Either I fell asleep at the wheel or this happened very fast, but the Delaware State Board of Education has a new board member. This new person replaces State Board member Patrick Heffernan. Continue reading “State Board of Education Has A New Member”
Elizabeth Scheinberg, a former Christina Board of Education member, wrote a “redline” response to Atnre Alleyne’s letter to the editor in the News Journal that appeared last week.
It’s time to redline. The following opinion was published by the News Journal on 2/28. It was authored by education advocate Atnre Alleyne. Alleyne is the founder and executive director of an education advocacy organization, DelawareCAN: The Delaware Campaign for Achievement Now.
As a Christina parent and former Christina Board Member, I am compelled to set right the history that Alleyne has twisted to fit his vision an education crisis in Christina. Though I do not always agree with Christina, it’s still mine, it owns me as much as I own it. I live within it, advocate for students and parents in its schools and advise any members of the Christina leadership team who seeks my sentiments or strategies for improving our school system.
The Christina school board has perfected the art of pushing paperwork that produces little progress for Wilmington kids. Mr. Alleyne provides a beautiful set-up for an us verses them conversation. However, despite the highway between Newark and Wilmington the onerous paper-pushing affects every child, teacher, leader in the district. Much of it is the direct result of the same MOUs that Alleyne refers to below.
Its members recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Gov. Carney’s office designed to take a bolder approach to education in a district whose graduation rate has dropped each of the last three years and is the lowest in the state (69 percent). Gov. Carney’s approach is no bolder than the deeply flawed Race to the Top, a program that several school boards across the state adopted under the duress of the Delaware Department of Education. I clearly remember the night when former Sec. of Education Lillian Lowery told our board that should we not approve her MOU and join, the changes set forth in the MOU would become law and Christina would have to fund them locally. Did they become law? Some. Did they improve education statewide? No. The longitudinal data is in – as Alleyne cites above – turning education into a competition was not a sustainable model nor did the interventions result in sustained improvements in the graduation rate.
Yet, as interesting as some of the details of the MOU may sound, experience tells us they are sure to fail. With a school board that has failed to follow through on previous reforms, Christina School District’s kids will not see change until we address the deep dysfunction of its school board. We agree that these new reforms will fail. Few have yet to unlock the wardrobe door to Narnia of education. I don’t believe that Carney has the key. These previous MOUS failed because Christina properly identified schools in crisis in both the city and suburbs, BUT has been unable to fund the treatment of the needs and ails of the children served within. When we look upon our lowest performing students, we find children who live in dire poverty among violence with little access to critical nutrition and often credible adult guidance needed to navigate their personal world. These children carry their heavy burdens to school where they act out, not because they want to misbehave but because they’ve been taught that even negative attention is better than no attention at all. Of course, Christina’s board could throw every penny of local education dollars at these societal concerns, but without the other administrative agencies who are far more competent to combat the socio-emotional-economic inflictions putting their own boots on the ground, Christina will still fail.
First, we blamed the teachers. Now, we blame the board.
You know you are dealing with a school board that is committed to inaction when the governor needs to attend Christina’s board meetings to plead and prod them to do what a high-functioning board would do without prompting. Nearly half of the state’s bottom 5 percent schools are in the Christina School District, 38 percent of kids from Christina now attend non-district schools and the district is wasting taxpayer dollars with most of their schools currently less than half full.
Alleyne, you don’t know the half of it. But, first, to address the falsehoods. Because a board of individually publicly elected members parse and due diligence does not make that board low-functioning. Christina is constantly being bombarded by the state and the department of education with mandates to implement as part of whatever the latest MOU demands. These MOUs come with strings attached, prescribed funding, and allow for little local control. To keep all the parts moving is a juggling act for which few would apply. One need only look at CSD’s vacant Director of Special Education position to understand exactly what is being asked of the individuals we hire. Christina expects them to perform to the best of their abilities and invests in their development. Carney and his private department of education, like those before him, demand that these individuals play god. That is the essence of test-fail-punish. I sat on the dais when Christina’s Board finally stood up to its bully, Jack Markell, and said no more to Race to the Top. I believe we saved our district millions of dollars in doing so while defunding mandates that provided no sustainable change. I believe we were taking steps to re-stabilize our students in schools that the MOU had blown off their foundation. Race to the Top took the last good thing our desperate children had – it took away the one final constant – the security of school. It took away teachers who knew them and loved them and reinvigorated the “voluntary transfer” process as teachers fled the strings of RTTT demands that did not comport with their education and teaching preparations. And for all that RTTT money we spent, each and every dollar we received was accounted for and dispersed for the benefit of the children as prescribed by the MOU. Christina didn’t push papers. We did get thwacked by Lillian Lowery in a closed meeting for openly challenging the process and progress that was occurring. We were admonished for the sincere scrutiny of some of the more active board members. The DOE literally went on the attack with no respect for the fact that we were legally elected unpaid servants who provided our own professional development often at our own cost, and that we represented not one interest, but the interest of every child and tax payer in our district. That is the balancing act before the board. How far can you push the tax payers to support the kids before the tax payers start saying no. In Christina there has been a resounding no to referendums. It’s nearly impossible to pass one on the first try and that means no more MOUs that come without the necessary funding to be sustainable in the long term. Not four years, not eight, but in perpetuity because what is most likely to be successful is a rather expensive proposition.
