Ask, and ye shall receive! Whenever I put up an article about Newark Charter School and what I view as their low sub-group population percentages compared to Christina School District, I am asked to do closer comparisons. That is absolutely fair and something I should have done a long time ago. So I plead guilty on that score. But sometimes wanting to know that information to shut me up isn’t always the best idea. Especially when the proof is in the pudding. Continue reading “Taking A Deep Dive At Newark Charter School & Christina School District: 5 Mile Radius, Greater Newark Area, & District (Including Wilmington)”
The Delaware Education Hunger Games just went up a new level. The shot heard round the Delaware Education world when Governor John Carney put out his FY2018 proposed budget shook up the school districts. But the part no one is talking about is the Delaware charter schools get to keep their educational sustainment funds.
The total for the educational sustainment fund is $28.15 million dollars. Carney wants to cut $21,974.40 of that fund. That amount is what goes to the local school districts. The rest goes to the charters and there is NO recommendation in Carney’s budget to cut those funds for the blessed ones. The rationale is the charters aren’t covered by the Match Tax. But I will get to that part later. Governor Markell actually wanted to keep the fund in his proposed budget for FY2018. This means the charters would get to keep over $6 million dollars.
Meanwhile, Carney suggested the school boards could raise those funds via a match tax without referendum. For arguments sake, let’s say school boards decide to go that route. That would mean the charters could get not only the educational sustainment fund but also their local share of those match tax funds. Since no local school board seems to relish the idea of taking up Carney on his idea, they are forced to get the funds elsewhere. In many districts, teachers and staff are getting reduction in force notices.
It is absolutely disgusting and abhorrent the charters are able to keep this money. I thought the charter school transportation slush fund was disgusting enough, but this is obscene. All the angst and distress in the districts while the charters merrily set their budgets without a care in the world. Sure, they might have to make some sacrifices, but I’m sure they can make up for it with the above-mentioned slush fund. Why do the charters get every perk in the world while districts are made to suffer?
So where did this educational sustainment fund even come from? To find out the answer to that, you have to go way back to the Governor Mike Castle days. This was during a time when Delaware didn’t have the budget problems we are plagued with today. There was actually an idea thrown into the air to cut property taxes entirely. As Delaware does so wonderfully, they put together a group to see if this was possible. John Carney was actually on this working group and was one of the chief voices against cutting property taxes altogether. And that is where the fund came into being, through this group. And now Carney wants to get rid of it, but only for the districts, not the charters. Originally, the amount was over $50 million dollars. But it shrunk down over the years. There used to be a list for its intended use, but now it states these funds can be used locally for whatever they want. Which means Carney’s statement about how it shouldn’t have been used as a permanent fixture to support teacher salaries is hogwash.
If you aren’t pissed off enough about the shenanigans going on with this budget, this should set you into a tailspin. Unless you are actually a parent of a student who would benefit from this perk for your child’s school (aka, a charter school). All the business officers in the school districts know this, and Mike Jackson, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget definitely knows this. But this has remained under the radar for months now. Until I found out today.
Do charter schools have a right to the match tax proceeds collected from Delaware school districts? This is where it becomes a somewhat thorny issue. Technically, no. But the Christina School District settlement with the 15 charter schools set up a potential upcoming conflict where they could argue the merit of getting those funds. From the settlement:
In particular, Plaintiffs are free to contend for fiscal 2018 and thereafter that Match Tax Revenues should be included in the calculation of Local Cost Per Student pursuant to Section 509. CSD is free to condent for fiscal 2018 and thereafter that Match Tax Revenues should not be included in the calculation of Local Cost Per Student pursuant to Section 509.
Why would any discussion of match tax funds appear in this settlement? Unless they KNEW Carney would be putting this in his proposed budget. And we all know it isn’t actually Carney creating this. Most likely Mike Jackson. More boon for charters. And I just heard the charter school transportation slush fund WILL stay in the budget. Time to get your voices heard Delaware and call out the State of Delaware for succumbing to the incessant lobbying of the Delaware Charter School Network. It is time to get people like Greg Meece from Newark Charter School to shut up about his school’s great test scores and how they are recipients of the Blue Ribbon Award twice. It is all based on superficial bullshit. Anyone can rig the game and charters have been very proficient at that. It is time to stop the Delaware charters from deciding education funding and policy in Delaware. It is time for our legislators to stop voting on the basis of less than 20% of Delaware’s public education population and look at the needs of ALL our students. Enough. Our children are more important than these showmanship games. I am not directing this at every single charter school. I am directing this towards the lobbyists for the charters and the charter school leaders who have been doing this for decades. They weaseled their way into Carney’s office and I see no signs of them leaving. Time to make that happen!
Editor’s note: I don’t swear on here that much. When I do, that means I am pretty ticked off!
Updated, 8:41am: In paragraph 3, sentence 3, I changed the word “would” to “could”. At present, the charters have no claim to the match tax in Delaware. It is my contention they are gunning for it very soon.
Last night, the Christina Board of Education unanimously passed a resolution concerning Governor John Carney’s proposed FY2018 budget for Delaware. The resolution encourages all Delaware legislators in New Castle County to reject Carney’s proposed education cuts. The FY2018 budget has to get through the Joint Finance Committee and will then go to the149th Delaware General Assembly in the final days of legislative session in late June.
Expect more of this in the days and weeks to come. The reaction from Delaware teachers, educators, parents, citizens, schools, districts, and school boards is getting louder by the day. Especially when teachers are getting pink slips. Last night at a forum about the budget at the Delmar Fire Station, even Carney acknowledged these are bad choices. I have to think, with all the perks inserted into the epilogue language of the state budget every year, there is room for unnecessary programs in our state to get the chopping block. If Carney wants our state to be competitive, forcing schools into no-win situations involving less money is not the way to go. This wasn’t a bad choice, it was a horrible choice.
Governor Carney sent a letter to all Delaware public school teachers this morning for Teacher Appreciation Week. The irony of this letter, as several Delaware school districts are getting ready to layoff teachers, is astounding. Because of Carney’s proposed budget for FY2018, Delaware school districts are put in a no-win situation. School boards can either raise property taxes with the match tax or reduce their own budgets (of which they have to do anyways). Carney shifted the onus of the budget deficit away from his office with his “shared sacrifice” language. What he did was attempt to make damn sure the taxpayers of the state shift their anger at Delaware school boards when their taxes go up or see their children suffocate in huge classrooms with less teachers and programs.
