Enrollment Preferences Bill Released From Committee But Newark Charter School Exclusion Remains Controversial

House Substitute 1 for House Bill 85 was released from the Delaware House Education Committee today.  There are very serious concerns due to a “compromise” brought forth by the Delaware Charter Schools Network.  The bone of contention surrounds the Christina School District and Newark Charter School.  Since a portion of Christina exists in Wilmington, those students would not be considered in the enrollment preference which includes all students in a choice school’s district.  The line of thinking appears to be the district section of Wilmington is not connected to the rest of the district.  However, those who oppose this section of the bill feel it is a barrier for Wilmington students who are part of the Christina School District.

Today, State Rep. John Kowalko is bringing forth an amendment but no one on the committee knew specifically what the amendment was.  State Rep. Kim Williams, the primary sponsor of the bill, stated she assumes it would be to remove lines 7-9 of the bill which would give Newark Charter School their Wilmington exclusion.  Williams said she would not support the amendment because she gave her word to Senator David Sokola.  This, apparently, was an addition to the bill from Senator Sokola which caused the House Substitute bill from the original House Bill 85.  State Rep. Joe Miro said he would not support the bill if the amendment passed.

State Rep. Sean Matthews said he is in support of the bill but does not feel the bill serves all students in the Christina School District.  He felt the bill does not allow for Wilmington students to go to Newark Charter School and the exclusion for NCS was put in so it can pass the Delaware Senate.

If Newark Charter School is so good, they should take all students. -State Rep. Sean Matthews

State Rep. Deb Heffernan agreed with Matthews.  The bill was released with 11 votes in favor of the bill.

Delaware Secretary of Education Dr. Susan Bunting said the Delaware Department of Education is taking a neutral stance on the bill.  Donna Johnson, the Executive Director of the State Board of Education, said former State Board member R.L. Hughes was on the Enrollment Preferences Task Force and voted in favor of removing the 5-mile radius. Kristin Dwyer, the Delaware State Education Association Director of Legislation and Political Organizing,  said she is happy the conversation is opened with this bill but DSEA does not feel the bill goes far enough.  DSEA feels the 5-mile radius should be completely removed.

My concerns with this bill are the very nature of Newark Charter School to begin with.  Even with their 5-mile radius, their student populations do not reflect that of the Greater Newark area.  This is the public comment I gave to the committee and my idea for a potential amendment.

While I am very happy to see this bill, I have concerns around Newark Charter School. When the charter school had their major modification approved to build their high school, they were instructed with formulating a plan to allow for more diversity in their district.  I have yet to see that materialize, even within their current 5 mile radius.  While their special education numbers have increased, they are still woefully under what the state average is, much less the Christina School District.  In the school profile for this school year, African-Americans represent 10.7% of their student population compared to 39.4% of Christina.  While factoring in the African-American population of the Wilmington contingent of Christina student population, the greater Newark area has a much higher population of African-Americans compared to NCS.  I would recommend an amendment be placed on this bill for a weighted lottery for charter schools, magnets, and any choice school where the demographics are disproportionately lower than that of the surrounding district to allow populations that do not seem to be getting access to certain charter school even footing and representation within those schools.  Enrollment preferences are meant to allow the most disadvantaged students into choice schools, not to keep them out. Thank you.

The bill, if passed, would take place immediately.  However, it would not be able to kick in until the 2018-2019 school year since the school choice calendar for the 2017-2018 school year closed in January.  During the House Bill 90 Enrollment Preferences Task Force, the majority of the members voted in favor of removing the 5-mile radius as an enrollment preference for choice schools.  Williams said she does not necessarily agree with the Newark Charter School exclusion, but felt compromise was necessary.  If the bill didn’t move forward, she would not be able to help any students.

Once Kowalko’s amendment is public, I will add it to this article.

Ex-DOE Employee Trying To Steer The Conversation With Delaware’s ESSA Plan… But He’s A Benefactor…

I’ve written about Atnre Alleyne more than any other Delaware Dept. of Education employee (aside from Godowsky) in the past six months and he doesn’t even work there anymore!  On Wednesday, Delaware Public Media released a letter Alleyne wrote to the Delaware DOE for input on the first draft of their Every Student Succeeds Act which should be out tomorrow.  With a ton of other sponsors on the letter, including Rodel, Teach For America, the Delaware Charter Schools Network, the Delaware Business Roundtable, the Delaware Chamber of Commerce, and of course, TeenSHARP, an organization run by Alleyne and his wife.  An organization he could potentially benefit from through ESSA grants.  No conflict of interest there.  But to make matters worse, he also sits on the Governor’s ESSA Advisory Committee.

Alleyne and the Delaware Corporate Education Reform Network (my new nickname for the above-mentioned companies) also rounded up every single civil rights group they could for this letter.  The PACE Network, Christina Cultural Arts Center, the Wilmington Education Strategy Think Tank, Aspira of Delaware, and oddly enough, the American Civil Liberties Union of Delaware.  The same organization who submitted a Civil Rights complaint against the State of Delaware and Red Clay Consolidated School District for authorizing charter schools that continue segregation in Delaware (22 months later and no word on that one).

To say Alleyne is making a move would be an understatement.  This was the same person who did everything in his power to kill legislation on teacher evaluations.  He pretty much got his wish when Senator David Sokola added his amendments to the bill.  Why should anyone listen to what amounts to a benefactor of ESSA?  Thanks to Delaware Public Media for putting this letter up on Scribd.  While I agree with very few of the points of the letter, it is definitely a power grab by Alleyne.  Alleyne is also an “education fellow” at 50CAN, just another one of those education think tanks that sprung up in the past decade with funding by the Gates Foundation and a gazillion other foundations that support charter schools.  And one of the documents Alleyne brings up in his letter was something Alleyne was compensated for at the Delaware DOE.  He worked in the Teacher/Leader Effectiveness Unit before he sprouted his wings to do… this kind of stuff.

I have no doubt the Delaware DOE gave this letter very serious consideration and will incorporate the thoughts of it in the plan.  Kind of like how Senator Sokola took Alleyne’s charges with House Bill 399 very seriously.  But they were in cahoots the whole time.  This is Rodelaware you know…

If Kendall Massett Is In The Picture, It’s Bad For Public Non-Charters. Period.

HB435Signing

On Thursday, Delaware Governor Jack Markell signed House Bill 435, the charter school audit bill.  After 15 months of back and forth between the forces of right and the shadows of wrong, we finally have something that is better than what existed before.  It could have been better, but Kendall Massett (runs the Delaware Charter Schools Network) had to stick her nose in it and get Senator David Sokola (the only guy who isn’t looking in the camera) to mess around with it.

I’ve seen Kendall several times.  We are polar opposites on education policy.  We always say hi to each other.  She has never written anything bad about me.  I can’t say the same.  We don’t see a lot of the corporate education reformers attacking people.  They have the power (or the illusion of it) so they don’t have to.  They are the ones who have a massive amount of lobbyists and political influence to get what they want.  Using Star Wars as an analogy, they are the Evil Empire, and folks like me are the Rebels, fighting the stuff they do with every fiber of our being.

House Bill 435 was a compromise bill.  Had Kendall not interfered with it, there would be a lot more transparency coming out with future audits of charter schools.  They are required to have annual audits.  But those audits miss a hell of a lot of information, as was the case with Academy of Dover and Family Foundations Academy.  We have something less than what it was meant to be because one woman couldn’t have her charter schools look bad.  If she is in the picture, charter schools will benefit while traditional public schools will suffer more in some way.  It’s a sure thing.

In this picture, we have Governor Markell’s right-hand man (literally, to Markell’s real right, and for the love of God Dave, look into the camera, you have an election coming up.  You aren’t going to get any door-knockers that way!) Senator David Sokola, standing on Jack’s shoulders is Kendall Massett, and to Jack’s far left (literally) is State Rep. Kim Williams.  Of course Jack Markell is the guy in the middle.  I have no clue who the guy next to Kendall is.  My apologies Mr. Unknown!

If Delaware State Rep. Kim Williams is in the picture, we know someone is fighting the good fight, sometimes with insurmountable odds.  We are lucky to have Kim Williams in our corner.  I fully endorse Kim Williams for her upcoming State Rep. election!

Publius, otherwise known as Henry Clampitt…

For years, the online denizens of Kilroy’s Delaware have been subjected to the very pro corporate education reform rants of Publius, aka Henry Clampitt.  Clampitt served on the Board of Directors for the Charter School of Wilmington for many years until he “resigned” with no explanation given to the public whatsoever.  The CSW Board is usually very tight and tends to have many of the same folks on the board for years at a time.

Clampitt also serves on the Legislative Advisory Committee for the Delaware Charter Schools Network.  Clampitt has been in this role since some point last year.  Clampitt is very “pro-choice” when it comes to a parent’s ability to choose what school their child attends.  I believe this to be admirable, however, given his inability to fully understand how certain charter schools enrollment preferences have adversely affected segregation and discrimination in the Wilmington, DE area, it is an advocacy based on wrong intentions.  Having served on the Delaware Enrollment Preferences Task Force, Clampitt firmly believed in placement tests prior to admission at schools like CSW.

Clampitt and I have gone toe to toe on Kilroy’s Delaware going on two years now.  He is vicious in his attack methods, going so far as to make fun of people’s physical features while hiding behind his online moniker.

A few months ago, someone opened a Twitter account under the name of Henry Clampitt with a twitter handle of @publiusedecere, which is also his name on Kilroy’s Delaware.  Nobody knows who posted this Twitter account, but it disappeared within 24 hours.  For many, it is no secret who Publius really is.

ClampittPublius

When this Twitter account opened, it was in the middle of a major battle between two bills pending in the Delaware General Assembly concerning charter school audits.  On one side was State Rep. Kim Williams and the other was Senator David Sokola.  Williams’ bill passed the House last year.  Sokola introduced his bill in January.  Many felt (which I agree with) that Sokola’s bill weakened Williams’ bill.  At the Senate Education Committee meeting on Sokola’s bill, Williams and Kathleen Davies from the State Auditor’s office faced off against Sokola, Clampitt, and Kendall Massett from the Delaware Charter Schools Network.  Neither bill has gone up for a vote in the Senate since that meeting.