As to your half empty buildings. Roughly 20 years ago, under Lillian Lowery, Christina attempted to close several city schools to address the very concerns listed while also becoming more in line with the Neighborhood Schools Act. The rubber stamping school board of those times blindly followed Lowery’ s lead. However, the City of Wilmington sued and won and Christina was required to continue operating aging, under-utilized facilities without additional income to ensure their maintenance. It has been openly accepted since then, that the only way a city school will be closed is by the Governor himself. The City of Wilmington shoulders the full fault of these cash-draining buildings and the effects on the district, the board, the kids, and their communities. And true to form, what has always been predicted has come true. City closures by the Governor himself.
Christina does have several other unnecessary assets. The park across from Drew perceived to be a city park, is owned by Christina. Each overdose, each injury, each gun shot, each condom, each knife, each addict that calls that park home creates more liability for the district. Sell the park. It truly belongs to the City and Wilmington should invest in purchasing it. If the city declines, sell it for construction or turn it into a pay lot. It’s proximity to the heart of the business district lends it some real value.
Move on to Eden. Eden, though utilized by some departments, needs to be levelled. It sits on several desirable acres in a growing commercial region. The district could orchestrate a buy-out that would divide the parcel and provide for a new Eden built to suit the needs of the district. Or sell it entirely and renovate another underused asset to house the department currently homed there.
Yet Gov. Carney (and Gov. Jack Markell before him) have had to expend significant energy and political capital just to get the district to sign a piece of paper committing to real action. Seriously? Expend political capital? Did they really need to call in all the favors due them to get Christina to sign a piece of paper? Are Christina’s School Board members that influential that Carney spent political capital to compel Christina to following his plan? No. It took one Governor, Carney, to write a meaningful figure on that piece of paper as proof to a board that has been hosed by DOE for years, one signature that ensures enough money will in fact follow the plans on the paper. The only significant expense of energy has been what DOE put into desecrating Christina’s reputation.
That it takes ultimatums, lawsuits, federal investigations and hand-holding from the highest levels of our state government. It would not be so bad if the district actually had a track record of delivering on their commitments. They don’t. Christina delivers on commitments every day. Ask the children that leave its schools, what did you learn today? You might be surprised what they tell you.
Just two years ago, on March 4, 2016, the Christina School District signed a similar agreement with the Delaware Department of Education by which it committed to implementing reforms that would dramatically improve their lowest-performing schools.
Yet Christina school board member Harrie Ellen Minnehan remarked: “None of the actions designated in the doc were put into place as stated but the monies did go to the Wilmington city schools. I believe (Secretary) Godowsky wanted it signed strictly for audit purposes.” When and where is this remark? A statement out of context is just a statement out of context.
With no intention to deliver and no true accountability from the state, Christina School District has mastered this game of sign and switch. Cute, “sign and switch.” I feel like you’ve just inked an MOU on a new board game. Having had to live with those MOUs, I can tell you that I felt accountability every day and I believe that our current board members do the same. They don’t all agree on how to do it, but they all have one commitment, to see that children like mine and yours receive a good education. Mine is receiving a fantastic education in a new program that has a waiting list of students who want to be there. This is Christina going to back to its roots and implementing innovation to bring back those students you’ve already mentioned as having fled. They fled for lack of choice, not for lack of faith.
In 2014, the Christina school board released a three-year strategic plan that took a school year to develop. They called it “Imagining the Future for Christina” and, like the MOUs, it addressed the essentials for creating a high-performing district.
But in The News Journal last September, Vice President Fred Polaski said the plan was never put into action. Instead, it was “put on the shelf” and none of the goals in the plan were met before it expired in 2017. Please let me provide the context of Polaski’s comment:
” Conversations about priority schools, state takeovers and redistricting have distracted from the real issues, the school board’s vice president Fred Polaski said, leaving little energy or appetite to focus on anything else.
The district’s most recent strategic plan, which took an entire school year to put together, was basically “put on a shelf,” he said.
“There was so much in it, you couldn’t get it all done in the timeframes we hoped for,” he said. “We never sat down and said ‘OK, we can’t do all of it. What can we do?'” -The News Journal, Sept. 22, 2017.
