Christina School District Salaries Over $100,000

The Christina School District.  They have less administrators than they did four years ago, but they also have over 2,000 less students than they did then.  Much of that can be attributed to the very big charter school growth during that time.  Not only were new charters springing up all over the place, but existing charters expanded their enrollment by adding new grades.  Former Superintendent Freeman Williams resigned in the Fall of 2015 and the district did not get a new Superintendent until the beginning of 2017.  The Delaware DOE and various Delaware Governor’s public education target, Christina has actually come a long way.  Last month they signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Governor Carney and the Delaware Department of Education.  They are taking a strong look at each of their schools, not only in Wilmington but also the Newark/Bear/Glasgow area as well.

I’ve predicted their demise but that was more of a warning shot to them.  Out of all the districts and charters in Delaware, I’ve probably written about them the most.  Which I feel gives me the ability to defend them when the need arises.  The district certainly has their challenges but all districts do.  Christina has some of the highest numbers of low-income and special education students in the entire state.  While they don’t have the highest percentage of low-income students, they have the highest number of students.  And many of those, especially in Wilmington, are students of poverty.  They aren’t the district I’m worried about.  More on that another day.

A very important note about their numbers.  The district itself has 75 administrators making over $100,000.  While that may seem like a lot, they also have over 15,000 students in their district despite the charter explosion in the past decade.  But they also hold special programs in their district, such as the Delaware Autism Program and the Delaware School For The Deaf.  With those programs, the district has 93 administrators making over $100,000.  This is an important distinction which will play out later on.  Four years ago they had 108 administrators hitting the over $100,000 mark.

Continue reading “Christina School District Salaries Over $100,000”


A Parent’s Horrifying Experience With Her Daughters’ First And Only Day At Delaware Design-Lab High School

Someone once told me school choice is a roll of the dice.  For this parent and her two daughters, it was a one day nightmare that resulted in the parent pulling her children out of the Delaware public education system and homeschooling her daughters.  Delaware Design-Lab recently requested a major modification to reduce their enrollment (again), despite winning $10 million dollars from XQ Schools in the Fall of 2016.  The parent allowed me to publish an email she sent to the school with her reasons for taking her children out after one day in the school.  I did edit the email for grammatical purposes but none of the parent’s complaints were altered in any way.  As well, I did take out her daughters’ names and replaced them with Daughter A and Daughter J.

Hello Loretta,

There are numerous reasons that we did not stay with Delaware Design Lab.  I am not sure if you are aware how it is being run or what goes on in a normal day but I and the girls saw it.

I wound up in the office in the morning just to let everyone know we were there.  There were tons of students in the office arguing about dress code.  The secretary couldn’t get into her computer, there was tons of chaos. The substitutes didn’t even know where to go and Mr. Harris was nowhere to be found.  They had to have students escort the teachers.  The students were complaining they had no money and had to buy new pants for school and came in jogging pants and completely out of uniform standards.  This was something you and Mr. Harris had stressed on open house night.  There was confusion because the students that took us on tour were not in uniform either and did imply it wasn’t followed to the T at all.  Daughter A asked Mr. Harris and he said leggings were fine but Mrs. Hembree said leggings are not allowed at all.  There was confusion between Business Professional and Business Casual.  I remember both being said.  We went out and got stuff to meet the requirements while the current students are held to no standards or consequences.  That is minor but when you add it all together after the morning I had, and the day they had, it shows that there is no authority or administration adhering to their own guidelines.

The major things you said in the recruiting open house is almost opposite of our experience.  I know you followed through with my emails and we even came in on a Saturday to give you more paperwork.  School was pushed back to the 20th because they needed time to create a schedule for the girls.  I was more than understanding.  When we arrived Tuesday we sat for an hour and a half making schedules that should have already been done.  The counselor, Mr. Burke, was nice and I don’t know where the ball was dropped but it was.  He wasn’t well-informed with all the Design Lab offerings and the other younger gentleman, also a counselor, Mr. Sherodd, didn’t know the definition of some and didn’t seem to want to be bothered.  We were giving grace because we were so appreciative of being accepted late in the year.  It didn’t appear the paperwork I had brought in was even looked at.

So we ignored the fact their schedules should have been ready and the teachers weren’t aware of them coming.  We also gave grace when they received a new scheduling system and couldn’t figure it out or log in and needed to take training on it to be able to get into the system to make an official schedule.  This just added to the confusion and makes all the rumors I heard choosing this school true.

