Moment of Truth for 8 Delaware Charter Schools

On December 20th, the State Board of Education will decide on seven charter school renewals at their monthly meeting after hearing the decision by Delaware Secretary of Education Dr. Susan Bunting.  Meanwhile, the Red Clay Consolidated School District Board of Education will decide on Charter School of Wilmington’s charter renewal.  Two charters want a ten-year renewal.  Two have submitted minor modification requests to decrease enrollment.  Yesterday, the Delaware DOE’s Charter School Office released the final reports for all seven charters up for renewal through their office.  Continue reading

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What The Heck Are Dynamic Learning Maps?

Who comes up with these names? Dynamic Learning Maps? Really?  When the U.S. Department of Education wants Delaware to implement changes, it is up to the Delaware Department of Education to come up with how they do it.  What does Delaware do?  They join a consortium with taxpayer dollars.  We now have the latest from the DOE, Dynamic Learning Maps.  What are they? Continue reading

State Board of Education To Discuss Big Regulation About Graduation & Diploma Requirements & Modified Diplomas

The Delaware State Board of Education will be meeting this Thursday, November 15th at Mispillion Elementary School in Milford for their monthly meeting.  Regulation 505 will be discussed by the State Board which will implement legislation from the past year of the General Assembly.

I would read through this very carefully because there are a lot of changes being made.  It is a meaty document!  If it is crossed out, they are doing away with it.  If it is underlined, that is new.  Many of these changes are a result of House Bill #287 which created the Diploma of Modified Standards and got rid of the dreaded Certificate of Performance.  Other changes are a result of legislation mandating credits in computer science, changes to Physical Education requirements, high school student transfers from out of state, and Student Success Plans.

If you wish to give public comment on the changes to Regulation 505, they are due by December 5th.  You can email them to the following: DOEregulations.comment@doe.k12.de.us

For those who might be wondering why the State Board of Education is meeting in Milford, House Bill #455 changed some things about the State Board.  One of those is that the State Board alternates meetings in different counties.  This began in September when they met in Appoquinimink.  Every other month they will hold a meeting in a different county.  During the other months they will meet at the Townsend Building in Dover.  Next month’s meeting will have the State Board of Ed deciding on all seven of the charter schools up for renewal.

 

It Is Time For DSEA To Regurgitate Themselves From The Bowels Of Rodel

I warned them.  Many times.  Sit at the table and you will be on the table.  The Delaware State Education Association was swallowed whole.  By who? Continue reading

Breaking News: DAPSS Is Closed Effective Immediately!!!!

Sources from the meeting at Delaware Academy of Public Safety and Security tonight are saying the Delaware charter school is shut down effective immediately.  Students have to find a new school to go to tomorrow.

Herb Sheldon and his ghost enrollments assuredly played a factor.  I can’t begin to stress how crazy this is.  He screwed over this school and now all the students will pay the price.

I’m sorry, but the Delaware Department of Education had to have some sense of how bad this was and the State Board of Education should have shut them down effective the end of the last school year.  At least that way students and families could have found new schools.  Instead, we have this.

I know folks tried to turn this ship around but it already hit the iceberg years ago.  I also feel bad for the staff who are unemployed as of tomorrow.  This has to hurt.  I know I wrote a ton about this the past year.  I really did hope they could turn it around.

Delaware State Board of Education Needs To Model The Michigan State Board of Education!

Competency-Based Education.  Rodel loves it!  And the Delaware Department of Education has been slowly letting districts transition into it.  But not enough Delaware parents even know what it means.  While Rodel pushes their agendas for it, the State Board of Education needs to take a very active role in examining what it means and what it can do.  In Michigan, it appears their State Board of Education has the ability to vote on grants.

Recently, the Michigan State Board of Education rejected a competency-based education grant brought forth by the Michigan legislature.  U.S. Parents Involved in Education lauded the decision:

Bi-partisan Vote to Protect Children, Parents & Teachers

Today, a bi-partisan group of the Michigan State Board of Education (SBE), voted down a grant program authorized by the Michigan legislature for Competency-Based Education (CBE). According to the State Superintendent, this is the first time SBE has not approved a grant program.

The Michigan Parents Involved in Education leadership would like to thank the Michigan State Board of Education for taking this bold step. We agree with the concerns expressed by Board members. We hope Michigan leadership will move ahead with a better strategy, engaging parents and teachers, before launching another faddish experiment on Michigan’s public school children.

Concerns expressed by the State Board included the distribution of authority, suggesting parents and community members should have a greater role in approving this dramatic change in educational process. Concern was also expressed that CBE will leverage technology and supplant teachers.

The SBE agreed CBE is an experiment, yet the grant requires school-wide implementation K-12 and a strong bias to express support for the educational practice. The grant program was approved as part of the legislative budget process, was not well publicized nor was it publicly vetted with public debate.

