Should Charter School Board Members Be Allowed To Manipulate Their Board To Allow Themselves To Lead A School?

Stack the deck towards a power play and you often get what you want.  That is the case with Delaware Academy of Public Safety & Security.  Tomorrow night they will hold their monthly board meeting.  The rumor mill has it that Margie Lopez-Waite, the current President of their board, will resign as President and the board will vote her in as the Head of School.  With that will assuredly come some type of financial incentive for Margie’s undying loyalty to the school (insert sarcasm here).  Together with her salary at Las Americas ASPIRA, she will be making a pretty penny.  Oh yeah, Delaware state code dictates you can get your pension based on your three highest years of salary.  Something the soon to be departed Providence Creek Academy Head of School took full advantage of.

Here is the issue though.  From what I hear, Margie doesn’t spend enough time at her current school.  She has her trusted minions and followers who pretty much run the school.  By her cut throat first and answer questions later tactics yesterday, she is stacking the staff deck at DAPSS to do the same thing.  In essence, Margie Lopez-Waite is a power-hungry dictator who is completely running the school.  Unless there is a mutiny, the Delaware DOE will let it happen.  This is a classic power play on her part.  But she may have shown her cards too early.  I expect a huge crowd at their board meeting tomorrow night.  She pissed off a lot of people.  I would say I hope the Charter School Office at the Delaware DOE shows up, but their leader will be leaving them soon as she… wait for it… replaces Chuck Taylor at PCA.  Perhaps it is time Secretary of Education Dr. Susan Bunting actually took the reins on this and stopped Margie’s power trip and exposes it for what it really is.

Margie’s bloody coup is not new.  We’ve seen other “leaders” throughout history do the same thing.  We call them dictators.  Tyrants.  They don’t last in the annals of history.  Eventually the people rise up and take back the power.  This is my big issue with some of our Delaware charters.  They are run by folks who tend to answer to the ruler of the school, not the other way around.  Far too many of their board members, which are appointed, not elected, are meant to curry favor with said ruler.  While commenters on my article from last night come to the plate in defense of Margie, I have yet to hear those commenters say anything about the lives Margie destroyed yesterday.  About teachers and staff who came to work yesterday with a job and are now wondering how they will feed their families after June 30th.  Even though Margie promised more training for them through Colonial.

Margie will take full advantage of Colonial’s relationship with Relay Graduate School and get cheap teachers for DAPSS.  Relay is just another teacher-prep fast track program.  They bounce around like kangaroos in the Outback, but they are fiercely loyal to their leaders.  In other words, they are cheap puppets.  Be careful what you wish for.  You may get exactly what you want.  It helps to have friends from high school help you get what you want, doesn’t it Margie?

Delaware State Board of Education’s Wild Sunset Review & They Are Still Missing A Member

The State Board does not hear or receive official complaints.

As the Delaware State Board of Education goes through their sunset review with the Delaware Sunset Committee, it has become more clear than ever this is a state agency in need of massive change.

After board member Jorge Melendez resigned last fall, the Delaware State Board of Education still has six members on their seven seat roster.  Three weeks into Governor Carney’s four-year term, there has been no nomination for Melendez’ replacement.

My concern is what happens if the State Board of Education votes on an action item which results in a tie vote.  Who breaks that stalemate?  How long will Carney wait to choose a replacement?  As well, the Governor has the authority to replace the existing State Board of Education President with Senate confirmation.  Will Carney do this which has been a typical thing in the past?

At present, the Delaware State Board of Education is under Joint Sunset Review by Delaware legislators.  Donna Johnson, the Executive Director of the State Board, submitted a very lengthy questionnaire to the committee last October.  Johnson provided an extensive and very thorough history of the State Board of Education which included items I had no clue about.  Included in the document is a list of Delaware Attorney General opinions that affect the agency.  There have been 21 such opinions dating back to 1996 with an average of one per year.  Eight Executive Orders, all issued for former Delaware Governor Jack Markell, had an impact on the State Board as well.  There is one section that talks about bringing the former Delaware Teacher of the Year on the board as a non-voting member.  Donna Johnson’s role was changed in 2010 from Policy Analyst to Executive Director.  Aside from her, the only other staff is an administrative assistant through the Delaware Dept. of Education (awesome lady by the way, Dani Moore).  Donna Johnson’s performance review is also included in the below document, but there is no indication of who approved this review aside from the State Board of Education in 2015.  I do not recall seeing this performance review on a State Board of Education agenda, but that may not be required under Delaware code or perhaps I missed it.  The most shocking part of this document exists towards the end.  The State Board of Education does not receive or recognize complaints about their own agency.  Perhaps this is why they are often perceived as a state agency that acts with an air of impunity and infallibility.  I believe that needs to change.