I have this to say to Governor Carney: what you have done is shady and despicable. It is the ultimate in political posturing, but your muscle flex is going to backfire on you. You won’t get away with playing the budgetary Darth Vader where others do the dirty work for you if you want to survive past 2020. Your opponents are most likely salivating over all this because you exposed a major Achilles heel very early in the game. And you better believe if charters somehow benefit over all this, I won’t be the only one protesting. Many will join me. As an example, will the General Assembly get rid of the very useless charter school transportation slush fund? Will charter schools also have teacher layoffs? Will they actually lose some of their transportation budget like all the local school districts will? If the answer to any of these is a no, I don’t see much “shared” sacrifice.
If any members of our General Assembly think they can sneak in the usual perks into the epilogue language of the budget in the final hours of this legislative session (I’m talking to you most of all Mrs. Death Penalty flipper), it will cause a ruckus unseen in Legislative Hall for some time.
It is past time Delaware stopped using students and teachers as sacrificial lambs. It isn’t just Carney and the General Assembly who are doing this, it is also the school districts. I have yet to see any school district cutting administrative positions. So far, I am fairly sure Indian River, Christina, Caesar Rodney, and Colonial will be cutting teachers. That list will grow.
Below is Carney’s letter to teachers. Like I said, this is almost insulting. I have no doubt students said many things about their teachers, but Carney (or whichever staff member wrote this letter) seems to cherry-pick certain things to further
his Rodel’s own agenda. Can we just stop pretending John Carney? Just come out and rename the state Rodelaware. You aren’t fooling anyone. This letter demands the famous “John Young redline edition”…
Sent: Wednesday, May 10, 2017 8:34:32 AM
To: K12 Employees
Subject: Thank you
As the nation recognizes National Teacher Appreciation Week, we in Delaware have a lot to celebrate. Secretary of Education Susan Bunting joins me in thanking all of you for helping our students succeed in school and in life.
When you say “celebrate”, who is celebrating? Of course Bunting is going to join you. She will do whatever you want! Nothing against Dr. Bunting, but if I have learned one thing about a Governor’s Cabinet, they follow whatever the Governor says, which usually translates to what Rodel wants. Please don’t use words like celebrate at the same time teachers are facing unemployment. It is the ultimate insult.
If I needed any help remembering how lucky we are in Delaware to have such great educators, I got it Monday morning. Secretary Bunting and I visited Capital School District’s Hartly Elementary School and I asked the students why their teachers are special. Their rapid-fire answers were right on point:
What were the other answers provided by students? I have a very hard time believing that the majority of answers given by students in an elementary school were geared towards post-secondary education plans. But I’m sure the Rodel and Delaware Business Roundtable business types love these answers. Feed the beast!
“They make sure we’re ready for college.”
“Without them we wouldn’t know how to use decimal points.”
Okay, that’s a good answer.
“They’re helping us get good jobs some day.”
By standardize testing the hell out of these kids and forcing them to learn in digital technology classrooms, the state is robbing children of a true educational experience. This data collecting of children, geared towards shifting the workforce to select jobs for the future, is social engineering at its absolute worst Governor Carney. Please stop with the Markellian way of thinking and be your own man.
And my favorite:
“They teach us to care about each other.”
Awwww, that is so cute. Reminding teachers, as many prepare to get pink slips, that it is about the students and they should just shut up and share the sacrifice for the good of the state. And just so you know, many Delaware parents teach their children to care about each other. That isn’t solely owned by teachers. For many students, it is. But parents across the state play the main part in raising their children. So let’s not even get into the plans to transform education into a “public-private partnership”. Kids need to be in brick and mortar schools, not the local non-profits at younger ages.
Our kids get it. They know just how much you do and how invested you are in them.
Yeah, too bad our state isn’t invested in them. Too bad they aren’t invested in our students either. Unless you like having over 35 kids in a classroom. Tell me Governor Carney, how many kids were in YOUR classrooms when you went to school back in the day? But let’s keep paying for Smarter Balanced and all the Common Core bullshit. Let’s keep our classrooms wired at all times so corporations get those nice bottom line numbers at the expense of students. Let’s let the data whores continue to collect private information on our students through their iPhones and Google Chrome. Schools, teachers, and students are not “investments”. Those are corporate education reform words. Yes, the children are the future, but by putting them in terms of financial gain, you insult every single child in this state.
I hope you were able to join us on April 27, when we hosted a Telephone Town Hall with Delaware educators to discuss issues around public education in Delaware. Specifically, we discussed education and our state budget.
I was on that call. Most town halls end when the questions run out. But not on your schedule Governor Carney.
This is an important discussion, and I will continue to listen to educators during school visits across Delaware. We face a $400 million budget shortfall, but I remain dedicated to each of you and your students.
Dedication is more than “listening”. It means making damn sure any sacrifice stays the hell out of the classroom. But you can’t do that, can you? Let’s pray our General Assembly finally and collectively says NO to your horrible budget proposal.
Our plan is to fix our structural deficit, and get to a place where we can again invest in areas that will move our state forward: early childhood education, arts, additional supports for at-risk students, health and wellness, and after-school programing, to name a few.
The key wording is “get to a place”. That means you want to kick the can down the road, which Delaware is fantastic at doing. Your predecessor was excellent in that regard. “Invest now” all too often means “pay the price later”. No child should pay the price for adult decisions. If you want to fix the structural deficit, how about you actually go after delinquent property taxes? Sign an Executive Order demanding the counties exert pressure on those who feel they don’t have to pay at all! Like the Chinese company that owes Red Clay over a million bucks in back property taxes. Or the golf club in Middletown that likes to play games with Appoquinimink. Make sure our State Auditor has the ability to properly audit our schools and see where every single penny in Delaware education funding is REALLY going. Cause we both know there is foul play going on in some circumstances. But turning a blind eye to that has helped to lead us to where we are at now.