Clampitt attacked Rep. Williams in his “anonymous” blog comments on Kilroy’s Delaware.  If I were a guessing man, I would say Clampitt finally pushed someone over the edge which resulted in this fake Twitter account days later.  Many people sent me the link to this Twitter account.  I was shocked that someone went to that level of creativity to out Clampitt, but I wasn’t surprised.

As our little war has progressed over on Kilroy’s, Clampitt has recently started an online campaign to attack me whenever he gets a chance.  If nothing is even discussed in one of Kilroy’s article, as seen recently with some of his posts about Donald Trump, Clampitt will come out of nowhere in his vain attempts to demean me.  This is why I feel some perspective is needed for those reading Kilroy’s Delaware.  Clampitt has made this personal because he seems to be out to “get me”.  I don’t mind anonymous commenters unless you cross that line too many times.  I’ve written about Publius and Clampitt on here, but never together.  Kilroy has done the same.

Many have felt Clampitt, based on his comments, did himself in with the board at CSW.  Others, including myself, feel he can be very racist or discriminatory in his attempts to win an argument.  Many are just plain disgusted with his online antics.  Words such as “cocky” and “arrogant” are the labels I hear the most when others speak about Publius/Clampitt.

It has been highly rumored that he will attempt a run for the Red Clay Consolidated School Board next year, and will run against President Kenny Rivera.  This is something many in the Wilmington community seem to be dead against.  I’ve seen Clampitt a couple times.  Once at an Enrollment Preference Task Force meeting, and the other at a Red Clay board meeting.  When surrounded by his buddies in the charter community, Clampitt can tend to be very vocal.  But at Red Clay, he is very quiet and reserved.

Clampitt seems to be offended by anyone who disagrees with him.  He seems to have a particular hate for myself and Christina board member John Young.  He is also a fierce believer in standardized testing.  When asked about this, he states the same mantra all who support high-stakes testing: “We need to close the achievement gap.”  The very same achievement gap that has widened even further as a result of tests like the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  He believes opt out is wrong and opposes it on every single level.  He takes cheap shot at concerned parents who don’t believe a standardized test is a good measure of academic ability.

Together with his online supporters on Kilroy’s, he has turned what used to be a good place to have earnest discussions about education into a place where many are so offended they don’t come back anymore.  I refuse to leave Kilroy’s “kitchen table” because of a cyber bully.  But I will not continue to be mocked by a man who has so many inherent conflicts of interest.  If this means I am no longer invited to Kilroy’s, so be it.  But I am a firm believer in defending myself when attacked as voraciously as Publius has done.  Last summer, he went way over the line when he attacked my son’s disability.  I wanted to write this then, but I held back.  But as the attacks intensified the past couple months, I felt it was time to take a stand.  If he wants to continue to be a coward thinking he is protected by hiding behind his oh-so-original blog commenter handle over on Kilroy’s, that is his prerogative.  But in the real world, we all know who you are.

It is time to put a face to the name of Publius…

HankClampitt

Hell Hath No Fury Like A State Rep Scorned! Seven Charter Schools Under Investigation By State Auditor!!!!!

Delaware State Rep. Kim Williams is mad as hell, and she is making it known!  The reason for her anger?  Her Delaware charter school audit bill, House Bill 186, is facing some fierce opposition.  But why?  Find out here, from her State Rep. Facebook page:

PLEASE READ VERY IMPORTANT!!!!!! Our teachers are held accountable, students are held accountable, don’t you think our public tax dollars should also have accountability?

Academy of Dover since 2010-2011 has not met or fell far below the financial standards set forth by the Department of Education and the Charter School Accountability Committee. The charter school office reported to the State Board of Education yesterday that in early April they learned of serious allegations of financial management by a former Academy of Dover school leader. Their financial framework for the last three years have shown there have been financial issues. I brought a bill forward which would require all charter schools to be audited through the Auditor’s Office, currently all public schools are audited through this office except for charter schools, and the House republicans sitting on the House Education Committee voted against the bill that I sponsored; House Bill 186. Family Foundation this year had issues with two former co-directors misusing the public’s money, over $90,0000, and now we have Academy of Dover who is now under investigation by the Auditor’s Office for misuse of public funds. The Delaware Charter Schools Network were there on Wednesday lobbying legislators hard not to support my bill. This is a great bill and it should be released from Committee. I have eight Democrats who are willing to sign the bill backer. During the State Board of Education meeting you hear one board member stating that the Financial Framework would not have caught this. Another board member stated this is happening a lot. DOE Charter School Office stated that Academy of Dover has been working for years on a payment plan, so does that mean folks knew for years this was going on. House Bill 186 needs to be released and voted on the House floor.

If you have never met Kim Williams, she doesn’t seem the type to get mad.  However, once she is, you know it pretty fast.  I’ve seen her and she isn’t the yelling and screaming type, but she is very direct and firm.  I can completely understand why she is so upset about this bill.  Charters, many of them, have been pilfering taxpayer funds for a long time now.  At the House Education Committee on Wednesday, a representative from the State Auditor’s office confirmed seven charter schools are under investigation in their office and no traditional school districts are at all (which squashes the rumors I heard about two school districts in our state being investigated over there).  Three are known: Academy of Dover, Family Foundations Academy and Providence Creek Academy.  Who are the other four?  That’s 31.8% of the charters in this state!

Patrick Heffernan with the Delaware State Board of Education raised a very good point the other day.  The settlement with Mosaica was $650,000.00.  Academy of Dover plopped down $200,000 right away, and has $150,000 due 7/3/15 and another payment of $150,000 by 7/31/15.  Then they will pay $50,000 once a year for 3 years after.  So that’s $500,000 they will pay by the end of July.  Where does all this money come from?  This is taxpayer money they have been tucking away somewhere waiting for this rainy day.  This is funding that should be going to students.  Now I understand why they were being so cheap about paying their paraprofessionals an extra buck or two an hour when they were asked to substitute teach!

Write you state representative today and demand accountability for charter schools!

Action Reaction: Delaware Charter School Network Is Stopping Audit Bills, Email The House Now In Support of HB 186!

Now I have a new website to look at on a weekly basis.  Thanks for that Kendall Massett!  It turns out the Delaware Charter School Network has a portal set up on their website to automatically email legislators when they don’t like a pending bill that might affect charter schools.  That’s fair, I suggest folks email legislators all the time.  However, when the messages sent do not give accurate facts, I take issue with that.

For example, the current campaign is against House Bill 186.  In a nutshell, HB186 is as follows:

Currently, all school districts, including vocational schools, are subject to the Auditor of Accounts. Edits to the November 2010 Charter School Manual removed instructions for charter schools to go through Auditor of Accounts when contracting for audits. There is presently no legislative authority to require charter schools to submit to the Auditor of Accounts processes. This bill adds charter schools to the list of entities for audits through the Auditor of Accounts. The bill takes effect so that the Auditor of Accounts shall conduct postaudits for the time periods starting on or after July 1, 2015. (source: http://legis.delaware.gov website)

This bill combines the now stricken House Bills 53 and 154, which were both sponsored by State Rep. Kim Williams.  She watched as Family Foundations Academy almost got shut down due to financial mismanagement (fraud), and has seen this time and time again at many of our charter schools.

Now the Delaware Charter School Network is gunning for any legislation that would hold charter schools accountable for their finances through their Action Center  on their website.  I find the following facts they are using to stop this bill either outright lies or gross exaggerations.

This is the text of the introduction:

Our email campaign last week to stop HB 154 from being released from the House Education Committee was a success! Representative after Representative told us that they had heard from their constituents and that it was so helpful. NICE GOING!! Your action along with other circumstances led to the desired outcome, but the fight is not over. We have learned that the bill’s sponsor has introduced a new bill that combines HB 53 and HB 154 – House Bill 186. The new bill has been placed on the House Education Committee agenda for Wednesday, June 17 (TOMORROW). This means that we must re-launch our campaign, and this time we will be alerting all House members with the same message not just the committee members. We have altered the message slightly so even if you sent an email last week, it is okay to send again. Start by entering your email address and home zip code over to the right. When you complete the next screen, the email will be sent automatically based on your home address. The reasons to oppose the legislation are the same…

Gee Kendall, what were those “other circumstances”?  I know you were at Legislative Hall last Wednesday cause I saw you at the Senate Education Committee meeting.  Your organization are registered lobbyists down at Leg. Hall.  More concerning is the text in this email you are having people send to their elected officials.

“This bill will not stop fraud.”

It might not, but it will find it much quicker than anyone else has in the past.  All too often we hear the same sob story: “We had no idea this was going on for years and years.  Heavens to Betsy, they were so secretive about it.”  We don’t just hear this from the charter schools but from our own Department of Education.  It would help if these charters actually took the time to have their Citizens Budget Oversight Committee meetings.  I saw fraud flags all over the purchase card website Delaware has.  It’s called opening your eyes.

“…our schools already receive less funding on average than district schools ($3000 less on average).”

There are several reasons for that.  Traditional school districts, on average, have more special needs students that get more funding for special education, more low-income students, and more minorities in some cases.  As well, the LIE they get $3000 less on average is completely false.  As per the DOE’s School Profiles website, statewide school districts receive $12,901 on average student funding whereas charters receive $11,521.  That my lobbyist friend, is a different of $1,380, not $3000.  Nice try.  Charters may not receive capital funding, and you will never let us forget it.  However, they do get some extra perks to make up for that.  We have the Charter School Performance Fund whereby some charters may qualify for up to $250,000 a year from the DOE based on certain criteria.  We have the charter school transportation slush fund, where the charters get to keep any extra transportation funds they don’t use which last year alone was well over a million dollars for most of the charter schools collectively.  As well, they get tons of money from donors like the East Side Foundation, or the Longwood Foundation which pours millions of dollars into charter schools each year.  They gave Odyssey Charter $1.4 million in grant funds for their new school.  As well as numerous other corporate donors.  Traditional school districts aren’t allowed to get these extra perks and aren’t included in the funding calculations the DOE provides.  I would say on average, with all these other factors involved, charters get more funds per average student than traditional school districts.

