Delaware General Assembly Demographics Show Huge Gaps With Women & Minorities

The 149th Delaware General Assembly just completed at 8:30am this morning.  An upcoming election will bring many new faces to Legislative Hall as ten State Representatives are either retiring or, in two cases, running for the Delaware Senate.  That is almost 25% of the House.  On the Senate side, three of them are retiring as well which represents a little over 14% of the Senate.  On the House side, 6 Democrats are retiring and 4 Republicans.  For the Senate, 2 Democrats and 1 Republican are retiring, including the ONLY African-American in the Senate.  There are many female and African-American candidates running for seats which could improve the below numbers.  There are NO African-Americans in either the Republican House or Republican Senate.  But that could change as well!

 

SENATE (21 seats)

 

Men: 17 members, 81% (2 leaving)

Women: 4 members, 19% (1 leaving)

 

White: 19 members, 90.5% (2 leaving)

African-American: 1 member, 4.75% (1 leaving)

Hispanic: 1 member, 4.75%

 

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES (41 seats)

 

Men: 32 members, 78% (8 leaving)

Women: 9 members, 22% (2 leaving)

 

White: 37 members, 90% (8 leaving)

African-American: 3 members, 7.25% (1 leaving)

Hispanic: 1 member, 2.25% (1 leaving)

 

OVERALL

 

Men: 49 members, 79%

Women: 13 members, 21%

 

White: 56 members, 90%

African-American: 4 members, 6.5%

Hispanic: 2 members, 3.5%

 

DELAWARE 2010 CENSUS DEMOGRAPHICS

 

Men: 49.4%

Women: 51.6%

 

White: 62.3%

African-American: 22.8%

Hispanic: 9.3%

Other: 5.6%

 

When you compare Delaware’s population to that of our legislators, the numbers don’t match up.  That is, in large part, based on how the districts are mapped for State Rep and State Senate seats.  As well, it also depends on who votes!  I predict, with the 2020 census, the Hispanic population will be bigger.

There are more women in Delaware but they only make up for 22% of our legislators.  Those numbers could change in the next election, along with African-Americans but it will be tough to get them to match up with Delaware’s population.  We could see some new minorities enter the mix come January 2019 as well!

The Discussion About Racism Is Important But So Is The Tone. Tales From A Red Clay Board Meeting.

Last week, at the Red Clay Board of Education meeting, a huge and heated conversation took place about the lack of diversity at Cab Calloway School of the Arts.  It turned into something ugly and what I would not expect from a sitting board member. Continue reading

Charter School Salaries Over $100,000: MOT, Newark Charter, Odyssey, Providence Creek, & Sussex Academy

These five charter schools are very distinctive in one area: they all have low populations of special education students compared to their surrounding districts.  But those aren’t the only comparisons among them.  Two of them have school leaders that received salary bumps over $50,000 and then resigned or are set to retire.  Pension law in Delaware sets your pension based on your three highest years of salary.  Intentional?  You be the judge.

These five charters range from near the top of Delaware in New Castle County all the way to the heart of Sussex County with one right near the middle in Kent.  All of these charters have significant student enrollment and have taken many students from their surrounding school districts.  They are also in very populous, and in some cases, fast growing areas of the state.

Continue reading

Appoquinimink School District Salaries Over $100,000

The first in the FOIA series about districts and charters with employees making over $100,000 in annual salary goes to Appoquinimink School District.  Located in the Middletown/Odessa/Townsend part of Delaware, Appo is one of the fastest growing districts in the state.  Four years ago, they had 31 employees making over $100,000.  They now have 54.  Much of this is due to the huge increase in student enrollment and new schools in the district.  Things change with funding once you get past that 10,000 mark with student count because four years ago they had 9,750 students in the district. Continue reading

Wrecking Ball Ruszkowski At It Again… Merry Christmas Albuquerque!

Four schools.  Change or die.  That is the bully mantra coming out of Chris Ruszkowski’s mouth these days.  The former Delaware DOE employee who is now the New Mexico Secretary of Education seems to have taken the Wilmington Priority Schools guidebook and foisted it on New Mexico.

According to the Albuquerque Journal, the four schools, three in Albuquerque, have until January 9th to make their decisions:

• Close the school and enroll students in other area schools that are higher performing.