All Delaware students deserve a quality education, and an equal opportunity to succeed. And I know you work hard every day to deliver on that promise. Thank you for all you do.
All Delaware students do deserve a quality education. But not your definition of it. And let’s not even get into this “weighted funding” nonsense. We both know what that is really about Governor Carney, don’t we. If I were you, I would give considerable thought in the next week to revising your proposed budget. Because if you truly care about students, this is not the way to go. I tried to give you a chance and have faith in you. I have yet to see you live up to that promise. Tax the rich more. Seriously. That is the best way to start.
Kevin Ohlandt, the blogger who is getting sick of public education being a sacrificial lamb to the likes of Rodel and the Delaware Business Roundtable in the name of corporate profit and social engineering.
Today, the Rodel Teacher Council gave a presentation to the Delaware State Board of Education with policy recommendations for their Personalized Learning Blueprint. I’ve written about them before and actually received a bit of heat from a few of their membership. These aren’t bad people or bad teachers. I truly believe they have been brainwashed into the corporate education reform movement. Some may not even realize it. But what they came out with today for their State Board presentation literally frightens me and makes me wonder more than ever where public education is heading. I have to wonder if the State Board of Education would ever allow those who are against this kind of thing to give a presention to them.
This presentation has all the education reform buzz words in it: Personalized Learning, Blended Learning, Competency-Based Education, Micro Credentials, Seat-Time, Social and Emotional Learning, Waivers, Assessment, and Standards. To break it down, under these models the eventual goal is what is known as “stealth assessments”, the state assessment broken down in chunks at the end of each unit. The student can’t move on until they “master” the material provided to them from their digital technology. Predicting the future here, I imagine Delaware will eventually incorporate some kind of “digital badge” the student would get once they “master” the material (Colorado is at the forefront of this ridiculousness). Meanwhile, all the data from this ed tech is going to vendors galore. Personal and private data, every single keystroke.
So why are Delaware educators jumping on this bandwagon when it will eventually lead to the demise of the public school teacher? Your guess is as good as mine. Special standing, power, incentive for future mobility in their profession? Perhaps they are blind to how their actions today will lead to the end of their professional world as we know it. The fact that ANY Delaware school district teacher would get behind something with the Rodel name in it makes me suspect. Very suspect. The fact this council is going before the State Board of Education after they went to some legislators earlier this month makes me very worried. Worried that legislation is coming that will allow this Rodel Vision of Educational Paradise.
Make no mistake. This has been in the planning stages for years. And it will get a huge push in states once Blockchain Technology really gets going. And Delaware will be at the forefront of that initiative. People read stuff like this from me and some say I am wearing a tin hat or engaging in conspiracy theory. Let them. They said the same thing when I said Delaware’s Assessment Inventory Committee was just a big distraction from opt out and would produce nothing worthwhile. I said that before the legislation even passed which created that committee.
What is Governor Carney’s role in all this? I don’t think he has an original thought on any of this. I think his staff tells him what to do. Many of those staff members are fully aligned with this Rodelian future and have been for quite a while.
To read what the Rodel Teacher Council (aka Rodel) wants policy-makers in Delaware to subscribe to, please read the document below.
Yesterday, the Delaware Economic Forecast Advisory Committee (DEFAC) projected Delaware’s budget deficit for Fiscal Year 2018 to be $395 million dollars. This is up ten million from the last time the committee met. Tonight, the Christina Board of Education will discuss the impact on taxpayers. Governor Carney is suggesting school boards raise what is known as the match tax (the portion the state matches certain funding) by having the district school boards levy the tax without a referendum.
Christina’s Chief Financial Officer, Bob Silber, created an impact budget for how this increase would hit taxpayers. In the below example, a home that just sold for $224,000 would see their property taxes raised $46.50 with the match tax scenario. Keep in mind, this is based on the property assessment value of $63,700, which is almost a quarter of the home’s actual value based on the sale price.
This is not the only sting homeowners, as well as all Delaware citizens, will feel starting July 1st. State taxes, collected from paychecks, will go up for most. State employees will see higher insurance rates. Salary raises for state employees will most likely disappear. Services will be cut. It is all rather bleak. Our General Assembly has utilized every single benefit to state funding, such as the proceeds from the tobacco lawsuit, without realizing those perks were eventually going to disappear. State revenue does not match state expenses. Companies, such as DuPont and soon Barclays, left Delaware for the most part, causing a severe lack of revenue and jobs. Delaware has, and will continue to, spend more than it makes.
With the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission, there was a request to raise property assessment values. While Delaware’s assessment values are still far lower than most states, it also created an influx of senior citizens moving to The First State because of that. But the ability of school boards to raise property taxes, already through the special education tuition tax and soon the match tax, could have a negative impact on the desire of the elderly to move to Delaware or even stay here.
Meanwhile, there has been no action on the Governor’s part to institute the basic special education funding for students in Kindergarten to 3rd Grade. State Rep. Kim Williams introduced two bills in the last two General Assemblies to take care of this but neither bill has moved forward due to the state funding issues. Oblivious to all the future costs by not having this essential funding in place, our state continues to bumble through special education with this very real omission to the foundation of special education students who are just beginning to manifest their disabilities. The projected amount to fund what should have always been there is a little bit less than $13 million a year. By not providing that funding, the state relies on the school districts or charter schools to pay for these services. Either way, it has a negative effect. If the school does provide those services, it results in more of a drain on local funding. If the school doesn’t, they are not only breaking special education law if the child qualifies for an Individualized Education Program, but they are also looking at higher costs for that student in the future by not providing that foundation. So that $13 million a year mushrooms to much higher costs for these students down the road.
Just this morning, State Rep. Earl Jaques announced a new bill on Facebook creating a fund in the Delaware Dept. of Education budget for an Educational Support Professional of the Year award. Delaware has 16 school districts, 3 vocational districts, and over 20 charter schools. This bill would allow each district (20, which includes one award for all the charters) to give their winner an extra $1000.00. The overall winner would get $1,500.00. While $21,500 in the DOE budget doesn’t amount to much, it is symptomatic of the mindset of far too many of our legislators. Instead of finding solutions, too many of them find ways to spend even more money. If our state was swimming in money, I would be okay with this bill. But not now.