These comments ran beneath a headline that proclaimed “CHRISTINA EMBARKS ON MASSIVE TURNAROUND TO HELP WILMINGTON STUDENTS.” Clearly, these comments, in context, do not satisfy the paper-pushing assertion. There has been no “Sign and Switch” here.
With Polaski’s comment in full context, I think many “interventions” perpetrated on the district by our government and DOE prevented the full implementation of that strategic plan. RTTT consumed one, leaving no funds left to implement a separate plan. In my opinion our strategic plan at the time was utter obfuscation to the extent that some members wanted their names removed, including mine. The next plan was being conceived when I retired my board service. That plan was interrupted by Markell and the DOE and their aspirations for those schools that fell in the bottom 5% of the state and the fate of the Wilmington schools. Now, Christina is again back to the drawing board. This time under the weight of the unknown – what will happen to our Wilmington children? What will be our financial obligation when all the schools are retrofitted and when new busing patterns are designed and implemented? Who will sit in the dual generational academy and provide services to our Wilmington children? How will CSD pass a referendum to continue adding new choice options? What will happen to the excessed buildings? Carney has already promised to exclude them from Charters seeking to lease them. But, who else wants a school building? Will they be mothballed? Will we continue to pay utilities there? What will be the cost of new curriculum that is sensitive to the needs of these students? What teachers will want to VT in or out of the schools? It is almost impossible to bear forward an amazing actionable plan when you have so many unknowns with which to bear. And no one has said a single word about the carve-out MOU that must be approved by the Christina’s unions as Carney’s interventions require work that is currently outside the scope of the current union contract.
In 2013, the state withheld $2.3 million of the Christina School District’s funds for failing to deliver on its commitments. In 2011, the state was close to withholding $11 million from the Christina School District for reneging on a previous agreement. I absolutely support the 2013 board action that resulted in the state withholding of $2.3 million in Race to the Top Funds. Christina did not want them. The prevailing board members believe that our students would be better off if we ceased to operate the failing interventions tied to those funds. In 2011, Christina made the final payment on its $20 million loan from the state – one year early. My board then jeopardized the district allotment of $11 million in RTTT. Why? As was widely reported, our human resources department in conjunction with our former superintendent strayed from the plan regarding the evaluation and hiring of teachers in our Partnership Zone Schools. Christina did not act to refuse the funds. The board wanted the hiring process repeated with fidelity. What we learned from our lawyer, after the fact, was that fidelity is not a legal measure. Compliance is. What our HR and Super had done technically fell within the bounds of Substantial Compliance and our board was forced to revote the issue, after which the State pushed the funds into the district to begin turnaround. We took fire from every direction because we wanted to do RTTT right, sticking to the measure we had agreed to with the state and while also holding the state accountable on their end. To that extent, the board had an independent leader review the RTTT monthly efforts and outcomes in the partnership zone schools and report to us directly to ensure we were receiving true information and not the sugar-coated kind. This is leadership. Seven members, each elected, with seven different experience and interpretations of the job before them. Of course, there is going to be debate, intense, thoughtful, sometimes painful and intense debate. But, when you are looking at the large sums of money and the strings attached, a board member must advocate and compromise their positions. What lies before them must be thoroughly vetted before we subject students, staff, parents, and tax payers to what we’ve been required to transform.
This pattern of ineffective leadership is bad for taxpayers. It is even worse for the many students and families who desperately need Christina’s schools to be of the highest quality. The leadership, though at time troubled, is similar to the leadership of many other boards in our state. A down state board member is lighting up the press today. None of us have lost sight, even those who have come and gone, of the need for CSD to be of high quality. I can honestly say that I believe my son is receiving a comparable education in his CSD choice program to that of our effective local charter schools. I also believe that the Strategic Plan should capitalize on the success of this first ,agnet endeavor. I urge our school board to keep pushing forward despite the changing landscape as DOE demands.
But because this year’s Christina School District drama features a new governor, a new secretary of education, a new Christina School District superintendent and a few new players, we are expected to act like we have not seen how this script ends. We are expected to be comfortable with handing over an additional $15 million to a district that has not been asked to account for how it spent previous dollars designated for improving its schools. Christina has absolutely accounted for the spending of every dollar. Read the online check book. Visit the P-Card page. Ask questions of the financial director. Go to a CBOC meeting. This information is transparent and available for free to all.
How can we be excited about the promises of the latest MOU when the district has failed to honor its longstanding IOU to our kids? This district has been constrained from being creative and expanding its offerings because of the RTTT/Partnership Zone, bottom 5% school mandates, Smarter Balance, etc. Christina spent so much time and money providing exactly what the MOUs said, despite the pain of knowing that the interventions when observed from a longitudinal lens were going to fail as they failed everywhere else. The question that should be asked is, how is Carney going to ensure the interventions he’s directed are going to succeed. What data can he provide? As I can surely show you mine.
