Family Foundations Financial Fiasco Timeline

For those just now tuning in to the Family Foundations Academy story based on the Delaware Auditor of Accounts investigation released yesterday, I put together a chronological timeline of everything FFA related.  While the News Journal claims to be “following this story since January”, after their forensic audit was publicly released, myself, Avi Wolfman-Arent with WHYY/Newsworks and Kilroy’s Delaware were hammering this story out well before them.  Everything you need to know about the FFA story is in here, along with aspects not even touched on by the State Auditor’s inspection.  Kilroy first broke the news about stuff going on there!

12/12/14: Kilroy found it first while going through the DOE website! https://kilroysdelaware.wordpress.com/2014/12/12/something-for-delaware-state-representative-debbie-hudson-re-charter-school-transparency-arneduncan-washingtonpost-edude-netde-dedeptofed-destateboarded-usedgov-educationoig-huffingtonpost/

12/12/14: More complaints coming in for FFA’s charter renewal: https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2014/12/12/tnj_malbright-more-family-foundations-complaints-sent-to-the-de-doe-charter-school-office-state-board-kilroysdelaware-ed_in_de-rceaprez-apl_jax-nannyfat-ecpaige-roof_o-netde-edude-de/

12/12/14: Kilroy finds the numerous attorney fees going out of FFA: https://kilroysdelaware.wordpress.com/2014/12/12/delaware-charter-schools-are-a-bonanza-for-lawyers-omg-look-at-this/

12/13/14: FFA & DCSN Connections: https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2014/12/13/de-charter-school-network-connections-with-family-foundations-academy-disaester-kilroysdelaware-ed_in_de-tnj_malbright-doverpost-thestatenews-destateboarded-dedeptofed-governormarkell-wsj-th/

12/14/14: Peyton Place & The Satisfaction Officer: https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2014/12/14/peyton-place-at-family-foundations-academy-the-satisfaction-officer-kilroysdelaware-ed_in_de-rceaprez-apl_jax-ecpaige-nannyfat-roof_o-governormarkell-delawarebats-rodel-netde-edude-delaw/

12/16/14: FFA under investigation by Delaware State Auditor’s office: https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2014/12/16/breaking-news-family-foundations-academy-under-financial-investigation-with-state-auditor-kilroysdelaware-ed_in_de-apl_jax-rceaprez-governormarkell-destateboarded-dedeptofed-tnj_malbright-de/

12/17/14: Sean Moore no longer on board at Delaware Charter School Network: https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2014/12/17/family-foundations-acad-head-of-school-sean-moore-no-longer-treasurer-of-delaware-charter-school-network-kilroysdelaware-ed_in_de-rceaprez-apl_jax-nannyfat-ecpaige-tnj_markell-avi_wa-wboc-w/

12/18/14: FFA’s fate decided at State Board of Education meeting: https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2014/12/18/live-from-delaware-state-board-of-education-meeting-charter-school-decisions-kilroysdelaware-ed_in_de-rceaprez-apl_jax-nannyfat-ecpaige-roof_o-destateboarded-dedeptofed-delawarebats-netde/

12/19/14: Avi with Newsworks covers the State Board of Education meeting: http://www.newsworks.org/index.php/local/delaware/76455-delaware-shuts-one-charter-school-spares-another

12/19/14: FFA under scrutiny by State Board of Education: https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2014/12/19/family-foundations-academy-potentially-serious-allegations-of-financial-mismanagement-kilroysdelaware-ed_in_de-rceaprez-apl_jax-ecpaige-nannyfat-avi_wa-tnj_malbright-delawarebats-netde/

12/21/14: Kilroy ponders on criminal charges for Family Foundations leaders: https://kilroysdelaware.wordpress.com/2014/12/21/if-allegations-are-substantiated-against-family-foundation-will-their-be-criminal-charges-nope/

12/23/14: FFA Board Meeting: https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2014/12/23/family-foundations-academy-board-meeting-tonight-kilroysdelaware-ed_in_de-avi_wa-tnj_malbright-netde-edude-edchat-delaware/

12/30/14: The full Auphsite Consulting Family Foundations forensic audit report: https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2014/12/30/4423/

12/30/14: Avi with Newsworks covers the Forensic Audit: http://www.newsworks.org/index.php/local/the-latest/76803-audit-details-financial-impropriety-at-delaware-charter

1/1/15: Kilroy talks about their Citizens Budget Oversight Committee: https://kilroysdelaware.wordpress.com/2015/01/01/is-family-foundation-keeping-their-cboc-in-the-dark-including-the-de-doe-rep/https://kilroysdelaware.wordpress.com/2015/01/01/is-family-foundation-keeping-their-cboc-in-the-dark-including-the-de-doe-rep/

1/2/15: Plea to parents and teachers at FFA to tell the truth: https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2015/01/02/family-foundations-parents-and-teachers-its-time-to-tell-the-truth/

1/3/15: The stories pour in from parents and teachers: https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2015/01/03/a-family-foundations-academy-blast-from-the-past-id-love-to-see-them-try-this-now/

1/4/15: What more could FFA do wrong? You would be surprised: https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2015/01/04/uh-oh-looks-like-we-got-a-bleeder-here-what-has-family-foundations-academy-done-now/

1/4/15: FFA was looking for new board members, so….: https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2015/01/04/both-moore-brewington-out-at-family-foundations-academy-looking-for-new-board-members-should-I/

1/5/15: Avi covers the “on-leave” status of Sean Moore at FFA: http://www.newsworks.org/index.php/local/the-latest/77006-embattled-charter-head-placed-on-leave

1/6/15: The Bizarro World at FFA: https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2015/01/06/more-truly-bizarre-family-foundations-academy-stories-surface/

1/8/15: Did something happen at FFA today?: https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2015/01/08/what-happened-at-family-foundations-academy-today-reporters-doe-letters-oh-my/

1/11/15: My public comment for FFA’s formal review: https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2015/01/13/state-rep-kim-williams-public-comment-on-family-foundations-academy-wow/

1/13/15: FFA leaders fired, big board changes: https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2015/01/13/big-changes-at-family-foundations-academy-moore-brewington-terminated-with-cause-board-members-resign/

1/13/15: Avi covers the firing of Moore and Brewington: http://www.newsworks.org/index.php/local/delaware/77260-major-leadership-shakeup-at-troubled-delaware-charter

1/13/15: Avi covers the EastSide Charter School rescue: http://www.newsworks.org/index.php/local/delaware/77263-distressed-charter-cleans-house-enlists-help-of-eastside-charter

1/13/15: State Rep. Kim Williams Public Comment for FFA: https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2015/01/13/state-rep-kim-williams-public-comment-on-family-foundations-academy-wow/

1/14/15: Details on FFA/East Side agreement: https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2015/01/14/has-family-foundations-academy-become-eastside-charter-2-sure-looks-like-it/

1/15/15: Secretary Murphy, State Board and East Side Charter School save FFA: https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2015/01/15/family-foundations-academy-fate-decided-handed-over-to-eastside-charter-placed-on-formal-review/

1/15/15: Avi covers the State Board meeting as well: http://www.newsworks.org/index.php/local/the-latest/77394-delaware-spares-troubled-charter-school

