In an article on Delaware Public Media concerning the status of the charter school audit bills, State Rep. Earl Jaques spun a web of lies about State Rep. Kim Williams, the sponsor of the bill. He gave a quote to reporter Sarah Mueller stating Rep. Williams never approached him about the bill. But Williams didn’t take it lying down. Nor should she. Continue reading
The funny thing about facts, my friends, is that despite the attempts of the board, they cannot be interpreted. They cannot be changed, and they cannot be maligned for they are facts. And the facts are that this Board violated state laws, DOE rules and regulations and maybe even criminal code laws.
So yes, our books are pristine. Every dollar is accounted for. The problem is the dollars and where they went. Where they buried those invoices under what budget lines. Because it’s there. And if the State Auditor would do her job we could actually find that out.
Odyssey Charter School is in trouble. Big trouble. On the dawn of their final Charter School Accountability Committee meeting for their formal review this Monday, an article by Delaware Public Media came out showing even more financial abuse going on at the Greek-themed charter school. Meanwhile, the CSAS initial report came out along with the transcript for their public hearing and they are explosive! The transcript reveals what has been going on with teachers at the school and what led to the eventual decision to unionize. Continue reading
It wouldn’t be a school board election season without some controversy springing out of the Christina School District. Hot on the heels of the district’s crushing loss in their referendum last week, Christina voters will head to the polls again on May 14th to elect the District D candidate. Many are trying to make sure two-time board member John Young does NOT get re-elected. But the biggest threat to the district does not exist with Young. It lies within. Continue reading
Leave it to Earl Jaques to start off the 150th General Assembly House Education Committee with a load of crap right from the get-go. At the first House Education Committee meeting next Wednesday, legislators will get to hear the latest corporate education reform malarkey from the Vision Coalition.
Really Earl? That’s the best you can do? What’s next? A presentation the next week from DelawareCAN? The Charter Schools Network? Ugh. Would you let DSEA give a huge presentation to the Education Committee? Or how about a group of opt out parents to explain why the Smarter Balanced Assessment is the worst test ever? Perhaps you could let all the Christina Wilmington teachers get together and let the legislators know about how they feel about the MOU. Or get the Odyssey education association to come in and talk about what is going on with their board. Nope, instead, we get the usual flim-flam from the snake oil Rodelian led band of education bandits.
I have no doubt they will be taking credit for what is to come.
How the hell did I miss this? I broke the news on the House Committee memberships and I totally missed this awesomeness! State Rep. John Kowalko is back on the House Education Committee! To understand how big this is, you have to look at the history of why he was removed in the first place. Continue reading
The Delaware General Assembly returns for their 150th gig on Tuesday, January 8th. But a slew of pre-filed legislation came out today including a few education bills. These are interesting bills to say the least! Continue reading
At the end of the Christina School District Board of Education meeting last week, State Representative Paul Baumbach spoke before the board. He thanked the board and the district for the changes they implemented in the past year and “strongly encouraged” them to keep doing it. There was a specific reason Baumbach did this. He admitted the General Assembly doesn’t help. Continue reading
The most controversial piece of legislation in the Delaware General Assembly will be State Rep. Earl Jaques’ brainfart of an idea to have the State of Delaware take over the Christina School District. Continue reading
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
State Representative Earl Jaques has some mighty bold plans in the 150th General Assembly. The biggest and most controversial will be a bill that would have the state takeover the Christina School District. It is in the works and he is looking for sponsors. Continue reading
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
I wasn’t expecting this. State Rep. Earl Jaques, who has ran unopposed the past few election cycles, has an opponent! Bill Hinds has been nominated as a Libertarian in the 27th Representative District. This just got interesting!
Some of you might be scratching their head and saying “How?” The answer is simple. If a candidate runs unopposed, the minor parties can nominate someone to run. The deadline for that is August 1st according to the State of Delaware election website.
On Tuesday, the Delaware House of Representatives unanimously passed an Autism bill that will delight many parents and advocates in The First State.
State Representative Earl Jaques released the following statement on the House vote:
The House has unanimously passed my bill to enhance services for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. HB 292 would focus on implementing parent and family input through the enactment of the Parent Advisory Committee, along with additional review boards.
We want to help all students have a quality, inclusive education experience, and this bill will help accomplish that. The hope is to better help children get the Autism services they need in their local communities. The legislation also has the net benefit of creating more educational autism specialist jobs.