• Relaunch the school under a charter school operator that has been selected through a rigorous state or local review process.

• “Champion” parents’ option to move their children into higher-performing charter schools, magnet schools, private schools, online learning or homeschooling. This may also include the creation and expansion of state or local school voucher programs.

• Significantly restructure and redesign the school through steps like extending instructional time, changing the staff to include only top-rated educators or adopting state-selected curriculum approaches.

As usual, Ruszkowski fails to understand the reality of inner-city schools, just like he did in Wilmington, DE.

“For Albuquerque, this is a gut check moment,” Ruszkowski said. “Albuquerque talks a lot about equity and access, but when you have kids trapped in a failing school for six straight years, I don’t know what that means for equity and access.”

He questioned why APS hasn’t taken more action to improve these schools on its own, and said he expects the district will make excuses by citing the schools’ poverty rates and demographics.

Poverty is NOT an excuse.  It is a reality for these students.  Fat cats like Ruszkowski, who has never known poverty a day in his life, will never get that.  But this is just the beginning for New Mexico because there are 86 other schools that could be in this position next year.

New Mexico is a PARCC state.  The Smarter Balanced Assessment, the test used in Delaware, used to be the state assessment in NM but was changed to PARCC.  Same demon, different name.  This is like 2014 all over again, only it is in a different state.  Ruszkowski’s pals at the Delaware DOE targeted six schools in Wilmington, DE with pretty much the exact same threats.  Promised funding either never materialized or was drastically reduced.  The state did not live up to what it promised in their forced coercion scenario.

I always assumed Penny Schwinn, the former Delaware accountability chief (now making waves in Texas) was the ringleader behind the Delaware Priority Schools fiasco but it appears now Ruszkowski may have played a heavy hand in that debacle.  These fake, charter-loving “leaders” in public education are a destructive force, a wave of anti-matter ripping chaos through school buildings.  I’m sorry my state created so many monsters and let them loose on the rest of the country.

In Delaware, two of those priority schools are part of a horrible plan invented by Delaware Governor John Carney’s office and the Christina School District. The Governor wants those schools to consolidate with other schools in the area but he is rushing the district into a decision. Their board voted 5-2 to have the Governor slow his roll. Many in Delaware feel this plan by the Governor is a smoke and mirrors scenario where the district will fight the plan to the point where Carney pulls a fast one and charterizes the schools.

Say some prayers for New Mexico.  Putting a guy like Ruszkowski in the driver’s seat of education in a state is tantamount to giving a thief keys to your house.  He is a result of Race To The Top, the very worst kind of result.

Enrollment Count Report for 2017-2018 & Demographic Information For Districts & Charters: The Rise, The Surge, & The Cherry-Picking!

Which districts and charters saw big jumps with student enrollment? Which went down?  What is the state of special education in Delaware?  What key demographic is rising at a fast rate which contributes significantly to the budget woes in our state?  Which charter school, based on their current enrollment, should no longer be considered financially viable and should be shut down?  What is the fastest-growing sub-groups in Delaware?  And which cherry-picking charters continue to not serve certain populations? Continue reading

Big Year For Charter Renewals Coming: Academia Antonia Alonso, Early College High School, First State Montessori, Sussex Academy & Thomas Edison

Five Delaware charter schools will go through their charter renewal process next Fall.  The Delaware Department of Education’s Charter School Office had what I am sure was a huge task of sending out reports to the schools.  Academia Antonia Alonso, Early College High School, First State Montessori Academy, Sussex Academy, and Thomas Edison Charter School are all up for renewal.  With any charter school renewal, the DOE goes through everything: Academics, Financial, and Organizational.  No stone is left unturned.  With five charters and all three Delaware counties represented in these renewals, the public hearings will be everywhere.  But it looks like the Charter School Office has planned ahead and scheduled different public hearings on different days.  Last year, there was only one charter school (Academy of Dover) that went through the renewal process.  There would have been two but Prestige Academy opted to close their doors at the end of this school year.