I sent several emails and told you in person the girls had to be withdrawn from Glasgow, and as far as I was told, by Christina School District, they never received it. They withdrew them by my email and acknowledgement of my home school being open.  That goes to show that there is no follow through with a simple request that is detrimental to my kids not receiving truancy.  I don’t even think Mrs. Hembree read the email about the request being emailed to the district office because I had to give her the email address again in person.  All while she is making the copies of my girls’ paperwork, the counselor Mr. Burke is in the office with small talk when he should have been working on the new scheduling system to get my girls a printed schedule instead of a hand written one. I then pick up the girls and they both burst into tears.  Each class they endured the students cussing, screaming, shouting out, didn’t raise hands, and they almost cried how the teachers were treated.  Most teachers didn’t even acknowledge the girls or talk to them.  In not one class, except for History, did they learn and they didn’t even learn that much.  I could see if this was the beginning of the year but not February.  The process should be seamless, the kids should be on point, and the teachers should be able to teach.  They couldn’t even talk because the kids just ran the show.  On top of that some classes were so full there weren’t enough desks.

My Daughter J broke her foot and was in a boot. Daughter A was helping her to gym and said oh now here we go to gym which most kids don’t enjoy anyway and the gym teacher comes up behind her and yells at her and Daughter J on their first day and says “go back to the counselor’s office. I don’t want you in my class you can’t do anything with a broken foot and since you don’t want to be here anyway you can go with her.”  Daugher A was trying to help Daughter J carry her stuff. She had been on her foot all day and was pushed and shoved up and down steps with the rude students.  My daughters were also told the gym teacher made the student who had a broken back last year run because he forgot his note.  That is serious.  My daughter did forget hers and I am so thankful they were sent to the counselor’s office because if she was made to run there would be a lawsuit and the school shut down.

Not being able to take Driver’s Ed was all a huge let down.

They were also called ho’s, bitches, and sluts throughout the day.  They were treated horribly by the majority of the student population.  Daughter J says one girl blurted out she lost her voice because she sucked so much D.  The students called the teachers the N word and were constantly causing chaos.  Where there is no order, chaos abounds.  I was feeling so down about my kids because home school didn’t align with public and it’s not supposed to.  My kids volunteer weekly, respect elders, read on their own, and have desires to become better than themselves every day.  The kids told Daugher J and Daughter A they were too smart for this school and had more potential than majority of the students.  They themselves want to leave Design Lab but can’t because the standards are so low they would be placed in a lower level class.

During the gym hour last period they were sent back to the counselor’s office to pick a new class because they were made aware they were not wanted in gym. While they are sitting there figuring out where they could be put, and the only option was Forensic Science, which neither of them wanted, they hear a student pouring her heart out to the younger gentleman, Mr. Sherodd.  She tells him that she is having some thoughts but wasn’t going to act on them but she was depressed and needed help.  He tells her he is not a counselor but that is how we were all introduced to him.  He said here is a list of therapists.  The student was still talking while he answers the phone and walks out the room.  The student comes over, tells the girls that the school doesn’t ever read their emails, her dad had a stroke a previous year and no one even knew nor were concerned.  She isn’t leaving because it’s her senior year.  When he comes back from his phone call, he sits down and looks at her and says why aren’t you back in class? She responds you didn’t really help or tell me what to do next. He responds I thought you were just going to talk to the student and she said what about these thoughts… should I receive medication, talk to my mom or get a therapist?  He says I am not qualified to tell you whether or not you need medicine but I have the list of therapists you can talk to.  She then stands up while he is talking to Mr. Burke and starts to walk back to class and says so once I start therapy will we be able to talk weekly and he says I am not a counselor and I don’t do weekly meetings.  The student was clearly distraught and going off about Mr. Reek and how he doesn’t teach and they need to hire better people.  Mr. Sherodd tells her to go to the office to complain about the teacher.  Right before she leaves she says he just pointed me to the office.  My girls were heartbroken for her especially after hearing about the shooting in Florida.  This kid is begging for help and no one is helping her.  People should drop what they are doing and help this girl out.

Daughter A also met with the Ashley Bystricki during the day and she didn’t say much whatsoever and nodded repeatedly and when discussing leaving two minutes before class she said that was fine but none of her teachers were made aware.

Mr. Spangler didn’t even acknowledge Daughter J in her math class. The aide gave her a worksheet that Daughter J had previously done the year prior.  They put her in IMP3 which she was the only sophomore and the aide asked Daughter J where she was and she said Algebra II and he said these kids are nowhere near Algebra II.

The only teacher they did like was Ms. Marvel.

The Spanish I teacher, for Daughter A, which was her last day, couldn’t get this one kid to settle, wound up slamming a metal yardstick to the desk scaring everyone and tried to use a pressure point technique on a kid and he just laughed at her.  Daughter A mouthed to her she was so sorry she was being treated like this and came over and offered help to Daughter A.  She was so thankful to be leaving for another school.