1/19/15: Unanswered questions about FFA and financial matters: https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2015/01/19/family-foundations-academy-still-has-some-big-unanswered-questions/

2/7/15: Moore and Brewington and their future: https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2015/02/07/next-stop-for-ex-family-foundations-head-brewington-moore-attorney-generals-office/

2/14/15: Moore and Brewington want their jobs back: https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2015/02/14/say-what-sean-moore-and-dr-brewington-want-their-jobs-back-at-family-foundations-academy/

2/15/15: Questions about FFA & East Side arrangement: https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2015/02/15/big-question-raised-regarding-east-side-charter-family-foundations-academy-arrangement/

3/16/15: Charter School Accountability Committee’s probation recommendation for FFA & new leaders getting snippy: https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2015/03/16/eastside-and-family-foundations-overlords-getting-rather-snippy-with-doe-overreaching-a-bit/

3/22/15: Diane Ravitch jumps on the FFA story: https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2015/03/22/family-foundations-academy-saved-by-state-board-as-they-get-ravitched/

4/7/15: FFA’s probation letter and news about Tennell Brewington: https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2015/04/07/family-foundations-academy-their-conditions-for-probation-news-that-will-make-ja-flip-out/

7/17/15: FFA submits major modification to change locations for both schools: https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2015/07/17/family-foundations-major-modification-to-move-buildings-to-reach-academy-plans-to-increase-enrollment/

8/22/15: FFA’s major modification approved by State Board of Education: https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2015/08/22/family-foundations-major-modification-approved-by-state-board-of-education-potential-conflict-ahead/

9/6/15: Wondering when the State Audit investigation will be completed: https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2015/09/06/family-foundations-academy-where-is-the-investigative-audit-are-they-still-on-probation/

9/9/15: FFA off probation status: https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2015/09/19/family-foundations-academy-off-probation-status/

I Thought I Should Actually Honor Jack Markell

Kilroy Blasts Local Union And Is Publius Running For A Board?

This is a two-in-one article, but they are closely related.  Kilroy also wrote a reaction piece to the News Journal’s article on the opt-out penalty, but his article didn’t really delve into the article.  Instead, he blasted the unions and blamed them for Race To The Top.  It was seven years ago Kilroy, let it go!  But he didn’t stop there, he also attempted to do something with Red Clay Educators Association President Mike Matthews.  I’m not sure what his motivation was with all of this, but it is obvious Kilroy has a major beef with the unions.  Which got me thinking (always a dangerous thing, I know) about what might really be going on.

For all of Kilroy’s rants about Race To The Top and DSEA’s role in it, we NEVER hear one word about the charters support for Race To The Top.  They had a role as well.  Is there benefit for Kilroy to go gangbusters on unions and not the charters?  Probably not, but then I looked at who the bulk of the commenters are on Kilroy’s nowadays.  Die-hard charter and choice lovers.  Led by the always controversial Publius.  We know Kilroy has sidebars with a lot of his commenters.  I usually talk to him every couple weeks myself.  But is Kilroy being inundated with the charter special sauce?  And why would someone do that?  Perhaps if they were running for a local school board in the next few years.  That’s right.  Word on the street has it that none other than Publius himself will be running for a local school board!  While some (okay, many) know who Publius really is, you won’t hear it from me.

It would greatly benefit Publius to have Kilroy turn the public against the local unions.  Is Publius working Kilroy?  I sure hope not, because Kilroy wouldn’t be too happy if he found out!  But in my eyes, Publius on a local school board is more frightening than the last episode of American Horror Story!  Say what you will about DSEA.  I agree with some of Kilroy’s points on them.  They could have taken a much stronger stand on opt-out.  I have no clue how they really stand on the opt-out penalty and what their role is.  Someone is either telling the truth or they are lying.  Yeah, sometimes the truth is in the middle, but in Delaware politics, someone is usually playing someone else for their own benefit.  It’s a tricky slope to sled down.

I firmly believe, that with WEIC and the redistricting effort, Mike Matthews wanted to take on a greater role because he knew the responsibilities of being President of RCEA were going to greatly increase this year.  More focus and focus plus schools as well.  And we all know Mike will stand up to the DOE, which is desperately needed these days, and I wish all local education associations would do this instead of sitting on the fence.  Kilroy said this has never happened before.  Well guess what Kilroy, the time to defend teachers against the onslaught of the DOE has never been greater!

We Need Teacher Blogs In Delaware!

As I look at my Delaware blogger list, I see fewer posts by many on the Delaware blogs.  I see very few from teachers in Delaware.  I keep wondering why this is.  My first assumption is they are afraid of retribution for what they write.  Which is why we need Delaware teachers to write anonymous blogs.  We need to hear things from their perspective, the good and the bad.  What is working?  What isn’t?  How are students REALLY doing in the classroom?  How do they do on actual classroom assignments?  What are the concerns and fears teachers have?  How do they feel about Common Core and Smarter Balanced now that we are waist-deep in it?  This voice is dwindling in Delaware and people need to hear it.

So I am calling out for any teachers in Delaware to start anonymous blogs.  I welcome all education blogs in this state.  Kilroy doesn’t post as much these days, but that is for a good reason.  Kavips will sometimes post 10 articles in 2 days, and then nothing.  Delaware Way used to write an awesome collection of education blog stories from the past week.  Transparent Christina rarely writes new material these days.  Where has Steve Newton’s voice been?  What happened to Minding My Matters, Fixdeldoe, and theseventhtype?  I understand many of these people have real lives with things going on, but an occasional post about different viewpoints and opinions is missed.  I saw many blogs start in the past year and then they disappeared.

Blogging is free and it takes time, but it is also an essential part of today’s media.  Bloggers are the Wild West, able to post stories along with their opinions.  The audience is there, but they need YOU!  State Rep. Kim Williams is one of the busiest persons I know, but she recently started an excellent blog called Delaware First State.  Christina CBOC member Brian Stephan of Those in Favor now writes for Delaware Liberal.  So what say you Delaware teachers?  Care to give it a whirl?  Please use WordPress so I can reblog your stuff!  And I would love to hear from Kent County and Sussex County teachers!

Hey Kilroy, I Found A Better Publius! And This One Has A Blog!

Over on Kilroy’s Delaware, the godfather of Delaware education blogs, there is a commenter named Publius.  Typical education reform kind of guy, ticking people off with his “choice” comments and “march to proficiency” stuff.  But I found a better Publius! This one hails from Florida, and has a great blog called The Withering Apple with a handle of Publius Withering.  I wish the Delaware Publius would move to Florida, but I wouldn’t wish that on the better Publius!   Check it out at The Withering Apple.

Is Delaware DOE Trying To Stop School Computers From Getting To WordPress Blogs?

I’m starting to hear from educators around the state that anyone using school internet is getting the “This website may not be safe, are you sure you want to go there?” message.  This is not all state internet, just the schools.  Is this fallout from my article last week about a certain employee in the Townshend building down in Dover, or are they tracking how many teachers and staff members are reading the blogs?