Delaware’s legislature is going to have their hands full when they return from Spring Break next Tuesday. This budget deficit is not the result of a national recession like what we faced in 2009. This is Delaware created. We spent our way out of the recession and now we are paying the piper. Governor Carney looks like a deer running towards headlights with his reactions to this ever-increasing budget deficit. I predict he will have a very tough time getting re-elected in 2020 if this trend continues.
The Delaware General Assembly returns today! It was supposed to happen yesterday, but the impending doom of the snowstorm that didn’t quite live up to its potential postponed the return. Today is Committee day! House Bill 50 WILL be heard in the House Education Committee today. Say what? Didn’t former Governor Jack Markell veto that bill? Continue reading “House Bill 50 To Be Heard In House Education Committee Today…. Say What?”
Tom Wagner is going to have a VERY busy 2017. Why? Because I’m going to make sure he does. Everyone and their mother is talking about education funding and how to change it. But all of these funding advocates aren’t bringing up in the elephant in the room. Do our districts and charters in Delaware spend the money they already have for the benefit of children? Is that foremost in their minds when they spend their money?
Indian River School District, Family Foundations Academy, Delaware Military Academy, Academy of Dover, Providence Creek Academy, Odyssey Charter School, Sussex Academy, Charter School of Wilmington, Delaware Academy of Public Safety & Security, Delaware College Prep, Kuumba Academy, and Pencader Business School have all been investigated by the auditor’s office and found to have some pretty major financial issues. The extremes, outright theft of tens, if not hundreds, of dollars which should be going toward the kids. And they were the ones that got caught.
I believe, no, make that KNOW there are others. I’ve been investigating an educational establishment the past few weeks. You can ask, but I won’t tell you who. There are not enough flags that would trigger an audit by Wagner’s office. So I will create those flags and I will plant right in the middle of Wagner’s office. The days of playing with school funds are over. And if anyone should start to feel bold, I’ve made arrangements to make sure information gets out no matter what.
We live in complicated times with no clear direction of what is up and what is down. This is the world we have created. We can sit and talk about education until the cows come home but we have already slaughtered those cows and served them for dinner. Everyone wants to feast on the scraps. Tom Wagner’s office is, by law, supposed to audit every single school district in Delaware. But he can’t. Because our General Assembly won’t fund his office to do the work needed to hold our districts accountable for how they spend money. Which is why I find it VERY ironic that certain charters and districts want to go after certain things in their quest for more money. I find that to be completely despicable and if it continues I will not rest until that conversation ends. Because NOTHING would tick me off more than something going forward with one particular certain thing. If you thought I was a pain in the ass about opt out, that will be an episode of Romper Room compared to THAT. Out of respect, I am not going to make that public at this point but it is a fair warning. And I will say it is not even remotely connected with the charter school lawsuit against Christina and the Delaware DOE.
So, Tom Wagner, my plan is to keep you so busy that you will have no other option than begging the General Assembly to beef up your staff. And I will have an apparatus so this won’t just be talk coming from you. Our General Assembly will be VERY aware why you are so busy.
Someone has to get in the dirty and ugly trenches and dig around. That’s me. If you don’t like it, too bad. If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to worry about. If it isn’t good for kids it isn’t right. As for Wagner, there is one thing you need to resolve once and for all. We both know what it is. I’ve dug around in that abyss as well. And it reeks of corruption. The tide is high.
Red Clay taxpayers beware: You might get a sticker shock on a future tax bill! The Delaware Department of Education issued a Request For Proposal on November 28th for a “time sensitive” Facilities Condition Evaluation of all the Christina schools based in Wilmington. While I initially thought this could have been related to Christina’s recent mold issues, I found this went much deeper than that. Is this some type of surprise announcement that will come in John Carney’s State of the State address?
The schools that will be evaluated are Bancroft Elementary School, Bayard Middle School, Elbert Palmer Elementary School, Pulaski Elementary School, Stubbs Elementary School, Douglass School, and the Sarah Pyle Academy. Even the district office at the Drew Education Support Center is on the list! The smoking gun is this part:
Develop cost estimates to bring each of the above listed facilities to a similar state and with the same control systems such as building controls, camera systems, keysets, alarm, access control, phones, tech. infrastructure (switches), and wifi as Highlands Elementary School, 2100 Gilpin Avenue; Shortledge Elementary School, 100 West 18th Street; Lewis Dual Language Elementary School, 920 North Van Buren Street; Baltz Elementary School, 1500 Spruce Avenue; and DuPont Middle School, 3130 Kennett Pike.
Those are all Red Clay schools. If this were just some random facilities evaluation, there is no way there would be something to bring Christina schools up to Red Clay specifications. There is going to be a big move coming soon!
Identical to the process and methodology followed for typical school facilities assessment work, the assessment will identify any potential issues related to major building systems and building components such as the building envelope/structure, roofing, HVAC/mechanical, electrical, plumbing, fire protection, telecommunications, and security systems as well as any site improvements required to the immediate surrounding area for building access. Data generated from this effort will:
• Evaluate the above listed schools in 1. facility condition indices as compared to RCCSD facilities as listed in 2.
• Identify and prioritize required short and long term improvements
• Identify code compliance, accessibility and system coordination issues requiring immediate attention
• Identify potential energy conservation opportunities
But does the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission know about this? They are having a regular commission meeting next Wednesday at Warner Elementary School. If they don’t, boy are they in for a surprise!
As well, it looks like the Delaware Autism Program could be shifted to Red Clay as well:
Prepare a design analysis for the Christina Administrative space, Douglas Alternative School, Sarah Pyle Program and Delaware Autism Program as currently located in one of the buildings listed above.
Who is the driving force behind this? If it is John Carney, he may want to open with a huge splash by finally giving the civil rights advocates in Wilmington their hearts desire. But if this is his move, it would also be a huge smack in the face to the Red Clay taxpayers. Carney was very wishey-washey during his campaign about what he would do with the WEIC redistricting plan. He hinted at liking some of it but not all of it. But WEIC Chair Tony Allen is on his transition team. If Carney pulls this off without the General Assembly he risks alienating many of State Reps and Senators. Which may not work out in his favor with the special election for Bethany Hall-Long’s seat. That race will determine whether the Democrats or Republicans control the Delaware Senate.