This is the synopsis for HB #292:
This Act implements the recommendations of the March 2015 Autism Educational Task Force report regarding § 1332 of Title 14, the Program for Children with Autism and its Special Staff. Enacted nearly three decades ago, this law established a network of educational programs initially within a separate school structure known as The Delaware Autism Program (DAP). Today, this network continues as a combination of both separate school programs and within local school district support services. However, the current model does not reflect current practices in special education, especially regarding inclusive education, and parents’ desire to have their children educated in their local communities. In addition, the increase in students with an educational classification of autism spectrum disorder (“ASD”) has made it difficult for the Statewide Director to provide the level of services and support that once was offered. This Act establishes the qualifications and duties of the Statewide Director and enhances the current mandatory committee structure to include a Parent Advisory Committee, in addition to the Peer Review Committee and Statewide Monitoring Review Board, to increase family input, monitoring, and protections. This Act creates a 3 year pilot program that revises the concept of DAP toward a system in which the statewide Director will work in collaboration with a team of experts to provide technical assistance and training to districts and educational entities. It allows for and provides adequate resources for all students with ASD in Delaware by eliminating the distinction between DAP-approved programs and other in-district options and by providing in-state experts at a lower cost than out-of-state residential treatment and consultants. The pilot program created under this Act makes changes that recognize and support the need for specialized technical assistance and training staff to be available to build capacity for teachers in all districts and other programs educating students with ASD. These changes expand available supports so that excellent, evidence-based training and technical assistance can be made available to all Delaware schools and the students who attend them. The pilot program created under this Act establishes a technical assistance team of educational autism specialists numbering a ratio of 1 for every 100 students (currently estimated at 15 positions). The fiscal mechanism to support the pilot program will be accomplished through mandated district participation that is consistent with the current needs-based funding system in Delaware and by redirecting state spending towards lower cost, community-based supports from out-of-state residential placements. The number of training specialists will be phased in over several years or until the pilot program ends. Finally, this Act is known as “The Alex Eldreth Autism Education Law” in memory Alex Eldreth, who passed away unexpectedly on November 24, 2017, and his dedication to this work.
Congrats! The bill was also released from the Senate Education Committee yesterday. It has not appeared on the Senate agenda but I anticipate final passage of this bill by June 30th.
Sorry for the long title. Yes, the Delaware School District Consolidation Task Force did not have any recommendations to actually consolidate any school districts in the state. But there were a ton of other recommendations that were passed by the task force. However, State Rep. Earl Jaques (the Task Force Chair) did manage to anger one citizen who came all the way down from Wilmington to give public comment. Jaques adjourned the meeting without asking if anyone wanted to give public comment even though it was on the agenda. I did ask Earl if he could readjourn the meeting before everyone left to allow the citizen to speak but he just gave his infamous head roll. Bad form Earl!
All the recommendations passed (which you can read here) with a few edits to some of them. I will get those up when they come out. I voted no on a few of the recommendations. One that really got my goat concerned professional development days for ALL employees of a district. I wasn’t opposed to the original wording which said “establish” but it was changed to “support”, as in give the local school board the ability to provide it based on its merits. I wanted “establish”, and even suggested an addendum covering special education for ALL employees, but I was told by the Committee Chair (Dr. Dusty Blakey, Superintendent of Colonial School District) it would include special education. I voted no because the addendum took out the word “establish”.
While the actual task force report won’t come out until May 7th, folks may be surprised the majority of the task force voted yes on tax increases to be created by the State which would come as either a Statewide or Countywide tax to cover a projected deficit of $125 million to “reduce class sizes, provide after school programs, wellness centers, additional reading, Math and ELL specialists, early childhood education for 2,3, and 4 year olds and other programs needed to level the playing field for children in those underserved communities.” While I support many of those items, I voted no because the task force also recommended providing additional funding for English Language Learners and students living in poverty (note it was NOT for low-income students). Four of us voted no on that. Another one of those no votes was Senator Dave Sokola. See Dave, we can agree at times! By implementing a statewide or countywide tax, that is more money coming out of taxpayer pockets and leaves the legislators off the hook. It is their job to balance the state budget and I would think there is enough “fluff” in our budget to cover those deficits. As an example, get rid of the very horrible charter school transportation slush fund. That did come up as a recommendation but since the legislation creating the task force did not include charter school matters for points of discussion that recommendation was not voted on by the task force.
Transportation was a major issue and created much discussion around it. There is a tremendous shortage of bus drivers in Delaware and the recommendation passed to look at potential raises for district bus drivers. Contractors set their own rates based on what the district can pay them. Anything more would have to come from the contractor.
Tonight is the final meeting of the Delaware School District Consolidation Task Force. The meeting will be held at 5pm at Legislative Hall in Dover, in the House Chamber. This is the big one folks! All the subcommittees issued recommendations last week and the entire task force will be voting on each one. That doesn’t mean they are a done deal. It typically means legislation could be forthcoming to address those recommendations. All the recommendations from each committee appear below. Come down (or up) to Dover and check it out! We will see if this mysterious oddity State Rep. Earl Jaques dropped last month concerning a recommendation to have the State Board of Education get the authorization to have the state takeover “failing” school districts resurfaces. It wasn’t popular when I reported it and many thought Earl slipped on a banana peel or something.