“…a one size fits all RFP will not take that into consideration and a school could end up paying a significant amount of money for something that they do not need…”

Yet the charters in Delaware seem to be okay with a one size fits all standardized test in the form of Smarter Balanced that gives the illusion of helping vulnerable students but in actuality will further separate them from their peers.  And the charter schools DO need this.  As a state, we must protect our students from funds not reaching the classroom, and if fraud is going on, we are legally and morally responsible to find, fix and punish actions like this.  There are three publicly known charters in Delaware under investigation by the State Auditor’s office: Academy of Dover, Family Foundations Academy and Providence Creek Academy.  Rumors suggest even more, and the auditor’s office confirmed they are looking at several but wouldn’t name any other schools.

“Charter schools support accountability.”

Then this bill should be a no-brainer.  But the reality is they don’t like getting investigated by anyone.  When they do, they often lie to protect themselves.  Because their board meetings are not recorded, and some charters rarely post their board minutes monthly, it is very difficult to know what goes on in these charter schools.  I am not saying this is all charters, but there are enough of them this bill is warranted.  And lest we forget, the Delaware Charter School Network is funded by non-profits, for-profits, and dues paid to them by the charter schools themselves.  If the DOE can’t hold charter schools fully accountable, perhaps we need even more legislation like this to hold their fat to the fire.

Please email the entire House of Representatives in support of House Bill 186.  I apologize for not having a fancy website portal that sends a one size fits all message to legislators, but I can offer your ability to send your own individual and unique message to legislators.  It’s called copy and paste!

Charles.Potter@state.de.us StephanieT.Bolden@state.de.us helene.keeley@state.de.us gerald.brady@state.de.us melanie.g.smith@state.de.us debra.heffernan@state.de.us Bryon.Short@state.de.us Quinton.Johnson@state.de.us Kevin.Hensley@state.de.us sean.matthews@state.de.us jeff.spiegelman@state.de.us Deborah.Hudson@state.de.us john.l.mitchell@state.de.us Peter.Schwartzkopf@state.de.us Valerie.Longhurst@state.de.us jj.johnson@state.de.us Michael.Mulrooney@state.de.us michael.barbieri@state.de.us kimberly.williams@state.de.us Steve.Smyk@state.de.us Michael.Ramone@state.de.us joseph.miro@state.de.us paul.baumbach@state.de.us Edward.Osienski@state.de.us john.kowalko@state.de.us John.Viola@state.de.us Earl.Jaques@state.de.us william.carson@state.de.us trey.paradee@state.de.us bobby.outten@state.de.us Sean.Lynn@state.de.us andria.bennett@state.de.us jack.peterman@state.de.us Lyndon.Yearick@state.de.us David.L.Wilson@state.de.us Harvey.Kenton@state.de.us Ruth.BriggsKing@state.de.us Ronald.Gray@state.de.us Daniel.Short@state.de.us Timothy.Dukes@state.de.us Richard.G.Collins@state.de.us

Markell & News Journal Education Article: My Spin On This & The Two Words Not Mentioned By Anyone

The Delaware News Journal had an article about Governor Markell and education as a front-pager today.  Some of the comments certain folks made were very shocking while others had the usual drivel coming from their education reform views.  What nobody talked about was special education in Delaware.  While the DOE reports about 13% of students having IEPs in Delaware, I’m going to say as many as 20% should have an IEP.  So with 1/5th of Delaware students not even being mentioned in an article on Delaware education is insulting.  Even though my estimate of an IEP population of 20% is high, I would definitely say it affects over 50% of education in Delaware.  Read on as I go through this article part by part with some cold hard reality.

After years of pushing education reforms in Delaware, Gov. Jack Markell is facing a revolt in the General Assembly.

You are also facing a revolt from parents and teachers.  We are sick of all of this.  Especially parents of special needs children.  While you think you are helping, you are making it worse for our children.

Lawmakers, including many from his own party, have little faith Markell’s Department of Education knows what everyday educators think is the best way to improve schools. They are skeptical the $119 million federal Race to the Top grant, one of Markell’s signature education achievements, has done any lasting good.

Markell’s signature education achievement was using $59 million to beef up the DOE with high-paid employees and contract after contract with little or no results.  And it keeps going on.  In the month of May, the DOE has put up seven proposals for “professional services” because they don’t know how to do the work themselves.

Legislators are sending a clear message that they need to more actively make policy on behalf of classroom teachers and district leaders, rather than approving a top-down state agenda led by Markell and his education secretary, Mark Murphy.

But there are still some very tricky legislators who still bow to the Emperor.  Unfortunately, they run the education committees for the House and the Senate.  How long until their house of cards crumbles?

“It’s not just the representatives and the senators who are having problems with the way things are going, it’s parents, it’s teachers, it’s people on the local level,” said Rep. Kim Williams, D-Newark. “There are loud voices out there saying, ‘We’re done. We’re tired of being told how to teach and how to run our schools.’ “

Amen Kim!  No one should be afraid to stare Markell dead in the eye and say “You are wrong!”  It is also parents who have less to fear about speaking up.  Those of us who are screaming at the DOE and Markell are not easily intimidated or fooled.

Markell acknowledges he and Murphy are taking heat for some of their proposals.

Now this is the understatement of the year…  You and Murph are taking heat, but it isn’t for some of your proposals.  It’s for about 90% of them.  And the only reason we aren’t tackling the other 10% is because we haven’t found the catch in those yet.

He contends the education system is improving, pointing to a steadily declining dropout rate, a growing number of students taking and passing Advanced Placement and college-level classes, more low-income students in highly-rated preschool programs and more students applying to college.

I’ll give you a sort-of pass on this.  I question the validity of some of these numbers.  What I can say is homeschooling in Delaware has never been higher.  These are mostly special needs children.  What does that say about special education in Delaware when parents reach such a high level of anxiety and don’t feel the public school system in Delaware can provide a Free Appropriate Public Education for their children?  This will go down as your greatest failure.  While you are trying to “improve” the lives of these children, they have been drop-kicked out of the rights they are legally entitled to.  We have so many denied IEPs, schools openly violating IDEA law, and “counseling out” going on in charters, and no one on your staff is addressing these issues.

“It’s no surprise to me that there’s some controversy and angst over some of the things we’ve done,” Markell said. “But the results speak for themselves. And I’m more concerned about results than I am about what people think about me.”

No matter who pays the price, right?  And I don’t buy for one iota of a second that you don’t care what people think of you.  You and I both know this to be true.  Don’t try to play the “I’m going to take the high road on my actions now” card cause you aren’t fooling anyone.  Everything you have done with education in Delaware has been to serve YOUR future and those of your corporate education reform buddies.

A bill strongly opposed by Markell that would let parents pull their kids out of standardized tests sailed almost unanimously through the State House of Representatives, and several other bills aimed squarely at reducing the authority of the Department of Education are in the works. Budget-writing lawmakers slashed in half a request to continue Race to the Top initiatives and balked at a request to pick up the tab for 10 department positions paid for in the grant.

I am appreciative of what these legislators did, but the DOE doesn’t need a budget increase, they need an audit and an accountability of every single penny they have spent.  Those who have squandered taxpayers funds need to be sent packing.

“I think there’s frustration among parents and educators and students that education policies don’t seem to be based on feedback coming from the classroom,” said Sen. Bryan Townsend, D-Newark. “I think also though that now is a natural time for us to take a step back and re-assess what we’re doing. Race to the Top has naturally come to an end, and I think we’re at a point where the question is, what’s next?”

Massive improvement Senator Townsend!  We need to take an excruciatingly hard look at special education in Delaware.  We need to find out why a student was kicked at a charter school by a special education teacher.  We need to find out why, as of a year ago, there were 60-70 pending special education lawsuits and only a handful of due process hearings.  We need to know why the DOE wants to write Common Core into IEPs without having the ability to fix the IEPs that are already out there.  We need to find a way for parents, teachers, and school districts to effectively collaborate with special education and stop the battleground mentality.  Why are these children and their parents being put through the wringer while the DOE and school districts think they know best?  This philosophy is a dying breed, but no one is listening.

The challenge, Townsend argues, is moving in a new direction without abandoning some of the good things that have happened in schools.  “It’s about our educators who are very justifiably tired of yet another iteration of education reform, but it’s also the business community that sees a lot of progress and wants to see some accountability,” Townsend said. “It’s parents who are trying to be involved in the process. I’m worried that, whatever the next steps are, that people are going to view them as just another round.”

Then my suggestion would be to invite more of them to the table.  The biggest problem with Markell’s policies is they are approved with little or no oversight, and then parents and teachers are invited to rate them with pre-determined results.  As well, the amount of lobbying by companies like Rodel and the Delaware Charter School Network needs to stop.  And yes, I will throw this in there as well, DSEA as well.  Here is a novel idea: parent lobbyists.  They are the most important.  We also do that little thing called VOTING!!!!

There is no better symbol of lawmakers’ willingness to buck Markell’s will than House Bill 50, which would explicitly allow parents to “opt out” of the statewide standardized test.  Markell says that’s a bad idea because the state needs good test-score data to make smart policy, especially when it comes to closing the achievement gap for low-income and minority students.

If the state needs “good test-score data” then what the hell are we doing with the Smarter Balanced Assessment?  And enough about the achievement gap.  The only gap I want to see closed is the one between your upper and lower lip when it comes to education.  The only “smart” policy going on right now is parents exercising their rights when it comes to the educational outcomes of their children.

But when the House took up the opt-out bill, sponsored by firebrand Markell critic Rep. John Kowalko, only three representatives out of 41 voted against it.  That’s a massive margin in a Democrat-controlled chamber for a bill that a Democratic governor has so strenuously protested.  “I was frankly stunned by the margin,” Kowalko said. “That hasn’t happened before.”  Kowalko, who has fiercely criticized Markell in previous years, believes there is a “new awakening” where lawmakers are starting to look more critically at what the executive branch proposes.  Lawmakers say they voted for the bill because they routinely hear from teachers and parents that Delaware tests students too much and stakes too much on the results.

