Delaware DOE Is Completely Out Of Touch With Reality & Needs To Be Held Accountable

Below are the minutes from the January 21st, 2015 Delaware House Education Committee meeting.  The Delaware DOE presented the latest round of Elementary Secondary Education Act flexibility waivers to the House Education Committee.

They were grilled by legislators with very hard questions.  Some of them were either not answered or given superficial answers without much detail.  State Rep. Kim Williams asked the hardest questions:

Vice-Chair Williams commented that the Operating Budget for the previous year was amended (Sec. 154 and 155, c.1) and removed statutory authority from the legislature and allowed DDOE to “override Delaware law” and provide regulation. She questioned as to why legislators were “kept in the dark” regarding the amended Operating Budget and why was it necessary to “have chapter one removed without” the knowledge of the legislature.  DDOE was unable to answer the questions due to a lack of representation from those who made the decision. Chair Jaques asked that the question be taken to Secretary Murphy and an answer will be brought back to the committee. DDOE agreed.

Vice-Chair Williams continued that she was disappointed to know she voted on the Operating Budget which gave away her authority. She asked that, in the future, the agency explain why an addition or deletion is necessary prior to voting.

The full minutes with fascinating material can be read below.

Delaware House Education Committee Vice Chair Kim Williams “Appalled” With DOE

In the Delaware Department of Education presentation to their state House Education Committee today on the Elementary Secondary Education Act waivers, State Representative Kim Williams advised the DOE she is “appalled” at their vast overreach in terms of state code.

Mike Matthews wrote on Facebook:

Rep. Kim Williams just leveled an amazing charge against the Delaware Department of Education, asking why they requested language to be added to Epilogue Language that allowed for DOE to OVERRIDE state code. Rep. Williams said she was “appalled” that DOE acted in a manner to override her authority as an ELECTED official. Bam!

Her exact words: “The agency should explain why the addition or deletion is necessary and it should not be hidden away like it was. I’m really appalled by this. I’m embarassed to know this…I was elected by the people to create laws and you guys took it away from us and I’m not going to let that happen again.”

Many questions were asked by legislators and the public  why Secretary of Education Mark Murphy would not sign off on the DASL report by the University of Delaware which rated two of the priority schools in the Christina School District as improving.  Rep. Sean Matthews asked why charters were not included in the priority school selection process.  Delaware DOE Chief of Proficiency and Accountability Penny Schwinn said they were not, but schools like Moyer and Reach had been ordered closed due to low academic achievement. State Rep. John Kowalko advised the DOE of his FOIA results and there was specific language in regards to the charters not being part of the decision on the priority schools.

Schwinn did say no more priority schools will be chosen this year, but she did not specify fiscal year or calendar year.

At the end of the meeting it was announced that next week, on January 28th from 11am to 1pm, the Vice-President of Policy of the National Association of Charter School Authorizers will present during an information session sponsored by the Office of the State Board of Education to discuss issues concerning charters in Delaware and how they relate to other states.  As well, on February 18th, Secretary of Education Mark Murphy will be asked to rationalize the Race To The Top spending in Delaware.

More information on this meeting will come later tonight, so stay tuned!