In reviewing the below renewal reports and the charter schools responses to those reports, I didn’t have any alarm bells going off.  I do have concerns about the demographics of two of these schools, First State Montessori Academy and Sussex Academy.  At least one of these schools has some financial issues that seem to have flown under the radar for a long time now.  Hopefully more will come out during this process.  And one of them, I strongly suspect but can’t prove…yet, has a secret going all the way back to the origin of their school…

Here are all the schools renewal reports from the Charter School Office, their responses, and the timeline issued by the Charter School Office for this mammoth process:

Academia Antonia Alonso:

Early College High School

First State Montessori Academy

Sussex Academy

Thomas Edison Charter School

Charter School Renewal Timeline:

 

Taking A Deep Dive At Newark Charter School & Christina School District: 5 Mile Radius, Greater Newark Area, & District (Including Wilmington)

Ask, and ye shall receive!  Whenever I put up an article about Newark Charter School and what I view as their low sub-group population percentages compared to Christina School District, I am asked to do closer comparisons.  That is absolutely fair and something I should have done a long time ago.  So I plead guilty on that score.  But sometimes wanting to know that information to shut me up isn’t always the best idea.  Especially when the proof is in the pudding.  Continue reading

Newark Charter School: Where Is Your Outreach Plan? We Have Been Waiting Four Years…

When Newark Charter School had its major modification for their high school approved in 2012, then Secretary of Education Lillian Lowery gave very specific conditions for the approval.  One of them was to offer free and reduced lunch for the students of NCS.  Another was to develop an outreach plan so their demographics were more consistent with that of the 5 mile radius they draw students from.  The below letter from Lillian Lowery was written about a month before she resigned as the Secretary.  But this was their approval.  Some have referred to this as “The Lowery Doctrine”.

It is obvious the Board of Directors at Newark Charter School have ignored this condition to their modification.  Four years later and a Delaware Secretary of Education has yet to see their Outreach Plan.  Lowery never got it.  Murphy never got it.  Godowsky never got it.  But here was are, as Newark Charter School has its first graduating class, and NO Outreach Plan.  As of their September 30th count by last school year, they had less African-American students than the year before.  They did go up in students with disabilities from 5.6% to 6.5%.  And their Hispanic population went up a little bit.  But that is not the same as an actual Outreach plan.  Where is this NCS Head of School Greg Meece?  For all the talk and bluster coming out of this school, no one at the top of this school has delivered what they were supposed to.  I’ve heard parents say they are attempting to rectify their demographic situation, but when they were given a direct order by the Dept. of Education, they blew it off.  For a school that seems to want others to follow their perceived notion of “the letter of the law” they sure do cherry-pick what to follow…

Cape Henlopen Board To Vote On Very Controversial District Enrollment Reorganization

The Cape Henlopen School District Board of Education will hold a board meeting tonight to vote on proposals that will change the enrollment patterns of their elementary and middle schools in the fall of 2017.  A new elementary school called Love Creek will be built by then and the board recognized this will change the boundaries for which students go to which schools.

At issue with many parents is what happens with Richard Shields Elementary School if they go with one of the proposals.  After six proposals have been presented, the Superintendent is leaning towards Proposal F, but the board prefers the newer Proposals G, shown in the below document.  The Board feels the greatest priority should be having a balance of low-income children in each of their schools.  Currently, Shields has a population of 27% low-income students, but with the proposed changes that could increase that level to 42%.  Love Creek, the new school, would have a 26% low-income population.  Many parents felt the priorities should be students attending schools closest to their homes and how the changes would affect families in the district.  Parents are concerned about changes in school climate, similar to what happened at Skyline Middle School in the Red Clay Consolidated School District this year.  They also feel that forced busing is not the way to go.  Other parents I spoke with were okay with the changes and feel there should be more equity between the schools in the district.  While not official, the students who have been choiced to a school already will be allowed to stay, but if a student is moved through the reorganization they will not be allowed to move back to their original school through choice.

As per the Delaware Dept. of Education website, Cape Henlopen as a whole had 5,170 students as of their September 30th count.

The board meeting tonight will be held at Beacon Middle School at 6pm which could decide the schools 2,600 students go to in the Cape Henlopen School District.  185 students have been choiced by their parents within the district while 273 students from other districts were choiced into Cape Henlopen.  For their race and ethnicity profiles, 66.7% of Cape students are white, 14.3% are Hispanic/Latino, 13.7% are African-American, and the other almost 6% are either a multi-racial, Asian or American Indian.  For the 2014-2015 school year, the average district expenditure per pupil was $15,254.