It was also about hundreds of parents actually opting out and emailing the legislators.  It was a wake-up call for the legislators that said “we vote for you and the power we give you we can easily take away.”  This is something folks like Earl Jaques, Michael Barbieri, Timothy Dukes and David Sokola don’t understand.  I don’t buy the whole idea that lawmakers voted yes on HB50 cause they heard from parents their children were being tested too much.  That was the same rationale they used to pass House Bill 334, which allowed Smarter Balanced to officially infest our lives.  I think it was them actually listening to parents and realizing Smarter Balanced is a horrible test.

The Delaware Parent-Teacher Association and the Delaware State Education Association union both urged lawmakers to vote yes.

I would definitely say the Delaware PTA urged lawmakers to vote yes.  They came through hitting grand slams left and right.  DSEA…maybe a bunt here and there.  I see the DSEA’s contribution as being a bit sheepish.  They kind of sort of supported it, but they could have done a lot more.  Look at the New Jersey unions.  They put up billboards and videos all over the place.  That is the kind of support I would have liked to see from the DSEA.  Instead we got the “time to teach, time to learn” videos without once even mentioning parent opt-out.  If that’s the full pressure DSEA can use to support a bill as important as House Bill 50, it’s obvious new leadership is needed.

Markell has acknowledged the concerns over testing, and the Department of Education is reviewing tests to see if any extraneous ones can be eliminated. But Markell says he isn’t backing away from the Smarter Balanced Assessment, the state test that teachers complain is overused in judging students, teachers and schools.

Albright and Starkey, you keep talking about the teachers.  What about the parents?  That’s what House Bill 50 is about.  You are both making the SAME mistake Markell and the DOE keep making: underestimating the will and resolve of parents to protect their kids.

Markell has not said whether he will sign the opt-out legislation if it clears the Senate and reaches his desk. If not, it would not be the first time Markell has wielded his veto pen.  But the governor, working throughout his term with a Democrat-controlled General Assembly, has not found himself in that position much.  Markell has vetoed just 13 pieces of legislation since 2009. And he has never vetoed a bill related to education.

I heard the WDEL interview with Rick Jensen, and when Markell was asked if he would veto House Bill 50 if it came to his desk, there was a distinct “yeah”.  It might have been edited out, but it was there.  I heard it, and so did others.  I hope he realizes if he does veto it, parents will haunt him as long as he holds any semblance of power in Delaware.

The other major education legislation this year would redistrict Wilmington schools and create a weighted funding formula to students. The Wilmington Education Advisory Committee, led by Bank of America Executive Tony Allen, has led the charge for those changes.  Though Markell created the Committee, it has operated independently of the governor and the Department of Education.

Nothing operates independently of Markell and the DOE.  And throw in Rodel there for good measure.  I’ve met Tony Allen, and he’s a great guy.  But I have to wonder what the grand picture is here.  The timing on this was a little too perfect…

Markell supports those bills. But he said his primary focus right now is making sure some of the programs he thinks are most important and have already passed the legislature — higher academic standards and more access to good preschool, for example — grow and are implemented well.  “I don’t have any big new bills that I’ve spent a lot of time on, for sure,” he said. “We’ve started a lot of big things. So a lot of it is not necessarily legislative in nature at this point.”

Except holding the DOE accountable for their actions during your reign.  I can see why you wouldn’t be a big supporter of those bills.  You will sign anything that gets your agenda going, but if it doesn’t you make a few phone calls and get bills stalled or killed.

Legislators are taking steps to shrink the size and power of the Department of Education, which many school district educators believe has grown too powerful under Race to the Top and Markell’s tenure.  There were signs this would be a tough legislative session for the Department well before HB 50.  Near the start, lawmakers grilled Secretary of Education Mark Murphy and senior Department of Education staffers for hours, both in the budget-writing Joint Finance Committee and the House Education Committee.  “You may have a view of the wonderful things Race to the Top has done, but the public does not appear to share that view,” said Rep. Joe Miro, R-Pike Creek Valley.  During legislative budget meetings last week, lawmakers expressed concerns with Markell’s education policy, and voted to cut by half the governor’s $7.5 million plan to fund high-paid positions in the Department and programs previously covered by the Race to the Top.  “I can’t support this spending, this continually throwing money at something that’s not working,” said Sen. Dave Lawson, R-Marydel. “It’s just a poor investment. I don’t think anyone in this room, at this table, would put money into it out of their own pocket. I’m very disappointed in what I’m seeing from the top.”  Members of the budget-writing Joint Finance Committee took extra steps to show they had little confidence in Markell’s education bureaucracy to use the money as intended.  They moved most of the remaining appropriations, more than $3 million, into budget lines that directly fund school district operations, not the Department of Education. And they approved epilogue language that prevents the Department of Education from using any of the money to add or retain positions in the department.  “We want to make sure the money that we did fund goes to the purposes that we’ve specified,” said Rep. Debra Heffernan, D-Bellefonte, a budget committee member. “I just think that the epilogue language clarifies and makes it perfectly clear where that money is going to go.”

Why does it take the amount of money being spent before some legislators wake up after falling asleep at the wheel after years of rampant spending by this Department?  It’s good they are doing it, but next time we get some program like Race To The Top, please do this before millions upon millions of dollars are spent with little or no results for the students.

In addition to shrinking the size of the department, some lawmakers think the state exerts too much influence over schools that should be locally run.  Williams, for example, has filed a bill that would give local administrators and school boards sole authority over hiring and firing.  That’s a direct response, she says, to the state’s controversial Priority Schools plan to improve six inner-city Wilmington schools. State leaders said the plan would funnel much-needed money and talent into schools with sagging test scores, but they soon drew outrage from those schools’ parents and teachers.

What the Delaware DOE should be doing is holding school districts and charter schools more accountable for special education results.  Solely going by the 17 indicators for US DOE compliance and sending letters to schools saying “fix this” is not effective.  I am not against a DOE in and of itself, but they should only be monitoring activities that are outright illegal or not truly for the benefit of students.  Just think what this Department could actually accomplish with special education if they actually did what is necessary?

The Department of Education, which said elite educators could turn around those schools’ sagging test scores, clashed with the Red Clay and Christina School districts, which bristled at the notion that state leaders should have any say in who runs their schools.  Williams and other lawmakers say the fight over Priority Schools, more than any other debate over education, energized opposition among teachers and parents.

What the priority schools initiative did was open the eyes of the general public to what the DOE is willing to do in accomplishing their goals at any cost.  It was very stupid of them to attempt this at the time they did.  That’s what cockiness and arrogance will do every time: bite you in the ass.

Some lawmakers have taken aim at Secretary Murphy in particular.  “We don’t see him day-in, day-out in Legislative Hall, having conversations with us,” Williams said. “I think, unfortunately, people have lost faith in the Department and Secretary Murphy. They’re not willing to just go along with them anymore.”  Sen. Bryan Townsend, D-Newark, has filed a bill that would require the Secretary of Education to have at least 10 years’ experience in schools, at least of six of them as a classroom teacher.  That bill aims to address criticism of Murphy, who was a classroom teacher for only three years before climbing the ranks of administration and education nonprofits.  The Delaware State Education Association, the state’s largest teachers’ union, voted no confidence in Murphy earlier this year, the first time the organization has taken such a step.

I think Townsend’s bill obviously sends a message, but it could also cause someone with Murphy’s ideology but more experience to insert themselves into the DOE.  It would be a very frightening thing what a more knowledgeable and assertive Secretary of Education would be like in this education reform world.  A vote of no confidence is only as good as the ability to follow-up on it, which I have not heard from DSEA.

Murphy, in a statement issued through a spokesperson, cited the same educational achievements as Markell.  “There’s no question that this work has not been easy and we have asked a lot of everyone involved in our education system,” the statement said. “We understand that not everyone agrees with everything we have done and that many pieces of legislation proposed have been in direct response to certain initiatives that have been controversial. That said, the progress our students are making shows that an enormous amount of positive work is happening. We are committed to continuing to make that progress.”

Please Murphy, just be quiet.  We are ALL sick of hearing the same boring things coming out of your mouth.  You have more corporate education reform Kool-Aid around it, and I don’t think you even realize what an idiot you sound like anymore.

Markell said people are rushing to judge the Department because of a few controversial proposals. The Department doesn’t get enough credit, he argues, for coordinating things like the state’s College Application Month, where kids signed up for college during the school day, or Pathways to Prosperity, where students get real-world experience that sets them up for careers.  “Most of what the Department does is not controversial,” Markell said. “And even our biggest detractors have recognized that [Priority Schools] has brought some much needed attention to these schools, even if it got a lot of people really riled up.”

And who has benefited the most from these initiatives Jack?  That’s something on my to-do list.

Markell has his defenders, including Rep. Melanie George Smith, the budget committee’s co-chair who came to the governor’s defense amid criticism last week.  “What we have in front of us is our governor….who has spent an awful lot of his administration really focused on what we can do better to help teachers, what we can do better to help students,” Smith said during public budget negotiations.

Wow! I would say he has spent far too much time during his administration interfering and causing disruptions in education.  The fact you want to defend this man while our education is damaged is very telling….

Some political observers say backlash is almost a given.  “When you try to make drastic change, you’re going to hit nerves, on both sides,” said Rhett Ruggerio, a longtime Democratic operative and Dover lobbyist who represents charter schools. Everybody is well intentioned. The problem is they have strong philosophical differences.”  Ruggerio said much of the disagreement appears to have stemmed from Race to the Top, and questions over whether the program’s experiments have helped Delaware’s public schools.  Ruggerio defended Murphy, saying he “has been pretty aggressive, I think for the right reasons. He wants to make change,” Ruggerio said. “It’s very difficult to do that unless you’re willing to take a risk.”