Ultimately, the teachers and the students don’t like being there and made it very well known.  There was no follow through on simple, standard requests.  There isn’t even an acting principal.  This environment is not conducive to learning.

This is probably why the school isn’t meeting enrollment and need to request a lower percentage through the DOE.

My kids are accomplishing way more at home with their curriculum, servicing the community, and their faith.  I truly believe homeschooling is the best option especially when this is what goes on in what is supposed to be a professional school setting.

I am reporting the school to the charter board and sending an email to a blogger who holds charter schools accountable.  I also shared it with everyone who wants to hear.  There needs to be better options than public.  This should have been the answer not equal to what the public is.  Most kids said that Design Lab is worse than their feeder Glasgow which isn’t an option either.

Thank you and God Bless,

Parent C


These kind of issues are going on in many of our public schools in Delaware.  For parents and students like this, public schools have become a living nightmare.  I recently had a discussion with someone about how public education turned into this, especially in high-needs schools.  When did students rule the roost?  When did some adults become almost numb and uncaring?  I am not saying this is all of our schools.  But it is one too many.  I’ve been in schools that do not have these issues.  But I’ve been in others that do.  It is not a charter school problem, it is a Delaware problem.  Perhaps I am “old school”, but this kind of conduct in our schools is unacceptable.  When there is no authority in schools, students will do whatever they want.  Is it the fault of the students in these situations or the administration?  Or both?

During my recent conversation mentioned above, I explained that education has turned into a business enterprise.  Despite many saying they represent students, that is not always the reality.  I’ve learned to know the difference.  For far too many, it is about the money involved first and students last.  It isn’t the teachers (in most cases), it is the administrators and boards that are responsible for making sure our schools are student first.  In this situation with Delaware Design-Lab, it is obvious, based on this experience, there are serious issues with teacher recruitment.  The environment at this school is NOT conducive to student learning.  Based on the parent’s email, she also had issues in the Christina School District at Glasgow High School.  For any parent to have to run from public education like this is a true shame.

I won’t pretend to have the answers.  I don’t know the solutions.  I can grapple with these issues and write about them, and in my heart I can cry for students that go through bullying and horrible education experiences.  I can write about situations like this.  I ask myself every single day what will be the catalyst for things to truly change.  While a ton of talk is going on about school safety, situations like this are the norm in far too many of our schools, whether they are traditional schools or charter schools.  School safety is paramount but that also includes addressing situations like this.

When I received the email from this parent, I shook my head.  I reached out to the parent again and she agreed I could publish it and added this:

The only good thing I could say about it is it was clean and nice looking.  The kids shared with my girls that most of the time the classes are so full there isn’t a desk for them to sit at.  The teachers are afraid to teach and from what I heard and could tell no acting Principal.  The Open House is very enticing and we thought this was an answer to our prayers.  Unfortunately not at all.  The one catch that is really sad that most don’t know about that Christina District office told us was once you register for a Charter in Delaware you have to complete a full year grade in it to be able to switch back to a public.  So this year wouldn’t have counted they would have had to complete 11th to switch back to a public.  Their public being Glasgow is even worse.  I don’t think parents know when they go to charter if they pull them out they have to go to private, parochial or home school like we are.  

In my own opinion I see a lot more deciding to home school in the years to come.  I don’t know if you write about public but Glasgow High was much worse than Design Lab.  I was there two days trying to register and I cried leaving.  It is so sad our youth have to endure this to get an education.  

The Moldy Ghost Of Pulaski Elementary

I’ve heard some spin in my day, but this one takes the moldy cake!  Remember Moldgate at Pulaski Elementary School in the Christina School District back in the Fall of 2016?  They cleaned it all out and everything was back to normal.  Right?  Not so fast.

Apparently, the mold is back in the basement of Pulaski Elementary.  So the school closed it off to students.  But they aren’t telling students and parents that.  No, they are basing the basement closure on ghosts.  The Hispanic Spanish students won’t go down in the basement because it is haunted.  The Pulaski Legend has it the school was built on a burial ground and those spirits are rising up causing mischief in the Pulaski basement.  Why these ghosts would confine their activities to a basement when they could just as easily float up to the rest of the school is beyond me.  I didn’t see a Paranormal Director on the Christina organizational chart.  But they must be pretty smart to be able to confine these spirits to one very specific area at the school that just so happened to be the epicenter of a major mold issue at the school.

I truly wish I was making this up.  I wish this wasn’t a real post.  I wish administrators were not THIS dumb.  But it appears they are.  Who you gonna call?

Christina Missing A Special Education Director

When John Dewey retired from the Christina School District two months ago, it put the second largest school district in the state without a Special Services Senior Director.  This is the title for the person overseeing special education in the district.  So who is running special education in Christina School District?  With the number of complaints I receive about special education in Christina you would think they would make sure this key vacancy in their district is filled.  But nope, here we are two months later and nothing.  How long are they going to keep this key position vacant?