You can still get to the blogs, just hit yes.  Many have told me they are doing that anyways.  I tried it from the State-Guest internet connection, and I got in no problem.  If the DOE or whoever is trying to control what kind of media educators can get to, this is not a good sign.  It is a big brother type of mentality.  I’m sure they would never block the News Journal because they are basically the DOE’s public relations arm.  But I guess the DOE doesn’t want educators reading the news that might speak out against them.  So much for freedom of speech.

Delaware Educators: I strongly encourage you to hit yes when you get this freedom-preventing message on your computer screen, and continue to read Kilroy’s Delaware, Kavips, Transparent Christina and Exceptional Delaware.  As well as Diane Ravitch, Duetsch29, and all the rest!

Why It Is Necessary To Reveal A High-Profile Source….

I sent the below email earlier today to an employee of the State of Delaware.  They are a source, and I am outing them as that source, as well as multiple pseudonyms used on my blog, and possibly others.  Sometimes there is a higher call of duty than blogger honor, and this gross negligence of right and wrong called for this.  This is an extreme situation, affecting multiple people, but most of all, the students of Delaware.  Especially in the Christina School District.  Below is the full email I sent to Donna Johnson, Executive Director of the Delaware State Board of Education.  As well, I blind cc:ed several persons on this email, so no one will be able to say “I didn’t know about this.”

Re: State Board Meeting The Other Day  

To
  • Donna Johnson
BCC
  • John Young
  • Kevin Ohlandt
  • Mike Matthews
  • Jackie H. Kook
  • Eve Buckley
  • Nancy Willing
  • Kowalko John (LegHall)
  • Kavips World Press Blog
  • Williams Kimberly (LegHall)
  • Pandora DeLib
  • Matthews Sean (LegHall)
  • Kilroy’s Delaware
  • Baumbach Paul (LegHall)
  • Terri Hodges
  • Lawson Dave (LegHall)
  • Paige Elizabeth (K12)
  • John Young
  • Minnehan Harrie E (K12)
  • shirley.saffer@christina.k12.de.us
  • montagnebeau@aol.com
  • Natalie Ganc
  • Yvonne Johnson
  • Markell Jack
  • Murphy Mark
  • Denn Matthew (DOJ)
  • Townsend Bryan (LegHall)
  • Blowman David (K12)
  • acherry@wdel.com
  • Avi Wolfman-Arent
  • Matthew Albright
  • rick@wdel.com
  • Lindell Matt (K12)
  • Gray Teri
 
Donna,

Publius, Tunnel Vision Is Not A Disability Charter Boy!

Publius over at Kilroy’s Delaware had an epic meltdown cause I insinuated he may be racist last week.  For those who don’t “know” Publius, let me enlighten you.  I’ve been posting comments over on Kilroy’s for the past seventeen months.  It’s how I got my start in blogging writing about my son’s experience at a Delaware charter school.  I always wondered who this one guy named Publius really was.  I figured it out after a few stumbles last December.

Publius is pro-choice.  As in charter school choice.  He thinks all parents should be able to have a choice over which school their child attends.  In theory, he is right.  However, without revealing his true identity, he is waist-deep in the kind of choice that leads to segregation, discrimination, and cherry-picking.  He also thinks high-stakes standardized testing is a “march to proficiency”.  Arguing with him is like fighting with a 500 pound gorilla.  It always comes back to the same thing, his way or the highway.  You can point out logic and reason to him, but if it goes against his modus operandi, he can’t be swayed.

So last week, I had enough.  I’ve always felt he had a bit of racism based on his comments and his true identity.  I honestly asked him how he really feels about African-Americans.  Well this set him over the edge, causing a week-long set of diatribes by Mr. Anonymous (not really, many folks know who he really is).  This culminated in a comment he made in reaction to my telling him he has “tunnel vision” when it comes to choice and charters.  His response?

 “KO “Mr Sensitivity for Disabilities” might want to rethink his blind “tunnel vision” comment.”

To which my response was:

“And if you ever bring up words like “Mr. Sensitivity for Disabilities” again, I will out you as the sniveling weasel of a coward you are. You don’t get to go there you pathetic excuse for a man. Test me, one more time, and everyone will know who you are. Try me…”

Reaction from others was just as strong.  The following is Not Safe For Work…

“Yo Publius ! I am not sure if you know this or not, Kevin is a parent of a special needs child. But even at that not good!” -Kilroy

“KO “Mr Sensitivity for Disabilities” might want to rethink his blind “tunnel vision” comment.” is vile – and crosses every line. Kilroy, don’t give Pube a pass on this – don’t pretend he didn’t know. He knows exactly what he’s doing and KO’s history and story (He’s flippin’ commented on it). Then again, we all know who Pube is (as I’m sure everyone knows who I am).  I watched him prance and skip down the aisle at the board meeting at Brandywine Springs last fall. You go, girl!” -Pandora

“Publius, we all know who you are, a verified asshole.” -John Young

I truly thought Publius would stay away for a while after this, but no, charter boy had to add one more thing today.  This is what he does when he knows he got his hands caught in the cookie jar, he tries to come up with some lame excuse for why the things he says.

“Again, “tunnel vision” is a pejorative which uses visual impairment as an inferred weakness and as a tool to criticize. I can see from all of these constructive comments that I struck your chords. Your collective willingness to “select” what is insensitive and what is not is — (drumroll) — your choice. Isn’t choice grand?” -Publius

Charter Boy just doesn’t get it.  Tunnel Vision is not a disability covered under any of the many under Federal law.  If it was, we all would have Individualized Education Programs (IEPs).  I wouldn’t expect Publius to know much about special education, as he is really not that familiar with it at all.  Would I out him?  Possibly.  If he went even further over the line than he has on many occasions.  But I’m sure this was his reaction to my “racism” comment.  I know all about blogger’s honor and all that, but Publius is special.  He is my “blogging nemesis”.  He stands for everything I hate and loathe about Delaware education.  And it isn’t choice.  It’s his special blend of choice that would limit others while holding those who are more advantage under the limelight.

It isn’t a case of charters vs. public schools.  There are charters in this state that are very integrated and serve the average special needs students in their schools.  Nobody has special education perfect as I’ve come to learn.  But his “special sauce” for choice is abhorrent in my opinion.  There are many who agree, and those on the polar opposite who agree with Publius.  One day, he will tick someone off past the point of no return, and everyone will know who he is.  That’s a day I can’t wait for.

Opt-Out Haters Of Delaware: Who is Senator David Sokola And How Has He Damaged Public Education For A Quarter Of A Century?

Delaware Senator David Sokola certainly had his moments with parents this legislative session, myself included.  After a tumultuous four and a half months in the General Assembly, House Bill 50 eventually passed.  Yesterday, Governor Jack Markell vetoed the bill to the amazement and anger of, well, Delaware.  But the fallout from that one bill may echo into the second part of the 148th General Assembly as a potential veto override could take place as early as January, or barring some miracle where the General Assembly agrees to come back in special session between now and then.  While State Rep. Earl Jaques was certainly the biggest obstacle in the House of Representatives, Senator Sokola was clearly the largest obstacle of the bill as a whole.

I wondered why a State Senator who is the chair of the Senate Education Committee would oppose legislation that would codify the rights of parents to opt their child out of harmful testing.  I did some research on Sokola, and found his legislator history is filled with controversial education bills.  Over the last twenty-five years, he has served as a State Senator in the First State.