In 2020, my daughter will be starting kindergarten and her current feeder pattern would have her headed to Stubbs Elementary. If we continue our current path, 2020 will bring yet another year in which fewer than 10 Stubbs students are proficient in math and fewer than 20 are proficient in reading. Your daughter is fortunate. Her father is a well-read, though deceptive, educated advocate. Based on the most recent plan I’ve read, your daughter will first go to Stubbs as she would if she were old enough to attend kindergarten now. She will spend a year there before she grows her wings and attends one of the two 1-8 schools. That is exactly what you should want for your child. And her success will depend on how you invest in her. Parental involvement does not need to take place within the bounds of building. It happens in homes far more frequently than educators recognize.
That is not the future I want for my child or any of the children of the Christina School District. Again, I am beyond satisfied in the education my son is receiving in CSD. I have lived with one foot in each a traditional district and the other in various charters. I have transferred my children, at times, to have access to better special education service providers, to allow my children to attend the same school at the same time for at least part of their young lives, and even for familial convenience. I currently have one child bused curb to curb and another requires a carpool due to a lack of busing.
So state leaders should definitely provide the students and educators in Christina’s Wilmington schools the additional investment and support needed. Wait, are we back to Wilmington-specific education again? You slip and slide with all the facts you’ve mangled. But only after they find a way to give our community a school board that represents us and can deliver the results our kids deserve. Alleyne, I am not your enemy. In fact, I think that Wilmington should have an ad-hoc committee of education experts overseeing these funds. I also think that the success and/or failure should lie on their shoulders and not that of the current board. I would support CSD in creating a committee of education leaders from within our city district’s boundaries to oversee the application of the funds.
I look forward to the day I see Mr. Alleyne run for school board member. He just may find that the map to success is far more complex that he current credits.
Atnre Alleyne is the founder and executive director of an education advocacy organization, DelawareCAN: The Delaware Campaign for Achievement Now.
Elizabeth Scheinberg is the co-founder of a community partnership that provides children with autism and their families free recreation designed to address sensory and social needs in a safe environment. Her daughter was also the inspiration between Glasgow Park’s Hi5 Park for children with autism. Before writing this redline, she has slain 8 dragons before breakfast and thought of 8 more absolutely impossible things to overcome.
Governor Carney is hitting the road this week up and down the state to different schools to drum up support for some of his proposed education initiatives in the Fiscal Year 2019 state budget. Each school he visits will have a different focus. Those areas are Opportunity Grants, Investing In Educators, Better Schools, Math Coaches, and Early Education & The Delaware STARS program. As well, Carney and Secretary of Education Dr. Susan Bunting will hold a Facebook Live event on Tuesday, February 27th. Which schools is he going to? Find out here! Continue reading “Governor Carney’s “Invest In Public Education” Tour At Delaware Schools This Week”
A few days ago, Kilroy’s Slower Delaware posited Jack Markell could run for U.S. Senator Tom Carper’s seat. I commented I thought he should stay out of politics altogether. I’ve always known he would hobnob around the corporate education arena. Today, an announcement came out that Ridge-Lane Limited Partners is going to expand their social-impact merchant bank. When I saw who else is a part of this, it made my head throb. Continue reading “Who’s Who Of Ex-Governors Team Up With Ridge-Lane For Non-Transparent Education Social Impact Bond Invasion”
Last night the Christina Board of Education, in front of a packed house, passed the Memorandum of Understanding between the district, the Delaware Department of Education and Governor John Carney’s office with a 4-2-1 vote. Board members John Young and Elizabeth Paige voted no while member Angela Mitchell abstained. The tense meeting, which lasted over three hours, had Carney sitting in the audience the entire time. While the News Journal, WHYY, and WDEL all came to the meeting, many parts of the meeting were not covered in their articles. Continue reading “As Christina Passes MOU, Carney Wants Charter Students To Come Back To Christina”
Governor Carney and the Delaware Department of Education almost had us. They were THIS close. In another 24 hours or so they could have gotten away with it. Their plan to completely evaporate the Christina School District Wilmington student population will depend on the vote at the Christina Board meeting tomorrow night. But they NEVER told us about the loophole. Does a Memorandum of Understanding give a state Governor the power to “waive” a law? I think not! Continue reading “Breaking News: State Bullies Christina Into MOU That Breaks The Law!”
The Christina Board of Education will finally vote on the Memorandum of Understanding between Governor Carney’s office, the Delaware Department of education, the district and the Board of Education on Tuesday night at Sarah Pyle Academy. Their regular Board of Education meeting begins at 7pm. What’s at stake? Schools closing and consolidating into two schools. Governor Carney’s reputation. The Christina School District Wilmington students in Kindergarten to 8th grade.