Another option is Governor Jack Markell. With the time sensitive status around this and a due date for bids of December 13th, could he have the gumption to stick it to Christina one last time before he leaves office? While ticking off the taxpayers at the same time?
The RFP was authored by a Renee Harris. The only thing I found on her while doing a Google search and a State of Delaware search was related to the Tobacco Settlement from the Delaware Attorney General’s office.
No matter what this is, it is going to be something that will change the Wilmington education landscape. There is absolutely no way the DOE would issue an RFP like this without something waiting in the wings. The WEIC redistricting plan was put on hold for a year. The state isn’t overflowing in cash right now either.
**UPDATED** 12:35pm, 12/2/16: Senate Bill 300 with House Amendment 1 was what allowed the WEIC Redistricting Plan to survive. But there is key language in the amendment put forth by State Rep. Kim Williams:
The amendment removes language obligating the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission and affected school districts to develop, before February 2017, a detailed assessment of the impact of transitioning City of Wilmington Students from the Christina School District to the Red Clay Consolidated School District. Such detailed assessment would require development of school- and student-level changes that require public input and facility analysis that cannot be completed in the timeframes in the original bill. Instead, they should be undertaken as part of the planning phase for redistricting upon commitment of necessary and sufficient funding. The amendment preserves appropriation of $200,000 to continue the work related to the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission, including analysis of fiscal impacts, and language clarifying and ensuring that any additional state funding requires further action of the General Assembly.
That date of February 2017 flies in the face of this RFP. I would strongly consider a “Facilities Evaluation” part of a “detailed assessment of the impact…” for the WEIC plan. The amendment does not include the Delaware DOE though. But the original WEIC bills from 2015 do not give the Delaware DOE to have this much involvement. Something is happening…
**UPDATED** 2:04pm, 12/2/16: If you read the fiscal note for Senate Bill 200, it states the following:
- This Act is effective upon signature of the Governor.
- This Act provides a supplemental appropriation of $200,000 to establish the Wilmington Redistricting Transition Fund to assess the fiscal impact of transitioning City of Wilmington students from the Christina School District to the Red Clay Consolidated School District. The funding is to be used by the Red Clay Consolidated School District, in consultation with the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission and the Christina School District, for the assessment in which said assessment is to be substantially completed on or before January 31, 2017.
- This Act also establishes a working group to review the fiscal impact assessment that is prepared by the Red Clay Consolidated School District in consultation with the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission and the Christina School District. The Department of Education is to provide staff support to the working group, upon request, and it is assumed that the Department will provide this support within existing resources. The working group shall submit its review by March 31, 2017 to the Governor, Speaker of the House of Representatives and President Pro Tempore of the Senate.
- Funding is set aside in the Fiscal Year 2017 budget process in the amount of $200,000.
But once again, that due date was changed based on House Amendment #1 to the bill. So, once again, why is the DOE issuing an RFP with a submission due date for bids of 12/13/16 and labeling this as “time sensitive”? The key words in the amendment are this- “commitment of necessary and sufficient” funding. The amendment states this work should not take place until a time when that commitment is assured. No budget proposal will come out until towards the end of January. And a budget proposal does nothing until the General Assembly approves it. So even if folks are saying this is part of the $200,000 allocated to WEIC as a result of SB300, it appears the amendment is being completely ignored. The bill was dead before the amendment. The amendment saved WEIC. I am not convinced of anything I am hearing at this point. Whomever is directing these actions is breaking the law.
**UPDATED** 2:16pm, 12/2/16: Upon further analysis of the above amendment, it states the type of work included in this RFP should be done during the “planning phase” of the redistricting plan. As per the plan approved by the State Board of Education, the timeline consists of the following:
• December 17, 2015 to June 30, 2016 Approval Stage
• July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2017 Planning Stage
• July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2018 Transition Stage
• July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2019 Implementation Stage
But because the General Assembly did not pass the legislation that would make the redistricting plan happen, they instead bumped it up a year. So the Planning Stage of July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2017 is no longer in place. The amendment is very clear about what should happen during this stage. That planning stage can’t begin again until July 1, 2017 if the General Assembly allows for that to happen based on signed legislation. I’m just a blogger without the legal expertise the WEIC and DOE attorneys would have. But if I can clearly see that the law is not being followed, they would assuredly know.
To read the RFP, please read below:
A month ago, I participated in a forum on Delaware education funding at the monthly Progressive Democrats for Delaware meeting. State Representative Paul Baumbach from the 23rd Rep District also discussed the issue. Baumbach is very supportive of implementing a weighted education funding formula in Delaware. Last Winter, Baumbach and then Deputy Secretary of Education David Blowman presented a report on a weighted funding system to the Education Funding Improvement Commission. That commission was unable to get a consensus on any particular funding apparatus and ended the 148th General Assembly with no final report. The WEIC redistricting plan also called for implementation of a weighted funding system.
Education funding, with implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act, will take center stage in 2017. As more and more citizens realize the system we have now is not working for all students, attempts at fixing the problems will appear. The Wilmington Education Improvement Commission and their redistricting plan for Wilmington Christina School District students is still bubbling under the surface. Last night, Christina’s board voted 4-3 to settle on a lawsuit filed against them and the Delaware Dept. of Education by 15 charter schools that receive students from Christina. The charters claim Christina was filing exclusions that were “improper” to the Delaware DOE and the DOE signed off on them. While the settlement has not been made public, it will assuredly have an impact on local funding formulas going forward.
Baumbach’s plan is to have more money go to students with higher needs, such as low-income or poverty, English Language Learners, and students with disabilities. Currently, students with disabilities do receive additional funding based on a unit-count system (with the exception of basic special education for students in Kindergarten to 3rd grade). This system determines how much staff each district or charter school receive based on their September 30th count of students. With the funding system Baumbach is pushing for, the money would follow the student based on their needs. Another question involving this funding system is if Talented and Gifted students would be considered high need as well.