Who let the Delaware Charter School Network in on this article?  Out of all the folks not hired by the state, you use DCSN as your “impartial” third party observer?  When any legislation is opposed by Markell and the Kool-Aid gang, these non-profits like Rodel and DCSN send in their overpaid lobbyists to whisper sweet nothings in the legislators ears.  Ruggerio and his boss Kendall have obviously benefited from the reform agendas Markell thrust upon Delaware.  This is where you lose a tremendous amount of credibility News Journal.  How many everyday parents did you contact for this article?  By my estimation, that would be a grand total of zero.  I guess parents aren’t part of the process…

The growing backlash against “education reform” in Delaware mirrors a national trend that has seen the rise of groups like the “Badass Teachers’ Association,” a loose coalition of fed-up educators. In places like New York, the outcry has gotten so loud that some school districts have seen more than half of parents opt their kids out of standardized tests.

A loose coalition with well over 50,000 members.  Wake up Albright and Starkey.  Just like that “small but vocal minority” of parents who want to opt-out.  I love the way you try to reduce these groups that have tremendous impact while pumping up groups like DCSN.  No bias here…

Delaware lawmakers “are focused on making sure all Delaware public school students have a real chance to achieve success,” said Frederika Jenner, president of the Delaware State Education Association, the teachers union.  With the expiration of Race to the Top funding, “now is the time for the General Assembly to weigh in on what they believe has worked and what hasn’t worked,” Jenner said.  If the momentum really is shifting in Delaware education policy, many people, like Sen. Townsend, hope that doesn’t mean everything built in the past few years crumbles.  “I think a key point is that there have been successes and there have been some not-so-successes,” Townsend said. “We understand there’s a need for course-correction. But let’s not pretend that everything hasn’t gone well.”  Townsend said, for example, that the state’s move to the Common Core State Standards will be a good thing, even though some schools have faced hiccups in implementing it. Common Core is a set of new, higher academic expectations for students.

So Senator Bryan Townsend is a supporter of Common Core but is against many of the evils that crawled through the back door in Delaware education when the DSEA, Delaware PTA and all the school districts and charters signed up for Race To The Top?  After coercion and political wrangling by the DOE and Markell?  This is part of the whole education reform movement.  People want to remove bits and pieces, but as long as the foundation is there, it remains.  I define this movement as Common Core, high-stakes standardized assessments, labeling and punishing schools over test scores while increasing the number of charter schools, the illusion of increasing supports for special needs students while teachers and administrators fight parents over the most basic of supports, hundreds of reform “non-profits” and “for-profits” invading every aspect of education and making billions of dollars that should be going to our schools, and the eventual destruction of public education and the teacher unions.  Senator Townsend, you can’t cherry-pick what stays and goes.  And let your legislator and DSEA friends know this too.  It’s all for one, and one for all.  I would be very wary about trying to fill the power vacuum when all of this crumbles without getting everything cleaned out of the wound.  I would be even more wary about your support for Common Core if you hope to get elected again.

Markell frequently says adopting and defending those standards in Delaware in the face of growing national criticism is one of his highest school priorities. In other states, lawmakers have eliminated or drastically modified Common Core, but, though some teachers have criticized the standards’ implementation here, no serious repeal effort has gained steam in the General Assembly. 

See my previous paragraph.  What Jack is saying here is even though he is being challenged on many fronts, he is working behind-the-scenes to make sure the foundation is still there long after he is gone.  Don’t worry Jack, Common Core and it’s elimination is coming sooner than you think.  This isn’t a forgotten issue.

Some of the inroads Markell’s administration has made with getting the business community involved in education, connecting students with jobs, internships and real-life learning experiences, should be made more common, Townsend said.

Markell has made it a priority to get the business community to take over education in our state, whether it was homegrown in Delaware or out-of-state.  And all of these lower-paying jobs and internships save these companies millions of dollars in salaries they would otherwise be paying.  Some of it is good, but the motivation behind it is not for the benefit of students.  It was, is, and always will be about money with Markell.

Though Townsend agrees with many teachers that the state’s way of judging teachers needs a great deal of work, he says Delaware is ahead of other states in some ways.  “I think this concept of trying to have accountability is important,” he said. “We need to improve it, definitely, but let’s not just get rid of this idea entirely.” 

This is the big elephant in the room.  If we don’t judge teachers by standardized tests, what do we judge them on?  Should teachers be blamed for events outside of the classroom in students regular lives?  Absolutely not.  But if their actions contribute to those actions, than I would say yes.  As an example, say a student with disabilities doesn’t have her IEP followed.  As a result, she doesn’t perform to the best of her ability because those supports aren’t being enforced.  As she becomes more frustrated, she starts acting out at school.  This becomes a part of her very fabric and it spills over into the “outside” world.  So while she was having problems in school, it is now everywhere.  Should teachers and schools be held accountable for things like this?  I think every single parent of a special needs child who has faced these kinds of issues would say yes.  It is essential that teachers and schools know special education and IDEA law like the back of their hand.

With Markell approaching the end of his second term, many lawmakers say the next governor will play a big role in steering the state’s educational future.  “I think one of the things our next governor is going to be elected on is education,” Williams said. “I know that’s going to be the biggest factor for me.”

Some would say Jack Markell was elected because of his talk about education before he was elected. I would personally like to see a gutting of the Delaware DOE, build it up from the bottom all the way to the top with employees who care more about education than what we have seen in this “corporate education reform” world.  I would also like to see less talk from a state Governor about education and more about creating more jobs in our state and reallocating funds so the citizens of the state don’t suffer needlessly.  Whoever the new Secretary of Education may be, it would be my hope he/she is the spokesperson for education in our state, and has the skills, knowledge and compassion to truly fix education in our state, not make it worse.

Who Are The House Bill 50 Lobbyists? Easy To Pick Out The Pro & Con Crowd On This One!

I found a very awesome website today that actually gives you the lobbying activity for each bill in the Delaware General Assembly.  So who is making visits to Legislative Hall?  This information comes from: https://egov.delaware.gov/Lobs/Explore/ExploreActivity where you can check on any legislative bill currently in session.
Lobbying Activity

Title Description Date Entered Lobbyist Name Employer
HB 50 (Kowalko) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATION ASSESSMENT. 4/18/2015 Bill Doolittle PTA Delaware Congress
HB 50 (Kowalko) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATION ASSESSMENT. 4/17/2015 William McMurray We, The Little People
HB 50 (Kowalko) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATION ASSESSMENT. 4/13/2015 Paul Herdman Rodel Foundation of Delaware
HB 50 (Kowalko) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATION ASSESSMENT. 3/27/2015 Jordan Seemans Delaware Charter School Networl
HB 50 (Kowalko) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATION ASSESSMENT. 3/24/2015 Melissa Hopkins Rodel Foundation of Delaware
HB 50 (Kowalko) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATION ASSESSMENT. 3/24/2015 Kimberly B. Gomes Delaware Business Roundtable Education Committee, Inc.
HB 50 (Kowalko) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATION ASSESSMENT. 3/24/2015 Robert L. Byrd Delaware Business Roundtable Education Committee, Inc.
HB 50 (Kowalko) AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATION ASSESSMENT. 3/24/2015 Rebecca Byrd Delaware Business Roundtable Education Committee, Inc.

The Full Family Foundations Academy Audit, and the State Audit isn’t even done yet!

As Kilroy and NewsWorks wrote, the full financial audit for Family Foundations Academy by Auphsite Consulting has been released by the Delaware Department of Education.  I have to say, I was suspicious of Auphsite at first.  When I viewed the initial 40 page audit, I thought it was odd.  When I heard about a 200 page audit, I assumed it was the state audit that was being done.  But then I heard it was still being worked on.  I had no idea this was also done as it was just put on the DOE website yesterday.

I seriously think criminal charges should be leveled against this Dynamic Duo.  There are a lot of low-income children in this school, but the heads of school treated funding like it was their own personal ATM machine.  And this only covers a certain period of time.  What about before that?  And sorry, I don’t believe for one second Sean Moore stopped using the p-card after this audit.  What about all those very high Comcast Spotlight charges Sean?  The ones done very recently?  I did see on your Instagram page that you had some fun courtside at a Sixers game recently.  But the big kicker: you two used a loan for Capital improvements to pay for your purchases.  You two are either the dumbest people I’ve ever met thinking you wouldn’t get caught, or the two smartest because the DOE turned a blind eye to it for years!  Was the John Legend concert in NYC a school field trip?

Auphsite recommended the following after completing the audit:

According to Kilroy there is an even bigger bomb to drop with this school.  Is that something with the attorney firm in Philadelphia they paid $300,000 to in 2014?  Or certain Mercedes Benz purchases?  Or certain purchases on a state purchase card that were bought and paid for and then sold through a Paypal account to members of the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity?  Or the fact that Providence Creek Academy and Family Foundations Academy switched to the same auditor for their 2013-2014 charter school audit?  Don’t forget Chuck Taylor and Sean Moore were on the governing board at the Delaware Charter Schools Network and even though Chuck is no longer Head of School at PCA, a family member has a very vested interest in that school and Chuck is STILL President of the DCSN Governing Board.  Or is there something even bigger out there waiting to be revealed?

Lest we forget, there is also the audit by Delaware Auditor of Accounts Tom Wagner’s office.  Will that reveal even more?  An anonymous commenter wrote last week that Sean Moore was suspended from the school.  If he is out, and Dr. Brewington is on extended leave of absence, who is running the school?  And will anyone go after the Delaware DOE for allowing the heads of this school to use state credit cards for personal use?

To read more about this deeply troubled Wilmington charter school, please read NewsWorks article by Avi Wolfman Arent at http://www.newsworks.org/index.php/delaware/item/76803-audit-details-financial-impropriety-at-delaware-charter?l=df

 

More Christmas Gifts For The Enemies of Delaware Public Education Part 2 @KilroysDelaware @ed_in_de @RCEAPrez @Apl_Jax @nannyfat @ecpaige @Roof_O @DelawareBats #netde #eduDE #Delaware #edchat

More holiday surprises for those that vex the educators, students and parents of public school districts!

patheffernan

This next one goes to a member of the Delaware State Board of Education.  Perhaps the most outspoken member of the board, but because of this, one of the most controversial.  The highlight of the year for him was his comments during their April meeting, or what I like to call, Charterpalooza!  Since you mentioned the huge charter influx being like anyone coming and applying and opening up a clown school, I thought I would give you your very own!

clownschool

For the other member of your board, who I won’t out, because he/she uses a different name when he/she comments on my blog, I will give the most favorite thing he/she likes at Christmas.  This one’s for you Dee!

whamlastchristmas

The next Christmas present recipient is someone anyone familiar with charter schools in Delaware should know.  She comes to state board meetings every single month, and she has a better attendance record at the DOE than some other members of the board.  With looks that can kill and a heart of stone (no, really, it’s a stone), she is the one and only (thank God), Kendall Massett!

kendall

For the charter school diva of Delaware, I wanted to give her something very special.  I challenged her network last summer to discuss special education more.  Instead, I got banned from the Delaware Charter Schools Network’s Twitter account.  In fact, after my last post about Kendall, I can’t even view their Twitter feed.  Obviously, I’m not feeling the love from DCSN!  But I won’t give up, so Kendall, this one’s for you!