The Board wanted additional criteria defined in the grants, which the State Superintendent said they could not do, since the grants were specified in statute. We believe the criteria suggested by SBE members was appropriate and necessary to protect the best interests of children, parents and teachers. The State Superintendent said she would contact the Michigan Attorney General’s office to determine the next step.

I’m really happy to see this happening in Michigan.  Delaware would NEVER sneak anything into the budget process!  Yeah right!  This is what a State Board of Education should do.  The problem in Delaware is our State Board members are appointed by the Governor.  And the new Executive Director for the State Board of Education came directly from Rodel!  It would not shock me to see Competency-Based Education legislation coming next year in the Delaware General Assembly.  If they do, there will be a fight!

The Delaware DOE: The Support, Enforce, or Ignore Test

Delaware Secretary of Education Dr. Susan Bunting, under the policies of Delaware Governor John Carney, has transformed the Delaware Department of Education into a support organization.  Before Bunting, Carney recognized the DOE as an enforcement organization during former Governor Jack Markell’s two terms.  Carney put it on Bunting to make that transformation.  Did she succeed? Continue reading

The Ghost Students Of Delaware Academy Public Safety & Security

I always wondered why the Delaware Department of Education went into Delaware Academy of Public Safety & Security last December to do an emergency student count.  It turns out the DOE found out they were fooled and were not happy about it.  You see, DAPSS didn’t lose a lot of students.  They were counting ones they never had. Continue reading

When Bunting, Sokola, & Jaques Have Lunch, How Soon Will Legislation Come Out About State Takeover Of School Districts?

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Delaware Secretary of Education Dr. Susan Bunting informed the State Board of Education yesterday she had lunch with State Senator David Sokola and State Rep. Earl Jaques.  As heads of the Senate and House Education Committee, Bunting said it was to discuss upcoming legislation.  Could this lead to state takeover of school districts in Delaware? Continue reading

Not Hearing Good News For Donna Johnson’s Replacement For State Board Of Education Executive Director

This will not be good.  It will be a backwards step for Delaware education.

This is entirely in the rumor stage, and I don’t even have a cold confirmation, but Donna Johnson’s replacement for Executive Director of the State Board of Education will be… Continue reading

The New State Board of Education Has The Shortest Meeting In Living Memory!

(L to R) Vincent Lofink, Nina Lou Bunting, Secretary of Education Dr. Susan Bunting, Deputy Attorney General Valerie Dunkle, Whitney Sweeney, Dr. Audrey Noble, Wali Rushdan, Candice Fifer, Dr. Terry Whittaker

The State Board of Education meeting was over in half an hour today.

With so many new members, it was short but sweet.  The new members are new President Whitney Sweeney, former State Rep. Vince Lofink, and Candice Fifer.  The agenda was very light today.

Former State Board Vice President Nina Lou Bunting nominated Dr. Audrey Noble to be the new Vice President.  Board member Wali Rushdan seconded the nomination.  The board voted and Noble was unanimously selected as their Vice President.

The board passed a DIAA regulation.  The board got an update on DAPSS’ probation.  The new members introduced themselves.  Dr. Bunting introduced the new Deputy Secretary of Performance Support, Dr. Christine Alois.  She also introduced the new Associate Secretary of Academic Support, Monica Gant.  She is replacing Michael Watson, who left the DOE earlier this year.  Bunting announced that her restructuring of the Delaware DOE is now complete.

At the end of the meeting, the State Board of Education announced they would be going into Executive Session to discuss personnel issues.  The State Board of Education said they did have interviews for the Executive Director position and would be discussing that.  Based on that discussion, they could be letting Secretary Bunting know their decision.  At that point, the Human Resources Department of the Delaware DOE would be notified.  So we don’t have an announcement on who is replacing Donna Johnson just yet!

I believe the agenda was kept to a minimum so the new board members could acclimate to the process.  Whitney Sweeney did a good job in her new role as President.  I did get to meet Fifer and Lofink before the meeting.  I chatted with Lofink for a little bit.  He is a funny guy!

Attendance at the meeting was very low.  Aside from myself, a representative from DSEA, and some folks from the DOE, that was it.  But this is how it usually is at State Board meetings in July.  Next month they may go over the Smarter Balanced Assessment results and have some presentations, so attendance and the length of the meeting will pick up.  And with seven charter schools up for renewal this year, I know their December meeting will be a long one!

Updated, 9:22pm: No, Dr. Susan Bunting and Nina Lou Bunting are NOT related.  Bunting is like the last name “Smith” in Sussex County.  Several people have asked me this recently.