In 1995, Sokola was instrumental in getting the original charter school bill, Senate Bill 200, passed.  When Newark Charter School opened, Sokola was a board member and helped create the school.  According to Kilroy’s Delaware, Senator Sokola sponsored legislation in 2002 that repealed the law surrounding the impact of new charters on other schools in the area.  This led to Kilroy blasting the Senator in 2013 when he wrote a letter of recommendation for the never-opened Pike Creek Charter School, which was within his own district.  Last year though, legislation sponsored by Sokola brought this law back into place with Senate Bill 209.

In another article, Kilroy slammed Sokola for creating the DSTP in Delaware.  The DSTP was the state standardized assessment prior to DCAS, and was widely considered to be just as damaging as the Smarter Balanced Assessment.

“Many forget or might not know Senator Sokola is the godfather of DSTP the former standardized student test that was flawed from day(one)! Remember those 3-tiered diplomas grading student(s) based on one test like sides of beef in the supermarket.”

In fact, Sokola was opposed to DCAS and wanted another kind of standardized assessment in Delaware, but he was not granted his wish, and Delaware received the kinder and friendlier DCAS.  But last year, Sokola was the Senate sponsor for the very controversial House Bill 334, which brought the Smarter Balanced Assessment into Delaware State Code.  It would stand to reason he would oppose a measure whereby the state recognized and honored a parent’s right to opt out of a state assessment he sponsored legislation for.

In 2013, Sokola co-sponsored a bill to update the original Senate Bill 200 charter school law.  This one brought out a lot of fighting in Delaware and helped set up some of the current animosity against the Delaware Charter School Network.  House Bill 165 went through more amendments that were defeated or stricken than any bill in recent memory.  It set up the whole transportation slush fund and the annual charter school performance award.  The bill went through in a little less than a month with local school districts even more afraid of the impact a slew of charter schools would have on their enrollment and funding.  Side deals occurred like crazy, and the blogger Kavips gave a list of the reasons why House Bill 165 was a very bad bill.

Another Sokola sponsored legislation caused the current wave of teacher resentment against the DOE with Senate Bill 51.  This very controversial bill created the harsher evaluations currently used against Delaware educators.  While the educators have received a two-year pass from the Smarter Balanced Assessment impacting their evaluations, there is plenty in this bill that ticked teachers off.  And John Young with Transparent Christina warned citizens of Delaware:

“So, we have a group of legislators who have signed on, including my own Senator. But why? Well, I can only guess because it sounds so good and intuitive and simple and pure. All of which, when you are talking education should make your spine crawl.”

His latest offering to Delaware, signed by Markell yesterday, is Senate Joint Resolution #2.  Like most Sokola offerings, this bill looks really great on the surface, but it is injected with a poison.  SJR #2 is a convening of a group to look at district and state assessments and pick out which ones are good and which ones are bad.  Kids are over-tested, sure.  But this bill all but guarantees the further implementation of Common Core as assessments will be picked that are aligned with the state standards.  This will give districts less autonomy in figuring out what struggles students are having and how they can help them.  SJR #2 is filled with controversy.  Shana Young with the DOE sent out an email in early May fully stating this bill was designed to be a counter to the parent opt-out bill, House Bill 50.  When I submitted a FOIA for this email, the DOE claimed it never existed even though I have seen it with my own two eyes.

During the Senate Education Committee meeting on House Bill 50, Sokola graciously allowed the opponents of House Bill 50 all the time they wanted for public comment, but stopped the supporters short and towards the end would interrupt them.  He then introduced an amendment to House Bill 50 when it came up for a Senate vote all but guaranteeing it would kick the bill back to the House of Representatives for another vote.  It did just that, and another amendment put on the bill by Senator Bryan Towsend almost killed the bill, but common sense prevailed and Townsend’s amendment was shot down after a 2nd vote.

I am sure Sokola is presently making the rounds about an override of House Bill 50.  It would need a 3/5ths vote in both houses to pass, and I have no doubt Sokola and his counterpart but not so smart buddy in the House Earl Jaques are making the calls as I write this.

A pattern begins to form with Senator Sokola’s greatest hits.  Rigorous testing, more charter schools and autonomy for them that they clearly don’t deserve, and what many view as unfair accountability for teachers.  Sokola has gone on record as recently as last month in saying we need to compete with other countries with standardized assessments, but he seems to forget that was the argument two years ago for Common Core.  It is very hard for me to trust any legislation introduced by Senator David Sokola when it comes to education, cause something always seems to come back to bite public schools and educators in the ass, with the exception of his beloved charter schools.   He has used his position and created multiple conflicts of interest but the Delaware Senate looks the other way.  Just like the Delaware Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Education seem to want.  In a sense, Sokola could be directly blamed for the current status of segregation in Wilmington with his original charter school legislation and his demands for rigorous standardized testing that has done more damage to schools than anything Governor Markell could ever hope to do.  He will pretend to stand up for black students, but his actions speak otherwise.

Senator Sokola is up for re-election in 2016.  Will he run again, or does he possibly have something else lined up now that he has retired from DuPont?  Rumors circulate, but at this time they are just that.  Will he fade into oblivion or end up running some huge charter management company in Wilmington?  Or will someone finally hold this man accountable for his actions?

Kilroy Is Going To Go On The Warpath Over The Hat Trick…Hide Schwartzkopf and Hudson, Hide Well!!!!

I warned them, numerous times.  Get House Bill 61 to a vote.  Allow school board meetings to be recorded and put them on public web sites 7 business days after.  I told them this was the third year in a row it was on the ready list but never got to a vote.  Do they listen to me? Hell no!

In hockey, if someone gets three goals, they call it a hat trick.  Well, State Rep. Schwartzkopf and State Rep. Hudson are both the hat trick recipients for NOT getting Kilroy’s bill to a vote.  For three years in a row.  And he is NOT happy!  Hudson sponsored the bill three years in a row, and Speaker of the House Schwartzkopf let it sit there,  gathering dust, three years in a row.

I would not want to be on the receiving end of whatever comes next.  And I’m guessing he will leave no stone unturned.  I get a lot of information from people and I’ve only been doing this for a little over a year.  Kilroy has been doing this for 10 years…fair warning once again…watch out!

The Delaware Charter School Tranportation Slush Fund Fully Revealed In State Code & Epilogue Language

Delaware State Code allows for charter schools in the state to keep any excess transportation costs for “educational purposes”.  No clarification is given for what those educational purposes are or what sections of the school budget they need to be allocated to.  As a result, Delaware charters have “kept” an estimated $1.35 million dollars, a luxury traditional public school districts do not have.  Certain commenters over on Kilroy’s Delaware claim this isn’t true, and even went so far as to post the full Title 14 Delaware code § 508 of the state code, which doesn’t indicate the slush fund.

“ § 508 Responsibility for student transportation.