Who’s Who Of Ex-Governors Team Up With Ridge-Lane For Non-Transparent Education Social Impact Bond Invasion

A few days ago, Kilroy’s Slower Delaware posited Jack Markell could run for U.S. Senator Tom Carper’s seat.  I commented I thought he should stay out of politics altogether.  I’ve always known he would hobnob around the corporate education arena.  Today, an announcement came out that Ridge-Lane Limited Partners is going to expand their social-impact merchant bank.  When I saw who else is a part of this, it made my head throb. Continue reading “Who’s Who Of Ex-Governors Team Up With Ridge-Lane For Non-Transparent Education Social Impact Bond Invasion”

As Christina Passes MOU, Carney Wants Charter Students To Come Back To Christina

Last night the Christina Board of Education, in front of a packed house, passed the Memorandum of Understanding between the district, the Delaware Department of Education and Governor John Carney’s office with a 4-2-1 vote.  Board members John Young and Elizabeth Paige voted no while member Angela Mitchell abstained.  The tense meeting, which lasted over three hours, had Carney sitting in the audience the entire time.  While the News Journal, WHYY, and WDEL all came to the meeting, many parts of the meeting were not covered in their articles. Continue reading “As Christina Passes MOU, Carney Wants Charter Students To Come Back To Christina”

Christina Board Of Education To Vote On MOU Tuesday Night

The Christina Board of Education will finally vote on the Memorandum of Understanding between Governor Carney’s office, the Delaware Department of education, the district and the Board of Education on Tuesday night at Sarah Pyle Academy.  Their regular Board of Education meeting begins at 7pm.  What’s at stake?  Schools closing and consolidating into two schools.  Governor Carney’s reputation.  The Christina School District Wilmington students in Kindergarten to 8th grade.

Even if you don’t live in Christina, this will be something to watch.  It isn’t every day a Governor proposes this kind of action.  Some say it is needed while others say it is too much.  Some say the Board should vote yes while others say mixing these student populations from different areas of the city is a powder keg waiting to explode.  Some say forget the past and keep an open mind while others say Carney’s office doesn’t have the first clue as to what these kids need.  We will find out what the Christina Board votes on Tuesday evening.

The below pictures were released by the Christina School District:

If I were Christina, I would want to see a big fat check hand-delivered by John Carney before I put ink to this.  They are putting a lot of trust in a state that has continually targeted this one particular district if they vote yes.  Sorry, I don’t trust Carney.  He has yet to prove he can be trusted.


The Behind The Scene Plans To Save DAPSS & What The DOE Isn’t Telling Us

On the surface, Delaware Academy of Public Safety & Security is toast.  But many key players in the Delaware education world are busy making plans to make sure that outcome does not happen.  How do you get a school way below enrollment to survive?  You partner up and you do it fast! Continue reading “The Behind The Scene Plans To Save DAPSS & What The DOE Isn’t Telling Us”

Carney Cremates Christina

If you thought the arrow Delaware Governor John Carney shot through Christina School District’s heart was bad, you haven’t seen anything yet!  Plans are afoot.  And what will be left standing after Carney does his coup d’état will shock everyone! Continue reading “Carney Cremates Christina”

Governor Carney’s State Of The State Address

Today, Delaware Governor John Carney delivered his State of the State Address to the General Assembly in the House chambers.  On the education front, he didn’t really say anything I haven’t heard before.  He made it a point to specifically address Christina School District and the five schools in Wilmington.  There was NO mention of Kindergarten to 3rd Grade Basic Special Education funding.  He talked about math coaches but absolutely nothing about reading specialists.  He wants to pour more money into the Pre-K Stars program.  Pretty much everything sounds like a Jack Markell third term.  Enough already Carney!  How about coming up with some new and creative ideas?  Because Governor Markell was a tyrant education Governor.  You are putting all your eggs in the Wilmington basket.  I’m not saying those kids don’t need help, but there are others across the state who need help as well.  I got your message though.  We can all expect to pay higher taxes very soon!

John Young Takes On John Carney Over Christina MOU Vote

Last night, the Christina School District Board of Education voted again to table a vote on the Memorandum of Understanding between the district, the Delaware Dept. of Education, and Governor Carney’s office.  From the sounds of it, Carney is getting very impatient with Christina.  Board member John Young included a quote from Carney and his response to it on a Facebook post today.