Even if you don’t live in Christina, this will be something to watch. It isn’t every day a Governor proposes this kind of action. Some say it is needed while others say it is too much. Some say the Board should vote yes while others say mixing these student populations from different areas of the city is a powder keg waiting to explode. Some say forget the past and keep an open mind while others say Carney’s office doesn’t have the first clue as to what these kids need. We will find out what the Christina Board votes on Tuesday evening.
The below pictures were released by the Christina School District:
If I were Christina, I would want to see a big fat check hand-delivered by John Carney before I put ink to this. They are putting a lot of trust in a state that has continually targeted this one particular district if they vote yes. Sorry, I don’t trust Carney. He has yet to prove he can be trusted.
This has been my biggest beef with the opposition of Regulation 225. So many of those who are full-throttle opposed to it do not want the State of Delaware dictating something that could deny them their parental rights. They don’t want schools making decisions on behalf of their children without their consent. But they have been doing this for years! And you have had the most powerful weapon at your disposal and have not utilized it!
Every year, the public school children of Delaware are forced to take the Smarter Balanced Assessment. It is a worthless test that really tells you nothing about your child. You don’t get the results until AFTER the school year is over. It doesn’t tell you what your child’s key strengths are. It doesn’t tell you anything. But you allow your child to sit in front of a computer over a three-week period and take a test. Based on Common Core which many of you can’t stand already.
If you stand for parental rights and deciding how your child should be educated, you can’t do it in small chunks. You need to do it full throttle, in ALL aspects. If you want to tell the state that YOU are the parent and YOU make the best decisions for your kids, do it all the way.
If you truly believe in parental rights, you will prove that by opting your child out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment which starts in a few weeks in many of our schools. I have seen thousands of you oppose a regulation you believe is harmful. But I can guarantee you the Smarter Balanced Assessment has been pumping out data about your own child to education companies around the country. I can guarantee you it is a complete waste of time, money, and resources when our kids could be getting a more well-rounded education. But you let the State do this every single year. Some kids do bad on those kind of tests. It doesn’t mean they need extra intervention. Some kids ace those tests and may not get good grades. It doesn’t mean they don’t need intervention. Students with disabilities usually do terrible on those tests because the accommodations for them are horrible. Three years of this test and we are expected to believe it is a good test? The needle hasn’t moved at all. And it is based on Common Core.
Governor Carney wants more Math coaches in our schools based on his proposed budget. He wants those coaches in middle schools. Do you know why? Because the foundations of Common Core begin in the earlier grades. And it’s been around long enough that kids who were once in elementary school are now in middle school and don’t get the math! Our kids can’t stand Common Core math. Parents can’t stand it. If we need more math coaches in middle schools it is because COMMON CORE MATH DOESN’T WORK! But every year we let the state give our kids a test on it and then the state says “our schools need help” because of the test results. This is just one reason why I am befuddled with those who oppose Regulation 225!
You say you don’t want our schools doing this but you have ignored what they have already been doing for years. And here is the kicker: the schools hate these tests as well. They won’t tell you that, but they know it. It is state and federal driven, but behind that curtain is a whole bunch of companies that are profiting off YOUR kid based on the results of these tests. And don’t let anyone tell you we will lose all federal funding over opt out. It hasn’t happened in any other state. In New York and New Jersey they had more kids opt out than the entire population of Delaware. If you want to bring sanity back to education, it starts here. I don’t bemoan you opposing this regulation. It is your right to oppose something you don’t want for your child. What I do bemoan is parents not getting involved enough. When they are ignoring what is so clearly right before their very eyes.
If you REALLY want to send a message to the Delaware Department of Education and Secretary Bunting, you should opt our child out tomorrow or today based on when you read this. All you need to do is write a simple letter to the school:
Dear Principal ______, of (insert school name here),
I am opting my child, ________ __________, out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment. I expect my child to attend school on the days the test is administered and receive educational instruction while the other students take the test. I do not want a call from the Principal or any teachers telling me why I should not opt my child out. As well, I do not want to receive any letters from the school or district based on the Delaware Department of Education template letter indicating I can not opt my child out. Furthermore, I will not tolerate any type of retaliation or punitive action against my child over my fundamental right to opt my child out. This type of retaliation includes, but is not exclusive to, any threat of summer school, holding them back a year, or any type of isolation activity.
Thank you for your time,
After you give this to the Principal of the school, as in hand-deliver it to them, have them sign an acknowledgment form that they received your opt out letter for your child. This way they can’t say later they never got it. It can be as simple as this:
I acknowledge that I have received an opt out letter from ______ ______, parent or guardian of ______ ________.