The charter school may request to have the school district where the charter school is located transport students residing in that district to and from the charter school on the same basis offered to other students attending schools operated by the district, or to receive from the State a payment equal to 70% of the average cost per student of transportation within the vocational district in which the charter school is located and become responsible for the transportation of those students to and from the charter school. In the case of students not residing in the district where the charter school is located, the parents of such students shall be responsible for transporting the child without reimbursement to and from a point on a regular bus route of the charter school. In lieu of the payment from the State specified above, if a charter school utilizes a contractor for student transportation the charter school shall publicly bid the routes, and the State shall reimburse the charter school for the actual bid costs only if lower than the payment specified above. Notwithstanding the foregoing, a student at a charter school shall receive such transportation assistance as is made available to students pursuant to a public school choice program established by this Code provided that such student otherwise meets the eligibility requirements for such assistance. In the event a charter school chooses to transport students itself, it shall do so in accordance with all public school transportation safety regulations. Local school districts and charter schools shall cooperate to ensure that the implementation of this chapter does not result in inefficient use of state appropriations for public school transportation and the State Board shall exercise its authority to approve bus routes so as to avoid such waste.”

However, what the rocket scientist over on Kilroy’s Delaware failed to do, most likely deliberately as to show people he is right and everyone else arguing against him is wrong, is put in the part from the Fiscal budget which clearly indicates, in Section 347 of House Bill 225.  Even more hysterical, this commenter damn well knows about this, but blogger honor demands I not out the clown.

Section 347. (a) Notwithstanding 14 Del. C. § 508 or any regulation to the contrary, a charter school may negotiate a contract (multi-year, if desired) for contractor payment for school transportation up to the maximum rate specified which is currently 70 percent of the average cost per student of transportation within the vocational district in which the charter school is located or the charter school may publicly bid the transportation routes.  If the actual negotiated or bid costs are lower then the maximum rate specified above, the charter school may keep the difference for educational purposes.  If the charter school includes a fuel adjustment contract provision, the charter school shall be responsible for increased payments to the contractor or it may keep funds taken back from the contractor.

I wrote an article on this back in January, which clearly showed exactly how much each of the following charter schools were able to keep in FY14 based on this transportation slush fund buried at the near end of the state budget:

Academy of Dover: $56,788

Campus Community: $148,578

Charter School of Wilmington: $63,755

DE Academy of Public Safety & Security: $13,894

DE College Prep Academy: $17,750

DE Military Academy: $21,877

East Side Charter: $31,451

Family Foundations: $384,769

Kuumba Academy: $64,352

Las Americas Aspiras: $103,958

MOT Charter School: $23,126

Moyer Academy: $22,596

Newark Charter: $227,827

Odyssey: $150,607

Reach Academy: $25,647

Providence Creek Academy and Sussex Academy use their own buses, Thomas Edison broke even, Positive Outcomes uses Caesar Rodney School District buses, and Gateway and Prestige Academy each lost over $20,000 on this deal.

So collectively these 15 charters made $1,357,002.00, for average of $90,466.80 a school.  The amounts for Odyssey, Newark Charter School, Family Foundations, Campus Community and Las Americas Aspiras are all well over $100,000.  With no mandated allocation of funds except for the very vague “educational purposes” and no oversight of how they use these funds, who knows where they are going.  In the case of Family Foundations Academy, where the two school leaders embezzled over $90,000 in personal spending, and Academy of Dover where one principal spent over $127,000 in personal purchases, how is it even possible to trust how the schools are spending these funds.  Where is the accountability for these funds?

One Delaware legislator has said enough is enough, and he is requesting lawmakers to make an amendment to get rid of this:

Dear all,

Note HB225—- page 231, Section 347 lines 25-26. This is the language that is consistently inserted over the last 6-7 budgets that conflicts with the Title 14 section 508 mandate to return unused (for transportation) taxpayer money by Charter Schools. The amendment I am filing removes this onerous disregard for taxpayer money from the budget and I hope each and every one of you will support it to restore accountability and specificity of allocation to our spending of those taxpayer dollars. It is our responsibility to ensure that this practice ceases.

Respectfully

John Kowalko

I’m sure the rowdy bunch over at Kilroy’s will say I am doing my master’s bidding since they seem to think Kowalko owns me, which is so far removed from the truth it’s not even funny.  There are numerous issues I disagree with Kowalko on, but when it comes to education we align.

As Rep. Kim Williams House Bill 186 (charter school post-audit with the State Auditor) is supposed to get a vote on Tuesday  June 30th, and hopefully Rep. Debbie Hudson’s House Bill 61 (mandatory school board recordings) is put to a vote, and rules are suspended for each, along with Kowalko’s proposed amendment to the budget, we can start to see some legislative oversight and transparency over Delaware charter schools.  It all depends on how quick the Delaware Charter Schools Network and Kendall Massett can get their people down to Legislative Hall on Tuesday…

 

House Bill 61 Needs A House Vote! My Letter To Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf and Why You Should Email Him Too!

House Bill 61 would make all public school boards, including charter and  vocational, record their board meetings and publish them on their website within seven business days.  This bill is very important, and it operates in the same vein as House Bill 50, the parent opt-out bill.  It would give parents and citizens major transparency into the workings of our schools.  There has never been a more urgent call for transparency in Delaware schools and parents have a right to know what is going on.  This bill just codifies this transparency right.  Please email Delaware Speaker of the House Pete Schwartzkopf at peter.schwartzkopf@state.de.us and ask him to put this on the agenda as soon as possible!

  • Today at 9:29 PM
To
  • Schwartzkopf Peter
Dear Representative and Speaker of the House Schwartzkopf,
I am writing you this evening to bring House Bill 61 to a full House vote.  This would be the third legislative session this bill has sat on the ready list with no action taken after committee.  I think this year it is essential this bill moves forward.  We have many charter schools who are or who have been under formal review.  It is very important the people of Delaware have the ability to hear what is being said at board meetings.  As I’m sure you know, the State Board of Education and many school district boards already record their meetings and make them available to the public. 
This fiscal year alone, we have serious financial mismanagements at several charter schools.  Three of them are currently under investigation at State Auditor Tom Wagner’s office, and I’ve heard there are more charters yet to be named as well as at least two school districts.  It is imperative parents know the full scope of what is going on in our schools so we can make the best possible choices for our children.  Unfortunately, most parents are not able to attend board meetings, but this bill would allow them the capability of making the time to listen to the decisions being made at all of our schools.  
I attend many meetings where they are recorded, and it is often necessary to go back and listen again to understand the full scenario on certain issues.  Parents want this.  Some don’t even know they want this yet.  But the day may come when their child’s school is under investigation, or parents just want to know what happens at this level, and with the passage of House Bill 61, it would be a reality.  You already impressed many with your yes vote for House Bill 50, now it is time to give more to parents through transparency.  Thank you for your time,
Kevin Ohlandt 

Bleeding Hearts

I went to bed last night at 8pm.  This is very unusual for me, but I think I know why.  I was exhausted, emotionally and physically.  For months now, I’ve been writing non-stop on here, hoping for change.  I woke up at 2:10am this morning, came downstairs, and caught up on some reading.  I go to work at 6am, and I knew I wouldn’t be falling back asleep.  There was something more to all of this though.  My subconscious was well aware of something.