“I’m disappointed that the board did not act tonight to address the serious challenges facing students in these Wilmington schools. We have made it a priority to work in collaboration with Christina to do right by these students. We have offered significant new resources to support educators and students in Wilmington. We can’t afford to wait and delay on this issue any longer.” – John Carney

Well, we do share an emotion: It’s so disappointing to have a partner at the table use this situation for political gain. Not surprising, just disappointing. The MOU currently on the table is the Governor’s version. It makes barely a fraction of the commitment necessary to help our students, is the furthest thing from “significant resources”, and seems to be hyper-focused on only getting one thing done: a dual-generation center. This leaves all our K-8 students in the rain holding a wet bag of nothing, Governor John Carney. Your charged declaration proves what I have sadly suspected: this plan isn’t about helping our students at all. The board, while tabling this terribly lopsided version, ardently pledged to stay at the table and work. I know that’s what I’m committed to doing. I’d really rather not spend much effort like this responding to divisive nonsense like your declaration; however, I will not sit idly by as you disparage the process and hard work of all partners, including your own staff. Let’s get to work instead of name calling and finger pointing, Governor.

As always, I’m right here.

Young gave his cell phone number after the last sentence but I do not feel comfortable providing that on a blog.  When Young addressed him as Governor John Carney, that was linked to his Facebook profile.

I think things are about to get very interesting in Christina.  As I’ve written before, Carney does NOT like anyone challenging him.  He takes that very seriously.  Will Carney try to pull some type of “priority schools” stunt on Christina if they do not act on the MOU?  I would be willing to bet he will.  Something will happen.  I have no idea what that is.

As well, the Christina board voted NO on their final Fiscal Year 2018 budget.  While this does not mean the state will stop disbursing funds to the district, it could affect their local payments.  It certainly did not make Christina Chief Financial Officer Robert Silber or Superintendent Richard Gregg have a good night.  Things are getting interesting up there.

Will The General Assembly Pony Up An Additional $18.5 Million For Christina By June 30th?

The latest Memorandum of Understanding concerning Governor John Carney’s plans for Christina has an ask of $18.5 million in additional state funding to implement the plan.  This is, of course, based on approval by the Delaware General Assembly as they hammer out the FY2019 budget over the next six months.

The latest draft of the MOU, authored by Carney’s Education Policy Adviser Jon Sheehan, is a red-lined version.  The new wording in the document is all red-lined.  Keep in mind this is more than the initial ask from the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission.  Carney, from all reports I’ve heard, wants this plan to go through more than anything in the world.  How much so?  He will most likely do anything to make it happen.  I’m not sure why he has made this his top priority in education matters.  I think it is a red herring with danger signs written all over it.  I believe he is counting on the Christina Board of Education to vote no on it so he can launch some dastardly punitive action against the district.  I believe it is the same tactic Governor Markell used with WEIC.  Get everyone talking about it knowing full well the General Assembly wasn’t going to approve it.  The key difference between this and that is with WEIC the state already had a budget deficit when faced with that vote.  This time around, Delaware is boasting of a budget surplus.  I believe there are some smoke and mirrors with their numbers and I believe there is some fuzzy math with their formulas.  We shall see.

From a legislator’s point of view, the funding for this is based on Wilmington schools.  As WEIC learned the hard way, giving extra and significant funding to one portion of the state and not the rest is not an easy task.  Like I said the other week, everyone and their mother will be jockeying for their share of the mystical “budget surplus”.  In an election year, incumbents will NOT want to tick off voters in their districts.  I think Carney knows this.  Or he is that stupid.  But I’ll go with the former on this one.  Which is why I think it is a red herring.

The latest draft appears to have concessions granted to the Christina Board from their last discussion.  The Christina Board wanted to change the timeline from the 2018-2019 school year to the 2019-2020 year.  But the wording in the draft suggests Carney wants the Dual Generation Center up and running in 2018.  If that went through, there would definitely be some type of building movement by August of this year.

In the meantime, check out the latest Jon Sheehan penned draft of the MOU which the Christina Board will vote on at their next board meeting on January 16th.  It would have gone to a vote tonight but the meeting was postponed due to inclement weather.

Guest Post: Shelley Suchyj On School Choice In Delaware

Shelley Suchyj is an educator from the Christina School District.  She was also the Exceptional Delaware Hero Of The Year for 2016 for speaking out about the mold issues in her district.  As the School Choice window in Delaware will end tomorrow, Suchyj put up a Facebook post with some information that was left out of a recent Delaware Today article by Larry Nagengast.

This is a must read for every politician and parent in Delaware so please share. As the Talented and Gifted Educator for the Christina School District city schools; I have spent over 30 hours already this week, going to student’s houses and helping their parents fill out Choice forms on my personal computer. This is on top of the hours spent with a “carload of parents and students” that I attended open house with at the new Christina Honors Academy two weeks ago. There is a lot that this article doesn’t include, that most don’t even understand. Like the fact that the choice website is only in English and most city parents don’t realize that you only have from November- January of the previous year to apply for Choice in the following year. The biggest hurtle is a perception of what a “good school” is.