When you have done this, start taking a serious look at the enormous amount of data collection already going on with your child. Start looking at EVERYTHING and ask yourself “Is this what I want for my child?” If the answer is no, don’t stop with opting out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment. Educate yourself. Read. Learn. Don’t listen to what places like the Rodel Foundation and the Delaware DOE are telling you. Listen to what other parents and teachers at the ground level have been saying for years. Those who of us who have been in the trenches and calling our legislators and Governors out for their totalitarian approaches to education. Don’t believe the Delaware DOE is miraculously turning into a “support organization”. Because that support is designed to drive up test scores on an already flawed test. And just wait until they turn that once a year test into stealth assessments, throughout the year. Make your move now or your child and grandchildren will deal with the long-term consequences for the rest of their lives. This isn’t something you should hem and haw on. You shouldn’t mull it over. You should just do it.
A big head’s up to Alby over at Delaware Liberal for tipping me off to a New York Times article from January 10th! While Delawareans up and down the state have been scratching their heads over Regulation 225, an anti-discrimination measure for trans-gender students, the true motive behind the controversial regulation may have been in front of our eyes the entire time! Continue reading “Is This The Real Reason For Regulation 225?”
At Del-Tech in Dover last evening, anywhere from 250-300 people showed up for a meeting on the highly controversial Regulation 225. Some of what I saw defied explanation. But what I saw this morning could bring the whole thing to a crashing halt! Continue reading “Regulation 225 Meeting Draws HUGE Crowd With No Substantive Changes But Some Bizarre Comments”
Last evening, the Christina School District Board of Education held their second board meeting of the month. There were only two items on the agenda: a recommendation to approve the Memorandum of Understanding between the district and Governor Carney’s office and approval of their final Fiscal Year 2018 budget.
The board punted on the MOU vote again, choosing to table a vote until their February 6th board meeting. All five board members in attendance voted yes on tabling the vote. They were George Evans, Fred Polaski, Meredith Griffin, Harrie Ellen Minnehan, and John Young. Board members Elizabeth Paige and Angela Mitchell did not attend the meeting. The board has voted to table this vote several times now which must assuredly be frustrating Carney’s office. When it came time to vote on their final budget for this fiscal year, all board members in attendance voted yes with the exception of Young. The board voted on the same recommendation last week, but that failed with a 3-2 vote.
Governor John Carney’s office mentioned the proposed MOU in Carney’s proposed Annual Appropriations bill yesterday. They have 15 million in capital funds earmarked for the district and 1.5 million in opportunity grants. The capital funds would be used for construction costs for some of their Wilmington schools as the MOU calls for consolidation of Christina’s Wilmington schools from five to two. Carney also mentioned Christina in his State of the State address last week.
The next day I posted a bold prediction for Christina. I received no response from Carney’s office or Christina School District about those predictions. I heard this information from various sources in Delaware. The odd part is NO ONE has been talking about it aside from some messages I received from some curious and very worried district teachers. I was not able to reveal my sources to those individuals.
As the district in Delaware that sends the most in local payments to Delaware charter schools, they face a potential financial hit with Carney recommending another 2% goes to charters in FY2019 due to “inflation”.
Delaware Governor John Carney delivered his FY2019 Proposed Budget and it looks like Delaware charter schools will get some extra cash out of the deal if the General Assembly includes this in their final budget they must vote on by June 30th!
Is this even legal? Does the Governor have the legal authority to arbitrarily raise a percentage amount for local payments from districts to charters based on “inflation”? Sadly, he does. It is written in Title 14.
So what do sections 408 and 509 of Title 14 say?
(e) The district of residence shall, except as provided for in subsection (h) of this section, pay to the receiving district the lower local
cost per pupil expenditure of the 2 districts, adjusted by an inflation factor specified annually in the annual appropriations act, such
payment to be made by November 30 of each year.
(d) The Department of Education shall annually calculate the local cost per student expended by each school district for each type of
student for the year immediately preceding based on the formula set forth in subsection (e) of this section, adjusted by a factor necessary
to fund the charter school on a basis reasonably equivalent to the current year local cost per student, which factor shall be established in
the annual Appropriations Act. The Department shall annually certify each local district’s local cost per student expenditure by September
1 of each year.
So does that mean Delaware school districts are getting 2% more based on “inflation”? Absolutely not. Everything goes up in price. So saying “inflation” without any meaning behind it is just another way to give charter schools more money. I do not blame the charters for this, I blame the power brokers that snuck this in there. Of course it is absolutely legal because it is in state code. But that certainly doesn’t make it right or moral. Add the extra match tax funds charters will get this year and it is obvious charter lobbyists will squeeze as much juice out of the district fruit as they can! Lest we forget, charters do get state funding. They don’t live and die based on local student payments. They get as much state funding (except for capital costs) that traditional school districts do. They also have the charter school transportation slush fund
The Delaware Department of Education made more changes recently with their leadership. No formal announcement came out for these, but I did some super-sleuthing on their website to figure it out. Continue reading “Delaware DOE Makes More Changes In Leadership”
If you thought the arrow Delaware Governor John Carney shot through Christina School District’s heart was bad, you haven’t seen anything yet! Plans are afoot. And what will be left standing after Carney does his coup d’état will shock everyone! Continue reading “Carney Cremates Christina”
Today, Delaware Governor John Carney delivered his State of the State Address to the General Assembly in the House chambers. On the education front, he didn’t really say anything I haven’t heard before. He made it a point to specifically address Christina School District and the five schools in Wilmington. There was NO mention of Kindergarten to 3rd Grade Basic Special Education funding. He talked about math coaches but absolutely nothing about reading specialists. He wants to pour more money into the Pre-K Stars program. Pretty much everything sounds like a Jack Markell third term. Enough already Carney! How about coming up with some new and creative ideas? Because Governor Markell was a tyrant education Governor. You are putting all your eggs in the Wilmington basket. I’m not saying those kids don’t need help, but there are others across the state who need help as well. I got your message though. We can all expect to pay higher taxes very soon!