Two years ago, I woke up to the phone ringing.  It was 3:30am in the morning.  I knew exactly why the phone rang and what it meant.  I wasn’t at my house, I was up at my parents house in Pennsylvania.  That phone ringing meant only one thing.  My mother passed away.

She was on hospice in her home, and my father was taking care of her.  She didn’t want to pass anywhere else, with machines and tubes.  She had been ill for a very long time.  I knew the end was coming, which was why I went up there a few days prior.  I’ve always had a sense for this type of thing.  I’ve never been sure if that was a blessing or a curse.

I went downstairs and my oldest brother just looked at me and said “She’s gone.”  I heard my father on the phone talking to the hospice nurse who would soon be coming over.

I went outside about fifteen minutes ago, and I watched as the blue-green-orange hue started to come up in the east.  Above me, the stars were shining bright in the night sky.  It was quiet and peaceful.  These are the times when I think of my mom the most, when there is nothing else distracting me.

My mom and I are a lot alike.  We both have a very deep passion for the things that bother us.  We also fight like hell for our kids.  She taught me that.  But she also taught me it isn’t just about your own home, it’s about the world that we live in.  We all have a responsibility in this world, to be what we are supposed to be.  We fail at this constantly.  And we never know what this purpose is, I guess, until we drift into the afterlife, into the arms of whatever we believe in the most.

Sometimes I can feel my mom watching over me.  I remember over a year ago when I was going back and forth whether to tell my son’s story on Kilroy’s Delaware.  I knew it would be a bold thing to do, and once I did it I could never go back.  I wrestled with this thought for weeks.  It was at one moment, when I looked over and saw it.  The sign.

A few weeks after my mom passed, I was at Lowes.  I wanted to get a particular plant my mom always loved, bleeding hearts.  I remember as a child my mom showing me how to open them up and see what’s inside.  I always thought it was one of life’s more interesting tricks.  I bought the plant, came home, and put it in a corner near my house.

The bleeding hearts didn’t fare too well that summer.  I watered them all the time and made sure they didn’t suffocate from the weeds.  By the end of the summer, the plant dried up and I saw the stem start to brown.  The bleeding hearts died.  As the summer warmth faded to fall’s crisp embrace, I mowed the lawn one day and accidentally ran over the withered corpse that had been my connection with my mom.

Seven months later, one May morning, I sat on my porch.  I hadn’t been in my backyard too much and I knew I had to mow the lawn soon.  I walked past my fence and that was when I saw it- the bleeding hearts, in full bloom.  What the plant had gone through was just the natural ebbs and tides of life.  but I took it as a sign.  I emailed Kilroy with the first part of my son’s story that evening.

I can’t explain why I do what I do.  I wrote last week about synchronicity and fate.  But what if it’s more than that?  What if this is my thing?  I will never know, but even when I am criticized and blasted by my critics, when things seem at their lowest, I still believe.  I still think things can change.  I think there is more to all of this than what we know.  We can change, we just have to come together.  We need to do this for the kids.  Not for ourselves, not for our own advancement or personal glory, but for them.  They need us.  That’s why I can’t accept all these things going on in education.  If it’s not good for kids, than it really shouldn’t be there.  We just have to find common ground to work from and really turn education into what it is meant to be.  Not just for my own son, but all of Delaware’s kids.  It’s what my mom taught me.

As the seasons pass, and the dawn leads to the day, my heart bleeds for the lost kids in our state.  I pray that we can do right for them and carry them out of the darkness.  It’s always been about them, not ourselves.

A Father’s Cry For His Son, One Year Later

Exactly one year ago today, Kilroy’s Delaware posted the first part of “A Father’s Cry For His Son”.  I can’t believe it’s been that long.  I remember what drove me to just start writing the night before.  Kilroy and I planned the whole thing for weeks.  It was just a matter of finding the right words and method.  I wanted to tell the story about my son’s years at a Delaware charter school.  As a result, I wrote fourteen very long parts of that story for over a month.  Four days later, Exceptional Delaware was born.

I look back and see things remaining the same, and some are vastly different.  It’s like a science experiment.  First you have a theory, and then you do the experiment, and then you find out if you were right or not.  Along the way you have catalysts and other factors that may affect the experiment.  Was I right?  Did my theories hold the weight of truth?  Some of them did, and others were close.  Some went way beyond what I thought they ever could be.   But to me, it’s the journey along the way.  The people you meet and the things you do.

One thing I do know for sure, but I thought at the time.  Not all charter schools are evil.  I think I realized this when Gateway Lab School was on the potential chopping block and I found myself doing everything I could to save them.  Yes, I write about the problems at many Delaware charters but I think many of those issues are systemic and could improve with the right amount of legislation, some of which arealready in the works.

Once opt-0ut and House Bill 50 are decided on, I want to get back to the basics, making life better for special needs students.  Granted, the ESEA reauthorization may take care of opt-out in one fell scoop with one of the amendments to the Senate bill.  So many of my battles will be decided on if that legislation passes.  Some will remain.  To get a good look at the bill, look at the article prior to this one from the fantastic Mercedes Schneider.  Together, her and Diane Ravitch keep me abreast of all the national education news.

With so many potential looming decisions on the horizon, it’s very important we keep the momentum going and try to figure out what’s next.  It will be a time of rebuilding and making sure the foundations are the right ones for students.  I am no expert on these matters, so I leave that to the many more than capable teachers and parents out there who have the knowledge base to do what’s right.

Take a look back at my humble beginnings a year ago today in the first part of A Father’s Cry For His Son.  I still feel like I can’t thank Kilroy enough for letting me take up so much of his blog in May 2014.  I will always be forever grateful.  They say everyone has a purpose in life.  Maybe this was mine.  History will determine that.

Kilroy’s Legislation Up For Next House Education Committee Meeting

House Bill 61, the Kilroy’s bill, would mandate all school boards must digitally record their meetings and place the audio on their website within seven business days.  I’m crossing my fingers that the third time is the charm on this one!  Come and support Kilroy’s legislation as sponsored by State Rep. Deborah Hudson on May 6th at 2:30pm!

Agenda
HB 61 AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO PUBLIC SCHOOLS.  Sponsor : Hudson

HB 96 AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO SILENT ALARM SYSTEMS IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS.  Sponsor : Miro

HB 82 AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION. Sponsor : Lynn

*agenda courtesy of http://legis.delaware.gov

The Tipping Point

A year ago today I made a resolution to myself that I would write about my son’s experiences with education in Delaware and do everything I could to educate others about the pitfalls and dangers in Delaware education.  While I didn’t start writing at this point, my mind was made up.  It wasn’t a question of what, it was just a matter of when.  To this end I started researching everything education related.

I came across a blog called Kilroy’s Delaware.  I had seen it once before, something about a meeting that was supposed to be open to the public, but they kept it closed.  But at this point in time, Kilroy was talking about all these charters up in Wilmington and which ones would close and which ones would never open.  There was a huge state board meeting in the coming week where tons of charter applications would be decided on.  I figured if anyone one knew the secrets of Delaware education, it would be him.