IDEAWrightsLaw

It’s a handy-dandy guide to something called IDEA.  It helps students with disabilities to get special education.  I can tell you what is shameful to the spirit of this law, and that is naming your annual awards show after this law.  You see, there’s this little thing going on in Delaware regarding segregation and discrimination, against minorities AND special needs students.  The ACLU mentioned something about it recently.  And since your network is the cheerleader for charters in the state, I think you should change the name of your annual awards show.  But in the meantime, enjoy this other present I got for you.  I thought of you when I saw it!  Not only is it one of my favorite songs from 1990, but the title reminds me of something you wrote in the News Journal recently…

michaelpennnomyth

More Christmas giving is coming from Exceptional Delaware!  Stay tuned…

 

Family Foundations Academy: “potentially serious allegations of financial mismanagement”

As the drums of war continue to beat against Family Foundations Academy, news surfaced at the Delaware State Board of Education meeting yesterday that a 200 page audit of the embattled school was received by the Delaware Department of Education the day before.

Patrick Heffernan, a member of the board, stated he was “very disappointed this report came in at the 11th hour”, a day before the board had to decide on their charter renewal.

While it wasn’t implicitly said, there was a general feeling there were serious questions about the audit the school had done last winter, with Auphsite Consulting Group.  I had my own questions about that report as it blindly accepted what the school said were education expenses.  Furthermore, the individuals who compiled the audit were questionable.  I searched the three members on the report, Darnell Sulaiman, Nakisha Hadi, and Terri Muhammad.  I did find information on Sulaiman and Muhammad, but Nakisha Hadi, the financial analyst and certified forensic accountant does not appear to even exist.  Anywhere.  The only places that show them as a legitimate business appear on the company’s own website at 1500 Walnut St., Ste. 700 and a Manta business listing that shows them at a separate address, which is a row-house in Philadelphia, not the Walnut Street address on the report and their website.

Another company in Philadelphia, on Market Street, is Charter School Renewal, a company run by Alan Wohlstetter, a former attorney for Fox Rothschild.  Wohlstetter appears to be the current attorney for Family Foundations Academy based on the Delaware Charter School Office documents on their own website.  Fox Rothschild had many payments sent to them in 2014 from Family Foundations Academy, totaling well over $320,000.00.  Wohlstetter recently joined the firm of Zarwin, Baum, DeVito, Kaplan, Schaer, Toddy, P.C.  In their news release for Wohlstetter’s placement in the firm, they wrote the following:

Prior to joining the firm, Alan Wohlstetter was involved in financing more than thirty charter schools, serving as a Bond Counsel or Underwriter’s Counsel for schools in Pennsylvania, California, Texas, and Colorado. Most recently, he closed a $30 million bond financing for a Philadelphia charter school and currently serves as General Counsel to three charter schools. What’s more, Alan also serves as President of Charter School Renewal, a consulting firm which helps charter schools navigate change. 

Last June, Wohlstetter wrote a document for Fox Rothschild called Common Ground In Education: Closing Pennsylvania’s Low-Performing Charter Schools.

Another attorney from Fox Rothschild, Wali Rushdan, appeared to be helping Family Foundations Academy at their September 30th board meeting by taking minutes of the meeting.  Rushdan is also a member of the very same Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity that all the members of the Family Foundations Board and Head of School Sean Moore belong to.  While this could all appear to be coincidence, it should definitely be looked into by investigators.  There are just way too many connections here folks, and there needs to be answers and explanations to all of this in a public forum.

As well, Moore served as treasurer of the Delaware Charter School Network governing board.  This advocacy group for Delaware charter schools is essentially a lobbyist firm for charters.  According to their 2012 Form 990, the organization spent $24,000.00 in lobbying costs.  If Sean Moore was treasurer for this group, and he is behind a great deal of the financial malfeasance at Family Foundations Academy, I would have to wonder if he misspent funds there as well.

I reached out to State Auditor Tom Wagner’s office this morning but no one was able to talk at this point in time and I am awaiting a return call.  As well, I called Auphsite Consulting Group which does answer as Darnell Sulaiman but I was unable to connect with anyone there as well.

To be continued I’m sure…

Family Foundations Acad. Head of School Sean Moore No Longer Treasurer of Delaware Charter School Network

That was quick!  Two days ago, the Delaware Charter School Network Governing Board had Family Foundations Academy Head of School Sean Moore listed as their treasurer.  Today, he is no longer listed as a member of the board.  It seems even the great charter school cheerleading organization wants to distance themselves from the controversial Moore.  One individual loosely connected with the network, who wished to remain anonymous, said “Sean Moore is toxic to anyone associated with him right now.  I’m not surprised at all.”

Family Foundations Academy is now under financial investigation by the Delaware State Auditor of Accounts, and sources tell me Tom Wagner is overseeing this case.  Expect more news on this soon.  Once the regular media jumps on this story, it will blow up quick.  But remember, Kilroy broke this story first, and I quickly jumped on it.  And who says blogs are crap?

DE Charter School Network Connections With Family Foundations Academy Disaester

The embattled Head of School for Family Foundation Academy, Sean Moore, is also the treasurer for the Delaware Charter School Network.  On the Charter School Accountability Committee (CSAC) is Chuck Taylor, who is the President of the Governing Board of the Delaware Charter School Network.  Taylor is listed on the CSAC Voting Committee as a “community member” and “former charter school leader”.

It is obvious there could be a large conflict of interest with Taylor and Moore serving on the same board.  Taylor, in my opinion, should have recused himself from dealing with this school’s charter renewal, especially in light of the forthcoming financial improprieties that will be coming out shortly.  But the very fact Taylor is listed as “community member” and not his true role, and the fact that Kendall Massett, the executive director of the DE Charter School Network is allowed to ask questions during a charter renewal committee meeting is suspect in itself.  The DE Charter School Network is a non-profit company whose mission is to support the charter schools in their network.  But it is obvious they have way too much influence at the DOE.  If they want to act like union reps, they should call themselves that.

Things keep piling up against Family Foundations Academy, the charter school in Wilmington, DE that is up for charter renewal.  Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy will make a decision at the Delaware State Board of Education  meeting on Thursday, December 18th.

During the schools initial charter school renewal meeting on October 14th, the board and heads of school were grilled by the CSAC, and you can see where, in my opinion, Chuck Taylor crossed the line.  It’s a lengthy read, but goes into a lot of what has been already released.  But don’t think this is the end for Family Foundations, there will be more coming.

I’ve written the DOE gave Family Foundations Academy a pass while Gateway and Reach were given a trip to the guillotine, but I don’t think things are looking too good for this Animal House charter.

Delaware Charter School Network’s Kendall Massett says ACLU Complaints are “Myths”

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Kendall Massett, the director of the Delaware Charter Schools Network, has a lot to say about the ACLU complaint. A lot more than the DOE. In an article on WDDE, she gave a lot of comments to them about these charter school issues.

Delaware Charter Schools Network executive director Kendall Massett says many of the issues raised in the complaint have been heard before. “These complaints are not new to any state that has a charter school law. These allegations, myths – we actually call them myths – are actually talked about all over the United States,” said Massett.

Are the minority, low-income and special education statistics on the Delaware DOE School Profiles website myths Kendall? http://profiles.doe.k12.de.us/SchoolProfiles/State/Default.aspx Yes, this is talked about all over the United States. Want to know why? Because organizations like yours and the Delaware DOE allow it to happen and ignore it by calling them myths.

Massett adds charters in the First State face plenty of scrutiny and oversight under the state’s law…

But it takes a complaint by the ACLU to the OCR for these types of issues to be addressed…

…and there are examples of charters that serve large minority, low income and special needs student populations and are succeeding – including EastSide Charter in Wilmington and Positive Outcomes in Camden. Massett says Delaware has a number of charter schools, including Wilmington’s EastSide Charter School and Kuumba Academy Charter Schools, and ASPIRA Academy Charter School in Newark that enroll a majority of African American and Hispanic students, and low-income students, and these schools are doing well or have seen improving test scores.

Aren’t you kind of throwing a grenade on defending these schools against this complaint with these comments Kendall? If this does go to trial, I’m sure the ACLU attorneys would love to get you on the stand!

She also pointed to Positive Outcomes Charter School in Camden which serves at-risk children with physical, mental, and emotional challenges and is meeting state standards, based on their Academic Framework.

You still can’t say the words special education, can you Kendall? I know I was banned from your Twitter account for saying this exact same thing last summer. Too bad you can’t ban me on my own blog! How is that other special needs charter school in Delaware doing? The one you didn’t mention in the article? The one your organization has stabbed in the back by not standing up for them against the DOE? It’s called Gateway Lab School.

Massett says its simply untrue parental involvement issues or fees and costs are a barrier to a student attending a charter. “Our schools are not allowed by law to prohibit any child [from attending] based on an inability to fundraise or pay for a uniform – just like any public school,” said Massett.

Just because a school is not allowed by law to do something means they are following the law. Otherwise you wouldn’t be commenting on allegations that these schools are breaking the law. Interesting how you never brought up the actual applications these charter schools have.

– See more at: http://www.wdde.org/70472-aclu-delaware-files-federal-complaint-state-charter-schools#sthash.QREgRuky.dpuf

Gateway Lab School Recommended To Close But DE Academy Public Safety & Security Gets A Pass, Something Is Very Wrong Here

In reviewing the decisions made by the Charter School Accountability Committee for Delaware, there is an obvious bias against Gateway Lab School.  Delaware Academy of Public Safety & Security (DAPPS), with their special education population of 12.6%, had their charter renewed.