Last night, the Christina School District Board of Education voted again to table a vote on the Memorandum of Understanding between the district, the Delaware Dept. of Education, and Governor Carney’s office. From the sounds of it, Carney is getting very impatient with Christina. Board member John Young included a quote from Carney and his response to it on a Facebook post today.
“I’m disappointed that the board did not act tonight to address the serious challenges facing students in these Wilmington schools. We have made it a priority to work in collaboration with Christina to do right by these students. We have offered significant new resources to support educators and students in Wilmington. We can’t afford to wait and delay on this issue any longer.” – John Carney
Well, we do share an emotion: It’s so disappointing to have a partner at the table use this situation for political gain. Not surprising, just disappointing. The MOU currently on the table is the Governor’s version. It makes barely a fraction of the commitment necessary to help our students, is the furthest thing from “significant resources”, and seems to be hyper-focused on only getting one thing done: a dual-generation center. This leaves all our K-8 students in the rain holding a wet bag of nothing, Governor John Carney. Your charged declaration proves what I have sadly suspected: this plan isn’t about helping our students at all. The board, while tabling this terribly lopsided version, ardently pledged to stay at the table and work. I know that’s what I’m committed to doing. I’d really rather not spend much effort like this responding to divisive nonsense like your declaration; however, I will not sit idly by as you disparage the process and hard work of all partners, including your own staff. Let’s get to work instead of name calling and finger pointing, Governor.
As always, I’m right here.
Young gave his cell phone number after the last sentence but I do not feel comfortable providing that on a blog. When Young addressed him as Governor John Carney, that was linked to his Facebook profile.
I think things are about to get very interesting in Christina. As I’ve written before, Carney does NOT like anyone challenging him. He takes that very seriously. Will Carney try to pull some type of “priority schools” stunt on Christina if they do not act on the MOU? I would be willing to bet he will. Something will happen. I have no idea what that is.
As well, the Christina board voted NO on their final Fiscal Year 2018 budget. While this does not mean the state will stop disbursing funds to the district, it could affect their local payments. It certainly did not make Christina Chief Financial Officer Robert Silber or Superintendent Richard Gregg have a good night. Things are getting interesting up there.
After a crucial Senate Executive Committee hearing, Wali Rushdan was given a unanimous Senate vote for the Delaware State Board of Education about an hour ago.
The Senate Executive Committee met with Rushdan right before the full Senate vote. I must give props to State Senator Nicole Poore for tackling the elephant in the room. She just came right out and asked Rushdan about his affiliation with the Family Foundations Academy Board of Directors. Continue reading “Wali Rushdan Gets Senate Approval For State Board of Education AND Explains His Time At Family Foundations”
The Senate Executive Committee canceled their meeting tomorrow. The only item on the agenda dealt with Governor John Carney’s nomination of Wali Rushdan for the State Board of Education. The Executive Committee must clear any nominations before the Delaware Senate can vote as a body for that nomination. No reasons were provided for the cancellation of the meeting.
Things that make you go hmmm…
I heard about this one last week. Tony Allen, the Chair of the Wilmington Education Committee, warned about this a year ago. Now the Delaware American Civil Liberties Union, on behalf of the Delaware NAACP and Delawareans For Educational Opportunity, filed a lawsuit against the State of Delaware over education funding. Unbeknownst to most Delawareans, however, another Delaware ACLU complaint disappeared.
According to The News Journal, the Delaware Dept. of Education released the following statement about the suit:
The Delaware Department of Education has not seen any complaint from these groups and will respond to any litigation against it in court. It is the goal of the Department to assist Delaware’s schools in preparing every student to succeed in college or career and life.
Yeah, pretty much the same thing the DOE said back in 2014 when a complaint against them and Red Clay was filed with the Office of Civil Rights over discrimination in Delaware charter schools.
Who is named in the lawsuit? Governor Carney, Secretary of Education Dr. Susan Bunting, State Treasurer Ken Simpler, and the heads of each county finance office.
To read the complaint, please see below with some exclusive news appearing shortly after.