This is not equality funding but equity funding. Schools who have less sub-groups of students with higher needs would receive less money. Final accountability regulations for ESSA will require each public school in America to show the amount of funding per student based on local, state, and federal funding. The biggest problem with education funding in Delaware is property assessments. No county in Delaware has increased their property assessments in decades resulting in severe imbalances to what the current assessed values would be. As well, referenda held by school districts have had mixed results. Adding to this mix is the potential of school vouchers coming to Delaware if President Donald Trump and his pick for U.S. Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, get their way. Baumbach argued against a bill that would allow vouchers for special education students last Spring and stated it would be a violation of Delaware’s Constitution to send state funds to a religious private school. Trump also announced he wants to incentivize new charter schools across America. Capital costs for school buildings is also a major issue. Delaware has many outdated schools that have serious structural issues with the recent Christina mold problem as a glaring example.
Baumbach will most likely bring forth legislation in 2017 to change how we fund our schools. As well, there is increasing talk in Delaware about re-examining property assessments. Some state officials have even suggested consolidating school districts to save money, possibly to a county school district system with New Castle County having two districts based on the population.
For my part, I can’t support ANY changes to our education funding system until we can get more assurances the money we are already spending is used with fidelity and honesty. The recent audit investigation into Indian River showed very clearly that this district was not being honest. We’ve had far too many Delaware charter school leaders and employees committing major fraud with funds that are not getting to students. Our state auditor is supposed to audit each school district every year and publish the results. This is not happening. Charter school annual audits, usually, do not have the ability to catch financial fraud. The State Auditor of Accounts Office, run by Tom Wagner, is massively understaffed. Why in the world would we dump more money into education when we can’t accurately keep track of the money already there? This is the viewpoint of many conservatives in Delaware, but more on the left are also waking up to a reality that can no longer be ignored.
As the chief legislative advocate for a weighted funding system, Baumbach will have his hands full in the first six months of 2017. If the Republicans manage to take control of the Delaware Senate after the special election for Bethany Hall-Long’s Senate seat, the voucher conversation will become very loud at Legislative Hall. Tony Allen also warned that time is running out to fix education for Wilmington students and advocates may file a federal lawsuit against Delaware which could leave education funding and districting in the hands of a federal judge. The icing on this education funding cake is the very flawed measurement of success for Delaware schools- the standardized test. If we use them as a barometer of success or need, the system will continue to be a confusing mess with no end in sight.
No matter how you slice and dice money for education, no system will please everyone. This has become painfully obvious. We need to look at what is best for Delaware students and not those of corporations who seek to profit from education. As corporate education reform is more embedded in our schools, more administrators are implementing the very bad policies from those reformers thus turning them into profiteers of education. Yeah, Baumbach is going to have a big fight on his hands with any legislation involving this system!
To read the final report conducted by Hanover Research for the Delaware DOE on a weighted funding system, please read below:
Christina School District board member John Young announced on Facebook the Christina Board of Education will be holding an impromptu board meeting on November 30th. The purpose of the meeting: to go into executive session and then briefly come out in public session to possibly vote on a settlement in the lawsuit filed against Christina and the Delaware Dept. of Education. The suit was filed by 15 charter schools in early October who “claim” they weren’t getting their rightful share of Christina’s local funds and the Delaware DOE allowed this to happen.
I have a gazillion questions surrounding this.
Was this a settlement brought to Christina from the Charter cabal?
Was this a settlement offered by Christina to the Charter cabal?
Is the Delaware DOE part of this settlement?
Should Christina settle?
If they settle, would this cost less than a long drawn-out court battle and they won?
If they lost the court battle, would the judgment against Christina be less than what the charters want?
Why would Christina settle if their CFO Bob Silber said they did nothing wrong?
If they settled, is that an admission of guilt and would Silber resign?
What is the DOE’s role if this does go to court?
If Christina went to court and won could a judge rule the charters have to pay Christina’s attorney fees?
If Christina did settle would that mean the local funding formula would be how the charters wanted it at the beginning of the school year?
What do the legislators think of this news?
Is Betsy DeVos behind any of this? (of course not, but never hurts to ask)
If (and this is a BIG IF) Dr. Robert Andrzejewski becomes the next Delaware Secretary of Education, would this be seen as him clearing the deck for his stint in Dover? Would it be ethical for him to even entertain a settlement if this is the plan?
Christina doesn’t have an agenda up for this emergency meeting at this point, but I would guess it is coming shortly. As I reported a while ago, it appears the Longwood Foundation is paying for the charter school cabal’s attorney fees. And if I know the ringleader of all this (think Greg Meece), I can’t picture him wanting to all of a sudden settle on this. Could a third-party (say, a recently elected Governor John Carney) have reached out to everyone involved and basically said “work this out, I don’t want to start my stint with all this in the air”?
I need more details on this. I think Christina’s board should let it ALL out in their “brief” public session on Wednesday night.
Now that is a 3G network I would like to see tomorrow! Sean Goward for Governor! Scott Gesty for Congress! La Mar Gunn for Lieutenant Governor! I can pretty much guarantee if you pick the droll and predictable John Carney, Lisa Blunt Rochester, and Bethany Hall-Long you will get exactly more of the same. If Gesty had to lose, I would hope it isn’t with an LBR victory but a Hans Reigle one. We need change in Delaware, and we need it NOW! I know, the odds of all this happening are not in my favor, but a guy can dream, right? Yes, two Libertarians for big roles : Delaware Governor and Congress, and a Republican for Lt. Governor!
Watching La Mar Gunn preside over the Delaware Senate would be a lot of fun to watch! Sometimes watching the Delaware Senate is about as exciting as getting a tooth extracted. Watching Goward hold everyone accountable would be awesome! That guy will make Delaware great again! And watching Gesty in Congress would be incredible!
For the Delaware State Reps and Senators, I believe my dream victories are fairly transparent, but some of these may shock you. For the House, I want A LOT of new faces but it is important we keep the good ones! For the Senate, I will be upfront and say I want the Republicans to win the Delaware Senate. 42 years of control on one side is too much.