A Christina Administrator Is The New Board President Of DE Academy Of Public Safety & Security

The Delaware Academy of Public Safety & Security Board of Directors chose their new board President last evening.  This board member was not on their board before last evening and he serves on another charter school board. Continue reading

Delaware State Board of Education “Relaunches” Today

For those who attend the monthly State Board of Education meetings, their meeting today will look very different.  With new members, a new President, and soon, a new Executive Director, the State Board will soon become a travelling a road show!  What is on the agenda today? Continue reading

Delaware DOE Has 7 Charter School Renewals To Contend With This Fall!

When you have 24 charter schools in a state, 22 of which are authorized by the state Department of Education, there are going to be years where the amount of charter renewals are going to go up.  This fall, the Delaware DOE Charter School Office and the Charter School Accountability Committee are going to have their hands full as seven charter schools go through their renewal process. Continue reading

Governor Carney’s Three Nominations For State Board of Education & Who Will Become President?

Governor Carney presented three nominations for the State Board of Education on Friday.  And another State Board member has been nominated to replace Dr. Dennis Loftus as the President of the board.  Who are the nominees?  One of them is a former legislator! Continue reading

Legislation Aims To Have Teacher Of The Year & A Delaware Student On The State Board of Education

How did I miss this one?  It was filed last week!  Not only would this add two new members to the State Board of Education but could also make the State Board of Education a wandering event!

House Bill #455, filed last week by State Rep. Stephanie Bolden and Senator Jack Walsh, comes from the Joint Legislative Oversight and Sunset Committee.  The two new members would be non-voting but it could certainly create lively conversation at these meetings!  It also gives clarity around who the Executive Director reports to and who their employer would be.  The legislation calls for the State Board of Ed to meet in the three different counties which would, by default, cause Delaware Dept. of Education employees to travel with them.  Very interesting bill.

This Act fulfills recommendations made by the Joint Legislative Oversight and Sunset Committee by doing the following: (1) Establishing 2 new, nonvoting members to serve on the State Board of Education (“Board”). The new members are a former Delaware Teacher of the Year and a Delaware 11th or 12th grade student. (2) Defining the duties of the Board’s Executive Director. (3) Clarifying that the Executive Director is selected by the Board; is an employee of the Department of Education, subject to all of the Department’s employment policies and procedures; but serves at the pleasure of the Board. (4) Requiring the Board to rotate its meetings among the 3 counties of this State in such a way to facilitate parents’, teachers’, and other community members’ attendance. (5) Establishing the circumstances under which a Board member may be removed, using language standard to boards and commissions in this State. (6) Requiring the Board to permit public comment on each agenda item prior to voting on the item and in proximity to the time at which the Board discusses the item. An exception is provided if, under Delaware law or Department or Board rules, the item has a formal comment period or a process for making a record in an administrative matter that has closed before the Board’s discussion of the agenda item. Examples of matters that qualify for the exception include charter school applications or formal reviews, amendments to Department of Education and Professional Standards Board regulations, and student appeals. The intent of the exception is to exclude Board actions that are quasi-judicial in nature and therefore not appropriate to open to public comment. This Act also corrects 2 internal references and makes other technical corrections to conform existing law to the standards of the Delaware Legislative Drafting Manual.   

To read the actual legal language of the bill, go here: House Bill 455

As I reported earlier today, Governor Carney will have three nominations for the Delaware Senate to confirm by June 30th which would restore the State Board of Education to their seven members after some unexpected resignations in the past couple of months.  I still think ALL members of the State Board of Education should be publicly elected.

**UPDATED**The Clock Is Ticking For The State Board Of Education

The State Board of Education still has four members.  Which is their quorum amount.  Governor Carney, with ten days left in the 149th General Assembly, has not put forth ANY nominations for replacements.  Delaware State Code mandates four members on the State Board.  If Carney does not put forth nominations until after the General Assembly goes into recess from July 1st until mid-January 2019, he could order the Delaware Senate back into session to confirm nominations.  That isn’t unusual but typically doesn’t happen until October when it does occur.  Which means our State Board of Education is operating at a bare minimum for the next four months.  Which means if just one member doesn’t attend a meeting they can not take action on any item, even approving their minutes.

I have an extreme issue with keeping this body at four members.  Any regulation or appeal the State Board hears would only have four members voting.  One no-show could shut something down very fast.  It is a recipe for disaster.  Simply put, they cannot operate the way they are supposed to.  As an example, what happens if Secretary of Education Susan Bunting decided to put a charter school on formal review for some reason?  The State Board would have to vote on that.  Is four members enough to give that conversation the full weight for a matter that serious?  There is a reason there are seven members.

I was told by Jon Sheehan, Governor Carney’s Education Policy Advisor, the State Board of Education would be restored by June 30th.  So where are the nominations?  Since there are none today, that leaves one last Senate Executive Committee meeting to do this, which would be next Wednesday.  At that point it is the last week of the General Assembly.  I would worry about the quality of the nominations if it is rushed at the last-minute.