I have been an educator for over 23 years, 16 years as an 8th grade teacher helping parents navigate the high school choice decision. Having taught most of my years as an inner city teacher. I have had siblings in the first graduating classes of both Wilmington Charter and Newark Charter when they both opened. I have sons that have attended public, catholic, charter, magnet and choice schools in the state of Delaware since choice began in 1997 and currently. I have to say the biggest issue for everyone in the state of Delaware to understand that there are GREAT programs and things happening in every school.

My own mother thought I was crazy when I took my son out of the, believed to be best catholic school, and put him in a public school. But to this day Marbrook, and the friends, teachers and experiences he had there can not be matched. But that was for him. He learned to speak Spanish fluently not because he learned it in school, because he didn’t, it was because his best friends spoke Spanish when they arrived at school and he needed to be able to communicate when they played soccer at recess and hung out after school. He got to learn a new sport at Dickinson playing varsity lacrosse that he never would have been able to play at Sallies or Wilmington Charter because of the number of kids on the team.

My belief is that every school should have an engineering class, computer class, arts class, music classes, languages and personal finance class option for every child in grades 4-12. Lets figure out what kids are talented in and grow those talents. We have changed the location of where our children can go to school in Delaware through Choice and Charter. Shouldn’t we change what they are taught in school to be successful too? It isn’t 1950 any more.

With sincerest apologies to Suchyj, I promised her I would get this up when I saw it over the weekend, but due to weather and work constraints I was unable to do so.  Every parent interested in choicing their child to a different school should look at every possible option and not go solely by reputation.  Each child is different and has unique learning methods.

Christina Board Tables MOU Between District & Governor Carney With 5-2 Vote

The Christina School District Board of Education voted 5-2 to table the Memorandum of Understanding between the Christina School District and Delaware Governor John Carney’s office.  In a nutshell, this means it isn’t dead but will most likely come up at a future board meeting.  Carney’s office gave Christina a deadline of February 28th to approve the whole thing, even the portion which would consolidate five schools into two.  The two no votes belonged to board members John Young and Elizabeth Paige.

Carney is going to be one pissed off Governor tonight!  In my opinion, this MOU was a bait and switch to begin with.  Now that the Christina Board has essentially said “screw you and your MOU”, he can REALLY go after the district.  Which means he will bring out the big guns and threats of charter conversion.  These are predictions on my end with nothing to base them on.  Nothing but history.  To see the latest draft, please see below:

More Information On The Atrocious School Board Member Removal Bill

Aside from State Rep. Paul Baumbach, I have yet to hear from one person in support of this legislation.  Zero.  Zilch.  Nada.  But in the 24 hours or so since I posted this story, I have had many sidebar conversations with Baumbach, as well as many other crucial conversations. Continue reading “More Information On The Atrocious School Board Member Removal Bill”

Kowalko Picks Apart Carney’s Not So Legal Christina-Wilmington Plan

Last night, the Christina Board of Education voted 5-2 to push back Delaware Governor John Carney’s consolidation plan for Christina’s Wilmington students until the 2019-2020 school year. They felt the initiative would need more time. The no votes belonged to board members George Evans and Fred Polaski. State Rep. John Kowalko gave public comment concerning the plan. To say he was not in favor would be an understatement. Kowalko brought up many good points which the Governor and the Delaware DOE ought to consider.

I and 9 other legislators attended a meeting called by Governor Carney less than a week ago purportedly to discuss the proposed Wilmington school reform plan and MOU proposal. Since we weren’t given copies of the MOU and it doesn’t seem to be available any longer at the link the Administration provided I cannot offer or challenge some of the specifics. At this meeting the Governor suggested that the MOU draft submitted by DOE would be changed and this board is not bound by it and should draft its own MOU proposal. The deadlines for Board action that the Governor and DOE appear to be imposing are substantively unrealistic and impractical for such a complex consideration with so many unanswerable questions.

Having examined some of the initial proposal and the details and expectations it held has led me to conclude that this is not a well thought out plan, that raises more questions and challenges then it has answers for.

I distributed some of my points of concern to the Governor and DOE and have copies for you that I will distribute. Due to time constraints I will try to focus on only a few of my concerns that I hope you will consider at this time.

I find it particularly harmful and hurtful to the “Southbridge” community, families and children to propose closing Elbert Palmer, one of the true neighborhood schools in walking distance and accessible to this Wilmington community. I hope that this Board’s counter-proposal would support closing that tired old monolith known as Bancroft and refurbish Palmer, Pulaski and Bayard to use for the suggested K-8 reconfiguration.