 

A Time To Be Bold, Teachers. Do Not Let Fear Rule The Day.

I had a recent conversation with a teacher, and she thought certain things about me based on this blog and what we were talking about.  She assumed I was a teacher.  I am not a teacher.  At least not in the classroom sense.  I am not beholden to any administration, educators association, or state department.  I am beholden to my son, and his educational well-being.

This gives me latitude and the ability to operate without fear of certain kinds of retribution.  It’s very easy for me to sit here and type these words.  It’s easy for me to tell people to rise and speak with one voice.  But I understand it is not that easy for you.  Besides being a teacher, you are also wives and husbands, fathers and mothers, you have parents, grandparents and nieces and nephews.  Some of these people depend on you to feed them, or clothe them.

There is a movement going on in Delaware.  It’s been a slow thing, waiting for this to happen.  But it is happening, right here, right now.  For far too long, the darkness has blocked us from seeing the truth.  Fear has left the operations and machinations of the nefarious to be shrouded in darkness.  But one by one, the light is beginning to shine through the cracks they have unwittingly exposed.  Perhaps it is their own guilty conscience that has allowed this to happen.

I see a time when all is exposed.  When all the cards are put on the table.  When we can sift through the rubble and rebuild, and make something new.  But we can’t get there until more people speak.  Until they use the very gifts bestowed upon them to educate our children.  We need you to teach us out of the darkness.  The greatest accomplishments in history were when great men and women went beyond the call of duty.  When they would not remain stifled in the dark and shone their light on the world.

As parents, we want you to say no.  We want you to do what is best for our children.  We want you to teach.  We are tired of the iron fist that is hanging above you, every second of the day.  We are exhausted from you being forced to do things you do not want to do.  We need you to rise.  But more than that, we need you to speak.  We need you to tell your stories, from the past and the present.  Fear is a powerful thing.  It allows us to become paralyzed and unable to move.  But the truth will set you free.  Untangle yourself from the web created by those who believe fear is more important than truth.  Become your destiny.

The Heroes of Delaware: Transcript of Parent Opt Out Decision at Capital School District Board Meeting @KilroysDelaware @ed_in_de @dwablog @Apl_Jax @ecpaige @BadassTeachersA #netde #eduDE #edchat

On Wednesday, October 15th, the Capital School District Board of Education passed a resolution allowing parents to opt their children out of state assessments without any penalty from the schools or the district. The following is a transcript, taken from the digital audio recording of the meeting.

Capital School District Board of Education: Matthew Lindell (Vice-President, Acting President in lieu of President Kay Dietz-Sass’ absence), Sean Christiansen, John Martin, Brian Lewis (absent), Dr. Michael Thomas (Superintendent)

Lindell: Moving on. 3.10, State Assessment, Parent Opt Out, Resolution #15-041. Ms. Sass asked to put this on the agenda. I think we’ve gotten to the point where we ended up tabling the policy itself when we were trying to adjust the policy as far as protecting parents who choose to opt their children out of standardized testing within the school district. Upon just taking things into consideration and other thoughts, feelings and so forth. You know, parents, by creating a policy we’ve basically already, basically were almost like DOE but were just saying, were giving you the ability to do this. The parents have the choice, it’s just frowned upon by DOE. And yes, can there be consequences for the district? Yes, there can be. I think we’ve debated that extensively. But there comes a time, and I think I mentioned this the last time we tabled this, there comes a time when, imagine in history, when some of the key points in history when some individuals said “I’m gonna sit down and I’m not gonna risk it.” Imagine if George Washington said “I’m gonna turn down the command of the Continental Army in 1775,” or Thomas Jefferson was like “No, I’m not going to risk King George III hanging me from the closest tree.” Or Martin Luther King Jr. saying “You know what, I don’t want to rock the boat so I’m just going to let things go as they may.” If we did this every single time someone threatened us, and said “This is going to happen to you if you don’t do this,” what’s going to happen? I grew up in an America standing up for issues of great importance. Not being afraid of what might happen if you take the step of questioning the government that the people duly elect. Our government is not perfect, we’re certainly not perfect, but there comes a time when policies and the continuation of the same old same old needs to be questioned and addressed. When that communication is ignored, sometimes it requires bolder action.