Two weeks ago, the Joint Sunset Committee released the State Board of Education from Sunset review.  The only unanswered question is who the State Board’s Executive Director will report to- the State Board, the Delaware Department of Education, or a hybrid of both.  Meanwhile, the deadline for applicants to replace Donna Johnson expired June 9th.  Which means someone will most likely get that job soon.  But will there even be a functional State Board of Education for them to direct?

I still feel as though the State Board of Education should be elected by the people.  Having a Governor hand-pick who he wants on the State Board of Education all but ensures people will get picked who would follow his agendas.  It is something our legislators could change but nobody wants to tick off the Governor.  Many of them agree but lack the stones to actually do it.  I say have an elected State Board of Education and get rid of “Secretary-only Regulations”.  Those are the ones, like Regulation 225, that the State Board of Education does not vote on.  Which is preposterous in my opinion.

Updated, 3:37pm: I spoke with Jon Sheehan a short time ago who assured me that three nominations will be introduced next week and he anticipates a full State Board of Education by June 30th.

Seven Delaware Charter Schools Up For Renewal Next Fall!!!!

Every year, the Delaware State Board of Education gets to vote on charter school renewals.  This year, there are seven charter schools up for renewal.  I believe this is a record and will keep the Charter School Office busy from now until then.  But this year could be different for these renewals because of events going on the Delaware Department of Education and the State Board of Education that are beyond their control. Continue reading

Charter Nepotism At ASPIRA & DAPSS

Delaware Academy of Public Safety and Security will have a new Director of Instruction as of July 1st.  Deborah Panchisin resigned as an Executive Director of Instruction at Appoquinimink School District last month, effective July 1st.  Greg Panchisin is the Chief Operating Officer at Las Americas ASPIRA Academy.  Greg and Deborah Panchisin are married.  Margie Lopez-Waite is the Head of School at Las Americas ASPIRA.  Margie Lopez-Waite is the current President of DAPSS’ board.  Margie Lopez-Waite is slated to be the next Head of School at Delaware Academy of Public Safety & Security.  Margie Lopez-Waite proudly boasted of having someone lined up to take over the position of Director of Instruction a few months ago at a Charter School Accountability Committee meeting when DAPSS was under formal review.

This is what happens when anyone is allowed to insert themselves into a leadership role at a charter school.  They cause chaos and use personal connections to hire who they want and who cares if it is a very personal connection.  Because they are two different schools, it is not against the law.  But it is certainly a manipulative and scummy move.  Please continue to tell me this is “for the students”.  Margie Lopez-Waite played the Charter School Accountability Committee and the State Board of Education.  And Secretary Bunting.  And they fell for it hook, line and sinker.

The Panchisins make a combined income of $245,000 in their current roles.  Deborah Panchisin makes $136k at Appoquinimink.  Greg Panchisin makes $109k at ASPIRA.  Say she gets a pay cut for her role at DAPSS.  They would still most likely be making a combined income well over $200k.  I imagine that handling instruction for 200 students as opposed to many more at Appo would be less work.  Less stress.

This is Delaware…

Breaking News: State Board of Education President Dr. Dennis Loftus Resigning After A Year Of Service

A year ago, Governor Carney nominated Dr. Dennis Loftus to take over as State Board of Education President.  Replacing Dr. Teri Quinn Gray, Loftus served in the role for a year.  At the end of this month, sources tell me Dr. Loftus is resigning from the position.

No nomination for his replacement has been announced at this point.  As well, even though Donna Johnson officially resigned a couple of weeks ago, no replacement has been announced for the Executive Director role for the State Board of Education.  The State Board is still going through sunset review with that committee at Legislative Hall.

The State Board underwent many changes in the past year with four new members (including Loftus) and a now vacant role of Executive Director.  It doesn’t look like that facelift is going to stop any time soon with the resignations of their Board President and their Executive Director.  The State Board of Education is a different entity than the Delaware Department of Education.  Any State Board members would be nominated by the Governor and then have to go through a confirmation process with the Delaware Senate.  The only exception to that rule is the President which is picked solely by the Governor but there is no designated term for that role and serves at the pleasure of the Governor.  In addition, the State Board themselves would pick a new Executive Director.

What is the reason for this massive amount of turnover?  In January long-time board member Pat Heffernan resigned unexpectedly after an explosive board meeting about the diploma bill.  Heffernan was deeply opposed to the legislation which would do away with certificates of performance or attendance for the most severe cognitively-challenged students.  Governor Carney signed the bill last month.  Other new members came about through prior board members ending their term.  But to have the President of the State Board resign after less than a year says something!