I also implore this Board to pay heed to the massive costs (which the Governor personally refused to speculate on) in refurbishing or renovating in order to make these consolidations. You should be acutely aware that any promise of funding cannot be guaranteed. In fact I would urge you to recall this Administration’s recently passed budget with concurrence of this current General Assembly cut traditional public school revenues by more than $36 million. Restoring that $36 million in cuts and adding even a small percentage of the proposed renovation costs would be much more beneficial and effective for Wilmington students if allocated to create smaller classroom ratios and hire reading and math specialists.

As I’ve looked at this reform proposal and its details and drawing upon my 11 years of experience as a legislator I am forced to conclude that this is a no-win situation for Christina, this Board and the children of Wilmington. Its predisposition to fail will be used to scapegoat the district and further stifle opportunities for Wilmington students and their families.

Finally I would suggest that this Board consider that traditional public school funding has received reduced funding since 2009 now totaling over $65 million per year. Ask the DOE and Governor:

Who is going to pay for the renovations?

Who is paying for longer school days and school years?

Who is paying for vacation academies?

Who is paying for after-school programs?

And why aren’t Reading Specialists and funding for them part of this plan?

At this point, Kowalko had several questions for Governor Carney as well:

1) If CSD does not approve MOU, more money will be taken from the District further harming prospects of Wilmington students and families. (“If it rejects the plan and fails to come up with an acceptable alternative, the agreement would be terminated immediately, resulting in the loss of any additional financial support for the district”).
2) Bayard/Bancroft are not appropriate buildings for little children even if renovated. Bancroft too old to make usable with renovations.
3) Trauma Training not necessarily (research?) effective but investing/funding 1 to 15 class size ratios would effectively improve the learning environment and outcomes.
4) Palmer became the first equity lawsuit in Delaware when Christina District (at Lowery’s behest) tried to close it 10 years ago.
5) Leaves no “Neighborhood Schools” for city children and in fact may violate the “Neighborhood Schools Legislation”.
6) Bancroft is far away from Palmer and Southbridge children who now walk would be unable to continue that practice.
7) Distinguish more specifically between renovate, refurbish and reconfiguration.
8) Why don’t we do things like “successful” districts? The most successful programs such as in New York and Massachusetts fund “reading specialists” and lower class ratios.
9) When the plan refers to “potentially” establishing “early childhood education” and “centers for students and families learning English” at a vacated Palmer are the planners aware that there are no ESL students at Palmer?
10) Have you considered neighborhood “gangs” being integrated from across Wilmington into the same building?
11) The suggested “Co-leadership” model re: principals and assistant principals belies the reality that these two jobs have never had the same duties and have always had designated responsibilities and functions.
12) “Loan forgiveness stipend” to young and “inexperienced” teachers does not reflect any benefit to already established teachers who have devoted their careers to inner-city education and “Who” is paying for these loans?
13) “Who” is paying for “longer school days/year”?
14) “Who is paying for “vacation academies”?
15) “Who is paying for “after-school programing”?
16) Why aren’t reading specialists part of this plan and therefore WHO IS PAYING FOR “READING SPECIALISTS” SO THAT CHILDREN ACTUALLY LEARN TO READ?

These are all valid questions that deserve answers. One of my biggest questions is why the Delaware Department of Education did not include this in their presentation to the Office of Management and Budget for the Fiscal Year 2019 budget a couple of weeks ago. Where is all this money coming from? The Christina Board of Education will vote on the plan again next Tuesday at their monthly board meeting. Revisions will supposedly go back and forth until February of 2018 which is Governor Carney’s deadline for the decision.

Top Ten Reasons Not To Trust Delaware Governor John Carney

Delaware Governor John Carney hasn’t even been in his job a year and already he has managed to irk me more than former Governor Jack Markell.  Why?  Many reasons. Continue reading “Top Ten Reasons Not To Trust Delaware Governor John Carney”

Christina Superintendent Gregg Releases Statement About Potential School Closures In Wilmington

After the proposed memorandum of understanding leaked to the News Journal yesterday, those affiliated with Christina’s Wilmington schools have been scratching their heads.  On the chopping block are three city schools.  It appears Superintendent Richard Gregg is perfectly okay with these changes that have yet to receive proper stakeholder feedback.  It looks like the “Community Conversation” meeting tonight at Stubbs Elementary School will give out a lot of the details.  I really hope the communities on both the East and West sides of Wilmington come and say “How dare you” to both the Governor and the district for embarking on a plan that could be approved before funding is even approved, gives no certainties about what happens to students after 8th grade in those schools, and has been planned and schemed behind closed doors long before the public caught wind of it.