I emailed Kilroy and asked tons of questions.  I didn’t trust anyone at this point, and I knew asking questions would generate unwanted attention my way.  So I came up with a fake alias when I emailed Kilroy.  I started commenting on his blog as “Mage”.  Within a couple weeks, I got the general thrust of what was going on in Delaware education.  This company called the Rodel Foundation was pretty much running the show.  Their goal was to get as many charter schools into Delaware as possible.  And I learned a lot of it was linked to all these standardized tests the students had to take.

I set some goals for myself for the next year:

1) Tell my son’s story.

2) Find out all I could about Rodel.

3) Find out what the hell was wrong with special education in Delaware.

4) Find out who I could trust in the General Assembly.

5) Find the charters weak links and expose them.

6) Find out why Markell and Murphy were so hell-bent on ruining students lives with standardized testing.

7) Get as many parents as possible to opt out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment.

So here I am now, a year later.  My name has become synonomous with the words opt out.  I write this blog on a daily basis.  I found the answers but don’t have a clue how to effectively change the entire education system in Delaware.  I have made many friends and twice as many enemies.  My son is not better off than he was a year ago.  If anything, his situation is worse.  It’s time for change, for everyone.  Including myself.

Over the past year, I’ve let life slip by.  My mind has been consumed by all things Delaware education, and I lost focus on what makes me, well, me.  This happens often in all our lives.  We get caught up in something, and it becomes the central point of our lives.  But for me, and several folks like me, this can pose a considerable danger.

When I was a child, I was diagnosed as attention-deficit hyperactive disorder.  I remember always being hyper as a child, but I never understood why.  Then, one day in high school, it just stopped.  The hyperactivity just disappeared.  I remember thinking, I don’t have to be like that, and I wasn’t.  But just because the hyperactivity was gone, it didn’t mean the attention deficit wasn’t.

I am a person who easily loses focus.  If I concentrate on one thing, I’m good.  But everyone has “other” things they have to do.  For folks with ADD, this can be a big problem.  It takes an extreme amount of hard work and dedication to get everything straight, and that’s what I need to do.

I’m not done blogging, but you just might not see as much of it is as you are used to.  I need to get other stuff straightened out, and fast.  This is also why I understand my son’s struggles, as well as others.  It’s not always just about the most extreme disabilities.  The “smaller” ones can cause just as much stress and confusion.

Kilroy Will Be Happy With House Bill 61 But Only If The Transparency Gods Allow It To Get To A Vote!

Delaware State Representative Deborah Hudson has once again introduced a bill which would demand ALL school boards in Delaware digitally record their board meetings and make them available to the public.  It was also introduced in the 147th General Assembly as House Bill 23, but was never put out for a vote.  So let’s do the time warp again and pray this bill gets a full vote by the House and Senate and passes!  With all of the shenanigans made public by various charter schools in the past year, this is needed and transparency needs to rule the day as Kilroy would say.  I think this bill has much stronger muscle in the House this time, but the Senate will need some work.

What is interesting is who sponsored it last time and who is doing so now. We have Hudson and Karen Peterson as a co-sponsor.  Dukes, Baumbach and Kim Williams from the House stayed on.  From the Senate we have just Greg Lavelle.  Gone as sponsors from the House in House Bill 23 are D. Short, Miro, Peterman, Mitchell, Bennett, and Wilson; and from the Senate, Hocker, Simpson and Townsend have left.  But House Bill 61 does have new sponsors from the House: Briggs King, Hensley, Yearick, Bolden, Jaques, Lynn, Matthews, Osienski and Paradee, and the Senate: Bonini.

The actual wording on the bill looks the same as House Bill 23.  The only additional language is the part about executive sessions, workshops and retreats not being included as their are no votes at these sessions.

Mark Murphy and the horrible, terrible, no good day

Just imagine being Mark Murphy today.  Having all that bad news heaped upon him today.  It can’t be easy being Delaware’s Secretary of Education.  I have to imagine what his day must have been like today…

Mark arrived late at the office.  He explained to his administrative assistant why he was half an hour late. “There I am, driving down Route 1.  Beautiful sunrise, nice weather.  John Kowalko called me with questions about opt out.  Every time I tried to talk he cut me off.  Half an hour later, he’s still going.  I had to take it off blue tooth.  That’s when he nabbed me and I got a ticket.” “How fast were you going?” she asked.  “I wasn’t going too fast, I was going too slow.  I was going 35 in a 65.”

Mark went to his morning meetings and went over the agenda for the State Board meeting.  He spilled some coffee all over his brand-new white shirt when Penny Schwinn came running in with big news.  Mark read the news and his face turned pale, as if someone had taken his favorite pair of glasses.  Then his wife called.  “Mark, I just heard.  Are you okay?”  “No, I’m not okay.  Two years in a row.  How come I’m not in the top ten?”  “Mark, are you okay?  What are you talking about?  Have you been doing those Smarter Balanced interim tests again?”  “No, it’s Holodick.  I’m the Secretary of the whole gosh-darn Delaware education system, and he’s still making $45,000 more than me.  It just isn’t right.  And those not nice bloggers keep saying he will replace me one day.  Will he get to keep his salary then?”  “Maybe you’ll get his job honey.  It would be closer to home.  But that’s not what I called about.  It’s this article in Newsworks…”

Mrs. Murphy was cut off by the director of the Teacher and Leader Effectiveness Unit.  “Boss, holy crap, you gotta be pissed!  I’ll show those #@$%ing teachers!  I think it’s time for Operation Human Capital Drop!”  “Christopher Ruszkowsi, good gracious, I’m on the phone with my wife.  Can you come back at another time?”  “Sure Murph, I’ll come back in five.”  Murphy just stared at him as the “Rus Man” gave an enthusiastic thumbs up leaving the office.

“Sorry honey, what were you calling about?”  “On Newsworks, they reported…”  This time it was David Blowman, his Deputy Secretary.  “Mark, my friend, I’m so sorry.  We need to do a root-cause analysis and find out who put them up to this.”  “David, I’m on the line with Mrs….”  “Oh dear heavens Mark, I’m so sorry.  I will embark immediately.”  The coffee on Mark’s shirt was still seeping down his shirt.

“I’m going to have to call you back,” as Mark abruptly said his goodbyes.  This had been a hell of a morning, and all he wanted to do was crawl back into bed and watch “Common Core for Common People Part 9: The Commonalities of Common Teachers.”  He missed it the other night when Earl Jaques kept calling him asking for advice on how to handle the media.  Ruszkowski ran into his office again, “Holy crap Murph, your supposed to have green clothes on St. Patrick’s Day, not spill it on your shirt!”  Mark just stared at him.  “What, I was just messing around Boss!  Anyways, you know I got your back on this.  I’m gonna TFA their schools like we’ve never seen before.  I got an ad on Craigslist as we speak!  And we are going to lower the requirement from 5 weeks to 3 weeks to get them in faster.”  “But that’s not in regulation Christopher, we can’t just…”  “Sure we can, we’ve done it before.  Remember that time when we…”

Karen Field Rogers, his Associate Secretary of Financial Reform and Resource Management came into his office.  “Mark, I think you spilled some coffee on…”  “Yeah, the Boss doesn’t really have the luck of the Irish today!” Ruszkowski shouted.  “What can I do for you Karen?”  “I just got off the phone with Rep. Hudson.  She’s going to need us to do a cursive study.  Do we have any funds left from Race To The Top to do an RFP for a contractor on this?” she asked.  “I don’t know.  Call Herdman, he controls all that.”  “But Mark, Jack wants this out there right away.   He think this might turn the tide with the opt out movement and distract parents from the blogs.”  “Better call Paul!” Ruszkowsi shouted.  Mark looked at them both, his cheeks as red as John Young’s Red Pen editions on Transparent Christina.  “Look, I have to run out to Target.  I’ll handle it when I get back.”

