my outing of you as some sort of betrayal.  But I won’t apologize for that.  You are someone who helps set policy, and your antics behind the scenes demanded I do something.  You can say you don’t set policy, but you are at Legislative Hall more than some legislators and you are firmly aligned with Rodel.  That makes you probably the most dangerous person involved in education in Delaware.  I have seen you anonymously post on my blog about how Smarter Balanced is probably not the right answer but then promote it at every education meeting you go to.  And for those who want to argue about state IP addresses, I would not say this if I were not 100% certain.  Who is the real Donna Johnson?  If this were any other person, I would never have outed them.  And I know this caused some dissent among my readers.  I own that.  But to me, someone with as big a role as yourself, should not be leading conversations in certain directions.  Nor should you be providing information that is, at a minimum, false or misleading.

I have talked with numerous people about you in conversation, and the same basic thing always comes up: that you are very difficult to deal with.  I believe you have confused your job title with personal edification.  You should not be dictating policy, you should be impartially conveying information that is given to you to relay to the State Board.  You should not be the State Board representation at every important education meeting in the state.  We need actual State Board representation at every single one of these meetings so they can hear the tone, and see the looks, and feel the heart of the conversations.  Things get lost in the transition to communicating these meetings with the State Board and that tone of those meetings is lost.  The fact that the State Board is an appointed body and not an elected body leads most citizens to believe they will fall in line with what their appointee wants, not what is best for the students of Delaware.  This has been proven time and time again, and it is bad politics.

Let’s look at the Charter School Accountability Committee.  Yes, you are a non-voting member, but you are allowed to ask very in-depth questions of the charters that face this committee.  That can easily sway the opinion of the voting members of the committee.  Don’t get me wrong, I very much enjoy some of the questions you ask and they are very important to the context of the purpose of those meetings, but at the same time I can’t help but wonder if your undefined role needs clarification.  I believe the ambiguity of your role allows you to do what you do.  And that isn’t right, in my opinion.  I believe you wield and flaunt way too much “executive” power and policy is made based on this.  I think Rodel is too ingrained in your thought processes and those of other lobbyists.  I feel sometimes that you are a lobbyist when your role does not clearly grant you that power.

The bulk of this post is precipitated by your actions at the final Accountability Framework Working Group meeting yesterday.  Yes, I challenged you on many aspects of Secretary Godowsky and the State Board’s decision to move forward with harsh penalties against schools for the participation rate multiplier against a school’s proficiency on the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  You respectfully told me I am entitled to my opinion.  But two words did it for me: “positive consequences”.  This is the heart of this.  Because I could see that you truly believe positive consequences are needed to help destroy the opt-out movement.  I do not view these actions as positive in the grand scheme of things.  They are disrespectful to parents, educators, schools, and our communities.  It is meant to shame schools for a parent’s actions.  If I had my way, there would be absolutely no consequences for opt-out as it is not even in the State Board’s jurisdiction to assign judgment for parent’s actions.  But to refer to them as “positive” diminishes the very foundation of our education system and lumps parents as a problem that needs to be dealt with.  This is about an attempt to control parents and manipulate them into deciding what is best for their child.  This is why I vowed to you, the DOE, and Secretary Godowsky that opt-out will continue and it will reach a point where opt-out is not the only measure and it will wind up in court as a class-action law suit against the above parties by many parents in Delaware.