WEIC Gets Stuck On A FOIA Technicality While Christina And Carney Scheme To Close Schools

I’d heard the rumor.  The five Wilmington schools serving Christina students would fold into two.  It was only a rumor until today when the News Journal published details of a confidential memorandum of understanding between the district and Governor Carney. Meanwhile, the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission, which has outlived its usefulness as of late, decided to hold an impromptu meeting while breaking state FOIA open meeting laws.

As per Jessica Bies’ News Journal article:

The Wilmington Education Improvement Commission, a state advisory committee formed by then-Gov. Jack Markell to come up with ideas to improve education in the city, was also scheduled to review Carney’s proposal Tuesday night. It did not publicly advertise the meeting in compliance with state law or post the agenda for the meeting until late Monday, after a News Journal reporter called and asked when it would be shared.

As per a source, this WEIC meeting was planned six weeks ago and the Mayor of Wilmington came to speak.  A technicality of not posting the agenda in the required seven day window occurred.  When Tony Allen arrived at the meeting, he advised the committee of the technicality and that no action would be taken at the meeting, including approving the minutes for the last meeting.  While I have seen time and time again in FOIA complaints that a party forgot to post an agenda, it is my belief, even if a meeting is planned and they decide to only hold it for informational purposes, they should delay the meeting for appearances sake.  How confidential is this memo if so many people had access to it before the Christina Board of Education even has it? Sounds like Carney and Christina want it to get out. I’ve heard people rambling for years that Christina needs to consolidate some of their schools but the way this happened is shady at best.

If Carney’s office released the document, it doesn’t sound like Superintendent Richard Gregg was too happy about it:

Superintendent Richard Gregg recommended removing the names of schools from the document before it came to the school board for the vote, and there was a discussion about having the governor refrain from using the schools’ names in public.

Who were the three school board members who met with district staff, Carney’s team, and the union representative? Why doesn’t the News Journal name those board members? And where is all the scoop on the Empowerment crap Carney is trying to foist upon the schools? More questions than answers. And the Delaware DOE is going to be the one to implement all these changes? Has Christina lost their ever-loving mind? But this is the part that scares the living hell out of me:

The memorandum says Carney and the state Education Department would ask the General Assembly for additional funding to renovate the schools, as well as provide trauma-informed training to principals and teachers. It also promises funding for a dual-generation education center, as well as “philanthropic monies to support all Wilmington schools,” starting with those in Christina.

Philanthropic monies… and what will they want in return? This is the beginning of the end of public education. Once you get foundations actually funding schools (they already help fund charter schools), these schools are no longer public. They become part of Carney’s “public-private partnerships” where FOIA and open meeting laws go out the window. You heard it here first. Carney is just continuing Markell’s agenda who was following all the corporate education reform crap. At this point, I can no longer refer to Carney as Markell 2.0. He is Carney, through and through. Selling out schools to corporations. This is so deliberate and in your face. He played Christina and their board like a fiddle. This is when we start to see social impact bonds hit Delaware. And Rodel is loving every second of it with their competency-based education and personalized digital learning crap. I won’t go so far as to say Carney is the devil, but he is certainly his willing accomplice and Secretary Bunting is just playing the part of the yes-woman and kissing King Carney’s ring he wears for whichever level of Dante’s Hell he serves. I can see why Carney picked her now. She will do whatever he wants.

When I attended the very first WEIC meeting, I advised them transparency is the glue to whatever they do.  While I recognize human error, there is also accountability for recognizing that and taking the appropriate action.  Not go ahead and hold the meeting anyway.  The only way we can stop people from violating FOIA law is to call them out on it.  I have made it my mission to do so for over three years now.  I will not hold back on that for any organization that is subject to FOIA law.

I hope Carney locked the General Assembly into funding this hot mess, otherwise it becomes yet another unfunded mandate in Delaware.  I’m sure deals have been made behind the scenes.  If not, the philanthropic foundations like Rodel and the other vultures waiting to pounce on public education will assuredly send their lobbyists to hound them for the next seven months.

Condoms, Chlamydia, Christina, Closures, Carney and the Council

The Christina Board of Education meeting last night was filled with some awesome discussion about what appears in the title of this article.  I painstakingly transcribed the part of the meeting with the Superintendent’s report to the Board and the crazy discussion after.  Board member John Young was on fire!!!!  The topics dealt with Governor Carney’s plans for Christina’s Wilmington schools.  There is A LOT of information in here.  A ton.  From venereal diseases to transparency to possible school closures and more!  I have a feeling things are going to look VERY different in Christina’s Wilmington schools a year from now.  And for the record, I agree with John Young on EVERYTHING he said! Continue reading “Condoms, Chlamydia, Christina, Closures, Carney and the Council”