I would support, and I hope the board would support, the idea that we would entertain a motion to protect the parents and the district who choose to opt out their children from the test. Just as much as we would protect the parents who choose to have their kid take the test. I think it comes down to parental rights. Who knows more about their kids, many times, than their parents? Just to see the stories of kids struggling and the lack of confidence… Just tonight we saw Mr. McCove (a former alumni of Capital who gave a presentation on a program called Passport To Success earlier in the meeting)… that creativity. That is what, in my personal opinion, I think, many countries around the world admire that they can’t duplicate about our system. We’re creative, and the one thing we try to do is educate everyone. But we’ve come to the point now where it’s just about the test. You see the excitement for learning just draining out of kids. We shouldn’t see that in 1st, 2nd or 3rd grade. We shouldn’t see kids going to the bathroom having to throw up, or being afraid to go to school because they have to take this test. There’s more to measuring our schools. The banners tonight, recognizing our schools, (banners were presented earlier in the meeting to schools in Capital School District that had significant increases in DCAS scores or decreased percentages in different proficiency gaps between regular groups and sub-groups such as minorities or special education students) I didn’t need the test data telling us our district and our schools are successful. I can walk in there and see what good teaching looks like. I can see what our students are doing. It’s about time that we started addressing these things and making waves and saying enough is enough. And hopefully we have some legislators that might join on board and say this is an issue we need to take a look at.

Christiansen: Mr. Lindell, as one of those parents that witnessed a child losing his mind because he was worried about a test, “I got a 4 Dad, but they need me to do better.” He didn’t sleep that night, he didn’t want to go to school the next morning, but he went. He took his test, he came home, (I said) “How did you do?” He said “Dad, I sat in the test.” “What did you learn today?” “How to take a test.” And that’s what our teachers are being pushed to do. You know, a lot of these teachers have been here a long time, and they’re going to be here a lot longer. Teaching has changed. The demands on our students have changed. The demands on our teachers have drastically changed. And it’s not easy for you to wake up every morning and say I’m going to school to educate because you’re worried about one thing or another. But when we take fun out of learning, we take kids that are in elementary school, not getting on the bus and hiding behind a bush because they don’t want to take a test, that’s an issue. We talked about this in May, of this year, and that’s when we tabled it I believe. And we stood up here strong and said we’re going to fight for the student or fight for the parents to be a parent. I think it’s time. I wish there were five of us here instead of three of us. But unless Mr. Martin’s got something to say or has a question I’d like to make a motion.

Martin: I’ve been waiting for this one all night long, the whole dog-gone time!

Christiansen: Are you okay with me making a motion now or do you have something to say?

Martin: Oh no, I have something audacious to say.

Christiansen: I can’t wait.

Martin: Let’s do it!

Christiansen: Mr. President, I’d like to make a motion that this Board of Education will support a parent’s decision for a child to opt out of standardized state testing without any repurcussions from the Capital School District.

Martin: Mr. Lindell, I second that motion. Resolution #15-041 for parents to be able to opt out of the state assessment.

Lindell: The motion has been made by Mr. Christiansen, and it’s been seconded by Mr. Martin. Any further discussion gentlemen?

Martin: None.

Lindell: All those in favor? Say aye.

Lindell, Christiansen and Martin: Aye.

Lindell: All those opposed? (None) Motion carries. (clapping coming from audience)