Jessica Bies at the News Journal wrote in the above article:
According to the lawsuit, the state is failing students from low-income families, students with disabilities and students who are learning English. Test scores for these disadvantaged students are far below state standards set by the Delaware Department of Education in its new plan, the Every Student Succeeds Act, or ESSA.
What the lawsuit wants seems to contradict with what Delaware Governor John Carney wants:
But Gov. John Carney, listed as a defendant in the lawsuit, has said he is not in favor of needs-based funding, in part because it gives extra money to school districts serving at-risk kids without holding them accountable for how they use it. He has also said there is neither the financial nor political support for such a measure.
Yeah, okay Carney. Whatever. We both know how you exert pressure on the General Assembly to do YOUR bidding.
But whatever happened to that old complaint filed in December, 2014? The one the Delaware ACLU filed with the Office of Civil Rights alleging discrimination in certain Delaware charter schools? The Office of Civil Rights rejected that complaint. This never made the press and the Delaware ACLU never released anything on it. Nothing can be found on the Delaware ACLU or OCR websites. But it happened. I reached out to the Delaware ACLU early last week to get information on this. They directed me to Richard Morse, who is now with Delaware Community Legal Aid. Mr. Morse did not return my call. I guess someone wanted that complaint to die a quick and painful death.
This lawsuit cannot be ignored though. It was filed with the Delaware Chancery Court today. This could be a game-changer folks!
On Facebook last week, I wrote about knowing some things coming up but I couldn’t write about them yet. This was two of them.
This information JUST came out:
Delaware Governor John Carney
Governor Carney Nominates Cerron Cade as Secretary of Labor
Cade currently serves as Delaware’s Director of Small Business, Development, and Tourism
WILMINGTON, Del. – Governor John Carney on Tuesday announced his nomination of Cerron Cade – Director of the Delaware Division of Small Business, Development, and Tourism – to serve as the next Secretary of the Delaware Department of Labor.
Cade’s nomination must be approved by the Delaware Senate.
As Labor Secretary, Cade would lead a 420-employee department that oversees workforce development and training programs for the State of Delaware, unemployment insurance programs, labor law enforcement, and economic forecasting for the state.
“Cerron has a proven ability to lead, and the knowledge and experience necessary to take on this important role,” said Governor Carney. “The Department of Labor’s work connecting Delawareans with relevant job training and workforce development programs has never been more important. Cerron understands the needs of Delaware businesses from his time at the Small Business Division and, before that, at the Delaware Economic Development Office. I’m confident that Cerron’s experience will serve Delaware and Delaware workers well. I look forward to the Delaware Senate considering his nomination.”
Last year, as Acting Director of the Delaware Economic Development Office (DEDO), Cade managed the dissolution of DEDO and the creation of the new Division of Small Business, Development, and Tourism within the Delaware Department of State. Currently, he serves as the Division’s Director, leading a team responsible for providing key services to Delaware businesses, administration of the Delaware Strategic Fund, and marketing Delaware as a premier tourist destination.
During his time at DEDO and the newly-created division, Cade has led the state’s efforts to attract businesses and good-paying jobs to Delaware, keep them here, and ensure that Delaware remains a leading state for businesses to grow and thrive. If confirmed by members of the Delaware Senate, he will bring that experience to the Department of Labor, where he will lead state efforts to connect Delaware businesses with talented workers, and develop relevant workforce development and training programs.
“I am honored to be nominated by Governor Carney to lead the Department of Labor,” said Cade. “Connecting Delaware businesses with skilled employees has been a large part of my focus as DEDO has transitioned into the new Division. If confirmed by the Senate, I look forward to using that experience to help the state’s workforce thrive in this changing economy.”
Cade would replace Secretary Patrice Gilliam-Johnson, who will join Delaware State University as Dean of Graduate, Adult, and Continuing Studies next month. Gilliam-Johnson will leave office as Labor Secretary on February 2.
“Secretary Gilliam-Johnson has led the Department of Labor with distinction during a time where we have faced many challenges across state government and have been focused on the importance of building strong, inclusive environments where people feel valued and supported,” said Governor Carney. “I could not be more grateful for her service.”
Cade grew up in Washington D.C. and moved to Delaware to study Political Science and Law Studies at Delaware State University. Driven by a desire to make a positive impact and following his passion for public service, Cade has worked as a Legislative Aide for the Delaware State House of Representatives, New Castle County Deputy County Director for U.S. Senator Tom Carper and State Projects Director for then-Congressman John Carney.
Cade joined Governor Jack Markell’s staff as Legislative Liaison in 2015. Last summer, Governor Carney appointed Cade to serve as DEDO’s Acting Director to lead the office’s transition, where he previously served as Deputy Director.
Cade lives in Wilmington with his wife, Kasmira, and two daughters, Jonnie and Toni.