Kim Williams (19th Rep District) (D)
Sean Matthews (10th Rep District) (D)
John Kowalko (25th Rep District) (D)
Meredith Chapman (8th Senate District) (R)
Sean Lynn (31st Rep District) (D)
Andria Bennett (32nd Rep District) (D)
Jeff Spiegelman (34th Rep District) (R)
James Spadola (1st Senate District) (R)
Denise Bowers (5th Senate District) (D)
Patti Blevins (7th Senate District) (D)
Carl Pace (14th Senate District) (R)
Gerald Hocker (20th Senate District) (R)
Kevin Hensley (9th Rep District) (R)
James DeMartino (14th Rep District) (R)
Barbara Vaughn (20th Rep District) (D)
David McCorquodale (21st Rep District) (Green)
Lanette Edwards (22nd Rep District) (D)
Jimmy Brittingham (39th Rep District) (L)
Edward Osienski (24th Rep District) (D)
Trey Paradee (29th Rep District) (D)
Karen Williams (33rd Rep District) (D)
David Henderson (34th Rep District) (D)
Gary Wolfe (35th Rep District) (D)
Paulette Rappa (37th Rep District) (D)
What is interesting are my picks for the Senate have a lot of Republicans but Democrats in the House. I’m sure I will be severely disappointed around 10pm tomorrow evening! But nothing will pale in comparison to the Presidential election. Cause no matter how you slice it, we are screwed with either one of them. And remember America: You asked for it! I don’t think it will be the doom and gloom many are predicting if either of them win, but I have no doubt we can anticipate major issues in America. And as God is my witness, if Hillary wins and picks a certain Governor for the U.S. Secretary of Education, I will personally make sure every single U.S. Senator hears from me along with legions of witnesses, supporters of a low-jack movement, and anyone I can get to make their voice heard loud and clear. If you think Arne Duncan or John King suck, you don’t want Jack-Jack as the next Secretary of Education in America. He smiles when he stabs students and teachers in the back!
Let the countdown begin!
Last year, the Delaware General Assembly passed House Bill 56 which created a moratorium on new charter school applications in the City of Wilmington until June 30th, 2018 or until the State Board of Education came up with a strategic plan to deal with charter schools in the city. This was signed by Governor Markell on May 5th, 2015. As of today, no strategic plan has come forth.
This bill provides a moratorium on all new charter schools in Delaware until June 30, 2018 or until the State Board of Education develops a strategic plan for the number of charter, district, and vocational-technical schools in the State. Also, the bill requires review and comment from Wilmington’s Mayor and City Council before either a local school district or the Department of Education approves a charter in the City of Wilmington. Lastly, the bill requires the local school board’s approval for a charter school in the City of Wilmington before the Department of Education can approve the charter school.
An amendment was placed on the bill:
The amendment clarifies that the Mayor and the City Council of Wilmington may review and provide comment on applications by charter schools seeking to locate in the City of Wilmington before the school is authorized by the relevant approving authority. It also clarifies that no new charter schools will be authorized to open in the City of Wilmington prior to June 30, 2018 or the development of a statewide strategic plan for specialized public educational opportunities; those charter schools already authorized will be able to open as planned.
While this bill was desperately needed at the time, one of the major failings of the bill was not addressing enrollment issues at already existing Wilmington charter schools. Several new charter schools opened in Wilmington over a two year time span in years 2014-2015 and 2015-2016. Other charters closed down. Meanwhile, other charters submitted modifications to increase or decrease their enrollment. This causes havoc with education funding which is already a beast.
Yesterday, I broke the news that Prestige Academy is slated to become a part of the EastSide empire. But given that the board of Prestige already wrote a letter indicating they would not seek charter renewal for next year and no part of the renewal process has gone forth since that letter, wouldn’t the school becoming a part of EastSide technically be a new charter school? Whatever the intention with Prestige Academy might be, it needs to be publicly addressed now. When Family Foundations Academy became a part of EastSide, it was done with no public ability to comment on the move and was announced at a State Board of Education meeting. Negotiations took place behind the scenes with no transparency whatsoever. By adding a sole-standing charter school into a conglomerate of other charter schools, it essentially changes the entire corporate make-up of a charter school. And for those who aren’t aware, charter schools are considered to be corporations in Delaware.
Charter school modifications have a ripple effect not only on traditional school districts in the area, but also other charter schools. We saw this play into the fates of the Delaware Met, Delaware STEM Academy, Prestige Academy, Delaware Design-Lab High School, and Freire Charter School of Wilmington. All faced enrollment issues which resulted in either closure or a formal review for those enrollment issues with the exception of Delaware Met. For Delaware Met, they were woefully unprepared to open the school and students suffered as a result. There is certainly a correlation between the charters that received approval for larger enrollments and other charters who had less students this year.
I would like to see our 149th General Assembly continue this moratorium on new charter schools in Wilmington but add a few more items to it. Any charter school modification needs to be given the same weight in terms of approval by Wilmington City Council and the local school district. On November 1st, the Delaware Department of Education will begin accepting applications for new charter schools to open in the 2018-2019 school year. These issues need to be addressed by our legislators before the State Board of Education may begin approving more charter schools next April, not only in Wilmington, but the entire state.
I also urge the 149th General Assembly to firmly address the issues of inequity at Newark Charter School, Charter School of Wilmington, Delaware Military Academy, Odyssey Charter School, and Sussex Academy. As well as some of the magnet schools and vo-tech schools in the state. We can no longer move forward in the 21st Century with the severe inequities across our schools that represent a face of discrimination and de-facto segregation. Delaware needs to be better than that. We are still waiting on the Office of Civil Rights to address these issues based on the complaint from the Delaware American Civil Liberties Union and Delaware Community Legal Aid. The OCR has been sitting on this since it went to them in December of 2014, almost two years ago. The reliance of standardized test scores on all Delaware schools has been extremely punitive to schools that have much larger populations of high-needs students, especially in the City of Wilmington and the greater Newark area.
No one stood up for parents more than Delaware State Rep. John Kowalko in the 148th General Assembly. As the prime House sponsor on House Bill 50, the opt out bill, Rep. Kowalko fought for months to ensure that a parent’s fundamental rights to opt their child out of the state assessment was honored. Furthermore, it would have stopped schools or the state from punishing a child for having a parent opt them out. Ultimately, the bill overwhelmingly passed the House and Senate but Governor Markell vetoed the bill. An attempt to override the veto failed when the legislators came back in 2016.