Mark drove down to Target.  He was in such a hurry, he didn’t realize he parked in a handicapped spot.  As he ran into the store, he accidentally ran into a little boy.  As he helped him up, the boy sneezed in his face.  “Can this day get any worse?” Mark asked himself.  He got to the checkout line with a new white shirt.  The cashier was on her cell phone saying “Oh my God, I can’t believe it.”  Mark looked at her and asked “Is everything alright ma’am?”  “Yeah, I’m on Exceptional Delaware, and they just announced the DSEA voted for no confidence in that Mark Murphy guy.”  “Don’t you mean the CEA and RCEA?”  “No, that was last week.  This just came out today.  Sorry, let me ring you up.”  Mark reached for his wallet, but it wasn’t there.  He remembered he left it on the dashboard when he got his ticket.  “I’ll be right back, I left my wallet in my car.”  “I can’t keep this order open.  What’s your name?”  Murphy said “Never mind” and ran out.

He noticed a police officer standing over his car, writing something.  “Officer, is everything okay?”  “Sir, you parked in a handicapped space but you don’t have the plates or even the placard.  I have to give you a ticket.”  “You do realize I’m a high-level official in this state?” Murphy asked the officer.  “Oh are you?  This isn’t something you can just ignore or shake it off.”  Mark recognized the face immediately.  It was that Dover cop who did the Taylor Swift lip-synch video on Youtube.  How could he ever forget?  His children played the video non-stop the weekend it was released.  “I am the Secretary of Education Sir.”  “Oh, so you want to opt out of getting a ticket.  But that could affect funding,” as the cop laughed.  “Here you go Mr. Secretary.  By the way, it looks like you spilled some coffee on your shirt.”

Mark went back into the store, got another shirt, and the only cashier available was the one he went to before.  “Oh, you found your wallet!”  Mark gave her his card.  “Can I see some ID?”  Mark showed her his license.  “Hey, are you the same Mark Murphy as the DOE guy?”  “Yes I am.”  “That has to bite, having all those teachers saying you suck.”  “I haven’t read the article yet.”  “I still have Exceptional Delaware up on my iPad.  Do you want to read it?”  Mark muttered under his breath.  The last thing he wanted to do was read Exceptional Damn Delaware.  This blogger had been a thorn in his side for nine months, after dealing with Kilroys and the rest all those years.  “I’m good.”

Mark stopped by WaWa, changed into his new shirt in the bathroom.  As he came out, Donna Johnson, the executive director of the State Board saw him.  “Mark, are you okay?  I just left the building and everyone said you were really upset about the whole DSEA article.”  “I’m okay, we will get through this.  How is everyone else doing?”  “What are you talking about Mark?  It was just you.  They didn’t give the DOE and the State Board a vote of no confidence.  It was just you.”  Mark stared at Donna and felt his world spinning around him.  Since the bathroom doors are right next to the service door, Mark wasn’t paying attention when a delivery man pushed the door open with a cart causing the door to swing into Mark.  Mark felt the lights go out around him.

He woke up in a bright room.  Everything was blurry.  Mark went to push his glasses up, but they weren’t there.  He heard a voice.  “Murph.  You’re up.  Hot damn, you are a mess!”  It was Ruszkowski.  “Where am I?”  “You’re at Bayhealth.  You passed out in WaWa man!  Donna called me.  She’s in the next room.”  “What happened to her?” Mark asked.  “She hit her head against a Twinkie display when you pushed her down.  She’ll be okay, only a couple stitches.”  Mark went to get up, but he couldn’t move.  “Don’t try to get up Boss.  You’ll be in traction for a couple days.  You actually broke your ass Murph!”  Ruszkowski kept talking about how he talked to Paul and Laurissa about getting some TFA action going immediately in light of the DSEA announcement.  “In fact, there’s a new bill to get another year extension.  Can you believe that Boss?  Those *&%$ing legislators think they know more about education than we do.  Anyways, I gotta get back.  I know Jack is waiting to see you.”

Murphy started smiling.  Jack always had a way of making him feel better.  He looked outside, and it was dark out.  How long had he been unconscious?  Jack came in.  “Mark, Mark, Mark.  This isn’t good.  You made more news today than you’ve had during your entire tenure as my Secretary.”  Mark wanted to cry.  “I’m going to have to temporarily replace you while you mend.”  “Who do you have in mind Jack?” Murphy asked.  “I was thinking about Mark Holodick…”  Murphy screamed.  An endless scream.  It was heard by children down the street at Dover South Elementary School.  Priests came running out from Holy Cross across the street.  As Murphy stopped, Jack looked at Mark.  “Can I get you some coffee?”  Murphy screamed again…

Aside from Kilroy, has Earl Jaques responded to anyone else about his offensive comments?

I know several people who emailed or called Delaware State Rep. Earl Jaques about his extremely offensive comments about parents who opt their kids out of standardized assessments.  Has he responded to any of you?  I know he hasn’t responded to anything I have said.  I guess I am too far below him…

Kilroy posted a very long article today about parent opt out and how it is an agenda for some who are utilizing it to help themselves.  He was not talking about parents, so let’s not rush to hang Kilroy!  But as part of the article, Kilroy wrote that he spoke with Delaware State Rep. Earl Jaques about parent opt out:

Rep Jaques, I enjoyed our sidebar chat after the combined board meeting. I know you mean well but now it the time to be a leader not a follower. Markell is playing legislators to save his own political ass. Work with the parents, teachers, schools and other legislators to plan for a future that will seen an implosion of the current wrongheaded Washington / Markell agenda. You represent the people not the governor ! 

While Kilroy and I agree with many of the reasons he is speaking out like this, I do not think Earl Jaques meant well at all with his comments in a public newspaper.  I think he meant to condescend and offend parents who know their children better than anyone in pursuit of God knows what with Governor Markell.  I had a very long response to Kilroy’s article, which you can see here: https://kilroysdelaware.wordpress.com/2015/03/14/delaware-testing-opt-out-the-lies-and-hidden-agenda/#comment-64186

While some may think it is best for the opt out movement for Jaques to keep talking, which I partly agree with, I don’t think he should be the Chair of the House Education Committee which will be in session very soon to discuss House Bill 50 which would legally give parents the right to opt their child out of the state assessment.  So I will continue my iPetition:

http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/we-want-delaware-state-rep-earl-jaques-to-step

Kilroy’s Delaware Will Have A HUGE Story Coming In The Next Couple Days

I’m hearing snippets of snippets that Kilroy’s Delaware will be posting a VERY BIG story about education in Delaware very soon.  He’s dropped cryptic hints in his usual Kilroy style for a while now, but I would pay very close attention to this blog in the next 24-48 hours.

All I can say is that it involves a test…