DAPPS was rated Does Not Meet for the past three years under academic proficiency.  Their financial accountability was fail in 2011-2012, does not meet in 201-2013 and fail again in 2013-2014.  Their organizational rating was does not meet for 2011-2012 and 2012-2013, but managed to meet for 2013-2014.  For Gateway, they were rated meets in both financial and organizational this year.

Below are the final reports from the Charter School Accountability Committee:

There a few things that stuck out to me.  One is the membership of Charles (Chuck) Taylor on this committee.  They have him as a community member and Former Charter School Leader.  While these are both true, Chuck Taylor is also the President of the Delaware Charter Schools Network Governing Board.  Why would they not list him as such as he holds such a lofty position?  In the DAPSS final report, David Blowman, the Deputy Secretary of the Delaware DOE, is talked about.  “He noted that the Financial Framework section does not meet standard, but stated that is not a concern.”  Yet the school is only at 76% capacity with 363 students out of a maximum enrollment of 420.   For charter schools, if they are not financially viable, then they cannot operate.  But this isn’t a concern, based on a promise they will get their enrollment up for the next school year when several other charter schools will be opening?

For DAPSS, in 2013-2014, their Math proficiency score percentage for students with disabilities was 31.3% and for ELA it was 30.1%.  For Gateway, their Math was 28.3% and ELA was 30.3%.  While DAPSS did only slightly better in Math for students with disabilities, Gateway did slightly better in ELA.  If you are going to judge a whole school for proficiency scores for these types of students, then you need to be consistent across the board, regardless of the population.

For Gateway, they are compared to their home district, which is Red Clay Consolidated School District.  These would be listed as similar schools.  But they are not similar schools with Gateway having such a high population of special education students.  But Positive Outcomes, in Kent County, has their proficiency ratings compared to forty different schools in the area that specialize in learning disabilities and high populations of special education students.  This seems like a very glaring bias against Gateway.  How can they be judged as failing when the very metric they are being measured for is extremely flawed?  I have nothing but the utmost respect for Positive Outcomes, but Gateway should be judged academically the same way Positive Outcomes is.  Would they still be rated as failing if they were held against that correct standard?

To view these two very different pieces of data, go to the following:

http://www.doe.k12.de.us/cms/lib09/DE01922744/Centricity/domain/151/reports/performance%20review%20reports/2013-14%20performance%20framework%20reports/Gateway201314AcademicPFReport.pdf

http://www.doe.k12.de.us/cms/lib09/DE01922744/Centricity/domain/151/reports/performance%20review%20reports/2013-14%20performance%20framework%20reports/POCSRevised1314AcademicPFReport.pdf

There is something fundamentally and morally wrong when a state wants to recommend the closure of a school for special needs children using flawed comparison data.  So then I must ask, what is the true purpose of this decision?  I can guess and theorize as to what that might be, but at the end of the day, none of that guessing will help the students and parents of these children being forced to make hard decisions.  If I were these parents, I would be filing an Office of Civil Rights violation against the Delaware Department of Education immediately.

Charter schools in Delaware discriminate all the time with enrollment preferences and denial of special education services.  But when a charter school gets it right, they are given a knife in the back.  There is no justice.

Rodel’s CEO Dr. Herdman Sent An Email Re: Rodel Article, My Response & Challenge

To understand the context of this article, you need to read this one first.  It will take a while, but it’s worth it!  https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2014/11/19/delaware-race-to-the-top-hedge-funds-millions-wasted-the-story-of-rodel-markell-charters-the-vision-network-kilroysdelaware-ed_in_de-dwablog-apl_jax-nannyfat-ecpaige-delawarebat/

From: Paul Herdman <pherdman@comcast.net>
To: “kevino3670@yahoo.com” <kevino3670@yahoo.com>
Sent: Thursday, November 20, 2014 9:12 PM
Subject: Connecting

Someone forwarded me your blog post on me. Did you ever think to call me to verify any of your information? At base, your basic accusation that Rodel is making money off the system is absolutely false. I suppose you can write what you want but if you actually have an interest in telling/learning the truth, eg my first teaching job was as a special needs teacher, then I’d be happy to actually have a conversation. But I don’t think it’s fair to make false claims about a person’s character or intent and then post it without actually verifying what you wrote.

Again, happy to engage face to face rather than through the blogosphere .

Paul Herdman

Sent from my iPhone

And my response to Dr. Paul Herdman:

Paul,

Thank you for reaching out to me. You asked if I ever thought to call you to verify any of my information. I did research based on public information available on the internet or information that has been written by other organizations or individuals. I formed a theory based on this data, and formed an opinion based on it. But for the most part, I was just presenting information that is widely available for anyone to see. I very much have an interest in telling and learning the truth. I write articles based on information I find or information that is given to me by multiple sources.

I was not aware your first job was as a special needs teacher, as that information was not on your public LinkedIn profile or any other material I looked at. I know Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy was a special education teacher in one of his first jobs as well. I do not have a high opinion of him, as I’m sure you well know if you bothered to read my over 400 articles on my blog. You have been mentioned before on my blog as well, so I would encourage you to find out my positions on matters before I am judged for not telling the truth.

I don’t think it is any type of secret that Rodel has been a very active participant in the charter school movement in Delaware. To those who read information on the education reform movement, it is painfully obvious what the true agendas are here. And that is the complete and utter destruction of the public school system as it was set up prior to charter schools. You all but said so in your TEDxDelaware speech last month. We may agree that there is room for improvement. However, Rodel and yourself (as a representative of numerous other organizations and their committees, boards and task forces over the past 10 years) have been instrumental in being a “catalyst” for certain education reforms. These “catalyzing moments” set up the production of data that the Delaware Department of Education and Governor Markell have used to hurt schools, educators, and students.

As well, my number one concern and priority with Rodel and yourself, as I have read much of your commentary on the subject, is the charter school movement in Delaware. If you did any research on me, you would know full well how I have come to this point. I have a special needs son who, in my opinion, was psychologically abused at a Delaware charter school. I am not sure why they denied him an IEP when he CLEARLY qualified for one, but this happens in many charter schools in Delaware. As well, the enrollment preferences for a system based on “parental choice” is an oxymoron, in my opinion. How can any school have any type of preference, unless it is clearly indicated (such as Gateway, Positive Outcomes, or Charter School of Wilmington), and ask discriminating questions on their application? The charter school lotteries are not public events, so nobody can ascertain how they pick applicants. Statistics show exactly how many special needs children are served (or under served) at all the charter schools in the state, and Rodel supports and helps to build the charter schools, therefore I am against Rodel vehemently. To be in the position you are in, as well as the Delaware DOE, you would have to be blind not to see the reality. And yet, you, Rodel, Governor Markell and the Delaware DOE turn a blind eye to this reality.

I’m glad you told me you were a special education teacher. This makes what you and Rodel have done even more perplexing. These situations have caused pain and suffering that no family should have to go through. I would love to talk to you about all this. And I think we should do it in a location where you can see the fruits of your labor. Somewhere the impact of Rodel is being felt every single day. I think we should meet seven times, in seven different locations. I will meet you face to face at the following locations, for 6-7 hours each day, preferably between the hours of 8am to 2pm, on any Monday to Friday, but not on a holiday, weekend or when kids might be off: Bancroft Elementary School, Bayard Middle School, Stubbs Elementary School, Warner Elementary School, Shortlidge Academy, Highlands Elementary School, and Gateway Lab School.

I know we would have a lot to talk about, but we wouldn’t want to inconvenience any of the students or educators in these excellent education centers, so we can talk and help out. We can get to know these students and their educators. I firmly believe standardized test scores do not give anyone a clear snapshot of students in the classroom, so this is our chance to see exactly what is going on in these priority schools and the charter school in Newcastle County with over 1/2 of it’s student population as special education. You don’t even have to come alone, you can even bring Kendall Massett, Governor Markell, and Secretary of Education Mark Murphy with you. I’m sure the folks at these schools would love to talk with you as well.

Since we would have so much time to spend together, feel free to bring all financial information for any non-profit company you have been involved in or are currently a part of. If you sit on their board, please include their financial information as well. Since non-profits state they will give financial information to the public if they ask, I would also like to see all information on the hedge funds Rodel invests in. I would like clear documentation on how much Rodel has invested in these hedge funds going back to their start and their returns, and since the Rodel Pebbles AA Multi-Strategy Hedge Fund is obviously a hedge fund created by Rodel, I would like a list of all investors involved in that hedge fund as well as the returns Rodel has received from it. Now I know these are off-shore accounts, but you did ask if I had an interest in learning the truth. Oh, and I also need to know the reason Rodel gave the DE State Board of Education $10,000.00 in fiscal year 2013. I’m sure I’ll have lots of other financial questions.

One thing I did want to clear up was an item on your résumé I was very confused about. On LinkedIn, you wrote that you were a “Senior Policy Analyst/Undersecretary for Massachusetts Governor Weld”. But on the paper you co-wrote in 2000, entitled “Are Charter Schools Getting More Money Into The Classroom: A Micro-Financial Analysis of First Year Charter Schools in Massachusetts”, you had in the biography that you “worked in the Charter School Office in Massachusetts”. I was a bit confused on the two contradictions. So if you could set the record straight, that would be super.

If you’ve read other articles on my blog, you would know I’m also a big fan of transparency. So since this is a state-wide public matter and you are a very public figure, I will be putting your email and my response in an article. As you write many blog articles for Rodel, and thousands of citizens of Delaware have read the article, you must understand that we owe our readers the truth, not follow-up, closed meetings with no visible transparency.

I’m looking forward to meeting with you at the priority schools and Gateway Lab School. Thanks a bunch, and I await your response!

