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?
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
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
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.
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
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
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!
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.
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.
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.
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:
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
School districts across Delaware are faced with a choice each November: do they take a class-size waiver for kids in Kindergarten to 3rd grade allowing more than 22 students or do they look out for the well-being of those kids and fail to pass the waiver? For the Christina School District, their board said no to the waiver, voting 4-3 against it.
Board members John Young, Elizabeth Paige, Angela Mitchell and Harrie Ellen Minnehan voted no while members Fred Pulaski, George Evans, and Meredith Griffin voted yes. Pursuant to Delaware State Code, Title 14, section 1705, school districts and charter schools must decide on these waivers, when applicable, by December 1st of each year. Any funding for extra staff, should a board decide not to take the waiver, comes from the local share of funding. It doesn’t always mean all classes will be 22 or under. It could mean an extra paraprofessional comes into the room which decreases the student to teacher ratio.
This evening, Red Clay’s boards will vote on this action as well. In an earlier version of this story, I noted Capital would be voting on class-size waivers. In looking at their Board Docs, none of their elementary schools exceed 22 students in Kindergarten to 3rd grade so no vote is necessary.
For Christina, the elementary schools affected by this will be Brookside, Downes, Elbert-Palmer, Keene, Leasure, Maclary, Marshall, and Stubbs.
I am always against overstuffed classrooms. It is not good for the students, the teachers, or the schools. Christina’s board has never said no to the class-size waiver until their vote last evening. Kudos to the no voters for being the voice of reason!
There is so much going on tonight. First up is the first Town Hall meeting (which I filed a FOIA complaint against the Governor’s Office and Christina School District for a violation of the seven day notice) for the Governor Carney let’s screw with Christina School District one more time. Second is the Red Clay Consolidated School District Board of Education meeting in which they pick up a new board member and tackle the resolution similar to the Christina resolution on sanctuary schools and all that. Finally, it is the Capital School District Board of Education meeting. My son goes to school there again so I have a vested interest in what goes on in their district. I can’t possibly attend all of them. So which one am I going to? Who gets the honor? Continue reading
Finally! After weeks of Delaware Governor John Carney’s posturing about his plans for the Christina School District Wilmington schools, Delaware State Education Association President Mike Matthews gave a shout-out to his fellow DSEA members about the rapidly developing situation.
Being at the table doesn’t mean you are in full collaboration with the rest of the table. But it is a slippery slope. Cause sometimes they will serve you on the table. Carney’s Springfield gambit has more holes than a donut shop. The Springfield teachers union was not on board with this at all despite any mainstream articles you read about it. I fully expect DSEA and the Christina local to speak out 100% against this when the time comes.
In looking at the demographics between Christina and Springfield, I noticed the student populations are vastly different. While Springfield’s largest minority is Hispanic students, Christina’s Wilmington students are mostly African-American. This represents different needs and approaches right off the bat. For those who see this is a softer approach to Christina, I don’t. I see it as a forced coercion on the part of the Governor and the Delaware Dept. of Education. And it appears they have the usual suspects pimping for them.