Academic & Student Needs Sub-Committee Recommendations:
Teachers And Staff Subcommittee:
I reached out to State Rep. Earl Jaques and his legislative aide today regarding the massive bomb Earl laid last night at the School District Consolidation Task Force meeting. The response was the polar opposite of what was said last night. Continue reading
Following the crazy events at tonight’s School District Consolidation Task Force meeting, I emailed Speaker of the House, Pete Schwartzkopf. I wrote about what transpired at the meeting as well as some other concerns. I asked him to remove State Rep. Earl Jaques as Chair of the task force.
Good evening Speaker Schwartzkopf,
I wanted to let you know of some disturbing events that came up during the School District Consolidation Task Force meeting held at Smyrna High School.
As the Chair of the task force, State Rep. Earl Jaques brought up proposals stemming out of the Structures Subcommittee. One of those proposals, according to Rep. Jaques, was a mechanism by which the State Board of Education could used the Charter School Performance Framework for traditional school districts. This proposal went on to say the State Board could then use the results of that framework to decide whether a state takeover of a district was warranted. Another thing would be to force that district to merge with another district.
Multiple members of the regular task force, who attended those Structure subcommittee meetings, were unable to remember any circumstance where that option was even discussed. When asked for clarification on this issue, Rep. Jaques was unable to clearly remember which meeting it was at, jumping from Seaford to Cape Henlopen. He settled on a Cape Henlopen meeting. Upon review of the agendas for that subcommittee, none were held in Cape Henlopen.
The members of the task force were in complete shock over the very discussion of an idea like this. Rep. Jaques did say, when asked, the full task force would be able to vote on each proposal prior to the final report coming out.
As well, Rep. Jaques has commissioned reports for the task force without bringing it to a full task force vote. He has openly, and publicly, admitted to conversations with the Governor about having these reports done.
I believe, along with other task force members, that Rep. Jaques has overstepped the legislative intent of this task force and is holding non-public meetings for proposals that are outside the scope of the task force.
I would like you to look into this, and if warranted, have Rep. Jaques removed as Chair of the Task Force.
I would hope Schwartzkopf at least gives the courtesy of a reply on this matter.
All hell broke loose at Smyrna High School’s auditorium tonight. The Chair of the School District Consolidation Task Force talked about a recommendation for state takeover of struggling school districts. Continue reading
The diploma bill for students with severe disabilities is on the agenda for the Delaware House Education Committee today. The bill caused a ruckus of sorts with State Rep. Earl Jaques, State Board of Education member Pat Heffernan, Robert Overmiller, and the Delaware Chamber of Commerce.
House Bill #287 is now HS1 for House Bill #287. The new changes are as follows:
This Substitute Bill makes the following changes to House Bill No. 287: 1. It changes the name of the new diploma to a “Diploma of Alternate Achievement Standards” instead of a “Diploma of Modified Performance Standards.” 2. It adds a requirement that a student must be eligible to take a statewide alternate assessment to receive the new diploma. 3. The Act takes effect in the academic year after enactment.
But the spirit of the original bill is the same.
…provides the opportunity for schools to award students who meet the requirements of their Individualized Education Plans (“IEP”) a high school diploma which recognizes the accomplishment of having attained a level of performance that is modified from the State graduation requirements but aligned with their established goals and performance outcomes.
As much as those who oppose the bill talk about why they hate the bill, I still fail to understand their rationale. This isn’t a business bill, this is a student bill. I think it is very arrogant for big business to dare to intrude on legislation like this. In my opinion, they have done enough “intruding” in public education to the detriment of students, teachers, and schools. Most of our schools, teachers, and parents want this bill to pass. To me, they are your key stakeholders, not the business community.
For Jaques, Heffernan, and Overmiller: two of you have family members with disabilities and one of you serves on the Governor’s Advisory Council for Exceptional Citizens (GACEC). I am unable to fathom your opposition to this bill. You are certainly entitled to your opinion. But, to me, it is not a coincidence that you all opposed opt out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment. Which is a grueling task and a flawed test for any student, but especially for students with disabilities. The majority of the GACEC supports the bill.
I anticipate a large crowd for this House Education Committee meeting. It is being held in the Joint Finance Committee room, not the House Chamber. It begins at 3:00pm. If you support this bill, please come out and give public comment.
Other bills on the docket are House Bill #292, relating to services for students with Autism, and House Bill #282, which would allow extra funding for field trips in schools with high concentrations of students with poverty