John Kowalko is the rake at the gates of hell when it comes to standing up to Jack Markell on education. He is not afraid to go against the establishment when he knows in his heart those choices are not good for kids. He has always been about looking out for the little guy. He will not vote yes on the state budget if it means those with the highest needs will do without. I respect that immensely. Because of his stances and how he makes noise, he runs into opposition constantly in the General Assembly. We need more legislators who can be vocal and won’t bow down to leadership.
Kowalko’s opponent has failed to give me any reason to support him. If anything, he sounds a lot like John Kowalko but much less experienced. I have never subscribed to this Delaware Way theory of “getting along to go along.” I compare it to being a part of the race without realizing you are being dragged by the horse on the way to the finish line. We don’t need more of that in Dover. We need more like Kowalko! Some will call me crazy and believe that John Kowalko is unable to get along with his peers. I think it is the other way around. Too many are unwilling to get along with Kowalko because they know he is right and that if they allied themselves with him it wouldn’t be the best for their own personal agendas. The will of the people in Delaware should be the biggest priority of our General Assembly. But private interests and political power rule the day. Until we get more John Kowalkos in the General Assembly, we will continue to play this status quo game. And that is NOT good for Delaware.
At the end of the day, Kowalko is about doing what is right. Yes, he utilizes the press every chance he can to get his message out to the people. It is not self-serving. It is so enough people can hear what he is saying to help the people. I endorse John Kowalko for the 25th Rep. District in Newark. I urge citizens in this district to re-elect John Kowalko so we have another voice of reason in the Delaware 149th General Assembly.
In the past week, I have heard from several parents in our state that their children are not getting into AP or advanced classes based on either their Smarter Balanced scores or the fact that their parents opted them out of the test. This is a horrible idea. Some of these students are straight A students. What the hell is wrong with these Principals and Superintendents who are making these foolish decisions? While I won’t name schools or districts due to the privacy of these families, I think these actions are abusive on unheard of levels.
When did Smarter Balanced become the barometer of student success in Delaware? The sole purpose of this test is to understand where our children compare to each other, so we can reduce the so-called achievement gaps. Now it is turning into a punitive measurement tool and it is affecting many lives. What kind of sick and twisted crap is this? Who is mandating this? Is it the Delaware DOE or the districts themselves? The Smarter Balanced Assessment is a fraudulent test. It is horrible and how anyone can think this test in any way should decide what classes a student takes needs to take a look at what true education is all about.
We are gearing our kids toward this ridiculous notion of “rigor” at a very early age in Delaware. I get that children need to read at earlier ages. But the way we are going about it, by taking away play time and stripping these innocent children from the very creativity which allows them to grow as a human being is truly sad.
Every single parent of a Delaware student this is happening to needs to be very loud and vocal. They need to tell the school Principal this is unacceptable. If the Principal doesn’t bend, go to the Superintendent. If the Superintendent doesn’t bend, go to the School Board. Go to the State Board of Education. Go to the media. Write letters to the editor of your local newspapers, Delaware State News, and the News Journal. Spread this to everyone you know on Facebook and other social media. Email your friends and family about this. Nothing in Delaware ever changes unless the people speak. And on this issue, parents MUST speak. And for those parents who don’t have kids in AP classes, if they are doing this to those students, just imagine how they are classifying other kids. The best thing you can all do is opt out in mass numbers to make this waste of a test invalid. That is the greatest option to end the destruction of public education. You need to advocate for your child. You are their parent. If they are a victim of this insane testing abuse, you have to speak up for them. Do not believe the lies far too many schools, districts, education non-profits like Rodel, and certain legislators are telling you.
It’s bad enough the Delaware DOE endorses ethical trickery with parents who try to opt their kids out. It’s bad enough the Smarter Balanced Assessment students take isn’t the same test for every student (which in my mind makes this test worth less than fools gold). But now we have this. This is a state assessment. Not a district mandated, or even school related assessment. It was created by the state for state usage. It should have absolutely no bearing on a student’s classroom progress. Using Smarter Balanced as a competency-based model of student achievement is not a good idea at all.
Can you imagine how students feel, who try their best in school, only to be victimized because of a once a year test? The heartbreak they feel, like they just aren’t good enough. This is what Delaware education has become, a travesty of epic proportions. We have turned the Smarter Balanced Assessment into the center of education. If it isn’t data walls, it’s accountability. If it isn’t libraries closing for weeks at a time, it is teacher evaluations based on this wretched test. If it isn’t state special education ratings from the feds, it’s standards-based IEPs designed to “help” kids do better on this test. If it isn’t reshuffling of classrooms to have high-performing SBAC students help low-performing SBAC students, it’s fighting parents when they don’t want their kids taking the test. If it isn’t students with disabilities being forced to take this test for 2-3 times longer than their peers, it’s the State Board of Education passing opt-out penalties in their school report card accountability joke. This is NOT the best test Delaware ever made, despite Governor Markell’s comments to the contrary.
When the 149th General Assembly reconvenes in January, their top priority needs to be setting firm laws dictating what this test can and can’t be used for. They also need to finish the job with opt out and codify a parent’s right to opt their child out of these punitive tests without penalty to the student in any way, whether it is AP classes, graduation, summer school, standards-based IEPs, abuse by administration, or denying a student the ability to choice to another school. This could have been written into law last January. I warned them then this issue was only going to get worse. My advice was unheeded by the majority of them. Those that supported the override attempt know the real deal. Those who didn’t need to seriously rethink their position on this.
And for any school in this state that has any type of data wall up in classrooms or anywhere in your schools with student names on them, take them down now. The days of shaming students for a state assessment are done. If any parent sees these data walls in any school, please take a picture of them and send them to me at email@example.com and I will file a Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) complaint the very same day. I will need to know the name of the school and the district. I am in the process of filing a few of these today.
The abuse of students in this state needs to stop. These are children, not testing guinea pigs for the data freaks. Is this really what education is about? Mental torture of children? All in the name of progress and accountability. I don’t think so. People wonder why I am so passionate about education. This is the main reason. What we are doing to kids. We are destroying the future.