Kevin Ohlandt

Did Kuumba Academy Get Their Money Problems Solved? @KilroysDelaware @ed_in_de @dwablog @delawareonline #netde #eduDE

According to Kuumba Academy’s June School Board minutes, they were facing a possible loan default from their bank.  It appeared the school was in some dire straits based on the minutes.  Take a look:

Lynne inquired if the Charter Performance fund is in danger of being reduced further- will follow-up with Kendall Massett to see if she has any additional information

Financial Update, Bernard granted permission to post

DCIC bank consortium- some of the banks may not want to consider a modification of the loan- interest only for the next 12 months with a brief description of the scenario requiring the loan modification 

Notifying There if DLHS defaults on July 1 payment

Bernard reviewed the Engagement letter for the FY14 audit and also provided a summary of the conversation with Ed regarding the possibility of a going concern due to the DLHS possible loan default.  Audit due to state by 9/30. Board hopes to have this resolved by mid-September.  We will also need to articulate the ways that we made reductions to trim down our budget.  We need to confirm with Michelle the required reserve amount possible (to cover salary and benefits).

Language to lenders:

Unfavorable circumstances, tenants have defaulted on their loan. Track record, transition, workable solution. . . (lynne will work with Sally to draft)

Sally to follow-up with DCIC to respond in writing to the Line of Credit request so that we have the documentation for our records. We need to outline also that our ask lined up with the DLHS decision to postpone enrollment

Lynne recommends we push TD Bank to see what they can do

There was no July Board meeting, but it looks like things improved in August:

-Awarded $425,000 from the Charter Performance Fund

Financial Update

-Proposed amended budget—rent is significantly higher (1,051,164) due to having rent at CEB and 519

-ending fund balance is $593,275 on proposed budget

Sally makes a motion to approve the July financials for posting, Dr. Coker seconds, all approved

So let me get this straight.  The State of Delaware is going to give six priority schools $5.8 million over four years, but after $160,000 (minimum) salary for a new school leader and $50,000 a year for someone to organize the whole thing for each school, that leaves $31,666 a year for each school.  This is not including any other financial demands the state would impose upon each school.  $31,666 for the six schools in Delaware with very high populations of low income, minorities, and special education students.  And they get $31,666 a year.  But Kuumba Academy, a charter school, gets $425,000 to essentially save them from a loan default.  From the blessed Charter School Performance Fund.  It’s obvious which way the wind blows from Dover.  Ridiculous!  Just call charter school diva Kendall Massett at the Delaware Charter School Network and she will fix all your problems.  I didn’t know the “Performance” Fund was a bail-out fund!  Hey Kendall, I need a new fridge, can you hook me up?

And to add insult to injury, the July financials they speak of aren’t even listed on their website, and they haven’t had a Citizen Budget Oversight Committee meeting since May of this year.  Or at least it isn’t listed on their website.  But the beautiful part is they actually list the Delaware state code that requires them to update this information MONTHLY!!!!

 

Wilmington City Council Member Darius Brown Invites Many To Discuss Priority Schools, But Not The Districts They Reside In, Not Cool @KilroysDelaware @ed_in_de #netde #eduDE

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Now why would Wilmington City Council Member Darius Brown neglect to invite the Red Clay Consolidated and Christina school districts to this “Wilmington’s Struggling Schools” meeting?  But of course the DOE, who is getting hammered left and right over this state takeover will be on hand to pass out their propaganda.  Why would they invite Rodel and the Delaware Charter School Network?  What are the “plans to improve our schools”?  Let me guess, someone will say “Why don’t we make them charter schools”, and Governor Markell or Secretary of Education Murphy will say “Hmm, that’s a good idea.”  Twitter tags can say A LOT folks, so who is the Wilmington City Council in bed with?

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You’ll Never Guess What My Son Got In The Mail Yesterday!!! Will He Go? Hell No!!!

So I get home from work yesterday, go to the mailbox, and I see this in there:

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For those unfamiliar with this story, please read this: https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2014/06/21/disability-discrimination-local-church-youth-leader-assaults-my-son/

and this: https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2014/06/23/eagles-wings-ministries-started-their-bible-school-this-week-parents-beware/

and this: https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2014/06/24/the-eagles-wings-ministries-and-pizza-google-search/

Okay, now that you know the lowdown, I will address the rest of this post to Eagles Wings Ministries. before you go, please don’t go to this bizarre Lion King Pride Rock thing. A guy named Jim Jones had some church thing with Kool-Aid once. Stay home, watch Shark Week. It’s free, and your children won’t be emotionally scarred. But if you do go, watch your kids, especially if they don’t go on the slip and slide! Back to the church that may have named themselves after a Bette Midler song.

Are you out of your friggin’ mind? You knew my son lived in this neighborhood. You couldn’t have done just a tiny bit of research to know which mailbox NOT to put your Lion King Thing inside of? Really? Do you honestly think for one second I would bring my child back to your Child Abuse-Denial Church? The odds of me ever bringing him back to your little safari adventure are about as great as me bringing him to special education night at Campus Community School with Janet Asay Miller and Chuck Taylor. My bad, Chuck isn’t there anymore. He’s too busy blowing the Charter School Network trumpet. Or is that Kendall? You can never tell these days. Hey Readers, did you check this out: https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2014/07/18/the-charter-school-network-wants-you-to-comment-cmon-special-needs-parents-lets-comment-netde-edude-delaware_gov/ or this: https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2014/08/01/googling-delaware-charter-schools-network-special-education-netde-edude-delawarebats/

Whoa, got off track there. Too busy shameless plugging when I was talking about your cult, er, uhm, AHEM, Church! You see, this almost went away. Right after (and I mean literally, right after, I posted the Eagles Wings and Pizza Google thing, I saw an article from the News Journal which prompted this: https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2014/06/24/breaking-news-feds-want-to-intervene-in-delaware-special-education/ and I that got me upset too. But that was a good thing, cause I’ve done a bit of investigating to find out what was up with that: https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2014/07/09/delaware-doe-the-eye-of-the-hurricane-in-special-education-netde-edude-del_gov-destateboarded-usedgov/ and https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2014/07/16/delaware-doe-the-eye-of-the-hurricane-in-special-education-part-2-netde-edude-usedgov-delaware_gov/ and https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2014/07/23/part-3-of-the-delaware-doe-the-eye-of-the-hurricane-in-special-education-netde-edude-usedgov-delaware_gov/ All those stories totally kicked your ass in terms of readers. But up until my last story about your bird church, the story of how your Youth Group Leader assaulted my son got the most readers. And people still read it, just about every day since.

But I’m sure you don’t want to hear about blog statistics. Let’s get back to disability discrimination! I never heard back from you guys at all. We left a message with your “district” headquarters, but they never called. Maybe they were feeding kids at summer camp like it’s ration night in London during the Blitz in World War II. Just because I got distracted on my special education blog with, you know, special education, doesn’t mean I forgot about you. I drive past your church all the time. And instead of what I used to think before my son went to your famine dinner youth group, “Wow, that church is empty all the time”, I now think “That’s where Stacie Bohannon told my son to consider his ways before and after she kicked, tripped, and pushed him to the ground.”

In any event, just between us, you may want to keep the kids away from Miss You-Know-Who. I understand this event will have trips through the Amazon Rainforest, the African Savannah and The Australian Plains (which most people call “The Outback” by the way, they even named a steak house after it. Oh wait, don’t want families to think they are getting steak. Gotcha!). Kids might get pushed into quicksand, thrown off a cliff, or kicked by a kangaroo if Miss You-Know-Who has her way. Just sayin’. Since your going with The Lion King theme, you might want to have parents stay away from Miss Scar.

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I have to ask. Why the whole Lion King theme? That would have been cool if it was, I don’t know, 1994! Kids these days aren’t into Lion King that much. Their more into The Lego Movie and the other 50 movies Disney has released since the Simba Death movie. Whatever floats your boat. Speaking of boats, did you check this out dear readers: https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2014/08/09/indian-river-student-injured-in-classroom-titanic-experiment/ Dammit, I strayed again. Sorry Eagles Wings. I keep doing that, don’t I? What was I saying? Oh yeah, your theme. If your going to go for an older movie theme, might I suggest this:

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But I do see you have more food bait for families to attend your event. More pizza slices cut into four pieces for kids? Or are you going to try new stuff, like rotisserie chicken and the kids get to eat the skin? Or maybe it will be spaghetti night, and each child will get three strands of spaghetti with ketchup! Will drinks be provided or will they have to drink from that nasty water fountain again?

Good luck with the rumble through the jungle Eagles Wings. If I hear any police sirens this week, Monday to Friday, August 11th to the 15th, from 6pm to 9pm, it won’t be hard to guess where they are going! Hakuna Matata!

Googling “Delaware Charter Schools Network” “Special Education” #netde #eduDE @DelawareBATS

I found no specific articles, mentions, or actual things being said by Delaware Charter School Network about special education. This is the organization that is the cheerleader for Delaware’s charter schools. How is it even possible, with a statewide special education population rate of over 13%, that this organization can’t talk about special ed? They have been around a long time. The only mentions that come up are special ed teacher jobs that show up on their job board, and mentions about charter schools they cater to and special education issues.

This is why charter schools have been found to discriminate against students with special needs. How can you promote charter schools and virtually ignore 13% or more of the population in your state? Kendall Massett, executive director of DCSN, is always crying about how charter schools have to “do more with less”. The reason for that is because you don’t get as much funding due to not taking as many low income, minority, and special education students. Of course your funding would be less.

In June of 2012, 1000 children from charter schools around Delaware held a rally at Legislative Hall in Dover, DE. According to a Delaware Newszap article from May 11, 2012, the students were told to chant “When we work hard, we get smart,” and “Charter schools are good for me. Charter schools are always free. Charter schools are good for you. Charter schools are public too,” or “Charter schools give parents choice. Charter students, raise your voice!” To have children promoting your ideology in such a way sounds almost like brainwashing to me. How would so many young children know what school choice is?

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But are they good for special needs children? If they are going to Gateway or Positive Outcomes, they certainly are. But as for the rest of the charters in Delaware? I wouldn’t hold your breath.

Earlier this week, I tweeted the public information officer for the Delaware Charter Schools Network, Catherine Nessa. I asked her why the Delaware Charter Schools Network never talks about special education. We went back and forth on other topics, but she ignored that question entirely. I wonder why…