For their elementary schools, the DOE profiles (which are based on the September 30th counts) look like this currently:

Brittingham: 41.1% white, 31.7% Hispanic/Latino, 21.1% African-American, 57.4% low-income, 15.4% English Language learners, and 12.5% special education

Milton: 72.6% white, 11.4% Hispanic/Latino, 11.7% African-American, 30.2% low-income, 5.1% English Language learners, and 14.7% special education

Rehoboth: 75.5% white, 10.3% Hispanic/Latino, 9.3% African-American, 34.7% low-income, 5.3% English Language learners, and 9.5% special education

Shields: 71% white, 10.2% Hispanic/Latino, 8.5% African-American, 23.7% low-income, 3% English Language learners, and 8.7% special education

 

Newark Charter School’s Greg Meece Boasting About High “Smarter” Scores After Meltdown Over News Journal Exclusion

cherrypicking

No less than five people sent me this email yesterday.  Apparently, Newark Charter School Head Greg Meece had a hissy-fit of epic proportions that NCS wasn’t included in the original News Journal story about the Smarter Balanced Assessment results.  As a result, he got this email out to parents yesterday:

From: Newark Charter School <notifications@schoolconnectsweb.com>
Date: Thu, Sep 3, 2015 at 12:00 PM
Subject: NCS Smarter Balanced Test Scores
To:

Dear NCS Families,

Yesterday the Delaware Department of Education released all public schools’ Smarter Balanced test results for the 2014-2015 school year. The News Journal printed a three page report of these scores in this morning’s paper. Unfortunately, for some reason they omitted all of Newark Charter School’s data. I understand they will print a correction in tomorrow’s paper. Also, the correct information is included on delawareonline.

Because of the omission in the newspaper I am sending you all of Newark Charter School’s Smarter Balanced test results in this attachment. It includes comparisons to the State of Delaware results. The wonderful news is that Newark Charter School’s average proficiency rates across all grades are the highest in Delaware!  Our students’ math scores are 116.8% higher than the state average and their English Language Arts scores are 79.4% higher than the state average.

WE are so proud of our students’ performance and very grateful to our teachers for all their hard work in preparing our kids to do their best.

Thank you for all you do to support this great school.

With much appreciation,

Greg Meece

I guess I would be upset too if my school got great results and wasn’t included. But you have to be careful what you ask for, because while his school did great, we have to add the charter school “special sauce” to the stew. On the DOE website, they list the school profiles for each school or district. This is Newark Charter School’s demographics. Compared to most Wilmington schools, these are very low percentages. With the exception being certain other charter schools and magnets in the area.

Enrollment by Race/Ethnicity
2013-14 2014-15
African American 11.0% 11.4%
American Indian 0.2% 0.3%
Asian 13.4% 12.9%
Hispanic/Latino 4.0% 4.4%
White 65.8% 65.2%
Multi-Racial 5.6% 5.6
Other Student Characteristics
2013-14 2014-15
English Language Learner 2.7% 2.5%
Low Income 8.4% 7.2%
Special Education 5.7% 5.6%
Enrolled for Full Year 100.0% N/A

I guess we could all do awesome on high-stakes testing with these kinds of students! And lest we forget, this school has a “lottery”. And I have a bridge in Brooklyn I’m willing to sell at a cheap price…

Say, isn’t the Enrollment Preference Task Force report coming out at the end of the month?

UPDATED, 2:23pm, 9/4/15: A commenter suggested I use Christina School District as comparison data, which is an excellent idea!  Keep in mind, most students who don’t go to Newark Charter School or other charters in the area would go to their feeder pattern in the Christina School District, which has their demographics below.

Enrollment by Race/Ethnicity
2013-14 2014-15
African American 40.6% 39.8%
American Indian 0.3% 0.2%
Asian 4.4% 4.4%
Hawaiian 0.1% 0.1%
Hispanic/Latino 18.8% 20.4%
White 32.8% 31.7%
Multi-Racial 2.9% 3.4%
Other Student Characteristics
2013-14 2014-15
English Language Learner 8.5% 8.3%
Low Income 43.6% 41.0%
Special Education 17.0% 17.9%
Enrolled for Full Year 100.0% N/A